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Old 11-22-2011, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: Champion Game

For some reason I imagine Ren with at least a Braviary, but I don't know why...
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:52 PM
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Default Re: Champion Game

Originally Posted by Charmander009 View Post
Jeez, way to leave us hanging on your words xD Poor Ren is so out of touch with everything--or rather, everything just seems so mysterious to him right now, including his 12 year-old cousin xD You're killing me, Whisper. I wanna know what's up with Steven! xD I'm very impressed with your writing, so far ^^

Anyway, I'm curious to see Ren's party as well, but I suppose that'll come later. ^^ In the meantime... I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that maybe... he has a Swampert. He strikes me as a Mudkipz guy. LoL, well... maybe not xD
I get this a lot! People always want to see Ren's Champion-beating team, hehe. Well, the first member appears in Chapter Ten, and I think they've all made an appearance by . . . Nineteen? Maybe Twenty, actually.

Originally Posted by Sheepat View Post
For some reason I imagine Ren with at least a Braviary, but I don't know why...
Either you cheated and read this elsewhere, or you're psychic. I'm inclined to think it's the latter. o_o

But seriously, yes. He has a Braviary and I have no idea how you guessed that. It's such an out-there Pokemon for a Hoenn Trainer to have. XD

Last edited by Misheard Whisper; 11-22-2011 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:37 AM
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Default Re: Champion Game

Originally Posted by Misheard Whisper View Post
I get this a lot! People always want to see Ren's Champion-beating team, hehe. Well, the first member appears in Chapter Ten, and I think they've all made an appearance by . . . Nineteen? Maybe Twenty, actually.

Either you cheated and read this elsewhere, or you're psychic. I'm inclined to think it's the latter. o_o

But seriously, yes. He has a Braviary and I have no idea how you guessed that. It's such an out-there Pokemon for a Hoenn Trainer to have. XD
WHAT?! I just imagined him having a Braviary, and he has one?!

Wild guess? I think so, 'cause last time I checked I wasn't psychic
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Old 11-23-2011, 05:36 AM
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Default Chapter Three - The World of Dreams

I'm going to be posting fairly quickly for a month or two until we catch up with what I have elsewhere, but just let me know if I'm posting too fast for anyone. If you all fall silent, I'll also take that as a sign to back off a bit. =P So here we are, Chapter Three for you all. Including that one psychic guy who probably already knows what happens.

Chapter Three
The World of Dreams

“Why do you think we hold the Ever Grande Conference, Ren?” Steven asked at length.

Ren frowned. He would have thought that the answer to that question was simple. “Uh . . . to find out who's the strongest Trainer in Hoenn?” he ventured.

“Yes,” Steven agreed, “but at the same time, it's far more than that.”

“What . . . what exactly do you mean by that?”

Steven took a deep breath and interlaced his fingers in front of him on the table, staring at them intently as if expecting them to answer for him. “What if I were to say to you, Ren . . . that there is a hidden factor determining how successful each person is as a Trainer?”

“I'd say you were mad,” Ren said. “Sounds like one of those crazy video games where you don't know how anything's calculated – it just does it for you.”

“Not so much,” Steven said. “There's no math involved. Just . . . power, if you will.”

“Power? What kind of power?” Ren felt himself being drawn in, despite his skepticism. Steven was making a face that was far too serious to doubt.

“That's just it. That's why this is so hard to explain. I . . . don't exactly know, Ren. But every Trainer – no, every person in this world has a measure of this power within them. I suppose you could call it a spiritual power, because it has nothing to do with physical strength or mental acuity. Sometimes you get muscle-headed imbeciles with huge reserves of this power; other times, the exact opposite. I'm at a loss as to which factors affect a person's spiritual power.” He paused, as if waiting for Ren to react.

“Sounds . . . confusing,” Ren offered, unwilling to give away too much of what he was thinking. A multitude of possibilities, explanations and worries were running through his mind at high speed, but he didn't feel like letting Steven be privy to them just yet. “So what does this power have to do with the Ever Grande Conference?”

“People will tell you that factors like age, experience, discipline, and the like determine who becomes a Champion, Ren. This is not true, and I am sure you, of all people, will be able to appreciate that. You came into this position at the age of just fourteen. By all rights, there is no way you should have been able to become Champion now. Yet you did.”

“I did,” Ren agreed. “But surely those things do matter, right? I mean, you get to be the Champion with a lot of hard work! It doesn't just . . . happen.”

Steven inclined his head. “You're right. It doesn't 'just happen'. And there is some truth in what you say – things like how long you have trained with your Pokemon, research into your opponent's strengths and weaknesses, and your strategy in battle do make a difference.”

“But that's not what you just said,” Ren pointed out.

“Perhaps I am going in circles a little,” Steven admitted. “What I mean is that while these factors play a large part in determining the winner of a Pokemon battle, that part is nowhere near as large as some would have you believe. What makes up the difference is something in here.” He tapped his chest with his left index finger.

Ren looked at him askance. “What . . . you mean, like, friendship or something? I thought that was the kind of stuff that happened in kids' TV shows?”

Steven shook his head. “No, Ren. Nothing so intransient or idealistic. What I speak of is this spiritual power that resides within everyone. Imagine, if you will, a scale. The scale reads one to ten. Each human being is placed somewhere on that scale, and that number, to a certain extent, determines their success as a Pokemon Trainer, should they choose to follow that path. Of course, the scale is completely hypothetical – there is no way of measuring this power. I consider myself to stand at about nine point three, but this is only a rough estimate. And again, like I said before, you can have something else contributing to your success. Somebody with a 'score' of eight or higher might lack the willpower to persevere in their goals. They might not be quite quick enough to make the split-second decisions that are required to make or break a Pokemon battle. Do you follow what I'm saying, Ren?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Ren said, nodding his head slowly. “In other words, whether we're going to be a good Pokemon Trainer or not . . . is predetermined?”

“To an extent, yes,” Steven admitted. “I've thought long and hard about the philosophical ramifications of this, and I would greatly enjoy discussing that with you, but here is not the place. Back to the point: each person has this power, and their Pokemon will react to it accordingly.”

“The Pokemon can sense this power?” Ren asked, surprised. “So, what . . . they see that their Trainer has this power and work harder?

“Not as such. Perhaps it would make more sense if I compared your Pokemon to plants. A plant, in normal soil – say, in your backyard – will grow well, provided it is cared for. You can make it grow higher by watering it regularly, keeping pests away from it, and protecting it from harsh wind and rain. Pokemon are much the same. You look after them, care for them, train them, and they will grow strong. Are you with me so far?”

Ren nodded. “Makes sense, I guess. I never really thought of it like that, but . . . Pokemon are a lot like plants, aren't they? And I don't mean just the Grass-types-”

“Focus!” Steven said sharply. “Now, tell me what happens if you decide to grow your plant in, say, the vicinity of Mount Chimney?”

“It . . . grows better?”


“Because of . . . the minerals in the soil, or something? It's been a while since I read any books on Geography.”

“Right. In other words, your plant will grow bigger because its environment is more conducive to growth. Provided you then water it properly and so on like you do its counterpart in your garden, it will turn out much larger and healthier, even though you treated it the same. Do you understand now?”

Suddenly, Ren did, although he was still having trouble attaching any form of credence to Steven's story. “Yeah . . . if a Pokemon's Trainer has a high level of – what did you call it? – spiritual power, it's like growing the plant in volcanic soil, right? And then it gets stronger more easily, yeah?”

“Correct!” Steven exclaimed, beaming. “I didn't really expect you to catch on so quickly, I'll admit. Not that I think you're slow, or anything like that, but I am unused to dealing with those younger than me.”

“No hard feelings,” said Ren, offering Steven a half-smile. “But I'm still taking everything you say with a pinch of salt, I'm afraid.”

“That's to be expected. I would begin to doubt the wisdom of telling you this if you believed it all instantly. However, I do have proof to back up what I'm saying, which I will show you soon enough. All I desired was to ensure you did not panic when faced with that evidence,” Steven said darkly.

Ren said nothing. What Steven said sounded crazy, yes, but he couldn't help believing him just a little bit. Steven Stone was not the sort of person to play jokes; Ren had gathered as much from the few encounters he had had with the man.

“Very well. In any case . . . this all leads back to the Ever Grande Conference. This contest is held annually in order to discover the person in each region who has the highest spiritual power. This has been going on for many decades, and there is a very good reason behind it, but that will become apparent soon enough. What is important is that you have defeated me, Ren. Do you understand what that means?”

Ren's eyes widened involuntarily. All throughout Steven's explanation, he had completely forgotten to apply what had been said to himself. He slapped himself mentally for the oversight. Steven had been trying to tell him something the whole time, and he had missed it completely.

“Yes, Ren. It means that you are currently the person in the Hoenn region with the highest spiritual power. You are the most volcanic of the volcanic soil, if that makes any sense. The legacy of the Hoenn League is now yours.”

