Hello! Soaring here, and as a warning, this contains Pokemon/human. So…don't read if you don't likey the love. Note the teen rating. This is not a lemon, seeing as how there's no way in hell I'm writing on of those.

Anyway, on with the story!~

Electrinz's POV

It was a scorching hot day, the kind in which you could fry an egg on the sidewalk - or you could go all out and make a full course English breakfast, if you were that sort of person. Sweat would cascade down your face if you strayed away from the air-conditioned safety of your home, and many people wisely chose not to do so.

Not Alena.

"Alright guys!" she shouted, giving her usual pep talk. "I know it's hot out today, but we need to get going for the battle against Roark!"

"Hot out…" I muttered. "Understatement of the century, much?"

She cast a searing glare in my direction, and I hastily shut my mouth and held my paws up in an act of surrender. Even though my back was facing him, I knew Twig was rolling his wide orange eyes.

"Now, before Electrinz threw in that nice little comment –" she paused to glare at me again, this time with the hint of a smile playing across her face and a twinkle in her eyes that meant she was joking – "I was saying that Roark is a user of Rock-types, so Twig and Whishcast are obviously in."

The Sceptile behind me jumped right over my head, causing me to squeak in fright. I blushed a bit, not like you could see it from under my fur, and gave a little cough. Sander laughed, a strange huurrrring sound. Twig smirked, apparently pleased that he had managed to provoke me into making a fool of myself. Whishcast, the youngest of the group, waddled over to Alena as well, the silly pink bow she always wore wobbling from side to side from its perch atop her head. The Piplup and Staravia to my left gulped, being new recruits to the team.

"Now, Nova, Trinz, Icy, and Sander, you four are all who remain. Icy, you're the newest here, so I'm going to have you hold the Experience Share during the battle so you can get stronger. The battle allows for three Pokemon each, so I can only take one more. Nova, your type disadvantage means you'll have to sit out, so it's between Electrinz and Sander. In order to choose which one of you to take…"

Alena pulled a green hardhat with a light on the front out of seemingly nowhere. She pulled off her usual headband, setting the new hat in its place. It went quite nicely with the purple in her outfit, and it brought out the blue in her eyes…

Wait, what?

I shook my head, telling myself to concentrate as Alena explained that we'd be training in the coalmines. Apparently, a huge Onix had been attacking the workers, and she thought this would be the perfect time to train and get rid of the problem.

"Okay, so somewhere deep in the mines, Nova and Twig have a green flag. In another part, Icy and Whishcast have a blue flag. Sander, you go for the green, Trinz, you aim for the blue. I have no doubt the Onix will attack you at some point, and if it does, you'll have to find a way around it. Whoever comes out first with their flag wins. A word of advice, I know that you both have some supplies with you, so if you have any Repels…"

Sander as already spraying herself with the foul-smelling perfume, causing me to wrinkle my nose. It smelled like a combination of bleach, dirty socks, and Ledyba. And those things smell, let me tell you.

I sighed, remembering that I had given Alena the last of the Repel that I had carried with me a few days ago. I would be going in unprotected, and if given the choice between me and Sander, I knew who the Onix would go after first…

"Okay, teams, go take your flags!"

Perhaps twenty minutes passed in the sweltering heat. I panted, hiding in the shade of one of the huge steel structures of arcane usage littering the coalmine's entrance. I wondered how long it would take to hide the

"GO!" Alena shouted. I took off at a dash, using Agility to propel myself ahead of Sander. She fell behind me shortly, hurring in an annoyed tone. The next thing I knew, the Desert Spirit was living up to her name, calling upon a giant cyclone of sand to strike me away from my goal. I struggled against the winds pulling me in, but my efforts seemed futile. Sander sped ahead, into the darkness of the cave.

Stupid type advantage…

"ELECTRINZ! GO FOR IT, I KNOW YOU CAN!" Alena was running after me at full speed. I couldn't help but admire her form as she sped towards the entrance to the underground catacombs herself. She was every bit as fast as Twig, and she moved with a sort of powerful grace…

I snapped out of it, charging up Return while preparing my legs for a Quick Attack. I felt the power building up in my chest, flowing to my feet and my head…

The resulting blast sent me flying across the sand, zooming straight into the entrance of the coalmine. A few workers leapt out of the way, one in the process of wiping sweat from his brow.

