The Pugilian Colosseum was a marvel; the smooth sandstone walls pierced the cloudless cerulean sky, enclosing the arena within from the vast world outside. The exterior walls were topped like castles in deep burgundy clay, the same color as the famous left-handed Hitmonchan’s boxing gloves that had slammed Conkeldurr the Great square in his clown-shaped nose over thirty years ago. Gold trim rounded out the extravagant arena, boasting prowess, wealth, and maturity just in its appearance alone. However, Pugilis had much more to offer than just aesthetic.
History was made within The Pug news time and time again, with records being broken before the team of Smeargle journalists had even updated the new holders. However, today was special, as it marked the 20th anniversary of Pugilis’ rise to the most prosperous country in Ransei: King Pangoro’s victory in The Great EdgeQuake, a multi-generational war in the west.
The Fistival, as it quickly became known as, had steadily grown in popularity as Pugilis recovered from the war, with numerous speeches, classes, and games associating with times for celebration. Balloons, streamers, pop-up shops--all filled the streets and neighborhoods close to the Pugilis capital in the week leading up to the festivities. Banners were spread along walls, doorways, and signs to advertise and commemorate the event. Recently, its numbers surged since Pangoro’s own Prince Riolu, named Ryuunosuke, became old enough to participate in one of Pugilis’ most valued activities: the Pokemon battle. Riolu was once again dominating the young adult category, and today could earn him his thirteenth consecutive win.
In one of the dimly-lit prep rooms beneath the colosseum stands, a teddy-bear Pokemon waddled slowly along the dirt floor, her stubby brown legs squeaking lightly on each step. Usually, Stufful would give the prince a quick pep talk and shove him on his merry way out the arena door to start the action. This time, though, she put a round paw to her head in distress and then threw it out in protest at the bipedal puppy royalty.
“You’ve been on a roll here, Prince Ryuu. Twelve consecutive wins? Great work so far. But this Hariyama is a big one. What’s the game plan this time?” Stufful asked.
“I plan to navigate my opponent’s weaknesses and exploit them with brute force,” the prince replied blankly. His deep brown eyes were closed and his mask-like face was covered in the shadows of the dark room.
Stufful’s sharp gaze shot an angry aura into the air. “I’m fixing to make bank if we pull this one off. I need you to stop fighting with that stick up your royal--”
The Emanation Pokemon cleared his throat loudly, raising a furry fist to his mouth. “I fight by the Kakutou. You know that.”
Prince Ryuunosuke was a young, energetic Riolu. An only child of the war veteran King Pangoro, the Riolu was given undivided attention as crown prince of his kingdom. Ryuu was infamous for abiding by the Kakutou Code, an ancient (and arguably outdated) dedication to physical attacks, believing only direct hits are worthy exchange. Though the Lucario bloodline was renowned for its aura, the prince--raised by his father--was one of few who still practiced the respectful vow.
“Yeah, yeah, trust me, I know. Still, let me teach you that move this time. Your little puppy paws might not cut it against Maku,” she frowned, imagining a small dog getting squashed by the sumo wrestling Pokemon.
“Stufful, I acknowledge and admire your dedication as my manager. However, you know perfectly well that I do not trifle with stat raising. Besides, Maku has a large body with disproportionate arms, and he has not yet learned to wield his weight properly. I will not yield and go against my own code for either of your sakes.”
The Riolu paced relentlessly in the arena chamber. To his left, the opening in the room led to the light of the showdown. He stepped closer.
“You’re gonna lose that moxie again, just like you did against The Medichampion,” Stufful said, shaking her head at the memory. “You’re too old school for your own good. I’ma see if I can get that money back…Be careful out there.”
. . .
“On the left side, we have our next challenger, the polished Hariyama, an up-and-coming star from the Sumo District!” squealed a referee Mienshao, his whip-like arms extended dramatically toward the left side of the stadium. He wore a black-and-white striped shirt over his pale purple fur and sported a tall white hat trimmed in gold. As his arms waved with elegance, golden tassels flailed in the wind at his shoulders. Despite the black and white, he was easily the most colorful person in the stadium.
