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TEEN: The Meaning of Power

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Two teenagers from another dimension looking for their father.
A teenager hunting his father from another dimension.
Somehow, they join forces to oppose a newly formed Team Cipher,
fighting new and more powerful Shadow Pokémon and threatening Ultra Beasts.

A new adventure for three renowned tsunderes begins!


***




The Meaning of Power

Rating:

Teen

Genres:
Action / Adventure / Friendship

Features:
• Silver, Gladion and Lillie as protagonists!
• Orre, Shadow Pokémon and Shadow Trainers!
• Double Battles and Pokémon Masters-like matches!
• A Giovanni from another dimension!
• Ho-Oh: all rainbows and sunshine!
• A not-so-friendly original Champion!
• Original universe vs Mega Evolution universe!
• Returning characters and main protagonists!
• (Almost) Every game is relevant in some way: Pokken, Masters, Battle Revolution…


Content Warnings:
Cartoon violence.
Near-death situations.
Sparse mentions of blood.

Mild swearing.

***​

Greetings, folks! Here’s a brand new trainerfic by yours truly! :D

So, what is “The Meaning of Power” about? Well, this story acts as a sequel of both Pokémon Heart Gold / Soul Silver and Pokémon Colosseum / XD, as well as a sequel of Pokémon Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon.

The main protagonist of this story is Silver of HGSS, former thief and jerk rival who aims to become a better Trainer and, more importantly, a better person.

However, things will soon get awry for him when he will get involved in a massive conflict with invaders from Ultra Space, controlled by someone he wishes he never met: Giovanni, but from another dimension.

However, he won’t be alone in his quest (for better or for worse). Two siblings from yet another dimension will cross into Silver’s world, with two main objectives in mind: hunting down the intergalactic Giovanni and finding out what happened to their own father.

With this said, I hope you’ll enjoy this new story. ^^

***​

⦿ Disc 0: “The Monster… Coach and the Rainbow”

“Flashes of Viridian”
“Shining Leaves and Phantoms of the Past”
“Bullies, Athletes and Golden Bonfires” (coming soon)
???

⦿ Disc 1: “Got Lost in Orre”

???
 
Last edited:
Disc 0, Chapter 1: "Flashes of Viridian"
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Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.

Abraham Lincoln


***​


Darkness. There was only cold, wet darkness all around him.

An immense weight had crushed his body and was pushing him further and further toward the abyss. Even if his remaining willpower screamed to react, to get out of that situation, to save himself… he couldn’t.

His mind ringed, blurry and distorted. His forehead throbbed, a red cloud around it. His body was unresponsive, rigid and torn.

A crushing pain pulsated from his entire being, albeit slowly dulling, and his consciousness threatened to leave him at any given moment.

The exhausted lungs burned, on the verge of collapsing…

And then they did. Air went out, water rushed in. His sight blackened and his mind drifted away.

Yes. He knew it. He was dying.

How… How did he end up in that situation…?


***


Disc 0:
The Monster… Coach and the Rainbow!

“Flashes of Viridian”


***​


A few days earlier…


“Nyula, finish it with Ice Punch!”

A dark brown blur and claws cloaked in ice. A swift swipe, followed by a sonorous strike. Then, a dull thump amidst creaky brown leaves.

And just like that, everything ended.

The defeated Spear
Beedrill
— a giant wasp with needles in its arms — buzzed wearily on the floor, its entire body marred by claw marks and covered in icy crystals. Nearby it landed a Nyula
Sneasel
— a brown weasel with a white gem on his forehead and teal feathered tails — who stood pridefully over his opponent with spread out arms. With a quick flick of his paws, the frigid energy surrounding his claws dissipated, and the weasel whistled a cheerful victory cry.

A teenage boy wearing a straw hat stared in disbelief at the barely conscious Spear, flabbergasted and taken aback by the sheer power of his opponents. His entire team… crushed by a lone, frigid weasel.

On the other side stood another boy, his face marked by a bored and unsatisfied expression, who shook off some leaves stuck into his red hair.

“Tch. How pathetic,” the redhead grumbled to himself, before crossing his arms and staring at his opponent. “So, I won. You know what you gotta do now.”

“…R-right…”

Sighing, the straw hat boy pointed a blue sphere with a net-like pattern toward the Spear, who turned into a blob of bright energy and vanished inside its Net Ball. Then, he rummaged into his pocket and produced a few banknotes, which he handed over to the redhead.

“700 Poké. This is all I can offer,” said the straw hat boy with a barely audible voice, before lowering his hat to hide the face. “…I gotta take my Pokémon to the Pokémon Center. Huh… s-see ya…”

Without looking back, the straw hat boy scuttled away and disappeared through the foliage, leaving the redhead alone with his Nyula.

“…Hmph. Tokiwa Forest
Viridian Forest
never changes: always full of weak Bug Catchers training weak bug Pokémon,” scoffed the redhead, shaking his head and pocketing the won money. “I can’t believe there are Trainers who struggle against those kids with those cheap strategies…”

He recalled the shocked stares of all the local Bug Catchers he had faced that day, which Nyula defeated all by himself. They never saw their crushing defeats coming.

“I suppose this is a way to weed out talentless people. Only the strongest and most determined Trainers prosper, after all.”

The redhead studied the surrounding oak trees and shrubs. While for most travelers it would have been a challenge to discern a path from the others (and the perpetual darkness permeating the forest didn’t help), that wasn’t an issue at all for the boy. He knew those woods by heart, having navigated through those dirt paths and viridian trees countless of times as a child.

Two paths merging and heading southwest, close to a patch of damp grass brimming with ever-renewed red mushrooms… yes, the gate for Tokiwa City
Viridian City
was nearby.

“Well, at least we’re about to exit from this forest. Let’s go, Nyula.”

However, the only response he got was silence. He blinked and looked at the spot where his Pokémon stood a few seconds ago — empty. Alarmed by his absence, the redhead peered frantically through the forest.

“Nyula? Nyula!”

Dozens of startled hoos filled the air. Alerted by those cries, the redhead whirled toward the ruckus. What he saw was a flock of dazed Hoho
Hoothoot
— round owls with red eyes — who burst out of the foliage of some yellowing trees, their feathers scattered in brown clouds. Their flight was clumsy and disorganized, as if something dangerous scared them.

The redhead observed the fleeing owls who disappeared into the sky, but shifted his attention back to the ground when he heard a chilly whistle besides him.

Nyula had returned, beaming a mischievous grin and holding a black arrow-shaped feather in his clawed forepaws. The weasel raised his treasure with one paw and held it close to the long turquoise feather on his left ear, before lowering it to his forehead and brushing his gem with the dark feather.

The redhead stared at the weasel in disbelief. Then he sighed, unamused. “…Did you really have to wake up those Hoho and steal that feather, Nyula?”

Nyula squealed and twirled around, waving the stolen feather and his turquoise pupils gleaming with pride. The gesture meant that yes; he had to steal it.

“We shouldn’t steal anymore, remember? We’re supposed to be the ‘good guys’ now. It was hard enough to shake off that ‘Silver the Thief and his Nyula’ title, so let’s not fall back to those bad habits again. Alright?”

Nyula pouted and exhaled a frigid cloud from his nostrils in mild annoyance. He stared at the feather for a long time, unwilling to let go of his treasure. However, he quickly tossed it aside, pretending to have grown bored with it.

Silver rolled his eyes and shook his head, before walking away from that location with Nyula in tow. He knew well that Nyula were natural-born thieves, and it was a strenuous task to teach them that stealing was wrong. So, he couldn’t really fault his Pokémon for behaving like that — the weasel was following his instincts, and needed some more time to learn how to keep them in check.

Nyula, who took things from others for their own benefit. Just like Silver took Waninoko from Dr. Utsugi
Prof. Elm
’s lab…

He frowned, having detected the thinly veiled irony. ‘We aren’t that different in that regard, are we?’

But the redhead shook his head once more, refusing to bring up those memories. He had left that petty and weaker version of himself behind a long time ago, and the professor had forgiven him for stealing the water crocodile. Ordile
Feraligatr
really likes you
, said that man, and he let Silver keep his Pokémon.

The fact stunned the redhead, but he felt genuine joy and gratefulness toward the professor for understanding and allowing him to keep Ordile. He had… grown very attached to his Pokémon — all of them, actually — and didn’t know what he would have done if the professor ordered him to return Ordile or to separate himself from any of his teammates.

After that event, Silver decided to be a true Trainer — no, the best Trainer — and someone who didn’t need to resort to cheap tactics, robberies, and other workarounds to accomplish his goal.

Speaking of goals…

“…One Badge. All it’s left is the Green Earth Badge.” Silver smirked smugly. “The one issued by Green, the second strongest Trainer of all of Kanto.”

Nyula looked at his Trainer with interest. As a battle-hungry Pokémon himself, he was hitching for a genuine challenge. All Trainers faced in the last couple of months had been so weak and predictable. And luckily for him, Silver seemed to have heard his silent request.

“That Green… From what I’ve heard, he’s the grandson of Dr. Ookido
Prof. Oak
, an esteemed researcher known all across the globe,” explained Silver. “A talented and resourceful Trainer, who collected all Badges in Kanto in a little less than a year. Because of this, he became the youngest and fastest Champion of the Kanto region… until that other kid dethroned him, that’s it.”

The weasel tilted his head. That other kid…?

“…Red. He’s the one who defeated Green. Another true prodigy, from what I’ve heard. Hailed as some kind of undefeatable Champion and legendary hero. And…”

Silver paused, and his expression darkened. He knew what to say next, but the words were hard for him to utter. He glanced at his partner, who stared at him in confusion, and took a shuddering breath.

“And Hibiki
Ethan
… defeated Red, a mere week ago…”

To say that Nyula was shocked upon hearing the news would be an understatement. So that annoying, perpetual smiler of a kid, who defeated their team over and over with unnerving ease, had beat one of the strongest Trainers in the entire world. Now that was… impressive.

“Just when I thought to have reached his level… this happens.”

Silver clenched his fists until his knuckles cracked. Just thinking about Hibiki’s skills made him question his own achievements as a Trainer. They both started their journeys the same day and at mere hours of difference. And yet, they were at two entirely different levels, with the harsh truth becoming undeniable when they joined forces against Gym Leader Ibuki
Clair
and former Champion Wataru
Lance
, by the shrine of the Dragon’s Den.

Hibiki’s Pokémon were a veritable force of nature, evenly matching Wataru’s dragons. Even the almighty Kairyu
Dragonite
, that same dragon who cleansed the Team Rocket’s hideout all by himself, could barely withstand the powerful attack that was Bakphoon
Typhlosion
’s Eruption. The blazing wolverine had become so powerful in so little time… how?

Meanwhile, Silver’s Pokémon? They were just powerful enough to handle Ibuki’s dragons. Despite training non-stop at the den and studying the secrets behind the prowess of Dragon-types — which paid off when Ordile learned Dragon Dance — Silver found frustrating that he didn’t progress as much as he wished. He surely wouldn’t have stood a chance in that battle if he didn’t have Hibiki by his side.

Heck… as much as it pained to admit it, he felt like he had dragged his rival down during that battle, instead.

“…What’s his secret? How did he beat a legendary Trainer, of all things?” He scowled at the dirt path. “Can I even… reach that level?”

Silver blinked when he felt a tug at his pant leg. He looked at Nyula, who flailed his arms and squealed aloud.

When the weasel got his Trainer’s attention, he pointed at Silver’s shirt, right where the redhead kept his badges, and cloaked his claws in frost. Then, he swiped at the air in front of him, scattering snowflakes around and freezing the grass underneath him. He dispelled the energy and stared at his Trainer, hoping that his message came through.

Silver stared blankly at Nyula, trying to decipher what his Pokémon was saying. The sharpness of those frigid claws… the icy power that cloaked the grass in frost… the gathered Badges…

Was Nyula trying to cheer him up? Something about his power and the Badges?

The Badges… the power… oh! Of course! Those collectibles were a tangible proof of their strength and progress as a team, weren’t they? They had gathered all Badges in Johto and were about to finish collecting the Badges of Kanto. That wasn’t something that many Trainers could brag about.

A determined glare replaced Silver’s defeated scowl. “…I think I get what you’re trying to say, Nyula. What am I thinking? We shouldn’t give up! Not when we’ve come so far!” He smirked with renewed confidence. “We’ll trounce Green, and then we’ll go after Red!” Silver’s eyes narrowed and his smirk widened, a burning cockiness radiating from his dark red pupils. “And as soon as we’ve dealt with Red… Hibiki will follow! Next time we face off, we’re going to crush him!”

Nyula whistled happily, clicking his claws and showing a determined grin of his own. Now that was the confident and cocky Trainer he knew and respected!

Yes. They were going to become Champions soon. All they needed was more power, and defeating Green was the first step toward achieving that.


***​


“Tokiwa City… It really feels weird to be back home, after all this time.”

Silver walked at a sedate pacing toward the city and glanced behind. The thick forest was just a mix of orange and viridian shades, and the buzzing of insects made way to the buzzing of urban life. He turned back to the city, his gaze lingering on the bright green roofs and the evergreen trees, and sighed.

“It sure brings back memories…”

Nyula stared into his Trainer’s eyes. They seemed brimming with blissful nostalgia… and painful regret. He whistled a brief cry, then a longer one, then he motioned toward the closest houses.

Silver redirected his attention to Nyula, totally at a loss of what his Pokémon said. The houses… what about them? “Hm? Do you want to know about Tokiwa City?”

Nyula shook his head and pointed a claw toward his Trainer, before motioning again toward the houses.

Silver frowned, still confused. “My… home?”

A whistle and a nod were the weasel’s reply.

“Not yet. We need to go to the Gym and get the last badge.” Silver narrowed his eyes. “Better do that sooner rather than later.”

Now it was Nyula’s turn to be confused. While he was used to his Trainer being expeditious and wanting to conclude matters as soon as possible, he could detect a faint urgency in his voice. The weasel considered inquiring about that, but how could he ask such a question to the redhead? Silver had many qualities, but perceptivity wasn’t one of them.

…Except that it wasn’t completely true. Despite the obvious language barrier between them, Silver could tell that there was something in Nyula’s mind, but he didn’t know how to ask the weasel about his thoughts and how to translate the response.

And not being able to understand his Pokémon was beyond frustrating for the redhead. He was trying hard to get to know his Pokémon better; he really put plenty of effort into that! But despite everything, he still struggled to get what his Pokémon said and meant most of the times.

If only there was an easier way to understand his team…



…Whatever, that was an issue for another time. He needed to stay focused. So, without further ado, he resumed his journey. “C’mon, let’s go! The Gym isn’t far from here.”

Silver and Nyula scurried on the paved road leading to the city, passing by a sign placed between two lampposts: “Tokiwa City, the Eternally Green City”.

The redhead raised an eyebrow: a mostly green city with a green gym, controlled by someone named Green who handed out Green Earth Badges… the irony in all of that was palpable.

As soon as they entered the city, something piqued their attention: a maglev train station, swarming with people who entered and exited the imposing white building. Silver stopped underneath the elevated railroad to study it, and noticed some Coil
Magnemite
— one-eyed creatures with magnets and bolts — flocking besides a series of steel beams and generating a constant flow of blue electricity.

All of that was a novelty for Silver. He knew about the Yamabuki
Saffron
Station for Kanto, but didn’t know they had built a station in Tokiwa. When did that happen?

“Things have changed a lot in these past three years, huh…” he mused, before tracing the path of cement and steel with his gaze.

The railroad disappeared among the rocky walls of
Mt. Shirogane]Mt. Silver
, the secluded mountain area brimming with powerful and aggressive Pokémon — like the rock-armored draconic Bangiras
Tyranitar
. Only the strongest and most experienced Trainers could trek into that area because of its infamous dangerousness.

Silver stared pensively at the faraway mountain. It was there where Hibiki faced Red, from what he heard.

He scowled at the distant peak and hailstorms and turned around, not wanting to look at the panorama any longer.

‘Focus! One step at a time. First Green, then Red, then Hibiki!’

Silver marched toward the path by the side of the station, forcing Nyula to quicken his own steps. The redhead and his Pokémon noted a cafeteria collocated besides the ticket booth. Passing by it, they heard happy chatters of travelers and loud chirps of

Onisuzume]Spearow
— common sparrows with red wings.

But above them all sounded the exclamation of a jovial old man, who was complimenting the barmaid for the fantastic coffee with sake. Even though Silver didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the conversation, he could detect a faint tipsy tone in the man’s voice, and the stacked empty cups spoke by themselves.

He raised an eyebrow. ‘Some old man should really lay down on his sake…’ he thought, before redirecting his attention to the road.

After getting through the unusual gathering of people (and making sure Nyula didn’t disappear or try to pickpocket anyone), Silver took a linear and less crowded path, which made him feel more at ease.

Nyula was quick to follow his Trainer, but slowed down momentarily to look at a building on their right. Countless young children gathered around the building, with some of them carrying books under their arms or staging fights with their pet Pokémon — a school, most likely.

“…There it is. The Gym.”

Nyula blinked and stared at his Trainer, then he followed his gaze. Sure enough, he could see the silhouette of the imposing building ahead of them, its copper-colored tiles a stark contrast with the surrounding green roofs. A sign with a stylized half-Poké Ball was placed in the proximities, confirming that what they were seeing was the Gym.

Silver aimed straight to the door, with only a thought in his mind: winning the final badge. His determination was like a raging fire, fueled by his desire to prove himself… but those flames dissipated when he slammed into the automatic door.

“Oww! What—?!”

Silver took a step back and shook his head, earning a concerned cry from Nyula. He dismissed the mild throbbing of his nose and the worried weasel with a swift hand-wave, and took a step forward. Nothing; the door refused to open.

“…the heck? The Gym is closed?”

He checked out the door and found a note: ‘I’m on an important trip and I won’t be available until the next month. Sorry about the inconvenience, Green.’

…Seriously? The Gym Leader was away? And he only left a note behind? Seriously?

Silver growled, infuriated by the news. “You gotta be kidding me! What kind of Gym Leader leaves their Gym as if it was some holiday home?” he grumbled and stared unhappily at the door. “…The previous Gym Leader wouldn’t have done anything like that…”

He froze when he recalled who was the original leader and shook his head.

“Hmph! And of course he had to abandon everything! Only because he was too cowardly to face the fact that a kid defeated him.” He crossed his arms. “How pathetic.”

Silver gave his back to the Gym, and his gaze zeroed on a southern path. “And I can’t even go to Masara Town
Pallet Town
and ask Dr. Ookido where to find his runaway grandson. Last I’ve heard, he’s way more occupied conducting that stupid talk show in Johto than—”

A chilly whistle interrupted his rant, and Silver turned to his Pokémon, who was staring at the door and exhaling a frigid breath on the glass. He could easily infer that the situation disappointed Nyula, if the weasel’s narrowed eyes and twitching claws were any proof.

Silver huffed and shook his head again. “Pah. There’s nothing we can do about it. Let’s just go.”

The duo walked away from the Gym at a much slower pacing, the adrenaline and excitement having waned significantly. They were so close, and yet so far. Who knew when they would have gotten the chance to get the last badge? They had to be patient and wait for Green’s return.

However, what could they do in the meantime?

Silver placed his hands in his pockets; a common posture he took whenever he racked his brains. He didn’t like to just sit around and do nothing productive. So, how could he satisfy his battling needs? He had no simple answer to that, aside from… the Battle Tower in Asagi City
Olivine City
, perhaps?

After Silver busied himself by crafting the vague semblance of plan, he noticed that he and Nyula had reached a quieter area of the city close to the Gym, shrouded by dark foliage and filled with intense scents. He glanced around for any familiar landmark, until he realized where his wandering had taken him — home.

Silver stared uneasily at the house, his gaze darting on every single detail of that forgotten building: the cracked white paint peeling off of the walls, the dust-covered windows and cobwebs, the wild Koratta
Rattata
crawling through the drainpipes…

Even the names on the mailbox had faded away. Nobody had lived there in a very long time.

“…Wow. Things have gone in the gutter, huh…” he murmured ruefully, feeling a swift but strong thug at his heart.

He gazed at the door. It was a miracle it was still standing, since the wood had marks of fangs in some places and the hinges were rusty and bent. But those details didn’t matter much to Silver, as everything around him vanished in a thick haze and his mind traveled back in time…



The door swung open. A tall man with shoulder-length dark hair exited from the house, getting the attention of a nearby Sidon
Rhydon
. The bipedal rhino walked toward him and bent forward, tail thumping on the ground. That action rewarded him with a gentle pat on his head and a crunchy carrot in his jaws.

While Sidon savored the snack, the man diverted his attention from the rocky creature and smiled warmly at a six-year-old Silver.

That was Father. He was the best! The renowned Gym Leader Sakaki, expert of Ground-types and number one Trainer in Kanto. Very few challengers got the Green Earth Badge from him, and his strength as a Trainer was so well known that the Elite Four themselves asked him if he wanted to become one of them some day. That was a great honor!

The man approached Silver and scooped him up in his arms, much to the excitement of the young boy, before returning to his Sidon. Silver stared in awe at the impressive creature, and his Father recounted his latest challenges and victories. While Silver didn’t remember those retellings, the proud and happy tone in his father’s voice was an indelible memory.

Yes. Silver wished to become a great Trainer someday, just like his father. That was his greatest dream…

A white flash, and the door swung open. An elderly woman with long dark hair and red clothes exited from the house: that was Grandma Johanna! She told something to Father in a foreign language — Galarish, as Silver found out later — and while the seven-year-old boy couldn’t understand most of what they were discussing, her harsh tone and his father’s crestfallen expression were a clear sign it wasn’t anything pleasant.

She walked away from the door and glared at the young boy, making him back off in fright, and left the house in a limousine. As soon as the car disappeared on the horizon, Silver looked again at his father.

His expression… he would never forget it.

Father was looking so disgruntled, enraged, perhaps even hopeless. His hands clenched into fists and his mouth twisted into a snarl. Also, there was a darkness in those eyes that the young boy had never seen before.

Sidon stepped forward to comfort his Trainer, but Father stopped him by raising a hand. The message was unmistakable — he needed some space.

What did Grandma tell behind those four walls to upset him so much? If only Silver knew…

A white flash, and the door swung open. Many men wearing dark clothes and with long whips tied to their grey belts exited from the house and saluted Father with respect. They turned to salute the eight-year-old Silver, who stared blankly at them, and promptly left in some black cross-country vehicles.

Silver looked at his father, Sakaki… no. That wasn’t his name anymore. Now his name was Giovanni, a name meant to strike fear into his opponents’ hearts, but Silver found it very cool.

However, something was bothering Father, who had a perpetual scowl on his face and didn’t smile at him or anyone anymore. All he beamed were fake smirks and scripted words, meant to evoke a confidence and intimidation that weren’t his own. His general appearance had changed, too: he only wore black business suits and kept his hair very short. Not even Sidon’s affectionate gestures could cheer him up anymore.

What happened? Father had never behaved like that before…

A white flash, and the door swung open. Father exited from the door, hiding his face with a fedora and carrying a suitcase. He glanced at the dumbstruck ten-year-old Silver, but said nothing. Instead, he just walked away, much to the dismay of his son who ran after him. And then…


“Where are you going, Father? You… aren’t really leaving, are you?”

And yet, here they were. Father was truly leaving, as he didn’t deem himself worthy of his position anymore. Nonsense!

“You told me… you were the number one in the world!”

Acknowledge one defeat… right. As if Father didn’t lose a few times while he worked as a Gym Leader. What was so different about the latest defeat? Was it…? No. Did the entire Team Rocket business and that Trainer have anything to do with all of this?

“Gathering so many only to be defeated by a mere child!”

Father failed, apparently. Failed at what? He didn’t need others! He had reached great heights all by himself! Why didn’t he recognize that? What was he getting at?

“I don't understand you! You don't make any sense!”

One day you will understand…? Sure, whatever. That’s the answer of someone who doesn’t have answers himself. Silver couldn’t believe that such a great Trainer had become a… whimpering coward! Well, he sure as heck wouldn’t follow his path!

“I will become a stronger man all by myself! All by myself!”

With that, he left Father to satisfy whatever caprice he had. So, the great Giovanni didn’t want to face the bitter truth and swallow his pride and ego? Fine! Silver didn’t need him. He didn’t need anyone!

