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Thread: ClicheStorm 2 (PG-13)

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    Chapter 10: An Unlikely Prison

    April 28
    Aspertia

    It took another week of training, but Rosa was able to return to Aspertia and defeat Cheren. She had gotten two of her four Pokemon over the level that Nate had won at, so it was actually an easy battle. This time, none of her Pokemon got knocked out. Cheren actually laughed at that. “Well your team has improved fast.”

    “We worked really hard,” Rosa said, trying not to blush too much.

    “I can tell,” he said. “Just be careful to not work your Pokemon too hard. Still, yours seem happy and healthy, so you should be okay. And for your fine work, you have also earned the Basic Badge.”

    “Thank you,” Rosa said as he passed over the gold badge to her. Was he really impressed with her? Maybe she’d gotten her chance to catch his eye now.

    “Both of you are ready to move on then,” Cheren said (instead, to her slight disappointment). “If you head on past Flocessy, you’ll arrive at Virbank. There’s another Gym there, so you should try your skills there. Just remember, as you keep earning badges, the challenges you get from Gym Leaders will get tougher and tougher. But I think with the respect you get from badges, you can get more people willing to talk to you both about what you’re searching for.”

    “And we need to be exploring many places, so it’s good to continue with the League along the way,” Nate said.

    Cheren nodded. “Of course. Well, keep in contact. I’ll be keeping an eye on how you two are doing, but it’s always best to hear it from you personally. Take care.”

    “Yeah, we’ll send along any news we get about your friend,” Rosa said, trying to find something to cover her disappointment. “You take care too. Come on, let’s go!” She ran off out of the schoolyard.

    Back on the street, Nate caught up with her. “Hey, what is it?”

    She thought about saying nothing. He was a boy, after all, and boys didn’t always get it. But, this was Nate. She turned to him. “I was so sure that he’d like me even more after I won against him. But I don’t think it changed all that much.”

    “I’m sure he does respect you more,” Nate said. “And you haven’t really said anything to him about how you feel, right? Maybe he just doesn’t realize it.”

    “Maybe,” Rosa said, calming down at his words. “Or, is it because I only have one badge? Because he could go and become the League Champion right now if he wanted to. Well maybe not right now, now that he has to run the Gym here. But he’s that good… maybe if I can earn eight badges too, then he’d see me in a different light and I could safely tell him how I feel.”

    “That's not exactly what I meant,” Nate said.

    Rosa ignored him. “So that’s it. I’ll keep my Pokemon happy and strong, and then he’ll fall in love with me. Okay, let’s do it!”

    Nate chuckled and shook his head. “If that’s what you think. But yes, let’s head on to Virbank.”

    -+-

    April 29
    Virbank City

    The three towns of Aspertia, Flocessy, and Virbank were fairly close together. Since they started out from Aspertia in the afternoon, they had to spend the night in Flocessy, then head down Route 20 to reach Virbank in the early afternoon. In the gatehouses, Rosa was excited to see her victory being announced on the electronic bulletin. It didn’t state her name, but it did say that a Trainer from Aspertia had defeated the Aspertia Gym Leader Cheren on the day that she had won. It was the only such announcement on the board, though.

    “They used to do a daily battle report there, and on the internet,” Rosa said. “And some days, there would be dozens of wins to report. But in the past few years, participation in the League has dropped.”

    “I read about that,” Nate said. “Seems like people are still influenced by Team Plasma’s ideals, even after they came apart.”

    She nodded. “At least it seems the decent ideals came through, like treating Pokemon better. Hey, you think maybe if we do good enough, then we can spur on more interest in the League again? It seems sad that something that was a big part of everyone’s lives and talk is still on a decline.”

    He shrugged. “Maybe. It might take more than just two people. But then, we could set a good example that others will want to follow.”

    “That sounds like a wonderful idea.” She grinned in excitement, clapping her hands together. “So we’ve got to do really well here too! Great, I’ll have to… ack!” She stumbled as she was trying to walk backwards, falling onto the floor.

    “You have to watch where you’re going,” Nate said, giving her a teasing smile as he offered her a hand up.

    “Oh, don’t make fun of me,” she said, but that didn’t break her happiness for long.

    Virbank was different from the other two towns he had seen, Nate quickly realized. It was very industrial. Large factories surrounded the town. Concrete walkways and roads took up much of the space, leaving only small patches of grass amid the houses and buildings. Not too far away, there were docks with large cranes in sight. Heading down the road, they found that they were on a raised walkway above the harbor, hence why so much was trying to cram into this small area.

    The Pokecenter was a short walk from the gatehouse, but before they could get in, a pair coming out of the center made them stop. “Get real,” the woman of the pair said sharply. She had white hair that was pulled up on top of her head, but she had the face of someone in her twenties. “You have an important job to do.”

    “You do as well,” the man said, with gray hair and definitely looking older than her. He wore a hat that seemed nautical, a mock-off of a navy captain's hat (or maybe it was that). “If you can lead a band and run a Gym, then who's to say that I can't run a ferry and be a movie star?”

    “I can make time for both! But people depend on you to get to and from here. You're going to cause a lot of trouble in delaying the ferry.”

    “But I'm not the only ferry, just busiest right now. It'll be fine; the others can pick up the slack. I'm after my dreams.” He waved and headed off down the street.

    “Argh!” the woman growled, clenching a fist to her chest. “You dim-witted... dense... dumb... daft... dippy... dorky... doltish DOFUS! Doing double duty isn't the problem! You're causing problems for people! Keeping people from getting where they're going because of sheer selfishness is unforgivable! I've HAD it! I'm going to the Gym!” And she strode off without noticing them.

    “Whoa,” Rosa said. “Uh, can't they have the drama inside?”

    “Do you remember what we talked about after you got the badge?” Nate reminded her. “Back in the street?”

    “Ooooo...” she blushed, then brushed loose strands of hair aside. “Fine, I suppose you can't really plan drama. But they're adults; they should have it settled by the time we get around to the Gym.”

    He shrugged. “Who knows? Let's see what's around town, so we can figure out how to plan the next few weeks.”

    They found some stores past the Pokecenter, but much of this town was taken up by docks, warehouses, and small factories. At the north end of town, there was a gatehouse that led to Pokestar Studios, but they weren't allowed past. There was a preschool where children and Pokemon played, but that wasn't like the school in Aspertia where there would be Trainers their age. While there was also a regular school, it seemed to be smaller and not much suited for battles.

    A place that was suited for battles, even suggested by locals, was Virbank Complex, an area in and around where an oil refinery was located. Surprisingly, there was a large amount of grassy lots there and much of it was open for Trainers to battle or look for wild Pokemon. A few areas weren't public, but they were clearly marked as such. Overhead, there were large pipes crossing between various containers; it seemed like it might been be possible to walk over them.

    There was one building near the entrance that was blocked off, but in an unusual manner. It was taped off with bright yellow caution tape. A worker was standing there, taking photos. Feeling curious, Rosa went closer to the building. “Excuse me, but what's going on with this place?”

    “Hmm?” He looked up, then back to the building. “It's coming down. Not today, and it's not all that dangerous, so don't worry about being around it.”

    “Why's it coming down if it's not dangerous?” she asked.

    “You'd know if you went inside, but I don't recommend that,” the worker said. “It's been a magnet for bad luck, which is understandable. See this place, there were two legendary Pokemon that had been captured and held here for decades. And it just got worse when they were discovered, as whatever...” he waved a hand a bit, “bad spirit about it, if you'll excuse the term, was released instead of being pent up. I didn't believe in superstitions before, but it's giving everyone the creeps.”

    So that was where...? Rosa shivered. “Oh, I see.”

    “They were found two years ago,” Nate pointed out. “Why did it get left up?”

    “We wanted to be rid of it once we realized that it was bad business.” He shook his head. “But there were complications about who really owned the place and where he was. They found a bones a few months back and it's only been recently confirmed to be this guy, Umber. With that, we could finally get rid of it.”

    “And we could go in there, if we wanted?” Nate asked.

    “If you wanted, yes, but really, I don't recommend it unless you've got nerves of steel,” the worker said, then moved on with his assessment.

    “You're not seriously thinking of going in there, are you?” Rosa asked, worried and a little scared. What if it turned out that Nate was Keldeo's reborn form? It was weird that one of the legendary swordmon Pokemon would be reborn as a human, and it didn't quite match up to Nate's memory. But, his memory wasn't reliable and if it turned out that he was, then going back in there would surely trigger a bad flashback.

    “Well Hilda's disappearance is related to what's going on with Keldeo,” he said, a lot calmer about it that she was. “I might see something in there.”

    “It might be horrible! And you'd get a headache out of it too.”

    To that, Nate just smiled warmly at her. “Thanks for being worried, but I can’t let that stop me. Still, if I did see something, the side effects would knock me out for the rest of the day. Maybe we'll train around the complex until evening and then go in.”

    Go in that place with bad spirits, at night? Somehow, that didn't seem like a much better idea. “I don't like the sound of that.”

    “It's better to know then to turn away in fear.” And with that, he seemed to feel that the issue was settled.

    The few hours they got in training their Pokemon were tough, but worth it. The wild Pokemon here were much stronger than those on the routes. Not only that, but there was a Poison type living in the complex, the Koffing, so that gave Rosa a preview of what they'd be fighting against. Unfortunately, it seemed that Angel was going to have a hard time with it, as the poison really hurt her. Even her leaf cloak had started to wilt after the battle was over. It made her heart seem to ache seeing the Sewaddle shudder like that, so she had hurried back to the Pokecenter to clear that up. Fortunately, Bard, Finn, and River were strong enough to take out to few Koffings Rosa had come across.

    In the evening, when the lights all over the complex were bright enough to block out the stars, they met back up at the entrance to the doomed building. There was a handle which seemed out of place, given that the whole wall had been plastered smooth at one point. Nate didn't seem to be afraid; neither did Ruby, as the Tepig snuffled around the door, checking the place out. Angel was half asleep on Rosa's shoulder due to the sun setting and Bard never seemed down for long. As for Finn, it was hard to tell with is default fierce face markings. The Basculin swam in place, watching them to see what they were going to do.

    But Rosa still felt nervous about entering. And, so did River. The Riolu tugged at Rosa's black leggings, leaning away from the building and looking up at her with wide eyes. She pointed to the building and shook her head.

    “River doesn't think this is a good idea either,” Rosa said.

    “The guy said it wasn't dangerous,” he reminded her. “And it's not like they've begun the demolition process. There's likely nothing but memories in there, but those memories might be ones I need.”

    “Memories of when two Pokemon were held captive against their will. With the way memories affect you, that could be trouble.”

    Nate looked back at her. “I appreciate the concern, but I’d have to check out this place sooner or later. I could just go in with my Pokemon if you want to stay out of it.”

    “Hmph, you don't have to be rude about it. Okay, okay, but if you get that look on your face, I’m pulling you out.” She looked down at River. “It is odd for her to seem spooked. She's so calm and stoic most of the time.”

    “The Pokedex says that she can read auras, so old feelings might linger and be visible to her,” Nate said, opening the door. “Snapper, come on.”

    From nearby, the Mareep stood still. His eyes were closed. “I think he fell asleep again,” Rosa said.

    “Great,” Nate said sarcastically, taking out a Pokeball and recalling the Mareep. Snapper seemed to have lost much of his enthusiasm once they beat Cheren. The past few days, he didn't even want to walk around with Nate and Ruby. “I’ve got to find a better way to motivate him. Well, let's go.” He walked in after Ruby and switched a nearby light switch.

    For some reason, the electricity was still on for this building. One light was out, but they could see most of the interior. It was an empty office building where nothing had been left behind. Being empty and now devoid of purpose, it should have been non-threatening. Maybe it was to Nate and three of the Pokemon (four, since Angel seemed fully asleep). But it made Rosa's hairs stand on end. River stayed close to her, looking around as if she suspected something dangerous might be around.

    The second floor was even more empty, without interior walls. There were some ominous looking metal things on the floor and ceiling, but they were inactive and still. But the feeling of something being wrong was even stronger here. In this place, Rosa could imagine being locked up or tied down in helplessness, knowing there was an entire city outside but that the chances of being noticed were extremely slim. How could anyone be so mean to a Pokemon? Not even considering how special they had been. She turned aside and rubbed at her eyes, not wanting Nate to notice that she was tearing up at the thought.

    In the meantime, Nate had stepped into the large rectangle made by the metal strips on the floor. “Possibly an energy barrier, useless now,” he said. Then he closed his eyes and was motionless.

    For a worryingly long time. Rosa wanted to leave, but she didn't want to leave him alone there. “Are you getting anything?”

    “Not like before, but it's like there's something at the edge of my notice,” he said. “Maybe another spot...”

    River suddenly barked, startling because she didn't often make noise. The two teens both looked at her, pointing to a spot on the wall. Over there, it was just a white wall. Or was it? Something changed and a Pokemon appeared there. It was humanoid but small, with green hair spilling over part of her face and a black covering over her body like a dress. With her hands clasped near her chest, she spoke without moving her lips. “What are you doing here? This is a terrible place. I wouldn't come in if I didn't sense you.”

    “Are you... Meloetta?” Nate asked.

    She nodded and put her hands down. “Yes, that's me. What are you doing here?”

    Since she was one of the legends, he explained what they were doing. Rosa nodded slowly at the end of it. “Yeah, he wanted to come even thought I tried to talk him out of it. This place is spooky.”

    “I suppose if you were searching for someone, you would need to look at important places, even tragic ones,” Meloetta said. “I do not know about Hilda, but I know that something has happened to Kyurem.”

    “What happened with him?” Nate asked.

    “The past winter was mild, with lots of rain.” She shook her head. “I don't know what, but something has muffled his powers. When I think on him, I sense a great sadness and loneliness. It is strange coming from him; I looked and couldn't find him.”

    “We're looking for Keldeo too, since Hilda was looking for him,” Rosa said, reminding her of that part of Nate's story.

    Meloetta put her hand to her cheek. “Are you? But Keldeo is here.”

    “Why would he still be here?” Nate asked. “We haven't seen him.”

    “Uhh,” she looked down, lost in thought for a moment. “Keldeo... maybe he has not yet remembered who he is. You seem to be close. Please, be kind to him.” Then Meloetta vanished, apparently not wanting to stay in this place any longer then she had to.

    -+-

    May 2

    Keldeo had been with them. Nate thought over that for the next few days while he worked on training his Pokemon. Maybe he was living as another Pokemon? If he stayed as the same type, then there was Bard, Finn, and River to consider. Finn didn't seem like anything special; he seemed battle-thirsty for being on Rosa's team, bored if he wasn't in a fight. Bard seemed too carefree and silly, while River was composed and serious about keeping in good shape. That is, save for when she'd been spooked about going in the building. Then again, that made the Riolu more likely than the Oshawott or Basculin.

    But he might not even be of the same type. That gave potential to Rosa's other Pokemon Angel and his two in Snapper and Ruby. Angel seemed like a stretch, being shy and easily scared, but that might be a result of what happened to Keldeo in his last incarnation. Ruby had the kind of loyalty and drive one might expect from the legends he was reading at night. As for Snapper...

    Nate was almost certain that it wasn't Snapper. Once he'd been taken off the ranch, the Mareep proved to be lazy and troublesome. It was a disappointment, as Nate had seen him defeat the other Mareep in their games of strength and Snapper did all right in some battles. But most of the time he was like he was now, staying in one spot in the shorter grass to munch on it, not even motivated enough to take more than a couple of steps to get to more grass. Besides, Snapper had been in his Pokeball when they spoke with Meloetta. Only the fact that the Pokeball was there made him a possibility.

    “Snapper, you're falling behind,” Nate told him. “If you're not going to be serious, I'll take you back to Flocessy Ranch and release you there. We need you to cooperate.”

    “Meeehh,” Snapper replied, not moving.

    Ruby snorted in irritation. Whatever the Mareep had said didn't sit well with her.

    Did he try to break through to Snapper and get his friendship? Or should he just try again with another Pokemon? Nate was leaning strongly towards the latter, and he had a good idea of what he wanted. “Okay, then.” He recalled Snapper, then headed into the grassy areas further from the path. Going deeper into the area led to stronger Pokemon, he had noticed. If he could find a Audino, they seemed unusually happy to act as a sparring partner to others. One had even tossed a berry at Ruby to help heal her so she didn't get knocked out too quickly.

    Further in, he ran into a lot of the same Pokemon: Koffings, Growlithes, Magbies, Patrats, and even a couple of Grimers. But then he saw three of what he was looking for, Magnemites. Nate wanted to watch them like he had with the Mareep (the best he could do without save-scumming and RNG counting available), but the three Pokemon noticed him too quickly. They flew over, but then seemed to be in a bit of squabble about who would fight.

    “Hey, you three,” he said. “Yeah, I’m looking to capture one of you, but I need a Pokemon who's willing to travel across Unova with me and work hard with us. I'll treat you like I do anyone, but I definitely don't want any slackers around.”

    “Gruh, ge,” Ruby said, wagging her tail. Hopefully speaking for him too.

    With that said, one of the Magnemites backed off, going elsewhere. The two who remained decided to attack him at once, causing Ruby to hurry ahead to get him out of range of the battle. Nate brought Snapper back out. “Ruby, Flame Charge one of them. Snapper, follow up with Thunder Wave... don't go to sleep now.”

    But the Mareep didn't seem that interested. Why was he such a problem? He didn't have the collar of the ranch Pokemon. Maybe he had been captured before and had a bad experience with it. But then, Snapper hadn't been troubled when he'd brought out a Pokeball to catch him. Or had he, and Nate just didn't notice?

    At any rate, Ruby picked a target and knocked it right out. Nate expected something like that, but hoped for something else. Snapper didn't do anything, so Ruby did the same attack on the other Magnemite. This one squeaked at the attack, getting knocked back in the air a couple of feet. But it came back, still floating as it used a small electric attack at the Tepig. If his memory was right, that was the one he wanted. He had picked up some Great Balls earlier, so used one of them just to make sure the capture went right.

    “I feel like calling it Argent,” Nate said, retrieving the ball. Then he looked back at Snapper, who had not moved from his spot to nibble at some grass. “Do you even care? Well let's get back to the Pokecenter.”

    He called over to Rosa and told her he was going for a walk elsewhere for a few hours. She seemed to be all right with that, more focused on training her Pokemon. At the Pokecenter, he healed up the Pokemon and then had to use the public PC there to release Snapper. Supposedly there were tools that could allow one to release a Pokemon anywhere, but he had no idea where one would buy something like that. The program that ran the Storage Boxes could be used for that purpose, and that was free.

    After the bond was broken, Snapper reappeared near the computer. Nate wondered for a moment how he should say goodbye to him. While he wasn't that cooperative, he had still helped against Cheren. “Well you're free now, but I’ll keep my word and go with you back to the ranch. Shall we go?”

    “Baah,” the Mareep said, shaking himself.

    He took a few steps towards the door. “Please?”

    Thankfully, Snapper followed him out of the Pokecenter, along with Ruby and Argent. The latter two seemed to be chatting, based on how they reacted to each other's oinks and buzzes. It struck him as being odd, knowing that Ruby had knocked out the other Magnemite in one hit and nearly got this one too but then seeing Argent acting playfully towards her. He would dip and bob at her in the air, bopping her in the side. She would squeal, then run around in circles trying to bop him back while also trying to keep up with Nate. From observing her for the past couple of months, he knew she was having a good time from her alert but pleased expression.

    On the other hand, Snapper did his best to ignore them. Once they were past the gatehouse, he stopped a few feet out and started eating grass. Nate tried to call to him, but he wouldn't budge. “Well, you are free to do what you want. Take care of yourself.” Then he went back to the complex to get back to training.

    But he had to wonder if he hadn't made a mistake somewhere, and what that mistake had been.

    -+-

    Snapper the Mareep stayed by the gatehouse; grass was good pretty much anywhere, even if it tasted a little different in each location. At one time, he thought he'd wanted to go on a journey with some young Trainer in order to get stronger and see the world. After all, it was what every other young Pokemon around him wanted. He had even rough-housed with others to be a strong one that would be picked out above the others. And it had worked with Nate.

    But then he'd underestimated how much work it was to be a battling Pokemon. Nate was a nice guy and that almost made up for it. He was also a serious kid, and thus had drilled him and Ruby in many fights. At first, Snapper had tried his best. But it just wasn't any fun now that he was a Trainer's Pokemon. He began to wish for lazy days at the ranch, where the sun was warm and there wasn't anything to do but munch on grass and enjoy the weather. After he had helped to defeat a Gym, his motivation to keep battling just bottomed out. This wasn't the life for him.

    At least he was now free to do what he wanted. He didn't even have to return to the ranch, which would be nice as there would be less competition from other Mareep and less questions of why he was back. While the lack of sneaking into the barn in bad weather was a downer, he might just hang around out here until autumn. Or even winter.

    “Look look, it's a Mareep!” a little boy said, running closer to him. “Do you think I can catch it?”

    “It might belong to someone,” a woman with him said.

    “But there's nobody out here,” the boy said, coming right in front of his face.

    So Snapper spit at him. It made the boy cry, but he didn't much care. He simply moved a short ways off and resumed eating.

    -+-

    Virbank
    May 19

    The weather was rough that day, with winds whipping up the waves around the dock area. Despite that, Rosa went down to get a closer look at the sea. Her brown hair was threatening to come out of the looped ponytails that she wore every day and the salt water spattered over her clothes despite her raincoat. Where many other girls wouldn't have been happy, it gave Rosa a thrill to be in the middle of it all. The only one of her Pokemon that didn't love it (that was Bard) or didn't mind it (that was River and Finn) was Angel, who tried to hide from the storm against Rosa's neck. So she recalled her and walked along the dock paths with her other three.

    Ahead of her, Bard was twirling around and singing in the wind, slowing down in his spinning but then falling backwards into the water. Rosa laughed. “You definitely meant to do that!” she called, kneeling down and offering him a hand out. The water droplets from the larger waves hit her face, but it felt nice. Then the wind gusted through the lower portion of Virbank, pushing her over backwards as she pulled Bard out. “Whoa! Ha ha, no fair wind!”

