Fantina's Balloon [SWC]

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    Default Fantina's Balloon [SWC]

    Purple balloons decorated the concrete walkway to the Caspini's mansion. Located on the outskirts of Hearthome City, this mansion took up several acres of land with the home and the stables taking up the rest of the space. The Caspinis grew their own fruits and vegetables; meat and other food items that couldn't be grown were purchased from the market within the city's walls. The Caspinis weren't the only ones that lived within the mansion's walls, however; farmers, maids, and cooks also lived in the mansion, dutifully completing the tasks given to them by their masters. In exchange for their services, the Caspinis made sure they lived a life of luxury.

    Though they'd never admit it, the maids, farmers, and cooks that served the Caspinis were scared that the birth of their daughter would mark the end of their luxurious lifestyles. Five years later, the maids, farmers, and cooks that lived in fear still at the Caspini mansion. The Caspinis had gone to hell and back to have a child, and having one wasn't going to keep them from giving the farmers, cooks, and maids the life in luxury they deserved for their service.

    On a normal day, you'd just see maids in their black and white outfits running around the mansion, cooks in their chef whites, and farmers in plaid button up shirts and dirty, worn jeans. Today was a special day. Today was the fifth birthday of Mister and Missus Caspini's daughter, Fantina. The young, purple haired girl was their miracle child. For years, the Caspinis wanted to conceive a child ever since they arrived in Sinnoh region from the newly rising Kalos region, but with each attempt came a failure. Missus Caspini was starting to lose hope when the positive pregnancy test came along, and the birth of their daughter came about nine months later.

    Each birthday little Fantina celebrated was better than the last; her parents wanted their little girl to be happy. The whole family was invited, and for each birthday since her fourth one, Fantina was allowed to invite all of her friends from school and dance. She was like the little popular girl, except Fantina didn't let her popularity get to her little head; her parents had taught her better than that.

    Fantina Caspini's birthday party this year was dance themed. She decided a few weeks ago she wanted a themed birthday party, and dance was the first things that came to mind. There was a dance floor in the reception hall with a hired DJ, and several dance themed decorations adorned the interior of the mansion. When one first walked in, a purple banner hung from the ceiling, and in cursive yellow letters, it said "Happy birthday, Fantina!" with a matching yellow heart at the end. Purple plates and yellow napkins were used in the dining room; the silverware had its natural silver coloring. The tablecloth used was purple and yellow plaid. Fantina's cake was five layers high made of chocolate with white, purple, and yellow icing; on the top was an edible dancer figurine (that would later be cut up into several little pieces so that each guest could have a piece of it) surrounded by five candles.

    Once all of her party guests had left, thanking Fantina and her parents for the amazing party and telling them that they couldn't wait until next year, the now five year old girl traveled up to her bedroom on the third floor. The cherry polished wood was probably the only thing in Fantina's room that wasn't purple. From the walls to the carpet to her bed, everything in her room was purple; there was some yellow as well, but for the most part, everything was purple. Fantina loved the color; it matched her hair and eyes.

    A knock on the door made Fantina jump, and she spun around to open it, her yellow skirt twirling around her as she spun. On the opposite side of the door stood an old man in a dark blue suit; his black tie was loosened around his neck, and his hands were hidden behind his back. A smile grew on Fantina's face as she stepped aside and gestured for her grandfather to come in.

    "Happy birthday, Fantina," the old man said once Fantina had closed the door to her room. He ruffled her poofy purple hair, grinning as it got messed up.

    "Stop it, grampa!" Fantina whined, swatting at her grampa's hand as he pulled it away.

    "I have something special for you," he said once he finished chuckling. Despite being the only child of one of the richest families in the Hoenn region, Fantina wasn't spoiled. Her parents still wanted to teach her responsibility, and they also didn't want their daughter to grow up to be a bully because she picked on her less fortunate classmates. The only time Fantina got lavish and expensive things was on her birthday or for Christmas.

    "Ooh! What? What?" she asked, bouncing up and down in place.

    "Close your eyes and hold your hands out," he instructed. Fantina closed her violet eyes, and two small hands were held out in front of her. She could feel something being gently placed in her hands, but she wasn't quite sure what it was. The urge to open her eyes was biting at her, but Fantina knew she couldn't open them just yet. Her grandfather spoke, "okay, now you can open your eyes, Fantina."

    As soon as the words left her grandfather's mouth, Fantina's eyes flew open. Her eyes darted to the object in her hands, which was a red and white capsule with a button in the middle. She immediately recognized it as a Poke Ball, something that held captured Pokemon. A white light materialized in front of her once she pressed the button on the ball; that white light eventually formed into a purple balloon. On the top of the balloon's head was a fluffy white cloud, and in between its oval shaped black eyes was a yellow X. Two black strings hung from its purple body, and at the end of the strings were yellow hearts.

    "She's a Drifloon. For generations, Caspini children have been receiving Ghost type Pokemon. We thought you'd enjoy Drifloon the most," he said as the Drifloon floated around her trainer, examining the five year old girl. Fantina followed Drifloon around as she floated in circles around her. Once Drifloon had gotten bored of examining Fantina, the balloon floated off to examine her new surroundings.

    "Thank you, grampa! I love her!" Fantina exclaimed as she ran forward and hugged her grandfather, who was kneeled down to her level.

    *****

    In the five years Fantina had Drifloon thus far, the pair had become inseparable. It was very rare to see Fantina without her Drifloon and vice versa. They became stronger together, and Drifloon had become her best friend. Now, five years to the day Fantina had received Drifloon, she was going to enter her first contest. The birthday party Fantina was going to have had been pushed back to the weekend so that all of her friends and family could attend. Her birthday had fallen in the middle of the week this year, so everyone was busy with school and work. No ten year old's parents were going to take time off of work just so that they could take their child to a birthday party.

    Contests in Hearthome City were a big deal. The schools in the city let out early on contest days just so that the students and staff could go watch or participate. There was a good hour and a half before the contests began, so usually, participants would go register for the contest, then go have lunch. Those that weren't participating went straight to lunch or out into the plaza that was outside of the contest hall.

    Once classes had let out, Fantina was one of the first ones out of the room. She ran as fast as her little legs would carry her. Today, Fantina wore a sparkly purple dress she'd bought last weekend. She had lavender gloves that went up to her elbows and a pair of sparkly gold shoes in her black backpack. She'd put those on before the contest started. For now, she'd go register for the contest and have lunch.

    At the contest hall, Fantina could see that it was already packed. There was a line for registration, so she went to go stand at the end, unexpectedly meeting up with a close friend.

    "Hi, Marley," Fantina happily said.

    "What?" Marley asked, not facing the purple haired girl behind her. She spun around, orange-red hair flying around her as she did so, and her almond shaped brown eyes fell upon ten year old Fantina. "Oh! Fantina, it's nice to see you! Are you registering for your first contest already?"

    "Yep! Cruella and I are really excited!" Fantina replied with a grin. Her Drifloon had been affectionately named Cruella a few years ago after the young girl started looking through some books in the Caspini family's library. She had been watching a contest earlier that day with a close friend from school, and Fantina couldn't help but notice how all of the trainers at the contest had nicknamed their Pokemon. Instead of being different, Fantina did what everyone else was doing and nicknamed her Drifloon. The balloon-like Pokemon seemed to be fine with it; as a matter of fact, Drifloon seemed to appreciate being nicknamed.

    "Well, good luck!" Marley said. "Say, would you like to go for lunch after we've registered? I don't really have anything else to do."

    "Sure! I'm pretty hungry anyways," Fantina replied. Marley nodded with a smile, and then she stepped up to the registration desk. Fantina shifted her weight from one leg to the other; it was giving her something to do with all of her energy. All of this energy seemed to come from nowhere; yesterday, Fantina was exhausted from all of the preparing that she and Cruella had done for today's contest, and today, she was a ball of energy. Not even the mock battles they'd done in school today had drained any energy from her. As a matter of fact, they made her more energetic, and that wasn't any good for a school setting.

    Once the girls were all registered for the contest that would be happening in the afternoon, Fantina and Marley went to a small cafe located in the city, not too far from the contest hall. Despite the cafe's proximity to the contest hall, it didn't seem to be very popular among the contest goers. It was Fantina's favorite cafe; she came here every day after school. The owners even knew her by name.

    "Well, if it isn't Marley and little Fantina too!" the male owner exclaimed, hopping up from his seat behind the cash register. The book he was reading slammed shut, and Fantina was able to make out the title, The Pikachu Story. "You're participating in today's contest, aren't you, Marley?"

    "Yes, sir," Marley replied almost automatically. This seemed like a question the firey haired girl got frequently when she visited this cafe. Marley wasn't from Hearthome City, however; she was like Fantina in that she wasn't even from the Sinnoh region. She was actually from the Hoenn region, specifically Lavaridge Town. Marley traveled all across the Hoenn region to participate in contests, and she eventually made her way to the Sinnoh region to participate in contests here. Fantina looked up to the firey haired girl, all because of her expertise in contests; despite Marley's tough exterior and firey personality, she actually gave Fantina tips the last time she'd been in Hearthome City.

    "Terrific! Whatever you want, it's on the house!" the owner replied cheerfully. Fantina had known him to give free food and drinks to frequent visitors who were participating in contests; it was mostly because he got so few contest participants in the cafe. She actually met Marley in this cafe during the latter's last contest. It was in this cafe that Marley had given Fantina contest tips. It was in this cafe that Fantina and Marley had become friends, and of course, rivals during contests. The owner spoke again, bringing Fantina out of her thoughts, "and for you, Miss Fantina. I'm sorry, but you'll have to pay. I know it's not very fair since you're a regular and all, but today's a very special day! There's a contest!"

    "I know. I'm in it," Fantina replied simply. The man gasped at this revelation.

    "You!? You're in the contest? Your first one already?" the man asked, and Fantina nodded. He let out a quieter, less surprised gasp. "Wow. It seems like just yesterday you were getting your first Pokemon. Now you're participating in your first contest... you're growing up so quickly, young lady. Next thing I know, you'll be travelling the world!" He nodded and waved his hand dismissively. The cafe's owner had a habit of rambling, and sometimes he'd go on for hours before he stopped himself. "Yes, well, you're on a tight schedule. Whatever you want, it's on the house today, Fantina."

    The ten year old girl nodded as she started looking at the selection. Despite being the daughter of two of the richest people in the Sinnoh region, Fantina was more of a frugal shopper. Even at the cafe, where items never really got above fifteen Poke Dollars, Fantina usually stuck towards the lower priced items. With a shrug, she went ahead and ordered her usual with a slight change. The drink, a medium green tea with a touch of orange flavor added in, remained the same, and her dessert, two miniature red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and rainbow sprinkles, also remained unchanged. It was her main course that changed today. Normally, she got the tuna sandwich because it was so cheap. Today, she got the fish tacos with an extra helping of pico de gallo.

    Fantina joined Marley once she received her food from the eager cafe owner, and the girls sat in silence for a while. She had to awkwardly look around the cafe, anything to keep herself from staring at Marley. Her mum had taught her at an early age that it was rude to stare at people. Marley's voice brought the young girl out of her thoughts, "hey, do you have seals on your Poke Ball?"

    "Huh?" Fantina asked, tilting her head slightly to the right. She'd never heard of these seals before. Marley smiled and went into the red backpack she had with her; she took out a large pink case decorated with stickers, and then she took the Poke Ball that was hanging around her neck off of its chain. By pressing the button in the center, the red and white capsule got bigger; when Marley pressed it again, a white light appeared. In a shower of red sparkles and yellow lightning bolts, an orange mouse appeared next to Marley.

    "Raichu!" the mouse said, striking a pose. At the end of her black tail was a yellow lightning bolt, and her electrically charged cheeks were the same color. His hands and feet were brown, and his pointy ears were brown with yellow insides. Fantina gazed at the mouse, wondering just how the sparkles had appeared.

    "The sparkles were made by the seals," Marley explained, holding her Poke Ball out for Fantina to see. On the red and white capsule were a couple red stickers in the shape of stars, and there were two yellow lightning bolt shaped stickers as well. Marley set the Poke Ball down and continued with her explanation, "when you stick them on a Poke Ball, they create special effects when the Pokemon is released. Each seal does something different."

