11:07 A.M. June 23, Wednesday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event)
Events: The Preliminaries for the Joint Kanto and Johto Indigo Summer League have concluded; 105 Trainers and their Pokemon have advanced from Bronze to Silver. A week of celebration is to follow, marked with events put on by the Indigo League, after which the Summer Round Robin Cup will begin, to crown the best of each Tier among those that advanced. The battles begin on the 27th. Rhea started her journey on the 9th of June—she’s been a Trainer for 15 Days.
Amira walked beside Lucian in silence; after a few insults, she’d lost the appetite to speak. If Mallory was right and he did like her, then he’d never get a girl to go out with him with this attitude and method.
In the end, all she wanted to do was see how his handsome face broke when he lost. She felt a little bad for his Pokemon, but they didn’t seem to be helping him shape up, so that was on them, too.
Rhea and the others were lagging behind, whispering to one another, likely upset with Lucian, yet that meant nothing if they were just going to let it go on. The only thing that would wake him up would be a hard defeat—not a brutal one.
The problem with Rhea’s performance was that her Mawile was too dominating; he could just brush it off as a fluke. Obviously, by his statements, his ego was hurt over the bet and not the loss—hitting his pocket and forcing him to budget or straight-up get him to return to Kalos. The looming possibility of giving up on their Bronze-tier journey was where he’d brought them in their little spat.
She had to have a solid win and not make it look completely one-sided, but enough to send a clear message. Only then would he actually wake up to reality, and maybe, just maybe, he’d learn to respect her more.
Her gaze shifted to the boy’s sour expression, staring straight ahead of them as they stopped at a street light, waiting for it to change colors; her environment was tinted by her red sunglasses, giving his complexion another hue.
He was playing on his phone, working through the local stadium’s website, and her eyes narrowed upon seeing a bit of what was on the page.
“You made reservations ahead of them?” she asked with tight lips. “For how long? Did you book the stadium the moment you lost to me?”
“... I didn’t lose to you,” he growled, sharp blue irises darting to her as the others stopped a bit further back. “No—I was planning on practicing with Len and Jason, but this came up.”
“Heh,” Amira looked away with a condescending smile directed across the busy street. “Right … You must think I’m stupid. You’re already low on credits after losing to us, so why book an expensive stadium to practice with your boys instead of just going into the forest and doing it for free and in private? You totally set this whole thing up.”
“Believe what you want,” he grunted, continuing to input the public battle listing.
A scoffing breath passed through Amira’s lungs. “Mhm.”
He was trying to pull in as many people as he could, prepping the reservation beforehand to get the pro and anti-Kalos crowds interested in watching his next public match. It would be broadcast on general forms, and hype would be passed around quickly, sending notifications about who he was challenging, which would draw even more people that would put it on their ‘Watch List.’
There was an issue with the coming battle that had Amira a little worried—his Piplup had a Type advantage over Amber, which meant he knew she’d go for her new Pokemon. She could put Amber in any way, trying to juke his next unknown pick, but that might backfire spectacularly. It wasn’t a good bet.
Holly was primarily her support, but at this level, it didn’t matter all that much with her raw Stats and everyone’s low Move Pool. On the other hand, she could outlast him if she could stall him with Leech Seed and defensive plays.
It was a 1v1, and if he did try to juke her by sending in Piplup, she’d demolish him with Holly—no, it had to be a battle between their new Pokemon.
The light turned red, and the crosswalk sign lit up, letting them know they could cross. A few eyes locked on them as they moved past, mainly focusing on Rhea and the cute unique Eevee in her arms. Amira’s attention was on a Weedle, though, inching along the ground with its Trainer.
… What if he got a Poison-type? Holly’s weak to them, and they’re all over Viridian Forest. Unless someone saw Holly and reported on it, then he wouldn’t know about her, and if he did know I had a Comfey, would he expect me to think he had a Poison-type to trick me into sending out Amber?
I’ll have to look up his Pokemon when he releases it to better grasp my options, but worrying about it won’t do me any good. … I need to give her a strategy.
Holly and Amber were sending her confident and cheerful feelings, telling her they’d win no matter what; she’d still like to work out a solid plan, though.
She told Holly what she was thinking on the way to the local stadium, preparing her for what she feared they were up against.
When they arrived at the building Amira folded her glasses and secured them between her breasts, staring around the interior with a dull expression.
