The Skyarrow Bridge was beautiful. We spent a whole day walking across it alone. It was long and arduous but we managed to make our way into Castelia City. We’ve been taking some days off to get to know our new research member: Elle the Petilil, and in that time I’ve managed to deduce that not only does she have a little crush on me, but she’s a lovely dancer! She’s become such a mood maker for Orla and Ruff as they get used to their new, larger forms.
Ruff’s long black cape-like fur on his back has been so comfortable and a nice calming stimulus for when I’ve been upset, while Orla’s dual shells allow both me and her to fiddle while talking. I gave her a new blackboard as a present, she’s still practicing writing, but nothing legible yet. We’re understanding each other more bit by bit. The four of us are really getting our rhythm.
As well as having a pseudo-recon together in the most classy hotel I’ve ever been in, it was all paid for by Lenora herself! On arrival to Castelia we were welcomed by hotel staff expecting us at the gate terminal, there we were given a VIP relaxation package. We were told one more gift would be arriving, but none of us have the foggiest clue what it is.
“I tell you what, Ruff, the spa’s in Galar have nothing on this sauna.” Not even the Circhester baths could compare. He growls in agreeance...despite never having been to Galar. A knock on the window alerts me, wrapping myself up with a towel.
“Hello, Mister Alec. Lenora’s final gift has arrived, and I would recommend coming down to reception shortly.”
“Really? Cheers, I’ll be down in a sec.” The staff here have been so accommodating. I hope it’s not because Lenora told them I was a little...under the weather with another pair of my Pokémon leaving.
As I dry myself off in my suite, getting my clothes back on, Orla and Elle walk in: Elle in her arms.
“I see you two’ve been getting along great, get the message too?”
“Perfect, I’ll get my bag sorted and we can make our way down then. Ruff’s still drying off.” He shakes for the hundredth time in the ensuite.
When we arrive downstairs there’s a pilot? Captain? An important looking man awaiting us. I don’t know who he is, but his uniform is appreciated.
“Good afternoon, sir. Gym Leader Lenora has bought you one of our esteemed Liberty Passes! We sail off to the Liberty Island off the coast of Castelia in an hour, be there and be ready for a luscious, relaxing air which is the remains of an ancient abandoned lighthouse!” He hands me the envelope and makes his way out.
“That’s Captain Hackney. He’s an associate of the hotel, but we have no idea why he does things like that.” The receptionist pipes up, with a bite in her tone.
“What do you mean?”
“Listen buddy, he’s cute but he’s weird cute you get me? I see you, I see you.” I grimace at the remark, squinting to get a better look at her nametag.
“Anytime, hun. Castelia’s a big place with big egos. People like us gotta stick together.” Right. Off we go to the harbour.
The journey was fine. The crew was a little too happy-happy for my taste, alongside the Captain, but I’m not going to complain considering. The actual island is quite small, definitely not what I was expecting when he was toting a luscious garden earlier. It’s comfortable though. I have all my Pokémon out with me as well considering we all deserve this holiday together.
“Is there anything else you need, Alec?”
“No, Captain. Thank you for asking. Again.” He nods, tipping his hat and leaving me alone on a shoreside bench. Orla sits next to me after leaving Ruff and Elle in the flowers. She hands me a lemonade from my bag.
“Dewah.” Staring into the sky, it’s just a clean blanket of blue. So bright. I can’t help but think all of Lenora’s treatment is a bit full on but I do admit, travelling any more right now would probably be a shock to the system. It’s been a weird week. I’ve not even been gone from Nuvema for a month and all this crazy, crazy stuff is happening!
Orla slurps on her own lemonade, sighing in the process. I wonder what she’s thinking.
Damn this whole research expedition stuff is exhausting. This was not in my contract.
“Everyone look! The Liberty Tower’s chimney!” The Captain shouts from his boat. I stand and turn. The very same tower that was dormant and abandoned showed signs of life.
I gather my Pokémon and run towards it. Remembering some of what Lenora had written in her research papers, she had a theory that Liberty Tower might contain some information pertaining to Reshiram, and I was not going to let this opportunity slip. Not the first solidly legendary thing I find.
“Alec! You can’t go in there!” The Captain shouts.
“Sorry, I can’t hear you over my brain going five hundred miles per hour!” I wiggle my way through the crowd of people amassing at the entrance, slipping past a burly security guard keeping them at bay, and sneak through the only door into the building.
Inside, I wait for my Pokémon to join me. Orla, check, Ruff, check. Elle...check! We take in our surroundings.
The inside of the tower is sombre. Calm and noiseless. The walls are so thick you can’t even make out the crowds conglomerating outside.
