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Thread: The Eon Academy [S.S. Wishmaker Side-Story]

  1. #21
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    This episode was probably one of the most difficult to write. Trying to articulate how Charlotte sees herself in the grand scheme of things, without it being predictable, and how Jon addresses that, without him being a cliche'd White Knight was actually super difficult, but I am happy with the character development in this chapter, even outside of Charlotte.

    Enjoy.

    Episode 7: Priorities
    Spoiler:

    “Not again…” Abbee groaned, as she looked around the lounge of the common area, as Charlotte sat on a couch nearby, eating some instant ramen, and watching through the recording of one of her and Chris’ competitive battles from a year earlier.

    “What’s wrong?” Charlotte asked, not looking away from the TV.

    “My phone. Justin has taken it again…” Abbee muttered. Justin first took it right before the Eon Academy was attacked, however indirectly returned it quickly when he realized that they were all at risk. However he took it again only two weeks ago, holding on to it for a few days, before returning it indirectly, Abbee thought due to the constant notifications that were coming through from her twitter followers, that could only be turned off if the phone were unlocked, something he was incapable of doing. With the phone not being used outside of receiving notifications, the battery would have lasted nearly a week, driving Justin insane, especially at night.

    “Seriously?” Charlotte asked, now equally annoyed. Her mood was already less than pleasant, and hearing this crappy joke being played for the third time this summer was not helping.

    It was the Thursday of the seventh week of summer, having been a little over a week since Chris beat her, winning the egg that hatched into a Vulpix. If she wasn’t already irritable at the fact that her lead over Chris had dwindled, the fact he brought the infant Pokemon with him everywhere made her even more annoyed. It’s not that she was jealous of the Pokemon, but more the fact that it was a constant reminder of Chris beating her.

    Since his win, Chris seemed to have his confidence back, but it had seemed over the last few weeks his demeanour had changed. Since he started doing that remedial training with Jon every few weeks, the way he handled his Pokemon had improved, and the confidence that seemed so absent when he told her about Lance was back, but it was different. It was subtle, almost humble, compared to the arrogance he showed before the summer, which somehow made her feel worse.

    Losing to an a**hole sucked, sure, but at least she still had that over him. But now she didn’t. He had stopped acting like a self-obsessed a**hole, and Charlotte was now only losing. And the fact it annoyed her as much as it did made her feel like the self-obsessed a**hole…

    Charlotte had been working harder than ever since then. Jon’s one-on-one sessions usually finished for the day at 3pm, so once the battleground was free for the day, she was spending the next two and a half hours training, only stopping for dinner, then sometimes even spending an hour or two after dinner training as well. She knew it was working, and she was improving, but she didn’t stop, because she knew that Chris was also improving. She had to beat him, but couldn’t stand another loss like the week earlier. If she were to challenge him again, she had to know she would beat him.

    The only reason she was sitting in the lounge having lunch was because Chris was having his session with Jon at that time, with hers starting in about half an hour.

    “So what are you going to do?” Charlotte asked. “Shake him down?’

    “I tried that,” Abbee muttered, as she collapsed on the couch next to her. “He just denied it. Said I really need to take better care of my belongings.”

    “I would have hit him, personally,” Charlotte retorted.

    “Believe me, I wanted to, but that sort of reaction…” Abbee said. “His small and feeble mind will get bored quick enough.”

    “Hopefully…” Charlotte replied, as she turned off the TV. She had finished her lunch, and had to get her dishes cleaned before her training with Jon. Whilst she had time, she wanted to get there earlier, and hopefully get a decent look at Chris’ progress, ideally before he noticed she was there.

    “You think you’ll relax this weekend?” Abbee asked, as Charlotte got up. “As silly as it turned out, it was nice watching the movie together that one time…”

    “We’ll see,” Charlotte said, though having no plan of slowing down.

    Charlotte went to the kitchen, quickly cleaning her bowl and fork, before making her way to the door, surprised to see Abbee waiting for her.

    “You planning on spectating?” Charlotte asked.

    “Another day maybe,” Abbee replied. “I saw Dylan leave earlier, but I know Justin is in his room, and Chris is training. We can’t leave the property by ourselves, so he must be around somewhere…”

    The two girls left the lodge, before parting ways when Abbee saw Dylan in the shade under the monastery, as Charlotte made her way to the battleground.

    Dylan knelt on the grass with his Metang floating in front of him, with a small jar of an orange paste on the ground between them, Dylan getting a dab of it on one cloth to spread over Metang’s surface, before using a cleaner one to wipe it around, polishing the steel type Pokemon, much to its enjoyment.

    “Metang’s doing well,” Abbee said as she came over. Whilst before Dylan would have jumped out of his skin, he now just nodded, continuing to focus on the task at hand. Abbee hoped he might actually talk on his own at some point, but knew she was pushing her luck.

    “It seems to be,” Dylan said. “It’s difficult to train it since it is a lot less experienced than everyone else’s Pokemon.”

    “Maybe when Chris’ Vulpix is a little older they will be on a similar level?” Abbee asked. “Though the odds would be stacked in your favour. Maybe once my Eevee evolves it could match up well?”

    “Maybe…” Dylan said. “You have a slot left? Do you know what you want to catch?”

    “No idea…” Abbee muttered. “I still don’t know how I will evolve my Eevee, so I might wait until then. I should get a type I don’t have, but that being said, I don’t want to be that restricted, especially if a good opportunity comes for a Pokemon with a type I already have…”

    Realizing she was getting distracted, she remembered why she came.

    “If you can spare some time, I need your help…” Abbee said, causing Dylan to look at her, slightly confused.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Charlotte approached quietly as she watched Jon’s Blaziken and Dylan’s Charizard spar. Whilst Blaziken was definitely the faster of the two, probably because of Speed Boost, Charizard was not letting it land any solid hits. Whilst it was mostly blocking or avoiding hits due to its own instinct, Chris was calling out, trying to anticipate Blaziken’s moves, giving Charizard a heads up when he could, and telling it the best way to dodge. She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t impressed.

    The pair finished their session, as Jon called Blaziken back to the Pokeball. Chris walked past, back towards the lodge, picking something up off the ground and flashing her a grin. And the fact she knew he didn’t mean anything hostile by it, made her even angrier at him.

    Charlotte called out her Magmar, ready to begin the session, before Jon held up a hand.

    “I think you need to take a break,” Jon said. “Everyone else is doing five hours of hands on training a week. In the last week you’ve done nearly thirty…”

    “You’ve been monitoring my training?” Charlotte asked suspiciously.

    “I can literally see the battlefield from my lounge room window. If you look now you can probably see Alyssa…” Jon laughed. “Don’t take it personally, I’ve just been observant.”

    “But you want to cancel our session?” Charlotte retorted.

    “Not cancel. Maybe be a little less hands on to give you and your Pokemon a break,” Jon replied.

    “My Pokemon can handle it,” Charlotte said stubbornly. “Besides, this time is the most effective training I can have. Isn’t that the point? For you to be able to assess how well I am doing, and direct me from there?”

    “It is, but-” Jon began.

    “If I can’t train now, I’m only going to train twice as hard later to make up for it,” Charlotte said. Jon was silent for a moment.

    “I’ll make you a deal,” Jon said, though sounding slightly irritated at the defiance. “I will do a practise battle with you now, because you are right about that, you get more from these sessions than training by yourself.”

    Charlotte grinned, though didn’t know what Jon wanted in return.

    “But I don’t want to see you training this weekend,” Jon explained. “You and your Pokemon rest, and going forward, you only do an hour extra training a day, at most five days a week.”

    “What do I do with all the spare time then?” Charlotte asked, somewhat annoyed. “I didn’t come here to make friends and spend all my spare hours playing board games with the others…”

    “I think three of them would find board game nights to be a nightmare…” Jon chuckled. “You do what Chris is doing now. He filmed the whole session, and is going to spend the next hour or two going over the footage. He was asking me which areas of study to focus on, and I told him to brush up on moves that his Pokemon don’t use, and their side effects so he isn’t as taken by surprise when they show up. Last week he came along to the gym to see Steven and I train, and if you’d like, I’d love to bring you along. Steven would love it too…”

    Charlotte was silent. Deep down she knew Jon was right, somewhat, but being compared to Chris was the last thing she wanted to hear, especially if these things that would probably help her, Chris is already doing.

    “There is more to growing as a trainer than just training,” Jon explained. “And you’re Pokemon will thank you for it…”

    Charlotte reluctantly agreed, before asking if she could come to Jon’s practise match that evening. Jon agreed, before sending out Nidoking, as the pair began their practise match.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    “Have you talked to him about it?” Dylan asked, as Abbee finished explaining the situation.

    “First thing I did, but that just feeds him,” Abbee explained. “He wants a reaction, and the only thing I can do to get it back is just ignore him until he gets sick of it buzzing, but that takes days.”

    “Charlotte said I just gotta be really vigilant about not leaving it anywhere, even for just a minute, but I shouldn’t have to be on edge about it all the damn time…” Abbee muttered. “So will you help me get it back?”

    “Do you have a plan?” Dylan asked. “Or are we just going to be winging it?”

    “I have one idea,” Abbee explained. “Stupidly simple really, and it relies on you being a hermit 90% of the time…”

    “Thanks…” Dylan said quietly, as Abbee backtracked.

    “I was only joking!” Abbee said, realizing that her choice of words hadn’t been ideal. “I just mean you tend to spend a lot of time in your room, and that will come in handy…”

    “So what’s the plan?”

    “During dinner, I will antagonize him a bit. Give him a taste of his own medicine, and the reaction he wants so badly…” Abbee explained, “You go to your room, open the window, and wait until you hear us leave the lodge. I will challenge him to a battle, which should keep him busy. All you need to do then is figure out how to get into his room, and get the phone…”

    “You make that sound a lot easier than it actually is…” Dylan replied.

    “I do that because I think you will figure it out quite easily…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    As the practise match continued, Charlotte and Jon were both down to their last Pokemon, Latios and Luxray. Latios had the definite advantage, however, Luxray had a new move that Charlotte had been working on. Should her plan come to fruition, she doubted even Latios could take the entirety of the attack without being knocked out.

    Luxray had been focusing on building strength, using two Swords Dances, and before using Charge. Anticipating something big like a Wild Charge, Jon had prepared Latios to use Protect via the telepathic channel Latios had created.

    The previous week, Charlotte had been looking into electric type moves, trying to find ones that suited Luxray’s physical strength. One stood out to her, that most people didn’t think Luxray could learn. Volt Tackle, a move used only by Pikachu and its evolution line. However looking into it, Volt Tackle seemed like a faster, harder and more electrifying version of Wild Charge, which Luxray knew.

    Her training with Luxray since had been amplifying his speed and electricity output, in order to cross the line between Wild Charge and Volt Tackle. And in that time, Luxray had improved in both those respects.

    “Volt Tackle!” Charlotte called out, as Luxray lunged forward, encased in more lightning than Jon had ever seen on the Pokemon. Jon’s heart skipped a beat hearing Charlotte call out that command.

    “Latios, don’t use Protect!” Jon called out frantically, as the Protect barrier Latios had erected a split second earlier disappeared, and Luxray launched into Latios, with a loud crack.

    Luxray screamed in pain, as Latios was knocked unconscious, hitting the ground meters away.

    “F**k!” Jon said frantically, rushing towards Luxray, who was still crying out in pain. Charlotte stood on her side of the field, frozen and pale for a moment, before rushing over.

    “Do you know why only the Pikachu line use Volt Tackle?” Jon asked sharply, as he inspected Luxray. It’s front left shoulder was out of place, and it winced in pain as Jon touched its paw.

    “I didn’t think anybody else had taught it to another Pokemon…” Charlotte stuttered, shocked at the pain her Pokemon was in.

    “Luxray is about 50% heavier than Raichu, and six or seven times heavier than Pikachu,” Jon explained, as he continued looking over the injured Pokemon. “Between the shock of the hit, and how much they are weakened in the moment they discharge that much electricity, the recoil is massive...”

    Charlotte realized where Jon was going with this, as she felt tears forming at the thought of driving her partner hard enough that he’d hurt himself like this.

    “They are the only electric Pokemon who are fast enough and heavy enough to land an attack like that, but not too heavy that the risk of injuring themselves is too high…” Jon explained. “It’s not that only they can do it, it’s that any other Pokemon that can pull it off shouldn’t do it. I had Latios pull the Protect, because the force of hitting that barrier would have broken Luxray’s neck...”

    Jon called Latios back to his Pokeball, instructing Charlotte to do the same.

    “They both need a Pokemon Center,” Jon explained. “Latios might have a concussion but can communicate easy enough to make it easier to help him. But Luxray is in bad shape. He will be unable to battle for a few months, in the best case…”

    Charlotte lost control as she began to sob desperately, while Jon grabbed her by the forearm and guided her to the car, though remaining silent. Whilst part of him wanted to console her, he needed to make sure that this harsh lesson stuck. Had she pulled this move in a battle against someone else, who would have used Protect, Luxray would be going to the Pokemon Center to be euthanized instead…

    As the pair drove to the Mossdeep City Pokemon Center, Charlotte remained silent, having run out of tears, and wallowing in her guilt, terrified of what could happen to Luxray if the injury was worse than they realized. When they arrived, Jon took both Pokeballs to the counter, explaining what happened, as Charlotte waited at a chair on the edge of the waiting room. Charlotte overheard the Pokemon Center staff discuss taking Luxray in for X-rays, whilst Latios, who had regained consciousness was being kept in another room for observation. Once the conversation was over, Jon left the building with his phone in hand, quickly calling Alyssa to explain what had happened, and Steven to cancel on their training that evening.

    Whilst he was gone, Charlotte thought over what had led her here, blaming herself, and even more than before, thinking about how Chris’ Pokemon didn’t wind up injured like this. When Chris messed up and went to Shoal Cave, in the end, his Pokemon was no more worn out than during a training session, he was the only one hurt by the mistake. And now, she had made a stupid mistake, and instead of her being the one to suffer for it, it was her Pokemon, as well as Latios.

    Jon returned to the room, however before he could say anything, the pair were approached by one of the Pokemon Center’s doctors.

    “Miss Jones?” he asked, as Charlotte nodded silently.

    “I have looked over the X-rays on your Luxray, and whilst it is far from good, it isn’t anything he won’t recover from.”

    Whilst Charlotte breathed a sigh of relief, the news didn’t do anything to alleviate the guilt.

    “He has a dislocated shoulder, which needs to be put back into place, however he has also broken his front leg, which is going to require a procedure to give him the best chance of recovering. We can perform it this evening…” The doctor explained. “All costs are covered by the League as you are still a minor, however we do need your consent to proceed.”

    “Do it.” Charlotte said quietly, as the doctor nodded before turning to Jon.

    “Mr. Drake, I think your Latios will be fine, but we do want to keep him here overnight to observe,” The doctor explained. “However he is restless, and becoming quite a handful.”

    Jon groaned hearing those words.

    “Of course…” Jon said. “I will go have a chat with him…”

    Assuring Charlotte he would be back, Jon left the room, following the doctor to try and calm his Legendary Pokemon…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Abbee sat at the dinner table in the lodge with Chris, Justin and Dylan, alongside Alyssa who sat with Amelia on her lap, and Chris’ Vulpix snoozing on his lap, whilst they ate the meal that Alyssa had brought. They noticed Charlotte hadn’t returned from her training with Jon, and presumed she had decided to stick around and practise more, like she had been. What they didn’t expect was Alyssa to tell them that her and Jon were at the Pokemon Center, with Latios in not-too-good shape, and Luxray in a lot worse.

    “So did Latios just not hold back?” Chris asked, as he poked at his dinner.

    “That’s not it, but it isn’t my place to say,” Alyssa said. “Jon sent me a text to say Latios will probably be okay, but Luxray will be needing surgery…”

    “S**t…” Justin muttered.

    Abbee looked down at her food, feeling sorry for Charlotte, knowing how much she cared about Luxray. She felt a twang of guilt, as she remembered her plan for the evening was something as insignificant as trying to get her phone back.

    “I’m sorry, I’m not that hungry,” Dylan said quietly to Alyssa. “It tastes great, I just don’t have much of an appetite…”

    “No, that’s fine,” Alyssa replied, though more shocked that he just spoke to her.

    Dylan left the room for a moment, placing his half full bowl in the fridge, before passing through the dining room and going back up the stairs to his room. Whilst Abbee knew he probably would still be willing to try and get her phone back, antagonizing Justin to lure him into a battle was the last thing she wanted to do after hearing of what happened on the battlefield that afternoon. So when Justin excused himself, not even ten minutes later, she didn’t attempt to stop him, with Alyssa excusing herself as well to put Amelia to bed, leaving Abbee and Chris alone at the table.

    “I wonder what happened...” Abbee thought out loud.

    “I have a hunch, but I hope I am wrong…” Chris said quietly, surprising Abbee. The pair had hardly shared a conversation outside of large group chatter in the six weeks leading up to this, and Chris had never seemed that interested in talking with her.

    “Charlotte is one of the hardest working people I know. I used to mock her for it, because she always had to try twice as hard to keep up with me, but after seeing how far ahead she got, I respected her for it,” Chris explained. “Really, I have only known how to improve here by seeing how she has done it the last four years…”

    Abbee nodded as Chris continued.

    “Then I beat her last week, and you’ve seen how she has been since…” Chris said, before trailing off into silence.

    “It’s not your fault, you know that right?” Abbee said sternly.

    “Damn well feels like it…” Chris muttered. “I’ve been rubbing her face in it for years every time I got the tiniest bit ahead of her… How is this not my fault?”

    “You know when I felt the same way?” Abbee asked, as Chris shook his head. “When Jon dragged you in after you almost froze to death in Shoal Cave.”

    Chris looked at Abbee in shock, unaware that she carried that guilt.

    “I felt like it was mine and Charlotte’s fault for antagonizing you and setting up the bet. That we drove you to do it. I ended up talking to Dylan, and he said something to me,” Abbee explained. “He said at the end of the day, it was your decision to go out there alone, not mine. He was glad that you were okay, and didn’t think you deserved what happened to you, but ultimately it was your choice, and I shouldn’t carry the weight of that…”

    Chris was silent hearing this. It took a few seconds to break that silence.

    “If he’d talk a little more, I’d have realized how wise he can be…” Chris chuckled to himself quietly.

    “He was right, and that goes the same way here. Regardless of what you have done, Charlotte made the call to go to hard…” Abbee explained. “My heart breaks for her right now, and she and Luxray don’t deserve it. But if this is the result of her working her Pokemon and herself too hard, that is her responsibility to shoulder, not yours. I will still try and help her with that, but don’t think this is your fault…”

    “She’s lucky to have you, even if she doesn’t always realize it. You know that right?” Chris said, shocking Abbee with his sincerity.

    “I try.”

    Chris took his dish, as well as Abbee’s to the dishwasher, before returning, making his way to his room, before stopping.

    “Does Justin still have your phone?” Chris asked.

    “Yeah, but I’ll get it back tomorrow,” Abbee answered.

    “I’ll get it back for you tonight,” Chris said. “It’s stupid, I don’t know why he finds it so funny.”

    “Feeble minds?” Abbee asked, as Chris chuckled before going upstairs.

    Abbee quickly refilled her water bottle, before going upstairs to her room. However as she made her way to the door, she noticed Dylan’s door open with his head sticking out. When he noticed her, he gestured for her to come in to his room.

    “You know I’m not allowed to go into the guys rooms…” Abbee said quietly as Dylan closed the door behind them.

    “Jon’s not here, so don’t worry,” Dylan said, before pulling something out of his pocket, and handing it to Abbee. Her phone.

    “How the hell did you get this?” Abbee asked. “Justin came up not even ten minutes later, and hasn’t left his room since?”

    “I had Duskull go through the wall into his room and find it,” Dylan explained. “He opened Justin’s window then flew back with the phone once he found it.”

    “Well make sure to thank Duskull for me. It means a lot, really…” Abbee explained, as she opened the phone. “All of my pictures and videos of my mom from before she died are saved on it, and I don’t remember a great deal from before then so…”

    Before Dylan could say any more, they were cut off by shouting from Justin’s room next door.

    “What the f**k do you mean it’s missing?” Chris shouted.

    “I mean it isn’t where I left it!” Justin shouted back. “It was buzzing all goddamn night, so I left it in the cupboard and now it’s gone…”

    “Should we tell them?” Abbee asked, holding back a giggle.

    “No, let him suffer a little…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    An hour had passed since Jon had left to go calm Latios down, when he finally returned, Charlotte having not moved since. The staff had informed her that the surgery had begun however it would take hours before it was completed and she could see Luxray, and at least another two days before Luxray could come back with her.

    Jon arrived, picking up his jacket off the seat next to Charlotte, and handing her her own.

    “I want to wait to see Luxray,” Charlotte murmured.

    “We both need to eat, and it will be at least two hours before Luxray is out of the operating theatre, and possibly longer until he wakes,” Jon said. “We will be back well and truly before then. But you need to eat.”

    Charlotte sighed before accepting the jacket as Jon let the receptionist know where they were going, before they left the building, looking for the quietest restaurant or cafe nearby, eventually settling on a dumpling restaurant. As Jon quickly browsed the menu, Charlotte said she wasn’t hungry, though Jon ordered a couple of different smaller plates of dumplings to graze from. When the food arrived, he finally broke the silence.

    “So why is it that Chris gets under your skin so much…” Jon asked, as he fumbled a dumpling with his chopsticks.

    “He doesn’t…” Charlotte replied quietly.

    Jon snorted for a second, before swallowing the mouthful he had.

    “The first time I met either of you, you were both goading and taunting one another, and both doing everything you could to show everyone else around you that you didn’t really care about what the other one said or did. I let you two do your own thing, because I thought that rivalry would drive you both to improve,” Jon said. “Then you beat Chris, and as much as he tried to hide it, and play it off as an isolated incident, anyone could see he hated it. And now he has beaten you, and all of a sudden you’re working yourself to death to try and beat him…”

    “This wasn’t the first time he had beaten you? Didn’t you say that you two are fairly one for one when you compete against one-another?” Jon asked. “I guess what I’m trying to figure out is what is different about this time?”

    Charlotte was silent, before quietly picking up one of the dumplings in front of her.

    “Do you remember why I came to the Eon Academy alone?”

    “Wasn’t your brother graduating?” Jon asked. “Your parents couldn’t make it to that and see you off at the same time?”

    “That’s just another Tuesday for me…” Charlotte explained, “I have three older brothers, the youngest of which is eight years older than me, who by the time I was born, all had their pursuits and commitments, which my parents made a point of being involved in. I was the only one who ended up wanting to battle, but when you have to choose between attending your son’s regional level soccer match, or your daughter’s little league battle, which do you think takes priority?”

    “I love battling, really, but half the reason I busted my a** growing up to get better was to give them the reason to give me the time they did my brothers, and even then, it is hard when they have an eight to fourteen year head start…” Charlotte continued. “But it worked. Eventually I was achieving enough that I’d take priority for once. I’d make it to the finals, and my parents would be there supporting me, and recognizing the work I was putting in. I just had to keep working to keep that happening. Then Chris started competing...”

    “The first few tournaments he was in, I didn’t make it to finals because of him. So I kept working, and after long enough it came down to us being in the final match of most of our tournaments. My family noticed that. Every time I would win, I’d be praised, but every time I lost, they would be telling me that it’s okay, and I battled well, but he was just too good. I hated hearing it…”

    Charlotte went to take another dumpling, before recoiling, and starting to sob again.

    “I’d try so hard to get better and get ahead of him, but by the time we competed again, he had caught up, so effortlessly. At first I thought he was just working even harder than I was but when I got to know him a bit better, I realized he just had something that I didn’t, and the only way I could compete with that was to try harder.” Charlotte sobbed. “Then we came here, and I finally beat him. Twice. I started to see the gap, and started to feel like it was all worth it. All the hard work was starting to pay off. Then something changed in him. He started to actually apply himself, and within a few weeks, that gap that I had worked years to create is now gone. I thought that if he could close the gap so easily just by starting to put in the effort, I'd have to work harder just to stand a chance at keeping up, and trying to do that, I almost killed Luxray…"

    "Try not to dwell on Luxray. It could have been a lot worse if it were against someone else, and Luxray will recover before too long so we gotta be thankful for that…" Jon said, as he picked up another dumpling.

