"You are doing great, Fuzzy, just a little longer."

Our seafaring journey to Unova is a lengthy one, and since I happen to be travelling alongside two Pillar level trainers I made use of this opportunity to learn a thing or two from them. Volkner had told me before that Elesa is the expert on inducing paralysis through electricity, and so I asked her if she could impart to me a thing or two about it.

Currently, I am having Fuzzy undergo the practice Elesa had suggested Fuzzy try out in his attempt in mastering Thunder Wave. Thunder Wave may be a basic move but its practical applications are extremely useful, especially so for the nature of my current job as I may be needed to apprehend individuals swiftly without inflicting physical harm.

However, controlling the output is a tricky thing when applying Thunder Wave on humans. Our bodies are considerably weaker than pokemon, and when the Thunder Wave in question has too little output it may turn out to be nothing more than an annoying sting, too much and it may cause cardiac arrest and subsequently death. As Elesa told me, to train an electric type to use Thunder Wave to incapacitate humans is to be able to control electricity down to its finest details.

Luckily for me, she did bring along a device that she uses to train electric types how to better control electricity. It's not large, just a little bigger than the size of my hand and it comes with wires attached to it. The electric type undergoing the training will hold onto the exposed end of the wires while releasing electricity and the trainer can read off both the released current and voltage from the device itself. Elesa also provided me with a chart that shows the effects different ranges of current and voltage have on the human body. I am trying to have Fuzzy maintain his electrical output at "Pain, with loss of voluntary muscle control" for as long as possible. According to the chart, this would be an output at approximately 76mA for men and 51 mA for women. Fuzzy is currently trying his best to control and maintain his output at 76mA for as long as possible. It was unexpectedly difficult to maintain a steady control of electrical output because Fuzzy is so used to discharging a lot more power rather than keeping it down.

The moment the timer counted down to zero Fuzzy tossed the wires aside with a cheer before flying excitedly around the room in circles, squeaking at the top of his lungs. He's probably just glad that this is all over, although once he is able to easily maintain a consistent electrical output for at least ten minutes I will have to switch up the intensity of this training method. According to Elesa, to truly master electrical type moves is to be extremely particular about "consistency" and "accuracy". Once Fuzzy completes this step of the training, he must be able to release exactly the needed output on command with as little fluctuations in the output as possible. Meaning to say, if I command Fuzzy to use Thunder Wave on an adult male for incapacitation, he must immediately be able to release exactly 76mA in the form of a Thunder Wave. It is easy to understand the workings in theory, but extremely difficult to make it possible in reality.

For her to incorporate such a level of detail for a simple training method, it is no wonder that even Volkner said that Elesa is the leading expert on inducing paralysis through electric type moves. For an Electric Specialist like Elesa, power isn't exactly a requirement for her to win her battles because she can always guarantee her opponents' paralysis before taking advantage of that status condition to wear them down. Electric Specialists like Volkner on the other hand, are also capable of inducing paralysis, but the chances of their paralysis taking effect on their opponents are smaller than trainers like Elesa who had honed their art in the craft. Instead, trainers like Volkner forgo the benefits of paralysis in exchange for training their electric types to harness the power needed to blow everything up in one powerful discharge. This is something that I only realised upon interacting with both experts, that there can be differences between Specialists of the same specialisation. There can be specialisations within specialisations if one were to delve deep enough into the strengths and characteristics of a pokemon typing.

In that case, what are the other specialisations for Specialists of other typings? While I am more well-read than most and have more hands-on experiences thanks to my family background, my deeper knowledge regarding pokemon and their training methods are largely centered around rock and ghost types because that was where I first started out. My relationship with Roxanne and discussion with her about Stone Edge and Sandstorm in my attempt to teach Kratos how to command the sands gave me a much deeper understanding of rock types; my endeavour to assist Agatha in compiling various knowledge about ghost types and publishing them into a book increased my exposure about ghost types and what they can do. Should my specialisation delve deeper into the typings that I am already familiar with, or should I widen my pool of knowledge and start learning more about other typings? Maybe starting from Electric types since I am now acquainted with Volkner and Elesa?

I can see why very few trainers ended up becoming Generalists; it is very difficult to be a proper one. There is only so much time a person could have on their hands yet an endless array of knowledge to learn, internalise, and then decide upon the most suitable specialisation method for each eighteen known pokemon typings. This is discounting the peculiarities of the specific pokemon species in question, their quirks, and other factors that may pop up during the duration of the training. It would require not only consistent effort and a wide range of knowledge from the trainer, but also a certain amount of innate talent for anyone to become a true Generalist.

Good thing I'm not aiming to be a Generalist or the strongest trainer in the world. I just need to be strong enough to protect myself in order to carry on with my dream to travel the world.

I do have a slightly deeper interest in ghost types due to my affinity with them, and also because of my recent conversation with Looker. I still find myself sometimes wishing to have similar abilities to my other reincarnated friends, to be able to communicate and bond with the pokemon types we were "fated" to be with as per the prophecy. As far as I know (with the exception of Jayce since I never talked to him) every single one of them are able to understand and talk to them, sometimes even capable of locating them without using any of their five senses. Shannon is even capable of calling wild psychics in the vicinity to aid her, a feat that I feel is often overlooked and underrated.

