Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Gracidea Blossom (Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, & Platinum X Little Busters!)

Riki Naoe doesn't ask much from life; ever since his parents died, he only wants to stay with the friends who pulled him out of depression: Masato, Kengo, Kyousuke, and Rin. Kyousuke, however, has other plans: there's a beautiful world out there, and he wants Riki to see it. And so Riki and Rin set out on their own Pokémon journey through the wonders of the Sinnoh region, both natural and man-made. They will face challenges and meet new friends, and see all the awesome things the world of Pokémon has to offer. After all, even when it comes with tears, isn't that what life is about?

Table of Contents:


Character Teams:

Kyousuke Natsume:
Spoiler:
“Maeda” – Male – Infernape
“Louis” – Male – Nidoking
“Irwin” – Male – Garchomp
"Masuda" - Male - Raichu
"Chaplin" - Male - Sudowoodo
??? - ??? - ???


Riki Naoe:
Spoiler:
"Sly" - Male - Bonsly
"Terra" - Female - Turtwig


Rin Natsume:
Spoiler:
"Santa" - Male - Chingling
"Lennon" - Male - shiny Litten


Haruka Saigusa:
Spoiler:
"Thumbtack" - Female - Shuppet
"Soap" - Female - Tentacool
??? - ??? - ???


Masato Inohara:
Spoiler:
"Biceps" - Male - Machamp
"Beenniku" - Male - Beedrill
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???


Kengo Miyazawa:
Spoiler:
"Scyther" - Male - Scyther
"Meditite" - Male - Meditite
"Hitmonchan" - Male - Hitmonchan
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???


Komari Kamikita:
Spoiler:
"Granny" - N/A (but treated as a girl) - Minior


Sasami Sasasegawa:
Spoiler:
"Kuro" - Male - Litten


This is a crossover featuring the cast of Little Busters! In the Pokémon Sinnoh region. Prior knowledge of Little Busters! Hopefully won’t be necessary to enjoy; I’m going to do my best to introduce characters and info with the assumption that any readers don’t know anything about the source material. That said, there are spoilers I’m going to have to get into in order to portray these characters; as such, whenever a chapter FIRST introduces spoilers from a character’s route in Little Busters!, I will say so in a note at the top of said chapter. This way, if anybody decides they’re interested enough to check out the source material and wants to avoid spoilers until then, they can pause and do so. Even then, I’m going to do my best to avoid spoiling too much of any route; I'm planning to do my own thing, not just replay the exact same conflicts and solutions in a slightly different setting.
My intent is to take it a little slow and focus on the beauty of the setting; I really love Pokémon’s worldbuilding, and I want to capture that feeling of really wishing you could explore this world too from when I was first playing these games as a child. Currently, I'm aiming to release a chapter every other Monday, until I feel comfortable aiming for a weekly release goal. (note that I'm crossposting this on SpaceBattles and AO3 under the name "Adept Arcanist"; my account here is older, from before I changed my handle.)

(I'd also love to hear any constructive criticism people have; this is my first time writing and posting a full story, so any information on how I'm doing or what skills I should focus on training is appreciated!)

Alright, then, the time has come. Let’s leap into the world of Pokémon!
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Prologue: Kyousuke's Back

The wind howls, flinging torrents of sand every which way. A narrow path cuts through pockmarked cliffs of dark rock, winding up and down the sandy canyon floor. If a flying observer thought the storm was bad above ground level, they would realize how wrong they were upon diving between the walls; where the gale above split this way and that, sometimes blowing a flurry upwards to hang a moment in the air, here the canyon forms a channel for a river of air and sand to cut through like so many minuscule blades. Even the small oases of Route 228, normally offering respite from the desert’s harshness, find their trees struggling as the sandstorm strips leaves from their branches.

Two figures trudge through the sand, pushing forward even as the wind fights to deny them. The first, towering over its companion, is a bipedal dinosaur covered in bulky purple spikes. Its tail drags through the sand, leaving a trail behind it for only moments before the sandstorm covers it up.

Behind the Nidoking, relying on its bulk for cover from the storm, is a human wrapped up so tightly that not an inch of skin is visible. A damp cloth is wrapped around his nose and mouth, and heavy goggles cover his eyes. He pokes a gloved hand experimentally out from his Pokémon’s wind shadow, and snatches it back from the sudden force. He mutters to himself, voice confident though muffled by the cloth.

“This is definitely no ordinary storm.” Although Route 228 is known for its sandstorms, normally trainers can prepare for the weather and gather here as a training spot. The current winds, however, brook no argument in their rejection of any human foolish enough to trespass. Of course, that’s why he’s here; to get to the bottom of whatever’s been rendering the area uninhabitable. In front of him, his Pokémon lumbers to a stop; when he peeks around its side, he sees that a rock slide has blocked off the path. “Louis, down.” The Nidoking obediently crouches, allowing its trainer to clamber up onto its back. He pulls himself up by its spiked ridges.

That’s one advantage of the sandstorm, he muses. He doesn’t have to be as careful of his Pokémon’s poisonous spines when he’s already wearing gloves.

“Rock Climb!” He shouts the command to be heard over the wind, and holds on tight as Louis grabs onto a boulder above and begins the process of hauling itself up the obstruction. Its weight shifts back and forth as it climbs, and its passenger winces as his body occasionally swings out to catch a burst of stinging sand. Finally, the wind seems to let up a little as the Pokémon pulls itself to the top of the cliff and lets its trainer off. The two look down at the northern half of the route, and find it utterly buried in sand dunes. The northern oasis has totally vanished under heaps of sand, and as their gazes turn further north they find the source - a massive twister spewing sand from a wide pit near the route’s northern gate. The gate building itself, of course, is utterly sanded in (sanded in? Sandlogged? The trainer makes a mental note to check); it’s been unusable since the storm began. He pauses for a moment, considering. No, he’d better stick to his guns. ‘Sanded in’, it is.

Trainer and Pokémon trek on, staying atop the cliff with Louis bearing the brunt of the storm. It, at least, seems to enjoy the sandblasting. Finally they reach the nearest location to the source, a point where the cliff juts out in a wide overlook. Even with his Pokémon’s protection, the trainer can feel the twister tearing at his clothes, straining to pick him up and fling him away. He grimaces. This next part isn’t going to be fun.

He runs out from his Pokémon’s shelter to duck behind a pair of large, pitted boulders. For a moment he’s exposed to the full brunt of the sandstorm, and the damp cloth is ripped from his face, forcing him to cover it with one arm. He coughs in the dry air, but still manages to splutter out a command.

“Louis! Use Avalanche!” The Nidoking roars in reply, and stomps one huge leg with tremendous strength. A wave of ice spews forth from its mouth, and the cliff face gives way under the force, sending tonnes of ice and rock tumbling down into the twister’s heart. The sand sputters and pauses for a moment, and the trainer chooses then to dive out from his hiding spot and leap on top of the avalanche, desperately fighting to keep his balance as he plunges to the ground. As he nears his destination the tumbling rocks grow even more treacherous, and when an impact seems about to jar him off he leaps away, coming to a rolling stop in the sand some feet from ground zero. He sways to his feet, wincing. That probably would have given Riki a heart attack if he was here.

Still, he grins. He needs to work on the landing, but that was cool. He snaps back to earth as a tremor runs through the pile of rock and ice where the avalanche has finally stopped. Louis was far too heavy to make the same trip without being injured, so he’s going to have to play this suboptimally. That’s fine. The rocky tomb bursts apart, and an angry Pokémon emerges with a roar. It’s a huge hippo, taller than he is, with a leathery gray hide. Sand pours from holes on its darker snout and back, although thankfully it doesn’t seem capable of starting the twister back up immediately after his Nidoking’s painful attack. The Hippowdon - he hasn’t needed his Pokédex to recognize native Sinnoh species in a long time - glares at him, one eye red and the other a faded, milky blue. After a moment’s standoff, it leaps at him.

“Irwin! I choose you!” He flings a pokéball without missing a beat, and with a flash of red the Hippowdon find its charge interrupted by a vicious slashing claw. It backs away and examines this new opponent with its good eye. The claw attaches to a thin arm, sporting a pair of small spikes and a deep blue vestigial flipper. Red scales stretch up the newcomer’s belly and to its jaw, on a sharklike head flanked with two organs like jet engines. The snout is painted with yellow scales in the shape of a star. The Garchomp crouches, flicking its tail out behind it, and goes on the offensive. It’s unable to take full advantage of its speed in these narrow conditions, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still pack a punch.

At its trainer’s shouted “Dragon Claw,” the land-shark launches itself at the Hippowdon, slashing out with wicked claws. The hippo lumbers back, shifting to take only glancing blows until it finds an opening to lunge and latch onto the land-shark with its massive teeth. Its maw flashes white for a moment, and Irwin roars in pain as ice blooms where the Hippowdon’s teeth connect. It thrashes back and forth, trying to throw its opponent off, but the hippo is too heavy to budge.

“Wh—muk! That’s not a move Hippowdon can learn in the wild!” The trainer swears. Garchomp are incredibly vulnerable to the cold, and his Pokémon could be in danger if he doesn’t do something quickly. “Use Substitute! Get out of there!” Irwin glows bright white, and a moment later it’s slipping away as the Hippowdon munches on a glowing decoy. Back in the ball it goes, and — the trainer swears again, diving out of the way as the hippo barrels towards him, the substitute finally bursting beneath its legs. The rampaging Pokémon tries to stop as its target escapes it, but one of its back legs shudders as it tries to dig in, and it slams into a rock wall with a bellow. The trainer scrambles back to his feet, another Pokéball already flying from his hand. “It’s up to you, Maeda! Use Mach Punch!” A large ape, brown with a white torso and yellow swirls adorning its body, shoots like a bullet at the Hippowdon and beans it in the snout just as it turns around. The ape cartwheels out of the way of its opponent’s retaliation, flames billowing from its head in interesting patterns as it flips backwards. With another bellow, the Hippowdon gives chase.

“You’ve been competitively trained, that’s for sure.” The trainer narrows his eyes behind his goggles, watching as his Infernape keeps its opponent busy. “Why would a trainer abandon a Pokémon they’ve put this much investment into? And if they were going to just dump you off somewhere, then why go through the effort to make sure it’s in your natural habitat? Unless…” He watches as the Hippowdon works itself up into more and more of a rage, until it finally rears up onto its hind legs, preparing to slam down and trigger an earthquake to bury these irritants in one fell swoop. “Maeda, now!” The Infernape catches the hippo’s forelegs as it begins its descent, straining to push against the force. The Hippowdon roars, trying to crush its foe, but even as it pushes the ape back, its bad leg falters and gives in. Maeda gives one final push, and the Hippowdon slams down on its side. Dazed and weakened, it still tries to push itself to its feet.

The trainer approaches slowly, hands in front of him. “Your trainer felt responsible for getting you hurt, didn’t they? They thought staying here would be better for you. You were just trying to cause a disturbance so that they’d come back.” The Hippowdon’s roar sounds less angry, now, and more sad. “I’m sorry. I know I’m not your trainer. But… You can come with me, if you want to.” The hippo raises its head, its one red eye meeting the trainer’s gaze. Finally, it slumps to the ground, no longer struggling.

“I understand. And… I’m sorry.” The trainer pulls an Ultra Ball from a pocket of his coat, and with a press of the button on front it expands to full size. He palms the sturdy metal sphere, and with perfect form sends it sailing at the Hippowdon’s center mass. In a flash of red, the Pokémon vanishes, and the Ultra Ball falls to the ground. It doesn’t shake.

The trainer walks over and picks it up. Next to it is a strange rock, smooth but for translucent brown crystals jutting out at angles. “Was she holding this?” He murmurs to himself, and pockets the stone. May as well show it to the Professor, in case it had anything to do with the strength of the Hippowdon’s sandstorm.

“Now, then…” He looks around.

The pit is covered in rubble and sand. Finding where his Pokémon’s balls had flown after releasing them is going to be a hassle.

——

“…And that’s what happened.”

Sinnoh’s Resort Area could hardly be any more different from the harsh desert of Route 228. Nestled between lush forests on every side, the settlement is a study in blues and greens. Aside from a small Pokémon Center catering to trainers who came from the other Areas of the Battle Zone, the few buildings in the clearing gleam white in the sun, with rich vacationers lounging on lawn-chairs or swimming in pools beside them. Despite their luxury, all of these villas remain at one story in height; the only building to climb higher is the combination Ribbon Syndicate and Spa at the northern edge of town, a social hub for those staying in the area.

A young man lies on the cool grass next to a small pond. Around him are scattered several layers of protective clothing. The trainer finally pulls off his thick goggles and splashes some water on his face. Now that he’s no longer bundled up against the sandstorm, he’s wearing a black T-shirt with a light red dress shirt worn open over it. Auburn hair falls to the length of his nose, cut shorter just above each eye to keep it from blinding him. He straightens up and stretches before opening his eyes, refreshed. They’re a deep, intense red. This is Kyousuke Natsume, the Champion of the Sinnoh region’s Pokémon League.

“Route 228 is officially open for travel again, and I’ll be taking this Hippowdon with me. Who knows, maybe we’ll even find her trainer. How about you, Professor?”

His companion looks up from finishing a donut. “Hmm, yes. My research while waiting here was more than satisfactory.” This is an older man, sporting white hair and an impressive mustache. He’s wearing a brown coat over a blue vest. His face appears severe, but the effect is rather ruined when he licks frosting off of his fingers and smiles. “…And I must say, the amenities were quite fascinating as well!” This is Professor Rowan, the region’s foremost Pokémon Professor. “Anyhow, you really didn’t have to accompany me to Unova. Surely you’re eager to get back to your friends?”

Kyousuke nods. “I can’t say you’re wrong. Still, I did have business that was closer to Unova than Sinnoh.” He fingers a Pokéball on his belt, kept separate from those of his team and the recent acquisition. “And helping out on the way was the least I could do, with what I’m asking of you.”

“Nonsense, young man!” Rowan waves the comment off. “I’d never ask for compensation to help nurture another generation of Trainers. Getting to see youngsters set out and discover the world together with Pokémon would be reward enough, even if we weren’t talking about…” He trails off, shooting Kyousuke a sheepish look.

Kyousuke takes pity on him. “Of course. I shouldn’t have implied otherwise.”

“Err-hem. Speaking of which, here - now’s as good a time as any to hand them over.” Professor Rowan turns to the briefcase sitting on the grass beside him, and pulls out a slim black bag with something rectangular inside, along with two Pokéballs. Kyousuke takes them, inclining his head in thanks. “I must say, having your assistance was quite nice! If you’re ever looking for a job as a full-time lab assistant, my door is always open!”

“Well, I might be hunting for a job one day and have to take you up on that.” Kyousuke chuckles. “For now, though, Champion duties keep me more than busy enough.”

“Hah! Well, you can’t blame me for trying.” Rowan snaps his briefcase closed and takes one last wistful look at the large building overlooking the resort. “You know, the lady at the Syndicate said they’d be getting in Lava Cookies tomorrow. Ah well, I suppose time waits for no man…”

Kyousuke shakes his head. “I guess not. I wouldn’t want to miss our boat and have to Surf all the way.”

With some good-natured grumbling, the Professor picks up his briefcase, and the two set off.

——

The sun is setting over Mt. Coronet by the time Kyousuke finally makes it to Hearthome City. Stepping out of the gate building and onto the city’s patterned brick paths, he marvels at how, no matter how long he’s been away, Hearthome always seems to welcome him back. From the widely spaced brick houses and apartment buildings, flanked by bushes growing from cutouts in the street, to the parents out with strollers, waving casually not at the Champion but at the leader of those kids who were always making a racket, the city emits a palpable sense of warmth. Kyousuke is looking forward to seeing his friends, but he stops at a bench to rest his feet and watch twilight play over the city. Streamers of orange light seem to sink into the bricks around him, and paint the city’s fountains with their glow. Above the mountain to the west, the sky fades from blue to orange to a quiet pink. The breeze is pleasantly cool, and Kyousuke’s eyes slowly drift closed.

When he opens them again, dusk has well and truly fallen. In lieu of the sun, street-lights have illuminated themselves, casting the city in a strange liminal tone. He checks his Pokétch, and sees the clock app mark the time as 10 PM. With a yawn, Kyousuke pushes himself to his feet; his friends shouldn’t be sleeping just yet, and he does want to see them tonight.

“Oh, if it isn’t Kyousuke!” A woman stops him before he can begin his search; he remembers her babysitting him and his sister when they were younger. “I see you’re back from your trip.”

He nods. “I would have been here yesterday, but they needed my help at the Battle Zone.”

“Ah, of course. A champion’s duty calls, eh? I don’t suppose you checked in on Rin and the others before deciding to take a nap?”

“Hmph.” Kyousuke chuckles. “What can I say? Our fair city’s beauty couldn’t be ignored.”

“Sure, sure. If you’re looking, I think they’ve been in Amity Square all day.”

“Much obliged.” With a casual wave, Kyousuke sets off in the direction of the park. He could have guessed; any time she wasn’t otherwise occupied, Rin could be found playing with the cat Pokémon who lived there. Riki would go wherever his friends did, and Masato and Kengo liked to keep an eye on them when he wasn’t around, so more often than not they could be found in the park whenever he returned from a long trip. He slips past the Pokémon Contest Hall, ignoring the colorful lights and boisterous sounds that can be heard from the dome, and finally the city’s ubiquitous brick gives way to grass as he approaches Amity Square’s entranceway.

Although the design is somewhat reminiscent of Sinnoh’s gate buildings, the entranceway is much more open, with open-air windows that only get covered in cases of inclement weather, and a cheery sign depicting a Drifloon, a Psyduck, and a Torchic hanging over it. He passes through with a nod to the attendant, and steps out into the park. Despite the dark sky the park is still illuminated by a smattering of street lamps; Amity Square is first and foremost a place for children to play with tame Pokémon, so safety is their first concern. It’s a shame that you can’t see the stars from here, but it’s worth it for the smiles the park brings to children and adults alike.

Catching a glimpse of one of his friends, Kyousuke cuts across a bridge to the manmade island in the center of the large pond that occupies pride of place in the square. Sat on a raised outcropping of rock next to the Bonsly that follows him everywhere, Riki Naoe is quietly gazing at the water. Although he’s only a year younger than Kyousuke, Riki is still more a boy than a man, with a slight build clad in a simple blue coat. He has brown hair and greyish-brown eyes, set in a soft face. Right now, however, those eyes seem to be looking someplace far away.

Even now, years after they first met, Kyousuke still catches Riki making that expression from time to time. He wishes he could drive the clouds from his friend’s face for good. He clears his throat, and raises his hand in a lazy wave. “Yo, Riki.”

Riki looks around, and his face lights up like the sun upon seeing Kyousuke.

“Kyousuke! Your trip is over? Oh, wait, I need to go get the others!” He turns and runs deeper into the park. “Hey! Masato! Kengo! Rin! Come on, Kyousuke’s back!”

Kyousuke watches fondly as his friends gather. One more day, he decides. They’ll spend one more day in Hearthome, playing together like nothing has changed. But after that…

He toys absentmindedly with the Pokéball he picked up in Unova, and meets the eyes of two of his friends as they approach. Masato and Kengo nod back, the message received.

It’s time.

Soon, Riki and Rin’s own journey will have to begin.
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Chapter 1: It All Starts Naoe


Gentle strains of music float across Hearthome. Kricketune are singing on Route 212, and the music drifts in to harmonize with the chirping of Starly. This is what every morning sounds like in ‘the city where hearts touch each other.’

Sunlight filters through the window of an apartment at the southern end of town. Within is a bed, with a boy curled up in it. At his bedside is a small potted plant, a miniature tree with three yellow spots in front. It tapers off to three small branches on top, each sporting a green sphere on its end.

When the sunbeam crosses Riki’s eyes, his face wrinkles up and he blinks himself awake with a yawn.

A few minutes later, Riki steps through an open doorway into the apartment’s combination living room/kitchenette. He pulls a frozen breakfast out of the freezer, and it’s just as he’s finished setting the microwave to thaw it that the potted plant walks into the kitchenette on stubby brown legs.

“Morning, Sly,” Riki calls back to his Bonsly as he sets out a bowl of food for it. He turns back to the microwave to wait.

He’s halfway through his breakfast when he hears a noise pounding on the apartment’s door. Leaving his food at the counter, he opens the door to greet his best friend.

Masato Inohara is a tall, buff young man with blue eyes and spiky black hair. He’s wearing a red T-shirt and jeans, and a red bandanna is wrapped around his forehead.

“You’re finally up, Riki! Kengo and Rin have already gone to the park!”

“Already?” Riki glances at the clock hanging on the wall. It’s not moving. His face falls. “I forgot to set my clocks after yesterday’s power outage, didn’t I…”

“Ah, well!” Masato grins. “No use crying over a tipped Miltank!”

Riki pauses midway through throwing on a blue jacket. “…What?”

“It’s an idiom!”

“Masato, that’s crying over spilled milk!

“What? When I asked, Kengo said I could use it that way! That bastard, he’s probably thinking ‘ha, that idiot Masato was stupid enough to think people cry about tipped Miltanks, and besides, he already makes a fool out of himself in front of everyone every day,’ isn’t he!”

“No, no, no, he probably just thought you meant spilled milk and told you what that meant instead…” Riki sighs as his friend works himself up into a misunderstanding. Well, that said, every day is certainly energetic…

Forgetting his half-eaten breakfast, Riki grabs a small cooler and calls for his Pokémon to follow him. The two humans and one Bonsly make their way out through the hall to the elevator. Buildings in Hearthome are built with ramps and elevators in place of stairs wherever possible, to make sure they’re accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, and small children and Pokémon alike. By the time they reach the ground floor and step outside, the sun is already high in the sky. The breeze is pleasantly warm as they make their way through Hearthome and to Amity Square’s eastern gate.

Masato pulls out a Pokéball. “Go! Biceps!” With a flash of light, a Machamp is filling the available space of the passage. It’s a large, humanoid Pokémon with grey skin, yellow frills on its head and a yellow beak, a championship belt around its hips, and four muscular arms. “You ready to take a walk?”

*Fweeeet!* A whistle blows, and the gate attendant steps in front of them. “You know the rules! Machamp isn’t a permitted Pokémon in the square!”

“That’s unfair! Amity Square is for cute Pokémon, and my Biceps is plenty cute!” At that the Machamp strikes a pose, one arm up on either side and the other down, muscles bulging. “Look, Riki! Don’t you agree? Aren’t those the cutest muscles in the entire world?”

No, by all accounts, you’re the one who’s being unreasonable… Riki chuckles sheepishly, sweating under the attendant’s disapproval. “Masato, you know that’s just the phrasing they use… Biceps is a big Pokémon, you know? Even though he’d never hurt anybody, the park still has to make sure that only small and weak Pokémon are around, in case little kids provoke them…”

Man and Machamp sigh in unison, and Masato withdraws his Pokémon with a flash of red. “Ugh… Why do you have to be so reasonable, Riki? Fine! We’ll just have to get in our exercise later, I guess!”

Riki bows a hasty apology to the attendant as they pass into the park. Amity Square’s eastern entrance leads up to an elevated rocky area looking down on the western half of the park. Several small structures modeled after ancient ruins are available for children to play in. Up a few ramps at the far side of the area, a young man in a blue hakama is making training swings with a bamboo sword. He has white hair and a serious expression. Several children are watching him, fascinated.

KENGOOOOOOOO!” With a roar, Masato runs at him, Riki following behind in a panic to stop his friends from fighting. “You told me I could use ‘no use crying over a tipped Miltank’ to mean that what’s done is done! I just made a fool out of myself in front of Riki because of you!”

“Hmph.” Kengo plants his training sword in the ground and turns to face Masato. “I thought you meant ‘no use crying over spilled milk,’ so I just told you what that means.” Riki sighs in relief. “But I suppose you really are stupid enough to think people cry over tipped Miltanks. And besides, you already make a fool of yourself in front of Riki every day, don’t you?”

