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Pokémon Trainer
There's No Better Team
Rating: T
Genres: Romance, Fluff, Friendship, Slice of Life, Humor, Adventure

The world of the performing art beckons Valen and Rosa, but the air's ripe with uncertainty. Does Hilda’s future lie with her trainer career instead of the BW Agency, or will she follow suit? Nevertheless, they’ll always be trainers and they’ve got Melanie and the squad behind them. Love’s also in the air for two pairs, but it’s complicated.

(Sequel to Identity)

I'm mainly trying to have fun, so please don't go super heavy on crit. I appreciate TR for helping me improve as a writer, but my mental state has to come first. The main thing I'd like crit on is whether this has strong standalone power. I want it to be readable for both new and returning readers. Typos and such are fine to point out too.
I will make note of referenced events in Identity within the A/N at the end of said chapters, amongst the questions and other bits of trivia.

This is set in the game universe, but it takes many cues from the anime and deviates a lot. It does borrow from the Adventures manga as well, but I've read only a little bit of the overall series.

There's no actual move limit, but I don't want to go too crazy.

Exact numerical values for aspect like Level, HP, and stats won't be brought up, but related terms like health will. I write battles in a freeform-like style to avoid them being too repetitive and predictable.

Due to the number of characters and Pokémon present, there won't be any nicknames.

Actual song lyrics won't be copied and pasted for musical references.

If you're interested in looking up artists that are referenced, use the lone name they're referred to as for a search. For these Pokémon world counterparts, I keep the name they're most known by/referred to as and change the rest. The changes can range from very similar names to completely different names. Occasionally, artists that aren't references will be mentioned.

EX: If I were to include a reference to Henri Matisse, the surname would be the same.

This will vary for other historical references towards figures , but there are more non references in that category. A/Ns at the end of chapters may/will contain art and history information.

Chapter 1: Born to Be a Winner.

Barberini Stadium, an artistic and architectural marvel that encompasses three city blocks amidst the congregation of its fellow historical buildings within Angel City. The well maintained battlefields, the opera house-like seating arrangement, the lavishly decorated interior, it's rare for someone to see it without being in awe. The sky piercing skyscrapers of downtown loom large in the distance, the city concocting a fusion of its past and present.

The finals of a local three versus three tournament is taking place within one of the stadium's ten large outdoor battlefields. The moaning wind's muffled by the rumble of the cheering crowd within the multi-floor seating area. The seating area itself is a mostly covered, but it's got large openings in the middle of each section. Opera's a fitting way to describe the volume of the roaring occurring within the battlefield.

A Salamence soars through the air, the sunlight illuminating the red on his crescent-like wings. He veers left and right to avoid a blizzard of dark brown stones from a Tyrantrum. A few of the stones manage to strike Salamence's legs, making him grunt. He keeps himself in-flight, his roar making the ground tremble.

On the left is the tri-colored dragon's trainer, Valen. His black hair is slightly slicked back, pointy ends rubbing against his forehead. There's a gleam of pride in his eyes, a testament to how he's been feeling as of late. His black Guzmani suit jacket have the BW Agency and Team Skull logos emblazoned on the upper sleeves and the back respectively.

Standing on the opposite end is Rexford Ryujin. Valen's gaze moves from Rexford's maroon beanie to his dark green jacket. Rexford thought that he had the upper hand against Golisopod, but Emergency Exit caused Salamence to come out. He still has Golisopod left, while Rexford's down to his last of his three. The guy's quite arrogant but he's packing a formidable tournament record.

"Your chances of winning are going to become extinct!" Rexford boasts, his tone gruff. "It's chomping time with Ice Fang!"

Tyrantrum charges in like a battering ram, his teeth covered with a frost white glow. Salamence flies higher, but Tyrantrum uses the tallest rock pillars as jumping pads. It seems like Tyrantrum will be landing a blow...or will it?

Valen fiddles with his hair's thin pointy ends, which lie above his forehead. Gotta wait for the right moment...wait for it...wait for it...time it right…


"Counter with Iron Tail."

Tyrantrum tries to sink his teeth into Salamence's right leg, but is left stunned when the Salamence evades with a mid-air back flip. Salamence soars higher, his tail glowing silver. He dives down like a space shuttle upon re-entry, performing a second mid-air backflip. His tail slams into Tyrantrum's back, the theropod bellowing upon impact.

"C'mon, you're an apex predator!" Rexford's feet are spread out as he tightens his fist. "Show them what you're made of!"

Tyrantrum lifts up his chin and unleashes a blaring battle roar. Salamence returns the favor with his own mighty roar, the two dragons glaring at each other.

"Slice em and dice em with Dragon Claw!"

Tyrantrum leaps up, his claws glowing dark brown. He repeatedly strikes Salamence everywhere that he can. This onslaught forces Salamence dragon to land, his eyes shut and his teeth clenched.

Tyrantrum's eyes glow blood red, his roar sounding like a blaring horn. He hurls himself towards Salamence, who appears destined to take another series of brutal blows. At the last second, Salamence narrowly avoids the vicious Outrage attack by taking flight and veering sideways. Tyrantrum can't stop in time, the theropod dragon slamming into a formation of rock pillars. Tyrantrum shakes off what just happened, stomping his feet as he awaits another command. Salamence sends a gale hurling at Tyrantrum, roaring that he's gotta do better than that.

"Cool their jets with Hydro Pump."

Salamence launches a torrential stream of water, but Tyrantrum hastily digs a giant gape and jumps into it. Dig won't do anything to Salamence, but it's a nice evasion tactic. That said, it's not gonna be enough. Salamence spits out another torrential stream of water into the gape, the field exploding into a synchronized formation of geysers. The attack blasts Tyrantrum out of the ground and high into the guy. The theropod dragon crash lands into another set of rock pillars, but he attempts to pick himself up.

Valen holds a red rose in front of his face. "It's time for la grande finale." He clenches the stem in-between his teeth, snapping his fingers. "Use Dragon Pulse."

A white sphere of energy forms within Salamence's mouth. Salamence launches the sphere, which morphs into a dragon-shaped beam. The beam evolves into an enormous white dragon with blue eyes, a lengthy tail, and talon-shaped spikes running parallel on both sides of the head.

A mighty gale moans alongside a thunderous boom, the dragon formation crashing into Tyrantrum. Tyrantrum is sent hurling behind Rexford, his rough landing shaking the ground.

"Aw man, I'm the one who went extinct!" Rexford bellows while recalling his Tyrantrum. "But Tyrantrum fought like a champ!"

The crowd's apparently filled with Loudred, because that's one heck of an uproar. He waves to then and gives a thumbs up to Rexford, who gives one back. He strides toward Salamence, who just launched a Flamethrower into the air.

"That's my boy." He pats the dragon's head. "Are you a good boy, though?"

Salamence closes his eyes and nudges Valen's chest, an indicator that he wants more head pats. The good boy gets enough pats to satisfy a dozen Lillipup, as evident by his big, doofy grin.

"Yep, you're a good boy."

Valen dreamt of owning a Salamence when he was younger, but he never expected this would happen. His Salamence's one of those big dog Pokémon who think they're little puppies.

The origin of Salamence's been difficult to pinpoint for his mom and other Pokélogists. In the absence of hard evidence, it's led to a believable theory about ambition—Bagon and Shelgon are among the most ambitious of unevolved Pokémon. The drive to reach greater heights is what the founder of what predated Angel City had. It's what the squad and him have, and many in this fired up crowd must have dreams of their own.

He's hopeful that witnessing him succeed can inspire them to seek out what they desire. When you're a known figure, you should utilize it for the greater good. Hilda's mom gave that life lesson at an acting course he took at age thirteen.

He tosses the rose towards Rosa and Hilda, neither of whom can sit still on the ornate seats behind him. The bud ends up making contact with Rosa's white and ice blue top, but Hilda grabs it before she can. Rosa's long bangs accidentally brush up against Hilda's face, which makes them giggle and titter respectively.

Rosa shoves her left elbow into Hilda's black waistcoat and white top, but Hilda returns the favor with the force of a silly Eevee. The duo proceed to leap out of their seats, giving Salamence a thumbs up while trotting towards his trainer.

"Good job!" Rosa and Hilda exchange a fist bump with Valen. "There's more awesomeness to come, so everyone better be on notice!" They press their backs together, their eyes glistening like their necklaces. "Another day, another fight, another chance to make things right!" Both of them raise a fist. "We will be heroes, we can make the world smile if we try!"

Classic balls of fluff, exuding vivaciousness and wholesomeness wherever they are.

A flick to the back of his head sends him back into focus. That matching blue jean jacket and capris is a great indicator—Melanie has more Valerie Versace clothes than anyone else he knows. Her long, wavy black hair goes down to her elbows, her curvy bangs caresses his shoulders.

Silver would've approached him too, but had to leave the stadium for an important matter. He watched the match on his phone, hence the congratulatory text he just sent.

Rosa steps out in front of him. "It's kind of incredible, isn't it?" She stares into the sky and clasps her hands behind her back. "Every trainer takes part in something that's been conducted for thousands of years."

"Well said." Valen paces forward until he's next to Rosa. "We get to stand where trainers like Champion Napoleon have stood."

Despite the current mood, there's something peculiar about how he's feeling. He's certainly glad about winning, but winning a tournament doesn't feel like much of an accomplishment anymore. His past accomplishments, such as winning the Calvanian Conference more than once, speak for themselves. His Pokémon and him enjoy batting, but they've got nothing more to prove.

He's a coordinator too, and Pokémon Contests are gaining more appeal to him now. They appeal to the passionate art lover in him. It's a fierce beast that's pounding to be released.

The glistening gold of the large trophy has all six of Valen's Pokémon staring in awe. They're so mesmerized that the hustle and bustle of the lobby and food court can't shake them out of it. What can is how proud they are of Valen. He had it rough not that long ago, but look at him now. He's giving out autographs and taking photos with numerous fan. He just threw a into a crowd of his female fans, a trainer with a Luxio catching it.

Salamence and Golisopod have called dibs on the cupcakes. Luxray wants credit too, but his teammates point out that he went down first. Except he took down that Kleavor and he went easy on that Armaldo.

Both Luxray and Golisopod spot a certain aquatic serpentine heading this way, choosing not to tell Salamence. Salamence catches them laughing and wants to know more, but a beautiful cry ignites a Flamethrower in him.

Upon further realization that Rosa's Milotic is right next to him, bright red takes over Salamence's face. He's trying to act cool…but…look at her…she's so elegant and gorgeous…and she's only got eyes for him. He's the luckiest dragon-he wasn't ready for a victory kiss!

Valen's Gengar waddles in their direction, the snickering Ghost-type having both random and sophisticated mischief in mind. He suddenly vanishes, then materializes on his back. One roll later, he stands up and closes his eyes. Behold his spooky and beautiful opera singing skills, humans and fellow Pokémon.

If his teammate's bizarro opera wasn't enough for Salamence, three of his four dragon bros have encircled him. Melanie's Dragonite attempts to push a frantic Salamence towards Milotic while Hydreigon and Garchomp block the two escape routes. Rosa's Aerodactyl, Hilda's Braviary, and Melanie's Swampert swoop in to provide backup for their respective teammates, but Swampert goes tumbling like a bowling pin. His folly in trying to be a Flying-type ensures a roasting session by the other Pokémon.

The eruption of banter does little to relax the nerves of Hilda's Umbreon—her head's tucked in-between her front legs. She wants to congratulate Valen's Luxray, but he's so handsome! He's so cool and majestic! Why else would her face make her look like she's a Flareon?! Uh oh, here come his trainer! Hide behind Rosa's Serperior!

Valen plops himself onto one of the fruitwood sofas. Salamence's now acting all cool in front of Milotic, hence her sparkling eyes and squealing. Reminds him of himself.

"Salamence, don't pass this up." he snickers. "You've got my approval for a date."

Now they're both blushing, mission accomplished. Another mission would be trying to figure out where Silver ran off to, but he'll turn up eventually. The hardest mission of them all is Hilda's Umbreon asking his Luxray out on a date. Luxray considers himself too proud and edgy to be called a kitten, but he's a softie for Umbreon.

"Luxray, you gonna pass up this chance?" he asks. "Come on man, she's really into you."

Luxray joins Umbreon in hiding behind Rosa's Serperior, much to the green serpentine's amusement. Both close their eyes, attempting a kiss. They jump back at the last second, Luxray darting behind the sofa his trainer's sitting in. Not before his trainer pets him, which makes him purr.

The others aren't around at the moment, he may as well check out the art for the umpteenth time. The sofas like they came out of a king's palace due to the opulent gold frames. The depictions of Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf on the red upholstery sofas entrance many who lay eyes upon them. Depictions of Mew, Celebi, and Jirachi decorate the white upholstery sofas.

Magnificent buon frescoes by the Calvanian Fresco School of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries cover the walls and the ceiling. The paintings are separated by long, protruding panels that are filled to the brim with ornamentation, much like the interior of Parfum Palace. Both his favorite frescoes and his favorite sculptures depict dragons. They're all great works of art that he could gawk at for hours, but he's loved dragons since he first watched The Dragon King at age four.

Nobody needs to know that he frequently ran around in a Salamence costume afterwards. That's why they started to call him cute, but did they do a proper analysis to determine the validity of their hypothesis? Did they get their findings peer reviewed by people who don't think that he's cute? Did they consult historical writings on how classy and cool he is? He thinks not, and yet Rosa and Hilda were pulling his cheeks after they saw the footage. Just remembering that moment is making him do an impromptu Charmeleon impression.

He snaps out of debating himself when his Typhlosion nuzzles her face into his midsection. He pets her, relieved that he didn't became dorky for the umpteenth time. Nobody saw that, right? Besides the terrifying Gardevoir that's taller than him? Oh nooooo, now she's caressing his left cheek. This is equivalent to Rosa bopping him with her feet in terms of scariness.

A nudge from Melanie's right elbow causes him to smirk. Guess his luck had to run out eventually. She's got a giant gift shop bag wrapped around her other arm. Must be filled with Lance and Clair merch, plus numerous posters.

Melanie's smile lights up her face. She rummages through the bag, accidentally confirming what Valen assumed when a Clair poster near falls out.

"I saw this poster of Leonardo da Vinti's sketch of a Poké Ball, so I got a copy for you too."

He peeks into the bag, narrowly avoiding her attempt to nudge him forward. Both copies of the famous drawing of an apricorn-shaped device carefully placed into frames.

"I should've said early concept of a Poké Ball." She flicks his left shoulder. "Bet you forgot when the modern-"

"1855, developed by Benjamin and Eleanor James."

"I'm going to make sure you don't get rusty." Melanie laughs. And do you read the draft I sent you?!" She interlocks her fingers under her twinkling eyes. "Did I knock it out of the part?! Did I depict Victorian Wyndon like a boss?!"

"You've got a knack for historical fiction."

Melanie squeezes her eyes shut, nearly breaking out in loud elation. "Keep telling me how awesome I am!" She fist bumps with him. "I'll return the favor!"

Trotting that's all too familiar to him is heading their way. The infinite amounts of energy they radiate indicates that they're right behind Melanie and him. They make him bend forward with them, his eyes leveled with the lower half of Rosa's black leggings. Melanie's watching all of this with an amused expression.

"Everybody wants to be a master, everybody wants to show their skills!" Ross and Hilda cheer, making Valen spin with them. "Everybody wants to get there faster, make their way to the top of the hill!"

He doesn't quite get why they do this, but that's not important. Their bubbly and sassy voices are mellisonant, their eyes gleaming with their unconditional affection for him. When the seed of true love blossoms into a flower, a truly beautiful image enters one's life.

Now they're proudly displaying their favorite necklaces for the fans to see. They wear those diamond-lace necklaces everywhere. One's got a emerald with a Serperior engraving, the other's got a ruby with an Emboar engraving. Melanie wears her necklace all the time too. She doesn't have a Samurott, but he didn't want to leave her out.

"Are you ready for the contest?" Hilda tilts her head leftwards. "Don't forget that I reserved a spot for you in advance." The tips of her left fingers are in front of her grin. "I planneeeed aheeeeeead!~"

Valen shrugs with an amused smile. Why would he forget about the first contest he's entered in over a year? He's been eager to return to the stage, but the lingering uncertainty has created a peculiar paradox. Testing the waters is a good start in making his decision.

"Heeeeey, snap out of it!" Hilda gently thwacks him with a rolled up poster, tittering at his perplexed expression. "You need to see how amazing the agency's Pokémon actors are for the umpteenth time!"

Melanie pushes his head towards Hilda's phone, ensuring that he sees the advertisement for a local performing arts theatre. A Tsareena and Inteleon are performing in a Shakespearean-like play. Well, aside from the massive sass of the Tsareena and the secret agent vibe of the Inteleon. He also doesn't remember Roland leaning up against a wall to look for Justine in the classic Shakespearean work.

Hilda can be headstrong about her occupation, but she can put her money where her mouth is. Her creative and management precocity became widely known when her musical idea became a smashing success.

"We want to visit where the contest will be held." Rosa smiles with her eyes closed. "We want you to come too." A faint giggle emits as she clasps her hands in front. "Pretty please, sweetie?"

"I'd like to change into my casual clothes first," he says. "Among other tasks I've gotta do." Phew, he didn't blush over ball of fluff's cuteness.

"That's fine, Val-Val."

Hilda kisses his right cheek and head towards a crowd of trainers who've already noticed her.

"Hmph, they should be gawking at me," Rosa jokes. "I'll be internationally known for being an awesome trainer and painter." She rests the tip of her left fingers on her forehead, her other hand on her hip. "And I wouldn't say no to a film or theatre gig."

"Eat your heart out, Rosa." Melanie runs her right hand through her black hair. "I'm going to kick your butt more times than you can count."

Hilda's handing out business cards, but she's not about to remain quiet. "Sillies, I'm the most awesome among us!" Her team want to help her out with the cards.

Valen and his team are having too much fun watching them debate over who's more awesome, but Salamence's looking around as if he's up to something. Rosa's Pokémon and Melanie's Pokémon seem to be roasting each other. Except for Hilda's Starmie—it's angrily poking all of them for some reason.

Silver's finally made his anticlimactic return. His Kommo-o and Aggron seem to be egging him on. What in the world was he up to? Why does he have a faint glimmer of nervousness on his face?

Heh, his phone's exploding with messages like it's evolving into an Electrode. Jacques couldn't make it due to the filming of his latest movie, but he was able to watch the finals on his phone. Rui, Skyla, and Jacques have congratulated him and here comes Team Skull.

There's Louis and Loïc, two cousins who usually disagree with each other on half the things they debate on. Most recently, they've been debating on who was more influential between Jorgel van Eyck and Giotto di Buonacorsus. Calem and Serena just popped up too, the latter just has to compliment his sense of style.

"Salamence, I can feel you breathing down my neck."

Since everybody else's preoccupied, Salamence decided to claim the pets for himself. With a big silly grin, Salamence plops his head onto Valen's lap for head pats. Ask and he shall receive.

Causal or former, Team Skull's Valen has gotta rock the logo. That's why his black jacket's got it on the back, plus why his gunmetal gray shirt has it on the front. The chatter amongst these people, plus the melodies of Starly and Pidgey perched atop trees with lush foliage, occupy the air around them. Standing proudly in front of him and the crazy wholesome minds is a low-slung, castle-like building, a sea of trainers flowing in and out of it. The rugged look makes it stick out like a sore thumb from its neighbors, but in a good way. It was designed and constructed decades prior to the rest of the district, and the architect wanted it to resemble Galarian Siscianesque architecture.

"Ferguson Competition Hall, eh? Great minds think alike."

A pair of giant cylindrical columns rest on all four corners of the structure, hexagonal columns decorating the front. Having seen the rear end of the arena before, he knows it's got the same finish. The main entrances and exits are giant gapes with arches on top. Coupled rectangular windows dot the exterior. The larger and smaller windows are in the bottom and top rows respectively.

"Wake up, sweetie!"

"Hehe, he always does this!"

Rosa's dazzling long hair dances as she twirls, her shoes rustling the lush grass to life. Hilda decided to leave her hair as is, much to Valen's relief. They're right about looking awesome, but he's seen them with their hair down countless times, so why does he get dorky upon said sight? Why is said dorkiness more inconsistent than Silver's crush denial? Can he make sense just once?

In typical Rosa and Hilda fashion, they whip out their phones and began taking pictures of themselves. Several photos while facing the camera, several more photo while looking back with a wink.

Oh, he better pick up the pace before the crazy wholesome minds leave him in the dust. Nevermind, they're now pulling him into the arena themselves. He can't escape their mighty grasps. He'll just look at the cream, almost gold-like, finish of the interior walls.

"It's time for the cutest and prettiest queens to kick some butt!" Rosa bends her elbows, tightening her fists. She makes punching motions. "Wham bam pow!"

Hilda spins to check out the crowd. "Hehe, it's so big!"

"That's what she said."

"Oops, Val-Val got me!"

Valen watches them dart off into the crowd, the latter handing out business cards. Heh, Skyla's texting him a bunch of smile emojis. She's now sending pictures of herself at the aerospace museum in Didacus City. Everybody's going to see these pictures, assuming they haven't already.

The interior of the lengthy building is mostly contemporary to when it was constructed. The main exception is due to the development of this neighborhood during the Victorian era, hence the mid to late nineteenth century furniture. Numerous plush armchairs from the turn of the century are scattered throughout the lobby. Made out of mahogany, each one is finished with plush leather, a glided bronze mount, and Luxray-like paws under each leg.

His head feels clear like the sky, contrasting how he felt not that long ago. He'll never forget the loyalty those around him showed when he was at his lowest point. Now, frisson and conation zoom within him like bullet trains.

They've made their way to the battlefield closest to the main stage. Each of the four battlefields have their own section, just like a traditional battle arena.

Valen relaxes on a walnut sofa, observing Rosa and Hilda's tag battle. A few trainers are seated in the bleachers, others choosing to stand. Several of these onlookers are discussing how surreal it is to see Hilda and Rosa, two big social media stars, out and about like this.

Melanie's nowhere to be seen, but he knows what's going on. For now, he's going to enjoy seeing Rosa and Hilda kicking butt with their Serperior and Braviary respectively. Good choices for going up against a Golem and a Toxicroak. More trainers have entered through the arched entrance, but it should be ten times more because it's Rosa and Hilda. He's their number one fanboy and it's a badge of honor. Yes, they won the battle! That's four in a row for each! Everybody better accept those business cards!

Before he can blurt anything out, he slaps his mouth shut. His face becomes as red as a Tamato berry. Melanie's sassy laughter indicates her presence, and now there's hands over his eyes. Her Scizor and male Pyroar are laughing, but he's gotta be all indifferent and cool.

"Hmph, I didn't know we were playing hide-and-seek."

"You were a pain to find when we played it as kids." Melanie presses her lips against the back of her head. "I'll let you off the hook this time."

Shrug it off, continue to act cool. Pretend that the trotting of wholesome doom isn't getting more apparent.

Rosa surprises him with a kiss on the lips. She wags a finger, her other hand on her hip. "We want the truth."

Her Hydreigon nods, recalling how similar his dragon bro is around Rosa's Milotic. The humans act in weird ways, but his trainer's got a point.

Wait, he can gawk at the classical-like sculptures that surround them. Steven Stone's the one who crafted that massive Metagross vs Salamence marble sculpture! Quickly, zone out! Zone out!

Annnnd that plan just flew out the window because they're all up in his face. At least Super Brooder came out of nowhere at the right time.

Silver plops himself onto the chair left of him. His Feraligatr's snickering over his attempt to hide his phone. He's fumbling with it, but he's trying to put on his tough guy act.

"What's up with you?" Melanie places her hands on her hips, her grin playful. "Lost one too many battles?"

"I kicked enough ass for now." he groans over his text messages. "I'm the strongest, why would I lose?"

He's right, he's the strongest at being a dunce. She enjoys seeing him try his hardest to act big and tough.

She'll give him fashion props, his navy blue and red jacket are cool. They go will with the black shirt that's barely visible. His jeans are sweet too. He stills need to wear that purple suit, they all know he's got it stashed somewhere.

"Valen, can you give two free copies of your books to Kris?" Silver crosses his arms, his hair pressed against the headrest. "In exchange for her to stop nagging me?"

"Heh, you're too scared?"

"Be quiet, I'm never scared."

Valen should know that Kris is just a friend-screw it. Even he can't hide his grin. She's a Snorlax-sized pain in his ass, but he wouldn't have it any other way. Not that he'll be admitting that anytime soon.

She's been jumping for joy over her apprenticeship...and they can be together in person...forever...as friends! Yep, fake Silver's got the crush here!

Silver breathes a sigh of relief, then he gives Valen several hard pats. "Having friends isn't so bad after all." He exchanges a fist bump with Melanie.

"You don't say?" Valen quips. "I figured that it'd take me a while to return to the pro circuit." He closes his eyes, a lopsided grin forming. "You were one of the major players in proving me wrong."

"Give yourself some credit too—you remember those words?"

"Of course I do." Valen crosses his arms, his gaze aimed towards the ceiling. "'Fate has a plan for the two of you, that's why this encounter happened.'"

"You were right on the money."

If somebody told early teen Silver that he'd have friends like this, he'd have shrugged it off. If they said that Kris and him would become close, he'd have sneered at them. He couldn't have imagined that he'd be surrounded by people like them.

A crowd spontaneously erupts with commotion. The name Ragnar Asgard Phoenix is being passed among the assembly of trainers. Ragnar's already spotted Silver, Melanie, and him. He usually stands out due to his trademark white suit, matching pants, and gray tie, but he's donning black sweatpants and a casual black shirt. The latter's got a cool image of Ho-oh on it.

All of his silk clothes, suit included, were tailored made by Wallace himself. Melanie's already well into sparkly eye mode over them.

"My old rival's here, eh?" Ragnar yanks a Poké Ball off of his belt, then holds it out in front of his chest. "Guess my plan's changed."

Valen raises a brow. "Is that so?' He slowly gets on his feet and folds his arms. "Are you challenging me to a battle?"

"We're long overdue for another match." Ragnar rubs the front ends of his silky black hair. "You up for it?"

Valen slams his right fist into his left hand. "I'm the big bad trainer who beats you down and beats you down without ever letting up!" He reaches into his jacket and pulls out a Poké Ball of his own.

Hilda's still interacting with potential clients, but she's hearing everything. Valen, one of her first clients to achieve fame. Ragnar, one of the Calvanian division's first clients. Not to mention the fact that Rosa and Melanie are clients too. It's a small world out there, but all awesome battles need a dose of Hilda Odelle White, so she waves at the crowd of her fans and future clientele and trots off.

…Battling's so much fun, isn't it? Perhaps that's why she questions whether she should leave the agency one day. Perhaps she should fully focus on battling again at some point, but not before testing the waters with a hugely ambitious project. It's a longshot, but she won't know until she tries.

The crowd has increased in size, a sea of chatter flowing within the assembly. A few more onlookers enter through the arched entrance, many are still surprised over his return.

Both Ragnar and him have fans in the crowd. Fans of Rosa, Hilda, and Melanie are present too, and those three are having a blast signing things and posing for photos. Even Silver the Punisher's got a few fans around him, despite cheering not being his thing. He rarely uses that moniker of his to begin with.

Rosa and Hilda are rallying his diehard fans, while Melanie tries to hide the fact that she was the head of his domestic fan club. She's not doing that great of a job, as evident by the laughter of her Scizor and Pyroar.

He's had many battles and contest performances here, a place that first opened its doors in 1810. Just look the remnants of old wear and tear on this field. Who were the first Pokémon to duke it out here two hundred and ten years ago? Who were the first Pokémon to put on a grand performance here?

"I'll use this Pokémon."

Ragnar tosses the ball into the air, a thud echoing as Blastoise lands on his feet. Blastoise bangs his chest as he lets out a battle cry. He quickly realizes who his trainer's opponent is, acknowledging Valen with a nod and vice versa.

Valen's eyes contain an inner glow, and confidence leaks out of his lopsided smirk. "The empress shall bring order to this chaotic world!"

Up in the air the ball goes, out comes a smirking giant. Gardevoir doesn't make a sound as she leaps out with her arms folded. She towers over Blastoise, her eyes emitting an ominous gaze. Everybody gets used to her "sinister" battle vibe eventually—it's not stopping her from giving Valen trainer a loving smile.

Gardevoir and Blastoise greet each other with a wave, the former waving at Ragnar too. He acknowledges her with a smile.

"Let's get this battle started." Ragnar announces, rubbing his hair with his eyes closed. "Blastoise, use Shell Smash!"

Blastoise's shell glows bright blue. The evanescent energy makes a loud cracking sound as it breaks into smaller particles.

Glowing blue icicles envelop Blastoise's fists. He dashes towards Gardevoir, who lowers herself to prepare for a jump. Blastoise's left hook misses, but his right hook clobbers Gardevoir's left side, the sharp icicles jabbing her. She slightly wails, nearly tripping.

"Use Aura Sphere."

A light green oval of energy forms in front of Gardevoir's mouth. She launches it towards Blastoise's face, his head forcefully turned upwards upon impact.

"Skull Bash!"

"Counter with Reflect."

Gardevoir's eyes glow light blue, a circular barrier materializing in front of her. Blastoise tucks his head in and launches himself towards Gardevoir. He tries his hardest to break through, which pushes Gardevoir backwards. Bang after bang, slam after slam, nothing is getting past the barrier. Even more problematic is that Blastoise's within close range for an attack.

"Magical Leaf."

Gardevoir's eyes glow green, a storm of crescent shaped leaves materializing due to her telekinetic powers. The leaves slice through the air and pelt Blastoise. A second set of leaves is now careening towards him.

"Gyro Ball!"

Blastoise tucks his head and limbs into his shell, his body glowing metallic blue. He rotates as fast as he can, repelling the leaves while veering towards Gardevoir. The attack flings her onto the ground so hard that the battlefield cracks. Gardevoir picks herself up, just as small metallic blue orbs of energy begin to gather gather within both of Blastoise's cannons. He shoots out two massive beams, which merge together and blast into Gardevoir. She's sending careening into the wall, but she leaps off the wall with her feet.

Another Flash Cannon is heading her way. Ahahahahahaha, as if Valen and her going to let that happen! She twirls like a ballerina and narrowly misses being struck again. Nope, she's not falling for another Gyro Ball either. Try harder, Blastoise!

Asgard raises a fist. "Clock them with a storm of Ice Punches!"

Icicles surround Blastoise's fists again, but Gardevoir taunts that Blastoise can't continue this for the duration of the battle. She slides around the field to avoid the punches, her galluptious movements resembling a figure skater. All that contest practice really paid off for her.

"Counter with Mega Kick!"

Gardevoir's feet are covered by a opaque white glow. Her gown flows like drapery as she leaps up and wallops Blastoise's fists into his legs. Blastoise slightly groans but is otherwise more surprised that affected. Two spheres of water appear in front of Blastoise's cannons. Blastoise aims the spheres at the ground and launches them. They disintegrate into waves that envelop all sides. converging onto Gardevoir like she's in a raging body of water.

It's time for her rapid fire combo with Teleport and Thunderbolt. She kneels, then she leaps above the waves. A purple glow envelops her and she launches a powerful lightning bolt from the top of her head. Blastoise gets a zap to the lower jaw, purple electricity surrounding his body.

She vanishes, then re-appears to launch another bolt. Again, Blastoise's body gets enveloped by electricity. Gardevoir repeats the process three more times, which causes Blastoise to topple forward.


Blastoise staggers onto his feet, while Gardevoir's telekinetic powers causes a ominous sensation within the air. Light blue enshrouds Gardevoir's eyes, her smirk evolving into a witch-like, lopsided grin. She unleashes a tsunami of energy, her flowing gown blown backwards by the groaning storm of wind that has spawned. Blastoise's firing metallic beams again but they're obliterated before they merge. The wave makes Blastoise bounce like a ping pong ball, eventually vanishing and leaving him lying on his shell.

Ragnar's left speeches for a brief moment. This Gardevoir's Psychic attack is still a terrifying move to be on the receiving end of. Even Blastoise seems surprised as he pulls himself together.

"Gardevoir, we need to veer on the side of caution." Valen folds his arms. "Use Recover."

Gardevoir lovingly stares at Valen and nods, her begins to glow bright purple. The shimmering of the evanescent light obscures her figure. She heavily breathes for a few moments, then she folds her arms. Her smirk emits a stronger cockier vibe that it did before—both Valen and Ragnar have rolled up their right sleeves to reveal their Mega Rings. It's time to take this battle to the next level, just like they did in the finals of the Calvanian Conference.

"The torrential power of Mega Evolution will guide us to our destiny!"

Ragnar slaps his palm onto his Mega Ring, a mighty aura enveloping his Blastoise. Once it evaporates, Blastoise's appearance has changed. It shows off the massive cannon on his back, which protrudes past his head. Two smaller cannons near his hands accompany it.

"The empress has issued her decree." His tone is low-pitched and his eyes are closed. He quickly and sharply re-opens his eyes, exclaiming, "Cower as she casts her wrath upon this battlefield!" He taps his Mega Ring. "Gardevoir, Mega Evolve!"

Gardevoir cackles like a witch, her body obstructed by a intense glistening aura. Her elegant and flowing gown becomes longer, the spikes on the sides of her head becoming larger and curvier, her arms look like she's donning long gloves, among other changes in her appearance.


A torrential downpour erupts from Mega Blastoise's cannons, the water encircling him on all sides. He briefly leaps as he rockets towards Mega Gardevoir.

"Fend Blastoise off with another Psychic."

The thick air returns alongside the light blue glow in Mega Gardevoir's eyes. Another tsunami of energy's unleashed, sending Blastoise crashing into the wall behind Ragnar.

"She managed to stop Blastoise in his tracks?!"

"Use Magical Leaf."

As Blastoise returns to standing in front of his trainer, a flurry of crescent shaped leaves materializes again. Gardevoir hurls them like daggers, but Mega Blastoise launches a cyclone of snowballs from his cannons. The snowballs overpowers the leaves and pelts Mega Gardevoir. She folds her arms and leans forward, her eyes shut. He'll need more than Blizzard, that's for sure.

"Use Hydro Pump!"

"Counter with Moonblast."

Mega Blastoise fires a gigantic torrent of water from the cannon on his back, smaller torrents being fired from the other two cannons.

Mega Gardevoir's eyes glow light pink, a burning moon-like orb forming in-between her hands. She swings her right hand back, then hurls the large glowing orb at her opponents like a pitcher. The ensuing collision causes a thick blanket of steam to envelop the battlefield.

"Another Liquidation!"

Mega Blastoise charges in, his body encircled by the thundering water again. He flings Mega Gardevoir behind her trainer, but a leap with her legs has her back in front of Valen in no time. Both Pokémon pant, commending the other for fighting well.

"You can't hide from destiny." Valen's gesturing at him to bring it on. "Blastoise, end this with Hydro Cannon!"

A gigantic torrent erupts from all three of Mega Blastoise's cannons, the ensuing combination resulting in a circular formation. Mega Gardevoir's eyes widen, her figure obstructed by the storm surge blasting into her. She goes flying behind Valen, moaning when her back slams into the ground.

She clenches her teeth with an almost menacing gaze. There's no way she's going down like this. She's an alpha, she carries that knowledge with pride. She'll follow in Salamence's footsteps. Right here, right now.

The thickness of the tense atmosphere weighs down on both trainers and their Pokémon, but Mega Gardevoir's cackling shatters the tension. She deeply inhales and exhales, mustering up the power to leap back onto her feet.

Ragnar steps bac with a wide-eyed stare. "Hydro Cannon didn't take her down?!"

"I guess fate had a different plan for you," Valen teases, his grin lopsided. "Combine Psychic with Thunderbolt to form Thunder Force."

The ominous sensation is the most intense one yet. Gardevoir eyes glow as she fires off a megatsunami of energy. She follows it up by firing a purple bolt into the center of the wave. The ensuing fusion gives her Psychic attack a lavender blue finish, electricity crackling on the outside and inside.

A gale shrieks as Mega Blastoise's slammed into the wall, multiple bolts converging onto him simultaneously. He's obstructed by the thickness of the electricity. After the fusion disperses, Blastoise topples face-first onto the ground, which cracks upon impact. Both Gardevoir and Blastoise morph back into their normal forms.

"That's my girl."

Gardevoir's angelic cry fills up the air around her. Those words from her trainer are a bigger victory than any battle can hope to be.

Ragnar sighs with a smile as he calls back his Blastoise. "Get a good rest."

He re-attaches the ball to his his belt, observing Gardevoir caressing Valen's left cheek. He approaches Valen and Gardevoir, exchanging a high five and a handshake with both.

Rosa and Hilda dart up to Valen, the duo embracing him and vice versa. It's nice to receive a pair of hugs after a battle well fought.

Here comes Melanie, who looks a little perplexed. Silver must also be wondering what happened—he didn't use Recover in his full battle against him a little while ago ago. Nor did he use it in battles prior to that one.

Rosa and Hilda nod in encouragement, their adoration for him beaming through their smiles. The three of them went to Kalos a week after the full battle and he used those moves over there.

"...Alright, I'll tell you." He deeply inhales and exhales. "That's one reason why I felt weak." He scratches the back of his head. "Some moves kinda slipped my mind because it got distracted by doubt and cynicism." He raises his right fist with his elbow bent. "But I'm back on track now."

Melanie's smile is all that he needs to see from her. Silver too, he can't hide it. He's still a little ashamed about that pessimistic mindset, but he's since learned why he shouldn't hide how he feels from those who care about him

Valen calls back his Gardevoir, but not before she gives him a peck on the top of his head. He waves to his fans, while Rosa and Hilda high fives each and every one of them.

An orange-haired woman's waving at him and the others while running towards them. Her blue jacket with a white outline and the pinkish top underneath earns her a thumbs up from Melanie.

"It's ya girl, Rui!" She sticks up both pairs of index and ring fingers. "I watched that badass battle like a sneaky Sneasel!"

Valen and Rui fist bump, but the former has something on his mind. "I don't wanna spoil the mood, but you've kinda been absent as of late."

"Sorry about that." She does a hard swallow, her mouth slightly twisting. "I was looking into these rumors about a trainer kicking butt with a Naganadel...you already know why."

"I've heard about this too," Hilda adds, her thumb and right index finger on her chin. "He's got one?"

"Yeah...he snagged it from Cipher." Rui slowly moves her hands behind her back. "How many trainers have a Naganadel?" She taps her right foot on the ground. "I'm a little bit worried that this won't go well."

No, this won't help her. She lifts her chin up, a gleam of determination in her eyes. Look at their encouraging smiles, she needs to get her own back onto her face. That's how she'll greet Wes the next time they meet. She can't wait for him to see how great these people are.

Today was an action-packed day, but now it's time to spend the evening with two of the many books within the personal library. The word many is probably an understatement when there's five bookshelves filled to the brim. Rosa's books are among them, but Hilda's decided to keep her Eevee Ranger comic collection in her gaming and action figure room.

The display case contains ceramics, figurines, and numerous trophies and medals that the trio have won over the years. Can't forgot the photos, lots and lots of happy memories captured in those photos. At the top of the self is a 1/4th scale version of Salamence Atop a Rock by Gianluigi Bernini, a sculptor so adept at bringing marble to life that he turned AZ into a sympathetic figure. This rendition of a Salamence shooting a Flamethrower into the sky was crafted by Valen's cousin, Jacques Beauchene-Bernini.

Numerous paintings prints greet everybody who enter the master bedroom, da Vinti's Mona Gardevoir among them. This famous portrait of da Vinti's Gardevoir depicted her with her arms folded, hence why his own Gardevoir does it.

In lieu of that da Vinti poster Melanie got him, he's chosen to read a monograph on Leonardo da Vinti. It's one of the classics among early to mid-twentieth century art literature. Next to his upper right leg is a selection from Leonardo's vast notebooks. He's also in the mood for the writings of Professor Charles Laventon, a man who credited both Leonardo and Professor Claus Golter as being his biggest influences.

Here comes Gardevoir, checking up on him on behalf of the whole team. She caresses his left check and gives him a peck to the top of his head. Gardevoir's an artist who uses her psychic powers to conjure up images. A show-stopper performance is bound to cause a galluptious atmosphere.

Gardevoir teleports herself out of the room, just as Rosa strolls in. She plops two items on the mahogany desk, then teases him with a coy smile and wink. Rosa jumps onto his lap, staring deep into his eyes. Words? Who needs words here?

The warm and gentle touch of her arms around his neck soothes him. He plays around with her long hair, his other hand on her back. He basks in the endothermic air around them, a tingle on his lips when she kisses him.

Time has come to a halt, his body feels like a feather. He truly is lucky, he'll permanently store that knowledge within his heart. Eternity is how long he wants to kiss her for, but she seems to have something to show him.

"Nooooow, follow the leader." She pulls him towards the desk. "I designed a poster for the BW Agency."

Does he have a choice? Her grip's too powerful due to dangerously high levels of cuteness. The obvious aside, Lisia and her Altaria are standing in between Hilda, Rosa, and their respective dragons. The quaint coastline of Lilycove City resides in the background. Above them is the BW Agency's logo, as well as a blurb about co-hosting and a partnership. Let's see what they've got in store for Calvana.

"I also finished my latest painting!" Rosa grabs the canvas that lies on the furthest end of the desk. "I call it Pokémon Cupcake Date!"

The verisimilitude of Rosa's work never fails to amaze him. A grinning Salamence and a smiling Milotic munch on cupcakes together within a large luxurious room. She used yellow ochre for the gleam in both Pokémon's eyes, the colors used for their bodies ranging from ultramarine blue to red ochre. A large dining table draped in cloth peeking in from the furthest distance, a similar cloth underneath the two Pokémon. That, plus, the antique furniture is concealed by dim lighting. However, enough is shown for him to deduce that she's loosely based this interior off of Aenos Palace, a crown jewel left behind by the Ancient Unovans.

She's utilized a dramatic presentation of light and shade, chiaroscuro, to turn the painting into a theatre play. In order to better achieve this, she used an red-orange background. A large chandelier is one of only two visible source, its placement directly above the Pokémon. A candle's the second source, the placement between the Pokémon giving the scene a romantic vibe.

Rosa's chiaroscuro bears a remarkable resemblance to the iconic style of Marcantonio Matteo da Caravaggio, the highly influential master of Ragulian Baroque painting. The rich dark browns used within the darkened aesthetic indicates a pinch of Rembrandt Aendriessen van Remis' painting style.

"Excellent work." He kisses her on the lips. "Odin Phoenix better watch out—this might be mistaken for an Old Masters work."

"Oh stop it." Rosa blushes and looks away, waving a hand in his face. "You're too much."

"I know, ball of fluff." He takes another look at her work. "I know."

Rosa was five when she was first mesmerized by the work of a High Renaissance legend, Raphael Sadoletto da Urbina. The location was the Aspertia Gallery, the work was Galatea's Battling. This depiction of history's first known female champion entranced her to the point of her pretending to be Galatea via her Pokémon plushies of Golurk and Absol. She's thought about using one of her middle names, Rafaela, as a painter pseudonym.

Her calling as a painter began to reveal itself shortly after her sixth birthday. It was at the Metropolitan Gallery of Art in Castelia City where her blue eyes gazed upon Caravaggio for the first time. Later on, Caravaggio's work joined her scriptwriter father to spark an interest in film and theatre.

Art also brought a certain someone into her life, and he's standing right next to her. Tee-hee, if only he'd play Raphael in a movie where she'd play the painter's most adoring fan, Princess Lucreiza de' Ragonesi!

"Daydreaming about being the world's hottest trainer and painter?"

"Oh come on!" Rosa's face reddens again. "You don't have to make be blush every single time!" She nearly tears up while clutching her ribs. "Lovable idiot!"

Their laughter fills up the master bedroom and flows into the hallway. His Gardevoir and her Serperior briefly peek into the room, their faces glowing with adoration.

Both Valen and Rosa unknowingly ponder the same thing. Maybe it's time to shift gears to a certain extent, not that they've ever neglected art. Why would they deny their passion? Why would they ignore what glued them together?

Hilda trots into the master bedroom with a silly grin. Even when she's not in her office, she makes sure everything's in odder at the agency.

"Good job on getting another big name client, I'm proud of both of you."

Hilda tilts her head leftwards, the tips of her right fingers above her mouth. Rosa's hands are clasped next to her right cheek, her left foot slightly above the floor. Whenever he's proud of them, it goes into their hearts and remains there.

"Hilda's daydreaming about her already achieved roles of world's hottest talent agent, and manager. A double cheek bop from her isn't enough to stop him. "And trainer." A forehead bop isn't enough either. "Can't handle the truth?"

"Hehe, you just want to look cool in front of us."

Rosa narrows her eyes, pointing her right index finger sideways with her thumb sticking out. Is he going to act all cute and dorky? Is he going to bombard them with compliments? Get their latest trainer trading cards?

"Heeeey, maybe he's been a bad boy." Hilda grips the color of his gunmetal black shirt, her sultry gaze locking onto him. "Let's see if he can handle me tonight."

Valen faintly yelps, diverting his attention to Hilda's denim shorts and Rosa's black leggings. Except that's bad idea when taking the exit for Dorky Avenue. They look so good in their favorite outfits! Not to mention they're easy in the eyes! Why'd she have to go there while giving him that adorable face?! Why is Hilda making the same face? They're also beautiful like a Bernini sculpture! He could go on and on, why must they tease him so?!

He spontaneously calms down, blinking rapidly. He sighs, his arms dangling by his sides. "...I'll never live these moments down." He lowers his head, his right palm plastered onto his face. "I'm such a dork."

"Heeeeey, don't be like that! You're our favorite dork!"

"Alas, thy queen knew thou well!" Rosa trots out of the room, blowing a kiss at Valen. "I'll test you after Hilda!"

Luxray's shrieking and Umbreon's stammering are good indicator of what's going on within the second floor. Rosa's giggling is now coming from the same direction. Hilda and him can even hear her making kissing noises, which makes them silently crack up.

A warm tingle jolts Valen when Hilda's lips meets his lips, her arms encircling his neck. He places his hands on her upper back and tilts her back. The endothermic atmosphere gives an encore, the sensation of time stopping following in its footsteps. Weightlessness makes it a trio.

Hilda and him lock gazes, words aren't needed between them either. Well, except for a few.

"Is that it, Val-Val?"

"Don't test me."

As they resume pressing their lips together, Valen muses how he managed to pushed past his fear. The only way to ease his fears was to move forward, and it was more than worth it. The sun shining on his future will never set. Bet the shadows didn't count on his return. It thought it had it all under control, but he's taken back what it stole.

Give it up cuz now he's back.

For returning readers, what are your thoughts on how it's progressed? Who was your favorite character in Identity?

For new readers, what are your first impressions? Out of everyone who debuted in the first chapter, who's your favorite?

For both, what did you think of the battle? Did you like the bits of historical lore? Are you Team Salamence/Milotic or Team Luxray/Umbreon?

Le Moissonneur Noir=The Black Reaper
Le roi et chevalier est content=the king and knight is pleased
Ma belle reines=my beautiful queens

Legends gave Gardevoir access to Aura Sphere and Recover.

Valen and Silver's full battle took place in Chapters 40 and 41 of Identity.

Books referenced in this chapter:

Leonardo da Vinci by Kenneth Clark
The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (Oxford World Classics)
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Multiversal Extraordinaire
Stranded In The Gaps between Multiverses
  1. froslass
  2. zorua-gojira
  3. salandit-shiny
  4. goomy
Hi there! Hope you're having a great day! I'm here for catnip and here's your review!

Have to get this out of my way first, I haven't read the prequel and I was a little worried that reading this without reading the other would make the experience a little less enjoyable.

But I'll have to say that I think this is a great standalone fic. Sure reading the prequel might've enhanced the experience a bit but this is still pretty good regardless.

The characters were fun and their interactions were cute. The Pokémon were adorable, I especially like the interactions between Valen's Salamence and Hilda's Milotic. The battles were pretty good, the one between Valen and Asgard was my favourite, it felt like it had slightly higher stakes than the first one since it seems like these two know each other whereas the first one is just 'Protag vs Stranger'.

And here's some line-by-line thoughts:

On the left is the tri-colored dragon's trainer
Took me a while to realise that you were talking about Salamence. It's not a problem, I'm just not used to seeing a Salamence described like this (Then again, I've rarely seen many Salamences in anything I've read so maybe this description's normal)
Why didn't this guy use that rare form he's got? It's even an alpha
An alpha Tyrantrum? What rare form can a Tyrantrum have?
Rex thought that he had the upper had against Golisopod
Missed a typo with 'had', I think it's supposed to be 'hand'.
"Your chances of winning are going to become extinct!"
Like the dinosaur you're using, Rex?
"C'mon, you're an apex predator!" Rex's feet are spread out as he tightens his fist.
A Salamence is also an apex predator, Rex.

So it's not like Tyrantrum is super special here. (Though Tyrantrums are cool as hell)
The beam evolves into an enormous white dragon with blue eyes, a lengthy tail, and talon-shaped spikes running parallel on both sides of the head.
Yu-Gi-Oh reference? Blue-eyed White Dragon?
Salamence's spontaneously shrieking is a clear sign that Rosa's Milotic is giving him a victory kiss. Valen's Gengar snickers that the strongest member of the team is also the dorkiest. The team's seen Salamence snuggle with Milotic on several occasions
Aw, that's cute.
Both Luxray and Umbreon hide behind Rosa's Serperior, much to the green serpentine's amusement. Both close their eyes, attempting a kiss. They jump back at the last second, Luxray darting behind the sofa his trainer's sitting in. Not before his trainer pets him, which makes him purr.
Adorable little kitties.
The subjects include romance, Pokémon battles, vast landscapes, legendaries, and Bidoof.
Bidoof, our Lord and savior.
visit where it's to be held.
I think you're missing a word here? 'where it's going to be held' maybe? (I mean, it could also just be the character's dialect so maybe not?)
"Sillies, I'm the most awesome among us!"
Amogus sus.
you remember those words?"
Those words? Ah, those words... those... words... What are they exactly?

So yeah, this was a well written story. A cute amount of fluff and an appropriate amount of tension for battles.

Take care and hope you have a lovely time!


Pokémon Trainer
Thanks for your review! It seems that there's a couple spots where I have to clarify a bit better. EX: the one about the rare form and alpha refers to a yet unseen Pokemon. And yes, Salamence summons the Blue-Eyes White Dragon :D But I dunno how others describe Salamence, tbh.

Valen's SalamencexRosa's Milotic and Hilda's UmbreonxValen's Luxray are the ships going on between their Pokemon :P
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 2: No Lonely Roads

"This is a reminder if you don't know me—I'm a wild card who's won her region's league!"

There aren't many people who can match Rui's spunk. She's the life of party within this open battle area. If there isn't a party, she'll just have to bring one.

The setup of the fields resemble four basketball courts side by side, the short staircases on both sides leading up to the boardwalk. Vendors on the boardwalk announce their goods, which range from hats to candy. One of the vendors gets spooked by a mischievous duo of Haunter, a third Haunter spooking a group of rough-looking guys with mohawks. Closer to where she is, cars whiz by in the intersection. Denser foot traffic with pockets of chatter swarm the sidewalks and crosswalks.

Even the streetlights of Yellow Street and 17th Avenue know how awesome she is, why else would they illuminate her? Pokémon duking it out right next to the tranquility of the sea, with the megacity's looming skyline looking like a squad of mighty Steelix! It sounds like some sort of movie set, how cool is that?!

Her opponents better not think she's all talk—she can more than hold her own in battle. Just ask those who saw her win the Orre Conference. Ask her Midnight Lycanroc, who just slammed a Parasect into the ground with both of his hands.

"Hit em in the back with a Rock Blast attack!"

Lycanroc howls, a massive brown boulder with a white glow appearing in front of him. He hurls it at the staggering Parasect, the Grass and Bug-type struck in its large mushroom.

"If at first you don't succeed, have your Lycanroc use Hyper Beam!"

Lycanroc howls, firing a massive orange beam from his mouth. The attack explodes with intensity, flinging Parasect behind its male trainer. It skips on the ground like a rock over a puddle.

"Another win for me!" Rui sticks up both of her index and ring fingers. "Ya girl's winning like she's supposed to be, ooooooh!"

The crowd's in a fervor, and rightfully so. Who is she? Where'd she come from? Why's she so awesome? That's what they're asking, but they ain't getting answers outta her. Hahahahaha!

She's had quite a few battles one day, so she can afford to call it an evening. She loves boardwalks because they offer such a nice view of the sea. Fond memories of hanging out by the sea are as plentiful as fish Pokémon in it, including several with a certain somebody. He's definitely here in Angel City—who else could local trainers be talking about when they're referring to a guy with a Naganadel?

While she was engaging in this skirmish, a large crowd beginning to gather around another pair of trainers. She makes her way to the field on the other end of the rectangular, park-like area but something feels oddly weird about this. It's enough to make her feel a bit uneasy. The imposing aura of a powerful Pokémon is heightening her senses, and it's one that she'd recognize a mile away.

There's no way it's them...right?

Rui stops in her tracks, her demeanor flipping the switch. Her wide-eyed stare's unable to focus on anything else but the purple insectoid dragon and its trainer in the blue trench coat. That's why the aura was so familiar to her.



What are the chances? Should she watch the battle? Should she leave? What if Wes doesn't want to see her?

"Use Dragon Pulse."

Hearing Wes commanding an attack snaps her out of her confusion. Appearing before everyone is a purplish-black, serpentine-like dragon formation with small wings extending from the middle of its body. It screeches like the wind it just stirred up and Naganadel fires it off like a cannon launching a projectile. It blasts the opposing Glalie, making it pelt the reinforced asphalt.

Rui gulps, her legs shaking as she walks towards Wes. The crowd's jumble of murmuring and loud chatter has Wes distracted, while her thoughts continue to vacillate between approaching him and being discreet.

Her determination overcomes her uncertainty and surges within her. She strides towards Wes, her steps growing wider each time. That's the Rui people know and love.

"Hey there, Wes."


Wes' posture rockets into a stiffer, upright stance. His mouth hangs open, his right hand raised to reassure his concerned Naganadel.

He takes a hard deep breath. He calls back Naganadel, placing the ball inside of his trench coat. He turns his body towards her, standing completely still for a few moments. He approaches her, his walk logy as he weaves through the crowd.

"Sorry...um...I didn't expect to see you here." Rui bows her head, tugging her arms. "But since I ran into you…um...maybe...we could talk?" As her gaze wanders, her face carries a faint shade of pink. "…If…you're okay with it."

Wes cocks a brow. "You want to talk to me?" He scratches his short, shaggy platinum blond hair. "Is that a wise idea?"

Her nerves start to ease up on the tension. "Yes and yes." She sweetly smiles, closing her eyes. "Please?"

Tension begins to weigh down on Wes like a Golem. Should he stay, or should he walk away? He deeply regrets what happened between them after the third incident. He doesn't want to make it worse.

"...Wes?" Rui bites her lower up. "Sorry for making you feel uncomfortable." She rubs her orange ponytails, her gaze darting toward her feet. "...I...I just want to help."

Wes doesn't respond, but he shouldn't pass this up. Another logy walk up the stairs, now he's staring out into the vast ocean. He takes several heavy deep breaths, then looks back at her.

"We can talk."

Rui runs up next to Wes, and her smile extends to both ears. It's been a while since they've seen the ocean like this, but she'll never forget this view.

Waves caress the shoreline on the other side, wild Poliwag and Poliwhirl frolicking in the sand. Various other Water-types, such as Kingdra and Vaporeon, go about their business in the distance.

A Magikarp flies out of the sea and slams into one of the Poliwhirl. The Poliwhirl angrily tosses the Magikarp back into the water. The laughter amongst the other Pokémon abruptly ceases when the Magikarp evolves into Gyarados, but it plops onto the sand for a nap. This doesn't stop the Poliwhirl in question from hiding behind rocks.

Rui giggles, her gaze directed towards Wes. He's flashing the faintest of amused smirks and he can't hide it.

Right next to the illuminated sea with the sun setting in the horizon, that's where she shared her first romantic kiss with Wes. So many great memories, will more join those ranks?

"It's pretty at night, isn't it?" Rui's tone is soft and her mind's light like a Swanna's feather. "I miss these moments."

"I suppose so." Wes leans against the railing, his arms feeling heavy. "I…can't help bit wonder if we jumped from friendship to romance a little too soon…given the circumstances."

"…You too, huh?" Rui frowns, lowering her her with a sigh. "I hate that it hit a sour note." She places her hands over her gut. "I've never been so disgusted at myself before, but I've come back stronger."

He's struggling to even look at her directly, but she's got no problem looking at him. How is she able to think of the good times? They said hurtful things to each other, such as the other being uncaring.

"Before our encounter at Barberini Stadium-"

" "Dwelling on the past won't help," Rui interjects, her fists on her hips. "You need time and I'll wait for you." Her gentle gaze meets his somber gaze. "It's not too late, it's never too late."

He's out of options on what to say next. On one hand, the chances of reconciliation feel infinitesimal. On the other hand, just seeing her smile is causing a peculiar contradiction of emotions.

"Wes, look here." She yanks a Poké Ball out of her jacket. "I presume that it's on eventually?"

Wes lifts his chin, his frown now a smirk. He's unsure what the future holds for Rui and him, but he'll never say no to a battle.

Rui's smile becomes a cocky grin. "Gonna get all sappy with me, lover boy?" Rui leans forward, narrowing her eyes. "Maybe you're scared that I'm still stronger than you."

Wes scoffs, pulling out a Poké Ball from his trench coat. "I'll kick your ass sooner or later."

"You think you can defeat me?!" Rui tilts her head and cracks her knuckles. "Hahahaha, I'd like to see you try!"

"Can do, walking nightmare."

Little by little, the weight on his shoulders is being lifted. He walked a lonely road...until an awkward encounter with a crazy girl outside of Phenac City. She became a bright spot in his life...looks like she'll retain that role.

Pokémon Contests are Valen's favorite form of the performing arts. He's been a trainer with a coordinator mindset for years, but he got his start on the stage thanks to Hilda's advice. He's sat in this large waiting area multiple times before, surrounded by pieces of history within a piece of history.

Ferguson Competition Hall's more packed than it was a couple of days ago, but that's not abnormal. Contests have been popular in Calvana for over two hundred and fifty years. The quaint keystrokes of a Chopin piece hides behind the hustle and bustle of the large gift shop. It sells everything from merch featuring big names like Lisia to posters of famous artworks.

The line's getting so long that many will have to wait until later today to purchase their desired items. Hopefully, Melanie and Hilda have gotten at least some merch by now. The Wallace merch they want won't remain in stock for long in any busy store because it's freaking Wallace The Magnificent. The man's got impeccable style and taste. Valen will gladly admit that can't compare to Hoenn's Niccolaio de Medici. Even so, there merch featuring him in his classy attire, courtesy of Guzma.

A number amongst the throng have spotted him, and murmurs are going around about his return to the contest stage. A few of his female fans are gushing under their breaths, but others are puzzled because he's chilling like a normal guy. Both male and female fans are eager to see his latest performance, but he's got mixed feelings. Rocking a suit would usually boost his confidence, but this situation's an abnormality.

He had decided to watch a contest while vacationing in Lilycove City a couple of weeks ago, and it was a stupendous sight. Serena dazzled everybody and rightfully earned the ribbon. One thing led to another, and he's stoked about entering another contest. Problem is that he doesn't know if he can still wow the crowd. What if he doesn't even make it to the next stage? Was it too soon to enter another contest?

Sensing his lingering doubt, his team lets themselves out of their respective Poké Balls and surround the vintage sofa. Gengar, Golisopod, and Salamence attempt to perform a cheer, making him chuckle. He fists bump Gengar and Golisopod, then he pets Salamence's head. Good thing Rosa's Milotic is still in her ball.

