Hareta was sitting on the bed in his cabin with Empoleon, Minun, Sneasel, and Ninetales. They were watching TV when they heard someone knocking on the door. The boy glanced over at the door before looking back at the TV screen, the outro of the show the five of them were watching displaying four guys and a slimy green ghost dancing through the streets of a city. He called, "Hang on! I'll be right there!" A couple seconds later, the ending was done playing and Hareta slid off the bed and opened the door. He smiled at the girl on the other side, "Good morning, Mitsumi! What's up?"
The green-haired girl replied, "Well, evidently you are." She peeked inside his cabin and noticed the TV, asking, "What were you watching? I thought you'd be down at the breakfast buffet."
Hareta said, "I think it was an old cartoon. I really liked it! And the buffet wasn't open when I went down there earlier, so I was just doing something else to pass the time."
Mitsumi smiled, "Well, that's good to hear. Anyway, it's open now, and we should be arriving at the Seafoam Islands in a while. So make you've got everything together, okay?" After Hareta nodded, she let him be and headed down to the ship's restaurant.
Hareta shut the door and walked back over to the bed, sitting down on the side and sliding his shoes on. Once he was done putting on his jacket, hat, and scarf, he turned to his friends and asked, "Ready to eat, guys?" Both Minun and Sneasel chirped happily while Empoleon and Ninetales nodded with a smile. Hareta smiled back and went to open the door to the cabin, holding it open for them. He then shut it and they all headed down to the restaurant together.
A few hours later, Michael, Kotone, and Hareta were up near the front of the ship, each of them enjoying the warm weather along with their Pokémon. Michael was standing near one of the guardrails, alternating between keeping an eye on his Lapras, who had his Glaceon and Zangoose on its back, and watching his Swellow and Gligar fly around in the sky above him. Hareta and Kotone were together with Ninetales, playing with Kotone's Torchic and Eevee and Hareta's Minun and Sneasel. It was a perfect day, considering where they were headed. If they were lucky, they might get a chance to properly enjoy the weather once they reached the Seafoam Islands.
A voice was suddenly heard over the loudspeakers, "Attention all passengers. We will be arriving at our destination, the Seafoam Islands, shortly. Please make sure you have all of your belongings before you disembark, as there will be no going back to your cabins after you have left the ship."
Hareta stood up and looked towards the front of the ship, finding he was able to see the two islands in the distance. "Wow! We really are almost there!" he exclaimed.
Kotone stood up as well, saying, "We'd better get back to our cabins and grab our things. It wouldn't be good if we ended up being the ones holding up everyone else!"
Suddenly Gold spoke up from behind her, "Actually, it would probably be pretty funny to see how Mitsumi would react to that!" Kotone, Hareta, and their Pokémon turned to look at him, noticing that he'd already grabbed his bag from his cabin.
Kotone smiled at him, "You think so? What do you think she'd do?"
Gold grinned, "Probably get really angry and have something to say about it for ten whole minutes. You'd probably get a kick out of that, Kotone." They both laughed for a minute before Gold said, "Anyway, I guess you both had better run down and get your things. We're gonna have a lot of searching to do if we're gonna find this Blaine!"
Kotone nodded, "You're right." She then turned to Hareta and the Pokémon, saying, "Come on, we'd better get our bags." Hareta nodded and followed her to the nearest door leading inside the ship, all of the Pokémon except Ninetales following them.
Gold turned back to Ninetales and asked, "So what do you think of the weather? Pretty good, huh?"
Ninetales nodded, "Yes, it's wonderful. Very relaxing."
Gold leaned against the wall and said, "You know, I saw you and Sneasel during the ball at Rota. I'm just curious, how did you two do that? Was it some kind of magic?"
Ninetales replied, "No, not quite. It was just a shape shifting technique that takes some practice to perfect. It took me a while to get as good as I am with it, but it did help me learn to control my own magic after I evolved."
Gold nodded, "I see." He then asked, "Do you ever take on that form for fun? You know, just for a change of pace?"
