Chapter 43: Final Montage
Rosa was visiting home for a couple of days. Her room was like always, as her parents had just made sure things were tidy. While Bard knew this place, it was new to the rest. They poked around and looked while the Dewott sat by her on the living room couch. Her mother was sitting in a chair nearby. "It is nice to have you back," she said with a smile. "It seems like it's been a long time."
She nodded. "Yeah, it does. But it's only been, what, four months? You did come and visit us in Castelia that once, but even then, so much happened."
"Right." She smiled. "Did you make that boy Nate your boyfriend?"
"No," she said, giggling. "You should know... I thought I told you that I was dating Curtis now."
"Oh right, that one you were phone pals with," she said. "I haven't met him, so I don't know what to think."
Rosa leaned on the arm of the chair. "He's actually Christoph, the music star!"
"Really?" she asked, her eyes widening. "That's quite a lucky draw."
Lucky... it made her realize something. "Yeah, but then, it's hardly the strangest or luckiest thing that happened to me. Meeting Nate was strange and lucky enough, since he came from another world. And now he's going to become League Champion. I know he will, as he was already thinking over what to do next and he's out working on that. Then I found out that I'm actually a legendary Pokemon, of my absolute favorite type, and I've got all these wonderful friends I made, human and Pokemon."
"Well I'm just glad that you still consider us family," her mother said with a smile.
"Of course I do," Rosa said with a grin. "You and Dad did more than I asked for, and I know that even if it's kinda hazy. Then I got to meet two of my heroes, Hilda and Wallace; Hilda's already claimed me as a friend and she pulled me along for that rescue mission without a second thought. And Wallace even gave me a Pokemon. I'm still working out how to raise Hikari, but I think it has something to do with making him look nicer instead of stronger. That just," she rubbed her head, "makes sense to me."
"I'd trust your instincts on that," she said. "But you're right; you have been really fortunate lately. You even acted in some short films, which I know are getting popular."
"That's what I was missing!" Rosa said, snapping her fingers. "I knew I forgot something."
Her mother chuckled. "I would say to thank the gods, but then, you're one of them."
"Maybe I should do it anyhow," she said, feeling happy. Someone had certainly blessed her. "Although, I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing now. I'd think about going back to the Pokestar studios, but Curtis doesn't have a high opinion of them."
"What about the gyms, huh?" Bard asked, putting his paws on her laps. "We can do it!"
Rosa looked at him. "Oh, the gyms, huh? Well Nate's going to be ahead of us no matter what."
"Why don't you aim to try beating him, whether he becomes champion or not?" her mother asked. "Though chasing after that win could take some time, you and your friends here might be able to pull it off."
"Yeah, they're good. Wouldn't that make him my rival?" She thought about it, then smiled. "Hah, but that would surprise him! I wonder how long I can keep it from him."
Nate came out of the office of Join Avenue and let out a deep breath. He'd just got done talking with Mr. Cartridge, the man who put him in charge of this place. After managing to fill every stall with busy little shops and services, he wanted to clarify just how much he really owned this place. He'd managed to consult a friendly business lawyer about it, but talking with his initial investor, so to speak, was still a little worrisome. He liked this place, and the workers and customers loved it, so he didn't want it to get taken away and changed.
Fortunately, the rich man had hardly noticed how he was doing. Cartridge gave him a revenue challenge to meet before he would turn over all the paperwork. And the tax duties; he had used it in an attempt to make Nate rethink trying to challenge him legally, perhaps. Still, given the Avenue's current revenue, the challenge seemed doable.
"Hey, Nate!" an unfamiliar voice called out. Even though he quickly found the person, he couldn't put a name to his face until he recognized Reshiram in human form coming with him.
"Hi Hilbert," Nate said, nodding. "Nice to see you up and around. Hello Reshiram."
"Hello," Reshiram said, nodding back.
"Well I'm not supposed to be exerting myself too much at the moment, but a friend asked to meet me here," Hilbert said. "This is a lively place." They talked for a while. Eventually, Hilbert asked, "So you've got everything cleared up with your memory?"
"More or less," Nate said with a shrug. "I don't really remember a lot until the point where I came to this world. But given what I remember and what Hilda's told me, I know enough that I don't wonder too much. Except one thing."
"What thing?" Hilbert asked.
