As soon as I land in Anistar City, I receive a call from Professor Sycamore. He wants to meet in Couriway Town, the next settlement on my route, to discuss recent events. Understandable. I’m curious to know his thoughts myself. The road to Couriway Town features a diverse ecosystem of mountain Pokkemon for me to capture, including Torkoal, Graveler, Durant, Heatmor and Lairon, as well as Ariados in the abandoned mine that stretches beneath much of the area. The mine is also inhabited by Noibat, a small, weak, purple bat Pokémon who seems utterly unremarkable aside from the fact that he is apparently a Dragon-type. I’m… you know, I’m honestly not even sure what a dragon is anymore. The mine, which is known as Terminus Cave, has a very deep and complicated structure, not all of which is open to me yet – only a Champion-level trainer can access all the tunnels. I try bringing out Xerneas and telling the story of that one time when I, y’know, saved the Kalos region from the annihilation of all Pokémon and most humans all out of the ‘goodness’ of my ‘heart’, but the guard seems unimpressed, so I give up and return to the surface for now. Goodness only knows what else is down there. Probably awesome treasure. The other notable feature of this part of Kalos is the home of a human Psychic named Inver, who practices a strange form of battle which he has named after himself (or possibly the other way around) – the inverse battle. Thanks to Inver’s vaguely specified mystical powers, resisted moves become super-effective (finally, being a Grass Pokémon specialist pays off!) and super-effective moves are resisted instead. The fact that these relationships can all be uniformly reversed by a single application of psychic power might go some way to suggesting that Pokémon types are meant to be regarded as fundamental forces, rather than just a descriptive framework created by humans (one of the debates I have with myself from time to time), but then again, since the whole thing is clearly just an excuse for a fun new battle format, I’d be cautious about reading too much into it. The real question is… can Inver learn to make his powers apply only to some Pokémon, some of the time, and if so, can I recruit him for my imperial army…?
Dominated by a massive waterfall from which the locals collect and bottle crystal clear water, Couriway Town is a comparatively small settlement with a few houses, a Pokémon Centre, a railway station, and not much else. After spending a little time gazing at the waterfall, I go to find Professor Sycamore, who has some interesting things to say about Lysandre. He seems to think that Lysandre’s actions are at least partially his own fault for not taking action long before now to put his friend back on a somewhat saner path, and reiterates his belief that Lysandre could have been a great leader and done a lot of good for the world. Apparently, by stopping his plans, I “saved” not only Kalos, but Lysandre himself – wait, wait, so he’s alive? Have you actually seen him? Or do you mean “saved” in more of vague, spiritual, “well, at least he died without the deaths of billions on his conscience” kind of sense? Sycamore, to my irritation, declines to comment further. I will have to look into this. For now, though, he wants a battle! Professor Sycamore has been practicing – his Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle have increased dramatically in level since my last battle with him, and have all reached their final evolutions, but he’s still not much of a trainer himself, and is unable to lead them to victory. Ever gracious in defeat, Sycamore claims he left a ‘treasure’ in this town a long time ago, and invites me to search for it. He then leaves to work on a ‘surprise’ for me and my rivals to reward us for our efforts against Team Flare. I sweep the town with my dowsing rods, but the most valuable thing I find is a Prism Scale, and something tells me that isn’t what he’s talking about (I mean, it’s neat, but I already have one, and I feel like I should expect something more unique). He might be talking about a more metaphorical ‘treasure’ – like an old friend, or a place he has fond memories of – but what, I have no clue. Maybe something to come back to. I have more important things to do, like get my last badge so I can conquer Kalos at last.
To get to Snowbelle City, I have to cross a deep valley with a murky swamp at the bottom. I encounter only one Pokémon I haven’t met before here – Gligar – which may well be a first for my travels in Kalos, so I very quickly move on to the rope bridge that spans the chasm, where I am met by Shauna. To my immense surpise, Shauna wants to battle! I haven’t fought her since she started out with her Froakie – hell, I wasn’t even aware she was capable of battling, but she has three Pokémon now, and at a respectable level too. She opens with a Delcatty, who survives Pan’s Seed Bomb and slows his assault with Charm – and then switches out. Shauna sends in a new Pokémon I haven’t seen before: Goodra, apparently the evolved form of Sliggoo, who is at last recognisable through her slimy coating as a true Dragon, if a soft-edged and friendly one in the tradition of Dragonite. Goodra intercepts my next Seed Bomb and absorbs the attack with Sap Sipper. What? Shauna is competent!? What is this sorcery!? I briefly consider summoning Xerneas to blow her dragon away, but feel that wouldn’t be sporting under the circumstances and instead send in Orion… who gets crushed by a Sap Sipper-boosted Earthquake. Okay. Now she’s asking for it. I have Xerneas hit Goodra with a Moonblast, then go to Ilex to finish off her Delcatty. Her final Pokémon is her starter, who was a Froakie when we last met – now a swift, sleek warrior frog called a Greninja (Gren- presumably from the French word for frog, grenouille)… but still a Water-type, and still vulnerable to Petal Dance.
Our battle over, Shauna is keen to reminisce, but we have company – Tierno and Trevor, who are also, it seems, in a fighting mood. Wait, you guys know how to battle too!? Has Serena been giving you lessons in secret? Tierno challenges me first, and I open with Pan – right up against a Talonflame. Clearly this isn’t going to work, so I switch to Odysseus, who suffers some nasty Acrobatics hits before bringing it down. Tierno’s next Pokémon is a Roserade, so I switch in Ilex to soak up the incoming Petal Dance and hit back with Sludge Bomb. That leaves Tierno’s partner, Crawdaunt, who, again, is still a Water-type. Trevor kindly heals my Pokémon before our battle, sabotaging his only real chance at losing with dignity, then opens with his Raichu, who seems to have no better option than Thunderbolt against Pan and doesn’t last long. Then, out comes… wha- where the hell did you get an Aerodactyl!? I know Trevor’s good with obscure stuff, but wow. Kid’s actually made me jealous! I won’t willingly leave Pan in against a Flying-type, so I switch to Odysseus, who takes a Sky Drop relatively unscathed and blasts back with Surf. Finally, Trevor sends out his partner Pokémon, Florges. Odysseus does heavy damage with a well-placed Crabhammer, but can’t handle the Energy Ball that Florges sends back. Florges is now in no shape to defeat Orion, though, and falls to a Shadow Ball. In the aftermath of our battles, my rivals feed me some of the standard lines about how wonderful it is to travel with Pokémon. I can’t help but feel a little swell of pride; they’ve managed to acquire some pretty strong partners (hell, I don’t even have a Goodra yet; I’ve been clued in on Sliggoo’s unorthodox evolution method – rain in the overworld, and at least level 50 – but the moment Pytho hit level 49, Kalos was swept by an annoyingly mysterious drought) and might even make decent lieutenants in my new regime. Tierno and Trevor mention that Serena is in Shalour City training at the Tower of Mastery (perhaps the next time I see her one of her Pokémon will be able to Digivolve… her Absol, maybe?), make their excuses, and leave. Shauna also has a parting gift for me: the Waterfall HM. It’s no good to me until I have the Snowbelle Gym Badge, though, so let’s get on with it!
Ridiculous quote log:
“Do you see that hiker running back and forth across the bridge? He’s been doing that for the last few days. I wonder if he’s okay.”
“Come to think of it, I’ve been standing in the same spot for the last couple of days too!”
The drones are becoming self-aware! Quickly, initiate quarantine protocol six-three-eight-alpha! The contagion must not be allowed to spread!