Whew, it's been a while. This chapter has been rotting in my computer, unfinished, for months. Still busy with college, but thankfully I'm all done with taking organic chemistry. Thanks for being patient, guys!
Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon.
"Surrounded by enemies, the group of five faced a severe challenge. As I stepped forward to draw forth my last remnants of courage, one companion turned to me and said in a voice heavy with determination—"
"Yes, Shaunty, we don't need your narration to know that we're in a deep pile of shit right now." Grimsley's voice cut the Ghost-type Elite off mid-sentence, causing the novelist to shoot him a glare. She jabbed her red pen in the raven-haired male's direction like a tiny sword. "Come on, just humor me, Grims. I'm trying to make the best of our current situation here."
"Yeah, but our current situation involves the five of us being escorted by several police officers to the Battle Tower after triggering this place's security system," the gambler deadpanned. "Not sure how you're supposed to make the best out of anything in this kind of crappy scenario. This is your fault, by the way, Caity," he added as an afterthought, glancing over his shoulder to raise an eyebrow in Caitlin's direction.
The aforementioned female psychic narrowed her eyes in warning. "Oh, really? My fault? And just how do you figure that?"
"Well, to be honest," Alder interjected fairly, "we were all under the assumption that you knew how to disable the Battle Frontier's security alarms... That way we'd be able to keep our surprise visit, er, a surprise, you know?"
Caitlin sighed. "Well, first of all, if our flight hadn't been delayed, then we'd have gotten here while it was still daylight out and I wouldn't have had to deal with the alarms to begin with. Second—I suspect Thorton may have updated the Frontier's security system without telling me, which explains why the passcodes I tried didn't work. And third... this is hardly a big deal. Palmer will be able to clear everything up right away." She turned to speak to the nearest officer. "Excuse me, but this really isn't necessary. I used to be the princess of the Battle Castle, you see, and—"
"Oh, right, like we haven't heard that one before," the officer interrupted. He punched a few numbers into a cellphone and held it up to his ear, still eyeing the group suspiciously. "Yes, Mr. Tower Tycoon? It seems a group of hooligans set off the alarm. We're bringing them over to you now. One of them is claiming to be the Castle's princess." The officer listened for a moment to Palmer's reply, and then scratched the side of his face. "Well, yes, I suppose there's some resemblance, but still—I don't recall the princess having such ridiculous hair."
"Time for a haircut, Caity," Grimsley snickered.
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," the Psychic-type Elite said flatly. The group came to a halt; they had reached the entrance to the Battle Tower.
Marshal frowned and crossed his arms with a grunt. His intimidating size seemed to be making several of the officers wary about standing too close to him, but he paid them no mind. "Does this kind of thing happen a lot at the Battle Frontier? This impersonation thing, I mean?"
"Hmm, sort of. At the Frontier, we always used to get our own share of pranksters. Sometimes people have dressed up as high-ranking League members because they want to get a match against one of the Brains without having to do all the preliminary battles first. It never works, but people still try." The former princess paused as the doors to the skyward facility slid open. A familiar blond man wearing a pair of Dragonite-themed pajamas walked through and gave the group a tired wave. "Well, if it isn't Caitlin and company. Can't say we were expecting to have special visitors today... especially at this ungodly hour. It's three in the morning, Caitlin. Normal people should be sleeping right now."
"It's only four in the afternoon, Unova time," the psychic countered. "Besides, our flight was late. We were supposed to arrive yesterday. And Palmer, since we've established that I am in fact Caitlin, can you kindly call off the guards?"
The Tower Tycoon heaved a huge yawn. "Yeah, yeah, sure." He gave the little group of police officers a short nod. "Right, then. Everything's under control, so you guys can leave the rest to me." Once the area was clear, the blond man gave another exaggerated yawn. "Now, why is it that you're all here in Sinnoh again?"
This question was met with a sour look from Caitlin. "Oh, of course. So it's okay for Frontier Brains to pay the Unova League a surprise visit, but not the other way around? How very hypocritical of you, Palmer."
"Hey, there's no reason to be like that—this was all just a bit surprising, that's all. Hell, in terms of unexpectedness, having you five randomly show up at our doorstep ranks somewhere between Dahlia hypothetically ditching chocolate and Thorton going a day without insulting me. Part of me is still wondering if this is actually just a really weird nightmare."
The former princess glared. "...I think you're being overly dramatic."
Palmer, instead of responding to this last comment, craned his neck and squinted at a point located somewhere behind the Unova group. "Speak of the devil... looks like Thorton's coming this way now. Should've known those alarms would wake up the whole damn Frontier."
