Satori in Kalos

Chapter 3
Cliff 2

All her taunting aside, Satori was impressed with Calem's preparedness. She hadn't brought a flashlight, or had excess pokeballs, or potions or anything of that nature. She bought a few pokeballs back in Lumoise, but even though she was having good luck in trainer battles her budget was low.

The cave, or "Connecting Cave" as Calem pointed out, was as boring as its naming scheme. It rarely changed course from a straight line. There were a few narrow side-paths and larger chambers, but it was nearly impossible to get lost. All in all, there was only one notable feature of the cave.

"I hate these damn Zubats!" Calem complained loudly. His voice echoed throughout the cave.

"Ugh, I'm forced to agree." Satori said.

The cave wasn't all that long, but they decided to spend the night inside of it instead of going the whole way through. Calem and Satori didn't talk to each other much around the small campfire they made. Satori mostly focused on playing with Fennekin or Pikachu, and Calem with his own pokemon.

There was no sunrise in the cave, but they had alarm clocks on their Holo Casters. After a quick breakfast, they were soon on their way.

"Uh oh," Calem said after an hour of walking. "Can you hear that?"

Satori closed her eyes and tried to listen. She could hear something faint in the distance. "Is that...rain?"

Calem nodded. "I knew it rained pretty heavily on the coast, but I was hoping we would get lucky. Clearly that's not the case."

Sure enough, as they reached the mouth of the cave they encountered a downpour of rain. The sky was dark despite it being noon and heavy rain splashed onto the ground creating large puddles.

"I don't have an umbrella," Satori said a bit meekly. "Can I come under yours?"

"No."

"W-What, why not?" Satori asked.

"I meant I don't actually have one."

Satori rolled her eyes. "So much for being Mr. Prepared."

"I don't see you having one either." The rain was coming down heavily and it would only make their path more difficult. It was already a somewhat dangerous area being high up in the cliffs, one slip and a traveler could fall to their death.

Before Satori could say anything, Calem pulled out his own Holo Caster and checked the weather forecast. Satori knew the news before he spoke it aloud.

"Dammit, it's going to rain for the next—"

"We can't just sit in a cave for four days," Satori said. "Do you just want to risk it?"

It was Fennekin's thoughts that entered Satori's mind first. I do not wish to travel with you through such a torrent. Please return me to my dry and comfortable pokeball, master.

Me too, said Pikachu. Rain sucks, if there's anything good about bowing my strength to you its that I can bypass crap like this.

Satori sighed and returned both her pokemon to their respective pokeballs. They had the privilege of being warm and protected from the elements, but Satori would have to brave them. If Calem agreed, that is.

"I don't want to," he said and took a long pause. "But I think we have to."

And so the trainers packed away all of their belongings and made them as water-tight as possible. They had to count down from three before they could actually muster the courage to step out of the protective mouth of the cave.

The torrent of rain smashed down on Satori and soaked her coat completely. Within seconds water got onto her socks and in her shoes and drenched her bag. She and Calem took as quick of a pace as they could through the rocky terrain.

They had not encountered any Pokemon at all. All the wild pokemon were apparently doing the sane thing and taking cover from the storm. Although the clouds blocked out the sun, it got even darker as night finally arrived. They were not foolish enough to travel during the night through rain, and after six hours of traveling through a non-stop downpour they needed a long, dry break.

"How about that?" Satori shouted over the noise of the downpour. She pointed towards a small overhang in the mountain. It was anything but spacious, but they could make a fire under it. Calem nodded, there was nowhere else better.

They quickly pitched the tent as much as they could under the overhang, but about half of it was exposed to the rain. Calem said this was okay, the tent could withstand it. Using Fennekin, they dried out some firewood and lit it ablaze.

Pokemon were very convenient.

Satori and Calem dried themselves and their clothes next to the large fire they had made with Fennekin's help. Always glad to be of service, master, it said cordially.

Their little shelter was nice, and Fennekin's fire kept them warm. Satori leaned against the wall of the mountain and looked out. The night rain obscured her vision, and she couldn't really see farther than a large mound a little ways out.

BOOM!

Lightning cracked and thunder bellowed so suddenly that Calem tripped over himself in fright. Satori was even more afraid, but not of the sound.

She had seen a black silhouette of a massive hound standing atop the hill she was gazing at. It was just in the moment that the lightning struck, but she knew she saw it.

"Something is there," she shouted. "Fen!"

Fennekin immediately stepped in front of Satori and prepared to fight. Calem was quick on the uptake, his hand grasping the red and white pokeball housing Frogadier. A minute went by with nothing but the sounds of rain.

Disaster is coming.

Satori heard the thought before she could see the creature.

Disaster is coming.

Its thoughts repeated. Soon after, the source of those thoughts came into the light of the fire.

The hound was of pure white and the rain slipped off its fur. Satori's eyes were drawn to its head where a long horn protruded shaped like a crescent moon. Satori fumbled with her Pokedex before she brought it out to scan what she assumed was a pokemon.

"Absol. The disaster pokemon. It seems to be able to detect imminent natural disasters. Although it is theorized that this is due to its horn no experimental data has shown this to be accurate."

Disaster is coming.

Its thoughts certainly matched up with the Pokedex, but Satori didn't know what to do with the information. The Absol continued to step closer, and Fennekin flared up and launched an ember attack at it.

Satori was surprised the flames carried so well in the rain. They struck the Absol straight and true. If the rain hindered it in any way, Satori sure couldn't tell.

