Pokémon OPEN Pokémon Spear [M] [IC] Page 24

Started by Jay October 24th, 2020 1:52 AM
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Foxrally

Age 23
ya boi
a Torterra's back
Seen 1 Day Ago
Posted 2 Weeks Ago
2,733 posts
8.8 Years
Simon Pearburgh
Vivillon ♀
Tackle | Stun Spore | String Shot | Poison Powder | Gust | Powder
Friend Guard
Mothim ♂
Protect | Hidden Power (water) | Electroweb | Quiver Dance | Gust | Confusion
Compound Eyes
Shedinja
Shadow Claw | Confuse Ray | Spite | Mud-Slap | Endure
Wonder Guard
Snom ♀
Powder Snow | Mirror Coat | Struggle Bug | Icicle Spear
Ice Scales
Nevermeltice (held)
Princess ♀
Electroweb | Spider Web | Fury Cutter | Beat Up | Absorb | Thunder Wave
Swarm
Metal Flower Crown (held)
Larvesta ♂
Flame Charge | String Shot | Ember | Morning Sun | Flame Wheel | Leech Life
Flame Body
Heat Rock (held)
Anorith ♂
Dig | Water Gun | Ancient Power | Aqua Jet | Rapid Spin | X-Scissor
Swift Swim

Spoiler: Inventory
ATC
Nevermeltice
*
held by Snom

Heat Rock
*
held by Larvesta

Metal Flower Crown
*
held by Princess

Luxury Ball
Bug Net
Phantom Force TR
Arm Thrust TR
Wishing Star
A bunch of cinnamon buns
Spewpa Plushie
Fanart of Simon
Heracross Knight Comics
Piers & Marnie Album
Mew Book
Badges: 3
Grass badge
Water badge
Fire badge

Spoiler: Memories
~ NPC LIST ~
--- Wedgehurst ---
#1 - Caterpie joins the team!
#2 - The Mail Thief, pt. 1
#3 - The Mail Thief, pt. 2
#4 - Meet Sachiko
#5 - Train Battle!
--- Southern Wild Area ---
#6 - Burmy joins the team!
#7 - Snom joins the team!
#8 - Meet Raphael
#9 - Spirits Entombed
#10 - Meet Ruben
#11 - Suited Men Encounter!
--- Motostoke ---
#12.1 - Stadium Entrance [MEGA JP]
#12.2 - Opening Ceremony [MEGA JP]
#12.3 - New Beginningd [MEGA JP]
#13 - Motostoke Gym Mission
#14 - VS Kabu
#15 - Lunch with Sachi
#16 - Joining Blackspear
#17 - A Mysterious Egg
--- Route 3 ---
#18 - Meet Rosa
#19 - VS Rosa
#20 - Christmas Delivery
#21 - VS Catherine
--- Galar Mine 1 & Route 4 ---
#22 - Meet Aurora
#23 - Joltik joins the team!
#24 - Meet Pia
#25 - VS Oleana
#26 - Ferrothorn Rescue
--- Turffield ---
#27 - Blackspear Delivery
#28 - Turffield Gym Mission
#29 - VS Milo
#30 - Calling home
#31 - An Unexpected Interruption
#32 - VS Sachi, Rematch
#33 - Contest Date
#34 - Larvesta joins the team!
--- Route 5 ---
#35 - On the road again
#36 - Meet Jasper
#37 - VS Jasper
#38 - The young inventor
#39 - Meet Valerie
#40 - The Wishiwashi Squad!
--- Hulbury ---
#41 - Breaking & Entering pt. 1
#42 - Breaking & Entering pt. 2
#43 - Happy Birthday Raphael
#44 - Hulbury Gym Mission
#45 - VS Nessa pt. 1
#46 - VS Nessa pt. 2
#47 - VS Tristan
#48 - Heartbreak
--- Galar Mine 2 ---
#49 - Blackspear Security
#50 - A Power Boost
#51 - Black Suits in the mines pt. 1
#52 - Black Suits in the mines pt. 2
--- Motostoke (Revisit) ---
#53 - VS Kabu, Rematch
#54 - A point to prove
#55 - VS Catherine, Rematch
#56 - Strength
#57 - Blackspear Mission Briefing
--- Northern Wild Area ---
#58 - Meet Xan
#59 - Psychic Testing
#60 - Reconciliation
#61 - Teambuilding
#62 - The calm before the storm
#63 - The Pinsir Mission
#64 - Fighting back
#65 - One last hope
#66 - For better or for worse
--- Hammerlocke ---
#67 - Fatherly advice
#68 - Common ground
#69 - VS Nigel?
#70 - The Plan
#71 - Hammerlocke contest
#72 - Birthday surprise
--- Route 6 ---
#73 - Training
#74 - VS Aeliana
#75 - Bureaucracy
#76 - Meet Melody
#77 - Wishing upon a star
--- Stow-on-side ---
#78 - Meet Chloe
#79 - Stow-on-Side Gym Mission
#80 - VS Bea
#81 - VS Zelkova
#82 - Shedinja (re-?!)joins the team

Stow-on-side Stadium

Nearly a week had passed since Simon’s last battle against Bea. After properly inaugurating Shedinja into the team, he'd doubled down on training and spent the entire week studying challenger's battles against the fighting-type leader, down to every single move her Pokemon had. He noted Catherine's use of Spore to quickly dispose of the Sirfetch'd; if he could stack status effects and hindrances like poison and paralysis early on, he'd have a good chance of actually leaving Vivillon standing for the first leg of the fight, which could open up Paralysis on the Machamp too, and mitigate the devastating power of No Guard.

He'd briefly considered picking Shedinja for the battle - the ghost-type would be completely immune to Bea's fighting-type hits after all - but if Anorith's attack had been any indication, it would crumple against Machamp's Rock Slide just like Mothim had, if not worse.

It was around noon, and as Simon stepped into the lobby again he noted that the crowd was much smaller than it had been a week ago. The people waiting in line were definitely… different from the Bea fans. At first glance he could've easily mistaken them for Spikemuth tourists - though he knew Melody and Haleigh weren't battling today - based on their strange attires, which consisted of shirts and tops with skulls, ghosts and other spooky designs on them, as well as several dark and ghost-type Pokemon at their sides. Most notably, though, a lot of them seemed to be wearing plain white masks, reminiscent of Allister's. He felt several of the bugs crawl deeper into his pockets and their grip on his shoulders tighten in anxiety.

Simon raised an eyebrow as he walked past the queue and headed to the challenger counter. The man at the front greeted him with a smile, "Ah, mister Pearbugh! I'm happy to see you return."

Simon gave a determined nod. "I've come to rematch Bea."

“Ah…” The attendant shook his head. "I'm sorry, but Miss Bea is away training for the weekend. Master Allister is the only one available to challenge today."

"Oh, damn…" Simon's shoulders dropped. "I guess I should've checked the schedule... I'll be back later, then."

"Wonderful. We can't wait to see your rematch." the man replied. As Simon turned around to leave, Shedinja suddenly materialized in front of him.

“Gah!” Simon jumped back, startled, “Stop doing that!”

The ghost hummed and motioned towards the stadium, then back at Simon.

“Huh? Seriously?” Simon raised his eyebrows.

Shedinja closed its eyes and nodded again, gently rattling the shard in its body. It wanted to face down Allister. Simon didn’t know why, but there was a determination in the bug’s voice that made the request almost seem personal - a strange tone coming from the usually laid-back bug.

Simon tapped his chin for a moment and thought about it. He had watched the Allister matches too, albeit less closely… and he didn’t want to risk being even more behind on the challenge - at this point, Raphael would get to Ballonlea before he finished this gym. “You know what-” he said, looking at the ghost. “Let’s do it!”

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

The crowd cheered as Simon stepped once again into the Stow-on-side arena. The decoration was visibly different this time around, all of the previously-orange colours had been switched an eerie mauve, and Simon could swear the lights were dimmed in the stadium compared to when he’d fought Bea.

At the other end of the field was none other than the ghost-type gym leader, Allister. He was dressed in his proper gym uniform and looked a lot more official than the last time Simon had seen him, despite still wearing his trademark white mask. As Simon approached him the boy gave a timid wave.

“I… didn’t expect to see you here, Simon.”

The bug catcher grinned and pointed at himself. “What can I say, I’m a big fan of Stow-on-side. Wanted to experience the full spectrum of gyms and whatnot.”

Allister chuckled. “Your m-match against Bea was pretty cool… I was a bit sad when you lost…”

Simon waved off the comment and shook his head, “Pft, I just needed to warm up is all! Now I’m here for business.”

Allister’s expression darkened behind his mask and a glint appeared in his eye. “....is that so? Let’s find out.”

Simon gulped.

The announcer’s voice boomed through the stadium. “Ladies and gents, get ready for a much-anticipated battle! Challenger 412 has returned once more for a rematch - but not against who we expected! Will his team of iconic insects surpass the ghostly might of Allister's sinister specters?”

The two made their way to opposite sides of the field and released their Pokemon.

“Go, Cursola!”

“Knock ‘em deader, Snom!”

Both Pokemon appeared before their trainers, Cursola letting out a low howl and Snom screaming out a war cry, happy to finally be in the spotlight again. The crowd’s cheers grew even louder upon seeing the feisty ice-type, spurring her on even further.

Trainer and Leader waited for the referee’s call with bated breath. "Get ready… begin!"


“Kick us off with Powder Snow!” Simon called out as soon as he heard the referee’s whistle, looking to immediately pile on the pressure. “And keep your distance!” He remembered how Allister had used Cursola’s perish body to stall out previous challengers - and Simon wasn’t going to let that happen now. While he’d hoped for Runerigus, he’d expected the gym leader not to hand him the type advantage so easily.

Snom shot out a flurry of snow at her opponent, hitting Cursola’s ectoplasm with a blast of cold. The tips of its branches became tipped with frost as it retracted slightly into its shell. Allister quickly retaliated, “Mirror Coat!”

Cursola’s body was briefly encased in a pink light, before suddenly bursting outwards, shooting white rays back at Snom. The bug grunted as she took the brunt of the hit, but managed to hold her ground.

“Now, Will-o-wisp!” Allister followed up, as his Cursola fired off a ghostly purple flame towards Snom.

“Dodge left, then Powder Snow again!” Simon called out. Snom squeaked and managed to avoid the slow-moving flame before blasting more snow at the ghost.

“Mirror coat, again!”

Once more, Cursola’s body reacted to the hit, glowing with light before sending the damage back at Snom.

Simon looked at the gym leader, “Snom may be small, but she can take your attacks all day, and you can’t keep reflecting forever!”

“Don’t be so sure…” Allister responded mischievously. “Cursola, use Strength Sap!” The Pokemon let out a ghostly wail as its tendrils waved towards Snom. Suddenly, a green light began to seep out of the bug’s body, before coalescing and absorbing into Cursola’s, replenishing the frozen pieces of ectoplasm.

Simon had completely forgotten about that move - he was familiar with the Mirror coat strategy, and while snom had her Ice Scales to reduce damage, Cursola had healing - if they were going for a battle of attrition, it wouldn’t go in their favour. “Alright Snom, switching strategies - use Struggle Bug instead!”

Snom hissed as she shot out several waves of energy at her opponent, still maintaining her distance. The energy crashed into Cursola’s body again and Snom prepared another blast.

“Cursola, will-o-wisp again!” Allister commanded. Cursola began to shoot out several ghostly fireballs like a turret, hoping to hit Snom and ignoring the minor bug-type damage.

“Keep firing and dodging!” The ice-type, still straining to attack, did her best to dodge the projectiles - but after firing off a fourth Struggle Bug, she couldn’t move in time.

As the ghostly fire struck and her body momentarily erupted into purple flame, Allister doubled down; “Now, Hex!”

To the crowd’s surprise, Simon crossed his arms and ignored the command. “Do your worst!”

Snom’s body became surrounded with purple energy as the Cursola fired off its Hex - but to the crowd’s surprise, the little bug was barely reacting to the damage. Simon smirked; Struggle Bug’s secondary effect had done its job.

“Now, full power, lass! Powder Snow!”

Before Cursola could react, Snom released a massive burst of cold from her mouth, covering Allister’s Pokemon in ice like a snowstorm blowing over it. As the white cloud passed through, the ghost’s body was left behind, completely frozen.

“Alright! Then we slide this ice sculpture off the edge!” Simon commanded. Snom squeaked and skated forward, charging up Icicle Spear, ready to crash into her opponent and send it flying. As she knocked into the frozen ghost, sliding it off the arena and toppling into the pit, a glint appeared in Allister’s eye.

“...that was a mistake, Simon…”

“Wait, what?” Simon was confused at first, but then noticed that Snom… wasn’t looking so good. The bug hiccuped momentarily as the ghostly flame burn took over her body again, but on top of that, she seemed particularly drained after touching the ghost…

“Okay, Gengar… it’s on you now.” Allister said, releasing his ace onto the field.

“Uh, Snom, you good?” SImon called out. The bug took a moment to respond, but nodded vigorously, hissing off his concern. “Alright! Let’s keep it up, then, you got this! Powder Snow!”

The ice-type reared back to fire a blast of snow, but as she did so, another burst of flame appeared on her body, knocking her out of the attack and giving the Gengar enough time to capitalize.

“Shadow Ball!” Allister called out as Gengar lobbed a large ball of dark energy towards Snom.

The bug squeaked and rolled to the side, barely managing to dodge it. “Great job, Snom!” Simon cheered, and the bug prepared to attack again… but seemed a lot slower in responding.

“...Snom…?”

With a final squeak of exhaustion, the ice-type collapsed to the ground, the Perish body finally taking its toll on her. In a flash, Gengar zoomed towards the bug and picked her up before tossing her off the edge.

“Dammit! Should’ve known it was Perish Body…” Simon muttered to himself as he recalled Snom. “You did amazing, girl.”

And now… well, he’d been hoping to get further with Snom before it got to this. Simon took a deep breath as he reached into his pocket, and pulled out a Pokeball he hadn’t used in a long time.

“Go, Shedinja!”

For just a brief moment, Simon heard the crowd go almost completely silent, before erupting in a series of excited and somewhat curious cheers.

“Now that’s something you don’t see every day, ladies and gents! Challenger 412 has chosen a Shedinja as his final ace for this battle - certainly an unorthodox move from an unorthodox challenger! Ghost versus ghost, one wrong move and it’s all over!”

While the audience was going wild, Simon noticed Allister’s demeanor had changed. “Hold on, I… I remember you…” he said with surprise. “You’re…”

Simon looked at the boy intensely and nodded. “No holding back, Allister!”

“Okay.” Allister straightened up and nodded back. “Gengar, prepare a Shadow Ball!”

The bigger ghost floated up and began to charge a Shadow Ball in its hands.

“Focus on dodging, Shedinja, and get closer! Wait for my call!” Simon commanded. He hadn’t had much time to think of a solid strategy before the battle… but he had an idea of how to make this work.

Shedinja’s shell rattled loudly as the bug prepared for Gengar to fire, all the while moving closer and closer to its opponent. As it reached melee range, Simon threw his arm out, “Now, use Mud-Slap!”

Shedinja dove straight down and slammed its tail end into the dirt, kicking up a spray of mud into Gengar’s face. The ghost snarled angrily, largely unaffected by the damage, but now visibly more annoyed.

“Shadow Ball it now, point-blank!” Gengar growled and moved the gathered energy into its palm before slamming it into Shedinja.

“Endure!” Simon called out at the last moment. As Gengar’s fist met Shedinja, the bug’s body gleamed white and it was thrown backwards from the impact. Simon held his breath and watched the bug tumble through the dirt… before getting back up, purple smoke coming off of its body.

He let out a sigh of relief. They’d spent their only chance for that first mud-slap to connect - now, he had to hope it was worth it. “Great job! Now use Mud-slap again, but from a distance!”

“Shadow Ball again, Gengar!”

Shedinja ducked to avoid the attack and slammed its body into the dirt once more, spraying Gengar with more mud. Another Shadow Ball flew at it and Shedinja dodged again, barely this time. Simon could tell the bug was getting tired, but kept piling on the mud-slaps.

“Keep it up, Shedinja! Mud-slap!”

Shedinja slammed its body into the dirt one more time and blasted Gengar’s face with mud, before floating down to the ground, exhausted from the effort.

Allister pointed at the bug, “We’ve got it now, Gengar… Shoot it down!” Gengar nodded and charged up a Shadow Ball in its arms… then fired it off to the slide, completely missing its stationary target. The boy recoiled in surprise, “Gengar…?!”

Simon crossed his arms and smirked, “Got some dirt in your eye?”

Gengar snarled and wiped at its face in frustration. Allister straightened up and both of his purple eyes seemed to shine under his mask. “We’ll just have to go melee then… Gengar, attack!”

Gengar cried out and charged at Shedinja, charging up another point-blank Shadow Ball in its hand.

“Shedinja, use Spite! And then…” Simon pulled out a disc from his pocket and slotted into his Pokedex, the very same disc Allister had given him. “Dodge with Phantom Force!”

Shedinja floated up again and stared at Gengar with glowing purple eyes. Then, moments before the ghost could hit it, it leaned backwards and vanished into a portal.

A few seconds later, Shedinja reappeared on the other side of the battlefield and waved at Gengar. The larger ghost roared and charged again, Shadow Ball in hand.

“Again!” Once more, Shedinja’s eyes glowed red and stared Gengar down, before zipping backwards into a ghostly portal and reappearing a few feet away.

“You can’t keep running forever, Simon…” Allister said, pointing at the trainer eerily.

“Don’t be so sure!” Simon winked back, echoing the gym leader’s earlier words.

As Gengar charged forward again, the ball in its hand seemed to be much smaller than before. It let out another frustrated shout as the fist aimed for Shedinja hit nothingness again, and the ball once again grew even smaller.

“One more time, Spite!” Simon called out. Shedinja nodded and stared at Gengar one final time, holding its ground.

As Gengar’s palm met Shedinja’s body, the larger ghost smirked and waited for the bug to be pushed back… but nothing happened. Its smile dropped and eyes grew wide as it looked at its hands.

”Astounding! After so many uses, coupled with the effects of Spite, it seems Gengar is unable to conjure any more Shadow Balls!”

The ghost-type cried out in confusion as it flailed its hands, smacking them into Shedinja desperately. Its expression turned to panic as it began to fire off other attacks, slapping a sludge wave and venoshock onto Shedinja, both of which bounced uselessly off the bug’s body.

“Gengar, stop! We have to-” Allister began, but the ghost-type was now in a frenzy, screaming over its trainer’s orders and slapping innective poison attacks onto its opponent.

“Let’s end this, Shedinja! Shadow claw!” Simon called out.

The bug hummed and spun around, ghostly claw marks appearing around it which slashed at Gengar. The poison-type grunted and attempted to hold its ground, but Shedinja continued its assault, slashing continuously and pushing it back further and further, until finally, with one last Shadow Claw, Gengar was thrown back, flying out of the arena and falling into the pit.

“CHALLENGER 412 HAS DEFEATED GYM LEADER ALLISTER!”

The audience erupted into cheers as Simon ran onto the field to hug his Pokemon. The bug gave a satisfied hum as Simon held it in his arms, then raised it to the crowd triumphantly.

“You bet you’ve earned yourself a cinnamon bun, lad!” Simon cheered.