Then he arrived home. The door was still open and Mother was sitting beside it. She had a letter in her hands, holding back her tears and scowling at that dastardly paper. Her Kusaihana
Gloom
stood by her side, releasing an aromatic scent from her bulbous petals and orange leaves and looking at her Trainer in concern.

Silver stared hard at his mother, before kneeling by her side and hugging her. She barely acknowledged the hug, too distraught by her husband’s departure, and Silver felt like someone had stabbed him in the heart.

…Well, they didn’t need that traitorous and weak man in their lives. They would have done everything all by themselves. That was their new path…

A white flash, and the door swung open. The twelve-year-old Silver glared at the man with teal hair that stood by the door. What was his name again…? Was it Apollo? Or perhaps Archer, as his subordinates called him?

Tch. Irrelevant, the boy didn’t even want to bother picking a name.

So, the fool wanted to take Father’s place, in more ways than one… and Mother seemed content with that! She even changed her name from Athena to Ariana, signaling that she had joined the circle of Team Rocket. Also, they were planning to look for Father so they could restore Team Rocket to its former glory? And even to have Silver get into the organization so he could become a leader someday?

…No. No. He wouldn’t have accepted that farce. No.

He didn’t want to have anything to do with Team Rocket, or Father, or whatever! Team Rocket was an organization of weak cowards who turned others into weak cowards, and he refused to get himself roped into all of that!

When nighttime came and everyone was sleeping, he opened the door and gazed around, gripping his belt bag. Once assured that there was nobody, he closed the door slowly to not alert anyone, and took one last look at his house. He sighed, thinking about the memories he was leaving behind. Then, before he had the chance to reconsider his decision, he fled toward Route 22…

A white flash…
and the door remained closed, three years later. Silver was back to the present, and only then he noticed Nyula squealing frantically. He looked down to meet his Pokémon’s gaze, seeing the concern and anxiety in his pupils. The weasel pointed a claw at the house, then at the redhead.

“…Yes, Nyula. This is my house,” he sighed. “Or rather, it used to be.”

Nyula tilted his head and looked quizzically at his Trainer, before looking pensively at the house. No wonder Silver didn’t want to come back: it was in such a sorry state. Also, he saw the purple fur of the Koratta scattered on the grass like thin twinkles, alongside some of their… huh…

No. Nyula wasn’t itching to approach that decaying building, that’s for sure.

Silver crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. “So, you saw my house. Are you satisfied now?”

Nyula merely shrugged. Not exactly what he expected to see, but it was something.

“Good. Then I’d say we can just—”

*breeep breeep*

The noisy ring startled Silver and Nyula… and the wild Koratta, who rapidly disappeared into the house. The redhead looked straight at his belt, right where he kept his Pokégear, and produced the device to check it out. Great was his surprise — even if he didn’t show it — when he opened the notification.

A digitalized mail was waiting for him in his Trainer account, sent by an unknown deliverer just a few minutes ago. That was new: nobody had ever sent anything to him.

“A mail? For me?” he asked to no one, rubbing his chin while his pupils brimmed with curiosity. “Could it be… one of those so-called Mystery Gifts?”

Wanting to check out the mysterious delivery, Silver withdrew his Pokégear and started his trek back toward the centre of the city. Tokiwa Pokémon Center was their new destination, and any excuse was good to get away from his house and his past.


***​


Silver and Nyula walked into the Pokémon Center and saw some people scattered on the first floor; most Trainers crowded the poison control ward of the medical center, waiting for the doctors and nurses to treat and detoxify their Pokémon.

It was undeniable that poison control was an essential service in Tokiwa. The surrounding wild areas were brimming with Beedle
Weedle
, small but dangerous bugs with venomous stingers, and Nidoran, rodent-like creatures covered in toxic spikes. It was astonishingly easy to get pricked by a Poison-type, especially during mating seasons.

Also, it wasn’t uncommon for the Poké Mart to run out of antidotes and Pecha Berries. Those remedies sold out much faster than hot cakes.

‘Good thing that none of my Pokémon got poisoned… The PCW seems busier than usual,’ pondered Silver, before looking at the nurse standing by the reception. ‘…But I suppose they could still use a check-up, especially Nyula. I wouldn’t want them to become too weary and get themselves hurt unnecessarily…”

After handing out his Pokémon to the nurse, Silver headed straight to the PC. Nobody was using the device, so he scanned his Trainer ID on the magnetic band reader to log into his account. Sure enough, he found a digitalized letter stored at the end of his inventory.

“Hmm… Who could have sent that?” wondered Silver, gazing at the screen.

With his curiosity piqued, he clicked on the icon of the letter, and a machine installed besides the PC turned on and flashed a white beam. The mysterious letter materialized almost instantly in the stream of light, and as soon as the machine halted, Silver opened the envelope to reveal its content: a couple of papers and a dark blue magnetic card with a stylized white Poké Ball, very similar to a regular Trainer ID.

Silver held the piece of plastic at a fair distance from his face to study it under the artificial light. On the top right he read the text ‘Battle Pass’, and by moving his gaze to the center he read the words ‘Trainer Silver Tsubaki’. There were also seven empty circles: was that some customizable card?

He raised an eyebrow, puzzled by that Battle Pass. He had heard a few things about those cards: sought-off by Trainers and collectors alike for their rarity, since they are sent only to a few small elites of Trainers by the founders of battle parks (like the Battle Frontier) or facilities (like the Battle Maison).

That fact only made him more curious, and he studied the two papers. The first sheet was a timetable with various names of regions and cities, while the other was a letter. He began reading it.


Dear Silver Tsubaki,

The head of our island, Master of Masters Mysterial, is pleased to announce the inauguration of the first Pokétopia Championship in the Colosseum of Stargazer City, Pokétopia.

Master Mysterial’s primary goal is to gather the best Trainers in the entire world and have them compete in exciting battles, all of them with their own unique rules and spins, in one of the most prestigious tournaments to date. Local transportation, accommodation and meals are all covered.

If you are interested, show the Battle Pass we have annexed to this letter and your Trainer ID to the ticket booth at the closest port. We have arranged ships that stop by the principal ports — you can find all the details on the timetable — and the pass will act as your ticket to our beautiful island.

We hope to see you in Pokétopia, the dream place of every Trainer!

Regards,

Joe, Sashay and Kruger
The Colosseum Masters and Head Organizers



An invitation for a high-level championship with an official stamp… for him. Now that was something Silver would have never expected.

He took a nearby seat and stared at the papers in his hand, then at the blue card, then again at the papers.

He didn’t know what to think. Receiving that invitation was… almost too convenient, especially considering he had just missed his chance to challenge Green.

…What if it was just a well-crafted prank? Or some random spam?

Doubts gnawed at him, so he pulled the invitation closer to his face and checked the letter inquisitively.

A few rubs on the filigrane told him it was a rough paper of excellent workmanship. It wasn’t cheap ink paper, but something very close to vellum. Not the stuff used for childish pranks, throwaway ads, or free leaflets.

Three signatures, very elegant and fluid. He took out his Pokégear and browsed those names with the News Card: real people, and the incoming championship was an actual event. Also, after a quick comparison with the signatures on the official site, he could tell that the signatures on paper weren’t forged. There was no tremor in the lines, and the pen pressure was even.

A purple stamp in the shape of a wizard’s hat, most likely done with a heat stamp, and with a signature on top of it. Another detail near impossible to falsify.

There was no doubt in Silver’s mind. The invitation and championship were genuine, and his suspicions turned into veiled thrill. They had invited him to such a prestigious tournament. That was almost too good to be true.

“Interesting…” he said pensively, rubbing his chin and rereading the letter. “Pokétopia… I’ve never heard about it. Where is it?”

Silver activated the Map Card on the Pokégear, before studying both the maps of Kanto and Johto. But he found nothing.

“Could it be in another region?”

He picked the timetable and scoured through the various names. Mio
Canalave
City, Sinnoh. Aqua Resort, Oblivia. Pueltown, Almia. Summerland, Fiore. Kuchiba
Vermilion
City, Kanto.

Silver frowned when he read the date and schedule for Kuchiba City. The ship would depart in less than an hour. He wouldn’t have caught it in time. However… Ah, Asagi City
Olivine City
, Johto! The ship would reach that port and depart in two days.

Now that was workable: he could take the maglev train for Kogane City
Goldenrod City
, pass through Enju City
Ecruteak City
, and then he would be in Asagi City by the next day.

Still, he had yet to find out about Pokétopia, so he kept reading.

Minamo City
Lilicove City
, Hoenn. Neos City, Ferrum. Gateon Port, Orre.

“…Ha. Found it.”

Sure enough, there it was: Pokétopia was in the Orre section, just below Gateon Port. Silver narrowed his eyes.

“Orre…” he muttered, leaning on the seat and pondering about that name. “Hmm… Sounds familiar. Did I hear about it on the news or something?”

Silver crossed his arms and stared at the ceiling. He thought hard about that name until fragments of a buried memory echoed in his mind…

…actions of a young boy… Cipher operatives… trying to take over the entire city… Orre region is endangered again…

He blinked in realization. Yes, he remembered hearing about that crisis. Radio stations all over the world bombarded breaking news after breaking news, with Team Cipher and the stolen Pokémon in Unova on the first page most of the times. Didn’t those accidents happen like… almost a year ago?

Team Cipher… Yes. Yet another infamous criminal organization, just like Team Rocket. A syndicate made of imbeciles who pumped their Pokémon with shadows or whatever to strengthen them. Corrupted Pokémon, just to satisfy those dastards’ selfish purposes.

And yet, Silver was ashamed to admit he had entertained the idea at some point, back when he would have gladly let a sick Denryu die if it proved itself useless in battle. Pokémon were just means to an end — if they broke, they could be replaced. Injecting some shadows into some Pokémon to make them much more powerful was a really enticing idea. Battle performance was all that mattered. Who cared about their feelings?



Silver didn’t care, and the thought made his stomach twist and churn. He didn’t even want to fathom what would have happened if he was in Orre during that crisis and they offered him some of those… shadows. No doubt he would have accepted in a heartbeat, ready to send war machines against innocent Trainers to test their powers. Just to test the sheer power of his team.

‘Gods, I was such an idiot back then…’ he reminded himself, the rare traces of sadness and regret seeping into his mind. ‘A heartless monster…’

A strained sigh, and his eyes closed. Despite the reluctance to accept facts, deep down he was grateful that Wataru had knocked some sense into him. That the Dragon Tamer had showed him the truth and consequences of his actions, and suggested a way to become a better person. He was far from perfect, and it was tough for him to relate with others, but… he was trying. Only the gods knew he didn’t deserve that chance, not after everything he had done…

But before Silver could sink any deeper into his self-pity, the gentle cry of a Lucky
Chansey
rippled throughout his mind-space. The darkness receded and his eyes snapped open, back to reality. He gazed at the pink egg-shaped Pokémon standing beside the seat; she smiled sweetly at him and pointed toward the reception.

Oh. The check-up was over. Silver nodded in understanding. “Gotcha. Thanks.”

He put card and papers back into their envelope and stored them into his belt bag, before hurrying past the Pokémon and toward the desk to retrieve his team.

There was a train to catch.


***​


The Tokiwa Station wasn’t crowded anymore. There were only fifteen or sixteen people either sitting on the benches or standing. Not exactly surprising, considering that rush hour was over. Employees working at Silph Co. or similar places had surely taken earlier rides.

Silver leaned against a wall, away from the crowd and waiting patiently. He gazed passively at the screen: the earliest train for Kogane would be there in five minutes. Other five minutes… hopefully they passed fast enough.

He took a sip of his Psycho Soda. Sweet, perhaps too sweet. And the lime flavor tasted a bit too artificial for his liking. How could those guards by the gates of Yamabuki City drink that saccharine stuff every day without gaining weight or feeling nauseated by the flavor, he didn’t know.

At least his Pokémon liked it, and by drinking some Psycho Soda they could regain some of their stamina quickly… for some mysterious reason.

“Hmm… I wonder why is that. Could it be because they metabolize sugar much faster than humans or something?” mused Silver, staring at the black bubbles painted on the blue can. Then he frowned: why was he even thinking about that? Was he really that bored?

The redhead shook his head and crushed the empty can. “Pah. Whatever. It could be because of some scientific ‘food turned instantly into energy’ mumbo-jumbo, for all I care,” he muttered, and threw the junk into a nearby trash bin. After slipping his hands into his pockets — the air was cooler than usual, a clear sign of the incoming autumn — he resumed looking at the empty tracks. Other four minutes.

*crooow-ooown*

Silver blinked. What was that cry? Where did it come from? It sounded… close. Very close.

He turned his head left and right, trying to locate the source of that sound. “Huh? What…?”

*rooooown*

Another cry, but something was different. That time, it seemed like it came from within his head.

“W-what’s going on?” demanded Silver, unnerved by that occurrence.

And then, the redhead felt a strange sensation, which was something akin to a strong tug at his mind. He didn’t know how else he could describe that unknown feeling — it was something difficult to grasp.

The entire station became blurred static, but what shocked Silver the most was seeing a translucent scene playing in front of him, tinted by a light green hue.

Visions of people walking in front of him, all of them wearing kimonos and yukatas with leaf and feather patterns. Were they… ghosts?

Silver mentally scoffed. ‘What nonsense! Ghosts don’t exist! Only Ghost-types are real! …Right?’

And yet, he couldn’t deny what he was seeing. Even after rubbing his eyes with a hand, the phantoms were still there. It took all his willpower to not drop his jaws.

‘Okay, seriously, what’s going on?’

The people vanished in pillars of mist, which converged into a ball of viridian fire. Silver stared in shock at the phantom sun shining over the station and shooting tongues of flames that didn’t burn. It began quivering and losing its shape, producing long and flat appendages that looked like… wings on fire?

The ball exploded, and Silver instinctively shut his eyes. But there was no heat or scorches. Just autumn breeze.

The redhead reopened his eyes, and to his astonishment everything was back to normal, as if nothing ever happened.

No more green people, green fire or other green stuff. He could see with clarity the station, the glassy ceiling, the Coil floating around, the train…

…Wait. Train?

「 Tokiwa-eku! Viridian Station! Tokiwa-eku! Viridian Station! 」

Ah! The train! It had arrived, and the last few passengers were already going aboard.

“Drat!”

Silver bolted forward, getting inside the vehicle right before the automatic door closed. He breathed heavily, to recover from both the sudden rush and from… whatever thing happened a while ago.

The redhead glanced outside — no, there weren’t green visions anymore. He blinked in confusion, unable to find an answer to what had just transpired.

“…What the heck just happened? Was it… the work of some Psychic or Ghost Pokémon or something?” he asked to himself, feeling his mind somewhat numb after the experience. But after a few seconds of fruitless questioning, he shook his head and tried to dismiss the event as quick as he could. “Hmph. Whatever… At least it’s over. If it was the work of some random Pokémon and it tries a similar stunt once more, I’ll send Foodin
Alakazam
after it!”

Somewhat annoyed by that unusual string of events, Silver took an empty seat and sat roughly on it. At least he had gotten on the train, and he was on the way of leaving Kanto behind him once more.

*breeep breeep*

Silver sighed audibly. “What now?”

With a disgruntled groan, the redhead reached out for his Pokégear and turned it on; the display shone with a pale green light. Silver checked the notification and saw the blinking icon of a letter. There was a new message… from Hibiki.

Of course, because the day didn’t stink enough as is.

Silver rolled his eyes and pocketed the device. He wasn’t in the mood of replying to that other boy. The wound at his pride was still too fresh.

A whiz sounded from outside, and Silver gazed at the source: a train inspector, holding a whistle in his right hand while a Pikachu stood by his side. The electric mouse lowered herself on all four and her heart-shaped tail flashed yellow.

Following the signal, multiple Coil surrounded the train. They buzzed noisily and blue static electricity surrounded their bodies. And then, zap and clank! The train started moving, suspended by an electromagnetic force. The train sped up and sped up, zooming on the railroad like a rocket.

When the surroundings became nothing more than blurs of green and brown, Silver leaned comfortably onto his seat and exhaled another deep breath, deciding to put aside all the bad stuff that had happened that day and to focus only on the good stuff that was going to happen, especially the tournament.

It was really happening! Soon, he would reach Kogane, then travel to Asagi to get on the ship for Pokétopia. He was going to take part to the championship… and win, of course! He would show to the world his prowess as a Pokémon Trainer.

“All the other participants should prepare themselves,” he exclaimed, smirking at the reflection on the window, “because I’m gonna win, no matter what!”


***​


Back at the station, the few passengers that got off of the train dispersed quickly. Calm returned and the ticket collector left his post, as that was the end of his shift. When the man left the place to find his replacement, a small hare emerged from behind the counter; his eyes fixed on the empty track, full of curiosity and marvel, while the gems around his neck jingled.

«By the stars! How can humans use the power of Magnet Rise to lift an enormous vehicle of metal like it was nothing?» The figure floated toward the end of the glassy arch, following the suspended railroad and earning a few puzzled looks from a few Coil. «Truly outstanding!»

However, he snapped out of his wonder when he heard a loud buzz. The hare turned toward the source and spotted a small green flatworm crawling amidst the foliage of a pine tree. It glowed with a faint green light before turning invisible.

«Oh, apologies for involuntarily missing your drone, Zygarde. My mind wandered again, kah hah hah! I really can’t help but marvel at humans’ ingenuity,» said the hare, floating toward the not-so-empty branch.

The drone buzzed again and flashed green, earning a nod from the hare.

«Yes. I’m confident about that. He matched the description given to me by my future self — Calyrex from Hereafter,» continued the hare, before closing his eyes. «‘On the day of the start of fall and when the sun is at its highest, go by the station of the city known as Tokiwa City in Kanto, and find the human child with red hair and red eyes. He shall be your temporal eyes and the key of everything.’ This was his last message.»

The drone relayed a buzz and Calyrex gazed at the blank spot.

«Yes. I have linked my mind with that human child to foresee the future. He probably witnessed a few of those events, but I telepathically prodded him to divert his attention elsewhere.» Calyrex frowned. «Unfortunately, my powers are still too weak, so I could only grasp a few fragments of the events to come.»

The drone flashed a reassuring green light, and Calyrex nodded.

«Very well. I shall send my visions, then.»

With that said, Calyrex’s bulb on his head glowed with an intense light and he pointed his paw at the invisible flatworm. A psychic link connected Calyrex and all of Zygarde’s cores, with the mindless drone acting as their intercom.

«I saw… a festival. Celebrations for the incoming fall. And then, a rainbow feather… burning… in a pyre… flames… a ship ablaze… otherworldly creatures going berserk… and water, a rampaging water. Then… a growing darkness… and black. Only black.»

The light in the bulb dimmed, and Calyrex gazed at the flatworm with a blank expression. «…This is all I could gather.»

Silence reigned for a few seconds, before the flatworm quivered and buzzed worriedly. Calyrex lowered his head and rubbed his necklace.

«Yes, indeed. The last vision is a foreboding, I’m afraid. A foreboding of an inauspicious result,» he responded, his voice barely audible.

Tension and slow breathing from Calyrex, uncessant quivering from the drone. The two legendaries assimilated the information in two different ways, with Calyrex looking visibly torn by what his clairvoyance showed him and Zygarde studying the situation.

But then, the flatworm trilled a long hopeful tune and crawled closer to Calyrex. The hare stared at the spot of the invisible drone with widened eyes.

«Hmm, yes. If the balance of fate will be tipped, then our odds would improve. Drastically, I daresay,» answered Calyrex, showing a curious gaze. «Do you have something in mind?»

A series of buzzes, trills and chirps came from the drone in rapid sequence. Calyrex floated backwards in surprise.

«Oh? This is your plan?» he asked, before pondering about Zygarde’s suggestions.

The drone sent an affirmative chirp, and Calyrex gazed intently at the branch in awe. The hare couldn’t stop being impressed by Zygarde’s quick thinking and the fact they always had a solution for any problem. But that made sense, coming from five brains working in unison.

After some careful thinking of his own, Calyrex nodded in agreement. «Yes… It might work finely. But are you sure they will agree to that?»

The drone quivered and chirped a few tweets, its gelatinous core glowing softly.

«Really? This is new to me.» Calyrex tapped his chin thoughtfully. «However, I’m not too surprised. He can read the hearts of humans and has seen the entire world multiple times. He has been searching for so long…» The hare floated closer. «But where are they right now?»

The drone trilled and shook, making Calyrex blink in confusion.

«…On their way to Navel Rock? Why is that?» A series of trills and buzzes was his answer, and the hare nodded. «…I see. This explains quite a few things, actually.» He waved his paw. «But for a swift change of topic, how are things going with your… ally?»

An intense glow illuminated the drone, then it chirped a few times. Even if the message of the flatworm sounded mechanical, the hare could clearly sense the happiness radiating from the cores on another side of the world.

Calyrex smiled. «Ah, it’s good to hear you’re supporting each other and making fine progress. It’s so beautiful and encouraging when we can work so well with humans for the sake of the same cause.»

But then, the drone made a short questioning cry, which made Calyrex frown.

«…My steeds?» The hare lowered his gaze. «Still no trace of them. I scoured lands far and wide, but found nothing. They just… vanished from my tundra, some time after we vanquished those distortions…»

The flatworm stayed silent for a long time. Then it chirped something with a low tone. It sounded concerned about something.

Calyrex’s pupils shrunk in dread. «You… believe there could be a correlation between their disappearance, those visions of events to come, and the Eternal Eclipse?»

Another short affirmative tune, laced with fear, before it chirped another questioning message.

«I’m afraid I can’t see that far into the future. Something is blocking my powers. Even Celebi can’t travel through the flow of time anymore.» Calyrex looked pensively at the sky. «I suppose Dialga could be responsible, but I can’t think of any good reason for her to perform a time lock.» He shook his head and gazed again at the drone. «If my loyal steeds were still with me, perhaps I could find out the cause…»

The drone trilled something short, but reassuring. There was a brief pause, with Calyrex looking stunned by what he had just heard. Then the hare beamed a smile.

«…I appreciate your help in trying to locate them, Zygarde. I can’t be any more grateful than that.» Calyrex blinked when he sensed that the energy of the drone was very low. «But I believe we should let your drone rest. It seems drained after relaying all those messages.»

The drone buzzed one last time, before crawling toward the top of the tree. It began sunbathing, slowly starting to regain some of its strength.

«Likewise, Zygarde, likewise. I wish you good luck with your search, too.»

Calyrex looked at the horizon, unable to shake off the visions seen with his clairvoyance and the last warning sent by his future self. Pitch black darkness, wilted hopes and an unseeable future… what did all of that mean?

«Oh, human child. I hope your heart and soul shall be strong enough for what’s awaiting you…»
 
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Okay, new fic means new fic to read. I like some of these preamble ramblings. Even if I know nothing about Masters besides DeNA. Two mobile game limit, which is FEH and FFRK.

