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Chapter 27

The World Champion




          Wally sat back and relaxed against the grassy slope. In front of him, twelve pokegirls stood together, talking, sparring, and generally socializing. Beside him Nicholas did the same. “Last time, we didn’t even have a battle.” He gazed at where Morgana and Gwen were sitting together, and had been all night. “This time…”


          “This time, we showed everything we have,” Nicholas replied. “You’re an incredible tamer, Wally. If I want to believe I can beat Champion Stone, well, I have no choice but believe you can as well.”


          Wally laughed. “I don’t know about that. Before you got here I ran into May, Norman’s daughter from Petalburg. And she beat me. Sure, we did well, but it was a solid defeat. I figured if she was that good I needed more training. That’s when we found you.”


          “May’s here too?”




          “Holy crap.” Nicholas turned to the mingling pokegirls again as he processed what he’d just heard. “I guess that shouldn’t be surprising. She’s a gym leader’s daughter, probably been training and learning for years.”


          “All I know is that harem of hers was incredible,” Wally replied. “Hell, she’s probably facing Champion Stone today. Maybe as we speak.”


          Nicholas sighed and settled back a bit more. “He was afraid of that, you know. That he’d be handing over his title soon.”


          “I think May would make a good Champion,” Wally said. “She’s really strong.”


          Nicholas nodded. Then after a few seconds he glanced over. Wally was blushing a bit and he smiled, returning his attention to his harem. Young love. That had been him, once. Unable to confess to the woman he loved because he felt inadequate. “Wally, let me tell you something. She’s strong, yes. But you are too. You are just as strong as she is. Even if she beats you, over, and over, in every pokegirl battle you have, you are still strong. I mean, there can only ever be one Champion. Whether that’s you or her doesn’t matter. One of you has to be better than the other.”


          Wally lowered his eyes. “I… guess so.”


          “Well I know so,” Nicholas replied. “My girlfriend is strong too. And I used to think she was out of my reach. That I was too weak. She’s a Gym Leader, you see. In the Indigo League, almost every Gym Leader has defeated the Elite Four. Her included. So there I was, just some traveling tamer, and there she was, a tamer who had nearly attained the pinnacle of what could be achieved. What was I thinking, having feelings for someone like that?” Wally was fidgeting next to him as Nicholas let out a long sigh. “Eventually, I beat the Elite Four. I beat the Champion. I took that title for my own. And to my surprise, there she was. Waiting for me. She’d been waiting for me to say something all that time.” Nicholas smiled. “I never had to do what I did to win her heart. All I had needed to do was be honest.”


          “Um… What does that have to do with me?” Wally squeaked.


          Nicholas chuckled and reached over to buck his shoulder. “Sorry. I got carried away a bit. I’m just trying to relate to how you feel. About how strong May is, I mean.”


          Wally swallowed. “Right.”


          “Anyways.” Nicholas looked up at the rising sun. “I promised Steven that I’d be taking his title by lunch, so I think I need to get going.”


          “Right… good luck.” Wally stood with Nicholas and shook his hand. “Thanks again for the battle.”


          “Thank you,” Nicholas replied. “I think all of our pokegirls learned something from it. It was good training.” He glanced over at where Morgana and Gwen were sitting. “We’ll have to find time for them to visit. I’ve got a Feraligatr whose best friend is a Meganium from Johto, so I’m well accustomed to traveling to give my pokegirls what they need.”


          Wally nodded. “Gwen will be happy to hear that.”


          “I know Morgana will be too.” Nicholas shook Wally’s hand again. “If I don’t see you again soon, Wally, be well. You’re an incredible young man.” He smiled. “There’s definitely more to you than meets the eye.”


          His harem broke away when they heard Nicholas call for them, Morgana trailing the others as she had taken a few extra seconds to give her sister a goodbye kiss. Soon they were back on the main road and Nicholas was leading them towards a towering ornate building covered in gables.


          It was impossible to see where the building ended as they approached from below, though its impressive height was easy to see. Nicholas estimated that there could have been dozens of floors to the castle above them, though as they approached the similarly massive front doors he began to suspect that there might be somewhere closer to five – depending on how much space each Elite Four took for their arena.


          The lobby they entered hinted to what they would be witnessing inside, as the ceiling was nearly thirty feet above their heads, walls plastered with art and twinkling windows that streamed the mid-morning sunlight throughout. Nicholas ignored the nurse’s counter and walked straight for the guarded double doors across from them. The harem had already been healed up last night, at the regularly sized pokecenter in the small town around the league building itself. They were ready. After the fight with Wally the day before he could feel the suppressed energy from each of his pokegirls.


          The guards stopped them before he could enter the doors and Nicholas was already pulling out his badges as they spoke. “Welcome to the Hoenn Elite Four, tamer. Only those who have shown mastery over the Hoenn League are permitted past this point.”


          “I have bested every gym in the region,” Nicholas replied, opening his badge compartment and showing it to the guards. “I challenge Champion Stone.”


          “To reach the Champion, you must first best the Elite Four,” the guard replied. “Only one challenger may enter at a time. Scan your pokedex at the door, and if you are allowed to continue, the doors will open.”


          Nicholas closed the compartment and stepped forwards. But when he scanned his pokedex, the scanner blinked yellow and nothing happened.


          Nicholas blinked and tried again and again the scanner blinked yellow. “What’s going on? I have all eight badges.”


          “The previous tamer may still be inside,” one of the guards said to the other.


          “Surprising. For her to have been in there this long…” the other raised an eyebrow. “Will we have a new Champion?”


          Nicholas felt his harem shuffling about behind him. A new Champion. He’d come for Steven Stone, but Wally had said May was here. He looked around the room. He didn’t see the girl anywhere. “What happens if the current challenger claims the title before I have a chance?”


          “There will be a short time where challengers are not accepted, after which the new Champion will take over,” one of the guards replied. “If you wish, you may wait here.”


          Nicholas shook his head and scanned his pokedex again. Again, yellow. “No thanks. I didn’t come here to become the Hoenn Champion.” He scanned again. “I came here to prove that I am more than that.”


          The two guards were obviously well trained and likely had seen hundreds of boasting tamers pass through before, but even still when they heard Nicholas’ confident statement they both broke from their controlled positions to look at him with raised eyebrows.


          About half an hour passed by with Nicholas checking the scanner over and over. But finally, when he went to scan, the light blinked green.


          His harem quickly came to attention when the double doors clicked and began swinging open on their own. Nicholas immediately shoved inside, the others following as he walked up a short flight of stairs.