“That was… pretty amazing, Simon…” he heard Allister’s voice behind him. Simon jumped a little; he hadn’t even seen the gym leader come up to him. “M-maybe even cooler than Bea’s battle… and that doesn’t h-happen very often…”

It was a bit weird to see the boy shift from his battle stance to his usual timid self, but Simon laughed it off. “It’s all on my team!” he said, patting Shedinja on the head as the bug rattled happily. “And you’re a pretty incredible opponent.”

“Th-thank you…” Allister rubbed his arm bashfully and looked away, then perked up as if remembering something. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a metal pin, handing it to Simon. “It’s my pleasure to hand you… the ghost badge.”

Simon held the pin in his hand, watching it glimmer in the light. Now, he had a message to send. He looked back at Allister and motioned towards his microphone. “May I?”

“Um, I don’t know if I should…”

Simon felt a tap on his shoulder, and suddenly noticed that Shedinja was now behind him with a wire microphone in its claws - and presumably an angry league official coming soon to get it back very soon. He smiled and took the device, looking at the audience once more as he spoke up.

“Thank you, everyone! And to whoever’s listening… I want you to know that I won’t give up! I never will, and the world will know Simon Pearbugh’s name!”

This was his fourth badge… but to him, it felt like his first. For once he’d beaten a gym leader himself. No outside help, no pity rule, but a fair-and-square victory. And nobody could take that away from him.

Paired to Gligar and gimmepie
Friend Code
SW-5146-5893-7210
I make memes and other carcinogens

Orx of Twinleaf

Branch into Psyche

Male
The Corner of Hither and Yon
Seen 3 Weeks Ago
Posted 3 Weeks Ago
268 posts
5.8 Years
Team:
Rij
Henj
Pelj
Kolj
Tonj
Tim T
Pelj and Kolj were sparring one another in the clearing, the little Rolycoly bobbing and weaving away from Kolj’s comparatively-clumsy strikes. Kolj the Relicanth didn't seem to complain much, and she applied herself well, but she was something of a slow learner. She had seemed quite impressed with Pelj’s fevered recounting of the Stow-on-Side Gym challenge, both the mission and the battle proper, as well as Henj’s own more measured additions. Now Kolj chased Pelj around, trying to keep up. She seemed more interested in the other mons than in Tim, barely sparing him much more than a glance whenever he came back from foraging. Relicanths apparently needed to eat, and this one readily ate the same things Tim did. Kolj seemed to do surprisingly well with only as much water as Tim and the others needed, which was rather contrary to what Tim thought he knew about fish.

Rij and Tonj were sitting out, having finished their own sparring. Rij was grazing idly as he ever did and Tonj was laying on his belly, shivering wearily. Unlike Kolj, Tonj the Boldore had if anything seemed disheartened by hearing about the events at the Gym. He participated in sparring as little more than a whining punching bag, and had started to draw in upon himself rather than mingle with the other Rocks during downtime. Whenever he was matched to Tim for sparring he didn't even attempt a token resistance, he just let himself be thrown around. Tonj shouldn't have survived to become a Boldore if he were such a pushover, but his behavior when Tim had first found him suggested perhaps an unusual upbringing. Maybe Tonj was once a pet, recently let loose into the wild? Whatever the case, he clearly didn't care for Tim’s style. It wasn't a big deal to keep him around—he’d only taken water once since Tim had found him and apparently didn't need food—but Tim would have to start thinking about an out for him if he didn't come around soon. Tim didn't like the idea of just giving up on Tonj, but he wasn't sure how much he would prefer the idea of abusing him either. Perhaps someone else might click with him?

On the other side of the clearing, Tim stood watching the four Rocks as he gnawed on a dirty root he’d ripped up earlier. Nearby, Henj stood, more stone-faced than usual. Tim looked at the Stonjourner thoughtfully.

Some Moves and Abilities had little if any outward indication of their functioning. It could be very difficult to tell Tackle from just any old mundane rush, and Abilities like Technician could have almost no visual effects to let on their activation. Further complicating matters, a given Move or Ability could look very different coming from two mons of even the same species—or even from the same individual, as regularly shown off by the experienced mons used by Gym Leaders. Still, a dedicated eye could pick up on what minute tells there were, and Tim was justly rather proud of his knack for spotting such things. Henj the Stonjourner, like all Stonjourners, had the Power Spot Ability, which could regularly have no outward indicators at all. All the same, Tim recognized a certain tenseness to Henj that he didn't usually have when idle. And even if Tim didn't, he could still feel the mild indescribable surge in his breast that told him he was receiving Power Spot. Henj was giving his Power Spot out to Tim and most likely to the others as well.

“Henj,” Tim said, putting down the other half of his root to save for supper, “what is the matter?”

Henj looked sidelong at Tim, a little ashamed at being called out. Tim felt the Power Spot leave him. After a moment, Henj mumbled low and gestured to the big trees ringing the clearing. This was indeed a clearing in a general sense, but it was still dark despite the light hour: a truly monstrous tree rooted some ways away stretched its immense canopy over the clearing’s opening. Tim had adjusted even through his shades at least as well as he had in the mines: the strange glowing mushrooms scattered about were about as bright as the crystal formations had been, if not brighter.

Tim looked around for a moment. “Does this forest make you nervous?”

Henj looked down at the ground. He of course lacked the anatomy to nod, but Tim took Henj’s short response as one of affirmation.

Tim had never known Henj to be shy of darkness. “Are you afraid of spirits?” Tim asked instead. Tim had personally never had any real personal experience with spirits, but he wasn't daft enough to deny their existence the way some people might. Tim wasn't scared of the idea though: as far as he could tell spirits were some manner of illusory. As distressing as they might be to encounter, Tim doubted they could cause direct physical harm to an adult human, much less to a Stonjourner. “Henj, spirits can't hurt you.”

Henj seemed first irked, then ashamed, then irked again. He said something long-winded, eyes closed in thought. Pelj and Kolj seemed to have wrapped up their sparring because Pelj wheeled over, chittering with interest. Kolj was panting but she dragged herself over as well. Rij seemed to look over too, though he was still grazing. Tonj didn't respond: maybe he’d fallen asleep.

Tim had only rarely seen the other mons attend Henj in this fashion. Sometimes Tim would come back from foraging—an activity that Pelj only sometimes accompanied Tim with lately—to see the others around Henj while the Stonjourner spoke, but Henj would stop at Tim’s arrival and they'd all just go back to training. Henj sometimes spoke low to one or more of the others in the night too. Having thought on it since, Tim had gathered that Henj was apparently something of a storyteller. Understandably, Henj had never included Tim in such recitations.

But it rather seemed like Henj was launching into a story now in response to Tim’s remarks.

Tim curiously watched Henj speaking. Henj seemed to notice suddenly what he was doing: he stopped abruptly and looked at Tim thoughtfully. Tim had become quite good at gleaning the meaning of Henj’s gestures and intonations lately, but that wasn't sufficient to make sense of a narrative. Tim was prepared to dismiss the idea, but Henj addressed Pelj and Kolj. Pelj jumped up and down excitedly. Kolj seemed a little confused, but nodded to him. Rij turned his head fully to watch with more attention. Tonj still didn't move.

Henj turned to Tim and began speaking his low gibberish. He raised his arms to one side, hands joined, and then arced one over his head and to the opposite side like the sun moving across the sky. He reversed the gesture and then windmilled his arm slowly. He cast one arm away behind his back, looking after it.

A long time ago, in a place far away. Apparently.

Pelj put down a curtain of black smoke over herself while Henj spoke. Pelj’s eye and back flared dangerously as she wheeled out of it, cackling exaggeratedly. Kolj rather stiffly pretended to quiver in fear. Henj was saying something else and making more abstract gestures Tim couldn't follow. Pelj jabbered something at Kolj and the Relicanth made a stilted attempt to swoon in despair as Pelj covered both of them in another curtain. The curtain cleared to show Pelj alone, eye glowing menacingly. Tim saw Kolj end her Dive behind Henj, trying to stay out of sight.

From these theatrics, Tim gathered Henj was telling some sort of old folktale about someone who ended up getting spirited away. Henj seemed ready to continue, but he cut himself off, apparently deciding that was enough of a snippet to get his point across. And likely also realizing that it would get increasingly difficult to keep this play going in a way that Tim could follow with only two actors.

Tim frowned a little. “Thank you for sharing with me Henj,” Tim said. He meant it too, and hoped he expressed as much adequately. “And thank you, Pelj and Kolj, for helping me understand.” Pelj bounced under the praise. Kolj just seemed a touch nonplussed by the whole situation. Tim continued to Henj. “All the same, I must assure you you needn't be scared of spirits.” Henj seemed ready to protest, but Tim rode over him. “There are a lot of strange things in the world Henj: the authors of your story may have mistaken any number of things for common spirits.”

Tim didn't entirely believe his own words. It was a sensible position to hold, but it wasn't exactly much comfort: if the subject of Henj’s story wasn't a spirit then there remained some other strange thing to be scared of instead. And Tim was no medium either. He didn't really know the particulars of what spirits were or the extent of their danger to living things. He was resolved, however, not to be cowed by the notion any more than he was cowed by the notion of exposure, or malnutrition, or dying alone in the woods without a friend in the world.

Henj seemed uncertain. Tim was rather sure Henj gathered his point, but that the Stonjourner wasn't confident in his own ability to not be unnerved. None of the other mons seemed bothered by the idea of spirits, but they apparently took Henj’s words with special attention. If Henj was scared, he might pass that fear to the others. Pelj was already looking with keen interest at the giant tree looming over the clearing.

Tonj broke into Tim’s exchange with Henj to rumble a query at the Stonjourner. Tonj had apparently been listening after all, though the Boldore still hadn't moved. Henj answered a little hesitantly, looking at Tim. Tim shook his head: he wasn't interested in having Tonj’s remarks translated.

Tonj got up and turned towards Henj. The Boldore asked a different question that made Rij snort insultedly nearby. Tonj shivered a little but repeated the question. Henj frowned in thought and responded. Tonj trembled but announced something loudly at Tim that made the other mons blink in surprise.

Tim gathered from Tonj’s tone that Tonj was declaring intent of some sort. Tim turned to Henj for clarity. Henj seemed concerned. He gestured to Tonj, then at the treeline, then waved goodbye.

Tim approached Tonj. Tonj shrank against the ground a little. “You want to leave?”

Tonj hesitantly bounced his body in affirmation.

“Into the Glimwood Tangle? Alone?”

Tonj shivered.

Why?

Tonj didn't move. Henj stepped forward and made a sound to get Tim’s attention. Tim looked over and Henj put one blocky hand above his eyes, as if looking far away. He made a sad face and then reaching motions towards Pelj who, taking the cue, covered herself in smoke and cackled like she had earlier.

Tim gathered from this that Tonj wished to go in search of a spirit, and from further contexts concluded that Tonj had lost someone of import in his past—Tim had earlier considered that Tonj might have once been a pet, so maybe his owner had passed away? Tonj didn't seem to be mournful, though. Before he had withdrawn under the demeanor of Tim and the others, Tonj had behaved in a far more outgoing manner.

Tim understood Henj’s translation. To some degree, he understood what Tonj was asking, although he didn't perfectly grasp the particulars of it.

Tim understood.

Tim pretended not to.

“I am not so heartless as to let you wander off into these strange woods,” Tim told Tonj harshly. “You are out of your element here and sure to be set upon. It is not only spirits and their tricks in the wilderness, and a Boldore is not without its predators. You would need strength to make it through here safely.”

Tim knelt down and peered intensely into Tonj’s face through his shades. Tonj didn't have eyes of course, but regardless Tim got the feeling that, if Tonj did have eyes, Tonj would be avoiding his gaze. Tim had been considering looking into avenues to let Tonj go from the team, but he would have only taken such an out if it promised Tonj a reasonable chance of becoming better. It was a Trainer’s duty to better his or her mons. If Tim couldn't personally do so for Tonj, he was still obligated to find someone who could. He couldn't just give up.

Tim spat his next words with venom through his mustache. “You are weak, Tonj.”

Tim was aware of the other mons shuffling about, perhaps in shock or disapproval. Tim had never called any of his mons weak. He had never even thought of them as such. They all had weaknesses, but Tim didn't think of any of them as weak. Rij wasn't weak for being so cold. Henj wasn't weak for being so superstitious. Pelj wasn't weak for being so small. Even Kolj, new to the team, wasn't weak for being so new.

Tonj wasn't weak for being cowed by Tim, and Tim didn't think him weak for it. But Tim pretended to.

Tonj whined a little but then shakily stood up, getting in Tim’s face. He said something low like a threat, though it probably came out a good deal weaker than he’d been trying for. Tim stood up himself and crossed his arms, looking down at Tonj. The other mons had slowly formed a loose circle around the two, standing some distance, glancing at one another.

“Feel free to prove me wrong, Tonj,” Tim growled. “If you think yourself able to travel these woods alone, then I should be no match for you. Whatever could a human hope to do against a mon, right?”

Tonj shivered, uncertain. He mumbled something at volume, evidently to the other mons. None of them responded. Tim thought he saw Rij actively look away, as if shunning Tonj.

“Alone, Tonj,” Tim said again. “Alone.”

That seemed to trigger the Boldore significantly. Tonj galloped forward on his three legs in a Headbutt. The blow cracked into Tim’s waist and sent him rolling away a short distance. Tim came up on a knee. He shook his fist at Tonj, goading the Boldore into another charge. Tim’s other mons moved slowly as the battle moved, watching.

Tim rolled to the side to clear Tonj’s passage. He scythed one arm out into the inner bend of Tonj’s hindleg, hooking it into the bend of his arm. Tim stood up fast, hauling Tonj’s rear off the ground. Tonj kicked out in protest as he teetered forward, freeing Tim’s arm so Tim could rush under Tonj’s belly and flip him the rest of the way forward. Tonj crashed onto his back.

Whatever he might have been before he’d met Tim, Tonj had clearly not been much of a fighter. The Boldore sent a golden stone out from his inverted position but Tim dodged it easily, closed, and put his heavy boot between Tonj’s ears. Tonj yelped, kicking out with his forelegs in an attempt to back Tim off. Tim grabbed them, hauling back and to the side to roughly flip Tonj onto his belly again. Tim cheated a glance over to the nearest onlooker: Henj was watching Tonj with intense eyes, entirely focused on the Boldore over Tim.

Tim kicked Tonj in the teeth before backing off as the Boldore stood up. “With Power Spot no less,” Tim remarked. Henj blinked guiltily. “Tonj, if you can't fight a human, what are you going to do out there? What were you doing before I showed up? Prancing about without a care in the world?”

Tonj cried out, charging again. Tonj had Sandstorm, but wasn't using it. Tonj had Rock Polish, but wasn't using it. Again, it was clear Tonj had never been very much of a fighter: this behavior was little more than that of a pet lashing out. And pets didn't tend to make it in the long term in the wild.

Tim lowered himself into a brace to catch Tonj’s rush with one hand to either side of the Boldore’s face. Tonj pushed hard. Tim backed off to the side, letting Tonj stumble clumsily forward. Tim got a shoulder under Tonj’s flank. “Sloppy,” he grunted before hauling the Boldore clear over again. Tim watched as Tonj rocked upright. “Wild animals fight without thought. You are fighting me like a wild animal. If you hope to do that against those in these woods, you'll be against a home field advantage, Tonj.”

Tonj, upright, turned to fire a glowing pink heart. He had taken Tim’s advice. Unfortunately, he didn't have the experience to make much of it. Attract rarely worked on humans to begin with, but Tonj’s Attract had all of no chance of working on Tim. Tim swatted the heart with a quick swipe of his arm, shattering it into dying sparkles. “Wrong.”

Tim darted forward. Tonj made an amateurish attempt to sidestep it, but Tim grabbed the Boldore’s nearest foreleg to brake himself. Tonj wobbled and then Tim quickly climbed on top of him. Tim stood up, arms out for balance. Tonj attempted to shake but was evidently not accustomed to the extra weight: perhaps he should have been trying harder during Gravity training. Tim jumped up, brought his knees high, and then hammered both boots down into Tonj’s back.

Tonj flattened as Tim rolled off of him and clear. Tim got back up but Tonj stayed down. Tonj was likely almost twice as heavy as Tim himself was, and there wasn't a surface on his body that wasn't at least as hard as sandstone. Tim was already feeling sore in his feet and legs from kicking into a living boulder. Whether or not Tonj was a fighter, it wasn't easy for Tim to tussle with him. But Tim pretended it was.

Tim crossed his arms. “In a real, visceral fight you can never be sure of a fair exchange: even if you might have had me on the ropes, I have”—Tim searched for a word that would be more accurate than friends—“allies that would have stepped in to tilt the scales. And you would have been alone.”

Tonj made a keening noise into the ground. It was a horrible sound, like the sorts of awful sounds Rij had made back when he’d seen what Tim had seen. It rattled Tim’s chest. It made Tim’s eyes hot. It made Tim’s heart shiver.

Tim had made Tonj cry.

Tim couldn't look at the others. He made himself talk to cut that awful noise off, before his own voice broke in response to it. “In truth, Tonj, it wouldn't matter how strong you are.” Thankfully, Tonj stopped crying to listen. Tim felt his chest unknot. “When you're alone, strength is a cold companion. But you're not alone, Tonj.” Tim was aware of the other mons moving in closer now. He still couldn't look at them, and neither did he attempt to tell Tonj that they were of one group. Tonj hopefully took that as implied, because Tim couldn't make himself say Tim belonged in the same group as the mons did after making Tonj make such noises. “You haven't been engaging with your fellows, Tonj. You've been making yourself alone, but you don't have to remain so.”

Tim didn't miss the hypocrisy in his own remarks, but he hoped his mons did. Tim pretended he did.

Tim briefly considered telling the others to ease up on Tonj but decided it wouldn't do to have him coddled. Their treatment of him might not even have been wholly unprovoked. Tim recalled the Boldore had said something that had visibly incited Henj and Rij on their first meeting. That first impression had colored the team’s reception of him, and his refusal to participate had only bred further disdain. Hopefully, this episode would encourage him to engage with training, and in so doing thaw the others towards him. He didn't even need to be particularly charismatic either: everyone seemed generally fond of Rij and Rij barely ever spoke at all.

Sure enough, Tonj got to his feet determinedly. He still shivered a little, but he turned about to face in the direction of each of the other four for a moment. To Tim’s relief, they each returned Tonj’s approximation of eye contact with a small gesture. Even Rij cocked his head in response, and gave a snort. Tonj turned to face in Tim’s direction again. He grumbled very quietly, although Tim was able to gather he was asking for something.

“Yes,” Tim said without looking at Henj, before really thinking about what the question might have been. Tim couldn't be sure of the exact query, but he had understood it was a request for confirmation on what Tim had expressed. It seemed to satisfy Tonj. “Now,” Tim said, “break’s over. Back to training. First, we’ll run laps.”

Tim waited for the other mons to walk to the edge of the clearing before going himself, to hopefully stay behind them so they wouldn't see him walking funny: his legs were especially sore after kicking Tonj with them. Tonj stood facing Tim for a little longer before turning to follow the others quickly.

Tonj wasn't alone. He had the others. Tim didn't.

Tim might understand them better now, and he might have had objective proof in the efficacy of his training in the Gym Badges, but Tim wasn't one of them. As much as he might wish to be, he wasn't. Tim could glean their meaning, but he couldn't share their words, couldn't know their dreams. Even should Tim talk to them, the best they could do was talk at him in response. Tim wasn't a Pokémon. Tim was a Trainer. He wasn't a babysitter. He wasn't a confidant.

Tim wasn't a friend.

