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    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    Default Travels of the Trifecta!

    Following DP100, Paul and Reggie are issued a challenge by their father, but only after they meet a specific criteria. After all these years, will they finally earn his respect?

    For people exclusively following the dub, there will be spoilers. For the record, I am using the English names. This is heavily based on canon but can easily veer off into AU territory. Currently genfic; not shipping-centric, but includes one-sided HeatTagshipping and one-sided Curtainshipping, as well as past references between Brandon and a dead OC. More may or may not be added later! Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!


    Characters Featured (statuses subject to change):
    (Primary) Paul, Reggie, Brandon, Conway, Maylene, Barry
    (Secondary) Byron, Samuel, Saturn/Sloan, Mars, Charon, Ash, Dawn, Brock
    (Minor) Professor Oak, Misty, Tracey, Daisy, Nurse Joy (several), Cyrus, Jupiter, Gardenia, Maria, Rhonda, Zoey, Candice, Pokemon Hunter J, Fantina, Jessie, James, Meowth, Olivier, Scott, Anabel, Noland, Tucker, Spenser, Lucy, Greta, Roark, Connally, Marian, Raoul Contesta, Mr. Sukizo, Provo, Taylor, Dr. Dalton (OC), Janelle (OC), Mina (OC), Franny (OC), Harold (OC), Irma (OC)
    (Mentioned) Andrea (OC), Volkner, Whitney, Fantina, Crasher Wake, Cynthia, Wallace, May, Max, Jasmine, Palmer, Professor Elm, Professor Birch, Professor Rowan, Holly, Ursula, Kenny, Argenta, Darach, Caitlin, Dahlia, Thorton, Steveland, Uncle Damon (OC), Aunt Janet (OC), Amber (OC), Mako (OC), Hale (OC), Shakira (OC)
    (To appear/be mentioned) Flint, Gary, Nando, Detective Looker, Tobias, Silver, George (OC), Merle (OC), Alanis (OC)

    Art based on the story by me.

    By Others:

    Chapter 01 - Paul receives Brandon's letter from Reggie by KP
    Chapter 02 - Paul runs to catch his ride to Canalave City by KP
    Chapter 02 - Reggie and his Infernape with Maylene by KP
    Chapter 03 - Reggie's Rage by midnightsdarkangel
    Chapter 07 - Conway's exposed as a liar by Tiamat
    Chapter 10 - Paul's KOed while Mars makes her getaway by someonewhohasaname
    Chapter 11 - Paul in the hospital by someonewhohasaname
    Chapter 17 - Paul's Torterra vs Reggie's Infernape by KP
    Family Photo by Snake Bandage
    Long-Distance Christmas by KP

    Official Travels of the Trifecta! Timeline (contains SPOILERS)

    Chapters 1-15
    Chapters 16-30
    Chapters 31-37

    Chapter List:

    Chapter 01: Brotherly Snubs! (it's all this post)
    Chapter 02: Come Help or High Water!
    Chapter 03: My Way or the Conway!
    Chapter 04: Over the Borderline!
    Chapter 05: It's On Like Bastiodon!
    Chapter 06: The Checking Order!
    Chapter 07: Lucky There's A Family Guy!
    Chapter 08: Super Smash-Brawlin' Maylene!
    Chapter 09: Disco Monferno!
    Chapter 10: Mars Attacks!
    Chapter 11: Flying-type Solo!
    Chapter 12: Yippee Kiai-Yay!
    Chapter 13: Conway to the Danger Zone!
    Chapter 14: But It Feels So Lonely Without Barry!
    Chapter 15: The Pyramid Prince's Perished Pride!
    Chapter 16: ¡Viva la Regi-lution!
    Chapter 17: We're Gonna Need a Montage!
    Chapter 18: The Worst of Messes Become Successes!
    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!



    Travels of the Trifecta!



    “Oh, Paul! I didn’t expect a call from you so soon, bro.”

    Paul averted his gaze, giving no prompt response.

    “It’s not like you to call more than once a month,” remarked the young man on the video-enhanced phone system; obviously the elder brother, Reggie.

    He’d come to expect these avoidant gestures from Paul, so he simply continued to extend his salutation. After all, it was a pleasant surprise to be able to speak with him not long after the previous call. “But three times?” Reggie smirked. “Are you trying to break a record or what?”

    Paul huffed at the idea of such an endeavor. It couldn’t be helped, in his mind. Originally, having recently won a Relic Badge from Fantina of Hearthome City, Paul was en route to Canalave City, where he planned to cross back into Eterna City first (traveling to Canalave required quite a bit of backtracking) and finally face its Gym Leader, Gardenia, whom he passed over when he originally traversed through the town. Ash and his friends happened to be right there in the same place with the same intent as he, and after an insufferable encounter with them from the then-recent visit to Oreburgh City, Paul wished to spare himself the agony and save the gym battle for a later time. Being native to Sinnoh, Paul knew he would eventually return to Eterna City. If it meant sparing him from Ash’s insufferable nature, Paul figured it was worth it to put his plans on hold.

    “Spare me,” Paul spat. “I only called you again that time because I changed my mind about my team formation just before my gym battle was scheduled. I was going to give Electabuzz a workout in a Gym where the typing was not to his advantage, but after actually meeting that psycho they call a Gym Leader, I decided to wipe the floor with her. That’s why I asked you to send Magmar to me instead.”

    Reggie gave his younger brother a tired smile. “What, did she look at you the wrong way? You really should find better ways to vent your frustrations, bro.”

    Paul’s eyebrow twitched, remembering his recent encounter with Eterna City’s Gym Leader. “She’s a complete nutjob. I’m not exaggerating. The second she laid eyes on Torterra, she wouldn’t let go. She was borderline enamored, Reggie. Apparently she acts like this around all Grass-type Pokémon.”

    “Heh, yeah,” Reggie chuckled. “That’s what they say about her. She’s really got a strong devotion to Grass Pokémon.”

    “It would’ve been nice if you warned me about that before I decided to bring Torterra out,” Paul said; his tone scathing. “That’s not the kind of behavior I want to expose my Starter to. Anyway, like I said, she needed to be taught a lesson. And there’s no better way to teach that lesson than to bring about fire to her precious grass.”

    The way Paul worded that last sentence concerned Reggie a bit, but he put it aside for the moment. “So, how did you do?”

    Paul responded by holding up the Forest Badge for his brother to see. “Need you ask?”

    Reggie simply smiled and shook his head. “You weren’t too brutal on her, were you?”

    “You know I don’t concern myself with holding back,” Paul answered with a shrug. “After the battle, I only ended up burning maybe a quarter of her gym field. Maybe I would have burned the rest of it, but I was eager to get out of that city as soon as possible, if only to get her out of my hair.”

    “Still undisciplined as always,” Reggie said with a sigh. “You really need to stop abusing the power you have in your reputation. If Dad were here, he’d—”

    “He’s not here,” Paul interrupted. “Don’t waste my time with your What-Ifs, Reggie. Deal with your anguish over him on your own time; I’m calling you now because I’m on my way to Canalave City; the one with the Steel-typed Gym. I want Electabuzz back, and I’m sending you Magmar in exchange again.”

    Reggie frowned briefly at being cut off, but nodded. “No problem. So you’re using Electabuzz against Byron, huh?”

    “Doubtful,” replied Paul. “There isn’t much of a challenge to be had in a Steel-type Gym for Electabuzz. But I’ll likely use him by the time I reach Snowpoint City, and that Gym would be far too simple for Magmar, and the same goes for Canalave. Might as well get this exchange over with; then I can make up for the high volume of calls this month by not contacting you at all for the next three months.” A wicked smirk formed on his face briefly as he said that.

    “Not funny,” Reggie said, looking serious. “You know how dangerous the route to Snowpoint can be. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll start worrying.”

    Paul rolled his eyes as he took out his Pokéball containing Magmar, and began the transfer process; his brother had done the same for Electabuzz. “If I had known her at all before she died, I’d say you’re an exact duplicate of mother, Reggie. At least… you’re acting like one, I guess. Point is, stop your worrying and nagging. I have three regions’ worth of experience under my belt; I’ll be fine.”

    Reggie smiled sadly, looking down. “Dad did say that to me once…”

    “I don’t care what he has to say,” Paul snapped. “Drop it.”

    The elder brother blinked, looking confused. “You were the one who brought it up… anyway, it’s not because I’m like Mom that I worry, Paul. It’s because you’re my little brother, like it or not. And you’ll never admit it, but you’ve got a lot of growing up to do, and with Dad not being around, it’s my job to look out for you. Even if it’s only through monthly telephone calls,” he said with a small laugh.

    Paul merely grunted in response as they waited for the transfer to complete. After a period of awkward silence, the young trainer decided to change the subject. “Just to be safe, Byron isn’t a Steel-obsessed freak, is he?”

    “Nah, he’s pretty level-headed,” Reggie assured him. “He’s Roark’s father, after all. Even so, you don’t have any Steel-type Pokémon for him to obsess over anyway, right?”

    “Good point,” Paul conceded. “Gardenia may or may not have left mental scars from our encounter, so don’t be surprised if I ask you about the rest of the Gym Leaders I’ve yet to face.”

    “Poor guy,” Reggie chided. “All of that exposure to love might’ve been good for you, Paul.”

    Paul glared at the screen. “Don’t make me nauseous.” A Pokéball popped out of the transfer slot just in with a chime, confirming the exchange had been completed. “Finally,” Paul growled, snatching the ball and putting it in his bag with the others.

    “So, just out of curiosity, which Pokémon are you planning to use against Byron?” Reggie asked. “If I’m not going to hear from you again in a while, at least let me imagine how your future battles are going to play out.”

    “You must be bored out of your mind in that little petting zoo of yours,” Paul said, purely in a tone of mockery. “If you must know, I’m planning to use Ursaring, Weavile, and Honchkrow.”

    Reggie’s eyes widened. “You’re really serious about this intensive training. All of them have type disadvantages!”

    “Oh, really? I had no idea,” Paul said sarcastically. “The true path to strength has no easy twists and turns. But this has carried on long enough. I need to get going. I’ll call again… when I feel like it; understood?”

    “That’s how it’s always been with you,” Reggie said with a sigh, looking conflicted as Paul was loading on his gear and getting ready to set out.

    “… Wait.”

    This phone call was already way too long and drawn-out for Paul’s liking; the added delays were beginning to aggravate him. “What is it? Make it quick.”

    Reggie looked worried; unsure that he should be telling his brother this. But he didn’t have much time to debate the best course of action in his head, for he knew how impatient Paul tended to be. “I’ve… been bringing up Dad for a reason, Paul.”

    “Should I care?” Paul asked, cold as stone.

    “Yes, you should,” Reggie sternly responded. “He sent a letter to me and it arrived just the other day ago. I’m sending you a copy right now.” And just as he said it, lights were blinking all about the machine as another transfer began.

    Paul was taken aback by this, truth be told. It had been ages since Paul’s father last made contact with his sons, but Paul was quick to replace the shock with anger. “What do you think you’re doing?! I have no interest in what the old man has to say!”

    “He mentions you,” Reggie said with a smile. “I think you should read it. He’s on the hunt for another Legendary Pokémon; one much stronger than the last few he acquired. He says he’s getting close, and… when he captures it, he’s inviting me to come over and battle with him.”

    The words struck Paul like a bolt of lightning. “You mean an…”

    “… official battle?” Reggie finished for him. “Yes. He’s giving me another chance to earn the last piece to my puzzle. Though it won’t be the final piece for long,” he said with a laugh.

    Paul blinked a few times, looking very disgruntled. “What are you talking about?”

    “According to him, a new Battle Frontier is due to open up soon. So whether or not you win the Sinnoh League, you should consider giving the Battle Frontier a shot afterwards. Dad says if you earn all of the Medals there, he just might consider giving you a shot at his Symbol.” Reggie smirked. “Now think about that, if you will. What if we could both finally defeat our old man, bro?”

    Paul’s face was blank for a moment, as if he was seriously thinking about that hypothetical outcome. But soon after, he frowned. “And you think you actually have a shot at beating him this time?”

    “Not really,” Reggie said, feeling humbled when he thought realistically about his chances. “The Pokémon he’s after will be anything but a pushover. I’ll have to bring my A-Game on when I see him, so… I’ll have to dedicate some of my time to train, meaning I might not be available the next time you call me.”

    “Because… by that time, you’ll probably be in Kanto, right?”

    Reggie nodded. “Right. I’ll have to leave the Pokémon under the care of someone trustworthy while I’m gone… probably Maylene.”

    Maylene?” Paul echoed, raising an eyebrow. “Honestly, she barely qualifies as a Gym Leader, let alone a—”

    “I’m sure she’ll do a good job,” Reggie assured. “And as you know, Dad is never in the same place twice, so…”

    “… I’ll have to await your calls, then,” Paul finished. “Since there’s no way of knowing where you’ll be. At the very least, you’ll know I’ll primarily be at Canalave, Snowpoint, Pastoria, or Sunyshore City.”

    Reggie pondered for a moment. “Think we should invest in a set of PokéGears?“

    “I’m not that desperate for your calls,” Paul grumbled. “I’ll stick close by the Pokémon Centers, then, but really, don’t feel obligated to call me. I’m not as fond of these conversations as you seem to believe. I can well live without them.”

    “Well, I could use that extra time to train,” Reggie said, letting out a chuckle. “We’ll see how it all turns out. Now, you’re taking that letter, right?” By this point, the copy of the letter had fully transferred over to Paul’s end.

    “Fine,” Paul conceded, roughly grabbing the paper, crunching it up, and tossing it in his bag. “I’ll read it when I find a place to settle down for tonight. Happy?”

    “Very,” Reggie replied cheerfully, as if he meant to sound annoying to his little brother. “But… in all seriousness, best of luck in the League, Paul. I’ll do everything I can to be there to support you when the Conference commences.”

    Paul looked away again, feeling uncomfortable for reasons unknown to him. “The next time you call, I’d better see a Brave Symbol in your hand. I don’t care if that means you have to miss seeing me in the Conference; you need intensive training more than I need moral support.”

    “Gee, bro. That almost sounded like a threat,” Reggie commented, smiling uncomfortably.

    “I meant it,” Paul clarified. “If you lose to him again, it’ll be a lose-lose situation for me no matter what happens when I face the old man. Because even if I win and get his Symbol, I’ll still have to be related to you – a loser – after the fact. That’s too embarrassing to stomach, frankly. I’ll even bite the bullet and talk with him myself to get you disowned if it comes to that. That’s something that would benefit everyone.”

    “You really need to think about what you’re saying before you actually say it sometimes,” Reggie scolded. He tried not to look offended (as it wasn’t the first time he’s heard this sentiment from Paul), but Paul’s cocky expression on the other end was telling enough that Reggie didn’t hold back on his emotions very well, either. “Mm… whatever. I’d better sign off. I’m going to start my training tonight if I can finish up my tasks quickly enough. Promise me you’ll be careful, Paul.”

    For Paul, it was a victory to him when his words were scathing enough to affect his own older brother. Especially when it led to him actually working to strengthen his team as a result.

    “I’ll be fine. You just worry yourself with trying to make up for seven years’ worth of failure to the old man,” Paul instructed, acting as if he were the elder brother for a moment. “And if you don’t win his Symbol, don’t bother trying to contact me again. Alright? If I don’t see a Brave Symbol in your hand the next time you call me, I’m hanging up. Goodnight.”

    It was hard for Reggie to keep a smile up at this point. “Goodni—”

    Paul switched off the video phone before Reggie finished his farewell. He turned around, reloaded his gear, and began to set off again. “What a waste of time,” Paul growled under his breath to himself. “I could’ve reached Jubilife City by now.”

    He exited Floaroma Town’s Pokémon Center and looked to the skies, seeing that the sun had not yet begun to set… but it was getting close to that time. Traversing through the caves at this hour that would eventually lead him to Jubilife City would be difficult and time-consuming, and Paul felt he had wasted too much time on the video phone with his brother as it was. Paul sighed, deciding for once to opt for convenience in order to stay on schedule. He dug into his bag and brought out a Pokéball, pressed the button and tossed it out.

    “Honchkrow, standby!”

    Out of the Pokéball came Paul’s Honchkrow, instinctively posing for battle, but seeming surprised when it saw there was no battle for it to participate in. “Honch?” it squawked questioningly at its trainer.

    “No, I didn’t call you out for battle,” Paul confirmed, sharp in tone. “You should know by now that I don’t do this unless there’s a serious emergency or we’re running behind schedule; in this case, it’s the latter. I planned to reach Jubilife City by sundown, but unforeseen circumstances now make this impossible to accomplish on foot. So you know what you need to do, right?”

    Honchkrow nodded. “Krow, krow.”

    Paul nodded back to his Pokémon. “Since you’ve evolved, you should be able to handle my weight now. There’s no excuse for you if you screw up. So, Honchkrow… use Fly!”

    “Krooooowww!” Honchkrow called out as it indeed began to fly, and after getting adjusted to it, hovered at a level where Paul could reach his Pokémon, in order to hitch a ride by clinging to its leg.

    After Paul securely latched on to Honchkrow’s leg, he sternly looked at his hovering Pokémon. “We’re set. Fly, Honchkrow! To Jubilife City!”

    Honchkrow willingly obeyed its trainer, and despite having initial difficulty in managing Paul’s added weight, it was able to take flight and stabilize at a reasonable altitude. Eventually, both Pokémon and trainer made it to Jubilife City just before the sun had fully set.

    Instead of a compliment or a thank-you, Paul merely looked at Honchkrow with a studious expression before huffing out a “Return!”… Bringing Honchkrow back into its Pokéball.

    After revitalizing his team at Jubilife’s Pokémon Center, Paul took up shelter in a nearby hotel for the night. He took a ground-level room and settled in his bed. Before going to sleep, Paul left the side-table lamp on amidst the darkness throughout the rest of the room. Paul dug into his bag and pulled out two things; a Pokéball and the crumpled-up letter Reggie sent to him.

    Quiet and subtly, Paul released the Pokémon inside. “Torterra, standby.”

    This was the reason for getting a ground-level hotel room. At nearly seven-hundred pounds, Torterra would be hazardous on upper floors. Noticing the atmosphere, Torterra was quick to realize he was not called out for battle. It stared at Paul, wondering why he was called out at this time of night in such a peaceful atmosphere. “Torr…”

    “Correct,” said Paul. “We aren’t training or battling. But since you’re my Starter, Torterra, it’s important you listen to what I’m about to say. I know you’re concerned about Ash Ketchum’s Grotle at present, but you have bigger things to worry about; believe me.”

    “Tor, Tor…” Torterra muttered as it inched closer towards Paul.

    Paul showed Torterra the crumpled letter that he attempted to smoothen out a little. “Remember a long time ago, when I said I you were going to be part of a significant turning point in my life one day? This is it, Torterra. It’s a letter from the old man himself.”

    “Terraaaah…” Torterra growled, apparently not fond of Paul’s father itself. “Torterra!”

    Paul glared at the letter, just imagining the scathing words he was about to read. “Normally I wouldn’t care to read what he has to say, but Reggie said this is a special occasion.” He looked up sharply at Torterra. “Don’t interrupt me.”

    Torterra silently nodded, understanding the order.

    “Let’s see,” Paul murmured, gazing at the letter and letting out a deep breath before reciting what was written before him:



    Salutations, boys. Both of you.

    It’s been a while since I’ve last written to you, mainly because I finally accomplished my latest task: collecting the Regi trio – Regirock, Registeel, and Regice. At least, I thought I had accomplished the mission until I learned of a legend of the leader of the Regis, rumored to go by the name of “Regigigas”. Upon my capture of this Pokémon, I would like the elder boy to join me at the Battle Pyramid for another chance to win my Brave Symbol. However, I have only a few clues as to where to find this Pokémon. Rest assured, I will contact you when the time comes. Consider this a generous offer, as I doubt my first kid has gotten any stronger since the last time we crossed paths. Nonetheless, a celebration will commence when I capture Regigigas, and there’s no better celebration than to test the skills of my own flesh and blood. I wish for both of you to one day earn the right to be my sons, but that does not mean I will go easy on either of you.

    As for the little boy, I’m wishing you the best of luck in your pursuit of your own native region’s championship. Show them no mercy; show them no trace of the weakling that I saw in you the last time we battled. You should know that I have been battling many trainers as of llate in order to recruit new Frontier Brains for the nearly-completed Battle Frontier, Mk. II. Whether or not you win the League, boy, I urge you to conquer this new Battle Frontier and earn all five Medals after you are finished with your League competition. Should you succeed in conquering the new Frontier, I will grant you permission to battle me for your own Brave Symbol to have. But like your brother, you will have to defeat me cleanly in battle in order to earn the Symbol and my respect. Continue to show no mercy in every battle you have, but never forget about the importance of bonding with your Pokémon. Based on what the older boy’s told me, you’ve been more than a little cruel in your tactics with raising Pokémon. Perhaps defeating you again will prove you wrong; we’ll see. Irregardless, I look forward to battling with you again, boy. I want to see how you’ve progressed in your training, and hopefully I’ll see that you’ve been doing it right.

    Should either of you stumble upon information regarding Regigigas, send it to me immediately. The sooner I capture this Pokémon, the sooner the two of you shall have the battle of your lives.

    Boys, continue working your way to victory. Make our inevitable reunion count this time.

    Sincerely,
    Pyramid King Brandon


    "Nothing out of the ordinary," Paul commented, glaring. "Just an extended version of what Reggie told me. I see he still has trouble with using our names… big surprise."

    "Torrr," Torterra grumbled, sharing the same sentiments as its trainer.

    Paul crumpled the paper up into a ball and attempted to carelessly toss it aside as pure rubbish, only it rebounded off the table and back into his bag. This led to further agitated grumbling by the scorned trainer. "It would be satisfactory to stick a fork in the old man and claim his Symbol." Both he and Torterra realized something at the same time: Paul was as bad about referring to Brandon as his father as Brandon was to referring to Paul and Reggie as his sons, or even by their given names.

    "Terra, tor…" Torterra mumbled, looking concerned. It was a pity that he was so big that he couldn't get any closer to Paul, and would definitely break the bed should he try to climb upon it.

    "You understand why I brought you out to hear this, right?" Paul asked his Starter Pokémon. Said Pokémon nodded quickly. "Right. You're going to be part of this battle when the time comes. You're the only one who knows just how insufferable the old man is. You're going to remember this letter, and you will play a part in earning me the victory I deserve. I won't accept failure from you. Is that clear?"

    Torterra nodded again, this time looking somewhat fearful.

    Paul seemed disgusted that his own Starter, the one he considered the most ruthless on his team, has been oddly sentimental as of late. First for Grotle, now this… it was beginning to disturb him. "Even if you are my first Pokémon, you aren't getting special treatment, Torterra. Fail me this time, and you just might wind up like Chimchar in the near future."

    Torterra's eyes widened at the thought of such a thing. It hadn't occurred to it that even it was as disposable as its comrades. "T-Tor…!"

    "And since Ash already has a Grotle, I doubt he's going to get you on the rebound like he did for Chimchar," Paul reminded him. "Keep that in mind when we're able to fight the old man. And don't forget you're going to be participating in Snowpoint City's Gym Battle. You know what type that Gym will be, and you have your work cut out for you. Work hard and prove to me that you're going to take these future battles seriously so I know I can count on you when we face the old man."

    Torterra resumed his 'business' look. "Torterra!"

    Paul nodded. "That's the attitude you need. So stop worrying about everyone else's problems from now on and focus on our goal. You're my strongest Pokémon, Torterra. Set a positive example for the rest of the team."

    Though doubtful, Torterra refused to show that in his gestures. "Terra!"

    Paul looked down and closed his eyes. "So we're understood." Holding up the Pokéball, Paul proceeded to call his Pokémon back. "Torterra, return."

    After putting Torterra away, Paul settled under the sheets of his bed and turned off the light. Though he lay still in the bed, his eyes were wide open. What was coming to him in the future was so overwhelming that he couldn't sleep… not that he would admit it.

    He almost wanted to skip the Conference entirely and move straight on to the Battle Frontier, so he would be ready when his father was ready. … Almost. Paul knew not to leave any business unfinished, and he had spent years preparing for a return to his native region to take the championship after failing to do so in Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn. And in a way, he wanted to break Ash Ketchum's spirit as well. He wanted to outdo his older brother, and he wanted to completely emasculate his father.

    Imagining the success did well enough to eventually lull Paul to sleep. But even in his sleep, real life continued to dominate his mind.

    For all that Paul had to look forward to, he almost completely forgot about the Mine Badge; his next short-term goal. How this would affect Paul the next day… only time will tell.


    ( TBC )
    Last edited by Shinneth; 26th June 2013 at 10:15 PM.

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  2. #2
    Religion is a club Every Breaking Wave's Avatar
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    This was, in short, amazing. I really enjoyed reading what you have down so far. I think you captured Reggie's personality very well, though Paul seemed to be a bit OOC to me, primarily in the first part of the chapter. When I was reading his lines, he seemed to be more like 12-year old Artemis Fowl than Paul from Pokemon. I also thought Brandon seemed a bit harsher than he was portrayed in the anime.

    Your writing is really good, however. You have fantastic sentence structure, very good format, and it was very enjoyable to read. I can't think of any constuctive criticism, except perhaps for the way you portray the character's personalities.

    Again, good job. I look forward to the next chaper.

  3. #3
    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    Haa, thanks! Reggie was the one I was worried about the most since I didn't actually see all of his episodes, but it's relieving to know I got him down.

    Brandon, on the other hand... I should have mentioned it in the beginning of my notes (but I didn't really want to blow the "surprise" of who the dad was right out of the gate), but I'm basing him more off the Japanese version rather than the dub. According to Dogasu's site, Brandon never even referred to Ash by his name when they conversed and consistently maintained a gruff, standoffish personality. That's already going to make this story really wacked-out and AUish and mixed, but that aside, I've got some backstory planned for Brandon that should hopefully explain his attitude, as well as Paul's. Even I thought Paul threatening to release Torterra might've been too extreme, but for the fight of his life he's planning for and his own emotional/mental issues, it seems this kind of behavior might not totally be out of the question. Depends on how well I can explain the eventual backstory.

    Minor alterations aside, I want this story to stick as close to the canon story in the anime as possible, meaning I'm gonna have to wait for the anime for a few weeks to see if it's feasible to have Paul battle Byron while Ash and the others are screwing around on Iron Island (or see if it's possible that Paul fought Byron before Ash reaches him... then there's the obvious matter of whether or not Jun's going to cross paths with him anytime soon). The addition of Jun will make for some fun plans in the future, though. I have some epic plans for Paul's journey to Snowpoint afterwards, too.

    And I hope the anime allows for Paul to challenge the new Frontier, too. But I'll have to wait a few more months until we get the names for the new Brains translated before getting into them (I'm a nut for consistency)... oh well. If the anime doesn't fly with me on this, I'll just settle for it being AU. Sorry if that came off like a rant. I just needed to get all that out so it can be used for reference! Hopefully that explained some things for you, though!

    Again, I'm really glad you're enjoying this~. If the anime takes too long giving me the OK to progress, I may just make some filler chapters starring Reggie training or Brandon finding Regigigas clues...

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  4. #4
    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    It's been a lengthy delay (though by my standards, this is nothing, really), so without further ado, Chapter 2!



    Paul was wise to take shelter before nightfall. After he finally dozed off in his hotel room, a system of severe thunderstorms loomed over Jubilife City. Major areas of business, including the Pokémon Center, readied their back-up generators once Sinnoh Now’s weather channel issued a warning for the strong storms soon to come. Lightning crackled over the city menacingly as those who were still outside quickly took refuge. Many cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were reported, making the outdoors a hazardous place to be.

    It was a rough night for many, but Paul managed to sleep through every second of it; he was never once startled by the flash of lightning and the rumbling, ground-shaking thunder that followed soon after. However, unbeknownst to Paul, one strike of lightning around the crack of dawn was fierce enough to cut off the power to Paul’s hotel and the residential block nearby. Thankfully, the hotel had a back-up generator that would serve as a substitute while the worst of the storm passed by.

    However, due to the power being off for even a short moment, Paul’s alarm clock was reset when the backup generator activated. The time was no longer accurate, and the alarm’s defaults were set back to midnight, rather than what Paul had programmed before going to bed: 9:30 AM. This would allow him enough time to have breakfast and walk leisurely towards Jubilife’s port to catch the ship departing for Canalave City at 10:45 AM.

    The sun could not shine its rays down upon Paul to tell him it was morning, as the rainy weather remained long after the thunderstorms had passed. Now it was simply raining; a massive downpour of rain, but the citizens of Jubilife gladly took it over the thunder and lightning.

    On his own, Paul eventually woke up, yawned, and stretched himself out a bit. He had realized that he did not wake up to the sound of his alarm and looked to his clock.

    After staring at it for a moment, he rubbed his eyes, grabbed the clock and took a closer look at it. “What the… 3:13 AM?” Paul said out loud. He looked out the window to check. “That can’t be right.”

    Paul walked over to the window and looked at his surroundings. The severe storm had left behind a mass of clouds in its wake, making things relatively dark outside for a morning. “I see… there must have been a storm last night that caused a power outage.” He began to back his things in preparation for leaving the hotel after a quick breakfast. “That must have been what woke me up. It still looks pretty early out. The rain’s bound to slow me down a bit, so it’s best I leave earlier than I planned. Hopefully they haven’t cancelled the trip to Canalave…”

    Once he was ready, he left his room and approached the restaurant on the other side of the building. Paul was pleased to find no line as he went to the entrance and waited for a hostess to seat him. Once he was at a table and ordered his Oran Juice, Paul looked through the menu and quickly decided on what he wanted. The waitress returned to his table, ready with a pad of paper and a pen.

    “Are you ready to order now, sir?” she sweetly asked.

    “I am,” Paul affirmed. “Some scrambled eggs and biscuits with gravy should suffice.”

    “Oh, ah…” The waitress looked uneasy. “My apologies, sir, but we stop serving breakfast after 10:30.”

    That was a cause for concern. “Wh… what? But that can’t…” Paul looked to the window outside briefly before glaring at the waitress. “What time is it?!”

    The waitress looked down at her Pokétch . “10:35, sir. I’m sorry, but you just narrowly missed breakfast, so…”

    “Nevermind that!” Paul shouted abruptly, standing up and throwing down five PokéDollars on the table and grabbing his bag. “I have a boat to catch; this should cover the juice and the tip. Now, get out of my way!”

    Paul was true to his word, as he would have trampled over the confused waitress had she not moved to the side just in time. In a blink of an eye, Paul was out of the restaurant and dashing outside while it continued to rain heavily. The waitress looked on, having no clue why it was so necessary for him to behave in such a manner, but collected the pay and tip, as well as the half-finished glass of juice and continued about her duties.

    Meanwhile, outside in Jubilife City, Paul was running as fast as his legs could carry him to the port station on the other side of the city. It was fortunate that he always wore a coat, as it came in handy for the downpour he was racing out in; something very few others in the city dared to do.

    “Only ten minutes until they disembark…” Paul muttered to himself as he kept running. “I have to make it. It would be easy to use Honchkrow right now, but that’s not a good idea in a thunderstorm… they’d better have a delay, or I’m not going to make it…!”

    Despite the odds, Paul would not let himself be discouraged and continued to dash across Jubilife City to the port. He was soaked from head to toe by the time he finally reached the port, but that was the last thing on his mind at that point. Upon arriving at the station, he was able to see a ship sail away. In a panic, he ran to the checkpoint with his now-soggy ticket in hand.

    “I’m here for the 10:45 departure to Canalave City!” Paul stated sharply. “Has it left yet?”

    “Son, that ticket is all washed up,” the ticket manager noted. “And the ship to Canalave left port five minutes ago. Sorry, but you’re too late.”

    “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Paul complained, glaring out at the water. “In these conditions, there wasn’t even a delay?!”

    The manager shook his head. “The thunderstorm portion of the system passed over Jubilife quite a while ago. It’s safe to voyage out now. Sorry you didn’t make it. But since you had a ticket and went all this way, how about you stay the night at the station and we’ll get you on the next ship to Canalave tomorrow morning. You’re gonna catch a cold staying outside as wet as you are, kid.”

    “I’m not waiting until tomorrow to get to Canalave,” Paul growled lowly. “I did not come all this way just to be even further behind schedule than I already am. If there isn’t another ship that will take me there, I’ll just catch the boat myself.”

    “W-wait, what are you talking about?” the manager asked, looking appalled at the idea. “You need to stay right where you are! You’re talking nonsense!”

    “The only nonsense I hear is coming from you, old man,” Paul replied in a scathing tone. “Now, get out of my way!”

    With that, Paul burst through the checkpoint area and dashed towards the dock area. The sudden intrusion caught the attention of quite a few sailors as well as the ticket manager, but Paul acted fast before anyone could catch him. He opened up his bag and put the soaked ticket inside and took out a Pokéball. Without hesitation, he pressed the button and threw it.

    “Weavile, standby!”

    The Sharp Claw Pokémon came out of its ball, and like Paul’s other Pokémon, was in a battle stance as it was usually only called for battling. Seeing no battle taking place, Weavile looked questioningly to Paul. “Weavile?”

    Paul shook his head. “You aren’t battling. This is an emergency. We need to reach Canalave City and we’ve missed our boat. It just left, however, so I believe you’re fast enough to catch it.” With his bag still open, Paul brought out some rope and quickly tied himself to his Pokémon. “You need to Surf along the water while using Ice Beam simultaneously for me to travel along conveniently behind you. Are we understood?”

    While the order was complex, Weavile had been with Paul long enough to know his routine and had been through more difficult trials in the past. “Weav!” it affirmed, nodding to Paul.

    “Good, then hurry up and use Surf! They’re about to capture us!” Paul shouted out, noticing the group of people coming his way very quickly. He clung on tightly to the rope as Weavile started to venture over the water in the form of a large tidal wave. Inwardly, Weavile hoped the journey to the boat would not be a long one, knowing it had its limitations, especially while doing two things at once. A continuous Ice Beam was quick to follow to allow Paul to stand while Weavile essentially water-skied its partner across the water. By the time the sailors reached the edge of the port, Paul and Weavile were long gone, leaving only a quickly-melting trail of ice behind them that no sailor was brave enough to take on alone.

    Paul looked back briefly and smiled slightly in acknowledgment of his plan’s success. “We’ve lost them, Weavile. Keep it up; that boat can’t be too far ahead of us.”




    As Paul’s journey took a wild and exciting turn, the elder brother Reggie had a relatively mundane start to his morning. He was able to spend some time training with his original Pokémon team the previous night, but not as much as he would have liked. After taking care of his usual duties as a breeder, Reggie sighed and looked out the window, as he was not fond of dreary days like these.

    He was thankful that the storm had bypassed Veilstone City completely, at least, which made it much safer for him to train with his Pokémon, even if the conditions were not to his liking. He had expected Maylene to come by at some point today, as she agreed to look over Reggie’s breeding center while he was away doing the advanced training (as well as his father’s challenge). It surprised Reggie that the Gym Leader would so readily agree to take on such a responsibility when she had other duties to fulfill, but began to doubt that she would be coming by today after all. Not that Reggie blamed Maylene; it was a long walk from the Veilstone Gym to the breeding center, and in the rain, it would not be a pleasant journey at all.

    Reggie was taken by surprise when he heard a knock on the door and found none other than Maylene herself at the door with an umbrella in tow.

    “Maylene!” Reggie exclaimed, looking overjoyed. “I was about to think you weren’t coming due to the rain! Oh, you didn’t have to force yourself. If it’s going to be like this all day, I doubt I’ll be leaving today.”

    Maylene smiled and shrugged. She was also joined by her close training partner, Lucario. “Actually, Reggie, your request couldn’t have come at a better time!”

    “Really?” he said, amused. “What do you mean?”

    “Let’s discuss it in the kitchen,” Maylene suggested. “Lucario gets cranky if he gets too soggy,” she said with a laugh, prompting her partner to grumble in annoyance.

    Reggie smiled and stood aside to let his guests in. “By all means, then! Tell me what’s been going on with you; it’s been a while.”

    After being settled at the kitchen table with cups of tea (and some berries for Lucario), Reggie and Maylene resumed their discussion.

    “So, what makes this so timely and all?” Reggie inquired. “Aren’t you normally tied up with your duties as the Gym Leader?”

    “That’s the thing,” said Maylene. “They’ve temporarily shut down the gym for renovations. Apparently they’re revamping it and giving it a whole new look. And it’s not just my Gym that’s getting re-imaged; Gardenia and Fantina are getting theirs renovated as well. It was a decision made by the Pokémon League, and if it’s working to improve my Gym, I really can’t turn down such a generous offer.”

    Reggie nodded, understanding. “So that’s why you’re able to look over the breeding center… well, you ought to be able to take on challenges from trainers even with the Gym unavailable, Maylene. I have a wide, open field for a backyard that’s perfectly suitable for a battleground should you need it.”

    “Really? I didn’t think about the possibility of getting challenges while the Gym’s under construction…” Maylene pondered out loud. “You think I can legally do that here?”

    “Sure, why not? Fantina travels often and takes on challenges outside her Gym whenever one is issued to her,” Reggie pointed out. “And I’m not sure if you’re familiar with her, but there’s a Gym Leader from Johto named Whitney who’s also been known to take on official Gym battles outside her Gym. I don’t think any trainer will have a problem with trying to earn a Cobble Badge here. You may want to post up a notice at your Gym letting the trainers know where you are now, though.”

    Maylene nodded. “Thanks for telling me that… I feel a lot better about this now. Looks like this’ll help both you and me. I’ll give Connally a call; he’s helping out with the Gym’s renovations, so he can put up the notice about where I’ll be until the Gym’s finished.”

    Reggie smiled. “Looks like we have everything set, then. I was feeling guilty myself about dragging you away from your Gym, but this should work out perfectly. Just remember: don’t hesitate to give me a call if you’ve having trouble caring for any of the Pokémon here,” he said, holding up a PokéGear. “I offered to share one of these with my brother, but he declined. Since I’d hate to let them go to waste, I’ll let you have this one. There’s no telling where I’ll be while I’m training and when I meet my dad, so this’ll come in handy should you need anything. If I stop by a Pokémon Center, I’ll be sure to give you a call and check up on how things are going.”

    “Wow… thanks,” Maylene uttered, shyly accepting the PokéGear. “How’s Paul doing, anyway?”

    “Ah, well…” Reggie looked up and sighed, yet did so with a smile. “He’s the same as always, so don’t worry; according to him, he treated Gardenia way worse than he did you. I just exchanged Pokémon with him yesterday; said he was on his way to Canalave City. Looks like Byron’s his next target.”

    Maylene nodded. “No offense, but I hope Byron can knock him down a peg or two. If he hasn’t changed a bit, someone needs to knock some sense into him.”

    “I wouldn’t waste my time hoping for that,” Reggie warned. “Even if Byron does beat him, Paul will win eventually. He’s gotten extra incentive to get eight Sinnoh badges and get through the League now, so he’ll be working overtime to make sure he’s ready.”

    “Ready for the League?” Maylene asked.

    “Ready for dad,” Reggie corrected. “He sent me a letter recently issuing a challenge to both of us…”

    Maylene’s eyes widened at the revelation; being familiar with Reggie, she of course knew much of Pyramid King Brandon. “So that’s why you’re going out to train… I thought something was weird about you doing that after you chose to be a breeder…”

    Reggie sighed and looked to his mantle, where he kept frames of all the badges he won in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Kanto’s Battle Frontier symbols. It was a complete set… all except for the final Symbol in the Battle Frontier; the Brave Symbol. “A lot of people weren’t supportive of my decision considering my accomplishments in battle… and don’t get me wrong, Maylene; I’m not considering a career change. I still have my heart set on being the best breeder in the Sinnoh region.”

    “So why are you taking up the challenge?” Maylene asked out of honest curiosity. “You’ve shown us all that you have amazing battling prowess when necessary… it just simply isn’t you. I’ve accepted that… and several others have, too. It’s just your dad and brother…”

    “I’m doing this for closure,” Reggie assured. “To me, the Brave Symbol means so much more than just… completing my collection. If I cared about that, I never would have stopped trying to win it. But my dad… well, you’ve seen how he can be. I’m fighting for this symbol because to him, it says that I truly am his son. I can win all of the badges and Leagues in the Pokémon world… but none of it means a thing if I can’t defeat my old man in battle. I don’t expect you to understand it completely, but ever since our family was broken up, I’ve been determined to mend it back together the best way I knew how…”

    Maylene, paying close attention to Reggie’s words, blinked at the last part. “The best way you knew how? Surely you don’t mean this…?”

    “It was wishful thinking on my part that I could show my father that breeders have a place in the Pokémon world just as much as trainers. But he sees this profession as an insult to his own… and Paul shares the same opinion. The only way I can make amends with my father is to defeat him in battle and earn his Brave Symbol. I’ve tried it before many times and failed. Because of the path I’ve chosen, I honestly haven’t gotten much stronger since the last time I faced him. That’s why I need intensive training as soon as possible. I’m afraid I might not get another chance to battle him after this time, and if that happens… this family will never come together again.” Reggie slumped, with his eyes failing to make contact with Maylene’s. “That’s not what mom would want…”

    “She’d want you three to be happy and unified, like you were before she…” Maylene paused when she noticed Reggie’s expression. “O-oh, geez… sorry; I didn’t mean to bring that up…”

    Reggie faced her again, shaking his head and resuming his usual smiling expression. “I was the one who brought it up first. Besides that… it’s nice to reminisce about mom now and then. Paul was young when she died, so he honestly doesn’t know enough about her… and dad’s been evasive about the topic since she passed away.”

    That detail made Maylene concerned. “That’s a long time to shove a loved one out of your memory. I don’t know much of her myself, but… judging from what others have said, she used to be a breeder too, right?”

    “That’s right,” Reggie affirmed. “So you think it’d be weird for dad to shun me when I’m following in mom’s footsteps… but the fact of the matter is that Paul and I were both young when mom passed on. We relied on him for strength to move past it… but there was no one to help dad through his loss. He changed after she died…”

    “Does he… see her in you?” Maylene asked meekly. “Maybe that’s why…”

    Reggie sighed; this time no smile could cover up what he honestly felt inside. “The thought had crossed my mind. And that’s even more reason why I feel I need to win this Brave Symbol from dad. It feels like I’m a living reminder of what he’s lost, and since he never properly got over that… it disturbs him. So he shuns me… but if I can defeat him in battle, I can show him proof that I am my own person. I can show him that I can be as skilled as him in battle if I wanted to be. And maybe he’ll even see that he’s been ridiculous to cast me away just because I remind him of mom. So yes, Maylene… there are many reasons why I took up this challenge, and that’s why I want to take my training seriously without any distractions. I have to bring everything I have to the table when I face him, and… I don’t think I’m at the point where I can do that yet.”

    “Then don’t worry about this place at all!” Maylene said with confidence. “I wanna see you stick it to your dad and bring you guys together again! I think all of the Pokémon here would agree with me, too. You’re a great breeder, Reggie, but what would really put them at ease is to have a real family living here again.”

    Reggie nodded, but remained firm. “I’m not letting myself get too idealistic about this. The odds are well against me, and even if I win, that won’t make dad quit being a Frontier Brain. It’s my fault that dad’s stuck in Kanto as a Frontier Brain to begin with… he has a major responsibility to uphold in his position.”

    “That’s true,” Maylene concurred. “Frontier Brains are a pretty big deal… I’d ask why it’s your ‘fault’, but I think I’ve dug deep enough into your personal business as it is…” She blushed in embarrassment after saying that.

    “Like I said, it’s nice to have someone to talk to about these matters for once,” said Reggie. “It’s best you get it out of your system before I leave; after that, I’ll be too busy to answer many questions, you know.”

    Maylene looked conflicted. “You’ve got a point there… but there’s another thing that’s got me curious. You said your dad issued a challenge to Paul too, right? Why is that, since he hasn’t even challenged Kanto’s Battle Frontier yet? Don’t you need the other six Symbols in order to find Brandon and challenge him?”