          They emerged into an absolutely massive room. It appeared as if the entire floorplan and, as Nicholas had guessed, about fifty feet of height, had gone into an environment, not even the arena itself. Sand flowed like water around them, a light wind blowing glittering golden dust across a long bridge that stretched out from where they stood to a smaller shrine building in the center of the room. When Nicholas stepped onto the bridge he felt a slight vibration and waterfalls of gold fell around him, picking up light from the shrine and scattering it to illuminate the entire sea of shifting sand.


          As Nicholas continued along the path the doors of the shrine cracked open, beckoning him forwards and when he finally stepped through he entered a brown tiled room, spotlights blinking around the edges and casting dancing shadows throughout the arena.


          There was a man lounging back in a small black chair near the center of the room and when Nicholas came into view he stretched, getting to his feet and grabbing the chair back to swing it around in front of him. “So you’re finally here.” He grinned, propping one foot up on the seat and leaning on the back. “I like that look you’re giving me, Nicholas Topolski. I think you’ll give me a good match.”


          “I don’t believe we’ve met,” Nicholas called. “How do you know my name?”


          “Oh, please. You of all people should know all the little tricks. You scanned your pokedex to get in here, remember?” the man asked.


          Nicholas chuckled. “Right. I suppose I did.”


          “Name’s Sidney,” the man said. “I’m the bouncer here, you see. A former delinquent who cares about nothing but having a good time. Hearing all about you from Steven has got me all excited.” He grinned when Nicholas smiled. “Good! You’re looking real good there, Topolski. What say we enjoy a battle that can only be staged here in the Pokegirl League?”


          “I think it’d be my pleasure,” Nicholas replied.


          “HA!” Sidney shot upright, his chair clattering as it fell and the man used his foot to send it crashing against one of the walls. “No holds barred, Indigo Champion. One on one.”


          Nicholas blinked as Sidney began retreating to the far wall. “One on one?”


          “Key Stones aren’t as rare as you might believe,” Sidney replied, finally reaching the wall and pulling out a pokeball. “It’s a secret, sure. But we all have them. We all have the power to protect this dangerous League.” Sidney triggered the pokeball and Nicholas was surprised to see an Absol appear. With all the sand, he’d been expecting a Rock or Ground-type. “I want to see your POWER, Champion. Come on.”


          Nicholas pondered the waiting Absol. Elaine was the obvious choice. With her flames she’d scatter the shadows the Absol attempted to form. “Elaine…”


          Elaine started to step forwards but was forced to stop when a white-furred arm blocked her path.


          “Master, please allow me.”


          Nicholas turned. Midna gazed back at him. “Midna?”


          “May I be honest, Master?” Midna asked. When Nicholas nodded she awkwardly rubbed her arm. “I am not worthy of being your follower.”


          Nicholas did his best to keep from looking bewildered. He had absolutely no idea why Midna was saying this or where she was going next. “And?”


          “I… am praying you will show me what I need,” Midna said. “Miyuki, Ryuko, they serve you like I see Aster serve… Her. But I do not understand yet what they have, and what I lack. Truthfully, that is why I hid away during our time on that island. I feel I am… unworthy.”


          Nicholas waved Elaine away. “And you’re admitting all of this to me now, right now, because an Absol like you is standing over there and you are afraid that if you can not overcome her, you will never overcome yourself.”


          Midna slowly looked up. “…Yes, Master. I am afraid.”


          Elaine lay her hand on Midna’s shoulder. “Do not be afraid,” she said softly. “To serve our Master, all you must be is strong for him. That is all he asks.”


          Nicholas nodded. “And I ask, Midna. I do not demand. Miyuki and Ryuko, they are strong in their devotion, but they were not always that way. Ryuko once believed herself unworthy of being my servant, just as you believe now. For different reasons, perhaps, but she became the way she is now by abandoning her fear. Miyuki, she was once just as afraid. Until she accepted herself, and became my High Priestess, she did not even believe she was worthy of being in my harem. Because they abandoned their fear of being undeserving they have gained everything.”


          The hairs on the back of Nicholas’ neck began to rise when Midna locked her eyes on his. “Is it truly that simple? Am I choosing to be afraid?”


          “Miyuki and Ryuko, they have surrendered entirely to me in a way not even Elaine can understand,” Nicholas replied. He glanced at the Blaziken. “Well, should understand. I kind of like you just the way you are, Elaine.” He looked back to Midna. “If you are truly willing to join them, Midna, you must do the same. This is what I told Ryuko: ‘You cannot have it both ways. Either I am what you believe me to be, or I am not. Either what you believe in has chosen you, or you are unworthy.’” Nicholas moved closer to her. “I have chosen you, Midna. Whether Miyuki and Ryuko are powerful because of their devotion or have become powerful to strengthen their devotion is besides the point. The only thing that matters… is whether you truly believe.”


          Midna’s breathing was growing heavier. “You are… my god. The goddess I revered, in a human body. My Master’s body.” Her lips curled back and she laughed, laughed, spreading her arms as she basked in the freedom his words had given her. “It is true. And so why was I afraid?”


          Nicholas nodded. He felt her heartbeat begin to echo in his soul, just as he had discovered Ryuko and Miyuki’s as his training with Zinnia progressed. “There is nothing for you to conquer, Midna. That Absol over there is nothing.”


          “Then let me erase her, Master,” Midna breathed. Her head was still tilted back slightly as shivers spread through her body. “I wish to do so for you.”


          Nicholas chuckled softly and stepped aside. “I believe I will accept the sacrifice you offer me, Midna.”


          “Finally!” Sidney laughed when Midna stepped into the arena. “Let’s get our most EXCELLENT battle underway!”


          “There will be no battle,” Midna breathed to herself, but the Absol across from her caught her whisper and began to scowl.


          Sidney manipulated a control panel on the wall next to him and the arena barrier sprang to life. Nicholas watched as it seemed to solidify even more than he was used to. “Taking precautions, huh?”


          “Can never be too careful with mega pokegirls,” Sidney replied. He raised his left hand, pressing the fingers of his right to the golden wristwatch there. “One pokegirl! TKO! BEGIN!”


          When Midna emerged from the shimmering energy her eyes shone with joy, a stark contrast to the Absol in front of Sidney, who almost looked like she was going to be sick. “What kind of monster are you?” she snarled at Midna.


          Nicholas took in Midna’s new form as she spread her arms… then something more. A lot had changed about the Absol and the most obvious were the wings of white fur that stretched out behind her. “I… no longer see death,” she said in reply, her voice remaining low and soft even as the words she spoke sent shivers through the listening crowd. “Now, I am the one who brings it. I am the disaster all others fear.”


