Disclaimer: I don't own Pokémon.

"Speech."

'Thoughts.'

"Telepathy."

Author Notes: Well, it's certainly been a long while, hasn't it? First of all, I want to start things off by wishing everyone out there reading this a Merry Christmas! Have a fun time and enjoy these happy times with your families. =)

Last Revision: January 3rd, 2017.

Important: In case there's any of you out there who doesn't follow my DeviantArt and missed it completely because A New Chance At life isn't on your alerts, I've rewritten the entire start of the story! Chapters 1-6 have been vastly revamped and improved to better reflect my current writing skill. Full details of this can be found the Author Notes Chapter on the Chapter 28 slot of A New Chance At Life. And, I'll slowly and steadily keep improving the remaining chapters as time allows me. So there's more to come.

Now, on other topics…

For those of you who have been asking me about updates and if I was continuing the story or not or if I had abandoned it due to my very long absence, fret not. This is something I've said many times in the past and I'll keep saying it again. I'll NEVER abandon this story. It's like I'm married to it. No matter what, this story will always be present in my thoughts and I'll always do my best to update it.

Sometimes, sadly, I'm forced to take long absences from it. Times have been extremely difficult for me last couple years. All sorts of things have happened to me as of late. Dengue Fever, beloved pets dying, increasing violence and quality of life harshly dropping where I live (FYI, for those curious, I live in Acapulco, southern Mexico. A city that's taken brutal damage by the Mexican Drug war, and overall one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Unless you can stomach strong and graphic images, I heavily recommend against googling anything about Acapulco's war problems), having to look for a job to help support my parent's weak economy and household, on top of many other debilitating situations (which I'd like to keep private), it all played a big role in impacting my ability to write continuously rather badly.

Writing, sadly, is something that's very mood and motivation dependent. And, sometimes, life throws bad streaks at you. It's just hard to get a hold on any motivation to write.

The latest round of problems against me (Yeah, despite my long paragraph, there's more) happened shortly after I published the rewrites of A New Chance At Life. When I posted that, I thought I'd go back to a steady rhythm of writing. But, shortly after publishing them, the storm came.

My mother was diagnosed with womb tumors and needed a surgery as soon as possible, this about a couple weeks after I posted the rewrites. We're rather poor, sadly but to be completely honest with you all. In order to pay for the surgery I had to throw myself deeply in debt with a couple banks to cover the surgery's costs, on top of also serving as my mother's main caretaker while she was recovering. While this was going on, my Laptop (a really good one that I've had for several years) broke down completely and died, and in a freak accident or just life laughing at me, the External Hard Drive where I had all my stuff backed up on also failed. What are the chances both die at the same time!? So, at the moment, I've lost all my information unless I can somehow revive either of the dead devices.

Ever since then, I was stuck with a completely crappy Laptop that's so slow and old it lags while writing in Microsoft Word. Yeah, not the best for writing fanfiction. Damn. When it rains, it fucking pours.

All in all, I'm surviving. I got a job and am slowly managing to try and pay my gigantic surgery-related debt while helping my mom's household and working on a barely bearable Laptop… You could say I'm surviving.

Anyway. I hope that now that I was able to find a window of motivation to write and get this chapter finished, I can get back to a steady writing rhythm and start delivering what I'm sure you all want. This chapter introduces us to a lovely new Legendary of the story. And, it sets up the upcoming several chapters, which are all very action-packed! Trust me, next chapters will be a wild ride. About chapter 17, I already have a good chunk of it written already. So, I should be able to update it reasonably fast. Have fun and enjoy the read!

Important: Remember to check my DeviantArt account FF-ARCY for updates and notices! There is a link on my profile, or you can google it.

Chapter 16 – Change Of Paths


Latias let out a quiet sigh as she watched the sun slowly begin to appear on the distant horizon, the first sunrays of morning slowly lighting up the sky. She was perched atop the roof of the Rustboro City Pokémon Center, her invisibility activated in case anyone in the numerous tall buildings nearby were looking out the window. Latias had been up there for a while now, having grown restless over the night as she pondered what she really wanted for her immediate future. Watching Bianca's Pokémon contest the day before had left her with mixed feelings. She knew very well that she admired contests and didn't like Pokémon battling, it had been like that for her for a very long time. However, she was in a Pokémon battling team for the time being.

However, Bianca's entrance on the contest scene had changed that completely. There was now another option. 'Now, Bianca is a trainer…' Latias thought to herself, knowing full well what that meant. 'No, she's a coordinator.' She smiled at her own self-correction. 'She can train Pokémon now…'

Latias' eyes glowed softly, psychically inspecting the room her friends were in. She found that everyone was still sleeping, but she knew Latios would be getting up soon. He had always been a very early riser. 'Should I leave Ash's team and join Bianca's instead?' the young dragoness pondered, turning her head to once again watch the distant horizon. Thinking back, Latias recalled how much fun she had helping Bianca and Candace prepare for the contest, even if they had lost it rather badly in the end. 'Plus, Bianca needs more help than Ash does.' Ash was already a trainer capable of making top four of a League without her, while Bianca had failed to make it past the initial round of her very first contest. The skill difference was staggering.

Latias let out a sigh when she sensed her brother awakening from his slumber. Almost immediately, she stifled a laugh when her empathy caught up on his panic at the lack of her sleeping at his side. 'Oh, Latios…' After pinpointing her location, the dragon rapidly levitated out of his resting spot, psychically opened the windows and then flew out to meet up with her.

"Hey," Latios greeted gently as he flew up to her, settling down beside her with one wing draping over her comfortingly. "How long have you been here?" he asked, his voice concerned for her.

Latias let out a soft breath and dipped her head under his neck, closing her eyes as she reveled in the much appreciated contact with her brother. "Since a while ago. Don't worry, I'll be fine."

"What's on your mind?" Latios asked. "It's odd for you to have something weighing on your thoughts to the point you're sleepless."

"It's Bianca… and contests," Latias replied simply, burying her head further under his neck.

Latios blinked. "Wait, it's just that? I thought you had it completely sorted out in your head yesterday." Latias pulled her head back and gave him an annoyed look. "It's true!" the blue dragon added defensively.

Latias rolled her eyes. "It's not as simple as that. It's just… I don't like battling at all, you know that. But, I do find contests very interesting, so naturally the obvious choice would be to be on Bianca's team. But, I'm already registered to Ash's team… everyone already has thoughts on me as part of Ash's team in the future… and…" She closed her eyes, her tone dropping. "I don't want to let him down by asking him to let me go."

Latios smiled. "You worry too much. It's not as complicated as you feel it is. Just ask Ash to release you or trade you to Bianca. He'll say yes, you'll see. And without much of a fuss, too."

"But-" Latias began, but was interrupted by Latios placing his paw on top of her mouth.

"I know you're worried about what everyone, especially Ash and myself, will think about you if you decide to swap to doing contests with Bianca," Latios began, flashing the distraught dragoness a warm smile. "The thing is, you don't need to worry or be sleepless over the matter. Just do it. It's your decision alone, Latias. As your brother, you know I love and support you in every path you decide to take. As for Ash, I'm pretty sure he won't mind. He cherishes you and would prefer you take a path that makes you happy over one that just benefits him. Think about it, he's let some of his Pokémon go in the past because it was best for them."

"That… is true," Latias admitted softly.

"It is. Plus, he already has me on his team, he doesn't need both of us. He likes challenges, both of us are just overkill on his team. We'd make everything so easy for him he'd probably drop one of us eventually just so things become a challenge again. If what you feel will make you happy on this journey is being a contest Pokémon for Bianca, then do it. If everyone loves you, which they do, they'll support and help you in the path you take. You're not letting anyone down," Latios finished, gently reaching down to kiss Latias' forehead.

Latias smiled softly, appreciating her brother's words and gesture. The more she thought about it, the more sense it made to her. She almost felt bad for doubting her friends. "Yeah, I guess I did let the matter get to me too much."

"You did, but it's also understandable. You're not used to making big decisions. This is a personal decision that will heavily affect your current life and future and drastically turn it upside down. Decisions that bring big change are not easy to do." Latios looked downwards, psychically peeking at the room. "Everyone should be waking up soon. Let's go back so that you can give them the big news," the Eon Pokémon said. He hovered up and headed into the Pokémon Center, with his sister following him closely.

