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Should I keep uploading pictures for the chapters?  

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  1. 1. Should I keep uploading pictures for the chapters?

    • Yes, you can even add more!
      11
    • Try and make less of them.
      2
    • It's better without pictures altogether.
      0
  2. 2. Should I keep uploading pictures for main battles?

    • Yes, keep them about the in-game battles.
      7
    • Try and post some about how the battles are narrated.
      5
    • No, the story is self-sufficient.
      1

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Making pictures is time-consuming, but the finale is almost over -- although you won't have it before a few weeks. If I'm staying in the "one per week" rhythm, that makes the last (Part 2) chapter on the day after Christmas. It may not be a read for Christmas anyway, so that's perfect. 

 

Anyway, here's a new chapter! Hope you'll enjoy it. 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 41: Fire Fighter

 

 

Spoiler

Needless to say, I wasn't very glad when I started my slow hike to the top of Pyrous Mountain. My preparations had been minimal -- I had managed to get water and some food, be lent a map and a compass from a hiker on his resting day, and I had also managed to get a huge overcoat with a hood, wide enough for me and my bag should it start to rain.

 

Victoria had kindly given me some information on the student I had been told to defeat. He was a young man which I assumed (for reasons it would be indiscrete to explain) was about her age -- and thus mine --, given the offhand comment she made about him. He was named Cal, had bright red hair and was a former Fire-type Gym Leader, and, as such, quite a strong Trainer.

 

So I had slightly modified my team, made Sicy and Antum rest, and so I was going with, instead, Leaf, Hex, Batley, Tech, Mouse and Watt. I didn't have anything very effective against Fire-type mons, but I hoped that with the right amount of focus on defense, it could work out.

 

PcG6LFu.png

 

According to the map, the way to the top of Pyrous Mountain was over ten kilometers long, with almost a thousand meters up. Luckily, the weather was cold and clear, giving me a very good motivation to walk with an energetic pace.

 

Early on, the landscape was rocky and barren, with little grass or flora, but the path was clearly defined and I met a few hikers along the way. However, as soon as I was on my own again, I started feeling very small and very exposed, as with a target on my back. Solaris could swoop in at any time and decide to murder me, I knew, and I had to live on with that knowledge -- even keep defying his organization.

 

Days of madness. How could life have become so complicated so fast?

 

It used to be so simple. Find new class, start learning, get good grades. Find a project, get learning, be as thorough as you could, get a decent grade. What had gone wrong? I scoured my memories, trying to find a recent element, even a tiny one, that could explain how, why, it all started. But it was fruitless. It was as if I had woken up one day and got myself conscripted in a war, a desperate, losing one.

 

Was I in Hell being invaded by Heaven?

 

The question should have sounded stupid -- and it still did -- but given how wretched Reborn City was, and the insistence of Team Meteor on holiness, perhaps it was worth pondering. But of course, these were the only elements that might have supported this fantasy, while there was extensive evidence against it. My not remembering having been evil (and certainly not consciously willing so), for instance. My not remembering dying or making a contract with Hell. The little thing of Hell and Heaven being metaphors.

 

How would I know? a little voice kept playing devil's advocate.

 

I forced it to shut up and focused again on the long, lonesome walk, and the rhythm of my paces and breathing as I was nearing the mountain and the path started going up more markedly. One pace... the other... keeping my breath very steady. And going on.

 

Frustratingly, the path was less clear-cut and anything but straight, it laced around the volcano cone and made U-turns at the strangest spots. The map indicated that it was to avoid the "hot spots", places where the crust of the volcano was cracked, and there was thus a slow, continuous large leak of thick lava. Some unknown event, they speculated, had lately damaged the main vent, leading to the formation of these new and temporary hot spots.

