Categories > Anime/Manga > Pokemon > Hero of Unova

Chapter 3

by shoyou100 0 reviews

Disclaimer: I do not own Hilda, Volkner, Bianca, Cheren, or Candice. Reminder: This is rated T — M

Category: Pokemon - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2012-01-24 - Updated: 2012-01-25 - 8723 words

Chapter 3

—One Hour Earlier…Cheren and Bianca—

The first thing he felt when he woke up was a dull pain in his side.

Cheren gingerly reached down to touch his ribs only to realize he had been bandaged and his coat was gone. He opened his eyes to stare up at a grey ceiling. Where were his glasses? He made as if to get up only to lay back down because of a sharp pain from his injury.

He heard the voice of an old woman. "Stay still, child. Your wounds are not light."

"Bianca," he managed to croak out. "Where is she?

"If you mean the girl, she's lying beside you and still asleep. You woke up faster than any of us expected."

"Us?" Cheren blinked several times. "You mean there are more of you here? Where are we?"

A hand came down to touch his forehead, though it did not feel like that of an old woman's.

Another voice spoke up. This one sounded like the owner of the hand, a female. "You were brought here to Snowpoint Temple by its guardian, Regigigas. Both of you were very lucky you didn't suffer any more damage before he got there. Your friend, however, has a fever right now and-Don't move so much! Your ribs!"

Cheren willed himself to sit up, despite the raging pain. "Where are my glasses?" He demanded.

"I'm afraid you weren't wearing any when we-" Cheren saw Bianca's brightly dressed form beside him and moved to her side as quickly as he could. "What are you doing!"

"Shut up!" The murmurs that had been going on around him stopped abruptly. "What's wrong with her? I can't see."

Cheren wanted to pound the ground in frustration. She had practically presented herself to be killed right in front of his eyes, all while he had been cowering behind her like some child!

"Things weren't supposed to happen this way. Bianca, wake up!" He reached down to touch her forehead, her cheeks and neck. They were all dangerously warm.

"Boy," Cheren heard the rough voice of an old man. "If you really want to know what her current condition is, how about you listen a bit instead of insulting a number of your elders?"

He was about to argue back when a hand rapped him on the arm, silencing him.

"Her fever is high enough to be a danger to her. That is the reality," The old man paused to see if the boy was going to make any more sudden moves. "She may have a slight concussion due to the wound on her head. It's swollen, but no blood."

Cheren listened quietly, then sighed and apologized. "Please forgive me for my earlier behavior. I was worried about my friend. So please…someone pass me our coats."

There was a bit of shuffling and Cheren reached out a hand to grab on to what felt like a blanket instead. Surprised, he fingered the material. Then, without a word, he began undressing; first, taking off his shirt, then jeans so that he was left in nothing but boxers.

People murmured from all around him. Let them watch. Their whispers would not shame him.

After slipping off his shoes, he hovered over Bianca's unconscious form and started undressing her as well.

He heard a voice whisper, "Don't look."

After he had her dressed down until she was in nothing but her undergarments, he lay down beside her, shivering slightly when his bare skin made contact with the cold floor.

"I love you too." He whispered the words over and over like a mantra as he held Bianca close to him and pulled the blanket over their bodies. "I love you so you can't leave me behind."

A small group of the city's inhabitants watched the young couple silently, no one moving a muscle, as they were all in awe of the scene before them.

"Now that's sacrifice for you." Grunted the old man who had spoken earlier. He was quickly shushed by those around him.

"Shh!" scolded the only little boy amongst the people watching. "They're sleeping!"

—Snowpoint Temple, Current Time, Hilda—

She hid her uncertainty well.

The further Hilda had walked into the temple, the greater the voice in the back of her head told her something was very wrong. Hilda wanted to stamp her foot in frustration. Where was the confidence a hero should have? Did she even deserve to be called one if she couldn't trust in her own Pokemon?

She followed the colossal Pokemon down a flight of stairs to the lower levels of the temple.

Hilda was overwhelmed at the sight before her. There were at least half the city's inhabitants down here! She could see several groups of people huddled here and there tending to the wounded.

A few people turned their heads to look at her and Volkner. One of them, an old woman, shuffled forward without a word. Then she spoke.

"Your friends are over there." And Hilda followed the woman's finger to a corner where Cheren and Bianca were lying in plain view. "They were having trouble earlier, but now they are going to be fine. The boy took away the girl's fever himself, you know?"

Hilda found she had no words to say. She could only watch her friends from a distance, almost afraid to approach them. Was it really alright to continue calling Cheren a boy? She saw how he held Bianca so possessively, as if she might leave if he let go.

She knew then that they had something unbreakable between them, something even she as a friend could not interfere with. And she was suddenly feeling jealous for a reason she didn't want to understand.

If things had happened differently at N's castle, would he have...?

"Hilda," Volkner's voice startled her out of her thoughts. She turned her head to see him watching her. "Aren't you going to go see your friends?"

Was she that obvious? "Right." Hilda scolded herself mentally for such a moment of stupidity. Jealous! Of her friends even! In a partial daze of emotions, Hilda told him, "You can go check on Candice." Then she left Volkner's side to approach the sleeping forms of Cheren and Bianca.