          Nicholas marveled at what Midna had become. The white wings that curved over her shoulders were one thing, and the fur covering her had extended, in a similar way to Elaine’s mega form’s feathers, but more striking was her bladed tail and horn. Her tail had extended, gaining a few spines in the process, and her horn now jutted from both sides of her head. Though, the curved blade that had been there before seemed to have gotten larger, while the protrusion opposite to it was only as large as her horn had been.


          Her hands and feet, too, had gotten larger, though it might have been an illusion as the fur of her arms and legs had grown over them. Peeking from the white were deep black claws and finally, as Midna turned ever so slightly Nicholas could see that her bangs had grown down the side of her face with the smaller horn. As he watched she lifted her hair away, stowing it behind her horn so that her laughing, baleful red eyes could focus on Sidney’s Absol.


          “Monster,” the girl hissed again, crouching as something ominous began to shimmer across her wings. Nicholas felt only dread when he looked at the energy she was building. “MONSTER! YOU MUST BE PURGED!”


          Every figure within that room froze in place. Sidney’s Absol had been in the process of flapping her wings and even she was completely still, her eyes widening in fear as Midna’s own wings began dancing with a dark power. “You think you can affect me with that pitiful display?” Midna murmured. Sidney staggered back as Midna’s intent washed through the room, and with an indifferent flick of her wings the mega Absol sent the energy streaming towards her opponent.


          Nicholas felt sweat beading across his face as the space within the arena barrier filled with a dark cloud. He could hear Sidney’s Absol screaming and he sank to his knees, scrubbing at his skin in an effort to bring warmth back. He felt cold. So, so cold.


          Sidney had collapsed just like Nicholas, though he likely felt the effects even more strongly since his pokegirl was the one being targeted. Still, he was able to choke out a command or two as Midna walked towards his Absol. She, on the other hand, was gone. Midna had all the time in the world to form her blades, cocking her head as she contemplated the best place to strike the still screaming pokegirl. Neck, chest, stomach, she ended up dismissing them all and placed her new claws against the Absol’s neck. Red spurted from where Midna cut into the girl’s skin and very quickly Sidney’s Absol was covered in her own blood, gushing out of where Midna had severed her carotid on both sides.


          The girl’s scream trailed off into a gurgling note as her brain began to be starved of oxygen and she dropped quickly, random spasms shaking her body before she went completely still.


          Sidney gasped, scrambling to his feet and desperately recalling his Absol before she could die from her wounds. Finally Nicholas felt the heat returning to his body and he forced himself upright, raising his eyes to see Midna glancing back at him.


          The mega Absol was smiling happily. Blood had soaked into the fur of her feet and a bit had gotten onto her arms, and she made no move to exit the pool that spread around her. No words passed between them, but none were needed. Midna had not promised him a fight. She had promised him an offering. An offering to her god.


          Nicholas released the transformation and immediately recalled her before she could speak. Sidney’s Absol had been completely lost in her own terror. That was Midna. That was the servant he had awoken today.


          And yet, he found a reason to smile. If Miyuki would have been thrilled before, he couldn’t wait to see her reaction when she finally met Midna.


          Sidney had staggered over to his chair and gotten it back upright before sinking down, his eyes wild. He glanced up when Nicholas approached. “Heh… Hurry up and get out of here, Topolski. The others are waiting for you, and they’re not as weak as I am.”


          Nicholas smiled and clapped the panting man on the shoulder. “I’m sorry we didn’t have our battle.”


          “It was lost the moment your Absol walked forwards. Normally their fear aura is relatively weak, something the strong-willed can withstand. Something that’s more of a test than an attack.” He winced. “See, its power is dependent on the girl’s will to fight. Your Absol is not normal. We never stood a chance.”


          “Still.” Nicholas stepped back. “I feel bad they didn’t get a chance to actually battle one another.”


          “Then come back some time,” Sidney replied. “When you do, we won’t surrender so easily.”


          Nicholas nodded. Turning, he walked to the exit, leaving Sidney sitting by himself in an empty room.


          The far door brought them back into the wide open space and the path soon turned, beginning to climb as they passed into a small corridor that hid Sidney’s room from view. After a while the walls opened again to reveal a deep void separating Nicholas from the next. Lavender hung over the bridge and as Nicholas walked forwards spectral lilies floated out of the darkness until the entire void had been filled with translucent white and purple flowers.


          This time the tamer ahead was waiting when Nicholas entered and she curtsied. “Hehehe! Welcome, Champion Topolski. I am Phoebe.”


          “The pleasure is mine,” Nicholas replied. “I like the sarong.”


          Phoebe brightened and twirled, her blue floral skirt flaring out as she did. “You do! Granny said you had good taste. She was always good at reading people.”


          Nicholas blinked. “Your grandmother? I’ve met her?”


          “Not exactly,” Phoebe replied. “She said she saw you on the mountain a few weeks ago. She couldn’t stop talking about the tamer that had appeared, blazing with an emerald light.” She giggled. “You made a lasting impression on her, you see. I’ve been excited to meet you ever since.”


          “On the mountain…” Nicholas trailed off. Phoebe was older than him, so her grandmother would have to be ancient. “I’m terribly sorry, but I have no idea when I could have met her. Maybe she meant someone else?”


          “I told you. You never saw her,” Phoebe replied. “She’s dead.”


          Realization dawned. “Mt. Pyre.”


          “That’s right.” Phoebe sank into a deep curtsy. “I am a daughter of the mountain. I have spent most of my life training among the spirits, and through my training I gained the ability to commune with the ghosts that call it home. Ghost-type pokegirls are not much different.” When she straightened back up Nicholas could see flickering eyes hovering around her. “I offer you the same challenge as Sidney. Do you think you can even touch my Alpha?”


          Midna was out of the picture. Her shadows would have been invaluable here, but without them Nicholas had to figure out a different way to fight ghosts. He’d witnessed their power in Johto, through Morty’s harem and Ashlyn, the Gengar that hung around with Sabrina.


          Thinking of Sabrina threatened to distract him but it also gave him an idea and he grinned. “Morgana. You’re up.”


          Morgana shifted nervously. “Master, I have nightmares about Ghost-types. They’re as bad as Dark-types in regards to my psychic power.”


          “Bea, Elaine, and Marin all are physical fighters,” Nicholas replied. “Aria could probably take this fight but I want to keep her fresh. I’ve heard rumors that the leader of this Elite Four is a dragon master just like Lance.” He turned to give her a reassuring smile. “You’re more than just a psychic, Morgana. If Phoebe is saying her pokegirl will be impossible to touch then I’d be a fool to send someone who fights directly.”


          Morgana blinked a few times before nodding. “I am not what I pretend to be.”


          Nicholas patted her arm as she moved into the arena. “Midna had to overcome herself to fight.” He watched Morgana settle in, her dress swishing as it came to rest. “I believe in you, Morgana.”


