I want to thank my beta reader Jakayrta for the help in this chapter, but also a big thanks to an old friend, Queenofspades19 for her contribution to this arc when I was starting out.
Countless lights bathed the crowded streets in a multicolored glow. Thousands of pedestrians scurried about like disturbed Trapinch. Neon signs hawking everything from poké balls to noodle houses hummed and pulsed with the beat of the city's life. The sizzling sound of food and the choir of venders selling refreshments, food and various objects of debatable worth served as its soundtrack.
Skyscrapers towered over the streets, their shadows looming over the city, but unable to pierce the fields of light below. Tonight was a special night, in more ways than one. A large percentage of the crowd was flocking to the newest event to reach Goldenrod City.
After months of construction, they were finally finished building the contest arena. The term "coordinator" was new to the people of Johto, heard only via word of mouth. People from all regions flocked towards the Johto region, bringing with them never-before-seen Pokémon, styles, and technology.
Two sapphire eyes gazed intently into a mirror. There was no movement, no sound until the girl blinked. She scanned over every centimeter of her face for flaws like a hunting Pidgeot. She didn't know why; it wasn't like the judges had telescopes aimed at her face. But she still wanted to look her best.
Her light brown hair had no split ends and was brushed straight; her face was clean and smooth, so no problems there. Once May was comfortable with her appearance she decided on what she would wear to the competition.
"I could wear the desert princess outfit that I wore in Sinnoh, Wait! The judges already saw that one. Arrh! Why do they always have the same judges? Well…maybe except for the Nurse Joys, it's always a different one…but they all look the same!" May grumbled.
Her eyes settled on the open wardrobe and its contents. "Hey, the judges haven't seen my other Sinnoh outfit!" she said.
Sparing no time, May darted over to the wardrobe and slipped into her orange outfit, slid into her matching orange shoes, and tied the green bandana around her head. The only things that hadn't changed from her previous ensemble were her black shorts and her white and black gloves.
She checked her pockets, fishing for something until she found it, pulling up two things. One was a wrinkled picture of her mom, dad, and Max – her little brother. The other was half of a ribbon that she and Ash had battled for long ago. She smiled at both of them, remembering her family, as well as Brock and Ash. Her hand rose to stifle a yawn; she wondered why they were doing the first round at midnight.
"Wish me luck," she whispered and put the mementos back in her pockets. She just needed two more ribbons to have a total of five and be equal with the others. May stepped out of the dressing room and met three familiar faces amid the group of coordinators in the waiting room.
The first coordinator was an elegant but laid back youth named Drew. His piercing green eyes scrutinized May, a cynical smile forming on his lips as examined her.
The second coordinator was Solidad, an attractive young woman with flowing dark pink hair. The veteran coordinator allowed herself a smile as her azure eyes analyzed May from head to toe. Her ensemble was simple but still elegant: an orange long-sleeved shirt that meshed perfectly with her burgundy skirt, belt, and boots.
Behind the yellow couch was the final coordinator, Harley. The very sight of May brought his eyebrows together in an unfriendly scowl. A pair of aqua eyes bored into her.
His purple hair cascaded down to his shoulders, a dark green pyramid shaped hat was pulled down slightly so to hide his eyes. His pants and shirt were modeled after a Cacturne and a dark undershirt exposed a portion of his midsection.
"Well? What d'ya think?" May asked.
"It looks wonderful, May," Solidad replied.
"You spent that entire time to change into that?" Drew said in disbelief. His eyes shifted up and down her form, scrutinizing every centimeter.
"What's wrong with it?" May demanded.
"Don't listen to him, it looks just fine," Solidad replied.
"I just don't see the point. You went in there to change your outfit, all ya did was change the colors of the original one," Drew said with a sigh, casually brushing away a jade lock of hair away from his face.
"At least I'm trying something different, look at you!" May retorted, pointing an accusing finger at Drew's attire. Drew looked down at his outfit: a lavender shirt over a black, long-sleeved undershirt, and aqua jeans.
Drew shrugged indifferently, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Besides, outfits don't earn you any points, it's what ya do with your Pokémon," he replied.
"You never did like flashy outfits," Solidad said with a chuckle.
"I prefer to rely on something practical, like the attacks."
"You never know. Judges get bored of seeing the same old attacks, they might feel the same way about your outfit," May countered.
"Honey, trust me, the judges don't care. You aren't gonna impress them with that," Harley said with a sigh. His eyes remained closed as he leaned against the wall.
"Of all the people to give fashion advice, a guy wearing a creepy Cacturne costume should be the last."
Drew tilted his head back and laughed. Harley's eyes snapped open, glaring murderously at May "She did not just…" he grumbled.
"And for our first contestant, May!" the announcer said into her microphone. The amplified voice was easily heard inside the waiting room
"I think that's my cue," May said, swiftly turning on her heels and striding towards the stage entrance. She tried her best to conceal her anger as she was sure it would not make a favorable impression on the judges.
"Good luck May," Solidad said, unsure if May had even heard her from the distance she put between them.
Drew turned his head back only to see Harley scowl at him. "Frown all you want, that was funny," he said, wiping an imaginary tear from his eye.
"I'll show you something funny," Harley mumbled, barely loud enough for Drew to hear. Drew's demeanor changed rapidly, turning his head completely in Harley's direction.
"What did you do this time?"
"Why do you care? Afraid your little girlfriend is gonna make a fool of herself in front of hundreds of people?" Harley taunted. Drew's face made no sign of being affected by the mention of "girlfriend", much to Harley's surprise; he was expecting something like blush or a stuttering denial.
