In Her Dominion - A Pokémon Roleplay (Closed, Started)

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=HARLEY=

Alisia seemed to hesitate before glancing over at her Pokemon, a Grovyle, who was currently stuffing Poffins down its gullet. Then she looked back and answered.

"Sure, why not. As long as nobody minds, I see no harm in it. Lead the way?".

At that, Harley polished off the food she'd piled in front of her, and stood. "You got it.", she said, before looking over at the others.

"Alright you gluttons, lets work off that meal.", she called.

In response, all but Fahrenheit seemed to smirk at that, and the Combusken simply snorted before following close behind. As Celsius scampered behind him, Oracle and Godmother floated and flew behind her respectively, and Harley glanced back as she strode out of the dining room and made a beeline for where she knew the stairs leading to the rec area was.

"Hope you don't mind if I keep my Pokemon out. Personally, I think it's a shame to coop them up if I don't have to.", she said offhand, before quickly making her way down the stairs and stepping into the small, well-equipped room.

"So, you want to go first, or should I?", she asked, striding easily to the far end of the small battle area.

Then Harley simply turned and crossed her arms over her chest while her Pokemon readied themselves behind her.

"Uh, here. Thank you."

"Splendid!" the man said, happily taking the clipboard from Mel's outstretched hands. "Alright Ms... Mallory, everything seems to be in order. Just be sure to get here half an hour or so before the tournament begins, and we should have the ballots all set up."

Taking a second to file the paperwork away, the employee flashed the trainer and her Haunter another quick smile. "Unless you have any other questions, I think that's about everything."


"W-what? You can't be serious. But... but..."

'Well,' Marie mused, stealing a glance at the trainer's crestfallen expression, 'so much for some extra income.' She'd seen that look before, mainly on people who'd "forgotten" their wallet in their other bag, so the next few words out of the ex-potential lodger weren't exactly surprising.

"Ah, sorry about that. I'm afraid I won't be able to stay here."

"Yeah, yeah," the young woman sighed, irritably fiddling with the register to recall the room charge. "Couldn't have mentioned that before I got everything rung up, huh?"

Despite her grumbling, it only took Marie a matter of seconds to get everything squared away, even with her painfully throbbing finger. Working the register was practically second nature to her now, as sad as that might be.

With her work done, she took a minute to simply lean back against the wall and relax. Stuff in the kitchen was fine (mostly), and it wasn't like the customers would starve if she wasn't there for a few minutes. Yeah, a quick coffee break would be just fine.

...At least, it would be, if it wasn't for the presence of the sorry-looking trainer, standing there with apparently no place to go. With that helpless, shell shocked look on his face.

"Dammit," Marie muttered under her breath, before stepping forward and leaning over the counter. "Look, if it was any other day, I'd probably just kick you out of here," she said sharply. "But, you're in luck. Did you see that guy in the dining room? All dressed up, glasses, had a Magneton? I'm pretty sure he's got an extra room or two, and if you ask him nicely, he might loan you one. Alright?"


Thomas blinked, politely, as the group's conversation somehow devolved into a challenge for a Pokemon battle. The Team Rocket girl, Harley, seemed to take her stance on experience vs. observation quite seriously.

Still, if there was going to be a battle anyway, then maybe it wouldn't hurt to continue to argue his own take on the matter... Besides, if he was reading Trevor's body language and tone right, a change of subject might be called for.

As Harley and the newcomer, Alisia, left the room, Thomas stood to follow them. "Hmmm," he said simply, gesturing towards Faraday behind him. "Watching a battle tonight might be a good way to gear up for tomorrow. What do you think, Faraday?"

"Bzzzzt."

"Exactly."

Nodding towards Simon and Trevor, the researcher and his Pokemon began to file out of the room, following in Harley and Alisia's wake.

Alsia followed the roguish girl as she collected her Pokemon from the dining table, being eventually led to a small flight of stairs with the sign "Recreation Room" on the wall with an arrow pointing down.

The Rec Room was surprisingly well-equipped for such a modest establishment, with training bags and equipment lining the walls, presumably bought to entice prospective trainers for the tournament. She wondered at what cost such facilities were worth, as she had known even basic gyms to charge a significant amount for less than what was offered here.

The two made their way to the far side of the room, where a circular ring lined with matts indicated the sparring arena, Harley setting herself up on one end, her Pokemon eagerly awaiting their trainer's word.

"So, you want to go first, or should I?"

Alisia gave a small shrug. "Normally I'd say ladies first..." she said, reaching for a Premier Ball strapped to her hip. "...but I suppose that doesn't help in this situation"

Now detached from her belt, Alisia tossed the ball up into the air and caught it in her hand, before immediately pulling her arm back and catapulting the sphere forward.

"Go for it, Kumi!"

In a flash of red light came the Fox Pokemon, briefly looking back at her trainer for encouragement, before confidently stepping forward and delivering a small, high-pitched growl.

=HARLEY=

The Team Rocket Fan simply chuckled at Alisia's response, saying that the old fashioned 'Ladies first,', didn't really work in the situation they were in. Then she promptly tossed a Luxury Ball, something Harley envied the moment she saw it, releasing a Vulpix.

"Go for it, Kumi!".

As soon as it touched the sparring area, it looked back at its trainer, then stepped forward and growled admirably. So, a Fire-type. That ruled out Celsius, and potentially Oracle. It also meant Fahrenheit would be at a slight disadvantage himself, though she didn't want to use him for this fight anyway. That left Godmother, or Oracle if she really wanted to play the risks. After a moments hesitation while she thought that, she nodded and glanced up at the Misdreavus.

"Alright Oracle, you're up.", she said, jerking her head toward the sparring area.

As she did, Fahrenheit looked up at her in disappointment, and she idly stroked the crest atop his head. "Not this time, buddy. Gotta keep some things close to the vest before the Tournament.", she said quietly, even as Oracle floated over to her position.

"Mis-Dreavus!", the ghost called, bringing her attention back to the Pokemon in front of her.

"Confuse Ray! Follow with a Shadow Ball, then Ominous Wind!", she barked, and the Misdreavus complied at once.

"Ah, dammit." Trevor was intrigued by the proposition of a battle. Particularly, whether Harley's bite matched her bark. Plus, if he went up against either of them tomorrow it could prove to be enough to tip the balance in his favor. But...

... screw it, I'll just get take away. He quickly picked some food, enough for all of them and followed the trainers downstairs. "Come on Ice, I think this should be interesting."

"Char..." Ice gave a somewhat disheartened sigh, dissapointed by the lack of eating in his near future, casually strolling behind his trainer.

Things were already underway when he arrived. Harley's Misdreavus was squaring off against Alisia's Vulpix. A quick look at his pokedex confirmed them to be the exact same level (Huh, that's... fortuitous, I guess). Type likely wouldn't factor into it either as fire and ghost are mutually neutral.

This should be close.

Harley wasted no time in ordering Misdreavus to attack with extreme prejudice.

"Confuse Ray! Follow with a Shadow Ball, then Ominous Wind!"

Alisia had perhaps been too lenient in allowing her opponent the first move, as Oracle's beads began to glow a hazy purple she saw that it was already going to be difficult to avoid the brunt of the attack, and then all Kumi could do would be to return in kind.

"Kumi! Manoeuvre number three!"

"Mis-Dreavus!"

"Kumi! Manoeuvre number three!"

It didn't take long for the battle to get underway, as Oracle and Kumi rushed towards each other, ready to give it their all.