"Sorry!" I yelled as he passed me by, a blur of yellow. He fell flat on his bum, waving a fist at me and employing some rather choice swearwords in my direction. I forget sometimes, that humans can't understand me. In fact, I've only met maybe ten people who could, and they were all trainers…

My thoughts were cut short as I slammed headfirst into a solid stone wall, a fair distance from the entrance to the city. I rubbed my sore head with a paw, charging up for another Return. The glowing power slowly illuminated my whole body, casting light onto the walls. The pain in my head subsided, replaced by a feeling of warmth, the kind you get when you see someone you like who you haven't seen for a very long time and give them a hug. It was a wonderful feeling, and I found myself humming a little tune as I skipped farther into the cave.

Of course, a bouncing, noisy, pink light is sure to wake you up if you're a sour old serpent with a body of stone.

"Hey!" I shouted as I was knocked off my feet via a powerful shockwave traveling across the cave floor. I stopped abruptly when a pair of angry eyes, black as the coal that was mined in this cave, met my own frightened coffee-colored ones.

"Uh…" I said, trying to think of something witty to snap at the snake. "Look! Behind you!"

It didn't work. The Onix rushed forward with amazing speed, wrapping me in a Bind. I cried out in pain as it began to crush me, the shielding powers of my Return fading from the prolonged usage. I couldn't use Iron Tail when I was all wrapped up, Return wouldn't do much damage and would take too long to charge, Thunderbolt wouldn't even graze it…

I was trapped. Walled by one of the few Pokemon who I couldn't take down, helpless to escape. I could hear a horrible cracking sound and a pain shot through my body – I think a few ribs were cracked. Every raspy breath I took brought the sickly smell of blood to my mouth. Everyone was away; it was up to me…

Then I heard it.

A scream, but not the scream of the Zubats or miners in the cave. It was the scream of a girl, perhaps in her teens…

"Alena!" I shouted. I squirmed in the snake's grip, trying to escape, barely aware of the power building up inside of me. I couldn't see straight, I guess tunnel vision was kicking in, as my blood pounded through my veins, my heartbeat a hum in my ears. All I could see was red, crimson staining the shape in front of me as it thrashed along the ground, beautiful, but so terrible. It was like the emperor of the rainbow, the shade of burning fire. There was a crash, and a loud yell from the Onix, but I forced myself to turn away, to run towards the terrible sound…

The walls of the mine sped past me as I hurried towards the sound of the screaming. At one point, I ran straight through a flock of Zubat, and they leapt at me, one's fangs tearing into my side. I didn't even feel the pain – I had to get to her! I knocked over a hiker, and his Geodude came at me with Rollout – I merely dodged to one side, ignoring his cursing as he tried to get his Pokemon unstuck from the wall.

The walls were no longer speeding past, I could make out the faint indentations in the wall where coal must have once been imbedded in the rock. I panted heavily, the pain starting to catch up with me. I remembered what Alena had said as she instructed me on the different ways to use Return. It would heal me, it could be used as a terrific attack, and it could protect me. But no matter how I used it, it would need to be charged for exactly fifteen seconds, and it would only last for two minutes. How long had I been running through this labyrinth of stone? I had no clue. I must have been near the entrance now, I could see light…I could hear shouting…her shouting.

"Alena…" I choked out, tripping over a piece of metal. I felt my head CRACK against a cart, and my world was swallowed by darkness…

Twig's POV

I knew that letting Electrinz go into the cave alone was a huge mistake. He was capable yes, and he had the cunning and strength needed to take on almost any foe, but he was too hardheaded, always trying to prove himself, to show that he could do something. I always knew that it would be his undoing.

