nandosagi: (Kyoko Sakura)
[personal profile] nandosagi

CHAPTER 1: Darkrai's Shadow

-:-

The ferry port was a considerably spacious building sitting right on the banks of the river. After their ferry arrived, Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny wasted no time in making their way back outside, to the streets of Whitegold City itself.

"Oh, wow!" Olivia beamed, her eyes glittering with excitement. "Whitegold City is really cool! The buildings are all so huge!"

"Stay interested, Olivia," Matt said to encourage her. "The first thing we have to do is go shopping to get some clothes. There should be some good stores not far from here, so let's get going."

-:-

Beneath Whitegold City, a sprawling system of spacious tunnels unfolded. They were unusually large to just be sewers, but their purpose was not clear. Inside the tunnels, a canal of water flowed down the middle of each corridor, while paths bordered the water on both sides, periodically bisecting it with a bridge.

On one of these wide paths, Everton, Foster and Baker were riding on an open-cabbed hover-truck equipped with a flatbed. Foster was driving the vehicle, and several crates of varying sizes were secured on its cargo carrier.

"Stop here," Everton commanded, having been monitoring the progress of the truck in moving through the city on a small, dashboard-mounted computer.

Foster complied, and the truck stopped near a large doorway that led to a freight elevator. Everton and his two henchmen disembarked from the truck and apprised the cargo they had been carrying.

"Get the uppermost crate off there and into the elevator," he instructed his two employees. "Cryogonal, help them!"

From the interior pocket of his jacket, Everton produced a sphere with a black-and-yellow top – an Ultra Ball – and threw it upward, releasing the snowflake Pokémon that the emblem on his hat was based on. It was actually quite large, nearly five feet in height, and had a shiny, sky-blue surface. Two glowing green eyes peered out from an opening in its body, and just below the eyes, chains of green ice crystals hung down. Cryogonal's appearance was also accompanied by an unusual golden shine around it, indicating that it was not its usual coloration.

"Understood, sir. Throh, come out!"

"And Sawk, you come out as well!"

From the two Poké Balls thrown by Foster and Baker, two humanoid Pokémon emerged. Foster's Throh was squat, rotund and red in color with a thick black nose and eyebrows. Baker's Sawk, his blue counterpart, was much thinner, taller, and only had an eyebrow over his left eye. Both were wearing white robes tied with black belts.

As it had been directed, Everton's Cryogonal extended its ice chains to ensnare a handle on the top of the crate. Despite not being the largest piece of cargo on the truck, the container was quite heavy, and Cryogonal had to struggle to lift it. Everton plainly didn't care, however.

Eventually, Cryogonal managed to heft the container off the truck and onto the waiting shoulders of Throh and Sawk. They had much more strength than the Ice-type did, so carrying the weight was less challenging for them. Foster and Baker guided them to the doors of the freight elevator, which Everton had already activated and opened. The two guards followed their Pokémon inside, themselves followed by their leader and his Cryogonal.

While Baker pulled the doors of the elevator shut, Everton reached into his jacket to retrieve another Ultra Ball. "It's time to keep going. Klinklang!"

The second Ultra Ball released Everton's Klinklang, a Pokémon made up of three interlocking silver gears affixed to a fourth, larger gear. On the uppermost gear, there was a crude face comprised of a single eye, a white 'X' and a round mouth.

"Klinklang, power the elevator with Discharge."

"Klink, klink, klink…" the Steel-type Pokémon droned as it moved into position. It affixed the spiked rim surrounding its body into a matching slot on a platform next to the elevator's door, then released the electricity contained in its red core gear through its spikes.

In an instant the elevator came to life, illuminating from the power surging through it. It lurched briefly, then began rising at a steady clip, taking its passengers and cargo upward.

"Captain Everton, sir…" Foster piped up, "Why does this elevator have to be powered by your Klinklang specifically when all the others don't? I don't really understand."

"Security. What's in this warehouse can't be let out to just anyone. And I don't pay you to understand, you get paid to do what you're told! That's what you two do!"

Foster was sufficiently cowed by his boss's outburst, while Baker did not visibly react at all. Despite the difference between their responses, the result was the same – the rest of the elevator ride up to the warehouse was spent in silence aside from Klinklang's busy humming.

When the elevator abruptly stopped at its destination, Everton simply walked over to the doors, opened them, and said, "Let's go. Bring the crate."

As its master left the elevator, Klinklang disconnected from the power mechanism and floated alongside Cryogonal, then the two of them followed him out. Foster and Baker went next, trailed finally by Throh and Sawk, who were carrying the crate.

The warehouse was dim and the air inside its confines smelled rather musty. A direct path was shown to the conspirators as they made their way to their destination, the single large crate in the center of the facility, by the lamp positioned above it.

When the group stopped walking, there was a moment of silence before Baker turned and said, "Put the crate down."

Sawk immediately complied, lowering his side of the crate carefully to the floor. Throh, on the other hand, wasn't ready, and as a result, nearly slipped and dropped it.

Everton wasn't paying attention to anything his two guards' Pokémon were doing. He was more focused on the bigger crate before him, and the pen-like device he'd taken from his inner pocket.

"Little did you know, Governor, you will help me unveil the future of energy despite your ignoring of my proposals." With that one statement, Everton pressed down on the button on the end of the pen.

Triggered by the device, the panels forming the crate's sides retracted into its framework, changing it from a crate into a cage. Floating within its confines was another Pokémon, one with a tattered black body that ended in a skirt-like outgrowth on the bottom and a flowing shock of white hair on the top. In between the two was a jagged red protrusion that went all around its body like a necklace.

"That's… Darkrai!" Baker exclaimed, visibly shocked even behind his dark glasses. Foster clearly shared his surprise.

"Yes, and it took me a lot of negotiation. That fool up in the government headquarters thinks I'm using his Darkrai to find a new energy source, and you know what? He's right. This will be the first step in bringing about a revolution in energy! Let's get started, then. Darkrai, wake up."

A single eye opened just underneath Darkrai's hair, and the mysterious creature silently watched as Everton paced outside of its prison.

"That investment in the Kodai Network Group was worth it. Having his technology certainly cuts down on the amount of work I have to do to restrain you, Darkrai."

Without saying another word Everton pressed the button again. This time it triggered the unfolding of the crate he had delivered with Foster and Baker, revealing a machine that resembled a water tank. Two robotic arms extended from it and attached a collar to Darkrai's body, not even bending under the resistance Darkrai attempted to stage. Once the collar was safely affixed to Darkrai's body, the arms withdrew and Everton approached the cage.

"Listen and listen well, Darkrai. You are going to be an integral part of history. If you disobey me, that device attached to you will give you a nasty shock…" To accentuate his point, Everton pressed the button once again, causing Darkrai to briefly be electrocuted by the collar. Drinking in the hatred Darkrai was glaring at him with while pushing itself up from the ground, he continued, "Don't disobey me. What will happen to you if you do is something you'd rather avoid, I'll promise you that."

"Captain Everton, sir?" Baker interrupted, his hand on the transmitter in his ear.

"What? This better be something important!"

"Sir, I've just received confirmation that Matt Chiaki and his group have arrived in Whitegold City."

"Ah, excellent!" Everton turned fully from Darkrai's crate and made a grand gesture by spreading his arms. "All the pieces are now on the board. It is time for the game to begin!"

-:-

"Did you two really need to buy so much?"

Matt was left carrying all of Nekou and Olivia's bags from their shopping trip in addition to his own. While he'd only bought one suit, they had gone completely overboard, each buying two more outfits in addition to their dresses for the speech. Bunny, meanwhile, only purchased one dress as well, and was carrying it herself as the group walked down a street not far from Everton's building, where the speech would be held.

"Well, yeah, we did," Olivia answered, not even bothering to turn around while she spoke. "When I start going for badges and Ribbons, I have to look good, right?"

"And it's not like you don't have any money," Nekou added in a deadpan tone while glancing back over her shoulder.

Thoroughly defeated, Matt said nothing more and dropped the subject. Bunny felt like she should do something to fix the situation, though, so she spoke up instead.

"We've still got some time before Matt has to give his speech, so how about we visit Balise Park?"

"Balise Park?" Matt repeated questioningly, while Nekou and Olivia stopped ahead of him.

"You're giving a speech here but you don't know one of this city's most famous landmarks?" Nekou scolded him. "Everyone knows that Balise Park is where you go to see the trees when they change color at the beginning of the autumn season. It's world famous! I've been there before but not at the right time, so I've never seen it, but I really want to. Autumn really is my favorite season… the way life is going into a resting phase for the winter is at once depressing but hopeful, because it will return before too long…"

Not paying much heed to Nekou's rambling, Matt mentioned, "Autumn just started, too."

"And the park is right there!" exclaimed Bunny as she pointed down the street. "Let's go and see it!"

Finding themselves in consensus, the quartet hurried down the road and entered the fenced gateway at the end where the street diverged off.

Balise Park was even more grand than the descriptions had made it sound. The trees in the park had leaves in vivid red and brown colors, forming a beautiful sea of warm hues that seemed to stretch on nearly endlessly. A stream flowed through the area, necessitating the use of a stone footbridge to cross it.

"This… this is fucking beautiful!" Nekou exclaimed, her voice shaking as joy overtook her. "The colors… the colors of my favorite season…"

"Hey, Matt," Olivia called from several feet away, "come check this out."

The girl was standing with several others who were gathered around a television mounted above the ground on a pole, so Matt and Bunny joined her as well. On the television was a news report being broadcast by a green-haired young woman with thinly-framed glasses.

"Welcome back to Everton News Channel's continuing coverage of the Whitegold City festival events leading up to the Pokémon Bowl tournament the day after tomorrow. I'm Midori Makise, anchoring our coverage. Let's go live to Balise Park, where many potential entrants have gone to brush up on their skills with practice matches…"

"Pokémon Bowl?" Olivia wondered out loud. "Like Pokémon Baccer? Is it a sport?"

"It is a so-called sport, and it is only played by classless brutes with no taste for the true nature of battle."

This abrupt statement came from a petite girl who had been watching the broadcast alongside the others all along. Despite speaking with a haughty manner befitting that of an extremely wealthy person, she was dressed plainly, wearing a leather jacket, jeans and sunglasses. Her long, thick golden hair was woven into a ponytail through the top of the sky-blue baseball cap she wore.

"Well that was rather rude," countered Olivia with a huff. "Sports like Pokémon Baccer are fun, so what should you care about it?"

"Because you seem to be a cultured woman like myself. You need not foul yourself with such low-class trash."

"Okay, time out," Bunny interrupted, having heard more than enough. "Olivia, stop taking the bait this girl is putting out. It just sounds to me like she wants a fight."

"Oh, I don't need to fight someone like you," said the girl while she waved her hand mockingly at Bunny and Olivia. "It would just be rather boring to me."

"Okay, enough!" Matt wouldn't even allow either Olivia nor Bunny the chance to get upset. "If you're talking such a big game, back it up. I'll take you on!"

The girl simply giggled softly. "Now who is this uncouth ruffian that would challenge me? Very well, we shall battle in the center of the park."

Together with the girl, Matt, Olivia and Bunny headed for the footbridge to cross the river and enter the park's center. Nekou trailed behind, having finally realized that she was being left back due to her distraction over the color of the leaves.

"What's going on?" she asked, once she'd caught up with the others. "Where are we going?"

"This girl just came up and started trashing us and upsetting Olivia, so I'm going to battle her to put her in her place."

"She upset Olivia?" Nekou immediately plowed past Matt to get alongside Olivia. She then put her hand on Olivia's shoulder and said, "Don't worry about it, Olivia. Matt's going to put that little bitch in her place. He better, if he knows what's good for him…"

Matt didn't see the face Nekou made at him by half-closing her eyes, nor did he hear her threat, so no more words were exchanged.

It wasn't long before the assembled group reached the center of the park, which was like an idyllic oasis right inside the heart of Whitegold City's urban area. Numerous stone tables and benches dotted the landscape in the shadows of giant oak trees whose bodies bent over and touched the ground.

The mysterious girl led them to an open area, then gestured to Matt to stop walking as she put some distance between herself and him. He did so, passing the bags to Bunny as well. Once she was far enough away, the girl stopped, turned and called out, "Are you ready to lose, you scruffy vagabond?"

"I wouldn't be getting so confident up front if I was you!" Matt countered. "You've really broken one of the rules I won't tolerate. You upset Olivia!"

"Hmph. Well, our skills will determine which of us strides off the battlefield with head held high! Espeon, Starmie and Beheeyem, I call you forth!"

From the pricey-looking handbag she carried, the girl took out and threw three Poké Balls. In addition to the Espeon and Starmie that appeared, there was also a new Pokémon, one with an entirely brown body and elongated head. She had glowing green eyes and overall looked as if she was disguised in a hat and trench coat.

"Well, that's a new one to me. And wait... three Pokémon?"