The Ghost-type, with otherworldly speed, launched a harsh, blinding beam towards its foe. Unable to avoid the ray in time, poor Kumi was barraged with impossible sights and sounds, sensations that couldn't possibly exist. Needless to say, the Vulpix's mental state was thrown into disarray, and instead of launching its own attack the Pokemon slipped and skidded painfully along the ground.

While Kumi struggled to regain its footing, Oracle rushed in for a hit, hurling a sphere of dark energies towards her foe. Though she was hit, the Fire-type simply gritted her teeth and rose to her paws, her unfocused eyes somehow managing to track the Misdreavus. With a growl, Kumi charged forward, feinting first one way, then the other, before lashing out with her jaws and clamping onto the Ghost with a different sort of dark power.

Judging by Oracle's pained shriek, the attack was more than effective. Wrenching herself from her enemy's grasp, the Ghost-type floated backwards, letting off an oppressive aura as she retreated. The Vulpix, already reeling from the earlier Confuse Ray, reacted poorly to the attack. The spurt of flames she was summoning up flickered and faded without ever touching the Misdreavus, but not before painfully scorching her own paws.

Oracle had certainly taken a devastating hit, but Kumi was certainly on the losing end of the exchange. However, refusing to back down, the Vulpix managed to focus her gaze on her opponent. She wasn't out of the fight just yet.

=HARLEY=

Oracle didn't waste any time in charging up her Confuse Ray, causing the largest 'stone' on her neck to glow purple before firing off a beam of energy towards the Vulpix, even as it tried to do the same. But luck was on Oracles side, since she managed to fire first.

The Vulpix seemed to slip, before skidding along the ground after a failed attack. But, Harley had to admire it's determination as it fought to get up, only to be hit head-long by the Shadow Ball that Oracle had gathered in front of her in the meantime. The orb of energy seemed to hurt, but the Vulpix wasn't going to let it be beaten so easily, and it rushed in, executing several feints before latching it's darkly-glowing jaws onto the ghost.

"DREAV!", Oracle screamed, before pulling herself away and glaring at the little fire fox.

Even as she pulled back, she spun once, releasing a horrible aura, which took advantage of the Vulpix's confusion, adding more injury to the insult of it's own attack backfiring.

Harley didn't like the fact that it managed to get such a good hit in on Oracle, and it was clear that neither did the rest of her Pokemon, each of them calling out some form of encouragement to their comrade.

She simply watched as the Vulpix fought to get to its feet one more time, locking its gaze on the floating Misdreavus even as Harley noticed that it's paws were terribly vulnerable.

"Oracle, two more Shadow Balls! Aim for the feet, take it out!", she ordered.

The ghost, taking a moment to see what her trainer saw, seemed to nod before gathering another orb of baleful energy.

Wash had only just stuffed Spheal's pokéball into his trouser pocket when the doors to the gym flew open again. Two young women burst into the room engaged in conversation. So preoccupied were the two, that neither seemed to notice the old captain standing by the PC terminal in the corner. Wash however, looked up immediately at the diminutive Harley and imposing Alisia, and frowned. Despite differences between the odd couple there was only one thing they registered as in Wash's simple mind.

More girl-children? Really? What do they all want down here? Probably gonna braid each other's hair. Or gossip about boys. Or paint themselves up like harlots! Or...

"Go for it, Kumi!"

"Alright Oracle, you're up."

Or have a spirit of the dead battle a fire breathing fox? What?

Alisia and Harley had indeed gone straight for the small arena and were now fighting with a Vulpix and Misdreavus respectively. Not that Wash actually knew what the two critters were called. Truth be told, the captain had very little experience fighting anyone other than fellow sailors and the Water-types they typically employed. That was just a natural consequence of spending 90% of one's life on boats.

"DREAV!"

As Oracle withdrew in pain in response to Kumi's super effective attack, Wash had to admit that he had trouble following the fight. Was the floating purple wig a Ghost-type? He wasn't too familiar with those. And what was that move that was effective against it anyway? After a short debate between his stomach and his pride the captain walked over to the gym entrance, folded his arms and leaned back onto the wall. Food would have to wait. He was going to win that tournament tomorrow; that was a given. But that task could be made marginally easier if he was just a bit more familiar with how trainers fought on land.

Not that these two girl-children had anything to teach him about fighting! Oh, heaven forbid! No, he was just observing the fight to learn a bit more about land dwelling trainers. You never knew with these landlubbers and their... landlubbery ways. Pssh. Girl trainers. They were probably just fighting over a boy. Or over who used the last pink nail polish. Yeah, that was probably it, Wash mused while scratching his white beard.

Although they were able to land a Super-Effective blow against her opponent, Oracle's powerful attack had left Kumi coming out of the exchange the worst for wear, helped in no small part from the Vulpix hurting itself in its disorientation from Confuse Ray.

Kumi's perseverance was admirable, and Alisia looked at her with pride as the Pokemon rose to her feet despite its injured paws. Any inspirational pep-talks were cut short however, as Harley was quick to notice her opponent's newfound vulnerability, hoping to exploit it and bring the fight to an early end.

"Oracle, two more Shadow Balls! Aim for the feet, take it out!"

The fox-pokemon looked worried, the last STAB Shadow Ball had been damaging enough, but two more? Alisia knew that Kumi was a goner if they didn't act fast.

We may not have the Speed to outpace it, but we do have the type-advantage... and the element of surprise

"Use Flare Blitz to charge through its attack! Then flank it with Feint Attack, Kumi!"

The small vulpine nodded at its trainer's behest, as it began to cloak its body with flames.

"Oracle, two more Shadow Balls! Aim for the feet, take it out!"

"Use Flare Blitz to charge through its attack! Then flank it with Feint Attack, Kumi!"

The two Pokemon squared off, getting ready for round two. Or round four, if you wanted to be technical about things.

Like before, Oracle's greater speed allowed her to strike first: Before her foe could preparing her own attack, the Ghost-type had already charged up another sphere of dark power and had let it fly. Crackling with energy, the Shadow Ball tore through the air, more than ready to wreck havoc on the already injured Vulpix.

Surprisingly, however, Kumi didn't do anything to avoid the attack. In fact, the fox Pokemon charged towards Oracle's attack, spurts of fire spontaneously spurting to life along her fur as she ran. The blazing aura seemed to make the Vulpix move even faster, sending her flying across the arena towards the Misdreavus.

The Shadow Ball and Kumi collided in the center of the ring, dark power and flaming fox slamming together with a crack of force. The Shadow Ball crumbled and broke around its target, its pieces dragging across the Vulpix's burning body, but the Fire-type carried on despite the pain. Her momentum carrying her forward, Kumi jumped up into the air and slammed her frame, still coated by a miniature inferno, into Oracle, briefly wreathing the Ghost-type in fire.

Both parties disengaged after the impact, Oracle hissing as she circled up and back, Kumi struggling to keep her footing after landing back on the ground. Both Pokemon were on their last legs; they'd have to move fast if they wanted to win.

As Oracle began to construct yet another purple sphere, Kumi chased after her, feinting right then left with her claws and fangs. If she could just outmaneuver the Ghost-type, then she could-

"Pix!"

The third, and final, Shadow Ball slammed into the Vulpix with unrelenting force. Though she'd withstood the earlier ones, this time the Fire-types stamina just couldn't take it. Her eyelids falling shut, Kumi collapsed limply to the ground, her small chest heaving. Oracle had won the day. This time, at least.

=HARLEY=

As soon as she barked out her next orders for Oracle, hearing Alisia's next directions for her Vulpix, Kumi, made Harley clench her teeth in anticipation.

"Use Flare Blitz to charge through its attack! Then flank it with Feint Attack, Kumi!".

