B4 — 9. V For Victory

PoV:

1:  Nova (Our Star and Fluffy Fashion Queen!)

2:  Rhea Everhart (Our Blonde Bombshell Future Supervillain!)

Pokemon Map: 

I loosely follow this map as a visual guide; the creator made it in paint?!?!  It’s insane!  Some errors here and there, but I follow its design for the most part.  Areas can be further apart, some cities are in the wrong places or not listed, and the regions aren’t nearly so close.  The best map I’ve found, though!

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1:50 p.m. October 19th, Monday, 106 PH (Post Hoopa Event).  Day 132.

Events:  Rhea and the girls are on a Badge Hunt, trying to get all the Kanto Encrusted Badges before time runs out!  Our girl started her journey on the 9th of June, and the end of registration for the Winter Indigo Cup is December 5th (46 days away).

The sounds of the crowd and announcers faded into the background as Nova’s focus centered on the older Espeon, her pretty lilac coat gleaming in the spotlights centered on them.  Her rapid heartbeat pounded in her fluffy ears, while her white poofy tail fur and the hair around her neck felt so stiff as the world floated by in slow motion.

Istar’s graceful poise as the Sun Pokemon readied herself to launch into an attack reminded her of her mother and all her lessons on her own potential transformations.  It wasn’t just the motherly, instructive tone Istar had but her poise and undefeatable presence.  She was testing her.

I can match her!  Just watch her carefully and test out where we differ in Stats and style.  Rhea will feed me updates as we fight.  Five minutes.  I can do this!

A surge of Normal Energy launched the Espeon forward that Nova mirrored, Sprint further increasing their speed; they became blurs, yet Istar’s confident smile deepened as she lowered herself in the last second, sliding under Nova’s butting head, ears pulled back, and nose lifting up to catch her chest.

Nova’s teeth clamped harder as she felt her force slide right over her lilac fur and arched back as Istar’s attack grazed her belly, throwing her into an aerial spiral.  Attempting to stabilize herself to land on her feet, she didn’t feel that much of a hit to her defensive matrix as Perception told her why; she’d purposefully redirected most of the blast at the last second.

Flying a few meters over the hard floor, she was a little stunned to spot a floating teleportation title directly in her path.  How was her Perception Ability so much more acute than hers to have such a good grasp on her environment?  There was no way she had this much environmental awareness without the Ability.

Legs glowing with light orange energy, she struck out mid-flip, back foot catching the edge of the tile and throwing it against the stone floor.  Using Double Kick’s downward momentum to change trajectory, she shot down and touched the ground.  Front paws pivoting with her second strike, the teleportation square bounced off at an angle, spinning it upward again for her back foot to send it right at Istar.

Sliding in a half circle as her Quick Attack faded, Istar smiled and flicked her tail to redirect the projectile at another teleportation tile.  It vanished to appear all the way across the stadium to skid across the ground.

Greg’s voice filled the stadium.  “Our Eeveelutions are feeling out their competition!  What a recovery from Nova.  And it’s about to heat up!”

Not skipping a beat, fire flickered in her mouth as she took a deep breath and launched three superheated spheres at the Espeon, now near the edge of the arena; Adaptability resonated with the element, almost doubling their size.

Istar’s tail illuminated and casually swept to her side, kicking up a large plume of dust, her patient smile becoming hazed as the fireballs entered the sand cloud, the heated air pushing parts of it aside; Nova’s eyes widened when she vanished.

Where’d she go?  Lulu’s sporadic connection to Rhea activated, bringing the worried Cosmog’s voice into her mind.

“Behind you, Big Sis!”

Detect activated, making the fur on her back bristle as she felt an attack coming from above her; Run Away fed strength to her legs, and she shot into a sprint, Perception giving her a wider view as she tilted her head to the side.

You’re kidding me!  Nova internally screamed, feeling so slow.  How does she know where every one of these pads goes?

