The Buster Gets Busted!

Iris Drayton has evolved from her times with Ash and Cilan to become one of the more renowned Dragon type trainers in the entire Pokémon world, despite only being seventeen. All of this attention amounts to the 'high price of fame', as no matter where she goes, Iris gets hounded by press, salespersons and fanatics of all ages wanting to get her autograph and get to know her from a deeper perspective. Her fully evolved Haxorus takes care of those who become too much of a nuisance, especially those who try to photograph her while she sleeps.

She's now the unique specimen of those who love to train but aren't in love with training, though she hopes that the opportunity to gym lead and get her name out of the spotlight of possibly being a Dragon Master can either change that or set all priorities straight. While signing up for the Club Double tournament, she runs across Dawn, now nearing sixteen, who comes to see the tournament and who will be the next gym leader. Iris is taken by Dawn's beautiful but mature look and feelings of attraction take over again. Dawn assures her it's nothing to worry about—that girls can tell other girls that without there being an issue—and it leads to Iris admitting that she would like to start dating, but doesn't know how. Dawn lets her counterpart know that she's in the same boat, but has her heart set on Class-S Connoisseur Cilan.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Pokemon, a creation of one Satoshi Tajiri, and is produced domestically (in the United States) by The Pokemon Company International, and internationally by Nintendo, Shogakukan and OLM. I personally own nothing and make nothing by writing this. Please do not flame.

(Chapter 3- Cilan and Profiling)

Writing some last-minute notes in anticipation for the upcoming production meeting, Cilan makes preparations for the pivotal four-day tournament beginning on Wednesday. He's already done this at least a dozen times and these notebooks he's complied for various trainers are full, usually within a couple of weeks. It's progressed to the point that he's had to get multiple notebooks for multiple regional trainers and now he's working on a tablet computer with additional written notes next to them as a backup.

No one could accuse him of not being prepared for the task at hand because his actions spoke much louder than his words, if such a thing was even possible. His arrival as an 'in-depth analyst' for Club Battle tournaments came with some level of controversy given that at the time he wasn't eighteen and he remained a co-gym leader for Striaton City. A few legal moves with his brothers relieved him of any potential but largely unforeseen conflicts of interest, but the moment he got into the booth with Freddy and Don George, he didn't miss a beat.

Though young, his experience as a Class-S Connoisseur translated well into commentary. It was not a perfect conversion; however, as he had to package a statement or insight into its time-appropriate space, but once figuring out that aspect of working in television, everything fell into place with few problems. Cilan is not simply respected by the people he works with in the production staff, but the trainers also give him a high rate of approval, as well. It comes from his ability to connect with them and describe to the audience what it takes to prepare for and ultimately win a tournament.

Cilan's position as a color commentator lends him the privilege to speak with trainers all the time on matters of training. Not every trainer is an open book on their craft, but most are willing to let their thoughts be known and heard through the lips of the silver-tongued connoisseur. That lends itself to a certain trust held by most trainers who know that while Cilan has a tendency to run his mouth prolifically, his commentary remains germane to training even though his conversations may not; another mark of high respect for the older teen.

Finished with his notes, he kicks back while in his chair and waits for another ten minutes before nine individuals join him in the conference room to talk about the in the preliminary production meeting. To both sides of Cilan are Freddy O'Martian to his left and Don George to his right. Also in the room, of note, are Driftveil City's Nurse Joy and various other tournament producers.

The only individual standing up in this room is the producer for Club Battle Tournaments in Unova, Mark Goss. He is in front of a whiteboard and holding a washable marker in his right hand. Looking at the time clock by the closed doorway combined with the lack of empty seats, he begins his brief statement, saying "I want to thank all of you for coming early this morning. Like I said in the memo on Friday, I want everyone to be relaxed and well rested, but I also want you to come ready with any and all ideas and come with the passion to sell them so that we can find a way to get them on air. Now, to get our dialogue rolling, I want you all to check this idea out for a future tournament concept from the executive producers."

