Through the soothing, hot water of the springs, Genevra and Redley stood utterly motionless, flustered at their sudden arrival. After introducing themselves to Torkoal, an uncanny silence ensued, with everyone in the Hot Springs staring at Team Seekers mostly in dissatisfaction. Roserade and Gallade were the only ones who kept cool and collected, curious as to finding out what would take place next.
"An exploration team, you say?" Torkoal finally said, his voice filled with interest.
Genevra nodded. "Yes. Where…" The Gardevoir looked around her surroundings, noticing a certain Gallade staring at her with a steadfast gaze. She glanced away from his stare, finding herself in a much more uncomfortable position than before. "Where are we?"
"Why, you're at the Hot Springs, of course! But I'm amazed at how you two arrived here! The geyser sent you two flying all the way into these pools!" Torkoal exclaimed in wonder. "What were you two doing?"
"We were…" Redley hesitated, remembering the ruby gem he was holding in his hand. "We were in Waterfall Cave for an evaluation from the Wigglytuff Guild. Part of it meant having to do this mock-up exploration, and we got to the end of it…"
"Until the water erupted and threw us over here," Genevra finished for Redley. The Gallade looked at her gratefully in return.
"Ah, so I see…" Torkoal paced back and forth slowly on his tall and wide rock. "Well, it seems like you have finished it! Was it a success?"
Genevra and Redley looked at each other sheepishly, sharing a constrained, but honest smile.
The ruby gem glinted under the sunlight in the Gallade's hands. "It looks like we have," Redley answered.
"Well, good!" Torkoal smiled. "You two must be exhausted! Rest here for a while before you head back to Treasure Town!"
"Redley, the map," Genevra said quietly, though she realized at this point, the map might've been completely soaked from the water.
"Ah." Redley opened his messenger bag, moving to an empty, unoccupied side of the pool where he could place it on a dry rock. Genevra did the same, placing her bag next to Redley's, checking to see how soaked her own bag would be. As they opened their bags, both Pokémon realized that the food was washed with water, nearly every nook and cranny permeated with the liquid.
"But Torkoal!" one Pokémon started to complain. "They crashed into the Hot Springs!" Hearing this, Genevra and Redley slightly cringed, their backs facing everyone else in the pool. Quickly, they lifted themselves out of the hot water, the water dripping after them in trails.
"Oh, nonsense! It isn't their fault that they ended crashing here! They definitely didn't splash here on purpose! It was the geyser, you see." Torkoal said this with a kind, but convincing force that if anyone else were to complain, they would find it useless to argue with him. The tortoise looked at Redley and Genevra in a peaceful acceptance, and the two nodded back in response.
Several comments and grunts of malcontent were mumbled throughout the discontent Pokémon, looming in gloomy and unhappy clouds of irritation. This didn't bother either Roserade or Gallade, however, and the two decided unanimously to meet Team Seekers.
When Redley managed to pull out the map, the shock came to both Seekers when they found out it was as magically intact as it ever was. The map was not soaked or ripped as they had expected, and the colorful ink marking the various dungeons and landmarks had not smudged into ugly, multihued globs. In fact, everything was undamaged and flawless, the water merely rolling off in raindrops on the polished Wonder Map.
"How… is that not ruined?" Genevra looked at the map in still amazement.
"Elementary, my dear Genevra," Gallade answered in his most polite and knightly voice, inciting both Seekers to turn around to face him. He had somehow gotten out of the hot pool when they weren't noticing, and he was standing quite proudly. "You notice that the material of the paper is not just ordinary paper, but rather a paper specifically designed to withstand even the harshest of weathers. It is truly a magnificent map, do you see? It won't be ravaged very easily. This all-weather paper is a patented substrate made with virgin, durable, wood fibers, thus ensuring supreme quality in tolerating extreme conditions."
Roserade couldn't help but muffle a laugh. Gallade exclusively talked with this lavish and resplendent vocabulary in the presence of females, especially when there was a certain someone he was striving to appeal to. Somehow, Gallade managed to make masses of women and select men faint in dramatically girlish, dreamy movements whenever he spoke in such a demeanor.
Genevra, however, didn't swoon or faint in some dramatically girlish sweep. She merely stared at Gallade, unsmiling and apathetic. The Gardevoir, without a doubt, knew what Gallade was planning.
Redley, meanwhile, looked away, his thoughts writhing in jealousy and frustration. He didn't want to explode and destroy a mountain; rather, he felt like squirming and drowning in a sea of pain and self-worthlessness. He knew what Gallade from Team Raider was aiming for, and for that, his thoughts, concisely, were, I'm doomed! I found Genevra, and now she's going to get taken away from me! Maybe this means we were never meant for each other in the first place!
"Well," Genevra sighed out with a no-nonsense tone, "that's nice to know. You are…?"