The lilac-furred feline was several meters in the sky, materializing through a teleport tile, the red gem on her forehead erupting with light.  She barely dodged left as a multicolored beam zig-zagged from the stone, projecting Psychic Energy that barely missed her tail; it didn’t end there, though.

Trying to pick up speed with Run Away and Sprint, she cursed as it closed in on her, and she wasn’t positive if the Espeon had Adaptability.  A blue shell embraced her, and the ray sank into her shell, making her set her ground, the light dispersing over her Protect.

Istar chuckled while landing on the ground, showing an impressed smile.  “You are certainly difficult to pin down, Nova.  Of all the opponents I’ve faced, few have been able to recover and evade me so well.”

Nova couldn’t help a shiver as the intense back and forth came to a momentary pause.  As the Espeon seemed to want to reflect on it, she tried to find her breath.  “Hehe.  You’re so slippery!  Alice is fast, but no one has ever made me lose track of them so much or can change attack positions so rapidly—not even the Ralts I fought that had Teleport.  How did you get to that pad so fast?”

Istar stretched out her back as the commentators went over their last exchange.  “That is for you to find out, Dear.  I’ve battled in this arena almost all my life, and I’ve purposefully held back my growth, training very little in the conventional ways to increase my PP and internal strength.  I enjoy Silver and Gold-tier competitions.”

“C’mon,” Nova urged, fluffing out her fur a bit more and adding a pleading expression, “give me a little hint.  Rhea already told me you have Instinct, Sprint, Perception, and Detect, which makes you super hard to hit—especially Instinct—but what do you want me to do?”

“Hahaha!”  The graceful woman held a paw to her mouth as she looked up at the clock, showing three minutes and thirty seconds left on the clock.  “As it stands, I will win based on points for a timed match.  I want to see you explore your forms more rather than rely on your base Eevee Feats, so I guess I will need to be a little mean.”

“Mean?”  Nova asked, ears pulling back as she forced a smile.  “You haven’t been mean yet?  This feels a lot like a Gold-tier Battle.”

Istar showed her a charming smile.  “You could make this more of a Gold-tier match for me if you rose further to your potential.  So, let’s raise the stakes a little.  One last tip…  Espeon are quite fast on our feet, so Sprint and Run Away will only delay the inevitable.  You won’t win without being creative.  What would your father do?”

“My… dad?”  Nova asked, thrown off a little by the subject.  “I’ve never met him.”

“A shame.  Vee is quite the charmer,” Istar winked, implying she knew her father, which ruffled her fur.  “If I had so many evolutions at my disposal, with the permission to use them, I’d be using them fully to my advantage.  Let’s speed this up!”

White light encircled the Espeon as she darted at her; she didn’t have much time left to react at the distance Istar had launched from, and, for the first time, she didn’t trust Detect to get her out of the sticky situation.  There wasn’t a lot of time left to tilt the point system in her favor; she had to come up with something fast!

Fire embraced her as she went for her biggest Move in this form, cloaking her in flames and pushing her forward.  Rushing to meet the blurred Espeon, she tried to follow her movements while building what little momentum she could, Speed increasing a stage.

Istar pounced left and right, leaving a trail of white light and threatening both sides to break her Flame Charge.  Quick Attack made her fast enough to target either side, but if she could just predict where she’d be, her enhanced Fire Attack would definitely win the exchange.

Nova’s spinning mind came to a screeching halt as the glow around Istar broke just before they collided.  She had canceled Quick Attack?  Back legs bending to feed them power, Istar jumped into a front flip, allowing her back to be grazed by the flames and twisting partway through to land behind her.

Flame Charge mostly missed the elegant Pokemon, leaving Nova to twist around in confusion as her Speed increased just enough to spot Istar chasing her lit tail tip.  Her fire cloak dispersed, replaced by a blue shell as Nova somewhat panicked, yet the motherly Espeon stopped right outside of her barrier; she’d fallen right for her trap!

“Let’s see how well you do when limited,” she chimed.  “Two minutes.  I’d come up with a strategy fast to impress us!”

