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  1. #16

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 16
    A Grave Reunion


    Though Jim saw it as a thinly-veiled attempt to keep him from staying too closely on Nigel’s heels, he had to admit that his advice had some merit to it. Too often, he felt like he was only staying in cities long enough to battle the Gym and earn a badge. He’d hardly had time to just stop and take a look around the town itself. He didn’t really know why he was taking the trouble to speed through as much as he could; he didn’t even know when and where the Pokemon League was being held. Therefore, why should he continue to just blast through Unova without taking the time to appreciate what it contained? He resolved, in that case, to visit the Celestial Tower and see what history lay behind it.

    After healing up, and upon receiving directions from Nurse Joy, the two Trainers and their companions headed northeastwards, where they’d find a small grove in the route ahead where the Celestial Tower was situated. Nurse Joy also told them that the route would take them to Twist Mountain, which they would have to pass through to move on to their next stop, Icirrus City. Neither Jim nor Leanne liked the sound of another mountain or cave to pass through, but would have to get over it if they wanted to move on.

    The route to the mountain was quiet and still, littered with autumn leaves and dotted with patches of very tall grass. Here and there, he could see flocks of Tranquill, a Deerling or two, and even a Blitzle among the brush. Twist Mountain loomed overhead to the north, and to the east, within a circle of trees, loomed a column of white stone. That, Jim reasoned, must unquestionably be the Celestial Tower, so it was toward this that the two Trainers turned their steps.

    As soon as they came within the grove, Jim couldn’t help but notice a profound atmospheric change. Within this circle of trees, everything was absolutely silent. Not a breath stirred, not a Pokemon cried out, there was no rustle of grass or leaves. All was absolutely silent, so silent that he could hear June’s quiet breathing from his shoulder. He was afraid even to speak.

    He felt a hand grab his, and he jumped nearly out of his skin. Thankfully, it was only Leanne, and he reciprocated the pressure, the two moving forward to the entrance, hearts palpitating.

    Whatever Jim was expecting when he entered, it wasn’t this.

    They were standing in a circular hall, with a winding staircase occupying the wall, spiraling upwards. The floor was devoted to countless marble headstones, like those in a cemetery. Circling the floor also were what looked like unusually large, but still tiny, white wax candles, burning with purple flames.

    “Those are Litwick,” June whispered in Jim’s ear.

    “Litwick?”

    “Candle Pokemon. Those flames on their heads grow bigger the more life energy they consume. They evolve into Lampent.”

    Jim remembered seeing the Lamp Pokemon during the Nimbasa Tournament, the one Leanne battled with Zorua. Its Pokedex description chilled him there, and June’s description of these pre-evolved forms also gave him the shivers.

    “Welcome, young ones.”

    Jim and Leanne jumped. The voice came right from their left. Turning, they saw an old woman, dressed in what looked like a religious habit, who bowed her head in respect to them.

    “How may I assist you?”

    “We just wanted to take a look around,” said Jim. “What is this place?”

    “This is the Celestial Tower, built to be a final resting place for Pokemon no longer of this world.”

    “No longer of this world…You mean, dead Pokemon?”

    “Indeed. I see that you, like many, are not knowledgeable in this. It is nothing to be ashamed of. There are many who do not realize the mortality of Pokemon, merely going only by the extent of their energy in battle…not knowing how very real the thread of mortality is in the real world…”

    Jim and Leanne looked at each other with grimaces.

    “And the Litwick?” asked Leanne.

    “They are guardians of the Pokemon spirits within the Tower. Their flames burn with the essences of Pokemon at peace.”

    “Wow…”

    “Is it all right if we look around the tower?” Jim asked.

    “By all means,” said the woman. “If you’d like, we have something very special at the top: an old bell. Those who visit the tower ring it to honor those they know that have passed on.”

    “We’ll be sure to see it, then. Thank you, ma’am.”

    The woman bowed respectfully and took her leave. Jim and Leanne, feeling numb in their limbs, began ascending the stairway, looking back down upon the rows of graves below.

    On the next level, they found more graves, but this time, there were other people there, kneeling in front of several. A mother was seated by her little son, who was putting a bundle of flowers in front of one, the tears shimmering in his eyes. At another corner, a very old man was kneeling in prayer in front of a weathered old stone. Jim couldn’t see any of the names, but the thought of so many departed Pokemon, so dear to these peoples’ hearts, still smote his heart sorely…

    2, 3, 4 flights the stairs went, until finally, when they began to wonder just how high the tower went, they found themselves in the open air. The stairs had taken them out onto the very pinnacle of the cylindrical tower. Behind them, a platform, formed by the roof, housed an enormous bell made of a bluish metal, fastened to the floor with a huge yoke.

    Someone was already there.

    Someone with three Pokemon.

    Pokemon Jim recognized.

    It was one of the most bizarre scenes Jim had ever beheld. Kneeling in prayer, eyes closed, were a Seismitoad, a Scrafty, and a Ferrothorn. In front of them, also kneeling, just in front of the old bell, was a man dressed in a worn overcoat.

    “…Guy?” Jim asked in surprise, almost shouting.

    The three Pokemon opened their eyes and looked at him, but the Guy, for he it was, never stirred. Jim felt a little surprise at seeing the Seismitoad, but reasoned that his Palpitoad must have evolved by now. He slowly approached and knelt beside the traveler, who didn’t once look him in the eye.

    “…Hey, kid. Glad you made it this far.”

    “What are you doing here?”

    “…This is something I do once a year. No matter where I am, I make sure to always be in Mistralton at this time of the year…It’s the time I pay my respects to an old friend…”

    “…You mean…?”

    He nodded.

    “Oh…Guy, I’m so sorry…”

    “…”

    “I…I might sound stupid for saying so, but I never realized Pokemon could…could die.”

    “It ain’t stupid of you, kid…it’s not a pretty thing for Trainers, especially those starting out, to know. In battles, they rip each other apart to within an inch of their lives, and that’s all right, but outside battle…things can get a lot uglier. Reality’s got a way of sneaking up on a fellah and kicking him onto his face…It ain’t pretty, kid.”

    “…What happened?”

    “He was a Pokemon from overseas, not native to Unova. He grew sick from the climate, and I couldn’t do a thing to save him. I’d never understood what had been the matter with him. If I’d only been able to know why he was grieving, what I’d been doing wrong, he might have at least survived long enough to go back home and save himself…I’d have been fine with that, if I’d known at the time…but I hadn’t known…”

    “…Guy…”

    “…I wish I’d had ears like yours, kid.”

    “Huh?”

    “You seem to have a real knack for understanding Pokemon. That Snivy of yours…you’ve got a bond with her that other Trainers could only dream of…If I had what you had, maybe I could have saved him…”

    “…If I can ask, Guy, what Pokemon was it?”

    “…A Pichu from Johto…” His voice became more tremulous. “He was only a baby. Do you know how hard it is to say goodbye, when he was already so young?…It wasn’t fair, kid…it wasn’t fair…”

    He clenched his fist and slammed it against the stone floor. Jim felt a tightness in his throat and a wetness in his eyes at this. He had never seen the Guy so out of sorts, when he had so far been the most composed and stoic of men…

    He put his hand on the man’s shoulder, and he felt his weathered hand grip it in appreciation.

    “I’ll be all right, kid…But I want you to promise me something.”

    “Yeah?”

    “No matter what happens, never forget what Pokemon mean to you. They might throw each other around in battle, but they’re so much more than tools of combat. Never forget what the meaning of a Pokemon is to you.”

    “I promise. I’ve never forgotten, and never will…”

    “Good…good, kid…You heading on to Twist Mountain?”

    “Yeah, to Icirrus.”

    “Good. Gotta keep on track. If it’s all the same to you, I need a little more time alone.”

    “Of course. I’ll see you later, Guy.”

    “Good luck, kid…Show ‘em what you’re made of…”

    Jim took his leave of the Guy and joined Leanne, who had heard all with wet eyes, and she was holding Oshawott tighter against her, as if out of protection. As if on impulse, he picked up June and held her in front of him.

    “June,” he said. “You know I’ve always valued you, no matter how tough battles get. I would never wish for anything worse to happen to you. You know that, don’t you?”

    “Of course, Jim,” said June, with a tender smile. “I’d never doubted you for an instant, and have never stopped loving you…partner.”

    She leaned up and licked Jim’s cheek, and he clasped her close to him in a tight hug.

    The two young Trainers took their leave of the elder one, but just as they reached the door, they heard the loud, tuneful ringing of the great bell. The Guy was giving his respects to his little departed friend…

    Y Rotation Team

  2. #17

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 17
    What a Twist


    Jim was profoundly shaken by what he’d just witnessed at the Tower, and had decided to get a fresh start at Twist Mountain bright and early the next day, not really having the strength or resolve to go on that day after what happened. He spent the rest of the day in the sleeping quarters of the Pokemon Center, lying on his back as if in a daze, June at his side.

    All of this talk of Pokemon mortality had greatly rattled his senses, and had given him an unpleasant feeling in the pit of his stomach. All his life, sheltered as he was in Nuvema Town, he had never heard of the prospect of Pokemon passing on. Then again, sense should have dictated otherwise back in Nacrene City, for how could Pokemon not die, yet leave fossils or other archeological evidence behind? Still, it was a chilling idea to think of that Pokemon could battle fiercely under set rules and only come out ‘unable to battle’, which The Guy had described as ‘within an inch of their lives’. He knew this wasn’t meant to discourage battling, but to give him a better insight into the more serious side of Pokemon mortality…

    And that, crazy as it sounded, gave him a sense of sympathy for Team Plasma’s cause!

    Yes, he felt a twinge of sympathy. If Pokemon life was as fragile as that of humanity’s, it would make sense why Team Plasma would have wanted to save them from oppressive humans…

    But they were still going about it the wrong way…

    Jim’s brow furrowed as he recalled all the criminal acts Team Plasma had committed ‘in the name of Pokemon’, not least of all the ones imposed on him and Leanne. With a shudder, he wondered what they could have done when they weren’t pestering him and fueling his reputation as a Unova hero.

    He felt another twinge at this reminder of his unwanted fame, where it had led him so far. It hadn’t been all bad, of course, but while the positives were numerous, the negatives made up for that with intensity: the antagonism of Team Plasma, losing his friendship with Cheren…

    His eyes fell on his faithful Snivy, slumbering at his side. He remembered the talk she’d given him back in Nimbasa City, when he’d given vent to his frustrations to her, and she had offered reassurance…Such a small creature, yet so wise; his constant companion, his constant comfort…his June.

    Leaning down, he kissed the top of her head, and was happy to see a little smile appear on her face as she slept. He stroked her smooth back.

    “Sweet dreams, partner…”

    ***


    Pleasant as the route to the mountain was, Jim was eager to get going the next day, so, after stocking up at the market counter, he and Leanne shouldered their packs, and were about to depart when Jim suddenly uttered a cry.

    “What is it?” asked Leanne.

    “Torch and Torrent! I forgot about them!”

    “Oh, is that all?” said Leanne, relaxing. “Don’t worry, let them stay a little longer. They need some time together after all that’s happened.”

    “…Yeah. Yeah, you’re right,” said Jim, relaxing as well. “I’ll call them back when we get to Icirrus.”

    “Good plan. Shall we?”

    “We shall.”

    Taking her arm under his (drawing a knowing smile between June and Oshawott), the two Trainers exited the Pokemon Center, turning their steps back toward the route toward the Celestial Tower and Twist Mountain.

    ***


    The route to the Tower only took close to an hour, but the way to the Mountain would take them a day or so, so they were obliged to camp halfway along the path. This would not have been so bad, but Jim had grown rather uneasy about sleeping outside ever since having two near-encounters with that Cobalion Pokemon. One might say he was paranoid, but he wanted to believe that he was just being cautious for his skin and those of his companions. If Virizion was in Pinwheel Forest, and Cobalion was near Mistralton Cave, wouldn’t it be possible for the last, Terrakion, to be seen on the way to Twist Mountain?

    Regardless of his caution, Oshawott kept a sentinel’s post every night, scalchop in paw, defying any foe to try and take them in their sleep. Jim really had much to be thankful for in allowing Leanne to come along, and one of those things was the presence of her charismatic Oshawott.

    Thankfully, they had no encounters of the ‘Sword of Justice’ kind, or even the ‘Plasma’ kind, and by mid-morning of the second day, they found themselves standing in front of the entrance to Twist Mountain. A harsh, cold wind swept past them, a reminder that winter was on the way, and Leanne gave a shiver as she wrapped her arms around herself, an act Jim found piteous to look at. While he as jacketed and wearing pants, Leanne was still wearing a T-shirt and jeans that cut off midway down the calf, not very good protection against such a gust.

    “Why don’t you take my jacket?”

    “And leave you freezing? No thanks. I’ve already got an idea.“

    She put down her backpack, opened it, and took out a bright yellow jacket, slipping it on. Next, she pulled out a Poke Ball and let out Larvesta, to Jim‘s confusion. She then picked him up and tucked him under her jacket. holding him close against her soft belly.

    “Can you keep me warm in the mountain, Larvesta?” she asked, sweetly.

    “Uh-huh!” said Larvesta, nodding and snuggling against her.

    She smiled and petted his fuzzy white coat.

    “Unusual,” remarked Jim, “but clever. Looks like we’re set, then. But aren’t you gonna join Larvesta, Oshawott?”

    “Nay. A little nippiness doesn’t deter me.”

    “All right, then. Suit yourself.”

    “Is that a challenge, my good Jim?” asked Oshawott, sternly.

    “What? No, of course not-”

    “Then I accept! I shall show you a Water type can brave even the harshest of winter chills!”

    “But I didn’t-” Jim sighed in exasperation. “You know what, forget it. There’s just no reasoning with you.”

    June, on the other hand, was much more pragmatic, and snuggled herself into Jim’s jacket, so that he felt the slight warmth of her little body against his chest.

    “Ok, now we’re all set, I hope.”

    And they took their first steps into the mountain.

    ***


    Unlike Chargestone Cave, there was nothing to light their way through the dark tunnels. Not to mention, it was cold, very cold, nearly as chilling as the inside of the Cold Storage back in Driftveil City. Jim, however, had a remedy to this first problem.

    “Missy, come on out!”

    The plump Emolga appeared in a flash, but instantly wrapped her arms around herself, shivering. A second later, she had scrambled beneath Jim’s jacket and popped her head up opposite June. She grinned up at Jim and nuzzled under his chin.

    “Hey, girl. Look, do you think you can give us a little light to go by?”

    “Oh! Sure! Just give me a sec.”

    Missy squeezed her eyes shut, and her yellow cheeks began to spark and glimmer. In the next instant, a shimmering golden light surrounded her, lighting up the tunnel onwards like a flashlight.

    “Atta girl!” said Jim, petting her head. “Keep it up as long as you can.”

    “Right!”

    With this new light to lead the way, the two Trainers trekked onwards down the rocky, winding path.

    Also unlike Chargestone Cave, the main path was easier to follow. There were several archways, possibly put there by miners in the past, leading into separate chambers, but June told Jim to avoid those and keep to the path. They didn’t want a repeat of their last adventure…

    The tunnel remained quiet and still, the coldness constant. Not a Pokemon stirred from within it, save for the occasional Woobat, fluttering past their ears with a flapping of wings magnified in the silence, causing them to jump out of their skins the first couple times it happened. After that, it became commonplace and nothing to bother about.

    Time moved sluggishly in that subterranean passage. Jim could feel his feet aching within his shoes, wanting to stop, but not daring to for too long in this coldness. He absent-mindedly petted June and Missy, as a kind of a reassurance that it wouldn’t last for much longer. Leanne wasn’t faring much better, and had her arms around Larvesta at all times, holding him closer to her. Oshawott, for his part, trudged on like a trooper, face sternly set and eyes direct, never once speaking, though his mouth seemed unusually thin, as though he were biting back something his inner self was dying to let burst forth…

    At last, it began to grow brighter as they went, though this wasn’t quite due to Missy’s luminescence. Instead, around the bend up ahead, they could see a light growing larger and brighter as they approached. Jim quickened his steps, and Leanne did the same. They came around the bend, out through a doorway in the stone…and out into the open air once again.

    They had come out into a stony mountain pass, with a high cliff to either side of them to form the walls. Jim and Leanne looked at each other.

    “What do you think?” she asked.

    “I think we’ve only got one option,” said Jim. “Forward.”

    Leanne nodded, and they trudged onwards.

    “Missy, you did splendidly. How about a nice rest in your warm Poke Ball?”

    “Aw, ok,” said Missy, reluctantly.

    Jim couldn’t help but smile; even in the face of open cold, the little Emolga didn’t want to leave his side. She still accepted being recalled without a fuss, the light she had created fading away.

    “Shame,” said June.

    “What is?”

    “It was actually warm being next to so much fat.”

    Jim laughed. “You can always go in yours.”

    “And leave you to your own devices? Not a chance.”

    Jim grinned and stroked her head.

    The good feeling could only last for so long, however. They had trudged for what felt like another hour, and could begin to see the next horizon over the rise of the path, when all of a sudden,

    *THUD*

    Something landed heavily behind them, shaking the ground beneath their feet, the sound of its impact reverberating off the cliff walls. Though every fiber of his being told him it was a bad idea to do so, Jim slowly turned around, and as he predicted, did not like what he saw.

    Looming over them, glaring down at them with red eyes, was a creature made of blue stone, with four clawed feet and red spikes studding its back and head. With tremulous hands, Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Gigalith, the Compressed Pokemon, and the evolved form of Boldore. It absorbs sunlight through the crystals on its body, which it then compresses into a powerful blast. This blast is capable of blowing away mountains.”

    The Gigalith snarled and took a step towards them.

    “This is really bad, Jim,” muttered Leanne.

    “No kidding. And here I thought the trek was gonna stay cold and boring…”

    “Can’t you say something to it? Tell it we’re not here to bother it?”

    “Good idea!” Jim spoke out loud to the Gigalith. “We mean you no harm, Gigalith. We’re just on our way to Icirrus City. Can you see your way to letting us pass?”

    In response, Gigalith opened its mouth and fired a silver-white beam from within it straight at Jim, who only jumped back just in time to avoid being fried. This thing had Flash Cannon, and knew how to use it, too...

    “I guess that’s a no,” he said, grimly. “Well, you asked for it. Torrent, let’s-”

    Jim was about to reach for Torrent’s Poke Ball, when a thought struck him full force.

    “Oh…that’s right, he’s still at the lab…Shoot. I wish I’d planned that better…Well, I’m not totally out of options. June, Spade, go to it!”

    “Get him, Oshawott!”

    June and Oshawott took their places, and in a burst of Poke Ball light, Spade appeared between them. Thankfully, Jim didn’t see him quail at the sight of the enormous Gigalith, even though it dwarfed him considerably. In fact, if anything, he looked all the more determined and angry.

    “June, Energy Ball! Spade, Drill Run!”

    “Oshawott, Water Gun!”

    June cupped her paws, forming a glowing green ball of energy that she fired right for Gigalith; Spade cupped his paws in front of his face, spinning rapidly like a top and launching himself like a missile; Oshawott spat a pressurized stream of water. All three attacks struck Gigalith, who flinched, but recovered quickly, and even had the audacity to smack Spade away with one foot, throwing him back. He was back on his feet in an instant, fury stamped across his long-snouted face.

    “Don’t let him get away with that, Spade!” said Jim. “Use Metal Claw, and June, give him a land with Leaf Blade!”

    “Use Razor Shell, Oshawott!”

    Spade dashed at Gigalith, claws glowing silver, as June leaped and somersaulted, her tail glowing a greenish-yellow, and Oshawott charged forward, a glowing blue blade forming on his scalchop. The three struck at Gigalith, hacking and slashing at its stony hide with their weapons. With a roar, Gigalith conjured up a swirling ring of jagged stones, repelling them all back, all but Spade, who stubbornly hacked and slashed at the stones as they flew by. Jim had never seen him act like this before.

    Gigalith seemed to be getting annoyed with Spade’s persistence, as it blasted at him with the same silver-white energy beam from its mouth, which knocked Spade flying.

    “Spade! What’s gotten into you? You’re never this vigorous,” said Jim, helping him back up.

    “A Gigalith…” breathed Spade, panting from being struck like that, “When Ah was back with Mr. Clay, helping with the mines…we found a Gigalith’s nest, and it got real ornery…Ah froze up and couldn’t run, and it would’ve gotten me but good…if Pa hadn’t interfered. He were too old to fight, but he still threw himself at that thing…Then it nearly took Pa, but Junior sent it packin’…Ah shouldn’t have been so helpless. Ah shouldn’t have forced Pa to fight when he couldn’t…So Ah swore I’d take out a Gigalith maself one day, to prove that Ah’m not as helpless as Ah used to be!”

    “Spade…”

    “So, Miss June, Mr. Oshawott, thank y’all kindly for the help, but this is something Ah gotta do maself.”

    “Are you daft?!” shouted Oshawott. “He’ll crush you!”

    “It’s suicide!” said June.

    But Spade didn’t listen. He charged straight for Gigalith, claws blazing in the cold sunlight. Gigalith sent another round of Stone Edge stones at him, which he hacked and clawed at, getting buffeted all the while. Then, when he got close, the Gigalith raised a foot, glowing red, and struck at Spade, knocking him away again.

    “That was Rock Smash,” said June, “not very powerful normally, but for a beast that size…”

    Spade scrambled back to his feet, bruised and marked here and there by the Stone Edge and Rock Smash attacks. He breathed heavily, glaring steadily at the Gigalith

    “Jim, stop him!” shouted Leanne. “He’ll kill himself!”

    “I want to, believe me,” said Jim, “but this is a matter of honor,and you never interfere when honor is on the line…”

    “Too true, I’m afraid…” muttered Oshawott.

    Then, all of a sudden, with a cry to the heavens, paws upraised, Spade’s entire body became surrounded by a brilliant bluish light, cloaking his entire form. Everyone gasped, but Jim stood stock-still, eyes widening behind his glasses.

    “Spade…” he said, in wonderment, and then, he shouted in an ecstatic tone, “Spade’s evolving!”

    So he was. Spade was growing taller and larger, his claws expanding, a jagged shape protruding from his head! The light vanished in a blast of sparkles, and there, standing tall and proud, was Spade the Excadrill.

    Gigalith did not appear to appreciate this change very much, as it let out a roar and fired another Flash Cannon. Spade, however, shielded his face with his claws, the Cannon striking against them without further effect. As Excadrill were also part Steel, Spade had gained a well-timed immunity.

    “Atta boy, Spade!” crowed Jim. “Now show it a real Steel attack! Metal Claw!”

    Spade’s claws shone with a metallic light as he lunged for Gigalith, slashing once, twice, three times! This time, Gigalith showed signs of real pain, and it roared again, conjuring a new ring of Stone Edge rocks.

    “Now, Spade, let’s give him a little Dig-Drill combo!”

    If Leanne was in the dark about this command, Spade understood it perfectly, casting a grin at Jim. He encapsulated his head inside his claws, forming a perfect drill shape, spun rapidly, and burrowed underground, the Stone Edge striking uselessly where he had been. Seconds later, Spade came bursting out of the ground, still spinning like a drill, right underneath Gigalith, casting it into the air and making it crash with a ground-shaking boom onto its back, where it remained motionless. Unfolding himself, Spade landed deftly on his feet, and Jim and June rushed over to him.

    “Spade, that was unbelievable!” said June. “You really gave that brute the beating of a lifetime!”

    “I’m proud of you, pal,” said Jim, “and I know your pa would be too.”

    Spade beamed and threw his paws around Jim in a hug.

    “It’s all thanks to y’all, Mr. Jim…“ he said, in a deeper, more mature voice, though still keeping the Southern twang he always had. “And to Miss June, too…and of course, to Mr. Croco. I’d never have made it this far without either of y’all.”

    Jim and June returned the hug, with Leanne and Oshawott watching proudly on. The little Drilbur had finally taken a new step into maturity and his destiny, thanks to Jim’s training, June’s guidance, and not least of all, Croco’s belief in him…He really had come a long way in so short a time…

    Y Rotation Team

  3. #18

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 18
    Icirrus City


    But the celebration was broken up by a shrill yelp from Larvesta. The group hug broke up at once.

    “What is it?” asked Leanne.

    “The Gigalith! He’s getting back up!” squeaked Larvesta, terrified.

    Jim whipped around. Sure enough, the Gigalith was lumbering back onto its feet, and it looked plenty angry…

    “Sheesh, this guy just wont give up…”

    Spade stepped forward, ready to fight once again, but before anyone could do anything, Gigalith was struck full in the face by what looked like a giant icicle from above.

    “What the…?”

    Everyone looked up. Standing on the cliff, shaded against the sun, was what looked like an enormous bear, and, with a sudden bound, it leaped down onto the path in front of them. Its fur was a whitish-blue, and the lower part of its muzzle was covered in a patch of ice in a way that made it resemble a beard. Jim brought out his Pokedex.

    “Beartic, the Freezing Pokemon. It uses its icy breath to create claws and fangs of ice to battle with. It is an expert swimmer, and makes its home in the frozen north.”

    Gigalith roared and charged at this newcomer, but Beartic drew its arm back, its paw glowing a fiery red, and it struck at the Compressed Pokemon, smacking it a good one right in the face with an open-palm strike. Then, as Gigalith drew back and prepared another Flash Cannon, Beartic took in a deep breath and fired a blast of ice that overpowered the opposing attack and blasted Gigalith right into the mountainside, where it slumped and, this time, stayed down.

    “Whoa…” said Jim. “That was awesome! Thanks, Beartic. You really saved our bacon.”

    “Good job, Beartic. Maybe this time it’ll learn its lesson.”

    Jim and Leanne gave a start. This voice, spoken in a stoic and calm voice, came from seemingly nowhere. Then, looking up, they beheld a man standing on the edge of the cliff, balanced on one foot, as if in meditation. He was a slender, pale man, dressed in a robe woven with icy colors, though the top only covered half of his upper body. He wore a mask over his eyes, and his blue hair was done up into a curving ponytail. This man, Jim thought, exuded an aura of calmness and peace of mind.

    The man leaped, with remarkable agility, down into the pass himself, beside the Beartic.

    “I hope you youngsters are all right,” he said.

    “Just fine,” said Jim. “Is that your Beartic?”

    “It is, indeed. My longtime companion here in the mountains.”

    Beartic gave an affirmative grunt.

    “And did you say that Gigalith’s done this before?” asked Leanne.

    “I’m afraid so. It’s a very territorial Pokemon, and tries to waylay travelers coming this way. Fortunately, I was near at hand to put a stop to its antics, though I see you had some hand in staying it as well, young man.”

    “Me, sir?”

    “That Excadrill of yours has remarkable power.”

    He looked at Spade, who turned his head away in pleased embarrassment.

    “Thank you, sir. It came as quite a shock to me as well…Who are you, by the way?”

    “Ah, of course. I never introduced myself. My name is Brycen.”

    Brycen…why was that name so familiar?…

    …And then, Jim remembered.

    “Wait a minute…Not the Brycen? Celebrated movie star Brycen?”

    “I see my reputation has preceded me,” said Brycen, with a smile.

    “No way!” said Leanne. “The Brycen, all the way out here?!”

    “Nobody kicked as much cinematic butt as Brycen!” said Jim. “Just like in Claws of Ice and The Way of the Beartic!”

    “I am flattered that you think so highly of my past, but I am afraid those days are behind me now.”

    “That’s right,” said Jim, his enthusiasm ebbing a bit, “you quit acting years ago and practically disappeared. What happened?”

    “It’s not something I’m comfortable speaking about, but I will merely say that the life of a movie star had become too hectic for me, and I needed some time to myself, so I took to training in the mountains with Beartic.”

    “Oh…wow.”

    “Now, what is it that brings you down this way?”

    “We were on our way to Icirrus City.”

    “Ah, then you’re in luck. It lies just over this ridge. Follow me, and I shall lead you there. Come, Beartic.”