In the stands, many Fighting-type Pokemon, some as former competitors and others as spectators, cheered on the event with a deep, hearty roar. Pokemon of other types and kingdoms also watched in the stands--varying from neighbor nations like the Fire-type kingdom of Ignis to the distant Avian Kingdom of birds in the east. Notably, Prince Scyther of the subsidiary Chrysalian colony took a front-row seat. Pokemon from all over enjoy the Fistival-- due in part to the games and unusually playful atmosphere of the Fighting-types, but also to diplomatic and political motivations as well. In the closest rows to the chalk-outlined arena, a pack of Smeargle were taking notes and painting portraits for news headlines across the Ransei region.
“Hariyama is coming off a fresh evolution into today’s matchup. He’s in his mid twenties, having grown up as member of the Fundoshi sect of his family line, and has made a name for himself in the Sumo District since his time in diapers. He seems fired up to go against our own prince in this year’s Fistival!” Mienshao said, ending his announcement almost in song.
Hariyama stepped out from the shadows and stomped a large sumo foot into the clay arena. He let out a bellowing battle cry that resonated deep from within his belly. His large, pale body quaked in enthusiasm, and the crowd cheered at the energy.
“And on our right side, with twelve consecutive wins in our arena, we have the esteemed Prince Riolu.”
The crowd roared in excitement, causing reverberations throughout the colosseum. Prince Scyther remained in his seat, unmoved and fixated on the other prince’s entrance. A sense of disdain filled his eyes.
Hariyama’s body first shivered in anticipation, but that anticipation was soon eclipsed by nerves as the shadow of the young, prodigious Prince Riolu stepped into view.
. . .
“Right this way, Lord Scizor. His Majesty is waiting for you in the conference room.”
Scizor was led in by an anxious Heracross, one of many rhinoceros beetle servants that littered the Pugilian grounds, and guided deep into the dim conference room of the palace. The path was lit only with scattered lamps that burned weakly along the smooth, windowless walls. Scizor strained his tired eyes into the darkness, but he could only make out a few feet in advance. The tap of his metal cane echoed across the hallway, each tap in rhythm with the scurrying of the Heracross. He uttered a light curse under his breath; how had he regressed so far?
The Fighting/Bug-type servant quickly showed Scizor to a red armchair, padded with lightweight wool shorn from newborn Mareep, and thanked him for his services to the kingdom. The nervous beetle stared at the insect, who was still standing, for a long second, his knobby exoskeleton clicking in the silence, and then turned his gaze across the ovular table, made of the finest oak in Greenleaf. Heracross bowed, paid his respects to the king, and left for tea to give the two privacy.
“Thank you, Heracross,” the king spoke with gusto. Only his outline present, he struck a match and lit a lone candle at the table’s center. The flame violated the candle wick, taking over with ease. The wick quickly became overwhelmed by the flame’s power. He looked back to the welcomed guest and cleared his throat. “I appreciate you for coming in, Simon. I know it’s gotten harder for you these days. Please, take a seat.”
The Pincer Pokémon grimaced as he struggled into the cushioned armchair. He set his metal cane against the arm and scuffled around to its front. His legs shook with the stress until he finally plopped into a comfortable position in the velvet fabric. He stretched his worn limbs, the red shell riddled with dents and scratches. Battle scars, his son had insisted. Dents nonetheless.
Scizor strained his eyes to make out the host; the king had a brutish figure and a gaze that would send a Serperior into paralysis. A large, proud bear Pokemon, King Pangoro’s jungle of thick black and white fur hid the sheer size of his musculature. He was only but a decade younger than Scizor, yet he was gifted with seemingly endless youth. In the back, his long fur draped over his shoulders and extended out like a cape. In every sense, he was like a model superhero.
“Nice to see you again, Maurice,” Scizor said with a weak smile.
“You’re looking as young as ever, Simon,” Pangoro cracked. He fiddled with a long, thin shoot in his mouth, moving his tongue to play as he thought.
“And you look old,” Scizor said back with a quick chortle. “My son has been taking care of much of my responsibilities, so I have been living my last few years in peace. The Chrysalian Colony will remain well cared for, it seems.”
Heracross returned with a delicate tray carrying two porcelain cups of hot tea stirred in the hot springs of Ignis. He set the tray on the table and bowed as he exited, disappeared behind a pair of orange curtains, and scuttled toward another chore in the palace.
Pangoro lifted his cup before replying. “Of course it will, my friend. As it is subsidiary to Pugilis, I can only promise the best staff to assist with your son’s supervisory.” He took a sip from the porcelain and his face twisted, flicking his tongue out. “Needs some sugar,” he said.