My "ability" is rather plain in comparison. While ghost types are attracted to my presence if I am in their vicinity, I am still not yet able to hold conversations with them nor have them aid me if I do not first give them an incentive to do so. Is there a way for Ability Holders to develop their "abilities" even further? Morty had said that Ability Holders had existed for a long time even if they are few in number, surely someone had tried to hone their abilities at a point in time? There was even an order created by Ability Holders for people with similar abilities, right? The Aura Guardians of Sinnoh, people who were able to harness the powers of Aura? Not much was known about them but I do know that whatever little myths that were still passed around spoke of them practicing their abilities to harness aura. If the abilities of Aura Guardians are like what Morty said, the ability of humans to harness the energy used by fighting types, wouldn't that mean that Ability Holders of other types are also able to better harness their respective abilities with enough practice? Assuming that they are using a workable training method, of course.

If so, what would it mean to be a Ghost type Ability Holder? What would my "powers" be beyond attracting ghost types to me and make me likable to them?

"What do you think? If being an Ability Holder grants me a specific type of ability, what would it be?" I asked Dolly as I hugged her close while lying on the bed in my cabin room. Dolly simply chittered while squirming excitedly in my arms and I tried my best to listen, trying to see if I can understand her like what the rest of my fellow reincarnators can do with their respective typings.

No luck so far.

"It would be pretty cool if I could control shadows like you can, or maybe just float around and be intangible to scare the hell out of everyone. What else are ghost types known to do anyway?"

Feeling curious, I flipped open my pokedex and filtered the list to only show entries of ghost type pokemon. Let's see, according to pokedex entries, the generic known behaviour or beliefs of ghost types are preying on unsuspecting travellers, sucking out people's souls and spiriting them away to the afterlife, coming into existence after a spirit with a strong attachment to the world of the living inhabits an object to drain the lifeforce of anyone who touches them…

Doesn't that just sound great.

"Let's hope and pray that my so-called ability never transforms me into a soul-sucking possessed husk of a human that spirit souls into the afterlife," I said out loud as Wacky let out a loud groan of disappointment at my declaration while Dolly simply cackled loudly. A quick browse through the pokedex entries of documented behaviour of ghost types had made me realise once again that Agatha was right, I am very lucky to be favoured by ghosts. Most species of ghost types, including gengars and banettes, are not painted in a good light due to their violent and unpredictable behaviours. Gengars were known to destroy entire human settlements to feast on human flesh and sate their battlelust, trevenants trap people in forests and watch them die a slow death before consuming them, banettes were known to specifically target and kill human children, cofagrigus mummifies anyone unlucky enough to be their prey, palossands eats and possess living beings in order to grow with children as their favourite type of prey, and litwick and honedge quite literally sucks the life out of people.

I have met most of the ghost types mentioned at some point in time and none have ever shown hostile behaviour to me before, which is in hindsight, a frankly impossible thing to ever have happened if I ever used my common sense. Maybe meeting Macky and Dolly so early on in my life have dulled any sense of wariness I have for the violent temperament of ghost types. Maybe I really had taken my ability to freely interact with ghosts for granted and underestimated the value it would mean to any aspiring Ghost Specialists.

If that is the case, maybe it would be better for me to dive deeper into specialising in ghost types after all? If I can really get ghosts to be amiable with me no matter the species, then it would make training them extremely easy as compared to pokemon of other typings. Of course, I would need to first meet and interact with other species of ghost type pokemon which I have not yet met in order to gauge the extent of my ability to get them to like me. The dusknoir which I had given Akamu was a fine example that not all ghosts will take a liking to me.

Should I follow Volkner's example and decide to specialise on what I am naturally good at? I don't know, but it is definitely something worth thinking about.

It was many days later that I finally had the chance to bump into Grimsley, who we could never seem to spot even if we all know that he is on the same ship as us. I have three dark types on my team so naturally, I took the opportunity to consult him about dark types and how to properly train one. While not rare, Dark Specialists are still fairly uncommon within the trainer community and Grimsley is widely acknowledged as one of, if not the best Dark Specialists in the world right now.

"How to train dark types?" Grimsley gave me a questioning look, his face scrunched up in what I would think is in slight distaste. He took another sip of his tea from where he is seated in the cafeteria before elaborating further.

"That question alone tells me enough that you have no idea what you are dealing with. At your current level, you don't train dark types, you get them to work properly with each other."

"You don't train them at all?" I asked, feeling baffled that an Elite Four and Dark Specialist would say that to train dark types is to not train them at all. That doesn't make sense, we are called pokemon trainers for a reason.

"If by training you mean getting stronger in the conventional way, then yes, what we can do for them is to teach them how to better harness dark type energy, help them increase their proficiency in dark type moves, and increase their power output, but that is more applicable for trainers closer to the level of a Pillar. How to increase a pokemon's firepower is knowledge that all trainers will learn given time, they are not a secret and you can find your answers as easily as searching it up on the internet. You need to understand that dark types as a species are weak, so for trainers at your level, training a dark type to possess firepower equivalent to pokemon of other types can only bring you so far before you reach a plateau. If you want to level the playing field for dark types there's nothing much we can do to make them stronger beyond making them work with each other. "

"I'm not following," I confessed. "I have a tyranitar and a pangoro and they are plenty strong to me. What about the hydreigon species? They are really popular among veteran trainers who are able to tame them."