- Nearby it landed a Nyula <- A Nyula? Is that like The Brock?
- Shoutouts to Sneasel's original design! But why's it nicknamed? He stole the thing, unless that WAS its nickname (and given Shuckie had one I'm inclined to think the OT was a nicknamer) he couldn't have changed the nickname. Unless this is Gen 8 mechanics.
- toward the Spear <- Here it is again.
- OHHHHH, they're the Japanese names. I assume so by using the Japanese location name. That's just confusing! But I can get the stylistic choice, just was disorienting.
- Man, you wrote prize money in the nastiest possible way. I mean it's inherently kind of like that when you think about it.
- Why's presumably pre-development Silver walking around with his Pokemon?
- Also, heretic alert: ME!! Walking Pokemon are stupid and overrated, especially when it comes to forcing the first Pokemon in your party and not being able to see the ball animations.
- Okay, or, maybe this is post-development. Hard to tell by his attitude.
- Mixing the names of the badges together, huh? That's neat, but it'd make the Rainbow Rainbow badge a bit odd.
- So why's Silver still Silver and not Kamon or whatever, when Gold is Hibiki?
- Hibiki must've used Gameshark (against the sharker himself no less), that's how a Typhlosion can beat a Dragonite with a not very effective move.
- I mean understanding your Pokemon is often very poorly explained or requires special abilities.
- He can see the hailstorms all the way from down there?
- Heh, liked how you mixed the alcohol and coffee for the old man.
- Gyms closing is also very poorly explained, especially when they could delay a journey for forever.
- I thought the lore was the talk show was prerecorded and he didn't do much and eventually quit? Some of that at least.
- Always bugs me to see "Galarish" and such, when the actual games themselves do use the names of actual languages to refer to languages.
- Interesting implication of what happened there. Giovanni potentially being unwanting to take over Team Rocket, I'm guessing?
- Heh, shoutouts to the whips. Also liked the cute little detail of them respecting Silver, to.
- Fine! Silver didn’t need him. He didn’t need anyone! <- Like this bit, even if it's more of a teen sort of thing than a ten year old.
- Wonder what sort of angle you're going for, using the Japanese names and the English names for Team Rocket members.
- Okay, uh. Didn't see you making Ariana the mother. If I recall correctly, that was a fanon thing?
- How did Silver make it all the way to New Bark, anyway?
- Interesting way to work Mystery Gift into the world.
- Sensible touch to have poison control be a specific part of Pokemon Centers, if maybe leaning a bit too much into realism. Just barely if so, at least.
- I've heard of email, but this is ridiculous! And yes. Poking fun at potential excessive realism into poking fun at unrealism.
- Huh, bringing in Battle Revolution of all things? I'm on board. As a Super Robot Wars fan, I love obscure things alongside popular stuff.
- Surprised Silver can tell all that just by looking at it. Guess he's a paper and letter expert in this universe.
- Curious, is it canon that it's in Orre, or did you move it there for plot purposes?
- Stolen Pokemon in Unova by Cipher amuses me personally since in the first iteration of my unwritten Super Poke Wars fic, Wes showed up as a member of Snagem very early in Unova as BW1 is starting.
- Dastards? What is this, Fire Emblem?
- Hey, props for using Gods as the religious curse. I am shaking my smh at anyone who unironically uses "Oh my Arceus" without thinking about how awkward it sounds compared to "Oh my god"
- Heh, forget Soda Pop has that epic name in Japanese.
- I also like the tiny allusion to how _any_ drink can be given to the Saffron Guards, not just Fresh Water. Or Tea, as the remakes insisted upon because held item trading.
- It comes in bottles not cans in-game, but I imagine it SHOULD come in cans if it's a real soda brand.
- Silver forgetting to recycle...
- something akin to a strong thug at his mind <- Many a time I have wandered into a dark alley and gotten attacked by psychic street gangsters.
- Ah, foreshadowing! Given Ho-Oh the houoh is involved, this is likely a flash back to a previous time! Especially given the Tin Tower and ancient Japanese connection! BUT FOR WHAT PURPOSE??? We will find out eventually!
- Er did no one think to check on him as he was flipping out? I mean it seems reasonable but comes with some implications about the people as a side-effect.
- Is the Magnemite powering the train from some other media, or is this just another original invention?
- Oh, it's this clown. He had some amusing dialogue.
- The future??? And it was Calyrex? Well I was completely wrong on that front.
- So uh is Hereafter Calyrex, whatever it looks like, just casually having a conversation with a Zygarde Cell in the middle of a train station?
- Sensible for both steeds to be canon.
- And hm, a conspiracy between legendaries. Hm.

Okay, well that took longer to read than expected. It was a bit long for an intro, not gonna lie. That said it didn't really drag either except for the exposition at the end. I imagine the introductions aren't over just yet either, we still have a couple other main characters to get through as well as possibly more given that Disc 0 is three chapters long.

That said, I liked it. And I am intrigued by the premise as well. Like alternate world stuff, and doesn't get much nuttier than alternate worlds coming to clash. Looking forward to what's next!
 
The #1 Deerling Fan!
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Hello there! I’m your Secret Santa for this year! It took me a while, but I finally managed to put my thoughts together for your story so far. I don’t know if any feedback I have to offer will really be of any use to you, but I hope you feel you manage to get at least something from it. I definitely like the very first scene you set up--dark, violent, sets the tone, and really hooks you in. Very few writers are able to set up a hook like this so easily. I do have to admit, I’m not used to people writing Pokemon using their Japanese names, as I’m so used to their English names, so seeing their Japanese names threw me off at first. Of course, I know this is intentional on your part, so no worries about that. Do appreciate the underlines explaining which Pokemon they are, too! (Though you forgot to put one for Totodile, I noticed)

It’s rare for people to write fics centering around Silver, so good on you for deciding to have him be a protagonist. From the looks of it, the fic takes place after the events of the games, what with Silver mentioning Hibiki defeating Red. You do a good job of putting the reader into Silver’s headspace, such as his frustration with Green being away, his conflicting feelings about his old childhood home, his anger towards Giovanni, all of it was palpable and compelling. I also like the detail that Giovanni is actually a fake name he used for himself to hide that his real name is Sakaki, and with Ariana doing the same thing. That’s a neat way to tie the Japanese and English names in there! You’ve got a good grasp at characterization here, and I’m genuinely interested in seeing what’s to come.

I will admit though, I definitely did not expect you to randomly throw in Calyrex of all Pokemon in this, especially since your story involves a Pokemon tournament and Team Cipher. I think this is the first story I’ve read that happens to feature Calyrex in some capacity. I’m definitely interested in seeing what you plan to do with him and Zygarde in the future. Your prose is very good too, succinct enough that descriptions are to the point, but not so beige that it comes across as dull and unengaging either. I will admit, I had no idea what the word maglev was and looked it up. I am wondering, though: Calyrex and Zygarde are talking in the middle of a crowded train station, and no one happened to notice them? With Calyrex being a mythical Pokemon, I’m surprised nobody has noticed them or made a huge deal of their presence. I would recommend writing it so that maybe Calyrex happened to materialize in a place where there isn’t a whole lot of people. Or making it so that they’re invisible or something, since the Zygarde cores can camoglage themselves.

Normally I’d say more, but System Error already summed up everything else I wanted to say, so I won’t belabor the point here. All in all, I think you’re off to a good start! That’s about it from me. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a good day!
 
Disc 0, Chapter 2: "Shining Leaves and Phantoms of the Past"
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Thanks everyone for the reviews so far! I really appreciate your support! Truly, it warms my heart! :D

I'll answer them very soon, but for now, I hope you'll enjoy this new chapter! ^^


***


[Note: this chapter uses Japanese names of Pokémon, people and locations. I’m making sure to help determine who is who and what is what throughout the narration, however.]


***​


Darkness, coldness, solitude: three elements that used to be so normal and comforting, and yet now they felt so alien and frightening. And as an abyss-dweller, those feelings were very unusual for a Lugia.

Dark red wine dorsal fins raised and lowered, working hard to detect even the faintest glimpse of any living soul. Faint flickers pulsated into her mind-space, signaling nearby underwater creatures. However, as soon as she got close, the pulses disappeared. Very few Pokémon dared to stay around a powerful legend, and the notion saddened Odessa immensely.

It was ironic, really: she used to love staying alone with her thoughts, craving every brief nap she could get between a redirection of a marine current and another. But that changed when darkness invaded her heart and ominous chains locked her willpower and perception of reality, forcing her to do the most nefarious actions for those heartless humans while her soul screamed to the void.

Since then, the mere idea of staying alone for too long terrified her. Even if her physical and psychic powers were immense, even she wasn’t safe from her own nightmares. And in that moment, Odessa would have given everything to have some friendly presence by her side.

‹If only I could bring some company… But Zygarde were very specific — no one else but us must attend this meeting.›

She hummed a soft tune, hoping to cheer herself up. It did nothing to fill the emptiness on the physical plane, but with the echoes of her voice she could pretend that other members of her species were ahead of her, leading the way.

‹…Almost there. Navel Rock is not too far.›

A few minutes later and with only her song as her company, Odessa reached an immense column made of silver and golden ore. She descended deeper into the abyss, way beyond any other Pokémon could dive into, and entered through a passage hidden among black rocks. Then, with a blast of aerokinesis and hydrokinesis, she surrounded herself in a twister and shot upwards, speeding through the rocky tunnel.

The first gleams of the surface shone on her face, motivating her to travel even faster. And then, she burst out of the water and spread out her wings, the twister breaking apart and her body radiating an intense silver glow. The saltwater flowed down her waterproof scaly feathers, but she sped up the process by shaking her entire body.

Wings tucked by her sides and dorsal fins raised, she scoured the small rocky chamber with her sharp eyesight and psychic reach. She glanced at a few of her older feathers scattered on the floor, their faint metallic pink shade as resplendent as always, before looking at the ceiling. Her fins quivered and flickers flashed in her mind.

A ripple, then other nine. Brain waves, radiating from one commander and nine followers, and quickly approaching.

‹Ah! Zygarde are here!›

Sure enough, the shadow of a canid bolted through the rocky arc at the end of the chamber. The amalgamation of flatworms strode toward the pond, its red jewel glowing with power and small portions of the ground emerging with each step.

The Lugia made the first move, all too pleased to have some company. «Greetings, Zygarde! It’s really nice to see you!” she chirped, swimming toward the shore.

«Same here, Odessa. It’s lovely to see you again, and without shadows infesting your aura,» responded Zygarde with a cheerful tone, wagging their tail. «Your recovery has been a total success.»

Odessa suppressed a shiver. She couldn’t quite say that her recovery was a total success, but she was grateful that her heart was devoid of shadows. Or at least, she hoped so.

«Yes. Michael is a truly delightful child. It’s all thanks to him and his friends if I could free my heart from those dark binds,» she said with gratitude, before shaking her body and ruffling her feathers. «What a never-ending nightmare, to have my mind ravaged by those twisted energies…»

Zygarde lowered their head, tail tucked between their legs. «We cannot even fathom that, and we apologize for not being able to help during that crisis. If only we had some drones close to that island, perhaps we would—»

«It’s all right, Zygarde. I don’t blame anyone for what happened, aside from those… horrible Cipher humans!» she grumbled. «How could they do such atrocities to all those poor, defenseless creatures? It’s a good thing that Michael rescued all of them and there are no more shadowed victims, otherwise—»

Odessa stopped when she noticed Zygarde whimpering and fidgeting in their spot. She detected unpleasant waves plaguing the central brain of the amalgamation — nervousness, anxiety, and also a touch of fear.

«Zygarde? What’s the matter?» she asked, craning her neck toward the other legendary.

«…It’s a long story. We’ve already given a rundown to Calyrex, but we can’t explain the situation in full until we confer with the others. There is still much we don’t know yet,» they replied, which did nothing to soothe the Lugia’s concerns. The amalgamation stared at the draconic bird, their eyes narrowed. «Are you the only one in Navel Rock?»

Odessa closed her eyes and her dorsal fins quivered, her mind outstretching far beyond the boundaries of the island. After a few seconds, she reopened her eyes and frowned.

«…Yes. Spectrum is having some troubles with his journey — avoiding humans’ satellites has become a much harder task,» she explained. «He should try learning how to teleport at this rate…»

«Well, we must make do with the gifts and powers given to us,» said Zygarde, walking forward and stopping at only one step from the water. «However, if he’s not here, we have to ask you to relay the message in our stead when he arrives. We can’t stay here much longer — there is plenty we need to arrange.»

This time, Odessa shivered. She didn’t like the idea of being left alone once more, but she could resist a few minutes until her friend arrived, at least.

«Yes, I can do that…» She tilted her head. «But why the hurry? Can you tell me what’s going on?»

Zygarde’s stare hardened. «Very well. Here’s how things stand…»


***


Disc 0:

The Monster… Coach and the Rainbow!

“Shining Leaves and Phantoms of the Past”



***​


A journey on a train can be long and tiring, even on cross-country trains traveling at 340 miles per hour. That is more so for lone wolves with poor social skills, who would much prefer to spend time by themselves than to listen to gossips and random chatters of unknown passengers. Luckily there are countless ways to kill time while riding a vehicle, like reading a book, playing video games or listening to some entertaining shows and music with a Radio Card. While wearing an earplug and with the Pokégear in his hand, Silver surfed through various frequencies.

「 —bzzzt—re here live, with the returning Challenge Cup Champion: Ronald! Congratulations on your victory! 」

「 Well, I didn’t inherit these Legendary Pokémon Cards for nothing! They’re what make my deck, “Invincible Ronald”, so pow— 」

Skip.

‘…Why do people collect cards and fight with holographic creatures when they could just catch and train real Pokémon?’ thought Silver, unimpressed. ‘That makes no sense.’

「 —bzzzt—Pocket Monsters: Gōrudo and Pocket Monsters: Gin! Available now in the best sto— 」

Silver rolled his eyes. Just an ad about games featuring fake creatures. Useless. Skip.

「 Tsugino teiryujyo wa Kogane-eku desu. Next stop, Goldenrod Station. 」

Silver blinked; that didn’t come from the Pokégear. He glanced outside the window and spotted the tall silhouette of the Kogane Radio Tower. Evening had come, and the dull gray metal and glass reflected bright orange gleams.

That was his stop. He stored the earplug into the belt bag and pocketed the Pokégear, then he trudged toward the door while keeping his balance with the handrails. Soon, the train halted, with some Coil arresting its run with a strong blue magnetic force generated by their magnets.

「 Kogane-eku! Goldenrod Station! Kogane-eku! Goldenrod Station! 」

Once outside the station, Silver glanced at the tower that cast an imposing shadow over the other buildings. He frowned when he recalled the day Team Rocket invaded the tower, and when Hibiki destroyed him in battle despite the latter’s Pokémon being weary after facing multiple grunts. Not even with that advantage he could prevail over his rival.

But worse of all, he didn’t help at all during that crisis and only got in Hibiki’s way. The one-track mindset he used to have, fixated with the sole purpose of crushing both Wataru and his rival and uncaring about everything else…

Silver sighed in regret. What would have happened if he helped during that crisis? Could he have made a difference?

…Well, there was no way of knowing for sure, wasn’t there?

Without uttering a word, he slipped his hands into his pockets and walked away from the tower. Mulling over what-ifs was pointless, so he focused on a more pressing matter: renting a room somewhere. He seriously needed some good quality sleep after the emotional whirlwind of that day, to be well-rested for his incoming journey.


***​


“…Shining Leaves Festival, huh?”

Silver glanced curiously at the banners hanged on some poles by the outskirts of Enju City. Orange and brown leaves crackled under his feet, which turned to dust by Ordile’s heavy stomps. The blue alligator stared gleefully at the colorful posters, his mind enraptured by the paintings of golden leaves and rainbow and silver feathers.

As they got closer to Enju, a plethora of festive energies flooded their senses: the overlapping folk music and chants of monks, followed by the warm scents of roasted chestnuts, fried savory food and pastries. To cap off the festival picture, red paper lanterns with black bird motifs and rainbow stripes decorated the streets, livening the stalls brimming with all kinds of snacks and knickknacks. Most of the participants wore orange and white yukatas and kimonos with leaf patterns, headbands with rainbow and silver feathers, or both.

Silver narrowed his eyes in thought. He had some vague knowledge of that festival, but never took part to it. Or to any other celebration, really. He considered them just a waste of time and money, which drained precious hours and resources that could be better spent with training.

Well, no matter. As Silver wanted to give a day off to his team and he had plenty of spare time, he wondered if he should dive into the celebration… even if the mere thought of that made him huff and roll his eyes.

‘C’mon, it’s supposed to be… fun. Yeah. Just some harmless fun…’

The redhead sighed and looked at his Pokémon. “Oh well, let’s get through this, Ordile.”

Ordile nodded and hissed affirmatively. Unlike his Trainer, he was looking forward to get into the festival and relish in that spectacle of sweet scents and gorgeous colors. The alligator grinned: perhaps he could show the beauty of festivals to Silver and convince him to take part to future celebrations? His Trainer seemed more open to new ideas, so that didn’t sound like a farfetched plan.

Silver and Ordile strolled through the various lantern-filled streets of Enju, with the former glancing scathingly at the various stalls and the latter marveling at the multitude of decorations and sniffing the delightful blends of fried food: the crispy scent of Crab Skewers and a foreign specialty called Crabrawler Pinchers; then the spicy aroma of Slowpoke Tails imported from Galar (when Silver inquired about that, the vendor clarified that the Yadon shed those tails naturally); and the delightful scent of pancakes filled with berry jam, sweet beans or honey.

The duo was so focused on the festival that they barely registered a feminine yell that cut through the chaos.

“Yoo-hoo! Silver!”

Silver blinked in surprise. That voice…

He turned around and his gaze darted from a person to another, looking for the source of that call. And then, he zeroed on a girl with brown twin ponytails standing by the local pond, waving at him and Ordile. She was wearing a white velvet hat, a short azure kimono with patterns of golden leaves and a rainbow belt around her torso. Even her Maril was wearing something for the occasion: a crown made of shining leaves and a rainbow ribbon tied at the tip of her tail, just below the blue sphere.

Silver’s eyes widened slightly. “Kotone?”

Kotone strode toward the redhead, beaming a bright smile. “Hey! Long time no seen! How’re you doing?”

“…Fine, I’d say,” he responded flatly.

“Ah, well, that’s great to hear! I’ve been doing good, too!” she chirped, holding her hands behind her back and showing a friendly smile. Then she gazed at Ordile. “Hello, Ordile! You’re looking fab as well!”

The alligator growled happily and waved his paw, earning a paw-wave back from Maril.

Kotone looked again at Silver, who just regarded her with a serious stare. “I didn’t expect to see you here, of all places. It’s such a pleasant surprise!”

“To be fair, I didn’t expect to be here, either.” He slipped his hands in his pockets. “Never been a festival type.”

“Oh? Well, there’s always a first time for everything, don’t you agree?”

Silver shrugged dismissively. “I guess so.”

“Anyway, any comment about my outfit?” she asked, before turning around to show off her clothing. “I’ve bought this specifically for the festival — it’s so comfy and easy to wear!”

Silver gazed hard at the kimono. He had never been into girl’s fashion and wasn’t keen to answering such futile questions. However, he was trying to be a more approachable individual, so…

“…A azure kimono, huh,” he stated simply. “Unusual.”

Kotone stared back at him, somewhat unimpressed by his answer, but beamed a bright smile despite that. “Well, yes, it’s my unusual azure kimono! Do you like it?”

Silver looked again at the brunette, then at the clothing. “It’s… cute, I guess…”

“Thanks!” she exclaimed, smirking with pride. “I’m glad you like it, too!”

The redhead raised an eyebrow, bewildered by her reaction. ‘Wow. She’s behaving as if she has just received a compliment from Wataru himself…’

“So,” Kotone grinned, “are you enjoying the festival?”

“I… well, maybe? Admittedly, I’m feeling kinda out of my element.”

“Oh. I suppose Mr. Battle-hungry Silver doesn’t meddle too much with fun and pointless stuff, huh?” she replied with a playful smirk.

Silver narrowed his eyes and looked away. “Hmph! Something like that…”

“Well, then lemme help you get into a festival mood! Shining Leaves Festival is my all-time favorite celebration! I could be your guide and show you the best of the best!” chirped Kotone, holding her fists close to her face and bouncing happily. “Whatcha think?”

Silver gazed at the girl, uncertain of what to answer. Sure, he considered spending some time with other Trainers, but did he want to have the most chipper and unabashedly optimistic of his rivals as his companion? That girl was like a walking smile, and he still didn’t know how to feel about those overly cheerful people.

But before he could answer, something tapped his back, and he turned to Ordile. The alligator grinned and nodded excitedly, hoping to send some encouragement with a few friendly growls. The redhead stared at his Pokémon in disbelief: even his own Pokémon wanted that?

Silver looked at Kotone, a bright grin. Then at Maril, a bright grin. And once again at Ordile, a bright grin. Finding himself outnumbered, he relented. “…Fine, I accept.”

“Yay! This is gonna be so much fun!” exclaimed Kotone in delight, before motioning to follow. “C’mon! There’s plenty to see! Let’s go!”

Without waiting for a reply, the girl sauntered among the crowd with Maril in tow, and Ordile was quick to tag along, all of them eager to have a pleasant time.

Silver stared blankly at the other three, before sighing and walking after them. That was going to be a long afternoon.


***​


No seasonal festival was complete without a traditional parade, and Kotone lead the group toward the Main Street so witness the merry event.

Groups of men with different flags carried shrines with miniatures of the local towers and legendary birds, while performers wearing costumes with rainbow and silver feathers accompanied the committee and directed some fire Rokon and Naty. The six-tailed foxes controlled their Will-O-Wisps and Mystical Fires with grace and elegance, the spectral and magical flames tinged in a multitude of colors — red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, a rainbow of flames. Meanwhile, the tiny green birds sent flurries of Air Cutters and Feather Dances into the air, which merged into a makeshift twister of crescents and glowing plumage.

Kotone and the two Pokémon cheered when the parade walked past them, but Silver did nothing more than observe the situation in silence. He had never been someone who liked to stay in chaotic places brimming with people, and the athletic skills of the performers didn’t captivate him. Sure, those performers and Pokémon practiced very hard, no doubt, but the flashiness of attacks had never been one of his interests.

Luckily for him, Kotone seemed to have noticed his lack of enthusiasm and led everyone toward a quieter side of the city: the temple area. Still not something that piqued his interest, but it felt good to be in an area devoid of racket.

“Say, Silver… What day is today?”

Silver glanced at Kotone, wondering why she asked such a silly question. “It’s Fall Leaves Day, obviously.” He motioned toward the paper lanterns and banners. “Heck, this entire festival is all about that!”

The brunette nodded. “True, but this year’s Shining Leaves Festival isn’t a festival like any other.”

“…What do you mean?”

“Today’s the 700th anniversary of the construction of the Brass Tower and the Bell Tower!” exclaimed Kotone, clasping her hands together. “In fact, in the Bell Chime Temple it’ll be possible to see many important paintings and artifacts belonging to that era. It’s a unique event!”

Silver stared at Kotone for a good minute, before cocking an eyebrow. “That’s the part where I’m supposed to get excited?”

“If you love myths and legends, then yeah!”

Myths and legends… Silver had read countless texts and books about all kinds of legendary Pokémon, with his interest being heavily oriented toward their sheer power. Getting such a Pokémon under his command… that would be a dream come true, and it surely would have taken him one step closer toward his goal. Or, well, that was what his younger self used to believe.

But the redhead had yet to see a real legend in the flesh. Glimpses, fleeting shadows, distant howls — that was all he got in the past three years as a Trainer. That was more than what most people got in a lifetime, but it annoyed him immensely that Hibiki was one of the few privileged Trainers to have actually interacted with real legends. That kid with black hair didn’t receive an authentic Silver Wing for nothing, after all.

But despite his grievances, Silver had a pretty good guess of why he got nothing more than crumbs: legends only sought after Trainers with pure hearts, and he didn’t have one. That was a tough pill to swallow, but… his rival fitted that description way more than he did.

“However, there’s more about those artifacts than simple folktales,” added Kotone, while making her way toward their destination. The teenagers and their Pokémon could see the distant golden pinnacle of the Bell Tower from their location, reflecting four faint beams of light toward the sky. “Those are also valuable lessons and memories of past times, when humans and Pokémon didn’t need Poké Balls to forge bonds and become friends. In fact, back then they often traveled side by side.”

“Hmm… So, you always keep Maril outside of her Poké Ball to emulate those past times?”

“Not really. It’s just that it’s much more fun to travel around with some company. Besides,” she glanced at Silver, “you’re doing the same with your Ordile now. Don’t you like that?”

“Well…”

Silver glanced behind: Ordile was chattering with Maril in his native speech, with a pleased smirk plastered on his muzzle. He stared at the two for a while, before turning to the brunette and nodding.

“…Yeah. I admit it was a bit weird when I walked around with Ordile for an extended amount of time, but… I’ve got used to that. And I can understand my Pokémon a bit better now.”

Kotone grinned. “Ah, I’m so glad to hear that! Your auras and hearts are becoming stronger and more united, aren’t they?”

“…Our auras and hearts?” Silver blinked, before narrowing his eyes in confusion. “I… can’t really say, but I guess so?”

“Well! A trip to the Bell Chime Temple is going to be helpful,” exclaimed the brunette, winking reassuringly. “I bet you’re gonna like that!”

Silver couldn’t figure out what Kotone was planning, but by the way she was grinning at him, it seemed something worthwhile. And if that would not be the case, then he was more than ready to not let her live it down!

“Hmph… Alright. Let’s see what’s so special about this oh-so-unique event,” he rebutted, crossing his arms and staring at the building ahead of them. The copper-hued roof and doorway of the Bell Chime Temple immediately stood out, giving off an aura of magnificence and peace to whoever gazed at it. Even the redhead felt some inner peace by just staring at that building.