It was pretty fancy, at least a Gold-tier Standard, which meant their base bet would need to be pretty big, and Lucian already put down the down payment on the reservation. He was planning on hitting her with a high credit bet; she just beat him to the punch.
“Mhm … You weren’t planning on this,” Amira said with a derisive smirk at the boy, who was folding his own flat glasses and tucking them into an inner jacket pocket.
“You can keep dreaming you’re the center of my universe,” Lucian replied, causing Amira’s jaw to lock.
What?! Dream … that I’m the center of HIS universe? No … calm down … calm down…
Releasing a hot, frustrated breath, Amira forced herself to snicker. “... And who’s dreaming now?” She folded her arms, tilting her head to smirk at him as they made it to the check-in counter; they were drawing a lot more eyes now. “... Since you brought up dreams, is that where all this vitriol is coming from? Are you damaged? Keep dreaming about me winning and hoping to confront your trauma?”
“... Damaged?” He sucked in a deep breath, giving her a clearly forced smile as they got in line behind the only other person at the desk. “Heh—is that what your Rocket delusional brain thinks? Are you telling yourself that in hopes to be some kind of savior like how these stupid Kanto people see your family? Sad.”
Amira couldn’t unlock her jaw as she grunted a laugh, trying to play off his insult. “Mhm-hm-hm-hm.”
It took several seconds of watching the boy’s smug smile before she could talk again, trying not to show how tense she felt. As they stepped forward to check-in, she mumbled, “Obviously, you don’t know a thing about Kanto or Rocket.”
“Why would I waste my time?” Lucian grunted, his expression putting on a bright mask upon stepping up to the woman at the front desk. “Ah, the reservation is under Lucian.”
The woman turned her gaze from the departing Trainer pair, making their way to their own room for a battle. “Welcome. Ah. Give me a moment to look that up … Yes, I see you’ve booked in advance—good, I’ll slide you into the priority spot—there!”
She looked up at both of their cheery masks as she held up a charging scanner. “Will your opponent—Oh, Ms. Rocket! I only just noticed you,” she sheepishly chuckled. “It’s a pleasure to have your patronage.”
Lucian’s lips twitched a bit that she was recognized, yet he was just another Trainer passing through.
“Do I know you?” Amira gave the woman a thoughtful look; she didn’t, but it would be infuriating to Lucian. “Becky … Hmm, I’m not sure I’ve seen you around Viridian.”
The woman’s smile faltered a little, holding up her hands. “Oh, no, no, no! I just own a lot of your family’s products—a lot of the medical stuff Rocket invented really helped my grandparents with their pain.”
“Ah,” Amira nodded, but her head tilted a little to catch Hannah with her phone out again, typing away with a big grin on her face. “Yeah … My grandmother handles a lot of the management on the medical front of Rocket. There should be a more efficient and less intrusive oxygen concentrator device than the current model. I know Pewter buys quite a few for those that suffer from AMS in the area.”
Becky’s eyes lit up. “Mhm! My cousins usually get a bit of altitude sickness when they come through, and it can hurt our tourist margins a bit, too. Rocket’s really helped Pewter grow since I was a little girl. Thank you.”
Amira laughed it off, trying not to blush; it was rare that she got comments like this in Viridian since most people took their presence for granted. “No, I don’t have anything to do with the business side of Rocket.”
“Right, sorry,” Becky returned the laugh. “I was just a bit surprised to see you here—Bronze-tier Trainers usually go to the less expensive stadiums around Pewter.”
“Ahem,” Lucian cut in, pulling her focus back. “We are on a schedule, Ms. Becky.”
“Ah! Right, right … umm, will you accept the charge, Ms. Rocket? The Stage base fee of 1,000 credits with a 5% charge of the winning party’s bet. What will that bet be?”
Amira knew it; Lucian’s Battle Rank showed that he’d battled a dozen Trainers over the past fifteen days. He was building up just enough credits to challenge her and the Gym. “If it’s 1,000 credits, then the bet will be for 2,000…”
“2,000?” Lucian asked with a lifted eyebrow, turning to give her a small smirk. “Didn’t you agree to 3,000 before?”
Really?! “Hmm…” Amira’s arms tightened under her chest as she studied the boy. He can’t have that much to bet. I had 8,710, dropping down to 5,710 for the Encrusted Challenge. If we bump it up to 4,000, then I’d be down to 1,710 if I lost. Has he really been able to recover enough from the Starter Award loss to make this bet?
Becky glanced between them and the small line gathering behind their large group.