    Marley paused for a moment to rummage through her bag for something. In the silence, the cafe's owner had brought out two small bowls full of Pokemon food. He had seen Marley release her Raichu, so he brought out some food for the Pokemon to enjoy as well, on the house, of course. Fantina noticed this, and she released Cruella the Drifloon as well. Cruella would appreciate the lunch in the long run, and bonding with other Pokemon in the contest wouldn't be too bad either. While the cafe owner was there, he cleared the table for the girls and brought them refills on their drinks.

    "Here!" Marley said, pushing a small purple case over to Fantina. "It's my old seal case. I got this one," she paused to pat the pink case she was using now, "when I realized I had way too many seals. People give their extra ones away at festivals, and sometimes, people will trade their extras off for seals they don't already have or seals they really want. I'll give you some of mine to get you started; you'll probably have a lot more by the end of today. And I'll even let you pick some out of my seal case to put on your Drifloon's Poke Ball. The judges really look at a Pokemon's entrance. People change their seals all the time during contests to keep that 'wow' factor going."

    "But don't they lose their stickiness?" Fantina asked as she watched Marley take the small purple case back.

    "Nope. Never. You could take 'em off a hundred times, and they'd still be sticky," Marley replied, turning her large pink case so that it was facing the cafe counter. Fantina peered into the case, noting just how many seals Marley had. Each seal had its own little section in the case; she had so many of some of them that they took up two sections. Fantina was about to reach into the case and grab one when she heard Marley gasp.

    "Oh!" the firey haired girl exclaimed. "I have a spare seal guide in here too!" She lifted up the top layer of her case, and after setting that aside, she pulled the second layer up and set it aside. At the bottom of the large case were several pamphlets and magazines all relevant to contests. Marley grabbed the first pamphlet she saw and handed it to Fantina. "Here! Read that before you pick anything out. It'll help you understand what each seal is supposed to mean. And you can keep that little pamphlet too. I usually keep a few spares in case I run into someone who needs one."

    Fantina nodded, and while Marley went to putting the layers of her seal case back together and giving the purple haired girl some seals of her own, Fantina got started on reading the pamphlet she was given. She was really giving it a quick skim for now. She'd study it more during the contest and at home after dinner. There were eleven types of seals: heart, star, line, smoke, electric, foamy, fire, party, flora, song, and alphabet. There was a twelfth type of seal called the special event type, but the only description it received was "given away at festivals; these are extremely rare seals and are only given out to participants in the contest." Fantina assumed those special event seals got sold for high prices by the former coordinators that no longer wished to participate in contests anymore.

    She allowed herself to look at Cruella for a moment. The purple balloon had finished eating, and the bowls had been cleared away by the cafe owner. Cruella and Marley's Raichu had gone off to a corner, and it looked like the orange mouse was teaching the balloon some poses to no avail. Fantina smiled at the two Pokemon; it was pretty adorable, and she was quite happy to see Raichu and Cruella getting along nicely.

    In the brief time she looked at Cruella the Drifloon, Fantina had decided the types of seals that she wanted to use on her Pokemon's Poke Ball. The smoke seals and the foamy seals seemed like the best ones to use for Drifloon; she would add a line seal later... maybe. Fantina wasn't sure how many seals coordinators usually used on their Poke Balls. She flipped through the pamphlet, which was more like a miniature manual than a pamphlet, to where descriptions of the smoke seals and found that there wasn't much to them. They either appeared above or below the Pokemon, and they came in white or black. Cruella already had a white cloud on her head, so the white smoke seals wouldn't really work too well. The smoke below her Drifloon would work the best in this case; it would be a nice contrast to the cloud on Cruella's head. She grabbed a seal with a small black cloud on it and stuck it on the red part of Cruella's Poke Ball. Fantina flipped to the foamy seals portion of the manual next and skimmed over that information. There were only amounts and colors for the foamy seals, few or many and blue or purple. Fantina didn't want it to seem like too much when it came to the special effects, so she opted for few; purple, of course, would match Drifloon, and it would make for a cool effect. She grabbed a couple of the seals with two purple bubbles on them and stuck one on each side of the black smoke seal. A smile lit up Fantina's face as she looked at her final product; this was sure to wow the judges.

    "Done!" Marley said as she closed Fantina's new seal case and pushed it back to her. "You should have two each of all eleven seal types, and you'll have more based on what you took from my case for your Drifloon's Poke Ball. I keep all of my special seals at home, so I couldn't give any of those to you; I have some duplicate special seals, apparently. If today's is a duplicate, I'll give it to you, and next time I come to Hearthome City, I'll bring my duplicates and give 'em to you."

    Fantina nodded, and then she took a casual glance over at the cafe owner, who was seated behind the counter again, reading his book. It was then that she noticed the cuckoo clock above the doorway into the back of the cafe. The shorter hand was pointing dangerously close to the one, and the longer hand was getting pretty close to the twelve at the top.

    "Marley, it's almost one. We're gonna be late for the contest," Fantina said, putting her new seal case in her bag. She grabbed Cruella's Poke Ball and returned the balloon with a flash of red light.

    "Oh, no! You're right! We spent so much time talking about seals that we must've lost track of time! You're all dressed for the contest, right? We're not gonna have time to change 'cause we've gotta get in the line up!" Marley said hastily, returning Raichu to her Poke Ball and packing her things back up. Fantina nodded; she still had to put her gloves and shoes on, but that could be done in the line up.

    "Bye!" the girls shouted to the cafe owner as they left. If he responded, neither of the girls heard him; they were too far away by the time he had registered the fact that they had left.

    They arrived at the contest hall and quickly left their bags at the bag check. Fantina took the gloves and shoes out of her bag, and she threw the shoes she was currently wearing into her bag before leaving it with the blonde woman who had her nose in a book by the time Fantina was running off for the line up; Marley had already left for the line up. Once there, Fantina slipped on the sparkly gold shoes and lavender gloves; the shoes had heels that were about half an inch tall, and the gloves went up to her elbows.

    At the sound of a whistle, all of the contest participants started walking forward in a single file line. Fantina could feel her hands shaking as she walked behind the brunette in front of her. Due to the large number of coordinators participating, two rows were formed; Fantina could see the back of Marley's red head from her position in the back row.

    "Good afternoon, coordinators and spectators! My name is Dexter, and I will not only be announcing for today's contest, but I will also be judging!" a man with grey hair in a brown suit announced through a microphone. The crowd cheered, and it took Dexter a moment to silence them. "Due to the number of participants we have in today's contest, we'll be doing things a little differently. The visual, dance, and acting competitions will still be happening! However, there will be two groups! The line in front will be Group A, and the line behind them will be Group B! The top coordinator from Group A, and the top coordinator from Group B will battle in a one on one Pokemon battle to determine the winner!"

    The audience broke out into cheers again, and Fantina took this opportunity to nervously look up and down her row. On one side, she was glad to know that she wouldn't have to go against Marley; the more experienced girl would be able to give her advice after the contest since she'd be able to watch when it wasn't her group's turn. On the other side, Fantina wasn't sure just how experienced the rest of the coordinators in her group were; for all she knew, Fantina could be up against coordinators that had three or four ribbons already. That made the young girl shiver.

    "Best of luck to all of our coordinators! Group A will be doing the visual portion first, and Group B will be doing the dance portion first!" Dexter announced. As soon as he was done speaking, the two lines filed back into the waiting room. They didn't get to stay for long as Group A was ushered off to the styling room, and Group B was ushered off to a smaller waiting room. The audience would get to see everything on the dome that covered the contest hall; they would probably show portions from both Group A and Group B once they both got moving.

    "Good afternoon, coordinators! My name is Keira, and I'll be running the dance portion of today's contest. In the next room is a stage, and your Pokemon will be performing to a song of your choice. We will be doing the dances one at a time. When you're finished, you'll go back out into the large waiting room for results from round one," Keira explained. The brunette woman wore a simple pink dress with equally simple white flats. A yellow headband with a pink heart on it was placed in her hair, and she wore white pearl earrings. "Right, so with that all said, first up will be Ashlyn Gracewood."

    Fantina watched as a tall pink haired girl stood up and followed Keira into the stage room. Her purple skirt danced around her as she walked, and she stumbled a bit; Fantina noted that she had no experience wearing heels. She had, unfortunately; Fantina hated wearing heels. The only time she ever really wore them was for family gatherings, when her mother insisted that she wear them. Today was an exception as Fantina knew her own personal appearance would be looked at during today's contest. Marley had taught her that during one of their impromptu meetings at the cafe.

    It was about twenty minutes before Fantina was finally called in. Each person was to use a song no longer than four minutes; the one she chose was approximately three and a half minutes. She and Cruella had spent several hours listening to her mom's old CDs just to find the perfect song; in the end, Cruella had picked the song they were going to be using. Fantina released Cruella in a cloud of black smoke and purple bubbles as she stepped into the stage room. Once in there, Fantina pointed to the stage, and Cruella floated away towards it. The young, purple haired girl took her seat next to Keira, handing the CD with the song on it to the judge.

    "It's track number eleven," Fantina noted as Keira put the CD into the player. Keira nodded, and as soon as the CD player registered that there was something in it, green numbers flashed on the display from one all the way up to eleven, where they suddenly stopped. That eleven moved off to the side as four zeros, divided in the middle by a colon, took prominence on the display; in a matter of seconds, the song would be starting, so Fantina tore her purple eyes away from the display and directed her attention to her Drifloon.

    The song was slow and serene, perfect for the Drifloon. As soon as Cruella could hear the sounds of the violin from the song, she started floating in a circle, occasionally spinning when the singer said "do do do~" Once there was a lull in the music, Cruella stopped. The artist started singing after a few seconds of silence, and Cruella did her own solo rendition of a waltz. The lull would come back, and the Drifloon would float in circles again with the occasional spin. This was their three and a half minute dance. There wasn't much dancing a Drifloon could do, so by the time Keira had dismissed Fantina and her Pokemon, there was a frown on the girl's face.

    The dance portion would probably be Fantina's lowest score. That had always been the part she was most worried about. She had her fingers crossed for her first contest win, but that probably wouldn't be happening now with that terrible contest performance... not unless she got the top score in the visual and appeal portions. There was still that final battle though... Fantina knew what Drifloon's moves were, but she had very little of an idea of how to battle. She'd done some battles at school, but those were mock battles. Those weren't the real thing, and that's exactly what this battle was going to be. The real thing. Even if Fantina made it to the battle portion, there was no way she was going to win a battle against someone.

    At the sound of a whistle, the coordinators were ushered back out onto the stadium field to hear their scores. In between each announcement of a coordinator's score, the audience would start cheering. By the third time this had happened, Fantina had sort of tuned everything out. At this point, she was just listening for her name.

    "Fantina Caspini!" Dexter announced. As soon as her name escaped Dexter's mouth, Fantina perked up instantly. She was standing a little straigher, and she was actually standing on her toes to see the scoreboard beyond the bodies of the first group. Fantina could see a bit of her happy, smiling face and the cheerful Drifloon she was partnered with as well as her name in big pink letters. "Your dance score for today is twenty-nine!"

    Fantina allowed herself a small smile at this announcement. Coordinators could score up to sixty points in the dance and visual portions of the contest, and they could score up to one hundred and twenty points in the appeals portion. The coordinator with the highest combined score from all three categories would be the winner, and they got to go home with a trophy, a medal for their Pokemon, and a special winner's seal for their Pokemon's Poke Ball that had a different special effect everytime it was used. The fact that she had scored a twenty-nine in the dance portion wasn't too bad; it was probably going to be the lowest score in her group, but she was one point away from the halfway mark, so that wasn't too bad. For her first contest, Fantina thought she was doing quite well.

    The coordinators were sent back to the waiting room after the announcement of round one scores, and round two was set to begin. Group B was ushered off to the styling room, and Group A got sent to the smaller waiting room. A purple haired man in a white suit was waiting for them in the styling room. As they walked in, Fantina took note of her surroundings. The room was full of mirrors and lights; in a corner of the room was a closet that looked like a disaster zone. The white zebra striped doors were wide open, and items were just tumbling out of it. In the opposite corner of the room was a black closet that was also wide open; this one was less of a disaster zone, and it looked like it was being cleaned out by two green haired women.