Grimsley gave an exasperated sigh at my remark, his free hand scratching his liepard at the back of its ears. The large feline gave a content yawn before returning back to its nap.

"Dark types are weak," Grimsley reiterated. "This is fairly obvious if you ever bothered to observe them as a whole and their characteristics. Take a look at your pokedex and the entries of every single dark type known to us, go watch some decent documentaries that actually film the behaviours they display in their natural habitat. Go and take some time to think on why there are only three Dark Specialists recognised by the PWL as Pillars and why not every single one of them has either a tyranitar or a hydreigon on their team. They are Pillars, they have both the resources and the connections to get any pokemon they want on their main team but yet not every one of us do so. There is a very good reason for this, so go and think deeper about it and come back to me again once you have an answer, then we will continue this discussion."

Grimsley left shortly after that, leaving me to ponder about the words he said but I just could not make any heads or tails out of it.

So, I did what he told me to do. I looked through the pokedex entries for every single dark type known to us, searched for documentaries about dark types on the net and watched them, and thought long and hard about why there are only three Dark Specialists in the world who are also Pillars recognised by the PWL but for the life of me I just couldn't come up with an answer. Dark Specialists are uncommon, but they are not rare like Ghost Specialists are. Yet, there are currently only three Pillars in the world who are Dark Specialists but five Pillars who are Ghost Specialists if I include the recently retired Agatha. It really doesn't make sense but I just cannot think of a reason for it.

"Oh, Grimsley actually bothered to teach you? Surpriseeee, never thought I would live to see the day where he actually imparts his words of wisdom to anyone else," Elesa joked during one of the mealtimes that we had together. She seems to know him well, so I thought that it might help if I brought my queries up to her.

"Grimsley is a very hands-off kind of mentor, he prefers that you learn through experience and only give you more advice if you really cannot come up with an answer after you did some thinking on your own. Let me guess, he told you to look through your pokedex and watch some documentaries, didn't he? What have you learnt about dark types from there?"

"As a type, they are very much average in terms of combat abilities and that is putting it nicely," I listed out my findings while continuing to finish my dessert. "They have horrible defenses, although most of them have enough speed or offensive capabilities to help them survive their battles. The documentaries I watched that filmed them in their natural habitat never showed them taking on their foes alone and if they do, it is almost guaranteed that they will lose and be eaten."

"You actually hit the nail on the head for that one," Elesa pointed out. "Grimsley would have told you that dark types are weak, right? It is the first thing he will always say when anybody discusses dark types with him. And it is true, the centuries worth of studies that researchers have done about them and compiled into the pokedex, what you have told me about them never taking on their foes alone because they will fail otherwise, it all points to this fact, right?"

"Okay, I get that they are naturally weaker than other typings if they fought their battles individually, but that really doesn't answer the question on how to train them to be stronger. It also doesn't answer his question on why there are only three Dark Specialists recognised by the PWL as Pillars of their regions and I just don't know how to find that answer."

"I could tell you," Elesa spoke while eating another spoon of her yogurt, "but that would defeat the purpose of Grimsley asking you to find out for yourself. I can give you two hints though."

Elesa raised two fingers in the air.

"One, when a Specialist has dabbled in their craft for long enough, they tend to subconsciously take after some characteristics of their specialised typings as well. Like how pokemon resembles their trainers after living with them for a long time, the opposite applies to us trainers too. How many bona fide Dark Specialists have you met so far? I mean the truly skilled ones."

"Grimsley, Sidney, and… maybe Jayce?" I listed off the top of my head, a little unsure about the last candidate. "I never talked to him because he was unconscious when I shipped him out of that warehouse, but I saw for myself how his pokemon fought. It was… I don't know how to describe it with just a few words, but it was very impressive in a very indescribable sort of way."

"You saw his pokemon in action? Good!" Elesa clapped her hands once with a bright smile on her face. "A Rocket Executive like him has to be at least Pillar level in overall skill, so to actually see a pokemon team like his fight at their full strength is a valuable learning experience for a young trainer like you. Try to recall how they reacted and fought, I'm sure that the answer Grimsley wants you to seek is in there. Now, hint number two."

Elesa ate another spoonful of yogurt before continuing.

"Before I drive into my main point, let me tell you a little of how I was selected to be a Gym Leader so that you can see the picture that I am trying to show you. I am not the most powerful Pillar. Not in Unova, and definitely not across the world. In fact, I'm not even the most powerful trainer among the candidates who were running for the position of Nimbasa Gym Leader when it happened, not even among the top five. I'm simply skilled and powerful enough to hit the bare requirements to be considered as a trainer to possess "Pillar level strength", that was all. Still, why was I the one selected to fill that role? Why me, when I'm not even the most powerful trainer around?"