 

The map claimed that the volcano used to have a large fauna of Fire- and Fighting-type Pokemon, most of them lively, curious, and eager for challenges. But recently -- and that fit what I was seeing -- all of these Pokemon had started very carefully avoiding contact with humans. It looked a perfectly sensible reaction, I noted, and yet something was off. The authors of the map attributed it to human activities and the unhealthy surge in pollution in the lake, which was, I thought, pretty plausible.

 

After one small snack break, I made a real one for lunch, at perhaps one in the afternoon, when I wasn't too far from my goal, according to the map. I sat on the side of the path, the flank of the volcano providing a poor, dirty, rough, inadequate, but at least existing, backrest, and I could relax my weary legs for a while. Shut my eyes as if it was just a picnic for a hike... Like some people adored... But I had to go on regardless, as fast as I could. Given how far the Academy and the top of Pyrous Mountain were, I was already confident I wouldn't be able to report to Kiki before dusk.

 

***

 

I didn't picture the top of Pyrous Mountain like it actually was. I didn't expect a crater so large (perhaps a hundred meters in diameter) and so flat inside, with a small main vent. I didn't expect the rock and the air to almost feel hot, despite the altitude and the mid-autumn weather, and I could tell, with my eyes closed, just with the difference in temperature, which way the vent was. All in all, it looked more like a fancy Gym arena for low- to mid-intensity battles, rather than the antechamber for one of nature's most powerful forces of change -- of destruction but not only.

 

Someone with short red hair was sitting cross-legged, their back turned to me, at the other end of the crater, on a sports mat. They had a heavy bagpack nearby. I expected them to be this 'Cal', but I couldn't be sure, so I walked towards them, trying not to be too much a disturbance if I was wrong.

 

They didn't move a muscle as I was approaching and I had the feeling they ignored me completely, so much that I felt embarrassed while glancing at them, and trying to figure out if they matched the description. Indeed, it was a young man of around twenty, with red hair, and in such an unlikely place... I briefly shut my eyes and took a deep breath.

 

"Excuse me," I started hesitantly. "Are you Cal?"

 

My words didn't seem to have any effect on him, even though I was facing him. His eyes was closed and his breathing was slow perfectly steady. I felt bad for disturbing so deep a meditation, but I didn't have that much time, and I didn't see any other way. But there had to be one! I protested wordlessly to myself, with deep, desperate persuasion, yet unsupported by any evidence.

 

"Excuse me," I repeated louder at him. "Are you Cal?"

 

This time, the words registered. The young man's red eyes opened, darted around, and then focused on me, and his breathing briefly sped up, before slowing down again.

 

"Yes," he said in a dull voice. "That's me. Why?"

 

"It's..." I hadn't exactly rehearsed my explanation and struggled a bit to find the formulation. "Ki -- the Apophyll Sensei -- sent me here to battle you. As a trial."

 

"That's odd." he frowned, rising up. "Kiki doesn't usually go for that."

 

"I don't know about that." I answered, a bit embarrassed. "But..." I really need the HM, so I don't mind her giving me an unusual test "that's the assignment she gave me."

 

"I haven't had a serious battle since I resigned as a Gym Leader, a few months ago." Cal said after ten seconds of silence, as he pondered my words. "And even then, I was misguided. I had let anger drive and control me."

 

RUXbcf5.png

 

Anger? He didn't look the type. If he had been angry before, then his rage had to have burnt most of him. Everything in Cal's posture, even his voice, felt... weary, dull. Like someone who survived an incomprehensible, all-destructive disaster, with most of his psyche consumed. Or perhaps I, who didn't know anything about that, was just trying to give mindless arbitrary judgements some value by adding a random metaphor with assumed psychological value.

 

"But that's why I came here." he went on, his voice slowly growing more animated. "To learn and let go of the rage I felt towards my brother. Everything I had ever done was just to try and prove myself better than him. Blake..." the voice had a tinge of bitterness. "he always got the attention. He got all the praise for everything, and then anything I ever did was just a sloppy second. I even started training Fire-types only to beat my brother's Ice. "

 

Family issues... again? What kind of demented region was this, where no family could be harmonious, or at least somewhat so? Then again, perhaps I was oblivious to the defects of mine. Perhaps this was how my little brothers felt about me. And perhaps indeed I had been ignoring them too much.

