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Looking for you in the midnight sky

Chapter Text

Never ever before Norman had thought it could be so hard to breathe. The atmosphere was thick, smoke lingering at every corner as bright, yellow, threatening flames consumed the buildings.

“DARIA!!”, it was as if his cry was swallowed by the fire that surrounded him. Still, he ran and yelled, until he spotted a familiar brunette.

Daria..!

“Norman!” came the relieved response as his wife crashed into his open arms.

He held her against his chest for several seconds, inhaling deeply her scent as his fingers lost their way into her long locks of curly brown hair.

With a shaky breath, he broke the embrace and touched softly her face with his fingers.

“What happened…? The explosion was so huge that it blew the Gym’s windows… I-I came as soon as I could…”, then he paused when he realized that someone was missing, “Where’s… Where’s Haruka…? Is she okay?”

The helpless expression upon Daria’s face was enough answer,

“I… I don’t know… I was in the kitchen, drinking a glass of water, and she was in the living room and then I went back to the living room and… I can’t remember but… The blast knocked me to the ground, then the next thing I remember, I was outside and Haruka wasn’t there, and the firemen told me they’ll try to save her, that I should stay still because I hurt my head, but I needed to find you and -Oh dear, I’m  so scared…!”

Norman clenched his jaw as Daria began to sob in his arms. For a second, an innocent face flashed before his eyes, bright blue eyes, with sparks of red in them, looking at him with wonder as a huge, toothy smile laugh at him “Daddy!”.

His sweet little Haruka. She wasn’t even four years old…

If there’s Arceus above us watching this… Please, make sure that our little daughter is safe…!

“Sir?” Norman gazed at the voice who called him, a fireman, “Yes?”

“Your wife told us earlier that your child was still stuck inside your house. We send our best men to rescue her.”

“You know if she’s safe?”

“We can only hope so, it seems that the living room wasn’t too much impacted by the explosion, so the chance that your daughter might survive this are-”

But he never had the chance to finish his sentence as a second blast rolled upon all of them. When Norman opened his eyes, he was on the ground. It was as if hell had broken loose on Earth.

Everything was on fire, and a deafening whistle rang into his ears. The world was spinning around him and he tried to stand up.

The Gym leader looked at the place where his house should have been, but instead, he only saw a huge hole in which nothing was left.

He felt tears streaming down his face as a howl escape his throat. One, lonely thought cried helplessly into his mind “Haruka!”

And then, everything faded to black.

 

oOoOoOoOo

Fourteen years later

oOoOoOoOo

 

“Time to get up, Freak!” was her morning alarm before a bucket of frozen water was thrown on her.

She gasped loudly as coldness seized her, and she was on her feet in two seconds.

“I-I’m awake!” she yelled back between chattering teeth.

“You weren’t,” came the spiteful answer, “If you were, you’d be already working on your chores! No breakfast for you today!”

But I haven’t eaten last night too…! came the unspoken thought, but she didn’t show it on her face, and May began her daily routine while trying to ignore her gurgling stomach.

 While she walked through the street of this remote community, she readjusted the blindfold that hid her eyes from view.

You little demoniac freak!”, “Your eyes are cursed! We should have croak them a long time ago!”, “It’s because of you that so many disasters happened!” “You caused enough damages before, so stay where you belong, you freaking monster!”

May clenched her jaw as she tried to ignore those words who plague her mind every second of the days… When they weren’t said by the people in front of her.

She wondered why the community hadn’t killed her yet? If she was so dangerous, they should have get rid of her a long time ago…?

She could have snorted at herself. Of course, they already tried! And the only thing that came out of it was the fact that she destroyed an entire part of a town.

But she couldn’t remember the incident. She was young and only broken memories were left behind; fire, pain, desolation…

“Move faster, Freak! The ground will not be washed all by itself!

“Yes, Ma’am…” she murmured as she accelerated the pace.

As far as she could remember, her life has always been this way: insults, abuse, disdain and pure hatred. And she knew things would ever stay the same until the day she will die.

Still, echoes from the past brought her some comfort when life was too hard, the pain too unbearable. Memories of joy and love.

Before they took her with them, before she became a danger to those around her, she was loved. And it that was what scared her the most.

Because she knew deep inside that those people who deeply loved her were hurt by her in the end.

And it was because she knew she still hurt people in the end that she accepted, at the end of the day, the whipping for her daily mistakes.

Then she went to bed, after getting the chance to eat a little, falling in a deep dreamless sleep, before everything that all over again, as it always has, each day, again, and again,

and again…

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

“Oh my god, May! What did they do to you this time…?”

The frighten expression of her dear and only friend broke her heart and the seventeen years old girl tried to reassure the green haired boy.

“Oh no, don’t worry Wally, it’s not as bad as it seems…!” this could have been convincing if she hadn’t winced while sitting down on a log, next to her younger friend.

“I don’t understand… Why can’t I help you…? This community lives so near Verdanturf Town and yet, no one ever heard of them!” he took her hand in his, “I want to help you May… Each time I see you, you’re in a worse state than before…! How long it will be before you stop coming, huh…?”

She sighed, “Wally… You know that I can’t… I’m dangerous, you know that… And I prefer to be the one to suffer than to hurt people…” while saying that, she readjusted the blindfold that covered her eyes, the soft fabric allowing her to see through it while preventing other to see her eyes.

My cursed eyes…

Her dark thoughts were cut as a little green pokemon jump into her laps

“Cko! Treecko!

“My, hello there Mint! I’m glad to see you too!” she said in a laugh.

Even if her life could be harsh sometimes, May always had found time to be all by herself, alone in the wood, to breathe a little away from the hatred of the community. It was this way she met Wally for the first time six years ago, but also how she meet Mint, a little abandoned Treecko with a twisted tail, as well as other … Broken… pokemon she took care of…

She tickled the little creature a little before another of her friend came from behind her and cuddled against her legs. Then, the big red orbs of a familiar Poochyena looked back at her, “Hello to you too, Shadow!”

And, as always, her other pokemon friend joined her soon enough, a Ralts and a Numel, called respectively Aurora and Vulcain. From the pocket of her worn cream dress, she gave them some berries that she stole from the community’s stock and looked at them with a fond look.

“You know… You could be a great trainer if they give you the chance…

“And let me roam around the region? Not a chance… They’ll say I’ll cause too many damages… And I don’t have Pokeball, neither a trainer license… And I won’t talk about money…!”

While saying this, the teenager made her way toward a little stream, and it was only a few seconds later that a bright red pokemon emerged from underwater, “I don’t forget you, Monster! Here you go…” The Magikarp beamed at her and eat happily his berries while the four other pokemon join them near the water.

“I still think that it’s an odd surname that you gave him…”

“Why? They said that Magikarp evolved in very powerful pokemon if we take the time to breed them!

“Still, I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to raise a Magikarp to a Gyarados…”

May only hummed at him and continued to play with the not-so-quite wild pokemon. For a long moment, the two humans stay silent, watching the five pokemon playing with each other in the stream, the quietness of the forest bringing appeasement to May, one she never have inside the community walls.

“I think it’s time for me to head back home…”, said finally Wally

“Already?”, “Yes, my Aunt and Uncle will begin to worry if I’m not at home before the nightfall so…”, “I understand… I hope you’ll come back around here soon!”

Wally smiled at her, with a strange look into his eyes,  and gave her a hug, “Don’t worry, I will!” and then, he was gone.

May sighed. She was aware of the boy’s feelings for her, as he confessed them to her one year ago. But as she liked him as a friend, even as a best friend! she didn’t like him this way… And even if he respected her own feelings, sometimes things could be awkward between the two, but she knew that the green-haired boy was moving on on her so she didn’t worry too much about it.

Once she was sure that she was alone, the seventeen years old girl made her way to a certain tree, a tree with a little hole in the trunk wide enough for her to fit one arm in it. She took the little object off the tree and removed the little fabric that protected it.

A wooden flute was hidden here and May brought it to her lips, a familiar tune coming out of it.

A cry pierced the sky and a flurry of red and white feathers came to her, a little head nuzzling against her chest while making a sound of joy. The seventeen years old laugh at the pokemon and hugged it back.

“Yes, Yes! I missed you too Latias!”

Against all odds, she had befriended the Eon pokemon while she was injured to the wing one day. She didn’t have a lot on her to help her, but she did the best she could at this moment and since then, Latias had given her the flute and pay her a visit each time she played it.

“Why won’t you play with the other, they missed you too, you know?”

The Eon pokemon let out another cry of joy before flying toward the other pokemon who greet her with enthusiasm.

May played with them a little longer, but soon enough, she had to say them goodbye. She tried to keep a soothing face, but the pokemon knew better than to think that their dear human was okay with her life. So, it was with worry they let her go, once again, inside the walls of the community village.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

“Mister Stone?”

The steel-blue haired man looked up from his lupa to  the voice who called him. “Huh? Oh, it’s you Norman, I’m glad to see that you could have come after all…!” he had stood up to greet the older man, who waited at the entrance of his house, which had the door wide open, shaking fondly his hand. The raven-haired man laugh at him, “How could I not? No one ever refuses Ligue Champion’s invitation! Plus, Petalburg City Gym didn’t have any challenger schedule for the moment so…”

“I can understand that!” he said lightly, “Now, take a sit, would you? Do you want something to drink?”

“A cup of coffee would be lovely, thank you”

The champion disappeared for a few moments in his kitchen, leaving the Gym leader alone. He took a few moments to looked around him. Even if he already knew that the Champion was a rock nerd, Norman didn’t expect for his house in Mossdeep City to be at the same time so bare in his furniture, and yet so full with rocks and precious stones all over the place. The Petalburg Gym leader took a look at the stone the younger man was studying… And felt his heartache with a familiar pain.

Saphyr… Just like her eyes were…

“Are you okay, Sir?”

Norman jolted out of his thought, seeing that Steven was back with two steaming cups in his hands. He blinked a little, “Oh, I’m fine, don’t worry, I was just lost in thought…” He took the cup from the Champion hand, “Oh, and please, I’m not that old! ‘Norman’ is fine with me.”

“I’ll call you Norman only if you call me Steven”, “I think I can manage with that”, “Good”

They sipped in silence their drink, Steven looking at him with a tiny spark of worry in his eyes as himself was lost in thought watching the stone on the table. Still, the twenty-four years old Champion was well-behaved enough to not ask.

“Err… Norman?

“Yes?

“Well… I know this time of the year is… kind of difficult for you…” Steven managed to say, “... But I know that you were a great Gym leader back in Johto and I really admire you for a long time…”

The Normal-type trainer blinked at him, “Well, thanks I suppose, even if I’m not sure to understand…”

Steven sighed while passing a hand through his silver locks, “Well, you a sort of international reputation and…” he took another sip of his drink, “You know that in two weeks, the Battle Resort will be inaugurated and I thought that you could be the… Guest of honor, in a way, of the opening ceremony, if you don’t mind…”

Norman was speechless at the proposition, “Well… I… I’m really honored that you offer me this opportunity….”

The younger one gave him a strange look, “... But do you realize that… In two weeks, it will be fourteen years old that the incident… Occurred…?”

Ah.

Of course, the champion was aware of this. As well as a vast majority of people in this part of the Earth. After all, no one had been able to determine what truly happened this day.

This year, she should have been eighteen…

 

Norman swallowed. “I see…” The gym leader took a deep breath to composed himself a little, still having some difficulties dealing with the incident, even a decade later, “I’ll be honored to be the Godfather of the opening ceremonies of the Battle Resort…” He gave the Champion a little smile “It seems to be an interesting experience and I’m curious now…”

“Are you sure…?”

“Certain, and… Wherever my little Haruka is now, I don’t think she wants to see her family still mourning her… Death…”

Steven gave him a comforting squeeze on the shoulder, “Even if it’s a little late, I’m sorry for your loss” “Don’t be, it’s in the past now…” Norman shook his head, “So now, what should I know? How this place will work, exactly?”

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

The announcement was broadcast on National TV

“Dear citizens of Hoenn, The League is proud to announce you the official opening date of the Battle Resort! Funded by the Devon Corporation, this first-year edition will be sponsored by the very famous Gym Leader Norman from Petalburg City! (cheers)

The opening ceremony will be held for seven days with, at the end of the week, a ball to close all the festivities! (applause)

Trainers from all Hoenn will be able to battle each other, and even a Special Challenge is proposed for the stronger one of them!

Trainers who wished so could challenge the Eight Gym Leader in a row! But one failed battle and they’ll have to restart all over again! (Dramatic, yet enthusiast music)

The challengers who will have defeated the eight champions the four first day of the opening week will have the opportunity to challenge the Elite Four the fifth day! And if (if!) they are successful at doing so, those said challengers will have the chance to battle the Champion the penultimate day! The seven one will be dedicated to celebrate all the battles that will have occurred all the previous days!

But trainers, beware! The Gym Leader, Elite Four and the Champion prepare their best and stronger team and they will not be a piece of cake! (laughs)

The Battle Resort (BR) is waiting for you! Book now your ticket for the opening ceremony!”

(End Jingle)

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

The announcement of the BR’s opening was just like a jolt of electricity through all Hoenn, even in the remote community where lived May.

She was… Fascinated by the event, and even if she knew best then to think she could challenge the Gym leaders, she still wanted to go.

So, one day, while the community’s chiefs were talking about the fact all of them (they were a community of thirty people), she couldn’t help herself to ask,

“When you say “all of us”, does that mean I can go too?”

They had laughed at her,

“If you can gather a team of at least two pokemon before tomorrow evening, well, maybe you could come with us…” said finally the community chief, a man with black piercing eyes and a scar crossing the back of his shave head called Brazgot.

“Really?!” she couldn’t hide the hope behind her words, not catching the venom in the old man words

“But.” the tone was disdainful, “Before that, all your chores have to be finished!”

“I promise they will! Oh, thank you, thank you so much!”

And with that, she ran outside, a wide grin spreading all across her face. If it was not for the blindfold, they could have seen her eyes shined with delight.

“Sir, are you sure about taking the freak with us…?

“I say ‘If’, didn’t I?”

A dark, evil laugh answered him, “Oh, yes ... That right...”

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

“And so, if I ever find some pokeballs, and if you allow me to capture you, I’ll have the chance to go with them, and maybe experience battles!” her face beamed with hope, “I know that I’m dangerous but… If they propose this agreement, that means it’s safe right?”

Her pokemon friends nodded at her, even Latias who was floating next to her and nuzzling her hair with her nose, gave her encouraging noises.

“Thank you, guys, I don’t know what I would do without you…”

“FREAK! Where are you?! We have work for you so come here right now if you don’t want to be punished!”

“Sorry guys, duty calls” she tried to say lightly before rushing back to the community’s village. “I’ll be right back!”

But she wasn’t. The community people seemed to have decided to make her work harder than before. One wanted her to sew up his cape, another one needed for her pokeballs to be polished, or for their pokemon to be combed,...

And at the end of the day, she didn’t get the chance to have some time for herself. It was the same the following day: it was as if the whole community had decided to make her life a far worse living hell than the rest of the year.

In the end, she finished her chores the exact moment the community called out for the departure.

In the end, she didn’t get the chance to find some pokeballs.

In the end, she was left alone, shelving, like the freak she had always been.

With a heavy heart, she made her way to the small glade with the little stream where she knew that her pokemon-friends were waiting for her.

What a surprise when she saw that in addition to be all reunited, they seemed to have fund pokeballs (a little worn, but it didn’t matter) and, moreover, ready to be captured and help her being a trainer, even if it was for a short amount of time. Even Latias seemed ready to help her, even if May had to tell her it might be dangerous if the community knew that she befriended with an Eon pokemon.

Still, she couldn’t hide the wide grin that spread across her face when she took the pokeballs with the pokemon -her pokemon!- inside for the first time.

Maybe... Maybe things will be different now…

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

“Chief Brazgot, Sir wait!” May yelled at the leaving party. They turned on their heels, looking at her puzzled and with repulsion in their gaze.

“What do you want, Freak?!” barked the cold voice of the Chief,

“You… You said that if I could gather a pokemon team and finish all my chores before the departure, I could come with you! Look!” she showed them the five pokeballs on her hips (the sixth one with Latias hidden in her clothes), “And I have finished all the things you asked me to do, so I can come with you, as you promised me, right?”

She heard outraged gasp coming from the crowd, yet she didn’t move her gaze from the community Chief's face.

Brazgot looked at her with a cold, angry expression before a predatory grin made his way on his lips.

“Well, well, well. Now that you have pokemon of your own, you think that you could come with us, May…?”

The teenager felt a shiver of pure fear ran down her spine. When the Chief called her by her name, it only meant troubles.

“Now that you have a team of your own, you think that you could ever be a trainer...,?”

She saw him took one of his pokeballs at his belt and tossed it into the air, realizing a giant Salamence

“Then, prove yourself worthy of your team!”

His smile was cold, “Prove us that you are more than a little damn freak...”

Even if she was afraid, May took the first Pokeball on her belt and tossed it in the air. Monster was the one coming out if it.

The crowd laughed at her. “You really thought that you could fight in a battle with a mere Magikarp?” was the Chief sarcastic comment, “You pathetic freak. Salamence, use Dragon Claw”

The move was too fast for May to have the time to command her pokemon to dodge the attack. It fainted instantly. With a shocked expression, she quickly returned it before sending another pokeball, Shadow barking once he was out of the little device.

Before the Chief had the time to say something, she ordered: “Use bite, quickly!”

Brazgot simply shrugged, “Dodge it and use tackle”, and, once again, it was a critical hit.

The battle didn’t last much longer has the Chief wiped the floor with the rest of her team.

Once the fifth pokemon, Mint, fell fainted on the ground, May felt her knees give under her own weight and she sunk to the ground. She didn’t reach for the sixth Pokeball in her dress.

“Pathetic” was the spiteful comment pat at her, “Really, you should know better than to think you could be something more than a freak. You’re dangerous and unable to fight in a pokemon battle. Your arrogance will be the end of you.”

He turned on his heels and began to walk away from her broken form, “Now, you shall remember where your place is, where you belong.” his words were brought to her by the wind

“Remember that you’ll never be something more than a freak.”

Even if the words hurt a lot, May didn’t mind them. Tears were pouring out of her eyes. With shaking hands, she took the still form of Mint, the little Treecko making painful noises at the touch. The teenager felt sobs escaping her throat as other tears made their way onto her cheeks.

“I’m so, so sorry” was the painful word that she croaked at the green pokemon, hugging him softly to her chest, “I’m so sorry to have failed you… All of you…”

She ran to the glade she used as a loophole, where she hid all her belongings, as well as a few berries that she could use to heal her injured pokemon.

She released them all, as well as Latias who chirped worriedly at her, as she took care of her pokemon’s wound, unaware of the tears that blurred her vision.

And all along, she never stopped asking for forgiveness at her pokemon. Then, she sat on the ground, her back on the log and her face hidden in her knees, crying her heart out.

She had been a fool, believing their words...Why would they ever show her kindness…? She was tired, she just wanted to stay there and disappear forever. Nothingness would ever be better than this life.

“... Gon…” came a painful cry behind her. Surprised, May looked sharply above her shoulder and saw a badly injured Bagon limping into the glade, blood streaming down one of his paws.

A Bagon, the first form of Salamence…

Even if the event from before was still vivid in her memory, she couldn’t let this poor little pokemon like this, injured! Plus, this little Bagon was clearly different from the Brazgot’s Salamence!

“Hi there…” she cooed softly, wiping the tears out of her eyes. The little pokemon seemed startled at her voice and looked at her with worry.

“It’s okay, little buddy, I won’t harm you, I promise” she held a hand toward it, “I just want to help you, so come here so that I can have a look at your wounds…”

Slowly, the Bagon made his way to her and she took him gently on her laps, “Here, take the Oran berry, you should feel better after eating a bit of it…”

The dragon type pokemon took it with his two front paws and looked up at her with his big black eyes. Around them, her other pokemon had gathered to look at the new coming one with curiosity.

Yet, the Bagon didn’t eat the berry, only looked at her with a soft expression and then…

I knew it… You truly are a pure-hearted human…”

“What was that?!” nearly yelled May as panic began to rose in her chest. But then, the glade was illuminated by a white blinding light, and even with the blindfold on her eyes, the teenager had to shield them with one arm.

When the light faded a little, the Bagon on her laps had disappeared. Instead, floating in front of her was a star-shape pokemon, one that May had only heard of.

“You… You are…” she gasped, her jaw dropping to the ground

The pokemon giggled at her, “Nice to meet you, May. I’m Jirachi

“B-But… How…?”

How what? How I came here? Well, flying seems to be a good answer so I’ll go with that!”

“Wait, what?” asked May, still dumbfounded, “No! I mean… Why are you here…? Why did you…?”

But her question was cut short. The Mythical pokemon flew to her face, his two tiny hands resting on her cheeks, wiping the remnant tears that lingered on them.