Gardevoir caresses his right cheek, Typhlosion nuzzles her face into his chest, and Luxray rubs his body up against his right leg. Valen pats Typhlosion's head, laughing when she licks his face. He scratches the back of Luxray's ears, the feline's purring further soothing his mind.

Here comes Rosa. Her Volcarona seems to be asking the team if everything's okay with him. Luxray sits on his hind legs, nodding at Rosa with a gentle smile. Rosa begins stroking the feline's back. Luxray may consider himself proud and edgy, but he's still a kitten at heart.

Rosa kneels down on his lap. "Are you okay, sweetie?" She paints her tone with tenderness, her eyes carrying a gentle gaze. "You look worried."

Valen sheepishly smiles, his laugh a tad halfhearted. "Yeah...little bit nervous." He scratches the back of the head. "Please don't worry about me."

Rosa caresses his forehead. "You'll be fine, I promise."

He sweeps her into a tight hug and vice versa. So much love, so much care. Words aren't enough to express how grateful he is.

Rosa flirtatiously winks, a finger on her lip and her other hand on her hip. She spins on her tiptoes while calling out her Hydreigon. She darts away and through the arched entrance. Volcarona's on her left and Hydreigon's on her right. Clash and win, as per the silent declaration of Rosa and Hilda's number one fanboy.

"I promise that I'll be okay," he reassures his team. "Don't worry, we've got this."

His Pokémon are satisfied with his answer. He gives all of them several pats, but how that works for Gengar remains a mystery. What isn't a mystery is the bop to the top of the head he just received—Hilda's knack for appearing out of nowhere strikes again.

Rosa darts toward Hilda and him, but she stops at the last minute. Being a social media sensation, she's got to take pictures of herself. She does just that, and Hilda trots on over. They gesture for their fans to come, which they gladly do. The bright lights of the camera app flashes several times.

He gets onto his feet and approaches the duo. He'll remain quiet and glance around while they discuss upcoming events. Ferguson Competition Hall's more packed than it was a couple of days ago, but that's not abnormal. Contests have been popular in Calvana for over two hundred and fifty years.

The tips of Hilda's left fingers are in front of her grin. "I keep getting calls about that fresco you painted within the agency, plus the oil paintings I put on display," she says. "They want to know the talented artist behind them."

Rosa rests her hands on her hips. "I'm just too awesome." She tilts her head back. "Name it and I'll paint it in oil, tempera, fresco, or ink."

"We're all awesome, silly."

"I'm more awesome!" Hilda spins to face Valen. "Thought you were off the hook, hm?"

Hilda and Valen exchange quips about upcoming events, whereas Rosa muses about her passion for art. Becoming an internationally renowned trainer is among her goals, but she's already got numerous accolades. Why not shift more of that focus towards painting and the performing arts, with a bit of graphic design here and there? It's not like she'll stop battling altogether, plus could always combine being an actress and trainer.

"I'm sitting that regional tournament out."

Hearing that causes Rosa to snap out of her train of thoughts. She folds her arms and an uneasy feeling weighs down on her. He's doing much better nowadays, but she worries that he could relapse into low self-esteem again. Her Volcarona and Hydreigon attempts to cheer her up by patting her head, her faint giggling delighting him. She kisses Hydreigon on his main head, and gives Volcarona a massage on his belly.

She jolts into hyperawareness upon feeling Valen's arms around her midsection. His humming fuses with his embrace to cast a blanket over her.

"Sorry." He hoists Rosa upwards. "I didn't mean to make you worry."

"I know." Rosa slides her arms around his neck and rests her forehead rests. "We want you to be successful and have lots of fun with us." Her smile has a soft tenderness to it. "I'm sorry that I took it in the wrong way."

"It's alright," he assures. "I just...I didn't feel that surge of excitement from the last tournament...even though it was fun."

"No matter what path you take, never forget your strengths and how much Rosa and I love you." Hilda smiles with her eyes closed. "Give us a big smile, that's all we ask of you." Her hands are clasped in front of her. "And be sure to live each day to the fullest."

"And give us a big smileeeee, sweetie!"

Valen places Rosa down. "As if you two don't put a big smile on my face already."

"When Rosa said yes to a vee, I felt something tell me—" Hilda's eyelids flutter and her smile turns coy. "that you're the kinda guy I should make a move on.~"

"Oh?" Valen cocks a brow. "I seem to remember sweeping you off your feet."

"After I mega flirted with you." She kisses his forehead and winks. "You'll never beat me."

Melanie's finally arrived, she's waving while running towards them. What he told Rosa and Hilda applies to her too, and there's her signature flick to the back of his head. She must have practiced using Extreme Speed—how else did she get behind him before he even realized it?

"Where were you?"

"I couldn't decide what jacket to wear, but then I remembered this!" She turns her back towards him, showing off her newest Valerie Versace jacket. "Check it out."

It's a dark red blazer jacket, the new top underneath carrying the same color. She's also wearing boots that go above her ankles. Rosa and Hilda love it too, so much so that they're now taking pictures with her. How many pictures have they taken this month so far? He's lost count.

"Aren't you glad you have somebody so stylish and beautiful as your platonic partner?"

Heh, she's oozing sass like always. "You look great in those, but you three always look great."

"That's right, keep stating the obvious about me." Melanie runs her right hand through her elbow-length, black hair. "Rosa and Hilda too."

Valen shrugs, earning himself another flick. This has been typical for the last seventeen years, but there's a lot of love in those flicks. Rosa, Hilda, and Melanie are textbook examples of true beauty—the most beautiful people are the ones whom has an amazing personality to go along with their looks. The beauty of youth won't last forever, but deep emotional connections? Be it romantic or platonic? Together forever, no matter how long. From now until the end of time.

"Heeeeey, snap out of it!"

Why does Hilda always have something rolled up to playfully thwack him with?

Silver's here too, but he's taking his sweet time getting his ass over here. He's unable to hide his grin, something that'll always be nice to see. The abrasive guy he meet years ago is long gone, and a guy who values strength in numbers and within one's self is here to stay.

"Kris is landing in a few hours. Gonna go to the airport, and I promised that I'd help her to move in."

"Say no more." Valen pats him on the back. "Have fun."

"I'll still be watching the Battle Stage on my phone."

Valen's hands fly in front of him as he steps back. "Woah woah woah woah, it hasn't even started—"

"Humph, you're gonna win the whole thing."

Heh, at least Silver's boasting about somebody else. That habit's how they first met—Silver's boasting incurred the wrath of Steven's fans. Steven's a remarkable sculptor, but a gentleman like Team Skull's Valen couldn't say no to Lisia's request. Valen also couldn't say no to helping the Silver get out of the mess he created.

The contest will start in ten minutes, Rosa and Hilda are part of the opening act. They wave at everybody, then they blow a kiss at him. They wink while he nearly blushes, his face covered with his palms. The duo trot out of sight, but they'll be seeing everybody shortly.

Rui's now here, but her expression... is a mix of content and unease? She's texted everybody about her encounter with Wes, but she wanted to save the details for later. If she needs a little boost, he's got it covered.

Neon and fluorescent lights pulse with the energetic music from the screaming speakers, a rhythm of colors dancing on the giant digital screen. A pair of Tsareena elegantly strut across the elevated stage. It's like a stage show straight out of Vega City. Rosa's Hydreigon and Hilda's Garchomp storm the stage and let out proud roars.

Rosa and Hilda trot onto the elevated stage, their long hair swaying as they spin in opposite directions. They press their backs together and they make a horizonal peace sign in front of their foreheads.

"It's about never giving up, so hold your head up!" they jump. "And we will carry on, yeah yeah yeah yeah!"

The camera crews move in for a closer look, the crowd thundering with applause and elation.

"Here she comes!" They spin towards each other, following it up with an encore. "Lisia the Contest Queen!" Both raise a hand into the air. "Yeah yeah yeah!"

Lisia swoops into the spotlight on her Altaria. He's better known by his stage name, Ali. The large screen captures a close-up of her smile. It's sunny, but it also has a dose of sass to it.

Lisia leaps down onto her feet and kneels behind the duo. Her Altaria floats in-between Hydreigon and Garchomp, the pair of Tsareena bowing in front of the dragons. Lisia rockets up and blows kisses at the crowd while doing her trademark spin.

"Are you ready from some awesome performances?!" Lisia wants the crowd to roar with more fervor that that. "Oh no, I can't hear you!" The crowd sound like a bunch of Exploud. "Now that's more like it!"

Valen doesn't know Lisia personally, but she's definitely someone that he'd enjoy hanging out with. She'll be handling the introductions. His cousin and him at the end of the line.

Among the entries is Alexandra Tezuka, Melanie's rival from years ago. Her fans are going wild, the guys sounding like a bunch of Exploud. Looks like Alexandra wasn't expecting him to enter, but that smile says it all. Ragnar's here too, hence the squealing fangirls that just startled Silver into the present. What was the professional brooder daydreaming about this time?

Several more contestants later, Lisia's got the microphone pointing towards Jacques and him instead of herself. She knows that they prefer to introduce themselves, but there's an obvious twist here. The crowd doesn't need to know their names, but they already do.

Jacques adjusts his dark blue tuxedo jacket. "Ciao." He flips up his shoulder-length brown hair. "Especially to my signorinas." He blows a kiss at the squealing female fans who've brought a large sign.

Valen yanks a rose from under his suit jacket's right sleeve. While waving at his own fans, Valen clenches the rose in-between his teeth and closes his eyes. Silver's startled by squealing again and he almost falls onto Melanie. An elbow jab into his chest prevents that. Jacques and him would be laughing, but they've got to maintain their cool.

It's time for the show to begin, a randomizer tool appearing on the screen. Jacques and Valen are fourth and fifth respectively. The latter's nervousness from earlier must have gotten bopped out of him—he hasn't felt it since he entered the stage.

The first contestant, Alexandra, takes her place. The other contestants exit the stage and head back towards the lobby. Before he's out of sight, Valen raises his hand to wish Alexandra luck. He smiles when she returns the gesture, grabbing a Poké Ball off of her belt at the same time.

Once he's back in the lobby, Valen checks out the giant flat-screen television. Alexandra is using her Walrein for this performance. That Pokémon gave his Salamence a hard time in the finals of the first Calvanian Conference he won. It wastes no time in surrounding itself with sparkling light blue water, its trainer's long blonde hair ripping due to its Water Pulse attack. She's calling for Blizzard, a barrage of light blue snowballs freezing the water.

The ensuing tundra-like aesthetic is a lovely sight, the crowd's rightfully enamored by it. Melanie's giving Alexandra a thumbs up from the front row. Probably for her choice of attire too—Melanie loves Alexandra's white tank top with a Mudkip on the back.

Watching these performances is going to be great, but he's gotta show that he's still got it.

Ragnar's Roserade is delighting the audience with her phenomenal combination of Solar Beam and Sweet Scent. The pleasant aroma's seeping into the waiting area. These performances are getting him more pumped up, and his cousin's next in line.

Ragnar's now leaving the stage, while Jacques leaps onto the stage like the movie star that he is. He's donning that Fantina Vuitton suit like a boss. Lisia's swooning with her palms on her cheeks, her squealing so loud that it probably startled Silver off of his seat.

Jacques' Sylveon is already out—she's twirling with an adorable grin. Looks like they're going for the Dazzling Gleam and Double combo. Sure enough, Sylveon and each copy are enveloped by a dazzling twister of vibrant pink energy and sparkling stars. The crowd's going wild over it and he's hoping for the same result with Gardevoir.

He takes a few hard deep breaths. He can do this, he can pull this off. He shouldn't get lost in any doubting thoughts.

The gushing of Jacques' throng of fans indicate that he's back in the waiting area. Yep, there he is. He's stopping to give autographs and allow his picture to be taken, but his Sylveon has other plans.

Sylveon leaps in front of Jacques and darts towards Valen. She sports a winsome smile while tapping Valen's feet with her front paws. She sits on her hind legs, and Valen begins to pet her. Normally, he'd be after Jacques when it comes to Sylveon's required pets.

"Who's a good girl?" He scratches the back of her ears. "Is it you?" She's now licking his hand. "Of course it's you."

His cousin's now approaching. Sylveon twirl to face Jacques while standing on her hind legs. Jacques picks Sylveon up and strokes her back, much to her delight.

"Nice performance." Valen folds his arms, painting his tone with pride. "Guess it's my turn."

Jacques raises a hand to wish Valen luck, prompting Valen to raise one in thanks.

He makes his way out of the lobby, exchanging a nod with Ragnar as he does so. The instant he's within sight of the audience, the flashy lights are aimed directly at him. He's taking it all in, he's remembering how much fun contests are. This is part of who he is, he'll never forget it again.

He strides onto the stage, waving at everybody. Several of his fans are holding up giant signs to show their support. His female fans are going wild with excitement and the squealing isn't stopping. He may as well charm a bit. He blows a kiss at Rosa and Hilda, who are sitting in the front row with Melanie and Rui. Rosa and Hilda try to outdo each other in cheering, causing Melanie to laugh. Rui's sticking her tongue out while holding up both pairs of her index and ring fingers.

"It's been a while since I've seen him perform!" Lisia spins with her right fist raised. "This is going to be fantastic!"

"Ask and you shall receive."

Time to for a twist of a classic performance—the revamped technique they'll be using is inspired by two prominent nineteenth-century paintings. Why not strut his knowledge a little bit?

He grips a black rose while yanking a Poke Ball off of his Guzmani belt. He tosses the ball into the air. Gardevoir leaps out, performing a graceful landing on her feet. She smirks, folding her arms. There's a Ralts and a Kirlia among the throng, their glittering eyes fixated on Gardevoir. She's already noticed this, her smirk now a lopsided grin.

"Gardevoir, dazzle the audience with your artistry." He snaps his fingers, painting his tone with a collected, somewhat romantic vibe. "La nuit étoilée." He clenches the rose's stem in between his teeth.

Gardevoir's eyes glow light blue, firing off a wave of energy to disintegrate the first orb and merge with the second orb. The second orb shines over a sparkling blue aura like a full moon over the ocean. She fires multiple pink waves of energy, using her Psychic attack to morph them into stars.

"There it is, ladies and gentlemen!" Lisia shouts, her eyes glowing as she spins. "Gardevoir's Starry Night combooooo is in the houseeeeee!" She leaps up and down. "It's inspired by Victor van Gogh's The Midnight Sea and Starry Night Over Azure Bay!"

Gardevoir slides around in an elegant, enchanting motion, her gown being blown upwards and backwards. She closes her eyes and twirls, treating everybody to an mellifluous and angelic tune. Everybody's in awe of her majesty, as they should be. Watching those figure skaters on the glowing box paid off for her.

Valen holds the rose next to his chin. "Let's end this with a gentleman and a lady." He snaps his fingers again. "Wesley Homer's Unforgettable Summer Night inspired this bit."

Gardevoir fires off three pink waves, morphing the first one into a tranquil coastline with a sandy beach. The second and third transform into the contour of a couple holding hands as they walk near the ocean. The contours a striking resemblance to Wes and Rui and Gardevoir bows before resuming her elegant movements.

While the fired up audience roars with applause, Rui's using her right arm to wipe her eyes, then she nods and gives him a thumbs up. There's light at the end of the tunnel and he's living proof of that. Wes, Rui, don't lose hope.

The scenery begins to fade away little by little Gardevoir twirls again, bowing to the audience. Upon hearing the applause and cheering, both trainer and Pokémon grin. Gardevoir gives Valen a peck on the top of his head and caresses his right cheek.

Jacques and the other contestants line up like before, while Valen and his Gardevoir remain where they are. Now that the first round's finished, it's time to see who made it into the Battle Stage. Repetitive dinging echoes as the points are automatically added up on the digital screen.

Jacques and him have made it to the second round, but who'd expect anything less? He'll be facing off against Alexandra, while Jacques and Ragnar will be duking it out prior. If Jacques and him end up battling, may the best man win.

Speaking of cousins, Karissa's the first one to text him. Since he doesn't have a big sis, Karissa declared herself to be his "big sis" many years ago. He responds to Karissa's text, spotting a number of his most diehard fans swarming the stage. Mostly women, a few guys, all want autographs and photos. Both Gardevoir and him are happy to oblige. He's not the only one interacting with their fans. How could he be when several popular people are nearby?

As the bright lights of cameras illuminate his surroundings, he borrows a pen to sign various items. He can't make the world a better place but he can make somebody's world a happier place.

Did you like Valen's performance? How about the debuts?

Remember Drew from the anime? May's rival with Roselia? (A cameo revealed it evolved) His 4kids VA went on to voice Aster Phoenix.

Art is a great tool for worldbuilding and fleshing out characters.

Traditional Japanese names have the family name first.

See Chapter 35 of Identity in regards to what Silver says about Kris, Valen, and Valen's mom.

Wes made a cameo in Chapter 41 of Identity.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 3: Blossoming Leaf

The lights that beam down upon Valen are as bright as the light of determination within him. It's a light that could've dimmed, but it's evolved into a reverse black hole. The shadows cannot penetrate it, nor can it escape destruction within the illumination of hope.

If he were to give advice to a new coordinator, he'd start with what he's engaging in right now. He's nowhere near the level of coordinators like Wallace and Lisia, but he's entered his fair share over the years. As a result, he's seen newcomers being caught off guard by the system used. You can't just charge in like a Tauros and expect to win solely through the traditional way. You've gotta get the crowd going by putting on a grand show.

If one Pokémon hasn't triumphed when the timer runs out, points determine who wins. Points deplete with each blow during the set timer. That's how Jacques managed to defeat Ragnar, despite neither Metagross nor Gallade going down. His own last opponent was a formidable one too, but Gengar triumphed over that Dusclops. It's time for Luxray to repeat that victory against Alexandra's' Medicham.

Here comes Medicham, a trained combatant that could ace a role in action films. Her fists engulfed in fiery blazes, but Luxray's in a pouncing position. This boxing ring's about to have more than one feline.

"Double trouble, Double Team!"

Pokémon in an animated movie called this Kage Bunshin No Jutsu, and that's what Luxray's calling it too. Dozens of copies surround and confuse Medicham, who hastily attempts to find the real him. She swings and swings, but no dice.

"Dash like the wind with Agility, make em cower with Night Slash!"

Luxray and his copies move so fast that they appear to blur. Medicham strikes a fighting pose, her eyes narrowed as she glances around. The army of felines charge in for a rapid-fire combination, but Medicham vanquishes the clones one by one. The proficiency of her graceful punches and chops resembles that of a kung fu fighter.

The real Luxray has managed to sneak behind her, his fronts claws glowing purple. He slashes her shoulders, then appears to vanish for a moment. Medicham crosses her arms, but Luxray slashes her from the right side, then the left side.

"Medicham, the cameras are ready for Close Combat!"

Medicham skyrockets into the air, leaping down with her fists and feet outwards. She pummels Luxray with a barrage of blows, he's sent hurling into a rock pillar. Medicham dashes towards Luxray and continues her onslaught. The feline shuts his eyes with his teeth clenched. He can endure this, he will endure this.

"Let's see if you can handle a second Close Combat!"

Valen's lips are parted, and his eyes are narrowed. A festinating sensation springs his pulse and his mind broadcasts Medicham's approach as an old-timey, silent movie. He'll gladly take Alexandra up on that offer, lowering his hand like a commander gesturing to a noble soldier.

"You know what to do, my ferocious feline!"

Luxray sharply opens his eyes and hisses. He leans on his right paw to evade the first punches and kicks. He dashes from one side to the next to evade a second onslaught, then backflips into the air to avoid a third.

Valen gestures with his hand, but the commander is now directing a strike. The timer's in the red, but this next attack will finish it before it runs out.

"Hyper Beam now, my majestic feline!"

Bright orange energy assembles within Luxray's mouth. He leaps into the air, smugly grinning at his wide-eyed opponent. He unleashes a powerful, coruscating beam that roars like thunder and the Fighting-type's figure enveloped by the powerful attack.

Medicham crash lands onto the ground and slides on her back. Alexandra looks with a stunned expression, her left arm bent in front of her.

"Le Moissonneur Noir is advancing to the semifinals!" Lisia cheers, leaping upward. "His comeback's proving that he's still got it!"

Luxray smugly grins again, allowing the cheering to bombard his ears. It should be obvious that his trainer's still got it, and so does this proud feline's

Luxray proudly roars, declaring to every Pokémon present that he's not a cute kitten. Do cute kittens know Hyper Beam? Do cute kittens look that majestic when leaping? If so, prove it to him.

Alexandra calls back her Pokémon and re-attaches the ball to her belt. Valen and her high five each other over a battle well fought.

He's made it to the semifinals, but there's a more important matter to attend to. Luxray's sitting next to his left leg.

"That's my boy."

He pretends to have his right hand in his pocket so he can discreetly pet Luxray. Why Luxray doesn't want people to see the obvious is not something he can comment on. In any case, Lisia's already taken center stage.

"It's time for the semifinal matchups!" Lisia points towards the digital screen. "Hit it!"

Digital dinging repeats as the randomizer decides the matchups. After this, it's break time. There's always a break in-between so trainers and their teams can rest up and be at the top of their game.

The screen's broadcasting the semifinals matchups. Valen's gotta get serious again soon—his opponent is Jacques. His cousin's a strong trainer, but he's always been more focused on the Calvanian Grand Performance than the Calvanian Conference. He's never won the latter, but he's won the former four times. He's also won a conference in the Ragulia region.

Only one of them will advance, but they'll both win. They're family, they want the other to be happy and successful.

The lobby's alive with the gushing of fans interacting with their favorite contestant. Valen and Ragnar are swamped with autographs and photo requests, while Rosa's sitting in one of the many plush armchairs.

Hilda and Melanie went poof, the former for agency business and the latter's meeting up with Leaf. Tee-hee, they don't want smoke with the queen! Her own fans have noticed her, the queen decreeing that thee shall smileth. She stands up and darts towards them. She does a different pose for each photo with a fan. Bright lights illuminate her surroundings, smiles bigger than the Prism Tower in Lumiose City.

Another successful giveaway, but how could it be anything but successful? Wherever Rosa goes, smiles follow! Noooooow, back to being serious! Good thing there are several walnut tables present!

A chalk-like sound repeats as Rosa moves a pencil around a sheet of white paper with precision. She's a Ninjask of a drawer, so why not finish the first sketches of another batch of paintings? Gardevoir looked so elegant and Luxray looked so majestic! She added a third one because Lisia and her Altaria looked so awesomeeeee! She's still deciding on the styles for numbers one and three, but she also wants to create a work inspired by Caravaggio's The Calling of Pokémon Battles!

She holds her right hand under her chin, pointing sideways with her thumb sticking out. If she's going to paint her own variation of The Calling of Pokémon Battles, who should she base the person pointing to himself off of? There's going to be a Luxray in the picture, so maybe—

"Can't it wait just once?"

"It really is your destiny to be an artist."

Valen and Ragnar are approaching her, their eyes meeting her drawings. She tilts her head back, her pride swelling as she listens to them discussing her work. Being approachable and outgoing has more than paid off, that's partly why the queen's so awesomeeee.

"That's my girl." Valen rubs her head. "Nice job on the similarity between the interior in the second drawing and Parfum Palace."

Rosa clasps her hands next to her right cheek, her right foot slightly lifted. "Thank you, sweetie!"

"You already know who to call for further assistance." Ragnar uses a hand to brush his silky black hair. "The Phoenix family will gladly put in a good word for you."

"Tee-hee, thanks!" Out of the blue, Rosa loudly gasps. She twirls to face Valen, a faint blush decorating her face. "I forgot to tell you about leaning a bit more towards the arts!" She jumps back, her arms extended in opposite directions. "Oh nooooo!"

"You just told me, ball of fluff."

They share a laugh, while Ragnar grunts in amusement with his eyes closed.

"I'll support you in everything you do," Valen promises with his right hand over his heart. "But keep in mind that the Rosa I know and love is a skilled trainer, painter, and performer."

Rosa nods with a soft smile. "I can always combine acting and battling." She clasps her hands in front of her and closes her eyes. "Please don't worry, kay?"

He doesn't need to say that he trusts her or vice versa—they can feel it from their loving expressions.

"Ooooh, what if I could play the role of Champion Rosalina Vervloet in a battle flick?!" Rosa's grin grows wider, her eyes sparkling. "Tee-hee, you could play the role of her husband!"

Valen slowly blinks, his stare wide-eyed. "I...uh...um-" He scratches the back of his head. "I don't think I'd be the best choice for Sir Charles Vervloet, Earl of Circhester-"

"We could have our twentieth kissing scene in a historical fiction film!" Rosa tilts her head back, her eyes closed and her palms under her chin. "I loved it when we played characters that got together at PokéStar Studios and Sunset Studios!"

Her mind travels to Baroque era Galar. She sits on her throne, her long hair and elegant gown ensuring all shall stare in awe. Here comes her prince, who's also her king and knight. No suit here, but he gets to wear a doublet, loose breeches, and boots. All of them are black and he doesn't say a word cuz he's mysterious! He's swooping in on his Salamence and sweeping her off of her feet.

Tee-hee, maybe she could play Lucreiza de' Ragonesi, the woman in Raphael's The Princess & Her Pokémon! Valen can play Raphael in this hypothetical art and historical romance film!

"Wake up and tell me why you're so adorable."

"You know why!" She places a hand on her hip. "Roooosa's the cutest and prettiest woman who can hit a quadruple home run as a trainer, a painter, an influencer and an actress!" Her other hand's sideways with two fingers sticking out. "Theatre or film, name the role and I've got it covered!"

She used to wonder if she's the type of girl he'd be down for—the answer became obvious very quickly. Her crush on him was so massive but he approached her before she could make a move on him.

"Ha, you two haven't changed much." Ragnar chuckles and crosses his arms. "Same applies to the rest of the pack."

Valen's about to speak, but Hilda's begun to counter Rosa's trainer and influencer claim. How she managed to avoid detection is a mystery, but he decides to avoid acting like a fanboy. The correct answer is both, you crazy wholesome minds.

"Where'd you come from?" Ragnar's right thumb and right index finger rest on his chin. "You always seem to appear out of nowhere."

"Hehe, that's my secret!" Hilda turns towards Valen and bops his forehead. "Don't you worry about us, cuz we've got this!"

The conversation's overheard by a young woman wearing a white bucket hat. She giggles as Melanie steps out from behind her.

Melanie's hands folded and her smile prideful. She told Leaf she's find them with ease. Even in a crowd the size of a small town, they stick out like a shiny. Furthermore, she deems the fashion queen of the squad. She deems Leaf's light blue sleeveless top and pinkish-red skirt to be a perfect fit for her.

"Hiiii everybody!" Leaf's convivial voice catches their attention. She waves while walking toward them. "Hee hee, make room for meeee!"

Hilda and Rosa wave back, meeting Leaf and Melanie midway for a quadruple high five.

"She's my newest client." Hilda pats Leaf's back. "She'd like to become a movie star, plus she's an awesome trainer herself."

Valen and Ragnar stroll like Slakoth in Leaf's eyes, but she's glad to see the former again. She knows who Ragnar is, but now she can become his friend too!

"Glad to see you again." Valen offers a fist bump. "It's been a while."

"Yep!" Leaf accepts his fist bump twice. "Saaaay, I've heard that your full first name's Valentinus." She winsomely smiles. "If we're going to be super besties, let's start with where that came from."

"Valentinus I, a famous Siscian emperor."

"Ooooh, that's cool!"

Ragnar strides toward Leaf and offers a handshake, to which she gladly accepts.

"You already know who I am."

"Hee hee, you're Chi Town's homegrown star!" Leaf's palms are on her hips. "I love your white suit and pants!"

"Thank you." Ragnar closes his eyes and rubs his silky black hair. "Wallace knows how to design clothes."

Melanie's eyes sparkle and she places her fists under her chin. "Wallace has an incredible sense of style!" She slaps her mouth shut and her face reddens. "I thought this side of me was long gone!"

Valen smirks. "Who's the dork now?" Melanie's attempted forehead flick can't phase him. "I didn't cause this."

Amidst the human group chat, Luxray struts like he's on a red carpet. He lifts his chin, roaring like he's the king of the jungle. His mind decides to take a vacation in the clouds.

Not really, all that occurred was Luxray accidentally face planting into the cloud-like wings of Lisia's Altaria. He shrugs it off, ignoring Lisia's giggling and Altaria's chuckling.

He's truly ascended past the "cute kitten" stage. He can see it now—the proud feline surrounded by berries, cupcakes, and cheese puffs. That cutie Umbreon's kissing him and a crew of alpha Lopunny are gawking at how majestic and stunning he is. His heart and soul belong to that beautiful Pokémon, but he doesn't mind if the Lopunny call him Big Poppa. Throw a roar out there if you're not a cute kitten!

Why'd he have to open his big mouth in front of everbody?! But Salamence's got a point—what if those Lopunny aren't nice like Umbreon? Salamence's had these daydreams too, expect he envisions Milotic kissing him and alpha Altaria gawking at him. He's had deep self-discussions as those Altaria—what if they're not as friendly as Milotic and Lisia's Altaria?

Upon hearing Valen saying how proud he is of the team, Salamence runs to get his head pats. Luxray follows suit, slightly brooding over the fact that he can't contain his purring. At least nobody's looking in this direction...right? Whatever, his trainer is more important than his pride.

Despite all of the commotion in this packed area, Leaf's ears pick up on the purring. There's a kitty nearby, the kitty must recieve pets and scratches. She rapidly sways, her eyes sparkling at the sight of Luxray sitting and being pet by his trainer.

Luxray shrieks, his light blue face becomes redder than Silver's hair. Every pspsps they say to Luxray takes him one step closer to max edge. Oh no, she's approaching! Step by step, his pride vanishes into the depths of the night!

The giant puppy duo, Salamence and Typhlosion, claim the unused pets for themselves. Golisopod cackles and waits for Gardevoir to make her move. The boss has been watching Luxray this entire time, and she's had enough of his nonsense.

Gardevoir folds her arms, her glare that of an angry mother. The attic better be clean when she checks later today. Once Gengar goes silent, she teleports herself in front of Luxray, but he shrugs it off. He hisses that he conveniently doesn't care anymore, but Gardevoir knows better. She backs up to allow Leaf to pat Luxray's head.

Just as she suspected. He's in a good mood, plus she was kind to his trainer. He deems Leaf worthy of petting, hence why he's allow this scratching him behind the ears

Valen's gesturing towards all six of them. It's time. Golisopod and Salamence better win this double battle.

The ground opens up, and a whirring sound emits as the previous battlefield is lowered. A grass and water battlefield rises up in its place.

The neon and fluorescent lights are focused on Valen and Jacques as they stride toward each other. They shake hands, then they walk towards opposite ends of the field. Both of their fanbases are out in force, holding up signs in the midst of all of the squealing.

Valen finds it fitting that while they're both wearing black suits, Jacques' suit has a glossier finish to it They're so similar that they've been mistaken as brothers in the past, but they have their differences. Both of them are also badasses, they'll prove it yet again.

Both Jacques and Valen yank two Poké Balls off of their belts. Both are ready to have a glorious performance battle, just like Gianluigi Bernini centuries ago.

"I shall use these two."

He tosses the Poke Balls like the kunai props he's used in ninja flicks. His Greninja lands in a kneeling position, while his Kingdra makes herself at home within the aquatic part of the battlefield.

"Give em a beatdown and ravage this battlefield with your fury!"

Up these Poké Ball go like hikers on a mountain, out comes the peak of power. Golisopod faintly cackles, waiting for Salamence to open his eyes.

Salamence sharply glares at his opponents, unleashing a thunderous roar that causes the ground and air to cower.

Lisia spins in a full circle. "Are you ready?" When they nod, she raises her left hand like she's about to use Karate Chop. "Ready, set-" She quickly brings her hand down. "Battle!"

The timer's ticking, let's get this show on the road. Valen places his hands in his pockets, a confident, lopsided smirk emerging.

"Use First Impression."

Golisopod dashes so rapidly that he appears to vanish. He re-appears right in front of Greninja, slamming his entire body into him.

"Good opening, but here comes Water Shuriken and Dragon Breath!"

Greninja dashes like a shinobi, flinging barrage after barrage of light blue shuriken, while Kingdra launches a crackling green stream that's covered in a bright blue aura.

"Here comes Kingdra's Ice Beam!"

"Sucker Punch says otherwise!"

A frost white beam is about to be launched from Kingdra's thin snout, but Golisopod's already right in front of her. His claws glow dark green and he slams them into Kingdra's midsection.

"Poison Jab and Air Slash!"

Both of Golisopod's claws glow purple. He slams both of them into Kingdra, following it up with multiple additional blows. Kingdra drops into the water, a swarm of purple bubbles occluding her body.

Greninja has his arms crossed, attempting to endure a windstorm of crescent-shaped blades caused by Salamence's red wings.

"Salamence, give Greninja a jolt with your Thunder Fang!"

Salamence swoops down, his teeth obscured by crackling bolts. He chomps down on Greninja's right arm, the bipedal shutting his eyes and bellowing.

Kingdra and Greninja recuperate, noting the proud smile on their trainer's face. They stare down Salamence and Golisopod, who want to know if that's all they got. The humans like to say be careful about wishes, that's what these two should practice too.

"Let's see which Pokémon is the greatest sword master!" Jacques raises his right hand up high. "Greninja, commence an honorable clash with your Night Slash attack!"

Pitch black, katana-like blades materialize in both of Greninja's hands. He leans backwards, then zooms in like a high-speed train. He dashes left and right, waiting for Golisopod to draw his own blade.

"Heed with honor, valiant knight Golisopod!" Valen tilts his eyes and leans forward with his fists clenched. "Strike Greninja down with the sword Liquidation!"

A large, crescent-shaped water sword appears in Golisopod's right hand. As per the norm, he's twirling it to show off. The crowd seems to enjoy it, as they should be.

Golisopod swings his water sword, but Greninja somersaults into the air to evade it. Greninja backflips to avoid a second blow, but Salamence dives down and slashes him twice. Salamence's blasted out of the sky by a frost white beam.

Greninja swings his katana-like blades, but Golisopod intercepts the attack with his armored arms crossed. Another pair of swings cause Golisopod to leap backwards, ducking to avoid Kingdra's attack. By now, Salamence's flown back into the action. He lets out an even more thunderous roar than before.

"The master of the skies will back up the valiant knight with Iron Tail!"

Salamence veers sideways and does a backflip, his glowing tail walloping Kingdra's backside. His claws glow royal blue, and he slashes Kingdra repeatedly. Another Iron Tail prevents Greninja from intercepting and sends the ninja-like Pokémon hurling backwards. Golisopod slams his water sword into Greninja, which goes through the bipedal amphibian's body.

Greninja plummets down, grunting when he makes hard contact. After a few moments of tense silence, Greninja's able to leap back onto his feet.

"Commence Night Slash again!"

The pitch black blades make an encore. Greninja dashes with the blades pointing behind him. He hurls himself into the sky, then dives down. Golisopod bobs and weaves to avoid the barrage of strikes. However, the arthropod isn't so lucky this time. Greninja manages to land a double blow, then follows it up with relentless swinging of the blades. Golisopod nearly tumbles forward, while Greninja hastily jumps back.

"Use Draco Meteor and Scald!"

A bright blue aura enshrouds Kingdra, who launches a boulder-like ball into the air. A loud bang echoes as it detonates, large chucks barreling downwards upon Salamence and Golisopod in fiery streaks.

Greninja fires off two streams of swirling, boiling water from its fin-like palms. As they pull themselves together, Salamence and Golisopod are singed, and thick clouds of steam surround the latter and inflict more damage.

Greninja's surrounded by a thundering oval of dark blue water, a pinch of black mixed into it. He slams into Golisopod, whose eyes are shut as he fends Greninja off. His Liquidation is way cooler than this one.

Salamence soars higher to evade Greninja, but Kingdra looks like she's going to score a hit.

Or so she thinks.

Golisopod sharply opens his eyes. He musters up enough strength to leap up, shielding Salamence from the green stream glowing bright blue.

Valen's calling for Iron Tail and Poison Jab. Salamence swings his glowing tail into Greninja's midsection, the bipedal careening into his teammate. Greninja breaks his backwards spiral by digging his feet into the grass. However, he's brought to his knees by a series of blows from Golisopod and his glowing claws.

"Make haste with Dark Pulse and Blizzard!"

Greninja launches a bluish-black stream of circles at the panting arthropod, who takes a blow to the center. Above him, Salamence weaves around a relentless hailstorm of snowballs. At first, a few of them dinging the dragon on his front legs. However, multiple score a direct hit, forcing him to land before he loses his balance.

"Greninja, soar like a Flying-type with Aerial Ace!"

Greninja crossed his arms, which become covered by a light blue aura. In the blink of an eye, Greninja dashes towards Golisopod and strikes him under his face.

After a few moments, a booming thud echoes as Golisopod crashes into the ground. The arthropod accepts his defeat with grace but he can't help but cackle. They may have taken him down, but the strongest member of the team's a different story.

"There goes a lot of points," Valen murmurs while eyeing the screen. "Heh, it wouldn't be fun if I won so easily."

By now, Salamence's brought himself back into the action. As he observes his trainer calling back Golisopod, the tri-colored dragon could care less that he's outnumbered, he'll win this with his ace in the hole. Or he'll win without it. Either way, Valen's not losing this match.

Here comes another Scald and Ice Beam. Salamence readies himself for the two streams of boiling water and the frost white beam. He veers right to left in rapid succession, both attacks narrowly missing their mark.

"Salamence has other plans." Valen snaps his fingers. "In his mind, two against one makes it a fair fight!"

Salamence roars for Greninja and Kingdra to come and get him. They oblige and relentlessly pursue Salamence with barrages of their respective attacks. A portion of the boiling water manages to singe the tri-colored dragon, but he veers and flips to evade the rest.

Within the roaring crowd, Leaf's mesmerized by what she's seeing. Her mouth hangs open, her eyes slightly widening as they fixate on Salamence slashing Kingdra and slamming his tail into Greninja. This Salamence is up against two powerful opponents, but he's weaving and doing backflips like it's the Pokémon Olympics. Not to mention that he's fighting back with awesome efficiency.

Her eyes began to gleam as Salamence veers sideways left and right to avoid a flurry of Ice Beams. One of the front white beams manages to strike the dragon, and it's followed by a Dark Pulse. However, Salamence counters the stream of circles with a powerful inferno shaped like the kanji of fire.

The battlefield's veiled in thick clouds of smoke, but Salamence's rocketing blows it to the side. He lands two direct strikes with Iron Tail, sending both Greninja and Kingdra reeling backwards. Another Ice Beam hits its mark, as does another Dark Pulse. Salamence's endured some serious blows, but a double Thunder Fang shows he's not going down so easily.

Salamence just used Iron Tail to wallop Greninja into Kingdra again, now he's slashing them with Dragon Claw. Greninja's now enveloped by a cerulean aura, meaning Torrent's been triggered. All three Pokémon are panting and the timer's in the red. Who's going to come out on top?! This is so exciting!

Valen whips out a black rose and holds it in front of his mouth. "It's time for la grande finale." He snaps his fingers "Fuse Dragon Pulse with Dragon Rush to unleash Neutron Blast attack!"

"Hydro Cannon, Blizzard!" Jacques shouts, his tone rapid. "Make haste!"

A white sphere materializes within Salamence's mouth. He launches the sphere, which morphs into a dragon-shaped beam. It quickly becomes a white dragon with blue eyes, a lengthy tail, and talon-shaped spikes running parallel on both sides of the head.

The same white dragon appears around Salamence, and he flies into the separate formation. The influx of energy explodes, the ensuing fusion being a three-headed dragon. A cyclone-like gale wails around it as Salamence launches himself and the three-headed dragon. Each of the three mouths fire off separate white beams of energy that quickly merge into one. It pierces through the energy surrounding Salamence, disintegrating the giant torrent of water and the barrage of snowballs.

The attack explodes into Kingdra and Greninja, a detonation occurring in the process. As the smoke clears out, the sound of water splashing can be heard Kingdra drops into it. Greninja topples face-first onto the grassy part of the terrain, a thud echoing upon contact.

"Le Moissonneur Noir's won the battle, plus he has the most points!" Lisia spins while pointing toward the screen. "He's advancing to the final round!"

The crowd breaks out in thunderous applause and cheering. It makes Salamence want to shoot a Flamethrower into the sky, but he can't do it here. Here comes his trainer, at least he gets to hear those words.

"That's my boy."

Valen rubs his Salamence's head, the dragon affectionately roaring. He recalls Salamence and He re-attaches the Poké Ball to his belt.

Jacques is strolling his way, there's no need to say anything. Valen knows that the cousin he looks up to as an older brother is more than proud of him. They fist bump each other and await he arrival of Rosa and Hilda. It'll be as fast as an Extreme Speed.

Scratch that, they're already here. Do they have to force him to bend forward with them? Eh, it's making them happy. That's always worth it. He can charm, he's got that class, but he'll always be the big bad trainer.

Valen's determined to claim that trophy and ribbon, he's going to silence any potential doubt about his skills. The rumbling of the final match and its audience is making its way through the lobby areas, and the lights seem brighter than before.

This opponent's been a potent one, but he expected nothing less from one of the Taizhou region's rapidly rising stars. Anyone living abroad in Calvana better get used to seeing strong trainers and marvelous coordinators from all over the world.

Typhlosion's just been struck by a giant boulder of mud, Gardevoir being forced to evade a flurry of stings. She's taken quite a bit of damage, so Valen's calling for Recover. It must be done, Gardevoir thinks as she's obstructed by a bright purple glow. She closes her eyes, her tune angelic as she twirls.

Here comes that Beedrill, time to give it a shock with Thunderbolt. Gardevoir's body glows a darker shade of purple. She launches a powerful lightning bolt from the top of the head. It strikes Beedrill in the face, a synchronization of crackling electricity enveloping the vespid within seconds.

Uh oh, the Mamoswine's just been commanded to use Earthquake. The ground ruptures with white shockwaves that bombard Typhlosion and her. She's fine, but her teammate's not so lucky. She wants to use Heal Pulse, but Valen's not calling for it. How come?

Ah, that's why. Typhlosion's panting, but her glare indicates that she wants Gardevoir to score a knockout instead of using Heal Pulse. It's risky, but Gardevoir and him will respect her wishes.

The arena's suddenly jolted by Typhlosion's menacing roar, shattering Gardevoir's thought process and making her cackle. Typhlosion's flames shoot up like a volcanic eruption, her eyes glowing fiery red. Blaze has activated, now it's time to win this.

Valen closes his eyes, murmuring, "The stage's ours." He clenches another rose in-between his teeth, then he sharply opens his eyes. "Like the fire that burns within your eyes, strike them down with Fire Blast!"

Typhlosion roars even louder, a powerful surge of red-orange flames being hurled out out of her mouth. It morphs into a shape resembling the kanji for fire. The attack's joined by a light green oval from her teamate, which strikes Mamoswine's face.

Beedrill tries to evade, but Blaze has made her Fire Blast so enormous that there's no escape. The Bug and Poison-type's singed, plummeting right next to the water and into Mamoswine.

Gardevoir folds her arms and grins, while she lets out a victory roar. It's like the crowd's roaring with her.

"That's all, folks!" Lisia announces, spinning in a full circle. "The winner of this contest is Le Noir!"

Valen's opponent is offering him a handshake. He gladly accepts it, while Lisia encourages the crowd to roar even louder. A certain duo doesn't need to be encouraged in that manner, not when they've already rocketed out of their seats.

Rosa and Hilda squeal, their eyes glittering. "He won! He won! He won! He won!" They grip hands and bounce around. "He woooooon!"

Their eyes are closed, giving Melanie the chance to approach Valen first. When they realize this, their jaws drop.

"Ha, I beat you two to it!" Melanie playfully winks, jumping on Valen's back. "Great job, big guy!"

Thank you, and nice jacket you've got there."

"Yes!" She blurts out, her grin ear-to-ear. "You noticed my second new one!" She leaps off of him and turns away with her hands on her hip. "I should rock copper more often!"

Today's been an amazing day. Not only did he get to show that he's got it, he actually won. He wasn't expecting that when it started.

Typhlosion happily pants and licks Valens's hand, while Gardevoir tenderly embraces him. Team Skull's the first to message him about his victory. All of those dings are music to his ears, and perhaps fate's giving him a heads up. After all, contests are a excellent combination of training and the arts.

Trophy and ribbon in hand, Valen strides alongside the others within the lobby. His entire team's out, they're acting like those sculptures are gawking over how awesome they are.

Melanie offers to hold his two awards, her head's tilted towards a group of kids who want to check out his team. Valen gives her a thumbs up and gestures the kids to come on over.

Wait, that trench coat...that was a trench coat, right? He quickly backtracks towards a corner that he just passed. He slowly blinks, his mouth halfway open. Is there somebody around that corner, right in-between the prints of Caravaggio's The Calling of Pokémon Battles and Poussin's The Reconciliation? His team is caught off guard, but it looks like Gardevoir's sensed what caused him to walk backwards.

"Don't worry, just have fun."

Gardevoir nods and resumes interacting with a young pair of Ralts.

Valen gestures to the group that he'll catch up with them later, to which they nod. If this mysterious visitor is who he thinks it is, at least one of them will be back. Yep, there's the trench coat again. The blue garment's peeking out in front of the cream-colored walls. It's definitely him.

"Been here the entire time?" Valen folds his arms and glances behind him. "Wes?"

Footsteps echo as Wes' familiar attire enters Valen's full line of sight. Wes scratches his short and shaggy platinum blond hair, then leans against the wall with his arms crossed.

"Feh." Wes bears his teeth, his gaze stern. "I saw you defeat Rexford Ryujin too."


"I wasn't going to miss out on seeing your comeback."

Valen pauses for a moment, a smile appearing afterwards. Now's his chance to keep the promise he made to Rui...now's the chance to try and retrieve the last piece. He wants his friend back, he wants to close the chapter of his low point for good.

"You're more than welcome to tag along with the group."

A jolt causes Wes' body to jerk. Did...did Valen just...offer him to join...a group? What does he say? How can Valen not hold anything against him in the first place? A group that accepts him would be a stark contrast to his upbringing, if it could even be called that.

"You alright?" Valen raises a brow, his right palm slightly raised. "Sorry if it's too soon."

"...Do you...mean it?" Wes's back is pressed against the wall, his eyes nearly watering up. "I'll...belong...somewhere?"


Wes deeply inhales, then exhales. He's got to stay composed, even if he doesn't feel ready. Still, they had some great moments together. He'd love for those moments to return.

"For now, can I ask you for a favor?" Wes straights out his posture. "In a few days, I'd like to battle you."

"Well, it has been a while." Valen shrugs. "Sure." She's right behind him.

"Thanks, that'll be a good start." Wes casually kicks at the floor. "I also need some practice with a powerhouse before I kick that walking nightmare's ass."

Looks like Wes has realized that she's lurking around the corner. That's why he's now smirking too.

"We both know that she's no match for me."

"Ha, in your dreams!"

Did Rui think that would work on Wes? He can spot her orange hair a mile away. Those two are glued together, a recurring theme in the squad.

"Wait a minute!" Rui yelps, flushing with embarrassment. "I wasn't supposed to reveal myself just yet!"

She ducks out of sight for a brief moment, but then she spots the others approaching. Can this visual message penetrate the doubt that clouds his confused mind?

"At first, I wanted you to approach him without me." Rui admits to Valen, her smile tender. "But that didn't feel right—both Wes and I are your friends." She extends her right palm towards the others. "And Wes, these are your friends."

"...A group of friends, huh?" Wes' smirk vanishes, his voice slightly monotone. "Would be nice."

From left to right, Wes slowly eyes each one. He already knows their names: Rosa, Hilda, Melanie, Jacques, Ragnar, and Leaf. Not just because they're known names—Valen can talk about those around him for hours. He didn't mention Leaf, so is she a new friend?

He can't remember ever coming close to having multiple friends. He joined that scummy Team Snagem because they duped him into thinking he'd belong there. All it was is more of the same crap he wanted to get far away from. Those pussies thought it was funny to steal Pokémon from children, that's why he jacked both of the Snag Machines.

A normal life was alien to him, it felt like the odds were infinitesimal...until Rui came into his life. It feels like it's been an eternity since the emotions ran so high that they snapped at each other.

After a few moments of silence, Wes cracks a faint smile. Maybe, just maybe, these are the signs that he's been looking for. Maybe he's found somewhere he belongs...and then there's Rui. She's being so patient with him...she's always been this way. From their first kiss by the ocean to his bucket prank, they've made some great memories together.

Next time around, it's going to be be different. She has his word. If he has to start from scratch, so be it.

Silver and Kris relax on the latter's bed, having spent the quaint evening together. She's gushing over how awesome the Battle Stage was, she's texting every person she can. That cluster of messages is probably filled to the brim with the acronym CMoA too.

He's never stayed in a house where a bedroom is right next to the living room, but it is a one-story. He can't believe the coincidence that has occurred—what are the chances that she's residing in this house? Rosa initially rented it upon returning to Calvana, but he's glad that the plan changed.

Kris is adjusting well to her new home, not that he was worried or anything like that. Pfffft, what fool would think he'd be worried to the point he's staying for the night? He was bored, so he said yes. He never worries, no siree.

Numerous unopened boxes are scattered throughout the bedroom and living room, but they'll get to them soon enough. The boxes she wanted to crack open first contains the ceramics she's brought over. Can't forget about the stained glass lamp, she adores that thing.

The centerpieces of the bedroom are the same as it was in New Bark Town. Surprisingly, it's never been the extra large posters of people like Lance, Wallace, and Valerie. One of them is the giant painting print he got her a few years ago as a birthday present. The original's by a Galarian artist named Jackson Matthew William Turner.

The more he thinks about it, Kris is just as pretty as a sunset. Both in real life and that depiction of one over Circhester. But he won't get flustered again, he's strong enough to resist the fake Silver.

It doesn't help that the spicy aroma of her perfume is using Wrap on his nose, but two can play at that game. That brand happens to make men's cologne too, and she's trying to hide her whiffs. It just so happens to be one of her favorite scents. Coincidences are weird.

"Thank you for letting me watch those contest battles with you, they were sooo cool!"

Don't blush. Whatever he does, he cannot blush. Not even if her cute smile's trying to massage away how big and tough he is. He will fi-he already lost.

"Silver, I said thank you."

"Humph, I just HAPPENED to be watching it."

"Sureeee you were." Kris folds her arms, her grin mischievous. "Like I've said in the past, you can't win against me."

Silver groans while she laughs. Pain in his ass, he accidentally said yes to having a sleepover with her after helping her with her luggage and to unpack. He can definitely say no to her if he wants to, he just doesn't want to.

His gaze darts away, only to meet the second large painting that lurks behind him. It just has to be that painting of Drifloon in a shady alleyway, doesn't it? Now he's imagining himself wandering into that alley. Why do all of the art people around him have to like these scary paintings by that Caravaggio guy?

"Snap out of it, you silly guy!"

Shit, she's staring into his eyes! Act cool, just act cool. Silver's big and tough, fake Silver isn't.

"Oh..err..um...you wanna read some classics?"

An awkward silence befalls the room. Silver grits his teeth, tugging his black and red shirt's collar. He didn't flinch upon learning that prehistoric Hydreigon were the size of houses, nor when he ran into an Alpha Hydreigon in the Arctic. Why can't he keep his cool here?

This is akin to what Valen describes one of his reactions upon seeing Rosa and/or Hilda with their hair down out of the blue. Silver would prefer if he shared a bit of that inconsistency.

"Sureeee, I'd love to read with yooou!"

"You...can pick." He does a hard swallow and clenches his teeth. "Yeah...um...go pick."

"Thanks, that's nice of you!"

She gets to read great examples of literature with her special someone! Imagine if he asked her own on a date right now! What if this is secretly a date?! Oooh, what if he wore that purple suit he won't admit to having! That would be so amazing!

Now she's in full daydream mode. There's Silver in a top hat and a Victorian-era coat, there's her in a long and graceful dress. They're kissing by the beautiful riverbed in Aquacorde Town, the imaginary and definitely realistic Silver calling it the second prettiest sight in front of him.

"It feels strange whenever you're quiet."

A wide-eyed Kris squeaks, rocketing her palms in-between them. Get a grip girl! Now's your chance! Ask him, ask him! At least ask him to make phaal curry or something!

"Quiet Kris is kinda terrifying."

"Ah...um...err...you saw nothing!"

Silver blinks, scratching his long red hair. What is she talking about? He wasn't even looking in her direction just now. She shuts her eyes, an obvious blush on full display. She fidgets with her fingers, her head tucked in.

"I'd appreciate if we read something before the year ends."


Calm down, act normal, grab Crobatula and read it with him. Grab The Achiliad and The Pilgrimage too. That's her impromptu to-do list, disregard the mental image of Silver in a tuxedo giving her flowers. Nope nope nope, she's ignoring the image of Silver opening the door into a limousine.

She has the skills needed to obtain sixteen badges, yet her legs won't respect how good she is. They're using Quiver Dance as she reaches for the box containing her books.

Kris has a scale model of Wyndon Bridge in one of the adjacent boxes. The same box that Kris isn't aware she's about to run into. She realizes her mistake a bit too late, now she's falling down. It doesn't help that her Mismagius is snickering from within the walls.

If that wasn't bad enough, her lips make contact with Silver's lips. Are their heartbeats and pulse racing together as one? Why doesn't she want to stop? Why isn't this tough guy stopping?

What a silly question, it's because she's enjoying this tender moment with her-timeout! Timeout timeout timeout!

Silver and her blink with wide-eyed stares, their faces burning up. They rapidly back away from each other, with Kris tumbling onto the carpet. Her Mismagius's face materializes on the wall, enjoying every minute of this.

"Kris, what the hell was that?!" Silver's flushing with embarrassment and anger. "I didn't ask for a kissing session!"

"It was an accident, you idiot!" Kris wails as she sits up. "I don't know why I didn't stop right away!" She clenches her fists and shut her eyes. "As if I would ever kiss you!"

Silver realizes he's too close to the edge. He grunts and flails, desperately holding on to the wooden edge. Down onto the carpet he goes, sending Mismagius into hysterics. To his dismay, his Zoroark's also tearing up with laughter.

"Say something."

"It's not like I enjoyed it or anything, Queen Blabbermouth." Silver fakes a scowl, refusing to get up off the floor. "I'd never enjoy it!" He pretends that the ceiling's more interesting.

"Neither would I, we're just friends."

Silver's right cheek is planted on the carpet, his amused smile facing Kris. Laughter kicks the awkwardness out of the situation. But this is the most awkward sleepover they've had in years. It's probably going to be topped soon enough, but the worst one will always be the infamous Melemele Island sleepover. That's where Gladion started the false notion of him liking Kris. They're definitely just friends, what kind of idiot would think otherwise?

...King Edgethur is coming to Calvana soon, isn't he? Given his luck, that seems plausible.

For returning readers, isn't it nice to see Valen happier from the get-go?

For new readers, what are your overall thoughts so far?

For both, what did you think of the contest battle? Did you enjoy the accidental kiss scene? How about the Wes scene?

The airport scene in Chapter 2 got cut, so this marks Kris' debut now.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 4: Calvanian Museum of Art

What to do when you can't decide what to read in the patio? You take all of them with you.

At least, that's what Valen has done. He couldn't decide between Lives of The Great Artists, Art History's Fundamentals, The Artistic Story, and The Calvanian Museum of Art. Those were his first four books, all obtained within the same week when he was six.

He's flipping through the museum book. Published in 1985, every single piece shown in this book is still within those walls. The page he's checking out presents color photos of astrolabes, compasses, quilts, and music boxes that originated from the Ishtarian Empire.

It's a quaint day, not too sunny but not too cloudy, The temperature's a bit colder than normal for this time of year, but that's not a big deal. The Pokémon are chilling out with the crew in his backyard, Gardevoir's found trouble and she didn't have to look too hard. The cupcakes must be shared, her word is the law. It's not Luxray who's in trouble this time. Nah, Hilda's Emboar and Beartic have incurred her stare of doom.

Luxray and Typhlosion are right by his feet, taking turns to receive their pets. He's a master at petting and reading at the same time.

Several of the Pokémon are gawking at the garden gnomes of their species...except for Umbreon. Even the Luxray garden gnome can make her blush. Not far from Luxray's girlfriend, the five dragons are practicing a dance routine. Gengar's happily allowing them to use his portable television, but isn't that the dance craze that's been blowing up social media?

They're having a laugh about it, probably because Hilda's Garchomp just tripped into Rosa's Milotic. Salamence won't be laughing after that accidental kiss from Milotic-did Salamence just kiss her back without getting flustered?! What the...how the...wait a minute, this isn't new.

Rosa and Hilda trot out the back door, the words Pokémon Musical explaining everything. The former's wearing her stylish white jacket with the Team Skull logo on the back. Hilda's wearing the same jacket in grey. They both look so good wearing those. They're having a playful dispute over who's more awesome. It's time to state the obvious for the billionth time.

He rockets out of the chair. "Everything about you two is amazing!" He bends his elbows and forms fists. "I'm your number one fanboy-"

He slaps his mouth shut. Get a grip, you ding dong! This is why you have to endure that faulty hypothesis! They're pulling his cheeks, giggling at his flustered grunts. He needs to pretend that he's calm and collected about, but he's been defeated!

...Why are these two so unstoppable in the first place? He's well aware that his thought process isn't making any sense, but that's like saying the ocean is blue. Rosa and Hilda have no trouble throwing him into a whirlpool of nonsensical actions and thoughts. It's better to make zero sense than risk having a reaction that fuels the false notion that he's cute.

Rosa and Hilda wrap an arm each around Valen, making him spin with them. Their Draining Kiss attacks silences his dissent and makes him blush. They're enjoying his mystified expression but he should know the rules by now.

Rosa will be recording this time, she's already got her phone out. She enters the camera app and presses play, while Hilda uses her phone to play a smooth instrumental. Typhlosion and Luxray hop in front of them, they want in on the fun.

"I left my home and now I see a new horizon!" Hilda's right hand is in front of her mouth, her tone melodious and harmonic. "But one day I'll re-visit Nimbasaaa! I'll be back, I'll be back!"

"Yeah yeah yeah!" Rosa winks at their number one fanboy. "I'm on the road to become the greatest traineeeer!" Her melodious tone becomes high-pitched. "And I won't quit until I'm number oneeeeee! Gotta be number one! Number one, number one!"

Hilda jumps, her hands clasped over her right shoulder. "We keep on trying and then we try some moooore!" She winks at their favorite dork. "To say together and find a place wooooorth fighting fooooor!"

"We're on the rooooad!" Rosa and Hilda lean forward with a still mystified Valen. "We're on the road to smiles and glory! Meet our besties along the waaaay!"

Valen smirks and high fives both of them. Good ol' crazy wholesome minds, he thinks as he watches Rosa upload it. His Typhlosion and Luxray want more pets, ask and they shall receive.

"Comment on my new jacket, Val-Val!"

"Looks good on you, but two always look great." He winks and clicks a tooth. "Straight out of a Raphael painting."

"Tee-hee, you've got great taste!"

"Damn right I do." He snickers with a gleeful countenance. "Gimme the scoop for today."

"Hehe, Kris starts her apprenticeship today!" Hilda titters, her right palm obstructing her grin. "Silver just happened to feel like visiting the second largest art museum in the world!"

"And I'm adding prints of Domingo Velazquez's Two New Trainers and Leonardo Da Vinti's Lady with a Mienshao to the giant list of art we need to get!"

Mind synchronization strikes again? Both of those works are shown in the giant and lavishly illustrated museum book. Yesterday, she added three-bingo. It just hit him and he's not referring to the cheek bops he just received...for some reason.

