Satori in Kalos

Chapter 2
Cliff 1

A gust of wind blew from the East, carrying thousands of tiny little pedals across the sky. Satori looked up, admiring the view. She was standing in a vast field of yellow flowers a bit less than halfway through Route Four, just north of Santalune. Her Fennekin and Pikachu were running around in the flowers playing.

Satori had left the city before the others. They had no interest in being around her after her gym battle, and Satori thought it would be best if she kept her distance. They wouldn't be too far behind her, two or three days at the most, although she wasn't sure if they would ever want to speak to her again. Calem had been very angry at her, and she didn't even attempt to apologize.

But her mind wasn't on that for now, she was far too distracted by the flowers. Route Four was a long stretch of well-kept gardens, and it was far more beautiful than anything she had seen around her hometown. What intrigued her the most however was not the flowers, but all the tiny thoughts she heard from within.

At first she thought she was hearing things, but that changed when she decided to examine the flowers closely. A gust of wind picked up, and Satori could make out a small human-like figure hanging on to one of the air-born flower stems. It was so tiny Satori couldn't believe it was actually a pokemon, but her Pokedex never lied. It scanned as Flabébé, and was smaller than Satori's hand.

Their thoughts were playful and lighthearted. Satori smiled as all the Flabébé floated around her, moving in whichever way the wind carried them. Her Pikachu had tried to catch them, but he was met with limited success. Fennekin had similar curiosity but was not so rash in her attempts to investigate. Satori let them do as they pleased.

Satori found plenty of trainers willing to battle on the route. She didn't quite break them like she had Viola, instead trying to hone her skill at actually commanding her pokemon. Fighting against wild pokemon was too trivial, their thoughts were simplistic and easy to read. Satori's pokemon rarely took a hit, let alone having a chance at losing.

Battling against other trainers, however, was different entirely. Satori sorted the types of actions she needed to watch out for into two categories. Those initiated by the trainer, and those initiated by the pokemon themselves. Trainers usually yelled out simple commands, like "Use scratch" or something similar. However, the actual execution of a command like that required many other movements from the pokemon. It had to approach its target, decide where to attack, judge the target's reflexes and accurately launch their assault.

Satori realized she would have to read both the trainer and the pokemon's thoughts at once to be able to understand the battlefield properly. She was fully capable of doing this, but the problem came when she actually tried to analyze their thoughts and figure out the best course of action. This analysis had to take less than a second—that was the time frame she was dealing with. Despite being a mind-reader, Satori was still a novice trainer. She just didn't have the experience yet.

So her battles were met with limited success. She won more than she lost, but she lost more than she would have liked.

After spending four days on the route, Satori finally saw her destination off in the distance. At first she was confused what it was, but when she got closer it became clear that what she was looking at were buildings. Hundreds of them reaching to the sky, and in the center of it all was a massive tower overlooking it all. The size and scale of the city was unlike anything Satori had ever seen, and it unnerved her.

Fennekin must have sensed her unease, because it hopped up onto Satori's shoulder and rubbed against her neck.

The route eventually terminated at a large gatehouse. She walked through the wide doors that could have fit a truck, and found a few people lounging around on couches and chairs. There was a tidy desk on the right side, behind it standing a pleasant-looking woman in a uniform.

"Excuse me," Satori said. She walked towards the desk and the attendant gave her full attention. "This is my first time in Lumoise."

"Oh, splendid." The attendant perked up. "Regretfully I must inform you, however, that we're currently experiencing a blackout. Half the city has—"

"Is off limits, got it." Satori crossed her arms. "Is the gym open? I'm a pokemon trainer."

The attendant looked sad. "I'm sorry, miss. Perhaps you—"

"You're right, I'll have to come back later." Satori said. "I had other business though, apparently a Professor Sycamore lives here in Lumoise."

The attendant was a bit flustered and looked up the name on her computer terminal. Satori listened to her thoughts as she read the data displayed on the computer, the screen of which Satori could not see. Finally the attendant looked up. "If you have a Holo Caster I can input the directions directly, otherwise I can find you a physical map."

Satori got out her Holo Caster, a device nearly every citizen owned. Its usefulness was beyond compare. A few seconds later and the attendant sent the directions to Sycamore Labs to Satori's device. There was also a very detailed map attached of the entirety of Lumoise City.

"Be sure not to get lost, miss." Said the attendant. "Most of the city is blocked off for now, but—"

"Thanks."

Satori walked through the gatehouse and into Lumoise City. It was magnificent, and Satori had to crane her neck all the way back to see the tops of the buildings. It was midday, so Satori decided to head directly to Sycamore Labs. She didn't admit it but she was anxious to meet this Professor she's heard so much about.

The directions were simple since Sycamore Labs was on one of the main roads of Lumiose. Satori simply followed the sidewalk for about half an hour taking in the sights of the city before she arrived. The lab was like a fish out of water compared to the rest of the city. The buildings were all rectangular and made of glass and stone, but Sycamore labs was like a little manor set between two tall skyscrapers. There was a nice garden out front and a stoop leading up to a nice wooden door.

Satori shrugged and entered.

The interior was very modern, and although there was a secretary sitting behind a desk to her left, Satori instead eyed the listing on the wall. Sycamore Labs was on the third floor, and Satori took the elevator straight up.

When the elevator doors opened, Satori saw a few men and women in lab coats milling about. A few looked up at her entrance, but then returned to their work. Only one of them approached her.

Satori's eyes looked him up and down. He was a good deal older than her and wore a white lab coat over his blue button-down shirt. His hair was black and waved around his face like an elegant sea.

"Ah, you must be Miss Komeiji Satori, right?" The man asked. His voice matched his appearance perfectly. Wonderful, wonderful, how I've longed to meet you.

"I, er, uh—" Satori ungracefully stuttered and blushed. "Y-yes, that's me..."

"I am Professor Augustine Sycamore, welcome to my lab. Come, come, we have much to discuss." Viola was right about one thing, he was a looker to be sure.

Satori followed the professor as he navigated through a few dividers that segmented the lab. The entire floor was just one large studio, so the dividers added a semblance of order. They eventually reached a small area with a wooden desk and some contraptions and devices Satori couldn't make heads or tails of.

Sycamore didn't sit down at his desk. Instead he just leaned on it. "So, Miss Satori, how do you enjoy being a trainer? Have you been filling your Pokedex? I'd love to see it."

Satori had already been reaching into her bag for the Pokedex before the professor asked for it. She handed it over, and he flipped it open to browse through it.