The girl huffed at Matt's seeming ignorance once more. "This is my Beheeyem. Psychic-types are my preference and she's one that I quite fancy. And dare I venture that you don't know what a Triple Battle is?" When he didn't respond, she lightly giggled again. "Three Pokémon on each side. That brutish Pokémon Bowl competition uses Triple Battles, but they put all sorts of unappealing rules on it. Battles should be pure and unfouled with unnecessary regulations that do nothing but subtract from the pleasure of it all. So therefore… come at me with everything you've got!"

"With pleasure," Matt whispered with a smile. "Hethna, Agnetha, Ayingott, make your mark!"

When Matt threw his three Poké Balls into the air, his Ambipom, Agnetha, appeared. Alongside her were Hethna, his Golurk, and Ayingott, his Sigilyph.

With the two trios of Pokémon staring each other down between the gazes of their trainers, and Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and many other people and Pokémon in the park looking on, the battle began.

The opening shots were taken by Agentha when she rushed toward Espeon and used her tails in an attempt to deliver a Shadow Claw attack. Espeon managed to back away enough that she only suffered a glancing blow, and she had help from Starmie's Psychic holding Agnetha back somewhat.

Ayingott interrupted by firing an Energy Ball from between the two eyes in the middle of her spherical body. The crackling green sphere struck Starmie effectively, blowing the Water-and-Psychic-type back and singeing its body. Hethna added to the offense by swinging its large fist to generate a Shadow Punch attack, which came out of the darkness cast by a tree to hit Starmie again. However, Beheeyem quickly counterattacked by generating her own Energy Ball between the three flashing lights on her hand, hitting Hethna just as effectively in response.

As the battle raged, Olivia and Bunny sat at a table off to the side, completely engrossed in the action. Olivia's Minccino was playing with Marie, Nekou's tiny Sneasel, at their feet. As for Nekou, while Marie was amusing herself with the gray chinchilla Pokémon, she was simply sitting reading a book, not even paying attention that much to the battle. She was more preoccupied with taking care of her Zorua, whom she finally had the chance to let out of her Poké Ball.

Starmie targeted Hethna with a shot of steaming-hot water. This attack, Scald, worked extremely well, playing on Hethna's natural part-Ground type and its weakness to Water-type moves. While the Golurk reeled back, a large part of the blotched area on its chest visibly burnt, Agnetha dropped in from the trees and defended her teammate with a Seed Bomb against Starmie. Both sides were roughly tied at this point, at least until Ayingott came in and finished Starmie off with another Energy Ball.

Angered, and finding herself stuck with two Pokémon against Matt's three, the girl recalled Starmie and immediately sent Beheeyem and Espeon forth. The two attacked with a tandem Shadow Ball, aiming squarely for Ayingott. The sheer speed of this assault caught Matt and his Pokémon off guard, and Ayingott got hit hard, her red-yellow-and-blue feathers scattering everywhere.

Olivia, Bunny and Nekou were not the only ones watching the battle, and Minccino, Marie and Zorua weren't the only Pokémon. Numerous trainers sat and stood in the area surrounding the battlefield, accompanied by a wide assortment of Pokémon including Druddigon, Weavile, Empoleon, Metagross, Walrein, Glalie, Froslass, Absol, Dusclops, Torkoal, Aggron, Porygon2, Stantler, Heracross, Slowking, Lapras, Cloyster, Vanilluxe and Carracosta.

Agentha dropped out of the trees in an Acrobatics attack, bringing her tails down forcefully onto Espeon's forehead. As the two broke away from each other, Espeon cried out, then responded to her trainer's commands by calling forth a wide field of electricity that would serve as its Zap Cannon. Ayingott got caught up in the storm of energy, and she could take no more, falling to the ground and fainting. Matt was careful in recalling her, as she was still twitching from the leftover electricity working its way through her body.

He would not remain tied with his opponent for long, however. Hethna was sent forward once more, striking Espeon with a Shadow Punch generated by its hulking fists. This was it for Espeon, and she collapsed, unable to take any more. Now left with just Beheeyem, the girl took the desperate action of ordering another Energy Ball targeted at Hethna, hoping that it would knock the Golurk out and tie the match again.

However, this tactic was too predictable by then, and Matt saw right through it. He had Agentha cut the Energy Ball down by stopping it with Double Hit, then Hethna immediately followed up with one last Shadow Punch, striking Beheeyem down once and for all.

With the battle over, Matt finally relaxed for the first time in what seemed like forever. "I did it," he thought to himself. He'd successfully fought back and defended Olivia's honor, and for even a brief second he felt adequate in living up to the promise he'd made to Olivia's late father, Rich, before his death. As she didn't even know about her father's fate from five years earlier, though, it was a constant struggle for Matt to feel like he was treating her well enough to keep his word and his obligation.

He heard applause at that point, coming from the many trainers who were gathered around the park watching the battle. Matt realized that his fight not only had defended Olivia's honor, but entertained this large group of people, and with a sense of humble gratitude, he turned and waved to them all.

"What a collection of Pokémon," he quietly noted to himself as he scanned the crowd. It struck him just how diverse the assortment of Pokémon that had gathered for the Pokémon Bowl really was.

"You're not so bad after all," said the mysterious girl, having called back Beheeyem and sorted out her affairs over her defeat. "I think you might be worthy of learning my name, so I'll tell you it. My name is Katorena. I'm visiting Whitegold City to prepare for my journey in competition against the Pokémon Gyms of the Kanto Region."

"Well met, then. I'm Matt, and my friends are Olivia, Nekou and Bunny." Matt pointed out each of the appropriate members of his group as he named them.

The sound of clapping distracted both Matt and Katorena from their initial conversation. It was coming from a sharply-dressed man in a black tailcoat, who was approaching them alongside a beautiful blonde woman wearing a purple dress with a fluffy skirt that reached down almost to her ankles.

"Bravo, bravo, what a show!" the man exclaimed, walking right up to Matt and Katorena. "Truly, a spectacle that showed off the potential of all of your Pokémon. It's just the kind of thing I'd like to have in my show!"

"And just who do you think you are?" Katorena rudely demanded. "Walking up to me and trying to draft me for some farce without even giving your name. How crude!"

"Yes, you're right, that was rude of me. I am Butler the magician." As he said this, Butler bowed, deeply enough that strands of his dark-blue mullet flaked over into his face.

"I'm Diane," the woman added, "Butler's assistant and close companion. I'm pleased to meet you both."

"You see, Diane and I have brought our magic show here in order to participate in Whitegold City's annual festival, which begins tomorrow. After I saw the show you two put on just now, I'd like to invite you to participate!"

"A festival and a magic show, huh? Well, I wasn't planning on staying much beyond tonight, since my speech is about to come up…"

"I want to stay!" Olivia had abruptly appeared right next to Matt and was now leveling demands at him all over again. "It's a magic show, and a whole festival on top of that! We can't miss something like that! I want to stay for the festival and the Pokémon Bowl too!"

Matt sighed. "I just can't say no to that face. You know, Olivia, you really have me coming and going."

"That's right, I do!"

Matt and Olivia could have gone on forever, even in front of people they had just met. For that reason, it was good that at that exact moment, a car pulled up near them and a man in a uniform similar to Foster and Baker's stepped out to address them.

"Matt Chiaki?"

"That's me. What is it?"

"Captain Everton has sent me to inform you that he wishes you to come to the building for the speech now. I will escort you and your partners there."

"I guess I'll be seeing you all another time, then," Matt bid to Katorena, Butler and Diane. "Nekou! Bunny! Let's get going!"

-:-

The headquarters of Everton International, located at One Everton Plaza in the heart of Whitegold City, were quite an impressive and intimidating sight. Trees surrounded the light-gray limestone building, which itself was fifty-five floors high. The first ten floors comprised a wide, sturdy base for the structure, while the other forty-five jutted upward in a narrow, towering construct. Durable steel cables attached to the corners of the building from the roofs of some of the surrounding buildings, which were themselves rather impressive in height.

Down on the first floor lobby, which was a large common room with well-polished blue floor tiles, a curvaceous woman entered the building. Her raven-colored hair hung out of the hood she wore to cover her head, and her eyes were covered by tinted glasses. She walked directly up to the bronze desk on the left side of the lobby, where a sleepy-looking receptionist wearing her brown hair in a bun sat. Behind the desk, a large, golden model of Everton's anchor insignia hung in front of a silver backdrop, with green spotlights shining on the water running down the wall.

"Can I help you?" the receptionist asked, a hint of annoyance playing in her voice.

"Yes, I'm here to cover Matt Chiaki's energy presentation, actually."

"May I see your press pass, then?"

"Here." The woman handed over an identification card, which the receptionist wasted no time in scanning and returning.

"Enjoy the speech presented to you by Everton International." Everything out of the receptionist's mouth was dull and indifferent-sounding, so it was hard to judge how seriously she was taking anything that happened.

Regardless of the receptionist's cold attitude, however, the woman walked away from the desk, putting away her press pass as she moved. She leaned against a wall on the other side of the lobby, near a bank of televisions playing videos about Everton, his company and their histories.

"Cincci?" A Pokémon extremely similar in appearance to Minccino popped up next to the woman's head inside her cloak. In fact, the only difference between her and Olivia's Minccino was that this Pokémon was wrapped all over in luxurious white fur.

"Don't you worry, Cinccino," the woman said, giving her Pokémon a friendly scratch on the head. "We'll get to the bottom of this story once and for all, and Liam Everton won't be getting away with his corrupt actions any longer."

-:-

Meanwhile, up on the top floor of the Everton building, the captain himself sat in his office, which actually took up the entire floor. His desk was carved from highly expensive oak and accented with gold trimming, while short, plush blue carpet lined the floor all over the office. The windows, finally, wrapped nearly all the way around, stopping only to create space for the elevators to come up.

Everton was sitting in his tall-backed, leather chair using the computer installed on his desk. The window he had open over the silver-and-blue desktop wallpaper displayed a stock trading program, equipped with statistics and graphs.

"Black City Exchange Trader's Account," he read out loud to himself. "Open Investments… Brick Piece Reserves, $550,500. Star Piece Trading, $679,000. Let's finish that off by putting $825,650 into Icirrus Mineral Collection… current total balance, $2,055,150." Smirking, he then said rather loudly, "That ought to do it. Soon enough I'll have just enough money to do exactly what I need to do."

Suddenly, the phone on Everton's desk rang, startling him and causing him to jump. He abruptly picked it up and shouted, "What is it?"

"Captain Everton, sir!" It was the employee who had been sent to pick up Matt and his group. "I am in transit to One Everton Plaza right now with Matt Chiaki and his partners in my care. We will be arriving shortly."

"See to it that it gets done!" After slamming the phone back down, Everton seemed to calm slightly. He leaned back in his chair and said into the air, "The pieces are now beginning to move on the board. Before long, the future of energy will be realized."

-:-

Far from Whitegold City was Viridian City, another of Kanto's large and famous cities. It had once been a relatively small but busy area, but in recent years, it had undergone a complete transformation, morphing from a modest city in harmony with nature to a huge and futuristic metropolis. One thing that always remained throughout all of Viridian City's growing pains, though, was the antique mansion just outside the main part of the community. It was well-kept by numerous landscapers, and the building itself never fell into disrepair, but these factors only seemed to contribute to the mysterious air it exuded. The mansion was the subject of many rumors among the longer-term residents of the city.

The truth was that the mansion was the residence of Viridian City Gym Leader Giovanni, who was also supposedly the former boss of the criminal organization known as Team Rocket. Things had been much more busy at his residence that day than they usually were, as he was having to deal with the police heavily. He had actually been captured by the police the day before, but successfully negotiated for monitored house arrest in exchange for helping take down a renegade member of the team. On top of that he also managed to gain clearance for all his other remaining followers for all past crimes, but that didn't get him out of the house arrest.

Tired from the day-long arranging of the particulars for his house arrest, Giovanni dropped his towering body into the plush red velvet couch in his personal lounge, which he considered his sanctuary from the madness of the outside world. In his mind, dealing the police was almost harder than working with some of the assorted lunatics who worked for him inside Team Rocket. The warm light from the chandelier overhead glistened on Giovanni's slightly-receded brown hair as he reached for a nearby bottle of red wine, his favorite drink for when he simply wanted to relax.

After pouring the highly expensive and well-aged drink into its accompanying glass, Giovanni downed a rather large sip of it. The warmth in his throat calmed him, even if it would take some time for the alcohol's more potent properties to take effect.

"Mrow?"

The presence of that voice meant that Giovanni's idyllic sanctuary was now complete. He was a wealthy man who strongly subscribed to the idea that money could to some degree buy happiness; it was an ideal reflected in not only the chandelier and wine but the burgundy silk robe he currently was wearing, along with the multiple works of art, various antiques such as lamps and vases, and even the ornate billiards table in the room. For all of that, though, one of his favorite comforts was also the simplest – his trusted companion, Persian. The feline Pokémon, who was now nuzzling his hand and purring happily, was one of the rare living things Giovanni felt he could truly call a friend.

"Hello there, my friend," he said quietly, giving Persian a scratch on the head that pleased the Pokémon greatly.

