Reconciliation

Professor Sycamore has organised a parade.

I learn this from Diantha as she enters me and my Pokémon in the Hall of Fame.  This must be the ‘surprise’ he mentioned preparing when we last met in Couriway Town.  Well, what better way to announce my newfound supremacy to the peasants of Kalos?  When we arrive in Lumiose City, vast crowds are lining the main boulevards, cheering for the ‘defenders of Kalos.’  A red carpet has been laid out for me and my rivals, leading to a shining white stage where Professor Sycamore is waiting.  He delivers some saccharine bit of oratory about the wonder of our achievements in defeating Team Flare, for which the crowd goes wild, of course, and presents me (and only me, I note with approval) with a red, white and blue medal: the Honour of Kalos.  Sycamore’s influence never ceases to amaze.  As far as I can tell, he has closed down several major Lumiose City streets, convinced several thousand people to show up for the parade, and arranged for me to be awarded a prestigious national honour, pretty much on a whim.  I remember why I’m here, and prepare to launch into a speech of my own, but the words freeze in my throat.  There is someone else on the red carpet.  AZ.  “Battle me,” he requests.  “I want to know what a ‘trainer’ is.”  I respectfully submit to him that it’s really not that difficult a concept, but agree anyway.  What’s the harm?  I wasn’t aware AZ even had any Pokémon, having lost his partner so long ago, but apparently he’s actually quite powerful, with a high-level Torkoal, Golurk and Sigilyph (sensible choices, in his position – Torkoal are very long-lived, while Golurk and Sigilyph, I suspect, are biologically immortal).  Of course, I just defeated the Champion, and although AZ has millennia of experience, he’s a little worse for wear.  My Pokémon overcome his with little difficulty.  He seems satisfied though, and smiles for the first time since I met him, saying that the delight of our battle has finally allowed him to overcome the sorrow of his terrible crimes.  Well, fair enough.  Three thousand years is an awfully long time to regret something.  There is sudden a flash of light in the sky, above AZ’s head, and something floats down towards him.  I squint against the sunlight, and the vague shape slowly resolves into a diminutive humanoid, holding an elaborate staff, or… a flower.  AZ’s eyes widen as he recognises his Floette descending on the wind.  She comes to rest in his outstretched hands and smiles at him, and before the eyes of the whole city, the ancient king begins to weep with joy.  Professor Sycamore waxes lyrical about how returning AZ to his old self made his partner come back to him, and the crowd cheers.  Well.  So much for my parade.  Upstaged by a hobo and a halfway-evolved Fairy Pokémon… sometimes I wonder whether this region deserves the glory of my conquest…

As the parade disperses, I wander around Lumiose City for a while.  I am kicked out of a sushi restaurant for being a ‘greenhorn’ and told to come back when I’m a ‘high roller.’  I vow to destroy them and ban sushi in my empire.  I instead exploit my newfound Champion status to have dinner at the acclaimed and highly exclusive Restaurant Le Wow, which reminds me why I have always found Kalosian cuisine utterly terrifying, even if it is considered a national treasure.  I run into Professor Sycamore, who gives me a pass for the train to sunny Kiloude City, which is Lyon.  Lyon houses the regional elite battle facility, the Battle Maison, which is run by four sisters known as the Battle Chateleines, responsible for single, double, triple and rotation battles, respectively.  It works much like the Battle Tower or Subway, but streamlined – you earn battle points after every battle (thank the gods – earning enough points in the Battle Subway to do almost anything worthwhile had come to be such a chore), and can take a break at any time, rather than having to complete a series of seven matches.  I note these little courtesies with approval, and spend an afternoon there, earning the notice of the youngest Chateleine, Nita, and defeating her in an introductory battle.  The city is also home to a curious little area called the Friend Safari – given how late I am to the party, my readers are doubtless all familiar with the wonders of this attraction already, but an explanation cannot hurt.  The Friend Safari is a checkerboard of paddocks where wild Pokémon can be battled and captured – one area for every friend you have registered, each with two or three different species of wild Pokémon, some of whom (if the locals are to be believed) may have their Dream World abilities.  If you’ve bothered to read this much of my inane prattle, then you are surely a loyal minion, and worthy of my ‘friendship,’ if so it can be called, and so my code is as follows: 2036-6563-2537 (I have no idea what my Friend Safari area contains, but doubtless someone will tell us all in the comments).