"The video game that brought me here. I feel like someone gave it to me, and I'm pretty sure it was a woman. I didn't try starting it until Hilda showed up and her Gothitelle picked up an aberration in space around it. So when I started a new game on it, I got shifted here. It's just an odd thing that I can't explain, and I'm not sure I can get an explanation when I no longer have it."
He crossed his arms over his chest, looking thoughtful. "Huh, yeah, it'd be hard to find anything out about it. If anyone, Giratina might be able to help." Then he raised his eyebrows and looked over at Reshiram. "Unless you know something?"
"It may be more confusing to know than not," Reshiram said, then gave Nate a critical look. "Do you really what to know?"
"I mostly want to know why I ended up with it," Nate said. "It's good that it did, but kind of suspicious... especially when you're asking me if I want to know the truth."
His gaze held, then relented as he sighed. "There are some truths that must be hidden, and many that it's better to find for yourself. But to know that... we need to be careful, although I'm sure she knows that. Let's go talk to her."
"Talk to who, where?" Hilbert asked, to which Reshiram merely pointed over to the stall that was used as an extension for a used book store.
There was a familiar looking woman there, although like with Hilbert, Nate couldn't quite figure out who she was and how he knew her. She blended into the crowd really well, save for the fact that she had a shoulder-slung bookbag that seemed to hold only one immense book. Wait, a woman with an immense book? There was just one Pokemon with her this time, a Gallade. Or was that a Gardevoir with a severely stunted skirt?
The three of them walked over, but she was immersed in comparing books. "Excuse me, but you..." Nate said, trying to find the words to talk with her. "Sorry, I feel like I should know your name, but we met on the ferry a few months back?"
She grinned, trying to finish skimming the book she was considering. "I told you, call me Ysabell." She looked up and waved. "Hi Nate, hi Hilbert. Sorry Reshiram." The Gallade with her looked over them sharply, as if assessing how much of a threat or annoyance they'd be.
For a moment, the dragon was irked. He calmed himself quickly. "You were right, so I'll forgive you. Why are you still around?"
"Just a little bit!" she insisted, closing the book in hand. "Got to check in on a couple of things, tie up a few loose threads. Unless I forgot one somewhere. It's been a while in the works."
"Are you two friends?" Hilbert asked.
Ysabell giggled and Reshiram grumbled, putting his hand on his forehead. "Don't let her appearance fool you. She has great power and I knew the instant she arrived in Unova. Sure, she's helped on a few things, but she gives me a headache."
"Hey, you guys are the ones who do great things," she said. "I just watch and record. Sort of, you know. But I think it's fine for me to move on now. I hear Kalos is a fun place; I was checking into some travel guides and books of legends about a black flower."
"What do you mean by watch and record?" Nate asked. "I thought you were a fortune teller."
She nodded. "I am, and a bit more. But some things are better left unsaid, or else it's like a different fiber in the weave and you can't help but notice it every time you look at the fabric. Or the whole thing comes undone, and we don't want that to happen."
"Hey, that's..." he felt a little lightheaded. "That's like what you said before. You were the one gave me that strange game, weren't you?"
"Wasn't it fun?" she said with a smile.
"But why did it have the power to send me here? And for that matter, how come you can travel between worlds? Because otherwise it couldn't be you." He rubbed his head. "I think I know what you mean, Reshiram."
"That I'm a headache?" she asked, tilting her head. "I know. Well about that, I can't really tell you. At least not exactly." She paused, putting a hand on her large book. "Hey, so, sometimes when you're wr... fortune telling, you notice points where history could have gone another way. And sometimes, I get curious about it and check my book to see what happened on the missed path. Some of those alternate histories remain sturdy, like their own stories. But other times, the damage resulting from what went wrong is far too great. The world becomes unstable and weak."
"We knew that, since that's what happened to my original world," Nate said.
She smiled warmly at him. "Yeah. That's how I found you, looking into what could have been. It was an awful mess, hardly anything left to salvage aside from totally starting over again. But I saw potential in you and decided to tweak your fortunes. The game was a handy tool in that way. In a way, I'm mostly responsible for a lot of what's happened in recent years."
"Actually, Ghetsis was..." Hilbert paused, seeming like he was bothered by something. He looked at Reshiram, who nodded, then back to Ysabell. "How were you responsible?"
"Tweaking fates, for good and for ill," she said, tapping a foot on the floor. "But that's what I do. I do like happy endings, though, so there's that. And you know, back when I met with Nate, Rosa, and Hugh on the ferry, I was planning to let you challenge me to a fight if you figured that out and were mad at me."