But the Absol was no trifle, and lashed out back at the Fennekin. It hit hard and Satori could empathize with the pain her Fennekin felt. Satori was about to pull out Pikachu, but Fennekin stopped her. Master, let me. I can do this.

With that, Satori stepped back and let Fennekin handle the battle. She desperately tried to read the mind of the Absol, but its movements seemed to be purely on instinct. Or maybe she was just not in a clear enough state of mind to make sense of it.

Fennekin was doing just fine without her though. Its next movement was to put the campfire between it and the Absol, launching an ember and using the existing fire to enhance its power. The Absol lowered its head and gave up after that, slowly stepping back away from the group.

Perhaps someone else...

"Wait!" Satori shouted. "Please, what disaster is coming?"

Calem looked over at her strangely, but Satori didn't care. She was focused on the Absol who turned its head back towards them. Human girl, you understand me?

"Yes, I do."

The Absol looked as if it were deep in thought, but Satori knew that it wasn't really thinking much at all. She actually felt a little guilty, the Absol was concerned with the wounds Fennekin had given it. But it finally spoke. Then listen, please. Disaster is coming.

"But what disaster?"

I know not. We Absol are blessed with the future knowledge of disasters, but this one I cannot place my paw on. I know it is coming, but its nature...it is a being of pure destruction. That is all I know.

"What does that mean?" Satori pleaded. "Is it going to be a flood? Fire? Earthquake?"

The Absol shook its head. It's none of those. Those things we know of. This one, it is unlike anything that has ever happened before. It terrifies all of us Absol to our very bones.

Satori was shaking. Fear.

It was fear she was feeling. A feeling she forced onto others so often, but rarely felt herself. The lightning, the thunder, the dangerous hound, and cryptic tales of disaster. It scared her.

But then there was a bright white light. It took a moment for Satori to realize it was real and coming from Fennekin. Everyone, including the Absol, turned to look at it. Her entire body lit up white and began to morph. Satori sat back in awe as her little Fennekin's body morphed and grew under the light.

The light faded to reveal Fennekin's new form. It stood up on two legs and its tail had grown long and bushier.

Master, look, I've evolved! Its thoughts were very happy, and it warmed the fear that Satori was feeling.

Satori looked at Braixen, who was most pleased with her new form. Satori was a tinge sad to lose her cute fox-like companion, but if it was happy then she was happy.

Your Braixen loves you very much, it seems. The cold thoughts of Absol entered Satori's head once again. And you can understand me, inhuman girl. If you would permit it, I would like to accompany you.

"R-Really?" Satori asked, turning back to the Absol. It nodded, and Satori slowly pulled out an empty pokeball. She held it out, and then gently tossed it onto the Absol. It made contact with its skin, and the pokeball worked its magic and took the Absol inside of it.

It felt like she was forgetting something, but Satori just went on ahead and plugged the pokedex into the ball to scan it in more detail. It was while she was doing this that Calem walked over to her.

"Satori, you..." Calem spoke slowly and Satori looked up from the stats on her Pokedex. "You...did you speak with that Absol?"

Satori froze for a moment, but ultimately nodded. "Yes, we spoke." She had forgotten he witnessed that. "She said that some sort of disaster is coming, something really bad. But she didn't know what." Satori then ejected the pokeball from the pokedex and tossed it out, summoning the Absol back. Its fur seemed less wet and glistened in the light of the fire.

Hello again, mistress. The Absol said, and then went over to lay down by the fire.

"But how?" Calem asked. "How did you speak with her?"

Satori averted her eyes. "You already know the answer to that."

"I already—?" Calem's eyes widened. "No way, you really are a...a youkai?"

"It's kind of obvious, isn't it?" Satori lightly stroked her Third Eye and twirled the tendrils among her fingers. She sat down on a dry rock and looked at the fire.

"But you're so human-like."

Satori nodded. "Most are."

Calem sat down as well. "Jesus Satori, I can't do this. I just, I can't—"

"Sleep on it." Satori said. "At least give me that much."

The silence lasted awhile.

"I'm going to bed." Satori finally said. "Fen, ah, I mean Braixen, can you please keep up the fire?"

Gladly, master. Will you let me sleep through the day tomorrow?

"Of course. Thanks for the hard work." Satori retreated into the tent and quickly fell asleep as the rain fell from the sky above. It rained throughout the night.

When Satori awoke the next morning, it was still pounding rain down onto the tent. There were no signs of the relentless downpour ending. Satori pulled back the entrance of the tent and saw her Braixen tending the fire right where she had left it the night previous. Absol was there by the fire too, although she was fast asleep.

Good morning, master.

Satori nodded to the Braixen. "Please tend to it for a little longer, you can sleep to your heart's content once Calem and I get moving." The Braixen nodded in understanding and kept the fire burning.

Master, are you okay? How is your companion going to take the news of what you told him last night?

"If he's like everyone else he'll run away and hate me."

I hope that doesn't happen.

Satori didn't respond, and started to make breakfast. Calem came out from the tent just as she was about to take her first bite. She was hesitant to say anything, but forced out a simple "good morning" before returning to her food.

"Morning," he said in a grunt and sat down next to the fire. They ate breakfast in silence, and then packed their things in silence for the next day through the pouring rain. Braixen and Absol were returned to their pokeballs and they were all ready to continue on the route.

"It makes a lot of sense," Calem said before they started off. Satori looked inquisitively. "Everyone knew you and Rin lived with that crow youkai, and we all suspected of course. But we never knew one way or the other. Wait, is Rin—"

"Yes," Satori said.