    “Correct,” affirmed Reggie. “Paul’s a special case. He’s more similar to dad, if you haven’t noticed. He wants to go a similar route to dad, only achieve what dad failed to do in the past. I think dad admires Paul’s initiative, even though he’s still just as cold and distant to him as he is to me. According to dad, a new Battle Frontier is opening up soon. He wants Paul to earn all of the Medals in this new Frontier, and when he does, dad will consider it a special case and allow my brother to fight him for a Brave Symbol. “

    “Interesting,” Maylene remarked. “I had no idea a new Battle Frontier was opening up. I guess he’s not making you do it since you conquered Kanto’s, right?”

    “I assume,” Reggie figured. “So I don’t need to earn anything to battle father; he’s on the hunt for another legendary Pokémon. He says this one’s the alleged leader of the Regi trio that he just captured a while back. He’s still searching for clues, but he says it goes by the name of ‘Regigigas’. When he captures Regigigas, I’ll be invited to battle. So it’s impossible to determine how much time I have before the time comes, which is why I need to start as soon as possible. I’m counting on you to give me a call if dad contacts this place so I’ll know when to head to Kanto.”

    Maylene nodded, understanding fully what she needed to do. “If that’s the case, Reggie, you should start training right now! Just leave the Pokémon to me; you can’t afford to waste precious time on what’s gonna be an important milestone in your life!”

    “Are you sure you can run things here without me telling you the specifics?” Reggie asked, feeling unsure. “It’s not like this is good weather to be training out in, anyway…”

    After hearing that, Maylene’s Lucario grumbled and glared at Reggie. Maylene nodded her head in agreement with her partner. “Unless the conditions are severe, Lucario and I train day and night, rain or shine. If you’re really committed to your training, you’d better start packing right now!”

    Reggie was happy to see the burning spirit in the young Gym Leader; he had last heard that she was having issues with her confidence because of Paul, but was sure a certain boy with his Pikachu helped greatly in reviving Maylene’s enthusiasm. “I’m already packed up for a long journey,” he assured her. “I just need to double-check which Pokémon I’m taking with me. No doubt I’ll be taking my starter…”

    Soon after saying that, Reggie brought out a Pokéball, pressed the button and tossed it out, revealing the Pokémon he was given by Professor Rowan many years ago.

    “Infernape…!”

    “An Infernape, huh?” Maylene mused with a grin. “Look, Lucario: a fellow Fighting-type!”

    Lucario looked to Reggie’s Infernape briefly with a stiff nod before looking back off into the distance.

    “Aww, come here, you,” Reggie cooed as he hugged his Infernape. Like many of his Pokémon, his Infernape was a friendly, almost overly-affectionate partner. Reggie looked back up to Maylene. “Yeah, in addition to being one of my strongest partners, his type combination can work with Regirock, Registeel, and Regice with ease, so he’s basically my trump card in the grand scheme of things.” He grabbed a few other Pokéballs, but did not release the Pokémon inside. “Aside from Infernape, I’m also taking my other longtime companions: Staraptor, Bibarel, and Swalot.”

    Maylene nodded. “So that makes four. You guys are doing a full six-on-six battle, aren’t you?”

    “That’s right,” said Reggie. “So that would leave Marowak and Ampharos. Really, from raising so many Pokémon, the possibilities are endless for me… but my dad’s selection outside of the Regis is going to be pretty unpredictable. I have to be very careful about who I choose. Thankfully, I’ve worked with these six for a very long time… I trust they’ll do their best, and they understand what this battle means to me.”

    “Infer, infer!” Infernape chattered, as if it were agreeing with Reggie.

    Reggie smiled, giving Infernape a pat on the head and feeding his starter a treat. “Much as I regret to do so… I may have to be a bit tougher on them than I’m used to being.”

    “They’ll understand,” Maylene assured him. “You can take solace in the fact that you can’t out-do your brother in cruelty, so there won’t be any worry of you making the wrong decision. This is the path you’ve chosen, Reggie. You’re very good at it. Now’s not the time to be having self-doubts.”

    Returning Infernape to its Pokéball, Reggie chuckled under his breath a bit before facing Maylene. “You’re absolutely right. You’ve gotten a lot more confident over a short period of time, you know?”

    “Well, uh…” Maylene blushed in embarrassment again. “I can’t take all the credit for myself, but… I’m supposed to be like this all the time anyway! I’m a professional trainer, just like you. And you know what they say: every path of life in Pokémon starts with training, no matter which route you take. You aren’t betraying your dreams, Reggie; you’re just going back to your roots to prove a point to your dad that he should’ve gotten on his own a long time ago!”

    “In that case, I think you’ve proven to me that you can handle things here as well as keep up the good work in being Veilstone’s Gym Leader,” said Reggie, winking to Maylene as he grabbed his belongings. “I’d better head out, then, while it’s still… relatively light outside. Remember to give me a call on the PokéGear if you have any questions or problems, alright?”

    Maylene nodded with enthusiasm. “And if Paul calls, I’ll let you know about that too if you want!”

    “Of course,” said Reggie. “I can’t help but worry about that kid, no matter how many times he tells me not to. Anything else you need me to cover, Maylene?”

    After looking around briefly, Maylene shrugged. “Nothing I can think of, really! Just make sure you take care of yourself, Reggie! Do your best, but don’t overdo it, okay?”

    Reggie shook Maylene’s hand before turning around to exit from the front door. “It’s a promise. Until we meet again, then…”

    “Hopefully that’ll be sooner than later!” Maylene called out as Reggie left his home and out to parts unknown to train for the battle of his life. After a while, Maylene’s enthusiasm faded into curiosity as she looked up, as if trying to recall something.

    “Regigigas…” she muttered. “Something about that name sounds familiar… maybe I should look into that…”



    As Reggie left to begin his rigorous training session in solitude, Paul was still water-skiing with Weavile in hot pursuit of the boat en route to Canalave City that he was supposed to board. By this point, the boat was within sight, which made Paul grin.

    “Weavile, keep up what you’re doing and don’t slow down! We’re getting close!” Paul ordered. At this point, Weavile was well on its way to becoming fatigued due to the constant use of Surf and Ice Beam. The heavy rain pouring down on both of them did nothing to help matters, either.

    Instances like these were where Paul’s intense training paid off, as Weavile’s speed was likely the sole deciding factor in whether or not Weavile and Paul could reach the ship in time before Weavile’s energy gave out. Weavile dug its claw into the steel of the ship just enough to maintain a grip on it without having to continue the Surf/Ice Beam combination. Energy-wise, Weavile was now spent and barely had the strength to maintain its grip on the ship. By stopping Ice Beam, Paul no longer had a solid surface to slide upon and was now dragged in the water, rendering him helpless as he had no choice but to cling onto the rope of which the knots were quickly loosening.

    “Weavile…!” Paul spat, trying to keep himself above the water. “D-don’t you dare quit now! All you need to do is climb the ship and we’ll both be safe! I trained you to be stronger than this, didn’t I?!”

    Unfortunately, after all of his years of Pokémon training, Paul still lacked insight on just how far a Pokémon can go before completely giving out, and Weavile was putting all its remaining energy into hanging onto the ship.

    “Weavile, what are you doing?!” Paul shouted impatiently. “Climb, already!!”

    But Weavile had no means of recovering when it had to focus not only on sticking to the ship, but also maintain a grip on its trainer as the ship moved swiftly across the lake.

    “This is not a choice you have in the matter!” Paul coldly reminded his Pokémon. “Climb up this ship right now or we’re both going to die!”

    No amount of threatening could change their situation. Paul himself could no longer find himself able to shout orders at Weavile as he found it harder and harder to keep his head above water. But in what seemed like a miracle, Paul was suddenly consumed with a light and was lifted up above the water on his own. Slowly, his body seemingly defied gravity as it hovered higher and higher into the air, and since they were connected by a rope, Weavile was eventually dragged along with this mysterious phenomenon, though it was not consumed in the mysterious light that Paul was.

    All too conveniently, Paul was raised high enough to be landed onto the deck of the ship along with Weavile. After taking a few moments coughing out the water he had inadvertently swallowed, Paul realized that he had indeed succeeded in boarding the ship to Canalave City. Weavile too was with him, but borderline passed-out. Freezing cold and soaking wet, Paul reluctantly hugged himself to retain what little body heat he had left as he look up at his apparent saviors: in Paul’s case, said saviors were actually quite familiar.

    The answer to Paul’s ability to float on his own was answered when a tall, pink Pokémon made its presence known: Slowking. It had used Psychic to manipulate Paul’s body to its will; in this case, raise Paul’s body from the water to the ship. Since Weavile was partially a Dark-typed Pokémon, Psychic would not work on Weavile; it was simply lucky enough to be attached to Paul with a rope in order to be pulled along with him.

    Standing next to Slowking was the trainer whom noticed the incident and ordered Slowking to save them: the green-haired bespectacled human PokéDex himself… Conway.

    “And here I thought I was simply imagining things when I heard a familiar, cold-hearted and militant voice asking a Pokémon to do unreasonable things,” Conway said in his standard analytical tone, complete with amusement.

    You’re welcome, by the way.”

    (TBC)

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  5. #5
    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    Okay, this is weird for me to be updating so quickly. Anyway, hope you enjoy the inclusion of Conway into the story and hopefully make sense out of how Reggie suddenly turns OOC in his training methods near the end of this chapter. Hopefully I did it... relatively well?

    For this sight, there were no words; nothing Paul could retort back that would make him feel better after realizing who just saved him and his Weavile from certain death.

    “I’m still waiting,” Conway sung out tauntingly, as he had not forgotten how ruthless and uncouth Paul was during the Tag Battle tournament at Hearthome City. Still getting no response, Conway’s amusement faded with a tired sigh. “Fine, take your time on that if you want to. But we should really get you two inside now. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s raining rather heavily outside and you’re soaking wet as it is.”

    With that, Paul angrily pointed towards the slightly older trainer. “Don’t you dare come off as condescending to me! I didn’t ask for your help! Don’t expect me to-” Paul was then cut off by a sneeze. On its own, Slowking took that as a cue to pick up the now-unconscious Weavile and take it inside. Already undaunted by Paul’s rage, Conway offered a hand to help Paul up.

    “I had no intent on talking to you like I would a toddler,” Conway pointed out. “I’m simply stating a fact. You’re going to catch a cold at this rate, so it’s just common sense to go inside and warm up.”

    Paul smacked his hand away, and with a slight amount of difficulty, managed to stand up on his own. “I know that!! That doesn’t mean I have to accept your help!” He could be heard growling as he went inside on his own, following Slowking.

    Analyzing his behavior as he’s done to many people in the past, Conway smirked as he rested his chin against his hand. “Oh my. This trip suddenly got a lot more interesting…” After giving Paul some personal space, Conway went inside as well.

    Conway couldn’t help but find it mildly humorous that Paul walked inside the fancy hallway, practically looking like a drowned Raticate in doing so in his condition. Others aboard the ship took notice to the drenched boy, but his intense expressions were more than enough to keep them quiet. The small group continued to walk until Slowking stopped at a certain room and went inside, still carrying Weavile. Paul went in afterwards, eventually followed by Conway, who closed the door.

    The elder trainer looked closely at Weavile and shook his head. “Out like a light. And there aren’t any areas on this ship that could help your Weavile. We should be reaching Canalave City soon, though. They have a Pokémon Center that’ll patch your little guy up for you.” Conway looked to Paul with a mildly serious look on his face. “Until then, it would be best if you recalled your Pokémon to its ball.”

    “Hmph,” Paul grunted, refusing to even look at Conway. He was lucky to still have his duffle bag with him, and thusly opened it up to take out Weavile’s Pokéball. “Return,” he mumbled, and a red beam of light later, Weavile was returned to its ball.

    Once Weavile was secured, Paul glared at the ball and tossed it back into his bag. “I have half a mind to release the little cretin after that pathetic stunt back there. That moron could’ve gotten us both killed.”

    Conway pretended not to be interested in conversing with Paul by wiping the lenses of his glasses just then, but responded nonetheless. “Still as harsh as always, of course… what exactly did Weavile do to endanger both your lives, if you don’t mind my asking? Why are you hijacking a ship, anyway?”

    “Look!” Paul shouted, bringing out the soaked ticket from his bag. “I booked this trip ahead of time; I wasn’t hijacking anything! The thunderstorm knocked out the power in Jubilife City and caused me to be late for the ship! … But only narrowly,” he added. “Five minutes at best. Those idiots should have delayed the trip in conditions like these.”

    “Bet you wish you had a Pokétch now, huh?” Conway commented, and simply could not resist adding some of that sadistic amusement in this tone. “Never would’ve had to get into this mess in the first place if you did.”

    “Shut up!” Paul demanded. “Like you’re one to talk!”

    Conway wagged his finger at Paul. “It’s on my To-Do List, I’ll have you know. I’ve just been busy.” He couldn’t wait to return to the original subject, however. “So anyway, that’s making a little more sense why you’re here like this. There was no delay because the severe parts of the system moved past Jubilife well before this ship was set to sail,” he explained. Not that Paul didn’t already know this, thanks to the ticket manager he briefly had that exchange with, but it didn’t anger him any less to hear it again.

    “Since you were only narrowly late, you thought you could catch up with the ship since you happen to have a Weavile, which is notorious for being one of the fastest Pokémon around,” Conway figured; correctly, at that. “So I assume by the rope and whatnot that you and Weavile Surfed your way here on your own?”

    “Surf and Ice Beam,” Paul added. “I wanted to avoid getting even more wet than I already was, but it turns out my Weavile is a major disappointment, because it can’t even pull off two moves at once without nearly killing itself and me.”

    That earned a shake of the head from Conway. “Even if Weavile’s experienced, you’re asking for a little much there. You can’t sell it short, Paul. You did make it here, did you not?”

    “Only because your Slowking interfered,” Paul pointed out, referring to Conway’s large Pokémon, who simply huffed back at him. “Which, if I may remind you, I don’t recall asking you to do that for me.”

    Conway raised an eyebrow at that statement. “What, and let you two drown? You’re lucky I was close enough to the back of the ship to hear your cries for help. Weavile’s especially lucky to have been tied to you by a rope. Psychic moves don’t work on Dark-type Pokémon, so Weavile would’ve been a sitting duck if it weren’t tied to you and Slowking wouldn’t have been able to do a thing…”

    “I did not ask for help,” Paul said, adamant about this detail. “I was shouting at Weavile to stop being such a weakling. It managed to reach the ship, but it was too weak to climb it.”

    “Try using Surf and Ice Beam simultaneously yourself and see how long your stamina holds out,” Conway retorted, with a light pause. “Oh wait, you can’t.”

    Paul rolled his eyes. “Because I’m not a Pokémon, ha-ha-ha. You’re not one either, so it’s really not as right for you to judge how long my Weavile can keep up a combination.”

    Conway laughed at that. “What, because I’m not a Nurse Joy? I don’t need to be a Pokémon or someone in the medical field to know its limitations, Paul. Slowking can establish a telepathic connection with me. We telecommunicate in the same language, so I know full well of its capabilities and limitations. It’s something of a perk to having a Psychic Pokémon, you might say.”

    “Rub it in, why don’t you?” Paul grumbled, looking down towards his feet.

    “Why, I’d love to,” Conway responded, as if Paul were actually requesting that he should. “Slowking can sense the needs and limitations of other Pokémon as well. By carrying your Weavile, even if it is partially a Dark-type, Slowking can tell why it passed out. He relays that information to me with telecommunication, and voila, I know what’s wrong with your Weavile.” Conway suddenly gave a stern look to Paul, with his signature gleaming glasses gesture. “So that’s something you won’t need to discuss with Nurse Joy when we reach Canalave, which is a good thing… because as I recall back in Hearthome City, you and the Nurse Joys don’t mesh particularly well. They care too much, and you care too little.”

    Please shut up,” Paul requested through gritted teeth. It truly grated him to be lectured by a trainer… not only one who annoyed him, but one he defeated in battle before. Thinking about it, Paul found this almost as aggravating as being lectured by Ash.

    Conway nodded, digging through his own bag for some reason. “On one condition, then.”

    Paul looked up with a confused look on his face. “And that is…?”

    “Strip ‘em.” Paul found Conway tossing him a fresh, clean, and dry shirt. It was obvious why Conway did this, but it didn’t stop Paul from glaring at him and going on the defensive.

    “I already knew you were a creep, but this is too much!” Paul shouted back, tossing the shirt to the bed.

    Conway was taken aback by that at first, but then he greatly struggled not to bust out laughing at Paul’s shame. “You’re drenched, remember? You need to hang your shirt out to dry before we reach Canalave City, and I can assure you it won’t be any less rainy there than it’s been in Jubilife. You’re pretty much doomed to catch a cold as it is, Paul. Let’s not have it turn into pneumonia before you can get Weavile to the Pokémon Center.”

    As if on cue, Paul sneezed, but his angry expressions wouldn’t fade. “You said it wouldn’t be long until we reached Canalave. What’s the point of hanging out my shirt to dry if we’ll be making landfall shortly anyway?”

    “Under normal circumstances, yes, you would be correct,” Conway agreed. “But thankfully you crossed paths with me, and your shirt will be as good as new before we ever reach Canalave City. Hm, come to think of it… change out of your pants, too,” he suggested, tossing Paul a pair of sweatpants which ultimately ended up in the same place as the shirt: the bed.

    “Not with you in this room,” Paul said, coldly and sternly. “Save my life a million times, and it still won’t make me think of you as any less of a creep. I’m only changing if you get out of here.”

    Conway shrugged and turned around. “I was about to say, we’re all guys here, but if you’re that sensitive, then consider your wish granted. Just let me know when you’re dressed and I’ll come in to dry your clothes. Come along, Slowking.”

    Slowking calmly conceded with its usual “Slooow,” and followed Conway outside to the hall. After Slowking shut the door behind the two of them, Paul glared at the dry clothing he was offered for a moment before sneezing once more. He sighed, remembering how cold he was, and on that merit decided to take up Conway’s offer.

    Waiting outside the door, Conway sighed, but it was somewhat of a contented one. “He’s certainly a tough nut to crack, isn’t he, Slowking?”

    “Slowking, slow,” it responded, calmly shaking its head as if to say “not at all”.

    “You don’t think so, huh?” Conway asked, finding this interesting. “Perhaps it might be worth our while to stick around him for the time being, then.” He adjusted his glasses, with the lenses flashing once again. “Might be fun, right?”

    “Slo-slo-slooo!” Slowking bellowed, most likely its way of laughing in agreement.

    The moments passed. Seconds turned into minutes. The minutes quickly accumulated to half an hour.

    Conway was calmly leaning against the wall with his mind elsewhere at the time; it was Slowking who realized Paul was taking way too long to change clothes. It edged closer to its trainer and poked his shoulder, whispering “Kingslow, king,” into his ear.

    “Ah-whuh…?!” Conway spat, who had immersed himself into a daydream while waiting for Paul. He looked around confusedly for a moment. “D-Dawn…? Where did you…?”

    His thoughts were cut off when he heard Slowking snickering at the sight. Hating to have his weakness exposed in such a manner, Conway frowned at hi s partner, but couldn’t hide his blushing. “Not funny, Slowking. What is it?”

    Slowking merely pointed to the door of Conway’s room they had been standing outside of for quite some time now.

    “O-oh!” Conway exclaimed, remembering where he was and what he was doing. “Why didn’t he call for us? He’s surely had enough time now…” His expressions turned grim, hoping Paul hadn’t gone crazy and escaped through the window or anything. “Time to check on him,” he concluded, and opened the door to his room to find Paul leisurely lying on Conway’s bed with the dry clothes on. He had already hung his wet clothes out to be dried and it seemed he had completed all this quite some time ago.

    Conway inwardly sighed a breath of relief, but couldn’t pretend not to be angry at Paul for this. “Forgot to call us back in, I see.”

    “I didn’t forget,” Paul said. “I needed some alone-time. You’re the one stupid enough to think I needed half an hour to change clothes. All the same, it relieves me to know you’re only a creepy pervert around the women.”

    “Harsh,” Conway replied. “Very harsh, Paul. I am a perfect gentleman with the ladies, I’ll have you know.”

    Paul scoffed at the claim. “It’s been how long since that Tag Battle tournament…? And here you are, still harping on about that girl that travels with Ash. Pathetic.”

    That took Conway off-guard. He didn’t expect Paul would have heard him through the walls. Apparently, he underestimated their thickness, or perhaps the door was not as secure as it looked… nonetheless, Conway was helpless to control the redness that spread over his face as he huffed in frustration and grabbed one of his Pokéballs. He gave a sharp glare to Slowking as it came in, who was again chuckling at Conway’s not-so-subtle dream girl.

    “Need I remind you I am helping you out of the goodness of my heart?” Conway said sternly. “Gutsy of you to make fun of me after not only saving your life, but sparing you from pneumonia.”

    Finding Conway’s weakness was too easy, Paul thought. All the same, he smiled at finally having something to combat Conway’s lecturing. “Yes, yes, I’m forever in your debt or whatever. Now how exactly are you planning to dry my clothes?”

    “This way,” Conway said simply as he pressed his Pokéball’s button and tossed it a short distance. “Castform, come on down!”

    The small, light Weather Pokémon appeared from its ball and sweetly greeted its guests with a bow. “Castform!”

    “A Castform?” Paul said out loud, somewhat in disbelief. “You’re going to dry my clothes with that thing?”

    Being called a thing in a derogatory tone, Castform looked down, as its cheeriness was quickly replaced by depression. “Cast…”

    “Take it easy, Paul,” Conway requested. “Castform’s a little sensitive. I just caught the poor creature not too long ago. It’s no veteran, but it’ll get the job done; trust me, and trust Castform. Do that, and you can leave this ship without looking like you just got out of bed.”

    “I’ll hold you to it, then,” Paul conceded, crossing his arms and not moving from his position on the bed. He then sneezed, much to his aggravation.

    Conway nodded, heading for the window. “You may want to get yourself taken care of when you reach the Pokémon Center. I’d hate for my efforts to go to waste simply because you’re too proud to admit you’re sick.”

    Paul cleared his throat, suddenly finding that harder to do now that he had indeed been ridden with a cold. “Don’t worry your little head about that. Dry my clothes, already.”

    “Hm, yeah…” Conway muttered as he opened the window and looked out briefly. “We’re getting close, so we’ll need to boost the heat a bit to dry your clothes out in time. Castform, go out there for a second and use Sunny Day.”

    “Castcast!” It cheered, floating itself out the window to do just that. Paul just gaped at the sight of the downpour disappearing (which confused the others on the ship) and the sun shining through the deep, dark clouds. As this happened, Castform shifted into Sunny Castform, now Fire-typed and complete with a translucent orange sun ornament to its head.

    “You could have done that all along?!” Paul shouted. “What is wrong with you?!”

    Conway gestured to Castform to come back inside now that the deed was done, and looked sharply to Paul before giving the next order. “As I said, Castform is a recent capture of mine. Its power and true potential is not yet realized, and as such, Sunny Day will not last for long. By the time we reach Canalave City, the sun will recede back into the clouds and the rain will resume. You should be aware that only a choice few Pokémon can make Sunny Day last for a long time, and only one can make it that way forever if it wanted to.”

    “It’s always technicalities with you,” Paul complained. “I already know this, yes, so drop it. I assume you made Castform use Sunny Day because it will make Castform’s fire attacks stronger and will dry my clothes more quickly.”

    “Excellent deduction,” Conway affirmed. “We’ll have your clothes dried in no time. Castform, go under Paul’s wet clothing and hold a continuous Ember underneath them for a while. Keep that up until his clothes are dried out.”

    “And don’t burn my clothes,” Paul added.

    Conway simply nodded. “Yes, yes. Make sure you don’t burn his clothes, Castform.”

    “Foooorm!” It shouted in a diminutive, somewhat-quiet voice as it did what its trainer commanded.

    “And there you have it,” said Conway. “With Sunny Day in play, Ember’s power is boosted by fifty percent, and now that Castform is a Fire-type, it has a same-type attack bonus which boosts Ember another fifty percent. In short, it’s twice as powerful as it normally is, and will dry your clothes in half the time as a result.”

    “You and your calculations…” Paul muttered. “At least they’re factoring into something useful this time.”

    “Math and science are truly underdogs in this world,” Conway said woefully. “That’s why I dedicate myself to living by them to prove that they are underutilized tactics.”

    To that statement, Paul raised an eyebrow. “What exactly are you, anyway? You battle, you have breeder-level knowledge of caring for Pokémon, and you’re full of useless Pokémon trivia. You don’t seem to commit to anything.”

    “Exactly,” Conway pointed out. “Think of me as a Pokémon Freelancer. I dabble in a bit of this, in a bit of that… in a bit of everything. All aspects of Pokémon interest me, and I was to experience every road one can take.”

    “A Freelancer,” Paul echoed. “That’s the nice way of saying you’re a Jack of all Trades, but a Master of none.”

    Conway narrowed his eyes at that remark. “Yes, I suppose that would be the pessimist’s definition. Still, I like to think of it as getting a taste of every little slice of life a trainer takes. I love to research how a Pokémon ticks, I enjoy the thrill of battle, I enjoy bonding and taking care of them… and after watching the Wallace Cup, shoot, I might even give Contests a try one day.”

    Paul shook his head and sighed. “What a waste of potential-… wait. You watched that?”

    “After I learned Dawn was a Coordinator, I’ve been watching every Contest on TV ever since,” Conway announced eagerly. “I would have loved to be in the audience at the Wallace Cup, because I do hold quite a bit of respect for Wallace himself, but I figured perhaps my presence would distract Dawn and dent her performance. And seeing her win…” Conway paused when he realized his Dawn fascination was taking over the conversation, and only giving Paul more ammunition to use against him in the future. He coughed, trying to divert attention way from that subject.

    “The point is, I look up to Wallace, because by definition, Wallace himself is what you just described me.”

    Paul blinked. “What, the Jack of all Trades?”

    “Essentially,” Paul replied. “He was once the Gym Leader of Sootopolis City in Hoenn. He later became Hoenn’s Champion of the Elite Four. And now he is a Contest Master… ah, obviously meaning he has won a Grand Festival at some point,” he clarified. “He is intuitive to boot. Wallace is the entire package and never needed to commit to just one route. If he can do it, it’s true that anyone with their heart and mind in the right place can achieve the fame and success Wallace has.”

    Conway’s mind went directly to fantasy, imagining himself in Wallace’s outfit and posing in the middle of a stadium with all of his glorious Pokémon surrounding him, as fans in the arena chanted his name. He envisioned Dawn pushing her way through the fans to reach him, and then…

    “You’re delusional,” Paul deducted. “Wallace was successful because he focuses on his work, unlike you. You’ll never be like him.”

    Conway’s fantasy dissipated as Paul said those scathing words. “Wh-what do you mean by that?”

    Paul shook his head. “You’re thinking about that girl again. It’s written all over your face. As long as you’re fixated on something so trivial, you’ll never be successful at anything, ever.”

    Indeed, Conway was blushing uncontrollably while he was fantasizing about his success and Dawn. If Paul could already tell, Conway saw no point in denying it. “There is such a thing as love beyond Pokémon, Paul. Everyone experiences it. Otherwise, the human race would have died out years ago,” he added in a jokingly tone. “Right?”

    “Do you ever see a woman attached to Wallace?” Paul asked, purely in a serious tone. “Undeniably, he has fangirls, but there could be no room for love in his life when he’s this successful. That’s exactly why Wallace is a diamond in the rough. People who strive to be like him are weakened by their hormones. There is no love. Only a desire to procreate.”

    Conway sighed. “That’s a really weak theory, Paul. We can all have more than one reason to succeed in our goals. Plenty of people have had success and found love and made a family. I’m surprised you would even say that, considering your father and his status.”

    Paul froze for a moment; Conway knew that Brandon was his father. His expressions quickly reverted to annoyance. “So you know who my father is. I suppose that’s not a surprise, considering what a snoop you are.”

    “No snooping was necessary to know that,” Conway retorted. “It’s common knowledge in the Sinnoh region. Pyramid King Brandon is notorious for being the toughest Frontier Brain in all of Kanto. Someone who hailed from our region who reaches that prestige is practically a celebrity, so of course we know of him and his two sons.” He grinned, loving it when his limitless abundance of knowledge aided him like this. “It also helps that you look just like him.”

    It pained Paul in many ways to talk about his father, especially to people like Conway. However, even though his own knowledge of his family history was foggy, Paul felt he needed to make a point to prove his opinion was the truth, and not Conway’s.

    “Love had nothing to do with the old man’s success,” Paul stated; sharp in tone. “He never achieved any kind of status until after my mother died. After that, he wrote me off, he wrote my older brother off, and through that, he has become the nigh-unbeatable Frontier Brain he is today. By throwing out the idea of love and family, the old man is more powerful than ever.”

    “He isn’t invincible,” Conway pointed out. “I would never sell him short, but the Pyramid King can and has been beaten by a select few. Your theory proves nothing. If he’s written you off, how would you even know what he has on his mind, Paul? Perhaps, in some strange way, he still loves his sons dearly, but shows it differently from the others. My hypothesis is that your father became hardened with the loss of his wife and had doubts about being able to take care of you, so instead of wasting his time in struggling with something he is weak at, he focuses on his natural strengths to pull himself through his depression and hoped to inspire you and your brother to pull through it as well. Even if your mother’s gone, she remains in your hearts.”

    Paul was quickly becoming enraged the more Conway speculated about his complicated family life. Conway was simply a Sinnoh resident who was raised on rumors. Paul wasn’t about to take Conway’s words sitting down.

    “She isn’t in my heart,” Paul claimed. “I was too young to really know her when she passed away. I have no idea what she was like. All I know is that she was a breeder. I never harp on endlessly about her or the old man. You’re confusing me with Reggie.”

    “Oh, you never really know,” Conway said mysteriously. “You don’t know her well enough to remember what she was like… but she can subconsciously put herself in your heart. Perhaps Reggie had a role in that as well. Since he’s the elder brother, then he would obviously remember her…”

    “And follow in her footsteps…” Paul noted, but paused. He was feeling very uncomfortable with this conversation all along, but he had about reached his breaking point by now. “Okay, look, we’re getting nowhere on this. Talk about Castform not drying my clothes fast enough, why don’t you?”

    Conway looked over to where Castform was tending to the clothes. “That won’t be necessary, Paul,” he said with a smile. Conway reached over and felt them to determine how dry they actually were. He nodded approvingly at his Pokémon. “It seems we’re nearly done in that department. Now you can comfortably walk to the Pokémon Center and get Weavile taken care of. Good job, Castform.”

    “Fooooorm! Cast, cast!” cheered the tiny Weather Pokémon, ceasing its Ember and floating over to its trainer. Conway patted Castform on the head approvingly, and then dug a pink Poffin out of his bag.

    “You earned a treat, little guy,” Conway said sweetly to his Pokémon. Castform happily accepted the meal and murmured noises of contentment as it ate the sweet bread.

    “Good grief…” Paul muttered. “You really are going to try for a Contest eventually.”

    Conway grinned at Paul. “Oops, caught me red-handed. Yes, I think Castform will make for an exciting show. With its numerous abilities with the elements, I can learn about appreciating the true beauty of Pokémon live on the stage. I imagine it’s quite different from seeing it on TV or from the crowd stands.”

    Paul crossed his arms again, frowning disapprovingly. “You’re just hoping to meet that girl again. Don’t try to hide it. Really, for meeting her just once…”

    “Twice,” Conway corrected. “I ran into Dawn and the others at the Summer School event just recently. We were on opposing teams, but that did not stop myself and Dawn from indulging in our enjoyment of being reunited… I even impressed her when I wiped the floor with Jesselinda that one time…”

    “Summer School…?” Paul quietly wondered to himself, before shrugging Conway off. “Fine, so you met her twice. That’s still a stretch. And please, spare me the details. I honestly don’t care what happened in a Summer School.”

    “Love and friendship: that’s the key,” Conway said. “The key to success with your Pokémon, your aspirations, and your life. Unless I’m mistaken, Wallace himself believes in this philosophy. I would be overjoyed to see Dawn once more, but I honestly would be interested in taking part in a Contest soon, even if she isn’t there.” He patted Castform on the head once more before bringing out its Pokéball. “That must’ve worn you out. Have a nice, long rest.” And with that, Castform returned to its ball.

    Paul shook his head and sighed. “I feel even less at ease than I did before, thanks to you.”

    Conway just shrugged and smirked. “Just remember that I saved your life and prevented your imminent pneumonia. Your clothes are dry now, so go ahead and change back into them.”

    “Again,” Paul said drolly. “Get out of here and I will.”

    Conway leaned away and chuckled. “Same old, same old with the Pyramid King’s son…”

    Suddenly, a voice boomed from an intercom linked to all areas of the ship. “Attention, passengers. We are now arriving at Canalave City’s port. All passengers must gather their belongings and leave their quarters and prepare to disembark. Passengers will depart from the ship in approximately five minutes. Please remember to bring your umbrellas, as the conditions have worsened and the heavy rain has resumed. That is all. Thank you for choosing Canalife Cruising.”

    “So we’re here,” Conway noted. “You have an umbrella?”

    Paul gathered his clothing and grumbled at Conway’s question. Truthfully, he didn’t have one, but didn’t want to admit this out loud… unfortunately for him, Conway was an expert in reading expressions.

    “I see,” Conway said, taking Paul’s silence as a “no”. “Well, it’s your lucky day. I have one. I’ll accompany you to the Pokémon Center. You’d better hurry up and get dressed, now. Come along, Slowking.”

    Conway gathered his belongings and exited the room, with Slowking following him.

    Paul let out a heavy sigh after Conway left, and proceeded to change back into his original outfit. “At this rate, I’m never going to get rid of that freak…”

    A few minutes later, Paul was fully dressed and prepared to leave. With the replacement clothes in his other hand, he exited the room and headed towards the boarding area. Much as he loathed admitting it, it felt nice to have warm, dry clothes on again after spending almost the entire morning soaking wet and cold. He was tired of that, and much as Paul wanted to get rid of Conway… the fact that he had an umbrella while Paul himself did not made him desperate to stay warm and dry again. Even though his clothes were restored, Paul still found himself sneezing at random intervals. The clothes gradually felt warmer and warmer as he continued to walk his way out of the ship.

    He was feeling feverish.

    Eventually, Paul found the line on the way out of the ship and Conway was right there waiting for him, but Slowking was absent.

    “Oh good, you made it,” Conway said with a grin. “The Pokémon Center is just a short walk from the port. I assume we both know the way. I’ll keep the both of us dry.” Having said that, Conway thrust out his umbrella (not set up yet, obviously) for Paul to see.

    “Lovely,” Paul said, flatly. He offered Conway the clothes he loaned him. “Here’s your stuff back.”

    “Well, thank you,” Conway said, in an exaggerated flattered and grateful tone. “It’s nice to know my backup clothes came in handy.” He accepted them from Paul and stuffed them in his own bag.

    Paul looked around, slightly confused. “Uh… where is Slowking?”

    Conway sighed. “With a line like this, Slowking’s size tends to disturb groups of people in small, closed spaces like this, so I had to return him to his Pokéball. “He’ll be alright, though.”

    Paul just murmured an “Mmhm” and looked around the ship as he quickly became bored from the slow-moving line. Finally, Paul and Conway were disembarking. Conway opened up his umbrella, which was conveniently large enough to cover both him and Paul sufficiently.

    “Just stay close,” Conway advised. “You’re at ease now because you know for sure I greatly prefer the women, correct?”

    Don’t talk like we’re friends,” Paul insisted. He intended to sound as harsh as he possibly could. “Let’s just get to the Pokémon Center so we can get this over with. I’ve got business here. Urgent business.”

    “The Canalave City Gym, right?” Conway assumed. “Gonna fight Byron?”

    Paul looked at Conway strangely. His accurate assumptions were getting disturbing now. “So you know I’m collecting badges here…”

    Conway merely shrugged as the pair walked through Canalave City. “Just an educated guess. You’re clearly an adversary of Ash Ketchum, and I know for a fact he’s collecting badges. That’s leaving out the fact that most trainers that do come here do so to fight for the Mine Badge. For the average trainer, Canalave’s a rather dull city to hang around in.”

    That brought up a detail in the back of Paul’s mind that just then came to the fore. “So why exactly are you traveling here?” he asked.

    “For the library, of course,” Conway said happily. “I often go to Canalave whenever I hear the Library’s acquired some interesting new books. That’s the main reason why I’m here now. They’ve always got some great, informative books about the legendary Pokémon in this region, as well as others.”

    Paul slumped his head down slightly. “Of course. That should have been obvious…”

    “I’d love to watch your Gym Battle, though,” Conway mentioned. He sounded rather honest.

    “Uh…” Hearing that made Paul uncomfortable again. “Why?”

    “I want to see what it’s like,” Conway explained. “You know, in case I want to do one myself someday.”

    The Freelancer talk again. It was giving Paul a headache… or was it that nagging fever of his?

    “I don’t suppose there’s a way I can force you to not go,” Paul grumbled. “Free will and all that. Do whatever you want, but back off, alright? I don’t need a sidekick. This is my journey. You need to find your own path and stick with it, because I can guarantee you’ll never be the second coming of Wallace.”

    Conway scoffed at the idea of being considered a sidekick. “I agree, sidekick definitely isn’t me. How about co-star, then? We’ll split it evenly, fifty-fifty. Sound good?”

    In your dreams,” Paul stated stiffly and loudly. “Now where in the world is that Pokémon Center?”

    Conway pointed straight ahead of them. “We’re here now. Go inside and get Weavile healed up. I should probably give poor Castform a boost after what it did to dry your clothes…”

    Paul glared at Conway. “You always find the perfect excuse to stick to me like glue now. What is with you?!”

    “I have my reasons, Paul,” Conway simply replied. “I have my reasons. Shall we go in, now?”

    Paul had nothing to say to that. They both entered the Pokémon Center. It was a messy and annoying ordeal for Paul, but it wasn’t a total loss, as he managed to get to his desired location right on time, just as he originally wanted.

    After giving Weavile’s Pokéball to Nurse Joy, Paul went to look out at the window. For just a brief moment, he wondered if Reggie would actually fulfill his end of the bargain on this challenge the two of them were issued by their father.

    He wondered if Reggie really, truly abandoned his breeding center to train for the inevitable fight ahead. Paul at least had sufficient time to prepare for his battle with Brandon. Reggie, on the other hand… he had no way of knowing. He would have to fight as soon as Brandon captured Regigigas. The lack of communication between father and sons prevented Reggie from even having an idea of when his time would come.

    If he lost, Paul swore to write Reggie off forever. In hindsight, this was a very unfair disadvantage for Reggie. Paul knew that. A small part of him felt guilty for only adding on to the pressure Reggie was undeniably suffering from… but the rest of Paul disregarded that brotherly sentiment in favor of success and progress… and most importantly, defeating his emotionally-stunted father.

    Paul wasn’t exactly sure what he would gain after getting a Brave Symbol… if anything would truly be resolved should he earn one. But for Paul… that day would not come to him for a long time. Reggie was the one on borrowed time.

    And it was true. Reggie had to make the most of the limited time he had. Reggie was no fool; he knew his father was an expert in the art of finding rare or legendary Pokémon. It would only be a matter of time before Regigigas would be captured. Maylene’s pep talk lifted all of his guilt for abandoning his breeding center for an indeterminate period of time.

    Now, there was no turning back. Reggie stood solidly in a broad, grassy field. The rain was pouring there as well, but not as heavily as it was in Jubilife and Canalave City. Mt. Coronet stood mightily nearby Reggie’s training area.

    All of his Pokémon were out and ready for the intense training they never truly had. Staraptor and Marowak stood strong and sturdy as they awaited orders from their trainer. Ampharos seemed a mite bit confused about the ordeal, and Swalot stared blankly at its trainer, wondering what was going on in his mind. Bibarel seemed to be the only one not paying attention, preferring to look up at the rain instead, gaping.

    Infernape was right next to Reggie. It seemed somewhat wary of Reggie’s hardened expressions.

    After a long period of silence, Reggie spoke. “What you’re all about to go through may be the hardest training you’ve ever endured. I know it’s been… several years since I’ve been a trainer. But father issued a challenge to me that I cannot refuse. It’s all on his terms, so I have no idea when he will be calling for me. We must make the most of the precious little time we have before father captures Regigigas. I’m very sorry that I have to do this to you all… but it’s the only way we’ll be strong enough to face father. Please… please forgive me, everyone.”

    He hadn’t even done anything yet, and Reggie was already apologizing to his Pokémon. They looked to him, confused, mumbling a bit. Reggie knew that in a time constraint, his usual methods of training would be inefficient. If he failed this time, he may never again get another chance of achieving the closure he desired for so long… as well as the respect of his father. The acknowledgement… Reggie hungered for it for several years since his mother died.

    It pained him so greatly to do things this way. In his heart, he felt it wasn’t right to go about it this way. But in order to make progress, Reggie had to leave his doubts behind him and focus solely on the future… and solely on gaining more power.

    He was going to have to take a page out of Paul’s book this time.

    Reggie had his eyes closed all the while this processed through his mind, after asking for forgiveness. The rain had already drenched him and his Pokémon, and the wind was picking up. Inwardly, the true Reggie screamed to turn back, but was silenced by the raw desire for a prize he sought for several years ago. And this wasn’t materialistic… this was for the sake of his family. He only hoped his success would make up for what he would do today.

    Finally, Reggie opened his eyes and faced his Pokémon. All of them looked effectively startled as they noticed Reggie’s gentle, loving eyes turn into hardened, borderline-soulless ones. One could see a much clearer resemblance to his younger brother, as well as his father at this moment. He forced his transformation upon himself, and his Pokémon were at a loss as to what to do about it.

    They were his long-time companions… all they could do was simply trust him.

    “Ampharos,” Reggie stated in a sharp, emotionless tone. “You, Bibarel, and Marowak will have a free-for-all battle. Show no mercy to each other, even if you injure one another. Keep going until you can no longer move.” He looked to Staraptor and Swalot. “I want you two to do the same. Don’t hold back and regard each other as mortal enemies. Put all of your strength into your moves.”

    He finally looked to Infernape, his Starter Pokémon… the one that had been with him longer than any of the others.

    “Infernape,” he said, still lacking emotion, yet spoke more quietly. “You will fight me. You will do so like the others. Hold back, and I’ll personally make sure you regret it. Our methods of practice in the past never included direct combat. I believe this is what we’re lacking; the missing link. Don’t worry yourself with hurting me, Infernape… because I won’t shed a tear when I defeat you.”

    Infernape was paralyzed with such scathing words, but it wasn’t standing there for long, as Reggie immediately dove in to punch Infernape across the face. Infernape was sent reeling back a few feet. A mark was already on its face.

    “You’re part Fighting-type, aren’t you?!” Reggie shouted out. “Fight me, then!!”

    That strike across the face hurt. Infernape still wasn’t certain what was going on, but it knew this was not the Reggie who loved and cared for it throughout their adventures in Sinnoh, Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn. All of those years… and it amounted to this: his pacifistic trainer was now as stiff and angry as the rest of his family. Infernape knew this had to be some sort of rouse, but it had no more time to ponder that, as Reggie rushed over and kneed Infernape hard in the stomach area. Infernape cried out and was sent reeling even further than last time.

    It whimpered slightly, covering its injured stomach in a fetal position. Reggie was allowing no time for it to recover; he was running at his Starter Pokémon again for another attack. Infernape briefly looked to the others, who had already started engaging in grudge matches as Reggie ordered. Perhaps not as vicious as Reggie intended, but they were still following his orders. Infernape hated the thought of hurting its own trainer, who loved and nurtured it the day Professor Rowan gave it to him.

    The hatred in Reggie’s eyes didn’t seem genuine. They seemed forced. Infernape could have sworn it saw tears spilling from Reggie’s ruthless, vigilant eyes, but had no time to confirm it, as Reggie rushed his Starter again and kicked it against a boulder.

