With a quick snap, May retracted her arm from the arc of electricity. The telltale burn of it lingered as her hand throbbed and grew numb. She held the trembling limb to her chest as she continued to duck and weave past the free-glowing streams of electricity standing between her and her adversary.
“How is this even allowed?” the girl asked herself as she watched her agile grovyle leap easily past the transformers. It looked back at her though the maze, the leaves on its forearms bound together as a blade as if to signal its anxiousness for the ensuing gym battle.
“Hold on, I’m almost there,” May hollered after the grovyle as she ducked under the final stream of electricity. After a deep breath, she brushed herself off and looked at a man that stood at the back of the building with a spiteful glare. He was a portly old man with a jagged white beard covering his chin, wearing a brown, leather jacket with a lightning bolt insignia above one of the pockets. The man stood idly as May stumbled to her feet, her arms and legs covered in burns.
“Welcome to Mauville Gym. You must be May Stannis. I’m Wattson,” he said, looking his challenger over. The grovyle took a fighting stance, growling through clenched teeth. May lifted her hand and the lizard fell silent, leaving only the sound of crackling electricity as she approached the old trainer.
“I am. I’m here for the Dynamo Badge,” May spoke with ferocity, raising her voice to be heard over the sound of the buzzing electricity behind her. She removed her badge case from her bag and flipped it open to show the man, the pair of badges withing gleaming in the light from the electricity.
“Very well,” the gym leader began. “I’m ready when — know what you must be going through right now. It must be tough,” the old man said, permeating the dull silence of the gym. “I’ve lost many family members over the years. I’m sure that your grandfather’s death must weigh on your thoughts.”
May looked down dejectedly at the floor, tears welling up in her eyes. “Yeah... I just wish I could’ve known him a bit better before he’d died.” May’s grovyle sidled up next to her, a small smile cresting the girl’s face as it comforted her by nuzzling into her hand.
“He was a good man, that much I know. I talked to him quite a bit back in the day,” the old man said with a warm nostalgic smile. “But, back to you, what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be taking classes right now?”
“Things haven’t been going so well... my mother has been feeling ill since Grandpa died and my dad wanted me to go out and experience things while I still could,” May said, shaking a little as she spoke. “He said with the move and Grandpa’s death, I should try something less stressful, so here I am.” May paused for a moment. “Has Brendan been through here? He’s about my age, wears a green bandanna and a black and orange jacket? I was supposed to meet him around here.”
“Oh yes, I remember the lad. What strange pokémon he had,” Wattson said, looking up in thought. “He was here a few days ago, but that’s about all I can tell you.”
“Thank you,” May responded, her tone resonated with disappointment. She slipped her badge case back into her pocket, hoping to win another badge to place next to her sole accolade from Rustboro. “I’m sure I’ll find him soon enough.”
“Even with all that’s happened, you’re still so calm and collected,” the portly man chuckled. “You really are your father’s daughter.” From his coat pocket, the man drew out a Poké Ball. With a soft smirk on his face, he considered the ball of a moment before tossing it onto the field. The ball split open to reveal a small, wolf-like creature that snarled as it sprang to the ready. “Let’s get started, then.”
With a snap of his fingers, the lights of the gym grew dim as a large lightning bolt shaped neon-sign glowed brightly behind him.
“I am Wattson, the third gym leader of Hoenn’s Pokémon League. May Stannis, daughter of Norman, I humbly accept your challenge — for admittance into the Pokémon League!”
With a mask of fierce determination, May took her battered hand and thrust it towards Wattson, prompting her grovyle to take up its battle position. “I’m ready when you are, old man.”
“Very well,” Wattson stated coolly before everything slowly blurred and grew dark.
Fluttershy awoke with a jolt, the ecstatic cheering of the crowd drawing her back into consciousness. She held her head in her hooves, trying to piece together the strange memory flash that had just occurred. It had been days since one had manifested on its own, but none had ever been so strange, so fractured. Fluttershy looked below, watching the university student trot out of the arena as Wattsie turned away. She appeared to be discussing something with a black-suited stallion.
A small tap on the glass drew the pegasus’ attention to Rainbow Dash, the cyan mare staring intensely at the field below, hooves pressed against the glass. Her muzzle was pressed up as well, teeth bared in a scowl, her wings fully spread. The yellow pegasus wanted to approach her, but thought better of it, recognizing a familiar intensity in Dash’s demeanor.
Before Fluttershy could return her focus to the memory, Pinkie Pie hopped out from around Rainbow, catching Fluttershy by surprise.
“Fluttershy, you’re up! You must’ve been super tired, I tried waking you up over and over and over again during the fight!” The pink mare looked at Fluttershy inquisitively, tilting her head in confusion. “You alright? You don’t look too good.”
“I-I’m alright,” Fluttershy said, pausing to think if Pinkie could help her piece the memory together. “It’s just... I had a memory flash again.”
“You did? That explains a lot,” Pinkie Pie stated, leaning on Rainbow in thought as her friend turned her head towards Pinkie in irritation. Not a second later, they both toppled over into the paned glass and slumped to the floor. With a quick shake, Pinkie sprang to her hooves and continued, oblivious to the death glare emanating from the downed pegasus. “So, what was it about? Anything important or exciting?”
“Well, it was strange. It was like there were two memories happening at once, I guess, both of them getting in each others’ way. It started off normally with the May you saw at Rustboro Gym about to fight Wattson, but then it was like she changed into a quieter girl.” Pinkie’s face contorted in confusion as Rainbow got to her hooves, rubbing her head as she got up. “They talked about her grandfather and Brendan, and then May was back to her old self. That’s all that really happened.”
“Brendan? That jerk from Rustboro with the fire lizard?” Rainbow asked, wings folded back onto her sides. “What was she talking about him for?”
“She said something about finding him, but never said why. I’ve never seen this May before, so I don’t know if I should trust her,” Fluttershy stated as a security guard entered the room.
“Fifteen minutes until you’re due down by the doors, miss,” he said before stepping out for a second and letting the student from below into the room.
He was a brown earth pony in an open white collared shirt, a PokéNav strapped to his ankle and denim shorts on as well. He quickly scanned the room and placed his bag down by the door before venturing further into the suite.
“A-are you sure this is the right room?” he asked with a slight stutter, prompting a quick nod from the guard before he closed the door. The young stallion turned and faced the three mares, not saying a word as he approached the couch.
“Hi! What’s your name?” Pinkie enthusiastically exclaimed, hopping right up to the stallion. He recoiled back in a nervous fit, stumbling over himself as Pinkie loomed over him.
“I-it’s Jake,” the stallion stated, as Pinkie backed off to let him regain his hoofing.
The three’s plan to meet with the university student after the match was much easier than Fluttershy had ever anticipated, putting a confident smile on her face as she pondered what to do. With no more obvious choice, Fluttershy trotted up to Jake in hopes that he could tell her about Professor Maxwell.
“Hello,” Fluttershy said, causing Jake to turn his head with his mouth slightly agape. “You’re a student at Mauville University, right?”
He stared at her with a dumbfounded look before forcing his mouth shut to avoid looking foolish. “Yeah, I am. Why? Do you go there? I think I would have remembered such a-- I mean, I think I would have remembered you,” Jack asked as his face flushed a deep red.
“No, I just need to know about a teacher there. Do you know a Professor Maxwell?”
