Thread: [Pokémon] ROOTS // Professorfic
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Old December 9th, 2011 (4:21 PM).
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Haruka of Hoenn Haruka of Hoenn is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2007
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The next morning, Bertha got up bright and early to drive them to the Gym. Michael hadn’t seen her in days, but she was in a more cheerful mood than usual, which she attributed to her first week of sleeping well every night. She wore her white sundress and a pair of heels. Once they had settled into the car, she pulled the Buick out of the parking lot and onto open road.

“So, tell me,” Bertha began. “Why did you decide to skip the hospital? Is Clefairy well enough that you decided to put it off? You boys never told me when you came to see me the other day.”

In the backseat, Henry cast Michael a brief glance. “Clefairy got better.”

Bertha’s eyebrows climbed. “Really? That fast?”

“Yep. She recovered.”

“Huh. Now that’s something.” From the rearview mirror, Michael saw Bertha’s eyes shift towards Henry. “I’d like to take a look at her when we get back.”

“Oh, uh don’t worry,” Henry said. “You’ll see real soon.”

Michael had to turn away to hide his smile. Bertha asked no more questions, and roughly ten minutes later, they pulled into a parking lot of a lone, two-story building. On the outside, it didn’t look too different from the other buildings in the city, but once they stepped in, Michael was entirely consumed by its atmosphere.

The interior of the Gym was dark and spacious. The walls were made of smooth gray stone that was cool to the touch, and the only source of lighting was a series of long, rectangular windows spaced evenly along the sides. The slits were rimmed with what appeared to be dark wood, but they were otherwise undecorated, and the light they let in was stark and unfiltered. The only furniture in the lobby was a pair of benches that stood against the walls, and two twin statues that greeted them at the entrance; otherwise, it was completely empty. It reminded Michael of a church.

Bertha took the lead, and they ventured farther in, entering a narrow hallway. Here, there were various doors, distinguished by numbers engraved in the wood. Wrought-iron chandeliers hung from the ceiling, carrying real candles, and there were even paintings framed on the walls, depicting muddled, abstract images.

“This is what you can do when your city has money,” Bertha whispered, with a smile. “I haven’t seen all the Gyms in Sinnoh, but I’ve heard that this is one of the nicest ones.”

Henry eyed the doors they passed. Most of them were silent, but behind others, the faint sounds of battles could be heard from within. “How do you know where to go, Bertha? Jerry never told us what room or anything.”

“These aren’t the battle rooms,” Bertha replied. “They’re rental rooms. Hearthome doesn’t have a lot of places for trainers to practice, and with such a big inflow of people each year, even the hotel can’t always keep up with the demand for space. So what you’ll often see in these big-city Gyms are rooms that can be rented out for battling. The plus with these is that you can battle with people that the actual leader hires, that use similar pokémon and moves. It’s as close as you can get to battling the leader, without the high-stakes.”

Michael felt a nudge on his shoulder. “We should have done that!” Henry said to him.

“Well, now we know,” Michael replied.

They reached the second floor, which was totally empty except for a door. A woman with dark hair sat at a table beside it, and looked up as they entered.

“Welcome to the Hearthome Gym. Names please?”

Henry stepped forward. “Henry McPherson.”

The woman looked down at her papers. “All right. I’ll go get Mr. Bradford.” She disappeared behind the door. A minute later, she returned.

“He’s ready for you. Come inside.”

She held the door open as they entered. The battle room was stark in its simplicity. The floor was a sheet of fine gravel, matching the purplish-gray hue of the walls. The slitted windows were back, casting streaks of white light across the room’s perimeter.

To Michael’s surprise, Jerry was already waiting for them. He stood on the far end of the battlefield, cloaked in half-shadow. His arms were crossed. “Welcome. I’m glad you all could make it. Michael, Bertha, you can have a seat at the bench. Henry, please step forward with your first pokémon.”