    "Good afternoon, coordinators! My name is Jordan, and I'll be judging the visual portion of today's contest!" the purple haired man announced. That brought Fantina out of her observational mode and into her attentive mode."Visual portions of the contest have themes, and in a moment, I'll tell you what today's theme is. I would like to tell you all where your supplies are first. For those of you that brought your own supplies, they are in the black closet in the corner. Find your name and grab your accessory cases, then get right to work! For those of you that lack your own supplies, you may take your pick of items from the white zebra striped closet in the other corner. Coordinators, your theme is The Colorful, and you have five minutes! Go!"

    There was a rush as coordinators made their way to the two closets. Many of the coordinators in Group B had brought their own accessories, so Fantina was pleased to know she only had to compete with two other people from her group. She was also pleased to know she already had a battle plan. Rainbows were colorful, so that was where she was going to go with Cruella's accessories today. The Drifloon was already purple, and she also had some yellow in her, so that knocked off two of the seven colors in the rainbow; if Fantina had time, she'd hopefully try and make the black strings and the white cloud on her Drifloon pop out as well. If not, it wouldn't be too big of a deal. She grabbed as many red, orange, green, blue, and indigo supplies as she possible could and made her way to a station.

    As soon as the accessories were on the table, she released the Drifloon from her Poke Ball. There were a few bows in red and orange, so she stuck the red one on the left side of Cruella's cloud and the orange on the right. Noticing that she had several orange fluffs, Fantina removed the bows and stuck the orange fluffs on the cloud instead; now it looked as if Cruella's cloud was orange cream ice cream.

    "Also, coordinators, when you get into the presentation room, you will have three minutes to create a scene for your Pokemon!" Jordan's voice announced over the hustle and bustle in the styling room. "You will be called back one at a time once your five minutes is up. You currently have just over three minutes remaining!"

    Fantina snatched up several of the blue feathers she'd gathered and placed them in Cruella's left hand, and there were several red feathers placed in her right hand. Well, they weren't really hands, but they were able to hold things. A frown spread onto Fantina's face. She had all of the colors of the rainbow here except for green and indigo. Green could be incorporated in her scenery; Fantina wanted to have Cruella in a forest like setting anyways. Indigo was the problem color today. She tossed accessories aside left and right to find something, anything, that was indigo. No matter what it was, Fantina would make it work on Cruella.

    And then she spotted something.

    It was a scarf. It had some pale blue stripes that alternated with the indigo, but that was okay. It was indigo, and that was good enough for Fantina. She tied it like a headband just below the white and orange cloud on Cruella's head and just above her black, oval shaped eyes. It worked... kind of. Fantina shrugged. At least she had her rainbow.

    And that rainbow couldn't have come a second later. As soon as Fantina stepped back from Cruella to admire her work on the balloon like Pokemon, there was a loud buzzer that silenced the whole styling room. Jordan pressed a large red button on the timer to silence it.

    "Time's up!" he announced, confirming what everyone already knew. "Coordinators, please line up so that we can get the judging portion out of the way!"

    There was some hustle and bustle again as everyone formed into a line. There were the brave souls who wanted to go first (or the ones who wanted to get it out of the way), there were the nervous ones who wanted to go last, and then there was Fantina. The small ten year old situated herself in between a brunette and a blonde right in the middle of the line with Cruella by her side. One by one, Jordan led people into the room, and it was a matter of time before Fantina was at the front.

    "Miss Caspini," Jordan said as he poked his head out of the presentation room. Fantina and Cruella stepped forward and into the room. She could see that the room was a mess now, but Fantina had her eyes on the prize. A couple tree stumps were off to stage right, and she was bound to find a bunch of leaves and other earthy things as well. Jordan spoke again, "you have three minutes, Miss Caspini, starting now."

    Fantina didn't even let Jordan finish speaking for more than five seconds before she was already running across the room to the stumps. Three minutes was bound to fly by, just like that five minutes from before. She ditched her sparkly shoes halfway across; they would hinder her more than help her. That was the problem with heels; you couldn't walk really fast in them. Both stumps were on the stage, and Fantina was creating a trail of leaves between the two stumps. Red and white mushrooms were placed near both stumps.

    "Cruella, here!" Fantina quickly called, pointing to a space between the two stumps for her Pokemon to float. Once Cruella was in her place, Fantina looked around the room again. She spotted some flowers of varying colors and sizes, so she leaped off of the stage and grabbed as many as she could. Fantina scattered them around the stage, and by the time she was done, the stage was covered in red, pink, white, blue, orange, and yellow flowers. It was perfect.

    "I'm done, sir," Fantina said as she stepped off the stage and slipped her shoes back on. Jordan nodded and stopped the timer; she probably had about thirty seconds before it went off on her. She stepped aside so that the photographer could take the picture. The best part about this was that there was always a photographer at the contests, so you could have souvenier pictures of your Pokemon. That was her favorite part. She took the picture from the balding photographer, and at Jordan's command, she led Cruella from the room and back to their station. It was there that Fantina removed the accessories from her Pokemon and placed them back in the closet before heading back out into the waiting room.

    A quick glance at the television screens there showed that Fantina had enough time to go put the picture with the rest of her belongings at bag check, so she did just that. As soon as she returned, she was being ushered back out onto the field for scores from round two. Fantina allowed her thoughts to wander again as Group A's scores were given. She perked up when Group B's scores began. She actually wanted to hear how the rest of her group had done, and it was no surprise to her that the scores were in the high forties, fifties.

    "Fantina Caspini!" Dexter called once the crowd silenced themselves. She was able to see the scoreboard better this time. Her dance score of twenty-nine was still up there, and the visual and appeal categories were currently blank. "Your visual score is a fifty!"

    A fifty appeared under visual on the scoreboard for Fantina. That was good. No, it was excellent! That was only ten points away from the top score. If she did really well in the appeals portion, she would have a chance! Maybe... she wasn't quite sure. At the very least, she would be top three in her group. Excitement bubbled inside of Fantina as they returned to the waiting room. She was determined to do really well in the appeals portion of the contest. A top score would propel her to the top of her group.

    The appeals portion would take the longest, and it was the only one where a judge didn't come in beforehand to explain what was going to happen. Instead, they called the first name, and a young man with slicked back blonde hair by the name of Gregory Jones stepped out of the waiting room and onto the field. Each coordinator was allowed to give their Pokemon four moves to use, and those four moves would give them their appeals score. Fantina shifted nervously in her seat. They were calling one person from Group A to go, and the next person to go would be someone from Group B. It was only a matter of time before all of the people from both groups had gone.

    "Fantina Caspini," a computerized voice called. Fantina leaped up from her seat and swiftly walked out onto the field. As soon as she was visible, the crowd started cheering. It made the young girl smile a bit, but she was still extremely nervous for what was about to happen.

    "When you're ready!" Dexter exclaimed excitedly.

    "Right," Fantina said, tossing Drifloon's Poke Ball up into the air. "Cruella, it's your time to shine!"

    Oohs and aahs escaped the mouths of the audience as Cruella appeared out of a black cloud of smoke that was surrounded by foamy purple bubbles. As soon as the smoke cleared, Fantina called out her first move, "Focus Energy, Cruella!"

    Several orange circles appeared around the balloon, and they eventually formed into ovals and flew up towards the dome, where they disappeared. This attack normally gave the Pokemon a better chance of scoring a critical hit in battle; if used correctly, it had a very good chance of helping you win a battle. In this case, it improved Cruella's concentration.

    "Now use Shadow Ball!" Fantina shouted. A small purple ball appeared in front of Cruella, and as each second passed, it got bigger and bigger. Once it was about the size of a soccer ball, Cruella floated away from it, keeping her concentration on it so that it wouldn't shoot off at the judges. That would have been potentially dangerous, and it definitely would have hindered Fantina's chances of going into the battle portion and winning this contest.

    "Minimize!" As soon as the command escaped Fantina's mouth, Cruella slowly got smaller. First she shrunk a little, then a little more, and then all the way until she was barely visible. You'd need a telescope to see her at this point. A grin appeared on Fantina's face as she shouted the final command, pointing at the Shadow Ball, "now fly towards that and use Explosion!"

    Without even hesitating, the miniature, barely visible Cruella flew towards the Shadow Ball. There was a loud boom, and a large black and purple cloud of smoke filled the arena. Fantina held her breath as she waited for the smoke to clear. Once it did, the first thing Fantina heard was the crowd's cheers. She could see small purple circles of energy from Shadow Ball fluttering towards the ground, and she could see Cruella's body slowly reforming into its natural, balloon like shape.

    "Thank you for that outstanding performance, Miss Caspini!" Jordan said with a smile. "You may go back into the waiting room now."

    Fantina nodded as she returned Cruella to her Poke Ball. Red and white capsule in hand, Fantina returned to the waiting room and her empty seat. From here, she was forced to shift awkwardly in her seat every so often. Waiting was the part Fantina hated most.

    "Coordinators, please make your way back out to the field for final scores," the computerized voice said. In two single file lines, parallel to each other, they walked back out onto the field and back out to the cheering audience. Fantina frowned as she realized that she wouldn't be able to fully see the scoreboard. It was a good thing they were announcing the scores.

    "Fantina Caspini!" Dexter announced. Fantina looked around; was she really the first one being called? "We will be doing scores in alphabetical order by last name for this round, and we will announce your appeal score followed by your total combined score. Miss Caspini, your appeal score was a ninety-three, and your total score is one hundred and seventy-two!"

    The crowd cheered at Fantina's score, and it actually made the girl smile. One could only get a total of two hundred and forty points, so the fact that she was only sixty-eight points away from that was quite an achievement. If she was lucky, no one else would have scored as high as her. If she was lucky, she'd be able to battle for first place. She had to start bouncing on her toes to keep herself from going crazy.

    "And now we'd like to announce the first place winner of Group A. This person will be facing the first place winner of Group B to win today's contest! Drumroll, please!" Dexter announced. The crowd started stomping their feet on the bleachers, and they were cheering again. Dexter was forced to speak over them when he announced Group A's winner, "the winner for Group A is Kacie Pearlbottom!"

    The cheers got louder, and the drumroll ceased as a girl with brown hair braided down her back stepped forward onto a red pedestal. Dexter held up his hand to silence the crowd again, and then he beat on air drums to signify that they were to give another drumroll. Again, he spoke over the crowd's cheers and drumroll, "the winner for Group B is Rachelle Farbreathe!"

    A girl with short, spiky red hair stepped forward onto a blue pedestal. The crowd continued to cheer as the remainder of groups A and B returned to the waiting room. It was there that they would watch the battle between Kacie Pearlbottom and Rachelle Farbreathe. It was there that Fantina Caspini would be keeping herself from crying her poor eyes out. She was so sure she'd be fighting Kacie right now for the trophy, but she wasn't. She was forced to sit in the waiting room until the end. The end hadn't come for Kacie and Rachelle yet, but it had already come for Fantina, and that thought alone was something that Fantina hated.

    *****

    Hearthome City could be reached via Route 208 to the west, Route 209 to the east, and Route 212 to the south. Heading west on Route 208 would take you to Mount Coronet, which divided the Sinnoh region in half. Heading east on Route 209 would eventually take you to Solaceon Town, home to the Pokemon Daycare in the Sinnoh region. Heading south on Route 212 would take you to Pastoria City, and you would also pass by the Pokemon Mansion.

    Today, Fantina had decided to go to Route 209. She actually lived on this route in the nearby mansion that was surrounded by trees. You could see the mansion's roof over the treetops. Fantina came here today to train Cruella and also to get some practice in for contests. After her last contest failure, Fantina wanted to improve... a lot. She'd never get better at contests or battling if she didn't get any practice. Practice makes perfect!

    The best part about being on Route 209 was that she encountered a lot of Gastly, and by a lot, it was really one Gastly for every five Pokemon. Most of the Pokemon on this route were either Bibarel, a Normal and Water type Pokemon that evolved from Bidoof, or Roselia, Grass and Poison type Pokemon with a red flower and a blue flower as hands. There was the occasional Starly, a grey and white bird Pokemon. The sun had set in the west, and all of the night Pokemon were starting to come out now. Fantina had her flashlight, but that didn't make them flee.

    It was getting late now, and Fantina frowned. She'd bought some Poke Balls at the mart after classes, and she had the intention of catching a Gastly out here. Of the four Gastly she'd encountered, a Shadow Ball or two from Cruella had made them flee in weakness, and she didn't want to waste a Poke Ball on a fleeing Pokemon. Fantina was going to try one more time to try and catch a Gastly, and if she failed, she'd go home empty handed. A gasp escaped her as she saw a black orb surrounded by purple gas.

