2 Chapter two: Rosalias, Love, and a hint of Capitalism

"…And if you declare bankruptcy by borrowing an inordinate amount of money from your own family and using it to buy property that your family owns… you can ensure that the net flow of cash does not exit your family's industry, capiche?"

"I-I understand!" my self-appointed student said. I had raised an eyebrow at her appearance, but apparently it was normal to have green hair and green eyes, while my boring black and brown eyes gave me the appearance of a background character.

My pencil flew across the paper, detailing everything that I had learned from the tax laws I was reading with my last three weeks of junior year.

Why was I talking at the same time? Well, some individual had generously agreed to pay for a comprehensive list of methods for tax avoidance. Tax evasion was a bit too hard to achieve, since you had to completely hide your income or just ignore the tax forms, but tax avoidance was perfectly legal, if not a bit scummy, and one hundred percent reliable.

"The bankruptcy is incredibly important." I said, circling it a little more on the paper. "With this, you can decrease the interest on your debts and also absolve any potential court cases your family's company has garnered. You guys run a bakery chain, correct?"

"The second largest south of Mauville!" she said, proclaiming proudly. "You might have heard of our berry flavored pokepuffs!"

"I... I'm more of a chips kinda guy." Also, bakery treats were way too expensive. But something about that phrasing was irritating! It almost reminded me of a certain fat bastard.

"You sure this is worth a thousand bucks? I mean, you could just do this research yourself."

"A-actually, I wanted you to help for another reason." She blushed. "I… I… I-"

"Yes?" I said, scribbling more in the margins in case they would complain about the lack of information.

"I like you!"

I ignored her for a while, my mind still filled with Alouicious's vicious taunts and how I would get revenge on him. Then, her statement caught up with me. I pressed down on my brittle occasionally freeze-dried pencil (courtesy of Snorunt) so hard it cracked into splinters.

"You what?" I said, getting out of my seat and treating her like she was some sort of Oddish covered in poison powder. "Why in the world would you even like a loose collection of character defects?"

"It's just that you're… uh…" she mumbled. "Pretty cool."

"Wait, who are you again?" I said, scratching my head. "I don't think I ever got your name."

"You don't know?" she almost screamed. "I left you notes! I sent you texts after I got your contact information from your friend!"

"Oh, so that's what those pink slips of papers were." I mumbled. "I thought they were used tardy passes people just kept leaving on my desk." Our tardy passes were indeed pink.

"Damn it…" she said, sighing. "This went a lot differently in my head."

"A lot of things go wrong, don't they?" I said. "Anyways, I don't really have time for a friendship right about now. I have a pokémon journey to go on and a sports credit to get."

"A friendship?" she said, looking at me strangely. "Are you serious?"

"What else could the statement 'I like you' possibly mean?" I said, looking at her uncomprehending gaze with another confused stare. "Obviously, it is for the invitation to become friends. Though we do not know each other very well, an introduction is the first step to a healthy friendship."

"Were you raised in a lab?"

"There is no lab in Petalburg." I said, smirking. "Winston Snowberry, aspiring economist. And you?"

"Holly Feuille."

Her Rosalia chose this opportunity to begin throwing white petals into the classroom. We both looked at the pokémon enthusiastically using Petal Dance. I sneezed.

"Okay, Rosie, I think that it's time to stop." Holly said, sighing. "I don't think this went to plan at all."

"What do you mean?" I said, arching an eyebrow and returning to my document. "I think what you wished to achieve went right as you wanted it to."

"What? I was planning for a storm of petals to flow through the room as you leaned forward, took my hands, and-"

"In what alternate universe would that be appropriate for a friendship declaration?" I said, raising an eyebrow. "You should be glad that I accepted your eccentric attempt at communication." Rubbing my chin, I sighed.

"I speak more and more like Alouicious every day."

"Who's Alouicious?" Holly said, sitting down and leaning forward. I noted with slight irritation that she was slightly taller than me.