"Ahaha...oh man..." The laugh was pathetic, and Calem trailed off into a brief silence before he spoke again. "Satori, you have to leave."

"What?"

"You're dangerous," Calem said. "Your kind, 'youkai,' they eat people. How could you possibly expect me to travel with you? Or let you travel with my friends?"

Satori didn't respond. She couldn't, after all, since Calem was right. While Satori specifically didn't need to eat humans to survive, it would be a lie to say she had never eaten it. The world used to be a different place, and she is very old.

"I'll accompany you to Ambrette," Calem said. "But then we should part ways."

And with that they moved on through the downpour, the weather reflecting the state of the minds of each of the trainers desperately running through it.

Today was even worse than the day before. The weather was about the same, but the mood between the travelers had turned from neutral to critically bad. Calem was afraid to get too close to Satori and she could tell he was distracted by the thought that she would just turn right around and start nibbling on his arm.

Satori would have done it to tease him under other circumstances. But she had enough common sense to realize it wasn't a good time.

The path ahead forced them out of their thoughts. Satori was hesitant to speak since she and Calem hadn't spoken a word since this morning, but she had no other choice. "Calem," she said, "do you know the best way cross this point?"

He shook his head. Satori sighed, and looked out at what lay ahead of them. There was a sloping path covered by rocks of all sizes. It would be dangerous enough on its own, one slip off a rock and you could keep tumbling down the slope to the base of the cliffs. But it was raining. Those rocks would be slippery. All it would take is one missed foothold.

"Take out Absol." Calem said. She probably can navigate it most safely.

Satori pulled out the pokeball and summoned the Absol she had just caught earlier. It looked around as it was summoned, getting a sense for its surroundings. Like it had that night, the rain simply seemed to glide off her fur.

What do you require of me, mistress? The Absol asked.

Satori pointed towards the rocks. "We need to traverse that, Absol. Do you think you can help us not, well, die?"

I know these parts well, I will do my best to guide you safely mistress. Absol stepped forward with purpose and leaped to a large, flat rock not too far away. It was a kind of obvious first move, but having Absol confirm it helped.

Satori and Calem had nothing else to do but follow, and they did so as carefully as they could. It was just a small jump to the flat rock. Calem went first and had no trouble. Satori followed with similar ease, and was surprised to find the rocks weren't as slippery as they looked. The rocks were rough and uneven. Maybe Satori would have disliked it in any other situation for being uncomfortable, but right now it was a godsend.

I guess if they let trainers travel it it wouldn't be too dangerous, thought Calem. Satori didn't quite share his sentiment, the terrain looked plenty dangerous to her.

They followed this pattern for awhile. Absol jumping to the next rock, testing it a bit, and allowing Satori and Calem to jump behind it. She would give Satori a few tips as well, the best place to jump and so fourth. Satori passed this information onto Calem, but each time she could tell he was reminded he was with a youkai.

They were almost to the end of the sloping area and Satori could see where the path flattened out again a little ways ahead. Just in time too, the sky was darkening and the sun fell beneath the horizon. Calem pulled out the flashlight for the last few rocks, and finally they reached the end. Safe.

Satori's heart was beating hard in her chest. They had actually did it.

But their victory would be short-lived, because they were still soaking wet and unlike last night there was no good place to make shelter. The best they could do was a small group of trees, but it only held the rain partially at bay. They had nothing better, so they pitched the tent over the muddy, grassy ground.

They then summoned their two fire pokemon, Braixen and Fletchling, to heat up the area. The two fire pokemon worked hard to heat the interior of the tent and dry the ground so the trainers could lay their bedrolls. The pokemon also helped dry their clothes, and before long they were ready to sleep. It was not comfortable at all, but it would have to do.

Calem fell asleep quickly and Satori desperately wanted to join him. But she sat up from her bedroll, staring at the back of his head. He had recalled Fletchling at her request, so only Braixen would be keeping them warm and safe.

But Satori stared at Calem with regret. She had messed up. She should have never told him the truth about her. She had thought it over during the day and decided the previous night had been a fluke. She was tired and afraid of Absol's appearance and had done her best to protect herself. A consequence of that was Calem finding out the true nature of her ability.

A mistake.

Unless she corrected it.

Braixen looked up at her suddenly. Master, what are you doing? Satori had shifted in her seat and faced Calem, the tendrils of her Third Eye twisting around her body.

"Giving myself a do-over..." She whispered nearly inaudibly. The Third Eye flared up, and Calem started shaking uncontrollably. A second later he ceased and resumed his slow breathing as if nothing had happened whatsoever.

Master, what did you do to Calem? Braixen was pleading at this point. Absol just looked on with a cold gaze, her thoughts neutral. Satori looked down at the sleeping figure of Calem.

Induced amnesia.

Satori was as her name implied, a mind-reader. But her true nature was beyond that, she was a trauma manipulator. The minds of men were her playground, and she could toy with it however she liked. She can drag the most traumatic experiences right to the surface of the mind, or she could erase them forever.

Whatever was at play that ran her ability, Satori was thankful Calem's experience counted as a 'trauma.' He would not remember the past two days. At all. Her ability was imperfect, the mind was a very complex thing. But she could erase the trauma and events connected to that would be caught in the crossfire. Enough to erase two days.

And then she rested.

Morning came, but the weather still did not let up. Satori was shaken awake by Calem. "Satori, something's wrong."

"Hmmpghpfs?" Was Satori's inelegant response. She was still in the process of waking up.