    "Cruella, use Astonish on him to get his attention," Fantina whispered from behind a bush. In the forest's clearing, a Gastly floated, just looking around. Fantina wasn't sure what he was looking at, but Cruella would be distracting him from whatever it was. The Drifloon disappeared briefly and reappeared in front of the Gastly. Fantina could hear the Gastly whisper the name of his species as she came out from behind the bushes. The next thing that she knew, the Gastly was flying towards her because of Astonish. Fantina sidestepped to avoid Gastly, who flew into the bushes, and by into, he actually flew through the bushes.

    "Okay, now use Shadow Ball on it!" Fantina commanded, pointing at the injured Gastly. The best part about Cruella was that a lot of her attacks were of the Ghost type. Astonish and Shadow Ball would do a lot of damage to the Ghost type Gastly. Fantina grinned as she watched Cruella form a purple ball of energy and launch it at the Gastly. The Ghost type screeched as he was hit by Shadow Ball, and Fantina readied a Poke Ball while he recovered. Gastly was now forming a Shadow Ball of his own, but before he could launch it at Cruella, Fantina threw the red and white capsule.

    One shake... two shakes... three shakes... Fantina held her breath. If it broke through, she wasn't sure if she'd be able to catch a Gastly at all. Click!

    That click was indication that Fantina had indeed caught the Gastly. A smile lit up her face as she returned Cruella to her own Poke Ball and picked up her new Gastly. This was the first of many accomplishments; Fantina could just feel it.

    *****

    It was a warm summer day when Fantina made her way out to Route 209 again. School had finished for the year and the students were on their summer vacation. Fantina was grateful for the two, almost three, month break from classes. It gave her time to train with her Pokemon and practice contest strategies. She'd done her mock battles in class, and she was improving there. As for contests, the last time she'd seen Marley was about a month and a half ago; they did a little contest practice during the short time they were together.

    Battles and contests weren't the main reason why Fantina was on Route 209 today though. She was actually heading towards the Lost Tower, where she'd find a Misdreavus. The Ghost type Pokemon appealed to Fantina when she saw a picture of it in a book. It would be perfect for the Beauty themed contests in Hearthome City. Fantina was actually so excited for this Misdreavus that she'd already picked a nickname out for it. If it was a boy, Misdreavus would be called Lucifer. Samara would be Misdreavus' nickname if it was a girl.

    All of that would be a lot more useful if she was able to find a Misdreavus though. Fantina had been in the Lost Tower for at least an hour now, and all she'd found thus far were some items dropped by other trainers that had passed through. She picked them up and put them in her backpack without checking to see if they would be useful; she'd do that when she got home. Right now, she had her sights out for the Misdreavus she was so excited to catch.

    A few hours later, Fantina was leaving the Lost Tower with a frown. The numerous tombstones inside the tower as well as the mysterious channelers on the upper levels were starting to creep her out. Not to mention the only thing she was managing to find were Gastly, which Cruella and Darth (the Gastly that was now a Haunter she'd caught) easily defeated with a few of their Ghost type moves. Fantina was proud of how far she'd come since that first contest months ago. A few months ago, she probably would have been terrified to come here. Now, she was this strong, brave girl who was so determined to win a contest and become a grand coordinator. She would be someone known around the world. Fantina Caspini, the grand coordinator from Hearthome City. Her family would be so proud of her.

    "Misdreavus..." a ghost-like voice said. Fantina gasped at the sound and started frantically looking around, her hand on Cruella's Poke Ball. She was alternating between Cruella and Darth so that the two Ghost types would get an equal amount of training. She heard the voice again, and Cruella's Poke Ball fell out of her hand and onto the ground.

    "Misdreavus!" the voice shouted in alarm as Cruella the Drifloon appeared in a flash of bright light. The next thing Fantina knew, Cruella shouted out the name of her species in pain. A pair of Misdreavus, dark purple ghosts with pink at the ends of what could be their hair, had used Astonish on Cruella. Around the necks of the Misdreavus were some pink jewels. Though Fantina was happy that she had finally encountered a Misdreavus, two of them at that, she was a little frustrated that Cruella was dazed and that she had been double teamed.

    "Alright, Darth, we're gonna need your help too. Use Sucker Punch on the one preparing a Shadow Ball! Cruella, if you can, use a Shadow Ball on the other one!" Fantina commanded. A purple Pokemon with hands detached from his face appeared alongside Cruella. Darth the Haunter disappeared as soon as he appeared, and Cruella shook her balloon-like body before beginning a Shadow Ball to launch at the Misdreavus that appeared to be taking on a dark aura.

    "Misdreavus!" the Ghost type Pokemon that was preparing a Shadow Ball shouted. Darth had appeared behind her and landed a punch on her with his purple, ghost-like hand. She recovered quickly, however, as she spun around and gazed into Darth's eyes. When the Misdreavus slammed into him with Astonish, Darth's eyes had glazed over, and he was looking around curiously.

    Meanwhile, Cruella had launched a Shadow Ball at the other Misdreavus, and that didn't make him too happy. As soon as the attack hit, the male Misdreavus slammed into Cruella, causing her to cry out the name of her species once again. Fantina bit her bottom lip; that was Payback, a Dark type move that dealt double the damage received, and Ghost type Pokemon were weak to Dark type moves. That was a heavy blow Cruella had just received, and it was certainly showing; she was floating closer to the ground now. Another heavy blow like that, and it would be Darth against two strong Misdreavus.

    She needed a plan and fast. Both of the Misdreavus were preparing Shadow Balls. Cruella was extremely close to being knocked out, and Darth was confused thanks to the female Misdreavus' Confuse Ray. Fantina looked around... there had to be something she could do to distract one of them long enough for one of her own Pokemon to knock out the Misdreavus that wasn't distracted. From there, it would be easier. These Misdreavus were stronger than her own Pokemon, and there was no way Cruella and Darth would be able to defeat them one on one. The Misdreavus had already dealt immense amounts of damage to Fantina's Pokemon, and her goal was to leave with a Misdreavus, not be defeated by them.

    The tombstones... the tombstones! That was it! One of her Pokemon could lure one of the Misdreavus over to the tombstones and launch some surprise attacks on the Misdreavus. Fantina's attention went to Darth. He was confused, but she was sure that he'd be able to make the plan work. Just because Darth the Haunter was confused didn't mean he would be completely useless.

    "Darth, use Sucker Punch on one of the Misdreavus, then float over to the tombstones and distract it! Cruella, use Ominous Wind!" Fantina shouted. Cruella opened her mouth, which was located in the center of the yellow X on her face, and exhaled. Dark yellow air flew towards one of the Misdreavus, and the Shadow Ball she was preparing was put on hold as she was hit by the rancid smell of Ominous Wind. The move created a foul smelling wind that had a chance of boosting the stats of the user; it was a terrible contest move, but it was excellent in battles.

    Meanwhile, Darth gave Fantina a blank stare. He registered that he was supposed to be attacking something, and he disappeared just as the male Misdreavus launched his Shadow Ball. Darth landed a Sucker Punch on the male Misdreavus; his confusion was keeping him from floating in a straight line. The male Misdreavus followed Darth, preparing a second Shadow Ball to launch at the Haunter.

    "Alright, Cruella, now it's just you and this Misdreavus. Use a Shadow Ball of your own!" Fantina shouted. She glanced over at Darth, who barely dodged a Shadow Ball from the male Misdreavus just now. The girl let out a sigh of relief; if Darth fainted before she could get this female Misdreavus in a Poke Ball, this battle would end badly. She had to get Darth to use some moves of his own. "Darth, use Shadow Punch!"

    Darth gave Fantina another blank stare when he received his next command. What was a Shadow Punch? He shook his ghost like head and focused on the Misdreavus before him, who was preparing a second Shadow Ball to launch at him. The Misdreavus appeared a little blurry around the edges, but for the most part, it appeared as if Darth's confusion was wearing off. Soon enough, he'd be back to his normal self, and the battle would become a little easier. Darth floated forward in his zig zag formation, narrowly missing the second Shadow Ball. Had he not floated off to the side when he did, Fantina would have been rushing both of her Pokemon to Hearthome City and the Pokemon Center there. She heard the male Misdreavus shriek, and she could see that Darth's Shadow Punch had dealt a good amount of damage.

    Meanwhile, Cruella had just launched a Shadow Ball of her own at the female Misdreavus. She too shrieked, but she recovered much more quickly than her male companion did. She tried to catch Cruella in her gaze in an attempt to use Confuse Ray, but Cruella was smarter than that. Instead, she took on Fantina's next command, "don't look in her eyes, Cruella! Use Astonish instead, and then follow up with Shadow Ball! Darth, one more Shadow Punch should do the trick, and if he prepares another attack, use Sucker Punch!"

    The Astonish from Cruella dazed the female Misdreavus long enough for the balloon-like Pokemon to launch a Shadow Ball at her. Fantina saw a red aura appear briefly around the Misdreavus; that meant Shadow Ball had dropped her Special Defense. The female Misdreavus was also starting to float lower to the ground now; Fantina readied one of her empty red and white capsules. One more hit from Cruella, and they'd be able to focus on the male Misdreavus.

    Meanwhile, Darth's confusion had worn off, and he successfully managed to land a Shadow Punch on the male Misdreavus. Said male Misdreavus had a dark aura around him, however, and had Darth waited a second longer to use Sucker Punch, it would've been over for the Haunter. Instead, it was lights out for the male Misdreavus as he faded away into the darkness. One down, one to go.

    "Darth, use one more Sucker Punch on the other Misdreavus. That should be enough for me to try and capture it," Fantina said calmly. Now that it was two of her Pokemon against one wild Pokemon, this would be an easier battle. "Cruella, use Stockpile a couple times, and then use Swallow. That should get you by until we get back to Hearthome City."

    Cruella nodded and started gathering energy. Darth hit the remaining Misdreavus with Sucker Punch, and that made her float even lower to the ground. Fantina threw a Poke Ball at it and held her breath as she watched it shake once, twice... a flash of white light indicated that Misdreavus had not been caught. The Poke Ball returned to Fantina's hands, and the girl frowned. She was probably going to try and avenge her partner in crime. Fantina heard Cruella gulp down her Stockpile, and the balloon appeared more energized."

    "Okay, Cruella, use Astonish, and Darth, you use a low powered Shadow Ball. Maybe after that I'll be able to capture it," Fantina told her Pokemon. Cruella didn't waste any time using Astonish on the Misdreavus, and Darth didn't wasted any time preparing that Shadow Ball for launch. As soon as Cruella hit Misdreavus and floated out of Darth's way, the Shadow Ball was launched, and Misdreavus shrieked. Fantina threw the Poke Ball again and held her breath. One... two... three... Click! She let out a sigh of relief as she picked up the Poke Ball. "You're going to be a stubborn one, aren't you, Samara?"

    *****

    Fantina yawned. It had been a long day for her and Darth. Her feet were killing her, and she was ready to just go curl up under the sheets. These silver heels she was wearing were two inches too high, and she had no idea why in the world she owned them. Fourteen year old Fantina regretted purchasing them.

    She sighed. The good thing was that this contest was almost over. The appeal portion was the only thing left, and they were being called out one by one to perform that for everyone. Fantina had scored a fifty-five in her dance portion and a fifty-two in her visual portion. That was a combined score of one hundred and seven as of right now; she had to be one of the top participants. A high appeal score would give her the victory! The highest she could get was a two hundred and forty, and Fantina doubted she'd get that high, but scoring in the two hundreds would be nice.

    "Fantina Caspini," a computerized voice called. Fantina stood up and approached the entrance to the field, where the judges were waiting. With each step she took, her black dress swished around her small frame. For a fourteen year old girl, she was pretty thin, but she was actually of an average height and weight for a girl her age.

    "When you're ready, Miss Caspini," Dexter said. The first time Fantina stood in front of this man, he wore a brown suit. Today, it was a cream suit with an orange tie. Keira wore a pastel purple dress, and Jordan wore a black suit with a white bowtie. Fantina nodded, and she tossed a red and white capsule into the air.