The king glanced over Scizor’s back towards the exit, saw no sign of his aides, and pulled a small jar out from under the table. “They’ve been trying to watch my sugar intake, so I have to snag some when no one’s looking. Luckily no one in the kingdom has the Frisk ability,” he jested.
Scizor smirked. “That sounds inconvenient. You should be careful, though, Maurice, or you’ll gain that weight back.” The Bug-type lord grabbed the tea cup with his pincers, which snapped the ceramic white handle right off. The cup shattered on its small saucer and hot tea flicked onto Scizor’s exoskeleton. He cursed Arceus and brought his hands toward his wrinkled, frowning eyes. “I can pay for that.”
The King of Pugilis laughed and sent for a servant to fetch a more proper cup for Scizor. Another Heracross came in to sweep the porcelain remnants up and bowed as he exited. The two were left alone once more.
“And how is your Riolu?”
. . .
Few Pokemon have been recorded breaking the ten-win streak. As their matches became progressively harder, their challengers often spent more time researching weaknesses and training advantages to thwart any attempts at a sweep. As such, Prince Riolu was never expected to reach such heights not just once, but twice, at his age--particularly because of his reliance on Kakutou-style attacks and inexperience in defending against ranged strategies. His previous loss to a Medicham was a crushing defeat; due to its Psychic-type attacks, he only managed a stray punch or two before being taken down with ease.
So as Mienshao waved for the fight to begin, and Hariyama steadied himself firmly into place, Prince Riolu’s chances to succeed were split: it would be his quick wit and intuition versus Hariyama’s sheer mass and clear advantage in varying attack styles.
“Aaaaand……” Mienshao paused to add tension.
He narrowed his eyes and focused ahead.
A black back paw launched off the ground as Riolu swiftly leapt to the heavyset Pokemon. His feeler ears waved at wild angles in the inertia of his precise zig-zags. His right arm changed from a light blue to a shiny steel. He reared it back and went in straight for the belly punch.
“And there’s Prince Riolu’s classic Bullet Punch priority! To you young folks, that’s a Quick Attack variation he learned from King Pangoro’s own teachings! How will Maku respond?” Mienshao narrated, though no one seemed to be listening. Everyone was focused on Riolu’s amazing speed.
The prince felt his body lurch toward Hariyama and went in for the direct hit. His arm extended forward like a bullet first exiting the chamber of its firearm. The attack was an easy guarantee at damage; not many Pokemon could counter such sound strategy.
Splat!! Hariyama, who had remained unmoved during the entire display, surprised the prince with an even truer first guarantee. His large palm slammed Riolu back, knocking him from his footing and causing the Bullet Punch to waver.
“Maku counters with a Fake Out! What an easy flinch...”
The crowd booed at the cheap play, however Riolu had not flinched. He landed on his back foot and, his Bullet Punch still in the grasp of Maku’s outstretched hand, switched dominant hands--transferring the metallic fist from his right to his left--and pushed the Steel-type attack into the jaw of the Arm Thrust Pokemon.
“...except it appears he forgot the prince’s Inner Focus!”
However, Hariyama quickly recovered and used his original palm, the same that had caught the fist, and slammed Riolu into the dusty arena floor face-first with a powerful Knock Off attack. Riolu crashed hard, yelping on impact, but he quickly entangled his feet with Hariyama’s and launched a Low Kick to send the sumo wrestler down as well. In one swift series of attacks, both Pokemon used every instant for counterplay.
The pale Fighting-type’s eyes bulged as he felt his weight go down to the ground, however he quickly smirked and fell sharply onto his backside to create an Earthquake attack.
Riolu noticed the facial change and sprung to his feet, jumping a leap of adrenaline into an empty Sky Uppercut attack--a move only aiming to get him off the ground. The colosseum quaked as the arena became filled with cracks from the powerful attack. Dust rose into the air, causing many Pokemon in the stands to start coughing fits.
The prince, still in the sky, slowly fell down to a prepared Hariyama sitting below. Desperate for ideas, Riolu realized he was falling to his own demise. The entire exchange had occurred in all of thirty seconds. However, the fall felt like an eternity. Desperate, he turned a fist into a Bullet Punch and rocketed toward the heavy-bodied opponent.
Hariyama waited for the Riolu, falling fist-first, to get within the range of his final attack. The Fighting-type slammed his belly hard in preparation and thrusted his arms into a Close Combat attack, countering Riolu’s Bullet Punch and slamming into his face. Riolu’s body twisted downward, his head falling back and his feet going forward from the blow of the impact.