THAT’S IT! I thought you’d say that, Kengoooo! Why don’t you say it to my muscles?”

“If it’s a battle you want, it’s a battle you’ll get!” Kengo pulls a Pokéball out of his hakama, but before he can throw it a shrill whistle pierces the air.

Kengo Miyazawa, Masato Inohara, you two KNOW no Pokémon battles are allowed in the park!” The gate attendant glares at them from her post, a megaphone in her hand.

“…Yes, ma’am. Sorry, ma’am.” Abashed, Kengo turns away from the gate to resume his exercises.

“Tch. I guess you get to put it off this time. But next time we battle, I’m gonna take you down for sure!” Masato grunts in acquiescence, then drops to the ground and starts doing situps.

“You said that the last time you challenged me, too.”

Satisfied that his friends have been defused, Riki looks around the park. “Hey, Kengo? Have you seen Rin?”

“Hm? She’s down on the east side, like always.”

“Ehehe, of course…” With a sheepish chuckle, Riki waves goodbye to the pair of muscle idiots, and ducks into the nearest ‘ruin.’ In the back, there’s a ramp leading down into a series of small tunnels which connect all of the structures. Riki turns left, and makes his way to a ramp leading back up to a hut on the western side of the park. As he emerges, he hears a girl’s voice seemingly holding up one end of a conversation.

“Oh! Are you trying to learn Copycat? You can do it, Tezuka! Audrey is showing you how!”

Meowww.

“Wait… but… You’re already a cat, aren’t you? Shouldn’t you know Copycat already? You probably copy other cats all the time…”

Meow?

“Do you actually know it? Have you been holding out on me?” The voice takes on a shocked tone.

Meow…

Quietly, Riki peers out of the stone hut. A short ways away, playing with a multitude of cat Pokémon, is Rin Natsume. She’s a girl with red eyes and a brown ponytail. She’s wearing a pair of jeans ripped off at her calves, and a white shirt with pink striped sleeves. A small bell is attached to the thin white ribbon holding her hair back, and it jingles softly every time she moves her head. Perched on her shoulder is a Chingling, a round yellow Pokémon with a growth like a striped rope on top of its head. Rin makes a suspicious face at a Meowth crouched on all fours in front of her.

“You would tell me if you knew Copycat, right?”

Miaoww…

Evidently satisfied, Rin peers into the gold coin on the Meowth’s forehead. “Are you proud of your coin? Do you polish it every day?”

Meow.

“Woah! That’s amazingly dedicated! Super… no, duper-duper dedicated!” Rin scratches the Meowth behind its ears, making it purr. A Skitty nudges its head into Rin’s arm, and suddenly cat Pokémon are climbing all over her. “W-woah! Hold on! I can’t pet all of you at once!”

I’ve probably waited long enough… Smiling to himself, Riki steps out of his shelter.

“Are the cats happy?”

“Wah! Riki! I’m— I’m not playing! I was… scolding these cats! Yes, Tezuka, you’ve been very bad! (whew, that was a close save!)” Although Riki can hear her muttering to herself, he decides not to press.

“Right… Well, I brought sandwiches, so I just wanted to let you know where to find them once you get hungry. I’m going to go sit by the pond for a while, okay?”

“Mm.” Rin nods and turns back to the cats. At this point, Rin is such a fixture in Amity Square that Riki wouldn’t be surprised should it turn out she’s disrupting natural migration patterns. He’s pretty sure that Espurr were an invasive species in Sinnoh before they started flocking to Hearthome…

Leaving Rin and the cats behind, Riki and Sly cross a wooden bridge to the small island in the middle of the pond. He gives Sly a boost, straining to lift the Rock-type, and then sits down next to it on a raised stone outcropping. He looks across the water at Rin, then raises his gaze to watch Masato and Kengo trying to outdo each other in their respective martial exercises. He smiles. As long as he has this, he’ll be okay.

—-
Years ago…

…Riki’s life had been clouded in shadow. After the accident that killed his parents, he had retreated into himself, giving up on the outside world. If living meant feeling this loss, then he would rather close himself off and not feel anything. If remembering his parents meant sinking into this pit, he would rather know nothing at all. He’d spent every day trying to hide from the pain, without the will to move forward. His guardian had moved to Hearthome with him, hoping the city would help him open back up, but even then he still spent every day in a haze.

And then, one day…

…A boy had appeared in front of him, and reached out a hand to pull him up.

“My name is Kyousuke Natsume. What’s yours?”

“…Riki Naoe…”

“Come with me, Riki! We need you to add your strength to ours!”

“Huh…?” Riki had raised his head, confused.

Kyousuke had pulled him to where three other kids were waiting; Rin, Masato, and Kengo. He’d explained that they were trying to capture an invasive hive of Beedrill before it could damage the local ecosystem.

“My teacher said if Beedrill get a foothold in Sinnoh, they’ll drive away Combee hives!”

“But— what are you going to do about it?”

“Don’t underestimate us!” Kyousuke had thumped his chest with a grin. “The four of us are allies of justice who fight evil - we’re called the Little Busters! Together, we can take on any opponent!”

The children gathered and threw Pokéballs at the hive until a swarm of Beedrill finally came out, yellow bee Pokémon nearly as tall as they were, with black stripes on their thoraxes and massive stingers on their arms. It was then that Masato had made a desperate play, smearing himself with honey to lure them away from the hive. “The rest is up to you!”

Realizing the danger, Kyousuke’s Pichu had jumped off of his shoulder at the swarm and shot sparks all around it, electrocuting the pursuing Beedrill… and Masato with them. “Gaaaaah! That’s not the help I wanted!” Watching as a scorched Masato berated Kyousuke, Riki had finally broken down and laughed - and found the other Little Busters laughing with him.

In the end, they had weakened the Beedrill enough for adults to notice and come remove the hive. What’s more, one of the Beedrill had attached itself to Masato after eating the honey off of his shirt, and he’d been allowed to keep it - with a strict promise to never train it without supervision.

Since that morning, every day had been filled with life. The Little Busters came up with all sorts of tiny adventures, from cleaning a pool in return for a day of sole access, to climbing the spire of Hearthome’s cathedral. Laughing and playing together with his friends, the pain in Riki’s heart had become more bearable, until slowly, almost without his realizing it, it had vanished behind the boisterous fun of being with them.

Now…

…Riki Naoe’s only wish is for these days to go on forever.

——

“Yo, Riki.” A familiar voice breaks Riki out of his reverie. It’s already dark out. He looks around before finally catching sight of Kyousuke standing on the island, his hand raised in a lazy wave. Riki’s face splits into a wide grin.

“Kyousuke! Your trip is over? Oh, wait, I need to go get the others!” He turns and runs deeper into the park. “Hey! Masato! Kengo! Rin! Come on, Kyousuke’s back!”

“Kyousuke’s back?” Masato looks over with a grin, and hops down the short cliff dividing the east end of the park from the west. Rin stands up, sending a rain of cat Pokémon tumbling off of her, and Kengo emerges from a stone ‘ruin’ a few moments later, having chosen a more dignified method of transport.

Masato pumps his fist. “Good to have you back, Kyousuke!”

Riki nods. “Yeah, we’ve missed you! How was your trip?”

Kyousuke chuckles and gives a thumbs-up. “Mission Complete!”

“So what’s next, then? What should we all do this week?”

“Ah…” A bead of sweat runs down Kyousuke’s face. “About that… I can’t actually stay for long. I have to go on another trip in a couple of days.”

Riki’s face falls. “Again? But Kyousuke, you were gone for a month already!”

Kengo puts a hand on Riki’s shoulder. “Riki… being Sinnoh’s Champion is a big responsibility. You know that Kyousuke can’t blow it off just to spend time with us.”

“But…!” Riki looks between Kengo and Masato, who doesn’t meet his eyes. “Why aren’t either of you backing me up? He’s your friend too…”

“Riki, you didn’t let me finish.”

“Huh?”

Kyousuke fixes Riki with a serious gaze. “I have to go on another trip... but this time, I wasn't planning to go alone."

"Oh..." Riki shrinks in on himself. "So... You need Masato and Kengo to go with you too, this time...?"

"Not just them," Kyousuke cuts in before Riki can continue. "I want [I]everyone[I] to come with me - you and Rin, too."

“Eeeh? You... really want us to come along?” Riki glances at Rin, who looks as uncertain as he feels. “But you've never taken me or Rin with you on Champion business before! I mean… If it lets us all stay together then of course I’ll go, but… won’t we just slow you down?”

Kyousuke shakes his head. “Not necessarily. I believe that you and Rin can become capable Trainers.”

“Trainers? Wait, no, we could never be as good as you, Kyousuke!”

“Riki. Even with me, Masato, and Kengo protecting you, accidents can still happen on the road. If you and Rin want to come with me, you have to be able to take care of yourselves. Your Bonsly and Rin’s Chingling won’t be enough on their own. Rin, catch.” In a smooth motion, he tosses a Pokéball at his sister in a gentle underhand. Rin scrambles to catch it with a yelp, but when she glares at him he just grins. “In that Pokéball is a cat Pokémon from Alola called Litten. Your big brother crossed oceans and mountains to secure it for you, facing down giant Pokémon and inhospitable—”

“Shut up, idiot, you just called in a favor or something.”

“Gkh—!” Kyousuke flinches.

Looks like Rin got it in one. Well, even so… Riki glances at Rin, who is clutching the Pokéball protectively despite her harsh words. At least she seems happy.

Kyousuke rallies. “As for Riki, I have a choice of Pokémon for you.” He takes out a pair of Pokéballs this time, holding one in each hand. He raises the Pokéball in his left hand. “First is Piplup, the Penguin Pokémon. It’s a fast swimmer, and evolves into a Water and Steel-type Pokémon which can slice apart ice floes with its wings.” He lowers his left hand, and holds up his right instead. “Your other choice is Turtwig, the Tiny Leaf Pokémon. Its shell is made of hardened soil, and it evolves into a Grass and Ground-type that shelters smaller Pokémon on its back.” He makes a grand sweeping gesture with both arms, or at least as much of one as he can manage while gripping a Pokéball in each hand. “The adventures I went through to retrieve these Pokémon are too grand for—”

“You told Professor Rowan it was for Riki, so he handed them over,” Rin retorts. Riki looks away at the mention of the Pokémon Professor.

Kyousuke droops, an aura of gloom falling over his eyes. “…Right. That.” For such a competent and energetic Trainer, he can be surprisingly childish when he doesn’t get his way…

“W-wait, no! This is just what I wanted!” Riki rushes up to Kyousuke and grabs a Pokéball out of one hand, throwing it in front of him. The Pokéball bursts open with a loud noise and a flash of red light, which resolves into the shape of a small tortoise on all fours. The light clears to reveal that the Turtwig is covered in green scales, with yellow splotches on its feet and a yellow lower jaw. It has a brown shell on its back, and a sprout with two leaves grows from another patch of soil on its head. “See? I’m really happy to be given a Turtwig!”

“Really? Even with what Rin said?”

“Yes, of course!”

“Then you’ll go with me?”

“I’ll do it!”

“Yahoo!” Any trace of his former sulk is gone as Kyousuke shouts with a boyish grin. “Alright then, you should get to know your Turtwig while Rin meets her Pokémon. Oh, by the way, Turtwig is a girl, while Litten and Piplup are boys.”

Riki crouches down to pet the Turtwig while Kyousuke moves on. Its scales are cool and firm to the touch, and when Riki experimentally pats its shell, he’s surprised to find that it feels moist. He looks up while Turtwig headbutts his palm affectionately. A short ways away, Kyousuke is showing Rin the proper form for releasing a Pokémon. She nods with a quiet jingle, winds up, and as her arm sails forward to release the Pokéball, the ball vanishes.

There is an “OWW!” and the sound of a Pokémon leaving its ball, and the group all turns to see Masato lying on the ground with a Litten standing on his face. Unlike most of its species, the Litten’s fur is white except for its whiskers and lower jaw, rings around its legs, and a vertical stripe in the middle of its forehead which branches into two horizontal stripes, all of which are red.

Kengo speaks up, impressed. “You got your hands on a shiny one?”

“I did say I went to lengths,” says Kyousuke, preening. “That said, Rin, we’re going to have to work on your control.” He turns to his sister, but she’s not listening, already following the Litten as it hops off of Masato’s face and trots a few paces away.

Rin sits down and offers her fingers for the cat Pokémon to sniff. After a moment, it rubs up against her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, um…” She looks up, uncertain. “He needs a name. What to call him…” Riki turns back to his Turtwig as Rin considers. He should probably give this one a name, too. He watches as it and Sly investigate each other, and pats the base of the sprout on its head, feeling the dampness of the soil.

“Alright, then. It’s nice to meet you, Terra.” The Turtwig looks back at him and cocks its head. “That’s your name now, okay? Terra.”

“Kyousuke, help… I can’t think of any more names…” Rin’s voice makes Riki look up again. She seems genuinely distraught. Well, that’s only natural, when she’s named every cat Pokémon she’s come across for as long as Riki’s known her…

“Hm… Well, a proper name for a Pokémon is important. Alright then, I’ll name him for you. Litten, from now on you’ll be called…” Kyousuke makes a dramatic flourish at the cat. “…Lennon!”

Riki meets Kengo’s eyes as the latter suppresses a groan. For all the fuss he’s making about names, Kyousuke always just names his Pokémon after famous people.

“Now then, let’s get back to business.” Kyousuke clears his throat. “I’ve also brought some empty Pokéballs for you. You should make sure you put Santa and Sly in the first ones. Most of the time, you’ll only want to have one Pokémon out when traveling, and sometimes it’s better to have all of them in their balls.” He hands Riki and Rin five Pokéballs each. Rin holds one up to her shoulder, and after waiting a moment to see that Santa doesn’t back away, she taps the Chingling with the button on front and it disappears into red light. Riki does the same for his Bonsly. “And finally, a Pokédex for each of you.” He opens a slim black bag and pulls out an orange rectangle with a clamshell design. The left side of the Pokédex has a round protrusion coming out of the side, with a camera in the center. He hands it to Riki before pulling out a second one and giving it to Rin.

Riki flips his Pokédex open, revealing two screens. A D-Pad sits in the middle of the round protrusion on the bottom half, while the top half has a speaker in the same place. He presses the power button next to the bottom screen, and the screens light up. A smaller protrusion pops out of the right side of the Pokédex, with a rotary touch pad on it and a green circle in the center. The screen guides him through a setup process, then opens to a blank list.

“The Pokédex has a camera function to automatically record data on Pokémon you see, but you can also register one that you’ve caught for more information by holding up the Pokéball to that green lens.” Kyousuke shows Riki how to line up Sly’s Pokéball with the lens, and Bonsly’s information fills itself in on the screen. Riki withdraws Terra and registers its information while Kyousuke moves on to help Rin with the setup. “When the Pokédex is closed, it will turn off the screens to conserve power, so you should be able to maintain the battery life as long as you don’t forget to charge it whenever you’re sleeping indoors. As long as the camera can see from wherever you keep it, it will still register the Pokémon you encounter.”

Riki flips the Pokédex closed and pushes the protrusion with the lens and touch pad back into its protective casing. After a moment’s consideration, he slips the Pokédex into a breast pocket, with the camera just sticking out on top. “Then… When will we have to leave?”

“In two days,” Kyousuke says. “I was figuring tomorrow we can just relax and do something fun, and then we’ll help the two of you prepare for the trip before we set out.”

“Alright, then!” Masato slams his fist into his palm. “Now we get to the [I]fun/I] part! You two ready to start training?”

Kengo looks from Riki, stifling a yawn, to Rin, staring at her Pokédex like it’s a foreign language, to his Pokétch, proudly displaying the time as ‘12:00’. He puts a hand on Masato’s shoulder. “Maybe that should wait for tomorrow.”

By now, the park is totally empty except for them and the night-shift attendants. Kyousuke chuckles sheepishly. “Ah… right. Then let’s reconvene in the morning.”

As the friends file out of Amity Square, Riki glances back for a moment. It’s looking like he might not see it again for a while, but that’s fine. Where he is has never been what’s important to him. He looks at his friends again, Masato and Kengo playfully arguing over which will be the better teacher as Kyousuke and Rin stride ahead. As long as he can stay with the four of them, that’s all that matters.

————————
Updated Pokémon Teams:

Kyousuke Natsume:
Spoiler:
“Maeda” – Male – Infernape
“Louis” – Male – Nidoking
“Irwin” – Male – Garchomp
"Masuda" - Male - Raichu
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???


Riki Naoe:
Spoiler:
"Sly" - Male - Bonsly
"Terra" - Female - Turtwig


Rin Natsume:
Spoiler:
"Santa" - Male - Chingling
"Lennon" - Male - shiny Litten


Masato Inohara:
Spoiler:
"Biceps" - Male - Machamp
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Chapter 3: No Contest



The next morning, the Little Busters gather outside Rin and Kyousuke’s house. The siblings are a little late to emerge, their parents having insisted on helping Rin pack after learning about the planned trip. She now has a bag waiting for her by the doorway, stuffed full of travel supplies.

Rin follows Kyousuke out the door, Lennon curled up in her arms. She can feel the Litten’s warmth bolstering her against the chilly morning air.

Once the five friends are all in one place, Kyousuke clears his throat. “Ahem. Good morning, gentlemen. We gather here today to bid farewell to our good city of Hearthome before departing on our trip. As such, I have determined that the day’s activity shall be a specialty which can’t be found elsewhere!”

Rin cocks her head. “We’re going back to Amity Square?”
“No,” Kyousuke replies, “That’s just a daily activity for you! Today has to be something special.

Masato crosses his arms and pipes up. “Training, then! Super-secret muscle training we can only do here!” He grins, muscles in his arms bulging.

“Woah… does such a thing exist?” Kyousuke affects a shocked expression. “Masato, have you been hiding a secret muscle-training facility from us all along?”

“No, no, no, he just got carried away and invented a place that doesn’t exist,” Riki ripostes.

“Gaaaah!” Masato buries his face in his hands, thrashing back and forth in anguish. “I thought Kyousuke was going to show us a secret training ground! Now I got all excited for nothing!” Rin shrinks back a little. Muscles really are the only thing on that idiot’s mind. Scary!

“Putting the idiot aside…” Kengo glares at Masato’s theatrics. “Shouldn’t we focus on preparing Rin and Riki for the trip?”

“Boring! You’re all boring!” Kyousuke finally shouts. “Any old Trainer would spend the day before a trip packing and training! No, if we want to assert our individuality, there’s only one thing we can do today!” He makes a dramatic flourish in front of himself with his right arm. “That’s why, we’re going to hold a Pokémon Contest!”

“A… Pokémon Contest.” Kengo fixes Kyousuke with a flat look. “Even if we had fancy clothes with us for it, you do realize that the Contest Hall isn’t going to let us just waltz in and take over the stage, right? The judges have official competitions to spend their time on.”

“That’s fine, we can host our own Contest outdoors! I’ll be the judge, while you, Masato, Riki, and Rin are the contestants!”

“What about the fact that the three of us have grown, trained Pokémon? Even when it’s not a head-to-head fight, their conditions are still good enough that Riki and Rin’s new ones wouldn’t be able to compete against them.”

“Hah! It doesn’t matter if you’re amateur or adept, a Pokémon Contest is about heart!” Seeing the unamused faces around him, Kyousuke stumbles for a moment before picking back up. “…And besides, I’m sure I can come up with some house rules as a handicap.”

After a moment, Kengo just turns away with a sigh. “…Wonderful. Well, I hope you have fun. I’m going to go pick up supplies that will be actually useful.”

“Kengo, wait!” Kyousuke chases after him for a few steps, but gives up as he disappears in the direction of the city’s shopping district. “…That… That’s fine!” He rallies! “I still have a plan for how to do this without him!”

Masato takes the bait. “Oh? And what would that be?”

We’ll just have a Pokémon Contest with the three of you!

“That’s just the same plan, you idiot!” Rin kicks her brother in the shin, but even through a grimace of pain he refuses to break his heroic pose.

Riki looks uncertain, but… “Well… if you’ve put that much thought into it, then I guess we’ll be happy to try a homebrew Contest. Right, guys?” At that, Rin knows it’s pretty much decided. Riki always folds when her brother is involved.

——

Due to the Little Busters’ late night the day before, most of the city has already woken up by the time the quartet sans Kengo starts making their way to Kyousuke’s chosen stage. The sun is shining down, and the city is alive with its signature gentle bustle. Various residents nod at the group as they pass by, wishing them good morning by name. Just about everyone knows everyone else in Hearthome; still, Rin clings a little closer to her brother. They may not be strangers, but she’s perfectly happy with just the friends she’s got. This holds especially true as they pass the city’s Pokémon Gym, not far from the entrance to Amity Square on the east side of town.

Hearthome Gym is a large building of white stone, jutting out from the city’s ubiquitous brick pathways. Challengers enter through a one-story round vestibule facing the city’s main street, but the bulk of the Gym is behind that: a pair of large semicircles, each twice as tall as the entrance area, overlapping a little at the centers of their arcs like a pair of interlinked rings. One more circular floor rises just above where the arcs connect. Kyousuke has shown Rin pictures of a facility called the Prestige Precept Center in Orre; apparently, Hearthome’s leader modeled her Gym renovations after that building.

The Gym itself operates in a somewhat peculiar fashion. Rather than accepting a constant stream of challengers, as most do, Hearthome Gym runs on a strict schedule: it opens to Trainers seeking its badge on rare preordained days, taking all who approach in one big wave, and then closes its doors to them again until the next scheduled opening. Anybody who misses the day or fails their challenge has no choice but to wait and come around again next time. The upshot of this is that because of the Gym, every so often a wave of strangers from all around Sinnoh flood the town, all trying to get their badges at once. Rin hates those days, although she supposes that she can at least follow the publicly released schedule and know when to keep her head down. And, well, the Gym Leader is nice; the older girl likes to stop and chat with Rin about the cat Pokémon they both love from time to time.

Passing by the Gym, the four come to the open square in the middle of town. While the whole city is littered with benches and areas for relaxation, this plaza is a favorite spot for those who want a different experience from that of Amity Square. With the Gym not far to the east, the town’s Pokémon Center on its west side, and the grand half-dome of the Super Contest Hall stationed at its northern end, most foot traffic passes through the plaza sooner or later.

At the very center of the plaza is a great fountain, and Kyousuke wastes no time in clambering onto its rim. Curious spectators gather around, wondering what those crazy kids are getting up to today. “Now, then - Riki! Rin! Masato! The three of you will be the contestants in the Little Busters’ First Unofficial Super Contest!” He raises a sign that reads ‘Applause’, eliciting the desired reaction from a few cooperative passers-by. “As for the rules! Each of you will enter one Pokémon. We don’t exactly have music or accessories for the first two rounds, so we’ll be jumping right into the Appeal round. I will act as your judge,” he bows before sweeping an arm at the gathered residents, “As will our lovely audience. Finally, since Masato has been training his Pokémon for much longer than our other two competitors, they are both allowed to enter a second Pokémon in our Contest. Are these conditions acceptable?” His gaze meets that of each reluctant performer in turn. Riki and Masato nod; Rin doesn’t deign to respond. “Perfect! In that case… let the Contest begin!”

Rin and Riki each send out both of their Pokémon, while Masato takes a moment longer to decide.

“Now then!” For want of a sound system, Kyousuke has pulled a megaphone out from someplace. He gives his best shot at emulating a Super Contest Emcee. “Our contestants today areeeee…! Masato Inohara! With his Beedrill, ‘Beenniku’!” Caught up in the moment, Masato waves at the motley crowd. “Rin Natsume! With her Chingling, ‘Santa’, and her Litten, ‘Lennon’! Annnnd last but not least, Riki Naoe! With his Bonsly, ‘Sly’, and his Turtwig, ‘Terra’! Your appeals… start… Now!”