But now, as he lay in the hospital bed in the Pokemon Center, it was hard to imagine that this had all started out because of a little training exercise. The monitor showed that his heart rate was unusually slow, and his breathing was faint. He was wearing an oxygen mask, and must have had about two-hundred wires stuck into him at various points. I had never seen him in this sort of condition before, nor had any of the others. Sander and Whishcast were down in the cafeteria, the former trying not to cry as Electrinz was whisked away, the latter very confused as to what was going on.

Nova and Icy were playing downstairs in the daycare, Alena believing that that might take their minds off the problem at hand. She didn't want them to get upset, not when they were so young and so inexperienced. Whishcast was one thing – she wasn't bothered by blood or bruises or needles, but when Nova first got a shot to help her get over a cold she had picked up, she nearly fainted.

It was just Alena and I now. She was kneeling down at the side of the bed, speaking in a low mummer. I could hear her words as clearly as if she was standing right beside me – the Lv. 100 causes all your senses to spike to mad levels.

"Electrinz, please hang in there. The doctor said that they're going to give you some meds they shipped over from Cianwood in Johto, and they're going to heal you, I promise!" My heart twisted into a knot as I saw a tear slide down her face, shimmering as it traced the shape of her nose, before she continued. "And when we're out of here, I would ever make you fight unless you wanted to, and I'll never leave your side until you're completely healed!"

I knew that would take a very long time. The medicine they were sending over from Cianwood was a very potent brew, more powerful than the famous SecretPotion. It was derived from Lum and Oran berries, ground into a powder and mixed with a bunch of different herbs. It was probably potent enough to cure a few hundred Hippowdon of a headache, and if Trinz needed a dosage that strong, I didn't know if he'd be able to walk.

As it turns out, I was right. The medicine came that afternoon, and a few hours after taking it, Trinz looked much better. Far from his original self, but better. Alena brought a few Poffins up to the room to help him cope with the taste of the foul mixture, and they sat up there for a few hours just talking. I didn't know what they talked about exactly. Maybe they were just enjoying each other's company.

Electrinz was released two weeks later. Alena had to carry him, because he couldn't walk more than ten meters before collapsing in exhaustion. She carried him around in a little pouch like the kind you'd use to carry a baby in, and he only came out to sleep, eat, and well…I think you can figure that one out yourself.

Throughout the battle with Roark, Electrinz stayed with her, shouting out encouragements as I slashed at the gym leader's Cranidos with powered-up Leaf Blades. Of course, seeing as how there were two Pokemon out on the field, it was considered a two on two battle, and I had to watch my back in case Roark's Geodude tried to strike me from behind.

I needn't have worried. They were all taken down within minutes with little effort on my part. Alena recalled me, accepting the badge with a heavy heart.

I knew what she was thinking. She was thinking about what a waste the training we had done had been. Electrinz had been seriously injured in vain, and it was all her fault.

Three Months Later

Electrinz's POV

"Sander, Dragon Claw, then when she gets closer, Crunch!"

The Ninetales we were facing growled as Sander's glowing claw scraped across her face. She attempted to use Extrasensory on the Flygon, but the fast-moving dragon bit through the psychic attack with fangs covered in shadows.

"Cassandra, don't give in! Sunny Day, now!" The Ninetale's owner, a girl a few years older than Alena with dark purple hair, was a decent battler, but now…

"Alena, have Sander use Sandstorm to cancel out Sunny Day, then use Fire Blast to superheat the sand!" I whispered up to my trainer.

"Sander, use Sandstorm, followed by Fire Blast!" Sander flapped her wings rapidly, causing a huge billowing cyclone of sand to form in the clearing. Just as Cassandra was about to fire an Energy Ball, Sander spewed a scorching Fire Blast at the sand, heating it up until…

"Glass!" Cassandra's owner shouted as her prized Ninetales yelled in pain, shards of green glass digging into her pelt. Realizing that defeat was bearing down upon them now like never before, the pair gave in, making Sander the winner.

"Good job!" Twig called out to Sander and Alena. Sander blushed, but Alena shook her head.

