1:29 P.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.
Rhea passed by Mallory, the purple-haired girl gave her a bright smile, and the light swapped to Rhea a moment later; their match was incredible—compared to everyone they’ve faced so far, Forrest’s Pokemon were on another level.
Giovanni’s battle style was completely different, utilizing everything at his disposal with Pokemon of much lower strength than his opponent. It was the type of match that made you depressed with how outclassed you were.
On the other hand, Forrest utilized Pokemon with Moves that complemented each other and showed those that challenged his Gym how wrong it was to assume having a Type advantage meant it was a sure victory.
Amira and Lori were supposed to have an easy win, yet their battles were intense from start to finish, and they barely made it out on top. She was really starting to worry about what Pokemon he’d choose since he knew all their Pokemon.
None of that meant anything to her roaring ball of molten steel, jumping around in her pokeball; all her friend’s matches had shown the Mawile was that she should expect at least a ‘moderate’ challenge.
Her ears were ringing, making it hard to hear the announcer as he shouted about the things she’d done and what was reported online.
Sabin’s here … Sabin and Katelin … All my friends … Mya, we have to take this seriously.
Her Mawile huffed, sending back feedback that she took everything seriously; she was just the best—who had beaten her? No one.
Nova tried to offer Rhea some support, hoping to deflate a little of her teammate’s hot air, but it only met Mya’s steel wall of pride. Rhea didn’t like to entertain the thought they’d lose—she was, though, and it wouldn’t be the worst thing … Her brother’s presence just made it all the more difficult to swallow.
She made it up the stairs to the lift, which then rose into the air until it was level with Forrest, giving her a full scope of the ravaged field; the ice had already melted, leaving stone fragments everywhere of broken pillars. Then, taking a deep breath, she put her pokeballs in the machine.
Forrest was ignoring the announcer, fingers sliding across the display in front of him with a frown as the drawer slid open to allow his selection of Pokemon—he didn’t touch it. The private connection between them opened while the announcer went over highlights of the previous matches, drawing comparisons and hype for the upcoming battle.
His calm voice only reached her ears as the crowd cheered at various moments of Amira and Mallory’s fights. “... Rhea, my brother warned me in advance about your boosted stats and gave me his advice, but I was not expecting this … Giovanni even made a note, which I think is too harsh. Do you have anything to add?”
Mya was telling her to scream, ‘bring it on,’ but Rhea dismissed the taunt. “Giovanni said it would be challenging—I’d like to think he was looking out for me … He is Amira’s grandfather.”
“Mhm … Giovanni is a very skilled Trainer—better than me, I can confidently say. However, you must understand him, Rhea … It is the fact you are his granddaughter’s teammate that will cause him to put you at a higher skill to push you forward for Amira’s sake. He is recommending Grade 6, Rhea.”
Rhea had no clue what the standard system really implied on a reference scale below Platinum—she rarely ever witnessed Bronze to Gold matches. “To be honest … I don’t know exactly how strong that is. My friend and I beat a Low Silver-tier in Viridian Forest…”
She could barely see Forrest shake his head from across the field, just above the pillars that dotted the landscape. “A wild battle and a Gym Challenge aren’t even in the same ballpark, Rhea. Normal Bronze-tier Trainers, starting out just like you, would be facing Janine or Sabrina—their 5th or 6th Badge by Grade 6. Amira and Mallory were facing Grade 3 Pokemon, skilled Grade 3, but at that level, nonetheless. I’m leaning toward Grade 4, personally—you don’t have near the amount of experience for Grade 6 yet—are you sure you want to go through with this?”
Everything he warned about had Mya more hyped … her Mawile would be emotionally hurt if she didn’t accept the challenge. Rhea took a slow breath, knowing this was going to end badly, but it was a partnership, and Mya wasn’t going to back down from this one; she was lucky her Mawile wasn’t demanding to go higher for doubting her power.
Mya … We’ve talked about this … There’s a cut-off point where you can’t use any more of my energy, and once we hit that point, you have to stop, or I’ll need to return you to your ball and forfeit myself.
Mya rubbed her spirit with a confident hand, telling her she had all that under control now, asking her to remember the Nidorino and how they were a team.