"Not bad, not bad at all. You've even encountered Flabébé." Sycamore handed the pokedex back.

"The entry on it is sparse," Satori said, "Why is that?"

"Oh ho ho, you ask the right questions my dear." Sycamore replied. "You see, Flabébé is actually a recently discovered Pokemon and it's thrown the entire academic community up on its head. We thought at first it was a simple grass or bug type, but when we experimented it just didn't match up. It wasn't until just a few years ago we realized that Flabébé was of a completely different type altogether. A fairy type," the professor excitedly explained.

"Oh." Satori hadn't felt like interrupting him. She liked the sound of his voice, and even if she knew what he was going to say it was nice hearing him say it.

"So, I have a few things to talk about but I want to wait for my other students to arrive. You live close to some of them, correct? I—" The professor must have seen Satori's shift in behavior, because he took on a bit softer tone. "Did something happen?" He asked.

"We had an argument." Something about the professor urged Satori to open up. She felt safe around him. "I left Santalune before them, so they might be a few days behind."

The professor smiled. "Arguments happen. The true test of character is if even after those arguments you can stand together with your friends. I won't press you for—"

"Actually, professor, there is something I have to ask."

"Ask away."

"Do you know what I am?"

Sycamore didn't lose his smile. "I suspect with high probability, but I would not say I 'know' as the word is usually defined." That you are probably a youkai.

"Please allow me to take refuge in that chunk of uncertainty."

"If you insist." The professor shrugged. "Feel free to explore Lumiose to your heart's content. Please return with the others, I'll give you a ring on your Holo Caster."

Satori had no interest in reconciling with her friends, but the professor had a speech he wanted to give. There wouldn't be a reason not to come back. "Okay."

Sycamore showed her the way back to the elevator, and waved her off as she went down. When the doors opened she walked in on two people having a conversation. One of them was a simple looking woman and Satori didn't give her much attention. Her conversation partner was much more striking.

He was tall and largely built, with bright orange hair that spiked out away from his head. His suit was black with a similar orange trim, and it was the most flamboyant thing Satori had ever seen.

Worse, the man looked in her direction at the elevator's chime. "Ah, si—" He said before cutting himself off. His voice was deep. "I'm sorry," he shook his head. "Are you one of the professor's students?"

Satori froze. His statement was innocuous enough, but his mind stole Satori's entire attention. Her ability was not something she could turn off, it was constant and she heard others' thoughts whether she wanted to or not. So she couldn't help reading into this man's head.

But it wasn't what she heard that bothered her. It's what she didn't.

Satori turned her attention to the small woman to double check. She was thinking about a small tear in her uniform that she would have to replace. Satori then turned back to the man. Nothing.

"Is something wrong?" He asked.

Nothing.

Satori got a hold of herself and shook her head back and fourth. "No, sorry, nothing's wrong. Yes, I'm one of the professor's students."

The man laughed half-heartedly. "I see. I'm Lysandre. I developed the Holo Caster."

"Oh." Satori was too preoccupied with her own thoughts to answer properly. She couldn't get over not hearing his thoughts. There wasn't a creature alive that she couldn't read.

"Yes. Tell me, what's your name miss?"

"Satori."

"Ah, I see." Lysandre's eyes were hollow and Satori felt unease at being unable to read his thoughts. Not knowing his intentions, she felt vulnerable. "If you excuse me then, Satori, I have to meet the professor."

Satori watched the man get into the elevator with his companion. Satori waited a minute before leaving herself, engrossed in wonder.

The walk to the pokemon center was long. If Satori's ability could fail her like that with certain people, then it could easily happen with a trainer or gym leader. She might have to study the more conventional means of battling with pokemon after all. To have her ability fail her like that, it terrified her more than anything. She tried to shake it off and went to the Pokemon Center.

The center put her up in a pretty nice place. It was apparently as an apology for the blackout, one Satori gladly took advantage of. She had an entire queen bed to herself and a private bathroom. Pikachu and Fennekin enjoyed it too. Satori gave them a nice, long bath. She was a bit worried at first they would act like cats and hate it, but their reaction was just the opposite.

She gave Rin and Utsuho a call on her Holo Caster before turning in for the night.

Satori wandered around Lumoise for a couple of days after meeting the professor, but she didn't even come close to exploring it in its entirety. Even with more than half of it blocked off due to the blackout. What she did pick up was an apparent subculture in the city that focused on being stylish. Something of which Satori apparently had none of, being shooed out of numerous cafes and boutiques for not being cool enough.

Eventually she received the call on her Holo Caster to return to Sycamore Labs. She had mixed feelings. She would enjoy talking with the professor some more, but the thought of seeing Calem and the others put a damper on the meeting. She couldn't avoid it though.

The lab was much the same as it was a few days ago, and Satori pushed the button for the third floor on the elevator. A female scientist walked into the elevator with her. She was wearing a white lab coat, but Satori's eyes were drawn to the doll in her arms.

"Cute, right?" The woman asked.

"Yes."

"She's more interesting when she's powered on, but I've been..." Ah, you probably don't want to know about this. "Nevermind, sorry."

"It's fine."

Before their conversation could continue the elevator reached the top, and they walked out in different directions. Satori made her way through the dividers over to Sycamore's little area, and saw Calem and Shauna standing in front of the professor. Shauna gave a quick wave but Calem ignored her.

"Ah, welcome back Satori. Tierno and Trevor should arrive shortly. In the meantime, tell me, what do you guys think of Lumoise?"

"I don't seem to be quite..." Shauna shrugged. "I don't know the word for it. In, I guess. The culture is beyond my understanding."

Sycamore nodded with a small smile on his face. "I'm glad you brought that up. Lumoise certainly does have that sort of atmosphere to it. The longer you stay in the city the more you'll pick up on it, although often trainers never do. Lumoise stands at the heart of Kalos though, so you'll return here many times on your journey."

"Professor," Shauna said. "Can you tell us about Furfrou?"

The professor laughed. "Did that catch your eye, little miss?" Shauna blushed. The professor continued on though, and gave a short explanation about the pokemon Furfrou. It was the poodle pokemon, and many people in Lumoise tried to groom their Furfrou's to look their absolute best. Satori had seen them a couple times and passed by the Furfrou salon, but didn't have any real interest in participating.

Tierno and Trevor interrupted the professor's explanation with their entrance. He waved them over and finally all five trainers were standing in front of the professor. He gave each one of them a good, long look in turn. Satori tried reading his thoughts, but with so many people so close to her it was hard to deduce who was thinking what.