"You want to go to the museum?"

"That's our decree, Valey!"

"Sounds good to me." he shrugs. "Or maybe not, maybe I feel like being bad." he smirks. "You decide."

"Are you defying the queens?" Rosa and Hilda inch their faces closer. "Speak."

"Damn right I am." He shows off the Team Skull logo on the back of his leather jacket. "I'm a bad boy."

"Ooooh, you said you're a bad booooy." They flirtatiously tease, their tones melodious again. They grab his shirt's collar, their sultry gazes locked onto him. "Think you can take us, tough guy?"

"Don't test me."

Both wink and wag a finger, challenging, "If you call yourself a bad boy, then show us what you got!~"

The Pokémon are enjoying the banter, despite having no idea why they're talking so weird. However, the fun times nearly end when Gardevoir catches Luxray trying to hoard all the cupcakes. Her stare of doom is no joke, hence why Luxray's now hiding behind the garden gnome of his species.

A sea of locals and tourists flow behind Kris and Silver in the city's oldest district. The rumble of vehicle engines and the chirping of Pidgey add to the plethora of chatter and footsteps. Normally, Kris would be gushing about these Baroque buildings. This isn't just a piece of history, this was the seed that blossomed into the modern day megacity.

Not this time, because words aren't enough. She can't take her eyes off of the structure, nor can she stop herself from shaking. Over a million art pieces will now surround her on a regular basis. This is really happening…this is the museum that she's going to be apprenticing at.

She's an architecture and interior design gal too, she loves how the museum stayed true to the Baroque style. The giant dome atop the center roof, plus the double drum underneath it, are common elements of this style. Sculptures of Mew decorate the front center, front left corner, and front right corner of the building, a common trait of fancier Baroque buildings. Two buildings are attached on the left and right sides, they're smaller due to their flatter roofs. A smaller dome rests atop the extravagant front entrance. Lateral wings and cupola, as they're respectively called.

This building's an example of Kalosian Baroque, the royalty-like grandeur in its architectural style a dead giveaway. Those who study it must remember that the Baroque style have differences from region to region.

"Hey, you ok?" Silver asks with a hand on her right shoulder. "You're rarely quiet." It's not like he's worried or anything, nope.

"Yeah, I'm just taking all of this in." Kris sneaks her right hand over her heart. "Asking that was sweet of you."

Silver's body slightly jerks backward, his eyes widening and his fist clenched. "Uh...fine with me."

May as well check out their surroundings more. A flock of Starly perch atop one of many trees in front of the museum, they seem to be enjoying themselves. Here comes a few Staravia and a giant Staraptor that startles a few people. The museum's parking lot is packed like Kris's walk-in closet. Can't even walk into that thing without stepping on one of her fifteen pairs of footwear.

Oh for the love of Lugia, why is Kris drumming her hands on his right arm? Why the sudden change in demeanor? More importantly, why is it always him? Why can't she drum her hands on somebody else for a change?

"Isn't this museum super cool?!"

Silver tilts his head northwest, his hands in his pockets. He's not saying it was the aliens that brought him here, but it was definitely the aliens that brought him here.

What idiot would think that he actually ate lunch with Kris and went to this museum with her? Gladion doesn't count. King Edgethur had the nerve to imply that he's too nervous to cook a meal for her.

Kris bops Silver's forehead. "Say something, you nincompoop."

Silver rolls his eyes, grumbling, "I just HAPPENED to be in the area."

One palm on her forehead, the other on her hip. "Your lack of an answer proves that I'm waaay out of your league, buddy."

The only way he can fix this is by wearing that purple suit and going to a ballroom dance with her. That would be sooooo awesome and romantic! Classical music playing in the background, a totally realistic image of Silver taking her hand and entering like they own the place! Silver's also wearing a tuxedo for good measure, she's wearing an elegant dress from the early twentieth century.

"Good, I prefer it that way."

Noooo fair, he ruined her fantasy! Her arms are folded, her eyes are narrowed towards him, and her lower lip's puffed out. Why can't he be a gentleman for once?! She'll get too shy if she asks him directly!

"Humph, as if that's going to negate the L you just took." A flash of inspiration causes him to deviously grin. "If I'm out of your league, why are you here with me?"

Kris yelps, her face burning up. Her words come out a jumbled mess of murmurs. She clasps her hands behind her back, casually whistling like nothing just happened.

"You can dish it out but you can't take it, huh?"

"Shut up, nincompoop."

Murmurs about Le Moissonneur Noir's return to the contest stage are spreading among the other visitors, several pointing out that his mother's the director. Silver can't help but smile, but he looks away when Kris giggles. The banter causes a middle-aged woman to chuckle as she walks outside.

"Welcome to the Calvanian Museum of Art."

That authoritative voice is all too familiar to Silver. He smiles and waves, it's been a while since he's seen Valen's mother in person. Her shoulder-length black hair is tied in a ponytail, and her dark blue suit jacket and blouse attract the attention of Kris. Typical of her, even when it's the person she wants to be like.

"I don't want to wait any longer!"

Kris hops into the museum, giggling at how slow Silver's walking. She marvels at the sight of the opulent ornate walls, the powerful presence making it feel like a king lives here. Even the lobby's furniture is grandeur—they're among the original furniture from when this was a palace.

Look at how well the ornate patterns on the upholstery of the sofas and chairs, the frames finished in exaggerated decoration! The legs of every desk carry that same style of ornamentation. Can't forget the pedestal feet on all of the furniture! Definitely a proper Kalosian Baroque interior!

"Why don't you take a look around?" Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti raises a brow at Kris' uncertain expression. "Something wrong?"

"Um...professor...are you sure?" Kris sheepishly smiles, rubbing the back of her blue hair. "I'm sorry, I just thought I'd be working-"

"It's not work if it's fun." Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti chuckles. "That's what my grandfather likes to say."

"You mean Roberto Beauchêne?"

"That's correct, he's one hundred and four years old and still writing."

While Kris and Valen's mother talk, Silver ponders about Valen's great-grandpa. Valen describes him as a badass, and rightfully so. That man still writes and drives, not to mention he has distinguished careers as an art historian and a pro trainer.

"Aren't you going to say something?"

Since it's the professor who asked that, he will. Kris is watching him like a Talonflame because she can't handle the truth.

"Feel free to take her off my hands, Mrs. Barsotti." He shoves his hands into the pockets of his black pants. "Need a break."

"I'll try my best," she jokes. "But my husband and I know about you two already."

Kris and Silver show off their synchronized jaw-dropping routine. How do his parents know about-they're just friends. They're not blushing over that reason.

"Don't underestimate a mom who's on the 'gram."

Silver forgot what Kris now realizes: Valen's love for trolling came from his parents. It should be obvious they find each other annoying. Why would they date each other? That will never happen, not even in a million years.

Kris should take the professor up on that offer—to the Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo sculptures she goes. It would take more than a few visits to fully examine everything, that's why she didn't get a chance to see these sculptures last time.

As she makes her way down the awe-inspiring collection, she muses about one in particular she wants to take a closer look at. Look at how many people are here, taking in the marvelous figures that range from kings to legendaries. It warms her heart to see art bringing people from all backgrounds together. That's the beauty of art.

There's a huge crowd of people surrounding the largest sculpture present, and it's easy to see why. That's the one she wanted to see the most.

Her legs tremble as she enters the Bernini room and approaches the center, her eyes fixated on the achingly lovely piece. The power of this piece is like a Force Palm to the soul.

"It's...incredible...I've wanted to see the original for so long." Her body tingles all over, her eyes slightly watery. "And now I'm actually...seeing it up close...and personal...Gianluigi Bernini's masterpiece."

In their chats, Valen said that Bernini's his favorite sculptor. One look at this is enough of a reason why. No matter what angle she stares at, the emotional ump of The Anguish of King AZ is the same. It's coming alive in her mind, it's like she was actually there.

The drapery-like flow of the white marble used is smooth. AZ's incised eyes look like tears are about drip from them. The king's anguished stare and gaping mouth connect with the agonized stare of his sad Floette, who floats over his palms. Underneath AZ's feet is a small portion of a rocky graveyard of withered flowers. It's a symbol of how a devastating loss drove a generous king into a state of insanity and tyranny.

She can even imagine the king's anguished cry and the sorrow dripping from the eyes of both him and his Floette. How did Bernini do it? How did he make marble twist and dance in ways that defy the laws of nature? Not even even Michelangelo could could've done this.

Here comes Silver and the professor but they're not alone. Valen took his time getting here, but Rosa and Hilda did warn her that he can be a bit of a Slowbro. Why they didn't bop him into running faster is a mystery.

Valen approaches her with his right hand out. Without hesitation, she accepts the handshake and they briefly embrace. He loves hugs so why not thank him with one? Friends can hug each other too.

"Now I fully get where you're coming from." Kris closes her eyes and sweetly smiles. "Nobody but Gianluigi Bernini could've done this."

"Told ya so."

Looks like Valen and his mom have something they need to discuss. She'll let them be and return to marveling at additional pieces the Baroque's version of Michelangelo created, such as Salamence Atop a Rock and his version of Trainer.

"We've managed to make a good amount of space for Ancient Unova and Ancient Calvana within the classical art section," Professor Beauchêne-Barsotti tells her son. "The organization's been up to par with the other big museum but I wanted to raise the standard even higher."

"Need any help?" he asks. "You've still got a lot to put on display."

"You've already done a lot, honey."

Hilda and Rosa pat him on the back. He kisses them on the lips, then his attention turns towards Silver and and Kris.

Why does Silver seem a little bit hesitant to say anything? What's so confusing about Kris gushing over the second version of Michelangelo's Trainer? Has he never seen anyone gush over a wonderous work of art without the work directly in front of them? Trainer is a glorious rendition of the human form and a beautiful resurrection of classical antiquity, meticulously crafted for a patron beyond enthralled by the first.

He wants to check out the original Salamence Atop a Rock by Gianluigi Bernini-did Silver just admit that he doesn't know who Michelangelo Bellincioni is beyond the name? Yep, that's why Kris has her fists on her hips. She's glaring at Silver like he forgot the milk. He can't blame her, this ding dong seriously doesn't know about Michelangelo? That's not living under a Boldore, that's living under an alpha Golem.

Even Gladion knows who Michelangelo is. Freaking Gladion. Both are good friends of his, but Ding Dong #1 and Ding Dong #2 are why he started saying "y'all are stupid." He wanted to smack them countless times as a teenager—those two were so damn petty towards each other. That's why he preferred hanging out with Plumeria.

Kris and Rosa are now huddling, trying to keep their giggling subtle. Big tough Silver's going to be put to the test, and it won't be Rembrandt's Darkrai Lurking this time. …Does Silver even remember that Rembrandt is the most represented painter in the museum?

That flick to the back of his head can only mean one thing. About time she showed up but she was kicking a lot of asses in battle. Acceptable reason.

"Found you." Melanie winks with a teasing smile. "Thought you could escape me, hm?"

"You said that you were in the area." Valen shrugs, his grin lopsided. "You'd turn up eventually."

"Fair enough, it's more fun this way." Melanie pats Valen's back so hard that he's slightly pushed forward. "I'll be checking out the vintage poster collection on the third floor, but I'm coming over later."

"You're always welcome at the crib."

Kris is also welcome to come over, but he'll tell her that later. He's gotta wait until after she's done giving Silver a lecture on what a nincompoop he is but it's a lecture Silver had coming.

It's also rude to interrupt a great lady—Silver can't hide how much he loves having Kris around.

Baroque was the first art movement Valen learned about, so he likes to browse these works whenever he's in the area. It was the second art movement Rosa learned about, but it was the first she attempted to paint in the style of.

Among the four hundred and ten Baroque paintings housed here are works by all five titans: Domingo Velázquez, Marcantonio Matteo da Caravaggio, Rembrandt Aendriessen van Remis, Sir Patrick Pierre Rubens, and Neville Poussin. Each one has their own room among the one hundred and fifty rooms located in this structure. Room or corridor, the display location is moot. What matters is that the art can be seen by the millions who visit each year.

The two Wilfred Dobson portraits have been moved, they're now next to the portraits by his favorite Vlaandish painter, Sir Arnold van Dyck. He expected that because they came from the collection of Samuel Kors, Wallace's late grandpa. The museum was trying to figure out how to organize when he visited it with Rosa that day—they had recently acquired a sizable chunk of the collection.

He's had the pleasure of meeting Samuel at this museum before. He was a great connoisseur and collector who frequently loaned what he had for the greater good, a trait that his kids and grandkids inherited. Wallace's grandfather was nighty eight years old but it's still sad. A granduncle from his mom's side passed away at the same age, so it hit close to home.

The isles are packed with people but that's common. A couple of the visitors recognize. him, so he greets them with a wave and a smile. That's what his departed family members, both people and Pokémon, want. He can feel their spirits, they're always with him and his team.

The museum allows pictures without flash, meaning Rosa and Hilda already taking pictures. Two living Renaissance masterpieces surrounded by masterpieces. They've been noticed too, that's why they're combining waving with Agility. A few fans are joining them in the photos, as per usual. The older folk among the crowd look pleased, a few are whispering that it's great to see the younger generation into art. Several other visitors are relaxing in leather armchairs, which can be found in every aisle.

Rosa bops Valen's right cheek twice, that's all he needs to know where she wants to go. At one of the several right angles within this corridor, they walk into what was once a baby's bedroom. It's been the home of two large Velázquez paintings for over hundred and fifty years.

Specifically, Rosa wants to see Two New Trainers and Portrait of Doña Rosa de Loriguero y Çavallos. A gentleman like himself can't say no to a lady like her, plus he's a big fan of Velázquez, the leading Paldean Baroque artist. Faustino de Zurbarán's grim paintings of AZ mourning his Floette and AZ preparing to fire The Ultimate Weapon can also be found in this room.

From furniture with ornate decorations to dozens of classical sculptures, the opulent interior of King Jerónimo II's palace full display in Two New Trainers, which was painted in 1656. It depicts the king's grandson and granddaughter receiving their starters. In front of the former is a Sobble, while a Chespin held in the latter's arms. Two members of the royal court, both uncles, are present too. One carries a tray of food for the kids and their new friends, his Ursaring providing assistance. Another adjusts his fancy attire while advising the kids, his Alakazam meditating near his feet. The clothing consists of various doublets and dresses of the time.

Velázquez inserted his Nidoking, his Nidoqueen, and himself into the work. He's the figure with a thick mustache and black clothes standing to the furthest right of the king's grandchildren. Nidoking and Nidoqueen stand in front of him, their gazes darting towards the two starters. The light sources are three windows at the top right, center right, and bottom right respectively. These windows are only halfway visible, the light beaming down upon the occupants diagonally. Not only are they the closest to the viewer, but the light makes sure that the focus is on them. The rest of the background is dimmed in a style similar to Caravaggio.

Time for the portrait of the first champion to employ Velázquez as league painter. He also became a court painter for her brother, King Jerónimo II. Painted in 1624, the same style of background is present. The champ's wearing an elegant dark green dress, her serious gaze eye level with him. Her left hand grips the top of a wooden chair, and her Malamar smugly glares at the view while hovering in front of her right arm.

Rosa bops his left cheek twice, which means it's time for Caravaggio's work. Eleven different Caravaggio paintings are hanging on the walls of a former study. Out of this room they go, straight ahead is Ragulian Baroque.

Silver and Kris are already in the room and the former looks like that painting threw a brick at his emotions. He can't stop staring at AZ's Floette, like he wants to grab it and yank it to safety.

"This painting's brutal, and that's coming from me."

Kris rests a hand on Silver's shoulder. "I've felt the same way countless times."

Not even Silver can withstand the brunt of a Caravaggio. A Caravaggio utterly shreds your personal comfort zone, daring you to turn away from the raw bombardment it inflicts upon your emotions.

As a result, Caravaggio's The Battle of Geosenge has hit people in the feels since 1604. Unlike other paintings that depict this infamous clash, this one depicts the very moment Floette ran in-between the clashing armies.

An explosion of dramatic lighting bursts from the left, leading the viewer's eyes to the close-quarter, chaotic scene. The background of the work is enshrouded by complete darkness. Floette's tear-filled eyes peer into his soul, her mouth twisted in anguish. She narrowly avoids the spears and xiphoses in this sea of gleaming dark armor, splotches of a soldier's blood dripping onto the flower she's holding. She's caught in the middle of an inventible collision between an Aggron's Flash Cannon and a Rhyperior's Hyper Beam. It's like freeze-framing a movie milliseconds before a tragic moment.

On the left are five of AZ's men in a somewhat phalanx-like formation. Across from the are seven of Didicia's men in a similar formation, but more are implied to be lurking in the depths of darkness. One of the Didicians soldiers drags a wounded comrade out of the conflict, while a Tumulian soldier fights on while pinned down. Look at the popping veins in their eyes, look at the glares lusting for execution. How about those large scowls and the crushingly clenching teeth emitting hatred? They don't even bat an eye at the wild Yanma that's too injured to escape being caught up in a Magcargo's Overheat and an Electivire's Thunder, but a Machamp yanks it away just in time.

There are no heroes and there's no heroism. There is only the gritty brutality of warfare but it looks more like a street brawl tucked under the blanket of an ominous night sky.

"I use the phrase turn 'painting into theatre' a lot, but there's no better way to summarize the verisimilitude of Caravaggio's style."

"It's on the nose," Rosa adds, patting his back. "It's truly a Homeric or Shakespearean tragedy in painting form."

Hilda's eyes meet Floette's gaze. "I'm there, watching the chaos unfold."

Another chaotic moment is depicted in Caravaggio's The Usurping of King AZ. Same lighting, same background, but perhaps there is a hero here? General Adonis managed to save many lives from the corrupted king, but he felt that AZ had to be deposed for good.

The grandeur palace is being besieged by the rebel forces, the dramatic lighting encompassing the entirety of the palace's front grounds. The battle-hardened general and his legion have their xiphoses out, ready to slaughter the king for the sake of their people. The general's Pangoro dispatches AZ's guards with ease, tossing them like ragdolls. One can easily imagine hearing terrified screams from their gaping mouths. Another legion, led by Cyrillus and Tecton, clashes with more guards on the furthest left end of the front grounds.

Near the bottom right corner of the canvas is the king himself. Once a generous king who ruled over the most powerful empire, AZ's descent into tyranny has relegated him to a man wearing raggedly clothes. Tecton's Talonflame and Cyrillius' Hitmonchan are the closest in location to him but they're too busy dispatching the relentless guards to notice the suspicious character.

"Nobody depicted the brutality of ancient history's most infamous string of events better than Caravaggio," Rosa comments, her eyes unable to move away from General Adonis' grim expression. "He's not proud of his actions, neither is Cyrillus nor Tecton."

Far less chaotic but far more mysterious is Caravaggio's The Calling of Pokémon Battles. Instead of an arena or a grassy area, the setting's a dark tavern within Siscia City. The dramatic lighting here enters through the window in a diagonal angle, but a good portion of it is blocked by the shutter. The rest of the light bounces off of a wooden table's surface.

On the furthest right is a scowling trainer with a Haxorus, the robe over his head obscuring most of his eyes. The darkened background obstructs most of his figure but the way his head's tilted indicates direct eye contact with the sitting trainer he's pointing to. That trainer's pointing to himself with a stern expression, as if to say "you've got the nerve to challenge me?"

The two boys in front of the trainer are dressed in black and white linen shirts respectively. The boy closer to the viewer leans forward with an eager expression, the other boy leans backward with a startled expression, and the two older men behind the trainer the back count coins. Or so it seem—a closer look will reveal that the older men are nervously watching the sitting trainer's Hydreigon. The three-headed dragon's tucked away behind the chairs but the soul-piercing glares of both dragons are eye level to the viewer.

"Who do you think would've won?" Hilda asks. "Those dragons look tough."

"I, the cutest and prettiest Unovan trainer, has a Hydreigon." Rosa crosses her arms and tilts her head back. "What do you think, Expert Noob Hilda?"

Hilda waves her hand in a playful, dismissive manner. "Girl please, you can't top me."

"The correct answer is both," Valen adds. "Fair?"

"If it makes you happy, then yes." Rosa and Hilda bop his forehead. "We're The Unovan Queens after all."

Crazy wholesome minds, always being the brightest stars in the sky. Back to Caravaggio they go.

Painted in 1594, Hoopa and The Cardsharp is one of the artist's earlier works. Two young guys are sitting and playing a card game. An older man with a Slowking eyes the hand of the card player further away from the viewer. He's rubbing his beard as he cocks his brow, his forehead wrinkled. Said player wears a musketeer hat and a green shirt, he's taunting his opponent with a smug grin. His Haunter mimics his facial expression.

The card player closest to the viewer has his back turned, and he's donning a gold doublet and blue shirt. A devious Hoopa's hovering closely but discreetly, it's sliding two playing cards into his pocket. With a scowl on his face and his eyes narrowed, the player reaches into his pocket for the cards.

Right of that work is another early work, Meloetta and The Four Musicians. Painted in 1595, it's the only Caravaggio depicting happiness in any form. Three of the boys are content with their situation as they playing a lute, a lyre, and a harp. The fourth boy's the closest to the viewer and he's facing away. He's holding a paper with what's presumably the song lyrics. Two Meloetta, one Aria Forme and one Pirouette form, dance in-between the four. The room's pretty cramped, but they don't seem to mind. The light highlights the faces of the four boys and the full figures of both Meloetta.

Time for The Raging Sea, The Rumbling Land, and The Roaring Sky. These were painted in the year 1611. the light and shadow varying between the three. All three have the same darkened backgrounds as The Battle of Geosenge, The Usurping of King AZ, and The Calling of Pokémon Battles.

The Raging Sea contains the least amount of light, which is fitting for the setting. The murphy depths of the raging ocean provide a cloak for the titan of the oceans. Its glare emits anger, it looks ready to sink its sharp fans into any opponent, and it's positioned right in the viewer's face. Its shadow is reflected off of several bubbles, protrudes deeper into the unknown.

Lava oozes and bubbles like slime in The Rumbling Land, it's the source of the light that illuminates Groudon within this cavern. This painting uses the most light of the three, Groudon's shadow blending in with the background. The focus is the dimmest at Groudon's feet, but it brightens up until it reaches the giant's intimidating glare and clenched teeth, which is clear as day. Groudon's looking down with its arms extended sideways, its palms fully facing the viewer.

Even though The Roaring Sky does contain sunlight, giant gray clouds heavily conceal most of it to keep the tenebrism. Despite being in the middle, the light usage's closer to The Raging Sea. Rayquaza's shadow appears on several of the clouds. Its menacing, narrowed eyes are eye level to any adult of average height, its jaw wide open. It's like he can hear the dragon roaring. Hopefully, it's secretly a nice roar and Rayquaza just wants some cupcakes.

Hilda's got prints of these three in the agency's main headquarters. Groudon's her favorite one, her summary of it being "come at me, bro."

Kris and Rosa are huddling with Hilda. Guess it's time to lay the trap. He clearly doesn't know about any of this, so Silver shouldn't ask him anything. He wants in on this, so he taps Silver's right shoulder.

"I already know." Silver holds his head up high, smugly closing his eyes. "Watch this."

His hands are in his pockets as he strolls past Kris. It's time to impress her, let's see what this-what the fuck is going on in that painting?!

Silver's face resembles that of the terrified boy depicted in the artwork. Since when does casually having fruit and wine result in somebody having Kadabra hands?! Why does his head look half-human and half-Kadabra?! Why does the background have to be so ominously dark, why is all of the light focused on the mutating guy?! It's like he's actually there, witnessing this horrifying transformation with his own two eyes!

"Caravaggio's Boy Turning Into Kadabra." Kris sneaks a hand behind her to high five Rosa. "Your new favorite, I presume?"

Silver groans like the world's grumpiest Slaking. "Don't be a wiseass—I was just pretending to be scared."

His attempt to look away results in a jolt, his jaw-dropping again. Oh for the love of Lugia, those Caravaggio paintings of Kyogre, Groudon, and Rayquaza are here too. Those are absolutely terrifying—he's actually visualizing them coming towards him! He'd rather not be in the same room with any of those three!

"Surprise, nincompoop." Kris places her hands on her hips, her grin smug and her eyes narrowed. "I knew you forgot."

"Roar, Kris used Encore." Rosa giggles, leaning towards Silver. "Come on, impress your crush."

Hilda mimics Rosa's gesture on the other side. "The BW Agency's organized a few weddings in the past."

Tee-hee, big tough Silver's trying to shield his blushing, and bad boy Valey's casually walking out of the room!

"I'll be on the other end, kay sweetie?" Rosa sweetly smiles, pointing behind her. "I want to check out the Rubens and Poussin paintings."

Oooh, no words! Just looking back and raising a hand to acknowledge her words, such a baaad booooy!

If Sliver wants to ask Valey about their glorious trick, he must venture further right to the Jasper Vermeer paintings! That means standing across from the room that houses the original Gengar on the Prowl and Darkrai Lurking by Rembrandt Aendriessen van Remis!

Valen halts and looks back with a devious grin. "Have fun with your girlfriend, Silver."

Rosa and Hilda cover their mouths, their cheeks puffing out with contained laughter. One look at Kris and Silver says it all, they refuse to acknowledge the other's presence.

Hilda rapidly strolls toward him, but he intentionally doesn't stop. The ensuing cheek bops are deserved, but he'll give her a noogie in retaliation soon enough. They acknowledge works by other Baroque artists, such as Salvatore Rosa, Agostina Gentileschi, Catherine Peeters, and Jorien van Ruisdael.

And there's the Rembrandt room. Will the ladies introduce Silver to Tundra in Darkness, Misfortune Forest, or March of the Banette next? Those three paintings are what Hilda's checking out. That mischievous smile indicates their minds are synchronized.

Eighteen Rembrandt paintings lurk within that former guest room's walls, and half of them are feature the artist's signature, eerie style of Pokémon portraiture or landscapes with Pokémon. Most of the eighteen came from the collection of Bartholomew S. Stone, one of the nineteenth-century's most famous trainers. That's where half of the fourteen works by Rubens came from too.

He'll check out the Vermeer paintings, which are a rare sight. Less than fifty authentic works are known to survive, and the five in the museum's collection are the only ones in Calvana. At least, they're the only ones that have been confirmed. Art historians have been on the prowl for Vermeer's Woman with a Boltund and Caravaggio's Descent Into Insanity, both rumored to be stashed somewhere in Angel City.

First up is Man and Woman with an Eevee from 1665. The name speaks for itself, a young man's cutting fruit for an Eevee sitting on its hind legs. A young woman's placing a bowl of milk in front of the grinning Pokémon. There's a window that can barely be made out, the light bouncing off of the edge of the wooden, table and the Eevee. A large jug's positioned further away on the table, the top lining up with the painting's midpoint.

Next up is View of Delftstad from 1600. Vermeer captured the Gothic architecture around the city's harborside with a magnificent level of realism. Everything from the ornate decorations with Druddigon reliefs and sculptures to pointed arches was carefully added to each building. The city's large arena is smack dab in the middle, the giant stained-glass windows depicted so intricately that they've got the exact patterns. The rising sun, the buildings, and the thick puffy clouds are reflected in the sparkling water, as are various boats and several Lapras.

Closest to the view is a glimpse of the quaint countryside, the foliage seemingly dancing in the wind. A few people and a herd of Galarian Ponyta are scattered within it, their gazes fixated on the city that lies across the waterway separating the area.

The Astronomer and an Alakazam, plus The Geographer and a Gallade, were loaned out for an exhibition in the Alkmaardam region. Last, but definitely not least, is Trainer with a Pearl Earring. This is Vermeer's most famous work.

His eyes meet the gaze of the girl depicted in the work. She's standing sideways with her head turned. Her lips are parted halfway and her expression's one of calm and curiosity. There's definitely an aura of confidence to her as well. The Glaceon earrings gleam like stars, and their details were captured perfectly. There's a smiling Eevee sitting atop her head, and the background's pitch black.

Fond memories of learning about Vermeer flood Valen's mind. His late granduncle was a leading expert on the artist's work. His late granduncle was a film director and a big fan of the artist. Dedicating his essay on Vermeer to their memory was the right thing to do.

After the Alkmaardian Golden Age works, a large lounge area that's packed with seating and tables greets him and the balls of fluff. There's quite the crowd as well, but that's normal for one of most-visited museums in the world.

Kris is with his mother and Silver's on the second floor. Melanie's checking out the gift shop. That leaves him, the crazy wholesome minds, and another ocean of paintings. A docent's leading a group straight ahead and to the right, disappearing into the Classicism, Romanticism, and Realism section. A second one's leading people into the section left of that, and that's where the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works lie.

The lounge itself is where most of the Rococo paintings are displayed, but Rococo rose from the Baroque. Baroque originated in Ragulia, while the Rococo originated in Kalos. Both regions, plus Galar are represented here. A number of visitors are in awe of the landscapes by Theodore Gainsborough and Gianni Canaletto, while others admire Gainsborough's elegant portraiture and Jacques Watteau's theatrical scenes.

The next destination for him and the crazy wholesome minds are the corridors and rooms housing the Renaissance & Mannerism paintings. All they need to do is walk straight ahead and over three hundred from the 1300s, 1400s and 1500s await. As per the norm, they have to be selective.

On one side of the Renaissance corridor is a room where two portraits of King Mordred VIII greet those who enter, courtesy of Heinrich Holbein the Younger. In the adjacent room. the greetings are from Jorgel van Eyck's Portrait of Gerent van Bruge and The Glory of Ghentstad. A third van Eyck painting, Madonna Xerneas, is currently on loan.

"You lead the way, sweetie."

"I'd like to start with start with Holbein's most famous work," he tells Rosa and Hilda. "The second of four portraits of King Mordred VIII, painted in 1537."

Walking into the former music room immediately places Rosa, Hilda, and him in view of the towering portrait. Two Dürer works and a Grünewald triptych accompany the Holbein portraits, the subjects of the first three being related to AZ.

Mordred, a man who amassed a gathering of uniquely colored Pokémon, has an alternative colored Dragapult hovering above his head. The smirking king relaxes in a lavish, grandeur throne with gold marquetry. He's wearing an intricate doublet finished in dark red, greeting the viewer with his bearded chin up high and his smile crooked in a smug fashion. Holbein's unfaltering and careful precision resulted in a depiction so vivid that you can feel the king's intimidating presence.

The second portrait of Modred VII, painted in 1522, depicts the king when he was in his early teens. Two notable differences is the lack of a beard and a more "childlike" face. Here, he's donning knight's armor and is riding atop an Arcanine. The sunlight directly beans down on his head, reflecting off of his armor.

"Tudor Galar was something else." Hilda's loved learning about world history and cultures ever since childhood. "I remember asking mom all about it while she was researching the king's sister."

"We should watch that movie again," Rosa proclaims with her eyes on Valen. "Maybe big boy over her should get me one of those gowns."

Valen blinks. "You have twelve and you haven't worn any of them in a while."

"I'll bring them out soon enough." Rosa winks and blows a kiss. "Historical films and plays are what I want to star in."

"Is that even safe when you're so gorgeous and adorable?"

"Don't make me blush in here, silly sweetie."

"Hehe, Val-Val knows how to get us."

Rosa and Hilda want to study the other two Holbein works, Portrait of Sir Endymion Beckett and Portrait of Jacob Cromwell. Valen heads to the adjacent room to check out the Jorgel van Eyck paintings but not before nodding towards Dürer's The Battle of Geosenge. It's a display of the infamous conflict that leaves you in awe but unlike the later depiction by Caravaggio, it stays behind the barrier.

The museum displays The Glory of Ghentstad with the wings open, and it's only one present that's a polyptych oil painting. Jorgel van Eyck painted two versions of this multi-panel painting, the first one's still in Ghentstad. These works have multiple panels and were almost exclusively reserved for major people, Legendary and Mythical Pokémon. That being said , other Pokémon and humans frequently appear in them.

The wide, rectangular panel in the center of the bottom row depicts a battle between Zacian and Zamazenta, the setting a lush grassy field. It's a friendly battle, as evident by their calm and collected expressions. When the polyptych is closed, it forms a scene of Zacian and Zamazenta overlooking villages from atop a cliff. The wings are slightly angled so the visitors can see this exterior detail.

The three tall, semi-arched panels contain three different images of Geret van Bruge's rival, Bertelmeeus van Ghent. From left to right, the depictions are of him in his late twenties, his mid-forties, and his early sixties. His clothes are the same in each: an ultramarine robe and a dark red chaperon. In two of them, his Inteleon's leaning against a wall behind him. In the center one, his Inteleon's riding his Latios. Each of the other panels are tall rectangles, all consisting of a prominent local trainer from the aforementioned city at the time. The elegant figure of Xerneas stands proudly in the background of each one.

Onto Portrait of Geret van Bruge from 1432. Atmospheric perspective is present—the furthest points from the viewer is blurry with weaker colors. The light's strongest under the chandelier, with additional bright spots indicating unseen sources. The legendary trainer's posture is straight and his face has a stern, unamused expression. A green robe is draped around him and he's got a matching summer hat. His Gardevoir and Gallade sit on red chairs to his right and left, his Arcanine near his feet. The reflections of van Bruge and his Pokémon can be seen within an ornate convex mirror.

The exceptional details, vivid realism, and "perfecting" the medium of oil painting makes van Eyck's work so influential to this day. This artist is why oil painting's been so popular and common for centuries.

Time for Raphael's The Ultimate Weapon and other works by the High Renaissance legend. Their slowly pace themselves down the slightly twisting corridor, eyeing works within each room they pass and the works on the corridor's walls. Just outside of the room with the fourteen Titian works is a lone Giorgione, a truly rare sight indeed. Not too far ahead are are four Ragulian paintings from the 1300s.

Once they pass and acknowledge works by other great artists, the large canvas comes into their direct line of sight. It's the biggest work in what was once a dining room. Ten additional Raphael paintings hang next to it, five to the left and five to the right.

Painted in the year 1502, the stupendously detailed scene is presented with a unsurpassed vividness that never ceases to get people in their feelings. Even amongst this gorgeous sea of imagery, it's not hard to see why The Ultimate Weapon is among Raphael's finest work.

The crystalline weapon pierces the blood-red sky, an ominous white beam slicing it in half. Xerneas can't bring itself to look up, the horrific sight of the desolate land is too much for the teary-eyed gazelle. A lively forest once stood here, all that's left are splotches of foliage and the decaying remains of trees. The details are so intricate that one can see the spots where Xerneas's tears have soaked the ground. Yveltal's up in the sky, the avian's eyes are narrowed and its mouth is gaping in horror. The front ends of its wings are facing Xerneas, does it desire to comfort it?

They can see the ruins of a town in the distance. Every single building is in tatters, some even shattered altogether. Besides the two legendaries, there isn't a single life form anywhere else in the painting. All gone, all lost, all due to a tragic loss in warfare.

Raphael was only twenty at the time but he stunned everybody. Pietro Vasari, author of the monumental Lives of The Great Artists, wrote that King Gianfrancesco VII and his guards "could not help but weep as they marveled at the grandeur and the minutiae. Raphael had imposed the beauty of his vivid artistic capabilities upon the ugliness of antiquity's deadliest calamity."

Eyewitness accounts backed Vasari's words up and millions have been hit in the feels ever since. Mom once told him that the most frequently question is "where is Raphael's The Ultimate Weapon?"

Rosa and Hilda want to take a look at Raphael's The Disputation of Animosity. They absolutely adore how it depicts Yveltal and Xerneas snuggling together like Eevee. The name was chosen to counter any notion of a bitter rivalry between the two. Next to it is Raphael's take on Xerneas kissing Yveltal's head, the most famous depiction of an iconic moment of classic literature.

All three of these works are major reasons why five centuries later, Raphael constantly ranks as the world's most beloved artist.

They didn't need to wait for him, but that's typical of Rosa and Hilda. Hilda's now gawking at Luigi Lotto's The Fabulous Umbreon. The gleeful Dark-type in that work is depicted trekking a hilly landscape, decked out in the finest jewelry of the era. Considering the fact that the other Pokémon in the painting are staring in awe, perhaps she's trying to help her own Umbreon another way to impress his Luxray.

Raphael's one of the three titans of the High Renaissance—Michelangelo and Leonardo also grace this room. Rosa's studying about the Michelangelo's The Creation of the Dragons, whereas Hilda's focused on Leonardo's Pokémon in Nature.

This will be it for the day, but they'll come back soon enough. If one has a passion for art, then one does not simply visit this museum once in a while.

Did you like the painting descriptions? Which one was your favorite? I feel that Identity and Rosa's Renaissance had good painting descriptions, but I think they've gotten even better in this fic.

What's your take on the Pokémon interactions so far? How about the worldbuilding and lore? Who won the banter battle between Silver and Kris in the second scene?

I've read that the number of Diego Velázquez paintings clock in at 110 to 120, but a book I have goes higher. The book does contain workshop paintings, lost originals, and unfinished paintings. The 110 to 120 probably means the works that he did all by himself. Compare that to about 300 by Rembrandt van Rijn and nearly 400 for Sir Peter Paul Rubens. Two New Trainers was inspired Velázquez's most famous work, Las Meninas. He was a court painter. The second painting was inspired by the painting Doña Antonia de Ipeñarrieta and Her Son Don Luis.

The inspiration for The Calling of Pokemon Battles was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's The Calling of St. Matthew. It's become my my favorite Caravaggio painting. Caravaggio chose to show less of Christ as he points at Matthew, who's pointing at himself. Boy Turning Into Kadabra was inspired by Boy Bitten By a Lizard and the Pokédex entries. The Cardsharps and The Musicians inspired the Hoopa and Meloetta paintings.

If you want to learn more about the real Caravaggio, I'd recommend watching a documentary called Power of Art: Caravaggio. The "street brawl" comparison stems from the said documentary. The host, Simon Schama, describes The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew as an assault in a back alley. Great Art Explained posted an excellent video on The Taking of Christ. Caravaggio: Master of Light by Nerdwriter1 is also a good choice.

For books, Caravaggio by Howard Hibbard, Caravaggio by John T. Spike, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon and Caravaggio: The Complete Works 40th Edition by Sebastian Schütze are great ones. Another good one is The Lost Painting by Johnathan Carr, which tells the story about how Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ was rediscovered. (The 40th refers to TASCHEN's 40th anniversary).

It took over two centuries for Johannes Vermeer to achieve a much bigger status, but he wasn't as unknown and underappreciated as one may think. Delft was his hometown, and View of Delft is a lovely piece of landscape painting.

Jan van Eyck didn't invent oil painting, but he was very influential in making it popular.

Hans Holbein the Younger was court painter to Henry VIII.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 5: What Lies Beneath

Hilda trots down a concrete sidewalk with her Umbreon, each step having a bounce to it. These classical-like buildings look awesome to her, that's one reason why the agency's headquarters is in this district. The stores and restaurants she passes are seeing decent business. She's got to check out the deli here eventually, word is that they can make a mean sub. Kris and Serena would love to check out the store that sells reproduction eighteenth century clothing.

The district does see a lot of traffic, but it's lighter than usual. Delivery drivers and a pair of Machoke are unloading a delivery truck across the street, the aroma of desserts can make anyone's mouth water. A pair of cool sports cars pass her, a bus comes to a loud halt a bit further down the block. A wild Kadabra tries to Teleport away, but a Haunter uses Disable to prevent it. The Kadabra pouts while the Haunter's sent into hysterics.

Hilda titters, remembering Silver's reaction to Caravaggio's Boy Turning into Kadabra a few days ago. He's never going to be out the woods.

She's been handing out more business cards than usual—the return of Le Moissonneur Noir has caused a surge in potential clients. There are those who may be put off by her style, but putting herself out there is how she brings more and more clients to the BW Agency. She's long since relinquished day-to-day management—she's got four people for that. She still partakes in it because it's both fair and fun.

…However, something keeps eating at her mind. Not to the point where she can't be her cheery self, but it's not something she can ignore. Is she focusing too much on the agency that she's neglecting her trainer skills? All work and no play makes for a dull day…but is she following her own advice? Would she even be ready to step away from the agency? There's still that big project. She wants to give a go, but it might be too big to pull off.

She's also come to learn about Valen being nervous before the contest, plus he looked worried about Rosa's goals. They're worried about him, but they shouldn't dwell because that would cause more worry. Just take it slowly and figure it out.

Multiple people have noticed her, perhaps they've been struck by the powerful energy that emits from her like a beckoning of fun. She waves like she's using Agility and soaks in their words with pride, said words ranging from how she inspires people and how fine she is.

That's right, keep telling the truth about her. One hand on her hip and out comes her phone. She turns her back to the camera and winks. Snap snap snap, snap all of the photos! Sorry boys, she may be drop dead gorgeous but you can't top the prince who swept her off of her feet.

"Fancy seeing you here, Hilda."

She halts, her mouth dropping halfway open. Wes is here with an Blaziken, they've just walked out of the local deli. She's come to learn more...that poor thing was forced to fight against it's will. Val-Val said after this Blaziken was purified, it felt awful about injuring him.

"Why do you look so surprised?" Wes asks. "Everybody knows who you are." He crosses his arms and presses his back against the building's wall. "He told me a lot about you too."

"Of course he did, he can't stop talking about Rosa and I." Hilda closes her eyes and runs a hand through her dark brown hair. "We're spunky stunners."

"Quite the confident one, are we?" He scratches his short, scraggy hair. "Reminds me of you-know-who."

Hilda's Umbreon approaches Wes and his Blaziken, her eyes happily closed as she greets them. Blaziken pats her head, while Wes reaches into his trench coat for a Poké Ball. He presses the button, out comes his own Umbreon.

"Heeeey, our Umbreon can be besties!"

"Maybe, he's a bit serious at times."

Wes' Umbreon does seem a bit broody, but he wastes no time in greeting her Umbreon. The former raises her paw, guess she's hoping for a high five. Yes, her Umbreon got one!

"I never got to explore this side of the city." He eyes the structures across the street. "Nice area, Gaton Port has a bunch of buildings that look similar to these."

Hilda nods, delighted that she ran into Wes. She doesn't know him super well but she's got a story to tell. One that might help him out. If he's friends with Valen, he's friends with Expert Trainer Hilda.

"When I saw you at the hall, I could tell that you've got regrets that weigh you down."

Wes grits his teeth, a feeling of contrite pounding his mind. Valen was injured in Orre because of his blunder. Valen make a full recovery physically but he was the one who wanted to go into that lab. It's his fault Valen got hurt yet nobody's shown him any animosity.


"Hey, are you okay?"

"….Yeah…I'm sorry—"

"Nobody holds anything against you." She caresses Blaziken's face, her smile sweet and considerate. "We hold nothing against you either."

He slowly lifts his head up, Hilda's words ringing within his mind. Those words made Blaziken happy...he feels better too. Hilda and Rosa must've been patient with Valen, just like Rui was with him.

"You know, regret once weighed down upon on me too." She faces the same direction as him, her hands clasped behind her back. "I once lashed out at everybody around me...the pressure had gotten to me."

"Seriously?" Wes gives her a wide-eyed stare. "You?"

"Crazy, isn't it?" Regret's visible on her face, her posture slack for a brief moment. "I hurt Val-Val badly but I learned from it."

"I suppose this is why you don't judge a book by its cover."

Hilda straightens out her posture, and her mouth morphs into a tender smile. "He made mistakes too, but I forgave him before he even knew it." She places her hands over her heart. "Because I love him, and Rui loves you." Her tender gaze meets his wide-eyed expression. "There's a brighter future for you too, I promise."

He takes a hard deep breath. "Thank you, Hilda." His smile's wide and clear. "I needed that"

"Anytime!" Hilda spins on her tiptoes. "I've got to get to the agency, but I hope we can get to know each other personally!"

"Before you go, quick question." He cracks a smirk, his eyes narrowed. "Does Rui still terrorize everybody?"

"She's a beast at Mortal Battle PvP, just like yours truly!"

"I meant in real life." Wes faintly chuckles. "Walking nightmare since day one."

"Hehe, you'll have to ask Silver and his future girlfriend that!"

"...Future...girlfriend?" Wes blinks, his voice lowered while Hilda's tittering becomes louder. "How does...what...who-"

"Hehe!" Hilda tilts her head leftwards. "Silver, more than meets the eye!" Her right fingertips are aligned with her silly grin. "Silver, softie in disguiseeeee!"

Wes stares into the sky, a flock of Staravia obstructing his view. He's becoming more perplexed by the second, because Silver doesn't look like the type of guy to have a crush…or does he?

Hilda spins again and begins to trot off, waving at him and his two Pokémon. His cell phone's already in his hand. Texting is the least he can do, so let's say hi to Rui. Less than ten seconds pass before Rui bombards him with a storm of grin emojis.

"Typical Rui."

Now it's time to text Valen about what he requested several days ago. Gotta practice because Rui can put her money where her mouth is.

He may be rocking Team Skull drip from head to toe today, but Valen's a gentleman to the core. His affability radiates around him, the gazes of several curious onlookers are fixated on him as he carefully places a bandage on a young boy's elbow.

Alright, the kid's patched up. He breathes a sigh of relief, rubbing his right forearm against his forehead. Poor kid's gotten separated from his older sisters and he tripped right in front of Gardevoir. It wouldn't be right to leave a little kid like that, it wouldn't make him a good role model for others. He's gotta use his notability for the greater good.

That candy bar he bought helped to make this kid's day happier. He can't make the world a better place, but he can make somebody's world a happier place.

"Be careful next time, alright?"

"I will, Mister Reaper," the young boy answers. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, but you can call me Valen." He points towards the bandage. "Valen the Reaper's the name I signed it as."

"Woah, this is awesome!"

Valen exchanges a fist bump with the kid. A pair of teenage girls appears in his line of sight, and the kid rushes to hug them. This sweet sight makes Valen feel a little fuzzy inside as he turns his body to face Gardevoir. Her arms are folded as she leans against the railing of a pedestrian bridge.

"It's nice to see the fruits of kindness, isn't it?"

Gardevoir nods and lets out a mellifluous cry. She couldn't be any more proud of him than she already is. The human child's now showing his sisters the signatures on the bandage, he's boasting how cool he is because of it. One sister immediately takes her cell phone out, while the other pulls out a pen and a notebook from a bag. Good taste, that notebook has her species on the cover. That human's got an awestruck Kirlia, whom she greets with another cry.

Her trainer's giving his autograph to one sister, and he moves closer for photos with all three siblings and the Kirlia. He gestures for her to join them, and she does so via Teleport. The bright lights of the phone's camera flashes three times. Afterwards, they partake in a group fist bump.

Valen waves bye at the siblings and Kirlia as they walk in the opposite direction. Before he can resume his stroll, Gardevoir gives Valen a peck on the top of his head. He tries to pat her head in response, but she won't lean forward. Rather, she folds her arms and cackles. Mischief like this is among joys of being significantly taller among her kind.

Antics turn into a second dosage of adoration when she caresses his right cheek. Now he can resume his stroll and look at these buildings for the umpteenth time.

Chatter surrounds Valen and her as they make their way towards the BW Agency. They're still talking about that contest and how elegant she looked. Seems that more than a few are still surprised over his return to the pro circuit and the contest stage. Others like his Team Skull jacket, he got it customized along with a shirt.

"I won't deny it, I'm a straight rider," he recites the words within the Team Skull logo on the jacket. "Shirt had to have similar words cuz I'm down to ride with both people and Pokémon."

There's a bunch of battle pictures from Rosa from earlier this morning, but he might as well look at the again. Hydreigon defeated a Dragapult, Eelektross and Serperior won against a Seviper and Pangoro, Aerodactyl soared to victory over a Gyarados, the list goes on. He's also gotten a text from Wes—he'll be meeting up with him for that battle tomorrow.

Another person just texted him and a placid smile appears as he reads the message. Making amends with that Gloria person and others has been going smoothly for Arthur. He's glad he could inspire somebody like that.

Oh? Why wouldn't she believe Arthur when he said that he met Le Moissonneur Noir in person? Sounds like teasing, but he can send proof if need be.

Rui's at Barberini Stadium, Kris is at the museum, and he'll get to see Skyla soon. How does he know this? Pictures, Skyla's sent everybody lots and lots of pictures. As for Silver...where exactly is the professional brooder? Did he enter a spicy food eating contest? Is his absence related to studying giant and terrifying prehistoric versions of existing Pokémon? Could he still be salty that Hilda smoked him five matches in a row in Pokéjustice: Destiny Deoxys? Kris was present for that ass whooping and Hilda texted Gladion about it.

"Make way for Expert Trainer Hilda, who's the antidote to dull days!"

When did she get here and when did she evolve into a Pidgeot? Seriously, she's trotting so fast that she looks like she's about to take flight.

"Hilda used Fly!"

Fitting choice, he silently chuckles. She just leaped onto his back, her arms encircling his neck.

"Heeeeeeey, you've got a new shirt!" Hilda folds her palms, her attention fixated on the works within the Team Skull logo. "'Ambitions as a Rider!'"

"About time you noticed."

Hilda lets him go and they high five each other. He reaches down to pet Umbreon, who happily licks his hand.

The two of them, plus Gardevoir and Umbreon, resume walking toward their destination. They would've gone with Rosa earlier, but Hilda had a rather peculiar matter to attend to. Something about a theme park. As for the big bad trainer, he went to pick up his new drip. He also ran into several art historians and connoisseurs and had a talk with them. Does he even need to tell anyone why?

Instead of going inside right away, Hilda's letting Valen study the BW Agency's main headquarters first. No such thing as too many times if it makes him happy.

The wide, three-story structure has ten columns in front of the first floor's deck, plus another ten in front of the second floor's deck. Four sets of windows, plus an stilted arched entrance placed exactly in the middle. Each set is composed of a semi-circular, arched window and two smaller, rectangular windows. Both the columns and the window sets have equal distances between each other. The center of roof has two massive sculptures, one depicting Ancient Unova's King Myron and the other depicting Ancient Calvana's King Tiberius.

This entire district, which came to be in the 1980s, reminds him of his upbringing. He was raised within a Neo-Classical style house that was originally built in the 1700s. From buildings hundreds of years apart to the The Pilgrimage being the quintessential Pokémon journey tale, the legacy of classical antiquity has stood the test of time.

Valen, Gardevoir, Hilda, and Umbreon stroll onto the pathway leading to the front door, but Hilda abruptly stops. Valen turns his body towards her, right when she takes a few steps forward.

Gardevoir folds her arms, her stern gaze focused on Hilda's worried expression. She's been suspecting something's going on, and Umbreon's looking rather concerned She'll fall back and allow their trainers to handle the matter. Umbreon's giving her a smile and a nod of agreement.

"Rosa told me that you were nervous about your performance, and that you looked worried for her." Hilda rubs his upper right arm. "We want to make sure you're okay."

"Oh...that." He sheepishly grins, his eyes closed as he rubs the top of his head. "Sorry about-"

"What you told her afterwards was really sweet," she interjects. "Never forget how precious you are to us, Val-Val."

Her warm, tender touch surges up his right arm, her fingers slowly interlocking with his. Her gentle gaze and loving countenance pierce his mind, evicting all tension from the premises.

"When the going gets tough, picture who you are and what you desire," she softly says. "Live each day to the fullest." Her lips lock onto his. "And never forget that Rosa and I are always with you in your heart."

Their lips are pressed together, they slowly take in each kiss. Time has stopped, the world around them is motionless when they kiss and are wrapped in each other's loving arms.

"I'm proud of you two."

"We're more proud of you!" She lets go of him and vice versa. "Make sure that smile stays on your face, because it's the best sight in the world!"

"How can it leave when I've got you two living under the same roof?"

Hilda's left hand hovers over her grin. "Good point." She grips his hand, tittering at his yelp. "All aboard the smile train!"

Apparently, he still has to blush whenever Hilda or Rosa grab his hand and yank him along. It's not even consistent, why can't he make sense?

His thought process is interrupted when Hilda nearly runs into the door. She backs up in an embarrassed panic, her back pressed against his chest.

He wraps his arms around her midsection, teasing, "I thought the days of being a klutz were over."

"Maybe I wanted you to catch me, hm?"

Valen releases her, earning himself a forehead bop. He looks towards his cackling Gardevoir and her snickering Umbreon and shrugs with an amused smile.

"Guess I wasn't supposed to do that."

The interior's painstakingly organized, she applied everything she learned about interior design from mom and him. The Kalosian armchairs are arraigned into twelve sets of four, a large rectangular table accompanying each set. The tables are made of ebony, a natural sheening wood with a rich black color and a smooth grain texture. Each table has BW Agency engraved within the center. The straight pathway in-between both sides leads to a circular desk. Within that circle are enclosed display cases with numerous ceramics.

Hilda's gone to greet the four people who handle day-to-day management, so he'll take another good look at the amazing buon fresco Rosa painted several weeks ago. Her work always makes his heart sing with pride awe, and it channels the aplomb of the Old Masters into the art history encyclopedia in the bookshelf inside of his head.

The bright blue's sky pierced by the orange glow of the setting sun, a shadowy effect tugging the landscape. Crobat, Aerodactyl, and Braviary soar above the mountain peaks, all three looking cocky. Salamence, Garchomp, and Hydreigon are slightly below, having claimed the tallest mountain peak for themselves.

Luxray and Umbreon are snuggling atop the lush grass, their eyes closed as they press their heads together. Venetian red was a good choice for the blushing. Gardevoir, Gengar, and Serperior are observing with euphoria, their figures slightly obstructed by berry trees.

The tranquil river lies in the center, the lines on each end seem to merge in the distance. The lines on the top and bottom of the mountain range has the same appearance. The long wall panel works well with the linear perspective.

The sunlight beams down on Milotic as it emerges of the water. Starmie flows with the water, Eelektross enjoys a Sitrus Berry near the riverbank. Golisopod's trying to look cool via spinning a large water sword, while Volcarona hangs out next to the Gothic-style building that's located near the base of the mountains. Emboar and Beartic take a nap around the corner from where Volcarona is, the protruding shadows of the building's extravagant spires bearing down upon them.

She's since named this Landscape with Pokémon Besties. Word spread about this marvelous, delineated work, and she's gotten three smaller commissions within the last two months. Hopefully, she gets an acting gig soon. As always, he'll be in the front row.

Hilda pops up behind him, startling him out of his analytical mode. She grabs both of his arms to prevent him from toppling over.

"Come on, the squad's waiting!" She makes him run with her into the outdoor lobby, tittering at his blushing. "The outdoor lounge area's bigger and the battlefields out back were turned into a miniature outdoor stadium!"

Gardevoir teleports herself, beating them to the punch. Gardevoir cackles while Hilda titters again, but he's too busy trying to figure out his inconsistent dorkiness for the millionth time. Umbreon's trying to egg him on by tapping her front paws on his right foot. It's adorable but it also doesn't really help.

The number of Kalosian armchairs and extended oval surface tables have significantly increased. Each armchair is plush, each table's got a support beam underneath in the center. Six legs are connected through the central support beam by smaller beams.

The walls that surround the outdoor lounge are lavishly decorated with buon frescoes, it's the end result of commissioning Rosa again, plus other frescoists, within the last couple of months. Rosa got to work with the modern iteration of the Calvanian Fresco School, including a descendant of the man who founded the original over four hundred years ago.

While Gardevoir and Umbreon greet the others, Valen notices that Rosa and Leaf have their eyes closed. They're pretending to be in a theatre play, much to the amusement of Melanie, Asgard, and Jacques. He's long since come to remember that Rosa's told him about her friendly rivalry with Leaf. Would they have a friendly rivalry as actresses too?

Rosa rests the top of her right fingers on her neck. "Once upon a midnight dreary, Rosa made a whole town cheery."

Leaf mimics Rosa's gesture. "How can Rosa make me cheery when I am weary?"

"Because it is frowning that I abhor."

"What happens if a party casts a bore?"

"Quoth the Rosa, nevermore."

She twirls in her seat, waving at Hilda and winking at Valen. Hilda gestures towards Valen, so she winks again with a finger on her lower lip. Tee-hee, she made him blush!

"Hehe, it's time to surprise him!" Hilda jumps, clasping her hands over her right shoulder. "He's going to love this!"

Valen greets everybody with a fist bump, but he's perplexed. What's going on here? What surprise do they have in store for him?

"Woo-hoo, surprise reunion!" Rosa tilts backwards and places her palms under her chin! "It's a bestie party, there's nothing like a bestie party! She should paint another bestie party in the style of Jasper Vermeer!

"Is anyone gonna tell me what's going on here?"

"You're the only person I haven't greeted yet, airhead."

Valen's eyes slightly widen, that sass-filled voice's ringing through his mind. She's right behind him, he just caught a glimpse of her short red hair! She's leaning against the door, her smile welcoming with a hint of pride. donning a long-sleeved crop top, straps with white buckles at the end, and boots. Dark blue clothes contrast her light blue shorts.

It's Skyla.

He can't contain his ear-to-ear grin, and Gardevoir tilts her head in Skyla's direction. He extends his arms out, inviting Skyla into a hug. Within seconds, her arms are around his neck. His hands caress her back, his right shoulder a pillow for her chin. The warmth of her embrace flows through him, his day has just been made.

"You didn't join the Unovan Elite Four just to vacation, did you?"

"Shut up, airhead." Skyla laughs, poking him on his nose. "I'm not that crazy." She places the tips of her left fingers on her forehead, her other hand on her hip. "But it's not crazy to say that I'm Unova's hottest pilot."

Classic Skyla, he thinks as he keeps an arm around her. All kidding aside, she earned her position in the Unovan Elite Four. It was harder for her to travel as a Gym Leader, but the Elite Four only needs to be present during the annual league conference season.

Commotion breaks out amongst those in the lobby, causing Hilda and her Umbreon to trot back inside. The name "Lisia" is making its way within the chatter, and sure enough, the performing arts star is running towards them.

Hold up, Hilda's already back? How's Umbreon still behind? Does having infinite amounts of energy cause people to learn Agility? In any case, he'll save his greeting for last to keep it a little bit "mysterious."

Melanie's sparkling eyes shows how much she adores Lisia's signature attire consists of blue clothing and white cotton puffs. In an interview with The Arts' Hub for their performing arts section, Lisia said that she wanted her outfit to match the appearance of an Altaria.

Lisia places a hand on her hip, holding her other hand sideways with two fingers sticking out. "Rosa and Hilda love this pose too!" she announces. "Work it, girls!"

Rosa and Hilda press their backs together and do the same pose. "Rain rain go away, the free smiles are here to say!"

Lisia's about to greet the others when she sees him. Eeeek, is this actually happening?! She rubs her eyes, she's not dreaming. Her favorite actor's actually here! This guy is so so so COOL in his movies, plus he's a great coordinator!

"Can I hang out with you?!" Lisia clasps her hands, her eyes dancing. "Pleaseeeeeee, Jacques?!"

"Of course, but don't think I'm easy to read."

"This is awesome!" Lisia holds a fist near her midsection, her other fist raised above her head. "And I prefer it that way!" She spins to face Melanie, Asgard and Leaf. "Contest Idol Lisia's in the hoooouse!~"

She high fives all three of them twice. Now then, it's time to approach the winner of the last contest she hosted. Not to mention that super cool and elegant Gardevoir. But this outfit is new to her. He looks classy in contests, but now he's bad to the bone. Let's see if he carries that mysterious vibe when casually out and about.

"Your real name's Valen, right?"

"Maybe it is, maybe it isn't." Valen shrugs, his grin lopsided and his tone finished with allure. "A gentlemen doesn't reveal his secrets so easily."

"Oooh, I'll have to work to befriend you too." Lisia's voice carries an amused tone. "You've got an aura of mystery outside of the spotlight too. Good thing mysteries are fun to solve."

Valen's back is pressed against the chair. "Maybe the mystery is that I'm not a mystery at all."