They followed his instructions. Henry took out his first pokéball, fumbled for the knob, and held it open. Starly tumbled out with a screech, flapping his wings to gain altitude. Before the battle, Michael had advised Henry to save Clefable for last, using her as a secret weapon in case all else failed.

Michael waited for Jerry to take out his first pokéball, but he never did—the Gym leader just stood there, as if waiting for a cue. At first, Michael was confused, but then he saw a tiny ripple of air above a patch of gravel, then a shimmer, as if a hole was slowly stretching between two dimensions. Out of nowhere, a tiny body emerged and landed on Jerry’s side of the arena.

The pokémon had a vaguely human resemblance: plump body, long, knobby limbs, and two tufts of blue hair protruding like horns from its head. Its shoes, also a matching blue, curled at the tips like a clown’s. The pokémon made no sound, shuffling from side to side like some sort of performer, making gestures in the air with its large, gloved hands.

“You may start, if you’d like,” said Jerry. “Mr. Mime’s not one to rush things.”

Though the offer was probably just a pleasantry, it nevertheless struck Michael as odd. He watched as Henry complied, keeping his voice steady. “Starly, use Wing Attack!”

Starly beat his wings faster, stirring the air around him into two twin cyclones that kicked up the gravel. Starly launched the attack at Mr. Mime, who was thrown back by the force of the wind. Bun instead of falling, it did a backwards cartwheel and jumped back to its feet, entirely unharmed.

“Mime, use Mimic!” said Jerry.

The Mr. Mime paused for a moment, pressing its fingers to its temples. Then it spread out its arms, and at that instant they became wings—so fast that Michael barely had time to catch the illusion. A glowing, translucent hologram threaded around Mr. Mime’s arms, accurate down to the tiniest detail, and generated the exact same gust of wind when the pokémon flapped them forward.

The Wing Attack engulfed the Starly, tossing him about like a leaf in a storm. The screeching bird barely had time to escape before Mr. Mime sent forth the second one, which sent Starly spiraling to the floor. The bird rolled over in the gravel, its wings splayed, then lifted itself back into the air. Clearly, his confidence had taken a blow.

The Mr. Mime did not attack again; its wings faded away, leaving behind its two reedy arms, and the pokémon bent forward in a silent bow, its demonstration complete.

Henry looked up at Jerry, marked with shock. “Whoa. What was that?”

Jerry chuckled. “That’s what Mr. Mime does.”

Henry bit his lip. He tried a Quick Attack and a Peck, both of which Mr. Mime copied effortlessly; with self-generated speed, and a holographic beak that sprouted from its nose.

After several rounds of this give-and-take, during which Henry became visibly confused and frustrated, Mr. Mime began to take the offensive. The pokémon used Confusion, which clouded Starly’s mind with an inward battle, jarring and garbling his motions. While Starly warred with himself, the Mr. Mime pressed the pads of its long fingers together to form a large ‘O’ in the air, puckered its lips as if to blow through it, and shot a funnel of pink energy at the Starly, knocking him back like a volleyball.

The blow was sufficient to snap Starly out of his confusion, but when the bird recovered, he simply flew around, dodging the pink Psybeam attacks, screeching something rude in his special Starly-language. For a while Henry did nothing but watch, though it was clear that the boy was thinking, his brow furrowed in concentration as he scrambled to find an answer.

Finally, Henry shouted his command. “Starly, use Brave Bird!”

Starly did not react at once; at the moment he seemed only to want to evade the deranged, smiling creature that kept shooting death rays at him. Jerry didn’t seem to mind.

“Mime, use Psychic.”

The Mr. Mime bent over slightly, closing its eyes in preparation for the attack. Starly stopped his cartwheeling through the air, and as he aimed itself at his opponent, Michael swore he could see a gleam of satisfaction in the bird’s eyes, as if thinking: gotcha!

