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Pokémon Reset Bloodlines Sidestory - Clair Interlude

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Blackthorn City Gym

Days go by, and seasons change.

The latest Indigo League finished. It was an odd league, a league of wonders. Mega Evolution was not even the most surprising thing that was commonplace in it this year.

But regardless of what would be the fate of the amazing crop of contestants from the Indigo Conference this year, be it going to her region next to compete or training for the next Indigo Tournament, it would be business as usual for her.

And so the battles would continue, as they always did.

"Use Fire Blast!"

She pointed at her opponent's Pokemon, an Ursaring. The bear growled as it scanned the water's edge for where the attack would come from.

A ripple in the water got its attention as it formed a yellow sparking orb in between its claws.

Zap Cannon. The move had been used to turn the tables on her earlier. It slowed Kingdra down, and allowed for a knock out blow.

However, it was not good at spreading the electrical damage through the water. It needed contact, and that was the key.

"Wait, that was..." Ursaring's trainer called as the bear fired the blast.

It struck the spot where the ripples had formed, only for Dragonair's head to pop up a somewhat distant from said ripples.

"Her tail, yes. It's a useful baiting technique I've formed over my tenure here," she noted. It was a recognized entry in the Wataru Book of Techniques, her first entry in its long line of contributors who included her cousin Lance, his father Halberd, and their grandfather Javelin, and his grandfather whose Dragonite still guarded the Dragon Holy Land to this day.

She intended to add more to it in time, but for now.

"Fire!"

And the Fire Blast was fired before Ursaring could get out of the way, engulfing the bear in a giant flaming blast attack.

Ursaring fell back on the ground, darkened and defeated by the powerful fire attack.

"Ursaring is unable to battle!" on the sidelines her ref, Ryu, who also doubled as her disciple when the need for such a thing was present, declared as Dragonair darted back into the pool.

The battle wasn't over yet. Dragonair was her third Pokemon while her opponent had one more to go. What she'd have to expect next was anyone's guess.

Her first Pokémon had been a Heracross, and after that a Ursaring. Would she see another Power Pokémon next? Perhaps something faster or trickier.

As Ursaring was returned Clair got a long look at her challenger.

She was female, and if her data had not said that she was a rookie trainer who only started this specific year she'd have guessed she would have been an older one from another region challenging Johto's gym circuit. She was too tall and too...womanly for a fifteen year old in Clair's opinion.

Clair was five foot nine, and she was pretty sure this girl had a few inches on her. That was bothersome.

Honey blond hair and garbed in a pink shirt and long white skirt, the girl pressed her lips as she reached for a Park Ball at her hip.

Grabbing it, she gave a confident stare with a pair of red eyes before throwing it.

"I choose you!" she declared as the ball burst open, revealing a Beedrill buzzing over the water.

"A Beedrill?" She had to question aloud, dismay dripping from her tongue. A Beedrill felt, insulting.

This was the place where she expected trainers to bring out their best, and a swarming menace without the Swarm was not what she expected to be deciding if this girl would be able to get to the Silver Conference and compete.

She was the toughest Gym Leader in Johto. Her only competition for that title was a crotchety old man across the Ice Path and an idiot who just happened to use pink walking and mooing war crimes.

There were only a few Gym Leaders worldwide who she feared defeat from, and at one point or another she had defeated all of them but Wulfric.

And this girl had a Beedrill as her final Pokémon?

The girl grinned as she reached inside her shirt and pulled out a Amberite necklace from within, hidden from sight bar a faint string.

Just before the Amberite however, was a colorful round stone.

"A Keystone?" Oh yeah, she forgot about the fact Beedrill could do that.

Though in her defense she only realized that recently.

"So I see you know what this is. Hope this changes your tune," the girl, Meliae, declared as Beedrill held out a stinger and the band around the middle of it.

She tapped the stone, and the energy began shooting out of the stone towards Beedrill.

Mega Evolution was a power that she herself did not have. She had a keystone herself, in fact it was kept inside her neck bauble she knew the feathered idiot like to joke was an egg she was trying to hatch.

Same reason that many trainers kept their keystone obscured so opponents didn't see it. Wulfric took it even farther by hiding it in the fluff on one of his ace Pokemon, a luxury many Pokémon didn't have.

That had cost her the closest she had ever gotten to beating the man.

However she did not have a Mega Stone. She knew where to get one, but her uncle refused to let her have it.

He insisted that only Lance be given it, even though that Lance declined multiple times the use of the Mega Stone that nearly killed his grandfather.

It was one of her many aggravations.

As the light faded away the Mega Evolution was revealed, and all five stingers were aimed at Dragonair's pool.

It would need all five.

"It certainly does, though you still have to win this fight first if you want a Rising Badge. Dragonair, Thunder Wave!" she declared as the final battle began.

...

An hour later she smiled as she handed the girl a Rising Badge.

"Well, you earned it. Here you go, and good luck at the Pokemon League" She handed over the badge, even as the door to her gym was burst open.

A teenager of a much shorter nature strutted in, well dressed in a blouse and skirt that held a crest of one of the local rich families. Her long black hair was immaculate and her shoes clacked against the floor with expensive thumps.

This could only end in good.

"So, I see I won't be the only one walking out today with victory it seems. Very well, I can accept that."

Clair leveled a glare at the girl. Disrespect towards her was something she could not stand. Not in people above her, or below her.

That girl thought she was one while really being another, even though that was clearly her first gym battle.

"Very well." She faked an enthusiastic voice as she turned and walked towards the battle pool. The girl followed her, bumping into Meliae as she did.

"Watch it jumbo. No need to hold up a winner now."

She didn't need to know that the taller girl was glaring daggers at the newcomer, before making for the exit.

The exit where Pokémon centers were to be found and, for a time, not overconfident rich girls.

Ryu was quick to bring her two Pokéballs from her assortment of first badge challenges. She nodded as she took them, giving her three Pokemon from the battle with the good challenger to be dashed off to a healing machine in the other room.

"So two Pokémon huh? Don't think I haven't been planning for this. I know how to defeat dragons," the girl declared with certainty as Clair gave her a long look back.

The girl had not earned the right to have an ego. An ego should only exist after you prove yourself just as powerful as your ego said you were.

An ego that was less strong than you actually were was fine, even preferable, but an ego without the power and skill to back it up was the most insufferable thing around.

She'd have to fix that.

"This Blackthorn Gym Battle between Clair the Gym Leader and the Challenger is about to begin. Each side may only use two Pokémon, and only the Challenger may substitute. The battle is over when both Pokémon on either side are unable to continue." Ryu, just back from the healing machine, breathed out as Clair held up the first Pokémon of choice.

"Let's see if you can beat this Pokémon!" Clair declared as she threw the red and white ball into the air.

It burst open, revealing her opponent's first hurdle to overcome.

"Karp."

"A Magikarp," her challenger blankly stated.

"Yes." Clair smirked.

"Are you mocking me?"

Yes.

"Oh, I'm sorry to tell you, but Dragons are actually quite rare Pokémon, so there aren't quite a lot around Johto. I'd hate to fight you with just the same Pokémon again and again, so I like to mix it up. But surely, if you can beat Dragons you can best a mere Magikarp?"

Her challenger glared at her.

"A Magikarp? Oh please, I can beat that in my sleep! I won't even need Igglybuff to do it! Show them Bellsprout!"

