Pokemon Symphony

Somthing important...

Hey, before anybody reads the content of this website, I gotta let you know, I am indeed the creator of this story and most of the elements within, but the concept of Pokemon is obviously not my creation. It is Nintendo's! so...yeah just clearing that up. I don't claim rights or ownership of the things I borrowed from Pokemon.

Also The links above can take you to a page with character bios that you may find interesting.

Pokémon Symphony

Prologue

            The small, calm, and homey beach town of Prelude. It is only home to a small number of residents, all of whom live happily but without much excitement. The young children of Prelude Town have never been to the world outside of their homes. The many tourists that come to visit Prelude Beach often like to share grand stories of travel throughout the wondrous land of Harmone. Some even hail from faraway lands such as Hoenn, Kanto, Sinnoh, Johto, Almia, Orre, and many more. Such tales have always amazed and astounded both the jovial children, and the adults who never adventured. While most of the kids dreamt of someday journeying off on their own grand adventures, one particularly shy boy was content with his home life. The boy didn’t have many friends, and those he did make, he interacted with little. His name was Kalak. It wasn’t that Kalak disliked others, he was simply very shy and was intimidated by the concept of making friends. If he was given a push, however, he could connect and show people that he was really a nice boy. He was very keen on reading the emotions of others.

            Kalak lived with his mother and father, neither of whom had ever been travelers. All that he had known of adventure was that which he watched on TV, and heard from travelers. That was also all that he knew of Pokémon. He had seen them before, many times to be sure. He had never interacted with them however. Just the same as his shyness towards children, Kalak found it intimidating to try and befriend a Pokémon. He had but two friends in all his young life, and they were the girl next door, Kira, and her companion Eevee. Kira was always kind to Kalak, even though much of the effort came from her. Kalak would talk with her and play on the beach with her, and they would sometimes even pretend to adventure through the world while they played in the nearby woods. There was never a time, however, that Kalak truly showed any interest unless Kira came looking for him despite how he felt about her.

Kira only lived with her mother and Eevee. Eevee had been a parting gift from her father when he went off to adventure as he once had, leaving his family behind and never bothering to stay in touch (Communications in Harmone were normally by letter due to the lack of an open communication network, and distant relationships were not easily maintained). Kira and her mother were not particularly fond of him, as he never put forward any sort of effort towards the family while he was still around. He was always going on about how he was once a great trainer, and how he was destined for more than this small town life.

One day, Kira- who was now 11 years of age, one year younger than Kalak- came to his bedroom with a tear in her eye. She was leaving Prelude Town with Eevee to start an adventure of her own, hoping to become a great trainer and eventually find her father. She hated to admit it, but she was also not cut out for living a calm, small town life. She was far more upset that she knew that Kalak would not come with her. It was not in his nature. Her last words to him before leaving were:

            “Do me a favor, Kalak, and promise me that we will meet again…That we may share a destiny. I don’t plan to return for a long time, because I want to accomplish so much, and I won’t stop until I have succeeded. I want to make something of myself, and I can’t do that here…So goodbye Kalak. I truly hope to see you again, so maybe, if something changes, you can come out and join me?”

She said this as she turned and left Kalak with a kiss on the cheek and a few more tears. All that Kalak could do was look sad and nod with a single tear on his face, but then he softly said, “Kira, I wish I could come too. I just don’t have the will…I want to be brave like you someday”

“Then strive for that Kalak. Do it so we can see each other again” She said as she began to walk slowly down the stairs. Then she turned and smiled, tears still shimmering, and said, “Goodbye Kalak, wish me luck!”

It would be four years until Kalak would be able to keep his promise…But on his 16th birthday, his entire life would collide head on with what can only be described as a symphony of destinies!

Without Kira

            The years that followed Kira’s leave from Prelude found Kalak falling into depression, as he never made any friends. He began to realize that although he’d never understood it before, having a friend like Kira made him very happy. He now felt utterly alone other than the company of his parents. He was 12 years old when she left town, and on his 13th birthday, everything changed for him. He met his best friend for life. The gift he received from his parents was something he had never dreamed of. The previous night, his father had left for the nearby store in Chime Town. It turned out that his business there had been purchasing a very common, yet very special item. It was a single pokéball. They hoped that he may find it easier to make friends with a Pokémon since he was not very interested in befriending people. This was just the kind of push he needed to make an effort, the catalyst in a chain reaction that would alter Kalak’s entire future.

            “I wonder what kind of Pokémon I can catch out in the woods. I’ve only seen the ones that come into town” Kalak thought out loud, his golden eyes lighting up enthusiastically.

            “Please be careful Kalak,” his mother interrupted. “Don’t go much further than the woods…We wouldn’t want you to find any trouble!” She warned him. Kalak promised that he would stay close by, and then he ran out the door with a broad smile flashing at everyone in town, which they were happy to see from such a shy boy. He dashed into the woods and down the familiar paths he had spent hours on with Kira, suddenly remembering her and wishing she could be there to see this. Upon finding his first few Pokémon, however, he discovered that he was a bit frightened of them out here without Eevee to protect him if they attacked. He continuously ran from them as soon as he encountered them.

            Kalak was beginning to lose hope of ever finding a friend since he was too afraid to even approach one. While he tried to build up the courage, a far off cry sounded weakly. It was a very quiet sound, but Kalak had always had acute senses. More cries broke the still evening air, and Kalak eventually decided to investigate. What he found was something that saddened but excited him at the same time. It was a Pokémon that he had never seen in the area before, and it was injured from battle. He knew that this was a Shinx because he had seen them on television shows, but never once had a Shinx entered Prelude as did the occasional Zigzagoon or Wurmple. The way its blue fur matched his hair color made Kalak toy with the idea that they would look great together. Cautiously, he approached the Pokémon slowly, making sure it was not going to harm him. It was lying on its side, eyeing him carefully, and yet it must have sensed that he was no threat, as it just laid there and didn’t appear afraid. Then, Kalak scooped it up in his arms slowly and whispered, “I’m here to help you out little guy. I won’t hurt you” and the Shinx, to Kalak’s pleasure, nodded weakly. Kalak then ran as quickly as he could without shaking up Shinx too much in the direction of his house, then stopped suddenly. He realized that there would be nothing he could do for him there. So he ran the other way towards Chime Town. There was a pokécenter there that could heal the wounded Shinx. After a long run through the woods, the breathless boy rushed through the small town and through the sliding glass doors of the pokécenter, wondering what to do next. Then he remembered a time when he and Kira had been playing in the woods. Eevee had been knocked out by a wild Zigzagoon, and they had run to this same place and handed her pokéball to the nurse at the front desk. Kalak approached the desk and asked a red haired woman if she was a nurse, even though her outfit gave that much away.

            “Oh, your Shinx! He looks bad! Hand him to me, please.” She said in an urgent but soft voice. She seemed like a very nice woman. She carried Shinx to a back room and Kalak just sat in a chair, waiting. After about a half hour, the nurse returned the Shinx in perfect condition to Kalak, who thanked her very much. “Have a nice day, and be careful!” said the nurse. Before leaving with Shinx at his side, Kalak turned and asked,

            “Excuse me…do you know if a red haired girl who has an Eevee ever comes through here?” He suddenly felt stupid for asking, but was surprised by the woman’s response.

 

            “Actually, I do.” The nurse said rather quickly. “Are you talking about a girl named Kira? She returns here every now and then, but she never goes to Prelude Town. She is always going to the Pokémon research lab. But Prelude is where she lives though, isn’t it? I seem to remember her and yourself coming here once long ago, simply because an Eevee is no common sight. I thought you looked familiar, by the way” She said with a smile.

 

            “Oh, ok…well…thank you, um…nurse” Kalak said weakly.

 

            “Please, you may call me Nurse Joy” she corrected.

 

“Oh, Nurse Joy…Ok. My name is Kalak…but I doubt I will be coming here often” Kalak said. “Thank you very much again…goodbye” Then he left and the Shinx followed him out. After a short walk back in the direction of the woods, Kalak stopped and turned to Shinx.

 

            “Listen, you…I wanted to help you out there because I care about you. And you seem to not mind my company…so I have to ask you this. Will you come with me, back to my home and be my friend? I don’t have any Pokémon to battle you with. I promise you’ll like it, and you may have heard me tell the nurse that I used to be friends with an Eevee, but that she went with that girl I knew, her trainer. I know that I can’t be that bad if Eevee liked me! She was always very particular about the people she liked…very much like her trainer…” Kalak said, his mind momentarily reminiscing once more. Shinx seemed to perk up upon hearing this offer, clearly grateful for being saved and also taking a liking to Kalak. He nodded once with a small bark and jumped towards Kalak. He jumped up, grabbing the pokéball from its place on Kalak’s belt in his teeth at which the startled boy flinched. He still needed to get used to this idea. Shinx then nudged the ball towards Kalak’s feet in encouragement. Although Shinx was not one hundred percent certain that Kalak was a good person yet, he could feel the friendly vibes he put out. There was some sort of emotional connection right away, as Kalak could also sense the Pokémon’s friendliness.

After a second of observing the small sphere that glowed softly red and orange in the light of the setting sun, Kalak tossed it lightly in the air in an arc towards Shinx. Just moments before hitting him, it stopped in midair, opened with a hollow sound, and then it released a bright red stream of energy that encompassed the smiling Shinx. Engulfed in energy, Shinx’s form disappeared and the energy returned to the ball as it dropped to the ground with another hollow noise.

Kalak retrieved the ball with a wide smile on his face as he observed it, no longer aglow as the sun had set in that lightning quick instant in which Shinx had been caught. He smiled even more as he pressed the button on the ball and said, “Now come on out, Shinx!” The ball released red beams as he did so and Shinx emerged, smiling as well. The new friends eyed one another, and then embraced for a moment before turning around and walking back to Shinx’s new home in Prelude Town.

           

Kalak arrived home around 11o’clock, and his parents rushed from the kitchen table to the door to welcome him and ask why he had stayed out so late. They had been about to send for the police to look for him they were so worried.

            “You guys, I’m ok. I’m sorry I stayed out for such a long time, but I can explain myself. You see, I ran into an injured Pokémon in the woods and took it all the way to Chime’s pokécenter to have it healed!” Kalak explained in a hurry. He was still kind of breathless from running home.

 

                        “You did all that? That was kind of you son. You know, Pokémon get better on their own in time just like people do, but I’m sure it was grateful for the help. It will recover much faster now!” His father said, patting Kalak on the shoulder.

 

                        “Well, there’s something else about the Pokémon too. We kind of, well…well…you should just meet him for yourselves! Come on in boy!” Kalak called out the door, no longer hiding his excitement from his parents. Shinx stepped nervously through the door and gave a weak, happy bark, looking for approval.

 

                        “Oh, Kalak, he’s adorable! Look at that hon, he caught a Shinx!” Kalak’s mom squealed. She quickly moved in to hug it, and Shinx crouched defensively with a growl.

                        “Give him some room dear, he is just getting used to all of this. But congratulations Kalak! You know, Shinx are very rare in Harmone. This one must’ve somehow found its way over from the Sinnoh region, because they are not actually native here! What a catch son!” His dad exclaimed proudly with amazement in his tone.

 

                        “Shinx and I are going to be best friends you guys! Right pal?” Kalak said to Shinx. Shinx gave an approving bark, followed by a wet kiss that tingled on Kalak’s cheek with weak electric current, and then the two went up to Kalak’s room where Kalak made Shinx a comfortable bed out of spare blankets. Before falling asleep however, Kalak talked to Shinx until late about Kira and how even though she was gone, he wouldn’t be lonely anymore. Shinx was finally used to the idea of being Kalak’s Pokémon and friend. Neither of the two could explain it, but there was some strong emotional force that jumped between the two like sparks. As far as Kalak was concerned, this had been his best birthday ever. Shinx couldn’t complain either. He was warm in his new bed with a friend close by.

 

Even though Kalak didn’t know it, Kira hadn’t forgotten his birthday. Far away from Prelude town, in the large but peaceful Serenade City, Kira sat under the stars, listening to the sound of the nearby waterfall with Eevee and her Ralts and Pidgey, wishing him a silent happy birthday with nostalgic tears that hadn’t been shed for almost a year now. Kalak even awoke the next morning to find a small wrapped box sitting outside his doorstep addressed to him. It seemed to bear talon marks, and contained a card with a photograph of Kira and her Pokémon on it. The present was a photo of Kira, Eevee, and Kalak sitting on a boulder on the beach and it was placed in a silver frame with a pokéball on it. The card read:

 

Dear Kalak,

Happy birthday! I’m sorry for not visiting at all, but I have been busy lately, as always. I have made some new friends, and hopefully you have as well. My friends however, are Pokémon. I have a Pidgey and a Ralts now! And guess what? I’m taking the gym challenge! Tell your family hello. I will visit someday, I promise. It just may not be soon. I am doing some work with the researchers in Chime Town. Maybe we can meet there sometime? I miss you the most of all Kalak. No new friend can replace you.

Wishing you the best, Kira and Eevee (and Pidgey and Ralts!)

 

P.S.- Eevee misses you a lot too. When I bring you up, she whines a little! Isn’t she the cutest?       

 

Without Kalak

            In Serenade City, a massive excitement was breaking out over the welcoming of the region’s world renowned Pokémon professor, Professor Maple, who had been traveling through the Kanto region for years. The notorious researcher was hailed as the smartest of the known Pokémon professors. Kira was excited to go and see her, as she wanted to ask the professor if she might be able to receive a pokédex. It was a dream of Kira’s to help out Prof. Maple the way her father had many years ago. Her plan was to walk alongside the route of the welcoming parade being held for Maple, then once she arrived in Chime Town and gone to her famous lab, Kira would follow her and ask about the pokédex.

            On her way to buy some supplies in Trill City, Kira accidentally ran straight into a boy and they both fell over.

            “Omigosh, I’m so sorry! Did I hurt anything?” Kira blurted out, panicked and rubbing her freshly cut knee. The boy, who Kira noted to be kind of pathetic looking, simply looked at her blankly from the ground and said nothing for an awkwardly long time.

            “Hey, I’m ok! Sorry to have knocked you over like that, hahaha… uh, are you hurt?” The boy said suddenly with a shake of his head that bounced his messy blond hair. In Kira’s opinion, this kid had no sense of self appearance…His vertically striped green and white shirt was only half tucked in and a shoe was untied. Definitely no sense of style, or social grace for that matter.

            “I’m pretty sure I did all the knocking over…” Kira thought to herself. “Um...I’m fine, really…Just scraped my knee up a little, but-

But before she could finish, Kira found the boy suddenly on his knees at her feet. He kissed her minor wound, and then reached into his bag to find a bandage. She jumped back and shouted, “Hey! Who do you think you are? And what in the world are you doing!? I said I’m fine, ok? And you really shouldn’t be kissing random girls like that…could get you in a lot of-

            “Oh, ok, I get it. Am I not being formal enough? Or is it something else? I should probably introduce myself, huh? Well, m-my name is…uh…h-holy cow! Um, I…Oh, right! I’m Roary! My name’s Roary. I can sometimes forget things, kinda…” Roary spoke almost too fast to be understood. It annoyed Kira more than she had ever been annoyed by anything for some reason.

            “Surely he doesn’t forget his name...ALL the time. He seems nice enough, he must just be nervous because of our accident…right?” Kira thought, just wanting to get back on her way to Trill.

            “Well…? Don’t you have a name, princess?” Roary asked kind of shyly, speaking very softly.

            “P-princess!? What is this!? Are you trying to come on to me or something? Ugh, my name is Kira, ok…? Look I really need to go. I’m sorry about-

            “Go? Go where? I’ll come with you, Kira! That’s a nice name by the way. It compliments your pretty orange eyes!” Roary was obviously a little stupid, Kira thought. How could a name compliment eyes? There was no way he could come with her.

            “Uh, I’m going to Trill City…It’s kinda big and confusing there, and I wouldn’t want to make you-

            “Confusing? Hah! I live there! …Well, I did anyhow before I left on my adventure! I like to go back and visit of course though” Roary practically shouted, much to Kira’s dismay. “Hey I know! You won’t get lost there with me accompanying you! I know Trill blindfolded!” He said excitedly.

            “Is that ALL you know though? Take a hint!” Kira couldn’t help but think. She was at a loss for words, just wanting to be rid of him, but not badly enough to be very rude. “Uh…ok Roary…You can help me find the pokémart there, right? Then I’ll let you be on your way…Ok?” This was Kira’s last hope.

            “Sure, I can show you! Then you can come and have some lunch at my place, right? It’s very close to the store” Roary imposed. Kira wasn’t sure if it would work, but she now had a different idea. She could navigate the city fine alone. She just needed to get rid of Roary.

            “Hey, how about this Roary? You can come with me…but only if you can beat me in a battle!” Kira said, hoping like crazy that this boy meant he was adventuring with Pokémon.

            “Ok! I love Pokémon too!” He said. Then to Kira’s surprise, he brought a pokéball out of his bag right there. “Ok, let’s do this! I choose Psyduck!” He said, tossing out his pokéball.

            “Hah, a Psyduck. How very…appropriate” Kira thought. “Let’s do it Eevee!” Eevee seemed puzzled the moment she left her pokéball. She could tell just how Kira felt about Roary, and seemed to sympathize.

            “An Eevee? That’s rare! Very impressive! I’ve never battled one before” Roary said. “Ok Psyduck, use confusion!” Psyduck just tilted its head, contemplating the command. After a few moments however, a faint aura became visible around him.

            “Eevee, use mirror coat!” Kira yelled. Psyduck’s attack glanced off of Eevee and was sent straight back at him, toppling him and effectively knocking him out. “Um…is that really it? A one move deal? Haha! I guess I’m going alone then!” Kira shouted as a proud Eevee climbed to her shoulder. “See you around, Roary!” Kira said as she darted off as fast as possible with Eevee barely clinging on. She was very anxious to be far away from this boy, and hoped that she would NOT see him around. As she ran, she thought about what Roary had said about visiting home. It made her feel kind of guilty for never visiting her mother and Kalak, but she kept telling herself that if she waited, Kalak might be motivated enough to go out into the world. Chime town was as far as she would allow herself to go.

 

            Later on, once she reached Trill City, Kira did her shopping for some supplies, and then started to wonder how she was going to get back to Serenade if Roary was still on the path. She wanted to be sure she never saw him again. While she was distracted by these thoughts, she wandered into a dead end alley. Eevee let out a low growl, and Kira turned around to where she was facing.

            “What is it girl?” Kira saw nothing. “Don’t worry, Roary isn’t following us. I made sure of it!” She assured Eevee, thinking about the out of the way path she took and smiling at her ingenuity…Then suddenly two pokéballs dropped from the buildings on either side of her. A Glameow and a Zubat emerged. Their trainers, one male and one female, jumped down behind them and commanded them to attack Kira directly. Eevee sprung into action to defend her, and Kira sent Pidgey and Ralts out too. There was a short battle that surprisingly ended in defeat for Kira, and she braced for the impact of her attackers’ blows. Then from behind the two trainers, she heard a third voice that made her groan as though she would rather be bitten and clawed at.

            “Get’em, Psyduck! You too, Slowpoke! Both of you use psybeam!” Roary’s Pokémon surprised the thugs, who Kira had by now realized were grunts of the notorious crime syndicate, Team Galactic. Much to her surprise, the opponents were defeated and they fled with some angry words and warnings. Though she was glad she no longer had to worry about thieves, Kira now had a Roary problem.

            “Roary, what are you doing here? I told you not to come with me! I won our battle!” Kira said. Then, realizing how rude she was being she added, “But thank you very much for that…I appreciate it. I was in real trouble I guess” She had to try very hard to smile at Roary.

            “Oh, it’s no big deal. I have to fight those goons all the time. They plague the big cities like Ratatta” he said weakly, but clearly happy for the appreciation. “I followed you on my bike because you took off so fast that your Eevee’s pokéball fell off of your belt! I would’ve gotten to you sooner, but it was hard to take my bike the same way as you, what with the weird shortcut where you zigzagged through that part of the woods and climbed down all those ledges and went through the creek…Then the other woods and-

            “Ok, ok, ok! I get it! It was hard to follow me! (I made sure of it, believe me!) But thank you so much, really…I have to be on my way now though. I gotta heal my Pokémon” Kira said gratefully, but mostly irritated to already be speaking with Roary again.

            “Oh, allow me!” Roary offered, setting down his bag and pulling out some potions. He sprayed Eevee, Pidgey, and Ralts and then his own Pokémon. Kira returned hers to their balls to rest.

            “Hey, wow…Um, thank you Roary” Kira said, impressed at his kindness to such a stranger. She was still not impressed nearly enough to change her mind about him however.

            “No big deal…hey, I’ll see you around princess! I’m going to visit my parents while I’m here…get that lunch I mentioned!” Roary said as he ran off, much to Kira’s joy and surprise.

            “Wow! He’s gone!...Uh-oh, I hope he remembers where he lives…” Kira thought.

 

            Fortunately, Kira didn’t run into Team Galactic or Roary again for months. She did go to see Professor Maple, but she didn’t have any pokédex to give, much to Kira’s dissatisfaction. However, Maple said that she was very supportive of Kira’s desire, and would alert her when she had a new supply, although it could be a few years at the most. They were rarely shipped due to the activities of Team Galactic, who stole such shipments. Maple gave Kira a voucher that would ensure one free pokédex as a token of gratitude for helping out her lab staff in her absence. It was no deterrence to Kira, and she spent a long time training, and occasionally putting up with both Roary and Team Galactic (She didn’t know which faction she hated more). She also traveled to Serenade City, Minuet Town, and Melody Town to earn a total of three gym badges. During these travels, Kira grew as a trainer, and Ralts and Pidgey grew as well, becoming a Kirlia and Pidgeoto. Never once did Kira lose hope of running into Kalak during her Chime Town visits.

It had now been a whole year since Kalak’s last birthday, and Kira couldn’t wait any longer. She left for Prelude town to visit her mother on Kalak’s 14th birthday, and was heartbroken to find out that Kalak had taken a flight to the Hoenn region to visit family on his birthday. She left him a present with his parents, the voucher for her pokédex (in hopes it might be some inspiration), and left town in tears once more. She was glad however to hear that he had met a Pokémon, and left her regards. Kalak’s parents had also assured her that he and Shinx would be home next time she visited, and that she was always welcome to stop in. She spent the next year training and doing more work with the renowned professor, which she very much enjoyed. Kira actually grew happier than she had been before, no longer very worried about Kalak now that he had a companion, however when August 11th came around for the third time, she went off to see him once again. This time, however, she ran into more trouble than she could handle.

            Kira had started to travel with two other trainers who were also volunteering for the Professor named Kent and Marcy. They seemed to be nice enough people, however just days before Kalak’s birthday, they kidnapped Kira. They robbed her of the valuable items that Professor Maple had given her to hand deliver to an associate in Minuet town. They also took her Pokémon and revealed their true identities as Galactic grunts. They tied her up and carried her to Serenade Creek in Buzz Forest, which was deep and rapid near here, especially in the pounding rain. They tied blocks to her ropes and planned on drowning her under the orders of their leader.

            “You guys, please, I’m begging you, don’t do this!” Kira pleaded desperately, sobbing.

            “Look, it’s nothin’ personal babe” said Kent. Him using his pet name for Kira in such a tone frightened her more. “You just got mixed in with us at a bad time, ya’ know? It’s all for the greater good of the Galactic cause. Thinka yerself as a major help to the goal babe, because these new adaptable pokéball design plans are just what we need! Maybe it’ll make dyin more bearable for you or somethin’.” Kent said with a smirk and a laugh.

            “Look Kira, yall’r lucky to be dealin’ with us and not the boss sweetie. I’ll bet anything that he’d make yall suffer!” Added Marcy in her soft, accented but now sad voice that Kira had always found to be so warm and comforting. Now it terrified her even more than Kent’s less comforting words (not that her remark was much better).

            “B-b-but…why can’t you l-let me g-go? I couldn’t stop Galactic if I t-tried!” Kira shouted in a loud sob, hoping somebody might hear, though she could hardly hear herself over the storm.

            “Look, Kira. We do what we’re told to do by our superiors. We were told to take your delivery and make sure nobody ever found out even if it meant killing you. If the commanders found out we let ya go, the boss’d do the same to us…or worse” Kent seemed to shudder at this thought and Marcy’s fiery orange eyes darkened and flitted around nervously. She seemed to be regretting doing this. Kira saw this and desperately took the opportunity.

            “Marcy, you know this isn’t right! We are friends…at least we were. I don’t think I can still be your friend after this, but I won’t turn you guys in if you-

            “Shut up, babe. You’re getting annoying,” Kent interrupted as he realized what she was doing. He kicked her hard in the ribs. Kira yelled in pain, certain that she had heard a crack. Kent was enjoying himself, kicking her again and again.

            “Kent, would you cut it the hell out already?” Marcy shouted, throwing herself in front of Kira. “Yall knew I didn’t wana be here in the first place!” she added, now wanting to try and convince her partner that this was a bad idea.

            “Marcy, baby, you know we gotta do this, huh? If we don’t…” Kent said half threateningly.

“If yall wana go through with it…then I’m sticking by Kira!” Marcy said, now also crying.

“Ugh, fine. Then join her already.” Kent said, his piercing green eyes seeming to stab her as she choked on her own tears. He hit her hard on the head with a stone, and then pushed them both into the dangerous waters. Kira eventually blacked out, but she woke up alive. Marcy had untied her before totally losing consciousness. Marcy was only able to do so without Kent seeing because of how muddy the storm water was. Kira was found by Officer Jenny of Serenade City. After being hospitalized with hypothermia and three broken ribs, she explained what had happened to her, and was informed that Marcy had been found near her, keeping her warm , and was arrested. She also was told that Kent was nowhere to be found.

After that evening, it was many months before Kira was able to travel again. She was not able to return home, but was given a good home at a local inn for free with free service as well. It was two months before the fugitive Kent was captured and Kira’s Pokémon were finally returned, also in need of medical attention. Kent had been cruel to them when they wouldn’t fight for him to get his way back to HQ, where he was apprehended. Glad to be back with her friends, Kira didn’t even mind when Roary would visit every now and then. After seven months, Kira was on her feet, taking it easy, and in one more month, she was back to traveling. She had mostly put it all behind her, and she and her Pokémon were as happy as always, if just a bit more weary of Team Galactic. Four more months passed, and the whole event was practically just a distant nightmare, as it was finally time to go back to Prelude town once again, where a destiny was waiting to be fulfilled.

 

First Steps

“Uhn…Hey…hey, Shinx, cut it out will ya? Hah, that’s annoying pal, quit it, ok? I’m still sleepy…” Kalak moaned as Shinx excitedly licked his face. It was around eight in the morning and the sun was now streaming through the window onto Kalak’s face, putting an end to his slumber. Though he tried to fall back into his dreams of Kira and Eevee, Shinx would not relent in his licking fury, now pulsing a light electric current through his tongue.

 

“Shinx! That’s enough buddy…Why are you so excited anyway?” Kalak asked as he gave in and sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

 

            “Take it easy on him Shinxy, dear.” Kalak’s mother said as she entered the room. “You know he can be slow in the morning, heheh…He must have forgotten.” She said as she left the room.

 

            “Forgotten…forgotten what? Today is…August the…Oh!”  Kalak said, jolting up and dressing into his favorite blue shirt and black cargo pants in a hurry. He was already halfway downstairs before he ran back to his room to grab Shinx’s pokéball, even though he preferred to walk next to Kalak. Kalak kept it with him just in case. “Mom! Dad! I remembered! It’s…guys? Hello?” Kalak’s parents weren’t in the house at all. As Kalak excitedly looked around for them, Shinx also left his side and ran out the door. “Shinx? Hey, where’re ya’ going?” Kalak called after him as he gave chase. As he rounded the corner of the house, he was almost frightened (and knocked to the ground by Shinx leaping at him) by the sudden shout of “HAPPY BIRTHDAY KALAK!” from his parents and some neighbors. He got to his feet and ran to his parents who each hugged him. There was a small celebration, and Kalak’s dad ensured him there would be a better party later on. Then he added, “Kalak, could you do me a big favor? I need you to head out to Chime Town and pick something up from Professor Maple, the local Pokémon researcher. It’s important, and you can take Shinx with you” Kalak was unsure how his father was even connected to the famous professor who even he had heard about.

           

            “Uh, sure, no problem. I want to open my gifts when I get back though!” Kalak called behind him as he and Shinx darted towards the woods.

 

            “Do you think he will like it dear?” Kalak’s mom asked his dad once Kalak was out of earshot. His earshot at least. Kalak had extremely keen senses, and it was hard to be sneaky with him.

 

            “I think so. It will be a good experience for him. Plus, Shinx needs to get out more just as badly as Kalak does.” His father replied hopefully.

 

            As Kira approached the entrance to Chime town, she looked down at Eevee and asked, “Are you ready to see Kalak, love? It’s been so long, hasn’t it? To tell you the truth, I’m nervous…He was never…very interested, you know?” Eevee nodded in agreement as she let out a low, concerned sound. Just then, two figures came out of the woods and stepped in Kira’s way. It was the two grunts that had attacked her years ago in that alleyway. They had ambushed Kira multiple times since then.

            “Ugh, really you guys again? In the middle of a town too? Fine, but let’s make it fast. I have an appointment and you space freaks won’t make me late this time!” The two Team Galactic grunts tossed out their pokéballs without a word. Kira sent out Kirlia and Pidgeoto to do the work. They defeated the grunts’ Zubat and Glameow in a heartbeat. By now it was like clockwork for Kira.

 

            “Grr…Ok fine. Try winning this one!” One grunt said as he sent out his second Pokémon, Mareep. The other sent out a Budew. They defeated both Kirlia and Pidgeoto, and Eevee was having trouble against them.

 

            “Damn…How strong can they be!? I’m in bad shape here…I won’t lose to Team Galactic ever again...I can’t!” Kira thought. Suddenly, when things seemed pretty hopeless, Kira heard a voice say:

 

            “Shinx, use bite on Mareep!” Then, the voice’s owner stepped out of the trees and Kira was stunned to see Kalak, especially commanding a Pokémon (even though his parents had mentioned Shinx to her before). Shinx defeated the two Pokémon with Eevee’s help, and then returned to Kalak’s side as he slowly approached Kira.

 

            “Kalak!?! Kalak I was coming to see you! Happy Birthday!” Kira said, almost choking on her words as tears formed. She ran forward and wrapped her arms around Kalak and whispered, “Did you miss me as much as I missed you? I’m so glad to see you again!”

 

            “I have missed you, Kira. It’s good to see you again…you were coming to see me? I didn’t know that you even remembered what today even was…well, I’m on an errand for my dad, so I’ll see you around…if  you plan on sticking around that is.” Kalak said with some sadness in his voice. He realized that he had nearly forgotten what Kira was like.

 

            “Kalak…aren’t you…happy to see me?” Kira said, now sort of crying for a different reason. “I think about you every day Kalak…it hasn’t been the same without my friend by my side…And you just say hi to me?” Kalak turned to walk to the lab, and Kira ran after him, now very upset at what she believed was his apathy. Kalak wasn’t apathetic, however, just extremely nervous. “Kalak please wait for me! Let me come with you! I’m here to see YOU stupid!” she shouted angrily.

 

            “Are…are you really? I thought you were just here to use the Pokécenter…Nurse Joy told me you come by a lot, so I figured you didn’t really care much if you didn’t bother to visit…” Kalak said, perking up a bit. He also took note that Kira had seemingly increased in beauty...Her red hair catching the light breeze, and her fiery eyes glinting in the sun…

            “She…is cute! And she still seems like her silly, bubbly self…but angry. I don’t know how to feel about her though…I feel like I’ve never been happier, but like it’s too good to be true…” Kalak’s mind was racing. He was simply afraid of Kira leaving again.

 

            “Forget!? Kalak, I thought we were best friends! I’m coming with you!” Kira imposed.

 

            “Ok, that’s fine…I’m going to the lab.”

 

            “Really? I was going there before I came to see you actually. I actually do work for the professor now and then.”

The two chatted about all that had happened in their time apart, and Kira and Eevee were introduced to Shinx. Everyone was bonding perfectly, and the group seemed inseparable at once, but Kalak was still feeling unsure and distant. Upon reaching the lab, Kira was approached by Professor Maple.

 

            “Kira! How are you? I take it you are here because of the rumored pokédex delivery?” She asked.

 

            “That’s part of it. I’m also here to visit a friend for his birthday…Have you met Kalak? He is also from Prelude Town!” Kira responded.

 

            “Kalak! What a coincidence! I’m sorry Kira, but I’m afraid that the only pokédex delivered today was the one that Kalak’s parents ordered for him…and my back up, as mine is becoming old and losing power.” As the professor explained this, the sparkle in Kira’s eyes faded to disappointment.

 

            “I’m getting a pokédex!? No way!” Kalak blurted out. Then, looking at Kira, Kalak made a suggestion. “Professor…I don’t travel around. I don’t see how a pokédex could help me. Would you please give mine to Kira?” Kalak said. Maple and Kira looked shocked.

 

            “Kalak, you can’t possibly do that! It’s yours!” said Kira.

 

            “You may not fully understand your gift Kalak…Your parents want you to go out and adventure like most young trainers. I see that you have a Shinx. Very rare indeed. You don’t want to keep Shinx holed up at home, do you? Pokémon love to travel!” Maple explained.

 

            “I…don’t know if I can do that. I’m not really up to that sort of thing…” Kalak began, totally incredulous. This news amazed him. “Wait, I have an idea! Professor Maple, may I see your old pokédex?” He asked excitedly.

 

            “Um, yes, I suppose so. Here you go.” said maple as she handed over the device carefully.

 

            “Shinx, can you do…um, that thing you were doing this morning? When you passed a current through your tongue? Maybe it can charge the battery!” Kalak explained.

 

            “Kalak, do you know what you are doing?” Kira asked skeptically.

 

            “Well Shinx has fixed lots of things back home…” he replied, now unsure. As Shinx pressed his tongue to the pokédex, he glared up at Kalak. He wasn’t particularly fond of the taste. The red light began to glow brighter, and Kalak’s plan actually seemed to be working efficiently.

 

            “Oh, look at that! It worked!” the astounded professor exclaimed. “Wow Kalak, thank you…you know what this means Kira? Kalak just got you a pokédex! Who’d have thought that bioelectricity wouldn’t overcharge the battery…” she said, handing Kira and Kalak each a pokédex.

 

            “That was kinda the point I guess…”  Kalak said with a shy tone. He then left, thanking the professor and heading home.

 

            “Kalak! Would you wait up!” Kira called. “Are you avoiding me on purpose? I’m here to spend time with you!”

 

            “I know…but then you will have to leave me to go do…whatever. And I am just starting on my adventure. I just want to spend the rest of my birthday with everybody, especially you, I really do. But then…I won’t see you , maybe ever again.” Kalak said sadly.

 

            “Why Kalak? Don’t be ridiculous! I’ll just come with you! Don’t you see? This is what I meant by sharing a destiny Kalak…we could spend our days having fun with our Pokémon and each other!” Kira bringing up her last words to Kalak was just making things harder on him.

 

            “I don’t know yet, ok?...I want to travel…but I think I’m better off with just Shinx…It’s been just us for-

            Kalak was interrupted by the sound of Pokémon emerging and the same two Galactic grunts jumping out from the flanking woods.

 

            “Let’s see you get out of a direct attack trainer!” one shouted as the other shoved Kalak forward into a large pitfall trap. Kira took off after the other grunt who had grabbed Eevee in the confusion. When she returned, she only had Eevee with her, not Shinx.

 

            “Kira…did they…take him?” Kalak asked, sore and disheartened. 

 

“Kalak…I will help you get Shinx back, I promise. I know where they took him. And if you really want me to leave afterwards…Then that’s your decision…” She said, hurt in her voice. After some struggling, Kira was able to pull Kalak free. They headed back the way they came, through Chime Town, and for the first time, Kalak continued on towards the bustling hub of Harmone, Trill City. His first step into the world of adventure!

 

What Friends are For

 

            For the first time in his life, Kalak now found himself leaving Chime Town via the path headed north rather than the one leading back home. He was also in a bigger hurry than he had ever been in to get anywhere.

 

            “Shinx…I’m so sorry for letting this happen…I’m coming for you!” he thought as his mind raced through images of what Team Galactic’s headquarters might look like. Breathless after running for quite some time, Kalak began to fall behind Kira and Eevee.

 

            “Come on Kalak, we can’t stop now! Trill City is only about two more miles away!” Kira said urgently. “Who knows what might happen if we wait any longer!”

 

            “I know Kira…I just…need to…catch my breath…” Kalak said panting. “Just give me…a sec to rest…and we can-

            But he was interrupted when he suddenly felt something on his shoulder. Kira couldn’t help giggling at Kalak’s yelp of surprise to see a Starly perched on his shoulder.

 

            “Make a friend Kalak?” she asked jokingly.

 

            “He…does want to be friends!” Kalak replied, astonished.

 

            “You can tell?” asked Kira

 

            “Well…I can sense it…the way he feels about me…it’s hard to explain” Kalak started, standing up and beginning to walk towards the city. “Come on, let’s get moving…slowly so I can rest a little.” He said. He wouldn’t admit it, but he had only stopped to give Kira a rest. She needed it.

 

            As they walked, the curious Starly hopped along behind them, occasionally resting on Kalak’s head. He was obviously trying very hard to be friendly.

 

            “Kalak, you should capture Starly” Kira suggested.

 

            “But…Shinx is my Pokémon. I wouldn’t want to make him jealous or anything…” Kalak responded dully.

 

            “But Pokémon love to travel with others! It would be good for everyone!” Kira said, upset by Kalak’s unwillingness.