    All of this, coming from Reggie… Infernape was still in disbelief. The other Pokémon paused to see this uncharacteristic carnage, but Reggie noticed the others before he began another attack on Infernape.

    “Don’t just stand there!!” Reggie screamed at the top of his lungs. “FIGHT!! Fight like your lives depend on it!!”

    Just then, a flash of lightning and a loud rumble of thunder followed somewhere nearby in the sky. The Pokémon were about to resume their brawl until that startled them.

    Reggie had previously promised not to train under serious conditions… but Reggie was no longer Reggie anymore. He glared viciously at his team. “What did I just tell you?! KEEP FIGHTING!!”

    The five Pokémon were startled well enough to resume what they were doing before. Infernape managed to get back to its feet, looking at Reggie like it didn’t even know him anymore.

    “You!” Reggie shouted, specifically at Infernape. “Stop disobeying orders… or I’ll… I’ll…!”

    He struggled inwardly not to say it, because he honestly did not want to mean it. Something inside of Reggie snapped… he had taken on a persona that was a mix of his father’s and Paul’s. He could no longer think straightly on anything but fighting and gaining power.

    “I’ll… release you!!

    Infernape gasped. The other five Pokémon heard it and cried out in unison.

    NO.

    The thunderous, booming “no” that normally came from Brandon just came out of his son’s mouth with the same level of intensity and volume.

    “I’ll… I’ll release all of you!! I swear I’ll do it if you don’t get back to work! Draw blood if you have to! Anything to get stronger!” He loomed over Infernape, with a frightening look on his face.

    “Understand?!” He grunted, in a considerably quieter voice to refer specifically to Infernape. After another strike of lightning, Reggie prepared for another devastating punch to his Starter Pokémon. But this time… Infernape finally understood. It dodged Reggie’s attack, bounced on his head to reach the other side, and flared up its natural flames to prepare itself for battle.

    Reggie turned around and smirked. His fist went straight into the boulder once Infernape dodged his attack, and as a result… Reggie’s hand was dripping with blood and likely fractured in a few areas.

    “That’s more like it,” Reggie said with approval, ignoring the nigh-unbearable pain coming from his hand. “Now, come at me with all you’ve got, Infernape! Hit me with Close Combat, if you’ve got the guts.”

    The wicked grin on Reggie’s face seemed so unnatural. But there was no longer time to deliberate on the matter. With all the strength Infernape had, charged Reggie into a fury of powerful punching attacks, now backing him against the boulder.

    After Infernape worn itself down from the attack, Reggie merely grinned, lying helplessly against the boulder. He wiped the blood coming from his mouth.

    This was wrong. All of Reggie’s Pokémon knew this was wrong. Reggie himself… deep down somewhere inside, knew this was wrong too. But another side of him… a side that had never been seen before, relished in the power and the violence.

    The lust was overpowering Reggie’s morality and logic. He stood up, approving of Infernape’s attack even thought it clearly felt guilty for what it did.

    “There’s no turning back,” Reggie reminded between his heaving. Infernape could not look to its partner in the face, but nodded nonetheless.

    “Again. Let’s go again,” Reggie ordered. “Last man… or Pokémon… standing.”

    The lightning struck again.

    A long, brutal night was ahead for all parties involved.

    Paul, safe and sound, and relatively calm in the Pokémon Center in Canalave City, could never possibly imagine what was happening with his gentle, peaceful older brother hundreds of miles away from him that very moment.


    ( TBC )

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  6. #6
    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    (Aaaaaand here's Chapter 4 as I continue to stir up some madness! Dude, why am I updating this so quickly? It's kind of scary, honestly.)

    While rain plagued many parts of the Sinnoh region, Kanto was experiencing much nicer weather. Sunny weather is what Brandon preferred, as it was the best weather condition for exploration and excavating as he continued his quest to learn about and obtain rare Pokémon.

    However nice the weather was, Brandon was no less displeased today. It had taken him months now, trying to find Regigigas. He had visited many cities in Kanto while battling trainers (with only victories on Brandon’s end) for his coveted Brave Symbol. Samuel, Brandon’s assistant, knew by now how fierce Brandon could be in battle, especially if he was doing so while he was on the hunt for something important. He’d yet to see a trainer defeat him when Brandon wasn’t satisfied in his own affairs. Even in the case of Ash Ketchum, the one who defeated Brandon and declined the offer to be a Frontier Brain, he only won against Brandon after he finally finished discovering the final member of the Regi trio: Regice.

    Samuel wondered if the legends were indeed true if it was taking Brandon this long to find Regigigas. After all, if it was related to the other Regis he captured, Samuel assumed it would be relatively easy to figure out its location, at least. That turned out not to be the case… as there was no sign of Regigigas anywhere in the Kanto region. Most residents didn’t even seem to know what such a Pokémon was to begin with.

    The flying Battle Pyramid was quickly coming up upon its next destination. Brandon stood distantly from his assistant, looking down at the region below him with full intent of extracting information out of someone soon. He was quickly growing impatient… for various reasons outside of simply wanting Regigigas to finally complete the Regi collection. Brandon was aware of his own ulterior motives, but pushed them to the back of his mind in order to focus on the mission. He was certain by now that his letter had reached his sons, and they were hopefully doing as he instructed. Not that the Pyramid King was going to make sure of that… he only assumed, because he knew his actions in the past would inspire his sons to work harder in order to defeat him one day.

    Even in the middle of his work, he often thought of Reggie and Paul… but the thoughts were suddenly cut off.

    “Brandon, sir… we’ve reached Cerulean City,” Samuel informed. “Where exactly should we land?”

    “Don’t spend too much time deliberating on such a detail,” Brandon sharply ordered. “A clearance in the forest just outside the city will do fine. We will make this inquiry a quick one.”

    Samuel looked nervous, as it was never a good sign when Brandon was already uppity and impatient so early on in the day. “Y-yes, of course… do you really think we’ll find information on Regigigas here, though?”

    Brandon continued to look forlornly at the scenery below him. “We must leave no stone unturned. At this rate, Regigigas might not even be in this region… and if that is the case, then there will be a problem. We will deal with that problem if and when it comes to us. Until then, do not question me. Sometimes the most important clues are right under your nose… only rarely does the searcher realize that in time.”

    “You’re right…” Samuel said with a sigh. “We should be making landfall within a couple of minutes, then. Out of curiosity… where do you intend to go first?”

    “Where I always go in major cities of Kanto,” Brandon responded, as if his assistant should have already caught on by now. “The Gym.”

    After landing, that’s exactly where Brandon headed: the Cerulean Gym.

    “Cerulean City,” Brandon muttered as he walked across the town. “They say a mysterious, blue aura surrounds it… yet I see nothing. Pointless flowery language…” He soon came upon a brightly-colored dome-shaped building complete with a depiction of a Dewgong. It almost resembled a circus tent or a carousel by shape and color, but Brandon was overcome with pessimism when he noticed the building was in fact the Cerulean Gym. “This really does feel like a waste of time,” Brandon admitted to himself. “But I cannot underestimate any potential source. This is a direly important matter.”

    The Pyramid King took a deep breath before entering the gym to find a giant pool before him. Decorations of Starmie and Poliwag were on the wall and there were crowd stands on each side of the pool, making the Gym seem to double as a stage for water shows. The atmosphere made Brandon flinch, but snapped out of it when he realized no one seemed to be present.

    With a loud, booming voice, he decided to draw attention to himself… though he honestly thought it was highly irresponsible of a Gym Leader to not be at his or her post. “I am here to challenge the Gym Leader of Cerulean City! Show yourself now!!”

    His voice echoed throughout the building. The design was convenient, as it allowed anyone not in the immediate area to hear him. Quickly, a young woman with blonde hair decorated with a single flower came walking briskly to the direction of the voice.

    “Oh, hi there!” she greeted. “So, you like need something, mister?”

    “Get over here immediately!” Brandon hollered. “I have no interest in carrying on a conversation across the Gym! Hurry up!” He honestly hoped this was not actually the Gym Leader…

    “Okay, okay! Geez, take a pill…” she muttered as she hurried over to greet Brandon. “Here I am!” she announced cheerfully. “Can I like, do something for you, mister?”

    NO.

    Brandon’s… ‘catchphrase’, so to speak, had quite an enhanced effect within the Gym. The loudness of his voice bounced across every angle of the dome and made the poor young lady’s ears ring. She covered them, looking highly disturbed until the ringing stopped.

    “Okay… I’m so confused right now,” she admitted. “You came over here but you really don’t need anything, mister? Why’d you rush me, then?!”

    “First of all, do not address me as ‘mister’!” Brandon commanded. “I am Brandon. That is all you need to know. Please tell me you are not the Gym Leader of this place.”

    “Well gee, I’m standing right here,” she grumbled. “A little tact never killed a guy. Anyway, I used to be the Gym Leader, but now I just kinda look after the place from time to time, you know? My sisters and I are totally famous and popular, so we-”

    Brandon glared. “Get to the point. Who are you?”

    “The Gym Leader’s big sis, no duh!” she announced in a bubbly tone. “Daisy! If you want the Gym Leader, you’ll wanna talk to Misty. You want me to go get her or something?”

    “Yes,” Brandon gruffly affirmed. “Immediately if she is available.” He inwardly prayed Misty was not like this…

    “No prob, brah-”

    Brandon.

    “… Brandon. Right. Whatever,” Daisy murmured. She then looked away and called for her sister. “Hey, Misty!! This Brandon guy wants to like, challenge you or some junk! You’d better get over here fast, ‘cause he’s a total ticking time bomb!”

    The much older man found that incredibly rude. “What was it you were saying about tact, woman?”

    “Daisy!” she adamantly amended. “I totally already told you my name!”

    “Names are bothersome to remember,” Brandon said. “Only those who defeat me earn my respect and my will to remember their names.”

    “Shut up, no way!” Daisy cried, aghast. “You’re a Gym Leader?! Like who knew?!”

    “A Frontier Brain,” Brandon corrected. “Those who earn my Brave Symbol earn the right to be acknowledged by me by your given name.”

    Daisy looked intrigued. “No kidding, huh? Alright, then, how much for one of those thingies?”

    You earn them in battle,” Brandon emphasized. He almost wished he never came into this Gym if this was what he had to deal with. “Don’t waste your time and fetch me your sister.”

    “I’m here!” another voice cried out. Skidding to a halt was a younger, redheaded girl with a side ponytail. She looked up to see her visitor and was immediately a bit intimidated. “Sorry for the wait, sir. There was some outside business I had to tend to, and-”

    NO. How many times must I say this? Bran. Don,” he enunciated, now completely irritated. “Not sir, not mister. Never anything like that. Now… I take it you are the Cerulean Gym Leader.”

    “Y-yes, s-… Brandon,” Misty confirmed, looking nervous that she almost slipped up again. “Hey, can you kind of… keep it down? Your loudness is disturbing our Gym’s Pokémon.”

    Almost on cue, Misty’s Psyduck came running out into the main room, flailing and holding its head in either pain or frustration. Misty’s good friend Tracey Sketchit was also over visiting and much more slowly walking his way towards the group, but was also disturbed by the loudness of Brandon’s voice and soon felt the full brunt of its repercussions as Psyduck crashed into Tracey and knocked him into the pool. The Duck Pokémon was quick to follow. The others looked awkwardly at the accident before Misty rushed over to the incident.

    Daisy just sighed and shook her head. “Like, bummer. We just got those floors wiped clean…”

    “Tracey!! Psyduck!” Misty cried out as she helped them both out of the pool. There was little she could do about Psyduck continuing to freak out, but Tracey was considerably calmer.

    “N-no worries, I’m fine… that was just quite a shock,” Tracey admitted. He looked over to the newcomer. “So this is our disruptor, huh?”

    “His name is Brandon,” Misty told him. “Don’t worry; I’ll take care of this.” Suddenly taking a mature approach, she walked over to Brandon again and made direct eye contact with him. “As I was saying, Brandon, yes. I am Misty, Gym Leader of Cerulean City. Are you here to challenge me for a Cascade Badge?”

    Brandon stiffly shook his head. “I am here for no such thing. I am a Frontier Brain; the Pyramid King, specifically. I have defeated your Gym and earned your badge well before any of you were even born.”

    This seemed to shock the others; they at least knew meeting a Frontier Brain was a big deal.

    “Good point, I guess,” Tracey figured. “He looks a lot older than us…”

    Misty nodded. “You certainly look like a strong trainer. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Brandon…” She looked to the side and murmured an uncertain “I guess…” before facing him again. “So you’re not here for a Gym Battle. How can I help you today?”

    Brandon was thankful that the Gym Leader, while young, was considerably more mature than her older sister. It almost felt like déjà vu in a way… “I have been travelling across the Kanto region in search of information regarding a specific legendary Pokémon. I wish to know if any of you know of what I am looking for, or at least a hint as to where to find it.”

    “Well, uh…” Misty was uncertain again. “I’ve done my fair share of traveling, Brandon, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to answer your question. Do you know the name of the Pokémon?”

    “According to what few records I’ve acquired, the name is Regigigas,” Brandon said. “It is the leader of the trio that go by similar names, all of which I have captured already: Regirock, Registeel, and Regice.”

    “No Regiwater, huh?” Daisy wondered out of the blue. “Bummer…”

    Brandon wanted this girl gone already, but heeded the Gym Leader’s words to not be too loud. He saw how unstable that Psyduck looked. “If you don’t know anything, just say so. Don’t waste my time with nonsense.”

    Misty sighed and shrugged. “I can’t help you there, then. This is the first time I’ve even heard of such a Pokémon. What about you, Tracey?”

    “Hm…” Tracey looked up and pondered for a moment. “I do remember reading about the Regis somewhere, but I forget exactly what source it came from…”

    Brandon seemed intrigued. “And who exactly are you, boy?”

    “O-oh, I forgot to introduce myself!” Tracey realized, flailing. Misty chuckled and calmed him down.

    “It’s fine,” she said. “You’re the one who got knocked into the pool, remember? Ah, Daisy, maybe you’d better get a dry outfit for him…”

    Daisy snapped her fingers. “Leave it to me, sis! Clothes are definitely where I shine!” With that, she ran out of the main room, allowing Brandon to sigh a breath of relief.

    “Ah, thanks, you two,” Tracey said, looking mildly embarrassed. Then he looked to Brandon. “I’m Tracey Sketchit. I’m a longtime friend of Misty’s and currently an assistant of Professor Oak at Pallet Town. We do a lot of researching, so we’ve been studying about various legendaries for a while now.”

    “You don’t say,” Brandon mused, now intrigued that he had inadvertently stumbled upon a colleague of a Pokémon Professor. “Professor Oak… if anyone in Kanto could give me details on Regigigas, surely it would be him. He’s a student of Rowan’s, after all.”

    Tracey nodded. “I think he could definitely give you a lead. I’ve even read up a bit on the Regi trio before, but I had no idea there was a fourth. And it’s the leader, you say?”

    “That is what has been said,” Brandon affirmed. He was officially relieved that for once, a visit to the city was not a complete waste of his time. He was finally on a path rather than desperately digging up whatever clue he could find. “Would the Professor mind terribly if I were to stop by and discuss this matter with him?”

    “I don’t see why not,” Tracey responded. “He loves having visitors over. Right, Misty?”

    Misty smiled at him. “He certainly does! I’d like to visit him, myself. It’s been way too long.”

    It was Brandon’s turn to smile. “How soon could you bring me to him, boy? I am eager to speak with him as soon as possible.”

    “Ah-ah, I’m Tracey, remember?” Tracey pointed out, apparently missing Brandon’s policy earlier on. “Tracey Sketchit, okay?”

    Brandon held out a Brave Symbol before him. “Battle me, win, and I’ll give you the distinct honor of calling you by your name. Are you gutsy enough to waste my time on such a matter when I have urgent business calling?”

    That sufficiently snuffed out Tracey’s bravado. “O-on second thought, there’s always more derogatory terms out there than ‘boy’! Guess I should be thankful, r-right…?”

    “Indeed,” Brandon agreed. “Now, how soon can you take me to the Professor?”

    “Just as soon as I get some dry clothes on, probably!” Tracey nervously uttered. “Geez, I hope Daisy didn’t forget where I put my things again…”

    Misty rolled her eyes. Brandon scowled once again. Even when she wasn’t present, Daisy was aggravating him. For once, he was glad he never had any daughters.

    Not that Brandon’s sons never gave him grief. Thousands of miles away in Canalave City, Paul continued to stare out the window thoughtfully as the rain continued to pour heavily.

    “Paul…?”

    His mind was still on Reggie. He still wondered where he was right now, and what he was doing. If he was still at home, taking care of all those Pokémon… or if he was in some unknown location, training with the team he originally assembled for epic battles over the years. It annoyed Paul to suddenly start thinking about him, as he often didn’t… but he knew this was a unique situation. He simply couldn’t help but wonder about his older brother, who would soon have to face their father and surely lose again. Paul wasn’t sure if he was ready to do what he threatened to do to Reggie should he lose the battle.

    “Paul…?”

    Reggie was out of practice; Paul knew that much. He was so out of practice that it would take quite a bit of time for him to adapt to a trainer’s mindset alone. To get himself strong enough to be on his father’s level… it seemed virtually impossible, now that Paul thought about it. Even Reggie knew the odds were against him, yet he allowed Paul to threaten him the way he did… and Paul wasn’t quite sure why. Reggie was the only one in the family still trying to make vain attempts to keep said family together. His loss would result in Paul making Reggie’s dreams of having a full family again impossible… but then again, Paul remembered that it was already impossible. There was no way to bring his mother back from the dead. Paul was too young to remember her to still mourn her today, so it didn’t bother him nearly as much as it did Reggie. No matter how Paul looked at it, Reggie had unfair advantages… everywhere.

    “Excuse me, Paul…?”

    Paul snapped back to reality as he felt someone tapping his shoulder. He whirled around to find Nurse Joy standing right behind him with a Pokéball in her hand.

    “Oh…! Uh…” Paul immediately felt awkward. He looked away from the kindly nurse. “Sorry.”

    “It’s quite alright,” Nurse Joy assured, offering him the Pokéball. “I just wanted to let you know that your Weavile is fully restored.”

    “Ah, yes…” Paul should have figured as much. He accepted the Pokéball and nodded to Nurse Joy. “Thank you.”

    Nurse Joy bowed to him. “It was my pleasure. You’re welcome to rest here as long as you need to, Paul. You don’t look very well…”

    “That’s all in your head,” Paul said, brushing her off. He went to gather his things before leaving the Center. Conway, meanwhile, was watching TV. “I’m far too busy to rest at the moment.”

    “Don’t be stealing my umbrella, now…” Conway said almost threateningly, smiling as he said so. Paul could not see his expressions due to Conway being faced the other way. “I know where you live.”

    “A lot of good that’ll do you,” Paul grumbled as he walked over to where Conway was. “You said you wanted to see my Gym Battle, right? Well, I’m going on without you since you’re obviously not intent on leaving anytime soon.”

    Conway raised a finger and waggled it. “Not so hasty, my friend-”

    I am not your friend!!

    “Touchy,” Conway remarked with a smirk. “Anyway, you can spare a few minutes to watch the weather report. It’ll be useful to know about the conditions ahead of time so you won’t end up with another incident like earlier. By the way, you still have a cold. You’re going to fight Byron while you’re sick?”

    The focus on Paul’s apparent illness was aggravating him to no end. “I’m not sick, either! All things considered, I feel completely fine!”

    “Your face is all flushed,” Conway pointed out. “Very feverish. You’ve been sneezing all day. Shall I go on?”

    “No, you shall not,” Paul said with great emphasis on the latter part of his sentence. “I’ll watch the stupid weather report if you insist, since I’ll be aiming for Snowpoint City after this.”

    Conway nodded. “That’s the harshest area of Sinnoh climate-wise. It’s very important to keep up-to-date on the weather of that area. Then there are preparations to consider, but we’ll wait until you get your Mine Badge before going into detail on that.”

    Paul looked horrified. “You are not following me to Snowpoint City.”

    “Free will says I can and shall do so,” Conway claimed. “That’s what you just said to me earlier today, remember?”

    Paul grumbled, now wishing he hadn’t said it. “Whatever. We’ll deal with that obstacle as it comes. Oh, and before we leave, I need to give Weavile a little… ‘pep talk’ before the Gym Battle.”

    “Is that so?” Conway asked, amused. “Didn’t you say you were going to release it?”

    “I brought Weavile with me for a reason,” Paul explained. “I’m testing its endurance in a Gym where it has a type disadvantage. Its performance there will tell me whether or not it deserves to stay with me.”

    Conway shook his head. “That’s hardly fair. You know Weaviles by nature are typically glass cannons. They come in quickly, they attack quickly, but they also fall just as quickly… especially to a Pokémon that gives it a distinct disadvantage.”

    Paul cross his arms and looked away. “You may see it as unfair, but Weavile’s been with me for a long time… since I traveled Johto. I caught it as a Sneasel and brought it up to be the powerhouse it is today. But regardless of the time I invested into it, I can always find a stronger Ice-type or a stronger Dark-type to replace it if I wanted to. So if it wants to make amateur mistakes and almost kill me and itself in the process, it can do so without me.”

    “Hm…” Conway considered this, but then shrugged. “Nope, sorry. It’s still unfair in my eyes.”

    “Then it’s a good thing your eyes don’t matter,” Paul said snidely. “Must be why you wear glasses.”

    “Low blow, Paul,” Conway said with a sigh. “Low blow. –Ah! It’s on, now. Come sit down.”

    Paul rolled his eyes and sat down on the couch with Conway. He sneezed in a rather untimely fashion, as it allowed Conway to smirk and continue to believe he was in the right about Paul being sick. Paul simply grumbled and focused on the TV. “This had better be quick…”

    “Welcome back to Sinnoh Now! Your one-stop place for all topics hot and current happening in the Sinnoh region!” After the Sinnoh Now logo appeared, it faded to Rhonda sitting cheerfully at the news desk. “It’s eight minutes past the hour, so it’s time to cover what’s going on in the world of weather! Or in Sinnoh’s world, at least!” Rhonda added with a giggle.

    The screen switched to a radar map of the Sinnoh region with all present systems displayed in their designated and current areas. Rhonda was at the side to go into detail of what was going on.

    “As many of you already know, Jubilife City was slammed by a brief but powerful thunderstorm last night! Many had lost power, but as of now, it has since been restored. In its wake, the thunderstorm has left us a seemingly endless mass of heavy rain that covers Oreburgh City, Jubilife City, Canalave City, and the southern parts of Floaroma Town! Well, Floaroma Town certainly never complains when its beautiful flowers get a nice drink from the heavens, and they’ll be getting their wish as the system continues to push up north. By the evening, the showers in the Jubilife and Canalave areas should move out completely. It’ll still be cloudy, but at least it won’t be such a nightmare to walk outside, right? Am I right?!”

    “This woman is so irritating,” Paul muttered. “No meteorologist should be this peppy.”

    Conway simply chuckled to himself. “I seriously doubt she has the qualifications of a meteorologist. She’s just a weather girl who loves her job, apparently.”

    “As I said, this system is pushing north, so by nightfall, Iron Island and the Snowpoint area should start getting pounded. And as conditions in Snowpoint City have been worsening as of late with record-breaking low temperatures this week, a storm like this will only further dent that beautiful but frigid city! But you Snowpoint citizens are tough! You’ll fight strongly to the end! … on that note, any Pokémon trainers aiming for Snowpoint City should use extreme caution when heading up to challenge Candice, or better yet, wait until this system passes through completely. But be wary, trainers! You’ll only have a short time to get to Snowpoint City after that system passes, because another one is coming up behind it!” Rhonda’s announcing never ceased to be energetic, but then she suddenly looked surprised. “Oh! And we have news on another system that has branched off and is over Veilstone City as we speak!”

    At the mention of his hometown, Paul’s expressions hardened. Conway took notice to this as the report continued.

    “Yes, it seems Veilstone City is dodging a bullet, as it will be missing the majority of the heavily severe thunderstorms that are raging through Mt. Coronet. Trainers near Mt. Coronet should beware, however! There have been several reports of cloud-to-ground lightning in the area,” Rhonda spoke in an ominous voice. “And some have even reported cyclone formations! Valley-effect weather is no laughing matter, trainers! So take caution and stay indoors if you’re in that area. Thankfully, the worst parts of the storm should quickly dissipate. It’ll be much safer to train tomorrow, trust me!”

    Paul thought he should be relieved, knowing the worst parts of the storm were missing Veilstone City entirely, but for some reason still felt as if something were wrong… or had gone wrong… or was about to go wrong. Was it intuition, or was Paul simply paranoid? Paul himself had no idea. He personally didn’t believe in brotherly intuition.

    “No need to worry, Paul,” Conway sung out. “If the severe storms missed Veilstone City, that means your brother is fine, correct?”

    It was hard for Paul not to growl at Conway in annoyance. “Stealing that girl’s stupid catchphrase… ah, but yes. If he chickened out on the training and stayed home, he should be fine.”

    Conway only smiled at the mention of Dawn. In a negative or positive light, it always brightened up his mood. “You’re certain he stayed home?”

    “Almost positive,” Paul said, completely sure of himself. “He hasn’t taken his training seriously in years. He may be too nice and ridiculously naïve, but even if he were training, he wouldn’t be stupid enough to train out in areas where lightning’s striking and cyclones are about.”

    “Why don’t you give him a call so you’re undeniably positive?” Conway innocently suggested.

    Paul looked away abruptly. “That won’t be happening. Alright, we’ve got our weather news.” He stood up from the couch and turned the TV off. “Satisfied? Can we go now?”

    Conway stood up as well, yawning and stretching himself out. “Yeah, that should do for now. Weren’t you going to give Weavile that little talk, though?”

    “Ah, right,” Paul said, nearly forgetting about it due to his impatience. He brought out Weavile’s Pokéball and glared at it. He then glanced at Conway from the corner of his eye. “I’d prefer to accomplish that without your company. Make yourself useful and assemble our belongings so we can get out of here immediately after this.”

    “As you wish,” Conway conceded, distancing himself from Paul and gathering up everything that belonged to them.

    Meanwhile, Paul went to a quiet corner, all the while glaring at the Pokéball. He thought back to the earlier events that morning… and then sneezed. He truly was beginning to not feel very well… but he shook it off, because he knew he had to be firm with Weavile in order to get his point across.

    In a low, quiet voice, Paul muttered “Weavile, standby.” He pressed the button and half-heartedly tossed the ball a very short distance. Out came a fully-healed Weavile, ready for battle.

    “Weav…!” It shouted out with enthusiasm before seeing the dark, indignant look on its trainer’s face. It quickly stood at attention, finishing its introduction with a much quieter and humbled “… Vile.”

    “We’re at Canalave City now,” Paul informed. “We’ll be having our Gym Battle soon. I relied on you to get us here, Weavile, and you failed miserably. Your shortcomings almost killed both of us.”

    Weavile recoiled from Paul’s scathing tone as it began to remember the events earlier that day. Weavile had put every ounce of energy it had into that Surf and Ice Beam combination… and even beforehand, Weavile knew the mission was a risky one. It looked down to its feet in shame, being told that it did in fact fail to fully carry out Paul’s orders.

    Paul felt no remorse for what he was saying, however. He found every bit of it justified and refused to take any blame for the incident. “Look at me when I’m talking to you, Weavile!”

    Slightly stumbling from the shock of the power in its trainer’s voice, Weavile obeyed Paul and reluctantly faced Paul, now able to see the full extent of his true anger and disappointment.

    “The only reason we’re here now is because we had help from some outsiders,” Paul explained, glaring at Conway from a distance from the corner of his eye. “What you’ve done is normally unforgivable. I had considered releasing you here and now.”

    “W-Weav…!” However tough it liked to act, Weavile always broke down if it heard this kind of threat, and it hadn’t been the first time Paul threatened to release it. Distinctly, it remembered having this kind of talk shortly after Paul was completely humiliated by Cynthia in battle. However, as most of Paul’s Pokémon proved to be just as useless against the Sinnoh Champion, he let it slide, knowing it was unwise to release the majority of his team all at once simply because he lost a battle that had a forgone conclusion from the beginning.

    Annoyed that he was about to say something relatively nicer soon, Paul closed his eyes and refused to face his Pokémon. “However, I brought you here to fight against Byron. This was to test your endurance. Apparently, your endurance is lacking, Weavile. Real-life experiences have shown me that. Now I want to see if the same is true for Pokémon battles. Since I’m feeling generous today, I’ll give you another chance and keep you on with me if you help me win this Gym Battle.”

    Hearing this filled Weavile with hope. It almost couldn’t believe it was being given a second chance, and gratefully cheered “Wea-Wea!” to its trainer. However, Paul held out his hand and made a gesture to stop the victory celebration.

    “This isn’t the time to get lazy,” Paul warned. “Because you didn’t let me finish. I will stay true to my word: win the Mine Badge for me, and you can stay. But if you are knocked out and unable to battle at any time against Byron, I will release you immediately after this Gym Battle.”

    “W-Weav…” This rained on Weavile’s parade. It knew it was coming up against a primarily Steel-typed Gym: a type that was resistant to Ice as well as being super-effective against Ice. The way it had been trained was to end battles quickly against Pokémon it had advantages against before its own weaknesses could be exploited. While Weavile was an expert dodger, its endurance against super-effective attacks was pitiful. This was not just as a result of Paul’s method of training, but by the nature of the Weavile species itself.

    However, Weavile knew what was on the line now. It made some flashy poses by jabbing at the air at lightning-quick speed with its claws, telling Paul it fully understood what must be done. “Weeeeavile!”

    Paul nodded. “We’re understood, then. It seems you still know when to keep your emotions in check in a tight situations; this is a good thing. I’ll expect nothing but your best performance, Weavile.” He held up its Pokéball. “Return.”

    Having finished the so-called “pep talk”, Paul sighed and turned around and walked towards Conway, who was true to his word and gathered both of their belongings so that they could leave the Pokémon Center immediately.

    Conway still looked skeptical about Paul’s decision. “Well, this is the last call,” he said. “You’re absolutely certain you’re going through with this before taking care of your cold?”

    “Will you shut up about that already?” Paul complained, grabbing his things. “I’m not sick in the least. I…” He was suddenly cut off by coughing, and Conway raised an eyebrow at him. Paul only glared back in return. “It’s this stupid weather! Probably allergies. Let’s just get out of here, already. Before I have an even greater urge to ditch you.”

    “Umbrella-less?” Conway reminded, opening up his own large umbrella. “Hah, nice try.”

    Paul rolled his eyes as they both exited the Pokémon Center en route to the Canalave Gym. Along the way, they passed the library, which Conway couldn’t help but gaze at as they continued to walk by it.

    “Hm, since I’m doing all of these favors for you, Paul… may I make a request?” Conway asked straightforwardly.

    “Huh?” Paul looked up and realized the building they were passing by. “Oh, right. The library. Well… I’ve had enough of traveling from city to city today. Spending the night here should be fine.”

    Conway smiled. Cruel as Paul was, at least he knew how to hold up his end of a bargain. “Would you like to join me after your battle, Paul? It might be worth your while.”

    Paul huffed at such an idea. “Why would I want to do that?”

    “Because, Canalave’s Library is notorious for holding several informative books on rare and powerful Pokémon, like I told you before,” Conway reminded. “You’re certainly one who’s interested in maximizing your team’s power. There may be something of relevance to you; you never know. It’s worth a look.”

    Then, it hit Paul. Conway had said the library contained information about legendary Pokémon. His father was on the hunt for a legendary Pokémon, and Reggie was on borrowed time. Paul wondered if perhaps there was information on Regigigas within the library that would be unavailable to Brandon, who was stuck far away in Kanto. If he were to obtain the crucial information first, Paul would be the one in control of both his father and his older brother if he withheld the information. Perhaps out of mercy, he would let Reggie know about the information but withhold it from Brandon until Reggie was ready to battle him. He would find it pathetic of Reggie to be so reliant on him, but Paul wondered if he would be as thankful for such a merciful act if he and his brother switched positions. While Paul held no respect for his brother, he borderline despised his father. He would always side with Reggie before siding with Brandon.

    “Goodness,” Conway remarked. “Your mind flies off to the moon even quicker than mine does.”

    “Hm…?” Paul blinked as his thoughts were disturbed. Instead of taking offense to Conway’s teasing, he looked to his acquaintance very seriously. “Well, for once… you have a point,” Paul admitted. “I’ll go to the library with you after my Gym Battle.”

    “Oh, delightful!” Conway exclaimed, possibly overjoyed. “It’ll be so much more fun to have a reading partner.”

    Paul shook his head. “I’d rather do the research on my own. I have reasons to go there rather than filling my head with even more useless Pokémon trivia.”

    “Is that so?” Conway asked, looking interested. “I’ll have to ask you about that after your battle, because look where we are already…”

    Paul looked up and found himself facing the Canalave Gym. Holding down another cough, he grinned and looked upwards. “Excellent. Everything is going according to plan. Get ready, Byron. I’m going to wipe the floor with you.”

    “Ooh, ominous,” Conway tauntingly commented.

    Paul grumbled and made his way inside. “Shut it, Conway.” Conway himself had nothing to say to that; he simply followed the younger trainer into the Gym to witness the showdown that was about to take place.

    Elsewhere, near Mt. Coronet, the severe thunderstorms still raged on. The wind gusts were strong enough to be almost deafening and Reggie’s Pokémon were having a hard time being able to stay on the ground, let alone fight as viciously as he ordered them to.

    As they threw their attacks at each other, Reggie’s Pokémon still couldn’t quite comprehend why they had to train this way. This went against everything Reggie had ever taught them in the past, and even if it was for a special occasion… never before had they seen their trainer mentally snap.

    By this point, Infernape was severely injured. It was craving for a Potion or a Sitrus Berry, or anything… even a break from the fighting. It found itself backed up against a tree. Infernape found the will to fight its trainer and caretaker, but still could not immerse itself in the rage of battle the way Reggie forced himself to. However, all reservations had left Reggie at this point, and he was clearly no longer himself. Infernape never thought him to possibly look so fierce, but with every strike of lightning that shot across the sky, the kind breeder seemed every bit as dark as his younger brother.

    Reggie himself was battered, bruised, bloody (and still rendered with a fractured hand that he insisted on fighting with, no matter how much it hurt him), and was finally looking exhausted. He still intended to follow through on his promise: to fight Infernape until only one was left standing. He grinned to Infernape, having it cornered, as he prepared his next attack.

    “So, this is how it goes down…” Reggie uttered between breaths. “Seems like I’m the winner. That reflects horribly on you and the rest. You’ll never be successful if you can’t beat m-” He suddenly paused. Infernape looked up, feeling as if something wrong was about to happen.

    Ampharos abruptly ceased the fighting with Bibarel and Marowak to look towards the Reggie/Infernape battle scene. It could also sense disaster approaching. “Ampha!!” It screeched, putting all battling to a halt. Even Reggie slightly heard its Pokémon’s cries over the howling winds, but then came the biggest warning sign of all.

    Reggie could feel his hair standing on end.

    He whirled around quickly to see his Starter Pokémon lying against the tree. It was clear what was going to happen. But Reggie was born from a man who didn’t know the meaning of the word “quit”. If there was anything he truly inherited from his father, it was that. Instinctively, he leaped towards the tree to shove Infernape out of the immediate area, the latter of which was in too much pain to escape on its own.

    Reggie succeeded, pushing Infernape away from the tree and ended up rolling it down a hill on accident. However, it was a convenient accident, as the next thing that happened was a flash of light and a sound reminiscent of an exploding bomb.

    The shockwave of a lightning bolt striking the tree was strong enough to knock all Pokémon off their feet as they watched in horror of what they were witnessing. It was instantaneous, but to Reggie’s Pokémon, time felt as if it slowed down for them all. But eventually, the blinding light receded. Residents of the more distant areas of Sinnoh heard the ominous thunder, and those closer were witness to the bolt of lightning, though did not see it strike anything. Even in Veilstone City, the lightning was strong enough to send out a brief flash across the sky, disturbing citizens who happened to be outdoors at that time.

    Maylene was one of those people; she was in the backyard feeding the breeding center’s Pokémon. Knowing Reggie was out there somewhere, though not sure where specifically, she became concerned.

    “He’d know better than to be out in this,” Maylene acknowledged. “But it wouldn’t hurt to call him, just to make sure he’s alright…”

    It was a very good decision on the Veilstone Gym Leader’s part, because the trainer who usually knew better was now lifelessly on the ground in front of a tree that was almost completely split in half due to the lightning strike. Reggie was effectively fried; potentially fatally fried.

    His Pokémon were quick to rush over to him, and Infernape quickly climbed the hill to see what had happened. They all cried out to Reggie, hoping he would hear them, but much to their horror, he did not respond in any way. Staraptor nudged its beak against Reggie’s face in hopes of getting some kind of reaction, but its trainer remained silent and still.

    While Bibarel tried to assist Staraptor in reviving their trainer, Infernape could faintly hear a ringing sound in the distance coming from the direction of where Reggie left his belongings prior to the beginning of the training session. Knowing the Pokémon could not help their trainer alone in this desolate area, Infernape rushed over to find that Reggie’s PokéGear was indeed ringing.

    Being a Pokémon, Infernape did not exactly know how human technology worked, but had watched Reggie use such gadgets several times over the years. There was only one button to press, so Infernape went ahead and pressed it. It looked excited when it could hear Maylene’s voice from the other end.

    “Reggie? Are you there…? It’s… it’s Maylene… w-wait, what is that noise?” What she was hearing was the fierce wind still blowing about the place. It didn’t take her long to figure that out.

    “I can’t believe this! Reggie, do you have any idea how dangerous it probably is over there?!” Maylene shouted in frustration. “You know better than to do this!” Suddenly, she realized she should have heard Reggie reply by now. She grew worried. “R-Reggie…? Say something…”

    Infernape easily recognized Maylene’s voice, but knew Reggie was unable to come to answer the call in his condition. Not able to speak the human language, Infernape hoped its panicked cries across the PokéGear would get through to Maylene and tell her that something has indeed gone wrong.

    “Huh?” Maylene was confused. “Infernape, what’re you doing with Reggie’s PokéGear?” She was more surprised that a Pokémon would know how to even use one, but as she continued to listen to Infernape’s cries, she gasped. “Y-you sound… really freaked out, Infernape! Did something happen to Reggie?!”

    “Infernape, nape!” Infernape yelped, trying to make it sound like an affirmative sound. Regardless of that, its worry was well-reflected in its voice, and Maylene could tell that something had gone wrong. Immediately, she went over to a computer while continuing to talk to Infernape on the PokéGear.

    “Listen to me, Infernape, you have to stay on the line with me until I can trace where your call is coming from!” Maylene instructed. “If Reggie really is in trouble, I have to find out where you are so we can help him!”

    She was handy enough with the computer to work with it while under pressure, at least, which was a good thing. Not able to find out what happened to Reggie through Infernape worried her sick over what became of him. If he were lost, if he were already dead… but just as that morbid thought crossed her mind, she got a lock on the signal. “Got it! Thanks for staying on with me, Infernape. I’m gonna hang up now so I can call for back-up, and we’ll be right over! If Reggie’s there with you, do whatever you can to keep him safe! I’ll see you soon!”

    Maylene bit her lip nervously as she hung up and started calling for reinforcements. “Near the base of Mt. Coronet… that’s exactly where the worst part of the storm is. Sounded like Infernape was right in the thick of it, too. Oh… I just hope I’m not too late!”


    “Reggie…”

    His eyes were still closed, but he was oddly conscious. At least, he was conscious enough to hear and recognize the ethereal voice calling out to him.

    “Who…?”

    “Reggie…”

    “… Is that…?” He whispered out in vain. Try as he might, Reggie was unable to open his eyes, but smiled when a warm light enveloped him.

    “Open your eyes.”

    “No… way…” Reggie mumbled out of disbelief rather than denying the request. “You couldn’t be… but if you’re… talking to me, then I…”

    “Open your eyes and you will be able to see me for as long as you like,” the distinctively female voice gently told him. Already warm and comfortable, Reggie felt even better when a familiar pair of arms wrapped around his body. He remembered being held like this before. “My sweet Reggie…”

    That cinched it for him. “M-Mom…”

    He still couldn’t see her, but the arms holding him felt distinctly like hers. The soft and gentle voice perfectly matched hers. Reggie swore he could feel her long, dark violet hair against his chin once more. Though his eyes were closed, Reggie’s face could not possibly express more joy than they were now. “Y-you’re really… you came back…”

    “I am afraid that is not so,” the voice, presumably his mother’s, regretfully informed. “It was not I who came back, but you who left.”

    The smile faded away from Reggie’s face. “I… I died… trying to save Infernape…”

    Those soft, familiar hands stroked Reggie’s back comfortingly as he let it all sink in. “I’ve been lonely for many years without you and the others, Reggie… things have not turned out as I wished, did they?”

    Reggie reflected on what he had inadvertently left behind him: an emotionally-distant father who refused to acknowledge his own sons as anything more than opponents, and a younger brother who forgot his mother’s love entirely to the point where he threw the very idea of love out in favor of power. All three were far away from each other… nothing like the family their mother wished for them to continue being after her death. “I… I’m so sorry, mom…” Reggie apologized as a tear fell down his still-closed eye. “I did everything I could to keep us together, but…”

    “Sometimes, the things we wish for are unreasonable things,” his mother explained. “Before I lost my life, I constantly wished for a stronger body… one not so susceptible to the illnesses that put an end to me. But I could not change that any more than I could stop the sun from rising and setting, Reggie.”

    “Sometimes, life isn’t fair… I learned that the hard way,” Reggie admitted. “But still… I was powerless to stop our family from shattering. You were the glue who held us together, mom. I wished with all my strength to become that glue in your place… a-and I failed you. I failed you, and I failed dad… I’m even a failure in the eyes of Paul.”

    There was a brief period of silence before his mother responded. “You’ve grown so much, my dear… but even now, you say the most childish things sometimes.”

    “That’s… that’s because…” Reggie attempted to cry out. “I had to grow up so soon!”

    “You honestly wanted to become a breeder, just like me?”

    “I didn’t realize it after I lost to father,” Reggie admitted. “I wanted to continue where you left off… accomplish what you couldn’t because you died too soon…”

    “Yet you lost your life attempting to do what your father and brother do,” his mother pointed out. “Because you were so desperate to prove your point, to honor me… how can you imagine a mother would feel, knowing she lost her son like that?”

    “I-I’m sorry,” Reggie said, ashamed of himself. “I guess… I deserve to die after what I did. I threw away all of my years of breeder experience to essentially torture my Pokémon, because I knew my usual methods weren’t going to get me anywhere… but that’s no excuse for what I’ve done.”

    “I see you have yet to open your eyes,” his mother noted, without even having to look at her son’s face. “You regret going out this way.”

    “Of course I do!” Reggie exclaimed. “Now I’ll never be able to carry out your work, and Paul and dad… they’ll only get worse from here. All the same… I’ve been dying to see you again, mom…”

    “You should not be content with your position if you feel you have unfinished business in your life,” his mother noted. “Of course, I do not feel content in the least… but I was powerless to fight the toxins in my weak body. But, Reggie… you were born healthy and strong like your father. You aren’t held back with physical limitations.”

    “I’m not…?” Reggie was confused. “But… but you said I died…”

    “You’re within the light, but weigh yourself down with your regrets, your unfinished business… and never open your eyes. Because you have a strong body, you can survive this. But you mustn’t give into temptation, Reggie. Do not give up your chance to return to your life just to look at your mother,” she warned him. “In my arms… this should be enough…”

    Reggie sighed. “You think I actually serve a purpose? I single-handedly erased every good deed I’ve ever done in my life by pulling the stunt I did today! Who would even want me back now?”

    “You only believe so, but your Pokémon forgive you… your friends and family will all forgive you. They know what you are going through, and you are greatly admired for persevering,” his mother told him. “I will have a hard time forgiving you if you give in to temptation now, Reggie. No matter what you’ve done, you did so with your heart in the right place. Keep trying to succeed… because your loss now will inevitably bring the rest of the family into the afterlife sooner than you think. I can feel it…”

    “W-wait, what?” Reggie was confused, but did as his mother instructed and did not open his eyes, though he could not deny the temptation was great. “What are you talking about?”