Her previous first badge challenger had been a girl from Mahogany Town named Macy, likely here to avoid the old Ice Curmudgeon. She had dismissed Magikarp as a threat, even with her two Pokémon in use being Fire Types in a Vulpix and Cyndaquil she had found who knows where.

She had proved worthy of her doubts and won. She doubted this girl would do the same.

And she was correct. One Magikarp team kill later and an ego had been chopped down to size.

It was always fun to do that. Though people had a bad habit of giving her a rant for it later.

...

Another day, another round of challengers facing her with the hope of possibly defeating her.

While only one was defeated by a Magikarp sweep, a number were petrified with fear and terror when she used one of her Gyarados to start.

Three of them told her to her face she was mocking their dead grandparents and just walked out. One other just cursed her from the start to the first Gyarados blast knock out of one of his Pokémon.

After that he was just screaming in fear.

One guy lost to a simple critical hit. Unlucky, it really had hurt him. Pity too, he was actually doing well. He could have joined Meliae and been the first time she had to give out two badges in a day in her entire career.

Honestly even in defeat he had earned her respect, not that such respect was uncommon.

There were many ways to earn her respect: defeating her was usually a good way to do so, but losing to her with dignity was also appreciated. Nail biting losses, valiant last stands, even giving in upon realizing that doing so would only hurt their partner needlessly were all among what she'd appreciate.

She'd like to think she communicated that well enough, and the people who she respected always spoke of her well.

It was the legion of those she left in her wake defeated, along with certain children with cows, who spread stupid rumors about her.

She liked garlic, sue her. That did not mean she always had garlic breath.

At the end of the day however, she could unwind and take a break from the duties of Gym Leader and Dragon Clan, which took the form of a variety of manners.

Sometimes it was going out to dinner with garlic aplenty.

Other times, she had already eaten and preferred something more casual.

Among the alcohol serving establishments of Blackthorn City Mr D's Bar was different. Unlike the vast majority of the ones in town, it was of the newer style compared to the Izakaya type bars preferred by the older and working men and women of the city.

It was also the place trainers tended to gather, of all ages. Unlike Kanto, Johto trainers were legal for all adult aspects of life once they turned fifteen like anyone else.

In Kanto you had to be sixteen. Something about having to be get used to life independent of your family (if one so choose or could) before you ruined your lungs or risked running through a town drunk while dancing.

Historically all teenagers were expected to leave their homes at age fifteen, bar certain circumstances like ailing family members or being the apprentice to your father, and travel as trainers. Some found this was for them, and either became competitive in leagues and made their fortunes that way or joined the military or other establishments where battling skills were useful.

Colleges used to only accept trainers who traveled and wrote about what they saw in extensive detail. They didn't have to note anything new, they just have to impress the Dean with their ability to perceive things and note how the world worked.

Most of the time you burned out and settled down somewhere, getting a different job and having a family where you don't risk inbreeding. Back even a hundred years ago that was more expected of you than becoming a successful trainer, and even today you were expected to get all of the crazy out of you while traveling before plopping down and doing something with trainers being interesting, but rare, exceptions to the rule.

Be it your urge to see the world, your desire to get into fights, the follies of youth...

"He he he...your Cloyster...it wants to see my Onix doesn't it?"

Or sow your oats. Traditionally the expectation was that trainer journeyers (at least in Johto) were to burn out all their libido in a short period of time like some Vigoroth, then only do it later for the purposes of having kids with their husband or wife. Trainers who stuck to it ended up with a reputation of being restraint-less nuts who were looming threats to all good married men.

This traditional view had many faults in it that she did not need to elaborate on. There was a reason that modern interpretations of that time line were a lot more sympathetic in depicting the trainers and the married women, and were always quick to point out the lack of similar views towards female trainers who wandered.

Even today in the age where this practice left a lot less single mothers (but still a lot) thanks to advances in birth control, the idea that trainers were the period of time you were expected to get out all vices before settling into the mundane was popular in some parts, even if the most skilled of trainers were a lot more popular than they had been when they were seen as reckless seekers of childish ideals who never grew up.

The bar entrance was currently playing host to two others as she approached. One was the male trainer who had made the horrible line, and the other was Meliae, whose face seemed to have lost a bit of interest in her similarly aged counterpart the moment the line finished, though she still seemed interested in him showing her his Onix.

Not that he actually had an Onix, it was just a stupid euphemism.

Getting closer she recognized the trainer as the one who had swore at her for using a Gyarados, and she felt her nasty side rise up.

"Hem hem."

Time to cock-block.

Meliae and the jerk all turned her way. While Meliae just looked at her with confusion, he glared at her and disengaged his gesturing towards Meliae and began walking towards her.

"It's you...the Gyarados woman. Ya want a piece of me?"

"My Gyarados wants round two," she told him dryly. He quickly skedaddled, muttering about better odds at Violet City under his breath. Meliae looked at her in annoyance.

"Did you really have to do that? His lines sucked, but he'd have done for a night."

"You can do better than him for a night," she told the taller girl, who shrugged.

"True, but I also happen to need to get to Azalea Town to pick up some balls I ordered. You ever deal with Kurt?"

"Once or twice" One of the better old men she knew. His granddaughter asked too many questions about her cape, and said it made her look tacky, but she could look past that after a while.

"Then you know he can be picky about time. If I'm even five minutes late from a previously told time and he'll rant like an old man at me. Sure he is one, but it is annoying even when you have an excuse. The fact the guy was already interested means we could have had some fun and I could have not had to waste hours finding a willing guy and risk oversleeping."

Logical, she supposed.

"Well I admit I'm not one for hookups," not that she really could frankly, but that was another story, '"but you can always find a few trainers interested here. He's not the only one, and I doubt it would take too long. Get a drink with me, meet a guy, or just have a good time with stories told over beer and sake."

Because this was Johto, and not selling sake at even a non-traditional bar was unheard of.

Meliae chuckled and nodded.

"Well if it's as fun as you say I'll see what this place is like. Though if I don't find a guy by nine I'm going to have to call it a night if I want to avoid Kurt ranting at me like a Resetti."

With a bit of chuckling at the end both females entered the bar.

Wooden walls were the edge of the place, covered in the necessities.

Dart boards, televisions still going on about the Indigo League while they waited for the Silver Conference to start, some photos of famous trainers like Bruno, Lance, and Alder on the wall (the latter re-enacting his legendary drinking contest with Agatha twenty years ago that was said to still terrify Oak over in Pallet Town in his nightmares), the works. Though for the life of her she could not understand why the place had a Pac-Man machine in it.

How did that thing pay for itself? Who liked electronic screeching and pixel ghosts?

About a dozen trainers, mostly male, darted the bar while the bartender, whom she had once laughed herself silly over when a trainer said he looked like a trailer park cherub, filled someone's order. A male trainer with a scar below his left eye was playing pool with a short female trainer with glasses. Two other male trainers were playing cards, while three others were at the titular bar front.

She didn't recognize two of them, and many of them were likely either future challengers or were using the area as pre league training grounds, but the one who was slumped over on the bar and getting the drink from the titular Mr. D of the bar was.

And she was not happy who she was seeing there.

"Gregory!" she snapped, sending a ripple of alarm through the bar as all the patrons looked her way.

Recognizing her as a gym leader they did nothing as she stormed over to the bar and sat hard next to the drinking trainer.