"Gallade of Team Raider," the Gallade introduced himself with a grand gesture, swiftly lifting Genevra's hand in his own, kissing it tenderly.
This was tormenting Redley beyond his imagination. Within his mind, he thought his heart had just died a little more than before. He imagined himself now, some pathetically pitiful limelight shining on him as he crouched down on the floor, wailing in agony.
For the love of Mew, Redley thought, pangs of distress bombing him. I feel like crying until there's no tomorrow! Surely, Genevra will leave me now, I won't have an exploration partner anymore, she'll go run off with Gallade from Team Raider, and I'll be left alone here living my life miserably just like before!
Meanwhile, Genevra stiffly removed her own hand from his, feeling like some clumsy, unrefined Pokémon. She had never had to deal with anything like this before, and she certainly felt strange that such chivalrous behavior from a daring, charming stranger would happen to her. As such, she was undeniably uncomfortable at the current situation.
... I want to rip him into SHREDS! Genevra thought, a small vein popping quite angrily. The Gardevoir did her best to keep herself under control.
"You say that you two are an exploration team?" Gallade continued in his alluring, deep baritone. Of course, he was well aware of Genevra's awkwardness at the moment, as well as Redley's worrisome jealousy. Yet, he somehow found all of this amusing.
Genevra shot a quick glance at Redley, sensing that something wasn't quite right with her partner. After all, Gallade had just kissed her hand, and she wondered how he was handling this. At most, she saw that he was shaking slightly, but he kept himself under control. Pity touched the Gardevoir's heart, and she turned back to Gallade by giving him a blunt nod, saying, "Yes."
"Though you two don't seemed to be very experienced."
Knowing that Redley wouldn't talk (his lips seemed to be glued together very tightly, as Genevra noted), she continued. "We haven't been together very long."
"I know. You did mention you were in the middle of an evaluation." Gallade looked at Redley.
Gallade suddenly laughed, inciting shocked expressions from both Genevra and Redley. "Would you mind telling me what kind of evaluation you two are doing?"
"Guildmaster Wigglytuff assigned us Test A," Genevra answered.
This time around, the response incited shocked expressions from Gallade and Roserade. As Master Rank exploration teams, they knew the meaning of Test A. The two looked at each other, an intuitive, almost telepathic conversation occurring between them. After a short time, Gallade looked back at Team Seekers, prepared to ask more questions. Throughout the entire conversation, Genevra only could speak, for Redley was amazingly quiet. Anyone could tell that poor Redley was clearly being tortured, his anxiety gnawing at him like yeast feasting on sugar.
Genevra nodded, feeling as if she didn't want to waste her words with the Gallade anymore.
"And you started this evaluation..."
"Two days ago. Today's our third day."
"And you just finished your third task?"
"Which leaves you to get Perfect Apples for the last task?"
Genevra's bluntness was starting to irk Gallade, yet at the same time, he relished it all. No other female had made him feel this way; the feelings of direct and plain comebacks from the Gardevoir were not merely entertaining, for her sharpness and honest genuineness attracted Gallade. She was much more of a true, and mature, Pokémon than anyone else he had ever met. Genevra was particularly a sharp contrast from the laughably girlish, flirtatious, and superficial members of Team Charm. Where Genevra had more of a deep, pure sterling individuality, every other female out there, especially those from Team Charm, had a thin, artificial, and shallow personality.
Perhaps that's why Redley likes her, too, Gallade thought to himself.
"Well, then," Gallade sighed, and smiled to himself. "Well, then. That is, in the least to say, impressive. I wonder why Wigglytuff assigned you this evaluation. Are you aware of how challenging it is?"
"… We were warned about it," Genevra said, remembering how Chatot reacted when Wigglytuff assigned them the evaluation.
"In any case, this means that you are a notably capable exploration team if you have made it this far. From my standpoint, I see that you'll complete the evaluation in four days rather than the standard seven."
"… Your point?"
"I sense a rivalry," Gallade answered, and with this, he looked directly at Redley, who was very, deathly still. Redley stared at him back, though neither in anger nor in fear nor in defiance, but rather, in candidness integrity, not proud nor wrathful.
"For your information," Genevra started, noticing the obvious glare between the two. Good Arceus, she did not want this to turn into some stupidly corny soap opera in which two males were fighting over a female. Instantly, she took Redley's hand in her own — Redley was undoubtedly surprised — and said, "We're not trying to become the world's best exploration team."
Gallade looked back at Genevra in amusement with a smile that read, I see what you did there. "Then why did you form an exploration team?"
Genevra paused, wary of her answer. She looked at Redley, who seemed to tell her with his eyes, Please, don't tell Gallade about the Relic Fragment!
For the first time, Gallade saw that Genevra was hesitant in answering. This didn't repulse him, by any means, but it only made the Gardevoir more intriguing. Evidently, he had hit a vulnerable spot of not just Genevra, but to Redley as well.
