B1 — 30. To Gardenia City!
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PoV:

1:  Rhea (Our MC)

2:  Mya (The Hyper-Aggressive Mawile)

3:  Rhea

Pokemon Map: 

Spoiler

I loosely follow this map as a visual guide; the creator made it in paint?!?!  It's insane!  Some errors here and there, but I follow its design for the most part.  Areas can be further apart, some cities are in the wrong places or not listed, and the regions aren't nearly so close.  The best map I've found, though!

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Recap:  

Spoiler

Last week, we learned about Project 223, a Ditto with perfect transformation, and while it may have a few flaws in regards to it needing a power core and limited to the caliber of Trainer it is connected to, it is something Ghetsis has gone through meticulous trouble to steal from Giovanni, putting the Combined Indigo League, Skull, and Rocket on his heels.

Giovanni has been played by the multitude of forces colliding around his granddaughter's new journey and his city.  Lusamine is having some kind of mental and emotional break after her return that requires Lyra to keep under control, and a host of other issues the Rocket Boss must deal with.

Now, let's get back to our innocent girls!  Enough of all the doom and gloom the adults need to deal with!

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I'd like to thank my patrons for continuing to support me:

Andy Simons, Max Mustermann-34615, Darted Table, x51t2, Sad Turtle, John Driscoll, and my other Patrons!

Family Tree / Characters

Spoiler

Rhea Everhart (Swablu) - Main Character.  Long blonde hair, coral blue eyes.

Maya (Mya most of the time) - Mawile, female.  Hyper-aggressive competative personality.

Nova - Eevee, female.  Very impressionable and seems to have taken a rather attention seeking personality from Rhea showing her off.  Can turn into all Eeveelutions.

Mother - Christie Everhart (Very Low Master-tier Trainer, renowned Breeder, and Scientist; a daughter to Drake and Glacia; younger sister of Cynthia)

No Pokemon Listed

Father - Keith Everhart (Grandmaster Trainer; family not mentioned yet)

Franky - (Main Team) Gengar, male,  Keith's Starter.

Jeffery - (Main Team) Fearow, male.  Keith caught him when starting the Hidden Master Village.

Vilora - (Main Team) 5”11 Butterfree, female.  Knows Teleport.

Frisky  -  (Main Team) Medicham, female.  Very shy about meeting new Pokemon.

Sabin - Rhea's older brother by 3 years, a Platinum-tier Trainer.

Atreyu - (Main Team) Houndoom, male.  Sabin's Starter that he caught with his father, Keith, near Mt. Silver.

Luna - (Possibly Main Team) 4”11 Mismagius, female.  Sabin recently caught her in a secret cave near the edges of Mt. Silver.  Knows Imprision.

Unnamed - Kangaskhan that beat Katelin’s Roserade

Cynthia (Cindy) - Rhea's aunt and one of the Top-Tier Legendary Trainers of the world.  She's the Active Champion of Sinnoh, tutoring Dawn to take over the position in time.  Age - Late 40's.

Lila - (Back-up Main Team) Spiritomb that is on the average level of her main team.
Esfforia - (Main Team) Her 14”7 Garchomp, female.
Melina - (Main Team) 50”11 Milotic, female.
Unnamed Togekiss - (Main Team) 8”11 
Unnamed Lucario -  (Main Team)
Unnamed Roserade - (Main Team)
Unnamed Eelektross - (Main Team)
Unnamed Gastrodon - (Back-up Main Team)
Unnamed Braviary - (Back-up Main Team)
Unnamed Glaceon - (Back-up Main Team)
Polic - Unknown Pokemon.  Weaker Pokemon that Cynthia brings on visits to help push Sabin.

Bianca - Rhea's cousin, Master-tier Trainer, and Cynthia's daughter.  Age 26.  Having a difficult time living away from a major city with making exotic and new dishes.  Rhea's pretty close to her.

Unnamed Stoutland - 4"6 at shoulders.

Hilbert - Bianca's husband, Former Champion of the Unova League (replaced by Iris).  Rhea believes he's kind of clumsy. 

Grandpa Drake - Rhea's Grandfather, Cynthia and Christie's father, and Glacia's husband.  Apparently, he's a Former Legendary-tier Trainer.  He's lost a lot of his former strength over the years but is still a terror if he's serious.  Owns a boat that he built himself as a young man.  Married to Glacia; Active Hoenn E4, Rank-1, but Glacia is trying to get him to retire.  He won't until someone worthy can take his spot.

Grandma Glacia - Rhea's grandmother on her mother's side.  She is a match for Drake, although, the type advantage might play a role in that.  She's still easily Champion-tier in her youth and holds an E4 position.


Amira Rocket (Mew) - A part of  Rhea's Team.  She is the granddaughter of Giovanni and Ariana Rocket, and the daughter of Lyra and Silver Rocket.  She's really reserved about friends, very responsible, and shy.  She has a habit of putting on her sunglasses to adopt a persona to protect herself from criticism and rude behavior.  She loves her family dearly.

Lyra Rocket - Amira's Mom.  Her daughter classifies her as a stalker that went after her dad.  She's very hyper-active and doesn't know when to not push boundaries.  A High Champion-tier Trainer, she traveled with Legends like Ethan and Kris.

Zelri - 4"11 Porygon-Z, female.

Silver Rocket - Amira's Dad.  Not much known other than him being a caring father that works for his father.  High Master-tier.

Ariana Rocket - Amira's grandmother on her dad's side.  She's the highest-ranking Administrator in the Rocket conglomerate.  Possibly between Master and High Master-tier.

Giovanni Rocket - Amira's infamous grandfather on her dad's side.  He's gone through a lot since his criminal days and now has a legitimate business that has built up the Viridian, Pallet, and Pewter City-States to their current glory.  Grandmaster-tier Trainer and the Gym Leader of Viridian.  No one has been able to beat him since Chase, the current Champion.


Mallory (Lori) Medina - Rhea's final teammate.  Not much is known about Lori so far, except that her parents died when she was young and Grimsley took her and her sister in.  She takes after the bright, devious side of her step-dad.  Seems to have some subtle attention needs from her sister since she was always too busy to hang out.