But he pretended to be.
A Cup of Dreams, Pour in Your Soul, a Pinch of Knowing, Stir in with Hope,
and Drink to Despair and Celebration: Drink it All and Stay Asleep, Drink in Parts and Vomit it Back
Joy, Relief, Fury, Fear, Sorrow, Longing, and Pain, Colors that Forever Cope
Despondency and Guilt with Ambition and Pride, No One of this World and Species may Truly Lack

Sapphire Rose

Only thorns left on this rose.

Age 26
Female
Over the hills and far away.
Seen 4 Hours Ago
Posted 12 Hours Ago
3,307 posts
10.4 Years
Pia McGuire & Catherine Carlisle
Poké: 5550 Pokémon: 4



Detective on the case




Catherine had been expecting the Pokemon Centre to be noisier with so many gym challenges pouring in from the harsh desert of Route 6. It seemed she had managed to find her way into a smaller, more out of the way centre though.

There were very few trainers or staff present, no accommodations available and where many centres might have had some sort of store or cafe or something attached, this one had only a refreshment table with an ancient-looking teapot sitting on, ironically holding sticks of sugar and tea bags more than anything else, some styrofoam cups and a large electronic water heater. A plate of stale biscuits was on offer, but Catherine decided to give the unpleasant looking snacks a pass. She didn’t need to send herself to a dentist with shattered teeth while her Pokemon were getting patched up.

“Pretty, isn’t it?”

Catherine looked up, a middle-aged woman dressed in the PokeCentre’s uniform was standing uncomfortably close to her, smiling wildly.

“Excuse me?” Catherine asked.

“Oh, I thought you were admiring the teapot.”

“It’s okay, I suppose I’m not really an expert on antiques.”

The nurse chuckled to herself. “I wouldn’t say I’m an expert either, but even I can tell it’s wasted being used to hold sticks of processed sugar. But our boss insists that something pretty might as well sit on the table. We’re a bit underfunded compared to the other PCs in Stow-on-Side, but we do our best to at least keep things looking nice.”

Catherine nodded. She supposed it made sense that not all Pokemon Centres were funded equally, especially when some of them were sitting around not actually doing much.

“If you’d like, I can tell you where to find a bunch of stuff just like it. A friend of mine is an antiques dealer on Market Street. You’d be doing them a favour.”

“Well when you put it like that,” Catherine said, “I suppose I can stop by when I’m done here. I’m not really planning on doing anything much before tomorrow. My team deserves the break.”




The aptly named Market Street was the exact opposite of the Pokemon Centre in a lot of ways. While the PC had been pretty much empty, here there were throngs of people crammed onto the street, moving between various market stalls and shopfronts.

It wasn’t as hot as the desert she had just emerged from, but Catherine was immediately reminded of the stifling body heat radiating through Struggle Con. It was quite unpleasant. She reached down and gripped Indra’s hand. At least the crowd wasn’t quite as awful, this remained an option.

“Poli?”

“So we can’t get split,” Catherine answered.

Finding the location she had been given was proving difficult. She had been told to look for a stall with a sign that said Nickit’s Nicknacks. Unfortunately, through the mass of people, she could see no such thing.

“This should be the place,” Catherine said, looking down at an equally confused Indra. “But I don’t see any-”

“THIS IS BULLMUK!” A male voice yelled from a crowd of people nearby, “You should be calling yourself Thievul’s Thievery if what this young lady says is true!”

More shouts arose from a nearby gaggle of people, all clustered around a stall. Going by the specificness of that insult, Catherine was pretty sure she was at the right place… but not at the best of times.

“Guess we should go see what the big deal is, huh?” Catherine groaned.

“Poli.” Indra gave the affirmative.

Together the two of them began pushing their way through the crowd, hearing more shouts as they did so. One of them was familiar to both of them.

“I’m telling you, they’re counterfeits.”

“How can you be so sure?!”

“It doesn’t have the stamp of authenticity. Do I really need to keep repeating myself?”

The scene that played in front of Catherine’s eyes was that of a relatively short girl with long blonde hair accusing the item the person in front of her was now holding of being a false. Of course Catherine knew the figure all too well and immediately didn’t find it all too surprising that this person had found herself in the center of attention once again.

Catherine groaned, but felt honourbound to see the situation come to some sort of resolution. She pushed her way through the crowd with Indra, eventually finding herself standing next to the familiar sight of an irritated Pia. “You really can’t help yourself can you? What’s this mess all about?”

Pia followed the incoming Catherine with her eyes and with her hand resting on her waist she let out a sigh. Of all people.

“He’s selling these tea pots and cups as the real Rose Corsela porcelain tea sets but they lack the stamp of authenticity.” Pia rolled her eyes to which the man that was selling them crossed his arms in response. His peculiar nikkit facemask sat on the side of his head while he himself was wearing a yukata.

“Instead of tryin' to decide if it's real or not, it's more important to decide if ya really like it or not.” He spouted.

“That’s not the issue here.” Pia shot back. “Well, it is in a way… but despite that, you’re selling these as the real deal for the real price. You’re deceiving your customers and it’s highly disrespectful towards the artist.” As Pia spoke, the onlookers started discussing and whispering amongst themselves and even more of them started to leave the scene with disgusted expressions shot towards the store owner. “I will not stand for this.” Pia crossed her own arms.

Catherine sighed and looked at the store owner. “You know, your store was recommended to me, but I’m suddenly not that interested. I’m sure you have a good reason for bullmukting all these people though, so why don’t you just explain yourself instead of trying to make this Pia’s problem?”

“Look, I really did not know it wasn’t the real thing, ya hear me?” The Nikkit masked guy waved his hands in front of him with a sheepish smile. “I’m an honest man doin’ honest business. I’ll give ya’ll cousin discounts. How ‘bout da?”

“That won’t do.” Pia disagreed with a shaking head. “As I said before, it’s very disrespectful towards the artist to keep selling these. I’d prefer if you’d just wipe up this business or start selling “honest” products.” The shoulders of the man with the Nikkit mask lowered the more Pia lectured him. He almost seemed to be pouting at the dismissal of his ideas.

“Easier said than done, cousin. I’m not in charge of this shop.”

“Then who is?” Catherine said, “We can take the complaint to them instead of wasting your time, our time and the time of everyone else here while we’re at it.”

The nikkit masked store owner shrugged and shook his head. “Ya bet is as good as mine. The collaborator is anonymous. The goods are brought to me. Since the goods were just tea pots and tea cups I saw no harm. They’re pretty, ain’t they?”


“That never struck you as suspicious?” Catherine glared at the salesman. “I think it’s more likely you chose not to think about it because really you knew the chances of getting the real deal. Tell us where we can find your supplier and we can be done with this.”

The man with the nikkit mask now started to rub the back of his head now that he was being interrogated by not one, but two girls. He looked away from them, being a bit uncomfortable as he stood there in silence. Only opening his mouth when Pia was about to throw a few other remarks at him.

“They get stored in the warehouse for me. They get delivered there and I pick them up. Ya can check if ya don’t believe me, cousin.” He ultimately sighed in defeat. “It’s down the road through the sandy mess. Ya should see a buildin’ at the end but it’s not that one. Continue down the path and ya’ll should find a more secluded shed.”

Pia raised her eyebrow at the man and only when she determined he was speaking the truth, she lowered her shoulders and turned around. “Don’t keep selling these. Close your store before I have the cops being called on you.” She spoke as she left the stall to walk into the direction they were given with her arms crossed.

“Just stop marketing fakes as the real thing. You’ve got to make a living, just don’t be so stupidly unethical about it,” Catherine said to the man. Then, despite telling herself it was more trouble than it was worth, she took off after Pia.




The heat of the day gradually lessened as the evening started to take over. The pale blue of the sky was starting to darken and had been painted over in shades of orange and pink. In the distance, the chorus of night-dwelling Pokemon was beginning its early rehearsals. But such poetic phrasing was the last thing on Catherine’s mind.

She was sitting against the back wall of a tin shed, on the opposite side to where its door was. A few hundred metres away, a larger warehouse blocked the view of the shed from the street. It matched the description given to them by the merchant in the Nickit mask. They had been sitting there in an uncomfortable silence while Indra and Milla chatted among themselves, seeming to get much better along than their trainers.

“Of course he neglected to tell us when his supplier is meant to show up. They might not even be coming here tonight at all,” Catherine grumbled.

“We also neglected to ask.” Pia sighed. She stared at the door keeping them from finding the secrets in the shed for only a moment before she grabbed a Poké ball from her belt and unleashed her Whimsicott from it. “Razor Leaf the lock.” Pia kindly asked him with a kind smile.


Soma nodded and gathered the dead leaves from all around them. He noticed that his power over them had grown more since his evolution and shot them with a massive force at the lock and door, completely destroying the both of them. He turned around with a proud grin while he was showing off.

“Looks like we got ourselves an entry.”

“Technically, it’s breaking and entering. Well done.” Catherine rolled her eyes and stepped inside, leaving Indra to stand guard. What she saw there was unexpected though. Most of the boxes present were sealed, but a few were sitting open and were clearly full of PPE like gloves and masks. Not at all what one would anticipate when looking for knock-off goods. “That was unexpected.”

“I feel like Detective Canon snooping around like this.” Pia commented while she looked through a few crates herself. Among the counterfeit tea sets, she also found boxes with potions. She didn’t see the stall selling those though. “How incredibly odd…”

“You should feel more like Rupin the Second seeing as we’re committing a literal crime right now,” Catherine replied. “Would it have killed you to just be patient? I can’t get thrown out of the league for this.”

“If Ruben is not thrown out of the league after committing several scandals and not even bothering to do his gym challenges or Rosa who literally had dealings with the mafia, neither will we be for breaking into a shed that we technically had permission to enter.” Pia grumbled.

“No one’s got time for patience,” Pia whispered underneath her breath. She brushed through her long hair and put it into a more convenient ponytail. Long hair was nice and all but it quickly got in the way. Watching Catherine look around made Pia suddenly realise something. Why was she even here to begin with? “Why did you even bother to come along? You despise me and I don’t exactly have the highest opinion of you myself.”

“Because someone has to watch your back and make sure you aren’t in over your head. Whether that someone likes you or not,” Catherine replied. “Wait… did you just say Rosa’s been dealing with the mafia? Why am I not surprised. Was it more of those blacksuit assholes?”

Pia rolled her eyes and Catherine’s previous statement and turned a bit to the side to take a peek around the shed.

“She was forced to. Whatever they were, they are now gone. Disappeared from the face of the earth. I doubt it had anything to do with the black suits.” Pia replied. She hadn’t heard from Rosa for a few days now and while in Stow-on-side she had looked into it. At least she knew Rosa wouldn’t be in danger but the fact she hadn’t let anything know yet was worrying. She brushed the topic aside for now and rubbed her shoulder. The egg she had been carrying around now for a while had been growing heavier and heavier. Resulting in her backpack to have taken on quite some weight.

“Let’s get this over with,” Pia commented again.

“The sooner we’re out of here the better. Permission to be here isn’t the same thing as permission to enter the shed.” Catherine nodded, turning back to her just in time to hear a monumental noise.

CRAAASHHHH

While Pia and Catherine were searching through the boxes, Milla and Soma were jumping, floating and searching through a few of their own until Milla accidentally pushed over a crate and made it drop all the way from the top to the stone floor.

Pia jumped up, startled from the loud crash. It sounded like whatever was in there was definitely now broken.

“Guys be careful! Those are not our stuff!” She reprimanded her tiny friends who nodded apologetically. Though, the moment Pia got closer and saw the lid of the crate broken off… She noticed incubators. Empty ones and old ones at that and from the dust that had scattered over the floor and the rust on the iron parts showed it wasn’t used in a loooooonnnggg time. “What the... '' Pia raised her eyebrow. She was starting to get suspicions about who might have supplied the shop owner with these tea sets.

She wasn’t the only one. Catherine was starting to put the dots together herself. “You know, I’m pretty sure I met the supplier earlier today. This is making a lot of sense.”

“Does she happen to work for a Pokémon center?” Pia asked and put a hand on her waist. “She mentioned how it wasn’t doing so well compared to others in Galar this morning before leading me to that shop.”

“What a coincidence,” Catherine said dryly, “the same thing happened to me. It makes sense, when people notice that fancy-looking teapot of theirs they can use that as an excuse to send them to that Nickit guy that they supply with knock-offs. Then they can sell them as the real deal and get some of the funds back for their centre.”

“How peculiar.” Pia crossed her arms. “I guess we’ll have to confront her with our findings. Hopefully she’ll understand that this is not how you do things and comply with not selling them anymore.” She tapped her head a few times and while there was a short moment of silence, she opened her mouth again after thinking for a bit. “... But I do want to give her ideas on how to raise funds correctly and honestly. A Pokémon center is quite important and I do understand her concerns I suppose…”

“Fine by me. Should we go pay her a visit then?”




“Oh you’re back!” The voice of the nurse that had forwarded both Catherine and Pia to the stall earlier that day greeted them upon seeing them enter the Pokémon Center once more. The innocent smile on her face indicated that she had no idea yet about what the girl’s had found. With how empty the Pokémon center was, you wouldn’t say it was because she had been occupied. Despite all of that, she was a bit surprised to see the two girls together.

“Ah! Were you able to claim a beautiful tea set of your own?"

“Wasn’t that interested to begin with, honestly,” Catherine answered, “I was even less so after finding out that they’re all counterfeits. Is yours real? Or is it just a prop?”

The innocent smile the nurse was wearing only moments ago dropped with a heartbeat. She threw a glance at her own tea set that she had replaced to the salon table before returning her eyes to the pair in front of her.

"H-How did you…?" She stammered.

"I know my tea." Pia stepped forward though it caused the nurse to take a few steps back. "I checked out the Tea sets at the stall as I was legitimately interested but they lacked the stamp of authenticity. All of them." Pia crossed her arms. Milla popped out her head from behind her legs.

The nurse gritted her teeth. So they indeed had found out. Then that means there was no convincing them or arguing back. Her instinct made her grab for her Pokéball from her belt.

"Chansey! Help me out here!" She threw the ball up in the air in front of her and from it emerged a big pink blob with an egg tucked away in her stomach pouch, the very thing Chansey were known for.

Indra moved to place himself between the Chansey and his trainer, but Catherine waved him off. “You must be joking, right? You are going to start a battle against [/i]us[/i]? It would be over in seconds. Besides, even if you did win, where would it get you? We’d still know, we’d still tell people. You’re not about to off us.”

The nurse hesitated for a moment, acting like a pidgey that was hunted into a corner.

"No matter! I have to take this chance. Chansey use egg b-"

"Don't be stupid." Pia interrupted her. "You heard her. We're gym challengers. I would like to say there is always a possibility but I really cannot foresee how you would win this." Pia sighed. The nurse still seemed on edge and when she gritted her teeth again Pia pointed at the tea set. "It is indeed pretty but there are other ways to raise funds for your Pokémon center. Better and more honest ways even."

“What would you know? What am I supposed to do?”

“Frankly,” Catherine said, “If nobody is visiting this Pokemon Centre, then that’s because they don’t need to. They’re going to bigger ones nearer the stadium that are easier to find. I came to this one because it seemed like there would be fewer people here.”

“So what, I should just lose my job along with everyone else here?” The nurse replied. It was clear though that the fight was gone from her. Her Chansey had taken to consoling her rather than trying to appear menacing.

“You’re a nurse in a town that routinely has gym challengers flock to it. Put your expertise to use,” Catherine said. “Make vitamin solutions or potions or something and sell them around the stadium or in the market. I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do, but you have options. What you do with that money after that is on you.”

"You were able to come up with this tea scam. I trust you can think of something clever enough. Don't let your desperation get the better of you." Pia added.

The nurse seemed to be contemplating her options for a moment. While the silence grew between the two parties, their Pokémon occasionally traded glances. Just when Pia was about to let out another sigh, the nurse opened her mouth again.

“I… suppose I could give it a try.” She finally let go of the hostility she had been showing the girls. “I’m sorry. I’ve been so on edge ever since this started. I felt so… unneeded and unnecessary. This Pokémon center is my passion. I didn’t want to see it end like this.”

She got back up and presented the girls with a small bow, which was a courtesy often used by the kantonians and johtonians. When she got back up, Pia’s expression softened when she saw the gesture of regret. At least there was progress.

“Your suggestion isn’t half so bad. I’ll keep it in mind.” She gave Catherine a gentle smile, a big change from the glare she had given earlier. “I… I don’t know how to thank you girls for giving me a second chance…”

The nurse pondered. She searched around her as if to see if she had something she could give them. Soon enough, her eyes would fall on the only thing in her possession that would remind her of her misstep. She hasted over towards the tea set on the table and ran back to the girls.

“Please take this. After all I have done, the least I can do is give you a real Rose Corsela tea set.” She held out the Tea pot and tea cups in front of the pair. Pia could see that these indeed had the stamps of authenticity that were depicted on the foot sole of the tea cup and tea pot. “I only have one set regretfully…”

“I don’t want anything.” Catherine shrugged, noticing Indra mirroring the gesture with amusement. “I don’t much care for antiques anyway and I don’t do these things for a reward. So Pia can have it. If we’re done here, I’m going to be on my way. I’m exhausted.”

Without waiting for a reply, Catherine quickly turned and headed out the door.

Pia raised an eyebrow at the leaving Catherine and turned her attention back to the tea set.

“I’m not nice enough to say no to a pretty tea set.” Pia took the set off her hands and carefully wrapped it in clothing to put it in her bag. “I thank you. I’ll have to go as well. There’s a gym challenge waiting on me. I can use the potions you might sell there so hopefully I’ll see you around.” Pia waved off and closed the door behind her. The nurse looked puzzled at her words for a moment but was all too happy to be rid of a bad memory.

Outside, Pia saw Catherine a little bit in the distance and decided, for Arceus knows whatever reason, to catch up to her followed by Milla.

“You were quick to get out of there.” Pia commented with a huff.

“Is that a problem?” Catherine replied, barely looking back at her. “I wasn’t interested in a reward or in hearing more excuses. There wasn’t much reason for me to stick around.”

“Fair.” Pia gave a small sheepish grin without looking at her either. “This is going to sound weird… but thank you.”

“You’re welcome, I suppose.” Catherine glanced across at Pia. Words of thanks were not something she felt she needed, nor were they something she expected to receive from the other girl. “Making sure you didn’t do anything dumb and get in over your head was the right thing to do.”

“No. Not that.”Pia immediately shifted to glaring. “Also, hell no. I could’ve perfectly solved this myself.” The girl huffed and crossed her arms, though her demeanor immediately toned down after. “You’re the first one in a while who hasn’t brought up my mother.”

“Oh, that,” Catherine said. “That’s because I don’t care. I see no reason to blame her for her profession anyway, but I see even less reason to hold it against you. It’s ridiculous. I wouldn’t worry though, after that contest win, people are already scrambling to act like they never said a word against you.”

“Hm.” Pia let out a pondering sound in response to Catherine’s unexpected words. That she, of all people, would be the kind of person to not judge upon rumors and past professions. It was surprising. “Well, at any rate, I have to take the road left here.” Pia sighed, though showing a small relieved smile. She took the path left and waved. “See you later.”

“Maybe.” Catherine beckoned Indra to follow her, turning right.