“Maxwell... Oh, yeah! He’s, uh... the ancient cultures and archeology professor. Are you trying to get into his class or... Wait, you just said...” He planted his hoof on his head with a pained expression plastered on his face.
“Is he there now? Could we go talk to him?” Fluttershy asked, trying to steer the conversation back to the professor’s whereabouts.
“Umm, I think he’s out for the week,” Jake said, lowering his hoof from his forehead to his chin in thought. “Yeah, he’s up at Mt. Chimney with some students to study the volcano. He has a bit of a history going off-topic and delving into geological studies,” the stallion stated with a surprising lack of stutters. “He should be back within the week.”
“Where is Mt. Chimney?”
“Wait, seriously? Who doesn’t know about Mt. Chimney?”
“I-I’m sorry, I’m still really new to Hoenn,” Fluttershy squeaked.
“Oh, it’s just north of here on the way to Lavaridge Town. It’s the tallest mountain in the range. You can’t miss it.”
The door opened once again, revealing the same security guard from before peeking through the doorway. “You’re expected down at the front gate in less than five minutes. Let’s go.” After the security guard had left, Fluttershy turned away from Jake to get her bag as her friends did the same and stood by the door.
“Thanks for your help,” Fluttershy said as she caught up to Rainbow and Pinkie. As she was about to exit the room, she stopped and turned back to face the young stallion. “Sorry for asking, but what kind of Pokemon was that next to you at the start of the match?”
“You mean my grovyle?” Jake asked, tossing out a Poké Ball, revealing a sleeping pokémon.
“Y-yeah,” Fluttershy responded, glancing over the grass lizard as she sat down next to it. As she looked it over, she felt a warm yet somber sense of nostalgia rush over her. It was the exact pokémon that May had in Fluttershy’s vision, but something felt wrong. Instead of the comfort that May had received from the pokémon, Fluttershy felt as if she’d just been punched in the gut. With her body shaking, she rose back to her hooves and gave Jake a small smile.
“Thanks for showing him to me,” Fluttershy said graciously.
“It’s actually a ‘her’, and you’re welcome,” Jake said as Fluttershy exited the room.
As the pegasus went down the stairs, she stopped and turned to see that Jake was peering down at her from the doorway. “Oh, would you be able to show us where the Pokémon Center is around here after the match? We have to get some rest before going to Mt. Chimney tomorrow.” None of the mares had thought of accommodations for that night.
“Uh, s-sure. I’ll be near the challenger’s side exit after the match,” Jake replied. “It’s on the east side of the field.”
“Thank you so much,” Fluttershy said before she descended the stairs. As she caught up to her friends, her mind focused solely on the encounter with the grovyle. She wondered for a moment if the pain came from Alerce’s transformation, but she hadn’t been very attached to the lizard before he had changed. Before she could come up with any more ideas, however, she had already caught up with her friends. Rainbow was at the front, hastily marching down as Pinkie trotted with a calm but excited attitude just behind.
The rumble of the crowd shook the stadium as their match slowly approached. Since she was unconscious during the entire match, Fluttershy still had no idea what the gym leader looked like or if she was, in fact, an analogue. Judging by Rainbow’s intense expression as she awoke, her friend must’ve known something about the mare.
“Rainbow? Why were you staring down at the field like that?” Fluttershy asked. Rainbow turned her head to face her questioner. “You looked really angry back there.”
“I was,” Rainbow answered bluntly. “Don’t you two remember that unicorn that came into town with that mobile stage? The one who boasted about how she was ‘the most magical unicorn in all of Equestria’? I swear that you two were there.”
“No, I don’t remember that,” Fluttershy said. As she said this, Pinkie sharply inhaled in a gasp.
“Oh, right! Fluttershy, I went off with you to see some of your animals when she was talking, remember?” Pinkie asked, looking at Fluttershy, and then back at Rainbow. “That unicorn just sounded obnoxious, and I remembered that I had to help Mrs. Cake finish a cupcake order for Sugarcube Corner, and you forgot Angel’s birthday, so we had to have a party for him, so we left!”
“Well, I’ll explain what happened after you left,” Rainbow began. “She called herself ‘The Great and Powerful Trixie’ and I nearly gagged on how full of herself she was.”
They had reached the bottom of the stairs, noticing several ponies buying food at the stands next to the arena doors.
“When everypony was sick of her bragging, AJ, Rarity, and I challenged her to shut her up, but all she did was twist what we did around and made us laughing stocks!” Rainbow’s face grew bright red as she spoke, stomping towards the door now instead of trotting. “I did this amazing trick through clouds and made a rainbow show up above me, and she twisted it and spun me around before zapping me with lightning! I can’t wait to get my hooves on her when I get the chance.” The security guard stopped in front of the inner arena doors and waited beside the three mares.
“What happened to her?” Fluttershy asked, her curiosity piqued.
“She said she could vanquish an Ursa Major, but Twilight saved Ponyville when two town doofuses brought an Ursa Minor for Trixie to fight. After Twilight humiliated her by defeating it, the coward ran off.” Rainbow peered up at the screen near the gate that was playing a commercial. “Haven’t seen her since.”
Several minutes passed as they waited for the last stragglers to return to their seats. Fluttershy could hardly hear anypony inside the stadium, lending it an eerie silence. Rainbow stood tapping her hooves on the floor impatiently. Pinkie decided to sit down and proceeded to yawn every once in a out of boredom. Just as Fluttershy was about to lie down as well, the announcer’s voice blared through the speaker system.
“Fillies and gentlecolts, tonight we have a special, mystery trainer as Wattsie’s final opponent!” The crowd began cheering uproariously, putting Fluttershy on edge as she began to seriously question her ability to win. Alerce had just evolved, and Wolver was still fairly weak by comparison. She didn’t want to embarrass her friends in front of so many ponies. As she began hyperventilating, the announcer continued above the noise of the rowdy audience. “All anyone knows about this trainer is that he or she has only one badge but is a fierce competitor judging by a flawless combat record!”
Flawless record? Fluttershy wondered, her mind in a panic. Did the fight with Norman not count?
“Please welcome your final competitor of this weekend’s arena fights!” The doors slowly creaked open, the stadium’s massive lights blinding the three as they shone into the dark hallway. With a pained gulp, Fluttershy trotted into the grass-filled arena with Rainbow and Pinkie following close behind. The amount of ponies inside the stadium was staggering to her, and being below the crushing stare of that many eyes didn’t help to calm her nerves in the least.
“You alright, Fluttershy?” Pinkie asked. “This is so exciting, don’t you think? I know that thousands of ponies are watching, but it’s like a giant party in here!” Fluttershy hesitantly nodded as they stopped at the challenger’s end of the rectangular fighting ring.
The lights in the stadium suddenly grew dark as a singular spotlight shone on an empty stage. There was yellow fabric with stars and lightning bolts skirting the bottom of the stage, and a large, light-blue symbol of a magic wand swirling with magic was plastered above. As smoke poured over the cable-strewn stage the loudspeakers boomed, “Now without further introductions, the Electrifying and Powerful Wattsie!” With a crack of lightning, a pony stepped forth from the swirling smode, sending the crowd into a frenzy of stomping hooves. It was a light blue mare with a blond swirl of a mane. She wore a yellow cape covered in black stars and a closed yellow vest with the magic wand insignia pinned on the front. On her ankles were gold cuff links and over her eyes was a yellow, translucent visor that concealed the color of her eyes. Wattsie looked off somehow, as if something was missing...