Sure enough, the Factory Head was quick to make it over to the Battle Frontier leader's side and shot the group of Unova trainers an annoyed look. "So these are the idiots who set off the security system I spent all last afternoon recalibrating, huh?" From his belt, he pulled out a Pokéball and nonchalantly released a fierce-looking Charizard, which belched a huge burst of flame into the air. "According to my research, Fire-type attacks are considered to have a thirty-seven percent advantage at driving away intruders compared to all other elemental types in that regard. Shall we put my calculations to the test?"
Caitlin frowned, while Shauntal and Grimsley both ducked behind Alder and Marshal like a pair of human shields. "Thorton, don't you think you're overreacting a little bit?"
"No, not particularly."
"You can just reset the security alarms, you know."
"Sure, but that takes time. And, given that it's currently three in the morning, I'd much rather use that time to sleep than to fix a stupid problem like this."
Grimsley took the time to peek out from behind Marshal and eyed the Factory Head and his Charizard warily. "Hey, Caity, I was sort of expecting a friendlier reception for us."
"I tried to dodge, but to no avail. Already the sulfurous blaze was before me, and we could only watch helplessly as the ground melted into a pyroclastic fountain of molten—"
"Not helping, Shauntal," Marshal grunted.
"And Thorton, it's not exactly legal to set people on fire," Palmer added. The blond man whipped around at the sound of approaching footsteps. "Dahlia, you're just in time. Help me convince Thorton that it's both illegal and morally questionable to—"
"Where's the fire?" the Arcade Star interrupted urgently.
The Tower Tycoon paused. "Uh, what?"
"Wasn't that the fire alarm that was going off just a little while ago? I ran over as fast as I could..." The female Brain set one hand on her hip—the other was clenched around an industrial-sized fire extinguisher.
Thorton answered her question in a bored voice. "Oh, that. That wasn't the fire alarm, it was the 'security breached by a group of dumbasses' alarm."
Dahlia almost looked disappointed. "Oh, really? Hmm..." She shot her coworker's Charizard a thoughtful glance. "Okay, I've got it! You need to have your Pokémon set something on fire so I can put it out. That way, my trip over here won't have been a complete waste!"
At this, the Unova group exchanged a look. In a loud whisper, Grimsley said, "Quick, they're distracted! Now's our chance to escape—these people are completely insane!"
Dahlia blinked, only just now seeming to notice the Battle Frontier's five guests. "Oh. Hiya, Cait," she said brightly. "Uh, great job tripping Thorton's not-fire-alarm. Didn't you get that letter I wrote detailing the new passcodes? I asked Cynthia to give it to you."
There was a brief silence, during which Caitlin shot the black-haired woman a mildly guilty look. "...Yes, I think there's a small possibility that I may have thrown it away without opening it."
"Aww, why'd you do that? I worked hard on that letter! Even bought some fancy stationary and everything."
"Well, most of the letters I receive from you are incoherent walls of text that read like something out of Shauntal's notebook after she's had too much coffee. How was I supposed to know that there was something special about this particular one?"
The Arcade Star took on an injured expression. "Oh, come on, that's just a huge exaggeration. If you want awful letters, you should see the ones Darach wrote right after you left Sinnoh, when he spent the week hungover on my couch." Considering the situation, Dahlia's voice was extraordinarily cheerful. "I read some of them and nearly puked my guts out!"
"Yeah, that's something I really didn't need to know about, thank you," Caitlin grumbled. She crossed her arms and took a step back as a blur of purple entered her vision. "Um, Argenta—"
"For the love of Arceus, is this your new method for calling emergency meetings, Palmer?" the Hall Matron interrupted in a scolding voice, jogging over to the group. It looked as though she had attempted to apply her usual makeup in a great hurry, and Dahlia burst out into hysterical laughter. In contrast, the blond Frontier Brain leader gritted his teeth let out a frustrated groan. "Will you guys just shut up about my habit of emergency meetings? Seriously, this time it's not even my fault—it's Caitlin's." Childishly, he pointed an accusing finger at the Elite Four member in question.
"Argenta, I'm sorry, but you look downright frightening today," Caitlin said.
"Oh, well, it's nice to see you, too. But frightening, really? I was in quite a rush to get out the door after the alarm went off, sure, but it can't be that bad." The Hall Matron pulled a handheld mirror out of her pocket and peered at her reflection. Her eyebrows rose. "...Oh, damn, you're right." She quickly tugged her oversized sunglasses down to cover her mascara-stained eyes. "Better?"