Folding his wings and letting out a shrilling war cry, Starly shot himself forward like a bullet from a gun, and collided with Mr. Mime. The Psychic pokémon fell back, its eyes flying open and its mouth gaping wide in shock. Its arms curled around the thrashing Starly, trapping its opponent in a hug as they both tumbled to the floor.

Henry tightened his fist. “Now, Starly! Use Peck!”

Before Mr. Mime could do anything else, Starly began to peck, jabbing at the pokémon’s chest, arms, and neck. The clown tried to wriggle its face free, but that failed too as Starly worked his way upward to its head. The talons on Starly’s legs gripped a tuft of Mr. Mime’s cotton-candy hair and tugged, as if to pull off a wig. Mr. Mime opened his mouth in what would have been a scream of protest, while its large hands groped at empty air.

Jerry stepped out of his nonchalant stance and drew forward. “Mr. Mime, use Substitute!”

At first, with Starly’s body blocking his view, Michael didn’t see what happened. He saw one of the white hands lift and snap its fingers, but for a while, nothing else happened.

Then, after a few seconds, Starly’s battering stopped. Tilting his head in confusion, Starly flew back in a tiny arc, landing a few feet away from Mr. Mime’s motionless body. Only now, it wasn’t a body.

Instead, in Mr. Mime’s place lay a shiny, smiling replica made of rubber. The fake-Mr. Mime lay still on its back, limbs relaxed, its eyes reflecting the lifeless glare of light.

Confused, Henry approached for a closer look. Starly did the same. Again he tried to jab the doll’s arm with his beak, but the skin absorbed the blows, swallowing the dents as soon as they appeared. Starly pecked again, this time adding his talons to the assault, but the doll rolled over like a sack of flour, unharmed.

From his place at the other side of the room, Jerry smiled. “You like that move? I can tell that you do. Substitute’s not very common, even with Psychic pokémon, but Mr. Mime’s been pretty adept at learning it. When he’s created his substitute, nothing can hurt him. Not even Earthquake.” Jerry stepped closer to the motionless Mr. Mime. “And now you’ll see the real reason why I have this fellow in my team. Mime, come out.”

Jerry’s command faded into silence. The Mr. Mime doll remained where it was. Henry and Starly simultaneously looked at Jerry in expectation, and the Gym leader rubbed his chin. “Hang on.”

He stepped around to his pokémon, and Henry and Starly backed away to make room. Jerry kneeled down as close as he could without touching the doll, and looked it over. “Hello? Mr. Mime… come out. Did you hear me? What are you waiting for?” He waved his hand over the vacant eyes.

“Maybe he’s experiencing technical difficulties,” Henry said. From the side, Michael snickered.

“No, no… there’s gotta be something…” Jerry pressed his forefinger to his chin. “Mr. Mime, come out!” he tried again, but with no results. Jerry began to pace, muttering. “Agh… drat. Mime must’ve gotten the technique wrong again. It’s only his fourth day using this move; I can’t blame him. But it’s a shame on my part.”

Michael leaned forward. “Wait, what happened?”

Jerry turned to him, smiling dryly. “Mr. Mime’s stuck. When a pokémon uses Substitute, they put their real body into a sort of… limbo inside the fake one. It’s hard to explain. Mime and I studied the technique for days, but just when I thought we had it right, I guess I was proven wrong…”

Henry bit his lip. “But is he still… you know…”

“Alive? Oh, of course,” Jerry said. “It’s just that he’s probably really confused right now. He’ll switch back to his regular body when the effect wears off, but that takes time.” With a sigh, he took out Mr. Mime’s pokéball and returned him.

Henry rocked on the balls of his feet. “So… would this count as me beating him?”

Jerry nodded. “Unfortunately. But don’t think this changes anything—we’re far from done!” He swapped Mr. Mime’s pokéball with another. “Go, Gallade!”

