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

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    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. Desolate Divine's Avatar
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    Episode 12: Safety (Part 2)
    Spoiler:

    As Jon listened to Abbee describing the conversations she had with Dylan, and her theory about the bruise on his collarbone, and the can of drink, it all suddenly began to make sense. Why he didn’t want Jon to meet his family, and why he showed up at the Academy that morning before Jon could go and pick him up. Even the fact he had decided to come to what really is a battling summer school, when he doesn’t seem to care as much about battling as the others there, more preferring to learn about raising Pokemon. He just didn’t want to be at home.

    “You’ve done the right thing by telling me.” Jon said, “I will make sure that he is safe here, and that the right people are told, and the right measures are taken.”

    Abbee nodded, though still seemed uncertain.

    “What will happen to him now?” Abbee asked.

    “Well he is an adult now, so it’s not like he will get taken away from his home by force, or put into foster care. For the next week or so, he is here, but anything after that really is his decision.” Jon explained, “If you had told me this a week ago, it would be a very different story. I will still report it to the police, as chances are this has been going on for a while, so it would be considered child abuse. If he wants, I will help him get an intervention order so whoever did this to him can’t contact him without the police being involved, which should hopefully make a bit of a difference, but what happens next is his choice.”

    Abbee was silent. Jon had basically confirmed what she was worried about. That this probably wasn’t an isolated incident. If anyone understood this, it would be Jon.

    “Are you going to talk to him?” Abbee asked.

    “Tonight.” Jon said, “I have one thing I want to look into before I speak to him, and once I have had a talk to him, I will report it. It will all be before dinner tonight, so don’t worry about me taking too long.”

    Abbee nodded.

    “Maybe just give him some space. If he didn’t want to talk to you about it before, then he probably doesn’t now. If he comes out of his room, act the same way you would normally.” Jon explained, “He probably needs a friend right about now to take his mind off of whatever happened for the time being.”

    “Do you mind if we don’t train today?” Jon asked, “I will schedule you in for 3pm tomorrow, after Chris.”

    “Yeah, that’s fair enough.” Abbee replied, “I’m not really feeling up to it right now either.”

    Jon nodded, as he made his way to the house.

    “You and Victini are welcome to wait in the house until I get back, otherwise, maybe just fill time at the lodge. I’m sure Alyssa would love the company.”

    “Thanks, but I think I will head back to the lodge.” Abbee replied, “Maybe have a lie down before dinner.”

    She said goodbye to Jon, before making her way back towards the lodge.

    “You did the right thing.” Victini said to her telepathically. She nodded, but still wasn’t sure how well this situation could have turned out.

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

    “Thank God for free healthcare…” Charlotte muttered to herself as she looked at the itemized receipt.

    Before her practise battle with Jon, she realized how low on medical supplies for Luxray she was. Painkillers, bandages, as well as medicated food to help Luxray recover from his injury weeks earlier. Given the events of the week earlier, she hadn’t noticed how low she had gotten, and needed to get to the Pokemon Centre to stock up.

    When she mentioned it to Jon, she begged him to let her go on her own. The rule was that they could only leave the property in pairs, however Chris and Justin had gone out to get lunch and check out some shops in the city, she didn’t know where Dylan was, and Abbee had training. Short of dragging Alyssa and Amelia away from home, all she could do was go by herself.

    Jon was apprehensive about it to begin with, however gave his blessing, as long as she went straight there and came straight home. The rule was in place both to prevent them getting into trouble, as well as for their own safety. Charlotte was the least likely to cause trouble, and also the one who could handle herself best if anything went pear-shaped, so Jon was willing to make an exception, as long as she didn’t go out of her way to tell the others he had let her go alone.

    The receipt she held in one hand, listed the items in the bag she held in the other. The total was well over three hundred dollars, but reduced to a small fraction thanks to the healthcare trainers received. If not for that, her blunder with Luxray would have cost her thousands between the surgery, hospital observation and now the supplies needed for recovery.

    Whilst she had caught a bus from near the Eon Academy to the Pokemon Center, she would have been waiting twenty minutes for the next to arrive to take her back, so decided to walk. As she walked down the main street of Mossdeep, she noticed three young men, probably Dylan’s age, maybe a year older, gathered around the side of a beaten up car, talking loudly, and being generally obnoxious. She continued to walk, hoping not to be noticed by them. She was not that fortunate.

    “Hey!” One called out, “Blondie! Where’re you going?”

    “Goddamn it…” She muttered to herself as she kept walking...

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

    It was nearly 3pm when Jon was in the car driving down the same road he had driven yesterday, looking out the window for his destination. After a few minutes, he spotted it, pulling into the carpark. This was the PokeFood store that he realized yesterday, Dylan had worked the last few years at. Whilst Jon believed everything Abbee said, and had the same theory about what was going on, he knew that he needed to talk to Dylan about it before he reported it, and if he wanted Dylan to be honest about it, Dylan needed to know Jon understood what had been going on, beyond mere speculation. He had a few loose ends he wanted to try and understand first.

    The store itself wasn’t part of a chain, but was independently owned. A family business. As Jon walked in the store, one he had entered a couple of times over the last year of living in Mossdeep, he was quickly greeted by the clerk working the checkout, a young woman in her early twenties. The store itself had a few customers but didn’t seem overly busy.

    “I was wondering if I could speak to the store manager?” Jon asked politely.

    “I will see if he is free…” The clerk replied, slightly confused. Jon didn’t sound like the typical angry customer that usually would ask to speak to the manager, but still, she found it odd.

    After a few minutes she returned with a man in his early fifties.

    “You’re Jon Drake, aren’t you?” he asked, “I heard about you buying that property and turning it into a school. Glad to see some development on the island.”

    “Yeah I’m Jon.” he said, shaking the man’s hand, “And you are?”

    “Charlie, I own the store.” the man replied, “What did you want to speak about?”

    “If we could speak somewhere a little more private, I wanted to talk to you about one of your workers.” Jon said, quietening his voice, “Dylan Squier. He is currently attending my summer program.”

    Slightly confused, Charlie nodded, before gesturing for Jon to follow him behind the counter, into the offices in the back of the building. Charlie sat behind a desk, as Jon sat opposite him. As Charlie sat, he spoke up.

    “Forgive me for being so blunt, but what brings the person running the summer program Dylan is attending here to me?” Charlie asked.

    “Dylan turned eighteen yesterday and was asked by his family to come home and have a night with them for his birthday.” Jon explained, “I was supposed to pick him up from there this morning, but he arrived at the Eon Academy on his own before I could. Then one of the students noticed a pretty bad bruise on him, that looked like he had been pounded with something like a drink can, and reported it to me…”

    Charlie’s face went white hearing this.

    “You’d know Dylan is pretty quiet at the best of times.” Jon explained, “I will be reporting my concern to the police tonight, however wanted to speak to Dylan before I did, and before I speak to him, I guess I wanted to have a bit of a better idea about Dylan outside of the context I know him. See if I can wrap my head around his life before I met him before I start asking the pretty hard questions…”

    Charlie’s reaction to this shocked Jon a little. Whilst he understood being shocked by the revelation, Charlie seemed to have the breath knocked out of him hearing this.

    “I’d occasionally see him with a mark or a bruise here and there, but thought nothing of it…” Charlie explained, “I’d get the same sorts of marks working at home, or in the warehouse here, and think nothing of it. But hearing you put it that way, makes everything make a bit more sense…”

    “How long has Dylan worked for you?” Jon asked, somewhat glad there had been at least one adult in Dylan’s life who seemed to care before he came to the Eon Academy.”

    “Nearly five years?” Charlie explained, “I legally can’t hire any official staff until they are fourteen and nine months, but l can hire on an occasional basis, kids over the age of twelve to do things like dropping catalogues off in mailboxes, or handing out fliers in front of the store. He was nearly thirteen when he first approached me to ask for work, and I liked the initiative he was showing, so I gave him the odd day or weekend job that I could. He told me he wanted to go to summer camp, so I figured money was a bit tight at home, and I recommended him to a few colleagues after someone like him to deliver papers and stuff.”

    “Then when he was old enough, he asked for a job in the store, and I gave it to him. He is one of the best workers I ever had.” Charlie explained, “He wanted nothing more than to work, even trying to convince me to give him more shifts than I can legally give a minor. And there were times when I even did that because someone called in sick at the last second, and I knew I could depend on him. He was never available during the summer, but the other nine months of the year, he worked that well, I was happy with the arrangement.”

    Jon had a hunch this was the case. Looking back at his own childhood, if he could have done what Dylan did to get out of the house, he would have…

    “But now you tell me about him coming back from home with a bruise that didn’t look like it was an accident…” Charlie said, “He probably just didn’t want to be at home, and worked all year so he could go to whatever summer camp would get him away from there for three months…”

    “I think you’re right…” Jon explained, “He mentioned going to lots of different camps every summer, but I didn’t think anything of it…”

    Thinking over what he heard, Jon had another question come to mind.

    “Who does he live with?” Jon asked, realizing that he hadn’t heard Dylan mention any of his family other than his stepdad who drove him back this morning.

    “Honestly, I’m not too sure.” Charlie explained, “His stepdad signed the permission form for him to work, but Dylan never mentioned his birth-father or his mum. I don’t know if either of them are in the picture, or if it’s just him and his stepdad…”

    Jon was quiet, as Charlie spoke up.

    “He’s a good kid, really. I even had him over for dinner a few times, and my wife and kids loved him.” Charlie said, “What’s going to happen to him?”

    “It’s hard to say.” Jon explained, “The summer program runs for another week or so, and even if he is eighteen, he is still technically under my care there. After that, I don’t know to be honest. I had to learn all the child protection laws, but it is a grey area with historic family violence. If he were a few years younger, he wouldn’t have a say with what happens to him. He’d just be taken by the state and put into foster care if they can’t find a relative to put him with. But now he is an adult, and it’s all his decision what happens to him next.”

    “Whoever has been abusing him will probably be charged for what happened while he was a minor, as well as the assault that happened last night, but whether or not Dylan wants to go back to that house after summer, or get some sort of intervention order is on him.” Jon said, “I’d happily have him stay with me and my wife until he knows what he wants to do, and help him figure that out, but if he does for some reason want to go home, I can’t stop him… I really won’t know for sure until I talk to him. I don’t know if Dylan has younger siblings who live in that house, or whether it was just him. Who knows...”

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

    Charlotte continued walking, as the trio went silent, thankful they seemed to have given up on her. However she heard the car start, causing her heart to skip a beat, as she increased her pace.

    “Hey, we’re talking to you!” called out one of the guys, “Are you deaf?”

    “I’m busy.” Charlotte called out, “I’m meeting up with a friend and am running late.”

    Charlotte had hoped that would be enough for these idiots to get the hint, however they continued.

    “Do you want a lift?”

    “I’m good, thanks.” Charlotte said, just wishing they would leave.

    The car sped up, before pulling into a parking bay twenty meters ahead, as the passenger climbed out.

    “If you’re running late, you shouldn’t leave your friend waiting?” he called out to her, as she stopped walking, “Just let us take you there.”

    “For f**k’s sake, I said I’m good, can you creeps just leave me alone?” Charlotte snapped, causing her harasser to raise his eyebrows. The other two got out of the drivers and back seats.

    “Excuse me?” he said as he walked towards her, “I go out of my way to be nice and offer you a ride, and you think it’s okay to call me a creep…”

    Charlotte’s free hand moved to her belt, grabbing a Pokeball, however before she could let it out, a familiar voice called out from the sidelines.

    “She said she’s cool, so why don’t you drive away and stop wasting both your time?”

    Charlotte and the pain in her side, both turned to see Justin, standing out the front of the cafe next to them.

    “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll mind your own business…” said the man in front of her, sneering at Justin.

    “Dude, I’m suggesting that for your sake.” Justin said, “She’s holding a Pokeball, and when she has a Pokemon out, she is a bit of a nightmare…”

    Justin walked over, unlatching one of his own Pokeballs.

    “And I like to think I’m not too bad myself…”

    The three men grinned slightly before unlatching their own.

    “You want this to get ugly kid?” the apparent leader asked, “There are three of us and two of you…”

    “It wouldn’t matter if there were five of you.” Justin laughed, “You would end up in a Pokemon Center waiting room.”

    “Besides, there are three of us!” Called out another voice.

    Charlotte and Justin looked over, as Charlotte noticed Justin breathe a sigh of relief, as Chris briskly walked out of the cafe.

    “I tell you I’m going to the bathroom, and to wait for me, and this is what you do?” Chris said quietly to Justin, who smiled weakly, before turning to Charlotte. “These jokers annoying you Charlotte?”

    “We just offered her a lift.” the head joker interjected, “None of your business.”

    Chris rolled his eyes, before turning to face the head joker, looking him dead in the eye. There was at least three years between the three young trainers and the three men who decided to spend their afternoon harassing a teenager, but Charlotte was surprised at how little fear Chris was showing.

    “Look, since you a**holes are too dense to get the message, let me dumb this down for you…” Chris said intensely, “Walk away, jump back into your mums car, rethink the life choices that wound up with three of you harassing a teenage girl, and f**k off… Because I can guarantee you, that once Pokemon come out, things will get ugly, and not for us…”

    Chris plucked a Pokeball off his belt, tossing it up and down in his hand, whilst he waited for a response. Silence cut the air, as the man in front of him spat in Chris’ face...

    “Listen you little-” he began...

    He was cut off by the Pokeball Chris had just pelted, smacking him in the nose, as it opened up, releasing Chris’ Charizard.

    “Motherf**ker!” he shouted as he gripped his now broken nose, using his other hand to send out a Pokemon. The two behind him also let out their Pokemon. Between the two groups of people stood six Pokemon, a Cacturne, Lairon and Dusklops on one side, and Chris’ Charizard, Justin’s Lucario and Charlotte’s Roserade on the other.

    “Bring it on, s**tstains!” Chris roared, as Charizard darted forward towards Cacturne...

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

    The digital clock on Dylan’s bedside table read 4:15 when there was a knock on the door. He had been lying in his bed, scrolling through twitter, trying to take his mind off of what happened. Whilst normally spending time with the others would distract him enough, the fact that Abbee had seen the bruise meant it was doing the opposite. Until he found some way of convincing her it was an accident, she would be suspicious of it, and he wouldn’t be able to move on.

    The knock caught his attention. It was too heavy to Abbee, and she only had two schools of thought with this. If she didn’t try and talk to him straight away, she’d wait until he came out and talked to her. The timing fit neither of those schools of thought.

    “Dylan, can we talk?”

    Dylan’s heart sank as he recognized Jon’s voice and realized what was going on. Abbee had said something to him…

    “Yeah…” he said weakly, “It’s open.”

    Dylan sat up, as Jon entered the room, carrying two cans of lemonade, passing Dylan one, before grabbing the chair by the desk and making his way over.

    “I spoke with Abbee this afternoon. She’s worried about the bruise that she saw, and really, I am as well…” Jon explained, “Worried enough that I will be making a report to the police tonight about it, but I wanted to talk to you first…”

    “Why do the police need to be involved?” Dylan asked, “I told Abbee, I tripped…”

    “Can I see this bruise?” Jon asked, as Dylan sighed, pulling his collar away revealing the dark purple mark on his chest, with the discolored crescent on it. Jon held up his can, which he hadn’t opened yet, placing it near Dylan’s chest, lining up the bottom ring of it with the discolored mark in the bruise.

    “Fell onto a can?” Jon asked, “You’d have to fall pretty hard to leave that sort of mark…”

    Dylan went silent, knowing the truth was out.

    “You don’t need to defend whoever did this. What they’ve done to you isn’t right...” Jon said firmly, “Dylan, you do know that, don’t you?”

    “How do you know that?” Dylan asked, “Even if I didn’t just trip, and somebody did that, how do you know it wasn’t an accident, or a spur of the moment mistake that wouldn’t happen again.”

    “Was it?” Jon asked, as Dylan went silent.

    Jon took off his beanie, something he didn’t do very often when he wasn’t in the privacy of his own home, and lifted away part of his fringe, revealing a white scar just under his hairline.

    “I got this when my dad had too much to drink, like he did every night, and smashed a plate over my head because I talked back to him" Jon explained before pointing at a scar on his wrist that was partially covered by a tattoo, "This one was from his belt buckle, because he tripped over my shoes by the front door when he stumbled home drunk one night."

    Dylan looked at Jon in shock. The thought had never crossed his mind that Jon had a childhood like his.

    “I can tell you from experience, when someone goes to the effort of hurting you, the way someone did to give you that bruise, it is almost never a once off thing…” Jon explained, “I know what it’s like to have the person who is supposed to look out for you not do that, and instead hurt you more than anyone else. And I know from experience that if people aren’t held accountable for their actions, they will have no reason to change…”

    Dylan thought over what Jon said, before speaking quietly.

    “It was my stepdad…” Dylan said quietly, “We got into an argument last night, and he threw the can he was about to drink at me…”

    “Has this happened before?” Jon asked.

    “The bruises, or the arguments?” Dylan asked, before answering himself, “The last few years he would get violent. He was fine when Mum was around. Maybe even nice, I don’t really remember. But when she left both of us, and he realized he was stuck looking after his runaway wife’s kid on his own, he started to snap. He’d drink and then start taking it out on me…”

    Jon was silent, letting Dylan speak.

    “Normally when he would get angry, I’d just avoid him, or let him say what he wanted and try to ignore him. But last night, I couldn’t and I ended up calling him out…” Dylan said, as his hands curled into fists at the thought. “He started going on about how much of a burden I was, and how much of a piece of s**t mum was leaving me with him. I asked him why he even invited me to come home for the night if he hated me so much. If it was just because I was old enough to drink with him now, or whether he just wanted someone to listen to him talk s**t about my mum, because nobody else would listen.”

    “Goddamn, you’re brave…” Jon replied, “I wouldn’t have had the nerve to say that to my Dad back then…”

    “Or stupid…” Dylan said, “Something snapped last night, and I guess I finally thought I didn’t deserve this. I realized that he was the pathetic one, not me. And even if he did throw me out, I might be able to survive without him…”

    “Dylan, I’m going to report this to the police, because he needs to be held accountable.” Jon explained, “I don’t know him personally, but even if you’d rather try and forget about this and move on, we can’t risk him hurting someone else. He might meet another woman, someone who had kids, and this whole thing starts again…”

    “The police will want your statement. But other than that, what happens next is your choice.” Jon said, “If you want to get an intervention order in place so he can’t contact you, I will help you do it. If you decide you want to try and work out your differences, that is also an option. If you even wanted to go back there, there isn’t anything I can do to stop you once summer is over.”

    Dylan considered what Jon had just said. It was on his mind a lot since, knowing he probably couldn’t go back there. But now, figuring out what he was going to do, not by himself, it seemed a bit easier.

    “I can’t go back there.” Dylan said, “I’ve done everything I can to get away from there, so I won’t go back. I just don’t know where I will go once summer is over.”

    “You can stay here?”

    Dylan looked up, shocked at the offer.

    “I’d offer anyway, but you’d actually be helping me out.” Jon said, “Since the livestream, we have already had twenty expressions of interest for next summer, and they just keep coming in. I need to hire staff here for it to work. So you could stay here. Live on-site, work here.”

    “The summers would be intense, especially given how much happened with five of you, let alone the fifty or so I estimate to see next year…” Jon said, “But there will probably be downtime during the rest of the year if we don’t get heaps of schools coming in for week long camps and stuff like that, so you could travel if you wanted to, but-”

    “I’ll do it.” Dylan replied quickly, “If you’ll have me, I’ll stay and work here…”

    Jon grinned.

    “Well, that’s a start with getting ready for next summer.” Jon said, “As much as I’d love to daydream with you about what that looks like though, we should probably go talk to the police, and get that bruise looked at. Make sure there isn’t a fracture or something underneath…”

    Dylan sighed, before nodding, and following Jon to the door. Whilst he didn’t look forward to reliving all of the parts of his teenage years he had tried so hard to forget, he couldn’t believe what Jon had offered.

    “Victini was right…” Dylan thought to himself “That wish I made is coming true…”

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

    The clock in the police station read 5pm as Justin, Charlotte and Chris sat in the foyer, waiting to hear their fate. The police had shown up when the trio’s Pokemon had wiped the pavement with the Pokemon of the guys harassing Charlotte, and Chris was trying to fight all three of them with his fists. Hearing what had happened from witnesses nearby, the police took all six of them in, the three men harassing Charlotte put into lockup, whilst the teenagers were allowed to wait in the foyer under supervision until someone claimed them.

    “How’s this gonna look for your family if it hits the media?” Charlotte asked Chris, who was holding an ice pack against his bruised face, “Lance’s cousin beating up three guys?”

    “Wait, you’re Lance’s cousin?” Justin asked, shocked.

    “You didn’t know?” Chris asked, “I could have sworn I told you at some point…”

    “You didn’t…”

    “Well then yeah, Lance is unfortunately my cousin.” Chris said, “But hey, maybe this is good publicity. Lance went to jail for trying to kill two girls. Maybe me being arrested for defending someone would look good for the family.”

    Justin snorted, as Charlotte turned to him.

    “So you had no clue if Chris was going to make it back out in time…” Charlotte said to Justin, “What would you have done if he spent half an hour on the toilet, scrolling through memes?”

    “You don’t think we could have taken them without him?” Justin asked.

    “Of course we could have…” Charlotte snorted, “I’ve seen kids in trainer school with a better handle on their Pokemon than those three idiots…”

    “I figured even if I couldn’t take them all by myself, you’re definitely strong enough that we could have taken them together.” Justin said, “But I’m glad that Chris came out, because I’m useless when punches are thrown…”

    Charlotte laughed at the sentiment.

    “Well thanks for having my back…” Charlotte said, “You’ve really grown up in the last week, you know?”

    Before Justin could reply, their attention was pulled to the front entrance.

    “What the f**k?!” Jon said loudly, seeing three of his students sitting in the corner of the foyer with a police officer guarding them.

    “Jon, I can explain…” Chris said, as Jon walked into the room, followed by Dylan, which surprised them a little.

    “Did you three get arrested?” he asked angrily.

    “Wait, you don’t know?” Charlotte asked, “I thought they called you to come pick us up?”

    “No, nobody called-” Jon began as he pulled his phone out of his pocket. As he unlocked it, he saw six missed calls from a number he presumed to be the Mossdeep Police Station.

    “I’ve had a bit going on…” Jon explained, “I will deal with you three later…”

    The officer supervising them looked between the odd group with confusion, as Jon and Dylan left, making their way to reception, before being escorted into one of the consultation rooms in the back of the building.

    “Wait, if he didn’t know we had been arrested, why is he here?” Justin asked, Charlotte shrugging her shoulders in response, as Chris leant his head back, staring at the ceiling…

    It was half an hour later when Jon returned to the foyer, without Dylan, before speaking to the receptionist about what had happened with Chris, Charlotte and Justin. The officer supervising them was soon dismissed, and Jon made his way over.

    “So you guys saw Charlotte being harassed and intervened?” Jon asked.

    “I asked them nicely to go away, and then Chris came out and told them to f**k off…” Justin said, as Charlotte snorted with laughter, “They didn’t want to f**k off, and it wound up with a big Pokemon Battle, like some s**ty anime…”

    “What happened to their Pokemon?” Jon asked.

    “They were knocked out in under a minute, and then Chris decided to take on all three of them…” Charlotte said gesturing towards Chris’ eye that was covered by the icepack.

    “What about the other guys?” Jon asked, “Did they overrun you?”

    “F**k that…” Chris said, “Each of them got it twice as bad as I did…”

    The teenagers were surprised when Jon chuckled a bit.

    “It’s not ideal, but I’m glad you’re looking out for each other.” Jon said, “People are s**t, and if you want to survive in this world, you gotta have eachothers back. That being said, Chris, there will be times you can just use your words, and I’m not talking about the f**ks and s**ts…”

    Chris grinned, relieved that Jon wasn’t tearing into them over getting arrested.

    “So if you didn’t get the call to come pick us up, why are you here?” Charlotte asked, “And why’s Dylan here?”

    Jon’s mood shifted as he heard the question.

    “Dylan’s got some stuff he needs to deal with, and first step of that is here.” Jon said, “Don’t ask him why. He will talk about it when he is ready. Until then, we just need to wait…”

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

    “Hydro Pump!” Justin called out as Greninja, still affected by the Trick Room that Justin’s Kadabra had set up a minute or so earlier, let out a powerful water blast, knocking Blaziken off its feet, as Jon raised a hand, to signal he had conceded.

    “Well done.” Jon said, as he called Blaziken back to his Pokeball, and walked forward, “You definitely couldn’t have done that on Day Zero…”

    Chris cheered from the side, as he waited for his session with Jon to start. It was nearing two, and Justin’s session had just finished.

    It was a little after dinner time when Jon returned with all but Abbee in his car, leaving Abbee confused as to what had gone on that afternoon. Chris, Charlotte and Justin had all been given a warning, whilst Dylan made a statement to the police about what Bill had been doing over the years, as well as applied for an intervention order. Whilst it would take a week or two for the court date that would make the order official, Dylan didn’t seem too worried, as he knew he was safe at the Eon Academy.

    Before Chris could get started with his session, Jon noticed a car drive through the open gates of the Eon Academy, up the long driveway, stopping where it ended. Chris noticed it too, as Jon spoke up.

    “Is that the car those guys were in yesterday?” Jon asked.

    “No, it looks just as s**t, but different.” Chris replied, as Jon walked towards it briskly. When Jon was a few meters away the door opened, and a middle aged man got out of the car. Chris and Justin followed, keeping their distance, wondering what was going on.

    “Can I help you?” Jon asked, “This is private property, and we don’t usually get visitors…”

    “Where the f**k is he?!” The man shouted, “Where is that torchic-s**t little son of a b***h?!”

    He looked towards the lodge as he heard the sound of the door opening, as Dylan stood out, Abbee close behind him.

    “You f**king little p***k!” the man, who Jon had guessed to be Bill, shouted, as he started walking towards Dylan, “I keep a roof over your head and food on your plate for the last f**king eleven years, and this is how you repay me?”

    Jon walked over, stepping in front of Bill, before grabbing him by the shoulder.

    “You need to leave. This is private property, and you’re trespassing.” Jon said sternly to bill who ignored him and kept shouting.

    “You come to my house, assault me, and then send the police to my f**king door?!” Bill shouted, “Grow a set of f**king balls and come face me!”

    “Chris, call the police!” Jon called out, as Charlotte emerged from the lodge as well, waiting by the building with Dylan and Abbee, wondering what the commotion was about.

    “You!” Bill said, only seeming to notice Jon now, “You’re the one who got him to talk to the police, aren’t you?”

    Bill shoved Jon, who stood back briefly, but continued to stand his ground. Dylan went to walk forward, however felt Abbee grab his shoulder.

    “Don’t.” Abbee said quietly, “Let Jon handle this...”

    “I need to-” Dylan began.

    “You’ve done enough…”

    “Jon can handle this…” Victini said telepathically to Abbee, Charlotte and Dylan.

    “We already have a problem here…” Jon said to Bill, “Leave now before it becomes a bigger problem.”

    Everyone watched in shock as Bill spat in Jon’s face.

    “He is going to regret that…” Victini said, having flashbacks to Jon’s reaction on the S.S. Wishmaker to Cassandra being spat on by an operative.

    Jon sighed as he wiped the spit off his face.

    “What are you going to do a**hole?” Bill asked. As an answer, Jon wound back his right arm, before launching it with deadly accuracy into Bill’s face. Chris and Justin heard the sound of his nose crack under the impact. As Bill stumbled back, Jon’s right leg quickly swept behind his feet, causing him to trip and fall on his backside.

    “You are a pathetic excuse for a man…” Jon said, “Dylan’s under my care now, which means if you come here trying to cause s**t with him, you’re causing s**t with me…”

    Bill glared at Jon through the hand he used to hold his nose in place and try and contain the blood that was seeping from it.

    “Take the sliver of dignity you think you have left, and get the f**k out of here.” Jon said, “If you ever show up here like this again, this will be an entree to something much worse. Am I clear?”

    Bill said nothing, so Jon raised his voice.

    “Am I f**king clear?!” Jon asked again. Bill spat some blood onto the ground, before slowly getting up and walking towards his car. Jon stared him down until the car started and he left, spinning the wheels and kicking up dirt as he did. Once Bill was out of sight, Jon turned, where he saw Chris staring at him in awe…

    “Don’t let this take away from what I said yesterday…” Jon warned, “He wasn’t here to talk, and wasn’t going to respond to words. I did what I had to to make him listen…”

    Chris nodded enthusiastically, unable to wipe the grin from his face at what he witnessed first hand.

    “Let’s postpone training until 3-” Jon said, before realizing Abbee’s got moved to then, “Wait, 4pm. The police will be here soon, and I need to talk to them.”