Amira chuckled, holding up her phone for the charge. “If that’s what you want. 3,000 credits, Becky.”
“Wow,” she imputed the data with a concerned frown. “4,000 credits in all, and you need to do the Gym challenge? Umm … yeah, that’s the highest amount we’ve seen in the Bronze Division at your rank—he-he, uh … it seems there’s already a 178,000 credit pot between people betting on your match.”
Lucian nodded. “Heh, yeah—I saw that 5,000 people have already listed that they’d watch it. It should be quite a show,” he said with a slight grin at Amira.
“Not the kind you’re hoping for,” Amira replied, putting away her phone with the hope her credit flow wouldn’t hit this low ever again.
Becky printed a ticket and motioned to them to the right. “... If you follow the hall to the second level, your Battle Stage is B-7—it will be to your right. It is scheduled as a 1v1 with a time limit of 5 minutes upon release. One of our official referees will be on sight to judge the contest. I hope you have a pleasant match, and thank you for choosing Pewter Gold Star Stadium!”
Amira caught Mallory whispering to Jay as they moved away from the desk and toward the stairs that would lead to their area. “Did you see the way he looked at her?”
“Eh … I’m just a little confused why the two are raging Tauros? What’s the beef?”
Rhea was a little ways away from Jason while her friends hovered nearby, Hannah paying close attention to her. She had the distinct impression the girl admired her since they spent time together in Viridian Forest.
Air hissed through Mallory’s teeth. “Yeah … he did basically call every Starter Award girl ugly, so he’s kind of been dunked in Grimer ever since.”
“Ew…” Jay mumbled, scratching her stomach. “He really said that?”
“Mmh…” One of Len’s eyes creased a little. “I mean—okay, Lori, I can see why you’d think that, but he didn’t mean it like that.”
“Bro … Defending him?” Mallory asked in surprise.
He groaned, rubbing the back of his neck as they climbed the stairs. “Yo, I’m just sayin’, he’s not as bad as I thought—for the most part, but he does have some beef with Amira. He’s totally different when you guys aren’t around.”
“So it’s our fault?” Lori asked, her arms crossed under her bust.
A strained laugh shook his body. “I didn’t say that, Lori … Oh—you’re pissed about him dismissing Cass. For real, he was just trying to pick a fight with Amira, though, not every girl there.”
“He should have been clearer with his words, then,” Lori huffed. “Anyone with eyes could see Amira’s got the looks and fashion to put most girls to shame, and he comes on to her like that—he might as well have insulted all women. Is he gay?”
Lucian seemed to be picking up on the same conversation because he wore an exasperated expression, yet he didn’t try to address it. He might have been surprised Len was even sticking up for him at all, which showed more about the character of Lori’s best friend and how open he was at speaking his mind, even if unpopular.
Amira was more stunned at how highly Mallory had been praising her lately—between her looks, voice, and family, she might as well have been perfect. Honestly, it was a bit uncomfortable.
She’d been ragged on by the media and school kids for so long that the sudden shower of praise her teammates gave her came as a whip-lash, especially the way others treated her outside of Viridian; the contrast was shocking.
“Are you gay?” Amira asked, shooting him a thoughtful smile.
With a straight face, Lucian said, “No … What’s up with girls thinking every guy that rejects them is gay?”
“Huh? Heh, when did I ever ask you out—ah, another dream. Still, you say that, but you could have fooled me,” Amira mused, yet all she got was a frustrated glare and pink cheeks before he turned away from her.
Are you guys ready to show him what we’re about? Amira asked, walking into the stadium.
* * *
Holly was a swirl of confidence, with Amber continually hyping her up.
“You are going to destroy him, Holly!”
Yeah! But umm … can I be friends after, though? I mean, we’re totally going to win! We’ve been practicing, and Amira’s incredible! I just … you know, want to be friends with everyone.
“Hmm … I don’t know about his Piplup. He's rather … He’s an arrogant fool if you ask me, but his new Pokemon might be nice … it’s possible.”
Mmh … you don’t sound convinced. I mean, Star was ALWAYS super confident, and we’d practice and practice, but Butterfree beat us every time. We were still friends, though.
“That’s quite a bit different than our relationship to Lucian’s Pokemon,” Amber chuckled. “Still, if you want to be friends, and they’re cool with it, then I won’t stop you.”
Okay! I’ll ask and see if they want to play!