A couple hours later, after everyone had woken up, taken their morning baths, gotten appropriately dressed and finished their breakfast at the Pokémon Center, Latias finally decided to voice her decision to her friends. They were still sitting at their table, discussing the day's plans regarding the Rustboro City Gym. Currently, Latias was in her illusionary disguise as Bianca, while Latios was invisible. "Hey, everyone," Latias began to gather everyone's attention once she saw that most of the decisions regarding their future activities within the city had been made. "I have a little announcement I'd like to make."

"What is it, Latias?" Brock asked, turning to glance at the Eon Pokémon alongside everyone else.

"Yeah, what's on your mind?" Pikachu wondered, stretching on his usual spot on Ash's shoulder.

Latias took a deep breath to steel herself for her announcement and then spoke with a firm and decisive voice. "I've been thinking about it ever since yesterday's contest, and…" Latias smiled softly at Bianca. "I want to switch to Bianca's team, and become a contest Pokémon."

Ash let out a surprised gasp. "Huh. Really? Why?" he asked, dumbfounded.

"Not really hard to see why…" Pikachu deadpanned, rolling his eyes. "I knew she'd bring it up sooner or later."

Ash blinked. "You did?"

"Ash, it's Latias we're talking about," Pikachu said bluntly. "I saw it coming from a mile away."

"Well, it's about time, Latias," Bianca said, doing little to hide the excitement in her voice while clapping her hands together. Even if she expected it, it was still exciting nonetheless. "Took you a bit longer than I expected. I imagined you'd bring this up last night, actually."

Latias tilted her head. "You already expected this?" she asked, rather surprised. She could literally feel Latios grinning at her.

Bianca rolled her eyes. "I know you very well, Latias. You're my best friend." She smiled at the dragoness. "I knew you'd want to switch to my team ever since we were training Candace, but, I didn't want to pressure you by asking. I decided the best thing was to let you bring it up when you were ready."

"I wasn't exactly expecting it like you were, Bianca," Brock admitted. "But I'm not really surprised by it. Not at all."

Ash blinked. "Am I the only one that's shocked about this?" he asked, offended.

"Pretty much," Pikachu said condescendingly, patting the back of Ash's head with a paw. "But you wouldn't be Ash if you weren't. My good ol' 'dense-as-a-brick' best friend. You're just terrible at observing subtle stuff."

"Well," Latias began, turning to look at Ash. "You know that I don't like to battle. I might do it when it's needed or to protect my friends, but for sport or strength competitions? No, not my taste. I do love contests, though. They're not about the actual battle that's taking place. It's all about style, skill, grace, beauty and elegance. Those are all things I can relate to. The ability to outperform someone and obtain victory through that… is just very appealing. More often than not, the actual battle is relegated to the background."

"Yeah, I saw that yesterday. I admit contests were interesting, but I don't think I could do one. About what you said, that's okay, Latias," Ash responded. "If that's what you want, then no problem! I got Latios already, anyways." Pikachu picked that exact moment to tap Ash's head with his tail. Ash laughed. "Yeah, I got my buddy, too."

Latias giggled, bemused. "You definitely do."

"Yeah, and I don't think we'll ever meet a trainer that actually makes you need to have both me and Latias to have a chance to win against him," Latios said telepathically. "I'm pretty sure I can help you have a realistic chance of winning against pretty much any trainer we encounter."

"… You just jinxed us, Latios," Pikachu said, glaring at him. "Now we're guaranteed to encounter a trainer that's gonna kick our asses even if both you and Latias battle."

Latios laughed. "Nah." His laughed died down slightly when he noticed Pikachu's face was serious. "I mean, come on! I'm a lot stronger than I was at the Johto League. I'm not getting taken out like I did against Harrison."

"And," Brock began, catching everyone's attention. "This comes at a very good time for you, Ash."

"It does?" Ash asked, wondering how Latias' departure would benefit him immediately.

"This helps you free a spot in your team for Treecko," Brock pointed out. "You were having a dilemma last night because you couldn't figure out who to send back to Professor Oak's lab. Well, here's the practical solution. Latias leaves, Treecko takes her place."

"That's true," Ash admitted, relieved that the issue he had been thinking about was unexpectedly resolved. He nodded in approval and looked at Latias. "You'll do well with Bianca, I'm sure." The young trainer frowned. "How am I going to do this, though? I've done trading before, but this is me giving her a Pokémon without receiving one back. Do I just release Latias?" he asked.

"No," Brock responded. "We have to do the gifting through a trading machine at any registered point. Any Pokémon Center works, thankfully. There's some rules for this, coded into trading machines. It's to prevent trainers from cheating on Gym Battles or Leagues actively."

"You know how all this works?" Bianca asked, glancing at him inquiringly.

"Yeah, I was a Gym Leader for a very long time, remember? The Pokémon League requires us to know all kinds of stuff before we receive our certificate as qualified Gym Leaders." Brock's voice suddenly turned into a lecturing voice. "While the Pokémon League allows trainers to give away or trade Pokémon quite freely, it's acknowledged that this can easily be used for cheating purposes, like stronger trainers giving younger trainers powerful Pokémon for a few days to help them beat a tough gym in particular, or trainers who are knocked out of Leagues giving a remaining trainer their strongest Pokémon to boost their chances of winning, just as an example. You see, once a Pokémon is captured, that Pokémon is coded through the Pokéball into a global database that encompasses all trainers and Pokémon. All Pokémon have unique codes, or IDs, however you want to call it. This can help track which specific Pokémon goes where when traded or given away, even when there's hundreds of thousands of Pokémon of a same species captured by trainers worldwide. And, as you know, all trainers also have unique ID numbers."

"Woah…" Ash said, eyes widening slightly. "That sounds rather awesome… and complex." He idly took out one of his Pokéballs and looked at it. "This little machine really does wonders. I wonder how they're even made."

Brock nodded. "They do. The Pokéball is quite the technological marvel. Anyway, trading is ultimately free and open. But, for trainers participating in official tournaments, there are a couple of restrictions that are put in place to combat the use of trading for cheating. Basically, trainers are always allowed to receive or give Pokémon, but there's some rules that can cause Pokémon to become ineligible for official battles."

"So, I'd have the Pokémon with me, but I wouldn't be allowed to use that Pokémon in battles?" Bianca asked.

"Yes. The League only allows each individual Pokémon to be owned just once by a trainer per tournament cycle, for official battle purposes. So, if Ash gives Latias to Bianca right now, that means Latias can't be used on Ash's team for official battles until after both the Grand Festival and Hoenn League are over. If Bianca traded Latias to another trainer, then Bianca wouldn't be able to use Latias anymore but that trainer would have no issues using her. And then if that trainer gave Latias back to Ash, the system would detect Ash already had Latias coded to him previously and make her ineligible for official battles. Once all official tournaments are over, all the codes refresh and start anew," Brock explained. "That's the main rule. There's some other more specific ones, but I doubt we'll ever fall into them."

"…Seeing as I prefer contests, I doubt I'd return to Ash's team to participate in the Hoenn League," Latias said telepathically."So, we shouldn't worry about breaking any of those anti-cheating rules."

Pikachu frowned. "I admit it'd feel very cheap if we won the Hoenn League because you two carried Ash to the trophy together. You two are strong, and growing fast. It won't be long before you feel overpowered."

Ash nodded slowly. "I'm not sure I'd enjoy a victory like that. I love tough challenges." He frowned. "I do have a question, Brock. What about when I traded aboard the St. Anne? I traded Butterfree away and got him back the same day and had no trade issues for the League."

"A good question, Ash. That was because the League also acknowledges trainers can change their minds about trades. Like you did with Butterfree in the end. All that I said about Pokémon being locked out of you for official battles? It doesn't happen immediately. The Pokémon's code is locked out of your trainer ID five days after the trade happens, or after the Pokémon takes part in an official battle under ownership of the other trainer, whichever happens first," Brock explained. "You traded Butterfree away, but got him back without him taking part in a Gym or League battle under his new trainer before five days had gone by, so you were allowed to keep Butterfree for official battles. If either of those two conditions were to be met before you traded Butterfree back… then yeah, you'd have been allowed to get him back, but you wouldn't be able to use Butterfree in Gyms or the League anymore until the Indigo League tournament was over. In this case, you and Bianca could swap Latias around all the times you want, but as soon as she does an official battle she gets locked out of whoever she didn't battle for or if five days go by without trades."

"What about when a Pokémon is released and recaptured?" Ash asked curiously. "Does it still count?"

"Yes, it does. The Pokémon's code registry is permanently saved. The system still keeps track of it even if the Pokémon spends some time without an owner," Brock responded.