"Where...? Were are we? Weren't we in the cave?"

Satori feigned confusion for a moment before responding. "Calem, you hit your head yesterday on the rocks. You seemed fine when we went to bed."

"I can't remember any of that! How far are we to Ambrette?"

"Three days I think. I can show you on the map." They brought out the map and Satori pointed to their location. "I think we should get you to a doctor."

Satori saw Braixen glare at her in the corner of her eye. Master, you're lying to him so openly. This isn't right, I didn't even realize you had the power to do that sort of thing.

Satori and Calem packed their things, Calem much more receiving of aid than he was the previous day. Satori helped him along, but during the entire time Braixen lectured her and there wasn't a thing she could do to stop her.

Master, really, she went on. You shouldn't deprive anyone of their memories, especially of something as important as a Pokemon journey. You're robbing him of a chance to grow, to be a better and bigger person.

Satori really wanted to argue back, but she couldn't without giving herself away to Calem went on, but eventually she lost steam and went back into her Pokeball.

The next leg of the journey wasn't too bad, although the rain still dampened their moods. Calem seemed very troubled by his amnesia, but at least it was no longer directed towards Satori.

They reached a large dip in the terrain a few days later, like a basin, with hundreds of stone pillars arising from the bottom. It looked tempting to jump across the pillars like in a video game, but any sane person would climb down to the base and just walk across the bottom.

But it was raining, and the bottom was flooded.

"How deep do you think it is?" Calem asked. Satori just shrugged in response. There was no way to tell from their vantage point.

Mistress, if I may, Absol said. Before she could respond, the Absol began climbing down the side of the basin in a series of leaps. It reached the bottom and jumped into the water. It was about two feet deep, something they could easily wade through.

"Since when did you have an Absol?" Calem asked.

"Just a few days ago. It was during the time you, well, forgot."

"Oh..." Calem looked down. He was nervous about his health, understandably. "Well, let's climb down."

It wasn't difficult to wade through the water, but it was uncomfortable. Not that that was new or anything. Satori and Calem made it through and climbed out the other side with no trouble. A few hours later they finally saw a town off in the distance.

"Ambrette!" They both said at the same time. They rushed into the town and couldn't wait to take a real shower and sleep in a real bed. They hurried to the Pokemon center as quickly as they could muster, got their own separate rooms and agreed to meet up in the morning.

When Satori got into her room, she let out all of her Pokemon into the room and went to the washroom to take a long, hot shower. After she was done and feeling very refreshed, she washed Braixen and Absol.

Master... Braixen was going to start up the scolding again, but now Calem wasn't in earshot so Satori could respond.

"Braixen, please..." Satori said. "I've been listening."

I just want you to understand what you did. That's not right, master.

"You're right." Satori tied a towel around her while Braixen dried herself off with her heat. "It probably wasn't the 'just' thing to do, but I did it anyways."

If you think it wasn't right then why did you do it?

"I—" Satori looked down at her Eye. "I don't really know. I just didn't want to lose him, not like that."

People don't get do-overs, master.

"I'm not 'people' Braixen." Satori finished drying off and walked into the bedroom. "Do you too hate me because of what I do? I can read minds, erase them, toy with them."

Of course not. Braixen hopped up onto a desk to get at eye-level with Satori. I'll always follow you, master. But just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

"Thanks, Braixen."

I guess I'll stop pestering you, sorry.

"It's fine." Satori smiled and climbed into bed. "Good night, everyone," she said, and fell asleep among her three pokemon.

Morning didn't bring sunshine. In fact, the weather report had updated to show that the rain would continue for at least another three days. The weatherman on television didn't seem too surprised though, so Satori figured it was probably typical for this region. The first thing she did after getting dressed was head to the hotel lobby and buy an umbrella.

Calem had done the exact same thing, holding the newly-purchased umbrella in his hand. He nodded when Satori approached "You want to explore Ambrette?" He asked.

"Did you go see a doctor?" Satori could imagine Braixen's disapproving gaze at her continued lie.

"Yeah." Calem sighed. "He said that nobody really knows how to fix or cure amnesia, sometimes it comes back on its own and sometimes it doesn't. He said I'm perfectly healthy though otherwise."

"Oh."

"So anyways, there's an—"

"Aquarium and a museum. You want to go to the museum for fossils and to learn about mega evolution. I assume."

Calem nodded and led the way to the museum. The town was pretty small and it wasn't hard to find, although the museum itself was similarly small. They were the only people in there, and the exhibits didn't take up that much room. There was a main floor and a few side floors. There were a couple of people in white labcoats as well.

"Excuse me," Calem said to one of the employees. He was standing behind a desk and looked to be a sort of clerk, although he work a labcoat like a researcher. "We have some questions."

The clerk seemed to be excited that someone actually took an interest in his field of study. "Yes yes, please, what can I help you with?"

"Can you tell us about Pokemon fossils? I heard some rumors but is it true you can bring them back?"

The researcher had a glint in his eye. "A great question, boy. It seems too unreal to be true, doesn't it? But I can attest to the fact that it is possible. We're able to bring to life a Pokemon from its fossil. The technology behind it is very similar to how Pokeballs capture and store pokemon, as well as how the PC operates.

"Essentially, we use the fossils of deceased Pokemon to create a map of what that Pokemon's biology would have looked like in the era in which it lived. From there we can extrapolate its organs and tissue, creating a perfect representation of the Pokemon. This was no easy feat to discover and took decades of research.

"This map is then ported into a pokeball through a special machine, which allows you to summon the pokemon into the real world. Amazing, isn't it?"