 

Kalak was deep in thought about traveling Harmone. He was just beginning to wonder if accepting his pokédex was a good idea when the entrance to Trill City was suddenly in front of him and Kira. Although his legs were worn out, he followed Kira quickly down the busy streets full of people to an alley that opened into what appeared to be the city’s central square. There, he could see many tall buildings, one of which stuck out from the others. It was a shiny white color and had a wild, curvy shape to it. On top were a large antenna and a big yellow letter G that were identical to the ones on the Galactic grunts’ uniforms. This was obviously their HQ.

 

            “Well, that’s it. Galactic HQ” said Kira. “You may wonder why it is so obvious to the public. It’s because they claim to not have anything to do with the criminal activities of their other branch in Sinnoh. They also can’t find evidence of criminal activity inside…just a weird but legal looking business…The company even has enough money to bail out its members…probably because of all their robbery…” she said, seeming to fade out of focus for an instant, then she added, “Let’s go find Shinx!” and her and Kalak ran towards the tall building, followed by Starly too. The inside was just as Kira had said; it seemed to be a normal looking reception center with stairs and an elevator, but it had no button.

 

            “Welcome to Team Galactic Inc., bringing the world one step closer to perfection!” said the man behind the counter. “Can I help you?”

 

            “Um…just touring…I hear that there is an area to…um…donate Pokémon?” said Kira, acting as if she was replying to an ad she had once seen.

 

            “Well of course! Here you go, these are your complementary pamphlets on our Headqua- I mean corporation and your free complementary Team Galactic glow in the dark pins!” said the man, handing one of each to Kalak and Kira as he led them up the stairs.

 

            “Don’t free and complementary mean the same thing?” Thought Kira as they walked and Kalak read the made up information in the pamphlet which claimed the Pokémon were being treated wonderfully then released into the wild with some sort of new lifestyle that would improve the quality of Harmone. It really made no sense. After climbing countless stairs, Kalak, Kira and Starly were facing a red, steel, sliding door. The receptionist pressed a button on an intercom and told whoever was inside that there were donors outside the door. It slid opened, and the two were kind of prodded in by the receptionist. Starly barely made it inside before the door slammed shut behind them. Once inside, Kira and Kalak were faced with ten grunts, all prepared to take the “donated” Pokémon.

 

            “Hey there, don’t be afraid! Your Pokémon will be well taken care of! Just hand their pokéballs over to me!” said a grunt, stepping forward.

 

             “Uh-oh! It’s the kids we robbed in Chime Town!” said a familiar grunt. “They aren’t here to donate, they probably want that Shinx back, am I right? Well you’d better be ready to fight!” Then, all of the grunts took pokéballs off of their belts and prepared for battle. Kira sent out Kirlia and Eevee, and when Kalak just stood by to watch, Starly flew off of his head to fight too.

 

            “Here Kalak, you can borrow Pidgeoto…be careful!” Kira said as she sent him out as well. Kira defeated seven of the grunts, and the inexperienced Kalak slowly won his first two battles. The two teamed up against the last grunt, and just as they won, a woman dressed in a slightly different Galactic uniform walked out of a hidden doorway. She had red hair and a sinister look on her face that Kira had seen before.

 

            “Impressive work Kira…who’s this kid? I presume he is the previous owner of our new Shinx?” said the woman.

 

            “This is Kalak, and he’s Shinx’s friend, not his owner! It’s been some time now Commander Mars!” Kira said back angrily.

 

            “Well if Kalak wants his Shinx back, you two had better be ready for a much tougher opponent!” said Mars, sending out her Skuntank and Golbat.

 

            “Of course we are ready! ...right Kira?” said Kalak. At these words, Starly prepped for another battle.

 

            “That’s right! Go, Eevee!” shouted Kira. Although Eevee was KO’d and Kirlia was poisoned, the fight was won and Mars seemed to retreat into her back room once more. To Kira and Kalak’s surprise, she came back moments later with Shinx unconscious in a cage.

 

            “Shinx! Are you ok!?” Kalak half gasped as he ran to free him.

 

            “He’s just fine…just knocked out to avoid a struggle. You two better get out of here in a hurry before I decide to call in backup!” Mars warned. Then with a sigh, she added, “Here, take the elevator down. I really mean hurry!” She pressed a button on the elevator door and Kalak and Kira stepped inside, Starly on his favorite new perch. Once they left the building, the group made haste to the Trill City Pokécenter. When Shinx was brought back in full health, he and Kalak rejoiced and Kira seemed to suddenly jolt at something.

 

            “Omigosh! Kalak, I like, totally forgot to give you your birthday present!” She blurted out, reaching into her bag.

 

            “Kira, you really didn’t need to get me a gift…we should probably head back to my house too. It’s sunset.” Kalak said, once more apathetic.

 

            “Kalak…you really don’t want me sticking around, do you?” Kira said softly, tears beginning to fill her eyes. “Well…here, you jerk! She said, tossing a nicely wrapped box tied with a pretty red ribbon at Kalak’s feet. “I can’t believe you!” She said with one last look at him before walking outside and running off. Kalak ran after her, but she was nowhere to be found.

 

            “Starly…thank you so much for your help…but I guess you ought to leave now…it’s getting late. Starly was suddenly very sad, but flew off as Kalak wished. As Kalak and Shinx walked home, Kalak could sense that Shinx was very displeased. “Hey pal, I was really worried about you…but everything is ok now, right? Are you still hurt or somethin’?” he asked. Shinx’s angry stare at Kalak and sad glance at his unopened present indicated it was about Kira. “Do you really think that it’s a good idea boy? I mean…would you be happy with me being with more friends? Kira said something about you wanting to travel with Pokémon…I’m not being fair to you or myself, am I?” Kalak said, adding “Or Kira…or even Starly!” Shinx gave a soft bark, and then shifted Kalak’s attention up into a nearby tree. Kalak was excited to see Starly looking down on him. “Starly! Hey, look…I’m sorry I sent you away…I guess you heard all that stuff I just realized, huh. I’m glad you followed me…do you think I can have another chance?” Starly flew down and landed about ten feet from Kalak, giving a playful chirp and widening its stance in a way Kalak had seen before; this was how Starly prepped for battle. “Ok, I get it. Let’s do this! Shinx, use bite!”

 

            After a quick couple rounds of battle, Starly suddenly flew high and then landed about the same distance away in a more natural stance. He was ready to be captured and almost appeared to be smiling. Kalak suddenly realized that he didn’t have a pokéball. Starly was more than ahead of him he returned to his perch in the tree and came back down with a ball in his talons.

 

            “Haha, thanks pal…but where’d you get this? You can’t just steal things you know…” Kalak said, hesitant to use the ball. Then, Starly hopped closer and pointed at Kira’s present with a wing. “Kira gave this to you? Did you find her for me before you came here?” Kalak asked hopefully. Starly nodded, tweeting excitedly. “Wow, ok then, could you lead me to her? Oh, but first…” Kalak tossed the pokéball at Starly, and he made his second ever capture. After letting Starly out and celebrating, he said, “Alright Starly, lead the way!” After running at least three times as fast as he had earlier that day to reach Trill City and then the route north of it, a breathless Kalak and joyful Shinx found Kira, still crying and Eevee trying her hardest to console her.

 

            “K-Kalak! What are you doing here!?” Kira said in a surprised but soft and sad voice.

 

            “Kira…I have been very foolish. I really thought things over, and the truth is, I would love to travel with you! I mean…it’s what friends are for.” Kalak said with a friendly smile, hoping he wasn’t too late.

 

            “Kalak…I…I’ve never been s-so h-happy!”  Kira said in a broken, crying voice. Her tears were now happy ones.

 

            “I still have to open my gift you know…” Kalak said, pulling it from his bag. He carefully untied the bow and stashed it away as a keepsake, then tore the silver paper off of two cardboard boxes. He opened one to find a silver chain necklace and a black leather collar with a loop for a tag. He looked at Kira, confused but still gratefully, only realizing that the necklace was for him and that the collar was for Shinx. The second box contained two individually wrapped lightning bolt shaped charms, one for the necklace and one for the collar. “Kira, this is really cool! I think Shinx loves them too!” Kalak said “Thanks a lot!”

 

            “It’s as you said…It’s what friends are for, tehe!” Kira responded cutely and followed with a big hug. “I almost forgot; try touching the two charms together!” She added. Kalak did so and proceeded to drop them as a shower of rainbow colored sparks shot off of the charms when they met. Kira giggled and said “Maybe I ought to have warned you! They are made of a special metal called eletite! When polished eletite touches polished eletite, it makes rainbow sparks! Don’t worry though, they won’t hurt you! Cool, huh?” She finished with a big grin. Kalak couldn’t express his thanks enough, and Shinx playfully pushed the charms together to watch the sparks.

The group spent the rest of the evening walking back to Prelude town to have a big party for Kalak and along the way, talked about the great future that was destined to happen from the beginning. Or at least Kira believed so, claiming once more for the evening:

 

“It’s what friends are for!”

 

Learning the Ropes

 

Kalak had a lot of questions for his parents after his party. They all pertained to his gift of adventure.

 

“I don’t understand something. How did you order me a pokédex? Kira has been waiting years for one!” he asked first.

 

“So, Kira never told you?” His mom replied. “On your 14th birthday, when you were in Hoen, she stopped to see you like we said, but we never told you about what she left for you. It was a voucher for a pokédex order that was coming in two years from then. Kira wanted you to have a reason to join her in her adventures sweetie” She finished. Kalak was overwhelmed by regret for having tried to turn Kira away after hearing about this sacrifice. He was also very happy that the gift worked out for both of them. His next question was slightly harder to ask.

 

“So…You know I won’t be able to visit very often, right? I mean, you know how often Kira comes around…not very” he said, braving a look at his mother’s face and surprised to see it filled with joy.

 

“Then you truly have decided to go!? Kalak, just promise to send mail now and then. We’ll miss you dear, but I’m sure you will be happier…That’s all we have ever wanted for you!” Said his mom softly, and then she hugged him tightly. His dad got up from the table to do the same, and then he said,

“Kalak, I think it’s about time for your last birthday gift…then you should be on your way to make us proud.” He went upstairs in a hurry and returned even quicker with a long box. Kalak unwrapped it to find a photo of him, his parents, and Shinx from a year ago, and a brand new red and yellow pokéball belt. After thanking his mom and dad, Kalak was surprised to hear Kira’s voice from the front door.

 

“Hey, let’s get going Kalak! Are you ready?” she called. With one last hug and kiss goodbye to each of his parents and after putting on his new belt, Kalak hurried out the door to meet Kira and be on his way to see the world. After a short walk past Chime Town, Kira decided to give Kalak a test. “Ok, now let’s see something. I’ve seen you battle, and you definitely know what you’re doing…but I wana test you out for myself!” she proclaimed, and Eevee jumped forward excitedly.

 

“A battle? Sounds fun!” Kalak said, accepting the challenge with a smirk. “You ready for this Shinx?” he asked his partner. Shinx barked happily, leaping forward into position. “Ok then, let’s go!” The two battled for about three minutes, Eevee claiming victory for Kira. Kalak still had Starly however, who managed to defeat the weakened Eevee. He was not up to par with Kirlia’s dancer-like grace and psychic attacks.

 

“That was pretty good you know. You just need to get your Pokémon more battle experience, that’s all. You beat my strongest Pokémon that I’ve been training for years!” Kira said as they walked to Trill City. Shinx was still able to walk next to Kalak, but Kalak decided to give him a rest and put him in his pokéball. When they reached Trill city, they went straight to the pokécenter, then to the pokémart to buy the supplies they would need including pokéballs, potions, repels, status cures, and plenty of food for their Pokémon. Once they left, a girl seemed to accidentally run into Kalak. It was no accident.

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry! You ok?” she asked, flashing a cute smile.

 

“Uh, yea, I’m just fine…are you?” Kalak asked, feeling a bit awkward but also impressed by the girl’s looks.

 

“Yep, all good…I’m glad I didn’t hurt that fine body you have there” the girl said with a giggle. Kira was suddenly very angry with this stranger. “I’m Sierra by the way…what about you?”

 

“Oh, um, I’m Kalak…it’s nice to meet you Sierra. Do you travel with Pokémon?” Kalak asked, now trying to divert the conversation.

 

“I sure do! But you already knew that silly boy. I noticed you looking at my belt…see anything else interesting? Tehehe…” said Sierra, modeling herself. Kalak was now back to feeling awkward.

 

“Well, can I check out your Pokémon? Maybe in a battle?” Kalak asked, just trying to change the subject. He could sense that Kira was uneasy.

 

“Oh, come on, I doubt that’s all you wana check out Kalak…Are you and, uh…her, like together?” Sierra asked, pointing at Kira.

 

“My name is Kira! And yes, we are traveling together…And we really need to be going!” Kira interjected angrily. She disliked Sierra after just a minute in her presence.

 

“Oh, well how bout I join you? Where are you off to?” Sierra asked, eyes on Kalak.

 

“We are going to Serenade City. We are going to earn badges!” Kira blurted out before Kalak could seem interested in allowing Sierra to come.

 

“Oh! Well, no need for me to join you then…See?” Sierra said, flashing eight gym badges in a case. “I’m sure I could help out Kalak though…I can see that you have three badges already, but I have more.” Sierra said tauntingly, looking at the badges on the strap of Kira’s bag. “Besides, you can’t claim him. You only said you were traveling together, not dating” she added with a giggle. Then she leaned over to Kalak, who had no clue what to say and asked, “Don’t you want to learn from the best Kalak?” and she kissed him on the lips when she asked. Now Kira was furious and Kalak was stunned.

 

“Hey! That’s enough, Sierra! If you want Kalak, you had better be ready to beat me in battle! What makes you think you can even do something like that!?” said Kira, sending Pidgeoto out on the spot.

 

“Wow, impulsive Kira? But fine…we can do it your way. Kalak can go with the better trainer!” Sierra said, sending out a Sneasle. Pidgeoto, Kirlia, and Eevee were no match for the intense speeds of Sneasle’s dark attacks. The battle ended in defeat for Kira, who vowed from that moment on to make her new rival pay for taking her friend away. As Sierra recalled her Sneasle, she ran to Kalak’s side and said, “I can’t wait to do some one on one training…tehehe”

 

“I don’t know Sierra, maybe I’d like to try you out for myself before I go off with you…” Kalak shyly interjected.

 

“What? Uh, ok…fine. I only have Sneasle with me…so you may only choose one Pokémon!” She replied

 

“No problem. Go Shinx!” When Sneasle made contact with Shinx, she suddenly froze in place and seemed to have difficulty getting up.

 

“No! Sneasle…is paralyzed…” Sierra said in an alarmed voice that broke off.

 

“Shinx, charge up a big spark!” Kalak commanded. The battle was his.

 

“Grr…fine. Return Sneasle. I choose Houndoom!” Sierra said, reaching for another pokéball.

 

“Sorry Sierra…you said that you were only using one Pokémon. I win.” Said Kalak. Then he added with a wink at Kira, “Kira has taught me a lot about battling since I started.”

 

“But…Kalak, I want to get to know you! Wouldn’t it be fun?” Sierra half begged.

 

“Look Sierra,” Kalak said, “I’m not going to leave Kira just because you beat her in a battle. I don’t even know you…and you come on very strong you know. So if you want to get to know me, you’ll have to come with me and Kira. I’m Kira’s friend, and she is mine.” At these words, Kira grinned widely, but then shuddered at the thought of traveling with Sierra. She was relieved when Sierra responded with,

 

“Well…I’m sorry to hear that handsome…I have some things I have to do, so I can’t really come with you…you see, now that I have eight badges, I’m off to get a gym leader’s license. So…I’ll see you around!” She ran off after kissing Kalak on the cheek, and Kira was certain that the next time they met, she was going to make sure she won their battle. Both her and Kalak were pleased at the outcome of the day, even though Kalak would have liked for Sierra to come along.

Kira awoke at around three in the morning when she heard a loud cry. It was a Pokémon’s cry. She went into Kalak’s tent to see if he had heard the crying, and found him very soundly asleep, muttering something about chocolate. She giggled, and took a long moment to observe his peaceful face. Even after knowing him for so long, she had never seen him so peaceful. She also couldn’t get over how cute Shinx was, sleeping curled up to Kalak and snoring, obviously just as sound a sleeper as his trainer. Suddenly remembering why she was awake after hearing the crying start again, she left the tent and sent out Eevee. She appeared tired and came out yawning, but was ready to help Kira out. As they ventured towards the crying, the darkness of the wooded path was really beginning to scare Kira and the crying became more eerie. After many wild battles and a small bit of walking, Kira and Eevee finally found the source of the crying. It was an injured Pichu who had obviously been cruelly abandoned by some trainer. There was a smashed pokéball lying near him.

 

“Poor thing! Don’t worry. We are going to help you! Kira ran back through the woods with Pichu cradled in her arms and Eevee leading the way. Once back at camp, she treated Pichu with potions and food. He was very grateful. “Listen cutie…do you want to came with me and my friends? I promise to never let you be treated that way again!” Kira asked with a gentle, kind voice. Pichu looked unsure, but then looked up and nodded with a happy cry of “Chu chuuuu!”

“Ok then, welcome aboard little cutie!” Kira said with the push of a button on a pokéball.

 

Up to the Challenge

 

            When Kalak woke up to the smell of food, he immediately darted out of his tent, and found Kira making something over a fire. He took a spoon from the pouch of silverware and tried to sneakily steal a taste. Kira noticed, and said, “Fine, but it isn’t quite ready yet…” as a sly smile played across her lips, hidden from Kalak, who took a bite and discovered that he couldn’t stand the taste of what he had just eaten. He didn’t want to upset Kira by insulting her cooking, and forced himself to swallow it. He then chugged down some water, spitting the taste out as best he could. Then, Kira gave him a sad look and said, “Kalak…don’t’ you like my cooking? I made this special you know…” Kalak felt terrible and didn’t know what to say. Then Kira’s concentration broke and her feigned frowning face became a big smile as she burst out laughing. “That’s what you get for trying to steal a taste of Pokémon food!” she said, sounding triumphant.

 

            “Oh, thank God! You mean I don’t have to eat that every day? Wow, Pokémon have weird taste!” Kalak said as a wave of embarrassment and relief flowed over him. He took note of the meal’s smell for the future. Then he noticed that there were one too many faces present. “Uh, Kira…Who’s Pichu is that!?” he asked.

 

            “Well maybe if you weren’t a Snorlax when you sleep you would know that I caught him last night! He was crying and it woke me…somebody abandoned him and left him injured. It was terrible! I had to save my the poor little guy, and here he is!” As Kira finished, Kalak’s stomach made the next remark.

 

            “Maybe you should make some human food now? Heh, I’m starved!” he said. The two trainers and their Pokémon ate quickly then got on their way down the road to Serenade City. “So…did you read my mind yesterday, or were you just grasping for excuses?” Kalak asked Kira.

 

            “What do you mean?”

 

            “I mean when you told Sierra that I was taking the gym challenge. Because I’ve been meaning to ask if you would mind…you know, since you already have three” He explained.

 

            “Of course I don’t mind. It’ll be nice to revisit some old places…But yes, I was just looking for an excuse.” Kira said, adding the part about the excuse under her breath. Kalak’s sharp ears caught it and he chuckled. Then, he heard something else. It sounded like the crackling of fire. Kira could smell smoke too.

 

            “Kira, is there a fire in the woods?” Kalak asked, running impulsively to the edge of the trees and into the forest.

 

            “Kalak wait! It could be dangerous!” she called after him. “Oh no…lets go in after him Eevee” she said running into the woods. The trees were not very dense, and yet Kira couldn’t see any fire. She could, however, see Kalak still running and gave chase. Shinx was just ahead of him, and he suddenly changed directions at a sharp angle and leapt forward, then jumped back and circled around something. Clearly, this was a battle. As she drew near, Kira saw that there had been no fire. It was just a Cyndaquil. Shinx had also weakened it significantly.

 

            “Nice job Shinx. Now, let’s wrap this up!” Kalak said, tossing a pokéball. Cyndaquil was captured successfully and Kalak nursed him to health, excited to have a new friend.

 

            “He sure is getting used to the idea of making friends” thought Kira.

 

The group was soon on their way to Serenade City once more. The whole way there, the sound of running water could be heard in the distance coming from the woods. It was the sound of Harmone’s famous Serenade Creek, which ran from way up north to the southern shore. It’s soft babbling usually calmed people, but Kira felt unnerved as she recalled almost drowning in it. Her thoughts were interrupted by Kalak as he shouted, “Kira, it’s Serenade! Wow, it looks so cool…How does it never flood?” He asked, referring to the fact that the city seemed to float on water, each street filled with people on small personal watercrafts and Pokémon. The water source was a small waterfall that came over a small cliff face from Serenade Creek, which was more river-like near here. As Kalak, Kira, Eevee and Shinx stepped through the entrance to the city, a woman kindly welcomed them and handed them a set of free rental keys to one of the watercraft used to travel the “streets”.

 

            “Ok Kalak, I’m going off to do some shopping. But first I’ll show you to the gym…are you ready for your first challenge?” Kira asked, excited for him.

 

            “Sure am. Let me guess, the leader uses water types? No problem for Shinx!” Kalak said, even more excited. Kira piloted the small boat to the heart of the city where there was, much to Kalak’s amazement, a giant water park. Kira explained that at the center of the park was the battle field and that Serenade Park was actually the gym. Kalak found his way through, glad his mother had advised he pack a bathing suit. He enjoyed the park for a little bit, then headed for the center of it where he met a man who didn’t seem much older than him, but at least 20 he guessed. He asked him if he knew when he could take the challenge, and was surprised when the man replied,

 

            “Well, seeing as I am the gym leader, Ratheus, I’d say that now’s a fine time young trainer! What is your name?”

 

            “Oh, hello Ratheus. I’m Kalak, from Prelude Town. It’s nice meeting you…so…shall we battle then?”

 

            “Absolutely Kalak, it’d be my pleasure. You know, only one trainer from Prelude has ever challenged this gym during my time as a leader.” Ratheus said as the two walked to the battlefield.

 

            “Was her name Kira? I’m actually traveling with her! She is here too, shopping” Kalak told Ratheus. “She should be here at some point with our boat.”

 

            “Ah, so you are the boy that Kira befriended before leaving home! I know you Kalak, but I don’t know if you remember me. You see, I’m friends with Kira’s mother, and I visited Prelude to see both her and the lovely Prelude Beach many years ago. She meant to introduce me to her daughter, but she said she was off in the woods playing with you! Haha, what a small world, huh?…But enough of that. Let’s battle!” Ratheus sent out a Golduck and when Kalak tried to tell Shinx to go out, Cyndaquil came of his ball and stepped forward, flames burning hot.

 

            “You sure about this buddy? It’s a water type gym you know” warned Kalak. The determined Cyndaquil wouldn’t back down, so Kalak let him fight, and was impressed when he defeated both Golduck and a Marill. Then, Ratheus sent out his last Pokémon, Gyarados. Overwhelmed by Gyarados’s power, Cyndaquil was knocked out. Shinx was up next and finished the battle quickly and easily.

            “Wow, That’s some nice talent there Kalak!” Ratheus said in congratulations. “I hereby award you with this, your first badge, the coral badge!” He said, placing the small metal badge in Kalak’s hand. Then he went over to a small box and retrieved a case of sorts for Kalak. “This is your badge case. It will come in handy for storing them as you go, or if you decide to wear your badges, you can store them in here once you have finished your traveling many years from now!” he said.

 

            “Thank you so much Ratheus, I’m excited to have my first badge!” Kalak said as he placed the badge in his new case and stashed the case away in his bag. Then, Kira, who had been watching from afar, came forward applauding Kalak.

 

            “Good going Kal, you sure have come far since when I left you in Prelude you know!” She said. “How are you Ratheus? It’s been a little while, huh?” she then said, greeting Ratheus. The three trainers talked for hours, and Ratheus invited them to stay at his place for the evening. They happily accepted and went straight there after stopping at the pokécenter. When Kalak was congratulating his team on victory, Cyndaquil seemed distraught, and refused to do much celebrating. Then, at Ratheus’s house, he wouldn’t even help them to light a fire. That night, Kira took his pokéball outside and called him out.

 

            “Hey buddy, look…we need to have a chat. You seem really down about your battle today” Kira said, trying to be as friendly as possible, even though she had been annoyed by Cyndaquil’s lack of cooperation during the evening. “Kalak tries really hard to keep you happy you know, otherwise he wouldn’t have gone out of his way to catch you. You need to cooperate a little more. Battling is a team effort, and a shared responsibility. You shouldn’t feel down about battling today since you played a big role in winning. I know that you are a very proud Pokémon, and that’s ok. Just don’t be upset about losing to a water type. The way you battled today was amazing, even though I didn’t see it. You know Kalak feels the same way too. So will you do what he asks now? He is upset that you won’t listen to him.”

When Kira finished, Cyndaquil hopped on her lap and lit a very low flame to warm her. She giggled and thanked him, and then he placed a kiss on her face. Kira just laughed and said, “You know Cyndaquil, don’t tell anybody, especially Kalak, but I sort of wish that he would do the same sometimes…But remember, no telling! Tehe”

            In the morning, Kalak and Kira thanked Ratheus for his hospitality and then left after promising to visit. On their way out, a young boy leapt out of the woods and knocked Kalak flat on his back.

 

            “Hey, what’s the deal here!?” Kalak said, getting up and rubbing his back.

 

            “Oops, sorry trainer…but anyways, I want to battle with you! I saw you beat Ratheus yesterday, and I bet I can beat you! If I do, then I know I can beat him!” Kalak accepted the boy’s challenge, and they battled. Kalak sent out Starly and the boy used a Bronzor. Starly was knocked out, and Shinx put to sleep by a hypnosis attack. Kalak’s last hope was Cyndaquil, who he felt unable to rely on. Cyndaquil, however, surprised him very much by defeating not only Bronzor, but a Scizor too. The boy paid his prize money then went off to train, remarking about how cool Kalak’s Cyndaquil was. Kalak was very proud of Cyndaquil for overcoming his loss, and Kira winked at him as he returned to his pokéball. Now, just like his trainer, Cyndaquil was up to the challenge.

 

Corruption among the Trusted

 

As they approached a fork in the road, Kalak and Kira debated on which path to take. The two ways into Minuet Town were either by going through Buzz Forest, or up a steep mountain path and through some caves. Most trainers preferred to take the forest route, but Kira was afraid of it for one reason: Buzz Forest was notorious for bug types.

 

“Kalak, it’s just a little bit of a climb…” Kira said, in a desperate attempt to convince him. He was set on taking the woods.

 

“That isn’t what Ratheus said. He told us it was a rough place to travel through, especially without an HM for rock smash. I don’t think the Forest is nearly as dangerous either” Kalak responded, unwavering in his decision.

 

“Well…Fine! But I swear Kalak, if I am touched by ONE bug…” Kira began to threaten him.

 

“Don’t worry about it, I’ll protect you from the icky bugs” Kalak said mockingly. Kira gave him a good punch in the arm, and he shut up for the time. They entered the forest, and almost immediately found themselves surrounded by more bug Pokémon than they could count. Kira shrieked loudly, frightening many of them off, but none of them seemed to be the least bit aggressive. They were just Pokémon in their natural environments. Occasionally, a Pokémon would attack, but none were difficult to defeat. That was until a single, harmless looking Weedle approached Kalak.

He didn’t even think that it was attacking until it pricked him in the shin with its head spike, looking disturbingly innocent as it did so. Kalak fell over holding his leg and swearing, and Kira couldn’t help but crack up at his defeat by a single Weedle.

 

“H-hey! That really hurt! It’s not funny…” Kalak said, getting to his feet and looking around for the Weedle.

 

“Wouldn’t have happened if we’d taken the cave route, tehe” Kira teased.

 

“Where’d that little jerk go anyway?” Kalak asked. Just then, some bushes rustled, and Shinx stepped through them with the Weedle squirming in his teeth. He walked to Kalak’s feet and looked up at him with a proud expression as Weedle wiggled helplessly. Kalak just laughed and said “Good job boy. You know, I love Pokémon with spirit like that Weedle…Shinx, use bite…just be careful not to squish him!” Shinx obeyed, and then set the weakened bug on the ground. Kalak unclipped an empty pokéball and Kira’s eyes widened.

 

“A-are you really going to…You c-can’t bring a…Kalak, are you seriously b-bringing a b-bug Pokémon with us!?!?” she half-yelled. Kalak just smiled and looked at her. She felt a wave of disgust pass through and through, and Kalak dropped the ball at his feet where Weedle was, still smirking at Kira. “Eeeeeww! Kalak, please don’t let him near me...I…I’m afraid of bugs…”

 

“Oh really?” Kalak remarked sarcastically. “I couldn’t tell from the way you wanted to climb the mountain so badly!” Kalak healed Weedle, and discovered that he now had a mortal fear of Shinx, no matter how friendly he tried to be. Shinx was beginning to feel discouraged. “Aw, don’t worry pal. With time, I’m sure he’ll forgive you” Kalak encouraged him. As the group moved on, they were within eyesight of the forest’s exit when two Team Galactic grunts ambushed them and tried to steal Shinx.

 

“Ugh…This wouldn’t have happened if-

 

“Yeah, yeah…If we’d taken the cave route…” Kalak finished for Kira. He decided it was time to test out his new friend’s power, and was rather amused when he heard the one male grunt mutter, “Oh jeez…It’s that same Weedle that stabbed my shin earlier!”

 

“How’s that feeling by the way?” asked his female companion.

 

“Oh, it’s fine…just hurt like mad earlier…Well then, let’s get on with it! Go, Mareep!” the male grunt replied. The woman sent out a Budew. Kalak and Kira prevailed once more, chasing the grunts off, but this time the male shouted, “Next time, we will be certain to have you!”

 

“Kalak, have you noticed that those two particular grunts have attacked us quite often? They are very interested in Shinx, it seems” Kira commented.

 

“Actually I have noticed. They are the same ones that took him in Chime town, and they attacked us at Galactic HQ as well. It must be because Shinx are so extremely rare, and they are interested in him” Kalak said.

 

“Tehe, you hear that Shinxy? You’re quite special!” Kira said, patting him on the head. Shinx always happily approved of Kira’s love pats.

Minuet Town was not far from the end of Buzz Forest. The sounds of the running creek and buzzing bugs of all sorts finally faded, replaced by a constant refreshing breeze and the beautiful aromas of all sorts of flowers.

 

“Oh, Kalak, do you smell that? This is one of my favorite places in Harmone, Minuet Town!” Kira said, twirling and skipping about. She was a little too excited in Kalak’s opinion, but he did think it was awfully cute, especially the way Eevee frolicked along with her and was barely visible through all of the thousands of colorful flowers. The town sat among this small floral plain, with dirt paths cut clear through the flowers. He assumed that all of the plant life was because of all the Butterfree and Beautifly and other pollen carrying Pokémon in the forest that was so close by. The two were soon greeted by a girl in a green dress who appeared to be a trainer of sorts. “Verda! Long time no see, huh?” Kira said, hugging her. Verda seemed to be feeling very awkward, and only half hugged Kira back.

 

“Oh, uh…yea…hi. Have…we met before?” She asked.

 

“Oh, you don’t remember? Ok then, sorry Verda.” Kira said, very disappointed. “I challenged the gym a few years ago, and you were very friendly to me. I promised to come back someday, so…here I am” she added, a weak smile on her face failing to mask the disappointment in her eyes.

 

“Sorry Kira, I get a lot of challengers here” Verda said. “Who is your friend?”

 

“Oh, I’m Kalak. I’m here to challenge you, actually!” Kalak answered for her.

 

“Well then, let’s head to the gym! That is, after you heal up your Pokémon” The gym leader said, gesturing towards the pokécenter. After taking Verda’s advice, Kira went off to do some shopping at the pokémart and to do some training while Kalak battled. The gym was a large dirt battle court in the middle of a massive flowery meadow that stretched to the distant mountains. “Ok Kalak, let’s battle!” The fight didn’t last long, as Starly and Cyndaquil easily overcame the grass types Verda used...but Kalak couldn’t help but feel as though things had been too effortless after he received his shrub badge.

He left to find Kira, but she was nowhere to be found. A man approached him and asked if he was looking for a girl with long red hair, and Kalak said yes. Then, the man said he had just seen her and Verda going off into Buzz Forest about a half hour ago. Kalak immediately knew that something was amiss, because he had just seen Verda minutes ago. He went to the local police station and told an officer who introduced herself as Officer Jenny about this strange situation.

 

“Alright kid, hop in my sidecar! We are off to the woods!” Jenny shouted very authoritatively. They arrived in no time and found Kira being carried away by Verda, who had Kira’s pokéballs locked up in a cage in her other hand.

 

“Verda! Stop right there! What do you think you are doing with that girl and her Pokémon!?” shouted Jenny.

 

“Oh, shoot. And I was keeping up the charade so well…or at least my impersonator was!” Verda began, a menacing smirk across her face. “Well, no point in hiding it now! I’m surprised you too so long to figure it out, actually officer…About one year ago, I was approached by a man. He was the Leader of Team Galactic! He offered me loads of money to steal trainers’ Pokémon if they seemed strong. I remembered that this girl Kira had an Eevee, quite rare as you know…I waited for her return from the day I received the offer, because I know the boss would pay loads for it! Anyway, I figured that people might catch on to my theft if it was only trainers who I had just battled who were getting robbed, so I used just a small portion of my pay to hire an imposter to play my role as gym leader. It was all working so well until this little mishap…so I’m going to have to destroy you in battle as payback!” Verda finished, sending out a Carnivine, the same as the impostor Verda had. The fake really had copied everything about her, right down to her battle style.

 

“Go, Starly!” Kalak yelled as he tossed his pokéball. He and Cyndaquil once more defeated the same Pokémon as before, even if they were much more difficult to defeat this time around. They were clearly trained better.

 

“No! Ugh, I’ve lost my edge…” Verda muttered as Officer Jenny handcuffed her and stuck her in her sidecar.

 

“Thank you Kalak, you did great. I’ll be sure to get you a reward of some kind once I book this gal and interrogate her. Now we have a lead on the identity of Team Galactic’s Boss!” Jenny said as she started up her engine.

 

“Thank you officer, but I’m just doing what I need to in order to save a friend. I don’t need any-

 

“Nonsense! You will get your reward, promise!”Jenny called, darting off as her engine roared into the distance. Kalak looked at Kira, who was now on her knees crying softly.

 

“It’s ok now Kira, you’ll be fine” He said in a soft voice.

 

“But what about Verda? We were friends…we were friends, Kalak, and she kidnapped me. Who can I trust anymore anyway?” Kira cried. It always bothered Kalak when she was not her bubbly self.

 

“I’m always here for you to rely on, ok? I won’t turn on you, I promise” Kalak said, reaching down for Kira’s hand. She took it and he gently pulled her off the ground and hugged her tight. Just as the light of the setting sun was turning the forest a beautiful collaboration of jade, amber and ruby, the two trainers looked into each other’s eyes, Kira whispered,

 

“Thank you, Kalak…” They held their stares, and their face seemed to slowly close distance until they were just an inch apart. Then, Kira began to press forward and Kalak looked away, distracted by a sudden call of:

 

“Hey there trainer, I beat Ratheus! Now, I’m finally going to beat you in a rematch!” It was the boy from Serenade City, and he was prepped for battle. Kalak enthusiastically jumped right into the fray, and Kira stood wide-eyed with her jaw hanging, wondering how she could have come so close and not succeeded.

 

“Hah, and he says he won’t turn on me? What a total guy move! Sigh…always more chances I suppose tehe!” Kira thought to herself, giggling at the idea of a kiss and enjoying watching her hero win another fantastic battle as the sun finished setting.

 

Enter Leo and Lilly!

 

As Kalak and Kira waited for their Pokémon to finish eating their breakfast before departing the next day, Kira couldn’t help but notice the expression disappointment that Kalak now wore.

 

            “Hey Kalak, what’s the matter? Aren’t you excited to get going to Melody Town?” she asked, trying to cheer him up.

 

            “I guess so…maybe I can win a real gym badge there…” He said apathetically.

 

            “What are you talking about? I don’t recall you winning any fake ones” Kira said, now confused.

 

            “Well, I didn’t exactly earn my shrub badge you know…I just beat on some cheap impersonator and won without a challenge. This badge proves nothing!” explained Kalak as he rested his chin on his folded arms on the table in front of him with a sigh.

 

            “But Kalak, don’t you see? You not only defeated the fake Verda, but you also won against the real deal. It may not have been official and she may have been a…criminal” Kira kind of got caught up on the word, thinking of the girl who was once her friend “but still, you proved yourself worthy by winning!” Kira said, certain this would help. She was glad to see Kalak’s eyes light up at this realization and his slump become a proud posture as he pondered this. “Feeling better already? You sure are hard on yourself you know” Kira said with a smile. Then, her attention shifted to a man walking through the doorway of the house they had stayed in. He had been given orders by Officer Jenny to provide “these two crime-busters” with a nice place to stay.

 

            “Howdy there, fellas! How’d you sleep last night? Hope the beds were comfy enough for our local heroes, haha!” said the man, whose name was James. He was rugged in appearance and his voice was kind of rough, but he couldn’t have been kinder or said nicer things. He was also the same man who had tipped off Kalak about where Kira was the day before. Kira and Kalak each thanked him for his hospitality before packing their belongings and walking out the door. Just before they were out of earshot, James ran outside and shouted for them to come back. They ran back to his doorstep and he informed them that he had just heard bad news on the TV. The route to Melody Town, which passed through Echo Cavern, had been blocked by a cave in.

 

            “Now what are we supposed to do? It could take days for them to clear a path…” Kira moped.