Ninetales answered, "I do sometimes when I'm either alone or I go to visit my clan. Doing it around a place like this would no doubt be a mistake."
Gold turned to look at her as he asked, "You think someone would want to capture you and study you, huh?"
Ninetales looked at him, a slight playfulness hidden in her eyes as she said, "Actually, I'm afraid that I'd capture the attention of every male within about 50 feet, human or Pokémon."
Gold didn't really know what to say to that, which slightly disappointed Ninetales. He eventually managed to say, "I guess I'll take your word for it. Does that mean you've already got someone?"
Ninetales looked towards the water as she smiled, "Not yet, but I do have my eyes on someone. Someone special
Gold raised an eyebrow at that, "Someone special? Who? Is it someone I know?"
Ninetales looked over at him and said, "Oh, you know him. I'm just not going to tell you who it is."
Gold looked at her a moment before saying, "Uh, okay then." He then noticed that Michael was coming over with his Glaceon by his side. The red-haired Trainer always carried his hip bag with him whenever he was on a journey, so that meant he didn't have anything to go back to his cabin for. Gold went over to talk to Michael, leaving Ninetales alone with her thoughts for the moment.
A short while later, the ship reached the port at the Seafoam Islands and all the passengers got off, many of them tourists looking to spend time at the tropical resort town on the two islands. Gold and his friends were probably the only ones on the ship who came with something other than relaxing on their minds. They wandered around the town for a while, but found nothing indicating that there was a Pokémon Gym anywhere. They eventually stopped to rest on a group of benches. As they sat there, Jun sighed, "Nothing. Nobody here knows anything about a Gym being here."
Mitsumi said, "Maybe Blaine got sick of dealing with nothing but tourists and decided to move elsewhere. I don't think there's anything here that Trainers who are serious about competing would want to come out here for anyway."
Suddenly, an old man carrying a brown cane that resembled a question mark came over near the group. He was wearing a white hat, black sunglasses, a red long-sleeve shirt under a white vest, brown pants, and black shoes. He had a white mustache, which seemed to be the only hair he had on his head. He spoke, "Actually, there is something here that's worth any Trainer's time."
Hareta asked, "Yeah? What's that?"
The man replied, "The answer is a riddle. What's a place that everyone thinks is really cold, but a real adventurer thinks is really cool?"
Gold thought hard for a moment before saying, "I have no idea
After a moment, Kotone leaned over to Ninetales and whispered something in her ear. The fox replied with a nod, so Kotone turned to the man and asked, "Is it an ice cave?"
The man held up a finger as he said, "That's right! You see, although the resort town here on the Seafoam Islands is considered to be the main attraction, the real main attraction is the icy caves underneath the islands. It's a real maze down there, but there are lots of Pokémon that are hard to find elsewhere. Some even say that a Legendary Pokémon lives in the deepest depths of the caves. Of course, none of the brochures that are sold ever mention anything about the caves. So there are always going to be a lot of tourists coming here, but is that really a reason for a Gym Leader not to set up a Gym here, even a temporary one?"
Michael asked, "So there is a Gym here? No one here seems to know about it or that it's being run by Blaine, the Gym Leader of Cinnabar Island."
The old man answered, "Oh, Blaine is here, all right. He's not someone who will give up just because a volcano destroyed his Gym. He merely had to relocate it here for the time being."
Gold asked, "Do you know where it is?"
The old man nodded, "Oh yes. You really want to know where it is?" When everyone nodded, he smiled, "Blaine's Gym is in a place that's popular for spelunking."
Mitsumi groaned, "Another riddle?!"
Hareta asked, "What's spelunking? Is that anything like fishing?"
Kotone turned to him and said, "Not quite, Hareta. If you enjoy spelunking, then you enjoy exploring caves." She stopped, realizing what she just said, then turned to the old man and asked, "In a cave?"
The old man replied, "Right again! If you want to challenge Blaine, then you have to go into the ice caves."
Gold groaned, "But you said that they stretch under the Seafoam Islands. That means it could take a long time to find this Blaine guy!"