Satori raised her hand as if she was a schoolgirl. "Sir, if that's true can't you just copy the map and create however many of these fossilized Pokemon as you want?"

"Oh ho ho, another fantastic question. The simple answer is that it's against the law to copy digitized pokemon."

"Wait," Calem said. "You're saying it's possible? To just copy pokemon?"

The professor nodded. "Pokemon are uploaded into a PC every day. Of course it's possible. But again, that's illegal. That isn't really my field of study, you'd have to talk to someone researching artificial intelligence. I'm more of an archeologist."

Calem and Satori took a moment to process the man's lecture. Seemed kind of absurd.

It was Calem who spoke first. "So, professor, if I found a fossil could you make a Pokemon out of it?"

The man nodded. "Yup. The process takes awhile though, about two weeks to a month. The service is free of charge. Our payment is the knowledge we gleam from every new resurrection."

"What about mega evolution? Can you tell us about mega evolution?"

Although the man had been happily recounting his knowledge, at this question he looked a bit down. "Sorry, we really don't know much. It's funny you should mention that though, I got a Holo Cast from a colleague yesterday. He's at the Glittering Cave. He says he found what he thinks is a mega stone, and a couple of other fossils. You could try asking him."

"Thanks," Calem said. "We'll do that."

"Any time. Feel free to come back if you have more questions about fossils." The man said energetically.

The path to get to the Glittering Cave was not traversable by human beings, apparently. Route Nine, as it was so called, was covered in sharp stones that had resisted all attempts to pave over them. The preferred method of transport was on the backs of Rhyhorns.

Satori didn't find the experience unpleasant, it was like sitting on top of a large moving rock. A few pokemon had tried to attack while she and Calem rode, but usually the Rhyhorn just pounded them and went on about its day.

It was not more than two hours to the cave, and she and Calem hopped off onto the platform next to the cave entrance. There was a large man there who gave them a wave, but he was just another traveler like them. The Glittering Cave gave no indication access was restricted, so Calem and Satori rushed in to get out of the rain. Their umbrellas did their job, but they weren't perfect.

The cave seemed a bit complicated at first glance, but Satori and Calem quickly learned the trick to navigating it. Before long they found themselves in a large chamber. Calem and Satori waltzed through it for a small while, admiring the sight. The cave walls were lined with shining crystals and gems, clearly the source of the cave's name. Satori couldn't help but think how much value they would have if they were mined out.

Their walk didn't last long before they were stopped by two figures, a man and a woman, wearing the most atrocious, flamboyant outfits she had ever seen. They both had bright orange leather coats and pants, with bright orange sunglasses that could not have been functional in any way.

"You two, stop." The male commanded. "This area is under the authority of Team Flare. No trespassers." Last thing we need is for two little kids walking in on our plans...

"You say that like you believe it," Satori said.

"W-What did you say to me you little brat?"

"You're pretty worried the police are going to show up at any moment, aren't you?" Satori held out her arms in an extended shrug. "Ah~ah. They could come around the corner at any moment, the boss is throwing us to the wolves in here~" Satori paused. "Right?"

Instead of responding the man brought his fingers to his mouth and whistled. It echoed throughout the cave, and a few seconds later two more people in similar outfits showed up from around the corner. The Team Flare grunt looked mighty arrogant now that he had the upper hand in numbers. "You're going to regret saying those words, girl."

At his words, each of the grunts tossed out one or two pokeballs. A grand total of six pokemon appeared all looking ready to attack. Calem gave Satori a look that conveyed just how pissed he was Satori got him into this mess.

"H-Hey, that's not regulation," he protested. But his protests were lost in the noise of Satori tossing out all three of her Pokeballs at once. Pikachu, Braixen and Absol appeared and took note of the situation immediately.

"I think we're well past regulation," Satori said to Calem, although the Flare members could hear it. "This one's for real." At her words, her three pokemon tensed up.

Calem got the message and tossed out three of his own. Frogadier, Fletchinder and a small cat-like pokemon that Satori didn't recognize. She noted the new addition and the evolution of Fletchling—had Calem gone out and trained on his own before Satori woke up this morning?

Just like that, the battlefield was leveled. The tensions were high, and all at once the Pokemon ran towards each other and began to battle. It was chaotic, and even with her ability Satori couldn't keep track of it all. Regular pokemon battles were one at a time, but right now it was little more than a brawl.

Satori had only seen Absol battle once, when she faced off against it on the night Calem would never remember. But she quickly realized it wasn't giving it its all that night, because right now Absol was terrifying. She was engaged with the Houndour and was superior to it in nearly every way. They were similar to two dogs fighting, but Absol moved with such grace and finesse the Houndour couldn't land a hit. Then Absol would move in with a devastating swipe.

After the Houndour looked sufficiently weakened, Satori gave her first command. "Absol, target the trainer!" She shouted it as loud as she could with as much malice as she could muster in the heat of the battle.

Absol processed the command immediately, and leaped away from the Pokemon fray towards one of the Team Flare grunts. He recoiled in surprise, but was no match for Absol. She opened her jaw wide and bit into the grunt's arm, tackling him to the ground. Absol thrashed her head and even in the heat of the battle the sound of the man's bones cracking could be heard.

Satori didn't need to say anything else, Absol moved off the downed trainer and attacked the next one. She was quick on the uptake, and her Croagunk ran to interfere. But Satori was on full offense.

"Braixen!"

