Your Rival Appeared...

a fifth-gen fanfic

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IN NUVEMA TOWN

(idle mode)

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You twiddle your thumbs-metaphorically, because physically doing it would be pretty lame-and watch, supremely unconcerned while Cheren stamps around your room, checking the clock every few paces. You and he both know that you have failed. Of all days to forget that special quirk of Bianca's, it had to be today.

Normally, you and he would conspire, and the formula was this. Tell her that whatever's going on is happening half-an-hour earlier than it truly is, and she'll make it there at the real start date.

Cheren's smart. On his own, he could brainstorm a thousand ways how both of you managed to forget to tell Bianca to come early. You were over-excited, causing sleep deprivation that was too much of a priority to suffer through that it slipped your mind. You thought maybe she'd surprise you with a speedy arrival on such a momentous day in your guys' lives. Or maybe it was that you both went temporarily insane up until now, and during your 'episode' neglected to pick up the phone or walk down the road to her house to remind her to be on time. But this isn't the point.

The point is she's forty-five minutes late, and your patience is wearing thin. There's just something about a neatly wrapped gift box that tempts any human being to the brink of madness. And this one had a beautiful bow on top. Oh, you wanted to tear that sucker open as soon as it was delivered to your house this morning. But, following the "advice" of your mother, and your own decent set of ethics, you kept your paper-ripping fingers under lock and key until both of your best friends were here to open it with you, you saint.

And yet, you hear the magic sound. Feet flying up the stairs with heavy footsteps; Bianca was not wired for stealth. Cheren looks away from the window, and at you, a momentary smirk. A smirk that says "Ah, now we can begin."

From this day forward, the three of you are more than friends. You're rivals.

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IN ACCUMULA TOWN

(beginning mode)

You step out into the dazing overcast-ness of Accumula Town, having just completed your tour of the Pokémon Center with Bianca and Professor Juniper. The latter's gone on home, and Bianca's deliberating on what to buy from the mart. Now that your journey is finally underway, you seem to have lost all your stores of patience. You want to get out there and do the darn thing, so waiting around for B to decide between Potions and Poké Balls is not looking appetizing.

Route 2 seems the logical direction to go, you think-it's actually your only option at this point, but making important decisions feels powerful, new, and thrilling.

You inhale before beginning your trek to the outskirts of the town. En route, you pass by Accumula Plaza, where some sort of demonstration looks to be in progress. You stop in place. Is this something you ought to pay attention to? Most of the people watching the speech look to be much older than you, and not especially Ace-trainer material. For all you know, it could be a topic completely unrelated to yourself.

And you honestly had already decided on going ahead to Route 2 and skipping the spectacle, had a person in the back of the crowd met your eye. If it was relevant to him, it was relevant to you.

Much irrelevant hot air and a plethora of impassioned words later, the speaker had left, and the crowds had dispersed, leaving you and Cheren to decipher what it was you just heard. The key phrase was Pokémon liberation. Being that you two had just received your first Pokémon, you were not too keen on the idea of just releasing them now. You were in the middle of reassuring each other when you were approached by a very curious young man. Young enough, but clearly older than both of you. He had long, bushy green hair capped off by a hat, and a cube hanging off the belt-line of his jeans. He engaged both your attentions when he rattled something strange off about your team.

"Your Pokémon... Just now, it was saying..."

You were taken aback at this, and so it seemed, was Cheren. He jumped into the conversation before you could think of a response, beginning by putting both hands out in front of him as if to emphasize his point. "Slow down," he said, his eyes flickering over the guy, analyzing him. "You talk too fast. And what's this about Pokémon...talking? That's an odd thing to say." Indeed you could tell exactly what Cheren thought about it by his carefully measured tone.

"Yes, they're talking. Oh." He paused for a moment, looking rather confused by your reactions, and almost a little put out. He shifted on his feet, taking a new tack but still failing to explain his ponderous ways. "Then, you two can't hear it, either... How sad. My name is N."

"My name is Cheren, and this is Touko. We were asked to complete the Pokédex and we just left on our journey. My main goal is to become the Champion, though."

You nodded at N, not feeling inspired to say anything else. You waited quietly by your friend's side and let him do the talking. It's not as if you had a goal like Cheren did, you were really only getting started. It would nice to be Champion, but that goal seemed so lofty to you that you didn't dare dream it. You had decided you would figure out what you wanted to do as you went along. Bianca had said the same when you last talked to her - the two of you promised to help each other achieve the goals you decided on if it was at all possible. The reason you didn't bother having that conversation with Cheren was that he had always been the type to want to do things on his own when it was for him. He was happy to help you or Bianca if you needed it, but his goals were his own to accomplish. You respected that about him.