A large pokémon emerged from the capsule, landing on two sturdy legs. The pokémon’s body was tall and lean, like that of a warrior, and covered in pearl-white skin. Its arms, in contrast, were a bright green, and instead of hands and fingers, one of them extended into a thin, sharp blade. One of the Gallade’s eyes was covered by a green, riblike comma, and the other that stared out at Henry was a bright, piercing red.

“Gallade, use Slash!”

The Gallade lunged forward, slashing at Starly with its sword hand. Starly flew out of the way, climbing high into the air.

From the onset, Michael could tell that Gallade was more of a Fighting pokémon than a Psychic one. It relied on its speed and accuracy to pin Starly down, and flinched back more than usual when the bird retaliated with a Peck or a Wing Attack. Michael guessed it to be Jerry’s way of adaptation, since he couldn’t expect all of his opponents to have pokémon that were weak to Psychic.

As the two pokémon became used to battle, and Starly began to show signs of tiring, Gallade switched to its second mode. It tucked its arms against its chest and popped out of thin air just like Mr. Mime had, reappearing seconds later in an entirely new place. Starly would turn to catch up, and Gallade would teleport again, dodging Pecks and Wing Attacks until it drove the bird to the end of its string. After a final, feeble attempt at stirring wind, Starly quite literally fell down from exhaustion, and Henry pressed his hand over his mouth, momentarily appalled that he had driven his pokémon to such a point. He switched out Starly and sent out Pachirisu.

The electric squirrel emerged, scampered for a bit after its own tail, and then turned to look up at Gallade, who had appeared in front of it like a grand statue.

“Pachirisu, use Spark!”

Tiny white sparks began to crackle around Pachirisu’s cheeks, and the squirrel clamped its paws over one of Gallade’s legs to transfer the charge. Gallade’s body seized up, his eye bulging, and he began to swipe at Pachirisu with his sword, trying to get him off.

Through it all, Michael sat slightly slouched in his seat, tapping his knee as he watched the Gallade battle. More than anything, he was desperate for some notepaper and a pencil, and he mentally scolded himself for not having the foresight to bring anything. What kept him in check, however, was the fact that Bertha was sitting right beside him, calm but attentive. Even if he were witnessing the greatest battle in the world, there was no way he would ever work on his chart when she was around. So he observed in silent agony as Gallade and Pachirisu annihilated each other.

Several rounds of Spark and Swift had brought Gallade to his knees, and in turn, Pachirisu was beginning to phase out of adrenaline and enter into crash mode. Gallade reverted back to his teleporting trick again, which only quickened the process. Pachirisu ended up giving out, plopping still upon the floor, its tiny sides heaving with exhaustion.

With a deep breath, Henry switched out his second pokémon and silently brought out his third. Clefable emerged on her feet, spinning slightly, her wings fluttering as she gained her balance on the new terrain. Instantly, Jerry’s eyes widened. “You have a Clefable? Wow. I haven’t seen too many of those in Sinnoh. They’re Kanto pokémon, if I remember correctly.”

Bertha also seemed surprised. She had drawn back in her seat, and pressed her palm to her chest. “Henry, when did this happen?”

“The night that she got sick,” Henry mumbled.

Bertha settled back into silence, though it was clear she wasn’t satisfied. Her eyes hung on to the Clefable from then on, following its every move.

Henry’s Clefable fell into battle with Gallade as swiftly as she had before, dodging the pokémon’s swipes and retaliating with her own. Gallade extended his normal arm out to the side, and that one too became a sword, which he used to parry Clefable’s claws. The two figures became blurs, and a cloud of dust was kicked up around them as they danced.

As it became clear who was winning, Gallade immediately fell into the defensive, teleporting frantically across the battlefield in an attempt to confuse his opponent. But Clefable had evidently learned from her encounter with Yanma—she no longer chased the moving target, and instead leaped at Gallade only when he drew near. On Jerry’s command, Gallade used Confusion, which Clefable overcame just in time to deflect a Psycho Cut.