 

What were they doing, now? How were they handling my absence? Did they even know why I had gone? I hoped they weren't going too bad, but I knew in my heart of hearts that the smallest of my brothers wouldn't take it well. Not at all.

 

"Look at me, just rambling on." he sighed. "I think I've been meditating alone for too long. I just hope I won't be disappointing you."

 

I tried to crack a joke, except it wasn't really one.

 

"You know, I wouldn't mind if you did."

 

Thinking back, I should have been more cautious. I should have taken the time to get some information. I would have known what I was getting into.

 

Cal was just too strong. Perhaps, as he looked like, his fire had been extinguished, but even its ashes were absolutely sufficient to slap down too confident Trainers like me.

 

Cal had sent out first a Barbaracle, which looked actually even weirder outside of books. But it looked powerful, too, and, even this early, I wondered if I had made a serious mistake by accepting Kiki's terms for a challenge. But it was too late to have second thoughts, as I had already sent out Tech, in an attempt to strengthen my defenses for the start of the battle.

 

Tech had managed to set up Reflect and Light Screen, and they had been extremely important for the start of the fight, as the Barbaracle had first set up Stealth Rocks -- an early warning that this fight was going to be hard -- and then struck with a powerful Rock Slide.

 

The Pokemon I felt was most suited to the situation was Watt, so I switched Pokemon, and even though her Discharge was even more powerful than I had hoped for, it failed to defeat the faster Barbaracle, who had enough time to finish Watt off with Rock Slides.

 

nsWKMXp.png

 

I had sent out Leaf to defeat this rocky monster. Eager for a fight and for revenge, ignoring the pointy rocks, she had easily dodged the clumsy, rushed sliver of water that had ben thrown at her, and she had given a good kick to her foe, fainting it for good.

 

Cal had then sent out Charizard, which made me wish Watt hadn't fainted, because I hadn't any Pokemon good enough to beat it, but I had sent Hex instead. Hex managed to Yawn the Charizard, before getting badly burned and finally taken out by two frighteningly powerful Fire Blasts.

 

fZH3Z5v.png

 

I had hoped that the respite would let me set Batley up. But Cal figured out what I was going for, and switched to a Pokemon noticeably stronger than the former ones, a Magmortar. Even after two Calm Minds, Batley's Psychic, while powerful enough to give the air a weird refraction, in addition to the heat, wasn't enough to take it down, while said Fire Pokemon's Thunderbolt was more than enough to knock her out.

 

At this point, I had been quite unsure of what to do. If that Magmortar could handle that kind of hits, which one of my Pokemon could claim to be able to deal with it appropriately? I only had had Mouse, Leaf, and Tech left... I had opted to focus on my defenses, sending out Tech to swiftly slap his foe and rebuild the faded Light Screen. But even then, the Magmortar's fire power was fully sufficient to beat him.

 

N1VLc0e.png

 

Once again, Leaf had managed to finish the nonetheless weakened Magmortar, due to a strangely timely distraction of Cal. I had offered him a free move to make matters fair, but he had refused, and then had sent back Charizard, as if he had forgotten that I had sent it to sleep. I had offered him another free switch, but he had again declined, and I had taken advantage of the time to heal Leaf and switch to Mouse.

 

Mouse took in a nasty Fire Blast, but managed, thanks to the Light Screen, to outlast the Charizard. But Cal sent out next a Kommo-o, which effortlessly punched Mouse out, while Leaf wasn't strong enough on her own to break her defense. And so I lost.

 

 

 

It was the first time I had really lost a battle, since... Julia, maybe? And it stung. Even though, thinking back on Cal's team, his power, the field, I was aware there wasn't any realistic way I could have beat him. But the really bad part was that I had to climb down the mountain, walk back for hours, knowing it had all been for nothing, and that Shelly, Heather, Noel, Anna and Charlotte were still Meteor hostages, with no clear way to free them.