The pair hushed as they saw the stadium through Amira’s eyes; it wasn’t nearly as big as the crazy big Contest one that Nova, Gables, and Poppy entered, but it was still pretty big.
Hundreds of people were getting seated around the area to watch as Amira took the long way to the opposite Trainer Box. A black-haired man in a striped shirt sat at an electrical station, neatly situated inside the wall.
The field was an ample, sectioned-out, marked space that was only slightly smaller than the Contest Hall. There was closely trimmed grass across the area with an outer stone walkway.
She was a little taken aback by some of the shouts she heard from the people; some were booing Lucian and some Amira.
Why don’t they like us?
Amber yawned. “I … I don’t know. It’s the same everywhere, though. Humans will cheer for one side and yell at another.”
I want to cheer everyone on…
“That’s fine. Most humans aren’t like you, though.”
Oh, yeah … I shouldn’t be saying everyone should be like me … that’s mean.
“He-he, you’re precious, Holly,” Amira giggled. “I can feel you wishing Lucian good luck. Thanks for the perspective. In the end, we should finish this little spat here and get over it. How does that sound?”
I like that! We can all be friends! Holly cheered.
“Eh…” Amber sighed. “I wouldn’t go that far—at least we wouldn’t be enemies.”
That’s a good start, Holly chimed.
She could feel Amira’s gut tighten. “It’s about to start, Holly. There’s no announcer—no guy calling things out like the Contest match; this guy on the side of the field is just there to make sure everyone follows the League rules. Are you ready?”
“Just remember, we’re playing the defensive game until I know what we’re dealing with.”
Yup! Keep my distance, and blow him away until further instruction. Got it, partner!
“He-he, alright. Here. We. Go!”
Holly pulled away from Amira’s vision as her pokeball was thrown to the left side of the stadium.
She reformed outside of her pokeball, spinning in a circle with a bright smile before staring across the field at a Pokemon she knew all too well from her time in Viridian … She was facing a Venonat, one of the early Pokemon Star, and she had trouble with back in their area.
“Muk…” Amira mumbled. “Keep dancing around the field until I can figure out what Moves it has—prioritize dodging any kind of Poison attacks if you can catch them.”
I know how to fight this one! Holly cheered. They’re tough, but we win all the time in Viridian Forest; they’re super slow, too … Although, Star was super, super slow. I had to protect him a lot, and they have this thing that stops me from using Moves.
“Mmh? If you know about Venonat, then just be careful; this one is probably stronger than the ones you fought.”
Alright, I’ll be on my guard, partner!
“Go get him, Holly!” Amber cheered.
The Venonat didn’t waste a moment, hopping across the field in short bursts, which wasn’t all that quick to Holly.
She giggled while preparing an attack and dodging around his leaps, but her lips fell a little when his strange eyes shimmered with an inner red light—he was trying to better track her movements, but the pattern of his buggy eyes also told her that he was the type of Venonat that was hard to dodge.
Knowing it would probably disable the first Move she did, like the Wild Venonat, Holly started to hum her lullaby that would protect her from hard hits for a short while, spinning through the air as he chased her, preparing another Move. A small white film surrounded her body.
“Hello. Hello!” he shouted in a much higher-pitched voice than she was expecting. “I am Chance, the storm of the Venonat, hidden in the leaves! I am the flash in the night sky! The shadow under the bush!”
“Hello, the shadow under the bush! I’m Holly,” she replied, keeping her distance with the two vines that shot out from underneath her waving hair.
He wasn’t using his disable Move, which perplexed her. Instead, he shot out a short scream that sent a small circular wave at her.
“Supersonic! Dodge it, Holly!”
She barely managed to spin in a circle, causing it to pass through the center hole. “He-he, close one, the storm of the Venonat. Do you think we can be friends?” she asked.
Chance was doing a remarkable job dodging her vines, hopping across the ground in quick, sharp angles that made it difficult to predict.
“The storm is a lonely life, but occasionally other clouds join him!”
“Huh?” Holly was utterly thrown off by the statement, and a short burst of light green encircled him before a haze of red began spreading across the field. It was slow, but everywhere he hopped, the mist followed. The crowd’s cheers rose at the sight of it.
“Is that … Rage Powder? No—that’s the Move to look out for, Holly! You can’t let it touch you. If a certain amount is absorbed, you’ll lose track of my voice...”
This is new… Holly commented, spinning in a circle to create a tornado to blow it away.