    Chris obliged, making his way over to Justin, talking about what just happened, as Jon walked towards Dylan, Abbee and Charlotte by the lodge.

    “I’m sorry it had to come to that.” Jon said to Dylan, who shook his head.

    “You did what I dreamt of doing for years.” Dylan said quietly, “I hope this is enough for him to get the message and leave me alone.”

    Jon nodded in response before looking to the driveway.

    “I had better wait for the police to get here.” Jon said, “Abbee I will see you at 3, if the police don’t take too long with me.”

    Abbee nodded, as Jon left, and her and Dylan went back into the lodge, whilst Charlotte went to talk to Chris and Justin.

    As they sat inside, Dylan breathed a sigh of relief.

    “How are you doing?” Abbee asked, slightly apprehensively. She didn’t want Dylan to feel like he had to talk, but wanted him to know she was there if he wanted to.

    “Good, really.” Dylan said, “Better than I have in a while…”

    “That’s good…”

    There was silence before Dylan spoke again.

    “Jon said I can stay here after summer…” Dylan explained, “Apparently he needs people to work here before next summer, and has offered for me to live and work at the Academy.”

    “That’s great!” Abbee exclaimed, “I’m really happy for you.”

    “Yeah…” Dylan said, “Mum left six years ago, and honestly, for the first time since then, I guess I finally feel safe…”

    Abbee was shocked to hear this. She had always felt safe. Even when she lost her dad, she still felt safe, knowing who she had around her. It was something she had taken for granted, only realizing now, knowing someone so close to her hasn’t felt that way in so long.

    “I’m glad to hear that…” Abbee replied, slightly awkwardly.

    “Hey Abbee…”

    “Yeah?”

    “Thank you…”


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  3. #32
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. Desolate Divine's Avatar
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    Episode 13: Divergence
    Spoiler:

    The tension in the air was unavoidable on the morning of the Friday of the twelfth week. The last official class of the summer. After lunch, Justin and Dylan would have their final one-on-one training with Jon. The summer program would end on Sunday morning, and they would all go home to their normal lives, some being a new normal they weren’t yet accustomed to.

    Class only had ten minutes left, and Jon by this point knew that trying to hold their attention was near impossible, as well as the fact that he felt like he had taught them everything he knew. That wasn’t to mean that they didn’t still have a lot of room to grow, but more that they had the knowledge. Now their next step was to practise, practise and then practise some more, learning how to apply what he had taught them to themselves, their teams and their battles, and his role with them would go from less being a teacher to students, and more being a master craftsman with his apprentices.

    “So tomorrow at noon, I want everyone to meet at the battleground…” Jon explained. There was a murmur from the five trainers, remembering both day zero, and the halfway point of the camp, where everyone gathered there on a day off to battle. They knew that this was going to be the last one for the summer.

    “We repeating Day Zero?” Justin asked.

    “Maybe we are…” Jon replied, “Maybe we aren’t… You will find out tomorrow…”

    “Come on, it’s the last class of the summer and you can’t give us a straight answer?” Justin retorted.

    “It’s not that I can’t.” Jon explained, “It’s that I won’t. You will find out what’s happening tomorrow when you get there.”

    “But, really this class is finished, and with that, the last class for the summer.” Jon explained, “I won’t get all preachy now because I can still do that tomorrow, and two of you still have training. Those of you with the afternoon off, enjoy it. You’ve all done well this summer.”

    Whilst the sense of accomplishment was permeating the room, it was weighed down by the realization that summer was practically over, and that chances are, they wouldn’t see eachother again until next year, and that being said, nobody wanted to bring up the fact that some of them may not be there. Only Abbee knew that Dylan would be working at the Eon Academy, so as far as Chris, Charlotte and Justin were aware, he was now too old to attend next summer.

    Abbee and Dylan were the first to leave the room, with Justin not far behind them. Eventually Charlotte and Chris left, walking in silence.

    “You know, I never thought I’d see the day where we’d be the ones walking to the lodge to have lunch together, just cause we can.” Chris said, “You know, us actually being friends… If that’s the word for it…”

    “If that’s not the word for it then what is?” Charlotte asked harshly, though Chris knew she was joking.

    “You raise a valid point. Not sure why I got so awkward talking about us being friends…” Chris laughed.

    “Maybe because a year ago the thought of us being friends was just so stupid and unrealistic.” Charlotte said, “We only knew each other from competing. I was a pain in your a** and you were a pain in mine…”

    “Yeah you aren’t wrong…” Chris replied, “Who has more wins at the moment? I stopped keeping track a couple of weeks ago.”

    “Oh great, so did I…” Charlotte muttered, “I don’t know, I’m probably ahead though.”

    Chris snorted.

    “Sure you are…”

    “Well, seeing as we don’t have an official scoreboard anymore, we will have to restart it tomorrow.” Charlotte explained, “There are what, half a dozen junior tournaments before next summer, right? I’ll be competing in all of them. You?”

    “You think I’d miss it?” Chris asked.

    “So we’ll have plenty of chances to figure out who’s better between now and then…” Charlotte explained, “I’ll be working my a** off, and you won’t be around me every day to see how I’m battling. So don’t expect to come out on top.”

    “That goes both ways…”

    As the pair arrived at the lodge, they made their way to the kitchen, figuring out what to eat. After a few indecisive minutes of looking at their options in the cupboard and the fridge Chris finally spoke.

    “F**k it, let’s go get lunch somewhere in Mossdeep.” Chris suggested, “Somewhere we haven’t eaten before.”

    “So most of the city?”

    “At least we have options.”

    Charlotte thought it over for a second.

    “Sure, as long as you don’t get us arrested again…” Charlotte joked.

    “No promises.”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****
    When Dylan walked over to the battleground, he was expecting to see Jon there. What he wasn’t expecting was Jon to be sitting there with a pair of poolside lounge chairs, and Latios hovering next to him. Between the pair of chairs was an esky.

    “You seem a bit too relaxed…” Dylan called out, as Jon waved him over.

    “Yeah, I figure why not?” Jon said, “We both know that you came here originally to get away from home, not because you particularly cared about battling.”

    “I mean, I do now…” Dylan replied as he sat on the chair next to Jon’s. Jon reached into the esky, offering Dylan a beer, as he took one for himself.

    “I know you do, but your talents lie elsewhere. You’re more passionate about raising Pokemon than battling them, aren’t you?” Jon said, as he opened his can.

    “You’re not wrong…”

    “Don’t get me wrong, you’ve improved heaps, and I think if battling is something you wanted to do long term, you could go up with the best of them.” Jon said, “But if it’s our last session for the summer, and you aren’t really that keen on battling, why not just relax and have a beer? You’re an adult now, so I won’t get into trouble for giving you one.”

    Dylan grinned at Jon’s reasoning. He was right. He much preferred raising Pokemon to battling them, and had a knack for knowing what Pokemon needed. A cold beer on a sunny afternoon between friends was definitely how he would rather spend his last official day.

    “So you’re probably wondering what I will have you doing next summer?” Jon asked, as Dylan took a sip of his drink.

    “A little.” Dylan replied, “This is a battling academy, and we are both well aware I am more suited doing other things.”

    “A good trainer needs to know how to raise their Pokemon well.” Jon explained, “Ideally, I’d actually want you to run the Raising Pokemon classes next summer, if you’re up to it.”

    Dylan had mixed feelings about the idea.

    “I’m not the best at public speaking…” Dylan said quietly.

    “That’s okay, you can learn.” Jon said, “Nobody is an expert overnight. And if we get to next summer and you’re still not comfortable, I will handle the classes and find something else for you to do. But regardless, I want you to help me rewrite that curriculum. I was supposed to be the teacher this year, but from the start you had a better idea of that class than I did.”

    “I really didn’t.” Dylan explained, “I knew some of the more specific stuff from my last job, but that didn’t really help much until you taught us the basics.”

    “Regardless, the curriculum could do with your experience and input.” Jon explained, “We will work on that during the year, and if we have a few short term camps or incursions, I will use them to get you ready to teach during summer. Deal?”

    “Deal…” Dylan replied, surprised at how excited he was at the chance of potentially teaching next summer alongside Jon.

    Latios was hovering upside-down, soaking in the sun's rays. Jon seemed to have an idea, and retreated to his own thoughts. Finally he spoke.

    “Do you reckon Latios could have a beer?” Jon asked, “He is an adult, I just don’t know if it would be bad for him…”

    Dylan flipped the can around, reading the ingredients, as Latios looked at the pair curiously.

    ”Malt, Yeast, Hops.” Dylan read out, “The malt is there for the yeast to ferment it, and the yeast is there to ferment the hops and create the alcohol. The hops are just there to flavor it so it isn’t too sweet from the malt…”

    Dylan quickly thought back to the work he did in the PokeFood store. He had seen food for Dragon and Psychic type Pokemon containing Malt or Hops, and a lot of bread-style foods that used yeast to rise. He also looked at Latios. Whilst the Pokemon only weighed about sixty kilograms, he was two meters tall, and had lots of muscle. He would probably have more blood than the average human male, and a higher ratio of muscle to fat as well.

    “The ingredients themselves will be safe.” Dylan said, “There is a slight chance he won’t react well to the alcohol, but this is pretty weak considering the size of him. One should be fine…”

    Jon looked at Latios, before getting another can out of the esky.

    “What do you think, Latios?” Jon asked, “Wanna take the risk and try a beer?”

    Latios cried out happily, as Jon opened the can, passing it up to the large Dragon Pokemon.

    “Just maybe hold off using any Psychic abilities for a few hours, until it’s out of your system…” Dylan warned.

    “Good call.”

    As they sat quietly, enjoying the beer and eachothers company, Latios seeming to really enjoy the beer, Dylan spoke up.

    “So this was the first summer the Academy ran.” Dylan asked, “How did it go from your perspective?”

    “I had one kid nearly freeze to death in the second or third week, another push herself too hard and nearly kill one of her Pokemon, another have her dad pass away, and find out from the news because another had taken her phone. Then had another come back from a home visit a little beaten up. As well as three students arrested, and an attack on the academy as revenge by a students psychotic cousin that I p**sed off last year…” Jon said over casually, “Safe to say, I couldn’t have seen this coming…”

    Dylan chuckled as he continued drinking his beer.

    “But honestly, I see how much you have all grown this summer, how strong and driven you have become…” Jon continued, “I’d say this summer, in it’s own f**ked up way, was a success.”

    “Here’s to next summer not being anywhere near that eventful.” Dylan replied, holding his can towards Jon.

    “Cheers.” Jon said, clinking his can against Dylan and Latios’ before finishing it.

    “Next year will be interesting, I will tell you that much.” Jon explained, “But I will tell you more when I tell everyone else…”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****
    Victini’s eyes lit up when he saw Abbee enter the lodge from where he sat on the dining room table. However, as much as he enjoyed Abbee’s company, the reaction wasn’t to her, but the large flat box she was holding.

    “Lunch is here.” she called out.

    When she arrived back for lunch, she heard Chris and Charlotte decide to go and get lunch in the city, and whilst she kind of liked the idea of doing something special for lunch, she also wanted to savour the last days she’d have at the Eon Academy, at least until next year. She compromised, ordering a pizza for her and Victini to share, much to Victini’s approval. She placed the pizza box down, opening it so Victini could grab himself a slice, while she went to the kitchen to grab some cans of soft drink. Once she sat down, she grabbed herself a slice of pizza, as she spoke to Victini.

    “So summer is just about over…” She said as Victini finished his first slice. The little guy’s appetite shocked Abbee at times.

    “It is. You remember the deal?”

    “I remember.” Abbee said smiling, “When summer is over, we make the call. Whether we stick together as partners, or whether we go our separate ways.”

    Victini went quiet hearing this, as he chewed his second slice of pizza.

    “Abbee, before we go and make that sort of decision, there is something you need to know.” Victini explained, “Something that has to remain a secret, and now I know I can trust you, I think you need to know before making this sort of decision…”

    Victini almost seemed nervous, which surprised Abbee. His chipper and upbeat attitude had been a godsend during her darker days since she lost her Dad. This was new.

    “Whatever it is, you can tell me.” Abbee said, “Whatever this secret is, I know you had good reason for keeping it, so I don’t think it will change what I think we should do after summer is over…”

    “Well, the truth is…” Victini began, before taking a breath, ”Cass, my old partner… She didn’t actually die…”

    Abbee’s eyes widened hearing this. Whilst in the wake of their deaths there were rumors it was a hoax, eventually all but the most persistent conspiracy theories started to die off, and it was common knowledge that the Diamond Ladies died in the fire. Laws were made because of them, with the hate they received online, and what it led to. Or in this case, appeared to lead to.

    “When Jon brought in Cassandra, Violet and Jarena, the deal he made with them was that he would vouch for them, and try to get a reduced punishment, if they came quietly, and took whatever punishment the league gave them. They agreed to it, and Jon proposed a pretty intense cover-up. However they knew that if the truth got out, life as they knew it was over, and made a pact that if things got bad, they would give it all up, turn themselves back into Pokemon and live out the rest of their lives that way.” Victini explained, “Lance and his guys betrayed the league and made the cover-up near impossible, so the truth got out. They tried their hardest to move on with life, but the world wouldn’t let them. The world insisted on making them pay for what they did, and it got to the point where Violet’s Pokemon were stolen from her…”

    “That’s horrible…”

    “So they went with their plan B. They faked their deaths and turned themselves into Pokemon.” Victini explained, “And now, they found a place where they belong, and are doing a world of good to make up for what they did before…”

    “Does Jon know?” Abbee asked, however was pretty certain she knew the answer, “He said himself he was friends with them after everything wound down, and should know...”

    “He didn’t believe they had died. He knew it would take more than a coward’s arson attack to off them. But he understood why they did it, so didn’t try to intervene…” Victini explained, “Then about eight or nine months ago now, something came up in Hoenn, and Steven needed Jon to do something for him off the books, without the League getting involved. It was a pretty desperate situation, so Jon had Latios go and find Cassandra, to ask for her help.”

    “What sort of situation…”

    “Jon would kill me if he knew I told you this, because if it gets out, he could be declared an enemy of the state…” Victini explained, “The military had upset Rayquaza, and it was causing problems with aircraft in the south Hoenn area…”

    “I remember seeing that on the news…” Abbee explained, “A passenger plane had to land?”

    “The military wanted to try and kill Rayquaza because of it, and Steven objected. However if Steven did anything, or got the League involved, the military would have interfered, so he asked Jon and Cass to go and catch Rayquaza…”

    Abbee looked at Victini in shock hearing that revelation.

    “Latios found me on his way back from finding Cass, so I joined them. Then Jon and Cass teamed up to battle Rayquaza, and Latios and I took it down, so Jon could catch it.” Victini explained, “After that, Cass returned to her new home, and I started travelling again. But you can’t tell anyone about Rayquaza. Jon would be arrested and thrown into some government prison if the truth got out…”

    “So Jon has had Rayquaza the entire time we have been here…” Abbee whispered to Victini, who nodded.

    “Those are the secrets I have been keeping from you.” Victini explained “I told you now because really, I do want to be your partner, and stay with you, but it’s not fair for me to ask that sort of bond when I am keeping so much hidden…”

    “Thank you for telling me.” Abbee replied with a smile, “And if anything, hearing about all this, you taking down Rayquaza, makes me want to be your partner even more...”

    Victini grinned from ear to ear, before digging back into his slice of pizza. Once he and Abbee finished lunch, he would let her use a Pokeball on him, and it would be official.

    The start of another adventure.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****
    Dylan and Jon finished their beers about ten minutes before Justin was due to start training with Jon. Dylan made his way back to the lodge, as Jon removed the evidence of the relaxed training session, though fully aware that they had it in full view of most of the property.

    Justin arrived, and the pair had their training match, however after only half an hour, Jon decided to wrap it up. There was little another half hour was going to do for Justin’s battling, and he was curious to see what Justin’s plans were for the next nine months, possibly longer if he decided not to come back.

    When Jon asked Justin what he wanted to do between now and next summer, Justin seemed slightly surprised.

    “I kind of have an idea, but also don’t, if that makes sense.” Justin explained.

    “It doesn’t at all, but go on.” Jon joked.

    Justin took a moment to arrange his thoughts.

    “It took the whole phone thing with Abbee to realize just how much I gotta get my s**t together, and actually take life a bit more seriously.” Justin explained, “And I feel like I have a little since, but part of me is scared that the moment I leave here, and don’t have those sorts of expectations placed on me, I’m just going to go back to the way I was a month ago…”

    Jon nodded, understanding what he was saying.

    “So I want to set myself some sort of challenge between now and next summer. Something that I can come back here in nine months, knowing I have improved as a person. That I actually stand a chance of making a difference, you know?” Justin said, “I have something in mind. It will be stupid hard, and I may be dreaming a bit, but if I can pull it off, it will be game-changing…”

    Jon found himself grinning from ear to ear hearing this. Justin’s biggest hurdle when he arrived was not wanting to apply himself, or take anything seriously. Now he was setting a goal for the sole purpose of challenging himself, and proving to himself he has made progress.

    “Am I allowed to know what this challenge is?” Jon asked.

    “I think I might keep it a secret for now…” Justin explained, “If I tell you it will be too tempting for me to ask for your help, when really, that would be a cop out. Besides, I think you will enjoy seeing the result of it if I can pull this off…”

    “Can I take it based on the way you’re talking that you will be back next year?” Jon asked, “You’ve made a lot of progress, but I think you have a lot of untapped potential.”

    “Does an Ursaring s**t in the woods?” Justin asked, “I will definitely be back. Too much has happened this summer for me not to be…”

    “Well Justin, I’m sure whatever this challenge you’re setting yourself is, you will do more than you expect.” Jon said, putting his hand on Justin’s shoulder, “You’ve done well getting this far, and in all honesty, the sky’s the limit.”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****
    It was noon the next day when the young trainers found themselves waiting at the battleground for Jon, preparing for what they knew was coming. The final battle for the summer, to see how far they’d come.

    When Jon arrived, they seemed somewhat on edge, which caused him to grin.

    “So you all came here prepared to do the same battles we did on Day Zero?” Jon asked, “Truth is, I don’t think we need to.”

    “Wait, what?” Charlotte asked almost instinctively, having prepared herself mentally for another battle with Chris.

    “Why not?” Chris asked, “Don’t you want to see how far we’ve come this summer?”

    “Why would I need you guys to battle to do that?” Jon asked, “I’ve spent countless hours working with each and every one of you this summer. I don’t need to see you battle to see how much you’ve grown. Besides, a battle wouldn’t show all the ways you have…”

    “Huh…” Chris said out loud, as he understood what Jon had said.

    “Don’t get me wrong, if you’re all back here next year, I will be making you battle on Day Zero like we did this summer, and I expect to see a hell of a lot of improvement between now and then.” Jon explained, “What I’ve tried to do is equip you to be able to improve without me. That doesn’t mean there isn’t merit in what I have to say, but more so you have just as much potential to improve between now and next summer as you did this summer, or will next.”

    “So why call us here then?” Abbee asked.

    “To throw you a curveball before I give some news…” Jon explained.

    “You remember one of the reasons we ran the live-stream the other week?” Jon asked, “I had a stake in it too…”

    “You wanted to promote the Eon Academy…” Justin replied.

    “Well I can safely say it worked…” Jon said, “I have already got twelve people registered and paid for next summer, and about fifteen who seem very interested. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had forty people here next year…”

    “S**t…” Chris exclaimed, hearing the numbers, “How the hell will you run a program like that here?”

    “The monastery itself still has a lot of work to be done. I ran the program this year with a limited number of openings to test run it, and even though we had some pretty big hiccups, they were circumstantial and I’d say the program itself was a success.” Jon explained, “There are still another two rooms in the main monastery that can be turned into classrooms like the one we have been using all year, so classes can run simultaneously, and the actual hall itself has enough space that we could section it off into a dining hall, kitchen and common room. As for sleeping arrangements, there is enough interest that I can apply for grants from the League to cover the cost of building two lodges. They won’t be as nice as the main one you guys were in, but will instead have five rooms in each, sleeping six people, so facilities won’t be a problem…”

    “The biggest hurdle will be staff.” Jon explained, “Some of you may know, Dylan will be staying here, and coming on to staff. He will generally be a second pair of hands, but I also hope to tap into his talents. I’d love to see him take over the raising Pokemon Class, since he seems to have a better understanding of it than I do…”

    Abbee cheered, as Dylan looked to the floor embarrassed at the attention.

    “What I am currently thinking, is having a few camp interns.” Jon explained, “People who are attending, are a little older, and have their head screwed on straight. They would have a small group of trainers assigned to them, that they keep an eye on. Help with adjusting to life here, giving advice and training to the younger campers, and helping keep this place running smoothly when we have potentially forty people running around. They would still be students here, and the focus would be for them to learn what they can, but that would be through both teaching and learning themselves.”

    “And honestly, if the four of you are interested, I’d love to have you on board. It would be a job, so you would attend for free, and get paid for it.” Jon explained, “But you have all proven to me how much you have to offer, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have helping make this place run than the four of you.”

    Abbee looked at Jon shocked at what he had just offered. More shocked than her was Justin. Chris was the first to speak.

    “S**t, I’d be down…” Chris said in disbelief.

    “You know you’d have to not swear in front of the younger kids…” Charlotte retorted.

    “Oh s**t, you’re right.” Chris replied, before realizing what he had just said, “F**k…”

    Jon burst into laughter at the exchange.

    “I’m in too.” Charlotte explained, “I was going to be coming back anyway, but this settles it. Paid job to be here? Brilliant!”

    “I’m so in…” Abbee said with a grin, “You guys have helped me heaps this summer, and I want to be able to return the favor, even if it’s paying it forward…”

    Justin was the only one to be silent.

    “What about you Justin?” Chris asked, “Got somewhere better to be?”

    “No, it’s not that…” Justin said, still sounding unsure, “This sounds great, but are you sure you want me doing that? I only started taking this seriously three weeks ago…”

    “And since then, you’ve proved what you’re capable of, both on and off the battlefield.” Jon replied, “Besides, if you do need a kick up the a**, this will be the perfect position for me to do that. So yeah, I really want you to take this if this is what you want.”

    “Then I’m in too.” Justin said, “I’ll come back next year, better than ever.”

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****
    It was mid morning when Jon and Alyssa found themselves in the partially renovated hall of the monastery. Steven had joined them as well, wanting to say goodbye to the young trainers who would be departing until next summer. One by one the trainers made their way into the hall, carrying their belongings. Naturally, Charlotte was first, followed very closely by Chris. Dylan and Abbee came in together a little while later, with Justin the last to join them.

    Eventually, others started to arrive. First was Tyler, who Alyssa pointed out to Jon as Abbee’s older brother, who was now her guardian. He seemed taken by surprise by the hug that Abbee gave him upon seeing him, before waving to Alyssa, who walked over to say hello.

    Charlotte’s parents arrived next, as Charlotte awkwardly left the group to greet. Justin’s Dad arrived, who after reuniting with Justin, began making small talk with Charlotte’s parents, to her relief, as it allowed her to go back to spending time with the other young trainers.

    The last to arrive was a young woman in her mid twenties that Jon recognized.

    “Wait…” Chris said as he realized who it was, “What is she doing here?”

    “That’s Clair?” Charlotte asked, as Chris nodded. Clair noticed Chris, and nodded at him, before making her way intently towards Jon.

    “Oh s**t…” Chris muttered, and Charlotte remembered the conversation she and Chris had very early on. Chris’ family were torn as to whether to support or cut ties with Lance. Clair was of the opinion that Lance was unfairly imprisoned, and Jon was the real villain.

    “Jon Drake.” She called out intently, as she walked over to him.

    “The one and only.” Jon retorted, “If I’m not mistaken, you’re Clair from Blackthorn City.”

    “I am…”

    “Oh s**t…” Chris said slightly louder, as he quickly walked towards Clair and Jon, “Clair, what’s going on?”

    “I just wanted to talk to Jon…” Clair said, not looking away from Jon.

    “It’s fine Chris.” Jon said, as he looked back at Clair, who was silent for a second before speaking.

    “For what it’s worth, on behalf of my family, I wanted to apologize for Lance’s actions, and for continuing to support him through the last year…”

    Chris looked at Clair in shock. The last time they had spoken, it was Clair telling him he would be dead to her if he went to Jon Drake’s school, and that Lance was family and that they had to stand by him regardless. That Lance did what needed to be done, and Jon was wrong for trying to cover everything up and stop Lance.

    “Lance was our family's greatest accomplishment, and when he fell from grace, it was easier for us to believe that he was some sort of martyr, and you were the villain.” Clair explained, “But then we heard what happened with Chris in that cave, and how you rescued him, and saw how much he had grown during the live-stream, and how much he was enjoying himself, as well as Lance ordering the attack on the academy even though Chris was here, and it became painfully clear that he was lost, and we were causing more harm than anything else by holding this grudge.”

    “On behalf of my family, I wanted to offer our apologies, and our thanks for training Chris the last three months.” Clair concluded, leaving Chris dumbstruck.

    “I appreciate it.” Jon replied, “Truth is, the situation with Lance on the S.S. Wishmaker was messy. I certainly could have handled it better, however I find little good comes out of dwelling on what could have been instead. It takes a lot to say something like that and both yourself and Chris have proven that we aren’t shackled by the people we call family.”

    Noticing the time, Jon gathered everyone around to address his students for the last time this summer.

    “I am where I am now because fifteen years ago, my grandfather, a competitive battler by the name of Jack Mason, saw in me a passion to battle…”

    Abbee thought the name seemed familiar, and after a second remembered where she had heard it. Her Dad, Richard, had mentioned that growing up, when he would watch the local competitions in Goldenrod City, there was a trainer there who battled in a way so out of the ordinary that nobody knew how to combat it. His focus was on tactics and synergy more than type advantages, something that was unheard of at the time. Whilst he didn’t leave Goldenrod, and wasn’t overly well known outside of the city, Jack Mason was an inspiration for Richard to start battling. He is Jon’s grandfather?

    “He saw this dream that I had to become stronger alongside my Pokemon, and conquer whatever found itself before me, and invested in me. His time, his skill, his experience. And I don’t know where I would be if not for that. So when the idea came to mind of starting my own program, it seemed like the best thing I could do as a trainer.” Jon explained, “I started off small, only having five open slots, and being intentional about the trainers I gave them to, while we did a bit of a test-run of the summer program.”

    “And in these twelve weeks, I have seen these five trainers, all strong in their own right, grow in their own strength, both personal and in terms of battling. They have learnt to think outside of the box, and be creative with how they approach the walls that block their path. They have seen their own weakness, and found a way to move past it. They have become driven, and conquered whatever has been put in their path.”

    “The next year will come with it’s own challenges and obstacles.” Jon said, “But each person here has proven to themselves, and proven to me, that they can overcome them, and I have faith that I will see each of them here next year, flying higher than they ever thought possible.”

    “Among the hurdles, it has been an absolute joy to run my first summer program with the five of you.” Jon said directly to the five trainers, “And I know whatever you find yourself doing over the next nine months, you will do it well. Better than well. I hope to see you all next summer.”

    There was a round of applause started enthusiastically by Chris. Once that died down though, everyone knew it was time to start saying goodbyes. Jon, Alyssa and Steven all made a point of saying goodbye to each of the young trainers, before they had to leave. Chris was the first to go, making a point of telling Charlotte he would see her at the next tournament, and to not get knocked out before they could battle each other. Justin was the next to leave, telling Jon he would be in touch, especially if he pulled off this challenge had had been thinking over, and eventually Charlotte left after, hugging Abbee and telling her to come visit Sinnoh sometime.

    Eventually it was only Abbee and Victini who were yet to go home. Alyssa gave Abbee a tight hug, telling her and Tyler they are more than welcome to come visit, understanding how lonely it will probably get for them now. As she did, Jon got Victini’s attention, briefly tapping on his temple.

    “What’s up?” Victini asked.

    “It goes without saying, because I know you will, but take good care of her.” Jon replied with his thoughts, to which Victini nodded.

    Jon and Dylan said their goodbyes to Abbee before her, Tyler and Victini all left, Abbee teary having to say goodbye for now. Once they were gone, Jon sighed, slightly surprised that the summer was already over, before turning to Dylan.

    “When you can, you should bring your stuff up to the house.” Jon explained.

    “You want me in the house with you guys?” Dylan asked, slightly surprised.

    “Well I don’t want to leave the power turned on for the entire lodge for one person…” Jon said jokingly, “What, will we cramp your style?”

    “No, not at all.” Dylan replied, “I am just a little surprised. I’ll go get my things so you aren’t burning too much electricity waiting for me…”

    Steven snorted at Dylan’s quip, as Alyssa called Jon a cheapa**.

    “You’ve done well this summer Jon.” Steven explained, “Given what has happened, very well.”

    “Well enough to secure more League funding?” Jon asked, “I’m gonna need it with the amount of people signing up for next year.”