From here, Mark flips the whiteboard over to reveal a bracket consisting of sixteen spots and a Pokémon type filling all spaces of the bracket with two filling one. There is a bit of commotion given some standard practices of past Club Battle tournaments, but Goss presses his hands down as if to settle his group for the time being. "Look, I want to forewarn everyone here that the execs are not holding a hard line with this idea. Their feeling is, though, that the abilities of trainers these days to suit attacks to various Pokémon can overcome most type advantages. Now they understand type advantages and disadvantages as well as any of you, so as you can see, those factors are taken into serious consideration. The first round matchups for this concept are Dragon versus Ground, Fire versus Electric, Water against Steel and Bug versus Normal. On the other side of the bracket is Ice against Poison, Flying versus Psychic, Grass versus Fighting and Rock against either Dark or Ghost. The idea behind it, if you can tell, is that we won't give any trainer's Pokémon a leg up on the competition. I can kind of tell by the looks on your faces that you want to say your peace on this idea. Just bear in mind, as we start, that this is an idea for a future project and not this present tournament. The first of you to raise your hand will have sixty seconds to explain your reasons for or against. Okay…now!"

Looking closely at the hands in the room, he believes he found the first person who raised their hand. "Nurse Joy. What are your thoughts on this?"

"On the surface, it seems so convoluted and arbitrary," she says right off the bat. "Mark, I know that whoever came up with these matchups wanted no types to rise above another, but the system seems like it's there merely for the purpose of being there. I'd vote an absolute 'no' and let the tried and true random draws prevail for any future projects such as these. That's all I have to say for now."

"Okay, are any of you willing to second Joy on her notion?" Mark checks for hands and sees Cilan raise his hand. He respects the opinion of all the people that make this project possible, but Cilan tends to bring a unique spin with his words and an eye for production in the mind of a young man ahead of his years. "Okay, Navarro. Sixty seconds."

'I'll never get used to being called by my last name.' Shaking his head and smirking a bit, he chimes in, "I second Nurse Joy's notion. I feel that the emphasis is not being evenly distributed amongst trainers and the types they will use. To lock trainers up in any way to one Pokémon type seems counterproductive to the goals of a varied population filled with numerous types. It would be akin to eating only one of the basic food groups for life; it won't serve the body well in the long run. Now, if the producers desire to carry this idea forward at all, just have type-specific tournaments to serve as the entry prerequisite into a mega tournament format based on types. I have a close friend of mine who won one for Dragon type trainers, but we don't have that kind of carry-over method here. What it appears we have is an admission from the sanctioning body that certain types are neutral, ultra effective, or not effective at all against other types and that training up a Pokémon won't cover the type-attack advantage. That's entirely the wrong message to send to aspiring trainers and not just because it's flat out wrong. I'd second Nurse Joy's concern and vote on retaining the random draw for future tournaments. I understand the sanctioning body's desire to maintain 'the show', but this is a matter that just needs to be ironed out as it's not ready for primetime."

"Okay, are any of you in favor of the type bracket as shown on the board?" Mark looks for anyone opposed to the arguments and can't find a raised hand in the bunch. "The question is on a motion to table the future 'type' bracket and remain with the present random draw. Those in favor of the motion, say 'Aye'."

All voices in the room say 'Aye', including that of the director. For purposes of procedure, Mark asks, "All opposed, say 'No'," to which no one replies. "The motion is agreed to and the bracket will go back to the executives with your revised notes."

Elbowing the connoisseur, Don George quietly commends Cilan for his argument. The teen replies back to him with the same tone, "Thank you. It's not a bad idea in principle; it just needs some seasoning to form a proper taste to the critical palates of our audience."

"Ahem," fills the room as Director Goss reminds everyone in general but Cilan in particular, "Again, I appreciate your enthusiasm with this, but now it's time to move forward. Anyone with additional ideas to improve the type bracket can meet with me after we adjourn. Now then on to the subject of conveying to the audience the gravity of this tournament; are there any ideas on how we do this? Okay, Scoop? You've got sixty seconds."

Freddy doesn't have much time but doesn't need much time to speak on this matter. "Well, we all know the sacrifice of these trainers and the work that will come once one of them goes to school. Everyone here has to win multiple tournaments in either the Battle Club or the Unova League Conferences to even enter this event. I feel that after countless years of traveling, training and capturing Pokémon, going on journeys, learning from mistakes and getting to this point, which is so different from all the others, it will all truly come to a head for someone this week. No hyperbole, conjecture or spin on our parts can make this seem bigger than it has any business being amongst trainers. It is not easy to become a gym leader. Most trainers need at least a decade of education, community service and planning outside of the efforts of training to even be considered for that role. When we interview these people, it will be important for us to stress the work that went into it and that a life's dream is about to come true. When we ask them 'What is so important about winning this prize above all others?' they'll tell us true, raw stories of growing and competing in the business, all the while, dreaming for a moment like this one. The way I see it, our jobs here won't be difficult, but will be rewarding, so I go the human route here while—"

"Wonderful words, O'Martian, but your time is up," says the director while he makes notes in his book for future reference. Lifting his head up after some quick note taking Mark asks, "Does anyone have other ideas? Don George, I saw your hand go up first. You've got sixty seconds to help us out."