"But if you did tweak fates, then you're responsible for fixing whatever you did wrong, right?" Nate asked. "Things got corrected. And if you're part of the reason that I can be here now, well, I can't really be mad at you."
"That's great!" she said cheerfully. "We can be friends."
"We could still have a battle if you want," Nate offered. "If that's actually your Gard..." the white and green Pokemon growled, briefly looking hateful, "Um, Gallade. I know you said the others were visiting you or something."
"She's just visiting me too," Ysabell said. Then she laughed. "But sorry, I'll have to decline. See, I'm actually really bad at Pokemon battles myself. Even though I could invite a number of powerful allies like Michael here, it'd still be in your favor and I'd rather not bother. Oh, and I should be taking care of a few other things before seeing about visiting Kalos. But thanks for talking to me. I'm glad to see that you've both come out better than you started. And spoil Reshiram for a bit, will you? He deserves it for putting up with me."
"I can try, but it could be hard getting him to accept it," Hilbert said. They said goodbye to her before she went to buy the travel guide. Once she and her Pokemon were out of sight, Hilbert asked, "Was that Gallade male or female? I had a hard time telling."
"Should be male, but if you had trouble figuring it out, who knows?" Nate said.
"Michael's both and not of this world," Reshiram said. "Not of your former one either. So I don't know his... her.. whatever, story."
"Is she really a fortune teller?" he asked. Because some of this didn't make sense for a person like that to be doing.
"You'll get worse headaches trying to figure her out any further than that. Besides, it seems she's finally leaving. Hopefully we won't have to worry about her any more. I wonder if I should warn some friends, though..."
"I guess the important thing is that it all turned out well," Nate said. "So then, how would you like to be spoiled, Reshiram? We have quite a few good stores here."
"That won't be necessary," Reshiram said, although it seemed like he was starting to blush.
Hilbert then snapped his fingers. "Oh wait, I remember! That groomer here had offered to schedule you for a session, since it's not that easy to just walk in with a large dragon."
"You really don't have to," he repeated, with very little reluctance.
"Well I'm going to pay for it anyhow," Hilbert said. "Come on, let's go talk with him."
Nate found himself smiling. Things had turned out well. And even if how it all came to be was still not clear, he felt grateful that it had happened. After all, how many people got a second chance at life as drastic as he had? From a sage who blindly helped a world to collapse, to a local hero who helped save another possibly from a similar fate... and there was still much that he could do. He'd enjoy it.
But first, seeing what would certainly be an amusing grooming session with Reshiram.
It was a beautiful summer day. The sun was bright and warm, with the plants and trees showing few signs of the artificial cold snap a few weeks back. Along the road out of Nuvema, a group walked away from the small town, a number of Pokemon along with their Trainers, Hilda and N. "They had non-Pokemon creatures there too, like bugs, fish, birds, and small animals," she said. "But it seemed like most of them ate vegetation, fruits, seeds, and nuts. A few exceptions, but all were of things that the Pokemon would produce, like honey. I met a family of Shuckles who fermented berries in their shells to make juice, wine, and vinegar. They were pretty cool once you got used to the scent."
"That's good," N said, visibly relieved. "I know that some Pokemon prey on others; it just makes me feel uneasy, even when I know they don't have the same views as humans."
"Well it was what your other self created," she said, but left off as she spotted someone standing in the tall grass. He should have been obvious, from the white hair to the black clothes, but then again he might not have been there a moment before. "Hey Kyurem! There you are; I've been looking all over for you. Sheesh, after we go to all that to rescue you and you just take off again."
He turned to face them. "Sorry," he said. "I knew what was likely; I just had to think about it. And I had to get used to thinking again." Kyurem rubbed his head, although his mask seemed more secure now. "I need to stop disrupting our balance, but sometimes I feel myself drifting back into my original state."
"You should still stick around us," Zekrom said. "There'll be so much activity that you wouldn't have a chance to feel nothing."
"Right," he said, taking a few steps to meet up with them. "Besides, I've settled my mind." He then went to N and put a hand on his shoulder, momentarily startling him. "I don't mind sharing her with you. Just be good to her."
After a moment trying to figure that out, N bowed his head. "Of course, uh, thank you, I guess."
"Wait, what do you mean?" Zekrom suddenly asked, sharply narrowing her eyes at her brother.
"I meant what I said," Kyurem said in a perfect tone of neutrality. It caused Hilda to double over in laughter.
