(OOC: Hope this doesn’t seem to odd, but Cheren’s part of this post will be in 3rd person, since he is just a NPC)
Gear Station, Nimbasa City
“Clay,” I returned coolly, eyes narrowing. Of course; they would
send the only guy in old Unova who I couldn’t physically beat into a pulp. Clay hadn’t changed much since the merge, retaining his thick build and gruff manner. He dwarfed Ingo—Emmet’s calmer twin brother—with his grizzly size. Clay’s mining company had blossomed with the discovery of the crystals, and apparently he had been keeping pretty busy in the Underground. I hadn’t seen him since Cheren was put in as a new Gym Leader.
Crossing my arms, I slipped into my best defiant stance and spoke in an almost casual tone, “So, I hear you’re taking my stuff.”
“Miss White…” Ingo warned under his breath. Unlike Emmet, the black-clad Subway Boss wasn’t afraid of me.
“‘Eminent Domain’,” Clay responded as-a-matter-of-factly, jutting out his chin. “The Council wants to use a few rails to transport crystal. Figured it’d be a good way to get it to the outlyin’ cities.”
“Gee, well isn’t that nice,” I sneered. “But what makes you think you can just take whatever you want?”
Clay’s indifferent expression folded into a displeased scowl. “What the heck do you think ‘eminent domain’ is, White? We’re a government body, and we have the right to appropriate property for the good of the people.”
“Screw ‘eminent domain’,” I countered, throwing my hands up. “I’ve worked too hard on rebuilding the Battle Subway, Clay. I’m not just going to hand it over all willy-nilly.”
“They’re only taking a few lines, Zayna,” Ingo calmly pointed out. “The Battle Subway will still be operational.”
I stared at Ingo incredulously. Whose side was he on?
“I don’t care how much or how little,” I stubbornly resisted, “just the fact that they’re taking what’s mine—ours!”
Clay’s frowned deepened, bringing out the deep wrinkles in his weathered skin. “If you stopped bein’ so selfish, you might realize that the Council’s tryin’ to do somethin’ good here.”
It was my turn to scowl. “Excuse me for being less than enthused about it.”
The Gym Leader stared me down, his gaze an intense mix of pity and disgust. “What’s gotten into you, White? You used to have a better head screwed on between your shoulders.”
My expression darkened when the tumult of emotions came. How dare he! He had no idea what I was going through. This world was messed up, and I had lost half of who I was in a night I couldn’t even remember. I had been trying to cope with it, but apparently the Council
had to stick a thorn in my side and make matters worse.
I growled at the Gym Leader—but what came out didn’t sound at all human. My whole body vibrated with a deep rumbling rich with feral ferocity. I took a step back, startled by my own voice. I glanced at Ingo and Clay, anticipating horrified looks…
But they were just staring. As if they hadn’t heard a thing. I stared back at them, bewildered. Was… was that even real? What just happened…? I heard a soft whimpering at the back of my head, certain that it came from Makar.
The Mining King grunted and turned to Ingo, as if deciding that the Subway Boss was a more competent person to talk to. “The Council is more than willin’ to offer compensation fer the trade-off. We’ll have an assessor come to check out the lines within the week.”
I barely heard his words as I tried to make sense of what had just occurred. The headache I had been fighting off was now in full swing, making the task much more difficult than it should have been. I rubbed at my temples, suddenly feeling exhausted. I didn’t want to argue with Clay anymore. I knew that if I was going to get to the bottom of this, I had to go straight to the source.
A trip to the capital was in store.
“Compensation, Miss White,” Ingo emphasized minutes later, back in my office. After Clay left, the Subway Boss had been incessantly griping in my ear trying to convince me to comply with the Council.
“We might be able to complete our expansion project with the added funds,” his brother, Emmet, eagerly agreed.
I was rubbing furiously at my temples again, pleading for the headache to relent. Wearily, I admitted, “Yes… Compensation could go a long ways… But at what cost?”
I shuffled the papers on my text, pushing them aside until I had exposed a map of the subways. “They’re thinking about taking one of our more popular lines,” I pointed out on the map. “If they take that, we’ll lose a big chunk of our challengers. Less passengers equals less donations… and less attention… and, well, you get the picture. We’re barely scraping by as it is, no thanks to the cost of energy these days… The monsters don’t really help much either.”