"That was Trinz's idea, the glass. I just did like he said!" She gave me a warm smile, and I smiled back from the sling. I still had to be carried around like an overgrown baby three days of the week, but I didn't really mind now. I was starting to pick up some good ideas from Alena, and that was always a good thing, wasn't it?

Twig and Sander looked at me in surprise. "Trinz thought of that?" Twig asked. "That…that was really impressive, I would have never thought of that myself!"

"Great job Trinz!" Sander added.

I tried not to laugh with joy. Twig had actually complemented me on my battle strategy! I can't remember the last time that happened!

I was still basking in the warmth of that complement when I felt Alena's arms wrap around me and hold me against her chest. I swear, my heart must have stopped the next moment, as she gave me a quick kiss on the head.

I couldn't move. I just sat there like a teddy bear, overcome with happiness. I didn't care about being carried around in the sling, I didn't care that I still had a three centimeter inch nick taken out of my tail…

This was worth it.

I was still smiling that night at dinner. We had stopped in a clearing in the forest and had a sort of picnic lunch. Alena somehow managed to pull a tablecloth, a few apples, two loaves of bread, ten cans of chicken soup, and a package of cupcakes seemingly out of nowhere. I always wondered how she did it, and now that she was carrying me around with her so often, I had finally discovered her secret. She had stored a whole pantry of food in the PC and now she could get it back out via the same transportation system used to send newly caught Pokemon to Professor Birch's lab.

That wasn't all though. When the soup was all gone, she brought out a few chunks of – CHEESE!

"I thought you would like that," she said, smiling and patting me. I hastily coughed out a thank-you before resuming my frantic eating of the delectable dairy product. Now that I think about it, Twig was probably laughing at me, and Icy probably thought I was crazy, but I didn't notice. Once the creamy texture hits my tongue, I loose my grip on reality for a moment, and enter into a world of pure bliss.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Alena surprised us all with a carrot cake, all the others happily digging in, wondering where she had gotten all the food in. I looked up at her and smiled; she smiled back, and a feeling of warm happiness spread throughout my whole body. The two of us were sharing a secret, and no one else knew, not even Twig.

"Alena," I asked, swallowing a piece of the moist cake, "What's the occasion? We don't normally eat this much!"

She gave me a sly smile, hitting a few buttons on her teal-blue Poketch. The Calendar App came up, and my heart began beating rapidly as I saw the date: October the eighteenth.

"Happy Birthday, Electrinz," my trainer said, giving me a hug.

The stars were beautiful that night, twinkling like shards of mirror, reflecting the lights of faraway cities back to the ground. We all watched them, lying on our backs like overturned Grotle, minus the leg waving of course. The air was brisk and refreshing, and I loved every moment of it. Every so often, a breeze smelling of leaves and fire would rustle through the treetops, and I would take every bit of it in.

That was another good part about having to depend on someone else so closely. When you're just being carried around like a sack of potatoes, just get bored rather quickly. So in order to keep some amount of sanity, you begin to turn to little games, such as counting the number of apples you see in an hour, or trying to find Pokemon cleverly camouflaged in the trees. From this, you begin to notice things you would have never known before, from the many different colors hiding in one flower, to the stars in the sky that paled in comparison to their brighter neighbors. There was so much beauty in the world, and I was just now beginning to realize it.

"Electrinz, look!" I looked to the point in the sky where Alena was pointing to see something flying across the sky in a glimmering display of silver and white lights. "It's a shooting star, Trinz! Make a wish!"

I just then realized that she had been talking to me – me and no one else. Of course, the others may have fallen asleep already, but still…only…me.

I gazed into the blue depths of my trusted friend's eyes. The shimmering fire in the sky was reflected in her dark pupils, and I swear, I sighed, overcome by the sheer beauty of it. I knew what I wanted was impossible. I also knew that a few years ago, I thought that ever leaving the forest that was my home and traveling with a trainer was in the realms of non-existence.

I made my wish then, looking at the sky, at the trail of flame streaking along it.

I wished that someday, we could be together, forever. I wished that Alena and I could live as one…

I realized now, what I had been missing.