 

            “Well, you two are most certainly welcome to stay a few more nights if ya need!” James offered. The trainers accepted the kind invitation, each already planning ahead for their prolonged stay in Minuet Town. They spent the rest of that day doing some training out in the large meadow and bonding some more. They talked about the years they spent apart in greater detail and reminisced on their younger days together.

 

            “So all that time, you were really just waiting for me to come out and join you?” Kalak asked Kira. They were discussing why Kira never returned home at all.

            “Well…yea. I just felt after a while that it wasn’t good for you to stay cooped up, so to speak. I mean, look at you now! You are becoming a great trainer. Sure, you still need work, but you are getting there” Kira responded with a big smile.

 

            “I know, I just wish you could have come around more often to convince me in person…I really missed you Kira!” When she heard Kalak say that, Kira blushed a little, though it was hard to tell in the dark meadow at night. With his impressive sight, however, Kalak did notice. He didn’t say anything, just chuckled to himself.

 

            “And I’m sure Shinx is glad to be out traveling, right?” Kira added after a moment of silence. She was agreed with by a happy bark and lick on the face from Shinx himself. She laughed and Kalak sat up to look at her and Shinx play. Eevee joined in and she and Shinx just ended up chasing each other around while their trainer’s talked the night away. The next day proved more eventful than this one.

            Around two in the afternoon, Kalak and his Pokémon were out doing more training when he heard Kira calling for him to come quickly. He ran, his Pokémon following, all the way to the Pokécenter where Kira was facing off against two familiar faces. It was the same two grunts they had encountered in the forest and the few times before that

 

            “Won’t you two ever just give up?” Kalak asked, annoyed at their presence. He ordered Shinx out to fight alongside Eevee.

 

            “We most certainly will not just give up!” the female grunt said in her familiar overly dramatic voice.

 

            “Not until we have finally secured the capture of that rare Eevee, and even rarer Shinx!” added the male grunt, his hand running through his spiky blond hair. His Mareep was already on the battlefield next to his partner’s Budew.

 

            “Well just who are you guys anyway? Why can’t you find someone else to bother?” Kira asked, also very annoyed.

 

            “What?! All of these encounters and we haven’t once introduced our fine selves? I’m surprised that you don’t know us by name already, Kira and Kalak of Prelude Town!” The female said with a smirk.

 

            “Ok, that is just creepy!” Kira shouted

 

            “And we already told you why we won’t go away darling. We want your rare Pokémon!” the male said. “You can call me Leo! The prince of petty theft!” he said.

 

            “And I, Lilly, the beauty of burglary!” The female added. “Now that we are acquainted, it should be even more fun to beat you than it would’ve been!” she said.

 

            “Do those seem like kind of…lame nicknames Kalak?” Kira whispered.

 

            “I’ll say. And I don’t think they have ever actually won a battle with us either” Kalak added aloud.

 

            “Oh yea? Well that is about to change!” Leo said as he ordered Mareep to attack Shinx. Shinx sidestepped Mareep’s tackle and used a spark attack while Eevee reflected Budew’s absorb with mirror coat. With the battle already going their way, Kalak and Kira once more finished up quickly and Leo and Lilly just stared at the ground for a moment.

 

            “I meant…it was going to change…next time…” said Leo, humiliation the dominant emotion in his voice. “Let’s go Lilly…what a waste of time…” he said as the two ran off, Lilly just scowling in the face of defeat.

 

            “We’re going to see them again, aren’t we?” Kalak asked.

 

            “I…want to say no, but…” Kira trailed off. After that, the two had their Pokémon healed and decided to try and get an update on Echo Cavern. Apparently, it was still too bad for travel, but would likely be ready again by afternoon of the next day. They decided to turn in early at James’ in order to get sufficient rest for their journey. After a nice dinner, Kalak and Shinx went to their bed, as did Kira and Eevee. They fell asleep and dreamed of the long journey, so full of excitement and mystery.

 

            Come 11:30 the next day, the group departed for the caverns. They were finally on their way to Melody Town where even more adventure awaited!

Fight in the Shadows

Excitement was practically bubbling out of Kira as she and Kalak approached the giant stone entrance to Echo Caverns, the tunnel system that would lead them to Melody Town. She couldn’t wait to see some old friends of hers and introduce Kalak to them (she had mentioned his name many times during her previous visits).

“What’s going on here? The lights are all out!” Kira’s cry echoed several times in the massive entryway.

“Heh, guess that’s why it’s called Echo Caverns” Kalak remarked. “The cave in must have knocked out the power as well. It’s funny that they would open it to travelers if it isn’t back up yet” He tossed out a pokéball. “Lead the way buddy!” he said to Cyndaquil, who happily lit a blaze upon his back that lit a path. The group moved on, and Kira went on about how much she wanted to see the folks in Melody Town for about a half an hour until suddenly she let out a shriek.

“Kalak, Zubat! She cried. There were four of them flying around her, moving in to attack.

“Cyndaquil, use ember!” Kalak called out, and Cyndaquil obeyed, scorching two of the aggressors and frightening off the others. Kira had hardly uttered the words ‘thank you’ before the Zubat returned with at least 16 others. Eevee leapt into the air and started to fight back and help Cyndaquil, and the Zubat finally backed off, but not until Cyndaquil and Eevee were exhausted.

“Kira, are you ok? Did they bite you?” Kalak asked frantically, rushing to Kira. He had an easy time seeing in the cave with his exceptional senses, but Kira was having difficulty. Cyndaquil was too exhausted to produce any more than a small flicker of fire.

“I’m fine, but Cyndaquil and Eevee aren’t in great shape. They don’t appear hurt though. How ‘bout we give them a rest?” Kira suggested. So Kalak and Kira recalled their Pokémon and continued to wander slowly through the confusing cave network, holding hands so that they didn’t get separated. Although she was a little uneasy in the darkness, Kira loved every second of it. They remained lost for a good bit of time, and Kalak suggested that they stop and rest for a while until Cyndaquil was well rested. Just as he suggested it, someone spoke, frightening them both.

“Hey, who’s there? You need some help finding the exit?” said the throaty man’s voice. He was completely invisible.

“Uh, yea, that’d be great actually. Kira replied, not sure whether or not she was even facing the speaker.

“Well, maybe you’re in luck then, friends” the voice replied, a sneer evident in his tone.

“Maybe? Look are you going to help us or not?” Kalak said, now cautious of the stranger. There was something he didn’t like at all about him.

“Well, you see folks, I live in Echo caverns, and even when the lights are on, people still manage to get lost. But light or dark, I know this place like the back of my hand! So I offer my assistance to anybody who can beat me in a battle. Whaddaya say?” The man asked.

“Guess it’s our best bet” Kalak replied. “Let’s do this!” He said, sending out Starly after he heard the sounds of a Kricketune. The fight was not very long, as the noisy bug type made for an easy target in the dark for Starly. But once it was over, the man, now using a more familiar voice said to Kalak:

“Look’s bad for you, loser! I may have lost the battle, but you have lost your way, and your girlfriend! Haha!” It was Leo.

“No! Kira!? Where are you!?” Kalak called out. Then, realizing that she had been successfully kidnapped yet again, he began sprinting after the sound of Leo’s fading footfalls in the cave. He couldn’t keep up in the dark, and became completely lost. “Ok Cyndaquil, I really need you here!” he said between gasps for air. When he came out, Cyndaquil let out a loud cry and set a huge blaze on his back, brightening the cave more than before. He was close to Kira, and upset at Team Galactic just as much as Kalak. Kalak called Shinx into his ball so that he could make haste to the exit, and he and Cyndaquil managed to find it in a matter of minutes.

“Great job Cyndaquil…return” said Kalak as they stood panting in the sunlit entrance in Minuet Town. Before resuming his chase, Kalak saw something gleaming on the cave floor. It was a pokéball. “Is that yours Kira? I sure hope not…” He thought as he picked it up. “Come on out, whoever is in here…” He said weakly as he pressed the button. Out came a distraught and angry Eevee. “Eevee! I’m glad you are safe…we have to find Kira!” Kalak urged, and Eevee nodded with a growl. The two ran straight to the Minuet police HQ, and ended up meeting Officer Jenny halfway there. Almost. She blew by them on her motorcycle, making a u-turn that screeched even on the dirt path.

“Kalak! What are you still doing around here? I was just on my way to catch up to you to give you your reward for helping us out” She said cheerily. Her smile quickly faded as she analyzed Kalak’s condition. “Hey, why the hurry…and the panicked expression? Where’s Kira?” She asked.

“Team Galactic again. They kidnapped her in the dark and I had no idea. I found Eevee though. And I’m ok. You have to help us find her, please!” Kalak explained quickly.

“Of course I do! Hop on!” Jenny replied, gesturing to her sidecar. The two hightailed it to the forest for a second time, stopping very suddenly when they found Kira suspended from a tree limb all tied up and blindfolded.

“What in the!? Kira! Are you ok!?” Jenny called out as she tried to find a way to get her down quickly.

“Officer Jenny!” Kira cried out frantically, sobbing.

“I’m here too Kira!” Kalak called to her. He hated seeing her that way, and wanted vengeance. He called upon Starly to cut the rope, catching Kira when she fell. He quickly untied the sobbing girl and Eevee removed her blindfold.

“K-Kalak…Eevee…they t-took…the others from m-me…I t-tried to release Eevee to help, but I dropped her ball…I’m so s-sorry Eevee!” Kira explained between sobs.

“I’m going after those rotten thieves Kira. Don’t worry about your Pokémon. Let me drive you to the pokécenter. You all need rest” Jenny said, sympathetic and very dutifully. She drove Kalak and Kira back to the pokécenter, where they were told to wait for her return. Kira wanted to go and help, but everybody knew she was in no condition physically or emotionally.

“Don’t worry Kira, Officer Jenny will do fine, I’m sure of it” Kalak tried to comfort Kira, but she continued to just cry, and Eevee curled up to her, the three of them falling asleep for hours while Kalak’s Pokémon were healed.

            Close to midnight, they were awakened by the door’s sliding opened and Officer Jenny running in, shouting something about ‘destroying that horrible syndicate once and for all if it was the last thing I ever did’.

“Kira, you have nothing to worry about sweetie. I have your Pokémon, all of them. They were not harmed, but those grunts got away…the ones that you described were not present, but they must have handed off your Pokémon to try and throw us off. Fortunately, the guy they gave ‘em to was a moron and actually said it aloud about how he ‘finally got to make a theft transfer. Idiot. Anyhow, he did get away, but not with these guys” Jenny finished, releasing the Pokémon from their balls. They all ran to Kira, and she embraced them all at once, her eyes overflowing with tears.

“Thank you…thank you so much Officer, you have no idea what would have happened if…if…” Kira broke off.

“I may have a better idea than you may think dear…I became a police officer because once, long ago, when I lived in the Hoen region, a terrible crime syndicate called Synthon Green stole my precious Ivysaur…” Jenny replied.

“What happened?” Kalak asked her.

“I was only seven…what could I do?... I never saw my best friend again” Jenny said softly, a distant look in her eyes as she turned away from the others.

“Jenny, that’s terrible! I’m so sorry…” Kira said to her in disbelief. All this time, she had been confident that no matter what, her Pokémon would be safe because someone was always standing up for her. She couldn’t imagine actually losing one of her friends like that. “They always returned…even Kalak” She thought.

“Don’t worry about it Kira…I’m happy that I can now help people like you and I who become victims of this…I may never knew what became of Ivysaur, but I believe that he still plays an important role in my life, even to this very day. In fact, especially on days like today. I got your friends back didn’t I?” Jenny said with a smile, now much cheerier.

“And in good health too!” the nurse interjected, bringing Kira’s Pokémon to her as quickly as she had rushed them to be treated. “I didn’t have to do anything, they were just a little shaken up is all” she said with a smile.

“Thank you all so much” Kira said.

“Not a problem Kira! It’s what people like me and Jenny do best. Help people! Which reminds me, you two really ought to think about heading back to Serenade City. There is a man there who gladly hands out the HM for the move flash. That will certainly help you to not get lost in the dark any more” Nurse Joy said.

“Good idea, thanks Nurse Joy” said Kalak. “It’s late now though…we should go ask if James would allow us to stay one more night so that we can head back that way tomorrow” he suggested.

“Sounds like a plan to me!” Kira chimed in, Eevee approving of the idea as well. She liked the food that James made for her.

The party was graciously taken in by James once more, and stayed the night, telling him all that had befallen them that day. Before slipping into slumber, Kira had a question for Kalak.

“Hey Kalak…do you think Officer Jenny really lost her Ivysaur?”

“Of course I do…don’t you? It was a pretty sad story”

“Well…yea, it’s just that…if I had lost any of my friends today, I would have never been able to go on…I mean, I have already had them taken from me before, and never thought I would make it if they didn’t come back to me”

“But they did. Things always work out in the end, don’t you think?”

“They didn’t for Jenny…but I guess she didn’t have friends as good as you”

“Kira, it was Jenny who got them back for you”

“I know. But you still helped…”

“I guess I know what it’s like to not have friends…and to lose them”

“But you found me!”

“And I’m glad I did Kira. Very glad…I’m also very sleepy though, and I need rest. Goodnight”

“Ok, goodnight Kalak!” Kira said back to him, blushing in the dark. “I’m very glad you found me too, Kalak. I guess with friends like you, I can go on through anything…” She thought happily as her consciousness faded away.

Melody Town Reunions

Early in the morning, the group awakened and set out for Serenade City the way that they came. The walk through Buzz Forest seemed to only last a few minutes. This time, Leo and Lilly weren’t there to pester them. They immediately found the house of the man that Nurse Joy had told them about because it was close to the entrance of the forest.

“What a cute little cabin! It looks so out of place in this city,” Kira commented. As they approached to knock on the door, Kalak noticed Shinx seem to perk up and pace excitedly. “What’s Shinx’s deal?” Kira wondered aloud.

“Oh, you can’t smell that?” Kalak replied. “Somebody inside is making Pokémon food.”

“Really? How can you smell it?”

“You know my senses. Acute and accurate,” Kalak told her proudly. Kira rolled her eyes and knocked on the door. Almost instantly, a tall man with a large black beard opened it and in a big voice said, “Hello! Do come in, Make yourselves at home!”

“Thank you sir, my name is Kalak. This is Kira, Eevee, and Shinx,” Kalak said, pointing to each party member respectively, “What is your name?”

“Well, my name is Harley, but people who come to visit me, usually trainers like yourselves, call me Mr. Bright! You see, I love helping trainers to achieve their goals by offering shelter, food, and most importantly, I distribute the HM for the move flash!” Harley told them.

“Oh, Mr. Bright, I get it. Cause you light up trainers’ lives! Literally, tehe,” Kira said.

“Um…right Kira. Anyway, that is precisely why we came to see you Mr. Bright. We need one of your HMs to get through Echo Cavern. So can you help us out?” Kalak said.

“Why of course my friend, Mr. Bright is at your service!” Harley said with a chuckle. He listened carefully to tales of Kalak and Kira’s adventure so far as he prepared them some food and put out food for their Pokémon. After they had eaten lunch, they each thanked Harley and went on their way with the HM in hand.

“So…do you know how to use this?” Kalak asked Kira. He realized that even with the HM, there seemed to be no obvious function for it. It was just a disk with information stored on it.

“Of course I know! We need to go to a pokécenter, so let’s head to the one here,” Kira told him. They walked (and rafted) to the pokécenter of Serenade City, and as they entered, Kira pointed out the PC and Kalak loaded the disc into it. A tiny platform extended out of the bottom, and a computerized voice prompted them to have the desired Pokémon to step on.

“Oh…who are we going to teach flash?” Kalak asked Kira.

“I have just the right little guy!” Kira said, tapping Pichu on the head. He leapt onto the metal platform, and a burst of energy surged through him.

“Oh! Is he ok!?” Kalak shouted. The sudden energy burst seemed violent to him.

“He is fine, Kalak. You have obviously never used a TM or HM,” Kira said laughing. When the light faded, Pichu happily skipped off of the platform, and the disc ejected. Kalak took it and put it in his bag.

“Well then…that was, uh, exciting. Now let’s go! Finally, Melody Town awaits!”

“HEY YOU!” a loud voice called, interrupting Kalak’s excitement. Kira and Kalak looked over at a little boy and little girl running towards them. They reached them, panting and red in the face. The girl had dried tears on her face. “Y-you two…are trainers…r…right?” The young boy asked, breathless.

“Yea, is everything ok?” Kira asked, deeply concerned. Suddenly, they each grabbed Kalak and Kira by the hands and started running the way they came, the girl crying out that there wasn’t much time. Now Kalak, who had assumed they were looking for a battle, was concerned as well. He could sense an aura of pure fear radiating from the children.

They finally stopped running in a small square full of tall buildings near the beginning of the waterfall’s flow, their clothes damp from trudging through the waterways.

“You see that big place?” The boy panted, pointing to the tallest of the skyscrapers.

“Our mom and dad work there!” The girl said in a shrill cry. Kalak and Kira had no idea what to make of this.

“Is there something wrong with that?” Kira asked, now annoyed. She didn’t think these kids had any real problem. Kalak could still feel the fear in them however. The children then quickly explained that Team Galactic had entered the building and forced their parents to stay there and build something.

“Kalak, we have to stop them! They can’t get away with taking hostages!” Kira said with her gaze fixed at the top of the building as she wondered what Team Galactic wanted built.

“Right. Let’s go,” He said, running inside. He and Shinx were prepared to battle anybody who got in their way. They were surprised to find that the building was devoid of anybody.

“Weird…where is Team Galactic?” Kira pondered as she entered with Eevee, also ready to battle. They found that the elevator was out of commission, and began climbing twenty flights of stairs. Once they reached the second to last floor, they were out of breath and sweating, but almost relieved to find that there were Galactic grunts waiting here. They suddenly found themselves surrounded by various Pokémon, ten in all, and sent out all they had. Pichu, Shinx, Cyndaquil, Pidgeoto, Kirlia, Starly, and Eevee. The massive fight lasted almost twenty minutes, and Kalak and Kira came out victorious, only Pichu knocked out.

“Shit…everybody upstairs, NOW!” one grunt called out, and they all ran up the last flight of steps. Kalak and Kira followed, and found themselves in a room where a familiar face awaited.

“Mars! What’s going on here?” Kalak called out to the Galactic Commander who had taken Shinx from him.

“Oh, if it isn’t the cute little couple, Kalak and Kira from Trill City!” Mars said.

“You mean these are the ones that beat you!?” said a woman with violet hair who was also in a commander’s uniform.

“Don’t worry Jupiter, nobody can beat us when we team up!” Commander Mars said, issuing the challenge to Kalak and Kira.

“Are you ready for this Kalak?” Kira asked as she quickly used some potions on her Pokémon. They were still injured from the battle moments ago.

“When you are!” Kalak replied, doing the same. The Galactic Commanders’ Pokémon were already prepared to fight. It only took Shinx and Eevee to overcome the four Pokémon that their opponents were using, but it seemed odd to Kalak. He could sense something like accomplishment emanating from the Commanders.

“Well, I guess we have to let you go now!” Mars said as she prompted the parents of the children to go with Kalak and Kira.

“Giving up just like that, huh?” Kira mocked.

“Not quite. You see, in the time it took us to lose that fight, Commander Saturn made off with our newest project, the theft ball!” Jupiter said as she laughed, but still seemed to blush over her loss to two kids.

“What a strange turn of events…it looks like I’m opening the elevator for you twerps again,” Mars said apathetically.

“Uh…yea. Thanks,” Kira said to her, unwillingly flashing a look of pity. Once everybody was outside after an extremely awkward elevator ride, Mars and Jupiter ran off before Kalak and Kira could go for help arresting them. The two children had been waiting outside, and ran with tears in their eyes to their parents, who rewarded Kalak and Kira with a good sum of cash. After thanking them over and over, the father of the children began to explain exactly what had happened.

“You see, we here at Serenade Industrial use hydroelectric power to produce a variety of helpful items specifically for trainers like yourselves. We make a variety of pokéballs, and Team Galactic demanded that we build them a pokéball that could steal from trainers and put them under their control. At first we laughed at them, because we thought that it was impossible. But then, they showed us blueprints involving the use of a mysterious kind of rock they called “the soul of Harmone”. They left us the materials overnight, and we constructed a prototype simply to see if it was at all possible. It turns out that it worked very well…and so we destroyed it to ensure that it would never be put to use. The next day, we told them we had failed, but it turns out they were monitoring us with our own security cameras. They cleared the place out with threats of Pokémon attacks, and forced my wife and I to build it…or to be thrown out the window,” finished the man with a shudder.

“So…this ‘theft ball’…what can it do?” Kira asked                                                             

“Well, first I must explain the basics of how a pokéball works,” began the father of the children. “You see, when a Pokémon is captured, they are imprinted with the energies of that ball, and are only able to be returned into that ball. The theft ball uses a new kind of energy, boosted by the mysterious energy housed within the fragment of the Soul of Harmone that we refer to as a soul stone. It is far more powerful than any regular energy, and can overpower the frequency of a regular pokéball,” he finished.

“But why would being transferred into another ball change the loyalty of the Pokémon over to a different trainer?” Kalak questioned.

“Well, that’s the thing…the ball has three different settings. The first is an emerald colored beam that is used to overpower a Pokémon and capture it. The second, the sapphire beam, entrances a Pokémon in addition to making captures, causing it to be subject to commands from the thief. The third…I pray that you understand that I was being threatened with death upon creating this wretched device…it is an amber colored beam that, when a command is entered from the keypad, sends pain through the Pokémon in order to “break it in”, as Team Galactic put it,” explained the man with a saddened expression.

“That’s awful!” Kira shouted at him.

“They had no choice Kira…other than to be tossed to their deaths,” Kalak reminded her softly.

“Well, thank you again for your help Kalak and Kira,” said the children’s mother.

“It was no big deal, just doing what we do!” Kira said, flashing a wide smile. Kalak shot her an inquisitive glance, and she just shrugged in reply. They then parted ways with the reunited family and were on their way to Echo Cavern in order to finally reach Melody Town. It was beginning to grow dark, but with the help of Pichu’s new move, they were unconcerned. Once they reached Minuet Town and informed everybody that they had succeeded (and told Officer Jenny about what had happened), they quickly set off for the caves.

“It almost seems darker in here than before…” Kira said.

“Well, let’s fix that then!” Kalak hinted at Kira with a nudge.

“Oh, right! Ok Pichu, light this place up! Use flash!” Pichu jumped off Kira’s shoulder and let out a powerful cry as white light shone brilliantly around him. Kalak and Kira had to cover their eyes as light flooded the massive tunnel system and seemed to settle in the walls as it faded to a dim glow that lit the way. “Wow! That was amazing!” Kira said as she hugged Pichu and he let out a grateful squeal.

“Well, let’s get going then! It’s still getting late,” Kalak reminded the group. Eevee and Shinx nodded in agreement. After about a half an hour of navigating the well lit tunnels of Echo Caverns, Kalak and Kira finally saw an exit ahead of them. Outside, it was already dark out, but fires could be seen close to the mouth of the cave.

“Is it a forest fire!?” Kira shrieked.

“Let’s go see,” Kalak said, running ahead with Shinx once again into a potential fire. Much to the surprise of both trainers, when they got outside, they were greeted with cheers and applause from a big group of people and their Pokémon. There was a party of sorts going on with a bonfire burning high, and decorations everywhere.

“W-What IS all of this?” Kira cried out in surprise.

“This is a celebration for two magnificent trainers! We heard all about you two and your exploits with Verda and the rest of Team Galactic, and would like to thank you very much on behalf of everybody here and in Minuet!” explained a girl who stepped out of the crowd. “Oh, and nice to see you again Kira, Eevee!” she added with a glance at the pair.

“Ariel! Whoa, this is sweet! We get a party just for coming here?” Kira said as she hugged her old friend. “Kalak, this is Ariel. I met her last time I was here when I was earning my gust badge! Only natural, seeing as she is the gym leader!” she said. Introductions went around for a while, and then Kalak and Kira joined in some of the many festivities provided by the people of Melody Town for their sake. As Kira explained to Kalak, the people there were very festive and very superstitious. This was one of her favorite places in Harmone, and now she felt at home again for the first time in a while.

“So what kinds of Pokémon live around here?” Kalak asked Ariel as they sat around the blazing bonfire enjoying various foods.

“Oh, we have a wide variety because of the multiple terrains here. There is obviously are cave systems, and then we have a bit of woods and then there’s Lake Flat just to the north. It’s home to all sorts of rare water types!” Ariel said with a distant look towards the lake.

“That’s great! I’m traveling with a pokédex, so I’m sure our stay here will be beneficial! Not to mention I’d like to challenge you for the gust badge when you get the opportunity!” Kalak said with a big smile. Ariel just continued staring off for a moment before snapping back into reality.

“Oh, yes, how about tomorrow? Tonight is about celebrating your previous victories,” she said softly.

“Right…Is something the matter Ariel? I can tell you are disturbed by something,” Kalak asked her.

“It’s just…with Team Galactic running around here lately and harassing us, it seems like all of those great Pokémon I just talked about don’t come around as often. They are ruining the environment!” Ariel explained as she glared into the fire. Then, a tear formed in her eye and ran down her cheek.

“Hey, is everything ok!?” Kira asked as she ran over to join them. Kalak explained what they had been discussing to Kira and she asked Ariel what Team Galactic had been up to recently.

“Well, they are always approaching me in disguises, asking if I will accept loads of money to work for them the way Verda did. And they had inhabited the lake for about a month or so and they were digging up there. They didn’t seem to find what they wanted, so they finally left, but they still come around with the bribes,” explained Ariel.

“That’s so awful! Can’t they do their own dirty work?” Kira said in a huff.

“I understand now, Ariel. You can trust me, ok?” Kalak said, placing his hand on her shoulder. Kira watched in amazement to see Kalak making this kind of contact with another that he barely knew. She was so happy to see him finally opening up. She didn’t understand what he meant, however.

“What do you mean Kalak?” asked the gym leader.

“I know that you didn’t just start to cry like that because you were sad about the Pokémon leaving. I felt something else in you…some form of what I interpreted as distrust. You were afraid that I might be another Galactic briber, am I right?” Kalak explained as if he were trying to read Ariel’s mind.

“That…is exactly right Kalak, but you’re correct…I have no reason to doubt you if you are such a compassionate person. And especially since you are a friend of Kira’s!” Ariel said, drying her eyes. “How did you know I was suspicious though?”

“I can feel waves of emotion from people and Pokémon. Not always, but strong ones, most of the time,” Kalak explained.

“That’s right, and he’s also got good senses! Like weird good!” Kira added.

“Well that is pretty impressive if I do say so myself!” Ariel said, and they all chuckled a little. As the night advanced, Kira found herself drawn to Lake Flat to see the view she had missed so much. The moon was high in the charcoal sky and I was casting a beautiful ray of pale light that stretched across the placid waters. As she looked on, Kira felt a nudge on her leg that scared her a little and made her jump.

“Oh! Eevee! I was wondering where you and Shinx and the others had wandered off to! Are you enjoying the party?” Kira asked as she sat down next to her friend, her heart still pounding a little. Eevee curled up in her lap and gazed up at the stars. Kira gazed down at their reflection in the sparkling lake, and then she noticed a figure in the reflection that didn’t belong. She whirled her head and saw that it was another familiar face.

“Oh, Marten! How are you? I didn’t see you here!” Kira said to Melody Town’s last gym leader, Ariel’s grandfather.

“Well if it isn’t Kira and Eevee! It’s wonderful to see you again. You have clearly grown stronger! I heard about your exploits around Harmone, working for the professor and thwarting Team Galactic! It must be an exciting life then! So, what are you doing out here?” Marten said as he slowly made his way beside Kira.

“Oh, I just wanted to see this beautiful view! It hasn’t faded from my memory since my last visit here! It’s just so wonderful!” Kira said as she stared out over the lake to the other side.

“Indeed it is! But let me ask you, you haven’t been sightseeing everywhere you go and not training, right? Could I trouble you for a battle?” Marten asked, a smile flashing across Kira’s face as he did.

“Ok, let’s do this! Go get’em Eevee!” Kira said, realizing that she only had one Pokémon with her right now.

“Don’t worry, I can see that this will be a one Pokémon battle. I choose Rhydon!” Marten said, sending his partner out.

“Rhydon…ok Eevee, get ready for a mirror coat!” Kira instructed.

“Heh heh, use dig Rhydon!” Marten said calmly. The large Pokémon effortlessly burrowed down and disappeared from sight. Eevee and Kira were both unsure of what to do.

“Eevee, I have a plan, jump in the water!” Eevee did as instructed (with a disapproving glance at her trainer) and leaped quickly in. Seconds later, Rhydon broke through the ground toward the shockwaves he felt coming from Eevee. He was very surprised to find himself in the lake. “Ok Eevee, now use quick attack!” Eevee swiftly swam down towards the struggling Rhydon and hit hard with a burst of energy. She got to the surface and leapt out for air, and Rhydon slowly made his way out. Once he did, Eevee hit him with a tackle and forced him backwards into the water again. The battle was won.

“Very impressive, using the elements to your advantage Kira!” Marten said as he withdrew Rhydon. The two looked out at the lake as they discussed the battle. “You know, the key to winning that battle was in understanding my strategy. You outsmarted me and Rhydon by using our own tactics against us. That was brilliant!” He said.

“Yea…you know Marten, I was thinking…what do you think Team Galactic has in mind? I mean, I want to do the same to them. Use their own plan to bring them down. They have really become a big problem when just a year ago they were mostly an annoyance.” Kira said, not withholding her true thoughts. Just then, when it seemed like there was nothing to be said, a roar broke the silence as a Gyarados leaped from the lake and dove back below. Kira and Marten both jumped and yelled, then laughed at the scare. As Kira watched the surface where the giant dragon had emerged, she saw something on the other side of the lake. It was floating out across the moonlight in the center of the lake. Without hesitation, she ran towards the beautiful swan-like shadow for a better look. It darted away to the opposite bank, and Kira followed. The mysterious creature continued to dodge Kira and she was beginning to get frustrated.

“Kira, remember what we just discussed…use its strategy against it,” Marten said with a smile and Kira nodded while she caught her breath. She ran back to where she had been and then circled around the entire lake to give the creature a hard time. She continued to make half laps until she was finally face to face with a stunningly beautiful Lapras. She immediately sent Eevee to battle with it. In minutes, the Pokémon began to flee, and Kira tossed out a great ball. The capture was a success, and Kira squealed with delight. She sent Eevee to fetch the floating ball, who gave Kira another angry glance. She was not particularly fond of water. Upon her return, she shook wildly to dry her fur and spat the ball at Kira’s feet, dashing back to the bonfire to warm herself. Kira excitedly sent out the Lapras, and saw that she had calmed down.

“Hi there Lapras! My name is Kira, and you are so gorgeous! Can you ferry me back over there?” Kira asked, pointing towards Marten as he watched in astonishment. Nobody had ever captured this elusive Lapras, but many had tried before.

“The next generation of trainers…they are truly a thing to behold!” He thought to himself as they both returned to the party.

Trials in Melody Town

Back at the fire, Kalak had been discussing with Ariel the superstitions that the people of Melody were known for. Ariel had begun to use special powders to change the color of the great fire and was using traditional hand gestures which casted shadows representing Pokémon spoken of in legends. Kira and Marten arrived just as she threw a handful of powder at the flame that turned the entire blaze a soothing blue. She raised her hands to cast a shadow of a great bird as she spoke; “And of the third of these great spirits of the sky, is the bringer of the winter and protector of the lost, the majestic Articuno! He lives in a great cavern where his power flows about, casting ice all about the tunnels. He is noble and just, and with his two brothers, maintains order in nature, among many other great and powerful Pokémon.” As she finished, the fire was returning to its normal color and Kalak and the other observers applauded the beautiful performance.

“Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that blazing azure…it was beautiful!” Kira said excitedly to Kalak, anxious to share her news.

“Yea, it was so cool! Before she began the tale about the legendary birds, she was telling me a bit about some other superstitions, and I think I will really enjoy our stay here! These people can really throw parties!” Kalak said.

“Well, come with me Kalak, I want to show you something!” Kira said, grabbing Kalak’s hand and pulling him in the direction of the lake. He had to run to keep up. When they were at the lake shore, Kira reached for the new ball on her belt. “Look at what I found out here!” She said with a giggle as she pressed the button. Lapras emerged in her full beauty under the night sky, now brimmed with light blue twilight in the distance.

“Wow, a Lapras? This is an amazing find Kira!” Kalak told her as he looked on towards the encroaching dawn. “Hey Lapras, my name is Kalak! Nice meeting a Pokémon as beautiful as yourself,” Kalak said, then adding with a yawn, “It’s really late Kira, the party has been fun, but I’m going to the hotel. See you there?”

“I’ll come with you. You’re right, it’s almost two in the morning!” Kira replied, recalling Lapras. The two returned to the party and found the rest of their Pokémon, some of whom were already passed out. They said some goodnights and went off to their hotel room.

“Goodnight Kira, I’ll need all the energy I can get tomorrow when I challenge Ariel!” Kalak said as he put his head to the pillow. He definitely liked this more than when they had to pitch a tent. He was asleep in a matter of moments, and Kira was right behind him.

Then, like a thief who came to steal sleep from the two trainers, the sun broke through the window and Kalak could barely hear a conversation going on somewhere out in the hall. He knew it must be early still, but he was too excited to go back to sleep. He had a badge to earn. The often arbitrary task of waking up was nothing to him this morning. Shinx was also awakened by his movements, as was Eevee. Only Kira remained unconscious, and Kalak quickly glanced at her, letting her image imprint on his brain for a while. He did not hesitate for a moment to think that Kira was very beautiful. Before he could further admire her however, she too was awakened by the sound of movement around her.

“Good morning everybody...yyyyyy...” she said with a yawn, brushing longs strands of red hair out of her face. Eevee leapt to her side and gave her a wet kiss on the nose.

“Hey, good morning Kira…do you hear that? Out in the hallway? It kind of sounded like an argument…woke me up anyhow,” Kalak said as he tried to focus on the fading voices. It was hopeless as he heard the door leading outside slide shut. Kira was still shaking off her sleep, and ignored him as she prepared some food for the Pokémon who waited patiently around her. Meanwhile, Kalak was using the computer that was sitting on the desk in their spacious suite. He wanted to check the weather for the best time to set out after their stay, and saw nothing but sunshine ahead. He also noticed a small article in the corner of the screen advertising the arrival of mass shipments of technology from the far off Orre region. He caught the words “Pokéviewer” and “communications line” before his attention was stolen away to a growing roar of voices coming from outside the building. “Hey Kira, what is all the racket out there?” he called into the kitchen. Shinx came curiously to his side followed by Kira who was just as puzzled.

“Let’s go find out, I guess…” She said as she held her growling stomach. Kalak chuckled as he and Shinx shared the same glance at her. “What!? I was making Pokémon food in there, not human food…nnng I’m hungry!” She grumbled as they walked out of the room.

“We’ll be right back everybody!” Kalak called to the feasting Pokémon. As the two trainers and Shinx stepped into the misty morning air, it was clear that all was not ok. A crowd of people was gathered around the small pond that was a kind of centerpiece in the small town. The water was a dark color and there were Grimer all around its perimeter emanating a horrid stench.

“Ewww! Where did these Grimer come from!?” Kira shrieked in a nasally voice with her nose pinched shut.

“Oh, hello Kira, Kalak, Shinx…” Ariel greeted them in a similar voice. “We were awakened by the smell…and found them here. No trail to indicate where they are from though,” she said as she tried not to let her gag reflex get the best of here.

“I thought that Grimer populations were being kept at bay to prevent them from invading towns though…” Kira replied.

“That’s what we can’t figure out! Grimer have never been a problem here! Not even at the lake…Oh, Kalak, that’s right! You should come to the gym with me. I will accept your challenge whenever you are ready,” The gym leader said as she attempted to smile while her eyes watered.

“Sounds good…but first let me take care of this! I need everyone to back up a little,” He said, gesturing for Kira to do so as well. He and Shinx stepped forward towards the filthy pond. Shinx looked woozy. Kalak looked at him and said “Use shockwave on them!” Shinx started to focus power, and then appeared to be struggling at standing. After one last sniff of the Grimer up close, Shinx passed out with a faint cry. Despite the failure, everybody, Kalak included, broke into laughter. Kalak carried his fallen friend to the established “safety perimeter” and dashed towards the hotel, returning shortly with Cyndaquil, who he felt might have an easier time. ‘Give what you’ve got Cyndaquil!” He said, and his partner unleashed a jet of flames that agitated the Grimer. Some fainted, while the two remaining became aggressive. Cyndaquil skillfully hopped around while unleashing bursts of fire that eventually overcame the attackers. Once they were unconscious, some townspeople volunteered to capture and release them.

“Wow, nice going Kalak,” Ariel said, relieved to be breathing normally. “Now I know I have a good fight ahead of me! Let’s get to the gym!” She said as she skipped playfully towards the stout, run down building that would serve as the arena.

“Let’s go Kalak! We have to get your Pokémon from the room remember?” Kira said as she tried to tug him in the direction of the hotel.

“Got’em all when I got Cyndaquil,” He replied, flashing his loaded belt.

“Oh. Great! I’ll see you in a little bit then Kalak, good luck!” Kira said as she hugged her friend and started to walk away.

“W-where are you going? Aren’t you going to watch me battle?” He called after her.

“I’m going to pay a quick visit to Minuet Town. Marten told me that I could find the HM for surf there! I want to teach Lapras,” she shouted back. She had broken into a run in hopes that she could be back before dusk. Kalak just watched her vanish into Echo Cavern and smiled when he saw a brilliant flash emanate from within, knowing that Pichu would guide her safely. Then he whirled around and knelt, placing a hand on Shinx’s back.