Shauntal Medina - Mallory's older sister, and Unova E4, Rank-4 Member.  She's an author, too.  Grandmaster-tier.

Grimsley Brooks - Mallory and Shauntal's step-dad and Unova E4, Rank-2 Member; High Grandmaster-tier.  He's in many underground circles.  Married to Karen Brooks, but they don't live with each other.

Karen Brooks - Wife of Grimsley Brooks, notorious party-girl, and Kanto's Active E4, Rank-1 Member.  She's Mallory and Shauntal's step-mom and Casey Brooks' mother.  High Grandmaster-tier.

Casey Brooks - Mallory and Shauntal's step-sister.  She's in the Starter Award Program with Rhea's team.  Casey is a notorious national party-girl mess that streams herself doing stupid and ridiculous stuff, taking after her mother. 


Jason - Rhea's best friend growing up in the Hidden Master's Village.  He's pretty outgoing and cheery.

Katelin (Kate) - Jason's older sister by 3 years and Sabin's girlfriend.  Rhea used to really dislike her for taking her brother's attention away but started to warm up to her recently.  Platinum-tier Trainer with an Encrusted Platinum Soul Badge to her name.

Jace - (Main Team) Noctowl
Fabio - (Main Team; Lead Pokemon) 6”10 Ampharos
Noral - Male Roserade that was beaten by Sabin’s Kangaskhan

Annila - Jason and Katelin's mother.  She's a picture fanatic and obsessed with Gym Leader Viola.  Master-tier Trainer.

Unnamed - (Main Team) Yanmega
Reon - (Main Team) 6”8 Poliwrath

 Kent - Jason and Katelin's dad.  Not much known, but assumed within Master-tier.


Lucian Allard - On a team with Jason and Lenard (Len/Lenster).  He's a very cocky boy that has something to prove to his parents.  He's rude and insufferable to most.

Diantha Allard - Lucian's mother, Siebold's wife, and Active Champion of Kalos.  She's supposed to be a decent Trainer within the Champion-tier bracket.  She doesn't have a lot of time to spend with her family between being Champion and an actress.  She's not on good terms with Rhea's family right now.

Siebold Allard - Lucian's father, Diantha's husband, and Kalos Active E4 Rank-3 Member.  Grandmaster-tier.  Owns a 5-star restaurant.

Ludovic Malet - Siebold's nephew and Lucian's cousin.  Seems to somewhat look up to Lucian and follow his mannerisms ... just not as insufferable.


Lenard (Len/Lenster) Hart - Best friends with Mallory and on the same team as Jason.  He enjoys creating music and partying, just not in the same way as Casey.

Elesa Hart - Len's mother, Gym Leader in Unova, and cross-regional musical superstar.


Blue - Legendary-tier Trainer that appears to have a deep hate for Giovanni.  He had some unknown tragedies that happened during the Ultra War that caused him to turn to alcohol to cope.  He's married to Leaf, and they had some ups and downs with their relationship, but seem on the recovery.  Rhea dislikes him for ruining her 8th birthday and the special card her mother made.  He works with Red in Alola at the Battle Tree.

As much time as I have at the moment to make this; I'll continue to increase the data in time.

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7:01 A.M. June 16, Wednesday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)

Events:  The start of the 2nd week in the Joint Kanto and Johto Indigo Summer League Preliminaries.  1st day of the Round Robin Summer Indigo Cup.  Two days after Ho-Oh’s Viridian appearance, healing everyone.

 

Rhea’s neck stretched to the left as she slowly awoke, cracking open an eye; Mya gave her a good morning, standing not far away while giving her a bright wave.  She hoped to get some battles in today.  Nova was curled into a ball between her arm and side.

Mmh … yeah, we’ll probably get some challenges on our way to Dark City.

Mya cheered, walking over to join Amber and Miky; the imp was quickly learning when it was alright to play pranks and who enjoyed it.  Comfy was far more tolerant of the Impidimp’s antics, laughing and playing games with him, but Rhea thought that had to do with her nature.

Glancing at the clock by Amira’s bed, she saw it was 7:04.  She’d been getting into a bad habit of sleeping in longer than usual while in Amira’s house, and her teammate was practically comatose on her bed, wearing a rather cute sleeping face with her full lips slightly open, resting on her side.

Mallory wasn’t next to her, and Mya explained the purple-haired girl had woken up about 30 minutes before her and was finishing up in the bathroom.

Being careful to stretch out, Rhea got up while laying the blanket over part of Nova’s body.  Throwing on a long nightshirt Lyra had given Mallory and her, she went into the dimly lit hallway and saw the morning sun creeping through the windows; Amira had thick black drapes that blocked the light.

She heard Mallory in the bathroom, brushing her teeth, so Rhea took a moment to head downstairs; a giggle slid through her throat while reading the sticky note on the wall on the way down.

“Hey, girls!  Silver had a lot of work to do, so he left at 5 A.M., and I have some things to do too.  Sorry for running out before you woke up, but I left a morning snack and lunch for you in the fridge.  Help yourself to whatever you like, but tell Amira to take it easy on the Leppa Juice!  She doesn’t need half a carton in a single sitting … it’s not a food replacement.  By the way, loved having you girls over; come by whenever you’re in the area!  Know that Silver and I love you, and have a wonderful adventure!”

Making it into the kitchen, Rhea smiled at Lyra’s Azumarill sleeping in the corner of the living room with a quilt blanket draped over her.  According to the note on the fridge, she’d prepared what seemed to be Cold Brew Pecha Overnight Protein Oats for breakfast; it was made out of unsweetened almond milk, juiced Pecha Berries, MooMoo yogurt, vanilla extract, salt, regular oats, protein powder, and cinnamon.

It sounded delicious, and for lunch, there were collapsable containers with Eggant nachos and Strib and Touga Berries as sides.

Closing the fridge as she heard Mallory get out of the bathroom, we swapped places, saying good morning on the staircase.  She was wearing the custom dresses that had been perfectly designed for their figures.