“... I’d like to face a lower grade, Forrest, but I can’t back down … We’ll give it our best!”
Forrest’s expression tightened as he selected their opponent from the drawer that popped open. “Rhea … I’ll be putting you against a high Grade 6 Pokemon. At this stage, there are things I’m supposed to do to prepare Trainers for the battles ahead, especially for what they might face in the League … Good luck.”
* * *
Mya cheered, fire in her chest, and Rhea finally relented, resolving herself to push beyond what this Gym person wanted; they wouldn’t be held back, and if she did wimp out, then she couldn’t look her friends in the face—everyone knew she was a winner, and that’s all that mattered to her.
Through Rhea’s eyes, Mya saw Forrest give an understanding nod and swap the coms back to the stadium, silencing the announcer. “Rhea, you have selected a single’s match, one Pokemon … Do you accept?”
“That’s right!” Mya roared. “I don’t even have to try—Rhea, we got this, easy.”
Mya’s chest thumped with anticipation as Rhea’s left hand closed around her capsule, lifting her out. “Winning is what we do.”
The deep-voiced announcer picked up, causing Mya’s chest to puff up in her ball. “Here we have it, folks. Rhea has never lost a single round outside of an unexpected Contest entry with her Eevee in Gardenia City.
“We can’t count that, though; anyone who’s a Contest follower and saw that performance knows the Johto Stars that have dominated the Johto Bronze League, earning two Encrusted Badges last season! So now, we have the Mystery Starter, Rrrrhhheaaa verses Pewter City’s Gyyymmm Leader, Forreeest Harrrrisooon!”
“Huh? I don’t know any Johto stars; better count my wins again,” Mya grinned inside her pokeball; the crowd was deafening—louder than any event they’d been to previously.
“C’mon, Mya,” Nova grumbled. “You heard him; they were super strong.”
“They’d give up if they were against me,” Mya laughed. “We’ve got this, Rhea! Trust me; we win, win, win, win, and that’s it!”
The announcer paused for the hype. “Three. Two. One. Begin!” A second after Rhea threw her ball, Mya’s visual connection to her Trainer pulled away, and she was released.
Feet landing on the hard stone floor of the arena, she released a loud roar of excitement. “Here we go!”
Intimidation swept across the field in a threatening wave, yet at the same time, a compressing weight sank into her chest. Her grinning jaws snapped shut as she leered across the arena at her opponent, and Rhea sent a pulse of her energy into Mya, strengthening her Ability.
“... We’re facing a Pokemon with a stronger energy matrix than what’s at our level; any Status Move is going to require more power than normal.”
Just like the Nidorino; yeah, been there, done that.
Her slick tongue slid between her lips as colossal boulders lifted up from behind the stone columns and dirt mounds; it took a moment for her to recognize it as a Pokemon with how massive it was.
This is the type of Pokemon I should be facing! Mya laughed, rubbing her hands together before rushing the rocky monster, large stone head hovering 4-meters above the ground as intense black eyes fixated on her.
The announcer’s voice rang out across the stadium before Mya tuned him out. “Rhea throws out Mya, her devastating Mawile that we saw in the Starter Contest, and Gym Leader Forrest selects … Merrock … REALLY?! Merrock has entered the stadium, ladies, and gentlemen! We’ve got a storm on our hands!”
“An Onix…” Rhea mumbled, utterly perplexed at his choice. “I’m pretty sure they’re weak to a ton of Moves you have … Yeah, but I can also feel his aura … He’s definitely stronger than the ones that fought Amira and Lori. But, wait … are you being slowed?!”
Now on the move, Mya’s smile fell a little as she ran between upturned mounds, broken pillars, and scattered debris. Rhea was right; her movements felt a bit sluggish.
I guess … It’s annoying, but whatever; heh, it’s not like it’s going to help him … Which Move should I use?
“Mmh … I know Ice Fang should be super effective … Let me look him up and compare you to the possible Moveset he has.”
I’ll just be owning him while you do that.
Merrock grunted at her advance. “Fool. You should have taken Forrest’s offer.”