"There's… something else. You have something else that more than makes up for your shortcomings, something valuable enough to be considered by the Unova League that you are more suitable than the other candidates to be a Gym Leader."

"Bingo!" Elesa clapped her hands once in excitement. "Now, who am I, Vel? Besides being a Gym Leader, who am I? What am I known for?"

"You are a world-renowned supermodel."

"That's right. I was chosen to be NImbasa's Gym Leader because I am a world-renowned supermodel."

"... Are you serious?"

Elesa simply smiled and leaned forward, lazily resting her chin on the back of her hand.

"There is so much more to being a Gym Leader than handing out badges. Possessing the minimal strength needed is just the basic requirement when the Leagues are choosing their Pillars. We are the protectors of our cities, the literal pillars holding up the entire region and the representation of our region's military strength. More than that, we need to be able to have influence on the people not just around us and in our cities, but also the people in the region we are in and preferably, to even extend it beyond our region's borders. We must possess influence so powerful that people cannot ignore to be considered a proper Gym Leader. Be it Lt. Surge, Clemont, Wattson, or Volkner; I myself have always kept a close tab on my fellow Electric Specialist Pillars and you seem to be rather close to Volkner so tell me, how influential is he?"

"Everyone from all around the world had at least heard of his name."

"Yes, that's right. He is one of the rarer kinds even among the world's Pillars, not only possessing the strength to quite possibly rival any Champion, but also possess skills that make him irreplaceable. Team Galactic, remember? Do you know how impressive it is for nobody among the Indigo Pillars to object to Lance appointing him, a foreigner, to spearhead Operation Unity in Indigo's fight against the Rockets? It's because of the reputation he made for himself during his time as Sunyshore's Gym Leader. Have you ever wondered just how impossible it is for him to be able to marry Jasmine, a Johtonian Gym Leader? Of course, I don't know what actually goes on behind the scenes, but I can safely tell you that all of it, I will bet that it's only possible because he has the influence needed to make it happen no matter how the various Champions and Presidents objected to him marrying Jasmine. That kind of charisma and ability is what the Leagues look out for when choosing their Pillars and in the grand scheme of things, their combat abilities are secondary unless we are talking about the Champions, who are expected to excel in everything."

Elesa ate another spoonful of her yogurt before continuing.

"Now, there's me. Am I influential? I am. Unovans love me, my name itself is a household brand that has spread to all corners of the region. I have so many fans and supporters that a single post on my social media could sway the public's opinion on any matter. Are my supporters limited to just the Unova region? No, because as you said, I am a world-renowned supermodel. Where do I fit into the equation then, where do I belong and what is my role among Unova's Thirteen Pillars? It's very easy to understand if you think about it for just five minutes. I am the face of Unova. My role is to represent Unova and to ensure that Unovans are always on the side of the Unova League through my influence. That is my power, my influence, the one thing that none of my competitors could bring to the table and why I was chosen to be Nimbasa's protector. The Plasma problem back home, my influence among Unovans was what prevented Team Plasma from converting more people to their cause because I openly denounced them. With just a few words posted on my social media I had effectively prevented thousands of Unovans from sympathising with their cause and turned the public opinion against them. How useful is that? That is the kind of influence and power I have, the most lethal weapon that Unova can use in our current war with the Plasmas. The hiccup with Team Rocket aside, this was why I was originally sent here to Indigo for the talks in the first place, because it is far easier to promote the cooperation and push for the alliance our Champions are pushing for if someone like me could do the publicity work. Anyway, I have digressed from the original matter at hand. Here's my hint number two."

Elesa straightened her back a little more as she started to drive home her point.

"I may have nagged too much, but I do hope that I impressed upon you the power that influence can bestow upon you after all that talk. I'm not sure if you realise it, Vel, but you are a Vera. That name alone is power, your family name alone means that you will naturally have connections to people in high places. Be it for work or for your own personal endeavours, it would be a waste to not make use of it, agree? Grimsley is not the only Dark Specialist in the world qualified to be a Pillar. Don't you have nobody at all to help you refer to another Dark Specialist to help clarify your doubts? Your family has a close working relationship with the Stones if I recall my facts right and you seem to be close to him too, wouldn't Steven Stone know a skilled Dark Specialist or two that are able to help you?"

I scrunch my face up at the thought. The only Dark Specialist Steven would refer me to is…

"Steven would definitely direct me to Sidney, and he's one of the rudest people I ever had to meet."

"I'm pretty sure Grimsley is worse," Elesa deadpanned, "and forget about meeting nice Dark Specialists, they are either all grumpy disagreeable pricks or weirdos with queer peculiarities. Jayce was like that too, he's not any nicer than his old man."

"You met him?"

"That was before the war, before I knew that he was a Rocket and double agent. I was visiting the Miltank farm on Route 39 and we happened to meet each other. We talked a little and could you believe it? He actually didn't know who I am? ME? I'm a world-renowned supermodel for crying out loud!"

The rest of our conversation slowly turned into a gossip session, mostly about Elesa ranting about how the Dandolos are all insane lunatics with the exception of Grimsley's late wife (who Elesa describes as the angel within the family) and how they love stabbing people with pointy things. I'm mostly sure that she was exaggerating, because stabbing people willy nilly is illegal even for an Elite Four.