Lisia howls and squeezes her eyes shut. "Got me there!"

Valen and Jacques offers her a fist bump, which she accepts twice. This squad's so awesome, she hopes she can be a part of it! ...Or maybe she's already a part of it? Who knows!

"Kaaay, now it's time for serious business!" Rosa leaps out of her seat and twirls. "I've been in a battle mood, buuut my opponent wasn't here until now!" She announces, pointing at Hilda. "Let's see if she can defeat me!"

Looks like Melanie and Leaf want in, so be it. She'll team up with Melanie and give Hilda and Leaf a wham, a bam, and a pow!

"Girl please, I'll smoke you." Hilda scoffs, waving her right hand dismissively. "Better check yourself before you wreck yourself." Hehe, Umbreon's nodding because she knows it's true.

"Tsk tsk tsk." Rosa wags a finger, her other hand resting on her hip. "Had a spark when you started but now you're just garbage."

"Hehe, I'll prove you lost already!" Hilda jumps with her palms folded. "But battling is so awesome whether you win or lose!"

The bubbly, sass-filled conversation conceals Valen's incoherent grumbling. His arms are crossed, and his lower lip is slightly puffed out. Rosa and Hilda are going to be on opposite teams, who's he supposed to fanboy over now?

A nudge from Gardevoir makes him yelp. Oh come on, why are Rosa and Hilda gesturing that they'll pull his cheeks?! All he wants to know how he can fanboy over both-he's done it before. They always throw his mind into chaos, but in a wholesome way.

Hilda wasn't kidding, these battlefields and their surroundings kinda look like a pocket-sized version of Barberini Stadium. Fields can vary in size and shape, but this trio of wide, rectangular fields are large enough for just about any Pokémon to duke it out in. There's enough space for bleachers, but only this battlefield has bleachers fully set up. There's enough seating for the curious onlookers on the sidewalk and in the nearby plaza.

Rosa and Hilda look like they're about to do a recital. Melanie reaches inside of her blue jean jacket for a Poké Ball. Leaf's taking out a Poké Ball from her yellow bag, she's giggling over those two pretending to be serious.

Lisia's so eager to watch that she's jumpy. The cotton puffs above her hands are pressed against the bottom of her chin, slightly hiding her grin. He's read that she's not a battler outside of contests, but she still enjoys watching them.

Rosa positions her right hand sideways. She points with her ring finger and sticks her thumb out. "How'd it come to this, after all we've been through?" She narrows her eyes at Hilda, her mouth hanging open. "Two of a pair now on opposites sides."

Hilda's eyes glitter, her smile now a silly grin. "From the very start, it was zero or two!" She jumps, clasping her hands over her right shoulder. "Watched each other shine as we battled with prideeee!"

"We're always glued together, but now we have to fight each other!" They point and wink at Valen. "We'll both win in this cutie's heart!"

"I. Am. Not. Cute." Valen grumbles, crossing his arms. "False hypothesis based on circumstantial evidence."

Rosa and Hilda laugh at his reddening face and the playful nudges he's getting from Skyla and his Gardevoir. If that wasn't cute enough, Umbreon's patting him with her paws.

Rosa takes out a Poké Ball from her pink purse, while Hilda grabs a Poké Ball from her red bag.

Rosa and Hilda twirl, tossing their respective balls upwards. Rosa's Hydreigon and Hilda's Garchomp leap out, a thud echoing as the latter lands on his feet. The ground quakes from the shockwaves caused by their roars.

Melanie and Leaf hurl their respective Poké Balls into the air. Melanie's chosen her Dragonite, while Leaf's going with her Tyranitar. The former lets out a battle cry while flexing, the latter unleashing his own roar.

Upon seeing this sight, Gardevoir glances down towards her trainer's belt. She folds her arms, a lopsided grin appearing. Wait for it...wait for it...bingo. Salamence just let himself out of his ball. His head's already on their trainer's lap for pets.

She spots a crowd gathering, some stand while others take a seat. Start the show already.

"We'll kick things off!" Melanie announces. "Use Dragon Dance!"

Light blue covers Dragonite's figure, and he rapidly rotates like a top. The evanescent glow protrudes and swirls like a whirlpool.

"Hehe, we're going with Hone Claws." Hilda playfully winking and wags a finger, her other hand on her hip. "Gotta move fast with a Swift attack!"

Garchomp launches a storm of stars from his mouth, which pelt Dragonite and Hydreigon. They shrug it off, teasing Garchomp that he's making it too easy for them. Despite being on opposite teams, the three dragons share a faint laugh with Salamence and Gardevoir. Tyranitar's perplexed as to why Hilda's pose made that Valen human blush, but he's got a battle to win.

Rosa bends her elbows, tightening her fists to make punching motions. "Wham bam pow, this one's gonna shake your world!" She smirks over the dork's increasingly reddening face. "Here comes Hydreigon's Earthquake!"

Hydreigon brutally roars with all three of his mouths. White shockwaves awaken the ground, making it tremble while careening towards Garchomp and Tyranitar. The attack's intense, but they managed to endure it.

"Two can play at that game, Rosa!" Leaf bends her elbows and leans forward. "Use Stone Edge!"

Tyranitar slams his hands and tail into the ground, giant pillars of rock sprouting upwards. The rugged pillars converge onto Dragonite and Hydreigon at once, both yelping as they feel the brunt of numerous jabs.

"We'll join the fun with Brick Break!"

Garchomp's fins point backwards as he leaps into the air. He places his fins in front of him, and they become veiled by a red glow.

Rosa and Melanie press their backs together, their faces beaming with confidence.

"Dragonite, use Reflect and Earthquake!"

"Hydreigon's Ice Fang will cool you down!"

Despite the damage he just took, Dragonite's narrowly able to protect Hydreigon from Garchomp via a circular, yellow barrier. Garchomp's rapid barrage of strikes fails to shatter the fortified defenses.

Before Garchomp can fall back, Hydreigon chomps down on his right fin with his main head, his protruding fangs encased in an icy blue glow.

Hydreigon falls back and Dragonite slams his tail into the ground. A series of white shockwaves making it tremble in fear. Garchomp and Tyranitar wobble due to the tremors, but they remain upright.

"Tee-hee, hope this doesn't make you rusty!" Rosa twirls on her tiptoes. "Flash Cannon!"

Orbs of silver energy form inside of Hydreigon's mouths. He fires off three beams, which unite into one massive beam. Tyranitar's struck in the lower jaw, the armored bipedal staggering backwards. Digging his feet into the ground prevents him from toppling onto his back.

"It's time to duel!" Melanie and Hilda's tones carry fervor. "Use Dragon Claw!"

Dragonite soars in from above, his claws glowing white. Both Dragonite and Garchomp slam their glowing claws into each other, trying to push the other off-balance. Dragonite's movements resemble that of a karate master, each claw being blocked or weaved around by Garchomp. Garchomp rotates in a full circle, managing to land a blow to Dragonite's cream-colored underbelly. However, Dragonite manages to land his own blow to Garchomp's head, right where the star is.

Rosa bends her elbows over her shoulders and clenches her fists. "Use Hydro Pump!"

While Dragonite and Garchomp continue to engage in their claw duel, Hydreigon fires a torrent after torrent of swirling water towards the smugly grinning bipedal.

Leaf places her fists on her hips "Hee hee, catch us if you caaan!~"

Tyranitar attempts to weave around each one like it's an obstacle course. At first, he's successful. Left, right, up, down, they all missed. But Hydreigon's luck gets a boost when one of the attacks slams into the diamond on Tyranitar's chest.

Neither Dragonite nor Garchomp wish to throw in the towel, not when they can envision themselves clashing the big screen. The dragons repeatedly strike each other in the other's upper body, the skirmish resembling a boxing match with claws instead of fists. They slowly begin to back off when they began panting. They can't waste all of the fight they've got on this.

"You got lucky, but it'll run out soon enough!" Leaf jumps from side to side while makes punching motions. "Rock em and sock em with a barrage of Ice Punches!"

While Garchomp forces the other two dragons to block his attacks, Tyranitar's fists glows icy blue. He roars, stomping towards Hydreigon and Dragonite. He's seen humans partake in this ritual called boxing on the glowing box, so he's envisioning himself in a boxing ring. Weird name for something that's not a circle, but whatever.

Tyranitar attempts to strike both dragons at once, both narrowly evading each time. Just when it looks like he's going to land a blow, they veer in opposite directions at the last moment.

Tyranitar can't hold back in time, but Garchomp jumps out of the way. However, both are now within close range of Dragonite and Hydreigon.

Rosa wags a finger. "Tsk tsk tsk, use Hydro Pump."

Melanie rests her hands on her hips. "Cool em down with Ice Beam."

This time, the torrential stream of swirling water is joined by two smaller streams from Hydreigon's pair of smaller mouths. The main and right streams blast into the diamond-shaped section located in the middle of Tyranitar's chest. The left stream strikes Garchomp at the same time as Dragonite's frost white beam does.

Leaf jerks her body straight up. "Oh noooo, this wasn't supposed to happen!" Her right arm's positioned sideways in front of her.

"Aieeeeeee, they got the jump on us!" Hilda jumps backwards, her right hand over her gaping mouth.

"They won't get lucky again!" Leaf shouts, making punching motions "Here comes another Stone Edge!"

Another slam from Tyranitar's head and tail, the giant pillars of rock appearing in a circular formation.

"Brick Break!"

"Dark Pulse!"

Dragonite chops several pillars like a kung fu fighter, but other pillars land their mark and he's forced to land. However, the stream of pitch black circles that Hydreigon's repeatedly firing from his mouths shatter many of the remaining pillars.

"Grrrr, try this on for size!" Leaf fakes an angry expression, but cheerfully closes her eyes seconds later. "Hee hee, use Focus Blast!"

A light blue orb of energy between Tyranitar's hands. He throws it like he's a pitcher throwing a baseball.

Melanie crosses her arms and slightly tilts her head rightwards. "Light Screen."

Dragonite flies in front of Hydreigon, blocking the attack with a dense rectangular barrier that emits a bright yellow aura. Both dragons get pushed back from the attack's force, but the orb vanishes soon after.

"Seriously?!" Leaf yelps, a hand over her gaping mouth. "Talk about a twist!"

"Throw in a twist with Dragon Claw!"

Both of Dragonite's hands glow white again. He rockets towards both of his opponents, who attempt to evade. However, he's able to slash them several times.

"Tyranitar, Outrage!"

Tyranitar's eyes glow metallic black, an aura of the same color enveloping his figure. He roars, then runs towards Hydreigon at a breakneck pace.

"It's your turn to catch us, Leaf!" Rosa giggles and does a twirl. "Hydreigon, strut your stuff!"

Hydreigon narrowly avoids slash after slash, but Tyranitar does manage to get in several strikes. Hydreigon grunts, but he keeps narrowly avoiding. blows.

The torrent of slashes isn't letting up, Hydreigon's movements resembling that of a stunt driver trying to avoid obstacles in a performance. Eventually, Hydreigon falls back while Tyranitar begins to wobble around, leaving the armored bipedal wide open.

"Use Water Pulse!"

Dragonite's body glows a deep blue, a swirling vortex of waves appearing around him. A hard flap of his wings to send the water spiraling in all directions. The waves grow larger, the bellow as they bear down upon Garchomp and Tyranitar.

"Ice Fang!"

Once more, the fangs in Hydreigon's main mouth extend and glow icy blue. Hydreigon lunges for Garchomp, sinking his fangs into the bipedal dragon's left arm.

"Throat Chop!"

The fans within the smaller mouths glow purple. Hydreigon's smaller mouths clamp down on both of Garchomp's arms.

With Tyranitar out of commission for now, Hilda will make sure they can't land a blow. "Use Poison Jab!"

Garchomp's fins glow purple. His eyes are shut and his teeth are clenched, but his other arm's still free/ He knocks Hydreigon away by slamming his right fun into the six-winged dragon's smaller heads, following it up with his left fin. Garchomp leaps into the air and dives down, performing a midair spin in the process. He pummels Hydreigon with strike after strike, purple bubbles seeping out of an evanescent aura encasing Hydreigon's body.

"Let's go, Garchomp!" Hilda screams, her eyes carrying an inner glow. "Swift!"

Before Dragonite's got a chance, both dragons are pelted with a storm of dark blue stars. The damage is minimal, but it inconveniences them enough for another super effective attack.

"Dragon Breath on both!"

"Dragonite, use Ice Beam!" Melanie's tone is a tad panicky. "Hurry!"

As Hydreigon pulls himself together, he's blasted by a foggy, dark blue beam that Garchomp's fired from his mouth. A frost white beam is heading towards him, but Garchomp evades it like a race car on the track. He leaps over Dragonite's second Ice Beam, launching another foggy beam. It strikes the yellow-orange dragon on the right side of his head.

Melanie's surprised at first, but a smile appears moments later. "It wouldn't be any fun if it was easy."

Both dragons cope with the damage, while Tyranitar shakes his head. He's finally snapped out of his confusion. He fiercely glares at Dragonite and Hydreigon, roaring to announce that he's gotten it together.

Leaf breathes a sigh of relief. "Focus Blast!"

"Dragonite, counter with Brick Break!"

Dragonite attempts to stop Tyranitar, but Tyranitar's able to launch another light blue orb.

"Let's join in with a Dragon Pulse!"

Rosa wags a finger. "Knock Focus Blast into Garchomp."

The poison infliction's taking its toll on Hydreigon, but he's able to swing his tail to intercept the orb. It goes flying into Garchomp's mouth, preventing him from launching a dark blue sphere.

"Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Hilda cries out, her fist pressed against the bottom of her chin. "That wasn't supposed to happen!"

Tyranitar's sent stumbling by a blow from Dragonite's right hand. Dragonite doesn't let up, he keeps on walloping Tyranitar like a kung fu champion.

"Oh noooooo!" Leaf panics with a wide-eyed expression. "This isn't good!"

Determination beams from Hilda's face. "Don't worry, I've got this!" She raises a fist above her head. "Garchomp, use Dragon Rush!"

Energy surrounds Garchomp, the dragon smack dab in the middle. Garchomp kneels, then he leaps up. The energy transforms into a massive dragon with spikes on each knee, a pair of extra fangs protruding sideways from both ends of the mouth.

The air trembles at the feet of the bellowing wind. Like a meteor hurling down in the atmosphere, Garchomp dives down and blasts Dragonite and Hydreigon into the ground, causing smoke to surround the dragons for a few moments.

The smoke quickly evaporates, but it feels like an eternity for everyone. Much to Garchomp's surprise, Dragonite slowly manages to stand upright. Hydreigon struggles more, but he's able to regain flight.

All four Pokémon are heavily panting, but they've got no regrets about their performance. They try to muster up enough energy to deal the finishing blows.

"We've got this in the bag!" Rosa and Melanie press their backs together. "Use Dragon Pulse!"

Black spheres of energy form in front of all three of Hydreigon's mouths, while a white sphere appears in front of Dragonite's mouth. After Hydreigon launches the spheres, they immediately merge and morph. The end result is a gigantic black dragon with ominous red eyes, spiky wings, and a line of spikes running down its back and tail.

Dragonite fires off his sphere, which morphs into a dragon-shaped beam. It further into a gargantuan, armored white dragon with quadruple wings and spikes on its shoulders. The air's shaken by the mighty gale encircling the two dragon formations. Both formations bear down upon Garchomp and Tyranitar at the same time. Upon impact, an explosion goes off and the two Pokémon are flung backwards. In the midst of the evaporating smoke, they land on their backs.

Dragonite raises his hands and happily closes his eyes, whereas Hydreigon dances and wildly shakes all three of his heads. They commend their friends for fighting well, they're always worthy opponents.

"We won!" Rosa and Melanie exchange a fist bump. "We rock!"

Rosa kiss all three Hydreigon's heads and Melanie high fives Dragonite. As Umbreon dashes over to congratulate their dragons, they overhear Hilda and Leaf commending their respective Pokémon as they recall them. Rosa and Melanie follow suit, their dragons need a good rest after that clash.

"Good battle!" Hilda and Leaf run towards them and partake in a quadruple high five. "That was fun!"

Skyla, Lisia, Asgard, and Jacques approach the four, but Rosa notices that Valen's taking his sweet time. His hands are in his pockets, his expression one of indifference, and his Pokémon are teasing him with mischievous smiles.

Tee-hee, that's not going to work, Valey sweetie! Noooooow, It's time for Rosa Holmes to get to the bottom of Lisia's presence!

"Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, whatcha planning?" Rosa clasps her hands behind her back and bends her body towards Hilda. "Hmmmmmmm?"

"Lisia and I have teamed to see if we can pull off a project!" Hilda's hands are clasped over her right shoulder. "It's called Pokétopia Park!"

"I came here to discuss that, but I get to hang out with awesome people!" Lisia shuts her eyes, her grin widening. "This is amazing!"

Upon Hilda's smile fading for a brief moment, Valen shoots a concerned gaze in her direction. His gut's telling him something's not right here—there's a reason why she's never tried this before. He believes in her ability to pull it off but he also wonders if she's thinking way too big.

"Don't worry," Hilda whispers into his right ear. "No matter what, I'll still be the antidote to dull days."

Satisfied with this answer, Valen exchanges a few kisses with her. Hilda's pulled back into the chat by Melanie, who is apparently challenging all the ladies to best her in style. Jacques and Ragnar have no idea what to do, but neither does he.

While the others converse, Valen realizes that the siblings from earlier are among the onlookers. Turns out that the kid has an Axew. He's boasting to the other kids that he met Valen the Reaper in person. All of these kids are over the moon over the battle they just witnessed, and they've noticed his Salamence and Gardevoir. They sneak away to greet the onlookers and their Pokémon.

Valen's mysterious ways are seemingly no match for the peripheral vision of the crazy wholesome minds, but they're playing along. However, it doesn't long for Melanie to spot him gesturing towards kids, who gleefully approach his Salamence and Gardevoir.

Salamence closes his eyes and cocks his head back, whereas Gardevoir folds her arms and leans against her teammate. As for Valen, he's taken a detour to tend to a young Eevee who tripped. After making sure that the Eevee isn't injured, it wags its tail and he pets it several times.

He gestures towards a young girl with a timid Gothita and a jumpy Axew. The girl and her Axew skips towards them, but her Gothita is slower in their approach. Salamence shows off his roar and the Axew's eyes gleam in awe. Gardevoir greets both Pokémon with an angelic cry and a bow. A few seconds pass before the Gothita attempts to mimic Gardevoir's gesture.

"My Gardevoir used to be shy too, back when she was a Ralts."

Indeed she was, she still remembers when she wandered into a backyard. There was a human child playing with a Cyndaquil and a Shinx. They spotted her hiding behind a thick plant, the human offered her a berry. Cyndaquil and Shinx nudged it closer to her. Slowly, she approached and took a nibble. It was so yummy that she wanted a second one.

She comes back into the present and approaches that human. She kisses the top of her head and caresses his face. It's the least she can do to say thanks.

Oh? He's gotten a message from that Kris human. It's about the museum and she's elated about her role there. Is she also elated about being with Silver? She can sense the the intensity of their true affection towards each other.

One gorgeous building with over a million difference pieces from around the world, including all of her favoritr painters. For Kris, this is the high life. It's so much fun to share her passion with visitors! She even gets to partake in practice runs of various tasks. Yesterday, she see identifying an original Kasmenestian sculpture and the provenance of paintings!

She strolls out of the interior design displays, her eyes gleaming over the lovely Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau interiors she just witnessed. Imagine if she got to live in a Victorian era seaside cottage or country home with Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau furniture!

She enters the painting section, this specific isle containing the museum's Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. The professor said to take her time to explore, but she's come here to construct the first of three brief provenance documents. She only needed to select one, but she picked two paintings from two different eras. She went to the archives, but she wanted to type up the documents with the paintings in sight.

It might seem simple, all she has to do is establish ownership. However, she's practicing with works who's already documented. When a "lost" work turns up after being missing for decades, or even centuries, it's a different ballgame.

She keeps on moving, euphoria flowing with more intensity within her mind and body. All of these people come from different walks of life, but they all have the ability to appreciate art. It's a beautiful sight to behold, it's a big reason why she wants to be a curator.

She walks into the room containing her chosen work. "This is what got me into Impressionism," she whispers. "Caldre Monet's The Impression of Sunrise. Painted in 1872."

The warm colors are seamlessly blended, that's the norm for a Monet. Quick, thick strokes of the brush were the name of the game, the goal was to capture the overall essence of the scene instead of specific details.

The brisk morning mist conceals Coumarine City's harbor and the historical buildings around it. The Suicune's in the center of the pale blue water, its figure obstructed by a black accented note. To Suicune's northwest lies an occupied boat that's obstructed by the same note. The majestic legendary is looking into the sky, seemingly entranced by the beaming rays of the orange sun. Orange is also present in various spots in the sky, merging with the predominant blue to create brown. The top left contain the biggest usage of brown, and Articuno gracefully soars below that portion.

Before she continues, she takes a quick detour. Her second favorite Impressionist piece, The Camphirer Aqueduct by Antoine Guillaumin, is across from the room. The depicted bridge, located southwest of Lumiose City, is a favorite of her architect father.

Road and rail say hi to each other in this work, which was painted in 1874. The tan-colored arch bridge towers over the people and the Pokémon on the left end of the piece. There's plenty of foliage, from small plants to thick bushes, on both sides of the train tracks. The vibrant green used brings the essence of the natural world to life. It joins forces with the manmade objects to create a great scene, and that river hiding in the background isn't slick.

Camphirer Town's a lovely place to visit when someone want a break from the hustle and bustle of Lumiose City, Kiloude City, or Marselles City. She loves them too, she loves Kalos in general.

Back to the Monet. She takes a seat in the chair directly across from work. She pulls out her cell phone from her purse and begins typing in a document app. A few extra details will be added, that's how she rolls.

1873: Derided by a few art critics in Kalos, lauded by artists in Kalos, Unova, and Galar.

1874: Monet visits Unova, his work receives an immensely positive reception in Aspertia City. Renoir, Pissarro, and Manet join him in Castelia City a few months later.

1874: Sold to art collector Carlos Nimbasa, he was a great-grandson of Domingo Nimbasa. Most of his collection's been in the Nimbasa Art Museum since 1900.

1881: Sold to Keith Whitley of Aspertia City. He was the figurehead of the Unovan Impressionists.

1920: The painting ends up with Harold Kors, a wealthy art dealer based out of Wyndon. He moved to Lilycove City later that year. He was the grandfather of Samuel Kors, who was Wallace's grandfather and the founder of the fashion brand.

1920: Harold Kors conducts a trade with Richard Lauren of Undella Town. Kors exchanged the Monet, plus a Canaletto and a Lorrain, for a Botticelli. Richard Lauren was the father of Grimsley Lauren, the founder of the fashion brand. His grandson's Grimsley Lauren III of the Unovan Elite Four.

1940: Eight paintings, including the Monet, were sold by Richard to finance his son's new fashion brand. They were bought by Claude Beauchêne, the director of the Calvanian Museum of Art from 1931 to 1961.

Wait a minute, Claude Beauchêne was the professor's great-grandpa. He was succeeded by his son, Roberto Beauchêne, who was director for forty five years. He was succeeded by his granddaughter...that means he might become the director one day! That's so cool! The Beauchêne family have been an integral part of the museum since day one!

She'll look around for a bit, then the Renaissance paintings will be graced by her stylish presence. After that, it's onto the Far Eastern paintings. Specifically, it's a Botticelli and a Hiroshige that will be in awe of her, but she'll be in awe of them too.

She haven't seen Salvator Botticelli's work in a while. While giving a televised interview, Wallace said that Botticelli was his favorite painter. That was the reason behind those cool accessories decorated with Galatea's Grace. She'd love to get the necklace, but that's the hardest to come by.

Time to check out the Victor van Gogh paintings, the museum's got twenty five works! The room's down the corridor, to the Krismobile!

What did you think of this chapter? What's your favorite moment out of the first five chapters?

Did you enjoy seeing Hilda encouraging/reassuring Wes? How about the interactions Valen had in this chapter?

Did you like the pseudo-legendary tag match?
Arthur was a character who appeared in Identity, I dunno if he'll appear in this one.
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Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
Here for Catnip! I had a busy weekend so I could only read the first two chapters, but here's my review!

I love the amount of worldbuilding you've done, with a lot of art and history and art history, but it feels like sometimes it's brought up without really needing to be. Like, I appreciate building an in depth setting, don't get me wrong. But sometimes characters or the narrative will bring up things that don't really flow with the story, if that makes sense. They feel like asides rather than part of the story.

Some of the events from the previous story I feel like could be fleshed out more. I know you're thinking in terms that people won't have read this without reading the first part, but a little reminder couldn't hurt. I don't know what happened between Rui and Wes, for instance, and after they had that scene overlooking the ocean, I feel like it was a little left out, and I WANTED to know more because I also felt invested.

I love the overall concept though! Following so many characters from different games, bringing them all together in a way that draws from different canons (BW Agency for instance) is a lot of fun! Kinda like pre-Pasio or something.


Pokémon Trainer
Here for Catnip! I had a busy weekend so I could only read the first two chapters, but here's my review!

I love the amount of worldbuilding you've done, with a lot of art and history and art history, but it feels like sometimes it's brought up without really needing to be. Like, I appreciate building an in depth setting, don't get me wrong. But sometimes characters or the narrative will bring up things that don't really flow with the story, if that makes sense. They feel like asides rather than part of the story.

Some of the events from the previous story I feel like could be fleshed out more. I know you're thinking in terms that people won't have read this without reading the first part, but a little reminder couldn't hurt. I don't know what happened between Rui and Wes, for instance, and after they had that scene overlooking the ocean, I feel like it was a little left out, and I WANTED to know more because I also felt invested.

I love the overall concept though! Following so many characters from different games, bringing them all together in a way that draws from different canons (BW Agency for instance) is a lot of fun! Kinda like pre-Pasio or something.

Thanks for your comment! I'll try to keep what you said in mind, but I don't wanna get stuck in a revision loop. But I do understand what you're trying to say and where you're coming from.

Just to clarify, only that stadium part Wes mentioned took place in Identity. I'm intentionally leaving what happened prior to Identity a mystery, but I will delve into it little by little. As for historical/art lore, that ties into characterization too. It'll get brought up because it's a trait, but I try not to overdo it.
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Pokémon Trainer
NOTE: The Valen, Wes and Rui backstory took place prior to the events of Identity.

Chapter 6: Sometimes We Lose, Sometimes We Win

Dark matter is a mystery. Theories range from its very existence being a myth to a relation with Giratina and the Distortion World. They say no light reflects off of it, no light emits from it, and no light can be absorbed by it.

That's what Wes read while riding a train to Angel City. He's currently waiting for Valen in a public battlefield, but his mind decided to wander. It's hard to avoid a comparison between his current situation and what he read, even if it may seem melodramatic to some people.

His universe's been enshrouded in that mysterious substance called dark matter in the past. His guilt and his emotional breakdown led to arguments with Rui, meaning his universe's now enshrouded in the present.

Or is it?

After the nasty accusations Rui and him hurled at each other, he thought it was over. Not only did both Rui and Valen forgive him, he was offered to join that same group. A real group, unlike those lying Team Snagem bastards. So much for somewhere he belongs, but it's different this time. It feels like it's been longer than it actually is...could that be because of how much he missed her?

Might as well look around, he needs to distract himself from his cloudy mind. Lotta people and Pokémon are enjoying minute leisure that was once foreign to him, such as playing fetch in a park, strolling down a sidewalk, or sitting on a bench.

The roads are surprisingly light on traffic. A line of Ragulian and Galarian supercars draw the attention of many, the pack's lead by a grand tourer and a race car from 1950s. Nice rides, a certain someone would love this sight. The Pokémon seem very intrigued, none more so than the pair of Galarian Rapidash.

Bunch of medium-sized buildings in all directions. The two buildings shaped like Gengar and Typhlosion are easily the two biggest stand-outs. Reminds him of the Hippowdon-shaped building in Fountain Town, the suburb that Rui grew up in. Downtown's skyscrapers loom in the near distance, and they're taller than anything he's seen in Phenac City and Gaton Port. It's not uncommon for kids and teens in Orre to desire a visit to Angel City. Some simply want to have a blast. Others come for stardom, be it in the much larger pro battling circuit or Sunset Studios. Why not both?

"It's ya girl!"

What's more recognizable between her boisterous voice and her orange pigtails? Four fingers up, both hands sideways, and her face making her look like a mischievous Haunter. The jean jacket's typical of her, but he's never seen her rock a Team Skull shirt before.

Great, he unintentionally caused her lively nature to give way to a somber expression. After all that she's done for him, he can't even make sure that she remains happy.

"You look worried."

"...Rui, sorry for being slow." He does a hard swallow and forces himself to maintain a straight posture. "I'm not trying to delay-"

Silence. That's all he can muster now. Is Rui...actually caressing his arm?

"Not too long ago, Rosa told me one of the sweetest things anyone's ever done for her." Rui cups Wes' hands in-between hers. "Valen waited for her out of respect for her feelings, but they both knew how the other felt." Her tone's soft and whispery. "Valen helped her to get comfortable with romance again before asking her out."

A tingle shocks his body, his eyes widening immensely. This...isn't really happening...is it? Her tender lips are pressed against his lips, and it feels...it still feels warm.

"I decided that I'm going to do the same with you." Rui presses a fist against his upper chest. "I want you to be happy again."

That feeling's mutual, but how does he respond to this? Is this how Valen felt when he was shown this undying loyalty...this tender...care? This...unconditional love?

…Right, this is to be expected from Rui. That's one reason-

"Are you okay?"

Wes snaps out of his train of thought. He doesn't like that worried expression on Rui's face, that's not the Rui he developed an intimate relationship with. If only he knew-he does know what to say.

"Thank you for always being patient with me." He rubs her left shoulder. "Next time around, I'll promise that it'll different."

"I trust you, Wes." Another kiss on the lips. "I hope you'll remember more of the good times we've shared together—that's a big reason why I want to have a full battle with you."

No more words are needed, but were words even needed at all? They became as close as somebody can get with a friend before it turns into a romance, but it may've been a bit too soon for them. Curiously, the clouds obstructing the sunlight are drifting away. It's like the sun kicked the clouds away so it could illuminate Rui's adoring expression.

When he realized that Rui wanted to help him live a normal life…when she said he was her friend…it was a Thunder to the system. He wanted to cry but he was too afraid to be open. At her grandparents' house, he'd lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, trying not to get in his feelings.

Being with Rui again…being part of a friendly group…wouldn't that be something?

"Sorry to interrupt but you've got guests."

Hearing that voice causes Wes to jerk his head back. Were they so caught up in the moment that they didn't notice Valen?

Both Rui and him blush, trying to find words to quell this contretemps. This wouldn't be the first time they "zoned out" when spending time together. He cracks a faint smirk, but Rui's spontaneous and resonant laugh twists it into a smile. Rosa and Hilda's laughter notifies him of their presence.

"Mind if they watch our battle?" Valen walks towards the opposite end of the battlefield. "They really wanted to tag along."

"Nah." Wes tilts his head towards Rui. "If walking nightmare over here's going to watch, it's only fair to say yes to these two."

Her annoyed expression gets a snicker out of him. She looks like people made a big deal about her Suicune again.

Valen's got a Poké Ball in his hand. He presses the button to let out his Gengar, who zips into the ground. A purple shadow with his eyes and face materializes, and he sticks his tongue out. Wes cracks a faint smirk, his mind replaying the time Valen's Gengar jump scared Rui right into his bucket prank.

Wes reaches into his trench coat for a Poké Ball, then he chucks the ball above his head. Out comes his Froslass, who releases a chilly, orotund cackle.

"Ghost-type showdown, huh?" Valen folds his arms and cocks a brow. "This should be interesting."

None of Valen's team has battled Wes' Froslass. He doesn't fully remember what moves he had her use against Cipher and in casual battles.

Valen turns sideways to show off the Team Skull logo on his black jacket. It's the same one he wore to the BW Agency a couple of days ago. Rui's ear-to-ear grin over the jacket is what he expected from his fellow Team Skull member.

"Time to cause mayhem!" Valen shouts in a raring tone. "Use Dark Pulse!"

"Sucker Punch, then Shadow Ball."

Before Gengar can fire off his stream of purple and black circles, Froslass disappears and appears within a blink of the eye. She slams her entire figure into Gengar. She falls back and a purple ball with a thick, frosty white glow appears in front of her mouth. She launches the sphere, which strikes Gengar in the face.

Gengar sways from side to side, he's reeling but he's not concerned. He'll either win the battle, win because his trainer will be proud, or both.

"Use Crunch."

"Time for your own Sucker Punch, Gengar!"

Gengar vanishes into the ground, then appears under Froslass and strikes her with a right uppercut. She briefly loses her balance, leaving her wide open for another attack.

"Sludge Bomb!"

As she pulls herself together, Froslass is met with a barrage of blown sludge with a purple glow. No infliction occurs, will second time be the charm in this scenario?


A spectral blue glow in Gengar's eyes causes a fireball to materialize. The spherical apparition encroaches toward Froslass and enshrouds her. She wails, her posture becoming limp as the ghostly flames singe her.


Gengar's red eyes glow and his mouth drops open. A giant, menacing pair of blood red eyes appearing above him. The eyes begins to glow, and an ominous, phantasmal aura ensnares Froslass. A louder, eerily wail echoes throughout the field, and the aura grows thicker with more intensity. It's like Froslass' strength or vitality is being devoured straight out of her body.

The aura seemingly taunts Froslass with the logy pace of its evaporation. It eventually vanishes, and Froslass has to exert a high amount of force to avoid plummeting.

"You'll need more than that." Wes faintly smiles and folds his arms. "Use Psychic."

The air around the field gets thicker. Froslass unleashes a massive, pearly white wave of energy that makes the air shriek with a gale. Gengar's tossed behind his trainer like a frisbee. His body skips on the ground like a rock over a pond.

Gengar's got one eye closed and his mouth has flipped into a frown. He staggers and struggles to get back up.

"Ice Beam."

Froslass launches an frost white beam that's covered with an eerie, light blue aura. Gengar's struck in-between his eyes and mouth. He goes tumbling backward, his arms flailing like a Feebas.


White electricity covers Froslass' body. She fires a lightning bolt that knocks Gengar down, his body surrounded by crackling sparks.

Gengar lies on his back with of his eyes shut. Is this it? Has he lost against Froslass? …No, he's not going down like this. Not when his trainer's counting on him.

"You can do it, Gengar!" Valen bends his elbows and tightens his fists. "Show them your Shadow Ball!"

Gengar sharply opens his eyes, and he musters up the strength he needs to leap back into action. He extends his hands, and a black and purple sphere of energy materializes in-between them. He shoots it toward Froslass, who's blasted directly in the face. The attack's force nearly causes her to fall.

"Another Psychic."

Valen's smile has become a lopsided grin. "Not this time, Wes!" He slams his right fist into his left palm. "Use Phantom Force!"

Gengar's laugh could send a Frost Breath down one's spine. He hastily disappears in a congregation of blood red fog. Froslass is about to launch another wave of energy, but the fog grips onto Froslass like a pair of monstrous hands. Gengar emerges from it and rams head-first into Froslass. She wails and falls onto the battlefield.

Wes's eyes slightly widen and he bears his clenched teeth. This isn't good, that move did a number on Froslass. Her struggle to float again is severe, this Gengar's even stronger than they thought.

"You better win this because you're not going to win against me."

Wes sports a flat-eyed expression, his unamused glare locking onto Rui. In typical walking nightmare fashion, her response is to stick her tongue out.

"Why are you such a pain in the ass?"

"Because shut up."

Wes smacks his face with left palm. Back to the battle, Froslass has gotten back up. Her pants grow heavier which each passing second, but she's still got enough in her to continue the fight. She's also enjoying facing a strong opponent.

"Slug em with Fire Punch!"

Spectral red flames surround Gengar's fists. He strikes Froslass over and over again with a series of uppercuts, just like the Hitmonchan in one of his favorite cartoons.

"Ice Punch."

A frosty white jab flings Gengar away, but he lands on his feet. He floats up and charges towards Froslass, his fists surrounded by flames again. A boxing match breaks out between the two specters. They swerve left and right as they try to land a blow.

Eventually, they clobber each other in the face. Both are sent flying backward, but retain their floating.

They charge at each other again, trying to land more blows with their respective punching attacks. It's like the Mortal Battle video game series came to life.

Several more blows are exchanged, then the try one more time. They punching attacks collide, the force behind them the highest level possible. It caused a small detonation, and a minute amount of smoke briefly obstructs the center of the battlefield.

"Use Dark Pulse!"

Before Froslass has a chance to counter, a stream of purple and black circles slam into her face. The strike flings her behind Wes and onto the ground. She staggers upwards, her panting growing heavy by the second. Gengar's panting is rather heavy as well, it's down to the wire.

"Shadow Ball!"

"Hurry, counter with Confuse Ray!"

A darker hue of white emits from Froslass' eyes. Gengar wobbles around in an unpredictable series of movements. In his daze, he fires his purple and black sphere into the battlefield.

Wes faintly smiles, he's almost got this one locked up. Barely, he might not be so lucky next time.

"Use Hex."

Froslass' eyes emit an ominous hue of dark blue. A ghostly hand materializes and grabs Gengar above his legs. The icicle-like fingers extend and ensnare his body. Gengar shuts his eyes, his grunting becoming more apparent as the hand squeeze him with increased pressure.

"Finish this with Crunch."

Gengar's suddenly in-between the icicle-like teeth of an spectral white jaw. The apparition closes in on him, the pressure topping him onto his face.

Gengar tries to stand up, but he's out of it. Underneath his heavy panting, Gengar thanks Froslass for the battle. He falls back down, at least his trainer's proud of him.

"Heh." Valen shrugs with a grin. "Can't win em all." He approaches Gengar, commending, "That's my boy." A fist bump and a shared laugh is forms a triple win in his book.

"You almost won," Wes points out. "Good battle."

"I'll win next time." Valen offers Wes a handshake, his smile widening when he accepts. "I had fun."

As expected, Valen's not leaving any indicators of how strong he really is. Wes knows that he's Le Moissonneur Noir, or Valen the Reaper from watching pro circuit battles, but he hasn't said much about his trainer skills.

"Both of you are strong enough to enter Calvana's pro circuit," Valen comments. "Have you ever considered it?"

The others continue to chat, while Wes silently ponders whether he should give the pro circuit a shot. He's considered trying his hand at it in the past. He's a little surprised that Rui hasn't already done so. After all, she managed to complete the Gym Challenge in Galar.

"Hahaha, they don't want that smoke!" Rui angles her hands sideways, holding up both pairs of index and ring fingers. "I'm just messing around!"

Wes tilts his head back and scoffs. "Didn't it take you three tries to beat both Kabu and Raihan?" he jabs. "You said that the Gym Challenge didn't want smoke upon registration."

Rui's face burns up, she spins away with her hands on her hips. "I went easy on them."

"Sure you did."

"Shut up, Sir Grumpalot."

"Make me."

Froslass snickers with Gengar, thanking him for a good fight. She asks if Gengar will be okay, but Gengar says that she doesn't need to worry.

She tells Gengar that Wes felt he'd cross paths with Rui and Valen if he kept battling. It's what kept him going. Gengar admits that his trainer was in a similar situation. All Valen had was his love for art and the team, or so he thought. If Valen can see the error of his thinking, why can't Wes?

Froslass smiles and thanks Gengar, who raises his right hand in a victory pose. Froslass giggles that Gengar's a real cutie. Gengar's grin turn sheepish and his purple face a faint shade of red. She tells him to chill out, but Gengar does his best Luxray impression via retorting that he's not cute. They happily close their eyes. the duo bursting out in hysterics.

Having noticed that the Ghost-types are chatting, Valen and Wes decide against recalling them.

Rosa and Hilda have managed to sneak up behind Valen. Well, they almost did. Did they really think that would work? It's kinda hard not to notice the crazy wholesome minds when they radiate Gigantamax levels of energy.

Oh no, the horror of the cheek bops. He's so scared, please have mercy on him.

"Heeeeey, he's smiling!"

"Say it again." Rosa and Hilda's faces are so close to his that he faintly yelps. "Say that you had fun again."

Their cute grins too powerful, but he doesn't fly into dorky mode this time. "I had fun."

"Woo-hoo!" Rosa celebrates with a twirl. "One of my biggest wishes is for Valey to have lots and lots and lots of fun!"

"She means one of our biggest wishes." Hilda grips both of Valen's hands, her right cheek pressed up against his chest. "She's not the only one who can tell you a tooth-rotting story." She titters over his faint yelp. "He's always there to lift us up."

Valen might be blushing to some degree, but it doesn't stop him from wrapping his arms around Hilda's midsection.

The endothermic sensation of unconditional love is phenomenal to experience, and he's confident that Rui will make Wes remember that more and more. He's got faith in them, they can vanquish the shadows and heal together.

He wasn't exactly in the clear when he battled Silver at that event, but his experiences prior re-ignited the flames of passion within him. He was proven wrong multiple times, and now he's back in control of his life

Huh, did he miss the joke? Why does Wes have a palm covering his face? What threw Rosa, Hilda, and Rui into hysterics? What did Wes do this time? It wasn't the story about Rui having a bucket fall onto her head, otherwise Wes and Rui would have swapped expressions.

"All I asked is about what Hilda told me a few days ago," Wes grumbles with an annoyed scowl. "Something about Silver."

An amused grunt is Valen's answer. Silver's been more discreet than usual as of late, but it's obvious what Hilda told Wes.

"They're...all here."

Kris can't think of any other words to describe the awe she's experiencing. She's got to fight back her tears of joy, but this is a dream come true. From Adalbert Dürer and Reyer van der Weyden to league painters Simona Anguissola and Lucia Fontana, many big names within the world of Renaissance painting await her and the visitors strolling past her. Artists that are less familiar to the general public, such as Domenico Dossi and Pasquale di Cosimo, also have representation hanging on these walls.

She came here to construct a provenance document for one of Salvator Botticelli's finest works. Good thing she can also explore, because she can't proceed without a quick peek at everything. She prolongs each step and deep breath, trying to take it the grandeur of this amazing array of masterpieces. She supposes this is what happens when three influential families join forces to create the grandest museum possible.

It starts with artists like Holbein, van Eyck, and Bosch. It ends with Mannerism and the three titans of the High Renaissance: Michelangelo Bellincioni, Raphael Sadoletto, and Leonardo Da Vinti This museum is one of just three to house examples of both Michelangelo's frescoes and oil on wood paintings, two of each in this case. Eleven Raphael paintings and four Leonardo paintings round it out.

It's time to get back to business—this future curator's gotta get her game on. If she actually gets to work here, it wouldn't even be work. It'd be a hobby.

Kris enters the medium-sized room with Botticelli's paintings, her choice being Xerneas e la Primavera. Unlike many of the works here, this one's not an oil painting. Tempera from a Chansey's egg was painted on a wooden panel. Love and beauty are represented with great vividness, a testament to the consummate artistic ability of an Old Master like Botticelli.

Yveltal rests atop a beautiful and blossoming garden, his wings are spread out and his expression's collected and placid. Xerneas has her head lowered, her tender smile and gleaming eyes are directly in the center of the work. In a touching moment of intimacy, Xerneas plops a Geomancy-infused kiss onto the top of Yveltal's head, a vibrant glow finished in malachite representing Geomancy. The glow roots into the ground, causing flowers to blossom and trees to extend in height.

Mew and Celebi are in-between the foreground and background, they're forming an arch with one hand each. Zygarde's puppy form frolics in the garden with both two Shaymin, one Land Forme and one Sky Forme.

Fittingly, Botticelli's earlier portrait of the patron, Champion Niccolaio de' Medici, is to the right. Right of that is the Botticelli portrait of the patron's brother, Professor Salvino de' Medici. All three were among the first paintings to grace these walls when the museum first opened in 1795.

"It's time for the artist that led me down this path many years ago," she remarks. "Heinricus Bosch."

She weaves through the throng of people and Pokémon and ends up close to the Holbein and van Eyck works. The medium-sized room closest to both houses the Bosch paintings.

Kris rubs her blue hair from front to back, her smile confident and her brilliance radiant. She envisions herself in a gorgeous red suit made by Valerie, giving a presentation on the wacky world of Bosch paintings. He's been mistakenly called a medieval painter, but he was a contemporary of Botticelli and Leonardo.

Silver's in the audience, he's bragging about personally knowing her. It's her fantasy and she can envision whatever she wants. Silver's got better taste than people realize, so there's that factor too.

"If he ain't sweet, I ain't looking for him." Her tone increases in sass, her giggling faint but evident. "He better be artsy if he's checking on me."

All silliness aside, she was ten years old when she first laid eyes on Bosch's The Garden of The Balancers. It was a little bit scary, but fascination outweighed fear by a wide margin. It's a triptych oil painting, so the work's split up in-between three panels. The two panels on the left and right are foldable, but the museum displays the work with those two fully open. There are hundreds of Pokémon and dozens of humans present. She loves how Bosch utilized both linear and aerial perspective. If one took a photo of the work and drew lines above the various Pokémon and other elements, all of the lines would meet where Zygarde is.

The left panel consists of a vibrant, lush forest in the foreground and half of the middle. A town lies in the other half of the middle and in half the background. The sky above is crystal clear, the pigment used being the lightest shade of ultramarine blue. In the foreground, Xerneas towers like the majestic gazelle she knows she is. Two dozen Eevee and puppy Zygarde are snuggling up to her, the ground under their feet glowing with a beautiful white light. A large, sparkling lake in the middle contains multiple specimen of the Poliwag line and other Water-type Pokémon.

There are less than twenty Pokémon in the right panel. Tree stumps are scattered throughout the withering, lifeless grass. The lake has dried up, leaving only splotches of water. The town's desolate and its buildings are decaying. Yveltal soars in the sky, which is finished in the darkest shade of ultramarine. It's accompanied by Zygarde's Complete Forme, and both legendaries are surrounded by a battalion made up of Hydreigon, Obstagoon and Pangoro. Running from them is a tall man and small legion of soldiers. All of them have either terrified or despondent expressions.

The two backgrounds extend into the center panel, but the colors are different. The lighter shades of ultramarine and malachite grow darker from left to right. Zygarde towers in the center of a desert and rocky-like terrain. Several Haxorus, Flygon, and Garchomp surround it. Dozens of each Pokémon's pre-evolutions, plus other Dragon-types and Ground-types, are scattered throughout the middle panel.

"I can never keep a straight face over what's going on in the town in this panel." Her tone's high-pitched, and her cheeks are slightly red. "I love how bizarre a typical Bosch work can be."

For starters, the outskirts contain a Dragonite that's slapping another Dragonite for falling asleep. How can anyone not love that? Near the market, there's an unamused princess with a Swablu on her head and an Alakazam's whacking a Greedent and its with its spoons. Those ripe berries scattered around them must have been taken by the former. In all three panels, the stained-glass windows and extravagant spires indicate that the town's buildings are Gothic-style architecture.

She'll save Bosch's Mew Under The Carriage, Attack of the Flying Magikarp and The Odd Herd for another time. Why did Bosch paint a squadron of giant Magikarp with Salamence wings that know Hyper Beam? What compelled him to paint hybrids of Oddish and Tauros? All she knows for sure is that he did and it's wonderful.

Fineeeee, she'll admit to herself that she wants to check out one of the five Bruegel paintings too. After Bosch came Bruegel, and that led to a chance encounter with Rembrandt's works. Rembrandt's become her all time favorite painter, but Bruegel and Bosch are easily second and third.

Her favorite Bruegel, The Bountiful Harvest, is among them. It's how she learned about Calyrex and his noble steeds. Sightings of all three aren't that unusual in the grand scheme of things, but there's more than one Glastrier and Spectrier. If there wasn't, how would the head of the Liniya Corporation have a Spectrier?

Oh? She's got text-hmph! Look who finally showed himself! Silver better have a good reason why he didn't tell anybody what's been he up to. It's not like she gets really happy whenever they talk...or enjoys his company...she's just the boss, that's all!

She rolls her eyes with a faint, annoyed scowl. Is she really supposed to believe that he accidentally...set foot into Nimbasa Fashions?! He happened to end up...where those Wallace Kors accessories are?!

Her wide-eyed stare hones in on the series of photos he's sending. They've got the necklace. the watch...and everything else from the set featuring Galatea's Grace. Wait a minute, when did Wallace release another set featuring Xerneas e la Primavera?

...He asked Serena on the downlow-timeout! Mega Evolve the timeout! Dynamax the timeout!

A wild blush appears on her face, her jaw dropping halfway. He's offering to buy BOTH necklaces for her?! Wha-who's this and what did he do to the real Silver?! What's going on here?!


She takes a hard deep breath, shaking her head in a futile attempt to toss her blushing aside.

Is he seriously...does he even know who Botticelli...this isn't actually happening...right? He didn't...did he...actually...remember...it's just a coincidence! She'll take him up on his offer, but it's not like she finds this super sweet or anything They're just friends, nothing more to see here!

Hahahaha...ha...ha...ha...ha...ha...calm down, you silly gal! It's just a convenient series of coincidences! Quickly, go check out the works painted by Perceval Bruegel the Elder! He's in this room too! She changed her mind, time to look at all five!

Wait, she should finish constructing provenance for the Botticelli! Go back and look at the other Botticelli works too! Look at the two Perugino works in the same room! Stop blushing over an accidental occurrence and focus on the amazing painting that surround you!

…Do Rosa and Hilda know about those necklaces? They don't follow new releases of jewelry and accessories as frequently as she does, but they'd love to own one each! Serena's not here, so it's up to her to make sure everyone's stylish!

Faint, nervous cries ping-pong off of black walls in the second-floor hallway of Valen, Rosa, and Hilda's house. Hilda's Umbreon's face is bright red, her movements unsteady as she attempts to walk in Hilda's high heels. Why can't they make high heels for her kind?! What if she trips in front of her crush?!

At least wearing this fabulous jewelry is easier, it's as pretty as those white patterns on the walls. Strut your stuff, show off all three of Hilda's gold necklaces! She somehow managed to use paint to make her paws look like Hilda's red nails! There's no way Luxray won't fall head over paws for her!

More paintings were added to the hallway...including that Umbreon painting she gawked at in the museum?! Right next to the painting of a super majestic Luxray?! Even human art supports Luxray and her!

Music suddenly blares from the hangout room, that means it's time for an edgelord's edition of a musical. She listens in on Luxray hissing "crawling in my fur, my pride will never heal! Pspsps is how I fall, those kitten photos aren't real!"

Yes they are, silly proud feline! She's seen then and she adores them! Just like she adores that old fancy table that depicts his species looking all cool and majestic!

"Umbreon, why'd you raid my part of the closet?"

Oh no, Hilda's found her! She needs to find a place to hide! This hallway needs more furniture that she can hide behind or under! Luxray will see this, she'll look like a fool in front of her crush!

This is the worst possible moment to trip, but onto the ornate carpeting she plummets.

"Umbreon, look at me." Hilda's fists are on her hips, her scowl and glare that of an unamused mother. "I go out for a walk and I come back to this?"

A silence befalls the hallway and both occupied rooms. Luxray's already taken notice and is slowly walking out of the room. Umbreon pictures him walking in the slowest motion possible. Her face's even redder now and all four of her legs tremble.

Tittering breaks the silence. Hilda's now grinning with her eyes closed. Umbreon breathes a sigh of relief, even though this is no time to be kidding.

"You should've approached me first, silly!" She jumps and clasps her hands over her right shoulder. "I'd have helped you out!"

Hilda dashes towards her, but ends up tripping over herself. She flails her arms and tries to grab onto a fancy desk, but down onto her bottom she goes.

"Aieeeeeee, I'm such a klutz!"

Arms are suddenly wrapped around Hilda's midsection, she's being hoisted upwards by Valen. Good save...sort of...it's too funny not to snicker at!

Umbreon's snickering scurries away like a Wimpod when she realizes what Luxray's reaction is. His cheeks are red and puffed out, and he's got a paw in front of her mouth.

Her shocked scream fills up the hallway, causing Valen's Gardevoir to appear via Teleport. Her arms are folded like she means business. However, she bursts out laughing upon seeing Valen and Hilda tumble onto the carpet.

Gardevoir should know that this is no laughing-Luxray did not just say that! How can he find the high heels and triple necklaces look ridiculous?! She looks a-m-azing! Come on, you're supposed to be falling head over paws for her!

...Really? Luxray...thinks she's fine the way she is? She's not a Flareon, yet her face's become redder than a Flareon's face.

Luxray's purrs and closes his eyes, his teammate's angelic cry a sign of her approval. Closer and closer his face moves…and then it happens. Her world gets thrown into a chaos of celebration.

Her crush just kissed her cheek.

She leaps out of the high heels, her squeal attracting the attention of Gengar and Serperior. All three Pokémon encourage her and Gardevoir cackles that Luxray's a sweetheart on the inside. Luxray doesn't mind, he can't be an edgelord all the time.

Umbreon places a paw atop one of Luxray's paws and rests her head under his chin. Luxray kisses the top of her head, whispering that she's a cutie. Her squealing's louder this time and she wants to hear that again times hundred.

Hilda's bubbly voice can he heard by Valen from the master bedroom. Guess the orange glow seeping through the window isn't enough of a ray of sunshine. He's not gonna complain, why would he ever complain? Their voices are a melody for the mind and soul.

She's gushing about Calvana having it's own Battle Frontier within the agency's biggest project to date. She's also elated for the musical that's taking place in a few days. That's going to be a lot of fun.

Rosa went out for a walk after starting a painting, but he decided to relax and read books. chosen five extensively detailed books, the one he's reading is a monograph of Caravaggio. Books on Vermeer and Bruegel is on the round surface of his walnut table. A second surface that lies in-between is where he's placed larger sized books on Rembrandt and Poussin.

Before he sat down to read, he re-organized the awards that Rosa, Hilda, and him have won over the years that are in ornate cabinets. The trophy and ribbon from the last tournament and contest he won have been placed in their appropriate sections. The centerpieces are their league conference trophies, the Pokémon Masters League trophy, and their symbols from Hoenn's Battle Frontier. Rosa and Hilda have never entered the Calvanian Grand Performance, otherwise the contest shelf would have three giant ribbons instead of one.

Another ornate cabinet contain troves of precious memories captured in photographs. The latest addition is of Lisia, him, and their Pokémon. Next to it is a photo of Serena and him in Lilycove City, and in-between is a gift he received from her at the Lilycove Museum. It's fitting that one coordinator gifted another coordinator a ukiyo-e print of a kabuki trainer with a Salamence and a Hisuian Typhlosion.

There's the trotting, but he only hears a giggle. Arms suddenly encircle his neck, warmth's surging through him.

"Roar, Rosa used Wrap!" She leaps up onto the bed and bops his legs with her feet. "Grrr, feel Rosa's power!"

"I knew you were coming, ball of fluff." He rests his palms on her back. "Excelling at painting again?"

"Tee-hee, yeeeeep!"

Ooooh, he's reading the Caravaggio book with a complete catalogue of the painter's work It's close-ups and fold outs too! The Vermeer's book presented in the same way, and big boy's got two big books on the three leaf clover!

Noooooooooooow, if Valey thinks Super Detective Roooosa didn't notice what's on the desk, he's mistaken! Among the four new painting prints is her favorite Poussin work, The Speech of Critias!

...Right, it's time to for a serious matter. Valen seems to be doing okay, but what's on the surface may be different than what lurks underneath. The creaking of the door rings through her ears, but the door doesn't close before Valen and her acknowledge Gardevoir and Gengar.

"Sweetie, I want to ask you something." Rosa begins to caress his right cheek. "How do you feel about yourself?"

"Much better...but-" He takes a deep breath and scratches the back of his head. "I occasionally...worry about the worst-case scenario...eh heh."

It's not hard to figure out why this question came about—he's going to give a presentation about a museum painting in the near future.

Rosa slides her other hand over his left hand. Her touch is soothing for the body and mind. Her loving gaze stares deep into his eyes, no tension can withstand her love and care.

"There's no mountain that can't be climbed when we've got each other."

Her lullaby-like tone is music to his ears. Her sweet smile carries a fuzzy sensation that invades his body.

"I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was." He raises a fist near his right shoulder. "I will climb the tallest mountain with those most precious to me."

"That's my Valey!" She closes her eyes, her face glowing. "Buuuut you said one of the best is more appropriate!" she giggles and wagging her right finger. "Are you being a bad boy, hmmmm?"

"It's more accurate, but it doesn't sound as cool."

"Yay, I won again!" She presses her palms together. "Keep smiling for us, kay?"

"As long as I've got those closest to me, that can be arranged."

He pulls her in for a in for a brief kissing session. They prefer to take in each other's affection slowly. It's a massage for their mind and body. They want to stay in each other's arms forever, same applies to Hilda.

"I've told you about Leon's younger brother before, do you remember his name?"

"Hop, right?" he asks. "Rising star among researchers, just started a small lab in the Ériu region."

"Yep, but what I didn't tell you is that he desperately wanted to become champion."

"Intriguing," he remarks, "Leon's still the champ of Galar."

"Hop lost to Victor, but his brother was still proud of him," she says. "When Chairman Rose unleashed havoc upon Galar, Hop ended up with Zamazenta."


"I told you that because no matter what, we're proud of you too."

"Thank you, that means a lot." He rubs the top of her head. "I like how passionate Leon is about battling and his home region," he remarks. "He's a good role model for trainers."

"He's a cool guy, but his sense of direction is worse than Silver's crush denial."

Rosa and Valen laugh, then she snuggles up to him and kisses his right cheek. Her left arm's around his neck, his right arm's around her waist.

She extends the fold-out of The Calling of Pokémon Battles, this one being a close up of the work's details. There's no rush for painting prints because a number of these art books have beautiful photographs like these in them. That being said, they don't judge books by whether the photographs are in color or not, nor do they judge a book over how many pictures it has.

As they read, they quickly glance at each other over and over again. There's a heaviness in the air, but it's not worry or fear. No, the air's weighed down by a warm, sensual feeling.

The minutes tick by on the antique gilt clock that rests in one of the bookshelves. Beyond that, the silence has made an encore. It's so quiet that the sound of glossy pages rubbing against each other and their fingertips can be heard without much intrusion.

After several more pages, the heaviness evolves a Rhydon. After eyeing several more paintings, it evolves into a Rhyperior. Could also be Numel and Camerupt, because it's getting hot in here. Onto the table the book goes, they'll engage in their umpteenth reading marathon with Hilda later on. Valen runs one hand through her hair, his other hand on her back. She wraps her other arm around his neck. Down on the bed they go as they resume kissing with heightened intensity.

What are your thoughts on the chapter? Did you like the tender moments? What about the battle and the Kris scene?

And are you Team Luxray/Umbreon or Team Salamence/Milotic? :P
I'd like to reference more female artists. That's why I decided to add two here and two in Chapter 4.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 7: Living My Best Life

For those partaking in the performing arts, Angel City's Poussin Hall is their Barberini Stadium. It bears the surname of one of history's most renowned Kalosian-born painters, Neville Poussin. The galluptious, circular building is a late-eighteenth-century marvel that takes up two city blocks. Large, twisted columns line the entire length of the exterior, and each one has equal distance in-between. Each column has a double drum atop a flat surface. Underneath each surface is a spiral scroll, or a volute. Atop lies a towering sculpture of Napoleon Beauvilliers and his Talonflame. It penetrates the sky with its imposing presence. The shimmering sunlight reflects off of the aged, gleaming bronze used in depicting this legendary Kalosian champion and his signature Pokémon.