    In a flash of white light, a Haunter appeared, and several gold stars swirled around him before disappearing. Fantina smiled at Darth's entrance, and she was glad she'd chosen him for today's contest. Cruella the Drifloon was still bitter about her first contest loss, and Samara the Misdreavus had yet have any contest training; she was a more observant Pokemon, and she seemed to enjoy watching Cruella and Darth practice. Fantina hoped that Samara would be able to participate, and maybe win, in her first contest soon.

    "Alright, Darth, let's go for a Hypnosis!" Fantina commanded. This wasn't a typical contest move, so hopefully it was something that would wow the judges. This was a strategy she was excited to try out, not just in contests, but in battle too. Darth nodded, and then several pink waves pulsated forward towards the judges; this was something that took quite a bit of time to perfect. It used to put Fantina to sleep, and then they worked on sending the waves forward instead of all around. She watched as the judges and several audience members fell asleep.

    "Okay, now use Nightmare," Fantina said softly. She wasn't sure if these judges, or the audience members, were deep sleepers, so Fantina couldn't take any risks. Darth nodded, and a black mist appeared over the sleeping audience members and judges when he waved a purple, ghostly hand. As soon as Fantina could tell that the effects of Nightmare were taking effect, Fantina whispered her next command, "now use Dream Eater!"

    Darth nodded again and flew over the audience members and judges under Nightmare's effects. He began inhaling, and the dark cloud of mist formed into a red eyed ghost in front of Haunter as he flew back down in front of the judges. Fantina looked around to see the looks of awe on the audience's face, and a smile appeared on her face as she shouted her final command, pointing at the red eyed ghost, "finish it off with Shadow Punch!"

    One of Darth's hands formed a fist, and it launched itself at the red eyed ghost. As soon as Shadow Punch came into contact with the ghost, it fizzled away, and the red eyes disappeared with a pop. The audiences cheers preceded the judges' clapping, and Fantina was barely able to hear the whistle that signified the end of her appeal time.

    It wasn't long before she was back out on the field with her fellow coordinators. There was only one line this time; the contest hadn't taken nearly as long as the first one Fantina had been in four years ago. She later learned that that was a festival, and those were held four times a year in Hearthome City. Despite living near the city her whole life, Fantina hadn't learned all the ropes about contests until after her first one. A lot of her information came from Marley, but after that first contest, she started speaking to more of the contest regulars.

    "Our winner, with an appeal score of one hundred and eight, making a combined score of two hundred and fifteen is..." Dexter's speech was interrupted by the start of a makeshift drumroll in the stands. Even the cheering had started before the winner was even announced. "Fantina Caspini!"

    *****

    Fantina's second contest win would come about half a year later with the help of Samara the Misdreavus. Cruella was a prideful balloon, and she was still being bitter about her loss, not to mention she was jealous that Darth had won a contest before her. Fantina was hoping that Samara's contest win was going to be enough for Cruella to try a second contest.

    But enough on Cruella the Drifloon's jealousy. Today was Samara's time to shine. The Misdreavus had grown a lot after seeing Darth's successful contest run, and it definitely showed in today's contest. She scored a fifty-six in her visual portion, and she earned a forty-five in her dance portion due to the fact that she missed a couple steps. Still, a hundred and one for a combined total wasn't too bad. Fantina felt bad about being the top participant in today's contest; all of the participants were rookies, and there were a handful of people that were seasoned veterans like herself. She considered purposely doing very bad in her appeal portion just to allow someone else to win.

    Fantina shook her head at that thought. No, she wasn't going to let those other seasoned veterans win. They'd take their trophy and run off, rubbing it in everyone's face. She'd seen them do it before. Fantina just couldn't allow them to do that to these new coordinators. No, she'd win that trophy and then go on to help those new coordinators. One day, they'd be in her shoes, winning contests and showing those seasoned veterans who's boss.

    When it was finally Fantina's turn for her appeal, she stepped out onto the field. Dexter, in a blue suit with a black tie, didn't even bother to tell her what to do. This was the third time Fantina had faced Dexter and his companions, Keira and Jordan. The judges already knew that Fantina was aware of what she had to do. She tossed a red and white capsule into the air, and in a shower of rainbow sparkles, Samara the Misdreavus appeared in front of the judges.

    "Okay, Samara, start things off with a Shadow Ball," Fantina said calmly. She learned rather quickly that Samara was intimidated by commands that were shouted, so Fantina softened up. She took on a calm and collected demeanor just for this contest. Samara nodded, and the pink jewels around her neck started glowing as a large purple ball appeared in front of her. Fantina grinned as she gave her next command, "now use Psywave, then Confuse Ray."

    The pink jewels around Samara's neck didn't have a chance to stop glowing as several pinkish purple waves were released and floated towards the Shadow Ball. Instead of coming into contact with the ball, the waves started traveling around it. Her second attack, Confuse Ray, was a simple, small purple ball that orbited around the much larger ball on the waves surrounding it.

    "Finish it up with Astonish, Samara," Fantina said as the audience started 'ooh'ing and 'ahh'ing. When they'd first started working on this part of their appeal, Samara was nervous. She didn't want to get hurt by her own attacks, but Fantina reassured the Ghost type Pokemon that wouldn't happen. Fantina had used that technique with Cruella before, and the balloon-like Pokemon had come out unharmed. Today, Samara flew into it without hesitation and watched as purple and pink spheres fell from the sky, disappearing as they came into contact with the ground beneath her small, ghost-like body. They gave a bow, something Samara also enjoyed doing at the end of her appeal, and walked back into the waiting room.

    Though she didn't want to show it, Fantina was actually a little nervous about Samara's appeal. The appeals from other seasoned veterans had made her nervous, and the last thing she wanted to see was the disappointment in Samara's pink eyes. The scores were being announced now, and Fantina was grateful that her name had yet to be called. They always announced the scores of those that weren't in the top three in some random order first, then the scores of third place, second place, and finally, first place.

    "In third place, with an appeal score of ninety-nine, and a total score of one hundred and eighty-five is Louisa Fairweather!" Dexter announced. He paused for a moment to allow the audience to give their applause for Louisa, a brunette girl who had been in contests previously; Fantina couldn't help but notice how much she'd improved since their last contest together. Dexter spoke again after the audience fell silent, "in second place, with an appeal score of one hundred and six, and a total score of two hundred even is Harvey Smith!"

    The applause started up again as a green haired boy frowned. He seemed to be shooting evil looks at Fantina, and a frown was on his face. Fantina, meanwhile, was ignoring Harvey's evil looks. She was the last score to be called, and she was practically bouncing on her feet now that she knew what was about to happen. Dexter confirmed her thoughts when he spoke again, "and in first place, with an appeal score of one hundred and ten, bringing their total score to two hundred and eleven is Fantina Caspini!"

    *****

    Fantina sighed as she left the contest hall. Today's contest had been relatively boring; there wasn't much that had wowed her. Maybe it was because she'd already participated in a couple contests and watched so many of them in her twenty-two years of life already that she knew what to expect. She wished she could go around the world like some of the other coordinators did, but no, she was her in Hearthome City.

    Twenty-two year old Fantina wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do with her life yet. Contests were exciting, yes, and so were battles. There had been rumors going around the city that Chandice, the current Hearthome City gym leader, was looking for someone to take over the gym. That excited Fantina; being a gym leader would be interesting. She'd be able to take on numerous challengers and meet trainers from around the world. There was just one question: was Fantina Caspini good enough to be a gym leader?

    "Miss Caspini!" an older, feminine voice called just as Fantina was about to enter the cafe. Fantina turned to see an old woman dressed in varying shades of purple; a black belt was around her waist, and three Poke Balls were on it. "May I talk to you for a second?"

    "Um, sure," Fantina replied simply. She took a seat in one of the black metal chairs outside of the cafe and invited the old woman to join her. Chandice wasn't that old, maybe in her fifties, and her vibrant blue hair was only just starting to turn grey.

    "I'm sure you've heard the rumors about how I'm looking for a replacement," Chandice said as she sat down across from Fantina. The young adult could only nod her head; she wasn't one hundred percent sure what was about to happen here, but she was a little nervous. "Yes, well, I've heard about your love for Ghost types, and I'd like for you to replace me."

    Had Fantina been drinking something, she would have done a spit take. Her? Be the new gym leader of Hearthome City? Sure, she had the love for Ghost types like Chandice did, but battling skills? That was definitely a no. Fantina hadn't battled in years... not since she finished her schooling, and that was about four or five years ago. There was no way she'd be able to take charge of Hearthome City gym.

    "I'd like to challenge you to a battle right now, just to test your skills. If you do well, I'd like to take you under my wing. I figure you should learn the ropes before you get stuck with a gym," Chandice said, snapping Fantina out of her thoughs. Now that sounded a bit better... she'd get the practice and training she needed from the current gym leader before she took charge of it herself. As a little girl, she sort of looked up to Chandice, and Fantina was always in awe about how good she was with Ghost type Pokemon. Being able to train under someone she'd looked up to as a child was exciting.

    "Okay!" Fantina said excitedly, jumping up from her seat. If there was one thing she knew would be happening in this battle, it would be intense; Ghost types were weak to each other, and if Fantina was lucky, she'd be able to win this battle. She tossed a Poke Ball into the air, and in a flash of white light, Samara the Misdreavus appeared in front of her. Fantina removed the seals from her Pokemon's Poke Balls outside of contests. Chandice released a black, ragdoll-like Pokemon with red eyes and a golden zipper for a mouth.

    "Banette, use Will-o-Wisp, and then follow up with Hex," Chandice commanded calmly as she stood up. Fantina frowned; she didn't want Samara to get burned early on, and Hex would deal some major damage to the Misdreavus if she did get burned.

    "Samara, use Confuse Ray, and then hit him with a Shadow Ball! If he hits you with Hex, hit him with Payback!" Fantina said excitedly. Samara looked a little nervous at first; she was intimidated by the much stronger Banette, and she was scared that she'd mess up the three commands that Fantina had given her. The Misdreavus looked back at her trainer before releasing the Confuse Ray that thankfully allowed the little ball of fire to miss. Samara perked up at that, and she launched a Shadow Ball just in time to hit Banette in the face with it, causing him to miss hitting Samara with Hex. But the Misdreavus didn't stop there; she went on to hit Banette with Payback, which didn't deal as much damage as it would have if Banette hit Samara with Hex. Fantina resisted the urge to frown, and she made a mental note to not give her Misdreavus more than two commands at once.

    "Try a Shadow Sneak, Banette, and if that works, get it with Will-o-Wisp and Hex," Chandice told her Pokemon. Despite being dazed, Banette nodded and disappeared.

    "Samara, keep an eye out for that Banette, and when he shows up to hit you, get him with another Shadow Ball! Then, get him with a Psywave!" Fantina shouted. In her excitement, she'd forgotten that she needed to issue commands calmly to Samara, and the Misdreavus was looking around frantically for the Banette, not even bothering to prepare a Shadow Ball. The jewels around her neck were glowing, however, and when Banette hit her with Shadow Sneak, a large pink wave pulsated from them, hitting the Banette. Fantina frowned; that wasn't how she wanted that to go, and now her Misdreavus was about to be knocked out.

    "Finish it off," Chandice said, and Banette didn't hesitate in letting the little ball of fire go. It circled around Samara for a moment before being absorbed by her small ghost-like body.

    "Hit it with Payback!" Fantina shouted, but she was too late. By the time the words escaped her mouth, Samara let out a shriek before closing her eyes. Fantina frowned; one of her three Pokemon was down, and as far as she was aware, Samara hadn't even made a dent in Banette's health. She returned the Misdreavus to her Poke Ball in a flash of red light, and her second Pokemon, Cruella the Drifloon, appeared in a flash of white light. Fantina didn't waste any time in giving Cruella her first command; she shouted, "use Calm Mind, and then get that Banette with a Shadow Ball!"

    Fantina had made a special trip to Veilstone City to buy some technical machines for her Pokemon about a week ago. Each of her Pokemon got three technical machines; Calm Mind was one of the three that she'd given to Cruella. The other two were Toxic and Thunder Wave; Fantina figured they would be quite useful on tough and fast opponents, respectively.

    "Use Curse, Banette, and then hit it with Sucker Punch," Chandice told her Pokemon. Banette nodded before a nail went through his ghost-like body. Cruella had a blue aura appear around her, but it quickly faded away as she shuddered. Banette had just placed a curse on Cruella, and Fantina knew she'd need to get this Banette out of action before it was too late. She at least wanted to knock out one of Chandice's Pokemon, even if it took the combined efforts of all three of her Pokemon to do it. At least Cruella had gotten the effects from Calm Mind in, a raised Special Attack and Special Defense.