"Doesn't have to be my girlfriend for me to believe in fair play," Drew retorted.
"Well you and I see fairness in different lights."
"And here I thought that you had feelings for her, Drew," Solidad said. Her calm and piercing stare succeeded where Harley's biting words failed.
"Please give a warm welcome to May, the coordinator princess of Hoenn!" the voice boomed from behind the curtains leading to the stage. Drew took the opportunity to gaze in the direction of the sound, waiting for his blush to fade.
The flat screen T.V. in the coordinator waiting room blinked to life, showing May on the big screen. Every few seconds, the camera shifted to show her from a different angle.
Drew allowed himself a curt smile.
She's stronger now. I can just tell from how she talked to us, she didn't pull any punches. She's gonna be a strong coordinator, it's kinda interesting to see her grow. She may not know it, but it's pretty rare to see such talent for this kinda thing. Drew thought.
May's fists swung at her sides rapidly as she walked, her cheeks puffed up in frustration.
I just wanted them to notice me, but why? Why should I care what they think? Even if Drew's better than me, why should his opinion matter at all? I don't need him to tell me I'm good, I know I'm a good coordinator. She thought.
"Please give a warm welcome to May, the coordinator princess of Hoenn!" The announcer's voice echoed in her head and the walls.
May blushed a little, she didn't expect anyone to give her that title, and she didn't think she had done enough to actually earn it. She was even surprised to know that her title had spread to even the Sinnoh region, considering that Dawn had heard of her.
Bright lights marked the exit of the hallway and stage entrance; May's blush quickly disappeared. She was still a bit angry with Drew and Harley, but pretended to look happy for the stage.
The second she entered it was like stepping in an entirely new world, the cheering from the crowds nearly deafened her. No longer did she have to pretend to smile; a genuine smile replaced the false one as she caught sight of her fans.
She waved and smiled to the crowd as she headed towards the stage, where at the end sat the judges. May ignored the judges' introductions, contemplating on what Pokémon she should display.
She wondered why they even bothered introducing the judges if – with the exception of the Joys – they were always the same. Mr. Sukizo always bothered her somewhat since it looked like he was squinting or had his eyes closed. The only thing that ever came out of his mouth was "remarkable" for almost every coordinator.
I guess I could start with a bang; this'll be Goldenrod's first Pokémon contest. I think I have just the thing to blow them away. Good thing I picked this up when I went to the Wallace Cup, I don't think even Harley or Drew have this yet. May thought as a smile crept across her lips.
"Blaziken, take the stage!" May cried, throwing her poké ball. Before Blaziken was even released, flames enveloped the poké ball. With a burst of light, the poké ball opened, releasing Blaziken. Flames coated his body as he kneeled on the ground. The flames flickered out of existence as Blaziken stood up and roared, sending the embers in every direction.
Blaziken suddenly began shadowboxing, bobbing and weaving as he fired a volley of jabs, hooks and uppercuts at an invisible opponent. The punches started off slow and became faster and faster until only blurs of its fists were seen. The crowed cheered at Blaziken's display of martial prowess. Blaziken then switched tactics, lashing out with a flurry of kicks. Some were basic front kicks while others were dazzling midair roundhouse kicks.
The guys in the crowd were impressed, even some of the girls couldn't help but to watch in awe. Many of them had never seen a Blaziken before and to see such power and swiftness before them was impressive.
Waves of heat began to shimmer all around Blaziken; his wrists now ablaze as he did a Blaze Kick. May felt the room grow slightly warmer, gusts of heat actually reached the audience. The judges nodded in interest and the crowd hooted and cheered.
"All right Blaziken, let's do a Fire Spin," May commanded. Blaziken nodded and tilted his head back, aiming at the ceiling and breathing tornado of flame from his beak.
"Okay Blaziken, now use Sky Upper-"
Blaziken's eyes opened wide, his entire body began to shudder, as the flames on his wrists grew hotter and larger. He fell to his knees; his hands holding his head while the flaming tornado continued to whirl above them. The flames licked the ceiling, spreading instantly onto the nearby curtains. Pulsing white flashes of light and ear piercing shrieks came from the fire alarms as the curtains caught fire. Several of the spectators got up to leave as the alarms went off.
May's heart leapt into her throat; Goldenrod City's first Pokémon contest had now become a total disaster. "Blaziken, stop!" May screamed. Blaziken was in too much pain to hear its trainer's voice. She tried returning Blaziken, but the Pokémon refused to be returned.
The burning curtains had now ignited the ceiling tiles and embers began to rain onto the crowd and onto the judges. The poké balls in May's pocket suddenly opened themselves. May looked on in horror as her Pokémon convulsed in the throes of some unknown ailment.
Glaceon arched her body in pain, lashing out with Ice Beam attacks at an imaginary enemy. Wartortle hid into its shell and spun rapidly. Streams of water shot out of each hole in the shell, punching holes into areas of the stage.
Some of the attacks barely missed the people as screams of terror replaced the cheers. Further adding to the pandemonium was the incessant bleating of the fire alarms. The judges were horrified, unsure whether to leave their stands; the decision being made for them when a section of the stage collapsed right in front of them.