The Pokémon leap into action, to the makeshift audience’s cheers. Masato makes the first move, having his Beedrill jab at the air with its stingers to show off the gleam of its chitin. Kyousuke applauds politely, and then it’s Riki’s turn.

“Terra, Tackle! Sly, use Flail!” The Bonsly flails about aimlessly while Terra tackles the air in front of Kyousuke with a burst of strength from its hind legs.

“Not bad, but you’re still missing something! Rin, you’re up!”

Rin has had some time to think of a strategy, so she responds immediately. “Both of you, Growl!” At her command, both Santa and Lennon open their mouths to emit a cry. With nobody following them, the cat’s meow and the bell-like jingle have a moment to mix and echo.

“That’s it,” says Kyousuke, caught up in the energy. “Just like that! Alright, next round! Rin, you’re first this time! Masato, you’re going last!”

At Rin’s command, Lennon breathes a tiny flame onto the pavement while Santa wraps its rope around a lamp post. The flame dances beautifully for a moment before guttering out.

“Sly, use Copycat! Terra, Withdraw!” Riki’s Turtwig pulls its head and limbs into its shell, the leaf on its head still sticking out a little while Sly vibrates for a moment, watching Lennon, and then somehow spits out an ember of its own. The crowd ‘Ooh’s and ‘Aah’s.

Rin glares at Sly for a moment, betrayed. “But he’s not even a cat,” she mutters.

“Alright, Beenniku, use Pursuit!” Everybody pauses for a moment, brought back to the present by Masato’s command. Suddenly, Rin’s Pokémon have lost their composure as the Beedrill chases them around the square. Although Sly is also running from the bee, Terra remains cool as a cucumber in its shell.

“Wh- Is that even legal?!” Rin shouts.

“In Hoenn, it would be! I’ll allow it!” Kyousuke waves his hand dramatically, before shouting, “Good appeals, but startled Pokémon lose points! One more round! Keep it up, you three!”

“And what in the world is going on here?” The Pokémon screech to a halt as a girl with purple twin tails appears in front of them, hands on her hips. She’s wearing a black ribbon in her hair, done up to look like cat ears, and a formal black dress. She’s clearly just come from the Super Contest Hall, and a pair of girls are flanking her, one with green hair and one with red.

“Pokémon Contest,” replies Rin matter-of-factly. “What about you?”

“How could you not recognize Hearthome’s Contest prodigy?” The green-haired girl speaks up with a disbelieving expression. “Our lady Sasami and her Pokémon are always… Smart!”

“Tough!” On her other side, the red-haired girl steps forward. Rin cocks her head. Have they rehearsed this?

“Cute!” Back to green hair.

“Cool!”

The two step aside, speaking in unison as they frame Sasami with their arms. “And, of course…”

At this, the subject of their performance finally steps forward, one hand elegantly in front of her mouth as she speaks. “…Beautiful! So, I’m sure you can see why a Contest pro such as myself is concerned about this parody you’re putting on!”

“Not really,” says Rin. “We’re just playing.”

“Wh- Just playing?” The other girl sputters. “Is a Pokémon Contest a joke to you? I know who you are, Rin Natsume. Don’t think that just because you’re the sister of the Champion, you can get by without applying yourself!” She takes a moment, visibly calming herself down. “Hmph. Well, then, if you want to prove you know how to perform in a real Contest, come to the Super Contest Hall tomorrow. I, Sasami Sasasegawa, will challenge you personally!”

“I can’t,” Rin replies. “It seems I’m going on a journey.”

“…It… Seems? Does it not concern you?”

Rin shrugs. “Sorry, Sasa…” She pauses for a moment, trying to get the other girl’s name down. “…Sashimi.”

A vein bulges in Sa…something’s forehead. “…You’re making fun of me. Of course you are. That’s it, Rin Natsume!” Her voice hits a somewhat hysterical pitch. “If you cannot take this seriously, I challenge you to a battle! Right here, right now! Go, Kuro!” With a studied motion, she throws a Pokéball. When it hits the ground, it bursts open in a swarm of bubbles, and out pops a Litten - like Lennon, but with black fur where Lennon’s is white.

“I don’t get it, but… I guess we’re battling? Come on, Lennon!” The shiny Litten jumps in front of Rin, facing its counterpart.

“So you even mock me with my own Pokémon…” Sasami growls. “Listen well, Rin Natsume! I always aim for nothing less than to win! To offer anything short of 100% is to disrespect both yourself, and your Pokémon! Kuro, use Lick!” The black cat jumps forward and licks Lennon’s face viciously. …At least, Rin thinks it’s viciously, since her Pokémon staggers back, muscles twitching.

“Lennon! Lick him right back!” Rin hesitates when Lennon looks back at her with a plaintive meow. “Wh- don’t you know that yet?”

Sasami gives a high-pitched laugh. “Oh-hoh-hoh! This is why it’s important to train your Pokémon, and not just play around aimlessly!”

“Ugh… Lennon, use Scratch!” Lennon jumps forward, a little slowly, but still manages to rake its claws down the other Litten’s side.

“Scratch him right back, Kuro!” At Sasami’s command, her own cat Pokémon begins to scratch at Lennon in return, and the two cats find themselves scratching back and forth.

On the sidelines, Kyousuke grimaces. “…I have to say, I’ve seen more exciting matches.”

“Shut up!” Rin takes her eyes off of the battle to kick her brother in retaliation, but he jumps smoothly out of the way. “Lennon, use—” Her Pokémon staggers, unable to move for a moment due to the earlier Lick attack, and then falls to the ground with a whine. “No! Lennon, return! Go, Santa!”

“A second Pokémon? No matter! If he’s as poorly trained as the first, this will be… a…” Sasami trails off, and her face goes red as she stares over Rin’s shoulder. Rin twists to look behind herself, and sees Kengo approaching with a pair of heavy shopping bags.

“Oh, you guys are still at it?” Kengo looks surprised. “I’ll admit, I didn’t think you’d manage to draw this much of a crowd.” Since the battle started, the motley observers have grown into a veritable audience, curious what would happen next. Kengo looks past Rin and notices Sasami. “Oh, and you would be miss Sasasegawa from the Contest Hall, right? I didn’t realize that you and Rin were friends.”

“I— Mister Miyazawa, er— can I call you Kengo? I was just— um—” Sasami toys with her hair, flustered. She looks between Kengo and the battle in front of her, where Rin’s Chingling has obliviously wrapped Kuro up, and is squeezing it with its rope. Kuro meows in frustration at its distracted Trainer. “I— that is— ask you to tea? I mean— Ugh! Kuro, return!” Just as Santa starts to nuzzle the captive cat, Sasami pulls out Kuro’s Pokéball and calls it back with a beam of light. “This isn’t over, Rin Natsume! If you’re going away, then— then I’ll just go and challenge the Gyms, myself! I’ll earn all eight badges, and then you won’t get off so easily! Mark my words!” With one final glance at Kengo, she turns and flees, her companions trailing after her with a fading ‘Lady Sasamiiiii…’

“…Odd girl.” Kengo watches her departing form, bemused. “Rin, do you have any idea what that was about?”

“I don’t really get it, but… I guess I won?” Rin picks up her Chingling, scratching it gently just behind the nub where its rope-tendrils connect to its head. She glances at Lennon, who meows weakly. “Oh… I’m sorry, Lennon, do you need to go to the Pokémon Center…?”

“R-right.” Kyousuke scratches the back of his head. “Well, I hate to call off our Contest before the final round, but… it looks like that’s about all we can manage today. Let’s just get your Pokémon healed, and then we can pack up Kengo’s supplies. Sound good?” Rin nods, hardly noting the others’ agreement as she returns Lennon and Santa to their Pokéballs. The five turn and make their way to the nearby Pokémon Center, where the nurse at the reception desk takes Rin’s Pokémon with a reassurance that they would be in good hands.

She hands Rin a slip with a number on it. “Your Pokémon should be all refreshed in a couple of hours, so just come back then and show us this, okay? We hope to see you again!”

——

Back at the Natsume residence, Kengo finally unloads his shopping bags. “Alright, then. I’ve got some food for the road, and several Potions, Repels, and a Revive for each of you. I’ve also bought a pair of first-aid kits; while the Routes usually have enough traffic to be safe, if you break a bone with nobody around it can still be dangerous. I also got a sleeping bag for Riki, since he doesn’t have one.”

“You really didn’t have to… How much should I pay you back?” Riki fumbles for his wallet, but Kengo stops him with a raised hand.

“Don’t bother. The three of us have earned enough in prize money that gathering a fund for your supplies really wasn’t an issue.”

“Oh…” Riki hesitates, but accepts the gift. “Oh! I think I have a collapsible portable stove in my room. Should I bring that?”

Kyousuke nods. “It can never hurt to have a way of cooking on the road - you can only live on cold canned food for so long without wanting to break something. Just make sure you remember to bring extra gasoline, too, or it’ll just be a fancy paperweight.”

“Right,” Riki responds.

“Before you go get it, let’s make sure we’ve gone through everything else you need to bring. Do you have an extra pair or two of hiking shoes?” Riki shakes his head. “We’ll have to go and buy you some before the day is out. You and Rin could both stand to buy some good hiking socks while you’re at it, too.”

“Don’t forget warm clothes,” Masato pipes in. “My muscles can keep me warm just about anywhere, but with how little bulk the two of you have, you’d better be ready for the cold.”

“…I don’t think muscles work that way…” Riki grumbles, but he diligently notes down the suggestions nonetheless.

“Let’s get what you already have packed, and then we can go look around for anything else you’re missing.” Kyousuke stands up. “Oh, and we can’t forget a sturdy water bottle. Rin already has one packed, but water is the single most important thing to have when traveling.”

The friends prepare to head to Riki’s place, but he looks a little uncertain. He speaks quietly. “…Isn’t this a lot for just going on a short trip with you? I mean, you three can take care of most of this, can’t you?”

“…” Kyousuke fixes him with a serious look. “It’s important to be fully prepared for a journey. You never know just what might happen when you’re away from home.”

“…Right…” Riki nods, takes a step forward, and then sways. Rin rushes to catch him before he can hit the ground.

She struggles to carry his weight for a moment before Masato comes to help her. It’s clear that Riki is fast asleep.

Narcolepsy.

It’s a chronic disease Riki suffers from, which makes him fall asleep randomly and without warning. He says he’s had it since before they first met him.

Rin looks to Kyousuke, wondering what to do.

“…Well, so much for finishing our preparations right now. Let’s get him to a bed, and then I’ll go pick up what I can.”

The others nod, and they haul Riki to a guest room. Rin’s parents are used to the boy needing to stay from time to time, so the room is set up for his use when they aren’t specifically hosting someone. After getting him onto the bed, Rin sits down in a nearby chair to catch her breath. She closes her eyes.

After a while, Kengo speaks in a low murmur. Rin can barely make out what he’s saying. “…sure this is going to work?”

Kyousuke whispers a reply. “Riki will be okay. He’ll have Rin with him. We just have to believe in them.”

Masato, this time. “…I just hope you’re right.”

Rin can hear the three open the door, leaving her to keep watch over Riki while they gather supplies. Her mind wanders back over the busy day, and her first Pokémon Battle. It was more exhausting than she thought, but it looks like she has a rival now.

Sitting in the dark room, before long, she too falls asleep.

------------
Updated Teams:

Masato Inohara:
Spoiler:
"Biceps" - Male - Machamp
"Beenniku" - Male - Beedrill
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???


Sasami Sasasegawa:
Spoiler:
"Kuro" - Male - Litten
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Sorry for the late chapter. This one really just steamrolled me for some reason, but hey, better late than never!
I'm gonna try and use the upcoming week to get a chapter ahead in writing, so hopefully future weeks should go more smoothly and this shouldn't happen again.
-------------
Chapter 3: Measuring Up Against Meditite


A world of total darkness. No touch. No sound.

The only thing reminding him he exists is the pressure, like a vise clamping down on his head.

Even his thoughts stall as he falls through this endless void. He doesn’t dream.

He never dreams.



Time passes, and eventually the throbbing in his head begins to fade. The ability to think returns to him. He becomes aware of his senses again.

Touch, first. He can feel of his hands pressing into smooth sheets.

Then hearing. After that void, even the soft sound of breathing feels like a salvation.

His head still feels heavy, but he can move his fingers now. He’s regaining control of his body.

Riki opens his eyes.

He’s in the guest room of the Natsume residence. Rin is asleep in a nearby chair, her body curled in on itself as she slumbers. A glance at the clock tells Riki that it’s 9 in the evening, but after his narcoleptic spell, he doesn’t feel tired enough to sleep properly.

Quietly, so as to not disturb his friend, Riki slips out of bed and pads to the hall. When he reaches the living room, he finds Kyousuke sitting there.

“Ah, Riki. So you’re up.” Kyousuke turns in his seat. “Masato and Kengo have gone home for the day, but I have a list of what preparations are left. There were a couple of things we needed you for.”

“Oh. Um…” Riki doesn’t meet his eyes. “Are you… really sure that me going with you is going to be okay? I mean, I didn’t speak up before, but…”

“…But what if you fall asleep on the road?” Kyousuke finishes for him. “Don’t worry, Riki, I knew about this when I made the offer. When that happens, we can just make camp and wait for you. We don’t have so little time that we can’t afford to cut a day’s travel early here and there.”

“Oh. Well, if you’re sure… I do still want to stay with all of you,” Riki says.

For a moment, Riki thinks he sees a shadow pass over Kyousuke’s face. It’s gone so quickly, though, that he decides he must have imagined it.

“Right. Just think of it as another one of our adventures, and I’m sure you’ll have fun.” Kyousuke gets up from his seat, and shows Riki a list with most of the items crossed off. “If you don’t want to go back to sleep just yet, we can try and take care of the last preparations right now.”

Riki nods. “Yeah, I don’t feel tired. Oh, but you should probably get Rin to bed before we leave. That chair doesn’t look too comfortable.”

And so the night goes on…

——

The next morning, the friends gather by a fountain at the west end of town. Here, the bricks of Hearthome slowly give way to grass and pine trees, and a stone path leads the rest of the way out of the city. Most people leaving the city use one of two gate buildings: A small one to the east leads towards Solaceon Town, while the west end has a larger building with exits to the south and west.

The western gate is a three-story building, with a rest area on the second floor. Along with being a place for exhausted trainers to rest their legs, the second level also has souvenir shops and a food court. The top floor is a small hotel with fairly cheap rooms, for travelers who come in at night and don’t want to search for a place in the city.

The ground floor is somewhat more utilitarian, with a few stalls selling travel supplies. Stretches of empty wall are covered with large maps, some showing the travel routes of the Sinnoh region while others detail the layouts of Hearthome, Route 208, and Route 212. The maps are broken up by wall-mounted TV screens, turned to weather and news channels. Travel advisories scroll across the bottoms of the screens. ‘If traveling south, be sure to bring waterproof gear!’ ‘Never attempt to climb Mt. Coronet without a buddy!’

Riki and his friends pass by these sights, stopping to check the weather - apparently, there’s a northeasterly wind blowing in fog from Route 210 - and make sure their backpacks are secure.

When they reach the split between the way south and the way west, Riki speaks up. “So, um…” He scratches his head. “…Where are we going?”

Kyousuke stumbles, a bead of sweat rolling down his forehead. “D…didn’t I tell you?” He looks at Rin, who shrugs. “…Right… Well. Ahem. Our current destination is Jubilife City, to the west. Jubilife TV requested that the Champion appear for a talk show, and I already had plans to visit Lake Verity, so it’s on the way.”

“A talk show? Really?” Kengo gives Kyousuke a flat look.

“Hey, anything that pays! I won’t be able to coast on being Champion forever, I need to build a varied resumé!”

“…Right…”

The Little Busters pass through automatic doors into Route 208. Just west of Hearthome City is a small hilly area, with well-maintained grass and berry patches scattered through it. The area gets wilder the further you go from the city, but young aspiring Trainers can usually practice here without too much to worry about as long as they turn back rather than climbing when they hit the rocky base of Mt. Coronet. Normally the mountain is visible from the gatehouse, but today the route is already partially hidden by a light mist. The world feels smaller under the grey sky and close horizon, like it’s been cut into manageable pieces.

A shout stops the group. “Well, if it isn’t our young Champion and friends!” An old man with white hair waves them over to where he’s tending a patch of berry plants. There’s a wicker basket at his feet. “And where would you be off to this fine morning?”

“We’re heading to Jubilife,” Kyousuke replies.

“Ah, these two finally starting out to see the world?” The old man looks Riki and Rin over. “That’s good. Everybody should travel with Pokémon sooner or later. There’s nothing like a journey for figuring out what you really want to do with your life, even if that doesn’t turn out to be battling.”

“Ah… right.” Riki looks away, unsure how to tell him that he’s just following after Kyousuke.

“Kyousuke gave you starters, I presume?” The man glances at Riki and Rin’s waists, where each now wears a belt with two Pokéballs.

“That’s right,” says Kyousuke. “Show him.”

Lennon and Terra are sent out, and the two Pokémon nose at the berry plants before wandering back to their trainers’ legs. The old man looks on in approval.

“They look like a good choice. I can tell they like you already!” He leans down to offer Terra a berry, and after a moment of hesitation the Turtwig extends its neck to take the fruit from the old man’s hand. “Now, then. You remember what I taught you, right, Riki?” At Riki’s nod, the man turns and procures something from his basket. “Well, if you’re setting off, I think you deserve a present. Here!” He hands Riki a pair of firm, speckled blue berries. “Those are Yacha berries. If you give one to your Turtwig, it should help her resist an Ice type attack. And for the young lady, Passho berries. I can’t say I recognize that cat’s species on first glance, but it looks like a Fire type, so a berry that helps protect against Water types can’t hurt!” He hands Rin a soft blue berry, dotted with air bubbles. After another moment of looking through his basket, he also gives them a paper bag of mulch. “That’s two berries each - one for your Pokémon, and try and plant the other one, okay? It never hurts to give nature a hand!”

“Thank you.” Riki stashes the berries and mulch in his bag, and bows slightly in gratitude. “I promise, I’ll find someplace nice to plant this.”

“Good, good! Well, I shouldn’t keep you for too long, but when you’re in the area, remember that the Berry Master’s door is always open!” The old man waves them off, and the group moves on, their Pokémon following behind. Occasionally a wild Pokémon seems like it might investigate them, but Kyousuke, Masato, or Kengo always calls out one of their own Pokémon to scare it away.

The terrain grows rougher as they head west, until they reach a rocky cliff with stairs carved into it. This is the base of Mt. Coronet, with rocky plateaus of various elevations stretching out for a short ways around the foot of the mountain before the ascent proper begins. A river has carved its way through this area of the foothills, running below the elevated paths and necessitating a series of wooden bridges between raised plateaus. As the morning stretches on, the mist grows heavier, wreathing the badlands in gray and obscuring Mt. Coronet above them. The group continues to walk towards the mountain, weaving between rocky outcroppings and crossing bridges, until they reach a wide plateau rising from an island right in the middle of the rapids. A short ways to the north, they can see a waterfall where the river drops from a higher elevation.

Kyousuke suddenly throws an arm out in front of Riki. “Wait. Look over there.”

Riki follows his gaze to a spire of rock in the middle of the plateau, and after a moment he registers a Pokémon levitating just above the tip of the spire. It’s vaguely human-shaped, with a short blue body and a white head shaped like the bulb of an onion aside from two large swirly ears. It also has a white segment connecting its torso with its legs. It’s hovering cross-legged with its arms out to either side. This is a Meditite, a somewhat common mountain Pokémon in the Hoenn and Sinnoh regions.

Riki glances at Kyousuke. “Are you going to scare it away?”

Kyousuke shakes his head. “No. It’s on its own, and this is a reasonably open area. Rin! Capture this Meditite!”

“What? Do it yourself!” Rin bristles.

“No. You need experience fighting wild Pokémon, and this is a safe opportunity to practice.”

“What about Riki, why aren’t you making him do it?”

“I will, but you’ve been in a trainer battle already. It’s on you to show him how it’s done.” Brooking no argument, Kyousuke gives his sister a light shove forward, pushing her towards the Pokémon. Its eyes snap open, and a moment later Lennon is standing in front of Rin, hissing at the Meditite. “Now, Mission Start!”

The Meditite leaps from its perch at the apparent challenge. Its eyes flash, and Lennon rolls on the ground, smacking into rocks as the mental attack disorients it.

“Lennon, use Ember!” Rin’s Pokémon shakes off the attack and spits weak flames at its opponent. Although the Meditite dodges around most of them, a few make contact and burn its legs. It redoubles its own attack in response, pelting Lennon with what Riki recognizes as Confusion attacks.

“Kyousuke, are you sure about making her do this?” Riki glances at Kyousuke, worried.

“It’ll be fine, Riki.” Kyousuke doesn’t take his eyes off of the battle. “The two of you need to learn how to handle things yourselves. Rin!” He suddenly shouts, and Riki’s head snaps back to the battle in time to see the Meditite stagger back as Lennon scratches it. “It looks weakened, this is the time to throw a Pokéball!”

With a wordless acknowledgment, Rin snatches an empty Pokéball from her bag and winds up to throw it. Riki marvels for a moment at her total concentration as she steps forward, brings her arm around for the throw, and…

…the ball slips from her fingers, soaring in a perpendicular angle from the battle until it slams into an outcropping and falls into the rapids below. The Meditite takes advantage of the opening as Rin scrambles for another Pokéball, and torments Lennon with a barrage of attacks.

“Okay, that’s enough. Scyther, use False Swipe!” Kengo’s voice rings out as a new Pokéball soars into the midst of battle, opening to release a large, bipedal mantis. The newcomer has a green head, thorax, abdomen, and pair of legs connected by smaller cream body segments. It has a pair of insect wings on its back, and a pair of scythes on the ends of its arms. Lennon finally collapses as the Scyther steps up in its place and harasses the Meditite with a series of light slashes, holding back from hurting it too badly. “Rin, you have no control at all. Watch my form, and maybe you’ll learn something.” With a series of deliberate, practiced movements, Kengo pulls a Pokéball from his own bag and tosses it overhand at the Meditite’s center mass. Still disoriented from the Scyther’s attacks, the Meditite doesn’t have a chance to dodge, and it gets sucked into the ball in a flash of red light. The ball shakes once, twice, three times, and then emits a click and lays still.

Kengo walks forward to pick up the Meditite’s Pokéball before turning back to the others. “Kyousuke, this is just a thought, but just maybe, it might work better if we teach them before you throw them into the deep end?”

Kyousuke sighs. “Fine. It’s nearly noon anyways, and this looks like a good place to stop and get some training in before we eat.” He looks at Rin, who is spraying Lennon with a potion bottle. “Rin, once you’re done with that, come with me. We’re going to work on your throwing technique. Masato, Kengo, can you two help Riki start training?”

Masato and Kengo look at each other.

After a moment, identical grins appear on their faces.

——

“I get that Kyousuke… asked you to help me train,” Riki pants, “But I don’t think… this is what he meant…”

With a gasp of effort, Riki pulls himself to the top of a large slab being held up by Masato’s Machamp. He reaches down to grab Terra by the shell and hoist it up after him before staggering back to his feet and jogging along the slab. Once he reaches the end of the path, he jumps down to a lower boulder, pauses to let Terra try and hop to his head - catching the Turtwig when it falls short halfway to him - and hopscotches across a series of rocks.

“A truly great trainer must train their body as well as their Pokémon,” Kengo says, pausing each time he makes a practice swing with his bamboo sword. His newly-caught Meditite is hovering beside him, watching his swings.

“Besides! Training alongside your Pokémon brings you closer together!” Masato lifts a boulder - smaller than Biceps’ slab, but still large for a human to be holding - as he speaks, muscles bulging.

Riki finally sways and topples over, Terra collapsing beside him.