"Thanks for the explanation, Brock," Bianca said. "It was good to know what we're getting into before we made the trade."

"You're welcome," Brock replied. "You shouldn't have any problems, but this means Ash won't be able to use Latias for the League."

"Something that he's already not very enthusiastic about doing," Latios commented.

Bianca chuckled. "Well, as Latias said, I don't think we should worry about that."

"Nope," Latias said, glad that her decision had gone much smoother than what she had expected the night before.

"So, let's go with Nurse Joy to switch Latias to Bianca's team," Ash spoke up, standing up. Everyone followed his lead, walking to the main reception area where Nurse Joy was, as always, manning the front desk and greeting visitors.

Before anyone could say anything, Brock rushed over to the Pokémon Nurse. "Hello Nu-" he began, but was interrupted by Bianca suddenly getting between him and the Nurse.

"Hello, Nurse Joy. We'd like to switch ownership of a Pokémon, could you help us, please?" Bianca asked politely, while Brock sulked behind her at the painful interruption.

Nurse Joy blinked in surprise, but then shrugged and nodded. "Sure. Right this way, please." Nurse Joy led them behind her counter to a large rectangular machine. It had a keyboard and a large screen in the middle, along with two tubes positioned over Pokéball slots on either side. "I take it both of you are competing in tournaments?" the Pokémon Nurse asked, glancing between Ash and Bianca.

"Yes, we are," both answered at the same time.

"Are you two fully conscious of what giving away a Pokémon entails, the rules that apply, and fully consent to the operation?" Nurse Joy asked, her voice serious.

"Yeah, we are," Bianca answered. Ash nodded in agreement.

"Okay," Nurse Joy said with a smile. "The trainer that is giving away the Pokémon, please place the Pokéball containing the Pokémon in the left slot. The trainer that is receiving the Pokémon, please place an empty Pokéball on right slot."

Ash glanced around, checking to make sure that no one else was looking over the counter to where they were. He looked at Latias. "Ready?" he asked, just to be sure.

"Yep, go ahead," Latias replied, her illusionary disguise nodding once.

"Return," Ash spoke up as he pointed the Pokéball at her. A red laser shot out of the sphere and enveloped the disguised dragonesses, swiftly sucking her into the Pokéball. Ash then placed the Pokéball in the slot Nurse Joy had indicated.

Bianca followed suit, putting the only empty Pokéball she had in the machine. "That's my only remaining Pokéball. The Nurse Joy I registered with gave it to me. I need to buy more," she commented.

"There's a Poké Mart down the street. You can easily buy some there," Nurse Joy informed her. She pressed several keys on the keyboard, imputing commands that were rapidly displayed on the screen. Next, an image of Latias appeared on it. The Pokémon nurse kept pressing commands into the machine's keyboard until the two tubes on the side began to hum, activating.

"…I thought you were going to be more surprised when Ash put in a Pokéball what I'm sure you thought was a human," Bianca commented, looking awkwardly at Nurse Joy. She didn't seem too impressed by that or Ash's handling a Legendary Pokémon.

"I see all kinds of stuff as a Pokémon Nurse. Trust me, this isn't the weirdest thing I've seen on the job," Nurse Joy said dismissively, not removing her gaze from the screen. The machine hummed loudly, before a streak of light passed between the tubes, connecting both Pokéballs. An icon of Latias moved across the screen, representing the transaction. "Okay, it's done. The Latias is now under the ownership of the trainer named Bianca."

"Nice." Bianca reached forward and picked Latias' Pokéball, at the same time as Ash picked up his now empty Pokéball. "So, I now have two Pokémon with me."

Brock nodded. "Latias, alongside Candace, will definitely help you capture more Pokémon over time."

"That reminds me, I'm going to go and get Treecko. Be right back, I'm going to call professor Oak," Ash said, turning to walk away from the counter, heading in the direction of the telephones.

Nurse Joy turned off the machine and led the remainder of the group back to the lobby. "Do you want me to do a checkup on your new Pokémon?" she offered.

Bianca shook her head. "No thanks," she said politely. "I'm sure she's in perfect health."

Nurse Joy nodded. "Alright. Do you need any other services?"

"Yes, once my friend gets back, he'll need one of his Pokémon checked up," Brock replied.

"Very well," Nurse Joy said, turning around and walking up to another machine to prepare it to receive the Pokémon.

"Can you release Latias now, please?" Latios requested, lightly nudging Bianca's cheek.

Bianca let out a soft laugh and nodded. She grabbed the Pokéball she had just received and released the Eon dragoness, who turned invisible as soon as she was out. "There we go."

Latias reached forward and hugged Bianca tightly. "Glad to be on your team."

Bianca smiled and hugged her back. "I'm glad you're on my team too."

"We should make plans to prepare for your next contest, wherever it may be. I'll need to look it up," Brock said, taking out his guidebook. "I might need to buy a separate book for this."

"We have time," Latias said. "We're not in any hurry."

"I'm back," Ash said, walking to the group.

Latios blinked and glanced over to the telephones. "That was fast."

"Yeah, Professor Oak was busy, so he wanted to get straight to the point," Ash responded. "And Treecko was at the lab, within reach. And that's good! It means I can get to my Gym Battle much faster."

Nurse Joy walked back to the group. "Please hand me the Pokéball of the Pokémon you want checked up," she requested politely.

"Huh?" Ash asked, confused.

"Treecko needs to be checked up, remember? His battle with Seviper took a toll on him," Brock reminded him.

"Oh, that's true." Ash handed Nurse Joy Treecko's Pokéball. The entire group watched as the experienced Pokémon Nurse placed the Pokéball in the machine and immediately began to run a full diagnostic. She let out a hum as she analyzed the vast array of information the machine displayed on its large screen. After a full minute of reading through it, she let Treecko out of the Pokéball so she could physically examine him. She gave a small nod and returned him back to the Pokéball, and then handed it back to Ash. "Your Pokémon is fine, and cleared to battle. Just be careful, I can tell he suffered a recent injury. While he is ready for battle, don't push it. If you're going to use him to battle the Rustboro City Gym, that's good. As a grass-type Pokémon, the battle shouldn't be too taxing. But again, be careful. At the first sight of him faltering, withdraw him from battle immediately."

"Okay, I'll keep that in mind," Ash said, taking the electronic sphere from her hands and then placing it on his belt. Ash turned around, his face determined. "It's time for my gym battle!" he declared excitedly.

One long walk later…

"This is it," Brock spoke out loud, looking up from the map he was holding. "We're at the Rustboro City gym," he informed his friends.

"Well, it's definitely a rock-type gym," Bianca commented. The building before them was a large structure with a cylindrical shape whose entire exterior was adorned by huge boulders. More boulders covered the upper sections of it, framing a wall on which a simple red door was located. The courtyard surrounding the entire building was covered entirely in dirt and rocks, giving it a wasteland-like vibe.

Ash nodded. "Yeah, Phanpy and Larvitar have type advantage as ground-types. And Treecko is a grass-type." He paused and smiled. "I'm really glad Professor Oak was able to get Treecko to fully recover from the wound Seviper inflicted on him."

"Just don't push him too hard," Latias advised. "If you see him in pain, call him out and let someone else take his place, okay?" she requested, watchful of the Wood Gecko Pokémon's wellbeing.

"I will, don't worry, Latias," Ash promised as he walked forward, towards the gym's entrance. He knocked several times. "Hello! Is anyone here!?" Ash shouted. The trainer tried moving the door's knob, but it refused to move. "It's locked."

"Well, at least we're not gonna barge in like we did back at the Petalburg Gym," Pikachu mumbled sarcastically, rolling his eyes.

"I could psychically unlock it," Latios offered, making Pikachu facepalm.

Ash was about to knock again, but stopped when the sound of the door's lock clicking was heard and the door was pulled open. "Hello," a young man greeted them. "I assume you're here for a gym battle with the gym leader?"

"Yes, I'm Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town and I'm here for a Gym Battle!" Ash declared.

"Not today you aren't," the man standing in the Gym's entry said drily.

Ash groaned in disappointed. "But its early morning! I got up this early just so I could get a battle!"

"I'm sorry, kid, but the gym leader is going to be busy the next couple of days. You won't be able to get your battle until she's free," he said. "She shares her duties as gym leader with her other job."

"Then I'll go see her at her workplace so I can convince her to battle me," Ash said determinedly. "Where does she work?"