"Oh, he's the guy that scared me into irrational choices during my pokémon journey." I said, gritting my teeth. "He called me a rising bollard… whatever that means… and decreased my self esteem enough so that I had to make a promise that I still haven't been able to keep to my pokémon. Damn rich bastard… Owning the third largest bakery chain south of Mauville…"

I dropped my pen and shoved my forehead into my palms.

"He's said that so many times it's literally carved into my brain!"

"Wait, his family owns Lignum Pastries?"

"Apparently…" I said, grumbling.

The conversation topic then derailed into the even greater collection of character defects that Alouicious was. The tax avoidance instructions lay on the table, forgotten for now.

I smiled. Finally, there was somebody that was willing to…



…understand the hate of the long, sticklike object that was Alouicious, which I possessed.

What else could one possibly interpret it as? If a person acts as an omniscient third person observer of my life, they could, obviously, only see the start of a platonic relationship.

I cast a glance from the side of my vision at Holly, who was looking out of the window, eyes glazed and drooling.

"Are we going to your family's bakery chain or what?" I said. Say what you will, but it was mashed potato week and any free food sounded amazing right about now.

"-human labowrs are munch too expensibe for long-term inbustrial upkeap!" I said unclearly, mouth stuffed with pastries and waving a half-eaten baguette in my hands. Holly giggled as I brandished the confectionary dramatically.

"Are you listening to me?" I said, swallowing. "If you could ens-capture a pokémon that has the capacity of understanding money, then you could replace cashiers! If you could just hire Machoke or Machop and train them to knead dough, you would only need actual human laborers for-"

"Conversing about how expensive labor is? It's odd how you are demonstrating a way for the death of the working class when you will be destined to slave away somewhere in the unskilled labor workforce as well."

"That tone…" Holly muttered angrily. "It sounds like that Alouicious guy you described."

"Is that the voice of my dear Holly?" Alouicious exclaimed. He and his Swampert looked shocked to see Holly standing slightly behind me.

"Wait, you know Holly?"

"Yes, I-"

"No, he does not." Holly said, glaring at Alouicious. "But now, I know how much of a disgusting creature you are from Winston!"

Alouicous clutched at his chest like he had been stabbed. His rotund cheeks quivered as he blubbered out a response. "B-but Holly? Do you not remember me shouting as you turned and ignored me so elegantly? Do you not remember the note about joining our economic powers that I left at your doorstep?"

"Back off, you creep." I said, looking at Alouicious oddly. "If she doesn't want to be associated with you, then she won't be."

"It's just like the novels described… "Holly whispered, looking at the side of my face. "Wow…"

"Heh. What can you do that I can't?"

"Not be an obnoxious prat?" I said, sneering.

"Expanding your vocabulary in order to match my statements, are you?" Alouicious laughed. "I'm glad to see that your primitive brain is evolving. Your pokémon hasn't, though, you failure of a trainer."

I sighed. "Well, you got me there."

"At least he didn't buy his way to victory, like you did! Better a loser than lose your integrity!" Holly said.

"And what of your Rosalia, dear? I stal-heard of your exploits in the first couple of gyms.

I shivered in disgust.

"Did you not purchase the Petal Dance technical machine in order to bolster your pokémon's strength?"

"Oh, no." Holly said ."It's all natural. Show 'em, Rosie! Petal dance, maximum power!"

"Rosalia!" the unassuming grass type chirped, before beginning to glow in green energy. The arcane mysteries of grass type power flowed through the air, crackling in the atmosphere and gathering towards the flower pokémon. Verdant lights gravitated from the trees towards a gathering green orb at Rosalia's leaflike appendages, before the sphere dissipated and swirled into Rosalia's body.

"What is this?" Alouicious said, taking a step back. "What sorcery is this? How is a mere Rosalia amassing such power?"

"EV training, you son of a-"

I coughed.