Although given how graphic and detailed Elesa's description was of how Grimsley and his younger son, Asher, had once tortured information out of a crook when doing undercover work on behalf of the Unova League, I really do hope that it was all an exaggeration on her part.

"What do you want, girl, I'm busy."

I have decided to listen to Elesa's advice and use my connections as a Vera to get the answers I want. Like I had suspected, Steven had ended up giving me Sidney's contact number when I asked for his referral. Sidney's attitude could still use a lot more work, but at least it was a lot better than his initial attitude towards me when we had first met.

I decided to simply tell him the queries I have since we both obviously do not want to spend time talking to each other any more than strictly necessary. Sidney listened patiently the entire time, much to my inner surprise. He, on the other hand, was surprised that Grimsley actually decided to impart a thing or two to me. Apparently, Grimsley was notorious among their circle for not taking in any students with the exception of one, and that was Elesa. That would explain why Elesa seems to know so much about the Dandolos and about dark types too. I never knew that they had that sort of history.

"To be fair, Grimsley's being too harsh, this is an impossible question he threw at you. You will never get the answer Grimsley wants you to realise on your own if you never consulted any Dark Specialist on the matter. I'm not talking about any other Dark Specialist you can easily meet on the streets, I'm talking about true Dark Specialists, and we are a very rare breed."

"True Dark Specialists?"

"Any trainer worth their salt will ask you this question, what do you think makes a trainer a Specialist?" Sidney asked me the same question that I was asked before by Looker. "Does simply having many pokemon with a shared typing on a team and training them makes you a Specialist? The answer is obviously a big fat no, but very few came to realise that. Yes, on paper, the number of trainers who are registered as Dark Specialists are large enough that it is not uncommon to bump into them no matter where you are, but to Dark Specialists like Grimsley and I who truly understand dark types, they are freaking fakes. Phonies, a disgrace to our titles as we would say. True Dark Specialists are as rare, or maybe even rarer than Ghost Specialists, and the reason behind it goes a long way back. That's why I said you would never arrive at the answer on your own... Oi, are you following me so far?"

"Yes, please continue," I suppressed my urge to simply snap back at him for using the kind of tone he was talking to me. Thankfully, my curiosity towards whatever he is going to share with me is a great help in helping me endure the rest of our conversation, which is frankly speaking, quite informative.

"Right, where were we? Ah, yes, that true Dark Specialists are in actuality few in number and the reason goes way back. Okay, I'm not good at telling stories but a long long time ago, even before the era of the warring states, dark types are not known as dark types. They are referred to by people as evil types. People were extremely superstitious back then, believing dark types to be omens of bad luck or disaster. Wherever they appear, food will disappear, their harvest will be affected, someone will die soon, natural disasters will follow, blah blah blah, you get my drift?"

"In short, people believed that they bring bad luck, so they were known as evil types."

"This is why I love talking to smart people, you catch on quick."

I would have called this a compliment if it wasn't for the sarcastic tone he was using.

"Anyways, that was how people saw dark types back in those days, and they are not wrong. Times were different back then, food was not as abundant, mortality rate was high, people and pokemon do not live side by side as harmoniously as we are doing now. There will always be competitions between humans and pokemon in fighting for resources essential for survival, be it for living space or for food and water. As for being omens of bad luck, there's actually a more scientific and logical way of explaining it. Dark types are naturally weak, they don't like to risk competing with other species for food because they would lose nine times out of ten. So naturally, they would resort to taking the safer option, to steal food from a species weaker than them in terms of physical capabilities, which is us humans. Older folks always say that whenever dark types start to congregate around an elderly that person is going to die soon. That's true too, because in the wild many dark types are scavengers, they feast on corpses, they can tell who is going to die soon and simply stalk their dying prey until they breathe their last in order to feed. It's an instinct ingrained into their DNA, you cannot just tell a pokemon to not follow their instincts now, can you? Natural disasters? That actually only applies to the absol species and I remember that you have one. I don't have to explain that misconception to you, do I?"

"So, you are telling me that dark types are known as evil types back in the distant past because they are misunderstood by the public?"

"That's one. You will have to also think about what implications this widespread misconception would bring about back in those olden days. It would mean that very few will be willing to use an open mind to further understand dark types, it would mean that very few trainers would choose to specialise in this field, all because of some stupid misconceptions. This is why true Dark Specialists are few in number."

"But that is in the past. It doesn't explain why they are few in numbers now."

"Be quiet and listen, I'm not done talking," Sidney grunted irritatedly before continuing. "Alright, a little bit more of history- Ah, fuck this, explaining everything is a fucking chore, why didn't anybody teach this in schools before little kids go out on their journeys to be a trainer? I will try to speed up on the explanation, girl, try to follow. Alright, some context on the warring era. It is a time where might is right. Every region was divided into smaller states, each with a ruler of some sort, usually the head of a big clan or something, and the more trainers a clan has, the stronger their influence. Pokeball technology was shittier than shit but the price of one could feed a commoner for two years or more. What does that tell you?"