That wasn't good. She had thought too directly, was too focused on simply going in for the metaphorical 'kill', that she wasn't flexible, and the Flare Blitz may just have been enough to get past the first Shadow Ball, while the Feint Attack was sure to take Oracle out if it connected.

But, as Oracle launched her first of two Shadow Ball's, Harley realized that it was simply up to the Pokemon now. She couldn't do jack to stop what was set in motion now.

The dark orb streaked across the small sparring area even as Kumi, wreathed in flames, sprinted straight toward it, and the Rocket Fan's fears were confirmed when the Shadow Ball broke up on impact, doing minimal damage thanks to the shield the fire around the fox made. As it's body slammed into Oracle, they were both engulfed in flame for a few moments before they pulled back in unison.

This time, the Misdreavus didn't scream, but her glare only intensified towards the fox, and charged what was sure to be her last attack of the match, one way or the other. And just before the Vulpix could finally execute it's last feint, the second orb of malevolence rammed into it, and this time enough was finally enough. After a few moments, the little fox collapsed, and fainted.

The breath Harley didn't even know she held exhaled, and she sighed softly before striding over to the floating Ghost and patting it head gently with one hand, while the other pulled out a Potion to spray on her wounds.

"That was a good job, Oracle, you kicked ass.", she said with a smile, taking the time to be thorough with the Potion.

Oracle didn't argue. "Mis Dreav-Dreav.", it chimed tiredly, even as the other Pokemon of her team strode, or hopped, over and put in their own encouragement to the Ghost.

Once Oracle's wounds were taken care of, Harley took out a Super Potion and offered it to Alisia.

"Here. May not be much, but it should help a little at least. That was a close match.", she said, and it was clear there was respect in her tone.

"That Flare Blitz in particular was clever. That'll remind me not to be so single-minded next time, particularly since that tactic should've worked.", she pointed out, before offering her hand this time.

"Looking forward to really facing you in the Tournament, Alisia.", Harley said, smiling.

It was almost awe inspiring to witness; Kumi charging straight through Misdreavus's Shadow Ball at her trainer's insistence, emerging valiantly from the maelstrom of fire and energy to connect with a scorching blow of her own. As her intrepid Pokemon rushed forward to deliver what was to be the killing blow, Alisia clenched her fist in the belief that victory was within sight.

If only for a second.

By the time Kumi had wound up her attack, Oracle's second dark orb was already on its collision course, catching the fox pokemon mid-feint and sending it hurtling into unconsciousness.

"Kumi!" she cried, both in worry over her teammate's status as well as a rousing attempt at urging the pokemon to continue the fight. It was already too late however, a fact that was verified after she had ran over and checked at Kumi for herself. The wounds to her pokemon she could handle. The damage to her pride? Uncertain.

Alisia calmly sorted through the sections of her bag to look for her healing-items. The sights and sounds of Harley's pokemon in celebration growing fainter as she focused on her single-minded pursuit. A lone voice shocked her, as her opponent knelt down beside her to offer assistance.

"Here. May not be much, but it should help a little at least. That was a close match."

Her tone was admittedly humble, but Alisia couldn't help but look at the offering with somewhat reluctance. She was hardly the type to accept charity, especially from someone who had just bested her.

Play along for now, bide time and get revenge later.

She quickly hid her own potions from view, graciously accepting Harley's as she sprayed the medicine over Kumi's visible wounds, the fire-type becoming instantly more respondent.

"Looking forward to really facing you in the Tournament, Alisia." the trainer smiled.

"I look forward to it as well. Thank you for the opportunity to learn." she said. She returned a smile, before offering her hand to the genial trainer in a sign of mutual respect.

=HARLEY=

It wasn't hard to see that there was some initial reluctance after she offered the Super Potion, but Harley couldn't say she was surprised. After all, she wouldn't have appreciated the gesture much in her shoes, not initially at least. But the fact that she accepted it graciously caused a small smirk to tug at the corner of Harley's mouth. Bigger woman than me, that's for sure, she thought, before accepting the hand Alisia offered.

"I look forward to it as well. Thank you for the opportunity to learn.".

"Likewise. I'm going to have to keep a close eye on the battle if I go up against you again.", she said as she shook her hand.

After all, it was clear from the fight that Alisia was a formidable opponent. Not only that, but she was one that Harley was already starting to like. If the tournament had more contenders like her, it was going to be interesting, that was for sure. She'd have to get training soon, but not tomorrow. Tomorrow, they'd relax until the Tournament officially started, so they were rested and ready to go.

Once she released her grip, she turned towards her Pokemon and grinned. "Alright. That's enough for tonight, lets get back to our room. Tomorrows a big day, and we'll need our rest.", she said.

And she was answered with squawks and cries of agreement at that, and as she strode to the exit, she looked back and waved.

"See you all at the Tournament.", she said, her grin wicked and her tone tinged with challenge.

Then she stepped out and made her way upstairs.

Anthony woke with a yawn as he felt something wet touch the side of his face. Blinking the sleep from his eyes, Kelvin's snout came into view, pressing against his trainer's face. Anthony could hear the distant tone of a whine in his voice, but that changed to a happy bark as soon as he saw his master stir. Still dazed, Anthony took a look at his surroundings. It was already dark - he must have been out for a while. "Heh. The ride over must have taken more out of me than I thought." He placed a hand on Kelvin's head, stroking it as he tried to regain his cognizance. "You been here the entire time, boy?" Kelvin responded with another whine, pawing at Anthony's bag, specifically at the pocket he used to store his pokeballs. Anthony's eyes widened with a start - he had completely forgotten!

He stumbled out of his chair, hearing something clatter to the floor at his feet. Looking down with a confused expression, his eyes came on to a small key with a number etched on the handle. The receptionist must have left this while he slept. Wasting no time, Anthony swept the key up into his hands and stuffed it into his pocket as he ran outside. Reaching into his bag, he produced two pokeballs and threw them, releasing two familiar figures. "Sorry! I sort of... well, forgot to let you guys out. Right." He looked sheepishly at the ground, embarrassed at having forgotten something so important.

Artemis, for her part, paid only cursory attention to her trainer's apologies, focusing more on stretching her wings. "Noc!" A hoot issued from her beak before she flew up to the hotel's roof, claiming it as a makeshift roost. Chick also took his time to stretch before turning his attention to Anthony, but his mood was much less forgiving. "Bay! Bayleef!" He punctuated each syllable with a stamp to emphasize his displeasure before turning away with a huff. "Look, I know it's uncomfortable. And I said I was sorry! What else do you want from me?"

"Leef! Bay, Bayleef!"

"But...I..." Anthony let it go with a sigh. Chick had a habit of being difficult, especially when he thought someone had slighted him in some way. Nothing to do but let him cool off. Anthony's attention was brought yet again to Kelvin pawing at his bag, this time at the place he kept their food. "Oh, you must all be starving. Come on, let's go see if this place serves anything."

The battle was short and decisive but Trevor had been right, it was a close match. The Misdreavus's initial confuse ray had swung the battle in its favor right from the get go but the Vulpix certainly had some surprises of its own.

"Good match." He remarked simply. He was actually mildly worried by this short bout. These two clearly had some experience under their belts. Wasn't this an amateur tournament? Even passing the first round could be a serious fight if he went up against either of them. He looked to Alisia. She seemed to be taking the loss pretty damn well too. He felt glad battling was done by the pokemon and not their trainers when he met trainers like Alisia. He felt pretty sure she could beat the hell out of him pretty easily. He reassured himself by noting that he could probably outrun her if the need arose.