    “I’m sorry that you need to work yourself so hard to get the time of day, I really am. But I need to tell you this, and make sure you understand it before we go any further,” Jon explained, “What happens when you finally pass Chris for good? What next?”

    “I- I don’t know…” Charlotte replied quietly, drying tears. “For so long, I have just wanted to pass him…”

    “Charlotte, there is always going to be someone better than you,” Jon said. “The reason I say this now is that even if what happened today didn’t happen, and you eventually got what you wanted and passed Chris, I honestly think you would find yourself in the same position you are in now, just with someone else who is that little bit ahead of you…”

    “I’m not saying that there being someone better is a bad thing. It’s good if anything, it gives us an attainable goal to reach for, but if you think passing Chris will make everything better, it won’t. This need to be the best is taking something healthy, and turning it into something damaging, because even if you pass him, and the world recognizes that and applauds it, you will still find yourself feeling like you aren’t enough…”

    Jon was apprehensive about saying this, not wanting to hurt her anymore than she already was given the circumstances, but knew that this was a make or break point. If this cycle didn’t break now, chances are it never would.

    “You are a talented trainer Charlotte, really. I wasn’t half the trainer you are when I wasn’t your age.”

    “My Pokemon nearly died today because of me…”

    Jon opened his phone, before typing quickly and passing it to her.

    “When you signed up for the Eon Academy, I did my own digging, and found some match reviews from your last tournament,” Jon explained. “Read this…”

    Charlotte took the phone, reading the text on the screen.

    “Whilst Christopher Kingswood took the first place prize in the Inter-Regional Junior Cup, the true star of the competition was Runner-Up, Charlotte Jones. Her grit and resilience far eclipsed her years, as well as her natural ability to communicate well with her Pokemon and think on her feet. Every time I see her, I am in awe of the improvement she has made since the last battle. The performance she displayed during this tournament was indicative of persistence and hard work on her part, and I have no doubt that she will be making headlines in the major tournaments should she continue battling in her adult years.”

    “Even this reporter, who hasn’t even met you, and even saw Chris beat you, recognizes that you are plenty skilled as it is and are on the right track. Even if you feel like certain people don’t see that,” Jon explained, before asking a question. “Why did you start battling Pokemon to begin with? Because I doubt it was to beat Chris...”

    Charlotte went silent, having not thought about this for a long time, struggling even to remember.

    “I wanted to challenge myself. To be stronger than I thought possible…”

    “Charlotte, before we leave here, I want you to promise me something…” Jon said. “I want your goals to reflect that. I want you to battle for yourself, not for anybody else…”

    “Because this is one of many accolades I found,” Jon continued, tapping on the phone. “And if you take nothing else from this, the one thing you have to understand, is that you don’t have to prove a damn thing to anybody. Not me, not your parents, not Chris. If your rivalry with Chris motivates you to work towards those goals, great. But don’t let that motivation stop you from seeing how talented of a trainer you already are…”

    Charlotte struggled to believe what Jon had to say, but couldn’t deny the affirmation she felt hearing those words.

    “So what now…” Charlotte asked quietly, picking at a dumpling.

    “Tomorrow, don’t come to practical training. You and your Pokemon need rest. We can skip one-on-one training on Monday as well,” Jon explained. “This isn’t a punishment. More so I have something I want you to focus on more, and I know that you aren’t going to fall behind taking the time off.”

    “I want you to spend that time looking over the battle recordings from your matches against Chris, even when he beats you, and I want you to go through those clips with a fine-tooth comb,” Jon explained. “What you are going to be looking for is from each clip, five things that you did that you are proud of yourself for. Five things that showed you are reaching the goals you had when you first started.”

    “Really?” Charlotte asked cynically. “I couldn’t think of anything more cheesy…”

    “Cheesy or not, you have more than proven your skill as a trainer, even if you don’t see it yourself,” Jon replied. “Why else do you think Chris started to apply himself now, after years of cruising through life?”

    Charlotte remained silent, as Jon continued.

    “Everyone can see how brightly you shine, and I will do whatever I can to make sure you see it too,” Jon said. “Now eat. I can’t afford to shout my students' dinner too often, so this might be the last chance you get for some really good food. Though don’t tell Alyssa I said that…”

    Charlotte couldn’t help but chuckle at the sentiment, before piling a few more dumplings onto her plate. When the plates were empty, Jon paid the bill, before they returned to the Pokemon Center to wait for Luxray’s surgery to finish. Whilst they waited, and Jon eventually fell asleep in his chair in the waiting room, Charlotte opened her phone, and began searching online for clips and articles about her battles.

    She found herself watching an early battle with Chris on YouTube, and though he beat her, she was surprised to see some of the comments that had been left.

    “Charlotte did so well. I know that she will bounce back even stronger!”

    “I have been watching her battle for a little while now, and one thing I know is that when she goes down, is usually right before she blows us away with how much better she has gotten.”

    “Your fans are cheering you on regardless Charlotte!”


    Charlotte continued to look through, finding one comment less than pleasant.

    “Not quite sure how she made it this far tbh. Dumb luck?”

    However to her surprise, the comment was downvoted to hell, with many jumping to her defence, one of the highest rated comments in her defense from three months back, even more to her surprise, by Jon Drake, before he even knew her.

    “I hope the joint you are flipping burgers in has a TV in the kitchen, because I want you to be able to see it live when she wins her first High Seas Tournament. Maybe if you’re lucky, she’ll spare a moment to sign your spatula…”

    Amazing her given the circumstances, Charlotte cracked a slight smile…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    It was nearly eleven when Charlotte and Jon arrived back at the Eon Academy. Jon offered to walk her to the lodge, however his fatigue from the afternoons events, tied from the lack of sleep caused by Amelia, was evident in his falling asleep in the waiting room, and Charlotte declined.

    Luxray’s surgery had been successful, with pins being placed in his leg to hold it in place, though they would have to be removed once it healed, meaning that Luxray would be unable to battle again this summer. However he was expected to make a full recovery long term. Charlotte was thankful her loyal Pokemon showed no resentment to her carelessness, and struggled leaving Luxray, as he had to remain in the Pokemon Center for another few days.

    When Charlotte arrived in the lodge, she found the common area lit up, and empty with the exception of one person. Abbee, who rushed over to hug her.

    “Are you alright?” Abbee asked softly. “How’s Luxray?”

    “I’ve been better, but I will be okay,” Charlotte said. “Luxray had to have surgery, and won’t be able to battle for a few months while he recovers, but he will recover.”

    “If you don’t mind me asking, what happened?” Abbee asked, almost nervously. “It’s fine if you’d rather not talk about it.”

    “No, it’s fine,” Charlotte explained. “I taught Luxray a move that I shouldn’t have, and it resulted in him being injured pretty badly. A dislocated shoulder and broken leg. It even knocked Latios out, though he was about to use Protect, and Jon called that off because if Luxray had hit a Protect-barrier, it would have been even worse…”

    “I’m sorry…” Abbee said, shocked at what had transpired.

    “Don’t be, it’s my fault,” Charlotte said. “I was focusing on the wrong things, and when Chris beat me, it sent me over the edge, trying to be better than him. If nothing else, this has put things into perspective for me…”

    Abbee nodded, before yawning.

    “I’m sorry, but I’m exhausted, and need to get some sleep,” she explained. “Do you mind if we continue this another time?”

    “Of course,” Charlotte responded, as Abbee made her way to the stairs, before stopping.

    “For what it’s worth, I had a chat to Chris today…” Abbee said.

    “Really?”

    “He had a lot to say about you. About how much he respected how hard you are willing to try,” Abbee explained. “That he has only improved this summer by seeing how hard you worked the last four years…”

    Charlotte was silent, surprised to hear something so sincere came from Chris.

    “I think if you two talked a bit more, outside of competing against one another, you’d get along quite well,” Abbee continued. “Heck, I think if we all gave each other a little more time, and a little more grace, we’d all be quite close…”

    “Maybe you’re right…” Charlotte said, smiling. “You’re a saint, you know that?”

    “I do try…”

    “Also, I will go and shake down Justin tomorrow and get your phone back…” Charlotte added.

    “Don’t worry, Chris offered to do that tonight, and Dylan had already stolen it back,” Abbee said. “Chris was having a go at him because they both thought he lost it…”

    “So we don’t tell him?” Charlotte asked.

    “He will find out soon enough. Let’s just enjoy ourselves before then…”
    Last edited by [Desolate Divine]; Today at 01:33 AM.

  2. #22
    Hidden in Shadows Neo Emolga's Avatar
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    Daaang, that was a really great chapter! Definitely lots of great life lessons in there as well and I like how Jon handled the whole situation. He can be a tough guy, but he's got a big heart for those that want to do the right thing but sometimes lose their way. But yeah, those are definitely quality words of wisdom that can be applied to just about anything. Awesome stuff.

    The whole situation with the stolen phone was also amusing! Definitely a nice, fun side-plot you tucked in there. >:3

  3. #23
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    It's been nearly three weeks since I put up an episode. A mixture of being distracted by Spiritwater and this being one of the few I didn't have a decent idea about going forward. But here it is. Next one should be very soon (if not tonight depending on tiredness and motivation).

    Episode 8: Sincerity
    Spoiler:

    “So 5:45pm we leave,” Jon asked. “Any questions?”

    “Do I need to bring anything?” Charlotte asked, taking a mental note.

    “Nothing in particular. If you wanted to bring a notebook to write down what you notice, that may be beneficial. Heck, Steven probably wouldn’t mind if you brought something to film it if you really wanted to,” Jon explained. “But really, this isn’t a class. None of the others have, but I know you like to go that extra mile.”

    It was Thursday of the eighth week of summer, and Jon was trying for what felt like the twentieth time to arrange for Charlotte to tag along to his practice battle with Steven. So far all the other students had at some point or another, however every time they arranged for Charlotte to come along, something came up. First it was the threats on the Eon Academy, then it was Luxray getting injured.

    Luxray sat on the couch next to Charlotte in the lounge of the common area, snoozing on his right side, as to not lay on his bound left foreleg. He had only returned back to Charlotte on Sunday, and was only going to be able to start walking on that leg near the end of the summer, and was not going to be able to battle again for another few months. Charlotte however was just glad he was going to recover, and didn’t harbour any resentment for her ill-informed instructions.

    Whilst Charlotte’s one-on-one session with Jon was at 2pm that afternoon, Jon had come to the lodge to find Dylan. Chris was supposed to be doing one-on-one training before Charlotte, however had swapped with Dylan’s session from the day before, as there was something in Mossdeep he and Justin wanted to check out. Dylan however, seemed to have forgotten.

    Jon said goodbye to Charlotte, before heading up the stairs towards the students' bedrooms to extract Dylan from his, greeting Chris as he walked down. As Chris turned into the lounge, he made his way to the other couch, collapsing with an almighty groan. After a moment, he realized he wasn’t alone in the room, spying Charlotte on the other couch, before grabbing a magazine off the coffee table and attempting to casually flick it open.

    They had hardly spoken in the last week since Luxray’s accident, and this was the first time they had been alone together. Dylan was about to go out to training, Abbee had offered to help Alyssa prepare dinner for that night, and Justin was…

    “Justin not with you?” Charlotte asked, trying to break the tension.

    “He is supposed to be, but he got a migraine…” Chris said flatly. “He is in his room with all the lights out, puking his guts up…”

    “Goddamn, should we try and help him?” Charlotte asked. Whilst she wasn’t overly close with Justin, and had never had a migraine herself, her older brother was susceptible to them, and she saw how much it knocked him down.

    “I think it best we leave him,” Chris explained. “Once the vomiting stops, he will be able to sleep it off. That’s what he said usually happens…”

    “So your plans are out the window?” Charlotte asked.

    “Yeah, and I was looking forward to it too…” Chris sighed as he rested his head against the back of the couch, looking up at the roof. “Wallace, the Sootopolis City Gym Leader, is running a workshop on the Mossdeep beach this afternoon, on Water Types using their environment to their advantage. Since I can rarely battle with Kingdra here, I figured it would be good to get out.”

    “You don’t think Jon would let you go alone?” Charlotte asked. “I mean, it’s something educational? It’s not like you’re loitering at the shopping center or something…”

    “Maybe, but I won’t try my luck considering last time I left here on my own, Jon had to drag my hypothermic a** out of Shoal Cave…” Chris laughed weakly, still feeling embarrassed about the whole situation.

    Charlotte thought it over. She did have her own training with Jon this afternoon, however…

    “If you don’t mind the company, I could possibly come?”

    “Wait, you have a water type?” Chris asked, shocked at the revelation. “How did I not know this?”

    “Because she won’t last five minutes in the sorts of battles we do until she evolves,” Charlotte explained. “I only caught her recently, and like you with Kingdra there hasn’t been much of an opportunity to train her here… Occasionally Abbee and I would go to the beach to train, but we haven’t for a while.”

    “Don’t you have training this afternoon though?”

    “I have an idea, but we gotta have a chat to Jon…”

    Charlotte got up, leaving Luxray where he lay, content with his snooze. Chris followed, as the pair left the lodge, making their way to the battlefield, where Dylan had his Metang pitted against Jon’s Absol. Jon noticed them approaching, whistling to get Absol’s attention before holding up his hand, signalling a pause in the battle.

    “Everything okay?” Jon asked, slightly surprised to see Chris and Charlotte in the same place.

    “Yeah everything’s fine, just got a favor to ask of Dylan…” Charlotte asked, as Dylan’s expression shifted, having a hunch he knew where this was going…

    “Justin was supposed to go with Chris to a water-type workshop run by Wallace of Sootopoolis this afternoon, but is stuck in his room with a migraine. I’ve got a water type that needs training, especially since I am now down a Pokemon for the summer, and Chris can’t go on his own,” Charlotte explained casually, as Dylan’s hunch proved to be correct. “Dylan, would it be cool if I swapped my afternoon session with yours tomorrow?”

    Jon grinned at the suggestion, partially curious to see Dylan’s response.

    “You mean two straight hours of this…” Dylan said quietly, before sighing. Jon actually felt it a good idea. The reason he ran two separate one hour sessions for each person per week, as opposed to a single two hour session, was to prevent week long gaps between sessions, however it did come with its faults, and there were things he’d love to cover had he more time, especially with Dylan who still wasn’t overly confident battling.

    “I think it could be good…” Jon said. “For all of you. Think of it this way Dylan, you do another hour with me today, while you’re already warmed up, in the zone and probably battling better than usual, and then you have every day off until next Wednesday…”

    “Please Dylan…” Charlotte pleaded. “You’d really be doing me a solid…”

    Dylan sighed, before speaking again.

    “Fine, I’ll swap with you. But I get to dictate a swap next time it would be convenient for me. With both of you.”

    “But you barely leave the property…” Chris said, not realizing how tactless he was, as Charlotte gave him a decent nudge.

    “Deal, just let me know when you want to swap again,” Charlotte replied. “Thanks Dylan! We owe you one! Actually, one more favor…”

    Dylan groaned, as Charlotte continued.

    “I don’t want to leave Luxray in his Pokeball when I can avoid it. He is resting in the lounge. He should be fine by himself until training is over, but between then and when I get back, can you keep an eye on him? He might just need to be carried outside, or given some water. Even just some attention.”

    Whilst Dylan was not particularly in a generous mood, the idea of taking care of Luxray and learning more about the Pokemon did appeal to him.

    “Sure.”

    As the pair left after Charlotte tossed Dylan Luxray’s Pokeball, Jon said quietly to Dylan, “What do you think? Something happening there?”

    Dylan rolled his eyes.

    “Is this seriously what all teachers do with their students…” Dylan asked.

    “Hey, at least by my theory you won’t be the bachelor of the group…”

    Dylan took a second to process what Jon said, before turning red, and responding by sending Metang to launch a surprise attack on Absol.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Within an hour, Chris and Charlotte found themselves barefoot on Mossdeep beach, standing at the back of a crowd of two dozen or so people all watching Wallace, who commanded five Pokemon in the water, all performing major feats of dexterity. Whilst it was very showy, it was a demonstration of how quick and nimble well trained water types can be in their natural habitat.

    “So what water-type did you bring…” Chris asked, trying to whisper, but being too loud, as he was quickly shushed by someone in front of him.

    “You’ll see…” Charlotte whispered, transfixed on what they were watching.

    “Come on, at least give me a hint…”

    Chris was quickly shushed again, much to his dismay, as Charlotte grinned hearing him beg.

    “It will evolve into one of these Pokemon, but you only get one guess…”

    Chris watched the five Pokemon, launching themselves through and out of the ocean water. There was a Gyarados, Ludicolo, Tentacruel, Whiscash and Milotic. Chris knew that Charlotte’s Pokemon would be near useless in battle until it evolved, however Magikarp, Lotad, Tentacool, Barboach and Feebas were all pretty useless. However one seemed more useless…

    “Magikarp?”

    Chris was promptly shushed again, resulting in him flipping off the shusher once their back was turned.

    “Wrong… You will have to wait and see...”

    Wallace spent the next hour or so explaining different training exercises to increase speed and agility in the water, as well as a few simple strategies to make use of this speed and agility in battle. Before long, they were escorted to the pier where they were loaded onto a large boat, which took them out to the various platforms that stood out above the water, designed for trainers to conduct battles with Pokemon in the water. The trainers were put into pairs, where they were to practice some of the exercises and strategies Wallace had demonstrated. Chris quickly sent out his Kingdra, as he awaited for Charlotte to reveal the water type she had been hiding from him until now.

    Charlotte grinned as she sent out her Pokemon, and Chris started to understand her reasons for not using it so far when a Feebas appeared in front of her.

    “Of course…” Chris muttered, as Charlotte called out the first attack.

    “Substitute!”

    Feebas flashed, before being replaced with a copy of itself that looked like a now waterlogged stuffed toy. Chris cursed, knowing he was wasting time having to dispose of this, with Kingdra darting forward, taking out the substitute with a water gun attack, as Feebas reappeared, though not as far as she would have liked to hope.

    “Endure!” She called out, feigning panic, as Chris ordered Kingdra to launch a dragon breath attack.

    As the pair battled, Wallace approached alongside his Miloltic, watching the pair battle with intrigue.

    Feebas took the attack, before Feebas launched a counter attack, Flail, which was at its most powerful now due to Feebas being barely able to battle, but wasn’t enough to have a major impact on Kingdra.

    Before the battle could continue, Wallace spoke up.

    “Do you two mind if I interject?” Wallace asked, as both trainers looked over, calling off their Pokemon.

    “Sure…” Chris said, though slightly confused, and hoping this wasn’t going to be criticism.

    “You there, what’s your name?” Wallace asked, gesturing to Charlotte.

    “Charlotte.”

    “If I may ask, why is your Feebas not evolved?” Wallace asked. “A lot of Pokemon learn powerful moves earlier if they don’t evolve first, but Feebas is quite the opposite. It struggles to learn any new moves on its own until it evolves, in which it only needs an item. Why disadvantage yourself like this?”

    The question wasn’t pointed or agitated, simply curious.

    “I guess that I didn’t want Feebas to feel like I just caught her for the sake of evolving her. If she wants to evolve, then brilliant, I will help make that happen, but until then, if she’d rather battle using the strength she has now, then I will support her in that,” Charlotte explained. “I heard in a movie once, the weak man knows the value of strength. And thinking about it, Feebas seems to want to prove herself before she evolves.”

    Wallace grinned at the sentiment.

    “And what of a Prism Scale?” Wallace asked. “Do you have one ready?”

    “No, I intentionally didn’t get one,” Charlotte explained. “If Feebas wants to evolve, I will find one then, but not before. I don’t want that pressure on her.”

    “Well, what if one were given to you?” Wallace asked, before turning to his own Milotic. “Do you mind?”

    The Milotic cried out happily, as Wallace plucked a scale from its tail.

    “What if someone were to say that your Feebas has shown its strength, by going toe to toe with a fully evolved Pokemon, and being able to land some good hits?” Wallace asked. “You haven’t sought it out, but earnt it…”

    “I suppose that would be okay…” Charlotte said, looking down at Feebas who stared intently at the scale.

    Wallace tossed the scale up towards Charlotte, who leant out to catch it, being just shy of Feebas who had leapt out of the water, before catching it herself in her mouth.

    “What, now?” Charlotte asked, as Feebas landed back in the water, turning to face her happily, before beginning to glow. There was a flash of light, and where Feebas originally swam, now swam a Milotic.

    “Recover!” Charlotte called out quickly, taking advantage of Chris’ distraction. Now they were on more even ground, there were other tricks to use, that would be better than her Endure/Flail combination before.

    “Hey, that’s dirty!” Chris called out, before sending Kingdra forward, as the two Pokemon continued their battle.

    Whilst Kingdra did eventually beat Milotic, Kingdra only had one or two more hits before it would have gone down as well. Had the battle started with both Pokemon being fully evolved, it would have been much closer of a match…

    Surprisingly to both herself and Chris, Charlotte was okay with it. Whilst she would have liked to have won, she was okay losing today. As the pair walked through the streets of Mossdeep, busy with the traffic of those heading home from their day jobs, Chris and Charlotte were both quiet, neither really knowing what to say. For as long as they knew each other, they had been rivals, and not the friendly type. Whilst they were civil for the most part, they would never have considered each other friends, and were quick to antagonize one-another. This was the first time they had done anything together that wasn’t competitive, and both had no clue what to say about it. Finally, Charlotte spoke up.

    “When I got back from the Pokemon Center last week, Abbee was waiting up for me,” Charlotte said quietly. “She told me about the conversation you two had.”

    “Of course she did…” Chris chuckled quietly, halting to a stop, trying to hide how awkward and uncomfortable he felt.

    “Did you mean what you said?” Charlotte asked as she stopped as well, looking back at him. “Like actually mean it, not just saying it in the heat of the moment?”

    “I meant it…” Chris said, before taking a breath and continuing walking. “I only beat you the other week because I saw how hard you worked, and realized how lazy I was being, and eventually that would catch up with me. That I needed to work as hard as you do if I want to stand a chance.”

    “Working as hard as I did nearly killed one of my Pokemon…” Charlotte retorted quietly.

    “And me trying to take a shortcut and do the bare minimum almost got me and Garchomp killed,” Chris said. “If Dylan didn’t rat me out to Jon, and Justin didn’t cave and tell him where I was, I’d have left that cave in a body bag. Everybody screws up at some point. If you let that get in the way of trying to move forward and improve, you will always be taking one step forward and two steps back.”

    Charlotte kept walking quietly, as cars rushed past, as Chris quickened his pace to catch up.

    “Truth is that regardless of whether you win or lose, I think you should be proud. If you win, be proud of that,” Chris continued. “And if you lose to me, be proud that your attitude and drive motivated someone to better themself. In some ways, I’d even say that’s better. So many people win every day, but how many of them actually inspire people?”

    Charlotte quickly glanced back as Chris realized what he had said.

    “I inspire you?”

    Chris went red, as he fumbled over words, before scowling at himself.

    “F**k it, yeah you do,” Chris said. “Don’t read too much into it…”

    Charlotte struggled to hide a grin.

    “Thanks…” she said quietly. “For what it’s worth, I’m glad we’re both here. Would have made for a boring summer if one of us missed it.”

    “I’m glad you’re here too…”
    Last edited by [Desolate Divine]; Today at 01:43 AM.

  4. #24
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Episode 9: Shock (Part 1)
    Spoiler:

    “Before we finish up this class, I need to tell you about something...”

