Not a ton to say atm. Just chillin'.

Chapter 24

With both Bianca's fifth gym badge obtained, and the Petalburg Festival having ended, there was no more reason for them to remain within the city.

Of course, they didn't exactly know where it was that they were going next, either, and so remain they did for a few days at least.

It had been around three or so months since Bianca first left on her journey. The days of winter cresting spring had ended, and now, it was beginning to be spring cresting summer.

In all fairness, their journey was likely more than halfway over. Thinking that had Bianca both excited, and somewhat glum. She might've thought that odd at some point, but now, she could appreciate that the journey was half the reason she enjoyed Pokémon training as much as she did.

The World Championships were to be held sometime at the onset of winter, specifically in the Alola region, where it wouldn't get nearly as cold as it would be everywhere else.

That would be in roughly five months.

And Bianca was tentatively excited.

Having five gym badges made that easier. Entering into the competition was starting to feel less and less like a pipe dream, and more and more like something genuinely achievable.

But she was, ultimately, growing distracted. She had no real idea for whom she wanted to face off against next in her quest for gym badges, and while she might normally ask Cynthia about what she wanted to go next, she'd grown kind of used to being the one dictating their journey.

It was nice. She was loathe to give such a thing up.

That sounded petty admitted when Bianca admitted it aloud, but it was the truth.

Still, she ended up approaching Cynthia in their shared hotel room later that same day, and was just about to bring the topic up when her mentor received a message from someone via her Rotom phone.

"Who is it?" Bianca asked, quite curious at seeing the wide-eyed look on Cynthia's face.

"It's Mars, actually." Cynthia stated, calling her over to where she was laid down on her own bed. Bianca walked so that she was stood beside Cynthia, and peered down at her phone.

'Hello. I've recently been doing some investigations into the Ruins of Alph in and around Violet City, and believe I have found the traces of something that might eventually intrigue both yourself and Bianca. It's nothing concrete yet, but I might have something to show within the next month or so. If you'd like, perhaps the two of you might journey to Johto, and come see it for yourselves?'

"Woah." She murmured. "Did Mars find something related to her research into Dialga?"

"She seems to think she did, at least." Cynthia stated, chuckling under her breath. "Although I'm not sure why you're asking me this, given we both read the exact same text message."

Bianca rolled her eyes, lightly elbowing the woman to her right, and earning a snort in response.

"I was actually thinking about heading to Kanto," Cynthia spoke, clearing her throat. "But given that Kanto's on the way to Johto, we might as well visit the both of them while we're there."

"What did you want to check out in Kanto?"

"In truth, I've been asked by a few… acquaintances to help with investigating Mt. Silver." Cynthia explained, looking up at her. "Would you be interested in hiking up the mountain with me?"

"Sure, yeah," Bianca nodded her head. "But wouldn't it be a bit easier to access from the Johto side?"

"Eh." Cynthia shrugged. "We could. But I've been wanting to visit the area around Viridian City for a while now, and figured that would make for a good excuse."

"Oh. You could've said something."

"You seemed to have our route figured out. I was content to allow you to dictate it." Cynthia smiled. "But I wouldn't mind it if we could stop by that area?"

"Sounds great." Bianca nodded her head. "Then… let's go!"

"Well, we're going to have to make the journey back to Slateport first."

Oof. Right. That was a four-hour journey by land, sea, and then a lengthy trip by air.

That meant their day's itinerary had suddenly become quite a bit busier.


The journey to Slateport wasn't quite hellish, but it was up there.

Bianca vomited off the side of Mr. Briney's boat yet again, then still had to walk an additional thirty minutes through Slateport city after they'd arrived until they made it to the airport. Then they ended up having to wait an extra two hours while Slateport air traffic control worked out a few things, before finally, six or seven hours after they'd left their hotel, they finally managed to take to the air.

Bianca was about done with life for the day.

"There, there." Cynthia rubbed her back as she leant over a small garbage bin.

Bianca groaned.

"You've never had trouble with air sickness before now."

"I think– ugh," Bianca grimaced. "I think the boat earlier messed me up, and instead of stopping, we went straight back to traveling again."