"It's hard to believe that little furball is packing Flare Blitz. That's one hell of a nasty trick. I like it." He grinned at that. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully I wont have to fight either of you too early. Name's Trevor, by the way. I don't think I introduced myself properly before."

Meanwhile, Ice had made his way up to Kumi. He flashed a smile and gave a particularly complimentary "Charr..." to the Vulpix. He didn't get to hang out with fellow fire types very often and Kumi had impressed him somewhat.

=HARLEY=

Harley had to pause in the doorway as one of the others spoke up.

"Good match. It's hard to believe that little furball is packing Flare Blitz. That's one hell of a nasty trick. I like it. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully I wont have to fight either of you too early. Name's Trevor, by the way. I don't think I introduced myself properly before.".

At that, she sighed softly and looked back. "It was a close match, that was for damn sure. But if I'm really honest, I shouldn't have won. The only reason I did, was on sheer dumb luck, emphasis on dumb.", she said, turning fully and leaning against the door frame.

"If it wasn't for the Confuse Ray at the beginning, Oracle wouldn't have stood a chance, though by no fault of her own. As it was, Kumi had her dead-to-rights, and that Flare Blitz maneuver, which really was ingenious, by the way, should have turned the tide. And anyone watching closely, had to know it. I certainly did.", she said, before nodding to Alisia.

"I really wish I didn't feel the need to hold back my heavy-hitter, but I'm getting the feeling you did the same. Not sure if I should be excited, or nervous.", she told her with the slightest smirk.

Then she turned and waved. "I'm off to bed. Whoever I end up fighting first, say your prayers.", she told them playfully.

As she headed up the stairs, she gently patted Oracle's head. "Don't worry Oracle, I know you gave it your all. Sometimes, it just comes down to luck. Next time, we'll be more careful.", she reassured her.

By the time she stepped up into the main hall, she spotted someone, along with several large Pokemon, in the foyer. One of those Pokemon was an Arcanine, which in and of itself was enough to pique her interest. Joining it was a Noctowl and a Bayleef, two Johto natives. Curious, she stepped forward and managed to catch the last of what their trainer said.

"Leaf! Bay, Bayleaf!".

"But...I... Oh, you must all be starving. Come on, let's go see if this place serves anything.".

"They should still be serving dinner in the dining hall. But really, you shouldn't let your Pokemon boss you around like that.", Harley piped up.

Even as she stopped at the front desk and leaned against it, her arms crossed over her chest, her Pokemon seemed to size up his. Fahrenheit and Godmother in particular were looking over their counterparts, with the Murkrow hopping over to the Noctowl.

"Murkrow, Krow-Krow?", she cawed inquisitively, tilting her head to one side as if asking, "Here to fight too?".

"They should still be serving dinner in the dining hall. But really, you shouldn't let your Pokemon boss you around like that."

Anthony bristled at the voice. He knew he had a bad habit of letting others walk over him, but he wasn't letting his own pokemon do it... was he? He turned to see its source, a surprisingly tiny girl given its volume in biker's attire. Flanking her was a severe looking Combusken and a Murkrow. It didn't take a professor to tell they were probably here for the tournament as well. Almost as if on cue, the girl's pokemon began staring them down, clearly sizing them up. Kelvin responded to this scrutiny as he usually did - by grandstanding.

"Arc! Arcanine!" With a loud bark, he straightened his posture and leveled his gaze the Combusken's way, refusing to break eye contact. "Kelvin, keep it down! People are trying to sleep!" The Arcanine ignored his master except to swivel his ears in his direction, keeping his eyes locked with his counterpoint in a clear display of dominance. Anthony sighed again and let it drop - while good and reliable friends, when they got worked up Artemis was the only one that could get them to stop, and she was too hungry to care for their games.

Artemis peered down at the Murkrow and responded to its question with a hoot of her own. "Towl. Noc, Noctowl." Her voice was level and calm, much like the rest of her demeanor. "We are, in fact." She moved towards the door, clearly interested in eating before continuing this conversation. "Noc, Noctowl." She called back, as thought to say "We can talk again in a moment."

Chick muscled his way through the crowd, not interested in this trainer or her entourage. Why should he, when there was food waiting to be eaten? Anthony responded to this chaos as he usually did - with a resigned shrug. He'd given up on trying to control them a long time ago. He'd have to stay near Kelvin in case he decided to do something really rash to assert himself, however, at least for the moment. "So... I guess you're in the tourney too? How do you figure your odds?"

=HARLEY=

As the Arcanine, Kelvin, barked loudly and locked his eyes on Fahrenheit's, the Combusken merely stared back with a bored expression, clearly unimpressed. He didn't even bother looking over at his trainer as he motioned with one clawed hand towards the oversized dog.

"Combusken?", he squawked derisively: "Really?".

Godmother, on the other hand, was calm and civil as she replied to the rather formal Noctowl Artemis.

"Krow-Krow Murkrow, Murk, Murkrow.", she called after, basically saying, "Try the bitter blocks, they're good.".

Harley watched both Pokemon in amusement, and knowing that Godmother wasn't the type for out-of-battle confrontations unless really provoked, she turned to Fahrenheit and the Arcanine before addressing the latter.

"Don't bother. Fahrenheit is the type to not give a shit until after you fight him, and even then, only if you manage to get beat him, or get close.", she told him with a chuckle.

"So... I guess you're in the tourney too? How do you figure your odds?".

At the trainers question, she hesitated and looked back in the direction of the rec area before turning back to him and answering.

"I am, yes, and I'm not sure. Competition is sure to be steep, so I don't know. I'm damn sure I'm going to give it my best shot.", she said, before offering a hand and introducing herself, "I'm Harley.".

"I am, yes, and I'm not sure. Competition is sure to be steep, so I don't know. I'm damn sure I'm going to give it my best shot." She offered a hand in greeting. "I'm Harley."

"Anthony." He took the hand and shook what he assumed was firmly before turning to Kelvin. "You heard her, boy. No point in getting all riled up before the main event." Kelvin eyes continued their gaze on Fahrenheit, except now he bared his fangs with a low snarl. "Arc..." he growled, as though to taunt "Yes, really. Have the guts to say otherwise?"

"Kelvin, that's enough!" Anthony's sudden snap finally broke the beast's concentration, who looked to his master with a mixture of surprise and confusion. He as further taken aback to see his normally placid trainer sporting a deepening frown. Anthony jerked his pointer to the door he assumed leaded to the dining hall before continuing. "Go get your dinner - that's a direct order." Kelvin gave a small huff before complying, being sure to blow a small puff of smoke Fahrenheit's way before he left. "Arc-Arcanine, Nine..." he barked, clearly meaning to say "We can settle this later, little bird."

Anthony let out a sigh of relief as Kelvin slipped from view. Keeping him under control was hit or miss, even when he decided to put his foot down, and being on bad terms with his heavy hitter so close to a tournament could only spell trouble. "I'm sorry about that. Stubbornness is his hobby." He motioned to follow, a pang of hunger having worked its way into his stomach as well. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow. You know, if I don't get knocked out in the first round or something..."

=HARLEY=

Both Harley and Fahrenheit stared blandly at the Arcanine as it snarled, and the Combusken merely shrugged. As far as Fahrenheit was concerned, he couldn't fight there, and words were next to meaningless unless you could back them up with a fight. So he merely shrugged derisively, making it clear that Kelvin didn't so much as faze him.

Celsius, on the other hand, bristled and stepped up, though she didn't say anything either.

When Anthony introduced himself, she nodded, and had to chuckle as he ordered the Arcanine to back off, then get its food. As it called back, Celsius felt that she had enough having the leader of Harley's team, and the currently reluctant recipient of her affections, be taunted like that.