Finally the professor spoke. His voice was calm and soothing. "There is much to discuss, but first there is something of grand importance I must say. I understand that you are having a bit of an argument." Satori and Calem gave each other glances, and lowered their heads. The professor noticed. "You two then, right?" Neither of them looked the professor in the eye.

"There is nothing wrong with having an argument. In fact, it can be healthy sometimes to air out what ails you. None of us are perfect. But it is not a reason to walk away from each other."

"But she—" Calem started to say.

"No no," the professor interrupted. "Don't explain it to me, work it out amongst yourselves. There are few arguments worth ending a friendship over, and I would hate to see you break up your group after such a short time."

Professor Sycamore leaned in close to the five trainers. "Listen," he said softly. "On your travels you're going to meet a lot of people from all over Kalos. Their modes of thought and ways of thinking will be far different than your own and those you are familiar with. But you cannot let yourself get angry with these people just because they are different. You must do your best to understand them. If you can, you'll better understand yourselves and the world. If nothing else, please take this advice."

They sheepishly looked at the floor. It was Calem who spoke first, to Satori. "We should talk. I'm sorry for yelling."

"I'm sorry too." Satori said.

Before the silence became too awkward, Sycamore stood upright and clapped his hands. "Now then, I have much more to say about than just that." His eyes were absolutely sparkling and Satori's heart fluttered a tiny bit. She couldn't help notice that Shauna's did the same. "Have you heard about..." The professor leaned in as if he was speaking some secret, but it was clearly just for fun. "Mega evolution?"

Everyone shook their heads, to the professor's delight. "Mega Evolution is a very new discovery, we're on the border of scientific knowledge here. Even more recent than fairies. New data and theories pour in every day about this elusive ability, and I want you guys to help me experiment."

Satori looked around to gauge everyone's reactions. They were just as confused as she was. "But what is it?" Trevor finally asked.

"Well, we all know that Pokemon evolve. Once they reach a certain amount of experience, in an amazing transformation their entire body turns into something completely different. But these evolutions are fixed—that is, every Squirtle evolves into Wartortle, which evolves into Blastoise. It doesn't matter which Squirtle you find, it will always evolve along this track—its evolution track."

The kids nodded. They knew this already, as did everyone. But the professor clearly was getting to the point and they listened with extreme interest. The professor spoke his next words dramatically.

"But recently, we've found an evolution beyond Blastoise." After the collective gasp from his students, he continued. "And not just Blastoise, there's at least twenty that we know of. And who knows how many that we don't. Unlocking this next evolution is still a mystery to us, but we know it involves mega stones. And so,"

The professor swiftly drew around his desk and pulled out a large wooden chest. He opened the lid, revealing three pokeballs that rested below three strange-looking stones. "I present you three—Calem, Shauna and Satori—with these. I would like you to take these pokemon and mega stones and see if you can discover the secrets of mega evolution."

Calem and Shauna hesitated at first, but reached in and each grabbed a pokeball and stone. They held the stone in their palms, taking in its mysterious beauty. Satori, however, stayed her hand. The professor noticed and she felt a bit guilty.

"Professor, I don't want it." She said finally. The professor was surprised, but contrary to Satori's expectations he did not seem upset.

"Oh? Forgive me if you feel I was pressuring you into it. Sometimes I just get so excited, I forget that not everyone—"

"Ah, no that's not quite it." Satori shook her head. "I mean, I don't really just want to be handed a Pokemon. It seems kind of like a forced friendship."

Calem made a sort of arrogant sigh. Typical of her to say something like that. Don't you understand how the world works?

The good professor just smiled though. "That's a great way to look at it. There are many ways to be a trainer. Some people want to catch 'em all, and others only want the few they really connect with. There are those who obsess over a single type as many of our gym leaders do, and there are others who obsess over a single Pokemon such as, well, Furfrou. As I said, none of these ways are wrong. You must do your best to understand these other ways that are different than yours."

The professor closed the chest, and turned around to fetch something from his desk.

"I would feel bad not to give you something though, so take this." He handed Satori a yellow-and-black pokeball. "This is an ultra ball. It'll work more reliably than a typical pokeball, so save it for that pokemon you really want to catch."

Satori thanked him and put it into her bag.

With that said and done, Sycamore opened his arms as if to embrace the group in a large hug. "Now then, my students. The world of Kalos awaits you, so please, run forward towards your futures!"

And with that dramatic declaration, their little meeting was over. The group all went down the elevator together, but split up once they reached the street. It wasn't because of bad blood, everyone just wanted to do something different in the city. Shauna said something about a PR Video place, and Trevor and Tierno were off doing their own thing. Only Calem stayed with Satori, and asked if she would meet him at a cafe. She agreed.

They settled down at a simple cafe. It didn't have a view except for the street, although that in its own way added to the cafe's charming atmosphere. They took a seat by the window. Calem ordered milk tea while Satori settled for a vanilla latte.

They didn't say anything at first and just enjoyed their drinks. Calem finally broke the silence, although he avoided the topic they came to discuss. "Do you know who that is over there?" He said, gesturing towards the opposite side of the cafe. Satori glanced to where he pointed and recognized the orange hair of Lysandre, whom she had met just a few days previously. But the thought that Satori heard from Calem's mind was not his name, it was Diantha.

But she didn't know any more than the name. "I recognize Lysandre, but not the person he's with." Satori said honestly.

"That's Diantha. She's a famous actress and the Kalos Pokemon champion. I'm surprised she's here at this cafe. She could afford to eat anywhere she wants."

"Having money must be nice," Satori said offhandedly. "Are she and Lysandre involved?"

Calem shook his head. "I don't think so. They're both famous people so I'm sure they're friends. Or at least acquaintances."

"I don't like him."

"Do you like anybody?"

Satori and Calem both realized they were on a path to more arguing, and both silently drank from their mugs at the same time. "The professor wants us to understand each other, does he?" Satori asked.

There was a loud noise as Calem set his cup down on the table with a little bit more force than necessary. "Let's battle."

"What?"

Calem rose from his seat. "You and I. Let's battle. We've known each other for years, and neither of us like the other. So I say we stop trying to play nice and let our pokemon do the talking. We'll learn more from seeing each other's relationships with our pokemon than any amount of conversation.

The young boy was gleaming and Satori couldn't help but chuckle as she rose from her seat to meet Calem's gaze. "How typical of a wannabee champion to come up with a solution like that." Satori saw Calem get visibly angry at her words, but she then held out her hand and smiled. "But fine, let's do it."