    The Shadow Ball hit Banette, but Cruella was hit by Sucker Punch not long after. Fantina resisted the urge to grin. Now that Fantina thought about it, her Drifloon had the Aftermath ability. If this Banette knocked her Drifloon out with a Physical type attack, he would be taking some damage himself. She'd just have to lure him into doing just that.

    "Okay, Cruella, use Ominous Wind, and follow it up with Shadow Ball!" Fantina said. Chandice shook her head, and Fantina frowned. What did Chandice have up her sleeve?

    "Banette, use Night Shade," Chandice said calmly. Fantina was worried now; had Chandice seen through Fantina's plan already? Banette allowed himself to get hit by Ominous Wind, and Cruella didn't receive any of the boosts from it. As Cruella was preparing to launch a Shadow Ball at Banette, darkness surrounded her.

    "Cruella, stop!" Fantina screamed, her voice cracking. She heard Cruella curiously call out the name of her species, but seconds later, she shrieked. An explosion was heard, and a cloud of smoke appeared as the darkness faded away. When the smoke cleared, Cruella was laying on the ground, deflated and her black eyes closed. Fantina growled as she returned Cruella to her Poke Ball, and she held Darth's Poke Ball in her hand for a moment.

    "Darth, I believe in you! Come on out and use a Shadow Punch of your own!" Fantina commanded. As soon as Darth the Haunter appeared in a flash of white light, he was off, quickly floating towards Banette.

    "Use Sucker Punch once he hits you," Chandice said.

    "Dark Pulse to get away from it once you hit him!" Fantina shouted. As soon as that command left her mouth, Darth slammed a ghostly fist into the Banette. The Marionet Pokemon tried to recover quickly, but he failed as he was knocked back by Haunter's Dark Pulse. Sucker Punch failed to land as Dark Pulse did exactly what Fantina had intended for it to do. She shouted her next command before Chandice and Banette would have a chance to come back. "Shadow Ball!"

    "Night Shade, and then finish him off with a Shadow Ball of your own, Banette," Chandice calmly stated. Fantina held her breath as she watched Darth's Shadow Ball fly towards Banette just as the darkness started to surround the Haunter. That darkness disappeared just as quickly as it came; Banette had fallen to the ground after that last Shadow Ball hit him. Chandice shrugged it off and returned Banette to his Poke Ball. "You did good, Banette. Dusknoir, you'll have to finish this up."

    In a flash of white light, a grey ghost with yellow zig zags and silver shoulder plates appeared in front of Chandice. A single red eye peeked through the silver plates, and there were two yellow eyes on the grey part of his body. A mouth outlined in yellow was wide open. Fantina frowned; this Dusknoir was much more powerful than her Haunter. There was no way she'd be able to finish it off, and even if she did, Darth would still have to face Chandice's last Pokemon.

    "Darth, use Thunder!" Fantina commanded. This was one of the three technical machines she'd taught Darth the Haunter. The other two were Poison Jab and Energy Ball, but she doubted he'd even get the chance to try those two out in battle any time soon.

    "Shadow Punch, and use Disable on that Thunder," Chandice stated. The good thing about Dusknoir was that it was slow, and Darth was able to precisely land a powerful bolt of lightning on the Ghost typed Pokemon. As Dusknoir ran towards the Haunter, all three of his eyes flashed, and Darth had a dazed look on his face. He shook his head, but he was hit by a powerful Shadow Punch that slammed him into the ground. Darth never got back up as that Shadow Punch had knocked him out.

    "You need to keep your emotions in check when battling," Chandice told Fantina as she returned the unconscious Darth to his Poke Ball. The gym leader paused to return her Dusknoir to his Poke Ball. "However, I see potential in you. Come by the gym tomorrow, and we'll talk."

    *****

    Over the course of the past few weeks, Fantina's battling skills had improved significantly. The day after Fantina had first battled Chandice, the gym leader had allowed Fantina to come in and watch battles between herself and the challengers. She hadn't gotten to rematch Chandice yet, but she'd been able to challenge some of the trainers that worked at the gym. Fantina trained with them daily, and on weekends, she'd train with some of the coordinators that also doubled as trainers out to get all eight badges in the Sinnoh region. It gave her a chance to battle Pokemon that weren't of the Ghost type, because that was all that Chandice and the trainers in her gym had. Fantina knew that she wouldn't be challenged with just Ghost types; trainers were creative, especially the ones that were also coordinators.

    Fantina was grateful for the practice. She even got some pointers from the judges; she had grown close to them since her second contest win several years ago. A sigh escaped Fantina as she walked out of the contest hall. It had been a long day of battling and watching contests, and she was exhausted. She was ready to head back to the home she shared with her aging parents and get some sleep. A young woman like Fantina valued the sleep she got.

    "Hey!" a male voice called out. "Caspini!"

    Fantina turned slowly. She'd never really been called just Caspini before. People usually either called her Miss Caspini or Fantina, but never just Caspini. Still, there was no sense in being rude, so she spoke, "yes?"

    "I wanna challenge Hearthome City Gym!" the green haired boy shouted. Fantina raised an eyebrow. Didn't this kid know what time it was? "You recognize me, don't you? You and your stupid Misdreavus beat me in a contest eight years ago! I'm Harvey Smith!"

    The purple haired young woman nodded slowly. She vaguely remembered this Harvey boy that was shouting at her. Fantina blinked... wait a minute. Didn't he just say he wanted to challenge Hearthome City's gym?

    "Oh... you said you wanted to challenge Hearthome City gym, didn't you?" Fantina asked. The boy nodded his head, a little more vigorously than Fantina was comfortable with. She kept her mouth shut though; this kid had a bit of a temper. "Well, I don't have the gym just yet. If you wanted to challenge the current gym leader, I'm sure she'd be happy to take your challenge in the morning."

    "Then I'll just practice on you before I challenge old lady Chandice!" Harvey shouted. Fantina was about to object, but an electric mouse she knew to be a Raichu appeared in front of the boy. She'd seen a Raichu before since Marley owned one as well. Fantina knew that it was an Electric type... she shook her head. She didn't even want to battle right now. "Come on! Send your Ghosts out so I can crush 'em, Caspini!"

    "Okay, fine," Fantina sighed. She took a Poke Ball off of her belt and lazily tossed it into the air. Darth the Haunter appeared in front of her. Yawning, she gave Darth his first command, "Hidden Power, please."

    "Thunder!" Harvey shouted, pointing at the Haunter. Darth moved to the side to avoid the powerful bolt of lightning that fell from the sky and crashed into the ground, and seconds later, he released three light brown orbs that hit Raichu. The electric mouse squeaked loudly. Fantina was lucky; Chandice had taught all three of her Pokemon the technical move Hidden Power. The type was random, and she was grateful that Darth had gotten a Ground type Hidden Power. It would be very useful in finishing off this Raichu quickly so that she could go home and sleep. Harvey's shouting would also probably keep her awake long enough for her to get home; the kid shouted his next move, "Raichu, keep using Thunder until you hit the stupid ghost!"

    "I guess you can keep using Hidden Power, Darth. Just be careful, and avoid Thunder as best as you can," Fantina said with a shrug. She yawned again as she watched her Haunter avoid the falling lightning strikes with ease. Some were narrow misses, but others were complete misses. And then Darth got caught up in an explosion that made Fantina jump. "Darth!"

    Darth groaned the name of his species and shook his head. The explosion had dazed him, but he wasn't out yet. That Raichu was, though, as Harvey was returning him to his Poke Ball. Fantina let out a sigh of relief; she was glad that Darth was okay.

    "Charizard, get that stupid ghost with a Flamethrower!" Harvey shouted. Fantina shrugged; she knew how to get rid of this guy quickly.

    "Darth, come on back. If I need you again, I'll let you come back out. Let Samara have a turn," Fantina said with a yawn. Darth was absorbed back into his Poke Ball in a flash of red light, and Samara the Misdreavus appeared in a flash of white light. She appeared in a place that allowed her to avoid the Flamethrower unleashed by the orange dragon-like Pokemon, and she looked as if she were ready to battle. Fantina gave Samara her first command, "Hidden Power."

    "Flamethrower!" Harvey screamed. Fantina shook her head as she watched three dark brown orbs hit the Charizard, causing him to breathe flames into the air. Harvey screamed a long line of commands at the Charizard next, "Flamethrower it! Dragon Claw it! Metal Claw it! Shadow Claw it! Do whatever you have to in order to get that ghost down!"

    "Two more Hidden Powers should do the trick, Samara. Dodge that Flamethrower as well," Fantina said calmly. Though Samara had grown used to forceful commands from her trainer, Fantina was much too tired to actually give forceful commands. Samara released two more sets of dark brown orbs from the glowing pink jewels around her neck, one before Flamethrower was unleashed and again afterwards. Both came into contact with the Charizard, and Fantina yawned as she watched Harvey return him and release his final Pokemon.

    "Pidgeot, use Hurricane!" Harvey shouted. Fantina sighed... she could just let Samara finish this battle up. Her Rock typed Hidden Power would take out that Pidgeot just as quickly as the Misdreavus took out the Charizard before it, and just as quickly as Darth had taken out the Raichu before that. Samara also had Thunderbolt and Will-o-Wisp in her arsenal if things got too rough.

    "Just keep using Hidden Power, and close your eyes so that you don't get confused from that Hurricane," Fantina said as she closed her eyes. She'd learned that Hurricane had a relatively high chance of confusing other Pokemon. Samara closed her eyes and aimlessly launched dark brown orbs at the cream feathered bird. Fantina could feel her purple hair whipping around her face. "Throw in a Thunderbolt too!"

    A bolt of lightning, this one much weaker than the Thunder that had been used earlier in the battle, struck the Pidgeot, and the gale force winds ceased. Fantina and Samara opened their eyes. The Pidgeot was still standing, but she wasn't flying up in the air.

    "Roost, and then Air Slash!" Harvey shouted.

    "Get it with a Thunderbolt, then a Hidden Power to finish it off," Fantina said. She could see the cream feathered bird with his red and yellow mane starting to glow white. Roost would restore half of Pidgeot's health... or rather, it would have if the bird wasn't squawking because of the fact that she had been hit by Thunderbolt. The Hidden Power finished the bird off. Fantina returned Samara to her Poke Ball and spoke as she was walking away, "good night, Harvey."

    *****

    Fantina sighed as she finished tying her hair up into four pony tails. These four pony tails formed an X, similar to what was on her Drifloon. It had taken a lot of hairspray for her purple locks to stay in this shape, and she hoped it would stay until she washed it all out tonight. It took her a good three hours to get her hair the way it was; she would be really upset if anything happened to it before the gallons of hairspray got washed out.

    Her outfit today was a purple ball gown with sparkles and a yellow X that was situated on her left hip; that X brought together some of the dress' fabric to give it a ruffled look. The dress fell to her ankles, so her purple high heels were visible beneath the hem of the dress. Pale lavender gloves that went to her elbows covered her hands and arm, and a pair of silver earrings that dangled and sparkled in the light hung from her ears.

    She picked up a red and white capsule from her nightstand and held it in her hands. Fantina took a moment to gaze around her room. It was here that she received her very first Pokemon seventeen years ago. She couldn't help but think about just how quickly time had flown by. It felt like just yesterday she'd received her first Pokemon, and now she was participating in her fourth contest, her second with Cruella the Drifloon.

    Yes, finally. After twelve years of stubbornness and growing stronger, Cruella was finally ready to participate in her second contest. She'd watched Darth the Haunter and Samara the Misdreavus win their own contests, and now it was time for her to win one. Unknown to Fantina, Cruella intended to fight to the very end to win her contest today. The balloon Pokemon, in addition to Fantina's other two Pokemon, were aware that this could be the last contest they'd get to participate in for a while. If Fantina earned that gym leader position from Chandice, her free time would be halved. She'd have to focus more on the gym, and that was probably the only thing she wasn't looking forward to.

    That was something she could worry about later though. Right now, she needed to focus on this contest. She couldn't allow her upcoming battle with Chandice to get to her. Fantina wasn't sure how Cruella would react if she lost another contest, but the young trainer didn't want to find out. For her Pokemon's sake, Fantina would need to keep her eyes on that trophy.