The panicked spectators flocked to the exit only to find them clogged by their own bodies. A vicious free-for-all broke out with the spectators punching, kicking and shoving each other in a desperate rush to escape the blaze
Embers landed onto some of the people from above, igniting some hapless spectators and sending some of them into a panic as they ran into others, spreading the chain of fire. Others removed the burning clothes as quickly as they could, discarding their modesty in favor of their life. Still others of them rolled onto the ground to put out the fire, only to be trampled by those trying to escape. Some of those fleeing caught fire as the human rug they ran over wasn't entirely put out. Some people managed to put out their fires, others weren't able to put it out fast enough and still others were reignited as soon as they had put the fire out.
May stood frozen amidst the nightmarish sight; she felt that in seconds her entire world was falling apart. People were dying left and right and it was all her fault; all she could do was wonder how everything had gone so wrong in so little time.
Drew watched in horror at the screen, as did everyone else. They were watching the train wreck unfold before them. At first they watched in interest at Blaziken's martial arts display. Their interest turned into laughter when May's Blaziken began to act up.
Interest soon changed to horror when they saw a metal section of the stage snap off from the heat and land on the judge's stand.
They watched as Mr. Sukizo's legs were caught under the metal bars. On impact, one of the spotlights exploded and sent a shower of white hot sparks onto Mr. Sukizo's pant leg, setting it on fire. Nurse Joy and Raoul Contesta escaped, abandoning Mr. Sukizo as he was burned alive, screaming for help that would not come.
They watched as the panicked spectators battered each other trying to escape the inferno. They turned away as some spectators were burned alive from the flaming debris that rained on the crowd.
They saw May's other Pokémon thrashing about or beating themselves in a desperate attempt to numb their pain.
Drew, eyes filled with fury as hot as the fires that raged on stage, turned furiously towards Harley. "What did you DO!" he thundered.
Harley's eyes couldn't stop watching the carnage onscreen. He could only shake his head as his jaw dropped. "This…this…isn't me…I…I didn't do this!" he replied. He was utterly flabbergasted that Drew accused him of causing the mayhem they were seeing.
Drew stared at Harley; the shock in his eyes said it all: this wasn't his doing. The green haired youth turned to look at his oldest rival. Solidad's once tranquil pools of azure were now quivering at the carnage on the screen.
Suddenly, an intense white light like the Sun filled the room, blinding everyone present. To their horror, the chaos spread and was now within the small and cramped room. Every poke ball had released its inhabitant, filling the cramped room to capacity. And every Pokémon was in the throes of the same affliction that had struck May's Blaziken.
Drew's Roserade held onto her head, writhing in pain while Harley's Banette gave a bloodcurdling screech in the background. Flygon rammed its head into the wall, instantly shattering it. Every scream from it caused orange beams of Dragon Breath to lance out, tearing holes in whatever they touched.
Harley's Cacturne began beating his own head with his arms, unconsciously stabbing himself with his spikes. Whether Cacturne didn't feel the punctures or didn't care, he continued to do so.
Harley ran over to Cacturne grabbing his arms in a desperate attempt to restrain him. Harley winced as blood began to seep out of his palms, but that didn't stop him from holding his Cacturne back. It surprised Harley to see his Cacturne's spikes actually making him draw blood, but he wouldn't let his Pokémon die for a few drops of his own.
It seemed that every inch Drew came closer to his Roserade, the more pain she felt. He had to make the tortured decision of keeping at bay from Roserade and watching her suffer or come closer and cause her more agony.
Solidad stared at her Slowbro, seemingly unaffected by whatever plagued everyone's Pokémon. Her Lapras was a different matter entirely, firing bursts of ice with every cry.
Some of the coordinators in the room either tried to calm their Pokémon or simply bolted, fearing for their lives.
A white lance of lightning pierced the ceiling as Harley's Banette used Thunder on itself. At that point, everyone's Pokémon began attacking randomly, completely destroying the room and killing whatever was unlucky enough to be in their path, human or Pokémon.
The flash from the intense lightning bolt blinded everyone; all Drew could see was purple as he jumped out of the way of the blast. His hearing soon failed him as well when an ear-shattering roar came in the wake of the Thunder.
"Cacturne, stop!" Harley yelled. He was totally blind from the flash and almost deaf from the roar of the thunderclap. Banette was still alive in the center of a scorched ring and blackened, unrecognizable bodies. Drew's eyesight slowly returned; his eyes landing on May's quivering form attempting to retreat to the hallway.
Drew's body moved forward without reason, he didn't know why he moved; his body just did so. He dodged a blast of water from her Wartortle and ran around her Venusaur, who had knocked down a wall.
He grabbed May's wrist, pulling her into the safety of the hallway. Her body sank into the wall; her shoulders continued trembling under Drew's hands.
"What were you doing out there? Did you want to get killed?" Drew scolded shakily. He was mildly upset at her for being frozen out on the stage when the mayhem started but at the same time, he was relieved that she had not been killed.
May could only stare into his eyes; her gaze was blank and dead, her cracking voice could only utter the word "Drew".
Her flushed face had streaks of tears, she was deaf to Drew as he yelled her name. Drew slapped her face, which partially bought her back to the present. Her body continued to tremble and she became conscious of the fact that was crying but she showed no intention of stopping.
Drew hadn't expected her sudden embrace; he did his best to hold her up when her legs failed her. He felt his shoulder begin to dampen, but that became the least of his worries. Her body was quivering against him; her skin was pale and cold to the touch.