Serena challenges me to a battle once again, promising me I’m in for a surprise – and I am!  Not only does she now have six Pokémon, she’s been working hard, and their levels are even higher than mine!  I have Orion use Calm Mind to boost up against her Meowstic and knock it out with a Shadow Ball, before coming face to face with a Clefable.  Fighting back my instinct to whack it with an Aura Sphere, I use Shadow Ball again, but its almighty fatness is too much; it survives with more than half of its health remaining (albeit with a special defence penalty) and finishes Orion with Focus Blast.  I have Xerneas wrap things up with a Moonblast, and then decide to go for a Geomancy against Serena’s Jolteon.  Her second Thunder attack misses, and I find myself in a very happy position indeed.  Even Serena’s mighty Delphox, with its resistance to most of Xerneas’ attacks, cannot stop his Moonblasts, and Altaria finds itself similarly imperilled.  Finally, out comes Absol, and- what’s this?  Serena has a Digivice!  Her Absol explodes with light and sprouts angelic wings – before being blown away rather anticlimactically by another Moonblast.  Evidently Mega Absol doesn’t gain anything that confers resistance to Fairy attacks.  I sigh.   It’s been a long time since I’ve seriously used a legendary Pokémon – I’d forgotten how dramatically they tip the balance of battles.  For the first time, I feel a little bit unsporting about crushing Serena with every ounce of my power; she has clearly been training a great deal.  She doesn’t let this get her down, though; in fact, she even hands over a spare Absolite she found.  “Maybe it will help show Lysandre there’s something to be hopeful for.”  Okay, so we’re definitely saying he’s alive, then?  That’s definitely what’s going on here?  She declines to expand on her statement, simply informing me that Professor Sycamore is in Anistar City and wants to talk to me about my Digivice.  Well, much as Anistar City unsettles me, with its illusionary Gym and impossible sea, this is probably important… I stop by the Kiloude Pokémon Centre, retrieve Tereus, and fly there at once.

I find Sycamore waiting for me in front of the Anistar Sundial.  He has some exposition for me: after further study, he has come to believe that the Mega Stones were created by the light of the Ultimate Weapon when it was first used, three thousand years ago, and may have been evolutionary stones originally, that have taken on their new powers by being irradiated with Xerneas’ energy.  The mysterious sundial crystal has some relationship to the stones as well, but he doesn’t quite understand what yet.  Due to my experiences in Geosenge Town and subsequent attunement to Xerneas, I should possess some of the same energy – which will do something interesting if I touch the sundial.  Without hesitation, I reach out with the arm I wear my Digivice on.  There is a flash of brilliant light, and Sycamore gives a satisfied smile.  My Digivice has been upgraded, he tells me, and can now sense buried Mega Stones – but only for an hour each day, while the sundial is glowing with the light of the setting sun.  I shrug.  I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth – power is power, restricted or no.  Professor Sycamore leaves me to my thoughts.  A bit listless now, I fly back to Lumiose City for another look around… and immediately get a call on my holo-caster.  Someone wants to meet me.

Ridiculous quote log:

“Meow, meow, I can haz battle, meow? (Ugh, I really sound like a fool, don’t I?)”
…are we really going there?  Really? (And yes, yes you do.)

“We begin with a vintage 3000-year-old Rare Bone, boiled for 100 days in pristine snow melted from Kalos’s fine Frost Cavern.”
…uh… look, not to sound ungrateful, but I really don’t want to eat that… and… hey, where the hell did you even get a 3000-year-old Rare Bone?  There is no way this is legal.

“…a pristinely prepared item in a light velouté sauce harvested from-”
Look, sorry, I’m going to cut you off right there – item?  I am not taking one bite of this until you tell me what the hell you just served me!

Reunion

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!