    Reggie’s spiritual mother released her hold on her son and set her hands on his shoulders, leaning over to kiss his forehead. “You must focus on bringing your spiritual being back into your body before it is too late. I fear your brother was not born to be as fortunate as you are. You must remain alive to guide him… save him.” She began to send him down. Where, exactly, was not apparent, but in some metaphorical way, it seemed Reggie was being pulled back into the tangible world.

    “Remember that I love all of you… and I still remain alive in your hearts…”


    “MOM!!” Reggie cried out, reaching out to his mother but no longer able to feel her. In his desperation, he tried to get a glimpse of his mother before they were separated again, but all Reggie saw before him was a hospital bed with him in it in a hospital room. “Huh…?”

    He heard some joyous gasps of relief nearby. Reggie looked to his side to see all of his Pokémon and Maylene sitting next to his bed, finding it a miracle that their dear friend had come back to life against the odds.

    “Maylene…?” He asked out loud, just to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. Fighting back the tears, Maylene nodded to confirm this was reality. Reggie looked to his Pokémon. “Infernape… all of you…”

    They were battled and bruised, all worse for wear due to the training regimen (especially Infernape). The bad parts of reality flew at Reggie like bullets as he began to look depressed. Though he managed to sit up in bed all on his own, Reggie noticed the various amounts of bandages wrapped around his body. His entire right hand was bandaged up; the one he had fractured during his fight with Infernape. His other Pokémon were bandaged up appropriately.

    Just to be sure, Reggie did a full scan of the room once more. “Mom…? Where’s…”

    This worried Maylene. “Reggie… don’t you remember?” she asked quietly. “She’s…”

    “Dead…” Reggie finished for her. He could have sworn he was just talking to her, but now he knew what happened. He remembered what he did for the sake of strength and power. It was disturbing for the Pokémon and Maylene to see the usually-calm and collected Reggie shaking as he brought his hands to his face. He looked as if he were about to sob.

    “She’s… sh-she’s dead, and I… that was just a…”

    Maylene shook her head, now unable to fight back her tears now that she was seeing Reggie’s. “It must have been an awful nightmare… I’m sorry, Reggie…”

    Reggie vehemently shook his head. “N-no! It was good! She was talking to me…! She held me and kissed me… a-and she told me to keep going!”

    Now hi s Pokémon were officially worried again. Maylene was determined to keep him back in reality where he belonged, however. “Reggie, they said you were struck by lightning… you must have suffered one of those near-death experiences. Your life flashing before your very eyes, your…”

    “No!!” Reggie cried out in defiance. “I wasn’t reliving the past! She was telling me not to let myself die! None of you believe me, do you?!”

    Maylene inched back a bit; she was officially afraid, as she never saw this side of Reggie before. By now, it was a wonder if anyone had ever seen this side of Reggie, as his Pokémon certainly hadn’t. “Reggie, please…” she pleaded. “Calm down. We’re all so happy to have you back…”

    “Stop lying!” he spat. Reggie’s eyes hardened; he was looking similar to the psychotic state he was in before he was struck by lightning once more. Maylene could now see a true resemblance of Brandon and Paul within him… both inside and out. “You’re not ‘all’ happy to have me back! Where’s my dad, huh?! Where’s my brother?! Absolutely nowhere!!

    Just to show his anger and frustration, Reggie’s non-broken hand slid behind the side table and proceeded to knock everything off to crash onto the hard hospital floor. Maylene flinched as she heard something break. Under her breath, she weakly begged, “Reggie… please stop…”

    “You know why they’re not here! You know exactly why!” Reggie shouted, pointing at Maylene. “Neither of them couldn’t care less about me! I’m the embarrassment of their family! And being the weak link of this family will never give me the victory I need! I’ll make them both regret the-”

    “What’s going on here?!” shouted a Nurse Joy approaching the scene. She noticed the mess Reggie had made and the furious state he was in. “Oh, thank goodness, you survived!”

    Maylene rushed over to Nurse Joy. “He’s alive, but he’s snapped! I-I don’t know what triggered it! What’s wrong with him?!”

    Nurse Joy looked shocked at this, but regained her calmness quickly. “Perhaps that’s the anesthetic wearing off…”

    Maylene flinched as she watched Reggie continue to destroy whatever he could get his hands on. “With all due respect, Nurse Joy, I don’t think pain’s the only reason! This isn’t like him at all…”

    “Perhaps you’re right,” Nurse Joy admitted, taking out a syringe full of powerful anesthesia. “Regardless, we’ll need to calm him down before we can do a proper diagnosis. Can you help restrain him for me, Maylene?”

    Initially, the thought frightened her, but her Lucario also happened to be present at the time, and he glared at her. That was enough to straighten her out.

    “Lucario and I can both do it; no problem. Do what you have to, Nurse Joy. Let’s go, Lucario!”

    Both Gym Leader and Pokémon restrained Reggie from both sides, but were surprised at the hidden physical strength Reggie possessed. He was harder to hold back that it looked. “P-please hurry!” Maylene begged as she struggled. “I didn’t think he had this kind of strength within him…!”

    “Of course,” Nurse Joy replied, going over to inject the syringe into Reggie’s arm. Within moments, Reggie’s resistance stopped and slouched, looking and feeling limp. “There. That should keep him sedated long enough for us to figure out what’s ailing him.”

    Maylene stepped back, now looking upset. “In all of the years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him fly into a fit of rage before… his dad and brother covered that area well enough. But Reggie… huh?”

    Infernape tapped Maylene to get her attention. “What is it, Infernape?”

    “Innnnfer,” it mumbled, gesturing to its own wounds before pointing to Reggie’s.

    While examining Reggie, Nurse Joy paused. “I believe Infernape is trying to remind you about the wounds Reggie sustained prior to getting struck by lightning. The patterns matched Infernape’s perfectly.”

    Maylene gasped and glared at Infernape. “What?! How could you do that to your own trainer when he’s-”

    “You didn’t let me finish,” Nurse Joy interrupted. “Reggie was undoubtedly attacked by Infernape several times. But at the same time… the nature of his fractured hand seems to be self-inflicted.”

    Infernape nodded.

    “On the other hand, Infernape was also injured although it was not struck by lightning. While you were in the waiting room, we analyzed the wounds of all the Pokémon, and…”

    “And? What?” Maylene asked, not sure if she wanted to know.

    “All of the Pokémon aside from Infernape were fighting each other. If Reggie was out training like you said, that isn’t out of the ordinary. But the beating that Infernape suffered… all of that came from Reggie himself.”

    Maylene could almost feel herself going faint. “What…? So then… then you two were fighting each other…?” She looked down with a pained look to Infernape. With a solemn nod, Infernape answered her question without a word.

    “Reggie must have requested it himself,” Nurse Joy speculated. “Especially after seeing that fiery attitude before we sedated him… he’s hit a sudden violent streak contrary to his nature.”

    “You… mean to say that…” Maylene uttered before sitting down, but her eyes were wide open. “Reggie was like this before the lightning struck him?”

    Nurse Joy nodded. “I’m afraid so. He didn’t act strangely around you before leaving his breeding center in your care, did he?”

    “Not at all!” Maylene exclaimed. “He was the perfectly happy, casual, normal Reggie we all knew and loved… from the moment I arrived at this place and well after he left it to me. Thing is, it hasn’t even been a full day since he left to train…”

    “Would you say he’s had a stressful life?” Nurse Joy asked her as she continued to examine her sedated patient. “I’m aware his mother died a few years ago… his father is that famous Frontier Brain…”

    Maylene sighed. “He’s handled his life better than I would’ve if it were me in his shoes. The family’s split apart and hated each other ever since she died. I can’t imagine the responsibility Reggie had to undertake with Paul and the other Pokémon once his father left for Kanto. And after all that, Paul just totally disrespects him, and their dad hardly tries to interact with them anymore… all because neither of them can defeat him in battle. It sounds like overwhelming stress to me. I don’t know how Reggie pulled through that kind of thing all his life with a smile… and that sweet personality.” She looked to Nurse Joy. “Why, do you… do you think all of that was just a lie? That Reggie never was that nice guy?”

    “Never!” Nurse Joy insisted. “However, enduring immeasurable amounts of stress and holding it all in can be… very unhealthy, both for the body and mind. Everyone has a breaking point. And if this kind of personality is in his genes combined with a hard family life, then… we could be looking at something far more serious than an innocent young man who just seriously needs to vent.”

    “Wh-what… are you saying, Nurse Joy?” Maylene nervously asked. Again, she feared the answer.

    Nurse Joy looked to the young Gym Leader sternly. “We’ll need to run more tests, but I’ll give you a preliminary diagnosis now, since the evidence is pointing in this direction: Reggie… most likely has borderline personality disorder. There may or may not be a link to bipolarity or dissociative personality disorder. We may need him to be fully conscious before we know all of the details… but signs are pointing in that general direction.”

    “All this time…?” Maylene looked down and suddenly felt guilty, as if she should have caught onto this before even though she’d never seen Reggie act like anything other than ordinary Reggie.

    Nurse Joy looked to the sedated young man with pity. “For now, all I can say is that it will be a long road to recovery for Reggie if he wants to overcome this… and he won’t be able to do it alone.”

    ( TBC )

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  7. #7
    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travels of the Trifecta! (Anime, PG-13)

    ( I've been writing for many years, but I've never written a battle of epic proportions before, really. This'll be my first foray into such a topic, as this chapter is almost solely the Gym Battle between Paul and Byron! Enjoy! )

    The time had come: Paul’s Gym Battle against Byron of Canalave City. He came in with full intent on winning the badge on his first try and strengthen the endurance of his Pokémon by forcing them to adapt to battles against opponents that had an advantage over them. Paul strictly believed there was nothing to gain by spoiling a Pokémon and focusing only on its strengths. After what Weavile had failed to accomplish earlier that day, Paul was particularly harsh on it. For Weavile to stay on as a member of Paul’s party, Paul needed to win this Gym Battle, and Weavile had to do everything in its power to stay conscious. This was no easy task, as Weavile’s defenses were well outclassed by its offensive capabilities. However, the offense would be of little use when most of Weavile’s attacks would prove not to be very effective on Byron’s Pokémon.

    It was strangely appropriate, Paul thought, to focus on improving his Pokémon’s defenses in a Steel-typed Gym. Steel was easily the greatest type in terms of defense. Paul committed to sticking with his original plan this time around; even if Byron turned out to be an annoying man, and Paul knew he would be, he certainly banked on the hope that he could never out-do Gardenia in the enthusiasm department. He kept his cool and prevented himself from making any last-minute changes to his team or his strategy. This was easier said than done, considering what all Paul had been through just to reach Canalave City on this day.

    The fact that he was now stuck with Conway as a travelling partner also wasn’t helping matters.

    “Very interesting,” Conway murmured, as he had never been in this Gym before. “Pristine, metallic… fitting considering the dominant type.”

    “This isn’t a field trip,” Paul harshly reminded him. “We’re going straight into battle and straight out the door after I win. You can geek yourself to death over this place on your own time. Focus on finding the battling area or Byron.”

    Conway looked ahead; not taking any offense to Paul’s insulting, for as long as his insults didn’t involve Dawn, Conway was pretty adept in enduring Paul’s attitude. “It shouldn’t be a stretch to find the battle arena, honestly. It’s probably right at the end of this hallway behind those doors,” he figured. “If we’re lucky, Byron should be right there to accept your challenge.”

    Paul nodded, agreeing with him for once. “With any luck…” He soon looked annoyed, tugging at his coat a bit. “Does he really need to keep it so warm in here?”

    “Say what?” Conway was alerted upon hearing that. “Paul, it’s really not that bad in here. Maybe you should take your coat off, but like I said, you’re running a fever…”

    Taking off his coat did sound like a pleasant idea, but Paul focused more on Conway’s obsessive diagnosis of his alleged condition. Of course, he’d been feeling feverish and slightly dizzy since he boarded the ship to Canalave City, but he wasn’t about to admit it to Conway. “Will you lay off on that, already? I have a battle to focus on, and your nosing in on my business is becoming a huge distraction.”

    “It’s only from the goodness of my heart that I keep reminding you,” Conway insisted. “But don’t worry. I’ll make sure you’ll keep your head in the game. It’ll make up for me annoying you, surely.” And with that, he winked, but Paul remained unimpressed and irritated.

    “Just be a good, quiet cheerleader in the stands and we won’t have a problem,” Paul requested just as he was opening the door. “A very quiet cheerleader.”

    The next room was indeed a large battle arena with crowd stands at both sides of the field. The battling area hosted a rough and natural ground with several jagged rocks protruding from the dirt. It greatly contrasted the flooring beyond the boundaries, which was shiny and steel just like the rest of the Gym. From a distance, Paul and Conway could see a man toting a shovel standing there at one end of the battlefield. He was stiff and silent, and looked as though he expected someone to come up and challenge him.

    “How dedicated,” Conway mused. “To stand there at his post all day to await challengers… must be boring as sin, but his dedication is admirable.”

    Paul ran towards the battlefield ahead of Conway until he reached what was apparently the challenger’s designated corner. “Byron!!” Paul shouted out so that the much older man could hear him from across the field. It was hard to make out, but Byron smirked upon the calling of his name.

    “I…” Paul took a deep breath before finishing; running even a short distance had already worn him out… and that was unusual for him. “I’m here to challenge you!”

    To that, Byron howled with laughter long enough for Conway to catch up with Paul.

    “You don’t say?” Byron mused, after controlling his laughter. “And who might you be, kid?”

    That harsh tone and condescending vocabulary felt very familiar for Paul. Indeed, this was the kind of talk he’d heard from his own father in the past. He frowned at Byron’s chiding, but remained firm. “Paul of Veilstone City,” he said quickly. “Do you accept or not? I’ve had a very long day.”

    The name seemed to take Byron off-guard for a moment. He blinked, rubbed his eyes, and scrutinized his opponent. “Paul of Veilstone City…” he muttered. Then, he grinned. “Almost thought I’d never see the day! You’ve grown like a weed, kid!”

    “What…?” Paul’s eyes widened, since this was different. Naturally, most Sinnoh residents were somewhat familiar with Brandon’s children, but he never came across someone who talked as if he really knew him.

    Conway took an interest to the statement as well. “You know him, Paul? Goodness, why didn’t you bring it up before?”

    Paul shook his head. “I don’t remember actually meeting Byron in person before… unless…”

    “HAH!” Byron guffawed, still looking cocky. “Figures you wouldn’t remember me, kiddo! You were ye tall,” He demonstrated by lowering his hand down to his knees. “Last time I saw you! Can’t blame you for that!”

    It was becoming obvious where this conversation would lead to. Paul didn’t feel like going there, but felt like he had to if he was ever going to get this battle underway. “You’re… a friend of my old man, aren’t you?”

    “Ah, yeah! Good guess!” Byron affirmed. “Brandon and I go way back. He was pleased as punch to introduce me to you when you were a wee one. You clung to your mommy a lot, I remember, but I could tell you had that fighting spirit, and you’d grow up to be a big tough guy like your dad! Couldn’t see that as much in little Reggie, much as he put up a good fight against me all those years ago…” He then realized how many years it had been, and laughed. “Guess I was right there, too! Your brother gave up the battling life, didn’t he?”

    Paul felt awkward hearing such specific details of his younger days. He hardly remembered his mother at all and wasn’t even sure how long he actually mourned her loss, if he even did. He was far too young back then, and the details were far too blurred in his head to make any sense of them. But visualizing himself as a young child in his mother’s arms was disturbing.

    “Yes,” Paul answered, but felt very uneasy now. He blamed the awkward memories for it, but it was more likely his pounding headache, his sweating, and his stomach bothering him that brought on his worse-for-wear condition. “He’s… a breeder now. But I’m not going to be like him… or the old man. I’m aiming for genuine success.”

    Byron seemed to like his attitude. “For being the most powerful Frontier Brain in all of Kanto, I wouldn’t say Brandon failed, necessarily! I know firsthand how tough the guy is. Heh, we got into fights all the time as kids… guy was as determined to find fossils and ancient artifacts as I was! And now he’s gotten up-close and personal with actual legendary Pokémon… it’s easy to be jealous of the guy!”

    Conway absorbed every detail of this conversation as best he could; it wasn’t every day one would hear such juicy details on famed figures in Sinnoh. “Indeed, Brandon can’t even be challenged without defeating the other Frontier Brains, and you need good qualifications to even attempt to conquer the Battle Frontier,” he noted. “Guess that is a bit more of a prestigious role than a Gym Leader… no offense, of course.”

    Byron frowned and turned his attention towards Paul’s bespectacled companion. “And what do they call you, Four-Eyes?”

    Paul nodded contentedly as he noticed Conway quickly becoming intimidated by being focused on. It was enough to make him smile a little.

    “Oh! Uh…” Conway paused for a moment, trying to find the right thing to say. “My name’s Conway! I’m a friend and traveling companion of Paul’s.”

    Paul’s smile faded. “More like an obsessive leech who has nothing better to do with his time than stalk me. Believe me; I tried to get rid of him.”

    Conway wasn’t about to let himself look bad in front of the Gym Leader. “I saved his life earlier today! I’m sticking around until he repays the debt.”

    “I see,” Byron said, nodding. “You sure don’t look like much, but we can’t judge books by their covers, huh?! You here for a Gym Battle too, little man?”

    “N-not at all!” Conway cried out, waving his hands frantically. “I came here because I wanted to witness one for myself! Ah, I’m kind of like a Pokémon Freelancer, you see…”

    “A Jack of all Trades!” Byron sputtered, laughing out loud again. Paul wasn’t sure whether he should have been content that other people were seeing Conway for what he truly was or if he should be disturbed that such a gruff old man would be thinking in a mindset similar to his own. “Oh, I don’t envy you in the least. Best I can do for you is to let you see the thrill of the battle, then!” Byron announced.

    He then turned to Paul. “Just so we’re clear, I don’t personally take on challengers until they’ve beaten my son in Oreburgh City. He’s hardly an obstacle, but if you can’t beat him, you’ve got no chance in beating me, kiddo!”

    Paul sighed, digging into his back and pulling out his badge case. He opened it up to take out the Coal Badge and show it before Byron. “I defeated Roark ages ago. Here’s the proof if you need it.”

    Byron squinted to make sure, but the shape and gleam of the badge was telling enough that Paul’s words were genuine. “Looks like you’re not kidding. That boy of mine’s got a lot to learn yet… but I guess I can’t be too hard on him, considering you’re Brandon’s kid! But regardless of that, I’m very much different from Roark.” He grinned, looking directly into Paul’s eyes. “So in place of my son, I accept your challenge, Paul!”

    “Finally,” Paul muttered. The reminiscing was becoming too much for him, especially since he didn’t remember Byron at all. He almost wondered if that combined with the fact that he was a close friend of Brandon’s put him at an even greater disadvantage… but calmed down when he remembered that Reggie was able to defeat Byron a long time ago. If his considerably weaker brother could pull off a win from Byron, Paul was certain he could very well do the same. “Just… a second.”

    The heat was becoming unbearable for Paul at this point. He laid his bag to the ground in order to unzip his jacket and wrap it around his waist, leaving him in his rarely-seen dark blue t-shirt. It was a relief to finally have that coat off of him, but he was beginning to worry about what was happening to him within. Conway and Byron didn’t seem to be overheated in the least. Even without the coat, Paul still found himself sweating, and though he couldn’t see it for himself, his face was completely flushed.

    “Hot under the collar, huh?” Byron assumed, chuckling. “Guess that’s reasonable considering the reputation that precedes you due to your family. Don’t think for a second I’ll go easy on you just because you’re my friend’s son, kid!”

    “I never expected you to,” Paul retorted, trying his best to stay firm and stable. “You’d be a miserable excuse for a Gym Leader if you did.”

    This was met with enthusiastic laughter on Byron’s end. “Your words couldn’t be any truer! Spoken like a true son of Brandon!”

    While Paul quietly stewed in anger over those words, Byron looked to a dejected Conway making his way to the seats. After a brief moment of consideration, he grinned and called out to the young trainer. “Hey, Four-Eyes! I got a proposition for you!”

    Conway jumped a bit, not expecting to be addressed to again, but looked to Byron with an uneasy smile. “A… a proposition, you say?”

    “Yeah, get down here!” Byron shouted, gesturing him to come down to the field. “How’d you like to be our referee, huh?”

    The idea of refereeing an official match of Paul’s elated Conway. He could hardly breathe, nor believe he was truly being offered this. “Y-you really just said…?”

    “C’mon!” Byron urged. “We can’t start without you!”

    It was real. Conway really was being offered to referee. It was a relatively simple job, and Conway had read up on Pokémon battling enough to know the basics. Knowing there was no time to waste, Conway jumped from the seats straight to the battlefield rather than walking back the way he came from. He quickly took his place in the referee’s corner between Paul and Byron.

    “Alright!” Conway shouted, posing dramatically. “Then let the Canalave Gym Battle commence! To my left, hailing from Veilstone City is our challenger, Paul!”

    Paul just gaped at the sight. He couldn’t believe Byron was actually letting Conway referee this battle. But he realized, perhaps, this was a tactic to throw him off. He looked back to Byron and glared, drawing his first Pokéball out, ready to throw at any time.

    “And to my right is none other than the Leader of the Canalave Gym, Byron!”

    Byron smiled to Conway as he took out his first Pokéball. “Good job, Four-Eyes. You’ve got some flair in the announcing department.”

    “Why, thank you!” Conway humbly announced, still in his “official referee” tone of voice. “So, this will be a three-on-three match-up, meaning both the challenger and the Gym Leader will use approximately three Pokémon each! The match is over when one side’s Pokémon are all defeated! Additionally, only the challenger may substitute during the battle!”

    Paul shook his head, looking oddly confident now. “Well, that shouldn’t be necessary for me. We’re going to make this a quick one.”

    “You must have some game plan to be saying something like that to me!” Byron pointed out. “Overconfidence was a flaw of your dad’s too, you know!”

    “He may be overconfident, but it’s different in my case,” Paul explained. “I never talk big without having the skill and certainty to back it up.”

    Byron smirked and pressed the button on his Pokéball, enlarging it. “Put your skills to the test, then! Show him your iron will, Bronzor!” The Gym Leader threw the Pokéball out to the field, and from it came out his first choice for battle, the Bronze Pokémon.

    “Bronnn,” Bronzor hummed, prepared for another battle to test the challenger’s abilities.

    Seeing this made Paul grin. This was much less than he expected, but knew good Gym Leaders wouldn’t put their strongest player out front. What he was happiest about was that he knew enough about Bronzor – a Steel and Psychic-type Pokémon – to figure this would be an easy victory for his first Pokémon. He pressed the button on his Pokéball and sent it out.

    “Honchkrow, stand by for battle!”

    Finally being called out for battle, Honchkrow flew out of its ball and awaited orders from its trainer. On its own, it could see this was indeed a battle it was called out for.

    “Interesting trade-off,” Byron remarked. “I can’t wait to see this.”

    “I can’t wait myself,” Conway concurred, wondering how this match would play out with advantages and disadvantages on both sides. “So our first match will be Honchkrow versus Bronzor!” With another dramatic pose, he allowed the match to commence. “Battle begin…!”

    Paul was quick to take the initiative. “Honchkrow, rush Bronzor with Sky Attack!”

    Immediately, Honchkrow dove in towards Bronzor in a blinding speed. It became enveloped in light as it was about to hit its target.

    Byron expected Paul to be more straightforward and fire off a Dark-type attack, but the time it took Sky Attack to charge up gave him an excellent idea. He waited until Honchkrow crossed over to his side of the field before giving Bronzor the first command.

    “Stay strong, Bronzor!” Byron encouraged it. “Counter with Gyro Ball!”

    Bronzor began to spin itself around rapidly to charge up the energy needed to combat the first strike against it. Luckily for Byron, Gyro Ball fully charged much more quickly than Sky Attack, leading to an immense clash when Honchkrow and Bronzor met face-to-face. Paul immediately looked worried when Bronzor, almost effortlessly, blew Honchkrow all the way back to its side of the field, having overpowered it. Steel wasn’t super-effective against either of Honchkrow’s types, but it certainly looked like it had a lasting effect, shown by Honchkrow’s struggling to remain in the air.

    Conway was amazed by the power the small Bronzor possessed, and was enthralled by the clashes of light he just witnessed. “That’s quite a strategy,” he remarked, though mostly he was talking to himself. “Gyro Ball’s power increases if the user is significantly slower than its opponent. The wider the gap, the greater the increase of power. It’s no surprise that it could overpower Honchkrow with those aspects in play.”

    Byron laughed and wagged his finger at Paul. “You called it certainty, right? Sure looked like plain old overconfidence to me, kid!”

    “This match is far from over,” Paul retorted, though he was hesitant about sending Honchkrow in so close against Bronzor again. He decided it was time to battle more strategically. “Honchkrow, stay right where you are and use Shadow Ball.”

    “Honch!” Honchkrow acknowledged as it charged a ball of dark energy in front of its beak. Byron realized Paul planned to attack from a distance this time and looked sharply to his Pokémon. “Bronzor, hurry over there! Use Confuse Ray!”

    “Zor!” It called out before following Byron’s orders. Swiftly floating over to Paul’s side of the field, Bronzor charged in and attacked Honchkrow with a ray shining white and purple with full intent of confusing it before it could fire off the Shadow Ball. The ray struck Honchkrow and seemed to be effective, but it couldn’t dissipate the fully-charged Shadow Ball that went flying right into Bronzor as soon as Honchkrow was broken away from its attack.

    Bronzor was hit directly and sent into one of the many large rocks scattered across the field. It was not knocked out yet, but clearly damaged by this point. Honchkrow, fully confused, could no longer keep flying and landed on the ground, trying to shake off its unfortunate status before Bronzor had another chance to attack.

    Paul assessed the situation thoroughly. Strategically, since he was allowed to, he would be wise to recall Honchkrow and use a fresh Pokémon to quickly finish off Bronzor. However, Paul wanted to focus on endurance for this Gym Battle. He wanted his Pokémon to withstand whatever Byron could throw at them with steeled determination. Paul knew he was going to need that kind of thing when it was time to face the League, as well as the new Battle Frontier… not to mention his own father.

    Unsure of the results, Paul made another command to attack: “Now! Use Dark Pulse before it recovers!”

    Luck was on Paul’s side this turn, as Honchkrow successfully shot a dark aura beam towards Bronzor, which was still recovering from the previous clash. Bronzor remained pinned against the rock, but was still conscious and able to battle.

    Paul growled at this. “Come on, already! It’s over!” It was apparent that the small Pokémon’s great endurance was aggravating him.

    Conway just shook his head at this. “Paul’s acting rashly now… not a good state to be in before the first match even ends. Impatient, sick, Pokémon with disadvantages… I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

    “Hah! Wanting a quick match with me, the master of steel?!” Byron shouted out with a laugh. “My team is built with defense being the number one priority! Try as you might, but you’ll never take my Pokémon down in one shot! You were foolish to think you could end this quickly…” Then he grinned. “Just like Brandon! Pure overconfidence! So Bronzor, tackle Honchkrow while it’s still vulnerable!”

    “Not a chance!” Paul shouted back. Being compared to Brandon only fueled his never-ending anger. “Honchkrow, stay focused and use Aerial Ace! You can’t miss!”

    Honchkrow’s confusion was still present, however, as it attempted to fly high into the sky to initiate the attack, only to fly itself directly into a rock instead. Seizing the opportunity, Bronzor flew towards Honchkrow and rammed into it, hard. Paul was shocked, and Byron simply laughed again.

    “It can miss if it’s still confused, which it obviously is!” Byron pointed out, now overwhelmed with pride. “End it now, Bronzor! Gyro Ball, once more!”

    Paul had no idea when Honchkrow was going to recover from the confusion, but he had a feeling Honchkrow would be well incapacitated if it took another hit. In order to win, he needed to use his speed and accuracy to come out on top.

    “Counter it!” He shouted to Honchkrow. “Shadow Ball!”

    It was the climax of the first battle as Honchkrow’s Shadow Ball clashed against Bronzor’s Gyro Ball. However, Shadow Ball managed to overpower Bronzor’s attack and ultimately sent both attacks flying at Bronzor, which was then pummeled into the ground. When the lights faded and the smoke cleared, the results were clear: a very exhausted Honchkrow remained standing, but Bronzor was completely incapacitated.

    After gaping for a moment, Conway remembered he was refereeing and did his duty. “Bronzor is unable to battle!” he announced before dramatically pointing to Paul. “Victory goes to Honchkrow!”

    Byron was now impressed. “It seems I underestimated you,” he admitted. “Shadow Ball can weaken the target’s defenses. Bronzor was weakened after taking that first Shadow Ball… that must be why it took so long for it to recover, and why its Gyro Ball could not overpower your second Shadow Ball onslaught.” He thrust his shovel deep into the ground. “Bravo! That was an excellent strategy!”

    Paul wiped the sweat off his forehead, now staggering. The intensity of that fight exhausted him, and he had to go through at least two more. He simply nodded to Byron without saying anything. The dizziness was close to overpowering him, but he shook it off and stood firmly once more.

    Conway was concerned; Paul was quickly succumbing to his illness but continued to deny it and press on, stressing himself out and putting himself in an even worse physical condition. He knew what the answer was going to be, but for the sake of his own conscience, he looked to Paul and asked him, “Are you sure you want to keep going on with this?”

    “I’m not giving in,” Paul growled. “Ever. I’m going to win this badge today.”

    That was more-or-less the response Conway expected. He looked down and nodded. “Well, do your best, then…”

    “I already am,” Paul insisted. “Honchkrow, stay the course.”

    That decision surprised both Conway and Byron. But the surprise on Byron’s face quickly dissipated as he grabbed Bronzor’s Pokéball, aimed it at said Pokémon, and recalled it. He looked down at the Pokéball with a proud smile. “Admirable effort, Bronzor. You earned yourself a rest,” Byron said, putting his Pokéball away and taking out another one.

    “Since you’re staying with Honchkrow, your next opponent will be…” Byron announced, dramatically posing before unleashing what he possessed in his next Pokéball. “Steelix!”

    Conway couldn’t help but shrink back a bit when the thirty-foot Iron Snake Pokémon entered the battlefield. Despite its intimidating look, Paul shrugged it off.

    “Big deal,” he said. “I fought one of those before in Johto. I know what to expect.”

    “You battled with little Jasmine before, huh?” Byron figured. “Well, we’ll see how well you can predict my Steelix’s moves!”

    Paul nodded, fighting off the nagging pain and exhaustion wearing him down as he commanded Honchkrow to stay strong, despite being severely injured at this point. “Shake it off, Honchkrow,” he urged. “Sky Attack!”

    Byron just shook his head. “No chance. Steelix, use Ice Fang!”

    “Ice Fang?!” Paul echoed, now surprised. “Jasmine’s Steelix definitely didn’t know that…”

    There was nothing Paul could do. Honchkrow was trapped within Steelix’s grip as it was slammed by a super-effective Ice Fang attack; its Sky Attack was unable to finish or affect Steelix in any way. The hit was more than enough to knock Honchkrow unconscious, which was made obvious when the Big Boss Pokémon careened into the ground lifelessly.

    “That was quick…” Conway murmured, before realizing he had to announce again. “Ah, Honchkrow is unable to battle!” He pointed to Byron. “Victory goes to Steelix!”

    Byron nodded in agreement. “A foregone conclusion, if I do say so myself.”

    Paul silently recalled Honchkrow back to its Pokéball and pulled out his next one. “So we’re at two apiece. Make sure you don’t get too cocky.” Paul threw out the Pokéball to unleash his next fighter. “Ursaring, stand by for battle!”

    The tall Hibernator Pokémon appeared on the spot, growling a fierce “Ursaaaah!” to show its readiness for the battle. It looked up and glared at Steelix, not at all intimidated by its much larger size.

    “A Normal-type,” Byron mused. “You must have quite a few surprises in store for me.”

    “You could say that,” Paul replied before looking to Ursaring. “Put all of your strength into this one, Ursaring. Use Hammer Arm!”

    Ursaring growled out loud as it rushed towards Steelix with its forearms glowing brightly. Byron and Steelix braced for this attack as Ursaring slammed its arms down on the lower portion of Steelix’s body. The force of the blow sent shockwaves through the ground, and everyone on the playing field could feel the brutality of that single blow.

    Steelix roared out loud in pain, as the super-effective attack effectively dented it, but withstood it and was still in the game.

    “Excellent work, Steelix! That may have been painful, but you persevered!” Byron said, truly meaning to compliment his Pokémon.

    Conway rested his chin in his hand as he analyzed the battle schematics. “Steelix’s defenses are more than twice as firm as Bronzor’s… but Ursaring has the raw power to compensate for this. It helps that he’s slightly faster, too… the side-effect of a powerful attack like Hammer Arm will put a dent in Ursaring’s below-average speed, but it should still be quick enough to dodge, if Paul is in his right mindset…” He briefly looked over to Paul, who looked as strained and sickly as ever. Conway frowned and shook his head. “Who am I kidding?” He said to himself. “He’s officially lost his marbles.”

    “Show Ursaring what for, Steelix! Use Iron Tail!” Byron cried out, thrusting his fist forward.

    Steelix followed through with the command and attempted to smash Ursaring with its giant, heavy tail. The accuracy was precise, but what Byron didn’t expect was Ursaring catching the tail in its own grasp and preventing Steelix from doing any damage. Ursaring struggled under the weight, but was able to shove the tail out of its way.

    “Have another surprise,” Paul offered the Gym Leader. “Ursaring! Secret Power!”

    Being a Normal-type attack, the power of the attack and the rocks that flew at Steelix did not affect it much. However, it suddenly felt anxious as it flinched; Secret Power’s hidden effect on the rocky terrain.

    “Ah! You tricky little…!” Byron muttered under his breath as he witnessed his Pokémon falling victim to the secondary effect. “This is no time to be anxious, Steelix!” He called out. “You’re the big guy on the field! You own this terrain! Remember that!”

    Byron’s words were somewhat getting through to Steelix, though it wasn’t enough to break the condition it was rendered in. Steelix flinched again when it saw Ursaring charging up another attack.

    “We have Steelix right where we want it,” Paul announced, sounding a bit more optimistic that his plan was working well so far. “Take your time charging that Focus Blast, Ursaring. It won’t be able to take another major hit like that.”

    Byron shook his head in disappointment. “Overconfidence will get that kid nowhere. Steelix, snap out of it already! You can’t let that Focus Blast hit you!” And Byron knew that one disadvantage to having a thirty-foot Pokémon was that it was essentially a huge target that was nigh impossible for any attack to miss. Steelix’s poor speed usually meant a guaranteed hit. So instead of trying to dodge the attack, Byron went a different route:

    “Steelix! Pull yourself together and use Sandstorm!”

    The route of distracting Ursaring to the point where the attack never occurs.

    The entire field suddenly picked up the weather condition of a sandstorm, where hot blasts of wind blew dust, sand, and bits of rock everywhere. Even Conway and Paul couldn’t evade it. Conway was at least fortunate enough to have eye protection, but the last thing Paul needed was added heat and bits of rock and sand battering him and his Pokémon for the rest of the battle. His vision was blurred and distorted through his sickness alone; the sandstorm made things much harder to see and it took a physical toll on everyone involved… except Steelix, who seemed practically immune to it, and Byron, who was tough enough to endure the elements.

    Ursaring was quickly distracted when rocks started pelting the back of its head, not to mention the dust and sand easily able to get in its eyes and obscure its vision, as well as causing extreme pain. Its charged energy dispersed as Ursaring tried to rub its eyes in frustration.

    “Perfect timing!” Byron announced. “This is your chance, Steelix! Use Bind!”

    Steelix proudly did as it was told, and captured Ursaring with its brutal tail. It squeezed Ursaring hard, making the situation all the worse for Paul’s second Pokémon.

    Meanwhile, Conway was coughing, trying to keep the dust and sand out of his face. “Are you sure this is safe?!” He called out in fear.

    “Don’t get yourself all torn up!” Byron shouted back. “It’s only temporary! Now, Steelix! Make sure you’ve got a good grip on Ursaring! We’re ending this very soon!”

    Paul grumbled as he tried to think of a plan to get Ursaring out of danger. Being in such close proximity to Steelix, being squashed by its tail, and suffering the effects of Sandstorm was taking an enormous toll on it. Within two moves, Paul was suddenly dealing with a myriad of issues. “Ursaring!” he cried out. “J-just… try to break out of it! If you can toss away his tail, breaking out of the Bind should be easy!”

    Normally it would be, but dealing with the effects of Sandstorm at the same time as Bind was very taxing on Ursaring’s stamina. It attempted to break free from the hold, but could not do so quickly. Meanwhile, Steelix was preparing for its next move as it leisurely countered Ursaring’s attempts to break free by squeezing harder.

    “The coup de grace!” Byron announced. “Steelix, use Ice Fang!”

    Still constricted within Steelix’s tail, Ursaring had no way to avoid the harsh chill of Ice Fang. One moment later, the Sandstorm started to recede. Everyone was able to see clearly again… and what they saw was Ursaring frozen in a block of ice.

    “Hah! It actually froze Ursaring!” Byron cried out in disbelief. “Excellent work, Steelix!”

    Conway stared in horror at the scene. “I-it’s true… Ice Fang has a small chance of freezing its opponent if the attack is successful… Ursaring had no way to even move, so it got the brunt of the attack…” He looked to Paul, who was also staring in abject horror. Conway sighed and shook his head. “Looks like this one’s over.”

    “Ursaring!!” Paul shouted in desperation. “Get out of there! Break out, already!”

    “Save your breath,” Byron insisted with a smirk. “Steelix, put that Ursaring out of its misery with Iron Tail!”

    A brutal slam was heard, followed by the dramatic breaking of the ice. It was a direct hit, and Ursaring was powerless to resist it. Ursaring was sent flying back to its side of the field near Paul. Paul fell to his knees and stared at his Pokémon, who was now rendered unconscious by that final vicious blow.

    It was a depressing and vicious sight to behold. Even Conway was horrified, and it was evident in the tone of his voice. “U-Ursaring is… is unable to battle… victory goes to… S-Steelix.”

    “Yahoooo!” Byron cheered, as if he’d won the entire challenge already. “Against the odds, Steelix! Against the odds! You’re amazing!”

    Steelix seemed appreciative of the comment. Paul was still on his knees, staring down at his fallen Ursaring. He had just been in control of the entire match mere moments ago, and now he was left with only one usable Pokémon while Byron still had two and going strong. Paul remembered what he had said earlier at the Pokémon Center.

    “What’s wrong, kiddo?” Byron called out to Paul. “You forfeiting the match already?”

    Paul shook his head, but still could not look at the man he challenged. He no longer had room for error for the rest of the battle; he had to play this out perfectly, or he’d be walking out of the Gym with no Mine Badge to show for it. In hindsight, he wished he could go back in time and prevent Magmar from being sent to Reggie. He very much doubted Weavile would be able to pull off a win from a relatively healthy Steelix and whatever else Byron had up his sleeve.

    Finally, he took out Ursaring’s Pokéball and silently recalled it as he did with Honchkrow. After a mighty struggle, Paul managed to stand up again and take out his final Pokéball. He grasped it tightly, knowing the odds were well against him now, but knew he couldn’t spend all day deliberating over that. Paul felt extremely sick now; his entire shirt was damp from perspiration, he was now dirty from being within the Sandstorm, his cheeks were burning red (and overall, the Gym was feeling like a desert to Paul by this point), his stomach was doing flip-flops, and he could barely see straight.

    Byron and Conway patiently waited for Paul to collect himself. Conway wondered just how much more Paul could take, because he easily looked as if he could pass out already. Again, he felt he should ask Paul if he still wanted to go on, but already figured that it would be impossible to drag Paul out of the battle now after being this deep into it.

    Paul closed his eyes and gathered his thoughts. He then looked to his company with an intense glare that Byron himself remembered seeing on Brandon when he was this age. It was his “business” look. He looked to Steelix and muttered, “Better stay on your guard. He’ll be trying his best to even out the score.”

    After a deep breath, Paul pressed the button on his Pokéball and threw it out on the field as hard as he could. “Weavile, stand by for battle…!”

    Upon seeing this Dark/Ice-typed Pokémon, Byron smirked. Conway knew this was coming, and he certainly did not envy Weavile right now.

    “Well, it seems our challenger can’t seem to take the heat, Steelix!” Byron said, completely unaware that Paul was actually sick. “How about you do him a favor and take Weavile out quickly? Do it with Iron Trail!”

    Steelix was quick to act on this order and swung its giant metal tail at the Sharp Claw Pokémon.

    But this time, Paul refused to allow his physical limitations to hold him back. “Dodge it!!” He ordered, and Weavile did so with ease. The strategy to getting around a giant Pokémon that was a threat to its typing was to abuse the gift of speed it had. Compared to Weavile, Steelix was slower than a snail, and being significantly smaller than Steelix made Weavile an even harder target to hit.

    Even without Paul’s commands, Weavile was constantly dodging on its own, perhaps assuming that was part of the general routine it would have to go through if it wanted to defeat Steelix. And it had to defeat Steelix: its fate depended on the outcome of this battle. It awaited Paul’s commands when it came to the offensive maneuvers, however.

    “Climb up Steelix, Weavile!” Paul called out. “When you reach its head, jump up and wait for my signal!”

    Weavile briefly looked to Paul and nodded before rapidly dodging through hopping and using its claws to quickly escalate the giant enemy Pokémon with the intent of hitting its weak point for massive damage… whatever it could do to dent Steelix. Steelix was not 100% due to Ursaring giving it a nasty sting in the lower section of its body early in the previous fight, but its condition remained fairly decent.

    However, the faster Weavile climbed and dodged, the trickier it became to actually hit Weavile with a giant glowing tail. It was quickly getting too risky for Byron’s liking; he didn’t want to end up knocking out his own Pokémon just by trying to swat a metaphorical gnat.

    Conway watched this interesting battle with amusement, and even with a bit of hope. “Whatever he said to Weavile must have worked… Weavile looks fantastic right now. Maybe it can actually pull this off. The small size and speed being utilized to Steelix’s disadvantage… that’s simply genius.”

    Byron grumbled, not really having an attack that wouldn’t risk Steelix’s wellbeing as long as Weavile was attached to it. “Don’t let Weavile just stick to you, Steelix!” he ordered. “Shake it off and smash it so we can win this thing!”

    Steelix attempted to do so, but Weavile’s sharp claws and unmatchable speed made it nigh impossible to detach Weavile from its body. And soon enough, Weavile reached the top of Steelix’s head. It jumped up high into the air, waiting for Paul’s signal.

    Paul carefully monitored Weavile’s altitude until it was high up enough to his liking. He threw his arms down to signal Weavile to attack just then. “Now!! Use Brick Break on Steelix’s head!”

    Weavile didn’t even waste a second after receiving the command. It zoomed downwards back to Steelix with its claws glowing menacingly. Byron looked concerned and shouted out to his Pokémon at the last second. “Steelix! Dodge it!!”

    However, Steelix was simply too slow. Weavile’s claws pounded hard into Steelix’s head and sent it crashing down. Byron was aghast at the sight while Paul let a wicked grin escape his lips. After throwing down on Steelix, Weavile continued to beat on Steelix’s head without any sort of command from Paul. Noticing this, Paul blinked at Weavile, a little confused over its actions.

    Conway, however, figured it out. “It’s overcompensating for what happened earlier today,” he hypothesized. “Such determination… just to be able to stay with someone like Paul?”

    Paul couldn’t understand what exactly was going on, but he liked what Weavile was doing. “Keep at it, then! You seem to know exactly what you’re doing, Weavile.”

    Hearing its trainer’s encouragement further fueled Weavile to Brick Break on Steelix’s head to the point where it was nearly paralyzed, and possibly sustaining a concussion before finally passing out.