Calem grasped Satori's hand, sealing the agreement. "Then we are rivals," Calem said.

"Apparently so."

They had apparently made a bit of a scene, because everyone around the two kids had taken to staring at them. Satori didn't think they had spoken loudly, but they were standing up and shaking hands dramatically over the table. They were both embarrassed, deciding to finish their drinks quickly and exit the cafe before anyone complained.

From there they decided to split up since Calem wanted to explore the city. They waved each other off, and Satori went off on her own. But it didn't last. She literally bumped into Shauna not ten minutes later, who looked a bit angry.

"Damn these Lumoise jerks!" She shouted. "They're so freaking pompous, all I wanted to was to learn about Furfrou, why are they so mean?" Satori let her vent. After a string of complaints and a large number of very bad words, Shauna finally cooled off. The two girls decided to sit on a bench near the gatehouse to Route Five.

Before long, Shauna launched herself up from the bench energetically. "Yeah, screw this city," she said. "I want to go, let's go Satori."

"What about the others?" Satori asked.

"Let's send them a Holo Cast and tell them they can catch up. If they're not too slow that is," Shauna said with a grin.

They passed through the gatehouse without speaking to the attendant, and came out the other side to lush trees and landscapes. The transition from big, bustling city to scenic countryside was very abrupt, although in this particular instance something soured the view. To their right was a massive skate park where a large score of people were on roller blades. The concrete looked very out of place, so Satori heightened her walking pace to get past it sooner.

However, the route never did fully return to nature. There were numerous metal bars and other skate trick equipment all across the route. The roller bladers must have taken this entire route over for their own entertainment. Satori couldn't complain too much, better they all confine themselves to a single route than to ruin the entire continent.

But it did make Satori want to rush through the route to the town on the other side. Shauna wasn't bothered as much as Satori, but didn't protest. They had a few encounters of course, and Satori battled a few trainers who caught her gaze. But all in all they reached the next town quickly with as minimal effort as possible.

Despite the noise of the roller bladers however, Satori inexplicably enjoyed the walk.

Still, she was glad to see the roller blading had stopped completely by the time they reached what turned out to be Camphrier town. But it wasn't a town at all. It was a castle.

A high curtain wall surrounded the entire area, although there were no gatehouses nor guards. The wall just ended on either side of the road. As they got closer, Satori realized it was very old. The castle must be for historical purposes by now. The keep could be seen from nearly any point in Camphrier and Shauna and Satori naturally were drawn to it first. A large placard was placed outside that read Shabboneau Castle. It was fairly desolate, but there were no signs saying they couldn't go in.

The girls entered the castle's entrance hall, but it was fairly barren. There was a simple wooden desk, but that's about it. There were two men standing off to the side near an arched doorway, one of which wore a white gi. Satori figured he was probably the caretaker of the castle.

The man in the gi noticed the girls walk in, and with a surprised look walked over to them. "It's strange to get visitors here, welcome to the Shabboneau Castle. I'd offer you a tour, but regretfully I actually have business to attend to." Why did she have to come back today of all days, when I have customers?

Satori didn't understand his thoughts that well since he didn't name any names, but she was curious enough to ask. "What's wrong?"

"Gah, the bridge from here to the coastal region is blocked again. Excuse me, I have to deal with this. Feel free to explore the castle if you wish." The man said, and rushed out. The other man followed him.

Shauna looked to Satori. I kind of want to follow them, thought Shauna.

"Let's follow them." Satori suggested. She wanted to, too.

They had left the castle town and traveled on the next route for only a few minutes before they came across a large bridge. It arched over a raging river, but what caught Satori's attention wasn't the river, it was what was on the bridge.

A woman.

From Satori's vantage point she couldn't make much out about the woman, nor could read her thoughts. She was wearing a brown blouse and a long blue skirt, but besides that Satori couldn't deduce anything. She and Shauna had caught up to the men they had seen in the castle. They were reluctant to step onto the bridge for some reason.

The man in the gi recognized Satori. "Oh, you guys followed us here?"

"Yeah, sorry." Shauna said. "We were curious. But the bridge looks fine to me, what was all the ruckus about?"

The man scratched his neck. "Well, it's that person standing in the middle of it. She's...well, you'll understand better if you try to cross yourselves."

Satori and Shauna looked at each other, confused. With a shrug, Shauna stepped onto the wooden part of the bridge. She made it a few paces before stopping, and turning back towards Satori.

Look at them standing over there on solid land, Shauna thought. Why are they so lucky to be on solid land? I'm jealous. I want to be on solid land. No, screw this, I'm going back over there. Shauna marched back off the bridge. A few moments went by and she shook her head back and fourth.

"W-what just—?"

"Yeah, we don't get it either." The man said. "But that sort of thing always happens when that woman stands on the bridge. No one can physically cross and always want to come back a few steps in. Not even pokemon seem to be immune."

"You sound like you've dealt with this in the past," Shauna said. "What did you do those times?"

"Sometimes she just leaves on her own. Other times we had to go to the mansion up north and ask for assistance. They can usually scare her off."

Satori and the others stood there staring at the woman on the bridge for a few moments, none of them really sure what to do. Shauna lightly tugged on Satori's sleeve and whispered. "We should solve this for them."

"Why?"

"We're trainers, this is the kind of stuff we do."

Satori was going to reject Shauna's proposal, but the man cut in before she could. "Oh ho ho, you'll help us? Excellent, thank you so much." He said as if he knew that Satori was about to decline. But he pressured the two young trainers into taking the task upon themselves, and promptly made his exit before they could protest.

Which left just Satori and Shauna standing by the bridge without a clue in what to do. They could go up to the mansion and beg for help, or they could stay here and deal with the woman themselves.

"HEY YOU!" Shauna yelled over to the person. "Stop being mean."

"Brilliant plan," Satori commented. It seemed to catch the bridge woman's attention though, and took a few paces towards the girls.

Jealous. Jealous. I'm jealous. Are those two trainers? I'm jealous of them. Why do they get to be trainers and not me? I'm jealous. They have pokemon and not me, I'm jealous. And that girl on the left has purple hair, I'm jealous. Are those two sisters? I'm jealous.

Satori was taken aback at the wave of thoughts that hit her as the woman approached. She was so...so broken. The thoughts were insane, she was reading a crazy person's mind.