If I took this form, it was to test you. I wanted to see that even if you were still ready to help other people, even at your lowest point, even if the said pokemon remind you of a bad experience.

Jirachi smiled at her, “And you did it May, you show me that you were still ready to help another living being, regardless of how you are, how you feel…” his smile grew a little more, “A lot of people would have shown  selfishness if they have been in your situation, but you… You show some kind of mercy, of selflessness…” Jirachi paused a little, giving her time to process his word, “... And for that, I’ll grant you all your wishes for the next seven days…!”

May looked at the tiny pokemon with astonishment, “No… I-I can’t accept this gift…! it’s too much! I-”

May”, Jirachi’s voice hard, yet soothing in its tone, “You more than anyone else are worth of this gift, so please, let me help you… Let me help you reach some kind of happiness that was refused to you for a too long time…

May looked at the star-shaped pokemon for long seconds, her own pokemon at her feet, looking at the two with wonder, astonishment, and maybe a bit of worry.

May finally drew a long breath and said

“Then… I wish that you heal my pokemon… please?”

That was obvious, why does that not surprise me that it is your first wish, tell me?” Jirachi asked in a chuckled and, with a blink of the eyes, soft light wrapped her injured pokemon and, the next second, they were free from any wounds.

“Oh, wow…”

Don’t thank me, that was pretty easy, barely a warm-up!” Jirachi said with a light tone. “But now, can we start with the good stuff…? I heard that you wished to participate in a tournament, am I right?”

May flushed and looked at her feet “Well, yes, I'd love to, but I don't want for my pokemon to be injured as badly as they were during the battle with…” she didn't finish her sentence as guilt began to grow in her chest, tears, once again, threatening to escape the barrier of her lids.

Oh my! No! Not of that now! This Brazot guy is an idiot, as well as all the people of this community!”  huffed the mystical pokemon, “Maybe it's not a very orthodox way but who knows if you'll ever get the chance to be a trainer once again after this week tournament?”  at those words, light exploded from his little body and enveloped each one of the six pokemon. Through the light, May could see their forms change, going bigger and bigger, except for Latias, who was a pokemon who didn't evolve. And, as she watched with open astonishment her pokemon changed before her eyes, she heard Jirachi say, “There. I give your pokemon a strength that equals the love that you have for them and the one they had for you.” the star-shape pokemon giggled lightly, “And I have to say, I'm quite impressed by the bond you form with each of them, even with Latias, and I know for sure how hard it is to be friend with her…!

When the light vanished, her tiny little pokemons weren’t there anymore. Instead stood proudly a Sceptile, a Mightyena, a Gardevoir, a Gyarados and a Camerupt who all roared in a powerful cry. Latias floated by their side, still the same than before but with what seemed to be a stronger aura.

Both of her hands flew to her open mouth as she looked at them with wonder. They all seemed so… Alive…! And only because of the love she tried to give them everyday…?

If she had been a trainer… They would have become like this…?

Her tearful eyes looked at Jirachi, who was still by her side and try to say something, but words just wouldn’t make their way out of her mouth. He held up a hand to her.

“Don’t! Just… Enjoy your time with your team, would you?”

It was all that she needed, and the next seconds, she was with her newly-yet-for-a-short-time evolved pokemon, petting them on the head, giving compliments and just… being in awe at them.

After a few minutes, Jirachi cleared his throat, “I know that you want to spend time with your team, but we only have the week before us and we haven’t finished with your preparation yet!”

May frowned at the pokemon, “What do you mean by that…?”

I mean no offense but… Did you have a look at you?” he made a general gesture to her clothes, “Really, I can’t understand how people can treat other human being this bad…”

May blushed with embarrassment at the comment, “Actually… I’m the one who made this dress…”

Jirachi paled, “Oh boy… Well, I hope you won’t mind, but I think some adjustments are needed if you want to melt in the crowd once you’ll be at the Battle Resort”

He snapped his tiny fingers and, this time, it was her who was surrounded by light. Once it cleared out, she saw that her white-worn dress had been substituted for a red shirt and white short. Her hair seemed different too, now they were held up by a tiny ponytail and a bandana which matched her shirt color. Yellow sneakers where at her feet and a little bag firmly tied to her belt.

She twirled on herself, looking at her new clothes with stars in her eyes “Those are the most comfortable things I ever wear!”

Why, well thank you…!” said proudly, maybe smugly, Jirachi, “Still… I have to do something about the blindfold…

May felt her blood froze in her veins, “... My blindfold…?” “Yes, it truly doesn’t suit you, if you want my opinion, so if you could just remove it-”

“NO!” she cried before she could stop herself. Jirachi looked at her with wide-eyes.

“I mean… I have to hide my eyes, you know? I don’t want people to see them.”

A pause, “Why?” was the simple question, “They are cursed… And because of that, I caused a lot of pain several years ago, I don’t want it to happen once again…”

Her voice broke at the end and Jirachi could only look at her sadly. “Please, remove it, so I can do something to replace it.

May helpless expression almost make the Mystical pokemon regret his word, but, with shaking hands, the teenager untied the knot at the back of her head and let the fabric slide upon her face. Slowly, she opened her eyes, revealing for the first time the deepness of their Saphir-like-color in which strings of red taint them in a glorious harmony, making them sparkled in the dimming light of the sun.

Jirachi looked at them silently for long seconds, “I don’t understand why people feared your eyes, they’re wonderful, but I’ll grant you this wish too.” and then, he flew toward her face and kissed her forehead, sending jolt of warm through her face, and before she knew it, a mask delicately framed her face, the slight white color in her vision letting her suppose that the holes for the eyes were masked as well.

She made her way toward the stream in the glade and looked at her reflection. She almost didn’t recognize herself.

Yes, the girl looking back at her was too thin to be truly healthy, and the pale color of her skin show that she wasn’t doing well. Still, there were a form of determination emanating for her, a slight smile on her lips and the half Venetian-mask, mostly white in its color with black and gold engraving drew on it, gave her a catlike look.

She gasped and the reflection did the same.

This girl… It’s me, it’s who I could have been…

It’s the one I’ll be for the next week.

Jirachi, still by her side, looked at her with a soft expression. “I suppose you like it?”

“Like it? I love it! And not just that, but everything you did for me, for them (she gestured at her pokemon) for us…!” she took the star-shape pokemon between her two hands and hugged him close.

“Thank you so much…!”

Jirachi giggled in her arms but a blush could be seen upon his cheeks, “You’re welcome my dear…” he drew back from her arms, “Oh! I forgot to tell you! I had added a little something to the mask! As long as you keep it, those guys from the community would be unable to recognize you, so you don’t have to worry if your path crossed their!” he giggled again, “Also, I make sure that no one will try to know too much about you, or, for example, asking for your trainer ID card!”

Then, the Mystical pokemon flew around her a few times, “What could have I forgot…?” He stopped in front of her, a deep frown upon his sweet features. “I know! There… One more gift to you…”

With wonder, May watched a faint glowing light poured out of Jirachi body toward her left wrist. When it vanished, a silver large bracelet was wrapped around it, a little gem inlaid in it.

“What is it?”, “A Mega Bracelet, if I’m correct. It appears that you humans have found a new way for pokemon to evolve. Unfortunately, I only had a Key Stone with me -the one inlaid in the bracelet. It appears that only certain pokemon can Mega Evolve when holding certain stones, but I’m not sure… I don’t know if you’ll find any use to it but I thought it suits you so…”

May smiled gently at him, “Thank you, for all of this…! It’s like a dream! A wonderful dream come true…!” saying that, she twirled once again on herself. Jirachi expression, however, became more serious.

Yes, my dear...But there’s one last thing you need to know… without counting tonight, in seven days, when midnight will strike its twelve bells, so that the eight one could begin, everything will turn back to normal. You’ll be once again the one you always have been. I suppose you know what this implied…?”

“That I have to be back before the change occurred, or at least, be away from any festivities so that no one could see the true me, right?”

Exactly. I don’t have enough energy to make all of this last a little longer, and I might fall into a deep slumber afterward. I’m sorry for that, by the way…”

“Don’t be! You offer me so much more hope in one single hour than I ever had in my whole life! Words are not enough to tell you how much all of this means to me…!”

Jirachi smiled at her, “Then if you’re happy, I am too. Plus, this week, I’ll never be far from you. Call me anytime and I’ll be here in the second.” he beamed a little before his eyes became wide as saucers, “Oh, by Arceus! It’s getting late! Hurry up, dear, the Battle Resort can’t wait! Have a good time: battle, be gay! Now off you go, You’re on your way!” and with a giggle, Jirachi disappeared in a million a tiny light, a chuckled left behind him.

A huge grin was painted on May's face. She quickly made her way toward a fallen tree in which she kept the very few amounts of money she had gathered over the years, and then she turned toward her pokemon who were waiting for her, excitedly.

“Now, guys, ready for the time of our lives?” a chorus of roars answered her and she put them into their Pokeball, except for Latias.

“C’mon, buddy, time to go to the Battle Resort!” she cried in joy while jumping on the pokemon back. She responded with a cry of her own and shoot out to the sky, taking with her the delighted laugh of her trainer and friend.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

“Now, children! Listen! Listen up to this old story! Listen to the tale of the Green Air Dragon and the Gold Hearted Man!”

Steven Stone smile slightly at the scene which unfolded in front of him. It was the last representation of the day, the sun had set for at least two hours. A bunch of children was sitting on the ground, watching with awe the storyteller narrated the tale on the sound of an old barrel organ.

It was a very popular tale, one that every people in the Hoenn region knew. Basically, it was about the two giant pokemon who nearly destroyed Earth in its earliest day: Groudon and Kyogre. Rayquaza soon appeared to stop their wrath but, with a careless mistake, was badly injured and nearly die. The story said that he was saved by a human man holding his heart on his sleeve. He took care of the flying dragon until Rayquaza was able to stop Groudon and Kyogre once and for all, sealing them in a deep slumber somewhere in a hidden place of the region.

Deeply thankful for the man kindness, Rayquaza blessed his blood and told him about a far away future he had seen. One day, Groudon and Kyogre will be awakened and will begin to fight one another once again. Himself (Rayquaza) wouldn’t be able to stop them immediately, as he’ll be in a deep sleep. Thus, he put in the man blood the Green Orb, the one which will be able to tame the two legendary pokemon furies until someone else awake him to stop the two titans fury once and for all. It was said that the said chosen child will know great suffer, yet still with their heart on their sleeve.

It was said that the legendary pokemon give the man one last information about the child, but it was forgotten as the time went by.

Steven always liked this story. But with the recent emergence of two small activist groups called Team Magma and Aqua, the Steel-type Champion couldn’t help himself but feel a thread of apprehension while hearing the tale.

He hoped that those activists wouldn’t be silly enough to awake the two Legendaries Pokemon.

Turning on his heels, he made his way toward the counter. “So, how was the day?”

“Great, Sir!” said joyfully the cashier, “We have sold all the tickets! Unfortunately, that means that we cannot afford to have more visit-” but his sentence was cut as a cry pierced through the sky.

Startled by the sudden sound, Steven tensed. Instinctively, his hand reaches to his belt, were his pokeballs where. And before he knew it, a flash a bright red flew in the sky above their heads.

He heard himself gasp as the said flash make a wide turn before slowing a little and land in the ground in front of him.

He blinked several times, not believing what his eyes saw.

Here. Before him. Latias.

And someone was riding on her back!

Gracefully, a little brunette climbed off the legendary pokemon and, after a pet on the head, holding a Pokeball to her and returned the pokemon into it. She dusted a little herself and turned toward the counter, where the cashier and himself were still staring at her.

A part of Steven’s mind told him to close his agape mouth.

The girl was, in honesty, beautiful in all her simplicity. A sort of aura emanating from her, giving her this stunning look, the mask she wore adding a touch of mystery to her.

She jogged in their direction and, once she was a few meters away from them, slow down.

“Excuse me, Sirs, but is it still possible to buy a ticket for this week ceremony, please?”

Steven blinked at her, her voice was soft with a slightly Johtonian accent. Still, he didn’t answer her immediately, as if he couldn't understand her words,  yet he had heard them loud and clear…

By Ho-oh, she has a sweet voice- Wait, what?! What am I thinking?!

He shook slightly his head to clear his thoughts. By his side, the ticket-seller was looking at the girl with a dumbfounded expression and then, with an afraid yet a little regretful tone, said

“I-I’m sorry miss, but I have sold the last ticket a few minutes ago… I-I’m afraid that it would be impossible for you to… participate.”

Steven saw the sadness crept upon the girl's face and he felt bad for her. “Really? But there might be another way…?” she asked tentatively,  “Please, I dreamed all my life to be able to participate at something like this…! It must have another way, right?”

Crap, I want to help her already, why? And most importantly, how?

It was at this moment that he remembered that his father had given him a spare ticket the week before, ‘so you’ll be able to invite a lovely young woman to come with you at the tournament’ he had said with a wink.

As much as his recent his father for not having been here during a vast majority of his life, he could have kissed him on both cheeks at this moment.

Because he had an unused ticket in his pocket.

“Actually,” he finally said, the mysterious brunette looking in his direction, “I have a spare ticket with me, one that my Father gifted  me with, and as I don’t have any use for it, you can take it, if you want”

While saying this, the steel-type Champion had taken the ticket out of his pocket, holding it to the mysterious brunette so that she could take it. The man at his side send him a relieved look before moving away from the pair, but Steven didn’t see it as his gaze was locked upon the young woman before him.

He couldn’t see her eyes through the fabric of her mask, but he could read the surprise drew upon her general features.

“Oh no, I can’t take it like this! It’s too much and you don't know me and-”

“It’s okay,” he cut her, “Plus, I prefer to know that it could be useful to someone else than stay in my pocket for the rest of the opening ceremony.”

The girl was unsure, he could imagine her gaze moving back and forth between the ticket and his face. Finally, she reached for it and took the little piece of paper between thin, delicate fingers.

“Thank you very much, Sir. You have no idea how much this means to me.”

“It’s always a pleasure to be able to help other people” Steven smiled at her, “But please, don’t call me Sir, I’m not that old, you know?”

The mysterious girl smiled back at him, “Well then, how should I call you? My good steel-blue haired Samaritan?”

Steven laughed at her comment, “May I say that you have a good sense of humor?"

“You may” she giggled, and the sound was like tiny tinker bells to his ears, “But, seriously, how should I call you?”

Ah. Steven wasn't prepared for that, and he had a nervous laugh, “You… You mean, you don’t know who I am…?”

She tilted her head to the side, “Should I?”

The Champion blinked at her, clearly surprised, but quickly composed himself, “You know what? It doesn’t matter who I am. My name is Steven Stone. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mademoiselle.” he said with a charming smile.

She blushed a little, “The pleasure is all mine, Mister Stone, or should I call you Steven?”

“Steven will be fine, but I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name. You are…?”

The brunette seemed a little ill-at-ease, “Well… About that… I prefer not tell it…” Steven looked surprised, “Why?”

“It’s… Kinda personal… You understand?” she really looked embarrassed and the Steel-type trainer decided to not bother more with the subject.

“Very well, Miss sans nom, I’ll not ask for it, I promised!” the relieved look she sent him made his heart beat a little faster.

Once again, her light giggled reach his ears and the twenty-four years old Champion felt warm spread across his chest.

Steven clearly wasn’t a believer of 'love at the first sight', still… There was something about this girl that made him want to simply fall for her.

He was sure that if he had the chance to see her eyes, he’ll be toasted.

That’s not the point Steven! Say something or she’ll think you’re a weirdo!

He coughed to compose himself, “So… Are you here simply for the opening ceremony? Or do you plan to participate in the challenge?” while saying this, he had begun to walk inside the Battle Resort, the mysterious girl following him,

“I’d like to think so” she rubbed the back of her neck, “I kinda came here on a whim, so I don’t know how it will work.”

“That’s the easiest part, you know? It’ll begin tomorrow, at the first hour. For the next four days, each challenger has to defeat the eight Hoenn’s Leaders, starting with Roxanne, then Brawly, Wattson, Flannery, Norman, Winona, Tate and Liza and finally Wallace. Defeat all of them and you’ll be able to move toward the second part of the Challenge: the Elite Four.”

Miss sans nom looked up at him with wide eyes, “Wow, that’s a lot of people…” she tilted once again her head, “I wonder how it’ll be to fight them…”

Steven laughed at her, “Nervous, aren’t you? Don’t worry! it’s the same feeling than battling any other random trainers, just harder.” he let a small smile grace his lips, “It’s a stimulating experience if you want my opinion…”

“I see… I hope I’ll be good enough for it then…”

“Are you kidding?” the Champion asked her, dumbfounded, “You befriended Latias, for crying out loud! And for sure, only strong trainers with a deep connexion to their pokemon are able to, dare I say that, approach a legendary! So believe me” and saying that he put a hand on her shoulder, “Even if I don’t know you, I’m sure that you’ll be more than enough for the Challenge.”

The girl didn’t immediately answer, her masked face looking straight at him with a shocked expression. Then, slowly, a shy smile made its way to her lips “... Thank you…”

He smiled back at her “You’re more than welcome.”

They walked in a companionable silence for a little while and finally, they reached the main place of the island. The night sky was illuminated by the light of the festivals that lingered between the building of the Battle Resort area, stands that offer different kind of activities, food or accessories for customers to buy. In the corner of his eyes, Steven could see that the girl was marveled by all the things that surrounded her as if it was the first time she saw something like this. In a way, Steven found this kind of cute, yet a little disturbing.

Because he had the feeling that the girl did actually know very few things about the world.

I wonder who she is and what she lived through to be like that…

He saw her yawn and Steven smiled a little at it, “Someone is tired, right? I can understand, flying a pokemon can be a very exhausting experience.”

“I suppose so…” she stopped to look around her, “Do you know where I could find a place to sleep? preferably, somewhere cheap, I don’t have a lot of money on me…”

“Don’t worry.” said Steven, “This ticket is a sort of a pass. Once you’ll be at the hotel written on the back, they’ll give you a bracelet that’ll allow you a free access to all options they provide, such as meals or grooming salon for your pokemon.”

She looked stunned, “That seems to be a very expansive ticket then”

“Believe me, you don’t even want to know.”

She looked horrified, “And you gave it to a complete stranger? What told you I’m not a kind of a crook?” she shook her head, “I think that I should return it to you. I can’t let you waste it for a complete stranger-”

“Please, don’t say that” he cut her with a soft voice, “I don’t think I waste it, as you said. I think I gave it to a very promising trainer and I hope that I’ll have the chance to see you rise through all the Challenge.” Steven stopped, “Plus, look. We are already at your hotel so now, go to the counter, register and then have a good night rest. You’ll need all your energy for tomorrow tournament.” And before she could say something, he took her hand and kissed her knuckles. He then looked up at her and gave her a smirk with a wink,

“I’ll hope that our paths will cross soon once again, Mademoiselle sans nom.” Then he left her, walking away with a quick steady pace.

Once he was out of her line of vision, Steven smacked his head against the nearest wall he could find, gaining a few odd looks by the passerby.

What did I just do?! Flirting with her like that after meeting her a half hour ago?! What’s wrong with me?! She didn’t seem to have reached her eighteen birthday yet!

He sighed deeply and let himself sunk to the ground, one hand on his forehead as a light blush tainted his cheeks.

Damn it.

As much as he hated to admit, he knew that the brunette will haunt his thoughts for quite a while now.

Little did he knew that the said brunette was still blushing madly for the next two hours after his leaving, even if a small smile was drawn upon her lips.

 

***

Chapter Text

 

oOoOoOoOo

Day One

oOoOoOoOo

 

May couldn’t believe her eyes, and before she knew it, a word escaped her lips, “Wally…?”

The green haired boy turned sharply at the sound of her voice, and shock covered his features, “May?!”

She nodded quickly and, before she knew it, she was engulfed in a bear-hug that she knew all too well, and she responded to it with all the eagerness she had, a giggle escaping her lips (it was a sound she was surprised to hear, as she never really had the chance to laugh back in the community)

The teenager finally let her go and looked at her, shocked. “But how…? I thought that those bastards had forbidden you from going outside their camp!”

She had a sheepish look “Well… They aren’t aware I’m here…”

He gasped, “What are you saying? How…?” then it was as if something had hit him in the face, “More importantly, what are those clothes? And the mask? Is that a Mega bracelet on your wrist?!” he took her by the shoulder, “May, you have to explain to me what is going on, okay?”

“Okay! Okay! I’ll explain, but please, in a more discreet place… It’s kind of… Weird, and I’m half convinced that the last few hours were just a dream, so...”

Wally sighed, “Fine. Come with me, I know exactly a place where we’ll be untroubled and out of any kind of eavesdropper, if it’s what you dread.”