“Was this all some elaborate way of handing over the Championship?” Ren asked, suddenly confused again.

“Essentially, yes, but it was not for any idle purpose that I explained all of this to you. For now, I believe, we are done, actually. Unless you have any further questions?”

“Hundreds,” Ren said.

“Many of them will have to wait,” Steven said, “but go ahead. I will answer as best I can.”

“Why is this important? For now, I'll take your word that I won the Championship because of this 'spiritual power'. Why is it so important that the Champion is someone with high spiritual power?”

“I think you are still mistaking the purpose of the League,” Steven said, smiling. “The Pokemon League was founded in order to find the strongest person in the region, for a very specific purpose. It was never to find the strongest for the sake of knowing who the strongest was. The annual boxing tournament is held to discover the best boxer in Hoenn. The biennial Dewford Surfing Extravaganza is held to find out who can ride the best wave. The Pokemon League is held so that Hoenn has a Champion. And Hoenn needs a Champion, Ren. They need the strongest Champion they can get, and at the moment, that's you.”


“That, Ren, is what must be explained later. Take this.” From inside his shirt, Steven fished out a small, silver pendant, which he unclasped from around his neck and handed to Ren.

Ren examined it closely. It hung on a silver chain as fine as thread, a chain that looked like it should break if he touched it. The chain pooled gently in his hand, cautiously supporting the emblem that sat atop it. Attached to the chain by a single, delicate ring, it was about the size of Ren's thumbnail, carved intricately into the likeness of a cloud. Or was it a puff of smoke? The shape seemed to billow and flicker as he looked upon it, although when he blinked, hard, and looked at it again, he was quite sure that it was motionless. “What . . . is this?”

“It is the Dreamlight,” Steven said solemnly. “It must remain around your neck at all times now, Champion.”

“Looks awfully fragile,” Ren said worriedly as he drew out the gossamer-like chain and looped it around his neck, bringing the tiny, delicate clasp around to the front so he could see it while he tied it. Suddenly, he paused. “Why do I have to wear this?”

“It is a symbol that you are the Champion,” Steven said, “and to all who may ask, it is nothing more than this! Do you understand?” he pressed.

Ren nodded. “But . . . it's something more?” he ventured.

“Yes, of course. It is what will guide you to a further explanation. I have told you all that I am permitted to tell you for now. For the rest of the story, all you need to do is go to sleep any time after sundown.”

“Go . . . to sleep?” Ren asked skeptically as he did the clasp up and settled the Dreamlight beneath his shirt. It felt cold against his skin, but pleasantly so. “What does that have to do with anything?”

Steven shook his head. “Sadly, I may say no more. When you go to sleep tonight, you must wear the Dreamlight. This will lead you to your answers.”

Ren closed his eyes for a moment before standing up and pacing around the room, looking at the barren walls and featureless ceiling. “I don't like it,” he said eventually. “I don't like it at all. You want to know why I don't like it? Because it sounds like a fantasy. Something I'd read in a book. Normally, that would be cool, but . . . you telling me this suggests one of two things.”

“Firstly, I'm pulling your leg,” Steven supplied, examining one of the fingers on his left hand. “Secondly, there's something huge going on that you can't comprehend. In either case, you feel threatened. If I'm making fun of you, then the joke is on you, and nobody likes that. You fear ending up as the fool. If, on the other hand, I am telling the truth, you instantly find yourself far out of your depth, facing the unknown, and that is what you fear most. Am I right?”

“Exactly,” said Ren. “I don't get how, but you're right.”

“It's not too hard,” said Steven, abruptly standing and crossing the room to stand directly in front of Ren. Gripping the boy by the shoulders, he looked him straight in the eye and said, “Because that's exactly what went through my head when I was told about this six years.”

Ren shuddered deeply. Something in Steven's light blue eyes worried him. He couldn't explain what it was, but there was no doubt that it was nothing good. Steven apparently felt the tremor, as he gave Ren a comforting pat on the shoulder before he released him.

“Tell you what. We've still got some time, and there's no sense talking about this any more. Let's go and find something to do in Rustboro for the afternoon.”

“But . . . I have more questions!” Ren protested.

“No, you don't. Ask them to . . . well, the person who will explain the rest of this to you.”

“But you haven't even told me who that is!”

“It doesn't matter. You will meet them tonight. I told you – all you have to do is go to sleep with the Dreamlight on. For now, difficult though it may seem, I'm going to have to ask you to put everything I have just said out of your mind.”

“What? You want me to . . . just forget about it?”

“Essentially, yes.”

“What was the point of telling me in the first place, then?”

“I told you,” Steven said. “It's so that you don't panic when the truth is revealed.”

“Why don't you just tell me?” Ren asked, his left hand involuntarily balling into a fist. “Wouldn't that be the sensible thing?”

“It is . . . forbidden.” Steven looked down at the floor.

“Forbidden? Who forbade it?” Ren ground his teeth slightly. This is getting ridiculous.

“I . . . can't tell you that, either,” Steven said. “Can you please just do as I ask? This is difficult for me also.”

“Fine,” Ren said in disgust, folding his arms. “If you're going to be too bloody-minded to just tell me what's going on, then whatever.”

“Excellent,” said Steven, pointedly ignoring Ren's petulant frown. “And although I hardly feel you need to be reminded of this, everything that was said in this room remains here. You must not speak of it to anybody else unless I say so. Understood?”

Ren nodded. Who would he tell, anyway? It sounded like a load of rubbish, anyway. Spiritual power? Who did Steven think he was kidding? But still, it didn't make sense if Steven was joking. After all, why would he? There was no good reason for him to, and that was the fact that Ren could not deny. He only wished Steven would answer his questions a bit more directly.

“In that case, let us return to the library and collect your cousin,” Steven said, unlocking the door. “I imagine she will be pleased enough to be liberated from my sister's dreary company.”

“She didn't seem that dreary to me,” Ren said as he followed Steven out of the meeting room.

“Oh, she is, I'm afraid,” Steven said wearily. “Of course, I wouldn't ever say it to her face, but spending time with her is . . . taxing.”

“How so?”

“She likes her books, Katrina. She doesn't do people well. It's hard to explain, but . . . having her in the room immediately puts something of a damper on one's mood. It's like she emanates waves of 'I don't want to be here, I don't want to talk to you' that rub off on everyone else.”

“That's not very nice,” Ren frowned. And this is the girl studying anthropology? he wondered. “She can't be all that bad, surely?”

“Oh, don't get me wrong,” Steven said. “I'm very fond of her. But I wouldn't really want to spend too much time with her.”

Ren didn't say anything. What could he have said to that?

“Katrina!” Steven said brightly, pushing open the library door. “We're done!”

“Oh, hello, Steven,” Katrina's voice said from somewhere among the shelves. “We're over here, by the biographies.”

Steven raised his eyebrows at Ren, then tilted his head to indicate that they should both go. The pair made their way carefully through the hazardous-looking maze of loaded bookshelves until they finally spotted Natasha and Katrina, sitting cross-legged on the floor amongst a multitude of books.

“You didn't take as long as you said you were going to,” Katrina said, raising her eyebrows. “I don't think it's even been half an hour yet.”

“No, you're right,” Steven said, “but nonetheless, we have finished our . . . business.”

“Well, that's all right. I'll see you around some other time, Natasha,” Katrina smiled.

Natasha looked up at Ren curiously. “Why are you back so fast? I was having fun!”

Ren smiled. “We finished talking about what we needed to, so we're done. Come on, let's not bother Katrina any more than we have to.”

“Oh, it's no trouble, really,” Katrina said, waving a hand airily. “She's a remarkably intelligent child.”

“Can't I stay a bit longer?” Natasha begged.

“Actually, if Katrina doesn't mind, that works out perfectly,” said Steven. “Ren and I have somewhere else to be, and if you want to stay here for another couple of hours, I don't see an issue with that.”

“Somewhere else to be?” Ren said blankly. “Like where?”

“Did I not mention it? You and I are appearing on tonight's Hoenn Buzz to be interviewed.”

“No!” Ren exclaimed. “You did not mention that! And I want nothing to do with it!” he fumed. It was bad enough that people had to recognise him wherever he went, but any measure of anonymity he might have retained would surely be destroyed if he appeared on primetime television.

“I'm afraid you don't have a choice,” Steven said. “I made the arrangements this morning and they've been hyping it all day via advertisements. Two Champions on TV together is not something that happens often, and you're not getting out of it.”

“You can't just go ahead and make decisions like that on your own! I don't want to be on TV!”

Steven gritted his teeth. “Newsflash, Ren: you're going to have to get used to it. The Champion is a media personality as much as he is anything else.” As if suddenly noticing that Natasha and Katrina were still listening, wide-eyed, from their position on the floor, he inclined his head to them politely. “My apologies. Ren and I will be leaving now. We will return later this evening to collect his cousin.” With that, he wheeled and strode from the library, leaving Ren to follow him reluctantly.