Several sedans, station wagons, and supercars line the sides of Yellow Street, 17th Avenue, and Rembrandt Avenue. Amidst the throng of pedestrians, numerous people have stopped to take photos of the hall and its surroundings. Wild Pokémon, such as Oddish and Starly, frolic about in the hall's pair of lush gardens, the plants ranging from berry trees to thick bushes. The gardens lie on both ends of the concrete plaza out front. The large plaza's filled to the brim with people and Pokémon, and the BW Agency's set up information booths for a meet-and-greet.

A large group of trainers have gathered around the booth on pro circuit sponsorship, but interest in sponsoring for the entertainment industry and the art world isn't far behind. Another booth's got the Ludicolo and Tsareena performers from the most recent contest at Ferguson Competition Hall, a Rillaboom and a Scrafty having joined them. They're among the selection of Pokémon actors and actresses that BW Agency's got on hand.

The biggest booth of them all is where one can find the agency's founder and owner. Her business cards are being gobbled up like free candy.

"Heeeeey!" Hilda's infectious, ear-to-ear grin greets the growing crowd. "There's something for everybody in Hilda's Free Smile Palooza!"

She twirls a pen in-between two fingers, gesturing for her fans to come collect their autographs. Rosa, Melanie, and Ragnar are within her line of sight, and they're also interacting with their fans. Sign and sign, sign till their arms gets tired! Take photos until the sun sets! Hehe, she's so silly!

One of her fans is leaping for joy with his Combusken, the teen having pulled super rare Leon, Winona, and Wallace cards out of just three packs. His older sister is with a group of women around Hilda's age. They're elated over posters of Valen and Jacques being signed by the classy cousin duo! They've got to take photos with them too! Cards and posters are among of the many items that the vendors are carrying, which also include coloring books, art prints, books, attire featuring people like Steven and Lisia.

Hehe, those two ladies are having a friendly Steven versus Wallace debate! One's got a Metang and the other's got a Sealeo! A Lance fan with a Dragonair wants in on it, who'll come out on top?!

"Oh yeah, time to snap selfies for the 'gram!" She thrusts her hand into her red bag. "Cell phone, Expert Trainer Hilda chooses you!"

Her left hand's being held sideways above her eyes. She sticks out her index and ring fingers and turns her back towards the camera. A series of bright flashes illuminate where she's standing. Her last series of pictures got seven thousand likes, but this one will get eight thousand likes!

Her stardom on social media's a direct result of what led to today's fun and festivities. She couldn't have known that a musical idea would be her big break. Fast-forward to now, and it's such a big hit in Unova and abroad! Just look at the length of that line, it's so long that she'd fall into a "that's what she said" joke!

There are antecedents to her idea of a Pokémon Musical—Pokémon and the performing arts have been besties since classical antiquity. Embarking on a journey to learn more about the performances of Bartholomäus Johannes Mozart, Joachim Siegfried Bach, and Alfonso Vivaldi. These legendary composters awakened a force lurking within her. Theatre, contests, and Caravaggio's paintings also influenced what she concocted in the lab of smiles called her mind.

She can still envision her teenage self scribbling the idea down on a crinkled up piece of paper. There she was, a girl in her early teen relaxing in a plush chair at city hall. Her mind was a race car while her mother and grandpa were chatting with the mayor. Two to four performances, to to four groups of five Pokémon, different songs or instrumentals for each group.

By sudden chance, or by intended fate, her mother and the mayor caught a glimpse of it. The dominos of doubt began to topple one by one after that. She picked hip-hop as the main style. It still is but she later added ballroom, salsa, disco, and funk.

With help from her parents, grandparents, and Elesa, the BW Agency was born. The best Pokémon actors and performers was her original goal, but she quickly expanded it to people and added other fields. It more than paid off—many of her bestest besties came into her life thanks to the agency. One of them turned out to be her soulmate. Hehe, here he comes.

"I won't deny it, I'm a straight rider." He leans in to kiss her lips. "Your boy Valen's here."

Hilda interlocks her left fingers in-between his right fingers. She strokes his cheek with her other hand, her eyes locked onto him. That Team Skull jacket shouldn't fool anyone—he's a giant Lillipup underneath. His smile oozes what a sweetheart he is. Hehe, she was blushing like crazy when she first caught him cooking his favorite meal! He was also a driving force in the agency's growth, the coach who led the players into lifting her up and encouraging her. It kept her trekking down the trail, and it later led to her great successes as a trainer.

"You're my hero, Val-Val," Hilda whispers in a mellisonant tone. "As long as you're by my side, there's no dream's out of reach for me."

"Heh, implying anything was ever out of reach for you," he quips with a lopsided smile. "Your skills are on par with how lively and beautiful you are."

"The giant flirt in my mom's acting course turned out to be the one for me." Her right fingertips are in front of her lower lip. "Who'd have thought?"

"It happens." Valen shrugs, his smile now placid but amused. "You never know who your soulmate's gonna be." He wraps an arm around Hilda's midsection. "We can fall in love in mysterious waaaays." His voice carries a smooth, melodious tone.

"That's my Val-Val!" She winks and wags a finger. "Only you can handle Rosa and I!"

"Oui." He closes his eyes and takes a bow. "Le vaillant roi et chevalier est honoré."

"You're lucky that we understand Kalosian." Hilda bops both of his cheeks. "I want to be the very best, like no one ever was!" She raises a fist above her head. "To have the best performers, the best artists, the best trainers, I could go on and on and on! That's my real test and my cause!"

"You will travel across the land, finding talent far and wide!" Rosa's bubbly voice can be heard in the near distance. "Teach the world to understand the talent that's inside!"

There's the other ray of sunshine, the trotting is less noticeable due to the commotion around them. That being said, not many can radiate the exact same level of energy as these two. They can make a Slaking get up and dance.

Before Rosa can jump on his back, he attempts to sweep an arm around her midsection. His Wrap attack misses, but her Wrap attack scores a direct hit. She finishes him off with a Double Kick and a Triple Kick. Ahhhhhh, he's soooo terrified that he kissed her on the lips.

"Bonjour, Madame Rosa." He'd bow again, but her feet bops are too powerful.

"They wonder how I do what I do!" Stars twinkle in Rosa's eyes. "Wherever Rosa goes, free smiles come too!" She leaps off of Valen and strides next to Hilda. "Tee-hee, he's been my biggest inspiration before you even knew who he was."

Hilda waves a hand in a playful, dismissive manner. "Girl please." She raises her chin, her eyes are closed and her smile's smug. "Thee can't toucheth this."

"Carefully observe and acquire knowledge." Rosa bends her elbow halfway, and her palm faces the sky. She closes her eyes, reciting, "What light through yonder window breaks?" Harmony and dramatic seamlessly blend in her voice and tone. "Has a king and knight come to sweep the queen off of her feet?

Rosa and Hilda catch Valen analyzing, and they decide he's analyzed enough. They pull him along, weaving their way through the throng as they make their way inside. Most of the squad is already present.

The interior's lavishly decorated, but that's the norm for many of these venues. Like the stadiums of the same era, the hall's interior is covered in marvelous buon frescoes by the Calvanian Fresco School. The Kalos motifs are heavy throughout the works, the subjects ranging from AZ grieving over the loss of Floette to the invasion of Kalos by Siscian Galar. The panels that the frescos were painted on are separated by a series of various ornate patters, which also surround all of the openings into corridors and other areas.

Classical-like sculptures and fancy furniture meticulously dot the hall's enormous main lobby, and no room here is without the aesthetic of Parfum Palace's interior. The sculptures range from a reproduction of Donatello's Zygarde to Steven Stone's The Geologist At Work, the figure in the latter holding a stele with a Xerneas relief.

Many of the large tables are veneered in tulipwood and have giltwood frames with a gleaming gold finish. The legs of each table are connected by a relief of Solgaleo's face, with Lunala spreading its wings behind its counterpart. The reliefs on the frames have intricate ornamentation of Steelix and Gyarados that extend from top to bottom. Each table is accompanied by a trio rosewood chaise sofas with yellow upholstery and outswept legs with feet resembling Arcanine paws.

No matter where you look, it's like Dialga yanked a magnificent structure from antiquity and brought it into the present. Not before stopping in the 1700s, specifically during the twilight of the Rococo and the rise of Neoclassicism.

Sassy laughter and a poke to the head is all he needs to know that's Skyla here. Guess she wants to fall back with him. She just jumped on his back and has her arms wrapped around his neck. It's been a while since she's done that.

Kris is gushing with Melanie over the latter's newest jacket…and their necklaces? Kris has one of those Botticelli necklaces Wallace put out. She's more over the moon than usual—Silver just grunted upon her saying his name. …Is that why Silver took off without telling anybody? In any case, Incoherent grumbling is the only response she's getting from Silver.

Rosa whips out her phone, Kris and Melanie will be joining her and Hilda. He offers to hold the bag full of novels Melanie's got from the nearby bookstore, to which she happily accepts.

Silver uses this photo session as a chance to scurry away. He uses it to pat Silver on the back for a job well done. Silver's escaped yet another close call, for Kris is still talking fashion with Melanie. His deep breaths are so heavy that he sounds like his Aggron after a night partying with the dragons.

Valen folds his arms and exchanges a smirk with Skyla. "Should Silver feel flustered, it is evidence of an approaching Kris."

"There is no escaping Kris." Skyla giggles with a playful wink. "Give up."

Ragnar wants to fall back with Skyla and him, eh? That's cool in his book.

The eyes of all five dragons glisten with excitement at the rows upon rows of attire in these fancy cabinets. All of it is for them and the other Pokémon to choose, and those Pokémon are already making their choices. Without a second thought, the dragons leap towards the fancier attire and began the super serious process of becoming dashing dragons. The humans know how cool dragons are, why else would they paint them on the walls?

A row of fedoras has mesmerized Valen's Salamence. He doesn't care if wearing a fedora is silly to the humans because he's a dragon. Checkmate. He's just received a squeal of approval from Rosa's Milotic. How can he say no to such a gorgeous Pokémon?

Hydreigon, Garchomp, and Dragonite stare each other down. It's time to prove who's the most dapper between the three. Hydreigon heads towards the bowler hats, Garchomp's ready to crown himself, and Dragonite wants the top hat and monocle.

To Silver's Kommo-o, it makes more sense for the humans to do this for themselves instead of going to those places called clothing stores. He's dumbfounded why Melanie's Dragonite is laughing over his comment. What he said makes perfect sense, he learned it from his trainer. Why is Dragonite saying that's the problem?

Hydreigon happily roars that he's made his decision. He tells Kommo-o, Dragonite, and Garchomp that it doesn't matter what he wears, because he'll be the most dapper of them all. Dragonite and Garchomp scoff at this, asking if Hydreigon's using Sleep Talk.

Salamence's too busy flirting with Rosa's Milotic—she absolutely adores the sunglasses that Valen's helping him put on. The humans would call Valen a wingman, even though humans don't have wings.

"You've got this," Valen whispers to Salamence. "Show em what a classy dragon you are."

Valen's doesn't seem too sure about a dragon wearing a fedora, but it makes his Salamence display his doofy grin. Good enough for him, plus the romance between Salamence and Milotic is adorable.

Rosa and Hilda trot toward their respective dragons, wasting no time in helping them put on their attire.

"Super Hydreigon and King Garchomp are ready to own the show!" they cheer "Go, go go!"

Melanie high fives her Dragonite, who's already put on his top hat and monocle. Dragonite uses his height to tease her, to which she chuckles at.

"Looks like number five's up to his hold tricks." Melanie looks to her right with her hands on her hips. "Kommo-o's still waiting."

Valen walks next to Melanie and throws an arm around her midsection. "We all know why." She pulls her closer. "Right?"

"You just wanted a hug from a fashion queen like me." Melanie chuckles and wraps her arms around him. "You aren't slick, doofus."

Jubilation may've commandeered the room, but it's all fun and games until Silver endures the absolutely terrifying situation of...being around his crush and wondering if he should've worn the infamous purple suit. It's truly a catastrophic calamity for big tough Silver to have a soft spot for his crush. Not even Kommo-o poking him can snap him out of this state.

He's not blushing, he ingested too much hot sauce earlier. No, she shouldn't call him Sil, and she should refrain from calling him Silvey. Please stop repeating the latter because that's the cuter p-it's not cute at all. He can't even verbally object—he's a Dark-type and her smile's a Fairy-type.

Humph, what a load of nonsense he just said! Even so, type advantage is far from everything in a battle, so maybe he's got a chance to evade em-

"Come on, join me for some fun!"

Silver fumbles with his black and red jacket, his grunts becoming more apparent with each one. His long, red hair brushes up against his upper back, his eyes are fixated on the paintings above.

Oh joy, she's wrapped an arm around his neck. For the love of Lugia, don't take pictures with him' He already has a swarm of Butterfree in his stomach! Why is it always him?! Even in Johto, it was always him!

He shuts his eyes, scowling while rubbing his hair. Ragnar and Jacques are jabbing him with their elbows, egging him on to ask her out. Even the dragons are laughing at him. Thanks a lot, you annoying...ly cute-shut up already. No room for fake Silver around here.

Still, he wishes he had Valen's smoothness and ability to accept that he's a dor-NO!

"If I wasn't Silver, I'd wish to be Valen."

"If I wasn't Valen, I'd also wish to be Valen."

Silver didn't mean to blurt that out, but whatever. "You're no help."

"I'm aware."

Heh, Silver shouldn't groan when he brought it upon himself. At least the others found it funny. Skyla's cracking up the most, guess laughter's about to take off...that sounded better when he didn't mentally say it to himself.

…Wait a sec, does Silver realize that his behavior around Kris is nearly the same as his own around Rosa and Hilda a few years back? What about the fact that he accepts his dorky side?

Who knows, but it's almost time for the show to start. Excitement's raging inside of him but he vows not to be bubbly. He's not cute, he was never cute, and he'll never be cute. Refuting a false hypothesis doesn't count as denial.

Strobe lights flash neon colors in a synchronized pattern that's on loud and catchy instrumental. A jumbled concoction of tapping echoes as the audience brush past each other to find a good spot to sit, passing the throng who've already taken a seat. Several people gesture toward the snack and drink vendors who've just entered.

The seating area's large enough to hold over a half a million, and the main stage could snugly fit over a dozen Wailord side by side. In-between the main stage and the backstage lies an extravagant and elevated platform. This is where the nobility once sat and stood in awe of the majestic performances, it's now where trainers of the participating Pokémon and those accompanying them reside. Surrounding them are buon frescoes of opera, orchestra, and dancing Pokémon shows. The intricate ornamentation patterns that separates the paintings are the largest and most extravagant in the entire hall.

Rosa, Hilda, and the others have already made their way to the platform. Rosa grins with her eyes closed, and her arms are bent upwards in front of her sides. Hilda's got the same facial expression, but she's jumping up while tapping her palms together.

They catch Valen slapping his mouth shut. It's desperate attempt to stop his bubbly side from leaking out. He barely succeeded but they'll let him off the hook this time. Lisia's show-stopping entrance is about to kick things off.

The four Tsareena spin and raise their arms. Lisia swoops down in-between them on her Altaria, then leaps onto her knees. She rockets back up and waves at the roaring audience.

"I'm so so so EXCITED!" Lisia squeals, clapping her hands as she jumps around. "I've never hosted one of Hilda's musicals before!" she spins. "It's time for our first group of performers!"

Lisia extends her right hand out towards the stage's entrance. Salamence, Hydreigon, Garchomp, Dragonite, and Kommo-o stride onto the stage, extremely proud over their attire. This is what happens when the squad pulls up looking fresher than a ripe Oran Berry.

Salamence's confident that none of his fellow Salamence can pull off a black fedora and sunglasses as well as he can. He's also got what the humans called a saxophone prop wrapped around his neck. He laughs at Dragonite's attempt to tip his purple top hat, which nearly falls off. Dragonite plays it off by pretending to adjust his red tie and monocle.

Kommo-o's rocking this samurai helmet "like a boss." That's how Hilda described it and he liked it. This armor's a good match—he learned about matching outfits by observing Kris.

Hydregion wishes that his smaller heads could have black bowler hats too, but at least he gets to wear three blue bowties and a cape. Upon hearing Hydreigon call himself a superhero, Garchomp waves his right fin in a dismissive manner. He uses his other fin to point towards his golden, crown-like hat and his red robe.

The human crowd and their Pokémon are eager to see them bust a move. Their dance moves impressed everybody at Rosa's twenty-first birthday party so they've got this performance in the bag. Their trainers are stoked to see them strut their moves…except for Silver to some extent. He's not the type to show excitement…usually…Kris might throw his world into a Whirlpool attack.

"Warm up time!" She points toward the DJ and snaps her fingers. "Hit it!"

A smooth, catchy hip-hop beat with an electronic sound echoes throughout the main stage. Hydreigon leads the pack by extending his left and right heads in front of him. Garchomp and Salamence follow his lead with their fins and talons respectively. Dragonite and Kommo-o extend their hands, now they're all in the groove. Each dragon raises up their respective appendages up while they jump backwards in a side to side motion. They jump forward and repeat this in rapid succession, laughing like a bunch of dorky friends as they do so.

After a few minutes pass, the beat stops playing. The dragons cry out in excitement over the round of applause and the cheering crowd. The DJ prepares to play the second song, but Lisia cannot wait more than a minute or two. What's coming is her favorite song, and she can't stop herself from jumping.

Lisia places her left hand on her hip. "Here comes the main course!" She winks and holds her right hand sideways. "Three, two, one, hit it!" She sticks out two fingers in front of her forehead. "'Meloetta Records, Ni-City!'"

The blaring hip-hop beat's made up of rhythmic clapping, an electronic bass, and a trumpet-like melody. It's upfront, it's proud, and even the Pokémon in the crowd can't resist the urge to dance.

Salamence leads the pack, and they start by doing the robot dance. He falls back for Hydregion, easing into a sliding motion with his feet. Garchomp, Dragonite, and Kommo-o waste no time in joining Salamence. They thrust their bodies in all directions while moving back and forth. Rinse and repeat, time to spin like true draconic gentlemen. Salamence, Dragonite, and Garchomp tip their hats for extra swag, whatever that word means. Human language can be really weird.

"Strut it, strut it!" Lisia bends forward, swaying her body from side to side. "You've got this, you cool dragons!"

This jam by Curtis is so so so so so CATCHY and FUN! Eeeek, look at those Eevee and Vulpix in the crowd! They're trying to dance with the dragons! That Pikachu and Chikorita are following the dragon's movements too! So so so CUTEEEEE!

Hydreigon's throwing his two smaller up like he don't care! Salamence just spun and winked at Rosa's Milotic and she's squealing line a fangirl! Look at Garchomp, Dragonite, and Kommo-o owning the dance floor!

"Do these dragons rock or what?!" Lisia twirls twice, her eyes gleaming and her grin ear-to-ear. "Come on, don't be shy about it! You know you want to go clubbing with them!"

The audience roars in elation, causing the dragons to let out elated roars or cries. Hydreigon also does his usual happy dance.

In the section that he's watching the musical from, Valen spots his Luxray dancing with Hilda's Umbreon. They're in-sync with each other and the dragons. Nearby, Gengar keeps vanishing and re-appearing to roll on the ground. He does that at random intervals for some unknown reason.

Skyla's snapping her fingers to the beat. Jacques isn't in a dancing mood, but he can't help but tap a foot. Rosa and Hilda snap a few photos of themselves dancing, and Skyla joins them for a few more. Afterwards, Hilda and Rosa catch Valen off-guard by wrapping their arms around his neck and midsection respectively.

"'Yeah yeah, they've got smooth moves, they're using Dragon Dance a-gain, yeah yeah!'"

Their melodious voices make him feel fuzzy inside, but he's also mystified by their apparent need to make him dance with them. He loves the warmth he feels when their arms are wrapped around him, but why the lean forward, the swaying, and the twirling?

Even though the sheer power of Rosa and Hilda's grip renders him powerless, free hugs are free hugs. He's absolutely, positively, one hundred and sixty nine percent not cute, but he'll never say no to an nice hug from the crazy wholesome minds.

Oh? Lisia's invited Rosa's Milotic to come onto the stage to dance with Salamence. Milotic didn't even let Lisia finish before she began dancing with him. Milotic waves her body vertically and Salamence waves his body horizontally. Encore's been used on the audience's Eruption and Milotic's eyes sparkle like Rosa's diamond-lace necklace.

"That's my boy," Valen compliments. "Well, our boys in this case." His Salamence got mad game and nobody can change his mind.

Melanie's Pyroar and Scizor has Jacques' Tsareena giggling over their less than stellar attempts to follow the dragon's movements. Silver's Zoroark fares better in impressing Melanie's Absol, but the former's now blushing. Jacques' Sylveon twirls so much that she becomes dizzy. but her Greninja teammate helps her out.

Gardevoir's cackling alerts everybody to a new version of an expected situation. Silver's plopped himself onto a seat, refusing to dance with Kris. Heh, he's doing this while Kris refuses to ask directly. They won't even look at each other. Melanie's leaning towards them with her hands on her hips, her playful smile saying it all. Leaf's teasing Kris with a wink and giggle, while Ragnar eggs Silver on via nudges from his elbow.

Silver's Feraligatr and Kris' Meganium have other plans, adding an extra layer of awkwardness. Feraligatr bows like a knight in front of his queen. Meganium giggles and kisses Feraligatr on the cheek. Feraligatr leaps up and tries to show off his moves, but he trips over himself. At least Meganium's Vine Whip broke his fall.

His Typhlosion introduces herself to Meganium and fist bumps Feraligatr. It doesn't take long for Feraligatr to blush upon something that Typhlosion says to Meganium. Where has he seen that before?

"Silver's a Drapion and Kris is a Hippowdon," Valen comments. "Silver can't say no when confronted by Kris."

It's nice to know that he's not alone in being rendered powerless by a grip from a bubbly lady. Like Rosa and Hilda, Kris is too wholesome to take advantage of her special someone's inability to say no.

Chilling with the Pokémon in the backyard with a good book. These contour chairs in the patio never cease to be comfortable and relaxing. All that Valen needs now is sunshine, and he's not talking about the one in the sky. Nor is he talking about one.

They just got home about twenty minutes ago, but he was already reading his two in-depth books on Poussin in the morning. Excitement's an understand after today's musical. All four of those performances were amazing.

Text messages from Rui-what. His lips part halfway, and his blinking's rapid. Is that…her Suicune…howling along to the song played? Now Wes is texting him, he should've expected the words "help me" from the guy. That text came at the same time Rui sent a picture of herself sticking her tongue out. It's nice to see them working together to mend their relationship.

Suddenly, Valen's silly grin lights up his face. Screw it, he can't contain his excitement any longer. "That was a lotta fun!" He raises his fists in front of his shoulders. "We've gotta do it more often!"

The other Pokémon laugh with Salamence, who happily closes his eyes. The dragon soars towards Valen and nudges him. He wants head pats and he wants them now. Valen's more than happy to oblige.

It's also time for Team Skull's Valen to state the obvious. "I'm proud to be Hilda's number one fanboy, and I'm Rosa's-"

Trotting makes him slap his mouth shut and show off his best impromptu impression of a Charmeleon's face. His squeaky yelps are drowned out by Rosa's giggling and Hilda's tittering.

Oh no, they caught him acting bubbly! Rosa's Milotic is giggling with her body wrapped around Salamence, that's why Salamence's looking around in a panic!

Only Hilda exits in the back door—Rosa has a different type of business to attend to. Gotta paint 'em all. Milotic's squealing suggests that Salamence is bragging about how cool of a dragon he is.

"Ready or not, here I come!" Hilda carefully lays out a large sketch on the table. "I want Pokétopia Park to have a Battle Frontier!" Eevee Rangers action figures will protect the sketch from the mild wind.

Instead of sitting on a different contour chair, she plops herself onto Valen's lap with the energy of a dozen Lillipup. It wasn't her best idea—she accidentally sends both of them and the chair dropping onto the patio.

Aieeeee, she's such a klutz! Please tell her that she didn't damage the contour chair! What if Valen's smile vanishes because the chair got damaged?!

Slowly, Valen rises onto his feet. He offers Hilda a hand, and she grabs it without hesitation. As he helps her up, both blink with a wide-eyed expressions. Their confusion quickly gives way to laughter and a series of bops to each other's forehead.

Valen picks up the undamaged chair and places it upright. "Was that necessary, you kook?" He re-takes his seat and pulls Hilda onto his lap. "Don't take me down with you."

"Hehe, you got me!" She tilts her head towards the sketch. "Check it out, queen's orders!"

The outline is in the shape of a Starmie, the red jewel-like area being a information center, a lounge, and a food court in one. The tips of Starmie's back stars contain the facilities, and they've already gotten their names: Battle Studio, Battle Temple, Battle Pavilion, Battle Ziggurat, and Battle Basilica.

Hilda's smile becomes a bit sheepish, and her gaze wanders away from him. "I wonder if I can pull this off." She fidgets with her fingers, and her tone's slightly diffident. "Lisia's had roles in big projects, but I've never tackled anything of this magnitude before."

"Guzma had doubts about his fashion brand, but look where he is now." He rubs her head. "Even if this doesn't work out, you'll have other chances to pull off more amazing feats."

"…Right, you've told me this in the past…so I wouldn't throw in the towel."

Hilda rests her head on his upper chest, his warm touch massaging her mind. She kisses him on the lips and it turns into a session. The intense passion grows with each slow connection of their lips, and warmth commanders the air around then.

"Thank you for everything," she whispers. "Really...I didn't think I'd find anybody...much less someone like you."

"Through trial and tears, our bond remained the same," he hums into her right ear. "You and Rosa are the sunshine that makes my day."

She'd like to hold him tight for hours, but she'll settle for any amount of tender, tranquil silence. The tingling from his tender touch, the relaxing warmth of his hugs, what more does she need?

That's not the only story she's been told as encouragement. Rosa and him also told her about a trainer who discovered a Velázquez portrait of King Galahad I in the year 1845. Nobody believed him but Samuel Johnathan Stone got the last laugh. Twice, thanks to the Rembrandt painting he stumbled upon.

Even if such a big idea doesn't work out for her, she'll still try to carry on in the long run. That's just how she rolls. In the meantime, Raihan better watch his butt! Rosa and her will defeat him in a selfie battle on his home turf. Hehe, maybe it'll be a showdown between Raihan, Rosa, and Expert Photographer Hilda!

"If you do set up shop in Galar, Loïc's willing to help too."

Hilda's eyes light up. "Did Loïc ask Nessa out yet?!" She leans so close that their noses almost touch. "Tell me!"

"Their first date went great but that's to be expected from my smooth cousin."

"Awesomeeeeeeee!" She clasps her hands under her chin. "Tell him I said thanks and congrats!"

"Will do."

"I also know what you're contemplating—I'll always be there to help you!" Another lean, her forehead touching his forehead. "You'll hit a home run for sureeee!"

Gah, so much for not blushing! He shouldn't get flustered around his two girlfriends, but he can't help it! They're so adorable and gorgeous! And those smiles, those pure and wholesome smiles!

Chill out, you ding dong. Act cool, act cool, pretend like nothing happened just now.

"Err...um...you wanna watch something?" He gulps and repeatedly pokes two fingers together. "Or play some video games...eh heh...heh...heh." He sighs with his arms dangling by his sides. "Why am I such a dork?"

She titters, deciding to let him off the hook this time. Now then, she could yank him along to her gaming and action figure room. He'd sit in her cool throne chair, she'd sit on his lap, and they would have lots of fun. However, the warmth in the air's now ripe with the move Eruption. She's not talking about Groudon in its famous movie franchise.

"How strong is your Vital Throw now, hm?" She slowly rubs her thumb across his chin, her sultry gaze moving up and down. "Sometimes, I like my favorite boy to be bad."

Hilda's not about to get the jump on him this time. "Challenge accepted," he whispers into her right ear. "You're no match for me."

His husky tone gives her a Shock Wave, and her smile gains a hint of risqué. Her other hand's now stroking his upper chest.

"Let's see you try dethroning me, bad boy."

"Gladly." He lowers his tone and strokes her hair. "A Charm attack should weaken you enough for a Vital Throw."

"I like the sound of that, but it's almost dinner time." Hilda straightens out her posture and clasps her hands behind her back. "We'll settle this later today, you fine boy."

"I'd figured you delay your defeat."

Salamence, Milotic, and the other Pokémon observe Valen and Hilda enter the house while laughing. They love to see them happy, but they still don't understand why Valen talk attacks like that with Rosa and Hilda.

There's no pool table in the house, so why not make the billiard room a painter's studio? That's what Rosa wanted to do for some time, but it got pushed back to more urgent matters.

Rosa hums as she moves a paintbrush with precision. Little by little, each stroke of the brush brings her latest work to life through the vibrant pigments. She briefly stops to wave at Gengar—the jubilant Ghost-type is eagerly waiting to see the finished work.

Rosa would like to paint a sitting portrait at some point, just like they did in the past. She tends to rely on her imagination and the many art books she has access to. In this case, it's the portraiture history book and the Holbein book she got Valen for his birthday many years ago. Both books lie on a walnut desk, and they've been opened to display the same color photograph. Of course, she takes great care to avoid getting paint on any books.

Heinrich Holbein's Portrait of Sir Endymion Beckett is the work Rosa's chosen to base her latest work on. The inspiration came from seeing the work in person again—both photos were provided by the Calvanian Museum of Art. Beckett, the Earl of Wedgehurst, sat in a lavishly decorated interior for this work. His vibrant vermillion clothing pop out of the work, and it's so intricate that even the ornate Flygon pattern of the table fabric is clear as day.

From the walls to Lisia's clothing, the textures of everything have been depicted in Holbein-like aesthetic to the best of her proficiency. Her Altaria's balancing a ball atop her heard while relaxing on a vibrant blue rug. The Pokémon's reflection visible in the pellucid water within her bowl. Both trainer and Pokémon have the rich, lifelike sheen she loves applying to her works.

"Tee-hee, Lisia's going to love the end result!" One hand on her hip, her other hand sideways with two fingers sticking out. "She's awesome like Roooosa!"

The Rosa Train has unloaded a Snorlax-sized load of energy into the studio, buuuut it's not just her! Lisia's energy is popping out of this portrait! She loves to take tons of photos, but painting's soooo much fun!

For personal reasons, the most important decorations within her studio are the painting prints on the walls. The largest one, A Street in Agate Village, is one of several Orre landscapes by a predecessor of hers. Keith Whitley was the defacto leader of the Unovan Impressionists, having trained under Monet and other leading Impressionists from Kalos. He also dabbled in Classicism, Romanticism, and Realism. Learning about him and his artistry inspired her to paint in various styles and mediums.

Jeremiah Aiden O'Connor's A Scenic Journey depicts a trainer and his Rillaboom trekking the gorgeous Éirish countryside where ancestors of hers once lived, and where a few relatives still live. Jasper Vermeer and Domingo Velázquez hailed from the other two regions that her heritage originated from. Vermeer's Trainer With a Pearl Earing is her favorite work by the artist, and it's the same story for Velázquez's Two New Trainers.

"I should do a triple world tour and visit Paldea, Alkmaardam, and Éiru one day." She ventures into a sea of nostalgia. "They made my imagination go wild as a kid."

Unova's represented by Tobias Cole's Sunrise Over Floccesy Town. The town's still a farming community, making it a cool insight into how the area was back then. Rounding it out are Raphael's The Ultimate Weapon, Caravaggio's The Battle of Geosenge, Rembrandt's Landscape with Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon, Titian's Truth and Ideals, and Leonardo's Lady With a Mienshao.

Her studio's a relatively simple set-up, but it more than does the trick. Those prints loom over a stack of canvases and a numerous paintbrushes organized on a walnut desk. Several dozen pigments have been painstakingly organized in an ebony shelf. Some are sorted by color, while others have been grouped into the palettes of individual artists.

A second ebony cabinet contains a trove of ceramics from all over the world. Reproductions of Ancient Kasmenestian red-figure and black figure vases, the Draconid Empire's dragon bowls, the Ishtarian Empire's lavishly decorated gold dishes, cast bronze jars from the Taizhou region, gotta rep 'em all.

The top shelf contains the largest ceramic and her personal favorite: a ceremonial jar from the Uttara Pushya region is the largest ceramic. It depicts the eight-armed Gigantamax Machamp from the region's mythology. The artist lavished it in various shades of shimmering gold, and its arms contained items that range from a dagger to a basket of ripe berries. Three "normal" Gigantamax Machamp, representatives in said mythology, round out the remaining sides.

She's a big social media star, and is known enough to have merch featuring her. She'll keep on using her popularity for the greater good and to make people smile. That's why this studio will demonstrate how art transcends time and brings people from all walks of life together. The originals of most of these paintings and ceramics be found in Calvanian Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Gallery of Art, and The Aspertia Gallery.

Oh, silly her! She has to go clean up! She needs place her apron and gloves in the basket! Time to zoom down to the second floor! Zoom zoom zoom!

The tapping of her trotting down the stairs creates a rhythm. The sound of water launching out of a faucet can be heard less than a minute later. A few more minutes pass, then Rosa trots back up the staircase.

She takes a seat in her lavish, throne-like chair, grabbing two books off of the small walnut table on the right. Time to relax and read writings by Leonardo, Alberti and Cennini. Leonardo's writings have been her most consulted guide for drawing and painting for many years. Alberti's writing has been consulted multiple times, and Cennini's writing has helped her with painting in a medieval-like fashion. She's both unorthodox and traditional and she's proud of it.

She narrows her eyes and points sideways with her thumb sticking out. Decisions, decisions, flipping page after page. Which one of the remaining two ideas should the queen paint next? Should she add more to her queue? She want to paint lots and lots and lots and lots of landscapes, people and Pokémon.

Tee-hee, trotting and tittering! That means Hilda's coming! Valey's trying to be all mysterious and cool, but there's no escaping Rosa!

She leaps out of the chair, just as Valen and Hilda enter the studio. "Hiiiii!" she bows and twirls. "Roar, welcome to Rosa's Stupendous Studio of Shining Smiles!"

"Heeeey, that's a great name!" Hilda jumps with her palms folded. "And a great painting!"

"Two balls of fluff."

Valen hones in on the latest masterpiece by a masterpiece. Extreme realism is what Holbein brought to the world of portraiture. The potency of the verisimilitude in a Holbein results in a sensation that the portrait has come alive.

Does he even need to say how good of a job she did? Her attempt to channel Holbein's style is remarkable. Lisia looks like she's about to pop out of the painting and spin. Her face has a glow to it, but it also oozes the confidence of a naturally talented performer. She's got one leg in front and one leg bent. The left leg's relaxed, but the right leg's tense. This is a clear indicator of contrapposto.

"Whatcha think, hmmmm?"

"I like it!" Hilda high fives her. "Keep on rocking!"

"Good job." Valen rubs her head. "Keep it up."

Rosa's studied all of the Old Masters with intensity and a deep affection for art, and it's more than paid off. Nobody in the contemporary art world. channels the Old Masters better than she can. Yes, he is biased towards her. Yes, he has the proof to back up his claim. He lives up to his moniker of number one fanboy.

"Sooooooooooooooooooooooo, did you put that painting print up on the master bedroom's wall?"

He'd question why she's leaning so close to him while giving him her trademark adorable face, but the keyword here is adorable. There is no escaping her adorableness.

"Yeah, it's chilling with its friends."

"Woo-hoo, I want to celebrate the gathering of painting besties!"

Rosa twirls around and yanks both Valen and Hilda out of the room. Tee-hee, look at their silly surprised faces! They know it's time to prepare dinner! Today's special is garlic parmesan pasta and Unovan pizza!

This was my first attempt at writing a Pokémon Musical. I hope you liked it! Any thoughts, comments, and what Pokemon ship team you're on would be appreciated :)

What did you think of the interactions? How about the scene with Rosa in her studio?

A small portion of Hilda's backstory was mentioned in Identity, so returning readers may recognize those bits.

The story about the trainer and Velázquez was inspired by Laura Cumming's The Vanishing Velázquez. The nonfiction book's about John Snare, a bookseller in 19th century London who thought he had discovered a Velázquez portrait of Charles I. Unfortunately, it wasn't and the real portrait has yet been found, assuming it still exists.
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Angy Tumbleweed
In Guzma's Closet
  1. sylveon-shiny
  2. gothitelle
  3. froslass
  4. chandelure
  5. mimikyu
Hey BossCar! Sorry for the late Catnip! I read chapter 1, and per your crit preferences, I will do my best to keep things on the lighter side.

So right off the bat I do particularly enjoy this change of pace from the first chapter of Identity. It looks like Valen's much more confident, much more aware of his strengths, and even more aware of his feelings toward his ladies. I do really enjoy the vibes that they all enjoy being together, and that Valen enjoys being around them. I feel like that really shines through in this chapter. I also really liked how you wrote the Pokemon/Trainer interactions in general. Everyone has their own unique little personality it seems, and I quite dig that.

More on the critical side, I do sort of see that you're still veering off the subject at hand to talk about something related to art and whatever Valen happens to be observing. It's really neat how much thought you've put into the "Pokemonified" versions of these artists and art, and I can clearly see that these are things that you care and know a lot about. It's super awesome! However, when expositions about paintings and artists are randomly popping up in the middle of you trying to set the scene of everyone together post battle, or while something completely different is happening, it starts to muddle things. There were a couple times where I couldn't quite figure out what was going on because I was so lost in the art based exposition.

I do see a lot more of Valen speaking Kalosian! Very nice. However, I am going to point you to this post and this post about writing bilingual characters, as I noticed you're doing that thing where he'll say something in Kalosian, then speak English again in the next sentence. In reality, bilingual speakers (who know English) will tend to speak English around other English speakers, and might only switch if they forget a word, or if they're talking mad shit. Or they'll use filler words. I still fuck this up sometimes myself so those posts are really good bases to have when writing a multilingual character!

All in all, cute story! I think it has the foundation to be very nice as a standalone story, but I think you do need to work on keeping the exposition on track in the meantime. I do see a lot of improvement, and I'm very proud of you for it! Keep up the good work :)


Pokémon Trainer
Hey BossCar! Sorry for the late Catnip! I read chapter 1, and per your crit preferences, I will do my best to keep things on the lighter side.

So right off the bat I do particularly enjoy this change of pace from the first chapter of Identity. It looks like Valen's much more confident, much more aware of his strengths, and even more aware of his feelings toward his ladies. I do really enjoy the vibes that they all enjoy being together, and that Valen enjoys being around them. I feel like that really shines through in this chapter. I also really liked how you wrote the Pokemon/Trainer interactions in general. Everyone has their own unique little personality it seems, and I quite dig that.

More on the critical side, I do sort of see that you're still veering off the subject at hand to talk about something related to art and whatever Valen happens to be observing. It's really neat how much thought you've put into the "Pokemonified" versions of these artists and art, and I can clearly see that these are things that you care and know a lot about. It's super awesome! However, when expositions about paintings and artists are randomly popping up in the middle of you trying to set the scene of everyone together post battle, or while something completely different is happening, it starts to muddle things. There were a couple times where I couldn't quite figure out what was going on because I was so lost in the art based exposition.

I do see a lot more of Valen speaking Kalosian! Very nice. However, I am going to point you to this post and this post about writing bilingual characters, as I noticed you're doing that thing where he'll say something in Kalosian, then speak English again in the next sentence. In reality, bilingual speakers (who know English) will tend to speak English around other English speakers, and might only switch if they forget a word, or if they're talking mad shit. Or they'll use filler words. I still fuck this up sometimes myself so those posts are really good bases to have when writing a multilingual character!

All in all, cute story! I think it has the foundation to be very nice as a standalone story, but I think you do need to work on keeping the exposition on track in the meantime. I do see a lot of improvement, and I'm very proud of you for it! Keep up the good work :)
Thank you for your comment, and I'm glad that you think I've improved! I'll try to take your crit into account to the best of my ability!

Yeah, I still find myself having to cut down or move descriptions around. :oops: Maybe the transitioning need to be smoothened out too.

The Kalosian sentences and phrases are a quirk of his, but after looking at the posts, I see what you mean. I'll try to improve on it while not totally scrapping the quirk.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 8: You've Got a Friend in Me

Rummaging rummaging rummaging…he's found it! He knew it was in the master bedroom's closest!

Luxray carefully places an old, thick photo album on the blanket he brought along. Years ago, Valen used this blanket to cover a baby Shinx whenever said kitten fell asleep. The kitten photos in this black-colored album are different from the ones in the gray-colored album. The latter is off-limits to all but a select few, the former is not.

He's definitely not a cute kitten, he's a proud and edgy feline. There's plenty of photos of him as a kitten in this album, but there's someone else in every single picture. Someone so important to him that he's willing to toss his pride aside.

Luxray flips open the imposing album, and the layout is exactly as he remembers. The first photo is of him as a baby Shinx, snuggling up to baby Valen in his crib. There's Valen giving him belly rubs while wearing a Salamence costume, Valen feeding him with a milk bottle, and the routine fetch competition he had with Boltund. One page flip later and there's the blanket when it was brand new.

Photos of him with his teammates are in here too. There's the shy Ralts who became a cocky Gardevoir, and there's Bagon wearing the Salamence costume. Bagon thought if he wore the Salamence costume, he'd be able to fly. He ignored everybody who said it was too big for him. Golisopod, who joined the team in Alola, was cracking up upon seeing this for the first time. Salamence tried to hide behind Valen, only to remember that he had evolved and was now too big.

Gengar materializes from the floor, his eyes closed and his grin gaping. He laughs about the time he first attempted to sing opera—a photo of that and an unamused edgelord feline lies within this album.

Gengar's been around for a long time—he can still remember this area's overall emptiness before the houses were built. He took up residence here to play pranks, but what he really wanted was a friend to play with. Nowadays, he's got lots of friends. He's also got the best trainer he could've asked for.

Luxray and Gengar laugh at second photo of Bagon in the Salamence costume. The Poliwrath belonging to Valen's mother is frantically trying to keep Bagon from leaping onto the cool old car owned by Valen's father. The third and fourth pictures show Bagon in the same costume, but they also show Melanie's Dratini in a Dragonite costume that doesn't fit.

Valen's taking the team to Pokémon Square today, so Luxray wanted to look back in time. Pokémon Square's where they met Bagon. Sometime later, it was the sight of Quilava's evolution into Typhlosion. There are many other memories, battles and otherwise. The team's aware of his uncertainly regarding tournaments, but they fully trust him. Whatever he does is okay with them if it makes him happy. Their desire to see him happy is so strong that it led to Shelgon evolving into Salamence.

The teasing and laughter of the play fighting between Valen and Rosa is starting to leak down from the third floor. Hilda would be teaming up with Rosa but she had some business to deal with.

An orchestra of footsteps, conversation, roars, and cries greet everybody who Pokémon Square, which becomes a village during the day. The mighty skyline of downtown bears towers over main plaza and its connectors to the sidewalk. Leaves on the concrete stir to life by passing cyclists and their Pokémon, which range from Jolteon to Ninjask.

The plaza and connectors are encircled by lush and vibrant grassy terrain.. Trees, bushes, and other plants are scattered throughout and on the edges of the grass. There's plenty of benches to relax on, plus an ample amount of picnic tables. Fields for battling are present, but there are also fields for Pokémon who want to play with bouncy balls or frisbees.

It's not uncommon for music to blare around here, but Valen's Luxray hissing along to a rock instrumental is a different story…at least in public. He rolls his eyes at a pair of humans throwing "pspsps" his way. Does look like a baby Shinx? No, because he's not some cute and cuddly kitty. Muk that, and Melanie's Pyroar needs to stop his posh laughter.

He's proud feline no matter what they say, a battle with make them go away! Every pspsps they say to him takes him one step closer to max edge! His pride's about to break! He needs a little room to brood! Belly rubs will take him closer to max edge, his pride's about to break!

Valen's interacting with his fans, but he's been listening in on Luxray's antics. "Heh, he's such a silly kitty."

As expected, Luxray gives him a pass. It's not because of Umbreon's squealing-that smile Luxray reserves for him hasn't changed one bit. He's always gotten a pass from the little guy that evolved into an big edgelord. It's one of the perks from growing up together.

He signs a young boy's backpack and teenage girl's poster of him in a suit. He poses with female fans around his age for a series of photos. He won't abandon the following he's gained over the years. He's already informed them via social media, and the BW Agency mentioned it on their page. The responses been very supportive overall, with the top comments about how Rosa and him got people more into art.

Even if his tournament entries decrease over time, his contest entries won't. They may even increase—contests are a stupendous mixture of Pokémon training and the arts. His art knowledge adds fuel to the performances of his Pokémon.

"Ciao, cugino."

He turns his body to face Jacques and they exchange a fist bump. The fans he was just interacting with are also fans of his cousin. At least he managed to show up—four of em have other matters to attend to today. Even though a certain guy with long, red hair didn't say what's keeping him busy.

To his right, Rosa's showing the portrait to Lisia. She's rapidly looking up and down at it, her eyes glowing with joy. The Holbein-like aesthetic makes it feel like there's two of her present.

"You nailed my pose down perfectly!" Lisia places a hand on her hip. "You rock!" She angles her other hand sideways and sticks a pair of fingers out. "I love the microphone and ribbons on the table!"

"Ooooh, maybe you should come over!" Rosa closes her eyes and clasps her hands. "Tee-hee, we'd have so much fun!"

"Sounds like a great idea!"

"Soooooooooo, do you want the painting?"

"Keep it as a token of our friendship!" Lisia lifts a foot and raises a fist above her head. "Painting Idol Rosa and Contest Idol Lisia's in the houseeeeee!"

He chuckles over their string of high fives. Let them continue their lively chat, he doesn't need to chime in.

He's hung out with Lisia more, turns out third of her heritage lies the Vlaander region. No surprise that she's from Hoenn—an astronomical amount of people from Vlaander, Ziegler, and Galar settled in Hoenn between 1860 and 1930. He's also learned that her passion for dancing goes back to her childhood, much like art history for him and painting for Rosa.

Speaking of Rosa, she's brought along a sketchbook to show Lisia a series of drawings depicting everything from dense forests to contests. He was joking when he suggested to title it The Drawings of Rosa Da Vinti, but that's exactly what she did.

Rosa consults Old Masters paintings and the world around her for ideas to create works that carry remarkable verisimilitude. She's studied techniques and styles used by the Old Masters to hone her artistic bailiwick. Words can't describe how proud of her he is, but the spiritual link of love certainly can.

Same story with Hilda—her knack for making big projects and dreams a reality is stupendous. She's a short distance behind him, handing out business cards and free candy to everybody that passes her by.

Earlier this morning, Hilda challenged that Raihan guy to a selfie showdown on Smearglegram and Glaliebook. Guess she's playing fair-

"Tee-hee, Raihan thinks he can take both of us on!"

Oh no, Rosa and Hilda are far too powerful together. Somebody's guaranteed to take a hard L.

Melanie and Leaf wave at him and the others, their respective teams having already been let out. Rosa and Hilda have been encouraging everybody to get to know both Lisia and Leaf better. Heh, who wouldn't want to hang out with Team Skull's Valen? That's what the rays of sunshine have said in the-that's literally what she said times two. Add two more for Skyla and-what's up with Melanie's sudden burst of elation?

"I just hit upon a good trainer romance idea!" Melanie interlocks her fingers under her chin. "Another Roland and Justine AU fanfic!" She whips out a tablet from her purse. "One where they're battling in the finals of a conference!"

Leaf cocks a brow and crosses her arms. "You…carry a tablet around to write fanfiction?" After a few seconds of silence, smile returns and she holds her palms together. "Hee hee, I like your passion as much as I like your style!"

"I'm also an aspiring novelist." Melanie's prideful grin stretches across her face. "Can't touch this."

There's a twinkle in Lisia's eyes. "Send me some of your works!" She jumps to lean closer. "I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it when people rock my socks off!"

"Can do!"

"Heh, she's been like this since we were kids." Valen shrugs, his voice cracking with amusement. "But I like that about her."

Melanie flicks his forehead. "You're one to talk, art boy."

Umbreon's squealing leads them to witness the glorious sight of Luxray trying to look cool for her. Like the badass Blaziken in his favorite animated movie, Luxray announces "Kage Bunshin No Jutsu" and copies via Double Team encircle both quadrupeds.

Umbreon jumps up and down with her eyes squeezed shut. Again! Again! She wants to see the cool presentation again! So coool!

…Wait...Luxray must require payment! But there's only one appropriate way for her to pay him! A pause leads to blushing, and she tucks in-between her front legs. With each step, her legs quake. If Luxray could pull this off, so can she. Hopefully...he's so handsome...why's he so handsome…how can any Pokémon be this handsome?

Luxray's body tingles from a cheek kiss. He plays off his own blushing by exaggerating a scowl and brooding in the other direction. He was going to do it again to begin with, but she's super cute so whatever. Ahahahahahaha, behold this proud feline's Kage Bunshin No Jutsu for a second time!

"Those two are something, aren't they?" Melanie loosely holds her hands behind her back. "It's the cutest thing ever."

Ha, the pouty facial expressions of Valen's Salamence and Rosa's Milotic have a "what about us" vibe to them. A thumbs up from her vanquishes the pouty faces, and Milotic snuggles up to Salamence.

"I ship both."

"Tee-hee, I do too!" Rosa's eyes glitter. "Our Pokémon are soooo cute when they interact with each other!"

A flash of inspiration causes Rosa's mouth to drop open, bur her smile quickly returns. The smiles may've returned for Milotic and Salamence too, but now's her chance! Time for her to strut her acting skills in front of all of these people.

Rosa's right palm faces the sky, her arm is extended, and her elbow is bent. "Woe is me!" She places her other arm on her forehead and perform on her best Sobble impression. "Has't thy queen fallen from grace?" She falls backward into Valen's arms. "How could I allow the travesty of vanishing smiles to occur?"

Woo-hoo, several people and Pokémon enjoyed her impromptu performance! Fans she interacted with earlier snapped photos! Another free smile giveaway completed! Leaf's offering to record her, rapid nodding gooooo!

Rosa jumps from side to side and extends her fists in and out. "Go, go go, go Rosa! You're the winner!" She grabs Valen and kisses his cheek, then makes him twirl with her. "We're gonna party cuz you're the winner!" She lets go of her mystified sweetie and extends her palms toward Lisia, as Hilda's returned to being busy.

Lisia's right hand's on her hip and her left fist is raised above her head. "You can find me in the club, having loads of fun!" she spins. "You can be a star if you believe in yourself, hun!"

Umbreon and Luxray contain their laughter over the silly humans, look at them high fiving each other. They try to emulate it, but Umbreon ends up stumbling into an accidental cheek kiss. But was it truly accidental?

Rosa's Eelektross finds the fact that Hilda's Umbreon hasn't asked Valen's Luxray out yet to be a real shocker. Umbreon and Luxray, plus Rosa's Serperior and Leaf's Pidgeot, glare at the eel-like Pokémon with flat-eyed expressions. Rosa's Serperior chastises her teammate over yet another Trubbish pun, but it doesn't affect Eelektross. Real jolt to hear her puns, isn't it?

As for Umbreon herself, she's envisioning Luxray asking her out on a date. He looks so handsome in her daydreams too! Shut up Eelektross, you're making Leaf's Venusaur and Pidgeot laugh at her! She already knows that Luxray's electrifying! He's super effective against her!

Greeting cries from Jacques's Sylveon, Leaf's Espeon, and Melanie's Absol snap Umbreon out of her flustered state. She's being invited to play what the humans call basketball. She'll happily accept, but why do they want to play a human sport?

Come to think of it, she's never understood that one human sport with the weirdly shaped brown ball. Why do the humans use Tackle on each other over it? Why do Emboar and Beartic argue over these humans and why does that "touchdown" thing excite them? Why is Luxray snickering when he should be in awe of her cuteness and beauty?

If Umbreon spent a few more seconds observing, she'd see what nearly sent him into hysterics. Hilda's Emboar and Beartic are flexing to impress Valen's Gardevoir and Jacques' Tsareena. As he predicted, cocky laughter is all they get. Leaf's Machamp's trying to show them how it's done, but the sassy ladies brush off his quadruple flex. Now's not the time for puns, Eelektross. Somebody tell Hilda's Starmie to stop poking Machamp.

Here comes Jacques' Greninja, he's looking all smug as he leans against a tree. His Charizard teammate bows in front of Gardevoir with a hand over his chest, and his teammate bows in return. Enough with the typing puns, Eelektross. You're less original than Valen's excuses for owning Hilda and Rosa merch.

Come on, you've got this! That's what Hilda's Garchomp, Rosa's Hydreigon, and Melanie's Dragonite cheer as Salamence stumbles towards Rosa's Milotic. Salamence's pushing a box containing a bouquet of roses towards her, and she's blushing immensely. That's got to be one reason Valen went shopping with Melanie and Leaf yesterday—Salamence has accidentally bitten more than one bouquet in the past.

First thing's first. He nuzzles Valen's midsection and receives pets. Satisfied, he runs to catch up with Gardevoir, Gengar, Typhlosion, and Golisopod. They root for their teammate, while Rosa's team roots for theirs.

Serperior and Eelektross are encouraging Milotic to make her own move on this gentleman dragon, with Aerodactyl and Volcarona suggesting the duo should watch Dragons Are Forever. They're biased due to their love for spy movie, but he likes spy movies too.

Success! Luxray and the squad and erupt with excitement as Milotic accepts the flowers and give Salamence a kiss. Hydreigon does his happy dance and Gengar gives an opera performance.

Rosa's been recording the entire time, will she be painting this? Can Salamence give Emboar, Beartic, and Machamp a few tips so they stop embarrassing the squad? Can Eelektross stop spewing Trubbish puns for five minutes?

Salamence's successful endeavor fires up Hilda's Umbreon, who's got a Luxray to dazzle. He can't deny how amazing she is at this human game called basketball. The score's tied and she's going to break it. It'll be eight to four once Espeon and her strut their stuff.

Espeon dribbles the ball with one paw, swerving to avoid Sylveon and Absol. Espeon throws the ball at Umbreon, who clutches it with her front legs. Umbreon narrowly avoids Absol snatching up the ball. She leaps onto her hind legs and dunks the ball into the bucket.

She snatches up the ball and runs away. Oh no, she almost lost the ball! She must impress her handsome crush! She jumps high above Absol and Sylveon and slams the ball into the bucket. She nearly tumbles upon landing but she could care less. They won, they won, they won with Luxray watching!

Espeon and Umbreon hop up and down, high fiving each other several times. Absol and Sylveon make it a quadruple high five. They then catch Valen's Typhlosion and Salamence demanding their daily pets, their eyes sparkling when their trainer obliges. Rosa's Hydreigon wants head pats on all three heads, while Milotic wants a massage. They've got the right idea, so they run towards the respective trainers to demand pets of their own. Absol saunters behind them, trying to be discreet that she's okay with more frequent petting.

Two familiar voices catches everybody's attention, but there's a commotion over a Suicune and Raikou in the area. Their respective trainers, Rui and Wes, couldn't be any more different in their reactions.

Rui folds her arms and scowls. "Why does everybody get shocked over my Suicune?!"

Wes groans and rolls his eyes. "Because it's a Suicune, dingbat."

"Because it's a Suicune, dingbat," Rui jabs back in a sarcastic, high-pitched tone. "I'm big bad Wes who doesn't care about people gawking at my Raikou!"

Wes shrugs half-heartedly. "Well done, you figured out the obvious." Why is the whole group staring at him like he's a Xurkitree? "She started it and I felt like coming."

"Hey, don't throw me under the bus!"

"I'll throw you into the space shuttle so the aliens can deal with your crazy ass."

A flashback of meeting them near the Outskirt Stand plays within Valen's mind. These two haven't changed a bit—they were snarking each other when he took a seat to eat lunch. They caught him containing his laughter over Wes trolling Rui about falling for his pranks.

They were dealt a bad hand that was tough to overcome. But he's confident that Wes will see the rays of a brighter future. Just like he did.

Gengar, Starmie, and the Eeveelutions happily welcomes Raikou into the squad. They introduce him to the others, while Gardevoir and the the dragons gesture for Suicune to get his butt over here.

Raikou has no idea what's going on, but at least he's not Suicune. That fool thought that mayonnaise is a instrument at one point.

Sitting at a table with a bunch of people that...have welcomed him with open arms. It's a weird feeling for Wes, but it might go away in time. Perhaps it's because he's just not accustomed to this?

He's sitting across from Hilda, observing the multiple bubbly conversations she's kicked off with everybody. Valen and Melanie decided to partake in a double battle together, which is occurring a short distance away. Luxray and Pyroar are the Pokémon they've chosen to go up against a Golduck and a Malamar. Luxray's storming in with Wild Charge, while Pyroar's launching a Flamethrower. They're doing well, only a matter of time before they win.

Lisia's interacting with a large crowd, but she'll be back shortly. It's not everyday that an idol of her caliber hangs out in public like this…or maybe he just isn't paying attention. Speaking of paying attention, his Umbreon should pay attention so he doesn't get teased by Hilda's Umbreon and Leaf's Espeon. His own Espeon's too busy laughing.

"Guess those words had a lasting impact, huh?"

Wes turns towards Hilda, who's giving him a sideways glance. Her grin's lighting up her face.

Wes takes a slow, deep breath. "Even though we barely know each other, you-"

"That's what friends are for, Wes." Hilda's gaze briefly slides towards Valen, who's taking a seat in-between Rosa and her. "Like I said before, I was afraid that I'd lost the love of my life." She slides her left hand under the table, resting her palm on his right hand. "But I didn't."

"Me too, but we managed to come back stronger." Rosa mimics Hilda's gesture with her right hand. "It'll take time, but everybody here will support you two every step of the way."

Wes exchanges a glance with Rui. "It's been just over half a year, but it feels like it's been five years."

"That happened to us too," Rosa admits. "Believe in yourself, believe in each other." She flips her hand to grip Valen's hand. "He waited even longer before asking me out."

"…Feh." He closes his eyes and smiles. "You were right about them, Rui." He re-opens his eyes and extends his hand toward Valen. "Well?"

Valen laughs under his breath as he accepts. By now, Wes should know that they never stopped being friends. "You've started to realize that people care about you," he tells Wes. "That's the first step." Melanie and Jacques are patting him on the back.

When taking into account all she knows, Rosa wants to give a free smile to Wes. She leans closer to Wes, her own smile gaining an aura of mischief. "Sooooooooooooooooo, I've heard Rui's kicked your butt in a Pokémon battle quite a few times."

Wes cocks a brow and snorts. "She didn't tell you about the times I've defeated her, has she?"

Rosa sneaks in a glance towards Leaf, who giggles and leans closer to Rui's right shoulder. Hilda wants in on this too.

"Hee hee, maybe it's even!"

"Hehe, this is fun!"

Rui bursts into boisterous laughter. "Yeah right, he's never going to defeat me again!" Her eyes widen and her face becomes pink. "Oh no, I slipped up!"

"She talks big but she can't always back it up." Wes' smirk carries a sense of triumph. "Bet she can't back up what Rosa asked me."

"Yes I can, just ask-"

"Kabu and Raihan, both of whom took you three tries to defeat."

"Stop bringing that up, you empty-headed grouch!"

Wes uses a finger to tap her forehead. "I think you'll find that the emptiness lies within here."

He's owned Rui yet again. The rest of the group, along with all of the Pokémon, are aiming mischievous glances at Rui. Except for Valen, that is. As Rui frantically looks from one end to the other, Valen shrugs and lets out an amused sigh.

"Y'all are stupid." Valen snickers, earning himself a forehead flick. "In a good way."

It sounds like the Pokémon are roasting Rui, so he'll cut her some slack for now.

"Don't forget to check in with Skyla."

Melanie to the rescue—he's gotta see her reply. He said that he'd take care of it, and it'd be fun to have her over again. Out comes his cell phone and…he forgot to hit send…he typed this text two hours ago. ….Oops…yeah he deserves the forehead flick and bops he's getting for this. Not exactly his brightest moment, but Skyla didn't even let him apologize before replying in all caps. The answer was going to be yes, but Skyla's been on a sightseeing binge.

