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[PKMN OPEN] Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

Turnip

Magnificent Turnip
  • 693
    Posts
    12
    Years
    Woah This Guy's Psychic Too Coincidence?? Crazy Anyway It's Gym Part 1
    Featuring Jerry (briefly), Kass, Xan and Sphinx (in passing)


    The Galar League's gym challenges continued to be an exercise in demonstrating that psychic power was, as it turned out, in incredibly powerful tool for general problem-solving. Jerry was terrified of even-spookier-looking-forest and was quickly bailed out for the sake of his own sanity, but the rest of the team with their myriad of talents all had parts to play. Kass' supernatural senses and psychoportation-assisted agility made them a natural seeker of the soothe bell prize, and once it was found their guidance out of the Glimwood was invaluable. As someone who was not allowed to be attacked directly, Xan was the designated bell-holder once it had been located. The human's enhanced personal awareness and psychokinesis that had been practised for delicate, intricate movements made them more than capable of keeping the prize away from grabby hands. Not that that was as necessary as it might otherwise have been, as Sphinx's natural tendency toward fury was such that the would-be interloper was left... busy. The Vulpix's unceasing aggression, which tended to be more of a problem, actually ended up serving something of a purpose. While a more reasonable Pokémon would have been a relatively meagre thorn in the Impidimp's side, the sheer level of dangerous, fire-spewing animosity brought to bear left the would-be thief with its hands full for the majority of the challenge's duration - and once it was over, probably seeking some kind of comfort or therapy.

    So it was that the Ballonlea gym challenge was completed and Xan was met with, for one of the few times in their life, a fellow human psychic. To say that Xan was already aware of who Avery was would be saying too little. The Psychic-type Gym Leader was someone who exhibited psychic powers in the public eye, and as such Xan could scarcely have been more familiar with him. To that end, Avery was... a disappointment, truth be told. He was perhaps the foremost person in Galar that the populace could look to as an example of a human psychic, and yet his purview boiled down to Pokémon and parlour tricks. His psychokinesis was serviceable but simple, style over substance. Flashy for viewers who didn't know what psychic power could actually do, but in actuality not particularly complex or even all that useful-looking - and obviously so even viewing it through a screen, which was an impressive level of clarity, Xan supposed. Paraded on the stage of his Pokémon battles as a novelty, to prime an audience who didn't know better with tiny little oohs and aahs before the main event took centre stage. With an opportunity to demonstrate the power to mantle the fundamental forces of the universe, Avery gave the public clownery. It was his fault, the thought had crossed Xan's mind a few times, that human psychics were perceived with such nescience, such... confused, oblivious bewilderment. The bastard had made his gifts into a circus and now everyone else was expected to be funny.

    Xan pushed the thoughts to the back of their mind. Unnecessarily hateful, and not entirely fair either. They had long since come to accept the nature of Avery's prominence in the public eye, as much as his presence irritated old wounds that they had thought were healed shut. It was a disappointment for Xan, yes, but Avery didn't owe them a damn thing. He could use his gifts however he pleased. Not his fault he wanted to be an entertainer - and apparently was succeeding at it. Psychic power was a versatile, useful tool and entertainment was, in theory, a valid application for it. No reason to make him a scapegoat. The real blame rested on the ignorance of the masses - and even then, it was the ignorance that was at fault, not the masses themselves. Not much they could really do about their lack of knowledge given the scarcity of readily available information. There weren't any people to point fingers at who deserved fingers pointed at them, the situation just sucked, and it wasn't going to get any better unless someone did something to change the situation. Coming back around, full circle, to reasons Xan was here in the first place. Right. Kass' ball slipped out of their pocket into their waiting hand.

    "Entranced by the elegance of my psychic power?" Avery spoke, signalling the end of Xan's reverie. The Gym Leader was juggling his Pokéballs, providing constant psychokinetic attention to them all throughout the entirety of their trajectories. A lack of efficiency, for sure. A lack of confidence, perhaps.

    "Wh-? Hi, I... you know you can just let them go through the natural arc, when you throw them up?" The challenger mumbled softly, gesturing half-heartedly at the levitation with one hand as the other hit the release on the Kadabra's ball. "Shouldn't have to babysit them the whole way through, just correct them when they come back down if they're a little... yeah I don't know why I'm throwing out unsolicited advice."

    Kass appeared, pointed at the juggling and clapped politely. Xan exchanged with them a telepathic welcome.

    "Hmph! I remember you now - the psychic in the challenger bracket!" Recognition flashed in Avery's eyes, followed by a mischievous glint. "What, you don't know Imprison, so you're trying Instruct instead? You think I'll end up Psyshocked by some kind of Power Trick? I Reflect that kind of heckling - it's my Calm Mind, you see."