"Yes, yes. Sorry about that." Holly shot a disarming smile at me, before motioning at Rosalia to fire off her attack. "Now, Rosalia, unleash it!"

"ROSALIA."the floating Rosalia intoned, rotating slowly once in the air as our surroundings slowly got darker. I began to run away from the storm of petals that began to form from the ground, coming to life from the mystical-looking summoning circle that lay at the feet of the Rosalia.

"Swampert, use protect!"

Swampert's eyes shut for a moment, and the shimmering barrier was slowly weaved into existence.

"This is the difference between Technical machines and honest training, Alouicious!" Holly said, posing dramatically. A baseball cap I never knew she had was now on her head, and she held a hand in front of her face menacingly. "I'll tear your Swampert limb from li-"

I coughed nervously again. "Dismemberment is not usually recommended in unofficial matches."

"Understood!" Holly chirped cheerfully.

I ducked behind the withered-looking tree that the extremely powerful Rosalia had drained life from again, before cautiously peeking out to see the pink ribbons of petals flowing in the air gather once in the shape of a large, floating flower and spiraling outwards. I was too slow to avoid one razor-sharp petal, but surprisingly, the petal softened and landed on my face with a soft pat.

The Swampert, however, with double weaknesses to grass, was eviscerated. The Protect move obtained from a technical machine was too slow to be utilized, and though it may have been timely enough to defend against a move like Earthquake, Holly's Rosalia's Petal Dance was much too swift and powerful to be shielded against. Each petal whittled away at the ethereal shield like a knife would slice a block of cheese. Eventually, the Swampert was… turned into a pincushion.

The shadows cast over the sky faded. Rosalia returned to its former, unassuming plantlike self.

"Good job, Rosie!" Holly said cheerfully, as if she hadn't just summoned an eldritch abomination. The plant collapsed in exhaustion, slumping over and wilting. Slowly, life leaked out from the Rosalia and seeped back into the trees.

"What… was that?" I stuttered, looking at the trees growing to be green and healthy again.

"I just used Mega Drain on the trees." She said, shrugging. "Helps boost the power of plant-based moves. Besides, it takes a while to charge up, so I usually never get to use this amount of power on a Petal Dance."

"And you only have three badges?" I said, raising an eyebrow.

"Hey, the fire gym is tough!" she said indignantly. "And if you're looking to be a plant specialist like me, then it's basically impossible with that monster of a Torkoal."

"How bad can a Torkoal be?" I said, thinking about my family's Torkoal. Then, I thought about what I thought was an average Rosalia.

"Well, I know for sure that I never want to get on your bad side." I said, muttering.

"Don't worry about it. We're friends now! Besides, that guy really was a creep."

"Who knew that he was stalking you? Wow, that is a new definition of rich prick."

"If we're comparing riches…" Holly said, smirking. "Our bakery chain is one rank better than his, remember?"

"Who's number one in the region, then?" I said, curious.

"It's the league." She said, sighing now.

"The league?"


"So… these chips I always buy… they're also from the league?"

"All blue-roofed shops are owned by the league." Holly said, crossing her arms and nodding to herself.

"Well, makes sense. How else would they fund pokecenters, and… wait… Pokemarts are also owned by the league?"

Memories of identical shopkeepers flooded my mind. I dropped the bag of pastries, with one green muffin bouncing out onto the grass.

"What's wrong?" Holly asked, tilting her head.

"It's spreading." I said, muttering. "It's spreading!"

Opening my pokegear, I found the selfie that I took out with the cashier when I was a bit younger. Then, I ran into the blue-roofed shop, Holly following behind me.

"Oh, hey, Winston!" the shopkeeper said.

"Do you know who this is?" I said, showing a phone to the shopkeeper. "Jeff, you've worked here for as long as I've been to school. I don't want you to get replaced too."

"What do you mean… replaced?"