    There was another roar as the gust continued, grabbing her visor and flipping it down the dock. Rosa scrambled to her feet to chase after it, but River did a face palm and then dashed after it faster than Rosa could run. Still, even the Riolu didn't get the visor; something else did.

    They caught up to see what had gotten her visor: it looked like a large blob of pink jelly sprawled on the dock. But it definitely had a tentacle that clung to the visor, and black eyes that opened up to look at them. “Oh, is it a jellyfish?” Rosa asked. “Or a jellyfish Pokemon? I've heard of them. You must've gotten blown up from the storm, but... you seem kinda cool. Hey, can I capture you? I'll get you to the Pokecenter to be checked out and then we can figure out what to do.”

    As the wind had slowed briefly, the jellyfish tossed the visor back at Rosa. That was a good clue that it was a Pokemon rather than a simple jellyfish. Rosa put the visor back on and dug in her bag for a new Pokeball. But then the jellyfish swatted at River. It wasn't going to break tradition by letting her get it without a fight. At first, she wasn't able to figure out why River's attacks weren't working. Only Assurance got it before Rosa decided to just throw the Pokeball and hope for the best (especially in this inclement weather).

    Bard immediately went chasing after the Pokeball, apparently thinking it was some toy. But at least that reaction made sure the ball didn't get blown around and dropped into the bay. Rosa clapped her hands. “Bard, bring it over to me!”

    “Oossh!” The Oshawott grabbed the ball in both paws and held it at arm's length with both paws while waddling back to her.

    “Good boy,” Rosa said, giving him a hug as she took the Pokeball. After another short gust, she added, “As fun as this is, I don't want to lose my visor or any of you. Let's get out of here.” While Finn snorted at her comment, they hurried along the dock back to the staircase that led back up.

    At the top, Nate was waiting on them with his new Magnemite and Pignite out. “What were you doing down there?” he asked. “It's dangerous to be around the water in this kind of weather.”

    Ruby gave a small snort, not looking too bothered even though the rain hissed upon hitting her.

    She gave them a grin. “Don't worry, I can swim! And so can these ones, and another I just caught! At least I assume so, as I haven't looked yet.”

    “Nice, but let's at least get back inside before finding out,” he said. “I could go for a warm meal tonight after this stormy day.”

    “Fine, let's get to the Pokecenter,” she said, hurrying along the road and only slowing because the wind made her.

    They were dripping water by the time they got in there, but the center staff had added a large coat hanger at the entrance for raincoats. There were still wet footprints on the floor, indicating that they weren't the only ones who had tried to be out this afternoon. After getting her team healed up, Rosa checked the Pokeball and the Pokedex to figure out what she'd caught. It turned out to be a Frillish, another Water type, but she was also a Ghost type.

    “That makes her different!” Rosa said happily. “I think I'll keep her. You okay with this?”

    Now that she was attached to a Pokeball, the Frillish was able to keep well hydrated with technology. Watching her float there was like watching a pink water balloon with large light ribbons bobbing in the air. She had a small face, so she smiled at the question. “Wooorooo.”

    “Awesome, so...” she thought about it, but then a name seemed obvious. “You'll be Medusa!”

    Medusa seemed to coo as she bounced in place.

    “Isn't Medusa the name of a mythological monster?” Nate asked.

    “Is it?” Rosa asked, puzzled. “I know it's the name of an adult jellyfish, the non-Pokemon ones.”

    “That's so. I guess she is different.” Nate smiled too. “Looks like you're getting a team you like.”

    She laughed. “Yeah! What about you?”

    “I like these two,” he said, looking to Ruby. “I've been thinking about what other Pokemon to look for. But, we'll see.”

    -+-

    May 23

    At the complex area, there were a series of round pipes that hung eight feet over the ground. They were just wide enough for a human to walk on, although it would be hard for them to balance. On the other hand, River was able to stay standing still up there for her balance exercises. It was important to have good balance. Flow like the water and wind, to be graceful at any speed, to be nimble in battle. That was what she had been taught when she was a young pup. While she felt she had good mastery over that, River still didn't have much power. At least, she didn't think so. She was under a Trainer now, so this should be a good opportunity to become a truly great fighter.

    Should be. The Riolu had known that she would be best off with a human Trainer; it was just a matter of when she'd find one. When wondering about it before, she thought that maybe she'd find a human master of martial arts. Or maybe one who was already a great Trainer who would know how to bring out the best in her. Instead, she ended up with a novice Trainer, a girl who had more enthusiasm than grace in her movements.

    Below her, she could see Rosa using Finn to battle a wild Audino while some other girls from Virbank had paused in their walk to watch briefly. “Come on, it can't take that much longer to beat him,” Rosa said.

    The Audino spun around, dancing more than properly fighting. “Hah ha, that's what you think! Come on and try me.” He made an insulting gesture that most humans tended to mistake for a cute ear wiggle.

    “You're foolish to think you can beat a proud warrior of the blue tribe!” the Basculin said before ramming his body into the Audino.

    However, the pink Pokemon merely laughed again, tossing an oran berry in the air. “Who said what I was thinking? That is, what I think now is that that attack wasn't any more hurtful than being slapped with a dead fish. Wooo, wimpy fins! I don't even need healing from that.”

    “You'll pay for that insult,” Finn growled, waggling his tail fin in preparation for his next attack. “Take this!” But the Audino just jumped aside and slapped the Basculin with his paws.

    “Why're you fighting with such a slimy Pokemon?” one of the Virbank girls asked. River crossed her arms over her chest on hearing that. That girl had an aura of someone who liked to be pampered, one who'd rather others do all the work for her. If the Riolu had run into her when looking for a Trainer, she would have steered wide and clear away.

    “He is not slimy,” Rosa insisted, looking away from the battle. “He's adorable.”

    The Audino laughed at that, shaking its head. Finn grunted. “What're you laughing about? She says that I'm strong.”

    “No she's not,” the Audino teased. “She means that you're a dainty fin! Dainty fin, wimpy fin!” Then he ate the berry he had.

    “You've got weird tastes,” the girl said, then headed on with her friends.

    While River would agree that Rosa had weird ideas of what made a Pokemon adorable (that toothy menace, who'd probably be happy if he got a scar for show?), that wasn't enough to dismiss her on. The fact that her inexperience showed painfully and that she seemed frivolous had been initially why River had tried to escape. But then, there was something else to her. Rosa's aura was peculiar. It hadn't seemed like much at first, nothing to investigate. Yet the longer River stayed around Rosa, the more apparent that difference stood out.

    It wasn't like with Nate. Nate had a strange aura for a human too: all mixed up, not quite fitting in to his surroundings, seeming older than his appearance. However, he was definitely human and he had a chance at unscrambling things himself. Rosa most often seemed human, but occasionally something seemed to shine out from within, a power that belonged to a Pokemon. At first, River had thought it was that charm of Keldeo that the girl wore, since the Pokemon aura coming off her was definitely Water-based. Then they had gone into that abandoned building and met Meloetta, who claimed that Keldeo was with them. That tiny sword could be reacting with Keldeo's spirit, but it seemed significant that Rosa was holding onto it.

    After another minute of fighting, Finn finally won over the rude Audino. Rosa hugged him. “Good job, even if it seemed to take forever.”

    “He kept growling my power away,” the Basculin said, still irritated at it. “He can stay away forever.”

    “Yay, you won!” Bard called, hopping over and waving with Medusa. Bard was now a Dewott, which meant that it was harder for Finn to escape his hugs. River usually noted his intent before not allowing him to hug her.

    “Okay, I think you did enough practice, so...” Rosa let go of Finn and looked around. “Let's see, there's you two and... River! Where are you?”

    “River!” Bard called, turning around to look. “I'm gonna hug you one of these days, and it'll be sooner if you're lazy!”

    The Riolu sighed, then kicked the pipe she was standing on. It did get their attention. “I've been doing my own exercises,” she said. “And keep your hugs to yourself.”

    Rosa laughed at seeing her up there. “Wow, you got high up! How'd you get there?”

    For a moment, River considered if it would be wise to let her know. Then again, she'd probably look anyhow. She pointed to the stairs that led up to this level. “I'm going to have to watch you carefully if you get up here.”

    As she thought, Rosa decided to come up to the pipes with her. Bard followed along and was soon dancing along another pipe; he at least had good balance too. River opted to keep an eye on their Trainer. Hopefully, she could do something to keep her from breaking her bones. Maybe Medusa or Finn could catch her, as their water bubbles let them swim freely through the air as long as they weren't focused on battling.

    Rosa did have the sense to keep her arms out and move slowly. She paused, then took a step back. “Whoa, this is easier when I'm moving. How're you staying still? Maybe it's cause you're smaller.”

    “And I practice my balance every day,” River said. “I want to see you try something.”

    “How're you going to ask her?” Bard asked, coming up on the Riolu's other side. The pipes criss-crossed each other, creating multiple paths.

    “I may have to try different ways,” River replied. Then she pointed up to the tiny sword on Rosa's necklace.

    “Oh, did you want to practice martial arts with me?” Rosa asked, getting completely the wrong idea. “Normally I spar on a mat, not a pipe off the ground like this. And I'm not that far along. I've got a green belt.... that's not much.”

    River put her paws on her hips. “That might show what I want to see. But I don't know if I want to try teaching a human to fight with her fists. I had enough trouble teaching my daughter a few years back.”

    By then, Bard had managed to be hanging below the bar. “Wow, you're a mother already? I didn't think you were that old.”

    “Yeah, well it happened while I’ve been preparing myself,” River said while the Dewott got himself back on top of the pipe. “I've seen fifteen winters and my daughter has seen five. Anyhow, I think that sword can do something. Draw it.”

    Rosa still thought they were talking about sparring. “And while you might be smaller than me, I think you could beat me easily. Maybe if I had some armor or something... I do have a sword!” She laughed as she pulled out the tiny sword from its necklace case. “A little bitty one that's might draw a tiny bit of blood, but not enough to win with.” She then put it back.

    “Maybe it has to be drawn in a particular fashion?” River thought aloud, tapping a foot on the pipe. “Like quickly, or with a chant.”

    “Or flashy!” Bard said, pretending to draw a sword quickly. He continued his play by fighting off some imaginary foe opposite of River. “Come on, we'll fight back to back like badass buddies!”

    She looked back at him. “Your form is more suited to your shells; you might want to stick with them over trying to learn swordsmanship.”

    Rosa clapped her hands. “Oh, are you going to be the next Errol Flynn? That would be sweet. Maybe you could even make this little thing look awesome, like this!” She then drew the sword out quickly and sweeping it down and forward, trying to be dramatic.

    And it was more dramatic than she intended, as the sword decided to no longer be tiny. Instead, it turned itself into a blue and silver longsword. The end of the handle even had a longer version of the lock of Keldeo's hair. Despite the fact that she wasn't expecting it, the sword kept her balanced on the pipe.

    “Whoa, how did that happen?” Rosa asked, staring at the sword with wide eyes.

    “Wow, I wish I had a real sword like that,” Bard said, pausing in his play to admire it.

    “It's like Meloetta said,” River said, bowing her head. “Keldeo is with us and the sword reacts to his spirit. Or rather, hers.”

    “What do you mean?” Medusa asked. The Frillish made her tentacles flutter below her. “Rosa has a very strong spirit, I can taste that. But where's Keldeo? I've never met a legendary Pokemon before.”

    “I think she's Keldeo,” River said, pointing to Rosa. “But she doesn't remember, so her power doesn't show well. But that sword might be a key to revealing the truth.”

    “I don't know what to do with this,” Rosa said, holding the sword up in front of her. “Huh, I wonder if Mom and Dad knew it could grow like this. But what do I do with a sword?” As she questioned it, the sword returned to its tiny size. “That's weird. I'll have to figure it out.” She put it back, but then as she glanced around, she slipped off the pipe, managing to catch it with her hands on her way down.

    “Eep, Rosa!” Bard ran towards River, so the Riolu jumped over him so that he didn't knock them both off too.

    “Ack, I don't think I want to be up here much longer,” Rosa said, forcing a smile at them. Then she looked down. “Thank goodness for leggings.” Then she dropped to the ground. “Well come on, we can't let Nate's team get too far ahead of us!”

    “Yay!” Bard called, leaping off the pipe. Now that Rosa was fine, he was happy again.

    “Right,” River said, jumping down to join them.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  2. #52
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    Roxie's outburst is so funny that I had to just take it straight from the game. Well, I think it's funny. Alliteration *laughs*

    But onto our added mystery... now Rosa thinks Nate might be Keldeo, Nate thinks it's probably River, and River thinks that Rosa is the one. There is one truth in all that wild mass guessing: Snapper is not Keldeo. What do you think?

    I think Frillish are awesome. Especially in Pokestar. I got most of the good and odd endings with a Frillish (later Jellicent, but same one).

    Sorry for the delay there. It was unavoidable.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  3. #53
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    Alder also thinks that Nate might be Keldeo, and Rosa's other pokemon are informed of River's suspicion. What I think? I think you are an evil, evil person for confusing us even more. Because then it was just whether Nate was Keldeo or not, but now it's more a question of which one is Keldeo.     Spoiler:- More specifically:

    I think that's everything. Anything I missed?

    Of course, knowing you, you're going to throw in a curveball and something I've completely missed will turn out to be the key factor. Or they'll all be Keldeo...

    And the delay was fine. You still have regular updates. A delay of a week is about a quarter of many FF.net author's regular update schedules anyway.

    EDIT: Roxie as a 20-something? I always thought she looked about midteens...
    Last edited by scizorstrike; 8th April 2013 at 6:07 PM.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

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    Well, that sure made it confusing. But still, great story so far! It seems like Keldeo is most likely Rosa, but I doubt you would make it easy to guess. Plus, Keldeo could be a character that's been stalking them secretly the whole time like the Plasma Shadows. In other words, I have no clue. Lol, but that's what I love about this fanfic.

    And about Kyurem feeling sad and lonely...probably something happened to Hilda or Mimi (that was the Mincinno's name right?), most likely Plasma captured them. But these are all just wild guesses. Can't wait for the next chapter!
    I treat my Pokemon like family. Copy and Paste this in your sig if you do too. Started by legolover8.

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    So lets see....

    Kyurem is controlled by Team Plasma in the game. This fic is relatively game based so I assume the same has happened here. Hilda and her team were somehow captured, inprisoned, whoknowswhat - basically, I have no idea. Whatever happened to Hilda probably happened because he was being held back by Plasma. He just had is best friend/love interest (never giving my Hilda/Kyurem shipping up) and "daughter" (Mimi) ripped away from him after a whole fanfic of adventures. He is understandably sad and lonely.

    I'm sticking to my guns with this one. Rosa is Keldeo. Of course, at this point anything could happen. Loved scizorstrike's comment about everyone being Keldeo. Laughed more than I should have.

    Can't wait to see what secrets the next chapter unveils.
    I have:
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    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

  6. #56
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    Heh. Thanks 3D, I try.

    After having thought about it some more, and re-reading the whole thing, aside from this chapter you've always been making it look like Nate is Keldeo. But, in the space of a single chapter, you've managed to completely reverse the entire perception of the matter, making it seem much more likely that Rosa is Keldeo. You have got to be doing that on purpose. There's going to be a reason why Nate spent all that time being hyped. Even if we can't see it right now.

    Another thing I noticed was that this fic took much longer to get moving. Part of that was getting Nate oriented, but the begining seems to have dragged on a lot longer this time around. Just saying.

    Also, the original ClicheStorm is completed, right? You should probably get a mod to move it to Completed Fics, 'cause it took me a good ten minutes to find it about seven pages back. That will only get worse with time.

    EDIT; After re-reading that as well,    Spoiler:- This is actually spoilery I'm right so I'm putting it in here. Maybe.:


    ANother, entirely less spoilery thing from the original ClicheStorm is Hilbert's childhood friend Tabitha, the one with the Keldeo doll? SHe turning up again?

    EDIT 2;     Spoiler:- More spoilery:


    EDIT 3; THis is seriously annoying now. Your fic has hijacked my brainpower that I should be using to revise. *glares at brain*
    But still.
        Spoiler:- This is really getting on my nerves now:
    Last edited by scizorstrike; 12th April 2013 at 12:53 PM.
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    Chapter 11: Opportunity Knocks

    May 27

    They had been in Virbank for nearly a month when they decided to try out the Gym. Even though they had been there that long, it took a little while to find the Gym. It was a slim building, less than half the size of the buildings around it. However, it did have a neon Pokeball sign above the entrance, and the sign nearby said it was the 'Koffing Rock Club' and the Virbank City Gym.

    Walking into the staircase, Rosa was reminded of a subway; it had that kind of bright yet sparse lighting, along with roughed up walls with peeling paint and many colorful posters. But some of it seemed artfully worn. Like the peeled paint, when she took a closer look as she walked by. Most of the areas where posters could be put had smoother paint, even if there were various patches of whites and grays. The peels were out of the way.

    “Make sure to watch your step,” Nate said teasingly. “This staircase is steep and you'd knock me down if you fall.”

    “Hey, I don't always fall,” she said, right before she nearly tripped off the last step before a small square landing. She just laughed it off, looking at the posters around. There were a lot about bands, especially Roxie's own. Further down, they could hear the drum beats of a loud song. It grew more and more distinct as they came down.

    By the time they reached the reception desk, they could even hear the vocals. There was a guy there with black hair spiked up with yellow tips. He also had a black tank top with a logo of the club on it. “Afternoon, kids,” he said. “The band's in practicing, but if you're here for the Gym, I can give them a holler for a break.”

    “Sure, both of us are here to challenge Roxie,” Nate said, getting his card and team ready to register.

    “All right,” he said, getting the scanner ready. “She doesn't have any particular method to the Gym, so you'll just see what you get.” Once they were registered, the guy made a call, having them wait. The song stopped while the challenge was arranged. Then he hung up the phone. “Go on ahead, and good luck.”

    Inside, they were met with a mostly empty club, one that seemed like it should be much busier. The tables and chairs were scattered about. At one table, there was a man in blue slacks and a fancy blue shirt with a matching scarf. Another man was sitting in a corner, somehow finding time to study and type on his computer with the band practice going on. Up on a platform, there was a dark skinned man in dreadlocks running the sound equipment. The Gym staff appeared to be on stage. There was a large man in a leather vest at the drums, and a young woman with a long purple ponytail on the guitar.

    Roxie was in the center, as another guitarist and the vocalist. At first, Rosa wasn't sure where she'd seen her before; she had a white ponytail similar to the guitarist, only not as long. She wore an oversized striped shirt that happened to match her guitar. She had probably seen Roxie on TV, but after thinking that, she remembered when they had first come into Virbank. She had been the one arguing with the man outside the Pokecenter. But, that wasn't important to them, right?

    “We've got two of you at once, huh?” Roxie asked, clutching her guitar in a confident poise. “Same badge level, same time... you two rivals or sweethearts?”

    “N-neither!” Rosa said, stopping a few feet from the stage. In the meantime, the two others on stage put away their instruments.

    “We're cooperating for the most part,” Nate said, not as bothered.

    Roxie smirked. “But after the same goal, since you're both in the League challenger roster. You're going to end up as competitors sooner or later. Then, how about sooner? Each of you will battle one of my band members, and whichever one of you wins faster gets to challenge me first. Right then, let's see you do it!” She pointed for her band members, and Gym Trainers to challenge them.

    They were competitors? Rosa hadn't thought about that much, even when they battled each other for practice. But she didn't get long to think about it before the guitarist and drummer dropped off stage. Rosa ended up fighting against the guitarist. Finn wound up getting poisoned, but he managed to win the battle on his own.

    But Nate was still in battle with the drummer, as his Magnemite was fighting against a Grimer. So she had to fight Roxie first.

    -+-

    Undella Bay

    “Hey mister!” a girl's voice called out over the waves. “Careful of the rising tide!”

    Surrounded by the salty scent of the ocean, Colress smiled at the concern of the stranger. The warm waters were inching in to cover the pale sandbar he was standing on. Triste happened to be looking out to her; he pointed with one of his hands, making the small lights there blink individually. “Heeeii,” the Elgyem said.

    He turned around to see who it was, part out of curiosity and part out of caution. On seeing the girl riding on a two-headed Dragon Pokemon in the waves, he wondered if Triste managed to recognize the importance of her. “It's no trouble, miss,” he said, waving to her. “The person I'm waiting on should be here soon.”

    “I hope it's not much longer for you to wait, cause the tide can come in quick,” she said. “You do have a surfing Pokemon, don't you?”

    Colress shook his head. “Nope. I'm not worried, though. Say, you're the Champion, Iris, aren't you? What would you be doing out here?”

    As he thought, hearing that he didn't have a Pokemon to get him back to shore got her to direct her dragon to the sandbar he was on. “Yup, that's me,” Iris said. “I'm training my Pokemon out here, as swimming's a good exercise for them. You sure you're okay?” She hopped off onto the sand as soon as she could.

    “I have faith in my co-worker,” he said, taking out his tablet from his bag. “It's quite lucky that you came along, though. My name is Colress, and I'm a scientist studying Pokemon training.”

    “Oh really?” she said, her black eyes brightening in interest. “I've heard about you! You were hanging around Lenora's Gym for a while watching the Trainers.”

    He nodded. “That's right. Would you mind allowing me an interview about how you train your Pokemon?”

    “Hmmm...” she looked down at the water's edge, creeping back and forth, mostly forth. “Maybe not here. But what're you studying Trainers for?”

    “Training, although trainers are involved,” he explained. “Actually, my original interest was seeing how to bring out the best in any Pokemon, how to raise them to their max potential. While we've made tremendous advances over the past century, I'm sure that there's more we can do to help them out. I've narrowed my focus down on training itself for now, although there's many aspects I'm investigating over the long term. What I'd like to do is eventually have a Pokemon of unexpected power, still within healthy and happy limits of course. A person like yourself would be valuable to my study.”

    “I think my grandpa would be a bigger help than me,” Iris said, smiling proudly. “I may be the regional Champion, but I am still learning; he's a real living master.”

    He gave a nod to that. “Yes, but all sorts are important to proper research.”

    Then, Triste came up and poked his shoulder. “Eeeesa,” he warbled, pointing to the ocean.

    Colress turned around. “Oh, is she coming up?”

