Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted 7 Hours Ago
106 posts
12.3 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
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???


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
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???


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. I’m also going to try my best to have a chapter ready every Monday, in order to train my own writing abilities. (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.)

Alright, then, the time has come. Let’s leap into the world of Pokémon!
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted 7 Hours Ago
106 posts
12.3 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 streat, 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 3 Hours Ago
Posted 7 Hours Ago
106 posts
12.3 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 speaks with a serious expression. “I was going to ask you and Rin to come with me.”

“Come… with you?” Riki glances at Rin, who looks as uncertain as he feels. “I mean… If it lets us all stay together then of course I’ll go, but… won’t Rin and I 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 Masato, Kengo, and I 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
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???
??? - ??? - ???