"This guy looks exactly like you!" I said, showing my selfie to Jeff. "I swear, there has to be some sort of template-"

"This is a uniform." Jeff deadpanned. "I swear, if this is some sort of Ditto conspiracy like the one you were talking about three years ago, then-"

A teenager wearing a pokémon logo hat and a red jacket walked out of the storage room. "Shelves are stocked, boss."

"Hey, Smith! How you doing?" Jeff said, waving. "Do you really think that a ditto could replace Smith, Winston?"

I, however, was looking at the socks.

"Do you remember what kind of sock Smith was wearing yesterday?"

"Uh… blue?"

"And the day before that?"


"And on the weekends?"

"…Maybe he only has blue socks."

"He's an edgy teenager! He has to have at least one pair of other-colored socks!"

Smith unplugged his headphones from his ears. His expression morphed to be slightly derpy, and we all took a step back.

"Wussup y'ell? Smthing the matter?"

"He… he's messing up slang… Oh no…" I said. "He's a Ditto!"

The face returned to normal. "Don't be ridiculous, how could me, an intelligent shop stocker, be something as simple as a Ditto?"

I slowly nodded. "I'm sorry, Smith."

"No problem, Winston."

"He… he… he remembered my name! They're evolving!" I muttered, hiding behind the counter.

"What the fuck?" Jeff muttered. "No teenager ever speaks like that."

I looked at Jeff strangely. "You know that Alouicious exists, right?"

"Any chance he's a Ditto too?" Holly said, looking slightly shell-shocked. "Cuz if he is, then I can beat him up without attempted homicide charges."

"No. Alouicious's vocabulary is much too advanced." I said, muttering. "But why did the Ditto attempt to stop the slang? Jeff, what does Smith usually say to you?"

"Well, it's usually the same… three… lines… Oh…." Jeff said, suddenly realizing. "I have to quit this job, pronto!" he yelled. "I'm outta here! Dittos replacing humans? What the fuck is this?"

"Now, now." Holly said, extending a placating hand. "How likely do you think that the league is actually doing this? They would have to have made a transforming pokémon, then trained it to act like humans, and then send it into the workforce and give it believable templates! Do you know how much that would cost?"

"No! Do not be blinded by the lies of the league, Jeff! The league's investment on saving with manual labor is-"

A pastry was stuffed into my mouth. I looked at Holly disbelievingly. "Y're with them?"

"No. Stop panicking over random conspiracy theories." Holly said, looking at me with a stern glare. "I know how hard it is to train competent employees. There's no way that a Ditto would be able to do it. The ones in the wild are simply too unintelligent…"

"That's why they're out in the wild." I muttered, slowly chewing on the pastry.

Slowly, the calming effect of the Persim berry baked into the pastry eased my anxieties.

"Yeah, I was probably being way too dramatic back there. It is pretty ridiculous, now that you pointed out the difficulty of training workers." I said, reaching for another pastry.

"It's almost as outlandish as those conspiracy theorists saying that people are trying to clone legendary pokémon, isn't it?"

"Yeah!" I said, laughing. "It's ridiculous to think that you could clone a god. You would have to put in as much energy as the amount that the Legendaries possess. It's pretty crazy."

"Do you do nothing but study? How do you know all this stuff?"

"Hey. Unlike you, I have to actually work to secure my future. And it's just the basic conservation of energy theory."

"That wasn't necessary at all. That was just rude." Holly muttered, looking down.

"Sorry about that." I muttered. "I usually talk like this to snotty rich people, but I guess you're pretty okay."

"I guess Alouicious isn't really setting a good name for us, isn't he? Come to think of it, isn't the son of one of the Fashion companies named Winston as well? He usually hangs around the outskirts and wastes full restores on Zigzagoons."

"I swear that's just a coincidence." I said. "Besides, he's a couple years younger than me. I don't think I've been out of town since I was twelve, so I wouldn't have run into him anyways."

As we passed by the Gym at the center of the town, I heard an explosion go off.