This scene was interrupted when the door into the room loudly closed, bringing both Giovanni and Persian to alert. It was Giovanni's assistant, a young woman dressed in a uniform with purple sleeves that ended in red cuffs, matching the color of the strip that ran down the uniform's middle. Pairs of golden buttons were arranged down her front in rows, and she also wore a pencil skirt that ended just above her knees, at which point the nylon stockings covering her legs could be seen. Finally, she had a pair of oval-shaped wireframe glasses that surrounded her cold green eyes and nestled in the purple hair that went down to her back.

As soon as he saw the young woman, Persian happily jumped over the couch and sprang right onto her, knocking her to the ground. Even though he kept licking her face, though, her expression remained relatively blank.

"Stacia, what are you doing here?" Giovanni demanded.

"I… I only came to check and make sure you were okay after today, sir," the woman, Stacia, nervously offered. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Giovanni sighed. Most of his followers were complete imbeciles, but the ones who weren't were far too eager to earn their boss's favor. Stacia definitely fell into the latter group, but Giovanni didn't hate her for it like he did for most of the lower-level underlings who did similar things.

"Persian's on top of you because he knows you give him things when you show up. Go get him a dish of milk."

"Yes, sir," Stacia responded, adjusting her glasses as she rose to her feet and headed for the mini-kitchen connected to the lounge. Persian followed enthusiastically at her heels, as he knew that he was going to get something out of her.

Now alone again, Giovanni reached for the remote control sitting on the couch and used it to activate the widescreen plasma television hanging on the wall before him. It happened to be already tuned to the Everton News Channel, and Midori Makise appeared on the screen.

"In other news," she intoned, "We are currently awaiting the press conference about to be held at the headquarters of Everton International here in Whitegold City. The subject has been announced to be the challenges of the continued reliance on oil for energy, and the proposal of a new, renewable energy source by Matt Chiaki, a scientist with an honorary doctorate from Hoenn's Rustboro School."[/i]

Giovanni's eyes widened when he heard Matt's name. Coincidentally enough, it had been Matt Chiaki that had set off the chain of events that led to this point, his encounter with Matt being why Giovanni was under house arrest in the first place. Team Rocket had attempted to take over a tournament at the Indigo Plateau, but Matt, who was charged with helping bring them down by the International Police inspector codenamed Looker, defeated his Excadrill in a battle and helped arrest him.

"So they're all there too?" the Team Rocket boss said to himself as the camera providing the news footage panned over the banquet hall inside Everton's building where Matt's speech would be held.

"Mister Giovanni, sir, are you speaking to me?" Stacia meekly asked, making her way back into the room and setting the dish of milk down, much to Persian's delight. She had to raise her voice above its usual quiet tone so she could be heard above the sound of Persian gleefully lapping up the milk. "I did not hear what it was you want me to do."

"Stacia, keep an eye on events in Whitegold City over the next day or two. If Matt Chiaki and his group are there, I have a rather ominous feeling about what will happen."

"I will see that it is done. Thank you for the responsibility, sir."

Stacia turned to leave, but she stopped when Giovanni spoke further.

"Stay here. I want another pair of eyes on this news conference. Something seems suspicious about it."

Though she wouldn't argue with him anyway due to his being her boss, Stacia was internally grateful for the opportunity. Every time she got to do something for him, she felt like she was actually needed.

-:-

The banquet hall was on the twenty-third floor of the Everton building. It was a room lit by dim but warm lamps affixed all around the golden walls, with a floor adorned with short red carpet that had a black cross pattern stitched into it. At the head of the room, there was a stage set up with a large video screen and a podium. The press covering Matt's speech were busily arranging their equipment, while other invited guests – such as potential investors and foreign energy developers considering contracting Matt's technology – enjoyed the wide variety of foods catered in for the conference.

Of course, Nekou – now wearing a female-oriented black tailcoat that she left a few buttons open on, along with a short skirt and knee-high boots – was right there at the forefront of where food was available. Her plate was piled high with a bizarre assortment of edibles, ranging from chicken to salad and quite an impressive share of macaroni and cheese.

"You want to share some of that?" Olivia, who was standing next to Nekou, asked. She hadn't been able to get at the macaroni and cheese before she was pushed aside by several others trying to get other foods on that table.

"Of course. For you I'll do it, but don't tell Matt, he might think I'd share food with him too." Nekou was careful as she scooped over some of her share onto Olivia's dish. She didn't want to make a mess of Olivia's frilly new blue-and-pink dress.

"You two really get along famously, don't you?" Bunny interjected sarcastically. Her formal wear was a simple black evening gown with a slit up the right side that ended halfway between her knee and thigh.

"What, do you want some too?" There was no reason for Nekou to believe this, but she blushed and pulled her plate away nevertheless. "I don't know about you yet. I share with people who I really know I like!"

At first Bunny was offended by how defensive Nekou was getting, but upon second thought, she realized that Nekou was only being brutally honest, and decided to let it go.

Luckily, just at that point, the lights dimmed, indicating that the speech was about to start. Everyone who had been standing made their way to the seats that were arranged in front of the stage, allowing the press the front two rows. Nekou, Olivia and Bunny lined up next to each other in the very back.

When a light came up on the stage itself, another dark-suited Everton employee stepped up to the podium and leaned over into the microphones. "Ladies and gentlemen from the media, as well as our invited guests, thank you for attending this conference sponsored by Everton International in cooperation with the Angel Corporation. This evening, you will be listening to a speech given by our keynote speaker, which will then be followed by a question and answer session. Therefore, please, hold your questions until the end of the speech, in which the appropriate time will be made for them to be addressed. Now, without further ado, please welcome this evening's keynote speaker."

Matt, dressed in a white suit with a gray vest and blue tie underneath, made his way onto the stage, shook hands with the departing Everton employee, and took his place at the podium, all to a light smattering of applause. He cleared his throat nervously and adjusted some of the microphones to suit his height more appropriately.

"Um… thank you, thank you for coming, all of you. Now, for the past one hundred and fifty-eight years, the world has come to rely more and more on a single particular substance for everything from heating to transportation and all other kinds of fuels. It truly has united the world, every nation, under the singular desire of obtaining this precious commodity. Now, wouldn't you think that's a good thing? That one substance, so elegant in its simplicity, could bring together every nation on every continent, thus truly uniting the entire world?

If only it were that simple. Of course, all of you know that the substance I am referring to is oil. Could a syrupy black liquid truly be the solution to all of the world's problems? It is true that oil has brought the world industrial and economic prosperity on an unprecedented scale, but at what cost? For far too long now, we have seen the world fall victim to the darker side of oil. Wars have been fought. Lands have been drilled to disastrous proportions. Even the transportation of oil has given us a grim history of problems. While, again, it is true that oil has given mankind many good things, could it be that the time has come to bid farewell to the era of petroleum once and for all?

To that question, I say yes. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the ALEA, the Absolute Limitless Energy Allocation system. A new energy source of my creation, the ALEA has been successful in reducing the oil consumption of Snowpoint City in Sinnoh by sixty percent only six months after being implemented. Each of you from the press has received a packet of materials for further reference on this system's early history, and you will find that it contains a short video elaborating on several subjects covered in my speech this evening.

Now what is it that makes the ALEA so powerful as a potential alternative to oil? First of all, it requires minimum upfront investment. While the equipment required to operate an ALEA-enabled power facility is not cheap, the cost is balanced out in the long term by overall savings, and the equipment will become less expensive as the technology expands to become more common. The fuel for an ALEA facility is also extremely cheap to acquire, transport large quantities of, and put into use, especially compared to the heavy costs associated with petroleum. Secondly, the ALEA has a minimal footprint on the environment. It is estimated that at least eighty percent of the pollution from an oil plant can be eliminated by switching over to an ALEA facility of the same size. The fuel is safe with little to no toxicity and is extremely long-lasting. Finally, third, the energy output from an ALEA facility is exponentially higher than that of an oil-fired power plant, and much more economical as well. According to estimates based on the results of the test facility constructed in Snowpoint City, a typical power plant equipped to use the ALEA can produce roughly fifty percent more energy than a typical oil plant, while lasting seven times as long on a single refueling."

Extending his right hand with his palm upturned, Matt finished, "Truly, the ALEA is the future of energy, and that future is bright! Join me! Come hand-in-hand into that bright tomorrow where the world will be freed from the shackles of oil!" Another burst of applause greeted Matt's enthusiastic turn, and he smiled as he lowered his hand. "Thank you, everyone. Now, as promised, I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have regarding the plans I have laid out."

A hand immediately went up in the back of the crowd; Matt couldn't clearly see who it was due to the dimmed lights, but he pointed in its direction anyway.

"Is your refrigerator running?"

Matt sighed forcefully. It was Nekou playing a prank on him. Even though he was visibly annoyed, though, on some level he appreciated her trying to lighten the mood and make him less nervous.

"I'll ask that you please keep your questions to the ALEA and relevant subjects, please."

Several other hands went up, and Matt selected a hat-wearing, middle-aged man who rose to his feet when he was pointed at. "Could you explain further on just what the ALEA's fuel is and how it can possibly be such an efficient source of energy?"

"Ah, excellent question. You see, the fuel that is used by the ALEA actually is the mineral that comprises the jewels called Spheres. These Spheres can be mined out of the ground anywhere in the world. Once they are buried, they grow, giving off energy all the while. The ALEA works by burying Spheres in highly enriched soil inside special plugs that collect and harness this energy. A typical ALEA facility is designed in subdivided blocks, each block containing a certain number of units, which each contain several of these plugs. Because Spheres grow very slowly, each one gives off energy for a long time, thus creating the need to only refuel the plant rarely."

"Thank you," the next reporter, a slightly overweight woman in her thirties, said when she was pointed at following the end of Matt's answer. "What can you tell us about the safety of this system?"

"It is completely safe," Matt replied. "Spheres are not a combustible fuel. Even if a critical error occurs at an ALEA facility, the fuel cannot combust. The machinery to harness their energy is also equipped with fail-safe mechanisms designed to prevent explosions of the machines themselves. On another note, once the fuel has been fully expended and needs to be switched out, it can be safely disposed of with no ill effects. There is zero environmental risk in Spheres as a fuel for the system." Pointing toward the back again, he said, "Your turn."

"Does this system have ten-pound balls?"

This time Matt really was annoyed. It was Olivia who made the interrupting remark, and he immediately realized that Nekou had goaded her on into saying it. "Someone who isn't my student who is getting penalized later for bad behavior, please," he hissed through gritted teeth.

"Can you tell us about the plans for expanding this technology?" another female reporter inquired.

"Excellent question. I have been given financing by the Angel Corporation to continue development of the ALEA and prepare the implementation of it in the power plants of the Tohjo Continent that buy into the system. This work is planned to be assisted by subcontracting through Everton International, which owns many of the Tohjo Continent's energy plants, and through this evening's event we hope to gather investors interested in further assisting the financing of the project. The software that operates this technology is extremely user-friendly, and can even guide a facility that enters the project through the steps of upgrading their equipment to meet our specifications. Next question?"

"Does your system have anything to do with the blasphemy you commit by existing?"

This sudden question caused Matt to jump. It wasn't Olivia or Nekou joking this time, in fact, it was a male voice. This meant he had to take it seriously, if not by default, and he tried to work out what it meant.

"Come again?" he coughed in confusion.

"Maybe I didn't make myself clear, so let me phrase it in plainer terms. You, Matt Chiaki, are an abomination and commit evil with every breath you take. By modifying your body with technology you have defiled the divinity of the DNA that originally comprised you…"

"That's it, I'm cutting you off," Matt interrupted, his mind clouding with doubt even further. "Get serious or cede the floor to someone who is. Who are you even?"

"We are Polaris," the man replied, rising from his seat alongside another man and woman who were sitting next to him. All three were wearing white lab coats. "We are a group that believes in the divinity of DNA, the building block of life itself. You have modified yourself with machinery completely foreign to the organic nature of existence, so we must oppose any effort you make to change our world."

None of this made any sense, and Matt truly believed it was some ridiculous prank. He could only shake his head as he attempted to work it out.

"I see you don't understand," the man continued, not allowing Matt a chance to respond to the earlier charges. "It does not matter in the end, though. We will make sure that this is the last day you exist to see."

In unison, all three protestors threw individual Poké Balls, releasing three Magneton. Though the trio of Magneton received no orders at first, they all used Discharge to blast electric bolts all over the room. Before long the room was in a wreck, with the food tables burned and overturned, and chairs scattered everywhere. The press and guests were fleeing this rapidly escalating scene in a panic, including the mysterious hooded reporter and her Cinccino, who were the last to leave. Matt, meanwhile, had no clear path to escape, and could only back slowly up away from the podium.

"Hey, leave him alone, you mean jerks!" Olivia angrily screamed, having remained behind with Nekou and Bunny. All of them were now standing on the side of the room, near one of the destroyed tables.

"Be silent, young lady. You are still pure and untainted. This creature standing before us is an abomination against nature and must be eliminated. Magneton, Thunder Wave!"