Rhea got ready with Amira following, and the three of them were eating and chatting by 8:14 A.M.  Their Pokémon were given some treats by Lyra’s Azumarill when she awoke, showing them where her secret stash was within the pantry.

By 8:36, they were getting ready to head out, Rhea checking her phone while waiting for Amira to set her room right; she’d made a surprising mess that Rhea hadn’t expected of the structured girl.

The News was just as it always was; the miraculous event that Ho-Oh had brought about was swiftly overshadowed by whatever negative events the journalists could find.  Lusamine had some kind of incident in a local bar, and many news stations were asking the city why she was let free among the populous, considering the unknown state of her condition.

Skull was making minor trouble, but only a few verbal altercations and two fights yesterday resulted in an arrest.

Apparently, some bigshot Plasma Member had been extradited to Unova and was awaiting trial, but the only reason that hit Kanto News was that he was found within Viridian.

All in all, it wasn’t all that interesting to Rhea.

Mallory showed them some local, small-time journalists that had snuck photos of them out in public and were spreading gossip about their travels like a daily blog.  The part that drew Rhea’s notice was Sam, Jade, and Hannah were pulled into the shot with Casey’s team.

Trying to get all of that out of her head, she turned to PikaBook.  Jason, Len, and Lucian were currently heading deeper into Viridian Forest, traveling along the areas listed as High Bronze Tier by the Ranger Union in that area, looking for a few Pokémon, but Len and Lucian appeared to have already gotten their 2nd Pokémon, leaving Jason to find his.

Len and Lucian wanted to keep their team additions a secret since they wanted to battle them again after the Pallet match, but they were planning on spending the next four days training in the wild.

Both Sam and Casey’s group had gotten up before them, already on the road to Dark City at 6:40 A.M., and had a decent lead on them.

Hannah, Sam, and Jade stopped off to get their Protect TM; Hector already knew the Move.  The trio hit the road after that, participating in their three daily battles.  Rhea grinned upon reading their messages on PikaBook.

 

7:38 A.M. Sam:  Hey! Guess what!  We won!  We finally won our first match!  Tera was a MONSTER in our Triple Battle, just charging in there and taking out everything with Star acting as her backup support!  So many people love her shine, too.

7:38 A.M. Hannah:  Yeah!  Star’s so hyped with hanging out with everyone, too; he’s got this … umm, I don’t even know how to explain it!  He’s just … kind of spooky sometimes, and he can shove Pokémon away with Extrasensory.  He really, really likes Metronome, though, hehe.  Sent a Swift at one of our opponents with it.

7:39 A.M. Jade:  Mimi and I were kind of protected by Star; he’s really acting like a big brother to her and saying he’ll keep her safe.  She’s got a lot of spirit but needs a lot more battles to be on the same level as Star and Tera … Tera’s a BEAST.  She draws all the aggro.

7:40 A.M. Sam:  Yeah, but we can take it!  Oh, tell them what Mimi did, though, Jade!

7:40 A.M. Jade:  Oh … yeah, umm, I mean, it wasn’t huge, though … Tera’s kind of immune to Electric attacks.

7:41 A.M. Hannah:  It was super unexpected, though!

7:41 A.M. Bianca:  Hello, girls!  Umm >.> I’m kind of lost.  Who are these Pokémon, and what’s up?  I’m up for a good battle story.  =)

 

The conversation went back and forth between a few of her family members until they were caught up on the trio’s new Pokémon.

 

7:47 A.M. Jade:  Yeah, so, my Pichu had some trouble, but Rhea’s Mom helped her.  It’s kind of tiring, and my body hurts a lot right now … aww, her cute smile is always worth it, though, and I love playing with her little heart-tail.

7:48 A.M. Great Grandma Carolina: (✪‿✪) It’s so lovely when you get to grow with your bonded Pokémon from the start.  You girls these days are so blessed with all the modern stuff like Great Balls; we didn’t have all the fancy and powerful bonding devices back in my day.  So, what happened with the battle?

7:48 A.M. Jade:  Oh, right, right.  So, the Voltorb we were fighting … we were really worried about it maybe exploding on us; we don’t know what Tier they learn Self-Destruct, but he sent this strange staticky circular pulses at Star, but they were suddenly pulled in by Mimi, and her Special Attack went up like crazy!  He tried it once more, and she drew it in again; it made Mimi’s Thunder Shocks super, super strong!

7:49 A.M. Hannah:  That’s why we won, really!

7:49 A.M. Jade:  No, no, no, it was all you guys.

7:49 A.M. Sam:  Nuh-uh!  You were keeping that strange Electric Attack away from us.

7:49 A.M. Bianca:  Ah, it sounds like Eerie Impulse; heh, it’s a Status Electric Move … although, it’s really unusual for Lightning Rod to even pull in Status Moves.  It works typically against Damage Moves and can even draw Physical Electric Pokémon … as in, literally pull them toward your Pokémon if they used a Move like Spark.

7:50 A.M. Great Grandma Carolina:  You have a really special Pichu, Dearie!  That’s so … sick … sick is a good new age word, right?

7:50 A.M. Katelin: Yup, that’s a good word to use, Carolina!  Sounds pretty awesome, girls!  I can’t wait to see Mimi when you make it to Pewter; we should still be in the area for Rhea.  You girls are doing well; keep up the hard work!

7:50 A.M. Sam:  Thanks, Katelin, Bianca, Carolina!  We’re gonna do our best!

7:51 A.M. Hannah:  Yeah, thanks for being so supportive of some random girls xD 

7:51 A.M. Great Grandma Carolina:  You’re not random!  ಠ╭╮ಠ  You’re friends with my dear Rhea!  That makes you practically family!  Oh, I need to go … tech support is here to help me with this blasted computer.  Why do they make these things so complicated?!  I just want to do a cross-examination of these two magnificent Pokémon Core Wave Sequences, yet my blasted screen keeps flickering!

7:51 A.M. Jade:  Pokémon Core Wave Sequences … I don’t know what that is, but I could probably help with the screen.  It’s probably a driver issue.