“You ready for this bud?” He whispered. Shinx growled back excitedly. He was as glad to be rid of the scent of Grimer as anyone else. “Good. Let’s win this!” The pair stepped through the sliding tinted glass door and was surprised to find a set of stairs that led to a high, ring-shaped platform. This battle would apparently take place above a deep pit, and Kalak suddenly wondered for his companions’ safety.

“There you are Kalak!” Ariel called from somewhere. Kalak looked around and saw her waving from the other side of the wide pit before him.

“Ariel, what is with this gym? I only have one Pokémon that can fly,” He shouted over to her.

“Nonsense Kalak, all of us can fly, people too! If we want to that is. You just have to be determined enough to achieve your goals!” She said with a wink.

“Um…I don’t know about that Ari-

“Hah, you totally fell for it!” She cut him off. “Step onto one of these side platforms and choose your Pokémon! You’ll see,” She said as she demonstrated what she was instructing. Kalak followed her lead and sent Shinx onto the ring. He was still unsure of what was about to happen. Then, a sudden whirring sound was heard all around, and a strong wind blew up from the center of the arena with a roar. The disk suddenly retracted and dropped, and before he could react, Shinx found himself suspended in the air. He was flying. “Like my precaution against electric types?”

“Whoa, Shinx, you got this? Just get used to the motion buddy,” Kalak told his partner, shouting over the roaring wind. He watched as Ariel sent out her Staraptor and gave it commands using only fluent hand gestures. The Pokémon nodded, then took flight. Shinx had just gotten his bearings. Ariel then signed to Kalak, a thumbs-up. The battle was on, and Staraptor wasted no time making a straight dive at Shinx, who surprised Kalak with a barrel roll maneuver followed by an electrified tackle. It was a solid hit, and Staraptor seemed to hang there for a moment as he recovered from the hit. But then, he never moved again, simply was tossed around in the wind. Shinx had paralyzed his foe. Kalak jumped up and down with surprise as he cheered his partner on. Shinx repeated his attack once more, ending the first round. Staraptor was out cold.

“That was…very impressive!” Ariel yelled to Kalak.

“Don’t underestimate an electric type’s aviary skills, I suppose,” Kalak shot back with a grin. “Maybe what you said about flying by believing in yourself was true after all!”

“We’ll see,” replied the gym leader. She raised one arm, letting the intense wind blow part of her wrapped outfit up to reveal a bunch of pokéballs attached to the bandage-like material. She un-tethered one and sent out the Swellow within. Kalak tensed up a bit at seeing this, as even he knew of this famous Pokémon. It was Ariel’s prized friend who was strong enough to fly a trainer between the different regions of the world. It would surely be more difficult to beat.

“Shinx! Be careful out there, this one’s gonna be tough!” He warned. Shinx looked back and nodded. The opponent watched its trainer’s gestures, and then followed orders, swooping in at an angle and trying to circle Shinx. It continued to increase in speed and created a mini cyclone that entrapped him. Helplessly tumbling, Shinx launched bolts of electricity all over, never landing any. Then, Swellow dove and struck hard, knocking Shinx free, but doing some damage. Shinx tried hard to get his balance back, and let his weight go forward so as to tackle the Swellow, who dodged swiftly. Shinx had anticipated this and unleashed a well-aimed assault of electricity, which subdued the opponent. Kalak was thoroughly pleased, and Ariel was in disbelief. Although the whole thing had been lightning fast, she had taken careful notice of Shinx’s flying technique before sending out her next partner, Fearow. Shinx fought hard and overcame yet another flying adversary, leaving only one more, Ariel’s Noctowl. Kalak was certain that this would be another easy victory, and did not expect what happened next. Rather than dive bombing Shinx like the others, Noctowl hovered over him, forcing a glance that caused him to succumb to hypnosis. Shinx fell asleep instantly and drifted astray.

“Now you will finally lose! You had me worried for a bit Kalak!” Ariel said with a giggle.

“Grr…not yet Ariel, I have my other Pokémon!” Kalak said, withdrawing Shinx and replacing him with his own avian, Starly. The two birds endlessly circled one another, waiting for the right time to strike. The first move was made by Starly, who managed to hit right in Noctowl’s side, throwing it off balance. Then, there was a series of light flying type attacks between the two, ending in another hypnosis trap. Noctowl was weakened, but the victor once more. Next, Kalak sent out Cyndaquil who had an impossible time becoming oriented in the strange arena and promptly lost.

“Looks like you are finished Kalak. It was a good battle though; I look forward to your next challenge! This has been so much fun!” Ariel said, a smirk on her face.

“I have one more Pokémon Ariel, so don’t get your hopes up!” Kalak warned her, though he was very unsure about his next move. “Go Weedle!” Ariel, though kindhearted, could not restrain laughter.

“Are you serious!? A tiny bug type is doomed in Wind Tunnel Arena!” She said between gasps for air. This only made Kalak more determined to win it.

“Dead serious! Weedle, use string shot to form a sail!” He called. Weedle skillfully wove a web that caught the wind and used its own wiggling to throw its weight around. Ariel just laughed harder at the comical sight, and Noctowl did not hesitate to close in on the small target. Unsure of how to go about such a fight, it tried using gusts to blow Weedle away in order to disorient him. The determined bug type steered away however, closing just the right amount of distance. He wound up and landed a poison sting attack dead on, throwing Noctowl into a small fit of pain. Already weakened from battle, Noctowl did not last long after that, and Weedle simply continued to drop off of its improvised parachutes and make new ones to dodge. The foe finally lost its strength and collapsed, tumbling in midair. Disbelief once more overcame Ariel as she recalled her fainted Pokémon, and the ring platform finally returned to its place. The wind died down, and Kalak praised Weedle endlessly before he noticed that he had begun to glow. Suddenly, a burst of webbing encased the Pokémon and the light died. Weedle had evolved into a Kakuna.

“Kalak…I am grateful for our friendship, but I truly underestimated you! As a gym leader, I am very impressed! You overcame being a rookie in Serenade City, and you fought for justice in Minuet Town. Now, you have proven yourself to me by showing great control in even the most unfavorable odds! I hereby present to you this symbol of worthiness, the gust badge!” Ariel said, all the while walking around the great ring to present the small metal award.

“Thank you so much Ariel, I too value our friendship. I can’t wait for Kira to come back! We can all celebrate together!”

Meanwhile, Kira was just exiting Echo Cavern on the other side. She was finally back in Minuet Town…

“You did great in there, Pichu, how about a rest?” Kira said to her companion, who finally let the bright light emanating from his body fade. He looked up at Kira and smiled at the praise, and looking a little exhausted. “You did well too Eevee, I didn’t get a scratch from those nasty zubat!” she said cheerily, lifting Eevee off the ground and spinning in a circle before putting her down. She put both Pokémon in their balls to rest while she ran to the pokécenter where Nurse Joy happily greeted her.

“Oh, Kira, how wonderful! Where is Kalak? Is all well?” She said as she took Kira’s pokéballs.

“Just fine, thank you. I was told that I could find an HM here for the move surf by the Melody Town elder…can you point me the right way?”

“Ahh, Marten. He is right indeed. We keep stock of the HM right here in the back of the pokécenter for trainers in need! The only requirement for us to give them out is the Melody Town badge, so you’re covered dear!” She said, pulling a copy from a drawer behind her. She handed it to her along with her Pokémon. “Oh, I noticed a new pokéball has been added since…” Kira looked down and the nurse turned red. “My apologies Kira…I shouldn’t bring up such frightening memories so soon…but anyhow, I’m right aren’t I?”

“Yea, actually I plan on teaching her surf! I captured a Lapras!” she said with a smile.

“Lapras!? That is wonderful dear! They are very rare. Congratulations!” Joy replied, a look of wonder in her eyes. “You know, I always dreamed of catching every kind of water type Pokémon out there before I decided I didn’t have the courage to face the world. But I still love to have the opportunity to work with them and help them…Oh, I’m rambling about my dream to someone very busy with her training!” She said, blushing again and looking around for something to do.

“No, it’s ok. I like when people share their goals with me, ever since…I was little,” Kira told her, thinking back on her time with Kalak in Prelude Town. They had once sat on the beach and looked out at the vast sea, and Kalak had told her that he wanted to see what was on the other side despite how shy he was. It was the first time he had opened up about anything, and Kira had always been happy for that moment. “Thank you for helping me Nurse Joy, I’ll see you again sometime!” she said as she turned to go.

“Yes, good luck with everything, and tell Kalak I said hello!” she said in a distant voice. There was a longing, nostalgic feeling in her mind and she suddenly had to fight down the urge to run off into the woods and play with the Pokémon she found as she had when she was a child. She let happy memories fill her mind and wished her adventurous spirit to go with Kira on her journey. “Oh, Kira, you always bring out the best in people! The road ahead will be long and challenging, but with the companions you have, like I never did, it will also be fun,” she thought as the door slid shut.

Outside, Kira noticed that she had been conversing for much longer than she anticipated. The sun would probably only be out until she reached the other side of Echo Cavern again, she guessed, and only if she left now. In her hurry, she realized that she’d forgotten to let Pichu and Eevee out the way they liked to be. When she did, the glow from the pokéballs glinted off of something in the nearby bushes. When she turned to look, Kira saw that it had been a pair of eyes which then quickly retreated. The bush rustled as her observer fled.

“Hello? Who’s there, huh? Would you like to play, little Pokémon?” She happily called. She loved to play with wild Pokémon and occasionally, she would feed them berries. Her Kirlia, who had been a Ralts at the time, was drawn in by her happy personality and had so much fun that she wouldn’t leave. Kira was happy to catch this new friend. As she bent over to examine the bush, it rustled again and she jumped back. “H-helloooo?! Come on out here so I can see you!” she said in a high pitched voice. Eevee and Pichu exchanged glances, then leaped in front of their trainer. “It’s ok guys, this is a nice Pokémon…r-right?” she said, her stare never leaving the bush. Then, her fear was suddenly banished as a light pink ear poked out of the bush, followed by the rest of a Skitty. “Ooh! Look at how cute you are! Why was I ever afraid of a little sweetie like you?” Skitty moved closer and nuzzled Kira’s leg, and Kira couldn’t resist capturing her. “Will you put up a fight if I try and take you with me Skitty? It would be so nice to add another cutie to my group of friends!” She said as she reached for a pokéball. Skitty jumped back and growled playfully. It wanted to be certain of going with Kira. “Ok, fine then. Pichu, use thunder-shock on it!” Kira called. Pichu obeyed and hit successfully. Skitty recoiled from the hit, then, instead of retaliating, walked in a tight circle and sat down with its tail waving cutely, then she purred contently while staring at Pichu. “Ok Pichu, once more!” Kira called out. Pichu looked at her once, then ran to Skitty and tapped her on the leg. Skitty turned towards Pichu and nodded, and Pichu tried to hug her. Then, Skitty slowly and in an eerily innocent fashion bit down on Pichu, knocking him out. Her attract move had worked perfectly. “Eek! What the!? Eevee, your turn! I know attract won’t work on you!” Eevee dashed forward and head-butted Skitty, who tried to do the same but missed and received a bit on the tail. While Skitty recovered from the bite, Kira saw a chance and threw her pokéball. It drew in Skitty and landed, the light on the front fading indicating success. “Hah, that’s right Skitty, I’m a darned good trainer!” Kira said as she retrieved the ball. After another quick stop in the pokécenter (which came as no surprise to Nurse Joy, who had seen the whole battle through the glass doors), Kira finally started back through Echo Cavern. From a distance, a pair of eyes once more looked on at Kira, the same that she had seen the first time. Little did she know that she was being followed. Long after she entered the giant cave, a flash of white fur dashed in after her.

Kalak and Ariel had been discussing some more about legendary Pokémon outside of Echo Cavern when they saw a glow start to come from within. Moments later, Kira, Pichu, and Eevee hurried out.

“Kira! Hey, guess what, I won!” Kalak said as he flashed his new badge. “And Weedle evolved too! How was your trip?”

“Oh, that’s great! Things went well, I got the HM, and something else too! Lookie!” She said as she sent Skitty out.

“Aw, so cute!” Ariel said as she admired Skitty.

“Wow, three Pokémon in two days?! That’s impressive!” Kalak said.

“Wh…what? Lapras and Skitty…make two Kalak,” Kira said.

“Oh…well, then why is that Absol following you?” He said pointing to the mouth of the cave. Ariel and Kira were shocked to see an Absol staring out at them. Ariel gasped and a look of panic swept her face. Then, the Pokémon ran quickly towards the lake.

“K-kira…why was he following you? Are you ok!?” Ariel said, her face still pale.

“Y-yes, I’m fine! Is everything ok Ariel?”

“Not exactly Kira. You may not understand quite as well since you aren’t as interested in our legends around here, but Kalak…do you remember what I told you last night?” She said with a sharp glance at him.

“Hmm, let me think…Oh, Absol…is…oh…” Kalak said, looking down. “He is the omen of disaster to come, right?” He appears to people who are going to experience great troubles…”

“Yes…that is correct. Those who have seen them here in Melody Town before have been sent away in hopes that no harm befalls our happy little lives…but we simply can’t exile you two like that! Oh, what to do?” Ariel said, pacing furiously.

“Um, what kind of disasters are we talking about here?” Kira interjected.

“Terrible ones! Acts of nature that often cause people harm! I’m so happy to see that nothing happened to you in that cave!”

After the three trainers vowed to keep quiet about Absol’s presence for at least the next day, Ariel had returned home to think of a plan. Kalak and Kira decided to stay for a few days to see if they could help. In the hotel, Kira asked Kalak about his gym challenge and he told her all about it.

“Woah, good going Kalak, but I totally did a better job against her! My Ralts also evolved in that gym, because she managed to beat all four Pokémon easily!” She said with a smirk.

“W-well hey! I still won, and that’s all that matters…I guess,” Kalak said, slightly surprised at Kira’s remark but he quickly dismissed it. “Say, you’re still on your gym challenge, aren’t you!? It hadn’t occurred to me since I decided to go with you. I hate to think I’m slowing you down or something…”

“No, of course not! I love…having you here with me,” Kira said, turning away to hide her blushing. “I want to watch you get stronger while I do too!” She said.

“Ok, good. So you aren’t really a boasting brat when it comes to training Pokémon,” Kalak said, trying and failing to suppress his laughter.

“What’s that supposed to mean, huh?” Kira shot back.

“Oh, just how you are so: “I caught a Lapras, and a Skitty, and I did way better than you at the gym!” Ha-ha,” Kalak replied with a grin that quickly turned to a look of horror as Kira jumped at him and pinned him down on the bed.

“Oh yea? What make you think you can talk like that about a lady, hmm?” She said, bringing her menacing look close to his once more laughing face.

“Lady? I think of you as a friend, not a lady” he said, drawing out the last word. Then, he thought back on all the times he had thought of her in such a way. That morning had been one time in particular. Now, with her face so close to his, was another. “Soooooo…how should I think of you Kira?” he said, focusing on her eyes. He could tell she was feeling very playful but also very nervous or embarrassed or something close.

“Well…as a friend is nice. And maybe…” She hesitated, returning the gaze into Kalak’s eyes. They were beautiful, mysterious, and deep, she thought. There was a long moment of intense silence. “maybe as a fellow trainer too, pal,” She said, tapping him on the nose and rolling over giggling. “I’m sleepy Kalak, turn the lights off!” She commanded. They said their goodnights to their Pokémon and each other, then fell into another good night’s rest. Kalak dreamed of his childhood with his fellow trainer that night.

He did have another dream, however. He and Shinx were walking through a dark abyss and could see nothing in all directions. As they walked on, some sort of sign became visible in the distance. The pair ran until they reached it and Kalak saw that it was a road sign pointing in two directions. One way read “Savior” and the other “Coward”. He turned to Shinx and tried to tell him to go towards “savior”, but he found that he couldn’t speak. Suddenly, a pair of eyes appeared and Kalak could feel their familiar gaze piercing him, paralyzing him. Shinx was suddenly gone and the giant eyes quickly grew smaller and smaller as they began to approach Kalak. He was frozen in place and he couldn’t call for help despite his desperation. Then, the eyes were right at his feet. There seemed to be a spotlight on Kalak in the darkness, and as the pair of eyes stepped into it, he saw that they belonged to an Absol. It looked up at him, and instead of fear, Kalak now felt the sadness that he could read in Absol’s eyes. Then, everything became blurry and he heard a voice. It was just a whisper but it very clearly said: “Now is when you must choose your path!”

Kalak was jolted awake at that moment, and he found that he was sweating and breathing heavily. He was relieved to be able to move again. Then, he realized that Kira was already putting food out for the Pokémon. He was the last one awake. Even the slightest movements or sounds always woke him up.

“How can I still be asleep!” he wondered. He quickly got out of bed and thre on his jacket, then walked into the kitchen to tell Kira about his dream.

“Oh, good morning Kalak! Finally up I see,” she said with a smile that suggested that he was in the dark about something. Kira had been surprised to find Kalak asleep when she woke up, and had taken the same opportunity that he secretly had the morning before.

“Hey, good morning Kira…I don’t know what kept me asleep, I’m sure I should’ve woken up when you all did. But I had a strange dream about Absol,” He said.

“Absol! That’s right, we need to go and see Ariel today Kalak! We need to figure out what to do!” She said as she sped up her pace with making the human food. “So what was your dream like?” She added. Kalak told her about the whole thing while she prepared their food and listened quietly. “What does that mean? Choose your path?”

“I have no idea what to make of it. I’m going to ask Ariel what she thinks,” he said as Kira set some waffles on the table. After everybody had finished breakfast, they left for Ariel’s house. She was outside however, and met them halfway there. She seemed nervous to Kalak.

“Hey you two, I haven’t got great news, but nothing really bad either,” She said in a monotone voice. “I told most of the town about Absol’s appearance, and we even saw him hanging around Lake Flat and the hotel. Nobody wishes to ask you to leave, but nobody knows what to do about the situation. Also, there have been no disasters quite yet, soooo…any thoughts on this?”

“Well I wanted to train my Pokémon at the lake today anyhow. I will look out for Absol while I’m there,” Kira said cheerily.

“And I’ll stay on patrol. I had a dream last night and Absol was in it Ariel. I want to confront him,” Kalak told the gym leader. She understood as Kalak placed his hand on an empty pokéball as he spoke.

“Alright you two, please take care. I have a duty to the gym, so I’ll be there if anybody needs to tell me something. Feel free to come to my house as well if you need my father or grandpa,” She said as she turned to walk away.

“Oh, Ariel, wait just a second,” Kalak said as realization flashed across his face. “I wanted to ask you, what exactly do the others think will come of Absol’s presence?”

“Well, grandpa believes that Absol is here to warn us, not to bring us trouble. We wish to communicate with Absol somehow so that we can learn whether or not what is going to happen can be prevented,” She told them.

“…Ok. Well, I’m going to do my very best, and try to capture him!” Kalak said, raising a fist into the air.

“Tehehe…good luck with that,” Ariel replied as she walked off towards the gym.

“So, I’m heading to the lake Kalak. See you later, bye Shinx! Good luck!” Kira said, motioning for Pichu and Eevee to follow.

“Alright, let me know if you see Absol!” Kalak said, walking in the opposite direction to cover more ground. Almost ten minutes later, he saw Kira running towards him, no Pichu or Eevee though.

“Kalak, get Ariel and Marten!” She called.

“I-Is everything ok!?” Kalak called as he ran towards her.

“Yes, better than ok! Just get them and hurry!” Kalak ran to the gym and Kira to get Marten. They met at the beginning of the trail to the lake and when they got to the edge of the water, Kira whispered something to Ariel, whose face lit up and she seemed to glow with excitement.

“Oh, really Kira? Have they!?” She squealed.

“They have! Look and see!” She replied, just as excited.

“What’s going on here?” Marten asked, looking around for the cause of excitement.

“Grandpa, it’s the cresendo berries! They have bloomed!” Ariel said, running towards a large tree and pulling back the leafy branches to reveal a gigantic bush that was covered in bright and colorful red berries. There were countless Pokémon feasting on the fruit, Pichu and Eevee among them. Shinx leaped excitedly and darted over to join them, overcome with fits of joy upon taking his first bite.

“This is…a miracle!” Marten said in a broken voice.

“Um…whaaaat’s going on here?” Kalak interrupted.

“Kalak, these are cresendo berries. They are extremely appealing to all Pokémon, and often attract rare ones. They were planted here by my mother before she passed away many years ago, but the plants died without her constant care. We have tried for many years to plant more, but they simply won’t grow! And now these long dead plants have bloomed once more! Marten, let’s cut away the tree branches and reopen the path for Pokémon!”

“Wow, that is a miracle I suppose!” Kalak said as Ariel sent out Swellow to cut the branches away.

“I know, and it’s beautiful! Look how happy the Pokémon are!” Kira said as she looked on and adored the sight. “Just my luck lately, huh Kal?” She said, skipping off with a giggle.

“Here Kira, I picked a few for you guys to take with you. They can be sold for very high prices in bigger cities,” Ariel said as she handed Kira a small pouch containing ten berries. “They also make a good snack for weakened Pokémon, and they act pretty much the same as a full restore!”

“Hey, thanks a lot! Look at that, isn’t that nice Kalak?”

“Yea…look at that…” He said, deep in thought. Just then, he noticed something in the corner of his eye. Across the lake, Absol was watching intently. “You!” he called out, and the others turned to look.

“Absol!” Ariel said in a hushed tone. The others just gasped and watched. Kalak was already halfway to where Absol stood, never moving, just tracking the trainer’s movements. When he got within a couple of yards of Absol, Kalak stopped and faced him. He once more felt the stare of this mysterious Pokémon pierce his mind as his thoughts scattered. Then, he reached for a ball on his belt and sent out Starly. Absol seemed withdrawn for a moment, and then conceded to battling. Starly took flight without a need for orders and swooped in on his target, pecking furiously. Absol merely took slow steps backwards and shifted his body as minutely as possible in order to dodge. Starly became frustrated and attacked with all his speed, now landing only a few hits. Absol suddenly took a great leap back followed by another forward and swiped his paw, swatting Starly to the ground with a thud. He was out cold.

“Ah! Starly, return,” Kalak said. He then switched tactics, tossing a Pokéball towards Absol. Absol sidestepped just as he had against Starly and then glared at Kalak. He made eye contact and shook his head, then darted into the woods, looking at the others across the lake as he disappeared.

“Whoa…did that…really just happen?” Ariel said, speaking barely above a whisper.

“I think Absol wants something, that’s for certain,” Marten concluded.

“Nice try. I think he needs to be free for now though,” Kira said, comforting Kalak with a hug.

“You’re right Kira, he gave me that same look as before. The one he gave me in my dream,”

“You mean…you think that Absol really did communicate with you through your dreams!?” Ariel said incredulously.

“I’m sure of it. His look was authentic. He needs me to help him…but I don’t know how. He is definitely warning us of something though, and I sense that it will be soon, whatever it is,” Kalak said. Then, the foursome returned to town and parted. Kira and Kalak walked back to the cresendo berry bushes and retrieved their Pokémon before deciding what to do next.

“Hey, I know! I saw a flyer for a battle tournament…want to enter? That should pass some time while we figure out a plan,” Kira suggested.

“That sounds fun, I suppose. When is it taking place?”

“There is a registry at the pokécenter going on all day. The tournament begins at noon tomorrow,”

“Ok, let’s get going then. After that, I’m going to need some time alone though…” Kalak said, pensive once more.

“Ok…but Kalak, what exactly is bugging you? I want to help you, you know,” Kira said as she placed a hand on her friend’s shoulder. Kalak returned Kira’s smile.

“Nothing is bothering me to be honest. I just don’t understand what my dream could mean. What was Absol telling me to do?”

“I don’t know, but let’s figure it out together, ok?” She said with a look of eagerness to have fun in her eyes.

“Heh, sounds good to me,” Kalak said, beginning to think less about Absol and more about the battles he had ahead. At the pokécenter, Kalak and Kira entered their names into the tournament bracket. The man who was running the competition assigned them each numbers and told them that this tournament was a single-entrant match.

“What’s that mean exactly?” Kira asked him.

“What it means is that you may only choose one Pokémon to use for the entire competition! And after that, you may not switch your Pokémon, So choose wisely trainers!” the man said with a big laugh.

“Oh, wow, ok then. How about…Lapras!” Kira said to herself. Eevee pretended to fall over and twitched a little. Kira giggled and said “Don’t worry girl, you know you’ll always be my first Pokémon!” and rubbed her on the belly.

“As for me…I think I’ll go with Starly. Sorry Shinx, but Starly could use the training,” Kalak said.

“Ok, Starly for Kalak…” Said the man, writing Starly’s name under Kalak’s on the bracket. “…and Kira is using Lapras. Ok you two, good luck tomorrow. And just in case you were unaware, there is a prize: These shiny things!” he said, bringing out a box that he opened to reveal some money and a golden pokéball. “There’s nothing really special about the ball other than It’s color and certainly it’s worth. It’s coated with pure gold, but it still works just fine, hahaha,” he said as he closed the case and set it back down.

“Ooh, that’s shiny all right! Tehe,” Kira commented. Kalak rolled his eyes and couldn’t contain a brief chuckle.

The day wrapped up quickly after that, and the trainers returned to the hotel for the evening. Kalak found himself on the PC once more to read up on the article he had seen earlier. He typed the word pokéviewer and found a whole website dedicated to the new technology. It was a compact device that could surf the web, take video, and make calls to other pokéviewers. This was revolutionary in Harmone, as they had always been ahead technologically in most areas, but not in communication. Written word was the only form of long distance communication in this region simply because it had been convenient. Now, the world was becoming more connected and Harmone was going to become a more social part of it.

“Kira, look at this!” Kalak said. He knew that this news would excite Kira, especially after the way she seemed to always lose touch with people she cared for. The same went for him, anyhow. Kira seemed to ignore him however. “Kira? Hey, come over here a minute. What’s that?”

“Oh, sorry Kalak. I was using my pokédex’s scan feature. I put Lapras’ ball on the scanner to check some finer details like her weight. You have to know your Pokémon if you want to win with them, am I right?” She put away the device and lazily crawled to the foot of the bed from under the covers. She was wearing the red robe that she always wore before going to sleep, and Kalak caught a glimpse of the underwear under it from the way she was getting up. He quickly turned away and he could feel himself blush a little. When she reached his side, he dared not turn to look at her.

“Not very shy, are you Kira…What am I going to do about that!? Ignore it?” Kalak thought.

“Wow…that sure came along just in time,” Kira said in a sarcastic but sad voice. Kalak knew she was thinking about her father and probably about him as well. She never liked being separated. “Hey, at least I won’t feel so far from mom anymore!” she said, bouncing back very suddenly. Kalak had considered hugging her, but not after she cheered up. He wouldn’t risk seeing more of her body so that she might notice this time. “Oh, and I know you are of the male gender Kalak, but…” She lightly smacked the back of his head. “Don’t you look at my underwear ever again!” She shouted, then with a giggle that gave Kalak chills, she slipped back in bed. “I’m sleepy you sneaky boy, so don’t try anything funny or you’ll get it worse than that!”

“Uh, right. Goodnight Kira. I’ll get to bed soon,” Kalak replied. He was impressed that she had noticed his accidental peek. Kira smiled contently with her scolding as she drifted off into slumber, and Kalak fell asleep soon after her.

Before he knew what was happening, Kalak suddenly found himself on his back and unable to move his legs, or his arms, or anything else, he realized. Then, a bright light shone like a laser on Kira, and Kalak saw her smile at him and wave.

“Kira! Help me, I can’t move!” Kalak called to her. She didn’t hear him, just turned around. “Kira, no!” he called, but it was hopeless. Then, Kalak felt something warm beside him. He managed to turn his head and saw Absol there, gazing intensely at Kira. His stare was the source of the light. When Kalak tried to speak after that, his voice failed him. He turned back to Kira and saw that there seemed to be a black orb of gas behind her. It was following her, and he couldn’t warn her of it. Then, to his horror, the ball of gas flew into Kira’s back and knocked her to the ground where she lay motionless. Kalak tried to scream her name, but all he could do was feel Absol’s warmth and the icy chill that seemed to come from Kira. Then, a voice filled his head saying “Side with her, or with me!” And then Kalak was jolted awake. It was not the nightmare that woke him however. When he opened his eyes, he had an impossible time finding his balance or getting oriented at all, as the whole room was shaking violently. He heard Kira’s voice, but not what it was saying. Screaming, rather. Then when he tried to stand, all was suddenly clear. He was in the room, and Kira was in the kitchen feeding the Pokémon just as she had been the previous day.

“Kira? Are you ok!?” he called into the kitchen.

“Good morning Kal, I’m just fine, how are…” She stopped when she saw that his face was a bit pale. “Did you have another dream?”

“I did…I think I’m staying asleep longer because Absol is keeping me asleep so that he can talk to me…I sound crazy don’t I?” he said, still wondering what that had been he heard if it hadn’t been Kira screaming. And what was that shaking sensation?

“No, not to me anyhow. To somebody who didn’t understand what’s goin’ on maybe,” she said with a kind smile.

“I guess so…” he said, half to reassure himself. Then, Shinx came out of the kitchen, followed by Starly, Cyndaquil and Kakuna. They surrounded their trainer and Shinx barked once, placing a paw on Kalak’s leg. “Aw, thanks for believing in me you guys. I love all of you!” Kalak said, laughing and wrestling around with his companions a bit until Kira put his breakfast on the table. “So, are you ready for your big victory today Starly?” Kalak asked between chewing. Starly hopped around merrily and chirped with confidence. “Haha, that’s the spirit bud,” said the trainer to his Pokémon. Outside the hotel, the battlefield was being prepared in the center of town. The gym would not be used due to its unusual set up. There were a few dark clouds in the sky, and the smell of a coming rain teased Kalak’s nostrils through the opened window. “Odd…I thought there was supposed to be nothing but nice weather ahead,” he remarked. Normally he would disregard something so small, but the way things were going had him on his toes.

“Oh well, just a little water. Nothing that’ll stop me and Lapras!” Kira assured Kalak.

The morning went on with Kira training at the lake and Kalak hunting for Absol, all the while wondering what this new message could mean. He couldn’t bring himself to tell Kira about this dream, but she had understood that he was shaken up. Kalak had just heard the call for the tournament to start when a light drizzle started. He was under the cover of some trees where he was observing the lake for Absol, and he wished that he didn’t have to move. Cold never bothered him, however he hated getting wet. As he crept slowly out of the bush, he took one last glance back at the lake. He observed the raindrops making their small ripples on the water and some Pokémon could be seen hiding in the cresendo berry bush. He watched them for a few moments and lost himself in thought for a second. He then cleared his head and turned back towards town and suddenly his face was inches away from Absol’s. Kalak gasped and jumped back, tumbling out of the bush and into the rain. He lied there on his back and let the rain hit him as Absol slowly walked to his side.

“What do you want Absol? I don’t understand your warnings,” Kalak said, discretely signing to Shinx who was observing from the bushes about 100 feet away. While Kalak spoke to Absol and asked him questions, Shinx crept closer until he was in pouncing distance. Then, he leapt silently out of the bush and dug his claws into Absol, sending pulses of electricity searing through him. Absol howled and shook off his attacker, leaping back and unleashing a dark pulse attack that knocked Shinx over. Before Shinx could recover, he watched Absol grab Kalak’s shirt and try to drag him somewhere. He continued to watch, afraid that he would electrocute his trainer if he acted now. Kalak reacted fast however, and brought out a pokéball which he threw at Absol. This time, he hit successfully, and the ball dropped to the ground, still aglow with energy. After a few seconds of anticipation, the ball burst opened and broke, Absol fleeing the scene like a gust of wind. Once he had moved quite a bit, he spared one last look at Kalak before disappearing into the woods.

“Kaaaalak! Come on, the competition’s beginning!” called Kira, who was running up the path to Lake Flat. “Oh! You are covered in mud! What happened here!?”

“I had a close encounter with Absol, that’s all…here, let’s just go,” Kalak said, brushing himself off. He had no Idea that Absol could drag him like that, and his arm was cut all over.

“We ought to get that looked at, don’t you think?” Kira said, reaching for his bloody limb.

“No, I’m fine, really,” he said as he pulled back. “Don’t touch it, you’ll just get your hands bloody,” he added when he saw that she was upset. He knew she only wanted to help.

“Well at least clean yourself up, silly boy. Can’t show up to win looking like that!” After rinsing himself off with lake water, Kalak joined Kira walking back to Melody Town. Shinx was feeling bad about letting him down. He walked behind them and moped silently as they approached the battle area.

“Kalak is here!” Kira shouted to the others. To his surprise, Kalak received applause. He was becoming a well liked celebrity after the incident in Minuet Town and the help with the Grimer in the pond.

“Well then, let’s begin!” Marten exclaimed. “The first round will be Kira and her Lapras versus Kelsey and her Grotle! Begin when you are ready,” he said as the trainers took their sides.

“Ooook Grotle, nice and easy now bud,” said a tall, dark haired trainer who was opposite Kira. She was about twenty, guessed Kalak, who couldn’t take his eyes off of her slender form in her white dress until Grotle came onto the field. Kira noticed and silently vowed to win just for that. Kalak still had a hard time not looking at Kira as well.

“Lapras, you ready?” Kira said, petting the long neck of her partner. Lapras was simply enjoying the rain.

“Ok, start off with a razor leaf strike!” Kelsey called to Grotle, who obeyed, sending an array of thorny, sharp leaves into the air towards Lapras.

“Look out!” Kira called, but Lapras was prepared. She squirted jets of water at the clusters of leaves, stopping all but a few which glanced off of her shell. “Nice going, not hit back with something more devastating!” Kira said with a wink. Lapras understood, and inhaled greatly. Then, she launched an ice beam attack that hit dead on, and Grotle reeled from the hit. Before it could recover, Lapras pushed herself forward and hit with a hard body slam. Grotle collapsed unconscious, and the fight was over.

“No! Hey,nice try buddy. Time to rest. Nice going Kira,” Kelsey said, exiting the field disappointed. Kira thanked her, then ran and wrapped her arms around Lapras’ neck.

“Great Lapras, let’s keep it up!” She said.

“Congratulations to Kira! Now up, Raphael and Hitmontop against Kalak and Starly!” Marten announced.

“Ok Starly, let’s go!” Kalak said. Starly chirped his confidence and left his perch on his trainer’s head.

“Hitmontop, don’t let that little bird win this!” said a buff man in an obnoxious yellow tank top. His Pokémon nodded and leapt off its feet, twirling in midair and landing like a top, whirling and kicking everywhere.

“Starly, don’t attack directly, blow him off balance!” Kalak called out. Starly whipped up a whirlwind that collided with the foe, pushing it over and giving Starly a chance to swoop in while Hitmontop got its bearings. The super effective flying type moves that ensued kept Hitmontop off its feet (and head) and ended the fight faster than the first. “Alright, perfect Starly!” Kalak called. Starly proudly returned to his favorite perch and Kalak laughed.

“Thank you Kalak…good job,” said Raphael as he recalled his felled friend and left the field. After the first bracket was complete, there were only four trainers remaining.

“Now, the semi-finals will begin!” called Marten. “The first battle will be between Kalak and Kira!”

“Oh! K-Kalak, looks like you’re up, haha” Kira said nervously.

“Yeah, you are too! Haha, well, good luck,” Kalak said with slightly more confidence.

“When you are ready trainers,” Marten said. Everybody was curious to see the outcome of this fight between their two guests of honor.

“Show Starly who’s superior Lapras!”

“Use your speed against her Starly!” Starly flew up high and circled Lapras’ head while she tried to snap at him. He occasionally pecked on Lapras as his circle became lower around her neck. Then, Lapras, merely irritated at that point, shot an ice beam high into the air, freezing the now heavy rain into icicles which crashed down on Starly. That pretty much finished him, but Lapras ended it with a water gun attack against her own shell where the small bird lay. Kalak was irritated, and Kira hugged her partner once more, and then her other partner.

“Hey, it was a nice try Kalak, but I’m just better than you!” she said with a giggle and a wink.

“Yeah, yeah...Congratulations Kira. Good luck in the final!” He replied, not letting his disappointment stop him from being proud of a trainer who had four years of experience over him. Especially a good friend. As the next battle went on, Kalak sought shelter from the rain inside the pokécenter where he observed through the large glass doors. The victor was a skilled young boy who had a strong Nincada. He would be Kira’s final opponent. Their battle began shortly, opening with Nincada burrowing into the ground while Lapras tried to find him with jets of water aimed in random spots. Nincada came out of the ground behind his foe and bit her tail, at which point she whirled around and head-butted him, sending him flying backwards on wet wings that could barely keep him airborne. After that it was a simple matter of Nincada dodging as fast as possible and Lapras firing icy beams. Once one eventually landed, the rather comical battle ended, and Kira was ecstatic.

“Lapras, you did great today! Thank you!” she said with one more hug.

“And our winner of the ‘gold ball’ tournament is none other than Kira! Let’s hear it for our guest!” Marten said with a chuckle as the man from the pokécenter awarded Kira with the prizes. Kalak applauded her from inside where he wouldn’t get any wetter. The rain was really coming down hard, and in an instant, it became torrential, scattering the people to find shelter. There would have to be a celebration for Kira another time. She came running into the pokécenter, dripping wet but smiling wide.

“D-Did you s-s-see th-that?” She said, proudly flashing her prize money and the golden ball.

“I sure did, congratulations! Lapras is really something…but you are shivering badly!” Kalak said, laughing but concerned. “Why don’t we get you back to the room so you can warm up. You’re bound toget sick though, I mean you’re soaked!”Kalak told her. He was greatly concerned that she already appeared ill.