Hilda knelt down beside her unconscious friends.

"Look at how much he loves you, Bianca." she murmured. "You're a lucky girl to have someone like that." Hilda paused to consider her next words. "And...sometimes..."

She thought of the possibilities that could've happened if only things had been different back then. It wouldn't be hard at all to label the past two years as embodiments of 'what-ifs' and 'just maybes'. It wouldn't be hard to say she had more regrets than she cared to admit. So she tried to say it. Admit it.

"Sometimes I wish that N-"

"Someone help me over here!" A woman's voice called out, penetrating Hilda's concentration. The urgency in the woman's voice, however, caused Hilda to stand up and look in her direction. "Chansey doesn't have enough strength to heal this Pokemon! It's too big in size!"

Her eyes immediately focused in on a familiar black body lying in another corner of the temple. Suddenly, it was like plastic had been stretched and pulled over her eyes and mouth and ears so that everything seemed to blur and muffle at the same time. Her mouth opened, then closed, as she tried to find the words that could express the deep despair that was rapidly filling her heart.

Then finally, "Zekrom...!" Her partner's name came rolling in a single cry out of her throat and it propelled her to run so swiftly in Zekrom's direction that she nearly pushed a man over in her fervor.

The crowd of people watching the Pokemon parted to allow her through. There, Hilda found the woman, who turned to reveal herself as, most likely, a cousin of the many Nurse Joys in Unova.

"What's-?" Hilda's had mouth opened to ask about Zekrom's condition when she forced herself to look at him, opting instead to figure it out herself.

There was her partner, a Deep Black Pokemon and magnificent in his own right. His tail, which was usually humming with contained electricity, lay limp and lifeless beside him. Numerous gashes covered his body, even though Hilda had always thought his scales had been impenetrable. Her partner, her precious partner. What in the world had Ghetsis done to him?

The nurses's voice barely permeated her blurred mind. "...bleeding so much. We tried... bandages... struggling." Then Hilda somehow managed to fully comprehend the nurse's last sentence. "Chansey is keeping the blood flow at bay, but she can't keep it up much longer."

Hilda decided something then and there. She waved the nurse away, along with her Chansey.

Then she knelt down beside her partner. "I'm here now, Zekrom. I know you're in there somewhere." She touched his snout gently. "It hurts to see you like this, you know that? I don't feel like a hero at all when you get hurt."

Surprisingly, Hilda did not feel like crying. The state of her partner should've induced wild, uncontrollable tears from her, but she felt stable.

Perhaps it was because of the insane theory that she had just resolved to believe in. If she could send emotions and thoughts to Zekrom, who said she couldn't send him her life as well?

Then Hilda felt a hand on her shoulder and the voice of the same old woman, who had talked to her earlier, spoke.

"Regigigas is coming over to see you. Perhaps he has a few words of wisdom."

Hilda looked up to see that the colossal Pokemon was truly heading her way. When it came close enough, Hilda asked, in a wavering voice, "So your name is Regigigas? Please...tell me what to do."

When the Pokemon made no sign of responding, Hilda grit her teeth. Then she noticed how close the crowd was huddling around her.

"Get back," she warned them. When only the old woman moved, she stood up suddenly, grabbing her coat in the same action, and threw it down at her feet.

The people immediately backed away.

"Oh my!" gasped one of the spectators at the sight of the girl's almost bare back. "How shameless." The voice carried loud and clear, but in this moment Hilda really didn't care. At least she no longer felt so enclosed on all sides. At least now she could feel Zekrom's presence a little more clearly.

She probed inside her heart and mind for the strongest concentration of Zekrom's presence. She sent him the uncertainty she felt in that moment, her skin cold from exposure and the feeling of a hundred eyes on her back. She refused to give him false assurances.

Then she felt another person come up close behind her and she knew who it was. She was immediately filled with a sense of safety and she sent that to Zekrom as well.

But what was she looking for, truly? Emotions and images were all she could do right now. How could she send what was neither of those things? Her vitality. Her life.

Then she heard a stony voice in her head.

Human to Pokemon. The connection will be completed with physical touch.

Hilda grabbed the last vestiges of her shirt and threw that down at her feet like she did her coat. Fine. If it was physical contact he needed, then…

The moment Hilda began taking off the last piece of clothing covering her chest, she felt two larger hands encircle both of hers.


He wasn't sure why he was doing this, but his body seemed to have come to a decision without him. There was a limit to how much a man could take watching a little girl expose her body in order to save her Pokemon. How that would work, Volkner didn't know, but he knew he couldn't just stand there and watch.

"Wait," he whispered, bowing his neck over her shoulder so only she could hear him. "I won't let these people see you like this." Then he let go of her hands to reach for a poke ball.

Luxray appeared at his side, causing all the people to step even further back. The lion growled and then the people understood. One by one, they filed away, some shocked at the girl's actions, others impressed.