          “Big, big, hehehe,” Phoebe was stepping backwards but something had remained behind and as the shadowy pokegirl faded into view the gemstones crusted across her skin glittered. She grinned, cocking her head at Morgana and scrabbling sideways as she surveyed the Gardevoir. “Is it tasty? Is it?”


          Morgana raised a hand to cover her necklace when she saw the Sableye’s gaze lock onto it. By now Phoebe had exited the arena and she hit the controls, causing the barrier to come to life. “One pokegirl, TKO! Begin!”


          The light that shone from the Sableye was blinding since it refracted dozens of times across her skin. Somewhere in the jumble was a Mega Stone, though Nicholas didn’t identify it before she transformed. Not that it really mattered.


          Morgana was emerging, shaking out her hair and beginning to form her gown, when a loud thud echoed through the room.


          Chattering laughter could be heard as Phoebe’s Sableye came back into view. Her body hadn’t changed much, though like all mega evolutions Nicholas could see how her features had ‘expanded’ slightly. The thud, however, had come from the towering gemstone the Sableye now held.


          The girl laughed again and pressed up behind her gem. “Big.” She peeked back out and grinned, displaying a mouth of razor-sharp teeth. “Can’t get me!”


          Morgana immediately tested that statement by launching a barrage of energy that sent the Sableye back behind her gem. The semi-translucent stone warped the cackling girl’s features as Morgana’s attack sprayed harmlessly in every direction but the one she had been aiming in. In an instant the Sableye spun, easily lifting her gem and slamming it back down in front of where Morgana had just teleported. Another attack was scattered as Morgana scowled and the chattering Sableye flipped around the arena as she easily blocked every attempt Morgana made at sneaking around the impenetrable shield.


          Morgana panted as she stared at the hiding Sableye. After a few minutes of all-out attacks she seemed to be losing some steam and had been focused completely on her waiting opponent for a couple long seconds now. Behind her gem the Sableye sat, still grinning.


          Unseen by anyone but Phoebe, a piece of the Sableye’s shadow warped slightly.


          Morgana started walking and the Sableye shifted, causing Morgana to come to a halt again with an angry growl. A small blast shot from her hand to splash against the gem and she shifted her aim, probing the shield with various types of energy. After a few seconds, the shadow under her feet began to solidify.


          Morgana could still see the Sableye behind the gem so she was caught completely by surprise when the girl appeared beneath her gown. She screamed and threw herself to the ground, revealing the snickering Sableye and her blood-stained teeth. Morgana whimpered as she tried to put pressure on the lacerations across her inner thighs, curling up as the Sableye dropped to all fours and began stalking the wounded Gardevoir. Behind her gem the shadowy clone she had left behind dissolved and Nicholas clenched his fists tightly. A quick sneak attack had turned the dynamic of this battle completely on its head.


          …Or, maybe it hadn’t. As the Sableye got closer Morgana’s gown suddenly vanished, leaving the Gardevoir nude but more importantly, revealing that the hands she had been supposedly using to clutch her wounds were pressed together between her legs. Crackling energy had formed around them and the Sableye went from the stalking predator to the helpless prey when Morgana revealed her own sneak attack. She tried to leap for her gem, her feet deforming as they slid into her shadow, but Morgana’s trap was sprung. The girl screamed in agony when the hard energy slammed into her back, sinking into her body a few inches before the orb exploded with an ear-shattering blast.


          Morgana dabbed at the blood oozing from her legs as the Sableye bounced off her gem, knocked unconscious from the blast and the impact as she had slammed into her own shield. With a pop the gemstone shrank, dropping on the Sableye’s head as Phoebe recalled her unconscious pokegirl. Nicholas similarly recalled Morgana when he saw her fail to support herself on her injured legs and moved forwards to where Phoebe waited.


          “Oh, darn.” Phoebe giggled. “I’ve gone and lost. Tricksy, aren’t you, Champion Topolski.”


          “Morgana plays the helpless damsel quite well, I do admit,” Nicholas replied. “I fell for it myself.”


          Phoebe twirled away. “On the bright side, I had a chance to use this anklet of mine. Thanks to you, the bond between me and my Alpha has gotten even stronger.” She twisted back with a smile. “Thank you, Nicholas.”


          Nicholas smiled back as Phoebe continued away from him and turned to the door. Two down.


          He felt the next floor long before the hall opened up. Deathly cold air was seeping down the stairs and when he stepped onto the bridge to the next room he could see snow and icicles covering every inch of it. The air around him was full of glittering snowflakes.


          Halfway across he covered his face as a flurry of snow blew down the path and he gasped when ice crackled across the slightly damp bridge, freezing everything solid. Gingerly he kept moving forwards until he was stepping into the third Elite Four’s room.


          It was beyond obvious what type of pokegirl he’d find here and he was already edging towards Elaine’s flames as the woman inside bowed. “Welcome, Champion. I am Glacia.”


          “Thanks for the… cold welcome,” Nicholas joked, and sighed in relief when the stony-faced woman cracked a smile. “I assume you want the same thing the others did?”


          “A one on one? Oh yes,” Glacia replied. She shifted the belt holding her puffy dress to her body. “It is not often I have a serious battle. Almost all tamers fall to me, unable to handle the cold that freezes even the blazing fires of this land. Will you do any better?”


          Nicholas shivered when Elaine stepped away from him. The chill had instantly snuck in. “Our flames are not of ‘this land’ alone.”


          Glacia procured a pokeball from somewhere with a joyous laugh. “Oh, it will please me to no end to go all-out against you, Indigo Champion!”


          The pokegirl Glacia released had skin as black as Midna’s but her eyes were a frosty blue instead of red. In addition, she had a pair of craggy black horns sprouting from her scalp to give the girl a demonic appearance which was further enhanced by the glistening crystalline ice lattice that covered her body like armor.


          “I have long been waiting for a tamer with a burning hot soul!” Glacia cried as the arena barrier activated. “Can you oppose a mega evolution that freezes EVERYTHING?”


          Her question was answered by Elaine’s transformation. The very act of it tripled the temperature of Nicholas’ side of the arena and he breathed easier when her roaring flames obliterated the creeping chill. Glacia’s Glalie transformed to match her and in a similarly explosive way her ice filled her side of the arena to stop Elaine’s heat from making it any farther.


          The Glalie’s exhalations were pure white as she settled down, glittering pieces of ice falling to the ground around her from the complete cold she radiated. After mega evolving her pair of black horns had cracked and swollen, pulsating blue cores of ice breaking through in a few places, as well as having burst through the Glalie’s forehead to add a third, purely ice blue horn to the mix. In addition the crystalline lattice that had woven across her skin before was now much, much more solid. Covering her completely in armor save for, strangely, the Glalie’s lower jaw and most of her neck, though there were white ridges extending from her collarbone in front of her exposed skin. Nicholas dismissed this peculiar arrangement as something that gave the girl greater freedom of movement.