“So, here we are,” announced Kotone, before walking through the door.

A silent atmosphere greeted the two teenagers, with very few visitors and monks walking around. Lit ceremonial incenses filled the air with an intense aroma, reminiscent of both cherry wood and saltwater — so different, and yet they complemented each other perfectly, just like the legendary birds themselves. Ancient tapestries and bronze statues decorated the area, depicting either an imposing bird with long tail feathers or a more draconic creature with enormous wings. Several artifacts were stored in unbreakable reliquaries and guarded by some Gardie, who sniffed and growled at whoever stepped too close. But more often than not, people just wanted to pet the small striped dogs, despite the warnings of the monks.

“Ho-Oh and Lugia…” muttered Silver, walking toward two statues placed at the entrance.

“Yup! The former guardians of Enju City, who lived by the two towers until a mysterious fire destroyed the Brass Tower. They’ve been missing from the city since then.”

The redhead nodded. “Yeah, I’ve heard about that tale when I first came here.”

“And to think that the people of Enju built those towers precisely to commemorate the perfect union between humans and Pokémon…” Kotone sighed. “I wonder what would have happened if the Brass Tower was still intact — would the legendaries still be here?”

Silver shrugged. “Who knows? It’s not like there’s a way to find out, isn’t there?”

“Yeah, I know. I was just thinking about the possibility, that’s all. I mean,” she grinned dreamily, “wouldn’t it be cool if we could meet and talk to the legendary birds whenever we wanted?”

Silver narrowed his eyes in thought, his gaze lingering on some tapestries depicting Ho-Oh with a trailing rainbow behind it. Only then he noticed that Ordile and Maril weren’t by their side anymore, having preferred to stay by the door to watch the parade from afar. Once reassured of their status, he focused again on the paintings.

“Heh. It’d surely be something,” he replied.

Kotone sighed again, thinking about that impossible dream, but regained her enthusiasm quickly. “Anyway! Let’s look around, shall we? There’s plenty to see here!”

The two teenagers walked past the two statues, but Kotone immediately froze. She blinked a few times and tilted her head. “Wait, isn’t he…?”

Silver gazed at the brunette in puzzlement, before following her stare. He spotted a blonde young man, wearing a purple headband and a scarf around his neck. The redhead had seen that man before, but where…?

Ah! Of course. The Phantom Fog Badge! So he was…

“Matsuba, the Ghost Gym Leader,” responded Silver. “What’s he doing here?”

“Hmm… Well, Matsuba visits the Bell Chime Temple and Bell Tower very often to study their various artifacts. I’ve heard he’s looking for a way to bring back Ho-Oh and see it with his own eyes.”

“Well, tough luck with that! With this city’s track record, he desperately needs it,” muttered Silver to himself. Then, his gaze drifted toward someone talking to the Gym Leader. “Hm? Who’s with him?”

That question piqued the attention of Kotone, who gazed at the people standing in front of Matsuba. It was then that the mild curiosity of the two teenagers turned into bafflement.

The unknown individuals had a very pale skin and wore white and blueish gray suits, while white helmets protected their heads — they seemed to have jumped out of some high budget sci-fi movie! The young man had a tuft of magenta hair dangling from his forehead and light blue pupils, while the teenage girl had a long orange braid and light blue pupils with a veil of ginger.

Silver had to blink a few times to make sure he wasn’t imagining them, but his eyes kept showing the same vision and his gaze lingered on those strange uniforms. ‘…Okay, I’ve seen all kinds of ridiculous costumes, but those beat all of them!’

“Heeey! Matsuba!” chirped Kotone, walking toward the trio.

Silver glared at the brunette. Why did she have to attract the attention of the Gym Leader and those weird people in white? Perhaps he could sneak away before—well, too late for that! Matsuba and the new individuals noticed them.

“Ah! Greetings, Kotone. It’s good to see you,” replied Matsuba with a small smile, then he gazed at Silver with a more neutral expression. “And Silver, too.”

The man-in-white studied the teenagers with tired eyes, while the orange-haired girl beamed a grin. “Oh? Acquaintances of yours, Matsuba?” she said, making an imaginary square with her hands. “Alola! Nice to meet you! I’m Zossie and he’s my colleague Dulse!”

“Zossie, remember that they don’t use that greeting in this region. What they use is,” Dulse waved his hand left and right, his movement resembling a wide-screen wiper rather than a hand-wave, “this salute.”

“Oh! Right!” Zossie was quick to emulate her companion, with her hand movement just as mechanical. “Hello there!”

The two Trainers quickly inferred that those two were tourists, by the way they spoke and behaved.

“Um… hi to you, too,” replied Kotone, looking curiously at the new individuals and greeting them with a hand-wave.

Silver said nothing, still staring at those humans-in-white in disbelief. Just… where did they come from? Did they bring the wrong costume for the wrong festival or something?

“Are you two here to learn more about Enju and its history?” inquired Matsuba.

“Something like that, yeah,” replied Kotone, beaming a grin. “We’re here to find out more about the bonds between humans and Pokémon in ancient times.”

Silver blinked and glanced at Kotone in puzzlement. “Huh? We are?”

“Ah! That’s great! Dulse and I have come to this temple for more or less the same reason!” exclaimed Zossie, smiling and swaying back and forth. “We’re investigating about bonds, auras, and all that stuff.”

Dulse nodded in agreement. “Indeed. We hope that the history and culture of Enju will help us understand our Pokémon better and strengthen our bonds with them. The bonds between humans and those legendary birds…” he gazed at a nearby tapestry, depicting Lugia eating some offerings alongside a group of people, “are truly inspiring. They used to live in perfect harmony — immortals and mortals, under the same sky.”

Matsuba smiled at Dulse, heartened by those words of appreciation toward his city and the legends surrounding it. Then he glanced at Kotone and Silver. “You can tag along, if you want. I know everything about these artifacts and the folktales of this city.”

“Oh, that’d be great!” chirped Kotone, before turning to Silver. “What do you think?”

The redhead froze at that out-of-the-blue question. “What…?”

“Oh yeah! It’d be real fun!” exclaimed Zossie, beaming an excited grin. “We could even get to know each other better!”

“Of course! C’mon, Silver! Let’s do it!”

Silver gazed back and forth between Kotone and Zossie, utterly baffled. Did that brunette have a doppelgänger from another country or something? As if one hyper girl wasn’t enough, now he had to tolerate two?!

“…Lemme guess, you’re gonna pester me until I say yes, aren’t you?” he asked, glaring at Kotone.

The brunette grinned mischievously. “That’s a possibility~!”

‘Okay… Can I still take a pass on exploring this temple?’ pondered Silver, contemplating his options. However, the cheerful smile on Kotone’s face became brighter and brighter with each passing second, which did wonders at pressuring him further and further. Annoyed by her stubbornness, he crossed his arms and stared hard at her. “…Tch. Fine! I’ll tag along if that means you’ll wipe that guilt-tripping look off your face.”

“Oh? You will? Really?” asked Kotone, her eyes gleaming.

“Yeah. Besides, it’s not like I have much better stuff to do.” Except that Silver could think of many more interesting things he could do, but he didn’t voice them out.

“Awesome! Then let’s get going!” exclaimed Zossie with enthusiasm, before walking by Dulse’s side. “This is gonna be very interesting!”

Silver rolled his eyes. “Hmph, whatever. Let’s just get over this…”

As such, the group started walking around the temple, led by Matsuba. Dulse and Zossie were behind the Gym Leader, with the former studying tiredly the tapestries and the latter marveling at the various colorful artifacts. Kotone and Silver walked after everyone else, and the brunette alternated between looking at the statues and chattering with the other girl, while the redhead stared silently at the various relics.

“…So, as I was saying, the Bell Tower used to be the residence of Ho-Oh in ancient times, while the Burned Tower — formerly known as Brass Tower — used to be Lugia’s residence, before it was destroyed by a fire,” explained Matsuba, walking toward a tapestry depicting Ho-Oh, a rainbow descending from the sky and people basking in its colors. “According to a legend, Ho-Oh left behind a fragment of its own soul into the Bell Tower, which allows it to sense hearts even from far away — if it were to sense a pure heart, it will return to the city.”

The Gym Leader paused to let the information sink in and stopped by a chipped pot. The relic depicted Lugia and Ho-Oh sharing some mysterious orbs, while some humans were surrounded by lines arranged in circular patterns — auras.

“Some people claim to have gained unique powers after witnessing Ho-Oh, which is also why the sages limit the access to the Bell Tower — a crowd of power-hungry and dark-hearted people might risk keeping Ho-Oh away.”

“Wow!” chirped Zossie, her eyes shining in admiration. “Ho-Oh is truly awesome!”

Kotone grinned. “It sure is, but Lugia is equally amazing!”

“Heh, they’re cool, I guess…” muttered Silver with feigned disinterest, diverting his gaze from the relic and looking again at the statue of Ho-Oh. Something about it was very familiar… in fact, didn’t it look like that green ball of fire from the day before?

…Nah, it couldn’t be. Could it…?

“…I have a few queries about that, however,” mused Dulse, staring at Matsuba. “You said earlier that Ho-Oh leaves behind a rainbow trail whenever it flies, and that it can grant great powers to whoever sees it.”

The Gym Leader nodded. “This is correct.”

“But nobody living in this city has seen it since the Brass Tower burned down. Is that correct as well?”

“Yes.”

Dulse furrowed his eyebrows. “Then there are quite a few things that do not add up. Namely, how do these people gain those powers? Do they need to just see Ho-Oh, even from a distance, or they need to stay in its proximity? What are those powers, and how is it possible to determine whether they are authentic or fabricated?”

“Oh, Dulse, don’t you think you’re going ahead of yourself?” replied Zossie, tilting her head. “Some questions don’t have real answers, y’know!”

“I mean, this is all for the sake of our research. We must get as much information as we can. Besides, most legends have some truth into them,” rebutted Dulse, his tone serious and professional.

Matsuba hummed in thought, before showing a small smile. “Well, according to a few ancient runes, Ho-Oh grants those powers by sharing some of its aura with the chosen humans. Though, there is no telling whether it can share its aura from a distance.”

“So, the phenomenon painted on this relic,” Dulse motioned toward the pot, “is aura sharing?”

Matsuba nodded. “Yes. This is a depiction of an auric link. Apparently, in Ransei they still perform this kind of ritual to this day.”

“Fascinating.”

“Okay, then here’s a pop quiz,” interjected Silver, crossing his arms and staring at the Gym Leader. “Just what is an auric link?”

“Yeah! I’m very curious about that, too!” added Zossie, bouncing on her spot with enthusiasm. Kotone gave her own support with a quick nod and an intrigued smile.

“An auric link,” parroted Matsuba while rubbing his chin. “So, to put it very simply, an auric link is a special bond formed when a human and a Pokémon are in perfect sync. If love and trust are mutual and absolute, then the auras will resonate in unison and unlock their maximum potential.” He readjusted his scarf. “Conversely, if there is a total lack of sync and those auras clash constantly, then both humans and Pokémon become weaker as a result. That’s a phenomenon known as auric chasm.

Dulse and Zossie nodded in understanding, while Kotone rubbed her chin and pondered about those phenomena, wondering if she and Maril shared an auric link already. But Silver… what he just heard shook him to the core, his attention receding into the depths of his mind as the epiphany dawned on him.

‘Lack of sync… Weaker… Auric chasm…’ He shook his head in realization. ‘Could it be?’ Is that what Wataru and those Kimono Girls…?’

Silver stared blankly at the pot, and long-buried memories rushed back to him like an unwelcome gust…


***

A strained yowl, a cold wheeze, and a soft thump. Nyula laid unconscious on the floor, his fur and blue feathers disheveled and electric sparks zipping all over his body. The weasel showed the signs of a tough battle, while the Thunders in front him had barely any scratch. The speed and power of the Electric-type fox had been no match for his opponent.

Silver stared at his fainted Pokémon in shock, completely taken aback by what just transpired. His entire team… crushed by those unexpectedly powerful girls.

Dancers. He lost to simple dancers! How?!

“Young Trainer. There is much potential lying dormant inside of you, this much we have noticed through your impressive display of strength and skills,” commented Tamao, the eldest of the five Kimono Girls and owner of Blacky, the Dark-type fox. “However, you are treading on a murky path. By keeping all that rage into your heart and not opening yourself to others, you won’t be able to unlock the true power of your Pokémon—”

Silver said nothing as he recalled his Nyula into his Poké Ball. He lowered his arm and stared despondently at the floor, barely registering what Tamao was saying.

First, he lost to that Dragon Tamer with his Kairyu, then to Hibiki in the Kogane Tunnel underneath the Radio Tower, and now to those girls with oversized Eievui.

The losing streak stung deep. His goal was to become the strongest Trainer in the world. Losing so many times in a row was out of the question!

“—as soon as you will trust your Pokémon and forge a tight bond, you will realize what it means to be a Trainer.”

Silver stared blankly at Tamao. Again with that thing about bonds and trust. They were spewing the same rigmarole of that bleeding heart Wataru.

…But what if there was some truth in those speeches? Trust… was that what he lacked?

Without saying a word to the maiko, Silver turned around and trudged toward the opposite side of the theater, ignoring the sympathetic look of the director and his Sidon. Shadows as dark as his mood shrouded his face as his red locks cascaded over his eyes, and a boiling anger toward himself manifested as incessant shudders and heavy steps.

“How…? How is this possible?” he mumbled, almost stumbling through the door. “How can I lose to mere Kimono Girls…?”

Then he bumped into someone, who gasped in surprise. Silver winced and redirected his attention to the struck individual. His dismay intensified when he found the last person he wanted to meet: Hibiki, accompanied by his Bakphoon. The wolverine’s shoulder flames burned intensely, a clear indicator of his great strength and impeccable health.

“Oh! Err. Hi, Silver!” said Hibiki, grinning sheepishly and waving his hand slowly. “Um… Fancy meeting you again!”

Silver was unimpressed by the black-haired boy’s greeting and scowled at him. “You were watching me, Hibiki…”

“Huh… Yeah, but just a little,” replied Hibiki hesitantly, having detected the venom in the redhead’s voice. He frowned. “Did you… lose the battle?”

“Yeah, that's right! I never thought defeating five Kimono Girls would be so hard… I got beaten to a pulp…”

“Wow…”

Silver gathered his thoughts, before glaring at Hibiki with renewed fervor. His rival being by the theater seemed really suspicious. “…You must have come here for the same reason, right?”

“Um… We could say that…” replied Hibiki, scratching his cheek nervously. “I thought I could give a shot after all the training I’ve done, so—”

“Don't get cocky just because you defeated Team Rocket! These Kimono Girls are insanely strong,” growled Silver, before pointing toward the door. “Go ahead! See if you can defeat them. But I'm not going back. I don't want to see you win.”

Frustrated, Silver shoved Hibiki out of the way, earning a startled gasp from the latter and a warning growl from the Bakphoon. He walked away from the theater, before stopping at a few meters from it. He was trembling, his fists clenched and his breaths harsh, while a storm raged in his heart and mind.

“Silver…?”

Then, without looking back, Silver zoomed as far away as he could from that place, ignoring the concerned cries of Hibiki. He wouldn’t have shown his moment of weakness. Not in front of that wimp.

…The wimp who beat him all the time, and who surely would have beaten those Kimono Girls.

The Trainer who succeeded wherever he failed. Every single time.

Why? Why did he keep losing, despite training hard every day? Why was that other boy always ahead of him? He didn’t understand. What was he doing wrong…?


***

“Hey, Silver! Earth to Silver!”

Silver flinched when the yell echoed in his mind, dragging him back to the present. “H-huh?!”

Once the memories faded, the first thing he noticed was Kotone standing in front of him and waving a hand on his face, while staring at him in puzzlement. He took a few seconds to process what happened and groaned inwardly: he didn’t want his mind to bring up a stupid flashback for every terrible moment of his life!

“…What?” he grumbled, more toward himself than toward the girl.

“Oh, sorry. You were zoning out, and I got kinda worried,” she replied. “What’s the matter?”

Silver looked away. “…It’s nothing important. I was just thinking about something that happened some time ago.” He glanced around, noticing that the others weren’t around anymore. “Hey, where’s everyone?”

“Oh, they went ahead. I told them we would have caught up with them later.”

“Ah. Then let’s just go forward. We don’t wanna keep them waiting or something, do we?”

Without giving time to reply, he walked toward the others, forcing Kotone to rush after him.

“Okay, but… if you feel the need to talk about something — anything — just lemme know, alright?” she offered, staring intently at the redhead. “I’m always willing to lend an ear!”

Silver glanced at the brunette, then rolled his eyes. “Tch, sure. But whatever concern you have… forget it. I’m fine, really.”

They quickly caught up with the trio, who had stopped by a reconstructed mural made of a light grey mineral with silver and gold clusters. The relic depicted some… faded blurs of something. Only one detail stood out about that mural: the dark blue painting of some draconic creature circling the smears.

“Hey, we’re back!” announced Kotone, beaming a grin. “Did we miss anything?”

“Not really. Matsuba here was about to talk about this relic,” responded Dulse, before nodding at the Gym Leader. He got a nod back.

“So, this is one of the most important pieces of our city,” said Matsuba, motioning toward the rocky relic. “A mural discovered very recently in the lowest floor of the Burned Tower.”

The others stared hard at the mural, trying to make out whatever painting hid inside those blurry and faded colors. Time had been very unkind, they could tell.

“Huh… What’s this mural supposed to represent?” asked Zossie, glancing at Matsuba in confusion. “I can’t make heads or tails of what’s painted here!”

“Ah, you see… the real treasure isn’t what is outside the mural, but what is inside of it,” responded Matsuba with a small smile.

Silver frowned and brought a hand on his hip. “What? Is that supposed to be a riddle or something?”

The Gym Leader didn’t respond and instead turned to the mural. “…Barney, wake up.”

Perplexed stares appeared on everyone’s faces — the Gym Leader gave a name to a… rock?

But then, their bafflement grew tenfold when the relic began shaking, its cracks splitting completely and ectoplasmic matter pooling from the newly formed holes. The mural rearranged itself to take in the shape of a creature with two long ghostly arms and one tail with a piece of rock at its tip, before the eye of the painted silhouette glowed with a pale magenta light.

The mural… was alive!

“Wooooh!! The mural is a Pokémon?!” shouted Zossie, staring into the eye of the creature. Kotone was just as shocked about the revelation, while Silver and Dulse reacted with veiled surprise.

“Huh. Interesting,” replied the redhead, cocking an eyebrow.

Matsuba turned to the others. “Everyone, meet Barney, the Deathbarn of Enju. Dulse, Zossie, perhaps you two know this species as Runerigus, where you come from.”

“Runerigus…” parroted Dulse, showing a thoughtful stare. “Yes, I have read something about them during one of my researches.”

“That’s so awesome!” exclaimed Kotone, looking at the Pokémon in amazement. She waved her hand and smiled happily. “Hello, Barney!”

Barney curled its painted jaws into a grin and craned its neck toward the group, its ghostly wisps quivering with a black energy. The Ghost-type glanced curiously at the humans-in-white and the Trainers, then he drifted closer to Matsuba and hissed happily.

“A Deathbarn…” muttered Silver, before staring at Matsuba. “Okay, you caught a Pokémon hiding in the lowest floor of the Burned Tower. Cool, but what’s so special about that?”

“Well, this is where things get interesting.” Matsuba motioned toward the arms of the Deathbarn. “You need to clutch Barney’s tendrils.”

The others traded quick glances, then stared again at the Gym Leader. Out of them, Dulse was the one who spoke out. “Hmm… Is that a good idea? According to my research, the visions showed by a Runerigus can be… frightening, if not outright horrifying.”

“Oh, you’ve got nothing to be worried about. Barney is docile and has great mastery of his visions. He wouldn’t scare or unsettle anyone on purpose,” replied Matsuba reassuringly, patting Barney on his head slab and earning a pleased rumble. “There are a couple of visions that might be a bit strong, but Barney will make sure to not show more than you can handle. He’s a real sweetheart.”

While the others discussed the implications of touching the ghostly goo, Silver stared intently at the strange Ghost-type. Barney sensed the gaze trained on him and stared back at the redhead, his eye shining with the same magenta glow. He flapped his arms and coiled himself on the ground, mirroring the perching of a bird, and his tail waved gently. Silver could tell that the Deathbarn was trying to make everyone feel at ease, by appearing relaxed and friendly. That was… something he didn’t quite expect from a Ghost-type, that’s for sure.

“…So, are you ready to glimpse into the past?”

Silver turned to Matsuba, who was smiling at the other members of the group. Apparently the Gym Leader convinced everyone, including Dulse.

“When you’re ready, touch Barney’s tendrils and don’t let go unless I say so.”

Picking on the cue, Barney extended his two arms toward the group and coiled his tail around Matsuba. His eye gleamed with a pale pink hue and his painted grin widened slightly, and a few quiet rumbles reverberated from his goo. However, certain people needed an extra push to touch the tendrils, so Silver took that task up to himself. After all, he wasn’t a coward!

The redhead reached out for the ghostly appendage and grabbed it. Dark and cold wisps spread on his arm, and he felt… perfectly fine. He gazed at the Ghost-type, who grumbled happily at him, before staring impatiently at the others. “C’mon, you three! Just grab those tendrils already!”

One by one, the others followed suit…

Swoosh! A cold gust blew over their faces, and their bodies became as light as feathers. The temple was swallowed by a black haze, which slowly faded away to reveal another location — a square roof with four Lugia statues placed in each corner, like rocky guardians surveilling the city below, and wearing blue bells with tidal patterns around their necks. But the most outstanding element of that vision was a pinnacle of silver ore built in the middle of the floor, towering over a shrine with indecipherable runes. The full moon radiated a pleasant white glow, giving off a silvery luster to the illusionary surroundings.

“Whoa! What’s this place?” inquired Zossie, looking frantically around.

Matsuba looked at the phantom shrine. “This, Zossie, is how the roof of the Brass Tower used to look like 700 years ago.”

Everyone looked in amazement at the memory shown by Barney. The details were so vivid, almost as if they warped back in time.

“…So this is the power of a Runerigus,” muttered Dulse, rubbing his chin. “Intriguing. I shall add this experience to my research.”

“Okay, but what’s so special about this illusion? It can’t be just the panoramic view, right?” asked Silver, glancing at Matsuba.

But then, a mighty roar pierced the silence of the night, making everyone but the Gym Leader jolt in surprise. A giant shadow zoomed over their heads, before a few small silver feathers floated toward them and phased through their bodies. Kotone looked up and gasped in amazement. “No way! That’s—!”

Everyone gazed toward the sky, their eyes widening upon realizing what was hovering above them all — Lugia, one of the legendary guardians!

That draconic bird… it was even more imposing and majestic than they had ever expected. Its eyes were gentle yet authoritative, and its entire body radiated a silver aura that cut through the darkness, making its shape stand out like a star in the black sky.

Lugia looped around the tower a few times and made the bells chime, while glancing back and forth between the building and the city. After not long, it descended toward the roof and landed on top of the shrine. The legend folded its wings and its dorsal fins raised, then it surveyed the area. Was it looking for someone?

A chorus of unknown voices reverberated in the group’s minds…


Oh, great guardians of the soul and life

Golden healer of hearts and silvery mender of minds

May our mutual auras resonate with power

So that earth and sky and mortal and deities shall become one

Our hearts echo with you

Our souls echo with you



“Huh? What was that?” asked Zossie, looking for the source.

Matsuba showed a heartening smile. “That was Barney. He can telepathically project the words transcribed by our ancestors,” explained Matsuba. “There are many mantras they used to recite whenever they communed with the guardians, and this is one of those mementos.”

A dark mist cloaked the scene, but it dissipated just as quickly. Three monks were now standing in front of the legend, carrying offerings to appease their guardian. Lugia scrutinized the monks, then it checked the offerings by pecking at them. Its gaze softened significantly and its throat made a guttural cry, before spreading out its wings and staring at the sky. That seemed to be a signal, as the monks raised their hands and aimed at the legend.

Dulse rubbed his chin. “What are those monks doing?”

“They’re about to connect with Lugia through an auric link,” responded Matsuba.

Silver glanced at the two men, then again at the scene. He made out something akin to a dark blue fire surrounding the monks, which flowed toward the legendary Pokémon and made it glow with an intense silver aura.