"Snea-Snea Sneasel, Snea-Snea!", she called over angrily, which translated into: "We'll kick your ass, little bitch!".

Harley merely chuckled at the little exchange, though while she didn't know exactly what they meant, Fahrenheit did, as well as the rest of her team. Oracle seemed mildly amused as she swayed from side to side, while Godmother let out a soft, laughing squawk. The Fire Chicken, on the other hand, felt a mixture of irritation as well as pride: It was irritating that Celsius, who seemed hell-bent on being 'involved' with him, was once again speaking out. At the same time, he felt a surge of pride in the fact that she had such confidence. So, he let it slide.

I'm sorry about that. Stubbornness is his hobby. I guess I'll see you tomorrow. You know, if I don't get knocked out in the first round or something...".

Harley just shrugged and waved vaguely after him. "Sure. Good luck and all that.", she said, before looking at her Pokemon.

"Lets get some rest. Tomorrow is bound to be a big day, and I want us all rested and relaxed before the Tournament starts. Meaning, we sleep in and lounge around for a bit before it starts. No overexerting ourselves.", she said, smiling at them before leading the way back to her room.

"Unless you have any other questions, I think that's about everything."

"No thank you." Mel replied and went on her way. Casper returned the smile to the employee and gave him a goofy grin. The Haunter's mood perked right with his Trainer now officially registered in the tournament. Meanwhile, Mel wondered about those who hadn't even bother to register at all, but still wanted to enter into the competition. Yeah, there would probably be rush of entries tomorrow from those lazy people... Wait. Couldn't she had just registered via PC? Was Casper that desperate? Mel often thought she knew what was going through the Haunter's head, but now she was at a loss. She turned to face Casper and demanded an explanation, "Why did you drag me out here when we could've used a PC to register?"

Casper shrugged, "Haunter, 'aunter."

"Hmmph." Was all Mel had to say to that. So the Gas Pokémon just wanted her to check out the competition? Well, all she did was stand in line for a few minutes or so. The other trainers just seemed like the normal, everyday sort. Not much could be glimpsed from their choice of clothes, hairstyle or other aspects or their appearance. Not to mention that Mel wasn't particularly the competitive type or the sort who would do such things. Casper sighed, which caused Mel to elaborate her response while the pair walked back to the hotel, "If you want to win that much, then just give it your all on the day, okay? Knowing what sort of people and Pokémon we may be up against is all and good, but we don't know what sort of moves or strategies they have."

"Haunter." Casper reluctantly agreed.

The pair made it back to the Sleeping Sunkern and immediately went to their room to rest, or at least Mel dragged Casper to the room. Tomorrow would be a big day, one Mel had to admit she was looking forward to.

"Look, if it was any other day, I'd probably just kick you out of here. But, you're in luck. Did you see that guy in the dining room? All dressed up, glasses, had a Magneton? I'm pretty sure he's got an extra room or two, and if you ask him nicely, he might loan you one. Alright?"

Ty's face went under a few quick emotions: surprise, happiness, and suddenly shame, before wiping clean again. "Th-thank you." He made a small, sort of stumbling but thankful nod of his head, turning away quickly and hoping she wouldn't notice the color in his cheeks. Of course, this lead him to walk directly into who he was looking for, almost literally. "Ah, excuse me. I--" his jaw dropped and whatever color was in his cheeks grew. "O-oh. You're..." The Swinub looked between the two trainers, reading the mood. He rubbed against his trainer supportively. "I uh... was actually looking for you. I heard..." a particularly uninteresting and especially unoccupied part of the room suddenly seemed to take up all of his attention. "I was wondering if you still had any of those extra room keys..." He considered trying to manage to look the other in the face, but figured he'd explode on the spot.

In a quiet room at the back of the Sleeping Sunkern, a Nidorina was wrapped snugly in the sheets of a queen-sized bed, its contented snores the only sound. And in the corner, huddled beneath a sink, Simon laid on his side, staring into the darkness.

"...I miss mattresses."

Seemingly satisfied with her pleasant wishes, Harley left Alisia with her Vulpix as she herself chose to retire to her room for the night. Kumi, whose condition had now drastically improved since being treated with the Super Potion, looked up at Alisia slowly, with a look that seemed to seek some form of approval from her trainer, whilst simultaneously being ashamed of her performance.

"Pix...?"

Alisia gave the small fox a pat on the head."You did good Kumi" she said as she stroked her Pokemon's fur. "You've just got to train harder okay? Our regime has been thrown off recently, but there should be no excuses for when we're in the tournament"

"Vul-pix!" she chirped in agreement, although the prospect of further training after such a close shave hardly served to inspire her confidence. Alisia meanwhile began to immediately draw up training regiments in her head. Utilizing the Inn's facilities she now had at her disposal, Alisia wagered that her teammates could improve train hard enough to offset the last few days of inactivity.

That's if she could get Sprig to comply...

As if on cue the boisterous Grovyle burst through the basement door, drawn by the commotion generated by the battle and its aftermath. He was still gorging himself as he hurried down the stairs, his arms filled to the brim with a cornucopia of Poffins and Pokeblocks of varying shapes and colours. Upon seeing his trainer his eyes light up with delight, and filled with newfound energy he sprinted to greet her, slipping halfway down the stairs and sending food flying in every direction.

"VYYYYYLLEEEEEE!!!" he cried, his face meeting each step as he crashed down the stairs like a leaved slinky.

Alisia brought her palm up to her face, before burying her head in embarrassment of her 'partner'. How the heck was she meant to be respected after a display like that?

With a groan, Sprig rose to his feet whilst massaging the bumps on his head with his hand.
"Grovyle..." he whimpered in apology, as Alisia tried to avoid meeting his gaze.

"Charr..."

Undeterred by all the proceedings, the lone Charmander had traipsed over to congratulate Kumi. The fox-pokemon was initially shy, she wasn't used to such attention from others, however there was something reassuring about the compliment coming from a fellow fire-type.

"Kumi, come on! There's a big day ahead of us"

Any such introductions between the two would have to wait however, as Alisia ordered her team to vacate the recreation room.

"Pix.." the perky fox cried before being lead away, seeming to say to Ice "Sorry...

After the grovyle fell down the stairs in the most gratuitous manner possible, Alisia and her pokemon began to leave the room. Ice merely nodded in reply to Kumi's apology and he and Trevor watched them file out. Trevor could certainly understand the rationale behind keeping pokemon out of their balls but...he looked at the food strewn about the floor as it provided all the counterpoint he needed. Heading up to his room he decided to have dinner with his team there and then call it a night. Tomorrow...well, he'd work out what to do tomorrow when tomorrow came.

"Humph."

The fight was over quickly. Too quickly for Wash's liking. The shorter girl had taken the victory with some more of those shadowy blob attacks, hindering the captain from learning anything more about the girls' pokémon. No matter. Wash had seen enough to know that the Misdreavus and Vulpix, while no doubt competently trained, were nothing extraordinary. They weren't a problem. After all, Wash wasn't going to fight them; he was going to fight their trainers. Pokémon were just pokémon; dull beasties in need of discipline. A trainer's strength was derived from just that: the trainer himself. And it would be a cold day in Hell indeed before Wash lost to one of these girl-children.

That being said, the taller girl was definitely the bigger threat in Wash's mind. So what if the little firecracker in the tank top won? Bah! Their post-fight behavior said far more than the actual battle. The shorter one was all smiles and congratulations. Clearly she was frivolous and facetious. The taller one on the other hand, she might offer something of a challenge. The glare in Alisia's eyes that she had to mask when Harley offered her a potion did not go unnoticed by the old captain. Wash wasn't the most perceptive of men, but he recognized his own character traits in others. Takes one to know one, and all that. The girl had a vengeful streak in her. Good for her! Hostility gets things done!