"Not everyone can be a trainer, but many people still took the risk to become a trainer and try taming pokemon despite not having a pokeball. Being a trainer is also very dangerous due to the lack of a pokeball to protect yourself from an angry pokemon if taming it fails and even if someone managed to become one, trainers having no access to pokeballs would mean them taking a longer time to tame each individual pokemon, which would translate to most trainers only managing to tame a pokemon or two in their lifetime," I replied immediately, already knowing the answer thanks to the kind of education I was given due to me being a Vera.

"Good, at least you know your shit. Back in those days, pokemon trainers were nothing more than glorified mercenaries or bodyguards, we were just instruments of war and conflict. Now, remember what I said earlier, very few trainers would be willing to be a Dark Specialist and even if you don't mind being one, you will probably be hard pressed to find an employer who is willing to employ a trainer who deals with the so-called omens of bad luck. Dark Specialists were rare. Dark Specialists were rare. This is important so I will repeat this three times. Dark Specialists were rare. Now, what else can you infer from this?"

"It is difficult for Dark Specialists to join a clan or find an employer."

"Yes, go on, imagine if you are living in that kind of fucked up era, being seen as a bad omen to everyone around you and unable to find a job, and that you have elderly parents and kids at home to feed and you really really need a job and earn some cash just to survive, what would you do?"

"...Crime," I replied after some thinking. "It always comes back to the same thing when people get truly desperate, they turn to crime, just like Team Rocket did."

"Bingo," Sidney exclaimed and I think I can detect some genuine appreciation in his voice. "It really was no surprise that many Dark Specialists became criminals or notable villains and vice versa, Dark Specialists made up the bulk of many infamous villains throughout our history, and it really doesn't help to paint us in a better light because dark types are really suited for this kind of stuff. Assassination, espionage, stealing, robbing, murder; you name it they can do it with ease. They are born and adapted for it. Can you see now, this kind of self-perpetuating cycle that resulted from one simple misconception? Dark types truly became the evil types people labelled them to be due to circumstances that resulted from it. Dark became synonymous with evil, and by extension the trainers who specialised in dark types. Nobody cares if you are a law abiding goody two shoes. In the warring era as long as you are a Dark Specialist, you are automatically "evil". That pushed even more Dark Specialists into living a life of crime. Now, remember this as we get back to my main point, Dark Specialists were rare."

Sidney cleared his throat before speaking once more.

"As you would have imagined, many of the big clans did not employ Dark Specialists. The smaller clans that are on the losing end, however, were desperate to win and survive. So what would they do when they really needed more trainers to help fight their losing battles? What other kind of trainers were left and were willing to be employed to fight a losing battle for the meagre pay the smaller clan could barely offer in comparison to the higher paying ones from the bigger clans? These smaller clans who were slowly losing their territories to the bigger clans ended up becoming the biggest employers of Dark Specialists because to hell with good and evil, survival comes first, yeah? And repeat after me once more, Dark Specialists-"

"Were rare."

"That's right. Now, since Dark Specialists were so rare, how well do you think other trainers from those big clans fared against them in war? Remember, warring states, anything goes. Anything."

"Dark Specialists win?" I guessed based on how obvious Sidney was hinting at this result. "Because they were so rare that nobody knows how to properly deal with them when fighting them for the first time?"

"That's, right!" Sidney exclaimed and I can actually hear him let out a big tired sigh at the other end of the line. "Now, since I'm so kind, let me summarise for you what we had gone through so far, so that I know that you actually learnt something and that I've not wasted my time. Dark Specialists were rare, dark types were synonymous with evil and hence not well-received, Dark Specialists all turned out to be villains one way or another, and now most importantly, they are weak but yet somehow able to win all of their battles under the hands of trainers who really knows what they are dealing with. The last part is the one you are concerned about, how on earth do Dark Specialists win their battles, yeah? But we established it earlier, they are weak, so how did they do it?"

"They… They never work alone," I replied after some thought and recalling the scene of how a pack of wild mightyenas hunted their prey in the documentary I had seen.

"That's one. Good, this is actually a very important point and it will tie to your question on why there are so few Dark Specialists among the Pillars. There's another very important reason. Remember, many truly skilled Dark Specialists all ended up being villains one way or another in our history. Is this really a coincidence?"

"But I don't see how a superstitious misconception could affect us even till now."

"Girl, I spent more than half my life trying to prove to the world that absols are not the bringers of natural disasters, but merely the foretellers. It is literally what I am famous for. The bulk of the world are goddamn idiots, okay? Idiots who rather place their trust in superstitious beliefs instead of scientific facts make up at least 70% of our population."

Sidney gave another long sigh before continuing.