7:51 A.M. Great Grandma Carolina:  Girl … you’re speaking in tongues to me.  What is a driver issue?  Where is it going?

7:51 A.M. Katelin: Oh, dear … it’s like a program that runs the device and gives it instructions.

7:52 A.M. Great Grandma Carolina: Bad instructions.  Okay.  So, we fire the driver or tell him to do better?  ಠ╭╮ಠ   I just need my screen to work!  Watching this man play with these windows popping up and going to these sites so fast is like I’m a freshman watching my professor try to explain the Ancient Draconid language … utter gibberish.

7:53 A.M. Bianca:  Heh, best have him fix it, Granny.

7:52 A.M. Great Grandma Carolina: I feel so old </3 … I’ll ask Cindy to explain drivers to me later…

 

Rhea released a sad chuckle; her friends’ victory chat had turned into her granny’s lamentations about growing old.  Being over 130+ years old certainly wasn’t the norm, and it was a shock she’d kept up with the times as long as she had.

She turned her attention back to the road ahead of them.  Considering the distance from Mintale Town, a suburb outside Viridian, and where Lyra lived, to Dark City was a 67-miles journey along Route 2, including Springleaf Fields would take them two days to reach their destination.

Not much was happening with her family; Rhea’s grandparents were back in Hoenn to prepare for their Summer Cup Series since they needed to be present, and her aunt was the same.  Times like these were busy for many of her family members.

Hilbert ended up going to the Sinjoh Desolation with Ethan after all and was pretty nervous about the task ahead of them.  Unknown and changed Pokémon from various alternate realities and from within Ultra Space were within the area, but most of humanity hadn’t a clue what really lay within the distorted spatial region after it took a massive hit during the war.

It wasn’t as if the place was accessible before the Ultra War, but it had gone from a Master-tier Region of the world to one of the extremely few Champion-tier.  The Legendary Pokémon Palkia had created a barrier around the entire range that kept the dangerous creatures within; only a few ruins allowed access to the expanse.

Sadly, that meant Bianca would be without her husband for a good few weeks, but she seemed to be taking it pretty well.  Bianca mentioned Rhea’s Mom sent her some data to go over, which would occupy her time, and she had some new recipes to get right.

Katelin and Sabin were taking some time together exploring the peaks of Mt. Moon and the surrounding range, hiking northeast to see Pokemopolis and look for any more clues about what else might be in the area of the ancient civilization.

Rhea was excited to someday get to that point; she wanted to have fun going around and exploring, but she’d need to get much stronger in order to get to that point.  Anywhere fun or interesting requires you to have strong Pokémon.

She smiled while going over the photos of the pair Katelin posted since her brother rarely opened the app.

Making a few posts about their plans, Rhea set out with her two friends; she was getting further and further away from the hidden village she’d spent her entire life in, and every new sight sent waves of excitement through her blood.

Route 2, running through Springleaf Field, was just hilly enough to obstruct long-distance views; the rising mountainous, almost jungle-like lush trees of Viridian Forest to their left stood with imposing majesty before reaching ice-capped peaks, and the occasional coppice areas near the edges of the field poked through at the right angles, used for firewood and timber.

To their right sat the intimidating dark-wooden visage of the Shadow Woods, much smaller than Viridian Forest, yet much more sinister in appearance with the shadow trees.  The specimen came from the pine family and had few low-hanging branches, but its canopy grew thick and wide, blanketing the woodlands in darkness.

High Gold-tier was the most the Shadow Woods rose to in order of difficulty, but it was recommended to have a Pokémon or equipment that provided light.  It ran from Cobalt Coast, near Viridian Bay, to the Diglett Caves, drawing many scientists in the field of speleology.  

The mass of travelers that they’d seen between Pallet and Viridian thinned while heading north along Route 2; significant traffic mainly happened between the Indigo League and Pallet.  If people wanted to get to the other cities, there were much better travel methods than hiking, which meant most Trainers you saw would be Bronze or Silver-tier.

Upon exiting the town and entering the fields, they came across Bronze-tier Trainers networking, battling, or making plans.  The three of them found a few challengers to face within the throng near their own Battle Rating.

Mya had forced herself to be awake for this very reason, but the two politely asked if they could pass, which Rhea accepted.  It took a good five more minutes to find anyone else to battle, which was a big change from their first few days, and the only ones that accepted were slightly above their Battle Rating.

The reason was MemeStar and a post that barely hit Gossip twenty minutes ago that had instantly gone viral because of the content.  High-profile individuals shared a cut video of Nova evolving into Glaceon before reverting back to her base form; questions were being asked by a few groups that brought it to her attention, but she gave the same response as Amira—talk to the Eevee Evolution Laboratory.

A few of the Trainers gave her fishy looks as if they weren’t sure about the deflection but weren’t bold enough to call her out on it.

Nova was thrilled about being so popular, and Rhea wondered if she really should enter Contests; however, Lori mentioned that she could get her answers in mainstream media that way to stop all the questions.

Finally getting to her battle, Mya jumped out on the field, waiting for her opponent with anticipation.

 

* * *

 

Mya’s jaws stretched wide with a yawn as she exited her pokeball, but she was already getting pumped for the upcoming fight.  A wicked grin split both of her mouths while stretching out a little.

Ever since the Nidorino, she’d felt everything else was so lackluster; none of the wild Pokémon even approached her.  The hype Lyra and Zelri gave her was an utter disappointment.  Yes, the Nidorino had been strong, but he postured too much; to her, he had given her an advantage, and that didn’t sit right with her. 

“Okay, Mya, let’s see how we do when we’re basically 100%!  Still, be mindful of my fortitudes and when I tell you we’re pushing it.  We can’t use more than 15% of my safety range in each battle … max, but if you’re efficient, then you can go harder on the next battles.  I still need to travel and have some in reserve if we’re attacked on the road.”

Ah … that makes a lot of sense, Mya returned.  These guys are supposed to be like the one guy Nova fought, right?