 

"It's okay, you know." Cal said, almost apologetically, walking towards me, as I was readying to leave without a word. "You did as well as you could, and I have lost my fire, but... I don't think you could have won. I think that... Kiki assigned you a task too difficult."

 

"What does that change?" I asked him bitterly. "Of course life doesn't assign us fair challenges. But I still need that HM. I hope", I added lower, "that I'll manage to change her mind."

 

"Good luck with that." he waved at me.

 

I started walking towards the exit of the crater. I turned back, struck by a thought.

 

"Cal... Do you have... any ideas how I could improve?"

 

He didn't answer at once.

 

"Know your opponent better." he finally uttered. "Also, the field you're fighting on. Check that your team can handle general situations better. Here, you didn't have a single move effective towards fire."

 

"I'm working on it." I mumbled. Not that I had had too much time.

 

"Don't set up on stronger opponents. They'll be able to see it coming and punish you."

 

"I understand. Anything else?"

 

"Not much. Keep training. Be open to the possibility of changing the Pokemon from your team. And... I suppose..."

 

"Yes?"

 

"Don't specialize for the wrong reasons."

 

 

Er... 

 

***

 

 

Cal may have tried to soften the shock, but he hadn't managed to really sweeten the reality of my situation. I didn't have any reliable way to beat the former Fire Leader in a short enough time frame, let alone get the HM. And, after the long descent, my legs were aching from the long hike, both up and down, so I really didn't want to climb the mountain again.

 

To add insult to injury, the "no late visits" arbitrary rule was still being enforced, so I couldn't inform Kiki unti the next morning of my failure. At least I could go on training Quickbeam, make him evolve and teaching him interesting moves. He'd be quite precious should I come to battle Kiki.

 

The only relief of the day was that, since the long walk down had at least smoothed the rougher, most painful part of my emotions, I could have a peaceful, resting sleep.

 

6TCbs2A.png

 

****

 

 

Of course, I woke up early with sore muscles, at perhaps 6.30 pm, but Victoria had been up even earlier. I hadn't seen her the day before, so she went straight at me when she noticed me.

 

"Good morning, Gabriel." she greeted me. "You're up pretty early."

 

"Yeah," I nodded. "I felt like going to sleep very early."

 

"How was Cal?"

 

"Er..." I didn't know what to answer to that.

 

"I mean," she corrected, slightly embarrassedly, and a bit faster, "how did your battle with him go?"

 

I saw in Victoria's eyes, more than I myself felt, my smile fall off.

 

"I didn't manage to beat him. He's just... much better than me. He's got more experience, more skill, much better Pokemon against whom I don't really have any counter... A very favorable field...  I don't think I could have beaten him. He didn't think so, either. But how about you?" I went on to change the subject, not wanting to hear her comment. "Did you pass?"

 

Victoria's face grew stern.

 

"I thought... Kiki was going to test me. I'm the top student here, Kiki's personal apprentice, I was ready for that. But she..." she glanced both sides and her voice lowered for little reason. "She didn't test me. She showed me how to run the Academy. How it all worked. She gave me a overview on policies..."

 

"That's... strange." I admitted.

 

"In fact..." Victoria toned down her voice to a whisper after nervously eyeing our empty surroundings. I noticed that her eyes seemed to slightly shine, but she didn't exactly look overjoyed. "Kiki is terminally ill. She's been for months but she's tried to hide it. She told me she didn't expect to live another month."

 

"I... I don't... know what to say. I'm so... so sorry."

 

"And I think... she intends for me to take over when..."

 

allpGfe.png

 

I certainly wasn't a sensitive, or perceptive, person, but even I could feel her voice almost breaking. Still, Victoria regained a composure quite fast. "There's... something else I'm worried about." she added. It's been almost two days since Cain left Reborn City to go here, but I didn't see him."