"Not telling. Her work requires concentration and she dislikes being interrupted. Come back in about three days," the man said, closing the gym's door in their faces.

"Hey!" Ash shouted, knocking on the door angrily.

"Tough luck, I guess," Brock said, shaking his head several times.

Latios' eyes briefly flashed in white. "The gym leader's in a building down the street," he commented. "It's not too far."

"I thought reading minds was rude," Brock said.

"He was rude first, he deserved it," Latios responded dismissively. "Plus, Ash wants to battle. I got the gym leader's location. Win-win for us."

"You shouldn't be doing that, Latios," Ash reprimanded him. "I don't like it when you do that." He turned around and walked back down the street. His friends followed him.

"Well, I got the Gym leader's location," Latios said defensively.

"I guess…" Ash muttered uneasily.

After walking down the street for several minutes, Latios pointed at the building he knew the Gym leader was in. "What's that?" Bianca asked, gazing at the place Latios was directing them towards. It was a large group of buildings and structures of an old-style design surrounded by a brick wall. The buildings were all of the same brick style with lavender-colored roofs. As they reached the entrance, they noticed the large banner above the entry gate. "Oh, the Pokémon Trainer's School? Isn't that the place Candace talked about when we met her?" she asked, thinking back to when they had met her.

"Yeah, it is," Brock confirmed, taking out his book to take a quick read about the place. "According to this, it's the best school for Pokémon trainers in the entire region. The Gym Leader, Roxanne, is one of the school's most popular figures. She works as a teacher for beginners here."

"Then we should probably wait until she's done with her schooling before asking for a battle," Bianca suggested. "Being a teacher is probably a very stressful job."

"No," Ash said adamantly. "I want my battle, now. I didn't wake up at eight in the morning just to be told I have to wait to battle. It's still very early."

Bianca sighed and rolled her eyes. "Why is it that we always have to do things like this to get gym battles? Can't we wait like normal trainers do?"

"We're not normal trainers," Ash said. "We're extra awesome trainers. Plus, I have a Latios."

Brock shook his head in amusement. "Same old Ash," he muttered.

Pikachu laughed. "Watch us and our 'extra awesomeness' be denied again."

"I don't think we're even going to be allowed to enter the school if we have no connections to it," Bianca commented. "It's not like schools randomly allow any stranger to walk in."

"Hello," Ash greeted the guard on duty once he had reached the school's main entrance. "I'm a Pokémon Trainer and I'm here to challenge the Rustboro City Gym Leader for a battle."

The gate guard stared at Ash for several long seconds. "…This is a school. Not a Gym." He shook his head. "You'll have to wait until Roxanne is done with her schedule if you want a battle with her. If she allows it. She will be done in the afternoon."

"Aw, come on!" Ash whined.

"No," the guard said simply.

"Is something wrong?" an elderly man asked, peeking his head out from the school's entrance. "What's with all the commotion?"

"Nothing wrong," the guard replied. "It's a trainer requesting to battle Miss Roxanne, but she's off limits during school hours."

The elderly man walked out through the door. He was dressed in extremely elegant clothing, consisting of a red coat with a white undershirt and a tie, as well as grey pants. He had messy greyish hair and a neat moustache. "He is right, Miss Roxanne doesn't battle during school hours," he said in a polite and sophisticated tone, but stopped and visibly paused when he saw Ash.

"Who are you?" Ash asked curiously, wondering if he was someone important based on the attire he was wearing.

"I am the school's principal and owner," the elder replied. "But, I am now intrigued. I presume you are Ash Ketchum?"

Ash blinked, surprised he was recognized. "Yeah, that's me," he answered. "How do you know me?"

"From the Silver Conference," the principal replied.

"It's kind of silly to ask people who recognize you from where they recognize you, Ash," Bianca commented. "I imagine it's rather evident."

"I agree," Brock said, nodding.

Ash sighed, knowing that once again they were right. "I guess."

"Everyone who works close to the Pokémon Leagues and related things in most regions knows who you are. Word spreads fast when trainers appear in possession of Legendary Pokémon," the school's principal replied.

"I wonder if I am the only trainer to have Legendary Pokémon," Ash wondered.

"No, you are not," the school's principal said. "I know of some others, but the number is incredibly tiny. I can think of only two at the top of my head right now, not counting you."

"There are others? Who else has Legendaries?" Ash asked, immediately fascinated. Latios and Latias also listened in carefully, very curious.

"That is for you to find out," the school's principal replied vaguely. "Look it up. Anyway. You said earlier you were here to battle Miss Roxanne…"

"Well, yeah," Ash replied, nodding. "I wouldn't be here for any other reason."

"What about going to class?" Bianca asked. She frowned. "For that matter, why aren't you in school? You shou-"

"Not important," Ash said quickly.

The school's principal hummed, deep in thought. "Give me a second." He stepped into the school and disappeared inside.

"I wonder what he's up to," Ash said, glancing quizzically at his friends.

After what felt like over ten minutes for the impatiently waiting group, the principal finally came back. "I'm sorry for making you wait, but I was checking on something," he said apologetically. "Please, come inside."

"Okay," Ash said, walking past the guard and entering the school alongside his friends. Instantly they were greeted by the sight of the school's courtyard and several large buildings. On the right side of the courtyard the group could see two battlefields with a row of stands.

"Very impressive school," Brock commented, gazing in surprise at how much larger the school seemed once he was inside.

"Thank you," the principal said. He used an arm to motion to a woman that was slowly approaching them. "I introduce you to the Rustboro City Gym Leader, Roxanne. She is one of the best students in the history of our academy, our precious prodigy."

The woman approaching them seemed extremely young, easily in her early twenties. She was wearing a dark blue one-piece dress with a white collar and red stockings on her legs. Her dark brown hair was nearly arranged into two long ponytails held in place by two red ribbons. "Hello, everyone," she greeted politely as she reached the group. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

"It's nice to meet a fellow rock-type gym leader," Brock commented, deciding not to try hitting on her due to the rather ominous and watchful presences of Bianca and Latias beside him and the very formal meeting.

Roxanne's eyes lit up in recognition. "Ah, I knew you seemed familiar. Pleased to meet you, Brock, Kanto's own fabled rock-type gym leader," she said, flashing him a smile.

"Hello, my name is-" Ash began, but was promptly interrupted.

"Ash Ketchum, and you're here for a Gym Battle," Roxanne finished for him. "Yes, I was told already. I'm pleased to meet the Silver Conference's surprise trainer."

Ash blinked. "Thanks?" he said, unsure. After an awkward pause, he smirked confidently. "I'm sure I can surprise you even more in our battle. So, can we battle already? I'm here for my second badge."

Roxanne let out a small chuckle. "Normally, I don't accept gym battles when I'm teaching. However, due to the trainer asking, and the very unique Pokémon that is in your possession, I'll make an exception for you. On one condition."

"What's the condition?" Brock asked, intrigued. It wasn't often that gym leaders asked for special conditions when receiving challenges.

"…is it that hard to predict?" Latias commented in their minds. "I can guess it without bothering to peek in her mind or listen to her thoughts."

"I want you to use your Latios in the battle," Roxanne stated, making Ash blink in surprise.

"Knew it," Latias said idly.

"You want to fight Latios? Really?" Ash asked, confused. "Wouldn't people not want to fight him in fear of losing?"

"Winning isn't the point of Gym Battles. At least not from the perspective of the Gym Leaders. Latios' presence dampening my win chances is not something I care about. I am very interested in seeing the dynamics that you have with him. I want to test that. See it for myself," Roxanne explained. "Also, I've never seen a Legendary with my own eyes and I'm very sure that neither have my students. Seeing a Legendary Pokémon is a very interesting and unique prospect that doesn't present itself every day. It's also a very good thing for the school to see. That's why I'm accepting your challenge on a school day. I want the entire school to see a Legendary Pokémon in battle. It will be a valuable experience."

"Oh," Ash said, frowning. "I didn't plan to use Latios in our battle, though."

Roxanne gave a surprised start. "No? Why not? Wouldn't he be a good Pokémon to win gym battles with?" she asked.

"Yeah, he is. But I also want my whole team to grow and gain experience. I was going to use three of my younger, newer and inexperienced Pokémon in our battle because I want them to gain experience. Relying too much on Latios was what cost me the Silver Conference," Ash answered. "I defeated Norman without using Latios at all."