    “Officially, it is being processed, but between us, you’re clear.” Steven said, “So what do the next nine months look like for you?”

    “I’d like to take a few weeks off and just unwind.” Jon said, “But after that, I have my work cut out for me. I need this place to be ready for next summer, and gotta make sure I’m improving as much as they are. I can’t expect to be taken seriously if they come back next year and beat me on the first day…”

    “You think they would?” Steven asked, slightly surprised.

    “It’s not likely, but they’ve all surprised me this summer in one way or another…” Jon replied, “God knows what they will be like when I see them next…”


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  5. #33
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. Desolate Divine's Avatar
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    And last Official episode of season 1 is posted! Currently planning Season 2, however because there are things before next summer I want to cover for all characters, I will be writing two Epilogues for Season 1 (Probably one about Dylan and Abbee, and one about Justin), and then two Prologue's for Season 2 (One about Jon, and one about Chris and Charlotte). So I estimate Season 2 officially starting is about two to three weeks away.

  6. #34
    Cheers and Good Times! Neo Emolga's Avatar
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    I love the part with Latios having a beer. I got such a kick out of that! And boy do I have a list of recommendations if he's ever looking for some (as someone with Belgian heritage, I feel it's my duty). And there was something about Jon fist-crunching Bill's nose that was just so... damn... satisfying. The whole time, I was like "do it... do it... do it... YES!!!" That's our Jon!

    Without a doubt, this has been a great ride, awesome story, leagues above even published novels I've come across. The way you develop your characters and intertwine them into a cohesive and intriguing storyline is fantastic and very well-done. I also felt this was a great way to wrap up Season 1 and I like how it gives closure to the season, but it's not the very end, and the way Jon has been treating and protecting these teens is fantastic. Definitely a great role model, even if his methods aren't traditional. The dude's got great street smarts and intuition.

    Two thumbs up. :3

  7. #35
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. Desolate Divine's Avatar
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    Latios drinking a beer was a thought that came completely off the top of my head as I wrote that section. I had always referenced Dylan being a natural when it comes to raising Pokemon, but never really knew how to elaborate on that, and when I had the idea, I realized how easy it was to write in, and use it to flesh out Dylan's character a little more. And as for Jon breaking Bill's face, Dylan being abused was something I had planned from the beginning, however I originally was going to have Jon go to Bill's house after finding out, wanting to beat him senseless, but instead decide to warn him to stay away and show a lot of restraint, kinda grow a bit. Then I decided that Bill needed to be given a reason to leave Dylan alone, and Jon would try and be reasonable but when his options were exhausted, do only what he needed to, Jon style. I also didn't plan on having Bill spit, until I remembered Victini was watching, and what happened to Cassandra when she turned that operative whose name I can't remember back. It just worked haha

    Really appreciate the praise! I think the way I have intertwined the storylines stems a lot from making a point of planning this more than I usually would, and in all honesty, the only reason I did that is because I was in a class I didn't want to be in, and instead of taking notes like a good student, I was brainstorming long term plot points and how I could link them together. For example, Justin taking Abbee's phone was intended to blow up when Abbee's dad dies from the very beginning, and that be the motivator for him to take a long hard look at himself.

    It's also been fun working Jon in a very different and unique set of circumstances. As someone who works with teenagers myself in a mentor sort of role, it is definitely interesting and comes with its own sets of challenges and expectations that you don't have if you're their school teacher or parent. Being able to write a character in those circumstances from my own experience has been a lot of fun.

    Really, I'm glad to be writing again. I'd love to at some point get something original published, but I need to find the time to work on that, and to do it well, which I had all but lost in recent years. I could never get this published, since it's Nintendo IP and to make it work without it would rip the heart and soul from it, but maybe this could be a stepping stone to writing something else that does. Who knows...

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  9. #36
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. Desolate Divine's Avatar
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    Side-Story/Epilogue: The Challenge
    Spoiler:

    Chapter 1
    So really, the probability of rolling a six sided die six times, and counting from one to six, is the exact same probability as rolling six six times in a row. Roughly one in forty-six thousand…”

    Justin vaguely listened as he looked through webpages on his laptop, careful not to click the mouse too hard. He had told his teacher that he had it with him to use a digital copy of the textbook, but he really was clicking far too much on it to simply be reading a textbook, and if he got caught, he wouldn’t be able to talk his way out.

    It was early December, with school only having about three weeks left before it would take three weeks for Christmas and New Years break. Justin was lucky with the way the days lined up this year. Whilst his last day was supposed to be the 23rd, the 23rd was a Monday and the school was well aware that no student would show up for a Monday only for it to be the last day. Additionally, he was supposed to return to school on the 2nd of January, however that was going to be a Friday, which the school also realized nobody would show up for. So instead of getting a nine day break, he was getting seventeen days, and there was a lot planned for those seventeen days.

    During his final days at the Eon Academy, he had mentioned to Jon wanting to set a challenge for himself to accomplish before he returned next summer. Something to prove to those around him, and more so to himself that he had grown, and that he could actually amount to something as a trainer and a person. At the time he had an idea, though he wasn’t sure how realistic of a challenge it would be, as it would be extremely difficult, however he also didn’t want to set something too easy that six months down the track he doubts himself again.

    The idea he had was to track down and capture a Legendary Pokemon. Not just any, but one that would suit his style of battling. His Pokemon hit hard, and hit fast, and if he wanted something fast. Faster even than his Ninjask. The problem was, there wasn’t any known currently.

    Whilst Latios could reach top speeds of Mach 4, it’s reaction time, as well as acceleration was not much better than a Raichu. Justin had learnt this first hand battling Jon’s. In terms of Legendary Pokemon, there were none at least none with available information, that were faster than his Ninjask. Justin found this out within the first week of being home and back at school. So he began digging deeper.

    He had so far been limiting his search to Legendary Pokemon that had been captured by trainers, and by extension had a lot more known about them. However there were dozens of Legendary Pokemon that, as the name suggests, existed only in myth and legend, never being captured, some not being recorded as seen in recent history, only existing in ancient documents recovered from ruined civilizations, or cave paintings.

    Knowing he needed to narrow down his search, Justin thought over everything he knew, and remembered something Jon had taught him during class. Something he was surprised he remembered seeing as for the majority of the summer in Mossdeep City, he wasn’t paying enough attention.

    ”In terms of speed, generally speaking, flying types tend to be the fastest, followed closely by electric types. If you find yourself battling either, and you aren’t sure whether your Pokemon is faster, chances are it isn’t...”

    He already had a flying type in his team, however an electric type would benefit him greatly. Whilst Alakazam could handle the odd Thunder Punch attack to dispose of any water or flying types, an electric Pokemon would round out his team very well.

    So if Justin were to catch a legendary Pokemon faster than his Ninjask, mathematically speaking, it was most likely going to be a flying type or electric type. Flying would not work, so instead he would focus on researching myths and legends surrounding electric type Pokemon.

    Raikou had been seen recently, and a few times temporarily captured by a Pokemon Ranger that had taken a liking to it, and from what he had seen and heard of that, Justin determined whilst it was fast, it wasn’t fast enough.

    Zapdos was another well known candidate, however slower than Raikou. Unova region had myths about a legendary Electric-Dragon called Zekrom, however based on the illustrations that Justin had seen, it’s bulk made it impossible for it to be fast enough.

    It was an accident really, that Justin found the lead that would put him down the path he was on. He had actually given up on his search for finding a faster Pokemon, having found no indication of other Legendary Electric Pokemon in his research, and was thinking what else his team needed. A wall to take any attack and wear out his opponent. Knowing Steel types and Rock types were best suited to taking hits, and knowing he already had a steel type in Lucario, and a Rock Type could cover some weaknesses in his team, he began researching Rock type Legendary Pokemon and found an interview with the head of the Battle Pyramid in the Hoenn Battle Frontier, showing his battle team of Legendary Pokemon, Regirock, Regice and Registeel.

    Upon further investigation, Justin learnt that these three Pokemon were three of the most common Legendary Pokemon, having been associated with Hoenn, Sinnoh and Unova. Brandon had captured the three of them from various locations in Hoenn, which meant that if there were only one of each in the regions they were associated with, catching a Hoenn-native Regirock was off the table.

    During one of his many late nights spent researching the topic, Justin had come across a thesis written recently by a university student in Sinnoh, researching Pokemon Mythology, specifically the mythology surround the Legendary Pokemon, Regigigas, the only record of its existence being a statue in the basement of Snowpoint City. The legends spoke of it creating titans in its image from the materials of the earth. Rock, Ice and Steel. This student, Lauren Mendez, had a theory that the lore was incomplete, and whilst no record of these beings currently exists, Regigigas may have created more titans, possibly even more dangerous than the trio detailed in legend, that they took more care into sealing away and hiding the existence of.

    Justin reached out to Lauren, a woman in her early to mid twenties at Jubilife University, curious to hear more of what she had to say. She had two reasons for her theory.

    The first being the intention behind the creation of the trio of titans Regigigas created. Having been given permission by Brandon to research his three Legendary Pokemon, she made a discovery that shocked her. Whilst they had different strengths, the three Pokemon themselves were perfectly equal. Whilst Regirock could defend from physical attacks exceptionally well, Regice performed identically as well as Regirock when defending against special attacks, to the exact same decimal point. Every controlled test she had performed on their durability between physical and special attacks, they had performed identically, albeit, invertedly. Meanwhile Registeel was equally resistant to both types of attacks, however seemed to split exactly down the middle in terms of durability to them, almost as if averaging the defense of the other two.

    The second theory was to do with the patterns on their faces. The three titans Brandon had in his possession had seven dots on each of their faces, lined up in a different pattern, as did the statue of Regigigas. However, in her research, Lauren had discovered recordings of other seven-dot patterns in ancient texts and art, different to all four of the known Legendary Pokemon she was researching. Most of these texts and sites were linked to the Galar Region.

    Lauren’s theory was that Regigigas could have made at least a dozen titans before being sealed away. If the three titans in Brandon’s possession were created pedantically to meet a standard in defensive capabilities, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that Reigigas made others. The most obvious being another trio with that same trait in attack. One that excels in physical attacks, one that excels that exact same amount in special attacks, and a third that is the average of the first two. Or even one meticulously designed to be as quick as the Hoenn Trio are durable. And if more Regi-titans did exist, these seven dot patterns were the key to finding them. It was late September when Justin first reached out to Lauren and the pair spoke in great length over the subject. She was days away from meeting up with her brother, Andrew, who would act as her security, whilst the pair went on an expedition to an area in the south end of the Galar Region known as the Crown Tundra.

    Galar itself has a long history, however it is only in recent decades that it has become viable for people to travel between Central Galar and the Crown Tundra, as technology advanced allowing railways to be built between them over the hazardous terrain that separates them. The two areas are separated by high and hazardous mountain ranges, with the only safe passage being down the west coast, where about twenty-five years ago, they finally built a railway to allow easy and safe passage.

    Due to how cold and largely uninhabited the Crown Tundra is, much of it remains undiscovered, and Lauren’s research seemed to indicate that at least Regice, Regirock and Registeel were there, and potentially undiscovered Regi-Titans as well. So with Andrew to escort her, she had spent the last two months there, trying to discover what she could. And in that time, her theory was all but confirmed. They discovered four sets of ruins, all supernaturally sealed, and all displaying upon their entrances, seven dot patterns. Three of the temples had patterns identical to those on the faces of the Hoenn Regi-Trio, whilst the fourth seemed to be two temples mixed into one. Split exactly down the middle, one side was made of one material, and the other made of something else. Above each half were two seven dot patterns, both Lauren had seen before in other resources, but not affiliated with the Regi-titans in Hoenn, which confirmed her suspicions. Now all she needed was to see this unknown titan. At least, see it with her own eyes, and eye witnesses. Preferably, get photo evidence of its existence. However, if somebody captured it, that would be the dream. She would have opportunities to study the Pokemon, and learn more about it. There was a catch, however…

    Lauren had taken note of the text inscribed on each of the doors of the four temples. Whilst they were in an ancient dialect, she was able to translate. The doors leading to what she was certain was Regirock, Regice and Registeel all could open independently. They had instructions, and she had a pretty good idea on how to open them. The only reason she didn’t was for safety reasons. Each of these Pokemon is powerful, and whilst Andrew himself was strong enough to hold off most wild Pokemon, they didn’t know whether he could hold off a Legendary Pokemon on his own, and whilst the doors were sealed, they would be safe. However, the door to the fourth temple, the one she estimated contained two Regi-titans, had different instructions.

    ”When gather the Three Giants, the Door of Destiny shall be opened…”

    Even Justin realized as he read the update Lauren had sent him that this door would not open without bringing Registeel, Regice and Regirock to the temple, which would require capturing the three of them. Whilst they didn’t know for certain whether it had to be the three titans specifically in the other three temples, and that Brandon couldn’t open the door with his three, they didn’t want to take the risk of wasting time by getting him there and realizing they had to capture the three already in Galar.

    So Lauren made a proposition. Over the Christmas and New Year break, when people were available enough to be recruited, they would expand their expedition team. A team of five or six people that could safely breach the ruins, and capture the titans.

    Having been told early on about Justin’s summer being trained under Jon Drake, Lauren invited him to join her and Andrew in Galar, as well as her childhood friend, Candice, the Gym Leader of Snowpoint City. Andrew was happy to capture Regirock, and Candice would be willing to take responsibility for Regice. Whilst Registeel would make a solid addition to Justin’s team, he would have to change his whole style of battling. He had never battled with a designated tank, and the more he thought about it, and the possibilities of the unknown titans that could be hidden in the fourth set of ruins, the more he wanted to take the risk, and see what was there. So they needed somebody to be willing to capture and train the Steel titan.

    Lauren, Andrew and Candice all couldn’t think of who to ask. Candice had approached Byron of Canalave City, however he had declined joining the expedition party. It wasn’t until a few evenings earlier that Justin had an idea of who could be a good fit, sending an email, and waiting for a response.

    That was three nights ago. Justin sat in the classroom, clicking refresh on his emails, and periodically checking his spam folder for a response. Whilst he had faith the candidate would reply, it still didn’t stop him from being anxious over the possibility of them not. He was the youngest in the expedition party. Candice and Lauren were both in their early to mid twenties, and Andrew a few years older than them. He meanwhile had only just turned seventeen in the month prior, and whilst the Eon Academy’s growing reputation was enough for Lauren to take little convincing, he didn’t want them to feel they had made a mistake involving him. Even if he wasn’t the strongest battler, if he could recruit that fifth member, and it be someone solid, he would know he had been a help more than a hindrance.

    “Justin, based on this, what is the probability of drawing an Ace, Jack, Queen and King of four different suits from a standard deck of cards with no Jokers?”

    His attention was pulled from his laptop, as he noticed Mr. Delaney, his Maths teacher, was speaking to him.

    Justin quickly punched some numbers into his calculator, before speaking. He didn’t need to get the question right, just wrong enough that he was on the right track but made an easy mistake.

    “One in 7.31 million?” Justin asked, hoping his answer was close enough to what it needed to be that it wouldn’t raise too much suspicion.

    “No, that number is from trying to get a specific card, and not accounting for cards being removed. If I asked you for the chances of rolling a 52 sided die and getting one four times in a row, those would be the correct odds.” Mr. Delaney explained, “Firstly there are no order constraints, so you have the probability of drawing any of the four cards in any suite, as sixteen out of fifty two. Then you have now eliminated one type of card and one suite, leaving nine suitable cards in a fifty-one card deck to multiply that by, and so forth. The answer is roughly one in 11.2 thousand…”

    Justin nodded, and breathed a sigh of relief when Mr. Delaney didn’t push any further. As Justin looked back at his laptop, he saw it. The new email, replying to the one he sent days earlier.

    Justin quietly opened the email, reading through it intently.

    ”Hi Justin.

    “I’ve spent the last few nights reading over the research you forwarded me regarding the potential for more Legendary Titan Pokemon, and it has me very intrigued. As Champion of Hoenn, I was completely oblivious to the possibility of there being other Legendary Titan Pokemon that may be sealed away somewhere that Brandon hasn’t found yet. Even if they aren’t revealed in my lifetime, if there is the possibility of something with that sort of power residing in Hoenn, it would be negligent of me to not make sure I am well equipped both in terms of battling power, and understanding, should they reveal themselves during my time as Champion.

    As such, I will happily join this expedition in the Crown Tundra, and attempt to capture Registeel myself. I have booked a flight to Galar in time for the expedition, and will meet you at Wedgehurst Station at 3pm on the afternoon of December 21st. Please inform the rest of the expedition crew that I will be joining them. And don’t worry, I won’t tell Jon about this. If you’re right, and there is a new Legendary Pokemon waiting for you to catch it, I want to see the look on his face when he sees it next summer…

    Kind regards.
    Steven Stone.”


    Justin had met Steven, and spoken to him a few times over the summer he spent in Mossdeep City. Steven had helped Jon run the academy, taking the odd class to give a change of pace, and providing his own insight as to how the students could improve. Whilst he hadn’t spoken to Steven as much as Dylan had, he had hoped Steven would recognize his name if he sent an email, and would give it a second thought. And he was right…

    Justin quickly opened Discord, still on the server he had been using to communicate with Lauren, Andrew and Candice, before he typed out a quick message.

    “I’ve got our fifth. You may have heard of him. A steel type specialist, by the name of Steven Stone. He will be meeting up with myself and Candice in Wedgehurst, and we will arrive at the Crown Tundra station early evening of the twenty-first…”

    Justin pressed send, and a few seconds later, he saw the typing animations under the other three, causing him to grin. They had what they needed to make this expedition a success. It had become a hell of a lot more real…

    Chapter 2
    Justin stood in the cold foyer of Wedgehurst Station, sipping on a warm cup of coffee, though lamented the fact that they made it much better in the cafes back home in Kalos. He had a lot of good things to say about Galar, such as their rail system. Their coffee on the other hand, left a lot to be desired...

    His classes had ended at 3pm the day before, and at 7pm, he was on a flight departing Lumiose Airport, and arrived in Wyndon in mid hours of the morning. Stopping briefly for a late breakfast, he then caught a train from Wyndon Station to Wedgehurst.

    Whilst Wedgehurst was the home of the Pokemon Research Lab in Galar, where new trainers would get their first Pokemon, the town was rural and quiet. It seemed more suited to people wanting to retire to the country, and live out their golden years in a small cottage, with friendly neighbors and a community where everyone knows everyone else's business.

    “Justin!” called out a semi familiar voice, “That’s you right?”

    Justin looked over, and noticed Candice walking towards him. Whilst the pair had never met in person before, they had spoken online and in voice calls in preparation for the expedition. She was probably the one he found easiest to talk to, as Lauren, as friendly as she was, was driven by her research, and Andrew seemed a bit like Dylan. Quiet, but not the sort to mess with. Candice on the other hand reminded him of a slightly hyperactive Rockruff, with how outgoing and friendly she was.

    “Hey, nice to finally meet you.” He called out as Candice came over, and quickly greeted him with a hug, much to his shock.

    “You too!” Candice said, “I can’t believe we are finally in Galar!”

    Her black hair was parted and tied, and she wore a thick and heavy looking light blue jacket over a loose fitting white jumper, as well as a pair of black leggings and a black, beanie, albeit, much fluffier than the sort Jon was always seen wearing.

    “So you were fine to leave the Gym for a few weeks?” Justin asked. Whilst he was still a student, and school was hard to get out of, the perks of it were that it was not like he needed to be there over Christmas. Being a Sinnoh Gym Leader, or in Steven’s case, the Champion of Hoenn, on the other hand, came with year-round responsibilities, that were much harder to get out of.

    “It’ll be fine.” Candice replied cheerfully, “In all honesty, being so late in the sequence, as well as being in such a remote area of Sinnoh means I barely get any challengers when the weather is nice. This time of year when it is basically a blizzard twenty four hours a day, almost nobody comes to battle Snowpoint Gym.”

    Justin had heard about Snowpoint, and their nice weather was worse than this…

    “So if you’re so used to Snowpoint, how is this place by comparison?”

    “It’s gorgeous!” Candice exclaimed, “The only reason I am wearing so many layers was so that I wouldn’t lose them somewhere. If the Crown Tundra is anything like Snowpoint, especially this time of year, I will need them…”

    Justin cringed at the thought of how cold it must be if an Ice-type specialist was commenting on it, however he was pulled from his thoughts when another voice called out his name.

    “Justin, nice to see you again so soon, if not a little surprising.”

    Steven approached, having arrived from another platform, quickly shaking his hand.

    “So I take it Cynthia will be going to the Sinnoh League Christmas Party alone this year?” Candice asked, as Justin processed what she meant. Were Steven and Cynthia a couple?

    “Well because I attended that last year, and missed out on the Hoenn League Christmas Party, she was actually going to be coming to Hoenn this year. So she was okay spending the Christmas at home.” Steven explained, “Besides, if we pull this off, and you wind up with Regice, I think she may even have to consider making Snowpoint the final gym in Sinnoh before the Elite Four.”

    Candice grinned at the thought.

    “Could you imagine the look on Volkner’s face if I got promoted?”

    “I didn’t realize you guys knew each other?” Justin asked.

    “In the life of the Pokemon League, we’d be considered colleagues.” Steven explained, “So we’ve crossed paths a few times since Candice took over as Gym Leader at Snowpoint.”

    “And a bit more since Steven started dating Sinnoh’s Champion…” Candice replied with a grin as Steven rolled his eyes slightly.

    “Come on, we can continue this chat on the train.” Steven explained, “Or not, may I add. I’m happy to get on the train and not talk about my love-life…”

    Candice giggled at Steven’s awkwardness, before the trio made their way to the platform to catch their train to the Crown Tundra.

    The train itself was an older diesel locomotive, as it was difficult enough to lay down the tracks between Central Galar and the Crown Tundra, without accounting for wires above them to power the tracks. Feeling like they had stepped back in time a century, the trio found themselves a cabin, though the carriage itself was near empty. Like Candice had said about Snowpoint City, this time of year, the Crown Tundra wasn’t exactly a tourist hotspot, and Justin questioned whether the train would have even gone there if they hadn’t booked tickets for it.


    “So if all goes to plan, Andrew will be catching Regirock, Candice will be catching Regice, and I will catch Registeel. Then we will take them to the ruins of the unknown titans and you will try and catch whatever is there…” Steven confirmed, “What do you hope to find?”

    “Ideally, something that is as fast as Regirock and Regice are durable to their respective attacks.” Justin explained, “My style of battling has been to hit quickly. Quicker than the other guy. Did you read Lauren’s paper on the design of the Legendary Titans?”

    Steven nodded, as Candice looked uneasy.

    “Listen, if I read every paper Lauren had sent me, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.” Candice explained, “I came because she asked for my help and told me I could catch Regice, and that’s all it took to convince me. So give me the tl:dr.”

    Steven raised his eyebrows.

    “I’m the Hoenn Champion and I found time to read them.” Steven said, “Is Cynthia giving you that much work.”

    “No, it’s more the fact that those papers are so dense, it takes me way too long to read them and make heads or tails. It’s all academic language that non-scholars struggle to understand…”

    “She’s right.” Justin admitted, “I needed her to dumb down some sections to be able to understand the points she was trying to make.”

    “Well, Lauren’s research into Brandon’s Legendary Titans seems to indicate that in terms of defense, they are near the top. Registeel in terms of both physical and special defense, is better than the majority of known Pokemon, and Regirock and Regice are second in terms of physical and special defense respectively, only to one non-Mega evolved Pokemon…”

    “What Pokemon is that if it’s got better defense than them?” Candice asked.

    “Shuckle.”

    Candice’s jaw dropped.

    “You’re kidding…”

    “No really.” Steven explained, “Shuckle has the best defense of any known Pokemon, granted there may be a Legendary Pokemon undiscovered with better, though its attack power is near useless in battle. And second to Shuckle in physical and special defense respectively is Regirock and Regice.”

    “What Lauren’s theory is, is that when these Pokemon were created, they were created super intentionally and pedantically to that specification. Apparently the physical and special defense of Regice and Regirock is identical, just reversed, which is hardly a coincidence.” Justin explained, “Lauren’s theory is that other Regi-titans exist, and if they do, maybe they will have just as strong offensive output as the ones we know of have defensive capabilities…”

    “Or maybe there is one that is the fastest Pokemon to ever exist…” Steven said, realizing where Justin was going. Justin nodded.

    “When I’d battle Jon, I’d be cornered. If I didn’t open with Ninjask, and he sent out Blaziken long enough before I sent out Ninjask, it would have the speed advantage over Ninjask, and Blaziken is already able to do more damage than Ninjask is out the gate. Ninjask is fast, but it isn’t physically strong, so if something is faster than it, it will lose.” Justin explained, “The only way to guarantee Ninjask is the fastest on the field is to risk being hit using Agility, or send it out straight away so it’s own Speed Boost kicks in, and make myself predictable.”

    “I mean, that’s where you struggle to beat Jon, sure, but he is my match in battle…” Steven explained, “Should losing to one trainer be the reason to go and undertake something like this?”

    “Is Jon really that strong?” Candice asked, “You make him sound like some sort of demon…”

    Justin opened his phone, and found the live-stream, quickly skipping forward to Jon’s double battle with Steven, where Blaziken took down Aggron, before using one of Latios’ invisible barriers as a springboard to take down Metagross.

    “Goddamn…” Candice said with shock, “He is a demon…”

    “Jon’s biggest strength is his ingenuity.” Steven explained, “My Pokemon are just as strong as his, if not stronger, and he has Latios in his corner. But he doesn’t follow the trends other trainers do, and is unpredictable.”

    Justin nodded.

    “From day one he made it clear the way we battle shouldn’t be dependent on type advantages, and when we would battle, make us choose our Pokemon before we knew what we would be battling. Withdrawing Pokemon was frowned upon as well, as he wanted us to learn to be creative with whatever hand we were dealt, and make it work in our favour…”

    “I can kinda see why Lauren was okay with a teenager joining us now…” Candice replied jokingly. Justin felt a slight pang to his pride hearing that.

    “My question still stands.” Steven asked Justin, “Do you have more reason for doing this than just beating Jon.”

    “I do.” Justin explained, “Jon pointed out a pretty major hole in my way of battling. And whilst I was able to catch him by surprise by using Trick Room and turning Speed Boost against him, I need more under my belt. I looked into it, and whilst I thought Ninjask was Special with Speed Boost, and I got unlucky battling someone with a Blaziken who had it as well, I realized it’s actually a lot more common than I realized. Still rare, but banking on the fact I will not face someone else with it is going to cause me problems.”

    “I don’t see this as a guaranteed win.” Justin continued, “But it gives me options. It means that if my opponent has the same ability as Ninjask, I am not forced to send it out early to try and catch up, and not be so predictable. I can choose to send out Ninjask, or if I find some super quick Pokemon, that instead, that can give hell.”

    “Interesting…” Steven replied, “Well I hope this goes the way you want it to. You’re a long way from home, and whilst I doubt this expedition will result in someone being injured or even worse, it is still not what I’d call safe.”

    “I already had that discussion with my parents.” Justin laughed weakly, “I didn’t tell them I was planning on going until you had agreed to come.”

    “So you mean if something does happen, they will come to me about it?” Steven asked, somewhat concerned.

    “But nothing will happen.” Justin replied with a grin, causing Candice to break out in laughter.

    It was early evening, and the sky was already black. The temperature had dropped to well below freezing point when the trio stepped onto the platform.

    It seemed that those who built the tracks into the Crown Tundra realized that there was nowhere flat at the base of the hill they were on where they could stop the tracks and build a station, instead opting for stopping the tracks where they were, and building the station on top of the hill, as a dimly lit path descended the hill to the faint glow of what they assumed to be the main town of the Crown Tundra.

    Whilst one or two other people got off the train as well, they didn’t think the train had taken more than eight passengers. They were certainly the largest group on the platform.

    “Hey, guys!” Called out a voice, “Over here!”

    Justin turned to see whom he assumed was Lauren heading towards them, the voice sounding like the person he had audio calls with. She was covered in a thick coat, and every part of her was covered to protect from the wind, leaving only her eyes visible. Justin didn’t blame her. He had thought he overestimated how cold it would be with the amount of layers he packed, however was still feeling chilly.

    “Lauren?” Justin asked as he approached.

    “Yeah, it’s me Justin.” Lauren said, “I’m glad you all came together, because I don’t want to be making the trek to and from the station more than once.”

    Looking back at the path, she spoke again.

    “We will do proper introductions once we arrive at the cabin.” Lauren explained, “It is way too cold here, and we would only have to repeat ourselves for Andrew’s sake as well.”

    Steven nodded.

    “Lead the way.”

    Whilst the walk in normal conditions would have been under an hour, in the cold snowy evening, it took an hour and a half, as the path had become slippery with all the ice. When the town finally came into view, Justin couldn’t help but notice how many of the buildings were unlit. Whilst he originally thought people had just gone to sleep early, he realized there were no power-lines, and at a guess, no electricity. And chances are, if people wanted to keep their houses warm during the night, a fire would need to be lit.