As Michael watched this astounding exchange between the battlers, he couldn’t help but be amazed. Clefable wasn’t just good. She was kicking ass.

Henry, who seemed both elated and frightened at his pokémon’s abilities, ordered Clefable to use Wake-Up-Slap, which swept Gallade right across the cheek. The red eye puckered, and the pokémon stumbled.

“Finish it off!” Henry cried, jumping. “Tackle it!”

With a bellow, Clefable pounced on top of Gallade and pinned it to the floor. She dealt a few more blows, and then Gallade slumped against the ground, its eye drifting closed.

Jerry maintained an impressively calm demeanor at Gallade’s demise. He swapped the old pokéball for a new one, bringing out his third battler. It was a Chingling, a pokémon that looked like a Christmas bell. It had a round, golden body with tiny arms and legs, and two red, ribbon-like tassels flowing from its head. The pokémon drifted in the air without the aid of wings, or any other sort of propellant, and made soft chiming noises as it rocked from side to side.

Without a command from Jerry, Chingling opened with a Psybeam that issued from its thin mouth. Clefable dodged the pink funnel, and with a high leap, managed to hit the Chingling with her hand and bring it down several inches. After that, she abstained from physical contact, instead focusing on keeping a strong resistance against the Chingling’s repeated attacks of Confusion. She ran around, one eye open and the other squinting almost shut, as if trying to stir up a hidden power to retaliate. Michael watched, awestruck, as the glimmer of pink returned to her eyes.

Right then, he felt a weight press down upon him, though it wasn’t as strong as what he had felt in the courtyard. Bertha shifted uncomfortably, as did Jerry, and Henry, feeling the effects of increased gravity. The Chingling began to sink, its mystical levitation suppressed, until it was within Clefable’s reach. Then, the pokémon began to claw and jab at it with all her might, until the Chingling flopped down like a broken bell, fainted.

Henry stood still for a few seconds, then looked up at Jerry. The Gym leader remained silent, and then, slowly, he lifted his hands and clapped three times. “Well done. Well done. You’ve truly made this a great battle, Henry.”

Henry smiled. He and Jerry met at the center of the arena and shook hands, after which Jerry placed the badge—a shiny purple coin—into Henry’s hand, along with some money.

When the leader had finished, Henry approached Michael with a dazed, windblown expression on his face. “I can’t believe it, Michael! I did it! I won!” He held up the Relic badge. A large circle in the center connected three smaller purple ones, its silver threads intertwining the three in a sort of ghostly web. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

Michael nodded. For the next minute, Henry embarked upon a rapid, stumbling recollection of his battle, but his words were partially lost to Michael, who was already lost in thought, searching for something that had briefly popped into his mind, then slipped away again.

“… and after he took out Pachirisu I definitely thought I’d lose, but when I sent out Clefable and she totally, I mean I couldn’t even believe it!” Henry was saying. “I mean, it’s like after she changed she’s gotten so much better! It’s the weirdest thing!”

Suddenly, Michael’s eyes lit up. “Rogers-Bubbley!”

Henry, who had been admiring his badge again, tore his gaze away. “Huh?”

Michael snapped his fingers, beaming as the information returned to him. “It was this real boss experiment they did in Kanto back in 1949. I read about it yesterday. It was performed by two scientists, Rogers and Bubbley, who took a plain old Pikachu and put it in a metal box. Then they shot at it with all this radiation that was at a specific frequency, and when they took it out—no joke—it changed!”

“Changed, how?”

Michael spread out his hands. “It grew! It became like three times bigger, and then its color changed, and so did its tail and ears and everything, and when they compared it, it matched the structure of a Raichu! The Pikachu became a Raichu! Don’t you get it? That moonstone you found must be one of those rocks that lets out radiation! Of course it wouldn’t work for my pokémon, because that frequency doesn’t affect them!”

“So… the moonstone is like the stone that evolved Pikachu?” Henry said.

Michael nodded. “Exactly.”