    Beartic got down on all fours, and it and Brycen led the way, Jim and Leanne tagging behind, but not before Jim recalled Spade back into his Poke Ball. He deserved a good rest after what he’d just been through…

    ***


    Icirrus City was one of Unova’s northernmost cities, and thus, it experienced nearly year-round coldness, though this did not always include snow and ice. It was a small, peaceful village, set up on higher planes, due to the land below and eastwards being a wet and (currently) foggy marshland. Here and there, large windmills dotted the landscape.

    Brycen led them straight up to the Pokemon Center, and Beartic reared back up on its hind legs.

    “Thanks for leading us, Brycen,” said Jim. “Do you live in Icirrus, by any chance?”

    “I do, though it is only one of my homes in this region,” said Brycen. “On the one hand, the peaceable marsh-town of Icirrus. On the other, the frigid, unforgiving mountains, where a man may hone his inner abilities.”

    Beartic grunted in affirmation.

    “Well, hopefully we’ll see you again,” said Jim.

    “Certainly,” said Brycen. “Until then, my young friends.”

    With that, Brycen and Beartic left their company and walked off into the village.

    “Wow…” said Jim, “to think that the Brycen lives here in Icirrus.”

    “I always did wonder what happened to him when he stopped making films,” said Leanne. “Somehow, with the way he was talking, this seems like a perfect place for a guy like him: isolated, quiet.”

    “No kidding. If it weren’t for his name, I’d never have recognized him. He seems more like a wise martial arts sensei than a former movie actor.”

    With this food for thought, the two entered the Pokemon Center, which was much more welcoming for its warmer atmosphere. Leanne had rushed past and headed upstairs toward the sleeping quarters, calling something about ‘needing to thaw’. Jim chuckled at this as he handed Spade over to be healed, and Oshawott finally said, in a confident tone,

    “Well, sir, I believe I’ve proved my point to you: no amount of cold concerns me.”

    “Yes, yes, Oshawott,” said Jim, sardonically, “you really showed me. I didn’t hear a peep out of you the whole time, up until that Gigalith attacked.”

    “Let that be a lesson, my friend: never doubt the stout heart of a Water type.”

    “Duly noted,” muttered Jim, just wanting the proud Pokemon to give it a rest.

    “Yes, dear,” said June, smiling, “you were very brave, and we’d never doubted you.”

    She kissed his nose, drawing a roguish grin onto his face.

    “I knew you wouldn’t, my darling,” he said.

    Jim just smilingly rolled his eyes at this display, but his attention was grabbed by something else. Four kids were standing in a group, two boys and two girls, three trying to console the fourth, who was in a state of distress. Nurse Joy returned to the front desk with Spade’s Poke Ball, but had to tap Jim’s arm when he didn’t respond at first.

    “Ah! Oh, thanks, Nurse Joy. Sorry about that.”

    “No worries.”

    Jim, pocketing Spade’s Poke Ball, approached the group of kids. It was then that he noticed the three Pokemon surrounding them. Two looked like floating ice cream cones, a white dollop of snow on an icy cone-shaped body, complete with smiling faces. The third looked like a little polar bear, white with a darker blue head. It would have looked unquestionably adorable if not for the large drop of mucus extending from its nose. Jim brought his Pokedex.

    “Vanillite, the Fresh Snow Pokemon. This Pokemon’s breath is 58 degrees below 0. It is said to have been formed when ice crystals formed in the morning sun.”

    “Cubchoo, the Chill Pokemon, and the pre-evolved form of Beartic. Cubchoo’s mucus is the source of its power, and it sucks it into its nose to utilize it. When its mucus becomes watery, it becomes weaker.”

    The kids looked up at the sound of the Pokedex, gazing up at Jim curiously.

    “Hello,” said Jim, kindly, “what’s the matter?”

    “It’s my brother, Zane,” said the girl with the Cubchoo, putting an arm around the boy beside her. “His Cubchoo went missing yesterday, and he can’t find him anywhere.”

    “Why would he go missing?” asked Jim, surprised.

    “I d-don’t kn-know…” sniffled Zane, “I th-think the g-gate might have b-been left open, but w-why would he j-just run off?…”

    “Were you close?”

    “He was my b-best friend…”

    “He was,” said the boy with the Vanillite. “They did everything together.”

    “Just like we do with our Pokemon,” said the girl with her own Vanillite.

    “Do you know where he might have gone?” asked Jim.

    “I d-don’t want to think he could have…” said Zane, “b-but…I’m worried he might have wandered off into the moors…”

    “The moors?”

    “The Moors of Icirrus,” said Zane’s sister. “Nobody goes out there very often; it’s too foggy, and besides, there’s…things out there…”

    “What kind of things?”

    “We don’t know. Our moms and dads tell us to stay away from the moors because of strange and powerful Pokemon that train out there.”

    “But if Cubchoo were out there…” began Jim, but at these words, Zane broke into harder sobs. “No, no, I didn’t mean it like that…I’m sure Cubchoo’s fine, wherever he is…”

    The sobbing stopped, but Zane still sniffled.

    “Tell you what,” Jim said, after a moment’s thought, “I’ll go out there myself and see if I can find Cubchoo.”

    The four children gasped.

    “You, mister?” asked Zane’s sister. “Go out on the moors all by yourself?”

    “I won’t be by myself,” said Jim. “I’ve got my partner by my side,” he added, stroking June’s head.

    “And I shall accompany you also!” said Oshawott, stepping forward. “These moors sound like dangerous badlands to me, and I’ve never strayed away from danger!”

    “If you wanna come, I won’t stop you,” said Jim. “We might need a little extra courage out there, if these moors are as bad as they’re rumored to be.”

    “You’ll really try to find Cubchoo for me?” asked Zane.

    “I’ll certainly do my best,” said Jim. “Losing a Pokemon is one of the hardest feelings in the world, especially when you’re such close friends. Don’t worry, Zane. We’re gonna find Cubchoo if it’s the last thing we do.”

    “Th-thank you,” murmured Zane, in an absolutely grateful tone. “If you do find him, mister, I’ll never, ever forget it…”

    “We’ll do what we can, son,” said Jim. “Come on, June, Oshawott, we’d better get a good start.”

    “But what about Leanne?” June asked. “Won’t she wonder where we are?”

    “Hmm…good point. Nurse Joy?”

    “Yes?”

    “If my friend Leanne asks where I am, can you let her know I’m out for a look around the area?”

    “Of course, sir.”

    “Great, thanks. Well, come on, guys.”

    “Be careful,” said the kids with the Vanillite.

    “Good luck,” said Zane’s sister.

    “Thanks,” said Jim. “We shouldn’t be too long…I hope.”

    And he stepped out of the Pokemon Center. As soon as the doors shut behind them, June said,

    “Well, Mr. Good Samaritan, was this what you intended?”

    “I was only thinking of that poor kid, June,” retorted Jim. “If you think I could have left him suffering like that in good conscience, you’re out of your mind.”

    “I never meant it as a disparagement,” said June. “I was merely praising your generous heart.”

    “Oh. Well…” Jim muttered, bashfully.

    June giggled and nuzzled the side of his face.

    “I, for one, think it noble of you, Jim,” said Oshawott. “To ignore that child’s sufferings would have been quite rotten, but now what’s to be done? Can we hope that this Cubchoo is still wandering the moors? And if it is, how are we to find it?”

    “We’ll just have to give it our best shot,” said Jim. “I haven’t put much consideration into this luck everyone says I’ve had up to this point, so maybe it wouldn’t hurt to trust to it this once.”

    “You’re the boss,” said June, “and we’ll follow you faithfully.”

    “And I second that proclamation!” said Oshawott.

    “Great,” said Jim, with a smile. “Now come on, troops: forward.”

    And with June on his shoulder and Oshawott marching by his side, Jim descended a set of stone steps hewn into the plateau that part of the village rested on, descending into the Moors of Icirrus…

    Y Rotation Team

  4. #19

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 19
    A Duel on the Moors


    The Moors of Icirrus consisted of a long stretch of wet grassland, clear in some parts, but stagnant in others. Thus, a confusing odor both fresh and unpleasant hung about them, accompanied with the constant mist hanging in the air. The pools of water, too, were inconsistent. Some were shallow puddles, while others were deep pools surrounded by a ring of reeds, and one false step could lead an unlucky traveler into an unpleasant plunge.

    It was through this solemn and foreboding stretch of land that Jim found himself plodding, craning his neck this way and that in an attempt to espy any trace of the lost Cubchoo. Here and there, he spotted the shadow of a Stunfisk lying in a puddle, or saw a Palpitoad scramble across the grass into the nearest pond. All was silent and still. Oshawott had his scalchop always in his paw, and June was tense as a bowstring, ready to lunge out at any sign of danger.

    “Turn…back…Turn…back…”

    Jim gave a start and jumped backwards. He was standing before a puddle, where a Stunfisk was looking directly up at him with its simple eyes.

    “Turn…back…” it said in a croaky voice. “The Moors…are not safe…for the likes of you…”

    “And what is that supposed to mean?” asked Oshawott, sternly.

    “The Moors…are awake…They are not safe…”

    “What the plague are you blithering on about? Listen, you, we’re searching for a Cubchoo that might have wandered this way. Have you seen any sign of it, or are we wasting our time?”

    “A Cubchoo?…Yes, one passed by…but woe be it to wander these thankless moors…”

    “Which way did it go?” asked Jim.

    “Yonder…” said the Stunfisk, pointing with one flimsy fin further eastwards.

    “Well, thanks. We’ll be careful.”

    “Beware…beware…”

    The croaky voice followed them as they moved on into the mist.

    “Well…that was encouraging,” said June, sarcastically.

    “What do you think he meant by ‘the Moors are awake’?” asked Jim.

    “If you ask me,” huffed Oshawott, “the fellow was more than a touch inebriated by whatever stuff is in these foul pools…”

    “Always the optimist, aren’t you?” asked Jim, dryly.

    Oshawott said nothing, but kept straight ahead.

    ***


    The fog became thicker as they went further on, and the silence grew more oppressive. There was nothing stirring, no sound of Pokemon whatsoever, until Jim wondered if that Stunfisk was not, after all, a little dazed by the stagnant water it was living in…

    Then, all of a sudden, a sound finally reached Jim’s ears: a soft crying noise. He quickened his pace, and there, sitting on a path of grass, its face buried in its paws, was a Cubchoo!

    “There it is!” Jim cried. “Thank goodness!”

    But just as he approached, there came a sound of rushing water, and two swift jets of it came whizzing past either side of Jim, stopping him dead. A shape could now be seen just behind the Cubchoo, silhouetted in the mist. Whatever it was, it was smaller than him, stood on four skinny legs, and had a great bunch of hair or fur atop its head.

    “Who are you?” asked a young, tough voice. “What do you want?”

    “Who are you yourself?” asked Jim. “We mean no harm. We’re just here for the Cubchoo.”

    “Take one step toward it and your life is forfeit!” said the figure, sternly.

    “What do you mean?” asked Jim, taken aback by these words. “Show yourself!”

    The figure stepped forward into visibility. Jim now saw that it was a pale cream-colored horse or pony, perhaps about four feet tall, with a short, curved horn protruding from its forehead. Above that, its mane was red and very bushy. It had a water-blue crest of fur on its chest and a tail the same color.

    “You who threaten us with big words are nothing more than a mere colt,” said Oshawott, almost laughing. “Learn to respect your elders, whelp of the Moors.”

    This was exactly the wrong thing to say, and not just because this creature dwarfed Oshawott a few times over. With a glint of anger in its eyes, the colt turned and pulled its back legs in, as if to kick at them, but instead, two more jets of water shot from holes within its hooves, forcing Jim to duck away to avoid getting hit.

    “Temper, temper,” chided Oshawott. “You need not strike out like a bad child just because of a little criticism.”

    “Oshawott, shut up!” said Jim, through clenched teeth.

    “How dare you!” snapped the colt. “Do you have any idea who I am?”

    “I do not, nor do I much care,” said Oshawott, coldly.

    “I am Keldeo, next in line to be a Sword of Justice!”

    The three were struck dumb with such a revelation. This young colt was training to become like Cobalion, Terrakion, and Virizion?…He certainly had a cavalier’s spirit, there was no doubting that, but he was so young, and not very good at controlling his temper. Oshawott was the one to voice this disbelief.

    “A Sword of Justice? Come, this is too droll…”

    “You don’t believe me?”

    “Oh, assuredly, you have a fighting spirit, little moor-imp, but you lack the discipline to be a Sword of Justice. Say instead that you are their footman or their valet. Perhaps then I may invest belief in your words.”

    “You talk too much, Master Oshawott,” said Keldeo, his glare hardening, “yet so far, I’m the only one to prove I have force to back up my words! Come at me, if you’re so sure of my inferiority, or is your scalchop duller than your tongue?”

    Oshawott gave a start, and Jim could see a furious fire blazing in his little eyes. His pride had been struck hard.

    “Oshawott…” said June, in a warning voice, but Oshawott held up his paw to stay her, and stepped forward toward Keldeo.

    “You are a lad of intoxicating impetuosity, Master Keldeo,” he said, a smile playing about his muzzle. “I shall prove to you that my bite is far worse than my bark. En garde!”

    In a blaze of bluish light, his Razor Shell activated, and he got into a fighting stance. Keldeo pawed the grass, lowering his horn, like a bull about to charge.

    The two leaped at each other, and with a clang, Oshawott’s Razor Shell clashed with Keldeo’s horn. The two struck again and again with blinding speed, neither yielding to the advances of the other. Jim watched all with wide-open eyes, and June kept her paws to her mouth, as if in a constant gasp. The little Cubchoo had stopped crying, and was watching with child-like intensity.

    Pushed back by deflecting another strike, Oshawott spat a Water Gun right at Keldeo, who raised a hoof and fired a spout of water of his own, the two attacks cancelling each other out. Smirking, Oshawott allowed himself to become cloaked in a swirling shield of water, and he threw himself right at Keldeo in a swift Aqua Jet attack. With a grin of his own, however, Keldeo suddenly sprang into the air, buoyed by sprays of water from all four hooves, like a jet pack. Oshawott, therefore, soared right past, but the apprentice Swordsman didn’t count on his cunning, as he pulled a sweeping about-face and came right back, striking Keldeo out of the air from behind.

    “It appears the first blow goes to me, Master Keldeo,” said Oshawott, landing back on the grass.

    “Maybe so,” said Keldeo, “but we’re only just starting!”

    With a battle cry, Keldeo fired a glowing blue sphere that formed instantly before his muzzle. Oshawott was so caught off guard that he didn’t get out of the way, and found himself thrown back by the attack.

    “That was Focus Blast,” said Jim. “So Keldeo’s a Water and Fighting type?…”

    “All the Swordsmen are part-Fighting,” said June. “Perhaps there is some credence to his training to be one…”

    Oshawott had gotten back to his feet, rubbing a bruise he’d received on the cheek.

    “You have some wiles after all, Master Keldeo,” he said, “but as you yourself said, we’re only just starting!”

    He lunged straight for Keldeo, but the blue of his Razor Shell suddenly turned purple. He leaped up above Keldeo, and struck two furious strokes in the air, sending a pair of diagonal slashes moving in opposite directions, so that they struck Keldeo together in the form of a fiery X.

    “And that’s X-Scissor!” said Jim. “When did Oshawott learn that?!”

    “It seems my darling is full of all sorts of surprises,” murmured June, admiringly.

    Though buffeted by the attack, Keldeo did not waver an instant. The two crossed blades once more, and struck back into a series of swift and furious strikes and thrusts, neither one gaining an inch. The moors rang with the sound, though the only witnesses were those within the veil of fog surrounding the combat.

    At last, Keldeo began to charge another Focus Blast, but this time, he kept it going until it had grown larger than his own head, and fired it with the force of a cannon. Oshawott, rather than dodging, charged straight for it, striking out with his scalchop, the Razor Shell stopping the attack in the air, but the effort to hold it back was putting a considerable strain on the Sea Otter Pokemon. His brow became beaded with sweat, and he grit his fangs as he struggled to put more force behind his attack.

    Luck was not with him, however, as with a sudden burst, the Focus Blast exploded, throwing Oshawott back and his scalchop forward, the Razor Shell dissipating. Oshawott struggled to get back onto his feet, but could only bear witness as Keldeo put his hoof atop the scalchop, glaring down at him.

    “I’ve disarmed you, Master Oshawott,” he said. “Do you yield?”

    “…”

    “I said, do you yield?”

    “…Never.”

    A jet of water flowed like a missile from Oshawott’s mouth, knocking Keldeo back and giving him the time needed to retrieve his weapon. Shaking himself dry and looking furious at the trickery, Keldeo pawed for another charge.

    “Hold it! Hold it!” yelled Jim, stepping between them, arms raised.

    “Do not interfere, Jim. This is a bout of honor! You yourself did not interfere when Spade was battling that Gigalith!”

    “I know, Oshawott, I know, but we don’t have time for this. We have to get Zane’s Cubchoo back!”

    “…Ah,” said Oshawott, his fierce countenance melting away into one of realization. “I had forgotten that…”

    “Keldeo,” said Jim. “Honest, we meant no harm when we came here. That Cubchoo belongs to a little boy who misses him very much, and we only came out here to find him and bring him back safely. I’m sorry we antagonized you, but, by your leave, may we take that Cubchoo back? We’ll never disturb you out here again, I promise.”

    Keldeo regarded Jim with some surprise, looking him intently in the face, as if trying to read his thoughts and confirm the validity of his words. At last, he said,

    “It is the duty of a Sword of Justice to guard the well-being of Pokemon…to prevent them from feelings the hardships and cruelty of humanity…But if this boy you speak of truly does love this Cubchoo and wants him back, I won’t stop you. You have my permission.”

    “Thank you,” said Jim, gratefully. He walked over to the Cubchoo and picked it up, its back to his chest, as he didn’t want to risk getting that globule of mucus on his clothes.

    “If ever we meet again to battle,” said Oshawott, “I shall show you no mercy, Master Keldeo…”

    “Nor will I to you, Master Oshawott,” said Keldeo.

    “And by the way,” said Oshawott, with a smile, “I must eat my words, it seems. You do cut a fine figure of a Sword of Justice. You would do them proud to be in their ranks.”

    Keldeo gave something like a gasp of surprise, then smiled himself.

    Touching the brim of his cap, then, in a way of farewell, Jim started off back down the moors from whence they’d come, Oshawott tagging proudly along by his side, until, upon looking back, they could only see the faint silhouette of Keldeo, the Sword of Justice in training…

    Y Rotation Team

  5. #20

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 20
    Brycen


    “Cubchoo!!”

    Zane and his friends were still in the Pokemon Center when Jim and his companions returned. Cubchoo was set down, where he immediately rushed to Zane and hugged him tightly, which his owner reciprocated warmly.

    “Cubchoo! I never thought I’d see you again!…You found him, mister, you really found him! Thank you!”

    “You’re welcome, Zane. He was a good little solider all the way back.”

    Zane sniffled happily, still holding Cubchoo in his arms.

    “Well, now, that was an impressive display, young one.”

    Jim whirled around. Brycen was standing in the doorway.

    “Brycen! Fancy seeing you again so soon.”

    “Indeed. You found this little lost Cubchoo on the Moors?”

    “Yes, sir. He was being watched over by Keldeo.”

    Brycen gave something of a start.

    “Keldeo…you were in the presence of the young Sword of Justice-to-be?

    “Yes, sir.”

    “…Astounding…What is your name, my friend?”

    “Jim Stevens.”

    “Well, then, Jim, a Trainer with such penetration as yourself is welcome to face me in battle.”

    “In battle?” Jim asked, puzzled, “I don’t understand.”

    “Didn’t you know?” said Zane’s sister. “Mr. Brycen’s the Icirrus Gym Leader!”

    “…You know what, I’m not even surprised anymore,” muttered Jim. Brycen laughed softly.

    “I see you have already become used to the diverse employs of Unova’s Gym Leaders.”

    “Took me a while to be, but yeah.”

    “Whenever you are ready, I shall be.”

    “Great! I’ll bring my best!”

    And Brycen took his leave of the Pokemon Center. The kids, in their turn, ran off, shouting goodbyes and ‘thank you’s to Jim.

    As soon as they was gone, Jim suddenly felt an overpowering tiredness come over him, He’d been up and about ever since heading into Twist Mountain, and hadn’t sat down to rest once. All the hectic things that had happened to him had made him forget about his weariness, but now there was nothing to distract him from it.

    He stumbled upstairs to the sleeping quarters, where Leanne was still stretched out on one of the beds, Larvesta snoozing beside her. Not even pausing to take off his jacket, Jim collapsed onto a bed beside hers and fell quickly asleep, June curling up beside him as Oshawott clambered onto Leanne’s bed to sleep by her side.

    ***


    When Jim awoke, it was already evening, but he felt a good deal better. June was still sleeping quietly on the bed, while Oshawott was snoring like a sailor, loud and obnoxiously. Leanne was already up and about, and smiled upon seeing Jim sit up and stretch.

    “Hey, sleepyhead.”

    “Hi,” muttered Jim. “What time is it?”

    “7 in the evening. You were out like a light. What were you guys up to?”

    “It’s a long story…”

    And Jim delved into the story of what had happened ever since Leanne went upstairs: Zane and his woes, wandering the moors, encountering Keldeo, Oshawott’s duel with him, bringing Cubchoo back, and finding out Brycen was the Icirrus Gym Leader.
    Leanne heard all this with wide eyes and a hand to her mouth.

    “Holy cow…A Sword of Justice in training…and Oshawott fought him and learned X-Scissor?”

    “So it would appear.”

    “And Brycen’s the Gym Leader? I’d wondered what he’s been up to since leaving the film industry.”

    “Honestly, I’ve ceased to be surprised anymore. Seems like everyone and their grandmother could be a Gym Leader.”

    Leanne laughed at this.

    “So, what are you going to do?”

    “Call in some old friends,” said Jim, pulling up his X-Transceiver.

    “Ooh, great!” said Leanne. “We can bring Lilligant back too!”

    “Definitely.”

    So, while Leanne went downstairs to the Pokemon Transfer computer, Jim called up Professor Juniper, who was thrilled both to hear of Jim’s progress in getting to Icirrus City, and in hearing how Rok did in his first Gym Battle against Skyla. When told about Keldeo and the fight on the Moors, she became meditative.

    “I’ve definitely heard stories about the Swords of Justice,” she said, “and the Moors of Icirrus have been reputed to be one of their favorite training grounds. But did Leanne’s Oshawott really hold his own against it?”

    “For quite a while, yeah. He’s a remarkable little guy.”

    “I can imagine,” said Juniper, with a laugh. “Well! I’ll have Torch and Torrent ready, and Leanne will be able to pick up Lilligant the conventional way.”

    “Great! Thanks, Professor.”

    “Do us proud, champ!”

    In short order, Jim inputted the command for transfer, and witnessed Jolt and Rok’s Poke Balls disappear, only to be instantly replaced with Torch and Torrent’s. Almost at the same time, Leanne came running upstairs with Lilligant’s Poke Ball. Together, they let the three Pokemon out. All looked hale and hearty, as if they had just come back from vacation. While Jim exchanged high-fives with Torch and Torrent, Leanne enveloped her gentle Lilligant in a warm hug.

    “I hope you guys didn’t mind being at Juniper’s a little longer.”

    “‘Course not!” said Torch. “It gave Torrent and me a chance to fine-tune our routine.”

    “Routine?”

    “We’re bringing it back, Jim,” said Torrent. “We’re gonna pay our tributes to Meloetta.”

    “You are? Even after…”

    “We figured out what went wrong the first time,” said Torch, “you know…besides what went wrong, and we made some improvements. All we need’s the chance to showcase it.”

    “Well, boys, I’ll certainly try to find the best opportunity for you,” said Jim, “seeing as how gung-ho you are about it.”

    The two brothers cheered and high-fived each other.

    “Now listen good,” said Jim, “our next Gym Battle’s with Brycen. I’m gonna take a wild stab and say, in this frigid climate, along with that Beartic he has, his specialty’s Ice. Torch, we’ll save you as a last resort, but here’s hoping you’ll aid us into an easy win.”

    “You can count on me, Jim!” said Torch, saluting.

    “Torrent, you’re a Water-type, so you’ll have some Ice immunity. Plus, you have Brick Break, which should prove a huge advantage.”

    “I’m all over it, bro,” said Torrent, giving a thumbs-up.

    “And now that I’m thinking on it…” muttered Jim.

    He snapped his fingers in inspiration and let Spade out of his Poke Ball.

    “Spade, we’re going up against Ice types, I’ll warrant, so your Steel-typing should give you some protection. Plus, Steel’s super-effective against Ice. We can’t fail.”

    “Ah’ll do what Ah’ve gotta, Mr. Jim,” said Spade, stoutly.

    “We all will,” said Torch and Torrent, together.

    “That’s the spirit!” said Jim. “Tomorrow, we’ll run through a game plan, and then, we’ll take on the Gym!”

    He laid his hand forward, and Torch, Torrent, and Spade put their paws atop it by confirmation of their inclusion into the plan. All was ready…

    ***


    By the afternoon of the next day, all preparations were made, and Jim and Leanne, having taken directions from Nurse Joy, made their way toward the Icirrus City Gym. To the north of the town, there was a large hill, beyond which was a thick wood. Set into this hill was a set of large doors, emblazoned with the symbol of the Pokemon Gym.

    To the touch, the doors were icy cold, but slid open of their own accord upon contact. A blast of freezing air hit them, and the two soon saw why: the entire arena was covered in ice, studded here and there with rocks.

    “I guess I was right in my initial beliefs,” muttered Jim. Leanne shivered, even though she had put on a thicker and warmer coat and had exchanged her jeans for ski pants. She also wore a pair of fluffy green earmuffs.

    “Welcome.”

    Brycen’s voice was barely louder than his normal speaking tone, but still reverberated around the frozen Gym. Stadium lights blazed on, and there, at the far end, standing on a platform raised above the icy battlefield, was Brycen.

    “I hope my battle conditions do not deter you, young Jim.”

    “Not a chance,” said Jim, confidently. “A little chill doesn’t bother me.”

    “Good. To truly hone one’s inner skills, a Trainer must exert themselves to their maximum, in the harshest of conditions. That is why the colder climate of Icirrus appeals to me: it allows me to sharpen my strengths and push my limits. It is exhilaration no harrowing action scene on the big screen can offer me.”

    “Well said,” said Jim. “You’re quite the philosopher, Brycen.”

    “Thank you. Now, shall we begin?”

    “Let’s!”

    He handed June off to Leanne, who bundled her inside her coat, beside Oshawott. Jim smiled as he realized the stout-hearted Water type had let down his stubbornness against the cold in these conditions. Unsteadily, as the floor was slick, she made her way off to the side. The referee, a man attired similarly to Brycen, stood at the center and raised both arms.

    “Today’s Gym Battle between the challenger, Jim Stevens, and the Icirrus City Gym Leader, Brycen, is about to commence. This shall be a 3-on-3 battle with no time limit. The battle shall end when all 3 of a combatant’s Pokemon are unable to battle, and only the challenger may make substitutions. Let the battle begin!”

    “Torrent, you’re up first!” shouted Jim, tossing his first Poke Ball. The cool-minded Simipour appeared in a flash.

    “A Simipour. Interesting first choice. Vanillish! Hyoh!”

    Giving a war-like battle cry, Brycen tossed up his first ball, and a Pokemon resembling a large ice cream cone, exactly like a bigger version of Vanillite, appeared. Jim took out his Pokedex.

    “Vanillish, the Icy Snow Pokemon, and the evolved form of Vanillite. It makes its home on snow-covered mountains, and freezes the air around it into ice to attack its foes with.”

    “Vanillish, begin with Ice Beam!”

    “Torrent, Scald!”

    Vanillish fired a bolt of ice while Torrent spat a jet of boiling water. The two attacks struck, but this was not like freezing a Water Gun. The superheated Scald overcame the Ice Beam and struck Vanillish, making it cry out in pain.

    “Mirror Shot!”

    Vanillish righted itself, and formed a clear orb of light, shot with a fluorescent green, in front of its mouth before firing.

