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Old August 1st, 2017 (5:23 PM). Edited August 12th, 2017 by MyFavoriteWordisRollerBlade.
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    Ilex Forest was one of the most sacred places in all of Johto. The residents of the nearby communities (Azalea Town and Goldenrod City, respectively) believe that it was-and possibly still is- the home to a mythical pokémon named Celebi, which has been given the moniker 'The Voice of the Forest'. Naturally, that brings all sorts of visitors to the dense forest: trainers, tourists and even a scientist and his family…

    "Ah, papa, there are so many pokémon! And look, they're not even hiding." Observed a boy, his auburn eyes alight with amazement and wonder. Two eevee, one perched on his right shoulder and another sitting by his feet, were also enjoying the unique treat of seeing so many pokémon in one place. They were truly in abundance. Kakuna and their counterparts metapod hung from trees, protected by the swarms of beedrill and packs of butterfree that never strayed too far from the nests and kept a wary-if tolerant-eye on any passerby. Oddish and paras played in the undergrowth, and poliwag took turns belly-jumping into the ponds. Occasionally a psyduck would wander by and join in on the fun, making waves that crashed into all the poliwag. All the forest pokémon seemed to be blissfully ignoring the family that was setting up a picnic not too far away.

    Only a few steps behind the boy, his father chuckled. "There are a lot, aren't there? I imagine that the pokémon of this forest have gotten used to seeing visitors. In fact, I'd say that they consider people a part of the forest," hypothesized the scientist. The boy's father was his mirror image; the same spiky gray hair, the same eye color, and even the same facial lines.

    "I told you both that Ilex forest was worth a detour. To think, you and Wes wanted to blaze through Violet City and hightail it out of Johto as quickly as possible," teased Wes's mother, a light smile on her face as she took a sip of her tea. "Aren't you glad we went this way now?"

    Wes's father scratched the back of his head. "Yeah, yeah, you were right." Wes's father looked around the forest, and he homed in on a spiky-eared Pichu, which was carrying a jumbo-sized apricorn. "It's certainly lively here. Hey, Wes." The dad said.

    "Yeah, dad?" asked Wes, turning his head so he could see him. This had the unintentional side-effect of knocking his eevee off his shoulder. Eevee tumbled down to the ground. It looked dazed. "Ah, I'm sorry Eevee, are you okay?!" Wes said, panicking a bit.

    "Eve…" said the eevee, blinking a few times as it processed what had happened. Awareness lit up in its chocolate brown-eyes and it jumped to its feet. "Eevee-Eevee!" yipped Eevee, cheerfully.

    "You're all right." sighed Wes, relieved. He scratched the back of his head, a sheepish grin on his face. "I was worried there for a second." He stretched out his arm, but the eevee that had tumbled shook its head. Instead, it went and sat next to its brother and they continued to watch the water pokémon play. "I wouldn't climb back up either," Wes admitted. The ten-year-old boy turned on his heel and marched up to his father. "What is it, dad?"

    "Look over there. It's a Pichu," said the dad.

    Wes's eyes shined with delight. "A Pichu? Wow, those are super rare, right? I don't even think there are any back in Hoenn! Is it all right if I catch one?"

    "It'd be a shame if you didn't. You're aiming to participate in the Ever Grande Conference, aren't you? This is the perfect opportunity for you to practice catching a pokémon," said Wes's dad.

    Wes nodded, excited. "Come on, Eevee! Let's catch that Pichu," Wes yelled, determined. The two eevee by the pond were drawn in by his enthusiasm and, feeling their own thirst for battle, jumped in front of him. "Use Ring!"

    Wes paused, as did his Eevee. They looked at him. "Ring?" asked the Eevee.

    Ring! Ring! Ring!

    In a dark room, the shrill cry of an alarm clock disturbed the slumbering inhabitants. The outline of a person, moving tiredly underneath the covers, could be seen. A hand lunged from the comfort of the blanket and slammed down atop the clock. The alarm's wakeup call stopped.

