"Salamence! Use Draco Meteor!" The enormous blue Pokémon roared viciously, charging a ball of blue light in his mouth. His trainer quivered as he waited for the attack to finish charging. The twelve-year old had lost in the Hoenn League Championship two times already, and he wasn't prepared to lose again.

However, his opponent looked even more intense than he was. She was a girl of around fifteen, very tall and slender, with flowing green hair. Her eyes were a deep emerald, and seemed to pierce the soul of anyone she looked at. Her clothes were just as elegant and terrifying as the girl herself – a straight, deep green dress and a pair of high-heeled boots. The girl's name was Jade Esmer – and, as you could probably guess, she was a very showy person. She had donned the fancy dress and shoes simply to throw off the opponent – and so far, it seemed to be working.

"Airlia! Get in there with Dragon Claw!" Jade commanded in an icy voice. Her Altaria wheeled around and started to slash at the other Dragon-type with glowing talons. The Salamence roared in pain and took to the skies, all thought of actually attacking the troublesome opponent leaving his head. Airlia fluttered above her trainer, occasionally sending Ice Beams towards the terrified Salamence. The blue Pokémon was hit directly in the stomach and collapsed to the ground. Now was the time for the final blow. Airlia glowed with a brilliant light. Salamence's trainer screamed at him to get out of the way, but the exhausted Dragon-type could only watch in horror as the Sky Attack came at him.

"And the winner is Jade Esmer!"

Alena sighed in relief, fiddling with a Premier Ball in her hands. She was younger than Jade – somewhere around thirteen – and the differences didn't stop there. Her hair was plain, a sort of light brown color, and held back with a blue headband. She wore a simple t-shirt and a pair of tan shorts. Her eyes were a light blue, almost grey, and seemed to peak out shyly from her face.

"Jade won?"a tiny voice asked from her side. Alena glanced down with an annoyed look, glaring at a Pikachu with a strange mark under his left eye.

"Of course she did, Electrinz. These are just the preliminaries, the people who don't have all eight badges. Most of them are terribly weak. The only reason Jade is in them is because her father refuses to give her his badge." Jade's father was Norman – the leader of Petalsburg City. Jade… well; let's just say that she and her father did not have a very good relationship.

Electrinz frowned. "How much longer until we get to battle? I want to help win the League too! This is boring!"

"Just be patient," Alena told him. "Jade has one more match, and then she'll move onto the finals, I'm sure." So saying, she glanced up at the TV and immediately wished she hadn't.

Jade's next opponent had flashed up on the screen. He was the same age as her, and appeared to have a volcanic eruption taking place on top of his head. His clothes were an array of dark colors. Even Jade, who was normally cool and composed, looked as though her eyes were about to pop out of her head.

"Tyler Burn," Alena hissed. "That ass from the Sinnoh region. He's strong, but he's not very clever. He's easily tricked, and relies too much on power. He uses mostly Fire-types, but his starter Pokémon was Piplup. His main battler is Houndoom, and he has a Tyranitar that's a total powerhouse. Guy's pretty damn terrifying, in all honesty. They say that the only reason he's not the Champion of all of the regions yet is because of his uncanny ability to be disqualified. Likes to swear at the referees if they make a call that doesn't benefit him in some way."

Both of them winced as they saw the first Pokémon Tyler had sent out. Tyranitar. Alena averted her eyes as Jade sent out Tide, her Azumarill. The tiny Water-type was Jade's absolute worst Pokémon. She… well, to put it bluntly, never meant to capture the Pokémon, let alone train it, but he had been pretty much forced upon her as an Azurill by some old couple. Now, Jade had spent hours training him, but the most he ever did was beat a few, weak, wild Pokémon. For the most part, he was used for ferrying her across the sea, but never for battling. Because of this, Jade never sent him out unless she was trying to mind game the opponent somehow.

Either that or she had just given up completely.

"Tyranitar!" Tyler growled in an enraged voice, as though someone had just stepped on his foot. "Stone Edge!"

"Tide!" Jade commanded. "Counter it with Surf!"

Tyranitar charged at the Azumarill with glowing claws and a terrifying grin. Tide struggled to create a Surf that swirled around him and would hopefully stop the attack. As soon as he managed to get the attack going, Tyranitar slashed through the water, sending twin streams gushing on either side of it. In the middle of the watery tornado, Tide struggled to keep the enormous Rock-type at bay. Even with a type advantage, the Azumarill was simply too weak to touch the green Pokémon. Moments before Tyranitar's glowing claws touched him, Tide released a Blizzard attack.

Back at the waiting room, Alena and Electrinz jumped out of their seats in surprise. "Did you see that?" Alena questioned her Pikachu.

"Did you see that?" he fired back.

"It seems like Tide's been training – but Jade hasn't let him out of his Poké Ball for weeks now! He must have been training inside the Ball, or sneaking out…"

"He attacked without her ordering him to. Usually, Pokémon don't do that until they're more experienced! But seeing as how this is Tide doing this… Jade is going to punish him, isn't she?"

The two looked back at the screen. Tide was still holding Tyranitar back – Blizzard would push the powerful Pokémon to the other end of the stadium, while Surf could protect Tide while he endured the strain of powering the attacks. "His Power Points are going to wear out before long," Electrinz commented. "He won't have the energy left to power the attacks."

"That, or he'll be knocked out when he fails to block an attack." This new speaker had a strange tone to their voice – it was wise, calm, and gentle, but there was a strange feminine touch to it.