    It was Friday morning, not even a day since Chris and Charlotte had attended the workshop on Mossdeep Beach, and Jon stood opposite the five students, having just completed the hour of practical training with the group. It was nearly 11am, when their Trainer Career class would begin, and usually Jon allowed a few minutes between to get a drink, maybe even take a quick shower if needed before class. So eating into this buffer was new to the students.

    “You remember how I told you there was a mystery assessment tomorrow, a couple of weeks back?” Jon asked.

    “Goddamn it…” Chris muttered, remembering it. Jon had mentioned it weeks earlier and told them not to plan anything off site that afternoon. Naturally everyone forgot about it, and the fact they had no clue what it was on was going to drive them crazy.

    “Now is when you find out what it is…” Jon said, as Charlotte stared at him intensely, wanting him to cut to the chase and tell them.

    “What is it?” Abbee asked.

    “I lied. There is no assessment,” Jon explained. “But there is something else we are doing…”

    Justin shifted nervously, knowing that Jon’s plans tended to be less than enjoyable when he wanted them to be.

    “Your families, friends and followers haven’t seen you battle in over two months. We want to show the progress you have made, so tomorrow you will each be doing two battles, which will be live streamed online, as a mixture of an update for those who follow your careers, and some easy advertising for the Eon Academy…”

    “Wait a second…” Justin said, suddenly anxious at the thought of battling with potentially hundreds, if not thousands of people watching. “Don’t you need our permission to do that?”

    “I do…” Jon said with a menacing grin.

    “Well I don’t know about the rest of these guys, but I haven’t given permission?” Justin asked.

    “Oh, but you have…” Jon said even more menacingly. “Do you remember when I talked about sponsorships in Trainer Career the other week? What was the first thing I said?”

    Justin made blank sounds as he tried to remember before Chris spoke up.

    “Read everything you sign to the letter…” Chris explained, as he realized what Jon was saying.

    “When each of you signed up for this camp, you signed an agreement, as did a parent or guardian. It was mostly safety and behavioural stuff, but there was one other thing you agreed to.”

    “The Eon Academy reserves the right to capture photos or video for promotional or archival purposes…” Abbee said, surprising even Jon at her memory. “Or something like that. Dad mentioned that’s why he doesn’t have to sign off on every photo taken during official competitions by their competitors. He has to give permission in order to compete.”

    “Nailed it,” Jon said. “I already have your’s and your guardian’s permission, so we are free to go ahead.”

    Justin went pale at the thought, before Jon spoke, though mostly addressing him.

    “Everybody has improved this summer. Some more than others, I will say, but everybody has improved. You have nothing to worry about,” Jon explained. “I just want to let your parents see they have done the right thing sending you here, and hopefully get a few more sign ups for next summer.”

    “So we’re a promotional tool?” Charlotte asked sarcastically.

    “I know three of you have fairly active Twitter presences as competitive battlers, so this can be publicity for yourself as well…” Jon explained. “But yes, I’m getting what I can out of the five of you…”

    Jon quickly dismissed them as they took their five minute break before the next class. As the others scattered, Abbee made her way to Dylan, who, whilst not as obvious as Justin, didn’t seem thrilled.

    “What do you think?” Abbee asked. “Excited for the show?”

    “Not really…” Dylan replied. “It’s been obvious from day one you guys are still miles ahead of me. Now the world gets to see it.”

    “It’ll be fine!” Abbee said cheerfully. “I’m sure your family will be happy to see how much progress you’ve made.”

    Dylan was silent as he thought it over. The way it was set up, it was impossible for him to be the only person to lose a match. If each person won a single match, that would mean each person lost a match as well. He wouldn’t be losing by himself, so took comfort in that. He just needed to not make a fool of himself.

    “What about you?” Dylan asked. “You seem excited.”

    Abbee was surprised at Dylan actually asking a question and making conversation he didn’t have to. It had happened a few times at this point but after nine weeks of mostly one sided conversations, she still wasn’t used to it.

    “Yeah, I think it will be fun.” Abbee replied. “I know Dad will be excited to see how I’ve improved. And if I can actually beat someone like Charlotte or Chris, I might get a few more fans, so we will see…”

    “So you’re going to share that this is happening on Twitter?” Dylan asked, slightly concerned at the publicity Abbee would give the stream.

    “When I get to my laptop during lunch…” Abbee said. “My phone has gone missing again…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    An hour and a half later, Jon wandered into he and Alyssa’s cottage on the edge of the property, walking in through the back door and pouring himself a glass of water, as he took a large drink. It was lunchtime now, however the hour before was one of the longest he had since the summer began. His mistake was telling them of the live-streamed battle before the final class. Had he waited an hour, he might have been able to hold their focus a little easier, instead of trying to keep them from talking about what was happening the next day.

    “Hey Jon…” Said Alyssa’s voice from the lounge, where he could hear the TV playing quietly. “We have company…”

    Jon raised his eyebrows, surprised at how vague Alyssa was being, and the tone of voice.

    “Everything alright?” Jon said casually, though quickly readying a Pokeball.

    “Yeah, everything’s fine, just come here for a second…”

    Jon walked into the lounge, and found Alyssa sitting on the couch, watching Amelia, who lay on her stomach, staring intently at a small cream and orange colored Pokemon, who sat opposite her on the blanket, making faces.

    “Hey Jon…” Victini said in pokespeak. “It’s been a while…”

    Jon was shocked to see Victini back in his house.

    “Victini…” He said. “It’s great to see you, but what are you doing here? Is everything alright? How about Cass?”

    “Everything’s fine. For me at least.” Victini explained. “I haven’t seen Cass since last time I saw you, but I think she’s doing okay. She’s pretty tough...”

    Victini pulled another face as Amelia cried out with laughter at the sight in front of her.

    “Do you want something to eat?” Jon asked, unsure how one goes about being host to a Mythical Pokemon.

    “If you’re offering, I’d love some chocolate…” Victini said, causing Jon to chuckle, as he quickly made his way into the kitchen and found half a block from the night before in the fridge. He passed it to Victini, who began to nibble on it.

    “So what have you been doing the last six months?” Jon asked, as he sat on the floor, back resting against the couch, and picked up Amelia, sitting her on his lap.

    “Living the wild Pokemon life!” Victini explained. “Seeing the world, meeting new people and Pokemon. Running like hell when those Pokemon attacked me so the people could throw Pokeballs at me. Even snuck into a few rock concerts, and helped the bands out with some pyrotechnics…”

    “I didn’t know you liked rock music?” Jon laughed.

    “Neither did I, but I just wanted to try anything and everything,” Victini explained. “I travelled to every region, met and battled a few Legendary Pokemon during those times…”

    Victini began to trail off, and slowed down nibbling on the chocolate block.

    “You alright?” Jon asked, noticing the sudden silence.

    “It just isn’t the same by yourself you know?” Victini said quietly. “These were things I did with Cass before we met you, and even though we got to do that through cheating, I still enjoyed the time I spent with her. But now, she is doing her own thing, and life just seems…”

    “A little empty at times?”

    “Exactly…”

    Victini began to slowly nibble at the chocolate again, as Jon spoke up.

    “Well, you’re more than welcome here.” Jon said. “Granted, I wouldn’t be able to battle with you competitively, since all the official tournaments don’t allow more than one Legendary or Mythical, but if it’s company you’re after, you can stay here as long as you like…”

    “Thank’s Jon, I knew you’d say that.” Victini explained. “Long term, I am looking for another trainer, to be a partner, compared to the idiots trying to capture me the last six months, but, and don’t take this personally, I wasn’t thinking of you…”

    “Well she’s a little young, don’t you think?” Jon asked jokingly, nodding towards the baby who sat on his lap.

    “Funny, but no…” Victini said. “I might stick around for a little while, but the reason I came was because I figured one of the kids you’re teaching could be a good fit. If they aren’t, I will keep looking…”

    Jon was slightly surprised to hear Victini say that. Thinking about it, all of the trainers who were studying under him had their strengths and weaknesses that Victini could fit into well. But it was more about who Victini wanted to partner up with than anything else.

    “Would that be okay?” Victini asked, noticing Jon’s surprise.

    “Not my call, but I don’t see an issue with it,” Jon replied. “Just surprised me, that’s all. I get she is doing her own thing now, but it just seems so strange for you to be with anyone but Cass. But, I think you will like the guys I have here. I have my bets on who you would click best with, but I will keep them to myself.”

    “So in that case, do you mind if I watch from the shadows what is going on here?” Victini asked. “I won’t be seen.”

    “Sure,” Jon said. “You came at a good time.”

    “How so?”

    “Tomorrow they are going to be battling one another, and it will be broadcasted so their families and friends can see their improvement,” Jon explained. “They will be wanting to put on quite a show…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****
    Whilst Jon had intentionally waited until the day before to tell them about the livestream, so that they wouldn’t have time to do extra preparation, the students still tried as hard as they could, to sneak in extra practise.

    Thankfully, they wound up by the time the sun went down, and seemed prepared enough for the match the next day. Mid morning came, and Jon and Alyssa filled both their cars with the Eon Academy students, as they made their way to the Mossdeep City Gym.

    “You said this was a live-stream…” Justin said as he walked into the arena. “You have a full TV studio set up in here.”

    “I’m considering this an investment for my business,” Jon explained. “I can cheap out and use a cheap camera I have at home, and it look cheap and unprofessional, or I can spend a bit of money and hire some professionals to make it look 100%...”

    Dylan looked around at the camera setup. Large and expensive cameras were stationed around the edge of the arena, with drones above the battlefield

    “Won’t they get in the way?” Chris asked, gesturing to the ones above the battlefield.

    “I thought the same first time I battled with a setup like this,” Jon explained. “The guys operating them are borderline freaky with how well they handle them. You will be fine, and in all honesty, this battle will look better online than it does in person…”

    Chris grinned at the publicity, as Jon gathered the students around.

    “So the way this will work is there will be five battles,” Jon explained. “And the people competing in each battle will be based off your one-on-one training roster. This means it will be Charlotte versus Abbee, Justin versus Chris, Abbee versus Dylan, Chris versus Charlotte, and Dylan Vs Justin…”

    There were mixed expressions on the faces of the students. Chris seemed pretty happy with his fixture, as did Charlotte. Abbee and Justin both seemed more determined hearing this, whilst Dylan seemed more anxious.

    “Additionally, this will be a double battle, with only two Pokemon allowed from each player. You all have four or more Pokemon, if a Pokemon is withdrawn, it is out, and there will be no healing between battles…”

    “Wait, but some of us have five or six?” Chris asked, knowing his Kingdra wouldn’t be able to do much in this battle. “How is that fair?”

    “It’s not the tournament organizers responsibility to make sure that competitors have a balanced team,” Jon said. “It’s your responsibility. And that isn’t just for typing, but also numbers. Charlotte, you are now down a Pokemon, and if Feebas hadn’t evolved, you would be at a massive disadvantage. Chris, one of your strongest Pokemon needs to be in the water. You have an empty slot on your team, yet you haven’t filled it. That’s not my problem…”

    Chris scowled at the response. Whilst Jon was right, his tone was blunt, and came across as harsh.

    Whilst Abbee understood Chris, and most likely the others distaste towards the requirements of this battle, she also understood why Jon was doing it. Choosing Pokemon wouldn’t just come down to which Pokemon you think your opponent will use, but what Pokemon it leaves you with for your second match. If Charlotte were to open the battle against Abbee with her two strongest Pokemon, she may be disadvantaged when she battles Chris, and vice-verse with Chris and Justin who were up next. In her case, Dylan was going to have the advantage against her, as she would be down two Pokemon, whilst Dylan had all four to choose from, though that being said, he still needed to think through his battle with Justin later…

    Half an hour passed as the camera crew got last minute things organized, before Jon was called over to a commentators table in front of the camera to introduce the event, and Abbee and Charlotte were told to make their way to either end of the battlefield.

    “3, 2, 1…” Said the camera operator.

    “Hello and welcome to the debut, Eon Academy Live-Streamed Battles. My name is Jon Drake, and I am the winner of the first High-Seas Tournament, and the founder of the Eon Academy,” Jon said, surprising everyone at how well spoken he was, seeing as half the videos of him online were not allowed to be shown in standard evening television due to the language, and the video of the confrontation between him and Ethan Caldwell was hardly flattering. Alyssa must have trained him intensely before this.

    “The Eon Academy is a specialized competitive battling school based in Mossdeep City, of the Hoenn Region. During a summer, an intensive camp, aimed at young trainers who want to improve their battling, is run, with the first one currently underway. This summer, we have five trainers, who have all shown great improvement, and in order to showcase this to their friends, families and fans, we have decided to broadcast some of their battles to display their achievements,” Jon explained. “Joining me on the commentators table, will be my good friend and rival, Hoenn Champion Steven Stone…”

    “Wait, Steven’s here?” Chris asked, slightly surprised, and feeling more anxious. Steven hadn’t seen the trainers battle before, only really coming in to speak in the classroom. So this was new…

    Steven emerged from a nearby doorway, flashing a grin at the dumbstruck students, before making his way to the table where Jon sat.

    “Thanks for having me here Jon,” Steven began. “I love the fact that my own hometown of Mossdeep is now home to a specialized battling school, and am eager to see what you have taught these young people, and the progress they have made.”

    As Jon and Steven continued to talk, nobody but Jon was aware of the third spectator. A small Mythical Pokemon, who sat on one of the rafters of the roof, mostly hidden from view, and watching the battles to come from a Pidgey’s-eye view. Victini could hardly contain his excitement, and wanted to be down at the table with Jon, however figured that his presence may influence the way the trainers battle. But he still was thinking, maybe someone here could be his partner…

    Jon and Steven spoke for a few more minutes, before introducing Charlotte and Abbee, and allowing the battle to begin, having explained the constraints the trainers were under, and the implications for their other battles.

    Naturally, both trainers had to choose their Pokemon without revealing them to the other, as Jon explained the reasoning behind this. Then, when given the go-ahead, they both revealed their Pokemon.

    Charlotte sent out her Roserade and Magmar, as Abbee breathed a sigh of relief. She had guessed that Magmar would make an appearance against her, as if Charlotte wanted to beat anyone, it would be Chris. She wouldn’t risk sending an unevolved Pokemon out against him.

    Abbee revealed her two Pokemon, Ariados, and Poliwhirl. She had taken a risk with Poliwhirl, as it also was unevolved, however it was her only water type, and Ariados would struggle even against an unevolved Magmar. And as for why Ariados…

    Abbee noticed Charlotte shiver to herself. She wasn’t a fan of anything with more than four legs, and Ariados definitely gave her the creeps, and every time Ariados was let out of its Pokeball, Charlotte would do whatever she reasonably could to keep away from it…

    “Begin!”

    Charlotte called out orders, as Roserade shifted its focus towards Ariados, and Magmar towards Poliwhirl. Charlotte had expected Abbee to go on the offensive, and she was half right. Abbee did.

    “Get out of range!” Abbee called out.

    Without waiting for orders, Ariados unleashed a Sticky Web attack, slowing down both opponents, as Poliwhirl darted towards Ariados, climbing onto the large bug type’s back. When Poliwhirl was holding on tight, Ariados crouched, before leaping into the air, and when at maximum height, shooting off a web that grabbed onto one of the steel rafters, before swinging itself onto them, hanging upside down, as Poliwhirl held on tight. Victini almost fell off at the shock of the intrusion.

    “Abbee has immediately given herself an advantage here,” Steven explained. “The biggest threat to her right now is Magmar beating Ariados, and Poliwhirl is best suited for that, if it isn’t taken down by Roserade first…”

    “By using Ariados’ nimbleness and ability to climb, she is putting them more out of reach of the two Pokemon, and them plenty of cover, while Poliwhirl tries to take down Magmar at a distance…” Jon explained.

    Ariados swung itself from another web rope, landing on top of one of the rafters, narrowly avoiding a fireball that Magmar had launched at the pair, before scurrying across the rafters, getting closer and closer to where Magmar was, narrowly avoiding more and more fire attacks, as Roserade used Grassy Terrain.

    “Ice Beam, Poliwhirl!” Abbee called out. “Freeze the rafters!”

    Poliwhirl cried out, launching an ice-beam attack, behind where Ariados had just walked, which quickly got melted by the onslaught of fire attacks. This was all going to plan. As Magmar kept melting the ice, more and more water dropped down, but even more importantly, the frozen water evaporated almost instantly. Amidst the chaos and cover, Poliwhirl slipped off of Ariados’ back, hiding on one of the rafters, and when Magmar had launched an attack at Ariados, many meters away, it dropped down…

    “Now Waterfall!” Abbee called out, as Poliwhirl became encased in a violent flow of water, landing headfirst on Magmar, knocking it out.

    Knowing that was the signal, Ariados dropped down as well, dangling upside down from a web between Charlotte and Roserade, readying an X-Scissor attack. However before Charlotte could even shriek at the giant Bug Type in front of her, and before Abbee could give Poliwhirl and order, or even realize her mistake, thick thorny vines erupted from the ground beneath both Poliwhirl and Ariados.

    “Abbee did well with that play, however she mustn’t have been paying attention to Roserade…” Jon explained. “Grassy Terrain is great for increasing damage output, but also has another perk. You never know what is hiding in it…”

    The thorny vines wrapped themselves around the two Pokemon, pulling them to the ground where they shrieked in pain, as Abbee realized just what Roserade had been doing the entire time. Creating cover on the ground for traps, those being Spikes and Leech Seed, however Abbee was also convinced there were other buffs. It was mere seconds before Poliwhirl was unconscious from both the spikes and the energy being absorbed. Ariados was still struggling trying to cut through the vines, which just seemed to keep erupting from the ground. Eventually Ariados slowed down its struggling before stopping. Charlotte called off Roserade, as Abbee approached both her Pokemon, confirming they were both unconscious, before returning them to their Pokeball.

    “Charlotte understood well the importance of awareness, and how disrupting that for her opponent gave her the advantage,” Steven said. “By bombarding the two Pokemon, who were already lacking visibility from the cover they were using, she prevented them from noticing what Roserade was doing, and also drew Abbee’s attention away from it. Both trainers did exceptionally, especially creativity-wise, in terms of how their Pokemon worked well independently and as a team, but in the end, Charlotte used Abbee’s own plan against her…”

    As Charlotte and Abbee shook hands, Justin nudged Chris who sat next to him.

    “I’m glad I’m not going up against her…” he said, gesturing to Charlotte.

    “Focus, we’re up next…” Chris retorted, though after seeing how savagely Charlotte beat Abbee, who herself had impressed him, knew he would be in for a rough time…

    Jon and Steven quickly interviewed Abbee and Charlotte about the battle, praising them for their ingenuity, pointing out holes in the plans and providing feedback for the next round. Then it was up to Chris and Justin…

    The pair made their way to opposing ends of the battlefield, each choosing their two Pokemon. Whilst Chris knew he could beat Justin on any normal day, this was different. He knew why Charlotte had sent out Magmar now, and figured that the same reasoning was why Abbee sent out Poliwhirl. Chris had four Pokemon he could use, Garchomp, Dragonair, Charizard and Vulpix, who, whilst having had some practise battles against some of the less experienced Pokemon his classmates had, still lacked the experience he would have liked it to have. There was no way he was going to send out Vulpix against Charlotte, especially after that bloodbath, and if Justin knew that, he could open with Lucario and potentially wipe it out easily. However, Chris knew that Justin himself had unevolved Pokemon, Kadabra and Houndour, and Houndour in particular would struggle against Dylan’s Walrein and Flygon, should he choose to use them. But Dylan might not use them if he uses them in his battle against Abbee…

    Chris realized he was reading far too much into this, and would never have a clear cut path forward. The best he could do was trust his gut, and his gut told him that Charlotte would be much more of a threat to him than Justin. Not to say Justin lacked ability, but more so Charlotte was driven and brutal. The last match showed that well. So if he were going to pick two Pokemon against Justin…

    When they were given the instruction, Chris sent out his two Pokemon, Dragonair and Vulpix, whilst Justin sent out Ninjask and Houndour.

    “Begin!”

    The four Pokemon began to scatter around the arena, with Houndour making Vulpix it’s target, and Vulpix not seeming phased by this, keeping its focus on Houndour. Meanwhile Ninjask darted backwards, using Agility, and Dragonair darting towards Houndoom.

    “Hail!” Chris called out to Vulpix. “And Dragon Rush!”

    Chris knew that no matter what he did, there was no way of outspeeding Ninjask, it was just too much. However, speed meant nothing if Ninjask couldn’t use it against an opponent, and if Ninjask was too focused trying to not be pelted with Hail, then he might be able to buy some time. This was a risk however, as the hail was also detrimental to Dragonair.

    “It looks like this matchup could go either way, but if I had to place any bets, I’d say Justin has the advantage here…” Steven explained, “Houndour can make life miserable for Vulpix, and Chris will need Vulpix to have an advantage against Ninjask.”

    “Maybe, but I get the feeling Chris and Vulpix have a trick or two up their sleeve…” Jon replied, as Chris grinned. He was right, and got the feeling Jon knew exactly what that trick was…

    After Vulpix hatched, Chris had approached Jon about getting in touch with the breeder who gave him the egg. Whilst Chris knew that Alyssa’s Vulpix, Yuki, was his Vulpix’s mother, and the breeder had also used a Vulpix as the father, he was curious to see what it’s lineage was, and any reputable breeder kept records. Upon being sent Vulpix’s pedigree, Chris found what he was looking for.

    Dragonair slammed into Houndour encased in a draconic aura, as Vulpix readied it’s own attack.

    “Moonblast!” Chris called out.

    “Moonblast?” Steven said with confusion. “I didn’t think that Vulpix learnt that move?”

    “Not normally…” Jon explained. “But Chris got in touch with his Vulpix’s breeder, and found out it’s great-grandmother was a Sylveon…”

    “Well, that in and of itself speaks volumes,” Steven explained. “The best trainers do everything they can to know exactly what their Pokemon are capable of, and it turns out, even I was surprised to know what this Vulpix could do.”

    Vulpix cried out as a white light appeared in its jaws, launching forward into Houndour knocking it backwards, as Dragonair launched another attack, slamming into it and knocking it out.

    “Chris has taken the lead with ease!” Steven exclaimed. “However Justin’s Ninjask has been left unchecked, and now could be a difficult opponent with its immense speed.”

    Steven wasn’t wrong…

    Ninjask darted around, landing small but quick and hard hitting attacks on Dragonair, gaining speed by the second…

    “Icy Wind!” Chris called out to Vulpix, as the small Ice Type began to exhale a cold wind that grew, chilling everyone in the room. Whilst it didn’t deal too much damage to Ninjask, and was also affecting Dragonair, it had its intended effect. Among the icy air, Ninjask’s trail was more visible, and the cold had slowed it down, even just a little…

    “Wrap!” Chris called out to Dragonair, who struck, waiting for the command. It leapt towards where it presumed Ninjask was going to be, and constricted itself around the Bug type, holding it in place, unable to move.

    Knowing it was the only way to win, Chris hesitated, before calling out his final command.

    “Sheer Cold!”

    The powerful ice type move was inaccurate, however with Dragonair holding Ninjask in place, and by extension, taking the move itself, the move was guaranteed to hit. Both Dragonair and Ninjask fell unconscious, as Chris was declared the winner. He hated winning by putting his own Pokemon in the firing line, however having lost to Abbee and Charlotte when they did the same thing, one of their Pokemon accidentally confusing the other, he understood sometimes it was the only way.

    Chris and Justin were quickly given the same debrief that Charlotte and Abbee were given before, as Dylan and Abbee began preparing for their battle. Dylan had the significant advantage here. He had a solid idea of which Pokemon Abbee and Justin would send out in their battles against him, and could act accordingly. Abbee wasn’t going to send out her Eevee, which meant it was going to be Ampharos and Typhlosion, and Justin still had Greninja and Lucario, two of his heaviest hitters.

    When they were both ready and Jon called for them to send out their Pokemon, Dylan sent out Flygon and Walrein, with Abbee sending out Typhlosion and Ampharos.

    “Begin!”