"Why we became an exploration team is none of your business," Genevra said finally after the graceless pause.
In other words, Gallade thought, you became an exploration team for personal reasons. You obviously aren't in it for the fame or attention, so it seems.
Knowing that this was all he was going to get out of the conversation, he sighed, relaxed — such a sigh would make many Pokémon squeal in joy and infatuation — and said to Roserade, "I'll be back for a bit."
Roserade nodded, understanding Gallade. By now, Roserade was one of Gallade's closest friends; saying, "I'll be back for a bit," meant that he was off to spend some alone time, doing some heavy thinking.
"Of course," Roserade waved, and the Gallade went off to a close area, though it would be in a place difficult for him to hear anyone in the Hot Springs. As anticipated, Genevra and Redley didn't bother with any kind of goodbye.
"Well, now that he's gone," Roserade addressed the Gallade the Gardevoir quite happily, "I assume that'll be a relief to you two."
Genevra and Redley looked at each other. "In a sense, I guess so," Genevra said carefully.
Roserade laughed warmly, hoping to lighten the atmosphere. "Come on, let's go back to the springs. You two look like you've overworked yourselves. The hot water will soothe your pain away."
It took some time, but both Redley and Genevra eventually sank back into the Hot Springs, attentive of the unhappy Pokémon around them ("Jerks!" some of the Pokémon mumbled loudly), though Roserade's authoritarian presence and glare made some of them back off. No one would dare retort back to a powerful member of Team Raider.
"So, I'm curious," Roserade asked in a casually kind tone. "How did you two come to meet each other? Are you two, by any chance, in a relationship?"
"FWWWHAAAAAAATT?!" both the Gallade and the Gardevoir exploded, stuttering incomprehensible speech. Pokémon from nearby glared at them in vengeful fury, looking as if they were ready to murder Redley and Genevra without any feelings of guilt.
Are the hints really that obvious?! they thought in unison. Surely, we just look like we're just friends!
At this point, the reader might muse on how hilariously contradictory both Pokémon were, especially Redley. For one, Redley was clearly jealous of Gallade before, being tortured through all the anguish and misery of thinking that Genevra would leave him — thank Arceus Genevra hadn't fallen for him! — and yet, it was also apparent that were anyone to bring out any mention of a relationship, he would have some exaggerated spasm, very much like Genevra. The Gardevoir herself was in love with Redley as well, though for someone like her, she would very much keep it as a secret rather than having it exposed, naked to everyone. But, oh, did Roserade find this adorable. Without even a sprinkle of doubt, they were in love with each other, and they simply did not want to admit it.
Roserade took note of this, giving the two a perplexed look. "Did I really offend you that much? If I did, I offer my deepest apologies."
Genevra shook her head, as if to get rid of unwanted flies buzzing around her. "I-I'm sorry. A, a question like yours is not… what we're used to expecting…?"
"W-well, other Pokémon have said the same thing a-about us," Redley stammered unusually, his voice shaking as if he were in the middle of a cold winter. "We, we're just in an exploration team. There's nothing really going on b-between us."
Roserade decided not to pursue the answers to the question any further, and so he switched back to his first question. "But, I do wonder how you two have met each other. I won't ask why you two are in an exploration team together, since you don't seem to be comfortable talking about it."
"W-well," Redley looked at Genevra, unsure if it would be okay to tell him how they had met. The Gardevoir nodded, giving him permission, and he began explaining the details.
"We met after the night of the big thunderstorm. Genevra was washed up on the beach near Treasure Town, and I found her lying down on the sand sometime around sunset. She was, unconscious, I guess I could say, and when she woke up, we just… met each other that way."
"Ah, so you saved her? How gallant of you." Roserade decided at this point not to meddle any further into their story. He knew he was already making them feel uncomfortable enough; there would be no reason to question them any further.
Redley released a weirdly tight smile, flustered by Roserade's remark. He thought, I didn't actually save her. I didn't go into the water and pull her out of the storm…
Genevra, notwithstanding, didn't seem to mind the comment. She turned her head away from Roserade and Redley, her mind sinking into a pensive mood.
"So you saved her? How gallant of you." Roserade's words were echoing like resonant mirrors within her conscious, bringing a faint and delicate blush to her cheeks.
When he puts it that way, Genevra thought, her blush deepening, Redley did save me. If I hadn't met Redley, then maybe I'd be dead, my body being eaten by some wild Pokémon… Maybe I should stop overreacting and just admit that I…
"Genevra?" Redley looked at his partner, noticing her expression. "Are you… okay?"
"Ah, yeah." The Gardevoir nodded briskly, and then gave an attempted smile. "It's just that the water is really nice. It's very… relaxing."
Indeed, it was relaxing. The Gardevoir sank into the water a little deeper, coming to the realization that her body seemed much more comfortable. It didn't take very long for her to notice that those displeasingly abhorrent sores were now vanishing away into an abysmal oblivion, the muscles relieving its stress with every moment that passed. She smiled contently to herself for this, the happiness almost overwhelming her.