Braixen rushed towards the trainer who had foolishly turned her back to the fire fox. Braixen's entire body erupted into flame and hit the trainer, smashing her to the walls of the cavern. Several ribs would have broken for sure and her hair was singed, although her suit seemed to be flame retardant.

The others got the message, and quickly fled past Satori and Calem out of the cavern. They left their pokemon behind, but at the sight of their fleeing masters they followed. The two injured limped away after them, and Calem and Satori didn't bother to stop them.

After they had left, Calem started yelling.

"SATORI, YOU CAN'T DO THAT!"

"Do what, exactly?"

"You had Absol attack the trainer." Calem said loudly. "Pokemon are really dangerous, you can't sick them on people. You could go to jail for the rest of your life for that."

"Did you not grasp the situation? We weren't playing a game there, Calem." Satori said annoyed. "Those guys were up to something seriously not good, and would have done the same to us. It was self-defense."

Calem backed down. It was strange, he usually didn't back down from arguments with Satori. "Dammit. Dammit dammit dammit." He cursed. "You're right, I'm sorry, I'm just...I mean, I never..."

"—Thought you'd have to defend yourself for real." Satori finished his thought for him. He nodded.

"You still started it though."

She just rolled her eyes. At this point Absol walked up to them. She had blood over her mouth, which did not alleviate Calem's worry. Satori ignored him and bent down and brought a tissue to wipe Absol's mouth.

Mistress, was that sufficient?

"That was excellent, Absol. Thank you. You attacked so quickly they didn't have time to attack me back. I was completely open."

I was aware, mistress, which is why I was so ruthless.

Braixen and Pikachu trotted up as well. I had ya' covered, boss, said the Pikachu. That Croagunk was probably going to try something, but its trainer pulled it back before I could defend you from it. What a wuss. Satori laughed and pat the Pikachu a few times on the head.

"I don't think we've seen the last of them," Calem remarked solemnly. Satori was forced to agree, but for now they scared them off. They could contact the authorities later.

In other news, the researcher managed to stay alive. In fact, he was better than ever. When Calem asked him if he was okay and if Team Flare hurt him, he responded with "Team who?" Then he proceeded to describe how he had been here in his little nook for the past fifteen hours and didn't realize other people were in the cave.

Satori was going to speak, but before she could Absol walked out ahead of her towards the researcher. Absol was careful with her steps and when she got close he laid down and pointed his nose towards the ground. Satori realized that the researcher, and now Absol, were standing amidst several bones.

The researcher looked a bit down seeing Absol. "You...maybe shouldn't have brought your Absol here..." he said slowly. Satori looked at Absol and felt her sadness, although her thoughts were not coherent.

"Why, what's wrong?" Calem asked.

"These are Absol bones," the man explained pointing towards the bones. "Some sort of event happened her ages ago that caused the deaths of several Absol. Your own Pokemon seems to be aware of this."

Satori and Calem were saddened at the news, and let Absol continue with her mourning. She picked herself up after a minute and retreated back next to Satori. Forgive my rudeness, mistress. Satori just shook her head and drew the Absol into a hug.

"It's okay, girl."

After a brief moment the researcher looked up from his excavation. "In any case you two, what did you want to talk to me about?"

"Ah, right," Calem said. "We talked to a guy over at the museum who said you found a mega stone? We're trying to learn more about them."

"Oh ho ho, yes indeed." The man looked a bit brighter and tip-toed out of the excavation area. Once clear he waltzed over to a small worktable and picked a glittering stone off it. "I found this among the site right there," he explained. "I haven't been able to run any analysis on it, but would you like to hear my current hypothesis?"

"Sure."

"Excellent. You see, I found this mega stone among the remains of these Absol. I suspect that the stone will somehow be related to Absol in some way. Most of the mega stones we have found so far have been at sites like this. Unnatural deaths of Pokemon that were far from dying of natural causes. I suspect that when a Pokemon is in serious danger, it can go above and beyond its normal capabilities and mega evolve."

Calem spoke before Satori had time to be suitably impressed. "But that's just your own suspicion?" He asked.

The man nodded. "The hypothesis is in proper circulation, but the honest truth is there are not many mega stones. I think we've only uncovered, well, eight or nine? They're usually handed off to trainers. Regretfully we can't actually learn a whole lot just putting the stones under a microscope."

Satori looked down at her Absol. Her movements were still a bit muted and Satori could feel she was still sad. Satori looked back up to the researcher. "Can I have it?"

"Hmm?"

"The stone. You said you pass off the stones to trainers, so I would like it."

The researcher chuckled a bit which Satori didn't like, but she didn't say anything. "You're pretty eager," he said. "I don't think it will be a problem, but it will take about a week or so to run the stone through the standard tests, catalog it and get it verified. After that, I'll easily hand it off. Well, there will be paperwork, so maybe not easy."

The man rambled on a bit before Satori and Calem decided to head back to Ambrette. The researcher came with them, his work mostly complete for the day. They rode the Rhyhorns back to Ambrette in the rain, but the umbrellas kept the worst off.

They parted ways with the researcher at the museum. The two trainers headed to the police station instead to report what happened. Every town had one, although Ambrette's was little more than a small kiosk.

There was a pleasant-looking woman sitting inside flipping through a magazine, although when she realized the two kids were actually approaching her she put it away. "Hello," she said warmly. "I'm Officer Jenny. What can I do for you two?"

"We were attacked earlier today," Calem said. There was no real point in lying.

The officer turned serious very quickly. "Please, tell me what happened." The officer opened the door to the kiosk and invited the two children in. There were a couple of chairs inside they could sit on, but it was far from spacious.