Drew looked to his right, seeing Blaziken firing burst after burst of Flamethrower in random directions and assailing an invisible enemy with frenzy of kicks and punches just he saw it do before. But this time it was utterly terrifying instead of dazzling. He looked around as the rampaging Pokémon tore up more of the lounge. He braced himself for what he felt would be his inevitable death.
And as suddenly it started, it stopped. There was silence, save for the incessant shriek of the fire alarms. Drew looked out on the stage – or what was left of it. There, Blaziken and the rest of May's Pokémon lay unconscious.
He turned to his left and saw Harley's unconscious Cacturne on the ground; a pool of blood slowly formed under each of Harley's arms, now badly lacerated from his desperate attempts at restraining Cacturne. Drew took May's poké balls, aimed them at all of her unconscious Pokémon and recalled them. He went over to his own unconscious Pokémon and returned them as well after he examined each of them for sign of a pulse.
Few people had survived the onslaught; several Pokémon lay over the corpses of their trainers. Solidad had taken refuge behind the couch – or the charred and tattered mass of cloth and wood that used to be a couch. She had recalled all her Pokémon except Slowbro, who stared around the room in curiosity as if it had missed what had just happened.
Despite Solidad's calm demeanor, she was visibly shaken up about what had transpired, but then again who wouldn't? Corpses charred beyond recognition lay scattered in one corner of the room; mangled bodies lay in their individual puddles of blood, spilling from wounds carved into them. Walls had crumbled and limp limbs protruded through the scarlet stained rubble.
It was difficult to see if any Pokémon had survived as they were sprawled on the ground and painted in an amalgamation of everyone's blood. Trainers – some wounded, but all crying – stood silently over their dead Pokémon. Solidad remained silent throughout the entire affair, bottling up her screams and distress until later; luckily none of her Pokémon had died.
The room grew quiet as the few surviving coordinators bolted, some with their Pokémon, others without. Harley, Solidad, May, and Drew were the only ones who remained among the dead. Solidad saw Drew and May from the corner of her eye, releasing a breath it seemed she had been holding.
Before she could call out to them, she saw Harley recalling his Pokémon and bolting. His once white shoes were now stained red as he stepped over the bodies without remorse. Solidad went after him, calling out his name with worry and fear in her voice. She stopped at the doorway and looked back at Drew, torn between staying with them and following her oldest friend.
Drew motioned her to follow Harley by craning his neck in the flamboyant man's direction. No words were needed, Solidad understood and nodded. She had wanted to say something, but glanced down the street to find the distance between Harley and herself growing. She threw a weary glance at Drew and May before sprinting off. Once Drew was sure everyone had left, he pulled May into the streets of Goldenrod City.
May seemed to be in a daze, mute and obedient as Drew pulled her by the wrist. She seemed oblivious to everything, posing no resistance to wherever Drew dragged her. Drew was very careful to look out for anyone that might see them; he wanted to avoid as much attention as possible.
Both he and May made their way through the darkened alleys of Goldenrod City; it was only after Drew was satisfied with their seclusion that they stopped. He let go of May's wrist; she fell back and flattened herself against the wall as if she were trying to meld into it. Her legs were like jelly, giving out beneath her and making her land roughly onto her rear.
Drew had been holding himself steady with one arm against the opposite wall, trying to calm himself down. His heart was beating so fast; his mind thinking of too many things at once. No matter how many times he told himself to calm down and think clearly, his mind wouldn't obey.
He heard May's feet slide out from underneath her; he turned to see her fall. She made no sound to show if the fall had hurt her. Drew walked over to her, extending his hand.
"Get up, May," he panted, May gave no notice that she even heard. She sat there; limp, the only movements were shallow sobs and a quivering body.
Drew crouched down to her level, placing both hands on her shoulders.
"May…May, look at me," Drew ordered. At first she didn't, but became compliant, emerald met azure.
"May, you need to pull yourself together, okay?" he said.
May just stared at him as if he was speaking a foreign language; she tried to speak, but stuttered horribly at first. After a few more tries, she finally made a coherent sentence.
"I…I killed them" she said, her voice cracking.
"No, no you didn't kill anyone, it was the Pokémon. This was all an accident; it was no one's fault. You did nothing wrong," Drew said.
"T-they're my Pokémon, I…I'm responsible for-"
"There's no way you could foreseen this; no one could've controlled this. May, the same thing happened in the waiting room. People died, the Pokémon killed their trainers and each other. You need to calm down, can you do that?" Drew asked, gently shaking her for emphasis.
May didn't want logic, she just wanted someone to hold her and let her cry. Someone to tell her that everything was going to be all right and that this was all a bad dream. But there was no one there that could do that for her, except the person standing before her.
He wouldn't do it, only if she had asked him to, but the embarrassment would eat at her afterwards, she worried that he would hold it against her. The last thing she wanted to do was to look weak in front of him. Her parents would've done it if they were here, Ash would've done it if he were here. She had forced herself into Drew's embrace before; she didn't think she could do it again, for many obvious reasons.
This was something that Drew wasn't accustomed at handling; he had never seen May so shaken up. He didn't exactly know how to make it better, but there were other things that he needed to take care of.
"May, I need you to stay here while I go to the Pokémon center. I need to check out my Pokémon, if you want I can take yours too?" Drew said, getting up and heading into another alley. He already had May's Pokémon on his person.
May made the effort of getting up. "Wait! Drew, don't…" May trailed off. She wanted him to stay with her; she didn't want to be left alone in a dark and empty alleyway. Even if it meant being in an alley with Harley, she'd rather be with anyone than be alone at the moment.