Satisfied with his assessment of the two Wash turned to the door, so that he might finally find that meal he so richly deserved. He was somewhat impeded in this ambition by said door bursting open right into his sizable nose.

"VYYYYYLLEEEEEE!!!"

"Miserable molecules of mildew! AAAAHH!"

Wash clutched his nose as the Grovyle fell trough the doorway and to the ground along with a multitude of multicolored pokéblocks and poffins. That really hurt! Who was responsible for thi... oh. Judging by Alisia's facepalm the Grass-type was hers. Well. Time for a complete 180° in Wash's perception of the young woman.

"OI YOU, BLITHERING BEANSTALK! YEAH, YOU! YOU SUCK, YOUR POKÉMON SUCK AND YOU DESERVE EACH OTHER! Ow."

That was about as eloquent an insult as the captain could manage with his nose feeling like red-hot intersecting pikes were showed up each nostril. He then resolutely stomped up the stairs and entered the foyer still clutching his nose.

"Grumble... amateurs, the lot of them... girl-children with no discipline... mumble... stupid coast guard banning keelhauling... AND YOU! Get that Arcanine stowed away! The foyer was cramped enough with that lanky socialist's Tauros! Is common courtesy completely lost on you people?!"

Wash only stopped grumbling when he found his way to the dining area, and occupied his mouth with grub.

Anthony let his mind wander as he took another bite out of his sandwich. It had been a while since he'd really let himself just sit back and think, what with all the work Rowan usually had him doing and... whatever this last week had been. It was comforting, in a way, knowing that he could really think about whatever he wanted without fear he was wasting time or doing something inane. After a few minutes of idly wondering about the sights he'd seen around Goldenrod, his mind eventually settled on his dinner. The meal the hotel served was simple but sufficient assortment of breads and lunch meats, arrayed in such a way as to make the construction of a sandwich easy. He'd definitely had worse meals in his time, especially considering how little Rowan paid his associates.

Anthony took another bite... only to nearly choke on it as a very loud, grumpy voice erupted behind him.

"AND YOU! Get that Arcanine stowed away! The foyer was cramped enough with that lanky socialist's Tauros! Is common courtesy completely lost on you people!?" Anthony hacked and coughed, trying to clear his panicking windpipe. Kelvin, for his part, barely gave the source any note, only giving a disinterested glance in its direction before continuing to eat his own dinner. Eventually, Anthony righted himself and took in a deep breath to confirm he had indeed regained control over his breathing. He gave a bewildered look in the voice's direction to see a very grumpy-looking old man piling food onto a plate and subsequently shovel it into his mouth. "Uh... excuse me?" He stammered, still trying to register what just happened.

"I was wondering if you still had any of those extra room keys..."

"Mmmm?"

Stopping, Thomas turned to face the newcomer, a fairly bashful looking trainer. Someone else looking for a room, eh? At least this one was polite enough to ask first...

"Ah," the scholar replied, rummaging around in his pockets, "I believe I have a spare left, yes. Just give me a... There we are."

Managing to extract the key with only a minimal amount of effort and checking to make sure that it was indeed an empty room, Thomas tossed it towards the young man. It occurred to him that, what with all the rooms he was loaning out to people, he would probably be justified in asking a favor or two of them... But that wouldn't exactly be polite. Nor would it really accomplish anything significant.

Shaking his head to clear away that particular train of thought, Thomas looked back ahead and noted that the rest of his party had apparently already made their way into the basement. Mmmmmm. He could probably still catch up if he hurried, but he'd likely already missed a good portion of the battle; no doubt everybody would be dispersing soon enough.

With a slightly rueful sigh, the man turned around to face his Pokemon.

"Bzzzz zzzzzt," Faraday buzzed, gesturing with one of its "wings" towards the basement stairs. "Brrrk bzzt."

"Yes, I'm aware," Thomas replied, holding up an open palm to placate the Electric-type. "I'm sorry about the distraction, but I doubt there's much of a point in going after them now, yes?"

"Tzz, tkkkk... Bzzt, brrrrrk." The Magneton rose up a few inches, stayed there for an instant, and then fell back to its original height. Its trainer chuckled lightly in response.

"Good, good. A shame, yes, but tomorrow'll come soon enough." A slight smile danced across Thomas' face for a moment, but faded away soon enough. "Very well, is it time to call it a night?"

"Tkk."

"Alright, come on then." Pulling out a Pokeball, Thomas retrieved Faraday, reducing his companion to a sphere of red light with a simple tap. After shrinking and stowing the ball away, he gave one last, polite nod to the shy trainer and the young woman working behind the desk. Then, without further ado, he set out for his room.

Tomorrow would certainly be a busy day, after all. No sense in not being well-rested for it.

Ty stared after the young man in shock. He just... gave him the key? Like it was nothing. As if it wasn't surprise and even expected. Without another word, he'd just walked away, not waiting for so much as a "your welcome." Not that Ty's mouth was in any position to deliver, open as it was. It took him a few moments to recover well enough to speak again. "Well... I guess that's that, Colossus. That wasn't... so bad." His face still burned. Him, begging. Everyone back at home would be roaring with laughter if they'd seen it. He was glad they would never hear of this. With the new key in hand, he found his room, settled in, and drifted off to sleep, still too embarrassed to show his face for food.

Even as night fell, Goldenrod City stayed awake. Oh sure, its streets and venues were drastically less crowded, and many of its businesses had their doors shut and tightly locked, but life still pulsed throughout the metropolis. Groups of people and Pokemon still roamed about, either enjoying the city's nightlife or working graveyard shifts. Neon and fluorescent lights still bathed the streets with their artificial glow, all but drowning out the stars overhead. Scents of fried food and car exhaust still filtered through Goldenrod's roads and alleys, accompanied by (only somewhat subdued) shouts and conversations.

Goldenrod, as close to sleep as it was ever going to get, was still packed full of boundless energy and movement. Perhaps even more so than usual, considering what was about to go down tomorrow. One could almost feel the excited tension in the air, the tightening of nerves as countless people eagerly anticipated the swiftly approaching tournament.

Sure enough, even when the moon began to sink back towards the horizon, Goldenrod was still quite awake. In fact, as the silver sphere slowly disappeared, the metropolis steadily rose from its state of half-slumber. By the time the sun was making its daily ascent, last-minute preparations for the tournament were already well underway. And things would only get more hectic as people finally began to rush into the stadium, nearly filling the Pokeathalon Dome to overflowing.


Inside the grand structure, so tightly packed with hordes of onlookers of both the human and Pokemon variety, one could barely take two steps without bumping into somebody else. The ambient noise, generated by thousands upon thousands of overlapping conversations, was almost enough to deafen someone. The smell of sweat and various confections, especially popcorn and hot dogs, of course, flooded the arena as the crowds eagerly waited for the event to begin.

Even when the PA system finally screeched to life, the crowd still didn't fully die down, though they still quieted by the tiniest degree.

"Hmm! I suppose a proper opening ceremony simply isn't complete without an opening speech to match! Salutations, everyone! My name is Calvin Jean Blanc--but I do not need any introduction, do I?"

As the commentator spoke, an almost physical cheer, a sheer wall of sound, rose up the crowd. Though nearly every member of the audience was participating in the shout, it was impossible not to notice that the female spectators, likely in response to the announcer's voice, were really giving it their all.