The intentions of the man and his two eerily-silent cohorts became clear. If the Magneton were to hit Matt with their combined Thunder Wave, the cybernetic implants sustaining his body would inevitably fail, and his life could potentially be put in danger.

"Balin, Flamethrower!"

A blast of fire suddenly and unexpectedly shot across the room, mowing down all three Magneton. It had come from Bunny's Ninetales, Balin, whom she'd hastily sent out to defend Matt from the protestors. He pushed one of his front paws into the carpeting and growled angrily, recognizing the three as threats to one of his trainer's friends.

"So you three decide to stand alongside this blight upon the Earth? Fine. We shall dispose of you as well, as per Father's vision for a pure worl…" The man froze upon realizing he was only looking at two people, Bunny and Olivia. Nekou was gone. "There were three of you before, and nobody escaped…"

"That's because you dumb shits only think in two dimensions!"

The ceiling. None of the three protestors had been paying attention to Matt's friends or the rafters above their heads, so it was perhaps inevitable that Nekou got up there without being noticed. She dropped down, driving the heels of her boots into the shoulders of the man who had remained silent throughout the incident. Instantly sent into a state of shock by the twin wounds he received, he collapsed onto the floor. Without hesitation Nekou turned to the woman, who simply stared at her with blank eyes, and struck her with a forceful right hook to the face.

Two of her opponents were already knocked out, and Nekou was confident in her chances. At least, she was until the leader of the protestors smashed a chair into her upper back, sending her to the floor herself.

"Nekou!" Matt screamed, horrified at the brutality of the scene unfolding before his eyes and the seeming finality of Nekou's fate. Olivia and Bunny shared in his terror, though they remained silent.

"So that was her name?" the man said, slowly turning back to Matt. "It's a shame that a good collection of DNA had to go to waste like that. But, I'm done playing games. It's about time the mission is fulfilled once and for…"

"Shut the fuck up!"

A sharp, piercing pain penetrated through the man's back, sending shockwaves through his whole body. While gasping for labored breath, he managed to tilt his head around enough to see Nekou standing behind him, apparently unharmed from his assault. He could only stare at her in sickened surprise with wide eyes until she pulled the knife out of his shuddering body, allowing him to fall like his goons.

"I'm someone who likes what she has…" Nekou screeched, towering over the three unconscious protestors with the manner of a deadly predator. "…and if you threaten even one of the things I have, then I'll fuck you up! I'll beat you senseless!"

"Nekou, calm down!" Matt had jumped down from the stage once the danger was over and was now approaching the mess Nekou had made. "Did you kill this guy?" he asked, pointing to the protestor that Nekou stabbed.

"No, I stabbed him where he'll lose just enough blood to pass out for a while. If there's one thing I know it's where to hit to get the results I want."

"That was awesome, seriously!" beamed Olivia, who had rushed over and begun pulling on Nekou's leg. "I want to be like you!"

"Okay, that's enough," Matt interrupted. "Having one each of the two of you around is hard enough. I don't need you becoming like each other."

"What the hell happened in here?" Foster and Baker, along with their Throh and Sawk, had appeared in the doorway. Foster made his way in first. "Captain Everton told us to come down here and check out the racket in this room and we find this?"

"One of you better explain this!" Baker threatened.

"Well, they interrupted the speech," Bunny attempted to explain, "and then they tried to attack Matt, and... it was just a mess."

"Whatever," sighed the blue-haired guard, giving up hope of finding any answers. "We'll just check the security recording. Get out of here so we can clean this mess up and send these three over to the cops."

"Fine," Matt agreed. He turned to Nekou, Olivia and Bunny and said, "I didn't want to stay here much longer anyway. Let's get going."

-:-

"As you can see… a very shocking scene has unfolded at Everton International during Matt Chiaki's energy speech. Protestors from a group calling itself Polaris disrupted the presentation and… made an attempt on Matt Chiaki's life, but as you can see, they have been thwarted, rather bloodily…"

Giovanni gulped down the last of his wine and slammed the glass down on the table next to his couch, causing Stacia to jump in her nervousness.

"Polaris… I was suspicious that something was going on, but I didn't think it would involve them. Stacia, contact Dr. Zager and bring him up to speed on these developments. It appears things are happening at a faster pace than we expected."

"Yes, right away, sir."

-:-

The doors of the elevator opened, allowing Matt, Nekou, Olivia and Bunny out into the lobby of the Everton building. Some of the people who were in the lobby from earlier had since left, so it was much less busy than it was before.

Olivia abruptly got in front of the group and cheerfully demanded, "let's take pictures! If we take pictures of each other here, we'll always remember our trip!"

"Awfully odd to want to remember a trip where one of us almost got murdered, isn't it?"

"Don't be a party pooper, Bunny," Nekou laughed. "You've got the right idea, Olivia. Get over there and I'll take your picture."

Complying, Olivia ran over to the video screens embedded in the wall and waited for Nekou to take out her phone. However, as soon as she got it out, the receptionist jumped out of her chair.

"Put that away right now! No taking pictures on Mr. Everton's property!"

Nekou groaned. "Man, fuck this," she mumbled under her breath as she put her phone away.

"Welcome to Everton International headquarters at One Everton Plaza, Whitegold City," intoned a female voice from the video screens.

Olivia and Nekou both turned to the screen as they were both intrigued by what it was going to cover, so Matt and Bunny decided to watch it as well. It shuffled through a montage of images as the narration continued.

"Everton International is a company with a distinguished history. Founded in 1728 as a shipping service for tea, the company has remained in the Everton family for seven generations. As time has passed, Everton International has expanded into a multinational conglomerate enveloping fields from land, sea and air shipping, investment banking, and its flagship division, oil exploration and development. We are proud to remain at the forefront of every necessity in your daily life.

Such prosperity would only be possible under the banner of a strong leader, and the wings of our current president have lifted us higher and higher. Having taken up the position of president in 1982 from his father, Captain Liam Everton has guided Everton International to untold levels of success. Known for his highly ambitious nature and skill in discerning good investments, Liam Everton's leadership has lead to an exponentially rewarding era for those invested with the company's banking services, while bringing new oil technologies to market.

We here at Everton International hope that through continued providing of our services, we can continue to guide your lives to great success."

The video faded and then started to repeat, so Matt and the others looked away. "Are we done here now?" he asked with clear irritation.

"Boy, you're being crabby," Nekou pointed out in a half-joking manner. "What bug is up your ass?"

"Did you forget that I was just almost killed up there?"

It almost seemed as if that fact didn't even faze Nekou at all, judging from how indifferent her reaction was. "So? Calm down. It's not like you actually did die."

"But if I was dead, then…" Thoroughly befuddled by Nekou's bizarre logic, Matt decided to simply drop the subject. "Let's go."

With Matt taking the lead, the group collectively headed for the glass double doors that led out of the tower. The doors were surrounded by more glass, turning the front of the building into a giant window.

When the doors sensed Matt was nearby, they glided open to allow him, Olivia, Bunny and Nekou out. The four passed through, and then the gates slid shut.

Before they could take even more than a few steps out into the square in front of the Everton building, however, trouble once again found them. It was the hooded reporter with the Cinccino. She had been quietly watching the speech earlier in the room but had fled when the protestors attacked.

"Mr. Chiaki, please, a moment of your time?" Even though she was issuing a request, the reporter got in Matt's face anyway, not allowing him a real choice of what to answer. "What can you tell me about the Dreamyarn Inceptor?"

"Dreamyarn Inceptor?" Matt repeated in confusion while his friends lined up behind him. "Listen, lady, I don't know what you're talking about."

"But with your association with Liam Everton, shouldn't you know what he's working on? The public should know what Everton is up to in there!"

"I agree with you on that. The public does have the right to know what their industrial leaders are planning for them. That said, I don't work for Everton. My speech was merely on technology that may be subcontracted through Everton International."

"You… don't work for him?" The woman seemed genuinely surprised. She hadn't really thought over her background information on Matt, so in her haste she didn't realize that his association with Everton was merely a casual one. "I'm sorry, please forgive me."

"It's fine," Bunny chimed in. "But could you tell us what's going on?"

"I'm investigating Liam Everton and Everton International," explained the reporter. "After I finished my investigation of the Kodai Network Group in Unova, I discovered that Liam Everton was majority shareholder. Shortly after Grings Kodai went to prison, Liam Everton completely bought out the group and thus gained control of all of Kodai's inventions and research. Something about that just seemed so suspicious to me, so I've been on Everton's trail ever since. The one big thing I've discovered is that he was financing clandestine research at a laboratory known as the Dreamyard Lab in Unova. At that lab the scientists were studying the Pokémon Musharna, trying to see if they could harness the dreams it collects as an energy source."

"So what happened?" Olivia asked, completely enthralled by the story.

"There was an accident and the Dreamyard Lab melted down. Many of the researchers were killed in the blast. The head of the lab, a woman known as Dr. Fennel, survived, however. She lived in Striaton City for a while, but some time ago, she simply disappeared. I managed to get a hold of some of her research notes and through them, I discovered that they were developing a device called the Dreamyarn Inceptor to harness Musharna's powers. When I obtained a copy of the financial report for Everton International's last fiscal year, I found that 'DI DEV' was an item on the ledger."

"Dreamyarn Inceptor development," Nekou correctly guessed.

"Precisely. Liam Everton has reactivated development of the Dreamyarn Inceptor in this city and is planning something that gives me an ominous feeling. Listen, let's sit down and talk at the Balise Park Sports Bar tomorrow, late morning. I'm going to need your help."

"I promised I'd take Olivia to the festival tomorrow…"

"It's okay, Matt," the girl piped up, not losing her cheer. "We'll go to the festival after talking to her."

"Thank you for your generosity, Mr. Chiaki. It's very important that I find what I'm after before Everton's plans come to fruition."

-:-

Somewhere else in the city, in a dark underground room, a spark of light came to life. The coldness of the stone chamber was warmed by the fire surrounding a tiny, pale-yellow bodied foxlike Pokémon with large, pointy ears forming a red 'V' shape.

"…tini…" it said sadly, fluttering the wings attached to the backs of its legs as it stumbled forward. "Victini…"

Suddenly, a much brighter, blue light appeared in the room, reflecting vividly in Victini's large blue eyes. From the flash of light emerged the Legendary Pokémon Cresselia, the purple-and-yellow swan Pokémon known as the dispeller of evil dreams. Her glittering wings hung around her body like veils, and her light continued to shine on Victini as the smaller Pokémon grew excited.

"Tiniii! Victini, vic victini!"

Cresselia smiled lightly when Victini hugged her chest. Clearly, the two had a strong bond, and Victini disliked being apart from Cresselia. Even with no human words exchanged between them, the power of their connection could not be denied.

-:-

Darkrai hated the collar Everton forced it to wear. The device was uncomfortable and far too tight on its body, but Darkrai could do nothing about it. With no options and no way to escape, it could only circle around the perimeter of its cage nervously, like it had been doing for hours.

"Darkrai!"

It froze when Everton's voice boomed through the dank interior of the warehouse. The source was a video screen positioned not far from the cage, and Darkrai turned slowly to face it in anger.

"I see you're doing well, Darkrai," Everton taunted, the video screen showing him sitting at his desk in his office. "Listen well. Your mission is about to begin. When I release you into Whitegold City, you are to attack as many Pokémon as possible and put them to sleep. Continue doing that until Cresselia, your hated enemy, is drawn out. At that point, you are to fight Cresselia and do nothing more. Lest I remind you… if you disobey me at any time, that collar you're wearing will enable me to punish you. Am I understood?"

Darkrai simply glared at the screen. It, of course, could not answer in the way that Everton spoke to it, but the silence was enough of a response. Out of view of the screen, Everton pressed a button on his desk, opening up the cage on all sides but one.

"Now, go, Darkrai! Fulfill your purpose and bait forth Cresselia from the shadows!"

For a moment, Darkrai continued to stare at Everton, and Everton stared back. Finally, though, Darkrai backed down and cooperated, feeling there was no hope in trying to resist the captain's orders. It emerged from the opened cage and floated several feet forward before sinking into the shadows on the ground.

-:-

In his office, Everton closed the link to the warehouse from his computer, then pushed his chair back and rose from it. He calmly walked to the window, from where he could see the entirety of Whitegold City.

"Ah yes, Whitegold City," he said out loud, the lights from the metropolitan area glistening in his monocle and casting shadows across his aged face. "The place where the men of the Everton family made their fortunes. Tomorrow… everything will change."

-:-

Matt and his friends decided to seek lodging outside of the most heavily developed areas of the city, and thus found their way to a busy but less modern section not far from where they were. The buildings in this part of the city were closely packed and relatively small, but all were accented with elegantly-circling railings as well as being two stories tall.

Some hours earlier, right after leaving the Everton building, the group found a rather humble, cozy inn on a street corner in this neighborhood. Matt, Olivia and Bunny, now all dressed in more casual clothing, were sitting at a table in the bar area on the first floor and talking. The only other patrons present were two men playing darts on the other side of the room.