Once the door to the library had closed, Ren stepped in front of Steven and glared at him. “What the hell are you playing at?” he hissed. “I can't do this! I don't want to do this!”

Steven's mouth remained set in a firm line. “You have no choice in the matter. It is your responsibility as a Champion to be accessible to the people of Hoenn, and you have to learn to do that whether you like it or not. I'll give you a hint – it's a lot easier if you like it.”

“Steven, I can't! It's not like I can't walk down the street for fear of being recognised or anything, but this is just going too far.”

“You're not getting out of it,” Steven said adamantly. “Now come on. It's already four o'clock, and we need to be there for five thirty.”

Reluctantly, Ren followed Steven towards the lift, his heart sinking.
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Old 11-25-2011, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: Champion Game

What I really like about this story is the way it's written. There's just this logical creativity that's about it. It's just hard to explain.
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:40 AM
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Default Re: Champion Game

Well, I have no idea what you mean either, but I definitely like the sound of it. 'Logical creativity' sounds like something I aspire to. ^_^
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:04 PM
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Default Chapter Four - Television

Chapter Four

Downstairs, Steven ushered the still-fuming Ren into a car not unlike the one that had brought him to Devon Corp. This time, however, Roxanne was nowhere to be seen. The car ride was silent, frostily so. Ren spent the journey looking moodily out the tinted window as Steven looked on, a slight twist of amusement in the set of his lips.

When the car finally rolled to a stop, Ren stepped out unwillingly. On the other side of the pavement stood a low metal fence, painted green, beyond which stretched a picturesque expanse of grass, dotted with trees and patches of flowers arranged in seemingly random patterns. Under a tree some distance into the park, people were dashing around frantically, setting up a table, chairs and an enormous array of cameras, microphones and portable computers. Leads were being run from the site to a van parked near where Ren was standing, and in the midst of it all was standing a man Ren recognised instantly: Richard Andrews, the host of Hoenn Buzz.

Steven stepped over the fence and beckoned Ren to do the same. As they approached the hubbub, Ren examined the man who he had seen so many times on television, interviewing hapless celebrities and smarmy politicians for the whole Hoenn region to see. Richard Andrews was a tall man with a healthy crop of black hair, tied back in a short ponytail. His skin was a dark olive tone, bringing out his green eyes and white teeth. As the two Trainers approached, Andrews was engaged in conversation with a very pretty young lady who looked vaguely familiar to Ren.

As Steven and Ren drew near, Andrews noticed them and strode towards them, beaming, with arms wide. He embraced Steven like an old friend. “Steven Stone, you old rascal! It's been a while since I had you on the show.”

“Only since last year's Conference,” Steven said, smiling. Ren was slightly taken aback by his genuineness as he slapped Andrews on the back.

“Far too long, old buddy! Far too long,” Andrews said jovially, releasing Steven and approaching Ren. Ren instinctively took half a step back; he hadn't realised quite how tall Andrews was on television. The man was well over six feet tall. “This must be Mr. Goodwin, then?”

Ren nodded, before finding his voice. “Yes, Mr Andrews. Nice to meet you.”

Andrews guffawed loudly, slapping Ren on the back with such force that he just about fell over. “You hear this kid? 'Mr Andrews'? Ha! You call me Richard, kid – everyone does! And I mean that.”

“All right . . . Richard,” Ren said, swallowing. It felt strange to be in the presence of such a recognisable figure.

“Good stuff! And it's a damn fine pleasure to meet you too, kid! Say, s'all good if I call you Ren, right?” Richard put out his hand, grinning.

Ren took it cautiously and just about had his arm pulled off as Richard shook it energetically. “That's fine,” he said quietly.

“Right on! Now, if you'll excuse me, folks, I have to go make a phone call. Back in just a minute!” With that, he saluted Steven with two fingers and jogged off towards the van.

Ren blinked, quite overwhelmed. It was as if a hurricane had just torn through the area, leaving just as quickly as it had appeared.

Steven chuckled and patted Ren on the shoulder. “You get used to him soon enough,” he said. “He's a good man, Richard. He's not just friendly because he's on TV all the time. That's just how he is with everybody.”

“Really? He was certainly . . . energetic,” Ren said. Now that Richard had moved on, he remembered where he was. The show was due to go live in little more than an hour.

“That's one word for it,” Steven agreed. He seemed a little more cheerful than before.

“Steven Stone,” said a teasing voice from Ren's left. “Are you going to keep ignoring me?”

The speaker turned out to be the attractive young woman Richard had been talking to when they arrived. She was tall and slim, with gently tanned skin and deep blue eyes. Her brown hair barely touched her shoulders, exhibiting tasteful blonde highlights. Steven smiled and kissed her on the cheek. “Bella! So nice to see you! It's been a while.”

“Hasn't it just? You must've been so busy lately! What have you been up to?”

“Ah, I'm sure you've heard,” Steven said, scratching his head. “I was busy losing my title to this gentleman here. Ren, meet Bella Bianchi, singer, actress and a good friend of mine.”

“Nice to meet you,” Ren said, nodding politely. He didn't feel up to cheek-kissing. He probably wouldn't be able to reach, in any case. “I . . . do believe I've heard of you.”

“I would be surprised if you hadn't,” Steven said. “Bella is one of the most prolific actors this year, for starters.”

“Oh, come on, Steven. You can't expect everybody to know me!” Bella laughed. “But yes, that's me. Since I've had my introduction stolen from me, I'll have to settle for hearing yours.” Her voice carried a slightly foreign lilt, pleasing to the ear.

“I'm . . . Ren Goodwin. Hoenn League Champion.” With a start, Ren realised that it was the first time he had introduced himself with his new title. It felt strange, like it wasn't quite part of him yet.

“So I take it you're on the show tonight as well?” Steven addressed Bella.

Ren blinked, but quickly realised he was intruding. Nodding to Bella, he removed himself slightly and dropped onto a park bench, out of the way of the setup for the show. Already, he could see a few curious bystanders gathering around the border of the park. Hoenn Buzz was filmed with a live audience, no matter where it was broadcast from, he remembered. The thought of sitting in front of such a large group of people as the Champion was quite frightening; he had thought that being televised would be bad enough.

Yawning, Ren pushed his hands through his hair, messing it up even further. Although it wasn't as if he'd been up at the crack of dawn, it had still been a tiring day. He hoped he'd get to sleep before too long.

The Dreamlight was still cold against Ren's chest as he cast his mind back to his conversation with Steven. It had been pushed aside by the whirl of activity in the last forty-five minutes or so, but now it returned in full force, bringing with it all the confusion it had had before, and then some. Steven obviously expected something to happen when he went to sleep that night, but what, he had no idea. The only clue he had was the name of the pendant resting just below his collarbone – the Dreamlight. Was he going to have a dream? But that wouldn't tell him anything, surely. In his experience, dreams were notoriously unreliable informants. The last dream Ren remembered having was the one with the Glameow with an afro. The feline Pokemon had led him through a maze of candy canes and lollipops before finally turning on him and trying to eat him.

Yeah. Dreams don't make sense. They don't mean anything. What had Steven been talking about? As much as he hated the prospect, he was forced to resign himself to the fact that he was just going to have to suck it up and wait. He knew that it would nag at him all evening, but at the same time he knew that he had more pressing troubles to deal with. TV . . . I don't want to be on TV.

Ren wasn't a shy person by nature. He knew that. There was still, however, something painfully intimidating about exposing himself in such a way. Ever since he had become the Champion, he had suddenly become recognisable. It was only his third day holding the position, but the strain was already starting to become too much.

Was it a bad idea after all? Becoming the Champion had been a glittering, golden dream for years, always hovering at the edge of his consciousness, tempting and enticing him. But now that he had actually achieved it . . . was it actually worth it?

Ren saw no change in the future. If anything, it would get worse and worse. He was the Champion, and the Champion, as Steven had said, was as much a media personality as he was anything else. He would have to keep doing this. He would keep appearing on TV, and on the radio, and in newspapers. Sure, perhaps the hype would die down after a while, but it would always be there. He wouldn't be able to go out in public without being accosted by someone who recognised him, and he didn't think he could deal with that.

“Are you all right, Ren?” said a voice near his right ear. Ren jumped, his heart pounding.

“Jeez!” he exclaimed. “Don't do that!”

“Ah, I'm sorry.” It was Bella Bianchi, Steven's movie star friend. “Were you thinking about something important? Should I leave?”

“A . . . little,” Ren said. “And it's fine. I just wasn't paying attention.”

“You seem a little distracted,” Bella said, leaning back on the bench and stretching. Ren noticed that despite her impending TV appearance, she was dressed relatively casually, in a golden, sparkly top and black jeans. “Are you feeling all right?”

“I . . . what makes you think there's something wrong with me?” Ren didn't think that he had been looking particularly out of it. In fact, he had made sure to keep his face carefully neutral just to avoid this exact discussion with anyone who happened to pass by.