Rhea hummed thoughtfully.  “I know you’re looking for a challenge, but this early in the League, Pokémon, and Trainers, just don’t have the raw Stats, Abilities, or strategies to handle your raw talent and aggression.  Sorry…”  She mumbled apologetically.

Nova jumped in with a bright tone from inside her pokeball, returning for the battle.  “Oh, what about that Lucian guy and Cobalt; aren’t they supposed to be getting stronger to fight us soon?”

Heh, I won’t hold my breath.  Mya huffed, flexing her three claws as their first opponent released a Zubat; Rhea told her they were more of a hit-and-run style attacker, causing Mya a bit of agitation.

“Hello … oof, you’re kind of scary…”  He trailed off, flapping above the grassy hill they were using as a battleground. 

Mya’s large jaws opened, curving her long tongue to lick her lips.  “Hello, let’s get started!”

Her aura shot across the field as Rhea told her the match started, lowering his Attack, and sending him fluttering away.  That was fine; she had plenty of Moves to handle it; she was able to draw energy from Rhea much faster than the Pokémon seemed to be able to generate his own.

Twisting her hips, she spun in the air, generating a circular cyclone of pink wind that exploded toward the flying bat; it struck, throwing him higher into the air, but he managed to recover, glowing white before generating a shockwave at her.

“You’ll have to do better than that!”

“He’s trying to lower your Defense to chip you down,” Rhea explained.  “Zubat should be weak to your Ice Fang Move if he gets in close for an Absorb.”

“Heh,” her Defense weakened as half the waves hit her.  “Is that it?  Drawing in a decent chunk of energy from Rhea, a dark brown color surrounded her frame.  “Let’s see how fast you really are!”

The Zubat was already charging, closing the distance a little to get his next attack off.  He darted left, using the sun as cover; Mya squinted as the bright globe blocked her vision, jumping forward in thrilled surprise as the creature suddenly grew four times her size, mouth open wide to swallow her.

Interesting!  So, is that how it is…

She was a little taken aback as the moment its tongue lurched out to snatch her, at least 8% of her defensive matrix was chunked, and the Zubat vanished.

An illusion?

Astonish!  Watch out; it has a chance at disrupting your energy generation for a moment.”

Tch, like it could do that to me!

Scanning the area around the sun for the black dot she was looking for, her strength increased as the dark brown glow separated from her body, creating four large rocks, and she spotted the darting bat just in time.

Judging the direction and where he might try to dodge, Mya fired the projectiles; three missed, but one made a clean hit, throwing him out of the sky.

That’s it!

Rushing forward with excitement as he fell, mist frothed out of her gaping jaws, light blue fangs growing out of her maw; cheers and gasps exploded around her as she neared the Pokémon, jaws closing around its frame before a cloud of mist erupted from the impact.

The Zubat iced over as it was sent flying toward a few humans that jumped out of the way, taking pictures with their phones or recording her.

“Over!  You did so good!”  Rhea chimed.

Yeah!  I am undefeated!  Who’s next?!

Rhea waved the rueful boy off as he returned his Zubat to his pokeball, leaving to treat him.  A girl was next, and she looked confident.  They waited a minute for her Defense decrease to revert back, and Mya released her Stat enhancements from Ancient Power.  When she revealed her Pokémon, though, Rhea was a bit amused.

“You ready to get stalled, honey?!”  The odd purple Pokémon with a circle and cross on his bumpy body asked; he had a somewhat gravelly voice.

Mya returned the smirk.  “Stalled?  I’m ready to crush you.”

What is it?

Koffing?  I mean, I can see why she’s confident; she can probably beat most Trainers.  I’ve seen a few Master Matches with Weezing back home, and the usual tactic is Poison and avoid damage or heal.  Not a problem, though; I don’t think she knows you’re immune to Poison.”

Mya released a low groan as the battle started, and pressurized purple smoke shot out of his body; he seemed to be able to utilize it fairly fast, but Mya was about done.  “Why is everyone so weak?!”  She shouted in despair, giving the encroaching cloud a glare; the humans were retreating, and the Koffing had already disappeared within the smoke.

The Koffing released a low chuckle in the ominous smog.  “He-he-he … we’ll see if you can say that after a few minutes within my toxic fumes.”

Mya just wanted to be done with this match because Rhea seemed to think she had this without a shadow of a doubt.

Sensing her agitation, Rhea said, “I don’t know why she’d think this would work after seeing you use Fairy Wind, even if she didn’t know about your Poison immunity.  Just blow it away; the only thing it can probably do to you is Tackle.”

Great…

The world darkened as the purple gas enclosed the battlefield with him continually pumping it out, and Mya breathed out a depressed growl, walking through the smoke; she didn’t even feel like blowing the gas away.

The Koffing continued to taunt her while silently hovering around the poisonous environment; it was being blown away, but Rhea told her the other Trainers were having their Pokémon forcing it above.  It wouldn’t last long unless he was continually funneling energy into it to keep hidden.

“Are you feeling it yet … that slow, creeping loss as your body weakens … crippling sickness taking over your mind … consciousness dwindling … exhausted … misery gripping your heart…”

Mya caught his silhouette in the purple fog with her sharp vision, trudging over to him while slowly gathering the needed energy.  “Oh, yeah … I feel the misery … the hopelessness of ever finding someone to get me excited.”

“Huh?!”

Jumping up in the air through the swirling mist, her body shimmered white while bringing down her large, closed mouth on top of his head, slamming him to the ground; he sunk into it with a gasp.

Breathing out a sigh, Mya charged another.  “C’mon,” she mumbled dully, “try to hit me with something else because this poison stuff … yeah, doesn’t work on me.”

“What?!  No, I never lose!”  He shouted, face screwing up with rage while getting ready for a Tackle, but he was far too stunned by her immunity.

Folding her arms in a slight pout, Mya shook her head before bringing down a second Slam.  “Night … tell your Trainer to pick her your fights better…”

His defensive matrix shattered as her second attack pounded him further into the flattened grass, and the smog soon cleared, revealing her moody, practically unharmed figure.

“Next…”

“One second … heh, the girl’s pretty confused.  She’s asking me a lot of questions.”