The man held up a hand as he said, "Relax, my friend. I'll tell you right now that the entrance to Blaine's Gym is very close to one of the cave entrances. In fact, it's not all that far away." He pointed towards the mountainous region behind the resort town and said, "That entrance is on this island. There aren't a lot of entrances, so it should be easy to find so long as you don't get turned around."
Gold said, "Really? Thanks, mister!" He then turned to the rest of the group and said, "Let's head there now, guys! The sooner we find Blaine, the sooner Hareta and I can battle him!"
Everyone seemed to agree with this plan except Mitsumi, who said, "This all seems a little too convenient." She turned to face the old man and asked, "How do you know all this, anyway?" But she received no answer, as the old man had seemingly disappeared during the time that they had their eyes turned away from him
Although they all agreed that there was plenty of reason to be suspicious of the old man's information, everyone decided that, since they had nothing else to go on, they might as well go search the ice caves for Blaine. Making their way out of the resort town, they headed north to the mountainous region, passing through the forest at the foot of the mountains. As they walked amongst the trees, they noticed that temperature was beginning to drop, despite the fact that the sun was still shining brightly. They figured that this had to be because they were walking over the ice caves, so they continued onward. They soon found a slope they could walk up and were partway up when
A loud explosion sounded somewhere far away up on the mountain. Even as far away as it was, it was loud and it made everyone in the group jump. Everyone looked around nervously, Jun asking, "Geez, what was that?!"
As they looked around, Kotone spotted something flying out of a cloud of dust in the distance and pointed towards it, saying, "Look! Over there!"
Everyone looked in the direction she was pointing, seeing a large bird with bright blue wings emerge from the dust. Both Hareta and Gold's eyes widened at this sight, Gold saying, "No way! Is that
?" Unsure, he pulled out his Pokédex and opened it, pointing it in the direction of the bird.
"Articuno, the Freeze Pokémon. This Legendary Pokémon lives deep within mountain ranges and can create blizzards by freezing moisture in the air," the Pokédex's voice said.
Hareta looked back at the bird and wondered, "Could it be the same Articuno we battled in Violet City?" He then noticed something about the bird and asked, "Hey, maybe it's just me, but do you guys think that something
seems a little off about Articuno?"
Michael stepped up beside him, activating his Aura Reader as he said, "Maybe I can get a closer look at it." The eyepiece slid over his left eye and he focused it on Articuno, the Reader attempting to scan it. Because of the long gap between them, it was having trouble getting a good lock on the bird. A scan wasn't necessary, though, as Articuno was soon flying over the beach, where it quickly and suddenly fired an Ice Beam at the sand below!
"Whoa! What's Articuno doing?!" Gold exclaimed.
"There's definitely something wrong with it. Let's get down to that beach immediately; at the very least, we should try to help the people down there!" Everyone nodded and began running back down the slope, following the path they took to get back to the town.
The sight of Articuno attacking had thrown the town into a panic; by the time the group reached the beach, a miniature ice sheet was already beginning to form on the beach from Articuno's attacks. Thankfully, no one had been frozen inside of the ice, but a few unfortunate people either had their arms or legs caught in some of the smaller patches. Seeing this, Mitsumi sent out her Infernape to help them. Hareta, Ninetales, and Kotone joined in as well, with Hareta sending out Typhlosion and Kotone calling on her Cubone.
While they were helping people get free of the ice, a wind suddenly blew past the group and they turned to look. Flapping its wings up a fair distance above them was Articuno. Now that they were closer, they could see that something was indeed wrong with the bird: the scleras of its eyes were a bright red color instead of white. They didn't get much time to look, as the Freeze Pokémon fired an Ice Beam at the group. They all dove out of the way, barely managing to avoid getting frozen.
As he pushed himself off the ground, Hareta said, "I don't get it
What happened to Articuno? Why is it acting like this?"