Her voice was quiet when she thanked him, just a soft whisper in his ear. Then she finished slipping off her bra and let the garment fall carelessly to the ground. Even as she stood before him with her back completely bare, she seemed to forget he was there. No longer conscious of the people around her, Hilda knelt beside Zekrom's head once more and wrapped her arms around it, letting it rest on her lap.

He felt himself kneel down beside her. His eyes rested first on the ivory skin of her shoulder blades, how they flexed as her entire body suddenly tensed in anticipation of what she planned to do. Immediately, his gaze followed her prominent spine up her neck, before ending at her eyes.

The intensity in them was more electrifying than anything Volkner had seen in a long time.

Suddenly, he felt agitated. "Hilda what are you-?"

She cried out and the peal of her cry pierced Volkner's mind ruthlessly. It was like something inside him had torn in two at the sound of her agonized wail. He didn't know what was going on. He wanted to yell at her to stop. He wanted to fling his arms around her and drag her away from the Pokemon. He wanted to-

Blood flecked on to his cheek. Still warm. Where...?

Things his mind could hardly fathom were happening before his eyes. With a bone deep numbness, Volkner watched as countless lacerations appeared all over the girl's body.

Several people screamed as they looked back and saw the messy scene before them.

He understood what she was doing now. And he hated how helpless it made him! Volkner's mind raced to think of a solution. He had no healing Pokemon, no bandages to wrap her with! She was trying to heal her Pokemon's wounds by taking them on to herself. But at this rate she was going to die of blood loss!

Then colossal Pokemon's voice invaded his mind again.

The human shares the burden of her friend. The same can be done for her.

As cryptic as the Pokemon's words sounded at first, the truth of what he needed to do unraveled before him. As he began stripping off his jacket and shirt, he found his gaze focusing solely on the profusely bleeding girl before him. Yes, even if it meant taking on her pain, he would do it for her.

"You've done enough, Hilda," Her skin was cool when he gathered her compact body into his arms. He slid a hand up to her shoulder to keep her from falling over. "Now let me-"

Volkner bit off his sentence before it completely left his mouth. Shuddering, he suddenly felt what seemed like hundreds of small knives tearing into his skin. He bowed his head into the crevice of her neck, fighting to stay upright. He watched as drops of blood fell on to her pale chest.

His blood.

Everything felt raw. With each passing second, several new waves of pain would slam into him, causing him to hiss in barely contained agony. The pain, however, was only temporary. What came next astounded him beyond words.

He suddenly became aware of the girl in his arms. Without warning, his mind flooded with the presence of another conscience and he reeled and nearly let go of her.


Emotions, that weren't his, rushed into his consciousness. Fear! Whose fear was this? It was so overwhelming that Volkner almost couldn't tell the difference at first, but then the initial shock of intrusion passed and he could eventually pick out the ones that belonged to...

The girl was scared. It was just the fact that he could feel her heart hammering against his forearm, but he felt the fear building within her. Instead of letting go and demanding to know what in the world she had done to him, instincts led him to do something he wasn't supposed to do.

He tightened his hold on her, his arms pulled flush against her skin. With the increased contact, he naturally became conscious of the swell of her breast against his arm.

She reacted as well and her fear was quickly replaced by shyness and embarrassment.

"Why...?"An abrupt change in emotion, her curiosity pushed against the intangible lining in his mind that seemed to be the only thing that was separating his consciousness from hers right now.

Her question, although left unfinished, was easily filled in with his thoughts.

"What man in his right mind would leave a girl to suffer like that?" He found himself whispering back to her before his arms moved of their own accord and pulled her firmly to his chest. A chill ran through his body. "Not when it's happening like this right in front of him..." Without thinking, he began rocking her back and forth like a child.

The movement calmed her.

"I'm sorry." She whispered and he was washed with her guilt. The emotion was so strong, it nearly left a bad taste in his mouth.

"We're even now." He had to assure her. Anything. As long as she stopped making him feel this way. "Besides, it's what friends..." He stopped before he finished the sentence. His vision was starting to blur.

But he hadn't stopped only because of his fading sight. His thoughts became increasingly incoherent.

... a friend? This... girl? Only one day... took less than one day.

"Friends..." Hilda repeated his last word and Volkner knew she was also losing grip on staying conscious. "'d make a pretty good friend." Then her presence in his mind all but flickered out as she went limp in his arms. The presence in his mind was faint now, but definitely still there.

The amount of blood he had lost suddenly caught up with him and Volkner was thrown into an anticipated wave of dizziness.

The last thing he saw before losing consciousness completely was a pair of feet approaching him. They looked vaguely familiar. Where had he seen them before?

His mind was out, however, before he could answer the question.

—The Mysterious Pair of Feet—

A girl with pigtails and dressed mostly in blue stood before the two unconscious people on the floor. She was covered in bandages from head to foot. Most of her wounds had been from the broken glass windows of the gym.

"Well, well! What do we have here?" The girl giggled. "It's Volkner. And he's holding a girl! What an interesting development."

Luxray allowed her to pet him behind the ear, purring as she did. Then he lay down majestically by the heads of his unconscious trainer and the girl with the strong eyes.

"Candice, please step away. I need to apply more bandages."

Candice did as she was told, but her good humor remained nonetheless. "How long was I out, grandmama?"