    “Acrobatics!”

    Torrent somersaulted into the air, the shot striking the ice right where he had stood, and from there, he soared right for Vanillish.

    “Vanillish, Astonish!”

    Vanillish’s eyes flashed, and the next instant, a projection, like a looming black shadow, sinister in appearance, emerged from its body. Torrent stopped mid-attack, surprised out of his wits by the sudden specter.

    “Now, Vanillish, Mirror Shot!”

    Vanillish fired another clear ball of light, striking Torrent out of the sky and onto his back on the ice. As it was Steel, however, Torrent was too badly damaged, and was back on his feet in no time.

    “Give it another Scald, Torrent!”

    Torrent spat another jet of boiling water at Vanillish.

    “Vanillish, Mirror Coat!”

    Vanillish’s entire body became surrounded by a rainbow-colored aura, and something like a bubble surrounded it. The Scald absorbed into it, and then a blast fired from the bubble, striking Torrent and sending him skidding across the ice.

    “Torrent!” yelled Jim. He took out his Pokedex to see what just happened.

    “Mirror Coat, a Psychic-type attack that deals double damage to the opponent when a Special Attack is used.”

    “A double-damage reflective attack? That’s no good…”

    Torrent struggled back to his feet.

    “Atta boy, buddy. You can do it.”

    “It is pointless to resist any longer,” said Brycen. “Vanillish, Mirror Shot!”

    “Torrent, Acrobatics!”

    Vanillish fired, and Torrent leaped high into the air, avoiding the attack once more, blitzing right past Vanillish, striking him in the process, and ending up right behind him.

    “Now, use Brick Break!”

    Brycen’s eyes widened. He obviously was not expecting this.

    Torrent raised his arm, paw in a chop position, which began to glow white, and then, with a swift thrust, brought it crashing down atop Vanillish’s head, sending it plummeting straight to the ground. There it lay in a crater made by the ice, knocked out. The referee raised his flag.

    “Vanillish is unable to battle! Simipour wins!”

    Torrent landed heavily on his feet, still weakened from taking the Mirror Coat attack.

    “You all right, pal?”

    “I’ll be fine, bro,” he said. “Bring ‘em on.”

    Brycen recalled Vanillish.

    “Very impressive. You have a very diverse Simipour. Now, let us begin Round 2! Cryogonal! Hyoh!”

    With the same cry, he tossed his second Poke Ball, and from it appeared a Pokemon resembling a large snowflake, with a chain of what looked like bubbles where its mouth was, and two cold discs of light making up its eyes. Jim’s Pokedex was out once more.

    “Cryogonal, the Crystallizing Pokemon. Cryogonal are born in snow clouds, and use chains of ice to ensnare prey.”

    “Let us commence, then.”

    “Right. Torrent, Brick Break!”

    Torrent lunged for Cryogonal, arm glowing once more.

    “Cryogonal, Rapid Spin!”

    Cryogonal began spinning like a wheel, and when Torrent struck, he was tossed back. Next, Cryogonal flipped over and soared at him like a flying saucer, knocking him even further back with a swift strike.

    “Torrent!”

    “Now, Aurora Beam!”

    Cryogonal’s eyes flashed, and a rainbow-colored beam of light issued from its mouth. Torrent was blasted back and slammed against a rock on the battlefield, slumping where he was.

    “Torrent! Get up, buddy!”

    Torrent braced his hands against the rock and fought to stand up, but finally gave up and collapsed.

    “Simipour is unable to battle!” said the referee. “Cryogonal wins!”

    “Good job, pal,” said Jim, recalling Torrent. “You did well, and I won’t let your defeat be in vain.” Pocketing that ball, he drew a second. “Spade, do us proud!”

    In the characteristic blaze of light, the newly-evolved Excadrill appeared.

    “Aha,” said Brycen, in mild interest, “your Excadrill joins the fray. This should prove interesting.”

    “Let’s make it so, Spade,” said Jim.

    Spade grinned and nodded, splaying out his claws as he stared down Cryogonal.

    “Start off with Slash!”

    “Dodge, Cryogonal!”

    Spade lunged for Cryogonal, his claws glowing white. He swiped at Cryogonal, who deftly floated out of the way of each strike.

    “Now, Rapid Spin!”

    Cryogonal inverted and began spinning like a wheel once more, shooting forward and ramming into Spade, who slid backwards, but stayed on his feet.

    “Metal Claw!’

    Spade lunged at Cryogonal again, his claws now gaining a metallic sheen. He slashed at Cryogonal, this time scoring a direct hit and sending it flying back.

    “It seems we need to take things up a notch,” said Brycen, grimly. “Cryogonal, Acid Armor!”

    Cryogonal’s eyes began to glow again, and its entire body became surrounded by a greenish light that looked oddly liquid-like. Jim was puzzled by this development, but jerked his cap down in determination.

    “Like that’s gonna psyche me out! Spade, Drill Run!”

    Spade tucked himself into a drill shape, spun rapidly like a drill, and shot for Cryogonal, striking it right in the face, but it bounced back relatively unscathed.

    “What in the world?” said Jim. “That should have dealt massive damage!”

    “Acid Armor fixed that,” said Brycen, with a smile. “It buffs up the user’s Defense two-fold. You may strike with hard-hitting attacks, but you will have to do much chipping away to make progress.”

    Jim frowned. He hadn’t seen this coming at all. He was hoping Spade would give him a huge advantage, but it seemed Brycen was trying to weary him out before his final Pokemon, most likely his Beartic.

    “Well…we’ll just have to take it as it is,” said Jim. “Spade, go for another Drill Run!”

    “Cryogonal, Rapid Spin!”

    Both Pokemon went spinning right for each other and struck in the air, glancing off each other. However, Cryogonal could already fly, and struck out again, knocking Spade out of his drill formation and back onto the ice.

    “Frost Breath!”

    A spray of icy wind issued forth from Cryogonal’s mouth, and Spade instinctively shielded his face with his claws. This was a mistake, however, as the wind solidified over the claws to make an icy casing over both of them.

    “Spade! No!”

    “Yes. Now, Aurora Beam!”

    Cryogonal shot another brightly-colored blast from its mouth, sending Spade skidding across the ice and slamming against a rock.

    “Spade!”

    “Another Rapid Spin!”

    Cryogonal spun and whizzed straight for Spade.

    “Spade, do something!” yelled Jim.

    And Spade certainly did just that. With a battle cry, he lunged at Cryogonal, and his claws, within their icy prisons, shone with a reddish light. He struck at the Crystallizing Pokemon with both, the impact breaking the ice off and sending Cryogonal back.

    “Rock Smash…” Jim heard June whisper from the sidelines. Then she shouted, “Jim! Rock Smash lowers the opponent’s Defense upon impact!”

    “Oh really?” asked Jim, in a pleased tone. “Thanks for the tip, girl!”

    Brycen raised an eyebrow, unsure of what was going on.

    “Spade, give Cryogonal a Rock Smash barrage!”

    Before Brycen could give another command, Spade leaped, claws glowing red again, and began slamming them into Cryogonal’s face, and each time he did so, the same vaguely-liquid aura that had formed his Acid Armor began to flicker, its glow diminishing each time.

    “No! Cryogonal!” yelled Brycen.

    “Now!” crowed Jim. “Finish with Metal Claw!”

    Spade drew his arm back, claws now glowing silver, and raked them across Cryogonal’s face, sending it flying until it finally slid to a stop along the icy floor.

    “Cryogonal is unable to battle!” said the referee. “Excadrill wins!”

    “Great work, Spade!” said Jim.

    Spade turned his head to look at Jim, grinned, and flicked the edge of the blade over his head, as if he were a cowboy performing the same gesture with his hat. Brycen recalled Cryogonal.

    “That was quite a turnaround for your Excadrill,” said Brycen. “Ever since I saw it fight that Gigalith, I knew I would very much like to face it, and you have not disappointed me yet.”

    Here, he drew his final Poke Ball.

    “But against my final Pokemon, all force is useless…For you have called down the thunder, and must face the wrath…of Beartic! HYOH!!”

    In a blaze of light from the Poke Ball, there stood the massive bear Pokemon, which let out a growl upon spying Spade.

    “I knew that’d be your last,” said Jim. “Let’s do this, then! Spade, Rock Smash!”

    “Beartic, Brick Break!”

    The two leaped at each other, both with glowing claws, and struck at each other, hitting each other in the faces at the same time and skidding backwards across the ice.

    “Beartic, Icicle Crash!” commanded Brycen.

    Beartic let out a roar, and a stream of icy wind shot from its mouth, forming into large icicles as they came for Spade.

    “Burst through it with Drill Run!”

    Spade curled up into his drill shape and rocketed forward, his rapid spinning shattering the icicles as he went along toward Beartic.

    “Switch to Ice Beam!”

    Now, Beartic shot a bolt of icy lightning from its mouth, which struck Spade as he came and, to Jim’s horror, encased him in ice on the spot. His frozen body landed with a thud onto the battlefield.

    “Spade! No!”

    “Finish him off, Beatric! Brick Break!”

    Beartic raised its arm, glowing red, and slammed it down on the ice-encased Excadrill, cracking it and crashing down on him in turn, the blow knocking him out of his drill formation and flat onto his face, where he remained.

    “Excadrill is unable to battle! Beartic wins!”

    With a sigh, Jim recalled Spade.

    “You did great, buddy. Get a good rest.”

    He pocketed his Poke Ball and took out his third.

    “I want to tell you something, Brycen. My last Pokemon is one you would probably have expected me to use from the start…but I saved him because I wanted to make this fight a good challenge, and not a potential clean sweep.”

    Brycen gave a slight smile at this admission.

    “But now we come to it. Torch, you’re our last shot!”

    He tossed the ball, and out came the Ember Pokemon. For once, Jim noticed, he didn’t shy away from the huge and intimidating figure of Beartic. On the contrary, he showed much bravado, cracking a grin and going into a fisticuffs stance, as if to say ‘Put ‘em up, put ‘em up!’ It almost made Jim laugh to look at. Something told him that, before the accident affected him, he must have been a clown on the side.

    “I see what you mean,” said Brycen, “and that Simisear shows much impetuosity. Well, Beartic is the one to tame that.”

    Beartic slammed one fist into its palm with a devious smile.

    “Only one way to find out,” said Jim. “Torch, start us off with an old standard! Flamethrower!”

    Torch spat a stream of flames right for Beartic.

    “Beartic, use Brine!”

    “B-BRINE?!” spat Jim.

    Yes, sure enough, Beartic spat a wild stream of water from its mouth, dousing the Flamethrower and spraying Torch up against a rock. Jim was stunned. He had no idea an Ice type could use a Water type attack…

    “Well…this is a setback and no mistake…” he muttered. “Well, let’s just take it as it is.”

    “That’s the spirit. Never say die! Beartic, use Brine once more!”

    “Dodge it with Acrobatics!”

    Beartic shot another stream of water, but Torch somersaulted into the air, avoiding the water, which added a new frozen layer to the icy battlefield.

    “Now, Flamethrower from above!”

    Torch spat another stream of flames, and Beartic shielded its head with its arm, growling in pain from the heat. Torch landed back on the ice.

    “Impressive, but we are only just beginning. Beartic, Icicle Crash!”

    “Flame Charge!”

    Torch began to stomp in place, and as Beartic unleashed another blast of frosty, icicle-forming breath, he dashed forward, shrouded in flames. He busted through the icicles, to be sure, but Beartic, with a rather smug look on his face, took one step to the left, and Torch ran right past. When he tried to turn around, he began slipping wildly on the ice, going very much off course, and his flames dissipating.

    “While he’s disoriented, Beartic! Brick Break!”

    Beartic raised his arm, glowing red, and swiped at Torch, clocking him from behind as he skated wildly past. He tumbled along the ice and stopped with his feet against a rock. This was not going as well as Jim planned…

    “Come on, Torch…don’t give up on me now…”

    Torch struggled to his feet, a flame of determination glowing in his eyes.

    “Atta boy! Show him we mean business!”

    Still, Jim wasn’t sure how to proceed. Beartic had a super effective Water attack, plus had more dexterity on the ice. As he looked about, he couldn’t help remarking on all the times his Pokemon had been thrown against these bothersome rocks…

    Wait a minute…

    The rocks!

    Jim’s face lit up with inspiration.

    “Got it! Torch, do another Flame Charge, but keep to the rocks!”

    Torch looked at Jim for an instant, then at the rocks dotting the battlefield, and then, it was his turn to comprehend. He immediately began stomping up another Flame Charge.

    “Charge all you want,” said Brycen, “but your Simisear does not possess the traction of Beartic.”

    “We’ll see, Brycen, we’ll see.”

    Torch blasted off again, surrounded in fire, but this time, he dashed from one rock to the next, pushing off of each one as he went, in a wild, zigzagging, pinball motion that even Brycen couldn’t help marveling at. He was so wrapped up in it, in fact, that he didn’t have time to order an attack for Beartic, and it was struck head on by Torch, sent skidding across the ice.

    “Good work, Torch!” said Jim.

    “Impressive,” said Brycen, “but it’s time for this battle to come to a close. Beartic, prepare for your ultimate assault! Ice Beam, full power!”
    Beartic reared its head back, jaws open wide, a cold, bright light appearing between them and growing bigger all the time. Jim knew it was now or never…

    “Ok, Torch. Let’s give it a shot. Solarbeam, and don’t spare any gas!”

    Torch nodded in determination. He raised his paws up, eyes closed, and even though they were within closed walls in a stadium, Jim couldn’t help but feel that Torch could still feel the sun’s rays beaming down. Then, he cupped his paws at his side, and between them, a glowing golden-green ball formed, shimmering like a miniature sun.

    Beartic fired its Ice Beam, and Torch thrust his paws forward, a beam the same color as the orb launching forth. The two attacks struck, struggled for a few moments, and then, the entire stadium became engulfed in an explosion of blue and golden light. Jim and Leanne shielded their eyes, and even Brycen flinched back.

    When the light vanished, the spectators found a sight unbelievable to behold. Beartic was sprawled on its back, out cold, and Torch was still standing in the same position. At last, the referee raised a flag.

    “Beartic is unable to battle! Simisear wins, which means the victor is Jim Stevens of Nuvema Town!”

    With a joyful crow of a cheer, Jim slid out onto the ice, skidding to an unsteady halt beside Torch.

    “Torch, you did it! You pulled off that Solarbeam like a champ! I’m proud of ya, buddy!”

    Torch said nothing. Instead, with a gleeful face, he threw himself into Jim’s arms, an action that made him slip and land on his rear on the ice, but his Trainer still embraced him all the same. Leanne, June, and Oshawott were cheering wildly from the sidelines, their cheers appearing in the forms of icy breath clouds.

    Brycen had recalled Beartic, saying something like ‘Well done, old friend, now rest’, and approached Jim, who had gotten back to his feet.

    “Remarkable, Jim. I’ve never seen battling finesse like that since my days in the movie industry. In those days, you even needed stunt performers for Pokemon battles, and that’s saying something.”

    “Thanks, Brycen. You really had me on my toes for a while, though.”

    Brycen smiled, then held out his hand. In its palm was a badge resembling a burst of flame with a gray inner tip and three white icy shapes within.

    “As the Gym Leader of Icirrus City, it is my honor and pleasure to bestow upon you, Jim Stevens, the Freeze Badge.”

    Jim took it in between his fingers and held it up.

    “And this makes seven! The Freeze Badge!”

    “You’ve come a long way to have your 7th badge,” said Brycen. “You should, then, direct your journey to Opelucid City. It is there where you will face your final Gym Battle.”

    “Opelucid City…got it. Thanks, Brycen.”

    “Anytime, my friend. Good luck, safe travels, and do watch your step on the way out.”

    Even as he said this, Jim slipped and nearly fell down again, but caught himself just in time. Brycen wasn’t kidding about that…

    Y Rotation Team

  6. #21

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 21
    The Black Hero


    Jim and friends no sooner exited the Gym, however, when he felt that something was…well, he couldn’t quite put a name on it. It was a kind of vague uneasiness in his bones, a sort of tension in his blood, as if he could sense that something was amiss. There was something in the air that didn’t agree with his insides…

    Looking at June, he saw that she was looking skyward, a tense, stern look on her face as she stared at a gathering collection of storm clouds to the north.

    “You feel it too, huh?”

    “Mm-hmm. Something isn’t right…”

    “What’s wrong, Jim?” asked Leanne.

    “I’m not sure. It just feels like…like something’s wrong in the air…It’s like a feeling in my bones.”

    Leanne looked confused at this. It seemed she didn’t feel what Jim felt. Then, all of a sudden,

    “Yes…the time-”

    “-Has finally arrived. The Black Hero-”

    “-shall come unto his own.”

    Jim nearly jumped out of his skin, and Leanne fairly shrieked. Whirling around, they found themselves face to face with the three identical ninja-dressed persons they had nearly been assassinated by in Nacrene City over the Fossils: the Shadow Triad of Team Plasma. Jim instinctively reached for a Poke Ball.

    “Put away your Poke Balls. Violence is not necessary,” said one.

    “Oh, I’m sure you were thinking that when you tried to kill us at Nacrene City,” said Jim.

    “All in the past,” said the second.

    “We are here on a…diplomatic mission,” said the third.

    “And what’s that supposed to mean?” asked Leanne, in a tone both cautious and angry.

    “We bring a message-”

    “From our king. He would not-”

    “Have you miss his ascension.”

    “Your king? You mean N?” asked Jim.

    The three nodded in unison.

    “And what do you mean by ascension?”

    “How little he knows…”

    “Yet the world shall finally see-”

    “The Black Hero rise once more.”

    “Black Hero?” said Jim, puzzled. “What are you talking about?…”

    He had heard that phrase somewhere before, but where?…

    …No.

    No, it couldn’t be…

    It was impossible…

    But if he was supposed to be…

    Did they mean N was…

    “The Black Hero…” Jim muttered, in realization. “Are you saying…”

    “He sees it now…”

    “We knew you were not dim.”

    “Now come, the time is near.”

    “Come where?”

    “Dragonspiral Tower, the summit-”

    “Of the dragons, the shrine-”

    “Of the Heroes Black and White.”

    And wordlessly, as if they were mere shadows, the three disappeared into thin air.

    “Jim?…” asked Leanne, apprehensively, “what does this mean?”

    “…It means we’re about to see history in the making…”

    With a growing uneasiness in the pit of his stomach, he cast his eyes back toward the bank of dark clouds, hanging above what must have been the so-named Dragonspiral Tower…What was he going to see when he got there, and what would come afterward?…

    ***


    Though Jim was not a lad accustomed to running, he sprinted with all the haste he could manage toward the area where the clouds were thickest, out of Icirrus City and through a thick wood of pines. He could hear Leanne panting right behind him, and both knew neither could slow down, if the time was so near for…for whatever was about to happen.

    At last, they found themselves before a towering pillar of gray stone, like the Celestial Tower, only it showed much more evident signs of age and decay. Its structure was uneven and cracked, and from back there, Jim could see that the roof was incomplete. The clouds were extremely thick overhead and beginning to swirl, as if a tornado was on the way. A lightning bolt even flashed out once or twice.

    “Do we really wanna do this?” asked Leanne, pensively.

    “I know I don’t…” said Jim, “but if this has Team Plasma or even N behind it, we have to…”

    “I was afraid of that…”

    Without waiting another beat, they rushed into the tower door, finding themselves in a ground floor chamber decorated with statues of dragons, several worn with age, cracked, and even broken. It was almost as if some great catastrophe had taken place to bring the tower to such a state.

    A winding stairway ran from one wall upwards, just like the Celestial Tower. The two Trainers took this and sprinted up it, their hurried footsteps echoing obnoxiously in the still, silent chamber. Up, up, up it went, even higher than the Celestial Tower. Each floor was dedicated to more dragon statues, or, on one floor, a pair of humans standing before two enormous dragons. One was hewn from black stone, the other from white.

    At last, they came out upon the top floor with the incomplete roof, and what Jim saw made his jaw drop.

    N was standing in the midst of the chamber, the stormy winds whipping his hair. In his hands, held upwards, he bore a spherical stone, like a black orb, which was emanating a steady, pulsing glow.

    “N!” Jim yelled, over the tumult.

    N didn’t turn around or move, but he spoke over the winds,

    “I’m glad you’ve arrived, Jim. I wouldn’t have you miss this.”

    “What are you doing?!”

    “Fulfilling my destiny, Jim. This is what I was crowned king of Team Plasma to become…It is within my born rights to inherit the Dragon of the Black Hero…the Dragon of Ideals…Zekrom!”

    A bolt of lightning seared the sky and struck the orb in N’s hands, and its glow grew more intense. A ray of light shot from it into the clouds, piercing a rent in it. Through that rent, a massive bolt of lightning struck the center of the chamber, shaking the whole tower. Jim felt Leanne topple against him from behind, and then felt her tighten her grip around him, shivering. He put an arm around her in turn, though his gaze never changed.

    Another bolt struck the stone, and the black glow intensified. All of a sudden, a voice, deep and powerful, spoke up through the tumult.

    “What is the ideal you seek, bearer of the stone?…”

    “The ideal I seek…” said N, in a voice of complete calm, “is to see a new world born, a world where Pokemon are free, and they and humans live together in true happiness. That is what I seek!”

    “…An honorable ideal…”

    There was a blinding blaze of electric-blue light, follwed by an unearthly roar, forcing Jim and Leanne to shut their eyes. When they were finally able to open them, what they saw was too incredible to believe…

    An enormous dragon was standing in the middle of the chamber, right before N. It was jet-black in color, with imposing red eyes, wings on its back, and an enormous tail that looked like a jet turbine. Every now and then, it flickered with the same electric-blue glow.

    “Zekrom…” said June, in a breathless whisper.

    “Heaven help us…” whispered Oshawott.

    “You are the true heir of my former master,” said Zekrom, in its rumbling voice, “I am at your command.”

    “No. Not command. Say rather that we are allies,” said N.

    “…Most admirable.”

    “N…what does this mean?” asked Jim. “What are you going to do?”

    N finally turned to face Jim.

    “I am going to spread my word to all of Unova, Jim. I am going to tell them all of my ideals, my hope to see a world where humans and Pokemon truly coexist in harmony.”

    “But…you’re not going to-”

    “No.”

    N’s answer was short and stern.

    “I do not intend to use unnecessary force. If it must come to a battle, and an unavoidable one at that, then that it what it must be, but I will not commit the same sins that the old Black Hero did…As I do not doubt you won’t, when you come into your own.”

    Jim was struck dumb with astonishment.

    “Do not be so shocked,” said N. “It is plain to me that if I am born to inherit Zekrom, then you are in line to wield the power of Reshiram. I can see it in your eyes…I always knew you were an exceptional Trainer, Jim Stevens.”

    Jim said nothing; he couldn’t say anything. He was flabbergasted by N’s powers of perception.

    “I hope that when that time comes, we meet as allies, and not on the verge of war…”

    And with that, he climbed onto Zekrom’s back. Zekrom roared again, crouched, and took off into the sky, disappearing into the quickly vanishing bank of storm clouds.

    And just like that, he was gone.

    That had really just happened.

    N had disappeared into the sky on the back of a dragon of legend.

    …Jim honestly wished this was all just a fever dream.

    “Jim?…” asked Leanne, weakly.

    “…I have no idea, Leanne,” supplied Jim. “I honestly have no idea…”

    ***


    “Personally, I find your lack of forwardness in this situation most distressing!” said Oshawott, when they were sitting in the Pokemon Center lobby. “Why not summon Reshiram yourself and stop him before he does something drastic?”

    “That would require me actually knowing how to summon him,” said Jim, “and I haven’t the slightest clue.”

    “Well, think back to how N summoned Zekrom. He was holding some odd stone that seemed to be what called him forth.”

    “And where do you suppose I’ll find a stone like that?” asked Jim, rather snippily. “Do you know the way to the nearest ‘Dragon-Summoners Accessories’ store?”

    “Well…I suppose there’s sense in that.”

    “If a black stone was used to summon Zekrom, wouldn’t it be safe to say a white stone would be needed for Reshiram?” asked June.

    “That does follow some logic,” said Jim, “but again, where would we find such a stone?”

    The doors suddenly swung, and, breathless and panting, stood…

    “Cheren?”

    Indeed, it was him himself, but in a profound agitation.

    “Jim! Is it true? Did I just see…?”

    “What did you see?”

    “A black dragon soaring out of a bank of thunderclouds! It looked like the depictions of Zekrom I’ve seen! Is it true? Was that really…?”

    “Yes. Leanne and I saw N summon him and claim him.”

    “N? That green-haired boy who talks to Pokemon like you?”

    “You’ve met him?”

    “Once or twice. He was rather grating on my patience. He told me I had a close friendship with my Pokemon, but that I pushed them much too hard in battle. Who does he think he is to tell me that, when I’ve never seen him with the same Pokemon twice in a row?…But you’re telling me he’s the new Black Hero??”

    “He’s more than that,” said Jim. “He’s Team Plasma’s mastermind.”

    Cheren’s eyes popped open.

    “The…the mastermind? Jim, are you pulling my leg?”

    “No. He told me himself back in Nimbasa City, after our…well, our dispute.”

    Cheren looked uncomfortable at the mention of this, and placed his hand on his cheek, where June had whipped him.

    “I had no idea…But what’s there to do?”

    “The only way to combat Zekrom is with Reshiram, and N himself is convinced that I’m the one to inherit him…”

    “But how would one go about doing that?…”

    “With some stone, like the one N used to call Zekrom, it seems.”

    “It would require the Light Stone, the counterpart to the Dark Stone,” said a voice from the entrance.

    Everyone looked up. A man was standing in the doorway, with sandy-tan hair, a goatee, and rather thick eyebrows. Jim had the distinct feeling that he recognized him from somewhere.

    “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” asked Jim.

    “Yeah, I feel like I’ve seen you before,” said Cheren.

    “Well, I wouldn’t doubt that, boys, although it’s been quite a while since I’ve been in the neighborhood.”

    And then, Jim gasped.

    “Hold the phone…Professor Cedric!”

    “Aha! I knew you’d recognize me, Jimmy! Put ‘er there, son!”

    Jim shook his hand warmly.

    “And Cheren, good to see you too!”

    “Professor Cedric!” said Cheren, dumbfounded, shaking his hand in turn. “I don’t know what to say! This is so abrupt!”

    “And this, sir, is my friend Leanne, from Accumula Town.”

    “Charmed, my dear, immensely,” said Cedric, shaking her hand.

    “Professor Cedric?” asked Leanne. “As in Professor Cedric Juniper, the great explorer?”

    “And the father of Professor Aurea Juniper back in Nuvema Town,” said Jim.

    “How is that girl of mine?” asked Cedric. “I regret leaving my old X-Transceiver back home.”

    “She’s great,” said Jim. “She’s responsible for pairing me up with June here.”

    Cedric shot a look at the Snivy on Jim’s shoulder.

    “Ah!” he exclaimed, stroking her chin with one finger. “Oh, she’s a beauty of a Snivy, Jimmy, and she’s seen you all the way here to Icirrus.” Here, he cleared his throat. “But we’re forgetting business. I’m afraid it’s as you boys predicted. Zekrom has returned, and its new master has revealed himself.”

    “He said I’m the one to inherit Reshiram, then,” said Jim.

    “You?” asked Cedric, with a raise of his eyebrow. “That’s quite a profound claim to make, my boy.”

    “I haven’t wanted to believe it myself, sir,” said Jim, “but the evidence keeps stacking itself against me…all because Reshiram saved June and me from being attacked when we first met.”

    “Oh?…Fascinating…”

    “You don’t mean you actually believe it, do you?”

    “Jimmy, when you’ve devoted your life to finding what makes Unova tick, you learn to believe anything extraordinary.”

    Cheren looked from Jim to Professor Cedric, as if some doubt of this whole fiasco was still lingering, and was being dispelled by Cedric believing in it.

    “But what was this about a Light Stone and a Dark Stone?”