Pia's Party







Memories

STAGE 1: Wedgehurst -> Wild Area -> Motostoke

Wedgehurst
I choose you part 1
I choose you part 2
I choose you Final

Wild Area
Train to Wild Area ft. Raphael & Aeliana
Two birds with one stone
Two birds with one stone part 2 + Bird Brain
Wild Area with Arrietty

Motostoke
Double Trouble part 1
Double Trouble part 2


STAGE 2: Route 3 -> Galar Mine 1 -> Route 4 -> Turffield

Route 3
It's the most wine-derful time of the year | Part 1
It's the most wine-derful time of the year | Part 2
A Festive Fight to the Finish
The Mystery of Mew! | Part 1
The Mystery of Mew! | Part 2
The Mystery of Mew! | Part 3
A Two headed reflection

Galar Mine 1
Galar Mine #1 | Part 1
Galar Mine #1 | Part 2
Galar Mine #1 | Part 3

Route 4
Route 4
Coach McGuire
A failed attempt.

Turffield
Bad Company.
It gets worse.
Shopping shenanigans
A challenger approaches!
Gym battle: Turffield
Here and Now
Performance Post: Dreaming Fairy
New Friendships

Route 5
Homecoming | Part 1
Homecoming | Part 2
An eggcelent situation.

Hulburry
Gym battle: On treacherous waters Part 1
Gym battle: On treacherous waters Part 2
Hulburry Part 1
Hulburry Part 2
Hulburry Part 2
The Hypocrites' Waltz
The Hypocrites' Waltz Part 2
Duplicity
Duplicity part 2
Pretty Little Liars


Motostoke
To all beautiful things come an end...
Pray Return


Wedgehurst/Wild Area
Ending unplanned

Hammerlocke
A trip down memory lane
Sugar, Spice, school girls aren't nice.
Settling in
Cutting out
Make a wish
Common ground
Performance post: Sea of clouds
Chances and Chasers
Wake Up
Faires and Demons
Beware of the Villainess



Pia's journal

Arrietty Maverick
Pia and Arrietty met in the Wild Area although the two have shared classes before. It struck Pia as odd that the girl seemed to have no ambitions or goals at all. Although disappointed upon finding out this girl had no fire burning that would light her path, Pia made it her mission to help this girl get a goal and become a bit more social. Arrietty is the closest Pia can consider a "friend".

As according to their promise, Pia helped Arrietty get ready for her very first contest in Turffield. However, the girl ran off from stage when she was up. Pia has been feeling guilty for "forcing her into contesting" ever since.

Ruben Sancho
Pia met Ruben during Motostoke while on a double date with him, Arrietty and Ainsley. The date went disastrous with both Arrietty and Ainsley running off but Ruben and Pia were able to grow just a tiny bit closer during their search for Arrietty. They have been texting since and are on good terms with each other. They both seem to be interested in just a little bit more...

Ruben and Pia are officially dating since the end of the year festival on Route 3 following their "official second date" that went well. Pia knows about Ruben's ankle and that it's still hurting. They're in close contact with each other through calling and texting. They went on another date on Route 4 where Ruben had a gig for a coaching session with kids with the promise to spend time together after that. Both confirmed their feelings for the other by sharing a kiss. Pia likes him a lot.

Their relationship became public knowledge when a picture of Ruben staring down Pia's shirt was shared on social media and all gossip magazines. Ruben has been hiding it from Pia but as they went shopping, Pia got vocally attacked by a group of girls calling her out for being a whore and having no dignity. Ruben stood up for her and made their relationship public knowledge, no longer wanting to submit Pia to such harassment. Ruben publicly announced he likes Pia a lot and that they have been dating as opposed to what he has been saying before. Pia still doesn't know about the picture that's going around.

Despite the situation that had happened in the mall, Ruben insisted towards Raphael that they're just "friends" while Raphael announced to know more about their relationship due to being uncomfortable with the fact of calling Pia his "girlfriend". He has been slowly getting into the idea of being in a relationship with her throughout Turffield. The two of them visited his home in Wedgehurst during the events of Route 5 where Pia ended up meeting his sister Daija and his little brothers. He told Daija to stop calling her the "G" word but he ended up admitting to her he indeed considered Pia his girlfriend. During all of this Pia has been thinking about their time together and has grown quite fond of Ruben, more than she probably realizes herself as she has to constantly remind herself that she shouldn't be feeling the things that she is feeling. She believes that it will all come to an end but has recently started clinging on to a little spark of hope...

The two of them exchanged Applin's during their Valentine's day date where they also decided to release them, promising each other that they would stay together.

They've proven to be currently in love with both of them starting to show effort in their relationship. However, Pia's big secret that she's trying to keep hidden from Ruben is becoming a ticking time bomb...

In Hulburry things have started to get rocky for the two when Pia found out Ruben lied about not being in Hulburry when he broke into the gym Pia was having a photoshoot at with Aeliana and Nessa. He brought along Ainsley, two new friends Pia didn't know and Simon. The lie upsetted Pia greatly as lying is something she absolutely hated and the reason for it was so that Ruben could hang out with his friends. She hasn't messaged him since Nessa booted him out of the gym.

Pia and Ruben unfortunately broke up during the events of Motostoke when it was revealed that Pia's mother used to be a prostitute and pictures were made of Ruben with another woman.

Raphael Allard
Pia met Raphael during her train ride to the wild Area together with Aeliana. Thinking that he had a lot of potential in becoming a chamption which would benefit her, Pia approached him thinking they could become friends. Their interactions didn't go as smoothly as Pia had hoped. After their argument at the end of her battle with Aeliana, the girl ran off thinking she had blown her chances. Raphael doesn't harbour any ill intend towards the girl and only hoped to give her some advice.

They have resolved their issues in Galar mine 1 and worked together to battle Oleana in which they were victorious. Raphael brought the issues with Pia's overprotectiveness of Milla back up on Route 4 when Pia was refusing Milla from battling. Raphael spoke some sense into her, prompting her to finally trust Milla. Raphael understands Pia better now and Pia has a better opinion of Raphael now too.

They met again during the events of the Turffield contest and spend some time talking to each other while Pia tried to get Ruben to apologize to Arrietty. Raphael said something similar to what he said on Route 4 and confused Pia in her actions. He seems to know more than he lets on.

Aeliana Kekoa
Pia met Aeliana during the train ride to the wild Area together with Raphael. Although her interactions with Aeliana went a little bit more smoothly than with Raphael, Pia still ran off at the end of their battle in an attempt to distract her since Pia owed her money for losing. Although Pia has declared Aeliana her rival, they haven't spoken since and Pia attempts to keep it that way.

Pia met Aeliana again on Route 3 when she was on her way to the end of the year market. Together with Rosa and Valerie they went into an haunted mansion. Although they didn't converse much, Aeliana made some comments that Pia saw as snarky that were meant well by Aeliana. This indicates that Pia still thinks that Aeliana is out to get her.

Their friendship was given a second chance in Hulburry during a photoshoot with Nessa that Aeliana had invited Pia for. Pia saw this as a really good chance to start her own "career" rather on relying on Ruben and his fame. They shared a moment together and seem to be on good terms again.

Ainsley
Ainsley was Pia's date partner during the double date in Motostoke and is Ruben's best friend. Ainsley pretended to be rich and paid for the date with Ruben's money. Pia saw through the charade and called him out on it after Ainsley suggested they'd book a hotel together and make love. He ran off afterwards, angry that the feelings of lust he harboured towards Pia were not returned. Pia doesn't think highly of Ainsley and told Ruben that he needs "better friends".

Pia and Ainsley met again in the Hulburry gym after he and Ruben broke in so that they could ask Nessa's hand in marriage. He called Pia a "gold digging sket" because of her relationship with Ruben and the pettiness he holds towards her for the date that didn't end in the hotel room. They both dislike each other greatly.

Melody Argent
Although Pia and Melody attended the same Trainer school and were in the same class, they never once teamed up for an assignment. Both didn't have a very good impression of the other and avoided them like the plague. It's not until the Festival Fun-time Flurry that they have tried teaming up to win a competition as both of them were interested in the prize. They chased down a cheater together and have a better opinion of each other since their teamwork. They figured out that they're a pretty good team actually. Both of them thinks "the other is not so bad after all".

Valerie Amity
Pia met Valerie on route 3 where they went inside a haunted mansion together with Aeliana and Rosa. They didn't get to converse much but it was enough for them to establish some sort of familiarity. Valerie calls Pia "Lady P" as a nickname. Pia thinks of Valerie as someone with too much energy but not a bad person overall, maybe a little too naïve.

Pia was able to form a friendshop with Valerie in Turffield where she finally managed to catch the girl alone. Pia decided that Valerie's stream and followers could help her towards her goal of becoming rich, one she is trying to head towards to against ever since the events with Catherine. She feels guilty about this though.

Rosa Valdés
Pia met Rosa on Route 3 and went inside a haunted mansion together with Aeliana and Valerie. They were stuck inside a room together where Rosa found golden nuggets and shared one with Pia. Rosa's small moments of kindness seemed insincere in Pia's eyes, someone who is well versed with duality. When Rosa left the end of the year market after they had gotten out of the haunted mansion, Pia followed her and saw her crying. Pia comforted the crying Rosa but as soon as Rosa had gotten herself together again, Pia fell the need to call her out on her duality, telling her that how she was acting now was quite different from before. Rosa denied at first but as soon as Pia had driven her into a corner, she stopped trying. After Jirachi appeared for a brief second, Rosa walked off. They're neither on bad or good terms but both have things they probably need to speak off.

Simon Pearburgh
Pia met Simon in Galar Mine 1. Pia thought nothing more of him than a bug nerd. They partnered up to battle against Oleana and his clever strategies impressed Pia, prompting her to compliment him after their shared life/death situation on Route 4.

Pia considers Simon to be a positive influence and appreciates him cheering her on during the contest in Turffield where he appeared to be the loudest in the room.

Pia met Simon again in Hulburry after he broke into the gym that she was having a photoshoot at with Aeliana and Nessa. She was disappointed in his behaviour but guessed this was probably Ruben and Ainsley's idea as he just stumbled up behind them.

Catherine Carlisle
Yeah.... Pia really doesn't like Catherine but she enjoys getting under her skin.

Kit
Pia met Kit in the Wild Area. Kit had been trying to catch a Pokémon for days but had yet to catch one. He begged the girl to help him in exchange for money and a strange rock that he found. Pia taught him how to catch a Pokémon but after hearing that Kit is in search for his father, she decided to only take the strange rock as her reward and left the pouch with Poké behind for the boy to keep. Kit seems to have developed a crush for her because of that.

Daija Sancho
Daija is Ruben's little sister by 2 years. Pia met Daija during her trip to Wedgehurst with Ruben on Route 5. Daija was wary of the girl at first as she is well aware of her brother's "type". She has given Pia her nod of approval when she found the two being silly in the living room after she had left the house for a little bit to cool off. She thinks Pia is a positive influence in Ruben's life.

Jovian and Livia McMiller and Daniel
Pia met the McMiller couple and their foster son on Route 5 when she took a nap outside in the cold covered in her own Pokémon. Livia McMiller invited her at her home with happened to be the Nursery on Route 5. Pia investigated the Chimecho mystery of how she had suddenly laid two eggs. She appeared to be fostering them as trainer's had left those eggs behind. Chimecho have her a mint-green coloured egg with darker green swirls as a thank you for getting her wishes across to the McMiller couple.


Trainer ID


Pia McGuire:

Pia was born in the town of Hammerlocke in the Galar region and is part of the first graduating class of the Wedgehurt trainer's academy. Despite having lived in poverty, her mother has been able to pay for her tuition in alternative ways. She's quick witted and rather clever but is sometimes a bit "too" honest. Pia dreams of becoming an actress and does almost anything to get more money. When it comes down to it, what she really wants is to no longer live in poverty and live a bit more happily.

Inventory:



  • 4x Pokéball
  • Galarian Pokédex
  • Xtransceiver
  • Broken Flashlight
  • King's Rock
  • Sun Stone (used)
  • Thunderstone
  • Mint green Pokémon egg with darker green swirls
  • TR Ice Beam


Outfits:

Daily Outfit:
Spoiler:


Contest outfit:
Spoiler:


Ribbons:

Turffield Ribbon 2nd place:


Hammerlocke Ribbon 1st Place:


Badges:

Turffield Grass badge


Hulburry Water badge


Motostoke Fire badge




• Moderator of the RPT ꕥ Art Studio ꕥ Anime & Manga •

Foxrally

Age 23
ya boi
a Torterra's back
Seen 1 Day Ago
Posted 2 Weeks Ago
2,733 posts
8.8 Years
Simon Pearburgh
Vivillon ♀
Tackle | Stun Spore | String Shot | Poison Powder | Gust | Powder
Friend Guard
Mothim ♂
Protect | Hidden Power (water) | Electroweb | Quiver Dance | Gust | Confusion
Compound Eyes
Shedinja
Shadow Claw | Confuse Ray | Spite | Mud-Slap | Endure
Wonder Guard
Snom ♀
Powder Snow | Mirror Coat | Struggle Bug | Icicle Spear
Ice Scales
Nevermeltice (held)
Princess ♀
Electroweb | Spider Web | Fury Cutter | Beat Up | Absorb | Thunder Wave
Swarm
Metal Flower Crown (held)
Larvesta ♂
Flame Charge | String Shot | Ember | Morning Sun | Flame Wheel | Leech Life
Flame Body
Heat Rock (held)
Anorith ♂
Dig | Water Gun | Ancient Power | Aqua Jet | Rapid Spin | X-Scissor
Swift Swim

Spoiler: Inventory
ATC
Nevermeltice
*
held by Snom

Heat Rock
*
held by Larvesta

Metal Flower Crown
*
held by Princess

Luxury Ball
Bug Net
Arm Thrust TR
Wishing Star
A bunch of cinnamon buns
Spewpa Plushie
Fanart of Simon
Heracross Knight Comics
Piers & Marnie Album
Mew Book
Badges: 4
Grass badge
Water badge
Fire badge
Ghost badge

Spoiler: Memories
~ NPC LIST ~
--- Wedgehurst ---
#1 - Caterpie joins the team!
#2 - The Mail Thief, pt. 1
#3 - The Mail Thief, pt. 2
#4 - Meet Sachiko
#5 - Train Battle!
--- Southern Wild Area ---
#6 - Burmy joins the team!
#7 - Snom joins the team!
#8 - Meet Raphael
#9 - Spirits Entombed
#10 - Meet Ruben
#11 - Suited Men Encounter!
--- Motostoke ---
#12.1 - Stadium Entrance [MEGA JP]
#12.2 - Opening Ceremony [MEGA JP]
#12.3 - New Beginningd [MEGA JP]
#13 - Motostoke Gym Mission
#14 - VS Kabu
#15 - Lunch with Sachi
#16 - Joining Blackspear
#17 - A Mysterious Egg
--- Route 3 ---
#18 - Meet Rosa
#19 - VS Rosa
#20 - Christmas Delivery
#21 - VS Catherine
--- Galar Mine 1 & Route 4 ---
#22 - Meet Aurora
#23 - Joltik joins the team!
#24 - Meet Pia
#25 - VS Oleana
#26 - Ferrothorn Rescue
--- Turffield ---
#27 - Blackspear Delivery
#28 - Turffield Gym Mission
#29 - VS Milo
#30 - Calling home
#31 - An Unexpected Interruption
#32 - VS Sachi, Rematch
#33 - Contest Date
#34 - Larvesta joins the team!
--- Route 5 ---
#35 - On the road again
#36 - Meet Jasper
#37 - VS Jasper
#38 - The young inventor
#39 - Meet Valerie
#40 - The Wishiwashi Squad!
--- Hulbury ---
#41 - Breaking & Entering pt. 1
#42 - Breaking & Entering pt. 2
#43 - Happy Birthday Raphael
#44 - Hulbury Gym Mission
#45 - VS Nessa pt. 1
#46 - VS Nessa pt. 2
#47 - VS Tristan
#48 - Heartbreak
--- Galar Mine 2 ---
#49 - Blackspear Security
#50 - A Power Boost
#51 - Black Suits in the mines pt. 1
#52 - Black Suits in the mines pt. 2
--- Motostoke (Revisit) ---
#53 - VS Kabu, Rematch
#54 - A point to prove
#55 - VS Catherine, Rematch
#56 - Strength
#57 - Blackspear Mission Briefing
--- Northern Wild Area ---
#58 - Meet Xan
#59 - Psychic Testing
#60 - Reconciliation
#61 - Teambuilding
#62 - The calm before the storm
#63 - The Pinsir Mission
#64 - Fighting back
#65 - One last hope
#66 - For better or for worse
--- Hammerlocke ---
#67 - Fatherly advice
#68 - Common ground
#69 - VS Nigel?
#70 - The Plan
#71 - Hammerlocke contest
#72 - Birthday surprise
--- Route 6 ---
#73 - Training
#74 - VS Aeliana
#75 - Bureaucracy
#76 - Meet Melody
#77 - Wishing upon a star
--- Stow-on-side ---
#78 - Meet Chloe
#79 - Stow-on-Side Gym Mission
#80 - VS Bea
#81 - VS Zelkova
#82 - Shedinja (re-)joins the team?!
#83 - VS Allister
Catherine Carlisle
Indra
Stampede
Holo
Vessel
Lancer

Spoiler: Inventory
Pokédex
ATC
Pokéball x1
Wishing Star
Glimwood Tangle

After nearly a full year of travel through Galar; exploring new cities and journeying through environments he'd never dreamed to visit before; for the first time, Simon felt like he was home. The main path through the Glimwood Tangle was one he'd walked countless times, it was one of the few accessible avenues to Ballonlea and practically the only way to get to the village on land. The familiarity of the forest was a welcome change after the months of harsh, unknown terrain the team had gone through, and Simon couldn't wait to show them the home he'd talked about so much for all this time.

Evidently, he'd been excitedly showing off every bit of knowledge he knew about the forest to the bugs, and even after the team had taken a rest stop to eat, he was still pointing out more things to them.

"Oh, and those specific shrooms with the claw marks? That's where the Impidimps usually live. Watch." Simon leaned down from the tree stump he was sitting on and picked up a pebble off the ground, then chucked it at the pink mushroom he was pointing at. As he'd predicted, a poof of pink dust appeared and an Impidimp stuck its head out of the darkness, sniffing the air curiously. Several of the bugs recoiled at the sudden appearance, though Larvesta seemed particularly excited to meet a new friend and squeaked out a greeting. Simon patted the firebug and laughed. "They're usually pretty harmless, but they like messing with people. Kind of like all the fairies, ghosts and monkeys in this forest… So not the best influence, I'm afraid."

Despite the slightly unnerving presence of the Pokemon peeking at them through the foliage, the bugs seemed to be much more at ease in the forest than anywhere else. As soon as they'd sat down to eat, several of the local bug-types had crawled out of the trees and timidly approached them, and Simon's Pokemon had welcomed them happily. A dozen of Sewaddles were gathered around sharing a cinnamon bun with Vivillon, Princess and Anorith, and Mothim had even gone out of his way to help out a Pineco hanging above them. Likely some sort of bagworm solidarity, Simon assumed. Larvesta had largely ignored the food and was more interested in exploring the forest - something which, Simon realized, could easily be a recipe for fiery disaster given Larvesta's method of flying around - but the juvenile bug was being watched closely by Snom, who didn't hesitate to hiss out a warning every time he would do something mildly dangerous.

Simon realized he hadn't seen Shedinja for a while now, and wondered if the lurking dark-types had scared off the fragile bug. "Yo, Cat- um, Shedinja, you still here?"

A yawn-like hum sounded above him and Shedinja materialized in front of his face. Simon jumped back, nearly dropping his cinnamon bun, "Holy Arceus- I said not to do that-!"