    "Fu- I'm just- shut up, I'm not even doing the-" Xan glanced around a little - no chance at any kind of conversation that wasn't for the cameras. Avery had been putting it on for the screens since before Xan even stepped out, and their arrival hadn't changed that one bit. May as well abandon the relatively hushed tone, then. "Fine, whatever, wear yourself out unnecessarily and see if I care."

    "You-? Oh, you remind me so much of-! I'm sorry? I think I... well, that wouldn't be overly... mm, but I suppose it would be..."

    What on earth was this lunatic-? Oh wait, actually this made total sense. Avery's ramblings weren't another kind of strange performance for the crowd - Kass was here, and the Gym Leader was ignoring Xan in favour of some kind of telepathic messaging from the Kadabra. Honestly, the challenger couldn't blame him.

    "You're right, you're right, it would be an entertaining prospect either way..." Avery's musings on unheard Kadabra-mail continued. A chuckle. "I- a funhouse mirror match? Is that what you mean by that? Challenger!"

    Xan tilted their head in response to being called on. Following along as best they could with only one side of the conversation, they guessed that Kass was somehow negotiating something.

    "I will be taking your Kadabra's joke!"

    ... Or that. Probably both.

    "Credit the artist," the challenger said simply.

    "Why of course," Avery placed a hand to his chest, mock-offended. "What do you take me for, some kind of Hyperspace Hole?"

    Kass actually snorted. Xan chided the Pokémon telepathically and they could only give a cheeky shrug in response. Avery turned to address the crowd and cameras, so Xan took the brief opportunity to speak succinctly to the Kadabra.

    "All right Kass, you know what the deal is. Probably a little better than me if I got the right impression out of that conversation-" Telepathic message passed their way. Kass but bigger. Avery had an Alakazam, of course. Not difficult to figure out, nice to be sure though. Heh, funhouse mirror match... "Right, so raw power's obviously on their side, but we both know- well, that you're smart as hell, so: remember the whole game plan. Lean back on the basics. Beat them on that. They're psychics too - focus on what's in front of you, deconstruct it, counter it. You got this."

    Kass fist-pumped an affirmative.

    Xan tried to ignore the typical fare of Gym Leader crowd-pandering and focus on the task at hand - a mission that became all the more easy as the setup for the battle got truly underway. The arrival of Avery's Alakazam was followed shortly by an encroaching mist and a supernatural glow from the very ground they all stood on. The challenger felt their horizons expand and their senses sharpen, their surroundings rendered in psychosensory detail. Misty Terrain, Psychic Terrain, as advertised. Not a feeling they had experienced before, but wow, they could sure get used to it. Not entirely dissimilar to a room filled with burned Odd Incense, as they had mused before, but not exactly identical, either. The effect was harsher,though not in an unpleasant way, far more potent, and the texture was different. A pulsing thrum through their being, rather than a serene wafting. The aura of the vicinity on top of the assortment of foci that adorned their person was an electric feeling that sent their powers flaring, begging to be used. Scouting and providing callouts didn't seem like the most satisfying of uses... but, well, that was what was needed right now. For Kass' sake, now wasn't the time to get distracted.

    "... And so by using my incredible sixth sense I was able to easily abide the obvious attempt at communication! The challenger's Pokémon has suggested... a funhouse mirror match!"

    Holy crap, they tuned back in and Avery was still working the crowd. Maybe they would have been safer spending more time distracted than they thought. Wait- was he suggesting that receiving a telepathic message was an achievement?

    "Of course, being the gracious host I am, I have decided to grant this polite request!" Avery continued. "I could not deny the challengers a fitting example - a chance to learn from the best! Nor indeed could I deny the opportunity for a bit of tastefully elegant asymmetry-"

    Avery turned to the crowd and Kass took the opportunity to make a funny face behind him. Not just one person working the crowd, I guess. Xan's senses, enhanced beyond what was normal, picked up faint psychic activity from the two Pokémon on the field. Those two must be getting chatty.

    "So, Challenger," He was still going. "Although you have little hope of leaving here with your pride intact - take heart! And viewers at home, don't look away from your Light Screens! Today's example will mark the beginning of this Challenger's long and arduous journey to becoming perhaps half as elegant as I, Gym Leader Avery!"

    "I'm gonna fucking throw up," Xan muttered.

    The announcer signalled the start of the battle, and with it the two Pokémon immediately jumped into action without any command from their respective trainers, bringing their psychic powers to bear. Nothing unusual for Xan, but...