"Three hours." Her grandma replied shortly.

"Ooh, no wonder I'm so sore. I've been lying down all day!" She did a few calisthenics while watching her grandmother tend to the unconscious couple. "So who's the girl? Are those her friends?" She gestured towards the other unconscious couple lying on the other side of the temple.

"We don't know, Candice. And yes, those people most likely know each other."

"Oh, that's too bad. Hey…" she skipped over to where her fainted Pokemon were being tended to by Nurse Joy. "They're looking much better now! All of them will be up and running in no time!"

"You're so energetic all the time, Candice. I don't know where you get it." Nurse Joy laughed.

"I have to be! Otherwise everything will be too gloomy!" Candice grinned widely. "Besides, we still have hope. There's Regigigas here to protect us and now there's this cool Pokemon over here!"

She pointed to where the black dragon began to stir.

"Oh, look it's waking up. I hope it isn't grouchy from sleeping for so long."

Zekrom growled as he got up and stretched his wings. He remembered hearing his partner's voice and then the haze around his mind gradually disappeared before it was gone completely. He had been filled with the vitality of one…no, two people. Then he looked down and saw the woman bandaging his partner up, along with another person.

The old woman was startled when a shadow loomed over her and she looked up to see the dragon bending over to observe her handiwork.

"Your trainer lost a little blood, but she should be fine."

Zekrom noticed that his partner was getting fewer bandages than the man beside her and was reassured. She would live.

"Hey there! My name's Candice! It's nice to meet a strong Pokemon like you." Candice put one hand out in greeting.

Zekrom gazed at her, and then blinked once, which caused the girl to smile big.

What a strange human. But she was an interesting one nonetheless.

—Dreaming, Hilda—

This was not her dream.

She was standing at the edge of a beach, light waves lapping at her feet. Her shoes were gone.

Where was she? Behind her, when she looked, stood a small port city. It wasn't anything special, just a few buildings. The city itself was built on a small strip of land looming higher over the beach. She spied a tiny gym peeking out over one of the larger cliffs.

"What are you doing here?" It was the voice of a child.

Hilda whipped her head around to see a blonde boy standing beside her. The boy's hair was familiar, but that wasn't what surprised her. Instead, it was the fact that she didn't have to tilt her head down in order to look at him.

"Why am I a kid again?" She looked down at her hands and feet and saw that they looked the same as when she was still in school. Maybe close to ten years old.

"Because this is my dream and my city," he gestured toward the buildings behind him. "That is, before I helped install a few solar panels and other things."

"I wonder what it looks like now." Thoroughly impressed, Hilda voiced her thoughts.

"Who are you?" The boy's question startled her.

"You don't remember my name?" She asked incredulously. "But we just met a while ago!"

The boy shook his head. "No, I mean, who are you? You still haven't shown me that part of you yet so I still don't know you."

"I haven't shown you?" Hilda shook her head as well. "I don't know what you're talking about. I'm the hero of Unova! I mean…" Her words suddenly felt empty.

"Do you like being the hero?"

Hilda knew what her answer was. "I told Cheren that I didn't want to be called a hero…but…I just called myself one." Hilda toed the sand at her feet. "Maybe I'm starting to believe what everyone says. They tell me heroes are mature and smart. They tell me I'm like an adult already even though I'm not."

"Who are they?"

"Almost everyone in Unova," Hilda admitted. "And sometimes, even my friends."

"What's wrong with being an adult?" Hilda looked up to meet the boy's deep gaze. "I was an adult when I built the panels needed to keep my city alive. And while there are many responsibilities that come with being an adult, there are also many freedoms." As he spoke, the boy began to grow and his voice matured.

"Your insecurity stems from something other than the fear of simply growing up. There's something else holding you back, but you still haven't shown me what it is so I wouldn't know." He was the Volkner she knew, a sturdy young man the age of twenty-four.

"Tell me, Hilda." He was tilting his head down to look at her now. "What are you really trying to do?"

Hilda looked back at him, her eyes suddenly large. "I…I'm…" She suddenly saw a memory of green hair and vacant eyes and her heart hardened.

She lowered her eyes and Hilda began toeing the sand again with her foot.

"I'm sorry," she said with no apology in her voice. "But I can't tell you just yet." She looked up to see he had an unreadable look on his face.

"Fine." The tone in his voice caused her heart to waver ever so slightly. "I'll wait until you're ready. On the other side of this dream." He turned and began walking away. Then he called to her over his shoulder. "You will be able to enter this city's future once you find what you're looking for. Until then, you will only see its past." Then his body became more and more out of focus until, finally, he was gone.

Hilda was alone on the beach. The waves lapped at her feet with an empty rhythm and she wondered if she'd done the right thing.

But the memory of N was just too strong. If she grew up now, it would forever remind her of what she had left unfinished.

—Dreaming, Volkner—

Hilda had been in his dream. What was she doing there?

He stood on the beach of the present-day Sunyshore City, solar panels forming walkways between the buildings. Even in sleep, he still dreamed of this city.

He had been close. Just a few more words and Hilda would've been able to come with him to this part of his dream. But to what end?