He was sweeping across the field, creating a wall of the red powder that was trapped inside the barrier; the guy was somehow predicting her movements, too. It vanished after a time but remained long enough to draw her into a corner.
“I am the madness incarnate—bringer of the crimson light!”
Comfey giggled as her gust sent all of the haze back across the field. “You remind me of…”
Amira’s explanation cut off as a dark shadow surrounded the Venonat, and she felt something wrap around her ability to cast Leaf Tornado.
No … Why’d he choose that one?! She cried.
No Pokemon had locked her out of her wind attack in Viridian Forest. Her focus lifted to Lucian, standing on the platform while observing the conflict; his arms were folded across his chest, and a small smile was on his lips.
Holly hugged her chest, feeling a little unsure what to do now that her big Move had been locked out; she couldn’t do enough damage without it.
Amira’s voice took on a calm, calculating tone as he prepared to blanket the field with the powder again. “Okay, Holly, I know you’re panicking a little, and that’s fine, but I need you to focus and listen to me.”
O-Okay … W-What do I do? Star always made really big attacks—I just helped!
“You’re doing great!” Amber encouraged.
“Holly … He’s going to make you angry—madder than you’ve ever felt, and you’re not going to be able to hear me.”
I don’t want that! Holly shivered, doing her best to keep him at a distance with her vines, but the haze was creeping past, drawing closer and closer.
“We need to outlast him, but he’s going to make you reckless. Be as angry as you want—rage, but repeat this for me … Leech Seed will make him mad, Flower Shield will make him mad, Wrap will make him mad…”
Alright … Leech Seed, Flower Shield, Wrap will … will… She prepared the first one, shooting it off, but he dodged the bright beam of light, and suddenly, the mist was around her.
All she saw was red, vision centering on the infernal thing in front of her. “Y-You dodged it … Why did you dodge it?!” she yelled as a red glow surrounded her white aura. “I’m so much faster! How did you dodge it!”
“He-he-he, the shadow cannot be caught by the wind!” he replied, jumping forward with a white force generated in front of him.
“I—I don’t know what you’re talking about!” she growled.
It was as if she hadn’t gotten enough sleep for days, was stressed about not backing Star up, and it hadn’t stopped raining for a week, so she couldn’t see the sun—Chance was a HORRIBLE person for doing this to her!
“You’re mean! You’re, umm—you’re ugly! You throw smelly spicy stuff everywhere!” she ranted, shooting off more Leech Seeds for him to dodge. He slammed into her, causing them both to fly back, and she struck the wall with a grunt. It only served to further incite her.
“You hit me! How could you be so rude! I’m supposed to be hit last!”
“Mua-ha-ha-ha! The madness takes you!”
She clenched her small hands close to her chest while rising up. “I’m Holly, not madness!”
Weaving through the lingering haze, she dodged another attack, wrapping around his form. “He-he-he—can’t dodge me now!”
“Ugh … Ha-ha! Fool! It is you that cannot dodge!” He screamed in her ear, causing her to become dizzy and loosen her grip.
The white force exploded around him as he jumped forward, knocking her back again.
“Mmgghhh!!” Again, it wasn’t much damage, but it was slowly eating away at her shield. “Ha! Ha-haha! You know what I’m gonna do?!” she said, dodging around an attack while glaring at them. “I’m gonna suck all the happiness out of you—cause I wanna be happy, so … make me happy by disappearing!”
Everything was dizzy, and there were two of the accursed fuzz balls closing in on her, but she just had to pick one—getting around one would be fine. She encircled him, sliding around Chance’s attack.
“Wha—How did you catch the shadow?!” he gasped, struggling in her grip.
While he was gripped by her body, she launched a Leech Seed onto him. “He-he-he … I just needed to catch one of you!” she woozily stated, gripping him tighter as she felt his energy slowly feeding into her. “Struggle, little bug—yes, struggle in my arms—give me back the happiness you took!” she giggled, her head light as the clouds. “... Huh…”
He somehow slipped out of her grip—she only lost a few seconds—was it only a few seconds? She was being sent flying across the field again, her mind clearing, but the moment her vision started to clear, the red mist and his loud yell rattled her brain again.
“A-Again?! I … w-where’d you go?!” she asked, not being able to find him in the powder with her blurry eyes. She was now running into the ground. “Wasn’t I … trying to go up?”
“G-Get your gross vines off me, temptress!” Chance yelled, rolling around the ground as her seed constricted around his body, sapping his strength and feeding it back to her in small green clumps of energy.