Calem did most of the talking, Satori only filling in details she found relevant that Calem had overlooked. The officer listened intently as the two explained everything, and when they were finished she breathed a sigh of somewhat relief.

"I'm glad you two are okay. It seems like you were more than capable of defending yourselves, but the smart thing to do would have been to run away and come here first before antagonizing them. That sort of thing is what we're here for."

"Sorry, ma'am."

"In any case, Team Flare has been on our watch list for quite a while. They've been stirring up trouble here and there but there doesn't seem to be a reason to their actions. For now we're content with calling them a terrorist organization, but there's a few theories going around that they're actually up to something big.

"If you run into them again, please don't try to fight them. From your story it sounds like you took care of them fairly easily, but others in their organization pose a serious threat."

The kids nodded in agreement, and the officer offered them some donuts as comfort food. They both took her up on her offer, and left the kiosk feeling much better. Satori hadn't really planned on going to the authorities, but Calem insisted.

Satori had to admit he was right. She did feel better.

Unfortunately, now with everything squared away Satori and Calem had quite a lot of time to kill. The mega stone would take a week to get ready and Calem would have to wait up to four for his fossilized pokemon.

They fell into a pretty solid routine of training their pokemon during the day, and to their sheer and utter joy the sun broke through the rainclouds.

After a week, just as the researcher said Satori found herself holding a white and blue polished stone. Absolite. She didn't know what to do with it, but her Absol seemed attached to it so it clearly had some sort of interesting properties. Then again, that was the point of the investigation.

Satori didn't have an interest in sticking around for another three weeks while Calem waited on his fossil, so they parted ways in the aquarium. The route to Cyllage was a very easy walk along the beach, so Satori wasn't worried. It was nice. Satori didn't really enjoy interacting with other people all that much, she usually left conversations more stressed out than when she entered them.

Cyllage was interesting. It was clear where the town derived its name from, it was entirely centered around bicycles. A massive bicycle path circled around the entire town, climbing up the mountain Satori had been atop of just a few weeks prior. Hundreds of people were cycling, far outnumbering the simple pedestrians walking from building to building.

"I don't like it here."

Since she didn't have much of an interest in a bicycle, Satori couldn't help but feel a little out of place. She was unsure if Shauna and the others would still be here, but it wasn't at the forefront of Satori's mind. She wandered around the town a little bit, but besides cycling there wasn't much to do.

Besides the gym, of course. With nowhere else to turn, Satori ultimately found herself heading to the local gym. Satori had every intention of going all out, and without an audience there would be no one to get upset at her actions. Well, besides her opponent.

When Satori entered the gym, her look immediately soured. The gym was set in a massive cavern in the side of the mountain, and in the center was a massive rock-climbing wall. There were numerous ledges, and Satori could see people training and climbing. It wasn't hard to figure out what was waiting at the top—the leader.

Unfit isn't the best word to describe Satori, but she doesn't exactly enjoy being active. Rock climbing, cycling, roller blading. Just doesn't do it for her. But she doesn't have a choice for this gym, she's going to have to climb that wall. There were mats laid down so no one would be seriously injured if they fell, but other than that there were no restraint or safety devices. If she let go, she'd fall.

The first section wasn't too bad though, there were numerous handholds at she skittered up it in just a minute or two. But she had a long way to go.

She walked around a short pathway and passed by a man resting. He gave her a wave, but otherwise didn't hinder her progress. An unwritten rule was that if a trainer was gunning for the leader, the others in the gym would leave them alone. Going off against a gym leader required one to be at full strength. So no one bothered Satori as she ascended up the mountain.

The higher Satori got, the more difficult the climb was. And that wasn't just because she became tired, the handholds thinned out and Satori had to make a few jumps she was hardly comfortable making. This didn't always work, and she fell a couple times. But the wall was in sections, so even a fall only lost ten or twenty feet of progress.

After what was probably an hour, much longer than Satori had anticipated, she reached the final handhold and dragged herself to the top of the spire. She didn't even bother to look around at her surroundings at first, she just tried to catch her breath.

When she finally looked up, she saw a man standing on the other side, arms crossed with a smile on his face. He had dark skin and black hair, and his outfit was in shades of gray. It looked more functional than fashionable.

"Welcome to the top," he said cheerfully. "Did you want to challenge me, or were you just challenging yourself?"

Satori was still taking deep breaths. "Both, I guess." She said between huffs. It was the answer he wanted to hear, which is why she said it. She didn't admit she would have rather not climbed up a damn mountain to battle.

The man laughed, but gave Satori as long as she needed to prepare herself. A few people near the top of the gym noticed the imminent leader challenge though, and started to watch. She ignored them to the best of her ability.

Satori finally got herself together and stood up to face the leader. But it occurred to her she didn't even know his name. "Excuse me," she said sheepishly. "Sorry, what's your name?"

"Grant," he said. "Yours?"

"Satori."

He looked surprised. "Satori? Aren't you the girl who made Vi cry?"

She frowned. "I hope that's not what I become famous for."

"It was a pretty low blow."

"That's what I do." Satori shrugged. "Trainers are usually the weakest link in a battle, so it only makes sense to target them."

Grant smiled, a response Satori didn't predict. "You might consider phrasing that, 'trainers are as much a part of the battle as the pokemon are.'"

"That is better."

"I'm surprised you already know that lesson. Most people don't figure it out until they go to the Anistar gym."