Volkner looked back toward the vast city he'd helped to grow. Despite the bright sun in the sky and the solar panels gleaming with its rays, the city had no electricity. Once, the city in his dreams was well-lit and powered. But, in recent years, the lights had dimmed.

"What will happen once they turn back on?" He murmured. Perhaps he himself wasn't ready for Hilda to grow up.

It was because he knew that once she did, everything would change.

—The Next Morning—

Bianca had the biggest headache in the world. Was it even possible to have such a terrible pain in her head? It was like she'd split it open.

"Ow…" She tried to move, but she was being held in place. Then she realized something was missing. "My clothes!" They were gone! And so were Cheren's… How did she-?

Cheren groaned and tightened his hold on Bianca. When he heard her squeak, he opened his eyes groggily. "You feeling better?" He asked sleepily.

"Cheren…did you do this to me?" Bianca knew her face was probably tomato red by now. "Wh…why?"

"You had a pretty bad fever." Cheren repositioned her so that his chin was touching the top of her head. "And you hit your head so it's logical to assume I was very worried."

"Oh…" Bianca found that she rather liked being in Cheren's arms like this. "Thank you."

"I love you, Bianca." Cheren felt her stiffen in surprise at his words. Then she relaxed and snuggled deeper into him and they stayed like that for a few minutes.

Suddenly, a girl's voice spoke, startling the two out of their moment. "Hey! Look, grandmama, they're awake!"

"Here are a new change of clothes," The girl's grandmother approached the couple and placed her burden in front of them. "Some of these belong to a boy around your age, who was visiting our city. He disappeared once the man and his Pokemon came, however. The rest belong to Candice."

"I'm surprised I haven't disappeared." Candice murmured to herself. "I wonder why…I guess some people were just unlucky." She had a frown on her face for a brief moment before she smiled again almost immediately afterwards. "We'll see them again. I have a strong feeling that we will."

Cheren was reluctant to let go of Bianca, but he needed to get up, get dressed, and assess the situation. The clothes given to him fit him almost perfectly, much to Cheren's surprise. They consisted of a sleeveless black shirt, a white t-shirt he assumed was worn underneath the black one, and long, blue jeans. He finished dressing by slipping on his own blue jacket. His old shirt had most likely been discarded.

Bianca saw that the clothes she had been given were identical with Candice's, except that they were a light shade of green, the same as the one on her old clothes.

"Thanks." She said in a happy voice. "It's very pretty."

"Of course it is!" Boasted Candice. "They belonged to me after all!"

"I thought my ribs were broken," Cheren touched his side in small wonder. Before putting on his clothes, he'd noticed that his bandages had been taken off and it hadn't hurt to raise his arms over his head to slip on a shirt.

"The nurses in our region all have healing Pokemon with them," explained the girl's grandma. "We are very lucky our Nurse Joy hasn't been taken away as well."

Cheren could barely see, but his brain was still sharp. "So the Pokemon really does have the power to just make a person disappear?"

"That appears to be the case," answered the old woman. "All you see in this place are all the people left in our city. The boy whose clothes you are wearing was also taken away."

"I see…" Before Cheren could say anything else, he felt a tug near the bottom of his pants. He looked down to see the slightly blurry figure of a small boy who was holding what looked like a pair of glasses of to him.

"These were my father's," he said in a nervous voice. "Umm, I think he would've wanted you to use them."

Cheren reached down to take the glasses from the little boy's hand. "Thank you." He said, feeling slightly touched. Then he slipped them on and was felt relieved to see the temple's walls come into focus. It was intimidating to know how bad his eyesight was sometimes.

Then he noticed the large form of Zekrom hovering over two unconscious people. A Pokemon that resembled a lion appeared to be guarding the couple as well. A blanket had been placed over them. Whoever did it must've been braver than the rest, as everyone else in the area was giving the Pokemon a wide berth.

"Hilda…?" He called uncertainly.

"Did Hilda get here already?" Bianca asked as she followed Cheren over to Zekrom.

Once she got up close, she realized that Zekrom was no longer covered in wounds. In fact, he looked better than ever, which didn't make any sense. Then she looked down at the people Zekrom appeared to be protecting and gasped.

It was Hilda and some other man she had never seen before in her life. Where her body wasn't covered by the blanket, they were wrapped in bandages. Kneeling down beside them, Bianca tentatively moved the blanket away to see how much damage had really been done.

She was surprised to see the greater amount of bandages the man had on him than her friend. His entire back was covered.

She blushed to see that the two had even gone beyond what she and Cheren had done. Hilda's back was completely bare, a neat pile of clothes beside her. Someone must've folded it. The man, who Bianca did not know at all, held Hilda from behind in a way only Cheren would hold her.

One hand was on her belly, while the other was on the lower swell of her breast.

Bianca felt like giggling. What a surprise her friend was going to have once she woke up.

But was this a good thing?

Bianca went from feeling humored to worried. She had no idea what this man was like. What if he was secretly a jerk? Or what if he was some playboy who threw girls away like tissues?