"Eh. Probably just a gym battle."

As a hot air balloon the shape of a Meowth's head billowed from the side of the gym and flew into the sky, we spotted two… dance troupe members taunting the people standing outside of the wrecked walls of the Petalburg gym.

Several children and the gym leader ran out of the hole in the wall, clearly after the hot air balloon.

"Probably not our problem." I said, shrugging.

Holly looked at her exhausted Rosalia and nodded. "I guess we can't do much about it. Besides, that's the gym leader, isn't it? They'll get … whoever they are."

I just nodded. "I guess this is where we split up. The mansions are that way, aren't they?"

"I don't live in a mansion!" Holly shouted, embarrassed. "We run a bakery chain! We're not that rich!"

"Oh? Then how many windows does your house have?"

"Uh…. I don't know?"

"Too many to count!" I proclaimed. "You do live in a mansion, don't you?"

She sighed. "Well… It's just a large house…"

We stood at the crossroads a little more.



"No, you fir-"

"I insist. You can sp-"

The silence was deafening, and we stood awkwardly for a few seconds. Slowly, I raised a hand and waved. She waved back.

"See you tomorrow… I guess."

"Wow, bro! You got so many pastries! How'd you get the money?"

"A classmate got them for me."

"Wow! They must have a huge allowance." Julia said, looking down at the treat with wonder in her eyes.

"No. They own the bakery."

"Is this the Alouicious guy you keep complaining about?" Julia asked, watching the Magikarp sizzling on Torkoal's back.

"Nah. Just some random classmate. Her name's Holly."

"Wait, her?" Julia's head turned so fast I swore that she broke a bone. "What does she look like? What is she like? What did you guys do together?"

"Well… I was giving her lessons on tax avoidance, she said that she liked me or something, and then I accepted her request for friendship."

"You idiot! Big bro, when a girl says 'I like you', it means something different!"

"Does it?" I said, eyebrows raised. "Well. She's a…bit weird. Usually, she's pretty calm and shy, but whenever she's in a pokémon battle… she goes a little over the top."

"Who'd she battle? What pokémon did she have? Wh-"

"Okay, okay. Stop with the questions." I said, lightly tapping Julia on the forehead. "Well…"

"Man, something smells good here!"

I stood up and saw a kind of scruffy kid standing in the clearing. Snorunt looked at him, confused. Behind the kid was a girl in a bandanna and another kid in glasses.

I jumped down from the trees, school uniform rustling as I did so.

"We were looking for a camping spot to get ready for our journey tomorrow, but this spot is pretty great!"

"Who are you?" I asked, looking the ten year old in the eyes.

"I'm Ash, from Pallettown!"

"Where?" I said, raising an eyebrow. "Doesn't sound like a Hoenn town. You from Kanto or something?"

"Yeah! How'd you know?"

"I dunno." I said, shrugging. "I just guessed."

"Anyways, what's your name? This is May, by the way." The girl in the bandanna waved. "And this is Max." The kid in glasses adjusted said glasses and pushed them further up his nose.

"Winston Snowberry. And this is my sister, Julia." I said, dully. "Why are you traveling in a different region? Don't beginners usually start around their home?"

"Hey, Ash is no beginner!" Max shouted. "He's competed in both Indigo and Silver! And he did pretty well too! Even if he lost to-"

"That's enough, Max." Ash said, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Oh, is that a Pikachu!" Julia said, running up to the pokémon, excited. "I've never seen one in person!"

Said Pikachu reached out and nuzzled Julia's hands. Static crackled and Julia giggled as a light shock met her hands. "It's an electric type, isn't it?"

"Yeah, it is!" Ash proclaimed proudly. "Pikachu has been with me since the beginning, too!"

"Pika pika!"

"Wow. Two conferences, huh?" I said, slightly enviously. "Impressive."

"Is that your pokémon?" Ash said, pointing to the Torkoal. "What is it?"