“Through an auric link, minds and hearts become one, and that is when humans and Pokémon can draw out their true potential…”

A loud thumping reverberated around them — a heartbeat, perhaps? — and the tower shook. Lugia roared, and the entire room flashed dark blue and silver. Grey clouds cloaked the sky and droplets began falling, rapidly turning into a gentle rain. The legendary extended a wing over the monks to protect them from the water, while the humans bowed in reverence and appreciation. The memory froze with the humans and Pokémon watching the rain.

“So, the monks connected their aura with Lugia to make it rain?” asked Kotone, tapping her mouth with a hand.

Matsuba nodded. “Yes. With an auric link, it’s possible to share wishes and hopes with a Pokémon. Back in those days, the people of Enju had found the perfect symbiosis — Lugia and Ho-Oh offered rain and sunlight, while the humans repaid them with offerings and products of the earth.” He closed his eyes. “Unfortunately, that era of unity between mortals and immortals didn’t last…”

The others stared at the Gym Leader, but before anyone could say or ask anything, the entire tower was once again shrouded in a haze. When the mist faded, the tower was still dark, and peals of thunder echoed from the black sky.

“Well, isn’t this reassuring,” muttered Silver, surveying cautiously the illusion.

Kotone frowned and glanced around. “But… where’s Lugia?”

As if to answer the question, Lugia announced its presence with a mighty roar, and the group turned toward the beast. However, there was something off about it.

Marks of battle marred its previously immaculate and splendent feathery scales, with countless scaleless patches exposing the dark blue skin underneath. Its eyes glowed with an ominous red light, matching the color of the malignant aura surrounding its body. A crimson twister surrounded the beast, who launched it toward some giant shadows hidden among the black clouds. Lightning struck, flames engulfed the tower, and a dark smoke veiled the scene.


Darkness and tyranny extended their venomous binds

Brothers fought brothers, and friends fought friends

Corrupted minds and broken hearts brought an unending night

The tower of the mind mere burnt ruins it became

Our hearts pray for you

Our souls pray for you



The haze faded, but the tower was no more — only rubble and debris surrounded the group. Matsuba had a solemn expression on his face, while the others realized immediately what happened: that was the moment in which the Brass Tower became the Burned Tower.

“This is so sad!” whined Zossie, frowning at the scene. “What was that red aura? Why was Lugia fighting?”

The expression on Matsuba’s face darkened. “…There was a war. Johto and Sinnoh fought a long and grueling battle, in which even the legends themselves ended up involved… and corrupted.” He sighed. “That red aura… it’s theorized that was a shadow auric link. While with a regular auric link you share your positive feelings and thoughts, like happiness and hope, with a shadow link…”

“…you share negative feelings and thoughts, like anger and despair,” continued Dulse, his expression neutral. “Right?”

Matsuba nodded.

“It’s weird that it didn’t result in an auric chasm…” wondered Kotone, studying the desolation surrounding them.

“This is because the hearts and minds of both humans and Pokémon were corrupted by the same anger, which grew in intensity and strength when they linked together.” Matsuba motioned toward the debris. “And this is the result.”

Silver took a deep breath and scrutinized the wreckage. The anger in the hearts and minds of those people and Pokémon… resulted in that destruction? Cold shivers ran down his spine, the words of the Kimono Girls ringing once more into his mind: what would have happened if he kept bottling up his anger? And his rage… was that the primary reason he could beat up those Team Rocket losers and delinquents? Because both he and his Pokémon shared the same feelings toward them?

But the story was different whenever he fought other Trainers — good and unwilling Trainers. When he forced them to fight, just to prove his superior strength.

Perhaps his Pokémon didn’t share the same sentiments of animosity in those cases and didn’t resonate with the redhead’s fury and prepotency. This could explain why they progressed as a team only once he let go of most of his rage… when he finally started to trust them…

So… was he the one who held back his team?



…Wow. That vision shocked Silver; he took so long to understand the words of people who criticized his training methods.

But now that he knew, he could become better. He was even more determined to become better. He only needed to figure out how…

A snowflake floated in front of the redhead, and he blinked in curiosity. He looked up and saw light gray clouds covering the sky, while the snow became more copious. Stray leaves glowed with a golden light and turned to ashes, and strong winds scattered the powdery remains.


The mighty legends and their emissaries granted a parting gift

The snow shall cool down burning spirits and foul thoughts

The ashes of fallen leaves shall sustain new life

The rainbows following rains shall preserve our hope

Our hearts rejoice with you

Our souls rejoice with you



“…and that is the origin of the shining leaves, and why fall leaves are so important in Johtonian culture — they are an indelible reminder of the end of the war, a symbol of restored peace and unity. The Sinjoh Ruins were also built for the same reason,” explained Matsuba. He extended a hand toward the sky and an illusory rainbow feather phased through his fingers.

A rainbow feather…

Golden and silver lights flashed throughout the wreckage. Three figures bolted in front of the humans: a yellow creature cloaked in sparks, a brown beast surrounded by embers, and a blue entity propelled by winds. Kotone’s eyes widened in realization. “Those creatures…”

Two shadows flew above the three beasts, and the group noticed Lugia… and Ho-Oh. Its multicolored plumage… what a magnificent sight! Everyone felt a wave of serenity rushing through them, as they watched the imposing bird flying in the sky.

“Someday, I’ll be able to see you for real, Ho-Oh…” whispered Matsuba, staring at the illusory legend with eyes full of hope.

A rainbow shot through the clouds and hid the birds and the beasts, and once its colors dimmed, the legends were gone.


The wound burns deep, but it will not ache forever

As for every dusk, it shall always follow a dawn

When the age of darkness its end it will reach

A new rainbow light shall unite us once more

Our hearts wait for you

Our souls wait for you



Dark clouds surrounded the group, and everyone started feeling heavier and heavier. The mist dissipated and unveiled the first details of the temple. It took them a while to regain their bearings and realize that the illusion broke. Luckily for them, the other visitors seemed distracted by the other relics, or by the Gardie. Someone could have thought that the visitors were more interested in the guardian dogs than the relics themselves! Meanwhile, Barney tilted his head and stared at the humans, waiting for some reaction and preparing himself to help if needed.

“So, this is it,” announced Matsuba as he let go of Barney’s tail, prompting the others to do the same with the tendrils. “Wasn’t that quite the trip back in time?”

“That was trippy, yeah…” commented Silver, before looking away, “but also very interesting.”

“Oh yeah! Being able to see Lugia, even as an illusion, was so cool! It’s way better than how I imagined it!” chirped Kotone, her eyes gleaming with joy.

Zossie nodded enthusiastically. “Yup! Barney, you’re kind of awesome!”

At hearing those positive comments, Barney cried happily and clapped his arm slabs together, making his ectoplasm quiver like jelly. He was very pleased that the humans appreciated his show of powers and were in good mood.

“…That was indeed a very instructive experience.” Dulse looked at Matsuba and Barney. “Matsuba, Barney, I thank you both for this opportunity. Now I have a clearer understanding of the bonds between humans and Pokémon, which will be a valuable asset for our research.”

Matsuba smiled at the other man. “Glad to have helped.” Barney rumbled happily and showed a thumbs-up. Something he picked up from the Gym Leader, most likely.

“So, it was a catastrophic event that destroyed that beautiful bond between those birds and the humans of Enju,” commented Zossie with a sad tone. “Kinda like what happened between us and the Blinding One…”

Silver narrowed his eyes and stared at the orange-haired girl. “Blinding One? What’s that?”

“The Blinding One is the name we give out of respect toward the creature who used to share its light with our people. Its actual name is Necrozma,” responded Dulse. Upon noticing the confusion on the others’ faces — bar Zossie — he explained. “That’s an entity mostly known in Alolan culture, so it’s understandable if you don’t know much information about it.” He crossed his arms. “For a quick summary, Necrozma used to share some of its light with our ancestors, until they got greedy and tried to control all of Necrozma’s powers at once. Deprived of most of its powers and in constant pain, Necrozma became wild, violent and corrputed with an insatiable hunger for light.”

“Yup! And just like that, our bond broke!” added Zossie, before sighing. “Perhaps, if our ancestors knew about the power of auric links, they wouldn’t have done that…”

Dulse nodded in agreement. “And this is partly why we came here. We wanted to check if there was something in common between the Enju legends and our history, and see what we can learn from our respective mistakes to fix things and improve.”

“Well, I sure hope you found what you were looking for!” said Kotone, smiling faintly.

Both the humans-in-white nodded.

“We sure did! Aah, I can’t wait to tell about that to the others! They’re gonna be so thrilled!” chirped Zossie, swaying in excitement.

Dulse frowned. “Speaking of that, I think we should depart as soon as we can. We have gathered plenty of material, and we have to report our progress and findings.”

“Aww, do we have to leave so soon?” whined Zossie, pouting at her companion.

Dulse simply nodded, his gaze firm. He wouldn’t have budged from that decision.

“…Well, okay.” Zossie turned to the others. “So, it’s been fun meeting you all! Thanks for the nice chitchat, Kotone!”

Kotone grinned. “You’re welcome! Hope we can see each other some day!”

“Yeah! See you around!”

And with a few goodbyes and hand-waves, the group split apart. Silver and Kotone rejoined their Pokémon, who were all too happy to reunite with their Trainers, and they all left for another side of the city. There was still a whole festival to explore.


***​


The Koiking Jump: a popular sport where the speediest orange carps pull small wooden floats carved in the shape of Lugia while facing the strong currents of a whirlpool. A rite of passage for the oldest and strongest Koiking, who must rely on their Swift Swim to gain enough speed and leap over a waterfall. In this way, they learn how to master the currents and awaken their dormant dragon spirit.

The leading Koiking was a calico white and pink variant belonging to a kid wearing an oversized red cap — it was so big that its brim hid his eyes! An excellent Trainer who trained many Koiking throughout the years, and who became so popular that he got featured on a Pokégear app. And there he was, looking toward his next victory.

Ordile and Maril stood by the pond, growling and squealing in excitement to cheer for their fellow Water-types. Having waterproof bodies meant they could stay close to the water without worrying about random dribbles. Meanwhile, Silver and Kotone stood at a couple of meters behind them, commenting and chitchatting about the race. Predictably, the brunette was much more lively in her commentary than the redhead, who mostly replied with a few nods and some quick quips.

«Go, Pink! Show them what you can do!» squealed Maril, wagging her tail.

«You’ve got it, Grey Smudge! Splash harder!» roared Ordile, thumping his tail and staring at a Koiking with gray patches, who was right behind the leading carp.

Maril crossed her paws. «Wow! Seeing all of those Koiking swimming makes me wish I could just hop into the water and join the race…»

«I know, right? I’d love to show everyone my improved Aqua Jet! I’ve been practicing hard for it!»

«Ah, I can tell. You seem much stronger than last time I’ve faced you. And all those muscles, wow!» Maril chuckled. «Makes me wonder who got Huge Power of the two.»

Ordile smirked with mirth. «Heh. I’ll take that as a compliment.»

The two focused again on the race and noticed that the gray Koiking was in the lead. This cheered Ordile up, but Maril’s thoughts went elsewhere.

«…You know, it’s been long since we battled each other.»

«Yes. Last time we battled was…» Ordile hissed in displeasure, «not exactly a friendly meeting, huh?»

Maril shook her head. «It wasn’t, no,» she put her paws on her hips, «but I guess that’s what happens when you meddle with certain people…»

Ordile frowned at that remark. «…Are you talking about Silver?»

«Who else? No offense, but I don’t understand your Trainer at all, nor how you can tolerate him.»

«Um… Well, he surely has his flaws — pretty big ones, too — but he’s actually not that bad. Deep down, he’s a good kid. He even risked his life for us a few times.»

«But didn’t he force you to become his partner?» asked Maril, narrowing her eyes.

«Yes, but…» Ordile took a second to gather his thoughts. «He was… scared, alright? He fled from home, he didn’t have friends, and he was looking for some strong Pokémon to keep him safe. Heck, he feared his mother could find him at any given moment and force him to join Team Rocket against his will.»

Ordile waited for Maril to retort, but when she just stared at him in silence, he continued.

«True, I was mad at him for taking me away and making me fight Hibiki and my good friend, Hinoarashi, against my will. I even showered him with a Water Gun when he sent me out the first time.»

Maril giggled at hearing that, and Ordile himself chuckled at the memory — the stunned stare on his Trainer’s face was priceless! However, the laughter died quickly, and Ordile took a more serious expression.

«But then, once he experienced firsthand how hard it is the life of a Trainer and after a few… things I’m not comfortable bringing up, he began opening up to me. He had a pretty rough childhood, to put it simply, and when I’ve heard about what he went through, I… I didn’t have it in my heart to abandon him.» Ordile took a quick sad glance at his Trainer, then he looked at the race. Every Koiking had just become a featureless blur. «So, I stayed by his side and helped him out, to make sure he didn’t get in trouble or danger with his abrasive personality. And at the end, everything went in the right place.»

Maril blinked. «What do you mean?»

«He experienced the world. He saw other Trainers, other Pokémon. He fell many times, but always stood back up, stronger and wiser. He learned about friendship, love, and trust — things he couldn’t get back in his hometown.» Ordile grinned. «He became a better person, and he is still improving. I’m very proud of his progress, and I’m glad the professor understood my wish to stay with him. I… don’t know what I would have done if we had to part ways.»

«…Wow. I had no idea,» said Maril, stunned by Ordile’s tale.

«Yeah. Most people don’t know anything about him, and he still struggles to open up to others. However, I can see that Kotone is slowly chipping away at the barrier he’s keeping around his heart.» He chuckled. «I guess she’s rubbing off some of her unlimited cheerfulness on him.»

«Hmm…» Maril looked again at the race — Pink and Grey were swimming side by side. «Okay, but even if your Trainer is getting better, that doesn’t mean he has to be such a spoilsport; he doesn’t like anything!» she grumbled. «We have tried some seasonal snacks; checked a competition of craft made from shining leaves; strolled through the orange paths of the garden besides the temple. Every time, he either huffed, or sighed, or rolled his eyes!»

«Nothing that I didn’t expect from him,» responded Ordile, before glancing behind. «However, I’d like you to look carefully at him now.»

«Huh?»

Maril turned around and stared hard at Silver. She saw the narrowed eyes, the eyebrows furrowed, the neutral… smile? The mouse’s eyes widened subtly, while Ordile grinned.

«You’re seeing it, aren’t you? That smile. He’s actually enjoying the festival!» The alligator’s grin widened. «It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him happy about something that doesn’t involve training and battling.»

Maril stared at Ordile as if he had grown a new head. «What? He’s happy

«Yeah! He doesn’t like to show off his emotions, but I’ve been with him for three years and I can more or less tell what he’s thinking.» Ordile glanced at Kotone. «Oh! And look at Kotone’s smile. I bet she’s considering that the greatest of feats, too.»

Maril observed her Trainer carefully, who was talking about something while Silver listened. The grin on Kotone’s face was one of the brightest the mouse had ever seen. The brunette was truly using her best tricks to get Silver out of his shell, and most puzzling of all, it was working!

However, was she so cheerful because her persistence was paying off, or because of…?

But before the two Pokémon could continue their conversation, shocked outcries came from the surrounding crowd, and they looked around in puzzlement. What was happening?

Maril noticed that everyone was looking toward the sky, and she followed their gazes. «What the…?! Ordile! Look over there!»

Ordile did as asked and immediately understood why everyone was freaking out: a wild Pigeon caught the calico Koiking. The mid-sized pigeon flaunted the pink feathers on its head with confidence and clutched the carp harder, which squirmed helplessly. Whatever Splash the Koiking had pulled off to jump so high was about to turn the fish into bird lunch. Ordile growled, droplets of water gathering inside his jaws.

«Hey, you punk! Leave that Koiking alone!» roared Ordile at the pigeon, readying himself to shoot a water stream.

But then, the struggling Koiking glowed with a blinding white light, while its body became more amorphous… and bigger. Ordile dispelled the watery energy, surprised by the turn of events.

«Wait, is that…?» cried Maril in alarm.

«Oh darn! It’s really that

With a burst of draconic speed, Ordile rushed toward their two Trainers and wrapped his arms around them, much to the astonishment of both. That proved to be timely, as the snatched carp morphed into an enormous serpent of light and dragged the startled bird down with its increased mass.

Splash! A tidal wave drenched the unlucky guests, who didn’t interpret the warning signs in time. Luckily, Ordile’s imposing size shielded both Silver and Kotone from the wave, the water flowing harmlessly down his scales and not a single drop hitting the two teenagers. Maril was unfazed as well, her water-repelling fur keeping her completely dry. Groans, huffs and murmurs sounded all around them, echoing the displeasure of the various guests.

“Whoa, huh! Thanks, Ordile,” breathed out Kotone, baffled by what transpired.

“…Yeah. Good job,” said Silver, flashing a small smile. However, he quickly realized how close he was being held to Kotone and winced in embarrassment. “…Huh. Okay, you can let us go now.”

Ordile nodded and released both Trainers from his grip. Kotone readjusted her cap and checked on her kimono to make sure no water ended on it, while Silver dusted off the sleeves with his hands, unconsciously trying to shake off the awkwardness.

The two still-dry teenagers and their Pokémon looked at the other guests, soaked from head to sandals or paws with the fresh water of the pond. The local six-tailed foxes were quick to offer their help, starting a few rounds of Heat Wave to dry the participants faster.

And the newly evolved calico Gyarados? It looked at everyone around in embarrassment, its stare going from the fleeing Pigeon, to the wet guests, to the rival Koiking flopping helplessly on the floor, to its own Trainer who was squeezing his soaked cap.

Kotone sweatdropped and chuckled nervously. “Err… Well, that’s one flashy way to awaken a dragon spirit, I suppose!”

“Hmph! There’s a time and place for evolution,” commented Silver, crossing his arms and looking impassively at the scene, “and that wasn’t it.”

“Um, I think we could… just go somewhere else, yeah? I very much doubt they’ll continue the race.”

“As long as we won’t have other surprises…” Silver glanced at the brunette. “What’s in your mind?”

Kotone narrowed her eyes in thought, before clapping her hands and grinning. “Say… Are you hungry? I know a good place…”
 
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- Some random shiny Lugia named Odessa?
- Is that description of gold/silver on Navel Rock a real thing?
- A ripple, then other nine. <- Awkward wording
- Wait but isn't the Lugia in XD shiny locked?
- So uh will it be explained why it was just released, and after being given a nickname at that?
- And the title card!
- Well, there are plenty of reasons they might choose something else, SIlver. Although I think my unwritten Super Poke Wars idea for them might have been the silliest.
- I hope this isn't the version of the events where SIlver stripped Hibiki for no good reason other than fangirl bait, I guess.
- So why's Goldenrod get an alternate name for clarity but not Ecruteak?
- Man I forgot Krabby is literally just Crab in Japanese and that makes the name look ridiculous.
- Oh, pointless character is here. I guess SIlver really did strip Hibiki.
- Shoutouts to being comfy and easy to wear. And Kotone trying to be showy to SIlver.
- Lots of worldbuilding fluff follows.
- You'd think an event like this would have a lot of visitors...
- had a very pale skin <- Typo
- Also wtf what are these nerds doing here
- Stuff, stuff, also Ransei stuff.
- Shoutouts to weird concepts
- Like that you repeat the bleeding heart phrase here.
- Was him challenging them a remake only thing?
- Always wonder and think if people actually do zone out when flashbacking.
- Barney the rock? I thought it was a dinosaur. Or Fred Flintstone's best friend. Or one of Homer Simpson's.
- So they speak English in the Ultra World, and they have Runerigus there? Am I getting that right?
- Blue fire tends to be ethereal, and Silver is seeing it anyway. Hmhmhm. Well, probably nothing. Or just Barney the not-dinosaur's abilities.
- Ah, going with the direction that all negative thoughts are evil. Hm.
- Also a Johto and Sinnoh war? Pretty distanced. What about the regions in-between?
- Like how hearts/souls is repeated a lot in this scene
- Interesting connection for the Sinjoh Ruins at the very least, which are poorly explained otherwise.
- Wonder if this was just a setup or if it's going to come into play later? I give it 50/50 at this point, since all of the legendaries are involved in a big secret meeting.
- Oh great, you're even putting in the Magikarp Jump. Big props for finding a way to cram so much in all at once, though. Just be careful you don't burn out.
- And an exchange between Pokemon?
- Wonder how bad the uncomfortable things are...
- And everything goes to hell. Of course it would.
- Although I was half-expecting that to actually happen, so. Also oh man. Pigeon. They were super duper creative with the names back then. Your Japanese naming conventions kind of look absurd here when you have Pigeon, its name, and pigeon, what it is, in the same place. Good thing you don't subscribe to the cult of lowercase.
- So uh did the entire crowd just stand there watching not realizing what was about to happen because even though that sounds about right I'd like to think at least a few would get it.
- Curious, what color did the calico now-Gyarados end up as? The fic noticeably doesn't say. Except maybe implying it's still calico?
- Shoutouts to anime and sweatdrops at the back of the head? Huh.

The fic continues to continue, shifting focus to Silver. Not the direction I was expecting it to go in with the useless sidekick character showing up, as well as in her Mario-esque design, but shrug. Mostly a chapter to set up Silver and some more backstory though, and hey, is a good thing. Business will surely have time to pick up once we get to the Battle Revolution. Liked it! That said, something felt a bit off about how you paced it, but, probably something that couldn't have been fixed by way expanding things. Might just be me, though.
 
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Belated, but here's a post dedicated to replies to reviews! I will post the new chapter as soon as I'm done with formatting and stuff.

Thanks for the support so far! You rock! :3

Okay, new fic means new fic to read. I like some of these preamble ramblings. Even if I know nothing about Masters besides DeNA. Two mobile game limit, which is FEH and FFRK.
Oh, knowledge of Master won't be needed. That was mostly my inspiration, but most stuff is explained in-universe.

- Shoutouts to Sneasel's original design! But why's it nicknamed? He stole the thing, unless that WAS its nickname (and given Shuckie had one I'm inclined to think the OT was a nicknamer) he couldn't have changed the nickname. Unless this is Gen 8 mechanics.
Ah, glad to see you noticed that! :3

But yes, the whole nickname thing is game-only. It doesn't make much sense in-universe to not rename a Pokémon in another way.

- OHHHHH, they're the Japanese names. I assume so by using the Japanese location name. That's just confusing! But I can get the stylistic choice, just was disorienting.
Yep! I'm going to put warnings and use the hover text function more extensively from now onward, so that you only need to hover to check the translation.

- Man, you wrote prize money in the nastiest possible way. I mean it's inherently kind of like that when you think about it.
Heh, that's how things go among Trainers. After all, even we beat up random Trainers for money and training. :p

- Also, heretic alert: ME!! Walking Pokemon are stupid and overrated, especially when it comes to forcing the first Pokemon in your party and not being able to see the ball animations.
I guess that's a subjective game topic, but in terms of story I like to explore the personalities of the Pokémon as well, and they can't do much while hidden inside Poké Balls. So, walking Pokémon are definitely a thing in this story.

- Okay, or, maybe this is post-development. Hard to tell by his attitude.
Definitely post-development, but he's still somewhat abrasive. That's how Silver is, and it's not like you can shed all your flaws in a night.

- So why's Silver still Silver and not Kamon or whatever, when Gold is Hibiki?
Because Silver is the romanization of his Japanese name, which is written as Shiruba. Also, he is bilingual "Japanese"/"English", so he goes with the English pronunciation.

- Hibiki must've used Gameshark (against the sharker himself no less), that's how a Typhlosion can beat a Dragonite with a not very effective move.
Or he could have overleveled. Give Typhlosion a Choice Specs and his attack is gonna hurt. :p

- I mean understanding your Pokemon is often very poorly explained or requires special abilities.
Yeah, but Silver never bothered to even learn the body language of Pokémon. He's starting learning only now.

- He can see the hailstorms all the way from down there?
I mean, I could see storms on mountains from a few specific locations. The shape and size of the clouds say a lot.

- Gyms closing is also very poorly explained, especially when they could delay a journey for forever.
Heh! Some Gym Leaders do as they please. This topic will be mentioned somewhat in Chapter 3.

- I thought the lore was the talk show was prerecorded and he didn't do much and eventually quit? Some of that at least.
Yeah, but he still needs to leave his Lab to prerecord stuff at the studio.