"The Pokédex, eh?" Unlike other people, who normally would have been impressed to hear about young people being given such an important task, N looked, well, angry in a way. He was hiding it under a practiced smile, but not skillfully.

"So... You're going to confine many, many Pokémon in Poké Balls for that, then. I'm a Trainer, too, but I can't help wondering... Are Pokémon really happy that way?" And there it was, the reason. You took it as that he had also been impacted by the speech given at the plaza today. To one side, Cheren seemed unaffected by this statement, but you couldn't help but feel a little perturbed. There was something in the way he said what he said to make you uneasy. 'Are Pokemon really happy that way?'

Your eyes were on the ground, considering this, when N spoke once more. You looked up at the sound of your name only to find him gazing intently at you.

"Well, Touko, is it? Let me hear your Pokémon's voice again!"

You panicked, caught unaware by this sudden challenge. Picking Snivy's ball off your belt, you sent him out to face the opposing Purrloin.

After a series of unorthodox introductions, this newcomer had challenged you to your first battle outside of the ones you'd had with your friends. When all was said and done, you were pleasantly surprised to find that you won and you were immensely proud of your Pokémon, not to mention the effort they put into battling alongside you. The man, N, muttered more about Pokémon being confined in their balls, basically echoing the speech you'd just heard, and then departed.

"As long as Pokémon are confined in Poké Balls... Pokémon will never become perfect beings. I have to change the world for Pokémon, because they're my friends."

Cheren, who had been watching the battle with those same, analytical eyes, remarked, "Huh... Strange guy. But I'm not going to worry about it. Trainers and Pokémon help each other out! Listen, I'm going on ahead." He left you behind to decide your own course of action.

You didn't know just then, but it would be because of him that your journey was just about to get extraordinary.

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IN THE DREAMYARD

(badge-seeking mode)

You see the outrage written all over Bianca's face as she tells off the Team Plasma grunts. You, yourself, are more of a silent seether, but you're just as angry. Kicking a Pokémon was behavior befitting only the lowest of the low. You have the strongest urge to involve yourself in the fray, physically remove these losers from the area so they can't cause any more harm to a defenseless Munna. You forget for a moment that you're a teenage girl with little in the way of muscles or fighting experience. Logic doesn't seem important right now.

And in lieu of obtaining their dream mist, the grunts turn their sights on you, and announce they're going to take your Pokémon from you. One advances in your direction, arm raised, and in a panic, you reach for the first Poké Ball on your belt, and send out Snivy. His reptilian eyes are narrowed; he probably heard the trouble from inside his ball, and he seems to know instinctively that you need protection.

The grunt is forced to stumble back a few paces as a nasty Vine Whip hits him across his legs, driving him away from getting closer to you. Bianca screeches something about how they shouldn't hurt you, and yet you barely hear it. You and Snivy are on the same wavelengths right now, and everyone else is absent. The grunt sends out his Patrat, and the battle truly begins.

Two battles with crooks later, you're spraying Potion on Snivy, and thanking it for its bravery by stroking the top of its head fondly. Bianca hovers nearby, looking a bit ashamed that she never stepped in to help. You look up from where you're kneeling on the Dreamyard's floor, and shoot her a patient smile. Next time, it seems to say. You've already forgiven her.

After all, you never would have known your ability to handle a tense situation if Bianca had been there to coddle and aid you. And that's a discovery that you owe to her, though she probably doesn't even know you feel indebted to her for it.

Waking life is sometimes far stranger than your most unusual dream, but somehow it all works out in the end, and you learn something new, even if you don't always remember it clearly later on.

After this, it's time for your first Gym match, which turns out to be against triplet Leaders. Somehow you feel more ready for it than you ever did this morning. With Snivy at your side, you can get through anything, even the bumps in the road, and that's not a dream, it's a fact.

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ON ROUTE 3

(comfort mode)

Cheren and you are having a civilized conversation about the battle you two had just had. You won (again), and you can tell it's eating away at him. His opinion is that you both have one gym badge, you both started being a Trainer at the same time-you should be equal in strength.