Mhm…  Mya yawned.  Maybe there’s some of those Low Silver Trainers here?  There has to be someone that can make me feel at least a little happy to fight.

Rhea explained to the girl why she’d lost, and her teammates were just as stunned to find out she was a Steel-Type.

Amira and Holly were doing just fine; she just buffed up and swept with Leaf Tornado while building back her defensive matrix with Leech Seed.  Amira seemed to be conditioning her to not get close to her opponents, even if she did have close-ranged Moves.

It was a slower strategy but safe and provided Holly and her opponent, a Ekans, with much-needed experience.

After a time, Rhea told her their next opponent was ready; at least Holly was learning strategies, though.  Her opponents weren’t even worth it, she supposed.  All she wanted to do was have someone challenge her.  Was that so much to ask?

She turned bored eyes on her final opponent of the day before heading to bed.  It was undoubtedly a strange-looking Pokémon.  A small spider-like Pokémon with a bubble around his head.

“Okay … I have no clue what this one is, Mya.  I’ll look it up, but just be careful.  The battle’s about to start.  Thunder Fang would probably be a good guess, though, considering the water bubble.”

Well, if I don’t know what it is, then maybe I’ll have more fun, Mya reasoned, giving the Pokémon a grin.  “So, can you give me a challenge?”

“I certainly hope so,” the Pokémon nervously chuckled.  “You feel pretty strong…”  Her three thin legs spread out, lowering herself to the ground.  “My name is Enica; let’s have a good battle!”

Mya hummed; she was stronger than the other two she’d fought, which was at least something.  In fact, this bubble-head reminded her a bit of Tera … maybe not quite as strong as her, but she was certainly the caliber of opponent she was looking for.

The battle started.

Enica shot out several globs of what appeared to be sticky glue, almost without charging at all, meaning it was a genetic Move that she mastered by virtue of birth.  However, with the speed she used it, it couldn’t be that costly for the spider.

Mya jumped left, dodging the bullets, but the moment they struck the ground, they expanded into 2-meter wide webs.  Eyes narrowing, she used her second head’s weight to flip in the air before generating a swift Fairy Wind to push away, dodging the web.

The Pokémon was peppering the grassy terrain with the substance, closing off Mya’s escape, but she started to enjoy herself.  Most of her genetic Moves were powerful, requiring a time to generate even when mastered, but swift, cost-efficient Moves like this did have their use.

She sent out an Astonish, and Enica winced as her fierce illusion slammed into her body, throwing her back a bit.

“That’s it; let’s go!”  Mya shouted, dancing around the webs to make it to the Pokémon while charging Ancient Power.  “Can you take it?”

Enica’s intense eyes glared at her.  “I’m a survivor!”  She spat out a glob of web before dodging left, and it spread out under Mya’s feet, too close to avoid, spewing a haze of green mist at her.

Mya frowned as the particles began gathering around her body, constantly eating away at her defensive matrix.  This is new…

Her attention darted back to Enica as Ancient Power finished, and she sent the four rocks rocketing toward her; the Pokémon had impressive legwork, jumping between two, ducking the next, and flipping right to dodge the last.

“Can you keep up?”  She asked.

“Heh … is that a question?”  Mya mused; although she had to admit, the sticky substance she was now walking over was hard to move through, and the green particles weren’t going away, continuing to eat at her defensive matrix.

Enica was charging for another attack, so Mya countered with Fairy Wind; she barely managed to make it in time.  The air current and jet of water met a meter away from Mya, sending a soft spray of dispersed liquid around her before landing on the webs again.  It was hard to dodge the sticky terrain.

“Mya, it’s called a Dewpider; it’s weak to Flying, Rock, and Electric, and I think it put Infestation on you!  You need to end it quicker, or she’ll wear you down.”

You’re saying she could actually beat me?  Perfect!

Energy coursed through Mya’s veins; she’d saved enough energy by slow-charging in the last fight and not using too much against the Zubat.  She could splurge a little here.

Barely dodging around the bubbles Enica blew at her, Mya laughed.  “A survivor, huh?  I like it!”

A black glow filmed across her body, and she vanished in shadows, appearing beside the Spider Pokémon, dark fist slamming against her head and sending her flying to the left; she was out of the webs.

Running after her, Enica shot out more globs of glue, but Mya had already learned how far the webs would spread once they struck the ground, and found a path through, electricity sparking within her gaping jaws.  “You’ll have to work harder than that!”

Mya’s eyes widened as the Dewpider somehow pulled in energy faster than before, sending a jet of water right at her face; she was too close to avoid it.  The blast struck, chunking over half her defensive matrix; she hadn’t been hit this hard since the Nidorino’s attack.

Forced back, her Thunder Fang collapsed since it had completed without being in a position to be used.  Water dripped off her soaked body as she got up, spinning to the left, dodging another Water Gun while returning a Fairy Wind.

“I won’t give up!”  Enica boldly shouted, side-stepping the pink cyclone.  “I’m not gonna stop!”

“Alright, let’s get serious then!”

Frost frothed from her jaws as she ran at Enica, shooting another stream of liquid at her, but this time Mya’s gaping maw met the attack, freezing the water and sending the crystal shards across around her body.  It cut into her defensive matrix by a bit but allowed her to keep going.

Both Moves completed, and Mya was just about on top of the Dewpider, electric fangs growing as dark fangs grew in front of Enica to counter; meeting, there was an explosion of energy, but Mya’s won out, sending the Pokémon flying away with a short grunt, but she was back on her feet within seconds, dodging Mya’s attempt to grab her.

Bubbles peppered Mya’s closed mouth as she hid behind her jaws, chunking her defensive matrix further, and the Infestation was pushing her below 20%.  It was the lowest she’d ever been, and it felt great!

One more strike, though, and her body disappeared in shadows, appearing out of the darkness behind Enica; the girl tried to jump away, Mya catching her determined glare while trying to spray out a jet of water to push herself away, but it was too late.  Mya’s fist smashed through her defensive shell, shattering it and sending the Dewpider tumbling across her sticky webs, coming to a stop.