"Hi..." he said quietly, the new glass of alcohol mulling in his hand.

"What are you doing?!" she demanded as he sighed, quieted by alcohol's choice effects.

"Being depressed."

"I can see that. I can only assume it is because of the outcome of our match?"

"Uh-huh."

"And that you seem to have been here a while," she coldly noted as he looked at her with a bit more forcefulness than before, but not as much as he should have.

"I didn't plan to. I was at the Pokémon Center, and all of my Pokémon were being looked at, while I was consoled by people." She made sure to make it clear in her face that the confirmation that he had not gone straight here, but had stopped at the Pokémon Center first had diminished her anger immensely. Not going to the Pokémon Center first would be beyond irresponsible.

"They kept telling me that you are super strong, and super relentless, and super harsh...and that just made me realize...I could never have beaten you. I was a fool...my first Gym loss and it was because of me thinking I was all that."

"Technically it was because of a critical hit," she corrected him gently as he sighed.

Clearly a shaken confidence had not taken well to people trying to make her out as someone who broke boulders and challengers for fine. Only Chuck did the former, and she wasn't anything like the man.

Though she did have to admire his dedication to training, if not his dedication to dieting. With how much he worked the fact he still was pudgy baffled Clair to no end.

"Yeah, and you knew it would happen."

"Yes, clearly I'm psychic," she lightly bantered before continuing.

"Look Gregory, you are a good trainer. All those people who tried to make you feel better, they are losers. The are not capable of beating me, but you were. You just got bad luck. It happens all the time, and it won't change with copious alcohol."

"Not that I am able to be that good twice. You know all my moves, you know I have a Sylveon."

"And I only beat it because it accidentally sprained its paw tripping over a crack in the floor, which Nurse Joy can fix by tomorrow even before one of my groundskeepers plugs the crack up with quick cement or whatever they use on cracks. Plus, now you know what I can do just as much as I know what you can do. We'll still as equal as we were round one."

"You still have to get an eighth badge for the Silver Conference, and I'll be here tomorrow. I've got nothing else to do after all, you might as well entertain me. Get to bed, wake up, make sure you aren't hung over, and try again. I'm sure you can win this time."

He looked at her in confusion.

"Are you really saying that, or am I hearing things through the Duff? I mean, it's your job to win right?"

"It's also my job to lose, just after making your challenge against me as hellish as possible. But if you want my hell to be less than the one a hangover gives you, I'd go now," she told him kindly but firmly, as Meliae poked her head in on the other side of him.

"If you win, I'll help you celebrate," she teased. His gaze turned to her as he looked at her for a moment.

Between the pep talk, and the promise of nookie he got off his seat and made for the exit, swaying a bit but decently stable.

The gym leader looked to the victor of the day in confusion.

"You know, you did not need to sweeten the deal like that. I was doing perfectly fine."

Meliae grinned.

"He was pretty good looking, and nothing makes a person more determined than additional reward. I'm hardly going to suffer for motivating him."

With that she spun around and made to a table where boasting and gloating had resumed. As stories of raging Ursaring escapades and successful battles sprung from both the previously present patrons and Meliae, the bartender had a long look for her.

"Gregory paid his tab, right?" She'd pick it up if need be, but she'd really rather not.

"Course he did, he was responsible like that. I could have gotten more out of him though."

"Well, I want to battle him with minimal hangover tomorrow, so I had to reign in your profits a bit. Tell you what, maybe I can make up some of what you lost: give me an Ampelos."

She knew her limits after all, she knew when to stop before fun would leave her with a hangover.


 

The next day

One successful challenger later and Clair found herself dealing with something less pleasant than handing over a Rising Badge.

Being stared down by a line of old men, all graying and sitting in traditional poses and dressed in the same traditional robes. If she wasn't family, she would not be able to tell them apart.

But she could, not that it was really a good thing. Lance's father Halberd, his brothers Sibat and Trishula (her father), her grand uncle Yari, and grandfather Javelin, all were present.

And all were looking at her with dour eyes.

"...Tell me, do you know why we asked to see you?" Javelin inquired.

"I take it has nothing to do with those vagabonds I drove out of the Holy Land last week?" Clair knew that wasn't the reason, but felt like it was worth reminding them.

"You brutalized the daughter of one of the prominent families of Blackthorn."

She rolled her eyes at that declaration. She knew the elders of her clan didn't like it, but frankly they hadn't been on Christmas card terms with her in ages. She didn't have to pretend she respected them.

If Lance spent more time here and less time being James Bond she might have to stop with the eye rolling.

"I did my job. Three of you were my predecessors, you know that it is the job of a Gym Leader to fight effectively and provide a challenge. She did not surpass it."

"You beat her with a Magikarp," Trishula noted without humor.

"Then she was defeated by a Magikarp, and would have stood no chance to a Horsea."

"Clair, are you not aware of the consequences your actions have on the family?"

She put a faux-thoughtful finger on her lips before continuing.

"Well I suppose if I had thrown that match it would have been my third loss in two days, and more than I took in the prior four months. That would damage the reputation of the Gym, make it seem like I'm slipping on my job..."

"Don't play games Clair, we don't live in some silly universe where three straight losses would lose the family gym!" Yari barked.

Perhaps she had pushed it a bit with that quip. She'd have to work on the exact boundary she crossed later to perfect her taunting.

"Her father is furious with us, and our clan's entire relationship with the other families of Blackthorn are likewise damaged. All of them are assuming you will brutalize their children if they attempt a badge quest."

"That is my job. I'm not supposed to go easy on people," she reminded them.

"There are times when a sub-optimal job is superior to a fully optimized one," Javelin noted in a sagely voice before continuing.

"But, if we are going to discuss your job, let us not forget the other parts of it. You are the heir to our clan..."

"That's Lance," she reminded them. She was well aware that Lance was the heir to the Clan, and at one point she had envied that position.

She no longer felt that way.

"...My son..." Halberd began, "...is not available for such a task. You are."

"Lance also does not need to be as involved. All you need is a few minutes of his time and some woman paid to stay for nine months," she pointed out.

Not that was ideal, but...

"You would suggest that our clan's lineage be sullied by some dalliance with some back alley woman! Only the best could even consider courting our people, families of proper repute! The Fishers, the Stones..." Yari snarled as Javelin turned her way and cut his rant off.

"Yari speaks somewhat in error. Our clan would be fine with anyone who has proven themselves as an individual, his parentage and social standing is of little importance in the grand scheme of things. However I do agree that your suggestion is improper. A marriage is required, and as Lance has not supplied one..."

"...You are to fulfill that duty," Trishula declared.

"Did Lance run out of time to have a kid?" Clair questioned, though she was well aware of the answer they'd give.

"We don't have time for him to decide to contribute. He has dallied for long enough, and his work risks him being maimed or killed."

Also he wasn't here to be lectured. Hence why he was out risking being maimed or killed.

"Also, you are running out of time." Sibat declared as Clair rose an eyebrow.

"Lance isn't even thirty yet, and I'm younger. You might have lost track of it, but I'm only twenty-two and he's twenty-eight. Even if Lance does get blown up, I am hardly running low on time to have a kid." She'd quip about menopause, but that would be pushing it a bit.

They knew what that was. They all had been married at one point or another.

"But you are running out of time to find a suitable husband," Halberd noted.

