I swear my stories are just getting longer and longer, it's ridiculous. I should stop putting so many words in, haha. Anyway, this random as hell story came from the idea that the other gym leaders from the other regions probably didn't know about Hilbert and him going off after Black/White and if they met him they wouldn't realise what a big deal it was. Also the Battle Subway is hilarious, no matter who you put in it.
I don't own anything!
"Aw, come on, Volk. It'll be fun."
"It won't," Flint stared down at the ground following the rejection and Volkner couldn't help but smirk. While he generally didn't like upsetting people, he knew Flint could take it and right now was more than likely trying to guilt trip him into saying yes. It wasn't going to work though, he'd been dragged into so many other random (and usually stupid) situations before that there was no way he was going to let it happen again. Flint would find something else to do in five minutes anyway. "It will be exactly like the Battle Tower back home, and how many times have we beaten that again? Oh yeah, eight."
"Nine. Remember that time Palmer was on leave?" Flint replied, frown completely gone and replaced by a grin at their accomplishments. "But that doesn't count because I think his replacement had like, one badge or something. Probably not even that, more like half of one."
"I know, right?" He mumbled, thinking back to that particular day. The receptionist had warned them that Palmer was away and they'd had to call in someone last minute, but no, they'd decided to challenge the tower anyway. If he remembered correctly, Sunyshore was in a blackout (which had had nothing to do with him that time, really) and Flint supposedly didn't have any challengers lined up, so having nothing better to do they'd trekked up there. It had been a real let down, getting to that point and fighting some average ace trainer. They'd kind of deterred the guy from battling again for a while too; they hadn't meant to crush his team that badly.
So yeah, Volkner had felt pretty miserable after that. If he couldn't get a challenge at the Battle Tower, where could he get one? He hadn't had time to dwell on that long though, because not even ten minutes after the whole fiasco Flint had received quite an angry call from Cynthia telling him to get back down to the League immediately. Apparently he hadn't told any of them he was taking the day off and there was a very disappointed trainer waiting down there for him.
Freaking out that he was going to lose his job, Flint had sprinted out of there while cursing the fact that he wasn't a flying-type trainer and just sort of yelling at the top his lungs. It had been hilarious and after that Volkner hadn't felt so bad about the whole day.
He hadn't been fired thankfully, but now he had to record all his days off at least two weeks in advance.
"Don't you want the chance to battle some Unovian trainers though?" He was still persisting and Volkner sighed, pressing his index fingers into his temples. "It'll be awesome training for this tournament you were invited to and we'll get to see some more of the region." He placed a particular emphasis and the 'you', narrowing his eyes ever so slightly at the word.
But heh, he was still bitter about not receiving an invite to the Pokemon World Tournament after all. He didn't need to take it out on him though, he hadn't organised it. And to be fair, there was no Elite tournament and none of the other region's Elite Four had come along either, so it wasn't as if he'd been singled out. He could sympathise with the guy somewhat though, it was a relatively sucky situation to be in, but at least he got to come and watch. Speaking of, he made a mental note to ask him about that later. If he wasn't competing, why was he here?
"It's not going to be a challenge," He replied. "But you know what's putting me off more than the fact that you want to do it?" His companion shook his head. "That it's trains, Flint."
Yep, that's right. That's what Flint was trying to drag him to - the Battle Subway. For the past twenty minutes he'd been badgering him about going to challenge it nonstop and it was driving Volkner crazy, but mind you that was what Flint did most of the time anyway. But on another and perhaps more important note, was the Battle Subway not one of the most bizarre ideas ever? Who invented that? He understood the idea behind the Battle Tower, it was good practice and provided trainers with another option besides the gyms, but...trains? Why?
Flint had brought it up on their trip over here and he'd been thinking about it for a while afterwards, trying to figure out how exactly it worked and wondering if maybe the afro was getting it wrong. But apparently he wasn't, he'd seen a flyer for it in the lobby of their hotel earlier and it was exactly that - battling on underground trains.
What the actual fuck?
"Yeah, it's insane!" He whooped. "It says in that travel brochure that it's one of the 'many things that makes Unova unique' and something you 'must do' while you're here."
"Hence why we're not doing it," He said. "I'm here to train and compete in this tournament, nothing more."