    “Both are artifacts constructed by the Hero of Truth and Hero of Ideals, as a means of keeping control over their dragons. The Dark Stone corresponds with Zekrom, and the Light Stone corresponds with Reshiram.”

    “But where are we supposed to find the Light Stone, then?”

    “I have reason to believe that it may be hidden at the Relic Castle back in the desert between Castelia and Nimbasa.”

    “The Relic Castle?…Wait a minute…That’s where those two Sages were!”

    “Come again?”

    “Leanne and I met two Sages of Team Plasma out in the desert! They said they had business there, and tried to silence us by siccing a Darmanitan on us!”

    “They didn’t!” said Cedric, shocked.

    “They did! Maybe that’s what their activity there was! Maybe they got the Dark Stone from the Relic Castle!”

    “A very reasonable hypothesis,” said Cedric, stroking his goatee.

    “But what are we supposed to do? That desert’s clear across the other side of Unova.”

    “Don’t you fret. I have some accommodating transportation that may suit our needs.”

    “Huh?”

    “Follow me, kids, and hurry!”

    What else could they do? Exchanging confused shrugs, they followed Professor Cedric out of the Pokemon Center, where they were astonished to find a single-propeller airplane, large enough to seat 4 people, sitting just outside the Pokemon Center.

    “Where did you get that?” asked Jim.

    “Borrowed it from Skyla. It’s only 2 days overdue,” he added, breaking into a hearty laugh.

    “Now I remember,” muttered Cheren, “he always was a little…kooky.”

    “Maybe, but the man’s a genius,” said Jim.

    “Oh, no doubt about that.”

    “Well, kids, climb aboard! The sooner we take off, the sooner we can track down that Light Stone!”

    Still unbelieving that he was being roped into this, Jim entered the little plane, followed by Leanne and Cheren, who took their seats with him in the passenger seats as Cedric got into the pilot’s seat. He put on a headset and a pair of aviation goggles.

    “Clear for takeoff,” he said, turning on the ignition.

    The propeller buzzed to life, and with a jerky bounce, took off into the air, leaving Icirrus City far below.

    Y Rotation Team

  7. #22

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 22
    Relic Castle


    The plane ride took, at the most, two hours, in what would have taken Jim days, maybe even weeks, to traverse across this expanse of Unova. Nobody said a word, not even Professor Cedric, who was always known to be an amiable chatterbox. To be fair, he most likely had to concentrate on flying the plane.

    The three Trainers sat silently, Jim and Leanne holding June and Oshawott on their laps. From time to time, Jim would glance at Cheren, sitting across from them, and when he saw that Cheren was glancing at him, both looked away. It was true that Cheren had shown no hostility or resentment towards them when they met, but Jim couldn’t help suspecting that this was caused by his excitement over seeing Zekrom take flight. He didn’t want to tread on thin ice with assumptions, so he kept to himself.

    Cheren, for his part, was inscrutable in countenance. What was going on in his head? He’d looked rather troubled when Cedric invested his belief that Jim might be the one destined to wield Reshiram. This whole idea had been one of the fundamental building blocks of his resentment towards his old friend, that everything good kept happening to him…but if N, the only other person he had met that could speak to Pokemon, if only on a few occasions, had summoned and tamed Zekrom, shouldn’t it stand to reason that Jim, who had so many similar qualities, might tame Reshiram?…

    And on top of that, Jim said this N was the leader of Team Plasma! Team Plasma, this fast-spreading threat to Unova, now had Zekrom under their control…Was it worth staying angry with Jim when he really might be destined to save Unova from their threat? Was resentment for incredible fortune worth losing his best friend in the face of real danger?…

    ***


    At last, with a rough jolt, the plane landed, and upon looking out the windows, the Trainers were greeted with an expanse of yellow sand.

    “Welcome, passengers, to Route 4!” said Cedric, in the attitude of a flight attendant, “Sand and sun as far as the eye can see, and home to the scenic Relic Castle! Everybody off!”

    Everybody clambered out of the little plane, and Jim found that, thankfully, as the sun was setting, the heat was not nearly as oppressive. They had landed right beside the pit Jim and Leanne had encountered Rood and Bronius. Now that they could get a good look inside it, they found that several slanting bridges led all around the circular pit, leading down to an enormous, archaic structure that seemed to be suspended halfway down the crater; an old, yellow-stone temple or castle.

    “That?” asked Leanne.

    “That is the Relic Castle,” said Cedric. “That is the ancient stronghold of the Heroes of Truth and Ideals, and hopefully, where we’ll find the Light Stone.”

    “If anything remains since its last desecration.”

    Everyone jumped. This voice, deep and wise in tone, came from right behind them. Turning, they found themselves face to face with a tall, burly man, standing with arms crossed. He had wild, fiery red and orange hair, arranged into points like the rays of a sun or star, with a ponytail in the back. He had a wise, gentle face, though it was lined with age.

    “Alder, sir!” exclaimed Cheren.

    Jim felt a leap in his insides. Alder?? This was the Unova League Champion?? He was honestly meeting him face to face?…

    “Ah! I recognize you! You’re the boy I met outside Chargestone Cave! Cheren, was it?”

    “Yes, sir! I’m glad you remembered me.”

    “Well, I hope you’re not still mad about how our battle turned out.”

    “Oh, no, sir. I’ve had some time to reflect on what you told me, and while I don’t think I’m quite there yet, I’m doing my best to take it to heart.”

    “Good man!” said Alder, heartily. “And who are your friends here?”

    “Oh, this is my old friend, Jim, from Nuvema Town, and his friend Leanne, from Accumula. And I’m sure you must know Professor Cedric Juniper.”

    “Pleased to meet ya!” said Alder, genially, to the two Trainers.

    “I-It’s an honor, Alder, sir,” stammered Jim.

    “Yeah. Likewise,” said Leanne.

    “Professor Cedric, you have my best personal regards,” said Alder, shaking his hand.

    “The pleasure’s all mine, Mr. Champion!” said Cedric.

    “I take it you’re taking part in the League challenge?” asked Alder, to Jim and Leanne.

    “I am, sir,” said Jim, “and I’ve just received my 7th badge at Icirrus Gym.”

    “Nice work, kid! You’re doing great! Can’t wait to see how it all boils down in the League this year!”

    “Me neither, sir.”

    Here, Alder slapped a hand to his brow.

    “Ah! Here I go, prattling on as if we were cozy in a sitting room when we’ve got bigger matters at hand! Team Plasma! I followed a couple of those preachy hounds out here to this very pit.”

    “You know about Team Plasma, sir?” asked Leanne.

    “I do. I’ve been tracing a circuit around Unova, and I’ve seen these guys several times.”

    “And what’s your perception of them?” asked Jim.

    “They talk a good talk, but they walk a pretty bad walk. Striving for freedom and peace for Pokemon is all well and good, but you don’t preach if you need force to back it up.”

    “Exactly!” said Jim. “You have no idea what I’ve been through because of them!”

    And he related to Alder a summary of his encounters with Team Plasma: the meeting in Accumula, kidnapping a little girl's Deerling, the theft of the fossils, Lilligant’s abduction, the attempt on their lives in this very desert, cornering them in Driftveil’s Cold Storage, and rescuing Larvesta from them outside Chargestone Cave. Alder heard all with grave attention, stroking his chin contemplatively.

    “You’ve had quite a ride, Jim, I daresay,” he finally said. “I knew there was something unsavory about these guys, but I didn’t know what it was…So now they plan to use the legendary dragons to achieve their goals…No wonder they were here last time.”

    “So, what do you suggest?”

    “The only thing that can be done: to venture in and put a stop to these lunatics before they go any farther.”

    “You’re going with us?” asked Cheren.

    “Certainly. I didn’t become Champion of Unova because I didn’t take action when it was called for. Do I have your assistance?”

    “Unquestionably!” said Jim.

    “Undoubtedly!” said Cheren.

    “Definitely!” said Leanne.

    “This is what I live for, Mr. Champion,” said Cedric, “so of course I’m in!”

    “Excellent. Tread carefully, then. This is an old structure, so it may prove unstable.”

    And with perfect calmness, he began to tread down one of the sloping bridges leading to the ancient castle. Single-file, Cedric, Cheren, Jim, and Leanne followed behind, down into the pit.

    ***


    The failing sunlight didn’t help to illuminate the interior of the castle, despite the numerous chinks and gaps in the wall that must have acted as skylights. Therefore, the five explorers found themselves plunged into an unsettling darkness.

    “Leave this to me,” said Cheren, taking a Poke Ball out. “It wouldn’t hurt to have some backup muscle anyway. Emboar, come on out!”

    Out of Cheren’s Poke Ball came an enormous boar-like Pokemon, very burly and barrel-chested. Its fur was reddish-orange, with black on its forearms and a band of black with yellow swirled symbols across its midsection. A wreath of flames surrounded its neck, like a fiery beard, which gave off a steady glow of illumination around it. Interested, Jim brought out his Pokedex.

    “Emboar, the Mega Fire Pig Pokemon, and the final evolved form of Tepig. Emboar possesses a beard made of live flames, which flares up when its fighting spirit is roused. It is adept at using many fighting moves.”

    “Wow, Cheren,” said Jim, “you and Tepig really came a long way.”

    June gazed, stupefied, up at the huge Pokemon that had once been her little playmate. Emboar gazed down at her, and his imposing, tusked face broke into a small smile, and he reached down and stroked her head. June smiled warmly in return, glad to see he still recognized her.

    “Thanks, Jim,” said Cheren. “But he was still no match for Alder.”

    Alder laughed. “Oh, don’t be like that. It was a close fight. I was actually a little worried.”

    Cheren gave a small, embarrassed smile, then, clearing his throat and adjusting his tie in a business-like way, said,

    “Emboar, I want you to lead the way, to both give us light to go by, and to be at the ready if we’re attacked.”

    Emboar grunted in an affirmative way and took the lead of the party as they moved further into the dark, imposing castle.

    ***


    It was plain to see that this place had seen much better days. The walls were dusty and coated in cobwebs, and the floors were cracked and chipped here and there. Not a breath stirred. Only the sounds of their footsteps sounded in the corridors as they went along.

    Leanne kept very close behind Jim, and he kept a firm hold on her hand as they went. Cedric, for his part, kept referring to an old book he had taken from his backpack, reading it from the light of Emboar’s beard.

    “If my research is correct,” he said, “this corridor should lead to the main chamber, where the stones are said to be kept.”

    Suddenly, they came to a halt at a crossroads, where the corridor split into two paths.

    “Professor Cedric?” asked Jim.

    “Mm…this is disquieting,” Cedric muttered, “I don’t remember this crossroads…I suppose all that can be done is to split up.”

    “That seems to be the best idea,” said Alder. “Cheren, you and Professor Juniper take one way, I’ll stick with Jim and Leanne.”

    “Right,” said Cheren. “But do you guys have a Pokemon for lighting?”

    “Of course,” said Jim, pulling out a Poke Ball. “Missy, come on out!”

    In a burst of light, out came the pudgy Emolga.

    “Missy, we’re gonna need a little light to go by.”

    In response, Missy perched herself on Jim’s head, and with a spark of her cheeks, a glow like a lantern surrounded her body, illuminating the corridor further.

    “Good thinking!” said Cedric. “You’ve got some very resourceful Pokemon, Jimmy.”

    “Thanks, Professor Cedric,” said Jim, before turning to Alder. “Will this do, Alder, sir?”

    “Absolutely!” said Alder. “Looks like we’re set. Hopefully, we’ll all meet up again soon.”

    “Good luck,” said Jim.

    “Same to you,” said Cheren.

    With that, the five split into two groups: Jim, Leanne, and Alder heading down the left path, guided by the electric light of Missy; Cedric and Cheren going down the left path, led by the flaming light of Emboar…

    ***


    “So, Alder, sir, will you be in attendance of the upcoming League?”

    “Certainly. Wouldn’t be the League without the Champion to oversee. The Elite 4 does get pretty steamed when I do my little circuits when a conference is on the horizon. Personally, I think they need to lighten up.” He chuckled.

    “I’ve only heard and seen snippets of the Elite 4. What are they like?”

    “Well, every region has its own best and brightest Trainers to act as the top of the League, and Unova’s no exception. There’s Marshal, he’s a Fighting type master. I’ve heard him call himself my ‘apprentice’ once or twice, though personally, I think he just came up with that himself. Come to think of it, your friend Cheren reminds me a lot of him, always putting emphasis on the importance of power.

    “There’s Caitlin, who uses Psychic types. Breathtakingly beautiful, but a real terror when she’s angry; her Pokemon aren’t the only ones with Psychic abilities…

    “There’s Grimsley, master of Dark types. He comes from a very prestigious family, but it’s fallen on hard times. Now he’s developed a bit of a gambling problem. Poor fellah…

    “And then there’s Shauntal, who uses Ghost types. She’s a famous author on the side. In fact, some of the few books I actually sit down to read are written by her.”

    “Wow. And do the challengers ever face them?”

    “I’m afraid not, at least not in the conferences like this upcoming one. There’s a special challenge tournament for facing members of the Elite 4.”

    “Ah, I see. And when is this one being held?”

    “Within the first official week of Spring, so I hope you know where you’ll wait out the winter.”

    “Do you have any recommendations?”

    “Oh, of course. Undella Town’s always sunny, always beautiful. Not much activity there, but that should offer you some peace and quiet.”

    “Great!”

    They continued on in silence for some minutes, and then, a new thought struck Jim.

    “Alder, sir, I have a question, really more of a favor to ask.”

    “Ask away!”

    “Are you familiar with Cirque de Pokee?”

    “Of course! I remember their shows fondly.”

    “Well, through a very complicated happenstance involving Team Plasma, Leanne and I ‘inherited’, as you might put it, three of the performing Pokemon.”

    “Oh really?”

    “Really. They’ve been practicing a routine for a long time, a tribute to Meloetta.”

    Alder stopped, a strange, almost thoughtful look on his face.

    “Did you say…Meloetta?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “…How long’s it been since I heard that name…I remember hearing about the day it disappeared. ‘As if the entire world had lost its own tune’…”

    “Well, they want to perform a tribute to her, and only need a venue to do it at. What I’d like to ask is, might we have the honor of hosting it as part of the opening ceremony to the League?”

    This put Alder into a reflective mood, stroking his chin.

    “Hmm…interesting…You know what? Why not?”

    “Really??”

    “I’d be honored to have three former Cirque de Pokee performers pay a tribute to one of the region’s most beloved and renowned Pokemon. I may not have seen this act, but I’m one of those guys who likes to see the finished product, without spoilers.”

    “Thank you, sir! This’ll make them very happy to hear of your approval!”

    “It’s the least I can do, sport. So, tell me, what’s your dream?”

    “My dream?”

    “What are you aiming for in challenging the League?”

    “Well…I partook in the League challenge so that I could see the rest of Unova, meet new Pokemon and new people. After the League, I hoped to settle down back home, keep it cozy.”

    “Very admirable. Many Trainers, once they complete one journey, always find themselves infected with wanderlust and have to go on another. It’s hard to find people who know when to stop. I think you’ve got the right idea, Jim.”

    “Thanks, sir.”

    Suddenly, Missy let out a squeak of terror, and Jim felt her weight leave his head.

    “Missy?? What is it?!”

    He whipped around, and what he saw made him give a cry of alarm.

    A shadowy, vapory hand, more like a wisp of smoke than anything, had snared Missy, and she was struggling with might and main to free herself. The arm, one of four, was extending from the slightly ajar opening of something that looked like a blue and gold sarcophagus, but which possessed a very sinister face, with glowing red eyes and a toothy mouth. Jim brought out his Pokedex.

    “Cofagrigus, the Coffin Pokemon, and the evolved form of Yamask. Cofagrigus disguises itself as a real coffin to ensnare trespassing robbers. It has an affinity for eating gold.”

    “So it thinks we’re robbers?…” asked Leanne, in an uneasy tone.

    “So it would appear,” said Alder, grimly. “I hadn’t counted on a guardian of this old castle, but it looks like times have changed…”

    “I’d hoped we could have gotten through this without a fight,” muttered Jim. “Makes me wonder how Cheren and the Professor are handling things…”

    ***


    “So, Professor…do you really believe Jim could be the next White Hero?”

    “Hmm? Oh, I think it’s possible. Don’t you?”

    “…I don’t know…”

    “You don’t know?”

    “…I didn’t want to believe it.”

    “Why not? Wouldn’t it be amazing to think that your best friend is destined to inherit a legendary dragon?”

    “…If I can be honest with you, sir, that’s just the thing. I wasn’t happy about that.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because it feels like everything good always happens to him! He can talk to Pokemon! He’s become famous for foiling Team Plasma all the time! Everything always turns up roses for him! I’ve had to toil hard every day of my life to get where I’m at, and what do I have to show for it? What does he have to show for his life?”

    Cedric said nothing for a while, but his face expressed genuine concern at Cheren’s heated outburst. Even Emboar looked disconcerted.

    “…I think I understand what you’re saying, Cheren,” said Cedric. “You don’t think it’s fair that Jim has had all this amazing stuff happen to him out of the blue, while you’ve had to get where you are the old-fashioned way.”

    “…”

    “Well, think about it from a different perspective. Jim’s still traveling Unova on foot, isn’t he? He’s not trying to get ahead of the game by going by car or boat or the like, is he? Have you ever heard of him using any special enhancements on his Pokemon?”

    “What’s your point?…*ahem*, Professor.”

    “My point is that Jim is still training his Pokemon the way a normal Trainer would. He’s still going about his quest the way a normal Trainer would. He’s still trying to maintain a level of normality.”

    “But…but what about Team Plasma? Or Reshiram? What about being able to talk to Pokemon?”

    “Well, I don’t know how to answer that last one, but I will say this. Jim’s always been a boy with a…well, let’s say ‘noble’ heart. He hates seeing anyone put down or mistreated. You know that, don’t you?”

    “Well…yeah, he always was the kind of guy who would get in your face if you started picking on somebody.”

    “I remember his father being the same way: good-natured, well-meaning, but quite irascible if someone he cared about was being wronged. When Team Plasma made that big speech in Accumula Town, I reckon Jim’s heart went out to all of those poor people who didn’t want to lose their faithful Pokemon to preachy nonsense like that, so he stood up in the name of Trainers and Pokemon everywhere. It sealed his fate with them, yes, but he was thinking of them and not himself. Have you ever wondered, Cheren, if he’s really happy about being a celebrated hero?”

    Cheren remained silent for quite some minutes.

    “…Now that I recall, he was always one of the most humble boys I ever knew. He hated being in the limelight.”

    “So what makes this any different?”

    “…I don’t know…” said Cheren, in a miserable tone. “I’ve been making a big mess of things, haven’t I?…I was just so angry that things seemed to be going so easy for him, I never even considered how he must have really felt… Oh, Professor Cedric, how could I have been so callous?…How could I throw away my best friend so easily?…”

    A pair of tears sparkled in his bespectacled eyes, but Cedric put a hand on his shoulder.

    “It’s all right, Cheren…It’s easy to get mixed up in your feelings when the extraordinary mounts up. All you can do is move on and try to make reparations.”

    “But how can he ever forgive me?…”

    “If I know Jim, and if you know him, it won’t be difficult for him to let bygones by bygones…”

    He smiled down at Cheren, who, slowly but surely, smiled in return.

    All of a sudden, Emboar let out a growl, holding out his arm to stop the two humans.

    “What is it?” asked Cedric.

    “I think he’s spotted something,” said Cheren.

    Emboar snorted a blaze of flames from his nostrils, and the stream illuminated the path ahead, before a new light, shimmering and blue, mingled with it, blocking off the fire.

    The corridor had widened into a large chamber, and floating in the midst of it was a very bizarre Pokemon. It had a spherical, oddly-patterned body with what looked like a pair of eyes in the center, an elongated black appendage on top with a single, similar eye, two yellow wings with multicolored tips, similar wings like a ‘tail’ at its bottom, and two smaller back ‘wings’ at its sides. The blue light had come from a shield it had generated.

    “What is that?” asked Cheren, perturbed.

    “A Sigilyph,” said Cedric, grimly. “Guardians of old cities and fortresses. It looks like this one’s determined to keep us from going further.”

    “Oh dear…”

    Y Rotation Team

  8. #23

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 23
    The Light Stone



    “Missy, get out of there!” yelled Jim. “Use Discharge!”

    Missy tensed up, and finally unleashed a burst of electricity that blasted Cofagrigus, making it release her in surprise and pain. She immediately soared over to Jim, who protectively enveloped her in his arms.

    “You ok, girl?” he asked.

    “It was…so cold…” shuddered Missy, nuzzling deep against Jim’s chest. “It was like ice…”

    “It’s ok, Missy…I’m here now…”

    Cofagrigus, however, had recovered, and it looked plenty mad.

    “You kids go on,” said Alder, in a serious tone of voice. “Leave this to me.”

    He reached up to the odd necklace he wore about his neck, and to Jim’s surprise, he saw that the spherical baubles were actually Poke Balls. Drawing one from the string, Alder gave it a toss.

    “Bouffalant, go!”

    From the Poke Ball came a large Pokemon resembling a brown buffalo with huge, curved horns extending from a sizeable afro on its head. Jim brought out his Pokedex once again.

    “Bouffalant, the Bash Buffalo Pokemon. The afro of hair on Bouffalant’s head absorbs damage from direct attacks. It charges wildly and headbutts anything in its path with enough force to derail a train.”

    “Use Stone Edge, Bouffalant!” ordered Alder.

    With a deep bellow, Bouffalant summoned a ring of jagged stones around its body, which fired at Cofagrigus, striking against its shiny surface.

    “Go!” ordered Alder, turning to the two Trainers. “Don’t worry about me! I’ll keep it occupied!”

    Knowing there was no need to be told twice, the two Trainers rushed down the corridor as Bouffalant and Cofagrigus squared off.

    “Should we have really left him by himself?” puffed Leanne.

    “He’s the Champion! He wouldn’t be if he couldn’t handle himself!” said Jim.

    “Good point.”

    Suddenly, they came to a halt. The corridor had led them straight into a dead end.

    “Oh no! What do we do now?…” groaned Leanne.

    “There!” shouted Oshawott, pointing to a section of the wall. Some of the stones had come loose, leaving a small hole, but still large enough for the passage of an average-sized human.

    “Ah! Leanne! Oshawott found a hole we could get through!”

    “Great! Ladies first!”

    Before Jim could react, Leanne had shimmied her upper body through the little aperture. Unfortunately, that was as far as she got. She hadn’t counted on the size of her plump little belly, which, unfortunately, was a bit bigger than the hole, and now had stopped her in her tracks, wedged like a cork in a bottle. She kicked against the floor and pushed against the wall with her hands, but she didn’t progress an inch.

    “It’s…kinda…snug…” she said, in between strained grunts, as her stomach pressed against the hole’s rim, unwilling to let her through.

    “Snug’s an understatement,” said Jim, grimly. “The fact is, you’re stuck.”

    “Stuck? Aw, no, I can’t be! Not with that thing on the loose!”

    “Don’t have a panic attack, we’re gonna get you out,” said Jim. “As if I was gonna leave you to the mercy of that thing.”

    “Oh, heh…thanks, Jim.”

    “But, uh…if I’m gonna get you out,” said Jim, in an embarrassed tone, “then I’m gonna have to…you know, put my hands on your…well, your rear.”

    “I really don’t care right now, just get me out!”

    “Point taken.”

    He placed his hands on her rump, an action that mounted the color to both of their faces, and gave a shove against it. Leanne’s stomach still refused to budge, even as she pushed frantically against the wall.

    “Come on…” she groaned. “Don’t do this to me now, belly…”

    “Ugh…it’s…no good…” groaned Jim, as he stopped to take a breather. “You’re not budging…”

    “Well, she’d better start budging posthaste,” said June, surveying the passage they had undergone. “Look!”

    A black and purple ball of light blasted against the wall around the bed, and they heard the tramp of something thudding along. Cofagrigus was closing in!

    With a thrill of panic, Jim pushed against Leanne with a new vigor.

    “Suck…it…in!” he strained.

    Leanne seemed to hear him, as she took a deep breath, reducing the size of her gut momentarily enough for it to push through, leaving her now only stopped at her rear, which, unfortunately, was also slightly larger than the hole. At that moment, there came the renewed sound of thudding footsteps. Around the corner came Cofagrigus, turned over onto its back, and walking on its hands like a crab, only adding to its creepy factor.

    Such a sight drew a cry of terror from Jim, and he hurriedly went back to heaving against his plump pal’s jammed rear, in a desperate bid to protect her from the creepy Ghost.

    “Do something!” he gasped to June, Oshawott, and Missy.

    They needed no further prompting. As Oshawott spat a Water Gun, June formed and loosed an Energy Ball, while Missy somersaulted and unleashed an Electro Ball, all three attacks striking and throwing back Cofagrigus, who flattened against the wall like a real sarcophagus.

    At last, with a surge, Leanne fell through the hole, and Jim tumbled through after her. June, Oshawott, and Missy leaped through in their turn. They had come out into a sandy-floored chamber, immense in size, with many murals on the walls.

    “Thanks, Jim,” gasped Leanne, enveloping her friend in a close hug.

    “Don’t mention it,” said Jim, putting an arm about her.

    “Guess I gotta drop a few pounds, huh?”

    “Nonsense. It’s not your fault that hole was too small. You’re perfect the way you are.”

    Leanne smiled and blushed at this. Suddenly, through the hole, they heard Alder shout,

    “Bouffalant, Head Charge!”

    There came an approaching tramp of hooves, and in the next instant,

    *BOOM!!*

    The wall crashed open, throwing everyone forward from the impact. Bouffalant had smashed the wall in with one tremendous headbutt. Alder rushed into the chamber beside it.

    “Are you kids ok?”

    “Yeah. No sweat,” said Jim, getting up and helping Leanne to her feet. “Where’s Cofagrigus?”

    “Oh, it’ll be back,” said Alder, grimly, “but I think we gave it a good scare for now.”

    “I hope so…” said Leanne. “I wonder what happened to Cheren and the Professor…”

    ***


    “Emboar, Flamethrower!”

    Emboar snorted a stream of flames, but Sigilyph floated out of the way. Then, its single eye glowed a vivid blue. The same glow surrounded Emboar, who suddenly flinched, as if stricken, and flew backwards with a crash.

    “What happened?” asked Cheren.

    “That was Psychic,” said Cedric. “Sigilyph is a Psychic-Flying type, so Emboar’s at a bit of a disadvantage.”

    “True…Emboar’s part-Fighting…“ mused Cheren. “…Well, I didn’t hear any rules barring a substitution. Liepard, go!”

    Cheren tossed another Poke Ball, and his lithe Liepard appeared, growling as its eyes fell on Sigilyph. Emboar staggered back to his feet.

    “Use Shadow Claw!”

    Liepard lunged, its claw glowing a smoky purple. This time, Sigilyph was unable to evade, and found itself struck and flung across the passage, against the wall. It regained itself, however, and began flapping its odd wings, which gave off a light blue glow.

    “A little Gust isn’t going to stop us!” said Cheren. “Liepard, Night Slash!”

    Liepard darted forward again, its claws glowing a more luminescent purple this time, and raked them across Sigilyph’s body, making it cease its Gusting antics. Sigilyph tried to wobble back into the air, but crumpled to the floor.

    “Goodness!” said Cedric. “Down with only two super effective attacks! You’ve really raised your Pokemon to an admirably strong level.”

    “Thanks, Professor,” said Cheren, who absent-mindedly began scratching behind Liepard’s ears. “To tell the truth, though, being strong and aiming to be number 1 had been my major priority…I suppose it was also why I was mad at Jim: I thought he would surpass me before I’d even got far enough…”

    “I quite understand, Cheren, but, remember, Jim’s never been the type to want to overshadow anyone, at least if it was within his own power to prevent it.”

    “Yeah…”

    Suddenly, a loud crash from somewhere behind the wall ahead drew their attention to the end of the passage.

    “What was that??”

    “I don’t know, but if Jim, Leanne, and Alder are on the other side, they might be in trouble.”