"Tissues? What are you talking about?" Cheren sat down next to her to keep vigilance over his childhood friend. He smirked. "Just wait until Hilda wakes up. I hypothesize that she's going to just lie there until that guy moves his hand."

"I see that happening too," Bianca agreed. Then she turned to him and spoke with a worried tone. "What if he hurts her, Cheren? I don't know about this. It hasn't even been twenty-four hours and we find our friend in the arms of a total stranger."

Cheren listened to Bianca's worries. Then he sighed. "I get what you mean. But look at his back. How do you think he got those wounds? If my theory is correct, Hilda should've been the only one who took on Zekrom's pain. However, it looks like this man somehow managed to take on some of it as well."

"That's Volkner." The couple was caught by surprise as the girl in pigtails and snowy blue clothing crouched unexpectedly next to Cheren. "I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. He saved her from dying of blood loss. Besides," she winked. "I don't see him holding girls like that very often."

"Who are you?" Cheren pushed his glasses up his nose to look at her more clearly.

The girl stood up suddenly and pointed one finger at herself. "My name is Candice and I'm Sinnoh's 7th gym leader! I'm only one level away from Volkner. He's Sunyshore City's gym leader. He is said to be Sinnoh's best one, but I'll prove him wrong someday!" She made a fist to show her determination.

"I'll challenge him in the future and then we'll see who's the strongest!"

The man she was yelling about groaned and everyone immediately quieted down.

—A New Connection—

It was just so strange.

Volkner instinctively pulled the source of warmth in his arms a little closer to his body.

His mind felt heavier than usual, as if someone had placed a small stone atop a part of his brain and just left it there. And he could hardly put the sensation into words. However, the heaviness also left him with a basic understanding of what was going on.

Something inside him had changed.

Suddenly, he felt the thing in his arms move against his frame and then something tickled his nose. It was the light caress of someone's hair.

He realized whose it was. Hilda, the girl he met less than twelve hours ago.

Something stirred, then, in the region of his mind that had been weighed down by the invisible stone. Someone. Someone had put it there.

Hilda put it there.

Again without warning, Volkner was overwhelmed, with an inconceivable certainty in every cell of his being, that she was going to wake up. He could feel her in his mind and it was like she had become a part of it.

Then Hilda's consciousness pulsed. And jolted his memory.

Zekrom, the pain, his dream. Volkner suddenly found himself remembering it all. The fact that Hilda still couldn't fully enter his dream hadn't mattered. Things between them had changed the moment he made the decision to share her pain. Something had happened when he touched her. He had ended up sharing more than what he bargained for.

He had, unintentionally, shared his mind.


Her eyes were open before her brain was fully awake.

She wanted to sit up but a pair of arms was stopping her. The fact as to who they belonged to still hadn't made it into her brain yet. But they held her protectively in a way that Hilda couldn't keep herself from reaching down to touch one. She was kept fascinated until she noticed, with a very dry throat all of a sudden, the hand that was dangerously close to her right breast.

Her explosion of complete panic was cut short when a familiar tenor whispered into her ear. "Sorry," Hilda wanted to squirm because of the way his breath blew against it. "I'm letting go now."

Hilda nodded as best as she could, her mind much too alert now. She knew, without a doubt, that if Bianca and Cheren were to see this-

"You were right! She did freeze up like a rock!" A voice she could not recognize cried out.

"You…!" Hilda sat up lightning-quick while holding the blanket up to cover her chest. She was beyond indignant once she saw the amused expressions on Bianca and Cheren. "How long have you all been sitting there!"

"Sorry, Hilda," Bianca apologized between giggles. "We just wanted to keep an eye on you."

Hilda rolled hers. And then, although she wanted to peek behind her to see what Volkner was thinking, she realized she didn't need to because she could tell that he himself really wasn't sure of what to think at being watched like that. He was going to reach over and grab his clothes instead. That sounded like a good idea and-

How in the world did she get all that without even looking at him?

Before she could answer her own question, however, Hilda felt him move from behind her, as his intentions said he would, to grab his jacket when he accidentally brushed up against her back.

What she felt from him next was more than an impression. It was an overpowering emotion.

Surging down her spine with all the ferocity of a triggered bomb, anticipation wracked Hilda's body. This connection was too strange! He had only grazed her skin and it was like he had done much more than that! No amount of physical touch Hilda had done in the past could match up with what she had experienced though the most accidental touch she could ever think of.

Hilda used nearly all her willpower to keep herself from leaping up and running far, far away from the man she couldn't bring herself to look at right now.

However, her curiosity eventually got the better of her and Hilda found herself peeking back to see what his reaction had been. She wasn't really getting any readable impressions from him right now.

He met her gaze, but did not give her any outward sign that there was anything out of the ordinary. In fact, he seemed unfazed at the entire incident over all. It made sense since, during her intrusion of his dream, he had made it clear. She would never stand on equal footing with him until she found what she was looking for. This mental connection wouldn't change that.

"Tell us what happened, Hilda." Bianca demanded of her friend.

"Yes! Tell us how you met Volkner!" Candice leaned in eagerly.