The crowd filtered back into focus, and Mya blinked, glancing left and right with mild confusion; she’d utterly forgotten there were even people around, and Rhea was giving her a soft sigh as Nova barked at her.

“Mya!” Nova yelled.  “You totally blanked out again!  You wouldn’t listen or respond at all!”

“Wait … no, I didn’t hear anything, though…”  She mumbled, glancing at Rhea’s forced smile; she wasn’t super drained.  “Did I pull too much?”

No, no, nothing like that, Rhea sighed, brushing out her hair while giving the depressed female Trainer a sad wave; she was checking up on her unconscious Pokémon with sagging shoulders.  Maybe a little bit … you used like 52%, which I think is safe, and it might be a bit rougher than I expected on the hike today, but we did win.

I … I won, though, Mya mumbled, playing with her thin, left lock.

“That’s not the problem,” Nova huffed.  “You weren’t listening to us at all!  It was so rude … and you could have hurt Rhea again.”

“You did do a lot better,” Rhea replied, walking over with what was left of the Super Potion Lyra had given them.  “You didn’t force any Moves and let them run their natural course, which dropped the cost a ton.”

Yeah … I’m improving … sorry, Rhea, Nova…

“I just … I don’t get it,” Nova growled from within her pokeball.  “Why can’t you hear her?  You can’t hear me yelling at you?!”

I don’t know … I’m just so focused on the fight, and it was getting good, and then … I just … I wanted to have fun.

“C’mon, girls, let’s get along,” Rhea forced a chuckle while spraying her with the liquid, restoring her defensive matrix.  “We’ll figure it out in time.”

“I swear…”  Nova huffed.

Mya could tell Rhea was still concerned about her losing all track of everything but her opponents in a fight, but she didn’t know why it happened … it just did.  How could she stop it?

 

* * *

 

Rhea tried to be cheery after Mya’s victory.  Her steely little girl wanted to revel in her win, but the way she mentally shut everything out was really bad.  They had to come up with a solution.  She knew Mya never wanted to hurt her; the disconnect was just something that came naturally to her, and Rhea had to wonder if it was because she hadn’t strengthened their personal bond that much yet, relying on the Master Ball.

In truth, Mya had made a lot of instinctively good decisions.  That was just it, though; Mya was pure instinct and raw power.  She didn’t even want to look at her Battle Rating; that was whatever right now.

Once finishing her battle and talking to the Dewpider’s Trainer, she met up with Amira and Mallory; to her shock, Mallory had actually lost her first battle with Miky, making the little imp depressed since Gables had to step in for the next two.

It was the first loss they’d experienced within the team, but she wasn’t all that worried about it; Miky needed a lot more practice in real battles since he was more of a forest prankster.

They made their way to a camping site along Route 2, making it around 6 P.M., and selected a spot far away from the general tent area.  A few Bronze-tier Trainers came up to them, asking advice after seeing how many matches they’d won and their Battle Rating, but Rhea froze, causing Amira to step in.

Rhea felt a bit awkward about her lack of social skills, but to be fair, she’d been preoccupied throughout the day with Mya’s behavior during intense battles.  Her little rampaging girl had long since fallen asleep, yet it was still on her mind.

How do I deal with her intensity?

She heard Amira tell the Trainers that they should check out Gym Aides or Leaders matches that use the same Pokémon they have, but at their own level, not higher-tier, since that wouldn’t help them right now.  They needed to study their strategies.

Rhea figured she should do the same; she couldn’t recall watching anything lower than Master-tier, excluding Sabin’s recorded broadcasts.  Giovanni had dominated the competition with a weaker Pokémon; he just made use of its natural abilities within a match.

Making her way inside her tent, she yawned, Nova curling up beside her; there were plenty of Trainers with Pokémon on night watch, so Mya had time off tonight.

Going to the search engine, she searched for any Masters inside Kanto or Johto with a Mawile and couldn’t find anything.  Broadening the search, she found the best one that fit the results came from a Fairy-Type Gym Leader in Kalos, Valerie.

Looking up images of the woman, she smiled at her fashion choice.  Rhea had seen most of the Champions from other regions, but many of their Gym Leaders were a mystery to her.

Valerie was a black-haired woman with sleek locks that fell to her knees, and her purplish-gray eyes were unusual; she’d never seen anything like it.  The unique outfit she wore in most of her pictures really made Rhea interested, too.

However, the more she looked into the woman, the more off-put she was with what she was reading.  It was no secret that once you started getting to the High Master-tier, more often than not, Trainers had some oddity attached to them.  Valerie was just one of the special ones … it said she could talk to Pokémon.

It wasn’t like the bonding process everyone was accustomed to, either; she could literally have conversations with wild Pokémon.  Now, that wasn’t all that unusual to Rhea; after all, she’d met N, and he could do that, too.

Valerie’s strangeness came from her eyes and outfit … that she believed would eventually make her a Pokémon.  Yes, a High Master, a Gym Leader, had this fantasy that she 100% believed in.  If she cosplayed as a Pokémon, she could become one.

She was very reserved and formal from the videos Rhea had seen of the Gym Leader and a phenomenal Trainer, but there was that confession inside her bio.  Now, there were a lot of out-of-the-ordinary things that happened around the world, but this was the first time Rhea had heard anything like this.

Mhm … I mean, it is Kalos, I suppose.  Kalos has some … yeah, some interesting people in it, but to be fair … we do have Sabrina.  Mmh…

She reached to her side, petting Nova as she chirped with delight, snuggling closer to her.  The horrifying documentary on the Psychic Gym Leader returned with a wince.

Talking to Pokémon and believing you could become one by cosplaying … sure, Kalos, but Sabrina literally turned Trainers into dolls and played with them.  Yeah … and considering she did it with her mother, took over her father’s Gym by force, and had a split personality, believing she was a doll herself … okay, Kanto can’t talk.  We got some odd eggs, too.

Rhea went over a few battles Valerie had and was impressed, but her Mawile was nothing like Mya.  Her Mawile was reserved, more defensive in her combat style compared to Mya’s raw aggression.  Still, she decided to check out a few more of her low-tier matches with Mawiles to see if anything changed between various others.