"Let us not forget," he begins, speaking in his notably husky voice, "that along with the prestigious honor of taking part in a Gym Leader's school, which can lead to an infinite number of possibilities beyond leading a gym, the Battle Club's sponsorship including high access to all our facilities for a year will help advance any Pokémon trainer's aspirations going forward. My men and women at the Driftveil City Battle Club are preparing the post-tournament ceremony fit for someone with the credentials to take on all trainers and ability levels and this region along with all the others should expect nothing but the best of the upcoming generation of leaders. Convey to the audience at that moment that this trainer loves what he or she does and what it means to ascend to this level and my feeling is there is no way that this production staff can go wrong. Also let us acknowledge the unbreakable bonds between trainer and Pokémon which are chief among the reasons the trainers are even to this point where it all can come together in the right way. This all amounts to a team effort; that is something I feel the audience can surely support and I'll have full details of the celebration for you and the rest of the board to read in your respective offices by this afternoon."

"Excellent, Don George, and with scant seconds to spare, you got in everything you wanted," remarks Director Goss. "By the way, everyone, I know he said that he wouldn't get to this meeting in time, and that's obvious because he's not here, but Brother Luke assured me that though his flight from Virbank City got delayed, he'll get here by no later than seven o'clock this evening. He's so ready for this week that he's doing as much editing as he can while on the flight to compensate for lost time in the terminals."

Though none of them showed it on their face, knowing that Luke would be ready and in time for this tournament was the equivalent of gospel to their ears. The tournaments themselves provided great theater for even the causal viewers of Pokémon training, but Luke's editing and filmmaking expertise made him arguably the best man for this job, even though it is a part-time arrangement to supplement his income for future film projects. To put it simply, his input provides that extra pop to make an already great event excellent. "Well, that's another feather in our cap," Cilan remarks, knowing the magic his friend can create is never taken for granted in the production process. "Now, all we need is an individual worthy of the accolades and these next six days will surely be ones to remember."

"Well, it's no easy task to win four double battles in a row with the talent I saw in the lobby earlier," says Mark back to his top trainer analyst. "Guys, no matter how you slice it, this is exciting. This is what we all work towards in this business and it'll happen in a matter of a few days. Someone's life is truly about to change this week and we'll all have a hand in of being a part of that change."

"Such is the reason why we love training," Cilan remarks. Slyly, he adds, based on some inside information from earlier this morning, "I don't think I'm overreaching when I say this should be a fun week for everyone involved."

"So, now that you've let me know of this most-intriguing news, I have one other question I'd love to ask you before I register for the tournament," says Iris, now interested in playing the potential role of matchmaker. "What brought on these feelings for Cilan?"

The story behind it now becomes front and center discussion as Dawn adjusts her glasses a bit and gives off a slight but serene smile. She admits that "It was all so…unique and eye opening. Cilan got a special assignment about five months ago to report live on the Grand Festival in the Kanto region. It's not…he knows coordinating, but that isn't a major strength of his and getting insights on the different coordinators couldn't have been an easy feat either. Despite his handicap, he took time to see Ash again and knowing that I was there, Ash re-introduced us and…it began.

"Now…it's time for me to be honest with not just you but myself," she continues. "I doubt you can even call them by the name, but I've had relationships with other people. With my traveling schedule, though, nothing ever got beyond a one or two night stand. It sounds crazy, but…"

"That's the culture; sad but true," says Iris, not really wanting to get too embroiled in what should be Dawn explaining matters to her. "I can't judge, though. I've been there and got out before I did some real damage to myself and others. I'm sorry. Please continue."

"In any case, when we got reacquainted, he was so…unlike anyone else when he spent fifteen minutes with me alone after Ash left to get lunch. He remembered so much of me and my Pokémon, the nuances I used while in battle in Unova, my penchant for variety in training to stay ahead of my closest competition—it's as if neither of us spent any time apart! I could also tell that he saw a bit of change in me that…I didn't even see in myself.