Her eyes grew big as Istar’s split tail swung around to create a waxy seal that she hadn’t seen before, and her link to Rhea was flooded by terror and hopelessness.  Knowing something dangerous was coming, her eye sparkled the moment Protect broke, attempting to dodge the waxy seal, yet Istar countered her Detect with Instinct.

“No!  Nova!  We can’t win if that hits you!  No!”

Nova never felt so dominated as Istar tackled her to the ground, the woman’s paw against her chest and pinning her on her back while lying on top of her.  Nova’s tail writhed as she tried to wiggle free, but she’d never been in this position before.

“H-Hey!  Stop!”

“Sorry, Sweetie!”  she said with a pained smile, the lilac-furred Pokemon grappling her against the stone as her tail burned the waxy seal into her side; she tried to use Quick Attack to fly away, only for it to fail, and chains seemed to lock almost all of her Moves the second the seal met her side, driving her mind into a frenzy.  “We’re running out of time, and I want to see—oof!”

“Get off!”

A cloak of flames erupted around them as Flame Charge exploded from within Nova’s core, more than ten times stronger than normal, and launched them into the sky.  Istar winced, managing to finish her initial attack and activate her Protect just before the fire erupted, carrying them upward toward the top of the stage barrier in a dazzling plume.

The heat radiating from her mixed with Rhea’s fear, blooming an internal fire that she’d experienced back in the Sinjoh Mountains during their training: Victini’s power transferred through her Trainer.

Istar’s barrier shattered halfway up, but she hadn’t been hit by the full charging built-up of the explosive attack before being thrown off to the side.  Feeling a little light-headed with the dissipating inferno that engulfed her entire being, Nova saw spots as she looked down from near the rafters.

Everything moved in slow motion as streaks of excess flames rained down on the stage, leaving patches of fire burning across the field.  It looked like something Sabin’s Houndoom might do in the videos Rhea had shown her, and Nova wondered if she was dreaming as she slowly fell.  All of her Moves were unsealed, ready to be used.

* * *

Rhea’s throat constricted, and her vision hazed as a volcanic eruption burst out of her core and into her chest, spreading to every fiber of her being.  The whole world flashed with colors as a floodgate cracked open, passing between her and Nova, separated from her other Pokemon.

The surge was so fast that she didn’t have time to process what was happening, and spontaneously, Nova flew into the sky in a wave of flames.  She spotted Istar’s Protect shatter the moment her vision cleared, yet the Espeon managed to spread out her legs and land on one of the teleport pad’s edges to stabilize herself; it coasted through the air to a stop against the barrier while streams of pure Fire Energy arched out of her Flareon.

Sweat started to gather under Rhea’s armpits from the surge of V’s power that flared out, heating the platform she stood on.  From the corner of her eye, she saw the large overhead display focused on her, radiating a wispy red aura that she hadn’t meant to use; she hadn’t managed to use this ability without Maria’s support.  Why had it activated now, of all places?  It was far too dangerous!

Nova was in a semi-loopy state from the surge of Legendary Energy that had been transferred to her, multiplying her attack as if it was a Z-Move.  Rhea’s skin tingled as if every cell was pushing her to take to the sky and fly.

Twitching into action, she was about to recall Nova before the Flareon hit the ground, knowing she wasn’t stable enough to link the red beam, but Istar shot into action to save her opponent from the potentially damaging fall.

The Espeon tilted the tile she hovered on, illuminated tail flicking it as she jumped off, using the barrier as a platform to redirect her momentum to the stage, still being peppered with flames.  The teleport pad launched toward Nova, hitting her partway down and transporting her to another one of the floating squares.  Istar landed on a cleared patch of the arena, between the patches of red, orange, and yellow fire.

Greg and Ted went crazy, the crowd jumping to their feet at the display typically seen more in High Platinum-tier.

“Imprison!  There it is, folks!  Istar has Nova pinned under her; she’s not escaping, Ted!”

“One of the most dreaded Moves in Gold and above, folks!”