"Okay, fine, I will just give you the answer, asking you to deduce this much is really too much to ask for anyway. You said it, dark types are weak, they never work alone, and most importantly, their "evilness" is so well-known in the warring states era because it is a time where as long as you live to see the end of the day, anything goes, and battles like that are just right up our alley. You play dirty to win, and that is exactly what dark types are best at and that is what you have to do as a Dark Specialist in order to bring out their greatest strength. A one-on-one challenge in a duel for honour? You can bet your ass that a Dark Specialist will cheat his way through somehow and make it a two-on-one or even a three-on-one without anybody managing to catch him in the act. Not dealing the finishing blow to your fallen enemies as a sign of respect? Load of crap, dark types will always deal the finishing blow at the first chance they get because they are weak. It is precisely because they are weak that they will take any chance they get to put down any possible future threats that may come back to bite them in the ass because there is no guarantee that they will survive a second encounter. Honour, dignity, fair play, there is no place for that among dark types and more so for trainers who command them. Dark types, are, weak. This is why dark types will do anything to survive, they will be cowards, they will use underhanded dirty tricks, they will always choose to work as a group as opposed to going solo because this is the only option they have in order to survive. It's their basic survival instinct at work here, nobody can change that and as Dark Specialists, we understand that better than anyone else. We command what is arguably one of the weakest pokemon type in existence in terms of overall stats, just look at the list of dark types in your pokedex and you will see that very few are being used in the higher tiers of pokemon battling because they are just that pitifully weak. Thus, we Dark Specialists also have no choice but to do what Dark types do in order to bring us victory in whatever fights we pick. True Dark Specialists will always play dirty."

"Uh, does that mean that all the official pokemon tournaments and conferences that you participated in so far…?"

"Oh of course not, that's different. I have no wish to have my license revoked, thank you very much," Sidney scoffed. "But that's the thing here, isn't it? I am an Elite Four, but I am also known as the "weakest" among the four. Truth is, that statement is only correct if I am participating in an official battle with rules in place. If I were to fight in a battle where anything goes, I could easily rival Phoebe and Glacia, maybe even both at the same time. Not sure who would win since we never tried it before, but it would at least be a close fight. But am I ever given a chance to fight them on my terms? Hell fucking no. The battles are always in accordance to PWL regulations, fucking one-on-one or two-on-two and of course I would fucking lose whenever I fight the other Elite Fours. To fight in a regulated battle would already mean fighting at less than half my strength for goodness sake. People like the Champions or ex-Champions are still out of my league though, that I will admit. But my point is, Dark Specialists can only show their full strength when there are no rules restricting us. Official battles are always one-on-one or at most two-on-two and maybe a three-on-three if you are in Unova. Rules are our greatest enemy because it takes away the one thing that provides dark types with their greatest strength, the ability to work as a full team and the option to play dirty. This is the answer to your question, why Dark Specialists and the good side of the law rarely mix. This is why so many of us turned out to be villains, and this is also why there are only three of us sitting here in the PWL as recognised Pillars. People like us are already very rare in the first place, and even fewer Dark Specialists who know what they are dealing with will want to mix with an organisation like the Pokemon League where so many rules are in place. It will literally kill us even before the battle even begins, okay? Being a villain is so much easier, no rules, no restrictions, so our chances to win are way higher. The very nature of dark types already means that not everyone is suited to be a Dark Specialist. If you don't have that villain mindset to cheat your way to victory, to disregard all rules and regulations, to be capable of doing anything in order to win, you will never be a true Dark Specialist. Simple as that."

"You know, why hadn't I read any of whatever you were telling me in that textbook that the PWL is trying to compile for every single known pokemon typing?"

"Are you an idiot? We would be seen as encouraging little kids who read what we wrote to become future criminals. How can we pen this down in a textbook for gullible children not even ten years of age? Everything written there must be sunshine and rainbows, certainly not something that we Dark Specialists can provide. If you want to know the uncensored version of how Dark Specialists came to be you have to either realise it on your own or seek us out just like you did to me. The PWL will never allow the uncensored version of our history to be publicly known just like that. See? This is why I say rules and dark types never mix. We can't even get ourselves a fair chance to explain ourselves. Anyway-"

Sidney cleared his throat once more.

"You want to know how to properly train dark types? At your current level, beyond the basics of helping them to increase the power and proficiency of their movesets, it's simple, yet also very difficult: Make them learn to work as a team. That's all, really. Dark types can only truly excel after they perfected their teamwork with others and when they are allowed to play dirty with no rules in place. You have an absol, just observe it properly, okay? That species is a very classical dark type, the embodiment of everything you can learn about dark types just by watching them. Like what a famous Dark Master once said, a true Dark Specialist doesn't need the strongest pokemon that can destroy an army of a thousand on its own, all they need is the best team with the perfect teamwork that can fucking conquer the entire world. It doesn't even matter if the best team is made up of the weakest pokemon in existence because their teamwork alone can overcome anything. You can see that for yourself in all the documentaries you have watched, how they bring down prey many times their size and power. You ask me why Karen and I hesitate so much on adding a tyranitar and a hydreigon into our team? This is why. Oh yeah, I remember now, you have a fucking tyranitar too. Then you should know this better than I do, yeah? Tyranitars are fucking egoistical creatures, it's near impossible to have them get rid of their ego and work with the rest of the team, as a team. Their addition will only destroy whatever existing teamwork your dark types have established, you get what I am saying? And why are the two pseudo-legends so damn egoistic? Because they are the anomalies of your typical dark type, they are born to be strong, they can throw power around that other dark types can never achieve. They share the viciousness of dark types but not the same teamwork mentality that the weaker species have because these two species don't need that mentality to survive out there in the wild. This is also why people like us acknowledge Grimsley as the strongest Dark Specialist in the world right now. Not just because of his strength, but mainly because he managed to get a tyranitar to work with his team where we all failed. He made the impossible possible."