Roxanne narrowed her eyes slightly. 'So, he's defeated Norman already… without Latios,' she thought, impressed. She knew the Petalburg gym leader was powerful. "Your intent is very admirable and shows that you are indeed a good trainer. Deciding to stick to younger Pokémon for beginning gym battles to grow a rich team overtime despite being in possession of a Legendary Pokémon is an impressive conviction, one that I respect. But, I still want to battle Latios to give the entire school that experience." She hummed. "How about we make your gym challenge more interesting? Let's have two battles. A three on three in which I'll use the standard team I use to face beginning trainers, and a final one on one in which I'll use my absolute strongest Pokémon against your Latios. Win both and you'll earn your Stone Badge."

Ash smirked broadly, instantly liking Roxanne's proposal. "I love challenges. That's a great idea! I accept. And I'll win for sure!" he declared.

Latios smirked at Pikachu, not that the electric-type could see it as the dragon was invisible. "See? People bend the rules, battle when they don't accept battles and make special requests just to fight me. You're ignored in the meantime," he playfully commented. Pikachu turned to the side and stuck his tongue at where he presumed Latios was. "Latias is in that direction, I'm the other way," Latios smugly corrected him. Latias giggled while Pikachu growled in annoyance, flushing in embarrassment.

The school's principal, who had been listening on the entire exchange, smiled. "Very well. I will have all students be released from their classes and attend the battle arena for today's special event. If you'll excuse me." He turned and began to walk towards the school's main building to get all the preparations done.

Roxanne glanced at the group. "Come, I'll treat you to something from the cafeteria while the school gets ready for our gym battle." She turned and walked to the school's cafeteria. The group followed Roxanne to the cafeteria, admiring the school's amazing installations as they walked. Once there, they all got some drinks and then took a seat while they talked to Roxanne.

A few minutes later the school's intercom system buzzed to life and relayed the principal's change of activities for the day. Slowly, scores upon scores of students began to exit the school's many buildings, all guided by their respective teachers. Some of the student groups had to go through the cafeteria when heading to the arena, and Ash was surprised at how many seemed to recognize him, though swift orders from Roxanne had them hurrying over to the stands. Ash's group watched the variety of ages within the school's students with interest, as they saw groups of kids that seemed to be seven years old pass by, as well as groups whose students easily seemed in their early and mid-teens. "How's the school organized?" Bianca asked curiously. "You have all kinds of ages here."

"There's Beginners class, from which most of the youngsters you are seeing come from. That's the fundamental class every student has to go through. Once that class is completed students may pick from one of several careers. There's the Pokémon Contest Class, Pokémon Battle Class, Pokémon Doctor Class, Pokémon Breeder Class, Pokémon Researcher Class and Pokémon Advanced Studies Class. Depending on the course, each may take several years," Roxanne explained. "We are the best Pokémon School in the entire Hoenn region," she added proudly.

"Most impressive," Brock admitted, feeling curiosity for the Pokémon Breeder and Pokémon Doctor classes. He idly thought back to Kanto's own Pokémon trainer school, and how it clearly wasn't as good as the one he was currently at.

Roxanne nodded appreciatively. "Thank you, we take great pride in how advanced the school is." She hummed, glancing to the side as she noted the stands of the school's arena rapidly filling. "The replays from this battle will be useful for our battle classes, for example. I have videos from many previous Gym Battles that I use in the Beginner and Battle classes, letting students analyze the battles and learn from them."

Ash smirked at her. "Oh, you'll get an awesome video out of this battle…And I'll be getting a badge!" he said confidently.

Roxanne let out a low chuckle. Ash's confidence and enthusiasm was catchy. "Don't get overconfident." She glanced to the side when she noticed a coworker approaching her out the corner of her eye.

"Everyone's at the arena, Roxanne. It's ready." The teacher then turned around and headed back to the arena.

"Well, it's time. Come, Ash." Roxanne stood up and began to walk towards the arena. Ash and his friends followed her. As they approached the arena, many of the students began to cheer for Roxanne, however, Ash noticed that some of the cheers and waves were also directed at him, prompting him to wave back and smile.

Ash walked to one of the boxes marked at the edge of the field, turning to face Roxanne as she took her position on her side of the field. Bianca and Brock, in the meantime, moved over to the stands. "Good luck, Ash!" Brock shouted, waving at his longtime friend. Ash nodded back and returned his attention to Roxanne.

The referee, who looked like a teacher, moved into position. After briefly reading a sheet of paper with the information he needed to know about the battle, he took what looked like a remote control out of his pocket and pressed a button on it. Suddenly, a mechanical sound overtook the arena as it began to sink into the ground, splitting in half and then sliding out of view. Another battlefield was hydraulically pushed up to take its place. "Woah, this place has its own custom battlefield?" Pikachu commented, surprised.

"Yeah, it feels as if we're in the league," Ash agreed, watching in wonder as a battlefield covered with rock formations took the place of where the previous battlefield had been.

"It seems Roxanne is prepared to take Gym battles here if needed," Latios commented, glancing at the battlefield. Having seen type-changing battlefields before, the dragon wasn't too impressed.

Ash nodded. "I was kinda disappointed that this battle had to be on a plain battlefield, but not anymore. This rocks!"

"Oh, a pun," Pikachu commented, chuckling. Ash blinked, but then joined Pikachu in chuckles once he realized what the electric-type was hinting at. Latios rolled his eyes at the pair while Latias shook her head in amusement.

"The following Gym Battle between the Gym Leader, Roxanne, and the Challenger, Ash Ketchum of Pallet Town, will soon commence. The challenge will be split in two battles. A three versus three and a one versus one. The challenger must prove victorious in both battles to receive a Stone Badge," the referee announced. He spared a look to both contestants to ensure they were ready. At the nod from each of them, he raised the two flags he was holding in his hands. "Begin!"

Meanwhile, deep below the seas located south of the Hoenn Region…

The ocean floor was calm and quiet, shrouded completely in darkness. At first impression it seemed devoid of life or activity of any kind, such was the life at the depths of the ocean. The only rare disturbances came in the form of the occasional water-type Pokémon calmly swimming by.

The seabed's eerie tranquility was abruptly broken by an imposing figure as it swam past, going at blazing fast speeds that seemed physically impossible to swim at in the ocean's depths. The extreme pressures and darkness were absolutely no impediment for it. As the figure swam by, clouds of sand from the disturbed seabed were picked up and hurled violently in all directions.

The figure was a huge Pokémon with large wings fanning out at either side of its sinister form, along with a long neck and tail. In the darkness, the figure looked like a pitch-dark, undistinguishable silhouette with uncanny glowing eyes. The few Pokémon that were in the area, be it individuals or small groups, instantly moved out of the way of the larger Pokémon. However, it was clear that the mysterious Pokémon was being careful not to bother or harm any of them, as it gracefully dodged any Pokémon too slow to move out of the way in time.

A much smaller Pokémon rested atop the swimming one, looking down with a bored expression at its back. "Are we there yeeeeeeet?" the smaller Pokémon asked in a drawn out and childish voice. The child's voice was completely unhindered by the fact they were currently deep underwater; the words came out perfectly, as if the water itself carried them.

"No, we are not there yet," an older female voice responded calmly. Her voice was just as equally unhindered by the depths as the child's. "Asking isn't going to make us arrive any faster, Silver," she added.

"It could make you swim faster," Silver pointed out, his voice hopeful.

"There's no real need to," was the only reply he got.

Silver pouted at her. "Aww… But, Phae-" He paused and blinked slowly before awkwardly continuing, "-draaa…"To the toddler, it felt rather odd to call her by full name as he was completely accustomed to shortening it.

The larger figure, whose name was now identified as Phaedra, rolled her eyes in amusement at Silver's attempt at using her full name to give her the idea that he was really being serious about her going faster. "Yes, Silver?" she asked tentatively.

Silver moved slowly to the edge of her body, near her wing. He gazed down at the seabed as it passed by underneath them. Just like his voice, his eyesight was completely unhindered by the total darkness surrounding him. Every single detail was visible to him, and anything that was of any slight interest instantly earned a quick glance from the child. After a few moments, he let out a long sigh. "I'm bored," he stated.

"You could have taken a nap while we traveled like you usually do," Phaedra chided. Silver glanced at her and frowned. Phaedra chuckled, bemused. "We are almost there, okay?" she admitted finally. "That should cheer you up."

Silver grinned happily at her, his expression changing from complete boredom to pure enthusiasm in an instant. "Yay!"

"But, not yet. I did say almost," Phaedra pointed out.