    For a few seconds nothing happened Then, the person shuffled out of bed. Two legs slipped out the sides and set up their roots on the freezing cold floors. A lithe black pokémon stretched at the end of the bed. "Umbreon," said Umbreon, and nudged its sleeping companion; a lilac furred pokémon with a nearly identical build.

    "Esp," responded the Espeon. It blinked and then stretched itself.

    The room was shabby and poorly constructed. There was no carpet, the rusty green pipes ran along the outer wall, and it was hot and humid, as the room lacked a working air conditioner. The bathroom was incredibly tiny and the pipes protruding from the walls made the space even tighter. The young man didn't seem bothered and went about his routine. He showered with the freezing cold water, brushed his teeth, and got dressed. Wes happened to glance at a crumply calendar on his wall as he pulled on his signature blue overcoat. May 9th it read.

    Suddenly, someone knocked on the door.

    "It's that time of the day. Umbreon, Espeon, return." Wes held up two pokéballs and they converted to beams of light as they were sucked into the confines of their respective balls. The teenager then took a deep breath, mustering the coldest expression he could manage before marching up to the door and jerking it open.

    An older man-perhaps in his mid-thirties was on the other side. He bore the typical uniform: black, sleeveless shirt with a red vest, cargo pants, combat boots, and a brown helmet. The grunt's goggles hung loosely around his next. "A-ah, Wes, the boss wants to see you. I heard he had a-a mission for you," said the grunt, not meeting Wes's piercing stare. When Wes said nothing and merely continued to stare an expressionless stare, the grunt continued. "A-anyway, I got things to do. See you a-around." The man, double Wes's age, scurried away from him.

    When the coast was clear, Wes sighed. It's just another day, he told himself. He left his little room and trooped down the halls of Team Snagem's multi-level hideout. Like always, the main halls were full. As was the "entertainment room" which Wes was forced to go through to ascend to the next level. The room didn't have much, only an old-fashioned, clunky television with poor reception, a pool table, a few couches tearing at the seams, and a vending machine that stole money better than most of the members stole pokémon.

    "Look, it's the hotshot," whispered one of the many incompetents.

    "Boss's favorite snagger," envied another middle-aged grunt.

    Wes recognized them both from previous missions. The former was in possession of a Zubat and the latter a Sandshrew, both of which had limited move pools and glaring disadvantages when in combat. In contrast, Wes utilized two fully evolved pokémon that covered one another's primary weaknesses. Naturally, Wes outperformed them. As more grunts jeered at him, Wes mentally retorted by dressing down their choice in pokémon and move pool.

    Soon he had arrived at his office. He raised his fist to knock, but just before his knuckles wrapped against the door, it opened. Wakin, Team Snagem's second-in-command, sneered at him with his ugly, slanted-eyes. "Get out of the way, kid." Wakin purposefully bumped into Wes as they then passed one another, his shoulder ramming into his.

    Wes stood his ground, managing to not take a step back. His hand curled into a fist and Wes took a deep breath to stop himself from doing anything too brash less he made even more waves with Wakin. His next step took him into the office, where he was greeted by a very cheerful and loud Gonzap.

    "Wes!" Gonzap rose from his desk, where he had been toiling over piles and piles of paperwork. Gonzap was a tall, heavyset man with a smooth head that reflected the sun and an absurdly long mustache that curved upwards. "Good to see you!" The lumbering giant flexed his toned and scarred pecs as he crossed the room in seconds. "Take a seat, we have much to talk about!" Wes, a strong hand pressed against his back, was corralled to a comfy, although worn, red chair. Gonzap retook his own chair. Gonzap then turned around the big and bulky desktop on his desk. "Do you know what this is?" asked Gonzap.

    "It's me," observed Wes.

    "It is," said Gonzap. The man leaned forward with a large grin as he continued. "It's your record. How long have you been here now, Wes? A year? It feels a lot longer when I look at how many missions you've taken and how many pokémon you've stolen. If it hadn't been for the fumble with your first mission, you would have been the best person I've ever recruited."

    "Recruited?" asked Wes, his eyes leaving the screen.

    Gonzap's grin stretched from ear-to ear. "This is why I like you, Wes. You're sharp. You have drive, too. You're not like the rest of the grunts, who have scraps for a team and do just enough so I don't drop their asses into the harbor off Gateon Port. Which is why"- Gonzap leaned back into his chair- "I want to give you a chance to rank up. Put frankly: I want you to be an admin."