    A moment later, a Wailmer surfaced close to the sandbar, carrying a member of Team Plasma on its back. Of course, the agent was dressed in an unmarked diving suit with a scuba tank on her back, so it was impossible for an outsider to know she was a part of the team. The diver got off the Wailmer's back and walked over to them. After shifting her breathing tube aside, she said, “Uh, s-sir...”

    “I already said that it's fine for you to call me by name,” he said. At least when she couldn't be identified as a part of the team.

    “R-right, Colress,” she said, taking a small waterproof bag off her belt. “Here, I got what you asked for: sand from the, the lowest floor we could reach. And just in time too, it seems.”

    He smiled wide as he took the bag of wet sand from her. “Ah, excellent. See, I told you it could be done. Thank you.”

    “Ye-yeah,” she said, looking down and seeming relieved.

    “What's that for?” Iris asked, tilting her head up at them.

    “Voodoo,” Colress said without hesitation.

    That made the girl laugh while the woman from Plasma tensed slightly. “Voodoo? But I thought you said you were a scientist, not a witch doctor.”

    He turned to her, raising a finger up and shaking it reprovingly. “Ah, that is true. Just because I believe in science doesn't mean I have no interest in old superstitions. There's always a grain of truth somewhere in them; one just needs to filter out the mystique from the substance. For instance, those frail gems those witch doctors and gypsies use often can be proven to have power. One just has to find the right way to use it.” He then looked at the diver. “Well then, shall we go? I was going to talk to the young lady here in Undella, but if you have your own business, we can part at the beach.”

    “Right, we'd better go before this sandbar vanishes,” she said.

    “Okay, I'll meet you at the Coral Cafe!” Iris said, heading back to her Dragon. Colress waded out into the water far enough to get on the Wailmer's back with the diver and they all headed to shore.

    -+-

    Virbank Gym

    “Yow, you both got me today,” Roxie said, grinning and putting her guitar on her back now that the battle was over. “You both work so well with your teams, even if you are only on your second badge. Speaking of which, here's your Toxic Badge. Keep it with pride.”

    “Sure thing,” Nate said, grinning as he accepted it.

    “You'll be moving on, I guess?” When they nodded, she came off the stage. “Well you have the Aspertia badge, and at this time, there aren't any other Gyms for the Unova League on this side of the bay. You're going to need to cross the water. I'm going to check up on the old man about the ferry. Don't worry none; find something to do and check up on the ferry house in the evening. Guys, take a break for half an hour.”

    “Right, thanks,” Rosa said. She turned to Nate. “Then, what should we do?”

    He shrugged, then stretched his arms behind his head. “I don't know about you, but I’m fine with just chilling out and letting the Pokemon have fun.”

    “Hey, pardon my intrusion,” a curly-haired man said. It was the one who had been sitting at the table this whole time. “But I was just watching you two battle here. You're both fine energetic youths with friendly Pokemon, and I think the two of you have real star potential. Would you like to come to Pokestar Studios and have a try at making a movie?”

    Pokestar Studios? That, that was the springboard of the carers of many modern stars. Much of what came out of it wasn't full-length movies, but rather movie shorts. They recycled the scripts every few years, that was well known, but each version was said to be unique, with different actors. But more importantly, Pokestar was where a lot of big stars, even superstars, even Christoph, were found by bigger studios. So if they were given a chance to be in a Pokestar movie... they might get the chance to become superstars.

    “I don't know if we have time for that,” Nate said.

    “AAAAAAAAAAHHHIEEEE, that's amazing!” Rosa shrieked happily, then she grabbed the man's hand. “You really think so? Can we, please?”

    He laughed. “I'm sure of it. I'm a talent agent for the studio. And don't worry, it won't take up much of your time to come look around and try it out. Just get your Pokemon healed up and meet me on the other side of the gatehouse to the north. I've got to get my boss. See you in a bit.” He slipped his hand out of Rosa's grasp, then headed out of the club.

    “Yeah, we'll be there!” Rosa said, then turned to Nate and jumped in place. “We can be in a movie! Isn't that awesome? If we do really well and people love us, then we might be able to become real movie stars! I always thought it'd be the best to be a big screen actor, and just to have that come out of blue is almost unbelievable, but it happened! This'll be great!” Then she hugged him in excitement.

    He froze for a moment, then pushed away. “Um, I suppose. Although it does seem awful sudden.”

    “Aw, why aren't you excited?” She knew that he tended to be serious, but he also had his fun moments. Besides, being a big star was a dream that everybody shared. Why would he even think about throwing away this once in a lifetime chance?

    “It just seems like a distraction,” he explained. “And you are right, this is unbelievable. Why would they ask for a couple of teens to be their actors on just watching a few battles? But if it won't take long to see, I don't see the harm in looking.”

    Maybe if he saw that it could be done, he'd go along with it. “Yeah, that's the ticket! Then let's go get our Pokemon healed up.” She rushed out of the club, soon followed after by Nate.

    Once that was done, they hurried on to the gatehouse in the northern part of Virbank, the one that was usually closed off by private guards. But those same guards seemed to recognize them and let them on through. Maybe the agent had taken some pictures, but it already felt like they were special. Past the regular gatehouse, there was a lavish setting that seemed like a dream, no, that was where dreams were made. A plush red carpet sat on the concrete walkway, leading up to a grand golden arch that served as the entrance. What lay beyond was just as grand.

    On the path, the talent agent was talking with a man wearing a colorful suit with a matching top hat. “Oh, here they are,” the agent said. “They did really well against Roxie, and with some work might even be stylish about it. It'd be interesting to see what they could do together. Rosa, Nate, this is the owner of Pokestar Studios, Mr. Stu Deeoh.”

    The man took a step closer to them, looking them over. “Yes, I see what you mean. You both could be quite popular, but you're regular teens that anyone could relate to. Would you like to star in one of our movies?”

    “Oh yes!” Rosa said, clapping her hands together. “This is going to be fun!”

    He laughed. “Excellent. We look to make the dreams of many people alive. Don't worry, your test run won't go long. I need to go talk to the director, so have a tour of the studios. Keen, take them around for a bit.”

    There were a number of people in the studio; some were in costume, some were in fancy suits, and others seemed to be other regular people. Maybe there were others like themselves who got to be actors, but Rosa didn't think on it long. There were too many things to be excited about. Like seeing various set pieces on display, a nice fountain, the large filming warehouse, and the extravagant screening theater.

    “This is where we do the initial screening of all of our films,” the agent said as they stood in front of the theater. “Our test audience, made up of our experts, staff, and volunteers from the public, decide on what version of the current script makes it out to the general public.”

    “What version?” Nate asked.

    Nodding, the agent said, “We have a general script, but we leave the directors and the actors a lot of freedom to interpret it how they like. The test audience often knows the basic script from seeing all of the versions, so they like to see creativity and spirited actors. Although not so much that it wrecks the basic idea of the script.”

    “Do we get paid for this?” he asked.

    “Does it matter?” Rosa asked him. “We get to be in a movie!”

    He turned to her. “Well yes, but most actors are paid.”

    “If the particular film is chosen to go out of this theater, then you will be rewarded,” the agent said. “Why don't we go inside? The owner hasn't called yet, and one of the test films is going to be screened shortly. It runs off the base script you'll be using, so maybe you'll get an idea of what you're going to do.”

    “Cool, I love the Pokestar films,” Rosa said as they walked into the screening theater.

    Inside, there was a small group of people gathered outside the entrance to one of the screen rooms. This included, interestingly enough, Roxie and the older man who was probably her father. They didn't really get time to say hi as the door to the particular theater opened and everyone went inside. In there, it was a really nice theater, with large comfortable seats.

    “How long will this be?” Nate whispered after a minute.

    “They're short films,” Rosa said.

    Then the lights darkened as the projector started up. A title screen came up, saying 'Test Screening- VIII- Brycen Man against Riolu Man: Carnival of Chaos'. From the second part of the title, Rosa knew it was one of the costumed hero series, which excited her. The last time it had gone out, she had been young girl and it had been one of her favorites. So was that the one they were going to play out? She had thought it couldn't get any more exciting, but then it did! She felt like fidgeting, but then she was supposed to be a young lady now. She tried to keep still.

    It looked quite different, but hopefully it was just as good. There was a crowd in a carnival, colorfully lit up at night with several performers juggling bowling pins in the background. Then, the villain came out dressed in dark blue cloak and and an icy mask over his eyes. He looked like the former Gym Leader Brycen, who had retired from the League a year ago. Maybe it even was him, as he had been an actor as well. He did a great job.

    After a little while, the hero Riolu Man came out, along with his Riolu partner. It looked like man who was with Roxie. But, he was pretty bad and not even in a good way. It was a pity, watching one of her favorite shows wrecked like that. But she could get a chance to make it really great in a little while.

    They were given a survey to rate the movie, but from the talk going on, it seemed like others were disappointed in this version as well. Rosa filled out the survey, then headed out with Nate. “I think I’m seeing how they operate,” he said quietly.

    “The agent explained it to us,” Rosa said.

    He shrugged. “Yeah. But more than that.”

    “Oh.” Well if he understood it, that was good. “That was a disappointing version. The one like this I saw years ago was brilliant, I loved it. This one, he was such a coward.”

    In the lobby, they found Roxie talking with her father. From the sound of it, she was trying to cheer him up. That made Rosa wonder about how he felt. He had been in there, and all those people had been talking about the version he had been in. He must have been feeling bad about it... Rosa felt kind of bad herself for saying what she did a moment ago. But, it had only been Nate who heard, right?

    She wasn't able to talk with them, though as the agent found them quickly. “We made good timing,” the agent said. “Stu told me that they're ready for you in the filming area. Go on over there; good luck with your test run.”

    “Okay, thanks!” Rosa said, trying to put on a cheerful face. As she thought over things, she tried to focus on her excitement. She could talk with Roxie's father later. But for now....

    It was really exciting!

    Across the studio, they entered the recording building. The owner met with them in the lobby. “Ah, here you are,” he said, smiling. “Here is where all of our magic takes place, and by magic I mean CFX! We use green-screen actors to catch all of the action, and then by building the world around them through virtual technology, we can make our films in a few days rather than many months.”

    “I thought so,” Nate said. Rosa looked at him, but it was still hard to know what he was thinking.

    The owner seemed briefly uneasy at that, but then gave her a warm smile. “Yes... anyhow, the current script only calls for two actors and three Pokemon. You can choose to use either your own, if they're fitting for the script, or rent one of the studio But we have one of the studio actors who will work with one of you today. Which one of you wants to try out first?”

    “Let her,” Nate said quickly, before Rosa could even think about it.

    “Thanks!” Rosa said, jumping up a little Then she thought she saw something move out of the corner of her eye, like someone taller than her was coming up. Was it something to worry about? A little part of herself felt like she should be cautious about people sneaking up on her, but her excitement ran that over quick.

    Before she could look, the owner started talking again. “That's good of you, Nate. Okay Rosa, so let me introduce you to your co-star....”

    “Hello,” a man's voice said, from behind her.

    “Eek!” Who was that? Tense with excitement, Rosa reacted without a thought, spinning around and slamming her fists into the man behind her. He got thrown aside and onto the ground a few feet away. But now that she got a good look at him, it was Brycen himself. She ran over to him. “Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! You just were suddenly behind me and I freaked out.”

    “I should apologize for sneaking up on you, rather,” Brycen said, sitting up better. “You must have martial arts training.”

    “Uh, just a little bit,” she said, blushing.

    “You could have fooled us,” Mr. Stu Deeoh said, coming over. “Are you okay Brycen?”

    “Took the wind right out of me,” he said, touching his torso then wincing.

    “Maybe you should take the evening off,” the agent said.

    Rosa nodded. “Oh sure. Um, maybe we could try again later.” But then the best idea came to her. This movie needed two actors. “Or, how about Nate takes his place?”

    “Well...” the owner said, scratching his head.

    “As long as it doesn't involve her punching me again, I’m fine,” Nate said.

    That annoyed Rosa, but in the end, that worked for the owner and the director. They were both escorted to the filming area, where they were given the basic script for the Trainer hero short film. Taking up much of the room was a large area with bright green floor and walls. Various cameras and other equipment (most of which she couldn't name) were in the extra space.

    “The standard script calls for a Riolu, a Pawniard, and a Vullaby,” Nate said, looking over the script.

    “I have River,” Rosa said, happy for that. “But I think the other two live elsewhere in the region.”

    He pointed at something on the script's third page. “Does she have something super-effective against a Flying type?”

    “Oh, no,” she said, flipping the pages of her own script. “Drat, I was hoping she could be a movie star too. I guess we'll have to use the rental Pokemon they have. But didn't the guy said he liked our Pokemon too?”

    He shrugged. “Can't help what's in the script... Excuse me, director, but why are some of the lines blank?”

    The director, a man with a red suit and a visor that said 'Director' on it, stopped by them. “Oh, you must be some of the new actors. Yes, some of the lines are blank, but that's because you can choose what you want to say or do there. I might adjust things as well, depending on what you do. We want everyone to be creative.”

    “Creative, huh?” Nate said, sounding like he wasn't impressed.

    “That sounds fun!” Rosa said. “Are we starting right away? I don't know if I can memorize all this that fast.”

    The director nodded. “We can get started as soon as we have the Pokemon out. And don't worry about memorizing the script. There's a lot of editing to do, so take as long as you need to in checking the script and redoing lines.”

    “We'll use the studio Pokemon,” Rosa told them. So they had all the time they needed to get it right? That was good.

    “I'll go get them, then,” the director said, going towards a window in one of the non-green walls.

    Since they had a moment, Rosa turned to Nate. “What's up with you? You're acting like this is no big deal, but we're going to be in a movie! Most people can only dream about getting this chance.”

    He shrugged. “Sorry, but... I'm just trying to think about this realistically. At first, I thought it must be inefficient to film the way they describe but then... recycling scripts with parts made up on the spot, getting actors off the street, CGI, multiple versions of which only one may be released to other theaters, shorts that depend on flat stock characters... I wonder how many other corners they cut in order to produce a large amount of material in order to find that one golden version that makes all the money? It must be like shifting through a collection of fanfics online to find that one good one.”

    “Now you're just being sour,” she teased him, mockingly punching him (lightly). “Let's just have fun with this.”

    He put his hand up defensively, smiling. “Okay, okay. Sorry. Hey, you said that this was one of your favorites, right? Why don't you choose which role you want?”

    Pleased by that, Rosa said, “You're letting me choose? Yes! Oh, sorry, I don't want to offend you, but I want to play the hero. You okay with the villain?”

    “Sure,” Nate said.

    After a while of questions and setting up, the two of them were told to go into the green screen area. They were allowed to keep their regular outfits, even though the film would have them in costume. That was part of the script instructions, how to account for the costumes. The only exception was that the direction had asked them to leave their visors to the side, saying that it would be easier than editing that out. “Start filming,” the director said. “And, action!”

    Rosa was ready to go, but Nate had most of the lines as the villain (probably because they were expecting the villain to be played by one of the studio actors like Brycen). So he started off with releasing the Pawniard, going the extra mile by sweeping his hand out as he did so, as if he was flinging aside a large cape. “Such a sight, this sparkling carnival. You people are all moving through like you're in a dream. Feh, but none of you deserve it! I will turn your dream into a nightmare! Come, my Pawniard, bring chaos and destruction to this night.”

    “Kkkkzzzsa?” The Pawniard hesitated for a moment, as if uncertain of why Brycen wasn't there.

    “Don't worry about it,” Nate said in his usual less dramatic voice. “You should do something that looks vicious and intimidating for the audience.”

    Rosa grinned. “Oh yeah! Come on Pawniard, you can do it. Just whirl around and swing your blades, like this!” She then spun around once, slashing her hands through the air like they were bladed.

    “Kuzza,” the Pawniard said, his eyes seeming to glint. Then he imitated what she did, only ending up on a different pose where he crossed his arms in front of himself, then slashed down and spread his arms out wide behind it.

    The director laughed. “Nice one. You two do well with Pokemon.”

    “They should be having fun too,” Rosa said. “Didn't you have more lines?”

    “Yeah,” Nate said, kneeling while checking his script again. Then he dropped it and stood back up. After a moment, he gave a boastful evil-villain laugh. “Come on, cower before me! You ignorant masses have no idea of what's really going on around you. I will show you the meaning of fear and despair.”

    Watching him get into it, Rosa shivered. He was scary when playing a villain and the Pawniard really was having fun being his minion Pokemon. But, she was to be the heroine, so she had to match him. “Hold it right there,” she shouted as she released the rental Riolu.

    “Riii...” the Riolu started to call out when he saw the look on the Pawniard's face. “Yipe!” He stumbled back and crashed into Rosa's leg.

    “Zzzizzca,” the Pawniard said, calming down a little.

    Rosa dropped down and hugged the Riolu. “Oh, you're okay. But we need to really act, buddy! Come out and face him like a real hero.”

    He looked back at her, puzzled. “Rii?” Then he seemed to see something and wagged his tail. He patted her hand, then got back onto his feet and was eager to go.

    “Let's try that again,” the director said.

    “Okay,” Rosa said, getting up. “Now remember, when you come out next, you gotta show that you aren't letting anyone intimidate you.”

    The Riolu barked happily, then was recalled. When Rosa redid her line and called him back out, he called out, “Ri lu!” Then he made fists and held them out like he was ready for battle.

    “Good one,” Rosa said quietly.

    “Hmph, and who would you be?” Nate asked in his villain persona, showing disdain. “You hardly look impressive.”

    To go along with the act, Rosa frowned, but then put on a serious face and brought her fist to her chest. “I am the hero of ideals, sent to defend the truth. I am here to stop you from your destructive schemes.”

    He gave her a smirk. “Are you now? What use is the ideal, or the truth? It is nothing but a dream! For your insolence, I, Brycen-Man, will destroy you.”

    Unfortunately, the director interrupted the flow. “Should we leave it as that? Since Brycen's not the one in the villain role for this version.”

    “Oh wait, I have an idea!” Rosa said, jumping up. Then she pointed at Nate and got back into her role. “What are you talking about? You can't really be... are you Brycen?”

    Nate brightened at that. “Oh yeah, a fake. Well then...” He paused, then asked, “Why would you suspect a deception? I am who I am. Pawniard, attack that Riolu!”

    “Kzzzz,” the Pawniard hissed, then sprang across the gap to slash its blades at the Riolu's face. Instead of connecting, the Riolu hopped aside and dodged.

    “I could see that working,” the director said, pacing and thinking.

    As the cameras were still rolling, the act continued. “Riolu, use Force Palm on it!” Rosa called. According to the script, the Riolu had to use super effective moves against the two Pokemon belonging to Brycen-Man.

    Force Palm knocked the Pawniard out. Briefly, Rosa wondered how these studio Pokemon liked their life. They win or lost according to a script, not to how skilled their partners were. Although, like with the version they had watched earlier, if the actor didn't know what they were doing with Pokemon battling, the Pokemon could lose when they were supposed to win. Hopefully they liked it.

    Nate sneered, then switched out Pokeballs. “What use is trying? I'm going to end up humiliating you. Your dreams are futile, Riolu-Girl. Prepare to face the end of your brief career.”

    “Bring it on!” Rosa said, striking a confident pose.

    He then brought out the Vullaby, who managed to get their mood despite having not been around to witness it. She spread her wings (admittingly slim wings) wide and puffed herself up to look bigger. “Raaaaa!”

    Maybe Pokemon could really hear through the Pokeball. According to the script, she and Riolu had to move first. “Ice Punch, no hesitation,” she ordered.

    Barking in agreement, the Riolu dashed forward and turned his Ice Punch move into an uppercut, knocking the Vullaby backwards into the air. A pale blue glow followed both of them, hard to see against the bright green backdrop. Hopefully that made it into the recording.

    “Your attempt at chaos and terror is over before it began,” Rosa said, pointing at Nate again. “Now surrender yourself to the police and justice.”

    “Don't think you've gotten the best of me,” Nate said, clenching his fist. “You may have won this time, but this isn't the end.”

    “Cut there,” the director said, coming over to them. “That was quite good for novice actors, both of you. I'd be happy to work with either of you again. Make sure to talk to the receptionist at the door so that we have a number for both of you, so we can call you when your version is ready for the first screening test.”

    “All right!” Rosa said, jumping up and pumping her fist in the air. “We'll definitely be back to see it!”
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  8. #58
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    And I'm using Colress again to skip a battle. lol, that won't happen every time. Believe me, I had much more fun writing that Pokestar segment than trying to write either Nate or Rosa against Roxie. Not that I have anything against the three of them.

    As fun as the Pokestar sidequest is, their methods really don't seem that great for a real life company. Although if making CGI movies was that easy, I'd have fun doing that! You don't get paid for the movies, even though their 'income' is in the millions. However, if you go back and make a few regularly (especially with an odd ending or two to boost your star status), you can get a lot of items for talking to fans. I never ran out of lemonades or escape ropes even when I tried to use them up.

    Someone on fanfiction.net thinks that Bard is Keldeo... River and Bard are considered partly due to having the same types as Keldeo too. Seeing talk about it amuses me. (and yes scizor, you probably should go back to brain-storming on your own work, haha)

    Roxie seemed to be early or mid twenties to me.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  9. #59
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    Yes, I should. (and it's Physics revision, not brainstorming)

    BUT THEN YOU DO THIS.

    And there's not even any more theorybait.

    CURSE YOU YSAVVRYL. I would say that I would never forgive you for this, but I will. Probably when you reveal exactly who Keldeo is and we all start feeling like idiots for not working it out sooner.

    (When I get more theories later I'll edit them in here, or a later post. Probably.)
    Last edited by scizorstrike; 12th April 2013 at 11:17 PM.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  10. #60
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    Chapter 12: Moonlit Bay

    May 27
    Virbank

    It was dark when they got out of the studio, but they decided to check the docks to see if the ferry ran late. Virbank was lively, even more so than it was during the day. For Nate, seeing all the other people here, mostly young adults but a good portion of middle aged people too, it provoked an odd dissonance of thoughts. Part of him wondered if the oddly dressed (to his mind; they might be edgy or punk) people hanging out in the streets were indulging in an unhealthy lifestyle or if they had a balance between business and fun. But another part of his mind was tempted to dismiss the analytical side and just have fun with the rest of them.