Mitsumi overheard him and said, "I don't know, but the time for subtlety is past. We're going to have to battle Articuno and stop its rampage." She then turned to him and sternly said, "And THIS time, no suddenly changing sides, got it?"
Although he grinned weakly, Hareta replied, "I didn't change sides, Mitsumi. I just wanted to get to know Giratina better." Their conversation was cut short by Articuno, who fired an Ice Shard at them. Ninetales, Infernape, and Typhlosion immediately went to their side and used Flamethrower together, melting the ball of ice before it could get close to them. After both he and Mitsumi thanked them, Hareta sent out his Regigigas and Alakazam to battle Articuno.
Michael gasped, "Whoa, I didn't know Hareta had a Regigigas on his team!"
Gold grinned, "He sure does! It should be more than a match for Articuno!"
Hareta began by calling for Alakazam to use Skill Swap on Regigigas, thus allowing the Colossal Pokémon to unleash its full power. Now no longer being hindered by its Slow Start ability, Regigigas ran towards Articuno, bringing its arm back once it was in range and swinging it forward in a Mega Punch. But all it hit was thin air; in the state it was in, Articuno was faster and more flexible with its movements. It easily dodged the punch by flying out of the way and then launched an Ice Beam at Regigigas. The Colossal Pokémon managed to shield itself with its left arm, which became covered with a thick layer of ice.
As Regigigas broke the layer of ice off, Kotone gasped, "Oh no! Maybe Regigigas isn't enough to stop Articuno!"
Gold growled, "Then let's help them out!" He then sent out his Pikachu and Pidgeot, Pikachu climbing onto Pidgeot's back as it took to the air. Mitsumi also called out her Dusknoir while Hareta sent out Empoleon and Luxray to help out Regigigas and Alakazam, the Slow Start on Alakazam having worn off.
While Pidgeot flew up to Articuno's height, Dusknoir covered it by using Will-O-Wisp, the yellow markings on its body glowing and two blue fireballs forming in its outstretched hands, which it fired at the Freeze Pokémon. Unfazed, Articuno released a Mist attack from its mouth, the thick white cloud being enough to snuff out the fireballs. As it began to spread, Hareta called for Empoleon to use Defog, the push of air resulting from the sweep of the Emperor Pokémon's wing splitting the cloud in two.
Once Articuno was visible, Alakazam used Miracle Eye to reduce Articuno's evasiveness and followed up with Disable, throwing her spoons up into the air and crossing them. The spoons began to glow red and then launched a red shock at Articuno. The shock surrounded it and, although it was able to flap its wings to stay airborne, was rendered unable to move. Pidgeot took this chance and shot at Articuno in a Quick Attack, hitting it from the side in a streak of white. The attack didn't seem to do much to it and the effects of Alakazam's Disable soon wore off.
Turning around to face the Bird Pokémon, Articuno began flapping its wings, launching a Blizzard attack at Pidgeot and Pikachu. Panicking at the size of the attack, Gold quickly called for a Mirror Move, Pidgeot creating a reflective wave in front of it and Pikachu at the call. The wave sent the Blizzard right back at Articuno, but it easily flew up out of the path of the attack. While Articuno was ascending, Pikachu leapt high up into the air, getting above it, and launching a Thunder attack straight down at it while Luxray did the same from down on the ground. But just like with the Blizzard, it took hardly any effort on Articuno's part to dodge both attacks.
The battle continued like this for a while; although the Pokémon occasionally got a lucky hit in, Articuno continued standing strong. Even the brief addition of Jun's Dragonite didn't do much to turn things around. At this point, Mitsumi growled, "Argh! If only we could get Articuno to stop moving long enough to deliver one big attack, we might be able to stop it!"
Michael spoke up, "Well, I think we can help with that. The kid's gloves are coming off now!"
Jun turned to look at him, confused what he meant by that, but he soon got his answer when he saw what Michael had in his hand. "The Master Ball! Your sixth Pokémon
?" he asked.