Cold Darkness of the Cosmos

Before entering Dendemille Town, I turn south for a look at the route leading back towards Lumiose City.  This whole north-eastern area seems to be in a state of perpetual autumn, in contrast to the permanent summer of the rest of Kalos, and has inhabitants to match; in addition to several of the same Pokémon as I found on the last route, I find Foonguss and two new Ghost/Grass Pokémon: Phantump, a dark wisp inhabiting a tree stump, and Pumpkaboo, the floating pumpkin I encountered in Lumiose City.  Seeing two new Pokémon with the same previously unseen type combination in the same area initially makes me think that they probably influence each other’s evolution in some way, like Shelmet and Accelgor, but I am informed that this is not the case – they just evolve when traded.  Doing so results in Trevenant, an utterly terrifying undead tree with a single glowing red eye and six splayed insect-like legs, and Gourgeist, a jack-o’-lantern with some kind of vaguely-feminine looking eel-like head and a pair of pink things that could easily be hair, arms, tentacles, or all three.  This adorably creepy little specimen “enwraps its prey in its hairlike arms [and] sings joyfully as it observes the suffering of its prey.”  So… that’s fun.  The route’s only other notable feature is a network of jetties built out over a lake to maximise the area available for fishing; here I am given a Super Rod, but come across nothing of particular interest in testing it out.  Satisfied that this route has nothing more for me at the moment, I return north.

If Dendemille Town’s surroundings are trapped in autumn, the town itself is locked in an eternal winter.  Snow falls on hardy evergreens as stubborn farmers try to coax life from frozen soil.  The town’s most prominent feature is a huge windmill surrounded by some kind of massive fortification wall, so presumably they do manage to produce something here (not much point in a windmill without grain).  Shortly after entering the town, I am met by Professor Sycamore, with Right in tow (Left, presumably, is off fighting crime).  Sycamore rambles incoherently about journeys and cafés for a while, before slipping into a brief eulogy of Kalos’ amazing legendary Pokémon, Xerneas, who “resembles the letter X.”  No-one knows anything concrete about Xerneas, but Right promises to do some research.  They both leave, giving me the chance to check out more of Dendemille Town and find what is perhaps its most important feature from my perspective: the home of the move deleter and move relearner.  At last, I can experience the true glory of Clawitzer’s movepool – Mega Launcher-boosted Dark Pulse, Dragon Pulse and Aura Sphere.  I only have three Heart Scales and I want to teach Dragon Pulse to my Lucario as well, so I greedily snatch up Dark Pulse and Aura Sphere and move on.  Dendemille Town doesn’t appear to have a Pokémon Gym, but the next route is impassable: nothing but huge drifts of snow all around.  The inhabitants inform me that there is normally a Mamoswine who carries travellers through the snow, but this Mamoswine is currently “distracted by something” in the Frost Cavern north of Dendemille Town, so I suppose there’s nothing for it but to go and find the damn thing myself… and maybe pick up some nifty new Ice Pokémon in the process.

It doesn’t take long for me to find Mamoswine, in the company of a boy whom I assume is its trainer, in the stark snowbound mountains north of town.  Apparently Mamoswine is worried about something going on in the cavern, but either can’t or won’t do anything about it.  Trevor, who wants to investigate species distribution in the Frost Cavern, volunteers to look into it, but my confidence in Trevor’s abilities has never been high, so I head into the cave along with him to find out what’s wrong.  The Frost Cavern is giving me flashbacks to the Ice Path of Gold and Silver, with all its ‘icy floor’ puzzles and, of course, its Ice-type fauna – Beartic, Cryogonal, Piloswine, Jynx, and a weird little pyramid-shaped Ice Pokémon called a Bergmite, a sort of physical tank whose main strength appears to be “being a block of ice.”  The fact that X and Y allow diagonal movement becomes quite important here, because it means you can slide diagonally across the ice floors – I think there’s only one part of the area that actually requires this, but I must have stared at the screen for about ten minutes before I thought of trying it (so much for my vaunted lateral thinking skills…).  In the depths of the cave, I locate the problem: surprise, surprise; it’s Team Flare.  A pair of grunts and a blue-haired woman wearing a visor, presumably another scientist, are tormenting a huge Abomasnow, apparently to test the limits of its power before they capture it.  Trevor arrives and orders them to stop, which they predictably ignore.  The scientist, Mable, explains that they’re collecting Pokémon and energy for their dastardly plans, which apparently involve destroying everyone who isn’t part of their group.  She has only one Pokémon, a powerful Houndoom, which I dispatch with my Clawitzer.  Defeated, she and her grunts flee.  Trevor departs in relief, and I turn to go as well – but feel a tap on my shoulder.  Well, I say a ‘tap,’ it’s more of a heavy, blunt ‘thunk,’ but a tap seems to have been the intention.  It’s Abomasnow, who wants to thank me with a gift: a green-and-white Abomasite orb.  Mega Abomasnow, huh?  Could this be what uplifts Hail to equal status with the other major weather effects?  Eh, probably not, but we’ll see.