The Onix opened its mouth and let loose a high-pitched screech, sending white waves at her. They were surprisingly fast; she’d lose momentum if she tried ducking behind a rock, and so she retaliated with her own roar.
“Scared?” Mya snickered, wincing as the wave lowered her Defense; however, Merrock dropped to the ground, causing her attack to be absorbed by the stone pillars. Stupid height.
She lost sight of him as the sound of crushing rocks filled the air, Merrock snaking around the tall remaining pillars on the right side—he was much faster than her.
Jumping on top of a nearby mound to survey the right side of the gigantic stadium, Mya’s eyes narrowed, scanning the stone markers. “... Coward! Where…”
Mya smirked as a profound brown aura surrounded the Onix, only twenty feet away from her; frost exited her second mouth. “Finally ready to … What?”
Merrock spun around on the ground, causing a horrible noise as pillars broke and dust exploded around them—a sudden gale burst against Mya’s body, tiny fragments of stone harmlessly bouncing off her body.
She watched the current cameras circling the field retreat for new ones as the roaring wind increased with his movements; Mya threw up her hands as sand and wind filled the space, blinding her.
“You … You have to be kidding me!” Rhea gasped. “Sandstorm … At our level? Is this even legal? Mya, it does Rock-Type damage to—No, you’re Steel-Type! You’re immune to it. My aunt can this thing last forever, but I have no clue how long this will continue at our level—this is bad, though … really bad.”
The announcer’s voice was swallowed by the wind, and the crowd disappeared in the haze of sand. Mya’s nose creased, grimace turning her lips. “This is nothing! I’ll just blow it away!”
She pulled in Rhea’s energy before twisting her hips and jumping, spinning in a circle as she generated a gale of her own; however, she hovered longer in the air than she anticipated because of the weight causing her Moves and movements to be sluggish.
What is this thing…
Her attack parted the sand for a moment, but her Fairy-Type energy was soon eaten away; the Onix was nowhere in sight—she could hear him, though. Stone against stone ripped past the biting dust, stirring around in the air, but he was so quick.
She couldn’t see more than ten feet ahead of her as she tried navigating the blizzard; her icy fangs collapsed as the energy ran its course, fragmented ice carried off by the wind.
I … I can’t see him … Where am I, Rhea…
“Calm down—stay cool.”
“Coward! Hiding in the sand … You are scared of me! Face me head … bleh … Come at…”
Mya jumped in the air, not knowing if she should go up or to the side; Merrock burst through the sandstorm—right in her face—fierce silver aura erupting around his body. Her jaws reached back to a nearby pillar, but the weight of the Onix’s Ability pressing against her body only allowed her to latch onto the rocky surface before he struck.
The stone crumbled in her mouth as Mya’s eyes widened in shock—there wasn’t a thing she could compare it to; nothing had hit her like this silver battering ram. All the air in Mya’s lungs was forcefully expelled as 61% of her defensive matrix was blown away. Mya rocketed through two pillars, dirt erupting around her as a mound stopped her.
Mya coughed, rolling to her side as Rhea screamed into her disoriented mind; the sand was making her lose focus of everything.
“Dive to the right.”
Following the instructions on instinct, she dodged a charged white tackle the Onix made before disappearing into the storm again.
Reorienting herself in the shifting environment, Mya’s heart started to beat faster. “I … I can’t see him, Rhea … All I see is sand—the rocks…”
Four glowing stones appeared from Mya’s aura as she launched them at the resounding crash of rock against rock, trying to aim at the sound the Onix made while moving; she had no clue if they hit or not. “He’s too fast…” Probably the most disturbing thing was the Pokemon’s silence in the howling gale; he wasn’t showing off or yelling—only the sound of crashing stone and sharp wind reached her ears.
“Calm down, Mya … He has a rare Ability for Onix called Frighten that’s been slowly working against you—Your defensive matrix is nowhere near strong enough to repel it like he’s doing to your Intimidate.
“Look, Mya, my dad once said to look for the glow of your opponent’s energy, not him, when in blind battles like this … Once you see it, dodge.”