And so, he took her toward what seemed to be an Ice Cream truck and after taking a little treat, Casteliacone from Unova, so sweet~!- they sat on a bench, a little away from the main way, and May began to tell the green haired boy the event of the last two days, Brazgot’s promise, her team who find pokeballs (and she had to tell him that she had befriended Latias) the confrontation against the community chief and how bad he injured her pokemon and then all that Jirachi had done for her.

(Still, she didn’t tell him about the Steven guy, how kind he had been to her and simply told Wally she had the chance to buy a ticket to a passerby who had no used for it. Why? She wasn’t sure herself).

Once she had finished, Wally looked at her with a dumbfounded expression. “And… You say that if you call for Jirachi, he will appear in the second?”

“Yes, but I think that I have to call him only, and only if I truly need him. I don’t want to do frivolous wishes or to call him only if I wanted to. He did so much for me and… I think that it’s the last thing I can do in return…”

“I see…” Wally said rubbing his forehead, “And… At the end of the week, everything will turn back to normal?”

May hummed, “I’ll have to be extra careful, I don’t want for the community to find out I’m here because I might be not cautious enough to mind the hour…” at that, she had a nervous laugh, crossing her hands before her in a nervous gesture. Wally put one hand on hers, giving her a soothing squeeze

“Everything's gonna be alright. We’ll do our best to make this week the best of your life! And…  even if you’re against it, I’ll do whatever it might take so that you’ll never have to live this hell once again, even after the end of the tournament”

“Wally-”

“May, don’t. The way you lived until now…” he shook his head, “It’s hardly what we could call a ‘life’... And what you told me? What they did yesterday? And for all the years before…? I know that they instilled fear in you and that you might be dangerous but… I can’t let you live like this longer, don’t you understand that you mean a lot to me…?”

May looked at her laps, at her shaking fists, at her best friend’s hand over hers, and let a teary breathe out of her lungs, “I know you mean well, but… I prefer to live free for only one week than for other people be hurt because of me… So, once the festivities are over, promise me that you’ll do nothing to ‘save’ me from the community.” she closed her eyes, “It’s the only way that I can be sure that no one will be hurt…”

Wally looked at her with a broken expression, “... You had those nightmares again…?”

A pause, “Yes, last night… And three last week...I don’t know what they are but they show me so much pain…” she hugged her midsection, a horrified expression on her face,  “I don’t think I’ll be able to handle something like this… So, I beg you Wally…” she looked up at the green haired boy with an expecting expression. Even if the mask covered them, the teenager was able to know that her eyes were full of tears.

He sighed and nodded solemnly, “I promise”

May smiled back at him, “Thank you” she murmured.

Wally had had a hard time dealing with his feeling for May, he had overcome them and even if his heart tends to hurt a little seeing her, he began to see her more like a sister he had to protect than a possible lover. He this idea didn’t bother as much as he had once thought.

They stayed silent a little longer, then Wally said, “So… You planned to participate in the Challenge, right?”

May beamed at him, “Yes! That’s why I’m here, so I’ll try to do my best!”

Wally grin wickedly at the seventeen years old brunette, “Then, do you want to battle with me?”

May gave him a wide-eyed look, “You want to have a battle against me?!” “Well, sure, so that I can see how you’ll handle them! Plus, you didn’t plan to challenge the Leaders without a minimum experience in Pokemon battles, right?”

The sheepish grin she threw his way was enough answers. The green haired boy sighed with a mock exaggerated exasperation. “May, May, May, What am I going to do with you, tell me?” he stood up,

“C’mon, we still have a full hour before the challenge begin so we have some time to do an express training!”

The young woman followed his lead, “Sir, yes Sir!” she said with a salute, then paused and with a serious face said,  “Hey, Wally?” “Yes?” “Could you avoid call me ‘May’ while other people are around? I don’t want for the community to find out I’m here…”

The other teenager gave her an understanding look, “I understand… How should I call you, then?”

May had to admit that she didn’t have to think about this. Then, a face, one that she just met a few hours ago, appeared in the front of her mind, a playful smile on his lips.

“Miss sans nom…” she finally said, then nodded, “Yes, call me like that. I think it’ll be the name I’ll give them for the tournament so…”

Wally blinked with surprise, “I didn’t know that you know few words in ancient Kalosian”

“Oh, I’m not. I’ve just heard those words once and… I thought they sounded good so…” she rubbed her neck, “However, I haven’t the slightest clue of what they mean…”

The green haired boy laugh at her, “Believe it or not, but that means literally ‘without a name’, quite fitting for you if you want my idea…!” he began to walk, “Now then, she should find a cleared space to battle, should we?”

“Sure!”

They made their way toward a clear space were other trainers were battling each other. Seeing their pokemon, May silently thanks Jirachi for making her pokemon a little stronger.

She wouldn’t have stood a chance against them, and she wouldn’t be able to participate in the tournament either. And so, she planned to live wholeheartedly this experience as long as she could.

“I think this place will be a good spot for training”, finally said Wally when they reached a void spot, “Just, can you wait a few minutes so that I can fetch an old friend of mine? After all, we need someone to arbitrate the battle!”

“Sure, I’ll wait here then!”

The green haired boy made his way toward the crowd and May looked around her. There were so many trainers and pokemon! She caught the sight of a battle, saw the determination in the trainers gaze, one that mirrors the one in their pokemon eyes, and the brunette felt a shiver of excitation run down her spine.

Yes, she had battle only one time and it had been a real disaster, yet, she had the feeling this time will be different.

Still waiting for her friend to come back, the masked girl continued to look at the face that surrounded her, until she spotted a familiar steel-blue haired head. His back was toward her but she recognized him nonetheless. He was talking to a couple, a man with short black hair with a black jogger and a kind of red jacket and, by his side, a woman that she assumed was his wife, a short brunette with a bun at the back of her hair wearing a skirt. Both seemed to be in their forties.

Oddly, they looked familiar, yet she couldn’t point out why. Still, a voice echoed in the back of her head. Her throat tighed as melacoly washed over her.

Maybe she was staring at them for a too long time because, at one point, the man looked up at her and simply froze. She knew that the mask she wore gave her a strange look, still, in the way his brows had furrowed, there was something more about him. Steven caught the man movement and turned his head toward her, finally spotting her. He began to wave a hand at her, but it was at this moment that Wally finally returned with a boy wearing a white cap on his head, snapping May out of the strange moment.

“Sorry for the waiting,” he said joyfully, “Now Ma- Miss Sans nom, meet Brendan, the Professor Birch’s son”

“Heya, Miss!” he extended a hand to her, “I didn’t know that Wally had other friends than me!” he said playfully. May giggled at the boy behavior and took his hand to shake, “Oh really? Man, I knew that Wally was shy, but the point of having only two friends…” she said with a wicked grin, making the cap haired boy laughed. Wally took a mock offended expression, “What is that now? You just meet and you’re already conspiring against me?” he shook his head desperately, throwing his hands in the air, “And for your information, I have a lot of friends!”

May grinned at him, “Yeah, if you say so…”

The three of them laughed, then Brendan said, “So, I heard that you want to battle a little before the Challenge begin, am I right? Then, we should start now before the beginning we have to sign in. So, a two vs two?” both challengers nodded, a determined grin on their face

Wally made his way toward one end of the place, a Pokeball in one hand, “Ready?”

May took one Pokeball of her own, tossing it in the air, releasing Mint, “As I’ll ever be!”

The green haired boy grinned at her and tossed his own Pokeball, a Gallade bursting out of it.

“Let’s the battle begin!” yelled Brendan

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Steven had felt a hint of jealousy seeing the no-name girl laughing with what seemed to be friends of her. Yet, he couldn’t remove his gaze from her as she battled the green haired boy.

He had to admit, the first rounds were painful to watch, the brunette was unsure about the battle in itself, not quick enough to give an order to her pokemon, as if it was one of the first time that she battled, which was strange, because her Sceptile seemed to be a strong one. Still, after a few minutes, she grew more and more confident and the green haired boy began to have a hard time battling her.

And so, Champion watched in amazement the girl overcome the green haired boy and, in the end, defeat his Gallade. The boy didn’t seem disappointed as a proud glint enlightened his eyes while tossing a second Pokeball, releasing a Delcatty. The young woman changed for a Mightyena.

Both trainers fought fiercely against each other, the girl’s uneasiness having totally disappeared, and Steven found himself unable to look away from the battle, as well as other passersby who shout at the two trainers encouragements.

In the end, the girl’s Mightyena was the last one to stand on the battlefield, the Delcatty falling from exhaustion. Everything was still for a few seconds before the young woman began to jump on her spot in joy and running toward her pokemon to hug it around the neck, “We did it, Shadow! We won our very first battle!” the Champion heard the girl said at her pokemon.

He frowned, First battle? What does she mean by that…?

The green haired boy returned its own pokemon, murmuring something at the Pokeball and walked toward his friend and giving her what seemed to be congratulation words.

From the corner of his eyes, his saw that Norman had pay a close attention to the battle too. As if he had sensed his gaze on him, the normal-type champion said, “That was an interesting battle, and I’m very pleased to see how far the little Wally had come” Steven guessed he talked about the green haired boy and Norman put a hand on his chin  “Then there’s the masked girl… First, I thought that she had never battled before, then the feeling was gone. She seems to be very powerful” he frowned, “But I can’t remember seeing her coming to battle me at the Gym, so I wonder if she’s from this region”.

“I talk to her yesterday” said Steven, “She had a slight Jothonian accent so I suppose she’s not a native.” he crossed his arms as a small smile made his way on his lips, “She also told me that she plans to try the challenge” he looked at Norman, “And I have to say that I have the feeling that she’ll be a tough opponent.

A glint appeared in Norman eyes, as well as a strange feeling that Steven didn’t recognize (something like recognition, maybe?) “Then, I can’t wait for her to challenge me.”

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

At the end of the day, May collapsed in her bed with a sigh of relief. Her team was relaxing in the PokeCenter of the hotel, having earned a good rest after today events.

After the battle against Wally, she had to go to a Pokemon Center before registering the Challenge. It had been with a sly smile that she had signed up under “Miss sans nom” pseudonym and, thank you Jirachi, no one had asked why or for her trainer card. And then, the Challenge in itself…

May let a wide grin spread across her face remembering the experience.

It had been so… Stimulating! The trainers that had challenged the Leaders were very strong, and she remembered shaking madly when she defied Roxanne when the field was clear. And, by Arceus, it had been a tough battle! Worse than the one against Wally! But then again, she had only fought two people before the Challenge, and those were the first she ever had in her whole life! Still, in the end, she had defeated the Rock Leader! And after that, she had challenged and defeated Brawly too! She hardly believed her luck! And all of this thanks to her pokemon team…!

… Still, she felt a pang of regret in her heart. If it hadn’t been for Jirachi intervention, she wouldn’t have been able to do so. She wouldn’t have been here.

She knew that she’ll never be able to push her team to their best while living in the community, and yet, she couldn’t leave it too…

Technically, you are leaving it for the rest of the week, don’t you? said a voice in the back of her mind. That was true, and she knew it’ll be so easy to leave them for good. Only one wish to Jirachi and she’ll be free for good, able to travel across the region, fight trainers, be herself without a mask, or a blindfold, to hide her from the rest of the world.

But she was dangerous. She knew she was like a time bomb, and that she’ll explode soon enough. And she didn’t want to hurt the one that she held in her heart, she might let her die instead of letting something so awful happening to them.

But now it’s not the moment to have bad thoughts! You still have six days ahead of you before you life returns the way it was before, so just… Live.

 May smiled a little. Yes, for once, maybe she could enjoy the present time, enjoy the wonderful gift Jirachi had given her.

Yes, she could do that.

And before she knew it, she was sound asleep.

 

oOoOoOoOo

Day Two

oOoOoOoOo

 

“I have to say, it had been a great battle,” said a voice in her back. May jumped at the sound of it before turning toward it, her gaze soon captured by hypnotic silver eyes, making her heart flipped in her chest.

Dang, it May! You should stop that! You talked to him only once in your whole life, so snap out of it!

Still, a small blush bloomed on her cheeks, “Oh, hi Steven! How are you?”

“I’m doing fine, and I suppose you are too?” May eagerly nodded at him, “Yes! I can’t believe I managed to defeat Flannery! I thought that her Torkoal would be the end of my team! If it hadn’t been for my dear Monster, I would have been toasted!”

Steven laughed at her pun, “And yet, you still managed to defeat four Leaders in one try, for each of them! Mostly, trainers have to do a rematch against them before they’ll be able to defeat them,” he gave her a wink, “So you have to be warned, Miss sans nom, the last leaders are already eager to battle you!

May paled at those words, “R-Really…? But, I’m not that special! Just a trainer like any other!”

“And yet, you never had challenged a Leader in their Gym before. For all we know, it’s the first time that you participate to a sort-of official League battles. You came out of the shadow and defeat Leaders just like that.” he shook his head, still smiling at her, “You have no idea of what impact you had on them.”

May blinked at him, having a hard time to assimilate his words, “Oh, by Arceus...I hope I’ll not mess up then!” she said while covering her masked face with her hand, “Don’t worry, even if you lose a battle, you still will have the possibility to challenge them in their own Gym!”

At this moment, and not understanding why, Steven saw May tensed and, by the general look he had of her face, he could imagine that she was lost in thoughts.

“Miss…?” she snapped back to reality, “Sorry I… Was somewhere else” she laughed with embarrassment while rubbing her neck.

Still, he gave her a worried glance, “Are you sure you’re alrig-?”

“Steven! You didn’t tell us that you have a new friend!’

Turning his head, May saw a duo coming their way, a blue-haired man with extravagant clothe and a shorter tanned skin woman. “Oh! But I recognize her!” continued the latter, “She’s the rising star of the tournament!” she held up a hand to her “My name is Zinnia, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance! Tell me, 'sans nom' is a weird name, it’s your real one or-?”

“ZINNIA!” cut the blue-haired man, “That was rude of your part!” he turned toward the young brunette, “Sorry for that, I’m glad to have the chance to finally meet you! I saw your performances and I have to say that I’m really eager to see if you’ll be able to reach me!”

May blushed a little, “Well, I hope then that I’ll be able to reach you, Mister…?”

“Oh! How rude of me!” the blue haired man said and the bowed at her, “My name is Wallace, the last Leader of this tournament before the Elite four challenge!” he took her hand in his and kissed it, “May I say that your quite a fetching young lady?”

She had a nervous laugh, blushing a little “Oh, hum… Thanks, I suppose?”

It was the second time that a man kissed her hand, the first time being Steven. And May have to admit that even if Wallace seemed to be a good person, and in all his oddities quite good-looking, she prefers when it was the silver-haired man who-

Wow! What are you thinking, May? Twice in a day, it’s not a normal reaction!

"Are you okay Steven? You seem a little tensed…” Zinnia voice brought her back to earth and the brunette looked at the said man.

His jaw was clenched and his knuckles bloodless. May saw a storm of emotion in his eyes, but she couldn’t quite determine what they were. Still, Steven jolted out of his thoughts at the voice and blinked several times, “Yes! I’m fine! Perfectly and utterly fine! I, hum… Have to go! Some business to do, so… I’ll catch you guys later!” he said in a sharp tone before turning his gaze on her, the look in his eyes softening ever so slightly, “And Miss, it had been a pleasure to have the chance to talk to you again. I hope that I will be able to do so soon enough.” and with that, he stormed away.

The trio stayed silent a little while. “That was odd…” finally said Zinnia, and May could only nod in agreement. Wallace, on the other, had a sly understanding smile on his lips as he looked between her and the path where Steven had disappear a few moments ago. She heard him chuckle under his breath.

Tellement prévisible…” he said, and May didn’t understand, tilting her head on one side, thinking back at Steven.

I wonder what could have made him so angry…?

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

The night sky was truly beautiful tonight, and Steven leaned against the back of the bench he was sitting with a long sigh. It was almost 2 in the morning and sleep eluded him.

I know someone that’ll need sunglasses tomorrow he thought dryly. Rubbing his eyes, he remembered the events of the late afternoon. Why did he have to lose it like that? He knew that Wallace was a flirt, still, seeing him acting like that with the masked girl had just pissed him off so much!

And, of course, his best friend had quickly understood it.

“I know someone who had it bad for a certain girl…!” “Shut up, Wallace…” “No way! It’s the first time that I see you react like that about a girl, you bet that I’ll be teasing you about it!” Steven had sighed, “Wallace, you assumed that I have a crush on Miss sans nom. Plus, even if it was the case, she’s too young for me, she hadn’t reach eighteen yet.” “I don’t think that seven years of age difference are a big deal” the Water-type leader had put a hand on his shoulder, “Steven, I saw the way you looked at her, so please, stop lying to yourself….” Another sly grin made his way on his lips, ”… And finally admit that you are in l-” but he hadn’t finished his sentence as Steven had punched him in the nose.

The Champion sighed once again. Now that he was alone, maybe he could admit that maybe he had eventually developed some feelings for the mysterious girl…

Crap that, at this point, it was a certitude! And that bothered him a lot. He didn’t know her, her true name was a mystery, she seemed to have popped out from nowhere and he didn’t have the chance to truly speak to her…

So why he was so attracted to her…?

Soft steps where coming down the street and Steven raised his head to see the newcomer.

Speaking of the devil.

There, walking with unsure steps, was the masked girl. She seemed to hug her midsection while her Sceptile was walking next to her. She seemed lost in a kind of a daze, and it was only because the Steel-type Champion cleared his throat that she noted his presence.

“Oh, hi Steven! I… What are you doing here at the time of the night?”

“I could return you the question” she smiled a little "Touché" she giggled and the young man continued, “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Me neither” and with that, she closed the distance between themselves and sit next to him on the bench.

The stayed silent for a little while, “ Wouldn’t you be too tired for tomorrow Challenge then?” he asked eventually. She simply shook her head, “Nah, it’s gonna be fine, I’m used to having short night rest…”

“Insomnia?” a paused, “No… Nightmares…”

Ah.

Before he knew it, he had placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, “Do you want to talk about it…?”. She bit her lips and let her head hung down. He heard a shaky breath being taken, “Well, I… I’m not sure…”

“I won’t press the subject if you don’t want to, after all, you barely know me, and it was improper to ask for something personal”

The masked girl shook her head, “No, it’s okay, really…” she drew a long breath, “I had this nightmare since as long as I can remember, still, I have a hard time to deal with it…”

The steel-blue eyed man stay silent, letting time to the girl to gather her spirits, and, finally, she began to tell her dream.

“It began with a view of Hoenn region, but from above, as if I was looking from the sky. Suddenly, light burst from somewhere in the open water, energy bursting out of it. A blink and I’m on the ground. In front of me, I can see two giant, powerful pokemon fighting each other, sending blast and attacks everywhere without minding their surrounding. In their fierce battle, they hurt a lot of pokemon and people… Unknown faces I saw scream, howl in despair…”

The Champion saw her clenched fist as she continued with her tale, “Storm is raging on, tearing the region apart, destroying towns, forests, cliffs… And at the same time, there’s this unbearable heat that consumed everything in its wake…”

“And people and pokemon are dying… I saw them drown in giant waves, swallowed by the water. I saw them burn in the intense heat, their skin melting away. The elements are clashing with each other in a deadly dance… And still, the two giants pokemon fought each other, and I can do nothing…”

“And then…” a sob escaped her lips, “Then I look down at my hands and I see blood stain have them, but not only my hands, but also my clothes, my face…” another sob, “People are dying in front of me, when I’m holding them and still…”

“I can do nothing…”

Steven saw the moment she broke and before another cry escaped her lips, he had her englued in a hug, his chin upon her head.

It was all that she needed and she cried her heart out in his chest. The steel-type trainer tried to soothe her shaken nerves the best he could, giving her all comfort that he could at this moment.

And one more thing to add at the list of the things disturbing about this girl was a thought in the back of his mind, but he ignored it for the moment as the masked girl continue to cry. By their side, her Sceptile looked at them with a pained expression, understanding his trainer distress.

It was after long minutes that the young woman began to calm her sobs and, once she had gathered her spirits, she broke away the Champion embrace.

Steven tried to ignore the feeling of how empty his arms felt now.

“Sorry about the crying stuff…” managed to say the girl while rubbing her eyes.

“It’s okay, you needed it, after all, there’s no shame about crying you know…” she gave him a small smile, “I have to thank you…” “For what?” “For comfort me earlier… I really need it…”

Steven felt a faint blush bloomed on his cheeks, “Then you’re welcome, but I prefer to be the one to thank you… For sharing your nightmare with me…”

Her smile grew a little more, “You know… It did me good to share it with some else for once…”

“You never talk about it to anyone before?”

She shrugged, “Well, I did mention them to Wally but I’ll never go into the details…” she looked up at him, a shy smile on her lips  “You should be grateful that I trust you so much with it then”

“And your trust is greatly appreciated,” he responded while smiling two.

And then, they stayed silent, looking at each other. Even if Steven couldn’t see her eyes, he still noted some details about her that he didn’t have seen before, such as the few freckles spread across her cheeks, the way her hair fell around her face in a charming way or the curved of her lips.