“I see your point,” Ingo mused, stroking his chin while studying the map.
“So what else can we do?” Emmet frowned.
“Complain,” I grumbled, sinking into my chair. I grimaced as the migraine pounded at my skull.
“Negotiate,” Ingo corrected, looking at me sternly. “They might be willing to try other rails. I believe there are some we can give up with minimal loss to our income.”
I waved a hand dismissively, “Either way, I’m going to go to the Capital and get to the bottom of this.”
“You’re what?” the twin brothers gaped simultaneously.
Was it that hard to believe? I had to admit, the idea didn’t exactly thrill me. Facing the Council after going AWOL wouldn’t be the most enjoyable thing in the world to do, but this was something I had to do. I had to stand up for the Battle Subway, and let them know I was a force to be reckoned with. I was also determined not to get sucked back into their politics.
“You heard me,” I rolled my eyes in exasperation. “Has the sub to the city left the station yet?”
Still in shock, Emmet responded, “Y-yes. Half an hour ago.”
“That’s just peachy…” I muttered dryly and glanced down at the map once more. This meant I would either need to find a different path to the Capital, or chase the train down. Neither thought sounded pleasing, but the former was more realistic than the latter. “In that case, I’ll take the Hearthome line. Maybe I can catch an airship to the Capital from there.”
“Are you sure about this, Miss White?” Ingo asked cautiously.
“Of course. Someone’s gotta do it.”
“Should we accompany you?” the white-clothed Subway Boss offered.
“No,” I shook my head, instantly regretting the pain it caused. “You’re needed here. I’ll be fine.”
“Are you certain, Miss White?”
“Of course,” I smirked confidently. “I’m the Champion, remember? I think I can handle myself.”
Ingo frowned. Just before slipping from my office, he muttered, “Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.”
Council Building, Capital City
Cheren tucked his Xtranciever in his pocket, ignoring its unremitting vibrations. Normally, he wouldn’t be one for neglecting its attention, but he had more important duties to attend to. The young man strode down the halls of the Council Building determinedly, the expression he wore serious but calm. While he was here on official business, he had also been invited by an old friend. It was an interesting turn of events, one that Cheren hadn’t expected, but he sensed that something was afoot. What that could be, he wasn’t sure… But he had to wonder if it involved Zayna.
If so, then maybe he wasn’t as prepared as he thought he was.
Straightening his tie, Cheren approached one of the many secretaries that occupied the building. A blonde-haired woman glanced up at him from behind her desk with a smile, instantly recognizing him.
“Good afternoon, Cheren,” she greeted, tapping at an earpiece. “How may I be of assistance?”
He nodded at her, though honestly had no idea who she was. It was a little unnerving to have strangers know him—something that came with his new positions—but he was still getting use to these situations.
“I am here for a meeting with the Champions,” the Gym Leader got straight to the point, remaining strictly business-like.
She returned the nod as if she knew his purpose in being here all the long. “They’re expecting you in the Saffron Room—down that hallway,” she gestured with a wave. “Sixth door on the left.”
Cheren didn’t need the directions, but gave a brief bow of gratitude nonetheless. Without another word, he continued on his way, clutching nervously at the folders he carried. He hoped that the materials he had prepared would be enough to persuade the Champions, but the boyish side to him quavered at the thought that he would soon be meeting with his childhood role models. He had been with them in Council meetings before, of course, but he never had to present a proposition directly at them. Hopefully, all would go well.
Taking a deep breath, Cheren plunged himself into the conference room. To his surprise, the meeting seemed to already be in session. The Champions he had been expecting were present—Cynthia, Alder, and Lance were all sitting around the table. But a fourth person was speaking to them, a woman that he did not recognize.
Cheren did his best to mask his surprise, though his eyes darted to the clock hanging on the wall overhead. Had he been late? In an even tone that did not betray his anxiety, the youth pardoned, “My apologies. Am I interrupting something?”
He hovered in the doorway, waiting for either an invitation or a dismissal.
(OOC: I have GOT to stop writing such big posts ^^')