Bella smiled gently. “Ren, I've made a career out of putting on different faces at will and pretending to feel emotions I don't feel. After a while, it's not too hard to tell when someone else is doing the same.”

“Oh,” Ren said blankly. Glancing around, he added, “Where's Steven?”

“He's talking with Richard about the show,” Bella said. She snapped her fingers playfully in front of Ren's face. “But hey! Stop trying to distract me. What's wrong with you? There's obviously something.”

Ren took a deep breath, trying to decide how to put it into words, and indeed, whether he even should. He'd only just met Bella, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to burden her with his problems. Still, it'd be nice to tell someone other than Steven, he reasoned. He couldn't rely on the ex-Champion for sympathy. “I suppose . . . it's just that I'm not used to all of this,” he said, waving his hand at the milieu of TV cameras and rapidly growing group of curious members of the public.

“It's the same for everyone who comes into some kind of fame,” Bella said. “It's especially hard for those who become famous overnight.”

“I can imagine that,” Ren said. “Still, that doesn't make it any easier to swallow now. I still feel so lost when somebody stops me and says 'Hey, you're that new Champion kid!' I just start to panic . . .”

“I see,” said Bella, tapping her chin with a manicured finger. “Tell me . . . how do you deal with it at the moment?”

“Well, it's only happened a few times so far,” Ren said. “Mostly I just smile and try to get away from them as quickly as I can without being rude. If they want an autograph or something, I'll sign it, but it's just hard to not freak out.”

“When I started getting a bit more well-known, it was much the same for me. Soon, though, I realised that I couldn't just run away from everybody.”

“I know that!” Ren said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “But still, when I think about getting up on TV and talking to Richard . . . it makes me feel sick.”

“Haven't you done some of this already? Interviews and such, I mean?”

“Well, yeah,” Ren admitted. “But it was just with reporters, or for five minutes on a radio talk show. Then there was that one press conference, but Steven did all the talking there. It was bad, but . . . this is something else. This is TV. This is everybody.”

“That's what Richard's job is, though. He understands how you feel about this, and he'll make it easy for you. He'll start off with some easy questions, and then build it up a little bit at a time. He's really good at making people feel comfortable when they're in the chair. And Steven will be there with you as well, I understand. He won't leave you high and dry.”

“It's not like I have stage fright or anything! Or . . . at least, I don't think so. It's more . . . the concept of it that bothers me. A little voice in my head is sitting there and asking 'Do these people really have nothing better to do than fawn over someone they saw on TV?'. I know it's horrible, but it's really bothering me. I feel like . . . I'm being turned into an object. Like I'm not going to be a person any longer if I keep it up. Do you know what I mean?”

Bella nodded slowly. “I think I actually do see now. And it makes it easier, if anything. When people are just scared of being in the public eye, it can take ages to get over. I've seen it in other people in my line of work. But when your problem is that loss of individuality . . . well, it's a far more serious problem with a far simpler solution.”

“Really? There's something I can do?” Ren asked eagerly.

She laughed lightly. “Yep. All you have to do is give it a little while. It might sound hard, but just go with it for a few weeks. Throw yourself into every challenge you come up against, heart and soul. That way, you don't forget who you are. Your problem is that you've let what you think other people think about you affect what you actually think about yourself.”

“I . . . don't follow,” Ren said, blinking. “What I think . . . what?”

“Maybe that was a bit confusing,” Bella admitted. “Basically, what I mean is that you're not looking at people's impressions of you. You're making assumptions based on what they say to you, and that's colouring your impression of how they view you. To them, you're still a person, even if you're a strange one. A kid as the Champion? It hasn't happened for a while, so naturally you're a fascination. But you're not an object. OK?”

Ren wished it was. “I see what you mean, but . . . I doubt it'll make a difference. I mean, I'll try, but . . . I'm somehow not convinced. I'm sorry.”

“No worries. All you have to do is keep thinking about it, OK? I think you can get over this really easily. I won't push you, but just think about it, yeah?”

“. . . Yeah. Thanks, Bella.”

“Aha!” she said triumphantly, standing up and tapping him on the nose. “Gotcha!”

“Huh? What? What did I do?”

“You called me by my name,” she said happily. “You hadn't done that yet!”

“Ah . . . didn't I? I'm sorry.”

“Oh, stop apologising for everything, Ren,” she said. “You're going to get all wrinkly if you keep frowning like that.”

“Um . . . sor- I mean – I see. All right.” Stretching, he stood up and took a deep breath. Although the air was cool, the sun was still quite high, showing through the buildings, dead west along the main street.

“Smile!” Bella said brightly. “I know you can, and you're not going to have any fun tonight if you keep worrying.”

Ren tried to draw his lips into some semblance of a grin, but it still felt unnatural and a bit awkward. “You're being awfully nice to me,” he said. “Why's that?”

“You looked down. What more reason do I need?” Bella smiled and spun around on the spot, looking up at the sky. “I think you and I could be friends, Ren. What do you think?”

“I . . . think that could be nice,” said Ren, and with the admission came a realisation. It had been a long time since he'd had anyone he could call a friend. Sure, he had met hundreds of Trainers on his quest to become Champion. Some of them had been bad sorts, others good. Some had travelled together with him for a period of time, but that couldn't last forever. Friends had come and gone over the last five years, but none with any permanence had appeared. “I'd like that.”


“Hey, hey, Hoenn! This is your man Richard Andrews and this . . . is Hoenn Buzz! Tonight, we're coming to you live from the picturesque Rustboro City, and man, have I got a lineup for you! First up on the show tonight we have Hoenn's favourite diva, the star of the upcoming blockbuster One Flew Over the Swellow's Nest. She also has three singles in this week's Top 40, including one that's charting in Johto and Unova as well. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . Bella Bianchi!”

Ren watched in awe as Bella strode confidently in front of the cameras, laughing and waving as if the audience were old friends. She seemed so natural, so at home, as Richard stood up and bowed dramatically. She took her seat on one of the large red chairs set up next to Richard's desk, and the interview began – except that it didn't so much feel like an interview as it did a casual conversation.

She was masterful. Bella Bianchi played the scene with ease and grace, laughing at Richard's jokes and keeping the momentum going for the full fifteen minutes she was on the stage. When she finally left, blowing a cheeky kiss towards the cameras, the audience applauded wildly. “Game face on!” she whispered in Ren's ear as she passed. His mind was blank as he vaguely registered what Richard was saying.

“We're going to break for commercials now, ladies and gentlemen, but don't go anywhere, because right after this, I am bringing you Steven Stone – until recently, the Hoenn League Champion – and the gentleman who toppled him from that position, Ren Goodwin!” After the cameras cut out, Richard bounded out from behind his desk and hustled over to where Steven and Ren were waiting, out of the cameras' range. “All ready to go, guys?”

Steven nodded. “I'm ready.” He seemed completely unfazed. “Ren?”

Ren took a deep, shaky breath. “I th- yeah. Yeah, I'm ready.”

“Jeez, don't blow me away with your enthusiasm, guys!” Richard laughed. “Nah, I'm just screwing with ya. Let's get this on. I'll cue you on after the introduction, alright?” With that, he hurried back to his desk again.

It was a quarter to six, and the sun was starting to creep towards the horizon, but the orange-tinged rays were still falling straight down the main street, offering plenty of light, and technicians were standing by with extra lighting just in case. The two red chairs were adjusted, and the producer counted down the seconds until the show went live again. The cameras started rolling again, and at a cue Ren couldn't see, the audience rose to their feet, applauding enthusiastically as Richard took a deep breath and shuffled his papers before finally opening his mouth to speak.

Last edited by Misheard Whisper; 11-28-2011 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 12-01-2011, 08:38 PM
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Default Chapter Five - And Now, Something A Little Magical

Chapter Five
And Now, Something A Little Magical

“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Steven Stone and Ren Goodwin!” Richard exclaimed, flinging his arm out dramatically towards where Ren and Steven were standing. Ren froze for a moment, until Steven elbowed him and the pair made their way onto the stage. The noise of the crowd somehow overwhelmingly loud despite its relatively small size, Ren stumbled and almost fell on the hastily cobbled-together steps up to the temporary stage. Richard welcomed them with a smile as they sat down in the enormous red chairs; Steven subtly pushed Ren towards the one closest to Richard.

“Well, this doesn't happen often!” Richard said, laughing. “Two Champions at the same time! On my show? Wahoo! Two for the price of one!”

Ren smiled despite himself. Maybe . . . just maybe, this wouldn't be so hard after all.

“Alright, alright,” Richard said, quieting the crowd with a wave. “Can't hear myself think! Now, Steven Stone is the man everyone knows, so you get away with just a brief introduction. Until recently, Champion of the Hoenn League. Twenty-six years old, born and raised here in Rustboro. Likes Steel-type Pokemon, chocolate brownies, precious stones and taking long walks on the beach near Petalburg. Sound about right?”