"The Hot Springs are definitely a wonder." Roserade smiled. "It's amazing to think that a place like this could even massage away your body pains. Gallade and I come here all of the time after doing any kind of tiring mission."
"Oh, that's… that's nice," Redley said, hoping to fill the air between them with some sound.
From then on, the most mundane of silences took place, all Pokémon falling under a tranquil spell of rest from the hot pool, leisurely spending their time watching the clouds float by, enjoying the water ebbing against their own bodies, doing anything that demanded little work of the body or the brain.
Of course, it was interrupted when Gallade made an abrupt appearance back at the Hot Springs. Redley flinched ever so slightly at his arrival, while Genevra put on her guard, wary of Gallade. Roserade, on the other hand, greeted his teammate with a generous smile. The smile wasn't returned, and the three could see why when Gallade was followed by a Magnemite.
"We've got another mission to do, and the Magnezone Police Department needs our help for it," Gallade said seriously, his dark baritone revealing hints of a threatening urgency. "Rhyperior is already at the Crossroads waiting for us. We need to get back and prepare."
Roserade matched Gallade's tone, the smile disappearing as if it had never been there in the first place. "What's the situation?"
"Zzzt. There have been reports of Lugia on a rampage. Zzzt. There was a huge hurricane in a section of Panthalassa Ocean." Magnemite crackled with electricity. "Lugia caused a gigantic storm just recently, destroying cities in the ocean, and the Lanturn Police Department has contacted us saying they need our help. Zzzt. We are not sure where Lugia is headed for next, maybe Miracle Sea or Surrounded Sea. Zzzt. Either way, we can't let Lugia head for our town next. Zzzt."
Hearing this, Redley and Genevra's ears perked up in alarm. Roserade immediately removed himself out of the Hot Springs, grabbing his towel as Gallade grabbed his own. Around them, Pokémon started noticing the severe situation, murmurs of worry and fright springing up within the crowd.
"Alright, then," Roserade said, turning back to Redley and Genevra. "It was nice to meet you two. May we meet again one day."
"By the way," Gallade lifted an arm towards the west, pointing towards the direction, "in completing your test, you'll want to go over there towards Apple Woods." Here, Gallade smiled. "Those Perfect Apples aren't too difficult to find for a team like yourselves. Just beware of the spiders, though I'm sure you'll be capable of handling them."
Redley and Genevra looked at Gallade in shock. Even in such a setting where such crucial news had just been delivered, he was willing to help them complete their evaluation.
"Though you two have just met us today, I can feel that this is not the last time we will see each other," Gallade continued, his eyes displaying charismatic warmth, notably towards Genevra. "We'll be seeing you again."
... I still want to rip him to shreds...
Before either Genevra or Redley had time to say anything, Gallade commanded, as if he were a military general, "Let's go. We can't waste any more time."
With noticeable speed, the two went their ways away from the Hot Springs, leaving the Pokémon behind filled with an abundance of unanswerable questions and comments of appall.
"Lugia? You mean, Lugia?" one whispered very quietly.
"I can't believe it!" another mumbled. "That's terrible!"
"I've heard from other explorers about storms in the Panthalassa Ocean, but the Treasure Town Times never ran a full article about it! Who knew cities were being destroyed?"
"Well, a team like Team Raider will certainly be capable of handling such a disaster."
Regardless of the current chatter buzzing around like bees, Genevra and Redley looked at each other in uncertainty. The sudden, unforeseen news rendered both Pokémon dumb and aghast, and they weren't sure what to do or what to say. What a shock the irony must've been — Lugia, the supposed "Guardian of the Seas" was doing the exact opposite a guardian was destined to do: destroying what She was supposed to protect.
Genevra sighed to herself. Somehow, the news about Lugia was bothering her a lot more than it was supposed to. She briefly flirted with the idea of visiting the Treasure Town Library, as Redley had suggested some time ago, not to help regain her memory, but to see if she could find anything about the legendary "Guardian of the Seas." The name itself sounded very familiar; where had she heard of Lugia before?
Most of all, Genevra thought, Why does this seem so important to me?
Apparently, the situation wasn't bothering Redley as much as it was to Genevra. In all honesty, he had to admit he was glad Gallade was gone, though he couldn't forget Gallade's warning to them: "We'll be seeing you again." All the while, the news of Lugia's rampage tugged at him, but Redley himself felt as if he was walking through some thick, imperceptible fog in deciding how he should react next. Certainly, he did not carry Genevra's idea of going to the library to do research about Lugia.
"Redley," Genevra said quietly to the Gallade.
The Gallade looked at her attentively. "Yes?"
"I'm just wondering, do you think we could pay a visit to the library after the entire evaluation is done?"
Redley had absolutely no reason to say no. "Yeah, of course. Is it for your memory loss?"