    “Bulldoze!” Dylan called out to Walrein. Both of Abbee’s Pokemon flinched at the oncoming ground move, however were slightly surprised when it didn’t make contact. Instead, the smooth earth in front of Walrein was molded and formed into a jagged wall, providing the large, cumbersome Pokemon with some cover. Abbee was surprised by this, as Jon felt the need to point it out.

    “That cover serves two purposes.” Jon explained, “If the arena gets too damp, Ampharos’ electric attacks will wreak havoc, so the cover will also hopefully act as a partition to any water conducting electricity.”

    Abbee looked around, noticing Flygon had disappeared from view, before noticing the edge of a hole behind the cover that Walrein had made.

    “Look out!” She called, but it was too late. She had know way of knowing who was the target. As both Pokemon dodged, Flygon emerged from the ground under Ampharos, knocking it back with a decent blow, as Walrein launched icicle spears from behind its cover towards Typhlosion.

    The first struck, knocking Typhlosion back, who leapt towards it, igniting the flames on its back ever hotter and larger, melting the next, causing water to spray over its flames, before they burned hot enough to evaporate them.

    “Rollout!” Abbee called out to Typhlosion, who leapt towards Flygon, curling into a ball at the last second, landing a weak hit, as Ampharos launched Thunderbolts towards Walrein.

    As Flygon darted around, attempting a Dragon Tail attack it was quickly struck by another Rollout attack from Typhlosion being knocked back, as Ampharos prevented Walrein from providing support by continuing to launch electric attacks towards it.

    “It seems Abbee has learnt from her last battle, implementing a similar sort of strategy to Charlotte.” Steven explained, “Bombarding the disadvantaged Pokemon with attacks to keep it busy.”

    Dylan instructed Walrein to use surf, flooding the arena outside of its own covered area, as a third Rollout from Typhlosion hit Flygon, and Ampharos had to stop with its electric attacks, in order to not harm Typhlosion. Flygon managed to get another Dragon Tail on Ampharos, however there was a shudder as Abbee grinned.

    “It seems that even ground types aren’t immune to Static Paralysis…” Jon noted, as Ampharos directed its focus to the now movement-restricted Flygon.

    “Dragon Pulse!” Abbee called out. “And Rollout on the wall!”

    Ampharos roared, as a draconic aura emanated from it, hitting Flygon, and knocking it out, as Typhlosion leapt towards the cover that Walrein was protected by, launching into it, curling into a ball, and knocking down a section of it.

    “Surf!” Dylan said in a panic, hoping the last second water move would incapacitate the fire type, however Abbee and Typhlosion were faster.

    “Dig!”

    Typhlosion leapt past Walrein, onto a dry patch of earth, before tunneling into it, where it would be protected from what Abbee had planned next.

    “Now Thunder!” She called out, as Ampharos cried out, causing bolts of lightning to strike the water, conducting it straight into Walrein, who cried out in pain, before falling unconscious.

    “So the rollouts were actually to build up momentum to take down the wall, without Dylan being aware of it…” Steven said, comprehending it all. “Interesting. It worked…”

    “Dylan’s strategy was a great start too. Unfortunately it relied on the two Pokemon being too far apart and disconnected to support one another, and Abbee took advantage of that, having put into play some of the tricks Charlotte used earlier."

    As they left the field, Dylan and Abbee both sighed, Dylan a sigh of disappointment at losing the match, and Abbee a sigh of relief at winning at least one round, and having battled her last match, as Steven had his Claydol resurface the battlefield.

    The second to last battle was between Charlotte and Chris, and this was the battle that held the most tension. Both had grown since their last battle, and wanted to see who was on top, even if just for now. This showdown had impacted every battle before and after, with their other opponents knowing they will put 100% into this battle in particular.

    Whilst they were told to keep their Pokemon choices hidden, both knew exactly which Pokemon the other would be sending out, and neither were surprised when they finally got to send their Pokemon out. Unbeknownst to either of them Jon watched with slight concern. Both of them have been driven to the point of self-endangerment by their rivalry, and whilst Jon had considered adjusting the fixture so they wouldn’t face each other, he knew that if they didn’t learn to lose to one another without letting it destroy them now, they would face each other before he saw them next, if he ever did, and this time he wouldn’t be there to pick up the pieces.

    In front of Charlotte floated Drifblim and Milotic, and in front of Chris was Charizard and Garchomp. Both teams stared each other down intently. When Jon finally gave the word to start, both sides of the field stirred to life.

    Charizard darted towards Drifblim, as it would struggle to beat Milotic. However Chris was surprised that instead of Milotic going after Charizard, it instead faced down Garchomp, who had darted after it, as Chris had instructed.

    “Stockpile!” Charlotte instructed, confusing Chris slightly, as Charizard attacked it with a Flamethrower attack. Meanwhile Milotic dodged Garchomp’s attack, before using Dragon Dance, getting a boost in both power and speed. Milotic was the biggest wildcard that Charlotte had, as Chris knew almost nothing of its abilities, yet Charlotte had time to research, something he realized now he should have done.

    “Minimize!” Charlotte called out, as just before Charizard let out another fire attack, Driflbim shrunk, now half the size at the attack missed. “Then Stockpile again!”

    Charizard missed another flamethrower, roaring with frustration at his inability to hit the balloon Pokemon, before Driflbim stockpiled a third time, before taking a hit. This time however the attack did what Charlotte had actually wanted it to. Drifblim called out with its ominous wind-like cry, and Charlotte knew what that meant. It had been burnt…

    Garchomp launched another attack at Milotic, this one hitting, however not doing a great deal of damage, before Milotic flipped over, slamming its tail into Garchomp, which was coated in a draconic aura, knocking the wind out of Garchomp.

    “Will-O-Wisp!” Charlotte called out, as Chris did a double take. Charizard was immune to burns, which meant…

    The spectral flame launched from Drifblim towards Garchomp, hitting it and inflicting it with a burn to match its own that it got from Charizard.

    “And Aqua Tail!”

    Milotic darted past Garchomp, flipping forward and slamming its now water encase tail into Charizard, knocking it back to prevent it from hitting Drifblim.

    “Hex!” Charlotte called out. Hex was a move that did double damage if the recipient of it was already affected by a condition such as poisoning, paralysis or a burn. And Drifblim itself had an ability that boosted it’s special moves if it were burnt itself.

    The spectral wave hit Garchomp, causing its eyes to roll back in its head as it passed out, convulsing on the ground, whilst Milotic attempted to restrain Charizard. Charizard was not able to be burned, and they didn’t have time to afflict it with some sort of condition. So it was going to have to be a bigger move than Hex, and Charlotte had already briefed Milotic on the signal.

    “Now!” she called out, as Milotic darted away, and Drifblim launched a Thunder attack, also affected by its Flare Boost ability, which struck Charizard, knocking it to the ground and out cold.

    “Charlotte has won the battle,” Jon called out, slightly cautiously as he looked over at Chris, curious to see how he took it.

    Chris called his Pokemon back, before walking towards Charlotte. He held out his hand for her to shake.

    “Good match,” Chris said. “I never would have seen that play coming.”

    “I’m glad,” Charlotte said, awkwardly. “It was a good match…”

    Jon breathed a sigh of relief, before looking up, and catching a glimpse of a small orange being, looking down at Charlotte from the rafters.

    “Interesting…” He muttered to himself.

    “What’s that?” Steven asked, as Jon realized he had spoken out loud, and it was being streamed.

    “Nothing,” Jon said. “Just thinking about the next match. It will be interesting…”

    “Interesting indeed…”

    Chris and Charlotte left the battlefield, as Justin and Dylan emerged for the final match. They both selected their Pokemon, before revealing them together. Justin sent out his Lucario and Greninja, whilst Dylan sent out Metang and Sceptile.

    Whilst at the start of the summer Justin was ahead of Dylan in terms of skill, he had almost caught up, and now, Jon guessed, the winner would come down to whether their individual tactics would work more so than the tactics themselves. However Justin did have an advantage of having both fully evolved Pokemon, and neither of them are the sort to be taken lightly…

    The interesting thing that both Jon and Steven noted was that there wasn’t a significant one way advantage. Whilst normally Sceptile would have an advantage over Greninja, Jon knew of it’s Protean ability, which allowed it to change types based on the moves it uses, and whilst Greninja could easily use an ice move to get the upper hand on Sceptile, Sceptile had its own arsenal of fighting type moves it could use to strike back. In terms of Pokemon used, this was going to be the most interesting match of all of them.

    “Begin!”

    Learning from his loss against Abbee, Dylan held both Pokemon back, as Metang used Bulldoze, causing the ground of the battlefield in front of them to crack, rise, and fall, making the terrain difficult for anyone to cross. Whilst Lucario and Greninja both were able to leap and still cover large distances, and at first glance it seemed like this was going to do nothing, it would actually reduce their mobility.

    “Dylan has very quickly applied what he learnt from his last battle, which is something to be commended. You’d almost think he has had weeks to put that into practise,” Steven said.

    “Even if Lucario and Greninja can jump decent distances, they are still disadvantaged by this. They are both Pokemon that rely on close quarters fighting, and without using tricks that would take a lot of time and practise to master, they can’t change course in mid-air…”

    “Energy Ball!” Dylan called out, as Greninja leapt towards Sceptile. He only had a few seconds for Energy Ball to be super effective, before Greninja’s type changed.

    “Ice Beam!” Justin retorted. The attack missed, however Greninja’s typing changed, causing Sceptile’s attack to do a quarter of the damage it should, allowing Greninja to barely feel the hit as it landed in front of Sceptile, and launched another Ice Beam, this time, hitting it.

    Lucario darted diagonally across the field, leaping over the cracked and dangerous terrain, landing near Sceptile, as it used Brick Break, also hitting the grass type. Meanwhile Metang used Iron Defense. Sceptile quickly dodged another Ice Beam from Greninja, letting off a Focus Blast that hit Greninja, slowing it down, however taking a hit itself from Lucario, knocking it down just as much as it had Greninja. Meanwhile Metang used Iron Defense again. Whilst Dylan wanted to hold out a little longer, he knew they didn’t have time. Sceptile was not going to last another round.

    “Now!” He called out. Both Pokemon knew what he wanted when he said that, as Metang used Ally Switch, causing both itself and Sceptile to switch places, as Metang took two direct hits from Greninja and Lucario, barely showing a mark for it.

    “I must say, when I gave Dylan that Beldum, I didn’t think he’d have it so strong this quickly…” Steven said, almost seeming to forget he was commentating. “I took your word for it when you said his instincts for raising Pokemon were great, but this…”

    “He’s done well…”

    Lucario used Force Palm on Metang, as Greninja attempted a Shadow Sneak, shifting to a Ghost Type. As it prepared to attack, having already shifted types, Dylan called out.

    “Throat Chop!”

    Sceptile lunged forward, hitting Greninja in the throat with a brutal smash, knocking it to the ground and unconscious. Before Dylan could plan his next move however, Lucario twisted around, hitting Sceptile with a Close Combat attack, one of its most powerful moves, that came with the cost of its own defensive capabilities. However the cost was not for naught. Sceptile was also knocked out, leaving Metang against Lucario.

    “Iron Defense!” Dylan called, knowing that Metang couldn’t increase its defence much more, as Lucario began another onslaught of attacks. Metang attempted to block the attacks as much as it could, and was slowly being worn down.

    After a minute of the barrage, Metang’s eyes began to close, as Dylan thought it had endured too much. As he grabbed his Pokeball to call the Pokemon back before it was brutalized for his own pride, Metang’s eyes flicked open, before it was enveloped in a blinding white light.

    “Oh s**t…” Justin said, before being shot a dirty look from Jon, who was on his best behaviour for the stream when it came to his language.

    Metang shifted, becoming larger and growing two more of its arms, now using them to hold its body in the air, as the light dissipated. When the light was gone, Dylan called out for its next move!

    “Grapple it with Meteor Mash!”

    Metagross leapt forward, slamming one of its four arms into Lucario, landing a metallic punch that hardly seemed to affect Lucario, but served two other purposes. Metagross’ attack went up, and the other three arms wrapped themselves around Lucario, holding it tight against Metagross’ body. Lucario attempted to hit it, however was unable to.

    The battle had to end now. Whilst Lucario was subdued, a Pokemon wasn’t counted out until it was unconscious or its trainer had withdrawn it. And whilst Lucario couldn’t move now, Metagross couldn’t do anything to try and knock it out, without letting go, and doing that would more likely lead to Dylan’s defeat. He could try and have Metagross hold Lucario until Justin decided to call it back, but Metagross couldn’t hold it there forever. There was only one thing to do. Dylan wouldn’t be winning this match, but neither would Justin…

    “Explosion…” Dylan said quietly, as Metagross grunted in acknowledgement, before being enveloped in a white light. There was a bang, sending fragments of the arena floor in all directions, causing all watching to avert their gaze. When the dust settled, there lay a crater where Metagross and Lucario both lay unconscious.

    “Both Pokemon are unable to battle…” Steven said, acting as referee, though unable to hide the shock at what had just transpired. “The battle is a tie…”

    One could hear a pin drop in the silence, as both trainers returned their Pokemon and made their way to the commentators table.

    “You both did well,” Jon said. “Justin, you identified the bigger threat, and acted accordingly. When a spanner was thrown into the works, when the two Pokemon switched, you adjusted well, and were able to not let it end your match.”

    “Dylan, as a competitor, you did the right thing,” Jon continued. “In a situation where you know you can’t win, if you can bring about a draw, you will get more points and more likely continue in the tournament. However, for your Pokemon’s sake, I’d advise against doing something like that too often, though I think you already know that. Your strategy worked well, and in all honesty, I think that if Metang evolved before the match, you may have just taken the win…”

    As the two final competitors made their way back to the stands, and Jon began to close the stream, Abbee called out from the stands.

    “Hey wait a minute!” she called out. “I think there is still one more battle to be had!”

    “With what Pokemon?” Jon asked. “All of yours are tired…”

    “She isn’t talking about them…” Steven said with a grin, as Jon realized what she was implying. “You game?”

    Jon was taken a bit by surprise at the request, however his expression hardened with a smirk.

    “I wouldn’t want to take the focus away from these guys. They’ve done really well…”

    “Oh come on!” Chris shouted. “Show everyone why you’re the teacher here!”

    “I refer back to my question…” Steven said. “You game?”

    Jon’s grin widened.

    “You have no idea…”

    At the spur of the moment, Steven’s Claydol had resurfaced the arena, as he and Jon set up either side of the battleground, with Abbee and Chris sitting at the commentator’s table.

    “So Abbee, who is your money on during this clash of Champions and Jon?” Chris said, as Justin burst into laughter on the other side of the arena.

    “It’s very hard to say, Chris.” Abbee said using her best over the top commentator's voice. “All I can tell you is this is anybody’s match!”

    Jon and Steven both readied their Pokeballs, and at Chris’ command, revealed their Pokemon. Nobody was surprised at Jon’s pairing. Latios and Blaziken. Steven on the other hand had chosen Metagross and Aggron. Having not had the days notice of their battle that the young trainers had, Chris and Abbee allowed them a few minutes to strategize with their team, before the battle was set to commence.

    “Begin!”

    Much to everyone’s shock, though given how many times this had happened today, it shouldn’t have been a surprise, Blaziken leapt towards Metagross, despite its Psychic typing being a thorn in Blaziken’s Fighting Type’s side. Meanwhile, Latios launched into Aggron with a Zen Headbutt, which Aggron quickly blocked using Protect. Blaziken reached Metagross, hitting it with a Power-Up Punch, hardly doing damage to Metagross, however raising its own attack stat.

    With Blaziken in close proximity, and much faster than the large and bulky steel type, Metagross couldn’t respond with much finesse, instead repelling Blaziken with a quick telekinetic blast in all directions. Blaziken was launched into the air, however didn’t take much damage due to the telekinetic power being spread as it was. Upon sensing the blast, Latios darted away from Aggron, missing the counter attack, before launching its own attack, a Shadowball on Metagross.

    “In the opening moments of the battle, Steven has done well defending against what seems like utter chaos and unpredictability from Jon, however one cannot win a battle with defence alone,” Chris commented, enjoying his commentator voice a little too much. “What do you think Abbee?”

    “Jon’s initial assault has definitely seemed chaotic, but knowing him, this is controlled chaos. He has a plan, and is not giving Steven an inch to work with it.”

    As they spoke, Justin watched in awe as Blaziken, whilst being launched through the air, used a Blaze Kick aimed at nothing, with the sole purpose of changing its trajectory, launching itself into Aggron with another Power-Up Punch, seeming to do a decent amount of damage, however, unable to get a follow-up attack, as pointed rocks emerged from the ground, forcing it to leap back. As it did, Latios quick darted back to launch another attack at Aggron, as Blaziken quickly used Blaze Kick again to change its trajectory, this time launching itself back at Metagross, who still seemed occupied with Latios as he left.

    “It seems that Jon has just shown Justin what he was talking about during his match with Dylan,” Abbee said. “Justin, I hope you’re paying attention here.”

    “It is impressive, however he is revealing his rhythms to Steven very quickly, and an identifiable routine can make or break a trainer.”

    As Blaziken was nearing Metagross, the Steel-Psychic type prepared to knock Blaziken out of the air, before it could land another Power-Up Punch, however, this time, Blaziken didn’t attempt it, instead using another Blaze Kick to launch itself back to Jon’s side of the field.

    “Now!” Jon called out, as Latios dashed back into home turf, before its eyes glowed. There was a crack and bang, as the ground beneath them shattered from a powerful telekinetic blast, creating a large amount of dust which filled the air, making visibility difficult. When the dust dissipated, Steven was shocked for a moment to see Jon’s side of the field empty.

    “What…” Abbee said, shocked. She knew Latios could go invisible, but Blaziken…

    Steven realized what was going on before either of the commentators.

    “Above you!”

    Everyone looked up at once to see Blaziken in the steel rafters, launching itself from one to another.

    “It seems like Jon took a page from your book,” Chris laughed, as Abbee felt somewhat flattered.

    Blaziken leapt up from the rafters, flipping forward towards the roof, dodging a rock that hit one, smashing into pieces as the rafter remained unmarked. The moment its feet touched the roof, it crouched, and before gravity took effect, it launched itself down at Aggron, hitting it with a third Power-Up Punch attack, this one knocking the Steel and Rock type Pokemon out cold. Meanwhile Latios, whilst still invisible, was keeping Metagross occupied with short and quick tackles, which, whilst weren’t harming Metagross, was holding its attention, as Blaziken darted forward from the ground where Aggron lay.

    “Flare Blitz!”

    Blaziken became engulfed in flames, as it darted towards Metagross, who shifted its attention towards Blaziken.

    “Flash Cannon!” Steven called out. Metagross quickly charged up a silver light in front of it, launching towards Blaziken. However Blaziken leapt over it, flipping again, high above Metagross. Based on the trajectory, it looked like Blaziken planned to land on the other side and flank Metagross, however something strange happened.

    If not for Latios’ own speed and telepathic abilities, there was nearly no chance it would have worked. In the air above Metagross, Latios turned visible, levitating in a collision course with Blaziken. However, instead of Blaziken hitting its teammate, it planted its feet on an invisible barrier that Latios had created high above Metagross, before launching itself into the Pokemon who was expecting it to land on the other side. Metagross took the hit, collapsing to the ground, as Blaziken stood up, though a little more unstable on its feet.

    “F**k…” Chris muttered, as Abbee slapped him on the arm, seeing as this was all being live streamed online.

    “Metagross and Aggron are unable to battle…” Abbee called out. “Jon Drake wins the battle!”

    Both trainers called back their Pokemon, before meeting in the center to shake hands, as Steven laughed at the way the battle ended.

    “I have never seen you do that before…” Steven laughed. “I guess you weren’t full of it with what you said about Justin’s Pokemon.”

    “Experience is the best teacher,” Jon explained. “But you know as well as I do, I had never thought to use the rafters like that.”

    As the pair made their way back towards the table Steven spoke.

    “You better be careful, beating me up like that,” Steven joked. “When I retire, people might demand you replace me.”

    “I really hope not,” Jon laughed. “I kinda like running this school.”

    As Jon returned, he quickly closed the live stream, thanking those who helped make it happen and those who tuned in, also adding in a quick plug for the Eon Academy, before he got the all clear they weren’t being broadcasted anymore, as he called over the trainers who had been watching.

    “Let’s go get your Pokemon to the Pokemon Center, and get some lunch, then we can head back.”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Once their Pokemon had been checked in to the Pokemon Center, Jon allowed them free time in the hour it would take to heal their Pokemon. They could go get lunch somewhere in the city if they wanted, as long as they were back at the Pokemon Center in an hour. Chris and Justin quickly rushed off to a Steakhouse they had become fond of, as Abbee and Charlotte talked about going to a dumpling restaurant. Dylan sat quietly, reading the comments during his battle of the Livestream, surprised at the support he got from strangers.

    “You coming?” Abbee asked, taking him by surprise.

    “You want me to come along?” Dylan asked without realizing as Abbee laughed.

    “I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t,” Abbee said. “Come on, getting lunch with two pretty girls has gotta be better than sitting here by yourself.”

    Charlotte burst into laughter as Abbee led Dylan out of the door of the Pokemon Center, following Charlotte to the dumpling restaurant that she had been to with Jon a week or two earlier. When they were finally seated, and looking at menus, Abbee spoke up again.

    “You did well today,” Abbee said. “You were definitely keeping me more on my toes this time than last, and I loved seeing you steal the win from Justin…”

    “He has your phone again?” Charlotte asked.

    “Yeah, I’ll try and get it back off him tonight…” Abbee sighed, “I wish he’d just grow up a bit.”

    “You did well too,” Dylan said. “Both matches. I don’t think I could have held my own against Charlotte like that…”

    Charlotte grinned.

    “I can’t believe I won both!” She said proudly. “If I don’t get a few more fans after this, I never will.”

    Abbee laughed as the waiter arrived to take their order. Dylan couldn’t help but grin at the cheer at the table. He found himself surprised more than ever, how much he actually enjoyed his classmates' company, even Chris and Justin, who he didn’t have as much to do with. Charlotte was a little difficult to crack, in that she seemed so focused on improving that she sometimes seemed to forget there were other people around, but since getting to know her a little better, he had come to appreciate her company as well. And Abbee, the one who wouldn’t leave him alone, and now, though he wouldn’t say it, he would consider her his best friend.

    The trio ate their lunch, ecstatic from the mornings events, before making their way back to the Pokemon Center to meet with Jon, Alyssa, Chris and Justin, and make their way back to the Eon Academy.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****
    “Dinner is at its usual time so you have a bit of free time before then,” Jon said to all the students in the common area of the lodge. “If I am not exhausted from this morning, I might bring a movie down and we can watch it together after dinner.”

    “It was just a battle, old man,” Chris retorted, as Charlotte chuckled. Jon laughed at the sentiment.

    “It happens to the best of us. I might go have a nap before dinner so I can spend some time with you guys tonight, not lecturing you about something or other for once.”

    Chris and Justin went upstairs, as Abbee, Dylan and Charlotte made their way to the lounge, flicking on the TV, where BattleNET TV was showing highlights from the Livestream. Jon left them to it, leaving the lodge and making his way back to the cottage, where Alyssa had gone earlier. As he did the day before, he found Amelia laying on her stomach on the blanket on the floor, with Victini playing with her, as Alyssa watched the same news program that the students were.

    “I saw your little hiding spot today,” Jon said.

    “It seems like everyone and their mum did,” Victini retorted. “I almost had a heart attack when Ariados jumped up, and then you had Blaziken do the same thing. I didn’t realize I was hosting a party up there…”

    “So what do you think?” Jon asked. “Any of them have your stamp-of-approval?”

    “As battlers, yeah, two of them actually,” Victini retorted.

    “Charlotte and Abbee?”

    Victini looked at Jon in shock.

    “Are you sure you’re not part Psychic type?” Victini asked.