“I don't know where you get the part about the beach from, Richard, but the rest is right enough.”

“Eh, I just made it up. But we'll get back to you in a minute, Stevie boy. Right now, Hoenn is buzzing about this young man right here! Ren Goodwin, everybody!” The audience applauded again, and Ren resisted the urge to fiddle with the microphone on his collar. He had had his hair dealt with before the show, but he was still dressed in the same jeans and T-shirt. Game face on, he told himself. Game face. “So, an easy one to start with. How old are you, Ren?”

“I'm . . . fourteen.”

“Fourteen! That's seriously impressive, my man. That's almost record-breaking stuff, right there. The youngest Hoenn League Champion ever was thirteen, if I recall rightly, but that was decades ago! You're the man of the moment right now, Ren. So tell me . . . how does it feel? Has it sunk in yet?”

Ren winced inwardly. So much for starting it out easy – Richard had thrown him a curveball right off the bat. “I think . . . it's sunk in as much as it's going to, Richard,” he said. “I've had a few days to settle into it, and . . . although I'm still not quite sure whether it's a dream or not, I feel pretty good right about now.” He was answering on autopilot, he realised as the audience laughed. He was saying what they wanted to hear, even if it was more or less true.

“Well, that's fantastic! I'd be pretty stoked myself if I beat the Champion, so I'd be surprised if you weren't. Good to see it's not gone to your head, though. Folks, I've had the opportunity to chat with Ren for a few minutes before the show, and I can tell ya, he's a real genuine kid. Awesome guy. Where ya from, Ren?”

“I grew up in Slateport, but I was born in Unova,” Ren said. “We moved when I was just a few months old.”

“Any particular reason?” Richard asked.

“Ah . . . for Dad's work. He's a lawyer, so he could have made it anywhere, but he decided we should move to Hoenn. I don't know too much about it, to be honest. It doesn't really come up in conversation.” The discussion was straying into dangerous territory, and Ren made an effort to steer it back on course. “Slateport is all I've ever known, so I consider it home.”

“Good to hear, kid! We love a Champion with some regional loyalty, don't we, folks? In any case . . . Steven! Your turn!” He made a gun with his fingers and fired at Steven dramatically. Playing it up, Steven clutched his chest and fell back in his chair with a groan. Ren tried not to laugh at the normally stoic Steven as Richard faked panic and concern. “Oh, damn it, I've gone and killed our ex-Champion! Don't arrest me, don't arrest me!” The audience loved it, although for Ren, the humour was starting to wear off already.

“I'm fine, Richard,” Steven said, sitting back up and adjusting his collar. “What was your question? I'd say 'fire away', but at the risk of incurring more projectiles . . .”

“What everybody wants to know, Steven Stone. The battle! How did it feel to lose the title you've held for six whole years? We all watched it on TV, but we want to know what was going on inside your head.”

“To tell the truth, Richard . . . I don't mind so much. In all my time as Champion, my greatest fear – probably my only fear – was that I would lose to a challenger who was unworthy of the title of Champion, but that's a non-issue with Ren. I feel comfortable handing my title over to him.”

“Uh-huh. But tell me, Steven – what now? What do you think you'll be doing with yourself now that you're no longer the Champion?” Ren thought he saw Steven's jaw tighten, but it was no more than a momentary impression.

“I'm . . . not so sure, actually,” Steven said quietly. “Now I'll have some free time to work on my research into Hoenn's geology. But in terms of long-term plans . . . nothing, really.”

“Ooh, do I detect a hint of uncertainty in the man of steel?” Richard teased. “Ladies and gentlemen, Steven Stone!” The audience applauded again, just as Ren felt himself beginning to numb to the constant noise.

“Before we finish up, though, I want to ask a couple more questions. Firstly, one for Ren – what lies ahead for you? Steven's taking a break to work on his rock collection, but what do you think you'll be doing?”

“I . . . don't know either,” Ren said. “I'm still not entirely sure what a Champion has to do, so I'll be looking to Steven for help on that one.”

“Well, our previous Champion has plenty of experience, so I'm sure you'll be fine. You know, it's uncommon for a Champion to last more than a couple of years, especially one who specialises in a single type. The longest-serving Champion currently active is the Sinnoh region's Cynthia, who has held the title for eight years. And that brings me to my next question. Back to Steven for a moment – it's not unheard of for toppled Champions to seek a new title in other regions. Do you think that's something you could do?”

“It certainly sounds plausible,” Steven admitted. “I'd have to collect a whole new set of Gym badges, though.”

“Oh, come on, it couldn't be that hard! You made it all the way through the Hoenn League, and I don't imagine you were just chilling out all that time you were Champion. You're still one of the toughest trainers in the Hoenn region!”

“That may be so, Richard, but I feel my competitive days are behind me. I'll make sure to keep battling, though. That's one thing I'm sure of. I don't think I'll be retiring any time soon.”

Richard laughed along with the audience. “Well, that's good to hear, Steven, my man. Now, we're almost out of time, but before we go – Ren! Tell me . . . do you have some sort of secret to your victory? A motto or some advice you can share with us? Hoenn's buzzin'!”

Ren thought about it for a moment. He almost considered using Steven's plant metaphor, but realised it would be too risky. Also, he didn't quite remember all of it, so he'd be likely to make a fool of himself if he tried to recite it. “Not as such. Just . . . I know it's been said a thousand times, but that's probably because it's true: if you keep trying and refuse to back down, you'll get where you're going in the end.”

“All right! There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! Steven Stone and Ren Goodwin, our Champions old and new. I can hear Hoenn buzzin'! Till next time, folks!”

The audience rose to its feet in applause one last time, and Ren waited until the producer gave the all-clear signal before he collapsed back into the voluminous depths of his squashy red chair, his heart racing. Somehow, it seemed, he had managed to hold off the panic throughout the show. It had been over faster than he expected, but nonetheless, he was exhausted.

“Good stuff, kid!” Richard crowed as he practically leapt out from behind his desk to shake Ren by the hand. “Nice job for a first time on the show! Ever been on TV before?”

Ren shook his head blankly, suddenly incapable of speech. The audience was beginning to filter off in different directions, leaving behind only a block of white plastic chairs that some of the stage hands were already stacking up and loading into a truck that Ren hadn't seen before. The cameras were being folded up and packed into the van that was parked next to Steven's limousine.

“Well, you did fine, Ren,” Steven said. “Good job.”

“Thanks. Just don't spring something like that on me again.”

“Oh, it'll happen,” Steven said wryly. “You're a popular young man, now. Richard,” he said, turning to address the big man. “A pleasure being on the show as always.”

“Ah, we'll get you back sometime soon, Stevie boy. Milk it for all it's worth. Sorry it was such a short segment tonight. We already had Bella booked in, and we weren't able to reschedule at such short notice. She graciously agreed to take a fifteen-minute slot instead of the full half-hour, and it was too good of an opportunity to miss. Oh, damn it,” he muttered suddenly, looking at his watch. “I have to run. Sorry, guys! Nice to have you on the show!” He dashed off without waiting for a reply.

“Well, that's that, then,” Steven said. Ren noticed that he seemed to have returned to his quiet, serious demeanour of earlier. “Shall we go?”

“I suppose so,” Ren said. “Hey, where's Bella?”

“I'm pretty sure she had to leave early, too,” Steven said. “Celebrities are busy people, aren't they?”

“Yeah,” Ren agreed. “Tonight was . . . pretty hectic.”

“You did do well, Ren,” Steven said suddenly as they started off toward the car. “I wasn't just saying that for Richard's benefit. I was a little afraid at one point that you were going to freak out on me, but you handled it well for your first time. And in fact, it was probably good that we got a short slot. Warm you up to it a bit at a time, and so on.”

“I'm . . . going to have to get used to this after all, aren't I?” Ren said.

Steven nodded regretfully. “I'm sorry, but you are. But the sooner you accept that, the sooner you're going to grow accustomed to it.”

“Oh, I've accepted it,” Ren said unenthusiastically as he climbed into Steven's limousine. “I just don't like it.”

“That's the spirit.”

After they drove back to Devon Corp and picked up Natasha, Steven made arrangements for the two of them to be accommodated at a hotel owned by the corporation. He wanted to put them in the fanciest five-star establishment in town, but Ren declined politely, preferring slightly less ostentatious accommodation. He had, after all, spent the last five years sleeping under the stars and in Pokemon Centers.

So as a result, he found himself tucking Natasha into a single bed at the Sundown Hotel before dropping into his own, fully clothed. His cousin had retained her unusual quietness from earlier, dropping off to sleep with barely a word after a quick dinner at the hotel's café bar. It was slightly unnerving, to say the least, but, he reasoned, he should deal with it in the morning. Right at that moment, he was too tired to even see what his hotel room looked like. As he felt sleep begin to claim him, he remembered what Steven had been telling him about earlier. He hadn't exactly forgotten, but it had certainly taken a back seat to the pressure of the evening. Sighing deeply, Ren closed his eyes, slightly apprehensive, but at the same time extremely curious.