“Ok, l-lets get g-g-going!”

Back in the room, Kalak brought room service for Kira, and found her up and about. He had told her to stay put in bed and in extra warm clothes.

“Kira, what are you doing? Don’t you want to feel better?”

“I told you I’m not sick, I just got chilly. In fact, I’ve felt wonderful lately! Tehe. I met my new friends Lapras and Skitty, and I found those cresendo berries! Now I won the competition too! And on top of it all, I don’t feel sick at all!” Kira said, laughing and tossing herself onto the bed.

“Yes, but you know it has only been about an hour and a half since your victory. You may not be showing symptoms yet…”

“Oh Kalak, you are a rookie at this traveling thing! I’ve been taking care of myself just fine for four years now, I promise I feel fine. If I get any worse I’ll letcha know, k?” she said, now speaking very sincerely but still with an upbeat and arrogant tone that bothred Kalak. Just then, Eevee jumped off of the bed where Kira had been wrestling with her and leaped onto the window sill. Peering in at her was a pair of glaring eyes that quickly vanished. “What is it Eevee?”

“It’s Absol! I’m going out, please stay in here Kira, for me?” said Kalak, throwing on his black jacket. He didn’t even give her time to answer as he and Shinx rushed out of the room. Kira let out a sigh and turned on the TV while she waited. Outside, the pounding rain didn’t stop Kalak or Shinx from standing in a sort of stare down with Absol by the pond. Shinx growled a low growl and Kalak’s mind started to calculate possible methods of capture. Absol surprised Kalak when he approached him and relaxed his usual tense posture, sitting down and looking up into Kalak’s eyes with his usual intensity. “What do you want me to do?” Kalak asked the Pokémon in a pleading tone. Shinx remained on his guard. Absol stood and slowly placed a paw on Kalak’s leg. Closing his eyes, he then let energy circulate through him, and into Kalak. It was done in an instant, but Kalak suddenly understood. He had read Absol’s troubled mind and seen what was going wrong. Then, just as quickly as the event had occurred, Absol backed away with another warning glance and dashed off. Kalak pondered what he had just learned and couldn’t help but burst out laughing. It was so simple! Shinx didn’t understand. They returned to the room, soaked thoroughly and yet Kalak was feeling relieved. “Kira, we’re back! You’ll never believe…Kira?” She was nowhere to be found. Instead, there was a note lying on the bed that Shinx found and brought to his trainer’s feet.

“Kalak, I took my Pokémon to the gym to train. I’m sorry I left even though you didn’t want me to, but I have a training schedule. Only Lapras got to fight today and the others need their workout. I’ll return in a few hours.”

Kalak read the note aloud and Shinx rolled his eyes and sighed. They both knew that Kira would pull something like this, and Kalak wasn’t particularly bothered. They just stayed in the room and allowed the day to pass by lazily as they listened to the storm and bonded with Kalak’s other party members. The calm day suddenly had a new atmosphere, however, as shouts could be heard from downstairs. When he went to investigate, Kalak found the lobby flooded. He ran out into the storm once again and learned that Lake Flat was running into town. Ariel and some other trainers were frantically attempting to build a barricade, but it was far too late.

“Ariel!” Kalak called over the downpour. She turned to him, and the look on her face was one of horror. “It’s not going to work, you need a different plan! Kira is in the gym, and I think Lapras can freeze the water!” he shouted as he ran towards the gym. When he was a few feet from the small building, he was forcefully taken off his feet by a hard blow to his side. He had been tackled by Absol, who gave him that familiar glance once more. Something was about to happen that was out of Kalak’s control and he could feel it coming. Then, the ground began to move. It shook violently, building up to an audible level and buildings swayed in the quake. Kalak couldn’t have gotten up if he’d tried, but it was clear that Absol didn’t want him to go into that gym. That’s when it all came together and clicked in his mind. “Absol, you have to let me go! Kira is in there!” he pleaded, trying to keep his face above the rising flood, but his wish was in vain, as before his eyes, the old stone building began to crack and fall apart, collapsing with a loud rumble. Despite all of the water splashing around his face, Kalak couldn’t blink. He just stared incredulously at the collapsed gym. Ariel and the others turned to look and were unsure of what to do to prevent losing the rest of the buildings. Then the quake ended. As tears came to his eyes, Kalak struggled to get out from under Absol’s hold. There was a small hole where the door had been and he was going to try and climb through and find Kira. Then, everybody was surprised when Absol bounded towards the hole and dove into the wreckage.

Inside, the Pokémon found that the entire pit in the gym’s center was full of water. The rest of the interior was crushed by the roof. Absol drew a deep breath and then dove even deeper, his powerful eyes scanning the flooded pit. Towards the bottom, he saw Kira, limp and unconscious drifting further downwards. He propelled himself towards her and took hold of her shirt in his teeth, struggling to pull the trainer to the surface, as his body was designed for blinding speed on land, not under water. As the air left his lungs, Absol only paddled harder. He was only a few feet from the top of the pit. His vision began to fade, and his grip loosened, dropping Kira once more. As he and the trainer spiraled into darkness, Absol could see a silhouette breaking free of the rubble on the bottom and slowly rising.

Outside, the rain had stopped as well. Everybody in the small town was gathered around the gym, silently waiting to see what would happen next. Kalak was unable to pull himself off the ground, and looked on through teary eyes from his knees. Shinx was motionless next to him. Then, Ariel began to weep and she ran to Kalak’s side. It had been twenty minutes since the collapse. Tears welled up in everybody around, and they were prepared to mourn the death of a young trainer and Absol. A cracking noise filled Kalak’s keen ears, and his attention snapped to the fallen building. Was he the only one who heard it? Like someone stepping on twigs, the crackling continued to grow louder, and the air began to chill rapidly. Everybody could see the fog emanating from the rubble, and feel the intense cold. Then they began to hear the noise as well as a thick shell of ice began to crawl out of the holes in the pile.

“…Kira?” Kalak whispered softly. Everybody ceased to breathe. Then, a thunderous bang echoed across town as Lapras hit the frozen wreckage with a head-butt, shattering it and freeing her. On her shell, laid Kira, once more in Absol’s clutches. People gasped and applauded, wept and leaped for joy. Kalak slowly rose and ran to the rubble, leaping it and jumping into the pool of water where Lapras rested, climbing onto her back and grasping Kira. He put his finely tuned ear to her chest and heard the heart within her beat. He then hugged her tightly and whispered his thanks to Absol, who, after a long stare, placed his paw where he had on Kalak’s leg earlier. Kalak remembered what he had learned in that moment. “Come on out, Banette, you merciless coward!” He cried. A dark violet light shone around Kira, and the glowing orb from Kalak’s dream formed in reality. It rose into the air, suddenly flying straight at Kalak. He was frozen with fear. Absol leapt in from of him and fired a beam of dark energy straight at the orb, stopping it in its spot. Then it broke apart into five separate orbs which hovered over to the land and revealed their true natures, four Shuppets and their leader, a large Banette.

“Hey, it’s…those trouble making ghosts!” Ariel cried. “Kalak, these Pokémon must have been drawn to Kira’s recent fortune…they put a curse on her…and thus this town as well. Absol was here…to warn us!” she explained. The exposed fiends nervously flitted about in the air as an angered Absol made a great leap from Lapras’ back to the ground beneath them. He began to radiate a black aura, growling ferociously at the ghost Pokémon. He then roared loudly as he seemed to vanish.

“W…what!?” Where did he…?” Kalak choked out. The band of ghosts looked around, now clearly terrified. Then there was a sound, a loud, sudden explosion of noise like a sonic boom and the air shimmered where a glowing Absol had emerged from seemingly another dimension. He was nothing more than a silver blur as he seemed to gallop on the air and sink his teeth into Banette. He then growled once more in a voice that seemed to boom from everywhere and disappeared in another flash of black energy. Before anybody could even process what had just occurred, one last sonic boom ripped through the air as Absol reappeared in his original spot, his body shifting in place, causing him to blur. He leaped at the fleeing Shuppets like lightning and bit down hard, and they seemed to disappear with final shrieks. Everybody was speechless as they watched Absol dispose of the Pokémon, showing as little mercy as they had shown their victims. When he was finished, Absol howled loudly, the black aura fading as though he were releasing it with his exhale. He then took several weak steps forward, wobbled a bit, and collapsed.

“Absol!” Ariel ran to his side and fell to her knees, placing a hand on the Pokémon’s chest.

“I can’t believe it…” Kira murmured weakly.

“Kira!? Are you ok?!” Kalak said, his arms tightening around her. His eyes were filling up once more.

“I saw the whole thing just now…I’ll be ok, how is Absol doing?” she said as she tried to sit up. Lapras reached back with her long neck and nuzzled Kira, then bit down on her clothes and released her on dry land. Kalak swam and ran to where she and Ariel were huddled around the unmoving creature, and Ariel was muttering softly.

“It can’t be, it can’t be, it can’t be! This is…no, impossible!” she said quickly.

“Kalak…Absol is dead…” Kira said, sniffling and trying to hold back tears. “He…h-he saved m-my life…and d…d-died for it!” she was crying now. Kalak and fell to his knees as well and hugged his friend close to him. Shinx also came to his side.

“You can’t die, you must continue! This is crazy…” Ariel continued to mutter.

“Ariel…what’s the matter? Other than the obvious, is something wrong?” Kalak asked her.

“Kalak…this was no ordinary Absol…this was Aerot, the Pokémon said in our legends to be a protector of this lake and those who live here. The legend says that-

“Ariel, this Absol is not Aerot,” Marten interjected.

“W-what!? But grandpa, he-

“Aerot is described as a Pokémon unlike any other, much like the other legendary Pokémon. It would not resemble any other Pokémon,” he concluded.

“But it is also said to have incredible power, and that was like nothing I’ve ever even heard of in out legends!”

“Pokémon can do amazing things to protect human life you know,” Marten said, glancing at the motionless hero.

“It was more than amazing…It was inspiring…it was…” She paused for a moment, and then her face turned into pure relief. “He’s breathing!” She cried.

“Amazing things…” Marten said softly and slowly, then he chuckled as if he had known the whole time.

Absol’s eyes slit opened and his head came up slowly. He panted weakly as he got to his feet and steadied himself. His tattered and matter fur was a mess, and he appeared to have a broken leg. Everybody’s heart was torn with compassion as he made his way towards Kalak, who stood up and faced him.

“Thank you Absol. You saved me from going into that building, and you saved Kira’s life with Lapras’ help. I couldn’t ask for more from you. Will you be ok?” Absol looked in Shinx’s direction, and Shinx understood from his eyes that he wanted him. He came over, and Absol weakly made a request that only Shinx could understand. Shinx nodded, and approached Kalak, leaping at his belt and removing a Pokéball which he brought to Absol. Kalak watched in amazement as Absol depressed the button and allowed himself to be captured. Everybody looked at Kalak with the same approval that Absol had given him.

“Kalak, you did it. You captured Absol!” Kira said to him, trying to snap him out of his trance-like stare. The town cheered as one and Kalak picked up the ball, holding it close to him.

“Why did you do that? Why choose me Absol? Thank  you for everything,” he thought.

The commotion in Melody Town drew in media attention like nothing else, and Kalak and Kira’s exploits from thwarting Team Galactic to this incredible incident became famous. They remained in Melody Town for a few weeks while Absol healed at a faster rate than any human could. They became somewhat of legends themselves in this town of the legendary, and after an extended five week stay, were finally saying goodbye. The night before, there had been another grand party to celebrate Kalak and Kira, the finished reconstruction of the flooded town, and of course, Absol.

“Ariel…Marten…everybody! I was so excited to see everybody again, and I was really looking forward to my stay here,” Kira began, addressing the small farewell party that had formed to see them off that morning. “I never expected things to go how they did, but I can’t say I would’ve asked for anything else!” She said.

“Where are you guys going?” Ariel asked.

“We will set out for Siren Town, and continue on our gym challenge,” Kira replied, looking away. She hated getting emotional in front of people.

“It’s been amazing everyone, I’m sure we’ll be back, in fact I promise! Thanks for everything, really!” Kalak said, and Shinx barked his farewell, Eevee following his lead. After some last goodbyes, the group was once more on the move. Their stay here had been incredible, and with Kalak’s ambitions of meeting the legendary Pokémon, Kira’s wish to see all of Harmone, and the spirits of their Pokémon leading the way, the things to come could only be more grandiose!

Across the Sands

Kalak and Kira had departed from Melody Town close to nine in the morning. It was now almost two in the afternoon and they had been walking nonstop since. The forested path had subtly shifted from vibrant greens to sickly yellows and pale whites. The heat was becoming greater in minute amounts as well as they descended the gradual slope into the valley where they eventually would run into their next big task, crossing the Marimba Desert.

“Kira, how big did you say the Marimba was?” Kalak asked as they sat on a blanket and ate the food that had been prepared earlier that day. They both missed having a table to eat at and quality meals were now limited.

“Well it’s only about two days worth of travel, and we shouldn’t have any problems if we properly ration our water. There are caravans that go out sometimes, but the Trainer Center on the PC in the hotel said that the last one left yesterday, and that they won’t make a return trip for a week,” Kira said, patting Shinx on the head as he nuzzled her side. He wanted to play with her Kirlia. The two Pokémon had spent a good deal of time together at the welcoming party, and Shinx had become enamored. The two trainers thought it was adorable, but Shinx took the relationship very seriously. “Ok Shinxy, I’ll let Kirlia out to play!” she said with a giggle. She released the psychic type, who emerged with her usual grace, eyeing Shinx and silently sighing. Shinx took the relationship seriously, but Kirlia was seriously annoyed. Their trainers laughed as Kirlia led Shinx into a game of ‘catch me if you can’, and was using teleport to ensure victory.

“Maybe we should let all of our Pokémon have a bit of time out of the ball before we head out?” Kalak suggested. He and Kira sent everybody out, a full attendance of Kakuna, Starly, Cyndaquil, Absol, Pidgeotto, Eevee, Skitty, Lapras, Kirlia and Shinx. Everybody had developed a friendly relationship, and even the reserved Absol had become a part of the social group. He and Cyndaquil sparred and the others spectated curiously. Then they all chortled as Kirlia teleported right in between the two and Shinx dove headfirst into Absol to try and reach her.

“Well, that was smart,” Kira said as she laughed along with the Pokémon.

“Hey, Kirlia’s the problem here, girls can be so difficult!” Kalak retorted.

“Oh, is that so Kalak? Are we pretty girls too hard for you to understand?” she said, cuddling up to him and preening herself, then giggling at her companion’s defeated expression. The trainers finished their meal and rounded up their Pokémon, setting out at a faster pace than earlier. Soon, the only thing before them was rock and sand stretched out endlessly like animal skin over the frame of a drum.

“Perhaps that’s where the name comes from?” Kalak wondered to himself as he took in the image. He had hardly noticed the greenery fade out behind him and was already distressed by the heat.

“You ready for this?” Kira asked him when she saw his distraught face sweating already.

“Yea…I don’t deal with heat well. I prefer cold. I don’t get cold,” He said very sternly, directing his anger at the heat itself.

“You are such a diva!” Kira blurted out through laughter. Kalak was beginning to understand her aversion to Buzz Forest. The two started their journey slowly, drinking water at the appropriate intervals and making good time. After about three hours, they came to a sign pointing towards their destination that informed them that they had made it a quarter of the way. There was also a notice telling them about a rest stop at the halfway point. They would sleep there for the night rather than rough it in the sand.

“Kalak…Shinx looks woozy,” Kira pointed out with great concern.

“You’re right. I’m sorry Shinx, you didn’t have to stay out here! Here, rest awhile,” He said, putting him in his ball. Kira had done so with Eevee before they entered the barren world of heat.

“You really have to be careful Kalak, Pokémon can dry out too you know…”

“You’re right, I’m just so used to having him by my side, like having an arm or a leg,” Kalak said. He realized as he thought back to the day he and Shinx had met that he had once felt the same way about Kira, and now that they were reunited, not much had changed about that.

“I understand how you feel, I have always been with Eevee since…he left,” Kira said, emphasizing the grudge that she held against her father.

“You know, I’m sure the world isn’t so huge that you’ll never see him again. Then, when you do, you can show him how you feel! Take him out!” Kalak said, patting Kira’s shoulder. She was taken aback and clasped her hands to her mouth.

“Kalak, how could you even suggest something like that!?” Kalak understood what she was thinking from the look she gave him.

“Hah, that’s not what I meant, my god, no! I meant in a battle! Take him out in battle!” Kalak said, trying harder by the minute to maintain his cool in the beating sun.

“Me, defeat my father in a battle…” Kira replied, her expression softening and her eyes becoming distant as her breath trailed off with the rest of the wind across the endless ocean of golden sand. Her thoughts seem to go with the wind as well as Kalak snapped her back into reality.

“Hello?” He said, waving his hand. Kira jumped a little and noticed that Kalak’s footsteps had gone a few more feet and come back. She had completely frozen up in her endless desire to beat her own dad.

“Oh…sorry…I was just…what?”

“I said, what makes you think you couldn’t defeat him?”

“He…was a very good trainer…much better than he was at being a father anyway,” She replied, snorting then walking on. Kalak was surprised.

“Oh, well…you just haven’t trained enough yet! Or maybe you have, you just need the chance to-

A sudden shaking stopped Kalak in his tracks. He immediately fell to the ground, thinking back on the quake in Melody Town. “Kira!” He shouted, lost in the memory.

“What is it!?” she replied, running to her fallen friend. Kalak realized in an instant that it was fine, as the sand beneath his torso quickly lifted up and slid off of the emerged snout of the Pokémon below, upon which Kalak now rested. He was stunned and unsure of what to do, and jumped back to his feet when the snout opened wide and sounded an apathetic sigh.

“Umm…what…is that?” he asked aloud. Before Kira could stop giggling to answer him, the rest of the Pokémon wriggled its way out of the ground awkwardly. Kalak’s momentum had stopped the poor Sandshrew dead in its tracks.

“It’s adorable is what it is!” She squealed. She ran straight towards the confused Pokémon and it leaped back, turning its rear to her and kicking up sand. Kira sputtered and waved her arms around, and Kalak rolled his eyes. How was it possible for the most experienced trainer between the two of them to make such an obvious mistake, he wondered. Kalak smirked and shot her a glance of “I’ll show you how it’s done”. Sending out Cyndaquil, Kalak ordered him to raze the sand around Sandshrew, turning it into glass. The surprised target was too slow in reacting, and left helpless in the bowl-like container, but seemed to concede defeat rather elegantly with an awkward kind of bow. Kalak nodded his head and tossed his pokéball, succeeding in his skillful capture.

“That was nothing compared to catching Absol!” he thought to himself with a silent laugh.

“Wow, nice goin’ show off!” Kira said, mostly joking as she playfully punched Kalak in the arm.

“Look who’s calling who a show off! Do you remember the last few weeks or what?” Kalak said, now letting his laughter become audible. Kira blushed and had nothing more to say.

“He is correct I suppose…” she though with an internal grimace. Kalak praised Cyndaquil before returning him to his pokéball to keep him from the heat. Sandshrew, however, would be fine, and this was the perfect chance to get to know her.

“Hey there bud, my name’s Kalak,” he said, then gesturing to his partner finished “And this is the girl you like throwing sand at. Her name is Kira though, and I think she prefers that!” he was trying to conceal his laugh from her when she shot him a dangerous stare of resentment.

“I believe I am capable of my own introduction, thank you! And what’s up with calling it bud? She’s a girl after all,” Kira said, happy to have caught his mistake.

“Ok, ok…sorry. Let’s introduce the other Pokémon, shall we?” Kalak suggested as he depressed multiple buttons on his pokéballs and a flash of light revealed his companions. Shinx, Kakuna, Absol and Starly presented themselves to Sandshrew while Cyndaquil stood back bashfully. Sandshrew didn’t seem to hold a grudge, however. Kira decided that she would wait to introduce her team at the midway point. After the quick recess, Kalak recalled all of his Pokémon except for his newest, as she was well adapted for this environment. They walked for a bit longer before stopping to drink a little.

“Hey, Sandshrew, do you know how much further we are from the human caravan’s resting spot?” Kira asked, wondering if she had perhaps seen it before. Sandshrew flopped onto her back and rolled into a tight ball, then began to roll slowly and carefully, her tracks in the sand creating a diagram of sorts. The trainers watched, confused at first.

“Is that…a map?” Kalak asked as the image slowly developed. When she stopped, Sandshrew had created an amorphous blob.

“Guess it isn’t,” Kira said, ready to continue walking. Then, Sandshrew began to make more markings with her claws and tail. There were spots where she dug small holes and piled sand in others. Soon, the map came to be, a map of the entire desert.

“You were saying?” Kalak remarked as he gazed over the small scale model. The details were impressive, and he believed that Sandshrew must have been able to sense shapes in the ground. “No Pokémon could have known so much detail about the environment otherwise,” he thought.

“Oh, look…where she’s standing must be…”

“The midway point?” he finished for her. The lines the Pokémon had drawn to represent the trainers and herself were already at the midway point, just a little further than halfway across the map.

“But there’s nothing here!” Kira shouted, looking up at the sky and searching all around for signs of other people. There was also no shelter as the sign earlier had described.

“Sandshrew, is this the midway point?” Kalak asked, kneeling down to rub his new companion’s back, which he was surprised to find as smooth and warm as his own despite its appearance of being hard and sandy. She did a small jump and began to burrow rapidly, disappearing from sight for a few seconds before emerging a few feet away and gesturing to the hole. It was made big enough for a human to fit, so Kalak assumed that it was meant for him. He glanced at Kira, who shrugged and eyed the hole. Then, Kalak descended slowly, finding the tunnel to be much deeper than he expected. Much steeper too. He was only a few feet down before the sand started to give way and he found himself sliding about twenty feet below the surface, landing on a hard bed of sand covered rock. He was now in a large cavern that was cool and, to his surprise, bright. Here, he saw a stout, stone building that resembled an old fort. There were lit lanterns hanging from the building and the cave walls, and there was a man in the fort. When he eyed Kalak, he disappeared from the window and was outside running towards him in an instant.

“Finally! How did you find us!?” he cried.

“Kalak!? What’s happening?” Kira shouted down the burrow, confused when she heard it echo.

“Who’s that?” The elderly man called up to her, his long, unkempt hair nearly hitting Kalak in the face as he whipped his head upwards. Kalak was speechless.

“Is someone down there?” Kira replied.

“There are a few of us, yes. Are you the rescue team?” Called the man.

“No sir, we are just two trainers in search of the rest stop…This isn’t it, is it?” Kalak told the man, straightening up and reclaiming his cool.

“Yep, this is it…” he said, sighing before he resumed speaking. “The entrance was completely covered by a wicked sandstorm. There is a tunnel leading to a staircase over there,” he said, gesturing to a set of stone stairs, “but it’s full of sand now,” He finished. He was disgruntled and Kalak felt bad for disappointing him.

“How long have you been here?” Kira half shrieked as she slid down the sandy slide, groaning as she hit the ground. She stood up and rubbed her sore bottom before noticing the impressive looking building, now with seven people standing at the entrance, all of whom appeared to be trainers in some kind of black and orange uniform.

“It’s been three days…” one of them answered quietly, staring down at the earthy floor. The shadows of the group cast by the firelight danced like falling rain across the ground. Kalak began to wonder if they were now stuck as well.

“Why haven’t you just used your Pokémon to dig your way out?” He asked the group. The long-haired man stepped up to answer.

“None of our Pokémon…are even the least bit capable of removing this sand,” He said in a hesitant voice.

“What? Why not?” Kira wondered aloud.

“Team Galactic whipped up the sandstorm…and took our Pokémon,” he finished, looking down like the rest of the trainers. Kalak could sense the shame radiating from him like a hot iron, affecting the other trainers with the same guilt and disappointment.

“That’s terrible! Kalak, we have to help them…and ourselves!” Kira declared, her determined tone bouncing off the walls of the miniature cave.

“Right…but first I have a question. You were expecting a rescue team?” Kalak said, turning back to the long-haired man.

“Yes, there were two of us who managed to escape, even without their Pokémon. They were going to go for help. I guess they haven’t made it yet, I hope they are ok…” he said with yet another downward glance. The negative aura of the cavern bothered Kalak. He had to fix this, and fast.

“Hey, Sandshrew!” he called up the entrance. Seconds later, a yellow ball came speeding down the burrow and into the cave, rolling on the floor and exploding into a jump towards the covered staircase. Her forward momentum sent her straight into the sand, which she passed through as if it were water, her claws blurry she sailed forward. Then, as the group of trainers watched in silence, smiles began to give the room a much better feel. Sandshrew worked quickly, and sunlight soon streamed into the cavern from a new angle. In just two minutes, the entrance was clear once more.

“W-Wow! Thank you so much, Kalak, was it?” The long-haired man said, leaping for joy. The others let out a cheer as they ran forward into the light of the sun, which was beginning to draw near to the horizon.

“Yes, my name is Kalak, and this is Sandshrew…” he replied, extending his hand but shooting a glance at Kira. This time, he would leave her introduction to herself.

“I am Kira, what’s your name?” She said, returning the glance to her partner.

“Yes, of course, how rude of me…I was so concerned with my own safety that I didn’t introduce us! Boys, come down here!” He called outside. The seven trainers filed down and stood behind their supposed leader. “I am Kinrad, the great master of dragons! I am training this group of trainers in the ways of dragon type Pokémon in hopes that they will become great trainers elsewhere!” He said in a now booming voice, his attitude now entirely different from when they were trapped.

“Kinrad…the elite four member?” Kalak asked, astounded at this revelation. He had watched many of his battles on television.

“I’m flattered, but I am no longer with the elite four. My successor is far more capable than I, and was once a part of this very training program!” He said, pride shining in his eyes.

“Wow, Kinrad, it’s so cool to meet you…but I have a question,” Kira said shyly. “How exactly did Team Galactic manage to steal your Pokémon? I mean, they can’t possibly be that good, can they?” Kinrad looked uneasy when he heard this, and began his reply quietly.

“They are real troublemakers, those Galactics. They came at us, about ten of them, and blinded us with that sandstorm. We retreated into the rest stop to form a battle strategy, but before we could, three of the grunts and their Pokémon ambushed us and knocked us out cold with some kind of gas…” He said, his memory haunting him as he quivered out the words.

“Oh…so then they didn’t actually defeat you…What lousy cowards!” Kira shouted with her fist raised high.

“Well, do you know where your Pokémon might be?” Kalak said, slightly calmer than his partner. Sandshrew was tugging on his jacket now and he lightly patted her on the head.

“No, I haven’t got any idea where they might be hiding…” Kinrad said, full of disappointment once more. Sandshrew had now begun to hop around and wave her small but powerful arms frantically.

“You guys, pay attention to Sandshrew!” Kira interjected, “She has something to say!”

“What is it girl?” Kalak inquired. The Pokémon gestured for them to follow and started up the stairs. It was now pretty dark out and the temperature had fallen from intense heat to stark cold.

“Maybe we should stay for the night Sandshrew...It’s too-

“Cyndaquil, warm things up a bit,” Kalak interrupted Kira.

“…cold,” she finished, annoyed and pleased simultaneously. The others laughed and she couldn’t help but join in. The dragon trainers seemed rather reserved, yet Kira felt comfortable in their presence.

“Well, what do you say we stay here anyway? It will only make tomorrow’s search easier,” one of the dragon trainers suggested.

“I suppose that was the plan anyway…ok let’s stay the night Kira,” Kalak said, giving Cyndaquil a thumbs up out of gratitude. The group agreed on sleeping in the rest stop, Kalak and Kira falling asleep very quickly after a long walk to get here. The dragon trainers took shifts waiting for the two missing members to return, however they never did.

When the sun was finally up, the group quickly moved out. As they covered ground, Kinrad became more and more interested in Kira’s history as a trainer.

“You know, I always knew that you would follow in Roland’s footsteps,” he said with a big smile.

“What…what do you mean by that?” Kira said, very surprised to hear her father’s name from this man she had just met.

“Well, you seem as though you may be capable of facing him one day, maybe even taking his place if you’re good enough!” he replied with a chuckle. Kira was suddenly distraught.

“What the hell do you mean by that? Do you know my father!?” she blurted out.

“Kira, just calm down for a moment...” Kalak said, placing his hand on her shoulder. “Sorry Kinrad, she has quite the grudge against him…her father, I mean,” Kalak explained.

“”Oh…but, he seems to love his family so much…the way he visits Prelude Town all the time it’s like he spends more time there than at the League!” The surprised dragon master told them.

“What!? You mean the Pokémon League!? Kinrad…how exactly do you know my father?” Kira was on the brink of tears.

“Kira, Roland is the League Champion, a lot of trainers know him…” Kinrad said, a confused expression sweeping his face. Kalak and Kira were both stunned. “Didn’t you…know that?”

“My dad…never visited home once since he left…He is lying,” Kira said as her eyes began to fill up.

“Kira…” Kalak said softly as he embraced her and glanced sadly at Kinrad.

“I don’t understand…he would always leave for weeks at a time just to go and visit his family Kira. Has he truly never come to see you?” Kinrad looked at his pupils and suggested with his expression that they move ahead.

“N-Never once!” Kira cried out. She hadn’t let this out in years.

“Look Kira we will figure this out, I’ll help you myself. Let’s just focus on what’s next, alright?” Kalak softly told his friend. She looked into his eyes and felt his compassion. It comforted her and she settled down. After that, nobody spoke much, and the group moved quietly except for Sandshrew, who would occasionally burrow and surface like a dolphin leaping playfully. It was a surprisingly short time before the party reached the furthest edge of the sandy ocean, and the scenery soon changed once again. Now, rather than the usual greenery that Kalak and Kira were used to, they saw a rocky, darkly hued trail ahead. On either side of the distant path were small mountains.

“Mt. Boomonara and Mt.Clapanara…” Kira said in a soft tone of amazement. Her mood had shifted back to normal on the silent walk, and Kalak was happy to hear it. “I’ve never seen a volcano before…Are they…safe?” She asked, turning to Kinrad.

“Indeed they are, my dear. These volcanoes have been extinct for centuries. It won’t be easy for you to navigate the wilderness here without this though,” He said, pulling a small round object from a pouch. He handed the protected CD to Kalak as he explained that it was the HM for rock smash. “I couldn’t leave you without a parting gift now, could I? But I doubt this is the last we’ll see of one another,”

“Wait, are you leaving? What about your Pokémon and Team Galactic?” Kira said, very concerned for their loss.

“We will handle it. Do not worry for us, for the way of the dragon is to persevere in the face of defeat! Right boys?” The Dragon Master called in his spirited, booming voice.

“Persevere in the face of defeat! Help those in need, and help yourself last! Strengthen the mind, not the body! Respect nature, as she is mother to us all!” the band called out in one voice. Then, with a gesture from their master, they made a running formation and stood at attention.

“Impressive group, aren’t they?” Kalak said softly to Kira. As Kinrad took his spot at the head of the pack, he looked at the duo with expectant eyes. Kalak sensed that Kinrad’s prediction was correct, and that they would indeed meet again. Then, the dragon trainers burst into a sprint back towards the desert, some unknown plan already formed in their leader’s bold head.

“I hope they manage to retrieve their Pokémon…” Kira said, half to herself.

“You are upset…what is it Kira?” Kalak inquired with concerned eyes.

“What he said about my father…if it’s true…then I must strive to reach the Pokémon League even more than before Kalak. I must confront him. But I will let that go for now. We should get back to our normal pace,” she said, and Kalak smiled and laughed with her as they let their usual companions out of their balls and started across the rocky land. Kalak looked ahead and thought that the trail was deserted, barren, and surprisingly, exciting.

Arrival of a Rival!

Since there were no pokécenters around, Kalak and Kira were unable to utilize their new HM, which meant that as they continued towards the distant trail, they found themselves struggling over boulders and rocks just to move a few feet. Kira would occasionally send Pidgeotto to scout ahead to see how the terrain was, and eventually, he returned excited about something.

“What’s up with you, did you find a clearing?” Kira asked. Pidgeotto circled her head happily and nodded to confirm.

“Oh, look, I can see it from here!” Kalak called from atop the large rock on which he was perched. Shinx, who refused to take refuge in a pokéball to avoid the rock climbing, was trying his hardest to sink his claws into the boulder, slowly starting to slide down with a look of desperation in his bright eyes. Kalak chuckled and put his hand under Shinx to stop him from sliding and boosted him up gently from behind. Kira had always thought that they were adorable together, and it only made her want to bond with Eevee even more. She continued to look at the pair, Pokémon and trainer, and stood quietly until she realized that she had zoned out. By the time she came to her senses, Eevee was atop the boulder barking at her, and neither Kalak nor Shinx were in sight.

“Oops, here I come Eevee!” She called frantically. She tried to repeat the same maneuver as Kalak and ran straight at the boulder, jumping and kicking off of it, propelling herself up. She realized then just how strong Kalak’s legs must have been to have carried him up the sixteen foot rock face. As she began to fall, she realized that there was nothing but hard rock below and before she could think of how to land, something caught her arm and she swung towards the rock. Before she slammed against it, another hand caught her side, and she looked up at Kalak’s silhouette against the sun and, squinting, mumbled, “Thanks…I fell”.

“Heh, I know you did. I’ve been doing parkour my whole life. You would never have made it without a little time and help,” Kalak said as he hoisted her up rather effortlessly. Now Kira really noticed just how strong her friend truly was. His muscles weren’t huge, but they were definitely sharp and able on his lean figure.

“So what exactly is…that thing you said you do?” Kira inquired as she slowly descended the other side of the rock.

“Parkour? It’s like, a way of moving through your environment with the most efficiency you can manage. Like how I used just the right jumping and pushing technique on the boulder? It’s all about being able to get over any obstacle in your path and achieve anything…” He said, running to the edge of the boulder and jumping over Kira’s head. Kira turned and watched him hit the ground feet first and turn his body into a roll over his shoulder. “That’s what it is to me, anyhow…” He said, looking down for a moment, and then calling to Shinx to jump. To Kira’s surprise, the small Pokémon leaped off of his high perch with just as much confidence as Kalak and even did a front flip on the way down, where he landed safely in Kalak’s arms, Kalak hugging him tightly and spinning him around once before setting him down. As they spun, the lightning bolt pendants that Kira had bought them clanged together and shot sparks of all colors in circles like a mini firework. The bright neon colors looked beautiful against the dark, nearly black rock path. “That was exciting, I’d almost forgotten about that!” Kalak said as he walked to the boulder’s base. He helped Kira the rest of the way down, and Eevee nimbly bounded down on her own.

“So the clearing is just past there?” Kira asked, gesturing towards the next large cluster of rocks.

“Let’s get a move on then!” said Kalak, running ahead. Kira couldn’t keep up. She had to stop and breathe.

“K…Kalak…How can you keep going like this? It’s so…so crazy!” Kira said, half laughing and half panting.

“Sorry Kira, I should give you time to catch your breath…Ever since I met Shinx, I would go out to the woods and we would play for hours. One day, we just kind of made a game out of leaping on rocks and tree roots. It was so much fun that we would take it to the next level every time we played, and we would end up climbing trees, and doing tricks, and I guess I just started to get in shape pretty quickly. When I heard about parkour on TV, I asked Shinx if we should give it a try and he agreed ecstatically, so we made part of our daily lives conditioning our bodies. I have learned so much from Shinx, but I sometimes forget to slow down,”

“Wow…that’s pretty impressive, I never would have guessed it actually,” Kira said. She was now seated and her breathing was normal.

“Shall we walk then?” Kalak asked, offering a hand. Kira smiled and nodded, taking his hand and standing. Eevee jumped off of her lap and ran to Shinx’s side. The two of them were just as friendly as the trainers they traveled with. After the group had passed over the final boulder, they found something unexpected. In the supposed clearing stood a tall totem pole, each face carved into it was that of a fire type Pokémon. This was the entrance to Siren Town.

“Oh, this place is simply precious!” Kira half squealed. The buildings were all small and very earthen in appearance. Metallic hues covered the whole area, and the ground was undeveloped and naturally flat but rocky. There was a large plume of steam rising from behind one particularly small building.

“Looks like there’s a hot spring! That will feel wonderful after all of the climbing,” Kalak said, relaxing in his own thoughts.

“Look over there!” Kira said as she began to walk towards a short man with short, ruby red hair. “Excuse me, hi…” she began.

“I have no time for this, miss. I’m sorry,” the young man stated very abruptly. He turned his back and began to head for the large building in the middle of town.

“What was that all about?” Kalak wondered aloud.

“Beats me…but did you see the muscle on him?” Kira said, her tone acting as a dead giveaway to her new crush. Kalak rolled his eyes and began to wander about the place. It was very empty. Nobody was around other than the short, hot tempered man. As Kalak observed the slopes on either side of town, he noticed a rather large cave that seemed to have metal tracks leading into it. A mine, perhaps.

“Kira, is this a mining town, do you know?” He asked. He had heard of Siren Town before, but only knew it for its volcanic landscape.

“Actually, we here in Siren receive boat shipments from Keynote Harbor, which is the city south of here,” Replied an elderly woman from her front door. She gestured for the trainers to come nearer and continued with her explanation. “You see, Keynote Mines produces a large amount of various ores using the help of a very talented mining team, made up entirely of Onix if you can believe it!”

“Whoa, a team of mining Onix!? That’s so cool!” Kira said. Eevee and Shinx even perked up at their trainers’ excitement.

“So then…Siren Town is a metalworking town?” Kalak concluded.