Masato surveys the two, lying in almost identical positions. “See? You look closer already!”

“No… more…”

“Endurance is important, Riki. Even aside from keeping up with fast Pokémon, you have to travel on foot a lot.” Kengo hardly misses a beat as he continues his own training. “Still, if we want you to be able to walk any further today, that’s probably enough physical training.”

Riki lets out a sigh of relief.

“It’s time to work on strategy, instead. Let Terra rest, and send out your Bonsly.”

Riki pushes himself to his feet and switches Pokémon. “Now what?”

“Meditite, let’s battle.” Meditite snaps to attention. “Riki. Try to battle my Pokémon. And be careful; I’ve taught it some moves already.”

“Sly, use Flail!” Riki shouts, and the Bonsly waddles forward to try and get in range of Kengo’s Pokémon.

“Rock Smash!” Despite Kengo giving his command second, the Meditite easily outpaces Sly’s approach, hitting it with a measured strike designed to crack defenses. It knocks the Bonsly away, and leaps back before it can retaliate. Sly tries to chase the Meditite, but no matter what it does it can’t get a hit in.
The Meditite runs in for another Rock Smash, and Kengo shouts “Stop! Match call! Riki, do you understand what went wrong?”

“Um…” Riki ponders for a moment. “…You had more experience than I did?”

“Not exactly.” Kengo shakes his head. “The trainer’s experience is important, but aside from my teaching Meditite a physical attack, this was a battle against a freshly-caught Pokémon. Riki, what are your Pokémon good at?”

“Well, they’re both good at taking hits, right?”

“That’s right. They’re both strong defenders, and solid attackers as well. However, as this battle showed, that doesn’t mean anything if you can’t land a hit. As your Pokémon’s trainer, it’s your job to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and to come up with a plan to work around those weaknesses when they arise.” Kengo pats a nearby outcropping. “That can mean finding ways to turn your opponent’s strengths against them, ways to turn your weaknesses into strengths, or ways to use the battlefield to your advantage.”

“I see…” Riki considers the match. “…So… what should I have done in that battle?”

“Oh, you were doomed from the start.” Masato puts down the rock he was lifting to rejoin the conversation.

Kengo glances away. “…Well… Okay, yes, your Bonsly’s skillset will need to grow before you can really plan around him. But the demonstration stands!”

“In the end, some things just can’t stand against overwhelming force!”

“Oh? Shall we show Riki whether that’s really true, then?” Kengo pulls his Scyther’s Pokéball from his belt and spins it on one finger. “Two Pokémon each, first elimination?”

“Bring it on! Riki, just watch and learn!” Masato grabs Beenikku’s ball, and another battle begins.

--------------

Updated Teams:

Kengo Miyazawa:
Spoiler:
"Scyther" - Male - Scyther
"Meditite" - Male - Meditite
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
And after a week's break, I'm back with a new chapter! I decided to take the week off to regain momentum and set up a chapter-long buffer, so that my poor beta won't be quite so rushed in the future.
Enjoy!

---

Chapter 4: Trouble Clef



“…And that’s how we ran out of Pokéballs.” Kyousuke’s face is buried in his hands as he recounts Rin’s training. “Rin, you really are a legendary no-con.”

“Shut up! I don’t want a title like that!” Rin hisses at him over her bread.

After Masato and Kengo’s battle and Rin’s throwing practice wrapped up, the Little Busters have decided to pause for lunch before heading into Mt. Coronet. Although the tunnels leading from one side of the mountain to the other are reasonably well-traversed, it’s still always best to be prepared before heading in. Terra and Sly are sleeping beside Riki on a boulder, while Lennon is curled up in Rin’s lap nibbling on a berry.

“If you want to talk about no control, look at these idiots!” She glares at Kengo, who looks away.

“I tried to stop them when they went past the first knockout, honest…” Riki sighs. As usual for Masato and Kengo, ‘first elimination’ had morphed into an all-out battle until both of their teams had been totally wiped out.

Masato finally snaps under the pressure. “Look, I get it, okay? I got carried away! I’m sorry!”

“Well, I guess it’s alright,” Kyousuke says. “We won’t be able to count on Masato and Kengo in the mountain, but that just means Riki and Rin get to take point!”

“W-w-what?” Riki waves his hands in front of him, trying to get Kyousuke to slow down a moment. “What do you mean, we’ll take point? There’s no way Rin and I are ready!”

Kyousuke shakes his head. “I can step in if any of the wild Pokémon are too strong for you to handle, but the two of you won’t get stronger if I do everything for you.”

Unsure of how to reply to that, Riki just focuses on eating his bread. He’s not sure where all of this talk about strength keeps coming from. He doesn’t care about getting stronger; he just wants to stay with his friends.

“Hey, Kyousuke!” Masato pipes up. “Didn’t you pack any cutlets?”

“What sort of trip do you think this is?” Kyousuke gestures at his backpack. “Does this bag look like it could hold a cooler to you?”

“Come on! How are we supposed to build any muscle without protein?” Masato gestures at Riki. “His training’s gonna be meaningless without giving his body the right building blocks!”

“I’ve got jerky, Masato. That’s the best you’re going to get.” Kyousuke pulls a sealed bag out of his backpack and tosses it to Masato, who catches it with a resigned sigh.

He’s about to pull out a piece of jerky when Kengo snatches his wrist. “Weren’t you talking about how Riki needs protein?”

“Ugh…” Masato stops for a minute, seemingly at war with himself, before finally giving up and thrusting the bag at Riki with both hands. “Fine! Riki, take my hard-earned jerky before I change my mind!”

Riki waves his hands in a placating gesture. “Why don’t we just split it evenly between the five of us?”

Masato gasps. “Of course! Riki, you’re a genius!”

“No,” Rin says, “you’re just an idiot.”

“Riki, you’ll defend me, won’t you?” Masato looks at Riki hopefully, but Riki’s face contorts sheepishly as he tries to think of any way to contradict the accusation. The pause stretches on to a minute before Masato buries his face in his hands and groans. “Noooo! Not even Riki’s on my sideeee!”

Kengo bonks him lightly on the head with his wooden sword. “If you don’t want to be called an idiot, you should try not being one.”

Kyousuke’s voice is neutral as he speaks up from behind his own lunch. “Oh? Riki, could you remind me whose idea started that Pokémon battle, again?”

“Gkh—” Kengo chokes on his tongue, and after failing to come up with a retort, hangs his head in shame.

“I do believe that makes me the winner here,” Kyousuke chuckles. He reaches over to snag the jerky from Masato.

Rin snatches it out from under his nose. “Says the one who watched that show and then spent a month trying to get Masuda to hit ground types with Thunderbolt.”

“You promised you wouldn’t tell!”

“Give that back! I need protein to live! Proteeeiiiiin!” Masato dives at the jerky, earning a startled high-kick for his troubles as Rin scrambles away. Riki looks on as his friends scuffle, a fond smile on his face.

“Riki, back me up! I’ll give you half of my jerky if we win!” Masato’s hand reaches out to grab Riki and pull him into the fray.

“Woah!” Riki staggers into Kyousuke with a startled cry, and then it’s every man for himself.

——

Once the group has finished recovering, Kyousuke stands up. “Alright then, team. We’re not far from the cave entrance now, so we should make sure we’re prepared for the wild Pokémon inside Mt. Coronet. Rin!” He points to his sister suddenly, startling her. “What do you think we should do to get through safely?”

“Hm…” She thinks for a moment. “You go in front of us to take care of the Pokémon there, Masato guards from the right, Kengo takes care of the left, and you go behind us to take care of the Pokémon there.”

“Amazing!” Kyousuke responds with a shocked expression. “Have I always had these incredible powers of duplication? And when did Masato and Kengo’s Pokémon get healed?”

“I’m sure she meant something deeply meaningful by it…” Riki chuckles sheepishly.

Rin just hisses in response.

“Anyways, that won’t work. Riki, keeping in mind there’s only one of me and that Masato and Kengo are out of usable Pokémon, what do you think?”

“Well… I guess, I could go in front to defend against any land-based Pokémon, while Rin and Lennon keep an eye out for Zubat? I think Ember is the only attack either of us has that would be able to hit a Pokémon in the air.”

Kyousuke nods. “That sounds good to me. I’ll follow behind, and take over if any evolved Pokémon show up.”

Riki looks around, making sure that everybody is ready with backpacks secured and trash packed away. “Then… I guess it’s time for us to move? I’ll keep Terra in front for now, so… Sly, return!” After withdrawing his Bonsly, he turns to Kyousuke for confirmation.

Kyousuke nods. “That’s right. The entrance should be just a short ways further west. We should be able to reach Oreburgh by nightfall.”

He’s not wrong about the cave entrance; once the group is moving again, it takes them under an hour to reach and cross one more bridge from their island to the other side of the river. Riki boggles for a moment at the water far below them, reflecting the misty grey of the sky, and then they’re across the bridge and facing a steep mountainside. In front of them, a jagged entrance has been carved into the rock, leading into the mountain.

“Is everybody ready?” Kyousuke meets Riki’s eyes for a moment, waiting for his small nod before moving on to glance at each of the others in turn. “Once we’re inside the cave, we won’t be able to rest until we’ve reached the other side.”

Masato and Kengo give their assent, and then everybody turns to Rin. She shrinks back, but after a moment she gives a hesitant nod.

“Very well, then! Mission Start!” At Kyousuke’s shout, Riki gathers his courage and steps into the tunnel.

The caves inside Mt. Coronet are brighter than one would expect. Light filters in through the cave entrances and from openings higher in the mountain wall, casting the interior in a dusky half-light. Calm pools of water reflect this faint twinkling from where they lie scattered through the interior. Zubat and Golbat flutter overhead as Riki leads the way into the mountain, and some drop closer to examine the new arrivals. Occasionally a Zubat decides that the group must be prey and swoops in to attack them, but each time one does, Lennon scares it off with a few Embers.

Partway through the cave, the group finds their path blocked by an array of fallen boulders. Riki tries to see if they could slip between them, but between the rocks in front of them and a long pool of water limiting them to a narrow path, there’s no way forward.

Riki turns to Kyousuke beseechingly. “Could you have your Pokémon use Rock Smash?”

“Hm.” Kyousuke examines the blocked path. “I could.”

“That’s great! Okay, let’s go!” Riki turns to move forward, then stops when he realizes Kyousuke isn’t following. “…Kyousuke?”

“Yes?”

“Could you please have your Pokémon use Rock Smash.”

“Yes, I could.”

They stand there for a minute, Kyousuke making no signs of movement.

Finally, Riki speaks up again. “…Will you have your Pokémon clear the way?”

“No,” Kyousuke says, “I don’t think I will.”

“Kyousuke…” Riki glares at him balefully.

“There’s a detour through the middle of the cave. We can take that. It’ll be good experience!”

“Kyousuke, this is the main travel path through Mt. Coronet! As the Champion, shouldn’t you clear the way?”

Kyousuke thinks for a moment. “Hm. That’s probably true. I’ll have to come back and open the path once we’re through.”

Riki gives up. “Ugh… Alright, which way is the detour…?”

At that, Rin shouts incredulously. “You’re going along with him?”

“What else can we do when he’s made up his mind like this?” Riki sighs, and turns around to follow the detour Kyousuke points out. The group skirts around the nearest pool, making their way north until the water at their side gives way to more land, and turns west to find the ramping body of rock that dominates the center of the cave. Long ago, somebody carved stairs into the formation, creating an alternate path for trainers who need it. Several Geodude are sleeping on the stairway, and they wake up when Riki and Terra draw near.

The Turtwig fights them off, but its tackles take a while to weaken them through their tough, rocky skin. At the end of the battle, Terra is a little unsteady on its feet, so Riki sprays it down with some potion and then withdraws it to let Sly take the lead.

The group climbs up the rough stairs to the top of the rock formation, where a flat path has been carved through the jutting rock. Right in the middle of the path, however, is a small pile of sleeping pink Pokémon. They’re round, with stubby limbs and pointed, brown-tipped ears. Riki can make out a sworl of fur on the forehead of one that’s facing him, and a large curled tail beneath two tiny wings on the back of another.

“What do we do? I didn’t see another detour we could take,” Riki whispers.

“They’re just Clefairy, but… I’d feel bad waking them up just for your training. We should be able to sneak past them,” Kyousuke replies.

“Mm. So… we just need to be quiet and work our way around the edge of the path?” Rin’s voice is also hushed.
“Yeah. Just be careful, and we’ll get by.”


“What are you guys whispering about?” Masato pipes up from the back of the group, his voice raised to cross the distance.

Riki shushes him, gesturing wildly at the sleeping Clefairy, and for a moment the whole group holds their breath, waiting to see if they’ll wake up. After a moment, they let out a sigh of relief as one as the Clefairy don’t seem to have woken up.

Rin whirls on Masato. “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, YOU IDIOT?” Her shout echoes all over the cave for a moment before she catches on and covers her own mouth in shock.

“Oh, no…” Riki slowly turns from where his gaze had followed Rin. The Clefairy, now roused, don’t seem to be pleased at their intrustion. Riki’s eyes move higher as one in particular rises from the middle of the pile, reaching a full height of just over four feet. This Pokémon’s body is larger and more oblong than the Clefairy, and pointed, pink fairy wings flutter out from its back. This is a Clefable, the evolved form of Clefairy.

“Oh, I’m an idiot, am I? Which one of us actually woke them up?” Masato’s voice drips with vindication as he needles Rin.

“I— Shut up! It’s still your fault!”

“Guys, they’re coming at us!” Riki’s voice wavers as he takes a step back from the Clefable. “Maybe you could argue later?”

“R, right! Lennon, Scratch to the right!” Rin finally comes to Riki’s support and her Litten jumps into the fray, raking its claws across the nearest approaching Clefairy.

“Sly! Use Flail on the one on the left!” The Bonsly, already closer to the wild Pokémon, begins to thrash about and rams into any Clefairy that try to get past it.

Still, the Clefable advances angrily. It’s strong enough to hardly notice when Sly’s flailing knocks into its leg, just lightly kicking out to send the Rock-Type tumbling away. The first thing to make it pause is a flash of sound and red light as a Pokéball lands in front of it and bursts open.

“Go, Chaplin!” Kyousuke’s voice rings out over the sound of battle, and the light resolves into a thin section of tree trunk, standing on two legs. Oblong yellow splotches track up its torso to where a branchlike arm sticks out on each side, each tipped with three green spheres. Further up, at the top of the body, are two beady eyes and a wide mouth stretched into a dopey grin. Above the face, one last small branch sticks straight up from the top of the Pokémon’s body, splitting into what look like two cut-off twigs. This is a Sudowoodo, the second stage of Bonsly.

“Use Head Smash!” Kyousuke shouts a command, and with an excited wiggle, Chaplin lowers its head and rams into the Clefable at full force. Even though the impact looks like it should snap off the twigs on top, instead of bending they stay perfectly rigid. Like Bonsly, Sudowoodo aren’t real trees - just Rock-types mimicking them. The Clefable reels away from the impact, dazed.

Riki’s attention snaps back to his own part of the battle. Sly, too, seems to have stopped its assault for a moment to watch its evolved form. A Clefairy takes advantage of its distraction to assail it with a barrage of slaps, but Sly’s rocky skin renders the attack largely ineffective. At a shouted command from Riki, the Bonsly returns the favor, smacking its rocky head down at the Clefairy’s skull. The Clefairy topples backwards and another takes its place. Sly is beginning to be overwhelmed, and Riki can see that Rin isn’t doing much better on the other side of Kyousuke. She’s withdrawn Lennon and has her Chingling squeezing an opponent with its tendrils instead, but more Clefairy are piling past their companion to attack Santa.

“Ah crap CHAPLIN GET BACK!” Kyousuke’s shout draws Riki’s attention to him, and Riki sees Chaplin leap backwards from the Clefable now hovering a short ways above it. The Clefable’s wings push back and it smashes into the ground with a devastating punch, clipping the retreating Chaplin and sending it tumbling head-over-heels. Kyousuke’s Pokémon is stronger than the wild Clefable, but a super-effective move as powerful as Meteor Mash still has to hurt.

Meteor Mash… wait, that’s it! At his sudden thought, Riki shouts a new command to his Bonsly. “Use Copycat!” Sly goes still for a moment, some mysterious instinct freezing the Clefable’s attack in its memory. The Clefairy swarming it seem to sense something, but they back off too late to avoid the hammer-blow from the Bonsly’s head as it imitates the Meteor Mash. Several Clefairy skid away, too weak to fight, and a boulder that happened to be too close splits apart. One fragment of stone bounces into the air like a pop fly, and Riki watches it as it stalls for a moment at the peak of its flight. Sly is standing straighter after the last attack, power surging through it, so maybe it’s ready for… “Sly! Rock Throw!” The chunk of boulder comes down, directly above Sly, and at the last minute the Bonsly swings its head into the rock, sending it flying with a *crack.* The projectile slams into one of the Clefairy attacking Santa, and Rin shoots Riki a thankful nod.

At that moment, Kyousuke’s Sudowoodo stomps the ground, and several chunks of rock fall from the ceiling directly at the wild Clefable. Although it attempts to hover out of the way, the attack is too wide, and it has no choice but to be entombed in a prison of stone. “Well done, Chaplin!” Kyousuke bends down to rub the Pokémon’s rocky head, indicating that he’s helped enough.

Deciding to let Sly rest, Riki throws Terra’s Pokéball past Kyousuke so the Turtwig can help Rin clean up the last of her opponents. A couple minutes later, all of the Clefairy have given up their assault, and the friends resume walking before the Clefable can break out.

They make it to the end of the raised path, and after climbing back to the ground level they sit down next to a pool of water to catch their breath.

Riki pulls out his water bottle and takes a drink, the cool water refreshing his parched throat. He swallows and says, “So how did we do?”

“Not bad,” Kyousuke replies. “The two of you were able to handle yourselves, aside from the one that was far outside your level.”

Kengo nods. “Things like that use of Copycat were just what I meant about recognizing how to use your Pokémon’s strengths. And Rin, acting to restrain and block your opponents was also a good idea - if you’d had one more person who could support you, or if you were comfortable commanding two Pokémon at once in a double battle, you could have taken advantage of the openings you created.”

“Also, don’t I deserve an apology? After all, you were the one who woke them up,” Masato says.

“S-shut up!” Rin glares at him. “I wouldn’t have shouted at you if you hadn’t been loud, it’s still your fault!”
“Come on, Rin! Just one ‘I’m sorry’ can’t be so hard, can it?” Masato grins, approaching Rin as he teases her. “It’s not like I’m asking you to go around saying you think my training routine is the coolest—”


“Like hell!” Rin freezes for a moment, and then bolts away.
“Wah - Rin, come back! Don’t leave the group!” Riki stumbles to his feet and chases after her, trying to keep her in his sights. He follows her down a straight path through the cave, and their surroundings grow gradually brighter. Riki barely has time to register that they’re nearing the exit before Rin skids out of control in front of him. A moment later he also steps on several hard, round somethings, and loses his own footing. For a moment he glimpses something purple jumping out of the way, and then he crashes into Rin and the two tumble to the ground.

“Oww…” Riki extricates himself from the tangle of limbs and rubs his head. After a moment, he feels at the ground beneath him and picks up a small glass bead. “A marble…?” Confused, he looks up and meets a pair of blue eyes.

Their owner cocks her head before speaking in a jovial tone. “Wow, you two surprised me! Why were you running like that in a dark cave? That’s dangerous, you know!” She’s a girl in a white shirt and checkered skirt, as well as a pair of striped knee socks. Her magenta hair is tied into a side-ponytail with four round, pink hair ornaments.

“What I’d like to know is how these marbles got here. We could have gotten seriously hurt!” Riki’s head is still sore, and he glances around him in search of a possible explanation. The only person around seems to be the girl.

“…You shouldn’t run in caves,” she repeats, her tone not changing in the slightest.

“…Did you put these marbles here?”

“…Running in caves is dangerous!”

“More dangerous than spilling marbles everywhere?”

“…Well, who did what isn’t important!” The girl waves a hand dismissively.

“Wh- the culprit doesn’t get to decide that!” Riki climbs to his feet, careful not to rest his weight on any of the hazards. Looking down, Rin seems unharmed, although she’s still dazed from the crash. “Come on, you should clean these up!” He turns away from the girl and starts gathering up marbles.

The girl doesn’t budge. “Where are you going?”

Riki glances back, confused.

“Our eyes met. You can’t do anything until we’ve had a Pokémon battle!” She grins, gesturing from her eyes to his with her left hand.

“Seriously? Nobody actually follows that rule,” Riki chokes out through mounting exasperation.

“Actually, you should do it.” Suddenly, Kyousuke speaks from behind him.

“Gah!” Riki jumps, slipping on a marble again and falling on his rear. “Kyousuke, how the heck did you catch up so fast?”

“I’m nimble. What matters is, this is a perfect opportunity to get some more practice in! Hey,” he calls to the girl, “How many badges do you have?”

“I’m the proud owner of one badge!” She looks extraordinarily proud of herself for someone who just caused a high-speed pileup.

“One badge versus no badges, that should be within an acceptable range of strength. Riki, your mission is to battle her!”

“Ugh…” Riki glares at the girl halfheartedly. “Fine. But if I win, you’re not going to get out of cleaning this up!”

She just shoots him a smug look in return. She holds out a Pokéball in her left hand and presses a button in the center, causing it to shoot out a beam of red light. The beam ends in a pool of water opposite the cave entrance, and expands into the shape of a small jellyfish, with a bulbous top and a flared bottom. When the light clears, it reveals a light blue body with a beak and two beady eyes just sticking out of the water line. Higher up, the bulb is decorated with three clear red domes. A small one faces front in the middle of what one might call the Pokémon’s ‘forehead,’ while the other two are larger and set near the top on either side of the Pokémon. The Tentacool looks around for a moment before the girl shouts “Soap, I choose you,” and it snaps to attention.

“Go, Terra!” Riki throws a Pokéball, and his Turtwig pops out just by the water’s edge. He doesn’t give a command yet, glancing at the girl instead. “…If we’re going to battle, we should at least know each other’s names. I’m—”
“Riki, right. I heard the other boy.” The girl smirks. “My name’s Haruka! And — Poison Sting! — You’ve left yourself open!”

---

Updated Pokémon Teams:

Kyousuke Natsume:
Spoiler:
“Maeda” – Male – Infernape

“Louis” – Male – Nidoking

“Irwin” – Male – Garchomp

"Masuda" - Male - Raichu

"Chaplin" - Male - Sudowoodo

??? - ??? - ???


Haruka Saigusa:
Spoiler:
??? - ??? - ???

"Soap" - Female - Tentacool

??? - ??? - ???
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Chapter 5: Mischief of a Noisy Girl



“My name’s Haruka! And - Poison Sting! - You’ve left yourself open!” Haruka smirks at Riki, and he whirls around to see her Tentacool whip a thick grey tentacle out of the water. It lashes out at Terra, and the Turtwig recoils from its stinging venom.

“Ah— Terra! Use Tackle!” Although Terra tries to retaliate, Haruka’s Tentacool hastily drifts backwards to the middle of its pool. Terra skids to a stop before it can plunge into the water. No matter what angle it tries to approach from, it can’t get in range of Soap – ‘Soap’, I can’t believe I thought Kyousuke’s names were unoriginal - because of the size of the pool. Soap, on the other hand, gleefully slips closer whenever it can find an opening for another Poison Sting, before swimming back to the middle any time Terra seems about to retaliate.