Now, he did need to train, but he wasn't completely thrilled about being here. Sure, he was grateful that the League were paying for him to travel all the way to Unova to compete in the competition, but honestly he didn't care about said event that much. He'd just started renovating his gym again when he was informed of what was happening, and then had had only two weeks to get everything sorted for the trip. It had been completely rushed and he'd left both the gym and the town in disarray. The residents of the city weren't too happy with the frequent blackouts and he'd almost had them fixed before he had to leave, so if anyone complained the League would have to deal with it.
What he was looking forward to though was the fact that maybe; just maybe, he'd get to fight against some tougher trainers. The World Leaders tournament sounded good, he'd never really fought any of the other regions' leaders before, and so it would be interesting to see how they compared. He had a sneaking suspicion that the Sinnoh ones were the toughest, but he'd just have to wait and see.
"You said train, that means we're going!" His wrist was grabbed and he was yanked up from his seat in the lobby lounge. Roark was sitting with his dad and he threw them a glance of 'save me' but it was too late and before he knew it he was being dragged along the city's streets. When he finally registered what was happening and got a hold of himself, he pulled out of Flint's iron grasp and stopped in the middle of the footpath, arms crossed over his chest and squinting in the sunlight. It was too bright for this early in the morning; he just wanted to be back inside.
"Flint, this is ridiculous."
"Why?" He spun around to face his friend and then copied his stance. It was a pretty aggressive looking showdown to the average passerby and it almost looked like they were about to engage in a full-on fistfight. They both knew neither would actually let it come to that, but even still. "The tournament doesn't start for a week and you're probably not going to get much better than you are even if you train, so what else are we going to do? Sit around in our hotel room? That would be a waste of our time, it's not every day that we get to come to Unova."
Volkner blinked slowly, letting the words sink in. As much as he hated agreeing with anything Flint ever said or suggested, what he had said made sense. They called him the toughest leader in Sinnoh and he couldn't really work his pokemon any harder than they did now, so even if they did get stronger the difference would be negligible. While he didn't really want to go battle other trainers either (because it was also too early to be socialising), his team would have fun with it and who was he to deny them of that?
"Fine," He relented, uncrossing his arms. "But I don't want to be there all day."
A huge grin spread over Flint's face and immediately he began to regret his decision, that expression was never a good sign. Then just like before, he grabbed onto his wrist as if he was worried Volkner would change his mind and in a very unprofessional (and in a way that was more fitting for two kids rather than two young men) way, was pulled through Driftveil to the next city over.
So yeah, that was pretty much how Volkner found himself battling in an underground subway system in an unfamiliar region and asking himself why the hell he let himself get dragged into this and why he never learnt.
And he wasn't just asking himself that either.
"Why the hell are we doing this, Flint?" He recalled his raichu and took a seat in the now-empty carriage. So far they had absolutely destroyed nineteen teams, the only time they had even come close to losing one of their pokemon was the last battle but even then electivire was still fine. It was as easy as expected and he was pretty disappointed he hadn't had a challenge yet. But even though he didn't want to say it, it was maybe an okay way to pass the time.
Flint kicked back across the seats, leaning on his elbows and not looking discouraged in the slightest. "You've got to admit it's been pretty entertaining so far."
"Yeah," He said. "The stopping and starting all the time is awkward though." When they'd first arrived, every trainer in the carriage had been clinging on to something for dear life and they had been really confused as to why they all looked so on edge. When the train started up and Flint stacked it (Volkner had managed to desperately grasp a chair) face-first, they realised why. It jerked them around everywhere and if they didn't hold on to something when it started up, they'd soon become very good friends with the floor.
Flint just nodded and rubbed his forehead for effect. As he did so, the carriage doors opened and their next opponents stepped through. It was a boy and a girl, both hiding tangles of brown hair underneath caps and seemingly about half a decade younger than them. They looked about as equally as thrilled as they did but neither seemed particularly strong. He could be wrong though and he cast a thoughtful glance over to them, thinking back to the three kids that had beaten him a few years ago.