"Matt, you're sure you're doing alright?" Bunny was quite concerned over his well being. He had been acting unusually standoffish after the incident at the speech, and she knew that when he got like this, it meant something was wrong. "I'm worried about you…"

"Don't be. I'm only upset because someone disrupted what I worked so hard for so many years to achieve. ALEA may never be successful now because of what those three did."

"You shouldn't say that! Look at how much work you put into it, just like you said just now. You need to really believe in yourself and your invention. It could very well be the next evolution in global energy, just like you said in your speech. Look how good it did in Snowpoint City."

"You're right," Matt replied, his expression brightening slightly. "Thank you for being my friend, Bunny."

"Hey, you two, stop flirting for a minute and look at this!" Olivia had been looking through several brochures she'd collected from a stand in the inn, and judging from how enthusiastically she'd interrupted, there was something that got her very excited. "According to this, the festival is to celebrate the Legendary Pokémon Cresselia and Victini, and there will be a big party with floats and performers!"

"That must be where Butler is going to perform," Matt observed while rubbing his chin. "But Victini and Cresselia, huh? I wonder what the story behind them is. I've never even seen a Victini."

"So you kids want to know the story of Victini and Cresselia?" The elderly woman who tended the bar had overheard their conversation and walked over to the group's table.

"Oh, we don't want to inconvenience you, sorry." Bunny tried to laugh her off, as the woman had been cleaning glasses before coming over, and Bunny genuinely didn't want to disturb her. "I'm sure we'll find out tomorrow."

"Why wait?" the woman chuckled. "You're not bothering me. I've been in this town my whole life, and I've seen the place grow from a humble little outpost to the city you see today, so I know the stories from around here. You see, fifty years ago, Cresselia appeared in the city and drove out its hated enemy, Darkrai. It was at that point that Victini also appeared in the city, and everyone's fortunes changed. The nightmares created by Darkrai disappeared, and our atmosphere, which was stricken by wild inconsistency before, was stabilized by Victini's heat. Since then, the festival has been held every year to commemorate Cresselia and Victini changing the city's fortunes." Setting an old, worn book on the table, she continued, "Have a look at this. It's a log kept by Liam Everton's grandfather, Captain Becket Everton, during his travels throughout the world. In it, he recorded what he learned about various Legendary Pokémon in

the lands he visited. Have fun."

The woman could barely turn from the table before Matt had his hands on the book. He opened it and quickly thumbed through the aged pages, looking for Pokémon he didn't recognize or know well. Before long, he found one. On the page was a detailed painting of a majestic white dragon Pokémon with grand plumage on its wings and body, and two flowing locks streaming from its head. Its tail, which was also white, was in the shape of a torch. In fact, practically the only things not white in the Pokémon's entire appearance were its stark blue eyes.

"Reshiram," Matt read aloud. "This beast is written in the legends of Unova, where it is described as the Vast White Pokémon. In ancient times, Reshiram was wielded by the Hero of Truth, a prince who believed that truths were the strongest of all values. Fittingly, Reshiram's fires burn to reveal the truth that its allies seek to learn. Using this power, the Hero of Truth did battle with his brother, the Hero of Ideals, and his Zekrom. After a cataclysmic battle, Reshiram and Zekrom went into dormant states and were hidden away somewhere forever."

"I wonder what that means, exactly?" Olivia wondered. "A fire that burns to reveal the truth? I don't understand it at all."

Matt was silent. The potential of this journal's information was not lost on him, nor was the meaning of what it revealed. If Reshiram was a Pokémon that could reveal truth, gaining that power would allow him to finally resolve all of his guilt and regrets, especially over the death of Eleanor, a young woman who he'd fallen for on a previous adventure but lost just as quickly as he gained. He was searching for the answers behind a mysterious group called the Guild, which he had questioned Giovanni about the previous day, and also the answer to who initiated a quest for an item in the kingdom of La Ciudad Dorada known as the Griseous Orb. Reshiram's truth-revealing fire could theoretically guide him to both of these things.

Turning the page, Matt found what he was looking for. A picture of Victini was on this page, depicting the Pokémon with swirling frames around its body. It was accompanied by text just as Reshiram's picture was.

"Victini is the most inspiring Pokémon I have ever found, and that is why I am honored to have it as my partner aboard my ship. The warmth radiating from Victini… it is Victini's power, the Victory Star. The power to find any single victory so desired by the power's user. Oh Victory Star, shine the light on the path I must take to my dreams. Victini, turn my road into one of fortune…"

"That's a cool story," Olivia chimed in. "What if we could meet Victini? What would your one victory be?"

Though Olivia's question was not directed at her, Bunny answered anyway. "I'd want to make the greatest discovery in archeological history. Maybe it's a story we don't know about yet, or maybe we do know already. Either way, I would want to be able to make that find."

"Well, it's not too hard to guess what mine would be. I would use Victini's Victory Star to find out where my dad is."

The moment those words left Olivia's mouth, Matt froze up in horror. This one subject, the one he had spent the past five years trying to avoid having to confront, had come up again. Just prior to his death five years earlier, Olivia's father Rich had given Matt a document entrusting him with her care. Olivia had never learned the truth, partially because Matt was simply too afraid to tell her that her beloved father was gone, and as a result she presently believed that he had abandoned her. The fact that she was continually trying to force the issue wasn't helping in the least.

In order to avoid the touchy subject continuing forward, Matt coughed, then called out to the innkeeper, "May I keep this book? It may be quite useful for me to accomplish my goals."

"Sure, I don't care. I ain't got any use for it. Just make sure you take good care of it, because Becket Everton gave it to me personally."

"Thank you!" Turning back to Olivia and Bunny, Matt clasped his hands and rested his chin on them, then wondered, "I wonder where Nekou flaked out to?"

-:-

Driving down the glistening waters outside the urban area of the city was a large and elegant riverboat, providing an ivory-and-gold accent against the black water.

This wasn't just a leisure cruise, though. It was a casino boat, and Nekou was right there in the middle of all its patrons partaking in the pleasures it offered. She was sitting at a slot machine with a bottle of beer in one hand and Zorua in her lap. Visibly drunk, she was using her free hand to submit credits and pull its handle to send the multicolored tumblers spinning. Finally, Marie was perched atop the machine and looking down at the wheels, fascinated by the rainbow blurs they frequently became.

Nekou was doing moderately well, having made a few hundred credits in total from where she had started. Between her gambling and drinking, along with taking care of Marie and Zorua, she was content.

"Excuse me, young lady, might I have a moment?"

Interrupted from the bubble she'd placed herself in, Nekou turned around in her chair, discovering an older man in his sixties standing behind her. His brown suit had a somewhat low-cut neckline, revealing his collarbones and the upper part of the blue tie sloppily wrapped around his neck. Despite his age, though, his hair was still black, albeit thinning. An eyepatch of similar black coloring wrapped around his head and covered his left eye.

"Who're you, dude?" Nekou's speech was somewhat slurred from her drunken state. However, she was still lucid and coherent.

"I'd like to invite you to the card game I'm going to play with some of my friends. The name's Woods."

"Well I'll tell you, Woods… sure, let me get my things."

Zorua jumped onto Nekou's head as she stood, quickly being joined by Marie. Nekou only hesitated to hit the cash-out button on the slot machine so she could collect a ticket showing her final score.

Woods guided her across the casino to a blackjack table situated next to a window. While the slot machines had been on a tiled section of the floor, the card tables were on short red carpet instead. The casino was dimly lit with lamps mounted on the cream-colored walls, providing a warm atmosphere.

Three other men were already sitting at the table. They were all about Woods's age give or take a few years, and seemed to be eagerly awaiting the start of the game.

"You're late, Woods!" one of them blurted out upon seeing their friend. The scent of alcohol around the table was strong, explaining the three and their overly outgoing moods. "I've been looking forward to trying to beat you this time!"

"Quite a lady you've got on your arm tonight," another of the men said, gesturing to Nekou. "She's gotta be one of your finest scores."

"Finest scores? You picked me up just for eye candy?" Nekou's mood instantly changed when she understood what exactly Woods wanted her for, and she blushed furiously. "Man, fuck this! I can't believe you interrupted my game for this!"

"Please, I'm sorry... how about I make it up to you?" Woods offered.

"The rules don't work that way!" she shot back, blushing so forcefully that her face was bright red. "Who ever said you get the chance to make deals with me? That's none of your business!" Some other casino patrons were beginning to overhear the scene and begin staring. "This is all just such a big fucking insult… but… but… I guess I will hear you out. You've got thirty seconds."

"How about joining our game?"

That prospect instantly reverted Nekou back into her normal mood. "Challenge accepted, old man," she taunted as she sat down at the table. "Shuffle up and get ready for an asskicking."

"Just so you know," the third man said, "Woods is the best card player in this entire city. None of us have ever beaten him, and we've played every week for years."

"Doesn't mean a damn thing. Let's play."

-:-

The marshlands of Whitegold City were an unsettling place to be at night. Besides a few sounds from the nature around them, they were largely silent and abandoned.

One of the few pronounced noises in the marsh was the croaking of the Pokémon Seismitoad, which was generated not only with his mouth but the black-and-cream bumps all over his lumpy, uneven blue body. He was sitting on the banks of the marsh with a group of his previous evolutionary forums, Tympole and Palpitoad, surrounding him. The former was little more than a tan face on a ball-shaped black body with a tail and a blue bump on each side, while the latter had feet to stand upright, a third bump on its forehead, and a ring of smaller, pale bumps around its midsection.

This peaceful scene was disrupted when Darkrai emerged from the shadows of the marsh, startling the group of Pokémon. The Tympole and Palpitoad immediately jumped back in the water, acting quite skittishly, but Seismitoad stayed, intending to defend his home. He sprang into the air with his right arm cocked back, intending to hit Darkrai with Drain Punch, however, Darkrai dodged the attack by simply floating out of the way.

When Darkrai drifted down over the marsh bank, it suddenly got shocked by an electric blast coming from seemingly nowhere. Hidden in the mud was the flatfish Pokémon Stunfisk, which laughed as she deactivated her camouflage, revealing her brown body and yellow tail.

Angered by this sneak attack, Darkrai unleashed one of its strongest attacks, Dark Pulse. The blast of black-colored energy rings caused an explosion that flung the badly injured Stunfisk into the air, tossing her back in the water. Before Darkrai even had time to be proud of its work, though, Seismitoad burst up from the marsh in a second ambush, with his Drain Punch connecting this time.

Even though Drain Punch was super-effective typewise as a Fighting-type move, Darkrai shook it off easily. As a counterattack it brought its hands together to form an orb of darkness, which it threw at Seismitoad. After being engulfed in the Dark Void for a moment, the attack faded and Seismitoad fell into the water, fast asleep.

With Seismitoad defeated, Darkrai scanned the surrounding area. No other Pokémon were immediately present, so it flew off in search of more targets, just as Everton had ordered.

-:-

"I've never been pushed this far," Woods gasped. "I guess now it's all or nothing."

A crowd had gathered around the blackjack table as Woods pushed the final few chips he had left into the betting circle. His friends had been beaten in swift fashion, but Nekou's stack was vastly larger than his. Without a word, Nekou tossed a few chips into her own betting circle, and the dealer handed the players their cards on the green felt.

Woods had a seven of hearts and three of clubs, while Nekou had the ace and nine of spades. The dealer's face-up card was the ace of diamonds.

"Insurance?" she dutifully asked, being greeted by refusals from both remaining players. She then peeked at her face-down card, and, discovering it was not a card that would give her twenty-one, turned to Woods for his action.

"Hit, please."

"Hit." Another card was dealt to Woods – the nine of hearts, giving him a total of nineteen. "Hit or stand?"

"Stand."

"Stand. Nekou?"

Nekou looked down on her cards and thought carefully for a second. Despite being drunk and still drinking, her thoughts were becoming clearer, not cloudy. "Hit me."

An audible gasp went up among the gathered crowd when the next card came out – another ace, this one of clubs. Counting it as eleven, Nekou now had a twenty-one.

With no more action to be taken, the dealer turned over her hole card. It was the nine of diamonds, giving her twenty. Immediately, the room went silent, as the dealer's hand fell just over Woods's hand but just under Nekou's, meaning she won while he lost, and he had no chips left. Moments later, cheering broke out. No one that night expected the city's best gambler to lose.

"Impossible…" the old gambler gasped, staring down at the cards on the table. "I can't have…"

"Well you did lose," Nekou said smugly. "Still think I'm just eye candy?"

"No, not at all," Woods replied while shaking his head and smiling. "It's like the luck of Victini's Victory Star was bestowed upon you."

"Victini? Victory Star? What are you on now?"

"Victini is a Pokémon that has the power to bring victory. They say that if you make a contract with Victini, you will be given the Victory Star, the power to find the victory you desire most. Someone like you, though… you make your own luck. I'm impressed a young woman like yourself is so successful."

"Don't get too jealous. Not everyone can do what I did."