The ghost floated up and down slightly, a motion which Simon interpreted as a shrug. It hummed something about going back to sleep, and disappeared into thin air once more.

"Guess he hasn't changed much…" Simon shook his head and looked at the group of bugs eating together. The Sewaddles seemed to be debating over something, then looking back at Simon's team and waving their arms as if describing something. Vivillon's expression was a mix of concern and confusion, and she would momentarily squeak back something which would get the Sewaddles to nod eagerly. Simon decided to sit down and join them.

"So, what are you tinies chatting about?"

The Sewaddles looked at Simon and chirped out several responses at the same time, none of which Simon could understand at once, but the glimpses he caught were concerning. "Big red… monster…? What do you mean?"

Vivillon spoke up and looked at Simon intensely. They were describing a red shadow Pokemon.

Simon's eyes grew wide and his expression shifted. Red shadow mon all the way out here… it could only mean one thing - Blackspear was involved. "Where and when did you see it?" he asked the wild bugs, and they began recounting their stories again.

They told of a large pack of Grookeys that roamed this part of the forest, led by a Rillaboom mother. She ensured their safety, and protected the trees and grass-types of the forest from human harm. But recently, the Grookeys had all disappeared, along with their matriarch, leaving everyone confused about their whereabouts… until earlier today, the Rillaboom leader was seen again, alone. Except her behaviour was… different. She was aggressive and was rampaging through the forest indiscriminately, knocking down trees in her path and viciously attacking any creature in her way with no rhyme or reason. The Sewaddles noted that her eyes and fur were tinged with red, and similarly-colored smoke was coming out of her body. The only way they had survived her wrath was by hiding high in the trees with the Pineco where they wouldn't be seen.

"That's horrible…" Simon muttered. "And where did you say you last saw it?"

The bugs pointed into the forest, mentioning that the human path didn't go through there so it was still safe to stay on it.

"I'm not trying to avoid it," Simon replied, getting up, "I'm gonna track it down."

The Sewaddles panicked and all squeaked at him frantically, warning him that he was crazy for even thinking that.

"Well someone's gotta do something." Simon replied. He couldn't run the risk of waiting for the rangers - and if he could figure out where the Rillaboom had come from, it could lead him to Blackspear, and in turn, Zelkova.

"And besides, I'd say our team's got some experience dealing with these types of things." Simon glanced at the bugs, which gave a unanimous nod back as they perched back onto him. He quickly packed up his things, leaving a few more buns for the bugs, and set off into the forest.

-----------

Travel wasn’t exactly high on Catherine’s list of interests, outside of wanting to visit Johto again at some point, but she had to admit that she had gotten to see some pretty places on her journey. In particular, Glimwood Tangle was gorgeous.

She was walking through with Holo padding along at her feet. Not only was it pleasant to be under the perpetual shade of the canopy after the Stow-on-Side heat, but the faint glow of the local mushrooms and their spores gave the place an isolated and ethereal feel. It was peaceful and both Catherine and Holo had become enraptured by it.

She’d had a lot to think about ever since Galar Mine #2 - perhaps since Galar Mine #1 really. She’d faced life and death situations and she’d taken on the burden of Galar’s forced reformation all to herself. This was the closest she’d come in weeks to just enjoying a moment of peace.

She’d taken a more scenic route to avoid running into any people and was simply enjoying her time in her Pokemon’s company. Holo seemed more relaxed too. While she didn’t run off like she used to, and was still mostly clinging to Catherine, but she seemed less skittish thanks to the pleasant atmosphere.

As they walked, Catherine mentally kept note of the different types of mushroom she had seen. She hadn’t drawn in a long time and they would serve as fantastic inspiration. It was as she was doing this that she saw a faint red glow wafting through the trees, standing out from the reds, blues and greens she had grown accustomed to in the forest.

“That’s different,” Catherine said. “Want to go check it out.”

Holo hesitated, sniffing the air. She seemed reluctant to head towards the unknown

“We’ll just look from a distance then.” Catherine wanted to be fair to Holo and ease her through her fears, but she still had to make some progress. This seemed like a good middle ground. “Let’s head carefully in that direction.”

-----------

Simon had been trudging through the forest for nearly an hour now. The canopy above had grown thicker as he kept going deeper and deeper into the woods, the darkness slowly taking over the comforting spots of light, until eventually, the only sources he could rely on were the giant mushrooms growing around the trees. He hadn't seen any sign of the Rillaboom or any Grookeys, but he'd been following a faint trail of broken trees and branches, which he was convinced was related to the red shadow Pokemon.

The bug catcher and his team eventually reached an area where the trees were significantly less dense - in fact, it seemed like the smaller ones had been completely trampled and broken in half, almost like a truck had ploughed through them. The several large vines sticking out of the ground suggested that the area must have been used for some sort of grass-type attack, and on those plants, Simon could see… remnants of red smoke. This confirmed his suspicions.

"Mothim, you've got the best vision in the dark." Simon glanced at his shoulder where the bug was perched. "Scout ahead and let me know what you see, Shedinja will go with you as well. If you see any sign of danger, don't fight, just come back here, okay?"

Both bugs nodded and flew up. Atop Simon's head, Princess let out a nervous squeak. He took off his hat and petted the Joltik, "Don't worry, we'll be careful this time. As soon as we spot it, I'll dial the rangers so they know where it is, and they'll take care of it."

He understood why she was so anxious, though - from the rampaging Ferrothorn on route 4, to the enraged Mega Pinsir in the Wild Area, to the very Galvantula that had threatened her home colony, she’d had no shortage of fighting these creatures. Simon was determined to find out the origin of these red shadow mon - so that neither Princess, nor anyone else, ever had to suffer at their hands anymore.

A few minutes went by and Simon decided to examine the destroyed foliage more closely, taking note of the tufts of fur and leaves strewn about the clearing. Clearly a fight had taken place here, likely with another wild Pokemon. As he bent down to look at one of the leaves, he heard a quiet squeak off to the side; it was Mothim, followed by Shedinja. The bugs pointed in a direction and confirmed that they’d spotted the Rillaboom.

Simon nodded and followed the two. As he moved deeper and deeper into the forest, he began to hear faint grunting and cracking sounds. Mothim looked at Simon and perched back onto his shoulders, confirming that this was it. Simon gulped and took a deep breath, then continued in that direction.

Then, Simon saw it between the trees. Sitting atop a tree stump, gnawing viciously on what looked like the remnants of its drum, was a Rillaboom. The beast’s eyes were blank and red, and its body was covered with red smoke as it gnashed its teeth angrily, seemingly annoyed at the toughness of the tree log.

Simon quickly ducked behind the tree he was closest to and crouched down. Now that he’d located the Rillaboom, all he had to do was keep a visual on it and call for help. He slowly pulled out his phone and began dialling the number.

-----------

Catherine and Holo continued to work their way through the forest towards the faint red glow. As they moved forward, they were now passing occasional wisps of what seemed like red smoke. Catherine felt like she’d heard something about this somewhere before, but she couldn’t quite place it. This only made her more curious.

The closer she got to the source of the red, the more prominent the smoke-like gas seemed to be. She tried not to breathe it in, just in case, but noticed that Holo didn’t seem to be being adversely affected by it. Although, the Electrike was certainly becoming more on edge.

Catherine was just starting to wonder if she’d pushed Holo far enough when she saw something unexpected against the backdrop of red; a person. That was almost enough to make her want to turn back herself, but she stopped herself. She recognised the bug net and the fuzzy coat around his waist. If Simon was present at the source of the red smoke, the whole situation suddenly seemed a lot more sinister. She sped up somewhat, approaching the other trainer.

“What the hell are you up to?” she hissed at him from behind.

The boy jumped in surprise at her sudden appearance, nearly dropping the device hand as he spun around to see who it was - before his eyes grew wide and he glanced back behind him. “Muk!” he whispered, holding his breath and peeking behind the tree towards where he’d been looking before.

“Oh thank Arceus…” he slowly exhaled and went back into a crouching position, pulling Catherine’s arm down as well. ”Are you crazy?! It could’ve heard you!” he whisper-shouted at her, motioning in the direction he’d been looking at.

“What could have h-” Catherine trailed off when she looked past Simon and saw the dead-eyed, red-tinted Rillaboom. It was one of the most disturbing things she had witnessed. Something was clearly wrong with the Pokemon… and if Simon was here, it was hard not believe he wasn’t involved. Not after what she’d seen.

“What did you do?” she snarled. “Is this how you get psyducked-up Pokemon like your Scolipede?! I thought Bugs were your thing though, so I guess this one is just a gift for your blacksuit overlords or something. You are not getting away with brainwashing another Pokemon!”

“No, you don’t understand! It’s-”

He suddenly stopped as a loud grunt sounded behind them. Both humans froze in place and slowly peeked behind the tree… and found the deranged Rillaboom staring right at them.

“RUN!” Simon yelled as he bolted up and pulled Catherine forward.

Catherine couldn’t really find a word that felt appropriate in that moment, so she settled for shouting wordlessly as she turned and sprinted after Simon, Holo howling her own panic just ahead of her.

A quick glance over her shoulder revealed the Rillaboom lumbering after them, ripping apart the foliage and smashing through the tree they’d been hiding behind. She was torn between raw terror and the urge to hurl accusations and questions at Simon as they ran, but with her lungs already burning, she resolved to simply panting for breath.

“This thing-” Simon managed to yell out between breaths, “-isn’t a normal Pokemon! We can’t fight it!” he added as he shed the weight of Vivillon and Mothim from his shoulders, the two bugs taking off into the air.

“No muk! Less talking, more running!” Catherine heaved, she’d gotten a lot fitter on her journey compared to the starting point, but she was no sprinter and she was feeling the effects of the run already. If the Rillaboom didn’t get bored soon, it was sure to catch at least her.

The Pokemon roared in rage and snapped off a massive branch mid-run to hurl it at the two trainers. The log soared over their heads and crashed in front of them, landing between the trees and blocking them off, forcing them to turn.

“Vivillon, stun spore!” Simon called out to his Pokemon, hoping to slow the beast down. Vivillon nodded and circled around to fly above the Rillaboom, before spraying the ground below her with sparking yellow dust. The Rillaboom snorted and growled angrily at the bug, completely unaffected by the attack, then continued to charge straight for the trainers.

“Holo, Flame Burst!” Catherine called, but the attack didn’t come. She looked down, to see her Electrike had not even registered her voice, quivering in fear and letting out a low whine. Of course Holo couldn’t handle this, Simon himself had seen to that.

Catherine hastened to reach into her bag for another Pokemon’s ball, but before she even felt her hand on one, the Rillaboom plunged a darkness-cloaked fist into the ground, spawning a vine underneath her which immediately knocked off the bag from her hands, sending it flying into the treetops.

“Okay, now it’s really pissed!” Simon shouted and the two took off again, making their way around the obstacle. The red shadow Pokemon roared again and charged through the log, now gaining on them much faster than before.

As it got closer, it leaped into the air, fists glowing green with energy, before slamming them down on the ground. Suddenly, enormous green vines appeared underneath and around the two trainers, some even matching the trees in size as they grew taller and taller. The plants then began to wave around in a frenzy, swinging wildly at them. Trainers and Pokemon had no time to react before they were both tripped up and thrown in the air, just as more of the enormous vines began to spring up.

Simon tumbled through the air and felt everything in his pockets get tossed around as the vines juggled them, before painfully landing in the dirt. As he got back up, coughing, he opened his eyes and came face to face with an enormous, tree-sized coil of vines, completely barricading the path ahead.

Then, as he looked around, he realised Catherine wasn’t beside him anymore; and neither were the rest of his team - they'd been cut off. Just behind him, out of his line of sight, he could hear the panicked barking of a young Electrike. Holo had landed nearby Simon, separated from her trainer.

On the other side of the vine wall, Catherine tumbled over the dirt, coming to a halt to find herself surrounded by Simon’s Bugs. She could hear Holo barking frantically on the other side of the wall of thorns.

Her body aching all over from being tossed around like a rubber ball, Catherine pulled herself to her feet.

“It’s okay, Holo!” She called over. “I’ll be there as soon as I can!”

She looked around her, but the vine barrier stretched the entire length of the patch of the Glimwood Tangle they were in, eventually merging with the thick forest beyond. It was as she observed this, that Catherine realised something else. To her horror, she noticed that the Rillaboom was not on her side. If it wasn’t with her, there was one other place it could be.

“Holo!” she called out again, “Simon! It’s not on my side. You have to keep running!”

"Oh muk…" Simon's face grew pale as he slowly turned around. The hulking figure of Rillaboom lumbered toward them through the dust, snarling menacingly. It looked exhausted from the Frenzy Plant attack, but it was already picking up speed again. He turned to the terrified electrike and shouted, "We gotta go, quickly!"

Feeling a terror like a parent who’d lost their child, Catherine again hurried to find a way to get through the vines. She found nothing. She whipped around to Simon’s team, looking at his Vivillon and Mothim flying overhead. “Go help them!”

The bugs didn't need to be told twice. The two dove down and took off in the same direction as Simon and Holo. Catherine could hear the Rillaboom's thundering footsteps break out into a run again, chasing them deeper into the forest.

Catherine was eager to chase after them. Holo was stuck alone with Simon of all people… that was the most unfair fate that could have befallen the frightened Electrike. She had to get to her as soon as possible to protect her… but to do that, she would first have to break through the wall and find where her bag, containing her pokeballs, had landed.

She took a deep breath, failing to calm herself.

Joint post of gimmepie and Foxrally
Paired to Gligar and gimmepie
Friend Code
SW-5146-5893-7210
I make memes and other carcinogens

gimmepie

Age 26
Male
Australia
Seen 43 Minutes Ago
Posted 46 Minutes Ago
23,806 posts
9.7 Years




Inventory:
- ATC
- Expensive PokeGear
- Pokedex
- 800 Poke (On ATC)
- TM Icy Wind
- TM Flash
- Wishing Star
- TM Protect
- TM Rain Dance
- TM Rock Climb
- 1x Heavy Ball


Badges:
CATHERINE CARLISLE
Divided Together
“Muk. Muk. Muk. Muk.”

Catherine paced up and down the thorny wall the Rillaboom had produced with its Frenzy Plant. There really wasn’t any way to sneak through. Holo was alone with Simon and she was stuck behind a barrier of evil-looking plants, unable to do anything to help her.

Her breaths came fast and shallow; her mind simultaneously a haze and moving at a million miles an hour. Still, she had to do something. She couldn’t leave Holo a moment longer.

As she paced up and down, one of Simon’s Pokemon made a noise, attracting her attention. The four bugs were now huddled together in a circle, squeaking at each other frantically and looking back at her as if arguing about something. Right, she wasn’t completely alone - even without her team, she had Simon’s. And one of them was a fire-type.

The bug in question seemed the most eager to work with her and gave her a little wave before getting snapped back to attention by Snom. She could use it to burn the wall and get her through, Catherine thought, but it carried its own issues. Once the vines were on fire, it wouldn’t take long for other nearby plants to catch and the forest to end up ablaze.

Catherine turned to look at the Larvesta and the mons’ chattering stopped. “I’m not sure what moves you have, or if you really get what I’m saying, but I need you to burn through these plants in a second.”

The firebug nodded eagerly. “We can’t just let the fire go rampant though,” Catherine added. “Snom, can you use Powder Snow to keep the flames from spreading?”

The ice-type squinted at her and hissed out something, but was met with a comment from the Joltik beside her, causing her to roll her eyes.

“Is there a problem with that?” Catherine asked, scowling. She wasn’t Simon; she couldn’t understand what the Snom was saying, but she recognised the tone well enough.

Princess stepped forward and shook her head, pointing at the wall with a squeak and then at Anorith. The rock-type blinked and gurgled something in response, presumably upon hearing his name. Snom glared at the two and made a point of facing away from Catherine.

Catherine took a deep breath and exhaled. “Of course you don’t want to help. You can tell who raised you. Listen here, Holo is currently stuck with your dickhead trainer. Do you have any idea what he did to her? He brainwashed that Scolipede, enslaved it and stole its free will. He turned it into a psyducking weapon and then he pointed that weapon at her and it traumatised her! She is alone with the source of her fears right now and I can’t trust him not to hurt her more. And I’m stuck behind this psyducking wall! So one of you better be ready to manage the flames. Anorith, if you’ve got a water move, that will do.”

She turned away from Snom to focus her attention on the Anorith and Larvesta. “Get to it. Please.”

The firebug looked hesitant for a moment, but nodded and charged into the wall, summoning a wheel of fire around his body. A few hits later, the charred surface of the vines was beginning to fray and the fire grew larger and larger, until an entire section of it was set ablaze, turning it to ashes. Anorith then squeaked and blasted water at both sides of the passage, ensuring none of the fire spread down the rest of the wall.

That was progress. Catherine hastily stepped through the new hole in the plant wall, ignoring the thorns. She took several steps forward before realising that none of the Bugs were following her. Turning around, she saw them all still sitting in place, just looking at her expectantly.

“What?” she said. It took her a second to realise that none of them would be able to keep up with her for a long time on foot. Suddenly, she understood why Simon was always found with his legion of Bugs hanging off of him. She sighed. “Well, climb on then, I guess.”

Larvesta cheered excitedly and shot up into the air before landing on Catherine’s head, calling shotgun on that spot, apparently. Joltik nudged Snom and both of them climbed onto her arms (the latter more reluctantly) to get to her shoulders. As Catherine crouched down to let Anorith on as well, the bug squeaked and ignored her hand completely, instead jumping onto her leg and wrapping his claws around it.

“I’m not sure if my leg is the most convenient place, but whatever works for you.” Catherine tried to shrug, but found it surprisingly difficult with Simon’s team hanging off of her. Individually, the Bug types were certainly not particularly heavy. All together though, they were quite cumbersome; Simon was clearly stronger than he looked. She would endure it though. She had to get to Holo as quickly as she could, but it wasn’t like she could just abandon Simon’s Pokemon in the process.

Doing her best to ignore the extra weight she was now carrying, Catherine set off into the forest. She wanted to go straight off in the direction it looked like the Rillaboom had chased Simon and Holo, but she was at least clear-of-mind enough to know that she’d be no help in that situation without the rest of her team. So, instead, she made to take the most direct route towards where her bag had flown off to, which was easy to find once she followed the Rillaboom’s trail of broken trees and trampled bushes.

As she continued to run, a squeak from the Larvesta atop her head caught her attention. The bug was shuffling around and squeaking something to his fellows, which caused the other two on her shoulder to also turn in response. Catherine glanced at where they were looking and found that it was a large tree - one of the many that the Rillaboom had charged through - or at least what was left of it. The massive trunk was leaning heavily as the wood at its base had been obliterated on one side, and it seemed like it was about to fall, but was being propped up by two smaller branches of another fallen tree. Those branches didn’t look very sturdy, though.

She then heard faint cries coming from that same direction. Simon’s bugs squeaked and poked at her head as the creatures called out again, urging her to stop and pointing towards the tree.

Catherine wanted to keep going and did, in fact, keep going briefly… but she couldn’t just ignore the distressed Bugs. As much as she wanted to help Holo, she had a philosophy she had to follow. She couldn’t ignore her morals just because it suited her. “Okay, what’s the problem?”

Larvesta and Joltik hopped off of her and scurried towards the log on the ground, motioning for Catherine to follow. As she got closer the cries coming from it grew louder, until eventually, she realized it was coming from underneath the log itself. Jumping over to the other side, she noticed a flash of pink underneath the trampled mushrooms. Joltik jumped in and swiped at the rubble, revealing a group of Impidimp and a Morgrem's heads sticking out of the ground.