    “Hey Rosa,” he said. “Do you think I'm too serious?”

    “Mmm,” she grabbed one of her ponytails, checked it, then flipped it back, “you're not the most serious person I've met, but when you do get serious, you get really serious. I mean, you worry about that.” She laughed. “If it does worry you, then we can just go do something you think is fun for a day. I got to be in a movie,” she smiled, still high spirited from that, “so I'd be happy with most anything you suggest.”

    He smiled. “Thanks. Although I'm not sure what. I was just wondering about the clubs these people go to, but I'm not sure.”

    “Oh yeah,” she said, but not sounding terribly interested. “I suppose they like it. But I don't think I'd like it myself. I mean, lots of people in one room, with loud music playing, and people all trying to talk to each other at once. That kind of noise would make me tense, not relaxed enough to have fun.”

    “You don't like loud music?” It seemed odd.

    Rosa shrugged. “Well I don't so much mind the music as having so many things to listen to at once. I liked the music Roxie and her band were playing, although given how loud it was through the door, I'm glad they had stopped before we went in. I like music, but my favorite kind of music is just being out in the woods listening to the Pokemon calling.” She giggled. “Kinda silly, huh?”

    “I don't think so,” Nate said. He was going to agree that that sounded like a nice thing to do when something happening nearby got his attention.

    As they came to the corner to turn to the ferry dock, there was a crowd there. There were five people wearing the black and gray grab that the others of Plasma had been wearing. For all he knew, it might even be some of the same, with their head gear making it hard to identify any one of them. Standing opposite of them were Roxie and Hugh. “I've heard that you lot have been making trouble and bullying other Trainers around here lately,” Roxie said, her white hair looking particularly stark under the streetlight. “I'm gonna warn you this once to stop this nonsense, or I will get involved personally.”

    “You have no idea what you're up against,” one of them said. “If you start getting in our way, you're going to be in major trouble later on.”

    “Your big talk isn't about to scare me,” Hugh said, sounding harsher than Roxie.

    The leader of the group pulled out a Pokeball. “Maybe it will when we defeat both of you and take your Pokemon away.”

    Nate didn't have to say anything to Rosa. Of the same thoughts, they hurried over. “You'd have to get rid of us too,” Nate said.

    Glancing over, Roxie began to smile. “Feeling confident, are you?” She then released a Pokemon Nate recognized right off the bat, a Weezing (it seemed a lot lager than he had imagined them being). It seemed like little more than a huge cloud of violet smoke, much like the Koffing but with an extra few heads budding off it. Picking up on its Trainer's mood, the Weezing made a sound that was half-cough and half-laugh, releasing some of its toxic gases.

    One of the Plasma thieves took a step back. “What? I didn't see you... I haven't seen you use that Pokemon before.”

    “That's because I've had mostly low-level challengers this month,” she replied. “Not only that, but Hathor here is too high of a level to use in any of the standard Gym teams. He's just been a buddy of mine for much too long for me to let him go just yet.” Roxie then beckoned them to start the fight. “You asked for a battle and you'd better not chicken out now.”

    While it would have been interesting to see Roxie cream the whole lot with just Hathor, the Plasma group silently decided that they'd rather split up and try to fight all four of them. Even then, the one that approached Nate was an easy opponent, especially since Ruby was a Pignite. They all won. However, before anyone could say anything, the one who hadn't fought released a smoke bomb. Nate backed up, trying to get where the wind wasn't blowing the smoke. There were some loud sounds, in particular an engine starting up and heading out across the bay. When it cleared, the five thieves were gone.

    Rosa was coughing. “Ugh, that stinks,” she said, covering her face.

    “Yeah, they got away,” Hugh said, sounding mad.

    “You okay?” Nate asked Rosa. She nodded, waiting until she was sure it was okay to take a good breath.

    Perhaps due to working with Poison Pokemon, Roxie wasn't perturbed by the smoke. She took a few steps forward, looking through the remaining smoke at the water. “Sounds like they took a motorboat, maybe heading towards Castelia. We might be able to get the Coast Guard to intercept them.” She turned to them and smiled. “Hey, thanks for helping out. I don't know if they were being serious about taking our Pokemon, but after what happened a while back, can't be too careful.”

    “I don't think you really needed our help, not with that guy,” Nate said.

    Hathor the Weezing seemed pleased by that, grinning wide and making that hacking laugh sound. Roxie nodded. “I know, but when it comes down to it, it's people like you who help anyways that make the difference. Is there anything I can do to help you out?”

    Nate shrugged. “Maybe? We were just going in to check if there was a late ferry over to Castelia since we're done here in Virbank.”

    Putting her hand to her lips, she gave it some thought. “Not this late, not usually. But I think I can arrange for one. Follow me.” She headed into one of the nearby buildings; Nate and Rosa followed.

    “To Castelia?” Hugh mumbled, then came along with them.

    Inside the building, there was a counter where one of the ferry captains was drinking from a brown mug. “Hey pops,” Roxie called over, waving. “Could you take one more trip over to Castelia tonight for these folks? They helped me out just now. I need to call the Guard, though, since there was a group of thieving punks that took off.”

    Her father raised his eyebrows. “Really? Well I have no trouble going over once more.”

    “Thanks,” she said, but soon was making the call on her Xtransceiver to get the Coast Guard.

    He chuckled and turned to them. “It's not often she asks for a favor like that, so you must have impressed her. Besides, it'll be a beautiful night to cross the bay. So the three of you are headed to Castelia?”

    “That's right,” Hugh said. “When can we head over?”

    “Give me a few minutes to finish a couple of things in here,” the captain said. “Head out that door in back to the dock where I keep my ferry. It's the white and blue one, with the Wingull sign.”

    Out on the dock with his two friends, Nate looked around the water surrounding them. However, there weren't any signs of the fleeing Plasma group. “They must have followed the shoreline instead of going straight across,” he said. “I wonder what they were doing here.”

    “They were probably up to no good,” Hugh said in disapproval.

    Then the sound of a beeping Xtransciever caught their attention. Nate knew it wasn't his own, as he was wearing his and it wasn't vibrating. “Uh, is that one of your guys'?” Rosa asked.

    “No,” Nate said, looking around. After a few beeps, Bard picked up the Xtransceiver sitting beside a crate. He tried to nibble it, then passed it over to Rosa when he decided it wasn't edible.

    “Don't eat them,” she said, taking it and pressing the answer button. “Hello?

    “Ah, hello?” a guy's voice said, his voice not too clear. Which was odd, since the black and silver phone seemed new other than a few scratches from when it must have been dropped. “Where is this?”

    “The ferry docks in Virbank,” Rosa replied. “Did you lose this Xtransicever?”

    “Yeah, that's right. The ferry docks? I didn't think... oh wait, yeah, I can see how that happened. Crud, I was hoping it would be here in Castelia.”

    “I'm heading over to Castelia in a little bit, actually,” Rosa said, looking over at the ferry waiting on the captain. “Want me to bring this over to you?”

    “That'd be grea.. oh, wait,” his voice turned nervous for some reason. “I'm not sure if we could meet up. I'm out with friends and it could be a while, and even then...” a muffled voice came from the other end. “It's nothing,” he said, apparently talking to someone else. “Don't worry about it. Sorry, but I'll get back to you. Please hang onto this for now so I can reach you.” The call was then disconnected.

    “Aaiii fri,” Medusa said, floating over and trying to touch the black and silver Xtransciever in Rosa's hand.

    “Wow, he must be really busy,” Rosa said. “He didn't even tell me his name.”

    “What'd he look like?” Hugh asked, looking at the unit suspiciously.

    “He sounded drunk,” Nate added. Maybe he should go with Rosa when she went to find him.

    She shrugged. “I don't know; there was no video feed.”

    “You'd be better off turning it in to the Xtransciever company so they can get it back to him, instead of trying to find some stranger in the city,” Hugh said.

    “Well he asked me to hang on to it,” she said, before putting it in her bag. “It shouldn't be much trouble to meet up with the guy in Castelia tomorrow.”

    At that point, two people came walking down the dock to them. One was the ferry captain; the other was a woman with glasses and a bag made of blue denim at her side. The captain nodded to them. “Sorry to take a little while, but we've picked up another passenger as well. Come on board and we'll leave in a few minutes.”

    “Excuse me,” the woman said in a quiet voice as she followed the captain onto the ferry. Oddly enough, she seemed familiar to Nate but he couldn't think of when he'd seen her before. But he wasn't from this world, right? Either she looked like someone he knew, or what little he had of his memory wasn't right. It made him feel uneasy, but then she hadn't reacted to him in any particular way.

    Ten minutes later, they were crossing over the moonlit water. It was a beautiful night, like the captain had said. The sky was clear, although only the stars on the western half and the horizon could be seen. Across the bay, there waited a big brilliantly lit city with buildings soaring into the sky. In between, it was all dark calm waters, stretching out to the southern horizon. The full moon illuminated the surface, making the shifting textures of the waves visible. Despite this, Nate didn't see any other boats on the water. Not even the one the Plasma group had escaped on.

    Hugh seemed mad still, standing near the front of the ship looking off at Castelia. But Nate decided to try talking to him anyhow. It made him less nervous than trying to speak to that woman. “Those guys were cowards, weren't they?” Nate asked.

    Hugh glanced at him, then nodded. “Trying to scare everyone into obeying them, but once you stand up to them, they're not so tough. Hmph.” He hit the railing with his fist. “Maybe most of them are only full of hot air, but there are a few that are monstrously talented. Don't think this is going to be easy the whole way.”

    “It hasn't all been easy,” he said, thinking of how long it had taken him to defeat Roxie. “What have you been doing? I thought you were going to head out with us from Aspertia.”

    “I was going to head out with Rosa,” he said. “Not that I'm jealous of you guys; don't take things the wrong way. At first, I was going to travel with my sister Violet, but she didn't seem as interested. On the other hand, Rosa was all fired up to go on a journey. And she's clever and brave. Don't be fooled by her surface act, as she was one of the top students in school. She would've been a big help, but she's also naive and too excitable. I was going to look after her. But then you came along.”

    Hearing that worried Nate. “What are you planning? It sounds like it could be trouble.”

    “It'll be trouble for them,” Hugh said bitterly. He leaned on the railing, looking to Castelia still. “You are new, so you wouldn't have heard. It was almost five years ago now when I first heard of Team Plasma. A lot of people only think they emerged about three years ago, but they've been around longer than that. What happened was... I was with my original starter Pokemon, a Lillipup, and we were with Violet. She had gotten a Pokemon too, a Purrloin; our grandfather had just caught them both for us. We were out playing on Route 19 when we were approached by a strange woman in black.

    “Since we were both new Trainers, we thought there wouldn't be any problem if we fought her. I mean, there hadn't been any trouble back then. But that woman, her Pokemon fought viciously. My Lillipup was hit really hard and I knew even back then that it was a serious wound. She defeated us and if it had been any normal fight, it would have ended there. Heck, most Trainers would offer to help if their opponent's Pokemon got hurt that badly. But instead, she threatened to turn her Pokemon on us if we didn't turn over our Pokemon to her. Both she and her Pokemon were merciless.”

    “That's horrible,” Nate said. “Most of the Pokemon battles I see seem to be more like games to the Pokemon I did have a hard time the first time I saw Ruby got hurt, but if it was that badly, I don't know how I'd feel.”

    Hugh bowed his head. “Most Pokemon are good, but this one, it seemed evil. There wasn't anything we could do about it either. I've never felt so helpless as I was at that moment. And then, our grandfather managed to find the Lillipup a few days later... he had died. We could never find my sister's Purrloin, even when the police sent out a list of Pokemon recovered from Team Plasma when they were broken up. I'm looking for her, but if she's still in possession of that woman, me and Vino are going to have to get a lot stronger, and build a great team.”

    “How will you know that particular Purrloin when you find it?” Nate asked.

    “Meow,” a Pokemon spoke up. Nate looked down, a bit startled by the meow when they were talking about a feline Pokemon. But, this one couldn't be Violet's old Pokemon. For one thing, it was a Skitty, with pink fur and a fluffy tail. It was wearing a yellow-orange scarf fitted to the right size for the small Pokemon, with a patch featuring peaches at the ends. The Skitty seemed to smile smugly at them.

    “Are you trying to tease me?” Hugh asked, briefly irritated. He rubbed his neck. “We gave the two of them collars which should have stayed with them no matter what. Possibly like this kitten's scarf. Even if that's off, there's the DNA registry for all Pokeballs, and the Purrloin should recognize me.”

    They would have continued talking, but Rosa ran up to them, pursued by Bard and Medusa. “Hey, isn't this great? It's like we're flying across the water!”

    “We are going pretty fast,” Hugh said, smiling and acting like they hadn't just been talking about what was probably his worst memory.

    Going over to Nate's other side, Rosa leaned over the railing and looked ahead. “Zoooom! Sometimes I dream about running over the water and I think it would be awesome to do that. Don't you think the bay is great?” Although her question could have been directed at either of them, she looked specifically at Nate.

    “It is,” he said, smiling. Medusa came up to investigate the new Pokemon, causing the Skitty to bat at her tentacles. “It would be nice to travel around on a smaller boat though, to be closer to the water. Or maybe dive. Is this a good area to dive in?”

    “I think so,” Hugh said. “Mostly when you hear of divers, they're off in Undella Bay or near Hamilau. You have to be careful here because of all the shipping barges that come through.”

    “Yeah, that could cause trouble,” Nate agreed.

    “Sometimes I think it would be cool to live here by the bay,” Rosa said. “Or at least along this river.”

    Nate shrugged. “Maybe. But I think I’d rather live by a lake in the woods. That way I wouldn't have to deal with all the city crowds everyday and could enjoy nature more.”

    Rosa laughed. “Me too!”

    A crooning call from behind them interrupted their conversation. It was another Pokemon, this time a blue turtle with a brown shell and a long curled tail, around which there was a yellow ribbon. At this, the Skitty flicked its tail before strolling over in an unconcerned manner. They were heading off to the side of the boat opposite of where Rosa had been.

    “Wow!” Rosa said, her eyes seeming to sparkle. “It's a Squirtle! I thought they were rare.”

    “They must be, because I wouldn't have known what to call it,” Hugh said.

    “I should ask her Trainer about her!” She then followed after the two Pokemon.

    “At least she's having a great day,” Nate said. But, the only others on the boat were the captain and that familiar-seeming woman. Maybe...

    Hugh turned around to watch her. “She lost Pokemon to Team Plasma too.”

    “Her too?” Nate asked, looking to him and briefly forgetting his uneasiness.

    He nodded. “They were living in Nimbasa at the time, but were convinced by some of the early Plasma speakers to release their Pokemon. There were a lot of people like them who fell under the pressure. Then they ended up moving out to Aspertia before Plasma fully came out in public over there. If their Pokemon were disappointed by that, they couldn't know because they left the area.”

    “Maybe one of them will recognize her,” Nate said, partly wondering aloud.

    “I hope so.” Then he looked at Nate. “Make sure to take good care of your Pokemon, and don't lose them. Also, take care of Rosa too.”

    Nate thought about it a moment, then nodded. “I think she can handle herself. But, I’ll keep an eye on her.”

    “Thanks. That's one less thing to worry about.” Then they heard Rosa yelp. “What now?” Hugh asked, going over to investigate.

    They found Rosa over by the other passenger on the ferry, a little pale and shaking. Bard, Medusa, and even River were trying to calm her down while the woman held a leafy lizard Pokemon close to reassure it. “I'm sorry about that,” she said. “Trey is actually quite friendly and he was probably trying to impress you.”

    “S-sorry,” Rosa said, putting her hands to her chest. “I, um, I came to ask about your Squirtle and I wasn't expecting to get jumped on by a, a lizard.”

    “Ththh,” the Treecko replied, crawling onto the woman's shoulder opposite Rosa to watch the girl cautiously.

    “Just a scare?” Nate asked, putting his hand on Rosa's shoulder.

    She tensed briefly, but relaxed and smiled on seeing him. “Oh, ah, I'll be okay.” She sat down on the bench near the woman. The Squirtle came over to Rosa and reached a paw up to her.

    “I wouldn't mind talking about her, although these are just some friends visiting me,” the woman said. “That's Stacy, the leader of this little group. She's really sweet, but she's also quite strong, more than most people expect. Oh, and the Skitty there is Kip. Watch out for him, since he can be the most trouble.”

    Kip purred loudly, puffing his chest up in pride.

    “How can any Pokemon that small be trouble?” Hugh asked.

    She laughed a little. “Being small increases his mischief, I think.”

    “Who are you?” Nate asked. “I have the weirdest feeling that I should know you.”

    “Well,” she put her hand to her cheek. “Most people around here can't pronounce my name. Call me Ysabell, that will do. I'm a fortune teller and collector of stories, but I travel a lot and see many people. I'm sorry, I couldn't say that I recognize you...” she bit her lip.

    “Maybe she just looks like someone you knew,” Hugh suggested.

    “Maybe.”

    “Wait, you're a fortune teller?” Rosa asked, thinking of something. “Like you can see the future or tell what's the truth?”

    “Ah-haha, well,” she smiled and looked to the Treecko. “I can, but it's a way of mysteries. Some answers may be clear, others won't be revealed until more is known. If you wish for some fortunes, or perhaps an attempt to answer a question you have, I could try.” She opened her bag, getting an excited chitter from Trey. “Yes, I know you like the book especially much. It too much for even you to read, though.”

    Rosa smiled. “That'd be great! We have lots of questions.”

    “We don't mean to bother you, but that would be a help,” Nate said.

    Ysabell nodded. “That's fine; I'm more likely to cause you trouble than you are to cause it to me. So I hope this won't be a bother.” She then pulled out a large hardback book, enough to cover her lap while closed. It had a brown and gold cover with no title and the pages... well they were filled with some kind of text that Nate found illegible. “What questions do you have?”

    “Where's Hilda Medley?” Rosa asked, peering over and trying to understand the book too.

    “Hilda...” she raised on hand above the book and half-closed her eyes. The pages then turned of their own accord, eventually falling onto one that had a picture of a stained glass window on it. The window, strangely enough, showed Zekrom and Reshiram. “She's in a church.”

    “What's she doing in a church?” Hugh asked.

    “That's all I can tell now,” Ysabell said. “Any other questions?”

    “I'm looking for a particular Purrloin, one that used to belong to my sister,” Hugh said.

    She nodded. “Okay, I should be able to...” she focused on searching through her book, eventually landing on a picture of an ornate knife. “The Purrloin is still with her captor. Only, this person... I wouldn't be able to locate her, except by luck. I'm sorry.”

    “At least I know more of what to expect,” Hugh said, his mood turning grim.

    “Even if you find her, she's still going to be difficult to deal with. Be careful.”

    “Where's Kyurem?” Nate asked, thinking that might help.

    The next page turned to had a frost pattern all over it. “It's hard to say. Behind a wall?” She frowned and tried brushing the page off. “The frost is making it difficult to read this page. I'm sorry.”

    Watching her work her fortune telling, Nate wondered how she did this. It was like magic, but even in this world, that seemed far-fetched. He decided on a question that was both helpful to get an answer and a test of her ability. “It's fine. How about Keldeo? Where is he?”

    “All right,” she said, turning the pages. This time, she ended up on a page that depicted a scene on a ferry. Not only that, but it was a scene of this moment, with all of them and all the Pokemon in the same places: Bard and Stacy sitting by Rosa, River standing on the bench behind her, Ruby and Argent by Nate, Medusa just behind them, Vino gripping Hugh's jeans, Trey on Ysabell's shoulder, and Kip sitting on the ground watching. Even the Treecko's eyes went wide at that picture. “Oh, he seems to be right here!” Then she laughed and turned a single page. “Hah, well we shouldn't be looking at that too long. Ever see a live TV broadcast where the recorder is also the viewer? Don't look to far into the abyss.”

    While that made Rosa and Hugh laugh, it made Nate feel nervous for reasons he couldn't explain. Ysabell seemed to be a real fortune teller. Or more? “I see... we've been told something like that before. One more from me, if it's okay...”

    “You want to know about your ability, right?” Ysabell asked, taking a quick glance back at the page. “At least that's what this text says is your next question.”

    “That was it,” he said. Hopefully it would be the last question he had to be around for.

    “Whoa, that's kind of scary,” Rosa said, delighted to be scared like that.

    “What is it exactly?” she asked, looking up at him.

    “I can't really answer that,” Nate said. “I see things on rare occasion, sometimes like the memories of others, but sometimes not. Plus my own memory is scrambled, so I have no idea why.”

    Ysabell thought about it a moment, then offered her hand. “Here, it may be quicker to have the book examine you. Put your hand with mine, just outside of its reach.”

    Nodding, he did as asked. As the book began to turn, he felt something odd with the hand there. It was like static, not sending out sparks but emitting a low level of energy. When the book settled, it was near the end of the book, on a page with some kind of chart.

    She studied it for a moment, putting her hand on the page. “It would... you have the power known as Memory Link. So you're right, you are seeing the memories of others. This power is most often temporary, given by a legendary Pokemon to help with a task they assign. Once your task is complete, the Memory Link will no longer be active. And then,” she shifted her focus to the chart, “when you were given the power, you were also given some images of the near future to help guide you. These images will be triggered in the same way as the memories: when you're in the right place, with the right person, at the right time, or any combination of that. They're like a preview of the future, although not set in stone. There's a chance that you won't even be present for those events, but the people, places, and items involved, they will be important to you.”

    “Wow, that's pretty cool,” Rosa said, looking at him. “If you could learn to control that, you could learn many things.”

    “I don’t know if I can control it,” he said, rubbing his head.

    “That's right, it's not under conscious control,” Ysabell said. “But at least you know what to call it...” her Xtransciever rang, causing her to be distracted. “Oh, it's Sally. Sorry, but I need to take this call and she's a little hard to talk with. I hope I helped you a little bit.” She then turned her attention to the call.

    Because of that, the three of them headed back to the front of the ferry. “Was that sort of helpful?” Hugh asked, his eyes focused in thought as he walked. “She could have at least told you guys which church Hilda was at.”