But with this small talk, he had the chance to learn more about her. The fact that she was a kind spirit with a sharp wit, he was already aware. But in the soft light of the night, he could see that she hide a deep scar behind her mask, and not only the one she wore on her face. He could see that she wore her heart on her sleeve too and that darkness was hidden in the depth of her soul.

And he could swear that he was more and more falling for her.

May, on the other hand, was also hypnotized by the man in front of her. Yes, he was good looking, but she found more interest in his soul.

He was a gentle person with a playful spirit, maybe with a little temper of his own too. The color of his hair matched his eyes, deepening their intensity, giving her the feeling that he could read into her soul.

She felt vulnerable in his presence, but also safe at the same time. And the feeling of his arms holding her…

Heat rose on her cheeks and she cleared her throat. “Well, hum, I think that I should head back to my hotel room then.” She finally said, standing up. Steven followed her lead, “Maybe I should come with you then?” he asked her too quickly. Seeing her surprised expression, he felt himself blushed, “I mean… It’s not safe for a young woman to be alone in the middle of the night.”

May could have argued that she had Mint with her, but she didn’t mind the idea of the young man to accompany her, “If it’s okay for you…”

They walked her back to her hotel and, once in front of the doors, they stopped in an awkward silence.

They chuckled in embarrassment, “Well, I hope I’ll see you tomorrow, then.” The masked girl gave him a mysterious smile. “I hope we will too. Oh, and, Steven?” “Yes?”

She made one step toward him and, rising on her tiptoes, kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you” she murmured in his ear and then she was on the other side of the door, leaving a dumbfounded Steven outside, the face flushed dark red, a silly smile painted on his lips.

 

oOoOoOoOo

Day Three

oOoOoOoOo

 

Daria made her way through the crowd, aiming for her husband as he healed his pokemon from the last match he had participated.

Norman had lost against the mysterious masked girl. The young woman had made quite a ruckus since an appearance at the Challenge. Yes, she wasn’t the only one to have made this far, but the fact that no one seemed to know who she was was enough to feed the common curiosity. And Daria would’ve lied if she said that she wasn’t intrigued in the strange girl too, but maybe not for the same reason that the other people.

This girl… She seemed familiar, in a way, but she couldn’t determine why. The middle age woman had noted her Johtonian accent, maybe it was somebody she had meet back in Johto? Before they moved to Hoenn six years ago?

“Daria? What are you doing here?” asked Norman who had spotted her. She smiled and gave him a quick peck on the lips. “I wanted to know how you’re dealing with your defeat,” she said with a sly tone.

“Frankly? I expected that. But it was a good experience. This girl had... Something in the way she battles with her pokémons that marveled me. I rarely ever saw a bound this deep between a trainer and his team at such a young age!” he chuckled a little, “No wonder she caught the Champion attention…”

Daria smile in return. She had seen the way the young Mister Stone was looking at the mysterious girl, never missing a battle where she was involved. It was… Touching.

Ah...The youth…

“Hey! Mind where you walked, jerk!”

The voice was harsh and Daria turned sharply on her heels, looking at the place where the shout was coming.

On the ground was the mysterious girl with, next to her, a green haired boy that she recognized as being Wally. It seemed that she had smashed against what could be only defined as a brawny man with a shaved head and an ugly scar cutting down his face.

The masked girl didn’t move from the ground, and from what Daria could saw of her face, seemed utterly terrified by the man, her face pale, shivers of terror running down her body.

“Why are you staring, dumbstruck?! Move out of the way before things turn ugly”

“Hey! Stop threatening her!” shout Wally at the man, his green-silver eyes sending knifes the shaved head man.

“Really? And you think that you scare me, runt?” while saying that, two other men joined the first one, cracking their fingers.

Daria felt a jolt of fear, as well of protectiveness, run through her and, instinctively, her hand flew to her Pokeball. Still, Norman was quicker than her.

“Is there a problem, Sirs?” he asked almost casually, walking toward them. Still, the Pokeball in his hand made his intentions loud and clear.

The scar-faced man snorted, “Just a dumbstruck that didn’t watch her steps, nothing to worry about”

“Really?” asked Norman, and his tone was as cold as the worst Sinnohan snowstorm. “Because I clearly heard you threaten this young girl and his friend earlier”

The ice cabinet glared at him and at the Pokeball in his hand, “Is that a threat?”

“Merely a warning from a Gym Leader.”

They scowled at him but quickly go away from them, not without one last dirty look toward the young woman on the ground. Daria quickly joined her husband and kneeled next to the duo on the ground, “Is everything alright?”

“...I think so…” managed to say the masked girl, taking a deep breath before looking up at Norman,

“Thank you very much, sir…”

“It’s okay. This kind of idiots who seems to believe that they’re above everyone else and thus are disrespectful toward them just itched my skin.” he then looked at the green haired boy, “Long time no see, Wally. How are you?”

He beamed at the Leader, “I’m doing fine! I can’t wait to challenge you once again this afternoon!”

The normal type laughed good naturally at that, “Well, I can imagine…”

Daria turned off her husband discussion with Wally as her focus was only on the masked girl. She helped her to stand and guided her toward a couch before giving her a bottle of water, “There, drink a bit, you should felt better”, “Than you, Ma’am” “You’re welcome dear…” responded the older one with a soft smile.

May found Norman’s wife aura soothing and couldn’t help herself than wondering if a mother presence felt this way too? She barely had any memories of her own parents…

“Oh, by Arceus! Dear, what is that…?” suddenly asked with horror the middle age woman and May looked down to see what had caused the other woman panic.

Ah, crap.

Certainly when she had crashed against Brazgot (she still shiver at the idea that he could have, without Jirachi spell, recognize her), a part of her shirt had moved away from its original post, revealing a part of her collarbone from where was emerging a bad looking scar. (Thanks Lugia, she hadn’t seen her back). Quickly, May rearranged her cloth, “Nothing” she mumbled softly.

Norman’s wife frowned, “Well, that didn’t seem to be “nothing” to me” She cupped her cheek, forcing her masked gaze to look at her, “Look honey, I don’t know you, you don’t know me and it’s the first time we talk, and thus, I won’t press the subject. Still..” she smiled sweetly at her, “If you have any kind of problems, you can come to ask me for help if you can’t find one in your own family, okay?”

May felt a knot forming at the back of her throat, still, she manages to croak, “Thank you…”

The middle age smile, “You’re welcome dear.” she smiled up at her, “Now then, maybe you should prepare yourself for your next challenge, right? you’re so close to access the second part of the Challenge, so no scruffiness, okay?”

She eagerly nodded, “Sure!”

 

oOoOoOoOo

Day Four

oOoOoOoOo

 

When Wallace last pokemon, Milotic, fell to the ground, May didn’t react immediately.

It had been a fierce battle, like all those she had before, yet this one had felt very important.

In front of her, Mint sent her a triumphant look, even if his limbs were shaking, and it was all that she needed to break out of her daze.

With a wide grin, and without minded the puddles, she ran toward her pokemon and jumped at his neck, “We did it, Mint! We did it!”

A chorus of joy followed her statement as the spectators of the battle raised from their sits to congratulated her in a thunder of applause. From the corner of her eyes, she could see Wally own wide grin as he sends her thumbs up.

After petting once more her dear pokemon on the head, she returned him into his Pokeball, next to her bone-tired team as she promised them that they’ll receive a special treatment once they’ll be back at the hotel.

“I have to say, Miss sans nom, that I had some doubts about you. And yet, I realize now your authenticity and magnificence as a Pokemon Trainer. I find much joy in having met you and your Pokémon.” he put a hand on her shoulder, “Now, the Elite Four Challenge is awaiting you, and you have to know that will be a tougher challenge! You’ll have to defeat the four of them in a row! But I would not worry about that if I were you.” He winked at her, “Now, you should celebrate your success over the first part of the Challenge! I can’t wait to see how far you’ll go into it!”

She smiled brightly at him, “Thank you” she said before turning back to here her friends were waiting for her. Wally was the quicker, taking her hands in his own. “I can’t believe you did it! I’m so happy for you!”

“Thanks, Wally! I hardly believe my luck, too…” she shook her head fondly at him, “Still, it’s too bad you lost against Tate and Liza…”

The green haired boy shrugged at her, playfully, “Blame it on bad luck! For this match, I could only use two pokemon, and if my Delcatty feint attack hadn’t failed, maybe I would still have my place in the challenge!” he squeezed her hands, “Still, I’m so happy for you! C’mon! Let’s get your pokemon healed, then we can celebrate your achievement, shall we?”

“Sure!” she said eagerly, following him while bouncing on her feet.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

May was walking toward her hotel when she crossed path with Steven. She spotted his silver head long before he saw her. Still, she let him do the first step.

“Good evening, Miss sans nom.” he said with a smile, and May couldn’t help but wondering what sound her real name would have on his lips, “I saw your performance today, and I wanted to congratulate you.”

“Thank you, Steven. I barely believe I’ve made it this far in the challenge!” she said while rubbing her neck.

“But then again, you haven’t seen the end of it yet. Tomorrow challenge will be a tougher one.”

“I heard that, yes” she chuckled softly, and Steven felt himself smile, “Hey, Steven? Can I ask you something?”

He tilted his head, “What is it?” “Well… I heard a lot about the Elite Four… Who are they? I mean…” she sighed, words failing her, “I mean… Until the beginning of the week, I didn’t have any knowledge about Gym leaders, and the Hoenn League and thus… I don’t know what expected tomorrow…”

Steven looked at her with wide eyes, “Wait a second… You mean that until now, you knew nothing about what a trainer life is?”

She nodded bashfully, not looking at him, “Where I come from… They didn’t think that it was useful to teach me about the trainer's way… That’s why I wore this maks, I shouldn’t be here and I can’t let them know that I am participating to the challenge…”

Definitely, there was something strange about this mysterious woman. And Steven couldn’t help himself but think about the words that Daria had told him the day before, what she had seen…

He clenched his jaws. Whatever this girl had lived through until now, it clearly wasn’t a pleasant experience…

Still, he knew that it was for the girl a touchy subject, and thus, they sit on a bench and the Champion took his time to explain to her how the League worked. (Still, he didn’t tell her that he was the Champion when he reached the subject, having the feeling it’ll be better for her to have the surprise).

He answered all her questions with patience, and the gratitude in her face (that he supposed was also in her hidden eyes) was enough to make warmth bloomed in his chest.

It took them to cover everything that seemed important, and the masked girl was about to take her leave when Steven stopped her, “I have something I wanted to give you…”

She turned on her heels to look at him with a puzzled expression, “Really?”

“Yes, hum… I saw that you have a mega bracelet…” instinctively, her hand flew toward her wrist, “I do… It’s a friend who gave it to me before I come here…” Steven chuckled, “I supposed so… It’s very uncommon to meet a trainer who had one, and I noticed that even if you had a Key Stone, you didn’t use a Mega Gem…”

She smiled bashfully at him, “It’s because I don’t have one…” and before she knew it, Steven had taken her hand in his larger one and put in it a green stone with a sort of slash of coral pink in it, “So here’s my gift: a sceptilite. Give it to your Sceptile and, if you had a bond strong enough with him, you’ll be able to mega evolved him during a battle…”

The masked girl gave him wide eyes and open her mouth to protest, but he held a hand to stop her,

“Don’t!” he smiled at her, “Yes, I know that I already give you a lot of things. No, it doesn’t bother me, after all, I don’t have a Sceptile. And finally, it’s the only way I found to congratulate you, so please, keep it, okay?”

She closed her mouth and shakily nodded at him before taking a step toward him and hugged his midsection. “Thank you” was her muffled voice, and Steven returned the embrace, “You’re welcome”

They soon returned to their own business and May walked into her hotel room, letting her pokemon rest and, after closing her door and shutter, could out with a tentative voice, “...Jirachi…?”

Light exploded in the room and then the star-shaped pokemon was there, smiling at her, “Hello May! I was starting to wonder if you’ll ever call me back!” she flew around her, “I heard about your exploits! Congratulations!” he stopped before her face, smiling at her, “So… Do you need something…?”

She shook her head, “Well, no really... But I wanted to thank you. For everything.”

Jirachi smiled wide a little more, “Really May, you don’t have too! I wanted to help you for a long time, you know? And even if it’s for a short time, I’m happy to see you happy!” and suddenly, he chuckled slyly at her, “Oh, and I saw that you have made new encounters…” he gave her a conspiring look, “So… This ‘Steven’ is kind of hot, huh?”

May felt her face burnt, “Jirachi!” she hissed between her teeth, and the mythical pokemon laughed at her, “Oh, C’mon! I know that you have it bad for him…!”

And the next minutes were full of a flushed face woman chasing a laughing shooting star across her hotel room.

 

oOoOoOoOo

Day Five

oOoOoOoOo

 

Brazgot looked at the pictures of the seven trainers that have qualified their team to the second part of the challenge, his gaze never leaving the masked girl one.

Who was she? She seems to be a pretty powerful opponent and still, no one really knew anything about her. She just popped into the competition and succeed in everything she did.

And the chief community couldn’t help himself but thought that he had seen this girl before, but each time he tried to remember, his memories were kind of clouded. He wondered if he would have the time to challenge her before the end of the week.

After all, one learned a lot about somebody else while they are battling. 

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

“Now, took a deep breath, okay? Everything is gonna be alright! And remember that if you lose, it’ll be okay!” Said Wally voice, trying to soothe a shaken nerves

“I know! It’s just…” she took her head between her hands “I don’t know why I’m so stressed about it!”

“Who would not be?” said a female voice in her back, and May saw that it was Zinnia, “After all, you’re about to challenge the most powerful trainers in all Hoenn Region!”

“Thanks, Zinnia, that was very useful,” said dryly Brendan as he gave a glass of water to the stressed-mess who was May at this moment.

The tan skin girl only shrugged, “I didn’t say that to discourage her, but only to tell her that is a normal reaction!”

A speaker in the back of the room trigger, “Challenger number four, Miss sans nom, your moment has come.”

May took a shaky breath and stood up, “Well, then, I’ll see you all later?”

“We will be waiting for you!” said Wally with a smile, “Break a leg!”

She laughed at him, “I’ll try to!” and she passed the doors leading her to a lift. She felt the mechanism shook under her feet and the platform rise until light invade her line of sight. She blinked several times as shout of joy could be heard. In front of her, a shaved man with a spot of red hair in the middle of it was looking at her with a challenging smile.

"Welcome, challenger! I'm Sidney, Congratulations for coming this far in the tournament!." May send him a determined look and the man chuckled, "I like that look you're giving me. I guess you'll give me a good match. That’s good! Looking real good! I heard that you were a tough challenger, so don’t get my hopes down!” he yelled the last part while tossing his first Pokeball in the air, quickly followed by May’s.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Steven was biting his nail while watching the battle that unfolded before his eyes. He could have watched it with May’s friends, Wally, Brendan and, surprisingly enough, Zinnia who had befriended her. He could have watched it with the other Leaders, but no. He had decided to watch it from the side lie, hidden in the shadows of the bleachers.

From where he was, he had a good view of the match without the risk to be caught by the trainers or cameras. And he was amazed by the masked girl skills in battling. She was dancing with her pokemon, each one of her movements seemed to be calculated, flowed with elegance. She was a natural, and her love for her pokemon could be seen in the way she worked with them.

She was truly amazing.

Even if the battle was tough, she won it in the end, and her pokemon were quickly healed before she had to head toward another part of the arena, where she would have to fight Phoebe, clearing the path for the next challenger who’ll have to face Sidney.

To be honest, Steven had been a little septic about the whole ‘one-week-tournament-to-do-the-whole-League-challenge’, even if he had worked on the project, but in the end, it had been a good experience for trainers, giving them the chance to prove themselves worthy, to push them to their limits, but also to revealed some hidden talents.

While he was solely focused on the girl movement, he barely caught the amazed gasp of the spectators when she had to released Latias to continue the battle against the Elite Four member.

Since the beginning of his own journey, once he had reached fifteen years old, the Champion had crossed path with hundreds of trainers, in Hoenn but also across the world. And even if he used his travels as a mean to explore more caves and study more stone, some trainers had marked his memories for their singularity in the way they battle, raised their pokemon or how they saw life in general.

If there’s one thing that his pokemon journey had taught him, it was to be himself and stop hiding behind the Devon Corp heir’s mask, the way his father would have like him to do. Because of all the trainers he had met, he had learned to be himself, and it had been as himself that he had taken the Champion title, refusing to follow his father steps, still undefeated even after five years.

The mysterious girl was truly a jewel. She was unlike any trainer he had met before. She seemed to know so little about the world, the way of trainers, and still, as she defeated Phoebe, Steven could see how a great trainer she was. Deep down, he knew that the girl will gain her matches against Glacia and Drake too, but he still watched them with a great interest.

Even if, in the end, this tournament wasn’t considered as an official League events, and thus the masked girl hadn’t truly won her badges, Steven reflected about the fact that if she managed to defeat him, he’ll gladly withdraw from the title, as he lived long enough with it, giving it to her, as she seemed to deserve it.

Still, he wouldn’t give it up so easily to her, he thoughts as a smile grew on his lips, watching Drake's last pokemon falling on the ground. She proved herself to be a great opponent, but she has to beat him too. And Steven swore to himself that he wouldn’t be soft with her.

 

oOoOoOoOo

Day Six

oOoOoOoOo

 

May fidgeted on her feet while waiting for her last battle. She would have wanted for Wally to be there so that she would have someone to talk with. But visitors were forbidden before the last battle, only the challengers, and so she had only herself and her thoughts.

She had to admit that she couldn’t believe that she had come this far…! it must be a dream, right? Jirachi never came to her six days ago and she will wake up in the community soon, right?

She, once again, pinched herself. Nope, it was real. And she was the only one to have defeated the four members of the Elite Four,

Crap.

She was going to challenge the Champion. She hadn’t has the slightest clue of who they were, but she had heard enough about them to be a little bit scared.

Oh, my Arceus… I’m going to challenge the Champion…!

She felt sick.

“Nervous?” asked a voice in her back, and she allowed herself a sigh of relief as she turned toward the voice. Steven looked at her with a soft expression.

“Who would be not? I’m going to challenge the most powerful trainer in all of Hoenn!” she chuckled nervously.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine. After all, you came this far in the tournament so I suppose that you’ll give them a run for their money” “I truly hope so…”

She was glad to see Steven before the battle. In a way, his aura sooth her in a way she could never have imagined. She felt safe and it was odd. She knew him for a very short time but she felt so secure in his presence. It felt so right…

“Miss…” said Steven posing a hand on her shoulder, “Whatever gonna happen in this arena, you have to know that you reached a great height and that you have nothing to prove anymore. People out there might have great expectations but… Fight, fight for yourself and your team. Fight to show to everyone how deep the bond you share with your team is.” he smiled softly at her “And… Sorry, it might be a little odd but I have the feeling that you’ll need to hear this… ”

“Fight to prove that you exist.”

He squeezed her shoulder one last time and turn on his heels, heading down the corridors as she made her own way toward the lift.

Those words… She had needed to hear them. Still, she had the feeling that Steven had wanted to tell her something else…

Wait a second...

Visitors weren’t allowed to come here, and Steven certainly didn’t go toward the exit…

Light flooded into her vision and she was, once again, back into the arena. On the other side, directly facing her was the Champion.

Oh crap. Oh, Arceus freaking crap.

Steven stood there in all his glory, the sunlight reflecting upon the rings at his fingers and the steel bracelet that decorated the end of his sleeves, his dark purple suit fitting him as always. His deep steel blue eyes looked straight at her and she felt her heart shiver.

Steven is the Champion, and I’m going to battle him…

“Miss sans nom! You have been a great mystery for all of us since the beginning of the tournament. You defeat each Leader and each Elite Four member in your way to glory. But there’s still one opponent that you must defeat.” he took one Pokeball into his hand, “You and your team, you are so different from any other trainers that I met before in my life. That’s why I wanted to know more about you in this battle” while he was speaking, she had reached for a Pokeball of her own, even if she could feel herself shiver, “Now, show me! Show me the true strength of your bond with your pokemon!”

He tossed his first Pokeball in the air as she did so, releasing their first pokemon. They barely heard the arbitrate yelled ‘Let the battle begin!’ that they already were shouting orders to their pokemon.

It was an intense battle, and the two trainers pokemon were equal in their strength. Everyone watched the battle unfold while holding their breath. Leaders and Elite Four member appreciate the beauty of two skilled trainers battling each other.

Wally watched it unfold from the front line of the breachers. His eyes were full of tears of joy.

This look on May's face… It was one that he barely ever had the chance to saw before. For once, she was enjoying herself. And he was happy for her, even if he knew that everything will end tomorrow night, once midnight would strike.