“Where’s her horn?” Fluttershy asked, turning to a confused and angry Rainbow Dash.
“I don’t know,” Rainbow admitted.
“So, one of you is Wattsie’s opponent, hmm?” the gym leader asked, speaking in the third person. “Don’t keep the crowd waiting, which one of you will be fighting Wattsie tonight?”
Fluttershy inched ahead of her friends, readying herself to speak before Rainbow Dash shot past her in a swirl of wind and wings. She skid to a stop in front of her friends before pointing her hoof at the blue mare. “I am!” She shouted, shocking both Fluttershy and Pinkie. The crowd roared in anticipation as Wattsie held her hoof in the air, calling for silence.
“So, rainbow-hair, what’s your name? It seemed to have been glitched when I got it,” Wattsie asked, staring straight at the angry mare.
“The name’s Rainbow Da—” Before she could finish, she felt a pair of hooves force her mouth closed as Fluttershy nearly tackled her onto the field.
“D-don’t say your last name,” Fluttershy warned her, confusing her brash friend.
“Why? It’s just my name...”
Fluttershy shuffled her hooves nervously and whispered, “Do you remember that police officer I talked to yesterday? When I mentioned your last name to him, he talked about some loss the Dash and Pie families went through. Please, we don’t need any more attention drawn to us than there already is.”
Rainbow huffed. “Fine.” The new challenger pushed Fluttershy to the side before stepping into the trainer’s box. “The name’s Rainbow... Bolt.”
“Rainbow Bolt, huh? You look more like a Dash to me,” Wattsie mused, giving Fluttershy shivers. “You know, now that I take a better look at you, you look just like Winona Dash... same cutie mark and everything...”
Winona? Fluttershy wondered, watching the showmare think of her next line. Where do I know a Winona? There’s Applejack’s dog, but... does May know a Winona? Could she be a gym leader?
“What a shame that you don’t have her classy silver mane instead of that ridiculous multicolored flop,” Wattsie commented, the crowd cheering as Rainbow’s face flushed a bright red. Fluttershy knew that, normally, Rainbow wouldn’t be offended by an off-color remark about her mane, but apparently, whatever this Trixie had done, she really hit Dash’s soft spot.
“Hey, why don’t you stop talking and fight already!” Rainbow snapped, taking the showmare aback.
“Alright then. If you’re that ready to lose, the Electrifying and Powerful Wattsie will be glad to oblige.” Out from her cape, Wattsie threw a Poké Ball to the field. As it hit the ground, it broke open, releasing a pudgy, orange mouse with a lightning bolt at the end of a long, thin black tail onto the field.
“Raii~” it growled in a low tone as electricity sparked from its yellow cheeks.
“Destroy it, Igni!” Rainbow called out, tossing the torchic’s Poké Ball onto the field. As Igni appeared, laughter erupted from Wattise as well as the crowd.
“A torchic? Wattsie has never seen such a pathetic starter in her entire life,” she snickered, succeeding in riling up the crowd.
“Wha—Igni isn’t pathetic! Igni, show her what a ‘pathetic’ torchic does!” Rainbow commanded, gritting her teeth and growling as she stared the showmare down. With a flash, white hot embers shot from the torchic’s mouth, hitting the mouse square in the belly. Without even wincing, the electric pokémon brushed off the embers off before taking a defensive posture.
“You’ll have to do better than that, Bolt. Raichu, use Body Slam,” Wattsie commanded, and the raichu sprang into action. Before Rainbow Dash could react, the pokémon had sprinted down the field and slammed shoulder first into Igni, sending him flying towards Rainbow. He hit the ground hard, carving a long divot in the battlefield.
“Igni, are you alright?” Rainbow asked, turning to see the raichu’s cheeks flowing with electricity. Strained, Igni forced himself up, stumbling over himself as he returned to the center of the arena.
“Raichu, finish it with a Thunderbolt; Wattsie is getting bored,” Wattsie stated, and the raichu began to glow with an intense, yellow light. Fluttershy could only watch as Rainbow’s mind raced to find something, anything for the dazed Igni to do as a large bolt of electricity was fired into the sky by the raichu.
“Igni, run!” Was the only thing Rainbow could yell out before the lightning bolt arced downward and struck the torchic, causing Rainbow to hold a hoof to her mouth as it hung open. With blackened feathers smoking, Igni flopped to the ground. Rainbow bolted out onto the field, scooping up the fallen pokémon and held it in her hooves. She pulled Igni close to her chest, silently lamenting her decision to jump into the gym fight as she glared menicingly at Wattsie. The crowd erupted in boos and heckles, and Wattsie stood with a large grin on her face as she looked down on the shaking Rainbow Dash.
“Are you done?” Wattsie asked condescendingly, holding her hoof up to try to quiet the crowd.
“No!” Rainbow snapped, taking Lorica’s Poké Ball and tossing it onto the field before she galloped back to the trainer’s area with Igni safely back in his Poké Ball. “I’m not finished with you yet!” She stared Wattsie down as she wiped the lingering tears from her eyes.
“So, your amazing plan to show up Wattsie after using a torchic is to challenge me with an aron? Trainers never cease to amaze me with how shortsighted they are.” Rainbow’s face glowed bright red as she watched the raichu begin to glow again.
“Lorica, Tackle!” Rainbow commanded, watching the now trembling Lorica try to speed down the field. He had made it halfway to the Raichu before it released the built-up discharge, firing the bolt directly at Lorica. It arced straight through him, causing him to fall over, his body twitching from the electrical surge.
Angry, the crowd clamored for more, raining boos and heckles down on Rainbow as she slowly marched onto the field. Fluttershy felt a lump form in her throat as she saw Rainbow’s mouth quiver at the sight of her fallen pokémon. With her eyes closed, Rainbow took a Poké Ball from her jacket pocket and sent Lorica back in before staring fiercely at the showmare, clenching her teeth as she glared at her opponent.
Before Rainbow stopped staring Wattsie down, Fluttershy noticed the gym leader flipping a switch close to her head that was connected to her mic. Fluttershy watched as Wattsie spoke to Rainbow, buts was unable to hear the mare’s voices over the incessant booing of the crowd. After Wattsie spoke, Rainbow turned and walked back to her end of the field with frustration strewn across her face.
With another flip of the switch, the microphone crackled over the loud speakers as Wattsie held her hoof to her chin. “Audience, Wattsie is surprised at you. Wattsie thought you knew better than to heckle her warm up.” Rainbow stopped, her mouth hung agape before snapping shut as her frustration turned to rage once again. “Wattsie is sorry for the delay, but the mystery trainer is still among these three.” The gym leader pointed at Fluttershy, catching the pegasus off-guard. “You! May Stannis, you are Wattsie’s real opponent.” A swell of excitement came over the crowd as Fluttershy approached the trainer’s box.
“H-how did you know? Why do you think it’s me?” Fluttershy asked, watching a smug smile creep over Wattsie’s face.
“It was easy, when Wattsie received the name of her opponent, it crackled ‘May Sta’ and ‘Flutters’. Any trainer worth their salt would know your face, May.” As the crowd cheered on, Wattsie motioned with her hoof, calling Fluttershy over to her side of the arena. Curious, the pegasus obliged, trotting over as she saw Wattsie once again shut her mic off.