.get to explore all around the continent, get to meet interesting people, I'm jealous...

"This person...this person is..." Satori spoke slowly and tried to get the words out. But the woman's thoughts were clouding her mind. But she couldn't stop listening, the Third Eye could not be turned off.

.more slender than me and has nicer skin and...

The bridge woman stopped not too far from Satori and Shauna and crossed her arms. "Hey, I'm not being mean," she pouted.

"You're blocking people from crossing the bridge," Shauna said strongly. "Somehow. So stop it!"

"No." I can't leave, not until he returns. I can never leave my vigil here. I'm jealous~

Satori backed away from the woman, and dragged Shauna with her. She protested at first, but Satori just pulled harder. If they were rude to the bridge woman, no one around seemed to mind.

"What is it, Satori?" Shauna asked in a huff. "We need to—"

"We can't," Satori said. The woman was adamant about staying on the bridge. "Let's do what the man suggested and go to the castle up north."

"Mmm," Shauna looked down and sighed. "I guess." She obviously wanted to deal with it herself, but Satori would rather not waste time on such a fruitless endeavor. Better to pass it off to the people who have been dealing with it all along.

The way to the mansion was to take route six. It jutted off of route seven almost immediately outside of Camphrier and went through a nice forested area. It was an exceptionally pleasant walk, although it was sunset by the time they made it through.

That's when they decided to stop walking.

The walls of the mansion were deep crimson and the roofs were black. Some halls were over five stories, and an enormous and ornate clock tower stood above even those. It was strange, unnatural, and Satori couldn't help but shudder. There wasn't a single window, not one, and the only entrance were two large double doors defended by a large wrought-iron gate and outer wall.

Satori's first instinct was to turn right around and chalk this up to her worst idea ever. The mansion was intimidating, but not in the way she would expect. There were no gargoyles, no spiked fences, nothing all that gothic. Satori had a feeling this mansion wouldn't do any overtly horrific or terrible things to her.

If she entered this mansion, she would simply be gone. That was the sort of feeling it gave off.

"Ahh...ummm..." Shauna drew close to Satori. "D-Do we really..."

Satori nodded, and forced them to step forward.

They didn't even make it to the gate before someone laid a hand on Satori's shoulder. She jumped at the contact and spun around to see a very tall woman. She had long, light brown hair done in braids and wore a green china dress with a matching blouse. She was at least two heads taller than her.

"Ha, sorry. Did I scare ya?" asked the woman.

Satori tried to control herself and brushed off her blouse. "I think I'm just a little on edge." Satori had heard the woman's thoughts, but she wasn't paying attention enough to realize how close she was.

The woman put her hands on her hips and smiled. "Name's Meiling. I've never seen you before, cha doin' out here? You have business inside?"

"Yes." Satori looked back towards the mansion, but decided she would rather look at Meiling even if she had to bend her neck backwards to do so. "There's a person on the bridge this mansion is supposed to be able to help with."

Meiling's look soured a little bit. The mistress won't want to deal with that again, maybe I should just send them off. "Thats, ah, sorry. I don't think—"

"Meiling," a soft but commanding voice cut through the air. All three of them spun on their heels towards the voice. Satori saw a silver-haired woman wearing an elegant maid outfit who was definitely not there a second ago. "Were you about to deny a guest entry who had legitimate business with the mistress?"

"N-No of course not." Meiling saluted and stood up straight. "Whatever gave you that idea?"

Satori could feel the pure, unadulterated terror coming from Meiling towards this new person. She thought it would be prudent to adopt the same emotion, and tried not to do anything noticeable. Satori had a feeling she was way in over her head here.

Shauna, too, seemed to read the mood.

The maid turned towards the girls and smiled. It wasn't very comforting. "I am Izayoi Sakuya. Welcome to the Scarlet Devil Mansion. May I have your names?"

Satori took a deep breath. "Komeiji Satori."

"S-Shauna."

"Well Miss Komeiji, Miss Shauna, please come in. The mistress will be delighted to have guests, we get them so rarely."

The two of them couldn't do anything but nod and follow the maid into the mansion. The interior was predictably dark, only lit by a chain of what looked like old-fashioned gas lanterns. But as the maid led her through one of the hallways, Satori caught a few signs of actual modern technology. There were definite electrical outlets on the walls and a few subtle lights. Still, it was far darker than it needed to be even without windows.

There was also a strange sense Satori was getting about the size of the place. The mansion looked plenty large from the outside, but it seemed even larger on the inside. She wondered if there was some trick or optical illusion to it.

Finally the maid led them to a large parlor. There were no windows but it was very well lit compared to the hallways. An ornate chandelier hung from the ceiling above a sturdy wooden table. Sakuya pulled out a few chairs and urged Satori and Shauna to take a seat.

They did, and the maid bowed. "Please excuse me while I inform the mistress of your arrival. Is there any type of tea you would prefer? We can provide every brew. Or would you prefer coffee?"

Satori had a suspicion that denying refreshments would be an extremely dangerous option. "Please bring me whichever tea you would personally recommend."

I don't really want to drink anything, Shauna thought. "I—"

"Shauna will have the same," Satori said quickly and cut her a glance.

"As you wish." With that, the maid turned around and left through one of the doors. Her movements were precise and calculated. Satori had been reading her mind the whole walk over, but couldn't gleam anything useful. They were all of her duties which were extremely numerous and what she would be taking care of next.

Satori spun the tendrils of her Third Eye around her fingers while waiting for the mistress to arrive. Shauna on the other hand was resisting the urge to bite her nails.

The wait was only a few minutes before a figure walked through the door. Satori and Shauna froze when they saw her. A girl no older than themselves wearing a pink frock, but her eyes were deep red. And from her back were two large, black wings.

The girl walked towards the other end of the table, her maid following dutifully behind her. Sakuya pulled out the seat for her before pouring them all tea. Once that was finished, the mistress looked over at them both and smiled. On either side of her mouth were two long fangs.

"I am Remilia Scarlet. Welcome to my mansion."

Satori saw that Shauna was gripping the seat of her chair so tightly her knuckles were white. "Y-y-you're a—" Shauna stuttered.

"Indeed, I am a vampire." Remilia flapped her wings lightly to drive the point home. "But do not be afraid, you are a guest here. I would not dare to tarnish the ways of things by acting against a guest in my household."

That didn't really reassure Shauna, but she kept quiet. Satori didn't have much to say until Remilia turned towards her with a glimmer in her eye.

"Well well, don't you have an interesting smell about you, girl." Remilia said.