    “When the railway was first built, a bunch of entrepreneurs figured that this would be the next big holiday spot, and invested a bunch of money buying property in town, and building accommodation.” Lauren explained, “The thing was that the rail was completed at the start of spring, and these cabins were built by the end of summer. They were all booked constantly until the next winter, when people realized just how cold it is, and how crappy of a holiday spot it is.”

    “Sucks for the investors.” Justin laughed.

    “Not for us though.” Lauren explained, “Nobody wanted to buy them, so now they are just losing money on taxes. They have to reduce their prices for people to stay, so we actually got a really good deal on accommodation.”

    After a few more minutes of walking, Lauren pointed out a large cabin at the end of the street.

    “This is us.” She said, “Let’s get in as quickly as we can so we don’t let the heat out…”

    Once they reached the door, Lauren had them line up, ready to enter, before counting down. On zero, she opened the door, as the trio rushed in, with Lauren quickly entering behind them, slamming the door shut and bolting it, to prevent it from being opened by the wind during the night.

    The first thing Justin noticed in the cabin was how quiet it actually was. Save for the crackling of the fire, the silence was shocking, and made him realize just how loud the wind outside was. Standing in the kitchen area nearby was a man in his late twenties, Justin estimated a year or two younger than Jon. He wore a thick jumper, and a pair of sweatpants, standing at a bit over 6ft, and built like a tank. His shaggy black hair was covered by a beanie, which seemed appropriate in the climate they were in. He nodded, as he continued to watch over the stew he was making.

    Lauren soon began removing the extra layers, until she was wearing something similar to her brother. She had shoulder length, straight black hair, and dark green eyes.

    “Now we can do introductions.” Lauren sighed, though thankful to be out of the cold. “I’m Lauren Mendez, PhD student at Jubilife University, and this is my brother Andrew, who works in the Oreburgh Mine, managing the Pokemon who do the excavating. He works a lot with Rock Types, so will be handling Regirock.”

    “I’m already well acquainted with everyone here, but I’m Candice, Snowpoint City Gym Leader, and hopefully soon, Regice trainer.” Candice said with a grin.

    “I’m Steven Stone, Champion of the Hoenn League, and steel type enthusiast.” Steven explained, “I’ll be taking care of Registeel.”

    “I’m Justin Collins, a student in Kalos, and at the Eon Academy in Hoenn.” Justin explained, “I’m here for the ride, and to hopefully catch whatever it is we find at the end…”

    “Well, Candice, Justin and Steven…” Lauren said, gesturing to the window revealing the snowstorm outside, “Welcome to the Crown Tundra. I promise it will be nicer in the morning…”

    Chapter 3
    Within twenty minutes, the five people in the cabin sat around a wooden dinner table, as Andrew dished up stew that had been sitting in a pot over a cooking fire in the kitchen. On the opposite end of the cabin, a fireplace roared, spewing heat and light into the cabin, with oil lanterns around the building.

    “As you can probably tell, we don’t have electricity connected here…” Lauren explained, “Everything electrical runs off solar panels, however when you get as little sunshine as you do here, you know not to rely on it.”

    “In terms of how much power we have, we can run anything that uses a standard outlet. It will charge all our phones completely and not even use 20% of the battery capacity. No sweat.” Lauren explained, “Plug in a hair dryer, and it will drain half the battery in just over half an hour, which we’d be lucky to charge with the solar panel in a day…”

    Justin noticed Lauren look at Candice, who sighed, before opening her bag, and handing a hair dryer to Lauren.

    “So far we have been doing well with power charging the laptop, phones, the satellite internet connection and all the power banks and flashlights.” Lauren explained, “We just gotta not treat this like a hotel. We’re roughing it, with a couple of added luxuries. And we will be spending some nights out in the field…”

    “So you have a bit of an itinerary set?” Justin asked. Lauren nodded.

    “Andrew and I already found this ruins and have them marked, so finding them again shouldn’t be difficult. Really, when it’s clear, you can see the closest set from here.” Lauren explained, as she walked over to the nearby desk and grabbed a large rolled up piece of paper. She placed it on the table and unrolled it.

    “We are here.” Lauren explained, pointing at the village on the map, before moving her hand towards a cross she had marked, “These are the ruins that contain Registeel. If we leave here at 6:30 tomorrow morning, we will reach the ruins by 8am. That’s when you will be up, Steven.”

    Steven nodded, and Justin noticed Candice breathe a slight sigh of relief. Really, none of them knew how strong their opponent was going to be, and Steven was by far the best battler of the group. If anyone is best suited to not knowing what sort of monsters they will be up against, it is Steven.

    “The ruins themselves seem like an old temple. I had my Golem tunnel underneath, to see if the ruins go underground, and he found nothing. It is one room and one room only.” Andrew explained, “Unless there is some sort of teleport in there, but we won’t know for sure until we open the doors.”

    “What Andrew is getting at is that chances are we won’t be spending hours wandering around tunnels trying to find Registeel there. I am certain we will be battling it within minutes of entering the ruins, so am overestimating how much time we really need, by saying we will have the battle done by 9 and be departing for the next temple then.” Lauren explained, as Steven noticed something she said.

    “You said we will be battling it…” Steven said.

    “Yes, I figure it’s safer if we all try and take it together and then whoever captures it will throw the Pokeball at the right time…” Lauren said, though starting to sense Steven had something on his mind.

    “When you spoke to Brandon, did he mention any difficulties getting the trio he has to obey him?” Steven asked.

    “No, he said they followed orders with no hesitation…”

    “Then we may have a problem.” Steven replied, “Other than these three, how many Legendary Pokemon have you met?”

    “Not a great deal, but I have researched them for the last five years.” Lauren explained, though sounding nervous.

    “There are things you only learn when you train them.” Steven explained, “And having met a few trainers with Legendary Pokemon, one thing that is common is that the Legendary Pokemon only obey when they want to. A trainer needs to earn their respect for them to put their life in a trainer’s hands… Otherwise you have an extremely powerful Pokemon with no sense of loyalty to the trainer, that will be too dangerous to let out of a Pokeball.”

    “Justin and I know a trainer who has Latios on his team. But Jon didn’t seek out Latios. He found Latios being attacked by another trainers Pokemon so he could be captured and Jon intervened. After that Latios followed him for weeks until Jon challenged him, and when he won, captured him, and Latios has been loyal since.” Steven explained, “The young trainer who currently has Victini didn’t even seek him out. Victini had parted ways with his last trainer and was wanting to partner up with someone new. Victini saw how she battled, and also saw her fun-loving nature, and decided she was the trainer for him. But I know from experience that a lot of Legendary Pokemon will only respect their trainer if they are beaten in a fair battle.”

    Justin felt his stomach sink as he heard this.

    “I’m confident I can beat Registeel on my own, and capture it.” Steven said, “And if somebody is in immediate danger at the other temples, I will intervene, no doubt. But I am worried that if anyone but the trainer attempting to capture these Legendary Pokemon gets involved, they will not earn their respect, and the Pokemon will be more of a danger than a help…”

    Lauren went silent hearing this, shocked she had overlooked something like the Pokemon’s own volition. Due to how stoich, and almost robotic the Legendary Titans were, it was easy to forget they were as living and breathing Pokemon as Lauren’s own Glaceon.

    Andrew was the first to speak up.

    “This changes nothing…” he said, “Steven is right. We intervene if somebody is in danger, but we handle our battles solo.”

    “It’s a good thing Steven is first.” Candice explained, “He is easily the best battler here, so is taking the least risk tomorrow. We can see exactly how strong they are. You guys were saying, they are near identical in terms of general power, only different in how it’s applied, right? So seeing how strong Registeel is tomorrow should help us figure out how difficult this is going to be and whether we need to rethink this operation.”

    Lauren nodded, thankful that Andrew and Candice were still on board.

    “And you?” she asked Justin, “You face the biggest unknown here…”

    She was right. Candice, Andrew and Steven all knew exactly what they were facing. They could send out the right Pokemon for type advantages, and also had detailed information about what sort of resistances the Pokemon they’d be battling would have with physical and special attacks. Justin had nothing.

    “I’m in.” Justin explained, “I’ve come too far to give up now. And besides, if the s**t hits the fan, you three will all have Legendary Pokemon to bail me out if worst comes to worst…”

    Lauren nodded before going over the map again.

    “If all goes to plan, we should depart these ruins at about 9am, hopefully earlier, and spend the day hiking towards the next set of ruins here…” Lauren explained as her hand moved across towards a cross on the map. This one was the southernmost set of ruins, “We should arrive here before sunset, and there, Andrew will battle Regirock. If Andrew wins, we will spend the night in the ruins, since it will be out of the wind. If not, then we use our Pokemon to create a couple of wind-breaks around us, and camp outside for the night…”

    “What if the door swings shut during the night?” Candice asked, slightly worried, “We’d be trapped…”

    “It is no more likely it will close us in while we sleep than it will while we battle.” Lauren explained, “Besides, Brandon caught the three in Hoenn years ago, and gave me coordinates of the places where he caught them. I went a few months back to all of them and they were still open. I’d rather take that miniscule risk than sleep out in the cold…”

    “So we leave the second set of ruins before dawn, and we should arrive at the third set in the northern part of the Crown Tundra late afternoon, where Candice will capture Regice.” Lauren continued, “We spend the night in those ruins if we are successful, or find a way to camp outside without freezing to death if we aren’t, then the next day take a leisurely hike back to the southern ruins, since we won’t be able to go straight to the last set within a day.”

    Lauren had pointed up to the ruins in the north, then back down to the ruins in the south, before moving east.

    “The ruins in the east are the most difficult to get to.” Lauren explained, “We have to go through a cave, and travel on a river to get out to where the last set of ruins are. It took us weeks to find them, but we took notes and think we could get there in two days. So after spending the night in the southern ruins where Andrew caught Regirock, we will make our way into the cave, spend the night there, and the next day, should arrive at the last of the ruins late afternoon. Once we are there, Justin, you will be handling whatever is in there…”

    “So if all goes to plan, it should be an eight day trek…” Steven said, looking over the map, “How will we go about supplies for this time if we are on foot, and carrying camp gear as well?”

    “We’ve had the last three weeks to become familiar with the area, and in that time, we placed a few caches along the path where we will be travelling.” Andrew explained, pointing to smaller dots on the map between the major landmarks, “We will only carry as much food as we need before we reach the caches, and a little extra for emergencies so we aren’t carrying heaps.”

    “And Pokemon won’t find them and get to them?” Steven asked.

    “I designed the storage boxes myself back home.” Andrew explained, “No Pokemon will be able to get into them. They might sniff them out and pull them from their hiding places, but one of our Pokemon should be able to find it if they do.”

    “But really, that’s the bulk of the plan so far.” Lauren said, rolling up the map, “Pass me your phones, and I will make sure they have map data saved, and are fully charged before tomorrow. Finish your dinner, and then unpack your bags. We need to carry a few extra bits and pieces that Andrew and I can’t carry on our own as well as our gear, so they will need to be spread evenly. Then get some sleep. We leave at 6:30 tomorrow morning…”

    Justin quickly ate some dinner, watching Lauren and Andrew, who had already eaten at this point, weigh and spread out the equipment they would be spreading between the five of them as they travelled.

    “What’s that?” Justin asked, pointing to a device the size of a box of tissues.

    “That is a portable healing machine.” Lauren explained, “It can only heal one Pokemon at a time, and takes about an hour to restore a competition level Pokemon to full health, but it can run off a powerbank like your phone. And if we’re walking for eight hours a day, that will hardly be noticeable.”

    “S**t…” Justin muttered, “I didn’t even know they existed…”

    “Technically they don’t.” Steven explained, “They are not for consumer use. They cost as much as a car, and you need a license to buy one.”

    “How come?” Justin asked, surprised he hadn’t heard any of this.

    “Because the League relies on being able to monitor who has which Pokemon to maintain peace.” Steven explained, “You ever heard of an unregistered Pokeball?”

    “Vaguely.” Justin explained, “Every so often the League confiscates a bunch of them and it makes the news.”

    “The current standard of Pokeball is designed with sensors to detect what Pokemon is inside it, and automatically update the League’s files on the trainer that captures it. If it is something previously undiscovered or a Legendary Pokemon, the League are notified so we can keep tabs and make sure that it isn’t being used for illegal activities.” Steven explained, “With the current Pokeballs, the League know when they are in the PC, when they are healed, and when they go through checkpoints like security. They also are what prevent trainers from carrying more than six Pokemon, and prevents trainers capturing other trainers Pokeball. An unregistered Pokeball completely bypasses all of these measures. You can carry as many as you like, and the League have no way of knowing who has what Pokemon, or where they may be. There are very few legitimate situations to need that sort of anonymity, and being caught with one will almost always result in jail time.”

    “And what has that got to do with this healing machine?”

    “Think about it.” Steven explained, “Let’s say you’re a criminal who uses Pokemon to commit crimes. A bank robber or something. But during the last job, your Pokemon is injured and needs a healing machine. If you use the one at the Pokemon Center, it will notify the League of where you are. But if you have this, you can continue committing crimes without tipping off the League where you are. If they require constant network connection, it defeats the purpose of it being portable.”

    “They’re usually kept in police vehicles, or used by the military during operations.” Lauren said, “The university has a few for these sorts of expeditions, but if I don’t return this, I will have the police kicking in my door…”

    “Understandable…” Justin replied, “Is that how you have most of the equipment here? I can’t imagine a satellite link for internet access is cheap…”

    “It isn’t.” Lauren explained, “Andrew and I had to find the ruins without this equipment, just to prove to the university this expedition was worth them backing. Once they knew there was something worth putting their name on, they sent a shipment of this sort of equipment. It took a lot of arguing to prevent them from sending other people to come capture the titans instead of you four…”

    “I mean, I appreciate you having me along, and giving me the opportunity to catch whatever is in those eastern ruins…” Justin explained, “But wouldn’t the university send someone a little more qualified than me?”

    “They would.” Lauren replied, “But they didn’t give a damn about my research until it was obvious that something would come out of it, and they could take some of the credit. Whilst the university have sent the equipment and started paying to rent this cabin, I funded the expedition myself until then. And you were interested and willing to help before we knew for sure it would pay off. So in my eyes, you get first go at what is waiting for us. On the basis you let me do some study of it…”

    “Of course…” Justin replied, before looking over at a small mesh sack containing a bunch of odd berries he had never seen before, in with the supplies for the trip.

    “What about those?” Justin asked, “If we’re bringing them with us the entire way, is there something special about them?”

    “There is.” Andrew explained, “There are Pomeg, Kelpsy, Qualot, Hondew, Grepa and Tamato berries in here. And they are for the Pokemon.”

    “What do they do?”

    “They are natural mood enhancers.” Andrew explained, “We might be walking eight hours a day in the snow, but our Pokemon will be defending us and battling in it. They will be doing harder work than us, and it will take more of a toll on them. These are our way of keeping their morale and motivation high so they don’t slip up and wind up getting hurt.”

    “It kind of sounds like you’re drugging them…” Justin retorted.

    “Hardly. These grow in the wild, and Pokemon constantly find and eat them. There are no side-effects to their mental health. The only side effect is that it will semi-permanently decrease their attributes a little. For example, if you have a Pokemon eat a Kelpsy Berry, it will lose some of it’s attacking ability, but it can train and regain that quite easily. It’s when they have too many when the effect becomes noticeable.” Andrew explained, “Some trainers even use them to focus their Pokemon’s growth in certain areas. If you have a Pokemon that is a physical attacker but is developing its special attack abilities at a detriment to the physical attacks, you can use the Hondew Berry to revert its progress in special attacks, and intentionally focus on physical attacks.”

    “These are a somewhat last resort.” Lauren explained, “Really, this is so our Pokemon aren’t becoming depressed because their trainers thought it a good idea to spend a week hiking in a frozen wasteland…”

    “She’s right.” Steven explained, “If your Pokemon’s mental state is suffering from this expedition, they and by extension, you, will be at higher risk of injury or death. This is a safe way to prevent that if we need it.”

    “I’ll take your word for it.”

    Justin quickly unpacked his own bag, which had a swag strapped to the side of it, and inside some changes of clothes and toiletries, and general hiking equipment, such as rope, flashlights and a small first aid kit.

    Lauren looked over Justin’s belongings, somewhat impressed.

    “You’ve done well packing light…” Lauren said, as she brought over some of the shared equipment to go out, “And as a reward, we’ll give you a little more to carry…”

    “It’s fine.” Justin replied, as he took the items Lauren had brought over. It added a little more to his pack, and whilst it would tire him a little more by the end of the day, he wasn’t injuring himself to lift the pack, so wasn’t too fussed. Once he was convinced he wouldn’t be causing anyone else to pick up any slack by retiring, he went to bed, trying to get an early night before the next morning’s early start.


    Chapter 4
    It was shortly after 5am when Justin’s alarm went off. He grimaced at how early the hour was, even though he had more than enough sleep. Careful not to wake Steven and Andrew who shared the room with him, Justin grabbed the clothes he would be wearing that day from the bag, as well as some shampoo and soap. This would be the last chance he would have for over a week to have a hot shower, and he was thankful he hadn’t been lazy and let his hair grow long like he had a tendency to do. If they were leaving at 6:30, he didn’t want to be out in the cold with a damp head.

    The night before, Andrew had given himself, Steven and Candice an explanation on how the shower worked. There was an electric water-heater that was on a timer to turn on an hour or two before dawn, which meant they should have hot water ready for showers, dishes and coffee when they woke up.

    A few minutes later, Justin was dressed and out of the shower, being slightly paranoid about making sure his short hair was completely dry before they had to go outside. His belongings were mostly packed from the night before, though Justin grabbed the power bank Lauren had offered for him to use during the trip off its charger, quickly checking his phone which was fully charged. He noticed a message from Chris, which had only come through because Lauren connected his phone to the satellite link the university had loaned her.

    “Dude, I called your house and your mum said you were spending the Christmas break on some expedition in Galar? What’s that about?”

    Justin quickly replied, telling Chris he had been looking into something, and came into contact with a researcher who was also investigating it, so tagged along. He also told him that he would fill Chris in when he gets home, and asked him not to tell Jon. He was surprised when he got a response, considering it was not even 6am.

    “You know he can’t tell you off for doing something reckless from Hoenn, especially since you technically are your parents’ problem now? Don’t worry, I won’t tell him, but this better be good.”

    Justin replied quickly, asking why Chris was up so early.

    ”I haven’t slept yet. It’s Christmas break and there are no tournaments for weeks. Catching up on all the games I missed out on since last year…”

    Justin laughed to himself, as Lauren walked into the room.

    “You’re eager.” She commented, as she began pouring a cup of coffee, “Want one? It’s coffee from home, not the crap they call coffee here…”

    “Yeah that’d be great.” Justin replied, “And I think it’s more that I don’t want to hold you guys back.”

    “You’ll be fine.” Lauren replied, “You survived a summer with Jon Drake, and from what I’ve heard he can be a bit of a demon… You can survive two weeks here.”

    Justin laughed.

    “Yeah, considering his wife works in media, he is pretty horrible when it comes to knowing how to handle press.” Justin explained, “He’s actually a really good guy. I mean, myself and a few of the others got arrested at one point and when Jon bailed us out, didn’t lose his cool. Hell, I only saw him lose it once, and even then, I am not even sure he did…”

    “Goddamn, you got arrested at that place?” Lauren asked, as she prepared the coffee, “If he didn’t lose his cool over that, what did he lose it over?”

    “There was a kid at the Academy whose stepdad had been beating him…” Justin explained, “Jon found out, and convinced him to go to the police, then a few days later, the kid’s step dad showed up looking for a fight. Jon told him to leave and called the cops, but he wouldn’t and started trying to pick a fight with Jon. Then he spat in Jon’s face. So Jon broke his nose, and dropped his a** to the ground. Gave him a warning that if he ever pulled that s**t again, things would be worse.”

    “How are you not sure if he lost it?” Lauren asked, “And what happened to the kid?”

    “If Jon lost it, that guy would have probably left in an ambulance. Everyone saw the video of Jon and Lance? That’s him losing it, which didn’t happen.” Justin explained, “And the kid is still there. I shouldn’t say kid, since he is 18 now, but Jon needed help running the place, and hired him as on-site staff, which in all honesty, is what he wanted most…”

    “Goddamn…” Lauren said, as she passed Justin a coffee mug, “You definitely had quite the summer there…”

    “Sure did…” Justin replied as he took a sip, thankful this coffee was better than the one he unfortunately spent eight dollars on the day before…

    One by one the others emerged from their rooms, doing some last minute adjustments to their packs and organizing something to eat. At 6:25am they departed.

    The wind from the night before had died down, so it wasn’t as cold as when they walked into town from the station, however it was still relatively freezing compared to the nice and temperate Kalos, or Hoenn summer he was used to.

    As they departed town, Justin noticed a sign welcoming visitors entering to Freezington.

    “I don’t know what would have been funnier.” Justin said, gesturing to the sign, “That, or calling this place Hell, so you can say Hell has frozen over…”

    Candice laughed at the joke, whilst Steven and Andrew chuckled to themself. Lauren however was determined to make sure everything went to plan. Since they had left, she had constantly been going over the list in her head, trying to figure out if they forgot anything, even though she had written numerous actual lists and all of them checked out.

    When the sun rose above the mountains in the east, light finally filled the valley that seemed to make up most of the less-desolate section of the Crown Tundra, and Lauren spoke up.

    “There it is.”

    In the distance, a set of ruins were visible, that looked to be some sort of temple. It had blended in too well with the cliffs and mountains around it without the light to give it some definition to stand out from the bleak backdrop.

    “We should be there in about half an hour at this rate.” Andrew said, “You ready Steven?”

    “As ready as I can be.” Steven laughed, “We kind of haven’t really got a clue what to expect in there, have we?”

    “Nope.”

    Shortly before 8am, they found themselves standing by the entrance to the temple. There was a heavy door, that Justin had given a decent shove to see if it would open, knowing full well Lauren had mentioned multiple times it was sealed, and there was only one way to open it.

    The sheer size of the temple was what shocked Justin the most so far. The temple itself was the size of a mansion, and seemed undisturbed by the passage of time, though he presumed it got too cold here for any plants to grow easily.

    “So how do we open the door?” Justin asked.

    “There is text on the door that tells us how.” Lauren explained, as Justin looked back at the door confused. There was no text. Noticing his confusion, Lauren elaborated.

    “It is an ancient form of braille.” Lauren explained, “Thankfully it isn’t exclusive to these temples, and those much more patient and talented than myself have done the heavy lifting to make it easier for me to learn how to translate.”

    Justin walked over, and ran his hand over the smooth surface of the door, slightly surprised to notice the bumps that seemed random, but now he actually paid attention, were in perfect formation.

    “So what does it say?” Candice asked, inspecting the raised dots herself.

    "Let ring out the piercing note that will wake the giant of steel."

    Justin found himself frustrated by the vague instruction.

    “What sort of note?” Candice asked, “Did we need to bring instruments?”

    “Even if we did, would our modern day instruments play the right notes?” Justin asked, “There are so many different sounds that could be made, and I’d bet only one works.”

    “You’re on the right track Justin.” Lauren replied, “I have a hunch that we can open this door.”

    Justin looked at her puzzled, waiting to hear her explanation.

    “This temple was built to last centuries, if not millennia. I think whoever built it and sealed it would have accounted for the fact that music and instruments change over time, so wouldn’t seal it in a way that is period specific.” Lauren said, “So the note has to be something that anybody at any time can do.”

    “So we have to start singing scales?” Candice asked.

    “No, that is still too varied. Musical scales change over centuries, and perfect vocal pitch is difficult for those untrained…” Lauren said, before being interrupted by Steven, who let out a loud and shrill whistle, as if to alert a distant Pokemon to his location.

    “He’s got it…” Lauren said with a grin.

    “Surely not…” Justin said, before looking at the door. After a second of silence, there was a loud crack, as it began to swing open. After a few seconds, the doorway was exposed enough for all of them to enter, as the door ceased moving, remaining open.

    “I can’t believe he just whistled and the door opened.” Candice muttered, “What sort of moron would design it like that? A kid wanders past, whistling because he feels like it, and BAM he is now in some ancient temple…”

    The group walked into the temple, eager to see what was inside. The first thing they noticed was a bright green glow from inside. As they entered the main chamber, they noticed a series of large vertical rods, almost as tall as him, and four inches in diameter, attached to the walls, illuminating the room.

    “Tritium…” Lauren muttered to herself, “This temple is at least 600 years old, and we have only been using Tritium like this for sixty or seventy years…”

    “Tritium?” Andrew asked.

    “Radioactive Hydrogen gas.” Lauren explained casually “Don’t worry, it’s safe in this state, and is lighter than air, so even if we break one or two of these tubes, it will float up to the top of the temple…”

    Justin gulped slightly hearing this, as Lauren marvelled at the lightning.

    “Tritium only has a half-life of 12 or so years…” Lauren muttered to herself as she did the maths in her head, and reached around the top of one of the columns.

    “English, Lauren…” Andrew replied.

    “Half-life means the amount of time it would take for a radioactive substance to decay to half its size.” Lauren explained, “Tritium doesn’t last forever, and twelve years from now, there will be half as much in there as there is now, and it will probably be half as bright because of that…”

    The cavern itself wasn’t overly well lit. Whilst they could see eachother from a few meters away, and could see the lit up columns on the opposite end of the room, the space in the middle was still dark and indistinguishable.

    “Wait, that means it was twice this brightness twelve years ago…” Justin explained, “With twice as much Tritium packed into these things, and twice as bright twelve years before that…”

    “Exactly…” Lauren explained, “There is no way humans could have created this… And whatever created it didn’t want anybody entering for a long time…”

    She gently tapped on the cylinder containing the tritium, before tapping it harder.

    “Andrew, you have the shovel?” Lauren asked, staring intently at the cylinder.

    “Yeah…” Andrew replied, as he handed her the short, steel bladed shovel that seemed more suited to being an improvised weapon.

    “You may wanna take a few steps back…” Lauren said, as she readied the shovel behind her.

    “Wait, what are you-” Andrew began before being cut off by a clear note piercing the room as the shovel hit the cylinder. However, it didn’t break.

    “Idiot…” Andrew muttered.

    “Not even a mark…” Lauren said, before turning to Steven. “Try and avoid levelling the place when you battle if you can, but I don’t think you need to worry about your Pokemon breaking one of these things.”

    Steven nodded, as he looked around. He noticed a space between two columns where based on the distance apart, there should have been one between them. He wandered over towards it with the rest of the group following behind. As they got closer, they discovered in place of where it seemed like a column should be, there was a statue, that they recognized pretty easily.

    “Registeel.” Steven said, looking at the statue that stood nearly two meters tall. Next to the statue was a plaque on the wall. Steven ran his hands over it before nodding towards Lauren.

    “It has the braille.”

    Lauren walked over, slowly running her hand over it.

    “Registeel.” She read out, “Let only the challenger wake the titan of steel.”

    “I guess that means you.” Justin said to Steven, “And I think this means you were right.”

    “I think so too…” Steven replied, “We just need to figure out how to wake it…”

    There was a slight squeal of panic from Candice who stood behind them, causing the group to turn around. On the floor in front of Candace was a glowing circle, projecting a faint pillar of green light into the dusty air.

    "It's just light." Lauren explained as she crouched down, pressing on the circular plate that the light now revealed. She felt it click as she pressed down, as the light disappeared. Looking a few feet to the side of it she noticed another circular plate, this one also unlit. As her eyes darted around she quickly located the rest.

    "Everyone but Steven, step away from the center of the room, and make sure not to step on any of these." She explained, "This is how you wake Registeel. There are seven of these plates, in the pattern on Registeel's face."

    Justin moved back, watching where he stood, as did the others, whilst Steven began pressing down on the plates, causing them to illuminate one by one. When only one remained to press he looked up at the others.

    "Ready to start making history?" Steven asked.

    "This is what we came for." Lauren confirmed. With a nod, Steven unclipped a Pokeball with his left hand, before pressing the last plate, and stepping back. The whole building began to shake for a few seconds before stopping. Then, loud, metallic footsteps pierced the air.

    The seven lights erupting from the floor dimmed, as seven pinpricks of light pierced the darkness, as Registeel came into the light.

    "Here we go!" Steven called out, his excitement apparent. Registeel looked directly at Steven, seemingly not even noticing the other four people in the room, as Steven called out his Aggron. Registeel let out a metallic cry that reminded Justin of the sound of an angle grinder, as Steven gave his first command.

    "Earth Power!" He called out, "Pull the earth from about five metres below us in the center of the room, and move it outwards! We are trapping us and it in a twenty metre wide ring!"