- Always bugs me to see "Galarish" and such, when the actual games themselves do use the names of actual languages to refer to languages.
Kinda mentioned in the Discord server, but just like there is no such thing as England in the setting, there can't be such thing as English. It's still technically the same, just with a different name. Kind of like how German is translated as Tedesco in Italian despite being the same language.

- Interesting implication of what happened there. Giovanni potentially being unwanting to take over Team Rocket, I'm guessing?
Yep! I'm going with a mostly unexplored road with Gio, rather than the usual alpha villain of the series. That honor will go to RR Gio.

- Fine! Silver didn’t need him. He didn’t need anyone! <- Like this bit, even if it's more of a teen sort of thing than a ten year old.
Well, human children in the Pokémon world are a bit more mature than real life humans. Aside from that, there is more underneath that...

- Wonder what sort of angle you're going for, using the Japanese names and the English names for Team Rocket members.
Out-of-universe, shoutouts. In-universe, codenames.

- Okay, uh. Didn't see you making Ariana the mother. If I recall correctly, that was a fanon thing?
Yep, a fanon thing that I'm integrating in my setting.

- How did Silver make it all the way to New Bark, anyway?
He stole several Max Repels from his mother.

- Surprised Silver can tell all that just by looking at it. Guess he's a paper and letter expert in this universe.
Or he simply has learned a few things from his father's "business".

- Curious, is it canon that it's in Orre, or did you move it there for plot purposes?
Plot purposes. Also because Battle Revolution is made by the same producers who made Colosseum/XD, so I'm linking those things together.

- Stolen Pokemon in Unova by Cipher amuses me personally since in the first iteration of my unwritten Super Poke Wars fic, Wes showed up as a member of Snagem very early in Unova as BW1 is starting.
:lapras: Color me interested!

- It comes in bottles not cans in-game, but I imagine it SHOULD come in cans if it's a real soda brand.
Well, I actually took inspiration from its Gen 1 artwork. Also, I've been in Japan, and most soft drinks are sold in cans.



- Er did no one think to check on him as he was flipping out? I mean it seems reasonable but comes with some implications about the people as a side-effect.
I've fixed that part by having him isolated from the rest.

- Is the Magnemite powering the train from some other media, or is this just another original invention?
Original invention. Also, who better than Magnemite to handle magnetism?

- Oh, it's this clown. He had some amusing dialogue.
- The future??? And it was Calyrex? Well I was completely wrong on that front.
Now I wonder who you were talking about...

- So uh is Hereafter Calyrex, whatever it looks like, just casually having a conversation with a Zygarde Cell in the middle of a train station?
Nearby, actually. And Calyrex isn't too worried -- he can easily wipe the memories of witnesses if needed, so...

Okay, well that took longer to read than expected. It was a bit long for an intro, not gonna lie. That said it didn't really drag either except for the exposition at the end. I imagine the introductions aren't over just yet either, we still have a couple other main characters to get through as well as possibly more given that Disc 0 is three chapters long.

That said, I liked it. And I am intrigued by the premise as well. Like alternate world stuff, and doesn't get much nuttier than alternate worlds coming to clash. Looking forward to what's next!
I'm glad you liked it! Can't wait to get to the crazy stuff, either! :D
Hello there! I’m your Secret Santa for this year! It took me a while, but I finally managed to put my thoughts together for your story so far. I don’t know if any feedback I have to offer will really be of any use to you, but I hope you feel you manage to get at least something from it. I definitely like the very first scene you set up--dark, violent, sets the tone, and really hooks you in. Very few writers are able to set up a hook like this so easily.
Thanks for coming by! I'm really glad to hear that the beginning hooked you -- the start of new stories has always been a bit of a concern of mine, so this surely makes me very happy. ^^

I do have to admit, I’m not used to people writing Pokemon using their Japanese names, as I’m so used to their English names, so seeing their Japanese names threw me off at first. Of course, I know this is intentional on your part, so no worries about that. Do appreciate the underlines explaining which Pokemon they are, too! (Though you forgot to put one for Totodile, I noticed)
Yeah, this is a stylistic choice used by the main character while walking through the Japan-based setting. In places like Orre, which is based on Arizona/USA, the names will be in English.

It’s rare for people to write fics centering around Silver, so good on you for deciding to have him be a protagonist. From the looks of it, the fic takes place after the events of the games, what with Silver mentioning Hibiki defeating Red. You do a good job of putting the reader into Silver’s headspace, such as his frustration with Green being away, his conflicting feelings about his old childhood home, his anger towards Giovanni, all of it was palpable and compelling. I also like the detail that Giovanni is actually a fake name he used for himself to hide that his real name is Sakaki, and with Ariana doing the same thing. That’s a neat way to tie the Japanese and English names in there! You’ve got a good grasp at characterization here, and I’m genuinely interested in seeing what’s to come.
I'm really happy to read that! And also good job at inferring all that info from the chapter -- that was precisely what I was aiming for! :bulbaLove:

I am wondering, though: Calyrex and Zygarde are talking in the middle of a crowded train station, and no one happened to notice them? With Calyrex being a mythical Pokemon, I’m surprised nobody has noticed them or made a huge deal of their presence. I would recommend writing it so that maybe Calyrex happened to materialize in a place where there isn’t a whole lot of people. Or making it so that they’re invisible or something, since the Zygarde cores can camoglage themselves.
Well, they're talking nearby the station and most of the passengers have left, but I'll see to make it clearer that they are in a more isolated area.

Normally I’d say more, but System Error already summed up everything else I wanted to say, so I won’t belabor the point here. All in all, I think you’re off to a good start! That’s about it from me. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a good day!
Thanks for your lovely review! I hope you had a pleasant year so far! ^^[/QUOTE]
- Some random shiny Lugia named Odessa?
Yeah! In my setting have both regular legends and shinies. There will be some reasoning behind that as the plot progresses.

- Is that description of gold/silver on Navel Rock a real thing?
No. I just noticed that Navel Rock appears in different ways on FRLG and Emerald, so I tried to incorporate both details in some way.



- A ripple, then other nine. <- Awkward wording
Noted.

- Wait but isn't the Lugia in XD shiny locked?
I think so, but for the sake of the plot, I'm ignoring this detail.

- So uh will it be explained why it was just released, and after being given a nickname at that?
Odessa is not released, actually. She just temporarily left Michael. Just because she is a caught Pokémon, it doesn't mean that she doesn't have responsibilities toward the world anymore. (Also, I somewhat predated the anime with this chapter, as today's episode has pulled off a similar idea.)

- I hope this isn't the version of the events where SIlver stripped Hibiki for no good reason other than fangirl bait, I guess.
*laughs* Oh, you will see what happened then!

- So why's Goldenrod get an alternate name for clarity but not Ecruteak?
Simply because it's never mentioned and there was no reason to mention it.

- Man I forgot Krabby is literally just Crab in Japanese and that makes the name look ridiculous.
I know, right?

- Oh, pointless character is here. I guess SIlver really did strip Hibiki.
*laughs harder*

- You'd think an event like this would have a lot of visitors...
They're just busy with the parade.

- Was him challenging them a remake only thing?
Yes. The Kimono Girls got an expanded role in the remakes, and that was one of the few remake additions.

- Always wonder and think if people actually do zone out when flashbacking.
The way I interpret it, you basically have a vacant expression, but thoughts race fast. He stayed stuck for a few seconds or so, before being snapped back to reality.

- Barney the rock? I thought it was a dinosaur. Or Fred Flintstone's best friend. Or one of Homer Simpson's.
Well, that's still technically Stone Age, so... :p

- So they speak English in the Ultra World, and they have Runerigus there? Am I getting that right?
Yep, even though they are pretending to come from Alola.

- Blue fire tends to be ethereal, and Silver is seeing it anyway. Hmhmhm. Well, probably nothing. Or just Barney the not-dinosaur's abilities.
I had no idea my stove was ethereal! XD But yes, it's a mix between mystical experience and Barney showing stuff.

- Ah, going with the direction that all negative thoughts are evil. Hm.
Not necessarily evil. They just fuel shadow auras.

- Also a Johto and Sinnoh war? Pretty distanced. What about the regions in-between?
Either they stayed neutral or they were dragged into the conflict. Point is that Johto and Sinnoh were the main contenders for *spoilers*.

- Like how hearts/souls is repeated a lot in this scene
Hearts and souls will be a recurring theme in the story. I'm just laying down the layers early.

- Interesting connection for the Sinjoh Ruins at the very least, which are poorly explained otherwise.
Just wait until we get to the actual Sinjoh Ruins! There's plenty of cool stuff I'm planning to bring forth!

- Wonder if this was just a setup or if it's going to come into play later? I give it 50/50 at this point, since all of the legendaries are involved in a big secret meeting.
Every event matters in some way. This is just a sneak peek of more things to come.

- Although I was half-expecting that to actually happen, so. Also oh man. Pigeon. They were super duper creative with the names back then. Your Japanese naming conventions kind of look absurd here when you have Pigeon, its name, and pigeon, what it is, in the same place. Good thing you don't subscribe to the cult of lowercase.
Ha ah ah! Yeah! Some names are... so weird.

- So uh did the entire crowd just stand there watching not realizing what was about to happen because even though that sounds about right I'd like to think at least a few would get it.
Most had sandals. Not exactly ideal when you need to flee.

- Curious, what color did the calico now-Gyarados end up as? The fic noticeably doesn't say. Except maybe implying it's still calico?
I just imagined it as being the classic blue with some white and black patches, but I could put some more details.

The fic continues to continue, shifting focus to Silver. Not the direction I was expecting it to go in with the useless sidekick character showing up, as well as in her Mario-esque design, but shrug.
This story can be defined with this sentence: Almost everyone is here! Yes, even the most unusual choices appear.

Mostly a chapter to set up Silver and some more backstory though, and hey, is a good thing. Business will surely have time to pick up once we get to the Battle Revolution. Liked it! That said, something felt a bit off about how you paced it, but, probably something that couldn't have been fixed by way expanding things. Might just be me, though.
More like the ship. Stuff will go full swing there, but first I needed to lay down Silver's progress as a character and what is to come.

Anyway, thanks for the reviews so far! Really appreciated! :bulbaLove:
 
Disk 0, Chapter 3: "Bullies, Athletes and Golden Bonfires"
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Disc 0:

The Monster… Coach and the Rainbow!

“Bullies, Athletes and Golden Bonfires”



***


[Note: this chapter uses Japanese names of Pokémon, people and locations. I’m making sure to help determine who is who and what is what throughout the narration, however.]


***​


A Lucky Yakisoba for Kotone, filled with fried noodles, fresh eggs and thinly cut mushrooms, and a Matoma Ramen for Silver, an explosion of mild spicy tomato flavor and seafood. Those were the specialties of the Oceanic Blast, a restaurant popular among Trainers because of its lovely atmosphere made of enthralling scents, freshly prepared dishes, wooden tables and black paintings on blue walls depicting Lugia and other underwater creatures.

Also, it had a well-kept internal garden where people could let their Pokémon out and give them foods appropriate to their species, ranging from protein shakes enriched with iron and other minerals for Silver’s Crobat and some stranger’s Ariados, to some berries for Kotone’s Pichu and Silver’s Foodin (who was entertaining the younger Pokémon by telekinetically juggling some bowls with his two psychic spoons), to raw fish for Ordile and a Persian with a pink ribbon around its neck.

Despite the minor grievance of not being able to eat with their own Pokémon for hygiene reasons, that was the ideal place for many Trainers to talk about their respective journeys and trade battle tips.

Kotone’s eyes gleamed under the lighting of the restaurant and her cheeks became rosier as she stared at her dish; what a wonderful aroma!

“Oooh yeah! This gotta go to my food diary!” exclaimed the brunette. She activated her Pokégear and snapped a few photos, choosing the best angles and beam her best smiles. Just the time for her photos to be online that she received plenty of virtual Lovecus — or, as her Galarish-speaking friends would say, Luvdisc — in response, which made her grin in delight.

Silver, however, focused entirely on his ramen, nodding a few times as he enjoyed the taste and texture of the handmade noodles. And that sauce! It had the perfect balance between spice and spiciness, enough to give that tingling pleasure without making the mouth burst into flames. A massive step up from the instant noodles he used to eat, that’s for sure.

He blinked at his table companion, befuddled by her behavior. “I thought you were hungry. What’re you doing?”

“Oh, I gotta update my blog. My friends love to check out my food diary, where I upload photos of the dishes I try out and recipes of bon juices to improve my Pokémon’s performance,” she responded, her gaze locked on the screen. “I could send you a link, if you want.”

Silver inspected her smartwatch: crisp LCD graphics, customizable cover, and dozens of available functions. That was a Pokégear HGSS-09, the latest trend popular among young Trainers… Tch! What a waste of money! He was perfectly fine with his five-year-old Pokégear GSC-00. It’s not like he used it for anything outside of messages, radio and GPS, anyway.

“I’m not really interested in that kinda stuff,” he said, wrapping some noodles around his chopsticks, “but you mentioned bon juice recipes.”

Kotone nodded. “Yeah?”

“Aren’t those usually prepared by Pokéathletes?”

Another nod. “A-ha.”

Silver paused, his eyes narrowed, and the dots connected. “So you’re a Pokéathlete?”

“Yup! That’s correct.” Kotone put her Pokégear in sleep mode and started digging into the noodles with her chopsticks. “Participating to the Pokéthlon has always been my dream! Pokémon battles are fun and all, yeah, but they’re a secondary goal for me.” She took a piece of mushroom out of her plate. “Though, I always do my best to balance both activities out. After all, Pokémon must build their stamina and strength, too.”

“Ah…”

Neither teenager talked as they focused on eating their noodles — they had to eat their dishes while they were still warm, after all! However, it didn’t take long for Kotone to speak up again. “…And say, have you ever tried the Pokéthlon?”

Silver glanced at the girl, before staring at his ramen and fishing a piece of crab from his bowl. “No, never cared about it.”

“I think you should give it a go. The Pokéthlon is an excellent way to improve a Pokémon’s finesse, after all.”

“Tsk! That’s hardly relevant during actual Pokémon battles. Working on ways to overpower my opponents has worked well for me,” he rebutted, before chewing on the crab piece. “So why should I bother with that frivolous stuff?”

“Because brute force alone isn’t enough.”

Silver rolled his eyes. “Hmph. I know well that brute force alone isn’t enough! That’s when strategy comes into play.”

“Well, what if I told you that Akane participates in those, too? And that she’s very good at both her Gym Leader duties and athletic performances, especially the speed competitions?” asked Kotone, waving a piece of egg in her chopsticks.

That bit of information piqued Silver’s curiosity: Akane, the infamous Normal-type Gym Leader and renowned “Destroyer of New Trainers”, participated in those competitions, too? Not that it was too surprising, considering her obsession with cute and graceful Pokémon.

“Okay… so?” he asked, not understanding where Kotone was getting at.

“You must have challenged her to get the Regular Plain Badge, right?”

“Yeah, of course I did.”

“Then you must know how tough she is, no? From what I’ve heard, her Attract and Rollout combo is really strong and can catch many inexperienced Trainers by surprise.” Kotone waved her chopsticks. “And how did her Pippi’s Attract become so effective? How did her Miltank’s Rollout become so fast? That was by focusing on her Pokémon’s appeal potential and speed, too, which are essential skills in both competitions.”

Silver frowned. He remembered clearly what a nuisance that combination used to be. That pink star-shaped Pokémon throwing hearts left and right… Ugh! Such a sappy-looking attack!

“Yes, that was indeed annoying. However,” he glanced at his noodles and wrapped a clump of them around his chopsticks, “people make a bigger deal about it than it really is. All I needed was to use Ghost against Pippi to disrupt her with Confuse Ray, then go with Coil to paralyze Miltank and finish the job with a few Sonicboom.” He ate the noodles, then chuckled with pride. “Got the Badge on my first try!”

“Wow! That’s impressive!” remarked Kotone, staring at the redhead in awe.

Silver smirked. “Heh. Nothing more than some basic planning, really. Anyone can come up with some half-decent strategy if they stop to think about what they’re doing for a second.”

“Well, you’ve surely grown a lot as a Trainer! What have you been doing these past months?” she asked, before eating a clump of soba.

Silver narrowed his eyes, trying to recall the last time he met Kotone so that he could start from there… but nothing came to mind. He stared blankly at her, not knowing how to begin.

Kotone sensed his plight, so she lent him a hand. “Hibiki told me he has seen you in Kanto, and that Trainers are tougher over there. It must have been an excellent place to train!”

Silver grumbled: why couldn’t Hibiki mind his own business and not blab about their meetings and stuff with strangers? Granted, Kotone was no stranger, and that was the hook he needed to not keep staring at her in awkward silence.

“Yes… that’s correct,” he responded, stirring the remaining broth. “I’ve been gathering the Badges over there so that I can participate in the Kanto League at the end of the year.”

“Oooh! Planning the big stuff here! Nice!” exclaimed Kotone, looking at the redhead in admiration. “And how’s your progress? Did you get ‘em all?”

“Almost. I’m missing the Green Earth Badge.”

“Oh? Why’s that? Is the last Gym Leader too tough?”

Silver glared at the remaining noodles and poked at a piece of octopus. “No. The Gym Leader’s on a trip and won’t be back until next month.”

“Really? That’s odd.” Kotone poured some green tea into her glass, pondering about the closed Gym. “Shouldn’t there be a temporary substitute, in case a Gym Leader can’t attend their duties for such a long time?”

Silver’s glare intensified. “Hmph! Indeed, but apparently that concept makes way too much sense.”

“Wow. It must really suck, though. To know you’re one Badge short and that you can’t get it yet…”

Silver grumbled, refusing to say anything else on the matter, and brought some noodles into his mouth. Kotone got the message loud and clear and drank her tea, scrambling to find some way to change topics. Then she found a small foothold.

“Well, huh… but you already have other plans, right?” she inquired.

“…Yes. I must reach Asagi by the end of the day.”

“Ah! Lemme guess, you wanna try the Battle Tower?”

“I considered that,” he shook his head, “but no. I need to catch a ship tomorrow in the late morning.”

Kotone blinked. “A… ship? Funny that you mention that, because I’ve got to catch a ship tomorrow morning, too! For a tournament, to be exact.”

Now it was Silver’s turn to be surprised, and he stared suspiciously at Kotone. “…For Pokétopia?”

“Yes! That’s it!” She took a second to connect the dots and her eyes widened. “Wait! If you know about it, that means… You’ve got an invitation as well?”

“Yeah. I received it yesterday.”

“For me, it was a week ago. Though, I hung around at my grandparents’ place to help them out with their work.” She grinned and placed her hands on her lap. “Even so, it’s great that you’re in! I always knew you were a capable Trainer, and the fact they’ve invited you is the proof. You’re pretty famous, after all!”

“Famous, or infamous?” asked Silver, his eyes narrowing.

“Does it matter? Your skills as a Trainer are undeniable. I mean, didn’t you place in the Top 4 or something at the latest Johto League?”

“Yeah, I was the runner-up…” he muttered, before drinking some tea to placate the increasing tingle in his mouth.

The winner of the silver trophy… it was almost like the universe itself looked for creative ways to mock him about his ‘perennial runner-up’ status.

But! Things would have changed soon! He knew it! Next time, he would have reached the top of the top!

“Then you have what it takes for this tournament!” exclaimed Kotone with confidence. “I’m sure you’ll go very far!”

And of course, that girl had to bring more of her optimism to the table. Silver cocked an eyebrow and lowered his glass. “…You know we’ll be competing against each other, right? Encouraging and rooting for your opponents doesn’t seem exactly a wise strategy.”

“Well, I’m participating more for the experience than for the victory. There will be so many people from all regions: it’s a unique opportunity!” she responded, before pumping her fists with enthusiasm. “But don’t get me wrong; I fully intend to give it all during the tournament! So watch out; you’ll have to sweat to snatch the victory from me!”

Silver chuckled, somewhat amused. So even she had some competitive bones. Good. “Heh. We’ll see about that.”

“Anyway, wanna know a few goodies I’ve found out about the championship?” she asked, winking meaningfully.

“…I’m all ears.”

“Okay, good! So, as you might have found out from the timetable, Trainers from all over the world will attend the tournament. However, I’ve heard that many members of the various Elite Four and regional Champions will participate as well. In fact, Wataru will be there, too.”

Silver regarded Kotone with a stunned glance, before flashing an intrigued smirk. “Now that’s interesting! I have a score to settle with that Dragon Tamer!”

“And, ah… as the current Johto League Champion, Hibiki told me he has accepted and will be there, too.”

That goody was far less exciting, and Silver’s smile faltered. Not unexpected, but it didn’t make the news any easier to swallow. “I see…” He looked again at his bowl and sipped some broth.

“And the same goes with… huh…” she started twiddling her fingers, knowing well that Silver wouldn’t like that news, “with Kris…”

Silver stiffened; the shock was so great that he sipped the broth too fast. He coughed to clear his throat and his eyes widened. “K-Kris?!”

Kotone looked apprehensively at the redhead and patted him on his back to help him out. “Oh, my! Do you need water?”

Silver coughed again and shook his head. “N-no, I’m fine now…”

Kotone sat back and scrutinized Silver, looking for any unconscious signals for trouble: she knew from their few meetings that he refused to ask openly for help, so she got ready to assist him even without being asked to. However, the redhead recovered without a hitch and huffed when his windpipe was cleared of any liquid.

“So, Kris will be there, too.” He groaned. “What joy…”

The shift of expression on his face was noticeable, with one emotion standing out — disgruntlement.

“Huh, yeah. I could infer that you two are still on bad terms, from what she told about you…”

Oh, great! Not only Hibiki had to blab about him, but that annoying blue girl had to do the same and share whatever nonsensical gossip with other people? It was a matter of time until Wataru emulated those two kids… if he wasn’t doing that already, of course.

Pushing his grievances aside, Silver stared unhappily at Kotone. “‘Bad terms’ is quite the understatement. She plainly despises me!”

“Err… You just need to give her some time; Kris is stubborn like that. She… always disliked criminal organizations and irresponsible Trainers, and her hatred toward them intensified after a grunt of Team Rocket tried to steal her Chicorita. And considering that your relatives are… huh, well…” she trailed off, unsure of where her train of thought was going.

Silver’s eyes narrowed and his lips thinned. “Right…”

“B-but I’m sure she’ll get around that and get to know you for who you are!” She paused, drumming her fingers on her lap. “Someday…”

Silver shook his head. “It’s far more likely that Donfan will learn how to fly than to get Kris to change opinion about me.”

“Aww, don’t think like that,” replied Kotone, her eyes full of sympathy toward the redhead. She could only imagine how difficult it must be to stay in his shoes.

Silver gazed downward. “…But I can’t really blame her. I always pushed my Pokémon too hard and rarely thanked them for their efforts.” He sighed and shook his head. “I’m still surprised they didn’t abandon me by now…”

“Hmm… But you’ve got better at understanding their needs and feelings, no? That’s what matters!” she pointed out, before rubbing her chin. “Besides, Pokémon are very accepting and forgiving by nature, for better or for worse. I bet they’ve found something in you that attracted them.”

Silver laughed hollowly. “Indeed. Perhaps they appreciate my dry sense of humor or they have bad tastes in people…”

“Silver! Don’t say such things!” exclaimed Kotone, pouting and placing her fists on her hips. “Besides, I can tell you’re taking good care of your Pokémon!”

The redhead flashed a taunting gaze. “Oh, really? Then enlighten me. How d’you reach such a brilliant conclusion?”

Kotone cocked an eyebrow; Silver was definitely provoking her into proving him right, but she knew already how to respond. It was time to show off her newest skills!

She motioned toward the garden, where Ordile was interacting enthusiastically with Maril.

“Well then, let’s look at your Ordile, for example. I don’t see any loss in the muscle mass around his jaws, nor his neck, nor even his tail. That’s a sign of both good alimentary habits and training regimen — Wakinoko and its evolutions need plenty of food and exercise to have firm muscles and swift reflexes. So, that’s covered.”

She crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. “His scales have minor to none signs of injuries. That means he’s producing enough keratin to keep his external armor as sturdy as possible, limiting the risks of getting seriously injured by attacks. Also, those scales are bright, so his thermoregulation works efficiently, and he isn’t suffering from any illness or emotional stress.” She glanced at the redhead. “So, to put it simply, you’re taking good care of your Pokémon. Nice job!”