 

"Perhaps he arrived and left even earlier than us?" I suggested, while knowing it was quite unlikely. "But I guess Kiki would have made the connection, or mentioned him to you."

 

"Or he'd have called me. That's why I think," Victoria answered, "that he didn't arrive here. But if so, there's only really one place on the way, and it's Azurine Island. Since you've got a boat... would you mind checking the island out?"

 

"But, as he hasn't called you at all..." I tried to express my mixed feelings. "He's probably fine, unless..."

 

"Unless he's in big trouble." Victoria completed. "Since you told me you had a boat, can you check the island out, see if Cain's there? Meanwhile, I'll see with Kiki if she can give you a more appropriate trial."

 

"Er..." I started. I didn't like too much Victoria negotiating in my stead with Kiki. But I couldn't voice properly my reservations without offending Victoria's obvious respect and affection towards her Sensei. "Please make sure it's one I can manage. We need that HM." I finally said. 

 

Player's note: (re the Cal battle)

Spoiler

I was worried for the Cal battle. As the character points out, I have a single move super-effective against fire (Ampharos's Power Gem) and one resistance to fire (Blaziken). So I tried thinking, ran calcs, and finally I found the obvious way (it's under strong winds, which helped, but it would probably have worked with a bit of healing under other climates too):

 

mXuOyUX.png

 

VnYCuLv.png

 

9LzYEsB.png

 

I switch right away to Tech after Mouse, because Mouse did her Intimidating job. She shouldn't be needed afterwards. 

 

DjSKs9B.png

 

I predicted Scald because Barbaracle is intimidated.

 

BmWge5t.png

 

And Scald it was, now I set the other screen up.

 

I1yXfC5.png

 

Tech took a Rock Slide (was I prescient here?) afterwards, and I immediately switched to Batley. 

 

ng0JQkf.png

 

ZISmC4v.png

 

Stick and stones can break my bones...

 

SjclCXJ.png

 

Except that I'll have the last laugh!

 

AIrwvWb.png

 

Nothing in Cal's team outspeeds or survives +4 TwistedSpoon Psychic

 

MJ1ATeg.png

 

RvOoxZZ.png

 

3UagNfN.png

 

(I think Magmortar could survive the +2 Psychic TwistedSpoon though, especially if it was, unlike the wikia said, EV invested)

 

Kygojx1.png

 

JPklJjK.png

 

Yes, it's completely over.

 

ys0VJsY.png

 

Author's note:

Spoiler

Regarding the pictures of the top of Pyrous. 

I really wanted to adapt them to make a map better suited to what I had in mind (basically, farther from the Academy so you don't see it right underneath, a larger crater, and a much smaller pit of lava. But I didn't manage to create this map, so I'm using the original map. It may not convey too good a representation of what I had in mind, though. 

 

 

Character rates:

Spoiler

Cal: 6/10. He's not bad, and it's not his fault he was the one I had been assigned to (and didn't manage to) defeat. But still, I can't help resent him a little for that.

 

Victoria: 9.5/10: not much change. Same Victoria, isn't she? Nice, caring for everyone, and Apophyll's top student.

 

Kiki: 4.5/10 (-0.5). Minus points for giving me, without negotiation, a challenge she should have known I couldn't win. But I can't lower her score much because of her condition.

 

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Just now, Mindlack said:

Days of madness. How could life have become so complicated so fast?

 

It used to be so simple. Find new class, start learning, get good grades. Find a project, get learning, be as thorough as you could, get a decent grade. What had gone wrong? I scoured my memories, trying to find a recent element, even a tiny one, that could explain how, why, it all started. But it was fruitless. It was as if I had woken up one day and got myself conscripted in a war, a desperate, losing one.