Satori's eyes widened. She was dead. She was so dead. Of course Remilia would know she's a youkai. "Thank you?"

Remilia glanced towards Shauna, then back at Satori. Keeping it a secret from the human, are you? I can leverage that. "Ah, thank you Sakuya." Remilia carefully grabbed the teacup that Sakuya had set down for her and sipped. "Magnificent, as always."

Satori looked down at her own cup of tea, and mimicked Remilia's movements. It was, in a word, delicious. "This is excellent."

"You should expect nothing less, here," Remilia said. "I have introduced myself, but you two have yet to reciprocate."

"I'm sorry," Satori said quickly. "My name is Komeiji Satori."

"I'm Shauna," Shauna said meekly.

"Well then, Satori, Shauna, what brings you two to my domain?"

While trying to word her next sentence, Satori took another sip of her tea. Shauna sure wasn't going to take point in this conversation, she was trying to make herself as little as possible. Satori actually kind of wanted to just drink the tea and enjoy it rather than having to talk.

She finally set it down and looked back to her host. "A woman is blocking the bridge, and we hear that you are capable of chasing her off."

Remilia nodded and flashed a rather malicious smile. "And if I did this for you, what would I get in return?" That woman is getting to the point where it would be better to just kill her and be done with it.

"We don't have a lot of money."

"Do you think I need money?" Remilia gestured to the rest of the room, a display of fabulous wealth.

Satori stayed quiet for a moment, trying to gauge Remilia's thoughts. It didn't help though, Remilia was waiting for Satori to come up with something useful. Shauna was still gripping the edges of her seat and was completely unhelpful.

"Is there no service you need?" Satori asked.

"None that Sakuya cannot or will not already handle."

Another swing and a miss. Remilia was smiling though, she was enjoying making Satori squirm. Satori thought long and hard while finishing her cup of tea. She set it down on the table and stood up from her chair. Satori placed her hand on her chest.

"Then I will offer my body."

Remilia choked on her tea. "W-What?"

Satori acted as confident as she could. "You said I had a smell about me, Remilia. I do think that is a useful smell, so I'll let you use me for twenty-four hours if you deal with the bridge problem."

Oh, that's what you meant. She seems a stronger type of youkai, this is enticing. Remilia sipped her tea. "Very well, I shall claim that payment at my convenience."

That wasn't quite what Satori wanted, she would have preferred to get it over with now. But she nodded and sat back down at the table.

"Would you stay for dinner?" Remilia asked. "I'll fix your problem once the night falls, but until then I insist you try Sakuya's cooking."

The sound of that 'insist' gave Satori the feeling that she didn't actually have a choice in the matter. "Alright."

Sakuya led them all to the dining room and set their places. The meal was prepared surprisingly quick given how elaborate it was, but when youkai get involved such strangeness is commonplace. Within a minute everyone had their entree.

The thing was, Satori knew what she was about to eat. Remilia knew she knew what she was about to eat. And yet she asked anyways.

"Is something wrong, Satori? I hope the meal is to your liking, my maid is an excellent chef."

This did not help matters, and neither did Shauna greedily shoveling the meat into her mouth next to her. The food must have distracted her from her worry. Shauna, unlike Satori, did not know what she was eating. But Satori knew, which is why she stayed her hand from stabbing into the slab of meat before her.

It's a Furfrou.

Satori wasn't sure what the laws were on killing and eating Pokemon, but she had a feeling that it was a great big "NO." Most if not all of them were entirely sentient, and Satori could never remember seeing any Pokemon meat on any menu.

But, well, it was already dead.

So Satori, after hesitating as long as she possibly could, took a bite. And then she felt a swash of guilt at how good it tasted. It didn't have the right to taste so good, it was supposed to taste bad. She was supposed to grimace through it to please her host and then be on her way. She wasn't supposed to enjoy it.

Satori begrudgingly finished her delicious dinner, and the maid brought out dessert. A rich slice of chocolate cake, and as far as Satori could tell there was nothing sinister about it. Except for Remilia's slice, which had blood mixed into the frosting.

But with her wings and fangs, Remilia likely had a diet that Satori didn't want to know the exact details of anyways. They all finished their cake without a word, and the maid cleaned away the dishes.

"Alright." Remilia wiped her mouth with her napkin. "Thank you for joining me, it's nice to have guests. I would offer you to stay the night, but I wouldn't expect you to trust me that much so soon."

Shauna looked away.

"Of course," Remilia said softly. "It would not do to have you wander alone at night. Sakuya will escort you back to town, the woods can be dangerous at night around here."

Sakuya bowed, and left the room. Satori considered protesting the escort, but refusing Remilia's hospitality felt like an incredibly bad idea. At the same time, she couldn't help but think thoughts of their mutilated corpses being found in the woods with knives stuck in them from all directions.

They left the mansion after a few final salutations. The mansion was even more intimidating in the moonlight than it was in the sunset, likely by design. The gate guard waved to Satori, or more likely Sakuya who was escorting them.

The woods were very dark, and Satori was suddenly very grateful for the escort. Sakuya walked with purpose and confidence, and her thoughts mimicked her pose. Satori usually tried to walk with that same confidence, but it was mostly an act. Sakuya however lived and breathed that confidence.

Satori felt her thoughts falter slightly though, and a moment later Sakuya relaxed her stance. "I'm sorry for mistress Remilia's behavior," she said.

"I'm sorry?"

"She doesn't have many honest friends. One, to be exact." Sakuya looked down at her feet. "Most of her interactions with people involve manipulating them, or controlling them. She's a very influential figure in Kalos, and it's hard for her to make friends when she has that much power."

"She has an interesting way of trying."

Sakuya felt the malice in those words. "Please forgive her. It may not seem like it, Miss Komeiji, but she likes you. If you would give her—"

"You love her."

"Ah, how did you..." Sakuya broke her composure, but it took less than a second for her to regain it. "Well, you're correct. Please don't let my bias dissuade you."

The lights of the town appeared in the distance. It was past midnight, but there was still plenty of light from the streetlamps and twenty-four hour services. Sakuya stopped walking and bowed to the others. Satori and Shauna turned towards her.

"I hope you two have a pleasant evening." Sakuya straightened up. "And we'll be—"

"Expecting me back, yeah." Satori sighed. "That was the deal."

Sakuya nodded. "Please don't worry about it too much. Enjoy your evening." Sakuya turned to leave.

Once the maid was gone, Shauna visibly relaxed.