Michael nodded, "That's right. Our best chance of getting Articuno to calm down is with the aid of a Pokémon that's as strong as Regigigas, but can stay on Articuno like Pidgeot." He called to everyone, "Have your Pokémon get back! Unless things get bad, we should be able to handle this!" Although they were worried about Michael getting hurt, Hareta, Mitsumi, Jun, Gold, and Kotone nodded, Ninetales and the other Pokémon coming back near them while Michael stepped forward with his Master Ball. Hardening his gaze, he threw the Master Ball, saying, "Let the guardian of the seas take flight!"
The Master Ball opened, a bright light being released upwards that began to get bigger as the Pokémon within materialized. The light soon faded, revealing that the Pokémon was a large pale silver-white bird with a blue underside, a long neck, and a beak-like ridged mouth. Upon seeing it, Kotone gasped, "That's
Mitsumi exclaimed, "The Pokémon sometimes referred to as the beast of the sea?! That's Michael's sixth Pokémon?!"
Hareta said, "So that's the former XD001 he was talking about! The first and only Shadow Pokémon that supposedly couldn't be purified!"
Jun turned to him and asked, "How do you know that?"
Hareta said, "Michael talked about it when we were in Viridian City. You know, when you were with Mitsumi and Gold and Kotone were at the Trainer House." He then turned back to watch, as did the rest of the group.
During all this, Michael and Glaceon climbed onto Lugia's back when it landed, who then took them up with it to Articuno's level. Unfazed, Articuno fired an Ice Beam at Lugia, who retaliated with Extrasensory, unleashing a rainbow-colored beam from its mouth. The Psychic-type attack not only stopped the Ice Beam, but it also broke through and hit Articuno in the chest.
Growling, Articuno turned and flew in the direction of the mountains, Lugia following after it. When it was above the forest, Articuno performed a somersault and, as it came back down, used AncientPower, launching a silver energy ball at Lugia, who fought back with Hydro Pump. The stream of water destroyed the silver ball, but Articuno got out of its path afterwards. It then launched an Ice Shard at Lugia, the Diving Pokémon fighting back with Dragon Rush. A light blue orb with white streaks surrounded its body as it flew forwards, smashing through the Ice Shard and then slamming into Articuno.
More irritated than ever with Michael and Lugia, Articuno pulled back and unleashed a Blizzard attack on them. Michael called for Lugia to use FeatherDance, the large bird spreading its wings at his call. The wings began to glow white and it then fired glowing white feathers into Articuno's Blizzard. The feathers froze when they came into contact with the Blizzard, but they weren't knocked off course. As a result, Articuno was bombarded with a hailstorm of frozen feathers.
Recovering from the attack, Articuno flew back towards the beach with Lugia in hot pursuit. It came to a stop over the shallow waters and once again turned around to face Lugia. It then took a deep breath, sucking in bright energy from all around it, and then fired a powerful beam of energy out of its mouth, a Sheer Cold attack!
Fortunately, Lugia was much more maneuverable than its size might've suggested. While generating a Safeguard, which formed a green barrier around it, it performed a Canopy Roll as it flew forward, just narrowly avoiding the one-hit KO attack. While Articuno recovered, Lugia used Aeroblast, unleashing a concentrated, vortex-like stream from its mouth. Articuno just barely managed to remain airborne after that attack, so Michael called for his Lugia's special move: Psycho Boost! It created a multi-colored ball of energy in its mouth and fired it at Articuno, the ball exploding when it hit the Freeze Pokémon. As the resulting smoke cleared, Articuno was sent flying in the direction of the deeper water. Thankfully, it skipped across the water for a bit, thus reducing the impact with the water's surface. It didn't go too far, as even though it was lying on is side somewhat, it didn't sink beneath the water's surface.
A short while later
Lugia carried Articuno back to shore, where Hareta and the others treated its injuries while it was unconscious. When it woke back up, according to Hareta, it had no memory of going on a rampage or battling the group. It was grateful that they were willing to help it, both for stopping it and healing its injuries. After it said its thanks, it bid them farewell and flew back to its home in the ice caves.