“Nova is going to have to—what the…  Flame Blitz?  Istar’s Protect shatters!”

“No!”  Greg shouted.  “That’s gotta be Inferno Overdrive!”

“In Silver-tier?!  Muk, that’s intense—Istar managed to recover, but our star inferno is still—what a good sportswoman!  Is this not planned?  Istar redirects a teleport pad to save Nova from a harsh fall into a pool of supercharged flames!”

Greg looked up at the countdown.  “Did the time stop?  Gym Leader Sabrina?”

Rhea gulped as she saw the pink-illuminated, narrow-eyed stare Sabrina gave her through the display; without a doubt in her mind, the Psychic had instructed Istar to action.

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That one Move could have actually killed the helpful Espeon, someone she felt Nova had come to respect and admire.  Her fingers paused over the button to connect her voice to the stadium speakers as Sabrina’s voice entered her mind, unheard by everyone else.

“Don’t forfeit.”  She curled her fingers to dig her nails into her palm, biting her lower lip as the Grandmaster continued their silent conversation.

“This was what I really wanted an answer to…  Ash wanted me to push you and Nova since her unstable genetics, mixed with whatever your mother did to you, could cause a resonance that drew out some inner power…  I have my own suspicions at this point, and you needn’t reveal the truth.”    

Sabrina’s voice came over the intercom as the microphone rose to float in front of her, and Istar was pulled back into her Poke Ball.

“We will take a fifteen-minute respite and continue the match.  Two of the Gym Masters will have a light match for your entertainment.  At its conclusion, Ms. Everhart and I will resume our battle with five minutes on the clock.”

“Go to the first room on your right.  I will meet you there shortly.”

Hand pressing against her chest, Rhea tried to ease the rapid thumps that pounded against her ribs.  She swallowed the lump in her throat and returned Nova to her capsule, only now returning to her senses to look down at the blackened stone across the stage.

Lulu jumped onto her shoulder and hugged her neck, unsure what was going on.  Nova’s concerned nudges followed as Rhea pressed the button to be lowered to the walkway back to the locker rooms.

No, Nova, she sighed, wiping the sweat from her brow; it felt like she could run a marathon rather than being exhausted.  It’s not your fault…  I’m supposed to be the one mediating and balancing all of us.

Sucking in her bottom lip as she passed one of the Gym Masters that ran by her to entertain the crowd, Rhea felt confusion twist her gut.  She put pressure against her cuticles as she tried to help Nova understand what they’d just done and process it herself, shock still gripping her.

No, it wasn’t a Z-Move, Alice, she internally mumbled, opening the door to what looked to be a small conference room with a bridging door that led somewhere else.  It’s a lot stronger than that… and I’ll feel it later.

She sank into a seat and hugged herself, suddenly feeling cold as a shiver ran through her spine.  Icy tingles cascaded up her frame, followed by hot needles.  In reality, she really could run at full speed for hours with this kind of energy surging through her, and there was nothing she could do to stop it since she didn’t know how to start it in the first place.

We unlocked a pathway to synchronize with V, but it’s different than how you perform a Z-Move because of the type of energy and the level of link that is required to do it.  My whole Fortitude nerve system was activated for a brief second, at least, that’s what Maria said…

She was a little surprised when Sabrina opened the opposite door and closed it behind her, wearing a small smile Rhea hadn’t expected, and Rhea instantly blurted out an apology.

“I’m sorry!”

The dark-haired Psychic flicked back her long black bangs as they floated behind her, a chuckle shaking her chest as she moved to sit cross-legged in the chair across from her.

“It was no trouble, Rhea; please, do not think I am angry.  I am sure ratings and this fight’s sales will soar through the roof with that performance.  Bring Nova out so that Istar can have a chat with her; she’d like to get better acquainted with your gifted beautiful Eevee.  On a different note, I am concerned about your body, though, which is why I postponed our battle.”