I needed her…

I loved her…

Three Months Later

Snowflakes were falling thick from the sky as we trekked towards Snowpoint City. The medicine man at Celestic Town had looked me over and said that I was good to go, able to walk on my own and battle again. I still wasn't quite fully healed yet – that would take a few more weeks. Still, it was nice being able to hop around in the snow, catching snowflakes on my tongue.

Alena was right behind me, Whishcast and Icy lagging behind. The Prinplup had turned out to be a huge asset against Ice-types, so he was going to fight with us in the upcoming battle at Snowpoint Gym. I had a bad feeling though – this would be my first gym battle in this region, and after what happened in Oreburg, I hadn't had any training at all. I knew I wasn't as fit I once had been, and I was sure that I would be overcome easily if the Gym Leader had any speedy Pokemon.

Alena picked up on my worry easily. "Don't sweat it Trinz! I know that you'll do great at the Gym! In fact, we should reach the city tonight, and we can battle first thing tomorrow morning!" Her encouraging words filled me with a kind of strength I hadn't felt for a while now.

We were going to win. I was sure of it.

The route to Snowpoint was relatively empty. Snow-capped trees. Snowflakes. The occasional trainer. More trees. Icicles. Alena used Icy in all the battles, commanding him to use Metal Claw on the opponent's Sneasel or Snover. I was sure of it: we would win. I soon lost track of time, so when we actually made it to the city, I was shocked.

It was dark by now, but the clearing in which the city was situated in was aglow with a warm light cast by fires crackling merrily outside of small wooden cabins and the glow of lights shimmering in all the colors of the rainbow on the pine trees surrounding the city. At the very center of the city was a steel-blue building with lights in the shape of snowflakes illuminating the walls. An icicle-encrusted sign proclaimed that the building was the Snowpoint City Gym. Far to the north, a strange stone ruin loomed ominously over the city, as if it were guarding something. It took me a few minutes to find the Pokemon Center in the southeastern quadrant of the city, but as soon as I spotted it, Alena scooped me into her arms and the four of us ran to the warmth the building would provide us with.

The next morning came all too quickly. The annoying beeping of Alena's alarm clock woke me in the dark hours of the morning, and I had to resist the urge to aim a Thunderbolt at it. Thankfully, Alena finally woke up after about five minutes of tossing and turning and turned the darn thing off.

"Sorry Trinz," she whispered, a slight edge to her voice as if something was bothering her. "Let's get going, shall we?"

I nodded, grabbing on my snowgear designed especially for the battle. Snowshoes that could double as skates with the press of a button, pink-tinted goggles to keep the glare of the sun reflecting on the ice away from my eyes, and our secret weapon – the Light Ball. The mysterious yellow orb dangled from a chain around my neck, making my sparks super-powered and my Return twice as deadly.

Icy and Whish were geared up too – Icy had on a green scarf and a pair of goggles like mine (the black mass of the Experience Share was still perched atop his head), whereas Whish had on a green scarf, a pair of goggles, and a seashell tied around one of her fins. It made a slight tinkling sound whenever she walked, and she seemed to love the sound.

It seemed like only minutes later we were at the Gym, scarfing down a few cereal bars. I had just finished taking the last bite of my sweet, rice-cereal bar when the doors opened and we all rushed inside. Alena used Sander to get past the gym's puzzle – a puzzle involving moving snowballs wasn't very effective if you had a fire-breathing dragon on the team.

Candice was not pleased when we reached her. Alena thinks it's because we did cheat on the puzzle – I personally think she was annoyed that Alena was prettier than her. I mean seriously, ninety percent of the men we had talked to just kept going on and on about how beautiful Candice was. She had nothing on my trainer.

I was a little bit unsettled at this point – Candice was glaring at us even as she gave her speech, about how she was the Gym Leader, and she used Ice-types, and she was all that and a half. She punctuated the speech with the release of a Sneasel, the dark black Pokemon sneering at me, as if asking me to attack.