    "Team Snagem isn't very large," said Wes, skeptic. At max, Team Snagem had forty members, which included Gonzap and Wakin, the top dogs. The lack of men and the way missions were structured (two units comprising of four grunts or one unit comprising of five grunts and either Wakin or Gonzap) meant that admins were not necessary. With that in mind, this proposal was wishiwashi*.

    "You're still new, so you wouldn't know this, but Snagem is just the surface of something much larger." chuckled Gonzap. Wes leaned forward. "Heh, interested, are you?"

    "What do I need to do?"

    It was here that some of the head honcho's façade, and it was a façade, faded. Gonzap's eyes became sharper and his grin gained an edge, so to say. An image of a Sharpedo flashed at the forefront of Wes's mind. "Usually I like your decisiveness, but hold off on this one. You're skilled at thievery but the next level requires something more. You'll be fighting high-profile opponents, on and off your generic battlefield, and sometimes these opponents won't just shut-up because you look scary. These types require a different, firmer, touch…do you understand what I'm getting at?"

    After a moment of contemplation, Wes nodded. "…I would have to kill." Wes's fists were so tight that his fingers grew a shade lighter because of the cut to blood flow.

    "That's right. What I'm talking about is bloody business and it's not for everyone. But I think you have the guts and you're competent, both of which are more than I can say about anyone else in this building. Which is why, with your next mission, I want you to go a step further and prove to me that I'm right. We got some intel telling us that some Unovan trainers are arriving in a few days to challenge Mt. Battle. Like always, their foreign pokémon are of interest to us. This time, though, I want you to strip them of more than just their team and dignity." Gonzap eyed Wes throughout all of this, but the teen's tight expression gave nothing away.




    "Well? Are you in or out, Wes?" asked Gonzap, grin-less. Wes's fists loosened.

    "…Do you even need to ask?" Wes stood.

    "Whaha, I knew you wouldn't disappoint. I'll have someone drop by your room later with the details. In the meanwhile, you should speak to Kenny. He was working on your bike."

    Wes left the office. The chatter and bantering of the other Snagem members became muffled as he took incredibly controlled and measured steps. He turned down a less used hallway and then took a flight of stairs. Halfway down, he stopped next to a window. Outside, he saw a familiar Skarmory perched atop the cliff-side, watching for both intruders and for potential prey. The sand dunes, which blanketed the ground for hundreds and hundreds of miles, shimmered under the merciless sun, which shone down on them with all its might.

    The young man set a hand on the windowsill. His other hand snaked inside his inner coat pocket and snagged a small, square photo. In the photo, a much younger version of Wes smiled happily. On both his shoulders an eevee sat and their combined weight meant Wes was slightly hunched. All three of them were ecstatic as they stared into the camera, though. The reason for their joy was the new, filled pokéball that hung on his belt. The shrine to Celebi stood in the background and, next to it, Wes's father, whom seemed to be distracted by a phone call.

    Wes, finished reminiscing, flipped the photo over. On the back was a sloppy, mostly faded script. From what was legible, Wes murmured aloud to himself. "The research project…Orre…Snag-,"-and, near the end of the note- "SOS." Beside this cry for help was his father's initials. He stared at this for quite some time and his eyes slowly lit up with determination. "I've persevered all this time and now all my-no, all of our-"he glanced at the pokéballs on his belt-" effort is paying off. We can't quit here- even if it means passing the point of no return, even if it means drowning in a sea of regret, shame, and self-hate. Even if it means I'll be someone's goal- someone else's antagonist, I won't back down now. My father is here and he's in trouble, and after this mission I'll finally have the means to find him."