“W-Who’s Temptress? Me?! I’m Holly! Remember my name! It’s important!” she shouted, throwing out drunken whips that missed all three of him. “How do you do the—the multiple—image thing … You’re mean like those girls! Yeah! Meanie!”
Chance’s copies slowly fused together as her spinning head normalized, and she shot out another Leech Seed again; he had managed to get the last one off. “Where … There you are! Ha-ha! Yes, feel my wrath! I am the flower of Viridian Forest! Fear my petals!” she shouted.
In frustration, he got back up, and Holly felt her Move return. “Eat leaves!”
A gale erupted in the center of her spinning body as she grabbed her tail, sending him and the powder tumbling back across the field. In hot satisfaction, she saw the agitation on his Trainer’s face for a moment before returning her vision to the Venonat. “It’s time to … ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”
“He-he-he-he!” Chance laughed as shadows surrounded him again, and she was locked out of Leaf Tornado. “The winds are restrained, my Lord!”
“Who are you talking to?! Am I invisible?!” She launched more Leech Seeds at him and could tell his shield was failing due to his careful movements. “Ha! I’m getting to you!”
“To attack the shadow is to attack the wind…”
A smirk lifted Comfey’s mouth as she dodged another Supersonic and planted a seed on his back; he wasn’t getting this one off that easily. “You’re finished!” Vines extended to whip the infuriating Pokemon as they danced through the red mist.
Power filled her from time to time; she had no clue where it came from, but it was invigorating—it was as if the world itself wanted her to make this Venonat vanish off its surface. He was chipping her down, even with Leech Seed, though, and she was starting to feel each blow.
At 35% of her shield, she wrapped around Chance, vines sucking his energy out, and in a final combo, she squeezed, whipped, and sucked the last of the Venonat’s defensive matrix, shattering it.
He fainted in her death grip. “Ha! Ha! Ha-ha-ha-ha … n-no … no!” Tears welled up in her eyes as her tinted vision faded, and she lowered him to the ground in a panic. “I—What was I saying—I’m sorry! You’re not ugly! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
“Excellent work!” Amira praised. “Holly?”
W-Why was I so angry? I just—I’ve never said such horrible things! I’m an awful Pokemon! I’m sorry, Amira! I’m sorry, Amber!
“No! You did great!” Amber comforted as Amira talked to Lucian; Holly was too focused on how terrible and sharp her words were.
Her head lifted in panic as a red beam recalled Chance. “I … N-No! Please, I need to say sorry to him! I’m so, so sorry!”
“He was making you say those things, Holly! He was the mean one that made you say those things—although, they weren’t really wrong. He isn’t the best-looking Pokemon.”
But … But he’s not ugly! You’re not supposed to call Pokemon ugly—Butterfree taught us that. Oh, my goodness—Butterfree wouldn’t even recognize me anymore!” She started to cry, looking up as someone started nuzzling the side of her face.
“Holly! Holly! What’s wrong?!” Nova asked, tears wetting her fur. “Where does it hurt? Rhea will give you a potion! Do you want a berry or something?!”
Holly reached out to hug her friend. “I—I’m horrible, Nova! Star’s gonna hate me!”
She stiffened as she heard her bestest friend’s voice. He jumped down from the stands with a few of their new friends, their Trainers focused on Amira and Lucian.
“That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout, Holly!” Star cheered, dancing over to her. “You pulled up and showed that hater what’s up!”
“W-What?” Holly asked, eyes wide as she looked at her grinning friends.
Gables chuckled, giving her a thumbs up. “Yeah, he was all tryin’ ta sneak a win, but you were all, I’m here now, do somethin’!”
Mya turned both of her smirking lips to the boy they’d just beat, glaring at the console in front of him. “You should have heard the things he was telling Amira as they battled—Nova told us.”
“Yeah! He was so mean! Telling her how—how you looked stupid when you’re so pretty!”
“H-He said that?” Holly asked, tears bubbling up in her eyes again. “... I just … I just want friends.”
“I’d super zap him!” Mimi huffed, sparks dancing at her cheeks.
“Yeah,” Mya licked her lips. “Tasting a little bit of his flesh might be good.”
Star walked over and rubbed her cheek with a small smile. “Aye, Holly—you were a superstar! Don’t be sad. Esskeetit, and go snatch our next victory at the Gym, too! Then we party!” He grinned, moving in to hug her.