    “Enough, enough!” Byron called out. “Kid, he’s done enough!”

    Paul peered at Steelix and saw that it was indeed out cold. Weavile simply didn’t notice because it was too focused on beating Steelix into oblivion. “Weavile!” Paul shouted out. “It’s over! You defeated it! Get back over here!”

    Weavile stopped, seemingly broken from a trance it was in. It hopped away from Steelix and back to Paul’s corner, where it looked to Paul for appraisal. Paul didn’t smile at Weavile, for the battle was not over yet, but nodded to it to let Weavile know it did a fantastic job taking down a thirty-foot beast of a Pokémon that had a major type advantage over it.

    Amazed and almost filled with hope, Conway happily made the result official. “Steelix is unable to battle! Victory goes to Weavile!”

    Byron solemnly returned Steelix to its Pokéball and looked to it. “It was my fault for not making a suitable strategy. Don’t blame yourself.” He pocketed Steelix away and pulled out his final Pokéball. The score was now tied up again, both trainers left with one Pokémon each.

    “Keep up that enthusiasm,” Paul advised Weavile. “This isn’t Olivine Gym; Steelix was just the beginning. This is going to be Byron’s trump card. Make sure you don’t allow yourself to get hit.”

    Weavile nodded to Paul, knowing now it was Paul’s only hope for winning a Mine Badge. Even with the type disadvantage and poor defenses, Weavile was determined to end the final battle as quickly as the penultimate.

    “So, it’s down to this,” said Byron, looking down at his final Pokéball. “Just as well. Keeping it tight makes a battle more worthwhile and interesting! Represent yourself, me, and this Gym well, my friend!” He looked to his opponent. “We’ll make our stand here and now! GO!!” He threw the Pokéball out to the battlefield. “Bastiodon!”

    Out came the Shield Pokémon to the battleground; thankfully, this one was hardly thirty feet tall. At a modest four feet and three inches, the ancient reptilian Bastiodon stood firm as Byron’s signature Pokémon.

    “Hey, neat!” Conway exclaimed, nudging his glasses to get a more accurate look. “Bastiodon. I’ve never seen one up close before!”

    Paul sighed, trying to find a weak spot on his final opponent. “Facing it head-on won’t do any good, it looks like. All that armor...” He then stared down at Weavile. “Only attack when I tell you to for this battle. What you did to Steelix was a nice touch, but doing the same thing to Bastiodon will only lead to disaster.”

    Weavile looked up at Paul and nodded nervously. “Wea, wea!”

    Paul pointed out at Bastiodon. “Good. Then get out there and follow my lead!”

    Weavile jumped further out into the field, seemingly ready to brace whatever attack Bastiodon had in store for it.

    “Kid, you’re a fine opponent, but I’m afraid the game ends here!” Byron shouted out, still loaded with confidence. “Bastiodon, rush at Weavile while using Flamethrower!”

    Bastiodon did as it was told, running towards its intended target at a rather undesirable speed, but making up for it by firing off a lengthy Flamethrower attack towards its opponent that was much quicker.

    “Jump!” Paul shouted out. “Dodge it!”

    Weavile did so with relative ease, and quickly had the advantage of being over Bastiodon for a potential attack.

    However, Paul had other ideas. “Now, use Ice Beam! Cover the field!”

    The decision confused Byron and Conway a bit until they noticed what exactly Weavile was doing: by using Ice Beam to cover the battlefield in a sheet of ice, it was a matter of time before Bastiodon had traction issues and crashed itself into a rock. Weavile landed with ease, accustomed to the cold and graceful enough to stay on the ice without any problem.

    “Well, that’s one way to ‘level out’ the playing field,” Conway remarked, smirking. “Most trainers in Paul’s physical condition would’ve cracked by now. Here he is still using strategy rather than haphazardly attacking to get it over with. Maybe I underestimated him… similar to how I did back in Hearthome City.”

    “On your feet, Bastiodon!” Byron ordered. “You can’t accomplish a thing lying down like that!” His Pokémon tried to obey, but it was easier said than done for the awkward and heavy (not to mention tetrapod) Bastiodon.

    Weavile was right behind Bastiodon. It smiled and looked to Paul for the next command.

    Paul nodded back to his Pokémon. “With your best shot, now, since Bastiodon’s distracted! Hit it with Brick Break!”

    Using a similar strategy to the one against Steelix (though not on the head this time), Weavile’s claws shined with bright intensity while landing the attack hard against Bastiodon – specifically, the areas of said Pokémon that weren’t protected with its natural armor. Weavile spread its arms to attack both unexposed sides of Bastiodon’s torso with the attack, leaving the Shield Pokémon howling in pain as it fell flat onto its stomach on the cold ice floor.

    “Marvelous!” Conway exclaimed. The lenses of his glasses shined as he looked closely at the results. “Bastiodon is half-Rock and half-Steel; both types are weak to Fighting moves! It’s four times as susceptible to the type compared to a Pokémon with no strength or weakness to the type! If Paul can keep this up, Bastiodon will be history very shortly even if it has top-notch defenses!”

    Byron grimly nodded at the sight, well aware of his Pokémon’s double-weakness from the beginning and figured Paul would have Brick Break as the central part to Weavile’s strategy after seeing it pummel Steelix to the ground with it alone. “You can endure it, Bastiodon! Show our friend here that you won’t be overcome by a simple double-weakness! Use Iron Defense!”

    Bastiodon growled as its head began to subtly glow a shade of blue, showing Iron Defense in play. Paul frowned, as he was quick to see a problem in the near future because of Bastiodon’s now dramatically-increased defensive power. Weavile had no way of undoing it, meaning Brick Break’s effectiveness was significantly snuffed out. “Fall back, Weavile!” Paul shouted out. “He’s planning something.”

    Weavile obeyed and skid across the ice, distancing itself from its opponent, who was now very close to being able to stand on its own. Back on all four feet, Bastiodon carefully turned around to face Weavile.

    “First thing’s first,” Byron reminded his Pokémon. “Get rid of that pesky ice, Bastiodon!”

    After a mighty roar, Bastiodon rose up on its hind legs, only to quickly descend and smash its two front legs back into the ground. The force of the stomp and the weight of Bastiodon was enough to make the entire field of ice crack and break into pieces, ridding Paul of his advantage in the field. The shockwaves sent off by the stomping was enough to knock Weavile off its feet. Paul and Conway also wobbled around, but were able to remain standing.

    Byron grinned, obviously happy to have the upper-hand once again. “Let’s see if our foe can match up to your defenses! Bastiodon, rush it with Iron Head!”

    Bastiodon rushed at Weavile as its entire body glowed with a blinding aura. Being knocked off its feet, Weavile was unable to react as quickly as it normally would. Paul had no real way of countering the move, but he thought the least he could do was slow down his hefty opponent. “Weavile, use Ice Shard and get out of there!”

    Being a priority move, Ice Shard would assuredly reach Bastiodon before it could reach Weavile with Iron Head. Weavile flung shards of ice to pelt Bastiodon, but it seemed to only barely scratch the Pokémon as it continued to rush at Weavile with full power. Seeing that it didn’t help, Weavile attempted to move out of the way, but still got nailed in the side by the vicious attack. The Sharp Claw Pokémon was thrown into a rock from the force of the blow. It was still conscious, but was significantly wounded.

    “And just like that, Paul’s back to square one…” Conway noted, looking fearful for Weavile as well as the ultimate outcome of the final match. “Ice Beam, Brick Break, and Ice Shard… only one of those moves really affects Bastiodon, and even now that’s been weakened due to Bastiodon’s boosted defense.” He looked to Paul, who seemed rather conflicted on what to do next. “Paul… what can he really do now?”

    “Might as well lose with dignity, kid,” Byron advised Paul. “Your overconfidence just got the better of you this time. Finish Weavile off with Flash Cannon, Bastiodon!”

    Similar to Shadow Ball, Bastiodon didn’t need to move to perform this attack. It charged the energy within its mouth and fired it off when ready. Pure Steel-typed energy flew at the faltering Weavile with a fury.

    Paul knew a direct hit would end it, but he wasn’t content to let it end this way. “Dodge it!” he cried out to Weavile. “Jump over it!”

    It was a close call, as Weavile was still trying to recover from the side-swipe it suffered from the Iron Head attack, but managed to avoid it in the nick of time while holding its injured side with one arm. Flash Cannon instead disintegrated the rocks Weavile was previously lying against.

    “I’ll need to stick with aerial maneuvers to win this,” Paul muttered to himself, grasping his forehead as he started to wonder if his energy would hold out before the battle even ended. “This could’ve been done with two fully-powered Brick Breaks… it’s all going to be improvisation from here on out.” He looked to Weavile, who was still airborne.

    “Take advantage of your position, Weavile!” Paul advised. “Brick Break, again!”

    With only one free arm, Weavile performed the attack with solely that arm, jabbing the claw into Bastiodon’s right side with the super-effective attack once more. Bastiodon cried out, but was able to handle it better due to its enhanced defense. It quickly whirled around to face Weavile and stared it down.

    “Flash Cannon!” Byron called out to his partner. “And this time, don’t miss your target!”

    Weavile was dangerously close to Bastiodon now. This was something Paul was sure Weavile couldn’t handle. “Get out of there!!” he screamed, though he knew the odds were not on his side.

    It was another close call, but Weavile didn’t manage to escape this time. The smaller Pokémon was smacked in the back by Flash Cannon and knocked onto the hard ground as a result. Weavile did not get the brunt of the attack, but it had definitely been hit.

    Conway couldn’t look when this happened. When he managed to open his eyes, he was horrified to find Weavile lying on the ground, twitching. “O-oh, that’s… that’s really not good. Flash Cannon’s like Shadow Ball in that it can potentially lower an opponent’s defense. Weavile’s pretty abysmal at defense to begin with… so if that secondary effect happened…”

    Paul shook his head when he noticed Weavile was still conscious. “No more of this. No room for error…” He knew if Weavile lost this, it would be just as much his fault as it would be Weavile’s, if not more. He knew he was ill, now, and considered himself foolish for going into such an important battle without being 100% himself (he still would never admit his fallacies out loud, however). Paul tried to hold back a violent coughing fit, but could no longer resist it. Conway heard this and looked over. Now he could tell Paul himself was closer to defeat than either of the Pokémon.

    However, it was far too late to back out now. Conway looked back to the battle, hoping it would end soon whichever way the victory went. In a way, he held himself responsible for not standing up to Paul when he knew Paul was making a grave mistake. Conway wondered how Paul even got this far on his own if he not only treated his Pokémon harshly, but himself as well.

    “It pains me to drag on a challenger’s humiliation; really, it does,” Byron claimed. “This was inevitable from the beginning. Admirable that you made it this far with a relatively poor choice of Pokémon, kid, but I’m going to end it here.” He pointed out to Bastiodon. “Bastiodon, use Flamethrower on Weavile! It’s on its last leg!”

    Metaphorically, it was very true. Just as Weavile knelt up, it could feel the increasing heat coming up from behind. It was fearful to see a massive stream of fire headed its way, and any decent hit would end the battle for sure.

    “D-Dodge!” Paul shouted, now completely desperate for a miracle. “Jump in the air again!”

    Once more, Weavile managed to evade the attack by jumping over it. What neither Weavile nor Paul expected was for Byron to catch on.

    “With limited advantages, you’re left with a limited amount of strategies!” Byron pointed out. “Jumping over Bastiodon’s all you can really do; I can see that! So Bastiodon! Redirect that Flamethrower to the air!”

    Suspended in midair, Weavile certainly didn’t expect another blast of fire. Neither did Paul. In haste, Paul commanded whatever came to his mind just then.

    “Try to cancel it out!” Paul hollered, and by now his voice was scratchy and strained due to the excessive shouting and illness taking a toll on his body. “Ice Beam!”

    Ordinarily, Ice was weak to Fire and wouldn’t stand a chance against a Fire-based attack. However, Flamethrower in execution was identical to Ice Beam: a thin, concentrated stream of an element. The attacks possessed the same amount of power, and what no one actually counted on was Flamethrower melting Ice Beam, turning it into water, and being snuffed out due to the dramatic change in element – turning Ice into Water would make the attack strong against Fire instead of weak. Weavile had the advantage in altitude, meaning it literally rained on Bastiodon’s parade.

    No amount of Ice Beam was left when all was said and done, but Flamethrower was taken out completely and the melted remnants of the Ice Beam attack splashed onto Bastiodon, effectively soaking it.

    Weavile landed back onto the field. It was in critical condition, but seeing Bastiodon drenched gave Paul an idea; possibly something inspired from his own ordeals in the rain earlier that day. “Bastiodon’s wet!” Paul pointed out. “So let’s try this! Weavile, use Blizzard!”

    Conway just raised an eyebrow at that command. “Blizzard? Seriously? That’s not going to affect Bastiodon; it’ll just…” Then he paused. “Wait, the secondary effects…” Conway then got it. “He’s going to…!”

    The gem on Weavile’s forehead glowed. Byron was not catching on as quickly about what Paul planned to do, but whatever it was, he wanted to end it first.

    “Don’t let this drag out any longer, Bastiodon!” He shouted out. “Melt that Pokémon! Flamethrower again!”

    A weaker Flamethrower came out from Bastiodon, but it was too late to counter. Weavile fired snowballs and powerful wind shears. The intensity of the coldness coming from the Blizzard attack prevented it from being totally nullified like Ice Beam was, and whatever was melted was thrown right back at Bastiodon by the wind shears and froze to it instantly.

    Paul smiled wickedly, as he couldn’t believe it was actually working. “Keep it up, Weavile! Let’s see how Byron likes his Pokémon being deep-chilled!”

    Now it was hitting Byron. He remembered how his Steelix beat Paul’s Ursaring: freezing it solid and then knocking it out while it remained defenseless. Paul was aiming to return the favor here and now.

    And it worked. As Blizzard dissipated, everyone was witness to the massive Bastiodon being frozen solid in a block of ice.

    “Impossible!” Byron cried out. “Bastiodon, you have to-”

    “It’s over, Byron,” Paul calmly interrupted. “Weavile, one more Brick Break! Send Bastiodon into oblivion.”

    Weavile was more than happy to comply. A fearsome rush followed by two powerful claws to break the ice and finish off Bastiodon occurred, and with a thunderous thud, the Shield Pokémon had been felled.

    In all his days of battling, Byron couldn’t recall the last time he was witness to such a turnabout. But he did know one thing: his old friend Brandon was also notorious for turning things around in his favor in a pinch… even during their childhood days.

    Conway had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming, and with reality confirmed, he cheered. “Bastiodon is unable to battle! Victory goes to Weavile!! That makes the challenger, Paul of Veilstone City the winner…!!”

    Byron conceded with a nod, now taking a mature stance as he looked to Bastiodon. “Looks like we had that one coming, my friend. It was just a lucky circumstance.” He then returned Bastiodon to its Pokéball. “You take it easy for a while, alright?” Byron said to it. “We’ll get ‘em next time.”

    Conway ran out into the field and hugged Weavile, which was unexpected for the latter. “Weavile!” he exclaimed. “You were awesome! The way you turned the tables was like nothing I’ve ever seen before! And best of all, that means you’re safe!”

    Weavile really didn’t know this acquaintance of Paul’s, but it did know that every word he said was the truth. It smiled with a bashful “Wea, Wea” before Conway released his hold.

    “Indeed, that was an amazing display,” Byron admitted, walking over towards Weavile and Conway. “At first it seemed repetitive, but it turns out that you and your friends expertly exploited the critical flaw of my team.”

    “You mean the speed factor, right?” Conway asked.

    Byron nodded. “With great power, endurance, or speed, something must be given back in return. My Pokémon were sturdy, but all of them were slow. I could make the best of that weakness with moves like Gyro Ball, but clever trainers can even make that backfire, as we’ve just seen today.”

    “I have to admit, I was scared there for a moment,” Conway sheepishly admitted. “Paul’s battling style can be unorthodox at times, but it looks like he knew what he was doing all along.” He looked down at Weavile, giving it an encouraging smile. “You know, Weavile, if Paul really wanted to get rid of you, you would’ve been the first one sent out. The likelihood of you beating Bastiodon, Steelix, and Bronzor without getting knocked out is essentially slim to none. The fact that he sent you out last must have meant that he really wanted to keep you; he really did give you a second chance, and you didn’t let him down.”

    To see it that way, Weavile felt a sense of pride and security. It had been scared stiff by its trainer’s indignation earlier, but knowing there was a part of him that genuinely cared and liked Weavile enough to try his best to keep Weavile on made said Pokémon feel liberated, even if it was still reeling from the pain of battle.

    Conway held back a laugh before looking to Paul’s corner. “Well, come on, don’t be shy! Come up and accept your-…”

    He was cut off when he saw Paul no longer standing, but now collapsed to the ground. “Oh, crap!” Conway cried out. “He pushed himself too far! Paul…!” Byron too finally noticed that his challenger had fainted, and followed Conway to care for Paul. Weavile also followed, concerned for its trainer’s health.

    Conway reached Paul first, kneeling down to turn the unconscious Paul onto his back so he could get a feel for his temperature. He was very alarmed after feeling his forehead, which was now burning hot. Paul was flushed, having trouble breathing, and sounded congested. Simply removing his coat did nothing more but buy him some extra time to stay conscious long enough for the entire battle and no longer.

    Byron couldn’t believe it. “You mean to say he was sick all along?!”

    “I tried to talk him out of this, I swear!” Conway panicked, looking guilty. “He kept blowing me off; he was that determined to fight you! I was hoping it was just a simple little cold, but…!”

    “Looks more like a full-blown flu bug,” Byron noted, shaking his head. “Just stay calm, kid. Let’s get him to a bed.” With that, he picked up Paul with relative ease. “Ironic, in a way. A strong battler, but a pretty weak body…”

    Suddenly, someone else entered the battle arena. He rushed over to Byron, and Byron did not seem surprised in the least. It was merely one of his colleagues who worked at the Gym.

    “Cedric,” Byron acknowledged. “What’s the hurry, friend?”

    “We’ve just received a long-distance call, sir,” Cedric reported. “It’s Maylene of the Veilstone Gym. She’s on hold right now, but she requested to speak to someone named Paul… and specifically said it was an emergency.”

    “Emergency?!” Byron said, now surprised. “Well, Paul’s right here in my arms, but you can see he is clearly incapacitated right now. He’s in a bit of an emergency himself.”

    Conway frowned. Sometimes, he hated it when his ominous premonitions turned out to be true. “Let me take the call in his place,” he requested. “You can make preparations for Paul and I’ll find out what Maylene wants.”

    “Quick thinking, Four-Eyes!” Byron complimented, in his own special way. “You really are a man of many talents. You’ll leave Paul to me, then. Go ahead and take the call.”

    “Right,” Conway agreed, nodding. “Alright, where am I going?”

    Cedric took Conway by the hand. “Follow me and I’ll show you. Quickly, please!”

    “You don’t need to tell me twice!” Conway shouted, being dragged away.

    Byron looked down at the confused and worried Weavile before making a move. He found Weavile’s Pokéball and nodded, looking serious. “Your friend isn’t in good shape, Weavile. He shouldn’t mind me returning you to your ball.” With that, he recalled Weavile to its Pokéball and put it in Paul’s bag. After zipping it up and tossing it over his shoulder, he jogged across the arena to find a suitable place for the ailing Paul.



    “Wh-what the…?” Maylene was confused when she was met with a green-haired adolescent in glasses instead of Reggie’s little brother on the video phone. “Sir, can you make your call somewhere else? This is kind of an emergency…”

    Conway shook his head, looking stern. “I’m here on behalf of Paul. I’ll take a message for him.”

    “You are?” Maylene couldn’t possibly imagine someone willing to be associated with Paul. “Who are you?”

    “You may call me Conway,” the bearer of the namesake said with a smile. “And you must be Maylene, the Gym Leader. It’s a pleasure to meet you, albeit in unfortunate circumstances.”

    Maylene wasn’t sure why Paul just wouldn’t take the call himself, but decided to run along with it. What choice did she have? “Ah, yes… yes I am. I’m calling on behalf of his brother, Reggie.”

    “You said it was an emergency, right?” Conway asked. “What happened?”

    “Oh…” Maylene groaned, hating to think about going over the situation in detail. “Reggie was outside training near Mt. Coronet, where there were severe thunderstorms about…”

    Conway recalled the weather report he and Paul watched before arriving at the Gym. “Weird… Paul said there was no way he’d be out in anything like that…”

    “Well, he was wrong!” Maylene said adamantly. “Reggie was out there and he got struck by lightning! He survived and he’s stabilized at the hospital right now… well, in a sense, anyway. We need Paul to return to Veilstone immediately!”

    It freaked Conway out to hear that someone was actually struck by a lightning bolt… and even more, managed to survive. “Th-that’s… really crazy. I’ll try and arrange a trip back to Veilstone City, then, but we’ve got problems on our end, too.”

    “Problems?” Maylene wondered out loud. “What do you mean?”

    Conway sighed. “It’s not like he got struck by lightning or anything, but Paul’s been suffering from a cold ever since he left Jubilife City. Despite my attempts to get him to rest, he refused and went on to battle Byron. The battle’s over now… and Paul won, but… he pushed himself too hard, and he’s literally knocked out himself. That’s where I came in, you see,” he explained.

    Maylene gasped, and then pounded her face with the palm of her hand in frustration. “Oh great, just great! So he’s sick, too…”

    Conway seemed confused. “But you said Reggie survived the lightning strike. And how does that even make him sick? He’d just be severely injured…”

    “He’s sick in the head,” Maylene tiredly clarified. “We need Paul here before Reggie has a total mental breakdown. There’s no way I can contact their father, so Paul really does need to be here for his brother. It may be the only way to cure Reggie. How long will it be before Paul gets better?”

    “I have no idea,” Conway admitted. “He just now passed out. But don’t fret; I’ll arrange a trip to Veilstone City and we’ll both be out of here by morning. We’ll go by ship as much as we can so Paul can recover on the way there. Will that suffice?”

    Maylene nodded nervously. “The quicker, the better. I hope Paul recovers by the time he gets here; I don’t think Reggie’s going to react very well if he sees his little brother in a bad condition.”

    “I’m not making any promises,” Conway pointed out. “But I’ll do the best I can to make sure he’s healthy when he visits his brother. I’ll be at his side the whole time, so there’s no need to worry, alright?”

    “No need to worry…” Maylene murmured, before smiling a bit.

    Conway smiled back. “It’s something a good friend of mine likes to say, but I mean every word of it.”

    Contrary to the situation, Maylene found herself giggling quietly. “A good friend of mine likes to say the exact same thing… thank you, Conway.”

    Conway humbly bowed. “It’s my pleasure to service you all. I’ll go ahead and make traveling arrangements straight away.”

    “I trust Paul’s in good hands,” Maylene said, a bit more at ease with having faith in Conway. “I’ll see you guys soon, then?”

    In a fancy action, Conway saluted to the young Gym Leader. “Indubitably, ma’am! Take care.”

    Maylene nodded. “You, too!”

    And then, the conversation ended with both parties ending their calls simultaneously.

    There were many arrangements Conway was now obligated to make. He looked up and sighed. “No need to worry, indeed. One of these days, I hope these good deeds enable me to see you again… because this is officially a nightmarish adventure.”

    ( TBC )

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  8. #8
    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    (Pretty short and dull after the last chapter, but that would've been a hard act to follow. This is just bridging one plot arc to the next and adding in a little element just to make things all the crazier for this dysfunctional family. Hope you quiet readers are enjoying this!)

    Once traveling arrangements were made, the unconscious Paul was transferred to an infirmary where he could recover more quickly. He and Conway were due to leave Canalave City by ship early the next morning, and the ship would at least take them as far as the Valor Lakefront. From there on, they would have to take a bus to make it to Veilstone City. The distance alone meant it would take a few days for Conway and Paul to reach their destination, but it was the best they could afford to do at this point, especially since Paul was quite incapacitated now and certainly couldn’t make any progress today.

    It was dusk when Paul finally came to. He grunted, sensitive to the fluorescent lights in the room. Though he regained his consciousness, Paul honestly felt no better than he had before he passed out. He was still hot and sweaty, his headache was borderline-unbearable, and even in a clean and sanitary room, Paul found his sinuses congested and had difficulty breathing.

    He was awake, but had no energy to sit up on his own. However, Paul did notice there was a wet cloth over his forehead, as well as a bag of ice. It disappointed and embarrassed him that this wasn’t a dream; he really had succumbed to an illness mainly due to his negligence of his wellbeing. Conway happened to be sitting in a chair and reading a magazine close by Paul. Paul didn’t know this, but Conway had been in that position for hours.

    Upon hearing Paul make a noise, however, Conway looked past the magazine pages to see that Paul had indeed woken up. “Oh, good!” Conway exclaimed, relieved that Paul had woken up. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have been this worried, but seeing Paul succumb to a simple illness the way he did have the elder trainer rather frazzled. “You’re awake… guess that means you’re going to be alright, then.”

    “Alright…?” Paul asked, as he was little confused. It then hit him that his voice was sore and hollow-sounding. He was much sicker than he thought he was. “What… happened?”

    “What happened?” Conway echoed in disbelief. “You’re telling me that you don’t remember? … Well, guess I can’t be too harsh on you. Passing out the way you did probably left you really disoriented.”

    Being told that he passed out only further embarrassed Paul. Nonetheless, he looked as stiff and annoyed as he usually did. “So I’m sick after all. You must be ecstatic that you turned out to be right this time.”

    “Huh?” Conway shook his head. “I’m not a jerk like you, Paul; I wouldn’t be happy about you being sick whether it proved me right or not. I didn’t want it to come to this in the first place. Why else would I have been trying to talk you out of that Gym Battle constantly?”

    “The Gym Battle…!” It just struck Paul that he had been battling with Byron for a Mine Badge at the time he lost consciousness. Slowly, the details of his memories before passing out crept into his mind. “That’s… that’s when I passed out.”

    Conway nodded, setting his magazine aside. “You passed out in the Gym, yes. Scared the living daylights out of all of us, too.”

    Paul gritted his teeth, having a feeling there was only more bad news to come, and he certainly wasn’t in the mood to hear it. But for his own peace of mind, he had to confirm it… “I passed out during the final match. So I… automatically forfeited the battle.”

    “Guess again,” Conway retorted, bringing out Paul’s badge case and opening it up for him to see the contents. With the other Sinnoh Badges Paul had earned, Paul’s eyes widened when he saw none other than the Mine Badge in the case with the others.

    At a loss for words, Paul could only stare and stutter, thinking he was hallucinating all of this.

    Conway couldn’t deny it; seeing Paul react this way was highly amusing, but he knew this was hardly the time to mess with his head. “No, Paul, you aren’t imagining things. You managed to defeat Byron just before you passed out… and you have Weavile to thank for this Mine Badge.”

    “Weavile…” It was all coming back to Paul now: how everything went wrong that morning, how he blamed Weavile for most of it, and how he threatened to release Weavile if it failed to deliver in its scheduled Gym Battle. He remembered how the battle had played out, now… and he remembered that he sent Weavile out last. From that, he knew Conway was telling the truth. But again, he didn’t want to give Conway the satisfaction of seeing him humbled.

    Paul grunted and looked away. “It looks like Weavile made up for its previous blunders today, then. We’re even, and Weavile knows that. It doesn’t need thanks from me or you.”

    “Too late,” Conway pointed out tauntingly. “I thanked Weavile enough for both of us. Face it, Paul: if you wanted Weavile gone, you would’ve sent it out first rather than last.”

    Aggravated to no end, Paul snatched his badge case from Conway and slammed it shut. “I don’t need to explain my methods to you. What matters is that I’ve obtained my Mine Badge now, so it’s time for me to head to Snowpoint City and for you to make tracks in some other direction. I’ve tolerated you about as much as I can stand to at this point. Are we understood?”

    Conway sighed, just then looking a bit more serious, which Paul did not expect. “Paul, the journey to Snowpoint City is going to have to wait for the time being. There’s a family emergency you’re required to tend to at the moment, so we’re leaving for Veilstone City tomorrow morning.”

    Much as he tried to disregard his relatives, the term “family emergency” immediately took effect on Paul. He glared at Conway and grabbed his wrist.

    “What are you talking about?!” He shouted at Conway. “What happened?!”

    Physical violence was something Conway liked to avoid. “Easy, easy!” He urged, gently removing Paul’s warm hand from his wrist. “The Gym got a call in from Maylene, Veilstone’s Gym Leader, shortly after your battle ended. She specifically requested to speak with you, but you were out cold at the time, so I took the call for you. She was calling on your brother’s behalf, Paul.”

    It disgusted Paul to realize that Reggie was serious about letting someone like Maylene look after his place while he was out training. At the same time, he was impressed that Reggie had remained true to his word and took his training seriously for his upcoming battle with Brandon. Still, the “family emergency” element of the call came back to mind, and Paul didn’t want to waste time in learning the specifics of such a call.

    “Why Maylene?” He asked. “Why couldn’t Reggie call me himself?”

    Conway closed his eyes and looked down, solemn and calm as he broke the news to Paul. “Remember when you said there was no way Reggie would be careless enough to train outside when there was severe weather about? Apparently you were way off on that, because Reggie was found near Mt. Coronet where the worst part of the storm system was. According to Maylene… Reggie was struck by lightning.”

    This sufficiently stunned Paul. Not only was he dead wrong about his brother’s actions, but hearing that his sweet, gentle brother had been the victim of one of nature’s harshest elements set a shock throughout his whole body. Paul had recovered enough to be sitting up on his own by this point, but now he’d fallen back against his pillow as Conway’s words sunk into him. Paul was still conscious, but he certainly felt as if he could faint again.

    It pained Conway to see this reaction from Paul, but knew it was only expected… even out of someone as cold-hearted and sturdy as Paul.

    “The good news is… Reggie survived the lightning strike,” Conway clarified, which at least put Paul at ease a little. The short amount of time that passed between being informed of the lightning strike and being informed that Reggie survived it felt like hours of pain and regret on Paul’s end… not that he would admit it.

    Still, Paul couldn’t help but look paranoid as he looked to Conway. “And the bad news…?”

    “Well…” Based on the limited information Maylene gave him, Conway was unsure of how to answer the question, but figured for Paul, a bad answer was better than no answer at all. “I’m not sure how much this has to do with the lightning strike since she didn’t go into detail very much, but apparently your brother’s on the verge of a mental meltdown. No one is able to contact your dad, so Reggie really needs you to be there for him in his time of need, okay?”

    “A mental meltdown…” Paul pondered over such a thing, as he never heard such words and his brother’s name used in the same sentence before. He couldn’t even imagine what the situation would be like… and deep down, that frightened him a bit. “If you put it that way, then… I’ll have to go. The old man can’t be relied on for anything, even though this is exactly the kind of thing he should be doing if he were a real father.”

    Conway nodded in agreement. “Why is it that no one can get ahold of Brandon, anyway? Is he just that antisocial?”

    Paul shrugged, pretending not to care about the way his father did things. “He considers himself a special case because he has a flying pyramid. The old man is never in the same place twice in Kanto, so it’s impossible to pinpoint his exact location. For whatever reason, he never really installed communication devices into his Battle Pyramid. There’s also the fact that he’s rarely in that thing because he spends so much of his time digging up ancient artifacts…”

    “Very peculiar,” Conway noted, adjusting his glasses. “A father who’s practically invisible to the entire world and even his family… no wonder you don’t like the guy.”

    “Enough about him,” Paul snapped, trying to get out of bed. “I’d better get moving right away to Veilstone.”

    Conway was quick to stop Paul and force him back into bed. “Hey, hey, no need for that. You’re still sick and you’ve got no business moving about until you recover, okay? Don’t worry about getting back to Veilstone City.” He smiled, happy to brag about his recent accomplishments. “I’ve taken the liberty of booking us on a ship that’ll take us to the Valor Lakefront. From there, we’ll reach Veilstone by a bus that’ll be waiting for us. We’re setting out first thing in the morning, so you need to get as much rest as you can so you can at least board the ship without falling over. I’m going with you to make sure you get better before we reach Veilstone City.”

    Paul looked annoyed again, mainly because he knew he was in yet another situation where he couldn’t rid himself of Conway. Still, at least he meant well. “I’m not a baby, Conway. I can take care of myself.”

    “Big talk for someone who ignored my advice earlier today and ended up passing out during a Gym Battle,” Conway snidely reminded him. “I’m beginning to suspect this inability to care for yourself trait runs in the family, you know. Either way, you might as well rest up as much as you can. Since we’re so far away from Veilstone as it is, we’ll be at sea for at least a couple of days. You have to get better, because Maylene told me that Reggie might not take it very well in his fragile mental condition if he saw you the way you look right now.”

    Seeing it that way, Paul suddenly didn’t want to argue with Conway about his physical health any longer. Even he couldn’t deny he was well beyond sick due to his own carelessness. He wasn’t sure what to expect from his brother, and in some way he felt partially responsible for the breakdown, but couldn’t quite put his finger on why.

    But as Paul thought about Reggie, something else came to mind; something important.

    “Alright,” Paul conceded, looking down and refusing to face Conway. “I’ll take it easy during the trip back home. But I have a favor to ask of you, Conway.”

    “A favor, huh?” Conway mused, leaning back on his chair. “Promise you won’t run out on me if I run an errand for you?”

    Paul rolled his eyes. “What would I have to gain from doing that, especially in my condition? I want you to run an errand for me since I can’t do it myself now.”

    “Ah, alright then,” Conway said, giving Paul the benefit of the doubt. “What would you like me to do?”

    “Listen well,” Paul instructed. “Since we’re leaving Canalave early tomorrow, I want you to go on ahead to the library right now. You can get whatever it was you wanted, but I want you to pick up something for me.”

    Conway grinned. “Why, that’s practically a privilege rather than an order! Was there something specific you wanted me to find?”

    “Yes,” Paul said with a nod. “Regigigas: I want you to take any book or article that mentions that Pokémon. Anything regarding Regirock, Registeel, and Regice should suffice as well. It’s imperative that you dig up every last bit of information that library has to offer about Regigigas. Since it’s the largest library in the Sinnoh region, I expect you’ll find something about it.”

    “Regigigas, huh?” Conway mused, smirking. “I think I remember hearing legends about that one… why are you so interested in that one, Paul?”

    Paul sighed, waving his hand dismissively. “I’ll explain it when you get back. Just hurry over there before the library closes.”

    Conway proudly stood up and thrust a fist in the air with pure enthusiasm. “Aye, aye!” He then resumed a normal stance as he looked down at his young companion curiously. “Anything you need before I go, then?”

    “Mm…” Paul took the wet cloth and bag of ice (which had mostly melted by this point) from his forehead. “More ice and a new cloth. I’m guessing it’s still just me who’s burning up in here.”

    “You would be correct,” Conway casually affirmed. “With any luck, we’ll break that fever by sunrise. I’ll let the nurse know what you need and be on my way to the library, then!”

    Just mere moments after saying that, Conway rushed out of the room to perform his duties. For having to do so many things for such an ungrateful acquaintance, Conway was certainly taking it in stride. Paul could only look on, flabbergasted, until his condition would no longer allow him to sit up. Grunting, he plopped his head back against his pillow and closed his eyes. Paul was feeling miserable in more ways than one, now.







    At the same time, far off in Kanto, the party of Misty, Tracey, and Brandon had just arrived at Pallet Town. By this point, the sun had set and it was quickly getting dark outside, so the group was fortunate to reach civilization just in time.

    “In my experience, I’ve known Pokémon Professors to be rather busy,” Brandon noted, looking down at his younger traveling companions. “You’re certain Professor Oak will not be offended by having a visitor over this late?”

    “Like I said, he loves having visitors,” Tracey assured him. “It’s not like it’s his bedtime or anything. He’s been known to pull all-nighters pretty frequently.”

    “Really?” Misty asked. “What in the world is so important for him to be doing at odd hours of the night?”

    Tracey shrugged. “Unfortunately, I can never stay awake long enough to know what he specifically does at night. But I imagine he has less free time to dedicate solely to research since he’s taking care of Ash’s Pokémon, and that’s even with my help.”

    The familiar name struck a chord with the Frontier Brain. “Whose Pokémon did you just say the Professor was taking care of?”

    “Our friend, Ash Ketchum’s Pokémon,” Misty answered. “He’s a close friend and former traveling companion of ours.”

    Tracey nodded happily. “We’ve been in a multitude of wacky adventures together in the good old days… Ash is from Pallet Town, but right now he’s in the Sinnoh region.”

    “He’s already been through this region, the Orange Islands, Johto, and Hoenn prior to Sinnoh,” Misty pointed out. “Since he’s traveled so much, he’s acquired a lot of Pokémon during his journey. But you know a trainer can only keep six Pokémon at a time…”

    “… And he’s made a habit of starting fresh in each new region he enters,” Tracey added. “So after every League, Ash comes by here to drop off the Pokémon he acquired in that region. Professor Oak and I look after and take care of the Pokémon while he’s gone.”

    “Of Pallet Town…” Brandon muttered. He then looked sharply to the young trainers before him. “Yes, I am familiar with him. He is one of the very few trainers who has ever beaten me and earned my Brave Symbol.”

    “Hey, that’s right!” Tracey exclaimed, pointing at Brandon. “Ash did challenge the Battle Frontier just before he went to Sinnoh! I knew he conquered it… I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection earlier.”

    Misty was notably impressed. “Wow… Ash has come a long way to be able to beat someone like Brandon. I traveled with him when he was just starting out… and to think he’s actually Frontier Brain material now…”

    “Obviously, he declined the offer to become one,” Brandon reminded. “And it took him three attempts before he finally defeated me, but he’s quite talented for his age, I’ll admit.”

    “That’s why Ash didn’t want to settle for being a Frontier Brain,” Tracey said. “He’s aiming to be a master… so don’t be surprised if you see him in the Elite Four one day.”

    “Or better yet, the Champion of the Elite Four!” Misty gushed, but then giggled. “Well, he hasn’t even won a League Conference yet for all of his experience. Maybe one day he’ll get his chance.”

    Brandon nodded. “I’m sure he will. Interesting that he’s in Sinnoh now, though… that’s where I grew up. My kids are still living there.”

    “Oh, wow…” Misty mumbled, taken aback that this gruff old man was actually a parent. “You have children…? I had no idea…”

    “I get that a lot,” Brandon admitted, rolling his eyes. “The little one is currently battling Gyms to qualify for the Sinnoh League Conference as well. Perhaps the two will cross paths one day… based on what you’ve said about your friend, they are equally experienced. If they were to meet and battle, it would be quite a sight.”

    “It’s a pity you’re stuck here in Kanto,” Tracey sympathized. “That would be so exciting to see…”

    “Oh! Look!” Misty interrupted, pointing ahead. “There’s Professor Oak’s Lab! And I see the lights are still on, so he’s definitely home.”

    Brandon smiled at the sight. “Excellent. Finally, I should be able to get some answers about what I’m looking for.”

    “If Professor Oak doesn’t know, then I highly doubt anyone else in Kanto will either,” Tracey assured, knocking on the front door. “But even if he doesn’t, he can always contact Professor Elm, Birch, or Rowan to see if they know anything.”

    The door opened, revealing a pleasantly-surprised Professor Samuel Oak. “Back so soon, Tracey? And I see you’ve brought guests this time!”

    Misty nodded and waved. “Nice to see you again, Professor Oak.”

    “And this is the Pyramid King himself: Brandon!” Tracey introduced. “He came to us at Cerulean Gym wanting to speak with you personally.”

    Professor Oak grinned, shaking Brandon warmly by the hand. “Yes, Ash has told me all about you, Brandon! Your reputation certainly precedes you, but it is a pleasure to see you, of course.”

    “The feeling is mutual,” Brandon assured as he and the others entered the Professor’s home. “I’ve come here on urgent business, and you are my last hope to obtain any possible information on a certain Pokémon I’ve been tracking down for months.”

    Professor Oak nodded, absorbing the message thoroughly. He gestured towards Misty and Tracey and gave a suggestion. “Tracey, it happens to be dinnertime for the Pokémon. Would you and Misty mind terribly to take care of them while I speak with this prestigious Frontier Brain?”

    “Ah, not a problem, Professor!” Tracey consented. “That alright with you, Misty?”

    Misty nodded enthusiastically. “Sure. Let’s do it!”

    As the young trainers left to tend to Ash’s Pokémon and the others, Professor Oak and Brandon sat down on a sofa to discuss the matter at hand.

    “So,” the Professor started. “You say you’re looking for a particular Pokémon. Is this a rare one; perhaps a legendary?”

    “I believe the one I seek is both rare and legendary, considering I have yet to find any solid information on it yet. However, I have relatively quickly discovered and captured three legendary Pokémon who are associated with it.”

    “Three others, you say…” Professor Oak muttered, grabbing a book and looking for it. “And the name of the Pokémon you seek is…?”

    “Regigigas,” Brandon said succinctly. “I have already acquired Regirock, Registeel, and Regice. Regigigas is the alleged leader of the other three.”

    Professor Oak nodded as he flipped through the pages of his book. “Regigigas… yes, I do believe I’ve heard of that one before. If I recall correctly, I had talked about the subject with Professor Rowan some time ago.” He looked to Brandon with an apologetic look. “Unfortunately, the conversation was a brief one. Concrete information on Regigigas is indeed scarce.”

    Brandon crossed his arms and huffed. “At least you know about it. That’s more than I’ve gotten from anyone else in this region. So you do know the basics… Is there anything else you discussed with Professor Rowan that would help me find it?”

    “Unfortunately, I don’t believe this book will help you,” Professor Oak said regretfully. “This is a general index for the known species of Pokémon in this world, so it only gives bare-bones details you probably already know. It cites that Regigigas is the ‘Colossal Pokémon’, and an enduring legend states it had towed continents with ropes. Additionally, it is said to have made Pokémon shaped in its image from rocks, magma, and a mountain of ice.”

    Brandon frowned and nodded. “So it implies that my Regirock, Registeel, and Regice were created by Regigigas itself. There’s nothing in regards to where it can be located if it still exists in this world?”

    Professor Oak shook his head and closed the book. “Not a word. I suppose you already checked the library and museum in Pewter City… that would be your best bet for finding information on the Pokémon in this region.”

    “Of course I already checked Pewter City,” Brandon grumbled. “It was the first place I hit because I knew it was the most-likely area of Kanto that could help me find Regigigas. After failing to find information in Pewter City, I’ve traversed through the entire Kanto region ever since, but I’ve yet to get closer to finding any specific, concrete answers.”

    “As a Frontier Brain, I understand you’re confined to Kanto,” Professor Oak acknowledged. “But not all hope is lost. I have the technology to see if there are places in other regions that might have informative literature on Regigigas. I can go online and peruse through every library’s listing in Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and so on until I find a match. Once we find the appropriate book, we can simply order it so it won’t be necessary for you to leave this region.”

    Brandon was elated to hear this. “That is a brilliant idea! I must thank you for going through the trouble of doing this for me, Professor.”

    “Ah-ah,” the Professor pointed out. “Not just for you, but for the sake of fulfilling my own duty as a Professor to document and study every species of Pokémon in this world. Still, it is my pleasure to assist you, Brandon. Follow me and we shall search through the library databases and see what is available.”

    Brandon silently nodded and followed Professor Oak to his computer station. He sat and watched Professor Oak scan all library databases across every region to find any material containing information on Regigigas. Several towns and cities possessed museums and libraries, thus making the process long and arduous. Brandon grew increasingly tense as every individual search turned up negative, without any material on Regigigas whatsoever.

    The hours passed… Johto had been cleared; there was no information on Regigigas there. Some time later, Hoenn’s results ended up the same. Both men grew concerned as they began to scan through Sinnoh’s databases.

    “Brandon, you came from Sinnoh,” Professor Oak noted as the scanner went on. “Did you try to find out anything about the Pokémon before you moved here?”