    Aggron grunted before slamming it's foot down, as clean, precise slabs of earth erupted in a ring out of the ground beneath them towards the walls. Justin had never seen Earth Power used in such a precise manner before. It was usually just erupting the earth beneath the target.

    "What's he doing?" Justin asked, as Andrew looked in shock, "Is he trying to contain it?"

    "He's trying to contain something…" Andrew replied, seeming to understand what Steven is doing.

    Registeel used Flash Cannon, hitting Aggron directly, knocking it back a few meters, before it regained it's footing and blocked the last of the beam.

    "Aggron is a Pokemon that is more suited to levelling mountains than one on one battles. This is an ancient temple, so Steven is needing to be careful that he doesn't level the place on top of us." Andrew explained, "But what if we could contain Aggrons destructive potential to the battlefield?"

    Justin wasn't sure how Steven's modification to the arena helped, until he called out for Aggron to use Earthquake.

    Aggron roared, before slamming the ground causing it to shake. However instead of the ground beneath the spectators shaking, there was a loud crack, as the earth that had erupted prior broke, and the battlefield dropped a foot down. Finally Justin understood.

    "He was doing that so that the Earthquake wouldn't go further than the battle, and Aggron didn't have to hold back…" Justin said as he pieced together what was going on.

    "That's one reason." Andrew explained, "Check out Registeel…"

    Justin looked over to see the titan had been knocked over.

    "Registeel weighs probably a few hundred kilograms, and has short stubby legs which gives it a low center of gravity and makes it hard to knock down." Andrew explained, "But once you knock it down, it won't be too easy for it to get back up. Especially if Aggron keeps using Earthquake. And then there is one more perk to that trick…"

    "What's that?" Justin asked as Steven ordered another Earthquake. The ground beneath them remained motionless, whilst the ground of the battlefield shook harder than any Earthquake move Justin had seen.

    "If you drop a pebble in a pond, it ripples out. But if you drop the pebble in water between some immovable barriers that won't absorb the force…"

    "It will contain them and send them back…" Justin said as he realized what was going on. He knew Steven was a good battler, but didn't realize how much Steven had to hold back normally given his team. He now really wanted to see Steven in a battle with no care for collateral, and the result of that.

    Registeel hadn't been able to regain its footing before the second earthquake hit, and as Steven ordered a third, Jon was actually surprised when Registeel got launched a foot off the ground, hitting it again moments later with a loud clang.

    Steven readied an empty Pokeball.

    "Earth Power again to hold it in place!"

    Aggron roared as two pillars of earth shot up on either side of Registeel, pinning it's arms to its sides, as Steven threw the Pokeball. It hit the titan directly, converting it into light, before sucking it in.

    The Pokeball shook violently as Registeel tried to fight back and break out, until finally…

    Click…

    Steven called Aggron back before stepping through the devastated battlefield, to claim the Pokemon he had just captured.

    "You made that look way too easy…" Candice said as Justin and Andrew watched in awe.

    "I got lucky really. That strategy suits my team well, and Registeel is the most vulnerable to it. If it didn't get knocked over, it would have been a lot harder."

    "What do you mean your team?" Justin asked, "You only used one Pokemon, and Registeel only got in a single hit…"

    Steven shrugged though was unable to hide the grin from his face.

    "I can't believe I allowed an hour here…" Lauren muttered as she checked her watch. They had been at the ruins a little over twenty minutes, and spent a lot of that marvelling over the lighting…

    "Hey, Andrew…" Candice said, with a sinister grin.

    "Yeah?"

    "How're you gonna follow that?"

    Chapter 5
    Out of respect for the ground he was on, Steven spent the next twenty minutes having his Claydol resurface the ground of the temple, leaving it as smooth as it was when they entered, and once they were done, the group departed.

    The sun had well and truly risen, reflecting off the snowy ground and providing a miniscule amount of warmth which was well and truly appreciated.

    As they walked, Justin let his Houndour out of its Pokeball, letting the canine Pokemon walk alongside the group, taking in the new sights, having never seen snow before, and found the sensation of walking through it odd.

    "So what sort of titan do you think will be in the final ruins?" Justin asked Lauren, curious to hear what she had to say.

    "At a guess, maybe a grass type?" Lauren explained, "Registeel, Regirock and Regice's typing are all something physical, you know? Registeel is literally a steel golem, same as Regice and Regirock. Almost every other type wouldn't work as easily. The only other type that seems to reasonably fit that theme is grass type. So my guess would be some plant based golem, that is like Registeel but for attack and physical attack. Does both reasonably well, but not over the top powerful in either."

    "You don't think there could be something like a fire golem?" Justin asked.

    "I don't think it's impossible." Lauren explained, "But I don't think it's likely. Fire is simply light and heat energy. It isn't mass like the ones we know of. Maybe there is a fire one in there like that, and if there is, it means the possibilities are endless. But I doubt it."

    Lauren looked past Justin at his Houndour who had wandered from the path and was rummaging at the base of a snow covered tree.

    "You might want to check up on Houndour." Lauren said, pointing towards it, "It seems to have found something…"

    Justin glanced over, before jogging over to the Pokemon who heard him approach, and looked up. On the ground at the base of the tree was a sprig of mint with a cream colored hue.

    “Is this toxic?” Justin asked, as he picked it up, noticing some saliva on it from Houndour.

    Steven glanced over, recognizing the mint.

    “No, it’s not harmful. To health anyway.” Steven explained, “Galar has over twenty varieties of mint, and each of them if inhaled by a Pokemon will change how their attributes grow.”

    “Really?”

    “Yeah.” Lauren replied, “For example, if it’s orange with pink spots, it will cause their physical attack power to grow more naturally, but slow down the growth of their speed.”

    “So what about this one?” Justin asked, hoping that Houndour hadn’t found one that would be a detriment to its battling.

    “That’s a rare one.” Lauren explained, “It removes the effect of others, and causes a Pokemon’s attributes to grow completely normal. None are accelerated or decelerated. I’d hold onto it. After you wipe the drool off at least…”

    Justin quickly cleaned it up, before pocketing it.

    “So how do you tell which mints affect what attributes?” he asked, curious to the idea.

    “The main color will tell you which it increases. If it’s orange, it will be physical attack, yellow will be defense, blue for special attacks, green for defense against special attacks, and pink for speed.” Lauren explained, “And then the spots that appear on them will tell you the same thing about which attribute it will slow down.”

    “So a blue mint with orange spots?” Justin asked, “That will increase their growth in special attacks, but slow down their growth in physical attacks?”

    “Exactly.”

    “I’m surprised Jon didn’t mention this last summer. Or even the berries for that matter…” Justin said.

    “I think I know why.” Steven said, “You’re still young, so only see the junior tournaments, but competitive battling can be brutal, especially for the Pokemon. More so off the field than on…”

    “Sadly, that is pretty true.” Candice said, “It shocked me to see how bad it can be…”

    “How so?”

    “Some trainers will do anything to give their Pokemon an edge, when really, some things are just out of their control. You can give Pokemon experience and teach them tactics, as well as train them in intentional ways to work on their strengths and weaknesses, but there are things such as a Pokemon’s genetics or their temperament that can’t be controlled.” Steven explained, “For most, Jon included, Pokemon are friends, partners, and the bond shared is more important than how well they can battle. We might choose certain Pokemon because they have the potential to battle well, but at the end of the day, they do the best they can and we are okay with it. But for some, that’s not enough. When the deciding factor of a battle is which Pokemon can hit hardest, take the most hits and move fastest, some trainers will do whatever they can to give themselves an edge.”

    “One of the more common methods is selective breeding. A trainer might catch two Eevee, one with very good attack, and another with very good defense, and breed them continuously until they produce offspring that have both of those traits. Then they will breed that offspring with another they find that has good speed, until they produce offspring with all three of those. Usually the perfect specimen is looked after and nurtured, while the rest wind up abandoned, or left for years in a PC Box.” Steven explained, “We see it all the time, and unfortunately, because breeders are legally allowed to breed Pokemon with certain abilities or temperaments for trainers, this practise is in a legal grey area and hard to police.”

    “That’s disgusting…” Justin muttered, “How can people do that?”

    “Because for some people, winning is the most important thing, and if this can give them an edge over the competition, they will do it.” Steven explained, “The discovery of these mints and their effects have been beneficial to slowing this down The effect they have is essentially the same as the Pokemon’s temperament. Brave Pokemon for example tend to have stronger physical attack, but slower growth in theis speed. And before these were discovered, people were attempting to breed both for attributes and temperament.”

    Justin went silent hearing this. Even though he didn’t want to battle competitively as a full time vocation, he did enjoy battling at a higher level than standard, and wanted to have the option. But knowing this is what happens behind the scenes struck a chord.

    “The reason I think Jon didn’t mention the mints, is because at the end of the day, the difference is negligible. Studies show no more than 10% improvement. And whilst genetics do play a larger role, roughly speaking, 15% at the most on average, they are still negligible.” Steven continued, “He probably wanted you to be comfortable and confident battling with your team as they are, and make sure you were okay with not winning every match, before he taught you this. I mean, if he did, and you all went out looking for these things for a measly 10% boost, what will happen when you find out you can breed Pokemon that are genetically perfect for battling, and get nearly a 15% boost? You did have one classmate almost get himself killed trying to train his Pokemon, and another accidentally have her Pokemon injure herself, trying to improve.”

    “S**t, what sort of school is he running?” Andrew asked, “How are you still alive?”

    “To be fair, Jon helped both those trainers grow past the insecurity that drove them to doing that, and they are both far better trainers for it…” Steven answered. There was an awkward silence among the group. Whilst Steven considered Jon a close friend, and Justin looked up to him as a mentor and friend, Jon’s reputation was quite polarized. Lauren had shown a little distaste towards him that morning, and it seemed Andrew shared that.

    It was mid-afternoon when the next two temples came into sight. The first to be visible was the third one in their journey, where Candice would face Regice, and the sight of the trek towards it didn’t bring any comfort to Justin. The temple itself seemed to be perched atop a mountain to the north of them, and whilst the distance from where they were currently to the top wasn’t that dramatic, the incline and terrain would make it a tedious and time consuming task, before accounting for how much colder it was going to get up there.

    It wasn’t too long after when the second became visible to their south. They were travelling south, and as they rounded a large hill that wasn’t worth the effort of trying to go over, it came into view, nestled into the side of a cliff. Justin noticed Andrew slow down a little when it came into view.

    As the group walked, Andrew spoke up.

    “So Steven, how difficult do you think this fight will be?”

    Steven considered the question.

    “Without knowing your capabilities, it is hard to say.” Steven explained, “Have you done any League Challenges? And what is in your team?”

    “I did the Sinnoh League challenge, and got all the badges, and made it through Victory Road. However I couldn’t beat the Elite Four, and only ever beat two, maybe three if I was lucky, at a time. I eventually decided to cut my losses, and get a job working in the mines.” Andrew explained, “And I have a Torterra, Golem, Steelix, Rhyperior and Machamp.”

    Steven thought over what Andrew had said.

    “I think you will be able to take it, quite easily really.” Steven explained, “The Elite Four is a different type of beast. You almost need to assign individual Pokemon to beating an entire team of very powerful Pokemon in order to cruise through it. But with this, you have a whole team that resists it in some way or another, all fresh and focusing on one opponent.”


    Andrew nodded, and seemed unconvinced.

    “I am hesitant to tell you this because you know your team better than I do, and your instincts might be better than any advice I give you, so don’t let this be the hill you choose to die on.” Steven explained, “But Registeel was heavy, and I imagine Regirock will not be any lighter… If you can knock it down, that may be what you need to get the edge.”

    “Thanks…” Andrew replied sheepishly, “Let’s see how I go with this.”

    It was four in the afternoon when the group found themselves at the door of the second temple. It was then Lauren took off her pack, and opened a pouch on the side, revealing a white, smooth stone on a chain.

    “That’s an Everstone, right?” Steven asked.

    “It is. I packed it myself because if we left this at the cabin, there was no way of getting in…” Lauren explained. “"Let the first Pokémon hold a never-changing stone." That’s what the braille on the door says, unless they’ve changed it since Andrew and I found the place…”

    Lauren laughed at her own joke, before passing the stone to Andrew.

    “Whichever Pokemon you will have battle Regirock first, give it this.”

    Andrew nodded, before letting out Golem. The large and heavy rock type took the stone, and placed the Everstone around Golem’s short neck. As the pair approached the door themselves, there was a familiar crack as it opened. There was a dull red glow emanating from inside the temple, as Lauren’s eyes widened.

    “Here we go again…” Candice said, as she followed Andrew, Golem and Lauren into the temple, with Justin and Steven close behind.

    The temple interior seemed identical to the first with a key difference being the red light instead of green. Even though the columns looked almost identical, Lauren was still in awe of it.

    “The fact that whatever built this place was able to know which compounds to use to get the right color of radioluminescence is remarkable…”

    “English, Lauren…” Andrew called out as he made his way towards the statue that he now knew would become his opponent.

    “Tritium gas itself isn’t what’s glowing, but the coating inside these transparent columns. It is some phosphor compound, and as the Tritium decays, it shoots off electrons, which causes the phosphor compound to glow” Lauren explained as she made her way to Andrew, “But different compounds produce different colors, and obviously whatever built this knew that…”

    The pair found themselves in front of the statue that, like the temple they were in that morning, had a plaque next to it.

    “It says the exact same thing…” Lauren explained, “Or close enough. Let only the challenger wake the titan of rock.

    Andrew swallowed before speaking up.

    “Well, no time like the present…”

    As the rest of the group made their way to the edge of the room, careful not to trigger the floor lights, whilst Andrew made his way to the center of the room, pressing down on the circles on the floor, causing them to light up. He was about to press the final one when he hesitated.

    “Wait…”

    “Andrew, can you do this?” Lauren asked.

    “I can, but I just had an idea…”

    Andrew pressed the buttons on two more Pokeballs, revealing a Steelix, and Machamp. At Andrew’s command, Steelix lowered its head. Andrew removed another stone on a chain, like the Everstone that Golem had been wearing prior, and placed it in one of Machamp’s hands, before calling the two Pokemon back to their Pokeballs.

    “What is he doing?” Candice asked, Justin only responding with a shrug. Before they could ask, Andrew pressed down on the last plate, causing it to glow. The room shook as the lights in the center of the room dimmed, and heavy footsteps echoed through the chamber, as Regirock emerged.

    “You got this Andrew!” Candice called out.

    “Go!” Andrew called, as Golem leapt forward, curling into a ball and began rolling around the arena, loosening dirt, as Regirock slowly tried to follow it with its gaze.

    “Keep it up!” Andrew called out, as more and more dust entered the air.

    Regirock let out a cry, before remaining still, as the lights on its face began to dim and glow, from top to bottom. They sped up, as Justin tried to figure out what it was doing.

    “Crap…” Steven muttered, before calling out, “Andrew, it’s using Lock-On!”

    Before Andrew could respond, Golem rolled past Regirock, who darted forward, faster than what seemed natural for it, and slammed its large heavy arm into Golem, knocking it back like a baseball.

    “Goddamn, I think that was Hammer-Arm.” Justin said.

    Andrew called out to Golem, who wasn’t moving, before swearing, and calling the Pokemon back as Regirock lumbered towards him. Rhyperior was Andrew’s next Pokemon.

    “It likes Hammer Arm?” Andrew called out angrily, “Give it your own!”

    Rhyperior was even slower than Regirock, which slightly amused Justin watching these two extremely slow Pokemon moving slowly towards each other. When Regirock was in range, Rhyperior struck it with its own Hammer Arm attack, knocking it back across the room, however it remained standing.

    “Horn Drill!” Andrew commanded, “Loosen the dirt as much as possible!”

    The whole temple shook when Rhyperior dug the horn on its head into the earth, and it began to spin like a giant drill. The sound resonating through the ancient building was intense, and the ground began to split in places.

    “Now blast the ground with a blank!” Andrew said, “Both arms!”

    Justin knew Rhyperior had the holes in its arms so it could load rocks into them and blast them long distances. However this was new.

    Rhyperior placed both palms flat against the ground, before crying out. There was a dull boom, as it fired. Suddenly, everyone’s vision was obscured, and Justin began to cough as all the loose dust on the ground was launched into the air, creating an ominous haze, with the red glow of the lights on Regirock’s face visible, moving slowly towards Andrew and Rhyperior.

    There was a flash of light, as Rhyperior was placed back into its Pokeball, and another Pokemon was let out. It was hard to identify through the haze, but Justin eventually recognized the shape as Machamp.

    “Low Kick!” Andrew shouted, as Machamp darted forward, sweeping its leg behind Regirock, and causing it to crash to the ground with an almighty thud, “And follow up by using thief to give it that gift I gave you!”

    Justin was surprised to hear that. Thief was used to take the opponent’s item, and as frowned upon as it was, particularly with its name, it, like many other moves that are capable of taking a Pokemon’s item, was perfectly legal when used in a competitive battle. But to give an item to someone by using it? That was unusual.

    There was a cry from Machamp, confirming it had placed the item, in response to which, Andrew called the Pokemon back, before sending out his final one. Steelix.

    The dust was settling, and Regirock had managed to regain its standing, as Steelix slithered towards it.

    “Heavy Slam!”

    Steelix stopped a few meters shy of Regirock, before spinning on the spot, and slamming its tail into Regirock, launching it across the room with surprising ease, causing it to collide with one of the lights at the opposite end of the chamber, shattering it.

    “Crap.” Candice said as she saw the lights, “Those lights are radioactive right?”

    “The gas in them is, but it’s only harmful if you inhale it.” Lauren said, not taking her eyes off the battle, “But it is a low concentration, on the other side of the room, and is lighter than the air, so will float up. There is no risk.”

    Andrew threw a Pokeball, which collided with Regirock, converting it to light, and drawing it inside of the ball. After a few moments of struggling, the ball slowed down.

    Click…

    Andrew called back his Pokemon, before retrieving the Pokeball.

    “When I said use it’s weight, that wasn’t what I had in mind.” Steven said with a laugh as he walked towards Andrew, “And that’s why it worked so well. Brilliant really…”

    “What happened?” Justin asked, unsure of what had happened, and what item Machamp had planted on Regirock.

    “Heavy Slam is based on the weight difference between two Pokemon.” Steven explained, “Regirock is probably a little over two hundred kilograms, and a healthy Steelix should be about 400.”

    “But that isn’t enough.” Andrew continued, “So I had Machamp slip it a Float Stone.”

    Justin had remembered Jon talking about Float Stones during a class. A stone that halves the weight of Pokemon…

    “So Regirock became half its weight and Heavy Slam did more damage?” Justin asked.

    “Exactly.” Steven said, “Between that, how much further it could be thrown by the attack, and the disadvantage to Steel types, it was enough to give Andrew the opportunity he needed, and it worked…”

    “Nice job.” Lauren said with a grin as her and Candice wandered over. “Granted, Steven did a better job of not damaging the place.”

    Andrew rolled his eyes at Lauren, knowing his sister was only teasing him.

    “Let’s set up camp in here.” Lauren continued, “I don’t think we’re at risk of radiation poisoning, or being trapped in here.”

    Everyone murmured in agreement.

    “Besides, if we do get trapped in here, I’m sure Andrew could break us out…”

    Chapter 6
    Justin moved to the center of the room, furthest from as many lights as he could, before setting up his swag. Whilst he knew the hike that day would have tired him out enough to not struggle too much to get to sleep, he wasn’t sure whether the lights would have an adverse effect on his ability to fall asleep.

    Andrew and Lauren had set up their tents, before departing to find the cache of supplies they had hidden nearby to reduce the amount they’d be carrying. Candice was going to be sharing a tent with Lauren, so had gone to find some firewood, and Steven had brought his own swag along, which he was fumbling around with at the furthest end of the room from the door, talking about how cold it was going to get, though Justin had a hunch it was going to be freezing regardless, since they only had thin mattresses between them and the cold ground.

    Lauren and Andrew returned, carrying a stainless steel canister that had a combination lock on the front of it. Justin watched curiously as Andrew opened it, revealing various ingredients, before he opened his own pack, and pulled out some cooking utensils.

    As he prepared dinner, whilst Candice attempted to get a campfire lit for him to cook it on, Justin remembered how great last night’s dinner was, and watched how expertly Andrew prepared the ingredients they would be eating.

    “I wouldn’t expect someone who works in the mines to be so handy in a kitchen.” Justin commented, watching him thinly slice some vegetables. Andrew chuckled.

    “It’s surprisingly common.” He explained, “You wanna know why?”

    Justin nodded, as Andrew gestured for him to come closer. Justin leaned in, and Andrew spoke quietly.

    “It’s because the food they give us tastes like s**t, and if we want to get a decent meal, we need to learn to make it for ourselves…” Andrew said, before laughing, and continuing to prepare dinner. It was another stew, however Justin was not going to complain, knowing how good the one he prepared the evening before was.

    Justin was surprised at how cheerful everyone was over dinner. It reminded him of last summer, the feeling of sharing a good meal with friends. It helped morale that they had already captured two of the four Pokemon they were after, especially since Andrew was vocally the least confident and had succeeded. Justin however felt less confident than he did, but kept that to himself. He had the most time to come up with a game plan, and just needed to think of something.

    “Steven…” Justin said during a lull in the conversation, “Do you have any advice for me? When it comes my turn to battle?”

    Everyone went quiet, curious to hear what Steven had to say. He had already proven his worth to the expedition three times over, between his easy capture of Registeel and his instruction to Andrew over how to catch Regirock. They were curious to hear whatever insight he offered.

    “You remember about halfway through the summer, Jon had you battle him again to see your progress?” Steven asked.

    “He told you about that?” Justin replied, slightly surprised.

    “Yeah, he was really impressed. Said you’ve shown the second most growth, and that’s only because Dylan was nowhere near as experienced as everyone else. Had he been at your level, you would have been the person who improved the most.” Steven explained, “I can’t give anything certain until we know what it is you will be up against, and I don’t want to be too specific to have you throw away your own judgement and instincts to follow this advice. But think about this battle you have coming up, the same way you thought about that rematch with Jon.”

    “I mean, I kinda see it…” Andrew said, “But this is pretty different to a training match…”

    “No, it’s actually similar in one really big aspect.” Steven explained.

    “What’s that?”

    “Jon is f**king unpredictable when you battle him.” Justin answered, “If I don’t know what to expect in this battle, getting into the headspace when I actually managed to shock someone as hard to predict as Jon might be the best thing I can do…”

    Steven nodded in approval.

    “I better get to see the look on his face when you battle him next.” Steven said with a smirk, “It will be priceless.”

    As the group stayed awake talking around the campfire, Justin wandered around the temple, before pulling out his phone, and snapping a quick picture of the large dark room, lit by the red glow on the outer wall, and the ring of tents and swags behind a campfire surrounded by people.

    Lauren had let Justin connect his phone to the satellite-link to get signal. He had already checked in with home, letting them know he was alright, and so far things had been even more successful than they’d hoped for. As he wandered back to the campfire, he opened the group message that Abbee had made with Charlotte, Chris, Dylan and himself after they left, forwarding the picture, with a caption.

    ”It’s not quite Christmas yet, but Merry Christmas from a six hundred year old temple in the south of Galar. Don’t tell Jon. Planning on bringing a surprise back with me…”

    Within a few minutes, they had all responded.

    “That’s incredible! You’ll have to tell us all about it when you can!” Abbee had said.

    Dylan had sent through a thumbs-up emoji, however the group had learnt after a few conversations in this chat that he wasn’t any more talkative on instant-messages.

    “Goddamn, that looks amazing.” Charlotte replied.

    “What’s the surprise? A girlfriend?” Chris asked, with a laughing emoji, before Charlotte responded with an eye-roll emoji.

    Justin closed his phone before making his way back to the group, who were one by one, yawning more and more. Steven was the first to retire to his swag, with Andrew not too far behind, the exhaustion of the battle he had just won taking its toll. Lauren was the next to go to sleep, warning Justin and Candice not to stay up too late. Especially Candice who would be battling Regice tomorrow afternoon, and didn’t want her performance to suffer from lack of sleep.

    Justin sat awkwardly by the fire, as Candice sat on the other side, staring intently. It would be an understatement if Justin were to say he was not experienced in talking with women. That wasn’t to say that he liked her, although she was friendly, and funny, and definitely pretty, and the more he thought about it, the more he realized that he couldn’t say for certain that he didn’t like her…

    “Dude, she’s like twenty-five.” Justin thought to himself, ”She probably sees you as a kid, so stop thinking like that…

    Candice must have noticed Justin’s internal debate with himself, because she flashed him a quick smile.

    “Does she want me to say something? Or does she want some peace and quiet? Why would she stay up if she wanted to sit here in silence? But what if she doesn’t want to talk to me…”

    Finally Justin composed himself, before speaking up.

    “How do you feel about tomorrow’s battle?” Justin asked.

    “A little bit nervous.” Candice admitted with a smile, “That being said, when we were younger, I used to battle Andrew, and I’d beat him most of the time, so I think I will be okay. But that being said, I only have one Pokemon that has any sort of advantage against Ice-Types…”

    “Advantages are great, and you should definitely use them when you can.” Justin explained, “But the first thing Jon drilled into us last summer was that we are bigger than the circumstances we wind up in, and if we think outside the box and play our cards right, type advantages won’t dictate a battle.”

    “Easier said than done.” Candice laughed, “But you’re right. The amount of trainers I have show up at my gym with a team full of Fire types, who can’t handle the cold is hilarious.”

    Justin laughed, as Candice spoke again.

    “Tell me about this summer you spent in Hoenn?” Candice said, “That’s how you met Steven, right?”

    “Yeah, he is friends with Jon. They train together once a week, and Jon would bring one or two of us along to watch.” Justin explained, “Or when Jon was looking after he and Alyssa’s baby, Steven would fill in and run classes.”

    “Did you get a lot out of it?’

    Justin hesitated hearing that question. It was one he hated answering.

    “I did, but only towards the end…” Justin murmured, “Truth is, I didn’t take the opportunity I had seriously, and wasted a lot of it. I still learnt a lot, but really, I could have learnt so much more…”

    Candice was quiet, but listening intently, so Justin continued.

    “When I got there, I realized I was out of my league with a lot of these guys, and didn’t think I could ever catch up. So I figured, if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t know for sure I couldn’t match them. And if I didn’t try, they wouldn’t know either that deep down, I just wasn’t on their level…”

    “That’s a pretty big turnaround.” Candice said, “What changed that?”

    “I f**ked up, big time.” Justin muttered.

    “There was a girl there who was always on her phone, so every so often, just to wind her up, I’d take it. I always planned on giving it back after a day or two, but it happened a few times.” Justin explained, “What I didn’t know was that the reason she is on her phone so much, is because that’s where she keeps all the photos and videos she has of her mum, who died when she was a kid.”

    Candice went quiet, starting to understand how Justin felt.

    “The only reason I found out was because the whole thing blew up.” Justin said, “Her dad died, and instead of her finding out the way she should, I had her phone and she missed the call, as well as a call from him earlier in the afternoon. She found out when she was watching the news…”

    “That’s what made me want to get my s**t together…” Justin explained, “Me being an idiot and taking nothing seriously hurt someone who was already going through hell even more. It made me start to think about the sort of person I want to be, and the sort of person I want to be remembered as, and I realized how much better I wanted to be than what I was…”

    “Did… Did she forgive you?” Candice asked cautiously.

    “We talked about it a week or two later, and she seemed okay. I apologized, and she was as honest as she could be, and we’re still okay, so I think she has. But that speaks more about her than me…” Justin said, “She told me to stop beating myself up because of it.”

    “Maybe you should listen to her…” Candice said, “I mean, it sucks it turned out the way it did, but it seems like she has forgiven you, and you’ve obviously grown from it.”

    Candice stood up, stretching her arms as she spoke.

    “I mean it’d be one thing if you didn’t learn your lesson and kept doing it, only being sorry you got caught.” Candice said, “But if you let all of this weigh you down, that baggage will only grow next time you mess something up. And there will be a next time. We all have them.”

    Justin wasn’t convinced, and looked at the fire.

    “What did Jon have to say about it all?” Candice asked, “I hear different things about him from everyone, but I doubt he took it lightly?”

    “By the time I went and talked to him, I had already been thrashed by the others there, and Jon thought I’d been punished enough.”

    “And he was fine after that?”

    “Yeah.” Justin said, “During our last training session, I told him I had something in mind to challenge myself before I came back. Something to prove to myself that I can actually do something worthwhile, and he told me that I could do it, and that the sky's the limit.”

    As Justin said the last words, Candice’s eyes widened.

    “The sky…” She said quietly, before quickly turning to Justin. “Do you remember what the weather was like today?”

    “It was clear wasn’t it?”

    Candice walked past Justin grabbing him by the forearm, and pulling him onto his feet. Justin was thankful for the dim light already casting a red glow, because it made his face going red from the touch a little less obvious.