She still felt a bit discouraged by her actions. “I—I’m not a bad Pokemon?”
“Never!” Star soothed. “You’re my bestest friend.”
“... Thanks, bestest friend…”
“Don’t forget us,” Amber whispered, moving in to snuggle next to her with the rest of her friends.
* * *
Lucian’s fingers shook with rage against the console, doing his best to remain composed, but he’d just about lost everything; he was mad enough to scream but sad enough to cry. It was like he was walking on a tightrope without a net and kept falling.
He looked up to find Amira and the girls that surrounded her with smiles on their faces—happy people—all with real nice lives, friends, and family.
This was supposed to be the break—the chance to finally get his parents to recognize him, yet instead, he was staring up at the people that hated him. It’s not like he could blame them, but it would have been easier if he could just get his parents’ attention.
Of course, this was probably another broadcast his mother skipped out on because she was too busy for him between being an actress, Kalos’s Champion, and dealing with the public; it was like everything he did only returned him a worthless glance his way.
Meanwhile, he’d heard endless stories about how close the Rocket family was. Not to mention Rhea, who had Cynthia, a world legend, and the Sinnoh Active Champion seemed to have all the time in the world to spend with Bianca, at least from what the News reported—everyone had someone but him.
His father was so busy with discovering new recipes, his 5-star restaurant, and the League to even notice him except for trying to get him to enjoy his craft—Lucian hated cooking, yet it was the only way he could find personal time. At least that was easier than spending more than five minutes with his mother before she was off again—she rarely even slept at home.
He was at the bottom of a pond, staring up at all the happiness in the sky, high above him—he hadn’t even broken the surface of the water, much less the sky.
Cobalt tried to comfort him, but all he saw was the girls ruining everything for him. Look at them, Cobalt—they take their happiness for granted and force me down with a boot to watch their shining, happy lives…
Reaching into his pocket, he grabbed his small case and shook out one of his anxiety pills, and popped it into his mouth, chewing it up and swallowing.
Muk … it’s cool when everything’s going right in your life. It’s easy to endure when you’ve got friends—who else loves me but you, Cobalt?
Pressure gripped his chest as Amira snickered across the private speakers; everyone was filing out, either booing him or cheering Amira on since they lost credits on their match.
“Well—that wasn’t even close, and look at that—7 minutes. Looks like you were wrong.”
Lucian wanted to explode on her with the adrenaline-filled venom coursing through his veins, but he only barely held himself back. “... I suppose we were both wrong.”
“I was going off your judgment—I suppose it was bound to be trife with that in mind. I’ve learned my lesson.”
“Mmgh…” he grumbled in response, holding back the liquid in his eyes; she really had a vicious mouth for such a pretty face.
What did he care about the worthless catcalls of the public; they were with you when you were winning, and the moment you're broke, and on a losing streak, they were stabbing your back with a sneer.
Amira, on the other hand, had everything he wanted—her words cut deep. Of course, she knew how it worked. It was cool to be the girl in the spotlight—everyone went easier on women. They fawned over his mother, pulling her attention away from him—leaving him alone in a cold mansion.
Taking out another pill, he released a hot puff of air before taking it and returning the smile. “Seems you’ve got it all…”
He glared down at her Comfey; it was so discouraging. He had the Type advantage—but no Poison Moves. The rage-confusion-disable strat was supposed to net him a win; they’d been practicing it religiously for three days. Amira’s Pokemon didn’t even have a plan, yet its more diverse Move Pool and Stat advantage edged out its victory—it was infuriating.
Everyone has it so easy…
Chance woke up in his ball, expressing his sadness that he lost after they’ve been practicing so much.
Hmm … It’s not your fault, Chance—you were brilliant. Give it a bit more time and experience—you’ll waste that Comfey. Don’t sweat it. Cobalt … Are you ready to dominate the Gym? We can’t do the Encrusted Challenge anymore, but that’s fine. We’ll work our way back—Why did I even bother trying to win back my honor in any case … It’s not like any of the family is watching.
Lucian left the stadium without his team, heading for the Gym; he’d saved all his money for this—bet almost everything on the hope that he could prove to himself it was a fluke, and maybe, just maybe, someone in his family was watching.
All the preparation, the work he put in, yet—his cousin was the only one that followed the personal link he sent to them on social media … Perhaps, that was a blessing, in the end.
He had to find another way to get their attention—he’d do anything to get his mother to even call him once without reason.