The fairy-types looked trapped; the log must have destroyed their home and left them stuck underneath. Catherine grimaced, she was going to have to do something to help them. It was only a matter of time before the larger tree fell and crushed the log - and the Pokemon under it. The sense of urgency she already felt only increased with her knowing she had to act quickly not just to save the wild Pokemon, but also to get back to searching for Holo as soon as possible.

“Okay,” she said. “This big tree is going to fall and squash them if we don’t deal with it first. Can you guys knock it over in the other direction?”

Larvesta lit his body on fire and prepared to charge into the larger tree before getting a worried squeak from Princess, and realized it would be a bad idea to do so. The two bugs looked at Catherine in a panic and shook their heads.

“I don’t know what that means, but I’m guessing that’s a no.” Catherine looked over the situation again, noticing the other gigantic trees in the area that weren’t about to fall on top of some helpless Pokemon. “Okay, I’ve got it. Princess, we need a Spider Web. If any one else has String Shot or something, that too. I want you to wrap a rope around the fallen tree and the big one that’s about to crush them. Then take the other end and loop it over a sturdy branch on one of those other big trees. Larvesta, you have permission to carefully fly up and over since it’s quick. Anorith, since Snom doesn’t want to be helpful, you’re on duty to make sure nothing catches on fire. Got it?”

The three bugs nodded and jumped into action. Princess hopped on top of the fallen log and threw out her spiderweb over it, layering it multiple times to ensure it would stick to its surface. Larvesta carefully positioned himself, then shot upwards to one of the sturdier trees' branches and landed on it, before shooting out a rope of string down at Princess’ web. The Joltik then shot out another net at the falling tree, doing the same as the log and layering it several times. Larvesta, string shot still in his mouth, then flew down towards the tree and connected his string to Princess’, completing the mechanism.

Once it was ready, Larvesta - with the rope still attached - dropped down the other side of the branch. If the little bug had been heavier, that might have been enough to lift the fallen long then and there. But it wasn’t though.

“Everyone, grab on as best you can and pull!” Catherine instructed, moving to join Larvesta and gripping the sticky rope herself. As Simon’s team moved to join her, she started to pull with all her (limited) might. Snom, of course, refused to listen to her orders, instead jumping off her shoulder and moving away from the group.

Thankfully, with the aid of Larvesta, Princess and the much-heavier Anorith, they were able to make some headway and the fallen long started to shift and rise, the force pulling against the larger tree preventing it from immediately falling onto the Fairies as its prop shifted.

As several of the smaller impidimps began to scurry away from under the log and pulling their companions out, Catherine’s glance shifted to the taut string above and her eyes grew wide. The branch which was holding the makeshift pulley together was beginning to snap. A crackling noise followed by falling splinters of wood sounded above them - the trees were too heavy for it.

Catherine had always heard that it felt as though time slowed down in a crisis. She didn’t feel that at all. Only desperation. “Do something about the branch!”

Simon's bugs all responded with various strained cries, and she realised that if any of them were to let go and fix the branch, the log would almost certainly come back crashing down. Desperate, she called out to Snom beside them.

“Freeze the branch!”

The ice-type simply continued to glare at her, and snapped out a low growl. This caused the other bugs to collectively scream something at her out of frustration. Yet again, Snom responded with the same low growl, continuing to stare at Catherine.

“Really?! Look, I’m sorry for whatever it is you think I did but now is not the time! Freeze the branch or they’re all going to psyducking die!”

Snom eyed Catherine silently for a moment, then looked up the branch. The splintering wood was barely holding together at this point, and was just about to snap.

The bug sighed and jumped onto Catherine's leg with surprising speed, skittering up her back before launching herself up. Taking a deep, high-pitched breath, she then blasted the branch with a flurry of snow, covering the entire broken section in a thick casing of ice, stabilising it at the last moment.

That was enough. With a few final heaves, Catherine and the other bugs were able to get the fallen log pulled high enough that the remaining Impidimp and the Morgrem were finally able to scramble out to freedom.

With a sigh of relief, and a burning like nothing she had ever experienced in her arms, Catherine let go of the rope and watched as the large tree tumbled down onto the fallen log with a monumental crashing and splintering sound.

“There’s hope for you yet,” she said, glancing at Snom. The bug mumbled something and looked away.

Larvesta, Princess and Anorith cheered as they let go of the string and jumped onto Catherine, knocking her to the ground and they chirped excitedly. The Impidimps and their Morgrem leader approached the group carefully, giving a few thankful yaps to the trainer and Pokemon.

“Well, that’s done. Now we can get back to what we came here for,” Catherine said.

As Catherine turned to leave, the assembled Impidimp and their Morgrem leader all started saying something at once, the cacophony drawing her attention back to them as they continued to blather at her.

“I have no idea what you’re saying.” Catherine suppressed a groan.

Princess then squeaked something at the fairy-types, which caught the wild mons' attention. She pointed towards the trees, then at Catherine, and squeaked some more. The Morgrem nodded and turned to his group, yapping out a few commands, and the Impidimps all spread into the forest, disappearing into the trees' shadows.

“What was all that about?” Catherine said to the Joltik, not that she’d have much idea what the Bug’s reply would be.

Princess took a moment to think about her response, unsure on how to properly pantomime what she'd just said. Snom then spoke up, squeaking at Catherine and motioning towards her own ice crystal.

“They have something for me?” Catherine asked. “I don’t really want a reward.”

The ice-type shook her head and pointed in the direction the Impidimps had run off to.

“Not a reward? What then?”

As soon as the words left Catherine’s lips, one of the Impidimp returned, carrying a blue backpack over its head. Catherine’s own bag, to be precise. She almost laughed at being given back her own belongings as thanks. “That I can accept. Thank you for finding it.”

Gratefully, she took the bag from the Fairy type and slung it back over her shoulders. Now that she had her team again, she could finally go save Holo… and Simon too, she supposed.

“Now we really need to go. Holo and Simon need our help. As much of a screw up as he is, he probably doesn’t deserve to be murdered by a Rillaboom if he’s raised you guys so well, right?” she said. “Besides, Holo definitely doesn’t.”

The bugs squeaked unanimously and hopped back onto her, and the group set off into the forest once more.
RPWLA&MGaming JournalDaily

Songbird

Is Unicorn a good girl?

Female
Seen 2 Days Ago
Posted December 20th, 2021
548 posts
8.6 Years
Chloe woke up in the middle of the night to an unusual chill. She opened her eyes, her field of vision filled with white. The ground immediately around her remained mostly clear and green—the reason she chose the spot in the first place. The trunk of the tree she'd slept against was clean, but the leaves overhead were weighed down; slowly one snapped off its twig, falling along with its contents onto her leg.

It's cold. Cold. But it woke her up. She patted her cheeks a couple times, her body still warm for the moment, then checked her things—or lack thereof. Her bag, her Pokemon, everything was missing. Yet for some reason, it didn't feel wrong. Chloe wondered if she was still sleeping.

"Froslass?" she called, to no avail. She tried Luxio and Milcery next, failing again.

She stood and left the cover of the tree, and was immediately struck by a cold wind the trunk must have been protecting her from. She shuddered, but it was nothing she wasn't used to. She checked the ground, and a step in the snow went her deeper than her heels.

What she saw in the dim lit night was pretty, if nothing else. Freshly fallen snow covered the forest she was in, with very little untouched among the trees and large stones, and not a soul in sight. Her gaze shifted upward, trying to find the moon or stars, but the sky was gray. Dark clouds were unmoving, as though readying for another round.

Chloe started navigating the forest, riddled with trees she couldn't see the end of and stones as tall as her. After a few minutes, the clouds made good on their threat, and snow began falling again, followed shortly after by an indistinct voice in the distance.

The voice continued to echo over the snowscape, asking for help and calling a name she couldn't make out, but not for very long. The wind and snow picked up, coating Chloe's shoulders, and it stopped melting on contact with her head and hands.

She kept weaving through the trees, even as the snow reached above her calves. The trail she left was rapidly covered up, so onward was the only way to go. Soon enough, the gentle snowfall had fully become a blizzard that just about knocked her off her feet more than once.

However, her efforts were rewarded when she found what she guessed was the source of the voice, in spite of no longer seeing more than a few meters ahead.

It was a girl of maybe twelve, curled up tight near the edge of a cave trying to shelter herself from the weather. Long brown hair peeked out from the hood of her thick blue coat, and ice crystals were already settled in the strands. Chloe stepped closer for a better look in the dark—her cheeks were stained with frozen tears, but her slight shivering was reassuring.

It was clear she'd been out for a while. She might have gotten lost—she probably wouldn't admit it. She was looking for something. Or someone was looking for her. She couldn't remember the details. Winter air was deceptively dry, so her voice gave up before anyone could find her regardless.

"Hey!" Chloe yelled, though she figured it was a pointless gesture. She quickly made it to her, finding the cave more than serviceable as a safe area. The wind was no less overbearing, but the snow made it no more than a foot into the cave for the time being.

Receiving no response, Chloe's hand reached out. After a moment's hesitation, she made contact.

The girl melted away into violet particles at her touch, the dream finally falling apart. Chloe jerked back a step, and the snow around her feet began to follow suit. Her hand fell to her side while she looked around; the cave took on the organic features of several large trees grown together. The chilly wind faded in favor of still, humid air, and the scenery gave way to the lush green grass and underbrush of the Glimwood Tangle, though obscured by the lack of light.

Her bag was hung over her shoulder as if it were there the whole time, her Pokemon resting in their balls. Luxio was quick to respond to his trainer's call this time, yawning but ready for whatever she wanted of him.

She turned back to where the girl had been, asking Luxio to light it up for a better look. Chloe couldn't spot anything even then. There was no mischievous snickering, nor anything out of place among her belongings. Instead, she heard only the swish of fur and the clicking of nails on wood from creatures awoken and startled by her disturbing their own rest.

Chloe had heard that there were avid pranksters in the Glimwood Tangle, though it seemed it wasn't just the Pokemon that were keen to play tricks in this forest.

Orx of Twinleaf

Branch into Psyche

Male
The Corner of Hither and Yon
Seen 3 Weeks Ago
Posted 3 Weeks Ago
268 posts
5.8 Years
Team:
Rij
Henj
Pelj
Kolj
Tonj
Tim T
Tim had put his time in the Glimwood Tangle to very good use.

The brush was thicker here than in any other place Tim had roughed through since setting out from Wedgehurst. Henj had had to become comfortable with moving about with trees so close together, improving his skittering skills to weave through places his leg span would have otherwise locked him out of. Pelj had managed to hone her spatial awareness, the better to not be turned around while surrounded by brush that often reached over her head. Rij had shown off his rangering experience, able to put down his head and carve paths through the greenery, but he still had his skill set expanded: where in the past he had merely had to navigate such places now he learned to fight in them.

For Tim’s part, he felt he had improved even further on his ability to coordinate his mons as a unit. It had been one thing to get them to maneuver as a unit out on the sandy stretches of Route 6 or on the narrower tracts of its cliffs, another entirely to keep the pack together in dense foliage that hovered between gloomy and dark at all hours of the day and night. Fighting had become less of a focus for Tim: such restricted surroundings practicality demanded Tim usually had to yield to one of his mons and in so doing retain a more traditional Trainer’s position.

But fighting in general had been less frequent than it had been on Route 6. For one, the density of the Glimwood Tangle made it nigh impossible to track any of the other Gym challengers for a match. How much harder it had been then to scout out hunting targets that could be realistically caught and taken out. There had been a few hunts that had ended mid-chase, the quarry slipping Tim’s group either through exploiting the numerous hiding places everywhere or through Tim or one of his mons getting tied up in the flora. And that had all been without considering the strange berserk mons that were tearing around in the Tangle.

Tim had seen such mons here and there at a distance in some of the other places, but here they seemed especially prevalent, though that might have had to do with Tim’s being so incredibly off the beaten path in the Tangle—as well as that beaten path being so very narrow relative to the Tangle as a whole. Tim wasn't sure what kinds of things might make a mon go berserk in such a fashion, but if it was some manner of contagion he didn't want his mons to catch it, so he’d always opted for retreat when one showed up. And show up they did in the Tangle. More than one night had been interrupted by such a mon tearing into the clearing, and even a couple hunts had been cut short by having one bumble into the fray.

Tim had briefly considered standing up to one of those berserk mons, but none of the ones Tim had managed to be close to had been a conveniently small-enough species for Tim to not think he’d have his limbs snapped for engaging. They seemed properly mad too, lashing out at whatever was in range whether or not there had been provocation, evidently without so much as a basic instinct to eat if the one Tim had spent a day observing had been any indication. Mad mons weren't unheard of, but it seemed to Tim that Galar had a very serious problem here. He only hoped it had something to do with that business about that chairman some time ago he’d heard of in passing, and not that it was the product of some disease that might creep its way into domestic mons.

Through the fighting and the navigating and the fleeing, Kolj the Relicanth and Tonj the Boldore had managed to find their footing in Tim’s crew. For being quite literally a fish out of water, Kolj had really come into her own, learning to follow one of the other mons or even Tim himself to have a path marked for her to follow, becoming a forceful back-up to her chosen partner should she be guided to the fray. She had picked up quickly on telling who was making the most headway, and would Dive over to follow whoever was taking the lead, keeping up surprisingly well on her four foot-like fins. Tonj meanwhile had become very keen on Tim’s orders, anchoring any coordinated movement the group made. With his weight carrying him through the foliage and his strange manner of nonvision showing him the ground under the flora, Tonj had not even once been the one that wound up tied up or falling down when the group moved, and had even raised his voice to call everyone back when someone seemed to be wandering off course.

Interspersed with these group maneuvers were of course general training in clearings as well as Tim’s daily foraging sessions. In the other places, Pelj would follow Tim when he foraged while his other mons were either balled or left at a clearing to keep them out of the way. Tim had only had to forage for himself before Kolj had come along, and since her addition Tim had changed his approach to the task. As Pelj had become confident enough in herself to more consistently remain apart, she no longer insisted on tailing Tim like a pet, so Tim used his foraging sessions as an opportunity for one-on-one time with one mon while the others remained at a clearing.

Tim very much wanted to build the same rapport with his other mons that he had with Henj. Tim could understand Henj better than he'd ever understood a Pokémon before in his life, and he wanted to have that understanding with the other mons that he ran, trained, fought, and slept with. Tim wanted to connect with Rij to better understand how the Rhyhorn had coped with the circumstances that had brought him together with Tim. Tim wanted to attend Pelj more, to better gauge her thoughts on the world after having lived in a cave all her life. Tim wanted to learn about Kolj, what connection she had to Rij, what she made of Tim and his team. Tim wanted to know Tonj and what he had been through, what more he’d be willing to endure.

Tim wanted to know his mons, so he would rotate which one came with him to forage.

But today Tim went alone.

Because Tim also wanted to know himself.

Tim had lived much of his life as a face in the crowd. He had neither aimed for nor wanted much out of life. In his younger years he had had flights of fancy as children often did, but he had quickly grown out of such things. Into the mines, out of the mines, into a book or show, out of a book or show, into bed, out of bed. And then, one day, Tim had met someone to shake up his world. From nowhere she had appeared and to nowhere Tim had followed her. Just as abruptly as she had arrived, she had left. Forever.

Sometimes Tim wondered at his decision. It had been the kind of strange leap a man might take much later in life to satisfy the urges of a mid-life crisis. But Tim had not been middle-aged nor in crisis. It was the sort of lovestruck behavior to be expected of some character in a fiction. But Tim didn't really think lovestruck was an applicable word for what had drawn him to his late friend. Why had Tim done it? What had it been about his friend that had inspired him to step up like he had?

Tim looked at his hands in the darkness. There was one of those glowing mushrooms not too far away to give some bluish light to the tangled plant life. It was thick forest, dark isolation, a place known to be rife with spirits, a place hosting berserk mons that might indeed be able to break Tim like a toy to leave him bleeding in the brush. It was a fearsome place. But Tim wasn't afraid of it. He was afraid of forgetting.

Tim couldn't remember why he had been so drawn to her.

Tim remembered her face, her voice, her laugh, her spirit. But it was fading. Every day of training, of having to mind five mons, of having to feed himself and make his way in the field, every bit of effort and attention he paid to what he was doing now he lost a little of who she had been then. Some day, Tim might wake up and not remember how she had sounded. Sure, Tim remembered a lot of it presently, but he hadn’t dwelt on those memories lately, and he could already feel details of their conversations slipping away.

On some level, Tim knew that he should let himself move on. She was dead. She would always be dead. Nothing would ever change that. As little justice as there was in it, she was dead and Tim was alive. Tim had to live now. But Tim didn’t know how to.

He couldn’t just go back to falling into routine. But without her, what else could Tim do? Aim to be the Champion? Laughable. Beside the other challengers, Tim was, as he had ever been, a background fixture. Even in Unova there had been people that had managed several Badges without ever amounting to anything in the end. It was an accomplishment to do so certainly, but it wasn’t enough to make one realistically a contender for the Championship.

Maybe Tim could go all-in on his stalking, go around and battle the other challengers more openly and frequently. But what would that accomplish? That wouldn’t make him any more than an annoyance, especially considering those challengers were leagues above him and always would be. He would become a laughingstock, a punching bag passed around by his peers. While that would be something, he would not subject his mons to such a reputation.

Maybe Tim should just give up entirely. He had already accepted his life had nowhere to go but down after his friend had left. Why fight it? Continue to be a taskmaster for his mons until they inevitably grow beyond the point that they would have anything to gain by his tutelage, and then let himself disappear into the woods forever. It wasn’t as if anyone would miss him. His mother had probably already forgotten about him, and if his step-father would mourn he’d get over it in time regardless. Tim had no friends in Unova or else he wouldn’t have been so comfortable leaving so abruptly. Tim certainly didn’t have friends in Galar.

Would Tim’s mons miss him? If he croaked now it would probably cause some distress, but eventually, once they had grown together properly as a unit, trained over Tim’s marks, they would leave him behind. Or, if they didn’t do so of their own volition, they would hardly be upset by his disappearance. However much Tim may or may not understand them, they weren’t his friends. Tim didn’t have friends in Galar. Not anymore.

There was a sniffling sound nearby. Tim noticed some small shape was sitting in the brush a small distance away. Tim supposed it had shown up after Tim had sat down himself, and given his general stillness while lost in thought the shape probably hadn’t noticed him. Let it be so, then. There was room enough in these woods for more than one person—man or mon—to sit in reflection.

If the unknown company did notice Tim, what did it see? Was a person defined by what others saw in them? Well of course they were to some degree, but to what extent? If the bulk of a person’s identity could be said to come from what others perceive in that person, what was Tim’s identity? Who did that little shape see?

It saw no one, of course. It saw Tim in the physical sense, but Tim was no one. Tim’s mons saw him, saw a source of orders and a ball-carrier, but outside of that how would they describe Tim? Could they describe Tim? What had the other challengers seen when Tim had approached them? A faceless figure without a name. That’s who Tim was.

The little shape nearby sniffled again but then gasped, apparently noticing there was a human sitting near it.

Tim felt no threat from it. It obviously wasn’t one of the berserk mons or it wouldn’t have sat still so long, and it was small enough Tim was sure he could overpower it if it tried anything. “Rough day, little one?” Tim asked it quietly. Tim had been trying to build understanding with his mons after all, and he felt that part of that meant he should try to talk to mons the way he would humans, sort of equate them together with people to help himself connect. Had a small human child come to sniffle in the dark, Tim would have spoken out in the same manner.