“What is it?” Fluttershy asked as she reached the cable-strewn stage. “Shouldn’t we be fighting?”
“I know this may be personal, but what’s ‘Flutters’?” Wattsie asked, dropping the third- person speech and talking in a surprisingly mellow tone. “I just want to make sure none of the crowd hears it if it’s too personal.”
“Well, my name is—” Fluttershy paused, contemplating if the gym leader would believe her or not, and if she could even trust her with the truth. From what Fluttershy could glean from May’s memories, it didn’t seem like she would have anything to do with the armored stallion, but Rainbow’s story of the unicorn in Ponyville gave her cause to doubt. “It-it’s Fluttershy. My real name isn’t May.”
“Fl... Fluttershy?” Wattsie repeated, confused. “Why does that name sound so familiar...?” As she thought, Wattsie’s face turned into that of shock, making her stammer to try to say something. “I... n-never mind. You’re here for a gym battle; I won’t make you wait.”
The pegasus simply nodded before trotting back to her side of the arena, the speakers crackling to life once again.
“Sorry for the delay, Wattsie needed to make sure Ms. Stannis knew who she was dealing with,” Wattsie said, grinning as the crowd began chanting her name. “Let’s get this started, then.” Wattsie reared up on her hind legs and raised her front hooves in the air. The stadium once again grew dark as a single spotlight shone on the field, leaving everything around them black as pitch. “I am Wattise, the third gym leader of Hoenn’s Pokémon League! I accept your challenge, May Stannis. Come, show us what you can do,” Wattsie recited before sending her Raichu back into the arena, its cheeks sparking as it readied itself. “Show us all.”
With a deep breath to calm herself, Fluttershy tossed out her first pokémon. She tried keeping her concentration away from the outpouring of attention she was getting from the crowd. Freed from his Poké Ball, Alerce planted his legs firmly on the ground, yawning loudly as a smile grew on Wattsie’s face.
“A grotle? That’s more like it,” Wattsie said before thrusting her hoof out towards Alerce. “Raichu, Body Slam it, now!”
With a nod, the raichu sprang forward, charging the motionless Alerce. Right as it got close, Alerce whipped his head down, and then drove it up into the raichu’s chin, sending it soaring back across the arena before it impacted in a cloud of dust. The crowd grew silent as the mouse got up and shook itself off, charging for another attack. Oddly, the raichu’s sparking cheeks had gone dark, leaving Fluttershy confused.
“Why isn’t she using electrical attacks?” Fluttershy turned to her friends and asked. “Is Alerce strong against them?”
“Does the Pokédex say anything?” Pinkie asked. “There has to be something about it there, Oh! Or maybe you could just ask Wattsie!”
“I don’t think that she’ll tell me anything to help me win,” Fluttershy explained, glancing back at Alerce who was defending, awaiting a command. “What do you think I should do?”
“I don’t know! I’ve never fought with pokémon before. You’re the only one with a gym badge!” Pinkie argued.
“The only reason I won was because May took over when I froze up.” Fluttershy’s body violently shook. “I don’t think I can rely on that every time...” She looked down upon the grotle as it blocked the punches of the slowly tiring raichu.
It jumped back and panted, looking to Wattsie for its next command. The crowd stayed silent as Fluttershy stepped up to fight.
“What’s wrong? Wattsie has to keep her audience entertained,” Wattsie stated, watching her raichu heaving heavily from repeated blows to the turtle’s shell.
“Alerce, use Razor Leaf!” She commanded instinctively.
At his master’s command, Alerce shed a legion of pointed leaves from the brush on his back, they glowed with a faint green aura as they swirled around him. As Wattsie opened her mouth to issue a command, the leaves cut through the air, slashing at the Raichu as they passed by and stabbed into both the raichu and the stage behind it. It toppled over, and then exerted all its remaining effort trying to stand, only to be hit by another wave before falling unconscious. The crowd erupted in cheers as Wattsie frowned, returning the raichu back into its Poké Ball. She turned her mic off and whispered to the fallen pokémon before glaring at Fluttershy.
“Wattsie didn’t expect you to bring a grass type to my gym, May. You have merely caught Wattsie a little off-guard, that’s all,” Wattsie said, the crowd responding in kind. “I assure you, it won’t happen again.” Another Poké Ball was thrown out into the field, revealing a small, web-winged mouse. It looked like a flying squirrel with yellow-tinted flaps of skin for wings. “Flying-types beat grass, rookie. Emolga will take care of this.”
“A flying squirrel?” Rainbow huffed. “You can beat that thing, no problem.”
Unwilling to risk Alerce’s safety, she took out her Pokédex, scanned the Emolga and waited for a response. That mouse is so tiny; why does Wattsie think this mouse will do better than the last? The screen finally lit up again, revealing no answers to the confused pegasus. “It doesn’t know what it is!” Fluttershy stated, turning back to her friends.
“Use Wolver then if Wattsie is so worked up about it!” Pinkie suggested.
“Right.” Fluttershy nodded in agreement, returning Alerce back to his Poké Ball. She brought Wolver out, confusing the crowd and putting a smile on the gym leader’s face.
“Using an unevolved pokémon in place of an evolved starter?” Wattsie scoffed. “Emolga is already at his strongest, unlike that mutt you call a Poochyena. He never evolves, but is powerful enough already. You sure you want your precious pokémon to be taken out so easily?” Wolver began snarling as Rainbow slammed her hoof to the ground.
“Where does she get off!?” Rainbow argued. “Fluttershy, stamp that rat out!”
“Aren’t you being a bit harsh?” Pinkie asked. “I don’t really see what you find so wrong with her—”
“She humiliated me in front of everyone and is calling us idiots for not knowing their dumb system!”
“I don’t know; she told Fluttershy that flying is strong against grass, didn’t she? She’s helped a lot so far.”
“Are you done stalling?” Wattsie called out, bringing Fluttershy’s attention back to the fight. “Wattsie would suggest you issue a command before my whole audience falls asleep.”
“Alright then. Wolver, tackle it,” Fluttershy commanded and Wolver responded in kind. As he bulleted towards the flying squirrel, it launched itself into the air, hovering just out of Wolver’s reach.
“Air Slash,” Wattsie stated coolly, prompting the Emolga to swoop down with a glowing set of wings. It buzzed by several times, slashing at Wolver as he tried forcing it down to the ground.
“Bite it!” Fluttershy called out and, as the Emolga passed again, Wolver caught it in his mouth, biting down on it before releasing it. “Tackle!” As the electric pokémon stumbled back, Wolver plowed into it head first, causing it to fly back and cry out in pain. Before she realized it, a small unwanted smile had appeared on Fluttershy’s face. She shook her head to rid herself of it as a panic gripped her. She had never taken joy in animals’ suffering, and she racked her mind as to why it was happening now, thinking that May’s personality was seeping further in. The smile quickly faded as Wolver fell to the ground, its breaths coming in short, stuttered gasps.
“Wolver, are you okay?” was all Fluttershy was able to ask before a familiar ghostly white aura enveloped the fallen pokémon. “T-that’s...”
As Wolver tried to stand, he hacked up saliva, much as Alerce had before. His body arched back and grew in size. The pewter fur on his back and legs thickened into a sea of black as his eyes shrunk and twisted, granting him an angrier demeanor. Three final black streaks cut down his face before the aura dissipated and Wolver howled, much to the excitement of the crowd.