"I felt quite…jarred when he said that I was blossoming into quite the lady, but later realized that the most important person who didn't see that was me. Time passed, yet I refused to drop my past because for a while. It was too convenient—too comforting—to not form bonds but still get a semblance of what you wanted because so many were willing to provide it. The others were strictly devil may care; we would be treasure one day and trash the next. I never got that from Cilan. He's a working man, but perhaps that's his greatest strength in that he works to see the best in all of us and never intends to tear down with his words. What put me over the edge is…during that weekend, he left me once the ceremonies were done and said, 'If you ever want to see me and just talk about anything under the sun, I'd love to have you. Come up and see me whenever I'm available.' It was as close to an invitation I've ever experienced."

Iris' interest in Dawn's realization that she's smitten with the connoisseur made a turn in these last few minutes. What began as a passing interest in a friends discovery now became a unique turn from being part of the crowd to taking initiative and ownership of oneself after getting caught up in the lifestyle that is 'the road'. It never surprises Iris why so many trainers can't cut it for long and she's glad her friend came to her senses to realize that there is a better way than constant one-nighters. "You know, that's great to hear. I do hope something good comes out of this. Am I…off base to ask that if the new look serves as a means of attracting Cilan?"

"Yes, it's all part of the plan."

"Okay, that's cool," Iris admits. "I suppose I have one more question. Cilan said that if you and he met again, he'd be delighted to have you. Now, I'm kind of playing devil's advocate here, but…Cilan is quite popular with the fairer sex. How do you know that it isn't just the fact that he's always super nice to everyone and that he's a people person within?"

"Easy answer. She has no clue!" speaks a foreign voice. It's one that Iris hasn't heard in quite some time, but as she walks up to the two girls, it's very apparent that some things just don't change; among them being the smile on this teen's face as she knows she got the goat of Dawn Berlitz, which didn't sit well in Iris' mind as she was just trying to temper her friend's expectations.

"Georgia!" Iris exclaims like the two never had an absence. "Don't you know how rude it is to eavesdrop on conversations? Sheesh. Four years don't appear to have done anything for your maturity. What a kid."

"Takes one to know one, delightful," she fires back sarcastically while Dawn watches with mouth wide open. "Besides, it's not only a free country but a public lobby so it's best that everyone just watch what they say. You never know who might hear it."

"Why don't you say that with less piss and vinegar in your mouth and see how it suits you before you bark up the wrong tree?" Iris asks her old rival. "Dawn's just following the call of her heart. Only a self-centered jerk would think otherwise and try to belittle her for it!"

"Why don't you come and say that to my face," asks Georgia challenging Iris, "or is that champion's crown of yours crowding your better vision?"

Seeing the tension between the trainers rise, Dawn does her best to get in between the feuding parties. "All right, girls," Dawn says, trying to prevent any blowups. "That's enough of—AHH!"

As Dawn would find out, in quick order, getting in between Iris and Georgia is not the greatest idea. Dawn found herself in the middle of an electric spark not knowing that her prized hair fell victim to the spark.

The action reminded her all too well of the days when Pachirisu would shock her, leaving her hair a frizzy state. Getting her bearings back in order, she gets on her feet only to see the old rivals with softened faces. In fact, she could make out their mouths quivering all while looking right at her.

"Are you two okay?"

"Well, I am," Georgia answers, her voice breaking in the middle.

"Me too," adds Iris, barely able to keep her emotion in, as well.

"I'm sorry for eavesdropping on your personal business, but…well…"

"It did get a little heated between us, but…"

"But…what?" Dawn can't quite put her finger on what caused their emotional shift from anger to apparent humor as both girls do their best to hold in giggles. Tired of having the veil held over her eyes, she asks the two hyenaesque trainers, "All right. What's so damn funny?"

"Well, Dawn, even you have to admit that was quite a shock getting in between our spark."

"And now, you'll get to see how much of a shock it is," Georgia adds while reaching into her knapsack. Finding the item she was looking for, she opens a compact mirror and gives it to Dawn imploring her to "Look."

Taking the mirror from Georgia, she gets a look at her now shorter hair standing up and jutting out like lightning bolts reaching up to the sky.

From that point, her eyebrows and eyelids attempt to reach in that same direction and Iris and Georgia keel over in full-blown laughter at Dawn's misfortune.

Closing the compact and tossing it in Georgia's general vicinity, Dawn puffs up her cheeks and leaves the lobby area saying, "I'll see you two little jokesters later," though the comment likely fell on death's ear based on the shared laughter of these reunited rivals.

A/N: In the next chapter, Iris and Georgia continue their conversation, the call to register goes out to all trainers, Luke makes it just in time to Driftveil City and the strategy games begin!

Until then, it's been Rave!