 

I'm also wondering how Gabriel got himself into this mess at first place? He doesn't seem to enjoy his journey... It kinda makes me hate Florinia, the more I think about the martyr🙁

 

Just now, Mindlack said:

Family issues... again? What kind of demented region was this, where no family could be harmonious, or at least somewhat so? Then again, perhaps I was oblivious to the defects of mine. Perhaps this was how my little brothers felt about me. And perhaps indeed I had been ignoring them too much.

 

Well that's Reborn for you, buddy... I even lost count of  the amount of broken families😔💔

 

 

I can feel the drama coming closer and clooseeerr... Vicky....

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6 hours ago, Evi Crystal said:

I'm also wondering how Gabriel got himself into this mess at first place? He doesn't seem to enjoy his journey... It kinda makes me hate Florinia, the more I think about the martyr🙁

Well, why would he enjoy that? Very few real people would, and an even tinier fraction of first-world math students. 

Don't blame Florinia for it, she's not exactly responsible for it, is she? If Gabriel can't just decide to remove himself entirely from this business, it's also his problem... 

(and don't start hating "ally" characters, you won't have enough left for the bad guys 😢)

 

About how he got himself into this mess... Well, there's a bit of a plot point here, that's why it's not explained. I guess it's also related to the fact that no one we've seen so far would be inclined to give even a hint, even for those who may know something. 

 

Also to be honest I haven't managed to figure out the exact details, although I have the main idea.

 

 

6 hours ago, Evi Crystal said:

Well that's Reborn for you, buddy... I even lost count of  the amount of broken families😔💔

It's really sad indeed. And then you wonder why so many of these people are nutcases. A healthy family is important!😢

 

6 hours ago, Evi Crystal said:

I can feel the drama coming closer and clooseeerr... Vicky....

I hope it won't be too predictable... despite this being a fanfiction of Reborn. But yes... winter drama is coming. 

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Wow

Amazing chapter

But something which Gabriel saidadee wonder if he hasn't been dreaming this all along

Having said that, I'm waiting for the next chapter!

(I have to admit this, you're a better writer than me, heh)

 

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11 hours ago, Mindlack said:

Don't blame Florinia for it, she's not exactly responsible for it, is she? If Gabriel can't just decide to remove himself entirely from this business, it's also his problem... 

(and don't start hating "ally" characters, you won't have enough left for the bad guys 😢)

 

I don't hate Rini to be honest (she's one of my favourite Gym Leaders). It just every time something bad happens to us (like Corey's suicide, Kiki's death and the orphan quest), I can't help it, but to resent her sometimes... Just like in my first playthrough back then... Oh how I cursed at her😅

 

Also the story is getting more interesting and more and more personality I'm seeing in Gabriel. Kudos for tou😉🙃💖

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7 hours ago, sayar said:

But something which Gabriel saidadee wonder if he hasn't been dreaming this all along

 

Interesting question. I wonder what gave you this idea? But that's not what I had planned. This is Reborn, not another popular fangame from this forum (which I won't name because sort of spoilers?)

 

7 hours ago, sayar said:

Amazing chapter

Having said that, I'm waiting for the next chapter!

 

Thank you (don't sell yourself short though, we all have huge margins for progress).

 

22 minutes ago, Evi Crystal said:

I don't hate Rini to be honest (she's one of my favourite Gym Leaders). It just every time something bad happens to us (like Corey's suicide, Kiki's death and the orphan quest), I can't help it, but to resent her sometimes... Just like in my first playthrough back then... Oh how I cursed at her😅

 

Plot twist: she's actually the real antagonist this entire time.

Proof: she barely ever does something useful and instead embarks you in this ridiculous utter mess where you somehow narrowly escape death many times! 

 

22 minutes ago, Evi Crystal said:

Also the story is getting more interesting and more and more personality I'm seeing in Gabriel. Kudos for tou😉🙃💖

 

Thank you!

You'll probably see a few personality clashes in the next chapters. Who was it that said it took crisis times to unveil people's personalities? 

 

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