    “Then let’s make a shortcut! Emboar, Hammer Arm on that wall!”

    Emboar dashed for the opposite wall and drew his arm back, which began to glow red. Then, just when he was right in front of it, he swung!

    *CRASH!*

    The wall collapsed into a pile of rubble, and the two found themselves standing within the very same sand-floored chamber Jim’s group had already stumbled into. And lo and behold, they had arrived just when Leanne was questioning their safety.

    “Cheren! Professor Cedric!” said Jim, relieved.

    “Thank goodness you’re all ok!” said Cheren. “What happened?”

    “We had a bit of a run-in with a Cofagrigus. It was a really narrow escape…”

    “A Cofagrigus? Well, it was probably buddies with that Sigilyph we just knocked out. We didn’t count on this place being guarded by Pokemon like that.”

    “Well, the important thing is that we all made it out all right.”

    “Definitely.”

    “Oh, blast it, blast it, BLAST IT!”

    Everyone turned to Cedric, who was cudgeling his brains with his fist in agitation. He was standing before an enormous, elaborately-decorated doorway that stood in the center of the two ruined spots in the wall.

    “Two punctures in the fabric of a historic landmark, and the door to the very room we were looking for was right here!…”

    His four companions gave each other wearied, bemused looks at his frustrations. Only a true exploration buff could understand the poor man’s pain…

    And then, a new sound assailed Jim’s ears.

    A sound he had heard before.

    A slow clapping, one normally reserved for irony’s sake.

    And then,

    “Well, well, well…what a motley crew you’ve assembled, Jim Stevens…You really do know how to attract a crowd…”

    Jim felt his blood flare as he turned in the direction of the voice. Sure enough, there stood Ghetsis himself, flanked by many Plasma guards. Not only that, but two other Sages were with him, one dressed in brown robes, the other in purple, but both with iron-gray hair and large mustaches.

    “It is as we predicted, Ghetsis,” said the one in brown.

    “The Stevens boy would assuredly come here once Lord N had gained Zekrom,” said the other, “in the hopes of emulating him…”

    “Yes, Giallo, Ryoku, you were quite right,” said Ghetsis, in a wearied voice, as if he wanted nothing more than for them to shut up, “and I had known this already. If there’s anything I’ve always been right about, it’s knowing how these noble, ‘knight-hearted’ types function…”

    “I suppose you’re here to finish what you started,” said Jim, stonily. “You want the Light Stone after you stole the Dark Stone.”

    “My, my, aren’t you perceptive?” said Ghetsis, patronizingly. “You never miss a beat, do you, Stevens?…However, jumping to conclusions like that will only net you in trouble…”

    “Oh, please,” said Cheren, “from what I’ve seen of your grunts, conclusions about you aren’t jumpable, but easily validated.”

    “Quite a sharp tongue you have, young man,” said Ghetsis. “Am I to assume that you are Stevens’ friend, the one three of my grunts warned me about not too long ago?…”

    “Yes, I am. Jim may have added some embellishment to my reputation, but the fact stands that I’m not one to let you get away with what you’ve attempted, either!”

    “I see…”

    “So, I take it you’re the one who’s behind these armored weirdoes traipsing around Unova and screwing with everyone’s minds,” said Alder, crossing his arms with a furrowed brow.

    “Ah!” said Ghetsis, in what sounded like pleasant surprise, “Do my eyes deceive me? Can it truly be the Champion, Alder, himself? It is an honor to be in your presence…”

    He gave a gracious bow, though Jim had a feeling it was purely ironical.

    “Save your sycophancy, sir,” said Alder. “I know you think you’re out to help Pokemon everywhere, but I don’t quite approve of how you’re going about it…thievery, kidnapping, and attempted murder don’t quite sit well with me as helpful to your cause.”

    “Such strong words, sir…” said Ghetsis. “Who has told you such things? If it was these children, I will say I’m not surprised. As we are not on the best terms, it can be said that they would not make reliable sources…”

    “I happen to trust these kids,” said Alder, coldly, “more so because I’ve seen evidence for myself that your actions are less than noble. One doesn’t circumnavigate Unova without witnessing one thing or another.”

    Ghetsis’ expression briefly darkened, but he still retained a fawning smile.

    “Of course…how thoughtless of me. How could I have forgotten your tumultuous past, oh Champion? My sincerest apologies…”

    Alder’s face was like stone, but Jim could barely pick out a slight working of his mouth to show that he was agitated.

    “Sir,” said Alder, “I’ll ask you to leave out past occurrences that don’t concern you. What I’ll also ask is for you to vacate these premises immediately. This is a sacred temple, and your presence is a stain upon its legacy.”

    “We completely understand, Mr. Champion, and we shall leave as soon as our business is finished.”

    “You’ll leave now.”

    Alder’s words were calm, but stony. Bouffalant pawed the sand, ready to charge if the need arose. Emboar cracked his knuckles, and Liepard gave a low growl. Even June, Missy, and Oshawott looked ready to duke it out if there was any trouble. Ghetsis remained perfectly calm, but the Plasma grunts and the two other Sages looked at each other uneasily.

    “Are you attempting to disobey the Champion, Ghetsis?” asked Jim, icily.

    “The Champion of Unova is not its king,” answered Ghetsis, coldly, “and I follow no ruler but Lord N.”

    Jim was about to retort that, as far as he knew, Ghetsis followed his own rules, but thought he’d land N in trouble if the truth of his disdain of Team Plasma’s actions came to light, so he bit back his words.

    “Wait. What’s that?” asked Cheren, pointing at a spot in the sand.

    Right between Jim and Ghetsis, a circular spot in the sand began to glow with a whitish light, and also began to sift, like a sinkhole. Then, like a bubble, an orb of burning white light emerged from the spot, shining like a beacon. Everyone’s eyes widened at the sight of it, and a triumphant smile appeared on Ghetsis’ face.

    “Yes…yes! There it is! The Light Stone has finally revealed itself!”

    He approached it, reaching out his hands for it. All of a sudden, there was a burst like cannon fire, a blaze of fire, and Ghetsis was thrown back with a cry of pain that was quite feral in tone. His entourage grouped around him in an frenzy of horror. During this, the Light Stone floated over to Jim and settled slowly into his hands. It felt…warm. Not searing hot, but cozily warm.

    Ghetsis had gotten into a sitting posture, the right side of his body covered in scorches and burns, though all anyone could really see was the damage to his robes. He took one look at Jim, and the Light Stone in his hands, and his entire face changed. Whatever color had been in it before completely drained, until he had the look of a man who had aged 100 years in 5 seconds.

    “No…No!” he croaked, in a strangled voice mingled with fury. “Not him…Not him!! Guards! Eliminate him! Get that Stone!”

    His voice had become a manic shriek of rage and horror, and to hear him was to obey, as the guards rushed at the heroes in a body. Suddenly, with a loud thunk, something landed in front of them after having sailed over the heads of Jim and friends. It was tall and oblong, and had four shadowy arms.

    Cofagrigus!

    Now its attention had been turned to Team Plasma, who jumped back at the sight of it.

    “What are you doing, you fools?!” yelled Ghetsis. “Stop him! Stop him!”

    Next, with an unusual cry, Sigilyph came flying into the chamber, the two Pokemon barring the way to Jim and friends from Team Plasma.

    “Go…” came a low voice from Cofagrigus. “Escape now…”

    “The White Hero…returns…” came the unearthly voice of Sigilyph.

    Jim wasn’t sure why they had suddenly decided to defend them, but knew they mustn’t waste time.

    “Let’s go!” he said to the others. “Missy, light the way!”

    “Emboar, keep behind her,” instructed Cheren, who called back Liepard.

    Alder called Bouffalant back, and the next instant, the Champion, professor, and three Trainers darted out of the chamber, leaving Team Plasma at the mercy of Sigilyph and Cofagrigus.

    And Ghetsis? He perceived the escape of his foes, which, coupled with the loss of the Light Stone and the blast he had received, completely obliterated his calm façade for the moment, and he let loose a cry of rage that rang all throughout the Relic Castle, one that pierced Jim’s very marrow as he ran down the passages…The consequences would be dire from this venture, and no mistake…

    Y Rotation Team

  9. #24

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 24
    A Friendship Rekindled



    It wasn’t quite leaving the dark to return to the light of day, but it was a great relief to Jim to finally be out of the musty Castle and back into fresh air. The sun had long set, and a pale full moon hung in the air. Besides that, Missy and Emboar were still giving off their own lights, and the stone in Jim’s hands was also giving off a steady glow.

    “That…was a close one…” panted Leanne.

    “Exactly what I live for, my dear!” said Cedric, who was the only one in immediate good spirits. “I’m still a little sore about having to punch in another entrance when there was one in the first place, but still, you can only keep a Juniper from the thrill of the hunt for so long!” He burst into a hearty laugh.

    “I wouldn’t be so jovial just now,” said Alder. “When Team Plasma finally manages to get away from that Sigilyph and Cofagrigus, they’ll be coming for us like a swarm of angry Durant.”

    “Ah. Good point,” said Cedric. “We’d better be off, then.”

    “Are you coming with us, Alder, sir?” asked Jim.

    “No thanks. I don’t put much trust in flying machines. I prefer going by foot anyway. I wish you all the best of luck, though, and can’t wait to see you in the League. Bring your best.”

    He extended his hand, which Jim shook heartily. After extending the same sentiments to Cedric, Leanne, and Cheren, he took his leave down the stretch of sand, disappearing over the nearest dune.

    “He’s an odd man,” said Cheren, “but there’s a reason he’s the Champion.”

    “Oh, no doubt about that,” said Jim.

    Then followed an uncomfortable silence. Jim realized that he was standing right next to Cheren with the Light Stone in his hands, incontrovertible evidence of being chosen by Reshiram, as if being rescued by him long ago (it felt like ages since Jim first set out) wasn’t glaring enough. Now Cheren had visible proof of Jim’s unnatural fortune and a visible reason to feel resentful towards him. He awaited the tirade that would come from this…but none came.

    Instead, Cheren, shifting his tie uncomfortably, said,

    “Jim, listen…Ever since this whole dragon business started, I…well, I know I’ve been anything but supportive, and that’s putting it nicely. I should have been happy for you, ecstatic at the idea that my best friend was destined to wield the power of the great Reshiram, and believe me, I wanted to be…instead, I let myself get jealous. Not just jealous because you seemed to be endowed with incredible luck, or because you could talk to Pokemon, or because everyone always seems to like you…but because, deep down, I’d hoped it could have been me…”

    Jim’s eyes widened in surprise.

    “Do you remember when you first read us that legend of the dragons? I said that the next Black Hero or White Hero would have to be impossibly perfect, and you said I was pretty near perfect, so maybe I would be one of the next Heroes…It was a silly idea at first, but in the end, I liked the idea. When I began to piece together that it was going to be you instead of me…my internal reactions were much like Ghetsis’ back in the Castle. ‘Why Jim’, I thought to myself, ‘why does it always have to be Jim?’…It didn’t feel fair. I trained my Pokemon to their maximum, to be the strongest that could ever be…and you still somehow manage to leave more of an impression. I’d even left before you to get a head start before you, and yet you still manage to keep right behind me…”

    Here, Cheren’s voice became choked, as if he were fighting back tears.

    “But now, Jim…now I just can’t fight it anymore. I don’t know how or why it has to be you, but somehow, it just seems fitting…I don’t want to go on hating you, Jim…I don’t want to lose what we had as friends…I don’t want Bianca to be torn by us anymore…I want to go back to the way things were…”

    Jim just stood there, stunned, regarding his friend as he let his emotions break out all at once. Mixed in with the strong pity and sympathy he felt for him, there was also an immense lightening in his heart. He had been waiting forever for Cheren to finally admit his own faults, when he himself had been more than willing to see this whole business put to rest.

    With a sympathetic smile, he put a hand on Cheren’s shoulder, making him look up.

    “Cheren…if you think I’m going to hold any of this nonsense against you know, you’re out of your mind. All this time I’ve been wanting to put this whole business to rest. How could I ever want to lose one of my best friends since childhood? I never wanted to overshadow anybody. All I’ve wanted was to travel Unova, see and meet new Pokemon, like my dad used to do…I don’t want to lose what we had any more than you do…You’re right, we haven’t been fair to each other, or to Bianca. We can’t lose that over something like this…”

    He held up his hand in front of Cheren. He seemed to perceive what it meant, as a grateful smile came to his face.

    “…Jim…”

    There followed their handshake: high-five, fist bump, thumbs up.

    “Bros forever, Cheren,” said Jim.

    “Bros forever, Jim,” said Cheren.

    It was a simple sign, but one that spoke volumes. Two old friends, separated briefly and bitterly by a misunderstanding and jealousy, had come back together once more, now able to see each other eye to eye.

    Cedric and Leanne, who had been watching this whole development, smiled proudly, Leanne wiping at her eyes. June, Missy, and Oshawott exchanged looks of happy relief to see them finally set aside their feud. Even Emboar clapped a big burly hand on Cheren’s shoulder, smiling proudly down at his Trainer. Cheren returned the gesture with a grateful pat on his hand.

    “I really hate to break up this friendship-fest,” said Cedric, “but we need to make tracks before Team Plasma comes out of Relic Castle.”

    “Ah! Right, of course!” said Cheren. He pulled out a Poke Ball. “Emboar, you did an amazing job! Return!”

    Emboar disappeared into his Poke Ball. Jim picked up Missy.

    “Good job, girl. You get a good long rest, all right?”

    She licked the tip of his nose in response, and he recalled her into her Poke Ball. June clambered back onto his shoulder, and Leanne picked up Oshawott, and they all clambered back into the plane.

    “So, folks, where to?” asked Cedric.

    “Hmm…I know!” said Jim, after a moment’s thought, “can you take us to Opelucid City?”

    “Great idea!” said Cheren. “We can both get our final badges!”

    “Can do, boys! Can do!” said Cedric, starting the ignition. “Next stop, Opelucid City!”

    Leanne, who was looking out the window, suddenly cried out in alarm.

    “Here they come!!”

    “What?! Aw, no!”

    “Hang on, kids! We’re booking it!”

    With a jerk, the plane lifted up and off into the air. Down below, Jim could just barely pick out a mob of figures down below, and saw the vivid green hair of Ghetsis. They had made it out just in time…

    “Something tells me they’re going to make their revenge big and fierce,” said Jim, looking down at the Light Stone in his hands. “This isn’t something they’re going to let fly easily.”

    “I quite agree,” said Cheren. “For the meantime, I’d suggest tucking that away in your backpack. It wouldn’t do lugging it around for all to see.”

    “Good point.”

    With that, Jim opened his pack and carefully placed the Light Stone within it, where it nestled comfortably among his clothes.

    “There. Out of sight, not quite out of mind.”

    “So, Professor Cedric, how long will it take to get to Opelucid?”

    “Oh, about an hour or two, Leanne, but that’s easily passed over. I might as well spend the night there myself. I’d like to have a word with Drayden myself.”

    “Drayden?…Where have I heard that name before?” mused Jim.

    “Isn’t he the Opleucid Gym Leader?” asked Leanne. “The one Iris mentioned in Castelia City?”

    “Oh yeah! Now I remember!”

    “Drayden happens to be a leading authority on the legend of the dragons,” said Cedric. “Opelucid City itself is steeped in ancient history.”

    “Really? Then it sounds like this Drayden’s someone worth meeting for more than a Gym Badge.”

    The ride continued smoothly from there on, and as the night wore on towards the midnight hours, they had long left the desert behind, and were approaching Opelucid City, the northern center-point of Unova…

    ***


    Back on ground level, Ghetsis remained where he was, supported by Giallo and Ryoku, his eyes fixed on the spot where his enemies had disappeared to. His face was a mask of inexpressible rage, all the more terrible because he didn't give voice to it. He had been duped out of the Light Stone, at a chance to finally one-up Jim, and he had suffered injuries to both his physical self and his pride...

    "What is your bidding, Ghetsis?" asked Ryoku.

    "...We shall return to our base," said Ghetsis, quietly. "This is only a minor setback...They shan't know what hit them when we finally strike...Enjoy your reprieve while you can, Stevens, for when you see what we have in store for you...you'll wish you'd stayed quietly at home..."

    So saying, he allowed himself to be supported away by his faithful entourage into the dark of the night.

    Y Rotation Team

  10. #25

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 25
    Drayden


    The travelers were too exhausted to look about them when they arrived in Opelucid City, and went straight for the Pokemon Center to rest up for tomorrow. It can be safely said, however, that no one was disappointed about that in the least.

    Opelucid City was indeed, as Cedric had said, a town steeped in ancient history. All of the original foundations and structures of the town were still in place, giving it the appearance of a town that had been preserved in a snow globe or a photograph. When Jim first took a look about, he found it to his liking. He had always admired the archaic or ancient; it was quite interesting to him to see how things were and worked back in older days.

    ***


    The foursome exited the Pokemon Center bright and early the next morning, looking out at the gray stone houses and buildings.

    “Intriguing…” muttered Cheren. “It’s as if time has stopped altogether…”

    “Opelucid and its sister-city, Lacunosa, have a profound history connected to the dragons, a history they preserve with pride,” said Cedric.

    “So, where do we find this Drayden?” asked Jim.

    “Well, he happens to be the mayor of Opelucid, so I daresay we’d find him at home.”

    “He’s the mayor and the Gym Leader? Isn’t there one Gym Leader in Unova not living a double life?…”

    This wearied question brought a laugh out of Cedric.

    “If there’s anything the Unova Leaders pride themselves on, Jimmy, it’s versatility.”

    “Versatility isn’t the first word that comes to mind,” muttered Jim, “but lead the way, Professor.”

    “All right, then. Follow me, kids!”

    And Cedric led the way from the Pokemon Center down the main street of Opelucid, down the long line of ancient, preserved homes, coming at last to a house that stood out tall and prestigious among them all, a veritable mansion among them. A plaque on the door read, “Mayor Drayden”.

    Cedric knocked, and the door was opened by a face that made Jim cry out in recognition.

    “Iris!”

    So it was! Iris, the girl who had helped them rescue Lilligant in Castelia City.

    “Hey! I know you!” she said, a big smile on her face. “You’re the guys from Castelia! What’s up?”

    “We’re here to speak to Drayden, my dear,” said Cedric. “Is he in?”

    “Yeah. He’s downstairs training his Pokemon, but I can go fetch him if you want.”

    “Please do, but only if it’s convenient for him.”

    “Ok! I’ll be right back.”

    And she shut the door.

    “You know that girl?” asked Cheren.

    “She helped us in Castelia City, when Leanne’s Lilligant was kidnapped by Team Plasma.”

    “What?! Those scoundrels…But who is she?”

    “From what we heard, she’s Drayden’s protégé, and a Dragon user. We saw her use an Axew admirably.”

    “Hmm…”

    The door opened again, and Iris appeared again, but this time she was accompanied by a man who must have been Drayden. He was a tall, brawny man, white-haired, with the lower part of his face hidden by a beard that more resembled a mask.

    “Professor Cedric,” he said, in a gruff but civil voice, “if I’d known you would be stopping by, I would have been better prepared.”

    “I do apologize, Drayden,” said Cedric, “but this was an impromptu arrangement, and an urgent matter. May I present Jim Stevens, his friend Cheren, and his friend Leanne, all Trainers.”

    “Charmed,” said Drayden. “Welcome to Opelucid, young ones. What can I do for you? As mayor, I shall exercise whatever request you may ask, within my capacity.”

    “We have two things to ask of you, sir,” said Cheren. “First, Jim and I wish to challenge you for our final Gym Badges.”

    “Aha!” said Drayden, in a pleased tone, “splendid! I’ve been waiting for a new challenge for quite some time. Not many people pass through Opelucid these days, so I’ve seen fewer and fewer challengers.”

    “And the other thing,” said Jim, “is that we’d like you to tell us what you know about the legendary dragons.”

    Drayden raised an eyebrow.

    “The legendary dragons?”

    “Yes, sir. I have something in my pack that may explain our request, but we’d rather we spoke of it in privacy.”

    “I see…Very well, you may come in.”

    The four travelers stepped inside. Drayden’s home was of strict, almost militaristic architecture, very few decorative items except for a few knickknacks. They all took seats on a sofa facing Drayden’s armchair, and Iris sat cross-legged beside Drayden himself, who sat with arms crossed.

    “Now, as I recall Iris telling me, two of you were in Castelia City when she was, and helped halt the escapades of Team Plasma.”

    “Yes, sir, that was Leanne and me,” said Jim.

    “Mm…I haven’t seen them personally, but from what Iris tells me, they’re low human beings…”

    “They were!” said Iris. “They were gonna take away that poor Lilligant as if they had the right to!”

    “You haven’t heard the worst of it, Iris…” said Jim, grimly, “but we’ll get to that later.”

    “Yes, quite right,” said Drayden. “Now, you said you had something that would explain your reason for coming?”

    “Yes, sir. It’s…this.”

    And Jim slowly drew the Light Stone from his pack.

    Drayden’s mouth was hidden beneath his beard, but the widening of his eyes plainly told his shock and amazement at seeing it. Iris, for her part, gaped with wide open mouth and staring eyes.

    “The Light Stone…” murmured Drayden. “But then…if you have it…What does this mean?…”

    “Please, sir, we need you tell us all you can, about the dragons, the heroes, and these stones, and what impact this has for us.”

    “…Profound…Very well, you shall hear all. Now, let me see…”

    Everyone leaned forward, eager to hear what Drayden would say.

    “You are aware of the legend of the Heroes and the Dragons, then?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Then you know that Reshiram sided with the Hero of Truths, and Zekrom sided with the Hero of Ideals.”

    “Yes.”

    “But were you aware they were once one dragon?”

    “…I dimly remember that, sir,” said Jim.

    “As do I,” said Cheren.

    “Well, then, what many people do not know is that, when that dragon split into Reshiram and Zekrom…a third was created as well.”

    Jim and Cheren’s eyes popped wide open.

    “A third dragon??” asked Cheren. “But we never heard that in the legend!”

    “That is because this dragon is shrouded in inconclusive mystery, but I have faith in this hypothesis. This third Pokemon, a ‘leftover’ of the diffusion, you might say, became Kyurem, a dragon of ice.”

    “Kyurem?…”

    “An ice dragon?”

    “It currently resides in a cave outside Lacunosa Town, which is the very reason it possesses a high wall around it, in fear of a rampage. No one dares go near its dwelling, no one dares leave the protection of the walls…”

    “Gosh…” breathed Leanne.

    “But Kyurem has been silent for many years. There is no danger of it these days. In any case, we are straying off topic. You know how the legend goes from there?”

    “We believe we do, sir,” said Jim. “The brothers fought, but the dragons, since they were once one, couldn’t beat each other, and ended up ravaging the land. They then went their separate ways, only for the feud to be renewed by their sons. After that, they once more dispersed, only to be summoned when the next in line to inherit them called them forth.”

    “Nicely summarized,” said Drayden, “but that is where this stone, and its counterpart, come in. These stones were constructed so that Reshiram and Zekrom would only be called when the true bearer gained possession of it. Anyone else who attempted to take it, if they were of a particularly dark nature, would be repelled.”

    (Just like Ghetsis...)

    “There’s more to it, though. The hero must prove himself to be one who followed truth or ideals. Reshiram or Zekrom would only ally itself with the one who summoned it if they satisfied it with their answer.”

    “Then N did satisfy Zekrom,” said Jim.

    “What was that?”

    “Drayden, sir,” said Cheren, “what he means is that the next Black Hero has already revealed himself.”

    “W-What?! How? Who?”

    “His name is N,” said Jim. “He’s…the leader of Team Plasma.”

    “The leader?…Most troubling…”

    “We saw him summon Zekrom with the Dark Stone up at Dragonspiral Tower.”

    “A fitting place of summons, but no less disconcerting…to think Zekrom now roams free under the command of a human, let alone one affiliated with desperate renegades…And you, Mr. Stevens, since you possess the Light Stone…am I to assume you are the next White Hero?”

    “So it would appear, sir,” said Jim, “but I really wish I wasn’t…”

    Drayden raised an eyebrow.

    “You really want me to say why? It should be clear why! I only wanted to be a normal Trainer, to travel Unova, see what it had to offer, compete in the League! Instead, I’m touted as some kind of idol, a perfect Trainer! All this fame surrounding what I’ve done has been causing me nothing but trouble since Day 1...Some days, I just don’t know why I go on…”

    He put his face in his hands, while Cedric, Cheren, Leanne, and Iris looked at him with sympathetic expressions. Drayden, in a kinder tone, said,

    “You have a humble heart, Jim, a heart full of truth…Perhaps that is why you were chosen. I understand your frustration at being cast into this situation, but it is nothing that can be amended. All you can do is take it in stride. When the time comes, all will become clear. For now, I would not summon Reshiram until it becomes absolutely necessary.”

    Jim raised his head to look into the wise face of the Dragon master, and knew he was right.

    “…Thank you, sir.”

    “And this is all you can tell us, Drayden?” asked Cedric.

    “For now, it is. This is all extraordinary, to think I would live to see a day like this. I sense dark times ahead, but all we can do is wait and take them as they come…”

    There was a moment of silence for everyone to let this sink in, and all faces were grim. Though levels of understanding varied, all knew that Drayden was right, and no one liked to think of what the end result was going to be…

    Drayden finally cleared his throat.

    “Well, I know this isn’t an easy subject to break off from, but you boys also wished for a Gym Battle?”

    “Yes, sir,” said Cheren, looking relieved to be on an easier topic.

    “Well, normally, I would have you face me one at a time, but I have a better idea. One of you may face me, and the other…” He put a hand on top of Iris’s head. “can face Iris.”

    “Huh?? Me?” asked Iris, surprised.

    “Yes, my girl. You’re going to be my successor one day, are you not? Well, I want you to have a taste of what being a Gym Leader is like. Will you do it?”

    “Yes, sir! I’ll do it!”

    “Excellent! Does this suit you, gentlemen?”

    “Very nicely,” said Jim. “If I may make a request, sir, can I choose to battle Iris? I’ve no doubt Cheren would want to battle you the most.”

    Cheren looked at Jim in surprise, as if he never expected him to make this kind of sacrifice.

    “A very noble decision,” said Drayden, approvingly. “Are we agreed, Cheren?”

    “A-Agreed!” said Cheren, finding his voice. “I’d be honored to battle you, sir!”

    “Then come to the Gym when you’re ready. Jim, Iris will lead you to where you will battle, and I shall do the same with you, Cheren.”

    “Thank you, sir,” said both boys at once.

    “And thank you very much for your time,” said Cedric. “Your talk has been most helpful.”

    “Glad to have been of service. I hope to see you soon.”

    And the group of 4 left Drayden and Iris, all with buzzing minds over what had taken place.

    Y Rotation Team

  11. #26

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 26
    Jim vs. Iris


    “Are you sure, Jim? You could always battle Drayden.”

    “Nah, Cheren. You deserve it much more than me. I’ve got a feeling Drayden’s gonna be a tough customer, but your Emboar looks just as tough.”

    “Flattery only gets you so far, Jim, but I appreciate that. Good luck against Iris.”

    “Thanks. You too.”

    The two had returned to the Pokemon Center to evaluate their strategies, and, after a couple hours of pondering and evaluating, were now standing outside the Opelucid Gym, an imposing edifice of white stone, flanked by imposing, open-mouthed dragon statues. Leanne had accompanied them, wishing to watch Jim’s battle.

    For Jim’s part, he didn’t have anything that was super-effective against Dragon-types, so he would have to go for power and tactics for the most part. He knew that Dragons were extremely resilient, except against Ice or their own type, and that, like Normal types, could learn a myriad of attacks. Still, he knew well enough to avoid thinking of using Pokemon that wouldn’t produce much of an effect. He was banking on standard damage if he couldn’t have it any other way, and Spade had just that.

    He did, however, have Rok, who knew Dragonbreath, and was a powerhouse in himself, so he swapped him for Echo before leaving. Therefore, he was banking on Rok and Spade. Moreover, when trying to pick his team, Torrent had hinted at getting in on the fight, due to having an ‘ace up his sleeve’, one he had been working on while he and Torch were at Professor Juniper’s. What else could he do but trust him?