I never got the chance to kick that Sneasel's ass – Whishcast beat me to it, hammering the speedy Pokemon with repeated Surfs as big as the Gym itself. The next Pokemon, a Froslass, simply sunk into the ground, avoiding the Surfs, and hit Whishcast with a powerful Shadow Ball. As soon as the little catfish got up from the ground, Froslass used Double Team to confuse her. Alena swore under her breath, recalling Whish and sending out Icy.

I'll say, he did well for a newbie. At Alena's instructions, he looked at the shadows of the attacks the shadow clones were sending at him – the fake attacks were weak enough to bat away with a Metal Claw, but the real attacks would have to be dodged. Icy realized what she was getting at – the real attacks had darker shadows than the fake ones. Icy ducked under an incoming Shadow Ball, which exploded upon impact .Grinning, he jumped skyward, spinning around in a Whirlpool, spinning while aiming a Hydro Pump at all the clones foolish enough to come his way. When he stopped the attack, a rather soaked Froslass fell to the ground, KO'd.

The next Pokemon Candice sent out was an Abomasnow, a huge hulking Pokemon that glared to match his trainer as he froze the wet gym floor into a skating rink of sorts. Icy was tired out from the last battle, and Whishcast had already fought.

It was my turn.

I gulped as I stepped onto the ice, thankful the snowshoes were designed for such things. As the giant tree roared and charged my way, I pushed off on one foot, skating away just as a Wood Hammer hit the spot where I had been standing just seconds before. Thankfully, the attack had an effect that Candice had not foreseen – the impact sent shards of ice flying in all directions, making it far easier for me to navigate as sections of the gym floor were now exposed to the open. I leapt sluggishly out of the way as a Focus Blast grazed my back, taking a few clumps of fur with it.

I needed to attack soon, but I couldn't charge up a Return without being hit, nor could I get close enough for an Iron Tail. I waited for the Abomasnow to send a frozen Razor Leaf at me, then ran out of the way with Quick Attack, jumping on top of a frozen column of ice. I panted from the effort it took, but charged Return nonetheless. As the Abomasnow sent an Earthquake my way, I hopped off the pillar, shards of the ice digging into my back as I fell towards the ground. Abomasnow grinned as it charged an Ice Punch, sure that it had won.

Just before I was within range of the attack, I heard Alena cheering me on, with all the others right beside her. Her voice cut through the tense air in the battle, and I smiled as I turned around at the last second, slapping the Ice Punch away with Iron Tail, and sending a blast of pink light straight at the giant tree's face. He didn't even know what hit him as he skidded across the icy floor to land at Candice's feet.

"Well done," she said without any praising tone in her voice. "Please accept the Icicle Badge and then GET THE HELL OUT!"

Later that day, Alena and all of us who had participated in the battle were taking a long soak in a nearby hotspring. Alena was in a nice green one-piece bathing suit (which she hated and constantly picked at until I told her she looked great) while the rest out us just stripped off our snowgear and jumped in. Icy and Whishcast were splashing each other while Alena and I rested off to the other side.

"You did great today, Trinz," she commented, smiling my way.

"Thanks…" I muttered, blushing a little. Thankfully she didn't notice, thanks to my fur. Sometimes I wondered how she lived without it.

She sighed, sinking deeper into the warm water. "Reminds me of Lavaridge," she said to no one in particular, " It's almost like we're in Hoenn again."

I thought back to the time we had first defeated the Hoenn League. It had been wonderful, a rush like nothing I'd ever felt before. Of course, our joy had been short-lived as we were attacked by maniac sheep right after, but still…

"Electrinz?" Alena asked, opening one eye. "There's…something I've been meaning to ask you…and it sounds really stupid….but…"

"Go on," I encouraged. "You've never said anything I've found stupid!"

"I…I…" She took a deep breath. "I really like you Electrinz. More than just a partner or a friend. What I'm trying to get at I guess…" She stopped, apparently unable to go on.

I held up a paw. "Alena," I started, my heart racing, all my fur standing up on end. I tried to calm my nerves before I finally said it.

"We've been together for so long. You've stayed with me through thick and thin, and you've never left my side. You've been the best friend I ever had, and…and…I wish that we'd never be separated, ever."