    “Come check this out…”

    Justin followed Candice towards the entrance to the temple. The closer they got, the colder it became. They walked out the front door, standing under the covered section.

    “Now look up.”

    Justin looked up and was shocked to see how many stars were in the night sky. He lived in Lumiose City in Kalos, which had some of the brightest lights in the world, and made star-gazing near impossible.

    “I think if this girl has forgiven you, and Jon sees potential in you to do good, you should try and see yourself the way they do.” Candice said, “Flawed, yes, but willing to learn and grow, with the potential to do whatever you put your mind to.”

    Justin was still in awe as the pair looked around the night sky. He quickly snapped a photo with his phone, however the measly camera hardly did the sight justice.

    “Thanks…” Justin said, though wanting to change the subject. “Do you do this often? Check out the stars I mean, not console emotionally damaged teenagers…”

    Candice laughed.

    “Whenever I can really.” she explained, “That’s one of the reasons I took the Gym Leader position in Snowpoint. The skies are as dark as this. I don’t think I could ever leave for too long really…”

    “You grew up there didn’t you?” Justin asked, “That’s how you know Lauren?”

    “Yeah, I moved there when I was about eight, and have been there ever since, so most of my life. Nearly thirteen years now…” Candice said, not taking her eyes off the stars.

    Something didn’t add up. Literally.

    “Thirteen years?” Justin asked, “Aren’t you like twenty-five or something?”

    That question was enough to pull Candice’s attention. She looked at him before laughing.

    “What makes you say that?”

    “Well Lauren’s doing her PhD and I know she has her Bachelor’s and Masters, so she’d be what, 25 or so if she did it all back to back?” Justin said, “And when she told me you were coming, she said you went to school together?”

    Candice laughed even more.

    “So I moved to Sinnoh from Kanto when I was eight, and they start school a year earlier than Sinnoh there. I skipped a grade there, so by the time I met Lauren in Snowpoint, her and all my other classmates were two years older than me. They were seventeen when we graduated and I was fifteen. It was weird.” Candice explained, “Then Lauren, being the study-freak that she is, finished her degree in two years, and her masters in one. Refused to take a break. She’d do more classes than technically allowed per semester, and intensives between the semesters.”

    “So you’re…” Justin asked.

    “Twenty-one in a few months.” Candice laughed, “Does it matter?”

    “No, of course not…” Justin muttered, as Candice grinned.

    “Of course not…” she said, giving Justin a wink, “Anyway, as much as I’d love to keep watching the stars, I am freezing out here, and if an ice-specialist says that, it must be cold. That and Lauren would kill me if I fell asleep during my battle tomorrow.”

    She went to walk back inside, but instead, kissed him on the cheek.

    “Now you can tell your friends you caught an undiscovered Legendary Pokemon, and got a kiss from a gym leader.” Candice said, as she walked in the door, “But you gotta tell me after which one impressed them more. Goodnight!”

    “Night…” Justin said softly, still in shock at what just happened, as Candice walked back into the temple.

    When he was sure she wasn’t coming back out for anything, Justin opened his phone. He was still connected to the satellite-link, so opened the group chat again, sending the photo he took of the night sky. It was slow to upload, but once it did, he wrote a caption.

    ”No girlfriend, but I did get a kiss from a gym leader under this…”

    He pocketed the phone, before making his way inside, and unzipping his swag, thankful the fire was close enough to radiate some warmth. Before he went to sleep, he opened his phone again.

    ”Wait what?” Abbee had said.

    ”WHO?!” Charlotte demanded.

    Dylan had replied with two thumbs up, which was a surprise. Justin felt honored.

    Last was Chris.

    “I call Tauros s**t. Pics or it didn’t happen…”


    Chapter 7
    Justin awoke in the morning to see a flurry of notifications. Turns out Abbee and Charlotte had decided to investigate this claim, giving all of them plenty to talk about.

    “It’s gotta be either Jasmine from Olivine City, Candice from Snowpoint City, or Elesa from Nimbasa City. They’re the only ones who are young enough that it isn’t extremely weird, that haven’t been posting pictures and stuff to Twitter recently.” Abbee had said.

    ”Can rule out Jasmine. Clair said that she is seeing Jasmine tomorrow night at the Johto League Christmas Party.” Chris added in.

    “My money is on Candice. I’m from Sinnoh, and nobody goes to Snowpoint to battle the Gym this time of year. It’s freezing there, though South Galar isn’t any warmer…” Charlotte explained.

    ”Isn’t Elesa rumoured to be dating that photographer?” Abbee asked, ”I think you’re right… Justin, why are you with Candice?

    Dylan gave a thumbs up, as Justin read the messages in disbelief.

    ”How is she not an investigator or something…” Justin thought to himself as he got dressed in his warm sleeping bag, before getting out of the swag.

    “Morning.” Lauren said, not looking up from the tablet she was reading from. It was 6am, and Andrew and Steven were both also up and ready to go, Steven having just finished packing his swag and Andrew furiously trying to get the tent to fit back into the bag it came out of.

    Justin noticed the tent that Lauren and Candice shared was still up.

    “I told her not to stay up too late…” Lauren muttered, seeming to notice Justin looking by the tent.

    “Don’t worry, I’m getting up!” Candice called out, as Lauren rolled her eyes.

    By 7am, everyone had some breakfast from the cache that Andrew had brought yesterday, which they decided to leave, as they would be spending the night after next, as well as another night on the trip back to Freezington, and could take it back with them then. All the tents were packed and they decided to head off.

    Spirits were high as they travelled, which was surprising, given how cold and tired they were, and how the longest treks were only just starting. Once they captured Regice that evening, it would be three days of travel before they reached the last temple, and two to three days to get back to Freezington.

    It was noon when they found themselves at the base of the small mountain that housed the third temple at its peak. As they walked, Lauren explained some things about the next temple.

    “Truth is, this temple is the one I have the least ideas on how to unlock.” Lauren explained, “The braille on the door says Walk together with a living crystal of snow...”

    “The biggest indicator is the word living, which means it has to be plant, human or Pokemon.” Lauren explained, “However walk together seems to write out plants as well.”

    “You think it’s an ice Pokemon?” Candice asked.

    “Most likely, but I have no clue which.” Lauren replied, “Any ideas?”

    “Not off the top of my head but I will think about it.”

    The group continued to hike up the somewhat steep mountain trail that seemed invisible to all but Lauren and Andrew, who had found the route up the mountain during their first visit to the temple. It was a little after 3pm when they found themselves in front of the door.

    “So I have one idea, but it’s hard to say for sure.” Candice explained, “What ice Pokemon have you seen in the area?”

    Lauren opened her pack, pulling out the tablet she had been using that morning, and opened her notes from when her and Andrew were last here, before she read out the list of ice-type Pokemon she saw here.

    “...Snom, Beartic, Vanilluxe, Sneasel, Cryogonal…”

    “Stop.” Candice interrupted, “If it’s anything, it’s probably Cryogonal…”

    “So we need to catch a Cryogonal?” Lauren said, as she began looking over her notes, “I logged two locations nearby where I had seen them.”

    “So split into two teams and try and find one?” Steven asked, “Then radio in when one of us does?”

    “If we were anywhere else, I’d say yes. But it won’t be that simple.” Lauren explained, opening her map.

    “This is the path we came up, going up the front of the mountain.” Lauren explained drawing a line up the screen with her finger, “I logged seeing Cryogonal here and here.”

    She tapped on two marks on her digital map on opposite sides of the mountain.

    “They are close, and not too difficult to reach from here, but technically these sites are down the mountain, and if we are split between both those sites, we won’t be able to get radio signal from one to another.” Lauren explained, “So I will stay here with a radio, Steven and Andrew, you two go down the west side to that location, and Justin and Candice, you guys will go down to the east side.”

    Andrew opened his pack, fishing out two radios, handing one to Lauren and one to Justin.

    “If either of you catch one, radio in.” Lauren explained, “You will be able to get in touch with me, and I will forward a message to the other group to come back.”

    “Both Andrew and I have full parties now.” Steven interjected.

    “Good point. Leave your Pokedexes with me, and take these…” Lauren replied, finding a few Pokeballs in her bag, “I only brought three Pokemon with me, and these are synced to my dex, so it should register as my Pokemon.”

    “What about you two?” she asked, turning to Justin and Candice, “Do you have space?”

    “I only have four Pokemon, so can catch one more and still catch Regice.” Candice replied, “We should be fine.”

    Lauren nodded.

    “Well keep an eye out for this Pokemon, stay safe, and keep in touch.”

    With that, Lauren found somewhere to sit down by the Temple, whilst the two pairs went off in their respective directions. Justin let out his Houndour again, as it was the Pokemon he battled with least, and tried to make a point of letting it get exercise when he could.

    “So what’s life as a Gym Leader like?” Justin asked, trying to break the silence as they made their way down the slope.

    “Pretty uneventful really. Being a gym leader late in the sequence means you have some pretty amazing battles when people challenge you, since they have already beaten six gyms prior, but the flip side is they don’t happen often.” Candice explained, “Volkner, the gym leader in Sunnyshore City, has that even worse than me.”

    Candice maneuvered around a rock in her path as she continued.

    “I was joking with Steven about me being put as the eighth Gym Leader in Sinnoh, but in all honesty, that may be best for everyone.” Candice continued, “Honestly, I think he may be getting a little depressed at how inactive it is. Snowpoint is such a challenge to get to, and I am obligated to make trainers earn their badge, so they are well equipped for Victory Road, but because of them, a lot of trainers don’t actually make it past me. I get few challengers, and I’d say Volkner gets half the challengers I do. Maybe I should get Cynthia to switch us. Have the challenge to get the opportunity for the last badge be the trek through Mt. Coronet and the snow.”

    “But what about you?” Justin asked, “You’d just wind up with even less challengers?”

    “I would, and I’d miss the battles.” Candice explained, “But that being said, I could make it work. Maybe if Volkner were to contact me whenever someone beats him for the seventh badge, I’d be able to know when I have to be home. Or even if the League had some booking system for gym battles so I could travel. I mean, you met Steven because he lives on Mossdeep Island, even though the League isn’t there.”

    “True.” Justin replied, “And hey, once you catch Regice, they will almost have to make you last…”

    Candice laughed.

    “I guess so.”

    “Do you think you’ll be the Gym Leader for a while?” Justin asked.

    “It’s hard to say. I love the job, and as cold and miserable as it can get, love Snowpoint. But I know that eventually my enthusiasm for it will start to dwindle, and I’ll have to pass the role on to someone who is willing to put in a hundred percent.” Candice said, “I’ve been the Gym Leader there for two years now, and still enjoy it, but that being said, when Lauren offered me a trip to Galar to catch a Legendary Pokemon, I jumped on that opportunity a little too much. I’ll definitely stick around as Gym Leader for a few more years, but beyond that… Well, let’s just say I don’t think I will be there when I am 30…”

    “I know Steven as Champion had to oversee some operations, like the one to figure out what the Diamond Ladies were doing. Do Gym Leaders get caught up in that?”

    “No, usually the Champions will recruit specialized trainers to help with those sorts of operations.” Candice explained, “We have more of a responsibility to the cities we live in, and any nearby towns that don’t have Gyms. If there were to be an attack on Snowpoint, and I’m not there, it could be a disaster.”

    “It’s a lot of responsibility for someone so young.” Justin said as Candice grinned.

    “Young? Last night, you seemed to think I was so old…” Candice berated jokingly.

    “Come on, I thought you were like three or four years older than you actually are…” Justin replied, rolling his eyes, “You’re the only one throwing the O word around.”

    “Compared to you I’m old…” Candice retorted, “You’re what, fifteen?”

    “I’m seventeen, and you know it.” Justin replied, “At least I hope you do, because if you really thought I was fifteen last night, that makes what you did really f**king creepy…”

    Candice burst into laughter at Justin’s logic.

    “Can’t argue with that. Don’t worry, I know you’re not that young.” Candice said, “As someone a bit older, I can tell you that you’re a bit more mature than most seventeen year olds. I suppose that’s why Lauren thought it okay to bring you here. I thought she lost it when she told me the squad had both a miner and a minor.”

    Justin was surprised to hear that. Had he really changed that much since the start of summer?

    “Half the reason I was desperate for Steven to join us was because I didn’t think my parents would let me come here if I didn’t have someone with a reputation on the team. But don’t get too excited.” Justin replied, “I still gotta catch whatever is in the last set of ruins.”

    “You’ll be fine.” Candice said, “I mean, it will have been, what, five days in the wilderness before you battle it? If you can survive five days roughing it like this, I think the battle should be okay.”

    Justin went quiet, not sure Candice’s confidence was well placed. She seemed to notice, and changed the subject.

    “So what about you?” Candice asked, “What will you do once you finish school? Next year is your last year isn’t it?”

    “I don’t really know.” Justin said, “One idea that has been in my mind a bit recently is to join the Police Force.”

    “Really?” Candice asked, as the ground levelled out and they found themselves at the location that Lauren had mentioned. “You wanna become a cop? Didn’t I hear you tell Lauren you got arrested last summer?”

    “You heard that?” Justin laughed, “Yeah, the whole thing was stupid. I was getting lunch with a friend from the Academy at a cafe in Mossdeep, and noticed someone else from the Academy being harassed by a couple of guys, trying to pester her into accepting a ride with them. She had told them to leave her alone and they wouldn’t, so I tried to talk it out and convince them to leave, before they got hurt…”

    “You were threatening them?”

    “No, I was giving them a very reasonable warning…” Justin explained, “The girl they were pestering was the best trainer at the Academy and she was ready to send out a Pokemon. She could have kicked their a**es, and then mine after if she felt like it. Anyway, my friend, Chris, who had been in the bathroom, came out and saw what was happening, and things got really interesting…”

    “Oh yeah?” Candice asked, eager to hear more.

    “I can’t remember the exact words of what he said, but it was something along the lines calling them dense for not taking the hint, and then telling them that they should go back to the car they were driving that obviously belonged to one of their mums, rethink their life choices if they are a trio of twenty year olds harassing a sixteen year old girl, and then go f**k off, or something along those lines, and if they didn’t, once Pokemon came out it would get ugly…” Justin said, “Chris was fifteen at the time, and he was either very brave, or very stupid. But they wanted a fight, and the three of us had their Pokemon knocked out within a minute, and Chris took on all three of them himself until the police came.”

    Candice burst into laughter.

    “What did Jon think about all of that?”

    “He told us that he was glad we were looking out for each other and had each other's backs. Though told Chris to try using his words first, and I quote, not just the f**ks and s**ts...”

    “That’s good advice.” Candice laughed, “I think…”

    “Really, it was after that I started thinking I might want to join the police.” Justin said, “I was in a situation where I could help someone, and surprisingly enough, I wasn’t too scared to do it. But I just didn’t know the best way to do that, you know? I don’t even know whether there was anything I could have done to defuse it instead of letting it become a fight, even if Chris hadn’t shown up and decided to throw down.”

    “I wish I could be a Cutiefly on the wall when you have that interview. What made you want to become a police officer?” She asked, putting on one voice, then changing to another, “It all started with this one summer when I got arrested…

    Justin laughed as something caught Candice’s eye.

    “There…” Candice said, pointing. At the other end of the clearing floated a blue, hexagonal Pokemon shaped like a snowflake.

    “I’ll weaken it.” Justin said quietly, “You sneak around behind it and try to get the jump on it.”

    Candice nodded, before creeping into a line of trees. Once she was out of sight, Justin called Houndour over, before calling out to the Cryogonal.

    “Hey, snowflake!” Justin called out, “Come get some!”

    Houndour darted forward, and Justin noticed Candice emerging from the trees behind it.

    “Hit it with a flamethrower!” Justin called out.

    “Wait!” Candice called back, but it was too late. Houndour launched a breath of flame from its jaws, and engulfed Cryogonal in it. When the flames disappeared, Cryogonal was gone.

    “When it’s temperature gets too high, it melts into water vapor…” Candace said, as she made her way back.

    “Wait, did I just kill it?!’ Justin asked in shock.

    “No, it’s still alive, but it would have taken this opportunity to flee. Once it gets cold enough it will reform, but that will be a few hours.”

    “Goddamn it.” Justin muttered, “Sorry…”

    “No, I should have said something…” Candice replied, “You had a fire type out, and I didn’t even think twice. It’s on both of us…”

    The pair spent the next half hour wandering around the area, hoping to find another Cryogonal. Eventually the radio they carried sparked to life.

    ”Justin, you copy?” said Lauren’s voice from the crackly speaker, ”Over.”

    Justin unclipped the radio from his belt before speaking into it.

    “This is Justin.” he replied, “Over.”

    “Steven found and caught a Cryogonal, so you guys can head back up here now. Over…”

    “Well be right there. Over.”

    Justin put the radio back on his belt before breathing a sigh of relief and turning to Candice.

    “If anyone asks, we found nothing…” Justin said, “Agreed?”

    “Agreed…” Candice said with a faint smile.

    Chapter 8
    The sun was starting to set when Justin and Candice joined the other three members of the party by the temple.

    “You guys find anything?” Steven asked, not that it mattered anyway.

    “Nope, nothing.” Justin said quickly, as Candice grinned, “You guys did though, right?”

    “Right here…” Andrew said, as he tossed a Pokeball up and down in the air, before tossing it towards Candice who caught it.

    “You know the drill.” Steven explained, “As far as we know, these Pokemon are big on technicalities, so if one of us opens the Temple, it may cause problems with obedience later. This has gotta be you…”

    Candice nodded as she made her way to the door, before pressing the button on the Pokeball, letting out a Cryogonal, who seemed a bit dazed from the battle it endured before being captured.

    There was a loud crack as the door began to open, and a light blue, almost ice-like glow bled out of the building.

    “Let’s go.” Candice said, leading the way in. Whilst she seemed determined, Justin had a hunch part of that was to hide her own nervousness about what was going to happen. Whilst she is a better battler than Andrew, she has less Pokemon and only one with a type advantage, so she did have the right to be nervous.

    Once they were inside they were treated to the familiar sight of the temple interior, however this one seemed colder, which was understandable, being on top of a mountain and home to Regice. And they knew it was only going to get colder…

    Candice found the plates on the floor in the middle of the room, that were arranged in a cross pattern, whilst Lauren made her way to the statue that would come to life with the right prompting, to double check the plaque next to it.

    Let only the challenger wake the Titan of Ice.” Lauren read out, “This is it. You ready?”

    “Ready as I can be.” She said, slightly surprising Justin with how determined she was, given how easygoing she had been since he met her, “Let’s do this.”

    Candice began pressing all the plates, and as she pressed the last one, creating the last column of blue light, all of the plates began to dim, as the ground rumbled. The spine chilling sound of ice being scraped across the ground pierced the room whilst Candice sent out her first Pokemon. Sneasel, which she quickly gave an instruction to. He was surprised to see this at first, since Sneasel has no type advantages, but recognized the look on her face. The look of someone with a plan.

    Regice slid towards the center of the room as Candice darted back. Once it was in place, it focused on Sneasel. There was a high pitched whir, before a white laser blasted from the center of the cross of lights on Regice’s face, being dodged by mere centimeters by Sneazel, and leaving a chunk of ice the size of Andrew where it struck, pure and clear as glass.

    “S**t…” Justin muttered, as Sneazel stopped, waiting for Regice to see it and launch another attack, which it very easily dodged, leaving another large chunk of ice where it had been.

    Justin watched in confusion as Sneazel didn’t try and attack, instead stopping at certain places and letting Regice turn around to blast another ice beam, only to dodge it.

    “Is she trying to wear it out?” Justin asked Steven, “Because I am not sure that will work…”

    “I don’t think so, but I can’t tell what she is doing…” Steven explained, “Making cover maybe? That ice is strong, so it would work, but I am not sure. She seems to know what she is doing though…”

    As the battle wore on and the minutes passed, there was no direct path towards Regice, as the battlefield was dotted with large chunks of what looked to be near unbreakable ice. There was even a straight line from the center of the room that had lined up, one after another, mounds of ice, making it difficult to cross. It got to the point where Sneasel baited Regice to fill gaps between some of the close by mounds.

    Lauren was the first to grin at what she saw, once there was enough ice on the field for her to realize.

    “What’s she doing?” Justin asked, noticing the smile.

    “Just watch. It will happen soon…”

    Eventually the battlefield seemed more like a jagged maze of ice, with walls everywhere, and Justin was struggling to keep sight of Sneasel, and it took him a second to understand why. That was when Candice struck…

    “Quick attack!” Candice called out, “Lose its focus!”

    There was a series of quick cries as Sneazel darted from one place to another, before Justin couldn’t even see it. Instead, he saw an improvised hall of mirrors, with dozens of reflections thanks to Regice’s near perfect ice.

    “Now Taunt!” Candice commanded, whilst Regice looked around trying to identify the real Sneasel. Sneazel let out a mocking cry, causing Regice to cry out in frustration with its voice that sounded like ice being grinded down, and started firing Ice Beams at every reflection it could see, making more mirrors, and trapping itself in the center.

    “Sneasel, come back!” She called, before returning the Pokemon to its Pokeball, and unclipping another. She focused on a spot right behind the near perfectly straight line of ice mounds Sneasel had baited Regice into making, before lobbing her Pokeball as close to the spot as possible. It erupted with white light, as a large Abomasnow landed on the ground. It stared through the glass-like chunks of ice, at Regice on the other side of them, Candice called out her next command.

    “Solar Beam!” She shouted, “Through the ice!”

    “I don’t think she realizes how much of a genius she is…” Lauren said, watching in awe.

    “Solar Beam will be useless in here?” Andrew said, “There’s no sunlight? It will take too long for it to charge up…”

    “Solar Beam is only called Solar Beam because it charges faster in direct sunlight.” Lauren explained, “Light is different colors from different wavelengths. Artificial light that causes a slow charge up and weak attack for solar beam is mostly green and yellow light. But sunlight has the red and blue wavelengths that plants thrive on…”

    “And this whole place is filled with blue lights…” Andrew realized.

    “I don’t think she realized that would make a difference.” Lauren explained, “Her plan is to use those chunks of ice as a bunch of magnifying glasses, concentrating the beam of light directly at it. But it’s going to hit Regice a hell of a lot harder than she realizes, assuming the ice holds up…”

    Justin watched in awe as Candice was about to majorly tip the scales and wasn’t even aware of it.

    “Now!” Candice called out, as Abomasnow cried out, having absorbed enough light, and released it all in a single, bright blue beam. To Candice’s surprise however, the Solar Beam was stronger than any she had seen Abomasnow perform at home, even outdoors, though sunlight was never overly bright in Snowpoint.

    Justin clenched his fists, as the light hit the first piece of ice, condensing to a smaller point before hitting the second and condensing even further, hoping the ice didn’t melt. To his relief it held up, and by the time the light passed through the fifth block of ice, the point it made was the size of a bullet.

    Regice was thrown backwards into the ice behind it, continuing to take the blast for a few seconds after impact, as the ice it fell into melted. The Solar Beam stopped, and the ice she had used to magnify it had melted.

    “She doesn’t realize how much of a genius she is…” Lauren said, “Look…”

    Justin looked over at Regice, who wasn’t moving.

    “Is it…” Justin asked as he realized. Regice was still conscious and still able to fight in terms of energy levels, but…

    “The ambient temperature around Regice is roughly 330 degrees fahrenheit below zero…” Lauren explained, “The half melted chunk of ice it fell into has already frozen around it.”

    Whilst a lesser trainer would have pelted the Pokeball then, it would have been detrimental. Regice was still putting up a fight, even though it was trapped, and if it broke out of the Pokeball, it would be free of the icy strait-jacket it was now in as well. As much as Candice didn’t like doing this, she had to hit it while it was down. She called back Abomasnow, before sending out Medicham.

    “Hit it with a Fire Punch!” Candice called out, remembering what Lauren had said about how cold Regice was. Getting too close would be a mistake without some kind of warmth.

    Medicham rushed forward, its fists becoming engulfed in flames, as Regice charged another ice beam. It was near impossible for Justin to guess which would hit first. The Ice Beam or Fire Punch.

    There was a crash as the Fire Punch landed, shattering the ice behind Regice and knocking it back, as Candice pelted a Pokeball at it. The Pokeball shook, but of all the ones that had been caught so far, Regice gave up the quickest. Candice walked over to claim her prize.

    “Goddamn…” Justin said as he walked towards her, “I think you even impressed Steven with that…”

    “Didn’t realize I was allegedly that hard to impress.” Steven retorted, “But yeah, I’m definitely impressed, considering you definitely had it harder in terms of typing…”

    “You can thank Justin.” Candice said to Steven, “He told me if I thought outside the box, type advantages won’t dictate the battle, and I guess it worked…”

    “Well Solar Beam should be ineffective against an ice-type, and you made that work…” Justin commented, “Give yourself some credit. Really.”

    Candice smiled at Justin before Lauren spoke up.

    “If we want to stand a chance at not freezing in here over night, we better make a start clearing out the ice…” Lauren said looking around. Justin hadn’t thought of that, and based on Candice’s expression, she hadn’t either. If they couldn’t clear the ice, they had better chances of trying to find shelter outside.

    Lauren and Candice left to go get the next food cache that had been hidden, whilst Steven, Andrew and Justin began to deal with the ice. Whilst Justin’s first instinct was to start melting it with Houndour, Steven pointed out that it would flood the room.

    The plan was simple. Steven and Andrew had their Pokemon shatter all the large chunks of ice into smaller pieces, as it would melt easier if it had a higher surface-area to volume ratio, something Justin remembered hearing about in his science classes. Whilst they did that, Justin had his Alakazam, alongside Steven’s Metagross and Claydol, gather all of the broken pieces of ice into a straight line from the door, down the middle of the room. Once all the ice was shattered and placed, Steven had his Aggron use Earth Power, to create an earthy barrier either side of the long pile of crushed ice, before Justin had his Houndour start to melt the ice.

    As it melted, the water flowed between the two barriers, out the door of the temple, and down the side of the mountain. Justin had Houndour use his Flamethrower attack on the ground to try and evaporate the residual water, and ideally, put a bit of heat in the slab beneath them so the night wasn’t going to be as cold. However to his surprise, upon seeing what he was doing, Steven commanded his Aggron to use Flamethrower, and Andrew called out his Golem and Rhyperior, who alongside his Machamp, all began doing the same thing.

    “All your Pokemon know Flamethrower?” Justin asked.

    “All that can learn it from a TR.” Steven replied, “They’re cheap enough, and good value for the coverage it provides.”

    “I’d need it especially.” Andrew explained, “I work with ground and rock types a lot for work, which means all it takes is a grass type to show its face in a battle, and I am in trouble.”

    Justin nodded, as the Pokemon continued working. Before too long, the room was toastier than the cabin they had been staying in, and Justin had removed most of his layers, even his shoes, which provided a great deal of relief for his sore, travel-worn feet.

    Candice and Lauren returned, stopping inside the door as they realized how warm it was.

    “Hey, this is nice!” Candice called out, taking off her thick coat, “Why didn’t we think of this last night?”

    “Even if we did, it wouldn’t have worked.” Justin explained, “The only Pokemon we have with Flamethrower that didn’t battle a Legendary Pokemon is my Houndour, which would have keeled over if he did this by himself.”

    Candice laughed, as walked to the center of the room with the cache, that Andrew then proceeded to unlock.

    The group went about setting up their tents and swags again, whilst Candice built another fire, and sadly, the chamber had cooled down again by the time they had their sleeping arrangements set up. Justin sighed a little as he put his layers back on. He knew not to see it as any more than a side effect of evaporating the last of the water, but still wished it had stayed that warm.

    As the smell of dinner wafted through the temple, and people filled time in different ways, there was a thought that loomed over Justin. Something he couldn’t quite shake, though he knew it would be silly to.

    ”I’m next…

    Chapter 9
    Justin awoke in his swag, and found notifications on his phone from the group chat.

    ”Merry Christmas everyone!” Abbee had said, “Miss you all!”

    “Merry Christmas! See you all next summer.” Charlotte had added.

    Dylan sent a Santa Clause emoji, differing from his usual thumbs up, whilst Christ sent through a picture of a Santa Clause that looked homeless and quite drunk with two middle fingers raised, earning an angry emoji from Charlotte.

    ”I didn’t even realize today was Christmas…” Justin explained, ”I’ve been on this hike since the morning of the 22nd, and won’t be in a real bed until the 29th… Merry Christmas all…”

    It had been two days since Candice caught Regice. The day prior, they had descended the mountain, and had returned to the temple where Andrew had captured Regirock, spending the night there again. This was by far the longest trip of the campaign. From where they were now, Lauren estimated it would take two days to reach the final temple. Two days for Justin to figure out how he was going to beat whatever lay in the temple waiting for him, and capture it. However, after a second he realized something had slipped his mind.