    “Unfortunately, that was not even on my mind until well after I arrived here to take up the Frontier Brain position,” Brandon responded. “It was many years ago since I’ve set foot in my home region… I’m sure many things have changed since then. But Byron, one of my friends from my childhood, is a Gym Leader in Canalave City these days. I recall there being a library in Canalave City…”

    Coincidentally, the scanner was now analyzing the data from the listings of Canalave City’s library. Professor Oak smiled at this.

    “We may be in luck yet, then. Canalave’s Library seems to be the largest one in the Sinnoh region… possibly of all regions,” he pointed out. “You’re more than welcome to use my video phone to contact Byron if we find anything in this library. He could send the materials to you personally.”

    Brandon smiled at this. “Yes, that would work out nicely… it has been a while since I’ve spoken with him. Most likely, he would throw a fit for me not calling more often, but he is every bit of an archaeologist as I am. We were rivals back in the day… he would be more than happy to help out.”

    Just then, the scanner beeped. Both men looked excited, as it meant that the computer had finally found something regarding the Pokémon they were looking for.

    After a pause, Professor Oak’s excitement faded. “… one result found in Canalave City… and in Sinnoh overall. I suppose that’s better than nothing at all…”

    “Beggars can’t be choosers,” Brandon reminded him. “I will take whatever I can get. Reserve that book so I can give Byron a call to mail it out to us.”

    As Professor Oak proceeded to do so, he frowned. “… There’s a slight problem with that, Brandon,” he said with a tone of disbelief.

    Brandon glared. “And what might that problem be?”

    Professor Oak pointed to the screen. “See for yourself; it seems that the book has already been checked out… less than an hour ago, in fact.”

    “What?!” Brandon shoved the Pokémon Professor out of the way to see the screen, which clearly showed what was told to him. “Someone checked out the only book on Regigigas in the entire world?! Who could possibly…?!” He looked sharply to Professor Oak. “Find out who checked out that book! I want that person’s name and information immediately!”

    Professor Oak inched away, looking uncomfortable now with Brandon’s temper. “Well, you see… not only do I not have the ability to find such information, I believe it’s… illegal, in a way. Privacy regulations and whatnot… the library won’t just tell us who checked the book out.”

    Brandon stood up; and after nearly two hours of standing, he was ready to get out of his chair, anyway. “You’re sure of this?”

    “Well, yes,” Professor Oak said, sounding fairly sure of himself. “But normally, the books must be returned within a week or so. All you’d have to do is wait a week until it becomes available again, and then…”

    “We can’t count on that happening!” Brandon interrupted. “We have no way of knowing if the one who took that book has any intention of returning it within its due date, or ever. I have to know who took that book, Professor. No average person would check out a book on such an elusive Pokémon without a purpose outside of simply reading the book!”

    By now, the Professor was growing tired of this tirade. “You honestly believe someone is using that book for another purpose and will never return it to the library?”

    “I have my reasons for my beliefs,” Brandon assured. “I have no choice but to go to Canalave City myself and get the answers directly from the source.”

    “G-go to Canalave City?!” Professor Oak couldn’t believe he suggested such a thing. “You mean you’re going to Sinnoh?! But you simply can’t do that, Brandon! You have duties here as a Frontier Brain in Kanto! You are their leader! What will happen if you leave?”

    Brandon shook his head. “I will not be gone for long. I can put one of the others in charge in my absence. Anabel, Spenser, Noland… any of them would be suitable taking my place temporarily. Besides that, a new Battle Frontier has opened up. Any trainer aiming to conquer a Battle Frontier can always visit the new site.”

    “Oh, I believe I heard about that!” Professor Oak exclaimed. “The new Frontier Brains are some of the lucky few who have defeated you, correct…?”

    Brandon nodded. “Tower Tycoon Palmer, another old acquaintance of mine, leads the new Frontier. I helped design the blueprints of the new Battle Frontier, and I believe it will be quite a challenge for anyone who dares to try and conquer it.”

    Professor Oak nodded. “And to think Ash would have been one of them if he accepted your offer…”

    “That’s why there are fewer of them at this time,” Brandon noted. “But the others are indeed trainers of elite status; none of them had to beat me in three tries. His appearance is deceiving, but Thorton is the epitome of a strategic battler, so he will run the new Battle Factory. Dahlia was also deceptive in her appearance and demeanor, but she is one who knows how to battle against the odds... which is why she will represent the Battle Arcade. Then there is Darach, as well as his mistress, Lady Caitlin, who run the Battle Castle. They insisted on running the facility together. Then there is Argenta… she certainly came off as somewhat full of herself, but it was nice to have another older trainer to balance things out. She will be running the Battle Hall.”

    “Things are unbalanced on your turf, you mean?” Professor Oak asked with amusement.

    Brandon rolled his eyes. “Let’s just say many of them are rather… ‘eccentric’ in their own ways. Greta can be hyperactive, Anabel has been acting strange lately even though she’s usually one of the more mature Brains of the group, Tucker is a little… flashy for my liking… Lucy is…” He paused. “I suppose I am being overly-critical, aren’t I?”

    Professor Oak chuckled nervously. “I’m sure it’s only because you’re tense about the book situation…”

    “Oh, right!” Brandon shouted, now reminded of the current situation. “I’ll have to contact all of the other Frontier Brains of Kanto to let them know about my temporary departure.”

    On that subject, the Professor gulped. “Y-you’re certain you want to go through with this?”

    “That book may be the only way for me to find and obtain Regigigas,” Brandon said, dramatic in tone. “If it is lost or misplaced in any way by the one who took it, then I may never achieve my goal of obtaining the rightful leader and creator of the Regis I own. If you would, Professor, please contact the port in Vermilion City and book a trip to Canalave City as soon as possible. It isn’t worth the risk to try flying the Battle Pyramid over a long distance at sea. I will contact my assistant and have him inform Scott and the Frontier Brains that I will be taking a temporary leave of absence.”

    “Ah…” Professor Oak looked uneasy as he walked towards his video phone. “You’re certain Scott will allow this?”

    Brandon nodded confidently. “I have tenure. Since I started this position as the Pyramid King when the Battle Frontier first opened to the public and have never asked for a break or a vacation in all the years I’ve worked there, I am certain Scott and the others will see that I have earned this ‘break’ and it is for a good cause, both for my own gain and the Battle Frontier’s.”

    Professor Oak sighed; it was clear now that there was no way to convince Brandon otherwise, and he had logical reasons to support his stubborn nature on this issue. “Very well, then. Vermilion Port should still be open, so I’ll book you for the next available trip to Canalave…”

    “Excellent,” Brandon said, smirking. “I appreciate your efforts, Professor. I feel the day I will encounter Regigigas will indeed be soon.”






    “Check it out, Sleeping Beauty!” Conway announced on his way back into Paul’s room at the infirmary. “The only book in the entire Sinnoh region that has what you’re looking for: Legends of Sinnoh – the God among the Regi Trio.” He waved the book out so Paul could see it. Paul had been sleeping just then, but was easily awakened by Conway’s sudden reappearance.

    “Back already, I see…” Paul muttered, rubbing his eyes. “You only found one book about Regigigas in the entire library…?”

    Conway shook his head, pointing at Paul. “First of all, I was at the library from the time I left right until it closed, so I was there for roughly two hours. I’d hardly consider that being gone for a brief time.” At that, Paul only rolled his eyes. “Secondly, yes; there’s apparently only one book with any real information about Regigigas in all of Sinnoh. The lady who checked the books out told me it’s probably the only book in the entire world that has such information, so we’re lucky to be in the right region that has it. I believe she told me much of the material was taken from transcripts originally written in Snowpoint City…”

    “Wait, wait,” Paul said, holding Conway up. “Snowpoint City…? ‘Legends of Sinnoh’? Are you implying that Regigigas is native to Sinnoh of all regions?”

    “Not sure,” Conway admitted with a shrug. “The title certainly implies as much, doesn’t it? I didn’t get a good chance to look through it, so I’m not sure what it’s all about yet. Thankfully, we have a lengthy journey across the sea we’ll be embarking on tomorrow morning, so that’ll give us plenty of time to absorb all of the information in that book and glean the details of whatever you deem is so necessary about Regigigas.”

    Paul reached out towards the book to take it from Conway. “Well, I might as well get a head-start on it-”

    He was cut off by Conway backing away so that Paul could not reach it from his bed. “Ah-ah-ah,” he scolded. “Like I said, we’ll have plenty of time to read tomorrow and the next day or two while we sail off to the Valor Lakefront. You need your rest, Paul. Sick as you are, you’ll need all the strength you can muster just to be able to board the ship and reach our quarters without falling over. No offense; I’m just not looking forward to becoming your human crutch.”

    A low growl was heard on Paul’s end as he bore a menacing glare towards Conway. “Don’t you dare tell me what I can and can’t do.”

    “This coming from a guy who can’t take care of himself,” Conway muttered in a mocking tone. “Don’t forget that your health may affect your brother quite severely if he sees that you’re sick. If he’s mentally unhinged already, the last thing you’d want to do is further unhinge him. Am I right, or am I right?”

    Paul had forgotten about that, and almost the whole reason why he was returning to his hometown in the first place. Not because he was unconcerned for his brother’s wellbeing, but because he was so ill that he appeared to have something of a short-term memory loss.

    “Fine,” Paul grumbled in defeat. “I’ll just go back to sleep, then. You were interrupting that anyway.”

    “My apologies, then,” Conway said with a bow, though it somehow sounded insincere. “Just wanted to let you know about the book. I shall turn in as well, since we both need to get up bright and early tomorrow and start our new journey.”

    Paul huffed as he lied back on his pillow and covered himself in his sheets again. “You realize the only reason I’m letting you join me this time around is because I’m sick, right?”

    “I am well aware of that,” Conway casually noted as he prepared himself for bedtime. “I have a feeling our little partnership will be making some unexpected twists and turns, regardless. We’ll see what the future has in store for us…”

    Paul covered his head and turned away from Conway, trying to hold in another frustrated growl. “Just keep that nonsense in your dreams, shut up, and go to sleep already.”

    “Of course, of course,” Conway said, climbing into a neighboring bed and turning out the light. “Goodnight, Paul…” He sung out softly.

    All Conway got in response was an embittered “Whatever…” as the two quickly drifted into a peaceful slumber to prepare for the journey ahead of them, and the anxiety-inducing task that lay before the both of them.


    ( TBC )

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  9. #9
    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    (... uh... this chapter is obscenely long. I'll just link you to my ff.net explanation for this. You probably already know why I went to town on this one. Have fun. Don't say I didn't warn you.)



    Ever restless, Brandon stood at the bow of the ship in the middle of the night as he crossed the seas between regions for the first time in years. Professor Oak managed to book him on a late-night shipping appointment, which Brandon did not mind, as he did not care for comfort or anything of the sort, so long as he made it to Sinnoh as soon as he could. Since he had to leave so soon (and travel quite a distance from Pallet Town to Vermilion City in a short amount of time), he left Professor Oak to send the message to Scott and the remaining Frontier Brains of his temporary departure as well. Of course, Brandon thanked the Professor for all his hard work and assured him that he would not return to Kanto empty-handed.

    “Ah, sir,” a sailor suddenly interrupted Brandon’s moment of deep thought. “We won’t arrive at our destination until daybreak. It’s probably best you get some rest and-”

    “Brandon.” The Frontier Brain curtly interrupted. “I despise the formalities.” He looked to the sailor with a stiff frown. “You said we would not reach Canalave City until daybreak?”

    The sailor flailed a bit and nodded with a slightly panicked look on his face. “Yes, s-… Brandon! Daybreak! Roughly 5 or 6 o’clock, the Captain estimates! I-I’m sorry I offended you, but still, I must insist you return to your quarters and rest until we disembark...”

    After a moment of consideration, Brandon conceded with a nod. “Admittedly, it’s hard to sleep knowing I’m finally returning to my home region after seven long years… but I have a job to do. I can reminisce after I retire.” He looked to the sailor. “Where would my designated quarters be, now?”

    “Oh, my apologies!” The sailor said, bowing. “Follow me and I’ll show you. Don’t worry; I’ll be sure to wake you up when we reach Canalave’s port.”

    Brandon gave a slight smile of contentment at that as he was led to where he would sleep for the next few hours.









    On the verge of daybreak, an alarm clock sounded off. Conway was quick to jolt out of his bed and smack the noisemaker off, as he hated sudden loud, beeping sounds. He yawned loudly, usually not accustomed to waking up at 05:00, but it was a necessity for today in order to be prepared adequately to board the boat at the nearby port that would take himself and Paul on a long ride to the Valor Lakefront.

    After scrambling for his glasses on the side table and putting them on, he looked to Paul, who was still soundly asleep with a cloth and a bag of what was once ice over his forehead; now water. Conway stretched out a bit before approaching Paul and removing the items from Paul’s forehead and getting a feel of his temperature by pressing the back of his hand against his forehead. This was beginning to stir Paul, but Conway was getting a feel of his companion’s progress before he fully awakened. Conway frowned, as it felt like Paul’s fever had not broken after all as he hoped it would. He wondered if he simply didn’t give Paul enough time to rest due to the fact that they had to wake up earlier than usual today, or…

    “Maybe Byron was onto something when he said Paul had a weak body,” Conway muttered, still discontent as he removed his hand and went to get a thermometer. By now, Conway had made enough noise for Paul to be disturbed. Once all the lights had been turned on, Paul could no longer resist the outside world and opened his eyes.

    Paul couldn’t hide it: he looked and felt like crap.

    He looked to the bed aside him and noticed Conway not present, but could hear him meddling in the bathroom nearby, so Paul knew he was still around. Wearily, Paul looked out the window to see that the sun had not yet risen, though daybreak was nigh. He lurched over to look at the clock, which was on Conway’s side of the bedroom, and his eyes widened in disbelief.

    “Are you kidding me?!” He complained, throwing his arms up. “You said ‘first thing in the morning’, not ‘before sunrise’, Conway! What were you thinking?!”

    “Sorry I wasn’t more specific about that,” Conway called out from the bathroom. “Yesterday was rather hectic, and that’s something you can’t argue with.” He came out with a thermometer in one hand while brushing his hair with the other. “Since you’re up, would you mind taking your temperature for me? I’m afraid your fever hasn’t quite broken yet, so you’re going to have to go straight back to bed once we get boarded and into our rooms if we’re to have you completely healthy when we reach Veilstone City.”

    Paul grumbled and took the thermometer from Conway’s hand. “You said for certain that it would be broken by now,” he reminded him, before sticking the thermometer in his mouth and patiently waited for his result.

    Conway sighed and shrugged, gathering his belongings together and setting out a fresh pair of clothes to wear for the day. “I forgot to factor in the whole ‘waking-up-earlier-than-usual’ thing. My bad. Still, it should just be a minor setback… like I said, for the distance we’ll be at sea, there’s no way you’ll still have that fever when we reach Veilstone City.” Just then, the thermometer beeped, indicating that it was finished reading Paul’s temperature. “Ah, take it out!” Conway instructed. “I want to see how well we’ve progressed since yesterday’s readings.”

    Paul glared at Conway as he followed his orders and took out the thermometer and looked at the readings. Before giving an answer, he looked to Conway again with a skeptical look. “What exactly was my temperature yesterday?”

    “103.5 degrees,” Conway reported automatically, as if he memorized the detail. “Way above the human average, and borderline-dangerous. Why? What does it say now?”

    Paul looked down and sighed. “102.5 degrees.”

    Conway’s jaw dropped, and his arms fell flat to his sides; he even dropped his hairbrush. “No way. All we went through to make sure you were going to make it out alright, and you only went down a single degree? We even had wet cloths and ice over your head almost constantly!”

    “Obviously, it wasn’t enough,” Paul grumbled, tossing the thermometer aside. Just then, he was caught up in another fit of coughing, and Conway winced as he watched.

    “Yeah…” Conway said after Paul’s coughing subsided. “I just realized your throat’s still sore and everything. Guess we should’ve invested in some cough syrup…”

    Paul rolled his eyes. “Didn’t I tell you at the Pokémon Center that it was an allergy infection?”

    Conway’s eyes narrowed, as he had long since been fed up with Paul’s dismissal over how bad off he really was. “It was more than that and you know it,” he said flatly. “It might’ve not gotten this bad if you just listened to me in the first place.”

    “If I listened to you, I wouldn’t have a Mine Badge right now,” Paul retorted, now just looking childishly stubborn.

    “Maybe not right now, but you would’ve had one eventually and you wouldn’t have had to sacrifice your health for it!” Conway countered, which Paul was too tired and sick to fight against. After a moment of awkward silence, a frustrated Conway moved to his side of the bed to gather his fresh set of clothes and a towel.

    “We’re due to board at 06:30, so go on and get dressed,” Conway coldly instructed without looking at Paul. “I’m going to take a quick shower. You can get yours after you finish your sleep on the ship. When you get dressed, I implore you to seek a nurse and get some medicine to help out the coughing and high fever. Apparently you’re a little high-maintenance.”

    Paul growled at the insult. With the sudden adrenaline running through him, he wanted to punch Conway in the face then and now. He rushed up to do so, but was simply too slow. By the time he got up on his feet, Conway had already made his way to the bathroom and shut the door. He locked it as well… not that Paul would dare assault Conway… or anyone else… but especially not Conway in the bathroom of all places. It was then that Paul experienced a bit of vertigo as he stood. He staggered and slumped against a wall for support.

    Much as he hated to admit it, Conway was right. Paul needed to see a nurse for more advanced medicine if he was ever going to overcome this in time to see his brother. This wasn’t the first time Paul had to deal with a nasty illness, truth be told… usually, he was lucky enough to be close to home and be cared for by Reggie. Still, Paul couldn’t recall the last time he felt this bad… and he certainly never fainted during any Gym Battles, either. The fact that he fainted during a Gym Battle where the Leader was an acquaintance of his father’s told Paul that Brandon himself would be hearing of this eventually… and Reggie, too.

    He knew Reggie would blow a gasket, as always. What mattered now is that he just needed to present himself as being healthy to his brother when Reggie himself was presently mentally unstable. As Paul staggered over to see a nurse, he briefly wondered what his father’s reaction would be… but dismissed the thought, believing he shouldn’t care what his father would react or think. Especially due to the circumstances surrounding his older brother, Paul despised his father more than ever now. He never would have imagined as he approached the nurse for medicine that said father was just a short distance away from him within the same city limits as his ship came into Canalave City’s port.










    “Seven years,” Brandon said as he stepped off the boat and onto the deck of the port. “It seems the city has not changed as much as I suspected it would. Byron would be responsible for that, wouldn’t he…” He chuckled to himself. “He did always prefer the old-school style, as I did.”

    It was from this city where he parted from Sinnoh (and his family) seven years ago when he agreed to take up the Frontier Brain position in Kanto. It was a painful and emotional time, but due to the circumstances, in addition to his wife’s death, he was left with little choice. Of course, Reggie was beginning to earn money of his own since he was close to becoming of age, but they were only meager wages and nothing neither he nor Paul could survive from. It was from Brandon’s job alone that the family was able to keep going, but the boys were determined not to sponge off from him forever. He admired their drive and desire to become independent, but Brandon had his doubts in each of them.

    Brandon frowned as he came upon the Canalave Library, his ultimate destination, only to find it closed. Of course, most stores were still closed at this early hour when the sun was only beginning to show up over the horizon, but Brandon was an impatient person, and was not fond of the fact that he would have to wait until 07:00 for the library to open its doors. It was not even 06:00 yet, so he still had over an hour to kill with nothing to do. Naturally, he looked towards Canalave Gym. Brandon knew if Byron hadn’t changed his tune, he would be up and accepting challengers (or even visitors) at this hour. As he walked towards the establishment, he stopped abruptly when he felt a sudden rumbling sound from the ground. Very few residents were about this time of day, so Brandon was the only one taking notice to this.

    All of a sudden, an armored head and body popped out from the ground in front of Brandon, nearly scaring the middle-aged Frontier Brain to death. The shock was enough to nearly take him off his feet, but he regained his balance, as this felt very familiar to him now. Brandon remembered instances like these happening to him very often to him in his childhood…

    Once he got a good look at the man who scared the living daylights out of him, he glared and pointed accusingly. “You haven’t matured a bit, have you, Byron?! Even now, all these years later, you still like to sneak up on people from under the ground like some sort of Diglett?”

    Byron laughed loudly in pride, but was cut off as he recognized the voice; it was one he had not heard in a long, long time. Raising an eyebrow, the Gym Leader took off his headgear to look up and meet eyes with his childhood friend from long ago, now a Frontier Brain. “The heck…? I must’ve hit my head on a lead pipe or something… that can’t possibly be you, Brandon!”

    Brandon smiled with pride. “It’s true; I’ve returned to Sinnoh on urgent business. But since the library won’t open for over an hour, I figured it would be best to catch up with you. I see you’re the only one in Canalave City who remains in top shape and wakes up this early every day to do your usual routine.”

    “Guilty as charged!” Byron admitted as he climbed out of his hole. “Only wish I could set a better example for these lazy good-for-nothings. Urgent business, y’say? You haven’t set foot here in years, man!” He slapped a hand casually on Brandon’s shoulder.

    Under normal circumstances, Brandon would probably punch someone in the face for doing so, but he allowed it for the case of a childhood friend… “What’s so important that tore you away from your duties from being a Frontier Brain? Did someone already tell you about your kids?”

    Brandon looked at Byron strangely. “What would they have to do with the library? I need the library because Canalave’s happens to be the only one in the entire world that has the one and only book with detailed information on Regigigas: a Pokémon I’ve been after for months. Someone just checked out that book last night, and I intend to find out who did so and why. I can say with certainty I deserve that book more than anyone else.”

    “Huh, intense,” Byron mused. “Hope you can get that accomplished soon, ‘cause while you’re here, you really should see your boys, Brandon.”

    “Like you’re one to talk,” Brandon scoffed, knowing full well of the tension between Byron and his son, Roark. “One’s off training in preparation to battle me once I capture Regigigas and the other is battling Gyms to qualify for the Sinnoh League Conference, only to advance to the new Battle Frontier immediately afterwards, and then battle me. Both are quite tied up at the moment as I am.”

    Byron scratched his head uncomfortably. “Uh… funny you should say that, bud… see, I actually fought Paul in a Gym Battle just yesterday.”

    That certainly got Brandon’s attention. “You did…?” He then looked stern. “What was the outcome?”

    “He had a green-haired little Four-Eyes with him at the time, yeah… so anyway, I was told that Paul was using this battle to train his Pokémon for endurance, seeing as my Pokémon are predominantly Steel-typed and all…”

    Brandon nodded at these details impatiently. “Yes, yes…”

    “Point is, strategically, he purposely had a bad choice of Pokémon against mine,” Byron explained. “His Honchkrow, Ursaring, and Weavile against my Bronzor, Steelix, and Bastiodon. It came down to our final Pokémon, and it was an awful close one, let me tell ya…”

    “Get to the point!!” Brandon shouted, tapping his finger furiously against his folded arm.

    Byron nodded and bowed his head. “He won. He pulled out an ingenious strategy I hadn’t seen since I battled you. I think I really was right way back in the day when you introduced me to the little guy. He may have been clingin’ to Andrea for dear life, but I saw that fighting spirit just waiting burst out and take the world on! I just couldn’t see the same flame in Reggie, y’know?”

    Brandon grimly nodded. “It seems you turned out to be right after all these years. Still… it pleases me that he is showing results in spite of his unorthodox training and battling style. He must be close to qualifying for the League at this point.”

    “There’s a… slight setback,” Byron mentioned. “It’s part of why I think you need to see your boys. Both of them,” he emphasized.

    “Setback?” The Frontier Brain was confused. “What do you mean?”

    Byron looked down with regret. “I didn’t realize it until after it happened, but it turned out that Paul was sick the whole time we were battling. Little Four-Eyes was beggin’ him to hold back until he was better, but Paul shoved him away and insisted on battling me as soon as he could. He forced himself a bit too hard, I think, because he was looking really feverish and exhausted. I should’ve noticed it myself; I just thought the kid was nervous trying to live up to your legacy, so… he managed to win the battle and all, but while Four-Eyes and I were talkin’ about the win, we saw that Paul fainted.”

    Brandon’s expressions hardened. Distant as he was to his sons, he instantly became paranoid upon hearing of one of them becoming sick or hurt. Of course, this primarily came from the previous loss of his wife.

    Byron knew that look well. He had been there for Brandon not long after he lost his wife, and attended the funeral. He looked somber and looked to the side for a moment. “Brandon… I know what you’re thinkin’. Personally, to me, I think it may have just been a cold or the flu that the kid was just too stubborn to take care of, but rest assured he’s being well taken care of now. I got the boy to a bed and he was transferred to the infirmary in this city as soon as possible. Early as it is now, Paul’s still probably over there, so you wouldn’t be going out of your way to see him.”

    “I understand,” Brandon said quietly, nodding. “I should probably do that now.” He started to turn off in that direction, but Byron held him up.

    “Uh, one more thing, man,” Byron said, still serious in tone. “I said you needed to see both your kids. I wouldn’t be sayin’ that without a reason.”

    Brandon turned around, looking fearful now. “You mean to say…?”

    Byron nodded, sadly. “Something happened to Reggie, too. Right after the battle with Paul, my Gym got a call in from Maylene. She’s the Gym Leader of Veilstone City now, you know…”

    “Maylene?” Brandon interrupted. “I remember that kid… she’s barely my little one’s age. She managed to become a Gym Leader?”

    Byron smiled slightly. “Things may have not changed a lot here, but the story’s a little different where you lived, Brandon. Either way, it’s been less than a year since she took up the position. Still, she called my Gym because she was told Paul would most likely be here and she couldn’t get ahold of you.” He sternly looked to his old friend. “No one can, actually.”

    Brandon groaned and leaned his face against the palm of his hand. “I knew this was going to come back and bite me one day… what’s this one’s story?”

    “It’s a bit more extreme,” Byron warned. “So… brace yourself. Just remember Reggie’s still alive and relatively okay right now, far as we know.” But that certainly did nothing to put Brandon at ease. “Alright, then… Maylene called us, asking for Paul… Paul was out of it by this time, so Four-Eyes took the call for him. He reported back to me saying that Paul’s presence was requested back at Veilstone City, especially since you couldn’t be contacted, because Reggie had been found severely injured and unconscious while training at the base of Mt. Coronet where there were severe thunderstorms yesterday. Thought the kid had more common sense than that, but… anyway, long story short, Reggie got struck by lightning.”

    Brandon took this roughly as well as Paul did; in other words, he was stunned and silenced for many awkward moments until Byron had it in him to break the silence.

    “I did mention that he made it out alive, right?” Byron clarified uneasily. Being reminded of that, Brandon shook his head (not to tell Byron “no”, but to pull himself together and remind himself of what Byron had just told him a minute earlier).

    “S-sorry…” Brandon murmured, being in a rare state of fear and guilt. “I-it’s just… difficult to stay calm after hearing such a thing like that…”

    Byron nodded in agreement. “I’m hearin’ ya… if anyone told me that happened to Roark, I’d be flippin’ out right about now. Even if I was told ahead of time that he survived that kind of thing.” He looked to Brandon straight in the eyes as he said that, in mutual paternal understanding.

    Brandon sighed. “I should be reacting that way… why am I holding back?” His arms fell to his sides and formed into fists. “You would be right there in the hospital for your son, but I’m not…”

    “It’s really not fair to compare the two of us,” Byron pointed out. “Roark and I may not be living in the same city anymore, but at least we’re in the same region in pretty close proximity. You’re thousands of miles away from your kids, Brandon… least you could do is get some long-distance contact set up with them and the rest of your familiars over here, but you can only do so much while you’re in Kanto, man.”

    After so many years of resistance of the idea and a long period of consideration, Brandon looked up at the early morning sky. “Indeed… this must be a sign from the heavens. Losing Andrea was devastating enough. If I lost one of the boys…”

    The Gym Leader nodded to Brandon. “Reggie and Paul are why you’re bustin’ your butt day-in, day-out as a Frontier Brain. It’s a tough sacrifice to be that far away and still be a dad, I know. But it’s gonna lose all meaning if you end up losing a son because of what you’re doing, too…”

    Brandon suddenly found it hard to stand on his own two feet as he was reminded of his abysmal family situation. Byron was fortunate he was close enough to Brandon as a friend; otherwise Brandon would have tossed him off a dock by this point. Taking the cue, Byron took a seat next to his childhood friend.

    “The fact of the matter is, I’ve never been that great of a parent,” Brandon admitted. “The only time I was adequate was when Andrea inspired me to be so. It isn’t that I don’t love the boys… it’s just…”

    “Not everyone’s cut out to go it alone,” Byron reminded him. “I’d doubt I would’ve been able to raise Roark right by myself without my wife’s help, truth be told. I just got lucky.” He looked to Brandon insightfully. “You realize that’s why I kept tryin’ to encourage you to remarry, right…?”

    Brandon didn’t stay in Sinnoh for long after Andrea died, but Byron was one of the few people outside of his sons to truly be there for him in his time of need. Unfortunately, Byron ended up overstepping a boundary by urging Brandon to move on a bit too early before he was ready. Eventually, it was becoming apparent that Brandon’s readiness to find another wife was never here nor there; timing had nothing to do with it.

    “I understand your heart was in the right place, Byron… and I appreciate the gesture,” Brandon said softly. “But I wasn’t ready seven years ago… and I’m still not ready now. And if I’m not ready now, I believe I never will be. I simply never pictured any other woman in my life. It may have been selfish of me to not give the boys another mother, but… looking at it another way, if I remarried, I wouldn’t have been able to take up the Frontier Brain position and support the family. There was a good chance the kids wouldn’t have taken well to a strange new woman in the household, either. And at this point, it’s simply too late for a mother to enrich either of their lives.”

    Byron looked skeptical. “You really think so?”

    “Of course,” Brandon said tiredly. “One’s going to be eighteen years old in about a month, after all. And the other was only… perhaps five, almost six when Andrea died. At present, he still doesn’t remember his own mother’s name… or anything about her, really, other than her profession. The only reason he knows that is because his brother’s taken to following his mother’s footsteps after failing to defeat me… not that I can blame the boy. He was simply too young to remember the details.”

    Byron looked up, thinking about the previous day. “Kinda ironic, now that I think about it. The day you introduced me to Paul, the lil’ tyke wouldn’t let go of his mommy without throwing a fit. I knew something was off about him yesterday… like something in him totally changed since the last time I saw him. I think I know what changed, now.”

    “What in the world are you talking about?” Brandon asked, as he remembered Paul’s clinginess to his mother in his early years, but wasn’t sure where Byron was going with this…

    “Kid grew up forgetting what a mother’s love is like!” Byron deduced. “Can’t deny he loved Andy with all his heart while she was alive, but without her and you leaving so soon after, all he had was Reggie. Reggie was gonna try to succeed where you failed as a kid, then changed his mind and went Andy’s route. Paul looked up to his big brother before that happened… poor guy’s had nothin’ in his life but disappointment and failure and missing out.”

    Being told that so forwardly was enough to keep Brandon quiet for a moment, as there wasn’t much he could say to argue against or scold his friend for talking out of place. Byron was close enough to the family to know the details; especially since he had battled Paul just yesterday. Byron would have easily been able to tell the difference between Paul of the present and the Paul he saw last. That was more for what Brandon could say about the Paul he saw last in person.

    “You’re right,” he finally admitted. “Andrea being torn away from us was the worst thing that happened to this family. I lost her and that potential Elite Four spot on the same day. To compensate, I had to leave my children and go to Kanto to continue supporting them. So both of them had to grow and mature without my guidance, for the most part… at best, all I could give them was an occasional letter.”

    “Why didn’t you just move them to Kanto with you?” Byron asked, though skeptical. “I mean, don’t get me wrong… I’d still be ticked off at you, because I’d probably really never see you again if you did things that way, but don’t you think that would’ve been better for the boys?”

    It was a complicated matter for Brandon; thankfully, he had time to explain this, and frankly… he knew he owed the explanation to Byron. For all the years he went without speaking a word to his childhood playmate, Byron deserved to know the details.

    “My first boy was already in the middle of his first journey at the time of Andrea’s death,” Brandon noted, quietly. “It was eerily convenient for him to inform me at the time, since he was en route to Sunyshore City to earn his eighth badge while I was about to take the League Exam for the Elite Four position. Either way, after all was said and done… I didn’t want to uproot my kids so suddenly, especially when my first one was about to have his first League Conference Battle. He didn’t want that, and the little one didn’t want to be separated from his brother.”

    Byron nodded and suddenly found the sea surrounding the majority of the city particularly interesting now. “I’m sure Reggie would’ve won the Sinnoh League if he weren’t weighed down with the loss of Andy, Brandon. I was watching the kid in your place, remember? I told you all about it.”

    Unconvinced, Brandon tried his best not to look stressed out, but failed and slumped over in defeat. “The boy was defeated within the first round, as I recall.”

    Byron shrugged. “Like I said, he had a lot on his mind. I would’ve performed like crap anywhere if my mom just died, wouldn’t you?”

    Brandon chose to ignore that question. “Anyway, there’s your answer to that question. After the kid finished his Sinnoh endeavors, he took his brother along with him to other regions to compete until the youngster was old enough to train himself. Not long after that, the first one battled me a few times and lost every time… then returned to Sinnoh for good.”

    “Pickin’ up where Andy left off…” Byron mused before looking to Brandon. “Speaking of Reggie, man… there’s a little detail about the lightning strike incident I forgot to mention.”

    Brandon’s eyes snapped open. “Detail?”

    “Four-Eyes wasn’t sure if it was the lightning strike that caused it, but the reason Paul is off to see Reggie is ‘cause Reggie’s gone a bit, uh… off-kilter.”

    This explanation did not satisfy the Frontier Brain. He gave Byron a stern look. “Don’t dance around the issue. Be straightforward.”

    “Geez!” Byron grumbled. “Maylene was cryptic about that as it was! What she literally said was that Reggie’s ‘sick in the head’! She said that’s the reason why Paul needed to get to Veilstone ASAP and why she was so mad that she couldn’t get ahold of you about it!”

    Brandon suddenly stood up. That “sick in the head” comment just set off alarms in his own. Ever since Andrea died, Brandon inwardly worried if one day he’d have to worry about one of his sons meeting an untimely death due to inheriting her disease. There was no concrete proof that either of them had, as Andrea’s condition was never quite determined even after the autopsy reports. The Frontier Brain lived many years fearing he’d have to go through this once more, and Reggie reminded him of Andrea enough already, even before she died…

    “Guess that settles it,” Byron figured, standing up with him. “You’re going to Veilstone, then?”

    “Well… yes, I am,” Brandon said, nodding. “I’m going to check on my son in this city first, then extract a bit of information out of the library, since that’s what I came here for originally… that should leave you plenty of time to rent me a boat, Byron. I’d like a small one so I can weave through the rivers of Sinnoh and make it to Veilstone City that way rather than being out at sea. Unless they’ve messed with the routes since I left, it shouldn’t take more than a day or two to reach my destination.”

    Byron blinked. The routes had been messed with quite a bit since Brandon left Sinnoh. “Uh, man, you really oughta…”

    “Hah!” Brandon slapped his old friend on the back, completely misinterpreting his reluctance. “Byron, be honest with me; how many challengers do you honestly get at this time of day?”

    The Gym Leader looked confused. “Uh, average’s about zero, actually. Lazy kids these days usually don’t come a-knockin’ on my Gym until after noon… what’s your point?”

    “Use that head of yours for once,” Brandon urged. “You’re obviously not busy if you’ve resorted to scaring residents half to death by popping out from underground, so it won’t be too much for you to simply rent me a boat while I run my errands. The rest of the Battle Frontier committee is likely only now waking up and will soon realize that I have taken my leave of absence…”

    “Whoa, whoa!!” Byron was amazed. “You left without tellin’ them?!”

    Brandon smirked. “Everything will be fine as long as I get what I came here for. I worked with Professor Oak just last night and he agreed to send off my temporary farewell notice, so it isn’t as if I’ve gone all rebellious or anything. I’m merely looking for Regigigas, and the only way to find it lies within this region. Leaving Kanto was necessary, and I don’t have time to wait for the committee’s approval while that anonymous man or woman has what I’m looking for.”

    “Uh huh…” Byron still wasn’t sure about this move. Brandon was always an impulsive one, even as a kid. It always ended up getting him (and his friends) into trouble, and Byron wasn’t about to believe that the trouble was going to end here. “Well, should they call me, I’ll be sure to put in a good word for ya, okay? I’ll let ‘em know that your kids are sick and whatnot. They ought to ease up on you leaving like that, right?”

    “Either way, I have tenure,” Brandon noted. “They can’t terminate me.” He faced his friend and smiled. “Thank you for letting me know about what’s happened. I’m sorry; there’s no excuse for going this long without speaking to you. When I return to my Battle Pyramid, I’ll be sure to have some open advanced communication systems installed… including some for myself.”

    Byron smiled back. “Anytime, Brandy! Hey, we’ll make a promise, eh? When we retire, we can start up our digging competitions again! We’ll even get Palmer in on it!”

    Brandon scoffed and walked over to Byron. “First of all, I told you ages ago to stop calling me that…”

    “But it’s our pet name for you, remember? Brandy and Andy?”

    “It stopped becoming relevant when the latter passed on,” Brandon reminded coldly.

    Byron frowned like a four year-old would. “You know, if she were here right know, she’d put you in a sleeper hold for bein’ so callous.”

    Brandon held back a chuckle, because he couldn’t disagree. “She would, but that’s beside the point. Those nicknames are practically antiques, Turnip-Head.”

    Just then, Brandon grabbed Byron by the hair and dragged him over to the hole that was made earlier by the latter.

    “Owww!” Byron howled, obviously sensitive about his hair despite being a rather hardy man in other areas. “Yeah, speakin’ of antique nicknames…!

    Unable to resist a sardonic smile, Brandon held Byron over the hole. “Still a whiner as always, it seems. Well, stop your complaining and rent that boat for me. I’ll meet back up with you at your Gym after I’ve completed my own tasks. Try not to get sidetracked, Byron…” With that, he released Byron, thereby dropping him into the hole several feet below. Brandon was surprised to hear Byron cry out for as long as he did until he finally hit the bottom, at which he winced when Byron screeched.

    “You freakin’ jerk, Brandon!!” Byron shouted from the bottom. “I think I cracked my tailbone! Thanks a lot!!”

    Brandon couldn’t hold back his laughing now. He called back at Byron from above, “If you want to keep doing this with myself and Palmer after we’re retired and you’re already breaking your bones at this age, you may want to rethink that promise!”

    “I’ll get you back for this, Brandon!”

    Brandon just smirked to himself and walked off, now satisfied with his work. “Hit me with your best shot.”

    “What?! What did you say?!”

    Again, Brandon laughed as he approached the infirmary where Paul was supposedly held. In spite of the stress he was going through in order to capture Regigigas and the painful, depressing reminders of his family life, Byron still managed to lift his spirits, even inadvertently.









    It had taken a while, since not everyone was accustomed to waking up so early in the morning at the exact same time, but on the call of urgent business, every Frontier Brain in Kanto was quick to engage in a multiple-party video conference as soon as Scott had received Brandon’s notice from his assistant, Samuel (who had still been in Cerulean City at the time), whom received it from Professor Oak, the last one who saw Brandon in person and booked his trip to Sinnoh late last night.

    There were often multi-party video conferences amongst all Frontier Brains and Scott with the Frontier Brains in a circle in certain positions on the monitor with Scott in the center and guests in smaller frames under his. As Noland, Greta, Tucker, Spenser, Lucy, and Anabel logged on, all were more than a little surprised at first to see Brandon absent from his spot on the screen. Since he naturally woke up at early hours, he was usually the first one seen in the conference. Before Scott and Samuel had logged on, the other Frontier Brains stared up at the blank box on the screen that Brandon normally filled.

    After a period of awkward silence, Greta broke the ice. “It’s a little weird not being nagged about being ‘so late’ to the conference for once…”

    “It could be a coincidence,” Noland suggested innocently. “Maybe he went out digging early and found something interesting. He’s been babbling about something recently; that’s for sure…”

    “Another one of those ‘Regi’ things, if I recall right,” Spenser said. “Every time the man catches one, it seems a new one always pops up and he has to catch it… always wanting to catch the Pokémon with a name that bears a similarity to his son’s.”

    Lucy nodded. “That’s rather sweet, actually…”

    Anabel, however, was a little more skeptical. “I can’t help but feel that something is wrong, still. I’m sure Scott will set us straight when he comes on, but… this is no small ordeal.”

    “Duh, we’re in a conference,” Tucker remarked, which only made Anabel roll her eyes at the fellow Frontier Brain making light of her ominous premonitions. “And speaking of late, Scott’d better get his butt in here already. I’m wasting precious beauty sleep on baseless speculation!”

    As if on cue, Scott appeared in position on the video conference screen. Samuel followed shortly after, but was strangely placed in Brandon’s usual position on the screen, eliciting many surprised looks from the rest of the Frontier Brains. They knew him, but usually he was merely a guest. Being put in Brandon’s position meant Anabel was right: something was wrong.

    “Sorry for the delay, folks,” Scott apologized. “Needed to give Samuel instructions on how to get into the conference. I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now that Brandon’s not here.”

    “Did something happen to him?” Lucy asked. “Is he alright?”

    To that, Samuel, who was constantly in a rather humbled and slightly nervous state due to being in such direct presence of high authority, nodded. “P-Pyramid King Brandon is alive and well. I can attest to that. Th-that is most certainly not the issue.”

    “Then what is?” Tucker asked impatiently. “Why have we all been called in so early?”

    “The issue is that Brandon has left the Kanto region as of last night in pursuit of a Pokémon named Regigigas,” Scott informed. “He dropped by Cerulean City yesterday and met a kid who had ties with Professor Oak. By nightfall, he met the Professor and the two apparently located a book on this Pokémon that can only be found in the Sinnoh region, where, as you all know, Brandon originates from.”

    Noland still couldn’t see the issue at hand. “It was a library, right? Why couldn’t he just order it or… wait a bit if someone already checked it out?”

    “The truth is, Brandon isn’t a very trusting person,” Samuel regretfully informed. “And when it’s the only known book in the world on Regigigas… and, well… you know how long he’s been searching for it, he’s desperate to get the information of the person who checked that book out. He wanted to get to it so quickly that he completely forgot about me and the Battle Pyramid.”

    “Actually, he didn’t want to take the risk of losing the Pyramid at sea,” Scott corrected. “And I have a feeling he didn’t want to wait until morning to debate about this little move in a committee, so he went ahead and did things his own way.”

    Greta frowned and pounded her fist against her desk. “Where does he get off thinking he can just… do that without asking permission?! He has a job to do as a Frontier Brain! We all do!”

    “In spite of his actions, Professor Oak’s put in a good word for him,” Samuel mentioned. “He’s promised to return and he won’t do so empty-handed. It’s not just for his own gain, but for Professor Oak’s and the Battle Frontier’s.”

    “There’s that and Brandon has tenure,” Scott added. “Can’t really punish the guy on a level comparable to his actions. And still, his heart’s in the right place… he just has to make sure he follows up on the promise and comes back with this Regigigas.”

    “So what are we supposed to do in the meantime for trainers who’ve earned six Symbols?” Anabel asked worriedly. “We can’t honestly ask them to go all the way to Sinnoh, especially since none of us know where he is exactly now. Brandon won’t be in the mood to battle any of them either, I imagine…”

    Scott nodded. “You’re right, Anabel; he probably won’t. So to spare the trainers the time and frustration, we’ll redirect them to the new Battle Frontier facility instead. It’ll be much less of a fuss to deal with and it’s a smaller Frontier overall, so you can assure the trainers that for as long as Brandon might be gone, they might be almost done with the new one by the time Brandon’s ready to take on new trainers.”

    “We’re all still active, I presume?” said Spenser.

    “Yes, all of you will continue about your duties as usual unless you are to come across a trainer with five Symbols. I know it’s usually Anabel who faces challengers before Brandon, but there are exceptions, so all of you must be wary and inform trainers, should they earn their sixth Symbol from you, that they will be unable to earn their seventh until Brandon returns to Kanto,” Scott reported. “I can handle the ones who’ve already earned six and are looking for Brandon right now.”