"Oh my god, Satori, that was a vampire," she exclaimed. "We could have died!"

"She wasn't, ah," Satori struggled for the words. "Entirely malicious."

"Not entirely malicious? She wanted to eat us." Shauna crossed her arms. "What were you talking about with her anyways? Smells? Why the hell did you make an offer that required you to go back?"

"Don't concern yourself with it."

Maybe you really are a youkai. Shauna was by no means satisfied with that answer, but didn't say anything as they split up to go back to their respective rooms. Satori, however, was still nervous. She had pried into Remilia's trauma almost on reflex back at the mansion. There was something very dangerous in her basement.

But Satori put it out of her mind. That was a problem for another day.

The next day, Calem and the others arrived in town. When Satori met up with them they looked strange. Shauna had told them about their little excursion, and obviously Calem took that as confirmation Satori was not trustworthy. Associating with vampires tends to do that. But they still decided to travel together, Sycamore's words still providing a small amount of glue between them.

The first landmark they reached was the large bridge, although they hurried past it. The woman was missing, the bridge free and clear to be traversed. Satori had mixed feelings about that, but they passed over the bridge with no trouble.

On the second day they came across a small building on the side of the road. There was a simple wooden fence that ran around the entire property, and Satori could see a number of different pokemon playing with various toys that had been set out.

"That's the pokemon daycare," explained Trevor. "You can drop off Pokemon and have them trained for you. It's a pretty famous establishment. I think it's the only one in Kalos."

Shauna look unimpressed. "Doesn't that defeat the point of being a trainer?"

Trevor looked a bit uncomfortable. "W-Well, my parents said it's also a place where Pokemon can be bred, although they never really went into detail."

The group looked around at each other but none of them held any real interest in that sort of thing. They decided to just move on and didn't even enter the daycare. The road was long and they had a long way left to travel.

The road was fairly simple but well-groomed and drained. There were wide fields of flowers on the left and a massive lake on the right. Calem said the lake was so large they wouldn't get past it for days. It stretched as far as Satori could see in every direction.

Mornings and evenings were usually spent walking on the road, but during the afternoons the groups would all trample through the flowers looking for wild pokemon. Satori had encountered a few but none really struck her and her roster remained at a lonely two. Calem caught a bunch, probably one of each type that could be found on this route.

On the fourth morning, Satori spotted a building off in the distance. She hadn't seen it during the previous evening but in the light of the morning sun it was clearly visible about an hour ahead of them.

"What's that," she asked no one in particular.

Trevor raised his hand to shield his eyes from the sun and look to where Satori pointed. "Oh," he said, "that's the Battle Chateau. It's where rich people go to battle pokemon. They play for really high stakes, or so I hear. I've never gone, of course."

The building gave them a nice landmark to walk towards, and soon enough they reached the Chateau. It was not actually on land, Satori realized, but suspended above the lake. There was a lowered drawbridge connecting the Chateau and the road, although it looked like it was for aesthetic purposes rather than function. The chains were rusted and old and the architecture a similar style to Camphrier.

"It looks intimidating." Shauna said. Although not nearly on the level of that vampire's place.

"I'm going in," Satori declared walking across the drawbridge. She turned back and saw that none of her companions were following her. Their loss. Satori turned back and opened the doors.

She immediately regretted it.

Standing there in the entrance was Viola, the Santalune Gym Leader. "Ah, you!" Viola said. She then coughed. "Excuse me, I have something to take care of..." Viola then fast-walked away from the entrance and slipped past another door into the depths of the Chateau. Satori shrugged, but before she could walk on a man in a butler uniform stopped her.

"Excuse me, miss," he said. "You need a sponsor to participate in the Battle Chateau."

"I..oh, okay." Satori said. The butler then escorted her out and she returned to her companions in shame.

"No luck?" Tierno asked.

Satori shook her head. "You need a sponsor to get in."

With that, the group moved on. Satori scanned the thoughts of everyone to see what they were thinking about her, but no one seemed to care.

Their excursion lasted another four days without incident. Satori had encountered a few new Pokemon, including a strange-looking one her Pokedex identified as a Smeagle. But she had not caught it. There had been a couple of trainer battles as well, and Satori had won them all. She felt quite good about that.

The party finally reached the end of the road eight days after they left Camphrier. But that was the easy part. Their next leg would involve navigating through a cave, and then they would have to scale down a cliff. There was apparently a path to follow, but it wasn't exactly a walk in the park.

"Now what?" Shauna asked. The sun was high in the sky and they had reached the mouth of a cave.

"Well," Trevor said. "This cave leads to Cyllage City. Another cave a bit south of here leads to Ambrette. It doesn't have a gym, but it has a massive archeological site."

"I vote for Cyllage," Shauna said. "Fossils are boring."

Trevor shook his head. "I don't think they're that boring..." He said meekly. "But I do agree that we should go to Cyllage. It's supposed to be much easier down the mountain that way."

Calem crossed his arms and Satori knew he disagreed. "I say we go to Ambrette. We may learn something about megastones there, and I would hate to just pass up a city on our journey. Gym or no gym."

"I side with Calem," Satori said. "I see no reason why we should rush to Cyllage." She also wanted to get in some training before facing the gym leader, she didn't think she was quite up to the task yet.

Calem seemed a bit surprised his nemesis sided with him, but otherwise didn't respond. Everyone then looked to Tierno, who would cast the deciding vote.

"I, uh, say Cyllage."

"Alright then," Satori said quickly. "I guess we'll meet up with you three later then."

The group hesitated, causing Satori to grin a bit. They hadn't intended on splitting up and assumed they would vote democratically. Satori knew this and so decided to intervene and impose her own will. No one contradicted her. However, Calem spoke up just before everyone said their goodbyes.

"Wait," he said. "Before we do, I want to battle you Satori."

"Hmm? Now?"

"Yes, now."

Satori shrugged. "Alright, let's do it."

The others made room for the imminent pokemon battle that would soon take place. And, soon enough, Satori faced off against her rival for the first time. They began by flashing their rosters—2 balls each. Satori knew Calem had caught a lot more than two, but he likely didn't train any more up for combat.

Hmm, Satori will likely open with her Pikachu, Calem thought. I guess I'll open with Fletchling then. That's good, it will let my evolved starter be a surprise for the end. That should shake her a bit.

Satori couldn't help but feel something dramatic had been spoiled for her, although it was a feeling she was familiar with. Many times when Rin or Utsuho had good news they wanted to tell her, she would know before they could get the words out.

