CHAPTER ONE: VS DRIFBLIM
The crowd was overwhelming: two thousand people squeezed into Hearthome Stadium on a Friday night. Everywhere Flint turned, it was either an elderly person with an aged Delcatty looking for something exciting in their life, or hardened trainers - you could see it in their eyes - looking to watch a good battle to be inspired.
"Volkner should be here," Flint mused to himself.
Flint wasn't looking forward to this battle. For one, it would mean that he would have a two hour journey back to the Sunyshore City, where he lived with his boyfriend Volkner. For another, it would mean that if either of these women won, he would hear no end about it from Bertha.
Flint and Bertha were extremely close, of course: both were currently still serving on the Sinnoh Pokemon League. Bertha was one of Sinnoh's strongest trainers, respected by anyone who called himself a serious trainer, Flint included. And why not? She was classy, wrapped in her signature brown shawl, with grey curls and a kind demeanor. She was willing to help anyone who asked her for help. Her personality was radiant, warm, and she also knew how to use Ground Pokemon extremely well.
On the other hand, Agatha was one of the coldest people he had come across. The exact opposite of Bertha, Agatha from Johto-Kanto's Elite Four had never met a person she liked. Flint, to her, was tolerable, and only because she found his Drifblim cute when they had met for a cross-regional League conference. As a Ghost master, Agatha suffered no fools, and it came across in the way she treated people: direct and harsh. She was now retired from the Elite Four, and no one knew what she did anymore, but no one really cared.
And now... This battle.
Flint had no idea why it was happening. Bertha had informed him about it three weeks ago, when she started seriously training again, but she gave no explanation how it came up. From what he knew, the sisters hadn't spoken to each other in fifteen years, and during the last cross-regional Pokemon League conference, Bertha had called in sick. Flint was puzzled. First of all, how had they even contacted each other? And why now, why after fifteen whole years?
"Hi... Hi, there," a timid voice snapped Flint out of his thoughts. "Are you Flint, from the Elite Four?"
Flint looked down to see a young girl holding out a photograph of the Sinnoh Elite Four: Aaron, Flint, Bertha and Lucian.
"Can... I get your signature?" She asked.
"Oh! Oh, sure," Flint said, his smile creeping back to him. "No problem, kiddo! Always remember, battle hard, stay strong! Keep those fires burning!"
Flint scrawled off his signature and returned the photo back to her, who backed away slowly from Flint as though he had a disease. Then, when she was a safe distance away, she turned and bolted off.
"Ahhhh, Fleent, you 'ave scared off another 'ittle girl," A female voice, thick with accent, rang behind him. "Why must you always scare girls?"
Flint turned to see the Gym Leader of Hearthome City, Fantina, holding two paper plates of nachos. Behind her, two Drifblim were each holding an ice cream, licking away happily.
Flint's Drifblim snuggled up close to Flint, and he smiled. Fantina knew how to make his Pokemon happy. She was a wonderful woman, who came from France, a faraway land where Pokemon were scarce and trainers were few. Dedicated to battling, Fantina started training in the type that was prevalent in her country: Ghost. She was also an accomplished Pokemon coordinator.
"As I was saying, ah... Yes. 'Ow is Volkneyrrh?" Fantina asked. "He good?"
"Yes," Flint replied, as they started walking into the stadium. "He's a bit sulky again, because he beat the last challenger in ten minutes. So now he's... I don't know, doing some artwork for the lighthouse or something."
"You must cheer 'im up," Fantina said. "That is your job."
"I give up cheering him up," Flint said. "Besides, he's more handsome when he's sulky."
"I cannot wait for zis battle!" Fantina squealed, rather randomly. "Ghost Pokemon are so fascinating, and to see them being used by an Elite Four of ze Ghost specialty, ah that is exciting!"
"Pokemon in Pokeballs, please," the stadium ushers reminded as people handed out their tickets. "Pokemon in Pokeballs, please."
"'Ello, VIP seating," Fantina drawled.
"OH! Fantina!" One usher rushed over. "And Flint! Here, this way. Pokemon on laps in VIP seating."
Fantina and Flint followed the usher into the stadium and up the stairs. The doors opened into Hearthome Stadium - which had been completely transformed for the exhibition battle.
The entire stadium was cloaked in purple-black lighting and design. The usually large and clear windows had all been covered by opaque purple curtains, and strange black voodoo candles hung ominously from the ceiling. If not for the candles, the stadium would have been pitch black.
The battleground however, was a different story - it was a rocky landscape. Small rocky hills dotted the battleground, and there was a sand pit in the middle, where the Pokeball marking should have been.
"What is going on?" Flint mused out loud as they took their seats. "This is a really strange battle."
"Bertha did not tell you?" Fantina asked.
"No, about what?"
"The purpose of zis battle. I thought she would have."
"No, she didn't," Flint replied. He was shocked. "How would you know?"
"Ah. Agatha told Morty, you know, from Johto, who told me!"
"About what?" Flint demanded. "Fantina, do you know why they're battling now?"
"Yes!" Fantina declared breezily. "Agatha and Bertha are fighting over the will to their parents' fortune!"
[TO BE CONTINUED]
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