He'd like it if Ragnar came over to his house again too. This time, he'll make sure that the text gets sent. He'd do it right now, but he's hunting for potential sleeper paintings with his grandpa. Ragnar loves the thrill of potentially uncovering a priceless piece of history, be it a portrait, a classic car, or ancient pottery.

Rosa nudges Valen's arm with her elbow. She points to an article recommended to her in the Glaliebook app. "Soooooo, how many times has this happened?"

How many times has what-another "lost" Leonardo Da Vinti painting? Really guys, really? Nearly all of his known paintings have period documentation, and have you people ever looked at a real Leonardo? The quality of this one's not bad, but it's nowhere near the ballpark. Y'all are stupid.

"Your expression is all I need to see." Rosa shakes her head. "Less than twenty Leonardo paintings have been fully authenticated."

"Saying that you've found a lost Leonardo is like saying you've chatted up both Necrozma and Rayquaza during an evening stroll."

Laughter indicates that the group's been alerted to their conversation. Nice, even Wes got a chuckle out of that one. Seriously though, the chances are infinitesimal.

Hilda swoops in to save the day—she's found an article that confirms that it's not an authentic Leonardo. It's not even by a follower of his, much less his workshop or the man himself. The author's none other than Wallace, the proud owner of Portrait of a Milotic.

By now, Hilda and Rosa already begun explaining about the odds and other aspects. He can still picture Rosa jumping around over seeing that Milotic painting at the Lilycove Museum.

The sudden sensation of Luxray rubbing his body against his right leg makes him chuckle. "What happened to the edgelord?"

He reaches down to pet the feline's back. A purr is his response, the tone slightly reminiscent of a baby Shinx. That Shinx got sad over the thought of him leaving, hence why the little guy learned how to battle. Once a kitty, always a kitty? Maybe...likely...yes.

The puppies, Typhlosion and Salamence, join Luxray. Typhlosion nuzzles her face into his right side, while Salamence lowers his head for pets. Both try outdo the other in the volume of their affectionate roars.

"I'm glad Milotic liked the flowers."

Salamence closes his eyes and his grinning mouth drops open. Typhlosion and Luxray nudge the flying puppy with mischievous smiles, but Valen knows that they're also proud.

"It's your turn, Luxray."

Luxray steps back and his eyes widen. Salamence and Typhlosion begin to egg him on, which makes him tuck his head in-between his legs. Valen can't help but wonder if this is also a bouncy ball battle, for the two puppies also go crazy over the ball.

Rosa's Milotic, Hilda's Garchomp, Melanie's Swampert, and Leaf's Ninetales have also requested pets. Rui's Glaceon and Wes' Espeon follow suit, the former standing on her hind legs and the latter jumping onto Wes's lap for a nap. Rosa, Hilda, and Leaf also give their Pokémon a kiss to the head. Melanie's Swampert strongly prefers belly rubs to kisses, so that's what he's getting. Rui's play fighting with her Glaceon, her hands tapping against the quadruped's paws in rapid succession. Wes won't be getting up anytime soon, but he seems chill with it.

Jacques' Sylveon is running towards them, having hears the happy cries and roars of her friends. Jacques cradles her into his arms and places her onto his lap. The pets are met with licks to Jacques' hand but Sylveon's drumming her paws on Valen's left arm. Her adorable grin grows wider as he pats her head and back and she tries to lick both of their hands at once.

Oh cool, Lisia's headed this way with her Altaria. She's been a blast to hang out with and it's easy to see why Hilda and her make a good team to tackle such a big project. Even if the future of said project is uncertain, that friendship will last forever. He'd like a friendship with Lisia that lasts forever too.

Valen's spending the late afternoon chilling at home with the crazy wholesome minds. Luxray's snuggling up to Valen, his purring's a melody for his ears. Hilda and Rosa are facing each other in a fighting game. Umbreon and Serperior rooting for their respective trainer.

Hilda's gaming and action figure room is also her planning room, hence the giant stack of folders containing event ideas. Said action figures are organized within seven large shelves, and her board games occupy three smaller shelves more. The figures range from mass market to rare convention exclusives.

An eight large shelf houses her video games, the cases placed like the books in the master bedroom's library. There would be a bunch of comics and manga volumes present too, but they've recently gotten another bookshelf for the master bedroom. Instead, that shelf is now filled with replicas of Ancient Unovan ceramics. More will be added in due time.

Hilda and Rosa have paused the game just to give him stares filled with unconditional love. No words, no hand gestures, just eyes shining with affection that conjure a endothermic sensation. They wanted him to read in the gaming room while they played PokéJustice: The Power of One. He was already planning to sit here, but they pressed fast-forward.

They wink and Hilda exits the game's pause menu, while Rosa blows a kiss in his direction. He returns the wink and clicks a tooth. Back to reading his lavishly illustrated Caravaggio monograph. Near his right leg is his a monograph on Gabriel de La Tour and a book on lesser known museums.

Tomes like this offer the chance to get as close as possible to stupendous art pieces, and this large color photograph of The Reunion at Supper is proof of that. This is Caravaggio's legendary depiction of an iconic moment in classical literature. Specifically, it's the moment from The Pilgrimage where Machamp, Hydreigon, and Glaceon realize that the wandering human they invited into the house is Orpheus. The Jirachi they assisted and invited to live with them has gifted them their deepest desire.

The close-quarter scene's dramatically lit up against a completely darkened background. In the bottom left portion is the wide-eyed Machamp. He's rocketing up from a wooden chair, his lower hands gripping it and his upper hands flailing like a pair of Feebas. The Hydreigon takes up a large portion of the area right of her trainer. The dragon's about to fall onto the ground, and one can envision gasps from her main mouth. Her three heads are jerking upwards, the left one shoved into the viewer's face Glaceon's standing on all fours atop the white table cloth, and the ripe peach she was eating has landed in-between her front paws. Her halfway closed eyes are overloaded with moisture and her mouth indicates a whimper.

Orpheus himself is located at the midpoint, and he's just removed his full-face helmet. His eyes are closed, a gentle smile's beginning to appear, and he's calmly reaching into the bowl of fruit. Jirachi's peeping out from behind his armor, and it's sporting a serene and satisfied expression.

The raw emotions of heightened drama, the intimidating glares of powerful Pokémon, and the stupendous chiaroscuro found in Caravaggio's oeuvre inspired Rosa to venture into the world of theatre and film. They better brace themselves for her unstoppable ascension into the box office.

Rosa will be the number one pick for most talented, cutest and prettiest actress in no time. Day one, bet. Nobody can change his mind about that, nor about Hilda being the most skilled, cutest and prettiest talent agent ever. Fittingly, Hilda's turned to Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Poussin, La Tour and other famous painters for event ideas. Great composers inspired her big break, the modern Pokémon Musical.

Art truly knows no borders and it absolutely transcends time. Makes it kinda ironic that Dialga appears frequently in Renaissance art, doesn't it?

Wait a sec, weren't Rosa and Hilda playing video games just now? When did they slide into the sofa and how did they avoid detection? What plan did they concoct this time?

Hilda use her fingers to stroke his left arm in a slow, lingering manner. "You know how you consider us living masterpieces?" Her eyelashes flutter and her smile's coy. "What if we told you that you're the most handsome art historian ever?" She tugs the collar of his black, long-sleeved T-shirt. "Hehe, somebody's not blushing."

"Don't make me dethrone you." A husky tone sprinkles his voice. "I can take both of you down with ease."

Rosa's sultry gaze darts from the top of his slightly messy black hair to his gray Team Skull sneakers. "You're still the hottest boooooy who's ever flirted with me." A fingertip sits on her lower lip. "What if we consider you a living Renaissance masterpiece too, hmmmmmm?"

"Look at yourselves in the mirror already."

Huh, why did their smiles become…a tad…devious? Are they going to give him merciless hugs or something?

"Heeeey, I just remembered that he has all our trading cards!" Hilda slightly tilts her head with a hand over her grin. "Even the super limited edition ones!"

Valen's eyes widen and his mouth drops open. "Uh...err...ah-"

"We've also got pictures of you in a Salamence costume!" Hilda hops up and down with her hands clasped. "Cutie cutie cutieeee!"

Rosa tilts her head back. "Kyaaaaaaaa!" Her eyes sparkle and her palms are under her chin. "I can't enough of those photos—you were soooooo CUTEEEEE as a kid!"

He shields his reddening face with his book. "I…uh…d-don't know what you're t-talking a-about….um…you two are the cute ones."

"I knooooow, right?" Rosa fakes a shocked expression. "It's like I love having adorable and silly Rosa taking over." Her elbows are bent and her arms extend in opposite directions. "It's sooooooo weird."

"We have a lot of proof that you're a cutie too." Hilda titters and spins to face Rosa. "Do you remember why he learned to sing?"

"H-Hey, h-hold on!" He begins to sweat as he tugs at his collar. "It's n-no-not-"

"It's because he had a giant crush on meeeee!" Rosa twirls twice, painting her voice with a singsong tone. "Everybody knoooows it!~"

"Hehe, he also sung for me when he asked me out!"

Valen nearly tumbles off the sofa and the ensuing yelp is loud and squeaky. Rosa and Hilda's laughter fills up the living room while he sighs over his latest dorky moment. What he understands the least is why he gets flustered over the singing when it actually worked.

At least the Pokémon are cutting him some slack this time. Mostly because Luxray hopped onto the bed to try and smooth talk Umbreon. At least, that's what it looks like to him. Why else would Umbreon be swooning so much?

For a few moments, Rosa and Hilda wrap their arms around his neck and midsection respectively. He might be a ding dong, but he's their ding dong. He can live with that. Their eyes tend to carry a gentle vibe when they're facing his direction, and it's soothing for the mind and soul.

"Nooooooow-" Rosa narrow her eyes and points toward Hilda. "I, the beautiful and cute Roooosa, challenge Hilda to PvP in Masters of the Renaissance!"

"Hehe, I'll yank the best artists and trainers away from your noble family!"

"Unlike Expert Noob Hilda, Gaming Queen Rosa's been playing the Baroque Expansion Pack!"

Hilda forms a V with her hands. "Cower before the Imperial Hilda Empire!"

"Grrr, feel Rosa's power!" She pumps up her fists. "Wham bam pow!"

They trot back towards the controllers, only for Hilda to realize that she actually has to put the right game in first. Her face flushes, but embarrassment quickly gives way to amusement.

The laughter of the trio and the Pokémon exits the room and makes it way down the hallway. Gengar materializes from the floor and decides to join them for a good time.

Thoughts on this chapter? Did you like the Pokemon moments? How about Lisia's addition to the major cast?

There are paintings that were not by Da Vinci's hand, but the design/drawings were his work. The odds of finding one fully by his hand really is infinitesimal. IRL, the number of authenticated works is under twenty. His output was very low compared to other Old Masters.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 9: The Power of Art

In less that one minute, the fall of great civilizations had its seed planted. This great catastrophe occurred before my time, but heed the words of Critias so that it may never happen again: "hatred shall bring nothing but hatred."

So wrote Herocedes of Syramos at beginning of the second section of Histora. The first section of Historia starts off with the rise of starts off with AZ, the last king of the Tumul Empire's glory days. The second section begins with how war between the Tumul Empire and the Ancient Kasmenestian city-state of Didicia began. It was this conflict that led to the firing of The Ultimate Weapon, the effects of which led to The Darkest Day. Both incidents were the catalysts for what archeologists and historians call the Late Bronze Age Collapse.

Oops, he should actually continue to read about it. But it would be nice if he could share his knowledge with a wider audience.

AZ Two was the most vocal opponent to the brewing feud with the Didicians. He had seen the worried look of his father's beloved Floette. Floette was precious to all honorable Tumulians, and he feared the outcome if she attempted to intervene in a conflict. It had seemed that he had convinced his father, but then both the king and prince received word from General Tecton that the workshops of Tumulian artisans were being plundered. This was under the decree of King Sinon, for he desired to own all the marvelous works possible. Sinon’s tale was first told to me as a child. He was a man whose own greed was his undoing, but I shall come back to this.

Reading the writings of a man who's regarded as the "father of history" is how he's trying to distract himself. He first read this book at age seven, and he recalls being fascinated by how he was reading a work first published over two thousand and four hundred years ago.

As a Shinx, Luxray would want to sit on his lap when he was reading. He's a big boy now, but he's still a kitten at heart. Luxray's lying down next to him, his body up against his right leg. He reaches out to pet the feline, the ensuing purring a lovely melody to his ears.

Visiting the museum again might help too, so he's coming along for the ride. Still, he just can't fathom why this is happening to him. He loves art history and would like to try and enter the field. He's not going to cease battling, he's still going to enter contests either way, and his Pokémon are cool with whatever path he chooses.

Maybe he's subconsciously worried about disappointing a portion of his fanbase? …No, his fans still retained loyalty during his absence…but will he get lucky a second time? Is he hesitant because he uses his position to help promote the BW Agency? …That seems plausible…if his tournament participation decreases-

"You've done more than enough to promote the agency."

Well well, Rosa strikes again. Those eyes of hers are leaking her unconditional love.

He places the book on the nearly walnut table and gestures for her to come closer. She wraps her arms around his neck. As he rests a hand on her back and plays around with her bangs, she moves in for a kiss.

Satisfied with the turn of events, Luxray gets up and hops off the bed. He stops for a moment and looks back at them. He nods, then he walks out of the room. He runs into Gardevoir and exchanges a soft smile with her as she closes the door.

"How'd you know?"

"Because I know everything about you, Valey." She plops her forehead onto his forehead. "Please don't worry."

"I'll…try." He looks out the window. "The trainer inside of me still burns with a fiery passion, but I also want to invest at least a little more time elsewhere."

"I know how you feel," she assures. "That passion burns inside of me too." She caresses his cheeks. "But please try to be happy—that's all we want from you."

A tender silence befalls them, his mind relaxes from her gentle gaze and touch. Whether it's Hilda or Rosa, he knows how loved he is. Remembering that...remembering who he is and why people like him...that's why he's doing much better now.

Rosa decrees that the silence shall be broken. "Thanks for making us breakfast." She wags a finger. "But I'm cooking lunch, Hilda's cooking dinner, and there's nothing you can do about it.

He shrugs and she snuggles up to him. Out comes her phone and she borrows his phone to play a upbeat tune.

"This is how we do it!" She hits record. "No matter what, I will be with you!" Her voice's melodic and mellisonant. "We will go where our dreams come true!" She kisses his right cheek. "All the time that we have been through! You will always be my sweetie!" She wastes no time in texting it to Hilda.

"Even if I don't say it out loud, I'll always be thankful that you and Hilda chose me."

"Right back at you." Rosa runs her thumb across his chin. "Now then, shall a queen give you a royal treatment?" she titters. "The other queen's handling agency business, so you're all mineeee."

"Come and get me."

"Tsk tsk tsk, be careful what you wish for." Her smile's coy and her teasing voice carries a singsong tone. "Once I get you, I might not want to let gooooo."

"Surrender now or prepare to fight." He moves his mouth closer to her right ear. "I can be a baddie whenever you like."

Her body tingles from his low-toned voice. This bad boy's going to regret challenging her—her Draining Kiss attack will win this battle with ease.

Valen and Rosa bring each other down on the bed, and he prolongs the strokes of her hair using each finger. Heavy fervor and passion leaks out with the continuous rapid connection of their lips.

It's a day at the museum, but Silver can't help but dwell on his future path. Should he venture into the region's pro battling circuit again? This region's circuit can be notoriously difficult to navigate, but that's like a tune by Bartholomäus Johannes Mozart to his ears.

Relax, it'll become obvious eventually. Enjoy your time at the museum today, for being cultured a form of strength.

"Silver, don't zone out on me."

Humph, he almost forgot that he's stuck with Kris. How'd he end up in the museum again? He obviously didn't come with her, no siree. The clearly convenient coincidence aside, he doesn't want her to worry. He hates to see that smile vanish, and he'll figure out what to do eventually.

Kris really likes this Rubens guy, doesn't she? She's not on docent duty, yet she's doing an impromptu tour for a group of first-time visitors. She's giving the rundown on each of the twenty two works in this room. This is solely her area of expertise in their roma-FRIENDSHIP and she looks even happier than normal. …Humph, it's because he's listening in, isn't it? Well…he does like that busy painting of a five-headed Hydreigon.

Sir Patrick Pierre Rubens loved to paint fleshy people. Some of the Pokémon in his art, like Pikachu and Eevee, are also quite fleshy. It's a rather peculiar deviation from what he's seen. What isn't peculiar is that several paintings depict said people without any clothes on. Why does art have so many naked people in it?

The Arnold Van Dyck portraits outside of the room have a strong aura to them, which he obviously likes. To be fair, the people depicted are Sir Endymion Goodrington, Champion Rosalina Vervloet, Galahad I, Galahad II, and Professor Samuel Trevet. His favorite is the first one—the Earl of Hammerlocke carries an imposing presence atop his Dragonite. The one showcasing the Flygon of King Galahad I is cool too.

Arnold van Dyck's legendary Pokémon paintings are also pretty neat, his favorite being the one showing a Spectrier and a Glastrier galloping across the Crown Tundra. Zapdos piercing the cumulonimbus clouds while surrounded by lightning is a close second, or maybe it's a tie.

Now finished with her impromptu presentation, Kris strides towards him, a wide gap in-between each of her steps.

"Time for your private tour, Silvey." Kris nudges him with her elbow. "Docent's become my main role."

"My name's Silver." He blocks her second elbow nudge with his palm. "Sheesh, that didn't mean no."

"Follow me, Silvey."

"Humph, you never listen." His arms dangle by his sides as follows her at a slower pace. "Pain in my ass."

These people better not get the wrong idea—he accidentally wandered into the museum and happened to end up in the exact same spot as her. So what if they entered at the exact same time? That proves nothing.

"All paintings are kept on the first floor," she informs. "The main motif of the first floor is a 'journey through time' for the world of painting."

"Why not the same for sculpture?"

"Because they need ample space for people, you silly person." Kris comes to a halt and clasps her hands behind her back. "And it doesn't really make sense to keep a terracotta sculpture from Nikuno with Western sculpture, now does it?"

"I suppose so." If he looks around, her smile can't make him blush. "Kalosian Baroque, huh?"

"Yep, the Kris train has arrived at the next station."

This was the second type of Baroque she delved into, but only a fool would think that he actually memorized all of her specific tastes. He just happened to overhear it…a lot…even when she wasn't present. He just went along with it because it makes her happy.

Moving on, those landscapes by that Claude Louet guy are pretty neat. He especially likes The Great Crater of Paldea because it contains those ancient Pokémon people have been spotting for centuries. A flamboyant and skilled medieval trainer, Ameriguccio di Vezzano, even caught a Roaring Moon. His feats are present in countless examples of powerful art, his name one that all strong trainers should know.

"I wanted you to see these up close and personal." Kris grabs Silver's arm and pulls him into a large room. "Neville Poussin's depictions of Timeaus, Critias, and Hermos."

Silver tries to break free, but he's pulled back. "Can you let go?"

"Say please."


Kris lets go and giggles, whereas Silver groans and smacks his face with his palm. His face has a more exaggerated scowl than before, which only increases the volume of her giggling.

Silver and Kris start with Poussin's Timeaus at Work. The sculptor's facial expression is stern as he meticulously carves marble. His Machamp and him are creating a representation of King Triton and his Blastoise. They're performing this feat in front of the Parthenon's Xerneas and Yveltal reliefs and well within the public's limelight. An Alakazam, a Gardevoir, and a Gallade have made their way into the crowd of people who've stopped to marvel at his proficiency.

The Speech of Critias is next. The brown agora's packed with people and Pokémon. Each one, including the Loudred and Exploud, are keenly listening to the philosopher's words. His hands are extended in opposite directions above his waists and his movements look like they've been photographed in slow motion. Behind the philosopher is a massive example of classical architecture, the double scroll under the abacus atop each of the three columns indicating the Ionic order.

"What speech do you think this is depicting?"

"'Hatred shall bring nothing but hatred," Silver quotes. "'To you, my fellow men and women of Syramos, I ask you to ponder what became of the Didicians and the Tumulians. We can show our might without blood, we can partake in a battling competition among the city-states.'"

"And that's why Critias in considered the founder of modern Pokemon Leagues," Kris states. "Good job."

Last, but definitely not least, is Hermos Guided By Nature. The seamless transition between the vast land and the vibrant sky is more noticeable here. A coruscating plain with trees dotted in various parts interlocks with a small village in the distance. Hermos is wandering away from that village, his eyes following the movements of a smiling Leafeon. A second Leafeon stands on its hind legs with its eyes closed. This Leafeon's front paws are pressed against the poet's chiton and its grin indicates a playful mood. The poet pats its head and offers it a treat. A Mew and a Celebi observe from behind the nearest tree, while a Talonflame leads a flock of its pre-evolutions high above the trees.

Kris leads Silver to the three works directly across from the Poussin room. "Gabriel de La Tour, another one of my favorites."

A somber man sits at a table with his palm on his chin and his elbow resting on the surface. The green color of the chiton that he's wearing looks darker due to the light and shadow technique used—the light gets dimmer from top to bottom. The table itself has a candle as a light source, as well as several pieces of papyrus with inscriptions written on then.

"Who do you think The Pondering Heir depicts?"

"AZ II," he answers. "Looks like this was after his father banished him."

"You're on a roll." Her tone carries a faint hint of pride. "You'll love this next one for sure."

Silver checks out the info plaque and smirks. "Test of Strength."

All of the light's in the center, a stark contrast to the completely darkened background. Kris once said that light was used by painters to direct the viewer's attention, but his attention would already be fixated on this. This badass muscular man's staring down a Hitmonchan. His jacket and breeches have been ripped and arms are crossed in front of his face. He blocks and evades a flurry of punch from the Hitmonchan, his bobbing and weaving looking like a freeze-frame.

"Do you recognize him?"

"Claude de Kiloude, a Fighting-type specialist from Shalour City."

"Good work," she compliments. "Now it's time for Corruption."

A fitting title for a work depicting AZ's descent into madness. Same style of background, but only the king's present. It's basically a close up of the top half of his body. His teeth are gnashing, his eyes bulging out with the veins popping. His right hand clenches Floette's withered flower, while his left hand contains a dagger that the Ultimate Weapon's design was loosely based off of.

"Let's keep going."

Does she think she's the boss-he's been defeated by her cute smile. Guess friends can do that too. As he saunters behind Kris, she points to their left. That room has two works by Domingo Velazquez, another favorite of hers.

"We're not stopping to look at those?"

"We will later," she replies. "I have a surprise for you."

"Humph, I can take it." At least she's not pulling him along.

As they pass the Ragulian paintings, Silver's mind veers towards the situation of the missing Caravaggio and Vermeer. The combined monetary value of the two paintings is around fifty to seventy million dollars, but he could care less about the money. Only the weak-minded grovel at money's feet, only they ignore the priceless cultural and historical value.

Those works should be here, like that elderly collector wanted them to be. But Team Rocket proved to even more pathetic that he thought— they stole from a man well into his nineties. But all ten paintings will be found sooner or later, just like how all of the art stolen by Team Plasma have returned to their rightful homes.

Better get back on track before Kris worries about him, she's already eyeing his change in demeanor.

"I'm fine, keep going."

"...Hey, listen." Kris caresses Silver's upper left arm. "Everything will work out in the end." She closes her eyes with a grin. "So don't worry, alright?"

Silver's shocked expression only lasts for a brief moment, for it gives way to a content smile. She's good at reading him like a book, he'll give her that. Her soothing touch tingles his shoulder with what feels like static.


Kris nods, her gaze briefly moving to the right. Rosa and Hilda have brought up how they try to distract Valen when he's dwelling with worry. Now's a good time to try it for herself.

"Look behind you." she winks. "Let's see who's tougher between us."

Silver amusingly grunts and raises his chin. "Humph, you can't fool me this time."

Kris better enjoy that teasing smile while it lasts, because she's about to take a-Rembrandt! Oh no, he's walked into to the room with the Rembrandt paintings! The three paintings closest to the entrance are even scarier than Darkrai Lurking!

Easy, take it easy. Turn towards the right wall and prove to Kris that you're the toughest dude around.

That first one's no big deal. It's just a Froslass hanging out near some ice-covered rocks…at night…staring directly into his soul with an eerie smile…and there's nothing behind the desolate tundra beyond a mixture of browns. All three of these, plus more, have that same background. Why did this guy like brown so much?

The next Rembrandt is just a bunch of Trevenant and Gourgeist …this close up of a forest is filled with them. Other trees float in the air…each having the eyes and mouth of either Haunter or Gengar. Why is that…why is there a pair of Drifloon trying to lead kids into the forest?!

Why paint a Banette lurking near an open door? Why's the Banette leaving claw marks on the door? Why did it gather up nine discarded dolls-the dolls are turning into Banette one by one! Three of them are at the mid-point! All have grins that are contorted as far as they can go!

"Tundra in Darkness, Misfortune Forest, and March of the Banette." Kris leans closer, her hands clasped behind her back. "Guess I'm tougher than you, huh?"

"Be quiet, I wasn't spooked at all."

Kris giggles, but her mischievous smile becomes tender afterwards. "I know it's not really your area, but it's really sweet of you to take an active interest in it."

"It's the least I can do." Silver exits the room with Kris following behind him. "It's like when you tried to eat food that was too spicy."

Kris sheepishly laughs. "Not my brightest moment…haha."

Keep it together, don't let fake Silver take over. Just be cool and continue walking with her. Everything will go smoothly.

Kris and him enter the enormous lounge containing the Rococo paintings. She loves the fact that used to be a ballroom, and she's already gawking at three portraits of ladies in fancy attire. Typical Kris, her wardrobe even has several reproductions of attire from the 1700s. …Humph, he'll admit to himself that she does look good in them.

The respective info plaques state Portrait of Elizabeth Vervloet, Portrait of Mary Magnolia, and Portrait of Isabella Stone. Oh, these were painted by that Gainsborough guy. Kris has an equal fondness for his rural landscape paintings—she's gawking at her favorite, Harvest in Postwick.

Rosa and Hilda have stopped while on their way to the second floor, home to a variety of ancient and non-Western art. Oh no, they've turned their attention a work titled Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Brockett. He's absolutely not going to wear a coat like the one Mr. Brockett's wearing, much less the rest of his attire...but Kris would look really pretty in Mrs. Brockett's dress...snap out of it!

They're discussing the portrait with Kris, and there's a giant crowd filling up the room. Now's his chance! He scurries off, triumphantly snickering under his breath. Smell ya later, Kris. He enjoyed the tour, but he's gotta escape before he gets asked to wear that outfit. Saying no to her is too-

"Where do you think you're going?"

"That's no way to treat a lady, you dunce."

Valen and Melanie have put an end to his escape attempt. Valen's arms are folded and he's got a mischievous grin. Melanie's got her hands on her hips and she's oozing sass.

"Gladion sent us a document detailing all of your tactics," they tease. "Go back to your date."

Silver rolls his eyes and attempts to escape in another direction. Unfortunately, the crowd's too big to easily get into the Renaissance area. Humph, at least these people seem to understand the strength of being cultured.

"Hey Melanie, do you think they'll kiss?"

"I bet he's scared that she's out of his league."

Oh for the love of Lugia...why does Valen have to be such a troll? Why does Melanie have to join him?

...Humph, he can't help but smile with them. If he could, he'd tell early teenager him that having friends isn't so bad after all.

A row of pottery and figurines lie behind Rosa and Hilda, the former of whom is ready to snap pics. She'll make sure not to disturb the other patrons—she's waiting for an elderly couple and their grandchildren to move down to eye the rest of these lovely pieces. However, the grandparents and several other visitors encourage her to go ahead and take the pics.

"Thank you, everyone." Rosa pulls out her phone. "Wherever Rosa goes, smiles follow."

"Go get him, Rosa." Hilda tilts her head to her right. "Raihan doesn't stand a chance."

Rosa makes sure that flash is off, then the picture train leaves the station. One photo facing the camera, one with her back turned, then one where she stands sideways.

"Now that Raihan's taken another L, it's time for the matter at hand." Thanks to a virtuous global effort to broaden knowledge, lots and lots and lots and lots of cool artifacts are here!

Rosa's latest photos were taken in front of detailed bronze figurines of Torkoal, Poliwrath, Milotic, and Gyarados from the Panarica region. Close by is a group of polychrome vases from regions south of Panarica, such as Nazcania, and they've got various paintings of Mew decorating them.

The Mesoama region is represented with an even larger assortment. These stone slab figurines depict the same Pokémon, plus several others like Drapion and Tyranitar. A model of a temple and two circular calendars, also made out of stone, are present too. Terracotta figures of the Lillipup line might be the cutest artifacts ever. All three regions have steles with battle competition rules written on them.

"I'll travel across the land, battling far and wide.~" Hilda's usual silly grin emerges. "I'll learn anything and everything about different ways of life."

"That's so you." Rosa bops Hilda's shoulder. "But that's why we love having you around."

Just outside of the room, the indigenous cultures of eastern Calvana and Orre have ample representation. Their pottery's packed with detailed images of desert Pokémon and intricate patterns made up of rhombuses or other shapes. Next to the pottery are a number of masks, Rosa's favorites being a pair of ceremonial Zapdos and Swellow masks. Circa 500 to 520 CE, but they're still crafted and worn by the Yaquitia people of eastern Calvana and Orre. Lying above these masks are Hilda's favorites: a pair of Landorus masks. Circa 200 BCE to 180 BCE, these hail from the Yakota people of northeastern Calvana.

Hilda and her trek further down the corridor, acknowledging the art of Alola's indigenous people and others in the process. About a couple of minutes later, they venture into a room that's the second of four former ballrooms.

It's time for a few pics in front of Ancient Osirian ivory figures of Lucario, Floette, Heliolisk and Liepard. Not to mention that wooden figure of a Lapras pulling a boat full of people. Out comes their phones and here comes another L for Raihan.

"Kaaaay, let's get back to the old and cool pieces."

"Hehe, it's your turn to lead the way."

A large stele with battle competition rules has its own case, as does the two largest ones on the left and right. The former showcases a friendly battle between two of the pharaoh guards, and Ra I watches it from atop his throne. The latter shows the army, both people and Pokémon, being led by Horus I.

Near the stelae is a gold, rectangular box with a curved top. It struts its lavish ornamentation from all sides, and each side has a large image. The four artworks depict the pharaoh, specifically Horus II, eyeing an ominous red shy in the distance, crowning a battle competition winner, riding a chariot, and sitting on his throne.

"Tee-hee, this room is sooooo big that it can fit nearly a thousand artifacts."

Hilda's right fingertips obstruct her mouth. "Hehe, this place never gets old."

Hilda taps Rosa's shoulder and points toward her favorite artifact: a wooden game board that's lavishly inlaid with shell decorations. Each of the twenty squares has its own imagery made out of lapis lazuli, or ultramarine, that range from Talonflame to Tyranitar. Excavated in the Orient region over a hundred years ago, the hollow board is accompanied by Pokémon game pieces, dice, counters, and a tablet inscribed with the rules. A similar gaming set is hanging out with its fellow Ancient Osirians, but all of the depicted Pokémon are felines or feline-like.

Dozens of terracotta figurines of Dragon-types await their arrival on the other end. These meticulously crafted depictions include, but aren't limited to, Salamence, Kommo-o, Dragonair, and Haxorus.

Displayed in a separate case is a door that's got Dragonite, Garchomp, and Dragapult carved into it. These, along with multiple other pieces, came from the outskirts of Lagobe City in the Nikuno region. They're besties with the vases and bowls that are finished with cool imagery of Legendary Pokémon like Rayquaza and Giratina.

In the midst of the ceramics lie ivory masks of Axew, Fraxure, and Haxorus from Accrana, but this region's got ample representation through ceramics and figurines too.

Their gazes ping-pong around the room several more times. Afterwards, they stroll out of the room, a staircase leading to the third floor located just up ahead. That's their next destination, so off they go! Zoom zoom zoom, she zooms faster than Hilda!

Upon entering the third floor, Hilda and her are instantly greeted by manuscripts from the Ériu region, where fifty percent of her ancestry lies. Around forty present of Hilda's ancestry lies in that region too. Each of the info plaques are accompanied by a tablet-like device. All of the museum's manuscripts can be viewed from cover to cover through these, and the texts are fully translated into Galarish.

"Hehe, visitors always crowd around the interactive devices."

The manuscript directly in front of them contains numerous illustrations of Bug-type Pokémon, the text describing each species depicted and how to care for them. Several of the Éirish manuscripts don't have the identity of their authors confirmed, but this one does. Lugaid Conchobhair was a noted medieval Bug-type specialist and a very early pioneer of modern Pokéology.

The one on the left shows the events of the The Darkest Day, the one left of that is about AZ's fall from grace. The cover of the latter portrays AZ, or Azoth Zsoldos, in a much darker context than the great Gianluigi Bernini did centuries later. AZ's mouth is contorted into a remorseless, wicked scowl ad he scans the desolate wasteland around him. The red sky adds an extra layer of eeriness to it.

The Darkest Day manuscript contains an outline of the infamous weapon behind Eternamax Eternatus as it clashes with Yveltal, Giratina and Rayquaza. Zacian and Zamazenta are leaping in from the right and left corners respectively. Xerneas guides people and Pokémon to safety, while multiple Hydreigon from Yveltal’s army of Hydreigon battle a Gigantamax Gengar and a Gigantamax Grimmsnarl.

"I remember when I saw a manuscript like this for the first time." Hilda closes her eyes, her smile nostalgic and tender. "It was about Reshiram and Zekrom."

"The first one I saw was Ameriguccio's writings on Dragon-types." Rosa clasps her hands behind her back. "It's further down."

Hilda and her make their way through the throng to reach the Ragulian manuscripts. The centerpiece is the original manuscript in which the Dragon-type master wrote down his observations. Observations that are still utilized to train dragons to this very day.

Within one large room, people can marvel at bewitching crafted by the three titans of the High Renaissance. That's where Valen and Melanie are, and Valen's waiting for her to pick which work to look at first.

Perhaps it's due to their fame among the general public that keeps this room packed, but this museum's one of the most visited locations on all of Calvana. People from all walks of life and from all over the globe converge onto his home region's largest museum. There's even a true story about a regular visitor who met his wife over their shared fondness for Titian Vercelli. How amazing is that?

Melanie flicks his forehead and points to a painting on her left. She wants to start with Leonardo da Vinti's Lady with a Mienshao. A fine choice, and this sassy Nordican will gladly remind people that she's proof of the power of art if.

"I have a historical fiction novel about a student of Leonardo in the works." she winks. "You already know what I'm saying next."

"Works for me."

Donning an elegant, ultramarine dress that symbolizes her wealth, the woman in this Leonardo portrait has her gaze aimed southeast. Her Mienshao affectionately looks at her, its head in-between her caressing hands. Chiaroscuro was utilized for the background, for it's completely dark. The light is solely on the woman and her treasured companion.

"Let's see if you remember who she is, big guy."

Valen clears his throat. "The subject of this portrait is Cecilia de' Medici, a famous Fighting-type specialist." His exaggerates his authoritative tone. "Documents show that a Mienfoo was her first Pokémon.

"That's my platonic life partner."

Next up is Pokémon In Nature, a work famous for its varied depictions in a zoomed in aerial perspective. It's all highly detailed, right down to the realistic textures of each strand of lush grass and each leaf on the plump trees. The Pokémon range from a graceful Milotic towering out of the river under the shimmering sun to a Gengar lurking in a cavern cloaked by an ominous darkness.

The menacing glare of a Houndoom peeks out from being the Ghost-type. Separating the cavern and the river is a lush and vibrant plain where Bellossom, Vileplume, Ninetales, and their respective pre-evolutions rest or frolic about.

"So, is it helping?"

"Yeah, thanks," Valen answers. "Needed to clear my thoughts."

"Don't hesitate to ask me for help." Melanie fist bumps with him. "Platonic partners forever."

"Wouldn't have it any other way."

Painted in 1495, A Trainer's Annunciation depicts a young Giorgio de' Medici receiving an Axew as his first Pokémon. The young dragon's happily taking in all of the attention he's getting from the several onlookers, especially from that Dratini. The giver of said Axew is the future champion’s granduncle, Professor Salvino de' Medici. Giorgio’s father, Champion Niccolaio de’ Medici, looks upon the boy with great pride. The gesture is repeated with Niccolaio’s Haxorus and Giorgio’s Axew.

A sprawling mountain range lies within the distance, locked together with a cloudy sky, lush valleys and rolling hills. At the foot of the mountains is a small town near the sea, where people on boats and Lapras go about their business. A Milotic gracefully leaps out of the water and over a Gyarados who proudly stares into the distance.

"Leonardo was so meticulous that even the mountains and the building are detailed," Valen remarks. "The textures of the grass where the Medici folk and the onlookers are so lovingly detailed that you want to reach out and the touch it."

"I want to rate their fashion." Melanie chuckles. "Kidding, kidding."

The Supper Before Battle showcases an adult trainer enjoying a lavish dinner with his Pokémon. The linear perspective was used for this painting, the point where the lines merge being the top of the trainer's head. The trainer's placing bread next to the garlic and carrots on his plate. A stern-looking female Pyroar sits on the furthest left end of the table, and a smirking Gallade's stands on the opposite end. Their trainer's smack dad in the center, and his adorably smiling Vaporeon is in-between him and Pyroar. Vaporeon's pushing a berry towards Pyroar, seemingly to encourage an embrace of a lighter atmosphere. In-between him and Gallade is a Haxorus chomping down on ripe berries.

"Which one of the Michelangelo frescos should I write a historical fiction on?" she asks. "Or should I go with the oil paintings?"

"Finish what you're working on first." The forehead flick means no, doesn't it? "I was being serious."

"So was I, doofus."

Time for Nature's Balance Between Light and Darkness, one of two frescos by Michelangelo housed within these walls. The left side of the tall piece depicts Xerneas proudly standing in the middle of lush foliage. The clear sky with beaming sunlight above contrasts the black sky that's devoid of stars that's on the right side. Yveltal's flying through the black sky, glancing downwards at a barren wasteland that's devoid of life. Above both, the scenery combines to form one that depicts a half-blue and half-black sky and the same foliage. Towering in the middle of this scene is Zygarde's 50% Forme, with Complete Forme dwarfing it to the right. Puppy form's howling at the moon.

The Creation of The Dragons is the museum's other fresco by the artist. Arceus proudly hovers above Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina within a starry sky. The sun lies behind Arceus and it's illuminating all four. Dialga and Palkia are roaring within translucent blue and pink spheres within the sky. Giratina's below the feet of Dialga and Palkia, and its depicted in Origin Forme. Only half of its body's materialized above the rocky ground, the other half being hidden within a spiraling vortex that leads to a pitch black void.

"Can you believe that Michelangelo painted each artwork on the Sistine Hall's ceiling again on individual panels?" Valen slides his hands into his pocket. "Not to mention a second version of Trainer, his most famous sculpture."

"Oh, that's a wonderful novel idea!" Melanie tone's hushed. "Thank you, bestie!"

"Crazy person." Flicks aren't very effective. "Don't forget Michelangelo's poetry."

Melanie runs a hand through her long black hair. "Ha, as if I can ever forget cool information."

Melanie's attention veers toward the two oil paintings by Michelangelo, and he follows suit. The first, Challenge, showcases David challenging a trainer of nobility named Golyath to a Pokémon battle. Golyath scoffs at the teenager, but the smirking woman near a tree is a great bit of foreshadowing for the second painting.

That one is called Triumph, and it shows David's Swellow slamming Golyath's Noivern into the ground with Brave Bird, the former kinda looking like a meteor hurling through the atmosphere. The woman is joined by other onlookers and David's Sirfetch'd in jeering at the stunned Golyath for his earlier dismissal of David.

"These are still my personal favorite works by the artist—Pokémon Trainer David is sooo good."

"I love your gushing over that epic."

"Oh yeah?" Melanie flicks his forehead and winks. "Well I love you, bestie."

"Heh, love you too." Valen rubs her upper back. "Should’ve known that was coming."

Valen heads towards Raphael's A Kiss Infused With Geomancy and Melanie follows suit seconds later. If Xerneas and Yveltal snuggling like Eevee in The Disputation of Animosity isn't enough adorableness, how about a kiss to go along with it?

Xerneas is kissing Yveltal's head as he wakes up from a nap, the setting sun illuminating their faces. Xerneas has a smile brimming with adoration, her eyes closed with a nurturing aura. Yveltal's eyes have widened and mouth has dropped open in shock. The legendaries are residing in blossoming garden filled with vibrant and lush foliage. The trees pierce the ultramarine sky and the flowers sway their pedals in a synchronized dance. The grass rustles to life under the hooves of Xerneas. The gentle waves of the vast ocean massages the sandy shoreline that lie further in the background.

"Nobody but Raphael could have painted such a grandeur humanization." Valen's face shines like the sun. "He wrapped this stupendous display of intimacy a clear cloak of verisimilitude and gifted it to the world."

"It's like a romantic date between Legendary Pokémon," Melanie comments. "It's such a beautiful piece."

"Gonna write a historical fiction on Raphael too?" Valen crosses his arms. "After all, he did paint this for a princess who was developing a crush on him."

"Valen, you should know how this future novel queen rolls by now."


It's onto Unovan Romanticism paintings and other works from around that era after the other ten works. With the crazy wholesome minds, of course.

He'd drop by the director's office to say hi, but mom's not in the office at the moment. She's gone to check out a potential Rubens and an early work by Rembrandt that Ragnar and his grandfather came across while sleeper hunting.

No, Valen's not going to tell Kris to stop pulling Silver down the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist. Neither is anyone else, rendering this text message futile. Texts from Melanie reveals that the gift shop does have new posters in stock. Too bad she can't come over later today—Lisia's coming over for the first time. Just like him, she's had an absolute blast with hanging out with Lisia.

Hilda and Rosa have already made their way into the room containing fifteen landscape paintings by Franklin Elliot Church. He better go catch up with them before he endures true horror—Rosa's feet bops are terrifying.

Church, who was Unova's leading landscape painter of the era, was a member of the Castelia River School movement. He also traveled to regions like Kalos and Ragulia and painted several of the sights that he saw.

He joins them in analyzing Twilight in Pinwheel Forest. The landscape cloaked by the encroaching night and the blazing sun sets over Pinwheel forest. The towering Skyarrow Bridge uses said approaching night to cloak itself within the background. The dark crimson lake surrounded by twisted trees. and Virizion's gallops around them on the forest floor. Meganium, Serperior, Leavanny, Butterfree, Poliwrath, their respective pre-evolutions, and various other Pokémon move around and frolic around.

Sunset in Lostlorn Forest has Hilda's attention and The Farmlands Near Aspertia attracts Rosa. He's gonna check out Sunrise in the Al-Hilāi Region.

His favorite element is the contrast of an ancient Urukian arena and the barren desert around it. The desert's littered with ruins, but the ziggurat-like marvel is mostly intact. Even the field atop it is visible, the shimmering rays directly bearing down upon it more than anything else.

Just outside of the room are twelve works by Tobias Cole, the Galarian-Unovan who founded the movement. A View of Liberty Garden and View of Hammerlocke has Rosa mesmerized, plus she also adores the five Unovan empire paintings. Hilda's attention is drawn towards a short corridor that leads to the Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

"Rosa, refresh my memory." Hilda tilts his head towards the corridor and room. "What's your take on those works?"

Rosa folds her arms and smirks. "Hmph, who did you think you're talking to?"

"Hehe, I'm talking to you."

"Tee-hee, you don't want that smoke," she fires back. "All silliness aside, I can love the art of an artist while disagreeing with his or her viewpoint."

She would continue, but there's somebody here whom she wants to hear express himself. The more he talks, the less uncertain he may feel. It may not make sense to some people, but it's worth a try. Hilda seems to have the same idea.

"They preferred a more naturalistic motif and the works of early Renaissance artists, but I don't think it was Raphael himself that they disliked." Valen caresses the top of Rosa's head. "They were revolting against the notion by Montgomery Rose that all artists and trainers must strive to be Raphael."

Woo-hoo, he figured out what she was trying to do! High five up high with Hilda Wham bam pow, bop bop bop to his forehead!

"Was that necessary?"

"Yep." Rosa kisses him on the lips. "The words you told me before your contest battle with Jacques apply to you too." Her tender voice is accompanied by a mellisonant tone. "The Valey sweetie that Hilda and I know and love is a skilled trainer, coordinator, and future art historian." She closes her eyes and caresses his shoulders. "Never forget that your voice matters too, kay?"

"I'll try my best."

"That's more than good enough," Hilda chimes in, her head titled to her right. "Keep smiling for us, alright?"

"Not that hard when you two are around."

They head towards the Pre-Raphaelite room, which houses a combined total of fifteen works. The artists represented are Walter Harold Hunt, James Elijah Millais, Aiden Hughes, and Davide Gino Rossetti.

The two balls of fluffs have been mesmerized by Hughes' Home from a Journey, a sweet and serene portrayal of a brother and sister embracing each other. The background's the quaint little town of Postwick.

Rosa's words keep ringing through his mind, which is more at ease now. It's quite fitting how the painting directly in his line of sight is Hunt's Our Eyes Have Met. it's a neat depiction of two trainers engaging in battle with nothing but the scenic Galarian countryside in the background. Two likes within a like, can't go wrong with that. Maybe it's three likes—this work was inspired by Botticelli's The Staredown. It's one of the seven Botticelli works in the museum's collection, and it's the classic depiction of two trainers ready to duke it out.

Battle...maybe battling in general can help to forge a clearance of the fog enshrouding his path. Perhaps entering another tournament or two might also help? Doesn't have to be a big one.

He needs to be firm like Rosa and Hilda. Overthinking isn't the solution—he needs to be taking action.

Hilda's giant sketch may be on the dining table, but all work and no play makes for a dull day. Thus, Lisia and her are laughing at memes they come across on their phones. These ones about Eevee Rangers: Return of Black Fog are amazing! The one Lisia's showing her is super accurate too—the movie was indeed number one in over fifty regions!

Hehe, look at Lisia gawking at the cool old table! She's been doing that to a lot of the furniture since she stepped foot inside! She wishes Lisia would've tagged along with her and the others to the museum, but she was hosting a contest. Ragnar entered said contest and won, which is super duper awesome!

Years ago, it could be hard to enjoy a moment like this. She still had a lively nature, but it felt like people had high expectations for her solely because she's the daughter of Odelle and Connor White. It felt like the entertainment world was putting its weight onto her shoulders. That's why she lashed out and ended up hurting someone near and dear to her heart.

However, she learned from her mistakes and her hotheaded side's been under control for years. She came to realize that nobody meant any harm and she surpassed any exceptions. Her and her friends are gonna do it right, Hilda White never runs away from a fight!

A tune that's all too familiar to Hilda rings through her ears. She stands up and gestures for Lisia to follow her, except Lisia's already ahead of her. Just as they exit the dining room, a recording of Valen's melodious voice enters from the living room.

"Consider this my love letter—you deserve someone better. What I saw was messed up so I had to step up. I’ll put your heart back together, baby I’ll make it last foreveeeer.~"

Upon seeing Lisia dashing towards the sofa she's sitting in, Rosa pauses the recording and glances behind her. "I like to listen to this from time to time—this is how Valen further won my heart."

"That's so so so sweet!" Lisia interlocks her fingers under her chin. "He must've practiced a lot!"

"Hehe, he did the same with his feelings for me!" A loving smile appears on Hilda's face—she can hear his footsteps on the wooden staircase. She clears her throat, reciting, "'How do you expect me to explain?~'"

"It's impossible when love works in a peculiar way!~" Valen's smooth and melodious tone treks down the staircase.

"We pulled that off perfectly!" Hilda turns her body towards Lisia, only to see the normally energetic woman quiet and slightly wide-eyed. "What's up?"

Lisia tries to speak, but the words aren't coming out. His voice’s ringing in her mind...it's like when she heard Jacques' amazing voice for the first time.

A smile comes across Lisia's face and she shuts her eyes. "Eeeek, that was so so so so SO GOOD!" She jumps around, her fists under her chin. "You're just as good as your cousin!"

"Jacques taught me how-"

"Hold that thought!" Lisia leaps towards him as he enters the room. "I wanna know why'd you learn this!" Her eyes gleam and her hands are clasped near her chin. "Come on, gimme the scoop! Gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme!"

Valen's face reddens and his smile becomes sheepish. "Uh…I…err…h-how do…I…put t-this?" He pokes two fingers together. "Eh heh heh heh…heh…heh."

Lisia jumps back into the sofa across from Rosa. "Scratch that, it's obvious why." she giggles. "You're kinda adorable."

"I'm not-just forget it." He sighs and his head droops. "Even I know that I brought this upon myself." His arms dangle by his sides. "Everybody knows why…how come I'm such an idiot?"

"But you're our idiot!" Rosa and Hilda close their eyes and place their hands at the ends of their mouths. "Go go go smiling Valen!"

Heh, classic crazy wholesome minds. Hilda whips out her phone for yet another video, while Rosa plays a tune with her phone. They proceed to press their backs together and Hilda hits record.

"This is how we do it, we're the lively type! Arm and arm, we'll win the selfie fight!"

They snap photos of themselves in front of a drop front desk, a long-case musical clock, and a heavy rectangular cabinet, all from from the 1700s. Lisia seems to adore the heavy ornamentation and the gilt-bronze mounts of the oak cabinet. Perhaps another reason she adores it is that the three square-shaped drawers have lavish imagery of Kyogre, Groudon, and Rayquaza.

She's so similar to Rosa and Hilda, maybe even the most similar person to them he's ever met. Lisia's even twirling to check out the rest of the furniture, plus the paintings and ceramics on display.

He'd be asking if they're going to sit with him, but he'll wait unit after Rosa and Hilda discuss the newest addition to the living room. Housed in a sturdy case and placed straight across from the hallway entrance is a marvelous replication of Gianluigi Bernini's masterpiece, The Anguish of King AZ. He tried to pay his cousin for it to be fair, but just like with the previous sculpture, Jacques refunded the money after completion.

Rosa and Hilda are very proficient with Mind Reader. Before he can even say anything, they're right next to him. Guess that energy gives them super speed. Good thing he's smiling or he'd feel their wrath. Ahhhhhh, the horror.

Lisia joins them on the adjacent sofa, her grin ear-to-ear over the softness of the snowy white cushion and headrest.

"I'm glad you like the interior."

"I don't like it, I love love love it!" Lisia places her fists under her chin again. "I'm now in the mood for a good romance story!"

"You want to know more about our origin story, don't you?"

"Good catch!"

Hilda nudges Rosa with her elbow. She's known him for longer, so it's only fair that she goes first.

Rosa cups Valen's left hand with her right hand. "We've known since other since we were little kids." he caresses his palm with her fingers. "I met him when he was visiting the art academy in Aspertia City."

"She was trying to paint like Raphael from the start!" Valen slaps his mouth shut. "Not again!" His eyes puff out and his face reddens. "This always happens to me and I can never control it!"

"Oh you silly boy." Rosa blushes and waves her hand in a playful dismissive manner. it took years of practice for me to get to where I am today." she giggles. "Moving on, we had our second meeting at the museum, but his mom already knew my grandpa thanks to the art history field."

"Can you believe I still get to geek out with somebody over art and history on a daily basis?!" Valen slaps his mouth shut with both hands. "Oh come on!" He shields his face. "Why does this keep happening to me?!"

Rosa and Hilda move in to yank his arms away. They wink and give him a double cheek kiss, making his face burn up further.

Lisia's hands are on her ribs as she tries to contain her laughter. "This is so so so amazing!"

"As for me, I first met him when he entered my mom's acting course." Hilda grips his other hand. "Hehe, I didn't realize it was him when he strolled into the agency's original office."

Valen crosses his arms and leans back, his dorky fanboy side fleeing the arrival of his smooth and classy side. Come on Hilda, bring up how powerful his natural charm is.

"I realized that it was the giant flirt when he dropped a good knockout line: 'If your skills are on par with how beautiful you are, then you're definitely the best person for the job.'" Her eyes sparkle like her necklace and she clasps her hands under her chin. "Kyaaaaa, that sent me over the moon!"

"Damn right I'm good at knockout lines."

"Make Rosa blush too—the lines you dropped on her years later were far too powerful."

Rosa giggles, then she fakes a scared expression. "Oh nooooo." Her elbows are bent and her arms are angled in opposite directions. "Have mercy on Roooosa."

"The opening line was already a knockout." His smile's smug, his posture straightens with his chest puffed out. "Arceus must've sent you from the sky because you're a goddess in my eyes."

Rosa tilts her head back, her eyes sparkling like her necklace and her palms under her chin. "Kyaaaaa, that's still quintuple effective against me!"

The ensuing cackling alerts everyone to Gardevoir's presence. She's leaning against the wall with her arms folded. She teleports herself next to Valen and gives him a peck on the top of his head. She hands him the book that he forgot to bring downstairs. She lowers her head and he returns a peck.

"Hi there!" Lisia waves at Gardevoir. "Kicking butt lately?" Gardevoir's boisterous laughter is the only answer she needs. "Keep on rocking!"

Ooooh, Valen's chosen to read a book on Taizhou landscape painting. That's so so so cool—she loves seeing different cultures getting love! It's even a region where a fragment of her heritage lies!

The page he's on contains an ink and color painting of the Qiwei River passing through a dense forest. It's got a gentle and peaceful vibe to it, like you've closed your eyes to imagine a tranquil setting to put your mind at ease.

"A single act of kindness plants a seed." Valen flips to the next page, showing Lisia an ink painting of a growing flowerbed. "The seed can blossom into a lifelong friendship."

"Trying to be a philosopher, are we?"

"If I can make just one person's world a happier place through my actions, it means I've achieved a win that's priceless."

"I like that."

It goes both ways—he's got a great support network and he's always ready to return the favor. It's just as Rosa and Hilda said: this is how we do it.

There's a doc series and a book titled The Power of Art. Simon Schama's a fantastic host and author.

I'm trying to show different items and areas in the museum each time it appears. Did you like seeing the artifacts? Out of all the chapters where the museum's appeared in, which item in the collection is your favorite?

Do you enjoy seeing Valen and Lisia's developing friendship?

Mew is under the vase.

The Ancient Greek historian Herodotus is referred to as the "father of history."

Despite being Baroque, Nicolas Poussin paintings are more like Renaissance paintings. He mostly worked in Rome, as did Claude Lorraine. Georges de La Tour is another French Baroque painter, but he was within France.

The Castelia River School movement is a reference to the Hudson River School movement founded by Thomas Cole.

From what I've seen/read, I don't believe that Pre-Raphaelites were against Raphael himself. Rather, they didn't like how the academic institution was telling/teaching artists to be like Raphael.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 2 review let's go

I LOVE the personality in these descriptions!

Comma splice

Yoooo Wes with an Ultra Beast???

The first thing that came to mind is "I am here for Divorced Dad!Wes" and to this day I have no clue why.

The Pokémon personalityyyyyyyy




Comma splice

Aw this is cute (:


Double period

Yo Volcarona???? Where'd she get a Volcarona????????

This sentence feels a bit weird in context. Like I understand what you're going for, but it feels less like clarifying their relationship is platonic and more shoving it in, if that makes sense. I think It's pretty clear in context that Melanie is Valen's friend with no romantic undertones.

Is Silver or Steven doing Contests? The wording here is a biiiiiiiit confusing with the pronouns.

VEGAS FUCK YEAH :letsgorb:

< 3

Is this a peace sign or an L? The phrasing is a bit weird, and I think it would work better if you explicitly stated the gesture.


The second sentence is a biiiiiiiiit confusing to me, but I can't pinpoint why exactly.

The "him" here is confusing, since there's a few characters in this scene (like Silver and Valen) who go by he/him.

Comma splice


Is loaf! :quag:

Prompting who?


Comma splice



Interesting how Hong Kong isn't Pokéfied, but we have Nimbasa City and Petrovburg.

The sentence is worded a tad weirdly.



Getting strong "just friends hanging out and doing everyday stuff" kind of vibes from this fic, mixed in with the glamour of the high life. I also see you're getting better at integrating art stuff into your fic. It's not perfectly integrated at times, but things like the Contest worked really nicely.
Thanks for you review, will keep trying my best!


Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 10: The Gladion Menace

A row of boutiques and restaurant cascades down Angel City's boardwalk, the bright colors having a calm, inviting aura to them. The decorated woodwork and the steep, gabled roofs are two additional indicators of a Victorian architectural style. People and Pokémon happily going about a day of rest and relaxation, their footsteps making a tapping sound on the platform. Vendors with stands display their goods, which range from hats to magnets to trainer trading cards.

The ground below the platform slopes into a throng of crouching rocks and sand dunes, and the ocean caresses the shoreline with its dancing waves. A group of Poliwhirl play around in the water, exercising caution due to the bored Gyarados resting atop the terrain. A Talonflame leads a flock of its pre-evolutions through the crystal clear sky, and the glistening sunlight is locked onto the megacity and the sea.

For Valen, standing so close to such a scenic view would usually make him feel like the guy in Conrad Friedrich's A Trainer by the Sea. But right now, he's one of the trainers in Titian's Double Battle in the nearby battlefields. When a trainer and their Pokémon are harmoniously linked by mutual passion, battling can take on an artistic form of its own.

They wanna see what Armageddon looks like? Team Skull's Valen here to show em. Dwelling may be hard for him to avoid, but he's gotta take action like Rosa and Hilda. He made a promise to himself and his Pokémon—his ardor for being a trainer and coordinator can't be vanquished.

That's why his Typhlosion is going toe-to-toe with an Electivire in a showdown alongside Jacques and his Charizard. The draconic Pokémon's aerial skirmish with a Noivern has him envisioning the battle in Giorgione's Tempest Clash.

The Electivire's charging in with fists covered with electricity, that means it's time for a boxing match.

"Typhlosion, Fire Punch!"

Typhlosion repeatedly bobs and weaves to avoid Electivire's punches. She clobbers Electivire with a double hook from her flaming fists. Typhlosion and Electivire bob and weave as they attempt to land any amount of blows, with Valen's smile growing with each precise movement performed by his Pokémon. That smile evolves into a grin when Typhlosion lands another double strike to Electivire's face.


Typhlosion belligerently roars with a sharp gaze that could pierce one's soul. She hurls herself backwards and launches a red-orange stream of swirling fire that strikes Electivire in the face. Noivern's swooping in, but Charizard's coming in hot. Pun intended.

"I'll finish this," Jacques affirms. "Charizard, dazzle the crowd with your passionate Dragon Pulse."

Charizard fires off a crimson red sphere, which morphs into a dragon-shaped beam. The beam expands into a massive, molten rock dragon with giant wings. Wind shrieks around the dragon formation as it careens into Electivire and Noivern, dropping both of them onto the ground.

Valen's Typhlosion jumps towards him and nuzzles her face against his midsection. In battle, she bears her fangs. Outside of battle, she wants all of the pets like a puppy. He rubs her snout and she begins licking his face.

Charizard wants pets from Jacques, who responds by scratching behind his ears. to Typhlosion nuzzles him again for more pets. Guess she wants to best her fellow starter.

"You'd have gotten more anyway," Valen scratches Typhlosion's chin. "Who's a good girl? Is it you?" More licks to his face. "Yep, it's you."

The crowd's commentary indicates that they enjoyed observing this tag match. The affection between trainer and Pokémon seems to have brightened up their day. Others are discussing the contest he entered a few days ago. Certainly wasn't easy, he had to go up against one of the top coordinators from LaRousse City in the Galarian Coullont region. The flying puppy pulled through against that potent Lapras, nabbing him the win.