“Yeah, it’s spooky. But if there’s something in here we have to talk to them.” In Lenora’s papers she stated that one of the heroes in the Unovan legend cited Liberty Island as their place of respite. We travel deeper into the ancient tower to discover something that looked like a dining hall. A large table in the centre surrounded by chairs and shattered glass.
“Be careful everyone.” They all nod accordingly, beginning their snoop. The hero in question brought his partner here before every battle they partook in: with this place being dubbed the Liberty Island due to one such battle being the one that freed Unova from chaotic monarchy.
We venture further in. Dank and brooding. Orla readies her shells just in case, we can always count on her instinct, if not a little drastic. The essays spoke of the dubious nature which was the coincidence of Unova reigning supreme for so many years due to this ritual, the people of Castelia especially have become very superstitious when it comes to protecting Liberty Island.
Ruff and Elle's search takes them into every corner, Ruff digging around cautiously, whilst at the bottom of the cellar Elle reveals a small passageway door.
"Lil! Pelil!" She chirps from the damp corner.
"Good job, lass." She blushes.
Opening it up reveals...a bedroom.
There were children’s toys scattered across the floor, resembling the likes of many Unovan Pokémon. Elle begins playing with some while we investigate, the little cherub deserves a little break for finding this, after all. When I approach the bed, I see something moving up and down: something is alive and under that bed sheet.
Noticing this, Orla rips the blanket off the bed, revealing a small yellow and orange creature with a black and white scarf around their neck. I’d never seen anything like it before. They resemble Pokémon like Vulpix, but bipedal in build? None of us make a sound, trying not to wake them up…
Elle breaks that silence by knocking over a Watchog block tower.
Waking up the tiny beast.
None of us move, trying not to agitate them, but they open their large sapphire-like eyes and...smile. Waving spritely at us.
“Vee!” They’re…very happy for someone who just woke up.
“You, who are you?” Not even Alec knows what kind of Pokémon this is, and he knows a lot.
“Me? Well first of all I think you should put those shelly thingies down, miss!” They talk. Wait, of course they do.
“My name is Elle! Hi, nice to meetcha, I’m the gal pal everyone needs and wants! This here is my bestie Orla, she’s a little antsy because of reasons and this is the chipper pupper: Ruff!”
“I say ruff.”
“You certainly do! My name is:...”
Victini. This is a Pokémon described by Lenora as the Victory Pokémon. This is the Pokémon the heroes of Unova met before every conflict they ever fought...but supposedly their last one, because they came to Liberty Island separately, Victini didn’t bless either with their victorious spirit.
“You’re causing a lot of fuss by getting up after all this time you know...you aren’t necessarily a Legendary Pokémon, since scripture’s been talking about you for millenia.”
“What do we do? We can’t have anyone else see you…” Orla looks puzzled by this. “Well if that crazy Captain or the other islanders get a glimpse of this Victini what are they going to do to them?” She nods. Elle hops onto the bed and begins talking to them.
I let the whole scene play out while I note down my observations of the room, if this is truly where the heroes of Unova came could this be...one of their bedrooms? Or maybe it's one specifically made to make this Victini comfortable so they could trust it would always be here.
Maybe Victini asked them to stay instead...wait what?
I turn to see Victini is gone, with Elle waving a Poké Ball in her plumes.
“What did you guys do!? Did you just?” They nod. “...we need to go.”
I sweep Elle into my arms, Poké Ball in tow and make a break out of the bedroom. We race our way through the dining room and back to the entrance, Orla panting while Ruff rushes to find another exit. Nothing could be worse than the attention of people seeing me with a shiny new Pokémon after leaving the building.
"Grrrrff!" Ruff finds a convenient side door in a storage room that we all manage to get out of. I guess Percy taught him a lot about this kind of thing. We scramble our way to the harbour. Evaluating the situation there's still a bunch of people standing outside the door, we make a dash to the harbour, jumping aboard Captain Hackney’s boat.
“Alec! What happened in there!?”
“I’ll explain on the way, we just need to go. Now.”
“Hahaha! You caught Victini, huh?” His laugh bellows throughout the ship.
“Yes...yes…” I sit, sulking in the quarters.
“Well, all your other Pokémon have a name. What about this fella?” I beckon Victini from the Poké Ball.
“You’re a lot more casual about this than I thought.” Victini starts flying around the Captain’s head.
“We met years ago when I first started porting to Liberty Island. Nobody was visiting at the time, so nobody knew about it. It’s said that trainers don’t catch one though, Victini has to choose. So good job!” I blush at the sentiment...Victini flitters around happily. I take out my pen and paper, handing my selection of names to Victini. It brands the page with it's hand…
“Finn. Welcome to the research team then, Finn!”
“By the way, kid… Captain Handsome?” Oh no.