-:-

Early the next day, the group headed back to Balise Park to seek out the sports bar where they were to meet the female reporter. At some point during the night, Nekou had made it back to the inn somehow, and was found by her friends in a discombobulated mess on the couch, snoring loudly. They let her sleep for as long as they could before waking her up around ten. As well, they also decided to keep their formal clothing from the speech for the day.

Matt was thankful that the reporter was waiting for his group at the door of the sports bar, a fact that enabled them to head right for a table.

Almost immediately, Nekou beckoned a waiter and demanded, "I want some beer and a plate of hot wings!"

"Right away, miss," the waiter responded. He turned and walked off, his shoes banging loudly on the wooden floor as he made his way behind the bar, made of a similar darkened, finished material.

"More beer already?" Matt said incredulously, unable to believe she could drink any more. "I find it hard to believe you can actually down more beer after how much you must have had last night."

"Shut up. Everyone knows the best way to come off a night of heavy drinking is one more beer and a huge plate of hot wings."

"You're my hero," Olivia chimed in.

Unable to deal with the escalating rapport between Nekou and Olivia, which he viewed as an extremely negative influence on the latter, Matt lowered his head to the table, causing the white fedora he was now wearing with his suit to fall off.

Amused, the reporter chuckled. "She's quite the energetic girl. You're lucky to have her. I can sympathize… my son's a handful at times himself."

"She isn't my daught… oh wait, you know that already." With the conversation started, Matt lifted his head and put his hat back on. He hesitated to speak for a moment, as Nekou's beer and hot wings arrived, but when he did say something, he had to raise his voice somewhat to be heard over the televisions in the bar. The background noise was more coverage of the upcoming Pokémon Bowl. "I don't think we've formally met. You know I'm Matt Chiaki and my student here is Olivia Mistbloom, but I'd like you to meet my friend Bunny…" Bunny nodded when she was mentioned, "…and this one over here is Nekou Langley. She's my bodyguard or something, or at least she thinks she is. I don't have a clue."

"Shove it," Nekou argued while sloppily stuffing the wings in her mouth. "It's not like I saved you from some murderous goons yesterday, right?"

"Well…" Matt did his best to ignore Nekou's insults, but he did look rattled. "…collectively, this is my bizarre little group that I call the Triad of Revenge. We seek the truth behind mysteries that have harmed peoples' lives."

"A noble goal. Now allow me to introduce myself…" The woman removed her glasses and took off her hood, revealing her purple eyes and flowing black hair. Her Cinccino jumped up on her shoulder to join her. "Undercover reporter Rowena Byrne, at your service."

"The same Rowena Byrne who brought down Grings Kodai from the inside?" In his surprise, Matt had leaned back in his chair with his one good eye widened. A number of thoughts ran through his head, and he wasn't sure how to sort them out. "I guess I'm honored to meet you, because I bought your book five years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly, but…"

"I bought your book too," Bunny added without prompting. "Good work on it. I have to say, though, I'm surprised you're here right now, being a single mother with a young son and all…"

"I live my life according to my own rules, so my son has everything he needs more than sorted out. I don't need anyone to be concerned for me."

"I get an ominous feeling," Matt said lowly, trying to guide the conversation back on track. "If you're here… someone like you, who accomplished so much in the battle against a corrupt executive once before… well, I guess what I'm trying to say is, if someone like you with a reputation as a muckraker who publishes explosive stories is here, something big is happening, isn't it?"

"You have a good head on your shoulders," Rowena complimented, albeit remaining deadly serious. "I'll lay all my cards on the table and be honest with you up front, because I'm going to need your help. After we took down Grings Kodai, I had access to all the records and files of the Kodai Network Group, the corporation he was the president and CEO of. Most of the documents simply covered Kodai's various technological investments and advancements, but eventually, I got to the financial records. Contained within those records was the information on the board of shareholders of the company. It turned out that the majority shareholder, holding seventy-five percent of the total shares available at the time Kodai was arrested, was Liam Everton."

Matt and Bunny reacted with visible surprise upon hearing this revelation, while Nekou even stopped eating for a moment. It wasn't actually new news that Everton was the majority shareholder in the Kodai Network Group, especially being that Rowena had told them this just the day before, but none of them expected to learn that he actually controlled that much of a share in the company.

Rowena continued, "After Kodai was arrested, his assets were seized and liquidated by the Unova government. The collapse of such a giant corporation could have sent shock waves through the entire global market, so Liam Everton stepped in and bought out all the remaining shares, essentially taking over the assets of the Kodai Network Group. That included all of Kodai's old inventions and innovations. And as I told you yesterday, I have discovered proof that he funded clandestine research at the Dreamyard Lab. With all of that, combined with the disappearance of Dr. Fennel, I have reason to believe that Liam Everton is up to something very sinister that is quickly coming to a head."

"That's all some very alarming information," Matt said pensively while leaning into his clasped hands. "What can we do about it?"

"There will be a lot of additional publicity focused on this city for the next couple of days because of the festival and Pokémon Bowl. We must use this opportunity to discover the truth about whatever it is Everton is planning and expose it to the world before it's too late. I have a source with some connections to Everton International on his way here to speak with us."

Olivia's Minccino suddenly appeared on the table; Olivia had let her out in order to feed her some hot wings that Nekou shared, only for Minccino to dislike the taste and leap up to get away. When she saw Rowena's Cinccino, she went up to her evolved form and sniffed nervously. Cinccino responded positively and jumped down from Rowena's shoulder, beckoning Minccino to play with her on the floor.

"Ah, Rowena, there you are!"

While the two Normal-type Pokémon ran around after each other near the table, soon being joined by Marie and Zorua, Woods approached at a brisk clip from behind Rowena. The moment Nekou saw him, she nearly choked on the chicken in her mouth.

"You!" she exclaimed. "You're that guy whose ass I kicked at blackjack last night! Why are you here?"

Woods was equally surprised to see Nekou. "I should have figured you'd still be in town, but I didn't think you'd be on your feet after how much beer you drank last night."

"Don't bother," Matt warned. "I've already tried to get through to her. She just keeps drinking and it doesn't even seem to affect her that much."

"I guess some of you have already met, then," Rowena narrated. "But for formal introductions, Matt, Nekou, Bunny, Olivia, allow me to introduce you to Woods, my source. Woods, these four are travelers who seek truth. They're going to help me on my report on Everton."

"I see," Woods said as he sat down at the table. "I'll be of whatever help I can be. You see, I used to work for Everton International a long time ago. I have no idea how things are now but I was there for many years."

"What can you tell us about what Everton actually is after?"

"Matt, was it? Matt, I'm sorry, but all I can offer is that it involves Victini somehow."

"Isn't Victini just a legend?" both Matt and Nekou said simultaneously, prompting a coordinated gasp from both of them.

"No. Victini may be written in the folklore of this city, but it is real. Victini is very real. I have seen it with my own eyes. Now, this is just a hypothesis, but I think he may be planning to use Victini's Victory Star to discover untapped sources of oil, so that the world does not run out. He may have shady methods but he really means well, I think."

"I see." Matt did not change his contemplative pose. "What is the Victory Star exactly?"

"And how exactly does it work?" Nekou added. "The boat docked before you really had a chance to tell me the details!"

"I'll answer both of you. The Victory Star is the tale behind Victini's legendary reputation in the first place. It is the power to see the path to any one single victory, granted by special fire flowing into the chosen bearer's body. However, it requires a contract to be made with Victini in order for the power to be obtained. What that contract entails, what its conditions are, I don't know. What I do know is that the Victory Star will only work for the victory desired when the contract is made. As I described, it shows the path to a single desired victory, so if Everton could obtain its power, he could search for new oil fields with no challenges whatsoever. That's a goal I could get behind."

"So Everton is not a bad guy?" Olivia wondered, fading into the conversation.

"We don't know yet," Rowena clarified. "He may be, or he may not be. We just can't say yet. What we do know is that he has been acting extremely suspiciously, and that has to be investigated."

"Rowena, what should we do now?"

"Bunny, for now, just go to the festival and have a good time. I'll be in touch if I learn anything."

Olivia suddenly realized something and stared back at Woods. "Mr. Woods, you said you've seen Victini, didn't you? Would you be able to take us to see Victini?"

"I can't make any promises, little girl. Come by my home later and we can discuss it. I live out on the shores of the marshland on the other side of town. I can't promise that I can bring you to Victini, but I do have an idea where it might be."

"Awesome! Thanks!"

"Oh, Matt…" Rowena had clearly remembered something, and from the sudden redoubling of her seriousness, it was important. "If you see any pink clouds, stay away from them."

"Pink clouds? What are you talking about?"

"There's a strange sickness going around in Pokémon in the city right now. Several people I've spoken to have reported seeing strange pink clouds appear, and when their Pokémon were exposed to the substance, they fell into a trance-like state. Everton has tried to quarantine the areas of the city where the outbreaks are."

"I guess we'll watch out for them, then. Thanks for the warning."

-:-

Shortly after that, the group split from Rowena, who went off to do some more investigating elsewhere, and Woods, who returned to his marshland home. As the festival was taking place in the same area as where their inn was located, the foursome went back there.

Even in the relatively short time they were gone, the activity level in the streets had increased greatly. People were everywhere, crowding around colorful floats, street performers, shops and other varied forms of entertainment. All the colors rising up from the festive settings casted a fascinating contrast against the gray, cloudy sky that day.

"Ohhh! Look at it all!" With wide, excited eyes, Olivia looked around at all the things surrounding her. She could see a float with two Bellossom dancing alongside two Lilligant, a Grass-type with the appearance of a young woman wearing a green skirt and a giant, crown-topped flower in her hair. "Over here! Let's go!"

Olivia rushed off into the crowd, leaving Matt, Nekou and Bunny to pursue her. Their shoes loudly banged against the stones of the street while they pushed their way through in their attempts to follow Olivia, but it was hopeless, as the girl had built up far too much of a distance.

Perhaps luckily for them though, something else diverted Olivia's attention, and she never made it to the Bellossom and Lilligant float. They found her stopped at a merchandise cart on the street, one that was overflowing with colorful goods related to the festival.

"Good morning, young lady," the elderly man operating the cart said to Olivia. "Do you see anything you like?"

He could have been addressing the question to any of the four, though, as Olivia was not the only one taken by all of the merchandise available to purchase. Dolls were piled high in the middle of the cart, while jewelry hung on racks attached to one side and fabric goods rested on the other. Matt, Bunny and Nekou all found themselves wanting something from the selection, especially Nekou.

"I'll take a Cresselia plushie, please!" Olivia decided after a moment of contemplation.

"Could you add one of those Cresselia hair pins?" Bunny asked, pointing out a hair pin shaped like Cresselia's head.

"I'd like that Victini keychain for my bag," Matt added.

"Boy, I haven't done this much business in a long time!" chuckled the old man as he gathered up the purchases ordered by his customers. "I owe you a lot of thanks!"

Matt turned to Nekou out of reflex just then, and noticed her standing in tense silence with her fist clenched. "What's wrong?" he asked, surprised by her mood.

"I want a lot of this stuff, but I can't have it."

"Of course you can. I'm not…" Matt stopped himself from talking when the true meaning of Nekou's words came through on him. It wasn't that anyone was telling her not to get the things she wanted, she couldn't afford it. That was why she couldn't have them. "I'm paying for everyone else's, so why don't I pay for yours too?"

Immediately, Nekou blushed profusely and pulled away, but she answered, "Fine, if you want."

"It's not a big deal. Just pick out what you want me to get you."

"I… I want one of those big Victini dolls, first… then this blanket…"

After the oversized Victini plush, Nekou pointed out a long, thick blue blanket that had purple-and-black bands just before its ragged ends. The cart's owner smiled as he put it in the huge plastic bag all the merchandise they were purchasing was going into.

"That's a good choice," he said. "It's based on ancestral designs of the people who first settled this city."

"It looks comfortable, that's all that's important right now," Nekou countered, though she was interested in the idea of the blanket being a cultural design. "I want that phone charm too," she added while pointing to a charm of Victini flashing its victory symbol. "And… I want that necklace! That one right there!"

The necklace in question was one of an eight-pointed star, constructed by two overlaying four-point stars, on a long brown string. In the star the four diagonal points were laid on top of the four straight points, and the two upper diagonal sections along with the middle were colored red to create a 'V' shape. Meanwhile, the lower diagonal portions were light blue, while the four straight sections were dark purple.

"You like that necklace? Let me tell you, that thing is the Victory Star."

"So that's what the Victory Star looks like?" Bunny questioned.

"Indeed," the man said with a nod. "An eight-pointed star that guides its owner to victory. Finding victory is such an important power that sailing compasses were designed based on the Victory Star thousands of years ago."

"The eight directions, right?" Olivia ventured, albeit stating the obvious.

"Exactly. I'll tell you what, you four have been more than generous as customers, so I'll throw in the necklace for free."

"Thank you!" Nekou exclaimed, grabbing for the necklace without a hesitation. She immediately put it on and held the Victory Star on the necklace in her hands for a moment before letting it fall into the upper part of her cleavage.

"Wow, you really love that thing, don't you?"