At that moment, Jerry, who had been exchanging a few parting words with Bertha, waved goodbye to the boys and disappeared behind the back door to get ready for his next shift. Bertha went over to Michael and Henry, spreading out her arms.

“Well, congrats!” she said. “That was a really great battle, Henry. You’ve improved.”

Henry blushed. “But Clefable did all the work.”

Bertha let out a chuckle. “No, you did. You guided your team with control and discipline, both traits of a good leader. Jerry saw it with his own eyes, and so did I. Stop hiding from yourself. You’re made of the right stuff, and you've got the right skills, so don't be afraid to go on and use them. Okay?”

Henry nodded. “Okay.”

“Great.” Bertha smiled. “Anyways, we should probably be heading out now. I want to get you guys back to the hotel so Michael has plenty of time to practice.”

She led them downstairs and to the exit. As they left the Gym, Henry had his badge in his hand, and was admiring its sleek contour, grinning. Michael was smiling too, but for an entirely different reason.

When they arrived back at the hotel and parted to their respective rooms, Michael immediately grabbed his backpack and notebook, along with a few of the library books he had been reading. He passed Henry by the door, who had barely taken three steps inside, and pulled the boy after him.

“Come on,” Michael said. “We’re going to Amity Square.”

Henry frowned. “Amity Square? But if you want to battle, we can just go to the patio again.”

“No. It has to be somewhere private,” Michael said. “I don’t want anybody listening in on us, and with Bertha here, there’s always a chance she might. So come on.”

With a sigh, Henry went to follow him. When they arrived at the park, Michael immediately sought out the loneliest, shadiest picnic table in the park and laid out his things on the surface. He opened his books, thumbing through various pages until he found his own bookmarks.

Across from him, Henry took a seat, resting his chin on his arms as he watched. “So, what’s this about? What did you find out about this whole item thing?”

Michael found the paragraph he had been looking for: Evolution Experiments in the 1900s, and scanned the text with his finger. “Got it. Right here. ‘The Rogers-Bubbley experiment was conducted after a correlation was discovered between a growing population of Raichus in the northeastern lowlands of Kanto, and the abundance of a strain of rock found only in that area.’ And after the scientists did the experiment, they tested the stone on a bunch of other Pikachus to make sure it wasn’t just a freak accident, and all of them evolved. They called it the Thunderstone. Then, when science became more advanced, it was confirmed that there was actually a biological connection between Pikachu and Raichu, though no one noticed it on a deeper level than appearances before.” When he finished reading, Michael looked up. “So you see? That moonstone you found must be like the Thunderstone. And what’s even better—there could be more of those catalyst things out there! I bet with just a bit more research, we could figure out where to find them and evolve all our pokémon! We’ll be invincible, I’m telling you!”

His enthusiasm, however, seemed entirely lost on Henry. The boy processed his words long and slow, biting his lip this way and that before responding. “But… even if we do find out where these stones are, how will we ever get them? It’s not like we can travel the whole world. And don’t you think it’s a little risky to count on evolution to make our pokémon more powerful instead of training them the old-fashioned way? Wouldn’t that be… you know…” he dropped his voice, “cheating?”

Michael rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I’m not asking you to help. I’m just saying that there might be an easier way to get things done. If you want to be a good little boy and do everything by the book, that’s fine with me. I’ll just go ahead and plan innovation and make history all by myself.” He slammed the book shut, tucked it under his arm, and walked away from the bench.

He veered onto the path and walked for several minutes, his excitement for the discovery quickly eating away his frustration at Henry’s lack of interest. The thought that there were items, actual items, that could turn a regular pokémon into a supercharged fighter amazed him. Not only would he have type advantages on his side when he challenged the Gyms, but power too, and with a bunch of evolutionary stones to assist him with his training, he would be unstoppable.