Riki orders his Pokémon to Withdraw the next time Soap comes around for an attack, and this time the Tentacool’s tentacles slip ineffectually off of Terra’s shell as it hunkers down. Trying to ignore Haruka’s gleeful cheering, Riki thinks the situation over. Terra can’t reach the Tentacool to attack it, and although its shell can deflect many of Soap’s attacks, some are still getting through. Staying on the defensive without any way to retaliate is a clear shot to being whittled down, and while Sly can attack at range with Rock Throw, it would be at a disadvantage against a Water—wait. Riki flips open his Pokédex and points its camera at the Tentacool, bringing up the species’ profile after a moment. He scrolls through the abilities typically displayed by Tentacool, and decides to take a risk. Most members of its species don’t start using Water-type attacks until they’re fairly strong already, so…

“Terra, return! Go, Sly!” His Pokéball shoots a beam of light to recall the Turtwig, and Riki returns it to his belt, fumbling for a moment as he switches it for Sly’s ball. He sends the Bonsly out with a solid overhand throw, but Haruka takes advantage of the momentary opening.

“Use Toxic Spikes!” At her order, Soap spits out a multitude of spiky caltrops accompanied by a glob of venom. They scatter across the battlefield where they land, and Riki’s Bonsly gives a plaintive cry when its Pokéball opens and disgorges it on top of several spikes, puncturing its feet and delivering venom directly into its system. Riki can’t help but groan as he realizes they’re another hazard that’ll need to be cleaned up.

“Sly, use Rock Throw!” Sly turns to Soap with a growl, and starts batting scattered chunks of rock at it. Although many of them miss their target, the cave floor holds ammunition to spare, and soon more and more are striking true.

“Pretty bold of you to use a Rock Type against Water, Riki!” Haruka flourishes dramatically, pointing her left hand at Sly. “Do you really think your Bonsly can stand up to a Bubblebeam?” Riki’s heart skips a beat, but the Tentacool just glares balefully at its trainer. “…Is what I’d say, if Soap had learned it yet! Go, Thumbtack!” A shaky beam of light recalls Soap to a Pokéball clutched in her right hand, and a moment later she tosses a new ball into the middle of the fray. The Pokémon that emerges appears to be a grey cloth puppet suspended in the air by some invisible force. It has an ovular head with a thin mouth and wide, angry eyes. On top of it is a horn longer than the head is tall, and beneath the head the cloth pools out and wavers mysteriously in the air. This is the Ghost-type Pokémon Shuppet. It looks around and immediately gets beaned in the face by a thrown rock.

“Attacking before I’m ready isn’t very nice,” Haruka complains.

“You’ve done it multiple times already!” A vein bulges in Riki’s forehead.

“Oh, well, can’t be helped, can’t be helped~” Haruka’s sing-song voice rings out as she circles the battlefield to a new vantage point. “Use Curse - whoops!” There’s a muffled thud as she bumps into something.

“Oh? What’s going on here?” That something turns out to be Kengo as he and Masato finally catch up to the others. He watches curiously as the Shuppet punctures itself with spectral needles, sacrificing its own vitality to begin sapping Sly’s health. Between its poisoned status and the Curse, Riki’s Bonsly is starting to flag. Still, it’s not ready to go down yet, and it keeps pelting Thumbtack with rocks. Haruka shouts a command of her own and the Shuppet’s eyes begin to glow purple, causing Sly to shiver under the Night Shade attack.

Still, Sly’s assault together with Thumbtack’s own sacrifice prove too much for the Shuppet, and after another direct hit with a rock, it finally gives up the ghost. Haruka returns her dazed Pokémon to its ball before it can hit the ground. Her easygoing expression falters for a moment.

“Tch… fine! Soap, you can still finish this!” With a strong overhand throw, the Tentacool appears in its pool once more. “Poison Sting!” Soap tries to stun Sly with its tentacles. The Bonsly brushes off the stinging toxins and hits it with a rock dead-on, causing Soap to recoil backwards. The Tentacool is on the ropes… But it’s at that moment that the poison and the Curse on Sly finally finish their jobs. The Bonsly wobbles and drops to the ground, pretending to be a harmless potted plant in one last attempt to deceive its attacker.

“Sly, you did well! G-go, Terra!” Riki stumbles over his words as he switches back to his remaining Pokémon. Even as he swaps his Turtwig back into the battle, he knows that he’s lost - and that Haruka knows it as well. Thanks to the poisonous spikes covering the battlefield and the width of Soap’s pool, all Haruka has to do is have her Tentacool hold back while its poison whittles Terra down. Although Riki shouts at his Turtwig to Withdraw and protect itself against attacks, he’s only delaying the inevitable.

“W, well, that got a little close there, but it looks like that’s going to be another win for the amazing Haruka!” The girl in question wipes sweat from her brow as she speaks, panting a little and trying to catch her breath. Her Pokémon floats just outside the edges of Terra’s range, occasionally slipping closer to probe the Turtwig’s defenses. Terra growls and snaps at its tentacles each time, seemingly frustrated that it can’t retaliate.

Riki doesn’t respond, focused on the battle as Terra takes more and more hits. He can’t see any way out of this situation, but at least he can see it through to the end. “I’m sorry, Terra… You tried really hard…” He hangs his head. The Turtwig, however, growls in frustration and stands tall. With what looks like immense effort, the leaf on its head begins to glow, causing wispy motes of green to pull themselves out of Soap and flock to its leaf. The red welts down Terra’s sides heal a little and it glances back at Riki defiantly, as though to ask him if he still wants to give up.

“Eh? She’s learned Absorb?” Haruka stares at the Turtwig. “Um - doesn’t matter! She still can’t hold out for long against Soap’s poison!”

Riki is stunned for a moment, himself, and it’s only after the Tentacool goes for another Poison Sting that he snaps out of it. “Terra! Use Absorb again!” With each attack, Terra heals a little - but the special attack is still clearly draining it. Still, Sly’s rocks wore Soap down badly enough that it’s just a matter of which exhausted Pokémon falls first.

“Poison Sting!”

“Absorb!”

“Poison Sting!”

“Absorb!”

“Poison—” With a burbling cry, Soap floats lower in the water, too tired to respond. Haruka returns it and grimaces, reaching for a Pokéball set on the back of her belt… And then her hand drops. “…W…well, I guess that’s it, huh? You win, yahaha…” She chuckles weakly.

Riki blinks. It’s hard to believe he actually won — and whoops, there goes Terra. The Turtwig stumbles as the poison keeps up its work, and Riki hastily returns it to its Pokéball.

“And where do you think you’re going?” Riki looks back up to see Kengo clamp his hand over Haruka’s shoulder, as the latter appears to have inched several feet down the path through Mt. Coronet while he wasn’t looking. “Riki, what were the terms of the battle?”

“Huh? Umm…” Riki pauses for a moment as his brain catches up, and then he registers what Kengo was asking. “Wait, that’s right! You have to help us clean this place up!”

“Eh?” Haruka sweats. “I, oh look! It’s a UFO!” She points at the cave ceiling past Riki. He doesn’t look. “…L-look, isn’t that Mew behind you?” There’s a quiet creaking sound as rock settles somewhere on the mountain. “…o…oh my… don’t look now… but there’s a… a…” She trails off. “…Aw, I hate cleaning…”

——

Five friends (and one detainee) crouch around a cave entrance, sweeping spikes and marbles into neat piles out of the way of the main path.

“Trainer’s log… Day… I’ve forgotten how many…” Haruka mutters to herself in a dead voice, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I’ve lost all will to escape. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I last ate. I think… I think this is the end…”

“It’s been an hour at the longest. Stop complaining.” Kengo glares at her from his post on the other side of what had been her and Riki’s battlefield.

“Why did we have to get dragged into this, anyways?” Masato whines as he hops in place, trying to yank a spike out of his shoe.

Kyousuke sighs. “Well, you know Riki, he’s always concerned about things. It’s not like we could move on without him.”

“Isn’t it your job to be worried about this?” Riki shoots back. If this is how Kyousuke always treats his Champion duties, no wonder he’s concerned about job-hunting…

“My first priority will always be to take care of you guys, Riki.”

Riki fumbles a handful of marbles, and hides his face rushing to pick them back up.

Haruka chuckles. “You’re all really good friends, huh?”

“Of course! That’s what the Little Busters are about,” Riki says with a smile.

She seems about to respond when Kyousuke speaks up. “Oh, by the way. Are you almost done over there, miss…” He pauses, “…Saigusa, was it?”

Haruka freezes.

“Sorry, was that not your last name?” Kyousuke continues casually.

Haruka responds after a moment, voice chilly. “That’s not really your business, is it?”

“Um… Kyousuke? I don’t think Haruka told us anything about her last…?” Riki looks back and forth between the two, uncertain.

“Ah well, I guess it’s not important. Just trying to learn more about the people we meet, you know.” Kyousuke turns back to his cleaning.

“Well, then, if it’s so important for your dossier, you’ll want to know I prefer my first name. I’ve cleaned up this end - that is what you asked for, right?” Haruka pushes herself to her feet. “Oh, and… Riki?”

“Hm? Ow!” Riki rubs his forehead, and the marble that just hit it falls into his lap.

“Keep it. As thanks, since you’re disposing of the spikes for me!” Haruka breaks into a run.

“Huh? Wait, hold on. I don’t know how to get rid of these! Come back here!”

“Bye-bye, Riki!” Haruka gives a jaunty wave and disappears around a corner.

HARUKAAAAA!

——

Riki finally steps out into the open air, laden with a bag of poisonous caltrops, and is met with a chilly breeze. Most of the afternoon has passed, and gray clouds hang heavily over Route 207. Like Route 208, very little plant life grows in the rugged terrain cradled by the mountain. Route 207 is more level than its eastern cousin, however. The road west is mainly a straight shot, carved directly out of the mountain’s rock. There’s a more mountainous stretch south of the main road, but the group ignores it. At this point, they just want to get to Oreburgh.

“You’re being awfully quiet, Rin. Is your leg alright?” Kengo’s concerned voice cuts through the tired atmosphere. Rin is walking a little behind the group, with a slight limp. She’d hurt her ankle when she and Riki fell earlier; Riki shrinks a little at the reminder that he’d been too distracted by the battle to notice until afterwards.

Rin shakes her head with a quiet jingle. “No, I’m okay. That girl was just…” She looks away, dazed. “She was noisy.”

She really does seem out of it; even when Kyousuke pats her head, her retaliation is half-hearted. Still, they’re all tired out. Hopefully, having a good sleep in Oreburgh will put her right.

After another half hour of walking, Riki notices something odd in their surroundings. “Hey, Kyousuke?”

“Hm?”

“Do you know what those are?” Riki points at a small pipe sticking out of the side of the road at an angle. Gaps in the metal open into what looks like a hollow center leading down. Little flecks of blue paint are scattered across the exterior, evidently remains from a once-careful paint job, but now the metal just looks rusty and poorly-maintained.

“Ah…” Kyousuke scratches his head. “That’s part of a ventilation system for the Oreburgh Mines. Apparently, there was a program a couple decades ago to expand the mines out further under Sinnoh. They laid down these pipes across the eastern side of Mt. Coronet, to provide them with fresh air, but in the end the project fell through.”

“Oreburgh fell on hard times after that,” Masato adds. “The mines are getting more and more obsolete, so they stopped maintaining the outer regions. At this point, the accessible areas are mostly just a training ground for people who want to fight wild Pokémon.”

“Huh. I didn’t expect you to know that much about something other than muscles,” Riki says.

“Yeah, well, you pick it up.” Masato turns to Kyousuke. “We only have to stay here for one night, yeah?”

Kyousuke nods. “Don’t worry. We’ll be back on the road first thing tomorrow.”

“Good,” Masato grunts, and picks up the pace.

Riki lowers his voice. “Is it just me, or is Masato acting unusual?”

Surprisingly, it’s Rin who replies. “I don’t think he liked it here much.”

“Wait.” Riki turns to her. “You mean Oreburgh is his hometown?”

“Mhm.” Rin’s bell rings gently with her nod. “Kyousuke and I were on a trip when we first met him.”

“Huh…”

Soon, the rock and dirt turn to scraggly grass, and the road forks. Trees dot the way north, leading to the elevated Cycling Road and eventually Eterna City. However, the Little Busters turn south towards Oreburgh instead. The terrain gets rockier again as they walk, until suddenly Kyousuke stops and Riki bumps into him.

“Ah - sorry, Kyousuke!” Riki rubs his forehead, where repeated trauma is beginning to grow a bump.

“It’s okay, Riki. Look.” Kyousuke points in front of him, and Riki follows his gaze to where the road turns into a short,
messy cliff. A mud slide has blocked off the usual path down to the city. “Do you think you can climb down that safely?”

“Um… I think it should be okay, if we’re careful.” Riki glances around the group. “What about Rin’s leg, though? It’s probably not a good idea for her to try and climb on that.”

“As long as it’s just her, it should be fine. Go, Louis!” Kyousuke sends out his Nidoking, which stretches in the open air. “Rin, you can hold on while he uses Rock Climb to get down. Does that sound good?”

“I guess that’s fine.” Rin climbs onto Louis’ back, and the Nidoking carries her down the cliff while Riki and the others look for a reasonable descent. Kengo finds a jagged chunk of cliff face with several footholds sticking out, and calls them to follow him while he lowers himself carefully down. A few minutes later, they’re all on solid ground again, and Kyousuke withdraws Louis. After leaving the small patch of grass they touched down in, the group only needs to walk south for a couple minutes before they’re within city limits.

Oreburgh is an industrial city, grown off the back of its mining industry. Aside from a few potted shrubs outside houses here and there, there’s almost no greenery; the whole town is built on dirt paths. The wind whips up eddies of coal dust, and makes Rin sneeze. Tall buildings are scattered around, and when Riki looks south he catches sight of the huge conveyor belts that hang above the entrance to the mine proper. He doesn’t linger, however; the group makes a beeline for the Pokémon Center instead. Their Pokémon are exhausted, aside from Kyousuke’s team, so Riki, Rin, Masato, and Kengo line up in front of the central counter to check them in for healing. Riki warns the nurse at the counter about his Pokémon’s poisoned status, and then after handing over their Pokéballs he follows Kyousuke up an escalator on the east side of the building. Pokémon Centers are meant to be central stops for Trainers, so they typically come with sleeping quarters for travelers on the move.

After checking into one of the openings, Riki collapses in a chair.

Kyousuke sits down next to him. “Quite a first day, huh?”

“Yeah…” Riki wipes some sweat off of his forehead. “Are all of your trips this busy?”

Kyousuke chuckles. “Don’t worry, Riki. You’ll get used to it with time.”

“Is it really that important, though? I mean… this isn’t going to be that long a trip, is it?”

Kyousuke pats him on the shoulder. “It’s important to be able to count on yourself, Riki. You had fun, right?”

Riki sighs. “I mean… Kind of, yeah. It’s always fun, running off on one of your missions. But… At the same time… Finding the path blocked, running into a family of wild Pokémon, getting randomly challenged by that girl… A lot of it was honestly just stressful.”

“…” Kyousuke doesn’t seem sure how to respond. After a moment, he gets up and turns away. “Come on, Riki. We should go get something to eat.”

As Riki follows, he can’t shake the feeling that he’s said something wrong.

--------

Updated Character Teams:

Haruka Saigusa:
Spoiler:
"Thumbtack" - Female - Shuppet
"Soap" - Female - Tentacool
??? - ??? - ???
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Alright, so. Evidently, I've been having some problems with consistency.
For the time being, I'm going to switch to aiming for updates every OTHER Monday, until I feel like I've got the hang of my writing speed again.
Sorry for the wait!
----
Chapter 6: Luxurious Lotad & Zealous Zubat



The next morning sees Rin, Riki, Masato, and Kengo making their way through Oreburgh’s western outskirts. Heavy gray skies shadow the town, and along with the lack of noise coming from the mines, they lend the atmosphere of a city deep in slumber.

When the childhood friends had gathered in the Pokémon Center’s lobby for breakfast, Kyousuke had begged off, citing the need to clear out the blockage they’d encountered under Mt. Coronet.

“You guys should go on ahead. I can catch up when I’m done, so there’s no point waiting for me.”

As such, it’s still fairly early when the four pass the last couple of buildings and ascend a small hill to reach the mountainside walling Oreburgh off from the west. Long ago, travelers looking to reach the easternmost areas of Sinnoh had to detour up Route 206 and swing around Eterna Forest and Floaroma Town to get around the mountains that cradle the mining city. However, when Jubilife City was first built, miners were called in from Oreburgh to help carve the city’s foundation out of the mountain that once sat in its place. On the way, they wound up digging a tunnel through the rock that cut them off from Route 203, creating an easy path east and connecting them to what would become one of Sinnoh’s most bustling cities. Even now, centuries later, the foot traffic through what became known as Oreburgh Gate allows the city to maintain some economic relevance despite the fall of the mines.

The cave itself is much more straightforward than Mt. Coronet. Being a human creation rather than a natural cave system, the walls and floor are relatively smooth, if a little worn out from generations of travelers passing through. What’s more, the path is fairly straight, leading right from one side of the mountain to the other without major detours.

There aren’t many Pokémon in the Gate, either; aside from the occasional confused Psyduck wandering in, the tunnel’s only inhabitants are the Geodude and Zubat that make every cave from here all the way to Hoenn their home. It’d be child’s play to get through the tunnel without any ruckus.

So, naturally, the muscle idiots decide this is the perfect opportunity for some training.

Kengo clears his throat. “It’s important to remember that wild Pokémon won’t always be polite and fight you one on one. If you disturb their nests by accident, many will be like those Clefairy yesterday and attack en masse. If you want to deal with their teamwork, you need to know how to work together, yourselves.”

“Didn’t we do that already?” Rin cocks her head. “Riki and Kyousuke and I all fought together in Mt. Coronet.”

“Sure,” Masato replies, “But in the end, each of you was just fighting half of the Clefairy on your own.”

Kengo nods. “It may as well have been three separate battles, for how little you interacted. There’s a difference between fighting together, and fighting together. If you’re comfortable working as a team with somebody, and know how to build on their moves, then you can combine your strength and handle numerically or statistically superior opponents.”

Riki hums and cups his chin. “So… Do you two fight like that, then?”

Masato barks a laugh. “Not a chance! I’m not letting Kengo see my techniques until I can use them against him!”

“Hmph. Like you have any ‘techniques’ to speak of.” Kengo scoffs. “Your idea of a special move is to just try hitting me twice as hard.”

“What!” Masato’s eyes bug out. “How did you guess my secret weapon? Nooooo! Now I have to hit you four times as hard! No, eight!”

“I didn’t think you could count that high. Be careful what you try to do with that brain, or you might break something.”

“Maybe you should stop worrying about me, and start counting your chances of winning! I’ll show you—“

“Both of you, shut UP!” Rin jumps in between the two idiots, kicking at them both and causing them to stumble. “I’m not going to fight all of the wild Pokémon because of you morons again!”

“Guh…” Kengo closes his eyes in shame at the reminder. He coughs. “…R-right. Anyways, as I was saying, you and Riki should practice fighting as a pair. You’ll be able to accomplish more if you know how to react to each other’s moves.”

“Wait…” Riki groans. “You don’t mean…”

“That’s right!” Masato grins and jabs his thumb at an innocent family of Zubat minding their own business on the ceiling not far away. They’re small, blue bat Pokémon with large purple wings and ears, wide fanged mouths, and no eyes. “Kyousuke asked us to train you, so we’re training you - and the best training is experience! Get battling!”

“I don’t want to!” Rin glares at Masato, refusing to give an inch.

“Shouldn’t we keep moving? Didn’t we have enough interruptions yesterday,” Riki sighs.

“I saw this coming, and prepared accordingly. Rin?” Kengo pulls a metal can of Pokémon food out of a pocket in his robe. “If you and Riki successfully pull off a team attack, I’ll give you this Mon Petit. It's Santa's favorite, right?”

“We’re doing it! Riki, let’s go!” Rin enthusiastically flings a Pokéball at the path in front of her, releasing Lennon. “Use Ember!” The Litten spits several small gouts of flame straight up, and the Zubat scatter. One wobbles this way and that, before it gets its bearings and screeches at Rin.

Wordlessly, Rin points her thumb at Riki. Sorry. It’s for a good cause.

Riki takes a step back, and the bat Pokémon swivels to face him. He shudders suddenly, and freezes in place as the Zubat exudes the impression of a probing stare. “Wh- come on! You don’t even have eyes!

“There’s no choice but to fight, Riki! You have to defend yourself!” Rin eggs him on.

“Yeah, Riki!” Masato echoes Rin with a muk-eating grin. “Defend yourself!”

“Shut up!” Rin doesn’t miss a beat, and commands Lennon to jump out of the way of a Zubat as it swoops in to take a bite.

“Shouldn’t I be defending against you…?” Still, Riki sends out his Turtwig and quickly has it try to tackle any Pokémon that get close enough to attack. Unfortunately, the turtle is too slow to provide much deterrent, and the bats continue to dive bomb it with impunity.

“Ember! Ember, Lennon!” Rin’s Pokémon scatters flames this way and that, making up for the Zubats’ agility by spreading its attacks too wide to fully dodge. The Pokémon attacking Lennon finally give up, flying away to lick their wounds. “Use Scratch!” Lennon pounces at one of the Zubat fluttering around Terra, and quickly the enemies have all fled.

Rin turns to Kengo with shining eyes. “There! We won, now give me the Mon Petit!”

*BZZZZZZ!* A harsh buzzing sound makes her jump a foot in the air. She whirls around, glaring this way and that, until she sees Masato holding his Pokégear with the attitude of the cat Pokémon that just caught the canary.

“That wasn’t teamwork, Rin.” Kengo sighs.

“What!” Rin waves her hands wildly. “But Riki drew their attention while I beat them! That’s teamwork!”

“Usually, your wall should be intentionally filling that role.” Kengo pockets the can of cat food, and Rin’s outstretched hand goes limp. “Try again.”



The next attempt is a round rock Pokémon with two arms called Geodude lying on the side of the path, which Terra and Lennon slowly whittle down.

“Now, Lennon! Finish it off!”

“Pokéball, go!”

Riki pitches a Pokéball at the Geodude right as Lennon dives for center mass, and it smacks the Litten in the head. By the time Rin’s done yelling at Riki, the Geodude has merrily rolled away.

*BZZZZZT!* Rin yelps and aims a roundhouse kick at Masato, only to lose her balance and fall in a heap. Kengo looks on impassively. “Try again.”



A Psyduck shudders in fear as Terra barrels towards it, only for an Ember attack to engulf both Pokémon from behind.

“A flaming tackle! Woah, did I just invent a new move? This must be the pinnacle of team attacks!”

*BZZZRRRZZZRRRZZZT!* “Eep!” Rin windmills her arms and topples over backwards. She turns and hisses at the muscle idiots, but Kengo doesn’t react.

“Try again.”



Rin and Riki face off against the Geodude from before, this time with friends. She gives Riki a slight nod, which he returns.

“Now! Santa, use Confusion!” As the bell Pokémon starts ringing, a Geodude begins to roll around wildly and smack into its companions.

“Terra, Absorb!” The tiny turtle Pokémon waddles into the din and leeches energy from the distracted rock Pokémon, giddy despite the effort of using energy attacks. Its jaw snaps back suddenly as a thrown rock interrupts its feast, and the original Geodude advances on it menacingly… But Santa sneaks up and startles the Geodude with a sneak attack, throwing it off balance and letting Terra’s tackle send it backwards into a pool of water with a splash.

Wait…

Water?

Rin glances around, noticing an array of cracked boulders, small ledges, and earthy ramps around her. In front of her is a long, wide pool of cloudy water.

Riki’s voice echoes next to her. “When did we even get down here?”

Rin shrugs, and the two stand for a moment and watch the ripples in the pool. The ripples get fainter… and then stronger…? The friends dive to either side as their opponent is spat back out of the water and ricochets off the wall behind where they were standing.

They get up and see a dark blue catfish Pokémon with a yellow mark like a ‘W’ on its forehead, long yellow whiskers, and light blue lips stretched into a wide frown peering out of the water at them. They peer back. It’s a Whiscash, and it doesn’t look very happy to be here.