The Glameow is back. That horrid creature, with its bushy black head of hair, struts along in front of him with a swing in its step, its tail flicking from side to side. Ren doesn't know why, but he follows it again, through the maze of oversized confectionery.

Through the gaps in the walls of candy, he thinks he glimpses a familiar face, but he blinks and it is gone. All that remains is the little blue Pokemon and its curly tail, mewing innocently as it looks back to check he is following. Ren continues pursuing it, even though he knows it will only turn on him before they reach the exit of the maze.

Abruptly, the Glameow makes a sharp left turn, its afro bobbing. The passages are narrower now, and Ren struggles to keep up with the Pokemon. He turns sideways and shuffles through a gap, only to find that the Glameow has disappeared.

Suddenly alert, he glances all around him, searching for the foul creature, but it is nowhere to be seen. He backs up against a lollipop for support, but his hair sticks to the gooey, sugary confection and he finds himself unable to move.

A yowl and a hiss above him. Ren wrenches his head upwards as far as possible and sees Afro Glameow leaping towards him, little fangs bared and claws out. Time slows down as the world goes dark. The giant sweets disappear, leaving only the sticky feeling on the back of Ren's head. Everything is black. There is no floor, no walls, no sky. Only Ren, and Afro Glameow.

Struggling against the sticky substance holding him in place, Ren feels it give slightly. Gritting his teeth and bracing himself, he yanks his head forward, collapsing to the ground and hissing in pain as some of his hair is yanked out. There is no time to spare though, as he rolls and stands up again, watching Afro Glameow miss its target and land comfortably on all four paws.

Afro Glameow stretches luxuriously, as if it has all the time in the world. It turns to Ren slowly, seeming to grin as it shows its tiny, razor-sharp fangs again. Ren reflexively lifts his hands in front of his face to protect himself as it lunges towards him.

A flash of light, and Afro Glameow screeches and disappears. Wincing, Ren looks around for the source of the light, and finds it shining from a square opening above him. A hand reaches out from the opening. Awed, Ren reaches out and takes the hand. He feels himself being pulled . . .

“Whoa.” Ren found himself in another dark place. Unlike the candy maze, however, there was some faint light seeping in under the curtains.

Wait . . . curtains? Ren sat up and glanced around. From what he could see, he was back in his hotel room. “Did I . . . wake up?” he whispered.

“Nope,” said a cheerful voice from the end of his bed. “You're still dreaming.”

Ren jumped, his heart hammering. “Who the hell-” Fumbling around in the dark, he found the light switch next to his bed and turned it on. There was a girl sitting casually on his bed. She was dressed in black leather that looked extremely tight, adorned with silver buckles and clips at seemingly random intervals. Her hair was black and straight, cut neatly a little shorter than shoulder-length. She seemed to be about his age, with slim, elfin features and an amused grin. “What are you doing in my hotel room?” he asked.

“This isn't your hotel room, Ren,” the girl said. “You're still asleep.”

“It sure looks like my hotel room,” he said, taking another look around. There was the TV, the kitchen, the ensuite bathroom, the other bed, neatly made and clearly not slept in. What? “Where's Natasha?” he demanded. His cousin was nowhere to be seen.

“Who?” The girl's smile slipped slightly.

“My cousin! She was in the other bed. What have you done with her? And damn it, what are you doing in my room?”

The girl frowned, and Ren thought he felt a shadow fall over the room. “I thought Steven was going to tell you about this so you didn't freak out on me. Don't tell me he just gave you the Dreamlight without explaining anything.”

Suddenly, Ren remembered what he had been expecting when he fell asleep. “So . . . I am dreaming, after all?”


“It feels . . . awfully real. I don't feel asleep.”

The girl rolled her eyes. “You want proof? Fine. Here.” She snapped her fingers, and Ren's hotel room melted away into a milieu of liquid colour. When the scene resolved itself once more, she was sitting behind Richard Andrews' desk on the temporary stage that had been set up in the park. Ren found himself back in the same red chair he had been in before, but there was no Steven Stone next to him, no audience in front of him. Just him, and the girl.

Another snap, and suddenly Ren was back in his room at home, sitting on his bed while the girl peered out the window curiously. “Hmm. Nice view, here. This your house?”

Ren nodded speechlessly. The girl gave an appreciative murmur and snapped her fingers again. He was standing in the arena at Ever Grande City, in the same place he had stood when he challenged Steven to become League Champion. A heavy wind blew through the stadium, kicking up a dust cloud, just as it had three days ago during the battle. The girl was standing in Steven's box at the other end of the field. When she spoke, though, he could hear her voice as clearly as if she were right in front of him. “I see your memories, Ren. I can pass through your mind at will and see what you have seen, recreating it effortlessly.”

“That's . . . kind of weird,” he said.

“Weird? No.” Suddenly, the girl was standing next to him again. “This is the power of dreams.”

“I don't understand.” He didn't. He didn't understand anything. What Steven had said was making less sense now, not more. “Who are you? Where is this, really?”

“It's as you see it,” the girl said, the barest hint of a laugh in her voice. “We're in Ever Grande City, at the Pokemon League. It's just as you remember it, isn't it?”

“Not exactly. I remember there being a lot more people,” Ren said.

“They're not here because we're not in their dream. We're in yours, and so you are the only person allowed in here.”

“If that's the case, how did you get in here? Which brings me back to my other question – who are you?”

“I said you were the only person allowed in here. I'm not a person, so I'm exempt from that.”

“Then what are you?”

“I'm a spirit,” the girl said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“What, like a ghost?” Ren asked blankly. “Did you die?”

“Not as such. More to the point, I never existed in the first place. Not in your world, at least. I came into existence here, in the world of dreams. My purpose is . . . to protect this world, and yours. And now, that's your purpose, too.”

“I . . . don't understand.”

The girl sighed. “I had a feeling you'd say that.”
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:10 PM
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Default Re: Chapter Five - And Now, Something A Little Magical

I love the image of a Glameow with an afro xDDDDDD

Sorry I haven't been keeping up, but I've been busy ^^' But anyway, I'm continuing to enjoy this story. :) Great characters, interesting concepts--the whole spirit power thing was really cool, I thought :D The concept of a Trainer's "strength" makes more sense to me in this light. I was amused by Ren's attitude during (and around) the whole t.v interview thing. xD But now I'm really curious about this mysterious girl/spirit/person/thing :o

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Old 12-03-2011, 03:15 PM
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Default Re: Champion Game

Afro Glameow.... is awesome.

This is a great story, the characters aren't that terrible archetype that is Ash, and you craft a great story.

So he's from Unova. THAT'S why he has a Braviary :D
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Old 12-04-2011, 01:50 AM
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Default Re: Champion Game

Originally Posted by Charmander009 View Post
I love the image of a Glameow with an afro xDDDDDD
Don't we all? I came up with the idea on the spur of the moment - I just needed something random for Ren to mention dreaming about . . . and then it came back. And again. And again. I'm writing Chapter 30 right now and it comes back again.

Sorry I haven't been keeping up, but I've been busy ^^' But anyway, I'm continuing to enjoy this story. :) Great characters, interesting concepts--the whole spirit power thing was really cool, I thought :D The concept of a Trainer's "strength" makes more sense to me in this light. I was amused by Ren's attitude during (and around) the whole t.v interview thing. xD But now I'm really curious about this mysterious girl/spirit/person/thing :o
Yay, mystery, cliffhangers, things! Glad you're still enjoying it.

Originally Posted by Sheepat View Post
Afro Glameow.... is awesome.

This is a great story, the characters aren't that terrible archetype that is Ash, and you craft a great story.

So he's from Unova. THAT'S why he has a Braviary :D
YES. IT ALL MAKES SENSE. I don't give characters Pokemon for no reason. ;] Now I tell you that he has a Yanmega too, and leave you to puzzle over that. I'm glad you think the characters aren't as formulaic as the anime characters can be, too. And Afro Glameow continues to be popular!

Also, interesting fact: Googling 'Champion Game' does not bring up this fic, while Googling 'Afro Glameow' does. T_T
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Old 12-06-2011, 01:30 AM
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Default Re: Champion Game

LoL, well, in that case... this shall be forever known as the Afro Glameow fan-fic xD LoL, looking forward to seeing it make a return, then xD

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Old 12-06-2011, 05:40 AM
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Default Chapter Six - Great Power of a Certain Kind

Chapter Six
Great Power of a Certain Kind

“This had better be quick,” the girl said. “We don't have much time. What do you want to know?”

“To start with – what's your name?”

“Darkstorm. Elly Darkstorm. But never mind that. What do you need to know about what's happening right now?”