Hilda grabbed her clothes and turned away from her friends to slip them on. She answered them once she finished, "I saved him from the snow. That's all. And then he saved my life here so we're even."

"You say it like that stuff happens every day!" said Bianca. She shook her head. "You could get a medal for what you did if you told someone important about it."

"Wow…I can't imagine Volkner lying around in the snow. So the man with the dragon Pokemon really was that tough, huh?" Candice wondered aloud.

"I didn't get my Pokemon out on time, alright?" At first, Volkner surprised her when he snapped at Candice, but then she saw that he had done it jokingly. "He struck me down because he knew I was coming to warn you, gym leader or not." He took out a Poke ball and called Luxray back. The Pokemon had been sitting there quietly and observing them the entire time.

"Okay, okay," Candice put both hands up in mock surrender. "I believe you."

Hilda decided to break the news then. Now that she was finally back together with her friends, she needed to tell the truth.

"Bianca, Cheren, he got N."


As Hilda told her story, Candice was silent the entire time.

She had stopped talking the second she noted the grave look Hilda had suddenly given her friends as she told them news that was obviously very troubling. She could only assume that the person, who seemed to have taken by a man indicated by "he", was someone important to all three of them.

Especially to Hilda.

Maybe Candice might've a little air-headed to others, especially to people she would meet for the first time, but she could vouch for herself that there was nothing easier to read than a trainer's emotions.

While Hilda seemed to be a very strong trainer and would most likely prove to be a tough opponent, she could still put a little more work on her poker face.

As a result, it hadn't been very hard for Candice to notice something was up between Hilda and Volkner the moment the former flinched ever so slightly from an instant of physical contact with the latter. Candice didn't think it was natural for anyone to react that way from that kind of accidental touch and Hilda did not look like the type to over-react about things.

Candice had quickly switched then to Volkner's face to see if he showed any indication of experiencing something just as prominent though that small touch and was surprised to find such a rare display of vulnerability flash in his eyes that Candice had trouble describing it. Was it fear? Uncertainty? Maybe it was a mixture of both, but there had been something else too. She could vaguely remember seeing that kind of look once before.

It was an expression that Candice had only ever seen her father giving her mother.

But then Candice laughed at the parallel she had drawn. No way was it anything like that! As quickly as the look had appeared on Volkner's face, it was gone by the time Hilda turned around to see for herself. If that expression had remained for even a second longer, Candice might've suspected something. But it looked like she didn't have much to conclude with.

For now.

—After Hilda Tells The Story—

"So now you have to find the other two Lake Guardians all because you wanted to." Cheren concluded.

"I'm sorry," Hilda apologized for the third time, except this time she matched Cheren's sarcastic tone. "I didn't mean to upset the great logic of Cheren the Brain."

"But imagine how much easier your journey could've been. Like Uxie said, the Distortion World is too much for emotion and will." Cheren argued. "And he mentioned a sacrifice so I see his point."

"We would be no better than Ghetsis then," Hilda continued despite Cheren's look of disbelief. "Ghetsis acquired the knowledge to find Turnback Cave, but he ended up sacrificing his son. I'm sure that, somewhere in his mind, he thinks he's done the right thing, but I won't ever buy it." No, she would never accept that kind of twisted logic. Concluding, she said, "Emotion and will are two very important things humans should have. I'm sure even someone like you can understand that, Cheren."

"Someone like me, what are you implying?" Cheren was more than a little unhappy with the way this argument was going. His arms were crossed.

"What she's trying to say is that you should be able to see the repercussions of making a decision with only knowledge," Volkner had spoken up after a long time of staying quiet and listening. "Just by looking at what happened to your friend, you should be able to come to the conclusion that maybe a little emotion and will won't hurt."

Hilda felt a rush of gratitude at his words. He caught her eye and then sent her a smile that surprised her. Had he felt it?

Cheren was quiet and Bianca spoke up instead. "I agree with you!"

This caused Cheren to sigh and nod. "Yeah." He said grumpily.

A smile found its way to Hilda's face. Cheren always did hate losing an argument. "So we should get started now." She stood up to emphasize her words. Then she looked down at her ruined shirt and sat back down again. "Haha…" she laughed nervously. "Does anyone have an extra change of clothes?"

Candice raised her hand up in the air like a student answering a teacher. "Ooh! Hold on! I'll go get you something." She came back with a complete outfit.

Hilda found herself staring. It looked exactly like Candice's clothes, except it was all in white.

"You don't have to wear the bow if you don't want to." Candice gestured to the ribbon tied around the collar. "Personally, I still want it."

"It's fine. You can take that back." Candice happily tore off the ribbon, causing Hilda to wince, before handing it to her.

No longer caring who watched, though Hilda was sure the people around her had turned around to leave her some modesty, she changed into her first, and definitely not her last, borrowed outfit.

Bianca laughed. "We match now, Hilda."

"Are you young folks starting on your journey now?" The group turned to see an old man approaching them, followed closely by Candice's grandmother.

"Grandpa," Candice was now being serious all of a sudden. "They're going to go find Mesprit and Azelf."

"Is that right?" The old man had bushy, white eyebrows that lifted conspicuously at Candice's words. "Then you want to head for Lake Verity first. It's the closest."