    Filled with a grim resolve, Wes tucked the photo back into his pocket and then went on his way to the garage to see Snagem's mechanic.
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    Old August 6th, 2017 (8:11 AM).
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    Knost Knost is offline
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      I like the transition and how you set up the main characters past. Very I nteresting storyline so far. :)

      Keep it up!
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      Old August 6th, 2017 (8:25 AM).
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      MyFavoriteWordisRollerBlade MyFavoriteWordisRollerBlade is offline
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        Thanks for your feedback, I'm glad that you're finding the story interesting so far. :)
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        Old August 12th, 2017 (11:18 PM). Edited August 26th, 2017 by MyFavoriteWordisRollerBlade.
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        MyFavoriteWordisRollerBlade MyFavoriteWordisRollerBlade is offline
        CrystalLip (on
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          Prologue ll


          The garage was a spacious place, and easily fit two Snagem vans, a few motorcycles, a work table, and a storage area with all the needed supplies and materials to keep the vehicles in top condition (or, well, the closest Snagem equipment got to top condition). It was clean, too, the tables and floors kept clear of excess dust. If it weren’t for the obnoxious mix between rock music and the roaring sound of live engines, Wes would have considered it to be the most relaxing place to be. As it was, Wes barely resisted the urge to cup his hands around his ears.

          Kenny, the only other minor in Team Snagem, was rocking out, almost shimmering in his spot as he worked on Wes’s hovercycle. “Kenny,” said Wes, as he walked over to the mechanic. Kenny didn’t hear him over the music and just kept waving his head around in a wild manner. Wes spotted the radio and, without delay, turned it off.

          “Yeah, yeah, yeah-whatcha’ gonna do when they-waah- hey!” shouted Kenny. He jerked and his head slammed into the side of the motorcycle. “Ow, ow, ow, that hurt!”- Kenny continued as he nursed his head, turning off the hovercycle’s engine.- “You know, other than Wakin, you are the only person in this entire building that doesn’t like my music.”

          “Really?” asked Wes, with a pinched expression.

          “Yes, really. Dang, for as much as you two hate one another, you sure are alike. Uptight, easily irritated, broody-ouch!” Kenny cried as Wes slapped him upside the head. “Geez, why are you always so harsh. Anyway”- Kenny fell into a more professional attitude- “I’ve tuned up your ride real good, now. Your hovercycle is now faster, louder, and stronger than ever, able to reach record shattering 334 kilometers per hour; not that you would want to go that fast. It’s still a prototype, after all.” Kenny tackled on at the end as a word of caution. Then, with a puffed-out chest. “I’ve even added a side-seat for your little buddies. You don’t need to thank me, but I won’t blame you if can’t resist singing praises about my brilliance.”

          “You can’t get rid of the noise?” asked Wes. Kenny gave him a strange look, as though asking: ‘Why would I do that?’ “Forget I asked. Is she ready for travel?”

          “Just about. I want to swap out one or two more parts before you head out on another mission. I’ll have it done by…?”

          “I leave tonight.”

          “I’ll have it done by tonight.”

          “Good,” said Wes. He lingered for a few minutes, and his mouth opened and closed like a magikarp. Kenny eyed him, his hand drifting toward the radio. “I’ll see you then,” decided Wes. He spun on his heel and walked to the exit. Before he was gone, Kenny called out to him.

          “Wes.” Wes stopped, waiting. “Your hands are shaking.” Wes looked at his hands and noticed there was a slight tremble. He clenched and unclenched his hands and it slowly left him. When Kenny had nothing else to add, Wes departed from the garage in haste.

          His steps were quick as he carried himself back through the building, passing the many grunts that sneered and mocked him with comments disguised as envy or praise. Many grunts were in their mid-thirties and had dedicated the better half of a decade to Team Snagem. It unsettled them to see someone barely half their age already so far ahead. “No matter where they are, incompetents will be incompetents,” said Wes to himself.

          “Oh, lookie who it is, it’s Wes!”

          “It really is!”

          Two grunts, Agrev and Biden, stumbled toward him. Agrev, ever bold, threw an arm around Wes and pulled him in. “We he-hic-ard you got a special mission. That’s right everyone! Wes, here, is-hic- getting more special-hic-treatment! But, what else is new-hic?” slurred Agrev. Wes’s nose crinkled. The man’s breath smelled of whiskey and cigarettes. Wes had enough. He elbowed Agrev in the gut and, while the man staggered back, then spun around and then kicked Agrev’s legs out from underneath him. Agrev hit the ground hard. Wes, ignoring Agrev and the other grunts, turned his gaze to Biden, who sweated a bit.