Silver pouted again and laid down to rest on her back. Letting out a sigh he rolled until he was upside down, gazing upwards into the dark distance. Seconds passed… Minutes passed… After what seemed like a boring eternity for the toddler, he impatiently spoke out again, "Are we there yet?"

Phaedra chuckled slightly. "Yes," she replied, shaking her head in amusement at the child's antics that never seized to amuse her. "We're there."

"Yay!" Silver cheered excitedly once more, rapidly righting himself up before eagerly crawling towards the base of her neck.

Phaedra smiled at him. "Up we go." She adjusted her swimming path, angling herself upwards to begin ascending to the surface. Light began to slowly shine all around them as they quickly climbed and approached the surface, leaving the darkness behind. The surface of the ocean exploded in a massive splash when she suddenly emerged from it, startling a flock of nearby Wingull and Pelipper at her sudden arrival and causing them to panic and scatter.

No longer marred in the dark of the seabed, her form was now perfectly visible under the bright light of the sun. Phaedra was a Lugia, a gigantic silver and dark blue Pokémon. A Lugia was a Pokémon that resembled a cross between a dragon and a bird. She had a ridged mouth shaped similar to a beak, with pointed teeth on her lower jaw. The back of her head was pointy, with her deep red eyes framed by dark blue facemask-like pointed plates. Her neck was long and slender, while her body was slightly chubby and her blue-colored belly round and prominent. She had large wings whose ends resembled fingers fanning out on either side of her. Dark blue plates ran down the length of her back in a double row, and there were two smaller, more pointed plates at the end of her very long and elegant tail. Her strong legs ended in long feet with three round toes. Her feathers were incredibly smooth and rubbery, glistening brightly under the sun from the moisture of her time underwater, making her entire body look streamlined and easily denoting the expertise the Lugia had at both swimming and flying.

Silver grinned, looking at the island he could spot in the far distance. "It's there, Phae," he commented eagerly. Silver too was a Lugia, nearly identical to his older sister in looks. However, being a young child, he was barely a mere fraction of Phaedra's imposing size. Silver's physique also still had the clear marks of infancy and baby fat all over him. All his features were much softer and rounder than those of Phaedra, and he looked considerably chubbier. As soon as Silver caught sight of the nearby frightened Pokémon, he burst out laughing. "They should be used to it by now," he said mirthfully. He recognized them all as inhabitants of the nearby island. "You do this every time we come here, sis."

Phaedra began to fly forward at a lazy pace. "There's no reason to laugh at them, Silver. It's normal behavior for them to flee when something so big splashes out of the water. It's survival. I'm harmless to them, but imagine if I were a Gyarados or a Sharpedo? They'd be easy food," Pheadra explained, smiling gently at Silver. The toddler paused and stared at her, before nodding slowly and acknowledging she was right. Phaedra then lowered her neck and gave Silver a tiny psychic push, causing him to slide down towards her head.

"Hey!" Silver cried out in surprise, coming to a stop right on top of her head.

Phaedra smiled, eyes looking up at him. "How about you accompany me to the island by yourself? You need to work on your flying."

Silver looked at her uneasily. "But I'm bad at it…"

"You need to keep working on it so you stop being bad at it," Phaedra said, encouraging the child on. "Plus, aren't you eager to learn to fly?"

Silver nodded enthusiastically, all uneasiness seemingly gone. "Yes! I want to fly!"

"There we go. Get ready," Phaedra said. She waited for a few seconds while Silver's enthusiasm died down as well as moved into a more comfortable position before raising her head abruptly, launching the toddler upwards about a dozen feet.

As soon as he was airborne, Silver extended his wings and flapped a couple of times in an attempt to stabilize. Soon enough, the child was flying on his own… or at least his attempt at it. "H-how am I doing?" Silver asked nervously, his wings spread wide as he tried to remain aloft. He was wobbling a lot as he tried to move alongside Phaedra, who was carefully watching him while moving at a very leisure place.

Phaedra nodded slowly, letting herself fall behind just a little bit. "You're doing great, little brother!" she said encouragingly. "Keep it up." She lowered her head and lightly nudged him. "Come now. Try to pick up the pace just a little bit."

Doing his best to glide smoothly and stay stable, the child continued to move forward at a slightly speedier pace. Try as hard as he could, it didn't take more than a couple of minutes before he suddenly began to wobble and lose his balance. Phaedra quickly reached forward, nudging him slightly with the tip of her beak-like mouth to set him straight and help him regain his balance. "It's hard," Silver complained, letting out short huffs of exhaustion.

"You need to practice," Phaedra said gently. "Your wings are just developing. As you try each and every day, your wings will begin to gain the musculature and strength needed for you to fly stably." At hearing another of Silver's pants, she chuckled. "And, of course, fly without tiring as fast."

"Can't they grow faster?" Silver whined, failing to flap at the right moment and once again losing balance on his flight.

"They'll grow stronger if you practice more," Phaedra responded as she once again reached forward. This time, however, she slipped her head underneath Silver to let him rest atop her head. At her gesture, Silver let out a much needed breath of relief. "Imagine as if you were flying." Phaedra began to fly towards the island in the distance at a faster pace.

Once he had found good footing on her head, Silver spread his wings once more and closed his eyes, enjoying the feeling of the gentle wind flowing all around them. He let out a short laugh moments later and opened his eyes. "This feels like flying," he commented. With a contented sigh, he pretended as if he was flying on his own. He moved his wings in the correct motions whenever the air shifted, flapped when he felt he needed to flap, and moved his tail to steer himself whenever he felt he needed to. His body perfectly mimicked the flying motions that for thousands of years he had seen his father and sister do whenever they flew.

"You're doing amazing," Phaedra reassured him. "You have most of it spot-on. You'll be able to fly on your own for much longer periods of time pretty soon. Just a bit of development left to go."

"This is tiring," Silver said with a wheeze. He could already feel the young muscles in his wings and tail start to scream from the exhaustion, and his breathing was becoming increasingly labored.

"You'll build up strength overtime, as I said," Phaedra told him gently. "I'm very proud of you for trying. You can rest now."

Silver took her words to heart, immediately sprawling down atop her head while panting softly. "I can't wait to fly," he moaned sadly.

"All things come in time, Silver," Phaedra responded, raising her head slightly to make the youngling slide down her neck and land softly on her back. No longer needing to fly slowly for Silver's practice, she picked up the pace and very quickly reached their destination. A ripple of power broke through the air as she flew through the island's invisible protective shield. "Well, now we're here for real."

Silver grinned happily and, forgetting all exhaustion, eagerly hopped close to Phaedra's wing to gaze at the island below them. "Yay!" Immediately, childish and curious eyes focused on every little thing that moved or caught his attention on the ground below them. Either interesting plants that no matter how many times he saw them they never seemed to cease to amaze him or random Pokémon inhabitants of the island. Silver had been to this particular island many times in the past, however, its magical allure always seemed to intrigue him all the same every time. Phaedra smiled at him, enjoying the sight of her little brother's excitement. After several minutes of sight-seeing, the toddler frowned. "Why are we here?" he asked.

"Well, I thought you were happy to be here," Phaedra remarked, grinning at him.

Silver giggled. "I am!" he replied happily. "But, I just wanna know."

"Hmm. Well, I'm not sure myself to be honest," Phaedra admitted as she flew around the island, heading to where she sensed the only other Legendary Pokémon on the island was. Silver blinked in confusion at her. "Skailyn asked me to come over here," she elaborated at Silver's unspoken question.

Silver nodded slowly. "Oooh. Why?" he asked.

Phaedra shrugged. "I don't know. She didn't mention any particular details. I imagine she'll let us know when we get to her." After a few seconds of flying, Phaedra came across the one she had been looking for in the form of a distinctive black serpentine dragoness. She was currently stretched out on her back on the sandy beach, uncaringly sprawled all over while enjoying the warmth of the sun's rays against her belly and appeared to be asleep.

Phaedra smiled softly at the sight of her best friend, approaching her. "Hey," she greeted as she landed in front of the Rayquaza with a soft thud, kicking up some sand in the process. Several seconds passed and she got absolutely no reply from her, the only sound being the lazy splash of the waves and the Sky High Pokémon's deep breaths. Phaedra rolled her eyes in exasperation and extended her tail to the side, dipping the tip into the sea. The instant a wave rolled by, she lashed her tail and sent a splash of water directly at Skailyn's head.

A strong gust of wind suddenly blew in the direction of the sea just before the water could hit Skailyn's head, stopping the seawater from touching her and easily blowing it back into the sea. A single deep, golden eye opened to gaze up at Phaedra. "No."