"Sure, but now you just look ridiculous for wearing sunglasses in the dark," Thorton interjected. The female Frontier Brain shot him a glare in response.
Breaking the short silence that followed, the sound of footsteps prompted the others to look around as Darach approached the group from the Battle Castle. Looking tired, he offered a hesitant wave. "Hello, Lady Caitlin."
"Hi, Darach," Caitlin replied calmly.
"If I may ask, why are we all standing around outside?"
"We're standing outside because in my absence, the Battle Frontier seems to have gotten terrible at welcoming guests. What ever happened to proper etiquette?"
"Proper etiquette?" Marshal rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I'm pretty sure proper etiquette flew out the window as soon as we tripped the alarms—"
Caitlin punched the Fighting-type Elite in response, and promptly hurt her hand.
"In this foreign land, each direction led to a place just waiting to be explored. Would we first visit the skyward tower? Or perhaps the industrious factory? Or what about the—"
"Shauntal, you're doing it again," Alder said mildly.
"Well, she has the right idea, at least. I mean, shouldn't someone give us the grand tour now?" Grimsley spoke up innocently. Argenta sighed and narrowed her eyes from behind her sunglasses. Crossing her arms, she shot the Dark-type Elite a slightly annoyed look and said, "You are aware that it's still three in the morning, right? Forget about a grand tour—we should be trying to figure out sleeping arrangements for everyone instead."
"What, you need to get back to your beauty sleep or something?" the man laughed.
The Hall Matron was unamused. "Oh, very funny. If you don't shut up, your sleeping arrangements will consist of you spending every night of this visit on a park bench somewhere."
Grimsley pouted. "Caity, she's picking on me."
"Yeah, but you kind of deserve it," the former princess yawned. "So, how are we going to work this out..?"
Dahlia threw both of her arms into the air and let out a loud cheer. "Slumber party!"
At this suggestion, however, the four remaining Frontier Brains, as well as Caitlin, all exchanged a look of shared horror. "Miss Dahlia, you remember what happened the last time we had a slumber party here, don't you?" Darach asked with a weary sigh.
The Arcade Star mulled this question over for a few seconds, thinking hard. Finally she snapped her fingers with a victorious grin. "Oh, gotcha, you're talking about the time Cait accidentally set the carpet on fire, right?"
"Well, that wasn't the incident I had in mind, but..."
"Then you're talking about that time the pizzeria botched my order and delivered thirty-five pizzas to us by mistake?"
At this, Argenta pulled a face. "Guess again," the magenta-haired woman sighed, while simultaneously Palmer clutched at his stomach and groaned, "Arceus, I haven't even been able to look at a pizza since..."
"Not that time either, huh? Then..." Dahlia was silent for a short moment, before her expression brightened again. "Oh, I know! You mean that time the power went out and I thought the place was haunted by a group of hungry ghosts."
The Hall Matron gave a sagely nod. "Bingo."
There was another brief pause. The Arcade Star gave a small shrug. "...Hey, it wasn't that bad," she reasoned.
"Oh, really?" Thorton grumbled. "I seem to recall that night being one of the worst moments of my life, particularly when you mistook us for a group of said hungry ghosts."
Shauntal looked a little put out at this. "...Oh, come on, what's wrong with ghosts?"
Caitlin, on the other hand, pursed her lips and let out a heavy sigh. "Look, we're not having a stupid slumber party. In fact, you might remember I had you sign this last time we saw each other." She shoved a crumpled piece of paper into Dahlia's face.
"What is it, a restraining order?" The female Frontier Brain scanned the paper curiously, and it wasn't long before her expression scrunched into one of disbelief. "'I, Dahlia, do hereby promise to refrain from suggestions of strip poker, spin the bottle, and any other ridiculous wastes of time in the event that the Unova League visits the Battle Frontier...' Oh, you've got to be kidding me!" She whipped around with an incredulous groan. "What the hell, Cait? You made me sign a document?"
"Right. And now that we have that out of the way, let's get back to sleeping arrangements, shall we?"
The Arcade Star, however, was still staring at the paper in her hand. "...I don't remember signing this. Besides, the stupid thing looks handwritten."
Grimsley waved away the Frontier Brain's complaints by flashing a mischievous grin. "Well, it's not against the rules if I suggest something fun to do, right? Party at Caity's place!"
He and Dahlia exchanged a high five.
Caitlin slapped her forehead. "...And here I thought things couldn't possibly get worse."
We can look forward to some battles next chapter. :D
Grimsley and Dahlia are in direct competition for the 'let's make everyone's life difficult' award.