    The doors opened, and there stood Drayden and Iris.

    “Welcome,” said Drayden. “You both have come a long way to make it this far, and it’s now time for your final Gym challenge. Jim, follow Iris. Cheren, come with me.”

    The two walked inside into an elaborately decorated chamber, like a foyer, with two doors branching off, each set into the mouths of stone dragons in the walls. Iris led Jim and Leanne through the door on the right, where they found themselves in an enormous room with no floor, but a stone battlefield held up by immense chains in the walls, the walls themselves lined with torches.

    Jim couldn’t help but gulp as he looked at the dark expanse below, an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. Iris, on the other hand, leaped skillfully across the battlefield and onto the other side, a big grin on her face, as if this was all a game.

    “I hope you’re excited about this as I am!”

    “Well, I am fired up to battle,” said Jim, “but is this pit necessary?”

    “Oh, don’t worry. Drayden wouldn’t risk Trainers losing their Pokemon down there. We’ve got a recovery Pokemon at hand if that ever happens.”

    She gestured to something standing against the wall, which Jim had assumed was a decorative statue, but threw a scare into him when it suddenly turned its head to look at him and held up its hand in greeting, making Leanne yelped in fright. It was 9 feet tall, made of blue stone, wearing what looked like Roman armor and an odd patch on its chest. Jim brought out his Pokedex.

    “Golurk, the Automaton Pokemon, and the evolved form of Golett. Golurk is said to have been the protector of the people who made it. If the patch on its armor is removed, the energy within it will go out of control.”

    “So, that thing rescues Pokemon on the off chance that they fall off?”

    “Yep! Watch!”

    Golurk, all at once, tucked its arms into its shoulders, and its legs into the skirt of its armor, and began hovering in the air from roaring, fiery jets made from the apertures made from the retracted limbs. Jim and Leanne stared in astonishment, even after Golurk settled back into its old position again.

    “Well, that’s comforting, I suppose,” said Jim.

    “Great! So we ready?”

    “Yeah. Let’s do it.”

    “Yay! Leanne, do you think you can be our judge?”

    “Huh? Me? Well, sure, I guess.”

    “All right! Golurk?”

    Golurk took off into the air once more and hovered right over to Jim and Leanne, floating within the expanse of the pit so that its head and shoulders were level with them. Leanne stared at it in puzzlement.

    “I think it wants you to get on its shoulder,” said Jim.

    “W-What?!”

    “Go on!” said Iris. “It’s safe, I promise!”

    “Oh, man…”

    “Go on, Leanne. They’d never put anyone in danger on purpose. I’m sure this Golurk knows what it’s doing.”

    Golurk gave a slight nod in affirmation, and Leanne, tentatively, with a look on her face that said she’d rather be doing anything else at the moment, eased herself onto Golurk’s shoulder. June and Oshawott opted to stay with Jim, neither one looking very trusting of Golurk. The Automaton Pokemon then floated back to its old spot, and Leanne called, from her spot,

    “The, uh, Gym Battle between Jim Stevens and Opelucid Gym Leader-in-training, Iris, shall now begin! Uh…how many Pokemon?”

    “Classic three on three,” said Iris.

    “All right, then. This shall be a three on three battle with no time limit. The battle will end when all of one of the combatants’ Pokemon is unable to battle, and only the challenger can make substitutions. Go!”

    Jim smiled. She had learned how this went from all the previous Gym Battles they had experienced.

    “Then let’s go!” said Iris, drawing her first Poke Ball. “Deino, go!”

    Out from Iris’ Poke Ball came a quadruped dragon, blue in color, but covered with a coat of black hair or fur over must of it, even over its eyes. Jim brought out his Pokedex again.

    “Deino, the Irate Pokemon. Deino is unable to see, so it viciously attacks anything it senses before it. It possesses a voracious appetite.”

    “A Dark Dragon…” muttered Jim. “Well, I’ve got a Pokemon who could take that. Spade, you’re up first!”

    From Jim’s first Poke Ball came his faithful Excadrill.

    “Ooh, an Excadrill!” said Iris. “Drayden always said Excadrill are one of Unova’s most versatile fighters.”

    “Really? He does look like the kind of person who understands the power of Pokemon.”

    “Definitely! He told me the best way to know a Pokemon’s true fighting strength is to experience it for himself. That’s why he trains his Pokemon by wrestling with them.”

    “He wrestles with them??” asked Jim, bewildered.

    A sudden flash went through his head of Drayden pinning a Beartic down to a wrestling mat effortlessly.

    “Well, let’s go!” said Iris.

    “Oh! Uh, right. Spade, start off with Drill Run!”

    Spade encapsulated himself within his own claws, spun rapidly, and shot straight at Deino.

    “Use Slam!”

    Deino charged at the incoming Excadrill and rammed against him. Both were thrown back from the impact, and Spade unfolded himself.

    “Wow. That’s one tough little dragon,” muttered Jim.

    “We’re just getting started! Dragon Pulse!”

    Deino breathed in, then exhaled an enormous stream of bluish-purple flames right at Spade.

    “Dodge it, and go in for Metal Claw!”

    Spade sidestepped, barely dodging the blast, and dashed at Deino, claws glowing silver.

    “Crunch!”

    Deino lunged and snapped its fangs down on one of Spade’s paws. This led into a struggle of wills, both pushing against each other to come out on top to make the next strike. Jim, however, already had an idea.

    “Put a stop to this struggle, Spade! Rock Smash!”

    Spade drew one arm black, claws glowing red, and socked Deino right in the face, making it release its hold. Deino snarled.

    “Don’t like that, do you?” asked Jim. “Go back in for Metal Claw, Spade!”

    Spade’s claws glowed silver again, and, with a swift swipe, raked them across Deino, tossing it back across the field.

    “Hang in there, Deino!” encouraged Iris. “Use Dragon Pulse again!”

    Deino breathed another bluish-purple flame, this time blasting Spade and throwing him back. Thankfully, this was Dragon fire and not ‘Fire’ fire, so Spade didn’t take any super effective damage.

    “Shake it off, Spade,” said Jim. “Use Rock Smash!”

    “Use Slam, Deino!”

    The two Pokemon leaped at each other, Spade’s claws glowing red. Deino struck first against Spade’s chest, but Spade struck with his claws, throwing Deino back.

    “Ok, Spade, give it another Drill Run!”

    Spade once more bulleted for Deino in drill-shape, as Deino struggled back to its feet.

    “Use Dragonbreath!” shouted Iris.

    Deino let loose another blast of flames, only this one was white, and completely enshrouded Spade as he rocketed forward. He slammed into Deino regardless, who flopped across the battlefield, lying in a slump at Iris’ feet.

    “Deino is unable to battle!” said Leanne. “Excadrill wins!”

    “Good job, Spade!” said Jim, as Spade uncurled himself.

    However, he suddenly flinched in a spasm of pain as electric sparks surrounded him.

    “Spade?? What happened?!”

    Iris laughed as she recalled Deino. “You may have taken Deino down, but it still left your Excadrill a little present: paralysis!”

    (That Dragonbreath! Just like it did against The Guy’s Scrafty when Rok used it…How could I have forgotten that?)

    “Now you’re gonna get it,” said Iris, as she pulled out her second Poke Ball. “Druddigon, go!”

    The ball burst open, and the Pokemon that came forth really threw a startle into Jim. It was a bipedal blue dragon, but extremely intimidating in appearance. It was almost entirely covered in spikes and sharp ridges on every surface: its arms, its legs, its tail, even its wings were jagged. Its red head was a mass of sharp points, within which were two glaring yellow eyes. Jim brought out his Pokedex.

    “Druddigon, the Cave Pokemon. It charges through narrow caves, catching prey in its sharp claws. The skin of its face is more resilient than stone.”

    “Spade,” said Jim, “why don’t we switch you out? You might not be able to take this.”

    “Ah’ll be fine, Jim,” groaned Spade, still sparking. “Ah ain’t out of the runnin’ yet…”

    Jim couldn’t help looking at the plucky Excadrill with admiration for his stoutness, then said,

    “Ok, do what you can.”

    “Go!” said Leanne.

    “Use Metal Claw!” said Jim.

    Spade ran for Druddigon, claws glowing silver, though his movements were a lot jerkier, and a constant cringe was on his face as he ran.

    “Druddigon, use Dragon Claw!”

    Druddigon drew its arm back, the white claws on it glowing blue, and slashed at Spade, who struck with his Metal Claw at the same time, the attacks glancing off each other.

    “Rock Smash!” said Jim.

    Spade slammed a red-glowing claw into Druddigon’s underside, but all it did was flinch briefly. Its hide was tough…

    Use Flamethrower, Druddigon!” commanded Iris.

    (Flamethrower?! Oh no…)

    Sure enough Druddigon breathed a stream of red-hot flames at Spade, who yelled out in pain as he was blasted back. Another surge of sparks surrounded his body, and he remained stock-still where he was.

    “Oh no…”

    “Oh yes! Druddigon, finish him off with Focus Blast!”

    Druddigon pulled its arms back, a glowing blue ball forming between its pointed claws, then lobbed it straight at Spade, bowling him over and sending him onto his back.

    “Excadrill is unable to battle! Druddigon wins!” said Leanne, in a rather regretful tone.

    “Good job, buddy,” said Jim, recalling him. “You did a great job. Your defeat’s not gonna be in vain.” He drew a second Poke Ball. “All right, let’s show this Druddigon what happens when it messes with Team Jim! Rok, go!”

    With a burst of light and a prehistoric caw, Rok appeared. Iris gasped, wide-eyed.

    “No way! An actual Archeops! You are so lucky!”

    “A little gift from the folks at Nacrene City. He’s gonna show you what happens when you take one of his comrades down.”

    Rok unfurled his wings and cawed.

    “Oh, really? Let’s see then,” said Iris, a big competitive smile on her face.

    “Rok, start us off with AncientPower!”

    Rok leaped into the air, cupping his claws together to form a glowing white orb between them, which launched for Druddigon.

    “Focus Blast!”

    Druddigon launched another glowing blue sphere from its claws, colliding with the AncientPower and creating an explosion of smoke.

    “Now, Rok, Aerial Ace!” called Jim.

    Rok soared through the smoke and struck against Druddigon, though he recoiled back a mere moment later with a cry of pain.

    “Rok! What happened?”

    “Druddigon’s Rough Skin,” said Iris. “Pokemon can’t make physical contact with it without getting damaged in return.”

    (In hindsight, that should have been obvious…)

    “Ok, Druddigon, use Flamethrower!”

    “Rok, counter with Dragonbreath!”

    Druddigon breathed a stream of red flames, but something happened with Rok. Rather than the white flames of Dragonbreath, he spewed a blast of bluish-purple fire, overwhelming the Flamethrower and blazing over Druddigon, who roared in pain.

    “Rok…was that Dragon Pulse??” Jim asked.

    “Yep! Me do good, Jim-friend?”

    “Good? This could save our battle! Atta boy, Rok!”

    “Oh, we’re not through yet!” said Iris. “Druddigon, Dragon Claw!”

    Druddigon lunged, claws glowing blue.

    “Use Crunch, Rok!”

    Rok lunged himself, fangs glowing white. Druddigon swung, just missing Rok, as he arched his neck out of the way, and Rok bit down on Druddigon’s arm. Druddigon roared in agony, but in retaliation, struck at Rok with another Dragon Claw, knocking him away.

    “Easy, Rok…”

    “Druddigon, use Focus Blast!” commanded Iris.

    “Dodge and use Dragon Pulse!”

    Druddigon fired another Focus Blast, but Rok leaped into the air and sent another jet of flames down from above.

    “Now, give us a big finale, Rok! AncientPower!”

    Rok formed another glowing white orb between his claws, which he launched right at Druddigon.

    “Druddigon, use Toxic!”

    Jim’s eyes widened in surprise. Toxic??

    Sure enough, Druddigon spat a glob of nasty purplish sludge just before the AncientPower struck it and knocked it flat, and Rok was splattered in the stuff. A sickly purple hue emanated from the Archeops’ body, and he looked ill.

    “Rok!”

    “Druddigon is unable to battle!” said Leanne. “Archeops wins!”

    “But at a price…” muttered Jim. He looked at Iris, who was beaming proudly at how clever her last-ditch ploy had been. She recalled Druddigon.

    “Rok, maybe we ought to switch out. You can’t keep up if you’re poisoned.”

    “No, Jim-friend,” said Rok, in a groaning voice. “Me keep going…me still fight.”

    “You sure?…”

    “Me sure.”

    “…You’re a staunch fighter, Rok. I’m proud to call you a teammate.”

    Rok smiled, but it turned to a grimace from the poisoning.

    “You’ve got some really gutsy Pokemon,” said Iris. “Although I’d say they’re more stubborn.”

    “Well, that just goes to show you can’t keep them down, Iris,” said Jim. “Paralysis, poison, we’ll tough them all out!”

    “Then tough it out through this!” said Iris, bringing out her last Poke Ball. “Fraxure, it’s all up to you!”

    A Fraxure, just like the one Jim had faced in the Wonder Launcher challenge, appeared on the battlefield.

    “Is that the Axew we saw in Castelia City?” Jim asked.

    “It sure is!” said Iris. “I’m so proud! Now he’s a force to really be reckoned with!”

    “Then let’s do this!” said Jim. “Rok, Dragon Pulse!”

    “You too, Fraxure!”

    Both Pokemon breathed streams of blue-purple flames, and Jim felt confident that, even though he was Poisoned, Rok would still come out on top, being fully-evolved. However, much to his bewilderment, Rok’s Dragon Pulse was overcome easily by Fraxure’s, and he was blasted backwards.

    “Rok?? What happened?!”

    Rok let out a groan of pain. Mixed in with the purple glow of the poison, there was also a sickly reddish glow unknown to Jim. He brought out his Pokedex.

    “Defeatist, an Ability exclusive to the Archen family. When its stamina is depleted by half, Attack and Special Attack are halved.”

    “What kind of Ability is that??” asked Jim, in a tone of mingled outrage and bewilderment. “Then again…maybe it’s to regulate his power. What a downer…”

    “Not gonna try another attack?” asked Iris. “Then we will! Fraxure, Dragon Claw!”

    Fraxure leaped at Rok, claws glowing blue, and slashed at him, throwing him even further back, right to the edge of the platform. Jim’s heart banged painfully in his chest as he saw Rok try to steady himself, one foot grasping the edge…

    It was no good. Weakened by Poison, his own Ability, and the onslaught of Dragon attacks, Rok toppled over the edge.

    “ROK!!!” Jim screamed.

    “Oh no!” gasped Iris. “Golurk, rescue!”

    In a blink, Golurk had activated its jets and descended into the pit, Leanne giving a yelp of surprise and fear as it did so. After several tense moments of looking into the blackness, Jim was relieved to see Golurk rise, carrying Rok in its arms. He was already out cold, unfortunately.

    “Archeops is unable to battle,” said Leanne. “Fraxure wins.”

    Rok was set down in front of Jim, who immediately dug into his pack and fed him a Pecha Berry followed by his usual Nepi Berry dip. After chewing it all up and finally swallowing, Rok opened his eyes.

    “Rok, I’m so sorry…I shouldn’t have let you keep battling in your condition.”

    “Not your fault, Jim-friend…Me wanted to battle. Me dumb one.”

    “I still shouldn’t have let you go through with it…I hope you can forgive me.”

    In response, Rok planted a big sloppy lick on Jim’s cheek and nuzzled his head against him. Smiling warmly, Jim hugged him around the neck, then held out his Poke Ball.

    “You get a good rest, buddy.”

    Rok vanished into the Poke Ball, and Golurk re-stationed itself in its former place.

    “Well, Iris, for your first Gym Battle, you’re already keeping me on my toes. We’re both down to our last reserves. Drayden would be proud.”

    “Aww, thanks,” said Iris. “You’re really giving me a good fight, too!”

    “Well, then, it’s time to make this count,” said Jim, tossing his ball. “Torrent, let’s take it home!”

    The Simipour appeared on the battlefield, arms crossed, all coolness and complacence.

    “A Simipour? All right, then, let’s go! Fraxure, use Dragon Claw!”

    “Torrent, Brick Break!”

    Both Pokemon lunged at each other, claws and arm glowing. Unfortunately for Fraxure, Torrent’s arm was longer, and so he managed to land the hit first, avoiding contact with the Dragon Claw.

    “Never mind, Fraxure. Use Dragon Pulse!”

    “Use Scald, Torrent!”

    Fraxure sent another blast of bluish fire while Torrent spat a stream of boiling water. The two attacks struck, but the draconic flames overcame the steaming jet of water and blazed over Torrent, who shielded his face with his arms.

    “That’s it, Torrent. Take it like a champ!”

    “You think you’re gonna get out of this easily? Think again! Fraxure, Dragon Dance!”

    Fraxure suddenly stood quite still, closed its eyes, and raised its arms and head. At the same time, it began spinning in place like a top, sparking black electricity and red orbs of light swirling around it.

    “What the heck is going on?” Jim asked, bewildered.

    “Dragon Dance is an ancient practice of Dragon types,” said Iris. “A secret dance of power known only to them, making them stronger and faster.”

    “Stronger and faster? Uh oh…”

    “Now, Fraxure, Dragon Claw!”

    Fraxure launched himself at Torrent at blinding speed, striking another hit on him.

    “Torrent!”

    “Again!”

    Fraxure went in for another hit.

    “Torrent, use Acrobatics! Get out of the way!”

    This time, Torrent managed to somersault out of the way, Fraxure’s attack missing and nearly sending it over the edge as well. Then, all of a sudden, Torrent cupped his paws by his side, and an icy-blue ball formed within it. In the next instant, Torrent fired a bolt of the same color straight down, blasting Fraxure all the way back to its side of the field. Jim’s jaw dropped as Torrent landed back down.

    “Torrent! Was that…Ice Beam??”

    “You got it, Jim-bro!” said Torrent, with a grin. “How do you dig my secret weapon?”

    “Oho, I dig!” said Jim, enthusiastically. “This couldn’t have come at a better time!”

    “Oh, no fair…” groaned Iris, who did not looked pleased. “Does every Water type brought to the Gym have to know an Ice attack?…”

    “Are you ok?” Jim asked.

    “I just…don’t like the cold very much,” said Iris. “Ice types in general don’t sit well with me…”

    “Well, I’m sorry for that,” said Jim, sincerely, “but shouldn’t a Gym Leader be ready to face anything? Even if it’s not in them to just hand a victory over, a Leader should at least be ready to face the odds when they look bad.”

    Iris remained silent for a moment, weighing this in her mind, and then, finally said, with a smile,

    “Yeah! You’re right! A little cold’s not gonna stop me!”

    “Good! Then let’s go!”

    “Fraxure, let’s do it! Dragon Pulse!”

    “Dodge, Torrent, then use Scald!” said Jim.

    Fraxure sent another blast of bluish flames, but Torrent leaped up to avoid it, firing a stream of boiling water from above. Fraxure was struck, but it didn’t just end up soaked. The dragon cringed, as a reddish glow surrounded it, much resembling flames.

    “Fraxure! What happened??” asked Iris.

    “Looks like Scald left a Burn behind,” said Jim. “Now your Pokemon has a pain that’s going to linger. It’s what you get for paralyzing Spade and poisoning Rok!”

    Iris frowned. She didn’t seem to like that this was being amounted to payback for her earlier tactics.

    “All right, then,” she said, in a serious voice, “it’s all or nothing, now. Fraxure, Dragon Dance, and then use Giga Impact!”

    Jim gulped. Another boost of power, plus an already super powered charge attack?…

    “Torrent,” he said to the Simipour, “get an Ice Beam ready. Give it everything you have, and I mean everything. I wish I didn’t have to keep asking this of you guys, but at this point, we have to take a few chances.”

    “Got it, bud,” said Torrent, already geared for what was to come.

    He cupped his paws at his side, brewing another glowing ball of icy energy at his side, which began growing bigger and bigger every second, as Fraxure performed its ancient dragon’s dance once more.

    At last, Fraxure stopped and stood with feet spread apart in a belligerent stance, the red and black light around it blazing into a golden aura. By now, Torrent’s Ice Beam ball had grown to side of Druddigon’s Focus Blast, and the sweat was standing out on his brow.

    “GO!” yelled Iris.

    “FIRE!” yelled Jim.

    Fraxure launched itself at Torrent like a missile, shrouded in golden fire. At the same time, Torrent threw his paws forward, an enormous icy bolt shooting from the sphere of energy, so cold that Jim felt it like a winter blast…

    The beam and the impact struck right in the middle, frozen in midair as the two powers struggled for dominance, moving this way and then the next. Then, slowly but surely, to Jim’s disconcertion, Fraxure began inching closer and closer, cutting off the distance between it and Torrent little by little…

    “Torrent…” Jim muttered in desperation.

    Closer and closer…inch by inch…the pressurization of the Ice Beam being forced back was creating a frigid back draft that made Jim shudder. Torrent’s teeth were clenched in the effort to keep it together.

    Then, all of a sudden, Torrent let out a yell that Jim had never heard him use before, and the Ice Beam seemed to surge forth with added power. The light and coldness intensified, and with a burst, exploded forth in a blast of blinding light, with the sound of a bomb.

    Jim, despite shielding his face, felt his heart thump madly at the thought that Torrent might have toppled in from the recoil, and none of them would be able to see him soon enough to retrieve him…

    The light and smoke died down, and the first thing Jim saw, to his unlimited relief, was that Torrent was still standing, inches from the edge of the battlefield, arms still held forward, panting heavily, dreadlocks disheveled. A long track was scratched across the surface of the field from the sliding impact of a body…Fraxure’s body. The dragon was sprawled out, out cold, so to speak.

    Iris gasped, and Leanne called out, rather jubilantly,

    “Fraxure is unable to battle! Simipour wins, which means the victor is the challenger, Jim Stevens!!”

    He had done it…

    They had done it…

    They’d beaten their final Gym Leader challenge!

    It took several moments for Jim to fully let it sink in, but when it finally struck, he let out a jubilant whoop that echoed throughout the chamber. Torrent, smiling weakly, very nearly tumbled off into the pit, but Jim caught him and dragged him over to their side.

    “Torrent, you did it! We won! We won our final Gym challenge, all thanks to you!”

    “No sweat, bro…” said Torrent, calm even in his state of weakness.

    Jim embraced him with brotherly warmth, reciprocated by the faithful Simipour.

    Iris, meanwhile, had helped Fraxure up, putting her arms around it.

    “You were wonderful, Fraxure. Good job…”

    Golurk, meanwhile, had set Leanne down, who immediately ran to Jim and pounced on him with a wild, ecstatic hug.

    “You did it, Jim! You did it!”

    To add to it, she even planted a kiss on his cheek.

    “Thanks, Leanne,” said Jim, patting her back. “It wasn’t easy, but we made it…”

    Feeling a pressure on his shoulder, he turned to see that June had regained her usual spot. He stroked her head.

    “We made it, girl, and it all started with you. You saw me through to the very last Gym.”

    “And I’ll see you through to the end of the League, and beyond that,” said June, warmly nuzzling his cheek. Iris crossed over.

    “You were unbelievable, Jim!” she said. “I may have lost my first Gym Battle, but that was still awesome! You’re gonna go do great in the League!”

    “Thanks, Iris. You really gave me a touch-and-go battle for your first time. I’m sure Drayden would have been proud to watch.”

    Iris beamed, and then, clearing her throat, she held out her hand and said, in a more official tone,

    “As apprentice Gym Leader of Opelucid City, it’s my honor to present to you, Jim Stevens, the Legend Badge.”

    The badge in her hand was black, bordered with gold with a red spot within it, slightly resembling a medieval mace. Jim picked it up and held it up.

    “And with that, this makes all 8: the Legend Badge!”

    Somewhere, in the back of his head, Jim could swear he heard something like a victory tune playing. Such a momentous occasion did, to him, warrant some kind of fanfare…

    “Well, gang, shall we go see how Cheren’s doing?” he asked, putting the badge away.

    “Yeah, let’s!” said Leanne. “I’ve a feeling we missed a lot of it, though.”

    “If I know Cheren, there’ll still be some fight left between him and Drayden…”

    Y Rotation Team

  12. #27

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 27
    Cheren vs. Drayden

    While that battle was going on, Cheren and Drayden had entered into their own battlefield. It looked very much the same, except Drayden’s had a whole, complete floor, and no bottomless pit. There were, instead, towering dragon statues and the same torches lining the walls. Drayden and Cheren took their spots on the field.

    “Well, Cheren, you’ve come a really long way to get this far, and you may consider this your final test before the League. Do you believe you’re ready?”

    “I know I’m ready, Drayden, sir,” said Cheren, confidently.

    “Good! That’s what I like to hear! Now, we don’t have an official referee, as that was one of Iris’s duties, so I shall have to serve as mediator as well.”

    “I have no problem with that,” said Cheren, adjusting his glasses.

    “Good.”

    Drayden cleared his throat, and said, in a booming voice,

    “Today’s battle between the challenger, Cheren of Nuvema Town, and myself, Opelucid Gym Leader Drayden, shall now begin! This will be a three-on-three battle with no time limit. Only the challenger can make substitutions. Now, let the battle begin!”

    Both drew their first Poke Balls.

    “Gigalith, go!”

    “Zweilous, you’re first!”

    From the Poke Ball’s bursts of light appeared a Gigalith, recently evolved from Cheren’s Boldore, and a quadruped dragon, blue-scaled and covered in a thick coat of black hair or fur over most of its upper body, its necks and heads, except for its fanged mouths. Yes, the plural, because this creature possessed two heads on two long necks. A pair of thin wings covered its back. Cheren brought out his Pokedex.

    “Zweilous, the Hostile Pokemon, and the evolved form of Deino. Zweilous’ heads do not get along, and every meal time is turned into an all-out battle. Because of this, Zweilous always overeats.”

    “A Dark and Dragon type…” muttered Cheren, “then maybe I haven’t chosen wrong. Get ready, Gigalith!”

    Gigalith stomped the field aggressively. Zweilous’ twin heads snarled.

    “Let’s go, then!” said Drayden. “Zweilous, Dragon Rush!”

    Zweilous swept into the air with its thin wings and, surrounding itself in a fiery blue veil that seemed to take on the shape of a dragon’s head, shot for Gigalith.

    “Gigalith, Iron Defense!”

    Gigalith tensed itself, and its entire body became enshrouded in a metallic silver glow. Zweilous bashed against it, moving it only a few inches.

    “Most impressive,” said Drayden.

    “Now, Power Gem!”

    Gigalith opened its mouth and fired a beam of reddish light, blasting Zweilous backwards.

    “Admirable tactics,” said Drayden, “but we have our own tricks up our sleeves. Zweilous, Earth Power!”

    Zweilous reared up and slammed its front feet down hard on the ground, sending a line of geyser-like explosions straight for Gigalith, pausing before blasting him with one huge eruption from beneath. Gigalith cringed from the blow.

    “Hang in there, Gigalith…” said Cheren. “Fight back with Earthquake!”

    Gigalith raised one foot and slammed down on the ground, causing a violent tremor that sent Zweilous up into the air.

    “Zweilous, Dragon Rush from above!”

    Zweilous regained itself, swept its wings, and rocketed for Gigalith, once more cloaked in blue flames.

    “Catch it in midair, Gigalith!” said Cheren. “Power Gem!”

    Gigalith fired another red-colored blast from its mouth, striking Zweilous in midair, but it blasted right on through it, slamming into Gigalith and sending it back once more.

    “That’s one tough Zweilous,” muttered Cheren, “but we’re just as tough!”

    “All right, Zweilous, use Dragon Pulse!”

    Both of Zweilous’ heads breathed streams of bluish-purple flames at Gigalith.

    “Counter it with Flash Cannon!”