The prince looked at the crowd while upside down middair. He saw Prince Scyther swallow deeply in the front row. He seemed anxious and impatient. Other fans, though, were nearly foaming at their mouths at the intensity of the battle.
With only inches until his head would hit the ground, Riolu used a Low Kick on Hariyama’s belly to desperately rocket away from the threat. The opponent Pokemon was knocked back by the initial shock, though the move was not a direct hit. Nevertheless, Prince Riolu succeeded in giving himself time to crash with distance between them and recover from the landing. His health dipping low, he felt dizzy from the barrage of attacks. Hariyama, too, was sweating from the fast pace.
“I am honored to participate in such a match, however your record ends with me, my Prince,” the evolved Pokemon rumbled.
Riolu smiled. “I am humbled to claim my thirteenth victory to such a viable opponent.”
. . .
Pangoro’s bright smile quickly turned indifferent. His eyes, first filled with laughter, died in quietness. The panda fiddled with his shoot as he carefully chose the right words.
“Ryuunosuke is a great fighter--perhaps among some of the strongest in the kingdom, even. He has fantastic raw power, nice speed, professional etiquette…but he fights like a Pancham, not like a Riolu. His connection with aura is, well,” he paused, “it isn’t there. If Akari were here, she could train him in aura much better than I or Mienshao ever could. He needs help, but we can discuss that another time.”
At the mention of his friend’s late wife, Scizor felt his stomach churn unapologetically. It was time to move on from the family chat. “I love our catch-ups, Maurice, we need to do them more often. But just tell me: what is the real reason you called me here? On the Fistival, of all days?”
Pangoro grimaced at the topic change and cleared his throat. He grabbed the shoot from his mouth and began fiddling it between his fingers. The Fighting-type king said with a chuckle, “You always were the straightforward one.”
. . .
With newfound determination, Riolu began racing once more to the towering menace. Hariyama were notorious for their bulk and stamina, however their durability also offered an avenue to victory.
The prince dodged a Knock Off attempt and slammed Hariyama squarely with a powerful Sky Uppercut, causing the Pokemon to hop backward on one foot from the blow. Hariyama, his stamina now reaching its end, desperately slapped the air with a Close Combat. The fist hit Riolu between the eyes and opened to grab his skull. Blood flew from the young prince’s nose as the crowd gasped in fright. However, the fight wasn’t over. Riolu, nearly faint from the direct hit, created a deep red energy surrounding his fist. His head still locked by the opponent, the prince swung his body forward and threw a Counter attack straight into the enemy’s belly. Hariyama spit out in pain and lost his grip on the prince’s skull as Riolu drove his fist deeper into the torso.
Between the defense drops from the several Close Combat attacks and the reversion in Counter, Riolu’s powerful attack seemed to be in slow motion when compared to Hariyama’s blowback. The Arm Thrust Pokemon rolled across the arena and against the colosseum wall. He writhed in pain until he loosened the tension in his muscles and resigned from the game. Prince Riolu, follower of the Kakutou, had earned his thirteenth win.
. . .
“Do you remember when we all joined together to stop Terrera from overtaking central Ransei so long ago? Akari and I were a great couple, but you and I were a great team. Those Excadrill were a piece of cake, but that Steelix was a toughie,” Pangoro chuckled. “We really showed—”
“Spit it out, Maurice. What do you need?”
The dim room became silent. Pangoro shifted uncomfortably in his seat and let out a large sigh. He fiddled with his shoot and eventually nodded to himself. “Back then, things were easy for us. You were younger, I was happier—but you can’t tell me now that you’ve been ignoring the Morning Sun party’s rise in Ignis? It’s a threat to Southwest Ransei, and we both know how hard it is to balance the fire-water-grass kingdoms. We can contain their radicalization before it spreads,” he explained. “Simon, you know your kingdom is also in danger. Ignis is a very offensive nation and should have no trouble disposing of the weaker kingdoms.”
Scizor’s face remained unchanged. He finished his tea and set the cup on the wooden table. He grabbed a napkin from nearby and wiped his scratched claws until he could see his reflection. The deep indentions and scratches filled him with memories of war and triumph. “The Morning Suns have won Lord Volcarona’s support in restructuring their trade and workforce systems. Stepping in her boundaries would be an act of war, Maurice. We’re too old to deal with these affairs. Leave it to the kids.”