Cynthia nodded sympathetically. "If you'd like, we could touch down a bit early? Somewhere in the Orange Islands, maybe?"

"No, no…" Bianca shook her head. "I'm okay. I'd rather just be sick but arrive where we're supposed to on time than derail the whole thing."

Cynthia hummed. "Well, okay. Let me know if you change your mind, alright?"

"I will." She assured her.

Cynthia ran her hand up Bianca's back, rested it briefly on her shoulder, and then gave her an affirming squeeze.

Bianca found herself tensing somewhat at the motion, even as Cynthia went back to trying to soothe her stomach by rubbing her back. There was just something… Bianca wasn't sure how to put it, how to say it.

Charged, perhaps?

…Now wasn't the time. If Bianca had it her way, it might never be the time.

That way lay madness, and thoughts she really had no intention of giving voice to.

The trip didn't end up being horrible after that. Her stomach calmed down around an hour later, and for the remainder of the flight, she and Cynthia chatted about little things that had no real consequence.

She was learning more and more about what it was Cynthia liked, the things that made her tick. She was somewhat surprised, though, that Cynthia still seemed to be holding so much back.

It was something she'd cottoned onto fairly quickly when she'd met Cynthia – that the woman was hiding something from her. But ultimately, she'd decided in the beginning that such didn't really bother her.

But a few months, and a strong friendship, later, and Bianca was starting to grow a bit puzzled as to what secret could be so big that Cynthia would not want to inform her of it, even now.

A part of Bianca was a bit cross, in truth. She'd trusted Cynthia with all of her insecurities, even those precious few others in the world knew about. And yet… it seemed as if Cynthia could not do the same for her.

Such things fled her mind as their plane touched down, however, and around thirty or so minutes, they entered out into Viridian City proper. It was quite late in the evening by that time as well, nearly eight o'clock, and Bianca was more than ready to put her head on a pillow and collapse.

Unfortunately, they had walking to do before that.

Bianca groaned, but pressed on. Mostly out of having no other options.

In fairness, Viridian was a rather impressive town; smaller than many places she'd been to in Unova that gave her similar vibes, but also idyllic, and cozy in a way that they'd not managed to be. Where most of those towns in Unova had roads paved every which way for cars, Viridian city had little room at all for such vehicles. It focused much more on being walkable, and Bianca found herself quite pleased about that, in truth.

"I assume you want to head straight to the hotel?" Cynthia asked, and Bianca could really only muster a groan, barely conscious as she braced her arms on her thighs, preventing her body from folding in on itself like a pretzel. "Hah, I'll take that as a yes. Let's go."

Cynthia ended up practically carrying her the rest of the way, and when they got there, Bianca did, in fact, head straight to sleep.


Their trip to Mt. Silver didn't end up happening that next day, mostly because Bianca was utterly exhausted physically, and didn't have hiking up a mountain in her. Thusly, they ended up taking the day to tour around Viridian, and take in some of the sights.

They also saw the Viridian Pokémon gym, and Bianca found herself thinking that it would likely do as well as any other for a sixth badge.

She decided she'd go after they got back from Mt. Silver, though. Mostly because the Pokémon within the mountain were apparently quite strong, and her own could use the training.

Thusly, away they went the next day.

Mt. Silver was large, intimidating, and easily the tallest mountain she'd ever seen. While Coronet was certainly wider, and took up more square kilometers of Sinnoh, there was no doubt that Mt. Silver towered above it in terms of overall height.

Trainers from all over the world sought Mt. Silver's heights as a place to test their might, and researchers sought it as a nesting bed to many Pokémon, including Pokémon such as Moltres, one of Kanto's three legendary birds.

Bianca had heard that a few of her old colleagues back at Professor Juniper's lab had actually spent a year or two in this very place, studying Moltres. They'd seen it but a scant few times, even over their multi-year timespan, but spoke of its majesty, and overwhelming presence.