"Sorry if my dating attempts don't pan out," she snarked.

"...Perhaps, if you were more of a proper woman..." Yari noted.

"Sorry I'm not more like Jasmine, but I happen to have a steel backbone and an opinion." Oh yes, the idea of a proper woman in Johto.

Gah, wasn't that annoying, and a good reason why her dating life wasn't working out. She had more dates fall apart because the guy was bothered by just how muscular her arms were.

Men who were under her in height didn't even go that far.

It was one of the few things she and the kid in Goldenrod could agree on, and yet the nineteen-year-old apparently found a boyfriend a while back who stuck.

Apparently he was half frozen or something. Now they were frolicking in the Miltank fields love struck in between unleashing Miltank on poor challengers who didn't get the memo.

Sadly all she found in ice blocks around here was a Piloswine, and she had never gotten a chance to find the thing again after that blizzard. It should still be fine in the ice block, though those herbs it had were well past their prime now.

"A more formal approach may be required then," Javelin mused as he looked at her, in a look that was both final, and somewhat sympathetic.

"It not common these days, but perhaps it is time we try and find you a husband. What men you meet on your own are just limited, and it may be better to see who is interested first before we try to find compatibility."

They weren't serious, were they?

"Yes, a proper match for my daughter to ensure our clan's future. Now, who to choose...well with his position passed on to his son, perhaps Walker could be appropriate."

Her father's suggestion would have made her gape at him in dumbfounded disbelief, but she held it back.

"...No, he is too old, perhaps his son. Walker could be encouraged to take the position back and let his son move here to ensure a expedient production of heirs," Yari offered instead, and it was not any better.

Was it too late to join Lance and his Kingsmen buddies in being blown up? Technically one of these old farts could take the Gym back...

She'd never be allowed back, but at this rate that might be a good thing.

….

If one was to approach Clair at the moment without listening, one would see her being a dutiful dragon master and scrubbing each and every Dratini and Dragonair currently on the edge of a pool connected to the Holy Land and the den within it.

To those who were listening however, you would know that Clair was not whispering kind words to the Dragonair, or talking to them about her weekend plans.

No, you would instead hear venting.

"Lousy fossils. Marrying me off, who does that these days? I know they are old, but that was out of fashion two wars and a crazy person on a Gyarados ago."

"Oh yes I'm such an improper woman aren't I? I mean it's not like I have arms in better shape than most people because of training that is part of clan life or something, oh wait I did and they don't seem to see the connection."

"Just get married again why don't one of you? I mean it's not like we don't have gold or something that some woman would look at instead of your shriveled bodies."

"Why not just have more kids. Why only have one if you are so worried about clan survival. You all have brothers, why decline Lance and I of having them so you can bother them to get married."

"I'm twenty-two not fourty-two."

"How are some of you even still alive?"

Each line was punctuated by her going from Dratini to Dragonair or another Dratini and back again in a random cycle. Some stood fast, listening to her with understanding.

Others rolled on their stomachs for belly scrubbing, completely uncaring of what words were being spoken when not about them.

She'd use more choice words, but Dragonair disliked swear words. They'd whap her upside the head if she said something colorful.

"Hoo."

A hoot interrupted her before she could begin scrubbing a Dratini, the dragon letting out an annoyed sound at the lack of tummy scrubbing.

Attention of all alert dragons and Clair were drawn to the window, where a spherical Hoothoot stood, a piece of mail taped to its leg.

Holding her arm out she did not have to wait long for the Hoothoot to fly over to her arm and perch on it, allowing her to dislodge the note and read from it.

"Dear Wataru Clan,

Your daughter is lovely, but I must decline. I believe in love by choice and wish not to restrain either myself, my son, or your daughter to it.

I appreciate the offer, do not ask me again. Nor do I want you to ask my son. Falkner has been told of this and should you attempt to contact him he will not respond.

Walker."

Hoothoot flew off before she could even begin to write a reply. Clearly he did not want one.

And yet, she was left to be the one to have to deliver this straight to the old fossils.

She never envied a Hoothoot more than at this moment.

"Oh how dare he reject us. We offered a wonderful dowry with her. Oh that's just lovely, what must I be worth. A chestful of gold, a sum of money, maybe some antique furniture."

The Gyarados behind her roared in agreement, before blasting the rock face with a torrent of flames. After a moment of burning the great serpent ceased, revealing an expanse of stone free of invasive vines.

Clair pointed to the next stretch of infested rock, and Gyarados resumed the burning as she continued.

"...A dowry. Who even does that anymore?"

Gyarados roared in agreement after another cliff side singeing.

"You know, is it wrong that I'm starting to considering seeing if any of Lance's WOOHP buddies want to try and play matchmaker? I'm sure someone there wants to see if he's interested in, I don't know...give me a name would ya?"

Gyarados roared something, not that she understood but the instinctive desire to flee from the roar jogged her mind momentarily to create a name.

"Laura. Yes, someone there has to have seen some Laura in, I don't know, accounting or something and thought 'you know, Lance needs to be hugged more and Laura hugging him would be cute.' I should have those contacts somewhere..."

A finger poked her in the shoulder.

"What?" She turned around, only to find a Gengar floating there. The Gengar grinned, before opening its mouth and unfurling a tongue. At the end of said tongue, was an envelope.

Clair cautiously picked up the oddly dry letter as the Gengar floated in front of her. Ignoring Gyarados's warning growl to the ghost she opened the letter.

"Dear Clair,

Your father asked me if I would marry you. I must decline, for while you are a beautiful woman I am seeing someone right now. Also I have duties to my city that I cannot do in Blackthorn.

If this was your idea, I apologize. If it wasn't, I wish you the best of luck in dealing with this process."

Morty."

Clair stared at the letter for a moment, unsure of what to do.

She felt the need to punch something, but she knew not what.

Gengar gestured at the letter with a grin, and she looked at the ghost oddly. She only got what it was going for after Gengar did a mid-air flip, and so she flipped the letter around.

P.S, if you are upset by your family being old fashioned even be Ecruteak standards, be free to punch Gengar. Gengar won't be harmed nor harm you, and it is oddly relaxing.

Clair looked at the letter, than the ghost, than the letter again.

Gengar gestured at her with a 'bring it' motion, and so she did.


 

That actually did help. She was completely relaxed when she had to utterly beat two trainers later that day.

"Junk mail, junk mail, junk mail..."

Clair was interrupted from the morning routine of checking her emails by a blaring calling program springing up from the background.

Someone was trying to video chat her.

Clair thought for a moment it was Lance, but then she saw the address.

Opelucid City.

This could only end in good.

Given she had a night shirt on she had no reason to decline except for postponing, and given who was calling her hanging up on him would only make things worse.

And so she accepted the call, and the most imposing facial hair of all gym leaders stared back at her.

"Ah Clair, so good to see you, even if it isn't face to face like a proper conversation," Drayden greeted.

"...They called you didn't they?" She might as well get this over with.

Drayden nodded, tersely.

"Yes, they called during our weekly family dinner."

Oh boy...

She knew of Drayden's life outside of his position as a gym leader who could match her in skill. Among them was the fact that Drayden had a family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, whom were all invited to his estate every Sunday for a massive family dinner.

A family dinner Drayden did not ever want to be interrupted during outside of immense emergencies.

"...Were they civil?"