Terra waddles up to it, and tries an Absorb.

…Nope, not happy at all.

AAAUGH! ” Rin and Riki scramble every which way as the Whiscash spits pulsing blasts of water at them. Terra gets knocked out in a single hit from one of its attacks, and Rin has to tackle Riki out of the way of a Water Pulse when he pauses to withdraw it. The Whiscash starts thrashing around more and more, and the ground shakes all around Rin as she pulls Riki by the hand back up the rocky stairs that led them down from the main tunnel.

The two collapse once they’re back up on the ground floor of Oreburgh Gate, and the earthquake slowly subsides.

“We,” Riki pants, “are never, doing that again.”

Rin starts to nod, before realizing something and tensing up. She glances here and there, whole body coiled like a spring, but the expected noise never comes. After a minute, she starts to relax and pushes herself to her feet.

*WEEE-OOO-WEEE-OOO-WEEE-OOO!*



”Okay, I said I was sorry! I got carried away! Now can I please have my Pokégear back,” Masato wheedles as the group wanders the tunnel. Santa clutches the apparatus in its tendrils, jingling merrily as it hops along with its new toy.

“No! I refuse!” Rin shakes her head vigorously. “Actually… Santa, break it!”

“Noooooo! Not my calls from Riki!” Masato shouts out in despair as the Chingling glances at his Pokégear quizzically and raises it above its head, ready to slam its rope down.

“Ahem.” Kengo catches Rin’s attention and waves the can of Mon Petit conspicuously.

“…”

“…”

“…Fine. Santa, give.” Rin hangs her head in defeat, and her Pokémon relaxes its grip so that Masato can snatch his Pokégear back. He cradles it lovingly.

Kengo nods in approval. “Try—“

Rin explodes. “I get it, okay?”



Scree! Scree! Several Zubat back and forth across the path in front of the group. One flies closer and… somehow… fixes Rin with an accusing glare. Several red, angry scratches decorate its wings and back.

Rin can’t help but be impressed by the hostility and determination radiating from the bat. “Woah! Even after all that, you came back for revenge? You’re amazing!” She scratches her chin, searching for a memory of learning something that’s on the tip of her tongue. Something about a banished ambassador… Ah, that’s it! She smacks a fist into her open palm, like a judge bringing down his gavel. “I’ll call you… Michizane!”

“Is this really the time, Rin?” Riki implores her, voice dripping with exasperation, but as Michizane wheels around for a divebomb, it feels like there’s a live wire humming in Rin’s veins.

“Riki, follow my lead!” Rin quickly hops out of the way of the lead Zubat’s dive, even as she calls for Santa to do the same. Before she can retaliate, the others swoop in to pester the Chingling, flying back out of the way any time it gets its footing enough to lash out with its ropes. “Ignore Michizane, we need to deal with his friends first!” Her attention flits back to Santa. “Use Confusion!”

A Zubat loses its bearings and smacks into the wall, another goes down under a thrown rock from Riki’s Bonsly, but Michizane just keeps dodging around their attacks and coming back for more. Finally, as the last of its backup goes down, the Zubat makes a mistake - it nearly smacks into its falling comrade and pauses, fluttering in place for a moment as it gets its bearings. “Riki, now!” At Rin’s signal, Riki shouts his own command and one of Sly’s thrown rocks hits Michizane right in the wing. The Zubat falls, finally catching itself a foot from the ground.

“Santa! Use Wrap!” Before Michizane can regain its altitude, Santa grabs it with its ropes and brings them down hard, slamming the Zubat against the ground. It brings the Zubat down once, twice, then finally releases it as the bat Pokémon’s thrashing becomes too much to handle. It’s at that moment that Rin chucks a Pokéball with a cry. Even dazed, Michizane executes an aileron roll to the right… But Rin’s throw was off, as usual, and the Zubat winds up dodging right into the wild ball’s path.

The Pokéball drops to the ground. It shakes once…

Twice…

…and bursts open, the top half cracking off of the hinge in the process. Michizane flutters up unsteadily, skewing first to the right, then to the left, and then it opens its mouth and a burst of high-frequency vibrations forces Rin to curl up and clamp her hands over her ears. By the time the sound stops and she straightens back up, the Zubat has fled.

Mission Failed…

As Rin’s hearing returns, she makes out the tail end of Riki mumbling “…sure that wasn’t the original mission…” Did she say that out loud? Then, a rhythmic sound of two hands slapping together.

Kengo is clapping. “You did it, you two. You worked together!”

“Huh?” Rin shakes her head to clear the fog from it.

“You know, the whole reason you were doing this?” Masato taps the side of his head. “You sure I’m the idiot here?”

“Uh…Oh! Right!” Rin finally snaps out of her daze, and greedily snatches the Mon Petit from Kengo’s hand when he offers it. Lennon’s going to love this! “Mission Complete!”

She ignores the fond shake of Riki’s head as she whirls back towards the exit, prize in hand, and triumphantly strides towardsoh whoops that’s the wall.

Ok, so maybe her head’s still spinning a little.

----

Half an hour of resting (and healing their Pokémon) later, Rin’s back in top form. The group decided to take a break while she recovered from the Supersonic, a consideration she’s silently grateful for, but now they’ve all picked themselves back up and are ready to go.

Thankfully, they’ve made enough progress during Rin’s training that it’s only a couple minutes’ walk before the exit comes into sight.

Less luckily, it’s accompanied by the rushing sound of heavy rain. It’s coming down hard enough that for a puddle to start to leak into the tunnel, rippling and splashing water every which way from the raindrops hammering on it outside.

Kengo furrows his brow. “It wasn’t supposed to start raining this early, was it?”

Riki scratches his chin. “I mean… it is already eleven, after all that ruckus. What do you think, should we wait it out?”

“Nah,” Masato replies, shaking his head. “Weather report said it was supposed to go on all day.”

“I don’t want to run all the way to Jubilife in that…” Rin gives the exitway a guarded look.

“Wait!” Riki snaps his fingers. “We packed an umbrella, I’m sure I remember that on the list!” He pulls off his backpack and rummages through it. “Come on, you guys help me look!”

After a minute searching, Rin finds it hidden in a corner of her own backpack. She pulls the umbrella out, and with a flourish it pops open to its full width.

“All right, Riki, Rin! I knew we could count on the two of you!” Masato shoots them a thumbs up.

Rin glances up at the umbrella.

She glances at Riki, Masato, and Kengo in turn.

She looks at the umbrella again.

A moment later, the issue sinks in for the others, too.

“I guess we… packed an umbrella, huh…” Riki chuckles nervously for a moment before giving up and falling into a sigh.

“You know, Riki… Sometimes, you’re almost as bad as them,” Rin says.

“Ouch. Harsh.” Kengo pats Riki on the back consolingly.

“That means you’re one of us, now! Come on, Riki! Let’s be muscle buddies!”

“No, no, no…” Riki shakes his head rapidly. “I don’t think I’m quite that far gone yet…”

“Aw, Riki rejected me…” Masato hangs his head. “Ah, well! Hey, Kengo!”

“Why do I have the feeling I know what you’re going to propose…” Kengo regards his friend suspiciously.

“Let’s race! First one to get out of the rain wins!”

“Hmph. Well, with just the one umbrella, I suppose we don’t have a better choice.” Kengo starts stretching to warm up. “Good luck, you two.”

“Woah, woah, wait!” Riki waves his hands in front of him. “Are you two serious?”

Rin shakes her head. “Those two are crazy, Riki. You should have given up by now.”

“Eh.” Masato shrugs. “I’ll own it. Now let’s go!” With those words, he and Kengo burst into a run, splashing water behind them as they reach the puddle and vanish into the rain.

After a minute, Rin speaks up. “Well, let’s get moving.”

“I… they…” Riki sighs, and offers her the umbrella. “…Yeah, alright.”

Riki withdraws Sly and, after a moment’s contemplation, sends out the recently-revived Terra so she can enjoy the rain. Santa hops up onto Rin’s shoulder, and she takes a moment to find the position where the umbrella will offer the most protection. And then the two step out into Route 203.

The rain hammers against their umbrella with a sound like a never-ending drumroll. Rin tries to slip even closer to the middle, but her shoulder still gets wet where she’s not fully protected. The spray of water coming down and mist splashing up from puddles already obscures the path forward enough that she can’t see where Masato and Kengo have gone. It hardly takes two steps before the wetness of the grass soaks through her shoes and socks.

Still, bit by bit, she grows used to it. There’s something peaceful in the sound of the rain, and as she watches Terra venture out cautiously at first, then begin to frolic in the rain, Rin can’t help but smile. Her awareness expands, and she begins to notice the droplets running down the leaves of trees, the swaying of the tall grass around her legs, the way some Pokémon shelter from the rain and others revel in it.

As she and Riki start to descend the route’s rolling hills, Rin notices a family of Shinx curled up under a tree, huddled around their Luxray mother for warmth. One of the small, light blue kittens sticks its paw out from their shelter and yanks it back upon contact with the rain, only to poke it back out in curiosity a moment later. A short ways further, and the two pass a small pond full of Goldeen and Magikarp bobbing up to the surface, chasing ripples left by the rain. Another few minutes later, and Rin startles Riki by coming to a sudden stop.

“What is it?”

“Look.” She points at a crowd of what looks like lilypads standing in the rain. Looking closer, they’re mounted on the backs of small blue Pokémon with six legs each and short yellow bills. “It’s pretty rare to see so many Lotad at once here.”

“Oh…” Riki’s gaze follows Rin’s for a moment, watching one Lotad snap playfully at the rain. Water builds up in the leafy rain dish on its back, creating something like a miniature pond of its own. Rin wonders whether smaller Pokémon could live in it for a moment, before Riki’s voice snaps her back to reality. “Do… you think something’s wrong?”

“Huh?”

“I mean, it’s unusually heavy rain, and if there are more Lotad than there should be…”

Rin cocks her head. She’d just meant to point out something cute.

Riki shrugs. “…Anyways, we should get moving again. I just want to get out of this rain…”

Rin shoots one last glance back at the family of Lotad, but she doesn’t really have a choice but to follow the umbrella. As she and Riki reach the end of the hills and cross onto a short concrete path leading the way, she doesn’t bother pointing out any of the other Pokémon she notices in the rain.

Soon, they arrive at a small stairway leading up onto a large stone foundation. This is what’s left of the mountain that once stood in place of Jubilife City, and stepping onto it marks entry into the city limits. The change is incredibly sudden; one moment they’re walking between grass and trees, and the next they’re flanked by businesses and skyscrapers. Jubilife City is almost entirely unlike Hearthome, from the smooth grey tiles that make up the city floor to the crush of strangers hurrying this way and that even in the rain.

Rin shrinks a little closer to Riki under the umbrella as they pass.

“We need to find someplace to get in from the rain.” Riki glances around, looking from building to building.

After another minute of walking, Rin notices the sound of smooth jazz coming from a fancy café on the side of the street, with a covered patio. With one last, desperate rush, she and Riki make their way under the awning, where they can finally fold up their umbrella without getting drenched.

Once Rin is done wringing out her ponytail, she relaxes enough to glance around the café. Leafy potted plants are scattered around the patio, with flowers visible in the windows of the building proper. In the center of the patio is a circular stage, with a jazz band playing their hearts out atop it. The café’s glass double doors are open in order to let the music in, revealing several scattered tables and a bar. Riki and Rin don’t seem to be the only ones to have the idea of using the restaraunt as an escape; the café is quite crowded. There are several trainers sitting with their Pokémon at their tables, occasionally hand-feeding them bits of treats. A girl in a beige sweater is nursing a mug of some steaming beverage at the bar. And… are those Masato and Kengo, sitting at a table by the door with soaked hair?

Masato grins and waves them over. “Glad you found us!”

“Don’t worry,” Kengo adds, “We told them we were expecting a party of five.”

Riki and Rin pick their way across the patio to their friends.

“You said a party of five,” Riki inquires. “Does that mean you know how Kyousuke’s doing?”

Kengo nods. “We called him once we got here; he’s on his way.”

“We were just debating calling you to tell you where to find us, but it looks like you wound up here on your own!”

“Mhm,” Riki replies. “It seemed like the first building that was expecting people to just walk in out of the rain.”

“Yeah, that’s why we picked it too,” Kengo concurs. “So how was the walk?”

“Wet,” Riki says.

At the same time, Rin replies, “It was nice.”

“Oh?”

“There were lots of Pokémon out in the rain,” Rin continues. “They looked happy.”

“I see.” Kengo smiles gently for a moment, before their conversation is interrupted by a muffled sonic boom. Everyone looks out the window to see a Garchomp skid to a stop outside the café. Kyousuke clambers down from its back and withdraws it before striding confidently into the restaurant.

“Yo.” He waves lazily as he approaches the Little Busters’ table. “I take it everything went well?”

Masato nods and jabs his thumb at Riki and Rin. “Yup. Even got some training in for these two!”

The pair in question share a glance, concurring that they’ll never speak of the Whiscash incident.

“That’s great,” Kyousuke exclaims with a boyish grin. He sits down, scattering rainwater everywhere with his careless movement. “Now that I’m here, let’s order lunch! I’m starving!”

“Good idea. Waiter!” Kengo flags down a waiter, and they order their food before returning to the conversation.

“So… Did everything go alright with the Coronet path?” Riki glances at Kyousuke curiously.

“Oh, yeah, it just took a couple Rock Smashes and it was good as new!”

Riki just sighs at the reminder of their pointless detour.

“Honestly,” Kyousuke continues, “The hardest part of this whole expedition was just getting Irwin to turn corners. Garchomp don’t exactly have the best handling at top speed.”

The conversation continues in this manner as they wait for their food, skimming from small talk to small talk. Eventually, the band finishes their current song and switches over to a jazzy arrangement of the music that plays in Pokémarts around the island chain.

(“Even with all this crazy rain, we promise our music will drive you insane! Now here’s a song I’m sure you all find familiar - with our own twist!”)

Around that time, the girl at the counter finishes her drink and, after what looks like a short conversation with one of the employees, gets up to leave. She weaves between crowded tables, trying to reach the door, but just as she nears Rin’s table, she comes face to face with a waiter and stumbles back to avoid a collision.

“Wah—!” She windmills her arms for a moment as she topples backwards. Riki jumps up to try and help, but instead of catching her he just winds up cushioning her fall as her back slams into him.

“Ow…” He rubs his head before getting up. “You alright?”

“Hm?” The girl rises to her feet, and Rin shrinks a little in her seat as the stranger’s gaze passes over her. Her beige sweatshirt is a little ruffled from the fall, but otherwise she looks okay. She has strawberry blonde hair tied up by a star-shaped ornament with a trailing red ribbon on each side. Her eyes are blue, and there’s something oddly familiar in their expression, something that Rin can’t quite place… After a moment, the girl continues. “Oh. Yes, I’m fine. I’m sorry for the trouble…” She bows an apology before stepping around their table and making her exit. When Rin turns back to the others, she sees Riki looking after where the girl left with a pensive expression.

Before she can ask, Kyousuke interrupts her thought. “Finally!” Rin glances at the table and sees that their food has arrived; the waiter who was nearly in the collision must have been bringing it to them. “Come on, let’s eat!”

Rin shrugs, and digs in. It probably wasn’t important.
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Sorry for the late chapter! I'm running up into the last couple weeks of the school year right now. For the same reason, the next chapter might also come on the Friday of that week instead of the Monday, since that's finals week and studying takes precedence. After that, it should be smoother sailing though! Hope you enjoy!
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Chapter 7: In The Town of Incessant Rain


Meow?

“You can do it, Lennon! Reach for the stars!”

Meow!

With a determined cry, Lennon pounces at its target, white fur shining under bright ceiling-mounted lights. Its ambitions are frustrated as the fluffy toy jolts out of its way, leaving the Litten to hit the floor on the other side empty-pawed. With an agile hop, it turns to look for its prey.

“Keep going! Only by believing in yourself can you grow into a proper warrior!” Rin waves the toy - a simple stick with white fluff modeled after a Minccino’s furry, white-tipped tail on one end - and brings it back down into her Pokémon’s sights. Lennon makes another attempt to catch the toy, and yet another as Rin leads it on a merry chase around the room.

At the moment, they’re inhabiting a small side room in a Pokémon Center, one of several set aside for Trainers to battle or train their Pokémon. The ubiquitous Pokémon Center Theme can still be heard filtering in from the main rooms of the building, but it’s quiet enough to blend with the sound of rain pounding down on the roof and the roads outside.

After their meal, Rin had brought her and Riki’s Pokémon to be healed while Riki and Kengo ran for a store to grab more than a single umbrella’s worth of rain gear for the group. Masato vanished to who knows where for his muscle training and Kyousuke went to get a start on his advertising gig, leaving Rin to her own devices. After waiting a short while for the Pokémon to be returned in full health, she retreated to the training room to let them stretch their legs.

MEOWWW! Lennon cries triumphantly as it finally snags the Pokémon toy out of Rin’s hand with a flying tackle.

“Woah!” Rin’s jaw drops when she realized what happened. “Well done, Lennon! Could it be you’ve become a proper warrior already?” Lennon preens, only to hiss in surprise as the ground yaws beneath it. It scrabbles with its claws, finding no traction in moist soil as Terra dumps it off from where it had landed on the Turtwig’s back. Terra snaps at the cat Pokémon indignantly.

Lennon bristles, and starts to circle the Turtwig before being cut off by a sharp “No!” It looks back at its trainer, who continues, “I’m watching Terra and Sly until Riki gets back. You’re not allowed to fight them.” A minute passes, the Litten withering under Rin’s stare, until it finally gives up and slinks back to her side. “Good kitty.” Lennon arches its head up into Rin’s palm as she pets it. “Oh? Do you want a treat?”

Nya.

“You want some Mon petit?”

Nyaa!

“You’ve already had some today. You shouldn’t eat too much between lunch and supper, or you’ll get a bellyache.”

Nyaaa…

Rin shakes her head. “I’ll give you this, instead. You did do well today, after all.” Smiling brightly, Rin pulls out a plastic container full of small, colourful cubes. She places a red one in the middle of her palm, offering it to the cat. Lennon sniffs the candy block and then laps it up, tickling Rin’s hand in the process. “You too, Santa. Come here.” This time, the Pokéblock she offers is pink, and the Chingling looks up from the other side of the room where it has Sly wrapped up in its tendrils. It lets go, (Riki’s Bonsly looks relieved at the release from its cuddling,) and wanders over. After a couple of tries, it gets its jaw around the Pokéblock and jingles happily at the sweetness.

Rin slips the rest of the Pokéblocks back into her bag. They’re not all that easy to find in Sinnoh, so she has a limited stock until her brother takes another trip to Hoenn. There are Poffins, of course, but… She glances at Santa as it tries to crunch down on its treat. When it comes down to how cute her Pokémon look eating them, Pokéblocks win every time!

“Hm?” Rin becomes aware of a gaze fixed on her, and turns to see Riki’s Pokémon staring balefully. “Ah…”

Terra blinks, first with one eye, then the other.

“I really shouldn’t… I mean, you’re Riki’s Pokémon, and he might have his own plans…”

Sly looks like it’s on the verge of tears.

Rin folds. “…Okay, fine. It’s our secret, alright?” She fumbles in her bag to pull out a couple more Pokéblocks, glances both ways to confirm nobody’s watching, and slips them to the Pokémon. “You’re not allowed to tell Riki, got it?”

Terra crushes one of the blocks with its beak.

“Woah!” A tugging sensation on her clothes draws Rin’s gaze back to Lennon, who is trying to climb her like a tree. One of its claws goes a little too deep, and nicks her skin for a moment. “Aah!” She jolts, and the Litten flops to the ground in surprise. “You have to be more careful, Lennon! People aren’t as tough as you are!” She pauses. “…Well, Masato might be.”

Meow~ Lennon rolls back and forth on the floor.

“You’re really brimming with energy today.” Rin watches Lennon roll around her in a clumsy loop. “Are you trying to tell me something?”

Roll… Roll…

“Did you have that much fun battling?”

Lennon comes to a stop once it’s right-side up and meows at her.

“What about you, Santa?”

The Chingling bounces up and down, its bell sounding every time it pushes off the ground.

“Hmm. Well, I’ll tell you a secret, then.” Rin leans in close to her Pokémon, and whispers, “I did, too!” She deftly lifts Santa into her lap, and runs her hands along its rope-like appendages. It cuddles up closer to her in pleasure, and she pats the smooth top of its bell.

“Hmmm…” Rin plops her chin on one hand and hums to herself, deep in thought. “Hmmmmmmmmmmm…” Her head tilts slowly to the side as she thinks, approaching a 90 degree angle. Once her head hits 45 degrees, she straightens up. “I’ve got it!”

Lennon sits and looks up at her, tail swishing on the floor.

Rin nods, filled with self-satisfaction. “Tomorrow, I’ll ask Riki to battle me!”

——

“I still don’t understand why I have to do this…”

The next morning brings with it the hustle and bustle of the big city. Businesspeople dash to their places of work, some with bagels dangling from their mouths. Children rush to their schools, chatting with friends as they do. Nearly everybody is carrying rain gear of some kind - while the rain let up overnight, the skies above the city are still cloudy and threatening.

Although the crowds disquiet Rin, she nonetheless pushes through, dragging Riki behind her until they near Jubilife TV. Across the street from the TV station, set smack-dab in the center of the city, is a refreshing spot of green that stands out amidst Jubilife’s rocky greys.

“It’s so we can fight,” Rin responds matter-of-factly. “Masato, Kengo, and Kyousuke are all too strong for a real match. If I want to battle someone, it has to be you.”

It’s not much compared to Amity Square, but Jubilife’s sole park - boasting wide stretches of grass, a fountain, and even several trees all scattered around a path dotted with benches - remains a popular spot for elders and children who want to be amidst living things without venturing into the wilder routes outside the city. Rin pulls her friend past several benches until they reach a dirt battlefield in the shade of the massive Global Terminal building.

“No, no, no, that doesn’t follow at all,” Riki sighs. “First of all, nobody said we’re the only Trainers in the world! I’m sure you could find someone who wants to battle at the Trainer School or the GTS!”

Rin glances behind her at the building in question. It’s a huge, multi-story cone of glass and steel, with a tower on the roof pointing satellite dishes in every direction. Originally called the Global Trade Station - the first in the world, Kyousuke once told her with a gleam of patriotism - over the years it grew beyond its original purpose as a glorified signal-booster allowing interregional Pokémon trades and became a general all-purpose gathering point for the region’s Trainers to communicate with both each other and their counterparts in distant lands. Even as far away as she is, Rin still gets the impression of hundreds - maybe thousands - of strangers crowding within, all shouting over each other, their shadows twisting and merging into a multi-headed beast—

The hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. “Of course I can’t do that, dumbass!”

Riki steps back, hands in front of him placatingly. Whatever further arguments he was going to present die on his lips. “Okay, okay… I’m sorry. Still, are you sure you’re alright not being able to talk to strangers? You’ll have to manage on your own someday, won’t you?”

Rin shakes her head. “You and Kyousuke will be there,” she says simply.

“Ah…” Riki doesn’t seem to have anything to say to that. In lieu of further debate, Rin points her Pokéball at the ground in front of her and presses the button on front, causing it to shoot out a red beam that materializes into Lennon. Riki gives up and throws his own Pokéball, his eyes widening as Terra appears across from the fire cat. Lennon darts for its opponent, and Riki fumbles with his belt. “Crap! Terra, return! Go, Sly!”

“Lennon, use Lick!” Rin seizes on the opening without remorse, and her Litten lashes the Bonsly with its tongue before the Pokémon can get its bearings. “Now Roar!” Sly is still staggering back when Lennon lets out an intimidating yowl, and before Riki can react his Pokémon is hiding behind his legs.