Bianca had a feeling that she and Cynthia probably weren't going to be encountering any legendary Pokémon themselves, but then, she supposed weirder things had happened. She'd keep her eyes peeled on the off chance it did decide to make an appearance.

She was surprised, however, when she decided to make idle small talk with Cynthia about Moltres, that the woman actually seemed to be quite aware on the subject.

"Actually, it's part of the reason I wanted to come here." Cynthia explained. "I'm quite interested in Pokémon, you see, and I've been in– or I should say that I've sponsored quite a few research groups relating to Legendary Pokémon, and their behaviors. From what a few of my colleagues tell me, Legendaries all over the world are beginning to act… odd."

Bianca's face scrunched up at that. "What do you mean, odd?"

"They're beginning to exhibit strange behaviors; showing up in odd places, or being seen more often than is normal by the regular populace. What's more, one of the Gym Leaders that I'm friends with, Winona, spoke of Absol sightings being on the rise in and around her neck of Hoenn."

Bianca felt a chill run down her spine.

Absol was a Pokémon that had a rather incredible ability; the horn on its head was able to detect subtle changes in and around the atmosphere, which allowed it to 'predict' disasters before they occurred.

"That's… troubling." Bianca answered, and Cynthia nodded her head, evidently agreeing. "What do they think is causing it?"

"That's the thing," Cynthia responded, sighing. "They don't know. There is, ostensibly, no big events that should be triggering such reactions. There's no evil group trying to misuse a legendary Pokémon for their own aim. No prophecy foretelling the return of Kyurem, or Necrozma or some such. It's all quiet. My worry… is that it's too quiet. Which is a part of the reason that we're here."

"I see… so… are we here to find Moltres?"

"We're here to check where it was last spotted," Cynthia explained. "Which is, lucky for you, not too terribly far up the mountain. Once we're there, we're going to search the area for anything unusual."

Bianca nodded her head, even as they hiked their way up Mt. Silver's inside caverns.

Luckily, Mt. Silver had been charted by many, many groups before them, and at this point, there were more than enough lights, paths, and signs to point them towards where they needed to be going.

The place was downright homey in some sections, and reminded Bianca more of the guided tour she'd gone on during her original stay in Driftveil than any other spelunking adventure.

To be fair, she'd gone on few spelunking adventures, but she felt her point still stood.

They climbed for quite a while, until Bianca's legs began to ache, and her thighs began to burn. Even still, they kept going, and eventually, they reached a spot that had Cynthia nodding her head.

"We're close. Not long now. We're going to take this path here," She pointed off towards the left, where a narrow crack – well, it was almost a meter wide, but narrower than Bianca really would've liked! –seemed to lead out towards the outside. "We're going to need to squeeze through there."

"We– what!?"

Cynthia grimaced, but smiled back at Bianca. "Sorry. I didn't think to tell you. It's not really that much of a squeeze. Honestly, I've fit through much smaller gaps, and you're more than a bit smaller than I am. You'll be fine."

Bianca muttered obscenities – really rather tame ones – beneath her breath as Cynthia and she both walked towards the gap in the wall. Cynthia gestured for her to go in first, telling her that she'd be able to support her if she needed it.

Ultimately, Bianca didn't need it, even if the entire experience was pretty far from what Bianca would consider fun.

Except just when it was supposed to get better, it got worse!

"Cynthiaaaa!" She loudly complained as she pushed herself against the wall of Mt. Silver behind her, lest she have to see over the edge of the cliff not three meters ahead of her. "What the hell!?"

"Ehe…" Cynthia rubbed at the back of her neck as she emerged from out of the squeeze. "I uh… didn't know it was going to be quite this much?"

Bianca growled, even as she inched her way forward, bit by bit, sidling along the edge of the mountain wall. Cynthia chuckled fondly, even as she walked the path briskly up to meet her, and then offered out her hand.


Bianca found herself blushing in both shame and embarrassment as she reached out and took that hand in her own. Gingerly, she stepped away from the wall, and tried to calm herself down.

It really wasn't working that well.

Still, Cynthia's hand in hers helped, and together, they managed to make some headway.