"But what does that mean?" Zekrom said, at the brink of scolding him. "You're acting like you're up to no good again."
Kyurem shrugged. "Isn't that the role that was set for me by the humans?"
"I don't think it means that you... you..." She slapped her hand on her forehead. "Geez."
N took Hilda's arm, worried for a moment that she might trip or lose her breath or something. "Wh-what? Hang on, what's going on?"
"Yo-you b-both," Hilda said, but looking at N's quizzical eyes and Kyurem's prankster smile made her words get choked out by laughs.
"This could be a bad idea," Zekrom said, worried.
"What, that we'll all be friends?" Kyurem asked.
"Ugh, you'd better just be messing with me," she grumbled.
Hilda finally got a hold of herself, then pointed at Kyurem, "Man! Why'd you have to go make it so hard to top you now?"
"I thought you'd like it," he said, finally breaking out a smile.
"Um, could someone please explain what that was all about?" N asked, rubbing his head.
Colress closed the email, then sat back in his seat. "Another offer on designing an airship," he said in quiet weariness. "That's another thing Umber got right; even with what I helped do, others see enough value in what I know to keep me out of severe punishment. This doesn't feel right. I'd be relieved if the judge called me back and said that I do have to serve prison time."
Although he'd been fascinated in watching out the window of his seat, Triste came closer hearing this. The lights on his fingers shifted. From his research and experience, Colress could translate it as, "Don't take it out on yourself. We will do something great someday, more than enough to make up for it."
"I'm not sure if I can," he said. He wanted to; he knew he should. "My mind's been skewed for all this time. I've been reading over the battle and training journals of those two kids, reminding me of what I'd been forced to give up. I put the whole world in danger just to see if it would match scientific theory... I don't know where to start with trying to do something better."
"You've got your proof that loving care is a vital factor in training Pokemon," Triste signed. "You really should write that paper. And the one on language. We don't need this secret for our friendship to be special."
He smiled and took Triste's small foot. Since they used their hands to communicate, this was a a gesture more equal to a handshake among humans. "You're right, we don't. Giving the linguists one Pokemon language in hopes they can find a key to others, that would make a lot of people and Pokemon happy. I'm not sure it alone would be enough... but we'll try all we can."
Their conversation was disrupted by an announcement that the plane was going to land soon. Colress buckled himself in, with Triste managing his own belt with telekinesis. Trying to calm his nerves, Colress was quiet through the landing. He wanted this to turn out good. He hoped it would and knew there weren't many reasons for it to go wrong. Still, there was a nagging doubt that when all of the truth came out, he wouldn't be accepted. It was too late to avoid this, though.
After coming through the gate and into the airport lobby, he glanced around until he spotted the sign for the missing child support group. Triste came up and tapped his visor. Right, he had it over his eye so often that he neglected to notice it. Colress shifted the visor back as he headed over to the sign, to finally reunite with his parents.
There were tears with the hugs, yet he found himself thinking that he knew what he should do: find a way to make others feel as happy as he did at this moment.
With the help of River, Spectra, and even Lorax in a pinch, Curtis convinced his guardians that he would be fine for a walk in Pinwheel Forest on his own. The Pokemon could detect danger before he did, then help to hide or defend him. Although, he didn't expect anything bad to happen. Not even someone recognizing him as Christoph, since he was dressed like any other young Trainer out on the road.
Although if this call continued, others in the forest might suspect something. "If you are going to be my new agent, then you should know that I don't intend on sticking to one style of music as I have been," he said. "I don't want to end up in a shallow career again."
"I understand that," he said. "What kind of music are you thinking about branching out to?"
"Well I've been translating some ancient songs into modern notation. I'd like to add some of them to my repertoire. I'll do some pop too, since I still like it."
"I'll have to hear what you have in mind. Are you going to stick with the same persona?"
"I think not. If I could be myself..." There was a quick flash of gray in front of him, so he stopped and looked up in case it was some Pokemon running across his way. It was a Pokemon, but it came to a standstill just a few feet in front of him. And it wasn't just any old Pokemon. A grand figure, standing on four legs taller than him, with a pair of horns that made him think of swords even if they weren't that thin. Cobalion was there, staring at him harshly. "Uh, could we talk more about this at the meeting tomorrow? Something's come up."
At his side, River gripped her hands into fists, but was wary of starting a fight right off. His Spiritomb snickered, lifting her keystone out of his shirt pocket just in case. He wasn't sure how much the agent noticed, but the man replied, "All right, see you then."