"It's more about Lugia than about my memory loss," Genevra responded. "We can focus on that at a later time. It's just… I have a really bad feeling about this."
The Gallade looked at her curiously, knowing that Genevra had something on her mind.
But then again, it seems like Genevra can predict the future… She was right about Drowzee and Azurill, anyways… the Gallade thought.
"Do you… possibly know anything about Lugia?" Redley asked carefully.
Genevra looked at him, her eyes meeting his. "I might. I'm not sure. I feel like I know something about Lugia, but I need to double-check a few things first. Still…" the Gardevoir sighed, as if relieving herself of the bad news, "that doesn't matter yet. We need to finish our evaluation first."
"Ah, yeah." Redley looked towards the dirt path, signs pointing to Treasure Town poking out from the bushes.
For the rest of the afternoon, the two Pokémon stayed in the Hot Springs, knowing that another opportunity to rest wouldn't be coming for a long while. It was especially a relief to Genevra, and she was, for sure, quite happy that her body wasn't as sore as it had been. Battling others wouldn't be as much of a pain as before.
It didn't stop their minds from wandering off into pensive moods, though. For Redley, his mind was still occupied at the arrival of Gallade from Team Raider. Seeing him suddenly wanted to make Redley more possessive of Genevra, but if he acted possessive, then that would only make their relationship worse.
Don't worry, Redley, the Gallade assured himself. It's fine enough that Genevra doesn't like Gallade. I can't get too possessive over her, either, because doing that would make me a terrible Pokémon. In relationships, I can't ever let myself be possessive over someone else. If I'm possessive over someone, how can I even call that love? That'd be called an obsession, and true love means both partners respect and trust each other. It never means being over-protective, or possessive… I can't be so selfish or dominating towards Genevra either…
Genevra, meanwhile, had different ideas in mind. Even though it's only been a few days… even though we haven't really known each other so long, why… why do we like each other? Is this… what friendship is? Is this what love is? And why does Gallade like me anyway? Good Arceus, why is this happening to me…?
Most importantly, the one thing they couldn't get off of their minds was, When will we just admit that we like each other and let this waiting game end?
The sky was beginning to turn into a deep, indigo blue, the clouds showing signs of developing a peachy, orange-gold color that signaled the sunset to end another day. Around the beach of Treasure Town, various citizens cluttered around in masses, for the news about the rampaging Lugia had finally settled within the entire population. Most of the Pokémon there were the admirers of Team Raider, nearly crying at the sight of seeing their beloved team leave, but also screaming girlishly in that they would be awaiting Team Raider after they defeated Lugia. To them, the diehard devotees, Team Raider would succeed and save the world from the rampaging Lugia. (Of course, they would be very, so very wrong later.)
There were also other citizens of Treasure Town, all of them getting ready to say good-bye to the select Pokémon who were chosen to aid Team Raider in defeating Lugia. These chosen Pokémon were seemingly ordinary Pokémon with families, be it husbands or wives or children. However, they were chosen for their extraordinary skills — they used to be top-notch explorers, after all — and for their specific types: Ghost-Type, Ice-Type, Electric-Type, Dark-Type, and Rock-Type. There weren't many Rock-Types, but for the ones that were, they were the brave souls who decided to help build the temporary army to fight against Lugia. (Worried loved ones kept wondering if the Rock-Types would survive against the water, but those who were Rock-Types assured their loved ones that they would come back in one piece.) Surely, with an army like this, it would be much easier to take down the Lugia.
And last, but not least, certain Pokémon from the Magnezone Police Department would be accompanying the expedient, temporary army as well. For one, a Sheriff Magnezone would leave with Team Raider, as well as two Deputy Sheriff Magneton. Though it seemed like a small number, it was suffice to say that no more Pokémon needed to accompany the entire army.
It was around late afternoon when Team Raider and the chosen Pokémon had finally departed from Treasure Town on a generously kind-hearted Wailord. Everyone on board was alert and ready, as if they were excellently trained soldiers in a first-rate military.
Except for Gallade.
Which was unusual, because Gallade was ordinarily the most alert, the most vigilant, and the most battle-ready of all Pokémon. Now, he seemed spaced out, lost in thought, with a soft look in his eyes threatening to take over the Gallade.
Naturally, Rhyperior noticed this strange behavior. Gallade was usually the pragmatic, no-nonsense, forceful, and rational leader. He was the type to take charge of something, demanding challenges to surmount him, having absolutely no patience with inefficiency. The normally dynamic, decisive, extroverted Gallade was now quiet, lost in thought, almost seeming to shun himself from the world.
"What's up with Gallade?" Rhyperior whispered to Roserade. Surely, the Grass-Type must have known something had happened to him.
Roserade smiled, whispering, "Gallade's fallen in love. He met her while we were at the Hot Springs today."