“Sly—“ Riki grimaces, and after a moment he sends Terra back out into battle. The turtle Pokémon has no choice but to take an Ember attack head-on upon reentry, but it shakes it off and lumbers forward. “T— Terra, use Tackle!” With a determined cry, the Turtwig plows through a second Ember to ram into Lennon, sending the cat stumbling back. Lennon jumps out of the way before it can take a second attack, and readies another Ember, but both combatants are flagging. A third Ember should be enough to finish Terra off, but… its physical attacks are strong enough that it might be able to take Lennon out if it gets luck— “Come back, Terra! Sly, I’m counting on you!”

Rin clicks her tongue in frustration as Riki backs off, and switches Sly into an ineffective Ember attack. Even if the Bonsly has a better type matchup, Terra’s been weakened enough at this point that it won’t be able to recover from the tempo loss of switching back in. No matter how she tries to push, the spark she felt the previous day just won’t come. Riki is all over himself with hesitation and openings; she doesn’t feel an ounce of fighting spirit from him. “Charge him, Lennon!” Lennon darts for Sly, as Rin bets it all on getting in closer than Rock Throw’s effective range.

“Sly, use R— I mean--“ Riki hesitates just a moment too long. “Er, use Flail!” Paralyzed by its trainer’s indecision, Sly takes Lennon’s Lick attack before it can retaliate. The Litten goes down, but before Rin can switch in Santa to finish the job, she’s interrupted by what sounds like thunder rolling.

“WHAT THE HELL IS THIIIIIIIIIIS!” Rin clamps her hands over her ears and screws her eyes shut at the explosive shout. When the noise dies down, she takes in the sight of a tall, wiry old man in a green robe. His mustache, goatee, and spiky hair have all gone white with age, and he’s glaring at the two of them with brown eyes. “JUST WHAT DO YOU CALL THAT DISPLAY?”

“…A Pokémon Battle?” Riki cocks his head at the old man.

“Pah! I’ve fought better Pokémon Battles than that in my sleep,” The aggressive geezer growls. “I’ve seen Pokémon Coordinators with more aggression than you, kid! And as for you! ” He wheels on Rin, who steps back involuntarily.

Before he can advance any further, she settles on a preemptive strike! She bristles and shouts at him, “Nobody asked you, old man!”

The geezer explodes again. “WHO’S AN OLD MAAAAAAAAAN!?” His eyes flash with anger, and his shout echoes around the park. As though in response, the clouds burst open and rain begins to pour down once again. Quivering under the huge stranger’s shout, Rin kicks into fight or flight mode, and miserably succumbs to her only option.

“Rin! Wait up!”

She runs away.

——

Rin presses her back against the wall of a building, half-sheltered from the rain by the lip of the roof. Her breathing is slowing down again now that she’s gotten away safely, but… she’s traded in for a new problem instead. She’s lost and alone in the big city, surrounded by people she doesn’t know. Even now, strangers with ponchos and umbrellas rush up and down the street, causing Rin to flinch back whenever one passes too close. Occasionally a member of the faceless mass slows, as though debating whether to approach her, but they always pick up their pace when she hisses at them.

“Rin! Thank goodness, I finally found you… Are you okay?”

Rin jumps at the sudden voice calling out to her, and glances around wildly. Her body tenses up, ready to make one last desperate attack… and then she recognizes the voice as coming from Riki, standing in front of her with an umbrella. The pent-up energy transfers to her voice as she speaks a little too quickly. “I-I’m fine!”

“Are you sure? You looked kind of—“

“I said I’m fine!” Rin glares at her friend, daring him to contradict her.

“Ah… Alright…” Riki blinks first, averting his gaze. After fidgeting for a moment, he hands Rin a folded-up umbrella. “Oh, right. By the way, you dropped this.”

“O-oh. Thanks, Riki.” As she falls back into a familiar routine, Rin slowly relaxes. She unfolds her umbrella - courtesy of Riki and Kengo’s shopping trip - and steps back out into the rain. “…I guess we should meet back up with the others.”

Riki falls into step with her as she turns back towards the hostel where Kyousuke arranged for them to stay. “You’re not going to say we need to finish that battle?” he asks.

Rin just shakes her head. “No point.” The scary old man was right about one thing - she’s certain, now. She’s not going to get the challenge she wants from Riki.

“I see…” From the look on his face, Riki clearly doesn’t see, but he follows along nonetheless. Rin continues to glance around warily, some instinctual part of her still convinced that an enemy is going to accost her. In the end, however, she and Riki encounter nothing but puddles and thunder-cracks as they walk through the sodden city.

——

“You want us to what? ” Masato’s jaw drops.

Rin stares at him unblinkingly. “Help me train,” she repeats, brooking no argument.

“Well someone’s had a change of heart. Didn’t we have to bribe you the last time we wanted you to learn something? Why the sudden change?” Kengo drums his fingers on his arm.

Rin had wasted no time in making her demands when she and Riki arrived back at the hostel. She’s not sure what’s so hard to understand about it. “I just want to. Riki’s not enough to give me an interesting battle -” she ignores his halfhearted ‘Hey!’ - “so I need to try something else.”

“Hmm. Well, I guess that’s reasonable…” Kengo plows over Riki’s murmur of ‘You too…?’ to give Rin a nod, but Masato interrupts him.

“Woah, woah, hold on! After all the trouble she gave us, Rin gets to just plow in here and demand our help like it’s a given?” Masato frowns and crosses his arms. “Shouldn’t we at least make some demands of our own?”

Rin glares at him. “Like what?

Masato thinks for a minute, face scrunching up further and further. Finally, he gives a defeated shrug. “Heck if I know. Ugh, now I’ve got a headache…”

Rin looks on with naked awe. “What an idiot!”

“Uwoooh! At least don’t call me that when you’re asking for my help!” Masato covers his face with his hands and lets out a groan of utter despair.

Rin places her hands on her hips. She can’t help but feel that they’d strayed from the main point. “Anyways, help me train!”

“No, he’s got a point…” Kengo scratches his chin. “You really should be polite if you’re asking a favor.”

“Ugh…” Rin grimaces. The conversation is going off the rails, fast. She looks to Riki for support.

“…I’m sorry, Rin.” Riki shrugs helplessly. “It is important to know how to ask for help properly…”

Rin groans. She glances around, as though something in her surroundings would grant her an escape route.

The world is not so accommodating.

Finally, she clenches her fists, screws up her determination, and shouts, “Please, train me!”

She hears Masato’s astonished voice. “Woah… Did Rin actually just ask us nicely…?”

Her eyes still closed, Rin half-bows to her friends. She’s certain that with this, she and her Pokémon will be able to battle and grow closer. This is how her story begins. “Please, help me get stronger so I can challenge the Gym!”
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Spoiler Warning: Starting this chapter, Gracidea Blossom will contain spoilers for Komari’s Route of Little Busters! Since this is the first such spoiler point, I’ll reiterate my general policy: I’ll be using primarily backstory spoilers and trying to leave elements of the route that people can still enjoy even if they read this story first, and marking with an author’s note like this one before any chapter that first introduces spoilers from that route, while considering backstory information introduced in that route fair game for the rest of the story afterwards.

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Chapter 8: The Wind and the Rain



The day after Rin started her training, Riki finds himself aimlessly wandering the streets of Jubilife. With Masato and Kengo occupied with preparing Rin for her Gym Challenge, and Kyousuke busy at Jubilife TV, Riki’s been left largely to his own devices whenever he’s not being dragged into the training himself.

The gray sky seems to press down on him as he walks. Ever since this journey started, something’s felt subtly off. Masato and Kengo always pushing their training. Kyousuke’s vague questions. As much as Riki wants to treat everything as just more of the silly games the Little Busters play together, he can’t shake the feeling that something is moving. Dragging Masato, Kengo, and Rin into these strange impetuses, and threatening to leave him behind.

Perhaps that’s why his feet take him back to the park where he and Rin had battled the previous day. Sitting with his Pokémon amidst the faded grass, he can at least feel a little less alone.

After letting Terra and Sly out of their Pokéballs, Riki leans forward to spritz his Turtwig down with a spray bottle. The soil on its head and back drinks the water up greedily, and its sprout seems to stand a little straighter. Riki scratches the Turtwig lightly under its chin.

“I guess you were getting thirsty? Alright, then. Here. Let’s get you something to eat, as well.”

He pours out some Pokémon food into a couple of bowls - one for Terra, one for Sly - and lies back on the grass while he waits for them to eat. A chilly breeze rustles his clothes and the grass beneath him. Temperatures in Sinnoh already trend cool, and with the rain cooling the city down even further, Riki is glad to have worn layers today. Still, it’s peaceful, and he just lies there for a few minutes with his eyes closed, listening to the sound of the wind.

Eventually, the sounds of crunching stop, and his Pokémon cuddle up next to him. Terra settles down on his left right by his ribs, while Sly sits by his right ear.

But…

Soon, the calm only makes Riki feel lonelier. Normally, by now he’d have been jarred back to reality by Masato and Kengo’s roughhousing, or Rin shouting at one of them, or Kyousuke coming up with some sort of game. The more time he spends alone like this, the more his thoughts drift back to the days after his parents died.

Before he can go any further, Riki pushes himself to his feet. Hopefully, doing something will be enough to distract him. But what? He’s here because he didn’t have anywhere to go.

For want of a better option, Riki beckons his Pokémon to walk with him along the wavy stone path circling the park. At least, moving should be better than not. It doesn’t do a lot… but he still starts to feel just a little better.

And then—

“YOUUUUUUUU!”

Riki’s melancholy thoughts are blown away in an instant, replaced by confusion under the sudden sonic assault. Bracing himself, he pushes forward to confront the figure responsible.

“Wait, you’re the old man from yesterday!”

“WHO’S AN OLD MAAAAAAAAAAN!?” The uproar doubles in strength.

However, Riki simply finds his frustration building. “By all accounts, you are! You shouldn’t shout at people for simply stating what’s true.”

“…Hmph.” The man quiets down at that. “At least you have some spine. That’s more than I expected, from your performance yesterday.” He fixes Riki with a flat stare.

“Eh?” Riki glares back. “What do you mean by that?”

“Simple. Kid, your battling was atrocious. What in the world possessed you not to have your Pokémon use Rock Throw at the end there? You might have been able to at least KO that girl’s cat.”

“Ah... I mean, Lennon was already getting weak. I didn’t want to hit him with an effective attack if it might injure him too badly!”

The old man fixes Riki with a flat stare. “Oh? So you know what that Pokémon can take better than it and its trainer combined?”

“I...” Riki wavers, but frustration wins out. “Why do you even care? It’s clearly not for my friend’s sake, given how you chased her away out of nowhere.”

“Bah. This and that have nothing to do with each other.” He glares at Riki. “You’ve clearly got some amount of guts, or you wouldn’t be talking back to me like this. So I just want to figure out what you’re doing insulting your Pokémon and your opponent by refusing to show them!”

“I told you. I don’t want to hurt my friend’s Pokémon.”

“Then I guess there’s nothing for it, then.” The man smirks as the trap snaps shut. “If you’re worried about being able to judge if a Pokémon will get hurt, you’ve just got to get a feel for it through experience!”

“…Seriously?” Riki suppresses a groan. Why does he always get dragged into these things?

“Alright then, kid! I, Kojirou, will teach you how to put your all into a battle!” He rolls a Pokéball out of the sleeve of his robe, and throws it. “Go, Whismur!”

What appears is a round pink mammal, around two feet in height. The Whismur has cross-shaped eyes and two nubby arms. Its feet are yellow-tipped, as are the long, curved rabbit ears jutting up from the top of its body. Each ear canal is positioned just in front of the base of its ear, so that the ears can bend down to act as plugs. “I’ll tell you what. If you beat just this one Pokémon, I’ll promise not to bother you again. I’ll even go apologize to that other kid you were with! How’s that sound?”

Riki sighs as he sends his Bonsly out to battle and tells it to use Rock Throw. A rock type against a normal type… with Sly’s defenses, wearing his opponent down shouldn’t be too hard. “Do you not have better things to do than hang around in this park harassing people about Pokémon battles?”

“Uproar!” At Kojirou’s command, the Whismur stretches its mouth wide open and lets out an ear-splitting cry. Sly stops in its tracks, vibrating a little from the sheer volume of the sound buffeting it. “What was that, kid? I couldn’t hear you!”

“Ugh… Sly, use Rock Throw again!” Riki grimaces as his Bonly sends a chunk of rock flying right into its opponent’s face, briefly cutting off the piercing wail. “I said, isn’t there anything else you should be doing right now? Don’t you have friends or family to spend time with, or something?”

“Hmph.” Kojirou brings his arms together so that his sleeves cover both hands. “Kid, you were right about one thing - I’m old. when you get to my age, you’re not gonna have friends around for much longer. As for family… Well, I’ve decided to live on my own. I don’t plan on inconveniencing them when I die, got that?”

“What - that’s horrible!” Even as the Whismur resumes making an uproar, Sly slowly advances towards it, its rocky defenses holding up well against the Normal-type attacks. It may be a little slow, but if things keep up as is, Riki’s Pokémon will be the one winning the battle of attrition. “If you’ve still got family, then you should go to them! I’m sure they want to see you!”

“Here’s some advice, kid: don’t meddle in situations you don’t understand!” Kojirou’s shout corresponds with a particularly loud blast of sound from his Pokémon as its uproar reaches a peak. Sly has to stop moving again from the sheer intensity, but it still holds firm. “And I’ll give you a two for one deal, while I’m at it.” Rather than continuing to cry, the Whismur waits for Kojirou’s command: “Don’t underestimate the versatility of Normal types! Whismur, use Water Pulse!”

Rather than sound, what emerges from the Pokémon’s mouth this time is a pulsing ring of water that travels forward with enough speed to knock Riki’s Bonsly off of its feet. Although it rises, Sly seems dizzy from the impact, and its next Rock Throw misses the target before a second pulse takes it down.

“If you’re so concerned about not holding back, then why didn’t you use that from the start?”

“Simple,” Kojirou responds. “I’m trying to teach you something. If I ended the battle from the start, I wouldn’t be able to judge how you fight.”

“I didn’t ask for that.” As Riki calls his Bonsly back to its Pokéball, Terra steps forward as though to say the battle isn’t over yet.

“Not much respect for the lessons of your elders, huh?”

“Not when those lessons amount to ‘scream at random passers-by so they’ll leave you alone’.” The battle pauses as Riki and Kojirou stare each other down, neither making the next move. Then, the old man laughs.

“Hah! Fair enough, kid! But tell me - what’re you gonna do next? How do you plan to win this?”

“I…” Riki glances at his Pokédex, checking what TMs are known to work on Whismur. Yeah… He thought so. “…I don’t. Terra, return!” Just as the turtle is about to charge its opponent, with or without its Trainer’s help, Riki reaches for its Pokéball and calls it back with a beam of red light. “If you’ve used TMs to teach that Pokémon coverage moves, then it probably knows Flamethrower, too. I’m not letting Terra get in close and risk something like that. You win.”

“…” Kojirou sighs. “Fine. Whismur, return.” He recalls his own Pokémon, but fixes Riki with a serious look. “Kid… if you’re not willing to take a chance now and then, you’re never gonna grow stronger.”

“Getting stronger…” Riki looks away. “I don’t understand why everybody keeps talking about that.”

“It’s not physical strength I’m talking about here. It’s mental. Spiritual. If you want to find happiness in life, you need to grow enough to go look for it.”

“I…” Riki shakes his head. “I’ve got what I’m looking for right here, already. I have my friends. That’s enough.” He turns to walk away. He’s done here.

Kojirou doesn’t follow him. Before he’s out of earshot, though, he gives Riki one last parting remark. “…Everything changes, kid. There’s not a single thing in life that ever stays the same. If you try to hide from that, you’ll earn nothing but regret.”

———

Once again, Riki finds himself walking through the city, caught between the gray of the streets and the gray of the sky, with no destination in mind. He shakes Kojirou’s words out of his head.

There’s nothing wrong with wishing for tomorrow to always be the same as yesterday.

He knows he should return to the Pokémon Center, so that they can start getting Sly back to full health. But… his Pokémon is safely in stasis within its ball, and he doesn’t feel like being roped into whatever training scheme Rin’s working through now.

“Hm?” For a moment, the monotony of the city is broken. Streetlights flicker on, illuminating something unusual just as it disappears around a corner. Riki rushes ahead, and turns to see a lone Pokémon floating down the road ahead of him.

It looks like a meteor hovering in place, with a spherical body covered in a cracked shell of rock. Around its perimeter are five small craters, arranged like the points of a star. Each crater is ringed with dark brown triangular impressions, and has a rounded white nub poking out from inside of it.

Not recognizing the species, Riki points the camera of his Pokédex at it. The pocket encyclopedia brings up a picture of the Pokémon’s front, which boasts two huge black circles that look almost like eyes. Each has three triangular impressions emerging from its top, and the one on its left also has a smaller brown circle the same color as the triangles overlapping it on the bottom left. Apparently it’s a Minior, a Pokémon native to the Alola region.

Definitely strange for one to be on its own here, then. Lacking anything better to do, Riki follows it.

A few turns later, it leads him to a large, plain, blocky building. A sign hanging above the entrance says “POKÉMON GYM” in faded letters. It’s shockingly plain for the place that’s making Rin act unusual. Evidently, this city’s Leader doesn’t care much about appearances.

The Minior doesn’t go inside, however. Instead, it floats around to the back, where a metal fire escape staircase leads up to the roof of the building. The Minior rises, and disappears over the lip of the roof.

Curious, Riki grips the railing and climbs the fire escape.

He emerges onto a wide, flat rooftop. Riki’s shirt flaps in the wind; it’s much stronger up here than at ground level, and it doesn’t stop. A mesh fence runs along the perimeter, preventing access to the edge of the roof except for an opening for the fire escape. Scattered across the plain in front of Riki are several long metal hangers for drying sheets. They’re rusty from disuse.

Riki advances towards the center of the area, looking around. After a moment, his eyes focus, and he recognizes a figure who had until now blended into the grey of the sky. It’s a girl, sat on the ground with her back leaning on the mesh fence. Several discarded wrappers, carelessly pinned to the ground beside her by a bag and a lunchbox, rustle in the wind. The girl herself is hugging the Minior to her chest, and gazing forward with dull eyes. The eyes are what help Riki place her - she’s the girl from the café the other day.

The girl glances up at him. “Who… are you?”

“Ah—“ Riki falters. “…My name’s Riki. I ran into your Pokémon, and, er… wound up following it. Sorry.”

“Mm.” The girl nods. “I’m Komari. I guess.. You found my secret base, huh?” She puts on a sheepish smile, but the moment of effort behind it betrays her.

“…Sorry. I can go, if you don’t want me here. I won’t tell anyone.”

“…No. It’s fine.” Komari’s face falls again, once it’s clear that the smile didn’t fool Riki. “I don’t have any special claim to this place, or anything.” She closes her eyes, and squeezes her Pokémon tighter for a moment. “I just like it, that’s all.”

Riki makes a sound of understanding. He supposes this place is as good as any other. And… after their encounter the other day, he doesn’t want to leave this girl alone here. “Then, is it alright if I sit here a while? I’ve been struggling to find a place to go to.”

“I won’t stop you.” Komari smiles weakly as Riki sits down. “To be honest… I’d be sad, if my being here kept someone else from enjoying it.”

“Ah.” Riki glances around the open roof. While not a skyscraper, it’s still one of the taller buildings in Jubilife, giving him a wide view of the city beyond the fence’s boundaries. A thought strikes him. “This must be a really nice place when it’s sunny.”

“It is. I’m glad you think so too.” Komari nods along. She continues quietly, more to herself than to Riki. “…I just wish it wouldn’t rain so much lately. I hate the rain…”

A few minutes pass in silence after that. Eventually, Komari pulls something out of her lunchbox. After fiddling with the wrapper, she breaks it in half, and offers one half to Riki. “Belgian Waffle?”

“Huh? Um, sure…?” Riki hesitantly takes the offered sweet.

“…Sorry. You probably think it’s weird.” Komari looks down at her knees. “People are made to feel what others feel, right? When the people around you are happy, you get a little happier too. So, by sharing the things I like, I figure maybe I can make myself feel a little better. You know?”

Riki makes a noise of understanding. It seems like an awfully simple philosophy… and from Komari’s listless behavior, he gets the sense that she’s trying to convince herself as much as him. Still, he takes a bite of the waffle. He’s never been a particular fan of sweets, but… “…It’s good.”

“Mm.” Komari chews on her own half of the waffle. “…Of course, I know it’s not that simple. When I’m sad, that makes the people around me sad, too. And then knowing I’m responsible just makes me feel worse…”

“…It’s kind of a vicious circle, huh.”

“Mhm.”

The wind continues to blow, as Komari carefully pins the new wrapper under her lunchbox with the rest. The conversation slows to a halt. The atmosphere grows more and more awkward, until Riki says something just to break the silence.

“So… that Pokémon. You don’t usually find Minior outside of Alola, right?”

Komari’s grip on the meteor Pokémon tightens. She speaks still without looking back towards Riki. “Mhm. This is Granny. My brother gave her to me, back when… when he went to Alola.”

Riki tilts his head. He’s pretty sure the Pokédex said Minior were genderless… but then, it’s not as though it really matters what Komari calls her Pokémon. “That was nice of him.”

“Yeah, it was. My big brother was always really nice to me.” The girl rests her chin on the Minior’s rocky shell. Her eyes cloud up a little more than usual.

Was? A pit of dread sinks into Riki’s stomach. He wishes he was wrong, but… he’s certain that he wasn’t. “…Oh. I’m sorry… You mean, he’s…?”

“That’s right.” Komari gives a small nod. “My brother… doesn’t exist, anymore. He died eight years ago.”

———

That day…

“Honestly, the hardest part of this whole expedition was just getting Irwin to turn corners. Garchomp don’t exactly have the best handling at top speed.”

As the five of them sat around their table, chatting about the day’s adventures, Riki’s thoughts had started to drift. As the rain hammered down around them, for a moment he imagined the world had shrunk down to only this one café. The low buzz of discussion through the café and the patio faded into the background, the energetic jazz - which suddenly sounded almost desperate - blurring into white noise.

Instead, what his mind focused on was the rain. The faint sounds of thunder in the distance. The flowerpots, looking like fragile markers of this tiny world’s boundary.

The rain made him think of that day, so many years ago, when his own world had been shattered. The storm pouring down on his family, the accident near the lake, and…

Kyousuke nudged Riki gently with his shoulder, pulling him back to reality. Lightly shaking his head clear of the thoughts, Riki gave his friend a small smile.

The band switched to a new song.

A few moments later-

“Wah—!”

The shout drew Riki’s attention to a girl in a beige sweater, windmilling her arms as she lost her balance. Riki rose from his seat, meaning to help her right herself.

Unbalanced from his own sudden movement, he wound up getting dragged down under her instead. The floor rose up to meet him, and he smacked against the burnished wood.

“Ow…” Riki sat up and rubbed his head. Wincing at the pain, he stood and turned to the girl. “You alright?”

“Hm?” The girl rose as well. Blue eyes met Riki’s own. “Oh. Yes, I’m fine. I’m sorry for the trouble…” She bowed and rushed out the door, but Riki barely noticed.

The moment he’d looked her in the eyes, a stabbing pain in his heart had overshadowed any concern over the pain in his head.

Even as his friends sat him back down, Riki’s gaze drifted to the door where the girl had left.

He knew that look. He knew the emptiness in those eyes.

After all…

He’d seen it in the mirror every morning, all those years ago.

------

Updated Pokémon Teams:

Komari Kamikita:
"Granny" - N/A (but treated as a girl) - Minior
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
117 posts
12.9 Years
Well! That was a refreshing summer break from writing! Now that I'm back from that totally preplanned and telegraphed vacation, it's time to enjoy another--
--Huh? What's that? I wasn't planning to take a summer break at all?
I intended to use the summer to write *more,* not less?
It's not even a Monday today?
I, um, well-- Hey, what's that flashy light over there?