Volcarona was a high-ranking noble of the Fire-type kingdom known as Ignis, but she was notorious for overriding the authority of the Ignisian King, a Pyroar sorely out of touch with his constituents. Volcarona’s violent tactics were very noticeable abroad, however no one dared trifle near Pugilis’ main base. They feared it would be a red flag for King Pangoro to take action. As such, Volcarona was able to rise in power and fight the many political parties that made Ignis an unstable time bomb.
The Fighting-type frowned at the harshness in Scizor’s words. “I understand your worry, but do not fret too much; our ally in Aurora is willing to surround Ignis on its southern front. Between our two armies and the spread of status effects by your Bug specialists, we should be able to avoid too much damage and monitor Ignis until the ideology dies,” he pled.
“Lord Volcarona is a Bug-type herself. She knows my kingdom’s capabilities and has a respectable following within my own--and technically your own--walls. I don’t understand how we would change the outcome in any capacity, Maurice. My men aren’t well-equipped and our economy has fallen on harder times than before.”
Pangoro’s voice rose in desperation. “Simon, this isn’t something we can put off for too long. Our children shouldn’t have to put up with a threat that could spread toward Greenleaf’s and Fontaine’s kingdoms. The elemental trio would be too difficult to stop. We will offer some generous trade agreements if you partake in our efforts.”
As Scizor grunted when he attempted to get up from his chair, a Heracross quickly came to hand the Pokémon his cane and steady his balance. “My Lord, I’m not sure that would be good for the Bug-type Pokémon, fighting Fire,” the aide squeaked his own opinion.
Pangoro threw a fist on the wooden table and growled. A vein poked out from his white fur from the blood rush to his head. “Heracross, you are in no position to assess this situation. Kindly butt out of foreign affairs.”
The Bug/Fighting type cowered at the bluntness in Pangoro’s voice. “Forgive me.”
In response to the concern, Scizor looked back at his old friend and slowly blinked, coming to a hard squint as he thought. “I am not interested in coming home with any casualties,” he said.
Pangoro stood from his chair, scooted it backward with the back of his legs, and set his palms against the table. “And you won’t have to. Just send your troops that can fly. Drop a few Poison Stings and Stun Spores and we’ll be golden,” Pangoro assured him. “If you lose any of your men, I will personally give their families my condolences and take any repercussions. We can handle the offense against Ignis if you can simply cripple them.”
The Chrysalian Lord processed Pangoro’s words carefully and then smiled. “Very well then, my friend. We will lend a hand in your containment of the Morning Suns. However, we will need some time and funds to gather troops together once again. Chrysalia has long since abolished its mandatory inscription and our military budget is minimal at best.”
“Thank you, Simon. I won’t let you down. This is to protect the legacy we built together.”
Scizor nodded in nostalgia, though he obviously felt a lot of pain and weakness in his body. “A legacy I hope you can continue with my son once I pass on. I’m starting to feel like Akari had before...” he trailed off.
The statement hit Pangoro hard. “That will always be my greatest shame. I’m so sorry, Simon.”
The two embraced in the conference room, a certain unspoken understanding floating between them. Two old war friends from neighboring kingdoms, giving offspring that likewise found kinship; it was a wonderful tale of the past that was sure to be passed on for generations.
. . .
“Prince Riolu has made a new personal best at thirteen consecutive wins in the colosseum!” Mienshao shouted.
Riolu stood up and wiped the blood from his nose. The win was much closer than he cared to admit, but a win was a win. The crowd was roaring in excitement; Prince Riolu was an obvious favorite, however the sheer tension of the match made it exciting for everyone involved.
Stufful ran from the sidelines and jumped on the prince into a hug, knocking the both of them down on the arena floor. She squealed in excitement and kissed him on the cheek, which made Riolu flinch and touch the bit of slobber left on his face in disgust. A proud Mienshao came scrambling toward them, arms flailing.
News reporter Smeargle began frantically flicking their tails along their canvases to paint the next headlining story. Vendors in the stand began handing out Riolu-themed cakes and Fistival memorabilia. However, one of the seats on the first row was oddly empty.
“Now if you’re done celebrating blatant violence,” a new voice came from the megaphone, “I’d like to have my two-minute speech that was promised to me.”