"Are you sure he's not just flirting with another woman? He has a really bad habit of doing that. It's no wonder Team Charm hates the crap out of him."
Roserade shook his head quietly. "This time, it's different. And you can see that I'm not lying. When was the last time a female made Gallade turn into this?"
Rhyperior looked back at Gallade, noticing the soft, almost dreamlike quality of his eyes.
Yeah, Rhyperior thought, that's really weird.
"You know, I can hear you two." Gallade smirked softly, a sad smile forming on his lips.
"This is unlike you, though," Rhyperior said. "You never let females do this to you. I thought you were the kind to flirt and then abandon."
"Oh, I am that kind." Gallade sighed, his soft smile turning into an even tighter one. "That's how I work around women. I flirt with every single one of them, and then abandon them. And they all come crawling back to me, no matter how much I hurt them. But now, sweet Arceus, it seems like I've finally received my punishment for being such a licentious man, for betraying all of those women. I find someone I really am in love with, Genevra, and… Oh, Arceus, she doesn't love me back. It's so very clear, that she does not love me back."
Feelings of amusement and pity stirred within the hearts of Rhyperior and Roserade. They had never seen Gallade like this before, and so they wondered what would be the proper way to react to their close friend.
"Anyways, I shouldn't be acting like this." Gallade sighed, turning his head away from his dear friends. "We've got a battle coming up, and if I make a mistake on my part, and we lose, then it'll be my entire fault. I can't let that happen."
Roserade looked at him empathetically. "I found out how Redley and Genevra met each other."
The Gallade didn't respond, but he grew curious and wanted to ask how they met. He didn't say a word, but Roserade intuitively knew that Gallade wanted the answer.
"It happened at the beach, apparently," Roserade started slowly. "It was the day after that really terrible thunderstorm just recently. Redley found Genevra unconscious on the beach, and from then on, they knew each other."
Still, nothing came from the Gallade.
"Redley was clearly suffering back there," Roserade went on. "I assume that you did notice him."
"Of course I did," Gallade suddenly said, and smirked oddly. "It's a pity that I couldn't have found Genevra first. If I had found the lovely Gardevoir before Redley, well…"
Roserade chuckled softly. "I almost felt bad for Redley. You were torturing him."
"Torturing him?" Gallade laughed a little this time, sounding noticeably angry at this accusation. Both Roserade and Rhyperior flinched at this sudden rage. "Torturing him? I am the one being tortured. He doesn't realize how lucky he is. Mark my words, Roserade…" Gallade looked up to the sky, the pink-shaded clouds above seeming to take the shape of a heart, "Anyone who has Genevra is lucky. I'd say she's much more beautiful than all three females from Team Charm. In fact, she's the most beautiful of them all… What am I saying?"
What are you saying? His friends thought in response.
"Genevra shouldn't even be compared to any other female. She's superior to every female I've met."
Roserade and Rhyperior facepalmed; had they not been sitting on top of Wailord, they would've facefaulted instead. Both Pokémon sighed, the pity eminent within them.
"…Sometimes, I wish I could be you two. You two never have these womanizing problems as I do. You don't have to deal with the problems of being a womanizer."
Both Roserade and Rhyperior wanted to ask, Is there anything we can do to help you? However, they already knew the answer to that question. The only way they could help Gallade was to continue doing their job. They were all members of Team Raider, and they could not ditch their duties. Doing so would result in the most serious of consequences, not just to them, but also to the Pokémon who were in danger of being destroyed by Lugia and Her rampaging storms.
I know that I am in love with Genevra after all, Gallade thought sadly, and then smiled quite sorrowfully. But she is not mine, and I'll never be able to see myself in her eyes…
To the relief of Team Raider, no one had heard them discuss about these personal matters. Wailord was a gigantic Pokémon, and Team Raider was situated far away from the rest of the Pokémon, who were all too anxious and busy to even recognize the Gallade's dilemma.
Whether or not Wailord heard the discussion himself was also debatable; nevertheless, if he had heard it, Wailord would keep it a secret. After all, Wailord himself was an honest and decent Pokémon, and he would never spread around gossip about Gallade's love problem. To do such a thing would make him feel terribly awful, and nothing would ever be able to compensate such a feeling.
The reader, at this point, might surmise that Team Skull is gone forever. Ideally, that's what we want to happen to unwanted antagonists. But those readers who are a bit more meticulous on the art of reading might think otherwise.
Yes, Team Skull was back, and not for any good either.
They weren't near any vicinity of where the Seekers were — they had secretly fled back to Treasure Town, hiding from others, especially from that dreaded Wigglytuff. They had no desire whatsoever to appear before him, for it would be the worst humiliation they would face if Wigglytuff were to find out about their little mishap at Mt. Bristle.
"Blast those losers!" Skuntank snarled as he angrily scratched a tree with a paw. The poor tree looked as if it was in pain from the Skuntank's razor sharp claws. "I'm still pissed off that they were able to defeat Salamence!"