The shape stood up straight. Tim could only see the top of its head and had thought it to be a Phantump, but the strange smooth orb topping the mon proved it to be something else. “Slybon nobblo,” it said strongly. Tim had supposed it had been sniffling because it was crying—as far as Tim was aware pretty much any species cried under emotional strain, and most of them with eyes would shed tears while doing so—but its voice didn’t seem particularly distressed at all. If anything it sounded annoyed by Tim’s intrusion.

“I’m having a rough day,” Tim chose to say in response, ignoring the possibility of the mon wanting to fight. “Bit of an identity crisis.”

The shape lowered itself back down, the green sphere disappearing into the brush. “Bonbon slyb,” it said loftily. “Nobblo slos.” After a moment though it added “Bonbon slos” reluctantly.

Tim couldn’t understand this strange wild animal. He’d never met it before and he wasn’t even able to tell what it was at the moment. All the same, its tone was, surprisingly, not entirely arcane to him. There was a language barrier, sure, but Tim felt the same sort of connection to it he felt when he made small talk with fellow alley-dwellers or exchanged platitudes with passers-by on the trail. “I just don’t know who I should be,” Tim said to it.

“Nosb bonsly slybonbon,” the mon said tiredly after a moment. “Nobblo slos, slyb slybonbon!” It sighed in exasperation.

It seemed to at least somewhat understand Tim in return. Or, more likely, it too found some small comfort in talking aloud, even if the conversation partner understood nothing of the words. “I feel like … like I’m a supporting character in a story, you know?” Tim knew he was stretching the realm of concepts a wild animal might be able to follow, but if he couldn’t understand it and it still spoke to him he wagered it would still listen even when it couldn’t understand him. “But there’s no one for me to support anymore. There are these other stories happening around me but I can’t be a part of them, and I don’t have a story of my own. My team, I feel like I’m more of a set piece than a character in their stories.”

“Nosb slos. Nobblo slyb slos … Nobblo, bonsly, slyb slos.” The mon paused a bit, as if turning something over in its head. “Nobblo onslyb,” it said with finality. “Nobblo nobblo. Bonsly slyb slybonbon. Bonsly … bonsly nobblo. Nobblo bonsly.”

Tim saw the green sphere rise up again and then turn and move away, disappearing into the dark. For having been listening for the meaning in the words from the mon, he hadn’t been listening to their sounds: he had been unable to gauge exactly what the mon had been from its vocalizations. But, in the end, it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter what the mon had been. It and Tim had spoken in the dark, in this lonely, scary place, and had found some small comfort in one another’s company.

If Tim never saw it again, it wouldn’t change what he and it had shared here. Though Tim would never see his friend again, it wouldn’t change who he had become thanks to her influence. Whatever Tim chose to do from here on out, it wouldn’t change that he had attacked Simon and Ryan and Aeliana, that he had spoken so long with Xan, that he had been there when Simon and Haleigh and Aeliana were shot at by bad men in the mines. Tim would not dwell on the ramifications of those decisions after the fact. It was enough that he had made them, whatever the fallout may turn out to be. It didn’t matter who Tim had been in the past or if he had even been anyone at all, what mattered was that Tim was Tim now. Tim would stay Tim moving forward. Whether or not he understood what that meant, whether or not he could articulate who he was, it was enough that he was here, for his mons, for himself, and for her.

Tim stood up and started walking again. Sitting with a wild animal in the dark hadn’t provided Tim with any answers to his questions. But, for some reason, it had eased his mind. Tim had felt a kinship with it. It had also been having some inner turmoil regarding its identity. Even if Tim hadn’t understood its words, he had understood that much. Rather than wallow together with him though, the mon had gotten up and carried on.

What else was there to do, after all? That little mon had had other things to do, and so did Tim. Just knowing another creature in this senseless world was having the same crisis of identity all alone in a haunted forest was enough to let Tim shake off his funk, at least for the moment. Tim had been beginning to forget, after all, so a reminder was always welcome.

Sure, Tim didn’t have any friends in Galar.

But Tim wasn’t alone.
A Cup of Dreams, Pour in Your Soul, a Pinch of Knowing, Stir in with Hope,
and Drink to Despair and Celebration: Drink it All and Stay Asleep, Drink in Parts and Vomit it Back
Joy, Relief, Fury, Fear, Sorrow, Longing, and Pain, Colors that Forever Cope
Despondency and Guilt with Ambition and Pride, No One of this World and Species may Truly Lack

PastelPhoenix

How did this even happen?

Age 27
Male
Seen 1 Day Ago
Posted 2 Days Ago
452 posts
5.8 Years

Achille Béringer || 19 || ♂️
Location: Stow-On-Side
A Simple Place


Joiuse - Shadow Sneak, Slash, Autotomize, Metal Sound, Block, Aerial Ace
Proudhon - Tackle, Crunch, Flail, Bite, Brine, Waterfall
Alizé - Absorb, Tackle, Air Cutter, Supersonic, Double Team, Wing Attack
Ignace - Powder Snow, Tackle, Taunt, Bite, Avalanche, Work Up
Aliénor - Rock Tomb, Dragon Tail, Roar, Ancient Power, Charm, Bite
Terrot - Tackle, Growth, Razor Leaf, Tail Whip, Leech Seed, Worry Seed




Normally, Achille’s introduction to a city involved visiting restaurants and stores. Popping by a local Contest or art gallery, comparing what he saw to his brother’s art. If he was feeling especially lazy he might spend a day or two observing the city from his hotel room. Above all, he stopped by some small local gym and watched a few battles.

He’d neglected it this time, whole-heartedly throwing himself into scouring the small town for any sign of illegitimate business. It took a few days of pacing the streets to realize he was completely out of his element here. He’d never been to Stow-on-Side, why would he think he could find something hidden out of sight here that the locals would miss.

It was foolish to not go to the locals as step one, in retrospect. Trainers talked; they hung out and shared stories and rumors. Despite the size of Stow-on-Side compared to cities like Hammerlocke and Motostoke, this was one of the towns with two active League gyms. This place was crawling with trainers, and they would be the ones talking about missing Pokémon.

He reached into his inner jacket pocket, feeling the wad of bills in a money clip stored inside. Even if they didn’t want to talk, 50,000P should be enough to tempt someone into giving up information. Thankfully an amount his father wouldn’t question him withdrawing too terribly much.

He reached the spot, eyeing up the warehouse in front of him. Sand piled up the sides of the building, only the front being regularly swept. No tire tracks, no crates, no equipment. Only the sounds of Pokémon battles inside. An old building turned into an amateur club. No doubt a hangout for those banned from the official gyms too.

Joiuse floated forward, edging just into his line of sight. A sense of reassurance washed over him upon seeing the twin swords, casting off the split second of doubt. Was he really afraid of anyone in there? Not anymore.

The first thing Achille noticed upon entering the building was that the electricity was on. Someone was paying the bills, which was a good sign for his chances of not getting mugged today. Anyone with an interest in keeping the lights on most likely had an interest in keeping people coming back.

The front room was more or less empty, save for a fridge tucked behind the former welcome counter and some scattered photos tacked to the wall. The unframed prints looked to be of the club members, with members varying wildly between pictures. A group of five were present for about every photo. The only thing that would even strike him as suspicious here was the large lock on the door behind the counter. The narrow, vertical window on the door revealed what looked like a normal office behind.

Nothing here roused his interest enough to warrant further investigation. He tried the doorway leading further in, where the sound of battling was louder, finding it unlocked. Shrugging to Joiuse, he pulled the door open and held it for the sword Pokémon.

A chill air swept over him as he stepped through the doorway, the interior of the building being surprisingly colder than outside. Fragile shards of ice danced in the wind at the center of the room, fluttering along with the Icy Wind attack circling a small Swinub. The target of the frigid assault was a red-and-tan crab shuffling around the warehouse floor, large flakes of ice already hanging to one claw.

His arrival drew the attention of the crowd. A dozen or so pairs of eyes shot over towards the stranger striding into their retreat. Many of the faces lit up with recognition. Good, he wouldn’t have to spend too long introducing himself.

“Evening, gentlemen.” Achille strode up to the crowd confidently, joining them on the sidelines. Joiuse split, flanking both sides of the trainer. “I hope I am not interrupting anything private.” He kept his arms folded across his chest, avoiding any motion towards the money.

Let’s save that as a surprise/

“Private?” A woman near the front scoffed, staring down the newcomer. Achille had seen the woman before; long blonde hair and a Fighting Gym stocking cap with a matching track jacket, she was from the pictures up front. “That depends, are you tryin’ to cause trouble?”

“Do I look like I’m here to cause problems?” Achille didn’t move or take his eyes off the woman, even as the crowd shifted around the edge of his vision. Joiuse was keeping an eye on the crowd. She’d move or send some kind of mental message if it was more than the crowd shifting. He just had to focus on the woman.

The blonde remained unphased. She just shrugged with her hands in her jacket pocket. “Doors unlocked then, innit? Challengers don’t typically cause problems, I guess.”

It wasn’t exactly the most ringing endorsement, but it diffused the tension in the air. The crowd wasn’t going to jump and pretend everything was normal, but a few people did go back to their conversations. The battle even kicked back up; the krabby and swinub raring to start the action up again. The woman Achille was speaking with looked over the group, once then again in a slow sweeping motion. Area surveyed, she strode up to Achille and took a spot next to him, watching over the battle.

The two stood in silence, watching as krabby shot a thin, but powerful stream of water towards the shaggy-haired pig-like Pokémon. The ground type snorted then sprinted away in a surprising show of speed, avoiding the Water Gun. The old-guard of the gym pulled a thin pack of cigarettes from her jacket pocket, retrieving a thin cigarette and a small lighter from the package.

“So, why are you here?” She released the smoke from her first drag then launched into her questioning. “No bullmuk.”

Achille waved the foul smoke from his face, turning to face the asker. “Mostly I came to get some practice in.” Lying about his intentions would only get him kicked out when he came forth with it. He just had to make it sound innocent enough. “I do actually go to private gyms like this.”

“Ego boost?” She interrupted with a blunt tone of voice. His host remained motionless, not even turning to look at the Kalosian as she lobbed her accusation against him. The lit end of the cigarette slowly crept down the paper, neglected after the first puff.

“I mean these places don’t really seem up to your class.” The woman continued, breaking the short silence that overtook the moment, as Achille’s mind spun for an answer. “Or skill, considering you’re a challenger and all that.”

So she knew who he was. “They don’t call the parents of class-ditching teens.” Might as well match her bluntness. “Even after a particularly rich parent requested they be alerted when their wayward son wanders in.” Achille folded his arms and ignored the battle between Swinub and Krabby, focusing his entire attention on his ‘host’. “I’m also looking into something. Someone stole a Pokém-”

“That sentence is starting to sound a lot like trouble.” She took another drag of her newly rediscovered cig. She exhaled, then finally returned the trainer’s gaze. “Look, kid, I don’t tolerate that muk here. No thieves, no playground revolutionaries, and no damn gossip hounds. I can deal with the gamblers and people here for an ego trip usually get knocked down a peg.” That set her off quickly.

But the quick shut down only piqued Achille’s interest. She knew more than she wanted to show. He’ll play along for now. “Point taken. I hope you don’t mind a money match then.” He reached inside his jacket and grabbed a single bill. Let’s not show all of the cards yet. He held up the 1,000 bill for the woman to see, who just shrugged at the gesture.

“I don’t gamble,” she said in rejection, “you’ll have to find one of the others.” The woman turned away from Achille, something Achille was very quickly learning was a good sign that he wasn’t annoying her. Too much. “They might try to act like they don’t want to battle, but they’ll change their minds quickly once money is involved.”

So money will definitely open doors with them. It was hard not to smile after her slip up. Achille suppressed the grin as he considered the possible exploitations of that information.

The Kalosian pocketed the bill again, then returned to his folded armed stance. “I’ll let these two finish up before butting in. I don’t want to steal the show.”

“Too late for that,” his host added with a small snort of surprise. “You upstaged everyone the second you walked in. We don’t see challengers here.”

Achille didn’t have a follow up quip for that. Luckily for him, the ongoing duel between Swinub and Krabby was coming to an end. The mud-caked Krabby lunged forward, pulling its frost-covered claw back. Closing the gap with a rapid sideways sprint, the crab jabbed his claw forward. The iron-sharp edges of the claw raked the hairy pig in a Metal Claw attack. Swinub was pushed back, retreating backwards in a frenzied scramble from the Steel attack. With a loud snort, Swinub lied down and surrendered.

“Is that it?” Someone shouted out from the crowd. Swinub looked in the direction of the shout and snorted in an annoyed tone. Yes, they were done.

“That’s all she has,” the ground-type’s trainer confirmed, kneeling next to the defeated pig. The red haired trainer patted the pig’s head, getting a few happy oinks in response while his dark-haired opponent set about cleaning up the crab. “She’s clever, she knows her limits.”

“I think she’s just psyduckin’ lazy, mate. She acts like she’s afraid of up close fighting, but is bloody ready to have a go at you if you make the mistake of waking her up.” The same voice shot back, getting a laugh from the Swinub trainer. The Swinub didn’t seem to mind, yawning and settling down for a nap in the middle of the battlefield. Which prompted another round of laughter.

The trainer of the mud-splattered Krabby looked up from his kneeling position, where he was using a metal water bottle and the crab Pokémon’s internal water supply to clean the mud. “Hey, Béringer, what are you doing here anyways?” His tone was more of curiosity than accusation.

“I’m here to practice, what else?” The woman in the cap still hadn’t left his side, so he couldn’t fish for information yet. He might scare people off going into money matches immediately too. Keep it friendly. “Decided to see what was going on away from the League gyms.”

“So, I’m hearing you came to lose off-camera?”

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

A Morpeko hit the floor of the gym, knocked out. This was the fourth victim to Joiuse in a row, and the crowd’s cheer was low. Ever since Achille issued the challenge, he’d accepted the first challengers to come his way. The guy with the Krabby was the first up, and had managed a few hits before falling to the Doublade’s Shadow Sneak.

Two more trainers lined up to be dispatched before the teen with the Morpeko decided to try his luck. By now the crowd seemed ready to break back into their individual groups, especially with Joiuse still looking hale, hearty, and unscratched. He suspected some of the best were in those first four, and the others were starting to get cold feet.

Now was time to pull out the big guns. Achille reached into his jacket’s inner-pocket and revealed the wad of cash to the room.

“Well, I was hoping to spice things up a bit… but I’d just feel bad taking your money.” Achille said while smacking the bills across his palm. “So how about this: anyone who can actually beat me gets an award.”

Hungry eyes followed the money as they tapped against his hand. Got you all. It wasn’t subtle, but it worked. “And that’s a full fifty, in case anyone was curious.” He added to sink the hook in deeper.

Still, it seems he went a little too hard earlier. Most people just whispered among each other, trying to get the others to go for the money (at least from the conversations Achille could overhear). A few looked like they might step up, trading glances and smirks among each other. The three friends stopped, pointing towards the other side of Achille’s “field” with an even larger smirk. A few footsteps told the Kalosian that someone finally took the bait. Across stood the woman with the track jacket, the owner of the building.

“I don’t know what kind of stunt you’re trying,” the woman began, eyeing down the trainer with a blank expression that still somehow communicated a deep annoyance. “But if no one else is going to take that, then I will.” She retrieved a Pokéball from her jacket pocket, holding the expanded device by her side. Scuffs and chips covered the basic red-and-white device. It was a somewhat older model too, if he recalled that correctly.

Achille smirked, pulling out another Pokéball of his own. Joiuse looked good to keep fighting, but surely the leader of a successful gym, no matter how amateur, was no pushover? “Nice to see you’ve decided to join the pro-fun team instead of scowling at me all night.” The jest was met with a deeper scowl in return. “Okay, maybe you can have fun while scowling at me.”

A chuckle, but the crowd still seemed transfixed on the woman in the plain looking clothes lazily holding the Pokéball ever since she drew her ‘weapon’. Whatever, let’s get ready. Achille expanded his own Pokéball and nodded towards Joiuse. The Doublade floated back at the silent command, taking a place next to Achille without a word or supernatural projection. The more steelish (in nature) twin remained in the scabbard and fell back into her normal habit of watching the crowd. The more ghastly half took a front row seat next to Achille.

The challenger lifted his Pokéball to signal his readiness; the gym ‘leader’ returned the gesture. Someone to Achille’s right shouted ‘three’, and more voices followed the rest of the countdown.

Twin flashes of light obscured the stadium at the cry of ‘one’, fading to reveal Terrot and a familiar looking Mienshao, kneeling on the ground. The graceful pink Pokémon rose to her feet and nodded at the Skiddo from behind the trailing ‘sleeves’ on the fighting-type’s arms while Achille tried to place the trainer’s face once again.

“Psyduck me, I didn’t even notice,” Achille shouted as the pieces fell in place. The hair, the jacket, the Pokémon. He just recalled where he’d seen her before. “You’re Rebeccah Kanter. Gym challenger six years ago? Endorsed by the Fighting Gym leader?”

The owner finally laughed. “Damn, took you that long to notice, kid? I guess I removed all pictures of myself from the challenge run from the front though. The oldest one was after I had left the gym already.”

“I just wasn’t expecting a former challenger associated with the Fighting Gym to now be leading a splinter gym in the same town." A great deal of questions flooded Achille’s mind. Those all disappeared after another piece of information came to the forefront of his memory. Rebeccah Kanter got pretty far. She wasn’t the standout of her gym season, but she was a strong competitor. He almost wished he kept Joiuse in. This was going to be a rough fight.

But if I win, think of how far I’ll go in this tournament. Even if she was maybe out of practice, she was a good barometer.

"I can tell you my biography later, so long as I get a cut if you publish it." Rebeccah added, a small smile now adorning her face after being recognized. "Didn't you want to battle?"

"Damn, you're right." Achille clicked his tongue, annoyed at having let himself get distracted in the middle of something important again. "The questions can wait until later."

"Good. Fake-Out."

The slender, pink Pokémon rushed forward, dashing towards the off-guard goat. The stoat-like Fighting-type loosed a shrill cry before stopping just short of Terrot, whipping its arms upwards. The Mienshao's paw never made contact with the goat's jaw, but the sleeve-like heavy fur trailing off its forearm made contact with a loud slap.

"Follow up with a Force Palm," Rebbecah shouted as soon Terrot flinched away from the slap.

Mienshao took a step forward and thrust forward an open palm with a twist of her torso. No motion was wasted with the attack, the palm strike was already ready to go as soon as the Fighting-type rushed forward. This opening salvo was practiced.

The 'attack' stopped short of Terrot yet again, but the force of the sudden thrust generated a shockwave of air pressure pointed in the direction of the Skiddo. The shockwave shoved the goat-Pokémon over, causing the Grass-type to tumble over itself a few times while the trainer braced himself to keep standing. Terrot stumbled back onto his feet as Achille readjusted his jacket.

“Strike back,” Achille shouted, his heartbeat kicking up a few BPM. “Razor Leaf!”

The grass-type shook his head, launching a salvo of moon-shaped leaves. “Keep momentum,” Achille shouted as soon as the attack cleared the goat’s leafy mane, “Tackle!” With a glint in his eye and a huff of approval, Terrot took off after the leaves.

Mienshao dipped into a defensive crouch without command. The pink mink-like Pokémon raised its loose fur above its face, a pre-emptive shield against the leaves, but did not move. The Skiddo advanced closer and closer, the sound of his hooves clicking against the concrete.