          “S-sorry, Wes…you know how A-Agrev is, r-right?” asked Biden, a nervous wreck.

          “And you know how I am,” said Wes, his stare intensifying. “Stay out of my way.” Wes continued to his room to prepare for his mission.

          Nightfall arrived before anyone knew it and Wes, Gonzap, and Kenny were found right outside the base. Wes was seated on his hovercycle, a satchel and his two companions, Umbreon and Espeon, in the attached side-cart. He had pulled his tinted visors down over his eyes and was now testing the engine. “It feels a bit rough, still,” said Wes.

          “You have too many back-to-back missions,” complained Kenny. The young man stepped in close and fondled the hovercycle’s frame with his greased and stained hands. “I never have any time to really work ya’ baby. Hey, boss, when will Wes get some downtime?”

          Gonzap chuckled. “Whaha. Don’t worry, boy, you’ll have plenty of time to fine-tune his ride later. I am interested in seeing what you can do with it. After what happened all those months ago, I thought it was a goner”- Kenny beamed at the praise, showing his age- “That aside, though. Wes, let me give you some parting advice. Don’t hesitate. It’ll just be more difficult for you if you do.” The way Gonzap said that, his expression twisting into a morbid one, made Wes think Gonzap spoke from experience. “I’ll meet you in the cage when you get back. Don’t keep me waiting.” With that, the criminal head retreated into his base, leaving the two youth to themselves.

          “I better get back to the garage. Some of the guys are heading out to Pyrite town soon to do some recruiting and I need to make sure we don’t lose yet another van to an overheated engine.”
          “I’ll be off, then.” Wes gave Kenny time to get clear before he started the engine. Sand kicked into the air as he jetted through the desert, making his way out of the clove of the canyon wall, which their headquarters was hidden in, and out of the Canyon entirely. Behind him, Skarmory let out a shrill shriek, bidding him farewell.

          In no time at all, it was just Wes, his pokémon, and the roar of the engine as he made his way to Gateon Port, which was on the opposite side of the region. Between them and their destination there was very little other than sand, sand, and more sand. Orre had little in the way of people and pokemon because of the harsh landscape and searing temperatures. The population was comprised mostly of merchants, retired trainers, criminals that been deported out of their home regions, eccentric scientists with labs in remote places, and children that happened to be born in Orre, but never really had the means or reason to leave for somewhere else. Most of Orre’s economy was built on their surplus of soft sand, which they exported to other regions, and their many colosseums and other battling institutions.

          Mt. Battle, which was the destination of Wes’s marks, was one such institution. With one-hundred trainers, ten of which were on the level equivalent to that of Elite Four members, few had ever conquered it. Wes, being from Hoenn, compared it to the Battle Frontier in terms of prestige and difficulty. Knowing this, Wes needed more information on how strong his opponents were.


          It was a day later that Wes arrived at his destination: Gateon Port. It was midday and the streets were filled. Gateon was a thriving port city, with a dozen or so ships coming in and out of the bay every day to trade. Naturally, most of the people walking around here were sailors, all who tended to gather at the Krabby Club. With a few hours to burn before his mission truly started, Wes parked and locked his hovercycle around a tall pole in front of the club and then, recalling Espeon and Umbreon, headed in. Wes’s weathered face belied his age and the bouncer gave him no trouble. Immediately, the nauseating smell of alcohol mixed with the scent of lit cigarettes and sweat washed over him.

          Wes spotted a green-haired man sitting on one of the bar-stools and made his way over. The many dancing bodies, dancing to the wild tone set by the acting musicians, kept getting in his way and Wes was a bit flustered by the time he made it to the bar. Casually, he took his seat next to the man.

          “Look who it is,” said the man. His face was heavily scarred and he had an eye-patch over one eye. His bandaged hands, wrapped tightly around a sturdy mug, had a staple tremor. “I wish I could say that I was expecting someone else, but who else would Gonzap send? Agrev? Biden? I guess Wakin if that ass ever lowered himself to grunt work.”