"Hoho," the announcer, Calvin, continued, "I thought not! I say again, salutations! I'm here with with wonderful co-hosts! Please, I beg, give a warm welcome to our humble ceremony, all the way from Mauville City, our esteemed veteran, that cheerfully electric man, Wattson!"

A new voice crackled to life, noticeably more robust and just as cheerful as Calvin's. "Ho ho ho, let me tell you, Calvin, it's brilliant being here in Goldenrod City! Ha, just look at that crowd out there; hello everyone! I hope that you all won't mind me talking in you ears for the next few hours; I plan on enjoying myself, after all!"

Calvin's voice crackled back to life, eliciting another shriek of admiration from the female half of the audience. "Yes, thank you, Wattson! And of course, no contest of Pokemon is complete without Goldenrod's very own Gym Leader. Please put your hands together for the prettiest woman in Goldenrod, Whitney!"

Another voice, familiar to anyone who'd been in Goldenrod for more than a few days, sparked to life, full of boundless vigor and cheer. "Hey there, Goldenrod! It's good to see that so many of my fans were able to turn out for the tournament today. Let's make sure to make this a day to remember, okay!?"

For a third time, a rousing shout rose up from the audience, this one equally comprised of both genders. Also for the third time, Calvin's voice blared out over the stadium: "Are you as excited, no, ecstatic as I am for this titanic clash of trainers, ladies and gentlemen? That's what I thought! We've all come from across the globe on a pilgrimage to watch the up-and-coming trainers of our generation, my dear audience! The amateurs, the rising stars, the aces! Young and old, they've all come to set their very souls alight in a contest of trainer and Pokemon alike, vying for that coveted grand prize! Oh, my heart's already roaring like a jet engine, I can barely stand to wait! To have come so far for such a contest of wills, you're all winners in my book! Ohoho, it's true! But alas--I'm only one judge, and we only have one grand prize to give!

"So I lay this challenge out to you, trainers! Step onto the field and fight with all the fire in your hearts! And today, we will have the honor of deciding who among you has earned the right to be called a true Champion! Do you hear that, trainers?! That's the sound of a roaring crowd, clapping and cheering for you! So, let me delay no further! The day has begun, the matches shall commence! Let... the games... BEGIN!"

One last deafening shout of excitement and anticipation filled the air, sending an overpowering spark sliding down everybody's spines.

Things were about to get crazy.


First Set:
...
Field 2: Kayla Denit vs Victor Matou
Field 3: Grace Aldritch vs Melpomene Mallory
...
Field 6: Simon Wayne vs Jenny Stewert

Second Set:
Field 1: Harley Edwards vs Riley Stanfield
...
Field 3: Trevor Boles vs Tyler Bradshaw
...
Field 5: Marie Nanba vs Alisia Hunt
Field 6: Herman Wash vs Anthony Morris

Wee hours of the morning, at the Sleeping Sunkern:

*clunk*

*clunk*

*clunk*

"Shellll..."

Shellder stopped to take a break on the 14th step of the stairs. Phew. This was hard work. Wasn't made any easier by being effectively blinded. The Water-type had her shell closed tightly, so that she didn't lose her grip on the electric cord. Unfortunately, this meant that she couldn't really see anything. Oh well. Shellder was sure that she could find her way back to their room. It was very important. Spheal was having his bath right now, and she couldn't miss her window of opportunity. Back to work.

"Shelll... der!"

*clunk*

As the Shellder wriggled its way onto the next step, the cord clamped in its shell was dragging the attached toaster along with it. Shellder had stolen this toaster from the inn's kitchen, and she was planning to drop said toaster into the bathtub. That was sure to take care of Spheal. Shellder had seen it in a movie. Once that presky seel was gone, Wash would only have eyes for her. Shellder was sure of it. She would once again be the only Water-type on the team.

Well, there was still that little Horsea. But she wasn't a threat. And should she ever become one Shellder would take care of her too. Shellder imagined Wash's proud face as she won the tournament for him, all on her own. It was good that no one could see her rosy cheeks, hidden as she was in her shell.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Meanwhile, at the nearest park:

Rhyhorn and Wash had just felled a tree.

"Alright, you bovine bully. Eat your fill. And be quick about it."

Rhyhorn hurriedly started slowly munching down leaves and branches, while Wash kept lookout for any park attendants. This probably wasn't strictly legal, but how was a man supposed to feed his tonne heavy, armor plated, living tank? This was a public park! Wash paid his taxes! He was exercising his rights! Well, he paid his taxes to Hoenn, not Johto, but still.

"You better give me a solid performance today for this, you hear me?"

The Rhyhorn did not. With its one-track mind it was focusing fully on methodically stripping the downed tree for all the foliage it had. Rhyhorn wasn't usually allowed this extravagant a meal; usually he just ate whatever grass his trainer directed him to eat. Today however, Wash wanted his star-player in perfect condition for the tournament, so when Rhyhorn had looked longingly at the vibrant green leaves of the park's trees, the captain had allowed him to ram one down.

In Rhyhorn's mind, it was pretty idyllic really. The morning sun, the scent of grass, a great meal, and Wash grumbling about the happy couples out for a walk who stopped to stare.

"P*SS OFF, you googly-eyed inamoratas!"

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

In the not-so-wee hours of the morning, at the Sleeping Sunkern:

It turned out that toasters needed to be plugged in before being dropped into filled bathtubs. If not, they were quite poor murder weapons. Shellder was not aware of this. As it was she was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, staring desperately at the sunken toaster, beseeching it to do something more than just a not-terribly-impressive splash. Spheal, on the other hand, was just floating around wondering what was going on. Then the toast floated to the surface.

"Shelll?!"

"Spheal?"

Spheal's face split into an enormous smile. So that's what was going on! How kindly of his good friend and teammate to bring him breakfast in the tub! Spheal grabbed both slices of burnt, and now very wet, toast up with his flippers, and of course offered one to his fellow Water-type. Silly Shellder. She wasn't too dextrous with that tongue being her only limb. And yet she had gone out of her way to surprise him like this. It really was very nice of her.

Spheal was overjoyed. Shellder felt like crying.

Earlier that morning...

Even amongst the tight clusters of skyscrapers that was Goldenrod City, little rays of sunshine managed to peek through. And right now, a ray was peeking into the window of a room in the Sleeping Sunkern. This ray, some would suggest, was directed by divine forces. Surely there was no other way that such a little dappling of sun could slink into the dark room, and manage to land only upon the closed eye of a man huddled under a sink in the back corner. A pillow, craftily stolen in the night for a bit of feathery refuge, was launched into the window to plug up the intruding daylight.

"The sign says 'DO NOT DISTURB'!!'"

"Hup!"

Simon flipped his body up and onto his rear, legs tucked in front of him as he let out a tremendous yawn. "Oh, criminy! I didn't think--'scuse me a sec--"

KKRAAAAKK. KKRAAK. KRAAAAAAAAKK.

He interrupted himself long enough to viciously crack his neck, his shoulders, and a few toes before stretching out in a fresh wave of relief. "Oh-ho, man! That's better. I didn't think sink-centric sleep habits would give me such a crick in the morning." He rose to his feet as he scratched a few wayward itches around his body before dragging his lazy feet to the door, where a light switch awaited. Unnatural, yellow light flooded the room. Simon moaned in contentment and nodded. This was much easier on the eyes than that blasted sun. A hand idly rested on his hip as he observed his room for various means to prepare for the day with. The most notable thing was that a certain Nidorina was no longer sleeping on his bed. Well, that was nice, he guessed. She must have stuck herself back in her Pokeball when she was done with her nap. He ran a suave caress across the rented bed's quivering sheets.