The boy noticed Volkner eyeing him off and smiled awkwardly, he then tugged on the girl's arm and they crossed the carriage towards them. When they got closer Flint stood up, keeping one hand on one of the handles attached to the ceiling and extending the other to shake. The girl grabbed it first, standing surprisingly upright despite the movement of the train and it was then that Volkner knew they would be slightly tougher than the rest - he figured only trainers who came here often would be able to keep their balance.
"Yo, I'm Hilda and this..." She was the first to speak too and motioned to her friend. "...is Black, I guess we're your opponents."
"Sweet," Flint gave her a thumbs up. "Well I'm Flint and he's-"
"Volkner," He shook their hands before punching the redhead in the arm. "I can speak for myself, you know."
"As can I." The boy - Black - spoke up, glaring at Hilda playfully. Volkner smirked at their interaction; it wasn't dissimilar to what they'd been like when he'd finally relented and let Flint drag him along to this stupid subway thing. They seemed to have that kind of I will give you as much shit as possible but it's all in good fun relationship that was reserved exclusively for siblings or really old friends.
That being said, they took their places at opposite ends of the carriage and got ready. It was all looking good, they were going to fight (and win) but when Flint released his magmortar, the train jerked right almost sending them all flying across the space with Magmortar landing on top of them. Okay, it hadn't shook that badly before, that was weird. Even Hilda and Black looked surprised and each were holding onto one of the handles.
Nervously, they took their places again more and with slightly less enthusiasm than before, attempted to start again. It was too good to be true though, because just as Hilda called out her first command the train came to a grinding halt and this time every single one of them actually did fall over. After the initial shock of being suddenly on the ground, Volkner sighed and shifted so he was sitting properly. He did not have time for this sort of crap at the moment.
The four of them looked at each other in confusion, they weren't at a station and the doors weren't opening - what was going on? Their questions were soon answered by a voice through the PA system informing them that there had been a power failure and they were working on getting it sorted, but for the meantime just to sit tight and wait it out.
Why today of all times?
"Volkner, why don't you go help? You're an engineer and you fix blackouts all the time." Flint interrupted his brooding and angry thoughts, bringing him back to the cold harshness of reality (though he wasn't going to lie, the whole situation felt a bit surreal).
"You're an engineer?" Hilda asked incredulously, sliding up next to him. "In that case, we wouldn't have stood a chance. You must be super smart and know like, all the strategies."
"I'm not an engineer, I'm a gym leader," He shot daggers at the bright hair who was mouthing 'he actually is' to the younger teens, oblivious to the animosity being directed at him. "I'll see what I can do though because the sooner we get out of here, the better." He stood up and started searching the carriage for a way out or any way of communicating with whoever was trying to repair it. All the while Flint was talking up his solar panels and his gym, telling them all about the things he'd done for the city. The two teens listened in admiration, though they did look kind of confused about it for some reason too.
He shook his head; his accomplishments weren't that great and these guys really didn't need to know about them. So he just blocked it out and continued looking around the carriage. It took a while, but eventually he found a tiny button and speaker next to the doors that was for talking with the driver. Success!
But no, unfortunately a frustrating argument ensued in which Volkner repeatedly offered to help. The long and short of it was that it was unsafe to let the passengers out and hopefully it wouldn't take them long to get the systems up and running again. Annoyed, he sat back down with the others and growled; he knew there was a reason he didn't want to come in the first place.
He stayed there for a while, arms crossed over his chest and staring directly out the window opposite even though there was nothing to see. Flint was still talking about something, but he ignored his friend and focused on how stupid the situation was.
Sensing the tension, Hilda turned towards him and moved in slightly. Tentatively, she asked, "You're a gym leader? Are you new then? I've never seen you before."
Oh, that's why they'd looked confused before - they thought he was Unovian. "No, I'm from Sunyshore in Sinnoh. Flint is part of the Elite Four over there too, we're here for the World Tournament next week."
"He's here for the World Tournament," Flint corrected, holding up his hand and interrupting Volkner. "I was invited to be a spectator." He rolled his eyes at the latter word and Volkner smirked and leant over to whisper to the younger teens that they hereby had his permission to make fun of him as much as they liked about that. Black laughed and replied that he had a friend that was so highly strung so he teased him about everything just for the reaction. He hadn't seen him for about two years apparently and when they did finally catch up he was going to make up for lost time and be the most annoying person on earth.