          Which, he was technically correct about. As Glacia called for the battle to start, her pokegirl opened her mouth. And kept opening it. Her lower jaw unhinged, swinging down to come to rest on the white ridges, as from her gaping maw came an avalanche of snow.


          Nicholas had never been more thankful that the pokegirls in front of him were contained within a forcefield than at this very moment. He’d witnessed the terrible power of mega evolution first hand, that wasn’t new. But until now, most attacks these overcharged pokegirls had fired, or techniques they had activated, had been directed. His place as a bystander had never been one that put him in complete danger. That had all just changed.


          Because as the Glalie had sought to bury Elaine in snow, something which in itself would have threatened him standing behind her, Elaine had countered by diving headfirst into the rushing avalanche.


          Immediately the water around her flashed to steam and an explosion rocked the entire room. The snow that hadn’t vaporized was sent rocketing in every conceivable direction and in an instant the entire shape of the arena’s forcefield had been revealed as it appeared to turn into a giant white cube. Seeing inside was impossible. All that could be heard from the endless white were the roars of the two pokegirls, and continuous explosions as Elaine flashed more and more snow to steam.


          Within the raging blizzard that the Glalie was creating Elaine continued pursuing her opponent. The girl seemed to slip away from her every time she got close and for some reason as Elaine finally seemed to get within range to strike, her blazing kick extinguished inches away from the Ice-type. Elaine quickly retreated when this happened and reignited, blowing through the latest flurry as she considered what had happened.


          The Glalie grunted when she heard Elaine begin to laugh. Another explosion as the Blaziken threw herself back into view and now the Glalie could see pure, unfiltered joy in her opponent’s eyes. Joy, from a Fire-type. She had never seen such a thing. Her cold extinguished even the brightest of flames that came before her. Even this one was no different. The near-perfect chill of her body froze the very oxygen in the air around her, robbing this Blaziken’s flames of fuel in the same moment that the cold robbed them of the heat they needed to persist. So why was she laughing?


          Elaine laughed and kicked again, her eyes widening in glee when she watched her foot go out right before it slammed into the Glalie’s arm. The girl tumbled away, easily catching herself and chuckling back as Elaine tried to land on her striking foot. Elaine’s leg buckled and she tumbled, the skin that had contacted the Glalie’s body shattering on impact. In that single instant, Elaine’s body had frozen.


          And still Elaine laughed. Her injured foot reignited and she threw herself forwards, the little blood that she lost flashing to steam as her flames cauterized her wound and even though the skin was gone, and her toes could hardly move, thanks to the loss of several tendons, she still moved as if nothing was wrong. And once again she threw a kick.


          The Glalie let her. If this foolish pokegirl wanted to break her body, piece by piece, she would let her. But this time, as Elaine’s injured foot came closer, the flames did not stop, and before the Glalie could make a move a ball of fire swept through her precious ice.


          Elaine felt the absolute cold sever all feeling in her foot when it passed directly into the Glalie’s unhinged mouth, and the constant stream of ice flowing from it, but she could see it still burning. It was burning. Not her energy, focused there, but the flesh itself, providing the fuel and body heat her flames needed to overcome the Glalie’s aura. And with one last, final motion, she shoved the frozen limb straight into the back of the Glalie’s throat.

          It was lucky for the Glalie that the explosion that was set off there had a very easy path out her open mouth, which kept it from tearing her head apart. Even still, the flames and shockwave were more than enough to rob her of her strength in one shot.


          Elaine fell, her fingers clutching the stump of her leg as her brain finally began to process pain. She did not scream. It hurt, that was for sure. But compared to what she felt flowing through her, what she felt fueling her flames as she roared in triumph and the snow coating the arena began quickly melting away, this pain was nothing. As the snow cleared, Nicholas gazed at a gloriously burning Blaziken. A phoenix who had been beaten, and broken, and burnt to ash, before rising once again as a juggernaut of flame.


          Even Glacia was gazing at her in awe, even after recalling her unconscious Glalie. Slowly, she began to laugh.


          “Ah-ha-ha-ha!” Glacia spread her arms in ecstasy as Nicholas finally recalled Elaine and moved towards the far door. “You, and your pokegirl… how fiercely your spirits burn! My ice was nothing, NOTHING in the face of such all-consuming flames! Go, Champion! You have more than earned the right to advance to the next room.” She lowered her eyes back to Nicholas with a grin. “There, you will learn how fearsome this pokegirl league can truly be.”


          Nicholas barely nodded as he left. Something ahead was calling to him, now. Something that caused the dragon within him to come to the surface. He was focused on only one thing – the stairs beneath his feet and, when he reached the next floor, the massive draconic skull placed above the door in front of him.


          Deep in the shadows of this room were thousands of large spikes. Dragon’s fangs, perhaps, but Nicholas barely even acknowledged them. None of them were real. Decoration, to scare any tamer who managed to make it this far. Even the skull, which seemed to belch fire as he got closer, was for show. The power he could feel waiting beyond was not.


          There was a man waiting for him inside, wearing a boat captain’s jacket and a scowl. “Welcome, so-called Lorekeeper.”


          Nicholas came to a halt and without prompting Aria stepped in front of him. “I don’t believe we’ve met.”


          “Champion Stone has told me all about you,” the man replied. “I am Drake. Leader of this Elite Four, and dragon master of the Draconid Clan.”


          “I suppose it’s inevitable that those like us always rise to the top,” Nicholas replied. “In Indigo I faced Lance. Here, I face you.”


          “And you will go no further,” Drake replied. “I do not recognize an outsider whose presence has caused the death of our Mistress, no matter what I am told. Lady Zinnia was flawed, but she was attempting to live up to Aster’s legacy. You are unworthy of taking her place.”


          “Rayquaza entrusted the future of this world to humanity, when she first granted us our power,” Nicholas replied. “She did so again a few weeks ago. Zinnia chose to believe I would honor Aster’s legacy as she never could.” He locked eyes with Drake as the man began to snarl. “I believe she was wrong. If our positions had been swapped, she would have honored the ones who came before her. But, they are not. Instead I am the one who must live up to the eons of history, while she forges her own, new, legacy.”


          “As a pokegirl.” Drake spat. “As your pokegirl. Perhaps that is what angers me so much. I can never understand what caused our Mistress to curse Zinnia like this.”


          Nicholas frowned. “Curse?”