Once again, Nekou recoiled from Matt. "It's mine! Hands off!"

"I don't want it. Don't worry." Turning around to the old man running the cart, Matt handed off five paper bills as payment for the large assortment of goods his group had purchased. In response the elderly salesman smiled as he handed over their bag.

"Thank you for your business. Have a nice day, all of you."

"You too." Though she was smiling, Bunny stopped in a moment of realization. A logical question she should have asked sooner had just come into mind. "But what are we going to do with all of this stuff now?"

She was surprised to see Matt smile immediately in response to her question. "I already know exactly what to do. Hethna, make your mark!"

Matt threw the Poké Ball into the air, and his Golurk appeared from the light that burst out. While Hethna raised its arms and let out a low rumble of a cry, Matt put the ball away and held up the bag.

"Hethna, come here please. Lean down."

"Goluh." Hethna followed the instruction and leaned forward. The stones of the street cracked slightly under the shifting of its immense weight.

"Thank you." After hooking the bag over the jagged offshoot emerging from Hethna's shoulder, Matt said to it, "Fly to New Bark Town and drop that off at the spa we'll be staying at. Remember I told you about that? Please, take it there."

"Golurgh!" Affirming its mission with a slight nod, Hethna retracted its hands into its arms and legs into its body to create three rockets, which it used to power itself off into the sky.

Staring upward at where Hethna had gone, Olivia skipped a beat and then said, "I love that thing."

"You know, I agree with you," Nekou concurred. "A golem that can fly like a super robot? It's almost too awesome to be serve the person it does."

"Shut up."

Nekou shrugged in response to Matt. "What? I said almost."

"You know what? This day is too exciting for me to let myself get worked up because of your pot stirring. Let's go find something else to do."

Combining their efforts, the four scanned the area for something else that struck their fancy as an activity. The search wasn't easy, partially owing to how many people there were around but also partially due to how far apart the various attractions were.

It was Bunny who finally spotted something. "Hey, look over there! That looks fun!"

It was a wide plastic pool that she was pointing at. Pictures of a small, white fish Pokémon covered the pool's sides, while larger, dark-blue eel Pokémon wrapped around the perimeter in a straight line. Rental fishing poles were lined up for the players of the game to use.

"Excuse me, what's going on here?" Matt asked of the young man running the attraction as he led his group to it.

"This is the Tynamo Fishing game," he explained while nervously adjusting his suspenders. "You rent a fishing pole, then try to reel in a Tynamo so you can battle and capture it. There are even a couple of Eelektrik, Tynamo's evolved form, in there. Want to give it a try?"

"Of course I do!" Olivia declared, pushing herself to the forefront. "I love the water!"

"They're Electric types," Nekou gently informed Olivia, "not Water. They just live in the water."

"Oh. Well, it doesn't matter." After being handed a fishing rod, the girl immediately threw the line into the pool. "My dad loved to go out and fish from his boat. He'd go out on the ocean near Hoenn all the time and…"

Matt was relieved for multiple reasons when Olivia's rambling was interrupted by a tug on her line. He wasn't just glad that she was succeeding. He also did not want to talk about Rich, and if Olivia continued telling of her fond memories, questions he was not ready to answer would inevitably be asked.

One of the tiny white Pokémon emerged when Olivia pulled up her line. "Tynaaaaaaaa!" he cried as he floated in midair like he was swimming.

"So that's a Tynamo! You're kind of cute, so let's go at it! Minccino, let's play!" Once Minccino was sent out, Olivia wasted no time in calling out, "Tail Slap!"

In its typical hyperactive nature, Minccino rushed Tynamo at high speed, jumped up and spun around, hitting the Electric-type a total of four times with her tail. Tynamo suffered immediate and critical damage, and as a result, he fainted and was knocked back into the water.

"Aww!" Olivia sighed in disgust. "I really wanted to capture that Tynamo!"

Suddenly, Matt appeared next to her, also holding a fishing rod. "Now let me show you how it's really done."

"Are they gonna throw down in a fishing argument?" Nekou was utterly titillated by the developing fight she saw coming. "I wish I had a drink to watch this with."

"I hope Matt doesn't overdo this…" Bunny worried.

At the sideline of the fishing pool, Matt dramatically turned from the crowd, faced the pool, and cast his line. He did not say anything while his bait was in the water, but he could feel the eyes of not just the crowd but those of Nekou, Bunny and especially Olivia watching him.

When he felt the pull on his line, he immediately pulled back. One of his first thoughts was how heavy the Pokémon felt for a Tynamo, but indeed, it wasn't a Tynamo at all. She was one of the Eelektrik, the eel that was evolved form of Tynamo with a cream-colored stomach and fins.

"We have a winner, folks!" the game's operator thundered over a loudspeaker. "Everyone look right now! He's going to fight one of the rare Eelektrik!"

In an instant, the other players in the game pulled up their lines and surrounded Matt, who was facing off against the wild Eelektrik with an Ultra Ball in his hand.

"You ought to make for some good training, so let's see what I'll get out of this. Subzero, make your mark!"

Matt threw the Ultra Ball upward, sending out a white bear cub Pokémon with a large mucus drip falling from its nose. This Cubchoo, nicknamed Subzero, growled at his opponent while simultaneously trying to sniff the drop back up.

"Start this off with Ice Beam!"

Subzero sneezed, pushing forth a concentrated stream of ice in the direction of Eelektrik. The water-dwelling Electric-type sprang into the air to dodge, but still got clipped across the back end of her tail, causing her to crash back down to the ground.

"Eeeelek!" Staring right back at Subzero, Eelektrik opened her mouth and shot two bursts of green acid out.

When this Acid Spray attack made contact with Subzero's skin, he began to wail in pain as the liquid burned him. His endurance withered because of the harsh effects the Acid Spray had, reflected in the burns left on his body.

"Try Ice Beam again!" Matt did his best to sound encouraging so Subzero wouldn't be fearful, but he had significant doubts after seeing the unexpected extent of Acid Spray.

With his body weakened, Subzero could only muster up an Ice Beam of about half the strength of the first one. Eelektrik was able to neutralize it with a Thunderbolt, which she then followed with a second that sent high amounts of voltage coursing through Subzero's body, making him scream.

Matt had seen enough. He took the Ultra Ball that Subzero called home back out, intending clearly to call him back. "Subzero, you've done enough. Your body can't handle much more of…"

However, before Matt could do anything, Eelektrik cut across the battlefield at blinding speed to tackle Subzero. The Cubchoo was sent flying and crashed into a nearby wall, then he fell forward to the ground.

"Subzero!"

"Well that was disappointing," Nekou mouthed off to no one in particular. "I thought he'd improved at least a little since yester…"

Not only was Nekou's snark cut off, but every single person watching the battle was left stunned when a bright light erupted around Subzero. He slowly stood back up, then looked to the sky and cried out. His height increased by roughly eight times as his once-tiny limbs became a pair of sturdy legs and a pair of powerful claws. The ever-present mucus drip disappeared, being replaced by a beard of icicles.

"Ti beaaa!" Subzero roared in a deep voice that echoed through the streets, his new body towering over Eelektrik and all humans present.

"An evolution?" Bunny guessed.

"Indeed, that is Beartic, Cubchoo's evolution," Nekou explained, losing her sarcasm for a moment. "Let's see how this plays out, maybe he will create an interesting show for us…"

"It's already incredible!" Olivia couldn't contain her excitement. "Subzero went from being adorable to being a badass! Go for it, Subzero!"

Matt certainly didn't mind the boost of confidence his friends' compliments were giving him. "Now that you've got some real muscle to back it up, use Brick Break!"

Dropping to all fours, Subzero made use of his newly strengthened body to rush Eelektrik. Before the Electric-type could react, he pulled up his right arm and slugged her right in the midsection, causing a great bruise from an impact that sent her into the air.

"And so everything comes together, and the answer becomes clear," Matt lowly said, taking an empty Poké Ball in his hand. "The target is Eelektrik! Go, Poké Ball!"

Just as Eelektrik landed, she was struck by the Poké Ball, which opened and absorbed her in the form of red light. After dropping to the ground, the ball rocked back and forth for several seconds, before the red light on the ball's button turned white and a pinging noise sounded.

Without a word, Matt walked over to the now-sealed ball and picked it up. The eyepiece on his mask opened to reveal his mechanical left eye, with which he scanned the sphere.

"A female Eelektrik… welcome to the team, Charlotte."

"Good job pulling that out," Bunny complimented as the three women returned from the sidelines. "And well done to you too, Subzero."

"Bea, bea," Subzero said in embarrassed gratification.

"You weren't kidding when you said you were going to show me how it was done, were you? I can see why I couldn't catch Tynamo…"

"Don't beat yourself up, Olivia. I would have lost that fight if Subzero didn't evolve."

"You know," Nekou interrupted while smiling sneakily, "I just got why you named that Eelektrik Charlotte. You really had a good name in your head for her."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm sure the readers will figure it out quickly enough. They're not stupid."

"The readers?" Judging by his facial expression, Matt was becoming even more lost, and he was beginning to think that Nekou was deliberately trying to confuse him. "Seriously, Nekou, have you totally lost it?"

"The readers are watching everything you and I do, but fine, I won't bother trying to explain it. I wasn't disappointed in how you did just now, anyway. You might just have a shot at finding some of those truths you spoke of… that is, if you don't get ahead of yourself."

Looking to abate the rising frustration and anger he felt, Matt took a deep breath. "Ordinarily I'd ask someone like you what was with all the head puns, but today I don't think I want to know. It's probably more suffering than it's worth."

"Hey guys, look over there."

Olivia's distraction helped to break up the bizarre dispute between Matt and Nekou, and for that, he was thankful. Nekou, on the other hand, was enjoying it, but she chose not to say anything. Regardless of that, what Olivia was pointing at was the elderly woman who lived on the marsh with her Gothitelle; the two of them were sitting on a street corner at a small stand with a sign reading "Fortune Telling" posted on it. She only had one customer at the present, who just happened to be Katorena.

"Katorena!" Matt called out while he headed toward the stand with his group. "Imagine running into you here!"

"Hmph, so it's the ruffian again, is it?" Unlike the day before, when Katorena leveled insults, it was plain that she was doing it in good spirits now. "I cannot fathom what someone like yourself would see in such a thing as fortune telling."

"Not a thing actually. I don't stomach supernatural stuff all that easily."

"That's your loss then," Katorena mocked, turning back to the table. "Psychic-types have a close link to the supernatural. Therefore, I am inclined to investigate such things."

"You're quite the bold child, aren't you?" ventured the old fortuneteller. "Very well, Gothitelle, examine her fate."

"Gothitelle." The Pokémon repeated her own name as she raised her arms and stiffened her body.

A blue glow appeared around both Gothitelle and Katorena, and between Gothitelle's uplifted hands, a swirling cluster of energy that appeared to be a portal of some kind materialized. Inside the portal, a distant galaxy could be seen.

"Ah, I see… Katorena, was it? Katorena, your present is clouded by doubt and your future is in question. You don't know what road you are traveling right now, all you know is that your current path is constrained and you desperately want to change it. As for the future, whatever path you do decide to take will lead to trials for you. Whether you can overcome those trials will be up to your own will, but friends will be there to help you if you need it."

"Friends?"

"Your friends will always be there for you…" The meaning of Katorena's hesitation suddenly hit Matt, and he had to pause for a second. "You don't know what friends are?"

"What right have you to lecture me, plebian?"

"It's fine. Friends are people you can count on to always have your back through anything. Humans are social creatures, we survive better in groups instead of alone." Matt grasped the front of his hat and pulled it down slightly, creating a shadow that covered his eyes. "I know how it can feel when you don't have anyone like that."

"Fine. But I don't need your pity."

"What you do need is to stand aside," Nekou rudely declared, "because if you two are going to circlejerk over friendship, it's my turn to get my fortune read."

Nekou pushed Matt out of her way and sat down at the table, prompting the old fortuneteller to laugh. It was easy for her to tell that Nekou was suppressing a lot of her excitement and forcing herself to come off as calm.

"I'm feeling a lot of spiritual energy coming off of you," she uttered, smiling wryly. "It's people like you who make what I do enjoyable."

"Well obviously. It's not like I'm boring like certain people I know." Nekou threw a slight glance over her shoulder at Matt as she said this. "Now what do I have to do?"

"First, I will need to grasp your hands. This will help me establish a connection to your spiritual energy, which will make it easier for Gothitelle and I to see your future."

"Alright, let's do this."

Nekou put both of her hands onto the table, and the fortuneteller took them up in her own. She held Nekou's smooth skin with her aged and rough but firm grasp. She then shut her eyes and focused mentally, trying to connect her mind to Nekou's.

Though she succeeded after a relatively quick time, whatever she saw in Nekou's mind horrified her. She broke her hold on Nekou's hands and pulled away, gasping deeply for air.

"What's wrong?" Matt exclaimed, darting over to the table in his concern. "What happened?"

"That woman's… your mind…" Gothitelle had to support her owner, who was so shaken from the mental link that she could barely move. "What… I couldn't see it clearly, but… there was something horrible in there…"

"In my mind?" Nekou was just as confused herself as to what was going on.

