Your Rival Appeared...

a fifth-gen fanfic

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IN N'S CASTLE

(featuring your rivals mode)

"Cheren!"

Bianca was running along the staircase, having just gotten there. She knew she was too late; things had started without her. The giant castle that had engulfed the Pokemon league was only the tip of the iceberg. If that hadn't warned her, the reception hall filled with Sages surrendering to the Gym Leaders she'd called here would have given it away. As she climbed floor by floor, she could feel the building shaking, and dust and rubble falling from the ceiling. Every few feet she called out her friend's names, searching in every room for a sign of them, but to no avail. The Striaton triplets, who had kept her from getting here on time made up for it by accompanying her to the peak of the castle, in case there was trouble ahead.

Oh guys, please just be okay…

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"We can't hold him here, Cheren, he's too strong!"

"NO! I won't accept this! If we let him go, who knows what could happen! Alder, please, you may have lost to the legendary Pokemon, but Ghetsis is weak. You and me together, we can't lose!"

"Get in my way, and you'll lose more than a battle; both of you!" The green haired tyrant sneered, even with his back against the castle wall. His eyes danced with a twisted sort of excitement, having broken loose from the hold of his captors. His body language was that of a caged lion, and neither the young man or his mentor dared to take a step nearer than how close they already were.

Somewhere in their minds they knew they'd already lost this fight.

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"Guys, are you in h-what?"

Bianca skidded to a halt in the entranceway of a new room. The three young men behind her stopped to look as well. All four were transfixed by the strangeness. What was a playroom doing in the middle of this castle? It was hardly the place you'd expect find such a room, since there were no kids around here, nor should there be, given the circumstances. It just wasn't safe.

On the brightly-carpeted, cloud-patterned floor, a toy train chugged along a wooden set of tracks as if someone had set it in motion only seconds before. A quick glance to the left revealed a basketball hoop, the net blocked off by a second train jammed in the space. An abandoned basketball lay on the floor, giving an even lonelier tone to the room. Dead ahead, a half-pipe, some toy boxes, and a spare skateboard completed the space.

Bianca took a few steps forward into the room, looking around. Did this place belong to someone? What child, though? That was the question.

"…"

Two men dressed all in black materialized from thin air, catching everyone off guard at their appearance. They were on either side of Bianca, who'd about had a heart attack, realizing they'd been hiding there in wait the whole time, probably expecting someone to wander in here unattended. The three novice Leaders in the doorway surged forward in unison, ready to intervene if these newcomers should prove of the warring disposition.

"Leave this place."

"I won't." Bianca stood firm, her eyes darting left and right to assure her sentiments were known. "I'm not leaving until my friends are with me. Maybe you two should leave. Don't criminals like you usually flee before they can be apprehended? Well, don't let me stop you from keeping that tradition."

"…Is that your answer…?"

"Yes, and you won't persuade me otherwise."

"Bianca…" the eldest of the three boys, Cress, had drawn even with the young woman. "Wouldn't it be more prudent that we should apprehend them ourselves? We outnumber them by two. No matter how strong they are, the numbers remain persuasive."

She popped a Poké ball out of her bag, and held it up to the light, trying to convince herself she could really do it. Right here and right now, she could make a difference, if she wanted. Why not? Why not indeed? No time like the present, and she did think she was getting stronger lately… She nodded to the blue-haired boy, who signaled for his brothers to join them up front. All four were in this together, every step of the way.

Bianca felt… useful. It was an epiphany that momentarily shook her to her core.

"Musharna, appear!"

The Drowsing Pokemon came out when called, its pink and purple body floating serenely in the air, lazy in the lapse before battle. It trusted its trainer to give a command at the right time, so that it would come to no harm. They'd been through a lot together on their journey, and this was no time for doubt anyway. Musharna felt the need Bianca had for it to fight alongside her, and responded to it. Beside Musharna, all three elemental monkeys were brought forth by the wish of their trainers.

The two representatives of the Shadow Triad looked on, ever as distant as they were. It was impossible to read them. Bianca was lured into almost believing they owned no Pokemon at all, except for the split second in which they grabbed their own ball off their belt, and raised their arm to throw it. But, before any of that could take place, there was an interruption.

"Stop this!"

The four of the coalition turned around in time to see two ladies rush into the playroom, holding up their arms in an unmistakable signal to halt. Both were rather ethereal as looks go, dressed in gowns with long, flowing hair. Yet another thing that was out of place in a room such as this one. By this time though, Bianca felt none of the irony.

"It is over. It has been decided. There is no need for more fighting!"

"…What has been decided?" Bianca asked, feeling uncomfortable at having her back turned to her opponent, only to recall that Musharna wouldn't let anything happen to her.