    "Alakazam? What-?" Avery's confusion was cut off by a chuckle, which soon echoed itself in a ripple through the crowd. They had both used Reflect.

    "Having fun, Kass?" Xan called out. The Kadabra's happy little jog was as good a response as any.

    "Well," Avery adjusted his hat. "That was a pleasant interlude - it will provide a stark contrast to your imminent descent into despair! Prepare yourself! Alakazam, Shadow Ball!"

    Their evolution in Kabu's gym was long behind Kass, and the days of hesitating to Teleport with it. The battle began in earnest, with the Kadabra's inherent evolutionary disadvantage putting them on the defensive. Thankfully a strategy of avoidance was nothing Kass was unused to.

    "Nice and steady, Kass," the challenger called out. "Remember, create opportunity, take advantage if it's good enough. Never want to damage trade in this matchup. Opportunity-!"

    Kass was already on it - the Alakazam had begun a meditative process that the Pokédex would describe as Calm Mind, and the Kadabra was keen to punish any action that wasn't evasive or threatening. Xan was perhaps a little overly excited that their enhanced senses had managed to pick up on the start of the move, forgetting that they could easily have seen it coming several moments prior if they had been listening to Avery calling out the move in the first place. Sometimes, after a long route of wild battles, it was easy to forget that opposing Trainers could provide a much easier window into the immediate future even if their strategies overall were far less predictable.

    Lancing out from the Kadabra's spoon was a tendril of compressive force surrounding a psychoconjured construct. A little trick stolen from Nessa's Lanturn - Kass had been practicing conjuration, and they had figured out the intricacies of the Psybeam lasso. It hooked onto the Alakazam's leg and hurled the Moustachio'd Menace into the floor repeatedly.

    Avery called, "Alakazam, destroy it!"

    "Kazam," the Alakazam shook its head, found psychic purchase and made short work of the lasso.

    "Hmph!" The Gym Leader flourished one arm before pointing a challenging finger at Xan across the field. "We're plenty familiar with your exploits, Challenger! Role Play as Nessa's Lanturn all you like, we all know how that battle ended - Alakazam, Signal Beam! Predict the Kadabra's movements!"

    "Good hit. Probably not going to work a second time, Kass," Xan ignored Avery, advising Kass. More cautiously than before, the two Psychic Pokémon returned to a tense standoff of attacks and dodges, each vying for any minor positional advantage they could leverage. Avery's Alakazam had a lot of tricks, and more battle experience than Kass overall. But Kass had been focusing steadily on the basics they were currently performing - the one kick practised a thousand times - and those basics were being supercharged by the aura emanating from the floor. Shadow Balls, Signal Beams and the occasional Tri-Attack had no such benefit. That said, the small psychokinetic bursts that Kass was able to retaliate with on occasion were fairly easily dodged in turn, even if the Alakazam didn't seem as keen on acrobatic evasion as the younger Pokémon. Direct hits were nowhere to be found, and glancing blows were rare and resisted.

    Kass made some space and put up a Reflect again. No way that wasn't part of a plan.

    "Alakazam, Calm Mind again!" Avery took advantage of the space too - if it came down to a battle of attrition, that would surely be the path to victory. Kass shot a Psybeam lasso toward their opponent's neck and jumped up on a cloud of force to follow up behind it. Avery's eye glinted in anticipation and he called out to his Pokémon again, tipping his glasses slightly. "Such an inelegant mistake - Alakazam, destroy the lasso and throw it back!"

    Just like the Lanturn's had been three Gyms ago, a kinetic yank from a Psychic Pokémon destabilized the psychic construct and shattered it into pieces. More prepared for it now, it was clear the Alakazam was more than capable of replicating Kass' deconstruction of the lasso technique - and indeed, more than capable of replicating the follow-up attack. Shards of psychically conjured material were caught and returned to the sender, embedding themselves into... a wall of-? Kass twisted in space, bringing the conjured shrapnel into the confines of their Reflect. The form of their Lasso had been disrupted to the point of apparent uselessness, but the Kadabra had never let go of their hold on it - now the two psychoconjuration techniques had been fused together and Kass brandished the thin wall as a makeshift weapon as they continued to rocket toward their foe. Replicating techniques was one thing, but Kass and Xan's learning techniques were such that the Kadabra understood the fundamental nature of every action they took. Mystical powers to be moulded like putty - you know what didn't mould like putty? Neither the improvised weapon, nor the Alakazam's head, that was for sure. Kass didn't let up. The melee onslaught took the more evolved Pokémon by surprise, and the momentum shifted in the Challengers' favour.

    Kass learned... Psycho Cut? Maybe? Xan would have to check the Pokédex later.
     