Silver stared at Kotone in stunned silence and the brunette beamed a proud smirk, amused by the redhead’s flabbergasted expression. He wasn’t expecting to have his taunt countered so cleverly and scrambled to find some angle to tackle her argument.

Then, after a minute of awkward silence, he found his voice. “How d’you…?”

Kotone kept smiling, but her pride made way to cheerfulness. “My grandparents are the owners of the Pokémon Day Care in Route 34. You should have heard about it.”

“…By hearsay.”

“Anyway, I’ve learned a lot of things about how to raise Pokémon from them. They taught me all the secrets to detect the most common body signals and find out whether a Pokémon is stressed out or sick, and what to do in the various cases.” She sighed. “I sure hope I’ll be able to reach their level someday…”

Silver flashed a puzzled expression. “So, wait… You wanna become a Pokémon Breeder?”

“That’s a path I had considered, yeah.”

“Ah.”

“Nothing’s confirmed, though. For now, I’m focusing on becoming a better Pokéathlete, alongside my team. After that, well, I’ll see what to do. But I believe that it’s better to develop multiple skills in various areas, so that I can be ready to take on whatever path I choose later, no?”

“…I suppose,” he narrowed his eyes in deep thought and nodded, “there’s some merit in that.”

“Glad we agree!” She gazed at their empty dishes and glasses, before looking again at Silver. “So, shall we get going? There are a couple more activities we could do before traveling to Asagi.”

Silver blinked. “Huh? You’re… suggesting going to Asagi together?”

“Well, yeah! We have to take the same ship, so I don’t see why we can’t travel together, if only for a day.” She paused, her smile waning somewhat. “Unless you… don’t want to do that? It’d be fine either way.”

Deep inside, Kotone hoped to spend some extra time with Silver. It was very refreshing to see that side beyond his usual gruff battle persona, and Silver himself seemed genuinely intrigued by that idea. Sure, a part of him balked at the thought of traveling with such a Pollyanna, but another side was actually… warming up to her? It felt nice to talk with someone who didn’t hate his guts, that’s for sure.

In the end, his intrigued side won.

“Heh… Sure, why not?”


***​


Having returned to the main plaza, Silver was waiting by a stall alongside Ordile and Maril. He turned a rainbow-colored feather in front of his face — a common feather like any other, embellished with cheap paint and sold as a lucky charm. He saw nothing special about it, but Kotone had made a huge deal about the Ritual of Purification, right before she went to perform the ritual herself…

That rainbow feather will help cleanse your heart, so that you will have an easier time turning a new leaf and connecting with others! Or at least, this is what the legends claim.

Silver huffed. ‘She can’t really believe that trash! It’s not like burning a feather will erase my past mistakes and magically turn me into a better person.’ He shook his head. ‘It’s… not that easy…’

He glanced at the enormous bonfire, enclosed between a circular wall of stones and fueled with some charcoal, monitored constantly by a few Rokon and Gardie — any stray ember was caught into their manes and neutralized with their Flash Fire.

He spotted Kotone among the crowd, holding a silver-colored feather in her hand. She mentioned wanting to use it to clear her mind and help her find her true vocation or similar nonsense. With a swift motion, she threw the feather into the fire, held her hands together and bowed in a quick prayer, and returned with the others.

“Okay, I’m done. You can go now, Silver!”

The redhead frowned at the brunette, then glanced at his feather. “So, all I need to do it’s dropping this feather into that bonfire…”

“Yup! Nothing else.”

Silver stared skeptically at the feather, still unconvinced about that whole ritual, before feeling a pat on his back. He turned to Ordile, who gave a few reassuring nods and motioned toward the bonfire. There was no harm in attempting that, wasn’t there?

“We’ll wait for you here.” Kotone beamed an encouraging smile. “Remember to pour your heart into that feather, so that Ho-Oh can connect with your soul and send its blessing!”

Silver rolled his eyes. “Tch, alright.”

Without another word, he walked in front of the giant bonfire. The warmth of the flames caressed and shone on his face, giving to his eyes a golden tint. He glanced around, noticing a sign with depicted Ho-Oh and Lugia, as well as some texts:


If the soul is of pure heart, Ho-Oh shall grant it eternal happiness.

If the soul is of wicked heart, Ho-Oh shall feed it to the sacred flames of the spirit realm.

If the soul is of pure mind, Lugia shall bestow it boundless wisdom.

If the soul is of wicked mind, Lugia shall plunge it to the bottomless depths of the spirit realm.



Silver cocked an eyebrow. How reassuring…”

He continued checking out his surroundings, this time focusing on the crowd — people of all ages were feeding the flames with their feathers. Some elders prayed to the bonfire, thanking Ho-Oh for blessing them with longstanding and joyful lives, while some young people thanked Lugia for clearing their troubled minds and helping them make life-changing decisions.

Silver sighed and turned to the flames. “Well, since I’m here, I may as well go through with this nonsense.” And so, he tossed the lucky charm into the burning coals.

The feather caught fire immediately, its shape twisting and crumbling and the paint evaporating. Dark smoke rose from the vanishing ashes, carrying a pungent scent reminiscent of hot vinegar mixed with pepper. Silver was unperturbed by the smell, however. He stared impassively at the bonfire, wondering why people made such a big deal about this Ritual of Rebirth. If they were so eager to burn feathers, they could just collect some of them and light them up with a Fire-type or something. They didn’t need to wait for a seasonal festival to do so.

Also, pouring his heart into a cheap feather to connect with Ho-Oh? Pfft! Sure, whatever! Even if that were true, that legendary would surely be eager to connect with him, of all people. Right.

Silver turned to rejoin the others when he saw with the corner of the eye a golden gleam in the middle of the bonfire. He blinked and leaned toward the flames to see better. However, all he could see was a red and orange fire in the middle of red and orange fire, and he shook his head.

‘This was just a waste of time…’

He sighed and stepped away from the bonfire, walking past the crowd to rejoin his companions.


***​


The sun was about to set, its fiery form barely above the Burned Tower and its beams tinging the sky in a bright orange glow. The festival was reaching its end, and the monks and Kimono Girls gathered in front of the ancient building and readied themselves to perform one of the last events.

“…The Seinaru Hai Mai,” muttered Silver, narrowing his eyes in thought. “I may’ve heard something about it. That’s the Dance of the Sacred Ash, right?”

Kotone nodded. “Yes. It’s the traditional dance performed in honor of Ho-Oh, in order to reach out for it and ask it to share some of its life force with the land, so that the plants can survive during wintertime and be reborn in spring. I’ve heard they do something like that in Unova, Kalos and Galar, too, with people communing with Landorus, Zygarde and Calyrex.”

“Wonderful, more stuff about the oh-so-amazing Ho-Oh…” commented Silver, his tone oozing sarcasm.

Kotone shrugged. “I mean, this festival takes after this city’s folklore, and Ho-Oh and Lugia are prominent figures. So…”

That made sense. It would be kind of stupid to celebrate and give tributes to the legends without featuring the legendaries prominently. However, even with that notion in mind, hearing the constant ‘Ho-Oh here’ and a ‘Lugia there’ all day long got old, and very fast.

However, that was the last activity. Only a few more minutes, and then nothing would have stopped Silver from traveling to Asagi, whether or not he was in company. As such, he cleared his mind and focused entirely on the incoming event.

The Kimono Girls were standing side by side, their clothes and poises as graceful as always. Their Pokémon were with them, focused and unmoving as they waited for the signal. Silver noticed three more Kimono Girls, who looked younger than the ones he had faced years ago. Each of them owned a different evolution of Eievui: Leafia, the Grass-type fox; Glacia, the Ice-type fox; and Nymphia, the Fairy-type fox.

A chorus of clear bells chimed, their limpid sounds rippling throughout the surroundings. The crowd quieted down, and even the wild Pokémon became silent, in an unspoken sign of reverence.

“Oh! The mai is about to start…” half-whispered Kotone, readjusting her hat. Silver simply nodded and crossed his arms. It was time to see what that dance was about.

The Kimono Girls broke up the formation and split in couples, with each pair moving beside each corner of the Burned Tower. Dancers and Pokémon looked toward the sky, silently praying for the deities living above, until a soft and pleasant melody of zithers and traditional bells filled the air.

Then it started: the Kimono Girls and their Pokémon strode around the imposing building with slow and rhythmic steps. Shining leaves waved above the dancers, carried around by a gentle breeze and illuminated by the shy sunset beams.

One, two, three steps; a slow clockwise twirl and a bell chime.

Thunders, Booster and Showers stepped toward the crowd. A skyward thunderbolt from the electric fox and a pillar of fire from the fire fox illuminated the tower with yellow sparks and bright embers, giving off the impression that it was ablaze. The musician sounded their zithers faster, even faster, almost frantic.

Then, the water fox summoned a rain cloud, making droplets fall in front of the tower. A calming rain, accompanied by a relaxing melody, and the flames became embers, then smoke. The three Pokémon walked after their Trainers.

One, two, three, a twirl and a chime.

It was the turn of Blacky and Glacia. The dark fox unleashed a pulse of darkness and surrounded himself in a black veil, while the ice fox cloaked himself in a faint mist made with his frosty breaths. Thick darkness permeated the base of the tower, with only Blacky’s crimson eyes glowing in the haze, and hoarfrost chilled the terrain. A gloomy atmosphere, rueful and heartbreaking — even the melody of the zithers slowed down and took a more melancholic and somber timber.

The darkness and frost dissipated, and the two Pokémon rejoined their Trainers.

One, two, three, a twirl and a chime.

Eifie, Nymphia and Leafia took the stand at last. The psychic fox summoned a Morning Sun, bright enough to outshine even the sunset, while the fairy fox lifted his tendrils toward the sky and filled the air with a Misty Terrain. The light of the miniature sun gave to the pixie-powered mist a plethora of pastel hues, reminiscent of cotton candy. With a few twirls of Nymphia’s tendrils, the cloud took the shape of a rainbow twister.

That was the cue for Leafia. The grass fox poured his energy to the ground, making many grassy knots sprout underneath the trio’s paws and covering the terrain with fresh grass. The zithers played a joyous melody, the soothing song of life and rebirth, and the three Pokémon dispelled their attacks to rejoin their Trainers.

One, two, three… a final twirl and a final chime. The melody of the instruments faded slowly… slowly… and silence. Only silence.

Seconds passed, and an uproar of applause exploded. The dancers and musicians took in the praise with pride, bowing at their audience. Even the wild Pokémon seemed elated and made loud and cheerful cries from the depths of the woods.

Kotone grinned in delight and clapped with enthusiasm. Despite having watched that same dance countless times as a child, she felt her heart brimming with joy and peace at watching those elegant motions.

“So, whatcha think about it?” she asked, glancing sideways at Silver.

The redhead traded glances with her, mulling over her questions. “That was… something, I guess.” He shrugged. “I’ve never been into dances and that kinda stuff.”

“Hmm… That’s fair. I know many people who don’t like those, either.” She stared intently at the Burned Tower, a thoughtful expression appearing on her face. “…Just looking at the tower… it’s hard to believe it’s been two years already.”

Hm? What was Kotone talking about now? Silver blinked in confusion and turned to the brunette, who was tapping her mouth with her hand.

“Two years…?” he asked.

“Yeah. Y’know, since that happened?”

Once again, Silver blinked and looked even more puzzled. “…Okay, can you stop talking in riddles and explain what you mean?”

“Huh? Don’t tell me you forgot!” she replied incredulously.

The redhead said nothing, limiting himself to shoot an impatient glare. Right, no more riddles.

“Well, it’s been two years since the day we met each other,” she replied, before motioning toward the tower. “And it was right there, during a spring day.”

Two years… has it really been that long? Silver never thought much about meetings and encounters, what with his focus being mostly toward training and getting stronger. When he started off as a Trainer, relationships outside of rivalries were irrelevant and just a waste of time.

However, after some quick racking of his brains, vague fragments started surfacing. Burned Tower… spring… Kotone… hm, nope. Still too vague. He needed some other clue to jog his memories.

“Ah! And you also used to wear that black jacket, now that I think about it,” continued Kotone, before winking at the redhead. “Though, you look fab in those dark blue clothes, too! You truly have an expert eye for fashion!”

Silver glanced at the brunette in surprise. Nobody had ever commented about his clothing, but he couldn’t help but feel a bit flattered by that comment. “Huh… It’s just clothes, not really—”

He paused when he registered an important detail. She mentioned a black jacket. When did he wear a black—oh!

Silver’s eyes widened in realization. The black jacket… Yes, he remembered that piece of clothing. But wow, how did he forget about it, to begin with?

Well… there was a reason. That jacket was nothing more than a perpetual reminder of the weak person he used to be and a foul memento of his home. Something he had grown to resent as he kept honing his skills and his heart. Something… painful to keep looking at.

Tsk! No wonder he got rid of it at some point. He wouldn’t have been able to move on if he stayed stuck to the past. It was already hard enough to move on as is.

“…Oh. Yeah.” Silver nodded slowly. “Now I remember. It was back when…” He trailed off, refusing to finish the sentence.

A scaly hand gripped his shoulder, and the redhead turned to Ordile. The Pokémon had a knowing stare, his eyes saying that he remembered that period, too.

Kotone took a deep breath and looked at her Maril, who seemed somewhat apprehensive. However, the brunette’s expression became more serious and determined. She really wanted to tackle that topic.

“…I remember that day so clearly. Back when there were rumors of legendary Pokémon lurking in the depths of the tower and all of that. It was…” she twiddled her fingers, “something…”


***

Two years prior…


It was a pleasant spring day. Countless light gray clouds filled the sky, announcing an incoming rain, and cherry petals swirled in the wind, carried around by a fresh breeze.

However, there were a few oddities about that day: the sun was hotter than usual, the clouds poured rain at irregular intervals, and an anomalous northern wind blew continuously across the entire city. Also, there were reports of strange creatures lurking in the depth of the Burned Tower, whose descriptions from witnesses matched the ancient legendary beasts — something that hadn’t happened in almost a century!

Despite the uniqueness of that event, very few dared to explore the tower because of its unstable and fragile foundation and the infamous prowess of those creatures. But Kotone was one of those few daring people — she always found legendary Pokémon fascinating and wouldn’t miss this chance to see them for anything in the world!

Some inhabitants warned her about the dangerousness of the tower and recommended her to not fight inside the building unless absolutely necessary — an intense fight could make the already-fragile floors collapse.

Keeping their advice in mind, Kotone ventured into the ancient building, with her Maril following closely. The mouse glanced around their surroundings, using her fine ears to pick up even the faintest noises. She detected echoes of wild Zubat and the noisy squeaks of groups of Koratta, but nothing that made her think of “legendary beasts”… even though she didn’t know how a legendary beast sounded like.

“We’d better be careful,” said Kotone, looking at some holes scattered around. “We don’t want to stumble into any of those — the fall wouldn’t be pretty!”

Maril nodded, keeping eyes and ears peeled. Then, she detected some unknown noise and tapped her Trainer on her leg. Once she got Kotone’s attention, the mouse beckoned the brunette to follow her, and the two walked toward a quieter side of the tower. They could see many more holes scattered around the place, and even the wild Pokémon seemed gone. Maybe they were wary of that area?

Kotone and Maril blinked when they spotted somebody standing beside a giant hole. He was a kid with red hair and red eyes, wearing a black jacket and blue jeans, with his gaze fixed on the darkness below. What was he looking at? Kotone approached slowly…

Crack!

She yelped and looked under her foot, noticing fragments of carbonized wood. The sudden noise had alerted the redhead, who whirled toward her.

“Who’s there?” he demanded, eyes narrowed.

Kotone flinched and stared at the other Trainer, before raising her hands defensively. “Ah, sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you!”

Silver glared at the girl and grumbled in annoyance. He evidently didn’t want other people around. “…Who are you?”

“I’m Kotone! Hi!” she said with a friendly smile, waving her hand. However, the redhead humphed at her and crossed his arms, which made her lower her hand. “Huh… Did I say something wrong?”

“No. I simply don’t meddle with wimps.”

Kotone frowned. “Wimps…?”

“And why’s someone like you here, of all places? It’s because…” His eyes narrowed further. “You must be here to catch the legendary Pokémon to make yourself look stronger. That is only a dream. You see, the legendary Pokémon suit a Trainer like me,” he motioned toward himself and smirked arrogantly, “who has sworn to become the strongest Trainer.”

“…Huh, I’m not here for that reason. All I’d like to do it’s seeing the legends, nothing else.” She tilted her head. “But wait! You’re… planning to catch them?”

Silver sneered at the girl. “Well, duh! We’re talking about legendary Pokémon here. And I’m going to make them my partners by force, if I have to.”

“By force? But… what about proving yourself to the Pokémon, getting their consent and all of that?” she rebutted, not liking where the discussion was going.

“Tch! That’s the lousy thinking of a loser. Strength’s what matters and gets things done,” his voice darkened, “and I’ll use it to crush whoever gets in my way.”

A roar sounded from inside the hole, and both Trainers looked at it. Was that the cry of the legendary Pokémon?

Silver spotted a nearby staircase and started walking toward it, but Kotone and Maril rushed in front of him. The redhead froze on his steps, then glowered at the girl. “What are you doing?”

“Getting in your way,” she responded, clenching her fists defensively and holding them close to her face. “You’re going to enrage the legendary Pokémon with that attitude! I… I can’t let you pass!”

“Are you asking for trouble?”

Kotone didn’t respond, but she couldn’t help but feel intimidated by those piercing red eyes. Maril stood protectively in front of her Trainer, ready for an eventual fight.

“Hmph. Alright. If you’re so eager to get trounced,” he growled and readied a Poké Ball, “then so be it!”

Silver threw the sphere upwards, which released a middle-sized blue alligator with a cave dweller-like pattern on his belly. The Pokémon roared at Kotone and Maril, showing off his sharp fangs, and took a battle stance.

So that was it — he was asking for a fight, and by judging his glare, he wasn’t going to back off.

Well, there was no time to be cautious. They had to stop him!

“Maril, go!” shouted Kotone, opting for a speedy assault. “Aqua Tail!”

Maril grabbed her tail and started rotating it like a lasso, while a stream of water came out of the glowing sphere. She squealed a battle cry and swung her appendage forward, carrying the power of a wrecking ball. Silver and his Pokémon were unfazed by her bravado, however.

“Alligates, bite into that tail!” commanded the redhead.

The alligator nodded and opened his jaws wide. Just before the opposing attack connected, he lurched forward and bit hard into the blue tip, easily enduring the stream of water. Maril winced when the fangs sank into her tail, but that was nothing compared to what followed. Alligates threw his head back, pulling the trapped mouse with him, before swinging his head forward and slamming Maril into the floor. She squealed in pain, the wood breaking under her back and the splinters scratching her skin.

Kotone gasped in shock, horrified by Alligates’ assault. “Maril!”

Maril hissed as she endured the ringing pain, then glared at her opponent. She pulled at her tail and bolted forward with a spring-boosted Body Slam. That counterattack took Alligates by surprise, who received the attack head-on and let go of the mouse’s tail.

Freed from the alligator’s vise, Maril distanced herself from her opponent and puffed her fur, while her tail swayed threateningly — she wouldn’t lower her guard anymore.

Silver smirked arrogantly. “What a joke. A battle with Team Rocket grunts is just right for you!” he sneered, before shaking his head. “But hey! Out of desperation, weak people sometimes do okay at fighting back.”

“Do okay…?” parroted Kotone in disbelief, before glaring at her opponent. “We’re just getting started! Maril,” she clenched her fists, “Defense Curl!”

Maril nodded and emulated her Trainer. Her fur puffed and her skin hardened, covering all the scratches sustained so far and giving to her body a rounder shape.

Silver cocked an eyebrow. “That’s really all you got?”

“…Rollout.”

The redhead’s eyes widened. So that was what she was trying to do. “Alligates, Rage!” he shouted.

Alligates nodded and crossed his arms, just as Maril curled into a tight ball and rolled toward him. The smoother skin allowed her to race at higher speed, while rocks and debris stuck on her body to strengthen her attack.

And slam! The rolling mouse rammed into the alligator, who clenched his fangs as he let his ire build. He swiped at his opponent, hitting the living ball with a rage-powered strike and sending it against a column. Maril didn’t seem bothered by that, as her hardened skin cushioned both blows.

“Keep going, Maril! Rollout!”

“Rage once more! Take her down!”

The two Water-types glared at each other and carried out their respective commands. Maril became faster and stronger with each rush, while Alligates’ rage built up with each collision and retaliated in kind. With each charge and swipe their stamina took heavier and heavier tolls, but then the tides turned: Alligates dodged the last Rollout, making Maril lose her momentum… and leaving her open to another assault.

Silver smirked in triumph. “Aqua Jet!”

Alligates roared, feeling the surge of power from both his rage-induced status and his Torrent ability, and sped toward the mouse like a watery bullet. Both Kotone and Maril stared in shock at the massive stream of water surrounding the alligator, and the mouse braced herself with a last-resort Defense Curl.

Smack! The impact had such raw power that it sent tremors and bursts of water across the entire area. Maril careened into a nearby column and squealed aloud when she smashed through the wood. The collision was too much for the mouse, who fell forward and lolled on the rim of the wood, senseless.

“M-Maril…” stammered Kotone in dumbfound, before withdrawing her unconscious Pokémon into her Poké Ball.

“…Hmph! I’m not fighting with another weakling ever again. It’s just too much playing around,” said Silver, dusting off his sleeves with indifference.

Kotone glared defiantly at the redhead and reached out for another Poké Ball. “You think you’ve already won? Then—”

A sharp crack and the wood shook. Kotone blinked and checked out the area: the water blasts from the Aqua Jet had smashed enormous holes into the floor. The weakened floor cracked underneath her feet, and she gasped when the planks split into a zigzagged crevice. But before she could even move, the floor collapsed, sending her screaming and plummeting into the darkness below.

Alligates cried in shock, and even Silver’s mood shifted instantly. Gone was his cockiness, and his face twisted into a horrified grimace.

No! He didn’t mean to… that wasn’t meant to happen! He wanted to teach a lesson to that girl, not to…

Silver and his Pokémon ran toward the hole, making sure to not fall into it as well. Even though the redhead didn’t have a high opinion of Kotone, he didn’t want her gravely injured… or worse. He peered through the raised dust, trying to spot her silhouette.

“Hey! Can you hear me?”

The two waited for any sign of life — groaning, moaning, even crying — but all they got was silence.

Alligates hissed a concerned call. More silence. More dust clouds. No, she couldn’t be…

“C’mon! Answer already!” yelled Silver, growing anxious.

Still no response. Only silent dust. Dread crawled on their backs as they began fearing the worst…

“I-I’m here…” came the pained response.

Alligates made a soft hiss and Silver gasped. The dust cloud dissipated completely, showing the girl lying on her back. She was regaining consciousness!

“Hey! Are you hurt?!” asked Silver, barely able to mask his concern.

“Ow…” Kotone slowly sat up and checked on herself. “No, I’m fine… sorta. My bag cushioned the fall. I’ve got a few scrapes, yeah, but nothing concerning.”

Silver sighed in relief. “Thank goodness…”

However, nearby creaks alarmed everyone. Silver supervised the area where Kotone was sitting, finding out that more cracks were making their way on the blackened wood.

There was no time to lose.

“Don’t move a muscle, alright? We don’t want that other floor to collapse, too,” commanded Silver. “I’ll get you outta there.”

“O-okay!” responded Kotone, staying as still as she could.

Okay… okay… but how could Silver get her out safely? He took another look at his surroundings when his gaze stopped on a mostly intact column. Mental gears spun, and he rummaged into his belt bag. There it was — an Escape Rope. Perfect!

Without skipping a beat, Silver tied the rope to the pillar and tugged the rope to test the endurance of the wood. No creaks, no jolts. Yes, it would surely support her weight.

He brought the other end of the rope toward the hole and threw it to the brunette. “Tie this around your waist! Quick!”

As soon as the brunette did as told, he looked at Alligates. “C’mon, we gotta pull her back up!” he commanded, clutching the rope. Despite being weary, the Pokémon nodded and emulated his Trainer.

“Ready?”

Another quick nod.

“Then pull!”

Silver and Alligates started pulling the rope, slowly lifting the girl. Kotone glanced around the dark floor, holding onto that line for dear life. With the corner of her eyes, she noticed a few shadows in the darkness. Were those…?