“Uh . . . everything?” Ren said. “I'm afraid I'm completely clueless as to what's going on.”

“I see. What did Steven tell you?”

“Only that becoming the Champion has something to do with having a large amount of spiritual power or something.”

“Ha! Spiritual power? It sounds so awkward when you say it like that, but it's essentially correct. In my native language, we call it yehkti. It might sound strange to you, but it's a far more accurate term. It translates to . . . well, it doesn't exactly have a direct translation, as your language doesn't have a word for it, as such. It's something like 'the fortitude of the soul', I think. But Steven had a good grasp of the concept. He even came up with a scale for it, though of course that's rubbish.”

“It is?”

“Of course! Yehkti isn't something you can attach a number to like that. It's a part of your very being. But there are other people who will tell you more about that. My job right now is to make sure you don't get killed or-” Abruptly, she broke off, her head snapping around to look at something in the distance that Ren couldn't see. “We're not alone,” she said tersely.

“What? Who else is here?”

“Well, nobody yet, but we're about to have company, and not the pleasant kind. Can you fight?”

“Fight?” Ren exclaimed. “I don't have my Pokemon with me! Unless you can do something about that?”

Elly shook her head. “No. Pokemon are living beings, so I can't recreate them in this world. Pokemon are useless here. What I mean is, can you fight?”

“Are you kidding? I've never even had to punch anybody. Why do I need to fight?”

“Because I'm going to,” she said coldly, still glaring towards the other end of the stadium. The wind had died down, leaving the arena cold and still. “And if you can't, we might not survive the next five minutes.”

“Can't you . . . do the teleporting thing again?” Ren asked hopefully.

“There's no point. All I'm doing is changing the appearance of this world – we don't actually move. We're trapped in a fixed space until you wake up.”

“So, what . . . if I wake up, we get out of here?”

“Yes, but don't count on it. You're in a very deep sleep right now – almost unnaturally so. It's almost impossible to wake up from this, even with external stimuli. You'll wake up in the morning like normal, but until then you're stuck.”

“But . . . it's just a dream, right? It's not like I can die or anything.”

“I wouldn't make that assumption if I were you. This is no normal dream – you're on a different plane altogether, and the body and soul work much differently here. I don't know what would happen if you were killed here, but if I were you I wouldn't want to find out.”

“Good point,” said Ren. “So . . . who exactly are we talking about when you say 'company'?”

“Well . . . it's not so much 'who' as it is 'what'. They're malevolent beings of darkness, the flipside of your dreams. As every force has its opposite, so your dreams have these . . . creatures.”

“So . . . like nightmares?”

“You could call them that, I suppose, although nightmares are technically dreams too. These are the things that go bump in the night, the ones that hide on the other side of the veil and try to claw their way into your dreams, and then out into your world.”

“Into . . . my world?”

“Yes. That's the other reason we have to stop them. It's not just our own necks I'm worried about; it's everyone else's as well. The entirety of your world is at risk every time you go to sleep. Frankly, I didn't think they'd find you so quickly.”

Ren tried to speak, but Elly hissed and cut him off with a sharp hand gesture.

“They're here,” she said tersely. The next moment, Ren felt pain lance through his head as the very air tore itself apart. A great rip appeared in the far wall of the stadium, showing only whirling blackness behind it. Three man-shaped figures stepped out, silhouettes fabricated of pure darkness. It was difficult to see the shadowy, indistinct beings in front of the void, but as they moved forwards, the tear diminished and shrank, disappearing as quickly as it had come, taking with it the raging pain in Ren's head. All that remained was a quiet yet insistent throbbing.

“Those are . . . nightmares?” Ren said, squinting to get a good look at the newcomers. It was difficult to get a good look at them, like shadows on water.

Elly nodded, tight-lipped. “Pretty strong ones, too. One I could handle easily, and two would be a stretch, but probably doable. Three? Forget about it. I can't fight these on my own.”

“Well, unless you've got some friends on call, we're going to have to,” Ren said wryly.

She shot him a strange look. “We?” she queried.

“Yeah, 'we'. You and me. Both of us.”

“But . . . you said you couldn't fight.”

“And I was right. But I'd feel pretty bad about sitting back and letting you take those things on by yourself,” said Ren, trying to disguise the fact that his heart was hammering with fear. The shadowy creatures were drawing closer, advancing slowly, cautiously.

Elly smiled slightly, and for the first time, Ren thought he saw a touch of vulnerability in her eyes. But then she blinked, and it was gone. “Thanks,” she said. “I'm not sure how much good you'll be, but it's nice to know you care, at least. Here, take this.” She snapped her fingers again and a short, slim sword appeared, the hilt bound tightly in some kind of purple fabric. She tossed it to Ren, who somehow managed to catch it without losing a finger.

He looked at it in awe and shock. “Where did this come from? I don't remember anything like this!”

“That's not one of your memories,” the girl said. “It's my spare.” Another click, and a much longer version of the sword appeared in her hands, over a metre and a half long, slim and slightly curved. It glistened harshly in the weak sunlight, and Ren shuddered. The shadows were evidently worried too, because they paused and recoiled slightly before regrouping and advancing again. They were just ten metres away as Ren gave the short blade an experimental swing.

How do you even hold this thing? he wondered frantically as he weighed it in his hand. He had never swung a sword in his life, or even a tennis racquet, and he had no idea what he was doing.

“I'll show you how to use it properly later,” she said. “That should be some incentive for you to survive, no?”

“Hooray,” said Ren bleakly.

“I appreciate that you want to help,” she told him, “but stay back here and let me deal with this. You'll just slow me down. Only use that if they come after you.” With that, she launched herself towards the group of shadowy figures before Ren could say anything else.

Gripping his blade so tightly that his hands began to ache, Ren watched in amazement as Elly dived fearlessly at her opponents, sword flashing. It was something beyond his comprehension, he realised. He had suddenly stepped into a world he knew nothing about, a world that did not make the slightest amount of sense.

The nightmares had no visible weapons of their own, but they were fast. As soon as the girl moved, they darted apart, making themselves more difficult targets. Two of them circled around Elly warily, while the third continued its advance towards Ren.

They moved in a strange way, he noticed as he held the sword out in front of him and tried to steady his breathing. Their walk was jerky and sporadic, like puppets on strings, but they were still fast, he saw as the other two lunged at Elly. He wanted to cry out, but before he could open his mouth, the other was on him, slashing out at his head with one of its limbs. He ducked clumsily, just about losing his balance, and slashed awkwardly with the sword. The nightmare danced out of the way as if pulled by a string attached to its midriff.

“Bad dreams?” it whispered in a voice that seemed to be inside his head rather than outside it, then catapulted itself at him again. Ren threw himself out of the way, landing painfully on his left shoulder. Unfazed, the nightmare turned and advanced on him as he struggled to his feet.

Oh, hell, Ren thought. Can these things even be killed? There was only one thing for it. Taking the initiative, he stepped forward as quickly as he was able, thrusting the sword towards where he approximated the nightmare's heart to be. As if it had seen the blade coming, his opponent's arm whipped up and parried the blade with a great clashing noise, as of steel on steel. Ren overbalanced and fell at the nightmare's feet. Before he could get up again, it reached down with a ghostly hand and grasped him by the collar, lifting him bodily off the ground and bringing his face up to where its own should be. No eyes looked back at him from the black expanse.

Frantic, Ren tried to swing the sword, but the nightmare caught it with its free hand and tore it from his grasp, dropping it on the ground. Ren tried to prise the thing's fingers from his collar, but its grip was like a vice. Where the hell is Elly? Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of her, but she was still locked in combat with the other two nightmares. The sound of her slashes and thrusts being parried at every turn filtered through into his ears, which were rapidly growing numb. He found his vision going too as the nightmare brought its sightless face closer to his own; even thinking was a struggle.

The only thought in his mind was Elly's assertation that she could probably deal with two of the nightmares on her own. All he could do was hope to keep this one distracted until she finished with the other two and came to help him.

Summoning the last of his remaining strength, Ren brought his knee up vigorously into the nightmare's stomach – or rather, where its stomach would have been if it was a real person. It didn't have the effect he had been hoping for. Rather than dropping him, it tossed him bodily through the air. Ren had a split second to enjoy his returning vision before he crashed into the ground again.

He swore loudly as he landed on his already-sore left shoulder, and with it, the rest of the left side of his body. His head swam; although he had managed to avoid landing on it, it had still been given a serious rattle. As he pulled himself unsteadily to his knees, he saw the nightmare stalking towards him, the sword – his only weapon – lying in the dust behind it.

Oh, how the hell did this happen? He almost would have preferred to be back in the maze with Afro Glameow. At least that dream he knew he was going to wake up from. I don't want to die, he realised as he dragged himself to his feet, swaying slightly. I have a life back in the real world. A good one! I can't just go and die in some weird dream. For a moment, he wondered what would actually happen if he died in this dream. Surely, it wouldn't affect his physical body? But then he remembered Elly's words.