“Evolving your pokémon in the middle of the match?” Wattsie chuckled. “You definitely are your father’s daughter.”
“Th-thanks,” Fluttershy responded, wondering if Wattsie’s compliment was genuine or just a remnant of her old personality from May’s memories. The pegasus took a deep breath, and Wolver looked over to her for instruction as the Emolga struggled to stand. “Use Tackle,” she commanded, prompting the newly evolved pokémon to charge the electric squirrel and knock it into the front of Wattsie’s stage. It sat, pinned to the stage by the sheer force of the tackle, before sliding unceremoniously to the ground where it collapsed, unconscious.
“Wattsie has no more remaining pokémon!” the announcer declared, inciting a massive roar that filled the stadium as Wattsie dropped down from the stage to console her fallen pokémon. As she sent it back to its Poké Ball, she turned her mic off and directed Fluttershy to come to the middle of the stadium. “May Stannis is the winner and is one step closer to challenging the Champion of the Hoenn League!” the announcer said. Fluttershy nodded, slowly trotting to the center as she reveled in the cheers of her captivated audience. Maybe being seen by all these ponies wasn’t bad after all, she thought. Wattsie dug through a bag that had been concealed by her cape and held out a gold badge. It was shaped like a circle with a bar piercing through it diagonally.
“Here you go, you deserve this. The Dynamo Badge,” Wattsie said, placing the badge into Fluttershy’s hoof. “Take this as well.” She took a small bag out from behind her cape and placed it next to the badge. “2,400 gold pieces as your bounty. Maybe one day I’ll figure out why your name sounds so familiar to me. It just feels so... ominous to me.” She turned her microphone on again before stepping back and gesturing to Fluttershy. “Your champion!” Wattsie said, lifting Fluttershy’s hoof as the crowd cheered even harder while Fluttershy tentatively bowed.
“T-thank you,” Fluttershy said before placing her new badge beside her one from Rustboro. After shaking Wattsie’s hoof, she made her way back to her friends who looked eager to see her.
“That was amazing!” Pinkie cheered, hopping around as they made their way to the exit. “I can’t believe you already have another evolved pokémon!” Pinkie petted Wolver as he walked beside the three, nuzzling up against Fluttershy.
“Thanks, Pinkie,” Fluttershy said, patting Wolver on the head as they left through the side exit.
There, standing in the middle of the hallway, was Jake. He galloped up to the three with an excited look on his face.
“Congratulations! I saw the whole thing on the TVs up there,” he said, pointing up to the two televisions at the top corners of the gates. “You said you needed to find a Pokémon Center around here, right?”
“Yeah,” Fluttershy answered, looking over at Rainbow Dash who still seemed to be fuming. “A-are you okay?”
“Oh, she’s just being a cranky-pants,” Pinkie said with a snort, making Rainbow groan and roll her eyes.
“It’s just... I’ve been humiliated by her twice... TWICE!” Rainbow shouted before she sighed. “Let’s just go to the Pokémon Center.”
“Uh, twice?” Jake asked. “Did you fight her before?”
“What? No, I just... Never mind, let’s just go.”
“Alright, follow me,” Jake said, leading them out of the stadium and weaving through the massive crowd of ponies. As they all exited, he started to take them west, making sure they stayed close to him so they didn’t get lost within the rabble. They crossed a street and went down the sidewalk. Fluttershy yawned as the adrenaline of the gym match began to fade. “You know, there’s a lot of history down this road,” Jake started. “A long time ago, Mauville City was just a small town. A lot of the original buildings still stand, ones from before the population of the city skyrocketed-”
“Cool it with the history lesson,” Rainbow interrupted. “I just want to get to sleep and get this day over with.”
“Rainbow!” Pinkie shouted, scolding Rainbow as she momentarily halted her joyous hopping. “You know,” Pinkie began, turning back to their guide. “You kinda remind me of my friend Twilight, talking about old buildings and history and all that boring stuff!”
“Boring? I don’t think it’s boring...” Jake said, his enthusiasm deflated by Pinkie’s comment.
“Yeah...” Fluttershy agreed with Jake, the mention of Twilight’s name bringing up thoughts of home.
She was close to forgiving herself for making Twilight try that difficult spell, but it was hard when she hadn’t heard anything from the unicorn in such a long while. Fluttershy looked up at the buildings and noticed most of them had intricate designs carved into their stonework. They all exuded an old world charm, each of them weathered by the ravages of time, but they stood tall, comforting the pegasus with their sense of permanence, of stability. It put a smile on her face and gave her something to focus on as they made their way to the Pokémon Center.
“Here we are!” Jake stated, holding up a hoof to stop the girls from going any further. Fluttershy looked to see the familiar Pokémon Center symbol set in sandstone near the top of the four story building, lit only by the light from wrought-iron lanterns lining the road. “Yep, it’s the oldest Pokémon Center in the whole city. Probably the earliest remaining revival style hospital in the entire region!” He said this with such enthusiasm that it made Fluttershy wonder if he was actually majoring in architecture.
“Thank you so much,” Fluttershy said, trying to see if there was any way to see into the old building. “Is there some way we can repay you for this?”
“Oh, no worries. I didn’t really have anything to do after my match anyways, so I figured this was a good way to kill some time. I’ll probably be staying here for the night. My grovyle needs to be healed up, and they have some really comfortable beds upstairs.”
“Sounds good,” Rainbow said, excited for a change. “I’ll go up ahead and see if they have any rooms. I want to get up and take a look at my wing before I go to sleep.” With that, Rainbow made her way through the doorway, leaving the three to go in of their own accord.
“I need to drop off Alerce and Wolver off at the nurse’s desk. Go up without me, Pinkie,” Fluttershy said, opening the door for herself and peeking inside. The inside of the hospital looked to be the same as all the others, complete with the couches and television in the exact same positions. The only thing that seemed to be different was that the stairwell on the right went up instead of down. Pinkie and Jake soon followed.
“We’re in room 3E on the third floor,” Rainbow announced before charging up the stairwell. “Meet you girls up there!”
“Wait for me, Dashie!” Pinkie hollered, galloping up the stairs after the pegasus at the same breakneck speed.
After the pink pony disappeared up the stairs, Fluttershy made her way to the front desk. She noticed the white mare behind the counter waiting intently for Fluttershy.
“You friends with the rainbow-maned one?” the nurse asked just as Fluttershy returned Wolver to his Poké Ball.
“Yes, I am,” Fluttershy answered.
“Here are two keys to the room. I was going to give your pink friend a key, but she left before I could.” She slid two keys across the counter, looking at the Poké Ball in Fluttershy’s hoof. “Just one pokémon tonight?”
“No, two actually,” Fluttershy said, taking out Alerce’s Poké Ball and placing both on the counter before snatching the two keys from the counter top. “Thanks for looking after them. They were just in a gym fight.”
“Oh! Are you May? I just saw you on the TV. Nice job,” the nurse said before taking the two Poké Balls. “I’ll make sure they’re all healed for you in the morning.”
“Thank you,” Fluttershy said before trotting towards the flight of stairs. She then noticed Jake sitting down on one of the couches. “What are you going to do, Jake?”