Mya took deep breaths, but the sand was agitating her nose and made her head spin—she saw the light. Merrock’s flaring silver aura illuminated two dozen feet away, and Mya ran to the right, using the pillars and mounds to line-of-sight him—it was like Merrock could see her in the storm.
What do I do?
“Ancient Power was the right play—we need to get your speed back up, so you’re not thrown off. Keep using it … Good!”
Mya slowly charged the Move as Merrock tore through the mounds and pillars where she’d been. She sent the four rocks blindly at the sound; her speed rose with every other Stat, but it pulled a large chunk of Rhea’s energy.
“We need to wait out the sandstorm.”
No … No, I think I can do it now! Mya said, confidence rebuilding. It was that stupid speed thing that was holding me back.
“Mya … You need to hide and let him waste energy on the sandstorm; he can track your footsteps, so you need to tread lightly and hide.”
I … I can’t hide! But, I’m not a coward like him!
“Please, Mya … It’s strategy, not…”
I’m too strong to hide from someone this weak, she huffed. This stuff doesn’t even hurt, and if he’s tracking my footsteps, then I can lead him into a trap—just like that stupid Nidorino!
“He’s not going to let you set up.”
She could feel him getting closer to her by the vibrations passing through her legs. I know—I’ve learned his trick, though! It’s easy now!
Merrock jumped out of the sky, over 5-meters above her, which was surprising, but not enough that she wasn’t ready for. She hopped to the side, now back to her normal speed, and used a nearby stone to sling herself away from the bright silvery attack.
He smashed into the floor as she soared above him. You just tell me what attacks I have that are good against him. We’ve got this!
Ice gathered across her mouth as she landed on top of him, bright fangs digging into his defensive matrix as he twisted to get her off. His tail illuminated as it closed around her, tightening to chunk her shield, but that was much better than the hit and run tactics—he was right in front of her.
She bit him again with the frosty energy, forcing him to throw her, but she’d anticipated it, and just before getting out of sight, shadows engulfed Mya. Her black fist smashed into Merrock’s face, throwing him to the side as the storm broke.
“I’m back in this!” she laughed, landing on the ground, but Merrock was already twisting around, creating a boulder out of energy at his tail before flicking it at her. Mya’s own dark brown energy condensed to fire four smaller rocks, intercepting just before it struck … Her attack was overpowered.
Mya was slammed into the ground as the rock crumbled around her; she threw the rubble off with a growl. That wasn’t supposed to happen—her defensive shell was at 26%, but that didn’t matter—winning was the only thing that mattered. She drew upon Rhea’s energy reserves, empowering it a bit further to just try and do a bit more damage.
“... Mya, he’s weak to Fighting, Ground, Steel, Water, Grass, and Ice … No, his is STAB; you won’t win the … ugh.”
My bad … No, I’m fine!
“No, Mya … You only have about three attacks left before we have to call it.”
I … I can work with that, Mya mumbled as she dodged a tackle and latched on the side of his head as he passed. I’ll do it … somehow, her voice was starting to quiver, though; his shield seemed impossible to break, and he barely moved from her attacks that usually send Pokemon flying.
Her fist glowed red, but before she could launch it, Merrock leaped into the air to spin in a rapid vertical circle. She took a chunk of damage, throwing her almost to the ceiling of the arena barrier.
Mya’s stomach twisted as she hung in the sky, mind suddenly blanking as she watched the Onix’s brown aura increase as it rolled around the stadium, kicking up sand, dirt, and stone.
I’m not losing, Rhea … I can’t lose … I’m invincible…
The gathering force of Rock-Type kept increasing as she fell and Merrock’s rapid rollout accelerated the massive Pokemon; she was twisting … falling.
Doubt crept into Mya’s heart as Power-Up Punch faded, unused since it was out of range and dumping more of Rhea’s precious energy. I … I can still do it … I have three more attacks … Right?
Time slowed as Mya neared the ground; she still hadn’t figured out what to do. Her nose burned as the rolling giant approached. … What do I do, Rhea?
Mya reacted on instinct as her Trainer sent the command. Shadows enclosed her as the looming boulder neared, and she appeared right at its spinning eye, fist connecting and sending him spiraling off-course, unraveling to slam against the ringside barrier.