          “Yes. Curse. In their natural state, pokegirls are wild living things. They are free.” Drake slouched back, his body language showing clearly how he was holding himself back from running out to punch Nicholas in the face. “At times, they hinder us. At times, they help us. As Draconids, we seek to control the most powerful of them. But they are not meant to be controlled.” He ripped a pokeball from under his coat and triggered it, a bristling Salamence materializing in front of him. “I battle with pokegirls as my partners. Do you know what that takes, Nicholas Topolski? Do you understand what is needed? I doubt it. If you did, you would not have placed her soul in chains.”


          “What if I told you,” Nicholas said, holding out a hand to stay Aria, “that, while Zinnia is now a pokegirl, she is more free than ever before? Yes, I admit that she is no longer human. Yes, I admit that she is ‘my pokegirl’, and has called me Master. But she became what she is now through Rayquaza’s power. A final gift, not a curse.” Nicholas lowered his hand now to let Aria join in. “That gift has freed Zinnia from the chains she bore. You do not, and may never understand who Zinnia is. That is her curse, and my own.” Nicholas smiled. “The curse of the Lorekeeper.”


          “My Lord need not listen to your ravings any longer,” Aria said haughtily. “He is the one chosen. You are nothing in comparison.”


          “Peace, Aria,” Nicholas chided. “Drake has valid concerns. I am sure he is frightened by what has happened to Zinnia. After all, humanity believes themselves the ones in control.” Drake began growling when Nicholas turned his eyes on him with that same smile. “But some of us… we understand the truth, even if we do not wish to admit it. We were created for pokegirls, not the other way around.”


          “Tch!” Drake threw his hand forwards. “Adalinda! Show this upstart whelp the truth. Show him the power we share as equals.” Drake finally regained his own smile as the metal pokeball on his cap began to glow. “If you do not understand this truth you will never defeat us!”


          “I was created to serve, my Lord,” Aria murmured as her head bowed and her own mega evolution began. “That is the truth, is it not?”


          Nicholas breathed out as his energy flowed into her. No. No, it was not. He was no better than Aria. And, in that way, Drake was correct. Humans and Pokegirls were equal. Aria believed she existed to serve him, as her human Master. And in a way she was correct as well – humanity held sway over pokegirls. But they both were also wrong. He knew, because he’d heard it all from the ones who were there. The ones who had witnessed creation, and knew of these things with certainty. The eternal ones were what pokegirls could have been. But instead their creator had marred their perfection, and through Mew had created imperfect pokegirls. Pokegirls that needed humans to complete them, and weak humans, who in turn drew power from their partners.


          That was the truth. Pokegirls and humans were two halves of a broken whole. If Drake didn’t understand that, then he pitied the man. Because he knew how to complete Aria.


          Drake grumbled under his breath when he saw the mega Altaria emerge. “The dragon that hunts dragons.” He shook his head and raised his voice. “Go, Adalinda! She seeks to nullify our power. Show it to them!”


          The mega Salamence shot into the air and in the blink of an eye was on top of Aria. Her claws slashed out but each attack was lost in Aria’s billowing feathers and she spun away when Aria retaliated with a slash of her own.


          “POWER!” Drake roared, the glow from his Key Stone growing brighter. “SHOW THEM OURS!”


          Adalinda was moving in slow motion to Aria. The entire world around her seemed… different, somehow, and though her eyes could not see as Adalinda’s legs tucked underneath her to give her a more streamlined appearance, she still ‘saw’ it happen. Because Nicholas did.


          She and her Lord were one. Aria dodged backwards when Adalinda began moving towards her but her body was moving just as slowly as Adalinda had been. Slower, even. She felt a moment of frustration sweep over her before it was absorbed by his presence and instead her lips began to curl into a smile.


          Aria controlled the air. But at this moment, her control was broken. Adalinda roared and flashed forwards in a twister of biting wind, her entire body beginning to glow as she gathered energy. The reckless attack hit hard. Blood squirted through Aria’s smile as Adalinda crushed her body, though the Salamence didn’t escape unscathed. She had led with the crown of her head and on impact her scalp had split open, her own blood spraying through the air as her neck compressed. Still, Aria was the one much worse for wear as Adalinda tumbled away to nurse her bruises.


          She tumbled straight in front of eyes blazing with fury. Aria’s pupils had become consumed by red, the energy also suffusing her body as she struck back. Adalinda didn’t get another chance. Two strikes from Aria’s glowing wings smashed the Salamence into the floor and she followed it up by rearing back, her voice stalling on a piercing high note before a storm of energy consumed Adalinda.


          To the Salamence’s credit, when Aria’s attack cleared and the Altaria slumped, struggling to fly straight, she stirred. She managed to push herself up on one arm, but couldn’t get her head to move enough to focus on her opponent. After about a minute even that gave out and she dropped back to the broken floor.


          Both recalled their pokegirls and Nicholas took a careful look at Drake. The man was staring at where Adalinda had lain and after a while he sighed.


          “Though I do not wish to say it, I must admit that you are more powerful than we are,” he said quietly. “You deserve every credit for making it here as a tamer. And… perhaps you do understand, what is needed to be truly strong.” He looked up again. “Perhaps I will never know. What it is, that made our Mistress recognize you. What made Zinnia… bow to you.” He gave Nicholas a wry smile. “You’re right. I am afraid. I have lived my life believing I am the most powerful. That my dragons, that they follow me because they see a dragon within me. Maybe they do. Maybe I am. But I know now that I am nothing compared to the Lorekeeper.” He bowed. “Champion… No, Lorekeeper Nicholas. By the relic you wear, and the Altaria you command, I recognize you. Go on. Champion Stone is waiting.”


          Drake looked up when he felt Nicholas take his shoulder. “I am sorry that I can not reveal the things that would put your mind at ease,” Nicholas said softly. “That is the curse of the Lorekeeper. To know the truth, to keep the truth, and to withhold the truth, if it would threaten the world. Did you know Zinnia well before she became a pokegirl?”


          “No. I am an old man. I knew Aster.” Drake chuckled to himself. “You speak like a Lorekeeper, that is for sure. Bah. I got a glimpse inside your heart just now, so there is nothing more for me to say.”


          Nicholas let go and stepped past, but not before saying one final thing. “She is different now, but she is still Zinnia. I’ll ask her to meet you, if you’d like?”


          Drake let out a deep sigh. “I’m not sure whether I would want that.”


          “I’ll ask her.” Nicholas rolled his shoulders and struck further out of the room. “She is no longer Lorekeeper. No longer sworn to hold the secrets I keep.”


          He left Drake staring after him, a maelstrom of emotion swirling across his face.