    Anabel covered her mouth to muffle a gasp. “Oh no!” She said in despair. “Since the Pyramid landed in Cerulean City last… Samuel, they’ll be heading your way…”

    “Oh man,” Samuel groaned. “I’m just an assistant and referee. I don’t think I’m cut out to ward away a bunch of anxious and angry trainers…”

    “No need to sweat it,” Scott assured. “You won’t be sticking around in Kanto either, Samuel. I’d like you to follow Brandon to Sinnoh in the Battle Pyramid and check up on him for us.”

    There was a moment of silence before Brandon’s nervous assistant gawked at the suggestion. “Y-you want me to go to Sinnoh as well…?!”

    “Why not? Might as well not have the Battle Pyramid sit around Kanto under false pretenses,” Scott reasoned. “Outside of that, I’ve heard that the weather in Sinnoh’s gotten a bit unpredictable and dangerous lately. Anyone else heard about that?”

    “I have,” Anabel said. “And looking from that perspective, it may be best for Brandon’s safety to have the Battle Pyramid on hand if he’s going to scale the entire Sinnoh region for Regigigas. Home region or not, if the eco-system is behaving abnormally, he could easily be in danger.”

    Lucy nodded. “Especially if he’s aiming for the northern regions. The conditions are especially harsh there in Sinnoh… very few people can survive it in normal circumstances. It would at least provide him shelter.”

    “So it’s settled, then,” Scott decided. “You all know what to do if you’re the Frontier Brain giving out a sixth Symbol. I’ll handle the ones who already have six, and Samuel’s going to Sinnoh to monitor Brandon’s progress for us, as well as keep him safe from the elements.”

    Samuel still looked apprehensive. “Are you sure this thing is made to fly such a long distance across the sea? Brandon’s never flown it that way before… if it gives out, it’s going to sink like a rock and I’ll be a sitting duck in the middle of the sea…”

    To that, Scott only smiled. “You’re just not aware of the Battle Pyramid’s full capabilities, Samuel. Trust me; fly it like you always do, just across the sea to Sinnoh rather than across Kanto. If you have any problems, you’ll know how to contact me, but I don’t think you’ll have any.”

    “You look awfully sure of yourself…” Samuel noted, still uncertain of himself, but gulped and eventually conceded with a nod. “I-I’ll do it, though. I am concerned for Brandon’s wellbeing. I thought he was the type who would know better than to go off on his own without telling anyone like this.”

    Noland shrugged. “To be fair, he technically did tell us since he left us a notice. But that’s Brandon for you: once he’s got his eye on something the wants, he’ll stop at nothing to get it, even if it means he has to bend the rules a bit to get to it.”

    “Since we’re settled, can we end the conference now?” Tucker whined. “I’ve got all this written down. I’ll remember it when I wake up later.”

    Scott just sighed. “Alright, alright. Conference dismissed. Go about your duties as usual, everyone. Just don’t forget what I’ve told you. I’ll let you know when I get news of Brandon’s whereabouts.”

    “Hopefully it won’t be during the crack of dawn…” Tucker muttered as he signed off. One by one, the rest of the Frontier Brains (more politely) said their farewells and signed off. All that remained was Samuel and Scott.

    “So, when are you planning on leaving for Sinnoh? It’ll be a long ride… probably gonna take most of the day to get to the closest point.” Scott asked.

    Samuel already seemed to be engaging the Pyramid for a take-off. “Right now, actually. I already had a few kids arriving yesterday wanting a battle while Brandon was away and I promised I’d get back to them today… they’ll be here any minute now, and who knows how many more. It’d be wise for me to get out of Kanto before most of the kids wake up.”

    Scott nodded. “Wise choice. You sure you can pull this off? Still looks like you’ve got the chills.”

    “A-admittedly, I am a little nervous, but I’m aware this is something I must do for the sake of Brandon,” Samuel explained. “But like you said… if I’m experiencing difficulties, I’ll contact you, right?”

    “Right,” Scott affirmed. “Keep me updated, then, and definitely let us know when you’ve found Brandon. And let him know that as long as he follows up on his promise, he has my full support, as well as the rest of the representatives’ of the Battle Frontier.” He then smiled. “Best of luck, man. Hope you find him soon.” And with that, he signed off and the conference ended.

    Samuel finalized the flight preparations and the Battle Pyramid began to rise up from the ground just outside of Cerulean City. “Well, finding him will be easier said than done…” Samuel said to himself. “In a region like Sinnoh, that’ll be like finding a needle in a haystack. If I hurry, maybe I can catch him while he’s still in Canalave City…”

    The lone assistant steered the pyramid in the direction that would get him to Canalave City the quickest and embarked on his journey, taking the Battle Pyramid with him.









    “If it wouldn’t trouble you, woman, I’d like the information on the person who checked out the book containing valuable information about Regigigas last night,” Brandon requested to an unfortunate librarian. By the time he had finished conversing with Byron, he went to the infirmary to check on Paul, only to find that he had already left the vicinity to board a boat that had already left to take him to Veilstone City on a different route entirely. While slightly frustrated, he took comfort in the fact knowing that he and his son were both headed for the same place ultimately, just as soon as Brandon extracted information out of this girl.

    The girl, looking horribly frightened, shook her head after a moment of hesitation. “I-I’m sorry, sir, but that information is confidential for safety reasons. You’ll simply have to wait until the book is returned next week…”

    NO.

    Brandon’s routine elicited stares from nearly everyone present in the library. The girl shivered and stepped back, only opening her eyes to remind him, “S-sir, we are in a library… I must ask you keep your voice down…”

    To that, Brandon blinked and momentarily looked embarrassed at raising his voice in such a place. He sighed and shook his head. “My apologies, but my name is Brandon. I can do without the ‘sir’s and the like. Are you not aware of the Battle Frontier?”

    “Brandon…” The young librarian looked down for a moment and pondered. “I do… and something seemed familiar. Then it hit her. “Ah…! You’re from the Kanto Battle Frontier! Pyramid King Brandon…?!”

    Brandon nodded. “So you know my intentions are genuine. The book that was checked out was the only known book in the world with concrete information on Regigigas, which is a Pokémon I have been after for several months. How am I to be certain this person will return the book within a week? That book can’t possibly be one your visitors check out on a regular basis.”

    “Actually, you do have a point there,” the librarian said as she scanned for previous check-outs of the book in question. “I wasn’t even aware we had this book until the boy asked for it last ni-.. oops.”

    Brandon smirked. “So it was a boy who checked out the book. And it was you who allowed him to take it!”

    The librarian sighed, knowing she was caught now. “Okay, yes, I did. The one who checked the book out is a frequent visitor here, so I don’t believe you have reason to worry about him withholding the book beyond its due date. He’s a very courteous young man.”

    “A frequent visitor,” Brandon noted. “So he lives here?”

    “Not at all,” the librarian said automatically. “He lives in Veilstone Ci- ah…! It’s too early to be interrogated like this! I’m breaking the code of honor!”

    It was funny in a sad sort of way, Brandon thought, to fluster the librarian with the simplest of information-gathering techniques. “Veilstone City. A boy who lives in Veilstone City. Well, you know I am a man of honor, woman. I’m not going to harm that boy or anything, and I have an ill son to go see in the same vicinity. You might as well give me his name and physical description and save me the trouble.”

    The librarian trembled. “But I…”

    Brandon shook his head. “I’m going to find him sooner or later. The only damage you’ll do to yourself is by aggravating me by withholding the rest of the information, because there are other urgent matters I must tend to as soon as possible. The sooner you give me a physical description and a name, the sooner we can get this over with.”

    Thankfully for Brandon, this librarian was very young and insecure, especially in the presence of someone like a Frontier Brain. After a pitiful cry, she conceded, though lowered her face to hide her shame. “Th-the boy’s name is Conway. He has dark green hair and glasses… i-is that satisfactory for you… Brandon…?”

    He took the details into consideration. “A young man named Conway from Veilstone City, green hair with glasses…” Then he suddenly froze as he remembered something that Byron had told him earlier that morning:

    Byron scratched his head uncomfortably. “Uh… funny you should say that, bud… see, I actually fought Paul in a Gym Battle just yesterday.”

    That certainly got Brandon’s attention. “You did…?” He then looked stern. “What was the outcome?”

    “He had a green-haired little Four-Eyes with him at the time, yeah… so anyway…”


    Brandon’s expressions turned grim. Would it have been a simple coincidence that Paul had been accompanied by some other green-haired fellow in glasses? But since when did Paul take on followers in the first place? Something wasn’t adding up. Brandon wondered why he didn’t catch that oddity and inquire about it in the first place.

    He certainly had something to ask Byron the second he would return to the Gym to see if his old friend had rented his boat yet.

    “That will do fine,” Brandon finally said to the librarian. “I appreciate your help.” He wasted no time leaving the library as soon as possible and headed straight to Byron’s Gym. It all started coming together for him… if Conway was an associate of Paul’s, it would make perfect sense why the Regigigas book was checked out.

    It prevented him from getting access to it: just as he feared. He hoped this was still all just a coincidence, however. He’d get some quick answers from Byron soon before receiving his rented boat to cross the rivers of Sinnoh in hot pursuit of Veilstone City, now for more than just one reason.









    While Brandon learned the hard way about how the routes of Sinnoh had changed the river paths since he left the region, Conway and Paul were already well on their way to the Valor Lakefront. As Paul slept throughout the morning, Conway decided to go through the Regigigas book for him and write down the important details he found relevant. He had no idea of what Paul’s intentions were yet, but a chunk of their week being out at sea would cut into the time Conway would have with the book before he’d start getting charged with those dreaded late fees.

    It was almost evening again when Paul finally woke up, feeling slightly less horrible than before, but still not very good. Conway had taken a nap on his bed, roughly halfway through the Regigigas book with a stack of pages filled with abridged notes from the book itself. Paul couldn’t help but notice that Conway hadn’t as much as touched his own books yet. Regardless, after holding in a cough, he sat up, shoved himself out of bed, and scooted over to Conway’s side to grab the book and the notes.

    Paul mainly looked at the notes Conway had taken, preferring his more direct and straightforward definitions and explanations, but did look to the book to see the sketches within it, which Conway’s simply couldn’t compare to. However quiet Paul tried to be, though, Conway could hear the shuffling of his papers and opened an eye to see Paul wide awake and scrutinizing his work.

    “Oho… you certainly took your time getting out of bed,” Conway teased. “Have a nice sleep? You pretty much missed the whole day, and it was actually nice out today.”

    Paul only grunted at that as he continued to read Conway’s findings. “Yes, I see you’ve been enjoying the outdoors just by seeing all this paperwork, you hypocrite.”

    “Aha, true…” Conway couldn’t argue. “I just didn’t expect you to spend the entire day sleeping. I have to have these books sent back within a week or else I’ll get charged late fees. Since we’re spending a chunk of said week on this ship, we have to make the most of our time, so I took the liberty of highlighting the important details of Regigigas for you… well, as far as I’ve read, anyway.”

    Just then, Paul looked skeptical. “Actually, I never meant to return this particular book, Conway. I can pay you back for the late fees.”

    “I-it’s more than that!” Conway insisted. “You’re seriously never returning that book to Canalave’s library? I never would have agreed to this if those were the terms! It isn’t just the staggering late fees, Paul! It’s my reputation! I’m one of their most faithful customers! What are they going to think of me if I just take one of their books and never return it? It’s not like they can order a replacement! That’s the only known book of its kind in this world! It has to go back eventually!”

    “I have my reasons,” Paul said calmly. “Look, if it means that much to you, I’ll just make an account over there. Transfer the book in my name and the heat will be off of you. Will that make you feel better?”

    “It most certainly will not!” Conway yelled, flailing. “I’ll have just aided a library criminal! My conscience will never let me live that kind of thing down!”

    Paul glared, as his patience already wore thin by now. “Look, I-” He was cut off by another coughing fit. To this, Conway sighed and walked over to Paul’s belongings.

    “Here, take your medicine,” Conway said, rolling his eyes. “One dosage twelve hours ago isn’t going to make that nasty cough of yours go away. Remember, you need to be relatively healthy by the time you see your brother.”

    Conway gave Paul his cough syrup, which the latter took hesitantly. The thick, nasty liquid practically tasted like poison to him when he took it earlier that morning. His companion watched with amusement to see the medicine choked down in such a manner in desperation to not cause a huge scene.

    “Taking it straight, Paul? You don’t need to prove your ‘toughness’ to me,” Conway assured as he stood up again. “I knew that much already the first time we met. I’m going to get a soda. Let me get you something to wash that down and you can explain yourself about why you don’t want to return the book, alright?”

    It didn’t take long for Paul to accept the offer. “L-Lemonade,” he requested, trying his best not to regurgitate the medicine. “M-make it fast…”

    Thankfully for Paul, it didn’t take Conway long to come back with the beverages – and he even brought in enough to last the two the rest of the night. After Paul was able to wash away the horrid flavor of medicine in his mouth, he finally (though reluctantly) filled Conway in on his family situation starting with the letter he received from his father. And surprisingly, Paul managed to vent out some frustrations and feelings of guilt he’d held in for a while after telling Conway the entire situation and why he did not want the book returned to the library and into the potential clutches of his father.

    “… you said Reggie had a… ‘mental meltdown’, right…?” Paul asked Conway with great reluctance.

    “That’s what Maylene told me,” Conway answered. “Either way, it sounds like he’s behaving abnormally and she didn’t tell me either way, but I somehow doubt it was directly related to him being struck by lightning. I’m guessing you’ve come to the same conclusion?”

    Paul closed his eyes and nodded. “A lot of that depends on how he’s acting right now… Reggie acting abnormally could mean a lot of things. But if he were exhibiting traits opposite of his own during the training… hypothetically, acting strict, cold, cruel, ruthless…”

    “Basically, he’d be acting like you and Brandon,” Conway pointed out.

    That put off Paul for a moment, and he gave Conway a nasty glare before continuing. “Anyway… my point is, if he were acting like that, then yes, this might partially be my fault… and partially the old man’s as well for putting such an unreasonable time limit on him. My threat could have sent him over the edge… I only figure that much because Reggie’s the only one of the three of us who still cares about keeping the family together.”

    “He really doesn’t sound like the big doofus you make him out to be,” Conway couldn’t help but notice. “It’s pretty selfless of him to be going out of his way to keep the three of you as a semi-functioning family. Kind of weird that he acts so different from you and Brandon, but…”

    “If I had to guess, Reggie probably takes after our mother,” Paul assumed half-heartedly. “I can’t say for certain; I was too young to really know her before she passed on. But I’m pretty sure the old man shuns Reggie for emulating her. I always wondered if breeding was something Reggie really wanted to do, considering how far he’d come as a trainer before just… giving up after losing to the old man. I never could forgive him for that. That’s why I was so insistent that he should win against him this next time around… I thought that maybe…”

    Conway frowned. “That threatening him would inspire him to work harder and make him strong enough to defeat your dad? Plausible theory, but it looks like Reggie might be a sensitive type. You’re going to have to leave your personality at the door when we see him at the hospital.”

    “That goes without saying,” Paul mumbled. “But you understand why that book can’t go back to the library now, right? I got this book to buy Reggie some extra time to train, and I may have just set him way back now. For as long as the old man’s been trying to find Regigigas, eventually, he’s going to get sick of looking around in Kanto and he’ll start snooping around in other regions to find information. If he finds this book, it’s over for Reggie. He’s nowhere near ready to fight yet, especially after what’s happened now.”

    “Who would’ve thought that you of all people could get someone in an emotional bind like this?” Conway grumbled, looking conflicted. “Our best route might actually be… to let your brother decide, though. This is his fate we’re playing around with here.”

    “What, are you kidding?” Paul asked, looking at Conway as if he were crazy. “You said he’s mentally unstable. Regardless of how old he is, he can’t make decisions for himself right now until the doctors find out how to fix him.”

    “Or we find out how to fix him,” Conway amended. “Maylene wouldn’t have called for you if she didn’t think she needed you. And since the three of you are about the loosest definition of a family there is, that’s saying a lot, Paul. I think your presence will make a big difference, and he’ll hopefully start acting a bit more like his old self again…” He cleared his throat purposely. “You might want to consider taking back that threat you threw at him the day he sent you that letter, hint-hint?”

    Paul looked up at the ceiling and groaned. “I have a feeling I’m going to regret the fact that I told you all of this one day. But yes, I obviously have that in mind. I’ll do whatever’s necessary to get Reggie back into his right state of mind. He’s got more to lose than I do at this point.”

    “Then are we agreed?” Conway asked, extending a hand to Paul. “We’ll leave the fate of the book up to Reggie?”

    Paul stared at Conway’s hand for a few moments before shaking in an uncertain agreement. “Alright… I’ll leave it in his hands when we restore him back to his true self.”

    Conway nodded and took the Regigigas book back from Paul. “In the meantime, let’s try and finish this thing off and absorb as much as we can before its fate is decided. Really, consider yourself lucky, Paul…”

    After taking a sip of his lemonade, Paul whipped around to Conway and looked to him with a strange gesture. “Lucky? Why did you just say that…?”

    “All I know is… I wouldn’t mind having an older sibling that held as much love and respect for their family as yours does.”

    There were a number of questions Paul had for that statement, but wisely decided not to use any of them and went back to consuming his lemonade.

    The next three days differed depending on the point of view. Brandon was confronted by several dead ends at the rivers where there previously weren’t any as he went through the rivers of Sinnoh to Canalave City, which greatly frustrated him, until he remembered he had a collection of Regi giants that could easily carry the boat to the next continuing river. He was more than a little angry when Byron admitted to him that he completely forgot the name of the green-haired, bespectacled companion of Paul’s because he was so attached to the name of “Four-Eyes” and only actually heard his name one single time – and that was before the mind-numbing battle – so Brandon still wasn’t sure if “Conway” was the one traveling with Paul or not. Still, he was determined to make it to Veilstone City before his youngest son, no matter what newfangled obstacle came in his way.

    Paul and Conway, on the other hand, were almost entirely consumed in their reading during their trip at sea and on the bus ride. In ample time, they plowed through the Regigigas book and written out all of the relevant notes and details into Conway’s notebook for safe-keeping regardless of what would happen to the actual book. And while the progress was still slow, Paul was progressively getting better, dropping a degree or two in temperature each day until he was finally at 98.6 degrees after Conway measured his temperature at the Valor Lakefront. His coughing fits had mostly vanished, he was able to walk on his own without stumbling or staggering, and his throat was no longer sore. Conway had found it very peculiar of Paul to get himself nearly killed over a cold and then remain nearly incapacitated for four days, but by the time they finally reached Veilstone City, it seemed that Conway fulfilled his promise to Maylene after all and ensured that Paul would return to his hometown alive and healthy for the mental wellbeing of his brother.

    The bus was kind enough to drop the boys right in front of the hospital, where they both looked up at the ominous building standing before them.

    “Well, it was nice and sunny at Lake Valor, but it’s dreary as always over here, I see,” Conway observed. “Doesn’t really aid the imagery very well right now, does it?”

    That remark elicited a curious stare from Paul. “What are you talking about?”

    Conway innocently smiled to Paul and shrugged. “Just saying… it’s another dreary day in Veilstone City! And now we’re faced with this monster of a hospital with your mentally-unstable brother.”

    “Thanks for reminding me,” Paul grumbled. “Let’s just get this over with.”

    They entered the facility and immediately approached the front desk, where a Nurse Joy seemed to be writing something down. After Paul cleared his throat to get her attention, she hopped up a moment in surprise to see she had visitors.

    “Oh…! My apologies; I didn’t see you,” she said. “Can I help you gentlemen?”

    Paul frowned, immediately labeling her a flake of a receptionist and unworthy of her position. Regardless, he remained civil. “I’m here to see my brother, Reggie. He’s being cared for by the Gym Leader right now.”

    Conway nodded. “And I’m his escort, Conway.”

    “Oh, yes!” Nurse Joy said with a gasp. “You’re Paul… I should have recognized you at first. Oh, of course. Let me buzz in Maylene so she can escort you to where your brother is, alright? Please take a seat here in the lobby; this shouldn’t take long.”

    As Nurse Joy went about her duties, the boys took a seat and sat with nothing but an uncomfortable silence between them until a young lady slightly older than them with short pink hair and athletic gear came from the hallway, looking elated to see Paul and Conway just down the opening.

    “You made it!” She cried out in relief as she ran over to them. Slightly confused by her dramatic nature, the boys stood up to greet her. “Oh goodness, I’m so glad! I know it couldn’t be helped, but those four days felt like an eternity for me…”

    Paul raised an eyebrow. “It’s been that bad?”

    Maylene looked away, seeming distant. “It’s really something you should see for yourself, Paul. I can’t… possibly describe it well enough to do it justice. But we had no choice. Since he was so unstable and volatile, we had to keep him sedated until you arrived. I had the nurses remove the IV from him after I got the call, though, so he’ll be coming to shortly… I hope you can get him to calm down.”

    The boys began to follow Maylene the way she came on the way to Reggie’s room. Maylene continue to explain the situation along the way.

    “I’m really sorry I interrupted your journey for this, Paul,” Maylene apologized. “I probably wouldn’t have called if I knew there wasn’t anything you could do to help… still, I’m glad to see that you don’t look sick at all anymore.”

    Paul looked taken aback that Maylene, the Gym Leader he made a fool out of in the past and completely broken the spirit of, was actually apologizing to him over something and expressing delight over him being healthy instead of ill (which after how he treated her, he assumed she thought he would’ve well deserved it), but simply shrugged it off. “No, it’s probably for the best that you called. It isn’t as if the League competition is coming anytime soon, and my brother’s notorious for being self-sacrificial when he doesn’t need to be.”

    “I’m afraid that Reggie is gone right now,” Maylene forewarned. “So you’d better brace yourself.”

    “How exactly am I supposed to get him back to normal again?” Paul asked, somewhat confused. “I’ve never actually witnessed Reggie act like anything outside of his ordinary, usual self.”

    Maylene started to look fearful as she stopped at a door; the door that led to Reggie’s room. “Paul, I can’t tell you how. I just know I haven’t been able to do a thing to help him, and neither have his Pokémon… all of which have been injured as a result of the incident.”

    “What, did they all get hit by lightning or something?” Conway asked. “Was it staccato lightning?”

    “No, none of them were injured by the lightning,” Maylene clarified, shaking her head and motioned for the other two to lower their voices as they entered the room. “And Reggie’s behavior has nothing to do with the lightning, either. The Nurse thinks Reggie’s held in so much repressed stress over the years that… he just finally snapped. She’s already diagnosed him with borderline personality disorder, and he could have other things, too…”

    Paul stopped short as soon as she said that. “They diagnosed by brother with a mental disorder?

    Reluctantly, Maylene nodded. “There could be other genuine things wrong with him, too, Paul. You didn’t let me finish. He had done some terrible things before he was struck by lightning. And when I mean terrible, I mean something along the lines of what you would do.”

    “Along what Paul would do?” Conway echoed. “But if Reggie’s Pokémon weren’t injured by lightning, then you’re saying…” He was beginning to understand the severity of Reggie’s personality shift now.

    Maylene lowered her head. “The wounds were all checked out. Aside from Infernape, Reggie’s Pokémon were ‘training’ against each other much more roughly than they normally should be. They’ve gotten a lot better over the past four days, but when they were brought in, they were all covered in bandages.” She looked up for a moment to glare at Paul. “See? That’s something along the lines of what you would do, isn’t it?”

    Paul was briefly shocked to be called out like that, but closed his eyes and looked away. “How I train my Pokémon is none of your business, Maylene. Really, as pathetic a Gym Leader you are, I wouldn’t go around criticizing how other trainers raise their Pokémon.”

    As Maylene glared, Conway grabbed Paul by the arm and took him aside, angrily whispering to him.

    “Didn’t we agree that we’d ‘leave your personality at the door’?!” Conway reminded.

    “That was for Reggie’s case,” Paul reminded. “We never agreed to anything about Maylene. And anyway, it’s only the truth. I’d know because I fought her not that long ago.”

    Conway just smacked the side of his own head in frustration. “Oy vey, Paul. I guess you weren’t lying when you said you didn’t remember your mom. Only guys without mothers would go out of their way to treat women so disrespectfully!”

    Maylene cleared her throat, getting the boys’ attention. “Ahem, boys? I’m standing right here. And I can still hear everything you’re saying.” She then smiled a little. “I appreciate your attempts to be courteous for Paul, Conway, but you’d have better luck carrying on a conversation with a brick wall.”

    “Ah… sorry, Maylene,” Conway apologized, looking flustered. “He certainly has been a handful since I ran into him on the ship to Canalave City.”

    “Well, don’t worry about his rudeness for my sake,” Maylene assured. “Paul may think he’d broken my fighting spirit after he beat me, but if that were the truth, I wouldn’t still be a Gym Leader right now. I owe it to Reggie and the others who revitalized my spirit, and life has been wonderful for me ever since. There’s nothing Paul could say to bring me down now; not even if be beat me again.”

    Paul rolled his eyes. “Well, how wonderful for you. But I still see that you’re bitter.”

    Maylene adamantly shook her head. “I’m not sore about the loss, Paul; I’m being serious when it comes to the details of Reggie’s incident. I haven’t even mentioned the most telling detail about the change in his attitude… well, the change that I hadn’t witnessed myself yet, anyway.”

    “One you hadn’t witnessed yourself?” Conway wondered. “Oh, you mean Infernape’s case?”

    “That’s right,” she affirmed. “While Reggie’s Pokémon had taken a significant beating in all-out brawling each other… Infernape’s case was different. Infernape’s opponent was Reggie himself… and according to Infernape, all of this was Reggie’s idea.”

    That was enough to shut Paul up for a moment before he could gather his thoughts. “Wait… wait a second. You’re saying my brother organized what was essentially a bloodfest and called that training, and beat up his own Starter all before getting struck by lightning?”

    By this point, they finally reached the bed where Reggie had been for four days. Paul tried his best to wall up any emotions that tried to escape from his face when he saw his brother, still in bandages and looking like a wreck, on the hospital bed.

    “See for yourself,” Maylene said, pointing to Reggie’s hand, which was still completely wound up and bandaged. “He pretty much shattered his hand right there. When they analyzed it, the marks indicated that the injury was self-inflicted. He must have punched a rock on accident while trying to hit Infernape. And Infernape… Infernape ended up getting injured more severely than any of the others. But by this point, they’re all recovering well… even Reggie… right hand aside; he’s physically doing well considering what happened to him.”

    “And that’s nothing short of amazing,” Conway remarked. “It took Paul almost the entire trip here just to recover from a cold. Reggie recovering from a lightning strike in a shorter period of time… he was either born lucky or he’s genetically resistant to instant death or something.” He couldn’t help but smirk at Paul. “Guess that means you got the short stick of the gene pool. Might want to stay indoors during lightning storms from now on.”

    Paul replied by shoving Conway aside to sit at a chair next to Reggie to get a closer look at him. His brother currently looked peaceful, as the anesthesia was still in the process of wearing off; he would be regaining consciousness soon enough.

    “When we brought Reggie here, he woke up and claimed that he was talking to his mother,” Maylene informed, sitting at a chair on the other side of the bed. Though Conway was displeased with the shove he just received, he took a seat next to Paul. “I assumed he was having a near-death experience and reliving past moments of his life, but he swore to me that he was… ‘presently’ talking to his mother, who urged him to not give in to dying and to move on, saying that the family needed him and whatnot…”

    Paul looked up to Maylene, giving her an 'are you serious?' gesture, to which she sadly nodded. He then shook his head.

    “It’s just near-death psycho-babble; what can you expect? He was hit by lightning,” Paul said. “Of course he’s going to be imagining deranged things like that.”

    “That’s not the end of it, I’m afraid,” Maylene said regretfully. “And this part I’m sure is not psycho-babble. Reggie practically cried when he realized that the whole… talking-to-his-mother thing was just a dream. I tried to calm him down, telling him how happy we all were that he made it out alive and well… and that’s when he angrily snapped at me. He said that wasn’t the case. That not everyone was happy to see him alive and well… namely you and Brandon.”

    Paul’s eyes snapped wide open when Maylene said that. Conway gasped at the same time, looking to Paul.

    Maylene’s saddened expressions worsened as she witnessed the reactions. “That’s right… Reggie outright told me that he doesn’t believe either of you care about him anymore. He was highly upset that neither of you were here, and… it sounds like he really does believe that neither of you really love him because he feels like he’s the weakest link of the family. That’s when he started breaking anything he could find, and that necessitated the nurse to knock him out until I could get you to come here.” She took in a deep breath, feeling the pain all of them were going through at this time. “That’s why I think you’re the only one who can bring Reggie back to his usual, loving self, Paul. I don’t know how, but he wants you here with him. I really wish I knew how to get your dad in here too, but I can only do so much…”

    After a moment of silence, Paul’s shoulders slumped. The expositional onslaught hurt more than he thought it would have. “This… this really is all my fault…” He said quietly.

    Seeing Paul devastated like this made Maylene not want to ask Paul directly. Instead, she looked to Conway. “What’s he talking about…?”

    Conway sighed. “We talked about this on the way to Lake Valor while we speculated what was actually wrong with Reggie since you weren’t too specific about it over the phone. Paul brought up the fact that Brandon sent them both a letter…”

    “… Challenging them both to a battle,” Maylene finished. “I know that much already. I was going to look over Reggie’s place while he trained. Go on.”

    “Ah, right, sorry,” Conway muttered, taking off his glasses tiredly and wiping the lenses as he continued on. “So Paul was in Floaroma Town at the time Reggie sent him a copy of that letter. He told me that he actually threatened Reggie this time around that if he failed to defeat Brandon, he’d see to it that he’d have Reggie disowned from the family. Furthermore, Paul didn’t want to receive any more calls from him unless Reggie had a Brave Symbol in his hand. So, Reggie was facing some rather weighted and risky odds that logically fit this little puzzle as to why he ‘snapped’, as you call it.”

    Hearing this only made Maylene angry. She glared and looked straight at Paul, not caring that he was still reeling from the guilt. “Paul! How could you?!”

    “I’m going to apologize and take it back,” Paul said stiffly, but could not bring himself to look at anyone but his brother just yet. “If I’d known it was going to end up like this, I never would’ve said that to him.”

    “You never should’ve said it to him at all!!” Maylene argued. “That’s a horrible thing to say to someone who spent the majority of his childhood raising you in his mother’s place!”

    Conway shook his head, putting his glasses back on. “Really, it’s a horrible thing to say to any relative. But what matters now is that Paul’s learned his lesson, and hopefully the apology’s good enough to get the old Reggie back, right?”

    After considering that, Maylene calmed down and sighed. “You’re right… at least, I hope it’s enough. He’s brought up Brandon, though. I’m not sure if Paul alone can completely heal him. Even if Paul takes back what he said, Reggie’s still under a pressure-building time limit.”

    “Well, Brandon is an element none of us have any control over. Nobody can contact him, et cetera. We don’t have the means to go all over Kanto hunting for him, so that’s something Reggie’s just going to have to… come to accept, wrong as it may be,” Conway reasoned.

    “Huh…? Accept what…?”

    A new voice entered the conversation, and all parties looked to the source: Reggie had finally woken up. He was still drowsy, but otherwise seemed fairly normal, but a little unaware of his surroundings.

    “Reggie, you’re awake!” Maylene cried graciously.

    Reggie smiled to Maylene, though his eyes remained halfway-closed. “Hey, Maylene… what’re you doing here?”

    The smile on Maylene faded. “Reggie… do you remember where you are…? And what happened?”

    Reggie scanned his surroundings in front of him. “Hospital…” He murmured. He took a moment to register what he could remember, then yelped in pain when he lifted his right arm to extend his fingers, only to find that he couldn’t and it hurt immensely when he tried to do so. With that jolt of pain, things were coming back to him more quickly now. The smile on Reggie’s face went away as well.

    “I was struck by lightning… I remember now,” Reggie said quietly. “Infernape was backed up against a tree. I could feel it coming, and I knew what was going to happen… so I jumped and pushed Infernape out of the way-…” He paused. “Is Infernape…?!”

    “Infernape’s fine,” Maylene assured. “And you look a lot better now than you did when you woke up last time.”

    “Last time?” Reggie inquired. “What are you talking about?”

    Maylene looked to the side. “The lightning-strike incident was four days ago, Reggie. You were awake briefly the first day, then knocked out for the rest.”

    “… oh…” Reggie then looked depressed. “Well… even if Infernape did make it out alright, that doesn’t excuse what I did… and I suppose the doctors have had plenty of time to figure out what that was, right?”

    Maylene nodded. “It wasn’t right, but it isn’t entirely your fault, Reggie. Either way, we all forgive you.”

    Reggie blinked, looking confused. “What do you mean by ‘you all’…?”

    “Try looking the other way, genius.”

    Reggie looked around to see his younger brother trying his best to keep up his usual stance in spite of his depression and guilt over the situation. With just as much effort, Paul fought hard to keep the smile off his face when Reggie finally noticed him, but there were some feats even too difficult for Paul to perform. He gave his big brother a little wave from where he sat. “Hi, Reggie…”

    “Paul…” Reggie was nearly speechless. He almost thought he was seeing things, but ended that thought when his brother (reluctantly) initiated a hug. With his one good arm, Reggie clung on tightly to him. “Paul, how did you…?!”

    “Maylene let me know,” Paul responded, cutting Reggie off. “I had just finished earning my Mine Badge at the time, so… I only just now got here. I’m sorry you had to go this long with just Maylene for company.”

    Maylene rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help but smile at the scene. Conway too found this endearing, but felt the need to clear things up for Reggie’s sake.

    “Actually, Reggie, he would’ve gotten here sooner if he hadn’t gotten sick right after the Gym Battle,” he mentioned. “I advised him numerous times to wait it out, but he simply pushed himself too far. Either way, yes, we were quite far away at the time of the incident, so it was going to take us a few days to get here either way. But fret not; I took good care of your brother for you and he appears to be in excellent health.”

    Reggie looked closely to his brother and smiled in approval. “Looks like it, anyway!” Then he paused for a moment and looked to Conway while Paul moved away from his brother to scowl at his companion. “Wait a minute, who are you? You… kind of look familiar.”

    Conway smirked. “Like any good big brother, I imagine you watched the Tag Battle tournament that was televised in Hearthome City a while ago. I battled against your brother in the finals.”

    “And you lost,” Paul reminded him.

    “Yes, yes, I lost, you won, and didn’t even want the prize either as I recall,” Conway muttered as he resumed his friendly gesture towards the friendlier brother and extended a hand towards him. “Name’s Conway.”

    Reggie nodded and shook Conway’s hand. “Yeah, I definitely remember you now. You had the Heracross. You had some pretty neat strategies, as I recall. I’ve already met your partner from that competition, Dawn, as well.”

    Maylene’s smile widened as she looked to Conway. “So we were talking about the same person that day! Dawn helped me regain my fighting spirit!”

    Again, Reggie was confused. “What…?”

    Simultaneously, Maylene and Conway sung out, “No need to worry…!” That was the breaking point for Paul.

    “Can we stop talking about the stupid girl for one second?!” Paul cried out. “This is a serious issue here and you’re all pretending it isn’t there!”

    “O-oops, got caught up in the moment,” Maylene mumbled as she returned to her seat. “Sorry.”

    “Excuse me, mister smiley-face-who-jumps-up-and-hugs-his-brother. You’re lucky I don’t have a camera, or that would’ve been awesome blackmail to use against you to aid, say, Ash,” Conway muttered as he returned to his seat.

    Reggie looked to his broken right hand again, thinking back to what he did four days ago. What he’d done in the hospital hadn’t even come to mind, or perhaps even slipped his mind completely. “It’s true that this is serious… I let things get too far. I let the pressure consume me to the point where I was willing to throw away all of my morals… and do anything to win.” He looked to Paul. “You were right all along. I don’t fit in this family.”

    Paul stared at him, glaring harshly, before telling him in a low voice, “That is… without a doubt, Reggie, the stupidest thing that’s ever come out of your mouth. Don’t you dare ever say that again.”

    Of course, Reggie remembered their last video conversation and was therefore confused. “But you said…”

    “What I said was wrong,” Paul assured. “I never should have threatened you the way I did, because this is exactly where it ended up putting you: in a hospital. I almost lost you, and if I had known that ahead of time, I never would have said any of that, so…” Paul took a deep breath and sighed before finishing his apology. “I’m officially retracting all the threats I made in regards to the challenges the old man made out to us. You’re not the weak link in our family, and you can bug me on the phone whenever you want; I don’t care.”

    Reggie smiled, but somehow couldn’t believe it. “I feel like you’re letting me off too easily…”

    “Letting you off too easy would be getting you out of the old man’s challenge completely,” Paul corrected. “You’re nowhere near ready for it and this is going to set you back. Thankfully for you, Conway and I pulled some strings to buy you all the extra time you need.”

    Maylene blinked. “What are you talking about? What did you guys do?”

    Paul gestured towards his traveling partner. “Show them, Conway.”

    “With pleasure!” Conway reached down into his bag and pulled out none other than Legends of Sinnoh – the God among the Regi Trio for Reggie and Maylene to see. “Behold, my friends: the only book on Regigigas in Canalave City’s library, in Sinnoh, and in the entire world… not to mention the only copy.”

    Maylene and Reggie gasped simultaneously, speechless initially.

    Paul smirked. “Yeah, I thought you might like that.”

    While Maylene continued gaping, Reggie suddenly regarded the situation seriously. “So you did this on purpose… you knew I’d have to battle once dad found Regigigas, so you’re trying to give me as much time as possible to train by taking the only book that has information on Regigigas’ whereabouts and keeping it out of dad’s hands.”

    The smirk faded away from Paul’s face. “You see a problem with this?”

    “Well… dad’s letter said to report all information on Regigigas straight to him if we find any, remember?” Reggie reminded him. “Withholding the information would be dishonest.”

    Now Paul was frowning. “So after all I did to ensure that you could have time to battle the old man in a relatively fair fight, you want to throw all of that away to abide by his clearly lop-sided and unfair rules and lose again?

    “That’s not what I meant!” Reggie insisted, looking uneasy. “I appreciate this, Paul; really, I do, but…”

    “But you don’t accept it?” Paul assumed.

    Reggie wasn’t quite sure yet, actually. “Well, don’t make it so black and white. I mean, I haven’t even gotten out of the hospital yet, and…”

    “It’s a fairly easy question to answer, Reggie!” Paul said, demanding in tone. “Now answer it.”

    Before he could, Maylene interfered. “I think what Reggie’s trying to say is that he’s not sure how he feels about how he’s going to go about his training from here on out yet,” she tried to reason. “Give him some time. Let him recover first.”

    “Yeah, about that…” Conway said with a tone of lingering. “I checked out that book and it’s due in three days. Paul and I agreed to leave the fate of the book up to Reggie before we got here. I really don’t want to be charged late fees, so after the three days, I’m shipping it back to the library.”

    “We have read through the book already, however,” Paul noted. “Even it can’t seem to pinpoint a specific location, but it strongly hints that Regigigas is located somewhere around the outskirts of Snowpoint City.”

    “Here?!” Maylene exclaimed. “In Sinnoh?!”

    “That’ll certainly make it difficult for dad to get Regigigas, then,” Reggie mused. “He’s stuck all the way over on the Kanto region. Being a Frontier Brain is a pretty big deal, so I don’t think he can really leave Kanto unless it’s a big deal… and I’m not sure if they’ll let him leave for Regigigas. I mean, he didn’t need to leave Kanto for the other three, as I recall.”

    “Exactly,” said Paul. “So really, why torture the old man by even dangling it over his head? I’ll check out the situation myself since I’m heading up to Snowpoint City anyway for my next Gym Battle, but Reggie… I implore you not to give the old man the book if you know what’s good for you.”

    Conway looked slightly guilty. “I hate to pressure you, really, but for Paul, this is an awfully nice gesture, don’t you think?”

    Reggie looked to the book and sighed. He wanted to do the right thing, but… he really wanted to win and bring his family back together, too. And he wasn’t a fool; he knew it would hardly be fair going up against a man who would have three – make that four Legendary Pokémon on his team while he would have none.

    He looked to Maylene, then Conway, and then a very expectant Paul. With a conceding sigh, Reggie hung his head down. “Alright, I won’t give the book to dad. Thank you, Paul… you just took a great deal of weight off my shoulders.”

    “Well, that doesn’t give you an excuse to be lazy,” Paul reminded him. “You’re still going to have to work yourself to death almost every day just to have a shred of hope of ever getting that Brave Symbol; you’re that out of practice. Your old methods aren’t going to cut it this time; I hope you know that.”

    “Of course I know that,” Reggie grumbled, frowning. “Why else would I end up here? My usual training regimen doesn’t land me in a hospital. I just panicked and lost all sense of who I really was for a moment there… I’m going to have to do a bit of soul-searching to find out what the right way to train is.”

    Paul was about to open his mouth, but Reggie was quick to shut it by interrupting him. “And you of all people do not need to be giving me suggestions on how to train, Paul. If I recall correctly, you haven’t beaten him yet, either.”

    “Fine, I’ve done more than enough for you anyway,” Paul said snidely, looking away.

    Suddenly, Conway snapped his fingers, surprising everyone. “A-ha! I got it!”

    “Got what…?” Reggie asked quietly.

    The lenses of Conway’s glasses lit up as he grinned and looked directly at Maylene, which made her fearful for a moment. “The perfect plan; that’s what I got. I became inspired after refereeing Paul’s match with Byron. See, I’m kind of like a Pokémon Freelancer. I like to dabble in a bit of everything, but I spend more time reading up and studying the material than actually practicing it. But I’ve decided now that this is the best time to try out my first official Gym Battle! And I would like you to be my first opponent, Maylene!”

    “M-me…?” She said with disbelief, but then she smiled. “Well, I suppose I don’t see why not. You know, this is exactly how Dawn got me back into my groove…”

    Conway laughed out, in pure rapture to have another thing in common with Dawn. “No way…! That’s way too good to be true…!”

    Maylene nodded. “It is true. Instead of helping me, I suppose you’d like to battle me for Reggie to watch so he can get an idea of how he can train, though?”

    “Ah, yes, that’s about what I had in mind!” Conway affirmed. “We should inspire Reggie with our own battling techniques to help him find his own new way to battle and train. With any luck, he’ll find the successful path he’s been looking for all this time and it won’t be one that’s too intense and Paul-esque.”

    Paul grunted. “I’m sitting here right next to you, you know.”

    Conway just smiled. “Yeah, I know.”

    “My Gym is closed for renovations, unfortunately,” Maylene informed the boys. “But Reggie said I could use his backyard to take on challengers whenever I wanted. So when we get Reggie out of the hospital, I’ll see that we schedule a battle as soon as possible.”

    Reggie yawned. “Why not today? Seriously, the only thing physically wrong with me is my hand. I don’t think I need to stay in a hospital for that. The other Pokémon are okay, aren’t they…?”

    “They’ve healed up just fine,” Maylene assured. “Every one of them, and they’ve all forgiven you, so don’t worry yourself about that. I’ll go see a nurse and see about how soon we can get you out of here, alright?”

    Maylene waved to the others and almost made it out of Reggie’s room until she collided into another person who came into the room just then and fell onto the floor.

    “Oh…! Oh my!” Maylene flailed and looked around the floor for anything that was dropped or spilled. “I’m so sorry, Nurse Joy! That was totally my fault! I should’ve been watching where I was goi-”

    NO.

    Reggie and Paul knew the tone, volume, and voice of that negative remark all too well, and almost thought they were imagining it. Still, not wanting to take chances, Paul yanked the Regigigas book away from Reggie and hid it away. Thankfully, the bearer of the voice had yet to face the patient’s bed yet, as he was still focused on who had just run into him.

    Meanwhile, Conway winced as the sudden noise nearly made him soil himself. Nearly.