    Rosa shrugged. “Maybe her book doesn't even know more than that. But hey, at least the Purrloin is still alive. There's hope you can get her back! Hey, what do you guys want to do when we get into Castelia?”

    “Find a hotel and get some sleep,” Nate replied. “It's been a long day.”

    She laughed. “I suppose it has been. But it's been just wonderful! Hey Hugh, did you hear? We got to make a movie!”

    “You what?” Hugh asked, confused. So for the rest of the trip, Rosa told him all about what had happened after they had both beat the gym.

    It had been a long day... but a good one.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  11. #61
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    New chapter's at the end of previous page. Go read that first!

    Now we have an author appearance and character cameos! The three Pokemon here, as some of you might remember, are from PMD: Loopholes. Normally, I wouldn't use an author insert. Haven't for years. However, the name Ysavvryl comes from a character of that sort from the first full novel I ever wrote (never published, probably won't unless it's heavily edited and changed). She was an angelic dragon guide I used in trying to railroad the plot when I kept wandering off in tangents. Although, I've been using the name for myself so much that I'd have a hard time writing that character as anything but that kind of role. So... she appears here to give some vague help, but as a human this time. Which is good, because reading over her original description is pretty ridiculous to me now. Ah well, have to write bad stuff to learn!

    And no, my real name is not Ysabell. But I would totally name a Koffing/Weezing Hathor. Beelzebub would be cool too, but I associate that with Gengar due to other stories I've written.
    Last edited by Ysavvryl; 20th April 2013 at 12:17 AM.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

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    ...Now that's just confusing. Team Marmalade are there just as a cameo, probably.

        Spoiler:- Spoilers for Loopholes:

    But Ysabell? That's just to confuse us. Or, as you said, railroad and exposit.

    ..still confusing though.

    On the other hand, theory time!

        Spoiler:- Whose turn is it this week?:
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  13. #63
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    Wow, for a moment I was forming a conspiracy about Violet's purrloin being Pricilla... Then Ysabell shows up and says that she is still alive. Oh well...
    Last edited by 3D992; 24th April 2013 at 7:14 PM.
    I have:
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    I used to liek mudkipz, then I took an arrow in the knee. However the arrow turned out to be a seaking. It yelled "F*** yeah" so I screamed "FUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!". The seaking's face became that of a troll while mine became forever alone. The situation was super effective.

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    Chapter 13: The Hilarious And Hospitable Hidden Harlequin Hunt

    May 28
    Castelia City

    Although Rosa left the lost Xtransciever out on a sidetable, she didn't get a call back until the next morning, when she was brushing her hair. “Hello, you got me again,” she said cheerfully as she brought it closer to the chair she had been sitting in.

    “That's good,” the guy said, sounding like he wasn't a morning person. “Listen, sorry about how we got cut off last time. It's been a rough week.”

    “That's okay,” Rosa said. “Days like that happen. Anyhow, I'm Rosa.”

    “That's a pretty name. Um, I'm Curtis.” He grumbled for a moment. “Ugh, sorry, really not the best of mornings for me. I've got a few minutes to talk. What'll you be doing in Castelia City?”

    “Today, I dunno,” she said, back to brushing her hair. Bard was already searching around her room for something to play with. “I'm traveling around with my friend Nate; we're both Pokemon Trainers challenging the Pokemon League. We'll either be training or exploring the city today, since we just arrived.”

    “Really? I always thought that sounded like an interesting thing to do, traveling around at your own pace and working with your Pokemon to accomplish a worthy goal.”

    She laughed. “I wasn't thinking quite that lofty when I started out! I just wanted to have fun, you know, like Hilda did. I was hoping to get to meet her too, since she's my hero, but apparently nobody seen her in a long time.”

    “Huh, I hadn't heard about that. Then again, I haven't heard about her on TV or anything lately. I didn't think anything of it because, you know, fame tends to be fleeting.”

    “More than just not hearing about her. Even her friends don't know where she is. It's a mystery, and maybe we can solve it. You should travel for the League too if that's what you want. It's tough, but great at the same time.”

    “I couldn't do that, not now,” Curtis said, sounding disappointed. “I'm busy with work almost every day, so I don't have time for that. I even have to follow the schedule for when I spend time with my Pokemon and train them.”

    Rosa raised her eyebrows. “Wow, that's rough. What kind of job do you have?”

    “Ah, hah hah, I can't really say.” Even his laughs seem nervous now.

    That didn't seem right, so she decided to try cheering him up. “Whoa, are you like a government secret agent with mysterious super powers? That is sooo cool!”

    This time, he broke into genuine laughter. “N-no, not that. I wish, though. That would be amazing.”

    “But that's exactly what a secret agent would say to throw off suspicion! Don't worry; I won't let anyone in on your little secret.”

    “Oh dear, what have I gotten into now?” Curtis said in amusement. “More seriously, are you going to be in Castelia City all day?”

    “I should be,” she said.

    “Good, then I'll call you back if we can arrange to meet up. I've already told everyone to call back to the old phone I'm using now, so I should be the only one calling the one you have. I don't know if we can get together today, but keep hanging onto that phone for now.”

    “Are you sure?” she asked. “I might be able to get it to you quicker through the company.”

    “Let's just try to meet up in person for now. Anyhow, I've got to go. Talk to you later, Rosa.”

    “Yeah, later Curtis,” she said, turning off the Xtransciever when the call disconnected. What was bothering him? Hopefully she'd brightened his morning a little bit with the jokes. She continued working on her hair, her thoughts turning to Nate and if he was up yet.

    -+-

    Nate was woken up by the shadow of a train outside of his window disrupting the early sunlight. He sat up and opened his eyes, but the train had already gone by. Wondering at how little noise it had made, he got out of bed and looked around the hotel room. Argent was already up and investigating the TV, while Ruby was still asleep on the other bed. Rosa had taken another room. Due to being outside the elevated train tracks and to being so small, these rooms had been low priced. Not that he minded; the train wasn't that much of a problem.

    He got dressed, roused his Pignite, and prepared for the day. Castelia was a big city, but Rosa assured him that there would be places to train Pokemon even in a place like this. Meeting up with her in the lobby, they headed out to a diner in the same building for some breakfast.

    “Last night, I was looking on the internet and found a debate about whether or not you should feed your Pokemon like this,” Rosa said. “Because if you hook their Pokeballs up to a charger station, then you don't really have to feed them, just make sure they get some water daily.”

    “That doesn't seem healthy for a living creature,” Nate said, looking at their Pokemon. They were all eating breakfast too; Ruby had the most, presumably because her natural fires needed a lot of energy.

    Rosa nodded. “And they're happier with actual food, I think. Not only that, but we keep ours out and around a lot. Maybe they need more energy like that; I could ask my Mom about it. But I certainly wouldn't keep them cooped up in a Pokeball all day.”

    “I didn't even have them in their Pokeballs last night,” Nate said.

    “Me either! So, what do we want to do now that we're in Castelia?”

    He shrugged. “Look around, as usual. Do you know of anywhere that might be associated with Hilda?”

    Surprisingly, Rosa nodded. “Oh yeah, the central plaza. When she was here to beat Burgh's Gym, there was one day where she somehow got a hold of a cape just like the one Ghetsis always wore and she wore that near the fountain and mocked him in a parody of his big long-winded speeches. It was really amazing. So yeah, that place.”

    “Okay, then we'll have to go there,” he said.

    Without warning, a glittering jingling colorful ball bounced onto their table, precariously hitting between his plate and the bin of condiments and napkins. Bard was immediately distracted from his meal, looking at it with big shining eyes. However, Ruby managed to pluck it out of the air first. The Pignite teasingly held it over her head while the Dewott dropped under the table and gave her a begging look from there.

    “Oh dear, I seem to have tossed the ball your way,” a cheery voice said behind him. Then a harlequin dressed in bright orange, red, and silver was standing by him, with his hands on the table. The bells on the three tips of his hat jingled as he shifted his head. “Sorry, but at least I made your Pokemon's morning more fun!”

    Rosa laughed and tried to snatch the ball from Ruby (but she was too nimble and got it away). “It sure did. Aw, come on Ruby, give the ball back.”

    The harlequin flicked his wrist and made another ball appear. “No problem; they can keep it. I've got plenty hanging around.”

    Nudging his Pokemon, Nate pointed down a space between tables where no one was sitting. Ruby nodded and tossed the harlequin's ball that way. Bard tore after it, knocking over several chairs and crashing into the wall as he caught it. Thankfully, he didn't break anything doing that and even the staff made a few chuckles as Bard proudly came back to their table with the prized ball in hand.

    “Aw, you look so happy,” Rosa said, patting Bard on the head. “Thanks for that.”

    “Hey, did I happen to hear that you two are new in town?” the harlequin said. “Castelia is a wonderful place. Do you have bikes to get around with? All of the vehicle traffic is underground or over-ground, so you're free to bike wherever you like on the ground.”

    “I have a bike,” she said.

    “You do?” Nate asked.

    She shrugged. “Yeah, but I didn't want to use it because you don't. But I thought it might be handy.”

    The harlequin tossed the jingling ball up. “Well you're in luck! Today we're having an extra-special event for the Medal Meet: the Hilarious And Hospitable Hidden Harlequin Hunt! Bike around all day and find the five hidden harlequins all over the city, not including me here in the hotel, by nine o'clock and we'll let you keep the bike you use. Make it in good time and I'll throw in an extra prize package.”

    “The bike I use?” Nate asked. Were they really just going to give it to him?

    “Yes!” the harlequin said, whirling his hands about and making a bike appear out of thin air (or probably from virtual storage with some flourish). It was candy apple red with a large wire basket on back, all of it sturdy looking but light. On part of the frame, there was a small device wrapped around the bar. “For a guy like you, a red one! You may borrow it for the day and if you win, I'll take the tracking device off and you may keep it.” The harlequin winked. “You might even be able to use the device to help you. Maybe. Maybe not. You'll just have to explore around and see! Well, good luck and have fun! This is a great city to take a bike ride in. Castelia, Castelia, here we come!” The harlequin then whirled off (literally), singing his song and talking to another group about his hide and seek contest.

    “Wow, that's lucky!” Rosa said, admiring the bike. “We were going to just explore, but now we have a mission!”

    He shrugged. “Yeah, but we need to find five people in this big city. Well, I’ll finish breakfast and then fiddle with that tracking device and see if I can find what he was hinting at.”

    Since the bike was in the way in the diner, he later took it into the lobby to look it over. When he was examining the tracking device, he got an alert from his Xtransceiver that it was trying to send an app to him. Letting that download revealed that it was a tracker for the harlequins, which would alert them to the location of one of them through a matching device they wore. That made the task of finding them look more manageable, so they headed out to ride around the city with their Pokemon following along if they wanted.

    Rosa's bike was a light sparkling blue, with a white wicker basket decorated with silk flowers behind the seat and ribbons of various blues and silvers on the handles. Keeping their gear in the baskets (and one Pokemon, as River decided to ride in the basket of Rosa's bike), they were able to get around the streets quickly. The morning air was misty, yet the sun still shone bright. But they didn't get far from the hotel when they saw something interesting out on the docks.

    It was a massive ship made of metal and wood, over three times the size of the ferry they had ridden. There were large walls around the body of the ship, making it hard to see the deck even from their position on the higher streets. Painted a motley arrangement of blue, black, and gray, there weren't any signs of what the ship was for. And yet the oddest thing about it was that it had three large masts with canvas sails hanging from them. Someone was up there, doing work on the sails.

    “Wow, what's a frigate doing here?” Rosa asked, enchanted at the sight. “Nobody uses that style of ship these days, especially with sails.”

    “Maybe someone rich who really likes history?” Nate wondered aloud. “Or sailing? How do you know it's a frigate?”

    She pointed over areas as she talked. “The shape of the hull is made to be especially maneuverable and fast, plus there's the way the masts and sails are formed. They're primarily warships with lots of cannons, and it looks like they've got most of the weapon ports sealed up. Probably good, since people probably wouldn't like it if it was fully armed. I went through a phase of really liking ships when I was a kid and I still remember most of it.”

    “I see.” He checked his Xtranciever. “I’m getting a reading from the app that's nearby. Around...” he glanced away from the dock, then pointed out a building. “In that place.”

    “Let's go then.” She took one last look at the ship, then followed him across the street to the building.

    There was a bike rack they could leave their bikes at. While there were only a few others, Nate thought that some people might keep their bikes in digital storage, like how he kept most items that he didn't think he'd need right away to keep his traveling bag manageable. They weren't going to be here long, so they left the bikes outside while they went into a building with a sign that said 'Passerby Analytics- a research facility'.

    There was a pleasant looking office setting inside, although there didn't seem to be many areas for a lot of workers. Maybe most of them worked upstairs. Instead, there were various tables in the middle, with booths where groups could talk privately in other areas. On the walls, electronic charts scrolled through various opinion polls. The harlequin there was dressed in an outfit much like the one they had met earlier. He was occupying himself with balancing various objects on top of a ruler.

    When they got within a few feet of each other, both Nate's Xtransceiver and the harlequin's played a cheery chime. The harlequin tossed the items on the ruler up and caught them in his hands. “Hel-lo! I've been found already!” He whirled around, putting the items on a nearby table. Then he winked at them. “Good work in figuring out the device.”

    “It wasn't that hard,” Nate said. “But yes, I'm here about your hide and seek thing.”

    “The Hilarious And Hospitable Hidden Harlequin Hunt!” he corrected. “We're here to make sure you see many wonderful things about Castelia! So, this place,” he danced aside a couple of feet, then waved dramatically to the electronic charts. “This is Passerby Analytics, a place where they survey ideas! Marketing, politics, art, Pokemon, education, entertainment, harlequins, whatever it is, they have lots of questions to ask about it, and a lot of answers they've gathered. You might be able to earn a bit of money or a new product if you qualify for one of their big studies. But, they also offer a free app that lets you survey anyone who passes you by! Just pick a survey, activate your Xtransciever, and anyone who has the same app can find your survey and take it, letting you get a picture of what the people around you think.”

    “I’ve seen that app,” Rosa said. “It was really popular in Nimbasa a few years back.”

    The harlequin nodded. “Yup! They're adding and changing the surveys all the time, so you might still find out new and exciting things.” Then he danced back to them. “Since you've found me and listened to my tale, you have earned a Harlequin Medal!” He produced a green metal coin that fit in the palm of Nate's hand. “Find all five in good time and win a wonderful prize package! Good luck, and have fun biking in Castelia. Castelia, Castelia, here we come!” He then started singing and grabbed the things to balance on the ruler again.

    On their way out, Nate commented, “Odd place to put as a potential tourist spot, if that's what this Harlequin Hunt is about.”

    “Their app comes and goes as a fad,” Rosa said. “And they do have some fun surveys, although it would be more fun if they let you write your own surveys. Sometimes they do, but as a contest where they only put out a handful of user-written surveys. Maybe it might be good for some extra cash, if we can.”

    Nate shrugged. “We seem to be making a fairly good amount with just battling earnings from the League. Maybe if we needed to get something big.”

    “Where do we go for the next one?”

    He checked his Xtransciever. “I'm getting one from further down this street, and another about the same distance in the other direction, I think.”

    “Hey, would you two like to take a survey?” a woman called out before they left the building entirely. She came over to them. “It won't take long. Fifteen minutes tops and I’ll give you a little something for it.”

    He glanced at Rosa, who shrugged. “I guess we have time,” he said.

    The woman grinned. “Great! Come over to one of the tables and I’ll get the forms to you in a bit. Just don't peek!”

    Sitting across from each other, they shared a table to fill out the survey given to them. It seemed to be some kind of opinion or personality survey. In a long list of questions, Nate was asked how he ranked certain traits in others, like integrity, kindness, wit, and beauty. The next section asked about things he valued, like if he wanted to be popular or if he would rather study (that didn't need a second thought to pick the latter). Then, it asked him a series of questions about situations and had various responses as the choices. Such as if he was surprised with a party, would he be spooked, be excited, or be mad? By the end of it, Nate wasn't sure what value this kind of survey held for research. It seemed more like fluff. But, they did do surveys for entertainment, didn't they?

    When he was done, he passed it back to the woman. She told him to wait for a little while for her to analyze the two surveys. They chatted for a little bit of what kind of surveys they would want to run. Rosa wanted to ask about making some books into movies while Nate wanted to know what kind of myths people liked. Then, the woman came back to them. “Thanks for taking the survey,” she said, grinning. “As for the results, it says that you two share a lot of connections, but balance each other well in areas of difference. This means that you're a wonderfully compatible couple who could be together for many years.”

    “What?” Rosa asked. “We're not dating.”

    “You're not?” she asked. “But you came in with each other, and you look so cute together.”

    “It's good to know we'd work together as friends, at least according to your survey,” Nate said. “But yeah, we're not dating.”

    “Oh, well...” she shrugged, but kept smiling as she handed them a small ball of red yarn. “Take this anyways. It's an accessory that you may find useful on your Pokemon. Have a good day, then.”

    Once they were really out of the building, Rosa looked up what she had. “It's a Destiny Knot,” she said. “Looks like if another Pokemon uses a move that causes infatuation, then it will also be infatuated.”

    Nate rolled his eyes. “Of course.”

    She looked puzzled. “Of course? What does that mean? It's just a small ball of red yarn, although I suppose there must be something about it that makes it work.”

    “It's a symbol in...” he waved his hands a bit, then pulled his bike from the rack. There were lots of little droplets from the dispersing mist. “In several cultures, of the idea of the destiny of love. You know, the couple that falls in love at first sight and is destined to be together for all of their lives. It's said that they're connected by a red thread tied around their fingers, binding them together. Not literally, but a symbol.”

    “Oh, that's why she wanted to give it to us.” She sighed as they rode off to the next street. “Why do people keep thinking we're a couple?”

    “People like the idea of love,” Nate said. “Don't you like talking about people who get together and eventually get married?”

    “I guess,” she said, blushing a bit.

    Going down the next street, they spotted the local Gym, with a bright red and white Pokeball sign above the door. Like with the other two, it fit in nicely in the city. The signal didn't send them in there, though. It sent them into the building opposite the Gym, which had a tall neon sign listing many businesses located inside.

    The harlequin was just inside, juggling many of the jingly balls. But going in there, Nate felt a sense of familiarity without it actually being familiar. Was this another place? He reached into his bag and got his storage device to pull out his migraine medication. Maybe if he caught it coming on, it wouldn't be as bad.

    The Xtranscievers chimed, oddly startling. The harlequin came over without stopping her juggling act. “Hey-o, you're on the hunt? Well you've found me! Welcome.” She bowed, then started pulling a few balls out of rotation.

    “Hi,”Rosa said. “What're you here for?”

    “The Medal Office!” she said in a sing-song voice. “You can go up to the fourth floor if you want to visit. We're a wonderful organization that puts together many fun contests and prizes, much like the Hilarious And Hospitable Hidden Harlequin Hunt you're on now. Some of it we do for awareness of good causes and organizations, and some we just do for fun. And here is your fabulous medal for finding me!” She brought out an orange medal while juggling, then tossed it to Rosa.

    “Thanks, but he's the one with the bike of yours,” she said, starting to hand it to him. Then she saw what he was doing. “You okay?”

    “Maybe,” he said. “Is there a water fountain around? Or somewhere to get a drink?”

    “We run vending machines too,” the harlequin said. “I think... ta-da-da!” She shifted her juggling to one hand, then pulled out a bottle of soda out of thin air. “I can go up to get more, so take this if you're not feeling well. Our vending machines are everywhere, selling drinks and snacks that both humans and Pokemon love. So if you like it, just look for the Fun-Times Vending Machines!” She then handed the soda to him.

    “Thanks,” he said, opening it up to drink while taking the medicine. Then he sat down on one of the lobby couches.

    Rosa sat next to him. “Did you see something?”

    “I might,” he said, trying to relax. “I just felt something like I had before.” He took another drink, then closed his eyes.

    Then it came to him.



    In the now quiet lobby, Hilda was sitting with a man who had a full head of dark gray hair. One of his ears had a scarred nick in it. “What are you going to do now?” she asked. “The police are looking for you.”

    “I know,” the man said. “I mean to go talk with them. I don't know what they want with me, but,” he shook his head. “I'll accept responsibility for what happened. We all need to do that, although I’m not sure how many of the others will.”

    She put her hand on his. “If they put you in prison, then I’ll come visit you every day, Dad.”

    Smiling, he squeezed her hand. “Thanks. I heard some things; were you sent to look for us? Some won't want to accept that we were being wrong, but now that things are out in the open, I'm sure others will. Like...” then he spoke a name that caused the vision to blur.

    It was another scene of that same man, but looking a lot better with black hair. He was speaking, but what it was about wasn't clear. Like a dream, or a half-forgotten memory.



    Like one of his own memories?

    Nate found that he wasn't holding his soda. Instead, Rosa had it. “Nate?” She sounded worried.

    “I'm okay,” he said. “May I have that back?”

    “Sure,” she said, giving it to him. “You went totally silent, and then you started shaking and nearly dropped that. Did something bad happen here?”

    “I don't think it's bad,” he said, then took a sip of the soda. “Hilda was talking with her father here. There was... something going on between them, something about him possibly ending up in prison. I didn't see why but then it changed into something else. I think I’ve known someone like her father; maybe he just looked like him. I started to remember something, but then I couldn't really grasp it.”

    “Maybe if you met him, he might jog your memory more?” Rosa suggested. “Although, I wouldn't know who her father is. Might be able to ask Bianca about that, if she'd tell us.”

    “It's a long shot, I think, but if we get a chance maybe,” he said, then sat back in the couch.

    “Are you gonna be okay?” she asked.

    He nodded. “I think so, since I caught it in time. Give me a moment to rest and I think we can keep going.”

    While he rested, she checked on her email and did some other things online with her Xtransciever. Another person on the Harlequin Hunt came in, getting the same spiel about the Medal Office from the harlequin (although not about the vending machines; that had probably been a chance that she had sprang on to continue advertising for her employer). When he was ready to move on, the closest one was the one back on Port Street, past the Passerby Analytics building and the hotel. This signal was coming from the Unova Pokemon Battle Company.