Drew forced a smile, pulling something out of his shirt and flinging it at May. It landed perfectly on her lap; she looked down and was surprised.
"Drew, these are-!"
"Yeah, so if you don't believe in me coming back for you, then here's another incentive for me," Drew said with a smile. He nonchalantly batted away a stray strand of his green hair as casually as he could before running off in the direction of the Pokémon center.
May rubbed her eyes and dried her tears, her head hurt from all the crying. She looked in the direction that Drew ran in, then to the case on her lap that held all of Drew's ribbons.
It was after he was sure that he was out of May's earshot and sight, that he let himself shake, let himself worry, let himself scream and let out all the things he had bottled up around her.
His heart rate climbed, not because he began to run as fast as he could, but because of the stress. The running failed to put even a dent in his stress levels; he tried smacking and punching himself into normalcy. He squeezed his shaking wrist, choking it into stillness, but the shaking would not die; he felt as if the arm were no longer his own.
Drew eventually left the dark alleyways and reached the sidewalk where he found people all walking in one direction. He had to constantly remind himself that there was no reason he should be panicked. His logic finally reached his body and allowed him to stop shaking.
"My Pokémon are fine, they're fine. They'll wake up; they're just passed out. I have no reason to worry. My Pokémon aren't in any trouble, they didn't kill anyone; they only damaged the area. Calm down, move slowly, and act normal. Be casual, you'll look less suspicious that way. No one's gonna find her in the alleyways, I'll just check out my Pokémon to see if their okay," Drew said mentally.
He began following the crowd as to look normal, his face vacant of any expression, which ended up being harder than he'd imagined. The crowd was on the way to the Pokémon center so he went with it. He suddenly felt that something must've happened up ahead; everyone was heading in the same direction. Something, that if memory served, only happened when a disaster had occurred.
He was halfway to the Pokémon center when a huge crowd blocked the entire street. The entire river of people began to pool around the edges, making the crowd grow larger. Curious bystanders craned their necks to see what had happened; Drew fought off his curiosity and focused on getting to the Pokémon center, the faster the better.
Drew tried walking around the growing crowd; it was then that more police arrived at the scene. The crowd parted begrudgingly for the contingent of Officer Jennies. The parted crowd gave Drew a glimpse at the scene in the center.
Large holes had been punched through several buildings in a row, each hole bigger than the last. At the end of the destruction was a large crater, with a ball of pink in the center. Drew recognized the Pokémon from the size, the black and pink hide, and the stubby white horns on its head.
The Miltank was passed out, sprawled out on the ground and unmoving. Someone was hugging her as if for dear life, crying her eyes out. Drew could make out her features from a distance. Her pink hair was short, two tufts of hair poked out from the sides in the back of her head. Her outfit was nearly all white, except for the bands of pink that were at the edges of her shirt.
The Jennies began to shoo away bystanders, repeating the standard police speech of "there's nothing to see here, move along."
Drew rolled his eyes. Nothing to see! That Pokémon just made house-sized holes through skyscrapers! I wonder why they haven't collapsed yet? He thought.
He suddenly became wary of the damaged buildings before him, having the urge to leave as fast as he could. Some of the Jennies were working with the girl in white to pick up the Miltank and move her to a safer area. They were making little progress, barely lifting her off the ground. Everyone watched; no one made any attempt to help them. Drew stopped, his ethics battled with his paranoia on the inside.
Everyone just looked at each other, as if expecting the other to do what they were thinking. No one took initiative; none of the officers called for aid, so everyone just stood and watched, despite the obvious need of assistance. Drew became somewhat perturbed at the sight of the hesitant crowd.
Wait, they're gonna be taking the Miltank to a safer place, it'll probably be the Pokémon center! If I go with them, the crowd will move out of my way and I can get to the center faster! Drew thought. He shoved his way through the crowd and made his way over to the struggling officers.
No one stopped him or questioned him on his way to officers. He positioned himself to help carry the Miltank; his extra strength was just what they needed to move her. It wasn't that he was very strong, but the extra hands did make a significant improvement with the lifting of the Pokémon a little over one hundred and fifty pounds. Even with the multiple people carrying Miltank, they all still found her still very heavy to move.
"I really appreciate what you're doing. Thank you so much," the pink haired girl said.
"Not a problem, I just can't believe all those people just stood there and watched," Drew said. He made no effort to hide his anger or the strain from lifting the Miltank.
"Are you a Pokémon trainer?"
"I guessed only a person who has Pokémon could understand and try to help out," the girl replied.
Drew wisely decided not to tell the girl that he was a coordinator, fearing it would link him to the incident only a few minutes earlier at the contest hall with all the police around him.
"Well anyway, my name's Whitney," the girl said.
Drew debated whether he should tell her his name or give a false name. After a few seconds, he felt it was safe to be honest, stalling with a grunt.
"Name's Drew," he quickly said.
The next few minutes were spent carrying Miltank over to the Pokémon center. People were flooding into Pokémon center, dozens entering and few exiting.
A Nurse Joy approached them with a gurney. Everyone gently laid Miltank on it. Each of the carriers gave a sigh of relief now that the weight was off their shoulders.
"We'll take it from here," the Nurse Joy said, pushing the gurney into the Pokémon center with little difficulty. Drew noticed that the Nurse Joy before him was the same Nurse Joy who had just survived the disaster at the contest hall. She was so frantic with everything that was going she hadn't noticed him.