"I'd say Twig is probably right here," Alena said under her breath. "Tide is by no means at Tyranitar's level. The only reason that Tyler is even in the Prelims is because he spends all of his time training his Pokémon instead of challenging the Gyms."

Twig leapt over to the others, his pine tree-like tail bristling as he watched the television. The Sceptile was Alena's official starter – she had a Torchic before, but it had passed away before she went on her journey across Hoenn. The Fire-type had a rare disease, and Alena knew that it was doomed to live a short time. Her family had brought it in so it could live its short life in happiness, instead of being forced to fend for itself in the wild.

Twig… well, he was a strange Pokémon. While Electrinz was Alena's closest friend on the team, Twig was her mentor in some ways. He had been able to teach her most of the battle secrets only known to highly ranking trainers – because the secrets were only really secret to humans. Pokémon were able to comprehend the world of battling far more than even the most talented trainers, and made excellent teachers – wise, kind, but very much wild. Aside from his wisdom and battling ability Twig… well, actually, that was the end of his talents. He had a great love for coffee. Oh, and beautiful things. Although the social system of Pokémon was nowhere near as complex as that of humans, Alena knew that even other Pokémon could find Twig a bit… flamboyant.

Electrinz growled under his breath, casting a dark look at the Sceptile when Alena wasn't looking. Although he hated to admit it, Electrinz had a huge rivalry with Alena's starter Pokémon. Electrinz had a strange relationship with Alena – at first, he could not stand her, having been taken away from his home region of Kanto as a Pichu and forced into the strange new environment of the Hoenn Safari Zone. However, once he grew to trust her, Electrinz found that he trusted the girl far more than he had ever trusted the Pikachu girls he had known over his lifetime. Sure, Alena was a human – but there was a part of him that Electrinz knew wanted her attention and affection more than anything else.

Alena herself stood between the two glaring Pokémon, too transfixed by the screen to notice their fighting in the background. She watched in excitement as Tide was flung aside by the Tyranitar, only to get back up and weakly fire a Water Gun at the tremendous beast. The Rock-type sank to its knees, while Tide fell to the ground in a dead faint. Alena gasped as Jade sent out the weakened Airlia, who managed to get in the finishing blow on Tyranitar before collapsing herself.

Alena herself… she had become a trainer at age ten, as was the norm. Well… technically, she began when she was nine, but she was only a month away from being ten. The April before she turned ten – that's when she started journeying. Twig was the first Pokémon she caught, followed by Sander. Sander was a Flygon, and had a tendency to become obsessed with different Pokémon that she saw in magazines or TV. Her current infatuation was with Drake's Shelgon of the Elite Four. Whishcast was next – the little Pokémon was exceedingly mysterious – the only thing Alena knew about her was that she was incredibly young, had evolved under strange circumstances, had been a part of Team Aqua's mysterious experiments at one point, and was obsessed with glitter, sparkles, and bows. Electrinz was the newest member of the team – as previously stated, he was caught in the Safari Zone, but had been born in Kanto.

Alena was a person who had deep, long lasting passions for the things she enjoyed, and indifference to those that failed to entertain, educate, or serve any other useful purpose. She seemed to prefer the company of her Pokémon to that of other people, but that was hardly surprising. Alena had always been somewhat withdrawn, preferring to play with herself rather than with other children. She was… different from the rest, in more ways than one. You see, in the world Alena lived in, there were certain people who were born with gifts. Some people would grow up to be incredible artists or amazing businessmen. Some people were born with the ability to dance, or paint, or write. Some people were destined to be amazing trainers right from the get-go – of course, while Alena was a talented trainer presently, she had not always been as good and still took a while to learn certain things about battling. Some people could raise Pokémon amazingly, while others could teach them to make their attacks beautiful and powerful at the same time. Some people were able to understand the hearts of those around them, as though they were Psychic, although this was rarely the case. Alena, however? She was the exact opposite. She had two talents – one extraordinary, one mundane – but, which one was which depended on who you asked.

Alena had been born with the ability to speak to Pokémon. Throughout the country, there were plenty of people that had this ability, but it was still rare enough to warrant a double take when you first saw someone conversing with the strange creatures. It was perhaps this ability that had made Alena so detached from the humans around her – with their strange social orders and nonsensical thoughts, Alena felt closer to the Pokémon around her than with the humans. Her other gift? Alena was able to understand herself in a way that most people could not quite grasp. Every one of her reactions to something was something that she herself could have predicted. Everything she did was predictable to her, even though it might have surprised even those who knew her best.

Alena was… odd.

"Jade's loosing," Alena said in a flat sort of voice. "I didn't think she'd win against Tyler anyway." As though something had suddenly come over her, Alena stood up and walked in the direction of the locker rooms, prompting both of the bickering Pokémon to stop and rush after their trainer in worry.

"Alena? What are you thinking?" Electrinz asked, careful not to put too much of a nosey edge to his voice. He knew that Alena hated that.

"We'll be battling soon. If we can get the plan for the tournament – who's going against who – I'll be able to devise a strategy based on the people I'll likely be facing. All we need is the file on the computer, and the offices should be over here…" Alena darted into a side hallway, her eyes glowing with a radiance they only sported when she was in her element – when she was comfortable, happy, excited.

"Isn't that cheating?" Twig asked scornfully.

Alena looked back at him, smiling. "Unquestionably. But then again, do you really think any of the big name trainers got where they are with their purity and innocence intact?" So saying, the girl darted into a small room, donned a pair of white gloves, and began to see exactly who she would be up against.