"That's a Torkoal. And it's my dad's. "I said."

"Wait… how did a Torkoal catch a Magikarp?" Max said, closing his eyes and pondering. "Despite Torkoal resembling many water pokémon, its fire typing doesn't allow it to swim very well."

"Oh, he didn't catch the Magikarp." I said. "Snorunt did."

"Snorunt? You mean the ice type Snorunt?" Max said, eyes glinting. "They're pretty rare! I heard they could only be found in Mossdeep! How do you have one?"

"Got it as my starter."

"Oh, you went on a journey too? How many badges do you have?"

I winced. "Well, along the way, I found out that battling wasn't really my sty-"

"Big bro tried to beat Roxanne for three months in a row, then came back and found an excuse to stop battling! Like… it's cruel to the pokémon or something." Julia said, huffing. "But pokémon like battling! You can't stop Snorunt and Torkoal occasionally duking it out, can you?"

"Can you stop airing out my dirty laundry? Why did I even tell you my tragic backstory?"

"Damn. Not even a single badge, huh?" Max said, shaking his head. "Wow, you must be pretty bad at battling."

"Snorunt!" my gremlin of a pokemon declared indignantly. "Snorunt Snor runt runt Snor!"

"You wanna battle, little guy? Me and Pikachu could go for some training before we go through the woods!" Ash said, grinning. Snorunt nodded, before looking at me expectantly.

I looked between Snorunt's pleading eyes and everybody else's expressions.

"Damn. I was going to go on another journey this summer anyways." I said. "Might as well get familiar with battling again."

Snorunt bounded over to me, before an aura of cold emanated from his furry coat. Despite having grown slightly, he was still no higher than my stomach. It was pretty big for a Snornut, considering most of them evolved within three to four years even in the wild, but Snorunt hadn't… exactly lived the most active lifestyle.

Still, looking at his agile movements as he warmed himself up (even as the arena cooled down… I hate myself for thinking that pun…), I believed that we could give this Kanto boy a run for his money.

"What's the win condition?" I said, a mask of calm that I hadn't donned in many years coming back onto my face.

"Win by surrender or knockout!" Ash said. "But we're not going down so easily."

"This guy doesn't even have a badge, Ash! You can take him easily!" Max said haughty.

"No way! Beat that Pikachu, Snorunt!" Julia shouted, stomping one of her feet dully on the soft grass.

As the two kids began a staring contest, May reluctantly stepped up to the center of the field.

"Match… B-begin!"

"Okay! Pikachu, use thunderbolt!"


"Snorunt. Mist." I said. "Then run around a bit."

A blanket of snow erupted around Snorunt, the dense fog saturated with ice type energy. I smiled at the sight. Snorunt hadn't been slacking off that much, after all!

Pikachu's thunderbolt then came. And boy, did it come. A massive arc of electricity zipped up from the Pikachu, temporarily illuminating the clearing that we were standing in. Formerly only illuminated by starlight and Torkoal's shell, it was now a veritable lightshow as white and golden sparks crackled, lacing towards Snorunt's dense mist.

The thunderbolt was so intense that it caused the mist to spread out, though Snorunt was still nowhere to be seen.

"Damn! We missed!" Ash shouted. "Pikachu, again! And watch out for Snorunt!"


"Snorunt. Charge up Powder Snow." I said calmly.

"A bit of snow won't stop us! Pikachu, use thunderbolt again! Get rid of the mist, then quick attack when you see Snorunt!"


"Charge up powder snow? How weak is that Snorunt?" Max said. "Powder snow is the most basic Ice type move that even mid-level pokémon should be able to perform instantly!"

"Fire it at the sound of Pikachu's voice!"

A gurgling sound emanated from within the snow, before a huge snowball was launched out of the mist. Pikachu fired his thunderbolt, but snow wasn't a great conductor in the first place. The lightning surrounded the snow, turning some to water, but leaving most of the ice intact.