"At first yes...they were. While I do disprove of the concept of marrying people around, one of my grandsons has always been interested in seeing the world beyond Unova and I would not be against having him travel to you and see if such an arrangement would function beyond a mere business transaction..."

Clair was starting to get a mental picture of what had happened. It was not going to be pleasant.

"...He's the one with asthma wasn't he? Crocus?" Nice kid, just really not built for the physical. The lung thing didn't help.

He was a wiz with computers though. She had met him a few times, and while she wasn't sure she could ever love him he was a good guy.

But given how this call was going..

"Your grandfather was fine with it, but the moment Halberd noticed him he had a fit. He claimed that the Wataru clan would not sully itself with weak lungs, and suggested instead my son Watson."

Clair put her face in her hands. She could just tell what happened next.

"...They were, quite insistence that his marriage status did not count and that he should simply come to Johto to marry you," Drayden noted darkly.

Watson. Second eldest grandchild of Drayden, a well respected policeman in the Opelucid Police Department. It was a major event when he got married last year.

All the Gym Leaders of Unova, the Elite Four, and Alder had shown up to the wedding of Watson and an artist he had met while he was in Castelia City for a meeting on law reforms two years ago.

Said artist was now Watson's loving husband.

"...I apologize for everything my family said," she declared sincerely.

"Your grandfather already did so before you, but it does not change the fact that I do not wish to see or hear any of them near my family, ever again."

The Skype call went quiet for a moment before Drayden spoke.

"With your Silver Conference about to begin, you should be entering a break period correct? Perhaps it is time for a vacation, to get away from them."

"With Lance never home I can't exactly skedaddle off to Pummelo or Akala whenever I want. I need to have a reason to do so, and the old fossils aren't exactly giving of that. If it doesn't have anything to do with Dragons I'd get father asking them to stop trying to marry me off."

"Well, this old fossil has an idea that should let you get away from them for a while," Drayden noted with some amusement.

"Tell me, have you ever heard of Cave Island in the Decolores?"


 

A few days later following a confirmation from the League (You have plenty of vacation days available, and days during the Silver Conference do not even count towards them), and a reminder to the fossils that going on quests for Dragons was never against the rules (and the support of her grandfather reminding them of it) found Clair's boots making contact with the dock of a small settlement on Cave Island.

The forests and mountain where said titular cave of Cave Island lay before her, a vast expanse of wilderness that few wandered into, if only because few people came to the Decolores for that purpose.

Few came here for much of any purpose outside of New Tork City inexplicably being a big thing, but that was besides the point.

'I have heard reports of a Shiny Druddigon having been spotted all around Cave Island's interior. I myself would be interested in capturing it, but I have responsibilities. A new Great-Grandchild is coming, and I refuse to miss any of them. I have never missed a birth in my seventy-three years and I do not intend to begin doing so now. If you want to get away, perhaps you can see if you can find it,' Drayden had said.

Thus the point was to find and capture a rare Pokémon, and also to get away from the clan for a while.

Should be fun.

What would not be fun, however, was the distinct lack of things on this island to support her.

A good walking through the town revealed a lack of anything but the driest of basics. Only one hotel that seemed to only get business for 'being the only place in town bar a Pokemon center', a single chains restaurant, limited store options, and no bars.

Maybe. She hadn't looked everywhere yet, but the odds of a bar didn't seem all that likely at this point.

Why did people come out here when not looking for dragons far away from their relatives exactly?

"Ya killed it Deino!"

"Dei!"

The excited voice made Clair freeze in her tracks.

Kill it? Deino?

Someone used a Dragon-type (it was part something else if she recalled, but she wasn't sure what) to kill?!

"…..I can't believe it. That thing wrecked my team." Another voice, sounding dejected sighed as Clair's heart calm downed.

Oh, it was just a figure of speech. Not a literal exclamation of glee over the slaughter of something.

Though as to the full story, she'd have to look for it.

Thankfully though, around the corner she peaked around it to see the source of the sounds.

A young trainer was kneeling in defeat before another trainer, by whom the Deino was bouncing around happily.

The bouncing was youthful, suggesting the Deino was possibly a recent hatchling.

Said Deino's trainer was grinning like mad, which made his face look worse than it already did.

Said trainer's face had the look of what she could only call a thug. His face, smile or not, made him look like the sort of person whom would rob a guy, then kick him and take his shoes. Not just a thief, but a brutal sort of person.

The scar on his left cheek and the red eyes didn't help, though the marks under his eyes were not helping his ability to make policemen instinctively reach for a Growlithe.

The rest of the guy didn't help: the guy was pretty tall, probably taller than Meliae, and wearing a leather jacket and black jeans. A white undershirt covered a fairly muscular torso, shiny black boots his feet, and his head was covered by greasy black hair that she was pretty sure would be considered a crime against fashion trends in some places.

Though oddly enough he seemed a tad familiar, and not just his eyes with that of Meliae's own pair (plus height).

"Deino, you're getting like wow! Didn't plan on getting all the way out here in Nowheresville, but by the time we gotta jet back for Ventress you're gonna be a superstar," said greasy kid declared with a voice that did not detract from the idea of him being capable of breaking into your house and taking your things after hitting you with your own recliner.

"Mein!" Next to him a small yellow and pink Pokemon declared in agreement. Clair had no idea what it was beyond being native to Unova.

She doubted it was a dragon though.

"Ventress….you mean you're…" his opponent questioned as the trainer grinned, before reaching for his leather jacket and ripping it open.

Clair had to remind herself that the guy had a shirt on underneath it, and thus the action was more intended to show off what was inside the jacket.

Specifically an additional layer of white fabric added to the jacket at some point, each side of the white fabric dotted with four badges pinned within them.

On the right side she noted the Basic, Insect, Bolt, and Quake Badges, and on the left the Jet, Freeze, Wave, and Legend Badges.

This guy had beaten Drayden, and many of the other best in Unova it would seem. Given those wins, he was clearly skilled in more ways than just looking tough.

He was tough. She could respect him for that.

Not the odd pose he was doing at the moment to show off the badges, but the accomplishment of those badges.

"Suppose I never did introduce myself. The name's Gray of Castelia City's Narrow Alley, and I'm preparing for the big time! The top of the tops! The Unova League! Thanks for helping my newest partner prepare, it was a real blast, but I've gotta jet. Got places ta be, and things ta smash if I want to be ready for the league!"

"Dei!" Deino chimed in as the three turned around in almost practiced synchronicity.

"Me!" continued the Pokemon she didn't recognize as all three of them walked away in good spirits.

Clair watched them leave, a frown on her face.

Why did that accomplished thug seem familiar, and not just because of her recent battle with Meliae.

Outside of their height and eye color, they looked (and acted) nothing alike. So what was causing her to think the guy looked familiar?

The thought continued for a few more minutes as Clair came across a little corner store, probably the only one in town.

It had the usual: candies and books and drinks and the like. A few major magazines were on display, minor ones apparently not being worth shipping out here.

One of them caught her eye: a trainers magazine that had a few of the notable young trainers who had been popping up in the last few years.

A couple of them were in the Indigo Conference this year: Ash Ketchum, Red Tajiri, Ritchie Raylight, Gary Oak, Jeanette Fisher, and a scowling kid named Paul, along with a few others from other competitions in recent times including Vermell Arcer, Astrid, Black Gaiman, Betty Snyder, Dino, Tyson, and others she didn't recognize.