    “Okay, ‘sir’ and ‘mister’ are annoying enough to put up with on a daily basis as it is,” said the man, obviously none other than Brandon, who had finally made it to Veilstone City and the hospital after several mishaps with the river routes. “But ‘Nurse Joy’?! That is definitely a new one and the most insulting so far. You’ve got guts to be calling someone like me that, kid.”

    “Brandon?!” Maylene exclaimed, surprised and horrified at the same time. “B-but that can’t be! You’re supposed to be in Kanto…!”

    Reggie, Paul, and Conway viewed the scene from the corners of their eyes. The first two were in pure disbelief to see their own father back on his home turf for the first time in seven years, while Conway was merely intimidated.

    “Hm?” Brandon scrutinized the young lady as she picked herself up from the floor. “Oh, I see… you’re my city’s representative Gym Leader now, aren’t you? I expected you to be a little taller by now.”

    The fact that Brandon knew that piece of relatively recent news took Maylene off-guard. “Wh-wha… how did you know that?!”

    Brandon simply smiled. “Byron told me about it when I came to this region a few days ago. Still, you look fit and healthy. I trust you’re representing Veilstone City well, Maylene?”

    “Ah, as best I can…” Maylene said shyly, never having been addressed by name by Brandon in the past before. She’d certainly never defeated him in battle, and assumed he was only doing so now because she’d become an important person in his home city. “I just started the position recently, so I can’t tell you I’m perfect, but I’m improving with every passing day!”

    “Your honesty is admirable, at least,” Brandon said approvingly. “If I weren’t in a hurry, I would test your skills, but I have many things to take care of.”

    Maylene couldn’t help but shiver a little bit, as Brandon’s presence continued to give her and the others the chills. “Y-yes, that would be fine, Brandon. I’m sorry for mistaking you for someone else… I just never in a million years would’ve imagined you being the one coming through that door.” She then remembered that she did make her distress call to Paul to Byron’s Gym at the beginning, and Brandon had been talking with him. “I suppose Byron told you about Reggie, then…?”

    “He told me about both of those little trouble-makers,” Brandon said gruffly, before looking down to Maylene with concern. He hadn’t once thought to look to Reggie’s bed yet. Whether it had slipped his mind or he was reluctant to see what would be before him was uncertain, even to himself. “How are they…?” Brandon asked her quietly.

    Seeing the concern from the father himself relieved Maylene. “Follow me,” she urged. “I think you’ll find that it’s not as bad as we made it out to be initially. You’ve got two very strong boys, Brandon.”

    She led him to where Reggie laid in his bed, accompanied by Paul and Conway, sitting to his left. The three young men had been dead silent the entire time, all still registering the fact that Brandon was actually here in Sinnoh with them for some strange, mysterious reason, and he managed to catch up on the current events much more quickly than they gave him credit for. Regardless, Reggie couldn’t not be happy to see his father in person for the first time in years, and smiled to him, waving with his good hand.

    “Good to see you, dad,” he greeted shyly. “I’m really sorry I worried you… I had no idea you were even going to find out…”

    “Normally, I wouldn’t have,” Brandon said. “Things will have to change around here; that much is for certain…”

    Brandon looked to Paul, who briefly locked eyes with his father before looking away without saying a word.

    “Paul’s just being moody; don’t worry about him, Brandon,” Conway assured. “If you heard about him from Byron, then you should know that he has since made a full recovery as well.” He held out a hand to greet the Frontier Brain, completely unaware that he was about to blow his own cover. “It’s an honor to meet you, anyway; my name’s Co-”

    Brandon had not been paying much attention to anyone other than his sons at this point and completely cut Conway off when he noticed Reggie’s injury and took the nearest seat to the right side of Reggie’s bed.

    “Boy, what in the world happened to your hand?!” He asked, perhaps making a bigger deal out of it than he should have. Paul wasn’t sure what to make of this yet; all he cared about right now was making sure that Brandon did not find that book.

    Reggie was a bit shocked to see his own father make a big deal out of what was a relatively minor injury, considering what he’d just survived through four days ago… “Ah, that’s a long story… I accidentally smashed my hand against a rock while I was outside training before the lightning hit me.”

    Brandon blinked, almost in disbelief that he forgot that detail entirely. Mainly, it was because Reggie certainly didn’t act like someone who’d been struck by lightning… “Amazing in itself that one such as yourself could survive something like that… but you’ve recovered so quickly. It’s as if it never happened to you.”

    “Well…” Reggie looked down, seeming ashamed of himself. “I should’ve known better than to be training outside when the conditions outside were like that…”

    “That’s right. You should have,” Brandon interrupted, sounding very strict. “And normally, you do know better. What made you lose your mind all of a sudden?”

    That’s when Reggie gave some thought to his past actions and wondered if, after all, he was doing the right thing by battling him in the first place.

    Reggie could no longer look at Brandon. “I knew my usual training methods weren’t going to work this time. They hadn’t in the past, and they wouldn’t now, especially with me being out of practice… so I decided I needed to change the way I trained my Pokémon, and myself… and be consistent with it, and brave the elements if I was going to ever have a shred of hope of winning against you. I was desperate,” he admitted. “But I went too far. I think I temporarily lost my mind, and all of my Pokémon ended up getting needlessly hurt as a result. I’m just glad they didn’t get it as bad as I did… still, that may have been a sign that I need to give this up already. I’m not changing my mind about my career even if I did beat you, dad… the only reason I want to beat you is to show you that I’m…”

    Brandon’s expressions hardened, initially looking angry when he heard his first son considering giving up before trying again, but wanted him to finish, at least. “You’re…?”

    Reggie finally brought himself to look at Brandon. “I wanted to beat you… to show you that I’m not mom, okay?!”

    But even as he said that, the look Reggie was giving him… that angry, stubborn look reminded Brandon of Andrea in her younger, wilder days. He was beginning to feel uncomfortable, but now that he made it all the way here, he knew he couldn’t run away from this now.

    “… Fair enough,” Brandon finally said. “I can see where you would draw that sort of conclusion. You never told me this was the true reason why, though.”

    “Well… it isn’t the only reason,” Reggie admitted. “I’d kind of like to have this family back as a functioning unit again in some sort of capacity… but I know that’s asking for too much, because you can’t leave Kanto, and Paul and I won’t leave Sinnoh.”

    Brandon shook his head. “While it’s true I can’t quit my duties as a Frontier Brain, I’ll see about trying to establish a firm communication system with you. I believe this incident was a calling from beyond telling me that there may be future incidents like this where I just won’t conveniently happen upon an old friend who knows what happened to you. Still, I’m going to be very cross with you if you give up now.”

    “But…” Reggie was hesitant. “I… I hurt my Pokémon, and I ended up nearly getting myself killed…”

    “Yes, that was idiotic of you,” Brandon said, quite bluntly. “But you’ve learned not to go that route again. If I didn’t believe you weren’t naturally talented in battling, kid, I wouldn’t be pushing you as hard as I have all your life.” He looked past Reggie and straight to Paul, who’d been listening quietly the entire time. “The same goes for you, but unlike your brother, your talents have not yet gone to waste, obviously.”

    Paul just looked annoyed at that remark. “So I guess I’m supposed to take that as a compliment, then. Thank you so much, then, Honorable Old Man.”

    “Hush; I’ll deal with you in a bit,” Brandon assured, going back to Reggie. “I suppose I would be lying if I said your choice to be a Breeder hasn’t bothered me; it has. And… yes, it’s difficult not to compare you to your mother. But put yourself in my position for a moment, if you will, and imagine the reaction I had felt when I heard about what happened to you from Byron.”

    It didn’t take long for Reggie to piece it all together. “Dad… you thought I was going to…? Like her…?”

    Brandon nodded. “It felt very much like déjà vu. But I can plainly see here and now, without having to battle you, that you are not as much like your mother as I previously thought. To be able to recover from a lightning strike the way you have, you must have either incredible endurance or incredible luck. I doubt even I would have such endurance or luck if I were in your position.”

    Reggie laughed, trying to fight the tears back. “Oh, stop that. You know you could.”

    “Soon enough I’ll be looking much less invincible than I do now,” Brandon assured him. “Comes with the aging. But will you reconsider and battle me when I find Regigigas?”

    “We won’t let him give up,” Maylene cut in. She looked to the others. “Will we?”

    “Not a chance!” Conway concurred. “We’ve already got a strategy to help out Reggie’s inspiration, so there’s no way we’ll let that amount to nothing.”

    “Oh, I almost forgot,” Reggie recalled, blushing in embarrassment. “They were going to help me find a better way to train… now I just feel like an idiot for causing a scene… heh.” He looked to his father and smiled. “Sure, I’ll battle you. Can’t promise I’ll be as good as I used to be when I was a kid, but… I’ll try and make the best of the time I have left before you find Regigigas.”

    Now Brandon looked guilty. Like Paul, he too began to wonder if the pressure building from not knowing when he would be called upon for the battle of his life was what caused Reggie to initially snap and lose his mind.

    “This is a special occasion, boy. I want you to be at your best when you battle me,” Brandon insisted. “I understand there are time constraints, and… I have reason to believe that the reason you ended up here may be my fault, in a way, for needlessly pressuring you. So…” He closed his eyes and sighed. “Take as much time as you need. You may come to me, rather than me coming to you.”

    Everyone – Paul included – gasped after hearing this. But Paul glared soon after.

    “Wait, Reggie pulls the pity card and you’re letting him off easy?” Paul inquired. “Just like that?”

    “Were you even listening, kid?” Brandon asked his second son, annoyed to no end. “I want the best from him, and not only can I not get the best from my out-of-practice kid under a time constraint, but I’d rather not risk another incident like this. I’d like to hope you would feel the same way. Either way, you of all people shouldn’t be complaining about others having it easy. You still have a few more Gyms to earn Badges from, a League to compete in, and a Battle Frontier to conquer before you have to worry about facing me. If it’s anyone who has it easy between the two of you kids, it’s you.”

    Paul scoffed. “Please, don’t get me started on that. Pokémon training’s pretty much like riding a bike. You may get rusty, but you never forget how it’s done. All Reggie has to do is tear himself away from his motherly genes and act like his own gender for once, and he ought to be back in top shape in no time. I’m the one who has to do all of the dirty work just to get a crack at you, old man. And believe me; I want it a lot more than he does.”

    “Would you like a time limit instead, then?” Brandon challenged. “I imagine it would be much less fair to you, being less experienced, but you seem to be practically begging for it.”

    “Why bother?” Paul rhetorically asked with a smirk. “You’re never going to find Regigigas.”

    Just then… Brandon smirked back. “Funny you should mention that, actually. There’s something I’ve wanted to ask you.”

    Paul folded his arms and glared. “Ask away,” he said, almost as if he was daring Brandon to hit him with whatever he had. Reggie was beginning to look skeptical about this. Maylene and Conway were equally confused.

    “Since when have you taken to bringing along traveling companions?” Brandon asked, pointing directly at Conway. Conway then squeaked a bit in fear, looking extremely nervous. Paul began to look apprehensive, but shrugged it off.

    “He’s not exactly what I would call a ‘companion’, old man. More like a stalker, or a leech. Either way, I keep trying to get rid of him, but he’s latched onto me ever since I reached Canalave City. I’m hoping to shake him after tonight since I no longer require his services,” he explained calmly.

    “Hey, you still owe me a life debt!” Conway yelled out to him.

    Paul grumbled. “Can’t I just write out an IOU instead? I’m really not the type you’d want to stake your life on, and I’m getting sick of you enough as it is.”

    “Like an old married couple…” Brandon muttered under his breath before speaking up. “Well, Byron mentioned that he was tagging along with you when I spoke with him four days ago. I just found it interesting that you found yourself a little friend at last, though you seem to be in denial over the matter…”

    “Oh, like you’re one to judge!” Paul shouted back in retaliation. “Why do you even care? He’s just a little snot of a loser, anyway.”

    “Gee, I’m sitting right next to you,” Conway muttered.

    Paul nodded to Conway and feigned a smile, getting back at him for earlier. “I know.”

    “I was just wondering, kid, you didn’t stop by the Canalave Library while you were in the city, did you?” Brandon asked, seemingly completely innocently… but that immediately set off red alerts in the heads of everyone else in the room.

    After a brief moment of silence, Paul shook his head. “I went to the city, stopped by the Pokémon Center for a very brief moment, went straight to the Gym, passed out, and was then transferred to the infirmary where I immediately left to board a ship early the next morning to reach Reggie. I don’t think the library was even open during that time of day. So no, I never set foot in there.”

    “Fair enough,” Brandon conceded. Then he looked to Conway. “Now, how about your little friend here?”

    Before Conway could answer, Paul cut in. “His business is none of yours, old man.”

    “Is that so? I think it might be,” Brandon mused. “There’s a kid I happen to be looking for, you see. He happens to live right here in this city. He checked out a book that I am in dire need of. The only book of its kind and the only copy in the entire world… and I thankfully managed to get some information out of the librarian before I left Canalave City.”

    Paul gave his father an incredulous look while Conway nervously gulped. On second thought, he figured it might be best if he did keep quiet and let Paul do the talking, now that it known that it was him whom Brandon had been inadvertently chasing after throughout Sinnoh. Knowing that now, it took a great deal of willpower for Conway to not faint at that moment.

    “Additionally, the librarian told me the boy had dark green hair and wore glasses and went by the name of… Conway.”

    Paul immediately shot a glare to Conway to not make a sudden reaction to Brandon’s descriptions, his delivery of which was specifically meant to make any suspect squeal. He made sure to make it discreet, however, as he knew his father had two eyes and the other was watching the son as much as the first was watching the prime suspect.

    “F-funny coincidence, that,” Conway remarked at last, laughing nervously. “Too bad that’s not my name! Ahaha! Haa... ha…”

    Brandon was not in the mood for this game, however. “You were introducing yourself to me, as I recall. Your name certainly starts with a ‘C’, the way you were pronouncing it.”

    “Or hypothetically a ‘K’,” Conway pointed out. “But no, you’re right, it’s a C. Still, I’m not Conway. I’m… uh…” He tried not to take too long making up a name, as every second made him look more and more like a liar. “Colin…!”

    If ‘Colin’ was going to be that committed to the lie, Brandon figured to humor him and strike for a weak point when one made itself present.

    “Very well, then… ‘Colin’. May I ask you some things, without the interruption of my disrespectful offspring?”

    “Uh…” Conway looked to Paul, looking uncertain of himself, but Paul just shrugged it off, in a way trying to silently remind him that he no longer has the thing Brandon is looking for on hand anyway, which essentially put Conway in the clear. “Sure, why not?”

    “Very well, then. Colin, is Veilstone City your City of origin?” Brandon asked, calmly and casually.

    Conway wasn’t sure what this had to do with anything since it wouldn’t prove anything one way or the other, but he shrugged. “Actually, it is. On the southern end of the city, though.”

    This was a surprise for Paul, though. “It is?

    Conway smiled with amusement. “Whoops. Guess I forgot to tell you, huh? Small world, isn’t it?”

    “Clearly, it is,” Brandon agreed. “Then, Colin. Did you enter the Canalave Library at any point during your stay at Canalave City?”

    Conway bit at his lip, knowing somehow that answering “yes” was going to land him into a trap. At the same time, he had a similar feeling about the “no” option as well. Ultimately, he went with his gut feeling. “Yes, I did, but I go there all the time. This was no special occasion.”

    Brandon nodded. “I see, then. I was talking to Byron about my boy’s Gym Battle earlier and one of the first things he mentioned was you. To be mentioned first before anything about the battle itself must mean you did something noteworthy, Conway, so what was is that you did for my son’s Gym Battle?”

    “Oh, that!” Conway laughed that off. “It wasn’t anything special, really, I was just refereeing.”

    Then he paused. Everyone stared at him, except for Brandon. He let out a wicked grin. Paul groaned and slammed his palm against his forehead as Conway’s face turned pale as the poor adolescent covered his mouth.

    “HAH! I knew it!” Brandon shouted, pointing directly at the misfortunate bespectacled one. “You are Conway! You little rat! Thought you could sneak by the Pyramid King, didn’t you?!”

    “I’m sorry!!” He wailed. “Please, don’t hurt me!” He offered his bag as a peace offering. “Here, take whatever you want! Just please don’t call my mom!!”

    As Conway continued to bawl, Brandon raised an eyebrow strangely as he fished through the bag. He did indeed find a couple of books… but not the one he was looking for. “Kid… you don’t have what I’m looking for.” He closed Conway’s bag and tossed it back to him, but Conway was still in the midst of crying his eyes out, and thus the bag fell flat on the floor. There was no questioning the nature of this young man’s character now, Brandon knew. He sounded legitimately emotionally scarred.

    With that, he looked to Prime Suspect #2: Paul. “Okay, cough it up. I know you have it.”

    “Hm?” Paul pretended he wasn’t listening. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “You know exactly what I’m talking about,” Brandon accused. “Why else would you be so convinced that I would never be able to find Regigigas if you didn’t have the one and only book yourself?”

    Paul only smirked back at his father. “How are you so sure I have it on me and I didn’t just burn it or throw it into the ocean or throw it in a trashcan somewhere instead?”

    “Because if you did that and I never managed to actually find Regigigas, you’d never have that chance to take that crack at me that you claim you want,” Brandon retorted, now standing up and walking to the left side of the bed, past the still-sniffling Conway and straight towards his son.

    “What if I’ve already read it myself?” Paul asked in a hypothetical tone, though he actually had read the book. “Maybe I want to capture it for myself. Maybe I think you have too many of those things in your collection, anyway. Regirock, Registeel, Regice, Reggie… what’s the harm in sharing just one?”

    Brandon glared down at him. “Don’t even joke about that nonsense. You don’t have the qualifications to capture a Legendary Pokémon. It’s my duty and mine alone to capture it, so cut out the childishness and hand over the book already before I lose my patience with you.”

    Paul looked at his father for a moment before rolling his eyes, opting to stare out the window instead. “Oh, please spare me the great wrath of the Pyramid King. I’m not Conway, you know. I won’t break down in tears by- AGH!”

    Paul was cut off by abruptly being held up by the scruff of his neck as if he were a baby Skitty. It wasn’t nearly as pleasant for a human, but it did more than enough to get Paul kicking and flailing helplessly until he would eventually concede. That’s what Brandon’s plan was, anyway.

    “Put me down!! This is degrading! Do I look like a feline Pokémon to you?!” Paul hollered, trying to release himself, but to no avail. He could not escape the strong grasp of his father.

    “You were acting a little ‘catty’, so perhaps,” Brandon replied. “I’ll put you down if you give me the book.”

    Ever-stubborn, however, Paul refused to comply. “Oh, bite me, old man! You’ve just crossed the line!”

    “Funny that you say such a thing, as if you already haven’t been on thin ice yourself,” Brandon said, a bit more seriously. “But really, I can keep this up as long as I need to.”

    But now, Reggie had seen enough. “Everyone, stop this right now!”

    The others paused to look to Reggie, who was beyond irritated at this point.

    “Conway, for goodness’ sake, stop your sniveling; the heat’s already off you, first of all,” Reggie requested.

    “O-okay…” He said uneasily. Maylene, who had been stunned with silence by what she had seen, got a box of tissues for Conway to blow his nose with.

    “Dad, put Paul down already. Here’s the book you’re looking for,” Reggie said, pulling none other than the Regigigas book out from under his pillow sheet. “He only got this book for my sake, because he was worried about me. But since you’re letting me train at my own speed, we don’t need to keep it a secret any longer.”

    “Huh?” Brandon looked over to see that his oldest son was indeed telling the truth. He dropped Paul without even thinking to receive the book, and saw that it was indeed genuine. “This… this is it! This is what I’ve been looking for…!”

    Paul crashed down to the floor meanwhile, landing on his knees. He grunted on impact and glared up at the others. “Yeah, don’t worry, I’m fine, everyone. Thanks for your concern.”

    Maylene tsked and shook her head. “Paul, I hate to say this, but you really deserved that.”

    “Why haven’t you left yet?” Paul retorted, standing up. “You’re not of relevance to any of this, Maylene.”

    Reggie glared at his brother. “I happen to agree with Maylene, Paul. Your attitude’s completely uncalled for. You know the reason you got me this book was to buy me extra time, and dad’s giving it to me anyway. There’s no point in keeping the book away from him now.”

    “You promised me you wouldn’t give him that book!” Paul accused, pointing to Reggie. “You just stabbed me in the back the second the old man one-upped me!”

    “Excuse me, I never promised you anything,” Reggie corrected. “I just said I wasn’t going to, under the assumption that dad wasn’t going to change the rules on us. He did, so stop being so dramatic.”

    “You know…” Conway, considerably calmer now, re-entered the conversation. “We did make an agreement that the fate of the book would lie in Reggie’s hands, Paul. The second you gave that book to him, I think he’s well within his rights to decide where it goes and whom he gives it to, so with all due respect…”

    “Conway, you’re not helping!” Paul barked back at him. “I’ve got better things to do than sit here and be singled out by a bunch of losers. I have a journey to finish, so I’ll just be on my way now.”

    Brandon was done admiring the book just in time to notice that his youngest son was about to vacate. “You will sit back down in your seat until the conversation is over, boy. This is the first time in seven years since I’ve been home. Naturally, I’ll have to leave tonight, but I won’t stand for you leaving early simply because you’re behaving like a petulant child.” He looked directly down at Paul with a smirk just then. “By the way, I could not have possibly ‘one-upped’ you if I was unaware of your intentions with this book in the first place. It’s true I suspected that you took it, but I wasn’t aware that it was to help your brother. I assumed it was only to spite me.”

    “Well, now it is,” Paul assured, glaring at both his father and brother now. Still, he took his seat, not wanting to end up on another end of his father’s disciplinary holds.

    “Sorry for lying to you, Brandon,” Conway apologized. “If it helps, the two of us have already read through the book. Even it doesn’t list a specific area where Regigigas is held, but it strongly insinuates that it resides in the areas surrounding Snowpoint City, so you’ll probably want to start there.”

    This took Brandon by surprise. “You don’t say… so it’s native to Sinnoh after all.” He smiled. “This should be a good time to revisit some of my favorite areas of this region. It’s changed quite a bit since I was here last, so I might as well enjoy it while I can. Thank you for the tip.”

    Conway chuckled nervously and shrugged. “It’s the least I can do for deceiving you like that…”

    To that, Brandon only laughed. “Don’t flatter yourself, kid; I knew you were lying the entire time. I just needed to verify it. All the same, it relieves me that you aren’t a nasty boy like my little one over there. That’s what I was primarily concerned about: that this book fell in the wrong hands. This is a one-of-a-kind variety, and I couldn’t afford to lose it to someone of ill intent.”

    “I’m sure you’ll find Regigigas,” Maylene assured with a nod. “All things considered, this was a pretty fortunate event for all of us.”

    Brandon nodded, looking to Reggie. “So, it has been four days, and aside from your hand, you look perfectly fine, boy. How much longer will you be here for?”

    “Actually, I was hoping to kind of get out of here tonight,” Reggie explained, optimism present in his tone. “Maylene was about to ask a nurse about that before you came in.”

    “Hm…” Brandon seemed to be considering something for a moment before smiling and looking to the others. “Let’s make it official, then. There’s something I’d like to do before I leave for Mt. Coronet.”







    After consulting with a nurse, getting the paperwork filled out, and Reggie’s Pokéballs out from the care units (not to mention a bit of awkwardness for Reggie getting back into the habit known as “walking” that he hadn’t done in four consecutive days now), Brandon, Reggie, Maylene, Conway, and a very reluctant Paul gathered together at the entrance of the hospital lobby.

    “Even at my age, I still have much to learn, it seems,” Brandon admitted to the others. “Even with a job as demanding as mine, going seven years without setting foot in my own city is a travesty. I will see to it that things improve in the future. I still believe this incident was a message from the heavens, calling out to me to connect with both of my sons with a bit more effort, and I’m sure they would like the same…” He looked to Paul specifically. “Whether they admit it or not.”

    Paul brushed the comment aside and looked away. “Whatever. One day’s not going to make up for seven years of being a deadbeat, old man.”

    “Perhaps not,” Brandon mused. “But it’s never too late to start making amends.” He then looked to Reggie. “It took a great deal of bravery to be straightforward with your feelings, boy. I only wish you had done so sooner, but doing that and giving me this book when you didn’t have to shows me a sense of bravery I haven’t seen since… well, since the day your mother first stepped into this city as a child when she moved from Verdanturf Town.”

    Conway smirked. “Something tells me there’s a long story behind that one.”

    “There is,” Brandon affirmed. “But that will be for another time. My boy knows it, though; perhaps he can tell you.”

    Reggie laughed at that. “There you go, comparing me to mom again…”

    Brandon shrugged helplessly. “All I can say is… it’s become a habit after all these years. Still, since I’m going to be in hot pursuit of Regigigas for the rest of my trip in Sinnoh, don’t think I’ve forgotten that your birthday is in about a month. Your eighteenth birthday, no less.”

    “No way,” Reggie gasped out. “Y-you’re giving me a present early this year…?”

    “You’ve earned it,” Brandon replied, holding out a cardboard box. “Admittedly, these are more for your Pokémon than they are for you, but there’s more after this. I’d just like you to see these first.”

    Since Reggie couldn’t handle the box with both arms, Brandon set the box on a table for Reggie to open himself. When he opened it, he was amused to find weighted exercise bands of bright and vibrant colors inside.

    “These should greatly aid your Pokémon’s natural strengths during training,” Brandon explained. “But as you can see, they are weighted, so they will slow your Pokémon down as they train. However, they will build up endurance, and therefore become stronger when battling in normal conditions.”

    He then began to point out to each one individually to describe them. “The one in green is the Power Weight, which will aid your Pokémon’s stamina. The purple one decorated with lenses is suitably called the Power Lens and will enhance your Pokémon’s non-physical damaging attacks. The red one is the Power Bracer, which will increase the level of your Pokémon’s strength. In orange is the Power Belt, made for fortifying a Pokémon’s defenses. Then there’s the Power Band, in yellow, which builds up your Pokémon’s resistance to special attacks, and finally, in blue is the Power Anklet. It slows the Pokémon down, but it will become much faster after enough training.”

    Reggie was beyond flattered when he looked at them all. “I… I don’t know what to say…”

    Maylene looked excited. “Hey, I think I remember using something like these! I believe some of the trainers at Veilstone Gym are still using them! But I remember Lucario and I did some intensive training a long time ago with weights. They really made a difference!”

    “You have a Lucario now, do you?” Brandon asked Maylene, interested. “The same baby Riolu you received from your parents, I presume?”

    “The one and the same!” Maylene affirmed, smiling. “We’ll both work hard and make sure Reggie’s fully prepared to battle you when the time is right.”

    Brandon nodded, certain that he could trust the new Gym Leader. “I’m sure you will. But those are for the Pokémon. I have one more birthday present for you, boy.”

    Reggie turned around, curious again. “Really, dad, it isn’t necessary…”

    “After seven years, I believe it is,” Brandon said adamantly. This time, he dug around in his own side-pocket and pulled out something that looked like what an archaeologist such as Brandon would dig up, but at the same time, it was oddly dainty and feminine… either way, it was aged, fragile, yet well-protected. “And I know for certain your mother would want you to have this, because it used to belong to her.”

    “That’s…” Reggie’s eyes widened, as he recognized it instantly. “Mom’s Shell Bell… I thought it was lost…!”

    It was indeed a Shell Bell, but something of a customized one, as it was held together by a string of small pearls and the shells composing of the necklace seemed to sparkle. In the middle of the front shell was a strategically-placed gem that resembled a diamond, somewhat.

    “I believe I neglected to tell you, though, that I was the one who actually made this,” Brandon mentioned as he carefully laid the Shell Bell into Reggie’s palm. Reggie himself stared deeply into his mother’s necklace, but did not tune out his father’s words.

    “You made this…?” He asked quietly. “But… how…?”

    Brandon smirked. “This Shell Bell is a bit older than you initially thought. I was about your age when I made it, actually. I went to Hoenn on my own one day and traveled to the Shoal Caves in order to collect the necessary amounts of Shoal Shells and Shoal Salts to make the basic Shell Bell. I then customized it, keeping your mother’s interests in mind. When I finished it and presented it to her, she seemed to prefer it to the customary engagement ring.”

    Much as he tried to pretend not to, Paul was listening, and he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Reggie didn’t know this either, and he found himself short of breath as he looked up to Brandon.

    “You’re… giving me what was… mom’s engagement necklace…?” He asked his father, voice full of emotion, as if he were about to cry.

    Brandon, much firmer with his emotions, nodded, but still couldn’t help but be elated for his own son’s happiness. “Understand that I am giving you that necklace for a reason. You’re going to be eighteen soon… and no longer a boy. Time will be passing rapidly for you, so I want you to find a special person to honor with that necklace. Someone you trust… someone you know who will always be there for you. That’s what I had in mind when I made this. That’s what I wish for you to have in mind when you…”

    But Brandon could not even finish his speech before Reggie already made his decision. Brandon’s eldest son approached a stunned Maylene and donned her with the necklace. Needless to say, she was speechless.

    Brandon himself was at a loss for words for a moment before regathering his thoughts. “Ah-… you’re awfully quick to make a decision, aren’t you? It isn’t wise to be hasty, boy. You’re not eighteen yet.”

    Reggie just shook his head and smiled to his father. “Dad… I wouldn’t be standing here and talking with you right now if it wasn’t for Maylene. She was there for me when no one else was. When you’re off in Kanto and Paul’s off journeying… she’s still there to talk to me, and laugh with me… and understand me, and be there for me when I’m sad. I don’t mean to disrespect the meaning of the necklace, dad… but right now, I can’t imagine anyone right now who deserves it more than Maylene. Please understand.”

    Taking that into consideration, Brandon looked to the still-stunned (and now massively-blushing) Maylene, who now seemed to be borderline-hyperventilating as quietly as she could.

    “So you have given this thought,” Brandon mused. “I suppose I can allow it… for now.”

    Conway was immensely amused with this turn of events. “Uh-oh… looks like you’ve got a future in-law, Paul.”

    Paul looked furious, but Reggie held his hands up to signal the others to calm down. “Now wait just a second…! That’s not what I meant! Come on; you know she’s too young…”

    Conway raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Is that the only reason?”

    Reggie grumbled. “Quiet, you. This may have been an engagement necklace to dad, but to me, this is my symbol of gratitude for everything Maylene’s done for me that everyone else has fallen through on. And I trust Maylene will take good care of my mom’s necklace; I can’t think of anyone better to take care of it. She’d probably handle it better than I would, honestly.”

    “That’s the kind of thing I like to hear,” Brandon complimented, clapping his hands. “You trust her to care for and respect the necklace above all else. You can alter the meaning if you’d like, boy, but I do hope you’ll settle down eventually after we battle.”

    “After we battle?” Reggie inquired, not understanding. “But… what if I don’t win?”

    Brandon only smiled as he began to exit the hospital. “Boy, try to focus on being optimistic. That’s what we’ve known and loved you for, anyway. Maylene, I don’t believe I need to tell you to keep my kid in line, do I?”

    “N-no, sir! I mean Brandon!” She sputtered, as she and the others followed Brandon outside the hospital and into the streets of Veilstone City. By now, the sun had long since set and the moon shined brightly in the sky. “I’m going to protect and respect this necklace no matter what, as well as be there for Reggie, sir! … I-I mean Brandon, geez!” Maylene flailed, trying her best not to lose her cool in front of the others.

    Upon seeing this, Brandon could not resist laughing. He only wished Andrea could witness all of this. “It felt nice to do this… it was long overdue.” He walked to Reggie and patted him on the shoulder. “Again, I cannot express how grateful I am that you made it out of this alive. Believe it when I say this will change things in the near future, and… when you are ready, I hope to see you soon.”

    In an unexpected move, Reggie hugged his father. Brandon was taken aback by this and somehow could not bring himself to return the hug, but smiled nonetheless. “… But as always, you’re still too soft, boy.”

    Hearing that, Reggie let go and immediately looked embarrassed. “Well, I… yeah. I hope to see you soon, dad… good luck on finding Regigigas.”

    Brandon happily nodded to his eldest son before making a short stroll to his young one, who had kept his mouth shut for quite a while now.

    “Any last words, kid?” Brandon asked Paul in a demeaning tone. “I might not be so merciful the next time we cross paths.”

    “It’s going to be soon,” Paul promised in a scathing tone. “We’re basically going the same way. You for Regigigas; myself for a Gym Battle. It’s inevitable. But I’ll be coming prepared. Don’t be surprised when I completely annihilate you.”

    To that threat, Brandon grinned. “Sounds like fun. I’ll see you there.” He then distanced himself from the others and waved. “I’ll be going now, then. All things considered, this was a fine reunion. Best of luck to all of you.”

    Barring Paul, everyone waved and bid their farewells to Brandon as he began to walk off and faded in the distance.

    “What a day,” Reggie said, now sounding exhausted. “After four days of hospital fluids, I think I’m ready for a big dinner at home. How about you, Maylene?”

    Maylene couldn’t help but blush, but nodded in agreement. “Your body must be deprived of nutrients, Reggie! If we’re to get you back in top shape for training, we’ll have to get you well fed!”

    “Then stop talking about it and let’s go home already,” Paul complained. “I might as well come, too. I wasn’t aware it was this late…”

    But just then, Reggie turned towards Paul with a glare. “Uh… I don’t think so, bro.”

    There was an uncomfortable silence following that statement as Paul stared at his now-angered older brother. “What did you just say to me…?”

    “That attitude you had, you throwing a fit over absolutely nothing…? Do I need to remind you about that?” Reggie stated, very sternly. “I couldn’t believe you would be so cruel and selfish. I’ve been through enough for one day, Paul, so I can do without your blatant disrespect for the people I hold dear to me.” He clearly was referring to Maylene now. “Conway, I hate to trouble you, but can Paul stay over at your place for tonight? I think he just needs to get this out of his system, and you seem to balance him out well enough.”

    Conway was surprised at first to be offered to have Paul as a sleepover guest in his own home, but he quickly nodded and acted casual about it. “Not a problem, Reggie! I’ve got a bunk bed in my room and everything suitable for such an occasion.”

    Paul was aghast at this. “You can’t be serious. You’re kicking me out?!”

    “Just for tonight,” Reggie clarified. “Think things over for a bit and realize what a complete jerk you’ve been tonight, Paul. It’s not like I’m leaving you out on the streets or anything. Conway will take good care of you; I’m sure.”

    “He’s right, Paul,” Conway concurred. “Besides, it’ll be fun. Haven’t you ever been curious about what it’s like at Casa Conway?”

    Paul just groaned and grasped at his hair. “No, I haven’t…”

    Reggie rolled his eyes and sighed. “Get over it, okay? It’s just for one night. I need time to clear out my head, and that’ll be hard to do with you around. I’ll see you two tomorrow, anyway. Conway’s got a Gym Battle, right?”

    “For sure!” Conway agreed with a wink. “I’ll be there and I’ll bring him with me. Prepare yourself for a battle of epic proportions, Maylene!”

    Maylene laughed nervously. “Looks like I’m going to need to clear my mind tonight as well after dinner. You’re going to be one fearsome opponent.”

    “My strategizing shall prevail!” Conway proclaimed. “Come along, Paul! We must concoct the perfect plan… to win my first gym badge!!” And excitedly, he dragged Paul by the arm and went down the southern route of the city towards his house. When overly excited, Conway was quite a runner, Paul noted, but he was quick to drag him back and off his feet after the first few minutes.








    “Will you get over yourself already?!” Paul yelled, then continuing to calmly walk the rest of the way to Conway’s house as Conway pulled himself up and muttered a few complaints about being knocked over. “It’s like you’re trying to kidnap me or something…”

    Conway smirked. “Well, while I am eager to show you my humble abode, I believe Reggie does seek some quality alone time with the future in-law.”

    Paul shot Conway an icy glare just then. “Don’t even joke about that.”

    “Okay, then, I’ll try the other theory,” Conway decided. “You’re jealous because you didn’t get a birthday present.”

    To that, Paul just raised an eyebrow at his companion. “Conway, my birthday’s more than half a year away. We usually give each other presents on time.”

    Conway was surprised, for he was certain that at least that theory of his was accurate. “Wait, wait, wait. You mean to say you participate in this kind of thing, too?”

    Paul nodded. “It was Reggie’s idea… you know, another one of his crazy ideas to ‘keep the family together’. Normally I’d call it a worthless tradition, but I have gained something useful from it.”

    “You don’t say…” This impressed Conway. Such a simple tradition, and yet another attempt by Reggie to keep the family as a functioning unit. “What did you gain, exactly?”

    “Well…” Paul was hesitant to admit this… “Last year, the old man managed to find something useful for me for my birthday last year. He gave me a Razor Claw. I wasn’t exactly certain what to do with it, but in his letter, he suggested that I give it to my Sneasel to boost its power. I did so, and soon after… during night training, my Sneasel evolved into Weavile.”

    Conway grinned. “See, your dad likes you! He gave you something nice! Why don’t you ever do something like that for him?”

    “Didn’t I tell you I participate already?” Paul asked, purely annoyed. “I gave the old man a Pokémon last year. I’m not sure if he actually uses it, but I was scouting for a strong Pokémon for myself at the time. That was the day I met and captured Chimchar. Moments before I encountered Chimchar, I caught a Ninjask. After comparing the move sets, I kept Chimchar and gave Ninjask to the old man for his birthday.”

    “Interesting,” Conway remarked. “You caught a fully-evolved Pokémon for your dad. Guess that’s kind of a nice gesture. I suppose, perhaps, it’s because you two are too similar in personality that you just tend to clash whenever you meet…”

    Paul looked away and closed his eyes. “I’m getting sick of your theories, Conway.”

    Just then, Conway’s eyes brightened up. “Well, say goodbye to them! We’ve just hit Casa Conway! Come on in!”






    As Conway shoved Paul into his house, Reggie and Maylene were on the way to Reggie’s house. Almost immediately, he asked her who was taking care of his Pokémon in his absence as well as her own, and explained that Connally came in intermittently to care for them until they returned.

    “You know, I just realized something…” Maylene said out of nowhere.

    Reggie looked to her, wondering what was on her mind. “What is it?”

    “Well… you know… I can’t help but notice that… not only have I not seen the Battle Pyramid anywhere nearby, but Brandon walked pretty much in the wrong direction when he left us. Didn’t you notice that…?”

    Reggie thought about it… then he smiled. “The lack of the Battle Pyramid hadn’t come to my mind… but I think I know why he went east, rather than west towards Mt. Coronet.”

    “You know why? Really?” Maylene asked, full of curiosity.

    “Yeah…” Reggie was pretty sure about it. “I think he went to see mom first before he leaves the city.”

    “Oh…” Maylene blushed again at the mention of Reggie’s mother as she looked down at the Shell Bell hung around her neck. “You sound like you know that for sure…” And in a way, Reggie’s calm certainty was making her uncomfortable. She hadn’t forgotten Reggie’s initial rage when he first woke up, and it seemed that he completely forgot that it ever happened. He was relatively normal now…

    She wondered if perhaps he just needed a few days of rest to calm his mind… or if this was just the calm before the storm. Maylene suspected this because she’d never once seen Reggie be so assertive towards his cruel, younger brother before. Reggie was more-or-less back to normal, it seemed…

    But something had changed in him.

    “We’ll know for sure tomorrow morning,” Reggie told Maylene, holding her hand rather suddenly. “Dad knows how to mark the territories he’s been to… and I can already see them.”

    Maylene’s heart skipped a beat. “S-see what…?”

    “Four beautiful magnolias.”

    ( TBC )

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  10. #10
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travels of the Trifecta! (Anime, PG-13)

    So I wrote up a reply but it got eaten.

    Anyway! As I said on Serebii, I love this fic. And I want to hug Conway after this chapter, especially his insistance about returning the book.

    And something he said interested me--when he told Paul how lucky he was to have a respectful older brother, it made me wonder who Conway himself is related to (for some reason my mind lept to Saturn. I'm not sure why, other than Veilstone).

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    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travels of the Trifecta! (Anime, PG-13)

    Aw, would've loved to read the whole thing~ but HAH, yeah, poor Conway gets involved in the horrors of book crime inadvertently and then gets treated like a Phoenix Wright suspect and just about wets himself just because Brandon initially scares him that much. And to think I'm going to break that guy's heart in the near future when Paul does manage to break off their partnership temporarily just so I can adapt in Wind Town... (and now the actual canon Brandon thing). Conway will be getting even with Paul about a dozen times, at least, so when the time comes that Paul does manage to tear Conway off of him, Paul will probably feel like clawing his own face off. It just still dazzles my mind off why the two work so well together as a duo and why no one else has tried this combo out to my knowledge. Then again, everyone talks about the Brandon theory but I don't really know anyone but myself who actually went and wrote about it, so...!

    Saturn being related to Conway, I could see. Chapter 8's going to be focused on Conway's family in comparison to Paul's (as well as the Maylene battle), but it'll just be a few OCs, and Conway gets a spiteful and bitchy older sister. I'm actually being lazy and almost directly porting her from a 1970s shoujo anime, but I do really like the Saturn thing. Saturn's such a fruit that I could see him being a cousin or something. Conway's parents would be so busy and inattentive that they wouldn't notice what Saturn really does anyway, and I could see Saturn looking to take Conway's sister on as a Galactic intern (she'd be Reggie's age) someday, only she doesn't really know what Saturn works for because all he ever says is that it's some "top-secret government organization" or something vague along those lines.

    But that would be funny...

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  12. #12
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travels of the Trifecta! (Anime, PG-13)

    Now I want to know what series you're getting her from.

  13. #13
    Gonna be a tl;dr Master! Shinneth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travels of the Trifecta! (Anime, PG-13)

    Franny (name and all) will be derived from Candy Candy, which was apparently a widely popular historical shoujo anime (of the non-magical variety) from the mid-to-late 70s. In its anime incarnation, it spanned across 115 episodes overall and spawned a few OAVs as well. On Youtube, someone's already uploaded the series with English subs all the way up to Episode 109 if you ever find the time to kill (it's practically impossible to obtain this series in English any other way), but it's a genuinely touching series. Granted, Franny herself doesn't debut until pretty late in the series - episode 63, specifically, and even then I think it takes a couple more episodes before it sheds real light on just how antisocial she really is. 63's the beginning of the next major storyline arc, I believe.

    Franny of the Conway's sister variety won't be a practicing nurse like the Candy Candy one is, and she'll be much more of a snark (just in the genes!), but I expect she'll still have unreasonably high standards for Conway (just like how Paul has unreasonably high standards for Reggie) and have the same antisocial "I've invested too much time in paying attention to you for one day" attitude after so long, but since she's got a Conway-level or higher level of knowledge, she'll be pretty amused with the fact that her dorkwad little brother not only managed to bring home a friend for the night, but it's quite a status-noteworthy friend too. Who knows if Paul's going to actually get anything from the experience, but Conway's moooost definitely jealous of Paul for having a much nicer sibling.

    Candy Candy Franny happens to have siblings - quite a few of them, actually (and drunk and disorderly parents whom she never seems to actually visit during the series; she just sends them letters and gifts) but really hated talking about them. Either way, with some modifications, I thought she sure could pass for a Conway sibling, and if I'm going to be developing Conway so ridiculously much in the story, I may as well give him some more women in his life... the ones that impact him negatively. ♥ And... Franny's totally going to know all about Dawn. That's the main source of teasing from all members of Conway's family. Might as well have that positive womanly influence burn that creeper in some ways; it'll make Paul content.

    Chapter 19: Black Ice Battle!
    plurk | SPPF | dA | ff.net

  14. #14
    Achroma = <3 Juuchan17's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travels of the Trifecta! (Anime, PG-13)

    This fic is just AWESOME.

    I'm loving the good-old family drama and all. The adventures with Conway are priceless. *starting to like him more thanks to this* Can't wait to see how the next chapter goes!

    - Juuchan17

  15. #15
    Reader and Writer Legacy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Travels of the Trifecta! (Anime, PG-13)

    Agreed. This is an epic story so far! i am pumped to read more!

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