Every nurse available had been put to work, as was the same with the police officers. Whitney followed the nurse into the Pokémon center, turning towards Drew as she walked away. "Thank you so much," she said, disappearing into the confines of the Pokémon center.
The Officer Jennies behind him were all talking in unison to their walkie-talkies, it was a wonder how they were able to understand what anything was being said. The words were rapid and frantic, the officers took a while to organize themselves into who went where; this wasn't the only accident tonight.
Before the officers split up, one stayed behind and turned to Drew.
"Thank you for helping us out there young man. Before you go, we just want to know if you've seen this girl," the officer said, pointing to a picture.
Drew tried not to make any reaction to the picture in front of him; right before him was a picture of May. His heart began beating faster; he could hear the thumping in his ears, hoping that the officer before him couldn't hear the same. Drew pretended to study the picture.
It was May wearing her old red outfit, holding her Bulbasaur against her chest. The background was that of the sea. Handrails behind her indicated that she was on a ship or a pier. Drew could tell that this picture was from a long time ago since May now had a Venusaur.
He tried not to pause for too long as not to arouse suspicion. "I haven't seen her," he replied, making sure to keep his eyes pointed towards the ground. If they couldn't see his eyes, they wouldn't be able to tell if he was lying.
"All right then, well thank you anyway, you've already helped us so much, I'm sorry that I don't have anything to give you. Tonight's not the best night to be out, I suggest you find a safe place to stay," the officer said.
Drew nodded, watching her trot away a few yards before calling her back.
"Wait, Officer Jenny! Just out of curiosity, why are you looking for that girl? Is she missing?" Drew asked.
"No, we were informed that she was responsible for an accident in the new Goldenrod contest building."
"What did she do? Is she dangerous?"
"We don't know, but she may have been responsible for the deaths of many people. We need her for questioning," Officer Jenny replied.
Drew nodded; "I'll keep an eye out for her and tell you if I see her," he said.
The officer smiled and began running into the direction of what was probably another incident. Once she was out of earshot, Drew sighed and turned towards the Pokémon center, only to see Harley waiting for him.
His arms were bandaged and his Cacturne patterned shirt was gone, leaving only his tattered black undershirt. Harley's hat was also missing, though the shadows of the night veiled his eyes.
Harley approached him with a form of self-torture. Every sashay of his hips brought about a wince as the pain wracked his body.
Drew couldn't help feeling somewhat bad for a Harley having seen him hurt himself for his Pokémon. His early departure must've been to get to the hospital.
"Where is she?" Harley demanded.
"Why would I know?" Drew replied. All pity he had for Harley instantly dissolved with that single heartless demand.
"Don't play retard with me. I know you went to go get your little girlfriend and you two waited for everyone to leave. Where is she? If you haven't noticed, the police are looking for her."
"Why do you care?"
"I think that the authorities should deal with May, that's all," Harley replied, feigning innocence.
Solidad exited the nearby hospital where Harley had been treated for his wounds. She ran over to Harley.
"Harley, you left your notebook in th-" Solidad said before a distracted and frantic trainer holding an unconscious Growlithe in his arms bumped into her, causing Harley's green notebook to slide towards them. All of a sudden, Solidad's path was momentarily blocked by a tall man rushing his unconscious and battered Eevee to the Pokémon center. Harley's heavily bandaged hands made it painful and difficult to grab his notebook. Drew decided to do it for him.
"Don't touch it!" Harley snapped. His command fell on deaf ears as Drew snatched the notebook off the ground, opening it as Solidad came into view. At first, Drew thought it was an album, but upon closer inspection he recognized several people in the pictures. They were all coordinators. Some of them had insulting and profane doodles scribbled over them, others were simply crossed out. The book was filled save for one spot.
"Drew? Wait, Drew where's May?" Solidad asked, scanning the vicinity.
Drew's eyes widened, a crazy idea had just popped into his mind, and part of him didn't want to believe it, Harley's notebook hitting the floor once more.
"You didn't…" Drew asked incredulously, trailing off.
"Didn't do what?" Harley asked with feigned innocent.
"You gave the police a picture of her and told them that she was a killer…didn't you?"
Harley was caught off guard by the statement and frowned, averting his guilty gaze from Drew. The action spoke louder than words.
"That girl's dangerous. She killed people and she nearly leveled the contest hall," Harley said in an attempt to justify his actions. Drew was momentarily stunned at the revelation.
"Harley, Drew, what's going on?" Solidad asked. She was unaware of the discussion that had previously transpired.
"YOU BASTARD! You're doing this just to get her in trouble! You can't let it go that she's beaten you; that she could be better than you!" Drew screamed, grabbing Harley's shirt.
"Better! Than me? That little bitch has been only been in contests for a few months; I've been in it for YEARS. I have more ribbons than she does, more experience than her. Sure, she got a few easy wins but that means NOTHING!" Harley thundered.
"Harley!" Solidad stepped back in revulsion at Harley's overt display of hatred for May.
"Can't you admit that she's special, that maybe she was made for this? You have no right to take something that she's good at away from her, it isn't fair; it isn't RIGHT!" Drew shouted.
"I DON'T CARE IF IT'S RIGHT OR NOT! She's not gonna get into my way of fame!" Harley bellowed.
"I…I just can't believe you're so…so…" Drew was so enraged that he couldn't even finish his sentence. His face was vivid red from the sheer anger he felt. He couldn't accept that someone he respected was being penalized for their talent.