Riolu, Stufful, Mienshao--the entire stadium turned to see Prince Scyther of the Chrysalian Colony standing on a podium in the arena’s center. The entire colosseum went silent in awe of the distraction.
“I’m glad you all had your festival headliner be two young Pokemon beating one another senseless. That capitalizes on an issue I wish to bring to light.”
People in the crowd began booing at the distraction from the Fistival. Someone dared throw a pebble at the Bug/Flying type in jest, which brought a wave of laughter across the stadium. Prince Riolu remained silent.
“The Bug-type colony of Chrysalia is on starving times and you, our suppose kingdom, are too busy celebrating to notice the increases in Berry tax and ore distribution are actively detrimental to our workforce’s well-being. My father has grown sicker from his disease, and yet no medication, no research, and no contributions have gone to help our colony adjust. Please,” he said between boos, “sign my petition to the Pugilian monarchy to offer more research funding and inventory so my people are not starving while slaving away in production. We’re part of Pugilis, too.”
“Get off the stage!” one Pokemon screamed.
“Go back to your hive!”
“What a pest!”
Prince Scyther watched in awe, his wings twitching at the discrimination. He slid his scythes together and screamed out in one last attempt. “Please, support the Bug-types that help create the furniture you sleep in and seasonings you top your meals with!”
Smeargle all around started to depict the spectacle--obviously to paint Scyther in a worse light than Chrysalia already had. Many Fighting-types considered Chrysalia was too weak and a liability that Pangoro felt obligated to take on. As such, no one took seriously the mistreatment and bigotry.
In the background, fireworks began to sparkle and stream in the sky. Fans from the colosseum wandered out of the stands and into the streets, where vendors and other activities were to take place after the annual highlight match. Soon, only Riolu, Stufful, Mienshao, and Scyther were left on the arena grounds. King Pangoro and Lord Scizor walked onto the field to survey the young Prince Riolu’s condition.
“Congratulations, Ryuunosuke, I heard about your victory over Maku. You’ve grown into quite the young man over the past years,” Lord Scizor said as he balanced his weight on his cane. Scyther quickly came to help steady his father.
“They were fighting for sport, Father. I don’t understand damaging your own kind,” he said with disgust.
King Pangoro coughed to get his son’s attention. Riolu hopped up, knocking Stufful down in the process, and ran to hug his dad in victory. Pangoro spun his son around in his arms and set him down on the ground.
“Who gave you permission to bleed?” he laughed as he wiped a drop from Riolu’s nose. “I heard it was a fantastic match, I’m so sorry I missed it. We were planning on making the second half...how long did it take?”
Riolu shrugged. “I don’t really remember.” He looked to Stufful.
“Maybe a minute and a half,” she said.
“Oh, my Lord, it was splendid! He finished his opponent off in seventy-seven seconds. I’ve never seen such a reactive match in my two weeks as referee!” Mienshao squealed. At the looks from Scizor and Scyther, he frowned. “The last guy was used as a prop in the Conkeldurr / Machamp match a few weeks back. I’m just a sensei filling in.”
King Pangoro was taken aback. “You took down Maku in less than two minutes?” He fiddled with the end of the shoot inside his mouth. “I heard some negativity on my way here...What was the commotion afterwards?”
Everyone looked to Scyther.
“Your Majesty,” Scyther said, the words sounding like a sin escaping his lips, “your people are bigoted pigs.”
“Like an Emboar?” Mienshao asked. “Or like a Mamoswine?”
“I was thinking more like a Grumpig,” Stufful said with a hushed laugh.
“Enough,” Pangoro said. “Prince Scyther, I assure you I will look into these matters--”
“I don’t care about that right now, Sir. With all due respect, your allotment for this month is barely enough to survive on.”
King Pangoro glanced at the other Pokemon in the stadium awkwardly. “I had no idea you were an economist. I will look again at the numbers and present what is possible for your citizens. Though it appears we live comfortably, the politics going on in Ignis right now are making trade agreements tighter.”
“That’s Tauros shi-”
Scizor shook his head. “Son, there is a time and place for this conversation. Please stop disrespecting King Pangoro. By going over my head, you’re also disrespecting me.”
Scyther’s face went from outrage to helpless anger. “Forgive me. We’re leaving. Enjoy your Fistival, Prince Riolu. Congratulations on beating up your fellow citizen. Let’s go, Father.”