“Now.” Rebeccah commanded without fanfare. Mienshao leapt forward in a high arc, trusting completely in the trainer’s judgment. The majority of the Razor Leaf barrage passed under the Fighting-type, breaking harmlessly on the floor a few feet behind. The unavoidable leaves cut into Mienshao’s arms, but the thick fur protected from the worst of the attack.

Most importantly, Mienshao was in the air. On a collision course, if Achille’s rough mental physics were correct. A growing disease in his stomach became a full-blown worry when the corners of his opponent’s mouth lifted into a small smile.

“Jump Kick.” Mienshao dropped her guard, straightening her body into a living javelin. Cut fur from the ‘sleeves’ trailed behind as the stoat fell foot-first towards Terrot.

A loud smack echoed through the air as the kick connected with Terrot’s back. The goat fell to the floor and Mienshao flipped effortlessly off her target. The pink Pokémon dipped back into a defensive stance for a reprisal, but dropped it after a few seconds of Terrot lying on the floor. Motionless, save for his breathing.

The woman across from Achille looked unimpressed as she watched over the Skiddo. “You’ve beaten Kabu, have you?” She asked with a judgmental stare directed towards the Kalosian. “You’re not just a rich kid with pedigreed ‘sport’ Pokémon, right? Because you’re going to get someone hurt trying to play trainer with a Pokémon just because he’s fast.”

Achille clenched his teeth. Didn’t you just tell your Pokémon to leap through a Razor Leaf? Any didn’t she target Terrot’s back?!

Click-clack. Terrot answered on his own before Achille could let loose the barb forming on his tongue. Pushing himself to his feet, the Skiddo stared Mienshao down. His right hoof tapped a few times, testing the motion of that leg.

“I think that answers for us both,” Achille added with a huff and a cross of his arms. “We don’t need you to talk down to us like we are children playing with matches. Me and him have chosen to do this already knowing all that stuff. It didn’t change our minds then, and it won’t now.”

Terrot added a capstone to the statement by firing off another volley of Razor Leaves. The two of them were on the same page—fighting the Fighting type head on was a bad idea right now.

The storm of Leaves swept over the surprised stoat, who was too off guard to react. The green goat let another attack loose after seeing the first make contact. There was an idea in the back of Achille's mind, they just had to bait out the right reaction.

The pink Fighting-type emerged from the first attack coated in a small layer of cuts, staring down the approaching salvo. Drawing back her arm, Mienshao readied a Force Palm, unflinching in the face of the coming attack.

With a sudden thrust forward, the shockwave blasted into the rushing Razor Leaf. The force of the shockwave crumbled the sharpened leaves into nothingness. All that remained of the Razor Leaf attack, a slight breeze, passed over Mienshao harmlessly.

Terrot shot another attack, testing Mienshao's new defense. Another Force Palm neutralized the barrage. Mienshao looked like she could do that for hours.

"Don't think you're the first person to have thought of trying to range me out?" Rebeccah said with a bored expression. "I got my recommendation from the Fighting Gym. That's a lot of people's first reaction to seeing a Fighting-type."

"Razor Leaf!" Achille shouted, prompting another flurry of foliage. As soon as the attack cleared Terrot's personal space, he barked another order. "Leech Seed!"

Terrot fired a round of seeds just behind the leaf swarm. At the distance it was traveling, the force of the palm strike would also crack the seeds and release a net of Leech Seed roots.

Mienshao seemed to realize there was no escape from the Leech Seed net if she kept defending like that. The pink fighter crouched again, ready to leap at the first command.

The trainer snapped, the stoat leapt. Achille grinned. There we go.

“Hi-Jump Kick!”

“Worry Seed!”

Mienshao reached the apex of her leap as Terrot braced himself, a bundle of round, white seeds forming in his mane. As gravity began to overtake the Fighting-type, she straightened into a deadly-looking kick. Terrot fired his attack, sending five large seeds towards the coming foe.

Too late to pull back, Mienshao covered her face as she fell through the scattered seeds. One of the attacks was dead on, colliding with the falling fighter’s foot and bursting into a mass of roots around her ankle.

Confidence faded from Mienshao’s face almost immediately. Now seemingly aware of how fast they were falling, and onto such a small and fast target, Mienshao hesitated in committing to her attack. She shifted her body to accelerate slower and give a softer landing in case she missed.

This slowdown gave enough time for the Skiddo to dart to the side. Completely sure that her attack failed now, Mienshao bailed on the attack. She rolled the opposite direction of Terrot’s dodge as she hit the ground, dampening the impact of her collision. Still, Achille winced as he heard the impact. The stoat pulled out of her roll with a fierce look towards Terrot.

“Drain Punch!”

“Leech Seed!”

Both trainers shouted their commands simultaneously, each angling to get the momentum started themselves.

Mienshao leapt forward, taking a running start towards Terrot. Achille caught the Fighting-type rolling her left shoulder right before the charge. It seems the fall did hurt her after all. For his part, the Skiddo readied another batch of the brown Leech Seeds on his mane.

Mienshao closed the gap, clenching her right fist and producing a light glow. A powerful hook collided with the side of Terrot’s face, and the glow intensified upon contact. The impact broke several of the seeds, releasing a mess of thin roots that latched onto Mienshao’s hand and climbed up her arm. Flinching, the stoat grabbed the roots with her left hand and pulled. The roots had wormed their way into her thick fur already, though, and stuck fast.

Snapping out of his post-punch daze, Terrot spat on the ground and rushed forward. Taking advantage of his foe’s Leech Seed related distraction, Terrot used his horns to lift Mienshao into the air and take off into a dead charge. Mienshao’s feet waved helplessly in the air as she was carried across the room, unable to find the ground. She resorted to beating upon the Skiddo’s back upon seeing that the Skiddo’s destination was the far wall. And he did not seem to be slowing.

One half of Joiuse was on the edge of her metaphoric seat with excitement, while the other hid her eye with her hand. Terrot collided with the wall, Mienshao caught between them in a brutal Take Down attack. A mixture of gasps, shocked laughs reminded Achille that there was even an audience here. He’d tuned them out entirely.

Mienshao rose, shakily, to her feet. Terrot stumbled around, stunned from the impact despite his large, pink cushion. This is bad, he’s not recovered from the recoil.

Mienshao looked towards the trainer for a recommendation. It was a brief exchange, one that Achille almost missed. A small shake of the head from Rebbecah, a slight tilt of the head from Mienshao, a nod of approval from the trainer. Then Mienshao took a knee, collapsing from a ‘delayed’ injury.

The hesitation from the crowd turned to a surprised joy. Their leader, too, had been beaten by the challenger. The spectators mobbed the field, a flurry of people trying to get close to the most interesting thing to happen this month. The Kalosian stared at the leader, who’s expression remained unreadable as she moved to tend to her partner. Someone shouted for Achille to catch, and he barely managed to catch a potion flying his way. Dammit, talking to her is going to have to wait. This crowd wasn’t going to let him go without some acknowledgement on his end. That and he still had a wobbly goat to tend to.

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

“Hey, no, seriously though. Where is the bathroom?” Achille asked the group still clinging around him. He’d told the Proudhon capture story for what felt like the fifth time, and desperately wanted a moment to think. It’d been an hour since he won his last match, and he was still trying to find a good chance to find out just why his last opponent forfeited out of nowhere. The crowd had become his jailors, and his fate was now telling boring and safe stories to keep a rotating cast of listeners entertained. And he was running out fast.

Meeting Nemuro and discovering a long lost Pokémon sanctuary was interesting, but he couldn’t prove it without breaking his promise to Nemuro to hide it. The bank story with Clovis would be a good one… but officially credit to that bust went to Clari Whitlocke. Maybe busting a shady Pokémon adoption center with his girlfriend? But that might have technically been illegal…

“I can show you,” came a voice from across behind. Achille turned to see the amateur gym leader herself, just the person he was hoping could save him. “It’s around back.”

“Thanks, if you all would excuse me,” Achille addressed his listeners, “I will be right back. Please guide the way.” He turned back to Rebeccah before any of the crowd could tag along. Trailing after his already departed guide.”

The two navigated the mingling crowd without an exchanged word, making their way towards the back hallway. The prior challenger extinguished her cigarette on the metal wall, between the doors leading to some unknown rooms. About halfway down the hall she stopped and grabbed one of the doors, holding it open and revealing a completely normal men’s restroom behind.

With a wordless shrug Achille stepped through. Rebeccah followed right behind, closing the door and locking it behind her.

“Privacy a little too much to ask for around here?” Achille asked.

“Tough muk, there’s a stall.” The leader pointed out a pair of stalls with a new cigarette she had just pulled from the pack. “I wanted to have a word with you anyways.”

Glad I don’t have to actually go. Achille folded his arms and leaned against the wall. “Good, I was wanting to talk too. You had Mienshao forfeit after the Take Down, despite her looking like she was ready to keep fighting. Terrot was wide open and defenseless too.”

You would have won if you pressed the attack. He didn’t have to give her the satisfaction of saying it, but the fact hung in the air.

“Good, you caught that.” She answered nonchalantly. “I called it off because I saw everything I needed to. Your opening moves were poor, and you gave up any potential early momentum by not seeing a proper Fake Out coming. You relied way too much on Razor Leaf to keep pressure on my Pokémon, yet gave up too early when you did have Mienshao on lockdown.” She continued her lecture, highlighting her points with a jab of her finger. “Seriously, Force Palm takes way more out of Mienshao than Razor Leaf does Skiddo. Even if I would have found a way out of it, it burns some of your foe’s energy while they think of a way out.”

She ended her rant with a sigh. She tapped the ash from her cigarette in the sink and took another drag, holding her index finger straight up to hush Achille, who was already opening his mouth to defend himself. She still had something to say.

“But, you did shift strategy quickly after that horrific start. Baiting out a Hi Jump Kick so you can for sure land the Worry Seed took some quick thinking. As did recognizing my partner was Reckless. You also knew when to shut up and let your Pokémon take the lead, even if the results were a little unrefined.”

“Anyways,” the lecturing lady concluded, shifting topic and leaving her ‘teacher’ voice. “Mate, are you sheltered, just generally bad at bribery, or the boldest asshole I’ve ever seen?” A grin crossed her face, the look of a cat who had cornered the mouse.

“Oh, you caught that.” Achille said as a discomfort rose in his stomach. Embarrassment? Shame? Fear? All of it? Whatever it was, she seemed amused at the situation.

“Psyduck yeah I caught that. Hangouts like this attract certain people. People who think that just because we’re not affiliated with the League means we don’t have rules like the other gyms and clubs do. We kick the troublemakers out, but it also attracts the people they’ve psyducked with. Both types of assholes end up causing issues and disrupting everything.”

“Now, you,” she continued, locking eyes with Achille and causing a chill to run across him. She raised her hand and then lifted a finger. “You come in here and bury the lede about a stolen Pokémon.” Two fingers. “You then swapped to money matches, something not allowed at more ‘reputable’ gyms, and showed me a small amount of cash. Whatever, we get gamblers here sometimes.” Three. “After you sweep the floor with the—let’s be real—amateurs, you reveal you have way more money than anyone expected. You’ve beaten everyone confident enough to challenge you already, but you were just asking about a stolen Pokémon loud enough for everyone to hear earlier.” The blonde dropped her hand, tucking it under her other arm. “I can follow the thought process.”

No response sprung to Achille’s lips. He had been holding his breath through the dressing down; he couldn’t even give a good comeback if he wanted. Yeah, his attempts were bad in retrospect. Was he supposed to be good at this? Why did he even think this would go the way he planned?

“I think I know who did it.” she looked towards the ceiling, taking a deep breath before continuing. “Two other former members of the Fighting Gym had gotten into some shady stuff lately. They run a trainer store in town. Non-official.”

“Hold on,” Achille said, slightly raising his voice at the revelation. He stopped leaning on the wall, pointing at his host. “You knew something this whole time? All this talk of keeping away troublemakers and scolding me for looking into this, and you have psyducking names and addresses of suspected theives?”

“And send anyone who comes asking to their door?” The blonde spat back, but did not raise her voice in turn. “I have no idea what crimes they’re doing. I don’t even know for sure, I cut contact with them after they signed up with some company on some sketchy contact and would not stop badgering me to join too.”

Saloperie. So what about the police? Rangers? Doing anything other than letting them continue.

The former challenger moved her free hand to his temple, making small circles under her cap. “Because. They. Have. Something. On. Me. Too.” She took a drag of her cigarette, pulling until the flames consumed the last bit of white paper and all that was left was a filter. “You’re going to shave several years of my life off with these psyducking questions.” She flicked the filter at the garbage can in the corner, but missed by a good margin. Her hands are shaking a bit.

“Okay? That clear things up?” She was pissed. She glared at the Kalosian as she reached for another cigarette, but found an empty pack. Crushing the box, she tossed it at the trash can and sank it with a perfect throw. “I was going to wash out in the early rounds of the tournament, back during my League run. I managed a win in the first round, but my second round was against someone with a very wealthy sponsor. They offered me a very generous payout if I threw the match.

“I decided against any further gym runs and that leaving the Fighting Gym was best.” She continued, closing her eyes as she recalled the story. “I told a few confidants what happened… and some of them turned out to be scumbags. Who would have guessed I chose mukty friends.” The last part was said in a quieter tone as she broke eye contact with Achille. Her eyes wandered over towards the door, watching it for a moment while Achille digested the information.

“Think anyone is listening?” Achille asked, guessing at what was on her mind.

A shrug. “I give it fifty-fifty. Depends on if they noticed how long we’ve been gone for ‘showing you the restroom’ or not.” She slowly approached the door, careful to not make any loud footsteps on the tile flooring. Smoke spilled out of the room and into the hallway as she poked her head out, taking a peek around both sides before gently closing the door. “Lucky us, we have some privacy still.” She shook her head as she leaned against the door, blocking it from the inside. “I should have checked before voices got raised. Thankfully they’re loud as muk in that main room.”

“Anyways,” she continued, “to finish up this sad, sad story. It was a good chunk of cash. I bought this place and squared some away. The end—of both my story and I’m guessing of my ‘officially on pause’ professional trainer career soon.”

The wheels spinning in Achille’s head finally slowed. Okay, this is a lot. He still wasn’t quite sure if his plan was awful or not, but it seems to have produced results by botching his execution. This luck has to run out at some point. “So… why tell me this if you have that much to lose with it coming out?”

Another pause from the other trainer. She was being more careful with her words after the earlier shouting. “Several reasons, I guess. Trust me, I had no legitimate proof of anything, and rumors fly fast in competitive environments. There was always some unfounded bullmuk being spread around, and stealing Pokémon wasn’t too far off from some of the accusations.”

“I saw a sketchy contract, but it was more sketchy in the terms and stuff. Exclusive image rights for far too long in exchange for money is what stuck out to me, but the entire thing seemed pretty vague as far as what they were actually paying you to do. I’m not exactly a lawyer, but I was taught a few tricks from a mentor in case some sponsor tried to screw me over.”

She caught herself going off topic, and cleared her throat. “Anyways, I stopped hanging around them so much after they kept going on about the company. They were assisting in some study by catching a bunch of Pokémon around the town. The rumors started a few months after that, and just cemented me staying away. They stopped coming around here on their own, no conflict needed.”

Achille nodded, that checked out enough to him. When was the last time he’d spoken to someone from Kalos who wasn’t his family anyways? How many of them would I have really trusted with a secret of that magnitude though? “Makes sense to me.”

“Right, so then today, you walk in. And let's be honest, this isn’t your kind of place. Even if you go to these hole in the wall clubs and gyms, they’re in the city. Aren’t they?” Rebeccah pointed at Achille, who remained silent. No need to confirm or deny anything for her.

“I’ll take that silence as a yes, you don’t go to tiny clubs in hideaways like Stow-On-Side.” she added quickly. I see. Pensive silence for me, but not for thee. “And here you are, above this place in both wealth and career, obviously trying to take some investigation into your own hands. Even if I’m ready to dismiss the normal gossip mills, this is too much for even me to ignore. It’s starting to become a big deal, and I’m bound to get caught up in it somewhere. At this point I’m either alerting you and sending a private tip to the authorities, or kicking you out and alerting the authorities either way.”

“And that ties back to the forfeit, I’m assuming.” A headache was beginning to form from sitting in the smoky room. Let’s get this all wrapped up, please.

“Correct, I saw everything I needed. Honestly, they weren’t anything special in the gym, but I didn’t want to send someone coasting by on Pokémon bought by daddy and trained in clean and fair arenas to a sketchy-ass place like that.”

The teen smiled. “Thank you for the vote of confidence. Now, where is this place?”

The older woman put out her hand in a stop motion. “Hold on, Mr. Béringer. The final reason I decided to spill the beans to you is that 50,000P sitting in your pocket.” For the first time tonight, her grin was particularly genuine. “That is what you brought it for, right?”

Bordel de merde, you’re shameless.” Achille let out a deep sigh, covering his face and shaking his head. It’s what it was intended for. Just give her the money and she’s out of your life. He reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved the money clip, tossing it to the woman a few feet away. “Here. Please just tell me where they are so I can get this Herdier back.”

Catching the bills effortlessly, his newfound informant did a quick count of the bills. Much to Achille’s annoyance; someone even considering he’d short them when they’re already blocking the door. “Shameless, bribable, and with bills for a warehouse.” She said in an innocent voice with a smile across her face. “You lucked out, Mr. Béringer.” She dropped the voice and returned her attention to her guest. “You’re looking for Rodrick and Trevor at Ruby Way Trainer Supply, over on… well… Ruby Way. I hate the name too.” Achille must have made a face to provoke the last comment.

“No other employees are going to be there, right?” Running into someone else at the store would be hard to explain.

“Not that I’m aware of. The place has a pretty small clientele.”

Well, that’s a relief. Achille still had to decide how exactly he was going to approach this, but that was one less thing to fret over. “I’ll check it out then. Thanks for the honesty.” He checked his phone; muk, they’ve been speaking for that long? He did not want to spend the rest of the night answering questions. “Is there a way out the back by any chance?”

Rebeccah smirked, turning and pulling the door open for Achille. “To the right. Follow the hallway and there’s another right. It locks automatically behind you though, so don’t forget anything.”

Achille stepped into the hall, feeling fresh air in his lungs in far too long. “Didn’t bring anything anyways. It’s been… pleasant?” A shrug was the only response he got. Yeah, this was weird. Weird is a monthly occurrence now, I guess.

He responded with his own shrug and started down the hall, past solid wood doors and under blinking, buzzing lights. Sure enough, there was another turn in the hall just ahead, and an old burned out exit sign.

“Hey, one more tip,” Rebeccah’s raised voice came from down the hall. “There’s a payphone that still works two blocks north of the store. If you call and report you’re concerned about a fire type being loose, the Fire Department and Police are more likely to show up.”

“All this ranting about shady people, and you’re the sketchiest one here,” Achille shot back, looking over his shoulder. He received a rude gesture as the target of his barb turned her own corner, back towards the main room.

The late afternoon sun stung his eyes upon exiting the building, sending Achille digging around his jacket for his sunglasses. The lack of natural light and excess of smoke in that bathroom did not help. It was a shame the weather was so nice, he had plans to make for this evening.


Terrot forgot how to use Tackle, and instead learned Take Down!



Inventory:

Spoiler:
1000₽
Pokédex
ATC
Old Rod
Nevermelt Ice
String of Pearls