    “Pretty sure,” Jon said. “They’re both great battlers. Charlotte probably a little better.”

    “Yeah, I could see that.”

    “Charlotte is very driven. If you buddied up with her, you would reach heights you never would otherwise,” Jon explained. “She is determined to get better, and the sky is the limit. At one point it was to a fault, but I think she has grown past that.”

    “And what about Abbee?”

    “It’s hard to say,” Jon explained. “She has some serious natural talent, and her dad taught her really well. But I can’t help but wonder why she battles. She doesn’t slack off like Justin can, or seem more occupied with other things like Dylan. She isn’t overly determined to win like Chris or Charlotte. I don’t know, I think she isn’t too sure herself why she battles, and just wants to enjoy the moment…”

    “Jon…” Alyssa said with alarm. “You better see this…”

    Concerned by the worry in Alyssa’s voice, Jon looked at the TV, as he felt his stomach drop.

    “F**k…”

    He sprinted out of the room, almost tripping as he stumbled through the back door, and ran as fast as he could to the lodge. He fumbled with the door, letting himself in and walking quickly through the doorway into the lounge.

    “Abbee…” he began, however knew it was too late. Abbee sat on the couch stared at the TV, unmoving, as Charlotte stood by the other couch, hand over her open mouth, and Dylan sat trying to console Abbee as she read the banner at the bottom of the news program whilst the reporter spoke of what was going on.

    “World Famous Battler, Richard Strauss, killed in car accident…”
    Last edited by [Desolate Divine]; Today at 03:45 AM.

  5. #25
    Hidden in Shadows Neo Emolga's Avatar
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    Holy smokes. I mean, I had the insider knowledge about that happening, but I had to admit the sudden nature of it caught me off guard.

    Still, tons of crazy and hard to predict battles out there! The fun part is how unpredictable they are and how it looks like one student may have it, but then bam, they overlook something critical and it costs them the match. The different formats also help keep things interesting and diverse, and they work well in a variety for the reader standpoint, but it also makes sense for the characters to have to work with different formats to give them expertise as trainers.

    The tables keep getting turned and all of the students are adapting in different ways and trying new strategies. What's cool is they're all still growing and getting stronger, even in losing. Their personalities are also very realistic and they all have their own agendas and desires. Definitely nice on the character development stuff all tied together in a intriguing storyline. :3

  6. #26
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo Emolga View Post
    Holy smokes. I mean, I had the insider knowledge about that happening, but I had to admit the sudden nature of it caught me off guard.

    Still, tons of crazy and hard to predict battles out there! The fun part is how unpredictable they are and how it looks like one student may have it, but then bam, they overlook something critical and it costs them the match. The different formats also help keep things interesting and diverse, and they work well in a variety for the reader standpoint, but it also makes sense for the characters to have to work with different formats to give them expertise as trainers.

    The tables keep getting turned and all of the students are adapting in different ways and trying new strategies. What's cool is they're all still growing and getting stronger, even in losing. Their personalities are also very realistic and they all have their own agendas and desires. Definitely nice on the character development stuff all tied together in a intriguing storyline. :3
    Haha at what point did you realize that was happening?

    Yeah I was thinking of doing this as one episode instead of part 1 and part 2 and not going into depth with the battles since there is five but figured it would be too rushed. Part of the reason they had that format was to keep them quick but still allow a decent amount of detail in them. Gotta say, proudest idea I had for this was Jon's win, the way Blaziken took out Metagross haha

    Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk

  7. #27
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Episode 10: Legacies (Part 2)
    Spoiler:

    “World Famous Battler, Richard Strauss, killed in car accident…”

    Jon was too late.

    “Abbee…” he began, though didn’t know what to say, “I’m so sorry…”

    Charlotte stood a metre or two away looking at the TV in shock, whilst Dylan had his hand on her shoulder, whilst she was muttering to herself.

    “No… No…”

    The news reporter described the accident, explaining Richard driving down the Goldenrod City Highway, and a car controlled by someone driving under the influence merged from the entry ramp, at high speed, sideswiping Richard’s car. Whilst the impact itself wasn’t what caused his death, Richard’s car was knocked sideways, before being clipped on the rear quarter by another car in the lane on the other side, causing it to spin ninety degrees, and roll numerous times. By the time emergency services had arrived he was already gone.

    Abbee began frantically patting her legs where her pockets were, as if she were looking for something, before starting to sob, as she frantically started pulling the cushions off the couch, desperately searching for something.

    “Where is it…” She sobbed to herself, as Dylan got up, and walked out of the room, passing Jon. Charlotte realized where he was going, calling out for him to wait, but it fell on deaf ears.

    “Turn it off.” Jon said, “And stay with Abbee.”

    Charlotte nodded, trying to console Abbee as Jon went after Dylan.

    Dylan reached Justin’s bedroom door, pounding on it as hard as he could.

    “What?” Justin called out, irritated at the obnoxious knocking.

    “Open the door.” Dylan replied, sounding more assertive than anybody had ever heard him.

    “It sounds like you want to murder me, so why would I do that?” Justin replied jokingly, however Dylan had had enough. Chris walked out of his own room, wondering what the fuss was about, to see Dylan take a step back, before ramming the door with his shoulder, knocking it in and ripping the lock out of its frame.

    “What the f**k?” Chris shouted as he followed Dylan into the room, trying to figure out what was going on.

    Justin lay on the bed reading a magazine when the door was knocked in, scrambling to his feet when Dylan broke into the room.

    “What’s your problem?” Justin asked, as Dylan grabbed him by the collar, before shoving him to the ground. Dylan was by far the biggest student there, bigger than Jon, but his quiet demeanour tended to cause people to forget that…

    “Where’s the phone?” Dylan asked.

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about?!” Justin replied, lying to spite Dylan.

    “Where’s the f**king phone?!” Dylan shouted. Chris watched in shock as Dylan picked Justin up by the collar, before slamming him into the wall.

    “Dylan!” Jon called out, as he rushed into the room, gently pushing Chris to the side out of his way.

    “What’s going on?” Justin asked.

    “Justin, give me the phone.” Jon said firmly.

    “I don’t have it-” Justin began as Jon cut him off.

    “Don’t lie to me again, or I will send you straight home.” Jon interrupted, “Now give me the damn phone.”

    Justin went pale, as Dylan let go of him, and stood aside, whilst Justin made his way to the window, which had a fake pot plant sitting underneath it. Pulling the plastic plant out of the pot, he pulled out a phone, handing it to Jon.

    “We will talk about this later…” Jon said, as he left the room, Dylan following behind him. When they were gone, Justin spoke up.

    “What was that about?” Justin asked, looking at the now destroyed door frame, that Dylan had ripped the lock from.

    “I have no clue…”

    Jon and Dylan returned downstairs, where Abbee remained in the lounge, sobbing as Charlotte hugged her. Jon handed her the phone, which she booted up, to find numerous missed calls from relatives, mostly her brother Tyler.

    “Let’s get you to the house.” Jon said quietly to Abbee, who nodded, though didn’t cease her weeping.

    She got up, and followed Jon towards the front door, as Charlotte tried to follow.

    “Is there anything I can do to help?” Charlotte asked.

    “Just keep the others off her back for now.” Jon said, “Last thing she needs is Justin trying to apologize or something…”

    Charlotte, nodded, as Jon left the building behind Abbee. As the door closed, she heard footsteps behind her, as Chris and Justin descended the staircase.

    “What the hell is going on?” Chris asked.

    “Abbee just found out her Dad died…” Charlotte said, “She found out watching the news, because she didn’t have her phone.”

    Justin went white, as Chris put all the pieces together.

    “You f**king idiot!” Chris said, shoving Justin, “Why did you keep taking her phone?”

    “I-” Justin stammered, realizing he had screwed up, speechless at what had happened.

    “You said it’s because she is always on her phone, didn’t you?” Charlotte asked, “You know why she seemed so attached to it?”

    Justin didn’t respond, so Charlotte continued.

    “Because her mum died when she was a kid, and that’s where she has all the old photos and videos of her.” Charlotte said coldly, “Instead of understanding why, you made fun of her, and took it, so not only could she not look at the last photos she has of her mum, she also couldn’t find out her Dad had died before it was on the f**king news…”

    “I’m sorry…” Justin said quietly.

    “I’d tell you to say it to her, but right now you’re probably the last person she wants to see.” Charlotte said, “So just leave her alone…”

    Charlotte went upstairs, as Chris looked at Justin, who was now shaking, realizing what had happened.

    “Hey…” Chris said, resisting the urge he had to yell at him. Whilst Justin had screwed up, between the verbal assault he had received from Jon and Charlotte, and the physical assault from Dylan, he had learnt his lesson. At least, Chris hoped so.

    “I’m a piece of s**t…” Justin said, “When she says it like that, there isn’t any arguing it. I’m a piece of s**t…”

    “Look, you screwed up pretty big.” Chris said, “But beating yourself up over it isn’t going to change anything…”

    “What do I do then…”

    The words were quiet, and it almost sounded like Justin was crying, though Chris couldn’t tell with Justin’s gaze being at the floor.

    “Give her some space, and when she is ready, apologize.” Chris said, “And don’t f**king take it again…”

    Justin was silent, as he thought over everything Charlotte had said.

    “Everyone needs a bit of space right now, so maybe give it to them. See where they’re at tomorrow.” Chris said, gesturing towards the stairs, “I’d start by figuring out how you’re going to try and make it up to her when she is ready to hear it…”

    Chris began walking up the stairs, as Justin followed not far behind. Whilst Chris wanted space himself, he also wasn’t one hundred percent sure that Dylan wouldn’t take a swing at Justin if they ran into each other in the hall…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    When Abbee and Jon arrived at the house, Alyssa quickly came over, pulling Abbee into a tight hug, before Jon took her to one of the spare rooms, where she could get in touch with her family. There were calls from various of her extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins, but most of them were from her older brother Tyler. She quickly tapped on his name as she sat on the bed in the empty room, and the phone began to dial.

    ”Abbee?” Tyler asked, choking back tears himself, “Where have you been?”

    “I’m sorry…” Abbee replied, “My phone was missing, and I only found it after I saw the news…”

    Struggling to hold it in, she began to cry again. The news just didn’t seem real, and now she was talking to Tyler about it, it became a lot more real, and much more devastating. She half expected Tyler to lecture her, but was glad when he didn’t.

    “How much do you know?” Tyler asked.

    “A drunk driver hit him and caused another car to-” Abbee replied, but couldn’t bring herself to say the words, before her sobbing became incomprehensible.

    “Yeah…” Tyler said, “He was on his way to be a guest on a talk show when it happened…”

    The pair spent the next few minutes talking before Tyler asked Abbee a question she hadn’t even thought about yet.

    “Abbee, when can you come home?” Tyler asked, “We need to plan the funeral…”

    “I- I don’t know.” Abbee said, “I will talk to Jon to organize the first flight I can back to Goldenrod.”

    “Keep me posted.” Tyler said, “I gotta go call some more people before they find out the same way you did.”

    “I will let you know as soon as I know.”

    “Abbee, do you have a good group around you?” Tyler asked, taking her a little by surprise, “I don’t want you to feel alone. Not now…”

    “I will be okay.” Abbee said, wiping tears away, “As okay as I can be. They’re pretty good here…”

    “Good.” Tyler replied, equally teary, “Keep in touch. Love you Abbee.”

    “Love you too…”

    Abbee hung up the phone, before having a quick look through her missed calls and voice messages, with one from a few hours earlier standing out to her.

    Dad.

    Realizing what this was, she quickly tapped on the voicemail notification, placing the phone up to her ear.

    ”Hey Abbee. You didn’t pick up, so I’m guessing that boy has your phone again. You really should ask Jon to scare him straight. He strikes me as the sort who would be good at something like that.

    Anyway, I just wanted to call to tell you how much I loved watching you battle on that Live-Stream today, and how well you battled. If I didn’t have a chance to see that, I think next time we trained together, you would have given me a run for my money with those tricks.

    I am loving seeing how much you’ve grown this summer, but even more than that, I loved seeing how much fun you were having today, especially when you were commentating Jon and Steven’s match. You have no idea how proud I was when Jon beat the Hoenn Champion by copying you.

    Really, I was glad to see you having so much fun today, because I was starting to worry you were only battling because I battled as well. And that may be the case. I just want you to know that whatever path you go down, I know you will do the right thing, and will be your biggest supporter in whatever you do.

    I need to get going, so I will keep it short. Give me a call back when you can.

    Love you Abbee.”


    As the message ended, Abbee broke down, feeling guilty that she missed this last chance to speak to her Dad, but thankful he had wanted to say that enough to leave it as a message, that she could listen to again.

    She sat in the dark room, listening to the message over and over, until she realized she needed to find a way home. She walked out of the room, where she heard Jon and Alyssa talking in the kitchen down the hall. Quickly trying to dry her eyes, if not just so she could have a conversation unencumbered by the tears, she made her way down the hall, where Jon and Alyssa sat at the table. She presumed Amelia had been put in her room for a nap.

    “Hey…” Alyssa said kindly, gesturing for her to come sit next to her, though unsure of what to say.

    “Abbee, we will do whatever we can to support you.” Jon said, “Just say the word.”

    “I need to get back to Johto…” she said, “I need to be with my family, and we have to plan the funeral and-”

    She tried to hold it in, before tearing up again, as Alyssa wrapped an arm around her, pulling her in close.

    “I will get us on the first plane back there…”

    Abbee was glad to hear that, though took a second to comprehend something.

    “Us?” she asked.

    “I was a little younger than you when I lost my parents.” Jon said, “Though I barely had a Dad, I was fourteen when I lost my Mum and him. And the thing that hurt the most at the time was being alone right after it happened. So if you’ll have me, I will come with you. As long as you’re okay with that…”


    Abbee thought about what he said. Whilst the thought of travelling home by herself terrified her, and she would much rather have company at least until she knows what the future looks like for her. But there was something about it she couldn’t shake.

    “But what about the others?” Abbee asked, “They still have another two weeks here…”

    “Of course you’re thinking about what’s best for them right now.” Jon said jokingly, “Steven would happily fill in for me, and I have other contacts I could call in favors for. And they would understand, even if we finished a few weeks early…”

    “No.” Abbee said firmly, “Jon, I really appreciate you offering to do that for me, but I couldn’t do that to the others, even if you insisted that things would be fine without you. They don’t say it, but half of the reason we all came was to learn under you.”

    “Abbee…” Jon began before Alyssa spoke up.

    “What if I go with you instead?” Alyssa asked, surprising both Jon and Abbee, “Amelia will be fine with Jon for a week. She will be fine won’t she?”

    “Of course.” Jon said, “But are you sure?”

    “I agree with you. Abbee shouldn’t have to go alone. And if she doesn’t want to keep you from the others, then I will go.” Alyssa said before joking slightly, “I haven’t had a week off since Amelia was born, so I see this solution as a win-win.”

    Jon smiled weakly, trying to be aware of his tone given the circumstances.

    “What about that Abbee? Would it be okay if Alyssa went with you?”

    “It would mean the world to me…” Abbee said, starting to cry again, “I just don’t want to be alone right now…”

    “Then I will find flights now.” Jon said, stepping out of the room, to grab his tablet, as Alyssa spoke up.

    “Abbee, you’re being so brave…” Alyssa said quietly as she rubbed Abbee’s shoulder, “It takes a special person to think about other people in the midst of their own troubles. Your Dad would be proud. Your mum too…”

    Abbee continued to sob in Alyssa’s arms, as Jon entered the room with a web page open.

    “It’s nearly 5pm now.” Jon explained, “I can get a flight at 1am, that will get you to Goldenrod at 9am tomorrow morning. It will take two hours on the ferry, so we have plenty of time.”

    Abbee nodded, somewhat thankful that she would spend most of the flight, ideally asleep, if the day's news didn’t keep her awake all night.

    “I will make it happen then.” Jon said, “There is a ferry leaving Mossdeep at 9:30, so we should leave here at 8:30. Is that okay?”

    “I will let Tyler know.” Abbee explained, “Then go and get packed.”

    “I’d better go pack as well. And say goodbye to Amelia…” Alyssa said.

    “Thanks Alyssa. I know it can’t be easy…”

    “Amelia will be fine, and it will do Jon good to carry a little more weight.” She said jokingly as Jon rolled his eyes.

    “Still, thank you.”

    Alyssa stepped out to pack, whilst Abbee sent Tyler a text to let her know when to expect her, before her and Jon made their way back to the lodge, to pack her belongings.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Charlotte lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling, as she considered how the day had changed. It had been about an hour since Abbee had seen the news story about her dad, and nothing seemed real. Whilst Charlotte didn’t know Abbee before this summer, and only met her dad on the first day, and didn’t even interact with him, only saw him drop her off and chat to Jon, her heart broke for Abbee.

    One of the things that surprised Charlotte about Abbee, was how nothing seemed to scare her, and instead of that causing her to be arrogant and stuck up, it instead caused her to be one of the kindest and most open-hearted people she knew. And it didn’t take long for Charlotte to realize how much of that was from the unconditional love and support her dad gave her. And now he is gone…

    Charlotte groaned, knowing that her dwelling was not going to fix anything. And whilst she was angry at Justin, and wanted to stay in her room, so she didn’t have to look at him, she hated being by herself.

    She sat up, and made her way out of the room, knocking on each of the doors around her, or in Justin’s case, the doorframe.

    “I’m going to put on a movie, if you want to watch.” she said to each, before making her way downstairs. She sat in the lounge for a few minutes, as one by one, the others in the lodge made their way down. She didn’t necessarily want to talk to everyone, but she didn’t want to be by herself.

    Before she could say anything, the door of the lodge opened, and Abbee’s quiet footsteps were heard, followed by Jon’s louder footsteps. Whilst Charlotte considered giving her space, she remembered the first time they all watched a movie together. How hard Abbee worked to make that happen, and how much she loved the fact they all did that together.

    Charlotte stood up as Chris shot her a concerned look, as if to say “Maybe she doesn’t want to see us…”. Ignoring him, Charlotte made her way to the doorway, where Abbee saw her. Charlotte gave her a hug, and was surprised when Abbee spoke first.

    “I’m going back to Johto, tonight.” Abbee said, “But I will come back as soon as I can.”

    “When do you leave?” Charlotte asked.

    “About 8:30 to get to Lilycove, then a flight to Goldenrod at 1am.” Abbee explained, “Alyssa is coming with me. I just need to pack…”

    Looking at the time, seeing Abbee had a bit of time before she had to leave, she spoke up.

    “Look, the others and I are going to watch a movie, and it’s completely okay if you aren’t feeling up for it, but we’d love for you to join us.” Charlotte said, “It’s not worth much, but you can pick what we watch.”


    Abbee was struck by the gesture, and by how well Charlotte understood her to know to ask that.

    “I’d really like that…” Abbee said, “I’ll go quickly pack what I need, and come down soon.”

    Abbee went upstairs, as Charlotte stood awkwardly in the entry room of the lodge with Jon.

    “She will always remember this, you know?” Jon said, “Nobody knows exactly how to help and be there for a friend in a time like this, but you’re nailing it.”

    “She’d be moving heaven and earth if it happened to any of us.” Charlotte replied.

    “Of course she would. Alyssa is going with her because she wouldn’t let me go.” Jon said quietly, “She was going to go alone, so the rest of your summers wouldn’t be affected by it all.”

    “Of course she was.” Charlotte replied, “You guys aren’t doing too badly yourself. With all of us.”

    Jon chuckled, as he looked up the stairs.

    “Well, she seems like she is in capable hands, so I might spend some time with Alyssa, and maybe make sure that I am ready to look after Amelia by myself for a week.” Jon said, “If she needs me, I’m only a phone call away, otherwise, I will be back at 8:30. Really, I’d have loved to join you guys for the movie. Hopefully another time.”

    Charlotte nodded, as Jon made his way out of the lodge, and she made her way to the lounge, where Chris, Justin and Dylan waited for her.

    “Abbee’s gonna join in, she just needs to pack her stuff first.” Charlotte said, “You guys wanna go get some snacks and blankets?”

    Justin nodded, quickly standing, and darting past Charlotte to the kitchen, as Dylan and Chris went upstairs to grab some blankets. By the time Abbee silently joined them in the lounge, popcorn had been made, drinks brought out, and a couple of tubs of icecream readied.

    “So what are we watching?” Chris asked, as he flicked through Netflix.

    “That one down there.” Abbee said, gesturing to an animated movie on the screen, “Bottom right. Dad and I used to watch that one together all the time when I was a kid...”

    She went a little quiet towards the end, but was thankful when Chris selected the film. Her and Charlotte sat close together on the floor up against the couch behind them, with Chris and Justin on a couch to their right, and Dylan on one of the dining room chairs he had pulled into the room on their left.

    Unlike when they watched the movie together on the fifth week, the movie was watched in relative silence, only Chris seeming confident enough to make the odd comment or joke, though Abbee appreciated it. Every so often, Charlotte would notice Abbee tremble next to her, crying silently in the dark room lit by the TV, and not knowing what else she could do for her, pulled her closer until she seemed a little better.

    The movie finished at 7:45, and one by one, the others slowly started to make their way back to their rooms. The first to leave was Chris, offering a gentle condolence to Abbee, as he left, with Justin silently following him, still not sure whether Abbee wanted to hear his own apology or not. Before too long, Dylan left as well, with a gentle touch on the shoulder, though remaining silent, as tended to be his nature, though Abbee seemed to appreciate that even more. Abbee and Charlotte sat in near silence until the sound of the door opening drew them from their silence.

    “If you’re ready, Alyssa is going to be leaving for the ferry soon.” Jon said quietly. Abbee nodded, as Jon made his way out.

    “I guess it’s time to go.” Abbee said…

    “Only for a week or two.” Charlotte said, “And if you get held up, we will just have to catch up after summer is over.”

    “Promise?”

    “Sure, but if you can, I do want you to come back if you are able.” Charlotte said jokingly.

    “I will do everything I can.” Abbee said, “Truth is, I’ll probably end up living with my brother, and he and I were never really close. Even if it's only for a week, I will try and come back for the rest of summer. You guys are like family to me…”

    Charlotte couldn’t help but be touched by Abbee’s sentiment, however felt too awkward to do anything to reciprocate it.

    “Come on, I’ll walk you up to the car…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Abbee awoke in her family’s home at nearly 3pm on Sunday afternoon. Whilst the flight left Lilycove at 1am and would take eight hours to get to Johto, she couldn’t bring herself to sleep on the plane. Alyssa, though not mentioning it, tried to stay awake with her, however before too long the sleepless nights that come with a three month old baby got the better of her, and she dozed off.

    Abbee couldn’t stop thinking about what the future held for her. She knew she was probably going to remain in her family’s home, with Tyler becoming her guardian. He was seven years older than her, and whilst he was still young, he would be able to look after Abbee. Their father was well off from his battling career so providing wouldn’t be an issue. But still, because of the large age gap, and what had happened during their childhood, they weren’t exactly close.

    Whilst Abbee struggled to remember her mum too much now, as she was only six years old when she passed away. But she knew that Tyler and their mother Emma were close, and Tyler was thirteen when Emma died.

    When she was a bit older, her dad told her how Tyler changed when their mum died. She knew that vaguely enough, as she remembered Tyler being a lot more open than he is now, but her dad confirmed how much he closed himself off to everyone else after she died, and whilst he eventually started to open up again, a piece of him was missing, and he was never the same afterwards. She didn’t blame him. She lost her mum that day too.

    Tyler left home to travel when he was sixteen, leaving school, hoping to take after their dad as a competitive battler, returning home semi-permanently when he was eighteen, and returning there when he wasn’t competing in tournaments. Because of this, Abbee felt like Tyler was more of an acquaintance than her brother. Most conversation was shallow and forced, with the most sincere they had ever had being when they spoke on the phone the day before.

    On the plane, Abbee had thought long and hard about life moving forward. She was okay living with Tyler, though felt a sense of loneliness from it, with the only person she lived with being a brother she barely knew. However she was thinking even longer term.