Lord Scizor smiled at the Fighting-types surrounding him and complied with his earnest son’s demands. The two made their way out of the arena, as do Stufful and Mienshao. As Riolu and Pangoro walked away, a thought struck Riolu’s mind: Why did Scyther’s distress seem authentic? He quickly dismissed the question and trusted his father’s judgment. Prince Riolu went on ahead of his father to enjoy the firework show.
“I wish there was something I could have done,” Pangoro sighed, his shoot drooping.
. . .
Three Months Later
Funerals were no stranger to Riolu. As his father was universally acclaimed as the strongest authority in all of Ransei, they were invited to the funerals of all world leaders and global icons. The only unpleasant experience was with Spectra, the Ghost-type Kingdom; its government insisted the king was dead to host a funeral, and then the king popped up as a “ghost.” The first gag was lighthearted, however the other twenty-two were not. And for some reason, several warlords continued to believe every time.
Besides, funerals meant the prince could wear his black suit, which made him feel much older than nineteen years old. The tight-fitted pants in particular made him look taller. His father had, however, made him dispose of the tall black hat that went with it.
Lord Scizor, a long-time friend and partner to King Pangoro, was known as a major component of the EdgeQuake shock from decades ago. Pangoro, Riolu’s late mother Lucario, Scizor, the Auroran king Oranguru, and an often-drunk Quagsire were credited with bringing the downfall of Terrera’s reign. Losing another member of that band was a blow to his father’s happiness. Only Pangoro and Oranguru remained from the heroes of the past.
The funeral was open-casket. Riolu came and paid his respects as a suitable prince was expected. He was relieved from crafting a speech, as now-Lord Scyther wished only for Pangoro to speak on his father’s behalf. Bug-types littered the outside funeral arrangement; Beedrill, Scolipede, Vikavolt, Shuckle...all of which were poorly dressed, some shrill and tired, and others hateful and staring at Riolu with an unwavering hatred. Other lords, like Oranguru of Aurora--the other remaining hero--and those of nearby kingdoms came for the headcount.
Then there was Volcarona. Her popularity had skyrocketed following Scyther’s speech at the Fistival months back; many began to realize her initiative to threaten the wealthy of Ignis for supplies was effective. Her influence had spread in other kingdoms, and there was a certain local support system under each government that now had to be monitored. The fiery red wings flapped ferociously in the commotion as Scyther began to speak.
“Thank you all for coming here today. We are here to celebrate the life of my father, a public hero and private father. I am very sad to see my idol pass on, but I am glad he is no longer stricken by that horrid disease. I understand there was no treatment, but that did not make coming to terms with it any easier. May we one day have the funds to research such dangerous threats,” he said, then paused to eye Pangoro. “We have several important guests with us tonight, and I would first like to ask King Oranguru of Aurora to speak about my father’s ambitions and success.”
Riolu tuned out Oranguru’s speech, which seemed very basic and bland. Other Bug-types began speaking on Scizor’s character and kindness. Soon enough, it was Pangoro’s turn.
The panda king walked over to the speaking platform and sighed. “Simon was my best partner, my best man, and my best friend. I only wish we could have spent more time in his health,” he said, pausing similarly on the disease’s mention. “I wish I could have found that cure in time…”
Riolu lost his train of thought on Pangoro’s speech once he noticed Volcarona leaning in to whisper something into Scyther’s ear. The colony ruler made a scowling face at first, then glared daggers into Pangoro’s soul. Riolu felt worried, but he put his reservations at ease.
“...And I’m glad I could help start the rebuilding process of Chrysalia with such a brilliant leader. I have learned a great deal from our friendship, and I can only hope to pass that on for the next generation.” He paused again. “Please don’t kill me off, though, Ryuu!” he laughed.
The crowd mimicked his chuckling until Scyther announced it was Volcarona’s turn to say her parting words. King Pangoro rejoined Riolu and they listened, both on edge, to what the grassroots campaigner was about to say. Remembering his deal with Scizor to stop Volcarona has now fell through, Pangoro bit at the shoot in his mouth anxiously.
“Lord Scizor was an idol and a friend,” she said with great calmness. “I am very sad to see a fellow strong Bug-type exit the world when it is still full of discrimination. I understand the situation in Chrysalia is dire; it seems similar to those who find themselves homeless and in poverty under the rule of King Pyroar in Ignis. My party, the Morning Sun Party, has made it our goal to provide for those in need, by whatever means necessary,” she said, and then stared directly into Pangoro’s eyes as she finished her speech. “I believe it is a basic, Arceus-given right to offer the current food and health options available to the 1% to the rest of the population. And I intend to one day make that happen.”