    He got out of the swag, and noticed Lauren was awake. Steven, Andrew and Candice were all still asleep, seeing as they didn’t have to battle that evening, and because they were going to be camping in a cave, it’s not like they had to stop travelling when it got dark. Justin and Candice had both stayed up late again talking, and Justin wasn’t surprised Candice was still asleep.

    “Lauren, I just realized something…” Justin said, as Lauren looked up from her tablet.

    “What’s that?”

    “The temples we have been to so far all displayed the facial pattern on the outside of the titan that was inside it. But the fourth one had two different patterns, didn’t it?” Justin asked, “Doesn’t that mean there are likely two new titans in there?”

    “I’d say almost certainly…”

    “You don’t expect me to capture both of them do you?” Justin asked, slightly panicked, “I will struggle to capture even one…”

    “Don’t worry, I only want you to capture one of them.” Lauren explained.

    “Even then, how come you’ve only ever talked as if there is only one there?”

    “Because if my intuition is correct, we will only be able to battle one…” Lauren said.

    “What makes you say that?”

    “The three temples we have been giant structures that would have been far from easy to make, and functionally identical. The only difference between them is the color of the lighting, the ancient texts, and the method of entry.” Lauren explained, “Really, I see no reason that Regice couldn’t have been in Registeel’s temple.”

    “Okay…” Justin said, not following her logic.

    “The reason I think you will only be able to battle one is that if you could go there and battle both of them, why put the three we have captured already in functionally identical temples? Why go to the effort of building three temples, instead of just putting them all in one?” Lauren said, “I think the reason is because only one of them is capable of being awoken per temple. Truth is, I think that if there are two in this fourth temple, whatever one you decide not to catch, I will have to find elsewhere.”

    “That seems a little bit of a stretch…” Justin replied, “Maybe the three we have caught were separated to make it a challenge to enter the fourth temple? I mean, it’s entry requirement is the three of them, isn’t it?”

    “It is, but I’d say fighting all three of them in one sitting is more of a challenge than getting from one to another…” Lauren explained.

    “Still, what if you’re wrong?” Justin asked, “What if there are two in there and we have to fight both?”

    “By then, Andrew, Candice and Steven’s teams will all be at 100%, with Legendary Pokemon themselves.” Lauren said, “They will hold off the one you don’t want to catch, while you focus on capturing the one you are after. It’s not ideal, given Steven’s explanation about Legendary Pokemon, however, if that’s the way things play out, it’s the best we can do. But I am certain that it will only allow us to awaken one.”

    “I hope you’re right…”

    The sun had already risen when they departed the temple, having packed their belongings again and had a quick breakfast. Steven and Justin both carried the empty metal canisters that had contained their supplies for the last few days. The plan was to leave them somewhere out of the way when they reached a point they would be going past on the way back. Andrew and Lauren were both certain nobody was out here, so it wouldn’t be an issue.

    As they walked, Candice walked at the front of the group with Lauren, whilst Andrew walked by himself a few meters behind. Steven and Justin were a few meters behind Andrew, walking together.

    “So I see you and Candice have gotten pretty close…” Steven said quietly, as the pair walked. Justin felt a quick sense of embarrassment, that Steven had noticed. If he had, chances are, everyone else had.

    “She’s easy to talk to.” Justin explained, matching Steven’s volume, “And the closest person here to my own age.”

    “I get that. She is a lovely young woman.” Steven replied, “Far from the stereotypical ice-specialists I tend to meet…”

    “Steven, I get she’s technically an adult, and I’m still a minor…” Justin began, before Steven interrupted

    “It’s not that. I know that nothing below reproach is or will happen.” Steven explained, “But just remember that this time and place we are in, is pretty unique, and one-off.”

    “We’re all here, in an unknown section of the world, travelling together, battling together and struggling together. It’s only natural that bonds will form, and that’s good. But that sense of magic and adventure won’t last forever.” Steven explained, “You will go back to Kalos, back to school, and things will be normal again. And she will go back to Sinnoh, and back to being a gym leader…”

    “You think this will all just mean nothing?” Justin asked, not being sarcastic, but genuinely worried that that could be the case.

    “Not nothing.” Steven explained, “I’m just saying that you will be going from spending a week or two with her nearly 24/7, to being on opposite sides of the world, with lives outside of one-another. Things will be different when this is over. Just be prepared for that...”

    “You know that for sure?” Justin asked.

    “Why do you think it took years before Cynthia and I finally bit the bullet and started dating?” Steven asked, “We’d spend days, weeks together on League assignments and such. Dangerous, adrenaline filled scenarios. We’d be closer than anyone else I ever knew, but then we’d go back to our homes, and life would return to the way it was.”

    “We took years because we knew that it couldn’t work out if we weren’t going to give up other parts of our lives. We both had responsibilities, and couldn’t just up and leave to go see one-another. So we had to figure out how we could make that work.” Steven said, “Part of the reason we are so private about it is that even though we are making sure our responsibilities to our regions aren’t being compromised, if it came out that we were together, every time I’d visit Sinnoh, there’d be slander pieces written about the Hoenn Champion leaving his region to visit his girlfriend…”

    “I’ve been in your shoes Justin…” Steven explained, “You guys may still be close a year from now, and I hope you are. But chances are it won’t be the same as the way things are now…”

    “Thanks…” Justin said half heartedly.

    It was early afternoon when they reached the cave that they had to cross through. Whilst normally, Justin would be dead against delving into a cave in an unknown section of the region, Lauren and Andrew had made their way through here before, marking walls, taking notes, and even doing a few return trips to make sure their notes were accurate, and to commit what they could to memory.

    Torches were pulled out of packs as the cave grew dark, and as they walked, Justin felt Candice walk close to him, which made him feel even uneasier about what Steven said. Would this all be over when he got home?

    It was early evening when they stopped for the night. The sound of running water was starting to trickle through the caverns when Lauren signalled for them to set up camp where they were. The exit of the cave was via the river they could hear, and if they camped too close to it, they would struggle to keep warm, as well as risk not being able to sleep from the noise.

    Justin sat quietly by the small fire they built. Andrew had left a cache in the cave, with materials to keep a fire burning, as well as food, which he had found not far from their campsite. As Justin sat, he now worried about both his battle that he would be doing tomorrow, and also what life after this trip would be like.

    “I’m almost out of water, but I can't leave this sitting unattended.” Andrew called out from the fire where he was cooking dinner, “If anyone else needs to fill up, can they take mine? The stream we take out of here is fresh water, and good to drink.”

    “I’ll go.” Justin said, looking for an excuse to spend some time alone. He was only starting to realize how little he’d had since he arrived in Galar. He stood up and made his way towards the sound of running water.

    “I’ll come too.” Candice said, “Mine’s almost empty as well.”

    Candice jumped up, turning on her torch and following Justin down the cavern. They walked in silence, before Candice spoke up.

    “You nervous about tomorrow?” She asked softly, “You seem quiet…”

    “A bit, but…” Justin began, before trailing off in his thoughts. Candice could tell something was wrong, before speaking again.

    “What’s wrong?” she asked, “Really?”

    “What happens when this is all over? To us?” Justin asked, “Is it just business as usual when this is over? We both go home, and that’s it?”

    “I don’t know… I honestly hadn’t thought about it.” Candice replied, “I guess I’ve just been trying to enjoy the moment.”

    Justin stopped walking, trying to process his thoughts.

    “I think you’re great Candice. Incredible even. And I’ve loved spending time with you and getting to know you.” Justin said, surprised at how open he was being, “But at the same time, I can’t help but think how once Lauren doesn’t need our help anymore, I’ll just be a kid from Kalos, who has to go home and finish school, and you’re a Gym Leader in Sinnoh, who has her own life and responsibilities…”

    Candice looked shocked hearing what was on Justin’s mind.

    “I guess, I wonder if we are wasting our time, or setting ourselves up to just be hurt, when really, a year from now, we may not even be in touch.” Justin said quietly, before continuing to walk, as Candice remained where she stood, thinking over what Justin said.

    “A year from now…” Candice called out, “Today is Christmas day, so Christmas of next year, right?”

    “Yeah…” Justin replied, not sure where she was going.

    “A year from now, next Christmas, come visit Snowpoint City. Spend Christmas there, with me.” Candice said, sounding surprisingly determined, “And I will come visit Mossdeep during the summer.”

    Justin was shocked to hear the invite, and it must have been obvious on his face, because Candice started to laugh.

    “You’re right…” she said, “About everything. I think you’re great too, and have loved spending time with you on this trip. And I didn’t realize it until you brought it up, but the reason I have been so focused on enjoying the moment is because I didn’t want to have to think about what happens when this is over…”

    “So, I’ll see you in June, and you will see me in December. And we gotta keep in touch between now and then, otherwise it will be crazy awkward...” Candice concluded, “Deal?”

    ”So she felt the same…” Justin thought to himself.

    “Deal…” he said, giving her a quick grin.

    Chapter 10
    Justin found himself trembling as he stood in front of the temple. This was going to be his make or break moment. The challenge he set himself, that he had mentioned to Jon, he would either succeed or fail with, within the next few hours. Lauren stood next to him, trembling as well, though this was due to excitement. Whatever was in here was a new discovery, and she would be remembered for it forever…

    Justin felt a hand on his shoulder, and heard Candice talking.

    “You’ve got this…”

    He calmed a little, however was still anxious. It was only mid-afternoon, and Justin was thankful he still had time to come up with a game plan. Especially since he was hopefully about to find out what he was going to be up against.

    “You three ready to open this temple?” Lauren asked the other three trainers. With nods of approval, one by one, they sent out the Pokemon they had captured on this trip. Candice had sent Regice out that morning to freeze the river so they could walk on it to get out of the cave, though that was a slight risk, as they didn’t know for sure Regice would obey. However, it did, without question. Now it was a matter of whether Registeel and Regirock would be the same. Especially in the presence of others.

    Registeel was the first Pokemon to be let out, who stood stoic, taking in its surroundings. Andrew followed, sending out Regirock, who looked at Registeel, however didn’t seem to mind it was there. Finally, Candice sent out Regice.

    After a few moments there was a loud crack as the final door opened, and a mixture of yellow and purple light bled out of the temple. Justin led the way in, with Lauren very close behind him. They both made their way straight to the back wall there the statues had been in the previous temple. Here though, they found two…

    “I knew it…” Lauren said, “More exist…”

    Andrew, Candice and Steven joined them after returning their Pokemon to their Pokeballs, as Justin looked around the temple. There were columns of light, like the last three, however these ones were alternating between yellow and purple.

    The statue on the left was of a Pokemon much smaller than the three titans they had encountered on this trip. It stood at about four feet tall, and seemed to be made up of a central, spherical organ, with metal rings where its shoulders and waist would be. It had long arms that seemed to be made of lightning, as well as small legs. He already knew what this was before Lauren translated the braille.

    ”Regieleki. Let only the challenger wake the titan of lightning…” Lauren said, before she made her way to the plaque on the other side of the other statue.

    Unlike Regieleki, this one stood at nearly seven feet tall, making it the largest titan they had seen so far. It also shared the same spherical organ that Regieleki had, with short stubby feet, however it’s arms seemed to be the upper and lower jaw of an ancient dragon…

    ”Regidrago. Let only the challenger wake the titan of dragons…” Lauren said, before standing back.

    “An electric type and a dragon type…” Steven muttered, “This is a historical moment we are all present for.”

    “Indeed…” Lauren explained, “My theory is that this temple will only allow us to capture one. The other will remain a statue forever, and I will need to find it elsewhere.”

    “So Justin…” Candice asked, “Which one will you battle?”

    “Presuming I have the choice, Regieleki…” Justin said, “Look how small it is… It must be as fast at Regice, Regirock and Registeel are durable…”

    “That would be my guess.” Lauren said.

    “Now I know what I am up against, I need to come up with a plan…” Justin said.

    Lauren went to investigate the temple further, taking photos of the statues, whilst Steven met with Andrew and Candice to discuss their plan in case both titans came to life at once, and how to protect Justin while he captured Regidrago. Meanwhile, Justin found somewhere to sit, and began to think over all he had seen and heard from the last battles.

    Candice had used Regice’s own attacks to trap it, and create a series of icy lenses to amplify a Solar Beam. Then the ice melted, and Regice unintentionally froze itself in with its natural freezing ambient temperature.

    Andrew took the Float Stone that his Steelix held to prevent it being harmed majorly by Low Kick and Grass Knot, and instead, planted it on Regirock, so that when Steelix attacked with a heavy slam, it would take twice the damage, and get thrown further easier.

    Steven used an offensive move to change the battlefield, and set it up so that a powerful and indiscriminate attack would instead be focused and amplified on an intentional target.

    As he thought over this, he remembered the advice Steven gave him.

    ”Think about this battle you have coming up, the same way you thought about that rematch with Jon...”

    It took a little while for the pieces to fall together.

    When he battled Jon, he turned Jon’s strengths into weaknesses. Blaziken’s Speed Boost made it a foe that was more and more difficult to beat the longer the battle went on, but trick room reversed it. Justin soon realized Candice had done the same thing. Regice’s pure ice, providing reflections as well as magnification for an attack. Even it’s ambient temperature, freezing it into place.

    Andrew on the other hand had done the inverse. He took what he perceived to be a weakness on his team, Steelix’s bulk, and therefore how much damage it takes from certain attacks, and made that his strength, lightening Regirock, and using all of Steelix’s bulk to his advantage. Even Steven had done this, taking the unpredictability and uncontrollability of his Aggron’s more powerful attacks, and turning that into a strength.

    He knew what he needed to do. He needed to identify Regieleki’s strengths, and more than just turn it into a weakness, he had to make it his own. And he had to identify his own weaknesses, and make them Regieleki’s. Whilst Trick Room could work well with Regieleki’s speed, it is only temporary, and requires Alakazam for it. If Regieleki knocks out Alakazam, that is out the window. It’s too simple…

    Thinking more over what he learnt during this trip, he had another idea…

    “Guys, I need your help!” Justin called out to Andrew, Candice and Steven.

    “What with?” Steven asked.

    “I need two things.” Justin said, “Firstly, a mint that is green with pink spots. Secondly, as many Tamato Berries as you can give me Andrew…”

    “You going to force-feed it berries to slow it down, and make it too happy to want to fight?” Andrew asked, confused, “You’d be better off using something like Scary Face or String shot…”

    “They aren’t for Regieleki…” Steven said with a grin, “This is crazy, but I think it will work…”

    Andrew opened his pack, removing the small sack of berries, and sorting out the Tamato berries, as Justin called out his Alakazam. Steven and Candice began scouring the grounds outside of the temple for the mint they were after. During the hike there, Justin had seen dozens of them growing, and kicked himself for not thinking of this earlier.

    “These won’t make Alakazam dopey or anything will they?” Justin asked, “Just lift his mood and reduce his speed?”

    “Alakazam will still be mentally capable of battling.” Andrew explained, “He will just be slower.”

    “Good…”

    Steven and Candice returned with the mint, that Justin gave to Alakazam, who inhaled its aroma. Justin quickly mapped out his plan in his head, and when he felt like he had nothing more to add, called the others to make their way to the sides of the room, whilst Alakazam returned to its Pokeball.

    “You guys ready?” Justin called out nervously. Steven was right. This plan was insane. But dealing with something like this, a bit of insanity may be what is needed…

    “Go for it!” Steven called out, grinning from ear to ear, and half wishing Jon could see what one of his students was about to accomplish.

    The tiles on the ground made up a mixture of both facial patterns for Regieleki and Regidrago. He pressed the tiles, which erupted into white light, making sure to press the ones making up Regieleki’s pattern. When only one remained, they all flashed a few times.

    “I think you’re right Lauren…” Justin called out, “I think this is a warning. Once I press the last tile, Regidrago is sealed permanently…”

    Lauren nodded, as Justin pressed the final tile, causing all of them to turn yellow, like the columns of light on the walls.

    There was a rumble as Justin ran back, giving as much space as he could, before calling out Ninjask.

    “Why use Ninjask?” Lauren asked Steven, “It’s massively disadvantaged here…”

    “Jon taught him not to think in terms of advantages and disadvantages…” Candice chimed in, surprising Steven a little, “He has a plan that is bigger than type advantages…”

    The lights dimmed a little, as a slight glow manifested from the statue of Regieleki at the other end of the room. For a second it was dim, before a flash, and Regieleki was now lit up like a light bulb with far too much power running through it. It cried out, sounding almost mechanical, before there was a flash and it darted forward. This Pokemon was faster than Ninjask…

    “Yes…” Justin muttered. “Ninjask! Protect!”

    Ninjask created a protect barrier, a split second before being struck by an intense bolt of lightning, as Ninjask’s speed boost kicked in. This was what Justin wanted. Trying to take it on straight away, knowing nothing of its capabilities would bring him a loss. But buying time, to see what it could actually do, that might give him the edge.

    “I have never seen such a powerful electric attack…” Steven said, shocked himself at the intensity of it.

    “Something doesn’t add up…” Lauren said, “So far every indicator is that Regieleki is fast, but it shouldn’t be that powerful…”

    “Dig!” Justin commanded, as Ninjask dived down, burrowing into the earth. However, before it resurfaced, Regieleki made its next move. It cried out, and began to float five feet above the ground.

    “Goddamn, that’s Magnet Rise…” Steven said, “This Pokemon has one type disadvantage, and it can negate that with a move…”

    Ninjask emerged from the ground, attempting to strike with the earth it emerged from, but missed, as Regieleki cried out, and ripped from the ground beneath it a cluster of ancient looking boulders. Ancient Power…

    The boulders flew through the air, Ninjask narrowly avoiding the attack, before its speed increased for a third time.

    “That’s it…” Lauren said, “It’s attack power itself isn’t great. But…”

    “I think it has an ability!” Justin called out to the others, “It boosts electric moves…”

    “What he said…” Lauren finished, as Steven’s grin somehow widened even more.

    Regieleki launched another lightning attack, which seemed much stronger than it should have been based on the strength of the Ancient Power attack.

    “Baton Pass!” Justin called out, as Ninjask returned to him, as he stood ready with the next Pokemon.

    “Go, Alakazam!” Justin called out as he threw Alakazam’s Pokeball. The Psychic type Pokemon emerged, and even though its speed had been greatly reduced from the berries it had ingested and the mint it inhaled earlier, it possessed Ninjask’s speed buffs that it had acquired, making it faster than Regieleki.

    “Now Speed Swap!”

    “What the hell?!” Andrew asked, “Alakazam is faster than Regieleki? Why swap it?”

    “Alakazam is faster because of what Ninjask did…” Candice muttered as she realized what he was doing, “But Speed Swap doesn’t transfer them. Only the natural speed of the two Pokemon.”

    “And Justin did what he could to reduce Alakazam’s...” Steven finished.

    Time seemed to freeze for a split second for the two Pokemon, before they continued moving, Regieleki slowed down drastically, having inherited Alakazam’s slower than normal speed, whilst Alakazam was faster than Justin had ever seen it, nearly four times as fast as Regieleki. Regieleki used Ancient Power again, which Alakazam let hit upon Justin’s orders, to allow the next move to work properly.

    “Rest!”

    Alakazam fell asleep, and to the shock of those watching, so did Regieleki. It stopped moving, and began to dim slightly.

    “Synchronize.” Steven explained, “Any status effects Alakazam gets will be transferred to Regieleki.”

    Justin grabbed a full heal from the side pocket of his pack, and used it to awaken Alakazam. He had a half minute at most to do what he had planned before Regieleki woke up.

    “Baton Pass!”

    Alakazam was drawn back, as Greninja entered the battlefield.

    “Now use Soak!”

    Greninja opened its mouth, and sprayed a thick jet of water, drenching the electric titan, as it started to stir, now given the strengths and weaknesses of a water type.

    “Baton Pass!”

    Greninja returned to its Pokeball, as Justin sent out what should be his final Pokemon. Lucario.

    “Role Play!”

    “He is taking copying Regieleki’s ability…” Lauren muttered, as Regieleki finally woke, and began glowing again, electricity crackling in the air around it, however still slow from what Alakazam had done.

    “Calm Mind!” Justin called out. The move brought up Lucario’s strength in special attacks, as well as resilience towards it, as Regieleki used a new move. One that sent bolts of lightning in the air, trapping the pair of them in battle, and shocking Lucario, however Lucario didn’t seem to be in any real danger.

    “Again, Calm Mind!”

    Lucario used the move, before quickly dodging Regieleki’s next attack, before Justin called out for it to use Life Dew, a move to restore its energy, following it up before Regieleki could attack again with another Calm Mind.

    Whilst it appeared like Justin was just trying to buff his Pokemon, his true intention was less obvious. It went back to something he read in one of Lauren’s reports on Brandon and the three titans he possessed. All three of them knew Zap Cannon, one of the strongest electric attacks, and if they knew it, it only made sense Regieleki knew it too…

    After the fourth calm mind, Justin saw it. An electric attack being charged, something much larger than the Thunder Bolt it had been relying on the entire battle.

    “Protect!” Justin called out. Lucario created a Protect Barrier with a moment to spare before the bolt of lightning, more powerful than any he had seen before, struck it. This was his chance.

    “Now!” Justin shouted, “Copycat!”

    There was a flash as Lucario charged up a bolt of electricity, similar to the one Regieleki had just used, but much larger due to the increases in power from Calm Mind, and launched it in the blink of an eye at Regieleki. It struck the titan, throwing it into the back wall where it originally stood as a statue.

    Justin dashed forward, holding a fresh Pokeball, and threw it as hard as he could towards the Pokemon. Regieleki was sucked into the Pokeball, which didn’t even shake. It simply clicked shut, the Pokemon not being strong enough to fight back anymore.

    “I did it…” Justin muttered to himself. “I’ve captured a Legendary Pokemon…”

    “You mad genius!” Steven called out, laughing hysterically, “I have never seen anyone reduce their Pokemon’s natural speed just to screw over the opponent by swapping it! Everything that made Regieleki unique and powerful, you either took for yourself, or turned it into a weakness!”

    “That was incredible!” Candice said, as she hugged him, surprising him slightly, and obviously Lauren as well, who seemed more shocked by that than what had just gone down.

    “Seriously, that was the best of the four battles…” Andrew said, “Considering how difficult your position was, not knowing what would be here, you did the best out of all us.”

    “Agreed.” Steven added, “You’ve definitely grown since I first met you…”

    “Thanks…” Justin replied, still in disbelief that this had all happened.

    “Jon’s not gonna know what hit him…” Steven said with a grin…

    Chapter 11
    The expedition crew spent the night in the temple, celebrating the success of the expedition. Lauren did try pressing down on the plates that hadn’t been touched, and there was no response. She was right. Regidrago would not be discovered in the flesh here.

    The next morning, the group rose early, well before 5am, in order to begin the long trek back to Freezington. Whilst it was normally a three day trip, they were all willing to walk a bit further each day and get there in two. The exhaustion was real, as whilst they tried to chat, laugh and enjoy eachothers company, they were quieter than usual, tired from the journey.

    It was early evening on the 28th of December when they arrived back in Freezington. The fire was lit, however everyone went straight to bed, even though it was not even 7:30pm. Justin awoke at roughly 11am the next day, sleeping for over fifteen hours, and was the first one to be awake, the others waking up closer to noon.

    Lauren spent that afternoon and the next three days researching Regieleki, learning whatever she could about the Pokemon, which turned out to be quite a lot. The town itself had a battery that was connected to solar panels, which seemed to never be able to charge well, which was why most residents had their own battery solutions. It was the biggest battery they had ever seen, and Regieleki had it charged to capacity without breaking a sweat. Based on Lauren’s calculations, Regieleki was constantly producing enough electricity to potentially power the entire Galar region, which shocked Justin immensely.

    New Years Eve arrived, and the five trainers spent the night in the cabin, having a celebration themselves. It reached midnight, and they all celebrated the end of the year that had passed, and the start of what was to come.

    Justin spent a few minutes looking around the cabin for his phone, wanting to send a message to the others from the Eon Academy, and was slightly surprised when it was given to him by Candice. When he unlocked it, he found her contact details saved, as well as two calendar events. One for next summer in Mossdeep, and one for Christmas in Snowpoint City.

    It was a bittersweet party, because Justin knew this was his last night with this rag-tag group of friends. Tomorrow would be the first of January, and by the time he would get home, it would be the morning of the third. Then he would be back at school on the fifth, and life would be normal again…

    New Year’s Day was interesting. Lauren and Andrew would be remaining in the Crown Tundra to go back to the temples and study them more closely. Steven and Candice both had jobs back home to get back to, so they were catching the same train back to Galar. It was midday when Lauren and Andrew walked the three heading home back to the station.

    Lauren thanked Justin profusely, both for getting Steven involved in the expedition, and for capturing Regieleki, and proving her theory correct, helping her make history. She also thanked Steven for coming out, as well as Candice, who told Lauren to come visit home soon. After the goodbyes were said, and Lauren and Andrew left, Justin, Candice and Steven all climbed aboard the train back to Wedgehurst, sitting in the near empty train. Whilst they tried to make conversation, the impending goodbye weighed over them. Justin had known Steven longer, and knew he would see both of them, and be in touch with Candice, but even after less than two weeks, saying goodbye to her felt almost the same as when he said goodbye to those at the Eon Academy, that he had spent the entire summer with.

    They arrived in Wedgehurst in the early hours of the evening, before getting on another train to Wyndon, which only took an hour or two. It was 9pm when they found themselves waiting in the Wyndon Airport to go their separate ways. Steven was the first to go, departing at 10pm for a flight to Lilycove City.

    “Thanks again for reading my email and coming along.” Justin said as he shook the Hoenn Champion’s hand.

    “Thanks for thinking of me for this.” Steven replied, “I got to be a part of history being made, capture a Legendary Pokemon, meet new people and see a part of the world I have never seen before. I’ll never forget that. I’ll see you with Jon next summer?”

    “Of course.”

    Steven said his goodbyes to Candice, before departing towards the terminal where his flight waited.

    Candice’s flight to Jubilife was scheduled for midnight, and Justin’s an hour and a half later at 1:30. To kill time, they found a cafe in the airport that was open all night, and bought hot chocolates, since they agreed the coffee in Galar was not worth the premium. They sat there quietly, until an announcement was made over the PA system that Candice’s flight will be boarding.

    Justin walked her to the terminal where her flight was leaving from.

    “I guess this is goodbye.” Candice said, slightly disappointed.

    “I guess it is…” Justin affirmed, “You meant what you said right? Back in the cave? About keeping in touch? Summer, and Christmas?”

    “Of course…” Candice said.

    “Then it’s not really goodbye. Not for long, anyway.” Justin said, “Besides, you’ll probably regret giving me your number…”

    Candice laughed, before hugging him tightly. Tighter than she had hugged him before, and this time, seeming to struggle to let go, until she knew she had to.

    “I’d better go.” Candice said, as she noticed people lining up to board. “It was great meeting you Justin. Incredible really.”

    “Same to you.” Justin replied, “I’ll see you around…”

    Candice smiled, before making her way towards the ever growing line, as Justin left, finding himself somewhere to sit while he waited the next hour and a half for his flight. He found somewhere to sit, before opening his phone. It was near midnight, and whilst he normally wouldn’t message someone so late, he couldn’t wait until morning.

    He took a photo of the Pokeball containing Regieleki, before attaching it to a message.

    ”Hey Jon, sorry for the late message, but I figured you’d want to hear this.

    You know that challenge I wanted to give myself? The one I told you about at the end of summer?

    I just completed it.

    See you next summer…”


    Last edited by Desolate Divine; 06-06-2021 at 04:58 AM.

  10. #37
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. Desolate Divine's Avatar
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    When you decide to write an Epilogue Chapter set between summers, and it turns out to be a 30,000 word monster...

    Legit though, I had a tonne of fun writing this, and seeing how things all came together. I lost count of how many hours I spent writing this, and am keen to get onto some other characters before Season 2.

    Enjoy!

  11. #38
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. Desolate Divine's Avatar
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    Side-Story/Epilogue: Closure
    Spoiler:

    The visiting room at the Johto Regional Medium Security Prison was cold, as Jon sat face to face with Daniel Mason, the man who Jon had once called father. It was December 29th, and winter was in full swing.

    Jon’s relationship with his father was destroyed to say the least. Daniel solved his emotional problems originally by drinking, and eventually with other, less legal substances, and seeked to solve financial problems by selling those substances. Jon carried many scars, both physically and emotionally due to Daniel’s actions when he was under the influence of those substances, and occasionally between highs, to the point of changing his own name, so that if he wound up the center of media attention when he battled competitively, it wouldn’t alert Daniel to where he was or what he was up to.

    Daniel was the reason Jon’s mother had died. He hadn’t pulled the trigger himself, but given his actions in years prior, he may as well have. And when Daniel was arrested, and Jon was sent to live with Daniel’s parents, it was a second chance at life he never knew he would have. And since then, Jon had run from the life he had escaped from. For fourteen years he ran, changing his appearance, using his middle name, and taking his wife’s surname, to not have to face Daniel again.