    The lobby of this place looked much like the one in the other building where the Medal Office was, except that on all of the walls, there were posters for various Pokemon battle groups. The Unova Pokemon League, the Battle Subway, even something calling itself a Triples Enthusiasts Club, there were many groups being advertised. Most prominent, there was an oversized poster for the battle company itself. 'Challenge us and help improve the wonderful products we make for you!' was what it claimed.

    The harlequin here was with three small monkey Pokemon, playing games and doing tricks with them. When the chime came, the three monkeys hooted and began dancing about. The harlequin turned around. “Who's come looking for me? Is it you, pretty little miss?” He made an exaggerated bow, nearly touching his feet with his hat.

    Giggling, Rosa shook her head. “No, it's him.”

    He straightened up and saluted Nate. “Oh, I see. You're a lucky fellow to have her.”

    “We're not dating,” Nate said, smiling in amusement at how often this was happening today.

    Grinning back, the harlequin put his finger to his rubber nose. “You might want to make your move soon, since a lovely lass like her isn't going to stay single for long. Now then, you have found me at the magnificent Battle Company!” He gestured to the poster, quickly mimicked by his monkeys, who had all gotten on the back of one of the couches. “They make many great things that can be used by and on Pokemon in many situations, helping them out and making things more fun. They also make handy things for Trainers, like handy apps and references. Did I say handy twice? Sorry, but you know, everyone has two hands! Being handy twice is great!”

    Rosa laughed at that, but Nate just smiled. “It would be.”

    The harlequin bowed again. “Being that they make many good things, they are always looking to improve. And so, to this end, on several days of the week, Trainers are welcome to drop by and challenge available employees. Impress enough of the staff and you might even face the unusual CEO of the company, said to be one of the best Trainers in all of Castelia. Maybe later you can come drop in on them, but today, you are on the hunt! And so, here is your magnificent medal for finding me!” He then passed over a medal to Nate, identical to the other two, but red in color.

    A battling company sounded interesting, like a place that could be used for training. While battling wild Pokemon helped their own become better, facing other human opponents, especially those that studied battling as their jobs, would help the two of them improve as well. But like the harlequin said, they were on a hunt today and with three found, it would be nice to get it done quickly and try for the special prize.

    Following the signals, they came upon more skyscrapers as well as a row of cafes that were preparing to serve lunch. Some of the smells coming from them were delicious, reminding them of how much biking they'd done this morning. But they decided to go check out the next harlequin location before getting lunch.

    As indicated by the statues outside, the building was an art museum. The harlequin here was busily making scribbles on a large drawing pad near the entrance. “Oh, hello there cutie,” she said as both of their Xtranscievers chimed. “Welcome to Studio Castelia, a wonder of a building. Down here is a public display of local artists, from the wonderful Burgh to up and coming stars in the art world. It's free to look around, but if you want to pay a bit, you can go upstairs to see displays of many more works of art for a cultural experience... or date.” She winked, but kept talking before they could interrupt. “Further up is an art school, if you feel creative yourself. I don't go, but I’ve got talent, don't you think?” She showed off the page which had a weirdly distorted face sticking its tongue out at them. It was so scribbly that it went beyond childish into straight up weird.

    “Talent for something,” Nate agreed.

    The harlequin giggled. “Oh, you're such a flirt. Okay, here, this is your lovely medal for finding this place of lovely culture.” She then produced a yellow medal and handed it over to Nate. “Be sure to take a moment to look around. You might find something of interest.”

    After putting the medal with the others in his bag, Nate decided to look around. Rosa was already looking at some of the paintings. She pointed him to one. “Look, it's Keldeo.”

    Interested, he looked at the picture. It was a Pokemon that seemed to be frolicking in a river underneath a waterfall. Keldeo seemed to be a cross between a tall long haired dog and a short pony, with white fur over much of its body, but a long wild mane of white, blue, and red hair over its forehead and down the back of its neck, which continued on down its tail. A pale blue crystal horn came out from the middle of its forehead; water droplets flew off of the horn as it played in the water.

    “That's quite a painting,” Nate said, looking into the Pokemon's eyes. He could almost see its personality just in the image, a Pokemon that was playful and impish but one that could turn out to have deadly skill if the need for its power was there. “It... fits Keldeo well.”

    “Do you know about him?” Rosa asked. She looked down, touching the sword necklace she seemed to be wearing daily now.

    “I can think about him,” Nate said, rubbing his forehead. It was throbbing again, but passed quickly. “It was in some books at the school. He is loyal, honorable, and noble like all of the swordsmen guardians of the land. But, where the others keep Pokemon safe from humans and rarely trust humans, Keldeo is not as reserved as the others. He will jump in if he witnesses a human abusing a Pokemon, but he will just as quickly jump to the defense of a human that is being abused.”

    “Yeah. I hope we do get to meet him.”

    Nate chuckled. “Of course; he's of your favorite type.”

    She laughed. “Not just that, but it is a plus! I have this of his; I keep thinking maybe...” she drew the tiny sword out of the case quickly, but then it turned out to be not as tiny as before. Rosa held up the longsword in front of her. “All right, I got it to work this time!”

    “Where did you get that sword?” Nate asked, staring at it in disbelief. Sure, one could make items appear and disappear in this world with their item storage technology, but this clearly wasn't the same thing. He'd seen the toothpick sized sword before.

    “My parents gave it to me,” she said, turning it around and looking back at the painting. “Apparently they met Keldeo once.”

    An idea came to him, so he looked around. Most of their Pokemon had gone back into their Pokeballs while they were biking, but Argent and River were still out and about. “Have you tried to give that to River? Or one of your other Pokemon? If that belongs to Keldeo, and if what Meloetta said was right, maybe bringing it into contact with them will reveal their true self.”

    “I thought of that, but they won't take it from me,” Rosa said. River even shook her head to the suggestion. Then Rosa focused on the sword a little longer before it turned tiny again. “I'm not even sure how to use this, but it must be able to do something more, I think.”

    “Odd. We might want to look into it.” Then he pointed out a sign he'd noticed. “It looks like the current show is about local legends of Unova. There might be other pictures of interest here.”

    “Oh yeah,” she said, so they looked further into the gallery.

    Most of the paintings were of the legends about Pokemon, but there were some other myths on display. On the back wall, there were three paintings that stood out to the two of them. They were of the three legendary dragons of Unova. Not only that, but they were very recent, depicting them with their modern day partners. Hilda was with Kyurem in a snowy area, a guy named Hilbert was with Reshiram in a rocky mountainous area, and the former leader of Plasma N was with Zekrom in a forest opening.

    Rosa pointed to the two latter paintings. “See these two guys? They were crowned the Kings back then, before they were recognized as heroes. Not only that, but they turned out to be brothers. Twin brothers, just like in the old legends about the twin heroes that originally made Reshiram and Zekrom what they were.”

    “That's spooky,” Nate said. “Is Hilda related to them?”

    She shrugged. “I don't think so. I hope not, anyhow, because there were rumors going around that she was dating or in love with one of them. Although, maybe that was like what's going on with us, just rumors because they were all friends. I did hear from them when they talked on TV that they were all friends, even though the way things were made N an enemy of the others.”

    But seeing those paintings didn't trigger any connection for Nate, not like seeing the picture of Keldeo earlier. Since they were both feeling hungry from biking around all morning, they headed across the street to find something to eat. The street was starting to get more crowded, so if they wanted to find a table, they would need to do so soon before the major lunch rush came.

    Once they had eaten, Nate searched for the last harlequin signal. It led them further away from the ports, into the center of the city. And it was quite a nice center, a round open plaza that was limited to pedestrians and bikes. There were clusters of trees and flowers, a large fountain in the center, a grouping of various vending machines, benches, picnic tables, and what seemed like a natural stage in a raised area around the fountain. On the fountain's edge, there was a harlequin dancing around in a goofy way for a small audience.

    “This is the place!” Rosa said, pointing to the fountain. “I mean, where Hilda made fun of Ghetsis. Maybe you'll see that.”

    “Maybe,” he said, looking around. “I shouldn't get the harlequin's attention unless I'm sure I won't see something. But then,” he paused. “I don't feel like I did when I entered that lobby.”

    After a moment, they went closer to the fountain. Still not seeing anything, it almost startled Nate when the app beep with the harlequin's. She was balancing on one hand. “Oh-ho-ho, it seems I have to do my job now!” she said, elegantly flipping herself back to her feet. “Whoooo's my visitor?”

    The people who had been watching her started to move on, so Nate and Rosa were able to come forward while walking their bikes over. “That was me,” he said, putting the kickstand down so he could let go of the bike.

    “How nice! Welcome to Central Plaza!” She clapped her hands and twirled around. “Okay, I'll tell you about it. Castelia is built like a circle, from the formation of the docks to the northern edge of the city. And Central Plaza is the center hub of everything, the second that has ever been! It is a beautiful plaza where many people gather for celebrations, Pokemon battles, and contests. You should come every day and see what's going on!” The harlequin made a grand sweeping bow.

    “What do you mean by the second hub?” Nate asked.

    She tapped her head before standing back up. “At one time, Castelia was a smaller circle. The first hub was also the place where the city was founded, where the founder had the magnificent idea of building a magnificent city. If you want to go on a hunt for the foundation plaza, it could be a bigger hunt than searching for us harlequins.” The harlequin nodded, then pulled a blue medal apparently out of her ear. “Hey, even if I'm in an obvious spot, you found me well! So here, take this metal.” She tossed it over, then pointed to a street they hadn't explored. “Oh, and and a free tip cause I’m nice! There's a video game company down that street. They're pretty cool, because they sponsor a free and public battle dojo for all sorts of Trainers to train themselves and their Pokemon. Not only that, but they have this awesome virtual reality machine running. I saw it the other day, and wow! I really wanted to be there, but the office told me to be here. Have a good one! Castelia, Castelia, here we go!” She then made a hurried spinning dance around the edge of the fountain.

    “Oo, I wonder if I can get some karate practice in,” Rosa said, looking back at that street.

    “Or maybe find someone who can tell you how to fight with that sword?” Nate suggested, putting this medal with the others.

    She shrugged. “Well there's no reason to be actually fighting, so a sword's actually kind of worthless outside of historical value and sport. This one might be worth something for it's connection to Keldeo, but not as a weapon.”

    “By that reasoning, wouldn't knowing karate be good primarily for sport?” he asked. It was a curious thing about this world. He'd read news websites most evenings, but there was never talk of wars or riots.

    “No, it's a whole lifestyle!” she said, grinning.

    As that was the last of the harlequins, he and Rosa headed out to bike back to the hotel. The harlequin there was juggling the jingly balls next to the entrance to the diner. “Hello, it's one of our happy players,” he said. “Did you have a good time seeing the sights and sounds of Castelia City? More importantly, did you get all five metals?”

    “I have them,” he said, pulling them out of his bag. “That was kinda fun, certainly informative.”

    “Great!” The harlequin looked at the five, then pulled out a wad of confetti to throw over them. “And you have won! Fun fun, and you even got done before dinner, got done first! Which means, I get to take the tracker off your bike, and you get the extra prize package. Wah-la!” He then handed over a red box topped with a gold bow before going to make the bike Nate's fully.

    Thinking that a clown's gift wouldn't be simple, Nate carefully checked the lid. It popped off as soon as it was touched, letting off another puff of confetti and bopping Ruby in the head. Inside, there were five Great Balls, a small bicycle pump, a bicycle repair kit, bungee cords, and a coupon for a free Casteliacone.

    “And now, the bike is yours!” the harlequin said, coming over while idly tossing the tracker device. “Enjoy, and be sure to explore our beloved city even further. Castelia City, Castelia City, here we go!” He danced off while waiting on the next contest participant.

    “Thanks!” he called, then turned to Rosa. “This'll be a big help, especially if we have a lot of ground to cover.”

    She smiled. “Yeah, since we're going to go all over Unova. That's great!”

    -+-

    After finishing the harlequin hunt, Rosa and Nate decided to look around for the Pokecenter and any stores that might be of use to them. As the sun began to set, the Xtransciever they had found last night rang again. “Good evening,” she said, struggling to recall the guy's name for a moment.

    But once he spoke, she remembered that it was Curtis. “Evening, Rosa,” he said, his voice sounding rough and tired. “Sorry, I was planning on meeting up with you in Castelia, but I kept forgetting to call and ended up in Driftveil with some friends.”

    “That's okay,” she said. “I wouldn't have been able to answer for most of the day. Are you getting a cold? You don't sound that well.”

    “I don't think it's a cold. I hope not; it should just be my voice getting hoarse from work today. Things went on longer than expected and it was rough. They brought me out here to go to a club and scout out, um, a business.”

    “Are you old enough for that?” Nate asked, as he was close enough to hear.

    “Well, technically no but I, uh, we can usually get in. Who was that?”

    “Oh, that's my friend Nate,” Rosa said. “This is the guy who owns this, Curtis. He called me this morning.”

    “I see,” Curtis said.

    “Still, that doesn't sound like a good idea to be talking on the phone if your losing your voice or something. You should probably do something more relaxing.”

    “And drink some hot tea with honey and a bit of lemon juice in it,” Nate suggested. “Or pineapple juice. Those would be better on your throat.”

    “I suppose you're right,” Curtis said, oddly sounding relieved to be told not to go out with his friends. “Thanks for the concern. They've been bugging me to do things like go to nightclubs and such to unwind, or so they claim. But I'd rather be out fishing. I don't know if I have my gear here.” There were sounds like he was searching a bag.

    “Fishing sounds like fun, but I've never gotten to do it,” Rosa said, glancing back at the shirts on sale that she'd been looking through. But it didn't hold her attention as much now.

    Sounding more enthusiastic, he said, “It's a great thing, even times when nothing bites. When you get something, it's so exciting to battle against the catch to reel it in. I let the Pokemon I hook go most of the time, and the regular fish too unless I plan on cooking them. More about the fishing than the fish... ah yes, here it is. Don't have any bait, but I'm sure I can pick up something.”

    “And some hot tea or something so you feel better,” she reminded him.

    “Yeah, that too. I'm sure I can give the others the slip. Hey, if you can get a ferry up the river, maybe we can meet up.”

    “I don't know,” Rosa said. “We've been biking around Castelia pretty much all day, so if I stop to sit for a while, I might fall asleep.”

    “That's too bad,” he said, sounding disappointed. “We'll try again tomorrow, since I'll be back in the city then. Take care, Rosa.”

    “You too Curtis,” she said.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  15. #65
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    A long chapter, all about harlequins! I like how they give you a bike right as you enter the biggest city of the region, instead of shortly after you're done with plot events there like in the original. I think you might even be able to ignore the harlequins after you're given the bike, but I do their little quest anyhow. Plus, there's only three of them to find. I used five here because of the places I wanted to use.

    On the topic of sidequests, I put in the lost Xtransciever quest early. You don't actually find it until Nimbasa. The two times I've played through the game, I haven't had to look up spots to receive the calls from Curtis, just because of the way I explore. For a little while, I debated possibly using Yancy, but since I always pick a girl character, I know Curtis' calls better. I have plans for him.

    Also, a random warship that greets you in Castelia's docks! Well, I say random, but the game goes out of its way to point it out to you through Hugh. Sometimes, I don't mind that kind of thing because I know kids that play current Pokemon games as their first. Other times, I'd like them to do more things that reward an observant player. I love the few things that already are like that.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  16. #66
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    More importantly, did you get all five metals?”
    Should be medals, I think.

    Oooh, you have plans for Curtis do you? That's going to be interesting.

    Also, Rosa knows lots about ships, while Nate takes specific note of a photograph of Keldeo. Hmm. Also, Nate sees what's presumably Sacred/Secret sword for the first time, and nothing. Hmm. Oh, and he's still on his idea that one of their Pokemon is Keldeo.

    And the next Memory Link, with Hilda talking to Rood. Well, we're going to have to wait until Driftveil for that one.


    Additionally, the awesome amount of added alliterative appeal attached here creates astoundingly appropriate amounts of awe, amazingly.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  17. #67
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    Well, more of the story is uncovered and we still don't know who Keldeo is. I still think he is Rosa due to her ability to wield Keldeo' s sword among other conspiracies. Glad this chapter was completed when it was, I needed a good read.
    I have:
    Platinum
    Heartgold
    White
    Black
    Rumble Blast
    White 2

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

  18. #68
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    Chapter 14: What's in a Nickname?

    May 30
    Castelia

    “I'm going back to the sewers to train more,” Nate said.

    “Really?” Rosa asked, surprised to hear that. They were outside of the hotel on a bright sunny morning; it was already quite warm. While several people turned to look at them, she ignored them. “Why would you train there? Isn't it stinky with sewer wastes?”

    He shook his head. “No, not that kind of place. It seems more like water drainage from the streets. Well, there are an awful lot of Poison Pokemon around down there, but it's effective as a training grounds. Why don't you come and see for yourself?”

    “I don't know about that,” she said. “I like that dojo that the game company has. Lots of Trainers are there everyday to battle each other, and you can even train with the virtual games. We're doing pretty good, actually! Except if we come up against somebody with an Electric or Grass type. Then it's pretty much over at the start...” Because even if River could strike hard, she still tended to faint easily. Sometimes her Frillish could withstand an attack or two from them, but that wasn't always enough. A few times, she had run into a Trainer with a Steel Pokemon like Nate's Magnemite that was hard to damage with Water attacks. But River could handle them.

    “You could always look for more variety,” Nate said, as usual. But then he added, “In Pokemon or moves, whichever works out. I was thinking about if I should pick up a third Pokemon myself, but I'm not sure what.”

    Rosa tried to convince him to the dojo for today, but it seemed he was set on finding a new Pokemon in the sewer area. That area didn't interest her, so it seemed they would be splitting up again today. While that disappointed her for a bit, she realized that he might come with her tomorrow to train his new Pokemon. That would be something to look forward to.

    The dojo was in the building housing a company called Game Freak; they had set aside five whole floors of their building for it. The Pokemon battle area was free to anyone who could prove they had beaten a Gym in the past year, which was easy because she'd gotten two since April. While they were free to go to any of the five floors, there was a recommended battle level which most visitors would follow. It made it a tough choice for Rosa, since the first floor was for Pokemon level 20 and under, and the second was for levels 20 to 40. Her Pokemon were right around level 20, so the first floor was often too easy, but the second could be too difficult.

    While she was working with Angel, she noticed a girl younger than her standing off to the side and watching them. She was wearing a hat and shoes with silk flowers attached to them, which made her noticeable. But then had her shoulders hunched forward and looked at the ground rather than those that tried to talk to her. But she did follow Rosa to the healing station. “Umm,” the girl said.

    “Hi, did you want to battle?” Rosa asked. That was the main purpose of this place.

    She shook her head though. “No, uh, I don't have any Pokemon. I came here with my older sister. But, um, I wanted to know where you got your Swadloon.”

    “I caught her as a Sewaddle on Route 20,” she replied. “I didn't see many out there, but there are a few.”

    “Oh.” She put a hand to her chin. “Where is Route 20?”

    “Between Flocessy and Virbank.”

    “Uh, that's no good,” the girl said. “I, um, I heard you can catch them in Pinwheel Forest too, but my parents won't let me go out that way. They only let me go on Route 4, even though there's not many Pokemon out there. But I wanted to get a Swadloon, because they can become Leavanny, and Leavanny make clothes like I do, so, um...”

    “Oo, did you make the stuff you're wearing?” Rosa asked, surprised to hear it. “Because it's really pretty.”

    “Um, yeah, all of my outfit,” the girl said, turning pink and looking down. “Well I bought the shoes and hat, but I made the flowers myself and attached them. My grandma taught me.”

    “Wow, that's great,” Rosa said. “Sewaddle make their own clothes too, because I saw Angel sew leaves onto her cloak. She still does.”

    The girl looked over at Angel. “Oh, she has the loveliest name. Ummm...” she fidgeted uneasily.

    “Thithill,” the Swadloon said, shifting her leaves aside to look up at the other girl.

    She would like to have Angel, Rosa could figure out. And it might be good to give her over, especially since she was looking more like a Grass Pokemon. Although, Rosa knew she shouldn't be thinking like that. But it would make the girl happy, and Angel might be happy too. “She's a bit shy, but she's nice and tries her hardest to do well,” Rosa said. “Hey, would you like to have her? I've got several others, and I'm traveling so I can get other Pokemon readily.”

    Angel looked at Rosa, back at the girl, and back at Rosa. She then showed one of her small legs and waved to the girl. Was that a sign that she was okay with that?

    Although the girl looked up at her with wide eyes, she soon stammered out, “Umm, well, I couldn't just take a Pokemon. I have nothing to trade. But you're kind to offer.” She shifted her hat.

    Hearing that, Angel gave a quiet whine and huddled back in her leaf cloak.

    “Hey sis, what's going on?” an older girl asked, coming over to them. Rosa recognized her as someone she had fought earlier, both today and yesterday. But she had used entirely different teams to do so.

    “Oh, I was, um, just talking to this girl about her Swadloon.”

    “You could take her across the bay, right?” Rosa asked. “You two could get a Sewaddle there. Although I would've traded.”

    “Hmm...would you still trade?” She brought out a storage device and searched on there. “I could get you a Ducklett I haven't really used, or some others.”

    A Ducklett? Rosa's smile brightened at that. Duckletts were cute, and they seemed to move around often; seeing one today didn't mean you'd see it in the same area tomorrow. It might've been a headache to track one down herself. But this seemed like it could make all of them happy. “I'd like the Ducklett. Okay, I can do that trade.”

    “Sure.” The older sister showed her how to do a trade without a machine. “You don't get evolutions this way, but that doesn't matter with these two,” she explained. Once the trade was made, she turned to her little sister. “But we'll need to find one to activate your Trainer license.”

    The younger sister was delighted at it. “Thank you! And thank you too, um... hey, may I have your phone number? I'll send you a picture when she evolves so you can see too.”

    “Uh-huh, sure,” Rosa said. “Actually, I'm gathering data for the Pokedex, so if we could meet up again at that time so I can scan her, that'd be great.”

    “Okay,” the girl said. Her name turned out to be Melissa, while the Ducklett's information revealed her sister to be Tabatha. And the Ducklett himself was named Grim.