His gaze moved toward the Champion. He had seen that he and May had, against all odds, become closer during the last few days, and the green haired boy had recognized the look in the champion eyes, a look that he once had for the young brunette. But this time was different because the said brunette seemed to return it too.

May had forbidden him from trying to help her, but maybe… Maybe he could ask the Champion…?

Yes, it would be betraying the girl trust, but he couldn’t stand to see her suffer longer than she already had, right?

Shouts brought him back to reality, and Wally realized that time had flown as the two trainers were fighting each other for almost two hours. Sweat covered their forehead as they drew their last Pokeball out.

From Steven’s burst, a Metagross while from May’s her dearest friend Mint.

“This battle is becoming more and more interesting, and I have to admit that you’re a tough opponent, still…” his hand flew to his chest where a brooch was, taking it off of his clothing. May's own hand went to her wrist, where her Mega bracelet where and Wally stiff in excitement. If they’ll going to do what he thought, this battle gonna have a very interesting end…

“I won’t let you win this so easily!” shouted the Champion while activating his Key stone as May did the same.

Roared of joy echoed through the arena as the two pokemon mega evolved in the center of it. And then, the battle went on as the two trainers, as well as their pokemon, throw all of themselves in it, trying to take the upper hand on the other as their pokemon clashed each other. But in the end, they both get tired, even if they wouldn’t let the other win.

Then, the last attack. There was a huge clash and all the arena was clouded in smoke. When it dissipated, one pokemon was on the ground as the other stood above him, victorious.

Sceptile laid on there, out of cold. Metagross was shivering from exhaustion but didn’t move. The arbitrate declared the battle end.

May had been defeated. Wally gazed move to her best friend, not trusting what he would see.

There was joy, acceptation, and pride for her pokemon. Not one bit of deception in her masked face.

She returned her Sceptile into his Pokeball and made her way toward the center of the arena, quickly joined by the still-undefeated Champion. They exchanged a few words, smiled at each other and shook hands before exiting the battlefield by different side of it.

The green haired boy made his way toward the backstage, hoping to caught May to congratulate her for this battle, even if she had lost.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

May was tired, her battle against Steven had exhausted her, still, shivers were running her back from adrenalin. And even if she had lost, a smile painted on her face.

This battle had been so different from all the others…! Steven strategy, his bond with his own pokemon… Everything about the duel had been a great experience and May was happy that she had the chance to challenge him before Jirachi’s gift end. She walked through a door and was almost immediately engulfed in a powerful embrace.

“You did a great job! This battle was awesome!” rang his best friend voice in her ears and May let out a laugh as she returned the hug, “Thank you, Wally! Yes, I agree with you on that! It had been one of the best battles I ever had!”

The green haired broke the hug to let have some air, “Still, you’re not upset to have loose?”

She shook her head, “Not at all! It wouldn’t have been fun if I had won all my battles! I’m just happy that I had the opportunity to battle the Champion before…” her voice trailed at the end of her sentence as her general look became more distant.

Wally took her hands in his. “We don’t have to talk about it now, shall we? Why don’t we just go healed your team and then celebrate it? The tournament had officially ended and thus you don’t have to do any battle tonight neither tomorrow. And I don’t think that you get the chance to enjoy the festivities, right?”

May eagerly nodded at him, “Sure!”. On those words, they made their way toward the exit.

 

oOoOoOoOo

Day Seven

oOoOoOoOo

 

It was nearly five in the afternoon when May crashed into her hotel room and fell straight into her mattress. Wally’s laugh was following her as she groaned into her pillow, “Well, I’ve never imagined that you could run so fast May” he said while closing the door behind him.

“Shut up Wally” she croaked turning on her back, looking at the ceiling. “I don’t know why these journalists couldn’t leave me alone for one minute! It’s not as if I have won the tournament after all!”

“Still, you managed to give a run for his money to the Champion. Plus, you didn’t give any pieces of information about you. Add the mask on top of it and you’re the perfect enigma for the media to decrypt!”

She slapped her hands on her face, growling, “Don’t remind me! I have just hope to enjoy this last day by doing funny stuff and they just wouldn’t leave me alone…!”

Wally laughed once more, “Granted for you, there’s still the ball tonight and security will be twice as important than the other day. I bet that Steven had put a good word to the head security so that no camera would be allowed!”

“... The ball…?” asked tentatively May, “There’s a ball tonight?”

“Yeah, sure! It’ll act as a closing ceremony for the tournament and then the Battle Resort will run the ‘normal way’ it should, without all the challenge stuff- oh.”

“Yes. Oh.” she rubbed her eyes, “There’s no way that I can go to it! I might lose track of time, and then everyone would see me with my cursed eyes and…”

“May…”

“By Giratina’s distorted hell! The community ! They’ll be here! No! it would be too dangerous!”

“May…”

“Maybe if I go now, then-”

“May!” cut Wally, and the brunette shut her mouth. He sighed in return, “Look, the ball should begin at six and a half pm, thus you’ll have more than enough time to enjoy the party and then go without raising a ruckus before midnight. Plus, I’ll be here to remind you of the clock, if that can help.”

May sit on her bed and looked at Wally who was sitting on a chair next to the desk, “Okay, you’ll be here to remind me of the hour. Still, it might be a boring event, right? Can you give a least one reason to go to it?”

Wally gave her a sly smirk, “Well, Steven would be here, and I’m sure that you’ll find him stunning a tuxed-” a pillow send straight into his head cut short his answer, and he laughed at the red face girl expression.

“There’s nothing funny about it!” she hissed between her teeth

He laughed even more, “Oh, believe me, there is!” he put the pillow on her laps, “And don’t dare tell me that I’m wrong at guessing that you might have feelings for him?”

She stayed silent for a little while, “And if it was truly the case? Doesn’t it bother you?”

The brunette heard him sighed and the next moment, he was sitting on the mattress next to her. “May… I admit that once I had feelings for you but…” he shook his head, “That’s in the past. I’ve changed and I realize now that I prefer to see you as a dear friend, or even a sister, than a possible lover. You mean a lot to me, sure, but it’s different now…” he squeezed her hands, “You deserved a chance at happiness so don’t let some time limit stop you, would you? You can enjoy one last good time, right?”

She held her head down and let out one more sigh, “Fine, but can you tell me how I should dress? I don’t have a ball gown!”

I think that’s where I have to intervene!” tinkled a voice in front of them

“What the heck was that?!” shouted Wally, jumping on his feet, and May laughed by his side, “Don’t worry Wally!” she said as light flooded the hotel room before sending a mock-angry glare at the light before them, “Just a friend who didn’t know how to make a quiet entrance!”

 

The light faded revealing a star shape pokemon who flew directly toward the brunette, stroking his cheek against hers. “May! I’m so happy for you! Even if you lost in the end, it was a wonderful battle!

“Thank you so much!” beamed the girl at the mythical pokemon

May” squealed Wally's voice and the masked girl turn her gaze toward it, as well as the pokemon.“Oh dear, I was rude, didn’t I?” saying that, he flew toward the green haired boy and bowed before him, “My name is Jirachi and, as you know, I helped her so that she got the chance to lived this week as a pokemon trainer. You are her best friend, right?” he asked

The young man numbly nodded, “Y-Yeah! My name is Wally!” he tried to bow too, “Nice to meet you!”

The Psy-steel type pokemon chuckled at him, “You’re funny! I think I like you!” he chirped before turning toward May, “Now then, I heard that somebody needs help with the ball, am I right?

The brunette blushed, “Well, yes but… You already did so much for me and-”

Jirachi groaned, “For Arceus and all the legendary pokemon freaking sakes! Don’t. Worry! It’s totally fine and I think that we should get back to work now if we want you to be prepared for it!” Jirachi then turned toward Wally, “I’m sorry but I would feel better if you could… err, leave this room, please?”

Wally blinked at the star shape pokemon, then shook his head, “Y-yes! sure! I have to get ready too so…” he waved at May, “I’ll see you later then?” the brunette waved back “Sure!”

And with that, the green haired boy exited the hotel room while mumbling nonsense about the craziness of the situation.

“Is a good fellow, right?”

“Yeah. He’s the only friend I have and the closest thing that I’ll ever have of brother”

Jirachi hummed, “I understand… Still, we need to prepare you for tonight!” he winked at her, “And I know a certain silver head prince charming that will more than happy to have a chance to dance with you!

May blushed hard, “Jirachi! Stop saying nonsense! There’s no way that Steven will-”

Yeah, yeah, and I’m the king of Kalos!” he giggled as some light appeared between two tiny hands, “Now, I think that this shade of red will gracely fit your pretty face…”

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Steven was taking a sip of his drink when Wallace came to greet him.

“Well, seems that the League had pull out all for this event!” and Steven laughed dryly,

“If only…” another sip “In fact, it’s the Devon Corp, meaning my father, who financed the ‘closing’ ceremony, meaning the ball. ‘This way, you trainers could learn how to enjoy yourself outside of battling each other’ he said…” and Steven sighed, “... I supposed that, in the end, was a good idea. I didn’t really get the opportunity to see the Leaders or the Elite Four for that matter, truly relax for a long time…” he rubbed his eyes, “The team Aqua and Magma problem was truly tiring and this week had been a good break to everyone, so I suppose I should be grateful to my father, next time I’ll see him.”

“And you forget the most important part about this ball stuff.” said Wallace with a sly grin, “You’ll get the opportunity to see your girlfriend in a gown dress”

Steven should have know better than take a sip of his drink when his best friend had begun to talk, but still, he did. And he almost choked with it in the end, as a red taint colored his cheeks. “Wallace! Would you stop?! This is getting old!”

The gym Leader smile grew even more, “No way! It’s just too funny to see you so embarrassed!”

Steven huffed good naturally, still sending glares to his friends before making his way toward buffet, leaving his glass for an amuse-bouche.

“Steven, how are you tonight?” asked a voice in his back, and the Champion turned to greet Norman, looking a little uneasy in his black suit, his wife by his arm, wearing a well-fitting green dress matching the handkerchief at her husband chest. “I’m doing fine Norman, and you? I didn’t get the chance to see you in the last two days.”

“We’re doing fine,” said the normal type trainer, “We took some husband-and-wife time after the end of the first part of the tournament.” as those words, he sent a loving look to Daria, “Still, we had the chance to see your battle against the masked girl. And I have to say it had been a breathtaking one.” he shook his head, smiling “And still, you remain undefeated. How long will last your reign?”

Steven chuckled, “Until someone defeats me, for sure. But still, I have the feeling that I will not last long if the mysterious girl decides to challenge me once again. She was a tough opponent and I’m sure next time, she’ll be tougher.” and his gaze had become soft while saying that, a look on his face that the couple in front of him didn’t miss.

Daria sent a knowing look toward Norman and saw that he had thought to the same thing. She held back a giggled, asking instead, “Speaking of the devil, shouldn’t she be already there?”

Steven looked at his watch, “Well, it’s only seven and a half and the party only begin, so I suppose it’s only a… Matter... Of… Time…”

His voice had failed him at the end of his sentence as his gaze had moved from his watch to the couple before him, to the main door of the ballroom, where the mysterious brunette had made her entrance.

The first time he had met her, he thought that the girl was pretty. Then, he got the chance to know a little more about her and he had fallen for her inner beauty.

Still, seeing her tonight had been what sealed the spell she had put on him.

She truly was gorgeous. The shade of red of her dress was, somehow, deeper than any kind of red he had ever seen before. The cloth in itself was quite plain, nothing extravagant. Still, the fluid fabric of it flooded upon her form, seizing her perfectly as translucid sleeves covered her arms. On her waist was a white belt with a ribbon and on her neck a pearl necklace. From where he was, Steven could saw shining points glowing on her dress under the light of the chandelier -precious stone?- making her gleam in the soft light, enhancing the deep Key Stone color on her wrist. Her hair was pulled gracefully behind her head and fell in soft waves upon her neck. The mask on her face was still the same but its color seemed to have deepened.

He must have been staring for a long time, because he could clearly hear the smirk in Norman's voice, “Steven? Skitty got your tongue? You should close your mouth before you swallowed a fly.”

The Champion quickly shut his mouth and coughed, face flushed. “I- err… I still need to, ah, greeted some trainers so I’ll leave here! I hope to have the chance to talk later if it’s okay?” and with that, he began to walk away from the laughing couple.

“And don’t forget to ask her for a dance, would you?” send Daria to him, and he quickened his pace, trying to ignore the heat on his face.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

May had to say that she was not really used to people staring at her like that. When she had walked in the room, she had instantly spotted the silver color of Steven haired (he was talking to Norman and his wife) when his own eyes had caught the sight of her.

She couldn’t define what she had seen in his gaze, but she had felt herself burn inside as butterfly were dancing across her chest. Something that Norman said to him seemed to have startled him out of his daze and the Champion had rapidly turn away from her.

She had to admit that he was stunning in his black tuxedo too. She didn’t get the chance to admire him as Wally had come to her side to compliment her about her looks, those at what she answered that he was not so bad too.

May was happy to see that no journalist was there, or at least, camera were all in one corner of the ballroom, taking a few peaks of the general atmosphere.

Even if she still had an eye on the clock, May allowed herself a sigh of relief. And thus, she decided to enjoy the few hours she still had.

She learned that the true ‘dancing’ stuff will only begin at ten pm, allowing the guess to eat a little before. She discussed with a lot of trainers that wanted to ask her some question, other autographs (!) (which she declined… After all, the community never learned her how to write, barely to read so…).

She greeted some Leaders or Elite four members, get the chance to talk a bit with Zinnia and Wallace or to be more acquainted with Norman and his wife (Daria), people that she couldn’t help but have the feeling to know, somehow…

But even as she did her best, she didn’t catch a glimpse of Steven since she had first seen him in the ballroom.

It was almost ten when a voice called for her in her back. “Miss?”

The tone was cold, and May felt shivers running down her spine as she turned her heels toward the voice. In all honesty, she wasn’t surprised to see Brazgot here, even if she had hope to not crossway with him.

Through all the week, she had caught glimpse of all members of the community and it had relieved her in the fact no one had return the camp yet, and thus, no one knew that she was there. Still, if she didn’t respond now, the man might get suspicious, so she answered, trying to hide the fear in her tone

“Yes, Sir?”

 

“I just wanted to have a chance to talk with you, and congratulate you, for that matter. After all, you have been quite a phenomenon since the beginning of week…”

“Oh really…?” she hissed between clenched teeth as fear built up inside her chest. “Well, then I supposed I have to say thank you then…?”

The man nodded sharply, “...But also, I have to say that I’m quite intrigued. Each time I saw you, I have the feeling that I already meet you before, strange, isn’t it?”

She palled a little “Ah…? Maybe you mistake me with someone else? Because I don’t know who you are and you remind me of no one, so…” But Brazgot didn’t drop the subject. In fact, an angry glint seemed to enlight his eyes.

“You know, all this ‘mysterious girl’ shit maybe should, I don’t know, end now? After all, the tournament had ended and so, you don’t have to hide anymore, right? Right?!” the shaved man took one threatening step forward.

“Sir, you’re scaring me…” said May tentatively, taking a step back in return.

“Maybe I am, and I promise you that I’ll stop only if you take this mask off so that this irritating confusion feeling I have each time I see you would just vanish!” he nearly yelled the end of his sentence and brought attention on him. May was still stepping backward. “Sir, please. Calm down…”

“I would certainly not…” he hissed between clenched teeth while reaching a hand to her face, for her mask, if it hadn’t been for another hand to take his arm before he went too far.

“Sir, I will ask  you to leave this young lady alone before we have to take serious measure.” said coldly Steven voice as his grips on Brazgot arm tightens, “I’m sure that you would prefer to avoid an altercation with the security, right?”

The scar-faced man sent glares to the Champion who didn’t flinch a bit then shook his arm off of his grip and walk away from the pair. Steven turned a concern glance to the brunette in front of him, “Are you okay?”

May took a breath to compose herself a little, “Yes, I am now. Thank you for helping me.”

“You’re welcome. I heard this guy and some of his friends where causing ruckus through all the tournament but we didn’t have enough clues to send them away so they stayed here. I’m sorry if this guy had importuned you.”

“It’s okay, Steven. I’m fine now” she said while slipping a strand of hair behind her ear. And Steven could see the lipstick tainting her soft-looking lips.

He coughed.

“By the way, you looked beautiful tonight.” and May blushed, “Well, huh, thank you, Steven. I have to say that you’re quite elegant too.”

They stood awkwardly in front of each other, not quite sure of what to say, a faint tint of red gracing their cheeks.

Music flooded toward them as the clock struck. It was ten pm. Some couples began to reach the dance floor and dance in rhythm with the waltz that swam through the ballroom. Steven, after a few seconds, extend a hand to her, “May I have the pleasure?”

Her masked face looked down at his hand, then to his face, a dumbfounded expression on it. Steven didn’t move a bit, dreading inside the moment she’ll decline his offer.

So, when her hand slipped into his, he was surprised.

“I’d love to.” she murmured, blushing a little, and he tightened his hold before guiding her toward the other twirling pairs.

When they began to dance, time become a foreign concept as she lost herself into the deep of his silver-blue gaze. They swirled in harmony and, in the corner of her eyes, she was barely aware of the thumbs up Wally send her or the sly-knowing smile that Wallace sent toward Steven. Then, one dance became two, then three. Then she lost the count. Steven hand on her waist send jolts of electricity through her all body and she was drowning in the soft look of his eyes.

Their dances were often punctuated by stop by the buffet where they talked to each other, sometimes with other people, or trainers, or friends, before returning to the dancefloor for another round. The smiled at each other, they flirted shamelessly too, and May enjoyed every bit of this moment.

Between the Champion arms, she felt safe, and she didn’t want to lose this warm ever again…

May! The clock! It’s almost midnight! came the alarmed voice of Jirachi inside her head and, shaken, the brunette simply stopped doing what she was actually doing, at this moment, dancing.

Steven looked down at her, puzzled, “Are you okay, Miss?” but she didn’t respond immediately, looking around her with anxiety. “Y-yeah! I’m fine! Just… Would you happen to know what time is it, please?”

The Champion blinked at her before looking down at his wrist, “Well, it’s 11:59 to be exact” and hearing this, horror made its way on her face as the frown on the steel type trainer increase.

“I have to go” she murmured while taking a step back, still looking around her for a clock. Steven caught her hand. “Already? But-” still, she waved away his hand, her gaze moving across the room with panic.

“Y-You don’t understand, I have to go now… Before…! Before…!”

Finally, her eyes found the giant clock of the ballroom with, next to it, Brazgot who looked at her with a suspicious angry gaze. Already, she made her way through the crowd who had simply stop their dance to watch the unusual scene unfold before their eyes.

Steven caught her by the shoulder, “Please, can you at least explain to me what’s going on-?”

 

First strike.

 

May felt her blood froze inside her veins and, with a quick movement, she drew away from him. “Don’t!”

He blinked at her, “What…?”

She looked down, “I’m sorry” she murmured.

 

Second strike.

 

Her hand flew to her hips, to the ribbon where her pokeballs were hidden and she tossed it into the air, releasing Mint.

 

Third Strike.

 

 “Use Leaf Storm to clear the way!” and before anyone could truly react, leaves were flying inside the ballroom. Screams could be heard as Steven put an arm before his eyes to protect them.

 

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Strikes.

 

The masked girl ran through the cleared path, heading straight to the nearby window. Steven quickly followed her, one hand on his own pokeballs, his brain having a hard time to understand what was happening. From the corner of his eyes, he could see that Norman and Wallace were heading toward the window too.

 

Seven Strike.

 

“Use Leaf blade on the window!” she shouted, and the pokemon broke the glass, sending shards everywhere.

 

Eight Strike.

 

She pulled out of her hidden pocket a wooden flute. But doing so, her Sceptile’s pokeballs fall from her hips and rolled on the ground, toward Steven.

 

Ninth Strike.

 

She began to make a movement toward it before retained herself and moving back to the window, seeing how close he was.

 

Tenth Strike.

 

The flute came to her lips and soft tune could be heard. Steven had stopped to take the fallen Pokeball, was it used to be so worn? he wondered before looking up at the mysterious girl.

 

Eleventh Strike.

 

A flash of red flew through the window, Latias! recognized Steven, and the masked girl jumped on its back, her arms extended toward her Grass pokemon. A Treecko jumped into them.

Wait… A treecko?!

 

Twelfth Strike.

 

Steven barely reached the broken window when the girl, her pokemon, and Latias disappeared into the night sky. He quickly glimpsed a worn hand-made white dress, messy brown hair and two huge, frightened big sapphire blue eyes.

He stopped running, knowing that Latias was far to fast for him to catch, not with the pokemon he actually had in his team. Next, to him, Norman and Wallace were also looking at the sky before them.

“What has just happened?” eventually asked the water-type trainer.

“I have no idea,” said the Champion, holding tightly the lost Pokeball inside his hand.

“Is that…?” began to ask Norman and Steven turned his gaze toward the older, “The girl treecko’s Pokeball, yes.”