“It is indeed, The finest in the world, in my opinion! Harmone may not be well known for its technological advances, but when it comes to structural stability, well, nothing compares!” Said the woman with a chuckle. “That smoky cavern up on the hillside there, that’s actually an underground metal factory. Fire Pokémon and their masters actually use ancient volcanic heat and draw magma right to the surface! What wonderful creatures, Pokémon…Oh, my name is Rita by the way. And you are?”

“Oh, nice meeting you Rita, my name is Kalak and this here is Shinx!”

“I’m Kira, and this is Eevee. We are from Prelude Town on a gym challenge!”

“Oh my, you must be the two lovers who are all over the news for your heroics! It’s a pleasure to meet the two of you!” Rita said with lit up eyes and a broad smile.

“L-Lovers!? Is that what the media is portraying us as?” Kira said, unable to hide her bright red cheeks.

“No, no, I simply made an assumption, don’t mind me…” Rita replied with a giggle.

“Well, would you mind telling us what they have said about us? I’m certainly curious…” Kalak asked, taking a seat on a bench.

“Of course dear. They say that you two came out of nowhere and stopped numerous ploys by Team Galactic without even being identified until Officer Jenny of Minuet Town told everyone about what happened with that nasty scoundrel Verda! Then, they said that you saved Melody Town from some kind of bizarre natural disaster with the help of an Absol. Oh, and they Also mentioned that you traveled with some rare Pokémon walking by your sides, which I can now see for myself! I’ve never once laid eyes on a Shinx or an Eevee you know!” Rita finished with another big chuckle.

“Wow, so word sure has gotten around I guess…I feel like a celebrity!” Kira said, lifting up Eevee and touching their noses together. Eevee smiled and licked Kira’s face and she giggled.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say celebrity, I mean all we did was stop some bad guys…so maybe, heroes is a better term!” Kalak said with a smirk. Suddenly, Kalak, Kira and Rita all heard a shout from across the small town. “Was that…the short angry guy?” Kalak said.

“You mean the mysterious, serious looking man?” Kira said, half trying to hide a big grin.

“You must mean Pymar…yea, he’s a hot spirit alright…He has been very tense lately. We should find out what’s wrong,” Rita said. Kira and Kalak rushed over the rocky ground to where they had heard the shouting. When they arrived, they found that a large group of Magmar was coming down the hill straight towards the small town. Pymar was insulting them and cursing at them.

“Hey, you are simply going to enrage them further,” Kalak suggested. Pymar turned around and gave him an intense glare.

“I don’t see any better suggestion, so why don’t you do something then? Let’s see just how perfect you are,” retorted the man, who obviously had anger issues, Kalak thought.

“Fine, let’s do this,” Kalak said, looking at Kira. She gave him an affirmative glance and sent out Lapras as Kalak sent out Starly.

“Lapras, use bubble beam!” Kira directed. Starly whipped up a whirlwind at Kalak’s command and enveloped Lapras’ powerful bubbles. The small cyclone of water and wind energy hit the center of the seven intruders and deterred some. A second wave of attacks quickly fended off the others and soon, the threat was averted. Pymar shut his eyes for a moment and tensed his muscles. Then, he surprised (and rather frightened) the trainers when his eyes shot opened and he shouted as if he had been electrocuted.

“Wow, that was…that was phenomenal! So coordinated, and direct, and just…just…just what I’m looking for!”

“W-Well, um, thanks, I guess, it was nothing really…I’m Kalak by the way, and-

“And I’m Kira, at your service!” interjected the infatuated girl.

“Well met, friends. My name is Pymar, and I’m the gym leader of this town,” he replied, far more friendly now and extending his hand to each of them. Shock took over Kalak’s expression at hearing this.

“You’re the gym leader!? Then why didn’t you do something about the Magmar?” he asked, slightly annoyed at Pymar’s way of dealing with things.

“Well, I can normally protect this place pretty well, however the Magmar are resistant to my firey attacks. I’m sorry about before, by the way,” He said, suddenly speaking softer. “I have become extremely bored lately because none of the trainers that come through here take the gym challenge, and those who do are easy to defeat. When I saw that you were trainers, I guess I took it kind of bitterly…my mistake,” he said, sincerity in his fiery eyes.

“Oh, don’t worry about Kalak, Pymar, he must still be excited from that battle…We should go talk about all this boredom you are facing and-

“Ok Kira, we can let him be now,” Kalak said, doing his best to appear unbothered. He was unsure of how anybody could be so eager to go off with a stranger, even a “well met” one.

“No, it’s ok, really. In fact, now I’m really fired up! Won’t you please stop by the gym? I can already see that that’s what you’re here for!” He said, looking at Kira’s badges. Kalak found it odd yet humorous that this man, who was a gym leader and protector of the town, was now begging them, and for a fight no less. Nevertheless, it truly was why they were there in the first place.

“Ok, of course we will. Both of us, right Kira?” Kalak replied as he resisted leading her to the pokécenter by force.

“Sure thing. It’d be great to get around to my next badge…so who will go first this time?” She asked.

“You won’t have to worry about that. Just show up together in an hour, ok?”

“Ok, sure. Uh, nice meeting you Pymar,” Kalak said with a nod. Then, he and Kira turned and walked to the pokécenter. After passing the time by playing with their Pokémon and talking with Rita, it was soon time for the battle. The gym was a large building that appeared to be made entirely of stone. Upon walking inside, however, Kalak and Kira found a shiny, chrome floor engraved with traditional battlefield markings and chrome painted walls. There was also a chrome machine in the back resembling a large furnace from which two intense jets of fire were streaming, illuminating the chrome-coated room a lively orange.

“Wow, this place is so…futuristic. And surprisingly, it isn’t hot in here at all!” Kira said over the roaring furnace.

“Oh, don’t you worry, it’s going to get plenty hot in a few moments,” remarked Pymar as he emerged from a back room with another individual who looked very similar to him but taller and with jet black hair. “Ragmus, this is Kalak and Kira, our challengers for today. How about you introduce yourself and explain the rules?”

“Hey there, it’s great to finally have a couple of worthy opponents. My name is Ragmus, Pymar’s older brother and co-leader of this gym,” he began.

“Co-leader?” the challengers asked in unison.

“Yes, this gym is run by the both of us, meaning that we will each use three Pokémon. You two will be teaming up the same way to defeat us, so now the question remains…can you keep your cool under this kind of heat?” Ragmus said with a taunting smirk and confident laugh.

“Oh, I think we can take anything you throw at us!” Kalak said, already holding three pokéballs in hand.

“That’s right Kalak, let’s show them!” Kira urged as she made her choices.

“Ok then, let’s begin!” Pymar shouted as he sent out his Camerupt. Ragmus sent out a Monferno, Kira chose Eevee and Kalak decided on Shinx. This first round was very short, as Camerupt’s earthquake attack knocked both of its opponents out at once.

“Well, my other options are Starly and Absol. A flyer is the best choice here, especially against that Monferno…” Kalak reasoned. “Kira, did you chose a flying type? Go with it,” he instructed.

“I think I’m good,” Kira replied as she sent Lapras out. As Starly dodged blasts of fire from Camerupt, it was impossible to get a hit in on Monferno. Before long, the worn out Pokémon was overwhelmed by dual attacks and went down. Lapras, however, was doing fine with her type advantage. Even Absol had difficulty with the odd tactics of the fiery team, and was overcome.

“Kalak, you are ineligible to earn your badge this match, better luck next time,” Pymar called out as the fight raged on. Kalak couldn’t believe it. He moved quickly and angrily to the sidelines to cheer for Kira and Lapras. The sheer size of her watery attacks was enough to fell what Pymar and Ragmus could throw at her, and Kira seized victory in an impressive upset.

“Alright Lapras! We did it!” she cried out, hugging her partner’s long neck. The pride Kalak felt was competing within him with his disappointment. He watched longingly as Pymar handed Kira a small shiny object, her ember badge.

“Ugh, that couldn’t have gone much worse…now I have to hook up with some unfamiliar trainer I suppose,” Kalak thought, letting his sorrow leave him.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure you will find somebody to battle with you,” Kira said, trying not to let her excitement show too much. They were in the pokécenter waiting for Kalak’s Pokémon and Eevee to be restored to health.

“I…don’t know about that so much…” mumbled a man who was standing near the reception counter. He walked over to the two trainers. “I couldn’t help but overhear, and I hate to say it, but lately, there haven’t been many trainers around…you should talk to everybody who enters town,” he added.

“Great, so you mean it will be difficult to find a partner, let alone a skilled one?” Kalak said in a huff.

“Kalak, you aren’t usually so bothered by things like this…” began Kira. “What has you so upset?”

“It’s just…the way I felt after the battle. It bothered me that I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to put my heart into supporting you. You know that I-

“Kalak,” interrupted Kira, “You are not my personal cheerleader. You have every right to feel upset over a loss. Then, you get over it rather than dwell. Right now you just have to focus on finding another challenger. Then, once you win your badge, you can meet up with me…”

“Huh? Where are you going?”

“Uh…the hot spring spa…” Kira said with a bashful grin. “See you later!” She called to him as she quickly exited the building. Eevee had already been treated and followed her closely. Once Shinx, Absol and Starly were back in health, Kalak took them out to the gate of town and they observed the horizon together, along with his other Pokémon. Only two trainers passed through that day, and neither of them were even taking a gym challenge. Kira found him at the end of the night and led him to Rita’s house, as she had been kind enough to set up some bedding. The next morning, Kalak left before Kira was even awake and returned to his post. One trainer came by, but expressed no interest in the team up. Hours later, a whole group of female trainers entered the town.

“Hello, my name is Kalak! What kind of group are you?” he asked them. They were all in blue uniforms and looked kind of odd.

“Nice meeting you Kalak, you can call me Charlotte. I am the leader of this group of trainers, and their instructor. We are called the Blue Sky Troop, and we are a group of entertainers who train Pokémon it the theater arts!” proclaimed a tall, dark haired girl. She had a Pachirisu by her side, and as if to back up its trainer’s words, it leaped onto a rock and began to do some high speed acrobatics.

“So…you aren’t interested in battles?” Kalak asked, the answer already apparent to him.

“No, oh no indeed! We could never put our companions at risk that way, it would throw them off of their performing peaks!” Charlotte replied with a big grin. Kalak knew that none of the girls would be interested in teaming up, so he made pleasant conversation until they decided to get a move on. After that, no other trainers came through. It was a repeat of the previous evening, and the next morning began the same way as well. This time, however, Kalak was surprised to find somebody already waiting at the entrance to Siren Town. It was a boy, probably a few years older than him (judging by a small goatee) who had well groomed, shoulder length, dark brown hair that formed rigid spikes in the back. He seemed more dressed for business than for traveling, however he clearly wore a pokéball belt, and beside him stood an orange Pokémon that was unfamiliar to Kalak. His pokédex identified it as a Buizel, and the sound alerted the boy to his presence.

“Hey, you, you have Pokémon!” the stranger called out, his eyes fixated on Shinx. “And Rare ones at that…” He remarked under his breath, though it didn’t escape Kalak’s ears. Kalak approached him wearily, certain that he was somehow affiliated with Team Galactic.

“Hi, you are a trainer as well? My name is Kalak…” he observed a trainer card sticking out of the boy’s breast pocket in his maroon dress coat. It bore the name Richard. “And you are Richard, a trainer from Trill City!” Kalak exclaimed, hoping to impress the young trainer.

“That’s correct, and I want the world to know it! That’s why I wear my card here, just like dad did when this was his jacket,” Richard replied, very unimpressed. “It’s nice to meet you Kalak,” he said as they shook hands, “Are you taking the gym challenge by any chance?” Kalak couldn’t believe his ears.

“W-Well yes! I am…are you? You see I need…a…”

“A partner? Looks like you have just saved me the trouble of finding one on my own,” He said with a grin. Kalak guessed that he was not quite as old as he appeared. “And speaking of partners, this here is Buizel, my number one companion,” He said with a gesture towards his Pokémon.

“And this is my best friend, Shinx!” Kalak said, Shinx presenting himself to the new acquaintances. “So you are really going to challenge the Gym with me?”

“That depends…think you are tough enough to win it? I, as the future Pokémon League Champion, can’t just team up with anybody you know…”

“Well…” Kalak began, not wishing to reveal the reason he was in need of a partner to begin with, especially not to this walking ego, “I didn’t earn my reputation by losing!” He said confidently. “You have heard of me and my travels, haven’t you?”

“Can’t say I have…I know about many legendary travelers, but never heard of you. You seem a bit young to be famous anyhow,” Richard commented.

“I guess so, I just thought you might have heard about me and my friend Kira on TV…you see, we-

“AH! Kalak and Kira, the Prelude Duet!” Richard shouted.

“Prelude Duet, hmm? I like that one the best! I guess you know about what we have done then…” Kalak said, the name Prelude Duet echoing through his head.

“Nope, not really,” said Richard.

“But you just said-

“I did see you on the news, it’s just…I couldn’t pay attention to the story with such a beautiful girl on the screen! That Kira…are you two…?”

“Not exactly…” Kalak said with a disappointed glance at the ground. “But, anyway, I guess I don’t really have to prove my strength to you now, do I? When do we hit the gym?” he said, mostly wanting to change the subject.

“Well, like I said. I have no clue what you were on the news for. For all I know, you could be an outlaw, or one of those Galactics!” Richard said, his tone changing from friendly to hard and threatening. “If we are going to be partners…you will have to be able to beat me in battle first,” concluded Richard, Buizel taking it as a cue and leaping in front of his trainer. Kalak was caught by surprise, but more than ready to battle.

“Sounds good to me!” He said, signaling to Shinx who stared down Buizel. Buizel grunted and Shinx growled, their expressions each becoming extremely defensive. They then took off as if at some unseen signal and Buizel began launching bubbles here and there as Shinx zigzagged out of the way and moved in for close ranged electric bursts. Within a minute, Buizel couldn’t handle the speed, and tripped, Shinx landing a final thunderbolt attack. Next up, Richard sent out a Mightyena. Kalak called off Shinx and sent out Kakuna, who was slow in dodging the oncoming attacks but smart enough to use them to his advantage. He stealthily fired stringshot after stringshot around the battle area, and then used Mightyena’s movements against her. After becoming tangled to the point of immobilization, Richard had to forfeit the round. Next came his Geodude, And Kalak responded by sending in Absol. Absol made quick work of his opponent, and Cyndaquil did the same with Richard’s final Pokémon, Duskull.

After the battle, Richard’s mean attitude disappeared and he seemed to hold Kalak in high esteem instead. They chatted all the way to the pokécenter, and Kalak was surprised to learn that his new friend was only seventeen. As they waited for their Pokémon to be healed, they shared stories of their own adventures.

“So you are from Trill City. Have you ever been to Prelude Town?” Kalak asked. He had seen the vast difference in environment firsthand and had always wondered what it must be like to see it from the other perspective.

“I went once when I was really little…My mom and dad took my brother and I to the beach when I was only six. I was kind of bothered by the quiet, actually,”

“How can you say that? The sea breezes, the crash of the waves, the distant cries of Pokémon at play, and all of the tourists…how can you call it quiet?”

“Well, you know Trill City, right? There, what you just described is like the sound of one hundredth of the city at night,”

“Yea, I guess so…” Kalak said, his attention focused on the nurse who was bringing over his pokeballs. As he took them from her, he noticed that Richard seemed to be fixated on something in his hand. “What’s that?” he asked him.

“Oh…” he looked as though he would have rather pretended not to notice the question. “It’s nothing important, just a scar actually,” he said, presenting his palm to Kalak, who now saw what appeared to be a healing scratch from something with three sharp claws.

“Oh, wow, how’d you do that?” he responded at the sight.

“Well, I just recently had a run in with those scumbag Galactics...tried pinning one of them down, but her Pokémon roughed me up a little. It was her against me and another girl who I was helping out, yet she still got away…” he trailed off as his scarred hand clenched tight.

“Hey, it’s ok, at least you protected another trainer, right? Looks to me like the scar will hardly be noticeable once it heals all the way,” Kalak said softly to try and comfort his new partner. He seemed to harbor some great deal of hatred for Team Galactic.

“No…I let her escape…when she needed to be punished. I even tried using my sticky cuffs on her and they failed me!” Richard nearly grunted, suddenly seeming very torn up.

“Wait, sticky…cuffs?” Kalak said as he realized the strangeness of Richard’s comment.

“Yes. They are my latest project,” Richard explained as he reached for his backpack, which Kalak could now see was partially metal and with cool LED’s on it. The mechanical backpack’s front compartment slid open and from it, Richard removed two transparent blue spheres and handed them to Kalak, who found them to be oddly light for their size

“So…what exactly are they?” he asked.

“Watch and you’ll see,” Richard replied as he removed a small item that looked like a thick coin from his mechanical bag. He pushed a button and Kalak could hear it begin to emit a buzzing sound that seemed to disrupt the stability of the balls he was holding in each hand. They became gelatinous to the touch and sank around his hands and attracted one-another, completely restraining his hands. When Richard let the button go, the buzzing stopped and the gelatinous balls hardened again.

“Wow, this is amazing! You designed them?”

“Yes…I create things for fun, in fact Buizel is pretty smart, and he helps me out. My father builds things too, and I guess it rubbed off on me one day. I suddenly began forming all of these ideas, and then once Team Galactic became a real nuisance, I dedicated my work to developing law enforcement devices. Every officer in Trill City has some of my equipment!” declared the trainer proudly.

“Now that’s pretty awesome Richard! Now…could you get these things off of me?” Kalak replied, raising his fused hands in the air and laughing. Richard joined in the laughter and pressed the button once more, causing Kalak to be able to separate his hands with ease and let the balls drip off of him. When they hardened once more, they reformed their spherical shape. After they talked some more about Richard’s inventions, the new friends made for the gym. Watching them enter from afar, comfortably seated in the hot waters of the spring spa, Kira silently wished Kalak good luck. She had now been soaking on and off for a while as Eevee and her other Pokémon received special spa treatments inside.

“I know you have it in you, Kalak, just give it your all!” she thought, her eyes beginning to close slowly as her relaxed body sank into sleep.

“Pymar, Ragmus, are you here? I have found a partner to challenge with!” called Kalak once inside the shiny room of Blast Furnace Arena.

“Welcome back Kalak!” said Ragmus, stepping out from the back room once more. “And you…you’re Richard, correct? The one who came in here earlier?”

“Yes, I have returned to claim my ember badge! Bringing me one step closer to the inevitable…Becoming the Pokémon League Champion!” Richard declared in a distant but loud voice that bounced off the shimmering walls.

“Is that so?” asked Pymar as he too entered the battle room. “You have to prove your worth first! If you have chosen your Pokémon, then let us begin!”

“I’m more than ready. How about you?” Kalak asked Richard, who seemed to be silently pondering something for a moment with his eyes closed before opening them and responding with a confident nod.

“Ok then! Let’s do this Pymar! I choose Monferno!” called Ragmus

“And I choose Camerupt!” shouted the younger gym leader.

“Ok, you’re up, Mightyena,” said Richard.

“Let’s do it Starly!” Kalak called, a new battle strategy already forming. Before he had a chance to explain his plan to Richard, however, Mightyena was already dashing towards Camerupt, who used earthquake immediately. Monferno leaped over the shockwaves as in the previous battle, and to Kalak’s surprise, so did Mightyena as if he had been waiting for it. Richard and his team must have already worked out a battle strategy in preparation. Mighteyena responded to the attack with a vicious crunch attack that seemed to do a lot of damage.

“Perfect Mightyena, now go back to defense mode!” Richard called, and the obedient Pokémon swiftly returned to where it had begun, awaiting the next attack or order.

“Ok Starly, don’t let them steal the whole show! Attack Monferno with a whirlwind!” Kalak ordered, Starly springing into action. The incredibly fast bird was matched, however, by Monferno’s speed. It leapt in the air and bounced off the chrome wall, snagging Starly out of the air and unleashing a seismic toss attack, from which Starly managed to recover and quickly use its attack. Both Pokémon took damage, but Starly came out on top due to his type advantage. After just one more round of combat, both of the gym leaders’ Pokémon were knocked out by their opponents’ speed and accuracy. Next came Pymar’s Houndour and Ragmus chose Magcargo.

“Enough, Mightyena,” Richard said, calling out Geodude.

“Ok then, you return too Starly! Go Absol!” Kalak called, trying his best to keep up with whatever Richard had planned. Absol’s intense speed and Geodude’s major type advantage quickly ended round two in another victory for their side.

“Ok, no more messing around!” Ragmus said as he sent out a Magmar. Pymar chose his Ninetails. These two Pokémon proved to be too tough for Absol and Geodude. Kalak resorted back to Starly, and Richard sent out Buizel.

“Buizel, hit that Magmar with bubblebeam!” Richard ordered. Magmar dodged and responded with flamethrower, barely grazing Buizel. Ninetails used dark pulse, and Starly dodged it, speeding toward’s his attacker with a steel wing attack. It hit hard, knocking Ninetails over, but not out. Magmar tried to cover its partner, firing ember attacks through the air. Starly was too fast, and dodged each attack before doubling back to hit Ninetails once more. Buizel took advantage of the growing buildup of ashen cloud and hid itself between its two opponents, and Kalak had no idea what it could have been up to. Starly continued to utilize the strategy until it became impossible to see the ongoing battle through the thick grey cloud. Other than emerging bursts of flame and water, nothing could be seen at all. After a few moments of all four trainers listening to the intense battle within the cloud, Starly emerged and returned to Kalak’s side, looking worn out but proud. Buizel soon came running out as well, his glace at Richard saying all. As the dark shroud dissipated, both Ninetails and Magmar lay unconscious.

“Alright! We did it Richard!” Kalak said, walking towards his partner to shake his hand.

“Glad I chose the right partner, Kalak. Your Pokémon did great!” he said as he shook his hand.

“Not so fast you two!” Pymar called loudly across the room. “Now that you have proven yourselves eligible to receive your badges, you must complete one last challenge to earn them!” At hearing this, Kalak and Richard both tensed up and simply looked at the gym leader.

“That’s right,” chimed in Ragmus. “Now, you two have to battle for the badge!”

“What!? You mean…” Richard began.

“We don’t both get badges?” finished Kalak. Richard seemed deep in thought for a moment, and then he walked to the other side of the room and began using healing items on his Pokémon.

“Sorry Kalak, but I can’t let you win…” he said, his tone distant. “I have a legacy to carry on, and you won’t get in the way of it!”

“Richard…” Kalak didn’t know what to say at this sudden attitude change. He simply healed his Pokémon as well and prepared to fight for his badge. “You know, it doesn’t take a legacy to make a good trainer. It takes hard work, the will to win, and a true connection with your Pokémon. So let the best trainer win! How about one Pokémon each?” He said, his pokéball in hand.

“Hmm. Sounds fine to me,” Replied the trainer as his mind began to race. He couldn’t back down now, he thought. Kalak had been a good friend in the short time they had known each other, however that was meaningless to him now. He was a partner then. Now he was an obstacle, and he wanted to move him out of the way with as much force as he could muster. His choice was Buizel, even though he was certain that Kalak would choose Shinx. It may have been a type disadvantage, but he was confident that Buizel was faster and stronger. Sure enough, as they both sent out their Pokémon, Buizel was face to face with Shinx, both of them staring each other down as intensely as their trainers now were.

“You may begin the battle…now!” Pymar exclaimed.

“You know what to do Shinx, so don’t hold back!” Called Kalak, certain that Richard wouldn’t hold back either. Buizel began darting around Shinx in a circle while releasing energized bubbles, trapping his opponent in a ring of water energy. Shinx responded with an electric shockwave that eliminated most of them, but realized that he could no longer see Buizel, who hit him from behind with a bubblebeam. Shinx sprang back up and used his quick attack to pin down Buizel and deliver a powerful shock from his claws. Stunned for a moment, Buizel came to his senses and kicked Shinx off of him, following up with another bubblebeam. He no longer had the energy to create another bubble barrier. Shinx, on the other hand, was still plenty full of energy and dodged the attack to deliver a tackle. The blue Pokémon glanced back at his trainer, who nodded enthusiastically. This was one of the tactics they had been training for. With Buizel pinned once more, Shinx unleashed a thunderbolt that sent his opponent into a spasm before passing out. He leaped off of the downed Pokémon to be sure he was finished, and then joyfully ran to Kalak’s side. Victory was theirs.

“Buizel! Get up bud!” Called Richard, rushing to his Pokémon’s side. “Come on, you can’t be done! We can’t be done…”

“Sorry Richard, but Kalak is the winner. You must re-challenge with another partner,” Said Ragmus. Richard remained on the ground by his fallen friend, glaring at Kalak.

“Today…you have found yourself in an unfortunate position Kalak,” he muttered. “You have found yourself blocking my path to the championship, and if I were you, I would stay out of my way,” He then rose to his feet, put Buizel in his pokéball, and exited the gym in silence.

“See you around then…” Kalak muttered quietly to himself. He had lost a friend, but this time it wasn’t like before. Kira had always kept him close at heart, and so had Eevee. Shinx was rescued, and now they were closer than ever. Richard, however, wasn’t a friend anymore. Kalak could hear it in his voice, and see in his glare. He was a bitter rival now.

Crime on the High Seas!

Kira opened her eyes after falling asleep for over an hour in the warm spring waters, but could hardly keep them that way. She knew she should get out of the water soon.

“My Pokémon are fine though…probably having an amazing time at the spa…I’ll just…close my eyes, not sleep…just…just…” As her thoughts turned to relaxing once more and her heavy eyelids closed softly, she suddenly thought of Kalak. There was no particular thought there, just Kalak. She had almost forgotten in her tired stupor that he was probably taking the gym challenge as she sat there. Then she realized that she had thought of him because he had been the silhouette she had seen sitting by the side of the water when her eyes had cracked opened. Now, they were wide opened and staring at his stupid looking attempt to act as though he had just noticed her there.

“K-Kira!? I…uh…was hoping to find a place to relax after my battle…I…just saw you, like, now!” He said, stumbling over words here and there.

“Kalak. How long have you been staring at me in my bikini?” Kira said, fighting a giggle.

“Uh…only a minute or so I swear. I came to tell you how it went…” He said, cheeks red but sadness in his voice.

“Oh…did you…” Kira began, a pout dominating her expression.

“No, no! I…uh…” Kalak flashed his shiny new ember badge to reassure her.

“Oh! Wow, congratulations! What about your partner? Where did he go?” Kalak’s face once more became distressed.

“He lost?” Kira asked, now very confused.

“We won. Both of us. Turns out, if both trainers win, they have to face off for the badge…and…I think he hates me. Like, really hates me for winning. He was a good friend, for a little…” Kalak trailed off. Kira immediately understood. Kalak’s abandonment issues were hitting him now.

“I’m sorry Kalak…what kind of friend leaves because they are a sore loser? You should just be happy for winning a badge for now, I suppose,”

“I am happy about that Kira…in fact, I’m even happier things went the way they did the first time. I wouldn’t want to have to fight you over a silly badge!” replied Kalak from behind the doors of a changing stall. He came out in his bathing suit. “Now, if you don’t mind some company, I think I need to just relax to celebrate our victory!” He said, slipping into the hot water next to his friend while his Pokémon were also treated. The two talked for almost an hour about the battle and how Shinx had pulled through for him once more in the end. By the time they were done talking, their Pokémon had all gathered by the water’s edge, and all of them, trainers included, were a chorus of growling stomachs. They changed back into their clothes and went into the pokécenter where they were surprised to find Rita.

“Why hello there, did you two enjoy your…time together?” She said with a giggle. Both trainers blushed, and tried to hide their thoughts about the other’s bodies in their bathing suits. “Oh, don’t worry dears, I like to tease you! But that’s not why I’m here. You see, I think that it may be worth your while to stick around here for a while, as there are a number of rumors going around about a traveling performance group who are planning a big show near here.

“Oh! You mean the Blue Sky Troop? I know them! I met them as they were entering the town!” Kalak exclaimed. “They seem like a cool bunch, what do you say Kira?”

“Well, it certainly sounds cool! Where are they performing?” she asked Rita.

“Oh, it’s in a little theater along the way to the sea ports. The performance isn’t until tomorrow evening, so I figured that I would ask you to stay the night in my home once more,” replied the kind old woman. Gladly accepting, the trainers returned to her humble abode with her, talking about the Blue Sky Troop along the way.  After a wonderful dinner and a good night’s sleep, Kalak, Kira and Rita all left for the theater in the morning. It was much closer than the trainers had expected. Once inside, they purchased tickets and entered the auditorium. They found their seats and made small talk until the show began about ten minutes later.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are so glad you all could make it to our final performance this season!” came a voice over the PA system that Kalak recognized as Charlotte’s. “For those of you who are unfamiliar with our work, we specialize in a unique kind of performance that we like to call the art of Acrobattle, a combination of acrobatics, acting, and of course, Pokémon battle! We would never do anything to harm our precious Pokémon, so all of the simulated attacks that you see are either done through acrobatics or the work of our incredible special effects team! So before we begin, let’s have a round of applause for our entire group, both the on stage performers, and the brilliant minds in the back!” After this little introduction, a play-like performance began about a girl played by Charlotte and her Pachirisu. They encountered a member of the Galactics and had a beautifully choreographed sequence of dances and stunts to simulate a battle. The rest of the show was full of more amazing “fights”, good humor, and stunning special effects. When the lights came on and the audience went wild with applause, Charlotte thanked everyone for coming once more, and the girls took their last bow of the season.

“That was magnificent!” Cried Kira. “You really met them Kalak?”

“Yep, maybe I can introduce you guys!” he said. Once the auditorium was mostly cleared out, he managed to meet eyes with Charlotte. She waved excitedly and ran towards him, ending her run in a powerful hug.

“Kalak! You came to see us!? What did you think? Did I do ok?” she stammered. Kira began to give him a familiar look, and he was confused at how the actress was now acting.

“Y-You were wonderful! It was truly an awesome show, you can bet I’ll be a dedicated fan from now on!” he said, preparing to get over the sudden behavior change from when they had last met so that he could introduce Kira and Rita. Just then, Charlotte’s face lit up and she hugged him again, planting a kiss on his cheek. Before Kira could say anything, an unfamiliar voice piped up.

“Charlotte! How could you! I said that I wanted to ask him out!” cried one of the actresses that Kalak recognized. She was kind of short, and had flowing curls of brown all the way down to her lower back. If Kalak remembered correctly from the time he met them before, her name was Maria.

“Maria, not noooow…” whined Charlotte, blushing and looking angry.

“I’ll bet you Kara won’t be pleased to hear that you betrayed her either!” Maria said, as if she were trying to bargain with Charlotte.

“H-Hold on a moment, girls, what is going on here?” Kalak interjected. “I…didn’t know I was going out with any of you!” he said with a nervous chuckle. The two girls’ stares, along with Kira’s, made Kalak suddenly unsure of what to say. He was even more confused when the performers glanced at each other and began to laugh.

“Wow, Kalak, you really fell for that one!” Charlotte said between laughs. “We saw you in the audience, and couldn’t help but devise a little performance just for you!” Kalak’s confused expression gave way to laughter, and Kira and Rita joined him. “So anyhow, did you find a partner to battle with?”

“Oh, I did!” replied Kalak as he flashed his newest badge. He was suddenly far more comfortable with the conversation.  He explained how his encounter with Richard had gone, and then finally introduced Kira and Rita. After a special backstage tour of the show, the entire Blue Sky Troop and their Pokémon signed autographs for their three special guests, and bid them farewell. Once back at Rita’s place, the trainers gathered their extra belongings, and thanked the woman for her kindness.

“Oh, don’t you worry about it; it was a pleasure to meet you both, really! Just promise me you won’t be strangers now!” she responded, giving each of them a hug. She petted Eevee and Shinx as well before the group disembarked, setting out south towards the theater once more. This time, however, they would continue for many miles before reaching their destination, a large dock by the name of Pizzicato Harbor.

Kalak, I’ve never been on a boat before, do you think I will get sea sick?” asked Kira nervously. At those words, Eevee seemed to become just as uneasy.

“No, I mean, it can’t be that bad, right? I mean, the ferry takes at least a hundred trainers a day, and they do fine…I guess,” Kalak tried to comfort her, but he had his doubts. He tried changing the subject to the next gym, but was cut off immediately when he saw where Kira, who was walking a few feet behind him, was headed. Still looking straight ahead, her foot was about to run into the raised metal tracks that were just starting on the ground, probably part of the transportation system for the shipped ores from the mines. He ran straight towards her and as she tripped, he already had one arm around her waist and another around her shoulders.

“Kalak! Oh my…you!…thank….you…Where did you come from!? I didn’t even start tripping yet!”

“But you were about to, and I saw it, so…I caught you. What else would I do?”

“Whoa, that’s just ridiculous! But again…thanks!” Kira’s apparent disbelief made Kalak laugh, but she remained silent for a couple of minutes. The further they walked, the steeper the slope became, and the numerous railcar tracks made walking a little tricky. About a mile after they had begun to walk, grass began to border and eventually cover the path once more. The ocean was visible to the west, and much further ahead, the harbor stood out, a large grey block that contrasted with the dark blue water and the few trees. There were plenty of rock type Pokémon along the way, and both trainers fought their fair share. After many of these battles, Starly began to glow. He underwent his evolution into Staravia, showing off his new body with many swift aerial tricks. After only an hour and a half, they were finally there. The dirt beneath them immediately became concrete, and there seemed to be nobody around.

“Kira…why is there no ferry here?” Kalak asked as he scanned the horizon for any sign of a boat. Nothing.

“We…must have missed it…I guess…” she replied softly, suddenly lighting up and reaching for a pokéball. “But who needs a ferry!? We have Lapras, remember?” she said as she depressed the button. The majestic Pokémon looked at Kira quizzically. “Ok, well, I don’t really know how this works girl, but use surf, I guess. We need to cross the sea to Keynote Harbor!” At her trainer’s command, Lapras began to channel all of her energy. Much to everyone’s amazement, the Pokémon actually grew in size, not dramatically but noticeably.

“Was that normal!?” Kalak asked, a huge grin on his face. This random growth spurt amused him more than he cared to admit. Kira immediately reached into her bag and removed from it the CD like case containing labeled HM 03. She opened it and inspected the little booklet inside titled “Operations”.

“If a Pokémon is using this move for transportation purposes,” Kira read aloud, “It may increase in size to accommodate for the extra weight, and also uses the extra strength for ease of swimming. The Pokémon will return to its usual size when the move is no longer in use,” she concluded, a sound of approval escaping on her breath. “Well, hope that answers your question!” Kalak nodded, and the trainers hopped onto Lapras’ back. “Shinx, just for this first time, I don’t want to risk you falling buddy. Can you get in your pokéball?” Shinx scowled, but nodded his head. Kira took Kalak’s lead with Eevee as well, who was equally as displeased. “Come on Lapras, let’s see what you can do!” she called, encouraging her partner with a pat on the neck. With a nod, Lapras’ fins began to slice through the water and propel her forward. She hesitated to move too fast so as not to toss her living cargo into the sea with the many Tentacool she could feel.

“Lapras, if you want to go faster you can. We can hold on to your shell, right Kira?” Kalak said, hoping she would agree. He loved going fast, and feeling the wind blast through his hair.

“No problem! The faster the better Lapras!” called the girl, just as eager to have the wind in her large ponytail. Lapras responded with a loud and happy bellow as she momentarily raised all four fins from the water. When she did this, Kalak and Kira were stunned to see that they had grown considerably more than the rest of her body. When she brought them down into the water, the group was propelled at about 70 MPH, both trainers shouting with excitement and Lapras looking back at them with amusement in her big dark eyes. At this pace, it seemed like no time had passed since their departure when Pizzicato Harbor was completely out of sight, and soon the sun was nearing the horizon. The glow of twilight was stretching across the sea, and the Tentacool seemed to disappear. Instead, there were hundreds of glowing lights pulsating beneath the water in all sorts of colors.

“What…is that?” ask Kalak in amazement. Kira brought out her pokédex, which indicated that this was the time of night when Starmie began to come out, emitting glowing lights and radio waves. The trainers enjoyed this beautiful sight, urging Lapras to take a break from her fast pace. The Pokémon showed no sign of being tired, but slowed down happily. As soon as the sound of rushing water and wind ceased, Kalak’s keen ears picked up on something odd. He could hear a king of buzzing the sounded very unnatural. “Do you hear that Kira?”

“Hear what? All I hear are the waves,” she said with a shrug. Kalak listened closer.

“It’s like…a swarm of Beedrill or something…”

“Out here? In the middle of the ocean? No way a swarm of bug types would do anything like that!” Kira replied, but her face suddenly went blank as the humming Kalak heard became audible to her as well. Now, she was terrified. Being in Buzz Forest had been traumatizing enough, and now she was stuck on Lapras’ back to face a swarm of bugs.

“Hey…that isn’t the sound of wings flapping…it’s like some kind of generator! And look!” Kalak said, pointing to the horizon. It was now dark enough that they could see a yellow-green glow not too far off.

“Is that the city?” Kira wondered aloud.

“Can’t be. According to the map on my pokédex, we are only about three quarters of the way there. That light is only about a mile out from here! I say we investigate,” Kalak said, glowing with intrigue. Lapras quickly reached the source of the odd lights and sounds. What they found shocked them. The ferry that must have been the one they missed was floating in the water, but seemed to be stuck. It looked more like a cruise ship than a ferry. What held it there were large machines placed on the backs of large Tentacruel. They were emitting beams of yellow-green energy that surrounded the ship, keeping it in place. On the deck of the boat, were members of Team Galactic.

“What in the world is this!?” Kira shouted, drawing the attention of the nearby group of Galactic grunts.

“Well well, would you look at that? Two trainers on the back of a Lapras! What, did you miss you ferry? Ha-haah!”  one grunt shouted.