This vision utterly captured him, consuming the entirety of his mind so that he thought of nothing else. Lost in this daze, Michael hardly cared where he was going; he was following the path now, walking along what would eventually be a long, winding loop around the whole park. To his right, he saw the tall, wrought-iron gates that bordered the entrance.

As he walked, his thoughts moved in rapid sequence, literally colliding against each other like dominos.

So what if Henry doesn’t understand? He already won the Gym. Besides, he probably doesn’t dig anything that sounds like it’s breaking the rules... Why does he have to be such a damn kissee? Michael kicked a rock with his shoe and watched it skitter into the grass.

And on the heels of that:

It’s not even about the League—hell, it’s about life. It’s nature. Pokémon evolve and that’s that; I really don’t get why there has to be a rule about what we can and can’t use to help ourselves in battle. And besides, I can’t be the only person in the world who knows about it. There’s got to be someone who can tell me more—anyone who knows about this.

And on the heels of that:

What if there isn’t?

Michael stopped in his tracks. His heart quickened.

I have to tell someone.

A low hissing sound snapped him back to reality. Michael jerked back, looking down, and saw that a Seviper was curled up in the grass, its body as black as polished wire. Its diamond-shaped head was resting on its side, and it looked up at him with venom-red eyes, unmoving.

Michael stepped around the snake and continued on his walk, though he thought back to it for a few minutes afterward. He had never seen Hoenn pokémon here before, except…

He let the thought drift away unfinished. Already, his eyes were scanning the park, searching for the familiar baseball cap among the sea of heads that swarmed around him. At first, Michael saw nothing, but then his eyes alighted upon the park’s front gate. The doors were taller than the rest of the fence, and wrought in an elegant, curved design. They were open, and the familiar attendant’s booth stood right in the middle, dividing the road in two.

There was a small amount of people passing in and out of the park with their pokémon. From the distance, Michael picked out the man in the red cap among them, though he stood with his back turned. He appeared to be having a conversation with the park attendants, who was distinguished by his striped uniform.

Rather than approaching, Michael stood by and waited for the man to leave. Their talk was interrupted by a few bursts of laughter, and then the man in the cap waved, turning back towards the path. It was Bobby.

The newsman didn’t recognize Michael till he had almost reached the place where he stood. Then, their eyes met, and a smile turned Bobby’s face. “Oh, hey. It’s you again. Mitchell—no, Michael. Right?”

Michael nodded. “Yep. How goes it?”

Bobby shrugged. “Same old stuff.” He looked down at the book Michael held, and chuckled. “Still researching for that battle of yours?”

“Yeah. My friend just won his battle, and mine’s tonight.”

“Nice. I haven’t been here too long, but I’ve seen a lot of trainers around town. They say the Gym’s pretty rough.”

“Well, I’m feeling lucky,” Michael said. “I’ve discovered something that probably no other trainer knows.”

A visible sign of interest crossed the newsman’s face. He rubbed his chin. “What do you mean by that?”

Michael smiled. “Are you still looking for a story?”

“Well yeah, we’re always looking for a story,” Bobby replied. “Why?”

“I’ve got one for you,” Michael said, tapping the spine of his book. “It’s something that will change your life. No, the world.”

Bobby’s eyes widened by the tiniest degree, and he took his hands out of his pockets. “I’m listening.”

Without much planning of words, Michael began to recount his tale. Starting from the moonstone and Clefairy, he narrated the whole of what he had read and observed, pulling what seemed like an endless sequence of things from his memory. Bobby’s expression remained neutral and businesslike as he listened to the outpour of words. At first, Michael was unsure at what he would say; when he finished his tale, the newsman stood still, saying nothing for a moment. And then, with a slight smile, Bobby held both palms up in front of him, like a film director pausing a scene at the end of a perfect take.

“Okay. So if you can take all that and type it up, and get it to me by tomorrow, I promise you it’ll be on the next issue of Sinnoh Post. Got that, kid?”

His breath caught in his throat, and for a moment, Michael could barely speak. “Done deal.”
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