It was titled 'the New Face of League Challengers', which tied into a talking point about how the leagues were entering a new period of top tier battles and excitement, but the new face comment made her look at a few of them more closely.

Red, Vermell, and Ash to a lesser extent given his smiling face on the cover and lack of red eyes….that Gray kid looked familiar because she had seen their battles on television.

She had seen people who looked like him.

Not sure why that was the case. Was the dark haired creepy look in, though in that case why would the smiling kid have it?

Was there some reversal years ago where it wasn't the blondes having more fun?

Regardless of the reason, she'd have to keep an eye on him. She may have the lay of this little port, emphasis on little, for a base for her hunt, but if he was going to be around he might decide that she would be a good training practice for the league.

He'd probably be a good challenge, but she wasn't here to fight thugs. She was going to find a rare Druddigon.

"Hey miss, you buyin'?"

She also wasn't here to buy magazines that she was only looking at the cover of to figure out why a random kid looked familiar, and so she left.


 

First things first: get a lay of the land.

Figure out where the Druddigon might be, and work from there.

Clair would be the first to admit that she was no expert on Unovan Dragons, but she knew that the methods she'd use with her dragons would not be the most effective.

They were aquatic after all.

Fishing would find her nothing, but perhaps a large body of fresh water would. Druddigon should need to drink after all.

Thankfully after only a moderate amount of hiking into the interior, she found herself at a nice little pond. Clear, well forested…

"Scol!"

And inhabited.

Charging at her from the left side of the pond was a large purple Pokemon, with a lot of pink and black coloring to it as well. It was elongated in shape, and had a pair of horns sticking out of its head.

Said horns were lowered and glowing.

Meaning Poison. It looked like a Bug-type too….

So this 'Scol' was a Bug-Poison type.

With that in mind she avoided the charging jab and threw a Pokeball into the water.

Bursting out of it was Kingdra, who did not need any explanation of what was needed.

"Scol!" the Pokemon bellowed again before firing what looked like a Poison Sting attack at her.

She avoided it, though the hissing sound suggested a poor tree hadn't.

Immediately after said hissing Kingdra had shot a Hydro Pump, the water attack blasting the 'Scol' away and into the woods.

After a few seconds she did not hear any more shouting, or the sound of Poison Sting.

It was probably not going to bother them again.

"Good work Kingdra," she told the water dragon, who bubbled in thanks.

Kingdra submerged, possibly wanting to make sure there wasn't anything dangerous under the water.

Watching the ripples fade away as Kingdra went on a search, she couldn't help but smile.

One difference between Lance and herself was in what sort of Dragon and dragon-like Pokémon they preferred. Lance had always been fond of the sky, and thus had always preferred flying Dragons.

She on the other hand had always preferred the aquatic ones. There was something about using water to elude ones foes that she always liked as a tactic, and the mysteries at the bottom of pools always interested her more than the mysterious high on hills and mountains.

Neither of them disliked the other types of Dragon nor refused to use them, but there was a reason she preferred to use Dragonair in battle instead of Dragonite.

Kingdra resurfaced with a bellow that meant the water was safe. She nodded in thanks before returning Kingdra.

Like any true Pokémon Master, she had learned how to pick on what a Pokémon was saying. She couldn't understand it exactly, but the intent, the meaning, the point was always clear.

If one could not learn how to pick this up, you had no place in the world of Pokémon Training, and you might as well go become an office worker.

More hiking had given Clair a lay of the land, and post hiking research had given her a better idea of where she should be looking.

She should probably have gotten a map or looked up what a Druddigon would prefer in habitat, but given that there had not been much time between 'Drayden suggesting this hunt' and 'her telling the family and getting on an airport shuttle', a google search had been low on her priorities list.

Thankfully the time it took for the island Nurse Joy to heal the Pokémon she had on hand after a few bouts with some local territorial Pokémon let her access a courtesy computer, and some old articles from Cedric Juniper.

Druddigon, according to the first Juniper, lived and hunted in caves. They were usually visible when they were sunning themselves at the mouth of them, but otherwise spent most of their time in the depths of cave systems.

They didn't leave them in the wild for any natural reason.

So her pond stake out idea would be a no go, and she'd be limited to only the two Dragonair she had with her.

Kingdra wasn't good in caves, and the Gyarados she had on her would probably be unable to fit in them that well.

She could work with that, but it would not be as simple as she'd have hoped.

But simplicity would mean she'd have to go home early, so she should be glad for the lengthier adventure at least.

BOOM!

An explosion went off on the side, drawing her attention away from the monitor before the idea of looking up anything else could come up.

She had heard mention that a Don George had moved to this island recently to set up a battle club (though for what reason she could not fathom). The battle club was in a side building to the Pokemon Center, and could be reached through a door on the right of the building.

As that was where the sound had originated from, it was obvious a battle was going on.

Her curiosity peaked, she went to take a look.

The battle arena lacked some polish on the edge, but it looked like a Battle Club inside. Same arena set up, same scoreboard, same muscular man judging things with some people on the edge of the arena or outside it watching the fight.

It was a double battle. One of the opponents was some girl named Kendra, who had a Beedrill along with some sort of….Pokémon with her.

It looked more like a garbage bag that started moving if she had to be frank.

She knew the Decolores had a mix of Pokémon generally found in the Kanto and Unova regions, especially as one went south from New Tork City (which she was to the south too), perhaps that was where the Beedrill had come from.

"It's about time I end this Dolly," her opponent quipped, and Clair noticed that it was that Gray character again.

Still in his jacket, he pointed at Kendra's Pokémon.

"Let's wrap this up lickety split." What language was this guy speaking?

"Mienfoo use Aura Sphere."

"Mein!" the non dragon she had seen him use declared as a blue sphere began forming between the Pokemon's hands.

"Krookodile, Stone Edge."

"Krook!" His other Pokémon, a large red Pokémon that reminded Clair of a dragon, punched the ground and sent a line of blue stones right at the two Pokémon opposing it. Mienfoo followed with a thrown Aura Sphere.

"Beedrill use Pro…" Kendra tried to call, but the two attacks collided before she could finish, knocking both of them down.

"Beedrill and Garbodor are unable to battle! The winner is Grayson!"

"It's Gray gramps, just Gray," Gray declared with some annoyance, before smiling.

"Still awesome you two! Unreal!"

"Mien!"

"Krook!"

Both Pokémon promptly joined him in making that strange pose thing he did after showing off. With that was her cue to turn around and leave.

Again with that wierdo.


 

The next day and Clair was a good way into the titular cave system, the cave lacking natural light that would impede the average person.

She was of course not average, so she had a solution to this dilemma.

"Dragonair, Thunderbolt!"

The cave was briefly lit up as the electrical attack sparked at the tip of Dragonair's horn before firing, blasting into a large swarm of pink fuzzy….Zubat that weren't Zubat.

They weren't even Noibat, just Zubat someone had stuck died Mareep fluff on.

Whatever they were called, the electrical blast dispersed them, and the only light in the cave was now the soft blue glow from Dragonair's gem.

Dragonair: fully capable of providing light without teaching a move that was only good for blinding people once before they knew to avoid it. Also a benefit of not evolving them.

Dragonite were not capable of double duty as reading lights at night after all. Or nightlights when she was a little girl, but that was neither here nor there.