A tad taken aback, Rhea mechanically released Nova as her somewhat singed, lilac-furred opponent exited her own floating Poke Ball to show an encouraging smile at her suddenly shy and ashamed Pokemon.  It only took one look at Istar to see that her energy matrix had taken a decent hit from the Legendary Energy-enhanced Flame Charge.

“It’s… a good thing Istar is so good at dodging and had her Protect up…”  Rhea mumbled, tears suddenly coming to her eyes as the pressure from the incident suddenly struck her chest.  The weight doubled upon watching Nova worriedly nuzzle her older opponent, asking if the woman was okay.

“I could have… killed her.  I don’t know what came over me—I saw the battle Sabin had with Kate—I knew we might lose if it connected, and… it just… happened.”

Sabrina showed a lot more emotion as she leaned against her knee, face far more animated than her stoic public persona.  “Ash specifically warned the League it might happen at some point.  From my own Psychic senses, I would say it had something to do with a sense of hopelessness and dread that was the catalyst.”

Rhea’s slick, coral-blue eyes widened as it clicked in her mind: Victini was the Victory Pokemon.  V resonated with her need for support when she’d lost all hope due to her brother’s warning about the Move just before she started her journey.  Rather than using the knowledge to fight against it, she’d let herself believe she was fighting her own brother and knowing she couldn’t win.

Sinking back into her seat, Rhea rubbed her face with a low groan.  “I wasn’t even desperate…  I can’t believe I lost faith in Nova…  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry, Nova…”

“Flare-flare?”  She sniffed back her tears as Nova hopped up to press her paws against her knee and nuzzle her face with her wet nose.  “Flare!”

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Fighting back her emotions, face flaming and probably more than a little puffy, Rhea pulled Nova up onto her lap as Alice exited her Poke Ball to comfort her, too, while Lulu latched onto her neck.

“Lop!  Lop!”

“Nee?  Nee-nene-nee?”  her cosmic cloud asked, wanting to know where it hurt before glaring at Sabrina.  “Nee!  Nee-nee!”

Sabrina’s smile softened as she leaned forward to pat her head.  “It’s okay, Rhea.  Hehe.  Do you know how much trouble I got into with my powers growing up?  I turned my parents into dolls—dolls!  I did some horrible things, but Ash saved them, and my parents got me the help I needed by seeking Olympia’s support in tutoring me.  That and a lot of social skills training in Rocket; that period of my life was a trip!  I totally understand the struggle to control your own abilities.”

Rhea tucked in her bottom lip, taking comfort from the woman’s gentle touch and words; the scary, rookie-crusher Gym Leader was totally a softy when outside her hard Gym persona.  She’d never heard about this side of her, even through the Master circles.

“What should I do?  I was supposed to go to Maria to stop myself from becoming unstable and blowing up or something…  What if that happened to someone that isn’t… isn’t…”

Sabrina winked and sat back with a short chortle.  “Isn’t a Psychic Grandmaster who can see what will happen before it happens and prepare my Pokemon for it?”

Vision falling to the woman’s red boots, she sighed.  “Yeah…  ”

Leaning to the side of her chair and resting the back of her hand against her cheek, Sabrina’s pink eyes turned blue as she quit using her psychic powers.  “It’s simple, really.  Have faith in your Pokemon.”

“Flare!”

“Ne-ne!”

“Lopunny!”

Rhea forced a teary smile as her Pokemon hugged her.  “Is… it really that easy?”

Sabrina gave a weak shrug.  “Keep in mind I am not an Aura Grandmaster like Ash, but from my perspective, that small, well-hidden consciousness buried deep within you responded to your loss in hope.  Why did that happen once you saw Istar use Imprison?  If you can discover the cause, then you can work out a solution.”

“Ah-heh.  You kind of sound like Amira,” Rhea whispered, stroking her Pokemon to let them know she was going to be alright.  “My brother showed me how strong that Move was just before I started my journey, and… I had this stupid idea that maybe it was Platinum-tier because of that—I don’t know.”

“I see,” Sabrina hummed, smiling gently while leaning into the back of her hand.  “You really admire and look up to your brother?”