"P-pika!" Pikachu said, eyes wide in disbelief as the clump of snow continued falling towards him.

"Dodge!" Ash yelled, but it was too late. Even with the speed of a quick-attack boosted dodge, the pokémon was still buried under the mass of snow.

"Pikachu!" Ash shouted, almost stepping onto the arena.

No response came from within the snow but the constant crackle of electricity.

"Snorunt, use Icy Wind. Solidify the snow into ice."

Snorunt's aura grew ice blue, before it jumped from the ground charred by Pikachu's thunderbolt and right next to the Snow.

"Pikachu! Use-" Ash began.

The howl of a snowstorm cut him off. The winds whipped around the makeshift battlefield, with the leaves on the trees frosted over. The power of a Snorunt that had been slowly strengthening its power for five years showed itself in this moment, with ferocious winds piling ice energy onto the ball of snow, freezing it solid.

As the winds receded, the ball of snow was completely covered with a smooth shell of ice.

"Do you surrender?" I said, looking at Ash calmly. He looked back at me, not exactly comprehending what had happened to his pokemon.

"Y-yeah." He said, slowly falling to the ground.

"Thanks." I said to a speechless field. "Now I'll just… uh…"

I looked at the boulder of ice and snow that Snorunt was standing next to. "Uh… Torkoal, could you get over here?"

Pikachu was defrosted by a couple of flamethrowers. The mouse pokemon stumbled out of the enclosure before fainting into the grass. As I hustled and bustled, directing Snorunt to freezing some of the small embers that had sprouted in the grass, I looked back at the clearing filled with shocked people.

"What?" I asked, tilting my head. "Is something the matter?"

"And you said you never got a single badge?" Ash said, eyes flaring with some anger. "If you told me the truth, I would've taken you more seriously! Pikachu wouldn't be.. be…"

"I do have zero badges, though." I said, putting my hands in my pockets and shrugging. "I think I have my trainer ID somewhere in my wallet… uh…"

I got out my handmade wallet and fumbled for the trainer ID that I used only for pokemart discounts. On it, a clear zero badges were printed on it, with none of the little cartoony depictions of types and badges on the blank section designed for it.

"I… I guess it's my own fault then." Ash said, calming down slightly. A slight moment passed before a smile reappeared on his face. "But, man, that was a battle! If only we were more prepared for it."

I looked at the disintegrated grass where Pikachu's thunderbolt had struck.

"Your Pikachu is… incredible."

Ash smiled back at me. "Yeah, he really is."

Looking at the ten year old and the other people in the trainer, I looked at the half-cooked Magikarp on the ground.

"Damn." I muttered. "Dinner's ruined."

"Sorry about that…" Ash muttered. "Well, I'll beat you the next time we meet! Just you wait!"

As platitudes were exchanged and our two groups left each other, with Pikachu slowly being nursed back to health with potions and berries, I looked at Ash's retreating figure and sighed.

"I don't think it's you that needs to worry about battling." I said, thinking back to the thunderbolt that struck with such force it even dissipated such a dense Mist saturated with ice type energy from Snorunt.

(Two weeks later)

"Well, summer is out now." I said, looking at the dirt path in front of us. "And summer homework is already done. I guess there's no delaying the journey, huh?"

Snorunt nodded.

"There's something I want to ask you, too." I said, looking Snorunt in the eye. "After finally doing some research about you, I noticed that… apparently you only eat snow and ice? Also, you… uh… can't survive outside of cold regions?"

Snorunt just sighed.

I got out a picture of a Snorunt in the wild. "I mean, you all mostly live in caves or regions with heavy snow, right? And.. oh."

The difference in coat size and actual size was striking. Snorunt was apparently much stronger than wild Snorunt simply because he ate actual food. However, his coat was visibly thinner, with a fluffy, lucious coat of hair on the wild Snorunt in the picture and a mere seven centimeters of fur growing on my Snorunt.