He didn’t waste a second, uncoiling to weave back to her, silvery aura flaring across his frame; Mya’s body went numb—that attack did 61% of her shield.
Rhea broke her out of her mental loop. “Astonish! His aura’s getting to you, Mya.”
A large, ghost-like visage of her massive jaws appeared in front of her, rushing the Onix with a hiss. He tried to dodge, but he was too bulking and attacking too fast—he flinched as the attack hit, causing him to tumble several meters, shattering more of the field’s terrain.
… It worked…
Rhea’s encouraging voice filled her breast. “Metal Burst! C’mon, Mya, don’t give up!”
Her confidence returning, Mya’s aura lit with silver light as Merrock spun, brown light gathering around him; his movements felt slow since she’d just broken his rhythm, but she waited—this was her last attack; it would eat up everything she had left.
Mya jumped into the air, covering her face as Merrock threw a boulder at her. She winced as it struck, dropping her to 4% and flying into the barrier behind her. It crumbled the moment it hit, and her silver aura increased, pulling back into her mouth to create a pulsating globe. Then, jumping off the side, she spun and launched the attack.
Merrock was now rushing her, a white field growing in front of him to tackle her; Mya cheered inside as the ball struck him square between the eye—he jarred for a moment, but it didn’t break the attack.
She was still in the air … No Moves, 4% shield, and he was so fast … Her heart drained of emotion as the world collapsed on top of her. No … I can’t lose…
“Mya!” Nova screamed.
The world went black.
* * *
Rhea bit her lower lip as she reached the energy cap that she’d set for herself; that was it—Mya couldn’t actually use any of her own energy since it was all used to keep her alive. Her hand went to her breast as Mya shut down; she’d been spiraling, but to feel her world shatter was like a piece of her heart breaking off.
Nova was crying, sending worrying signals to her after Mya’s collapse. It’s okay, Nova … I know it hurts. Yeah … it hurts.
She knew this outcome was probably the best thing for her Mawile—to experience this early on, but it didn’t feel any better.
Silence took the crowd as Merrock sent Mya flying against the barrier again, dropping limply to the floor where her secondary defensive matrix cushioned the blow. The Onix kicked up sand and rock, flinging it across the stage in a victory lap.
A small smile touched Rhea’s lips as she breathed a long sigh and recalled Mya, rubbing her throbbing chest. I know this was hard, Mya … I know.
Mya listened to her, though, which was an improvement, and her little girl had even kept careful track of her energy after she’d given her the warning. Metal Burst was a strong Move that had taken a chunk of her fortitude strength since it returned a pretty powerful attack.
She sucked in her lower lip, looking up at Forrest as he examined her—now, for the verdict on their performance.
The sharply dressed man cleared his throat, returning Merrock to his pokeball as everyone waited in stillness. “I don’t know exactly what Moves your Mawile knows, but from what I saw, quite honestly, Rhea, you should have had no problem defeating Merrock—had you been prepared.
“Still,” he gave her an understanding smile, “you did better than I thought you would. You have exceptional Pokemon, but they were too slow to respond to the battle. From what I saw, she was resisting your advice, which can happen, yet at the end, she started to do a little better.”
Forrest took a deep breath and chuckled. “You may have lost, Rhea, but there can be a win found within it. A Trainer should cherish their losses over their victories because it is in a loss that you will find areas of improvement.”
Rhea's nose burned; she wanted to cry but not yet. “I ... Thank you, Gym Leader Forrest … I know we could have won…” Her lips tightened for a moment as hot air fluttered in her chest. “Metal Burst on that first Heavy Smash was … it was the best opportunity—that you gave us, and we missed it … Thank you,” she cleared her throat, putting on a fake smile while fighting tears. “Thank you for showing us where to improve.”
Reaching over to grab Nova’s pokeball to put it on her belt, she hesitated for a moment—her fingers were suddenly weak, and she feared she’d drop it. Instead, she closed them into a fist, stretching them out for half a second before grabbing her worried Eevee and heading off-stage.