“Team Galactic, what are you up to!?’ Kalak shouted in response. Kira quietly ordered Lapras to draw near the ferry.

“You are just in time for us to leave, actually, trainer! The same grunt called to him. We have captured the pokéballs of the trainers onboard the S.S. Lyric! Now, it was easy, seeing as there only six trainers to overwhelm, and we had prepared for much more! So do you really believe that two more of you can take us?” At those words, Kira’s fiery eyes lit up angrily.

“Kalak, we have to help!”

“Way ahead of you,” he said coolly, sending Staravia out.

“What are you going to do?”

“Well, I’ll need your help of course. Send out Pidgeotto, and let’s fly up there!” Kalak said, still with an excited gleam in his golden eyes.

“Do you think Staravia is ready for that? Pidgeotto has practiced carrying me very short distances, but without the right HM, our weights are a bit much,” Kira said, knowing it was hopeless to argue now that his plan was already in action. The two avian Pokémon succeeded in bringing their trainers safely to the ferry, from where Kira recalled Lapras.

“You taunted the wrong trainers, and now you’re gonna pay!” Kalak warned the grunt who seemed to be in charge. Through the glass doors leading inside, Kalak could see the other trainers being held hostage. Their pokéballs were in a crate just outside the doors. One of the trainers, however, was not tied up like the others. She met Kalak’s gaze, and gave him a nod of encouragement. Before he could figure out what she was up to, several grunts formed a line to block access to the door, each one brandishing two pokéballs, making fourteen in total. Kalak and Kira battled until only one grunt, the leader, remained, and only Kakuna was knocked out in the process.

“Very, very impressive!” he said with a smirk. “But those Pokémon were weak, as were their masters! I differ from them in that I have raised my own Pokémon to be much tougher, and that is why I shall be the next of us lowly grunts to be elevated to a higher position! Administrator, maybe even Commander!  Yes, Commander Isis, it just has a ring to it, no? Well, let’s not waste any more time then so that I can get my promotion! Go, Stunky and Golbat!” His two Pokémon emerged and attacked immediately without awaiting orders. They were definitely well trained, though Kalak. Probably cruelly thought Kira. Kalak chose Absol, and Kira used Kirlia, but neither of them could land a solid attack after Stunky created a powerful smokescreen that had the added effect of smelling awful which further distracted the others. While Kalak and Kira fought, they heard a loud sound from inside, and then the sudden sound of metal groaning and glass shattering. Then, the smoke settled and something large swiped at Stunky, knocking it out instantly. The large pair of glowing eyes was soon discovered to belong to a Steelix.

“Nice work, now the Golbat!” cried a voice from inside. It was the girl who had been left free. She must have hidden at least this one pokéball somewhere on her and waited for the right moment to act. Without much help needed by Absol or Kirlia, their respective trainers withdrew them. Steelix ended the battle in no time, and its trainer, the girl, was now standing where the doors once had. “Now return the stolen Pokémon, or Steelix will send you sailing out to sea!” she threatened the grunt.

“M-My promotion! Ruined because of some passersby and a hostage…” the grunt grunted.  “Just take ‘em, they are all in the crate, honest…” he added, then, without a second thought performed a swan dive straight into the ocean, where he recalled all of the Tentacruel and let the machines simply sink. They sparked and sputtered smoke, and the energy tethers vanished. Another Tentacruel was waiting to pick up the defeated criminal. The boat’s engines started up, and immediately propelled it forward.

“That was great! You really help us out there, what’s your name!?” Kalak asked enthusiastically.

“I helped you!? You two saved everybody! I wouldn’t have been able to get an opportunity to reveal my last Pokémon without your perfect timing! I’m Alexis by the way! Who are you heroes?” The girl said. Kalak guessed that she was about 20. The other hostages, after finding their pokéballs, were now gathered near them as well.

“Oh, well I’m Kalak, from Prelude town!” He called Shinx from his ball, “And this is Shinx!”

“And I’m Kira, and this is Eevee! Pleased to meet you Alexis!”

“Yes, it’s a pleasure to meet you both! Now, what brings you two out to sea like this Kalak and Kira?” replied the girl as she twirled a finger through her light pink hair, which reached her shoulders.

“Well, we are trainers taking the league challenge, and were on our way to Keynote Harbor for our next badges!” Kira explained. She then proceeded to explain that they had to use Lapras in order to cross without the ferry. “What brings you out to sea Alexis?”

“Oh, well, I am very interested in battle strategy! I love just riding the S.S. Lyric and talking strategy with other trainers. I feel that it makes me better in battle! She explained. She then sporadically did a back-handspring and then a twirl, the look on her face being one of pure joy.

“Hey, that was cool!” Kalak commented. “So…why?” he added with a laugh.

“Dunno. Just ‘cause” replied the trainer with a giggle. Her red and black spaghetti-strap top left her midriff exposed, and it happened to catch Kalak’s eye. He examined her from black headband to red painted toes before Kira noticed, at which point he just returned her stare with a shrug.

“Whatcha lookin’ at?” Kira asked him softly but mockingly.

“Just those cargo pants. One more pocket than mine…” he remarked, proud of such a lame cover up.

“Mhmm, I’ll bet you’d like to be in those pants, am I right?” Kira said with an accusatory smirk.

“Yep! Err, uh…um, no Kira, not like…Ugh, why do you do that!?” he replied, unable to keep from laughing.

“Relax, you’re allowed to look at girls you know, but you are fun to tease” She said, rolling her eyes. During this time, the defeated Galactic grunts were being escorted by the ship’s captain and the other trainers into an unused room below deck. The captain radioed the police in the city so that they could be prepared for a transfer. Only the grunt named Isis managed to escape. It wasn’t long at all before the lights of Keynote Harbor were in sight. All the way into port, Kalak and Kira enjoyed talking with the trainers onboard. Once the ship was docked, they left, saying goodbye to everybody and wishing them luck in their travels. Alexis was below deck helping out with securing the prisoners, and never got to say goodbye, but she knew that it would not be their last encounter.

“So, to the pokécenter then?” Kira asked.

“Of course. And let’s get food too!” Kalak said, his voice competing with his stomach’s growling. They soon found themselves eating at the restaurant attached to the pokécenter, and their Pokémon, who were healed before they even finished their meal, joined them in eating. It was now fairly late, and rather than head straight for the gym as they had initially planned, the trainers stayed the night in the pokécenter’s trainer wing.  They sunk into well earned sleep after their heroics at sea, and dreamed of the next day’s battles, completely unaware of what fate had in store…

Lilac

Kalak was used to being awoken by Shinx, which was why he was confused to find that the Pokémon licking his hand in the morning was not his small blue companion. It was instead a small pink Pokémon, and he had no idea what it was doing out of its ball.

“Um, good morning Skitty! What brings you over here?” He half yawned as he petted her on the head. His talking was enough to stir Kira out of sleep too, and she looked very confused to find Skitty running towards her when she did. In fact, looking around the room revealed that Shinx, Eevee, Skitty, Kirlia and Absol were all out of their pokéballs.

“Morning Kalak, looks like our Pokémon got impatient!” she said with a laugh that turned into a big yawn. They both got out of bed and got ready for the day, eating breakfast and feeding the Pokémon. While they ate in the kitchen area, the attendant laughed as she saw what Pokémon they were with.

“Oh, so you two are the trainers with those guys! They have been up for a few hours just playing!”

“Ah, I see, sorry for the disturbance!” Kalak told her.

“Oh no, it’s ok. They didn’t cause any trouble, it was fun just watching them. They get along great!” she replied with a smile.

“Pokémon will come out on their own to play with others a lot Kalak, I remember when I first caught Kirlia as a Ralts, and Pidgeotto, a Pidgy at the time, was so curious about her! They got to know each other overnight while I missed it!” Kira added, giggling at the memory of waking up to find them passed out together from playing. The morning went on normally, and after eating, the group set off into the city. They navigated to their way to the gym, a very tall, spiraling structure with odd rod-like things sticking out all over it giving it the appearance of a giant seashell of sorts. They walked to the entrance only to discover that it was locked tight.

“What gives?” Kira wondered angrily and loudly. “It’s already 11:30, this place should be opened!”

“No sign saying it’s closed either, how strange…” Kalak muttered. Not ten seconds later, the trainers heard a yell from somewhere echo off the walls of the many buildings around them.

“I’m coooooming!” called the voice that they both recognized. Moments later, a figure appeared atop the building opposite the gym. The building must have been at least ten stories, yet the running person on top of it showed no hesitation in leaping off gracefully. Kira’s heart stopped and Kalak watched in awe, slightly more aware of what was about to happen than she was. The falling person kept their body perfectly still, arms outstretched as they sailed forward and grabbed onto one of the poles extending from the gym’s odd design. The girl allowed herself to swing all the way around once before dismounting and landing perfectly on a lower pole, off of which she back-flipped. She fell until she grabbed onto yet another pole and released from it, landing on one of many steel arches over the streets of Keynote. She then ran to the middle of the arch and flipped one last time, landing in a graceful roll on the ground right at the feet of the trainers, one of which had a broad smile and the other appearing as though she had just witnessed murder. “Ok, here I am!” said Alexis, panting a little and blushing when she saw such reactions.

“You…just…are you…what are you trying to do kill yourself!?” Kira cried out, less concerned with the fact that her new friend had suddenly appeared.

“Kira, she’s a tracuer!” Kalak spoke up.

“A…what?”

“It means she does parkour, you know, like me?” he explained. “And quite well!” he added, once more catching himself checking out her outfit.

“Yep, he’s got it. It’s what I do in my free time when I’m not on the boat! This city is so great for it! Oh, and sorry for not being here, I slept in a little after last night’s ordeal, tehe!” Alexis said as she twirled around and then skipped to the doors of the gym.

“So wait…you are…” Kalak began.

“The gym leader!” Kira finished for him.

“Hehe, yes! Welcome to Seaside Stadium! I hope you guys are ready, because after rushing to get here, I’m pumped!” Alexis responded, opening the doors and doing several handsprings inside.

“Energetic one, eh?” Kalak said with a huge grin. Kira simply nodded and smiled. She was just getting over her shock and let herself relax before the battle. Once inside, they noticed that the building had multiple floors with different purposes. There were staircases that spiraled along the walls and each floor was made of glass or some other transparent material.

“The ground floor, as you can see by the markings, is for league battles!” Alexis said as she approached her new friends. “Then there is the first floor for training, and the upper floor which leads outside to an observation balcony with a great view of the sea!” she finished. “But you are only interested in one thing, aren’t you?” she said with a smirk.

“That’s right!” Kalak replied. “I’ll go first if that’s ok with you Kira, you still seem shaken up,” he laughed.

“Heh, shaken indeed! Go ahead! By the time you finish, I’ll be ready to win!” she said cooly.

“Alright! Ok then, Kalak, take your position!” Alexis told him as she cartwheeled to her spot on the battlefield.

“Heh, two can play at that game,” Said Kalak as he quickly broke into a run and did several front handsprings ending with a flip right into his spot.

“Ooh, pretty!” the gym leader giggled. “But this isn’t a gymnastics contest! Let’s get it goin!” And with that she revealed her first Pokémon, a Scizor.

“Ok, you can handle this one!” Kalak said as he sent out Cyndaquil. “You’ve battled a Scizor before, remember how fast they are!” he warned his small companion, who grunted its name in acknowledgement. As if his warning were a cue, the gleaming red Pokémon took off straight towards its opponent. Cyndaquil rolled to the side, sending an ember attack backwards but missing as Scizor circled back around and connected with a solid tackle that sent Cyndaquil rolling. The small Pokémon slowly stood up, shook off the pain, and charged up a jet of flames on his back. Then rushing forward, he leaped high into the air and rained down fireballs in multiple directions, several hitting Scizor and dealing a good bit of damage. “That was fantastic Cyndaquil, you’ve got this!” Kalak called proudly.

“Ooh, you aren’t gonna take that are you Scizor? Show that little rodent what you are made of!” Alexis said, trying to urge her wounded partner not to give up. The attacks had left it with a burn and it was taking a toll. It was enough of a toll to allow for Cyndaquil to claim victory after one more round of being hit with a fury swipes attack and retorting with ember. “Ok, nice one, but you won’t be so lucky again!” Alexis said as she switched her unconscious Scizor for a familiar face, her Steelix. Kalak wasn’t surprised when one hit from iron tail finished off Cyndaquil.

“It’s ok bud, you did good in there!” Kalak said. He was actually feeling nervous however now that his fire type was out of the mix. “Ok, go Shinx! Let’s win this one with speed!” he called. Shinx dashed quickly at Steelix, anticipating a swipe from its enormous tail and jumping it with ease. This round went slowly, as neither Pokémon had much of an advantage over the other. Eventually, Shinx wore down the mighty steel type and brought it down with electricity. It’s crackling body vanished into the crimson beam of a pokéball and a second flash revealed another large Pokémon, an Aggron. “Hmm, Shinx, you sit this one out. Good job out there, but now it’s time to think of a better strategy. I choose Absol!” This battle once more came down to Absol relying on blinding speed to overcome his foe. Aggron managed to land several hits, but went down in the end. Next up was Skarmory and once more, Shinx. The round ended shortly after Skarmory was hit by a thunderbolt.

“You have quite an impressive team Kalak, but you had better be ready for this next Pokémon. You may share a special bond with Shinx, but is it strong enough to defeat her?” Alexis taunted as she sent out a Mawile.

“Sure is! Shinx, use charge!” and at that command, Shinx flexed his paws and his fur began to glow electrically. Mawile was running straight at Shinx and just as she got close, Kalak snapped his fingers, a sign for Shinx to let lose a Shockwave attack. It knocked Mawile over, but she quickly recovered and tried again, this time landing a few solid hits. Shinx was still just fine however as he used another thunderbolt attack which struck right on the top of Mawile’s head, stunning her. One more tackle, and she was finished. Shinx stood the proud victor, and Kira clapped and cheered for Kalak.

“Alright Kalak awesome!” She called out as she hugged him. Alexis looked stunned for a moment, then she walked over to her fallen partner.

“Good try girl, next time, ok?” she said as she patted Mawile and returned her to her ball. “Well Kalak, I guess I’m not totally surprised after seeing how you battled on the boat! So here ya go!” She said, tossing a small object through the air in an arch. Kalak caught the badge and felt it’s smoothness once with his thumb before placing it in his case. “That’s a shimmer badge, and it means a little something special you know!”

“Really?” Kira and Kalak said in unison.

“Yup! When you get your fifth gym badge, it means you are permitted access to the first floor of the Trainer’s Guild in Trill City!” The leader said with her usual upbeat giggle at the end.

“Trainer’s Guild? Never heard of it…What is it?” Kira wondered, her eyes sparkling at the cool idea.

“Oh, it is well known amongst trainers, but only those who have come this far! It’s a secret, and my job is to inform trainers of its existence! I can’t tell you any more yet though because you still have a badge to earn Kira! What do you say we reconvene here in an hour?”

“Hehe, sound good! Let’s get a move on Kalak, the pokécenter awaits. Are you coming too Alexis?”

“Oh, well most gyms have a built in pokécenter actually, not like the normal kind with food and shelter, but they can heal Pokémon. As a matter of fact, that is another fifth badge secret!” Alexis squealed excitedly. Kalak half expected her to do another backflip or something.

“Oh, well then I guess…lead the way! Kalak said, and Alexis took him to a room on the upper floor. She returned without him and approached Kira, who was waiting patiently while admiring the beauty of the steel structure around her.

“Hey, wanna see something cool? She asked. Kira nodded enthusiastically, waiting for another big surprise. “Ok!” Alexis said as she ran back up the stairs giggling. She threw a switch that closed the few windows in the building, making it very dark. Not a second later, the darkness was parted by brilliant spotlights of all colors on the battlefield. They moved in a circle and Kira watched as the gym leader, who seemed much more like a whimsical little girl than anything, sent out her Steelix, who felt much better from its fight with Shinx. The multicolored lighting glinted off the metallic snake’s body in all directions like a mirror ball as it slithered around and seemed to dance with its trainer.

“That’s so pretty Alexis!” said Kira as she stepped back to admire the pair’s playing. They spent a while conversing about the boat ride, Kira being terrified for Alexis’ sake when she jumped, and most of all, Kalak.

“Hehe, I think he has a crush Kira!” said the now giddy pink haired girl.

“Hah, I think you are right. The way he looks at you is kinda hilarious, not offense or anything, I mean you are beautiful…” Kira began.

“No silly, that isn’t what I mean! Haven’t you noticed the way he is with you, how he protects you, and stands close to you all the time and stuff?” At this thought, Kira blushed a little, and wondered what might have happened had they ever gotten to their kiss in the woods.

“He is just a really close friend I guess, we have known each other since we were little…” Kira remarked absentmindedly.

“Talking about me behind my back?” Kalak called as he walked down the stairs with Shinx right at his heels. He laughed when he saw Kira blush even deeper and Alexis joined in. “Don’t worry, I don’t eavesdrop, I just heard my name,” he assured them. After that, he and Kira left for some lunch while Alexis prepared her Pokémon to battle Kira. They sat down in a little café and ordered a small meal so that they could get back to the gym in time. “So, what were you guys saying about me?” Kalak asked his partner, doing his best to impersonate a cop performing an interrogation. He failed as soon as he couldn’t resist cracking a smile at Kira’s hesitation. “Ah, never mind. You ready for your battle?” he said, just looking to make her more comfortable.

“Sure am! You did great, but you didn’t always have the type advantage…I think Lapras should see me through pretty well…you didn’t even use Sandshrew! I got nervous for a bit, I thought you panicked,” she replied with a smirk.

“Oh, Sandshrew…that would have worked, huh…” said Kalak, remembering now that Kira had more years of experience behind her. They discussed battle strategies while they quickly ate and rushed back to the gym (and along the way, Kalak found that Alexis had been right about the city being great for doing parkour). They entered the gym and found Alexis already in her spot, sitting on the ground cross-legged and rocking back and forth like an impatient child.

“Alright! Finally, let’s do this!” she said, jumping to her feet at their arrival. Kira ran excitedly to her place opposite Alexis and the two squared off. “Ready?” the gym leader said with a grin.

“When you are,” Kira said, clutching a pokéball. Alexis once more started with Scizor, and Kira was glad she had not chosen Lapras first. She sent out Pidgeotto. Both Pokémon flew in a circle, eyeing the other up intently and rather than striking, they both awaited orders. “Tackle!” Kira called, and her partner swiftly switched directions and began glowing with attack energy. It was a dead on hit, and Scizor fell to the ground in surprise. Definitely a critical hit. It retaliated by shooting out energy balls in various directions, but failed to hit. Pidgeotto flew up to gain momentum for another head on attack, but Kira ordered him to use whirlwind, an attack which ended the first round. She was feeling confident in Pidgeotto, and left him out for round two to battle Skarmory. Skarmory turned out to be too fast however, overwhelming and defeating its opponent. “Ok, it’s alright, Lapras is gonna kick some butt now!” Kira thought to herself as she recalled her fallen avian Pokémon. She sent out Lapras and immediately, Alexis changed tactics. She sent out Steelix to take on the ice type. Kira wasn’t worried, but Alexis had something up her sleeve. “Use aurora beam girl!”

“Steelix, use rapid spin!”

“It knows rapid spin? What’s that gonna do?” Kalak asked out loud. Kira was too concerned with what was about to happen to answer him. Steelix was twisting it’s body superfast and seemed to draw the attack around itself, drilling the energy into the ground and dispersing it. Before Lapras had time to react, Steelix hit her with a powerful body slam. Too stunned to respond, she was finished off with and iron tail.

“Nooo! Lapras…return…” Kira cried. She sent out Eevee, who lasted a bit longer than Lapras, but was ultimately defeated. Kirlia managed to beat Steelix with a combination of teleporting and using confusion, but Skarmory’s supersonic left her too confused to win. With each defeat, Kira grew angrier and less patient. She was now down to her last Pokémon, Skitty. Her moves were not good enough to stand up to the metal bird, and the battle ended there. Angry tears welled up in Kira’s fiery eyes and Kalak tried to console her with a pat on the back. “I don’t need pity!” she cried, moving his hand gently but angrily away.

“I’m sorry Kira…”Alexis said, offering her more consolation. “I wasn’t unfair right?”

“It wasn’t you. It was my stupid mistake. I should’ve had a strategy that didn’t revolve around one Pokémon…” Kira said, unable to hold back tears.

“Kira, you can challenge again tomorrow, you just need to rethink-

“No Kalak, that doesn’t matter! I have been out here for four years longer than you and now you have a badge that I failed to acquire! This shouldn’t be happening!” She yelled, recalling Skitty and running outside to the pokécenter.

“Kira…”

“Kalak, she will be ok. She didn’t mean what she said, that battle frustrated her. I didn’t want to beat her once I saw what it was doing to her, but letting her win would be failing my duties to the league. Don’t worry too much ok?” Alexis was now comforting Kalak with an arm around him. He was silent as he thought about what Kira had said, and Shinx rubbed his friend’s leg and whined sympathetically. At the pokécenter, Kira was restoring her friends to health. After she was finished there, she and Eevee wandered into the large indoor garden encased in a huge glass dome that was a few blocks away. The whole way, Kira was glaring angrily ahead while her mind  raced, and Eevee walked silently and felt as though she had disappointed her best friend.

“Eevee…I’m not upset at you…or Kalak. Or even Alexis or Steelix. I’m just disappointed in myself. I failed you and the rest of the team!” Eevee nuzzled her leg and barked. She wanted to tell Kira that it was ok and that it changed nothing. There were so many times that Eevee wished she could speak the language of the humans. She often spoke with Shinx about his relationship with Kalak. Kalak was extremely perceptive, often times enough to perfectly understand Shinx. Eevee felt as though Kira didn’t understand how much she loved her sometimes. They spent some time cooling off in the garden while Kalak and his Pokémon explored the city. He was past Kira’s comment now and just wanted to relax.

“Shinx look, a gift shop. Wanna take a look?” he asked. Shinx barked his approval and the two entered. It was quiet inside compared to the bustle of the city and the sounds of docking ships. There was only one other customer at the counter who seemed distressed about something. She thanked the cashier for her patience and left, and the cashier looked up to greet Kalak.

“Hello, and welcome! Are you looking…l-looking for anything special?” She asked in a shy voice. She had noticed him come in, but hadn’t looked directly at him until now, and her pale cheeks were now a bright red. She played with her hair and brushed it away from her eye, revealing her freckles and blue eyes.

“Oh, not really, thanks. We are just browsing,” He said, gesturing to Shinx who nodded and made a friendly sound at the girl.

“You…you’re the one who is on the TV right? Kalak?” said the girl in a hushed and quivering tone. Kalak nodded and approached the counter.

“Yeah, that’s me, haha. I guess the news is still spreading…what are they saying now?”

“Well I heard that you and Kira teamed up with Alexis and took out a bunch of Galactics! But I’d expect no less from you guys! Everywhere you go, those villains keep getting the boot!” the girl said. She sounded like a dedicated fan of theirs or something, Kalak thought. After a few more minutes learning the new updates in the media from this girl, Kalak left with a clearer head than before. Outside, he saw the same girl that had been in the store when he entered. She seemed to be distressed over something. She was pacing in circles and muttering to herself.

“Hey, hey you!” Kalak called to her. “Are you alright?” The girl whirled her head around and her eyes lit up when she saw the pokéballs on Kalak’s belt.

“Oh thank goodness! You’re a Pokémon trainer, right?” said the girl in an extremely sweet voice that sounded quite happy despite her distressed expression.

“I sure am, is there anything you need assistance with?” said Kalak, trying to sound authoritative.

“Well…it’s embarrassing…” began the now blushing girl as she nervously tugged her clothing. “You see…my sisters and I just moved to Trill City from Celadon City in Kanto. I came out here because I wanted to purchase one of Keynote’s famous crystal flutes, but not one shop in town, even the music store, had one. That gift shop was my last hope, and this is where the embarrassing part comes in. I came here by taking the cave path from Serenade City…but…I didn’t think it would be so full of scary Pokémon! And now…” she stopped and put her hands on her face as she groaned in embarrassment.

“Are you…afraid to go back through the way you came?” Kalak asked softly. The girl looked at him, still blushing but smiling shyly and nodded, her hands clasped in front of her. “Hah, well, you have nothing to worry about then! I can escort you home if you’d like, I’ll just have to tell-

“Oh, thank you so much!” The girl shouted, leaping on him and hugging him tightly.

“Urk…no problem,” he squeaked, trying his best to maintain his breathing. Just as the excited girl was letting go, she stumbled over her own feet. As she twisted and fell, Kalak stuck out his leg to brace himself as he caught her. She was shocked beyond words as she lay in his arms staring up at an amber sky. She barely managed to mouth the words thank and you before she heard an unfamiliar voice call out with a hint of laughter in it.

“Well well, you two gonna get a room?” giggled Kira as she, Eevee, and Shinx (who had run to greet them) approached the two. Kalak gently lifted the girl back to her feet and couldn’t help but blush as he tried to think of how to begin explaining himself. He was surprised when the shy girl began to laugh.

“Nope, hehe, he was just offering me some help. And then he caught me!” she said in her carefree way. “Are you a friend?” she asked. Kira and Kalak were both surprised, but pleased at her friendliness.

“Yes I am, my name is Kira. And who might you be?”

“My name is Lilac!” she said cheerily. “And what about you?” she asked, turning to face her mysterious savior.

“Oh, right! My name’s Kalak, are you ok Lilac?” he asked. As he said her name, something hit him. Her long hair, which reached her lower back, her eyes which had sparkled in the setting sunlight as he caught her, and even her skirt were all lilac in color.

“Oh, yes, I’m fine Kalak, thanks!” she said as she finally stopped giggling. As if she had read his mind, she said “As you can see, I was named because of my eyes and hair. And it’s my favorite color!”

“Well it’s certainly pretty! “ Kira commented. “Coincidentally, my favorite color is red!” she said as she swished her long ponytail. The trio talked for a while and both Kira and Kalak took quite a liking to their sweet and energetic new friend.

“So, Kira, Lilac and I were discussing the possibility of me escorting her to Trill City,” began Kalak. He explained the situation and asked if it would be ok for him to leave for a day.

“Well Kalak, it’s already late. Lilac, would you mind staying with us for the night? Then we can all go!” she said, thoughts of home suddenly filling her mind. “Besides…I kind of have something I wanted to ask you Lilac…”

“Sure, what is it?”

“W-Well, I am going to re-challenge the gym in just a little bit. Would you come with me? I don’t want to distract Kalak from training, but I don’t feel like going alone,” she asked timidly.

“That sounds fun! I’ve never been to a Pokémon gym before!” she replied, and both trainers’ eyes lit up excitedly. A few minutes later, the group split up, Lilac and Kira heading for Seaside Stadium and Kalak taking his team to the docks to look for trainers to battle. As Kira walked in silence with her new friend, she realized that this was the first time she had ever been nervous to challenge a gym. When they arrived, it once more seemed deserted. It was pitch black inside and it was very quiet, but the doors weren’t locked this time. The pair entered cautiously, making sure not to trip over themselves. Suddenly, the colored spotlights turned on with a slamming noise and found them right in the middle of the battle field.

“Are you ready Kira?” Echoed Alexis’ voice from the next floor. “I figured you’d like this atmosphere better, am I right? Tehe,”

“Looks awesome! Let’s do it!” Kira replied, her eyes sparkling in many colors with determination. Lilac looked on in awe as Alexis sent out her sparkling Steelix and Kira gave Eevee a nod. She couldn’t believe that Kira would put such a small and harmless looking Pokémon up against the metallic monster. As the mirror-like snake moved in to attack, Eevee nimbly leaped on top of it and around it, energy storing in her small body. She used the move return, landing one hit after another, and Steelix soon hit the floor with a resounding thud.

“Hmm, nice going Kira, but can you keep it up?” Alexis said with an excited smirk. Even though she was rooting for her opponent, she would continue to do anything she could to win. Lilac began to quiver excitedly from the electric atmosphere on the battlefield. The next round was Skarmory against Kirlia. The graceful psychic type continuously evaded attacks with teleport and struck back with confusion whenever she had the chance. After only landing a few hits, Skarmory was down.

“Alright Kira! Keep it up!” Lilac called excitedly. The other trainers who were practicing upstairs stopped their battles to watch through the transparent floor the intense fight below. Kira remained silent, recalling Kirlia and replacing her with Lapras to take on Aggron. Alexis told her partner to use flash cannon, which hit Lapras hard. After taking a moment to recover, she responded with surf, drawing from deep within and launching forward on a wave of water energy. Her temporarily increased sized also added to the impact, and Aggron was barely left standing. One water gun attack was enough to topple the disoriented foe. Lapras also handled Scizor with ease, her ice beam incapacitating it in one hit.

“Great job Lapras, return!” Kira called. She exchanged a look with Alexis, who was tightly gripping her last pokéball. “You’re up again Eevee,” She said calmly. Eevee stepped confidently forward, and was illuminated in the red glow of an emerging Mawile. The Pokémon squared off and awaited orders, Mawile striking first with flash cannon. Eevee’s mirror coat absorbed all of the attack’s force and sent it hurtling back at its source.

“Hurry and use mirror coat Mawile!” called Alexis. Mawile quickly became enveloped in white light just as Eevee had and absorbed the bolt of energy, returning it with twice the force. Eevee didn’t have to await for an order to know what to do next. Both Pokémon continued to use mirror coat as the increasingly strong energy ball rocketed back and forth between them. Everybody watching knew that whoever dropped their guard first would be defeated.

“Alexis, that was a clever move…but can you keep it up?” taunted Kira.

“As long as you can!” The leader shot back. “So which of our Pokémon has a greater will?”

“Time to see! Eevee. iron tail!” cried Kira loudly. Before anybody could process it, Eevee drew in energy as if she had been awaiting this moment from the start. When the powerful energy ball drew near her, she batted it away with a well-timed attack that nearly tripled its speed. It was like slow motion to everybody. First, Mawile’s face went blank as she realized her imminent defeat. Then the attack hit her with dead accuracy, sending her back into the wall and she crashed through it. Alexis had grabbed Mawile’s pokéball and quickly depressed the button to save her from being too hurt. Then there was silence as Eevee stood alone in the middle of the floor in the colorful spotlights. Lastly came the roar of applause from on-looking trainers and observers that had gathered outside, Kalak among them. He pushed past the crowd and ran to get to Kira’s side. He and Lilac congratulated her and Alexis, just as peppy as usual cartwheeled her way over to them.

“That was very impressive Kira, and very pretty too! The way the lights reflected off the gyro ball really made the battle!” She said cheerily as she handed something to Kira. “You more than earned it this time!” Kira palmed the badge and clutched it tightly. She suddenly realized that she had never apologized to Kalak. She spun around and hugged him tightly.

“Haha, congratulations again Kira, that was such a cool tactic you-

“Kalak I’m sorry!” she interrupted. “You know I didn’t mean that about me being a better trainer and deserving the badge more than you right? It’s not true and I should have never said anything, I just got upset…”

“Of course Kira, I forgave you as soon as you left. I understand how you were feeling, I could kinda of feel the jealousy…” he said softly, not letting go of the hug. What was left of the crowd was beginning to circle around them as they recognized the duet. Lilac was suddenly confused when she heard the chatter, but decided to save the questioning for later. She had a victory to celebrate for her new best friend.

Three of a Kindred!

Once the crowd had died down, Kira, Kalak, Lilac and Alexis were left alone in the gym, save for some other trainers who continued to train upstairs. They hung around together for a while just for company’s sake, but it was soon nearing midnight, and the gym would be closing then. Alexis had to go to close things up, and she wished her new friends the best of luck for the future and insisted that they meet again, teasing with some threats should they forget to visit.

“Bye Alexis, and thanks again for your help last night!” said Kalak, the last one out the door. As it closed behind him, he could visualize her doing all sorts of gymnastic stunts just to clean. He heard a dull thud behind him and could tell that she had sent Steelix out to keep her company. “Ariel and Alexis are both so sweet and nice!” he commented. Kira shot him a glance with a raised eyebrow and chuckled.

“Yep, the two female gym leaders you have battled that didn’t end up in jail…I wonder why you like them…” she said sarcastically.

“Hey, I liked Ratheus too you know, and Pymar and Ragmus were pretty cool…besides, Verda was cute too, she just…you know…and speaking of Pymar, I believe you fell head over heels for him!” retorted Kalak. Kira was speechless, partially because she had no counter argument, and partially because he had just complimented Verda. Lilac remained silent as they bickered on the way to the pokécenter. Once they got there however, they both tried to be less exclusive towards their new friend.

“Lilac, do you have any gym badges?” Kira asked.

“Oh, no, I simply could never do it!” the shy girl almost whispered.

“Besides, she said she’d never been to a gym, remember?” said Kalak, still partially in argument mode.

“I thought maybe she just meant in Kanto, sheesh!” said Kira, playing up her response with a fake exasperated sigh. Lilac giggled at her overly dramatic gesture that went with it. “Well I’ll bet that you could do it! You just need to train your Pokémon!”

“Um…that’s just it though Kira…” Lilac began, her face slowly turning red. “I’m…s-scared of traveling with Pokémon!” She looked down in shame, sure to be assaulted with criticism.

“Really? That’s just the way I used to be!” Kalak said as he flashed the nearly full row of pokéballs at his belt. Lilac snapped up her head and stared straight at him.

“You were afraid of Pokémon?! But…you are a trainer and all…so…how did you ever do it?”

“Well, I guess I used to be afraid of making friends in general really…” he began. “But that all changed after I met Kira and Eevee! I became a little less shy and warmed up to them over time, and even after she left town, I think that warmth in me grew until I had the courage to make friends! Then when I met Shinxy here, there was no looking back! Now I’m-

“Wait! You guys…didn’t leave town together!?” Lilac asked, dumbfounded and wide-eyed. “But I thought you have been together like, forever!”

“Well we have, but Kira left town four years ago…and I just began months ago!” Kalak explained.

“That’s right, but Kal here is no rookie!” Kira began. “He has some real talent in him and it shows! He and I both have five badges now!” she said. She then remembered that she hadn’t fastened her new shimmer badge onto her bag yet. She removed it from the front compartment and as she fiddled with it, Kalak told Lilac more about his experiences since leaving Prelude town.

“Oh my, so…you haven’t been back home yet have you?” she asked him.

“Nope, so once we get you back home safely, I think we are going to check in, right Kira?”

“That’s right! It’ll be so nice to see everyone again too!” She said, smiling big. They bantered a while longer in the pokécenter lobby as they waited for Kira’s Pokémon, and then they got some food and went up to get some rest for their long hike the next day. Long after Kira and Kalak were fast asleep, Lilac sat up in her bed, unable to sleep. She thought about going back home to Trill City and saying goodbye to her new friends as they went to see their families and then onward to new and exciting adventures. She had only just met them, but she didn’t want to say goodbye. Her sisters were the only people in Harmone who she really knew, and she could use some friends. They were also the only people who didn’t think she was a freak for fearing Pokémon.

“Lilac, there is just no way…Kalak has such a strong will, he got over his fears…but…but you couldn’t! That’s why mom sent us here in the first place, to get away from Kanto’s aggressive Pokémon League…” She finally fell into a dream about Kanto with these thought in her head and it seemed like no time at all before she was awakened by the alarm clock Kira had set. They wanted to make sure they got a fairly early start. After breakfast, they double checked their equipment and headed out of Keynote.

“So Lilac, you live with your sisters?” Kira asked once they had all shaken off sleep completely. They were all kind of surprised to have auto-piloted themselves all the way to the main route towards Serenade City.

“Yes, we moved here because, well…” She stopped and looked down for a moment. “I was too afraid of Pokémon to travel with them like my older sister, and there was so much pressure in Kanto to be a part of the league so when my sister wanted to move here, my mother thought it would be best for all three of us to come. She’s ok though, because dad takes great care of her! And we still write often, but it is hard not being able to talk all the time…Harmone sure is behind in communication!”

“Wow, that’s pretty cool!” Kalak commented. “Yeah, I have heard all about some of the cellphones and communicators and stuff in other parts of the world…My father says that due to the efficiency of letters in Harmone and our focus on other kinds of technology, we never really had a need to have devices like that!”

“Yeah, Big Sis’s Pidgeot is soooo fast when it comes to delivering our mail to mom and dad! He’s one of the only Pokémon I’m friends with…dad used to tell me if I got brave enough I could visit by riding him! But he was only kidding, he knew I was too scared…but his sense of humor has always been funny like that,” Lilac said as she reminisced.

“Hm, your dad seems like a great guy…” Kira said. “Better than my father…”

“Oh, don’t say that! You dad is just right for you just like mine is-

“Lilac…” Kalak interrupted, “It’s…not really a good subject,” he said.

“Oh! Oh gosh, I’m so sorry Kira I didn’t know…I…” Lilac trailed off, and she was now nervous and upset with herself for being so stupid.

“No Lilac, it’s not as bad as you think, it’s just that he isn’t around anymore, he left home to adventure again and my mother and I haven’t heard a word from him since…” Kira stopped there, thinking about what Kinrad had told them in the desert.

“Oh, I’m sorry…you have your mother though! And Kalak!” Lilac replied as cheerily as she could.

“Of course! And all of my other friends!” Kira said just as cheerily, flashing her pokéballs. Eevee also barked happily in response. “And I couldn’t be more grateful to have them,”

“Yeah, I’m not sure what I’d do without my Pokémon!” Kalak added, leaning over to pet Shinx who purred and licked his hand in response.

“I see…” Lilac responded softly but with a smile. “Ooh! Look!” she said excitedly as she pointed towards a sign. It was in front of the beginning of a rocky part of the path and read “To Serenade City by way of Echo Cavern South”. There were dense trees all around forming an effective end of the current path.