    Abbee didn’t know what she wanted to do when she graduated high school, whether she wanted to go to university, travel like Tyler did, or compete like their father. Her plan had been to compete until she figured out what she wanted to do, but even then, that was because competing was something she had a natural talent for, as well as training, and if she were going to get by until she had a better idea, it was her best bet. But every possibility she had considered for the future had one common element. Going back to her father’s house to tell him all about whatever adventure she had been on.

    On the plane, she realized how neither of her parents would be able to be at her wedding, or meet their grandkids. They wouldn’t even get to see her graduate high school. This weighed on her as they flew to Johto, as well as the thought of what she will do once she graduates. Whatever she does she will practically be doing alone...

    They arrived in Goldenrod a little after nine in the morning, where Tyler waited at the airport, seeming to have not slept much himself, to pick them up. He was slightly surprised to see Abbee wasn’t travelling alone, however once Alyssa explained why she came along, he was thankful that someone was willing to go to such lengths to accompany his sister.

    Alyssa mentioned finding a hotel, however Abbee and Tyler had insisted she stay with them. The house they lived in, whilst wasn’t a mansion, still wasn’t short on room, and there were multiple spare bedrooms in the house, ready for guests.

    They arrived at Abbee and Tyler’s home, and upon walking in to find the house now near empty, Abbee broke down, with Tyler eventually giving in to his own despair and joining her. Knowing Abbee hadn’t slept, and suspecting Tyler was the same, Alyssa kindly suggested they both try and get some sleep. Tyler had set the date for the funeral to be Tuesday, the day after tomorrow, and if they had to plan that, they should try and get some rest before they do this last thing for their Dad. Abbee agreed, and surprisingly, so did Tyler, who Abbee suspected felt a little more comfortable having someone older around to keep a level head. He knew just as well as Abbee did that he was probably going to become her guardian, and wasn’t ready to take on that responsibility so soon after losing their father. Abbee showed Alyssa to one of the spare rooms, before going to sleep herself. Finding herself the only person awake in this big house, Alyssa had a quick look around, finding the different rooms she may need at different times during her stay, before she got out her laptop, and began researching all they would need to plan the funeral, and local companies who could provide it. Whilst it wasn’t her place to organize it, and she understood that, she figured she’d do what she can to make it as easy for them as possible, noting different venues, florists and companies that arrange and sell caskets.

    It was mid-afternoon when Abbee emerged, seeming a bit better rested, though still understandably downcast. Alyssa got Abbee something to eat, before sharing what she had been doing which Abbee was thankful for. When Tyler emerged not too long after, he and Abbee spent some time going through what Alyssa had found. Whilst they had an appointment with a funeral company later that afternoon, she wanted to be prepared, so that the meeting didn’t go too long. Taking notes and saving webpages to a tablet, Tyler drove himself and Abbee to the appointment, leaving Alyssa in the house by herself for a few hours. She called Jon, filling him in on what had happened since they parted ways, and made sure Jon was doing okay with Amelia. Afterwards she spent a bit of time wandering the halls of the large house, admiring the photos on the wall.

    Whilst she hadn’t met Richard personally, he was a big enough name that anyone who worked in media like she did would recognize him easily. It didn’t take long to figure out which person in the photo was Abbee’s mum, partially due to how she wasn’t in the photos with Abbee and Tyler when they were older. It was a bitter sweet experience, looking at the photo frames. A record of a life well lived, but also a record of all Tyler and Abbee had now lost. As she wandered through, she made a mental note to get more photos printed and framed. She wanted Amelia to be able to look back and see her family through the years, especially if something were to happen to her, or more likely, Jon…

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Jon had put Amelia to sleep when his phone rang. He quickly put it on silent before it had a chance to wake the infant he had spent the last hour getting to have her nap, before taking the call. It was Alyssa, filling Jon in on what had happened since she left the airport the night before. As Alyssa spoke, Jon was thankful she went instead of him. As much as he had played therapist to some of the teens under his care, he really wasn’t cut out for emotionally caring for them the way Alyssa was. Between that and her ability to research and organize, she was much more help to the pair than he would have been.

    Once Jon got off the phone, he walked out into the kitchen, where Victini sat on the table.

    “How’re they going in Johto?” Victini asked.

    “As well as they can be.” Jon answered, “They couldn’t have someone better there to help them than Alyssa in this situation.”

    “I think you would have done okay yourself…” Victini laughed. Jon appreciated his cheer. Whilst it was no true trainer-pokemon partnership, he was glad to have become better acquainted with the Mythical Pokemon during the mission at Sky Pillar, and understood a lot better why Cassandra enjoyed his company so much, and also how hard it must have been for both of them to say goodbye, both originally, and after the mission.

    “You flatter me, but honestly, it’s probably better that I am here. My relationship with my parents was far from normal. Abbee and I both lost our parents, but for Abbee it was a real loss. For me…” Jon said, trying to find the most tactful way of explaining his feelings about it all, “I grew up in fear, and had a childhood nobody should have. Now, Dad is in prison, and Mum is gone, and whilst I am sad that it got to that point, I now know if it didn’t, I’d most likely be dead in a shallow grave, or just doing the same thing my dad did. Alyssa’s parents are still alive, but Alyssa can probably relate to Abbee more right now, because even though I lost both of mine, it’s not like I had a loving home to begin with, you know?”

    “I still think you should give yourself some credit.” Victini replied, “Your history might be messy, and at times, brought out a side of you that you wish it didn’t, but in the same way, you used it to help people. Remember the first time we spoke?”

    Jon chuckled.

    “How could I forget?”

    “I thought for sure that we could still fight our way out, and I could defend them if it came to blows, but really, you could have had one of your Pokemon take me out, Latios immobilize them, and hand them over to Lance.” Victini explained, “After Scizor took me down, I realized that I probably was a bit too untrained and out of practise to have stood a chance if I had to actually fight against you. But the fact is that between Latios’ scary ability to understand people more than they understand themselves, and your history, you decided to give them a chance to fix themselves up, and even if they don’t see it themselves, I think one day the world will be better for it…”

    “You think they will come back?” Jon asked.

    “I haven’t got a clue. Cassandra seems pretty set on what she is doing now, and once she puts her mind to it, God help you if you want to try and change it.” Victini said, “That being said, eighteen months ago, she was a completely different person, focusing only on winning and not being caught. Something may happen to draw them back into the world, or it may not…”

    “You’re pretty wise yourself, you know?” Jon commented, “Cassandra was lucky to have you as a partner. And whoever you end up battling alongside next will be just as lucky, if not more, now you have a bit more wisdom under your belt.”

    “Speaking of which…” Victini began.

    “You want me to introduce you to Charlotte?” Jon asked.

    “Actually, hearing the way you talked about Abbee, and the effect she has had on the others, I think she might be the one…”

    Jon’s eyes widened a little.

    “This isn’t a sympathy thing or anything, not at all! But her being the center of attention right now has made it a bit easier to understand her, and the more I do, the more certain I am that I want her to be my partner.” Victini explained, “She is a great battler, but there are more important things than that, and she has them.”

    “Honestly, I’m really glad to hear you say that.” Jon said, “Abbee is a great trainer, and has a heart of gold. You would work really well with her. But more than anything, even if she comes back here, she has a week or two here before she goes to a now near empty house, living only with a brother that she seems to barely know, she really just needs a friend, and I know you’d be able to help her through this better than nearly anyone…”

    “You think she will come back just for a week or two?” Victini asked.

    “I have no doubt.” Jon said, before there was a knock at the front door.

    “You might wanna hide…” Jon said, “At least until you’ve had a chance to meet Abbee properly.”

    Victini nodded, before moving into one of the spare rooms. Jon made his way to the door, opening it and was slightly surprised to see Justin outside.

    “Hey…” Jon said, slightly confused.

    “I’m not interrupting anything am I?” Justin asked, surprising Jon at the fact he thought to ask, “I heard you talking inside.”

    “I was just on the phone to Alyssa.” Jon lied, kicking himself for being so careless. It was on the record that he wasn’t transformed into a Pokemon, and if someone found out he could understand them, it would give away the fact that the Diamond Ladies are still alive. “But it’s fine. You want to come in?”

    Justin nodded sheepishly, as Jon moved aside to let him into the house.

    “We will talk in the kitchen.” Jon explained, “Amelia is having a nap, and that’s the best place to talk without waking her.”

    Justin nodded as the pair wandered quietly through the lounge into the kitchen. Justin sat at the table, while Jon grabbed a bottle of soft drink from the fridge as well as some glasses before sitting opposite him, pouring them both a glass.

    “So when I said we will talk about this later, I wasn’t expecting you to come search me out.” Jon said, half joking.

    “Figured the sooner I face the music, the sooner I can actually try and make things right…” Justin murmured, seeming pretty down.

    Jon was surprised at how mature Justin was being through this whole thing. The words he said weren’t with bitterness or contempt. He wasn’t like a child who does the minimum to move past an incident, without accepting any sort of responsibility themself.

    “Look, in all honesty, I think you’ve faced enough music.” Jon said, “Had you lied to me again and said you didn’t have the phone, that would have been another story. But I know how much Charlotte can tear into people, and whilst I didn’t know Dylan had it in him to knock in a door, and rough someone up like he did, I think you’ve got the message.”

    As he said that, Jon had a thought.

    “If your door was knocked in, where did you sleep last night?” Jon asked, having been too preoccupied to think of this the night before.

    “Chris let me crash in his room until I fix the door.” Justin said.

    “Have you ever done any sort of carpentry or handyman work in your life?” Jon asked, curious at Justin thinking he should be the one to fix the door.

    Justin shook his head.

    “Well how about I fix it later today and you give me a hand. We can call it square after that.” Jon said, “But I do have a question.”

    “Why take the phone?” Jon asked, “I’d hear bits and pieces about it, but it was always after Abbee got it back. I should have talked to you about it before, but I always figured if it was sorted, I didn’t need to bring up old issues.”

    “I…” Justin began, struggling to find the words, “I honestly don’t know… Looking back at a lot of the stuff I did here, even just screwing around in class when I probably shouldn’t have, I don’t even know…”

    “The more I think about it, maybe I was just trying to write myself off…”

    Jon was slightly surprised to hear that, but wanted to hear more.

    “How so?”

    “From Day 0, it was obvious that most of these guys are on a whole other level than me. Chris and Charlotte especially, Abbee as well. Dylan was inexperienced, but had potential.” Justin explained, “I guess, I knew I couldn’t compete. So maybe I thought that if I made it impossible for them to take what I do seriously outside of the battles, maybe they will write off me not measuring up as me just not caring in the battles. Why should he care if he wins or loses? He doesn’t take anything else seriously…

    “Do you care?” Jon asked.

    “Of course I do…” Justin replied, “I wouldn’t be spending my summer away from my family and friends if I didn’t. I guess I just would have rathered they think I am a clown or slack-a** than just a terrible trainer…”

    Jon let out a sigh, remembering the conversations he had with Charlotte.

    “You guys don’t realize how much better off you would all be if you all stopped worrying so much about what other people think of you…” Jon said jestingly.

    “Easier said than done…” Justin replied, equally jestful.

    “Take it from me, the best trainer you can be is yourself.” Jon said, “The more you understand yourself, where you came from and where you want to go, the more you understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and the more you can put that understanding to good use and grow. Hiding yourself and pretending to be someone else is a lot harder than it sounds, believe me, I know. That time and energy can be better spent elsewhere.”

    Justin nodded, as Jon continued.

    “So tell me about yourself?” Jon asked, “The real you, not the write-off class clown you have been the last ten weeks…”

    The question took Justin by surprise.

    “What do you want to know?”

    “What do you want to tell me?” Jon asked, “Even just one thing.”

    Justin thought for a moment. Such a broad question was difficult to answer, and having really kept to himself for so long, it was difficult.

    “I guess…” Justin began, “I actually wanna make a difference in the world, you know? When I die, I want people to remember the life I live, and be thankful for it, beyond just the close friends and family who kind of have to…”

    “Well, it’s nice to officially meet you, Justin…” Jon said, holding out his hand for Justin to awkwardly shake. It was cheesy, but Jon wanted him to understand how important what he just admitted and said was.

    “Go see if Chris will let you get changed into some older clothes in his room.” Jon explained, “I’ll order a new door, and when Amelia wakes up, we will get to work changing it over…”

    Justin nodded, thanking Jon, before Jon escorted him out the front door. As Jon returned to the kitchen, Victini emerged from his hiding place.

    “See, you really should give yourself more credit…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    Abbee stood in the house she grew up in, now crowded with relatives she hadn’t seen in years, friends of her dad that she saw as uncles and aunts, as well as colleagues from his competition days, as well as recent years in his guest appearances. She was surprised to see Cynthia, Sinnoh Champion who was overseeing affairs in Johto with Lance in prison and there being no replacement in sight. Richard had mentioned to Abbee he had been approached to become the Indigo Champion, however turned down the offer, saying he was too old, and had other reasons to say no, though after hearing what Jon had said about the role, understood a little more.

    As she sat quietly, taking a break from being pestered by people wanting to offer their condolences, she remembered the last time the house was this full, of people dressed in black. It was nearly ten years ago, at her mum’s wake. She sat in nearly the same place, on her dad’s lap, as Tyler locked himself in his room. Though she was sad at the time, she felt safe, by some miracle. But now she sat there alone. Abbee noticed a great aunt see where she was sitting and start to walk over from the other side of the room. She let out a sigh, wanting a moment’s peace, but knowing that it was probably too much to ask for.

    She heard someone come sit next to her, and turned her head to see Alyssa.

    “Want me to pretend to be offering my condolences so everyone else gives you a break?” Alyssa asked, putting her hand on Abbee’s shoulder, who nodded, appreciating the peace. They turned away so that for any onlookers, it looked like they were speaking quietly, when really, they sat in silence, Abbee just trying to savor the moment of rest from people offering condolences, asking her what she will do, and saying Tyler is too young to look after her.

    As they sat, Abbee eventually spoke up, curious to hear an answer about something she had been wondering.

    “Alyssa, if you don’t mind me asking, what happened to Jon’s parents?” Abbee asked, “He mentioned losing them at my age, but never mentioned them before… I guess I didn’t want to say something to him that may bring up bad memories…”

    “You really should think about yourself for once…” Alyssa chuckled, “I will tell you, because I think Jon would have at some point or other if he came anyway, but keep this between us.”

    Abbee leaned in.

    “Jon’s parents stayed together and married when they should have broken up, because he was going to be coming into the picture. They thought it for the best, but really, being married to someone you don’t actually love comes with a cost.” Alyssa explained, “His dad relied on alcohol, and eventually heavier stuff to get by, both emotionally and eventually financially, and was abusive towards his wife and son when he was affected by it. His mum on the other hand refused to believe there was anything wrong, and convinced herself they were a normal, happy family. Jon isn’t as worried about it now, but the reason he has gone to such effort to look the way he does the last few years is to hide the physical scars he has from this.”

    “He shouldn’t feel ashamed…” Abbee replied softly, “It’s not his fault…”

    “He wasn’t hiding them out of shame.” Alyssa explained, “When he was fourteen, his dad's mistakes caught up with them, and his mum was killed because of that, and his dad was arrested and put in jail. Jon woke up that night to the sound of gunshots, and was taken from the house by the police…”

    “S**t…” Abbee said, surprising Alyssa, as she was the one who tended to have the best language out of all the teens Jon was supervising this summer.

    “Jon was hiding his scars, and changing his appearance because he wanted to compete, but didn’t want his dad to find him if he was on TV or in the news. Legally speaking, his name isn’t Jon Drake. Jonathan is his middle name, and until he married he used a pseudonym. Then he took my name socially when we married.” Alyssa explained, “In recent years, he has moved past his fear of his dad finding him, and let these things go a bit. But after over ten years of being Jon, and everyone knowing him as Jon Drake, he is happy to be him. That’s what Jon meant when he said he lost his parents.”

    “Has Jon seen his dad since?” Abbee asked.

    “Once.” Alyssa explained, “When we found out I was pregnant, he went and visited his dad for the first time since that night. He didn’t want our child to grow up running from Jon’s past, and knew he had to face him. He wasn’t ready to forgive, but if it looked like his dad had actually made some sort of decent progress, he was ready to try and take baby steps to repairing that bridge.”

    “And had he?”

    “It’s hard to say.” Alyssa explained, “He had been sober for years at that point, granted that is easier behind bars, but Jon couldn’t tell whether he felt remorse for what he had put Jon and his mother through. They sat in near silence, and Jon wasn’t sure whether that silence was out of guilt or whether he just didn’t care…”

    Abbee looked around, realizing she had spent too long talking with Alyssa. Whilst she had lost her Dad, everyone was here because they had lost someone they cared enough about to make the trip to Goldenrod to see off.

    “I’d better go talk to a few more people.” she replied, “But thanks. I really do appreciate this. All of it.”

    Alyssa nodded, lifting her hand off Abbee’s shoulder, before Abbee got up, and began walking into the crowd of people. It didn’t take too long before she was approached by someone, a man a few years older than her dad, who seemed slightly familiar, however she couldn’t place a name.

    “Abbee, I’m so sorry for your loss.” The man said, holding out his hand, “We didn’t find the time to catch up in recent years, but I never considered a client as much of a friend as I did Richard…”

    “Thank you.” Abbee replied politely, “Forgive my rudeness, but I am not sure we’ve met?”

    “We have, but it was when your dad was still competing about ten years ago. You’ve grown a lot since then.” the man replied, “Thomas Hill. I was your fathers agent when he was competing full time.”

    Abbee recognized the name, realizing where she knew him. He was right, Thomas had come around for dinner on a regular basis, even though he was hired by her Dad to help with booking tournaments and PR events.

    “Yeah, I remember now.” Abbee said, “I’m sure he’d be glad to know you thought so highly of your friendship.”

    Thomas smiled.

    “You’ve inherited his way with words.” Thomas said with a chuckle, “You’d do just as well as he did if you decided to compete professionally. One of the last things he said to me was to watch the live stream you were battling in, and I was impressed. Do you think you will follow in his footsteps?”

    “I don’t know to be honest.” Abbee replied, slightly surprised at how much she was actually enjoying this conversation, “It’s an option, and I do love battling, but I am not sure what my own calling is, and whether it is battling like he did, or something else entirely…”

    “That is completely fair, and I think he’d want you to find your own path.” Thomas said, “I can dream though, the daughter of Richard Strauss taking the world by storm. I completely understand his reasons for deciding to retire, but the battling world was different without him in it.”

    Before Abbee could ask what he meant, Thomas checked his watch.

    “I’m sorry, I am unable to stay any longer.” Thomas said, before removing a business card from his pocket and handing it to her, “If you did want to hear more about your dad, or are considering following in his footsteps, feel free to call anytime.”

    Abbee thanked him as he left, though with more questions than answers. She was only five years old when he retired. He had children somewhat late in life, however still retired quite young, and Abbee had never really known quite why. She was too young to understand that at the time, and by the time she was old enough, the thought never crossed her mind.

    Before she could dwell on it too long, the persistent great aunt that Alyssa bought Abbee time from came over, and she was back into condolence accepting mode…

    It was hours before the last guest said their farewells, offered their final condolences, and left the house, leaving Abbee exhausted. As she looked around the empty room, there was food left on platters, paper plates overflowing from rubbish bins, and empty glasses on tables. She began tidying up, gathering the empty glasses to take to the kitchen, where Alyssa had been on the phone to Jon. She had hung up as Abbee walked in, noticing the glasses she carried.

    “Let me handle the clean-up.” Alyssa said, as she opened the dishwasher.

    “No, Tyler and I can help…” Abbee began.

    “You have been drilled by relatives and condolence-givers all day, and I’ll bet you are both exhausted. Meanwhile I have just caught up with Cynthia most of the afternoon, and answered the whole Where do you fit in to this question from a few nosy people a couple of times.” Alyssa said, before lowering her voice, “You said yourself you and Tyler aren’t close. Take this opportunity to see if you can understand each other a bit better…”

    Whilst Abbee felt terrible having Alyssa at their house as a guest, with her doing more work than if she were at home, she raised a valid point. The next three years, Tyler was her guardian, and the only immediate family she had. Three years can be a long time.

    “Thanks…” Abbee said, “For everything. You’ve been a saint…”

    “It’s my pleasure.”

    Abbee left, finding Tyler laying down on a couch in the lounge. As he saw her approaching, he sat up slightly, making space for her to sit down. She half crashed onto the couch, equally exhausted.

    “That’s the funeral over…” Tyler said, neither in a positive nor negative implication.

    “That it is…” Abbee asked, “Did they harass you as much as they harassed me?”

    “Define harass…” Tyler explained, “I stopped counting how many people offered for us to live with them, because we are apparently too young to be living alone.”

    “Anyone worth taking the offer up on?” Abbee asked sarcastically.

    “Mostly relatives that I didn’t know existed, or would probably leave us in this position again by the time you’re eighteen…” Tyler retorted bitterly, before realizing the joke lacked a little tact. “Sorry, I shouldn’t say that…”

    “You aren’t exactly wrong.” Abbee replied, “Us living in this empty house with nobody else isn’t ideal, but I’d prefer that to living with a stranger…”

    “Yeah…” Tyler said quietly. There was an awkward silence, as Abbee tried to think of what to say, before settling for the simplest alternative.

    “I’m sorry…” she said quietly.

    “What for?” Tyler asked, somewhat confused.

    “You’re a battler like Dad, in his prime, yet now you’re stuck looking after your little sister…” Abbee explained, “You won’t be able to compete in other regions, or even too far from here in Johto. You’re giving up the next three years of your career to look after me…”

    Tyler sat up properly, thinking over what Abbee had just said. It was all stuff he had avoided thinking about. Whilst he was nowhere near his father’s level of fame, he was still an aspiring battler, making a name for himself, and Abbee was right. He will be heavily restricted the next three years. Maybe once she is seventeen or so, and it’s okay to leave her alone for a weekend, however any earlier, or any longer than that, and it will cause people to question whether he is fit to be her guardian, and if she is being neglected. She might end up having to live somewhere else. And three years is a long time to be out of the spotlight.

    “I won’t try and tell you you’re wrong. You’re too smart for that.” Tyler said quietly, “My life is going to be drastically different while you’re still a minor. Maybe things will be normal for me battling-wise once you’re an adult, but I don’t know, and it does scare me a bit…”

    Abbee tensed hearing that. She wasn’t sure how she felt.

    “But, I’m not looking at it that way.” Tyler said, surprising her slightly.

    “I know that I haven’t been around for you much. I took it pretty hard when Mum died, and being here, constantly being reminded of what we lost, just hurt. So the first chance I took, I left, and tried to run away from this place.” Tyler said, “And now, you’re growing up, and I realized as I watched the live-stream with Dad, I didn’t even know which Pokemon you had, or just how good you were a battler. As your brother, I knew almost nothing about you…”

    Abbee was shocked to hear Tyler say this. He had been closed off to everyone since their Mum died, and this sort of openness was unusual, and probably very difficult for him.

    “I’m looking at the next three years as a chance to make up for lost time, and get to know my sister the way I should.” Tyler finished, “She’s all I have now, and my career can wait for that…”

    Abbee was surprised at herself when she found herself hugging him. Whilst she still wasn’t looking forward to the pair of them living alone in this big empty house, she did feel a lot better about it.

    “What about you?” Tyler asked, “You still have high-school, but what will you do when you graduate?”

    “I honestly don’t know…” Abbee replied, “It’s been on my mind a lot since Dad died, now knowing he won’t be there for whatever I do…”

    “Well, based on that stream, I think if you decided to compete professionally, you would be pretty successful.”

    As Tyler said this, Abbee remembered the conversation with Thomas she had earlier that day.

    “Tyler, I was wondering something…” Abbee asked, leaving her brother slightly confused at what would follow. “Do you know why Dad retired? I just remember that he did, but didn’t really understand why. I never thought to ask until someone mentioned it today…”

    “Thomas?” Tyler asked, “I saw the pair of you talking. Dad really liked him.”