Cheren thought of something then. "If Uxie, the creator of all Knowledge, doesn't know where this Turnback Cave is, then how will the other two know?"

Everyone around him nodded in agreement with his question. Would they have to explore every last inch of Sinnoh to find the Spring Path? That would take much too long and Ghetsis might already have the region, if not the entire world, in his hands.

"There is a library." Candice's grandfather spoke quietly and several people leaned in to hear him more clearly. "It is located in Canalave City. I once journeyed there when I was a Pokemon trainer myself, although I'm sure many of you have already heard old men like me talk about our glory days often enough."

"No, no, keep going." Bianca urged him. "This gives us some idea of what to do."

"Very well." The old man put his hands behind his back and continued. "I remember reading about the origins of Sinnoh there. And it was there that I discovered the existence of Uxie in Lake Acuity. The books that contained the information were already very old when I read them and I can only assume that they may have been taken into the library's basement to be restored. I'm sure you could gain permission to look in a few of them if you ask nicely. Ah, but wait!"

The old man put a hand up to keep Hilda and her friends from leaping into action right then and there.

"The city itself is the origin of a myth. It was about another one of Sinnoh's ancients, one who has lived for almost as long as Giratina. But I can't seem to recall his name…"

"You useless old man!" Candice's grandmother scolded, much to everyone's surprise. "You always forget the most important things!"

"Okay, okay! No need to get all huffy about it!" The old man retorted. "I remember now! Maybe not his name, but I remember what he can do. Tread carefully once you enter the city." He changed his voice so that it sounded like he was telling them a ghost story. "That Pokemon has been known for throwing a person into perpetual nightmare. And, recently, there have been incidents…" The old man made a funny face that was probably meant to be scary and waved his arms around.

"Stop trying to scare the kids!" The old woman cuffed her husband upside the head. "They've got enough on their hands already without having endure the antics of an old man." She took his place as she swept him aside nonchalantly. "What he says is true, but this Pokemon does not do it on purpose. All in all, what he is trying to say is: Be careful."

Hilda gave the old woman a gracious smile, while Cheren nodded, and Bianca smiled shyly.

"So! Since we're done making faces at each other, let's get going!" Candice put her fist in the air and was about to head for the stairs when her grandmother grabbed her by the collar.

"You're not going." She said sternly. "They are!"

To everyone's surprise and horror, Candice suddenly burst into tears.

"But I want to help avenge us all! Look at what he did to our city. And my friends… That man should be thrown into the darkest pit in the world and left there!"

Volkner went to her side and put a hand on her shoulder, probably in his best attempt at comforting a crying person. Or more specifically, a sobbing Candice.

"Hey…" He said in a low voice. "Ghetsis will be taken down. We'll make sure of that. Don't get your hands dirty with revenge. That's not what makes a Pokemon trainer."

Hilda was impressed. And Volkner must've felt it because another small smile started playing at the edges of his lips.

Candice started drying her tears. "Well…then I'll start by becoming a better gym leader. And I'll call you out for a battle one day." She gave Volkner a challenging grin. Then she turned to Hilda. "And after I'm done with him, I'll call you out too. I want to see your dragon Pokemon in action."

"It'll be fairer if we battle without him. You wouldn't want me having an advantage would you?" Hilda couldn't help but match her grin.

"No, I suppose not." A challenging light gleamed in Candice's eye.

They would've faced off right then and there if Cheren hadn't interrupted them. "Let's not waste any more time. We set off now."

"Your packs and coats are over there. I packed an extra one for you too, Volkner. They're small so none of you will have much trouble carrying them. We've also added some emergency supplies for the snowstorms." The old woman paused for a moment, as if getting one last good look at them. "Once you pass the storms, you must enter Mt. Coronet in order to reach the rest of Sinnoh. Our city has always been a rather isolated one."

"Make sure you visit some time, okay?" Candice said, though it was more of a demand. "We have a ship that goes to the Fight Area where you can train your Pokemon to be even stronger!"

"Fight Area?" The word fight caused Hilda's ears to perk up.

Volkner stepped in. "I'll tell you all about it later," He said. "But we have to start going now. The longer we stay here, the closer Ghetsis is to the Pokemon League. He may be on his second to last badge. Or he may have more to collect. Either way,"

He then looked specifically at her.

"It won't be long before he reaches Sunyshore City."

—Outside the Temple—

Zekrom took flight the moment he saw blue skies.

The group that appeared in his wake left the temple in a somber mood. Regigigas simply watched them, as silently as the statue it had once been, from the temple's entrance.

Candice saw them off at the port, shouting all the while that she would continue to work at becoming the best gym leader Sinnoh ever knew.

It was only after everyone had gone out of sight did a single tear trail down her cheek, then followed by many more.

She wished them the best. She really did. But why was it that, from the way everyone was acting, it felt like she was never going to see any of them again?

A chilly wind blew through her and, despite her warm clothing, Candice shivered. She continued looking into the distance for a while before turning and heading back.

She would pray every day for their safe journey.

Chapter End

A/N: And so it finally begins...
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