          As Nicholas walked a few things drifted through his thoughts. First and foremost was Aria’s easy victory. He knew she was strong, but it had seemed as if only her own draconic energy was having any effect during the battle. Adalinda had resorted to using the air to fuel her attack, not her own energy. As if it had no effect. As if…


          Nicholas blinked as memories of Lili, doing nothing to a tiny Sylveon, surfaced. It couldn’t be. Aria was a dragon. The pokedex said she was a Dragon/Flying-type. In her fight against Wally’s Altaria, both had used their draconic energy to harm the other.


          The difference was that this time, Aria had been mega evolved. Nicholas frowned. Pokegirls changed when they evolved through their primal energy. Could it be that they could change again through origin energy? It was something he was keen to investigate.


          Still, seeing her in battle had solidified his understanding of the two dragon clans he had met so far. The Blackthorns, water dragon masters of the Dragonair and Kingdra pokegirl lines, and the Draconids, air dragon masters of the Altaria and Salamence lines. What clan would he find next? And what dragons would they command?


          He smirked slightly. What dragons would he command?


          Nicholas turned a corner to see a shimmering steel staircase ahead of him. There was no room surrounding it this time, only spotlights illuminating every step. He was almost to the summit of this castle. He’d seen from outside how as the floors progressed higher they grew smaller, so he was expecting nothing but an arena when he reached Steven.


          That’s precisely what he found. A dark brown room with metal tiles covering the floor. Just as in Indigo there were a few rows of seats to either side, but they were empty. The arena, however, was not.


          Steven Stone was standing with a young woman who Nicholas recognized immediately. “Steven! May!”


          Steven looked up and May turned to greet Nicholas as he approached. “You certainly made good time,” Steven called with a smile. “The new Champion hasn’t even been inducted into the Hall of Fame yet.”


          “New Champion?” Nicholas looked at May. “You’ve done it? Congratulations.”


          May quickly shook her head. “I’m not being inducted. Champion Stone just keeps trying to get me to be.” She laughed. “Being Champion seems like too much work.”


          “It’s not often that a challenger will make their attempt without intending on claiming my title,” Steven replied. “You’re an interesting young woman, May.”


          “Yeah, well, I just think it’s a bit too early to be doing something like this,” May replied sheepishly. “I mean, I’m still young. You probably just went easy on me. I’m nowhere near your level.”


          Steven shook his head with a bemused smile. “If you say so.”


          “Plus, if I became Champion it’d become like a job… and then I’d be busy all the time…” May trailed off. “I wouldn’t get to hang out with friends, or… anything.”


          “Whatever the reason, you are perfectly entitled to decline the title,” Steven replied. “However you will have to rechallenge the full Elite Four if you ever change your mind.”


          May laughed. “I understand.”


          “The new generation, Topolski,” Steven called as he gestured at May. “But you, you’re here for one thing.”


          “Unlike May I want your title,” Nicholas replied. “Sure, I’ll just forfeit it immediately. But the whole point is to stand in every League’s hall of fame.”


          May scampered towards the stands and Steven nodded. “Unfortunately, my harem is still very drained from our battle with May. Would you be willing to postpone our battle?”


          Nicholas shook his head. “I told you that I’d hold your title by lunch. We’re already past that. I won’t delay any longer.”


          “Still, you must admit that this is hardly fair to me,” Steven protested.


          “As the challenger, that’s not my problem,” Nicholas replied. “It’s yours. But, I’ll make a proposal.” He glanced back. Only Marin and Bea were left now. “I’ve had to hold four different mega evolutions in the last hour or two. Your harem isn’t fresh; I am not fresh. So let’s do what all the others did.” He looked back. “One on one. Alpha on Alpha. Using all of the power we have available.”


          Steven smiled slightly. “We have a spectator.”


          “A gym leader’s daughter, and a tamer as powerful as either of us,” Nicholas replied. “She wouldn’t be the first member of the ‘new generation’ you talk about to learn of this power."


          “No, I suppose not.” Steven nodded. “Very well! I accept your terms. We will decide this with our Alphas.” He moved backwards to exit the far side of the arena. “Mother against daughter.”


          Though Bea and Tetsu were the same breed, the two pokegirls that took to that arena were entirely different. In front of Steven, Tetsu emerged from the mega evolution as a bristling pile of muscle. The exoskeleton she used had been absorbed into her body and turned the mega Metagross into a powerful juggernaut. On the other hand Bea remained more slender, and though her gauntlets, too, had been absorbed, they quickly rejoined her as psychic constructs which shimmered and split as they circled her body.


          “You should not have done this, my daughter.


          The humans watching saw one thing. The pokegirls within the arena saw another.


          “I’ve always said it, mother,” Bea replied. The two Metagross stood in a landscape formed entirely from their psychic energy. On the outside, they were just staring at each other. Inside, they held an entire conversation in less time than a heartbeat. “That I would take your position from you.


          “You should have stayed away.” Tetsu’s avatar began rippling as she focused more power. “I sent you away to save you. A part of me wishes to kill you. To remove what you could become.


          Bea’s eyes shimmered. “Part of me wishes to kill you. To remove an obstacle to what I will become.


          Both avatars were fluctuating now. Fading. “I am sorry, my child, Bea,” Tetsu’s voice said sadly. “Those parts of us are in control now.


          The mental landscape shattered as Bea’s final words drifted through the void. “I’m sorry too.


          The arena’s barrier had hardly formed when Bea attacked. Her constructs spun through the air, weaving back and forth ahead of the charging Metagross. Tetsu swung, shattering one and ignoring when another slammed into her cheek, bracing instead as Bea closed in, a shrill scream tearing from her throat.


          Energy exploded from the impact when she hit her mother, occult flames cloaking her body. But she had barely scratched Tetsu and as she took a step back, attempted to reset, Tetsu’s other arm came crashing down.


          Bea was driven to the floor hard enough that the arena floor shook. She quickly threw herself back up, using her psychic power to pick herself up just as much as her limbs, but she had hardly gotten a foot off the ground when Tetsu brought her original arm around as well and smashed Bea right back down. This time, as Bea’s skull hit, a small crack split at the impact point.


          Now it was Tetsu who had to reset, bringing her arms back in preparation, and in that moment of relief Bea was lunging upwards. Tetsu staggered back when light exploded from Bea’s fist and as Bea returned to Tetsu’s elevation her face was revealed. Her nose was a bloody mess, blood leaking from multiple lacerations across her face, but her eyes. They were not Bea’s eyes anymore. They were the eyes that Bea had found under Mt. Chimney. Something terrible and dark lived within them.


          Bea roared and her remaining constructs warped forwards. Tetsu howled when they drove into her body, staggering her for just long enough for Bea to wind up another strike. Shadow overtook the psychic power she had been using before and she screamed as she whipped her entire arm around, using its full length to strike Tetsu in the side of her head.