“I’ll just get my own room. No need to bother you girls anymore than I already have,” he explained, passing by her as he made his way to the counter. Fluttershy bid him a quick farewell and ascended the stairs, reaching the third floor. She made her way down the plush-looking hallway and found room 3E on the right side towards the end of the hall. Fluttershy took one of the keys and unlocked the door. Inside, she found Pinkie setting up her bed as Rainbow inspected her wing.
“How’s your wing feeling?” Fluttershy asked, trotting up to Rainbow to inspect it herself. “Do you want me to take a look at it?”
“I’ll be fine. I think it’ll be just one more day until I’ll be flying again,” Rainbow said with a look of determination on her face. As she folded her wings back, she yawned and hopped up onto her bed before covering herself with the burgundy sheets. “Good night,” Rainbow said before turning away, a series of soft snores soon emanating from the cyan pegasus.
Fluttershy trotted up to her bed to get it ready, gently fluffing the sheets while Pinkie simply plopped on her bed and fell asleep instantaneously. Fluttershy chuckled, setting her backpack down before she headed for the light switch. Flipping it off, she yawned as she trotted back to her own bed. After putting her Pokédex and PokéNav into her bag, she carefully slipped herself beneath the covers and closed her eyes. She shifted herself a bit, trying to make herself comfortable before she found the perfect spot. As she relaxed, she sunk her head into the down filled pillow, her breathing slowing as she drifted off to sleep.
Fluttershy slowly opened her eyes, yawning as she squirmed beneath the covers.
It was still the middle of the night, and things were quiet and tranquil in the room. After tossing and turning several times, she scooted off the bed and rummaged through her bag to get out a canteen of water. As she dug through the bag, she felt something was off about the room. Fluttershy had no idea what it was until she stopped digging and listened to the silence.
The complete and utter silence. Not even the noise of her friends sleeping.
Quickly, Fluttershy flipped the light on only to find both Rainbow and Pinkie to be gone. Not knowing what to do, she went through her bag again and realized that her PokéNav was missing.
Where are they? Fluttershy wondered in a panic. Why did they leave me alone up here? What happened to my PokéNav...? What if—
Without another thought, she slung the backpack over her shoulder and left the room in search of them. Fluttershy traveled down the stairs as quickly as she could and found the same nurse that she had talked to before still standing behind the counter.
As she trotted over to her, Fluttershy asked, “Excuse me, h-have you seen my friends?” Thoughts of Rainbow and Pinkie being ponynapped played themselves out in her subconscious.
“The two mares you came in with earlier?” the nurse asked as she took a step back to make some distance between her and the frantic pegasus. “They both came down just a little bit earlier.”
“Do you know where they went?” Fluttershy inquired anxiously, leaning over the counter.
“The one with the rainbow-mane said something about going north to train.
“What about Pinkie?”
“Well, I asked her out of curiosity, but she just shushed me and said it was a secret.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “You hang out with some strange folk.”
“Thanks,” Fluttershy said, galloping out of the Pokémon Center and heading north to try to find Rainbow Dash.
The streets were relatively empty with only a few sleazy-looking ponies loitering about. Without her PokéNav, she had no map to rely on, so she began zigzagging her way from street to street as she went north, trying to find someplace where Rainbow might be training.
Ten minutes passed by before Fluttershy finally found her way out of Mauville City. She had exhausted herself with worry and now found herself slowing to a trot as she passed the city limits. Luckily, city lights illuminated much of the path out, including small street lights and a few lanterns which lined the northbound path. Fluttershy kept her pace, keeping her eyes peeled as she looked deep into the forest brush. The only things she could hear were the quiet sounds of nocturnal animals moving around within the trees. She used this to calm herself, imagining she was trotting peacefully just outside her cottage. She continued to dwell in her fantasy until a loud crash from farther down the path snapped her back to reality. Worried about what it could be, she sped up to a gallop, wondering if it might have been Rainbow. From the sounds of it, it was hard to imagine what was ahead could be training.
Her breath quickened as she bolted down the road, looking around frantically for any sign of her friend. Suddenly a blue blur flew by directly in front of her face, making her to stumble backwards as she watched it slam headlong into a tree. Fluttershy stared at it for a moment before recognizing it as Rainbow Dash, the cyan pegasus dropping face first into the dirt.
“Rainbow!” Fluttershy shouted as Rainbow opened her eyes with a fierce, determined look before getting to her hooves and galloping back towards the brush. Fluttershy extended a hoof to try to stop her, but it was of no use as the rainbow-maned pegasus disappeared into the forest.
All she could see was the occasional rustle of the bushes until a large plume of flame rose up from behind the brush, licking the leaves and making her worry the forest was about to burn. As she heard more impacts, Rainbow was knocked out from the brush again, skidding to a stop on the ground with her teeth bared.
“Rainbow!” Fluttershy yelled again, finally catching the roughed-up Rainbow Dash’s attention. She had several cuts and scrapes all over her body as well as dirt and leaves sticking to her coat. “What are you doing out here?”
“Training,” Rainbow replied monosyllabically, watching an unfamiliar bipedal pokémon hop out of the brush.
It was almost as tall as the mares, standing on legs that were reminiscent of Igni’s. It had an orange lower and a yellow upper body with wing-like arms each ending in a trio of claws. It stood proudly with three orange feathers atop its head, looking at the pair of pegasi with a fierce look in its crimson eyes.
“What’s that? Did Igni—”
“Yep!” Rainbow announced proudly. “He evolved after just a few minutes. It was so awesome! Anyway, Lorica and Lady weren’t much of a match for him afterward, so--”
“You brought Lady with you?” Fluttershy asked in a worried tone. “What pokémon does Pinkie have with her now?”
“Wait, what do you mean ‘what pokémon does Pinkie have’?” Rainbow asked, perplexed. “She isn’t back at the Pokémon Center?”
“No, she’s gone too.” Fluttershy stated, worried about what Pinkie could be getting herself into. “Do you have my PokéNav? It’s missing from my bag.”
“I never touched it. I just brought along Lady for some training,” Rainbow explained. “Like I said, we need to have all our Pokemon evolved to stand a chance.”
“Oh, okay,” Fluttershy said, sitting down and catching her breath. She took a swig of water while Rainbow sat down next to her.
They both sat in relative silence. Fluttershy watched the movement of the leaves as a calm wind blew, letting the cool breeze give her a strong feeling of being back in Ponyville. It reminded her of when she would sit near her cottage and simply listen to the leaves rustle in the winds.
“Hey Rainbow, do you miss home?” Fluttershy asked, immediately wondering why she would ask such an obvious question. The way that May’s personality and the whole region had begun seeping into her own thoughts made her worried that her friends were feeling the same.
“Yeah. This adventure is fun and all, but getting back to Wonderbolts training can’t come soon enough,” Rainbow said, smiling as she returned Igni to his Poké Ball. “I can’t say I’m not excited to meet that professor tomorrow; that armored stallion must be pretty important if a professor knows about him.” She paused for a moment, before jumping in front of Fluttershy. “Wait a minute; did you see anything in your memories about that armored freak? I’m sure May would know something.”
“I-I didn’t see anything. I only remember one thing he said. Though, his voice sounded really familiar...”
“As in May saw him a lot?”
“No, more personal than that. His voice just sounded... off somehow in the memory. Like he was acting or something.”