Yet somehow, you've edged him out by a little on another occasion. It boggles his mind, and even you are a little surprised that this is the situation. You have no problem admitting that your friend knows much, much more about Pokémon than you do. He's been studying up on them since even before you two and Bianca left on your journey. He knows more attack patterns and strategies-the things you would assume would be useful in becoming a great battler.

Only, you won. Not Cheren. Neither of you quite comprehends why.

You're happy, excited, proud of your team for this success, but it'd be rude to display that in front of Cheren (he's not good at taking a loss). So you're trying your best to make him feel better about it when you're interrupted by someone yelling off in the distance.

"GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

You and Cheren both fly in opposite directions as two people come hurtling down the middle of Route 3. They pass you by, sunlight glinting off the distinctive chain-mail outfits they are wearing. Recognition dawns on you, but before you can mention this to Cheren, Bianca comes barreling into sight from the same direction, a little girl trailing at her skirts, dusty ostensibly because of the amount of hurrying Bianca seems to have done. It's obvious the two goings-on are connected, but in what way?

"Bianca?" Cheren calls out to her, "why are you running?"

She slides to an abrupt stop in front of you two, hands on her knees almost immediately as she doubles over, panting for breath. Never the athletic type, you decide to give her a minute to recover from the exhaustion before asking questions.

"Hey!"

She comes up with air sooner than expected—must be all the conditioning from the journey so far—and barks the following question to the both of you in general. "Where were those people headed? Which direction?"

"That way," he points, "but… why are you running now?" Cheren inquires, nonplussed over all the activity.

"Oh seriously!" You can sympathize with Bianca's impatience. Cheren is asking too many questions, and it's wasting a lot of time.

"They run so fast!" she bemoans as an afterthought.

"Miss?" the little girl has caught up, and she's tugging at the hem of Bianca's clothes, a timid expression on her face. "My Pokémon…?" She looks on the verge of tears, and suddenly you have the whole story without really being told. You have half a mind to go after the grunts right now, but after your battle, you're down a little in stamina and HP, and could really use the help from one of your friends to get back the girl's Pokémon.

"It'll be OK. Don't cry."

Bianca kneels down now, at eye level with the girl, and pats her on the back. The girl lurches forward, two stubby arms clasped around Bianca's neck, hugging tightly and wailing anyway, despite the words. You and Cheren shift on your feet in perfect tandem, uncomfortable with the display. None of you have ever spent much time with small children, and neither you or him are too sure how to deal with them, especially when they're sniveling.

Cheren decides to take the direct approach. It feels a little like overkill, but maybe she knows something you two don't. "Bianca, really, why were you running?"

She looks up from where she's being latched onto, and says, "You have to hear this. Those people stole this girl's Pokémon!"

"You should have spoken up sooner!"

You resist the urge to slap your forehead. Cheren should have figured this out on his own, you think, but when he tells Bianca you and he will go get the Pokemon back, you forget it. With your combined power, you should be fine against two lowlife Plasma grunts.

The race east to Wellspring Cave goes by in a flash. Before you know it, you've beaten one each, and now two have challenged you and Cheren to a double battle. The fire of justice is burning deep within you, and yet the reality is you're even more at a disadvantage after another battle. You hope your team has the strength it'll take for this one last push. Because you just have to win.

And while the doubts make a home in your brain, Cheren turns to you in the dark of the cave, and grabs your hand. He gives it a quick squeeze, as if knowing your inner monologue, and adds some words of comfort.

"We've been friends our whole lives. We've got each other's back when it counts. Let's show them how it's done!"

You answer with a grin, and hold up the Pokéball in your other hand as if to say it's okay now. You believe in your team, you believe in Cheren, and with some encouragement, you even believe in you. You are going to get that Pokémon back, no question. And you're going to continue on your journey and do great things.

Because as cliché as it may be, with friends like these, you can't possibly fail, no matter how things go.

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TO BE CONTINUED

Final notes: I finished the main plot of PKMN White the a few nights ago, and now I'm in writing mode. I sincerely hope you found something to enjoy about this. I'd appreciate a review if you have the few extra seconds it takes to submit one. Grazie mille. ^_^

This story will be filled with extracts from some of the more major times your rivals appear in the game. So we're not through yet, there'll be probably one or two more installments, all about the same length, maybe a little longer near the end. I wrote this story in second person with the intention of making it more accessible, so you can imagine you're playing along, like in the game. I hope that idea is playing out well in the reading.