“Wait, Treecko?!”

“Yes, a treecko. And I don’t understand how a Sceptile can turn back into one of his past form…”

Wallace looked through the broken window, toward where the masked girl had disappeared, “So, what do we do then?”

Steven sighed, “I don’t have the slightest idea, but this” he looked down at the worn Pokeball, “And this is our only clue to tracking her down.”

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Somewhere in the Hoenn sky, one of the two Eon pokemon was flying through the night. On her back was a trembling brunette holding tightly a little treecko with a twisted tail.

May’s heart was beating fast, from fear but from excitement too. She nearly missed the timeline and still, she couldn’t wipe her smile off of her face.

This week, this evening! Everything that had happened until now had truly been a dream coming true, and even if she had to wake up, she knew that she’ll hold those memories close to her heart now.

From the corner of her eyes, she saw that Mint was still holding the Sceptilite that Steven had given her, and the Mega Bracelet was still on her wrist, its keystone gleaming softly under the star’s light.

So maybe she had forgotten about everything, even the time, but… It was so wonderful…!

The tournament! The battles! The chance to pass more time with Wally, meet all those awesome people…!

And Steven…

Steven.

May shook her head. It’s over now, she had to remind herself. Still, looking at her Mega Bracelet, the only remaining Jirachi’s gift, she couldn’t help herself but murmur to the night sky “Thank you. Thank you so much, for everything.”

 

oOoOoOoOo

Chapter Text

It was everywhere on National TV

“The mysterious girl made a Cinderella Escape at the closing ceremony’s ball of the Battle Resort!”

“The scene could have been taken from a fairy tale. While the mysterious trainer, who was at the center of all the attention, was dancing with the famous Steven Stone, Champion of the Hoenn Region and heir of the Devon Corporation,  she had made a quick, yet tumultuous escape once the clock strikes its twelves bells. And in all her Cinderella glory, la belle left behind her not a slipper but a Pokeball”

“Soon after, there was an investigation about the mysterious girl information, and it was revealed that when she registered, she didn’t present her trainer ID card! How she slips through the security system is still a mystery, but the League had declared that they wouldn't stop until they found her so that she has to defend herself for breaking the Trainer’s law, mostly for the illegal training of pokemon without an official license.”

“Teams are combing through the all-region looking for any kind of clue that could lead to the girl arrestation.”

“We will keep you updated, so continued to follow us to learn more about this Masked Girl mystery!”

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

When the community had come back from the tournament, hours after she had returned, she tried to act as if everything were still the same, and in a way, it was the case because she still feared a vast majority of them. Still, she couldn’t hide her smile when she thought back to the wonderful week she had lived, earning her some “punishment” for her strange behavior.

Still, when night came and she was alone on her bed, she took the Key stone bracelet out of his hiding place and hugged it close to her, the cold emanating from the stone comforting her.

Brazgot, on the other hand, was really, really suspicious. The fact that he almost recognized her back at the Battle Resort plus her strange behavior could be enough clue for him. But no, he needed one last evidence.

It was three weeks after the incident that one of his right-hand men brought him what he was looking for.

“Sir, one of the journalists who were on the scene caught this with his camera. I had a hard time to retrieve it but I think that’s what we were looking for.”

Brazgot took the picture in one hand. It was blurred, a take-in-the-moment shoot. Still, Brazgot could see that the mysterious girl clothes were changing to something else that he was almost sure to recognize. Her brown hair hid her face as she extends her arms to the jumping treecko.

The shaved man took a close look at the pokemon, approaching the picture from his eyes, then he saw it.

The treecko had a twisted tail. And Brazgot knew only one person who had a Hoenn starter who matched the one on the picture.

His hand crushed the picture and he stormed out of his house.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Everything hurt.

May was doing some chores when Brazgot had caught violently her arm, throwing her to the ground before yelling at her.

He knew.

She hadn’t tried to deny, as he gave clues to prove his point. He insulted her as the rest of the community came too to watch at her pitiful state. Her blindfold had been removed from her head at one point and, for the first time in fourteen years, she looked at his face directly in the eyes. And she held her gaze high, straight into the chief’s eyes in defiance as something began to burn inside her.

For a second, Brazgot had truly looked terrified by her, but it had been only a second. The next one, he had sent his pokemon on her.

Then, she didn’t fully remember what happened, except that it hurt and please, make it stop!

Arceus seemed to have heard her plea because Brazgot had stopped attacking her. But he hadn’t finished with her yet.

She felt people took her from under her shoulders and bring her somewhere in the back of the campsite. It took her a few moments before recognizing where they were leading her, and she tried to break free from their hold, but she was too weak.

The hole-like-oubliette was wide open, its darkness ready to swallow her, and she didn’t want too! She cried, she begged but nothing could stop Brazgot fury. She was violently tossed inside it and her teary eyes looked up at the oubliette entrance.

The shaved and scared man gazed down at her with pure hatred, a sadic twisted grin on his face.

“Maybe now you’ll finally learn where your place is…” he said coldly before walking away from the trap door.

May cried for mercy one last time, but they didn’t acknowledge her. The next moment, darkness was all that flooded her vision, and the nightmares were back.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Steven sighed one more time, stretching his back. Norman, Zinnia, Wallace and himself had finally reached Verdanturf Town. It had been almost one month and still, no clues had been found about the masked girl.

Each airport and seaport were required to send them a notification if they learn something new. Plus, Steven had sent a mail to each region's Champion to keep an open eye to any suspicious trainer that might come to their respective region.

The lost Pokeball was like a dead weight in his pocket as they walked into the town. And while looking at the three people accompanying him, Steven felt relieved inside. Steven had to admit that he might not be the most, err, diplomate when it was about asking people information. In fact, he hadn’t had any clue of how to interact casually with other people before meeting Wallace, thanks to his father and his “home-learning-process” which had atrophied his skills in social context.

But he had to admit that Norman volunteering to be a part of his team had been quite a surprise, not that Steven would ever complain, as the Gym Leader was quite an easy-going person.

Now that Verdanturf town was before them, Steven realized that it was the last town in all Hoenn they had gone through in their quest for the missing girl. And seeing the town size, he had the feeling that their chance to find her now was close to zero. But they had to try nonetheless.

As always, they asked passerby if they have heard about the girl if they knew something or had any clue that could lead to her. But as always, they faced a dead end.

They finally reached the last house and it was with no more hopes that Steven knocked at the door. Light steps as well an “I’m getting this auntie" was heard before a late-teenage boy opened the door, pausing while seeing them. The Champion eyes went wide. But…! He’s May’s best friend, isn’t he?

Norman was the first to spoke. “Wally! I wasn’t aware that you were here! Visiting your uncle and aunt, I presume?”

“Yes, Mister Norman” he quickly answered before moving his gaze on the three others, “Look, I know why you are here and I want to ask you a few moments so that I can get my back and my pokeballs with me…”

Steven frowned, “Wait, what are you-?” but the green haired boy had already turned on his heels.

They faintly heard him climb the stairs before running them down, telling his family he had to go and that he wasn’t sure to be there for dinner, and then he was outside, locking the door behind him.

“Now Wally, could you explain to us what’s the meaning of this?” asked Norman, following the younger one as he had already begun to walk toward the forest.

“It’s easy. I lead you to where I used to meet May before the tournament stuff”

“May..?’ asked Wallace, puzzled.

The green haired hummed in response, “Yes, May. It’s the masked girl name. I know her since we’re both ten.”

“And it didn’t occur you that maybe you should come to us too, I don’t know, tell us what you know about her?!” snapped Steven to Wally.

He flinched, but continued on his way, “Well, I couldn’t. I promise May that I never would say a word about her to anyone.” he took a shuddering breath, “The masked she wore, it wasn’t only to hide who she was, but mostly to hid her eyes.”

“Why should her eyes have to be hidden?” asked Zinnia, and Wally looked over his shoulder to answer her, shrugging,

“I have no idea… The only thing I know is that her eyes are apparently cursed and that she had caused a lot amount of pain before. That’s why she has to stay hidden because she’s apparently ‘dangerous’...”

The other four looked at him with wide eyes, having a hard time to understand what he was saying.

Wally shrugged once more, “Yeah, I know how it sounded, but she is persuaded of it, and the guys from the community are too and took a great care to beat this idea in her…” and Norman realized with horror what the younger boy words meant, as he remembered Daria talking about the scar she had seen on the girl's chest.

“... And you know where she is now?” finally asked Wallace, and Wally send them a pained expression,

“That’s the problem. You see, we used to meet here twice a week, “ he said when they stepped into a small glade, “And for the three weeks that followed the tournament’s end, she didn’t miss a meeting but…” he took a shaky breath, “But one week ago, she didn’t show up. I waited for her almost six hours before I decided to go home. It was at this moment that…” a ruffling sound came for the nearby bush and three, first state pokemon came out of it. In the corner of his eyes, the Champion catch a glimpse of red inside the water stream and Steven knew that those pokemon, once full-evolved, were May’s pokemon.

“What happened…?” finally asked the silver head man, but it wasn’t Wally who answered him.

Well, this d-day, the man with the scar burst out of his home and just began to yell at M-May…” wept a feminine voice in his head, and Steven supposed it was the little Ralts who used her psychic abilities to communicate with them, “But then, he stopped yelling and a-attacked her with his pokemon, and then he threw her into a bl-black hole after separating us from her a-and he took Mint with h-him, and we don’t k-know where Latias is a-and we’re so scared” finally cried the pokemon before sobbing once more, Wally cuddling her little form before standing up.

“When Aurora told me about this, my first thought was to go there and save May, but then again, I’m only one trainer and they all have pokemon. I wouldn’t have stand chance. When I heard that you didn’t go through Verdanturf Town yet, I decided to stay so that I could catch you to explain to you all of this.”

Zinnia held a hand before her, pinching her nose-bridge, “Okay, this is totally weird! C’mon! How can you explain to us that those pokemon,” she made a general wave of the hand toward Wally, “Were the powerful ones she had back then? How did she just slipped through the security system?”

Wally smiled a little, “That’s easy. It was all Jirachi doing.”

There was a long silence.

“For Arceus fucking sakes...” groaned finally Zinnia

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

May always had been afraid of the darkness, because it reminded her about the shadow that lurked in the corner of her mind. She didn’t know if she was sleeping or not as she had lost track of time. Still, Latias was by her side, as the community hadn’t found her last Pokeball, and was doing cooing noise to soothe her shaken nerves. But no matter how hard the Eon pokemon tried, she couldn’t appease the broken trainer.

Flash from her nightmare where plaguing her mind, and she felt her entire being fell into an abyss of despair.

She saw Hoenn, if not the world, being destroyed before her own eyes, she felt countless life slipped through her fingers like sand as she desperately tried to find a way to save everybody but, in the end, it was hopeless. Everyone was dead, and it was because of her.

No, my dear...

A voice broke through the darkness and the brunette clenched onto Latias's feathers “W-Who’s there?” she asked tentatively, looking around her in the darkness but seeing nothing.

It’s not and never will be your fault… continued the gentle voice as a face appeared in front of her mind, a man with ginger hair, tan skin, and blue sapphire eyes, with a tint of red in them…

Just like her…

They tried to break you, my dear, but you prove them wrong. You prove that you were stronger than that… and May had the feeling of a comforting hand on her cheek, I’m sorry but your problems will not end right away, but I can promise you that your pain will end soon enough and that you’ll be able to save the one you love, as you already did before…

“What do you mean by that-?” but then, the darkness dissolved, taking with them the strange man face, and the next moment, she was inside a wide room.

A small girl was playing on the ground with a plush Pikachu and she heard steps coming from the kitchen behind her to the main room. The air was filled with slight salt-smell.

“Mommy!” said joyfully the little girl as the older woman came to her, grabbing her into her arms to hugged her., “My little sweet Haruka…” murmured the woman, rubbing her cheek against the little girl hair.

May gasped when her gaze fell upon the woman face. It’s Daria! Norman’s wife…! But then, this girl…?”

“Mommy, your hair is tickling me!” laughed the three years old girl in her mother arms and Daria let the child go. It was when May got a good sight of the little girl. She was a little brunette all smiling, pink-cheek and ponytail. But there was one thing that hit her like thunder.

Her eyes… They were unmistakable… This child, Daria and Norman’s daughter… has the same sapphire blue eyes with the taint of red inside them…

It was her…

I’m their daughter… was the thought which came at her, and everything seemed to click into place.

She once had a family, a family that loved her. But then, when happened…?

The room’s windows were suddenly broken as a hooded men came into the house. May heard herself cry in Daria’s arm as they were both encircled. One of the intruders came close to the older woman, and the Leader’s wife only hugged her daughter closer. “W-Who are you? W-What do you want?”

The man chuckled and began to speak, “Sorry for coming through the window, dreadful etiquette, we know…” she stepped closer for the pair, “Ma’am, if we’re here is only because we have to take your daughter with us.” and May felt her blood froze. It was Brazgot!

Daria’s eyes grew wide, “No!” she stepped back, “Don’t you dare come any closer or…! Or I’ll scream!”

Brazgot shook his head in mock sadness, “I’m sorry, but we cannot accept any form of refusal, in fact…” a man came behind the older woman and took a good grasp on her arms, “You’ll have to comply or things might turn dirty…”

But haven’t said her last word as she struggled against the men attempt to stop her, holding a scared Haruka against her chest. Still, she was all alone against them and, at one point, Brazgot get a good hold on the little girl and, tearing her off her mother protective embrace, and from the momentum, Daria crashed straight into the wall behind her, from her head coming a loud ‘Thumb’ before she fell on the ground, unmoving.

Everything froze. The hooded men just stopped moving as little Haruka went still, a sob on her lips as her eyes fell onto her mother’s unmoving form.

“Mommy…?” she murmured, but the woman didn’t answer. Panic grew into her chest, as well as anger for those mean men who had hurt her mother!

She cried, and energy burst out of her little body. Green light enveloped her mother body and she vanished (to reappeared outside the house). The blast was so powerful that it broke every windows in the town, making the earth shook. Gas canalization didn’t bear the assault of energy and just exploded, starting a fire in and outside the house.

The hooded men had been knocked on the ground, and Haruka struggled to get out of her captor’s arms. But she was too weak as she had used too much energy at once. Brazgot  shook his head and get on his feet, barking at his men “We have to go outside, NOW!”

Climbing over the window he had gone through earlier, he took out of his pocket a little remote as well a little tissue with an odd-smell. He put the later on Haruka’s nose and pressed a button on the former once we were sure he was far enough.

The bomb he had placed on the house wall exploded and it was the last thing that little Haruka saw before fainting.

The vision - memory, faded away and May was once more in the dark oubliette. Still, the strange man was still with her, in the back of her mind. Tears were streaming down her face.

I’m sorry you had to live through that, Haruka, or should I could call you May? but she didn’t respond, too shaken by what she had just seen. The man put a hand on her cheek once more.

I’m sure that you have a lot of question, but I can’t answer all of them. Still, you have to know that you’re special and that you never were a danger for anyone. In fact, you protected the one you love, and you’ll have to do so  once more in the near future…

“Y-You said that before… But what does that mean…?”

The man only smiled at her, I suppose it’s easier to show you, right? and a new memory unfolded before her eyes. But it was not hers.

Storms were ragging on. Heavy rain poured down from the sky as unbearable heat consume the atmosphere. Two giant best were fighting each other, destroying everything in their wake.

Groudon and Kyogre, Primal Reversion forms millennials ago, when the first men were trying to live on Earth…

Suddenly, light break through the sky and its dark clouds and a giant dragon lizard-like pokemon descended from it. Both Groudon and Kyogre stopped in their mindless battle, Rayquaza presence taming them for a few moments but then, the launched attack at him and the legendary pokemon, badly damaged, crashed into the ground, and the two pokemon resumed their feud.

May surrounding changed and the next moment, she was where Rayquaza had fallen and saw how injured the legendary was. Behind her, precipitate footsteps could be heard and a man ran past her toward the pokemon broken form.

I was watching the duel when Rayquaza appeared. And it was my own stubbornness that allowed me to help it, as the other people from my village tried to stop me.

The vision faded a little, and May caught glimpse of the man healing the legendary pokemon, of a green glowing gem that the man used as a pendant and which was gifted to Rayquaza. The said gem gained new power and allowed the Green Dragon Pokemon to get a new form. May saw how he saved the world by stopping and sealing away the two feuding pokemon.

Alexander…” was a sudden soft voice, and May turned on her heels, Rayquaza facing her in all his glory.

Well, not her but Alexander, the man from the memory, “Yes?”

You saved me when I was in need and, by your gift and your care, you gave me enough power to stop Groudon and Kyogre to destroy the world, and for that, You have my eternal gratitude. And so, you can ask me one thing. Name it and I’d grant you the wish that your heart desire” And May could felt the smile tugging at Alexander's mouth,

“Our land knows now peace. That’s more than enough and more than I could ever hope for. Seeing my home safe from any danger… It’s all I’ll ever need…” he shook his head, “There’s nothing that I want, so “Thank you” is the only thing that I wish from you.”

May could see the fond smile on the legendary face, “You truly have a pure heart and your answer doesn’t surprise me. Still…” the giant pokemon leaned toward him, “I’ll tell you about a far away future and your duty would be to make sure that the story lived through time until it becomes true.”

One day, selfish people will awaken both Groudon and Kyogre, thinking pridefully that they could control them.” he sighed, “Unfortunately, I would be able to stop them, as I will be in a deep slumber. That’s why I put in your blood this…” and from the giant pokemon body came out a glowing light that dissolved in Alexander skin once it touched it. “This is the Green Orb, it held in its deep a part of my power. The day the two beasts will be awakened, one of your kind will stand against them, taming their power until someone else, dear to your heir’s heart, wake me up so that I could seal them once and for all.” he gave the man a sorry look, “Unfortunately, the chosen will have to live great suffers as people will fear their power, but I can assure you that, in the end, everything will turn all right…” Then the pokemon seemed to remember an important thing, “ Oh! And for the chosen to be recognized, your kind have to know that they’ll bear the same eyes as your: saphirre blue with swirling taint of red inside.’’ 

And then, the two friends said farewell and Rayquaza returned to the sky.

The memory vanished and May was once back in the dark. Latias nudged her side as May's eyes looked without blinking in front of her, tears on her cheeks. Alexander presence had faded from her mind but she knew what his main goal had been.

She was the one who would have to tame the legendary beast. And the nightmares weren’t products of her imagination, they were a forewarning of Hoenn’s darkest hours in millennials…!

May suddenly felt the weight of the world’s fate on her shoulder. She broke into sobs once again, one plea resonating in the dark around her.

“Please, somebody help me…!”

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Steven had to grit his teeth to not behead one of those pretentious assholes in front of him!

Almost two hours ago, their little team of now five had reached the community realm, thanks to May’s Ralts indications. They had been greeted coldly by the people of the remote community and their Chief, the man that had to threaten May back at the ball, came in front of them and claimed to be the victim in all this affair!

He dared to claim that May was one of them and had stolen some of their pokemon for the tournament! And that she experienced to make them stronger! And to support his point, this Brazgot guy had to show them the little treecko, Mint if Steven remembered correctly, saying that the green pokemon was his, and thus that they don’t have to look any longer for the Pokeball owner. 

And the worst part? They didn’t have any proof to compromise him.

“Maybe we have found the Pokeball owner” finally said Zinnia, “But we didn’t find the girl yet, and the main goal of this expedition was to bring her back with us so that she can answer a few questions…”

The chief had snorted, “This girl is under our jurisdiction and so we are the most capable person to know how to deal with the problem.”

“Still, she caused a problem in a League-” began the tan skin woman but he cut her once more.

“Moreover, why should we explain ourselves before a Draconidian girl? We part way with your kind years ago and we don’t want to deal with any of you!” Brazgot looked at Steven, “So Sir, you might be the Hoenn Champion, but here, we asked you to respect our rules or things might turn dirty”

“Is that a threat?” asked Norman, and the shaved man smirk at him, “Barely a warning”

Zinnia bit her cheek. Those guys knew about her people? But how? He said that they separated from them…

Her eyes became wide and words escaped her lips, “But I know you! Nanny told me about those fanatics that split from our community twenty years ago!” she looked at them with a frightened expression, “She told me that you wanted to control some legendaries! And that you know how to!” she shook her head, “And it was just under my nose! How could I not recognize you from her description!” she tssked, “I knew this all shit means troubles but knowing that you’re implicated in, that makes a lot more sense!”

Brazgot expression became darker as the member of the community slowly encircled them, “You were just too foolish to understand! You only aspire to protect the legends, to make sure that everything goes following the fate plan!” he shook his head like a madman, “But if our plan works, then we could control fate! Groudon and Kyogre awakening would not be inevitable! We would be able to control the way of the things! And you were too foolish to understand that!”

Steven palled at those words, “You’re all mad… And what do you want? Awake yourself the two legendary beasts?”