Flint deserved it though and if these guys didn't do it then boy was Volkner going to give him so much shit. On the day of the tournament he was going to drop the words battle and compete in as many sentences as possible and emphasise how much fun the whole thing was (even if he was going to be lying through his teeth). Why? Well you know those blackouts in Sunyshore? Yeah, Flint had never left him hear the end of them these past few months so honestly, he had no sympathy.
"Oh yeah, I was almost invited to that too," Black remarked, raising the eyebrows of the others. "But they couldn't get a hold of me. Hilda said I should have just gone along anyway, but I didn't really want all that attention."
"I still think you should go," She shrugged. "In fact, I might drag you along to watch Volkner compete if we ever get out of here." And she kicked the chair in front of her to demonstrate her point.
"Only if we can sit up the very back and wear disguises."
"Fine," She relented and when she noticed the confused looks of both Flint and Volkner, continued to explain. "I know it's hard to believe from his appearance, but Black here is a totally awesome battler and defeated the Elite Four a couple of years ago."
"That was when N was there though so it was a totally different situati-" He interjected, but Hilda wasn't having any of that and interrupted him right back.
"Stop being modest, you're super strong," She knocked his cap off and he caught it was an "hey!" while she ruffled his hair underneath. He placed it back on his head afterwards and Hilda continued her story. "He's kinda been AWOL for two years from everyone besides me though because the Team Plasma thing freaked him out. He tells me he just wanders around training and stuff and then sometimes we meet up to battle on here. It's fun," She smiled gently at her friend, her expression a mixture of empathy and understanding. She really cared for him. Her sentimental moment only lasted a second though and the smile turned into a grin. "I thought it would be cool if he suddenly just competed in the tournament and shocked everyone, but he's boring and thought otherwise."
"You left some very important things out of that story, Hilda."
Flint leant back on seat, folding his arms behind his back and looking up at the ceiling. "Team Plasma? Sounds familiar."
It took a while for either of them to respond and Hilda was looking at Black encouragingly; obviously it was personal enough that she didn't want to speak even more on his behalf. It seemed she had a habit of doing that and apparently Black had just learnt to go with it. He started out watching his reflection in the window and then lowered his eyes to the floor, like he didn't even like himself looking at him. "You might have heard of them in the news," He finally said with more confidence that expected after all that. "They were this gang that were around two years ago that wanted to like, liberate pokemon or something. Me and my friends confronted and helped stop them, and I'm not going to lie, it was pretty terrifying."
That was interesting, you'd think something like that would have reached international news, but he'd hardly heard about it. Mind you, mainstream Sinnoh news was not that reliable when it came to anything other than the weather (and even that was debatable). It did remind him of the Team Galactic situation though, had that ever reached Unova? He looked at Flint through the window's reflection and he nodded in response, knowing he was thinking about Barry, Dawn and Lucas too. They were different though, this Black guy seemed genuinely scared of Team Plasma but their guys hadn't batted an eyelid.
Or maybe they had, it's not as if he'd ever asked them about it. In fact, the only times he'd ever met them was in those few battles they'd had in his gym and the Battle Zone, and those weren't exactly ideal places to have a deep and meaningful.
"I have heard about them, but I thought the kid that stopped them was called Hilbert?" Flint's comment made Black blush and pull his cap over his face and Hilda laugh, yanking it back up so the world could see his bright red cheeks.
"That's him," She laughed, moving herself over so she was wedged between Volkner and aforementioned teen but angling particularly close to the blonde. "His name really is Hilbert but we thought it was way too weird that our names were that similar, so sometimes we go by Black and Hilda or Hilbert and White." Volkner wanted to mention that that was perhaps even weirder, but he thought better of it and just nodded to go along with it. It seemed that's what he was best at these days, especially with the fro around.
"It wasn't just me, Cheren and Bianca helped too." He mumbled.
"Yeah yeah, well it was mainly you." At this point Volkner stop listening, just because Flint had taken over the conversation at was now discussing some inane touristy thing to do in the city that he would no doubt try and drag him to later on today. Ha, well that wasn't happening. Why? Because he was starting to believe that he'd never actually get out of this stupid train. It had been at least an hour now and there were no signs of anything starting back up soon.