"Good work." She congratulated her partner before resuming their trek inward.

After a minute she stopped, causing Dragonair to let out an inquisitive hum.

"Could you move the light over here? I need to look at this wall," Clair requested. Dragonair obliged, and Clair saw it clearly.

Marked scratches on the wall.

"…..Well, assuming you can trust academic proofreading, this is Druddigon sign."

Dragonair hummed in acknowledgement before staring down the tunnel. Perhaps wondering if it was watching them, ready to attack.

Clair removed a glove and rubbed the markings with her finger.

"….This feels like it was going to the cave entrance. So we just keep going in and we should find it."

Dragonair hummed once more, before sharply turning back to the entrance. A nervous reaction.

"Is something coming in?" Clair questioned as a bright light blinded them and lit the cave with light.

Flash. Someone actually using the move for the purpose that was made obsolete by flashlights?

"Well if it isn't the oddly-dressed woman I've been seeing around town. Well I guess if you've got a classy chassis you have all the right to run around in…whatever it is you are wearing. Spandex right? Dig the cape though."

It was that Gray kid, standing between her and the cave exit doing that stupid pose he kept doing, mirrored by his Mienfoo.

It must have used Flash….though it seemed like an odd Pokémon to be able to use it. But what else could have done it?

His words though…

Clair wasn't sure what 'classy chassis' was supposed to be, or what language it was from, but if it was a comment about her being attractive….

Well yes, she was. She was hardly going to deny it. Though she'd have to look up what she was being compared to.

Even if it was meant in complement, being compared to, say, an Ursaring was not how she preferred to be complimented.

"Yeah, and you're one to talk about odd dress. Who even wears leather jackets anymore?"

He looked annoyed at her for the comment.

"I do, don't talk smack about them. Leather jackets are the bomb."

"Mien!"

Again with the…slang? Jibberish? Translation error?

"So, while I'm not entirely sure what that underfed Serperior you've got there is exactly, but I'm guessin' you are here for that Druddigon they've been talking about."

"Yeah I am." He was going to say something like 'sorry throw random word here, but I'm gonna get it,' wasn't he?

"Sorry doll, but I'm gonna be catchin' that Druddigon. Me and Deino are tight, but I'd appreciate someone who can give my little bud some lessons in Dragoning before I go off to Ventress. Plus I doubt anything's going to be tossing it at me, which would be a nice change of pace. No Mienfoo pushing you out of the way of a car, no Sandile falling out of trees, no eggs hitting you upside the head, the works."

If she was Drayden, this would probably be the place she'd flex her muscles in a establishment of superior strength, release his Haxorus, flex muscles with Haxorus in tandem to further establish superiority, declare he was going to 'be all the lesson you need', then spend several hours teaching the kid before sending him on his merry way.

If she was Drasna, she'd probably smile, laugh kindly, and offer to teach Deino herself at his earliest possible convenience. Home-made cookies might also be added in, depending on the season. Kalosians couldn't go five minute without cooking something.

"Plus Emmy had a Druddigon, and it would be nice to have one myself. A nice reminder is all."

She was neither Drayden nor Drasna, and this kid, for all she could emphasize with his desire to work better with a dragon….was annoying.

Also if he did capture Druddigon, she'd probably get an uncle or two calling her a failure or something. She did not need that added to the idiocy the fossils were doing.

"Well I'm afraid I am going to have to tell you to get another memento for your girlfriend," Clair told the boy before releasing her other Dragonair she had with her as a bit of additional intimidation given her lack of Drayden's beard of terror.

The two dragons glared the boy down, who was now looking at her with a…actually disturbing glare.

"You really should know when to stop talking." He actually sounded menacing, furious.

It wasn't the sound of someone who was angry she had defeated them, with or without a Gyarados. It wasn't the annoyed sound of a fossil ranting.

It was beyond those levels of anger.

She…may have pushed a button somewhere that she should have avoided. The girlfriend comment maybe?

The Dragonair tensed as he grabbed two Pokéballs from his belt. Even the Mienfoo was looking at him in concern, though in a way that felt more like 'I know the woman said something horrible, don't do something you'll regret', than 'why are you suddenly so angry'.

She didn't recognize one of the ball designs: entirely pink with a dark pink spot above the activation button. It didn't look like one of Kurt's Love Balls…

"Attack!" he declared as he threw both of the Pokeballs at her.

The regular one released the same type of large bug that she had blown away with Kingdra earlier. In fact it looked enough like it (because contrary to what some said, you could pick up on similarities), that she wondered if it was the same one.

His idle chatter about Pokémon always hitting him before he catches them would work with how she blasted it through the woods.

The other came out of the ball she was unfamiliar with, revealing an orange Pokemon that looked it was wearing baggy pants and a hoody.

It glared at her, matched by an annoyed look of familiarity on the bug that gave strength to the idea that this was the same one she blasted yesterday, before lunging at her.

"Block!" She didn't give an exact command, that would only waste time.

In tandem they choose to use a tail based attack, most likely in response to the physical attacks the attacking two were using.

A Iron Tail blocked into the bug's Poison Tail, while a Dragon Tail's green glow clashed with the orange Pokemon's Focus Punch.

The impact of the two attacks sent a shockwave through the cave, shaking the walls and even shattering a few pebbles around her feet.

"Aura Sp…!" Gray was about to shout, only for a brown shape to blur in front of him.

A identical one teleported facing her and her Dragonair, who slunk back to defend her as they noted what they were, and that at least the one her way was glaring at her.

Gray's Pokémon eyed them cautiously, not knowing what they were, but she did.

"Abra," she whispered as the two Abra glaring them down were joined by another two.

Their attack exchange must have disturbed their slumber.

That was not a good thing. Abra did not like being disturbed while sleeping. It made them irritable.

Irritable teleporters were never fun.

"Can't say I've seen your kind before. What's your bag?!" Gray demanded in that strange way he kept talking.

That demand drew the two that were glaring her to him, and all four of them telekinetically lunged, grabbing hold of Gray and all three of his Pokémon.

"Let go of me you….wait are you teleporters? Not again…"

And all four of them were teleported away.

Clair stared at the spot where Gray and his Pokémon had been for a moment, before turning and leaving.

The kid was gone now, the Abra probably were as well, and staring at the spot was not going to find her Druddigon.

The Druddigon was waiting for her a half hour further into the cave, and it was indeed of a different color.

Instead of blue and red, it was green and orange. It sniffed at her, before noting her two Dragonair and growling.

The Dragonair tensed, ready to attack if need be.

Clair held up a hand, and they relaxed a tad as she walked forward.

Druddigon continued to growl at her threateningly as she approached, before stopping.

Druddigion growling rose an octave, only to dim down as it saw what she had in hand.

"A Liechi Berry." She explained as she slowly knelt down and placed the berry between them. Standing back up Druddigon eyed her, then the berry, then her again, before slowly reaching for the berry.

The Dragon snatched it quickly and quickly ate it up as Clair smiled.

A Dragon master could obtain Dragons to train in a myriad of ways. Sometimes you did so like any run of the mill trainer, by earning the respect of Dragons in battle and defeating them.

Other times a Dragon Master was warranted to earn the Dragon's respect and loyalty and have them decide to join you on their own.

It was a lot slower than respect through battling, but when possible it was expected to gain their allegiance that way.

That was what a proper Dragon Master was expected to do.

….