          “It’s nice to see you, Mel,” said Wes, leaning back into the back of the bar-stool. “…How have you been?” Wes eyed Mel’s hands.

          “Don’t make that face, Wes. Even bruised and battered, working in Gateon Port is better than what they used to have me doing. I’m working at a parts shop, now. Course’ Gonzap still hits me up for info. One my pals who oversees the passenger logs let me take a peek-“Mel slid a folded piece of paper across the counter. “Luckily for us, these names actually came up with something when I Goomie’d* it.”

          “What are they famous for?”

          “The trainer-” Mel paused “- the other two are performers, by the way. Anyway, Jackson has consistently ranked high in the Unova League. In his first year, he ranked in the top sixteen and he’s gotten as far as challenging the Elite Four before. I watched a record of his match with Marshal, the fighting-type specialist, on Battle Spot and he’s really not half-bad.”

          “What’s he doing in Orre, then?”

          “Ah, that final was about three years ago. He’s been in a bit of a rut, losing even some of the smaller, insignificant tournaments and competitions. If I had to guess, I would say he’s looking for a change of pace to break out of it. Rut or no rut, though, you need to be weary of him. He’s a slow-starter, though, so as long as you keep the fight short and sweet you’ll be fine.”

          “Noted. What about the other two? You mentioned that they’re performers?”

          “Yup, talented ones from what I’ve gathered; I didn’t spend a lot of time researching them, though. Those types of competitions put me right to sleep. You shouldn’t need to worry much about them. Their pokémon are mostly unevolved and the ones that are have only ever really battled other performers and, well, the average performer is hardly a competent battler.”

          “The trainer is the only threat, then,” surmised Wes. Wes stood, fishing into his pocket and pulling out his wallet. He dropped it onto the counter. “Your drinks are on me, today.”

          “Heh,” said Mel, taking it. “You better not coming crying to me later about being broke.”

          “I won’t…” Wes turned to leave, but then stopped. “Mel…I’m s-“

          “Don’t say anything else, Wes. What’s in the past is in the past. Just focus on the mission; focus on your mission.” Nothing more was said, and soon Wes sat at the edge of one of the piers, briefly going over the small slip of paper Mel had given him. It detailed the pokémon and their move-sets he could expect. The scent of freshwater was incredibly refreshing and flashes of Hoenn’s own waters (which were in abundance) summoned powerful feelings inside of him. Wes let the paper fall into the water, his mind wandering.

          Wes sat there, staring mindlessly at the water pokémon that swam near the edge of the water. They were mostly luvdisc, shellder, and some goldeen. It wasn’t until a large horn blew that Wes realized the ship had arrived. It was a medium-sized ship and, as Wes stood, he saw many tourists leaning over the rails. For them, as it had once been for Wes, Gateon Port was their first experience in Orre.

          Wes observed the passengers that walked down the steps of the ship with a critical eye. With the knowledge that it was a group of three, he narrowed down the options very quickly.

          “Ahh, sweet land, sweet land!” cried out a brown-haired girl. She practically hugged the grounds as people side-stepped her. She was adorned in a blouse and skirt with warm, earth-toned colors. “I thought I would never get off that death trap!”

          A bespectacled boy chuckled a self-conscious chuckle, looking around. He was dressed nicely with his collar shirt, belt, and slacks, and his orange hair finely groomed. “Eli, you’re making a scene,” he said.
          The earth-toned girl stopped hugging the ground and took notice of all the people staring at her. With a reddened expression, she stood up and patted dirt and dust off her skirt. “W-well, we should get going then. How far is Mt. Battle, Jackson?”

          The tallest of the three, identified as Jackson, was a lanky fellow. “Uh, I’m not sure. Let’s ask someone…”
          Wes took this as his cue and approached them. “Excuse me,” said Wes, gaining their attention. He forced a smile as he said. “I overhead a bit of what you were saying. I’m also here to challenge Mt. Battle. If you’re up for it, we could travel together.”

          The three of them blinked in surprise. “That’s awfully convenient,” said the bespectacled boy. Wes tensed. The kid was sharp.