"Whoa-ho-ho, Chief," Weezing coughed. "We still can do something about them. I mean, they still have to get the Perfect Apples, don't they?"
"Yeah, Chief," Golbat agreed, flapping his wings in excitement. "Ya know, if dey are goin' to Apple Woods next, den maybe we can bring back da Perfect Apples first."
"Yeah, as if that will do any good. After all, they already saved Azurill and defeated Salamence. Besides, they've probably already accomplished the other tasks before we did. So much for getting revenge."
Weezing and Golbat looked at each other mutely, unsure of what to say next. Both were afraid that if they were to say anything, they might find themselves being yelled at by their chief.
"Unless…" Skuntank flicked his tail, a plan formulating in his head. "Unless…"
A silence hung quite sinisterly in the air. Weezing and Golbat sensed that the Chief had something planned. Whatever it was, they both knew it would be deliciously evil.
"Well… We'll just wait for them to come and snatch those Perfect Apples… because when they do, they'll be running away like scaredy-cats this time!" Skuntank chuckled eerily, delivering shivers to Weezing and Golbat.
"So…" the two Poison-Type Pokémon said in unison, trying to deduce what the Chief might say next.
Skuntank smirked at his team members. "We may have lost the battle against Team Sneezers, but that doesn't mean they have won the battle. Here's the deal: if we stop them from getting those Perfect Apples, they'll fail the evaluation. They might've accomplished the other tasks, but if they fail the last one, it's over for them. Boys, we're going to Apple Woods!"
Hearing this, the Poison-Type Pokémon agreed enthusiastically. If they hadn't, they would've received an unpleasant scolding from their boss.
At a far later time, the Seekers decided to rest near the Hot Springs for the night before heading to Apple Woods, while Team Skull had finished hiding all of the Perfect Apples in the forest. They seemed to be in a comfortable setting, although another certain Pokémon wasn't.
Grovyle panted heavily, having just narrowly escaped a wild Swalot that was chasing after him. The Swalot complained about not having enough to eat (something like saying that a Grass-Type like him would make a delicious dessert), and that was when Grovyle knew he had to flee for his life.
He certainly hoped Genevra wasn't in the same situation.
Of course, that wasn't the main thing focused on his mind at the moment. Rather, it was the very fact that the word was spreading about a certain Pokémon: Lugia.
He had overheard nearby Pokémon talking about Lugia, and he remembered their conversation very distinctly. Grovyle was crossing over the mountains, Whitestone Mountains, and a trio of Pokémon were talking about Lugia rampaging in the Panthalassa. The green lizard was hiding within the shadows of the trees and bushes when he heard the discussion, and in hearing the word about what was happening he panicked.
Just exactly how far back in time did Celebi send us? Grovyle was thinking urgently. If she sent us to the year where Lugia became Shadow Lugia – Primal Lugia, then maybe we don't have as much time after all!
At realizing this, Grovyle shook his head madly, the fear gaining control over the Pokémon faster than he hoped it would. He looked upwards to the sky, scanning around to find the North Star. If he followed the direction of that star, then he knew that he would be heading in the right direction to Treeshround Forest.
Genevra, where are you? I really must find you!
No, Grovyle. The green lizard forced himself to calm down. Genevra is fine. She is fine. You will find her. You will find her. You will collect those time gears. And you will save the world. The Dark Future will cease to exist. This is the promise you made with Genevra. This is the promise you made to Celebi. The promise you made to everyone living today.
Sighing to himself, he looked around his environment. He was starting to get tired, and he needed to find some place to sleep. All the while, it had to be suitable enough so that he wouldn't get eaten by any wild Pokémon.
The lizard glanced up at a nearby tree. It was tall, and Grovyle assumed that it was unoccupied. Silently, he began climbing the tree, his own Treasure Bag bouncing back and forth softly against him. He listened carefully around the tree, and hearing nothing, he decided it was suitable enough to sleep on for the night.
After settling comfortably against a fork of branches, the leaves providing him cushions against the hard wood, he sighed to himself, and said a prayer.
Dear Arceus, let me find Genevra soon…
You're getting a lot more worried than you usually do, a voice inside Grovyle noted. What if you really don't find Genevra?
I can only hope… he thought back, about to lose his calm.
Still, what if something bad really happened to her?
Nothing bad happened to her! he snapped back to the voice in anger and frustration.
The voice stayed quiet, almost as if it were amused by Grovyle's frenzy. In response, the green lizard frowned, dismayed at his hysteria.
Nothing bad happened to her… nothing bad happened to her… How did we get separated anyways? She was holding my hand, and she couldn't have gone very far at all. Yet I should've found her by now…
Maybe you should give yourself some more time. Maybe give it some time, and then you'll find out where she is… Or better yet, you'll find her and complete the mission…
The apprehensive voice wasn't done bothering Grovyle.