Brazgot crooked a smile at him, “No, we’re not that foolish. We plan to let someone else doing it and only then we will take the control of them…”

“And how? As far as I can remember, the legendary pokemon have a mind of their own!” shout Wallace at them, making the Chief laughed, “Maybe, but we have a key… And the fact is that if you look deeper into the things, you’ll already know what I mean”

Wally, who had stay a little behind all along, tilted at the man words, remembering his best friend words.

Because of my cursed eyes…

“It’s her…” he murmured slowly, before raising a horrified gaze at them, “You plan to use her to achieve your goals aren’t you…?”

“Diling, diling! Give this boy a price!” said dryly Brazgot, before moving a hand to his belt, “But, unfortunately, you know a little too much about all of this… Now, we have to take care of you… What a shame…”

Steven own hand flew to his pokeballs, looking carefully around him and had to retain a groan. They may be the most stronger trainers in all Hoenn, but they were outnumbered. And the community member didn’t look like amateur either.

This gonna be bad…

But then, a thought flew into his mind, as well as a sobbing voice. A simple, heartbreaking plea…

“Please, somebody helps me…!”

He blinked, not understanding what just happened as the other didn’t seem to have heard it, and it was at this moment that a white, blinding light flooded into the campsite.

They have to protect their eyes from it, but it quickly dissolved, revealing a small, star-shaped pokemon who murmured in a yawn, “...May…?”

“Jirachi!” exclaimed Wally and the pokemon looked at him, frowning.

“...You’re May best friend, right? Wally, if I remember correctly? By the way, where is she? I heard her in my sleep calling out for help but…” then the legendary pokemon seemed to take notice of the whole situation and his eyes darkened, “Oh, I see.”

“Please, Jirachi!” said Steven, and the pokemon looked at him with a puzzled expression, “May is in danger! And in pain! And you’re the only one who could help her! Please…!”

But Jirachi didn’t react immediately, only looking at him with a strange expression.

You… You’re kind of special, aren’t you?” he closed his eyes for a second, “... I remember. We’ve met before. He was hurt and you wish for him to heal..” he open his eyes to look straight at the unmoving Champion, “And now, you’re connected to him…” he smiled,  “He never forget you, you know?” and Steven blinked at the pokemon, not understanding what just happened.

But then, it was as if the harsh reality of the situation came back at Jirachi as he turned slowly toward Brazgot, “And you… You’re the one who hurt May, right?” he said coldly, “You believe that she deserved to be treated like this, maybe…? And I know what you plan to do…” hissed the legendary between his teeth. “HOW could you EVER believe to be able to tame Kyogre and Groudon fury with such selfish hearts of yours?! How DARE you make suffer Rayquaza chosen?!” yelled the pokemon at the top of his lungs, and yeah, maybe he was small, but Jirachi was truly terrifying in this instant.

Even if he was mostly known for his ability to grant wishes, people tend to forget that he was not only a psy type pokemon but also a steel one.

And at this moment, his voice was harder than any metal that ever existed on this Earth.

Brazgot, as well as the other community members, had just frozen when Jirachi had appeared, and the chief seemed to recoil while the pokemon approached him, floating dangerously low. “Now then, dumb face, where is May…?” but Brazgot didn’t answer, dumbfounded “Where. Is. May?!” yelled Jirachi and the man jumped back in fear.

“S-Somewhere! I-In the village oubliettes!”

“And where are they?” asked Wallace, approaching the chief leader, “Where are those oubliettes?”

Brazgot had a small, twisted smile, “We could only know where they are only if we let them a little open, but for her audacity, we choose to sealed her away. Those oubliettes had been made by a powerful psychic pokemon years ago! Once closed, there’s a confusing feeling that prevents anyone to find them!” he had a maniac laugh, “Now, I wish you a good time to find this pathetic, little freaking monst-” but he didn’t finish his sentence as Jirachi let out a frustrated cry out of his body and all the community members were knocked out of cold in the blast.

Fuming, Jirachi closed his eyes and tried to analyze his surrounding. “Damn it, they weren’t kidding… I can’t feel her…” he hissed between clenched teeth, visibly pissed.

“But… There’s must be a way, right?” asked Wally and Jirachi looked sadly at him.

“I wished there were but…” his voice trailed off on his hand has his gaze fell upon Steven who went still. Unknowingly, his hand had come to his chest as distant cries echoed in his head. Jirachi smiled widely at him. “That’s it! You’re going to help us to find her!”

“Wait, what?!” asked the Champion, dumbfounded and Jirachi hummed. “Yes! May was Latias's friend and there’s no way that she leaves her in her time of need! And now I know for sure it’s the case!

Norman looked at the pokemon with a frown, “Well, maybe but how this information could help us?”

Jirachi giggles, still looking at Steven “Well, this man had, years ago, saved Latios from a bad situation.

Steven blinked at Jirachi. He had totally forgotten about the incident, as it just kicked back into his memory, and the pokemon smile became even wider, “Don’t worry if your mind is playing tricks. Latios being shyer than his counterpart, he preferred to take some precautions” he floated toward him, “As one of the Eon duo, Latios has the power to communicate through telepathy, and thus, connect with people. As you bound with him, and as he had kept the bond, you’re able to ‘feel’ some of his thoughts. And he seems pretty worried, didn’t he…?

Steven paused for a second before nodding slowly, “Yes… He’s worried for someone dear to him…”

Jirachi hummed, “That must be Latias.” he shook his head,  “After all, if it had been one week since May disappearance, then it had been one week since Latios had lost Latias too… And as May is connected to her, you may feel some of her thoughts too…”

The Champion blinked a few times, “That… makes sense, in a way. But it’s still a lot to take into account…” he murmured, looking lost.

Zinnia threw her hands in the air “That’s it! I quit! This is just becoming fucking too odd for me!” and Wallace laughed at her reaction “I can understand!”

Wally stayed silent a few moments, “So… If you’re connected to Latios, Latios to Latias and Latias to May, then…” he made a general motion toward Steven, “Maybe you should err, try to call out for him? I heard that the two were deeply connected to each other so maybe, if Latios is close enough, he could find both of them?”

Jirachi nodded, “Yes...That could work…” he looked at Steven, “Could you call him for us, please?

The Champion looked back at him with wide eyes, “And how I do that?”

It’s easy. Reach inside yourself and then things will be clearer!”

The silver-haired man sighed while closing his eyes, “This is madness and I have totally lost it” he murmured, trying to do as Jirachi had say.

At first, Steven felt silly because there was nothing there. Then, he heard them again.

The sobs.

And so, he concentrated on them and soon enough, everything around him vanished in nothingness as he came closer and closer from the cries.

There.

Steven wasn’t sure how to describe what he saw but it was clearly there, the link that bound him to Latios. He wasn’t sure of where this certitude came from but he didn’t think twice when he reached for it.

Latios? Are you… Here? It’s me, Steven, do you remember?

A faint shudder was his answer, meaning that the Eon pokemon was far away from him.

Listen. I need your help to find someone dear to me, and I know that if you help me, you’ll be able to find Latias too. Because they are together…

A silent, then … Really? ...Owing where… y are?  was a voice in the back of his mind, and Steven had to contain himself from jumping in surprise.

Y-yes… That’s why we need you there because you’re the only one able to sense them in the end.

I’m coming, was the quick answer and Steven hadn’t the time to tell him where they were as he felt Latios pulled on their link to track them back. Steven helped him, nudging it too. It was only a matter of minutes before a flash of blue past before them, taking a wide turn before landing in front of Steven.

The Champion blinked at his majestic, remembering the first time he had to meet him, how much he was scared and yet impressed by the Eon Pokemon.

Still, a familiar feeling settled into his chest and he broke out a small smile, “Long time no see my friend…” he managed to say, and Latios nodded back at him, his eyes gleaming too,

Long time, indeed. I’d hope it would have been under different circumstances.” his gaze turned serious, “You tell me that I could find Latias here, where is she?”

“...That’s the crux of the problem. We now that both her and May are somewhere hidden here but…” he sighed, “The chief of the village told us that a powerful psy-type pokemon a put a sort of… ‘seal’ to where they are so that no one could ever found them…” he reached out a comforting hand to Latios, “And we know that you share a powerful link with Latias and that you were still able to sense her feelings. Now that you’re closer to her actual localization, maybe you’d be able to find her?”

Latios looked down at him, nodding slowly, “I might be able to, yes...Fine, I’ll try, because it’s the best clue I have to find my dear Latias so…” he closed his eyes and nudged at their link, “But I’ll need your help too.” he felt the confusion in the trainer before him and answered before he asked, “You’re linked to me and Latias to your friend. And you have a link with this “May” too so you’d  able to ‘increase’ my ability…

Steven blinked at him, “Fine, I’ll do my best then.” and he sat next to the Eon pokemon and, together, they began to track down May and Latias.

Norman had watched the strange scenery unfold before his eyes in astonishment. Seeing Jirachi then Latios in a one day was not something anybody could be proud of. But he had to admit that this whole situation was utterly crazy. And while the Champion and the Eon pokemon were… Meditating? he thought back at what had pushed him to be a part of the search party.

This May… He didn’t know why but she had caught her attention, as well as Daria’s. She felt so achingly familiar that it brought back memories that he thought he had mourn years ago. But the wound was still there, and the normal-type Leader wanted answers.

Finally, something happened. Both Steven and Latios jolted out of their meditating states and, with a shaky breath, the Champion stood up, extending one arm toward a certain point behind a tent, between the roots of a giant oak.

“There!” he said, taking a few steps forward, “They’re… just… there…” but he fell forward and his face would have planted in the ground if Wallace hadn’t caught him in extremis.

“Hold on for a sec, Steven! Even Latios didn’t move so don’t be too hard on yourself! You’re exhausted! We’re taking care of this.”

And indeed, Norman was already at the point that Steven had indicated, looking into the roots to see if he saw something odd.

There, a handle.

The older one reached for it and pulled the metal thing with all the strength he had. It resisted a little, but the trap was rapidly open and Norman was already above it to help the girl out.

Extending his arms, he felt two shaking hands took them and he caught the vague picture of Latias lifting this May girl out of the whole.

In the brunette he brought out of the oubliette, he saw the masked trainer that had defeat each challenge of the tournament, except for the Champion.

But then, his eyes locked with her uncovered ones. Their sapphire color in which someone had painted a small slash of red made his heart beat faster in recognition.

There’s no way that this girl…! She’s dead, for Arceus sake…! No, it’s impossible… It’s-

Still, his lips were moving before his mind had the time to register what those words implied.

“... Haruka…?” he asked in a whisper, and her eyes, her beautiful full of life's eyes were shining with tears, recognition flickering in them, despair too.

“Dad…” she choked and the next moment, she was clench to his neck, sobbing in his shoulder as he held her firmly against him.

After fourteen long, horrible, painful years, his little daughter was back, back in his life, back to safety.

His little Haruka was alive…

May -Haruka? She didn’t know anymore- was shaking in her father arms.

Father… The word had a foreign taste on her tongue as she clunch at Norman, crying all the pain, the sorrow, the grief that had been eating her inside for years.

But it was too much for her and words were confusing in her mind: safety, family, friendship, love, fate, Rayquaza…

Her head was spinning and her exhausted body couldn’t last any longer, she fainted in her father’s comforting arms.

As for the four other, they hadn’t heard a word of the quick exchange between the two, still, Wallace was the first by their side when May fainted, and he was shocked to see tears on Norman’s face.

“What happened?” he asked, and the gym leader smiled at him.

“My little girl… She’s back home now…” he murmured in a sob, and the Sootopolitan raised a surprised eyebrow at him.

Then Norman explained himself, showing to the group a little necklace he always kept next to his heart with, inside, one of the few pictures he had of Haruka before her disappearance.

Still, there were a lot of unanswered questions, and a few DNA tests will be needed and the community members had to be interrogated.

But for once in a long time, things seemed to turn out for the better.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Things didn’t turn for the better yet.

While Steven talked with the police chief, explaining some details that they had gathered in their search, May had suddenly woken up yelling in utter terror and the Champion had felt his blood froze inside his veins as some her feelings rolled upon him (as he was still attuned to Latios) as threads of nightmares lingered at the back of his mind, sending shivers down his spine.

Because he was one of the few ones to be a friend of the young woman, he excused himself to the police chief and went to her side where Norman and Wally already were.

Now that it thought about it, he could see a certain form of likeness between the Gym Leader and the once, in the curve of their eyes or in form of their jaw. And, in a way, it made sense.

Still, the problem at hand was the screaming brunette. and Norman was drawing circles on her back to soothe her. Her head was between her hands which clenched fistful of hair in a death-grip.

“May, what’s wrong?” asked Norman, choosing the name that the girl was used to for fourteen years, as her jailors had called her like that. In the young woman eyes, pure fear could be seen.

“Those idiots, they’ll awaking them after all…” she muttered out loud and Steven could see in her stormy blue eyes that she wasn't all that there. And so, carefully, he took one of her hands between his and gently caress her knuckles.

“May, please…” he said and something seemed to snap her out of her nightmare and she looked straight at him, horror still on her face.

“Kyogre and Groudon…They are awake…” she said, and the Champion froze.

“What…?”

And then, they could hear a loud explosion, and violent wind rolled upon them, sending some of the standing men to the ground.

Steven’s ears were wheezing and he took him a few moments before being able to stand up.

A sound came to his ears, the sound of a PokeNav rigging.

His PokeNav. He quickly answered the call. It was Sidney. The Elite Four member sound quite distraught, talking about Team Aqua and Magma, stolen orbs and severe weather problems, all of them coming from Sootopolis City. He was vaguely aware that both Bosses had been arrested when the storm came upon them. He just had the time to tell him to decree the emergency state before the communication was cut as heavy rains poured upon them as well as an unbearable heat flooded the atmosphere.

He ran toward the other, who just have found a shelter and quickly resumed them his call.

That was it. What I had feared for several months. Those fanatics had awakened the Legendary Beast and now, we had to deal with Hoenn near destruction. sadly though the Champion

May Arceus have mercy on us… he silently begged.

“I… I have to go, to Sootopolis, now,” said May, and the Champion sharply turned toward her.

“What?! There’s no way in all the pantheon hells that you go out into this storm!” hissed Norman, taking her by the shoulders. But she wasn’t looking at him. She was looking outside, her sapphire eyes full of fear and determination.

“You… You don’t understand… I have to go… I can stop this…” she then looked into her father eyes,

“The old legend with Rayquaza… I’m the one it talked about…”

Norman looked at her puzzled, but it was Wally who provided an explanation, “That was why she was kidnapped all those years ago…” he slapped his forehead, “That seems so evident now!” he said in desperation, and tears gleamed in his eyes. “It’s because you’re the key, they had planned to use you in the end, after all…”

May gave a shaking nod, “Yes… And now that Groudon and Kyogre are awake, I have to go and tried to tame them… Until someone wakes Rayquaza up…”

“And who would do that?!” yelled Norman at his not-so-dead daughter, “Who would go to the sky pillar and awake him? And what tell us that Rayquaza would be up there? That someone will be able to do so? You could die while trying to stop the legendaries!” the gym leader shook his head, “No… I can’t tolerate such a foolish move! I…!” he sighed while looking down, eyes squeezed shut, “... I can’t lose you a second time… I couldn’t handle it…”, his voice breaking in a whisper.

May swallowed hard, but she took her father hand in hers, “But if I do nothing, then I will lose you, but also all those I held in my heart. Thousands of innocents will suffer because of this and, who knows how long it will be before they fury reach other regions?” she had a sad smile, “I had nightmares for years about this incident, and what I saw…” she shuddered, “...I don’t want any of this to happen to you and this is my destiny, my fate and, in the end, my decision. This freedom was taken away for a too long time, so, please… Let me go…”

The Gym Leader let out a shaking breath before nodding silently, “... Fine…” he swallowed, “Fine, go and save the world if this what you wanted…! Still, even if you contain their fury, we will have to find someone who’ll have to go to Rayquaza…”

“I suppose it should be me, or Zinnia, “ began Wallace, “After all, I’m a Sootopolitan, and she a Draconidian,  and thus, it’s one of our duty to-”

“No, you won’t, neither of you” cut sharply Steven, looking straight at his friend, and the gym leader gaped at him in shock, "What...?"

Still, the Champion continued “I’ll do it, whatever you like it or not.”

Wally protested, “But Steven, Sir! You’re the Champion-”

“I know I am, and that’s why it’s my duty to make sure that all of Hoenn’s citizens are safe.” he sighed turning toward May, “Already, and even if it kills me inside, I have to let someone face great dangers to ensure our region's safety, because, even if I’m the most powerful trainer in all Hoenn, I'm totally useless in this situation. But I can try to awake Rayquaza, even if it will be an arduous situation, and I don’t want to put someone else in danger when I can do something.”

Wallace, frowned, “But we will need you to lead the security measures, and to settle things with Hoenn’s people! It’ll be anarchy if you’re not there!”

Steven smiled a little, “The state of emergency had already been declared, I asked Sidney for that” then he reached inside one of his pockets, for his Champion emblem, “There, I lend this to you” he continued, extending his hand to the water type trainer, “You’ll take my place while I'm away. I trust you to take the best decisions for Hoenn so, would you take the responsibility?”

The water-type trainer looked down at the little object, shock written all over his features, barely understanding the meaning of the situation. He took a shaky breath when the weight of the responsibility fell upon his shoulder, but still, Wallace's fist closed on the emblem, “You'd better be back soon so I could return you this.” he chuckled nervously, “I don’t want your reign to finish only because you weren’t as careful as you should be.”

“Don’t worry, everything going to be fine... Well, I hope it'll be the case" then he turned toward Wally, Zinnia, and Norman, “If one of you have a pokemon who know teleport, you should go to Ever Grande city. They’ll need some help to coordinate security deployment through all Hoenn.” he quickly glanced at May, “We’ll try to be as quickly as we can but….”

The young woman finished his sentence, “We need from you to avoid any collateral damages at any cost.”

Wally mouth set into a tight line as he said, “I’ll do my best…” , by his side, Norman nodded too, even if it was clear that he wanted to argue the decision, and Zinnia agreed silently. May then took the pokeballs the groups had returned her and give them to her best friend, “I trust you to keep an eye on them?” and the green haired agreed once again silently.

From one of Wally's Pokeball burst a Gallade, “Please, can you take us to Ever Grande city?” asked the teenager, moving a hand toward the two Leaders and the Draconid woman. The pokemon nodded and, closing his eyes, enveloped them into a soft shining light. The next seconds, they had disappeared.

May felt a knot forming in her throat. She knew exactly how things will be at Sootopolis, how elements were actually raging on, but a strong determination flooded into her veins and she turned toward Steven, “Shall we go then?” she asked, and the Champion agreed with a determination that equal hers.

And then, both parted way, May on Latias toward the cyclone eye, Steven on Latios toward the Sky Pillar.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

It was worse than May had ever feared. Lightning, violent winds, and pillars of water were crashing against huge rocks made of boiling lava. The contrast between the two had created a situation where the atmosphere was almost unbearable.

The young woman had tried to ignore them, but on her way to Sootopolis, she had seen several dead corpses, both human and pokemon, and the sapphire-eyed girl had felt her heart clenched. She had tightened her grip on Latias's feathers.

She’ll stop the pokemon fury at all cost, whatever the cost she’ll have to pay!

May knew she had approached the current locations of the legendary beast because the chaos seemed a little more concentrated in this place. Soon enough, she saw their two huge forms through the deep rain-curtain and a few, arduous minutes later, they were above the pair.

Sending a silent prayer to Arceus, she murmured at Latias, “Listen I don’t want you to put yourself in danger, so from now, I might do something that’ll look like pure madness, but I need you to have faith in me, okay?” and the pokemon nodded at her, and May could hear in the back of her mind a feminine voice asking her to be careful, “I’ll try, but I can’t make any promise.” she patted her on the neck, “And I trust you to have my back.”

The next second, May had reached inside for a tug she had felt since Kyogre and Groudon awakening. Faint green light surrounded her and, without thinking twice, she let herself fall from Latias back.

Light exploded and the two beasts stopped their fight to looked up at her with puzzled expressions.

Steven, I hope that you’ll be able to reach Rayquaza, was her last thoughts before her mind solely focused on stopping the damages caused by the legendaries.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Steven had a hard time to fly through the unleashed elements, so when he finally saw the cave to the pillar, he let a loud sigh escape his lips. Latios landed the best as he could and Steven jumped off of his back. Turning toward the blue pokemon, he patted his neck, “You don’t have to wait here for me. Go to Sootopolis and to Latias. I know that you’re deeply worried for her…”

The legendary looked at him as if he was frowning, And how would come there, then? I don’t think you could manage to swim through the sea.

Steven shrugged, “I’ll manage, and I hope that you or one of my friend would come back for me if things turn for the better in the end.” he stepped back a little,”Now go, join your dear one, and please, once you’ll be there, could you keep an eye on May too?”