Valerie’s Mawile didn’t have Intimidate as an Ability, having Hyper Cutter.  That could have been a reason for the reserved attitude.  Finishing up a few matches before bed, she was caught a bit off-guard by Nova’s request to try transforming again.

Oh, goodness!  I almost forgot.  Yeah, let’s check it out, Nova!

Crawling out of her tent, she found Amira finishing up her night preparations, but Mallory was already fast asleep with her two Pokémon inside her closed tent.  Amira joined them after a moment.

Excitement rolled through Rhea’s link to Nova, but it soon became agitation, and she Evolved into Glaceon again, looking up at her with a worried frown.

You can’t turn into any of your other forms?

Nova shook her head, glaring at her two blade-like locks; by the time she communicated everything to Rhea, she reverted back into her Eevee state.

Apparently, she could feel a ton of others, but they were just out of reach; Glaceon was blocking them.  Amira suggested that perhaps they had to first master this transformation before another would become available; it gave them a chance to refine, which was good in her book.

Rhea encouraged and comforted a crying Nova; the crying Eevee wanted to change into all her pretty forms to get more cheers and attention.

Heading to bed shortly after, Rhea put her clothes beside her sleeping bag, sleeping in her underwear since they’d be in a hotel to wash it within a day or two.  Nova tucked into a ball down by her legs, crawling inside her with her.

Her Eevee’s evolution had cost nearly 18% of her safe energy before, but after Ho-Oh healed her, she gauged it only cost her 5%; it showed how damaged her fortitudes actually were and why her mother was still so worried about her.

It didn’t take long for her to drift into her wild dreams of riding a tower-sized Mya into battle against an army of ten thousand Dewpider.

Waking up at 6:06 A.M., she got ready with the others; it was now Thursday, the 17th.

No one at the camp challenged them before they hit the dirt trail, passing out of the meadow and into the thicker part of the path, rising in elevation to get to Dark City.

Rhea brought up Gardenia City and Contests again on their path, and Amira pulled up a map of the area, showing them a shortcut through the Shadow Woods between them and Dark City.  It was lit with electric lights along the path, managed by Dark City.

Amira was okay with going but didn’t want to participate, and so they changed their course.

A low hum shot through Rhea’s lips while staring at the ominous cast of Shadow Forest to their right.  “I mostly want to do the Battle Contests, the one where you have to win while making your Moves look flashy and pretty.”

“Oh,” Mallory’s eyes lit up.  “Yeah, that’s one of my favorite types of Contests, too!”

Amira gave them a side-long look.  “Types of Contests?  Eh … I don't follow.  Aren’t all Contests just the Trainer dressing up and doing some kind of talent show or something?”

“No, no, no!”  Rhea shook her head, blonde braided hair bobbing left and right as Nova walked by her side, talking with the others about how excited she was to participate.  “There are several Contest formats, and that is one, but the biggest ones are the battles.  You might win a match but lose the competition because the opponent had a better presentation of Moves!”

“Hmm … I don’t know if I like that,” Amira grumbled, pushing her red glasses up on her nose before extracting some gum from her bag.  “It sounds overly complicated; if you win a match, you should win, and does it count against your Battle Rating?”

Mallory shook her head.  “Not in Unova, and it’s really fun!  I think Gables and I will enter the Cool Competition.”  Gables jumped up to high-five Lori’s hand.  “We’ve been talking about some combos!  What about you, Rhea?”

“Eh … no, not really,” she forced a chuckle.  “I should probably go over some with Nova, but we’ve kind of been so busy lately.”

“True, true,” Lori giggled.  “Things are looking up, though!”

The conversation fell short, and Amira changed the subject.  “Hey … Lori.”

“Mmh?”  She asked, brushing out her hair after a breeze caught it.  “What’s up?”

“Did you purposefully lose your match?”

Rhea’s focus snapped to the redhead.  “Wait, what was that?”

Mallory sighed, but there was a slight grin on her lips.  “What makes you think that?  It’s not like Miky went in with the intent to lose.”

“Heh,” Amira glared at the purple-eyed girl.  “Yeah, but you came up with it when your opponent was competent enough to win.  Didn’t you?”

“Why?”  Rhea asked, watching Lori pull up her phone.

“Ah, well, Amira’s got a sharp eye and mind; that’s for sure,” she giggled.  “Why do you think I would do that?”

“Hmm…”  Amira’s lips fell into a frown.  “Our bounties … you broke our streak, which is making the people in the underground lose interest in us to a certain degree.”

“Bingo!”  Lori pulled down her glasses to wink.  “An undefeated group can draw some unsavory eyes, and I caught wind that some local gangsters were taking a look at us for bets.”

Rhea’s eyes widened.  “Oh … so, you gave that one Trainer the bounty money, and underground bet exchange went wild with your loss, right?”

“Mhm!  A lot of people are pulling their bets as we speak, and news spreads that our team has one loss.”

“Smart,” Amira mumbled.  “Although, not something I’d like to do, which … is why you took one for the team.”  She gave Lori a thankful smile.  “I didn’t think about it until you actually lost, and I analyzed your opponent.  You could have won.”

Mallory shrugged.  “But could I, though?  I mean, he was a Grimer, which is a pretty good counter to Miky.”

Amira shook her head.  “Right … well, here’s the path.”

Rhea’s lips tightened as they slowed, looking at a faintly lit pathway leading into Shadow Woods.  The towering trees were thick and without low-hanging branches, but the canopy blocked out all light.

“Here we go…”

Their journey was entirely without incident, but they couldn’t see any Pokémon in the pitch-black depths of the forest; the creepy sounds of Pokémon could be heard, though, which was a little gut-churning for Rhea.  She’d never traveled through a place so dark.

Finally, they came out at the other end, reaching Gardenia City around 9 P.M.  The registration center was closed, so they found a nearby hotel, booked a triple room, and went to bed.  Tomorrow was Friday, the 18th, a Competition night, and they should still be able to enter the lower brackets.


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