Several of the onlookers are discussing about how he's got both a "bad" boy side and a gentleman side. One does not simply stop being a gentleman, even when decked out in Team Skull apparel. It's also how he stands out from Jacques, the person who suggested the idea years ago.

"Are you awake?"

"Being a wiseass is my job, big bro." Valen turns to face his cousin, who is currently surrounded by a throng of fans. "Aren't you busy?"

"I'm always prepared for such an occasion." His blue eyes teasingly gleam as he whips out a pen from the left pocket of his dark blue sweatpants. "Are you?"

Valen briefly shuts his eyes, his grin bearing his teeth. "Observe." He takes out his own pen and twirls it with two fingers. "Two can play at that game."

The last time they hung out with the squad, he wore his trademark dressy attire. This time, he's wearing a long sleeve shirt with awesome images of Captain Braviary and Aggron Man emblazoned on the front. His cousin's shoulder-length black hair's always tidy, while he keeps his black hair a little messy to capture a bit of a cool "bad boy" vibe. Bad in a good way, obviously.

"You should inform your family before your mind travels to space."

"Heh, I forgot to commend you for remembering to actually wear something casual."

"Silenzio, cugino."

"Request denied, try again later."

Valen joins his cousin to sign objects and take photos. He's long since learned that fans of one tend to be fans of both, and this crowd's no exception.

Texts from Skyla confirms that she can come over today. She had to hop back to Unova to face off against a challenger, and yet she said not to change the date. He doesn't quite get it, but he's not gonna question it. To be fair, it's absurdly easy to hop back and forth between Unova and Calvana. Only the regions of Orre, New Orre, Venteux, and her ancestral Apisi separates them and the large regions still share a border in other parts. There are even people who make the trip daily, something that she seems eager to do herself if possible.

For now, Jacques and him will meet up with Gladion. After they're finished here, of course. They've got enough time to check out antiques shop, which stands out due to its vintage sign and window display of various examples of ceramics and furniture. There's also a vintage pizza sign, a fitting choice considering there's a pizza place next door.

Some of the best slices in all of Calvana awaits the customers of that restaurant, so why not grab a bite to eat too?

Unpacking at the Team Skull residence in Malibu City took longer than expected. It's still surreal to Gladion that they have a house up there, surrounded by a bunch of other fancy mansions.

A slight breeze ripples Gladion's ripped jeans and spiky, black hoodie as he treks down a packed sidewalk. Rows of shops and restaurants are booming with business, while various pedestrians and Pokémon look up in awe at the mighty skyscrapers on the area's main road. Gladion smirks at the trio of wild Haunter, who wave at him. A fourth Haunter startles a couple by popping out of a store's wall, and a fifth Haunter causes two rough-looking guys to shriek.

Gladion's having fun sightseeing near the boardwalk—it's been way too long since he's set foot in Angel City. Hau'oli City is a bustling metropolis, but this megacity's on another level. It's pretty neat how centuries' old buildings are not too far from that badass Dragonite skyscraper protruding in the distance. Unlike a certain grump, he actually paid attention when Kris told them about Postmodernism.

Alright, he's at the intersection of Yellow Street and 17th Avenue. On one side is a giant bookstore that's hosting a car meet, a parade of classic grand tourers and modern hypercars attracting a lotta attention. There are some battlefields on the other side, which is perfect for what he intends to do. But did he come too early? Where in the world could-

"I'm not going into the photo booth."

Gladion's ears pick up on this and his gaze directed his gaze towards the boardwalk. Was that…Silver? Did they happen to end up at the same location? Who's he talking to?

Not even a minute later and he's put two and two together. He rubs his hand and his face evolves into a Gengar. Oh hell yeah, he's gonna enjoy this. Kris just yanked him into the booth. It's a red booth too, that can't be a coincidence when it's these two. Good thing there's enough room to move around the throng on the sidewalk. He slowly makes his way to the steps, using said throng as a cover.

"Someone's gonna catch us." Silver huffs and puffs like the Mightyena from Three Little Tepigs. "I can't be seen taking cutesy photos." His gaze swings all directions. "I'll make it up to you, but we have to—"

"Oooh, big tough Silver's scared of me!"

"Fine, have it your way—"

Gladion's piercing gaze is bearing down upon him, isn't it? Silver clenches his teeth, unable to come up with a cover story. Gladion knows all of his cover stories, including the one he thought of two days ago.

"Where the heck did you come from?!"

"That's not a nice greeting, Silver." Gladion snickers. "It's been a while and that's what you ask me?"

Imagine the horror of people finding out he took cutesy photos with his cr-FRIEND while on a da-DAY out and about. Fake Silver cannot leak out with this guy around.

Silver crosses his arms and pretends he can't hear Gladion asking about this "date" he speaks of. Kris tries to drown out Gladion's questions with whistling. Unfortunately, Gladion's one step ahead.

"We'll do this the hard way." His face now resembles a Gigantamax Gengar. "Should I send my sis those pictures that Ethan sent me?"

"It's not a date!" Kris blurts out, her face flushing and her fists clenched. "I'd never date somebody so grumpy!"

"Prove it." Gladion crosses his arms and leans against the railing. "Hold each other's hands without blushing."

Kris places her hands on her hips. "You wanna throw hands with me boy?" She bears her overbearing gaze down onto Gladion. "Go back to reading unnecessarily edgy A Caterpie's Life stories about HYPERREALISTIC bloody eyes."

Gladion's devious smile vanishes, but all he can do is blink rapidly. What does that have to do with these two being so obvious about their feelings for each other?

Kris's gaze briefly alternates between Silver and Gladion, a mischievous smile becoming more apparent with each glance. "I bet you don't even know what hyperrealism means in art, you uncultured Swinub."

She did it! It worked! It worked! She made Silver laugh! He's not even hiding that grin! Yes yes yes yes, she actually make him laugh!

"Come on now, that wasn't cool." Silver crosses his arms. "Swinub did nothing wrong and Gladion prefers edgy My Little Dratini stories."

"Actually, I prefer both." Gladion's face flushes and he clenches his teeth. "Dammit!"

Silver and Kris sneak in a high five. Their attention's now on Gladion's ripped pants and spiked hoodie, but the arrival of Valen and Jacques save him from a roast session. Only because Silver really likes their classic BMV motorcycles.

"At least we share this taste," Gladion remarks.

Why is Kris rolling her eyes? Those blacked out are sick as hell. Angel City is extremely friendly for two-wheelers and pedestrians, to the point that bike lanes can be used by motorcycles. Nevertheless, it's cool that Valen's Gengar was still helping to make sure they stay safe.

Yeah, he figured that they'd be perplexed by Kris and Silver's bad attempt to hide the fact that they want to kiss each other.

Valen and Jacques shrug with dumbfounded expressions, and the former's Gengar briefly pops out from inside the ground. It's time for him to pull off his favorite prank to save Gladion and troll the obvious pair of Luvdisc. Gengar vanishes into the ground and sneaks into the photo booth. He leaps out and gives an eerie opera performance.

A wide-eyed Silver tumbles backwards but nobody should get the wrong idea. He was just acting, he wasn't-huh? Why are Kris' arms are extended like she was expecting a hug.

A few seconds pass before Silver and Kris blink and blush, both yelping in-between their teeth. They rocket backwards and avoid making eye contact with each other. Meanwhile, Valen's Gengar rolls around on the ground as he tears up in hysterics.

Gengar briefly joins Valen, Gladion, and Jacques in a four-way fist bump, then he teases Silver and Kris with kissy faces. Jacques decides to observe the spectacle, leaving Valen and Gladion to chat.

Gladion embraces Valen and vice versa giving each other several hard pats before they let go. Sis and him will never be able to repay Catherine and Richie Barsotti for taking them in as if they're flesh and blood. Nor can they repay Valen for asking them.

"What brings you here?" Valen inquires. "It was rather sudden to learn that you're coming to visit."

Gladion shrugs. "I needed a vacation."

Hilda trots in-between Valen and Gladion slides her arms around the former's neck. Starmie's airborne and rotates towards Gengar, but it stops to nudge Valen as a greeting.

"Sorry Gladion, but Val-Val can't hide from me!" she titters. "I was here for agency business!"

Hilda basks in Valen's warmth as he strokes her back and plays with her hair. Their kissing's slow and steady, each one packing a a tooth-rotting tingle. They share a laugh over Gengar and Starmie poking each other.

Hilda releases Valen and vice versa, then spins to face Gladion. "How about Rosa?" She tilts her heads rightwards, her left hand in front of her silly grin. "What's the scoop?"

Gladion grunts in amusement, stating, "The Bug-type painting Guzma bought is right up in everybody's face in Team Skull's Mansion."


Rosa unleashes her usual exuberance as she jumps on Valen's back. Now she's bopping him with her feet. Ahhhhhh, the horror. The best part is that this wasn't even planned. It's another case of him and his rays of sunshine ending up the same location.

"Moving on, you know what I want." Gladion yanks a Poké Ball from his belt. "I've been wanting another go, Valen."

"Very well." Valen narrows his eyes and grabs a Poké Ball from inside his jacket "Ready for a beatdown?"

"Bring it on."

Silver and Kris tried to sneak in photos while nobody was looking, but they were actually successful this time. Silver's trying way too hard to hide his smile...for some reason. His "big" and "tough" attitude isn't fooling anybody.

Hilda's Starmie is poking them to egg them on and his Gengar's making kissy faces again. Guess Silver relenting will have to wait.

It's rather convenient that there's a second set of battlefields right next to where everyone met up, eh? There's more than enough room for the small crowd gathering. There's a lotta cool shops and restaurants to visit nearby, the merchandise and meals vast enough that it's hard for somebody to not find at least one thing they like. Even if they're ultra grumpy or ultra edgy like a certain duo of guys he knows.

Gladion awaits their match from the opposite end of the center field. It's time to-who jumped onto his back this time? The arms around his neck release a endothermic sensation to massage his body and mind and he doesn't want it to end. Just like the huge from Rosa, Hilda, and Melanie. The sassy laughter also gives it away.

"Can't you see that I'm about to battle?" he laughs. "Glad you could make it, Skyla."

"That's why I did it now."

Skyla jumps off of his back and he wraps his left arm around her waist. He pulls her to his side and places his right hand on her back.

"Do it again later, it's only fair that I give you a ride."

"That's what I thought, airhead."

They let go of each other and she runs to join the others. Now that he's gotten a good luck hug, he'll definitely win now. Hilda's Starmie even gave him a good luck poke.

"The empress shall bring order to this chaotic world!"

He spins the ball with a finger and chucks it into the air. Gardevoir leaps out with her eyes closed and her arms folded. She slowly opens her eyes and her devious, lopsided grin appears. She greets everybody with an eerie, whispery cry. Oh, Kris can see what Melanie meant by 'yandere-like personality?' Hahahahaha, she'll gladly take that as compliment!

In all fairness, there's more to the empress than meets the eye. She turns her head to face Valen, her cocky attitude and fierce glare giving way to pure adoration and a beautiful tune.

Gladion's Houndoom jumps out of his ball and lands on all fours. She greets him with a bow, getting a low-toned howl in return.

"No Silvally?" Valen crosses his arms and lifts his chin. "What about a Z-Move?"

"Nah, I want to have a duel." Gladion yanks down his sleeve. "A Mega Evolution duel."

"Bring it."

"From the darkest depths of the underworld, seek out the opposition and incinerate them with your purifying flames!" Gladion booms and punches his Mega Ring. "Houndoom, Mega Evolve!"

Obstructed by light, the intimidating canine grows in size. Once he's fully visible again, his mighty battle howl sends the ground shivering.

"If you're using the chant from that battle flick we did in Unova, then it means—" Valen leans forward and rolls up his right sleeve. "I'm gonna win this one too." His prideful grin fully bears his teeth. "The empress has issued her decree—cower as she unleashes her wrath upon this battlefield!" He taps his Mega Ring. "Gardevoir, Mega Evolve!"

An evanescent light obstructs her figure. Her elegant and flowing gown extends further and the spikes on the sides of her head protrude further out with curves. The long glove look appears on her arms, then her figure becomes fully visible again.

"Use Nasty Plot and Shadow Ball."

Houndoom's eyes glow an eerie red and he howls like a werewolf under a full moon. A black and red sphere is launched from his mouth afterwards.

"Intercept with Moonblast!"

Mega Gardevoir's eyes glow light pink and a burning moon-like orb appears in-between her hands. She swings her body like a elegant figure skater and hurls the orb into Shadow Ball. The collision sets off a detonation that enshrouds the arena with smoke.

"Use Foul Play, then use Flamethrower."

Mega Houndoom leaps above Mega Gardevoir. The smoke scurries away as he slams her into the ground with his front paws. Mega Houndoom fires a stream of black flames that glows red, forcing the remaining smoke to flee.

"I hope her Thunderbolt isn't too shocking for you!"

Mega Gardevoir spins like a ballet dancer and a purple glow envelops her. She narrowly avoids the attack and zaps Mega Houndoom with a powerful lightning bolt.

"Try this on for size," Gladion quips. "Here comes Iron Tail."

Mega Houndoom's thin, pointy tail becomes covered by a metallic white aura. He slams his tail into Mega Gardevoir, flinging her onto the ground. She quickly regains her footing and briefly levitates, gesturing for Mega Houndoom to come on down.

Gladion crosses his arms, his competitive gaze following the rocketing canine. "Let's try that again."

Houndoom's tail beams metallic white again, but Gardevoir simply folds her arms and snickers.

"Deny it with Mega Kick!"

Mega Gardevoir's feet glow bright white and she readies herself. Each swing of Mega Houndoom's glowing tail is blocked by the graceful movements of her legs. Her gown ripples as she spins to block another onslaught. Her eyes narrow and her smirk widens at an opening. Before Mega Houndoom can react, he's slammed into the ground with her right leg's end tips.

"Quickly, use Aura Sphere!"

Mega Gardevoir fires a light green oval of energy from her mouth, which flings Mega Houndoom sends him skipping like a rock. He eventually comes to a stop on his right side, but he manages to stagger up on all fours.

"Try taking a Sludge Bomb!"

A storm of black globs, each with a crimson glow, comes flying out of Houndoom's mouth. Gardevoir crosses her arms and braces herself for impact.

She shuts her eyes and grits her teeth, determined to endure the pelting. This move must've slipped her mind, but it won't happen again.

"Gardevoir, we've gotta be cautious," Valen tells her with his arms crossed. "Use Recover."

Mega Gardevoir nods, giving Valen a loving smile. Visibility of her figure is obstructed by an evanescent light obscures her figure.

"Fire Blast."

"Block it with Mystical Fire!"

Gardevoir's eyes glow purple and two flaming swords materialize above her. Her hand movements resemble that of a composer, and the flaming swords spin to form a circular shield. The blazing kanji formation collides with the swords, causing smoke to obstruct visibility.

"You've landed some mean attacks, but that's as far as you'll get." He slams his right fist into his left palm. "Rapid fire combo with Teleport and Aura Sphere!"

Mega Gardevoir vanishes, then re-appears to blast Mega Houndoom with the green sphere. She repeats this process several times, the smoke clearing out with each instance.

"Agh!" Gladion grits his teeth. "Dark Pulse!"


Mega Houndoom fires off a stream of black circles with a crimson glow. Gardevoir leaps up over the stream of circles and hurls her moon-like orb like a baseball pitcher. The orb slams into Mega Houndoom's back, sending him howling and staggering.

"End this with Mega Kick!"

Mega Gardevoir careens downwards and slams her feet into Mega Houndoom's left side. A series of graceful, precise blows follows suit. Houndoom quickly topples onto the battlefield and reverts back to its regular form

Gladion lowers his head and takes a deep, cleansing breath. When he looks up, a content smile appears. "You've still got it."

"Thanks, you too."

Before Gladion recalls Houndoom, Gardevoir bows to thank the canine. She reverts back to her regular form, then she levitates towards Valen. She him a peck on the top of his head, and he responds by rubbing her upper arm.

"That's my girl," Valen commends. "Get some rest." He recalls her back into her ball.

Gladion's catching up with Rosa, Hilda, Skyla, and Silver. On the other hand, Kris is gesturing towards him to come chat with her. Valen pauses, then he nods with a smile. He strolls closer to Kris and they exchange a fist bump.

"How's the apprenticeship going?"

"Great great great!" Kris closes her eyes and forms a V with her fingers. "Can you believe that I got to explain the museum's lone Giorgione yesterday?! I love Tempest Clash soooo much, it's a truly classic battle painting!"

"That Charizard and Dragonite causes quite a storm for those seeing it for the first time."

"I see what you did there!"

Silver can't help it, he's gotta smile over Valen and Kris geeking out together. That was a sick as hell battle too, it makes him wanna plop himself into the pro circuit to show that he's just as strong…as Valen. He'd mop the floor with Gladion no problem, but he's already got his next opponent in mind.

He's going to challenge Wes to a battle.

Oh great, Kris is focusing on him instead of buildings. He wanted to see her gush because she's ador-she leaves him alone when she does. What did he do this time? Were the photos subpar! Is she about to drop a lecture over his fashion sense?

"Are you having fun, mister?"

"I should've seen that one coming." Silver clears his throat and shoves his hands into his pockets. "I'm having fun, but we're just friends having fun."

"At least you know the truth." Kris waves in a silly, dismissive manner. "The truth being that I'm way of your league."

"Good." Silver shuts his eyes and inverts his lower lip. "But you do look...well you know...good." If he has to accidentally blush like this, he's making her blush too. "Uh...yeah...you always look...that word…starts with a p." He picks a random building to stare at. "Friends can say that…can't they?"

If they weren't in a city, the only noises would be the melodies of bird Pokémon and various other sounds in the orchestra of nature. Did she hear him correctly? Did he just…say…she looks good? She's not dreaming…is she?

She squeezes her eyes shut and tucks her head in-between her arms. This wasn't supposed to happen—she was supposed to be swooning like a princess being swept off of her feet.

"Huh, that actually shut you up." Silver smirks and aims his mischievous gaze towards her. "About time something worked."

How could it not shut her up?! Code red! Code red! Focus on that cool Dragonite skyscraper! Wait no, her face is still red! Stop laughing, Gladion! All of you, stop laughing.

"This is gold." Skyla giggles. "Pure gold."

"No, his name's Silver." Valen's jest forces him to block a nose poke. "Watch yourself." He laughs with her and they share a quick side hug.

"Valen, I must concede that you are indeed the wiseass," Jacques quips and bows halfway. "I apologize for the inconvenience."

"You're all soooo funny!" Rosa and Hilda howl. "Even Silver can't hide his laughter!"

"…Humph, got me there." Silver's smugness leaking out as he approaches the short steps. "Come on Kris, let's head back onto the boardwalk."

Kris lets out a squeak. "Ah, s-sorry!" Her smile's sheepish and tight-lipped. "I'm coming!" Phew, it's not her they're laughing at.

As she runs to catch up with Silver, an image of him rocking attire from the 1400s pops up in Kris' mind. Specifically, that black robe and hat worn by Geret van Bruge in his Jorgel van Eyck portrait. ...Does that mean she should dress up as Geret's lover, Caterina Arnolfini?

Timeout! Timeout timeout timeout! The others are about to follow Gladion's lead and roast them! Pull a Silver and act indifferent! Don't poke her, Starmie!

Silver's staring at her with a flat-eyed expression. He's already gone up the stairs while she's still halfway. He shrugs and starts to scurry off, making her dash up the rest of the stairs. There's no escaping her, Silver! Give up and say that you're her best friend!

A pot hisses and sizzles atop a modern stove with an antique aesthetic, and the ticking of an oven's timer joins it for a duet. Valen keeps a close eye on both, plus he makes sure the red pasta sauce is far from the edge of the counter. He felt like having pizza for dinner too, plus how can he say no to such fine ladies like Rosa and Hilda?

A bluish glow surrounds a knife as Gardevoir motions it with her powers to chop bell, green and red peppers. The chime of silverware echoes as Hilda sorts them into groups of three.

Across the hallway, Melanie, Skyla, and Leaf are chatting in the living room. Melanie and Leaf came over just as he was starting to make dinner. Gardevoir always lends a hand, but Hilda didn't have to come trotting in. Rosa and her already took care of the Pokémon's dinner, so it's only fair that he handles the rest.

"Listen, I appreciate the help but—"

A forehead bop overrules his attempted objection, and a kiss to the lips solidifies the negation. Hilda gently nudges him aside. Words aren't needed here, for Hilda's decreed that he's going to stay back and let her handle the rest. Except he wants to help her.

"I would call you ball of fluff, but you're being Hard-Ass Hilda right now."

Hilda taps both of his cheeks. "One more word and you're butt's going on the sofa."

He pretends to not hear her, directing his gaze to the living room. His butt would already been out of the kitchen if Rosa decided to trot in. Rosa's going to bake desserts after this. All of the treat recipes were handed down to her from her mother.

Gengar waddles through the hallway, but the silly specter stops to wave at them. Once he arrives in the living room. happily closing his eyes over Luxray and Hilda's Umbreon snuggling together while watching television. Nearby, Rosa's Serperior and Jacques' Tsareena are having a chat, presumably over human food. He doesn't know what else to conclude—they're keenly focused on what's going on in the kitchen.

Gengar vanishes and re-appears to land on his back. He onto his feet and waddles a few steps, only to perform it a second time. A nudge from Starmie indicates a challenge, and the two engage in another poking battle.

Rosa's giggling over the antics as she drums her feet on the floor. He can tell joint aroma between the pasta and pizza's tingling her taste buds.

Rosa catches Valen looking her way and she blows a kiss at him. "Don't forget to eat your fair share of Roooosa's Super Special Stupendous Brownies!"

She's also giddy over the cool exhibit they've set up before dinner prep—eight vases she painted on in the style of red-figure and black-figure vases are now in the living room. They've been meticulously placed around the replica of Bernini's The Anguish of King AZ. Rounding out this cool display is a reproduction of an Etrusk black-figure vase that depicting a buff guy riding a five-headed Hydregion.

Silly her, she can gawk at the art pieces later. There's a tag team exhibition match being broadcasted from Barberini Stadium, go back to watching that with your besties. Hooray for watching with besties, and it's a good thing that the house now has a third sofa!

Pegasus Cubworth and Abeiku Akousa of the Elite Four are facing Galar's Raihan Bajya and Unova's Iris Hatem. Pegasus's Latios and Abeiku's Salamence are giving Raihan's Duraludon and Iris' Dragonite a run for their money.

Iris and Abeiku call for Dragon Claw, leading towards an intense, close-quarter skirmish between their dragons. It reminds Rosa of the many battles that Valen's Salamence and Melanie's Dragonite have had over the years. Seeing two powerful Pokémon locked in aerial combat has always been super cool to her.

Serperior slithers over for her pets, plus she's keenly eyeing the televised match. Rosa massages the Grass-type down her body, the happy humming a pleasent tune to her ears.

Kaaaay, it's time to stop playing around and ask Melanie the fashion rater some super duper mega ultra serious questions!

"Soooooooooooooooooooooooo, who's got the better sense of style?"

Jacques directs a sideways glance towards Melanie. "As one of two fashion gurus in the squad, your input would be most appreciated."

Melanie straightens out her posture and holds her chin up high. "I've long been a fan of Pegasus' red suit jacket and Abeiku's traditional Drakkon robe, but the winner's obviously Iris."

Rosa high fives Melanie. "Good pick."

"You forgot Raihan, signorina."

"He desperately needs a makeover." Melanie flips her long hair back. "Who shows up wearing that when everyone else's so stylish, huh?"

Jacques chuckles. "I forgot that you're both a fashionista and a judge."

"Don't be a wiseass like your cousin."

"Nooooooooooow, this queen decrees that Iris is gonna win the whole thing by herself!" Rosa furrows her brow and raises her fists. "Let's gooooooo, Unova!" She makes punching motions. "Wham bam pow!"

Iris may no longer be the champ, but she's developed a unique persona for the pro circuit in Unova and abroad. That kalasiris and jeweled collar is laced with ornamentation. That cape looks nice on her, and she's got a headdress fit for a pharaoh. It's an unapologetic presentation of her Osirian roots and it's super duper cool!

Salamence knocked out Duraludon with a mean Brick Break! Here comes the pinkish white beam of Luster Purge! Dragonite's countering with Double Team, but Luster Purge manages to strike its mark! Who's gonna clench the win for their duo?!

Out of the corner of her eye, she spots Valen heading towards them. Hilda must've kicked him out of the kitchen. Look at him shrug like he doesn't get it.

"Don't laugh," he teases as he sits next to her. "Gardevoir agreed with Hilda."

"Silly boy." She blows another kiss at him. "You need to relax."

Rosa's body is massaged by the warmth of his arms around her waist. She giggles as he hoists her onto his lap.

Valen plays with Rosa's long ponytails. "At least you're not a hard-ass like Hilda."

"I heard that, Val-Val!"

Leaf mischievously smiles. "Hee hee, you got in trouble!"

"You're definitely a candidate for Rosa's long lost twin."

"Except she likes the inferior deep dish pizza, you silly boy." The tables have turned on Rosa via Valen giving her a forehead bop. "I have to state the truth."

"Hee hee, Rosa's just jealous that I'm the winner!"

This is Leaf's first time inside Valen's house, and what an experience it is. She's heard about all the old furniture and other art pieces, but seeing them all together like this is awesome! She's never seen anybody plop a sculpture in living room like this before! The house itself bears a resemblance to her grandparents' house in Lakeview City, so there's a pinch of nostalgia present too.

"Focus on the battle—it's down to Iris vs Pegasus!" Skyla high fives Rosa with both hands. "Unovan girl power will prevail!"

"Tee-hee, that's right!" Rosa makes a peace sign over her forehead and winks. "Unovan girls, we're unbeatable!"

"Unovan girls, we're undeniable!" Skyla does the same gesture. "Go go go go!"

Since they're looking at him because he's half Unovan, Valen may as well say something too. But his devious smirk says it all.

"Woo-hoo, go." He exaggerates the deadpan in his tone, but he blocks the ensuring bop and poke. "Nice try."

"You won't be so lucky next time." Rosa grabs a portfolio off of the carved walnut table on her right. "Noooooooooooow, it's time to show Leaf my favorite portrait subject." She turns her head and flritatously winks. "I wonder who it is."

Since Rosa's decided that the seventeen portraits she's painted of him must be shown to Leaf, perhaps he's the real winner. She houses them in the first art portfolio she received from him years ago. The oldest one was painted when they were sixteen, about a year before they got together. It was her way of celebrating ten years of friendship.

She treated each one as a labor of affection, intimately crafting them with abundant verisimilitude. Much like the portraiture of Old Masters like Heinrich Holbein, Leonardo da Vinti, Raphael Sadoletto, and Sir Arnold van Dyck. Naturally, it's a badge of honor to be a frequent subject in this galluptious woman's oeuvre. It's an oeuvre that channels the Old Masters each and every time he sees a member of this prestigious congregation.

"Saaaay, why's the heart blue?!"

"Valey has dark blue eyes, so I used a darker shade of ultramarine blue to paint a big heart on the cover!" Rosa's gaze moves between the television and her works. "It was a small thanks for always believing in me!"

"Awwww, he must've been so happy!"

Yes he was, good ol' Rosa rarely fails to put at least a small smile on his face. How can anybody not smile when they see that grin?

"You painted Hilda riding on his back!"

"Tee-hee, it was too cuteeeee!" Rosa briefly flips to the next page. "I painted myself getting a piggyback ride too!" She accesses the photos on her phone. "This one's still drying!"

There he is, holding the trophy and ribbon of his most recent contest win. His confident grin and his Salamence's smug expression were captured with remarkable photorealism. She even nailed the faint hint of blushing on the flying puppy's face. He's basking in the visible tingle from Milotic's kiss to the top of his head.

The background's pitch black, like she wanted Salamence him to be in a play. This theatrical effect is a hallmark of Caravaggio's influence on her.

"Hard-Ass Hilda's coming."

Her tittering and trotting can be heard from the hallway, and she appears like a Rapidash using Agility.

"Dinner's ready!"

Rosa leaps off of his lap, but a forehead means that he's going to relax and he will like it. The bop was also on behalf of Hilda.

Not even a minute after he stands up, Skyla clears herself for take off. To be fair, he did promise her a piggyback ride, but he also didn't think it would be to the dining room. Eh, he's used to being a human taxi. Rosa's been doing it since they were fourteen. When Rosa's Serperior was a Snivy, she used to do the same to his Luxray.

Skyla hops off of his back and takes a seat next to him. Rosa and Hilda pull him onto the seat and resume splitting the food and drink with everybody. They've brought out the goblets with twisted stems and the porcelain plates lavishly decorated with ornate patters on the brim.

It's time to eat with several people close to him, plus somebody he wants to get to know better. Between this squad and the Pokémon squad, he couldn't have asked for a better group.
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Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 11: The True Meaning of Obviousness

Wooden buildings with tiled, thatched irimoya-yane line the main plaza walkway trekking though Angel City's historical Little Johto district. Multi-story pagodas loom in the near distance, constructing a unique transition between the district and the juggernauts of downtown. These structures greet countless people and Pokémon as they experience a slice of Johtoian culture and history, a slice that was unveiled to the public in the year 1807.

The sliding doors of these structures have no time to close due to the constant traffic. The aroma of various foods, such as ramen and dumplings, caresses the noses of those who enter the restaurants. Others venture into the tea houses, but some just want to stare at meticulously manicured gardens of various shapes and sizes. A Chikorita in the nearest garden giggles at a Haunter's spree of tapping random Pokémon and vanishing afterwards.

Several pedestrians wear the traditional Johtoian clothes and accessories they've purchased from the local shops. A grinning Glaceon wearing a kanzashi and a sakuto necklace stands on its hind legs. It makes playful motion with its front paws and receives pets from its trainer. A Sylveon and a Leafeon wearing the same accessories jump up and down with glee.

Obtaining such items is Kris' main goal for the day. She's finally gotten the chance to visit with a certain someone. To her, there's no such thing as too many outfits and accessories.

"Shop shop shop shop until I've gotta stop!~" She skips along, waving at tourist and locals. "A girl from New Bark Town with a megacity to see!~" Kris sways from left to right, gawking at all of the stores. "I don't know what it holds but it won't get the best of me!~"

Her Ursaring and Silver's Crobat hum along, the latter noting that his own trainer's too grumpy to walk faster.

Indeed, Silver could care less about being left in the dust. Valen, Melanie, and Hilda entered a small tournament. Rosa's showing Leaf and Skyla around town. Good for them. Him? He could be battling or admiring the strength of Homeric protagonists, but he's stuck with this fashion and shopping loony.

Hang out with Kris they said, it would be fun they said. She's not cuckoo they said, she's perfect for him they said. Such an absolutely fantastic time he's having with his gi-FRIEND in Little Johto.

"Hurry up, Slowpoke Silvey!"

"My name's Silver."

"Whatever you say, Sil!~" She giggles at his groaning. "Come on, let's have fun together!"

"Sure, whatever." He fumbles his hands into his pockets. "Pain in my ass."

"And yet you're here with me!"

Humph, she better not get the wrong idea. He accidentally said yes, and now he's stuck due to her cu-due to coincidence. At least it's Little Johto. He can just stare at this traditional Johtoian architecture to impress-DEFEAT Kris by being the strongest in sophistication.

The largest building in Little Johto is an accurate representation of Champion Nobunaga's castle that serves as a kabuki theater, a movie theatre, a fancy restaurant, a museum, and a contest hall. It's got black walls and multiple of those sloped, triangular roofs that remind him of the various shrines in Johto, such as the ones in Ilex Forest.

Paying attention to Kris gushing about the arts really paid off. He-huh? Wasn't Kris just in front of him? He does a full scan of his surroundings, but she's nowhere in sight. Where'd she go?

"These kimonos are so cute!"

Her voice came from inside the building left of the castle. It's another castle-like building, albeit a lot smaller and the exterior's made up of white walls. This one is...a clothing store? Seriously? How many outfits does she need? She's got like ten thousand of every type of fashion item and accessory somebody can think of.


He saunters through the gate-like entrance the store attempts to spot Kris amongst the throng. Won't be easy to catch up with her because she's a Ninjask in a place like this. She better have picked up at least one kimono already because there's a huge crowd in that section.

"Ooooh, I'd rock a jūnihitoe well! Silver would rock this shogun outfit like a boss!"

Silver smacks his face with his right palm. He'd sneak away but knowing his luck, somebody will be there to block his path.

Huh, it's not just a clothing store. The aisle signs mention painting prints, pottery, jewelry, posters, and other items. That's actually pretty cool, so he may as well look around too. Most of the ceramics are reproduction of ones that range the pre-feudal era to the late nineteenth century. There's even replicas of Go gaming tables from the Nara period.

Kris waves at him from the section containing the painting and prints. Her Ursaring's holding four bags, two of which are filled up.

"I want this ink painting print!" The gaze of her gleaming eyes darts around. "And this ukiyo-e print!"

She loves how traditional ukiyo-e prints were carved by hand, each line of the artist's drawing engraved with fantastic precision. This medium was and is a team effort. so everybody must get credit.

No surprise that Hokusai and Hiroshige woodblock prints make up a good portion of the selection. She's going to get several Hiroshige woodblocks for Valen and Rosa. Hilda's getting a series of graphic novels that's been hard to find since release. Melanie will receive posters showcasing the Dragonite line. She's working on the rest of the squad.

As for herself, she'll get a print of the work right in front of her. Lugia's Great Wave is Hokusai's most famous woodblock print. Lugia's poking its head out of of a monstrous tidal wave that curves over the trembling ocean. The water rises into mountains and lowers into valleys as the mighty Pokémon unleashes a gale via its wings. The sky's a mixture of white and orange, and there's an empty boat caught up in the rupturing sea.

This one has been on her want list for a while, but she never got around to it. Now's her chance. Of course, this is on top of the numerous outfits, accessories, ceramics, and jewelry she plans to bring home today. She'll come back for more prints in due time.

"I'll pay for everything."

Kris freezes for a moment, then she looks back at Silver. …Haha, her gut feeling proved to be correct. She knew Silver couldn't hide his soft side forever. However, it wouldn't be fair if he paid for four shopping bags full of items.

"That's sweet of you, but I'll take care of it." She shows him the necklace he got her, making sure everybody can see the miniature Botticelli print attached to it. "You've done more than enough."

Silver rapidly blinks and his stare is wide-eyed. Does she really think he's going to let her get away without his contribution? They're his friends too.

"Humph." A smile appears on Silver's face. "Try harder next time." He rubs her head, which makes her giggle. "At least let me pay half."

Kris nods. "That's fair."

"And let me get you another piece of jewelry."

Kris happily gasps and her eyes twinkle. "Yay, thanks!" She rapidly points to a pendant necklace with an ornate, square frame. "I want that one, Sil!"

"My name's…ah just forget it." Silver closes his eyes and his smile grows. "You can call me Sil or Silvey."

"I knew I'd win!"

She dashes while he saunters, but his grumpiness is no more. She might be a pain in the ass, but is that really a bad thing when she's great to be around? ...Okay, he really doesn't need to be pulled along like this...whatever...she's enjoying herself. That's more important.

Kris has decided to drop the bags off before meeting him in this part of town, much to his relief. Imagine if people they knew saw him…having a soft spot for her and carrying one or two giants bags. Even though her Ursaring was more than happy to carry all four.

He recalls this area quite well, mostly because Kris tends to gush about those Gengar and Typhlosion buildings. He's gotta admit that they're pretty cool. The parking lot of the latter's got a sick trio of Kadillaklowriders. All three are from the early 1970s, and each one is finished in pinstriping resembling the patterns on Kyogre, Groudon, and Rayquaza respectively. The body colors even match the respective titans.

The other buildings have various shades of blue on their exteriors, such as Kalosian Blue and True Blue. Glass-brick walls and sun-breakers are present too, that the latter keeps these buildings from becoming too hot. It's a little bit strange how Kris really likes the buildings she calls Art Deco, but is neutral on the others. Aren't they from the same time period?

"Oooh, I haven't gotten to see this work yet!"

There she is, leaping towards a wall painting that he didn't even notice until now. How'd he miss that? She's gesturing for him to come closer. Yeah yeah yeah, he's coming. Calm down, you crazy person.

"I wasn't expecting to see something like this out in the open."

"It's a fresco by the Calvanian Fresco School and was painted by a leading muralist from the Mextavito region!"

Dating back to 1927, this cool mural depicts Yveltal dispatching a bunch of armored mercenaries who have trampled upon a lush forest where Xerneas is resting. The artist was none other Dario Rivera, a personal favorite of hers among twentieth-century artists. She has studied his work extensively whenever she got the chance.

"You know, there's more to this than meets the eye." Kris interweaves her fingers in-between Silver's fingers. "For centuries, Yveltal's been used to symbolize how you can change your destiny."

He's about to say something but her fingers keeps jolting him! Does she have to hold his hand? …Ah forget it, he's enjoying the tender sensation. And on second though, there's no need to say anything when she knows he'll understand the implication. The power to change your destiny is something only strong people like him can master.

"Are you there, Silvey?"

"...Yeah...thanks." Silver's smile widens and he pats her shoulder. "Means a lot coming from you."

"Don't sweat it, Sil." she winks. "I may joke that you're out of my league but we both know that I'm the kind of girl you'd be down for.~"

"Humph, don't push your luck."

She lets go and strides off like a Sawsbuck on a grassy field. He saunters behind her like a Slowbro, but a misplaced step causes him to tumble into her and onto the grass. As if it couldn't any more awkward, their lips accidentally connect.

He backs away as fast as he can, his eyes locked onto her shocked and flushing face. Hurry up, figure out a cover story! Accidental kiss won't cut it, not when Meganium is making kissy faces!

"That's payback for nearly having a kissing session with me." Silver shuts his eyes and tries to play it cool. "Watch where you're going next time." Don't blush, just don't blush and it'll be fine.

"I already told you that was an accident." Kris folds her arms and looks away. "…But, um…I'm…kinda glad you brought that up." She squeezes her eyes shut and her face burns up. "I...want to know...if…y-you…l-liked it…and did y-you…. like this o-one too?"

Silver's eyes widen and his mouth drops halfway. Thanks to her, his face's now burning up. Of course he didn't like that kiss! He didn't like this kiss either! …Okay, maybe he-absolutely not.

Meganium spirals onto the sidewalk in hysterical laughter, her watery gaze directed towards a familiar face lurking around the corner. This is about to get even funnier—she instantly recognized his blond hair and black clothes.

"That escalated quickly," Gladion calls out with a smirk. "I wonder if both were really accidents."

"Humph, put a sock in it." Silver turns his body away. "You don't even know what happened."

"You said it out loud, Silver." Gladion approaches and greets Meganium with head pats. "Your trainer and her boyfriend aren't subtle."

"Humph, Kris and I are just friends." Silver clenches his teeth, his nervous gaze moving from left to right.. "Uh…yeah…friends…don't forget it."

"And a Manaphy invited me to its natural habitat for dinner." Gladion shrugs. "Wonder which one the crew will believe more."

"You better listen to Sil." Kris crosses her arms and glares at Gladion. "Or are you feeling lucky today?"

"Careful, you're barking up the wrong Sudowoodo."

Silver will let them exchange verbal blows—he's too busy smacking his face over yet another one of Gladion's fallacious declarations. Forget Kris, this guy's the real pain in his ass.

His annoyed expression makes way for a puzzled one. Manaphy's natural habit…wait a minute! The nerve, the absolute nerve of this edgelord! Now he's laughing, how dare he! Manaphy and Phione's natural habit is allegedly the lost island of Atlantis! ATLANTIS!

Easy, take it easy. Remember, you don't like overrated edgy bands and are far more cultured than he is.

"It took you long enough to figure it out." Gladion's voice carries triumphant glee. "Kris already knew."

"Humph, I should've known you'd pull a stunt like this."

Before Gladion can witness Silver and Kris making fools out of themselves even more, his attention is grabbed by a car. Specifically, the sedan announcing itself with the angry roar of its engine. Blacked out cars are cool as hell in his book.

The car's parked next to them, the orange hair of its owner now fully visible. Gladion doesn't know how Rui's got a Charjabug SRT Houndoom but it's a good choice on her part. Go big or go home.

Silver lifts up his chin. "That thing got a Hemi, Rui?"

"Hell yeah it's got a Hemi!" Rui laughs while getting out of the car. "You expected anything less, Silver?"

Kris should've known Silver would follow Gladion's lead. She grunts in annoyance and refuses to look in Silver's direction. She was going to ask about what she should wear to dinner, but whatever. Gawk at the car, see if she cares. It's not like she really likes him or anything, idiot.

"I didn't ask to go to the circus but the circus came to me."

Everybody's attention is drawn towards the park separating two building that's directly behind them. Wes has been listening in the entire time, but why'd hide behind a tree?

Rui places her hands on her hips, her glare looking like Wes brought the wrong flavor of cookies again. She's the boss in this relationship, whether he likes it or not.

Rui storms towards Wes, asking, "Why didn't you tell us you were here sooner?"

"Because I didn't feel like it." Wes strolls onto the plaza with wide steps. "Outta the way, nagging granny."

Rui groans and crosses her arms, rolling her eyes over Wes' gleeful smirk.

"I wanted to meet up with you for this." Silver yanks a Poké Ball of of his belt. "You up for it, Wes?"

"I am, but let's make it a double battle."

"Humph, fine with me."

"Wes enjoyed his battle with Valen so much that he nearly rushed into our eventual battle." she snickers and nudges Wes with her elbow. "It was subtle at first, but I know him way too well."

"Be quiet." Wes faintly blushes and looks in the direction of the mural. "I don't know what you're talking about—do I look like the type to get excited?" Will she fall into his trap?

Rui's eyes bulge out and she scowls. "Hey, I know what you're trying to do!"

Wes fakes a perplexed expression. "What am I trying to do?"

"The pranks you've pulled on me!"

"What pranks?" Wes shrugs with a halfhearted smile. "Stop making things up."

Wes and Rui carry on with their back and forth, while Silver can't help but see Kris and himself in them. Judging by Gladion's snickering, he's probably getting some mileage outta this.

Why is there a public battlefield with the aesthetics of an Old West stadium, complete with a saloon entrance? Why is it smack dab in downtown Angel City? Who knows, but Wes finds it kinda cool. He's a fan of westerns on the big screens, plus Rui has made him partake in westerns in both PokéStar Studios in Unova and Sunset Studios in this megacity.

Speaking of Rui, she's cocking her head with a playful, taunting smirk directed at him. What goes on her mind is truly a mystery.

Silver's Feraligatr and Arcanine emerge from their respective Poké Balls, the ground shuddering under their feet. For a circus clown, Silver's got some pretty tough Pokémon. Even Feraligatr is trying too hard to act cool for Kris's Meganium, much to Arcanine's amusement.

Wes yanks a pair of Poké Balls from inside his trench coat. "Engage."

He hurls both balls upwards, his Espeon gracefully leaping over his broody Umbreon and landing with her head up high. Umbreon rolls his eyes and groans, which only serves to make Espeon giggle.

Silver leans forward and furrows his brow. "You may be top dog tonight, but they bigger they come—"

"The harder they fall!" Kris bends her elbows and tightens her fists. "Knock his socks off!"

"Humph, you don't need to tell me that," he jests as he straightens out his posture. "But thanks."

Gladion crosses his arms. "You used something Valen likes to say to try and impress Kris, didn't you?"

"Zip it." Silver glares behind him, fighting off the encroaching blushing. "Wes, let's start the battle already." He rolls his eyes at Kris and Rui, his groaning overshadowed by their laughter. "Please."

"That's what I'm waiting for."

"Right…my bad." Silver slides a hand into his pocket. "Arcanine, use Extreme Speed," he commands. "Feraligatr, use Work Up."

Arcanine charges towards Umbreon and Espeon with great speed, appearing to vanish and re-appear in the blink of an eye. His teammate's enveloped by a red aura and he roars over his increased power.

"Alright, hit em with Hydro Pump and Fire Blast."

Feraligatr shoots out a torrential jet stream of water and Arcanine spits out a powerful formation of flames that are in the shape of kanji.

"Umbreon, use Double Team." Wes cocks his head while smugly smiling. "Espeon, use Light Screen."

Espeon's eyes glow violet and she creates an rectangular barrier that blocks the torrent, albeit the force of the attack slightly pushes her backwards. At the same time, an squadron of Umbreon clones surrounds Arcanine. Several of the clones are vanquished by the fiery formation, but Umbreon taunts that Arcanine's going to need more than that.

"Now it's our turn." Wes grins and folds his arms. "Psychic and Dark Pulse."

Espeon's eyes glow light blue and she unleashes a massive storm surge of energy. Umbreon and each of its clones launch of flurry of circles that resemble the ring on the black quadruped's head.

The blue surge blows Feraligatr and Arcanine backwards, despite their best attempts to hold their ground. However, the attack ends up slamming them into each other. That sends them stumbling, the streams of circles coming in hot and pelting them relentlessly.

"Throat Chop."

Umbreon's front paws are enveloped by an ominous purple aura. He leaps up and does a backflip, jabbing Arcanine under the jaw. He swerves and does the same to Feraligatr. As they reel, Umbreon does another backflip to land next to his teammate. He boasts to her that two can play at that game. Espeon simply giggles and waves her front paws dismissively.

"Not bad," Silver remarks with a lopsided smirk. "Use Flamethrower and Ice Punch."

"Counter with Psybeam and Shadow Ball."

Arcanine launches a crimson stream of swirling flames and Feraligatr's left fist glows frost white. Espeon fires a multicolored beam from her gem and Umbreon ejects a black and purple sphere of energy.

Silver's smirk grows into a grin. "Switch."

Arcanine and Feraligatr swing their bodies to the right and left respectively, resulting in wide-eyed expressions on Umbreon and Espeon's faces.

Flamethrower blasts Umbreon just under his jaw and he lets out a yelp. Flames appear and envelops his body, while his teammate's sent toppling onto the battlefield.

"…Clever." Wes crosses his arms. "You're a formidable opponent."

"You too, but here comes another Hydro Pump."

"You aren't getting lucky this time!" Wes declares. "Umbreon, Confuse Ray!"

Umbreon snarls, his eyes glowing with an ominous yellow aura. The same aura grabs Feraligatr and makes him see Staryu. Feraligatr swirls around like the jet stream of water he's firing, and his attack strikes Arcanine instead.

"Use Psybeam and Shadow Ball."

Espeon blasts Arcanine with a multicolored beam, then quickly swings her body to strike Feraligatr before the beam can evaporate. As his teammates and him reels, Arcanine's nearly sent upwards by a black and purple sphere.

"Throat Chop!"

Umbreon's front paws glow purple again and he jabs Feraligatr, pushing the reptilian's chin upwards and sending him stumbling backwards.

Silver tightens a fist and furrows his brow. "We aren't going down like that!" He swings his right hand forward, then backwards. "Arcanine, Dragon Pulse!"

A crimson red sphere made up of flames swirls inside of Arcanine's mouth. Arcanine launches the sphere and it morphs into a dragon-shaped beam. The beam expands into a massive flaming dragon, it's atheistic a combination of lava and molten rock.

Wind shrieks and ripples everybody's clothes. The dragon formation blasts into both Umbreon and Espeon at a high velocity, hurling them behind Wes. Espeon manages to stay on her feet, albeit barely, but Umbreon topples and wallops the ground.

Wes' mouth gapes halfway, twisting his body and fixating his gaze towards his Pokémon. Umbreon's panting, but his glare indicates that he wants to go down with a bang. Good thing that the area's spacious enough for a big finish—several of the fields in Phenac City are too narrow in space to go all out in.

"Umbreon, Giga Impact!"

Umbreon's able to get up on all fours. A white oval with black streaks encases him and he hurls himself like a missile towards Arcanine. The canine's hurled behind Silver and crashes onto the ground.

Arcanine's able to stagger back onto his feet, and everybody except Sliver looks on in surprise. Arcanine tells Feraligatr to fall back because he wants to go down with a bang too, to which Feraligatr nods.

"Use Flare Blitz."

Arcanine's enveloped by a crimson red fireball and he careens like a meteor in the atmosphere. The full force of the attack tosses Umbreon into Espeon, sending them both landing on their undersides. Arcanine's surrounded by flames that resemble static. He clenches his teeth and leans forward with one eye closed.

Espeon slowly gets back up, but Umbreon's down for the count. As their trainer recalls him, Espeon promises Umbreon that she'll win this battle. Suddenly, a loud thud echoes due to Arcanine tumbling onto his belly. He's got a satisfied grin on his face, much like the one she saw on Umbreon's face a second ago.

Wes and Silver recall Umbreon and Arcanine respectively, smiling over their performances. But there's still one standing on both sides, time to see who'll take home the win.

"Use Shadow Claw."

Feraligatr roars, crossing its arms as his claws glow purple. He lunges towards Espeon and, who giggles and jumps to avoid a double strike.

Each time Feraligatr attempts to land a blow, Espeon leaps up from spot to spot like a pogo stick. Feraligatr nearly hits his mark by rapidly moving his claws, but Espeon does backflips to avoid the flurry of slashes.

A grin re-appears on Wes' face, but it's wider and more lopsided. "Got you where I want you," he declares with rodomontade. "Use Zap Cannon."

The gem on Espeon's forehead glows bluish green, and she launches a large, spherical beam that crackles like a stormy sky. Feraligatr's blasted in his midsection and is sent flying close to the edge of the arena. He kneels halfway with his eyes closed, static surrounding his body.

"Grass Knot."

As her eyes glow emerald green, Espeon thanks Feraligatr for a good battle. Giant vines sprout from the ground and converge onto Feraligatr. They cause him to topple over onto his back, but he tries to get back up. A tense silence befalls the battlefield, only coming to a halt when Feraligatr falls back onto the ground.

Espeon might be panting, but Wes knows that she'll still demand pets from him. He strokes her back and she licks his hand like a puppy. He overhears Silver commending Feraligatr for his performance. Silver may look grumpy but he's a good dude.

With each great battle he partakes in and witnesses, Wes is getting more and more fired up for his battle against Rui. He's been practicing for it, perhaps it's time to set the date.

"I've got to avenge Silver!" Kris turns her body sideways and points toward Rui. "I challenge you."

"Hahahahaha, I'll beat you in half that time!" Rui sticks her tongue out and makes two peace signs horizontally. "Rui's gonna give it to ya!"

Silver and Wes step off of the field, joining a deviously plotting Gladion. Kris and her Meganium dashing past the former. Rui tosses a ball into the air, and out comes her Heracross.

The ensuing battle plays like a slow motion movie in Wes' mind, but it shifts into a prequel featuring Espeon facing her Heracross for the first time. His irresolute feelings are diminishing—he's actually regaining what he thought he had lost. He's also been thinking about paying Orre a visit, but one thing at a time.

Is a loss truly a loss when one sees two people near and dear to their heart brimming with elation? For Valen, the answer's no. Win, lose, whatever. He just wants to chill on this sofa in Melanie's bungalow, having a chat with his old rival and his newest friend.

Melanie and Hilda's eyes are glued to the recording of Garchomp and Dragonite going toe-to-toe with each other. The repeated collisions of Dragon Rush was reminiscent to one of Rosa and Hilda's battles a little while ago. That battle helped him to find the person he thought he had lost.

They're sitting in another one of Melanie's four sofas, six towering bookshelves lurking behind them. Each sofa had a rosewood frame finished in darker brown vinyl and vibrant orange fabric. They're arranged in a rectangular formation, plus there's a lone plush armchair for Melanie.

"I can't believe I won!" Hilda hops up and down. "Battling's so much fun!" Her palms are folded in front of her right shoulder. "I want to have more battles!"

Melanie rests her palms on her hips. "It could've easily been different." Her grin fully exposes her teeth. "I'd have faced him in the finals if Emboar's Blaze didn't activate."

"I knoooow, but I'd still be elated!"

Her match against Melanie in the finals was recorded by Valen, who's chatting with Lisia and Ragnar in the sofa across from then. The recording would've ended when he joined them, but Ragnar recorded the rest. They made sure that the crowd cheered for him with equal fervor. He would've done the same thing—this is somewhat of a tradition among them and the squad.

If that wasn't enough, Val-Val and Lisia became friends super quick. How awesome is that?! It's a repeat of how soon he befriended her!

When he sat down next to her that day, he didn't even bring up the fact that she's a celeb couple's daughter. He was solely focused on her interests, her goals, her favorite food, it was all about her. That was the start of a beautiful friendship that later blossomed into something magnificent.

Her eyes move down towards her diamond-lace necklace, specifically the ruby with a flexing Emboar engraved on both sides. It's hard not to think about him when staring at it—he was and is the absolute sweetest thing.

She wants to hear more of this performing arts discussion, but she also has something important to tell her beloved.

"Val-Val, I'll never cease to be proud of your ability to take losses in stride."

"Hearing those words means that I still won." Not to mention that Rosa texted him a bunch of grin emojis and a cute selfie. "Come here for your second victory hug."

"Hehe, Tackle attack!"

Hilda jumps onto his lap and he pulls her closer. He places a hand on Hilda's back and runs his other hand through her dark brown hair. She wastes no time in wrapping her arms around his neck and resting her chin on his shoulder.

"I've defeated the first place winner with the power of love."

"Hehe, now I'll re-claim first place with Giga Snuggle!" She nudges his upper chest with her forehead. "Feel Hilda's might!"

"Ahhhhhh, help me!" Valen fakes a scared expression. "Whatever will I do?!"

Hilda rests a hand on his chest and her head on his shoulder. He wraps his arm around her and he massages her back.

"Girl no matter what I'll always be your king," he melodiously whispers into Hilda's right ear. "Cuz I know your love's the same."

"And what else?"

"And you're a living Renaissance masterpiece."

Hilda smugly closes her eyes. "That's what I thought, goofball."

"Can you two not send me to the dentist?" Melanie chuckles. "How do you feel, big guy?"

"Still uncertain, but my mind's slowly painting a picture." Valen leans back against the sofa. "But I had a lotta fun, so placement doesn't matter."

"Awesomeeeeeeee!" Hilda drums on his shoulders. "Keep up that positive attitude and you'll be rocking everybody's pants off!" She points at him and winks. "No frowning allowed!"

"Heh, can do."

Just like last time, he felt, and can still feel, an abnormality of detachment over his placement. It was a lesser case this time, but this has never happened before. Are tournaments no longer for him? Or is he so confused that irregular feelings are popping up?

A static-like jolt from Hilda's caressing tingles him back into focus. He should get back to the conversation before anybody else worries about him.

"You were all so so so awesome!" Lisia high fives everybody one by one. "Just the way I like it, and I love love love this bungalow's interior!"

"It's my interior, so of course you would," Melanie quips with a silly smile. "Kidding, kidding."

Valen turns towards Lisia. "Hey, you haven't told me your dream."

"I will travel across the land, dazzling far and wide!" Lisia makes a sideways peace sign and peeks in-between it. "I'll show that anyone can be a star if they just get up and try!"

"You really are similar to Rosa and Hilda," he remarks. "The most similar person that I've ever met."

"That means we're gonna be ultra good friends!"

"Heh, that's fine with me," Valen says. "So, what led you into the performing arts?"

"It screamed my name." Lisia folds her hands on her lap. "I started as purely a trainer, but I realized that gyms and leagues weren't for me," she explains. "I hail from a family of coordinators, composers, and dancers. I've been into all of that since I was little."

"We're similar in that regard—the arts are like a family business for my mom's side. "I've been studying art and history since I was six.""

"Ooooh, that's super cool!" Lisia's eyes light up. "Uncle Wallace's a huge art lover, but you already knew that!"


"What's your backstory?!" Lisia cups her hands together. "I want to know lots more!"

"Well…even as a kid, I felt that being myself would benefit me in the long run." Valen leans back and his eyes meet the ceiling. "You see, I struggled to fit in," he admits. "Especially with the other boys."

Lisia's smile departs to make room for a perplexed expression. "You seem pretty outgoing to me."

"It wasn't always like that." he shrugs. "I tried, they tried, but my interests didn't match up." A sideways glance is directed towards Melanie. "She became defacto leader of the neighborhood girls, but she would invite me if they went somewhere that I liked." He fist bumps Ragnar. "And overtime, I was able to improve my ability to befriend guys."

"How'd you meet Melanie?"

"We met at age five—she had just moved from the Nordica region." Valen flashes a soft, nostalgic smile. "Saw her sitting by herself so I got two juice bottles."

"I still picture that in my mind at times." Melanie rubs the top of his head. "Any guy who wants has to accept that he'll always be a big part of my life."

"I got lucky with Rosa and Hilda." His gaze darts toward Melanie. "Maybe you'll get lucky too."

"We'll see." She shows off the Samurott engravings on the sapphire that hangs from her own diamond-lace necklace. "Last I checked, my favorite necklace came from you."

"You more than deserved a nice gift, and I didn't want to leave you out."

"I know that, doofus."

"Hehe, he forgot that I'm right here." Hilda bops Valen's forehead, but the return bop means he's looking for a fight. "Big mistake."

They attempt to push the other's hands backward, but a stalemate ensues. They narrow their eyes and lock glares. Valen uses this moment to surprise Hilda with a few kisses on her lips. She instantly returns the favor and he gets pressed into the sofa.

"Seriously, this is Gigantamax level of sweetness." Melanie flicks both of their heads. "Would you like to end your silence, Ragnar?"

"Nope, destiny decided that I should be in the background this time."
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Chapter 12 New


Pokémon Trainer
Chapter 12: Loveth Thee, Sweet Ladies

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

Tick tock.

That antique clock is the most prominent noise in the master bedroom. The domestic tranquility would normally be pleasant for Valen, even though the rays of sunshine aren't present. Alas, working on the presentation has been akin to taming a Gyarados. He could really use those two angels right about now, but they've got their own tasks at hand.

All he's certain about is that the presentation is going to be about a painting housed at the Calvanian Museum of Art. Assuming he's proficient enough to pull this first one off, he'll consider presenting a few of his essays down the line. Maybe even one on an ancient artifact or a sculpture.

He hopes to compile the essays into books, but he's holding off on sending anything to the publisher. He's proud of his essays, he's proud of his two completed books on the art history field and significant art history literature, but the clouds need to float away. He'll admit that he wrote those books little by little to test himself in a fun manner.

Anyways, back to the...multiple presentations he's made due to indecisiveness. They were also fun...really fun…why does making this decision have to be so hard?

"Should I go with or Elias Greco or Sir Patrick Peter Rubens?" Valen stares at his laptop's screen, his finger rubbing on the touchpad as he scrolls through his essays and presentations. "But there's also Caravaggio, Vermeer, Constable, Munch, Gainsborough, Hokusai…it's a tough crowd."

The 1/4th scale replica of Gianluigi Bernini's Salamence Atop a Rock seems to be calling out to him. The smooth, drapery like finish and the battle pose brings the mighty dragon to life. Sculpture would be much easier—he'd go with Bernini. He'd still want to do a presentation on painting, though.

Next to him is a book on Titian and the painting school in Altomare City during the 1400s and 1500s. He needs a break from this draft, so he'll casually flip through this.

His fingers rub against the textured surface of the pages, his eyes locking onto each photograph. This detailed analysis is one that everybody can read will equal enjoyment. It was his introduction to Altomarian Renaissance painting many years ago, courtesy of a late family friend who was an expert on the subject.

Titian is another good choice…but will the audience be a tough crowd too? He's not worried about the scholars—they've shown him nothing but respect. They've even praised his knowledge. But will others speak ill of him in secret? What if he flops and becomes a laughingstock? These aren't the loyal fans of-

"Are you okay, Val-Val?"

When did Hilda get here? Not that it really matters—look at her gentle eyes. It's like a blanket's been thrown on top of him, and the feeling gets stronger as she approaches him.