Phaedra laughed openly at her reaction. "Well, that got your attention." She leaned forward and pressed her head to Skailyn's affectionately, gently nuzzling her. Skailyn closed her eye and gently pressed back, letting out a soft, rumbling purr as she did so.

Slowly, Phaedra pulled back. "It's good to see you again."

"That was a rude way to get my attention," Skailyn pointed out sharply. "I expected something a lot nicer." The black dragoness lazily flipped over and then lifted the front half of her body, rising up until she was higher than the Diving Pokémon. The rest of her body remained carelessly sprawled out in the beach.

"I'm full of surprises," Phaedra said, grinning slightly. "You know that better than anyone."

Before either of the two goddesses could continue on with their conversation, a childish squeal interrupted them. "Skai!" Silver cried out excitedly, enthusiastic to see the dragoness again. He hopped off Phaedra's back and landed softly in the sand, and then quickly turned to face her. "Hi!"

Skailyn rapidly brought her tail out from behind her before Silver could make any move towards her and slipped it underneath him, easily picking him up. "Hello, Silver," she greeted him gently as she moved her tail closer to her face. The toddler was barely as big as the two pointed fins that adorned the Rayquaza's tail, making him easily rest on them comfortably. Skailyn softly pressed the tip of her snout against the kid's side, giving him a quick kiss.

Silver laughed softly, playfully swatting at Skailyn's snout with his tail. Skailyn pulled back, pretending to be affected by the child's hits, making him laugh even harder. "You've gotten very strong," Skailyn complemented.

Silver's laugh died down. He stood upright and spread his wings, adopting an 'intimidating' posture as he puffed his chest out at her to try and make himself look larger. "I have!" He said proudly.

Skailyn let out a short laugh. "I can see that."

Silver's posture relaxed. He looked up at her with eager eyes. "How are you?" he asked.

"I'm good," Skailyn responded kindly. "Well, unbelievably bored, but okay."

"I know bored, it's really bad," Silver said, making a face.

"It is." Skailyn gave Silver a small, affectionate lick to his neck and side before slowly setting him down on the sand, very close the sea. She leaned down so her head was eye-level with the child. "Your favorite kind of seaweed is plentiful lately. There's a lot to eat."

Silver instantly grinned. "Yay! I'm hungry." Excitedly, he bolted to the sea and dived into it, quickly disappearing under the waves. Unlike with flying, it was clear his skills at swimming were more acute and developed.

"It took you long enough to get here," Skailyn commented to Phaedra once the toddler had gone out, turning to look at the other female while rising her neck. "For a moment I thought I'd been forgotten," she quipped, faking hurt in her voice.

"I came here as fast as I could," Phaedra shot back with a good-humored glare. "Don't complain. I had to help mom with some stuff."

"I'm not complaining," Skailyn shot back. "Well, what's Kyogre been up to with you lately?"

Phaedra shrugged. "It's just the usual things. Mom's just making sure I'm keeping on top of all my duties, being on time to my training, plus teaching Silver flying and everything else he needs to know." She frowned. "You called right in the middle of that, hence my tardiness. So, speaking of that, why did you call?" she asked curiously.

"I was bored. I need some company," Skailyn replied, waving an arm dismissively. "No big deal."

"Huh, really?" Phaedra said, dumbfounded. "You made me come all the way here just because you were bored?"

Skailyn gave her a flat look. "And that surprises you because…?"

Phaedra rolled her eyes. "It doesn't."

"Good. Well, you can't deny you enjoy coming here, good reason or not," Skailyn said playfully. "My island is beautiful."

Phaedra chuckled, conceding the point. "No, I can't. I definitely don't mind coming here, you got me there."

"See? No problem then." Skailyn smirked at her, moving closer to her. Playfully, she pressed against the Lugia and nuzzled her. "That is, unless you want to make a big problem out of it."

Phaedra gave her an exasperated and knowing look, and then lightheartedly pushed her back with a wing. "I won't. But, still, that's all? I thought there'd be something big and important going on."

Skailyn hummed, thoughtful for a moment. "Well, there is something big and important going on, if you want to put it that way. It's just really slow. It's also got me Hoenn-bound at the moment. I can't go too far from the area. That's why it was you who had to come here," the dragoness explained.

"Wow, you can't leave the area?" Phaedra asked, intrigued, while motioning around them with one of her great wings. Skailyn shook her head once. "Not even for… say, Rayquaza's training? Your Legendary duties? Anything like that?" the Lugia continued. Skailyn shook her head again. "It sounds like a very important matter, then," Phaedra concluded.

"It is," Skailyn replied. "It's a very special matter that overrides all else for its duration," she added, slowly turning to glance out towards the sea in a very specific direction.

Phaedra followed Skailyn's glance, noting she was looking in the direction of the mainland Hoenn Region. Phaedra hummed when she noted she could feel the dragoness' ghostly power in the far distance. She tilted her head, eyes glowing softly as she analyzed what she was sensing in a deeper manner. "What happened?" she asked, returning her gaze to Skailyn. "This is odd. I'm worried."

For a moment Skailyn's eyes seemed lost in the distance and unfocused. "Doing favors for Latios. And, they're very important favors at that."

"Oh, right!" Phaedra exclaimed instantly, her voice brimming with delight. Skailyn looked at her oddly at the sudden outburst. "I heard that Latios is back," she said, gazing down to the waves thoughtfully. However, she grimaced afterwards. "I have to go and see him. I haven't done so. That's insensitive of me."

"It's fine, doubt he'll care. To be fair, Latios has been extremely busy lately. He wouldn't be able to give you much time. I could barely get him to give me some time to deal with some… problems… I ran into," Skailyn added, a low tremble and growl rocking her at the end of her sentence.

Phaedra frowned, easily sensing and seeing the emotional disturbance in the other goddess. She walked a bit closer and wrapped one of her wings around her in a gesture of comfort. She pressed her neck to the black dragoness' gently. "Hey, you alright?" she asked with concern.

"Yes, I am. It was just… bad. Humans were being stupid yet again, torturing and enslaving Pokémon… many ghosts and dragons included… many hatchlings…" Skailyn said in a trembling voice, shaking her head in anger. Phaedra gave her a very concerned look. "We'll talk about it later. There are better things to discuss for now." Abruptly, she changed the topic and continued speaking. "Anyway, as I said, Latios is being all over the place right now. You'll have a tough time meeting up with him."

Phaedra nodded once, understanding the dragoness' desire to discuss the matter later. Slowly, she pulled back. "If Latios is this busy… I imagine it has to do with…" Phaedra began.

"Yep. The twins are going to be meeting their parents soon," Skailyn finished, smiling softly at the mention of the two young dragons.

"The time has finally come?" Phaedra asked tentatively, eyes brimming with delight.

Skailyn nodded. "Yes. It has at last. That's why you won't be able to get any decent time with him until after he's done tending to his kids."

Phaedra nodded in understanding. "And very rightfully so…" She paused for a moment. "I need to see the twins, too. It's been a while since I last went to Alto Mare.

"We'll get the chance to see them eventually, don't worry," Skailyn reassured her.

"I imagine it's best to wait until after Latios has met with them?" Phaedra asked, even though she already knew the answer.

"Yeah," Skailyn responded to her.

"Figured." Phaedra let out a contented sigh and then glanced out to the ocean, eyes focusing on the distance in the direction of the Hoenn region. She could sense the faint trace of the Rayquaza's power far away. Phaedra smiled slightly and then returned her attention to the Sky High Pokémon. If her power was over them, that meant she had gotten the chance to see the two young dragons recently. Phaedra remained silent for several moments, distracted in her trail of thoughts about the two young dragons. "So, how are Lae-" Her speech was suddenly cut short by the crash of a large wave upon her and Skailyn. Unlike the Lugia, Skailyn had not been distracted by deep thoughts, and was aware of the wave's approach. At the last instant, she put up a quick barrier of frozen-still air around her, shielding her from the wave and keeping her perfectly dry. Phaedra was not as lucky, and was completely submerged by the crashing wave.

The merry laugh of Silver echoed on the beach as he rode down the wave, landing on the older Lugia's back. "Gotcha!" he squealed cheerfully, lightly bouncing up and down on her back excitedly amid loud laughter.