    Today's contest reminded Fantina so much of her first one twelve years ago. That one had been a festival, so everyone had been divided into two groups; today's contest was just like that, and Fantina was back in Group B. The visual portion had the same theme as her first contest, which was colorful, so Fantina went with her initial rainbow theme with some minor tweaks. Instead of a forest scene, she went with a more jolly scene. That gave her a total of fifty-seven points. Cruella and Fantina changed up their dance routine, which probably got the most changes out of everything in this contest, and that ended up being something happy, playful, and fun. Her dance routine only got her fifty-two points, and she was presently tied for first place in Group B with Yesenia Harold; both had one hundred and nine points. Fantina knew that in order to take the victory for Group B and face the winner of Group A, she'd need a near perfect score on her appeal.

    Fantina stepped out onto the field and faced Dexter, Keira, and Jordan for the fourth time. She didn't waste any time in releasing Cruella, who appeared in a shower of rainbow sparkles. Fantina spoke as soon as the sparkles around Cruella disappeared, "Shadow Ball!"

    This was a technique from Fantina's first contest, except it had been developed much more so. It was something that she hoped would wow the judges enough to seal her victory in Group B. She watched as her Drifloon formed the Shadow Ball and let it hover in front of her as she floated backwards.

    "Thunder Wave!" Fantina commanded. The yellow hearts on the strings of Cruella's body glowed for a moment, and then two yellow waves of electricity flowed parallel to each other around the Shadow Ball. "Hidden Power!"

    Four maroon orbs of energy surrounded Cruella; the audience was in awe, but the judges were concerned. Cruella's Fighting type Hidden Power orbs moved towards the Shadow Ball surrounded by electricity one by one until they were all orbiting around it like moons orbited a planet.

    "Now finish things up with Thunder!" Fantina said. Cruella nodded, and the yellow hearts glowed again. When the light faded away, a strong bolt of Thunder struck the Shadow Ball, and there was an explosion. The four Hidden Power orbs flew up in the air and formed one large one before breaking off into several smaller orbs that fell to the ground. Upon touching the earthy ground, the orbs disappeared. The audience clapped and cheered, and Fantina even saw the smiles on all three of the judges' faces as she walked back into the waiting room.

    When they were called back out on the field, Fantina listened to each score as it was announced. Though Group A's scores were announced first, she had to know who she had the possibility of facing. It could be anyone. She hoped it was someone who didn't use a Ghost type for this contest; Fantina wanted the extra practice on Pokemon that weren't of Cruella's type before she had her rematch with Chandice. Dexter spoke, announcing the winner, "the winner of Group A, with a total score of two hundred and thirteen, is Marley Louis!"

    Fantina clapped with everyone else and smiled; inside, she was nervous. She was happy for Marley, yes, but what if she had to face her mentor, her tutor, for the championship. She had no idea how Marley battled, and that made her nervous. Marley did bring her Raichu, however, so that was one thing she knew; it just gave her a bit of a disadvantage since Cruella was a Ghost and Flying type.

    "The winner of Group B, with a total of two hundred and ten points, is Fantina Caspini!" Dexter announced. The audience broke out into cheers, and Dexter was forced to continue speaking over them. "Miss Caspini and Miss Louis, please take your places on the field. As for the remainder of our coordinators, you can watch the battle in the waiting room."

    As the remaining coordinators left for the waiting room, Fantina and Marley took their places on opposite sides of the field. Fantina shivered in anticipation for what was about to happen. Her mentor, the person who had helped her so much over the past twelve years, was the person Fantina had to defeat in order to get Cruella's first contest win. Two flashes of light appeared on the field, and Raichu and Cruella appeared in front of their respective trainers.

    "I hope you know I'm not going to go easy on you, Fantina," Marley said before pointing at Cruella. "Thunderbolt!"

    "I wouldn't want you to," Fantina replied. There were a few ways that she could have gone with this, but she wanted this battle to end quickly. She wanted to ensure her victory first though. "Cruella, start this off with a Toxic, then use Stockpile a few times. Dodge that Thunderbolt first though."

    The bolt of lightning narrowly missed Cruella as she lobbed a small purple orb at the Raichu. As the balloon began gathering energy from her surroundings, a purple aura surrounded the mouse. The toxic poison would make Raichu weaker and weaker as time passed by, and that would make things much easier for Cruella; it wouldn't kill the mouse though, which was good. Fantina was sure that Pokemon murder was punishable to the fullest extent of the law in the Hoenn region. A white aura surrounded Cruella as she finished using Stockpile.

    "Calm Mind, and then get it with a Shadow Ball!" Fantina commanded.

    "Use Nasty Plot first, and try Thunder after that," Marley said. Both Pokemon took on a blue aura, Raichu's in addition to the purple one she already had, and when it faded away, they launched their respective attacks at each other. Cruella managed to dodge Thunder, and Shadow Ball barely hit Raichu as a result. Marley didn't waste any time in giving her Pokemon her next command, "combine Agility with Volt Tackle, just like we did in the appeal!"

    Fantina frowned, and then an idea came to her. Cruella knew Hex, and that would deal double damage since her opponent was poisoned. From there, she could launch a Fighting typed Hidden Power and a Ominous Wind combination and cause some major damage... except Hex was a contact move.

    "Cruella, grab it with your strings and throw it off to the side!" Fantina shouted. "Quickly! Before it starts gathering electricity!"

    Cruella quickly flew forward and wrapped her strings around the speedy mouse, but she couldn't get a good enough hold on it to toss it off to the side. Nevertheless, it was being slowed down by Cruella, which was a start. Fantina needed to change her plan of action and fast. "Okay, now get it with Hex!"

    The balloon released her hold on the Raichu, and she attacked it with a dark aura around her body, knocking the mouse off to the side. Marley scowled and shouted her next command at her Pokemon. "Quick Attack, then try Volt Tackle!"

    "Hit it with Hidden Power and Ominous Wind before it strikes, Cruella!" Fantina commanded quickly, speaking almost as soon as Marley finished. Hidden Power worked to Fantina's advantage since it knocked the Raichu away just before it struck Cruella, but Ominous Wind worked against her. Raichu's Volt Tackle struck the balloon as she inhaled, and Cruella cried out as she flew backwards. On the plus side, Raichu was panting now; the toxic poison was really starting to get to her now.

    "Thunder!" Marley shouted.

    "Calm Mind, and then get it with another Shadow Ball to finish it off!" Fantina told her Pokemon. Thunder crashed into Cruella's body, and the balloon cried out again before glowing with a blue aura. When the Shadow Ball slammed into Raichu, the mouse cried out in pain before collapsing to the ground.

    "Raichu is unable to battle! Fantina Caspini wins!" Dexter's voice boomed in the stadium. Fantina couldn't believe her ears. She'd won. She beat Marley. Cruella beat Raichu. They won the contest. Now all three of Fantina Caspini's Pokemon had contest wins on their belts.

    *****

    Fantina trembled nervously as she stepped towards Hearthome City gym. Today was the day she was going to rematch Chandice and possibly take control of the gym. She liked to think she'd grown a lot since the last time she challenged the current gym leader. In their first battle, Chandice swept through Fantina's team like they were nothing.

    That wouldn't be happening today. Fantina and her three Pokemon had spent the previous day training relentlessly. She knew that there would be a look of determination in their eyes as they battled three of Chandice's Pokemon. Cruella the Drifloon, Darth the Gengar, and Samara the Misdreavus would conquer over whatever Pokemon Chandice sent, and they wouldn't give up until they won.

    She let out a deep sigh before knocking on the door. It was in the next room that she'd challenge Chandice for the title of Hearthome City gym leader. Fantina wasn't sure what she'd do if she lost, but it was something that she'd have to figure out later. Her violet eyes were on the prize, and she'd get it one way or another.

    "Welcome back, Fantina," Chandice said as Fantina stepped into the stadium room. Lavender lines painted on the ground made their battlefield; Fantina took her place on the challenger's side, noting that Chandice was already in her small trainer's rectangle. "Are you ready?"

    "As ready as I'll ever be," Fantina said. A thin black ribbon was around her waist; she wore a white lace dress today, and her purple hair was braided down her back. She took a red and white capsule off of the ribbon and tossed it into the air. A ghost with two stubby arms and a pair of stubby legs to match appeared before Fantina; this was Darth the Gengar.

    "I see your Haunter's evolved since the last time I saw you. Let's see how he fares against my Froslass, then. You didn't get to meet her last time," Chandice said as a Pokemon appeared before her in a flash of white light. A female Pokemon in a white dress with a red ribbon tied around her waist said the name of her species as the white light faded. Fantina had her faith in Darth; she'd given each of her Pokemon a few more technical machines before her exhausting training session. She knew that Darth, in addition to Samara and Cruella, would do well against Chandice.

    "Okay, Darth, let's start this off with a Zap Cannon, and then go for a Shadow Ball!" Fantina commanded calmly. She needed to keep her cool in this battle; that was what Chandice had told her after their initial battle. Fantina was not going to start freaking out... not now.

    "Hail, Froslass, and then use Blizzard," Chandice said. Fantina wanted to frown, but she couldn't show her emotions. Not here, not now. Blizzard would definitely hit Darth in the hail; the icy pellets made Blizzard have a higher accuracy that normal. Fantina winced as the first pellets of hail hit her bare skin. Chandice was wearing enough layers of clothing to only have the hail hit her face, and it didn't seem to bother her. Fantina heard Froslass cry out in pain twice, once as Zap Cannon hit and again as Shadow Ball hit the Ice and Ghost type Pokemon... and then she heard Gengar cry out; Blizzard had hit him.

    Fantina would need to hurry up and turn the tables on Froslass and Chandice. The Ice and Ghost type had an advantage in the hail; the snow would camoflague the Froslass, much to the aspiring gym leader's disappointment. It would make this harder, and it would be a little while before the hail disappeared. She glanced up, and her violet eyes widened as she noticed how the roof of the stadium had opened up to reveal the midday sky. Though it was sunny, hail fell the sky and into the stadium. Fantina was always amazed at the abilities Pokemon had, but she'd have time for that later. The hail would weaken Darth, and Fantina wasn't sure how long he'd last.

    "Use Blizzard again, and then hit him with Icy Wind," Chandice calmly commanded. Fantina's eyes lit up; she had an idea, and it was bound to work beautifully.

    "Gengar, go for a Sucker Punch and then a Shadow Ball before she can use Icy Wind!" Fantina shouted to her Ghost type Pokemon. She thought she heard Gengar growl, but Froslass' shrieks overtook any growling Fantina may have heard.

    "Icy Wind while he's still in front of you, and then try Ominous Wind!" Chandice shouted. Fantina allowed herself to smile; she made her opponent lose their cool. These were conditions that Chandice wasn't used to. Fantina assumed that Chandice used Froslass and hail to turn the tables when she was losing. It was a nice strategy, and Fantina was proud of herself for turning it against the current gym leader.

    "Hit her with another Sucker Punch, and let's finish things up with a Fire Punch," Fantina called to Darth calmly. Froslass shrieked again as she was hit with a second Sucker Punch; she didn't hear anything from Darth as he was hit by Ominous Wind. Instead, she heard Froslass' shrieks again after being hit by Fire Punch. The hail was thick, but it was thin enough for Fantina to see the light provided by Fire Punch. It was a brief light, but it was enough for the trainers to get a relative idea of their Pokemon's positions.

    "Hit him with Ominous Wind while you still can!" Chandice called to her Froslass as calmly as she could. The current gym leader wanted to try and get her upper hand back before it was too late, but Fantina was sure she had the advantage now... but now also wasn't the time to get overconfident either. That would lead to her downfall if she allowed Chandice to take advantage of it.

    "Sucker Punch," Fantina simply called. The hail was starting to diminish a bit now. A glance up at the ceiling told Fantina that the ceiling closed over time; it was like the hail had a timer on it, and after a certain amount of time, it just stopped falling. But right now, that hail was falling, and eventually that timer would come to a stop... Fantina would have to maintain the upper hand before the timer stopped.