Rhea quietly nodded, and Sabrina glanced down at Istar, engaged in licking her fur to clean off the dirtied patches.  “Your mental instability appears to be calming down, and you have an answer as to how to prevent that from happening again.  Do you think your brother would believe in you to overcome this Gym challenge?”

“Probably,” she smiled, wondering if he’d secretly infiltrated the stands to watch; it would be like him.  It was like that for most of her family.  “I kind of feel really silly now.  I have a plan to beat Istar, and I think it’s what you wanted us to do all along.”

Sabrina’s dark hair shifted with her head movements as she directed them to the preening Espeon.  “All of this was Istar’s idea.  She really looks up to Nova’s parents, and she wants to help her get stronger…”

“Espeon,” she purred, looking up at her apprehensive Eevee.

Whatever she said put a dazzling grin on Nova’s face.  “Flareon.”

“Hmm-hmm.  Yes, she has already exceeded expectations for being so young.”  The Espeon paused as Sabrina’s eyes illuminated and the cat was floated up to be nuzzled and stroked by the Psychic.  “You’ve been a naughty kitty and trying to ruin my reputation!  I’ll have to punish you with love when this is all over.”

“Esp-esp…”

“Hehe.  Yes, I know I am hopeless.  Are you ready to begin where we left off, Rhea?  I know there will be a harsh backlash to your Fortitude after what you did, so don’t push yourself if that is the case.  The minions should have cleaned up the fire by now.”

Feeling better after Sabrina’s pep-talk and caring tone, Rhea moved her Pokemon off her lap, linked her fingers, and stretched her arms high overhead with a low groan.  “I feel absolutely on fire right now, but give it a few hours to fizzle out, and I’ll be dead to the world with aches and pains in places that make no logical sense.  Minions?”

“I don’t envy.”  Sabrina snickered.  “And yes, I call them my minions.  A habit from my Rocket days.  It’s nice having people do the dirty work while we can laze about.  In addition, the burst of psychic energy they released from the stress you put on them was thrilling; it isn’t easy to follow up your fireworks display!  Sure, they’re Masters, but a Silver girl shooting off a Platinum-tier Move makes waves.”

“Hehe.  I’ll have to apologize.  What do we say about it?”

The Psychic giggled, finger held to her lips.  “And why must we say anything?  Let people speculate and stew in the mystery,” she said with an impish gleam in her pink eyes.  “It can spark some interesting conversations in the future, I’m sure.  Nova will need to start the battle with an Imprison on her due to your powers erasing it since that was cheating.”

“Understood.”  Rhea pursed her lips to the side, now leery-eyed.  “What have you foreseen?”

“Do you know what is fun about having such potent foresight?”  Sabrina asked, floating up from her chair instead of standing as her cat lay in her lap.

Rhea shook her head, her Pokemon trying to pester Istar for the answer.  “Teasing people?”

“Perfectly stated!  See you soon, Fire Starter,” Sabrina said with a mysterious twinkle in her illuminated eyes.  “Show Istar a good time.  She deserves a treat despite all her bad behavior.”

“Esp!  Espeon,” the cat huffed, looking away with a pout as the Psychic kissed her gem and floated them out of the room.  “Espeon.”

“Flareon!”

Nova’s tail wagged as Rhea returned her girls to their Poke Balls, and Lulu hopped on top of her head, now excited for the battle to continue.  Rhea looked down at her Pokemon, thinking back to Mya’s previous fight and how hopeless that was, as well.  Sabrina really had set all this up to test them; the Gym Leaders personalized every challenge to the individual, and she was starting to see how amazing they really were.

Let’s win this!  It’s too bad Mya missed all of this; she’s going to be Muking pissed!

Hand tightening around Nova’s capsule, she exited to finish out her match against one of the most feared Gym Leaders in all of Kanto and Johto.  She couldn’t have pulled this strategy off before her training under Maria, but now, she was sure they could do it.

Nova, you really are a menace.  I can see why the League restricted us.


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