The Pokemon smiled at him, I will, good luck my friend…

And on those words, Latios flew toward what Steven supposed was Sootopolis location.

Taking a deep breath, he turned toward the cave entrance with, behind it, the Sky Pillar. He knew that only who proved themselves worthy or descendant of Sootopolitans could enter the sanctuary. And while Steven was sure he wasn’t the latter, he wasn’t sure he was the former too. After all, he was only the Champion, and even if this title was the symbol of true achievement, he didn’t know if it was enough to enter the Sky Pillar and reach Rayquaza.

But it was too late to back down or doubt now. Hoenn was between May and Rayquaza hands, and he was simply there to make sure that both fulfill their duty.

Walking into the cave, he was glad to see that the storm hadn’t disturbed a thing there and saw wild pokemon cuddling on each other on the opposite side of the cave, making scared noises at his apparition. Steven tried to show them that he wasn’t a threat and made his own way toward an old-looking door, the one to the Sky Pillar. He reached one hand forward and pushed it with all the strength he had. For a few moments, Steven thought that the mechanism was broken as the door didn’t move a bit, and the Champion felt desperation built into his chest. But then, a loud ‘click’ was heard and something seemed to move behind the giant door which opened slowly, leaving enough room for him to walk through it before closing behind him.

Everything went silent. Only the sound of the wind could be heard, and looking at the sky before him, Steven saw that it was clear, untouched by Kyogre and Groudon fight. And while one could have thought that the two beasts had stopped fighting, Steven knew best than turned back and test his luck a second time.

Nothing told him that he’ll be able to walk through the door a second time.

In front of him, dominating the Champion in all its ancient glory, was the Sky Pillar. Steven restained a groan. He already knew that several hours had happened since he left the community camp, but looking at the Pillar seize, he knew it would take him some extra hours to reach the Pillar top, and maybe a few more to work out how to wake Rayquaza.

But then, he thought about all Hoenn citizens who were actually in danger, at League members who were trying to do their best to ensure everyone safety, at May risking her own life to tame the legendary beast until Rayquaza showed up.

With a renewed determination, Steven began to climb the stairs.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

It was a strange feeling for May. She could feel energy pulsed through her veins as she extended her hands toward Kyogre and Groudon, both looking terrifying in their Primal Reversion form.

Falling from Latias back had awake the Green Orb powers sleeping in her as she had begun to levitate above them. Using all her strength, she ordered them to stop fighting and, even she succeeded to allow at Hoenn some moments of rest, both Legendaries will ultimately slip from her mental grip and fought each other another time. And then, May had to reinforce her mental strength again, and again, and again.

Latias was somewhere near her, protecting her from blast or attacks that could knock her out to the ground. At one point, Latios had rejoined her and May wondered if Steven was okay. But she couldn’t let her mind wandered. She had to concentrate on her task, meaning protecting Hoenn from the two enraged legendaries.

And May truly hope that they won’t try to attack her at one point. She didn’t even dare to try to imagine what damage one attack could do on a human being.

She shivered and returned to the task at hand. Soon enough, hours flew past her and exhaustion began to take possession of her body. She became painfully aware of the fact that she wouldn’t last for too long now.

Clenching her teeth, she gave all herself in taming Kyogre and Groudon fury.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

After what seemed to be an eternity, Steven finally reached the Sky Pillar top.

He was exhausted, had a hard time breathing as the atmosphere was poor in oxygen but he was there.

He would be able to help May.

Looking around him, the Champion tried to figure out how he had to proceed to ‘awake’ the legendary pokemon.

The tower top was void of anything with, in the center of its triangular shaped ‘platform’ a sort of giant statue weathered by time, its shape fading into a shapeless rock. Still, taking some steps forward, Steven could figure out the form of what seemed to be a giant lizard.

Rayquaza….

The Champion rushed to the statue, putting his hand on it, trying, wishing to find something useful to awake the Legendary. But as his hands roamed upon the stone, he found nothing but cold rocks under his palms.

For Lugia’s sakes! How could both Team Magma and Aqua have awakened Kyogre and Groudon so easily?

Then he remembered, They had the Red and the Blue Orb! And for Rayquaza, we need the Green one…

Which is with May, in her blood...

He let out a frustrated groan out of his throat as he fell to his knees, his hands still on the rocks. It had been useless! May was fighting a lost cause as she should have been the one here! He was powerless and all the time they had lost letting him go to awake Rayquaza had let more time to the two legendaries to destroy Hoenn…!

He had thought it was his duty as Hoenn’s Champion to act like this, and he had been proven wrong.

Despair seize his chest and for a split of seconds, his mind toyed with the idea of giving up-

What are you thinking Steven?! he scolded himself harshly, There’s no way in Giratina’s hell of giving up now! 

And so, he yelled.

“Rayquaza! I- I don’t know if you’re listening to me or not! I know that I shouldn’t be here, I’m not a Sootopolitan, neither a Draconid. And I’m certainly not your chosen…! I’m only a trainer who comes here to beg for help…”

“Kyogre and Groudon, they are fighting each other again, destroying Hoenn in the process. The Green Orb’s holder,  May, your chosen, is currently using the power she inherits from you to tame them, and she’s doing this for hours! How long will she last before she collapses…?” His head fell down and his voice was only a whisper,

“I know that I have not right to be here, and I’ll pay the price of such forwardness if it’s needed for such sacrilege. I know that my voice may mean little to you but I beg you to awake! I beg you to stop Groudon and Kyogre! I beg you to save Hoenn, I…!”

“I beg you to save May…”

And for a few moments, nothing changed and Steven felt his last hope died in his chest. Then he felt it.

The stone shivered, right under his palm. There was another shiver before light began to shine through engravings and Steven had to jumped back. More lights came out of the stone, making it almost unbearable. Then, the steel-blue headed could distinctly hear the stone broke.

The light vanished in an instant, leaving behind a giant green pokemon who roared in all his glory, and the human could felt pure energy burst out of the pokemon body.

A relieved smile broke out on his face as he exclaimed “Rayquaza…!” and the next second, he fell to his knees.

The Legendary let his golden, ethereal eyes lingered upon the human form. The silver head looked clearly exhausted and something about him made the giant lizard curious, awakening some sense of déjà-vu in his sleepy memory.

Who are you? And what are you doing here?

The human stuttered, “I- I came here to awake you! I know that I shouldn’t be the one to be here but It was my duty and currently, Hoenn, what am I saying? The world! are in grave danger! Both Groudon and Kyogre are fighting each other, the way you had foretold millennials ago!”

“You’re chosen, May, is currently trying to tame their fury until you come to seal them once again, but, i-it already been more than ten hours and I-I feared that s-she couldn’t handle it for a too long time…!”

“Please…!” he begged, “We need your help!”

Rayquaza had closed his eyes while the human was talking, memories of an old-vision coming back to his mind.

In fact, he clearly remembered seeing the silver head in it and he knew that the human wasn’t lying. What was his name, by the way? Ah yes,

Thank you for coming here, Steven, and the human gasped at the Legendary, stunned to hear that he knew his name,  And even if I would have wanted to talk a little, I dread that now is not the moment.

Unwrapping his giant body, Rayquaza made a movement toward Steven, Now, climb onto my back so we can go as fast as we can.

“What…,” he asked, still dumbfounded, “But I-I thought that-”

Do you want to walk all the way to Sootopolis, maybe?

The Champion quickly shut his mouth, “N-no! Certainly no! I, uh… Fine”

Oce the human was on his back, Rayquaza let out a loud roar as his body was enveloped in blinding light. The next moment, his body had changed.

He had Mega Evolved! thought Steven in astonishment, but he didn’t have the time to dwell on it as he had to take a good hold Rayquaza to not fall from his back, as the giant pokemon flew straight to the sky (but not too high so that Steven wouldn’t faint from lack of oxygen). Then, they were on their way to Sootopolis.

It didn’t take them a too long time to reach the center of the cyclone, Rayquaza natural talent withdrawing the violent storm and the unbearable heat on his wake. From his perch, Steven could saw all the devastation that the two legendaries had caused, and he hoped that it wouldn’t be worse than what he actually feared.

Then, he spotted them, Groudon and Kyogre, still fighting each other, even if they seemed to struggle against an invisible will.

And in the center of this living hell, Steven saw May small form glowing in green. As they approached her, being only a few meters of the young woman, the Champion could see her raising weakly her head to them. A relieved smile bloomed on her tired face and she murmured, “You finally came…” before her body couldn’t handle it anymore.

The green light faded from her body and she began to fall straight into the ocean.

Steven felt fear compressed his chest, and before he truly registered what he was doing, he had jumped after her. He quickly reached her, hugging her close to him in hope of protecting her from the deadly impact that was waiting for them.

He closed his eyes, sending one last prayer to Arceus before he felt being caught by something below him. Opening his eyes, his saw that it was Latios, the pokemon glaring at him

I hope next time you’ll take your surrounding into account before you try to do something reckless ever again! Latias and I were ready to catch her before you jumped! You scared me as hell! Don’t you ever dare to do something like that in the future! Sent Latios in a scolding tone inside his head

Steven had a nervous laugh at the pokemon scolding tone, “Sorry” he said, “My body acted before my mind registered the situation”

The blue pokemon huffed at him and the Champion felt May stirred in his hold, blinking, looking utterly lost.

“...? Steven…? Why are…?” she coughed a little, “Rayquaza…?”

The man nodded at her, brushing some strands of hair off of her face, “It’s okay May, everything is going to be okay from now…”

And it was truly the case, as everything went at a fast pace. Once Rayquaza was sure that both humans were safe, he flew toward Kyogre and Groudon, letting out a loud roar which stop once and for all the two legendaries fight. They seemed to recoil at it, but Rayquaza didn’t seem to have finished with them yet as he began to glow from an inner light, the two pokemon responding at him.

Soon, Groudon was the first to vanish, leaving behind it a small red orb which flew in the sky to Arceus knew where. Kyogre was a little more reluctant as he glances once more toward the humans' direction, his cold gaze lingered upon May who looked at him back. The pokemon seemed to nod at her before vanishing too.

Light exploded from where they were and dissolved into the sly in billions of tiny sparks. The storms stopped, the atmosphere cooled down to an acceptable heat and Steven let a relieved sigh out of his chest.

Rayquaza flew toward them before gazing at May, It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, May.

The woman smiled weakly at him, “Likewise…”

The giant pokemon gave her an apologetic look, I saw what happened to you for the last fourteen years and I’m sorry that you had to live through such awful experiences…

She shook her head, “No need to apologize… You had no power over it and it’s over for good now…” she leaned against Steven's chest, murmuring while closing her eyes, “I’m safe now…” and the next moment, she was out of cold.

Rayquaza looked down at her with a fond gaze before his golden eyes went to Steven’s, As for you, young man… and the Champion swallowed at the serious tone in the pokemon voice…

Take good care of her…

The steel-haired man blinked at the legendary, and, smiling a little, said, “I will”

Rayquaza nodded in agreement, Good… Now, I shall go. I was asleep for a too long time, and it seems that I need to fix some stuff before going to sleep once again. He smiled at Steven, I don’t have any prediction for a far away future in store for you, so everything should be alright from now.

I hope our path will cross again, with both of you… he finally said. Then, he flew toward the sky and disappear in a flash of green.

Latios was still floating gently in the air, Latias by his side, looking both relieved and worried for May’s well being as she seemed deep in sleep.

“Latios, can we go to Ever Grande City? Her father and friends are there and we could take her to the League medical center from there…” he said, and the Legendary nodded. Sure.

And then, they leave Sootopolis’s sea behind them.

 

oOoOoOoOo

Five months later

oOoOoOoOo

When May’s eyes snapped open, she was still breathing heavily from the nightmares she just had. By her side, her mother was stroking gently her hair in a soothing motion.

Her mother.

It had been a little weird for May to realize that she had a family now. When she had woke up after Hoenn’s near destruction, she almost had been killed by Daria powerful embrace, as the young woman supposed that Norman had told his wife about his little discovery. Still, they had to run a few tests, but it only had been a matter of weeks before the results came back as positive.

One month after the end of Kyogre and Groudon battle, she had moved to Littleroot town, in her parent house. Norman and Daria had prepared a room for and even if it was plain, she had cried for a half hour in gratitude.

And for the following months, a lot of tears had been shed, for the lost time, those moments that were lost forever, for every scar that had marked her body, but also tears for the new happiness she had found, the fact she was not alone anymore. They had bond quickly, all things considered, and even if his job as a Gym Leader, Norman made sure to be home each night so that he could spend time with his wife and daughter, and Daria told May it was because it had happened for him to not came back home for several days, because of his duty as Gym Leader.

So yes, things may have been awkward at first, but now, it was easier for her to call Norman ‘Dad’ and Daria ‘Mom’. That’s also why, even at eighteen years old, she didn’t mind her mother coming to comfort her. And so, she let herself cry in her mother arms before sleep claimed its hold on her once again.

She had been diagnosticated of PTSD, and she knew that things wouldn’t be totally normal for her before a long time. Moreover, her reappearance had caught the media attention, but she did her best to avoid them and, after two months, they grew tired and stopped chasing her around.

May also had to respond about the event of the Battle Resort Tournament, but in the end, she wasn’t charged for anything. As for Brazgot and the community, May didn’t want to know, but Steven had assured her they won’t be a problem for anyone for a long time.

Speaking of the Champion, she didn’t get the chance to talk to him since she had moved in with her parents. His duty as Hoenn’s Champion didn’t leave him enough time to visit her. And even if she had to say she was a little disappointed, she truly understood his reasons (but that didn’t stop her heart to ache for the safety that the man brought to her).

She talked about him once to her parents, she told them everything, and even admitted that she loved him in the end,  and they had simply smiled at her, telling that if fate wanted them to be together one day, then they’ll surely cross path one day or another.

But then again, for the moment it was about her rebuilding her life in a good way.

And slowly, but surely, May began to take a new start in life.

 

oOoOoOoOo

 

Her nineteenth birthday was a small affair, her parents, Wally, Professor Birch and his son Brendan. They had eaten a ‘special May diner’, as her mother like to call it, basically being all the young woman’s favorite dishes with, in the end, a chocolate cake made by her father, who had a certain knack in cooking.

Then came to gifts part. May was a little uneasy about the fact of receiving things from people without giving back something else, but, in the end, she accepted them. From Wally, she received a new bag and from Brendan a pair of sneakers. Her parents gave her the latest edition of the PokéNav, with all the options!- and from the Professor Birch a brand new Pokedex.

Wait, what?

Her dumbfounded expression made her father laugh, “Listen, honey, we know that you care a lot for your pokemon, we have seen you acted with your team. And we know that you’re happy with the way your life is now but..”  then it was Daria who continued,

“But we have seen the longing in your eyes… You carve for adventure and, as the Battle resort wasn’t a true experience, we thought that maybe you should go on a Pokemon Journey…”

May blinked at them. It was true that she wanted to travel but she had felt guilty about the simple idea of leaving. She was back at home since for a little more than a year and she didn’t want to go away as soon as she was back on her feet.

When she spoke, her eyes were full of tears, “But… That means that I’ll have to leave you… But I here for so little time…! I…!”

“It’s okay, honey,” said Norman while putting a hand on her own, “You lived your all life under harsh condition, never getting the chance to taste freedom. And even if we are happy to have you back in our lives, we can see that you want to travel too, see the world, meet other people, and you have all the rights to carve for that.” he chuckled a little, “And, to be honest, I’m not too worried about your well being. You prove yourself worthy and strong enough so that the idea of you going on a pokemon journey!”

“Beside” add her mother, “Is not like we won’t see each other again! As soon as one of your pokemon learned Fly move, I hoped that you’ll come back home to spend some time with us!”

“And you won’t be alone,” said Wally, “Brendan and I will be by your side to help you too! And you have already friends that just wanted to see you again too!” he added, a slight hint in his tone letting May knew that he was referring to a very certain person.

Still, she cried from joy at the simple idea of going on an adventure.

And the next week, her bag on her shoulder, her six pokeballs at her belt, spare money, and food with her,  she waved goodbye to her Mother and Father, and her Pokemon journey truly began.

oOoOoOoOo

 

It took her a little more than one year to collect all the badges. She had known ups and downs with her pokemon team. The Gym Leaders had looked quite pleased to see her once again, and even if the battle were not as powerful than the ones they had back at the Battle Resort, May had enjoyed every bit of them.

But from her travel, she got the chance to meet a lot of wonderful people, she crossed path with Zinnia at the Meteor Falls and even had the chance to try her hand at Pokemon Contest. She also filled her Pokedex with information about pokemon and was delighted to see her’s evolved while they got stronger and stronger.

Still, she didn’t get the chance to see Steven while traveling through Hoenn, but hope didn’t leave her, as she knew for sure that he’ll be waiting for her at the end of the road.

When Wallace handed her last badge, he had said in a quick, conspirationing voice, “You should hurry, he’s waiting for you for a long time, you know?”

“I know” she had said with a cryptic smile, “Me too”.

Two days later, after a quick stop at her parent’s home, she was at Ever Grande City.

The Elite Four was truly a challenge, but she defeated each of them with a strong determination, her faith in her pokemon unwavering. When she passed Drake, she could hear him chuckle and said something about youth, but she didn’t turn around to ask him what he was talking about.

The corridor to the Champion Chambers was made of marble and seemed to stretch indefinitely, still, she reached the other side in no time. She let out a deep breath before pushing the heavy doors.

Illuminating by the light pouring from the window, Steven Stone was there, his back turned toward her, looking thoughtful. When he heard her footsteps coming closer, he turned slowly toward her and, with a smile that sent her heart flipping in her chest, said, “I was waiting for you, May.”

She smiled at him, a glint enlightening her eyes as her own hand flew to her waist. She didn’t dare to say anything, fearing her voice to failed her. Steven, on the other, seemed to understand clearly what her purpose was. His smile grew even more as he drew his own Pokeball in his own hand.

 

oOoOoOoOo

When Steven last pokemon fell to the ground, May hardly believed that she had won. But Steven’s clasping hands brought her back to reality as the ex-Champion climb down the stairs to come at her side.

The battle had left her breathless as she had poured all her determination, her feelings in it, and she clearly had felt that Steven had done the same.

“Congratulations, new Champion of Hoenn,” he said solemnly, a light enlightening the silver blue colors of his eyes, and May drowned in them. She smiled shyly to him, “I suppose it’s a title I should get used to now?” and he chuckled back, “You’ll see, it’s not as bad as it sounds, plus you won’t be alone…” He winked at her and then extended a hand to her, “Shall we?” he asked, and she slid her smaller one in his, and Steven squeezed gently her fingers.

They reached a backdoor which led toward a wide room in which she could see her reflection on the ground, « The Hall of Fame », had said Steven. In front of her was a big device with six little holes, for her to put her pokeballs in them.

Steven explained to her what was the device purpose, she barely listened to him, as her hand was still in his, and the simple touch sent jolt in all her body. Once he had finished, he released her, and she put her pokeballs inside the device. She could see lines of code being uploaded inside the computer and then, there was a shimmering tune, officializing her position as Hoenn’s new Champion.

Her heart was filled with pride for her pokemon as she reached for her pokeballs, hooking them to her belt once again, her hands shaking, overflowed by emotions.

“May…” murmured Steven in her back, and she turned toward him.

The ex-Champion looked lost, and the young woman could clearly see in his eyes that he was lacking words, “I wanted to… There’s something I need to say but…”

A faint red taint was coloring the man’s cheeks and May felt her owns warmed as his eyes locked with hers. Steven looked determinate, but still, words were failing him.

May’s heart was beating wildly in her chest, but she knew what she wanted to say too. But words were caught at the tip of her tongue too, so she decided to not use words. She took three steps toward the man, who stopped in his sentence, looking at her with a surprised expression.

She bit the inside of her cheek, cursing herself for such forwardness, and grabbed his red’s jabot, tugging him downward, and pressed her lips on his.

She felt astonishment rippled through the other one's body and, as he didn’t move for a whole second, the young woman thought she had made the wrong choice.

When she released her grasp on him to pull back, she was surprised to feel his hands cupped her face, deepening the kiss she had initiated.

Butterflies were dancing in her chest and everything felt, once again, right. She had her arms wrapped around Steven’s neck as one of his was around her waist, the other behind her neck, his fingers lost in her growing hair.

A few minutes passed before they had to stop the kiss because of lack of air. Still, their foreheads were still touching each other, their breath blending with the other, a smile on their lips.

“May…?”

“Yes?”

“I love you…”

She smiled, “I love you too…” she murmured.

Then, they kissed once again for Arceus knew how long, but it didn’t matter for May.

She was happy and safe. She had a family, friends, an amazing team and someone she loved, and who loved her back.

And even if her life had been a tough one, she wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

Because her life was perfect the way it was now.

She was happy, and it was all that mattered at this moment.

 

~End~