“Maybe you’ll get more out of May once we meet this Professor Maxwell guy,” Rainbow said as she stood up, looking back at Mauville City down the road. She yawned and helped Fluttershy to her hooves. “I’m going back to the hotel for some shut eye. You coming?”
“Yeah,” Fluttershy confirmed as the two mares trotted back to the city, the pair dead quiet from exhaustion as they both let the cooling winds calm them in preparation for the well deserved rest which lay ahead.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure Pinkie is just fine.”
Mauville Stadium was quiet; all the ponies had left for the night. The entrance was guarded by a single pony, dressed in a navy blue uniform. Luckily for Pinkie, he was asleep at his post, allowing her to slip easily into the stadium.
As she made her way inside, she noticed that the lights lining the outer hallways were dimmed but still on, letting her at least see where she was going as she traversed the shadowy stadium.
Her first impulse was to go into the arena to see if there was any sign of the pony she was looking for, being Pinkie Pie, she did just that.
All the bright lights that had lit the stadium just a few hours ago were completely dark, leaving the arena lit only by the dim fluorescent light seeping in through the cracks around the doors to the hallways.
The pink pony tilted her head up, looking for any sign of life in the stadium. She was on an important mission, and she wasn’t going to fail! As she made a pass, she could see no lights on in any of the box suites or offices that lined the middle and upper crests of the stadium. It seemed that nopony was home.
But just as she was about to leave to search elsewhere, a white light flickered on. Pinkie looked up and squinted to try making out the pony that had just entered an office in the upper section of the stadium. Pinkie gave a little hop and skip of excitement as she realized the mystery pony was Wattsie, draped in a nightgown. The pink pony immediately began to wave her forehooves frantically in an attempt to catch the other pony’s attention.
After Pinkie flailed her hooves for a few seconds, Wattsie pressed her face against the window and looked down at the now ecstatically bouncing Pinkie. With what looked like a sigh, Wattsie stepped away from the window and disappeared from view. Pinkie decided to wait, hoping that Wattsie had left to meet her down in the stadium and hopefully not to call the police. As she predicted, after several minutes of waiting, Wattsie entered the field from the northern gate. She yawned as she approached Pinkie, trotting lazily as she forced her eyes to stay open.
“Who are you, and what are you doing here?!” Wattsie demanded with a hiss. She stomped towards the pink pony, face contorting in frustration as the darkness of the stadium cast deep circles beneath her eyes. “It’s three in the morning, and I have a lot of paperwork to get done for tomorrow.”
“My name is Pinkie!” Pinkie exclaimed, trying to avoid using her last name as Fluttershy had insisted. “I just wanted to talk, and--” She stopped and shot Wattsie a curious glance. “Hey, what gives? You aren’t talking in third person anymore.”
“Oh, that?” the gym leader chuckled. “That’s just my shtick. It helps bring in an audience.” She trotted closer to Pinkie, looking her over before stepping back. “W-wait, aren’t you Rainbow Bolt’s friend? Oh no, you’re not here to sue for defamation of character, are you?”
“Oh, nothing like that, silly,” Pinkie said with a smile.
“Good,” Wattsie said, breathing a sigh of relief. “You have no idea how many trainers come after me with their lawyers after challenging me. It feels like I spend more on legal fees than I get paid some weeks.” She looked around the stadium with a faint smile on her face. “So, what are you here for then? It must be important for you to be out so late.”
“Of course!” Pinkie dipped her muzzle into her overalls and pulled out Fluttershy’s PokéNav, giving it a quick once over before putting it around her ankle. “You heard about what happened to Slateport, right?”
“Everypony has heard about it by now. Somepony leveled the entire city with a gyarados, correct? That’s what they keep telling me at least.”
“Fluttershy, I mean, May probably doesn’t want me talking about this with you, but we could really use your help.”
“My help?” Wattsie asked, cocking an eyebrow at Pinkie’s suggestion. “Need my help for what? And what does that have to do with Slateport for that matter?”
“Well, the stallion that destroyed Slateport was chasing after my friend, and probably still is.”
“You’re telling me you know who it was? You were there?!” Wattsie asked, her tone suddenly anxious.
“All we know is that it was a stallion. Nothing more, really. I’m trying to get a group of ponies together to help track this stallion down, starting with you and Stephanie. This will probably be huge, so—”
“Stephanie? As in ‘former champion of Hoenn’ Stephanie?” the gym leader scoffed. “I don’t know who you think you are, but there is no way you could be in contact with that Stephanie.”
“I have her number right here!” Pinkie exclaimed confidently, fumbling to find the phone application on the PokéNav. After just a few seconds of Wattsie staring at her while she fought the interface, she found it and thrust the PokéNav towards Wattsie. “See! Right there,” she said in triumph.
“Yeah, well that’s probably her public number,” Wattsie said as she looked over the screen. “I mean it’s on her business card, and--” She stopped for a moment, reading and rereading the number that was displayed before her. “T-this is her PokéNav number. How did you get this?”
“We met her in a cave near Dewford. She was really interested in May, so she gave us this PokéNav and her number. We’ve been in contact ever since.”
“Does Stephanie know about your little plan?”
“Well... She doesn’t know that I’m talking to analogues about it, but she knows about what happened in Slateport.”
“Analogues? I’m not sure I’m following—”
“Will you put down your number?” Pinkie interrupted, batting her eyes at the confused gym leader while putting on her biggest, most disarming smile.
“If Stephanie is in on this, this must be important. Here.” Wattsie began typing on the screen, entering her contact information right below Stephanie’s. “There we go. Naturally, I’ll be talking to Stephanie after this to make sure you aren’t just pulling my leg. Don’t expect my number to be the same if you are.”
“Okie-dokie! I’m sure it’ll be fine. Sure, Dashie won’t like it if—” Pinkie clasped a hoof over her mouth, hoping Wattsie hadn’t heard what she had just said.
“‘Dashie’?” Wattsie asked with a small smirk. “Anyway, I need to get some paperwork done and get some rest before I fight any trainers tomorrow. I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t see you out.”
“Of course. Talk to you later, friend!” Pinkie said as she trotted towards the arena exit, smiling as she looked down at Wattsie’s number on the PokéNav.
“Before you go, are you going anywhere tomorrow?” Wattsie asked, catching Pinkie’s attention just before she reached the exit. “Lavaridge, perhaps?”
“Yeah. Mt. Chimney first, though,” Pinkie explained, trying to be open with her new friend as she walked through the arena gates.
Wattsie watched Pinkie walk away and then turned to go back up to her office. A random pony being involved in the Slateport fire and having contact with Stephanie was alarming to her, making her anxious for the day to break so she could make her crucial phone call.
In the dim halls of the stadium, Pinkie hop-trotted with even more than usual, bubbling with a new confidence. With Wattsie being so quick to join, Pinkie’s plan was coming together much better than she had ever hoped. Much to Pinkie’s relief, even if the three mares from Equestria didn’t know much about Hoenn, the analogues certainly would.
Feeling secure in the knowledge that they now had two allies in their midst, Pinkie slowly made her way out of the stadium and back to the Pokémon Center to prepare for the next morning’s journey to Mt. Chimney.
Fluttershy and Rainbow will be so excited!
The rest of the night had passed quickly and the rising sun’s rays now illuminated the mares’ room. With less sleep than she had hoped for, Fluttershy awoke with a rumbling stomach to find that that both of her friends were still fast asleep. She sighed in relief to see that Pinkie was back in her bed. Not wanting to wake them, she quietly slipped out of bed, slung her bag onto her back, and made her way down to the main lobby.