This is no normal dream – you're on a different plane altogether, and the body and soul work much differently here. I don't know what would happen if you were killed here, but if I were you I wouldn't want to find out. Ren swallowed heavily. Fantastic.

Steeling himself, he dashed towards the nightmare. For a moment, the monster seemed confused, but it soon settled into a ready stance, arms outstretched hungrily towards him. Ren ran straight towards it and then dived past. The nightmare made a lightning grab for him as he passed, but Ren was rolling and then up again, scrabbling towards the sword lying on the ground.

He reached it and took it up again, holding it in front of him defensively. Better than nothing, even if he didn't know how to use it. Breathing deeply, he watched as the nightmare turned towards him slowly. If it had had a face, he thought it might have been amused. Once again it leapt towards him, but this time he was ready, bringing the sword up to interrupt it mid-bound, slashing vertically upwards and praying he would connect.

Contemptuously, the nightmare put its arm up to block his strike, but the sword wasn't there. Ren stepped aside as the dark being landed exactly where he had been standing. In the same movement, he swung the sword around to strike the nightmare in the back, biting into the unsuspecting thing's spine. At the touch of the blade, the nightmare exploded silently, a whirling gust of wind emanating from where it stood, carrying fragments of shadow with it.

As it departed, Ren felt a weight lift from his shoulders. He was able to breathe a little more easily, making up for a deficit he hadn't even noticed in the heat of the battle. He was just about ready to drop when he heard Elly cry out.

Ren swung his head round towards the source of the sound, and saw Elly flat on her back on the ground ten metres away as a nightmare towered over her, arm drawn back to deliver what would most likely be a killing blow. The other was nowhere to be seen. Elly's sword was some metres away on the other side. Ren knew he would never make it in time. Desperate, he did something very foolish and probably extremely stupid; he threw his sword at the nightmare as hard as he could.

Having no idea how to throw a sword properly – indeed, if there even was an acceptable way to do so – he simply threw it overarm with all his remaining strength. It flew through the air clumsily, turning end over end. Barely after it had left his hand, Ren knew that his aim had been off. The nightmare lifted its head unconcernedly to watch the blade pass more than a metre in front of it before turnin back to strike downwards at the unarmed Elly-

-who was nowhere to be seen. Taking advantage of the nightmare's distraction, she had slipped out from beneath it, diving for her own sword. She picked it up and held it ready, leaping back towards the nightmare even as it cast around for her. The lethal blade slid through the centre of the mass of shadow, causing it, too, to vanish in the midst of a miniature tornado.

Ren collapsed into a sitting position, burying his head in his hands and sucking in huge lungfuls of the dust-ridden air. After a moment, Elly came over and joined him on the ground, her hair tangled and messy, beads of sweat visible on her face. Neither of them spoke for a minute, Ren merely enjoying being able to relax for the first time in a while. Although the fight had only lasted a couple of minutes, it felt like forever to Ren.

“You handled that sword like it was a baseball bat,” Elly said eventually.

“Don't flatter me. I've seen some serious damage done with a baseball bat.”

“Exactly. I didn't expect you to be able to survive a nightmare attack, let alone kill one.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Ren snorted.

“It's not my job to stroke your ego, yehktira,” Elly said, slightly disdainfully.

“What . . . did you just call me?”

Yehktira. It means 'carrier of the fortitude of the soul'.”

“Uh-huh. You make it sound like it's real important,” Ren said wryly.

“What, you think it's not? You think I'd be risking my neck for you otherwise?”

“You . . . have a point,” Ren said. “But you said it wasn't just for our own sake that we had to kill the nightmares. Was that a lie, all that about how they would try and get through into my world?”

“No, of course not. But they came her tonight because they felt your yehkti. Nightmares need someone with a strong source of yehkti to get through into your world. That's why the yehktira is always in danger.”

“Why have a yehktira at all, then?” Ren asked, stumbling over the unfamiliar phonemes. “And if my yehkti is this strong, how come none of this has happened to me before?”

Elly sighed and held up two fingers. “One, we must have a yehktira. If we don't, the fabric of the two worlds will fall apart. You're the only thing holding this world together at the moment. Whoever holds the Dreamlight must take on this role – the stronger the bearer, the stronger the bonds holding the worlds together.”

“That sounds . . . pretty heavy,” said Ren. “What's number two?”

“Number two is that before, you haven't had the Dreamlight in your possession. The nightmares can only enter your world through the dreams of someone who enters the second ring.”

Ren stared at her blankly. “Meaning . . . ?”

Elly rolled her eyes. “You really are an idiot, aren't you?”

“Um . . . I honestly don't know,” Ren admitted. He was beginning to think it was possible. It seemed that lately, people were doing nothing but explaining things to him. “I might be.”

“Hmph. Anyway, this is how it works. Listen carefully, because I'm only going to say it once. The world of dreams exists parallel to your own. You had figured that out already, I imagine.” With her finger, she drew three concentric circles in the dust. “This world is made up of three rings, or sub-worlds. The first ring, on the outside, is the largest. This is where normal people go when they dream, regardless of the strength of their yehkti. The dreams here are insubstantial, weak and mean next to nothing. Sometimes people gain premonitions and so on, and they are hailed as psychics in your world.” She was failing to hide the disgust in her voice.

“Something against psychics?” Ren asked.

“Not in particular,” she said brusquely. “In any case, that's what the first ring is. That is where I pulled you from when you were being attacked by that . . . thing.

“Afro Glameow, you mean?”

“You're . . . familiar with it?” Elly asked, her piercing green eyes narrowing.

“Well, I've had the same dream a couple of times. That's all, though.”


“Is there something wrong?”

“No. So, the first ring is where you were before. Where we are now . . . is the second ring.” She indicated the next circle – the second largest one. “This is the inbetween. It takes many forms, and it is sustained solely by the will of the yehktira. It is built from his memories, and its size and stability depends on his strength. This ring is only accessible when the yehktira is asleep, and it is through here which the nightmares must pass.”

(continued in next post)
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Old 12-06-2011, 05:41 AM
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Default Chapter Six - Great Power of a Certain Kind (cont)

(continued from last post)

“So then . . . the nightmares come from . . . the first ring?” Ren guessed.

“Yes, and . . . oh, look, can we stop calling them 'nightmares'? It's confusing.”

“But I thought you said that was what they were?”

“Not exactly. However bad they may be, nightmares are still only first-ring dreams. These things . . . they have a name in my language, but you probably wouldn't be able to pronounce it. You have enough trouble with little words like yehkti.”

“Well, I have to call them something,” Ren grumbled. “What are they? Demons? Ghosts?”

“Well . . . the direct translation of their name would be something like 'the empty ones without yehkti that travel between worlds', I suppose.”

“Did Steven seriously never worry about this?” Ren asked. It was just occurring to him how significant Elly's words were. Steven had been Champion for six years . . .

“He called them nightmares too. He got all sulky whenever I tried to correct him, though.”

“Hmm . . . what does it mean when you say they're 'empty ones'?” Ren asked. “Empty of what?”

“Everything, really. But specifically . . . they don't have souls.”

“Do you?” Ren asked. “I mean . . . what exactly are you? Some kind of spirit, I follow, but . . . eh.” He waved his hands randomly.

“I am a soul. Just as they are bodies without souls, my kind are souls without bodies.”

“So what do you call them?” Ren asked in frustration. “At least let me try to say it.”

“You sure?” Elly said, raising her eyebrows. “Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself. Ah, whatever. Iehkti'na urum'na dar'sni-laku.”

Ren stared blankly. “That is the weirdest-sounding name I have ever heard,” he said honestly.

Elly frowned. “I knew you'd never manage it. But look. We can argue over what to call them later. For now, I need to get you out of here and into the third ring. More of them could turn up, though it's unlikely.”

“Why are we going to the third ring?” Ren asked as Elly pulled him, none too gently, to his feet.

“Because I'm sick of explaining stuff to you. It's not my job to babysit some kid.”

“Oh, come on-”

“What? You think I'm the same age you are? Don't make me laugh. I've been here in this world for centuries. Now shut up and come with me.” With a single slim finger, she drew a long vertical line in the air. For a moment, nothing happened. All of a sudden, there was a massive boom, as if of compressed air, and a gaping slit appeared along the line she had drawn.

Ren winced and pressed his hands to his ears. “Warn me next time you're going to do something like that!” he exclaimed.

“Eh. More fun this way,” Elly shrugged as she watched Ren tentatively tap his ringing ears. She didn't seem to have been affected by the sonic blast. “You coming?” Without another word, she turned and stepped into the gap, disappearing from sight in a heartbeat.

Ren blinked. Taking a deep breath and hoping he wouldn't regret it, he stepped into the portal.
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:28 AM
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Default Re: Champion Game

Wow, just read of all what you have so far, and let me say, it's amazing. Absolutely splendorificus. Can't wait for more.
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