          “Oh, be quiet, Raegar. You’re being rude. We would love to travel with you…”

          “Wes. My name is Jet,” lied Wes.

          “And I’m Eli,” the girl said in kind. “This rude kid-“ Raegar snorted indignantly- “is my younger brother, Raegar. Then we have Jackson here.”

          “Nice to meet you, Jet,” said Jackson, offering his hand. Wes shook it, noting the roughness and callouses. Jackson continued, a gleam in his eyes. “You said you’re also challenging Mt. Battle?”

          Wes smirked. “That’s right. I heard that Mt. Battle hasn’t been defeated in over a decade. What trainer can resist a challenge like that?”

          “You seem confident. Can you back it up?” asked Jackson.

          “Why don’t I give you a demonstration?” returned Wes.

          “You’re on! Where’s a battlefield?”

          “Jackson, we just got here,” complained Eli. “Shouldn’t we check in a Pokémon Center, first?”

          “It’ll be quick,” said Jackson. “I promise,” he said at her skeptical expression.

          Wes’s smirked widened a little as he started toward the end of the pier. “I’ve been in Orre a bit longer than you, so I’ve picked up some things that I can pass along. In Orre, the only traditional battlefields you can find here are in the colosseums and battling institutions. In other words, trainer battles can take place anywhere. Like right here.”

          “On the docks?” Jackson seemed a bit bewildered, but was quickly consumed by excitement. “Sure, sounds fun!”

          “Great. Now, trainers in Orre are found of double battles, meaning...” Wes plucked his two pokéballs off his belt and tossed them into the air. In flashes of silvery light, his espeon and umbreon formed, letting out their signature cries. The other passengers that were leaving the ship, as well as others just traipsing along realized that a battle was about to take place and they stopped, eager to watch the battle.

          “A double battle, huh? Okay, then! Emboar, Krookodile, come on out!” Two bipedal pokémon Wes had never seen before emerged onto the docks. The first one, an emboar, was a large, orange-furred beast. It had a pig’s snout, two protruding teeth, and a necklace made of raging fire. The other, the krookodile, had reptilian-like-features and was a mute red color with thick black stripes, a blueish-grayish belly, a long snout, and beady black eyes that reminded Wes of sun-glasses. “I’ve never seen your pokémon before,” said Jackson as he pulled a pokedex out. “They evolve from Eevee, too?”

          Wes nodded. “I’ll say I’ve never met your pokémon before, either.”

          Jackson grinned. “That makes this even, then.”

          “I suppose so. Now, let me give you a warm welcome. Espeon, test the waters with Confusion.” Espeon jumped forward and the gem on its forehead glowed with telekinetic energy, which was then unleashes in a wave that washed over both opponents. Wes observed, noting that while the emboar squealed in pain and took a step back, Jackson’s krookodile didn’t react at all. “Your Krookodile is a dark-type, isn’t it?”

          “Wow, you figured that out really fast,” said Jackson, impressed. “But that was a dirty start. Emboar, hit that Espeon back with Flame Charge. Krookodile, follow up with Crunch!” Both of Jackson’s allies charged forward. The emboar’s whole body burst into flames as it sprung forward while the long-snouted pokémon trailed behind with its mouth stretched wide in a menacing fashion.

          Wes watched them approach with a passive expression. It wasn’t until Emboar was less than a foot away that he commanded: “Espeon, dodge Emboar and then use Iron Tail on Krookodile.” Jackson’s eyes widened. Espeon skillfully side-stepped Emboar at the last possible moment, its tail gleaming with energy as it then jumped over Krookodile. When Espeon was right above its back, it struck down hard with its tail. Krookodile grunted as it hit the ground. The espeon, adding insult to injury, landed atop its back.

          Meanwhile, the emboar still sprinted forward. “Umbreon, use Screech!” The umbreon bravely stood its ground before the behemoth and a jet of concentrated air flew out of its mouth. The screeching sound, combined with the compressed air strike, distinguished the flames and had Emboar clutching its head, with ached from the noise. “Now, follow up with Dark Pulse! Espeon, hit Emboar from behind with another bout of Confusion!” In the moments that followed, the fire-type was hit from both sides. A black, spasming sphere to its chest and a concentrated beam of energy from behind. The emboar roared and fell to one knee.