His poor team, they were probably sitting inside their pokeballs wondering just what was happening when they could be outside training if they hadn't come here. Or he could be in the hotel sketching up ideas for how he was going to redesign his gym when he got home - he'd had the old layout for a month now and it was starting to get boring. Maybe he could flip the gear puzzle so it totally messed with his coworkers? That would be hilarious, though they'd probably hate him for a good while afterwards. Not that he cared about that, it gave him and them something to do during their challenger-less days.
"Yo Volk," Flint was flicking his shoulder and he shot daggers in response. "We're going to play Who's that Pokemon?, so you'd better join in." He was quiet for a moment, tossing up his options. It was either sit here and do nothing, or sit here and play the game with them. Neither seemed too appealing but right now there was nothing better to do. Hilda was up first and after asking way more questions than they should have, they managed to work out she was an electrode. Talk about obscure pokemon, those things were native to Kanto.
Flint's was by far the hardest though, for some stupid reason he'd decided slugma was a good pokemon. How were you supposed to describe a limbless pokemon composed of magma with just yes or no answers? They all had three turns each before the game got boring and they gave up and settled back down into doing nothing.
So he was sitting there, trying to work out the best strategy for the tournament when suddenly there was a warm weight on his shoulder and he looked down to find Hilda resting her head against his arm. He tensed up and looked over to Flint, sending a mental SOS. Flint just laughed silently at his friend's panicked state, thankful it wasn't him in the extremely uncomfortable and awkward situation. She was so much younger than him!
Fortunately though (and it was the first time he'd been lucky during this day), the train at that exact moment decided to start up again and sent every single one of them flying forwards and sprawling across the floor. The PA speaker announced that they had gotten it fixed and now were slowly heading back towards Nimbasa station. There were to be no more battles for the day and they were looking in to what had caused the power outage.
That wasn't good enough, he wanted more answers for why they'd all been so inconvenienced but apparently he wasn't going to get anymore as the announcement ended there.
So they got to the station and made it out into the now very crowded platform, walking out into a sea of people. A quick goodbye was said to the two teens and then they headed back out into the city. Volkner sighed in relief when they finally got outside, never before had he been happier to see the sunshine. Flint just grinned at him stupidly and if he hadn't been so relieved, then there was no doubt he would have tackled him to the ground and punched him. Mind you, at his point it probably would have been more of an expression of sheer happiness rather than anything else.
So yeah, lucky Flint.
Volkner spotted the afro near the sidelines of the area and strode over to him and leant casually on the bar separating them. He nodded to the other gym leaders that weren't competing right now and then said to his friend, "Hey Flint, I'm going to have so much fun battling in this tournament," Then with a flick of his hand, he headed towards the middle of the battleground, leaving a Flint with a face as red as his hair. "It's great to be able to compete in something so huge, you know what I mean?" He'd been doing that all day and boy Flint was not happy. But it was hilarious and his reactions had made coming here worthwhile after all.
He met his opponent halfway and he sized him up, he was a fair bit younger though not much shorter than himself. He looked studious, like really studious and it wouldn't have been out of place to see him carrying a stack of books. In fact, it was kind of weird that he wasn't.
"Nice to meet you," The young man stuck out his hand and Volkner shook it, nodding his head. The week leading up to the tournament had gone pretty fast after that...incident and he was finally getting to compete in the first round of the World Leaders tournament; you know, the reason he came here in the first place. "I'm Cheren and I run the gym over in Aspertia."
"Cheren..." He repeated under his breath, the name sounded familiar but he couldn't work out why.
"You..." He continued, focusing on the guy's face to see if he could remember. He'd never seen him before, but the name certainly was very familiar. Cheren raised an eyebrow at the stare, slightly confused and more than a little weirded out. He didn't care though; he often got like this when an idea was coming to him. Suddenly - as things usually did - it hit him like a tonne of machamps and he said, "I met your friend Hilbert on the Battle Subway last week. He said that you helped stop that Team Plasma gang, so I'm really looking forward to a challenging battle."
And then he turned his back and took his place at the end of the arena, completely oblivious to the surprised expression on his opponent's face and the significance of what he'd just said.