"Ah. Adaptation, huh?"

Snorunt grumbled. He coughed out some ice, before stepping on it furiously.

"I guess ice is pretty unappetizing, isn't it? Also, you're supposedly a good luck charm for households…"

I looked back at my slightly decaying home.

"I guess the pokedex lies sometimes, doesn't it?"

Snorunt just nodded.

"Well, you want to turn in early today?" I said, looking at the setting sun. "We'll have to leave early tomorrow."

My pokegear buzzed. Almost reflexively, I opened it up and saw… yet another string of texts from Holly.

"When are you leaving?"

"Did you see this message?"

"You've seen it, haven't you?"

"If you see it, please respond."

"Answer the text."

"That's… ominous." I said. Snorunt hummed in agreement. I quickly typed back 5AM before closing the pokegear, taking one look at the bags I've packed and the two spare bags that my mom packed with spares for every single thing I could possibly need… that cost less than twenty bucks.

"We have to get some wins out there, okay?" I said. "I don't care if we have to legally beat up children's pokemon to do it."

Snorunt looked at his meager food provisions and nodded grimly.

Now, winning battles was a matter of life or… starvation.

(?'s pov)

I had hoped that this day would come again. Ever since I was just born, I knew that this person would take us to greatness.

Something about him was different from the others. Older. More realistic, though not afraid to dream.

At least, at first…

Eventually, his noble concerns about becoming the strongest were polluted by mundane ones such as food, shelter, money, and, most of all…


After three months, battling against those cruel rock types, I still hadn't given up. My trainer, however, did. I could see it in their eyes after the second attempt, but I was determined to prove myself. That I was worthy. That I could shoulder the burden that had been given to me out of trust.

…I had failed.

But if it was time that was needed, then it was time that I got. Five years was what I received, and every night, when my trainer was sleeping, I would go out on the lawn and lift rocks. I would run laps, constantly using energy to cool myself so as not to let sweat mar my coat, lest my trainer notice.

My trainer had given up.

But I knew why his trainer did give up. It was my enthusiasm. I had sought the destiny that we both so desperately pursued, but he thought that I was being manipulated. That I had been caught in the trap he described as "battle fever". That I was being turned into a cog in a greater economic wheel.

…One learns a bit about economics when your trainer is one who aims to study such a field.

Thus, I ceased working in front of him, disguising my spars with the venerable old Torkoal as mere bickering. I knew that only like this could his wounds heal and his enthusiasm eventually return.

And it did. Though, for all the wrong reasons.

Still, I would be able to show him this time. That his dream, our dreams, weren't wrong.

I looked at his weary, grown up form on the bed, brows crinkled and worrying about the things to come. Then, I looked at myself.

Just as he had grown, I, too, must grow as well.

A pale, blue glow emanated throughout the room, reflecting off the surfaces of the scratched, glass cabinet windows and the plastic alarm clock. Temporarily, I outshone the stars outside. I hesitated, taking one last look at my glowing fur coat.

Evolution would cause discomfort, and what I had gotten used to all these years before would be for naught. It would be necessary, though, for our journey.

My coat disappeared, shrinking back into my body and disappearing into the void. My soft, dark skin shrank into that of a mere rock, and my eyes widened as my mouth stretched. I became circular and lost my calloused, round hands that were so worn from carrying rocks and running laps. Ice grew from my rocky shell, hidden within the blue glow, and painted my body with patches of white that eventually spread around me, enclosing myself forever in an orb of permafrost. Horns stretched from my skull and protruded outwards, breaking the frost layer.

I stared at my reflection in the window, levitating upwards to view my whole body.

I felt cold. Colder than ever before. I felt heavy and cumbersome and rigid…

But my stony heart burned with the desire to finally fulfill our destinies.

"Somebody's being overdramatic…" I mumbled in my sleep, rolling over in my covers and sneezing at the sudden cold.

Next chapter