While they were watching it fly away, the old man from before approached them and said, "Now that was some battle. I'm thoroughly impressed." He looked up at Michael's Lugia and said, "I can see that there's a real bond between you and your Lugia, Michael. And the rest of your Pokémon, even though they weren't able to do much against Articuno, were all really strong!"
Mitsumi spoke up, "Now hold on! What do you mean when you say you're impressed? And why'd you just disappear after telling us about Blaine? Did you arrange for all this to happen?!"
The old man looked at her, seemingly startled, then smiled, "Of course not. I've got nothing to gain from enraging Articuno; to do such a thing would be dishonorable. Besides, I've already lost my Gym; I don't want to lose my title as Gym Leader too."
Gold asked, "Lost your Gym
? Wait! Then you're
The old man nodded, "You got it." He took off his hat, revealing his bald head, and said, "I'm the hotheaded quiz master and Gym Leader of Cinnabar Island, Blaine! My Gym may have been burned down, but I refuse to give up! That is the strength of my spirit!"
Jun asked, "Why didn't you just tell us who you were when you met us? Why keep your identity hidden?"
Blaine replied, "You know that moment of dawning comprehension that you experience when you learn something? I love to see that; I really can't explain why, but it gives me a wonderful feeling." Slipping his hat back on, he continued, "I used to have quiz machines set up in my old Gym as an alternative challenge for Trainers. Quizzes and riddles are in my blood; it's just the way I am. That's why only a few people here on the Seafoam Islands know about my temporary Gym. It's meant to be a challenge."
Gold said, "I see
Well, would you mind having a battle with me and Hareta? You're still a Gym Leader, right?"
Blaine nodded, "That I am. But now might not be a good time for battling. Aside from that big battle, there might be some
loose ends to take care of." He looked towards the town as he said, "Some of the stray shots from that battle might've caused some damage. It would be a good idea to take care of that now."
Michael grinned sheepishly as he said, "Oh yeah
Blaine turned back to the group and smiled, "Hey, it's nothing to be concerned with. After all, you did help Articuno. And this is a good place to come for a vacation. Maybe after the repairs, you could give your Pokémon some time to rest. We're not expecting rain in the next few days and I do run an inn on this island. What do you say?"
Kotone said, "That sounds great!"
Hareta nodded, "Yeah! The Pokémon worked really hard to help Articuno!"
Blaine asked, "So are we in agreement?" When everyone nodded, he said, "Then let me show you to my inn. It's not that far from here." He then led the way off the beach, the group, along with Empoleon, Ninetales, Glaceon, and Pikachu, following after him.
Unbeknownst to the group, as they walked followed Blaine down the sidewalk, the figure from last night was watching them from an alley. It had witnessed the entire battle from its hiding place in that alley. Looking at Michael, it murmured, in a deep male voice, "So that's the boy with the so-called XD001
Well, no matter. The test went better than I expected; I think the energy will be quite useful indeed."
Suddenly, a ringing was heard from inside the man's cloak. Reaching inside, the man pulled out a phone and answered it. On the other end, a man spoke, "Where are you? I did not see you in your quarters earlier."
The cloaked man replied, "Forgive me, master. I left the island to perform an experiment. I just got the results back; everything should go according to plan once all the preparations are complete."
The man on the phone said, "Very well, then. But next time you decide to leave, you have to tell somebody before you do! Your work on this project is absolutely essential, Dr. Mephiles; it would be a shame if things were to fall apart now."
The doctor replied, "Yes, my liege. I will return to the island immediately." After hanging up the phone and putting it away, Dr. M. glanced down at his right arm and rolled up the blue sleeve. The skin underneath the sleeve was very badly burned, the kind of burn that was definitely life-threatening. With his free hand, the doctor pushed against the skin for several moments before grinning wickedly, "Ah
Now that is a severe burn. It's a shame you were already dead when this happened. I would've loved to see how you would react to being burnt to death
" With that, the doctor fixed his sleeves and walked down the alley, disappearing with the aid of the late afternoon shadows