Sidney let out an audible breath from the other end of the line.

"God damn, I think I just finished all the work for Grimsley. Fuck, I've talked too long and I'm running late for my band practice. ZANGOOSE! HELP ME BRING MY GUITAR OVER, WE ARE FUCKING LATE- WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING, DON'T STEP ON-! FUUUUCK!"

There was a loud crash from somewhere at the other end of the line, followed by some muttered curses from Sidney before he very helpfully summarised our entire conversation thus far.

"I do," I replied, suddenly feeling all jittery about trying to learn more about how to train dark types. Sidney's warning was very sincere.

"Good. Text me again if you are one of those goody two shoes and really have no idea how to cheat. If that still fails, then we abandon it immediately. There's no shame in failing in trying to specialise with Dark types, it just means that you are simply incompatible with it. Okay, that's really all, bye."

Our call ended just like that, leaving me to stare at my phone and blinking my eyes. I turned to face Kel, who was lying beside me on my bed and snoozing away the entire time. She's probably still awake though, I know she likes to pretend to sleep while actually being awake the entire time.

"I guess Sidney just gave me all the answers I needed, he's surprisingly talkative when it comes to dark types, but… to cheat? What level of cheating is he expecting me to pull off anyway?"

Kel opened her eyes at my remark, proving my point that there is no way she was really asleep. She closed her eyes soon enough to return to her snoozing.

What does Kel mean by that? I know she never cared about being the strongest, but does she really not want to grow stronger?

My hand lowered to stroke Kel as I returned to pondering over the advice Sidney had given me, only to jolt when I realised that my hand didn't come into contact with anything. Kel had suddenly vanished, and I soon realised that what I had seen as "Kel" was an afterimage that she had left behind with a very well-timed Double Team used just at that exact moment when I was about to touch her. She is now standing a few feet away from me, looking at me as though expecting me to realise something.

"You just duped me into thinking that you were going to sleep," I realised, and come to think about it Kel is the best user of Double Team out of all my pokemon.

"Is this why you liked to use Double Team so much? You find it convenient to fool your opponents?"

Kel gave me an impression of a shrug before walking back to me and jumping up onto my bed and curled up there. This time, she really is going to take a nap.

Teamwork and cheating, huh? I'd like to think that my team's teamwork is at least somewhat decent after all that we had been through, but given what I have learnt from Sidney today, I have a feeling that Grimsley's expectations for what constitutes proper teamwork may be much higher than the bar that I have set for my team. As for learning how to cheat…

I may have to really consult a thing or two from him. I can be crafty, but to regularly break the rules is not a mindset that I am comfortable with, at least not now. Unfortunately, according to Sidney a "villainous" mindset is needed for someone to truly understand Dark types, something which I know I don't possess and also a very dangerous territory that I am treading towards.

Really makes me wonder how these Dark Specialist Pillars have not yet turned out to be villains with how powerful they are and how attuned they are with Dark types. I guess there is some sense in Elesa's words, that when a specialist has dabbled in their craft for long enough, they tend to subconsciously take after some characteristics of their specialised typings as well. Dark types never fight fair in order to survive, and Dark Specialists have to adopt the same mindset in order to better understand and command them in battle.

If so, what does that say about Jayce? A skilled Dark Specialist and someone who has been acting as a double agent his entire life?

Food for thought for another time.

AN: This chapter is most likely the last chapter before the Unova arc starts for IJWTTTW, so there probably won't be any further updates for this story for quite a while.

I was worried that this is kind of an info dump, but Velda's character had always been someone who is thirsty for knowledge and eager to learn more, so I think it is in her character to want to try and learn something new when the opportunity arises (in this case, asking Elesa and Grimsley for advice since they now know each other). This will not only expand on my interpretation of the pokemon universe, but also give Velda legitimate avenues and knowledge on how to become better as a trainer and as a person, which is why I think chapters like this one are necessary. Velda's theme is travel, and while "travel" in the very basic sense means going from places to places to see new things, in her case I think learning new things from new people she meets along the way will fulfil the theme as well.

In any case, hope you enjoyed the chapter.

Character and pokemon list:

Velda Vera, Age: 13, Female, Pokemon Trainer, Member of the International Police

Pokemon on hand:

1) Rapidash (Flamel), male

2) Swampert (Bigblue), male

3) Banette (Dolly), female

4) Flygon (Snap), male

5) Absol (Kelsa), female

6) Charizard (Toothless), male

8) Espeon (Rena), female

9) Pachirisu (Fuzzy), male

10) Tyranitar (Kratos), male

11) Clefairy (Joy), female

12) Nidoqueen (Ness), female

13) Pangoro (Hulk), male

14) Porygon-Z (Jarvis), genderless

15) Scizor (Archer), male

16) Lapras (Chill), female

17) Gengar (Wacky), male