    "Froslass! Froslass?" Chandice called out to her Pokemon, squinting to find her Pokemon. She was able to make out the shape of her Froslass amongst the hail, and she could see that it was laying on the ground. Darth's Sucker Punch had finally knocked it out. The hail would continue to fall, even as Chandice returned the unconscious Froslass to her Poke Ball and released something that looked like a silhouette of a Banette, but time was ticking away. Fantina would have to weaken this Banette while she still could. Once that hail went away, there was no bringing it back. When Chandice gave out her first command to this new Pokemon, Fantina's suspicions were confirmed. "Banette, use Shadow Sneak and finish him off with Night Shade!"

    "Quickly, Darth, go for a Shadow Ball and Sucker Punch!" Fantina commanded. There was a loud boom that created a cloud of smoke in the stadium. The roof was still open, so the smoke would get out that way over time... at least until the roof closed. The smoke was too dark for Fantina to see where her Pokemon was, but she could hear them shout the names of their species. A loud bang indicated that the roof had closed. Fantina looked up at it and frowned; she needed to think of something before Chandice found a way to take advantage of the smoke.

    "Will-o-Wisp, and once he's burned, finish him off with Hex!" Chandice shouted. Burn... fire... smoke... Fantina gazed at the cloud of smoke that was starting to thin out, and an idea came to her. Just because the pellets of hail had stopped hitting herself, Chandice, and their Pokemon didn't mean the weather had to stop altogether.

    "Darth, hit him with Confuse Ray!" Fantina called out to her Gengar. "Then use Rain Dance and Thunder!"

    Fantina wasn't quite sure what had happened before the smoke got mixed in with steam. All she knew was that Will-o-Wisp had hit Darth, but the burn had been mended when the roof of the stadium opened back up and soothed the burns on her Gengar's purple body. A powerful bolt of lightning struck inside the cloud of smoke and steam, knocking Gengar and Banette out of it. It was at this point that Fantina could see that Darth's Confuse Ray had worked, much to the purple haired woman's pleasure. Her plan was working beautifully thus far, and she was ever so grateful for that. She wasn't so happy that her clothes would now be soaking wet, but that was a problem that could be dealt with later. There were more important issues to focus on at this moment in time.

    "One more Thunder!" Fantina shouted. She could see that both Pokemon were clearly weakened. The hail combined with the earlier explosion that created the cloud of smoke and the lightning bolt that knocked them out of said smoke cloud must have done the trick. Still, knocking out two of Chandice's Pokemon with one of her own would be good enough for Fantina. It would definitely give her the advantage she wanted.

    "Hex!" Chandice shouted. Fantina's violet eyes widened as she watched a second powerful bolt of lightning strike Banette. Except it didn't slow the Ghost type down. Instead, Banette continued to fly towards Gengar and eventually crashed into Darth. Fantina let out a gasp as she watched Gengar fall to the ground. Banette surviving that attack wasn't part of her plan. No, Gengar and Banette were supposed to faint together... but they didn't. Fantina frowned as she returned Darth to his Poke Ball.

    "You did good, buddy. Nice work," Fantina mumbled as she put Darth's Poke Ball back in its rightful place and took a second red and white capsule off of her belt. "Samara, let's see what you can do!"

    The Misdreavus appeared on the field before Fantina. The new Ghost type didn't seem bothered by the rain that continued to fall from the sky. She did, however, appear nervous facing this Banette. The grey ragdoll-like Pokemon had brought on Samara's defeat last time Fantina and Chandice battled, and the Misdreavus feared it would happen again.

    "Samara, try Psychic, and then Charge Beam!" Fantina commanded.

    "Will-o-Wisp and Hex!" Chandice shouted. Fantina frowned. She'd never seen anyone use Will-o-Wisp in the rain before. She was nervous; she didn't want to see Samara get burned. That would work against her plans, and Fantina didn't want her opponent to get the upper hand, not after she'd so skillfully earned it.

    A small smile appeared on Fantina's face as the little ball of fire was knocked off course by Samara's Psychic, and the rain eventually put it out of its misery. Unfortunately, Psychic hadn't done anything to stop Banette from launching himself at Samara, who had a yellow orb of electricity that was increasing in size in front of her. Charge Beam was launched once Banette was close enough, and the ragdoll Pokemon shouted the name of his species as he retreated back to Chandice. How this Banette was still up was beyond Fantina, but she did know that it needed to go down soon. She also knew that there would be no Fire type attacks any time soon; the rain would put a stop to them before they hit anything.

    "Try using Shadow Ball, then Hex!" Chandice commanded, her voice unintentionally rising an octave. Fantina allowed her smile to get a little bigger; she'd put Chandice in a rough place, and she was grateful for that. She just hoped that she wouldn't allow herself to get overconfident.

    "Let the Shadow Ball hit you, Samara!" Fantina shouted. Chandice raised an eyebrow and watched as the Misdreavus was hit by the shadowy orb; a red aura briefly surrounded Samara, indicating that her Special Defense had been lowered. As Banette flew towards Samara, ready to strike again with Hex, Fantina gave her next commands. "Go for a Confuse Ray, then another Charge Beam!"

    Samara's pink eyes glowed as she stared at the Banette that was racing towards her. What happened next made Chandice gasp. Banette suddenly flew towards the ground and crashed into it. As the Ghost type recovered, Samara took the opportunity to prepare Charge Beam and launch it at the ragdoll-like Pokemon. Banette shrieked before fading away and reappearing by Chandice; Samara took her place near Fantina.

    Fantina screamed. She had seen Chandice whispering to Banette, but she hadn't expected anything out of it. Instead, the severely weakened Banette launched a Shadow Ball at Samara that knocked the Misdreavus out. Fantina gasped as she gazed at her unconscious Pokemon. She scowled, returning Samara to her Poke Ball.

    "Don't worry, Samara. We'll finish that Banette off and win this," Fantina said. She released Cruella the Drifloon, and her scowl turned into a smile. Cruella had been with her since the very beginning. Cruella was her first Pokemon, and Fantina knew that the balloon-like Pokemon would lead her to victory.

    "Will-o-Wisp!" Chandice commanded. Now that the gym leader had regained control of the situation, she regained control of her emotions as well. Fantina had been overconfident earlier, thinking she'd easily beat Chandice, but she was wrong. The gym leader was smart, but Fantina would have to be smarter.

    "Ominous Wind! Blow that little fireball back to Banette!" Fantina shouted. Cruella didn't waste any time in blowing the little ball of fire back to the owner of it. Not only was Banette burned by his own attack, but the rancid wind from Cruella made ragdoll pass out. Fantina looked up as Chandice released her final Pokemon, a Dusknoir. The roof had closed some time ago, and the rain ceased to exist in the stadium. It didn't matter though. Both of them were on their last Pokemon.

    "Start things off with a Toxic, and then use Calm Mind and Amnesia!" Fantina shouted.

    "Will-o-Wisp!" Chandice commanded. The purple orb from Cruella passed over the firey orb from Dusknoir, but both orbs struck their targets. Fantina seemed unfazed, and Cruella's emotions seemed to match those of her trainer's. Cruella took on a strong blue aura that faded away as quickly as it came. The Special Attack boost would help in the long run, and the Special Defense boosts would buy her some time. Chandice shouted, "Confuse Ray!"

    "Close your eyes, Cruella!" Fantina screamed, her voice cracking. The balloon closed her small black eyes as the three eyes on Dusknoir widened; Confuse Ray wouldn't affect Cruella now. "Now use Stockpile!"

    The white energy that Cruella was gathering would raise her defenses even more, buying Fantina the time she'd need to think of something. Not to mention it would allow the toxic poison to get into Dusknoir's system. Stalling would give Fantina time to think of a game plan. Dusknoir was a tough Pokemon, and she was hoping that Cruella would be able to take the challenge, even if she was burned.

    "Let's try a Shadow Ball!" Fantina commanded.

    "Shadow Punch," Chandice said calmly. It was like she wasn't even worried about what could happen... or she was trying to unnerve Fantina. She wouldn't allow that to happen though. She allowed her overconfidence to get to her, and that led to this situation. Nothing was going to lead to her loss. Not now. She worked too hard for this to just let it fall to pieces. The Shadow Ball hit Dusknoir's fist as he flew towards Cruella, and it slowed him down a bit.

    "Get under him and use Hex!" Fantina shouted. The balloon swiftly moved to the side and slammed into Dusknoir's body, knocking him back. Fantina grinned, grateful for the fact that Cruella hadn't evolved into a Drifblim yet. She scraped against Dusknoir's fist when going for a Hex, but it would've been a lot worse if Cruella was a larger balloon. Dusknoir roared as he floated back to Chandice; he was breathing heavily now, and Fantina knew that this would be ending soon. He wouldn't be able to take much more with the poison starting to infect his body.

    But as Dusknoir got weaker, Cruella did too. She was also starting to breathe heavily, but not nearly as heavy as Dusknoir. Fantina needed to end this quickly. The longer she stalled this out now, the more her chances of winning dropped.

    "Cruella, use Calm Mind, and let's try to finish this off with Shadow Ball!" Fantina commanded.

    "Dusknoir, use Shadow Sneak, and then finish that balloon off with ThunderPunch," Chandice said. Cruella took on a blue aura for a moment and closed her eyes as the Shadow Ball formed in front of her. Fantina wasn't quite sure what Cruella was doing, but whatever it was, Fantina hoped it would be enough for her to win the battle. If Cruella fainted, it was all over.

    "DUSKNOIR~!!" the Ghost type Pokemon roared as he was suddenly hit by Shadow Ball. He had reappeared behind Cruella, ready to strike, when the Drifloon spun around and struck him with the Shadow Ball she'd been preparing. The larger Ghost type crashed to the ground, creating a cloud of dust that slowly faded away as time passed.

    "Smart Drifloon you've got there," Chandice commented as she returned Dusknoir to his Poke Ball. The gym leader gasped, and Fantina instantly took on an alarmed expression. Cruella was glowing white now, and she was starting to change form.

    "She's evolving..." Fantina whispered. It had been years since she first received Cruella as a birthday present, and as she watched Gastly evolve into Haunter and later Gengar, Fantina thought Cruella would never evolve. She knew that Misdreavus required a special stone in order to evolve into a Mismagius, but Fantina was happy with her Misdreavus; she wasn't going to go out of her way for that stone. Cruella, on the other hand, evolved through experience... Fantina thought she would've evolved by now, but here she was evolving now.

    A large purple balloon floated before Fantina now. The white cloud that was on top of her head was still there, and that yellow X that made Drifloon's mouth remained as well. Red circular eyes replaced the black oval eyes, and the black strings that had yellow hearts at the end were replaced with four purple ribbons that were yellow at the tip. This was a Drifblim, the evolved form of Drifloon.

    "I should say that's a smart Drifblim you go there," Chandice said with a laugh. Fantina laughed as well; she was happy. Not only had she defeated Chandice, but Cruella had finally evolved.

    "I guess so," Fantina replied, grinning. She returned Cruella to her Poke Ball proudly. Three strong Pokemon made up Fantina's team, and she knew they'd help her defend this gym well.

    "Why don't you go over to the Pokemon Center and get your Pokemon healed, and then I'll talk to you about the gym?" Chandice said, smiling. Fantina nodded, and with a wave, she departed Hearthome City gym.

    Gym Leader Fantina... it had a nice ring to it. In less than half an hour, she'd be taking over for Chandice. She'd be giving away the Relic Badge and the Shadow Claw technical machine. Excitement coursed through Fantina's body as she made her way to the Pokemon Center. She fought so hard to get here today, and today was the day she achieved her goals. Today was the day she became Hearthome City's new gym leader.

    Pokemon: Drifloon
    Character Count: too many 115869
    Author's Note: This story is waaaaaaay too long. I think that the length of this story has sealed my fate in the SWC. xD And there's still like four days before the deadline?! Woo! So here's my entry, and here's to hoping it one day gets graded. xD


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  2. #2
    Virbank Gym Leader WinterVines's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fantina's Balloon [SWC]

    Mine minemineminemine.

    Although the grade is going to have to wait until I finish my own SWC XD. TY for posting it here.
    Felly likes this.
    ChainReaction 6:09 pm
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  3. #3
    Virbank Gym Leader WinterVines's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fantina's Balloon [SWC]

    This has been graded and deleted because it was in SWC, even though the competition is over. I'm not sure if it still needs to be deleted, but I did it anyway! And PM'd to Felly, of course.
    ChainReaction 6:09 pm
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