Mamoswine is now back on duty.  According to his trainer, Mamoswine first came to Dendemille town when he was gravely injured and rescued by an Abomasnow.  It was probably the same one, and Mamoswine was likely refusing to work because he was worried about his friend.  D’aww… you know, there is something incredibly endearing about inter-species friendships.  Anyway, with Mamoswine back, I have my ride through the snow to Anistar City.  Mamoswine is capable of ploughing through drifts of snow that cover him almost completely, and even smashing submerged boulders.  I feel a sudden pang of regret for never having trained one of these things.  A few more Ice Pokémon – Delibird, Sneasel, and Snover (better evolve him later to check out Abomasnow’s mega form…) appear on the way, but I reach Anistar City without much more excitement, and receive a call from Serena challenging me to a battle by the Pokémon Gym.  The bitter cold softens a little as I reach Anistar City and look around.  Left shows up to inform me that Right has learned of a person in this city who is an expert in the lore of Kalos’ legendary Pokémon, and that it would be a good idea for me to find him.  Of course, cities in the Pokémon world being what they are, this doesn’t take long.  I learn that Xerneas appeared in Kalos 800 years ago, bringing energy and vitality to the entire region.  Supposedly, it lives for a thousand years and releases all of its remaining power at the end of its life to enrich everything around it.  Another story relates that 3000 years ago, another Pokémon which might have been Xerneas saved many people and Pokémon from a terrible war, before turning into a dried-up tree, which is still hidden somewhere in Kalos.  Hmm.  I’ve heard about this war; I think this is the same terrible war Lysandre’s ancestor was supposedly involved with – the one that still scars the history of Kalos even today…

Anistar City has one major attraction: the Anistar Sundial.  Not really a ‘sundial’ at all in the traditional sense of the word, this is a massive and exquisitely cut translucent pink crystal which (I think) tells the time by refracting sunlight onto a series of concentric golden rings.  According to the locals, no-one is sure how the thing was made, since it’s thousands of years old and even modern technology couldn’t cut such an enormous crystal so perfectly.  The whole set-up is on a platform which juts out over… the… sea…

…wait…

I pull out my town map.  Anistar City, which is surrounded on three sides by water, is nowhere near the ocean.

There’s something very strange about this city, and it makes me uneasy.  I’m heading for the Gym.  I deal quickly with Serena, who has added a Jolteon to her team and become much more powerful since our last fight, but is still lagging behind (and seems to be developing self-esteem issues), and enter the building.  It’s… empty.  It’s just a perfectly normal room, with a couple of sidetables, a fireplace, and two windows with long purple curtains.  In the centre is a large rug with a design of stars and circles.  No trainers.  No Gym Leader.  I slowly walk forward, looking around, and step onto the circular pattern on the rug… and the world explodes.  I give a started yelp as the room around me dissolves into nothing, and I find myself in space.  Walkways of light criss-cross in a three-layered sphere, with stars and comets flying past in the background.  One of the Psychic Pokémon trainers here tells me “don’t be distracted by your surroundings.”  “EASY FOR YOU TO SAY,” I screech back.  Not a moment too soon, I come to the centre of the sphere, where the Gym Leader, Olympia, is waiting.  Olympia is a strange, distant woman who wears a white cloak with a night sky pattern in its lining (or… it could be lined with the actual night sky, for all I know…), who speaks as though her mind is in a dream… but is perfectly wakeful while battling.  Her Sigilyph, protecting itself with Reflect and scoring a few opportune flinches with Air Slash, deals pretty heavy damage to my Malamar, Photia, before going down, leaving Olympia’s second Pokémon, a powerful Slowking, to finish her off.  I send in Orion the Lucario to start blasting away with Dragon Pulse, but Slowking boosts up with Calm Mind and blows away Orion’s mind with Psychic.  Finally, I bring out the big guns: Odysseus the Clawitzer.  Dark Pulse breaks through even Slowking’s boosted special defence.  Olympia’s final Pokemon, disappointingly, is a Meowstic; a high-level one, to be sure, but not nearly as powerful as a Sigilyph or a Slowking, and Odysseus makes short work of it.  Olympia rewards me with a Calm Mind TM, a golden badge in the shape of a curling wisp of smoke rising from a violet pearl (the Psychic Badge – awesome name there; really inventive, Olympia), and a prophecy: “Power that grants life awakens – voices of woe.  That is your future."  She then waves her hand and teleports me back to the entrance of the Gym.  I find myself back in the plain room.  I’m honestly not sure the Anistar Gym, its trainers, or Olympia even exist at all; my Pokémon and I may have hallucinated the entire experience… but the Psychic Badge is still in my hand, and that’s all I need.

Ridiculous quote log:

“Windmills rotate just like the wheels of destiny!  So Rotation Battles are like windmills!  Ah… I mean destiny!
You know what else rotates like the wheels of destiny?  You, strapped to a windmill.

“I hope I still have Pokémon when I grow up.  ‘Cause when I have kids, I want to trade Pokémon with them.”
That is some nice marketing there, Nintendo.  Real subtle.  There are now, of course, people who picked up Pokémon as children or teenagers and are now having kids of their own…

Getting Bogged Down

Not without a little trepidation, I promptly answer Professor Sycamore’s summons and enter Lysandre’s lurid crimson café.  As far as I can tell, Sycamore just happened to be having lunch with Lysandre there and wanted to get me in on the conversation, mostly to give Lysandre an opportunity to congratulate me in person on becoming a Digidestined, something he has always wanted to do.  I also get a more explicit introduction to Lysandre’s philosophy.  According to Professor Sycamore, Lysandre is exceptionally high-born, descended from Kalosian royalty – although Lysandre himself downplays this, since he wants to leave a different legacy.  Lysandre believes that there are two kinds of people in the world – those who give, and those who take, like the legendary Pokémon of Kalos, who gave life and took it (this refers, I presume, to Xerneas and Yveltal – so they represent life and death?).  He regards the second group as scum, and notes that “there will be no foolish actions if the number of people and Pokémon doesn’t increase,” which is… an odd, faintly Malthusian and very worrying sentiment.  Apparently, the old king of Kalos only took from the world, but Lysandre wants to give back, both through his inventions and by funding Pokémon research.  The king did achieve one good thing, though – he created some kind of “ultimate weapon” and used it to “wash the era clean of its filth.”  I stare at Lysandre, trying to keep my expression neutral, nibbling anxiously at a croissant, and occasionally shooting worried looks at Professor Sycamore, who gives no indication of any concern whatsoever.  Finally, lunch is over and I am freed of this troubling man’s presence.  Lysandre wants to create a world where everything can stay young and beautiful forever… and where all population growth halts completely… and there are legendary Pokémon in this region with power over life and death.  I have a terrible feeling I can see where this is going.  More importantly, if he tries to replicate this ‘ultimate weapon,’ he’ll scour the age of all its filth – and that probably includes me!  He must be stopped at all costs!

Another call on my Holo-Caster informs me that my erstwhile rivals are meeting on the northern outskirts of Lumiose City to catch up.  Why not?  I think they’re the only people in this country who give me any respect; I might as well keep the silly little people happy.  Trevor and Serena are already waiting outside the city gates when I arrive.  Trevor, as he usually does, challenges me to what he calls “his own kind of Pokémon battle” – seeing who has the more complete Pokédex.  He’s never beaten me on that score, and doesn’t start now.  Nor does Serena overcome my Pokémon in a more conventional battle, even though her Braixen has now evolved into a mystical Delphox (I love this name, by the way; obviously it’s fox + Delphi, so connotations of mysticism, magic and secret knowledge, but I’m also reminded of phlox, one of the Greek words for fire – not sure whether that’s intentional).  Maybe they should branch out into things that I’m less good at.  That works for Tierno and Shauna; I’m sure Tierno and his Pokémon would curb-stomp me in a break-dancing competition, and Shauna by now is probably really good at… whatever the hell it is that she claims to be doing on this journey.  Something that involves spending lots of money and whistling all the time.  And, speak of the devil, Tierno and Shauna turn up as Serena and I wrap up our battle.  Now that everyone’s together, Shauna wants to check out a rumoured haunted house further up the road.  Serena, buzzkill that she is, thinks it’s a frivolous waste of time and heads straight for the next town, Laverre City, to train her Pokémon, but I consider that a haunted house may provide an opportunity to meet new Ghost Pokémon and cautiously follow.  The road we’re on is euphemistically known as the ‘Laverre Nature Trail,’ which appears to be Kalos-speak for ‘depressing fetid swamp of death.’  Everything is waterlogged and half-dead and covered in gravestones, and even the grass looks like it’s about to give up, turn black, and start preying on small animals and less agile children.  Someday I will put a penal colony here.  There are some neat Pokémon here, though: Weepinbell, Stunfisk, Shelmet, Karrablast, Haunter and Carnivine, all of which I capture… and then I meet Goomy.  Goomy is a little pink blobby polyp-like creature who blasts me with a Dragonbreath attack.  Once caught and questioned, Goomy continues to insist on being a Dragon Pokémon, albeit the weakest one of all.  Okay, Goomy, far be it from me to call such a cute little Pokémon a liar, but are you sure you’re a Dragon-type and not, say, a Poison-type with delusions of grandeur and trouble dealing with the cold?  Look, fine then; stick to whatever story you like, but you’re coming with me, because if there’s one thing I know about weak Dragon-types it’s that they repay your investments.  I was getting bored of Tereus anyway.

The haunted house, when we reach it, turns out to be a spectacular bust.  It’s a perfectly ordinary house, somewhat poorly lit, with a man inside who tells moderately disturbing stories about people with no faces and then demands a tip.  The rivals disperse, disappointed, and I decide to take some time to train up my new Goomy, whom I have named Pytho (after the dragon slain at Delphi by the god Apollo, whose name is etymologically linked with the ancient Greek word for rot), along with some of my other Pokémon who have been languishing in the PC box for a while.  Here, I learn many new things.  At level 35, Honedge becomes Doublade, splitting into two swords and gaining greater physical power.  There’s one more empty slot in the Pokédex after Doublade, which seems to indicate either that Doublade will evolve again or that Honedge has a branched evolution I’ve missed – I’m kind of thinking the latter is more likely, because where can you go after evolving from one sword to two?  Three swords?  Litleo, also at level 35, becomes Pyroar – I’m still betting this thing has major gender differences, so maybe I’ll train a male later, or just look up what they look like on the internet.  Trial and error reveals that a Sun Stone and Shiny Stone will evolve, respectively, Helioptile and Floette into Heliolisk (who is still a frilled lizard and flares his neck frill while channelling electrical power – something Clemont’s Heliolisk never got a chance to demonstrate) and the somewhat overstated and elaborate Florges, still a pure Fairy-type, but one who draws energy from flowers and claims gardens as her territory.  Amaura gets all the way to 39 and becomes a majestic Aurorus, a huge crystal-studded sauropod with long, glowing crests along the back of its neck (I want to say I’ve seen sauropods reconstructed with crests like that before, but names escape me).  Binacle, at level 39, undergoes a… surprising… transformation into a seven-headed barnacle-golem called Barbaracle (yes, seven, because his four arms and his feet are also heads), a great bulky physical tank-type thing.  I just want to draw attention, for a moment, to Barbaracle’s Pokédex entry: “When they evolve, two Binacle multiply into seven.  They fight with the power of seven Binacle.”  Really?  I would have thought that a group of seven Binacle would have fought with the power of maybe four and a half, on a good day; a pair of them can barely manage to fight with the power of one, after all, lazy little $#!ts that they are.  Finally, getting Pytho up to 40, bringing her in line with the rest of my active party, causes her to evolve into a Sligoo – a large, blind purple snail.  This… is the weirdest Dragon-type I’ve ever seen.  There’s another empty space in my Pokédex between Sliggoo and Karrablast; presumably I can expect another evolution at some godawful level around 60 or so, so I slap an Eviolite on her and hope for the best.  My Skrelp, meanwhile, still hasn’t evolved; since Clauncher had a plain old levelling evolution I’m pretty sure Skrelp will too, but I kind of expected they would evolve at the same time… either I’m missing something here, or Skrelp is going undergo a pretty dramatic transformation. From what I’ve been told, there aren’t all that many new Pokémon in Kalos compared to previous regions – I think by now I must have seen more than half of the damn things.  I wonder what’s left?

I also evolve my Flaaffy into an Ampharos, which means I get to test out another of these Mega Stones.  When Ampharos digivolves, she gains a luxurious mane of silky white hair, studded with red orbs like the one on her tail, along with tremendous offensive and defensive power, Mold Breaker (take that, Lanturn!), and… a secondary Dragon type?  That- hmm.  Does… does Ampharos actually learn any Dragon attacks?  Maybe she gets Dragon Pulse or something now, or maybe having a Dragon-type mega form would make her eligible to learn Draco Meteor?  Might be something to experiment on later; tempting as it is, I don’t particularly want Ampharos in my party (after all, I used one on my recent White 2 playthrough and I do like to mix things up a bit).  I guess I can add Mega Ampharos to Altaria (and, for that matter, Goomy and Sliggoo) under the heading of ‘non-draconic Dragon Pokémon.’  Being a ‘Dragon,’ it seems, is really no longer about being a majestic and imposing magical reptile – you can also be a… giant sheep, or giraffe, or whatever Ampharos is supposed to be.  Personally I tend to think that the uniting idea of the Dragon-types is their mystical quality and connection with life-force anyway, but it’s neat to watch the design process.  Also, it’s interesting that they chose Ampharos in particular to digivolve; to judge from the Pokémon that are receiving this honour so far, it seems like it’s at least partly a matter of popularity – and Ampharos has definitely been a fan favourite since her release Gold and Silver, in spite of her long decline on the competitive scene.  And here I was, convinced they never listened to us!

Ridiculous quote log:

Nothing for today, but rest assured, this is not because the people of Kalos have suffered a sudden outbreak of sanity, but rather because after my prolonged exposure to the light and chaos of Lumiose City I felt an inexplicable compulsion to go out into the wilderness and stick my head into soft peat for six hours.

Grassroots Movements

Now that all this Mega Evolution business is firmly out of the way for now, I think it’s time for another round of training.  I head down to the eastern gates of Shalour City with a bunch of my Kalosian Pokémon for some levelling, and run into Serena on the way.  Serena has a gift for me: the HM that teaches Surf.  Surprisingly early, but I’m not going to complain.  “It’s kind of amazing how a person like you came to Kalos and ended up travelling with me,” Serena says.  “It’s like destiny in a way.”  Okay, I admit I’m not always totally sure what this girl is getting at, but that one was definitely a come on.  She doesn’t seem inclined to pursue the conversation any further, though, so I continue on my way. 

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La Ville Lumière

My path is clear: travel to nearby Camphrier Town to learn more about this Mega Evolution whatever stuff.  As I go to leave Professor Sycamore’s building, however, I meet someone new.  He is well-dressed, in an immaculate black suit with red piping, and has ridiculous hair, bright vermillion, sweeping back from his head in a sort of V-shape, so he will surely be important to the story. 

Definitely an important character.

This man is apparently interested in meeting Professor Sycamore’s recruits, and introduces himself as Lysandre – a French derivative of the ancient Greek name Lysander, which means something like “liberator of men;” the most famous historical figure by this name was a Spartan general at the end of the 5th century BC responsible for creating the great Spartan fleet that broke the naval supremacy of Athens and ended the thirty-year Peloponnesian War (I’m a classicist; so sue me).  He doesn’t really say why he wants to meet us, but does explain that he’s working to create “a more beautiful world,” and seems to think we could somehow be part of that.  He leaves fairly promptly, allowing Serena to monopolise my time instead.  Apparently she wants to talk to me about something but wants to do it somewhere more private, so she asks me to join her at the nearby Café Soleil.  Um.  Did I just get asked out on a date?  Sorry, Serena, but I think I’m already in a committed relationship with the Lumiose Transport Authority guy who randomly fell in love with me earlier this afternoon.  Still, I suppose it’s polite to go and let her down in person…

Continue reading “La Ville Lumière”