    “Yeah.”

    Tyler went quiet, as he thought about how best to say it.

    “He did it for us…” Tyler replied.

    “Mum got sick ages before they told us. They only told us when they realized it was terminal.” Tyler explained, “I only found this out in the last few years.”

    “Remember how when Dad left Johto to go compete, it was just Mum, and she’d let us stay up late, and have extra dessert?” Tyler asked.

    “Yeah, I remember that.” Abbee replied, “We loved Dad, but also liked it when he’d go away for a night or two because of that…”

    “Dad knew he couldn’t compete and leave his sick wife to look after their kids. And he also knew that if Mum didn’t make it, he wouldn’t have a say in how he stepped out of the spotlight.” Tyler explained, “He retired as soon as they found out Mum was sick, so he could take over essentially raising us…”

    Abbee felt her heart sink hearing this. She knew their father loved battling, and when the pair of them both began battling themselves, he was ecstatic. And now she realized that the reason he stopped doing something he loved as much as he did was for their sake. Suddenly all of the enthusiasm and encouragement for her own battling started to make sense. Even the fact he turned down the position of Indigo Champion after Lance was arrested.

    Abbee began to tear up with the revelation. Their father was near the top by the time he retired, but he had a lot higher he could have flown.

    “I didn’t know…” Abbee wept, “He gave up his dreams for us…”

    Tyler pulled her in close, looking directly forward, to try and hide the tears he was shedding from Abbee.

    “I know. But now that things have changed, I think I understand what he was thinking a bit better.” Tyler said quietly, “He didn’t see it as giving up his dreams. He was getting the time and opportunities to spend his years with his kids…”

    Abbee thought to herself about what she had just heard.

    “Everyone keeps asking me if I will follow in his footsteps, and compete like he did. And until now, I didn’t know…” Abbee explained, wiping the tears from her face, “But now, I want to carry on his legacy. His career ended for our sake. So I want to make sure that everyone knows who he is, and what sort of man he was…”

    “He’d never admit it, because he wanted you to do what you wanted with life…” Tyler began, “But I think he’d just about cry tears of joy if he heard you say that…”

    “It must run in the family.” Abbee said through tears of her own, not even seconds after drying her eyes…

    “So what are you doing now?”

    Abbee went quiet. She hadn’t spoken to Tyler about going back to Hoenn for the rest of the summer.

    “Truth is, I was thinking of finishing my summer at the Eon Academy.” Abbee explained, “I left very suddenly, and don’t want this to potentially be the last time I see them.”

    Tyler thought over what Abbee said.

    “I think you should go back as well.”

    “Wait, really?” Abbee asked, shocked, “You said yourself how much being here after Mum died hurt, and now Dad is gone too, do you really want me to leave you alone here?”

    “I won’t stay here until you come back.” Tyler explained, “Dad retired before he really had to so he could leave on his own terms. If I am going to take a hiatus myself, the rest of the summer should be enough for me to do that on my terms.”

    “Besides, when we watched the stream, Dad kept saying how much fun you were having, and right now, I think being there would do you good.” Tyler said, “I don’t know Jon myself, but Alyssa has been a god-send the last few days, and I trust her to make sure you’re doing okay until you come home. Besides, a bit of time for me to figure out how exactly to do this whole guardian thing before I actually gotta do it would help a lot…”

    “Alyssa is a saint…” Abbee said chuckling, “I see why Jon is smitten with her.”

    Tyler laughed, as Abbee soon joined in. Alyssa could hear the conversation and laughter from the next room over as she tidied, and thanked whatever God happened to be watching them, that these two could find reason to smile given their circumstances…

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  9. #28
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Episode 11: Secrets (Part 1)
    Spoiler:

    “No matter how helpful they may try and be, and how nice they may try and act, insurance companies aren’t your friend…” Jon said, “They see you as a Money-Miltank, to be milked for all it’s worth. At the end of the day, they would go from sweet talking you to throwing you under a train if it earned them a buck…”

    It was Friday of the tenth week of the summer, with Jon teaching the last class for the day, Trainer Career, discussing Pokemon Liability Insurance, and the terms and processes of it that they would need to be aware of. Currently they were all minors, which the League covered insurance for. But if they competed as adults, then they would need their own policy, and Jon was making it abundantly clear that if they didn’t know what they were doing, the insurance companies would prey on that naivety, and get whatever they could out of them.

    Abbee and Alyssa had only returned from Johto yesterday. Whilst they had originally been planning to be gone a week, once the funeral was over, Abbee realized that it would do Tyler well to have as much time as he could to sort things out before being responsible for her, and she was hardly going to complain. She was going to wait a week to make sure he was doing okay, when really, she felt more comfortable at the Academy. Jon had given her the option of doing classes and training only when she wanted, however she was determined to see it all through. If she wanted to compete and do her father’s legacy proud, she would need to make the most of every opportunity. Whilst she was always somewhat studious, she was never as focused as Charlotte, at least until now. It concerned Jon a little at first, as if she was trying to block out what had happened, but after hearing her reasoning, trusted she would be okay, and let her do what she saw best.

    “By the way, Dylan, as of next week, you will need your own policy, since the League won’t cover you any more. As big scumbags as I think the insurance companies are, if your Pokemon accidentally hurts someone and is uninsured, you will be in for a big shock financially, and we kind of need them…” Jon explained, “Come by the house tomorrow morning, and I will help find a decent policy.”

    Dylan nodded, though wishing Jon had said this privately, as the rest of the class put two and two together.

    “Wait, you’re turning 18 this weekend?” Chris asked, “How come you never mentioned this before?”

    “I don’t really care too much about my birthday…” Dylan said, not making eye-contact. He was still a little unused to Chris being this friendly with him. Really, Chris was still in awe at the fact that Dylan knocked a door out of its frame with a single bash, and had a newfound appreciation for him since. Justin on the other hand was terrified to make eye contact with Dylan, and Charlotte found this odd dynamic between the three of them to be hilarious.

    “Yeah, but we do!” Chris said.

    “Since when?” Charlotte asked with a laugh, “What’s Dylan’s surname?”

    Chris went white.

    “Uhhh…” he began, “I know it’s a guitar brand… Fender?”

    “Dylan Fender…” Abbee said with a mixture of disbelief and amusement.

    “Fender?” Jon asked, disappointed, “Really? It’s Squier…”

    “Hey, Squier is owned by Fender, so I was close!” Chris reasoned, “Anyway, an excuse to have a party is an excuse to have a party.”

    “Wow, I feel so loved…” Dylan retorted, surprising everyone. Whilst banter between the five students, as well as Jon, was not unusual, Dylan getting involved like that was definitely new.

    “Well look, now that I know your birthday is coming up, I kinda want to do something as well…” Abbee said, “We can’t just do nothing. When is it?”

    “Sunday…” Dylan replied, though not sounding overly enthusiastic.

    “Well how about we do something tomorrow night? Low key.” Abbee asked, “A meal you like, a cake, and a movie? We don’t even have to call it a birthday party…”

    “Yeah, it can be a funeral for your childhood!” Chris chimed in, realizing what he had just said. Abbee had only just returned from her Dad’s funeral the day before...

    “Idiot…” Charlotte muttered.

    “Sorry, I didn’t think that through…” Chris stammered.

    “No, it’s okay, seriously…” Abbee said, “I’m heartbroken he is gone, but also, I know he’d love the idea of me and my friends throwing a funeral for someone’s childhood because they aren’t a fan of birthdays. He’d like to see us having some fun.”

    There was an awkward silence, as the rest of the group kind of thought the idea of a funeral for Dylan’s childhood was hilarious, but didn’t want to be the one to say it, even if Abbee said she was okay with it.

    “So show up at the lodge tomorrow evening dressed in black?” Abbee asked, “Someone can write a eulogy for Dylan’s childhood? Actually…”

    Abbee got her phone out, and before anyone could ask what she was doing, or Dylan could object, she snapped a photo of him.

    “Last photo as a child…” Abbee explained, “I will get it printed in black and white, and put it on the table…”

    “You cool with all this Dylan?” Jon asked. Whilst he liked the enthusiasm the students brought to the table about this, Dylan brought the least, save Justin who was silent, still brooding over the events of the week before.

    “Yeah, why not…” Dylan said with a shrug, “It will be fun…”

    The clock reached noon, as Jon sent all of them out for lunch, though asked Abbee to hang back for a second. Her and the others thought nothing of it, and figured it was to make sure she was doing okay. When the others were gone, she approached Jon at the front of the room.

    “What’s up?” Abbee asked, curious. She figured Jon was going to ask how she was going.

    “If you don’t have anything specific planned for lunch, I have a house guest who has been dying to meet you since the live-stream…” Jon said.

    Abbee looked at him somewhat confused. Neither Jon nor Alyssa had mentioned having a guest there, and she would have noticed if there was another person in the house when she was there after finding out about her dad. That was assuming the guest has been there since. The fact he referred to this person as a house guest seemed to imply they had been there a while…

    “Okay, yeah I’m free. Who is it?”

    Jon grinned slightly before gesturing to the door.

    “Okay, keep your secrets…” Abbee retorted jokingly, as she made her way out the door.

    Abbee left the room, as Jon followed before he led her to he and Alyssa’s cottage. They walked into the empty house through the back door, as Alyssa and Amelia were visiting a friend in the city, and Abbee looked around the empty cottage, shooting Jon a puzzled look, as she heard the sound of the TV.

    “In the lounge…”

    Abbee looked towards the doorway, slowly making her way in. She looked around, noticing nobody sitting on the couch, before quickly noticing a small Pokemon on the coffee table, who looked at her curiously. It took her a second to recognize it.

    “Wait, is that-” she began to ask Jon who followed her into the room.

    “The one and only…” said a rather chipper voice in her head, which she understood to be the Pokemon’s.

    “Victini?” She asked, though certain she knew the answer. Whilst Legendary and Mythical Pokemon tended to have a lot of secrecy about them, some were much more well known due to being with trainers in the spotlight. After Jon’s win, Latios was one, as was Avery Miller’s Shaymin. And Victini had probably spent the most time in the spotlight in recent years. Victini had been partnered with Cassandra Silvers, until her death last year.

    “I’ve told you before, that after the Diamond Ladies handed themselves in, and started making amends for what they’d done, that I became somewhat decent friends with them, surprisingly enough, seeing as Latios and I played a pretty big part in exposing them.” Jon explained, “Victini here was partnered with Cassandra, until-”

    Jon went quiet, realizing he had spoken a bit too quickly.

    “Well, Cassandra isn’t around anymore, and had parted ways with Victini before that fire.” Jon said, “I became friends with Victini towards the end of the S.S. Wishmaker incident, and have been in touch with him somewhat since.”

    “Victini is the one who wanted to meet me?” Abbee asked. She had a hunch about why, but didn’t want to get too caught up in that…

    “I spent the last year travelling the world, seeing the sights, and living as a, for lack of better words, wild Pokemon. And it was great.” Victini explained, “But that being said, it wasn’t the same. I really enjoyed battling alongside Cass, even if at the time it wasn’t honest, and the few battles she and I had after she came clean were the best I ever had. But that can’t happen again…”

    Abbee felt a twinge of sympathy for Victini, especially having lost someone close to her very recently.

    “Still, even if I can’t battle with Cass, I want to keep battling, and not just to stop annoying trainers trying to capture me. I want to battle for real, and if I want to do that, I need a good trainer.” Victini explained, “I knew Jon was teaching some people, and figured anyone he was teaching would be a good candidate. That and it might give me another crack at that Scizor…”

    Jon grinned, as Victini was sharing the thoughts with both. Whilst he did have faith in his Pokemon, even he was surprised when Scizor managed to beat Victini despite a massive disadvantage. And obviously it has driven Victini to train hard.

    “Victini showed up after I told you all about the live-stream, so I invited him to come watch.” Jon explained.

    “Wait, you were there?” Abbee asked.

    “In the rafters. Your Ariados almost made me mess myself…” Victini laughed, as Abbee chuckled, “You were strong. Not the strongest, but still strong, and you looked like the sort to enjoy the ride more than anything else.”

    Abbee saw flashes of Victini’s memory, watching her and Chris from above commentating Jon’s match with Steven.

    “So I asked Jon if he could introduce me to you.” Victini concluded, “To see if you wanted to team up…”

    Her hunch was right. Abbee was flabbergasted. The Mythical Pokemon Victini, choosing her to be her partner.

    “I’d love that.” Abbee replied, “But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. I’d hate for you to jump straight into a Pokeball, then realize I’m not the trainer you thought I was. What if we call the rest of the summer a trial run of sorts, for your sake more than mine, and if you’re happy, I’ll catch you and make it official?”

    Truth was that Abbee wanted to seal the deal right now, however knew that wasn’t a good idea. Jon and Latios made such a great team because of how close they were and how well they understood each other. But if that bond wasn’t there, then they would be a detriment to one another, and Latios, being bound by a Pokeball, would be stuck. She didn’t want to risk doing that to Victini.

    “Are you sure?” Victini asked “I had to dodge six trainers pelting Pokeballs at me between Unova and here…”

    “I’m sure. Regardless of what she did, following Cassandra Silvers as a partner to you is a big ask.” Abbee answered, “I want you to have time to know for sure you’re doing the right thing choosing me…”

    “In that case, sure.” Victini replied, “I’ll battle with you unofficially for the rest of the summer, and if that works out, you can catch me after.”

    “Deal…”


    “You’d better introduce Victini to the others quickly.” Jon said, “Victini likes to wander, and I imagine if Chris and Charlotte didn’t know any better and saw him, they would be tackling each other to be the first to catch him…”

    Abbee chuckled, as she reached down, putting her hand on the coffee table, gently nodding towards her shoulder for Victini to climb up. After a second, the mythical Pokemon obliged, finding a comfortable perch on Abbee’s shoulder, before she left.

    As they walked back to the lodge, Abbee filled the time, asking Victini questions about his past battles, and life travelling in the last year or so, with him answering using telepathy. This was all new to Abbee, not having a psychic type Pokemon, or any Pokemon with telepathy. She had occasionally had something said by Latios, but that was rare at best.

    Charlotte was in the dining room, eating a bowl of instant noodles she had made for lunch, when she heard Abbee’s voice, however no responses.

    “Is she on the phone?” Charlotte thought to herself, hoping her friend hadn’t lost the plot. She heard the door open, as Abbee stepped in. As the door closed, Abbee called out.

    “Hey guys, come here for a second! I have someone I want you to meet…” Abbee called out. Now Charlotte was more worried Abbee had lost it and this might be an imaginary friend…

    Chris and Justin had been watching TV in the lounge on the opposite side of the entrance, and Dylan had been in the kitchen toasting a sandwich at the time, poking his head into the dining room, and giving Charlotte a puzzled look. He eventually went into the entryway as Charlotte heard Chris speak.

    “Wait, is that-”

    Charlotte heard the shock in his voice, and stood up herself. As she made her way to the doorway between the entrance and the dining room, she understood why. Dylan was somehow even more silent, and even Justin was talking to Abbee.

    “Wait, how?” he asked, before he remembered how uncomfortable it was to talk to her after the phone incident.

    “He was looking for a new trainer, and I guess I impressed him…” Abbee said slightly bashful. Charlotte however understood. Even though Abbee was tied for second to her, they were two very different people.

    Victini had been partnered with Cassandra Silvers, and whilst she had a reputation for being a stick in the mud when the cameras weren’t on her before being caught, Victini always seemed to be having a party for one, at least. Charlotte could see already the pair would be a good fit.

    “Wait, he was watching the live stream?” Chris asked, “Where did he get internet?”

    “No internet. For some reason the companies won’t let a Pokemon sign up for cable…” Victini replied telepathically, projecting his thoughts as Abbee burst into laughter at the quip, ”I was in the rafters. Almost got knocked off them by Abbee’s Ariados…”

    “You were that close?” Chris asked, as it dawned on him that he could have potentially impressed Victini enough to have wound up as his partner…

    Victini nodded as Charlotte chimed in.

    “I think you two will make a great team.” Charlotte interjected, “Next time I don’t know I will be so lucky…”

    Chris and Justin went back to watching their TV show, as Abbee followed Dylan and Charlotte into the dining room.

    “Do you want something to eat?” Abbee asked Victini.

    “Sure, anything but chocolate.” Victini replied, “I felt like some the first day I arrived and asked Jon, and he’s fed me nothing but chocolate since. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I only have it as a treat…”

    Abbee laughed, as she made herself and Victini a sandwich each, whilst Dylan waited for his to toast. His phone sat on the bench, where he had made his own lunch before, and began to buzz. Abbee passed the vibrating phone to him without a word, noticing the caller ID.

    “Bill.”

    Dylan looked at the phone, before declining the call, pocketing the phone.

    “Everything okay?” Abbee asked, curious. Dylan never talked about life outside of the Academy, so she knew little about him, other than he lived and worked part time in Mossdeep.

    “Yeah, I’ll call back later. Just want to eat.” Dylan explained.

    “Something important?”

    “Just my stepdad.”

    Abbee finished her sandwich, as Dylan pulled his own out from the sandwich toaster, and the pair joined Charlotte at the table to eat. As they sat and Abbee cut Victini’s sandwich up into smaller pieces, Dylan’s phone vibrated again, this time sitting on the table. He glanced at the screen before putting it in his pocket again.

    “It’s his stepdad again. Something about coming home for a night for his birthday?” Victini said to Abbee telepathically, “He moved it before I could see the rest…”

    “You probably shouldn’t read other peoples messages…” Abbee thought, unsure if Victini would hear it.

    “Sorry, it was just there…” Victini replied.

    “Then why tell me?” Abbee said with her thoughts.

    ”Because I can tune in to your thoughts. I know you wanted to know what’s going on…”

    Abbee was slightly ashamed that Victini was right. She did want to know.

    “So are you doing anything with your family for your birthday?” Abbee asked, trying to sound casual, “They’re here in Mossdeep aren’t they?”

    “I’ll just wait until I get home. Summer is nearly over anyway.” Dylan explained.

    “Surely Jon would let you go home for a night?” Charlotte replied.

    “It’s not a big deal. I’ve been going to summer camps the last few years, so I haven’t been home for my birthday in ages.” Dylan said, “They’re fine with it…”

    “But this is your eighteenth!” Abbee pleaded, “The funeral for your childhood. Surely your family will want to see you for that?”

    “You saw the message?” Dylan asked. Abbee kicked herself for not being subtle enough.

    “Sorry, it was a badly timed glance.” Abbee lied, not wanting to throw her new partner under the bus, “I guess I just feel a little bad for them that they never get to see you for your birthday, and now for the big one, they also miss out, to a bunch of people you’ve known for like three months…”

    “I don’t wanna skip what we have planned for tomorrow.” Dylan reasoned.

    “Then don’t. Your birthday is Sunday, right?” Charlotte asked, “It takes half an hour to drive from one side of the island to the other. What if you went home Sunday night, and got back here Monday morning before classes?”

    “That could work!” Abbee said, knowing the biggest reason for being so insistent was the fact she would do anything to have her Dad there for her next birthday, still coming to terms with the fact he wouldn’t be…

    Dylan looked at the two girls, before sighing.

    “Fine, I’ll chat to Jon during training about spending Sunday night back home.” Dylan said.

    “They’ll love you for it.” Abbee replied, as Dylan rolled his eyes slightly.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    It was 5:45pm when Abbee found herself silently decorating the dining room with Justin and Victini, only speaking verbally when the shared task required it, and chatting to Victini in her mind. Charlotte had gone with Jon to pick up dinner, which Dylan had requested be dumplings from the restaurant that he went to with Abbee and Charlotte the week before, telling them he had never had them before then, and they were now his favorite, slightly surprising the pair of them. Even though the event itself wasn’t a surprise, they didn’t want Dylan seeing what they’d done with the room before it was ready, so Chris had taken the bullet by asking Dylan while he was outside what sort of diet he should put his Vulpix on, knowing that whilst he didn’t talk much, these days if you got him talking about something to do with raising Pokemon, he could talk for hours…

    This left Abbee and Justin as decorators for the party venue. Every bit of decoration was black, and on the table, in an ornate frame was the photo Abbee had taken of Dylan with a black-and-white filter over it. Printed was Dylan’s Childhood with his date of birth, next to today’s date.

    “Can you please pass the end of the banner?” Justin asked awkwardly, as he stood on a step ladder, having just put up a removable hook on the wall. Abbee walked over, bringing the end of the banner she and Charlotte had made that morning. She passed it to Justin, who took it, and lifted it up, attempting to loop the string on the corner over the hook. As he was about to place it down, it slipped out of his fingers, dropping to the ground, as Abbee picked it up again, handing it to him.

    “I’m sorry…” he said quietly, as he accepted the banner.

    “Don’t worry.” Abbee said casually, as she went to get the other end of it.

    “Not that.” Justin replied, “I mean, yes that, but…”

    There was an awkward silence, as both teenagers tried to think of what to say.

    “I’m sorry for taking your phone all the time.” Justin said, “And I’m sorry that you had to find out about your dad the way you did because I was being an idiot…”

    Abbee sighed.

    “Is this why you’ve been so weird the last week?” Abbee asked, “I was pretty sure this was it, but I wanted to be certain.”

    “Yeah…”

    Abbee pulled out her phone, opening up the voicemail app, as she spoke.

    “Not long before he died, he tried calling me to congratulate me about the live-stream, but I didn’t have my phone, so I missed it.” Abbee explained, as Justin felt his stomach sink hearing those words.

    “So he left a message.” Abbee said, tapping the button that caused it to start playing. The pair listened to it, Abbee losing count of how many times she had heard it, and Justin surprised Abbee was sharing with him something so personal.

    “I’m sorry.” Justin said, “If I wasn’t such a f**king idiot, you’d have had that final conversation with him yourself.”

    “You’re right.” Abbee replied, quickly realizing the miscommunication she invited, “About the conversation, not calling you an idiot.”

    “And as much as I’d have loved that, eventually my memory of it would become hazy, and I’d forget. At least now, even though he is gone, I can hear him talk to me whenever I want, telling me this, and encouraging me to do the best I can.”

    “I’m not saying the whole phone thing wasn’t childish and silly.” Abbee said, “I did miss out on the last conversation I could have had with my father. But I got this as well, so it sort of balances out. Don’t beat yourself up too much over it. Just enough that you won’t do that again.”

    “Dylan already took care of that…” Justin joked, as Abbee chuckled.

    “Yeah, I didn’t pick him to go knocking in doors, but that being said, he doesn’t share much about himself.”

    Abbee grabbed the other step ladder, and began hanging the other end of the banner.

    “But thanks for apologizing. Really.” Abbee said, “I was worried the others were going to be walking on eggshells around us forever…”

    “Around you maybe…” Justin retorted, “They’d just tell me exactly what they think.”

    “Maybe that’s a good thing for both of us.”

    “Yeah, maybe.”

    It wasn’t long before Charlotte and Jon arrived back with the dumplings, as well as Alyssa, Amelia and even the Champion, Steven, and Justin went to signal to Chris that Dylan could come into the lodge.

    When they were about to enter, Abbee started playing through a bluetooth speaker the most cliche funeral music she could find. Once Dylan had taken it all in, Chris made his way to what would be a stage.

    “Dylan’s childhood began nearly eighteen years ago, and sadly, today we must say our goodbyes.” Chris said dramatically, gesturing to the photo on the table.

    “As Dylan’s friend, I have taken it upon myself to prepare the eulogy for his childhood.” Chris continued, “Unfortunately, I have only known Dylan a short while, and in that time he has been harder to get information out of than a p**sed off girlfriend.”

    “Because you’d know all about that?” Jon asked, causing Charlotte to snort with laughter, and Chris to struggle to keep this persona going, and not laugh himself. Alyssa gave him a gentle slap on the upper arm.