"I owe you one, how about that?" Cynthia offered when she saw that Bianca was still pouting a minute or so after that.

"You owe me more than one!"

"Oh? Really?"


"Well… I'll think about it." Cynthia replied in a playful voice. "Now, c'mon. It's just up there."

The path they were walking on lead into another cavern, which seemed to be a dead end. Bianca was initially curious, but then she began to smell something rather familiar. Something she'd not had the chance to in quite some time.

"That smell…" She noted. "It's the smell of burnt-off chemical from a fire Pokémon's flames."

Cynthia seemed impressed. "Look at you, utilizing that Pokémon Researcher brain of yours."

Bianca chuckled somewhat awkwardly. "I raised an Emboar, after all. It's a rather difficult smell to forget. Strong. A combination of sulfur and ozone."

"Yeah," Cynthia commented idly as they stepped up into the room. "Not at all a good smell, but like you said, hard to forget it."

"Either another fire-type Pokémon was making this area its home…"

"Or we've found Moltres' den, yes." Cynthia spoke as she began to survey the room around them. "And judging by the fact that I followed a set of coordinates and a map, I'm pretty sure we have the right place."

Bianca took a look around, and found herself marveling at the space. It wasn't entirely impressive, to be fair, but there was evidence all over that Moltres had lived here, even somewhat recently.

There were giant scratch marks in the stone of the wall, an almost glassy sheen to the dirt and stone that must've been directly beneath Moltres' flames, and…

And an odd blue glow, coming from the opposite wall. A glow that Cynthia hadn't spotted yet.

"Hey, look at this," Bianca directed her mentor's attention towards the wall, which, now that she'd gotten closer to it, she could see had some…


For one, there was what seemed to be a crack running up the wall. But it was almost like a vein of some odd type of mineral, one which gave off a dull, blue light.

She'd not seen such in all her life.

"What is it?" She asked as Cynthia stepped up towards the wall, and began studying the material herself.

"I don't know." Cynthia frowned. "And I don't like that."

Bianca could understand that. There was something… troubling about whatever this was. Something she couldn't quite figure out.

"What do you want to do?"

Cynthia took a tool out of her pack, some sort of small chisel, and took it to the wall. Then, with her other hand, she drew out an equally small hammer, and used the tools in combination to cut off a small nugget of… whatever this was.

"We're going to take this back to Viridian, and then I'm going to send it off to the Pewter Museum of Science to get it looked at. We'll see if they can't identify exactly what this is."

"How long will that take?"

"Hopefully no longer than a week." Cynthia spoke. "But in truth, I'd actually like to leave here within the next few days, and head elsewhere."

"Huh?" Bianca found herself flummoxed. "Why?"

"Because Moltres wasn't the only Pokémon to be showing these odd signs. The other legendary birds, Articuno and Zapdos, were as well. A friend of mine is investigating Zapdos' last known location, but they haven't been able to get anyone out to check on Articuno's as of yet. I was content to let them solve it on their own if this was a wild goose chase, but something about this is just…" Cynthia sighed, but her breath shook.

It was odd, to hear Cynthia seemingly spooked by something.

"I just have a bad feeling. So, I want to check Articuno's den within the Seafoam Isles myself. That means heading to Fuchsia City."


Here Bianca was, barely getting comfortable in Viridian, and now they were going to fly halfway across Kanto.

…Well, clearly, Cynthia thought this was important. And she had said about leaving within the next few days. Bianca would still have time to challenge Viridian's gym leader.

"What do you think is happening?" She asked, feeling herself growing worried as well.

"I don't know." Cynthia bit down on her bottom lip. "And I hate that feeling most of all. I've only felt this flare of worry in my chest a few times in my life…"

Bianca watched as Cynthia's brow furrowed, as her fists clenched at her sides.

Her eyes narrowed.

"And each one heralded disaster."

End Chapter 24

Somewhat short on the chapter this week, but I've been doing other things, plus getting over being sick. As you can see, though, we've arrived at the plot part of the story! Well, I mean, the whole thing's been plot, but... you get what I mean!

Anyways, back to weekly, I'll see you all next week!

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