    -+-

    Nate wasn't sure what kind of Pokemon he was searching for, but he'd seen in his short look yesterday that the drainage system was likely long and sprawling. There should be a variety down here. Since he had no particular new team member in mind, he did his usual routine of catching many of the Pokemon and periodically releasing the ones he wasn't going to keep. The channels of the area were filled with water, but floating bridges allowed him to get around easily.

    He let Ruby and Argent roam around freely. The Pignite usually stayed by his side, but Argent occasionally wandered off into the dim shadows, coming back when called. One time, the Magnemite came back on its own,squealing and waving its magnet arms around. “Sqiizzzzik!” It jabbed in the direction it had come from.

    “Did you find something interesting?” Nate asked. When Argent seemed to nod (a different move as it didn't really have a head), he walked in the direction his Pokemon led. Around a corner, they spotted sunlight coming down a set of stairs. It wasn't the ones that they had taken to get down here. Curious to see where this led, he went up there.

    They ended up in a small area that was surrounded by skyscrapers on every side. There wasn't a street that led here, only a few alleyways. And of those, only two seemed like they were meant to be used by pedestrians to get here. Despite that, there was a small park here, with tall grasses, flowering bushes, and even a tree that must have been thirty feet tall. The plants all looked healthy despite being in this hidden pocket of the city. From the grasses, he saw movement that suggested a few Pokemon made their homes here. A small pink feline face looked at him for a moment before its owner vanished into the grass. It was a quiet area; there only was another guy on the other side of the tree, looking around and frowning.

    “A secret area of the city, huh?” he said, mostly thinking aloud. “It's like one of those places you only find by exploring a game. Hmmm.” He closed his eyes and thought. Was this just a game? It certainly didn't seem so. The world was much too spontaneous and independent to be that. Maybe the game had just been a path through which to cross between worlds.

    Right then, something damp plopped onto his head. Opening his eyes, he saw white. It turned out to be a lacy camisole with a wooden clothespin attached to it. Nate looked up and saw a number of clotheslines crossing between some of the buildings. On the lowest one, two stories up, there was a brown Pokemon trying to cross overhead. The line wobbled and dipped; the Pokemon's paw bumped into a clothespin and made the attached shirt dangle. The Pokemon stopped for a moment, possibly rethinking its decision to cross this way. But the wobbling of the line must have made it harder to balance, and it fell off with a fearful cry.

    The other guy in the park turned immediately to the sound. “Hey!” He ran over.

    Ruby was the one closest to the spot; she caught the falling Pokemon. Seeing it from a better angle, Nate recognized it as an Eevee. There was a pair of panties hanging on its ear; other articles of clothing fell through the air as well. The Eevee was wide eyed and tense. Once it squirmed, Ruby let it hop out of her arms.

    “What were you doing this time?” the guy asked in an exasperated voice. “Geez, how'd you even get up there in the first place?”

    “Probably up the fire escapes,” Nate said, glancing around. That seemed like the most reasonable way.

    The Eevee whined and crouched close to the ground, holding its ears down.

    “I'm not going to scold you this time; seems you scared yourself enough.” He snatched the panties off the Eevee, which caused it to flinch. “Man...”

    “What's going on?” a voice called from a window above them. There was a woman peering out the window through the bars of the fire escape. “What're you doing with my laundry down there?”

    “Sorry m'am,” the other guy said.

    The woman groaned, then climbed out of the window to come down and fetch her clothes. The other guy and Nate helped her out. Meanwhile, the Eevee remained crouched, looking down at the ground in a guilty manner. Ruby and Argent stayed near it, trying to talk with it.

    Once the woman was back in her apartment, the other guy said, “At least we didn't get yelled at. Thanks for having your Pignite catch her.”

    “She did that on her own,” Nate said. “So thank her.”

    He raised an eyebrow, then shrugged. “I guess. Oh hey, but you seem like the kind of person who's good with Pokemon.”

    “How can you...?” He was about to ask how he could tell, but the other guy kept talking.

    “You could be the kind of person who could bring the best out of a rare Pokemon like an Eevee,” he said. “How about it? You interested in trading Pokemon?” He looked at the Pignite.

    “Not Ruby,” Nate said, hardly thinking about it. “I'm not trading Ruby for anything.”

    He had a look of surprise at the intensity of that denial, but didn't let it deter him for long. “Okay... well what about the Magnemite? Or do you have another one?”

    “I'm not sure if that's an even trade,” Nate said while various bits of data ran through his thoughts. Eevees were rare in the games, but Magnemites had an unusual and useful typing. “I don't have any others.”

    “Well,” he looked down at the Eevee, who was still acting like she'd been told to sit in a corner because she'd misbehaved. Then he took a Pokeball and fiddled with it.

    “You probably could find a trade for her easily,” Nate said, looking over at the area of tall grass. There were likely different Pokemon here than in the sewers, so it could be worth trying a few fights against the wild ones here. Or even doing more catch and release; he might need to check into that dojo to get money for more Pokeballs.

    But to his surprise, the guy passed him the Pokeball. “Look, you've really got to be the kind of guy who cares about Pokemon, and knows a lot about them. So here, take her. I don’t care about a trade anymore, just take her.” Then he took off down an alley before Nate could refuse.

    He watched the guy run off for a moment. What was that about? If what applied in the games applied here, then Eevees were rare and desirable Pokemon. They had many options of what to evolve into, but they had some charm staying in their basic form. Why just give one away to someone at random, just based on someone seeming like a good caring person?

    The Eevee was still in her spot. Maybe she caused trouble. For some people, it might be better to be rid of a troublesome Pokemon than trying to reform it. Nate considered that he should have the Pokecenter check over her carefully in case there was some deeper trouble. But when he checked the status screen, he spotted another reason the guy would have wanted to pass the Eevee to someone else. Her nickname was Panty Thief.

    “Hmm, I wonder if I can change nicknames now,” Nate said, sitting down by the Eevee. “Looks like you're with me now.” Since she didn't react, he tried petting her. “What were you up to? Climbing up there... to explore?” He looked back up at the clotheslines hanging overhead. There were several others in use. While he could understand bird Pokemon being up there, the Eevee seemed more like one that would be on the ground.

    Looking up there, he felt a familiar feeling. There was something about this spot, either up there or down here.



    The air was still cool, but there were tulips blooming in this hidden park. “I wonder who keeps up this place,” Hilda said, looking around. “It's pretty, considering how many sidestreets we had to take to get here.”

    “They should be proud of their work,” Kyurem said. “Could we stop here for a short time?”

    She turned back to him, raising her eyebrow. “Sure, if you want. We could let the others out too, since there's not much of a crowd.”

    “Not quite yet,” he said, touching the icy half-mask that he always wore. “I want to ask about the one you love.”

    “What do you mean?” she asked, confused by that turn in topic.

    “You knew that both Hilbert and N were interested in you,” Kyurem said. “They've been away for nearly a year now. Have you decided between them?”

    “Oh... not really. I thought I'd wait until they came back and see how they felt. I'm happy enough just having a lot of friends.”

    “That's good to know,” he said, nodding. “But one thing I thought you should know... I love you too.”

    She looked at him for a moment; he usually didn't joke around, but this was hard to believe. “You do? But you're a Pokemon, and an immortal at that.”

    “Yes, so as I am and at this time, there's not much I can do about it. Perhaps in the future, but,” he came closer to her and put a hand on her shoulder. “Do what makes you happy. As long as you're well, I'm satisfied.”

    He said this because he thought they were alone. But above them, on the balcony of an empty apartment, there were two strange people dressed in black. A third like them appeared out of thin air. “They're not ready,” she said.

    “This would have been a good opportunity,” the other female said. “But if they say no, we'll have to wait.”



    He was in a bright artificial place. Kyurem didn't know where he was and so far he hadn't cared. Between what they had done and what they were doing, it was hard to get motivated to do anything. He should care, but...

    Sensing some other mind trying to make contact with him, he opened his eyes. There was someone else in there, startled at seeing the dragon move. However, Kyurem was more concerned with the one who wasn't there.

    He growled a little. “You're not skilled at this,” he stated. “How you found me... you're looking for Hilda? You'd need to be able to look across time and space to another world; she's not here. If you can find her and bring her back, do so.”



    Nate felt a static shock against his cheek, nearly knocking him off-balance. He wondered if that had broken his apparent contact with Kyurem or if he had lost that himself. “Bzzzt!” Argent was floating right in front of his face.

    “I'm okay,” he said, nudging the Magnemite away. His head was starting to hurt, but it didn't seem as bad as earlier ones. Ruby put her arm around his shoulder, happy to hear that.

    “Errr,” the Eevee said in a soft voice. She was sitting up now, tilting her head at him.

    “I saw something too private to share, I think.” He got up, getting a sharper ache in his head for doing so. “But... she said it was a combination of factors. The scene in the lobby was a similar time and place. I have the place here, but not the time, so someone who was there then...” He turned around and saw a movement of black. There was no one there.

    Then she appeared: black clothing that would have blended into shadows, white hair partly covering ethereal red eyes, graceful posture of someone dangerous. Very dangerous. Nate knew that for certain because he remembered seeing her (or one of her siblings, he knew she had a brother and sister) kill someone. But, how? Was it one of those images he'd been given as a warning, or something he remembered himself?

    “What are you doing here?” she asked in an emotionless voice.

    “How... do you... know me?” Nate said, hearing his voice as if it was far off. His vision began to blur painfully.

    -+-

    Rosa paced in the lobby of the dojo building. “Aw come on Nate, pick up,” she said, watching her Xtransciever. Maybe he wasn't getting a signal? He was supposed to be in the sewers.

    But before he answered, Curtis' Xtransciever rang instead. She decided to try Nate again later, taking up the other phone instead. “Good afternoon!” she said.

    “Hey, good afternoon to you too,” Curtis said, sounding cheerful this time. “I hope you don't mind me calling all of a sudden.”

    “That's no problem,” Rosa said. “Are you free to meet up now?”

    “Well, not really. I'm on lunch break...”

    “What, now?” Rosa asked in disbelief. “It's almost two.”

    “I know, I know,” he said. “But my schedule's like that most days. I mostly just wanted someone to talk to, since I've got a few minutes free before I need to get back.”

    “That's okay,” she said, considering why he might have a schedule like that. “So does this mean that you're a chef at a restaurant? Since you're busy all the time and can't have lunch at lunchtime.”

    He laughed at that. “No, not even close. I couldn't be a chef... well, unless I was allowed to cook fish. My uncle made the best grilled and fried fish in the world, and he taught me how. I'm not as good, but I do all right.”

    “Oh, but fish are hard to cook, aren't they?” Rosa asked, thinking about helping her mom cook. “Because you have to get all the bones out and the scales off, and then it's really easy to overcook them.”

    “That's true. But fish is the main thing I can cook that's not already prepared for you. Or ramen, but I guess that doesn't take much effort and would be hard to mess up.”

    Rosa giggled at that. “My friend Hugh messed up ramen once!”

    “What? How? I mean, maybe get distracted or if it's not the store-bought stuff...”

    “Actually, he ripped the seasoning packet open too hard and the stuff went all over his clothes and the floor. Then he tried to make broth anyway; it tasted weird.”

    “Yeah, that would do it. I wonder what they put in there. I know there's lots of salt, but what else?”

    “I dunno.”

    “What're you doing today?”

    She grinned. “Awesome things! I just got a call from Pokestar Studios; they had me and Nate try out making a movie, and it's going to be test screened today! I'm trying to find him so we can go check it out.”

    “Pokestar? Man, it's been a long time since I worked with them.”

    Rosa raised her eyebrows. “Really, you acted for them?”

    “Um, yeah,” he said, sounding a little embarrassed. “They have fun projects, but unless they've changed management in the past couple of years, I'd be wary of working with them too long. Things went a little shady with the last couple of films I made under their brand. And I've... overheard talk that Pokestar works better as a hobby rather than a main source of income, unless you're one of their standard actors. Then it's a whole other can of worms there.”

    “Like what?” she asked.

    “Just think about it for a bit. They have to play their roles dozens of times with various guest actors and even though they tend to have some experience, they aren't allowed to alter scripts as much as the guests. Sometimes I wonder how they can stand not getting bored.”

    “Huh, I guess it could bore them. I thought it was lots of fun. Plus, don't some of the guest actors go on to become really famous? That would be so awesome!”

    “Maybe,” Curtis said, but like Nate, he didn't have a lot of enthusiasm about it. “I'm not saying that you can't have fun with it. And maybe you will become famous, who knows? Just keep track of how much you work, because they've been known to avoid paying guest actors. Ask for a statement of working hours.”

    “Okay, I’ll keep that in mind,” Rosa said. That might satisfy Nate too. She glanced at her own Xtransciever. “Aw, well I wanted to go see the test screening with Nate, but I think he'd try to call me back by now.”

    “Maybe he can't get a signal? Oh, my break's over shortly, so I need to go. But thanks for talking.”

    “Sure, call whenever you like,” she said. He seemed nice enough, if obsessed with his work at times. She wasn't sure why Hugh and Nate didn't seem to trust him.

    There was a crash nearby. She looked over as Bard came rushing to her side, looking wide-eyed and spooked. By the wall, Medusa was scowling at a Yamask, holding her tentacles aggressively while it chuckled. The Yamask put the mask it was holding in its tail over its face. There was a guy near the Yamask, looking at at a tall magazine rack that had been knocked over.

    “What happened?” Rosa said, going over to pick up some magazines that had slid her way.

    “Are these your Pokemon?” the guy asked. “You should keep a better eye on them.”

    “The Yamask isn't mine,” she said.

    “Of course not,” he said while the Yamask kept laughing. He walked off, not even helping to pick up the magazines or the rack.

    Feeling mad, she refused to look at him. “Hmph. I bet that Yamask scared you Bard, didn't it? Well, can't let someone else's rudeness get to me. I know you don't mean trouble.”

    “Hoo wa,” Bard said, seeming embarrassed. He watched the Yamask leave the building warily before going to help her pick things up.

    With that done, Rosa checked the ferry schedule on her Xtranscever, seeing that there was a chance to get to Virbank in time. However, she finally got a call back from Nate. Maybe she'd give him a hard time about taking so long to get back to her. But it was immediately apparent that something wasn't right. Blurry fingers appeared in front of the camera, then were moved back to show a rocky wall with a dome-shaped lamp on it. While it shook, she occasionally got a glimpse of Nate. “That should be your friend,” a woman's voice said.

    Nate replied in a pained voice. “Wh-who? What are you doing here?”

    “Nate?” Rosa asked, feeling for a moment like her heart had stopped.

    “Is that your name?” the woman asked.

    “Is it? I don't know. Ugh, what did you do?”

    “What did you do to him?” Rosa snapped. If she had hurt him, then she would have to pay dearly for it.

    “I brought him into the tunnel past the Castelia sewers,” she replied, so plain and calm that Rosa might have calmed down if she hadn't added, “I am deciding if he needs to die.”

    “I won't let you!” she said, startling a group that was just entering the building.

    “Hmm. Then you may wish to come here quickly.” The woman's black gloved hand appeared briefly in front of the screen as she disconnected the call.

    Rosa looked over at her Pokemon, who were all watching her in concern. River nodded, soon followed by salutes and agreements from the rest. “Guys, we've got to go find them!” she said, clenching her fist at her side. “I don't know where exactly she means... but we'll find them, I know it! Let's go!”
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  19. #69
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    obviously, the dojo in Castelia doesn't really exist. But other places here do exist. It certainly took long enough for a sewer dungeon to appear in a Pokemon game. There were some similar sorts of dungeons, but not fully a sewer. Like Nate said, this one is a storm drainage system, save for a few rooms with pipes. There's a female scientist who's doing work with poisons, so she's probably near the actual sewage or water treatment area. Given how close Castelia is to the water, the place probably keeps out the sea water from building foundations too.

    I haven't dealt much with problematic Pokemon names in games, since any that I've gotten from trades are either from my games or friends who wouldn't do that. But I've heard of some crazy trade names, or stories where players are reluctant to use such Pokemon. So here, we have Grim the Ducklett and Panty Thief the Eevee. One of them has a randomized name. Guess which one?

    The little hidden park is a cool place with some nice Pokemon to catch. But you never need to go there, so it is a little secret. Easy to locate, but still fun to find.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  20. #70
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    Oooh. Spooky. So the Shadow Triad, and hence Ghetsis, have taken an interest in Nate? And was that his memory getting scrambled again?

    ...I hope that's not going to be a recurring theme.

    Also, in the Castelia Sewer? You find Grimer there, so while it might look clean, it's probably not. Also, as Nate is out of action, does that mean that the Hugh teamup is going to hapen here?
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

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    Dang, the Shadow Triad is way too over-powered. I really hope that Nate's memory didn't get scrambled again. Hate it when that happens. Also, YES! My enduring KyuremxHilda ship was at the least acknowledged. Wow, what a name for an Eevee... I'd be fine with Grim the Ducklett, but that Eevee...
    I have:
    Platinum
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    Black
    Rumble Blast
    White 2

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

  22. #72
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    Chapter 15: Obligatory Sewer Dungeon

    May 30
    Virbank City

    Rosa knew where the main sewer entrance was: at the end of the dock closest to Skyarrow Bridge. While she noted that the odd frigate was at a nearby dock, she didn't pay it heed past that. She had biked from the dojo to here quickly, determined to stop that woman from doing something to Nate. Looking down the long tunnel leading behind the sea wall, she wondered where to go from here. He had said that this was more of a water drainage system, which meant that it had to extend to all of the streets in Castelia. From that, this place had to be huge.

    While most of her Pokemon had to be recalled to go faster, River had wanted to ride in the basket as usual. The Riolu jumped onto the dock as Rosa put up the bike. “Hey, you can see auras, right?” she asked. “Could you find him down there?”

    Her ears lowered briefly as she lowered her head. But instead of indicating that she couldn't, she went to the stairs and looked down. Thin mist came up through the entrance, disappearing into the clear air above. Then, River waved her to follow. Maybe it would be hard, but she wanted to try.

    “Okay, I trust you.” Rosa walked down the stairs after the Riolu.

    Past the initial hall, they went down a long flight of stairs to reach the sewer itself. There was more mist down here, although it was still thin and staying close to the floor. There was a ditch partly filled with water on their right, as well as someone standing on the concrete path on the other side. Thankfully, it was someone they knew. “Hugh!” She ran across a gate that linked the two paths. “You've got to help me! Nate's in trouble and I don't know how to get to him.”

    “Nate? Where is he?”

    “Somewhere down here. I got a weird call from him, but there was this woman off camera that was threatening to kill him. They're supposed to be in some rock tunnel connected to this area, but I've never been down here so I have no idea where they'd be...” Tears blurred her eyes so she tried to rub them away.

    Hugh took her hand with both of his. “Calm down, we can find him. There's a lot of areas that are rocky around here, but our Pokemon should be able to help. Let's go.”

    “Yeah,” she said, smiling and feeling better since Hugh was going to help. She brought out Bard too as they hurried along the path, trying to find where Nate and that woman could be.

    Down below Castelia's streets, the cool humidity filled the air more than any stench. What smell was there reminded Rosa a little of Roxie's Gym, possibly due to Poison Pokemon. There was light as well as clean pathways, but not the rocky wall from Nate's call. The concrete wall went on for some ways, soon splitting up to begin following Castelia's streets. In the middle of all paths, there were the large trenches partly filled with a shallow level of moving water. The water stains were several feet above the current water surface. There were a few bat Pokemon and Rattatas in the way, but their own Pokemon turned out to be stronger then them. With their every movement, the mist at the feet swirled around.

    “What was he doing down here?” Hugh asked, looking around for hints.

    “He said he was going to train here this morning, and look for Pokemon to catch,” she explained. “But then that call came a few minutes ago. We have to find him soon!

    “I came down here for training too. That way's a dead end, and it's concrete all the way. But some of the central areas are rocky. Were there small blue lamps and lots of shadows? Because other tunnels can get dim.”

    She shook her head. “No. There was a lamp in the shot, but it was one of those dome lamps, the, the LED ones we keep for emergencies.”

    “Huh, hadn't seen one of those down here. What do you think, River?”

    The Riolu was keeping ahead of them, darting a few feet forward, peering around with her ears twisting this way and that to catch all sounds. At Hugh's question, she pointed ahead. However, there was a gap where another trench entered the one they were following. They had to cross back over the trench to another path. This one soon split up, one path going ahead and the other going left Before they could even decide which way to go, a pair of people dressed entirely in black came from the passage ahead. And not just any black outfit; they had the uniform that the other Team Plasma members had.

    Hugh recognized that right off as well. “Hey, what are you thugs doing here?”

    “Thugs?” one of them asked indignant. “How dare you...”

    “What are you kids doing down here?” the other snapped back.

    “It's not like this place is off-limits,” Hugh said. “Unless this is your base of operations. Is that it, Team Plasma?”

    “How do you know about us?” the first one asked, now wary.

    “It's none of your business what we're doing here,” the other said. “If you don't scram now, then we'll just have to take all your Pokemon away from you.”

    “There's no way that you'll be doing that!” Rosa said, clenching her fist. If they couldn't win with Pokemon, then she wouldn't hesitate to attack them herself. After all, she had Keldeo's sword.

    And she knew that Hugh probably felt the same way. “You're picking a fight with the wrong people,” he said. “So you want to use force? Then you're about to feel my rage, punk.”

    Soon, they were fighting a battle together, her and Hugh against the two Plasma thugs. Their opponents each had three Pokemon which seemed a good deal tougher than the wild Pokemon wandering the sewers. However, Hugh's Servine Vino was just as serious as his Trainer in battling them. Even the normally goofy Bard picked up on the mood and didn't play around as much as he usually did. They won without having either Bard or Vino knocked out.

    The two thugs looked shaken by the battle, one stepping back while the other looked for some escape route. “You two are so serious,” one said.

    “Of course,” Hugh said. “Not only that, but we're both trained in martial arts, so don't think that you're going to escape unscathed. We've got some questions that need answering.”

    “Aaaaa, leave us alone!” one of them said, bolting down the path to left. His partner soon followed.

    As did Hugh. “You're not getting away from me!”

    “Hugh!” Rosa called, worried again about what happened to Nate. But her friend was already gone, disappeared in the dim lighting of the path he had taken.