    The crystals covering Gigalith’s body surged with red-orange light, and a glowing ball of silver light formed in its mouth, firing into a beam of the same color. The two attacks struck, but this time, Gigalith came out on top, the Flash Cannon blasting through the dragon flames and blasting Zweilous, who flew back and landed heavily on its feet.

    “Keep it together, Zweilous,” said Drayden. “Use Earth Power once again!”

    “Earthquake, Gigalith!”

    Both Pokemon stomped the ground at the same time. However, the geysers from Zweilous’ Earth Power seemed to redirect themselves in the nauseatingly shaky tremors; the Earthquake was disrupting their path. In fact, it swung in an arc right back around and ended up blasting Zweilous from beneath instead.

    “Impossible!” said Drayden.

    “Now’s our chance, Gigalith!” said Cheren. “Flash Cannon!”

    Gigalith fired another silver beam straight for Zweilous, blasting it right in midair. It dropped right to the ground, and did not get back up.

    “Zweilous is unable to battle!” said Drayden. “Gigalith is the winner!”

    He recalled Zweilous.

    “Wonderful, Cheren. You’ve already demonstrated incredible power.”

    “Thank you, sir. Gigalith has been one of the backbones to my team during my travels.”

    Gigalith glanced at its Trainer upon hearing this.

    “Excellent to hear. It certainly shows. However, my dragons and I have been through just as much, and more, over the years. This match is far from over! Druddigon, you’re next!”

    Drayden tossed another Poke Ball, and out came Drayden’s own Druddigon. Cheren brought out his Pokedex.

    “Druddigon, the Cave Pokemon. It charges through narrow caves, catching prey in its sharp claws. It rejuvenates its energy by absorbing sunlight through its wings.”

    “Interesting,” remarked Cheren. “Let’s keep going, then, Gigalith!”

    Gigalith growled and stomped its foot.

    “Get ready, Druddigon,” said Drayden.

    Druddigon growled and bared its claws.

    “Gigalith, start us off with Power Gem!”

    Gigalith fired off another reddish beam of energy from its mouth.

    “Druddigon, dodge and use Superpower!”

    Druddigon spread its rough-edged wings and dashed to one side, the beam blasting past it. Then, raising its arms with a rising roar, its entire body became surrounded by a bluish aura, and its body seemed to bulk up. It then charged at Gigalith, drew its arm back, and socked it right in the face, sending it skidding backwards.

    Cheren grimaced. Superpower was a Fighting-type attack, and Gigalith’s Sturdy Ability only applied to attacks that could take it out in one hit at full health. Still, he couldn’t stop now. He had to press on. He shifted up his glasses and said,

    “Gigalith, fight back with Earthquake!”

    Gigalith raised one foot and slammed it against the ground, rocking the ground and sending Druddigon skyward with the force.

    “Druddigon, use your vantage point to attack with Draco Meteor!”

    Druddigon twisted itself around so that it was looming over Gigalith, then opened its mouth wide, a red-golden orb of light forming within it. With a bang like a cannon shot, the orb fired from its mouth, and as it traveled down, suddenly burst like a firework into countless streams of miniature missiles which curved like the bars of a cage and all converged on one point: Gigalith.

    There was a reverberating explosion as Gigalith was thrown off its feet and onto its side, with a fall that shook the ground like another Earthquake. It did not get back up.

    “Gigalith is unable to battle!” said Drayden. “Druddigon wins!”

    Cheren, amazed at what he had just witnessed, recalled Gigalith.

    “Good work,” he said. “Get a good rest.”

    He pulled out his second Poke Ball.

    “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to resort to this, but it looks like I have little choice. Beartic, you’re next!”

    A Beartic, much like Brycen’s own, appeared on the battlefield. Drayden raised an eyebrow.

    “Going for super-effectiveness, are we?” he asked.

    “Type effectiveness doesn’t make a Pokemon the best on a team, Drayden,” said Cheren, “but it still makes it a force to be reckoned with.”

    Beartic cracked its knuckles.

    “Very well said,” said Drayden. “Let us get to it, then!”

    “Gladly. Beartic, Ice Punch!”

    “Druddigon, Superpower!”

    Beartic lunged forward, its fist glowing with a frosty light, while Druddigon charged for Beartic, its body glowing blue. As Druddigon struck Beartic, Beartic swung its fist, slamming the Cave Pokemon right in the jaw. As Druddigon regained itself, it looked like it was already wearing down.

    “Of course,” muttered Cheren, “Superpower packs a ferocious punch, but it also drains a Pokemon’s fighting force…We may have a chance.”

    “I wouldn’t get too many ideas,” warned Drayden. “Yes, Superpower and Draco Meteor drain a Pokemon’s power, but that’s what the ‘dragon’s provision’ is for. Druddigon, Dragon Dance!”

    Druddigon closed its eyes, relaxed its body, spread its wings, and began spinning in place, a smoky red and black aura surrounding it, supplemented by red orbs. When it finished, it let out a roar, the aura dissipating in a kind of shockwave. It didn’t look tired anymore…

    “Smart move,” said Cheren, “but we’re far from finished as well! Beartic, Brine!”

    Beartic spat a wild stream of water from its fanged mouth.

    “Dodge, Druddigon, and use Dragon Tail!”

    Druddigon leaped into the air upwards and forwards, the Brine soaring beneath it, and then somersaulted, swinging its tail, which had began to glow blue, and smacked Beartic on the back of the head with it, sending it flat onto its face.

    “Come on, Beartic, hang in there…” urged Cheren.

    Beartic struggled back onto its feet.

    “That’s the spirit!”

    “Your Pokemon are resilient, but that shall soon come to an end,” said Drayden. “Druddigon, Dragon Tail, once more!”

    Druddigon launched itself once again, tail glowing.

    “Dodge it, Beartic, and use Ice Punch!”

    Beartic swerved out of the way as Druddigon swung its tail, narrowly missing, and then slammed its frosty fist into Druddigon’s face, sending it flying backwards, where it landed heavily. It shakily got back to its feet, growling.

    “Yes, that’s the way!” said Drayden. “Keep that fighting spirit blazing, Cheren! That’s what I love to see! Druddigon, end this! Draco Meteor!”

    Druddigon sprang up into the air, a golden-red orb forming between its jaws once more.

    “Beartic, counter with Ice Beam!”

    Beartic reared up, an icy-blue ball forming between its own jaws. The two Pokemon fired their attacks, the Ice Beam striking the Draco Meteor before it could split off. It blasted through it, en route for Druddigon, but unfortunately, this action split the meteor into several firework-like streams nonetheless, which rocketed toward Beartic. Both sides were struck in explosion-generating blasts, and when the smoke cleared, both Druddigon and Beartic were sprawled out on the battlefield, out cold.

    “Both Druddigon and Beartic are unable to battle! This round is a draw!” announced Drayden.

    “Shame,” said Cheren, as he recalled Beartic. “I was counting on you to see me through a little further in this battle.”

    “Good work, Druddigon,” said Drayden, recalling Druddigon. “Get a good rest.” He then said, aloud to Cheren, “Well, Cheren, we’ve both reached our final combatants. Let’s hope you brought your best for this final round.”

    “I always do!” said Cheren, drawing his last Poke Ball. “Emboar, see me through to victory!”

    In a burst of light, the enormous Emboar appeared, fiery beard blazing brightly.

    “Ah, an Emboar. A true powerhouse. And now I shall reveal mine…”

    Drayden drew his final Poke Ball.

    “Haxorus, go!”

    From the Poke Ball came a towering, intimidating draconic Pokemon, covered in greenish-yellow armor with black on portions of its underside. Two tusks, shaped like axe blades, protruded from its mouth. Cheren brought his Pokedex.

    “Haxorus, the Axe Jaw Pokemon, and the evolved form of Fraxure. Despite being relentless in guarding its territory, Haxorus possesses a kind nature. Its tusks have the power to slice through steel beams without losing any of their sharpness.”

    “Two titans duking it out in a final confrontation,” said Cheren. “A perfect climax!”

    “I couldn’t agree more. Let us begin! Haxorus, Earthquake!”

    Haxorus raised its heavy tail and slammed it against the ground, creating a violent tremor throughout the arena, just as it had when Gigalith had done it. Emboar gritted its teeth and stood his ground, though he was jostled unpleasantly.

    “Hang in there, Emboar,” encouraged Cheren. “Use Head Smash!”

    Emboar scraped at the ground with his foot, like a bull about to charge, and indeed did charge, a whitish light surrounding his head like a shield. He bashed right into Haxorus, knocking it back and making the claws on its foot scrape against the stone of the battlefield.

    “So, that’s what you throw against us, is it?” asked Drayden. “Splendid. Haxorus, Outrage!”

    Cheren felt an involuntary tremor go through his frame. Outrage was one of the most devastating Dragon attacks, next to Draco Meteor, all the more dangerous because it left the user confused after it had ceased.

    Haxorus snarled, a red aura surrounding its body, and even its eyes glowing red. With a roar, it pounced at Emboar, claws bared, and began striking at him with a fury and vigor horrible to behold, like a wild beast in the jungle attacking its prey. Emboar was struck left and right, holding his bulky arms up to try and stave off the onslaught.

    “Emboar!” yelled Cheren. “Fight back! Use Hammer Arm!”

    Emboar had Haxorus in a furious stalemate, claws locked and pushing at each other back and forth for dominance. At last, however, Emboar managed to through Haxorus off, raised one of its arms, which began to glow a fiery white, and slammed it full force on Haxorus’ skull, knocking it for a loop. Emboar took a second swing to knock it away again. Haxorus swayed on the spot, dazed, but shook its head vigorously to clear its senses.

    “Most impressive,” said Drayden. “Your Emboar possesses exceptional strength. Keep it going! Haxorus, Earthquake, once again!”

    “Jump, Emboar, and use Flamethrower from above!”

    Haxorus once again slammed its tail against the ground, but Emboar leaped up into the air, avoiding the attack. From there, he snorted a wild stream of flames from his snout down at Haxorus, who growled and shielded itself with its arm against the onslaught.

    “Now go in for another Hammer Arm!” commanded Cheren.

    “Dodge it, and use Dragon Claw!”

    Emboar dived toward Haxorus, arm glowing once again, but Haxorus sidestepped, causing the blow to miss, and struck at Emboar with its glowing-blue claws, tossing it back across the field. Emboar re-steadied itself, but it looked worn out, tired. It was panting heavily, and its body was scuffed here and there.

    (Emboar’s losing steam. Chances are Drayden’s going to pull one super-powerful finishing move. If he does, then I’ll have to go all out…)

    “This battle has gone on long enough,” said Drayden, “and it’s time to see the final result of this clash of the titans. Haxorus, prepare for Giga Impact!”

    (And there it is…)

    Haxorus crouched, body tensed and ready, and a white fire began to surround it.

    “Emboar, you’re gonna have to give it everything you’ve got here,” said Cheren. “Time to break out Wild Charge!”

    Emboar nodded, stomped the ground, and tensed himself as well. An electric aura began to surround his hulking frame…

    Both Pokemon launched themselves at each other at the same time, Haxorus rocketing forward like a flaming missile, Emboar dashing forward shrouded in lightning. Neither Trainer nor Gym Leader kept their eyes from what was about to happen…

    There was a tremendous explosion that rocked the entire arena, the fire of the Giga Impact and the lightning of the Wild Charge culminating in a blinding flash that left both Cheren and Drayden unable to see. There was, also, a deep cracking noise, as if the stone floor had actually split from the impact.

    It took a while for both to finally adjust their eyes, and what they saw when they did left them silent with anticipation.

    Emboar and Haxorus had stopped with their heads pressed together, glaring into each others’ eyes, both looking very battered. Neither of them moved. Neither of them even appeared to be breathing. They were as still as statues, as if the scene were a recreation of the climax of some terrific war.

    Then, all of a sudden, Emboar finally managed to back up, and Haxorus, without the support, toppled forward and crashed to the ground. Cheren clapped a hand to his mouth, and even Drayden looked stunned, but at last, he boomed,

    “Haxorus is unable to battle! The winner is Emboar, and the victor of this match is the challenger, Cheren!”

    Cheren’s dumbstruck face slowly altered into a look of wild joy, and he let out a jubilant laugh as he threw his fist skyward. He rushed over to Emboar, helping the faltering Mega Fire Pig to stay on his feet.

    “Well done, Emboar! You did it! You won us our final badge! I’m proud of you, partner.”

    Emboar weakly smiled and put a half-supportive, half-brotherly arm around Cheren. Drayden, meanwhile, recalled Haxorus.

    “Well done, old friend,” he muttered. “You put up a magnificent fight.”

    He then crossed over to Cheren.

    “Well, Cheren, you told me you would bring your best, and I was not disappointed. If you continue to battle like this, the League is going to have a new Trainer to watch out for. Well done.”

    “Thank you, sir. I’m honored to have had the chance to battle you,” said Cheren.

    Drayden held out his hand, a badge in his hand, resembling a black and gold medieval mace.

    “As the official Gym Leader of Opelucid City, it is my honor, duty, and pleasure to confer onto you the Legend Badge!”

    With a trembling hand, Cheren accepted it, holding it up to look at it.

    “Finally…” he muttered. “I’ve made it. I’m league-bound! Watch out, Alder, here I come!”

    Emboar gave an affirmative grunt, a shower of sparks snorted from its snout.

    “Well, Cheren, shall we see how Jim and Iris have fared?” asked Drayden.

    “Let’s!”

    Cheren recalled Emboar, and the two stepped out of the battle-scuffed arena, Cheren’s heart swelling and his mind afire with wild hopes.

    Y Rotation Team

  13. #28

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 28
    Enter Paradise

    By an extraordinary chance, both Trainers met each other in the lobby at roughly the same time,

    “Jim!”

    “Cheren!”

    “How did you do?”

    “Great! We won! See?”

    Jim held up his newly-acquired badge.

    “Excellent! So did we!”

    And Cheren held up his own badge.

    “Awesome! We’re league-bound, pal!”

    “My thoughts exactly, old friend!”

    And the two exchanged a hearty handshake. Drayden and Iris approached each other.

    “I’m not sure how the battle went, since I wasn’t present,” said Drayden, “but I’m quite sure you performed splendidly, my girl.”

    “Thank you, sir,” said Iris, humbly.

    “And now, gentlemen,” said Drayden, turning to Jim and Cheren, “as you might know, the League will commence at the opening of spring, so I hope you have plans for where to spend the winter. It’s a long way back to Nuvema Town from here, and the winter frosts are already approaching.”

    Iris shivered and wrapped her arms around herself.

    “I hate the cold,” she said.

    “I’m not a fan of it, either,” said Leanne.

    “Well,” said Jim, “Alder told Leanne and me that Undella Town might offer a good wintering locale.”

    “Alder? You’ve met the Champion himself?” asked Drayden, in reverent interest.

    “He helped us in securing the Light Stone,” answered Jim.

    “Astounding…Well, then, yes, I would trust to the Champion’s judgment. He is a man of the world, and knows his way around. With that said, I wish all three of you the best of luck, and hope to hear of how you do in the League.”

    “Good luck, you guys!” said Iris, in a chipper voice.

    “Thanks, both of you,” said Jim. “Take care.”

    And the three Trainers exited the Gym, the doors closing with a satisfying finality behind them.

    “We did it, Jim,” said Cheren, in a satisfied tone. “As of now, the League has two new Trainers to worry about!”

    “I couldn’t agree more, Cheren,” said Jim. “What do you say we see if Professor Cedric can help us beat the freeze, after we heal up?”

    “Good idea,” said Cheren. “We might as well tell Professor Juniper about our accomplishment as well.”

    “She’ll flip when she hears,” said Jim, with a laugh.

    “That’s an understatement,” said Cheren, laughing in turn.

    It can be said, despite this joviality, that Leanne was the happiest among the three of them, as it warmed her heart to see these two laughing freely with each other, just like the old times that must have been before that dramatic day outside Nacrene City…

    “8 badges?? You and Cheren both?? That’s unbelievable news!”

    It was indeed an understatement that Professor Juniper would ‘flip’ when she heard the news. She looked absolutely thrilled, and Jim could even see Echo flapping behind her, his bat face aglow with joy.

    “You two have come such a long way,” the professor went on. “Your parents will be so proud when they hear. I know I certainly am.”

    “Thanks, Professor,” said Jim, “but it’s all thanks to my team that I even got this far. Speaking of which, as soon as Rok is healed up, I’m going to send him back for Echo.”

    “All right. Did you get to see his secret weapon?”

    “I sure did. I had no idea he’d learned Dragon Pulse!”

    “You can imagine my surprise when he first used it here…in the lab…” she added, regretfully.

    “Oh. Oops.”

    “Well, no one said looking after a prehistoric Pokemon would be a bed of roses. If he helped you win, though, he must be coming along great.”

    “He really is, Professor. Anyway, we’re planning to beat the winter by spending it in Undella Town.”

    “Undella Town! Wonderful idea! It’s gorgeous there, and there isn’t usually that much activity outside of summer. You should enjoy some peace and quiet there before the League.”

    “Exactly what we want,” said Jim. “Well, we’ll talk to you again later, Professor. Give our best to the folks!”

    “You bet, Jim! Take care, both of you!”

    “Bye, Professor!” said Cheren.

    The X-Transceiver feed winked out, just as the Pokemon Center intercom rang. Jim and Cheren retrieved their Pokemon, and Jim carried out the exchange of Rok for Echo. Then, he called forth all of his Pokemon for Cheren to see. He seemed particularly impressed to see Spade an evolved Excadrill.

    “Well, guys,” said Jim, “we did it. We’ve gotten past the 8th Gym, and we’re set to take on the League in the spring!”

    Jim’s team gave a clamorous cheer, exchanging high-fives and hugs all around.

    “I want to thank all of you,” said Jim, his voice growing husky. “I know we’re not at the League yet, but you guys made it all possible for us to get this far…You’re more than my Pokemon, you’re more than my team…You’re even more than my friends…You’re my family.”

    The six Pokemon seemed struck by these warm-hearted words. Of course, they had known that they were part of Jim’s Pokemon team, but to be directly called part of his family? Cheren and Leanne looked at Jim in awe.

    “I mean every last word,” said Jim. “The 7 of us, Jolt, Rok, even Croco…we’re all in this together, and I love each and every one of you.”

    The more sentimental Pokemon (Echo and Missy) grew teary-eyed when they heard this, while those of stronger natures (June, Spade, and the Simi Brothers) merely smiled.

    “We love you too, Jim,” June finally said. “Through all of our trials and tribulations, you’ve stood by us and never gave up on us…We owe as much to you as you owe us…I think I speak for all of us when I say we too see you as family…”

    “Aw, you guys…” said Jim, the huskiness in his voice becoming more pronounced.

    “Group hug!” cried Missy.

    Without further preamble, Jim was tackled into a sitting position by Missy, and the rest of his team swarmed him in a warm group hug, much like the one that comforted him after the disastrous argument with Cheren in Nimbasa City, with the exception that Spade was where Croco had been. Jim was able to worm his arms free to envelop the group in an embrace of his own.

    Her eyes moist with tears, Leanne cradled Oshawott to her chest, Jim’s words having revived the thought of her closeness with the little Water-type. Oshawott, stoic but not above affection, warmly nuzzled his mistress. Cheren, for his part, watched the whole scene with a smile on his face. While seeing Jim’s treatment of his team made him regret even more the coarse way he had once thought of him, it also gave him a feeling of pride for his old friend. Even in his youth, Jim had been a boy of a big heart, and this display of familiar love for his Pokemon was a true display of that trait, one of those he’d always admired in him.

    When the group finally broke up, Jim stood up and said,

    “Until it’s time for the League, we’re all going to Undella Town to spend the winter.”

    “Radical!” said Torrent. “Sun, surf, and sand! Just the way I like it!”

    “Ah! Speaking you two,” said Jim, looking at Torch and Torrent, “a little while ago, we had the distinct honor of seeing the Champion, Alder.”

    The group of Pokemon gasped. Those who hadn’t been present looked to June for verification, since they knew she was always at Jim’s side.

    “It’s true,” she said.

    “I told him about the act you guys have been trying to revive,” Jim went on, “and do you know what he said?”

    Torch and Torrent looked at each other, unsure where Jim was going with this.

    “He said he would be honored if you two and Lilligant could perform for the opening ceremony at the League.”

    The two Pokemon’s eyes popped wide open, utter shock and bewilderment on their faces. They looked as if they did not believe they had heard what they had just been told.

    “What do you think?” asked Jim. “Now you guys can pay your tribute to Meloetta, just like you wanted.”

    “Jim…that…I don’t even…the League…” stammered Torch.

    Then, with a swooning sigh, he collapsed onto his back and fainted. Torrent, though he was of a sturdier nature, followed suit without a word.

    “I think they’re excited,” said Leanne, while Cheren stared in utter bemusement.

    ***


    Professor Cedric was very pleased to hear of the results of the boys’ Gym battles, and was also more than happy to ferry them to Undella Bay. He thought the idea of wintering there brilliant, and praised the ingenuity of Alder for coming up with it. He, himself, had other plans, but would drop them off there, see that they got situated, then be on his way again. Therefore, later that day, the three teens once again piled into the little plane, and they took off from Opelucid, flying eastwards towards Undella Bay, a trip that would take at least 5 hours, by Professor Cedric’s reckoning.

    This time, the ride was much more relaxed than the previous flights, and the three chatted freely about this and that. Now that they were on good terms once more, Jim and Cheren compared each others’ journeys up to that point, marveling at Jim’s accounts of his misadventures with Team Plasma, the way he had befriended and built up his team, and how he conducted his Gym battles. Some of the things he seemed most impressed with were acquiring Rok, fighting the Scolipede in Pinwheel Forest, his performance in the Nimbasa Battle Tournament, how maturely he had handled trading Croco for Spade, his encounters with Team Plasma, and of course, the way he handled his Gym battles.

    As for Cheren, before he had encountered Alder, he had made it his goal to train his Pokemon to be the most unstoppable fighting forces he could rear. This wasn’t to say that he had been a hard master; he cared about his team greatly, but he admitted that he had let his drive to become the next Champion cloud his better judgment. Still, his descriptions of his harrowing Gym Battles filled Jim and Leanne with amazement, as they carried a combination of brute force and tactical thinking. He also had not seen Bianca since Nimbasa City, which Jim explained for him, since she had gone back toward Nuvema Town on request of Professor Juniper. Cheren, too, was puzzled why she had been asked for such an errand, but never knew the professor to give a request without a good reason. He hoped they’d be able to meet up again sometime before the League.

    Evening was falling when the plane finally touched down on a long strip of sandy beach. They had finally arrived in Undella Town, a small but lovely tropical town, at the easternmost end of Unova. It overlooked a picturesque bay said to hold ancient ruins in its depths, so deep-sea divers often haunted Undella Town in the hopes of uncovering new treasures or artifacts in these ruins. As Jim and the others had hoped, despite the oncoming winter, the weather wasn’t hot, nor was it cold, but possessed a pleasant coolness in between. The little beach town was dotted with beautiful villas and small houses overlooking the seaside. Jim had even heard rumors that Undella Town was going to be the starting point of an ambitious future project to create an underwater passageway to the very northeast of Unova. Jim had never heard of what was up there, but thought the idea was pretty neat.

    The group exited the plane, glad to finally have a chance to stretch their legs and step out into Undella Town.

    “I’ll see that you kids are situated,” said Cedric, “before heading off.”

    “Where do we go, though?” asked Leanne. “Is there someone we talk to?”

    Before anyone could offer an answer, someone ran up to them from across the way: a tanned man in a Hawaiian shirt and swim trunks.

    “Excuse me,” he said. “Are you Jim Stevens, Leanne, and Cheren?”

    The three looked at each other in astonishment.

    “Yes, sir,” said Cheren. “How do you know?”

    “I’m the mayor of Undella Town,” said the man. “We received a visit from the Champion himself not too long ago, and he asked me to be on the lookout for three young Trainers who would be spending the winter in our little town. He has asked to me inform you that your stay has been generously paid for by none other than himself.”

    Jim’s jaw dropped. Leanne put a hand to her mouth, and Cheren wiped his glasses on his shirt.

    “He…he did?” asked Jim.

    “Quite a surprise to me, as well,” said the mayor. “You must be well acquainted with him.”

    “We have met, yes,” said Jim, “but I never expected him to do something like this. We’ll have to thank him when the time comes.”

    “In the meantime,” said the mayor, “let me be the first to welcome you to Undella Town. The villa reserved for the three of you is that one over there.”

    He pointed to an attractive beachside villa, two stories, sitting in a grove of palm trees.

    “3 bedrooms, two bath, all the fixings already prepared. If you find yourself needing anything, we have a few stores in the urban part of the town. Incidentally,” he added, “you’ve come at a wonderful time. We’re hosting our annual winter festival over the Christmas week. You don’t want to miss that.”

    “We certainly won’t,” said Jim. “Thank you very much.”

    “My pleasure,” said the mayor. “Here is the key to the villa. Do enjoy your stay during its duration.”

    He handed Jim a key, shook hands with all three of them, and then departed.

    Jim turned to his friends, who all looked mystified.

    “…Well,” Cheren finally said, “this is a most welcome surprise.”

    “Yeah!” said Leanne. “That was really nice of Alder to pay for a whole villa for us!”

    “Well, who are we to look gift horses in the mouth?” asked Jim. “Let’s check out the villa!”

    ***


    The villa, from the inside, was like paradise. Comfortable, cool, decorative, it had everything they needed. The rooms were clean, the hard floors slick and shiny, the carpeted floors freshly vacuumed. There was a patio in the back with a pool attached, and a balcony on the second floor. There was a large living room, a kitchen, a dining room, the three bedrooms, and the two bathrooms.

    It was perfect.

    Cedric gave a low whistle.

    “Well, kids, you’re going to be more than well provided here,” he said.

    “I can hardly believe it myself, sir,” said Cheren. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to stay? Someone as busy as you must need a rest.”

    “As much fun as that sounds, my dear boy,” said Cedric, “I’m afraid someone as busy as me doesn’t have time to rest. I’m going to take a stopover in Nuvema Town, though, and see how that girl of mine is faring. It’s been months since I saw her last. You three take care of yourselves, all right? I want to hear good things about you when the League comes around.”

    “We’ll make you proud, sir!” said Jim, and he and Cheren both heartily shook Professor Cedric’s hands. Leanne shook his as well, but not with so much energy.

    “It was great to meet you, Professor,” said Leanne.

    “And it was an equal pleasure of mine, Miss Summers,” said Cedric. “Well, I’ll be off then. See you again, kids!”

    With a merry wave, Cedric made his way down the beach and back to the plane. With a loud, sputtering rumble, the plane rolled off down the beach and took off into the sky westwards. Just like that, he was gone.

    “I’m sorry to see him go,” said Jim. “He’s a lot of fun.”

    “Assuredly,” said Cheren.

    “Well, boys,” said Leanne, clapping her hands together, “we’ve got the whole winter before us, and a beach villa to spend it in! What do we do first?”

    “Dinner and bed, I’d reckon,” said Jim, letting loose a loud yawn. “I’m exhausted…”

    “Let’s make a meal out of our provisions at hand,” said Cheren. “We can walk down to the city part of Undella and purchase some groceries tomorrow.”

    “Good idea,” said Jim.

    And the three went back inside the villa, shutting the door behind them. Their winter break had begun.

    Y Rotation Team

  14. #29

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 29
    Unexpected Company


    How can those long weeks in Undella be described?

    Jim had never felt so relaxed in all his life. Ever since he left home, he had been continuously wandering, hardly ever stopping to stay in one place. Now that there was nowhere else he needed to go until it was time for the League to begin, he had the chance to finally kick off his shoes. There were no battles to have, no cities to travel to, no badges to seek: just complete and utter rest and relaxation. He could almost hear his feet crying with joy when he first let them dip into the cool waters of the villa pool.

    The warmer weather and nicer climate also finally gave him the chance to change his wardrobe. Nowadays, he could be seen around the villa or on the beach in a T-Shirt and shorts, his jacket and pants packed away. He also invariably wore his hat still, whenever the weather suited him.