Prince Riolu looked over at his dad, who seemed to eaten something too big to swallow. One last look at Scyther told Riolu that, somehow, others were getting the wrong idea about the kingdom of Pugilis.
. . .
Another Few Months Later
“Hyaa!” Riolu shrieked, using a Sky Uppercut to knock a Gurdurr off her feet and against the back wall of the dojo. She pulled a white flag out and waved it out of desperation.
“Alright, sensei, I believe I am ready for a move that doesn’t come as naturally. Like Drain Punch,” he insisted, stretching his arm out and shaking his wrist sparingly.
“Give Ryuu something to keep him from losing to another Croagunk,” Stufful said, sticking her tongue out after pointing out another major loss for Riolu.
“You are a terrible friend,” he said with a nasty snarl.
“I don’t have to be your friend. Right now I’m your bodyguard,” she smiled. “Assigned by your daddy, upper management. Remember?”
“I think you should call it a day, kiddo,” Mienshao said with a shrug. “Unless you’re willing to unlock that aura thingy inside your thick skull.”
Riolu growned. “In the Kakutou, we fight only with our fists...and legs..and, ugh,” he said, flustered. “We fight with our bodies, not special attacks or forces like Aura. If my father can do it, so can I.”
“You’re literally the aura Pokemon,” Stufful said.
“And you’re a stuffed animal,” Mienshao giggled. “But anyway, Riolu, it’s the weekend, and I have a date with a fine-looking Sawk in thirty minutes, so you’re gonna have to deal with it~”
Riolu made an awkward face and dismissed Mienshao.
“Is there a problem?” the sensei asked.
Stufful furrowed her brows. “Why don’t we get some Onigiri or something?”
Riolu nodded. “I have worked up quite the appetite.”
“I heard he’s really sturdy,” Mienshao murmured as he went into the back of the dojo to clean up. “Might be a keeper.”
Mienshao told the rest of the young Pokemon training inside to get washed up and head home. Riolu and Stufful exited the dojo and began walking outside along the red cobblestone bricks.
The air was very still. The sky was a bright orange as the sun planned to set behind the hills within an hour. The gold trim shined deeply alone the red clay of the inner city walls. The countryside plots and villages were alive with chatter in the distance, but the inside of the city was quieter than usual.
“Wait, let’s get berry juice,” Stufful said with a giggle. She pulled Riolu’s arm toward the nearest bar, but he wasn’t so sure.
“For the last time, I’m not allowed to drink. I cannot let anything taint my reputation.”
“Well I have no reputation, so you’re taking care of me tonight!” she said.
Prince Riolu looked up at his palace. One day, his father would be handing the reins of the kingdom to him. The beautiful red-and-white kingdom, a status symbol of industrialization and wealth in western Ransei, was a dream come true. He could never be more grateful than to take in the sight of laughing children, blossoming young love, and successful families thriving within the confinement of Pugilis’ walls.
Stufful ordered two drinks anyway, which she intended, Riolu suspected, to offer to him anyway and then drink down once he rejected. He smirked at how predictable and comfortable everything was.
A quiet buzzing could be heard in the distance, but Riolu wasn’t paying attention. He was too involved in what he did have--an engaging dad, supportive friends, and the most powerful kingdom in Ransei.
Stufful walked back while balancing a tray of two berry juices on her head. She spots something in the distance, though, and the tray clangs to the ground, causing the red drinks to spill and stain the cobblestone. At least the red wouldn’t stain, though.
“Ryuu, wh-what’s that?” she asked.
Ryuunosuke, the Prince of Pugilis, turned his head toward the sun, where a large moth with red wings and a white body towered overhead. The distant buzzing grew louder, and soon dots were scattered along the horizon. The defense alarm went off throughout the kingdom, a deafening siren Riolu had only heard on drill days. Once one of the specks became close enough to be distinguishable, the prince realized today was no drill. Lord Scyther and an army of angry insects had arrived and surrounded the kingdom with a sizeable force and a threatening formation. Volcarona remained high above as she watched the attack on Pugilis commence in extraordinary fashion.
This would be the fall of the once-beloved Pugilis.
To be Continued