But then, a jolt startled her, and she looked upward. Her eyes widened in shock: the rope was unraveling, as the jagged wooden pieces cut through it like knives. “Aah! The rope!”

Silver became alarmed by her shout and studied the rope, immediately spotting the problem: it was going to break! He had to act quickly!

And then it snapped.

Kotone felt her breath rushing out her lungs and she shut her eyes, too shocked to even scream, when something caught her arm. She looked back up and gasped — Silver was holding onto her arm.

“I… gotcha…” he grunted, straining to not let her go. Alligates came to his aid, and with their combined effort, they pulled the girl back up. And just in the nick of time, as the floor below collapsed not a second too late.

Deep breaths and gasps were the only noises heard in that area. Kotone was holding her hand over her heart, feeling it thumping as if ready to burst out of her chest. Meanwhile, Silver wiped the sweat with a sleeve, and Alligates lied down on the floor, completely drained after the effort. The Water-type tapped his Trainer on his leg, and the latter withdrew him into his Poké Ball without uttering a word.

Then Kotone caught enough breath to speak. “T-thanks…”

Silver shook his head dismissively. “…Don’t mention it.”

The two teenagers stayed silent afterward, looking in completely different directions. Neither knew what to say, with Kotone still assimilating everything that happened and Silver finding himself in an awkward spot between what his mind wanted to say (“What an idiot! That’s what happens when you get in my way!”) and what his heart reminded him (“It wasn’t even her fault. I shouldn’t have behaved like that…”).

Tired of the stifling silence, Kotone tried to start a conversation. Something friendly. “Um… Say, what’s your name? You didn’t tell me earlier,” she said, leaning forward with mild curiosity.

The redhead stared hard at her for a long time, then he looked away. “…I’m Silver.”

Silver? Silver… why did that name sound so familiar?

Then, Kotone remembered: Hibiki and Kris had warned her about a kid with red hair and red eyes. He was a thief. He was a bully. And yet, in that moment, he was a hero. She smiled sweetly. “That’s a nice name!”

Silver glanced at the girl in puzzlement. How did she retrieve her cheerfulness so fast?

“Hmph. Yeah, well, my name isn’t exactly popular nowadays…” he grumbled.

“Yeah, I guess I know why.”

He blinked in confusion. “Huh?”

“You’re the red-haired thief, right?”

Silver scowled at Kotone and growled. “If you’re gonna lecture me, then—”

“I won’t.”

“…What?”

“Yes, you’ve done some bad things. And that rudeness you’ve shown earlier… I didn’t like that, either. However,” she smiled sweetly, “I can’t hate the person who just saved me. That was so brave~!”

Befuddlement filled Silver’s mind. That was a turn of events he didn’t expect. Nobody had ever talked or behaved around him in such a way in a very long time. With… kindness. That was new.

“Well, I… couldn’t just leave you there…” he muttered, finding it harder to keep eye contact.

Kotone tilted her head and stared curiously at the redhead, as if analyzing him with her sharp receptivity. The rapid shift from uncaring jerk to audacious rescuer didn’t go unnoticed to her, and suspicion started seeping into her mind. “…You’re one of those guys who hide their sensitive sides by behaving grumpy and gruff all the time, huh?”

Silver stiffened and felt uneasy, almost panicky. “What?! N-no, I’m not—!” He quickly regained his composure and scowled at the girl. “Don’t spout such nonsense!”

Ha! There it was: stammering, followed by a vehement reaction. She had seen right through his act and her grin widened. That was enough to unnerve Silver.

“Oh my gosh! You totally are, aren’t you?” she chirped, holding her hands together. “Aw! That’s so endearing!”

In one fell swoop, Silver’s entire gruff persona shattered once more, and he stared numbly at the brunette. “E-endearing?!”

“Yup! But don’t worry! I won’t tell anyone.” Kotone winked reassuringly. “Your little secret is safe with me.”

Silver stared blankly at the girl, struggling to process the entire situation.

What was going on? He didn’t understand! Just… how? Why did that make him feel so restless? What was that strange fuzzy sensation? What was happening to him?!

Unable to wrap his head around his own emotional state, Silver got back to his feet and gazed at the floor. He was grateful that his hair was long enough to cover his face; he didn’t even want to imagine his expression and surely didn’t want that girl to look at him like that.

“Hmph! Whatever! Don’t go fall into other holes on your way back!” he grumbled in annoyance, then bolted away from Kotone, much to her astonishment.

Only once he was out of the tower he stopped running and took several calming breaths, trying to get a grip of his racing emotions.

How did that girl make him feel like that with just a few pretty words? How dare she make him feel so weak?! He hated feeling weak! He wasn’t weak!



But despite the initial panic and anger, once his adrenaline worn off and his heart slowed down, he began feeling… good, almost as light as a feather.

Yes. Those words of hers felt… nice. For once, someone didn’t treat him with scorn and contempt, and that was… very nice. Much appreciated, even. And… no! He refused to admit that. He was too proud to admit that.

Silver huffed and glanced pensively at the burned building. With a conflicted mind, he slipped his hands into his pockets and resumed his journey. There would have been another time to capture the legendary Pokémon…


***​


“Ooh! So you really remember!” exclaimed Kotone, before ginning at the other teenager. “Especially the last moments!”

Silver grumbled and crossed his arms. “Yeah… Did you really have to spout all that sappy stuff?”

That remark got a hearty laugh out of Kotone, making Silver humph and roll his eyes in annoyance.

“Well! That ‘sappy stuff’ was my younger self being my younger self,” she responded between her giggles. “Still, it was back then that I understood.”

“…Understood what?”

“That even though you treated everyone with hostility and everyone treated you with hostility, there was some good in you.”

“Good in me…” Silver scoffed at that sentence. “Tsk! Right…”

“Oh, c’mon! You know that’s true, and I don’t understand why you keep denying the evidence.”

“Ah, I dunno. Maybe because I’m an irredeemable jerk and everything?” He frowned unhappily. “Or maybe because ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, so I must be as horrible as…” he paused as the memories of his grandma flashed in his mind, and growled, “my family?”

Ordile stared sadly at his Trainer, his gaze screaming ‘no, don’t say such things, you aren’t like them’. Luckily for him, Kotone shared his same sentiment and wasn’t afraid to voice that out.

“Now that’s not true! You’re different, and you’ve also changed,” she protested.

“Am I really? I don’t think so.”

“And I believe that.”

“Oh please! Do you honestly think it’s that easy for people to change? Besides, you barely know me! Most of the stuff you know it’s from others!”

“I know what I need to know.”

“No, you don’t, so don’t make absurd assumptions about me!” he hissed angrily. “In case you’ve forgotten, I’ve done many terrible things, like stealing someone’s Pokémon and treating people who got on my nerves like garbage! I’m not some goody two-shoes like you!”

For the first time in the entire day, Kotone dropped completely her cheerful demeanor and challenged his glare with her own serious stare. She wouldn’t back down.

“My gosh! Will you stop berating yourself so much? Nothing stopped you from just abandoning me in that hole!” she harrumphed, before pointing toward the tower. “Why bother getting me out of that place if I just got in your way? You could have just treated me like garbage — like you said — and move on as if nothing happened!”

Silver gnashed his teeth and scowled at her. “C’mon, what’s the big deal? I’m not that heartless!”

A heavy silence fell as soon as those words registered in everyone’s mind. Kotone gasped and her frown turned into a triumphant smirk, while Silver’s eyes widened upon realizing what escaped his lips. Even the two Pokémon were stunned.

“…Forget I said anything…” muttered Silver, trying to sneak out of that uncomfortable situation.

“Nope! Won’t do. Especially not that final sentence~!” teased Kotone with a playful wink. “‘I’m not that heartless?’ Those are your words, not mine!”

Silver blinked and noted the pleased grin on Ordile’s muzzle — even the alligator seemed elated to hear those words from his Trainer. The redhead was disorientated, completely taken off-guard, and failed to come up with some witty comeback.

‘Drat! I’ve been had… again!’

Having detected his discomfort, Kotone beamed a reassuring smile.“Aw, don’t be so flustered. There’s no shame in being open about how you feel, and I see you needed to tell those words to yourself.” Her hands went behind her back and she giggled happily. “I’m not gonna think any less of you!”

Silver said nothing at first, slowly processing everything, then he looked toward the floor. “How…?”

“Hm?”

“I don’t understand how you do that…”

Kotone tilted her head in confusion. “Huh… do what?”

“How you… always treated me so kindly despite our divergences, and after…” he winced, his guilt weighing on him once more, “everything I’ve done. And even now, you…” He trailed off and shook his head. “I don’t get it!”

“Well, I’m not someone who dwells on grudges, Silver. I’ve forgiven you back then, and I forgive you now.”

“But why?”

“Because I know who you really are. You aren’t just some irredeemable jerk like some people claim, and I’ve seen how regretful you were and still are about everything. I trust you’re doing your best to atone for your past and are working very hard to change,” her smile became radiant and her voice melodious like a lyre, “and that’s something I admire and respect. You’re an inspiration for me, Silver.”

Silver stared at Kotone with genuine surprise, touched by her words. “…Really?”

“Yeah! Of course!” she said, not a single trace of doubt in her voice. “Sure, you may act tough and gruff all the time, but I know that deep down you have a soft heart of gold.”

His eyes widened. “Hey! What do you mean by—?!”

“Teh heh heh! I’m just messing with you now! Relax!” she said reassuringly, amused by his reaction.

Silver blinked, feeling some heat going to his cheeks, and hastily turned his back to everyone and crossed his arms. If he waited a second longer, his face would have flushed as red as his hair. “Hmph, whatever! What we get over with this stupid festival?”

“Hmm… Yeah, I’d say we can go. We’ve done pretty much everything,” responded Kotone, before glancing at her kimono. “But if you don’t mind, I’d like to go to the Pokémon Center to change my clothes first. I’d prefer to travel to Asagi with my usual attire — it’s better suited for long walks.”

Silver huffed. “Tch. Fine. We can take a detour there. But you’d better be quick or I’ll leave you behind.”

“Sure, sure! I won’t take long, I promise!” she said. “Let’s go, then!”

Kotone walked by Silver’s side and nodded at him, and the two teenagers and their Pokémon started their trek toward the Pokémon Center. They noticed that there were fewer guests around, and some merchants were retiring their merchandise and closing their stalls. The brunette gazed curiously at the booths, while the redhead’s stare was locked toward the ground. Multiple thoughts were flooding his head, longing to flow out of his mind, with one thought ringing louder than the others.

He gazed at Kotone. “Hey…”

“Hm?” She turned to Silver. “Yeah? What’s up?”

“…I’m sorry. For lashing out at you back then,” he murmured, his expression slightly softer than usual. “That was uncalled for.” And then he looked away, refusing to say anything else.

Kotone blinked. She wasn’t expecting an apology, but that was far from an unwelcome surprise. That Silver… he was slowly but surely changing for the better, and it was a pity he couldn’t see that yet.

“It’s okay, Silver,” she replied with a sweet voice. “No hard feelings.”

A lone hmph was the redhead’s response. Nothing that his companions didn’t expect. Soon, the Pokémon Center came into view, and Kotone glanced at Silver.

“I’ll be right back.”

Kotone got a slow nod as her answer, which was her cue to enter the Pokémon Center with Maril in tow. Silver stared silently at the building, when he felt a pat on his back, making him jump in surprise. He glanced at Ordile, who grinned and showed a thumbs-up with his free paw, expressing how proud he was of his Trainer. Silver shot an unimpressed stare and huffed, then looked away.

But even though he refused to acknowledge it, Silver felt like his chest had become warmer and lighter.


***​


Dusk had come, and the first stars became visible in the sky. Route 39 brimmed with swarms of Barubeat led by their leaders Illumise, who coordinated the male fireflies to form complicated geometric designs, almost as if they wanted to compete with the firmament itself for the most creative patterns. Hidden amidst the tall grass there were some Korotock, playing a concert of violin-like melodies with their long knifelike arms, and wild Nyarth looking for lost shining items or producing golden orbs with the coins on their heads.

Silver had become much quieter, his mind working hard to process and assimilate the events of the day, and Kotone gave him the space and peace he needed. It’s not like she had anything to talk about, and she didn’t want to spoil the mood when they were just starting to get along. When they were… almost friends.

Flying in front of them there were Silver’s Crobat, who clicked happily as he played sound-and-find with the hidden musician crickets (winning every time thanks to his echolocation), and Kotone’s Morphon, who illuminated the path ahead of the humans with beams of light projected from her compound eyes.

The purple moth gazed curiously at the bat zipping from a direction to another, following his movements with a fraction of her eyes. «You seem to have fun over there,» she trilled.

«Yes! These melodies are so good! Also, I love flying around!» replied Crobat with a few rapid squeaks. «Hey! Why don’t we chase after those Korotock together?»

«As nice as that would be, I can’t. I’ve got to lead our Trainers with my Flash.»

«Hmm… Yes, makes sense!»

Crobat flew silently above Morphon, attracted by the bizarre scent coming off of the moth’s wings, and she clicked her mandible nervously. «…Why are you flying above me now?»

«I like the scent of your wings! It reminds me of lavender, and…» He paused and tilted his head. «Hey! How did you know I was above you? I didn’t make any sound!»

«I can see everything around me with my compound eyes. I’m seeing the path ahead of us, our Trainers behind, you above me, and… I can also see a few Persian prowling through the grass with my sonar. All of that at the same time.»

«Really? That’s impressive!» squealed Crobat, zipping downward to fly by Morphon’s side. «Speaking of eyes, I still find them weird. I’ve lived my life as a Zubat without being able to see, and then,» he swung his upper wings upwards with a dramatic flair, using his lower wings to keep flying, «whoa! I evolve into a Golbat, I gain eyes and I can see!»

«Sounds like that was quite the experience.»

«It was! But it was also worth it — I could finally see my friends’ faces!» he squealed, before clicking his fangs in delight.

«Yes, I get what you mean…» Morphon tilted her head. «Well, not about the eyes, but about gaining an extra body part and not being used to it. Like, I never had wings as a Kongpang, and then I evolved and I could fly. I took some time to get used to that.»

«Yes, I… see!» Crobat moved close to Morphon and stared into the black orbs. «How many eyes do you have there…?»

«Kyah!» squeaked Morphon, scattering some toxic powders in fright. Crobat noticed the purple cloud and hastily flew underneath, then blew the dust away with a powerful gust to keep their Trainers safe.

The moth took some time to calm down, rubbing her head with one of her upper legs. «Ugh! Don’t fly so close, please! That was startling!» she squeaked in annoyance.

«Sorry, sorry! I won’t do that again!» squealed Crobat, his ears flattening in shame. He flew once again by Morphon’s side and shot a curious gaze. «…But wow! How did you do that?»

«What? My powder attack?» she trilled in confusion.

«No. How did you speak like a Crobat?»

«Oh, you mean,» her trill morphed into a squeak, «with this voice?»

Crobat nodded. «Yes! That!»

«This is a skill that we Morphon have developed to protect ourselves from predators — we confound them by speaking like them.»

«Aah! But why imitate a Crobat?»

«Because Crobat are our primary predator, of course.» Morphon paused as she remembered with what she was talking to and fluttered in embarrassment. «Oh! Huh… No offense.»

«None taken! In fact, I find that amazing!» squealed Crobat with admiration.

«Oh… thank you?» trilled Morphon uneasily, her Flash faltering a little. «But, well… You aren’t hungry right now, right…?»

«…Hm?» The bat narrowed his eyes in confusion, before flying backward in shock. He shook vehemently his head. «Oh! No, no! I’m not one of those Crobat, no! I prefer to feed on fluids — much easier to find.» He clicked his fangs. «Besides, I would never eat a friend! That would be horrible!»

Morphon trilled, feeling somewhat reassured. «Good…»

«And if there’s some Crobat around who tries to sneak on you,» he flashed his sharp fangs, «I’ll chase him or her off, alright?»

«…Thanks. I appreciate that.» Morphon cleaned her eyes with her upper legs, while her wings flapped slower. She felt more relaxed. «It sure is weird, though, to talk so casually to a predator…»

«Keh heh heh! I can only imagine!»

The Pokémon kept chatting to themselves, with Crobat and Morphon also challenging each other to see who was the loudest squeaker of the two. Kotone was amused by their antics and shenanigans, while Silver stared impassively at them… or at least, that was the impression he gave.


***​


When dusk gave way to the night, distant illuminated windows greeted the two teenagers and their Pokémon (even if Crobat had to hold back the light-obsessed Morphon with a wing), but one powerful glow from an elevated position outshone the others — the Flash of the Denryu living in the Radiance Lighthouse, leading safely night ships with his beams of light.

Silver stared intently at the rotating yellow beam, recalling his callous comment about just letting the Pokémon die because he couldn’t fight, and felt a knot in his stomach. He sighed and looked away, mentally kicking himself for that lack of consideration. It was no wonder that Kris became even more indisposed toward him when he told her those words — Silver himself would feel the same way if he were to hear that kind of comment from his younger self.

“So, where do you think we should spend the night?”

Silver turned to Kotone, somewhat grateful to be brought back to the present, and narrowed his eyes in thought. “…I’d say we should go to a capsule hotel. They have a good combo of quality and price.”

“Capsule hotel… Sounds good to me.” Kotone looked at her Pokégear and typed on its screen. “Let me check where we could—”

“There’s no need.”

She gazed at her companion in puzzlement. “Huh?”

“I know a place. Follow me.”

Without saying another word, Silver led his companions through the illuminated streets of Asagi. They walked past the Gym, with Silver barely stifling a sigh, and they reached the port. The gentle sounds of waves lapping against the pier and the underwater glows of Lantern brought some serenity to the four—no, three travelers, as Kotone withdrew Morphon before she dove toward the lights. After some more minutes of walking (and flying, in Crobat’s case), they reached a building that seemed made of multiple azure bubbles glued together. There was a sign placed by the entrance, depicting a Starmie with a glowing neon gem and an illuminated text: Starmie Hotel, a most original name.

“So, this is the place?” asked Kotone, staring at the building.

Silver nodded. “Yeah. I stayed here the night before traveling to Kanto to start my Badge quest. It’s pretty good.”

“Well, I trust you. Let’s go check if they have some vacancies!” she chirped with confidence.

Silver stood in numb silence as he mulled over what she just said: I trust you. Those words were so simple, and yet they felt like a victory for the redhead. However, he showed nothing aside from a neutral expression and nodded again.

“Hmph. Yeah.”

After withdrawing Crobat into his Poké Ball, the two teenagers walked through the door and left their shoes by the reception to wear the complimentary slippers — a common custom in every Tojohnian hotel.

They were in luck: the hotel had some available slots for both, which they immediately took. While eating a light dinner, they discussed their plans for the next morning: wake up at eight o'clock so that they could take a refreshing shower and some breakfast, then they would have enough time to reach the terminal and get aboard the ship.

Having struck an agreement, Silver led Kotone through a familiar path to him while she glanced around: the hotel was splint in half by a long central corridor, with the left side filled with capsules reserved to females and adorned with Love Ball patterns and the other side for males and decorated with Moon Ball designs. Just a typical male/female capsule hotel like any other.

Silver and Kotone stopped by the crossroads of the sleeping area. The brunette stretched her arms as the fatigue got to her, and even the redhead had to suppress a yawn. They were exhausted after walking around all day.

“Phew, I’m beat! I can’t wait to lie down on my bed and catch a few Z’s,” mumbled Kotone, managing out a smile despite the soreness in her cheeks.

“Yeah. Same here…” responded Silver, blinking slowly.

“Anyway! I had a lot of fun today, and I bet tomorrow will be even better!” She held her fists close to her face. “Aren’t you excited?”

He shrugged. “Not really. It’s probably gonna be a ship journey like any other ship journey.”

“Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out,” she smirked, “and that’s doing as planned so that we can get on-board on time.”

Silver cocked an eyebrow, his gaze silently saying ‘no kidding’. The brunette didn’t seem to notice, however.

“So, um… We’d better sleep now. I wish you sweet dreams.” Kotone waved her hand slowly. “Until tomorrow, then~!”

The redhead nodded. “Yeah… Until tomorrow.”

Kotone flashed one last grin and entered the women’s area, leaving Silver alone in the corridor. With nobody around to see him, a content smile made its way on his face and he entered the men’s area to look for his assigned spot.

He had to admit it: that was one of the best days of his life.
 
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- Wooden tables and paintings making for a lovely atmosphere???
- The first thought I had was when I saw it was a garden was that they somehow grow meat and fish on a farm.
- That feel when a Pokemon world is written as obsessed with Pokemon, to where even hearts can't get away without being Pokemon.
- The GSC model is cooler anyway, looks like something they'd use to check machines on the space station. To make a reference to an old meme that I forget the image of, otherwise I'd post it here.
- Shoutouts to useless minigames that are still better than Voltorb Flip. Yes, heretic again, I hate Voltorb Flip.
- Well your Silver would certainly like present Nori Carino, given brute force preferentiating. Or maybe not, given his personality being generally upbeat and how he treats battles.
- I thought Whitney was only good because she Rollouts all the time. Or in a speedrun, because she kills your ass with Metronome hax. Surprised though, you didn't make a direct allusion to her using brute force most of the time.
- Man, rude that trainers are just blanketly tougher in Kanto. No wonder they had their league taken over or whatever.
- They have to reach Olivine by the end of the day and they were messing around in the festival for most of it? Poor form.
- Ah, going with anime style tournamenting for the League. Aside I always wondered, how many fics do it the game way?
- So hm, I wonder. Why invite useless extrenuous girl? A mystery that will be answered. But I guess their standards aren't that high.
- Ah, so FemC and Super Maria are in the same universe here. I know they are in the anime too, but, it's always been complicated.
- But Silver was clearly fighting Team Rocket. Why does she hate him based on that - the implication being it's mostly that and not how he treated his Pokemon? That much into sins of the father?
- Interesting spiel on Pokemon biology and health.
- Some rituals and traditions can be a bit silly...
- People being super dependent on Pokemon for things that are probably natural season related, shaking my smh.
- "WAIT MORE EEVEES WERE 'DISCOVERED' WE MUST HAVE MORE KIMONO GIRLS POSTHASTE"
- Speaking of ships, jeez. No bigger sign than 'remember when we met'
- Interesting connection with the black jacket and the black of Team Rocket.
- So, sun, rain, and...wind? I don't think that's how the legendary gerbils work.
- I'm guessing this is taking place shortly after Hibiki fell in a hole?
- Shoutouts to Torrent!
- Oh I guess she just took Hibiki's place in this canon.
- So what purpose does Escape Rope serve in your ficverse, since it doesn't seem to be a magic exit?
- And apparently are super flimsy too. What kind of rope breaks like this!?
- Ahh, well that explains the probable crush. That and being a positive person who looks to the good in others.
- Tsun.
- Thank you for not going too hard on the Pokemon world equivalencies that you replaced apple with a berry name; it's an especially egregious case given actual apples do exist despite New Pokemon Snap trying to say otherwise (see: Appletun and co, and related items)
- Awkward flirting intensifies. Also huh, didn't see her seeing him as an inspiration. Wonder if there are some implications behind that? i.e. was she in a dark place too?
- What we get over with this <- awkward wording
- I'd make a joke about long walks and The Long Walk here, but I'm too tired and out of it to do so.
- Noticing a semi-occasional use of feeling warmer and lighter and various similar things in this chapter, constantly.
- That feel when you have to use HMs instead of a flashlight because reasons?
- Random fluff between Pokemon all of a sudden. Thought there'd be more of a point to this scene.
- Shoutouts to Japanese slipper traditions.
- I thought they had to get to the ship by the end of the day? Suddenly they have until next morning or so?
- Why Moon for the males? Why force it into ball categorizations, other than, you know, typical forcing everything to be Pokemon related?
- But is it... THE BEST DAY EVERRRRRRRRRRRR???? (best day everrrrrr).

Holy cripes that was a long one. Or at least it felt like it. Had to take a couple breaks, once due to eyestrain. But, hey. Plot progression, ship progression, other ship progression. So much so that my mind's a bit worn out and I'm not sure what else to say at this part! The chapter was mostly dedicated to exploring the relationship between Silver and Kotone, as well as showing how they met. Also, the first real battle of the fic! Liked it, it was brief yet interesting. Well, barring a ship chapter or the focus shifting back, looks like we're finally going to get rolling on the plot proper next time. Looking forward to it.
 
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