Grant pulled out the roster he would use for the battle. There were only two pokeballs on it, compared to Satori's three. As far as she knew each trainer was allowed to use as many Pokemon as they wanted, but it felt kind of unfair that she had more than him.

Satori tried reading Grant's thoughts to figure out what Pokemon he would toss first, but it wasn't helpful. She got the name, but she didn't recognize it. So Satori just chose to go with Pikachu first. They both tossed out their Pokemon, and the battle was on.

Grant's first pokemon was Amaura, what the Pokedex identified as the "tundra pokemon." It apparently lives in cold climates, and it wasn't a leap for Satori deduce it was an ice type. Braixen would have been a better choice, but Pikachu at least won't be at a disadvantage.

Pikachu darted out before Satori could give him commands, and went to slam the Amaura. It connected, but the Amaura didn't look any worse for wear and retaliated in kind. However, Amaura was slow and therefore it was easy for Satori to predict its movements and relay them to her Pikachu.

Amaura and Grant quickly stopped with the physical confrontation, the quicker Pikachu was too good at dodging attacks. Especially with Satori's insight. Amaura's next attack was a strange, colorful beam that Grant identified as Aurora Beam. It weakened Pikachu, but Satori still felt she had the upper hand.

"Amaura, take down!" Grant shouted suddenly. Amaura, hearing the command, came straight after the Pikachu leaving its entire guard down. A foolish move.

"Pikachu, attack," Satori shouted in response. The two Pokemon collided and kicked up some dust from the arena. To Satori's dismay, Pikachu looked down for the count.

O...Ouch... It was still conscious, but barely. He had gotten a good scratch on Amaura, but the force of its attack was too great. Satori recalled the Pikachu and sent out Braixen.

Grant audibly sighed, and Satori laughed. Braixen took down the weakened Amaura with a single ember attack. Satori felt she still had the advantage, although Grant didn't seem worried. He summoned his next and final Pokemon. It was short and tough-looking with a massive jaw. Tyrunt.

"Braixen, flame charge." Satori commanded. The Braixen obeyed and rammed into the Tyrunt, but it didn't even seem to notice the attack. Grant shouted something and quickly Braixen was on the defensive.

The Tyrunt charged towards Braixen, opening its massive jaw and biting down. It caught Braixen around the waist like a large piece of meat, and started thrashing. Satori watched in horror at the attack and Braixen's thoughts were frightening. Satori held out a Pokeball and recalled Braixen as quick as she could.

One left. Satori knew that Absol was probably the strongest of her roster, but she was also the newest. They didn't have quite the connection with each other that Satori had with Braixen and Pikachu. So Satori looked to enhance her advantage.

She threw out Absol, but her first command was to buy time and watch the Tyrunt's movements. Meanwhile, Satori directed her attention to Grant. In Satori's first gym battle Viola hadn't needed any serious prodding, but Grant was preparing for anything Satori would say. So she wouldn't say anything, she'd just go out in full.

Absol, huh, that might be tricky if it's well trained. Perhaps I can... No, she had to go deeper. I'll win this for sure. Not that useful, deeper. Have to be on top. Number one. Striving higher. Satori was getting close. Grant was focused on climbing higher and bettering himself. Not unusual, but why? Have to. Why? To better myself. It was circular.

Tyrunt lunged towards Absol, but she was quick on her feet and hopped back. The arena was limited in size, and too many retreating steps could get a pokemon up against the edge of the spire. But Satori didn't pay attention, hopefully Absol knew enough about avoiding that situation since she lived on the cliffside.

Grant's trauma was light. It was a shame, but not everyone went through terrible ordeals. Satori had actually been somewhat lucky with Viola. That she had lost a Pokemon in the worst way possible was easy to exploit. But Grant hadn't lost anyone. His desire was to rise higher. His reason: he had none. That was his trauma. No motivation behind his strive for excellence, he just did it.

Satori didn't hesitate in pulling it up from the depths of his mind. At the same moment, she shouted out towards Absol to go on the offensive.

Her maneuver was effective, but only briefly. Satori scanned Grant's thoughts as she made him face his trauma, but was displeased with the results. Why am I trying to win this battle...this girl hurt Vi...It's my job to be a challenge for people like her... He was quick with rationalizations, the bane of Satori's ability.

But the momentary distraction choked Grant's commands by a second, which allowed Absol to get a clean hit on Tyrunt. Absol was a heavy hitter, and did serious damage to the little dinosaur-like Pokemon. There was no type advantage or disadvantage to be had, but Absol didn't need it.

Satori's ability would be of no more use, some people were just too damn secure with themselves to be broken. Satori directed her Third Eye back to Tyrunt and tried to read its own instinctive thoughts to better direct Absol. Absol was quicker than Tyrunt, but not very hardy. If Tyrunt got its jaws around Absol, then Satori knew it was as good as over just as it had been with Braixen.

The battle grew a bit boring. There was a lot of jumping forward and back, Absol not daring to get too close and Satori not giving any commands when it was safe or not. Grant also had the same problem, his pokemon was slow and if it went on the offensive Absol might take advantage of the decrease in defense.

Whoever hit first would win.

Satori thought of what to do, but nothing came to mind. She felt helpless again, it was in the hands of her Pokemon now. She couldn't think of a weakness in Grant to exploit, there was nothing to do. She just watched as the Absol and Tyrunt faced each other down. They weren't nearly as fast as Pikachu or Frogadier, but it was still quicker than Satori could react.

It had taken less than a second for Tyrunt to get Absol in its jaws.

She had lost.