“Wow, that only took like, two hours!” Kira said as she looked at her pokédex. “So, in we go, eh?” she suggested.

“Yeah, let’s do it! Lilac, we’re going to have you home in no time!” Kalak remarked as he gestured for her to go in after Kira so that he could be the last in the procession. Lilac nodded and silently trailed Kira. She flinched a little bit when Eevee curiously approached her, but managed to keep calm.

“H-Hi there Eevee…I’m pretty sure you must be the cutest Eevee I have ever seen!” she said nervously. Eevee just looked up at her and gave an approving yip before returning to her trainer’s side.

“Lilac, you don’t have to be afraid of our Pokémon, they are well trained, so they won’t hurt you at all,” Kalak told the shy girl.

“I know, it’s just…every time I get close to a Pokémon, I feel like I want to befriend it, but it doesn’t want me too…”

“That’s probably just the Pokémon trying to not show you any fear, and you are backing down! Most Pokémon are curious about people, but they stay on their guard as well,” Kira explained.

“Oh…well…maybe I-

“Zubat!” Kalak called, interrupting Lilac. Shinx and Eevee were already on the move to defend the group from the flock of Zubat that were on the move. Much to the trainers’ surprise, they flew right past them and out of the cave mouth. “Huh…that was odd…” he thought aloud.

“Kalak, I think there might be something bigger in here that frightened the Zubat, be careful. It is a very welcoming place for rock and ground types, so maybe you should use someone other than Shinx for now,” Kira warned him. Lilac remained silent, quite freaked out by the swarm of Zubat. As Kalak sent out Absol, the flash from his pokéball glinted off of something, catching his eye.

“Kira! Stop! Look over there, there is our something else!” He warned as he pointed just ahead of her. As if on cue, a pair of Sableye revealed themselves to the group and began to move much too close for comfort. “Absol, stop them!”

“Eevee help!” Kira shrieked. They were headed straight for her for reasons she did not want to find out. The speedy Absol was between her and the attackers before she finished speaking, and Eevee was instantly at his side. The Sableye were being more cautious now, as they slowly crouched into more feral positions and seemed to hiss. Eevee moved first, the familiar energy of quick attack surrounding her. Absol then used crunch on the other Sableye. Both Pokémon landed their attacks, and the Sableye retorted with fury swipes and head-butt, dealing a bit of damage themselves. With one more round of attacks, Eevee using return and Absol using crunch, the Sableye were finished. Before the trainers and Lilac could celebrate however, two red beams surrounded the fainted Pokémon and returned them to their pokéballs.

“What!? Those were a trainer’s!? Kalak shouted in surprise. They began to run in the direction of the light’s origin, but heard another set of footfalls fleeing from their approach. “Hey there! Stop! What’s your problem!” Kalak called after them.

“Your Pokémon almost attacked me!” Kira added. It was no use. The mystery person had gotten a significant head start and was soon out of even Kalak’s earshot. “Dirty fighter…” Kira spat. Lilac had been silent the whole time.

“You guys are pretty good at battles, it’s kind of fun to watch, even if it was a little scary just then!” she spoke up.

“Oh, thank you!” the trainers responded almost in unison. After a long walk through the cave, the group could finally see daylight. They had passed through this southern branch of Echo Cavern in an hour and a half, and were now faced with another wooded path that would lead to Serenade City. There was a direct route out of Keynote that lead to Trill City; however most people in Harmone knew not to travel that way without having Pokémon capable of using stregnth, as large boulders constantly rolled down the mountain and into the valley path.

“Almost there now everyone!” Kira said as she stepped into the sun. Everybody’s eyes were still adjusting to the light when a sudden cry of “Get’em now!” startled them. The two Sableye from before leaped from either side of the path and began to attack all over again. Shinx and Eevee met them half way with their own attacks and once more knocked them out.

“That’s it! Show yourself you lousy coward!” Lilac shouted to everyone’s surprise. Just then, a man in a dark brown outfit leaped from the woods and tried to run past them and back into the cave after recalling his fallen Pokémon. He wore a dark mask as well, and his appearance was clearly designed to hide him well in the dimly lit cave. Before he could make it inside, Kalak tackled him to the ground, and the man was surprised at his strength as he was held down.

“Who are you!?” Kalak growled.

“None of your damn business!” spoke the man in a tone that was much more fearful than when he was ordering Pokémon from the shadows. Unsatisfied with that answer, Kalak pulled off the man’s mask. He had thick black hair and an even thicker beard. He winced, as though expecting to be hit. “Ok, look, my name’s Alex, I’m in training for Team Galactic!” he blurted out. Kalak sighed.

“Alex…you don’t wanna go down that path. You should have stuck to being a trainer, but I’m going to have to report you to the authorities now,”

“No way! Taken down by some blue-haired brat and imprisoned on day one of training? Not happening!” Alex said, sneering. He pressed the button on another pokéball at his waist and out came another Sableye.

“Not another one…” Kira groaned as Eevee and Shinx double teamed it. Kalak checked to be sure that Alex had no more pokéballs before getting off of him. “Kalak what are you doing!?” Kira asked, wide-eyed.

“Alex can be a good trainer. Am I right Alex?” he began. Alex silently stared at the ground in shame. “His eyes are pure and his intentions are misplaced. He just wants to get somewhere. Well Alex? If I let you go will you be causing any more trouble? I know from the empty balls on your belt that you did not steal those Sableye, so you clearly have enough skill,” Kalak said with an expectant stare like a father gives a son after a lecture.

“I’m sorry you three…Just promise not to mention what happened, you are my first victims ever I swear, and the last as well!” Alex pleaded frantically before running off.

“Kalak are you crazy!?” Kira yelled, punching him in the arm. “He is getting away!”

“Guys, he didn’t have it in him to be a criminal. I could see it plainly in his eyes. He loved his Pokémon and when ours defeated it he felt sorry for the poor thing. I believe that he will make a good, cunning trainer,” finished Kalak, and Shinx seemed to agree with a bark.

“I…Kalak…that was pretty noble, actually. Not vengeful or anything…” Lilac remarked, amazed. After that short interruption, it was less than an hour before they arrived at Serenade City once more. The walk had consisted of Lilac pointing out the pretty sights, Kira admiring them with her, and Kalak being silent as he thought about Alex. He was beginning to see that Team Galactic would be growing exponentially in the coming years, and he hated the very thought of it. Shinx, always attuned to his trainer’s feelings, walked close by his feet in a gesture of understanding and support, for which Kalak was grateful and happy. The Serenade City entrance was identical to the others, boasting a typical arch for an entryway and a large building for renting watercraft. This time, however, the group decided to ride on the back of Lapras, who lazily drifted along the canals until they had reached the heart of the watery city, Serenade Park.

“Why are we stopping here I didn’t pack a bathing suit…” Lilac said shyly.

“We just want to visit a friend of ours, don’t worry Lilac. You won’t get wet,” Kira said with an easy smile. They walked into the water park/gym without Lapras, as she was perfectly comfortable drifting in the cool waters which originated from the waterfall. Ratheus saw them coming from a bit away, and greeted them with a shout of “Welcome back you guys!” as he approached.

“Hi there Ratheus, how have you been?” Kalak said, shaking the gym leader’s hand.

“I’ve been wonderful, especially hearing all about you on the news!” he replied with a wide grin. “The two of…er…three of you? Who might this be?” he said as he glanced at the newest party member.

“Oh, of course! Ratheus, this is Lilac, and Lilac, this is Ratheus, the leader of this gym!” Kira said quickly.

“Oh my! Pleased to meet you! You must be tough!” the girl said enthusiastically.

“Haha, that may be true Lilac, but I’m only the first in line…and come to think of it I haven’t seen you come through here yet have I? When will we have the pleasure of competing?” Ratheus responded. Lilac blushed and explained that she was not a trainer once more, and then the conversation dissolved into Ratheus praising Kira and Kalak for their progress and deeds since they had last left the city of water. The trainers then explained how they were escorting Lilac and visiting home before going onward in their league challenge, and Lilac’s eyes lit up as they spoke of their ambitions. She truly admired the tenacity of her companions, and also of her older sister.

“Well, it sure was nice talking to you again, we will stop by again sometime!” Kalak said as they departed for the exit once more. They mounted Lapras and sailed the streets to the main entrance, and headed south. Lilac initially suggested that they simply ride Lapras all the way down the creek to Trill City, however Kira was hesitant due to her history, and quickly told her the tale. To break the tension she had created however, Kira then decided that they should introduce all of their Pokémon to Lilac before they parted ways. As introductions went around, they continued to walk until the sounds of a busy city welcomed them to Trill.

“Here we are Lilac, home sweet home,” Kira said, sadness apparent in her voice. As much as she was glad to have helped, she hated to see Lilac leave. Kalak said nothing, as he felt the same. “Lead the way!”

“Alright you two, I will…but first…I want to ask you both a serious question, ok?” she said, a sudden unusual tension in her voice. “Lilac, don’t give up on yourself here, you need to be strong!” she though with a sigh and a deep breath. “I have seriously enjoyed spending time with the both of you and, much to my own surprise, your Pokémon as well! I was hoping that, provided it isn’t too much of a big problem…could I maybe…come along with you to see Harmone!?” blurted out the now shaking girl. She was more nervous than she had expected to be. Kalak looked at Kira, and she looked back, smiles spanning both of their faces and simultaneous nods indicative of their mutual joy at the proposition.

“Lilac, we would love for you to come!” Kira said, embracing her friend, who was now shaking with joy rather than nerves.

“Like she said, that would be awesome!” Kalak told her.

“I…I c-can’t thank you both enough for helping me, and even less so for allowing me to come! I’m sorry that we had to come all this way still, just for me to come with you anyways…” Lilac said, laughing nervously. She was just beginning to see the potential hassle that she had just needlessly caused.

“But Lilac, this trip has brought us together! Besides, we can all see our families now, not to mention the fact that Trill City is the gateway to our next destination anyhow,” Kira assured her, referring to the fact that Trill’s eastern exit lead to the next town where they would fight for a gym badge. Suddenly, a shrill voice rang out above the city bustle.

“Lilac!” called a small girl, who was running towards them. When Lilac turned and saw her, she lit up and ran to her as well.

“Yes, I’m home!” she cried out cheerily. They hugged tightly and then Lilac walked the yellow-orange haired girl, who Kalak guessed (correctly) to be nine years old, over to her new friends. “Marrigold, these are my two new friends, Kalak and Kira! They are Pokémon trainers!” she said proudly. She turned towards the pair, saying “And this is my little sister, Marrigold!”

“Wow, what a pleasure to meet you both!” the little girl exclaimed, her eyes lighting up at the words ‘Pokémon Trainers’. “I’m going to be a great trainer someday too you know!” she said, flashing a single pokéball to them. It was a good replica, but the ball was only a toy.

“Oh? And what kind of Pokémon might that be?” Kira asked, playing along.

“My Pokémon is Grizzum! This is just his pokéball, but as you can see he is right behind me!” the little girl said very matter of factly. The trainers exchanged quizzical glances.

“It’s her imaginary friend, a made up Pokémon,” Lilac whispered. “We all encourage her though because we think it will help her to be a real trainer soon,” she explained.

“Oh, yeah, Big Sis, Cyan wants to tell you something important!” Marigold said as she impatiently bounced in place. The moment he heard the name Cyan, Kalak instantly pictured a girl with such colored hair and eyes, as seemed to be the case with the two younger sisters. Kalak, Kira, Shinx and Eevee followed Lilac and Marigold to their home, casually bantering along the way. Once there, a girl who fit Kalak’s idea perfectly greeted her younger sisters. Lilac introduced them as her escorts, waiting until they were inside to discuss her plan to leave with them.

“Thank you so much you two! My name’s Cyan, and it’s wonderful to meet you both!” she said in a sweet tone. Her laid-back appearance and outfit of choice told Kalak that she was still very much a trainer. He considered challenging her to a battle, but not now. They had just gotten there.

“So, Mari says you have something to tell me?” Lilac said once they were all seated around a table for sandwiches prepared by Cyan.

“Yep, and it is big Lilac,” the eldest sister said very seriously. She left the room for a few seconds, returning with a backpack that Lilac instantly recognized.

“Is that your trainer’s pack?” Lilac asked, now totally unsure of what was about to be said.

“Yes, it is. As you know, my adventuring days are over, but my time as a trainer will never be. I have applied for the Harmone region’s Pokémon league, and been accepted as the gym leader for Minuet Town Lilac,” she began.

“Oh my gosh, that is so super great!” Lilac cheered. Kalak and Kira were both pleased to hear this news as well, considering their last encounter with Verda. “So…why the bag?” asked the middle sister nervously. Marigold giggled, fully aware of what her oldest sister had to say.

“Lilac, I want you to take this bag, which I have fully stocked with helpful things, and try your best to become a Pokémon trainer!” declared Cyan. An intensity gleamed in her eyes as she spoke each word deliberately, giving them the appearance of a clear blue sky on a sunny day.

“B-But Cyan! I don’t think I…I…” Lilac was short of breath. “You know that I…me and Pokémon just…we…I can’t…well, I suppose I had best tell you this then…” she said, more collected. “After spending time with Kalak and Kira here, and seeing the way they travel, I have asked them if I could join them…and…they agreed,” she said softly. There was a moment of silence. Then Cyan’s serious look gave way to deep laughter.

“Li, that is perfect! They can help you out along the way, teach you to be a good trainer, and then when you are ready, you can start collecting your own badges someday, perhaps!” she said ecstatically.

“So…all along you were going to be expecting me to leave home, huh?” Lilac said, now on the verge of bittersweet tears. As one droplet rolled down her cheek, another soon formed in the eye of her senior.

“Yeah, I guess so…But… you know I’ll be around, right? Y-You can always visit us!” Cyan said, braving a smile that hurt her cheek muscles to form. She wanted nothing but to encourage her sibling, but was suddenly overcome with letting her go. The three sisters, all teary eyes, hugged and even Kira couldn’t help but wipe a tear from her own fiery eyes. Kalak reminisced on leaving home, and was suddenly very excited to return. He missed his parents and his house very much. It wasn’t long before final goodbyes were exchanged as the group set off for Prelude Town again.

“Hey…Big Sis…” Lilac said before turning her back to the door.

“Yeah?”

“I promise…that one day…I will beat you in a battle, and win a badge from you!” she said, more tears running down her face and along the curve of the broad smile she wore.

“Promise?” Cyan said tauntingly.

“Count on it!” shouted Lilac her tears glistening in the midday light.

“Good. I look forward to that day Little Sis,” Cyan said in a broken voice, and the two faced off, competitive sparks flying between them. Suddenly, they both rushed into a strong hug one last time, and then they parted without a word.

Homecoming

The light on the horizon seemed to give way to the push of the coming darkness as Kalak, Kira and Lilac passed through Chime Town. It had seemed so long since the two trainers had been there, and they were both suddenly ecstatic to see Professor Maple. They had made a good deal of progress on their pokédex filling. Lilac, on the other hand, could feel an intense pressure spreading through her mind, and originating from the sturdy old backpack she now carried. The silence of the last few minutes was broken by none other than the professor herself.

“Well if it isn’t Harmone’s most popular trainers!” she exclaimed loudly as if she wished to alert the whole town to their arrival. “What brings you home?”

“Professor! So great to see you!” Kira returned her greeting. “We are visiting home before we head east, what are you doing out tonight?” she asked.

“Ah, it’s just…well, I’ll explain later actually,” she said in a somewhat nervous tone. “But please, do come into the lab, I would love to see how far along you have come. And also, who might this young lady with you be?”

“Oh, this is Lilac! She has just started her journey as a Pokémon trainer!” announced Kalak.

“How wonderful!” Maple said cheerily. “You will be happy to know that we have a pokédex for you if you would like, we finally received a bulk shipment, the first in years!”

“Oh, thank you so much, but my sister Cyan packed hers for me,” said Lilac.

“Nonsense, you ought to use a newer model dear. Besides, what’s the fun in using a prefilled pokédex? No way to monitor your progress…which reminds me, you two ought to upgrade yours!” said the professor as she rambled on, all the way into the lab. “Here, let me see them for a moment…” Kalak and Kira both handed over the small devices and had new ones handed to them in a few moments. “These are still yours; we simply uploaded your data onto new models! Check out the new features!” Kalak looked at the brand new device. It was about the size of most models, but rather than the usual red color it was a combination of shiny black and light blue. It was also sleeker and more rounded than other models. There was a tiny LED screen that displayed his name, and upon sliding it open he discovered a screen displaying all sorts of information on him.

“This is awesome, what is with the personal info?” Kalak asked.

“The Trainer ID system has been used commonly as a form of registration in other regions for decades, and the new pokédex models utilize it, entering you into a worldwide database! It’s really high-tech stuff!” the professor exclaimed excitedly. “Also, I hope you like the color scheme I chose for you!” she added with a wink.

“Yeah, it’s…it’s Shinx colored!”

“Oh, I see, look, mine is brown and cream, like Eevee!” Kira said happily.

“Now I will need you all to give me some additional information so that I can officially put you into the system!” Professor Maple said as she handed Lilac her pokédex, colored white and lilac. After a few simple questions were answered, they were on their way to Prelude town once more, saying goodbye to the professor. Lilac took a moment to register her fellow trainers’ Pokémon in her new pokédex, and was surprised when the smell of ocean air reached her nostrils from within the forest.

“Oh, we must be close!” she said.

“We sure are, Kira and I used to play here all the time, so we know the woods like the back of our hands!” said Kalak, smiling at the memories.

“Kalak look!” she said pointing to a tall, dome-like rock. Into its side was scratched the word “HOME”. Kalak had carved this to help Kira find her way if she ever got lost many years ago. “You know what that means, we are here!” she said, her eyes lighting up at the sight of houses.

“Oh! What a charming little town! I could stay forever!” Lilac squealed. They made it several feet into the town before a familiar voice rang out in the night.

“Kira! Oh my little Kira you are home! And Kalak how are you!?” called Kira’s mother. She hugged her daughter tightly and they both smiled wide smiles.

“Mom, it’s wonderful to see you! I have so many stories to tell!” Kira began.

“Oh, you must! I have seen you on the news Kira! I’m so proud of you two…and, who is your other friend?”

“My name is Lilac, you must be Kira’s mother. It’s wonderful to meet you,” Lilac stated politely. Eevee excitedly yipped and jumped up on Kira and her mom while the commotion attracted some more attention.

“Mom, Dad!” Kalak shouted as he and Shinx both ran towards them. Love and excitement were prevalent as greetings were exchanged and Lilac was introduced to everybody. The trainers told stories of their adventures so far, and all, Lilac included, listened like children. This was the first time that Kalak was on the other end of the adventure stories of Prelude Town.

“So are you both earning gym badges?” asked Kalak’s father. After exchanging sly glances, Kalak and Kira flashed their badges. “K-Kalak! You have the same number of badges as Kira!?” he said in awe.

“He has really become quite the trainer! He and Shinx make an awesome team!” Kira said, leaning on Kalak’s shoulder.

“Hey, speaking of teams, you should meet my other Pokémon!” Kalak said. His parents were quite pleased to hear that he had made more friends, both human and Pokémon. Kalak released them all one by one.

“Aw, is that a Cyndaquil? And a Starly?” said his mom, hesitantly approaching the group.

“Everybody, these are my parents, we are all a family! So be nice, they won’t hurt you!” Kalak said. The Pokémon then shyly presented themselves, only Absol seeming to be withdrawn. Kira took Kalak’s lead by introducing to everybody her new Pokémon and then the two families and Lilac had dinner together. After the meal and many stories, Kira’s mom got up to leave.

“Hey, Mom, I’ll be staying at home tonight of course! Wait for me!”

“Oh that’s right, where shall I sleep?” Lilac wondered.

“Lilac you should stay with me tonight! It’ll be fun!” Kira answered. Her mother agreed warmly and the three thanked Kalak’s parents before leaving for home. Eevee and the other Pokémon were staying, as the trainers had decided to let them roam free for the evening. Many of them had never been to a beach. Kalak left for the beach with them, and he and Shinx sat side by side while the others played and explored. He enjoyed the familiar scents of his home and had missed this ocean view, though he had seen so many new and beautiful things since he left. Shinx also seemed happy to be home. The Pokémon were starting to have mock battles, and Shinx leapt into action, going up against Absol. He used thunderbolt, which Absol swiftly dodged, and the lightning struck the beach, leaving behind fulgurite in various spots. The battle went on for a few minutes and then they both grew bored, deciding instead to gang up and chase Eevee. Cyndaquil was having fun making glass from the sand, and Kalak suddenly had an idea.

“Cyndaquil,” he called, and the small fire type perked up. “Come here a moment, I wanna see something,” he said, and Cyndaquil obediently followed him to his house. He ran up to his room and grabbed one of his favorite possessions, an ocarina. He had had always been fond of music, and knew how to play several instruments, the ocarina being among his favorite. He had left it home, fearing it to be too fragile. “Ok Cyndaquil, do you think you could help me to make something like this with glass?” he asked, playing a few notes. He was no craftsman, but he figured that he could figure it out if he tried. Once they were back on the beach, Kalak requested that Sandshrew help them out by digging a nice fire-pit. They then went through several trial and error attempts before Kalak got the idea of how to mold the molten material, and Cyndaquil, unharmed by the intense heat, helped him. Before long, they had crafted a fine replica of the egg-shaped instrument, and cooled it in the ocean. After it had finished cooling, Kalak put his lips to the mouthpiece and blew, a crystal clear note flowing through the night over the sound of the waves.

“What a beautiful sound!” Came a familiar voice from behind Kalak.

“Oh, Professor Maple! What brings you to Prelude? And thank you…me and Cyndaquil made it!”

“Well…I know it’s getting late and all, but I have come to ask you and the others for some assistance. Team Galactic has been up to no good lately, and that is what was bothering me earlier. They have been making frequent trips to and from the island in the middle of Lake Sharp not far from here, and I have been trying to see what they are up to. Tonight, I could hear the cries of Pokémon coming from the old stone building there, and I would like for you to check it out! Is that ok?” She pleaded. Kalak immediately accepted and ran to Kira’s house with the Pokémon behind him. She and Lilac were still awake, he figured, so he called up to her bedroom window.

“Oh, hi Kalak!” Lilac said, leaning out the window to greet him in her usual bubbly manner.

“Hey, can I come up?” he asked. Lilac turned to ask Kira and returned to the window.

“She said it’s fine, I’ll come unlock the-

“Don’t bother,” Kalak interrupted her. He then ran at the house and kicked off of the wall, just as he had the boulders on the way to Siren Town. He jumped onto the porch roof and from there to the window, into which he climbed. Lilac was shocked, and Kira was rather entertained. “Sorry for the abrupt entrance, but we need to get to Lake Sharp and fast. Professor Maple’s request. I’ll explain on the way, I brought the Pokémon.” He said quickly.

“Uh, ok, sure, be down in a minute…” Kira said. Kalak left the way he had come up and waited on the porch (under the roof this time) and Kira and Lilac changed out of their PJ’s and met him in a hurry. They met up with the troubled professor along the way and began their walk to the lake that was very close by, about three quarters of the way to Chime Town. She explained what she had to Kalak and they made it to the trail leading to the lake’s shore just as she finished. Lilac seemed nervous.

“Will I really be of any help to you if I go?” she asked.

“Ah you have no Pokémon, that’s right!” said Maple. “I would still feel comfortable sending three people rather than two though, just in case,” she said, trying her best to convey the confidence she had in them. As they walked down the dark, wooded path, Kalak kept his eyes and ears opened for any sign of movement as he led the way. The first he heard was that of a human, and he was sure of it.

“Who’s there?” he called. A Galactic grunt answered him by jumping onto the trail. He smiled and sent out a Ninjask without saying anything. Shinx took the cue and attacked, but was overcome by the foe’s speed. He used shockwave, dealing enough damage to drop the bug type out of the air, finishing him with crunch. The grunt, still silent, turned and fled after recalling the fallen Pokémon, and the trainers gave chase, making it all the way to the shore of the lake. They had lost the grunt, but were finally at their goal.

“Lapras, go!” Kira called, sending the water type into the lake. She used her HM to ferry the trio across the water to the bit of land known simply as Sharp Island, upon which was constructed a small stone structure to honor Pokémon. Inside, Pokémon and human voices could be heard, and it seemed like there was digging underway. Kalak motioned for the others to stay at the entrance while he got a first look. He and Sandshrew crept inside and found a deep pit, and in it were several Pokémon and Galactic members ordering them around. They seemed to be mining some kind of giant pearl that glowed faintly. Despite his efforts to stay undetected one of the grunts spotted Kalak.

“Hey! A trainer!” he called. Suddenly, all of the grunts took out some kind of pokéballs and pressed a button, and all of the Pokémon stopped what they were doing and turned towards Kalak.

“Kira! I need help! Send out anybody you can!” Kalak called outside. He sent all of his Pokémon out to face the oncoming mob, and Kira quickly ran inside with Lilac close behind her. She had recalled Lapras but sent out all of her other Pokémon except for Skitty (While she was at home, her mother and Skitty had bonded very closely, and it was decided that Skitty would live there to keep her some company). There was a great battle between the trainers’ seven Pokémon (Kalak refrained from using Kakuna) and the horde of Galactic’s Pokémon. There seemed to be something wrong with them however, as though they did not want to fight. They must have been overworked, Kalak thought. They went down fairly quickly, and none of Kalak or Kira’s Pokémon seemed even phased by the attack.

“You amateurs! Let me handle it…” said a voice from among the crowd of grunts. A man stepped forward from that crowd, and seemed to be in a Galactic uniform that nobody had seen before. It was more impressive than those of the grunts but not on the same level as the commanders like Mars and Jupiter.

“And who might you be?” Kira shouted angrily.

“I am the first of Team Galactic to hold the title of squad leader, my dear. We have begun a team reformation that is not only twice as organized, but also ten times as powerful!” began the dark haired criminal. “Now that we have use of the G-ball, we can enslave any Pokémon we wish, and it takes a special kind of group leadership to manage that kind of team, and so my position was created, and I have risen above the others! To my grunt underlings, I am Squad Leader Nova, but you may refer to me simply as Nova, as you are not under my authority,” Said the man with a smirk that did not fit his calm and polite tone.

“Well, aren’t you full of yourself!” Lilac piped up. “A thief is a thief, you have no rank as far as we are concerned!” At this, Nova laughed.

“A thief I am not, for I no longer steal Pokémon, as that is grunt work my dear. I am the one in power over these petty thieves, a floor manager if you will…” he said in a nonchalant tone.

“Well if you don’t have any Pokémon, then how do you plan on stopping us from putting an end to your little operation here?” Kalak said, mostly to get the Galactic Squad Leader worked up but also out of sheer curiosity.

“Simple,” answered Nova. “Galactic Squad Four, evacuate for plan B-2,” he said in a chilling voice full of malice. He and the grunts all left the pit via ladders, running straight past the trainers. One of the grunts, however, managed to shove them each into the pit, two other grunts pressing buttons that caused the ladders to retract and be carried out. Nova stood on the edge of the hole, looking down with his devilish smile. “Goodnight, dears,” he said, pushing a button that triggered explosives in the tunnel. A cave in began and the trainers’ first reaction was to recall all of their Pokémon.

            “Kira! Lilac! Here!” called Kalak frantically. He pointed to a hole in the wall where the light fixtures for the operation were. He quickly shoved them out of the hole and the three piled in just before the first large piece of stone fell into the pit, right where they had been standing. The collapse kicked up dust and debris everywhere, yet the three remained safe in the hole. Once the sound of falling rock stopped, Kalak put his shoulder to the blockage. He gave a shove in a desperate attempt to free them, but knew it was hopeless.

            “Kalak…it’s not going to budge is it?” Lilac cried, tears streaming.

            “H-Hey, come on Lilac, we will make it out,” Kalak tried comforting her, but she was breaking down. “Sandshrew, help us out!” Kalak called, the sound of a Pokémon emerging from its ball echoing in the eerily silent shaft. Sandshrew went to work digging, returning a moment later. He was unable to bore through the large pieces of the stone temple that had fallen in. They were truly trapped.

            “What are we going to do Kalak?” Kira asked him softly.

            “I don’t know, don’t you have any suggestions?” he asked, regretting the anger in his tone. Kira was shocked, and glared at him, turning to Lilac. “Hey, I’m sorry…I know I’m not the only one who’s stressed,” he said, placing a hand on Kira’s shoulder.

            “Yeah…it’s alright…I just don’t see what we can do to get out of this…” she said in almost a whisper. She didn’t want to upset Lilac any more.

            “Don’t worry Kira…I…I need to think” he replied, sending out Cyndaquil. Lilac had collapsed to the floor, still crying and was shivering from the cold. They all sat down, Kira holding a whimpering Eevee tightly and Lilac lying against Kalak’s shoulder. She was exhausted and trying to sleep. After a while, Kalak noticed a small spot of light faintly lighting the floor. “Hey! Is that moonlight!?” he said, scrambling to the rubble to find the source. “Guys, I think I’ve got it figured out!” he said, reaching for a pokéball.

            “Remember, you need to find Professor Maple! And look out for Team Galactic!” Kalak’s words echoed in Staravia’s head. He had been able to squeeze his body through the narrow gap in the rocks, and with much effort, made it to the outside. There were several Team Galactic grunts on the surface, and they seemed to be keeping watch for something in the woods surrounding Lake Sharp. Fortunately, that meant their attention was distracted from the flying type when he emerged from the ruined temple. He looked back and forth between the five criminals and made sure they wouldn’t spot him before hopping around to the other side of the ruins. There, the bird’s heart jumped when he spotted one more sentry who seemed to be slacking off. He quickly hid under a piece of stone and peeked out. The grunt was sitting down on more rubble and muttering to himself.

            “…never be able to get out if I can’t even stand up to Squad Leader Nova. Why did I even sign up for this, I mean, sure, I had to in order to save Gligar, but they lied. They never returned him and now…if I desert…” he then shuddered. Staravia assumed the grunt was only a boy of about thirteen. It made the Pokémon sad. “And those trainers…if I could I’d avenge them! But…without my own Pokémon, I can’t win against Galactic…” he trailed off. Staravia waited for a good chance to sneak away and made his break for it when the grunt turned his head. Clumsily, Staravia tripped over more debris and made a small racket that attracted the attention of the grunt, but not the others. The two stared at one another for almost a full minute, and then Staravia was relieved to see him look the other way. “I recognize you…You belong to the boy trainer, don’t you?” he asked. “He must be ok down there…go on, get help, I won’t stop ya!” he said, still unmoving. No longer concerned with secrecy, Staravia happily trilled a note in thanks and took off in hurry. Behind him, he heard the other Galactics reprimanding the boy for letting a Pokémon go, but he covered by saying that it was wild and had come and gone in a flash. Staravia made it to Chime Town in a matter of minutes and perched himself on a window at the lab. Professor Maple was inside, and Staravia rapped on the window with his talons. The professor came to investigate and found the bird, his feathers ruffled from battle still and dust and dirt covering parts of him.

            “A Staravia?” she said in confusion. Staravia wasted no time trying to convey his message. Flying inside, he perched on a piece of machinery and started to chirp and tweet frantically. “W-Whoa! Settle down there! What do you want?” the shocked professor called as an assistant came running to her side at the sound of the commotion. He brought with him his own pokédex and scanned Staravia, and the automated voice indicated that it was not wild.

            “Are you…Kalak’s?” Professor Maple then asked, suddenly recognizing the bird. Staravia’s frantic flapping settled and he nodded in confirmation. “Well is everything ok?” she asked. At that Staravia flew outside and the professor knew that he wanted her to follow. She notified authorities, fearing that they were in danger, and off went the search party towards Lake Sharp.

            Back in the collapsed tunnel, the trainers’ patience was wearing thin. It had been hours since the cave in. Eevee was asleep on Kira’s lap, and Lilac was asleep on Kalak’s. Although she wouldn’t care to admit it, this made Kira rather envious. This was the last thing on her mind, however, as she was desperately trying to hold on to her on collectedness. Kalak was beginning to worry about Staravia, unsure that he had even made it past Team Galactic. The clock on his pokédex now marked the third hour of being trapped in this dark tunnel that reminded him of a tomb.

            “Kira?” he asked quietly.

            “Mhmm?” she muttered back, not risking letting him hear the fear in her tone.

            “Do you think our other Pokémon might be able to get out of here like Staravia, even if…if…” he stopped, not wanting to continue.

            “If we don’t?” she finished for him solemnly. “Yeah, I mean…maybe, I hope…as long as we let them out...maybe Staravia should have taken their pokéballs too…” she said, now tearing up again.

            “H-Hey! Don’t cry Kira…please…I have plenty of faith in Staravia…I mean…he was able to track me down easily when he was just a Starly, remember? When it all began…” he trailed off. It seemed like ages ago that he had begun his journey, but it hadn’t been even a year yet. He wondered how Kira thought of the start of her journey, and how long ago it must have felt like. Now he was afraid for it to get quiet again, so he decided to ask her. “Kira, that wasn;t too long ago, was it? It sure seems like it though. What about you, how long does it feel like it’s been since you began?”

            “Hmm? Wow, I dunno…I mean, being a trainer has become my life, so, it’s almost like it’s been all I’ve ever known, even though it has only been about four years…You know, the first thing I always think of when I think back on the beginning…it’s the last thing I did before leaving,” she said, happy memories putting a smile on her face which Kalak could hear in her voice.

            “What was that?” he asked curiously.

            “I talked to you!” she told him. “Remember? You promised me…that we would share a destiny Kalak…I’m happy that you kept that promise too! But you know, that isn’t the very last thing I did…When I left, I sat on that rock you carved ‘home’ into…and I cried,” she admitted, blushing in the dark and laughing, still being sure not to wake Lilac.

            “You cried? Heh, why’d ya do that?” Kalak teased the adventurous girl.

            “Because! You weren’t coming!” she said, catching herself blushing once more. “I mean, you were the best part of home…and I never felt like I was leaving Prelude Town behind I guess. I just felt like I was leaving you behind,” she said softly. Kalak also couldn’t help but blush when she said that. He had never realized that he had meant so much to her as a kid, but now he saw what he hadn’t then. He was about to say something in reply, but went completely silent when he heard a sound coming from the rock-filled tunnel. It was Staravia. He shook Lilac gently to wake her so that she did not fall, but upon awakening she leaped to her feet.

            “Heeeeey!!!” Kalak called up the tiny hole that his Pokémon had squeezed through.

            “Oh God! Kalak is that you!? Are you ok!?” Professor Maple’s worried voice echoed. Several other voices above muttered things amongst themselves, and he recognized his and Kira’s parents’ among them.

            “Don’t worry Professor, we are all ok…but kind of hungry!” he shouted up, trying to ease the tension in a way. It wasn’t long after then that the sounds of rocks shifting could be heard as strong police Pokémon moved them out of the way. The trainers all stood back in case the rocks shifted too much and rolled in some more. In a matter of twenty minutes, the entire mine shaft was emptied, and the trapped were rescued.

            “Kids! What on earth happened!?” sobbed Kalak’s mother, and there were reunions all around.

            “I think I ought to explain first…” The professor interrupted, guilt in her tone. “You see, Team Galactic has been operating on the island temple for a while and I asked these three to investigate for me…It looks like I really got them in over their heads this time…I’m so sorry you three! And your Pokémon too! Oh and thank goodness for your magnificent Staravia!” she added.

            “Yeah, thanks a lot buddy! You literally saved our lives!” Kalak said, hugging his avian friend. He then explained what had happened, mentioning the G-Balls that the mysterious Squad Leader Nova had mentioned and the strange gem that was still at the bottom of the shaft. As the authorities made note of everything he said, Kira suddenly came to a realization.

            “Kalak, it all makes sense! Remember that couple we saved who built the pokéball for the Galactics!? They said it used energy beams to enslave Pokémon, and that it used a strange gem, the...the Soul of Harmone, was it? That gem you saw, it must be that same thing! And those G-Balls must be the final products of the hostage situation!” she concluded. Eevee yipped at all the excitement of her trainer in agreement.

            “Yeah, you’re right!” Kalak agreed. “So now that we know what they were doing here…”

            “Then the police and I will look into this ‘Soul of Harmone’ stuff!” Professor Maple finished for him. “I seem to recall that the Sinnoh branch of Team Galactic tried using a similar energy source, however they derived it directly from Pokémon. Maybe…could they be up to their old tricks?” she wondered. “In the meantime, you three and your Pokémon should be treated medically, you never know what could have happened in all the excitement!” The entire search party saw them to the medical clinic in Trill City, a place that Kira had hoped to avoid ever returning to. While they were being checked out, the police who were part of the party went to search Galactic Headquarters in hopes of finding the team responsible. After an hour of simple tests, it was confirmed that the tree trainers weren’t harmed beyond a few cuts and scratches.

            “Well, I suppose we accomplished our mission, right Professor?” Kalak asked her with a smile. He was trying to assure her that he wasn’t upset with having been endangered by her suggestion.

            “That’s true, I suppose, thank you so much! After you went through nearly dying, you three certainly deserve a reward! Come on over to the lab tomorrow morning before you leave, ok?”

            “Sure thing! I’m happy everything worked out!” Kira said, much for the same reason as Kalak. They all returned to their homes, but not before hearing the odd report from the police that stated that Team Galactic’s HQ building seemed to have disappeared in an instant. The tall building was abandoned and there was no trace that it had ever been inhabited by the crime syndicate, not even the huge letter G that once marked the place as theirs. Kalak, Kira and Lilac decided amongst themselves to make it part of their goals to find the new HQ building, wherever it may be. But now it was time for some well-deserved rest after an exciting and dangerous night.