    “However, in that time, Dylan has shown himself to be a genius in raising Pokemon, impressing the Hoenn Champion himself, a fast learner, battling at a near competitive level with less than three months of training, a loyal friend, and a human battering ram, knocking a door out of its frame with a single hit…” Chris said, as the others laughed and cheered. Dylan was surprised, unaware he had impressed Chris this much, or that Chris had matured as much as he did, in his own way.

    “Even though we are sadly saying goodbye to Dylan’s childhood, which we knew so little of, we hope these traits will live on into adult life.” Chris finished, as the others, Dylan included, applauded his performance. The group soon descended on the table, piling their plates high with dumplings, before finding seats. Chris was about to begin devouring the large plate in front of him when Jon spoke up.

    “Before we eat, anything you’d like to say Dylan?” Jon asked, “I’d wait until after dinner, but seeing some of these plates, I think there will be food comas to contend with…”

    Dylan was quiet at the best of times, and really quiet the rest of them, so he was unprepared for this.

    “Thanks everyone, for everything…” He said, slightly louder than usual, but still quiet by Chris’ standards, “This has been the best summer I’ve ever had, and I wish it didn’t have to end.”

    The others cheered, whilst Abbee put her arm around Dylan, pulling him into a side-hug, and Chris began digging into his food. Jon took Amelia to make it a bit easier for Alyssa to eat, whilst she chatted to Steven who sat next to her.

    When the table was empty of dinner, and most of the attendees were already full, Abbee retrieved the cake she and Chris had made the night before after everyone else went to sleep from the fridge, surprising Abbee that Chris enjoyed baking, and having kept it covered so Dylan wouldn’t see it. The cake itself was black, like the rest of the decorations, in the shape of a tombstone. Steven burst into laughter seeing it, as Abbee found some candles.

    ”This has gotta be worth something.” Victini said, projecting the message to everyone there, as a flame appeared at the tip of his finger, lighting the candles, “I’m no Jirachi, but surely a wish made over Mythical Pokemon flame candles has gotta be worth something?”

    The group then sang Happy Funeral to Dylan, Jon surprised at how genuinely excited about the whole funeral schtick Abbee was, before Dylan blew out the candles.

    As he blew them out, one thought was on his mind.

    I wish I didn’t have to leave…

    Once cake was served, Chris and Justin helped Jon and Steven bring in some couches from Jon and Alyssa’s house, which was admirable in and of itself, because whilst the walk was short, it was still too long to lug furniture between. As they got back, Charlotte had a thought…

    “You do realize that between the eight of us, we have what, seven or eight Psychic types who could lift the couches with their minds…”

    Jon went pale as Steven burst into laughter.

    “I really hope the media don’t hear about this.” Steven joked “Hoenn Champion and High Seas Champion, trusted to keep region safe, don’t realize they can have their Metagross and Latios levitate furniture. Carries it manually a hundred meters…”

    “Hey, I just figured I wouldn’t treat my Legendary Pokemon like a beast of burden…”

    “He’s lying…” Victini said to everyone, having read Jon’s thoughts.

    Dylan chose a movie, slightly surprising everyone when it was an adrenaline filled street racing movie, filled with fast cars and ridiculous stunts. What surprised them even more was how keen Steven was for it.

    “When you’re champion, you have to keep your cards close to your chest. If it got out I enjoyed these movies, some tabloid would be publishing Steven Stone endorses illegal street racing!

    The group watched the movie, Steven and Dylan both chiming in with bits of trivia about the cars on screen, and talking about which one they’d want to have most, whilst Charlotte asked how come the police don’t just track their plates and knock in their door, Dylan-style.

    The movie finished, as Alyssa took Amelia back to the cottage, and those remaining stayed in the lounge, talking about different things, mostly battling, though Dylan and Steven continued to discuss the cars in the movie, and try to explain to the others what made them so great. Eventually Steven decided to take leave, making a point of wishing Dylan a happy birthday, and commending him on how well he has raised his own Metagross. Jon said goodnight as well, walking Steven to his car by the house, as the others stayed up. Dylan tried to get a start on cleaning up, however Abbee quickly stopped him, telling him they will clean it up in the morning.

    They spent the next few hours in the lounge, chatting and laughing. Victini loved being in on the conversation, telling stories of his travels both with Cassandra, and after they parted ways, and the students loved hearing about the different Legendary Pokemon Victini knew, and what they were like. When someone asked if Victini had met Rayquaza, he said once, they had a battle and Victini managed to bring it down, conveniently leaving out the fact Jon, Cassandra and Latios were there, though he noticed Chris smirk, and had a hunch he knew the truth about Rayquaza.

    One by one the group started to wander off to bed, leaving Abbee, Victini and Dylan alone.

    “Is it sad that the best birthday I ever had was a funeral?” Dylan asked.

    “Not really, because this was a pretty great funeral if I do say so myself…” Abbee joked.

    “Thanks for being so great about this.” Dylan said, “I get making a joke like this wouldn’t be easy.”

    “If Dad were here, he would have loved it…” Abbee said, “That’s why I am okay with it. Why I could enjoy myself tonight. But what have your other birthdays been like?”

    “I was at summer camp the last few years, so it was just a normal day.”

    “Your friends didn’t do anything special, or did you just not tell them, like you tried with us?” Abbee joked.

    “I didn’t really have any friends there…” Dylan said, “I mean heck, 90% of the reason I have friends here is because you refused to give up on making that happen…”

    “And don’t you forget it…” Abbee retorted, “But I’m glad we could give you a decent birthday, or Funeral for your Childhood.”

    “Yeah, same here…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    The illuminated clock in Jon’s car read 5:30pm, as he drove Dylan back to his house in Mossdeep. He had remained mostly silent, however Jon was used to this. As they drove, Jon noticed Dylan looking out the window intently at the PokeFood store that Jon had gone into occasionally, when he hadn’t found time during renovations to cook food for his Pokemon himself. He made a point of avoiding bought food, as with nine Pokemon between himself and Alyssa, it became expensive very quickly.

    Suddenly it clicked, as Jon spoke up.

    “That’s it!” Jon said loudly, shocking Dylan, “That’s where Steven and I recognized you from. You used to work the counter there, didn’t you?”

    “Yeah…” Dylan said, slightly surprised that they had recognized him. He had recognized both Jon and Steven on the odd occasion they came into the store, however hadn’t gone out of his way to speak to them outside of what was expected by the job.

    “How come you’ve never mentioned it before?” Jon asked, “It makes sense how you’re able to pick up exactly what different Pokemon need.”

    “I didn’t think it was that important…” Dylan said. It was not long after that that it came into view. His house. The one he had hoped he wouldn’t be returning to this quickly.

    Whilst going home even for a night was the last thing he wanted, he had been worried if he were too vocal about it, people would start asking questions. This was his problem, not theirs.

    The car stopped, and Dylan stood out.

    “I’d be keen to meet your parents.” Jon said, as Dylan interjected.

    “They’re not home. Car’s not here.” Dylan said, “Maybe another time.”

    “Okay…” Jon said, his tone slightly confused, but shrugged it off. Dylan hadn’t mentioned the car was normally in the garage…

    He said goodbye to Jon, who mentioned picking him up at 8:30 the next morning. As Jon left, Dylan took a breath before going towards the house.

    Truth was that the family Dylan was going home to, wasn’t even that anymore. Dylan never knew his dad, as his mum, Nicole, refused to talk about him. Whilst he was young when she left, he was pretty sure she was the type to burn bridges, and because of that, knew none of her family either. Eventually she married Bill, however when he was twelve, she left, not being in contact since, leaving Dylan with his stepdad.

    Whilst Bill was friendly enough with Dylan, he never saw Dylan as his son, and Dylan knew it. As time went on, Bill began to drink more and it became more and more apparent how much he resented Nicole for leaving him to raise her kid, and since she wasn’t around he took that frustration out on Dylan. At first it was harsh words, which moved into throwing things around the house. Eventually it turned into shoving and pushing, and then those shoves became strikes. Slaps and punches.

    As soon as he could, though he tried even earlier, Dylan got his job at the PokeFood store, saving all the money he earned to pay for summer camps, taking whichever one would get him away from home the longest, however summer always came to an end, and he’d find himself back here.

    He had a hunch why Bill had asked him to come visit for his birthday, and it wasn’t anything pleasant. He knocked on the door, wishing he didn’t have to be there, before hearing a voice on the other side.

    ”It’s open.”

    The words were already starting to slur, and it wasn’t even six yet. Dylan opened the door, walking in silently. The hallway was dark, and as he entered he could hear the TV playing loudly in the room next to him. He walked through into the lounge, where Bill sat on the couch, holding a can of premix bourbon, watching the afternoon's football match on TV. Next to him were three empty cans, with an esky on the other side, Dylan not optimistic about how many were left.

    “Kick the ball you idiot!” Bill shouted at the TV, as Dylan walked behind the couch, making sure not to block Bill’s view of the screen, sitting on the chair a metre or two from the couch Bill was on.

    “Happy Birthday…” he grumbled, not taking his eyes off the TV. Dylan could see Bill’s team was losing pretty badly, which made the amount of empty cans make a little more sense.

    “Thanks.”

    “I guess you’re now old enough to have one of these with me…” Bill said, putting his hand into the esky and removing a can identical to the one he was drinking. He was right. The legal drinking age in Hoenn was eighteen. Slightly surprised at the apparent act of generosity, Dylan took the can, opening it, and having a sip. Cringing a little at the taste, he read the can and saw they were the double shot variant.

    “Thanks.”

    “So did this school you’re at do anything for your birthday?” Bill asked, though he seemed more focused on the events unfolding on the screen in front of him.

    “They wanted to throw a bit of a party last night, so they did.” Dylan said, sipping from the drink again. If he didn’t finish it, Bill would go on about how ungrateful he was being. That was his go-to whenever he wanted to berate Dylan, and had made it abundantly clear over the years that the only reason Dylan had this roof over his head was out of his good graces.

    “Many people there?”

    “The four others doing the program, as well as Jon who runs it, and his wife Alyssa.” Dylan said, forcing down another sip, “And Steven Stone.”

    For the first time since Dylan had arrived, Bill looked away from the TV, looking at Dylan with disbelief.

    “Steven Stone, the Hoenn Champion, was at your birthday party…” Bill sneered sarcastically, “You almost had me going there until you said that…”

    There was an awkward silence before Dylan spoke up.

    “Has it been a decent game?” Dylan asked, before biting the bullet and attempting to finish the drink. It was moments before he felt the alcohol go to his head, giving his perceptions of what happened around him a slight delay.

    “Absolute s**t…” Bill retorted, “I have $50 riding on this match, and I’m not going to see it again…”

    Dylan placed his empty can on the ground, however didn’t escape Bill’s notice. He had just finished his own, and fished a new one out of the esky, gesturing towards Dylan.

    “I’m good, thanks.” he said politely, causing Bill to chuckle, though Dylan could see his reasons for that weren’t flattering.

    They watched the match on TV in silence for the rest of the quarter, before Dylan noticed something. A smell in the air.

    “Can you smell something burning?” Dylan asked, as Bill’s eyes widened.

    “God-f**king-damn it!” Bill yelled, as he leapt from the couch, “Open the windows!”

    Dylan got up, opening the nearest windows, before following Bill into the kitchen. Bill had opened the oven, causing smoke to pour out. Bracing himself for the sound of the smoke alarm, Dylan looked to the ceiling, noticing it was gone. Bill must have gotten sick of the noise when he was hungover.

    Bill swore as he removed a charred disk on a metal tray from the oven, that Dylan guessed would have been a frozen pizza in a previous life.

    “Well that’s dinner f**king ruined…” Bill muttered angrily.

    Dylan walked over to the pantry to find it near empty. Bill hadn’t done the shopping yet.

    “Maybe we can pick something up?” Dylan asked, knowing their house was on the no-delivery list for a lot of the local restaurants, because of how aggressive Bill got with the drivers who showed up at the house.

    “Yeah, then I get pulled over after a few drinks, and get a DUI…” Bill growled, “You got your mother’s brains…”

    Bill got out two plates, and began cutting the cremated pizza into slices, placing half of it on Dylan’s plate, and half on his own.

    “Here.” He said shortly, passing the plate to Dylan, who was biting his tongue at Bill’s recent remark, before they went back to the lounge.

    Dylan went back to the chair he was on, and tried to figure out the best way to eat this. Whilst a strong flavored drink like a cola would make it mildly unpleasant, compared to just eating charcoal, the only flavored drinks in the house were alcoholic, and he’d need a lot of it to finish the plate. He considered taking Bill up on another can, but knew that it was too strong, and would make him feel sick, either from not eating enough, or eating charred food.

    In the end, he decided to try and tough out as much as he could of the pizza unassisted. He managed to finish one of the four slices, however felt his stomach churning, and stopped, as Bill ate his, drinking multiple cans to aid the burnt pizza with going down. After about twenty minutes, when he had finished his pizza, and grabbed another can to wash the taste out of his mouth, he grabbed a second out.

    “Here, it’ll make it a little more tolerable.” Bill said, holding the can towards him.

    “No, it’s alright.” Dylan replied, “I’m not that hungry.”

    He knew that this would not go down well, but having spent the entire time walking on eggshells and trying to figure out how to handle this situation without setting Bill off, he saw no way forward. At least this way, he didn’t have to drink himself sick or eat half a cremated pizza.

    “Ungrateful…” Bill muttered, “Just like her. I bust my a** providing for her and her kid, and the ungrateful b***h runs off, leaving me with you…”

    Growing agitated, Dylan muttered under his breath.

    “I don’t blame her.” he said, almost inaudibly.

    “What was that?!” Bill yelled, standing up from the couch. Knowing if he didn’t stand up now, he would be at Bill’s mercy if this got physical, Dylan stood up as well, surprised at how brave, or potentially stupid he was being. Usually he just let Bill say what he wanted until he got too bored or drunk to continue.

    “I said I don’t blame her!” Dylan retorted firmly.

    “Yeah, well if she is such a saint, why did she leave you here with me?” Bill yelled, “Why am I stuck looking after that b**h’s b*****d kid?”

    Dylan felt his hands curl into fists, surprised at how willing he was to stand up to Bill, after all this time. It was only now he realized how much bigger he was, having five inches or so in height above him.

    “If I’m such a f**king burden to you, why did you invite me here?” Dylan asked angrily, “I only came because someone saw the message you sent, and thought you actually gave a damn! I didn’t have the heart to tell her that not everyone’s family is like hers…”

    Bill shoved Dylan, who stood back slightly, but seemed to surprise Bill with how little the shove actually did.

    “You ungrateful little s**t!” Bill yelled, “I should throw you out onto the f**king street!”

    “Then why don’t you?!” Dylan shouted back, “It’d be a step up from living with you! Answer the f**king question! Why did you pester me to come here tonight?”

    Bill stared at Dylan like a raging bull, still holding the can of premix in his right hand.

    “Is it because you just wanted someone else to drink pathetically with you?” Dylan yelled, “Or just so you could talk s**t about my mum, when the best thing she probably ever did was leave your sorry a** here?!”

    Bill roared, before throwing the can of drink at Dylan. He tried to dodge it, however felt a sharp pain on his collarbone, as the can struck it. Bill rushed towards Dylan, who grabbed him by the shirt, and threw him to the side. Bill grunted in pain as he hit the wall.

    “Get the f**k out!” Bill shouted, groaning in pain as the world seemed to be spinning around him, while he tried to stand up, “And don’t ever f**king come back...”

    Dylan walked past him, shoving him with his shoulder as he left the house, unsure of where he would go, both for tonight, and after summer finished, but thankful he wouldn’t be returning there. As he left, he wondered why he did what he just did. The last few years, he dreamed of doing that, however the thought of spending cold winter nights under a bridge, or being hurt in the process of standing up to Bill kept him at bay. He knew he couldn’t fight back like he wanted to, and didn’t have anywhere else to go. But now, things are different.

    Dylan found a Pokemon Center, tidying himself up before heading inside to book a room for the night. Whilst trainers did get a set amount of free stays at Pokemon Center with their Trainer Card, those under the age of eighteen needed a permission form signed by a parent or guardian in order to use this. Dylan had tried when he was younger, to be turned away with a permission slip for Bill to fill in. He breathed a sigh of relief when the receptionist gave him a room key, before making his way upstairs to the accommodation.

    Once in his room, Dylan sat on the bed, leaving the light off. It was 7pm, and he opened his phone to find a message from Abbee.

    “How’re the celebrations going?”

    “What celebration…” Dylan muttered to himself before replying.

    “Going okay. Nothing special.”

    After a few more minutes, Dylan felt his phone buzz.

    “I’m sure they appreciate you coming. Try and enjoy yourself!”

    Dylan sighed, before closing the phone, and turning on the TV in the room to try and distract himself, and kill time before he could reasonably get to sleep.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****

    It was 9:30 Monday morning when the students sat in their tactics and strategy class, where Jon was explaining different items and how they affect Pokemon. Abbee sat next to Dylan, who had shown up on his own that morning. Jon was surprised, as he was supposed to pick Dylan up, however Dylan had arrived at 7:30, telling Jon his stepdad had to be up early for work and gave him a lift.

    However, as they took notes, Abbee couldn’t help but feel something was off about Dylan. He was quieter than usual, and not in a good way, seeming distracted by something.

    Charlotte had asked a question which Jon was in the process of answering, when out of the corner of her eye, Abbee noticed Dylan’s hand go up to under the collar of his shirt, seeming to alleviate some sort of itch. However, there was something else. Between Dylan’s hand moving out from under the collar, and his collar returning to its normal place, she noticed something dark.

    She told herself it was just a shadow, but something seemed off about it. As the mornings classes continued, she couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. Both with Dylan’s demeanour, and this mark she thought she saw. As she thought of this, what Alyssa told her about Jon’s childhood wouldn’t leave her mind. However she didn’t want to go and report this on such minor speculation, mostly a mark she thought she saw. If she was wrong, it would cause problems for Dylan’s family.

    It reached noon, as the five students left the makeshift classroom in the monastery, and went back to the lodge. Once the other three were out of sight, Abbee spoke up.

    “Dylan, you got a second?” she asked, ceasing her walking.

    Dylan turned to face her, stopping walking himself, and spoke.

    “What’s up?”

    “Are you alright?” she asked, “You seem a bit... off... today?”

    “Yeah, I’m fine.” Dylan said, though Abbee could hear just a hint of nervousness. She stood forward.

    “The only reason I asked, is because I thought I saw something…” she said quietly, before quickly grabbing Dylan’s collar, and pulling it to the side, revealing a large dark bruise on his collarbone, with a strange crescent shaped discolored mark through it. The pattern seemed familiar, but she couldn’t pick it.

    “What’s that?” Abbee asked sternly, letting go of his shirt.

    “I tripped.” Dylan said, “Honestly…”

    “You got a bruise like that from tripping…” Abbee replied, not convinced, “On what?”

    “There was a gap in the gutter, that I didn’t see.” Dylan explained, “My foot got caught, and I fell, and landed on the curb.”

    “Really?” Abbee asked.

    “Really, it’s fine.” Dylan said, as he started walking towards the lodge again.

    Once they reached the lodge, Abbee mentioned having lunch, however Dylan declined.

    “I might try and catch up on some sleep.” Dylan said, “I was up early this morning, and the family thing went later than I expected.”

    Abbee didn’t object, as Dylan went upstairs to his room, and she began making lunch, thinking over everything she saw and Dylan had said. She made a sandwich, before grabbing a can of soft drink from the fridge, and making her way to the lounge, where Victini had been waiting for her, and Charlotte sat, watching TV. She opened the can, placing it on the coffee table, as she ate her sandwich, still trying to figure out if Dylan was telling the truth or not.

    Abbee placed her plate down absentmindedly on the coffee table, accidentally bumping the can of drink, knocking it over, as it started to spill.

    “Goddamn it.” Abbee said, as Charlotte noticed.

    “I’ll get some paper towels.” Charlotte said, before getting up and leaving the room. Abbee picked up the can, before realizing something.

    “You okay Abbee?” Victini asked, as he noticed how intently she stared at the base of the can.

    After a few seconds, it clicked for Abbee. The bruise on Dylan’s collarbone was the right size and shape for being hit with a can, even the crescent shaped discoloration on it, which seemed to line up perfectly with the round base of the can. Dylan had been hit with one, based on the size of the bruise, probably a full one, and very hard. It was no accident.

    “Goddamn…” Abbee muttered, as Charlotte came back into the room.

    “It’s just a spilled drink.” Charlotte said, “We’ll clean it up.”

    “Yeah…” Abbee said quietly, as she helped Charlotte clean up the mess.

    By the time it was cleaned up, it was nearing 1pm, and Charlotte had left for her training session with Jon.

    “Abbee…” Victini said, “What’s going on? You can trust me…”

    Using her thoughts, Abbee showed Victini the conversation with Dylan she had this afternoon, and the realization about the can and the bruise on his collarbone.

    Victini sighed.

    “I hate to say it, but I think you’re right.”

    “I just wish I had let it go the other day about him seeing his family.” Abbee said quietly, as to not be overheard, “He went because I guilted him into going, and I’m guessing because my Dad just died, he felt like he had to…”

    “It’s not your fault.” Victini said, “It’s nobody’s, except for the person who gave him that bruise. Besides, as horrible as this is, chances are it’s been going for ages, and if this didn’t happen, nobody would know...”

    “Still…” Abbee replied.

    “You gotta tell Jon about this, you know that, right?”

    “I know…” Abbee said, “I am training with him after Charlotte, so I will tell him then…”

    “You’re doing the right thing…”

    “I hope so.”

    “No, there’s no question about it.” Victini said firmly, “You’re doing the right thing…”


    Abbee watched the clock with anticipation, and at 1:45, made her way with Victini in tow to the arena, arriving five minutes before she was due to start training. Charlotte was wrapping up her session, greeting Abbee as she arrived, before thanking Jon and making her way back to the lodge. As Abbee stood towards Jon he spoke up.

    “You ready?” he asked, grinning and ready for another battle.

    “Jon, can we talk for a second?” Abbee asked, “It’s about Dylan…”


  10. #29
    Hidden in Shadows Neo Emolga's Avatar
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    Ah man, another great chapter!

    I got a kick out of the whole birthday/childhood funeral party that was done for Dylan. Never heard of something like that being done for someone turning 18, but it sounds like a fun and fantastic idea.

    The other thing this story does really well is capture an amazing and wide range of emotions. Happiness, anger, sadness, anxiety, it’s got everything and blends them into a very cohesive story that comes accompanied with great characters that really have so much background to them. No one in this story feels like “filler” and everyone’s got their role to play in it. Definitely awesome work and I’ve enjoyed it ever since the beginning.

    I also do like reading those nods to Cassandra. I like the way you make use of her character in this.

  11. #30
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. [Desolate Divine]'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo Emolga View Post
    Ah man, another great chapter!

    I got a kick out of the whole birthday/childhood funeral party that was done for Dylan. Never heard of something like that being done for someone turning 18, but it sounds like a fun and fantastic idea.

    The other thing this story does really well is capture an amazing and wide range of emotions. Happiness, anger, sadness, anxiety, it’s got everything and blends them into a very cohesive story that comes accompanied with great characters that really have so much background to them. No one in this story feels like “filler” and everyone’s got their role to play in it. Definitely awesome work and I’ve enjoyed it ever since the beginning.

    I also do like reading those nods to Cassandra. I like the way you make use of her character in this.
    Glad you're enjoying it! A little teaser: Summer is almost over, but I am currently planning Season 2... A year away from the Eon Academy, where they are on their own (mostly) and putting to use what they have learnt that summer before coming back, with some changes. And the second year will be big, in my opinion. The first season was mostly about setting up the characters, like you said. That was really (though I didn't realize this at the time) to get them ready for the big stuff.

    Cheers! Yeah, I enjoy the nods, and also reacting to Cassandra from the perspective of someone who thinks she died in the fire. Also, having Jon, Alyssa and Victini knowing the truth and having to hide it.

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