"I'm… I'm sorry, please forgive me. I can't complete this reading as it is right here. Here's my card…" The old woman reached into her earthy-colored robes and produced an index card, which had a map drawn on it that pointed out the location of her home on the marshland. After handing it over to Nekou, she added, "Again, I'm sorry. Please come to my home later today and I will be more than happy to finish the reading for you."

"Uh… thanks, I guess."

With the card in hand, Nekou stood up and rejoined the group with Matt, coming to stand several feet away from the fortunetelling stand. There was a brief, awkward silence, showing how the turn of events had affected them.

It was Bunny that finally spoke to break the uncomfortable situation. "You're okay, right?" she asked of Nekou. "I can't imagine what she saw in your mind that upset her so much."

"It's not your problem," Nekou replied, her voice showing a hint of irritation. "My mind is my absolute territory. If there was something in it that someone doesn't like, too fucking bad."

"Ordinarily I'd tell you to calm down," commented Matt with a sigh, "but frankly, this time I can understand why you're upset. I don't blame you."

"That's because you shouldn't blame her!" Olivia's sudden outburst startled all the others, except, of course, for Nekou. "She didn't do anything wrong!"

Matt opened his mouth to say something harsh to Olivia, even though what she'd said was correct. However, he never got the words out, as the sound of cheering floated over the air from down the street.

"I wonder what all that's about?" he wondered. "Let's go check it out. Katorena, you're free to come along."

"The likes of myself should not be associating with plebian scoundrels like you people. That said, I am more than willing to gift you with my presence for a while."

"You're not that important," Nekou deadpanned to insult Katorena.

"Well maybe so, but I'm still above people like you lot!"

"Shut up, both of you!" Matt angrily snapped. He was absolutely not in the mood to deal with an argument. "Just come along and let's go check out what's going on over there."

A crowd had gathered at the corner of one block nearby, leaving Matt and the group to push their way through.

Once they reached the front of the crowd, they could see what was going on. Butler and Diane were there, conducting the show they had mentioned the day before. Their current performance involved a hulking, brown Pokémon with the appearance of a troll from mythology. He was juggling a pair of huge concrete blocks using his heavily muscular arms along with his body, which had purple veins popping out of it.

"And there you have it!" Butler shouted with a theatrical flair as he gestured with his wand at the Pokémon. "Ladies and gentlemen, the incredible strength of Conkeldurr!"

Conkeldurr stopped juggling the blocks and leaned on them like canes while he grunted graciously to the crowd, who were giving him a sizeable amount of applause. It was then that Diane spotted Matt, Katorena and the others in the front of the crowd and informed Butler quietly of their presence.

"Now, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to invite a couple of very talented people on to perform a trick with us. I met these two yesterday and was completely impressed by how well they showed off. So, I'd like to extend a welcome to Matt and Katorena! Come on out!"

After hesitating for a brief moment, Matt and Katorena emerged from the crowd to join Butler and Diane inside their show. They were given a rather healthy amount of applause upon their entrance.

"Thank you for your kindness, everyone. I think what we'll show you next will be a very simple card trick that will pit minds against minds."

"Send out your Sigilyph and Beheeyem," Diane whispered to Matt and Katorena as a bit of stage guidance.

"Very well, if that's what you want. Ayingott, make your mark!"

"Hmph, fine. Beheeyem, I call you forth!"

Matt's Sigilyph, Ayingott, was joined by Katorena's Beheeyem as she came out of her Poké Ball. Once they were out, Butler released a Gardevoir of his own.

"What we are about to do is see if one brain can thwart two," the magician explained to the audience. "As you can see, Gardevoir is being blindfolded…" Diane took the appropriate action during this description, while Butler took a deck of playing cards from his suit. "This is a standard deck of playing cards. Sigilyph and Beheeyem will mix the cards up to an impossible degree, and we will see if their combined psychic power is enough to beat Gardevoir's!"

Once he was done setting the trick up, Butler threw the entire deck of cards into the air. The fifty-two cards broke apart and scattered.

"Ayingott, use Psychic!"

"You use Psychic too, Beheeyem!"

Ayingott and Beheeyem simultaneously used their mental power to take hold of the cloud of playing cards while it was still in midair, with the former's eyes glowing and the latter's fingers flashing. They mixed it up, spun the cards around each other, and repeatedly shuffled the group at incredible speed. Finally, they lowered the cards to the ground, making sure that all of them were face down.

"Excellent work, my friends!" Butler complimented. "Gardevoir, it's your turn now. Teleport!"

Even thought she was still blindfolded, Gardevoir used her power to make a single card disappear off the ground. Butler then approached a young boy who was watching from the head of the crowd and leaned down to see eye-to-eye with him.

"I can see you've been enjoying the show, little guy. How do you feel about being a part of it? Tell me, what card do you think Gardevoir teleported?"

"I…I…" clearly, the boy was nervous and had never expected to have Butler approach him. "I guess… the three… of hearts?"

"Let's see if you're right." Rising up to his full height, Butler flicked his wrist, producing the teleported card from his sleeve.

He lifted it up and then turned it, revealing that it was, indeed, the three of hearts, which prompted an outburst of cheering from the crowd. As a reward for correctly guessing, Butler gave the boy the card, without mentioning that he couldn't have lost with how the trick was set up.

"So yes, it is true! One brain can beat two, but we mustn't undercut the accomplishment of our young participant, so make sure he gets a hand too! And a hand, again, for Matt, Katorena, Sigilyph and Beheeyem, all very generous in the time they took to perform for you today!"

"Thank you!" Matt called to the crowd, waving to them amidst the applause he was getting. Katorena, on the other hand, remained silent.

After a few seconds of acknowledging the applause, Matt and Katorena recalled their Pokémon and rejoined Nekou, Olivia and Bunny, and then the larger group pushed back out of the crowd.

"You know," Nekou said just as they got out of the crowd, who remained enraptured as Butler continued his show, "I already figured out how he did that trick."

"Don't ruin it." Matt was swift in stopping her. "It was a fun thing to do, so I don't want to know."

"I do," Olivia chimed in, much to Matt's annoyance.

"I'll tell you later then, because Matt wants to be an ass about it."

"Come on, Nekou, can't you watch your mouth around her?" he complained, worried of the possibility that Olivia would learn from Nekou as she already seemed to be. "She's going to start picking up that kind of language!"

"I'll say what I want, when I want, where I want and to who I want. If you have a problem with that, fuck you. I don't get stepped on by anyone."

"Ah yes, that is a good moral to live your life by. I must say, it's quite admirable."

Standing in the street in front of the group, his right hand in his pocket, was Liam Everton, with his Klinklang and Cryogonal floating behind him.

-:-

Victini had slipped out into the city, so for the time being, Cresselia was resting. The light from her body illuminated the dark underground chamber where she was.

Suddenly, something she sensed caused her to snap to attention. She lowered her head and growled angrily, then disappeared.

-:-

"You…" Bunny gasped. "Aren't you…?"

"Yes. Please allow me to formally introduce myself. I am Captain Liam Everton." Wearing a smile he worked hard to maintain, Everton extended his hand to Matt and got a handshake out of it. "A good, firm handshake. That's a necessity for a businessman, so I have to say I respect that. It's good that we've finally met."

"I agree, but…" Something about this situation was making Matt uncomfortable, but he couldn't put his finger on it. "Don't you have a lot to do? I guess I'm just surprised to see you here."

"I can't say I blame you for thinking that," Everton said with a sarcastic chuckle. "Being an executive on the world stage does bury you in paperwork. I'm just taking some time off to enjoy my city during its most exciting time."

While the adults conversed, Olivia was busy examining Everton's two Pokémon. She had already looked over Klinklang and was now right on top of Cryogonal, studying it with fanatical zeal. Both Pokémon were reacting with embarrassed appreciation of the attention.

"Your Pokémon are really cool, Captain! They look really strong too!"

"Thank you, young lady. They have been my partners for over thirty-five years now. So might I ask, why are you still here now that your speech is over?" Obviously, Everton's question was directed at Matt.

"Well, Olivia wanted to see the festival and the Pokémon Bowl. She's my adoptive daughter and my most loyal student, so I really can't say no to her."

"You wouldn't say no to me either."

"Nekou, not now, please… so yeah, we're kind of just taking part in everything that's happening in the city right now."

"I must say, then," Everton ventured, "that it is quite a surprise to see Bunny Spruce with you instead of out in the field working."

"You know of me?" Bunny asked, surprised that a high-powered executive of a multinational conglomerate would know her.

"Of course. The young woman who stood up against Jacob Alexison and protected the history of the world… it's likely I'd have heard of you, after all."

Bunny was flattered by Everton's compliment, but before she could thank him, an explosion could be heard from not far away.

"What was that?" Matt exclaimed, turning back in the blast's direction.

He did not have to wait long for an answer. Darkrai suddenly surged into the wide street that Matt's group had been enjoying festivities on, preceded slightly by the screaming of people trying to escape from it. The Dark-type monster scanned the avenue for targets, only to spot Matt and Everton.

Seeing Matt caused Darkrai to pause for what appeared to be no reason. However, when Everton started to reach into his coat for the button to control its collar outside of everyone else's sight, Darkrai submitted and started to charge up a Dark Pulse.

"It's going to attack!" screamed Nekou. "Don't fucking wait, do something!"

"You can help!" Matt countered. "But for now, let's see how Tanya fares…"

"Stop! You can't fight it, it's too strong!" Everton's interruption caused Matt to put away the Dusk Ball in his hand.

"Then what…?"

Before a conclusion could be reached, Darkrai prepared to launch its Dark Pulse. However, right before it could, a blue energy orb shot out of nowhere and blindsided it.

An Aura Sphere attack.

The explosion from the Aura Sphere striking Darkrai created smoke that was dispelled relatively quickly, if not at least in part because of Darkrai shaking itself around.

"Creeeeeelehhh!"

Prompted by the shrill cry that echoed through the air, the people in the street, Matt, Nekou, Olivia, Bunny and Katorena included, all looked upward. Before the eyes of the people of Whitegold City, the battle from a generation ago came alive again.

Cresselia and Darkrai, the two fated by legend to be bitter rivals who would fight to the death, met again.

All the citizens could do was stare upward in collective shock. A whole generation of Whitegold City's people were raised with the story of Darkrai and Cresselia as just that, a fairy tale, while tourists had long come to the city under the same assumption. Yet there they were, the living embodiments of peaceful sleep and nightmares, shooting each other death glares in the air over the buildings just like the legends all said.

Dispensing with the attempt to intimidate her opponent, Cresselia gathered up her strength to form another Aura Sphere. Darkrai responded by shooting bolts of electricity from its hands to shoot the energy orb down.

Darkrai's Thunder did more than cut down Cresselia's Aura Sphere, however. The arcs of lightning crashed down all over the street, sending the partiers running for cover while screaming in fear. One part of it even struck near Matt's group and Everton enough to knock them down.

"Matt, what's going on?" Olivia whimpered, crunching up close to Nekou for protection. "Why are they fighting?"

"The legend…" he gasped, as it was the only answer he could manage. "It was true after all…"

"Yes, this is President," Everton was saying with his right hand on his ear to activate his communicator. "Activate security measure D-10. I repeat, put security measure D-10 into immediate effect."

Almost instantly, every television screen in Whitegold City was forcibly overridden to display Midori Makise's news broadcast, in a testament to how efficient Everton's emergency management mechanisms were. A red ticker with the words "Emergency Alert" in yellow font stretched across the bottom of the screen.

"Attention, Whitegold City. An emergency has developed in the city, and for your safety, security measure D-10 has been activated. As per this security measure, all citizens and tourists currently within Whitegold City are hereby ordered to evacuate to the Whitegold Dome sports complex. Please remember to have your identification pass at all times. We at Everton International pledge to ensure your safety through this crisis. Thank you."

A strange, awkward sense of silence washed over the entire street. It was impossible to perceive just what the people felt, but once the collective realization of the situation reached them, the crowds started pouring down the streets in a measured but palpable panic.

"What should we do?" Bunny asked her companions, her voice wavering. "I'm scared…"

"Obviously, follow what will lead you to safety!" Nekou thundered. "There's no need to get in harm's way!"

"We can fight back, you foolish harlot!" Katorena interjected in defiance. "They are only Pokémon!"

"Stop it, both of you!" Matt's decisive command was actually able to shut both Nekou and Katorena up for once. "We're getting out of here. I'm not interested in finding trouble right now. We'll re-evaluate our options later!"

Everton, meanwhile, stood by as Matt and his group faded into the crowd of people evacuating to the Whitegold Dome. He watched them carefully for as long as he could see Matt's white suit, then stared up into the sky at Darkrai and Cresselia fighting with his monocle glowing.

Satisfied with how things were progressing, Everton struck a wicked smirk.

END of CHAPTER 1


May 2012

S M T W T F S
  12345
6789 101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jun. 26th, 2017 10:22 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios