Joy to the World!
"Are you just going to continue riding on it?" came the concerned, and somewhat perplexed voice of Nathan, looking up at Silus.
He was of course referring to Silus' recently acquired mode of transportation. Since leaving Route 9, Abomasnow had been carrying Silus on its shoulder, refusing to enter its Pokéball.
"Well, I don't see why not." Silus was replying, gently patting Abomasnow's head. "It wants to carry me, and its a relief on my feet! Besides, Abomasnow here doesn't like her Pokéball. Right, girl?"
"Abomasnow!" the Pokémon nodded in agreement.
"Cut it out, you two." Clair snapped. "Look there, we're here."
The three reached the apex of the hill they had been ascending, which provided an excellent view of the valley below. A sprawling metropolitan area was spread out below them; skyscrapers that towered high into the sky, cars whizzing by in the streets below them, and people and Pokémon as far as the eye could see. For Silus, who grew up in the small village of Eden Town, and who had only been to small towns and cities since, it was truly an amazing and wondrous site. Abomasnow also seemed bewildered by the sight spread out before them. Even Nathan seemed excited. Clair smiled at their youthful enthusiasm.
"So this is Silicon Valley!" Silus exclaimed enthusiastically. "I can't wait to get started at the Battle Subway!"
"Then we'd better get down there!" Clair exclaimed. "Our adventure awaits."
A Familiar Face
About half an hour later, the three and Abomasnow found themselves inside a very large Pokémon Center, where they prepared themselves for the Battle Subway. However, Silus soon became distracted as a familiar face walked directly passed him.
"Mom? he said, almost positive that he'd seen her.
The Nurse Joy in question turned, clearly revealing herself to be the nurse of Eden Town, and Silus' mother, "Silus, dear! I didn't expect to see you here!" she exclaimed.
Silus rushed to embrace his mother, "I didn't expect to see you here either! What are you doing here?" he asked, happy to see her.
"Well, I'm here on official business for the PIA." Joy explained, returning her son's embrace.
"PIA?" Silus asked, confused.
"You're her son and you don't know what the PIA is?" Clair interjected, walking up behind him. "It stands for Pokemon Inspection Agency. It is run by a few of the Nurse Joy from each region and inspects Pokémon Gyms for the Pokémon League."
"Oh Mom, I should introduce you." Silus said, changing the subject. "These are my friends, Clair and Nathan. And that is Abomasnow, one of my Pokémon!"
"Its nice to meet you all!" Joy replied, smiling in the nurse's trademark fashion.
"But, if you inspect Pokémon Gyms," Nathan began, changing the subject again. "Why are you here?"
"Because the Pokémon Inspection Agency has recently changed its targets." Joy explained. "We now investigate all Pokémon battling facilities. I'm here to conduct an investigation on the Battle Subway."
"We were just about to head there ourselves." Silus replied. "Maybe we can all go together."
"Well, as much as I would love to do that, unfortunately that won't be possible." Joy replied, looking disappointed. "Investigations are strictly between the facility and the PIA, so I have to go alone. Luckily, though, the investigation isn't until tomorrow, so why don't we spend the day sight seeing?"
"I'd like that!" Silus exclaimed.
"I have a better idea." Clair butted in. "Since the inspection is tomorrow, it'd be best to get your battle out of the way today and then sight see in Crocus City tomorrow."
"What do you think Mom?" Silus asked, turning back to Joy. "Want to come with us and watch?"
"I suppose I could do that." Joy mused. "Alright, let's go."
The Battle Subway!
Minutes later, the group of five arrived at the station for the Battle Subway. Silus was hyped up, a mood which was transferred to his Abomasnow as well, which seemed eager to see Silus battle. Reaching the reception desk, an official-looking secretary looked up from her computer and smiled.
"What can I do for you?" she asked politely.
"I'm here to challenge the Battle Subway and use it to get transport to Crocus City." Silus explained.
"Are you now?" came another, distinctly masculine voice from behind them.
Turning, Silus caught sight of a man in a long white trench coat, wearing a cap that looked very much like a train conductor's hat. He was slim, with silver eyes and matching hair.
"Who're you?" Silus asked, glancing the man over again.
"That's Emmet." Joy cut in. "He's the Subway Boss, the leader of the Battle Subway."
"That's me." Emmet said with a grin. "I hear you're here for a challenge and passage to the next city. You're in luck. I was just about to head that direction. Why don't we head that way now?"
"You're on!" Silus replied with a grin.
Emmet lead the group into the closest subway tunnel. The further down they went, the dimmer the lights became, until finally they reached an escalator which took them the rest of the way down into the station. Reaching the main platform, Emmet walked over to the train, flipping a switch, which opened its electronic doors, and then ushered the group in.
"All aboard." he chanted as they boarded the train car.
Joy entered the car first, followed by Clair, Nathan, and Abomasnow, which all took seats at the back of the rather long train car. Silus entered and stood in the makeshift box that marked the battle arena, while Emmet entered last, shutting the door behind him, and taking his place at his end of the arena.
"The rules will be simple." Emmet explained. "Its a one-on-one Pokémon battle. If your Pokémon is rendered unable to battle, I win, and vice versa. If you win, this car will let you off in Crocus City. If you lose, we'll turn around and head back. Deal?"
"Deal!" Silus barked.
"Remember Silus," Clair called out. "The reason I brought you here was to prepare you for harder Gym matches. Take this seriously and consider it training."
"Right!" Silus shouted back in agreement.
"Alright, let's begin." Emmet declared, pushing a button on his collar.
Suddenly, the train lurched forward, screeching in the process, and then launched towards the tunnel it was facing, on its way to Crocus City. However, Silus barely had time to take note of this, as Emmet had taken out a Pokéball and tossed it into the air, bursting open to reveal his Pokémon of choice.
"Durant!" the Pokémon hummed.
"A Durant, huh?" Silus mused, pulling out his Pokédex.
"Durant, the Iron Ant Pokémon. Durant each play different roles in driving Heatmor, their natural predator, away from their colony." the Dex reported.
"In that case," Silus sad, "I'll choose this!"
Hurling his own Pokéball, Silus called out Charmander, who burst onto the field in a blaze of white light. It then began its signature dance, as it did every time it was let out of its Pokéball, drawing grins from Clair, Nathan, and even Joy, who seemed pleased that her son's Pokémon was so joyful.
"Go, Durant!" Emmet declared, starting the match. "Metal Claw!"
The Ant Pokémon's large pincers immediately began to glow bright white as it stampeded towards Charmander.
"Counter with a Flamethrower, Charmander!" Silus countered.
Summoning a large ball of flames at its mouth, Charmander cast an amplified stream of fire directly at its metallic foe, scoring a direct hit and sending the tiny Durant flying across the train car.
"Good choice using Charmander." Nathan noted. "Durant is a Bug-type Pokémon with Steel properties, so is double super effective."
"Hand in there, Durant!" Emmet shrieked. "Now, let's try a Vice Grip!"
Scorched and scarred, Durant opened up its twin pincers wide and once more began to charge at Charmander with renewed vigor. Silus seemed to deliberately wait this time, waiting until Durant was close enough for Charmander to reach.
"Now Charmander, quick! Circle Throw!" Silus barked.
Grabbing on to Durant, Charmander stopped its Vice Grip cold in its tracks, lifting the Ant Pokémon off the ground, as Charmander herself landed on her back, and then hurled the Ant Pokémon backwards, slamming it into a nearby wall.
"Silus is dominating this battle." Nathan noted again. "Circle Throw is a Fighting-type move, so it did some real damage since Durant is part Steel-type."
"This is my first chance to really see his battling skills." Clair chimed in. "He's excellent. The boy is brilliant. I heard what you told me about the battles he had back in Phlox Town, and while he's not employing that level of strategy here, he clearly knows how to size up an opponent and answer with equal or more force. I was right to chose this facility to test him."
"He's improved since the last time I saw him battle." Joy added, flashing back to when Silus battled his father in Monkshood Town. "He's really maturing. I'm so proud."
"Let's wrap this up!" Silus was declaring in the meantime. "Flare Blitz!"
Charmander leaped backwards, surrounding itself in a fiery aura of flames, before leaping forward with tremendous speed and force, slamming into Durant and sending it back to Emmet, completely unconscious and out cold.
"Impressive." Emmet admitted begrudgingly. "You've definitely earned passage."
Retrieving his Pokéball, the Subway Boss returned his Durant to its resting place with a beam of crimson light. He then returned it to its spot within his trench coat's pocket. As he did, light flooded the train car once again, as it arrived in Crocus City at last.
"Looks like this is our stop." Silus chirped happily, returning Charmander.
"Well good luck to you in your Hora League challenge, Silus." Emmet said once the group was on the platform outside.
"Thanks, Emmet. And thanks for the battle." Silus replied, giving him the thumbs up.
"Well, Silus, I guess this is where we say goodbye as well." Joy noted, still standing at Emmet's side. "I have to go back and continue my investigation."
"Alright, it was nice seeing you, Mom. Have a safe trip home." Silus said warmly.
"Of course, dear. Good luck in your travels." she replied.
The train door then slid shut and slowly began to move back into the tunnel, where it picked up speed and disappeared from sight.
"Well, now that we're here in Crocus City, we might as well do some sight seeing." Silus commented, as the group progressed further into the city.
"Well, part of my reason for traveling Hora is to compete in the Dahlia Grand Festival." Clair mentioned.
"You mean, the Contest competition that happens before the Hora League? Lyra's entering that." Silus replied.
"That's the one!" Clair responded. "So, I want to compete in the city Contest if that's alright with you."
"That's fine with me." Silus stated. "You game for that, Nate?"
"Sure, I've never seen a Pokémon Contest before." Nathan replied. "It'd be a good experience. You going to compete, Silus?"
"Nah," Silus denied flatly. "It'll be a good day to relax. Don't you think Abomasnow?"
"Snow!" the large Pokémon chirped in agreement.
"Then its settled!" Clair declared triumphantly.
And so, as the sun sets on another day of adventures, our heroes look forward to Clair's Contest in Crocus City, and Silus' next badge in Safflower City!