"You disgust me in more ways than I ever could've imagined. I'm not gonna let you mess May up for your own selfish goals," Drew spat.
Drew's voice suddenly became a whisper as he grabbed Harley's collar and yanked him down to his eyelevel, his tone dark and angry. "And just so you know, I saw your Pokémon kill too. No one else might've seen, but I saw your Banette use Thunder. If she goes down, so do you," Drew hissed.
"Is that a threat?" Harley growled.
"No, it's a promise."
Drew walked past Harley, making sure to shove his arm out of the way, Harley winced. Drew had wanted to do more, like punch him in the stomach, but decided against it since making a scene would make things worse.
Drew looked around; everyone was too busy to even notice that they had been screaming at the top of their lungs. The sirens of the ambulances carrying the human victims to the nearby hospital helped mask the shouting match as well. Drew continued to walk, making his way slowly through the impatient crowd.
Harley bent down to pick up the pictures that had spilled out of his vendetta album. Solidad looked at him, her frigid stare catching his attention.
"What do you want?" Harley spat, his bandaged fingers fumbling with the photos.
"Harley…I…I always pegged you as an interesting guy and a great coordinator. You're one of my oldest friends… I never thought you would stoop this low. I thought you were better than that," she said. Harley did his best to ignore her pained expression.
Not once did he look up at her. He was busying himself with futilely gathering the pictures for the vendetta album. Solidad waited for his response, but after a few minutes of silence, she swiftly left without a word.
Drew finally managed to enter the Pokémon center; in all his life he had never seen it as busy as now. Dozens of Nurse Joys were running back and forth frantically to meet the needs of every patient. One could see that they were exhausted and sleep deprived by their movements.
Trainers, families, and coordinators much like himself were pacing nervously, crying, or doing something to console or distract themselves. Some of them were yelling angrily at the nurses for not attending their Pokémon first, as if they were more important than the others. Drew was so hypnotized by the simultaneous traffic or people that he hadn't noticed that one of the Nurse Joys had come to greet him, catching him by surprise.
"Excuse me, sir?" Nurse Joy asked.
"Huh, what? Oh, sorry. Yeah, I came here to have my Pokémon checked," Drew said.
The nurse gave an uncomfortable laugh while still trying to maintain a smile; beads of sweat were actually rolling down her forehead.
"Now, was your Pokémon physically injured severely, or did it just pass out after a spasm?" she asked, trying to be as polite as possible.
"I think all of them only passed out," Drew replied.
"Oh, I'm sorry then. As you can see, the Pokémon center is a little overloaded at the moment, all of our Chansey and Blissey were affected by whatever affected your Pokémon. We're a bit short on hands so we can only accept and treat Pokémon that were severely injured during their spasm, which doesn't include minor scratches, bruises, and bumps. If you yourself have been injured, then I would be happy to direct you to the human hospital. I hope you understand."
"Oh, all right then, but are my Pokémon okay?" Drew asked, hoping that he wasn't bothering her with too many questions.
"We've treated the Pokémon that only passed out, and they seem to be perfectly fine, they're in a deep sleep and all they need to do is rest. They should feel better in the morning."
Drew nodded and made his way out the center, feeling somewhat relieved that May's Pokémon and his own were fine.
It took a while for him to find his way back to the alleyways where he had left May. When he arrived he was relieved to see that May was still there, sitting and patiently waiting for him.
In her solitude, she had managed to calm herself down, convincing herself that it wasn't her fault. She found it a lot easier to place the blame on her Pokémon; even then no one could blame them for what had happened to them. It was happening to every Pokémon and was an involuntary action – or so Drew claims. She was mostly sad for the people who died and scared of what her Pokémon had done.
What puzzled her the most was why her Pokémon's attacks had suddenly become so...lethal. Had her Pokémon been hiding that strength from her all that time?
Drew cleared his throat loudly, catching May's attention nearly instantly. He looked into her eyes, and for once he really looked into them. They were on another continent, a foreign city that they had never been to before, far away from friends and family. At the moment, he was the only person that she was giving this look to. Her eyes were red and puffy from the crying, but still bright with hope and happiness.
"Sorry if I took too long," he said.
"No, it's fine. You weren't gone too long," May said, walking over to him. Each of her steps echoed off the dark walls. "Are our Pokémon okay?"
"Yeah, the Nurse Joy said they were fine, they just need some rest and that they'll be better before we know it," Drew said, he hated sugarcoating, but was willing to make the sacrifice for now.
"That's great!" May sighed with relief and handed his ribbon case back.
Drew had actually expected something along the lines of a hug; he had completely forgotten about the ribbons. He took them back, deciding whether or not to make a sarcastic remark. After a few moments, he decided not to say anything.
Drew tucked the case into his shirt; an awkward silence passed over them like the dark blanket of night above them. The quiet gave Drew a few seconds to collect his thoughts on what to do next.
They needed to get to place to spend the night. On his way to the Pokémon center, he had spotted a cheap but decent hotel that they could stay at.
His only problem was getting her there without anyone seeing her. He felt it would be best if he didn't tell her that the police were looking for her, he had just managed to get her into a calm and stable state for the moment.
"Drew, is…something wrong?" May asked. "You've been quiet for a while."
"No, nothing's wrong. Come on; let's take a shortcut to a hotel that we can stay at for the night."
"What about what just happened? We should tell the police. People died!"