Skailyn laughed openly at Phaedra. Due to the Lugia's special kind of plumage, most of the water easily slipped down her body and left her only moist at worst. Hearing her laugh, Phaedra glared at Skailyn lividly. "You made sure I couldn't feel or hear the wave coming, didn't you?" Phaedra asked, faking indignation and demand in her voice. Having ample knowledge of the Rayquaza's powers, she just knew she had something to do with it.

"I may or may not be guilty," Skailyn responded between chuckles.

"I thought you had gone to eat," Phaedra said, turning her neck to face the child on her back.

"I did! But…" Silver began responding, but as soon as he took a good look at Phaedra's face, which was glistening slightly under the sun's rays from the moisture still left on her feathers, he immediately started laughing again. Phaedra rolled her eyes, making Skailyn also laugh at her. Once Silver's laughter had died down, he continued, "You select the best ones! And there's so much… Come with me!"

Skailyn snorted, holding back a chuckle before glancing up at Silver. "You have demands to fulfill, Phaedra."

Phaedra's eyes glowed with an intense blue light as she psychically gathered the water that was still inland from Silver's wave and quickly condensed it into a single spot. She then used Substitute, causing the water to ripple with her power as it began shifting in form. The water rapidly shaped itself into a smaller copy of her body, solidifying until it looked identical to her. With a quick gesture, the copy of herself suddenly dashed to the side and dove into the ocean. Silver hopped off her back and dived into the water, going after the substitute. "That'll keep him entertained," Phaedra commented. "So, where was I?" she asked.

"You were having a wave crash on you," Skailyn answered, holding back a laugh.

Phaedra glared at her. "Really?"

"Fine." Skailyn spread her will into the air all around them, making a strong breeze blow by them which quickly dried the dampness left on Phaedra's body. She then turned to glance at the direction of the Hoenn Region. "You were asking how the twins were. Well, they're okay. They've taken to the outside world quite nicely. They are growing."

Phaedra smiled. "That's good. It's about time they experienced freedom outside of Alto Mare. Together."

Skailyn nodded. "Yes, it is. They're with a group of human trainers, so they are protected from trivial dangers. I'm sure you know them. Ash, Bianca and Brock."

"Yeah, I know them," Phaedra said, nodding back at her. "I've personally met all three of them. Pretty good humans to be with, they'll take good care of the twins."

"I'll take your word for it," Skailyn said simply, not having a real opinion on any of them.

"You'll see. Anyway, I wonder, did they find out about the curse that was on them?" Phaedra questioned. She sighed. "And why everyone was so insistent that they never left the city together? That could be tough to explain if they found out."

"As far as I know, they know nothing of the curse or who did it to them. The day the curse broke, Latios talked to them and allowed them to leave the city. But, the curse itself was not mentioned," Skailyn responded. "It's an unknown topic for them."

"That's for the best," Phaedra said immediately.

"Yeah," Skailyn agreed. "At least until they're ready to know about it. What is told to them is up to their parents and we have to respect it."

"Yeah." Phaedra looked back in the direction of mainland Hoenn. "So, what's going on with that?" she asked curiously, referring to the dragoness' power. "All that we've talked about still hasn't justified that."

Skailyn frowned unhappily. "Latios felt they could be in danger, so he asked me to guard them until he's ready."

"So, that is why you're Hoenn-bound?" Phaedra asked, putting the pieces together. "It's to protect them?"

Skailyn nodded. "Yes. Latios fears for their safety until they are given their full power and are informed of who they really are, so he asked me to keep watch over them until that happens," Skailyn responded. She sighed, dipping her tail in the sea in front of her, lazily playing with the waves. "And that's got me really bored. He didn't specify how long that would take. It could be until tomorrow. It could be in a week."

"Ah, no wonder…" Phaedra said, rolling her eyes. "I guess that merits calling me." Skailyn smiled at her. Phaedra returned the smile and resumed talking. "Shouldn't a shield just be enough?" she questioned. "You could put it on them and then leave."

"Normally it would," Skailyn admitted. "But I'm staying nearby just in case. Things have been moving forward very fast lately. It's better to stay on the safe side. Besides… one never knows what's safe and what isn't. Especially considering who we're dealing with."

Phaedra's eyes widened slightly. "Do you think they're in danger?" she questioned worriedly, her voice full of concern.

"I don't know…" Skailyn answered uncertainly. "I've felt it myself, I'm sure Latios has as well. There's a reason Latios has been so cautions lately. Azrael has been more active lately," she added ominously, putting a poisonous emphasis on the mentioned name.

Phaedra growled in response to the mention of his name. A moist breeze blew by as if a storm was gathering, the nearby water agitating and growing restless with her anger. The waves became stronger and larger, rolling farther into the beach. "Let him try anything. He's already got a lot to pay for… What he did to Latios a century ago… the curse he put on the twins… If he so much as touches a feather on either Lay-"

"Calm down," Skailyn interrupted, the dragoness' voice firm and cutting. "I know where you're getting at. I've made that exact same promise myself. Getting angry right now won't do anything."

"I guess," Phaedra said grudgingly. The waves and sky still roiled ominously, before calming as Skailyn pressed her power out. Phaedra was allowed her anger, but the island didn't need to be dealing with a storm.

"It Azrael tries anything, then we'll get to fulfill that promise. But for now all we can do is just watch and… be bored until Latios is ready to reveal everything to them. He's being picky about it. Still, it's understandable. He's finally going to meet his children face to face." There was clear affection in her voice as she spoke of the older Latios, a sharp contrast to the coldness she had when speaking of Azrael.

Phaedra took a deep breath before smiling and moving on to better topics. "Look on the bright side, no lessons or training from your dad until then. These are high priority special situations."

Skailyn snorted. "Really? You think dad is going to forget about them? He'll just pile them up until I'm free and then just send them all at once. You know my dad. And-" She grinned viciously at the Lugia, "that goes for you too."

"Yes, that's what I get for training with him. But I meant it as in, enjoy your freedom while it lasts," Phaedra corrected her.

Skailyn smirked at her. "You get off easy because your dad is lazy and easygoing. Lugia would never get off his lazy tail to train or do anything." Her voice was teasing.

"Hey!" Phaedra exclaimed playfully, using her tail to swipe a large cloud of sand at the dragoness in a playful manner. None of it made it to Skailyn, as a quick breeze easily blew it away. "Don't talk about my dad like that. At least he's not a total hardass like Rayquaza."

"No, he's not. That's damn well known. Lugia's a complete softie." Phaedra rolled her eyes at her when the Rayquaza said that. "But, anyway," Skailyn continued. "You're right in the sense that I plan to enjoy these small vacations."

"Unless they are interrupted. I'm rather worried… you? Think we'll be needed?" Phaedra asked, gesturing towards mainland Hoenn with her wing.

Skailyn hummed in thought. "Am I worried? Yeah. There's reasons to be worried. But, realistically, I don't quite think we'll be needed. Azrael… I don't think he'd have the guts to so boldly attack the twins when he knows we're watching closely. But-" She flashed a wicked grin at her friend. "If he does, we'll be ready."

"You're right. The twins will be fine and soon Latios will get to talk with them. Let's enjoy ourselves while we can before Rayquaza calls," Phaedra said. "The twins are safe. We're making sure of it."

Skailyn nodded in agreement. "That we are." She levitated off the sand completely and turned to look inland. "Come, let's get something to eat." She then began to fly inland at a lazy pace.

"I'm with you," Phaedra said, following her in a relaxed manner. With that, both goddesses disappeared into the island.


Author Notes: Chapter's over! Latias has now become Bianca's Pokémon, and Ash vs Roxanne happens next chapter. As I said, I got a decent chunk of that already written so I should be able to update soon. Also, I hope the Legendary scene between the two goddesses was a good and fun read. I certainly had fun writing it. Latios and Latias seem perfectly safe! Or are they? We'll see.

Please let me know what you think of the fun moment between Skailyn, Phaedra and Silver. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts!

Regarding Phaedra and Silver. I decided to modify the relation introduced in the anime to one I felt would be more generous and fun to write, plus one that allowed more character development and manageability with the potential Legendary couples I'll introduce in the future. Plus, realistically, it's the humans who keep stating they are parent-child all the time. They can be wrong. People in the anime tend to be stupid. Plus, the Lugia pair never talks at all so no way for them to correct them (will reference this when the two Lugia meet Ash's group). =)

Mmmm… You all know what's very amusing? Hoopa Clash of Ages movie introduced us to the existence of a Shiny Rayquaza in the anime. Totally Skailyn, by the way. ;)

Anyway, have a Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy the day, and see you in Chapter 17!