    “Urrrruu,” River called, pointing out the way opposite that Hugh had gone. Rosa was caught with indecision a moment. Hugh could be in trouble, recklessly running off like that. But then, he could handle himself (most likely) and Nate had been in bad shape during the call. Before she decided, a voice called out to her.

    “My my, what a fiery temper on that one,” a man said, coming from the paths ahead. He didn't seem to be one of the Plasma goons, as he wore a flared white lab coat; odd blue wires and devices attached to his eyeglasses and the sides of his head. Was he a robot? “But that was a magnificent battle to witness. I'm sorry for not intervening, but you both seemed to handle your Pokemon well. If I may, I would like to ask you some questions for my research.”

    An odd man, but he didn't seem bad. “Sorry, but I'm in a hurry,” she said. “Do you know about a rock tunnel being attached to this sewer? I need to find another friend; he's in trouble.”

    “Is that so?” he asked, shifting his glasses. Then he pointed off to the right and behind him. “It's back that way. Keep ahead on this path, then cross over the trench on the right at the next gate. Go ahead from there and it's just a few feet on.”

    “Okay, thanks sir.” She then ran past him and followed his directions, River and Bard hurrying at her side.

    -+-

    Several months ago, construction crews working to expand the waterways of Castelia had discovered a old tunnel that led straight to Driftveil, underground. The straight regular paths and occasional wall carvings showed that it had been dug out deliberately, likely by humans and Pokemon. While there had been a lot of excitement at first, it had settled down to occasional archeologists and explorers coming through here. And so, it had been picked out as a meeting place for members of Team Plasma working in both Castelia and Driftveil. Side tunnels could be blocked off with large boulders, letting them have some privacy.

    Which was important, as Colress was meeting with Bronius and a few others who were here. “I assigned you more than enough people for the main task we assigned to you,” Colress said. “What's holding you up? We know that he has her.”

    Bronius shifted his weight, but otherwise did well in hiding anxiety. The dark green cloak he wore, designed precisely for Plasma's Sages (who weren't Ghetsis), helped out with that. Being a large man who preferred joviality to seriousness, he always seemed uneasy when he was being businesslike. “He and the ones working for him have been more alert than we thought. Not only that, but we still don't have a clue as to where he's keeping her.”

    “She must be close, as she's been seen with him.” Colress tapped his foot. At his side, his Elgyem managed to mimic him despite floating in the air. “I'm sure you had some technologically minded ones with you; that would be easiest.”

    “Yes, but...”

    They were cut short by a boy's scream, and that was cut short by a choked struggle. Frowning, Colress turned and saw that the two female members of the Shadow Triad were there when they previously hadn't been. They had some way to teleport, so that only startled Triste and a few of the lesser Plasma members. What was more of a concern to him was that one of them had her hands on the throat of a teenaged boy.

    Sighing, Colress held a hand up to Bronius. “Stop choking him,” he said to the strange women.

    “I was calming him down,” she replied, even calmer than he was normally. But she did let him go, leaving him to drop to a sitting position on the ground. But he seemed to still be conscious.

    That could be more of a problem than Bronius' team being slow. Colress turned back to the Sage. “Okay, the short of it: get a move on or I'll get Ghetsis involved personally. I'm sure none of you want that. If you have any better reasons to give me, we'll talk more later. Now scatter, just in case this situation gets uglier.” Not giving Bronius a chance to respond, he went over to the two Triad members. “What are you doing with this boy?”

    “He was going to attract attention to us,” the other woman said. She then explained what they had noticed about him.

    While the boy decided to go into a fetal position and grip his hair tightly in his hands, Colress listened and grew increasingly interested in what the Triad believed. It seemed far-fetched, yet matched up with what Ghetsis had told him on a few occasions. He crouched down by the boy, apparently Nate by the friend they had called, to get a better look at him. “How sure of you are this?”

    “Very sure,” she replied, her sister nodding.

    It was hard to know without seeing his face. While it might be true, he wouldn't believe it without hard evidence. And, that was easiest to get right here. Colress took a clump of the boy's dark brown hair and tugged at it lightly. A few came loose; after he made certain they would be suitable, he pulled out a small plastic baggie to keep them securely in. The sound unfortunately got Nate to jerk his head up and look around, but his eyes didn't seem to connect to anything. Not only that, but he soon closed them in an expression of pain.

    Sometimes, one had to take a risk. “What is your name?” Colress asked, working to sound reassuring.

    “M-my name?” the boy echoed, his body tense and shaking. “My name... my name... what is my name? Who are you?” He turned his head, but only opened his eyes partly. “Are, are we safe here? I got...” he paused as if searching for the word.

    “You got what?” Colress asked.

    “Did I get purged again?” he asked, holding his head in his hands again. “But I thought I got transferred, or something, I don't remember so I must have been purged. Who are we?” His eyes opened and were focusing now. However, he first saw the two Triad members. That made the blood drain right from his face. “Aa, aa, y-you...”

    “I won't let them...” he said, starting to reassure Nate as best he could.

    But their strange guest then turned to him and gripped his wrists, his eyes wild and wide open. “Where is he? What are they doing here? I was dismissed, honest, and I even accepted the purgings, so why are they here? If something's happened to him, I can do my best to help, just don't involve them in this as it'll only end in disaster!”

    “Who are you talking about?” Colress asked. Even though he was gripped by hysteria, Nate might say something useful still.

    “Who?” He gave a laugh which quickly dissolved into sobs. “I... I saw... June 5th... Lostlorn Forest... they'll be there. He'll be there, when dragons descend. But... how? He...” Nate began shaking again, seeming like he might be sick.

    Hoping that this state would keep him from remembering too much, Colress stood back up. “Do you have something that can calm him down without half-killing him?”

    “Of course,” one of them said, coming over and pulling out a fine tan powder that she blew across Nate's face. While the drug forced his body to relax, he continued crying.

    “Did he have any Pokemon with him?”

    “Yes, three which I confiscated.”

    Colress shook his head. “Return them to him. With as unstable as he seems to be, he'll cope best with their support. That is well proven.”

    “We don't think it's wise to keep him alive,” one of them warned him.

    “Nonsense. It will be fascinating to see what comes of his presence. Just the fact that he is here supports and creates interesting theories. And without an artifact this time. Maybe we'll see what those gifts of the gods are really capable of.” He looked one of them in the eyes, something that most in Team Plasma wouldn't dare do. “If I have to, I'll speak with Ghetsis about this. But I’d rather keep this quiet.”

    “So be it,” she replied.

    Feeling encouraged in getting their cooperation (they didn't have it in them to lie), he nodded. “Good. In that case, I'll be going before his rescue comes. Come, Triste.” He headed out to the entrance to Castelia's sewers. Enough Trainers came in and out near the docks that it shouldn't be seen as strange if he did the same.

    “Uwaa,” the Elgyem said after a moment, the sort of sound someone might make if confused.

    “I've got his hairs, so it shouldn't be hard to prove or disprove what they think,” Colress said. “But why he's here, that could be difficult to discover. I hope he doesn't remember me, because I'd like to get his trust when he calms down. That is, if this didn't break his mind entirely.”

    Triste came a little in front of him, waving his glowing fingertips in circles. “Do dasa gem? Coess.”

    He smiled a little. “Are you trying to say my name? How adorable.” But that didn't keep his mind off this mystery for long. “June fifth, huh? Perhaps it means something. Perhaps it doesn't. But, it should be harmless to check into that. I could use a day off. What do you say, hmm?”

    Eyes brightening, Triste seemed to like that suggestion. Before they could get far into the sewer area, though, they ran into a problem. A couple of the Plasma members that had been dismissed earlier had been spotted by a pair of teenagers and were starting up a Pokemon battle. Colress and Triste stopped in a darkened area to watch. After all, it was a part of his project to observe battles.

    Once the battle was over, the boy pursued the two down a different tunnel, leaving the girl with her Dewott and Riolu. Colress went up to talk with her. She had caught his attention with her style as a Trainer and the obvious connection she had with her Pokemon. Then it turned out that she was the one who was going to rescue Nate. Reckless, really. She was going to challenge some of the best killers he had ever met and she took right off with her Pokemon beside her once she had the right directions.

    Colress watched the girl run off to the ancient tunnels. He wondered briefly if he should warn her of what she was getting herself into. Or even if he should go back in there himself. He didn't entirely control the Shadow Triad; only Ghetsis could do that. While he had warned them, they might still try to kill Nate for whatever reason they had against him.

    However, it was more important that he not be seen in or near that encounter. He needed to avoid suspicion. That girl had been in a hurry, as well as the boy that had battled with her. Because of that, they probably would forget about his presence within the hour. Unless he reminded them of it... in witnessing and recording the battle, he noticed that the two Trainers had different ways of fighting, different amounts of attentiveness and focus. If his hypothesis was correct, then the girl was suitable for the experiment, as an active battler who had high socialization with her Pokemon. With a Dewott and Riolu, she might even be a recent start.

    A moment later, he reviewed data that his computer had recorded. Electronic communications from the Pokeball gave him her OT number, identifying her as Rosa Wilburs. Checking her League records... she had two badges and had registered this spring. She'd be perfect..

    He tapped his glasses. “Find time to make contact with this Trainer,” he stated quietly, then headed for the sewer exits. Not only that, but he would have to find out what was holding up the Castelia group. He should handle the judgment for that himself. If he passed that off to Ghetsis, the Plasma workers would be punished more harshly. Colress needed them out and about, continuing his work.

    In the meantime, it might be safe to look into their goal himself.

    -+-

    Just as the strange man had said, they soon ended up in a rock tunnel. Or maybe a cavern, given how large it seemed from the few electric lights inside. River seemed more confident that they were going in the right direction, as she was no longer pausing to check the way. They turned down a small passage, one that Rosa might had missed entirely on her own. And back inside of a smaller area of the cavern, they found Nate and his captor.

    She seemed even stranger in person, starkly dressed in black with only some white bangs, a strip of face, and red eyes showing. She stood quietly by Nate, who was curled up in a ball on the floor. Thankfully, he seemed to be breathing. “Have you come to take him back?” the ninja asked.

    Furious, she gripped the sword case with her left hand. “Yes.” Quickly, she pulled out the sword so that it turned to its larger size. “And I’m going to make you pay for hurting him!”

    She looked at the sword for a moment, then at Rosa. After a moment of silence, she asked, “Will you?” Then she pulled out a pair of daggers and threw one at her.

    Rosa didn't even think as she knocked the dagger out of the air, then dashed for the ninja. She blocked with her remaining dagger and vanished. Feeling like she'd try to retrieve her weapon, Rosa turned and saw the ninja reappear as she picked the knife up. Rosa tried to attack again, but even though she saw the blade make contact, it passed by with only resistance from the cloth. The woman's daggers definitely hurt when of one them slashed across Rosa's left arm, cutting off her Xtransciever. Her next attack did make contact with the ninja, cutting her in the hip. The strange woman then vanished again.

    “To your right!” someone called.

    Rosa turned as the woman appeared further down the tunnel, holding an arm defensively near her injury. “You drew blood. How remarkable. Take him, but be warned: he may be dangerous to anyone near him.” She vanished one last time, not appearing again.

    “What?” Rosa said, momentarily bewildered. Nate, dangerous? How? What did she have against him anyway, and... her arm hurt and was bleeding badly, so she ought to take care of that. But then, “Nate!” She ran over to him and dropped down to check on him. He seemed to be asleep, but pale with his face streaked by tears. Otherwise, he didn't seem hurt.

    “Deo ah!” Bard called in worry, coming over and touching Rosa's shoulder. River was there too, watching Nate and waving at Rosa to take care of her injury first.

    “I hope this doesn't turn bad,” Rosa said, putting the sword down to check her bag for something to help. She came across a potion in the pocket where she kept them for easy access during battles. They were meant for Pokemon, but she didn't think it'd be too bad if she used it on herself. As she sprayed it over the wound, her arm started to go numb. It was a mess with all the blood; hopefully it would keep from being infected or made worse.

    On Nate's Xtransciever band, he kept the Pokeballs to his team secured. There were three now, but they were all marked as being unconscious. What kind of Pokemon did that woman have to beat Nate? Or had she fought them herself? But wondering about that now wouldn't help. She went to retrieve her Xtransciever to call for help. That was probably the best thing to do for now.

    -+-

    Castelia Sewers (elsewhere)

    Their footsteps echoed through the concrete tunnels, backed by the quiet movement of water and sporadic calls of Pokemon. It was cool in this area, which could have just been being underground. However, there was also a light mist and dampness in this area, like the air had been suddenly cooled, making the water in the air condense. It could be a clue, but they had expected something more.

    “I wasn't expecting to spend our first day back in Unova in the city sewers,” Hilbert said.

    “We can't ignore this problem,” N said.

    “I know.”

    “But if he is down here, I would have expected to hear something,” N said, looking down a tunnel. “The mist looks thinner over there.”

    “This is where our senses led us, but his connection still feels faint,” Reshiram said in the human tongue. At the moment, he even looked human, if with an old-fashioned fashion sense. They wouldn't be able to fit in these tunnels as dragons.

    Zekrom was nearby, trying to grasp the mist with her dark hand. It slipped out of her fingers like any other mist. “This city is so busy; the souls all around us are nearly overwhelming. I still get a sense of him, just out of reach and yet far away. I wonder what's happened to him. It must have been sudden or else he would have been able to make contact with us.”

    “Maybe he's somewhere in the city?” Hilbert suggested. “And with all the people, buildings, and machines here, all the noise makes it difficult to hear his voice? In a sense.”

    “That could be,” Zekrom said.

    Reshiram had his hand on his chin, thinking on the problem. Hilbert felt unnerved as he sensed these two so concerned, confused, and, well, ignorant. After all, the twin dragons had kept calm around other dangers and problems. This was something none of them had expected. Kyurem wasn't answering to their calls and all they could get from him was a feeling of loneliness. They had come here following that feeling, but now they seemed to be at a dead end.

    A guy's voice further down the tunnels called out, “Rosa! Where'd you go?” Someone's footsteps slashed onward, but not towards where they were.

    There was also the dial tone of an Xtransciever. It turned out to be N, trying to make a call. However, no one was picking up. “It's says I’ve got a signal,” he said, although his worries were starting to turn a different way. “When did we last hear from them? I was just trying to remember.”

    Sometimes, knowing exactly what another person felt and wanted made Hilbert uneasy. But this had been lingering unsaid for some time now: N was more worried about not hearing from Hilda than about Kyurem. Logically, the missing immortal could be a bigger problem. N was in love with Hilda, though, so that impacted him more. He'd been wavering for months about returning to Unova mainly because of that. For a little while, Hilbert had felt jealous and wanted to get him to forget about her. But then he decided that the jealousy wasn't worth it. Now he wanted to see the two of them together, eventually.

    “I know it's been a while,” Hilbert said, not certain the exact amount of time.

    “Late last spring,” Reshiram said. “Neither of you got many calls from Unova since then.”

    “If she's been out of contact that long, why haven't we felt anything significant about Kyurem?” Zekrom asked, thinking aloud. “I thought he just wasn't doing anything major. He should have contacted us if something went wrong.”

    “Maybe he couldn't,” N said.

    This wasn't helping, Hilbert thought. They were just getting more worried; they needed something more concrete. Then, an idea came to him. “Hey, I know: we should get up to the Pokecenter and see if we can check their records. It'd at least tell us where they've been. If not, I know that Hilda was from Nuvema. We might get better answers asking around there.”

    “That'd be better than wandering around down here,” Reshiram agreed.

    A short time later, they were in the Pokecenter near the docks. There were a number of people in here, as usual for the city. N was uncomfortable with this. Even if Plasma had kept him hidden for so long, he had been caught on public records with his challenge against the Elite 4. People might recognize him as the leader of Team Plasma. Sure, they might also remember that he had dismantled the group, but it was still a problem. So Hilbert decided that they needed to do this quick.

    And for that, he activated Attract, to make this go smoother. Plus, fewer people would pay attention to N. He waited in line for another person to be taken care of, then passed over the Pokeballs to his team. They had taken on a few fights in the sewers, but nothing challenging. “Hey there,” he said, giving a warm smile to the nurse on duty.

    She was middle-aged woman who had half of her hair shaved off to make room for a large bandage a little above her ear. Most likely some kind of surgery scar. Although she was a little skeptical, she was curious about him. “Good afternoon. I'll take care of your Pokemon right away.” She then took the balls and set them up in the healing machine by the desk.

    “Thanks sweetheart,” Hilbert said, leaning on the counter. “Oh, and could I ask for a little favor? Please?”

    She looked back at him, still fighting against his charm. “What do you want? I have several hours left of work.”

    He shook his head. “Nothing you need to leave here for. I was hoping to get a peek at some of the Pokecenter network records. We really need to find a certain friend of ours.”

    “We can't share the records of Pokemon taken care of here,” the nurse said.

    “I know,” he said. “But you record the Trainer ID numbers from the Pokeballs, right? So if you searched for that number, you could find out when a Trainer has used a center. We haven't heard from her in months and it could be trouble. So please, just this once?”

    “Hmm,” she said. The chance that it was trouble pushed things in his favor, but she still wasn't sure.

    “He speaks the truth,” Reshiram said. “We need to find this information.”

    The nurse raised an eyebrow at this at first, but then she took a closer look at him. Reshiram appeared to be a young man now, with long white hair streaked with red and orange at the ends. Then she looked back to Hilbert. “Wait, you're the White King, right? I suppose I could trust anyone who would stay close to Reshiram for so long. You have a reason for asking me?”

    At that, Reshiram glanced at Hilbert and briefly grinned. Hilbert rolled his eyes at that. Yeah, he was caught in a small bind here. She was fishing for a compliment and as he had to be serious to keep the dragon's favor, he needed to be genuine about it. But really, knowing what people wanted made this simple. “Well we didn't come in here for you, but I'm sure glad that we found you,” he said, giving her a flirtatious look. “I don't know what you've been through, but however rough it was, it must make you shine like a diamond.”

    The nurse laughed at that while she took the Pokeballs out of the machine. “Oh my... I'm sorry about that, young man, but thank you. Now, what's the ID number of your friend?”

    Hilbert brought up Hilda's contact information on his Xtransceiver and through that, they were able to find records of where and when she'd been using Pokecenters. Unfortunately, it seemed as though she really had disappeared. The screen he saw was of the last two weeks she had been recorded using Pokecenter services, late April up to June sixth of last year. She had been to a lot of places, including Flocessy and Nuvema. The last three recordings were on the fifth and sixth, all within White Forest.

    Pointing out the last one, the nurse said, “That place is a few miles north of Lostlorn Forest. And the other two are from the center close to the Entree. They're both small Pokecenters, not even having shops.”

    He took down the town and area names for all the centers listed, to ask around those area. “I see. Thanks a lot, it'll help narrow down the search.”

    “You're welcome,” the nurse said. “But if I get in trouble for this, you'd better try flirting with my boss to get me out of trouble.”

    “Oh dear, that would be trouble, huh?” he asked, chuckling.

    Since they were there, N also handed over his team for healing. “Is that how you pick up girls?” N asked.

    While the nurse laughed, Hilbert shrugged. “Well you should really just be yourself.” Especially if he meant trying that with Hilda. “I'm just the kind of guy who can get away with dropping sweet lines like that.”

    “If you mean sweet to be cheesy, then I won't argue with that,” he replied.

    “Hey, watch it buddy,” Hilbert said in a mock threat, making N laugh. It did lift the anxiety in their group, even with Zekrom and Reshiram. Even if it was at his expense, it was good.

    With this new information, the group headed out for one of the docks, mostly to get away from the crowds. “White Forest is a large area,” Zekrom said. “But it seems we're mostly interested in the central and southern part.”

    “And it might help to ask around Nimbasa too,” Hilbert said, visualizing a map of the region in his mind. “I know there's a path from there to Entree that passes through Lostlorn Forest, so asking people around there would be good.”

    “Maybe the Pokemon around Lostlorn too,” N said, most likely thinking of checking that angle himself. Even if he had gotten better accustomed to cities and being around many people in the past two years, he still preferred staying in natural areas and talking to Pokemon.

    “We could fly over White Forest ourselves,” Zekrom said, looking at Reshiram. “A quick look over the whole place while you two focus on getting information from those areas. I'm sure if we find signs of one of them, there'll be signs of the other.”

    Reshiram nodded. “That would be reasonable.”

    Once they agreed on a date and place to meet back up, the two dragons flew them up to Nimbasa, where the four split up.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  23. #73
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    @3D992: The KyuremxHilda ship was pretty popular over on fanfiction net. I even got a fanart of it (thankfully tasteful).


    So Nate's memory is messed up again, but he somehow expects it. Maybe you can start figuring out who he really is, but it'd still be kinda hard, I think. Also, Rosa is definitely going magical girl with that sword. Hilda would definitely insist that she get a proper outfit for it, haha.

    I like how Colress gets introduced to you in the game. He smoothly bluffs his way past the main character and Burgh by complimenting you enthusiastically for how you handled the Plasma grunts. So he's definitely kinda weird, but if not for the musical cue, you might not suspect that he's going to be trouble. Hugh is pretty awesome here too, although my opinion may be influenced by my first run through the game where he had a Servine here. I even liked his fury line, but it wasn't that long before I was thinking 'Hugh, get a new line'.

    Also, Hilbert, N, and the dragons are back! I do think that it would be tough to be so close to Reshiram all the time. When you think about it, there's a lot of little white lies that people use to get by in society smoothly.
    Last edited by Ysavvryl; 11th May 2013 at 12:32 AM.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

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

  24. #74
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    I just gotta say, when Triste was trying to say Colress's name? CUTEST. DAMN. MENTAL. PICTURE. EVER.

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  25. #75
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    RIght. Whichever set of memories Nate has now recognize the Shadow Triad, and Colress. He also talks about being "purged", and being "dismissed". Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything that matches up with what we see right now. Suppose we'll just have to wait for more.

    And Hugh does need new material doesn't he? I know he says that again on the first Plasma Frigate run, but I don't recall if he says it the other times, even if he probably does.

    Also, is that another Plasma Sage I see? Zinzolin and Bronius... Then again, I don't recall Looker going around and arresting all of them. Unless that happened offscreen.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

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