"The heroes have had their time to battle, and now the course of the world is secure. You should proceed to the top floor; your friend is there. She was victorious, and so, the way of life is preserved. Humans and Pokemon shall remain partners."

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"Cheren!"

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"…ugh. I can't believe he got away. Too strong."

The young man slowly ferreted around the debris-strewn floor for his glasses, knocked off during the sudden scuffle with Ghetsis. In the end the maniac had gotten lucky, having the assistance of one of his Shadow Triad in order to escape through a hole in the wall of the castle. Not easily; it had been a proper fight. And unlike previous times, Cheren wasn't beating himself up over it. He accepted the win had been out of his grasp, even if he'd wanted victory so badly it was on the tip of his tongue. Ghetsis would get what was coming to him in due time. Fate would see to it, surely.

"Alder?"

He gleaned no response. This worried him, but he was determined not to panic. At the worst, the Champion was just knocked out. Give him enough time, and he'd be back up to speed. This was what Cheren hoped, anyway.

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"Cheren!"

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"Bianca?"

He wondered if his mind was playing tricks on him.

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"Are you close, Cheren? Please tell me where you are!"

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"I'm right here, Bianca. I can hear you better now, but I'm warning you, I can't see much. I lost my glasses… Alder… I think he might be unconscious."

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"Cheren, don't worry! I'm coming to help you!"

He never doubted that for a second.

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"There you are!"

She crushed Cheren into a hug as soon as she made it over to him, being so glad that he looked unharmed (minus the missing glasses). He returned it, momentarily sentimental over seeing a familiar face in the midst of the chaos. Even if that face was somewhat blurry. It had been a hell of a day, one he knew he'd never forget, whether he wanted to or not. He was relieved that Bianca was here with him now, to help sort out what was yet to come.

"Are these his glasses, Bianca?"

"Oh, yes, thank you, Chili!"

Bianca sounded surprised at the intrusion upon their 'moment', but pleased nonetheless. She took the lenses from the fire-type Leader and repositioned them on Cheren's face, much to his delight. After all, he wasn't blind anymore, and he hated feeling at a disadvantage in any way. Now he could see her clearly, dirt on her cheek and all. She was well and worn looking, but he found that he liked her just as much this way as on a normal day. She was still his Bianca underneath the dust and scrapes. Maybe one day he'd find a way to tell her that, but for now, this was good. There was other business to attend to.

"Bianca, have you seen…?"

"No! I was on my way to find her and you. I think she must be on the top floor. Someone told me that, anyway."

"Yes, she was there last. If she hasn't come down this way… then let's not sit around here. She could need our help. When Alder and I left her, it was her and N in the throne room. We don't think he'd do anything off, but better safe than sorry!"

"You're right. Lead on, then!"

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Bianca was the first to see you, and she clutched at her mouth to stifle a gasp. She was the first to kneel beside you on the floor, concerned that you might be as worse off as her rampant assumptions were telling her. There was blood under your nose from where it hit the chair, and your eyes were shut loosely like in slumber. So concerned was she that she quite forgot the obvious signs of life—the chest rising and falling with breath, the pulse beating in your wrist and on your neck…

Cheren was the second to acknowledge you, but the first to realize you were just unconscious. He told Bianca to go get some help to carry you out of here, to take you to a better place to get back your full health. He would stay with you while she did, just to be on the safe side again.

Bianca ran out of there like she was on fire, because that was how much she cared about you as a friend. In the minutes that passed, Cheren stayed on his knees beside you, holding one of your hands and trying to talk to you in the hope that you'd wake up from the sound of a voice nearby. You did it, he said. He told you how proud everyone was going to be when they heard. And he told you that he and Bianca both agreed you were a hero, and he added that he knew you'd try to tell them you weren't, but you were, and that was that.

It didn't take long, but they all flocked in one after another, fussing around you, and deciding what to do with you. You had the most attention you'd ever had in all your life, and you weren't even awake for it. There was no small amount of irony in that.

In the end, you were carried out, and as you were told later, the castle collapsed under its own weight, and fell back into the recesses of the desert it had sprung up from. It had been as much a sight to see as when the thing had appeared, but you weren't sad to have missed it. Because whatever happened there, you had come to associate the place with N and his many dreams, and to see it crumble probably would have been the thing to make you sad. So no, you probably didn't miss much.

Eventually, it seems you woke up.

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A/N: Ok! One more chapter to go and this is all wrapped up, I'm afraid. I'm determined to finish it faster than my lousy updating speed so far. If any of you aren't so upset with me that you feel like reviewing this (or previous chapters if you never did), hey, much love to you!