Multitudes of ponies were lined up for the breakfast table, many more than Fluttershy had yet seen in a Pokémon Center. She sighed as she eyed the length of the line, realizing that it would be quite a while before she would have any food in her stomach. Deciding not to wait alone, she took the time to pick up her pokémon before returning back up the stairs to their room. As she entered, she found both Pinkie and Rainbow awake and preparing for their hike north.
“Morning,” Fluttershy said with a smile, receiving the same greeting back from both of her friends.
“Did you already check how long the line was for breakfast? I’m starving,” Rainbow asked, groaning as she heard her stomach growl.
“It looks like a twenty minute wait at the least.”
Rainbow sighed. “Alright, but we should get going as fast as possible. We don’t need to give that psycho anymore time to find us than he has had already.”
“Ooo, how did Lady do last night in training?” Pinkie asked.
“She did alri—” Rainbow cut herself off to stare at the pink pony. “Wait, you knew?”
“Yeah, of course. I saw you take her Poké Ball when you left. I didn’t mind though, I didn’t need her for where I went.”
“Pinkie, where did you go?” Fluttershy asked, watching Rainbow confront Pinkie as well.
“Well, I—” Pinkie was cut off by the loud ringing of Fluttershy’s Pokédex.
“Why is it going off now?” Fluttershy rummaged through her bag for a minute before pulling out the buzzing Pokédex. “Shouldn’t this only go off for a gym fight?”
“Open it!” Rainbow hollered in alarm, causing Fluttershy to open it in a panic.
“[[ TRAINER ( UNKNOWN - RAINBOW DASH ), YOU HAVE BEEN FORMALLY REQUESTED FOR A REMATCH AGAINST THE ( MAUVILLE CITY ) GYM LEADER AT TIME ( RIGHT NOW ) AT LOCATION ( NORTH EXIT OF MAUVILLE ). THIS MATCH WILL HAVE NO LASTING AFFECT ON— ]]”
Before the message could end, Rainbow Dash knocked the Pokédex out of Fluttershy’s hooves and sped out the door, leaving both Fluttershy and Pinkie alone in their room.
“Rainbow Dash!” Pinkie yelled after the cyan pegasus before galloping off to catch up with her friend. After jamming the Pokédex back in her pack, Fluttershy quickly followed suit. They rushed down the stairs and watched Rainbow finish scooping a hoofful of food directly into her mouth before speeding out the door, leaving behind a slew of disgruntled and tired trainers.
“Rainbow Dash, wait,” Fluttershy squeaked out. “I’m so sorry,” she said to the crowd of angry ponies as she and Pinkie barged out of the Pokémon Center.
As they looked down the road, they found Rainbow already a ways away, galloping around a distant corner. Confused, Fluttershy turned to Pinkie.
“What’s gotten into her? How did that message know Rainbow’s last name?”
“I may have talked with Wattsie last night and accidentally said ‘Dashie’ around her...” Pinkie admitted, grabbing Fluttershy’s PokéNav out of her overalls pocket. “I did get her phone number, though!”
“So that’s where it went. Anyway, why would she challenge Rainbow again?” Fluttershy stopped as she realized Rainbow was getting farther away the longer they talked. “N-never mind, come on,” Fluttershy stated before unfolding her wings and quickly rising above the buildings with a few hard flaps of her wings. She looked down below and watched Pinkie begin her galloping weave through the streets and saw Rainbow speeding towards the northern edge of Mauville.
With Rainbow in her sights, Fluttershy buzzed the tops of the city skyscrapers as she flew to intercept her. Before she knew it, however, Rainbow had disappeared into the forest, the thick branches of which obscured Fluttershy’s view.
After passing over the final building, Fluttershy made her descent. She glided down, watching Pinkie speed around a corner and head straight for her. Pinkie skidded to a stop as Fluttershy landed, both of them peering down the path.
“I don’t get it; Wattsie helped us more than she made fun of Dashie, right?” Pinkie asked as they entered the path.
“She did help me win... at least, I think she did,” Fluttershy answered as the cyan pegasus came into view. Rainbow Dash was stopped just past a bridge over a small creek with Igni out and standing next to her. “Rainbow!” Fluttershy yelled, catching Rainbow’s attention.
“Fluttershy! Pinkie!” Rainbow called out before glaring angrily at Wattsie who was standing in front of her with her raichu standing between the two. “There, both my friends are here like you wanted. Now, what do you want?” As Rainbow stood poised to strike, Fluttershy and Pinkie came up next to their friend, all three of them waiting to see what the gym leader would do.
“I called you out here for a rematch, that’s all. Just as a way to apologize for earlier.”
“Why are you apologizing to me? Don’t you have your gym to worry about?”
“I do, but your friend came to me last night and told me of your predicament. I talked to Stephanie this morning and your story seems to have checked out.” She paused for a moment. “I still worry about that girl.”
“Who told you my last name?” Rainbow shouted before Pinkie tapped her on the shoulder, the pink pony wearing a sheepish grin as she wave her hoof nervously. “Fine, whatever. You came out here because of Pinkie?”
“You could say that.” As she said this, she took a few steps back, separating her from the raichu. “So, I’m willing to give you a rematch as a small gesture of good will. I saw how angry you were with me yesterday, and I would much prefer to begin this partnership on favorable terms. It looks like your torchic has evolved into a combusken, so you look to be more than ready this time. I swear, between that and the Mightyena, you three continue to surprise me.”
“No thanks. I don’t need your pity rematch,” Rainbow responded harshly, before letting out a sigh as the gym leader stared at her, perplexed. “I’m sorry I went off like that, but if you’re willing to help, I think I can put my bad feelings aside.”
“If that’s your choice, I’m fine with it. I know why you would change your last name with what has happened recently, and I don’t blame you. You look just like her,” Wattsie said, stepping aside and prompting her raichu to do the same. “If anything happens, call me. Mauville City is the largest in all of Hoenn; every bit of news passes through here at some point. Good luck; I’m sure you’ll get a call from Stephanie at some point today.”
“Thank you,” Fluttershy said as Rainbow and Pinkie walked by, passing the gym leader and her raichu. Fluttershy slowly went to catch up to her friends, passing the raichu, but being stopped by Wattsie’s hoof.
“I know why your name is so familiar, Fluttershy,” Wattsie said, intriguing the yellow pegasus. “When I talked to Stephanie, she told me something about you being a ‘Blueprint’. I had read something about that in journals before, and your name came up. I never thought I’d meet you in person, though.”
“Uh, thanks?” Fluttershy said, wondering why Stephanie hadn’t said anything about this when she met with her the first time. “If you don’t mind me asking, why did you act like you knew why Rainbow hid her last name from you? I heard something about a Dash and Pie family member before, but nopony has said a word.”
“I’d hate to ruin your day talking about such things,” Wattsie said, removing her hoof from Fluttershy’s way before glancing towards the distant mountains. “I hear Mt. Chimney is nice this time of year.”
“T-thanks,” Fluttershy said, before galloping up the path to catch up to her friends as the implications of the gym leader’s words lingered.
She decided to ignore it for now, greeting her friends with a silent smile as they began the trek towards Mt. Chimney.