"Everything's crazy out there right now, our Pokémon weren't the only ones that went berserk. The police have their hands full with the people who had Pokémon doing damage and accidentally killing humans. We can go in the morning once the city has calmed down a bit and explain what happened," Drew said. He knew full well that Harley had gotten to the police first and had the upper hand of having them take his word over May's.
May stared intently stared at Drew, as if trying to decipher his words.
"Look, trust me. Okay?" Drew said with a sigh.
After a few seconds of silent contemplation, May nodded, following him through the maze of alleys in Goldenrod City, no longer needing Drew to hold her hand.
"There it is. We can stay at that place for the night," Drew said, pointing across the alley. May moved over and saw the hotel and nodded. After several minutes of trudging through alleyways, they had finally come to the hotel that Drew had suggested.
Before Drew could take another step further he felt May's hand tug onto his shirt. He turned to see her holding out a few bills, enough to pay a night for both him and her.
"Take it, it's the least I can do after all you've done tonight," she said.
Drew took a second to decide what to do. He accepted the money, putting it into his pocket.
"I'll get the rooms, just sit over there," Drew said, motioning towards the couches in the lobby once they walked past the electronic sliding doors. The décor of the room was completely different from what she had imagined.
The interior was well lit, brightly illuminating the golden walls, accompanied by gold-bordered fans, beige furniture, dainty lamps, and a crimson rug that spanned the entire lobby. May sat on the couch, marveling the intricate designs on the carpet as she waited for Drew to come back. It was only a few minutes when he did, and he didn't look pleased.
"What's wrong? Is there not enough money? I have more; I don't mi-" she said.
"Don't worry about it…I…got us a room," Drew grumbled, averting his gaze from her to distract himself with the rooms furnishings.
May had noticed the subtle choice of words that Drew had chosen.
Us. A room.
"I hope you don't mind," Drew said, turning back to meet her stare.
"N-no…don't worry…I don't mind," May replied, getting up and following Drew upstairs to their room. Once they reached the floor with their room, Drew opened the door with the cardkey, letting May in first as he closed the door behind him, waiting for the door to lock at the sound of an electronic beep.
May analyzed the room while Drew headed directly to the bed, collapsing onto it with a grunt. The room was cozy enough, a balcony outside a glass door with a full view of the streets below them. A bathroom equipped with all the toiletries they could possibly need, peach walls, caramel-colored carpeting, and a fully stocked obsidian-colored mini fridge.
May turned to where Drew lay, which is when May noticed it was only one bed.
"Drew? Where do I sleep?" she asked.
Drew buried his face and moaned into the sheets once the realization had hit him, blindly grabbing one of the pillows to his side.
May felt suddenly guilty as she watched Drew push himself off the bed and lazily toss the pillow into a random corner of the room and pull off the first layer of sheets atop the bed, dragging it over into the landing site of his pillow.
"Wait, Drew. You don't have to do tha-" she said.
"Why not? You paid for the room. It's only right that you get the bed. Besides, you're not the only one who's traveled, ya know. I know what it's like to sleep on the ground and this'll be a lot comfier compared to that," Drew replied, already settling into his "bed".
May glanced back and forth between the bed and Drew, finding still finding the situation rather unfair for him. He had done so much for her and having to sleep on the floor did not sit well with her. The fact that he had been there for her tonight and calmed her down meant more to her than the price for the room they were in.
"I don't mind sleeping on the floor either," she said.
"I'm fine right here, and it would be stupid not to use the bed when it's right there," Drew replied curtly.
"Drew, I'm pretty sure there's room for the both of us." May gazed back at the bed doing a mental measurement; her suggestion was more of a guesstimate.
Drew was resting on his side, his back to her. As she said the words "both of us", he turned his head to stare at her.
"Are you suggesting that we sleep together?" he asked. His tone oozed disbelief as he looked at her with one raised eyebrow.
May began to consider the ramifications of her offer, shifting her gaze down at the room's carpet that had suddenly become infinitely more fascinating as she twirled her fingers. She had slept in the same bed as her little brother, but this was Drew and a guy that…
"At some point, he started in on you. You and only you. See, I think since he's been watching you grow stronger in your performances, he's gotten feelings for you," Solidad's words from long ago echoed in her mind.
"Well…I..uh…it wouldn't…I mean-" May said, stuttering. Her face had discovered new shades of red.
"May, it's all right. I'm fine here," Drew said softly. He now had turned his back completely to her.
May hesitantly started heading to the bed, looking back every few steps only to find that Drew had not moved a single muscle.
Drew could hear the rustling sound of May draping the covers over herself.
"You're sure?" May asked.
"Positive. Just turn off the light and go to sleep. You probably wouldn't be able to sleep next to me anyway. I have a habit of kicking and talking," Drew said. It was blatant lie but he was not comfortable with getting into bed with May.
And with that, the conversation ended. May reached for the cord to the ceiling fan and tugged it, flooding the room in darkness.
Drew's blush finally began to fade away once he buried the possibility of sharing the bed with her, chastising himself for even considering the scenario.
As long as I keep her mind off of what happened today, it's fine. Tomorrow's probably gonna be a long day. Gotta expect the worse, but hope for the best. Drew thought as he drifted off into sleep, the long hours of the night finally getting to him.
The inhabitants of Goldenrod City saw the disaster at the contest hall as a horrible freak accident. But what they didn't know was that the disaster heralded Goldenrod City's decline from the cosmopolitan hub of Johto's economy to the most dangerous city in Johto – quite an "accomplishment" since Johto itself would be regarded as a hostile no-man's-land by many in the near future.