Len passed her, his tight expression following her exit as she rubbed her left arm, just trying to get feeling back into it. The spotlight soon swapped to him, leaving her in darkness to be met by Amira, Mallory, and Jason. All the other contestants hung back.
The announcer took the crowd's attention as highlights of the last three matches played overhead, and he compared them, drawing more hype for the upcoming matches.
Mallory was the first to reach her, arms folding around her side and shoulder to lift her into a bear hug. “Hey! Are you okay? That was … Eh, a tough match.”
Nova was crying against her heart, snuggling closer.
Rhea chuckled, arms rising to return a soft embrace. “Yeah … kind of … well, not really,” she whispered, clearing her throat and sniffing as a few tears fell down her cheeks. “Mya’s hurt—emotionally. Nova’s super sensitive to this stuff, and…”
Amira awkwardly stepped forward as Rhea let Lori back off. “... Your brother?” she whispered, hesitantly opening her arms with an unsure expression—it helped, making Rhea chuckle and step in to hug her.
“Y-Yeah … I don’t know … I mean, I knew it would probably be like this, but … I just didn’t think it would really hurt that much—thanks for caring, guys.”
“Of course!” Jason jumped in next, his grip gentle. “Yo, I mean, I thought you did awesome … I was biting my nails when that Sandstorm came up.”
“Heh, you and me both,” Rhea said, pulling back.
“Hey,” Jason whispered, clearing his voice and stepping back to point at the three of them. “Ya know what I think? The three of you should take off and get some ice cream or something! Just get out of here, ya know?”
Rhea gripped her right arm, her focus darting between them. “Wait, but … Len and you are next?”
“Naa! We’re good, and I’m sure your brother’s worried about you; I’ll have my sister here. We can all catch up later.”
A smile moved Amira’s red eyes. “I agree. There’s a good local place I scoped out before, and we can get Mya treated on the way.”
Mallory’s purple hair bobbed up and down with her head. “Mhm! Mhm! Besides, they’re boys; they’ll be fine! We should check on Mya … How is she, by the way?”
Rhea hissed. “Not great … She kind of fell apart at the end—when she realized we were losing.”
Amira’s arms tightened under her bust as she sighed. “Yeah, I figured once she started to freeze, but—in all honesty, it was probably for the best, but I know that doesn’t mean it will be easy on you three. We should treat her to something to let her know we all care.”
“Well…” Mallory forced a laugh. “I mean, if she wants something … I know I wouldn’t.”
“True,” Rhea mumbled; Jason and Amira nodded. “Anyway, let’s go to the Center to get Mya treated … She’s still unconscious, but I think it’s more from the emotional shock than anything…”
Depression hit her gut, tears welling up in her eyes again as her phone vibrated; she took it out, lips starting to tremble as Sabin text her.
1:46 P.M. Sabin: Hey, I’m here for you. Always. What hotel are you staying at? I’ll ditch the paparazzi and be there in fifteen.
1:46 P.M. Sam: You okay? Everyone wants to come cheer you guys up; what’s the plan? You know, if that’s okay.
She wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. “Heh … Just Sabin and the girls … They want to meet up.”
Nova was crying again, but this time trying to comfort her by nuzzling her spirit to let her know she was there for her, too.
“I got it!” Mallory chimed, gently rubbing her back. “Center, ice cream with the girls, back to the hotel to recuperate.”
“Mmh…” Amira’s lips pulled to the side. “Jay doesn’t know about Sabin.”
“I’m fine with it,” Rhea replied. “I mean—heh, she’s stuck with us since our last glorious defeat … I think she’s fine.”
Amira gave her an encouraging smile. “If you’re okay with it, then I’m fine with those plans.”
Jason jumped in with a grin. “Right! Kate and I will join you after … Len’s gotta go find wherever Lucian ran off to … He’s been ghosting us since … yeah, anyway, get going!” He urged, gently pushing Rhea toward the exit. “Get outta here and fix that sugar tooth.”
“He-he-he … Thanks, Jason.” Rhea rubbed her hot forehead and cheeks, trying to look at least somewhat presentable. “... Really … Thanks, guys.”
Texting her brother the address, she told Sam her plans and that Jay would be joining the Rhea Secrets Club before heading out.