Hilda loosely holds her hands behind her back. "I saw that you looked stressed, can I come in?"

"Of course, you don't need to ask." He pats the bed and points towards the desk. "That's why there's three chairs now."

"I can see that, silly." Hilda cradles his head in her arms and presses her lips up against the top. "More importantly, I have to get that big precious smile back onto your face."

His hands rest on her back and his body goes limp. The soothing contentment evicts the tension from his mind. This weightless tranquility could make him fall asleep in her arms but he probably shouldn't when it's past noon.

"Don't forget to picture your dreams when the going gets rough." She caresses his right cheek. "And leave each day to the fullest."

That's always been solid advice but he hopes that Hilda's following it too. He's starting to suspect that her ambitious nature might have gone a little too far with such a big project. Not only that...is she really thinking about stepping away from the BW Agency for good? He trusts her but adjustment after such a drastic change can be difficult.

A second set of arms are now wrapped around his midsection. The soft tingle of Rosa's lips on his lips increases the endothermic atmosphere that blankets him.

"Hi sweetie," Rosa whispers in a lullaby-like tone. "Please try to relax, kay?"

"…Alright…I'm just really…uncertain…what if it goes poorly?" His voice slightly cracks. "I don't even understand why doubt keeps afflicting me."

"Don't forget what Ragnar said—you can always use your platform to spread more of your art and history knowledge." Hilda caresses his right cheek. "That way, you don't have to stress over the scholarly field." She kisses the back of his head. "Melanie, Rosa, and I are worried about you, so we had a video call with Ragnar prior."

"Hilda's got a point—it'd be a good combination of smarts and style." Rosa winks and caresses his forehead. "I think it would also contribute to your desire to set a good example."

"That she does," Valen remarks. "The best historians can be in museums, in academia, or people who simply have strong passion for a subject."

"Or both!" Rosa jumps up with a fist raised above her head. "Anybody can be a historian with lots and lots and lots and lots of knowledge!"

"Become an Eeveetuber like us, Val-Val!" Hilda folds her palms next to her right cheek. "You could have people within the field as guests and you could do book talk!"

Rosa rests her left fingertips on her forehead and places her right hand on her hip. "And you can tell everybody how amazing of am artist I am." she giggles. "Which you've done a thousand times over!"

"…Heh, you two never cease to brighten up my day."

Gardevoir has let herself into the room to check up on him. She floats towards him and gives him a peck on the top of his head. Luxray strolls into the room and sits by his feet, purring when the pets are delivered. He nods to Rosa and Hilda, who join Valen in petting him.

Hilda's Umbreon and Rosa's Serperior enters the room, desiring to repay Valen on behalf of their respective teammates. Umbreon closes her eyes and kisses Luxray's cheek, making him blush while she begins to lick Valen's hand. Serperior nuzzles her face against his chest, but quickly makes room for Valen's Typhlosion. She licks his face and receives her pets.

Gengar pops in from the walls and waddles halfway towards Valen, but then he vanishes for a brief moment. He flops onto the ground on his back, rolls back up, and lets out a nonchalant cry. Yay, he made everybody laugh!

Satisfied with the outcome, the Pokémon make their way out of the room. Gardevoir's the last to leave, and she closes the door behind her.

Not even a minute later, Rosa and Hilda yank Valen back. All he can do is stare in confusion, for they are too powerful.

"Noooow, let's help him out!"

"Hehe, we'll use Helping Hand!"

Rosa narrows her eyes as she scrolls through the thumbnail list. "Which one is your most evocative essay, sweetie?" She points with her right index finger and sticks her thumb sticking out. "Interesting, very interesting." Silly her, she's called all of his essays evocative.

"Heeeeey, how about this one?!" Hilda high fives Rosa with both hands. "Focus your presentation on this painting!"

"A fine suggestion from two fine ladies." He blocks their double bop attempt. "I'm just stating the facts."

Commissioned at a time when classical antiquity witnessed a rebirth like a Talonflame phoenix in Kasmenestian mythology, Titian's Ceasefire is a Renaissance classic that can strike anybody in the feels.

The philosopher Critias urges the armies of Syramos and Cyralia to ponder the folly of their actions, resulting in a Pangoro and an Obstagoon embracing each other. Their trainers, both generals, have put down their weapons. They command their respective squadrons to do the same, to which they comply.

A few soldiers and their Pokémon glare at the great philosopher with hostility, but Critias is under the protection of Champion Kratos and a squadron of his most elite warriors. Two Cyralian soldiers make the mistake of trying to find the champion, but his Machamp and him kick them into the river. It wasn't the ideal method for Critias, but he was determined to stop the Pelennessian War for good.

His admiration for Titian Vercelli can never be understated—his beauteous application of color and his vivid, lifelike drama has left entire crowds in silent awe. All of the Titian paintings in the museum are photographed in that book, each one having called the museum home since the early 1800s. A presentation on one could allow him to talk about the museum's history and his family's history—the great-grandfather of Claude Beauchêne was the purchaser.

"Hehe, Val-Val's deep in thought!"

"Alright, I'm going with this Titian painting for the presentation." He gives them a thumbs up. "I'm feeling a lot better now."

Rosa and Hilda happily gasp. "We successfully helped him!" They lock hands and jump around. "We did it! We did it! We did it! We did it!"

"Balls of fluff." he laughs. "I'm gonna get this done today, watch me."

"Heeeeey, that's the spirit!"

"You can even squeeze in Jaeger Zoffany's Gathering at the Museum!" Rosa's eyes sparkle like the emerald attached to her necklace. "And A Shared Home, the Raphael painting with the vibe that Titian was trying to channel!" Her elbows bent and her fists tightened. "I'm going to pull one up!"

"Good idea!" Hilda jumps with her palms folded in front of her right shoulder. "I wanna analyze too!"

Rosa sneaks in-between the laptop and him to pull up the essay on Raphael. Well, the one containing a photo of A Shared Home He always puts high-resolution photos in these essays.

Kyogre and Groudon are staring at each other with sorrowful expressions. Kyogre's mouth is open, as if it's asking Groudon why they're fighting in the first place. Rayquaza observes them in the distance, confused by their sudden ceasefire. Trees have toppled over and pulled out into the raging ocean, which nearly swallowed up a landmass. Another landmass has a river clinging for dear life.

He expected her to pull up both of the paintings she just mentioned—the work she's dubbed "painting inception" is her favorite painting from a Zieglerian artist. Well, her favorite alongside the works of Friedrich, Dürer, and Altdorfer.

Oh, she did pull that one up. It's a truly impressive work, for the artist had to try and replicate paintings by Raphael, Titian, Botticelli, and other artists for for this piece. Not to mention the sculptures. There's a crowd of fancy men and woman chatting and eyeing the works.

"The more you analyze, the more you'll realize that you're so awesomeeee!" Rosa twirls. "I'm going out for a walk and I want to see if any of my works have sold!" She high fives Hilda and blows a kiss at Valen. "I'm sure that I'm in for a treat!" She waves and trots out of the room.

Did…he…just…did Rosa's smile falter for a brief second? Did she shake it off? Or is he just seeing things?

"Please don't worry about me, kay sweetie?" Rosa's rich voice is a soothing orchestra. "We want you to be happy."

She blows another kiss at him, then she reaches the stairs in the blink of an eye.

Rosa did make a good point about analyzing, but he'll get back to that. Hilda directing's a worried look his way. They don't need to say what's on their synchronized minds—Rosa's been having trouble with attracting buyers for her own works. She's managed to maintain her usual personality, but how long will it last?

"Worrying won't help—we have to be optimistic, Val-Val."

"I agree…sorry for-"

"Don't apologize when you make us feel like the most special people on the planet."

Hilda wraps her arms around his neck, while he plays with her hair and rubs her back. It's not long before they began kissing at a slow and steady pace.

Val-Val's a very lucky boy. After Rosa agreed to a vee, Valen dropped line like on her. His rough patch from not that long ago meant that it took longer to make it official, but it had a happy ending.

Rosa scrolls through her emails via her phone, but she's having trouble keeping a smile on her face. The paintings she sent to Sinnoh and Hoenn…haven't sold…how can she consider prints if originals won't sell? This can't keep happening…she worked hard to get where she is.

The last thing she wants is for her usual self to be absent, but the doubt that was eating Valen's mind has started to rear its ugly head again. Come on, at least one of her paintings had to have sold in Kalos by now. Come on…come on…nothing.…so much for her excitement. Now she know how Victor van Gogh felt when nobody was buying his paintings.

"Guess I didn't have it all figured out after all."

Rosa lets out a heavy sigh and slouches on one of the three sofas. Her melancholic gaze unable to move away from her phone, which rests on the a rosewood table with floral and Vileplume marquetry. She would be elated about this new addition but...this is the fourth time she's lucked out.

Why does nobody seem to be interested them? Is she painting the wrong subjects? Is she not as good as she thinks she is? Is she losing popularity? She'll always be a trainer, but do people prefer that a lot more?

When should something remain solely a hobby? At what point should somebody reconsider their ambitions? She loves painting and won't stop, but maybe it's better left as a pastime. Maybe it would be better if she sticks to an emphasis on being a trainer…and an actress. She might have better luck as an actress.

Her attention turns towards the vases she painted. She should be proud that they're displayed next to a beautiful replica of ancient ceramics and Bernini's The Anguish of King AZ...but maybe she should move them. ...No...she can't hurt him too...he put those vases there because he's proud of her.

If only she had come to her senses a bit earlier, then maybe this wouldn't have-

"It's my turn to help you."

Rosa jerks her head upwards, her surprised gaze fixated upon Valen. She was so preoccupied that she didn't even notice him, but he's got his arms wrapped around her. She closes her eyes and rests her head on her chest. The stroking of her bangs assists in the mission to stop the train of tension, as does the warm emitting from his body.

"Rosa, my sweet Rosa.~" His tone's smooth and pleasant. "Tell me, what are you fretting for? Isn't life worth so much more?~" He kisses her on the lips. "We'll always have each other.~"

His sonorous voice is a piano melody to Rosa's mind and heart. He's truly something else.

Serperior appears and nuzzles Rosa's left side, while Luxray swoops in rubs his body against Rosa's right leg. Gardevoir pops up behind the sofa and caresses the top of her head.

Valen rubs Rosa's head and takes a seat next to her. She strokes her Serperior's back and the placid serpentine rests her head on her trainer's lap. After a few minutes, the three Pokémon exit the living room. Not before they nod in encouragement.

"Rosa, talk to me." He takes off his Team Skull jacket. "I've got all the time in the world." He drapes his jacket over the sofa's headrest.

"Well…the most recent paintings I intended for sale went to Sinnoh, Hoenn and Kalos…but they aren't selling." She sighs and her posture sags. "I guess I haven't had a huge break abroad yet…despite the frescos in Johto and here."

"Don't give up, I know you'll reach the top of the mountain." Valen rubs her head again, feeling fuzzy upon seeing a smile on her face. "We'll be right there every step of the way."

She rests her head on his exposed right shoulder, her hands pressing in his gunmetal black shirt. "Thanks…it's not like I didn't expect this…but I underestimated how hard it can be." Rosa rocks her feet back and forth. "It's just super frustrating, you know?" Her left hand's slumped against the sofa's cushion. "I put my heart and soul into my work…and yet this keeps happening outside of Unova, Calvana, and Johto."

"Think about what you've accomplished instead of dwelling about where you're falling short in." He holds her hand and kisses it. "Never forget that you've positively impacted countless lives."

"I needed that." Rosa kisses him on the lips. "I'll bounce back soon enough."

She can't carry a defeatist attitude—that's not who she is. Raphael, Leonardo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Holbein, name the Old Master and you'll find that they all had to start somewhere.

Rosa's eyes follow the ornante, pearly white patterns on the black walls. She isn't sure about what to talk about now, but maybe they don't need to. Sometimes, she just want to sit there in silence and bask in love of her special someone.

"Hey…uh…I have a question." Valen's still a bit irresolute—he's rarely seen her down in relation to painting. "Have you considered painting in a style akin to Monet?" he asks. "You haven't experimented with Impressionism in a while."

"I'll have to practice more if I want to paint like the Impressionists," she admits with a tight-lipped smile. "I've made a few attempts but they came out…less than stellar."

…Less than stellar? The overall style of her attempts wasn't that far off from the quick, thick strokes of the Impressionists. Should he say anything, though? What if he makes a second blunder?

He truly means what he says…but is it really the same if he praises her? As opposed to a total stranger praising her?

Rosa's seen enough—she's not going to let him beat himself up. "It's okay, sweetie." She places a hand on the back of his head. "I promise that I won't get upset or mad—I know you're trying to change the subject for my sake."

"…Heh, read me like a book." Valen takes a hard, deep breath. "I don't think your attempts were bad at all." He caresses her left shoulder. "You're a great painter—not many people can replicate the raw power of a Caravaggio," he reassures. "You've got a natural gift for art."

Rosa's eyes light up like the sparkling ocean under the moon's illumination. "You're still sweet." She caresses his cheeks. "I'd love to try my hand at Impressionist art again—you know I've loved trying my hand at new medium and styles for years."

"How about Jean-Jacques David or Émile Delacroix?" he asks. "I recall you having an unfinished work in the former's style."

"Ooooh, my favorite Kalosian painters alongside Poussin!" Rosa clasps her hand near her right cheek. "And you're right, I need to finish that! Thankies!"


"Thankies thankies thankies!" She gets up and does a twirl. "Roooosa's back!" She sits down on his lap. "Grrrr, feel Rosa's power!" She taps both of his cheeks. "Roar, Fury Attack!"

"Ball of fluff."

"Wherever Rosa goes, smiles follow!"

Valey tends to have great suggestions, but he still has issues with remembering that she wants to hear his two cents. He'll keep improving, there's no doubt about it. He's on the right track with those two artists—Classicism and Romanticism are among her main painting styles. No disrespect to the Impressionists intended—Caldre Monet's paintings of Unova are among her favorites depicting her home region.

She can't match the Old Masters, but she studied everybody from Caravaggio to Holbein extensively to hone her own skills. And like many lovers of art, she's been left in awe of their talent numerous times.

"I've got one more thing to say." Valen rubs the back of his head. "I…uh…know it's kinda moot to say this…but you'll always have me as a fan—"

"Moot?" Rosa closes her eyes and giggles. "Were you not paying attention to your own words?"

"I'm not that big of an idiot," Valen quips and taps her forehead. "It's just that…isn't that something you expect from me?"

Rosa wags a finger. "Tsk tsk tsk, don't underestimate yourself." Her eyes gleam and she leans closer with a teasing smile. "Since when is being my most loyal fan moot?"

This just got even more awkward for him. "Uh…but…I always say-"

"Moot!" Rosa's cheeks puff out as she tries to contain her laughter, but it's to no avail. "The praise I cherish the most in this world is now moot?!" She kneels down, clenching her ribs. "This is too funny, I can't wait to tell Hilda about this!"

Valen hides his face his hands, but Rosa wraps an arm arounds his neck and pulls him down with her. It doesn't help that Gardevoir, Serperior, and Luxray have erupted into laughter too.

"You're such a lovable idiot!"

Valen sighs and rubs a hand down his face. Gardevoir and Serperior's cackling doesn't help out one bit, but he can't argue with the idiot part. At least he's their idiot, plus the extra hugs and kisses are worth it. Not that he's cute or anything like that, that's still a false hypothesis.

"Nooooow, I'll get lucky this time!"

Rosa grabs her phone like a space shuttle taking off. Ooooh, she's got new emails. Open the app, hurry hurry hurry!

She happily gasps, her eyes gleaming and her grin growing as she reads the emails.

"Valey! Valey Valey Valey Valey!" She jumps up and down. "Prints of my Kalosian landscape paintings are selling!" She yanks him off of the sofa and makes him twirl with her. "Go, go, go, go Roooosa!"

Valen rapidly blinks, his dumbfounded expression becoming more apparent by the second. He's proud of her but why does he have to twirl too?

"This dream will last forever, this dream will never die!" Another twirl with her sweetie. "We'll rise to the challenge every time!"

"Why do I-"

"We'll be the best that the world's ever seen, cuz we'll always follow our dreams!"


His lips tingle from the soft, soothing touch of her kiss. He rapidly blinks again, but then he shrugs. This causes Rosa playfully bring him down onto the sofa with her. He places his hands on the back of her head and the middle of her back. He brings her closer, so close that her nose bops his cheek. The living room's filled up with their shared chortle.

They resume kissing and the world around them seems to halt itself. They savor each one like a precious treasure. It's a treasure more valuable than lapis lazuli—ultramarine was more valuable than gold during the Renaissance.

"Thank you for always being there." Rosa interweaves her fingers with Valen's fingers. "You kept your promise."

He pulls her back in for a tight embrace. "I'm still a man of my word."

Rosa wraps her arms around his neck. "You truly are." Her smile grows wider as he caresses her back.

Said promise to her is something that's been engraved within her heart for years: "I'll do anything to show you you're special."

She didn't know what to do about romance after that unfaithful grifter. Her heart had been shattered and she felt herself falling into the abyss. All was dark…until she felt the warmth she's feeling right now. He kneeled down and put her heart back together. He pulled her out of that abyss and held her as she cried her eyes out. He dropped everything to be by her side at her lowest point.

Valen thought she'd be angry at him for suspecting that she was seeing someone unfaithful, but how could she ever be mad at him? He's not the one who hurt her—he literally wanted to wait for her due to her confused state.

She fully trusted him since they were kids—that's why she was okay with a vee. Why would she hurt them by saying no?

"I still theorize that Arceus sent you from the sky." He winks and clicks a tooth. "You're a goddess in my eyes."

"Must you always steal my heart ten times over?"

"You knew what you were getting yourself into."

"Fine, I'll concede this one."

Unbeknownst to them, Hilda's been listening in from the hallway. Val-Val does what he can to show her that she's special too. Rosa was very understanding when she disclosed her own feelings—it was bound to happen. So much he's done for her, so sweet he's been to her from the start.

"Hilda, get your butt in here."

"What Rosa said, I want both my goddesses here."

Hehe, they got her! She leaps towards the and sits on Valen's right side. Time to relax with her beloved boy and bestest bestie!

Finding a good location hasn't been easy, much less trying to figure out who to have as Frontier Brains, but the tender moment going on behind this wall is soothing her mind too. The park and Battle Frontier could go either way but at least she can say that he tried. More importantly, the outcome will factor into her decision to step away from the agency.

"When you need me, I'll be there for my sweet ladies!~"

"And we'll be there for our special boy!" Rosa and Hilda raise their fists. "Go go go, smiling Valen!"

There are times where one needs a change of scenery—that's why Valen's in the backyard. The Pokémon go about their business while he relaxes in one of the patio's contour chair.

He fist bumps Golisopod and follows it up with a handshake. Satisfied, the arthropod makes room for the flying puppy. Salamence's grinning open hangs open as he nudges Valen. When he gets his pets, Salamence also closes his eyes.

Back to reading Pietro Vasari's Lives of the Great Artists, the forefather of all art history literature.

It is said that Xerneas gifts artists the ability to depict the beauty of life through art. On the other end of this vast sea is Yveltal, who guides artists in presenting the horrors of the world through art. Perhaps, then, Raphael Sadoletto da Urbina is a perfect representation of these Pokémon. For it is he, that I believe, is most proficient at presenting the beauty of this world and the calamities that have ravaged it. Perhaps his greatest triumph iss narrowing the distance between us and the mighty Legendary Pokémon by applying a humanistic approach. This is why in his paintings, these beings present a multitude of emotions that we experience ourselves.

Rosa and Hilda strut into the backward with ample amounts of lively grandeur. Rosa's a rocket ship taking off, which isn't uncommon but there's something different about this one. It's like the merciless twirling she made him do earlier.

"Valey sweetie, two more paintings sold!" Rosa tilts her head back. "Now I've had words sold in both Kalos and Hoenn!" She closes her eyes and positions her palms under her chin. "Kyaaaaaaaaa, this is so awesomeeeee!"

"Hehe, Lisia has a way with words!"

Rosa repeatedly moves from side to side while extending her arms in and out. "Go, go go, go Rosa! You're the winner! You're awesome and you're the winner!"

Acting on his fanboy instincts, Valen jumps out of the chair. He slaps his mouth shut before he can blurt anything out. Rosa and Hilda laugh and pull his cheeks, but they halt when they notice that he's gotten them presents.

"Oooooh, what'd you-"

Silence. That's all Rosa can muster. Her hands tremble as she gently picks up her gift off of the table. It's a print of Sir Arnold van Dyck's Portrait of Champion Rosalina Vervloet.

The smirking lady's staring deep into her soul with her commanding eyes. Underneath her black coat is an elegant gown with a gold bodice over it. She's sitting upright on a lavishly decorated chair with twisted columns, her Sylveon and Talonflame sitting to the right and left respectively.

She places it back on the table, planning to display it in her studio. There wasn't any rush to get this one—a large scale photo of it lies within a giant monograph on the artist. Of course, Valey can't help himself when it comes to being a sweetheart.

"No way, it's the new Eevee Rangers video game!" Hilda hops up and down with her palms folded. "This has been sold out everywhere I checked!"

"Apparently not in Alola."

They kiss his cheeks. "Thank you!"

"Anytime, my queens."

"We've got presents for you too, courtesy of Kris!" One by one, Rosa rapidly places the Hiroshige prints on the table. She got everybody gifts from Little Johto!"

The trio check up on the Pokémon, the first sight being Gengar and Starmie poking each other. Volcarona, Eelektross, Serperior, and Golisopod are taking a nap close by.

Hilda's Emboar and Beartic thank Valen's Gengar for letting them watch Unovan football on his portable television. Emboar adds that Beartic's a fool because his team's going to win, but Beartic brushes this off as Grimer talk.

Umbreon tucks her blushing face in-between her front legs, using the weird bickering between her teammate as cover. She shouldn't be so shy when she's gotten to kiss her crush, but Luxray's so majestic and handsome. Upon seeing Luxray pushing of box of cupcakes in her direction, Umbreon flips the script and begins to jump around. Luxray wants to feed her cupcakes again, it's a dream come too! Kyaaaaa!

Luxray picks up a cupcake and brings it to her. She happily munches on it, desiring more of these yummy treats.

Salamence tilts his head back, wishing he had the sunglasses and fedora from the musical. Him and his dragon bros got to bring them home as presents but he forget to wear them to look fancy for Milotic- BALL! Valen threw ball! BALL! Milotic's cheering him on! And ball! BALL!

Salamence flies around in a circle, nearly knocking down Hilda's Braviary and Rosa's Aerodactyl. Salamence's eyes are closed and mouth's fully open but where is ball?! WHERE IS BALL?! VALEN THREW BALL! WHERE IS BALL? WHERE IS BALL?!

After further engaging in the behavior that earned him the nickname "flying puppy," Salamence finally finds the elusive bouncy ball and rushes to bring it back to Valen.

He gets his pets and Valen throws two balls, causing Typhlosion and Luxray to go equally berserk. Typhlosion runs on all fours in random directions, while Luxray apparently thinks his tail is the ball. Eventually, they grab the bouncy balls with their mouths. They runs towards Valen as Salamence congratulates them, but Luxray's blushing over the tail fighting.

Since Valen's trying to pet three Pokémon at once, it's Rosa and Hilda's turn. They twirl and throw the bouncy balls, resulting in Hydreigon and Garchomp having the same expression as Salamence. Hydreigon even does his happy dance, wildly swinging his heads around. Garchomp tries to do his own happy dance, but he trips and faceplants the lush grass.

Garchomp jumps back up because one does not simply ignore the ball. Hydreigon and Garchomp grab the bouncy balls with their mouths and bring them back. Their rewards are pets and congrats from Salamence.

Milotic whispers "like trainer, like Pokémon" and Salamence nods in response. She snuggles up to Salamence and plops a kiss on his cheek. There's more to this dashing dragon than meets the eye—he once told her that he'll always be there for his sweet lady.

Luxray simply shuts his eyes and broods, for he is a proud feline who acted on instinct. Yeah yeah yeah, Eelektross is a Trubbish at puns and Volcarona is delusional. He's not a cute kitten anymore, so get with the times. Good, the Pokémon are now roasting Garchomp for tripping. Valen just placed a radio near him and gave him some pets. Now he can brood to a cool instrumental. His pride got cut into pieces, he's not a kitten anymore.

Hilda's Braviary sits and nudges Hilda with his head. He happily cries when the pets are given. Determined to not be bested in the petting battle, Rosa's Aerodactyl does the same thing. By this point, the other Pokémon have gathered around Luxray and are roasting him for chasing his tail.

"They're all Growlithe puppies and Shinx kittens." Valen laughs. "Luxray's no exception."

"They're all cuties like our favorite boy!" Rosa pats Valen's head. "Cutie cutie cutie!"

"Hehe, Hilda told me about earlier!" Hilda drums on Valen's head. "Silly Val-Val!"

The notion that he's cute remains a false hypothesis, but he'll let it slide. It's something that makes them even more cheery than they already are, which makes the Pokémon happier. It's the most wholesome cycle ever.

As for earlier, he'll just have to try his best. …No, he's got this in the bag. He'll hit a home run with that presentation.

Sir Anthony Van Dyck was a student of Sir Peter Paul Rubens. He became court painter in England in 1632. His portraits are his most well known works, but he also painted religious and mythological scenes.
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Chapter 13 New


Pokémon Trainer
I want to reiterate this: the lack of nicknames are due to me having a big cast. Trying to keep track of a bunch of nicknames could be difficult and confusing.

Chapter 13: Can't Keep Hilda Down!

Outside of the Gothic Revival neighborhood that Valen, Rosa, and Hilda reside in, there's giant stretch of road that looks more like the countryside. A spacious, grassy battlefield occupies the location, surrounded by vibrant parks and winding dirt trails. The cool breeze is a conductor that directs the foliage to perform a synchronized dance.

Sometimes, one needs to surround themselves with the beauty of nature. That would be Valen's answer if asked. It's here where he's watching a battle between Rosa and Hilda with his Typhlosion. Also, gotta love how humans have been figuring out ways to accommodate battling since the days of the earliest civilizations.

Jacques and his Metagross are here too, but the latter seems surprised by Rosa's Eelektross using Flamethrower. It's been a while since the last time Metagross saw the move being utilized, but it must've been even longer that he thought. In any case, the surprised reaction is amusing to Melanie's Pyroar.

There's a Pokémon Center that looks more like a cathedral and a few businesses for travelers to pick up supplies and grab a bite to eat. A trip through here will lead you out of Angel City and into the lush plains that lie outside the Enchanted Woods. Fittingly, that tranquil but odd habitat is where a certain shy Ralts came from. Said Ralts eventually became the Gardevoir that takes care of him like she's a surrogate mother or a big sis. Melanie dubbed her a "pseudo-yandere" when she was a Kirlia.

He should've known that a forehead flick was coming. He gotta focus on the battle before the balls of fluff briefly pause it to bop him. What a horrifying mental image that is.

Hilda's Umbreon ducks to avoid another stream of swirling white flames. Eelektross keeps trying to land a hit, but Umbreon leaps and flips to avoid several more Flamethrower attacks.

Umbreon teases that Eelektross' attacks are weaker than her puns, but Eelektross jokes that Luxray watching with her would be a jolt for Umbreon.

"You won't get lucky again!" Rosa swings her right hand behind her shoulder. "Use Discharge!"

Vibrant, white static electricity flows in from Eelektross' mouth down to the tip of her tail. The electricity bursts into a large current that careens in all directions. Umbreon's enveloped by the electricity, causing her to shut her eyes and clench her teeth.

"Quick Attack!"

Umbreon charges in at a high velocity, a trail of white energy forming behind her. She slams herself into Eelektross, who wobbles for a few seconds.

It's not the most effective attack, but it'll buy her and her trainer just enough time for a stronger attack or two.

"Throat Chop!"

Umbreon's front paws glow purple and she jabs Eelektross twice. Eelektross shakes it off, her eyes catching a glimpse of Rosa's faint smirk.


Umbreon's eyes glow the color of her ring, a and a massive black jaw appears around Eelektross. The jaw chomps down and Eelektross stumbles down due to the pressure.

"You won't escape this time." Rosa winks a wags a finger. "Flamethrower."

This swirling stream of white flames singes Umbreon as she prepares for another attack. If that wasn't enough, white flames encircle her and the infliction commences.

Umbreon kneels halfway and grits her teeth. Seconds later, her prideful howl echoes like the cry of Noctowl at night.

"I love battling so much, Rosa!"

"Tee-hee, me too!"

Umbreon and Eelektross reaffirm their trainer's words with excited cries.

Things seem to be looking up, Valen thinks. The other day was rather rough, with both Rosa and him having serious doubts about the path ahead. It's not gone yet, but it's improving.

At least, it's improving for them. He doesn't want to risk making a blunder that hurts anyone, but should he do something about the self-doubt that Hilda may be going through.

"Aieeeeeeee, how'd she beat me?!"

"Cuz I'm Rooooosa!"

Oops, he got lost in his train of thought again. Chill out, everything's gonna be alright. They always pull themselves out of a rut.

Umbreon sighs, grateful that her handsome crush wasn't here to see this. She smiles when Eelektross helps her to stand up. They thank each other for a good battle, then their trainers recall them.

"Thanks for helping to distract me—I think I got too ambitious," she admits. "Lisia's coming over later to help re-evaluate."

"I can relate." Rosa sits down on the bench and rubs the back of her head. "Sometimes, I wonder if I'm too ambitious myself."

"You're more realistic than me, Rosa." Hilda sheepishly smiles. "I constantly have to bring myself back to reality."

"I don't know about that—can I even make it into the same ballpark as the Old Masters?"

Valen lets out a relaxed gasp as he sits next to Rosa. "I think that all three titans of the High Renaissance would praise your talents as a painter."

The bright bulbs in Rosa's eyes flicker on. Whenever she hears statements like this from him, it always carries a mixture of sincerity and affection that cloaks her in a warm blanket. The firmness in his voice emits authority like he's a veteran in the field.

"Michelangelo would be impressed by your ability to paint his sculptures. Leonardo would be amazed that his writings are being used as a guide five centuries later." There's her precious smile—she knows who's next. "And Raphael, the artist that first pulled you deep into the world of art?" He closes his eyes and rubs her head. "Heh, Raphael would leap at the chance to immortalize such a beautiful woman in portraiture."

Rosa blushes and playfully waves a hand. "Lovable idiot, we agreed that Titian should be the fourth titan." She leans in to kiss him on the laps. "Thank you, sweetie."

"Anytime," he affirms. "Titian would also jump at the chance to paint your portrait."

"Heeeeey, don't forget me!" Hilda bends forward so close that her chin touches his chin. "Do one for me too!"

Valen's eyes widen and he faintly yelps. He's able to regain his cool but he still needs to take a deep breath. That was a close one.

"This is the true story of Hilda White, the unorthodox but highly talented entrepreneur." Valen sounds like he's narrating a documentary. "A stunner with skills and spunk, she never gave up in her climb to the top."

"Hehe, I don't think you can make a documentary about either of us without your bias showing."

"Do I care?" He points towards the Team Skull logo on his gunmetal shirt. "I'm a bad boy, remember?"

Rosa's eyes sparkle as she clasps her hands. "Tee-hee, you're so cool!"

Melanie continue to remain quiet with Jacques, but they watch the trio be silly and wholesome with amused expressions. Their Pokémon discussing something about the trio or they're teasing each other. All she knows is that they're smiling and that's all she needs to know.

"I wanna battle more!" Hilda jumps with her palms folded next to her grin. "More more more more!"

"One thing at a time, silly Hilda!" Rosa giggles while wagging a finger. "You don't want to lose again!"

"Girl please, I let you win." She playfully winks. "You've been slacking off."

"Nooooooooo, you're just saltier than the ocean."

While Rosa and Hilda tease each other, a spark flickers inside of Valen's mind. He should go one step further with his magnanimity—it's the least he can do.

"Do you think they'll noticed if I sneak away to get them flowers?" Valen whispers to Melanie, Jacques, and the Pokémon. "A flower shop's not that far from here."

Melanie flicks his cheek and winks. "We'll cover for you, but check out your Typhlosion's answer."

Typhlosion's panting like a puppy…she wants a belly rub? It's been a while since she's wanted one, but she's a good girl. He kneels downs and gives Typhlosion her desired gesture of affection. Typhlosion waddles her legs around and tries to lick his face.

"You're a good girl." He kisses the top of Typhlosion's head. "A very good girl who deserves a bouncy ball."

Typhlosion may be ferociously prideful and bear her fangs in battle, but looks can be deceiving. She's still the little Cyndaquil he received from Professor Elm as a kid.

Melanie surprises him with a kiss to the back of the head, followed by a warm shoulder and back massage. She then jumps onto his back and slides her arms around his neck. "That was for being the sweetest guy ever," she whispers. "That noggin of yours is the world's most wholesome encyclopedia."

Right when Melanie lets go, Salamence pops out of his ball. He's got a big doofy grin, but…he does know he's a little too big for belly rubs…right?

Apparently not, because he rolls onto his back. An awkward silence befalls the area, minus the faint laughter of Rosa and Hilda. It doesn't take for Salamence to frantically wobble his legs and roars like he just made a fool of himself himself in front of his Milotic girlfriend. The flying puppy's face reddens when Pyroar, Typhlosion and Charizard start to crack up.

"When I daydreamed about a Salamence as a kid, belly rubs weren't a part of it." Valen shrugs with a loving smile. "But a good boy is a good boy."

Valen bends down and kisses the top of Salamence's head. The tri-colored dragon affectionately roars and nuzzles his head into Valen's chest. He bends down and strokes Salamence's white underside. The return of the grin suggests that being stuck isn't so bad after all.

"Such a good boy you are," he coos. "But are you a very good boy? Are you a very good big scary dragon?" he laughs. "Yes you are, you deserve the bouncy ball later today."

As expected, Salamence happily cries out. There's plenty of footage showing the silly dragon flying around in random directions upon seeing the ball.

Rosa exits the large bathroom on the second floor, disposing the gloves she wore on the way out. Her apron's taking a nap in the laundry basket. Two paintings have dried, and a third one was just finished.

The other day, she was doubting herself. That doubt lingered up to earlier today, but she was rocking it like a boss! It's sooo obvious that sunlight passing through the windows to illuminate her cute smile and gorgeous appearance! She trots up the staircase that leads to her studio, confident that Hilda's going to accept that she's the true Unovan queen. How'd she do it? Why'd she do it? Why is she so amazing? Cuz she's Roooooooooosa! Speaking of amazing, how about Portrait of Champion Rosalina Vervloet joining the other painting prints?

She's got to pass through Gengar's television room, but the good boy doesn't mind. In fact, he's watching Hilda and her high five each other with his grinning mouth hanging open. He's soooo cute!

"Twirl that brush, girl!" Hilda raises her fists up and down, her Umbreon trying to emulate with her paws. "Paint your way to victory!"

"Silly Hilda, I'm done for the time being!"

Hilda nods and wags a finger. "Oh no, you're never done."

Rosa sits down and crosses her legs. "And why not, hmmmmm?"

"Hehe!" Hilda tilts her head and places her fingers in front of her silly grin. "Because one day, your paintings will grace everywhere from Unova to Uttara Pushya through prints!"

"Tee-hee, good call!"

"Allow me to express my best wishes." Jacques bows. "One day, I hope to sculpt my own, original The Trainer."

"The marble speaks to you like the paint speaks to me!"

"That's correct."

Out of the corner of her eye, Melanie spots Valen trekking up the stairs with Gardevoir and Luxray. Rosa and Hilda already figured it out, or at least they suspected he was up to something generous. Upon seeing the two bouquets of red roses that he's holding, Rosa and Hilda shake their heads with affectionate smiles.

"Hi." Valen kisses their hands and hands them their red roses. "For you two."

Rosa and Hilda use Sweet Kiss on Valen and place their roses on a nearby desk. But there's one more.

Gardevoir hands Luxray the third bouquet of roses, which is contained in a box. She bows in encouragement and teleports away. Luxray gulps and begins to push the box towards Umbreon, who blushes and tucks her head in-between her front legs.

Umbreon takes a deep breath, then thanks Luxray with a kiss to the lips. She snuggles up to him and he kisses her forehead. Look at those silly humans gawking at them.

Rosa twirls to face Valen. "Bad booooooooy, look at my newest painting!" She yanks Valen's hand and pulls him closer. "I titled it Classical Romance!"

It seems that she painted this with the works of Jean-Jacques David, the leading Kalosian Neoclassicist painter, in mind. It's a rich, orderly composition with a touch of minimalism in it, a stark contrast to the extravagant decorative finish of the Rococo. The presentation is straightforward to convey a didactic scene.

A dashing young trainer kneels in front of his Gyarados with his eyes closed and the corners of his lips pointing north. He kisses the hand of a smitten princess, who waves her right hand in a playfully dismissive manner. The clothes consist of an elegant, flowing white gown and a exquisite blue waistcoat with a flower pattern near the opening exposing the vest. The Gyarados's gaze has locked onto a flritatously winking Milotic. The setting is a private, piazza-like space in front of a palace that proudly flaunts is simplified elegance.

"I even added a touch of Renaissance!" Rosa points toward a marble sculpture in the painting. "I'm especially proud of how this turned out!"

In between the palace and the lovebirds is Michelangelo's painfully gorgeous La Pietà di Yveltal, which was commissioned in 1499 and completed in 1500. Yveltal looks down at Xerneas with a pained gaze, the avian cradling the gazelle in his large wings. Xerneas' body is in a lying down pose with all four legs slumped backwards. There's a withered flower clenched in-between her teeth, and her face's contorted into an agonizing expression. The ground below the two figures is the desolate wasteland left by The Ultimate Weapon.

The marble marvel, the two main people, and the Salamence are joined together through an large imaginative triangle. The main light source is the sun itself, and the rays beam diagonally from right to left. This ensures the illumination of the main figures and the sculpture, the sunlight reflecting off of the latter.

"I included the sculpture in this painting because love's about the sad days too." Rosa rubs his right shoulder. "It was inspired by you."

"The beauty of art and love have been linked together in vibrant harmony." Valen wraps his arm around Rosa's waist and pulls her in. "That's my girl."

"Look at this one too!" Rosa points to Valen's right. "I woke up early to finish this one!"

"Ah, there's your take on Caravaggio's The Calling of Pokémon Battles," Valen remarks. "I was wondering what became of this."

One key difference is that instead of a dark tavern, Rosa's set this inside of the historic Opelucid Theatre, which dates back to the early 1700s. Like Caravaggio's work, the lighting is dim and dramatic, but there's no visible light source in this one. The main indicator of the setting lies behind the stern man pointing and his Luxray: Sculptures which prominently feature Reshiram and Zekrom.

The trainer being challenged sits at the other end of the table, and he's pointing to himself. He lifts up his musketeer hat, his furrowed brow an indicator immediate acceptance of this challenge. He's in the middle of standing up, revealing his ultramarine waistcoat. His Machamp makes eye contact with the hissing Luxray and cracks both sets of knuckles.

Two female trainers closest to Luxray's trainer lean forward and backwards respectively, exactly like the two guys in Caravaggio's work. Unlike her friend who's surprised by the man's boldness, the trainer leaning forward flutters her eyelids at the challenger, her gaze focused on the tan coat and waistcoat atop his vest. Two men in the back, one younger and one older, look on with amusement and disdain respectively.

"Soooooooooo, whatcha think?"

"Once again, that's my girl." He pats Rosa's read. ""It seems we got a bit of both suspense and romance here."

"Roar!" she twirls. "Good catch, Valey!"



"Why roar?"

"Because roar!" She jumps onto his back. "Rosa's not to be questioned!" She ferociously bops him with her feet. "Grrrr, feel Rosa's power!"

"I'm so scared, help meeeee."

"Tee-hee, you're soooo funny!" Rosa jumps off. "Sooooooooooooooooo, do you think I should get prints made?"

"Definitely, these two are amazing."

Hilda's cell phone suddenly dings and she takes a look. Her smile vanishes for a brief movement, but Rosa and Valen catch it. A knowing glance is exchanged between them—is what they've been suspecting to be true?

"Lisia's here, I'll go let her in." Hilda exits the studio. "Don't worry, I'm okay."

Her Umbreon senses something's not right. That smile looks a little forced. The other Pokémon and humans seem to have sensed it too. She better go join her trainer.

Seeing how Umbreon's concerned, Luxray decides to go with her to let Lisia inside. The steps creak as Lisia makes her way upstairs, but Luxray notes that her usual energy seems to be absent. When she appears in sight, her smile's not as sunny as it normally is.

Lisia's faint smile vanishes as she looks at the others. "Have you noticed it?" She asks with a worried frown. "I'm getting concerned about her."

Upon seeing his worried expression, Gardevoir gives Valen a peck on the head. She then caresses his cheek.

"The project might be starting to take a toll on Hilda." Valen scratches the back of his neck. "If so, it's starting to leak out."

"Not just that, sweetie." Rosa crosses her arms. "Nowadays, she wants to follow more in her dad's footsteps more. You know, pro circuit and all that."

"She's headstrong. maybe a little too headstrong." Jacques looks out the studio's coupled windows. "A project this big may truly be too ambitious for her."

"Problem is that she'd rather keep it to herself than risk upsetting those around her." Melanie sighs and places her hands on her hips. "But at least she's trying to work on that."

Lisia looks back at the group, then slowly makes her way down the staircase. She's been absent for a reason, and it's not solely due to idol work.

A tense silence between Hilda and Lisia is ongoing in the dining room, but it's not due to each other. There are times when reality is so blunt that it leads to such a blanketing feeling.

Insufficient space for many of her ideas, excessive expenses could arise, difficulty in getting others to invest in it, and no luck with potential Frontier Brains. Ambition got the better of then with this project, but nobody can say they didn't try. At least this revelation came to light before they was deep into it.

Hilda's not looking at any of the sketches or written plans. She's intentionally averting her gaze and focusing on the antique dining table. She was so excited to show Val-Val the plan and rides that day…now look what happened. She knew this was a longshot, but it flopped before she could even make any serious progress.

"Why don't we shift it?" Lisia halfheartedly smiles. "We can call it Pokétopia Park, but we can put the most focus on creating this region's own Battle Frontier."

Lisia's words don't match the aura of uncertainly she's emitting, but Hilda's not mad at her. Lisia's smile can't hide her own dissatisfaction, plus there's a glimmer of concern in her eyes. She's not just a partner, she's a bestie.

"I guess no amusement park rides, huh?" Hilda rocks her legs back and forth. "So much for Eevee Rangers having rides."

"I'm sorry, but it'll make space even harder to find." Lisia rests her left hand on Hilda's right shoulder. "I wish it didn't come to this, but we have to adapt."

"…You don't know about the Battle Frontier either, do you?" Hilda sighs and slowly gets up. "It's fine, you don't have to hide it."

"…It's more doable but…I do have serious doubts." Lisia solemnly closes her eyes. "Even this narrowed down idea might not come to pass."

Hilda doesn't want to believe it, but Lisia's right. In hindsight, she should've thought about it beforehand. If only she had Lisia's expertise in giant projects. If only she stopped to ask why such a grand idea wouldn't be feasible.

"Why don't you take a break?"


Slowly, Hilda rises from her chair. She begins her logy walk into the living room, her mind so preoccupied that she fails to notice his gunmetal gray shirt peeking out from the hallway.

Lisia lowers her head, questioning if what she did was the right thing to do. That'd why didn't really say anything about the park these last couple of days, but hiding it was wrong too. She has to make this up to Hilda somehow.

She got her knack for big projects from Uncle Wallace, somebody she strives to emulate. With an estimated net worth of several hundred million, to say Uncle Wallace's got more than enough resources to pull it off is an understatement. She could ask him to take over this project but that wouldn't guarantee it. He's also a cautious individual when it comes to business and investment.

Maybe when Uncle Wallace returns from Kalos, she can show more of Rosa's paintings to him? He's a heavyweight in the art world and he was impressed by that portrait of her that Rosa painted.

…What about Valen? If he does go through with starting an EeveeTube channel on art and history, she can promote it to wider audience. She's come to learn about his written works that he might publish. Maybe she could promote those too.

…When should she tell Valen that Uncle Wallace has seen a few of his performances before? Uncle Wallace is Hoenn's Magnifico—he's their Niccolaio de' Medici. News like that might make Rosa and him nervous.

Speaking of Valen, he's peeking out from the hallway. She'd understand if he was mad, but there's not a trace of anger coming from. As his face comes into her direct line of sight, the gentleness and concern on his face becomes clearer.

Lisia takes a prolonged, deep breath. "You heard everything?"

"Yeah." Valen paces himself towards the walnut dining table. "I think you need to take a break too."

"Sorry, I—"

He rests a hand on her left shoulder. "Not your fault, I'll take care of it."

Lisia nods. "Thanks, Valen."

Instead of a reply, Valen surprises Lisia by wrapping his right arm around her upper back. The tension that was building up in her flees, and a relaxing current takes its place. Guess she came to trust him just as quickly—this sensation's making her feel like she's known him personally for longer.

"Feels nice." Lisia places her left arm around his neck. "I needed another one of these."

"It's also a token of my gratitude—thanks for sticking by Hilda's side."

"And this is my thanks for opening up to me so quickly. I'm glad that you came to trust me so soon."

After letting go of each other, they exchange a fist bump. Jacques and Melanie appear behind Valen, taking a seat to Lisia's left and right respectively. Rosa's already in the living room, rubbing Hilda's shoulders to soothe her mind.

Valen nods and makes his way towards the living room. Umbreon and Luxray have already entered the room, and they're nodding in acknowledgement. Rosa's standing out of Hilda's line of sight. He gestures for Rosa to approach first and Rosa faintly smiles for a brief moment.

Hilda's gaze has darted towards a painting gifted to her family in 1967. It's just been passed down to her a month ago, and she wanted it on display across from the living room's hallway entrance.

"…Sorry grandpa, I got carried away."

Painted by the last surviving member of the Unovan Realism movement at ninety seven years old, It stars her grandfather and, his Arcanine in front of the newly opened PokéStar Studios. It was an ambitious project…like hers…but he pulled it off. So…did she let grandpa down? Did she hurt an eighty eight year old man by being an utter failure? What about those who believed in her…such as mom…dad…Val-Val…Rosa?

Hilda slumps down on the sofa, her hands covering her face. Maybe she should save face and step away from the agency-no. She rubs her hands down to her chin and onto her lap.

This isn't her.

Hilda Odelle White's anything but a failure. She doesn't go down without a fight. There's a silver lining somewhere. She just needs to find it so she can return to being herself.

…Pokémon Musical…right, she's already shown off what she's capable of. The park and Battle Frontier may be out of reach but Pokémon Musical is thriving on a global scale. Hip-hop, salsa, ballroom, name the type of dance and her concept's got it.

"It's going to be okay, Hilda."

Rosa's rubbing her shoulders, while Luxray and Umbreon rub their bodies against her legs. She didn't see them come into the living room, that's not normal for her.

"Sorry." Hilda's voice cracks with emotion. "I should've told all of you about my increasing doubt sooner."

"Nobody's going to be mad at you, Hilda." Rosa wraps her arms around Hilda's neck. "We're proud of you because you still tried your best."

"Indeed we are."

The ring of his voice is her ears causes her to smile. It's not long before Hilda feels herself pulled into his loving embrace. She wraps her arms around his midsection.

"It might not work out the way you wanted it to, but it's far from over." He kisses the top of her head. "Use those amazing skills of yours to find a solution—we know you can do it."

"…Thank you." She whimpers, gripping his gunmetal black shirt. "I love you…so much."

"Right back at you." He kisses her on the lips. "Hilda, sweet Hilda, tell me what are you fretting for?~" His tone's sonorous and melodious. "Isn't life worth so much more?~"

"We'll always have each other." Hilda lovingly stares into his eyes. "It's not just pretend—we'll always win in the end."

Hilda's now a bit more grateful that this revelation came to light. She needed to return to reality and remember that not every plan will turn out the way you want it too. Focus on what you did right, not on what you did wrong. Instead, learn from what you did wrong so you can avoid the same mistake again.

Hilda pets Umbreon and Luxray, the former licking her hand and the latter purring. Typhlosion nuzzles her face into Hilda's midsection. Serperior follows suit. Gardevoir watches from the hallway with her arms folded. Her smile's that of a proud mother and she happily closes her eyes alongside Gengar, who's poking his face out from the ceiling.

"In hindsight, doubt was always lingering," Hilda admits with an embarrassed laugh. "But I felt that it was still worth a try."

"Nothing wrong with that," Valen reassures. "Like Rosa said, you tried your best." He moves closer to Hilda's right ear, whispering, "I'm proud of you."

"That'll always be a big win for me."

"You want a Battle Frontier regardless?" Rosa folds her hands on her lap. "Even if it's not you who makes it a reality?"

"Yep, I want my second home to have a Battle Frontier too."

"Listen, sometimes you have to step aside." Valen plays around with Hilda's dark brown hair and Rosa's long, brown ponytails. "Remember, you couldn't have moved the agency's main headquarters here on your own."

"You're right." Hilda sheepishly smiles and rubs the back of her head. "I had lots of help too…sometimes I still forget that by accident."

"We can still make that documentary on the exceptionally talented and beautiful Hilda White."

"I'm afraid you'll have to sit that one out, my beloved biased fanboy." She wags a finger. "I've got more experience in video making to begin with." Hehe, look at his fake pouty face. "Goofball."

"Heh, I can still-"

"Eureka!" Hilda startles Valen and Rosa into tumbling into each other the floor. "If we can't pull it off, we'll have to hand it over to somebody who can!" She jumps with her palms folded. "Musicals are still thriving too!"

Valen decides to chill while lying down on the rug, petting the good edgelord kitty. That purring has been a melody to him before he could even walk, before he could say "mama and papa." Luxray backs away for Typhlosion, who lies down next to him. This time, she does manage to lick his face while receiving belly rubs.

Rosa leaps back onto her feet, but then she kneels to kiss Valen on the lips. "You forgot to tell Hilda something, Valey."

Indeed he did. "That's my girl." To his delight, the response is a kiss of her own. "Being down in the dumps isn't your style."

"That's my Val-Val!" Hilda places her fists on her hips. "There's little that can keep me down—I'm the one who turn downer days into delightful days!"

In celebration of her positivity, Hilda pulls out her cell phone and gestures for Rosa to join her. Once she does, Luxray and Umbreon dash to join them. Rosa presses her back up against Hilda's back, whereas Umbreon and Luxray make Gardevoir cackle over their attempt to do the same. If that didn't make their faces red enough, Serperior's got them covered. The green serpentine bursts out laughing, commenting how absurd they look with their butts pressed together.

Hilda hits record. "Heeeeey, hope you're all having an awesome day!"

"Hiiii everybody, here's your daily motivation!" She winks and makes a peace sign. "It's about you, it's about me! It's about hope, it's about dreams!"

Hilda mimics Rosa's gestures. "It's about besties who stick together and achieve their destiny!" Hehe, Umbreon and Luxray accidentally smacked each other with their paws.

"You don't have to be perfect to reach for the sky!"

"Just keep having the courage to get up and try!"

"It's about never giving up, so flip that frown up!" They slide onto their knees like rock stars. "And you will carry on!" They spot Umbreon and Luxray trying to mimic, but they end up accidentally kissing each other. "Smiling's the victor, yeah yeah yeah yeah!"

Luxray and Umbreon run behind Valen, who still refuses to get up off the floor for some unknown reason. Instead, he's reading his copy of Kasmenestian Lives by Phaetarch.

"You're all so so so awesome!" Lisia leaps towards Hilda and exchanges a high five with her. "We're unbeatable!" Lisia rests her right hand on her hip and holds a peace sign horizontally above her forehead. "From the stairs and the ancient past-"

"They come to play but they never last!" Hilda and Rosa emulate Lisia's pose. "Yeah yeah yeah, we're unforgettable!"

Rosa and her would make Val-Val twirl with them, but they'll wait until he pauses his reading. She'll just high five Melanie twice instead.

Of course, it's still a bummer that it came to this. However, what good will dwelling do? She needs to be kind to herself. When somebody thinks negative, they continue the downward spiral. Positive reinforcement helps them to move forward. That's a big reason why Rosa and her love to give free smiles.

"Signorina, what's the status of your big decision about the BW Agency?"

Hilda looks at Jacques, stating, "That's still up in the air." She tilts her head and places her fingers in front of her grin. "But I've already cemented the legend of Hilda White in the entertainment world."

"That's the spirit," Melanie chimes in. "Keep on rocking."

"Hehe, can do."

There were times where she took an indefinite leave for her battling venture, but there'd be one major difference. This time, she's be stepping away from the BW Agency for good. This is one of the biggest decisions that she'll ever make. It'll require full certainty on her part before going forward.

But now that the main division is in Angel City, perhaps it's time to pass the torch to someone else. All of her hard work has more than paid off—the dream of getting talented people and Pokémon the attention they deserve will never die. A dream of a Calvanian Battle Frontier can still become a reality, even if she's got to watch from the sidelines. She'll try her best to never forget that.

"Now Hilda's the one forgetting something."

She laughs and bends down to kiss him. "Goofball can't get enough of us."

He's finally getting up from the floor, and the others are leaving the room. Well, not before Rosa and him exchange a few kisses of their own.

A cloak of serenity is wrapped around the living room. It's just her and her precious Val-Val now and she'll savor every millisecond of it. She wraps hers arms around him and tries to tackle him while kissing him. He stops her via wrapping his arms around his midsection. He quickly moves his hands up her back, leaving one there while using the other to stroke her hair. Her heartbeat and pulse race as their kissing becomes fiery, the air around them overwhelmed by endothermic passion.

"Is that all you got?" Hilda rests her forehead on his forehead, her coy gaze examining the gleam in his eyes. "Or are you making me work for it?"

"A gentleman never reveals all of his secrets."

"But Rosa and I are a dangerous combination." Hilda titters and her eyelids flutter. "Better check yourself before you wreck yourselves."

She comes to rest on his lap, but she brings him down onto the sofa via her awesome Seismic Toss attack. They resume kissing, but they're now leg wrestling too. Hehe, he's going to lose cuz she loves him more! Charm won't work on her, watch as she comes Fury Attack with Draining Kiss!

...On second thought, she's in the mood for prolonged kissing. Each steady, passionate motion of their lips is to be treasured, each stroke of her hair and his body is a symbol of his unconditional love for her. These attempts to pin each other's legs down are just one example of the silliness they enjoy together.

It's like time itself stops so they can live the moments without a care in the world. All she wants do is stay right here and bask in this warmth, and there's more of that surging up in her body. Rosa and her couldn't have asked for a better soulmate and they'll make sure he always remembers that.

A pleasant sunset and a pleasant surprise, Wes thinks. He went from never having a genuine group of friends to being told that Hilda was down in the dumps earlier. What's even more surprising than that? How about Hilda's ability to pull herself out of a downwards spiral? It has't even been two hours and she's back to sending strings of grin emojis with Rosa in the group chat.

He's also learned more about Valen and Rosa's own uncertainty regarding what they want to do, but they also sounded optimistic. He could use a gallon of optimism juice right about now, for he's still skeptical if Rui and him can, let alone will, get back together.

Or maybe it's not skepticism. Maybe it's just him being nervous. Whatever it is, Rui wanted to meet him near the Metagross-shaped building. He's not exactly across from it, but it's within his line of sight. She never specified where near the building, but Rui probably did that on purpose for some reason.

As for him, he couldn't ignore a challenger. His fervor for battling's heating up like a Sunny Day. That's why ended up in a public arena within a spacious plaza. That's why his Blaziken and his opponent's Hitmonchan have turned this battlefield into a boxing arena.

Slug after slug, hook after hook, the two exchange a flurry of punches covered in flames and electivity. In his mind, this match is already over.

"Use Sky Uppercut."

Blaziken's fists glow crimson red and it strikes Hitmonchan under the chin. The Hitmonchan' flung upwards, then he falls back down.

"Finish this with Flare Blitz."

"Flames swirl around Blaziken's arms. He uses a foot to leap up and a crimson phoenix envelops his body. He dives down like a plane landing, slamming his whole body into Hitmonchan. Hitmonchan goes flying behind his trainer and skips on the ground a couple of times. Blaziken slightly kneels over as flames spark around his body, but he lets out victory cry afterwards.

Wes smiles and exchanges a fist bump with Blaziken. He then recalls Blaziken, his ears picking up a certain somebody's boisterous laughter within the crowd. As he places the back in his trench coat, his opponent approaches him and offers a friendly handshake. He pauses at first, but then he accepts.

"It's ya girl!" Rui runs out of the pack with two peace signs held up near her eyes. "That was a sick battle!"

The orange-haired menace has arrived, her pink shirt boldly stating "'Nac Town Girl" on it. Once again, he'd like to know why she's wearing a Team Skull item, a necklace in this case.. Once again, he's too afraid to ask.

Rui's denim jacket rustles due to the wind, her eyes awkwardly meeting his eyes in what loosely resembles an attempted Old West staredown. It only lasts a few seconds before Rui howls over his puzzled expression.

Alas, Wes can't have even five minutes of peace and quiet. Whatever, time for business.

"Name a time and place." Wes' eyes narrow while his smirk grows. "Make sure there's a crowd to witness your defeat."

Rui's eyes light up and her smile extends towards her ears. She's been waiting for this—she wants to further jog his memory through this battle. They'll be together again soon enough and she can't wait!

"Backing down already?"

"Hahahahahaha, in your dreams!" Rui sticks her tongue out and makes two peace signs. "Don't forget that I was a stronger trainer than you when we first met!"

"Those days are over." Wes lowers his head and crosses his arms. "Long over."

"Prove it five days from now near the boardwalk." Rui tilts her head and cracks her knuckles. "Unless you're scared."

If Wes was scared of her, why has he snuck a whoopie cushion onto her seat one more than one occasion. Why'd he set up those traps that caused a bucket to cover her head? How about that pizza joint in Phenac City? Why was he trolling her during lunch, getting a laugh out of the guy in the black Team Skull jacket? Surely, she remembers that said guy, who introduced himself as Valen, enjoyed the antics?

He snaps back into focus via a jolt that surges up his left arm. Huh? Why did Rui grabs his right hand? Her smile's still smug, but now there's a sense of…gentleness? Affection? Bossiness? Something like that.

"I know a great pizza joint around here." She drags him along, amused by his confused expression. "Follow me."

"You're making me follow you," Wes retorts, unable to pull himself out of her grasp. "I don't have a choice."

"I'm not stupid," Rui fires back. "I know what I'm doing."

Wes cocks a brow. "Where's your proof?" A wild smirk appears. "Did you leave it at home?"

Rui rolls her eyes and tightens her grips Wes' hand. "That was an order, not a suggestion."

"Behold, Rui's suggestion!" Her elbow jab isn't very effective. "She still hasn't shown me any proof!"

"Still not letting go, Wes."

When there's no escaping the terror that is Rui, trolling is the next best thing. Slowly but surely, the fond memories are coming back to him. Their snark battles something that he truly missed.

Look at all of these people around him. Talking, laughing, holding hands, petting Pokémon, all of these little things that are precious to him. Perhaps reclaiming such moments with Rui isn't infinitesimal after all. It could be a bit difficult to readjust, but it's not impossible.

They pass a road sign that points in the direction of a giant shopping mall. Maybe he can take her there one day as thanks.

Thoughts on this chapter? Did you enjoy seeing the characters try to encourage and comfort each other? How about the belly rubs Typhlosion and Salamence wanted? Umbreon and Luxray's silly moment?

Jacques-Louis David was the leading painter of French Neoclassicism. Anita Brookner’s bio on him is excellent and The Power of Art documentary series has one on him.

If you’re into historical fiction, check out Oil &amp; Marble and Raphael: Painter in Rome by Stephanie Storey.
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