    What satisfied him, moreover, was seeing his friends unwinding. Cheren had always been stuffy and a little uptight, but even he couldn’t stay buttoned up in such a tropical paradise. He finally hung up that snappy jacket and tie and reverted to a beach ensemble much like Jim’s. He looked rather embarrassed to be in clothes outside his usual element, but he and Jim had a good laugh over it.

    As for Leanne, she had always been dressed a little more casually than the boys, but that didn’t stop her from changing her wardrobe as well. She reverted to a T-Shirt, one that was a bit looser on her pudgy frame, and a pair of shorts, like her male friends, but often spent the day in a green one-piece swimsuit. It took an effort for Jim not to stare at her when she was wearing this; not because her round figure was more pronounced, but because she also let her hair down, and he had to admit that she looked…even more attractive when her hair was out of its ponytail.

    If the humans were relaxed, it was nothing on how their Pokemon felt. With no battles to tire them out, they enjoyed complete and utter bliss, as Jim and Leanne let all of theirs out of their Poke Balls. Cheren did, invariably, let out his team, but not often, since his whole team was composed of larger, fully-evolved Pokemon that would have made the villa cramped, and then, only to train, so Jim only caught fleeting glimpses of his team: Emboar, Gigalith, and Beartic were all he saw at any given time.

    June and Oshawott spent most of their time together, and Jim rarely saw her for most of the day for a good majority of their vacation, mostly seeing her at mealtimes or if she should chance to relax at the beach or the pool. Then, she would curl up on his lap or chest, and he would stroke her smooth, scaly back. Jim didn’t feel hurt by her absence, however. On the contrary, he was glad she was able to spend some real quality time with her lover. She seemed…happier, more free with herself, more apt to laughing. Oshawott was still his usual charismatic self, but now he had someone almost as jovial as himself.

    Echo, too, was scarce much of the time. He would spend his time either sleeping in the trees or flying around with Tranquill. Ever since that battle with Skyla, the two had grown very close, and sometimes would merely sit together, nestled side by side, looking out at the sea, and at the aquatic Pokemon that would often breach its surface. It made Jim smile to see his Courting Pokemon courting his own mate, as it appeared. Tranquill, too, showed signs of complete contentment whenever she was with her goofy companion.

    Missy was one of the Pokemon Jim couldn’t seem to be away from for long. Wherever he was resting and she was nearby, she would snuggle up next to him or on his lap, looking very cozy. He didn’t mind. In fact, he felt as though he had been neglecting her lately, with the others being the more frequent battlers. Therefore, he spent much of the time she was with him idly petting her, giving her belly rubs, occasionally feeding her a bit of fruit or her Pokemon chow. Leanne, too, would show her every care and devotion, and spent long whiles brushing her soft, short fur.

    Torch and Torrent spent much of their time down at the beach with Lilligant. Sometimes, Jim noticed, they would play around at the edge of the water, laughing, more than they probably had in ages ever since the accident. Other times, they seemed to be going through deliberate dance steps and different tricks with their attacks, Torrent directing them. He could only guess that they were trying to make sure everything went perfectly when they performed for the opening ceremony. Still, it made his heart swell to see Torch no longer meek and timid, but beaming and jovial. Lilligant, too, looked very happy and was quite chatty with them. Torrent was his usual calm, complacent self, but Jim knew deep down, he was the happiest of all of them.

    Spade also spent a lot of his time down at the beach. He would spend hours at a stretch digging long tunnels, slowly and deliberately, with his broad claws, or making sand sculptures. Jim was surprised at how talented he was at this sand art. Within a week’s deliberate sand-packing, he made scale models of Jim’s whole team, including Rok and Jolt, which must have taken ages, given how they were the tallest members of the crew. His attention to detail was also astonishing; he got everyone’s facial features exactly right, something that couldn’t have been easy with such big claws. He even made Missy’s little bow around her neck. Cheren was the most interested in his work, and although he couldn’t talk with him on the same level as Jim could, he would sit and watch Spade work, the Excadrill appreciating the company.

    Ever since the skirmish in Chargestone Cave, Zorua and Larvesta seemed to have grown fond of each other. Both were roughly the same age, Zorua just a cub while Larvesta was barely a hatchling, and so would spend a lot of their time together. Zorua would amuse Larvesta by transforming into the others, while Larvesta continually worked to try and get some of his moves down. He already knew Flame Wheel, but also demonstrated having learned Bug Buzz recently, something the gang found out in an unpleasant surprise, when he displayed it one night at dinner, rattling their dishes and silverware nearly to the point of shattering. Still, no one could fault the little guy for progressing, and Leanne was especially proud.

    Whenever the quiet of the beach got to them, the three of them would take a walk down to the more urbanized part of Undella Town, taking a walk down its main street and browsing past the shop windows. In these walks, they found out more about the upcoming festival during the Christmas week. It was to feature a swap meet, live battles, Musical demonstrations, and much more. Most prominent of all was the chance to meet Trainers outside of Unova. It definitely sounded like something Jim would like to see.

    It was mid-November when the gang came to Undella Town, and it was mid-December, one week before the Christmas festival, when something truly wonderful happened.

    Jim was at the beach, stretched out on a lawn chair, wearing sunglasses. June was curled up on his lap, her tail splayed out to catch the sun’s rays on her tail leaf. Leanne was reading in a chair next to him, Oshawott scribbling something on a piece of paper. More poetry, most likely.

    Suddenly, a shadow fell over Jim, and June shifted restlessly, the presence of the sun absent from her. Jim looked up. He couldn’t see who was in the way, but it looked like a medium-sized Pokemon.

    “Can I help you?” he asked, drowsily.

    He lifted his sunglasses, and found himself looking up at a Dewott, who was looking at him intently and silently.

    Leanne set her book down to look curiously at the Dewott, Oshawott looking at it with faint dislike.

    “What does he want?” Leanne asked Jim.

    “I don’t know,” said Jim, puzzled. “I don’t know any Dewott, do I?”

    “If he’s expecting a handout,” said Oshawott, grumpily, “I wouldn’t be surprised. Some Pokemon can be such unscrupulous beggars.”

    The Dewott didn’t say a word. Finally, June, in irritation, woke up to see who was blocking their sun. As she did so, she caught its eye, and she gave a slight gasp.

    “What is it, June?” asked Jim.

    “Do you know this intruder, darling?” asked Oshawott.

    “…I think I do,” she said, “but it’s impossible…You’re Bianca’s Dewott, aren’t you?”

    The Dewott, with a slight smile, put a paw to its chest and bowed its head in a noble way. Jim was very much confused, and so was Oshawott.

    “Bianca’s? But then, what are you doing all the way out here?”

    “That’s Bianca’s Dewott?” asked Leanne, equally surprised. “But that doesn’t make any sense! If he’s here, where’s his Trainer?”

    There came a giggle from just behind Jim, a giggle Jim recognized. He turned in his seat, and there, beaming like the sun, was-

    “Bianca!!”

    So it was! Bianca herself! But somehow, she looked…different. Gone were the white shirt and orange stockings, or even the blouse she usually wore. She was now wearing green pants that were rolled up a little below the knee, sort of like Leanne's jeans, and was wearing a white tank top over a black shirt, with a small, open orange jacket over that. Her hair was more neatly arranged under her beret, and…she was wearing glasses. She looked…older, more mature, and Jim had to admit he’d be lying if he said the look wasn’t cute for her.

    Jim sprang to his feet, and the two threw their arms around each other warmly.

    “Fancy seeing you turn up like this!” said Jim, laughing. “I’ve missed you, Bianca.”

    “I’ve really missed you too, Jim!” said Bianca. “You’ve no idea how much I worried about what you might be up to.”

    “What’s been going on?” asked Jim, holing her before him at arm‘s length. “You look…different.”

    Bianca smiled, a faint blush to her cheeks. She turned to Leanne.

    “Hi, Leanne!”

    “Hello, Bianca!” said Leanne, getting up and grasping her hands. “It’s great to see you again! What have you been up to?”

    Before Bianca could answer, a voice from behind startled them.

    “Great Scott! Bianca, is that you??”

    “Cheren!”

    Bianca rushed at Cheren, nearly knocking him off his feet as she hugged him. He smiled and hugged her in return.

    “Is…is everything ok now?” asked Bianca, looking up at him in a worried way.

    “Hmm? Oh! That. Yes, Jim and I have long patched things up.”

    A look of relief flooded Bianca’s face, and tears stood out in her eyes.

    “I’m sorry you had to endure it,” said Cheren, regretfully. “It wasn’t fair to you to have to be in the middle of it all.”

    “We’re both sorry,” said Jim, crossing over. “Can you forgive us?”

    “Forgive you?” asked Bianca, in light astonishment. “I was never mad at either of you to begin with! I knew one day that you’d stop being such big goofs and work things out!”

    “Aw, Bianca,” said Jim, glad to see she was still her old self despite her new attire.

    “So what’s been new with you?” asked Cheren. “Jim told me you went back home from Nimbasa, but what happened afterwards? I’ll hazard a guess it has something to do with your new look. It suits you well.”

    “I think so too,” said Jim.

    “Oh, that!” said Bianca, blushing from the compliment. “Well, it took me a little while to get back to Nuvema Town, but Professor Juniper was happy to see me, especially with that package.”

    “What was in it?” Jim asked.

    “The professor said it was a special kind of Poke Ball,” said Bianca, “but she told me she was more pleased with the fact that I was able to bring it to her in one piece. She said it showed just how trustworthy I could be, and…” She paused, seeming to be on the threshold of a big revelation. “She invited me to become her lab assistant!”

    Jim and Cheren stared.

    “What?” Jim finally blurted. “Her assistant? Bianca, that’s incredible!”

    “I know!” said Bianca. “I had no idea she’d even considered me as a candidate, but she said it was because of my interest in seeing all the Pokemon I could. She told me I was perfect for helping her with field work.”

    “And she’s been making wonderful progress ever since.”

    Jim and Cheren stiffened. There was another familiar voice.

    Professor Aurea Juniper had come up from behind them, and was smiling down at them.

    “Professor!” said both boys at once.

    She put both arms around the two of them, clasping them to her sides with aunt-like affection.

    “Good to see you two again,” she said. “X-Transceiver conversations just aren’t the same after a while. You two have really made me proud in how far you’ve gotten. I can’t remember seeing any Trainer get all 8 badges in such a short span of time.”

    Jim and Cheren grinned. Professor Juniper turned to Leanne.

    “And you must be Leanne, Jim’s friend.”

    “Yes, ma’am,” said Leanne, shaking her hand. “It’s good to finally meet you in person. Jim’s said so much about you.”

    “And he’s said much about you,” said Juniper, smiling. “He tells me you’re quite the Trainer yourself.”

    Leanne flushed in pleased embarrassment.

    “How are things back home?” asked Jim.

    “Pretty quiet, actually,” said the professor. “Without you boys around, it’s almost too quiet. When you told me you were wintering in Undella Town, I knew I had to get away from Nuvema Town and join the fun. Lucky I didn’t go right away, or I would have missed Papa dropping by to visit.”

    “Oh, good, so he did make it,” said Cheren. “He’s an excellent pilot, but I worried he’d be a little more reckless without us to worry about.”

    Juniper laughed lightly. “Yes, he’s a little bit of a handful. I keep warning him not to go putting himself in peril at his age, but the old Backpacker spirit is still strong in him. Well, he told us you’d gotten a suite as a gift from the champion! How did you manage that?”

    Jim and Cheren both launched into the story of N inheriting Zekrom, meeting Alder at Relic Castle, the narrow escape from the Cofagrigus and Sigilyph, meeting Team Plasma, and Jim acquiring the Light Stone. Professor Juniper listened to it all with rapt attention, one hand to her chin in contemplative thought.

    “…Fascinating,” she said, when they had concluded. “Absolutely fascinating. I knew there was something more to you, Jim. So it wasn’t just chance that sent Reshiram to your aid.”

    “No, ma’am,” said Jim. “I can see that now. All I want right now, however, is to be able to relax like a normal Trainer and not some prophesized hero.”

    Professor Juniper smiled. “Good answer, Jim. You have no idea how often people with access to great power let it cloud their better judgments. You have the right mindset, however. Good for you.”

    “So, you’re staying over the winter too?” asked Cheren.

    “Oh, yes,” said the professor. “Partly to see you, partly to visit this festival coming up. I’ve already booked a villa for the three of us. And don’t worry about the lab. I asked Fennel and Amanita if they could look after it, and they agreed to readily.”

    “Great!” said Jim.

    Then, what the professor said fully sank in, and he became puzzled.

    “Hang on…you said ‘the three of us’, but I only see you and Bianca. Did Professor Cedric come too?”

    “As much as I’d love to have him just sit down and rest for even a day,” said Professor Juniper, “no. I think you’re in for a real surprise, though.”

    She turned around and beckoned to someone who was apparently in the clump of trees close by, and they stepped out into the open. Jim let out a sharp gasp.

    It was his mother.

    Jim stood, stock-still, unable to say a single word. Mrs. Stevens, however, smiled warmly at him, tears rimming her eyes.

    With a choked cry, Jim rushed to her, and found himself enveloped in her loving arms. Tears were dotting his cheeks as he felt her kiss his forehead.

    “My brave little boy,” he heard her say, tenderly. “I’ve missed you so much…”

    “I’ve missed you too, Mom,” Jim croaked. “I had no idea I’d be seeing you here, of all places.”

    “Professor Juniper kindly offered to bring me along,” said Mrs. Stevens, “when she told me you would be staying here, too. I’m so proud of you, Jim, and I know your father would be, too. Even he didn’t get all 8 of Unova’s badges as quickly as you did.”

    “Well…” Jim began, embarrassed, but then his mother said,

    “Oh! I almost forgot. There’s someone else who I think you’ll be happy to see again.”

    While Jim looked at her, confused, she called out,

    “Come on out, dear!”

    Jim nearly laughed aloud in delight at what he saw. Audino, the very one he had sent to keep his mother company, shuffled shyly out from the clump of trees. She was looking a little plumper than when Jim had sent her off, but she was smiling, beaming at him.

    “Audino!” Jim said.

    He hurried over to her and got on his knees to be more at her level. The two embraced like old friends, as indeed they seemed to be. It felt like an eternity since that unfortunate skirmish at the Dreamyard.

    “You’re looking great,” said Jim, holding her out for him to see.

    “As do you, Mr. Jim,” said Audino. “When Mrs. Stevens said she would be coming to Undella Town to see you, she invited me to come along, so of course I said yes. I owe so much to you, Mr. Jim,” she added, with tearful passion. “Your mother is one of the nicest women I’ve ever known, and she’s allowed me to fully realize my true dream. If I couldn’t be a nurse, I’d be a housekeeper.”

    “And you like it?” asked Jim.

    “I do,” said Audino. “I feel just like one of the family.”

    “You are one of the family, Audino,” said Jim. “I knew that as soon as I saw how happy Mom was to receive you.”

    Audino smiled wider, the tears standing out even more. Jim got to his feet and let her walk beside him. Mrs. Stevens was just being introduced to Leanne.

    “I want to thank you,” said Mrs. Stevens.

    “For what, ma’am?” asked Leanne.

    “For helping keep my Jim out of trouble.”

    “Oh, well,” said Leanne, blushing slightly, “it’s not easy, with Team Plasma harassing him.”

    “I know,” said Mrs. Stevens, regretfully. “They came to Nuvema Town not too long after he and his friends left. I didn’t like the look or sound of them at all.”

    “Rotten to the core,” said Professor Juniper, grimly. “Especially that ‘Genesis’.”

    “Ghetsis, ma’am?” asked Cheren.

    “Yeah, him,” said the professor. “A real vampire, if ever I saw one.”

    “But all the same,” said Mrs. Stevens, to Leanne, “Jim has a wonderful friend in you, dear.”

    “Thank you, ma’am,” said Leanne, blushing even more, “but your son’s pretty amazing, too.”

    “Aw, you’re gonna make me blush,” said Jim, who had come over with Audino. Everyone laughed.

    “And here I thought this vacation couldn’t get any better,” said Cheren. “Now we have the rest of winter to spend with each other. It’ll be just like back home!”

    “Exactly what I was thinking, Cheren,” said Professor Juniper.

    And Jim, in his heart, wholly agreed.

    Y Rotation Team

  15. #30

    Default Re: Jim: Blaze of Glory

    CHAPTER 30
    The Winter Festival: Enter Roxie


    Jim didn’t know it could have been possible, but somehow, the presence of Professor Juniper, Bianca, and his mother made their stay even more enjoyable than it already had been.

    He was eager to introduce his Pokemon to his mother, as she had only been introduced to June before, and was glad to see that she was happy with all of them. Recognizing that she was the parent of their Trainer and friend, they showed her every care and devotion, to the point that she joked that they were spoiling her. She was especially fond of Missy, whom she would baby, exactly what the chubby Emolga loved. Jim joked that, when the League came around, he’d have to put her back into shape, something that brought a good laugh from them all.

    Professor Juniper spent a good part of her time, when she first arrived, with June, marveling over how much she had improved and grown ever since she had left the lab. She was almost unrecognizable from the cold, distant Snivy who had turned down countless Trainers before. With Jim there as her translator, she plugged her with question after question, which June never failed to answer, and the professor was pleased with what she heard. It didn’t even matter to her that June didn’t want to evolve. On the contrary, she saw it as a testament of her true nature, and was very proud of her and Jim.

    Having Bianca back made Jim feel like they had returned to the good old times. They were as happy and carefree as they had been before they set off on their journeys. Thankfully, Bianca’s stuffier attire was only used when she went out to town with them, and on the beach, she reverted to an orange one-piece. Jim couldn’t remember the last time he saw Bianca willingly without her favorite hat, and had to admit that the look suited her nicely. Cheren, too, seemed a lot more at his ease now that Bianca was back. He even had proclaimed aloud that ‘the three Musketeers of Nuvema Town are together once more’. This brought a good laugh from his two friends, and they spent hours catching each other up on what had happened during their travels.

    Having Audino around was another saving point. She gladly cooked for them every night, and every dinner made under her careful paws was absolutely delicious. She would also bustle around the villas, picking up whenever someone accidentally left something laying around. Jim told her she didn’t have to do all of that, that they were on vacation and she could relax. Audino, however, persistently, but good-naturedly, said she didn’t mind. Nothing Jim said could sway her, so he just let her be. If she was enjoying herself, who was he to interfere?

    At last, one week after the surprise arrival, news reached their ears that the winter festival had arrived.
    Bright and early the first day, the band of vacationers, with their Pokemon except June, Oshawott, and Audino called into their Poke Balls, headed out into the urbanized part of Undella Town to have a look.

    The main street was packed with excited, chatting people. Colorful booths had been set up along either side, advertising different trinkets and items for sale, fortunes, games that tested your luck, and one especially auspicious one advertised the professional opinions of S-Class Connoisseur Kale Thyme.
    Jim was intrigued with what was being put up for sale in these booths. They all showed Pokemon that he had never seen or heard of in Unova, and indeed, upon asking, he was told they were all native to the four other regions: Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh. He didn’t ask which was native to which, because he was also told that, in many cases, some Pokemon from one region could be found in some of the others.
    These new Pokemon vastly fascinated him. They were plastered all over posters, made their appearance as balloons, and Jim even saw some live ones owned by Trainers as they went by.

    He saw one Trainer being mystified by the sly words of a man standing by a booth with a glass tank full of water. Inside the tank was an orange fish with wide, staring eyes and long whiskers. It didn’t look very remarkable, but Jim overheard the barterer say that, not only did the Pokemon, called a Magikarp, lay thousands of eggs which could be worth a fortune, but it also evolved into a fearsome Pokemon called Gyarados, which he pointed out. Jim turned to look where he was indicating and nearly had a heart attack. The Pokemon, advertised on a huge poster, was a blue sea serpent with glaring eyes and a gaping mouth full of sharp teeth. That fish Pokemon evolved into that??

    A little ways down, he saw another Pokemon, one he thought he recognized…

    “Yes,” whispered June in his ear, “that’s a Pikachu.”

    It was about the size of an Emolga, and similar in build: short and stocky. It had vivid yellow fur, brown eyes that sparkled cutely, pointed ears with black tips, a tail shaped like a lightning bolt, and red circles on its cheeks. The crowd around it were apparently native to Unova, and thus had never seen a Pikachu before. They crowded around it, petting its fur and scratching under its chin, the little Pokemon clearly enjoying the attention.

    Suddenly, June was overcome with a fit of violent coughing, and in the next instant, so was Jim. A thick cloud of greenish gas was clouding their vision.

    “What the-??” Jim choked.

    He whirled around, and saw the source at once. Another new Pokemon was floating before him, resembling a purple ball covered in tiny funnel-like nubs all over its body. It had a goofy grin on its face, and a pattern like a skull and crossbones on its front. The gas was pouring from the funnels.

    “Cut that out, you noxious gas bubble!” snapped June.

    In response, the Pokemon merely expelled more gas, laughing in a trollish way as it did so.

    “Why, you…!” snarled June.

    “Hey, you!”

    The voice, a young , tough female’s, came from behind Jim. He turned, and saw a teenage girl, holding a big black and purple guitar in the crook of one arm. She had a very wild appearance: bushy white hair done up in a ponytail on top, wearing a large blue and purple striped sweater that stopped in a frayed fashion above her knees, functioning like a kind of short dress, as well as large black boots. She looked like a punk rocker.

    “Me?” Jim asked.

    “Yeah, you! Are you bothering my Koffing?”

    “Koffing? Is that what it’s called? What an apt name,” grumbled Jim. “It was bothering us!”

    Koffing stuck its tongue out at them.

    “Well, there’s only one way to settle this,” said the girl. She played a few squealing chords on her guitar and shouted, “Battle time, baby!”

    “A battle? Here?” asked Jim, bewildered.

    “No, on the slopes of Mt. Silver,” said the girl, sarcastically. “Yeah, here! You insulted my Koffing, and now you’ve got to pay the price!”

    “It started it!” snapped Jim, pointing at the Koffing, who was grinning smugly.

    “Makes no difference,” said the girl. “You’re about to see the true ferocity of the namesake of Koffing and the Toxics!”

    This cry seemed to draw attention from everyone else around them. They crowded around excitedly to see what was going on. Jim’s other companions, who had wandered on ahead, backtracked to see what was keeping him.

    “Did she say Koffing and the Toxics?” asked another girl.

    “Oh my gosh, it’s Roxie!” said a boy.

    “She’s awesome!” squealed another girl.

    “Roxie? Koffing and the Toxics?” asked Jim. “I remember hearing about you, but don’t remember hearing about a Koffing.”

    “I was a solo performer before traveling to Kanto,” said Roxie. “That’s where I met my Koffing, and it inspired me to start a band. Koffing and the Toxics! Yeow!”

    She played some more high-pitched chords on her guitar.

    “Jim,” said June, in his ear, “let me deal with this.”

    “Huh?” asked Jim, bewildered. “But it looks like a Poison type. You’re a Grass type!”

    “It insulted me and drenched me in its foul bodily fumes,” June said, coldly. “I cannot let that abide…”

    Jim sighed. Sometimes, the tenacity he admired in his Snivy was too much like stubbornness…

    “All right, partner. If you’re so dead-set on it, I won’t stop you.”

    June stepped down to face Koffing, who guffawed.

    “You’re gonna face me with a Snivy?” asked Roxie, amused. “It’s your funeral, hotshot. Make your first move.”

    “Gladly,” said Jim. “June, Energy Ball!”

    June twirled one finger in the air, forming a glowing green and yellow ball at the tip of it, which she then tossed at Koffing. Koffing was struck and floated sharply backwards, flinching slightly.

    “Huh??” Roxie looked surprised. “Well! Your Snivy’s got a bit of oomph to back it up, but a fat lot of good that’s going to do you. We’ve got the advantage! Koffing, Sludge Bomb!”

    Koffing spat a glob of purplish slime straight at June.

    “Dodge and use Aerial Ace!” Jim commanded.

    June leaped upwards, spreading her arms like wings, the Bomb splattering disgustingly on the ground below her. Then, she swooped into a somersault and soared at Koffing, sweeping past and striking it once, twice, three times. Koffing only barely flinched, however. It seemed as if it had a tough hide.

    “Gyro Ball!” said Roxie.

    Koffing began to roll rapidly, a thin blue line surrounding it like a planet’s ring, and it bowled straight for June, knocking into her and throwing her back. She slammed against Jim’s leg, and got unsteadily back to her feet.

    “Now use Clear Smog!” said Roxie.

    “Leaf Tornado!” said Jim.

    Just as Koffing expelled a blast of white smoke from its mouth, June rose up and began twirling like a top, generating a vortex of leaves around her, which she then tossed at Koffing. The Smog was sucked up into it, and Koffing as well, so that it was tossed around and buffeted by the sharp leaves. It was tossed out once the leaves dispersed, looking scratched and bruised.

    “Oooh, you’re a tough little stinker, aren’t ya?” said Roxie, a gleam in her eyes.

    June bristled, apparently disliking being called a ‘stinker’.

    “But we’re gonna win this one yet!” Roxie went on. “Koffing, Flamethrower!”

    Both Jim and June blanched. This thing knew Flamethrower??

    So it did, for Koffing expelled a stream of flames from its mouth, and June barely had time to shield herself as the fire swept over her. She didn’t let out a cry of pain, but Jim could tell it was really paining her.

    “June!” he yelled. “Get out of there!”

    And so she did. She leaped up out of the flames and threw her paw into the air. The next instant, another Energy Ball, bigger than the last, appeared in her palm, and she chucked it at Koffing, the explosion of it knocking it out of the air and onto its back, unconscious.

    There was a tumult of cheers for Jim, and Roxie looked stupefied at the outcome. Finally, she recovered enough to recall Koffing.

    “You’ve got one tough little Snivy there,” she said. “She held her own pretty nicely for being at a disadvantage.”

    “Thanks,” said Jim. “She’s always been my little star player.”

    June gave him a small smile.

    “Still, I’m thinking she needs a little more of a punch to her power,” said Roxie, musingly. She stroked her chin in thought for a moment, then shouted,

    “Yeow! I’ve got it!”

    She played a long riff on her guitar that set the crowd cheering.

    “I’ll teach that little firebrand of yours a new move!” she said.

    “Huh?” asked Jim, astonished. “Just like that.”

    “She’s shown me what a tough little fighter she is,” said Roxie, “and I love toughness. So, whaddya say? Mind if I take her off your hands and give her a new ace?”

    “Well…” Jim looked uneasily at June, who was quite as bemused as he was. However, she turned to him and said,

    “I benefited nicely from Cruise’s Servine teaching me Aerial Ace. I’d like to see where this goes.”

    “…Well, if you’re sure, I’m not gonna stop you.” Jim turned to Roxie. “Deal. Meet us at the beach when you’re done. We’re staying at the villas.”

    “Awesome!” said Roxie, and she picked up June. “And don’t worry, guy,” she added, “I may like to rock, but I care about Pokemon, too.”

    Jim smiled. It was good to know that even obnoxious Trainers could still have good hearts.

    “I trust you, then,” said Jim.

    Roxie winked at him and disappeared into the crowd, followed by a throng of excited fans. Jim’s friends and mother finally joined him.

    “How lucky are you!” said Professor Juniper.

    “What do you mean?” asked Jim.

    “Didn’t you know?” asked Bianca. “Not only is Roxie a rock star, but she’s a Unova Gym Leader!”

    “A…A Gym Leader??” spluttered Jim. “But I thought there were only 8!”

    “Normally, yes,” said the professor, “but in certain cases, some Trainers can’t reach certain Gyms, so there are other Pokemon Gyms in that eventuality. Roxie’s the Poison-type Gym Leader of Virbank City in the west.”

    “Western Unova? I’ve heard stuff about that place,” said Cheren, musing. “The cities there are rather new in development, but they’re expanding nicely. It might be worth checking out…”

    Jim looked at where Roxie had departed to. He’d entrusted June into the guidance of a Gym Leader? Somehow, he felt his confidence rise ever so slightly at this; at least she was in capable hands…

    Y Rotation Team

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