In any case, Fennekin would be coming out first. Satori grasped the ball in her hand and felt its cool metal in the palm of her right hand. In a dramatic motion, she and Calem tossed their pokemon out at the same time. As predicted, the small bird-like pokemon Flechling appeared on Calem's side as Fennekin emerged on Satori's.

Dammit, I guessed wrong! Calem thought. Satori snickered, but the combat wasn't exactly in her favor. Fletchling and Fennekin were both fire types, this battle would last a while just due to neither pokemon being really effective against the other.

"Fletchling, peck." Calem shouted. His pokemon took to the sky and dived towards Fennekin. However, Satori focused on the pokmon and read its mind to see how it would angle its attack. It was no trouble for Satori to figure out its patterns.

"Fen, right." Satori shouted. Fennekin hopped to the right and dodged the bird's peck. Without a command from its master, it then tackled the bird before it could recover. Satori was proud of her skill, but congratulations would have to wait for later.

"Quick attack!"

The Fletchling made contact with Fennekin before Satori could respond. Her ability was powerful to be sure, but she couldn't stop time. And she had a feeling Calem knew this was a weakness of hers, because it had its Flechling mostly use quick attacks except for the odd peck. Satori couldn't direct her pokemon against the quick attacks, well, quickly enough, but the pecks were easy.

But the faster the attack the less damage it could do. Fennekin couldn't use her full power since any fire moves would be ineffective against the fire bird, but she was still plenty strong. The battle was long and both pokemon were brought to their limits, but to Satori's remiss her Fennekin fell first. She recalled him and reached for her next pokemon.

"Go, Pikachu!" She shouted, throwing the ball. The Pikachu emerged ready for combat.

Let's do this, the Pikachu said. That little bird's got nothing on me. He ran forward without Satori's command, sparks flying from his cheeks. Fletchling took to the sky, but could not dodge the blaze of electricity that came from the Pikachu. In a cackle, the Fletchling fell to the ground unconscious. You're welcome, master.

Satori didn't scold her Pikachu for being effective, but she didn't praise him either. Although this was mainly since they were in the heat of battle. Calem recalled the Fletchling and pulled out his last pokeball. Satori saw a smile on his face as he threw it.

From it emerged a blue, frog like pokemon. But this pokemon was much larger and stronger-looking than the Froakie that Calem had started with. Satori whipped out her Pokedex to scan it. "Frogadier," it said in its mechanical voice. "The bubble frog pokemon. Its swiftness is unparalleled. It can scale a tower of more than 2,000 feet in less than a minute."

Satori did a double take on that description. She did some quick mental calculations and came to the conclusion that Calem's pokemon had a speed of "damn fast."

But Satori couldn't help but smile. After all, it's still a water type. Which meant that it would be easy prey for her Pikachu.

"Impressed?" Calem asked loudly so Satori could hear. She chuckled at the taunt.

"I will be if it wins."

The Pikachu and Frogadier engaged. Frogadier may be fast, but Pikachu was also known for its quickness. Unfortunately this left Satori feeling a bit worthless. She couldn't process what was happening fast enough to direct Pikachu's dodges. So she instead refocused on Calem.

I'm at a type disadvantage, he thought. Bubble won't be particularly helpful, and if Satori's Pikachu lands just one or two hits then I'll lose. Speed is the name of the game here.

This insight didn't help Satori much, and she had a sudden feeling of helplessness as she simply watched her Pikachu fight without her. But she looked up from the fight and saw that Calem was in the same situation she was in. Both the Froagdier and Pikachu were just much too fast, faster than either of the trainers could hope to keep up with.

It was up to the pokemon's own abilities. Unless Satori meddled.

And so she did.

She and Calem had been neighbors for quite some time, and she had a good understanding of the trauma that sat in the depths of his heart. It wasn't particularly troublesome, a rather typical desire to walk in his parents' footsteps and a fear that he would not live up to their expectations. Hardly worthy of the word 'trauma,' but Satori could still manipulate it.

She ripped this thought to the surface of Calem's mind and made it so he could think of nothing else. A forceful mental attack. Satori stared at Calem as his arms started shaking from the sudden fear, and relished the thoughts she had forced him to start thinking.

Oh my god, what if I lose here? What if I can never beat Satori, and fail at all the gyms and can't collect the badges...oh my god, how could I ever face my father if that happened? If I had to say that I just couldn't do it, that Satori was better than me

And Frogadier, being Calem's pokemon, notice that something was wrong with its master and turned to check. A distraction which Pikachu was trained and all too ready to take advantage of. It was just a split second, but that was all it needed to launch a thunder shock towards the frog pokemon. It landed, and knocked the pokemon out cold.

Type advantages really were how to play the game.

The Pikachu trotted up to Satori arrogantly. I could have taken him on my own.

Satori knelt down and got close to the Pikachu. Satori noticed how it stood its ground, preparing to take some sort of punishment it thought she would dish out on it for being disobedient. However, Satori just patted it on the head.

"But then I wouldn't get to have any fun," she whispered. She didn't really want Calem to know she had interfered, who was standing next to his unconscious pokemon nursing them back to health.

Oh, I didn't—, The Pikachu said. You're right, master.

"I know." Satori pet it one last time before standing up and walking over to Calem. The Pikachu walked beside her, but before she could talk to him the other three of their companions rushed over.

"Wow, that was so crazy!" Shauna exclaimed.

"Yeah, your pokemon were amazingly quick." Trevor said.

"It was like some sort of awesome dance," said Tierno.

Calem and Satori both smiled at the comments. Satori hadn't exactly harmed Calem like she had the bridge woman, she just prodded him enough to create an opening in the battle. He looked disappointed about it though.

"I can't believe I got distracted like that," he said. "That usually doesn't happen."

Satori shrugged, but had a malicious smile on her face. "Were you scared?" she asked tauntingly. "Scary Satori who can see right through you with her giant eye~" She stroked her Third Eye on top and had it look at Calem. "Or, however the stories went. No one ever actually told me them directly, for obvious reasons."

Calem averted his gaze. He and the other neighborhood kids had called her names like that behind her back. How did she know that, he thought in full view of Satori. Maybe she really can see right through us.

But Calem stood tall and looked Satori in the eyes—the ones on her head—and held out his arm. "It was a good battle." He said.

Satori took his hand and shook. "Honestly it was mostly Pikachu."

Calem and the group laughed. "You trained him though," he added. "That accounts for a lot."

"Thanks."