    It took the desire to cover up what the Diamond Ladies had done, by taking the fall himself as Jon Drake, and living under his real name, Ryan Mason, for Jon to even consider seeing his father again. He knew that at some point he would have to face his past, especially when he had kids of his own, not wanting to lie to them about why they never see their paternal grandparents and what happened to them, or why their Dad’s driver’s license says Ryan Mason. However, not being ready to stop running had put the idea of Jon and Alyssa having kids themselves on the backburner.

    This was the third time Jon had seen Daniel since that night Jon was taken by the police to live with his grandparents. The first was when Alyssa was pregnant with Amelia. Jon hadn’t wanted Amelia to grow up running away from Jon’s past with him, so made the decision to face it himself.

    That first meeting was awkward to say the least. Whilst Daniel had been sober for years, Jon had no way of knowing whether that was because he had to be or not, and if he got let out, whether the man he knew fifteen years earlier would reappear. The other thing that Jon wasn’t sure about was whether Daniel actually had any remorse for what he had put Jon through, and his role in his wife’s death. The pair sat in near silence, only speaking when the silence itself became more difficult to sit through than actual conversation. Daniel didn’t apologize, and Jon wasn’t sure whether he was too ashamed of his past to even speak, or if he just didn’t care.

    Jon didn’t share much either. He told Daniel about his name, and why he used it. He also told Daniel that he was married, and that he and Alyssa were expecting a daughter in the late spring. Daniel had mentioned that whilst he had seen reports of the High Seas Tournament, and Jon Drake, a seasoned yet somehow unknown battler, taking the top prize, and being revealed to be a part of the investigation that took place into the Diamond Ladies, but he had no idea that was his son. It wasn’t until Daniel was told his son had come to visit him, and he saw Jon, the trainer he had seen on TV, that he understood.

    The second time Jon visited Daniel was nine months later. Whilst the tension still existed, the conversation was easier. Whilst Amelia was a few months old at that point, Jon hadn’t visited as there was a matter of weeks between Amelia being born and the Eon Academy starting its first summer program. Making the flight from Mossdeep to Johto wouldn’t have been fair on Alyssa, and Jon knew he didn’t owe Daniel anything. If Daniel had to wait a few months to hear about the birth of his granddaughter, he could do that.

    During this second meeting, Daniel apologized to Jon. About what he put Jon through, and his role in Jon’s mother’s death. He didn’t apologize expecting forgiveness, and that wasn’t going to be enough for Jon to forgive him. And unlike the apologies Jon had heard as a child, where there was always some reason or excuse, there was none. He simply apologized because he knew that he owed that to Jon, and Jon owed him nothing in return.

    After that, whilst still very difficult, Jon did find it easier to talk to him, just a little. He talked about what he had been doing during the summer, and didn’t roll any punches when he mentioned the circumstances behind Dylan becoming an unofficial part of he and Alyssa’s family. He also talked about the different challenges he faced, between Chris’ near-death experience in Shoal Cave, Charlotte’s self-destructive determination, Abbee losing her father during the summer, and three of his students getting arrested. Jon also heard a little bit about how Daniel spends his days in incarceration.

    Whilst this was the third time visiting Daniel, there was a first to this. Daniel had asked the prison to contact Jon, and ask him to come visit. Which surprised Jon slightly, though he was certain Daniel wanted something from him.

    It took Jon days to decide whether or not to visit Daniel. It had only been a few months since the last visit, and if Daniel did want something from Jon, he didn’t want to give the impression that he felt he owed his father anything, and that he would come whenever he was asked.

    Jon talked to Alyssa about it at great length, and ended up also talking to Jack Mason, Daniel’s father and Jon’s grandfather. The man who took him in, and made some leeway in correcting Jon’s course, teaching him to battle.

    Jon knew that Jack had been visiting Daniel since his incarceration. Jon was okay with Jack doing that, as Daniel was still his son, however the agreement was that Jon didn’t want to hear anything about his father, and wanted his father to know nothing about him.

    During the phone call with Jack, Jon for the first time asked Jack about Daniel, specifically what he thought. Jack had always respected Jon’s wish to not be informed about his father, so what Jack had to say was something Jon heard for the first time.

    Jack told Jon that during Daniel’s first years of imprisonment, he refused to accept any responsibility for what had happened. Daniel blamed everyone but himself, including Jack. However once he became sober, he went from blaming others, to refusing to think about it at all, before finally accepting that he was there because of his own mistakes. And especially in recent years, when Jack would visit Daniel, Daniel’s biggest regret was that his own son wanted nothing to do with him. Daniel had asked about Jon before, and Jack had told him Jon wanted his life to be kept private, but that he is doing well. And whilst at first this irritated Daniel, he eventually came to understand, and stopped asking for specifics, instead, only asking ”Is Ryan still doing well?” and nothing else.

    Jack told Jon that visiting Daniel like this doesn’t mean he has to forgive him, or owes him anything. If this turns out to be a waste of time, Jon can easily cut Daniel out of his life, and Jack would support that separation as much as he could. But there was little harm in hearing Daniel out just this once.

    That was how Jon found himself in the visiting room again, face to face with his father.

    “Alyssa doing well?” Daniel asked awkwardly.

    “She’s doing well.” Jon answered, “She’s taking on more hours from home, and is glad for that, really. She loves her work.”

    “What about Amelia?”

    “She’s doing what babies do.” Jon replied, “Still growing, but not a great deal else. She’s started crawling, which is pretty early from what I’ve heard…”

    “And Dylan?”

    Jon was surprised that Daniel had remembered Dylan’s name, or even asked about it, considering Dylan was in a similar situation to the one Jon grew up in, at Daniel’s hands.

    “He’s doing well.” Jon said, “He’s still very quiet, but once you get him talking, he can go on forever if he wants to. We’ve had a few schools do camps at the Academy for a week or so, and he has done well working with the kids during those camps.”

    There was an awkward silence before Daniel spoke again.

    “Look Rya-...” He began, “Jon. I do enjoy the fact you visit me these days, but I know you’re smart enough to know I didn’t ask you to come here just to chat…”

    “You’re right.” Jon said sternly, “In fact, I wasn’t even sure whether I should, because my first thought is that you asked me to come because you want something from me…”

    “If you don’t mind me asking, why did you come then?”

    “I spoke to Grandpa, and asked him what he thought. Whether I would be making a mistake by indulging you by coming here at your request.” Jon explained, not intending to come across as cold or hurtful, but to make it abundantly clear how independent of Daniel he was, and that any decision he makes is his own.

    “Well, for what it’s worth, I am grateful you decided to come.” Daniel said, “And you’re right. Even though I have no right to ask, I do have something I want to ask of you.”

    Jon sat back. He would hear Daniel out, but wasn’t going to offer any more until he knew exactly what Daniel wanted.

    “My non-parole period is almost over, which means that I could technically be released within the next six months on parole.” Daniel explained, “Whilst nothing is certain, and they could tell me I need to spend the next three years in here, it wouldn’t hurt my chances if someone whom my actions had affected were to go on the record and say I have changed…”

    Jon was shocked to hear what Daniel was asking. He wanted Jon to vouch for Daniel’s release.

    “I understand that I deserved to be in this place for the last fifteen years. The things I did are unforgivable. And I know I have no right to ask this, or want anything more than what I have now.” Daniel continued, “But if I spend the next three years in here, that will be three years less I have with my own parents. Three years less to do what I can to try and show you that I am sorry for what happened, and actually be a father to you.”

    “In the fifteen years I’ve been here, you’ve grown up. Become a famous battler, worked undercover for the League, got married, and even had kids of your own.” Daniel said, “If you were okay with it, I’d love to meet Alyssa, and especially love to meet Amelia, and see the life you’ve built for yourself without me.”

    Jon remained silent. There was too much going through his head hearing these words. Whilst he was now much more comfortable with the thought of seeing his dad than he was two years ago, he still had not let himself consider the idea of Daniel meeting his wife and daughter. He was only okay coming here because he knew that this part of his life was locked away in a prison in Johto.

    “I don’t expect you to make a decision now, or even tell me about it. If you would rather I stay in here, and decide not to go on the record, I wouldn’t hold it against you. You’ve made much better decisions with life than I have, and if you think I am not ready to leave this place, you are probably right…” Daniel concluded, “But if you are able to give me this one chance, I will do whatever it takes to make sure you don’t regret that decision.”

    “I…” Jon began, “I need to think about this. And I need to talk to Alyssa about it all as well…”

    “That is fine.” Daniel said, “My hearing isn’t for another month.”

    “I’ll think about it, and won’t promise anything more than that.” Jon said.

    “That’s all I can ask for…”

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

    Jon didn’t stick around much longer after that discussion. There was too much going through his mind in order for him to be able to bring himself to stay and talk, and thankfully, Daniel didn’t seem to take Jon leaving so soon badly.

    Leaving the prison, Jon took a taxi to the Magnet Train station, taking a train bound for Saffron City in Kanto, then another train from Saffron City to Vermillion City in the south. From there he took another taxi to a retirement Village in the north-eastern corner of the city.

    Jon made his way through the small streets that made up the retirement village, finding himself out the front of one house in particular. Number 90. He knocked on the door, and a few minutes later, it opened, revealing a woman in her early eighties, with a wide smile on her face.

    “Ryan!” she said happily, “It’s great to see you again!”

    “It’s great to see you too, Grandma.” Jon said. Whilst there were very few people he still spoke to that knew him as Ryan, his grandparents were the only ones he didn’t correct.

    She ushered Jon inside, closing the door behind him. As he walked through, he heard a familiar cry. On a soft bed next to the couch in the living room was an elderly Flareon, who was the last of Jack’s battling team from his younger days. Jon gave it a scratch behind the ears, to its delight.

    “Jack’s in the backyard.” Wendy, Jon’s grandmother, said, “He wanted to see your Pokemon, and knew you couldn’t fit them in the house, so wants to have lunch out there.”

    Jon nodded, as he walked through the small house into the smaller backyard.

    It saddened Jon a little to see his grandparents in this small house. Part of that was missing the first home he had where he truly felt safe, and the other part was a feeling of sadness that it represented them not being able to do the things they truly wanted. The house they had lived in for decades before this had a large backyard, where Jack was able to train his own Pokemon, and battle others. However the property and house became too difficult to manage in their older age, and Jack’s Pokemon eventually passed away, with the exception of Flareon. As much as Jack would have loved another Pokemon, and Jon had offered, he knew that it wasn’t wise. It would outlive him, and it wasn’t fair on the Pokemon to create that bond, only for it to be broken by his own death.

    Jack and Wendy had moved into this house five years earlier, after Jack had one too many falls and it became obvious that things needed to change. Having lived in Hoenn since he married Alyssa, Jon had only been here a dozen or so times, the last time being three months earlier, when summer ended and all his students went home. He, Alyssa and Amelia had spent a few days visiting, and it was during that time Jon made the trip to Johto to visit Daniel for the first time since Amelia had been born.

    “Hey Grandpa.” Jon said, as he walked into the backyard, where Jack sat at a small outdoor table, by a large gas heater.

    “Ryan.” Jack said with a smile, “I’m glad you could come visit.”

    “I appreciate you letting me stay the night.” Jon said, “I hate flying to and from Johto in one day.”

    Jon knew what was coming next.

    “So let me see your Pokemon!” Jack said, “I want to see how well you’re looking after them…”

    Jon smiled before letting out his Jolteon. It cried out happily seeing Jack, and upon hearing the noise, Jack’s Flareon, who was Jolteon’s father, emerged from inside the house, and cried out happily as well.

    “I didn’t think it possible, but Jolteon looks better than ever…” Jack said, seeming slightly shocked.

    “That’s Dylan for you.” Jon explained, “I thought I was good at cooking Pokemon food, but Dylan is a genius… He’s been organizing food for all my Pokemon, and I think they’re starting to like him more than me…”

    Jack laughed at Jon’s explanation.

    “I’d love to meet the young man.” Jack said, “It sounds like you’re all doing well given the circumstances.”

    “You would know.” Jon said with a laugh, “I didn’t turn out too screwed up.”

    “No, you turned out just fine…”

    “Dylan’s actually in Goldenrod right now.” Jon explained, “One of his friends from the Academy invited him to stay with her and her brother for New Years Eve. I considered dropping in to say hello but…”

    “Let’s save that talk for later.” Jack said, “I want to see the rest of your Pokemon!”

    One by one, Jon let out his Pokemon, letting his grandfather appraise them. Whilst Jack wasn’t as familiar with Blaziken and Absol, due to living in Kanto all his life, and access to reliable information not being as easy during his battling career, he held a certain expertise with Nidoking, Scizor and especially Jolteon. Finally, it was Latios’ turn.

    Even though Jack didn’t know much of Hoenn Pokemon, Latios was by far his favorite.

    “I still can’t believe it.” Jack said, “My grandson, training a Legendary Pokemon…”

    Jon thought over what he was about to say next. Whilst Wendy did have a tendency of accidentally telling people things she shouldn’t, he knew Jack was like a bank vault. After all, he had not shared any information about Jon when he would visit Daniel during the last fifteen years.

    Making sure he was quiet enough that his grandmother wouldn’t overhear from inside the house, he spoke.

    “I actually have one more Pokemon that I couldn’t bring with me…” Jon said quietly, “But you need to keep this a secret. Not even grandma can know.”

    “How big of a secret?” Jack asked, slightly surprised at the change in Jon’s tone.

    I could wind up in a secret military jail for the rest of my life if this gets out type of secret…” Jon said, as Jack’s eyes widened.

    “What did you do?” he whispered hoarsely, sounding nervous.

    “The military p**sed off this Pokemon and were going to try and kill it, so Steven, the Hoenn Champion, asked me to capture it before they could, and train it in secret.” Jon explained, as he opened his phone, and quickly searched for a news article from a year earlier, detailing Rayquaza causing a plane to make an emergency landing, finding a photo from the aircrafts cameras of the Legendary Pokemon. He quickly passed the phone to Jack.

    Jack’s jaw dropped when he saw the photo.

    “You’re kidding, aren’t you?” Jack asked.

    “No, I’m serious…” Jon explained, “It is hidden in an unregistered Pokeball back home. When I can slip away from home for a weekend, I take it to an island in the south of Hoenn to train it.”

    “I heard that the issues with that Pokemon stopped, but I didn’t know that was because of you…” Jack said quietly, “What will you do with it?”

    “Truth is, I actually think it is safe enough for me to release it back into the wild now.” Jon explained, “The problem is that the moment the military know where it is, they will go after it. Maybe once enough time has passed, I will capture it officially, and that way, if something comes up and I have to be seen with, I won’t be thrown into jail. But right now, it would be too obvious I had something to do with it disappearing…”

    As they spoke, Latios hovered upright in the air, looking curiously at the gas heater.

    “Do you want a beer?” Jack asked, as he made his way to the mini-fridge he kept next to the barbeque.

    ”Can I please have one?” Latios said telepathically to Jon.

    “Sure. And if you have enough, could Latios have one as well.” Jon replied, before turning to Latios, “Only one…”

    Latios beamed, as Jack passed Jon a can, which he opened and handed to the Eon Pokemon.

    “I can’t say I’ve heard of a Legendary Pokemon liking beer…” Jack said, watching curiously as Latios sipped from the can.

    “I never heard of it either.” Jon explained, “A few months ago, I wondered if he’d enjoy it, and Dylan said there was nothing harmful to him in it, and it would barely affect him, so I gave him one and he loved it. He knows not to use any psychic abilities when he has them.”

    “And he’s fine?” Jack asked.

    “Yeah.” Jon explained, “Except for Christmas, I bought him a case, thinking he could have one every couple of days. I had warned him what this does to people, and he thought it wouldn’t happen to him. When I wasn’t looking he drank half the case between dinner and 9pm…”

    Latios looked at Jon, and continued sipping his beer, trying to hide his embarrassment.

    “He fell asleep on the roof of the lodge where the students usually stay, and woke up with a hangover…” Jon explained, “He hasn’t asked for one since, and has learnt his lesson about moderation.”

    “I hope so…” Jack retorted, “A Legendary Pokemon with a heavy thirst can’t be cheap…”

    Wendy came out and the three of them, as well as Latios and Flareon ate lunch, and when that was over, Jon finally addressed the reason he flew from Hoenn to begin with.

    “I spoke to Daniel this morning.”

    “What did he have to say?” Jack asked.

    “He is going to be eligible for parole, and has his hearing where they decide if they should let him out in a month.” Jon explained, “He said that if I were to advocate for his release, and go on the record, they may be more inclined to let him out…”

    “And what do you think about that?”

    Jon was silent.

    “I’m torn about whether I should…”

    “He is asking a lot of you, considering how recently you actually started to see him again.” Jack said.

    “He is. Really, I want to believe that he has changed in there, for the better. I’m not ready to forgive him, but I’m ready to start to move on. I gave the Diamond Ladies a chance to turn things around, and own their mistakes, because I wished that Daniel had been caught and given the chance to get his s**t together. I’d be a hypocrite if I refused to give him that opportunity…” Jon explained, “But the reason I have been okay seeing him now is because it’s been completely on my terms. He is in prison, and I can choose to go see him, or not to. But if they let him out, that control is gone. And I don’t know that he isn’t going to turn back into the a**hole he was, and now I have a wife and daughter to think about too…”


    Jack listened silently, as Latios noticed Flareon eyeing the space on Jack’s lap, however seemed to struggle to find the energy to jump it like it used to when it was younger. Latios’ eyes glowed, as Flareon gently was lifted into the air and placed on Jack’s lap, and Jack began to scratch it behind the ears.

    “Truth is Ryan, I don’t think there is an absolute right or wrong decision to make here. There are only decisions, and whatever one you make about this, I know it will be the right one.”

    The thing that shocked Jon was how much certainty Jack had made that statement with. There was no doubt in his demeanour when he said that.

    “But how can you say that for sure?” Jon asked.

    “Because you didn’t have the best start in life, and have either made good decisions, or brought the best from bad ones…” Jack said, “I feel a lot of shame, both for what my son did, and my own words and actions that contributed to that. But the reason I can still hold my head high is because of how much more proud I am of you and the man you’ve become…”

    “I can say for certain that whatever decision you make with this situation will be the right one, because you’ve proven to me that you will do the right thing regardless. So whatever you do, do it with confidence…” Jack concluded, “You’ve earnt the right to be at peace with your own conscience.”

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

    Jon spent the night with Jack and Wendy before leaving Vermillion City, and catching a plane from Saffron City back to Lilycove City the next day. He picked up his car from the short term parking, before driving it onto the ferry that would take him home to Mossdeep City. By the time he arrived home, it was nearing 8pm. Knowing Amelia would probably be asleep, he quietly unlocked the door, and entered the house, to find Alyssa sitting exhausted on the couch, trying to take in whatever was on the TV, but struggling to keep her eyes open.

    “I’m home…” he said quietly as he walked into the room.

    “Hey…” Alyssa said through exhaustion, “Come sit with me…”

    Jon sat down on the couch next to her, as Alyssa shifted and rest her head on his chest.

    “Lili not going to sleep easy?” Jon asked, feeling guilty he had left his wife to look after their daughter by herself.

    “You’d think for how much of last night she was awake, she’d be too tired to try and pull another all nighter…” Alyssa mumbled, “Turns out getting her to sleep again tonight was equally hard.”

    Jon chuckled.

    “I’ll be the one the deal with her tonight.” Jon said, “Do you want to sleep in the lodge? I can get power turned on and run the heater so you can have a night of peace and quiet…”

    “No, I’ll stay here…” Alyssa said, “Being woken up isn’t a big problem when you don’t have to do anything and can go straight back to sleep.”

    “Fair enough.” Jon replied, “Just take it easy for a few days.”

    “I will…” Alyssa said, sounding more asleep than before, “So what did he want?”


    “He’s got a parole hearing next month and wants me to vouch for his release…”

    Jon felt Alyssa stir slightly, though she didn’t move, and didn’t open her eyes.

    “Will you do it?” Alyssa asked.

    “I don’t know just yet…” Jon explained, “There is a lot to take in. And if he is let out, and I keep in contact with him, this will affect you and Lili too. He said he wants to try and make up for what he did. And that he wants to meet his daughter-in-law and granddaughter…”

    “And what do you think of that?”

    “I don’t know him. Only what you told me about him, and what I have seen in you.” Alyssa said, “For nearly fifteen years you didn’t want to see or hear from him, and the good part of that, even changed your name and how you look to not be found, all because of what he did to you. If you don’t want him to be involved in your life, then I won’t try and push that. But if you do want him to have a place in it, then it is only right that I meet him myself as well, and even Lili. I wouldn’t want to be around him if you’re not there, but if you want to give him a chance, then I’ll support that…”

    Alyssa tried to stay awake, but dozed off, so eventually went to bed. Jon stayed up a few more hours, at one point tending to Amelia when she started crying, but mostly considering what he would do. Whether he would try and help Daniel be released from prison, or give himself another few years before having to figure out what his life, and his relationship with his dad, would look like going forward.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *****
    The next night was New Years Eve, and whilst Jon had invited Steven to come celebrate with them, he had politely declined, stating he would be out of town, though didn’t seem to be able to give a good explanation as to where he was going. Instead, Alyssa’s family visited. Her parents, her older siblings and their partners, as well as their children, Jon and Alyssa’s nieces and nephews. Jon powered the lodge again, and had it ready for guests. Very soon after summer had ended, Jon had gotten funding from the league to build two much larger lodges capable of housing sixty people between them, albeit with shared rooms compared to the students he had over the summer who each had their own space. So this was the first time it had been unlocked since they had left.

    During the afternoon, Jon’s nieces and nephews, who ranged from ages four to twelve, wanted nothing more than to battle one-another on the battlefield that the Eon Academy had on its grounds. Occasionally, one of the older, and significantly braver ones even wanted to battle Jon, though he’d hold back, his Pokemon knowing to go down much easier than they would in a real battle. During the evening, they put a few movies on in the lounge for the kids, most of whom fell asleep by 10pm, and were carried by parents to their rooms, whilst the adults sat around the table in the lodge’s dining room, laughing, sharing stories and occasionally playing card games. Midnight came and they celebrated the new year, before everyone, all exhausted, went to their respective rooms, and Jon, Alyssa and Amelia went back to the cottage.

    Jon had never considered how handy the property and lodge were for personal gatherings, outside of what it was built for. He didn’t have many friends on Mossdeep Island, Steven, and one or two others whom he would consider inviting over, and whilst Alyssa had a large family now that her and her siblings had families of their own, Jon was an only child, born from two only children. His only family left was his grandparents, and whilst he wanted to have them visit sometime soon, knew with their age it was becoming more and more difficult. He didn’t realize just how much he had missed out on, until he was able to host his in-laws and actually share a fun night with them. But a series of thoughts crept into his mind, the most prevalent being in a few years, could he be here with us for something like this?

    Whilst Jon loved Alyssa’s family, and how much they accepted him as one of their own, and supported him even when the footage of Jon beating Lance senseless, and the footage of Latios causing problems on the S.S. Wishmaker surfaced, there was still a slight sense of disconnect. They were his family, but at the same time they weren’t. And in twenty years, shy of a miracle, Daniel would be the only of his own family left, save for Alyssa, Amelia and Dylan of course.

    New Year’s Day, Alyssa’s family left, thanking her and Jon for hosting and for a good night, before making their way to their homes, her parents in Lilycove, her sister’s family in Fortree, and her brother’s family in Rustboro. Jon spent the afternoon tidying up the lodge, and closing it all down, as chances are it wouldn’t be stayed in for another six months. When evening came, Alyssa, still exhausted from the last few nights, went to sleep early, as Jon stayed up later, helping to look after Amelia during the night.

    This was where Jon found himself sitting in front of his laptop, typing quietly, trying to think of the best way to word what he wanted to say.

    To whom it may concern.

    I, Ryan Mason, though better known as Jonathan Drake, am writing this letter to speak on behalf of Daniel Mason, my father, with regards to his eligibility for release on parole.

    I will not pretend that the actions of Daniel Mason that resulted in his imprisonment, and his actions during the fourteen years before that, were not significant and damaging. They were. To this day, I carry scars both physically and emotionally that are the direct result of the abuse I suffered at his hands, and I lost my own mother at the age of fourteen, indirectly through his own actions. Most sons idolize their fathers and want to be just like them, but, especially as a husband and father myself now, my worst fear is to be like my own father.

    Whilst I do wish my childhood could have been different, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, those years of my life taught me strength and resilience. Those years, as well as the years I spent living with my grandparents after Daniel’s incarceration, taught me what it means to be a good husband and father, and a good man overall, even if a lot of that was by contrast.

    I have only been in contact with Daniel again in the last twelve months, and whilst I cannot say for certain, I believe he is not the man who abused me and my mother anymore. I have not forgiven him for his actions, and am not sure I ever can. However, he has given me enough reason to consider trying to have some sort of relationship with him, even if it is thirty years late.

    To whom it may concern, I ask not to forgive and forget this man of his crimes, however to give him the opportunity to prove to his family and himself that he is not the same man that I spent fifteen years running from, and if he has indeed changed, allow him to leave his old life behind, and allow him the chance be the father and grandfather I want him to be.

    Yours Truly.
    Ryan Mason (Jonathan Drake).



    Jon proofread the letter over and over, until finally, knowing he would never be completely at peace with it, pressed send.

    As the message was sent, Jon’s phone buzzed. He half expected it to be some sort of confirmation message that his letter was received, however was surprised when he saw the name tied to.

    Justin Collins.

    Unsure of why Justin was messaging him at near midnight, he unlocked the phone and opened the message.

    ”Hey Jon, sorry for the late message, but I figured you’d want to hear this.

    You know that challenge I wanted to give myself? The one I told you about at the end of summer?

    I just completed it.

    See you next summer…”


    Underneath the message was a photo of a Pokeball. In the background of the photo appeared to be an airport. It took Jon a few minutes to get some sort of idea as to what Justin was talking about. What he had done.

    Justin had captured a Legendary Pokemon, and by the look of it, gone to great lengths to capture it. Though he had no clue what Pokemon this was, and could probably get Steven to look into it and let him know, he didn’t want to ask. Justin obviously wanted to surprise Jon next summer, and Jon wanted that surprise.

    Jon quickly replied.

    “Hey Justin, don’t worry about the late message. Fun thing about babies is they keep you awake all night.

    I knew you could do it. Good job challenging yourself, and I look forward to seeing what it is when I see you next summer.

    Stay safe, and train hard.

    The sky’s the limit.”




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  13. #39
    Cheers and Good Times! Neo Emolga's Avatar
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    Dang awesome epilogues you've got here! Took two sittings to read it all, but they were great reads with lots of fantastic character interaction. The Regi battles were really clever and creative and the way you described the Crown Tundra and the temples was great and immersive.

    Hard to imagine going on a frigid adventure like that over Christmas break while everyone else is drinking hot cocoa and opening Christmas gifts, but it looked like it was worth it. Meanwhile, that is a hard, hard choice for Jon. I honestly don't know what I'd do in his position and I could see it going either way.

    Still, great writing, you keep me pinned wanting to see what happens. It's rare a story hooks me like that and the last one that managed to do that was Harry Potter. Keep up the great work!

  14. #40
    Mary Mary tell me how your garden grows. Desolate Divine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo Emolga View Post
    Dang awesome epilogues you've got here! Took two sittings to read it all, but they were great reads with lots of fantastic character interaction. The Regi battles were really clever and creative and the way you described the Crown Tundra and the temples was great and immersive.

    Hard to imagine going on a frigid adventure like that over Christmas break while everyone else is drinking hot cocoa and opening Christmas gifts, but it looked like it was worth it. Meanwhile, that is a hard, hard choice for Jon. I honestly don't know what I'd do in his position and I could see it going either way.

    Still, great writing, you keep me pinned wanting to see what happens. It's rare a story hooks me like that and the last one that managed to do that was Harry Potter. Keep up the great work!
    Really glad you enjoyed it! The battles took a lot of planning, trying to find the balance of them being realistic (in the sense of the games) but also not just a back and fourth like the games are.

    The funny thing about going on that trip during Christmas: I live in the Southern hemisphere, so Christmas and New Years Eve is summer. Sun goes down at near 9pm, warm night's, barbeques and cold beers. Even bigger difference!

    As for Jon's choice, that is the point of growth I wanted to have for him. He puts himself in positions where he shoulders a lot of weight, and Jack's words about there not being right or wrong decisions but simple the decisions he makes and tries to bring the best for are something he needs to hear. I hope to try and have thay growth present in Spiritwater somehow.

    I have started writing Season 2 already, and am keen. What I can say now is there is a good mix of the stuff that made Season 1 unique but also things being changed up a bit too. So I'm very keen to get stuff written and posted.

    Sent from my SM-G973F using Tapatalk

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