"Right." He disconnected the call, not breaking eye contact with Cobalion. He heard footsteps approaching him from either side; they made sure that he heard them. "Hey, um... odd place to run into you. Two of you, anyhow."
"You're going to fold so easily?" Virizion said.
River snarled something, to which Cobalion replied with a snort. The Lucario made a huff and crossed her arms over her chest. But she still looked like she could go into a fight at a moment's notice. On Curtis' other side, Spectra placed her stone on the ground and hovered her spirits close to his legs.
"Not necessarily, but I know when I'm outmatched," Curtis said. "What do you want?"
"You're the one Keldeo's set on?" Cobalion said, a bit in disbelief.
"We were going to challenge you to see what you're made of," Terrakion said. "But you? We could knock you over with a poke."
"What kind of strength can you have?" Virizion asked.
"I know, I'm not strong like you all are," Curtis said. He had thought about what he'd say to these three; knowing that they disliked humans made this somewhat expected. But he had hoped that he'd be with Rosa when they'd run into each other. "We became close before she knew who she was, and my feelings don't change because she's Keldeo too. My main strength is my singing, not fighting. Not even fighting like a Trainer."
Things were silent a moment as the three looked to each other. Then Cobalion stamped a hoof down. "Then prove your strength."
"As you would for her," Virizion added.
"Otherwise, you're definitely not worthy," Terrakion said.
Then they might approve of him? "Well are you going to talk to Rosa? She would like to. But okay, I'll sing for you." Like how he'd sing for Rosa? It didn't take long to consider what song, so he composed himself before he began to sing.
Time passed, over a year. Past Victory Road, past the Elite challenges, up the grand staircase, they met on the battlefield of champions. As was their preference, all of their Pokemon were out with them.
Nate waited, not dressed any differently than he did any other day; others had noted that he was a humble Champion, quite different from such flashy personalities like Iris and Hilda. Ruby the Emboar stood at his right side, calm but watchful as she kept an eye on all. Patience the Glaceon sat by his left side, a play ball under her foot as if some game had been interrupted for this. Cathy the Liligant was still twirling around, probably not caring to stop until she was called into battle. In contrast, Rune the Sigilyph was perched quietly on an even quieter Signet the Golurk. The two almost seemed like a single ancient statue. Felix the Zoroark was not immediately in sight, hidden unless he was mimicking one of the others who hid.
Rosa stopped her approach, smiling at them. She was dressed more for the occasion, in a flattering pink and silver dress, pink ribbon slippers, pink and silver ribbons in her hair, and the tiny sword with her hairs as Keldeo. Perhaps she'd gotten the idea from Hilda to show up like this. As soon as she had stepped on the upper platform, Bard the Samurott appeared from his Pokeball; he had finally consented to evolve when they started spending more time around the ocean and rivers. The others had an easier time maneuvering on land. Or even simply swimming through the air, as Medusa the Jellicent and Chuchu the Lanturn did. Both of them were happy like the rest, the former being extra flouncy in her movements and the latter sparking in excitement. Grim the Swanna landed on a post, to watch for the time when he would be called for. Elda the Seismitoad hopped along, twitching her fingers and toes in eagerness to begin. Finally, Hikari the Milotic glistened beautifully as he slithered along close behind Rosa. He looked like he could take off for air-swimming as well, if he chose to.
"Hah, I've finally caught up to you!" Rosa said, holding a fist up in triumph. "Now we're going to take you all down!"
"Rosa, I've been waiting for you to show up," Nate said with a nod. "You've done well to get this far, but isn't it a little early to be celebrating?"
Dropping her smile, she put her hands on her hips. "Aw, I was hoping you'd be at least a little surprised to see me here."
He chuckled. "Did you really think you could advance without my notice? Or would you rather us start over, and I'll go..." he paused, then put on an exaggerated expression of shock, "Oh my gosh, Rosa? How in the world did you gt this far?! I thought I'd never see you here but as a spectator."
She laughed. "Aah, Naaaate! That sounds nothing like you! Fine, fine. But I tried. Anyhow, I'm here to challenge you for the championship! You ready?"
"I think that's my line," he said, going back to his usual self. "But very well. I hope you and your Pokemon are ready for the League's highest challenge. I know you've gotten here because of your passions and persistence. Let's see how you fare. Ready? Begin!"
Yes, the end of it! I hope you liked it.
There might be a hint as to the title of my next fic in there...