          “Krookodile! Emboar!” cried Jackson. “Are you two, okay?” Both of his friends grunted in response. The emboar slowly rose to both feet with noticeable difficulty and the krookodile snarled and stood on its haunches, forcing Wes’s espeon off its back. All four pokémon ended up back before their respective trainers, Jackson’s team looking roughed up but no less motivated. “You’re really strong, Jet,” said Jackson. “There aren’t many people that have shut me down like that.”

          “You’re tough, too,” said Wes. The data so far was accurate. Jackson’s moves were easily countered in the early game, but his pokémons’ natural toughness and quick recovery made it so the transition from early to mid-and-late battle went smoothly. “I’m going to kick it up a notch, Jackson,” warned Wes.
          “I’ll do the same! Emboar, Flame Charge, again!” This time, when the emboar charged across their make-shift battlefield, it was noticeably faster. “Krookodile, follow Emboar closely!”

          “Espeon, use Light Screen. Umbreon, use Dark Pulse!” The espeon and umbreon briefly glowed a soft purple as the espeon set up the light screen. Its counterpart let loose another black sphere that flew toward the charging emboar.

          “Krookodile, intercept that Dark Pulse with Focus Blast.” The reptile came to a screeching halt in its dash, its tiny and skinny arms gathering a ball of silver energy. The krookodile then threw it, and the two spheres met in the middle, exploding. Smoke billowed, covering the battle from view from even the trainers.

          Wes pulled his visors over his eyes, and the outlines of the different figures appeared. All the pokémon were now still. Even the emboar had stopped, not wanting to accidently run itself right into the ocean. Through the smoke, Wes could see Jackson’s unmoving form as the man waited for the smoke to clear. “I’ve gathered enough information for now,” said Wes to himself. Wes pushed his visors back up as the smoke started to clear. When it had, Wes held up a hand, stopping Jackson who was about to issue another command. “Let’s stop for now. Mt. Battle is far and we don’t want to wear ourselves too thin.”

          “What?” asked Jackson, disappointed. Then, in an understanding but grudging tone, he continued. “You’re right. Emboar, Krookodile, return. You both did great,” he said to his companions as they returned to the protection of their pokéballs.

          “Umbreon, Espeon, take a rest. You’ll need all of your energy for later,” said Wes, saying the last part in a soft, dangerous whisper.

          Wes and Jackson met one another in the middle and shook hands, again. “It wasn’t very long, but it was fun,” said Jackson.

          “This is just a taste of what’s to come,” said Wes.

          Eli and Raegar joined them.

          “That was a great battle!” said Eli.

          “Your pokémon are in excellent condition,” added Raegar. “I noticed their fur had a shine to it. What do you feed them?”

          “I make pokeblocks for them out of berries,” answered Wes.

          “Pokeblocks? Oh, you must be from Hoenn, then,” said Raegar.

          “You’re really sharp. I’m surprised you noticed their fur. Are you a breeder?”

          “No, we’re-“the boy waved his arm over himself and his sister- “pokémon performers. It’s like the Pokémon contests in Hoenn that you’re familiar with, but with more participation from the trainer.”

          “I’ve never heard of those before. I’ll have to check it out, sometime,” said Wes.

          “If you’re ever in Unova, let us know and we’ll get you a ticket,” said Eli, friendly.

          “I will,” said Wes. He observed the skies. “It’ll be evening soon, which is a great time to travel. You’ll want to have a lot of water and some easily digestible snacks on hand.”

          “We didn’t bring very much. Is there a store near here?” asked Jackson, the trio looking through their bags and coming out with half-empty, plastic water bottles.

          Wes nodded. “Yeah, just follow me.” As they walked together, Eli’s stomach grumbled.

          “Heh-heh,” she laughed, embarrassed. Raegar put a hand to his face and sighed. “Any chance we can grab a bite, first?”

          Wes glanced at Jackson, who shrugged in acceptance. “I know a good place,” said Wes, and then led them to his favorite eatery in Gateon Port.
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