          Tetsu’s neck snapped sideways. Her body followed, and she recovered with a heavy roll as Bea was turning to follow her. Now it was not just Bea’s eyes that had changed, but her mother’s as well.


          Tetsu’s entire arm seemed to solidify as she cocked it back. Her flesh grew rigid, her joints clicking back mechanically. Bea was just turning to face her when Tetsu’s arm snapped out faster than any of the humans could comprehend. Bea was launched through the air, tumbling over and over as she hurtled towards the forcefield and an impact that would undoubtedly end her.


          If she hit. Tetsu was starting to catch her breath when her head snapped up. Bea was no longer flying backwards. Through sheer force of will, she had stopped her momentum entirely. Though her body must have sustained similar damage to actually impacting, Bea had stopped just feet from where Tetsu stood. And she struck back.


          This time it was Tetsu’s turn to crash backwards. Bea’s constructs were no longer formed of shimmering light. Her entire body bled shadow, her aura consumed in her hatred and rage. Though the occult flames still burned, they were barely visible amid the roiling black. And the differences between the two were highlighted. Tetsu’s power lay within her. Within a deadly body and unimaginable physical strength. Bea’s was bleeding out, unable or perhaps unwilling to be controlled by a mind that had long ago come to believe her own physical body was weak. So she did not rely on it, and chose instead to let her own power speak for itself.


          In that moment, millions of calculations were processed by the two pokegirls facing each other. Millions of thoughts were entertained. It was unfortunate that the rational side of Tetsu was only a passenger. If it hadn’t been, the Metagross would no doubt have smiled with pride.


          But, Tetsu was not there. Neither was Bea. Only their bodies, their tamers’ power, and their basest of instincts. And as Bea flew forwards, the shadows erupting from her beginning to bulk her body to a level equal to Tetsu’s stature, the older Metagross threw herself right into Bea’s face.


          Tetsu’s fingers burrowed into Bea’s skin and Bea didn’t hesitate; the instant Tetsu was in range she was striking. But her arms slammed to a halt far short of their targets. Tetsu’s were locked in between her, keeping Bea helpless. Though, Tetsu couldn’t strike from this position either.


          It wasn’t her intent to. Bea’s eyes widened as light erupted from every inch of Tetsu’s skin. She felt… power. Every ounce of Tetsu’s strength compressing into a single point. There was no way the other Metagross could hold that. And she couldn’t. In the next instant everything within Tetsu was on its way out in the form of a cataclysmic explosion.


          Bea felt the explosion rip through her and her body tore away from Tetsu’s grip. She’d… failed. Her mother had won. At that distance, there had been no hope of softening the blow.


          “NO!” Nicholas covered his eyes as light filled the arena. The forcefield crackled as it fought to contain the explosion and after a few seconds the light cleared. Bea slammed to the arena floor and Nicholas watched in shock as her body began to shimmer. There was no presence on the other end of their bond. Not even a spark to give him hope that she was still conscious. She might not even be alive.


          As the thought crossed his mind he instantly went for her pokeball and thankfully the recall beam captured her easily. Still, there was no question. She’d lost. He glanced over towards Steven and Tetsu. They’d lost.


          He blinked. Steven was standing alone, and the man was smiling.




          “Congratulations, Nicholas Topolski,” Steven called softly. “You have won.”




          “Bea won.” For a moment Steven looked much older than usual but that vanished when his expression returned to normal. “Tetsu… refuses to lose, you see. If there is ever the certainty that she will fall, she will do whatever it takes to defy it. Normally, that’s good. That’s fine. But when she feeds on my power, it becomes something… quite different.” Steven held up Tetsu’s pokeball. “She recognized that Bea was an opponent she could not win against. So she made sure, absolutely sure, that Bea would not be standing to see her victory.”


          Nicholas swallowed. “She… What did she do?”


          “She exhausted everything in one final effort,” Steven replied. “Including her own life force. Everything, to ensure Bea fell.” He lowered his hand and smiled again. “Let them believe it was a tie. The truth is that you win. My pokegirl sacrificed herself in order to defeat yours. That means, even it was only for an instant, yours stood victorious. By the rules of our battle… you have defeated me. Champion Nicholas Topolski. Of Indigo, and of Hoenn.”


          Nicholas stared across the arena. It was so… quiet. The cheers, the energy of Indigo, none of it existed here, in this small arena at the summit of Hoenn’s Pokegirl League. It barely even registered to him, as Marin began roaring, her hands grabbing at him. He felt numb, perhaps. What he had witnessed this day, throughout this region, was something more than a league challenge. Even as Steven stepped aside, gesturing for Nicholas to follow into the Hall of Fame, its doors swinging open to admit the two tamers, Nicholas didn’t feel… satisfied.


          He glanced back a few moments before the doors swung shut. And he saw May watching him. She was not shocked. She was not in awe. As Nicholas turned back, following Steven to a healing machine and beyond, he realized why his victory felt hollow.


          He had faced the best. He had become the best. But only by an arbitrary standard. A standard set by humans, for humans. He was not human. He stole a glance at Steven, considered what little he knew of the woman sitting back in the arena. They, were human. He recalled his battle with Wally, of the thrill he had felt. He, might not be. Steven was an excellent tamer. One of the strongest humans. But in this moment, he thought he understood why Ash had left humanity behind. He hadn’t understood at the time, when he had sought out that man on Mt. Silver. But he did now.


          To grow more powerful, they could not remain human.


          Nicholas knew such a thought should terrify him. He, himself, was human. But he did not feel fear.


          “Nicholas?” Steven was waiting with a camera. “Did you hear me?”


          Nicholas moved over to the blank wall and triggered his pokeballs. “Ready.” As he turned his eyes on the camera, felt his pokegirls surround him, he was not looking at Steven. He was looking far, far beyond.


          There would be others out there. Others like him. Others, like Wally. Like Lance. He would find them. He must find them. The camera didn’t see it, as Nicholas stood silently, but every being in that room felt it. Felt as the human’s energy, as he stood among his pokegirls, began to mix with theirs.








Tamer:Nicholas Topolski



          Knuckle Badge

          Heat Badge

          Stone Badge

          Balance Badge

          Dynamo Badge

          Feather Badge

          Rain Badge

          Mind Badge



          Bea, Metagross (Alpha) – Level 60

          Marin, Sharpedo (Beta) – Level 57

          Elaine, Blaziken – Level 56

          Morgana, Gardevoir – Level 56

          Aria, Altaria – Level 56

          Midna, Absol – Level 57


Inactive Harem:

          Zinnia, ‘Salamence’ – Level 70

          Aster, Salamence – Level 62


Non-Com Harem:

          Kalmiya, Porygon-Z – Level 5