Nothing bad happened to her yet.
Nothing bad happened to her, and nothing bad will ever happen to her!
Something bad will happen to her. The voice chuckled haughtily. Something bad will happen to Genevra, and there isn't anything you, Grovyle, can do about it.
Grovyle sighed, his tense muscles uselessly attempting to relax. He forced his eyes shut, commanding his entire body to rest. He still had a far way to go to Treeshround Forest, and there was absolutely no way he was going to let some stupid, obnoxious voice get in the way.
Despite Grovyle's insistence that Genevra was okay, and that nothing bad happened to her, the lizard couldn't help but feel that deep down, something bad was going to happen to the Gardevoir. Whatever it was telling him this — his intuition, his instinct — he hoped it was completely, and unquestionably wrong.
And somewhere else within the night, another Pokémon had narrowly escaped the wrath of Lugia's destructive storm.
Deep within some mildly cold waters of Panthalassa Ocean, a mystical looking serpent was swiftly swimming to the best that he could. His light blue tail was wrapped protectively around the Royal Egg — a transcendentally colored, dark-aqua egg with little golden spheres forming the shape of an angelic halo, dancing innocently around a rich burgundy orb.
The confounded storm had rendered the Dragonair temporarily unable to fly, especially since his body received a blowing shock from the violently unnatural winds, their speeds nearly strong enough to rip apart Pokémon into tiny pieces. Good Arceus, the winds were destructive enough to dismember bones and organs of any Pokémon standing in their way. Such was the power of Lugia's cruelly demoniac storms, and it went by default that anyone witnessing these storms would be scared. It didn't help that the raindrops smashed down onto the ocean like the bullets of a gun. They were so strong, and so lasting that were any Pokémon to feel the harsh raindrops pellet down to them, it would be similar to experiencing icy golf balls drilling brutally into their bodies.
It might as well have been called a war instead of a hurricane.
"For the love of Kyogre," Dragonair whispered to himself, the tears rolling down his cheek, "I must deliver the Prince of the Sea to safety."
It was all because of that damn Lugia. Why did the monster have to go in such a rage? What in the name of Arcues would provoke Her to cause a storm? She destroyed the Royal Palace — She didn't even care! — and She murdered the King and Queen of Panthalassa. And though the Panthalassa Military tried to protect the Royal Palace, their efforts were all in vain. Dragonair could remember the gruesome sights of death everywhere — dead bodies chopped up mercilessly from the winds, the ruthless rain, the wildly flying debris of destroyed buildings — and the screams of torture and agony. And blood.
Oh. The. Blood.
There. Was. So. Much. Blood.
What was worse was that because it was underwater, the blood that spewed forth from dead Pokémon was streaming artistically as if they were ribbons, as if blood swimming in the ocean was an admired art, vanishing away into graceful and sinister ecstasy.
The serpent thought he saw Hell.
As a loyal butler to the Royal Family, he painfully agreed to escape the Royal Palace with the Royal Egg. Dragonair was the most trusted butler of all butlers, and so the Royal Family had pure confidence that he would not disappoint them.
The Royal Family declared that they would stay back and fight against Lugia, fight against Her rampaging storm.
And what pity, because even though they stayed back, their efforts were all wasted.
If only Kyogre were awake.
Of course, that would be silly. If Kyogre were to awake once again, then Groudon would have to awaken too. And if they were to both awaken, that would only cause destruction for the entire world they lived in. Yes. Awakening Kyogre would be silly.
Dragonair lifted his head out of the waters once again, looking up to the sky. At the moment, he was far away from Lugia's storm, for the stars above him shined vividly, as if they could not see the hurricane. He searched for the North Star — following the North Star would lead him to the Surrounded Sea — and grateful that he spotted the ever-bright star so easily, he dipped his head back in the water and swam onwards. The last memory of the King and Queen ebbed back into his mind, and he couldn't help but remember their last words to him.
"The Surrounded Sea is where you must go," the Queen told him gently, holding back tears.
"In the very center of the Surrounded Sea, there is an empty palace that is invisible to all Pokémon. But if you arrive on the night of the lunar eclipse, the palace shall be visible, and you are to take the Royal Egg to that palace and raise our son from there," the King added in a much more serious tone than his wife's.
"B-but…" Dragonair protested feebly. It was the first time the loyal servant had ever talked back to the Royal Family. "I— I can't—"
"You must and you will." The King looked at Dragonair sternly. "This is your last order from us. Should you fail, we will be forever disappointed in you."
Dragonair lowered his eyes, desperate to fight back his tears. There would be no use in arguing. "Yes, my King and Queen."
The blue serpent fought back tears once again. Damn Lugia and Her storm.
He gripped the egg even tighter with his tail, the beautiful egg completely hidden by the grasp.
I must go on, Dragonair thought forcefully. I must go on and fulfill their last wish…