...Ahem.
Well! That was a refreshing summer break from writing! Now that I'm back from that totally preplanned and telegraphed vacation, it's time to enjoy another chapter of Gracidea Blossom!
No, ignore that niggling feeling in the back of your head. It's probably nothing.
Just relax, and let me welcome you back to the world of Pokémon!
--------

Chapter 9: Reaching Out



A boy and a girl sit on a rooftop, the city spread out below them. For several long minutes, neither says a word. The only motion is a chilly breeze, tugging at their hair and clothes.

‘I’m sorry.’ Why? There’s nothing you could do. It’s just a meaningless apology. ‘Things will get better.’ They’re still bad now. And even then, my parents are never coming back. ‘Hang in there.’ How? It hurts so much. I can’t keep feeling like this. ‘Cheer up.’ Shut up! If I could just do that, then—

…They mean well. Remember that they mean well.

Riki stares into the middle distance, lining condolences up and shooting them down one by one. He’d hated it. The unending torrent of hollow words, tearing again and again into a wound that refused to heal.

He’d come to this point knowing what he would find. Wanting to help Komari through the pain he’d once felt. How had he been foolish enough to get this far, without even knowing what he could say? What could help, instead of just hurting more?

‘We need you to add your strength to ours!’

Riki’s hand twitches. Raises itself, trying to reach out with the demand that’d saved him all those years ago.

Maybe someday he’ll be able to say those words, to bridge the distance that’s opened up around her. But… not yet. Instead, like a coward, he averts his eyes.

The silence stretches on like an ache grown deep into the bone, a break set poorly so long ago that the pain becomes a simple truth of existing. Resolving that even a wrong answer has to be better than this, Riki opens his mouth to deliver one of those empty platitudes, when—

“It’s alright.” Komari’s voice is gentle. Quiet. Half a bitter smile ghosts across her face. “This is about how it usually goes.” She stands up, dusting herself off. “…It’s getting late. You should go back to your friends, Riki.”

“…Yeah. I guess so.” Riki stands slowly, failure weighing down his chest.

“I’m sorry… for making you sad.” The girl with the empty eyes turns back to look at him from the top of the fire escape. “It’s okay if you don’t come again tomorrow.”

“Ah— wait!” Riki shouts across the distance, forcing the words over his tongue. He meets Komari’s gaze. “I-if it’s okay, I’ll come. So… See you again?”

“Mm.” After a moment, Komari gives a tiny shrug. “I don’t really mind.”

And she vanishes down the fire escape.

Riki stands there for another long moment, watching the clouds blow across the sky. In the end, it looks like he couldn’t do anything on his own. Not like Kyousuke. His hand hangs in the air, still reached halfway out as though to cross that distance and comfort her.

Then he lets it fall.

——

Riki walks through the dusky city, passing from lamplight to lamplight as he makes his way back towards the hostel. Unlike Hearthome’s peaceful nights, Jubilife swarms with energy even at this hour. Even Riki can’t help but be caught up in the flow as he takes in the sensations of the city’s night life. 24-hour convenience stores and restaurants fill Riki’s surroundings with light and his nose with mouthwatering scents.

The sights briefly distract Riki enough that when a figure hurries around a corner into his path, he just walks right into it with a noticeable thud.

He stumbles back a couple of steps, rubbing his forehead. “Ah— I’m sorry!”

“Hm? No, it’s me who should apologize. I should have been looking where I was going.” The other person turns to face him. He’s a tall, well-built boy with white hair, and he’s wearing a training… robe… “My friends and I have just been looking for someone. We haven’t seen him all day, so we were worried about— Riki?

Riki looks up at Kengo’s stern face, suddenly panicking. “Wait, who got lost? Do I need to help look for Masato or Kyousuke, or—“ His friend’s hand clamps down on his arm. “—oh.”

Kengo flips his Pokégear open and hastily calls each of the others in turn, telling them that he’s found Riki, and where to meet up.

Soon, everybody’s gathered - Rin arrives first and fixes Riki with a disapproving stare until Masato and finally Kyousuke catch up to them - and Riki finds himself staring down a tribunal.

“…Okay, look.” Riki shrugs sheepishly. “I understand that I lost track of time, and that’s not great. But is this really that big of a deal…?”

“Riki.” Kengo crosses his arms. “Do you have any idea how many times we tried calling you?”

“Huh? I don’t remember getting any calls.” Riki fumbles in his pockets, and pulls out his Pokégear… only for it to display a ‘no battery’ icon. “…Oh. I must have forgotten to charge it. Oops…”

“Riki, we’ve been trying to contact you ever since you didn’t show up for dinner! That’s more than just an ‘oops’!” Kyousuke wrings his hands anxiously. “For all that we knew, you’d passed out alone in the city somewhere!”

Rin nods along. “What he said. Riki, what were you even doing?”

“Ah… sorry…” Riki shrinks a little. “I promise, I wasn’t trying to worry you guys. What happened is…” He’s interrupted by a loud growl from his stomach.

The other four look at him.

“…I guess… you all ate already, huh?”

Masato cracks first. “I can’t take it anymore! Don’t worry, Riki, I’ll have dinner with you even if it means getting stomachaches all night from overeating!”

“Woah! No, you don’t have to go that far!”



Fifteen minutes later, the Little Busters are seated at a small picnic table outside a convenience store. Riki is finishing a sandwich, while Masato, who had to be dissuaded from eating a second supper in solidarity, nurses the protein shake they’d managed to haggle him down to.

Once Riki’s done with the sandwich, Kengo speaks in a level tone. “So. Now that you’ve eaten, what did happen today?”

“I made a friend. Her name’s Komari; we spent a while just sitting and talking together. I guess I lost track of time…” Riki scratches the back of his head sheepishly.

“A new friend, huh?” Kyousuke smiles. “That’s good to hear.”

“Yeah!” Masato leans over and slaps Riki on the shoulder, almost knocking him into the table. “Hey, I know! We were gonna tell you before all this happened, Kyousuke’s got tomorrow off to play with us! We’re all gonna help Rin train together! Why don’t you bring this Komari girl too, and introduce her to us?”

“Um…” Riki scratches his cheek. Admittedly, it’s a good opportunity to try and have her meet the Little Busters, but… the idea of ambushing the fragile girl with what the muscle pair calls ‘training’ worries him. He’s not like Kyousuke, to be able to steamroll over any resistance and drag somebody along with him - no matter how much he wishes he was. And, besides that, he can’t ignore how Rin had stiffened at the suggestion of bringing in a stranger, or how she’s sidling to be half-behind her older brother. “I’m… not sure that’s the best idea…”

“Eh?” Masato cocks his head. “Why not?”

“Um, it’s just a little…” Riki shrugs, a sheepish smile on his face.

“What… Could it be you’re replacing us?” Masato clutches his own head in his hands and wails in anguish. “Riki, nooo! Don’t leave me, I’ll do anything!”

“No, no, no, it’s not like that at all!” Startled at the sudden leap in logic, Riki waves his hands rapidly in denial.

“Hmph. Masato, don’t be an idiot.” Kengo rolls his eyes and leans back, arms crossed. "Still…” He smirks. “Sneaking away to spend the evening with a girl he doesn’t want us to meet? It seems our Riki’s finally growing up.”

Riki shakes his head in desperate denial. “What? No! That’s not what’s going on here, it’s not remotely like that!!”

“Indeed.” Kyousuke closes his eyes and rests a hand over his heart. “To think such a bittersweet day would come…”

“NO!!”

——

“Alright, then! Let’s get this started!” Masato grins, and kicks things off with a shout. “Delta! Use Rock Blast!”

Standing in front of Masato is a bulky bipedal Pokémon with a roughly eggplant-shaped torso, over seven feet tall. It has a rocky, dark grey body lined with hexagonal orange armor plates, particularly in a ring around its stomach and atop its shoulders and head. Perpendicular to each thin upper arm is a massive forearm, with a rocky elbow jutting up and a heavy paw facing the ground. Each paw sports three rocky claws, surrounding a hole where the palm should be. The Rhyperior has a low stance, its balance maintained by two short, thick feet and a long tail with a mace like a boulder on the end.

Delta raises one paw, its forearm clicking into place so that Riki’s staring down the barrel of its palm. He gulps as a low sound of grinding rock resounds from the Pokémon’s arm.

“Sly, now!” His shout doesn’t come a moment too soon, as a rounded stone explodes out of Delta’s palm and sends the giant arm swinging backwards. Instead of facing down the rapidly approaching projectile, however, Sly just turns to Riki with a flat expression and leans out of the way. “Eeeeh?” Riki scrambles backwards and trips, falling on his backside with a thud. The rock sails over him and slams into a tree.

After the other Little Busters had finally tired of teasing Riki the previous night, they’d agreed to reconvene just outside city limits to help Rin teach her Pokémon a new move. The five are now spread around a small clearing in the woods to the northwest of the city, each with one of their Pokémon ready for action. Kyousuke has sent out his Infernape, while Kengo’s standing beside a Hitmonchan - a humanoid Fighting-type with hands reminiscent of boxing gloves and the ability to punch at incredible speeds - and Rin waits at the opposite side of the clearing with Lennon. As for why Rin’s training involves Riki and his Bonsly facing down a fully-evolved Rhyperior’s bullets?

Well, Riki’s not too clear on that part himself.

“Rikiiiii!” Masato rushes over in a panic after seeing Riki’s near miss. “Did it hit you? Are you okay? I’m so sorry!”

“Be more careful, you idiot, you could have hurt him!” Rin catches up and shouts at the top of her lungs. “Why’d you have Delta shoot it that way? Is hitting Riki fun for you?”

As Masato flits around him checking for injuries, Riki grimaces and speaks up. “…I don’t think this is gonna work. How is Sly supposed to hit something like that back at you? And how does having me try to return your attacks help us teach Lennon to use Rock Smash, anyways?”

“It’s simple.” Kengo shoos Masato away and offers a hand to help Riki up. “I’ve already done my best as a Move Tutor, but Lennon still needs to practice before we can be sure he’s learned to use it properly. By hitting these rocks back and forth and building a combo, we can get him into the flow of our moves until hopefully he’s ready to finish the job.”

“Uh… huh.” Riki’s not quite sure he gets it, but that’s not really the pressing part anyways. “And… Why start with me?

“Because it’s awesome!” Riki almost falls backwards again as Kyousuke slides in front of him, pumping his fist. “If you and Rin focus on mastering this together, then it could turn into the super-powerful combo move you pull out when things are looking grim!”

“Super-powerful? It’s Rock Smash! And I thought the point was to teach Lennon to use it on his own,” Riki fires back. “Anyways, it doesn’t matter - Delta’s attacks are just too strong! How can we expect Sly to face off against something like that?”

“With guts!” Masato interjects, thumping his chest. “Just tell Sly that I believe in him!”

“Mhm.” Nodding along, Kyousuke backs him up. “Masato gets it! Just dig deep in yourselves, and you and your Pokémon will find the courage to overcome any obstacle!”

“It doesn’t matter how deep I dig, a baby Pokémon can’t stand up to an attack from something that’s already evolved twice! Some things just can’t be done!” Riki’s face starts to go red as he glares at his friends. “I thought we were going to [I]help Rin/I], not just spend all morning messing with me! I’m not going to get my Pokémon hurt just because you got swept up in your manga again!”

“…” Seeming to realize he’s pushed too far, Kyousuke gives up with a sigh. “Fine. I guess Maeda and I will have to start instead. Masato, if you will?”

Kengo ruffles Riki’s hair on his way back to his position. “Don’t worry, Riki,” he says as Delta swings its arm around to face Kyousuke’s Infernape. “This way, Sly won’t have to hit the ball until we’ve slowed it down a bit.”

“Alright, I guess…” Riki crouches down and pats Sly at the base of its ‘pot.’ “…I’m sorry. Are you willing to try, one more time?” The Bonsly stares back at him for a moment, then gives a soft cry and nuzzles up to his hand. “Okay, then.” Riki straightens up and his Pokémon steps in front of him just as the new Rock Blast fires.

“Now! Mach Punch!” At Kyousuke’s shout, Maeda leaps forward to meet the oncoming projectile fist-first. There’s a resounding thwack, and the stone sails towards Riki’s feet.

At its trainer’s shout of “Sly!” the Bonsly braces itself and swings its head at the approaching rock. Sly skids backwards a foot from the impact, but it successfully bats the stone away.

Kengo’s gaze follows their makeshift ball as it pops up in a high, slow arc. “A good first try, but hits like that won’t be enough. Hitmonchan, show Riki how it’s done with a Bullet Punch!” The Fighting-Type waits in a ready stance as the group watches the stone drop like, well, a stone. Then, once its target reaches eye-level, its fist lashes out with machine-gun speed and shoots the rock back at Sly.

Riki shouts in surprise, but this time the Bonsly connects a solid hit, sending the rock towards Rin. Lennon jumps in front of her, leaping into the air and swinging its paw downwards to connect with the stone. Rather than splintering into pieces, however, the rock plows straight through Lennon’s attack and sends the cat flying into a tree behind it. “Aah! Are you okay?” Startled, Rin runs to catch her Pokémon, and glares at Riki from the base of the tree. “Be more careful, you idiot, you hurt him! Why’d you have Sly knock it that way? Is hitting Lennon fun for you?”

“Eeeeh? Isn’t training Lennon the point here? And wait, the cat got the same reaction as me?”

...

“Here, Lennon. Have some more Potion.” Riki looks on, bemused, as Rin dotes on her Pokémon. “Do you feel better now?”

“...I’m not the weird one here, right? I mean, wasn’t she the one who wanted to participate in Pokémon battles? How is Lennon getting hit like this any different?” Riki sighs. “I’m actually starting to feel bad...”

“Eh,” Masato shrugs. “Rin’s just weird, sometimes.”

“No, I’m pretty sure there’s a difference between this and when you got her Mon Petit all over the floor trying to use it as a training weight…”

“Uwooooh! Riki, how could you betray me like this!!!” Masato clutches his face in mock pain.

“Anyways, that aside…” Riki brushes off Masato’s theatrics and walks over to crouch next to Rin. “Are you sure you want to keep doing this? It doesn’t seem to be working…” Although the group has repeated the process several times now, racking up longer and longer combos before passing it to the Litten, it still can’t seem to break the stone. Every attempt ends with the same thing: Lennon being knocked away, and Rin working herself into a greater and greater fury. “At this point, don’t you think we should give up?”

“Mm…” Rin keeps her gaze locked on the cat Pokémon. “I’m sure it’s hard for you, Lennon… What do you think?”

Lennon responds with a low growl, and stands back up to face Delta.

“Alright, then.” Rin nods and turns to the others. “He wants to try one more time.”

The Little Busters take up their positions once more, and Delta levels one of its hand-cannons at Riki. “Delta, use—“

“Sly, use Rock throw!” Before Masato can even finish speaking, Riki’s Bonsly is already swinging its head to make contact with the oncoming projectile. With a satisfying crack, the stone sails straight towards Kyousuke. Maeda intercepts with a roundhouse kick that returns it right back to the sender, but Sly swings again and sends it tumbling through the air towards Kengo’s Hitmonchan.

“Now! Vacuum Wave!” Kengo shouts and his Pokémon answers, rapidly spinning one of its fists until it creates a vortex in the air that picks up the stone and flings it away - right at Delta, which doesn’t even wait for a command before swinging one arm down in a forceful hammer blow. Riki hardly has time to wonder whether Masato’s Pokémon dislikes him for some reason before Sly strikes the approaching rock again, this time sending it towards a wide-eyed Rin.

“No! It’s not ready yet! Maeda, don’t let Lennon get near it!” At Kyousuke’s command the Infernape makes an acrobatic leap and cartwheels into the stone, sending it off course so that Hitmonchan has to jump into the air and hit it back with a downward spike. Delta slams its head straight into the approaching rock, forcing Riki to clumsily toss Sly into its path so the Bonsly can hit it back. Hitmonchan and Maeda are forced to dive for the stone more and more often as the trajectories grow wilder, and Riki can tell that Sly’s reaching its limit.

“Delta! Use Brutal Swing!” Masato’s Rhyperior whirls around, letting its tail lash into the rock the next time it comes near, and it flies back to Riki one last time. It’s now or never.

“Sly, now! Copycat!” Sly imprints Delta’s last move into its memory and swings its head around in imitation, meeting the oncoming projectile right where its three fake branches intersect. The stone flies straight and true, barreling down on Rin.

“I believe in you, Lennon!” Rin cheers her Pokémon on, and with a determined yowl Lennon pounces directly into the oncoming trajectory. “You can do it! Use Rock Smash!” Lennon’s claws flash red as it swipes its front paw into the center of the rock, and a blast of heat sends dust and rubble flying every which way. Riki covers his eyes, and when the dust settles, he’s greeted by the sight of Rin’s Litten calmly licking itself as rock shards clatter to the ground around it.

It takes a moment, but once he registers what’s happened he can’t help but cheer. “You did it! Guys, it actually worked!”

Rin crouches down and opens her arms so her Pokémon can bound up into a hug. “Good job, Lennon! You deserve extra treats tonight!” As the cat Pokémon rubs up against her cheek, she pauses and tilts her head. “Oh, but… I don’t want Santa to feel left out,” she mutters under her breath. “…Alright, then. Extra treats for everybody.”

“Well done, Rin.” Kengo claps Rin on the shoulder, causing her to jump. She whirls around and presses her back against a tree for a moment before relaxing. “Ah — I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. I just wanted to say, with this extra Type coverage your team should be ready to challenge the Gym before too long.”

Rin hums to herself for a moment before nodding and facing Kengo. “Mm… Alright. When do I start?”

“I’d still give it some time,” Masato pipes up. “Your team may be almost ready, but that doesn’t mean that you are.”

“Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?” Rin’s voice rises in pitch, and she glares at Masato.

“You mean how she reacted to Kengo there, right?” This time, it’s Kyousuke who speaks.

“Exactly,” comes Masato’s reply. “If she’s this on edge just dealing with us, then standing up to the Gym Leader is a lost cause.”

“Wh— I can do it! Just watch me! Where’s the Gym?” Rin starts tromping back towards the city.

Kengo steps in front of her. “Really? What if the leader was someone like me or Masato? Would you feel confident fighting one of us if we weren't your friends?”

“Eh… I mean…” She wavers, eyes going wider.

“You’re right. She’s not ready yet.” Kengo nods at Masato before turning back to Rin. “Then, you’ll challenge the Gym at the end of the week. That’s when Kyousuke’s job here should be done anyhow, right?” After waiting for Kyousuke’s confirmation, he continues. “We’ll keep working with you until then. Not just training your team, but helping you train yourself, as well.”

“Umm…” Finally finding a chance to get a word in, Riki interjects. “In that case… Do you still need me for this…?”

“Hm?” Kengo blinks. “No, I suppose not. Why?”

“I kind of… promised I’d be somewhere.” Riki scratches the side of his head and looks at the ground, desperately hoping the others don’t get the wrong idea again.

There’s a pause before Kengo replies. “Ah… right. I’m sorry, I hope we haven’t made you late. See you later, Riki.”

“Yeah. See you later.” Riki nods to each of the others in turn, and heads back towards the city.

——

Riki stops by a grocery store before heading to the roof. Yesterday, Komari tried to connect with him by offering him some of her food, so…

“I really hope she’s not only eating sweets,” he murmurs. “Well, maybe this’ll at least help a little…” Picking out a container of salad leaves and a juicy-looking Aspear Berry - hopefully she won’t mind the sour taste, because he’s always found the tart juices more palatable than anything overly sweet - he’s about to hunt down some dressing when a voice interrupts him.

“So you’re going back to that friend, Riki?” It’s Kyousuke, leaning against a shopping cart with his arms crossed. Riki glares and walks past, and Kyousuke’s forced to hurriedly catch himself as his weight sends the cart rolling away. “Wait! Wait, I’m sorry about teasing you yesterday. I guess we went a bit too far.”

“Aah… Alright. If you’re not here to bring that back up, then…” Riki brightens a little. He can never seem to stay mad at Kyousuke. “What is it?”

“I just wanted to ask about the real reason why you’re so interested in this girl. It’s rare for you to get this focused on something other than the Little Busters.”

“Mm. I promise, it really isn’t anything like what Kengo was implying.” Riki closes his eyes and shakes his head gently. “It’s not about that at all. It’s just…” He brings a hand to his chest. “…She’s like me, you know? Like I was, back before I met you.”

“…Ah.” Kyousuke speaks softly. “You mean, she’s…”

“Yeah. She’s also lost someone. I just… I want to be there, the way you were for me. To be the one who can show her that she doesn’t have to be alone.” Riki lets his hand unfold from its place against his chest and drop until it’s resting in the air in front of him, nearly perpendicular to his torso with its palm facing up. “One day, when I’m ready… I want to reach out my hand, and say to her, ‘Welcome to the Little Busters.’” Kyousuke doesn’t respond for a moment, and Riki lets his hand drop. “…Sorry. I know it’s stupid. I shouldn’t be trying to do this all on my own…”

Kyousuke shakes his head, a strange smile on his face. “No. I think it’s a wonderful sentiment, actually.” He seems to hesitate, before placing a hand on Riki’s shoulder. “Riki, listen. I want you to know… I’m proud of you, okay? No matter what.”

“Kyousuke…” The two stand there for a moment, before Kyousuke removes his hand and steps aside.

“…Well, then. If this is something you have to do yourself, then… We’re all rooting for you.” Kyousuke grins. “Go and bring us a new member, alright?”

Riki nods. “Yeah. All right. I promise, by the end of the week, I’ll become good enough friends with Komari to have her meet you guys!” Before he realizes it, he’s wearing a matching grin. “The Little Busters rock!”

“Yeah! The Little Busters rock! Woohoo!”

“The Little Busters rock!”

“The Little Bu—“ Kyousuke’s latest shout is cut off by the sound of somebody clearing his throat. A burly man in an apron is glaring at them.

“Pipe down, you two. You’re making a racket.”

“Ah— right. Sorry.” Kyousuke grimaces. “Er… anyways. Riki, I’ll let you get back to your shopping.”

“Aha… r, right.”

——

Half an hour later, Riki finds himself climbing the fire escape behind the Gym once more. In his hands are two translucent plastic containers, each carrying a fork and a portion of his salad. A chilly wind blows past him, and he looks up towards the roof.

…Hey, Komari. I know this world can be cold, and harsh. But, I promise you that there are also friends out there who can share your burden.

He steps off of the stairs and walks across the rooftop. Once again, Komari is sitting on the other side, her back against the fence.

She looks up at the sound of his footsteps.

“Oh… Hello, Riki. You really did come back, huh?”

I’m nothing special, but I’m going to introduce you to some really awesome people. I’m sure that with them, every day can be fun for you too.

Riki forces his insecurities down, and smiles across the roof at her. Right now, he needs to be confident and full of energy - somebody who can drag her along in his wake, the same way Kyousuke did.

I’ll say this to you as soon as I can.

“Hey.” He sits down and offers her one of the boxes. “Do you want some? I brought extra, just in case. It’s important to eat healthy food, too.”

So just be patient a little longer. Okay?

------


A Clarifying Note: Technically, Litten cannot learn Rock Smash in any of the trainer games it appears in.

However, none of those games *has* a Rock Smash TM, or even a Move Tutor for it. What's more, Torracat's Pokédex entry describes it being able to punch with enough force to bend steel. Between that and the fact that a lot of different Pokémon can learn the move, I think it's reasonable to assume that if Litten was available in a generation with a Rock Smash HM or TM, it *would* be able to learn it. As such, I'm allowing it to learn the move here.

Updated Pokémon Teams:
Kengo Miyazawa:
Spoiler:
"Scyther" - Male - Scyther
"Meditite" - Male - Meditite
"Hitmonchan" - Male - Hitmonchan
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???