She emerged from the cave five hours later, and the next day found Clair back on the ship line that served the Decolores, leaning over the rail as the sea breeze wafted through the air.

It was relaxing, and more importantly far away from the fossils. She would enjoy this for as long as she could.

"Biiii."

Her attention was caught by the bell like call of a Pokemon she didn't recognize, even as a Tentacruel rose up from the sea into view.

She recognized it, but the Pokémon that called out Bii was a new one to her. As was the hazy green glow that was forming above the Tentacruel.

And out of said green haze fell Gray and his Mienfoo, who looked discombobulated.

Yeah, that was the world for it.

"…I hate teleporters…" Gray muttered in his discombobulation.

"Mien."

Tentacruel was looking annoyed at having things on top of itself, so they'd have to be retrieved pretty quickly.

"Hey Porter, I'm going to release my Gyarados! Don't freak out!" She declared seconds before the act.


"…Well, you won't be going on vacation there again. Still, I think you did the right thing."

"I hate lawyers."

A few months and some legal action later found Clair back home, her grandfather having requested she join him watching some league fights with him.

Given he was easily her second favorite family member at this point (given he was capable of appreciating parts of her that did not carry ovum at this point), she had no reason to say no.

He also kept the good popcorn to himself, so this was a rare chance to have some.

"Well, you saved the boy. That was worth it I think," Javelin mused as Clair sighed.

"Yeah, getting a strange kid to stop being angry at me for commenting about his girlfriend was worth having to explain to ferry lawyers why I let a Gyarados out near people."

Her snark rose a bit as she noted the league match they had one had Gray in it, said jacket wearing wierdo in full control of the first round match in progress.

His opponent screaming about Hexagons while a Musharna sucked on his head made her shake her head, even as Gray's Mienfoo was beating up some sort of metallic grass type.

The previous league winner was a kid named Black, who did in fact use a Musharna to suck out excess thoughts, and he did once shout about hexagons while doing so.

However Black was apparently on some sort of spectrum, from what she heard. Apparently whatever spectrum he was on handled having your head sucked on by some polka dot opium Drowzee better than a regular joe.

So now the Unovans had to go through at least a few years of people trying to imitate a once off oddity to horrible results. It could explain why she noted their gym leaders win percentages were up this year.

"You curious about the kid?"

"No," she bluntly told her grandfather, who chuckled.

"Well I looked it up and your father would get nothing of it, so enjoy my ramble. Kid's name is Grayson Bebop, and he hails from Castelia City."

"I knew that." Well not the last name but she knew that he came from the same city as the weird bug gym leader.

As opposed to their Bug-type gym leader, owner of the shortest shorts wearable by men.

"What you probably don't know is why he poses like that?" Javelin noted Mr. Bebop doing just that with Mienfoo as the metallic plant was returned in defeat, the opening round over.

"Enlighten me." The sarcasm was thicker than seed boys defeat.

"Apparently the kid spent most of his youth as a member of a gang. Nothing serious, just the type who run around and glare at one another, occasionally spray painting or punching fest not withstanding. That was their thing, as the kids say."

"Posing like dorks?" Yes, truly the mark of scary gangs. Their silly pose ability.

"Perhaps, but perhaps to them it is the pinnacle of cool. Unovans are strange people after all, have you ever met a Connoisseur? Regardless as you might have picked up, he is no longer with them. Well, that is probably why he got so upset with you for mocking his girlfriend."

"I did not…"

"At least to him you seem to have, and that is probably what got him so angry with you. You see, she was an associate of the gang, and thus like all the rest of his brothers in silly hand signs, is now dead."

Javelin's blunt tone got her attention away from the television, as Javelin continued.

"Yes, an old friend of mine sent me over the police report. Gray was in police questioning at the time for an unrelated case of vandalism he got fingered for, incorrectly as it turned out. He left on his journey after they got the people that seemed responsible, and apparently he does their gang signal when he can to honor their memory. An 'I'll carry out our name' sort of thing."

"You said 'seemed responsible'," Clair caught as her grandfather nodded.

"Yes. The guys they booked were guilty of similar crimes at the same time, so it was originally assumed Gray's group was caught up in it, but later investigation showed that to not be the case. Apparently someone else killed his friends, not that I think the kid is aware of it yet. Whoever it was, he did it a lot more efficiently than the other deaths at the time, which is what caught the investigators eyes. Compared to the other killings, their deaths looked like the work of another."

Clair noted that fact with uneasy nod, not much she could do about it. She was hardly likely to see Gray again to tell him 'oh yeah, your girlfriend's killer is actually still out there.' The affairs of city gangsters were not her responsibility. Blackthorn didn't have them.

"Oh, and that 'Biii' you mentioned," Javelin said the call in a very odd sounding high pitch voice.

"That was probably a Celebi, according to another of my old buddies."

Clair stared at her grandfather in surprise at that revelation.

Celebi. The time traveling forest spirit?

"Time, and as some theorize, space. But who knows if that's true? That's the field of theorists and novelists to delve into…now shhh. This battle actually looks interesting."


 

Earlier in the story (because putting in a time stamp for time travel is complicated), a very different place and time

Two strangers walked through a forest, alone with the wind and the chittering of distant Pidgey, obscured by cloaks and hoods.

Not that that was something they could be relaxed in. This was not the forests of their home.

Here, Pidgey were far more dangerous. Many men lost their eyes defending their crops from what would be called common amusements in later eras. But that took Professor Oak.

Professor Oak would not be born for several centuries. If at all in this universe.

The two stopped as they came upon two oddities lying in the road.

It was telling when the Mienfoo was the least odd thing here, given it was not native. The boy's clothes were very atypical for this time and place.

"Celebi energy detected," One of the hooded individuals declared in a inhuman tone that would in more developed worlds be known as the machine monotone.

"I suspected that was the case," the other noted in a normal tone as he knelt in front of the kid and checked his pulse, followed by that of Mienfoo.

"Update, I was able to get a reading on both his world of origin as well as his placement in that world's timespan. It's actually the same as yours, though I cannot say for sure if his time position is accurate. Perhaps you would like to go home?" The monotone one asked the human as said human shook his head.

"No. I've been gone too long, and I do not want to deal with paparazzi, or time travel mishaps. I have no interest in going back too far and ending up my own grandfather."

The man removed his hood, revealing a head of long, unruly grayish blue hair. It was a face many in his universe would likely recognize in infamy.

"Clembot, ensure you have his time dispersion saved into your memory, then let's get back to the wormhole. Our work here is done, and once we're back at Queen Acerola's court we can begin the task of finding a Celebi or a Adamant Orb that can take the kid back. No need to have more people lost than necessary." Tobias, tamer of legendary Pokemon and champion of the Sinnoh League undefeated in any battle but a 6-2 victory against Casey Snagem, declared as Clembot scoffed.

"You act as if I have not already recorded that, as well as additional information. Perhaps this man has information on the whereabouts of Wes, but his survival is already a sign that even our botched mission was a success. Originally Grayson Bebop was supposed to die in a failed attempt to avoid being captured by the Emissary, but this one is much older and from the correct timeline of origin. Clearly time has changed."

"Time changes all the time," Tobias noted as Clembot hoisted Grayson over his left shoulder, even as he refit his food, placed Mienfoo under his right arm, and followed Clembot down the path towards where their Ultra Wormhole was hidden.