"I love you."

She smiled, her eyes burning more fiercely than I had ever seen them before. She stood up in the water and scooped me into her arms like she would a precious gem. "I love you too."

And with four words, both our worlds came crashing down around us.

And a new one took their place.

Three Months Later

Ten months.

Ten months since we had come to Sinnoh to challenge the gyms here.

Ten months since we had found Icy, separated from his family, and took him in.

Nine months since the incident which had almost cost me my life.

Six months since I had turned sixteen.

Three months since Alena and I had finally…

And now, two days until we battled the Elite Four, and eventually, the Champion. If I said I wasn't nervous, I would be lying. Sure, I was back to full health by now, but still, I had heard that the Champion's Pokemon were frightfully well trained. I didn't want to think about want those Pokemon could be. I had a vision of an Onix, rearing up and squeezing me, my bones cracking as blood oozed out of my ruined body…


I yelped as the voice caught me off-guard. I gave my trainer a good-natured glare, and she laughed.

"Oh Trinz, don't worry about the Elite Four. There's no way they could be that much stronger than the Hoenn Elite Four! Come on, let's go get something to eat, we've been training all week and you look half-starved!" I let her lead me to a quaint little café located down one of the back streets of Sunyshore City, happy to get a break from the intense training that we had done.

Whishcast had learned a vicious new trick, one that would first confuse the foe with a series of mirrors formed from ice. Then she would surround the unaware opponent with a huge Surf, ringing around them, faster and faster. She would leap out of the attack, freezing it as it spun around, until the only way to escape the next attack would be to either barge through twenty meters of ice, scale a slippery wall of frozen water, or dig underground. Of course, if the opponent even thought about going underground, Earthquake would hit them first.

Sander was trying to increase the power of her glass trick, as well as using a new one in which she made it look as though she was about to attack with Dragon Claw, while really charging up an Iron Tail. You'd dodge away from her claws only to meet an equally painful attack. Twig was practicing Leaf Blades by cleaving the rocks he summoned from Rock Slide right in two. Icy was using a ton of spinning attacks, from Whirlpool to Drill Peck, whereas Nova was practicing dodging attacks while keeping Brave Bird or Return active. I noticed with some happiness that her Returns were very weak compared to mine. I suppose it's just due to the nature of the attack.

As I stirred the coffee I had just bought, I tried not to think about my strategy – because truth be told, I didn't have one. I guess I've learned that sometimes it's best to go into things with a plan mapped out in your head, but if something interrupts that plan, you'd better think of something fast.

As if she could read my mind, Alena cast a sly look in my direction. "So…what are you going to use against the Elite Four? Hovering with Iron Tail? Return-boosted Quick Attacks?"

I sighed. "No clue. I'm just going to go in there and kick some bum."

Alena laughed. "Trinz, that's the spirit that won us the Hoenn League, and I'm sure it'll do us proud in Sinnoh. Sometimes I think that the best plan is to not have a plan at all.

It was almost too easy.

Seeing as how we had all the badges, we skipped the preliminaries and went right into the battle with the Elite Four. The rules were simple: One Pokemon each, no switch-ins, items allowed, no Pokemon banned from entry. It was almost sad, how stupid the rules were.

The first member was Aaron. He sent out his Vespiquen, Alena sent out Nova. Vespiquen launched straight into Attack Order, calling tons of Combee into battle. Nova dodged away from all of them, spiraling higher and higher until Vespiquen lagged below. Nova took this time to activate Double Team, sending the Combee on their way as she and the clones used Brave Bird. Vespiquen sent a Power Gem at one of the Novas, but it simply dissipated into black wisps of smoke, the real Nova crashing into Vespiquen from behind.

The next member, Bertha, used her Golem. Twig finished the battle before it even got going, jumping over Golem as it used Rollout and slashing below with his Leaf Blades. The third Elite, Flint, used Fire-types, calling upon his Infernape. Whishcast spun around him in a Surf, before jumping out and hitting him head-on with Zen Headbutt.