"Fear not, my love. We shall be together... someday."

But not today. Today he had a tournament to enter, and money to probably not win. He fetched his bag and fished out a change of clothes for the tournament--that is to say a three-piece suit.

One quick change later, and... voila. A semi-presentable gentleman. He stood in front of the mirror above his bed--wait, he meant sink. Above his sink. He stood there, in his usual hunch, scratching his neck as he tried to find a pose that looked badass that didn't involve humanlike posture. He settled on a sort of reverse slouch that involved his torso leaning back from his legs. Yeah, yeah, that looked pretty apathetic. Apathetic was cool, right? Simon thought so. He completed his ensemble with a complementing fedora hat, an orange scarf, a peacoat and his Pokeball belt. As he admired himself in the mirror, he tried not to ask the question of how all this fit in his traveling bag. All in all, he looked about a million bucks richer than he was. Patting his team's containers, he grinned into the mirror as he said, "You know guys, today might actually go pretty great!"


"Oh my god this blows so hard."

The roar of the cheering crowds had deafened the whole stadium. Simon had his head wrapped in his scarf, trying not to let himself be seen as the entire Pokeathlon Dome rumbled with fans crying out for the idol by the name of Calvin Jean Blanc. The only ones that didn't seem to be completely losing themselves in the noise were his fellow patrons from the Sleeping Sunkern, who were scattered close to him in his section of the stands. Wayne had stuck his fingers in both ears and was trying very hard to sing over the sound of that blasted Kalosian's verbal sewage.

"Crap, how can anybody stand this guy?" he groaned to nobody in particular. "He's got the ego of a Wailord and the aura of a damned Jynx..."

Poke. Poke.

"Tini?.."

"Er, what?" Simon looked at his Dratini, baffled, until Rankine pointed him over to the brackets. It appeared that he was up for his first match. His fingers dropped out of his ears as he quietly stared at the words for a minute. "...Huh. Guess I should get down there then."

He abruptly stood, Rankine wrapped around his shoulder as he scooted down the aisles, waving to the other patrons. "Hey, wish me luck down there, everybody that I barely talked to!"


Several moments later Simon stood on Field 6, all gussied up in his suit and ready for a battle. He idly tossed a Pokeball up and down in one hand as he glanced about the field in search of his opponent.

"All right! I'm here, so I won't tolerate being kept waiting, ya hear me?! Come on out, Jimmy Stewart! You and your heartfelt portrayal of the downtrodden working-class man are no match for a trainer of my caliber!"

The atmosphere in the the dome was seriously intense. Trevor had never been live at something like this let alone competed. As his excitement grew something else began to gnaw away at him, something he'd never really felt, not like this. Nerves. He'd be battling in front of all these people? How many were there? Too many to count. Plus, all the people watching on TV. Hell, people he knew might even see him! Not his parents though, not that he really cared what they did. "That's not important right now, concentrate."

He had his pokemon all stored away in their balls. No need to give away any information the competition might find helpful. He'd given them the pep talk earlier but he wasn't too sure it had stuck. Jagg was too excited to stay still let alone pay attention to him, Sickle simply stared with an unimpressed look on her face and Ice hadn't looked like he was even listening. Then again, he always looked like that. Trevor let out a small sigh. "I'm going to be crushed aren't I? No, I can't afford to think like that. They're going to be relying on me out there and I'm sure they'll give it their all. I can do this." He mustered all the resolution he had and held it. For a few seconds, anyway. Then it left. Fast. "Or, y'know, I can't. Whatever. I guess we'll see, wont we?" His excitement dulled as he went through these thoughts and his nerves died down too. "Good, now I can think straight."

He checked the bracket and searched for his name. It seemed he wouldn't be up till the second set meaning he could watch the first comfortably. He was matched up with..."Tyler Bradshaw...not ringing any bells. He's probably just some beginner like me. Hopefully he's not very good, getting knocked out first round is the worst." Scanning through the rest of the roster he looked for any names that he recognized. None in the first set. Well, except...did he say his name was...?

"Hey, wish me luck down there, everybody that I barely talked to!"

Yeah, his name was Simon. As he rushed past Trevor noted his attire, particularly the fact that it looked really weird. Suffice it to say the man was unable to pull off the three piece suit with fedora and orange scarf, partially thanks to a terrible posture (is he leaning backwards? How does that even work?) but also because of his untidy appearance, especially the stubble. All in all, he stuck out like a sore thumb and Trevor felt disconcerted just from looking at him. "It takes all sorts, I guess."

He decided he'd keep an eye on Simon's match if only because he was unable to put Simon out of his head. Leaning back on his seat he casually glanced around for anybody he recognized. Maybe he could find someone to chat with?

=HARLEY=

That Morning

The following morning Harley, and by extension her Pokemon, woke late, refreshed and relaxed, and she had every intention of continuing to relax right up until her match a little later that day. As she sat up in her bed, she yawned widely before glancing at the half-asleep Pokemon gathered around her started to stir.

"Alright, time to get up. Need everyone awake for the big day, c'mon.", she drawled sleepily while clapping her hands to help wake them a little faster.

While each one slowly made their way off the bed for their various morning routines, Harley did the same, throwing off the covers and swinging her legs over the side. She made her way to the small adjoining bathroom with another yawn, and within half an hour came back out in a fresh Team Rocket outfit. Stretching with a groan, she cracked her neck and back in a few places before finally sighing contentedly and looking at her Pokemon.

"So, are we ready to kick some in the name of 'truth and love'?", she asked them with a grin.

They all replied in unison, with varying amounts of enthusiasm, but she was satisfied that they had gotten their rest, same as her. She grabbed her team's Pokeballs and with a trio of flashing red lights, safely tucked all but Fahrenheit away in them, then she motioned for him to follow her out. She only stopped for a moment before leaving the Sleeping Sunkern, and decided to take the small tourists map of Goldenrod, since while she had a map of the region, it didn't do jack shit to tell her where she was in the city.

The Rocket Girl consulted it immediately after exiting, while her constant companion simply glanced at it, then pointed in the right direction and squawked.


Twenty Minutes Before The Tournament

As it turned out, she got there relatively early, since while it was already being filled to bursting she had some time before any of the matches were going to start, so she could sneak off and enact her plan for whenever it was time for her first round to come up. Before she finally went to sleep the night before, she had decided that, if at all possible, she'd find a way to the lighting and sound department and either persuade or bribe a tech there to do something rather special for her slot.

Taking a quick glance at the matches that had been set up for that day on the large screen overlooking the entrances of the dome, she realized that her match was in the second block of the day on Field 1, against some chump named Reily Stanfield. With a wicked grin, she made her way through the crowd, and found herself at a clearly labeled door, leading just where she wanted to go.

She stepped inside confidently, and smiled at the first technician she saw.

"Hi there! My name's Harley, and I'm one of the trainers battling today. I was just wondering if we could do something to, say... Spice up the beginning of my match a little, really give the spectators a show.", she said smoothly even as Fahrenheit seemed to sigh wryly behind her.


Just Before First Matches

Persuading the tech crew took a little doing, but thankfully she was lucky that she managed to make them see that, really, it would make a great show, so she didn't have to bribe them. So, once her match began, the crowds were going to get a surprise.

She chuckled smugly to herself as she made her way through sitting area where the other trainers waited for their next match, and spotted a familiar face among them. She couldn't help the wicked grin as she sat next to him.

"Well, well, well, fancy meeting you here. Trevor, right? From the Sleeping Sunkern. Gotta match not too long from now. Nervous?", she asked, leaning back and pulling Fahrenheit up into her lap.

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