By now, it was obvious that the Elites were almost a joke – they were hardly any tougher than the gym leaders we had faced – if anything, they were weaker! Lucian, the last of the four, sent out his Bronzong. Sander used the glass trick, and while it was still confused by the pinging sounds the glass made as it bounced off the armor, Sander hit it in the face with Fire Blast.

Then it was time for the last battle. Two on two, substitutions allowed, four Pokemon each. The Champion appeared in a flash of light in front of us, smiling mysteriously.

"And the battle begins!" the announcer shouted. "Champion Cynthia is leading things off with her Milotic and Roserade, while the opponent Alena Celestia is using her Prinplup and Sceptile!"

Water and Grass versus Water and Grass. This might be an interesting match.

Twig used Swords Dance to up his Attack while Icy formed a Blizzard in his mouth. On the other side, Roserade was forming an Energy Ball and Milotic was already shooting an Ice Beam at Twig. He ducked under the attack with his Leaf Blades active, slashing the incoming Energy Ball in half, and getting a clean hit in right on the Milotic's scaly neck. The resulting cut sent Milotic down for the count, making Twig the victor – or so it seemed at first. The next thing I know, Twig's getting thrown ten feet in the air by a powerful Shadow Ball, landing some twenty feet away.

Not good.

Alena and Cynthia both recalled their downed Pokemon. As Cynthia sent out a Lucario, I knew what Alena was going to do.

"Electrinz, get out there and do your stuff!"

I smiled, dashing onto the field with fresh energy, ducking as Icy's Blizzard knocked Roserade off her feet. I finished her off with a Quick Attack, doing a backflip off one of her spiked arms and ducking under the Bone Club Lucario aimed at my head. I sent a Thunderbolt at his chest, only to have it frozen in place and sent back at me, Lucario using Psychic as his eyes glowed blue.

He thought he had won – but he was forgetting one small fact. Icy came flying out of the ground, tossing Lucario to the side like a limp rag doll. He growled and pulled himself back into a standing position as Cynthia released her last Pokemon – Garchomp. It glared at me with the eyes on the sides of its head, fins raised as if ready to strike. I swatted away an Aura Sphere, only to have Garchomp rush at me, its whole body glowing. Dragon Rush, the incredibly powerful and rare attack.

I closed my eyes, waiting for impact, but instead I heard a strange metallic noise, like two swords meeting in midair. An Empoleon stood in front of me, proudly holding the Garchomp in place with glowing claws.

"Way to go, Icy!" I shouted.

"Don't just stand there, take that thing out!" he shouted back impatiently. I had forgotten all about the Lucario! As he rushed in, Bone Club at the ready, I charged up an attack of my own. Iron Tail and Bone Club met, the former knocking Lucario several feet away, stunned – the perfect time to jump in with Thunderbolt.

My joy at beating Lucario was shot-lived, as something crashed into me with the force of a meteorite. Giga Impact, the physical version of Hyper Beam. I skidded across the battlefield, still with some HP left, but not much. I could see Garchomp panting down at the other end, Icy trapped with his feet stuck in the ground. He was charging up a Blizzard, but Garchomp would move before the attack finished.

Now was the time. I looked over to Alena, and she nodded. I focused, feeling the power build up like never before. It was overwhelming, I could barely stand up…

Garchomp rushed at me with Dragon Rush. He never finished the attack. A huge wave of scarlet power, untamed and infinitely powerful slammed into him, knocking him out even before I rushed forward to tackle him.

It was over. We had won.

The cameras flashed all around the stadium, the crowd roared. I could feel the ground rumbling as people stood up and clapped. For us.

"Amazing! The champion of Hoenn, Alena Celestia, has just beaten the Sinnoh League as well! This is a day that will go down in history!"

I felt a pair of hands pick me up, and I smiled, knowing exactly who's they were. "Good work out there Trinz!" Alena congratulated me.

"No," I said, "It was all of us. And you."

We stood there, together, in the stadium.

Together, forever. Such is the gift of life and love. For without someone by your side, you will never know the true meaning of joy.