    Songbird

    Tonight, the marigolds bloom for her.
  • 554
    Posts
    10
    Years
    • Seen Apr 11, 2024
    § Chloe

    Ballonlea was a mystical place. Chloe felt like it was the most aesthetically pleasing town in Galar; and now that she was here a second time among the array of colors and luminescent plants, that opinion merely reinforced itself in her mind.

    She wasn't in the town itself for long, however, as Chloe only gave her team a day to rest. After committing to the bit back in Stow-on-Side, she wanted to get her gym challenge out of the way sooner rather than later, and the local gym sent challengers back into the Tangle. One of the gym staff was waiting at the edge of town to fill her in on the finer details.

    At some point the two had gotten into a conversation about the staff member's work. "A big part of my job is scattering the items that challengers need to find and making sure people get out safely, so most of my time on duty is spent in the woods until I'm called over. I could walk the whole thing and back blindfolded by now. Easier blindfolded too."

    "You have got to be kidding," Chloe laughed.

    "No lie! Just ask Alan in reception. But the worst part is having to throw off the Pokemon. They realize you're not looking, they make more noise to mess with you instead, and some of them are psychic types so they can use your own thoughts against you. You gotta keep 'em on their toes. But if they're having fun, you get out a lot easier."

    Their conversation veered into other topics for the next hour or so—or what felt like an hour or so, considering it was impossible to tell by the sun in Ballonlea. It might've been more. When they finished Chloe gave her things a once-over and readied herself to head back into the woods.

    "Best of luck, challenger. But be careful. As soon as you begin, you won't be the only one looking to take home a bell."

    § A Certain Gentleman Thief

    He was a member of a gang—a squad of wild Pokemon employed as mercenaries.

    They were unbeholden to any human's whims, always doing only as they themselves pleased. Their group retained a code of honor that they obeyed, of course. But it's not as though any would understand the inner machinations of the minds of noble gentlemen such as them.

    Being what they were, they would diligently hear out requests made of them, should anyone stumble upon their secret hidden hideout. Then, one day, residents of the nearby human habitation came to them with an offer they couldn't refuse.

    It was a simple job that provided a steady supply of negative emotions to feast upon for no more effort than they already put in. Less, even, in some cases. A devious test the humans concocted required participants to retrieve a silver bell that had been strategically placed in the gang's territory. And once the test was issued, a member of the gang would steal the bell right from under the challenger's noses.

    Unfortunately, as of late, several of this one's comrades had suffered greatly at the hands of these challengers before they could even lay their hands on the treasure they sought. They did little more than solve problems with their fists. Where was the spirit of competition? The thrill of the chase?! Savages, the lot of them!

    One, a battered comrade complained, obscured himself in a smokescreen and brutalized him by swinging pillars of stone. None of the clever traps he laid were an obstacle to him. And to add insult to injury, a sentient black wheel rolled over his face when he was already writhing in pain!

    Another to attempt grand theft bell came back even worse for wear, covered in muck and colored black and blue underneath. The gang was lucky to find a passing Spritzee to heal him, but they feared he might be too traumatized to continue after this.

    There were still more challengers to come, according to a report made by one of the humans who ran the test. This one's turn was coming up, and for the sake of the group's honor he could not fail so spectacularly. This time, he would wait near the bell rather than follow the challenger through the forest. Patience was the key to success, after all.

    And yet... he was kept waiting. Thirty long minutes passed. Then an hour. And longer still, he waited. His patience was running thin. He took to making some fun by hanging upside down from a tree branch and acting like a Mankey. He startled a traveler, which got him a good laugh, but it wasn't who he was after.

    Eventually, just as he was nearly fed up with waiting any longer, another human came. She wasn't lost—her eyes lit up when she spotted the sparkle of the silver bell against the backdrop of glowing fungi. Finally, he groaned to himself.

    To pull off a truly great heist, he had to have restraint. He couldn't simply jump down and take the bell before she can touch it. No, he had to take it only once she felt it was safely in her grasp.

    She's looking around, making sure nobody's coming... almost... there! Or so he thought. The blasted tree he jumped from betrayed him, making noises of scraping wood on feet. She turned in his direction in time to protect herself, and he collided with her arm.

    He cried with an admittedly unbecoming "gya" noise, scrambling (gracefully, of course) to evade capture. With perfect poise and skill, he soon dove face-first into her bag, reaching around for anything he felt like he could carry. His hands latched onto something soft, and he was thrown away with it.

    The trainer checked her bag while he recovered, calling out one of her Pokemon from its ball. A feline. He had enough time to see what it was he managed to stea—borrow.

    A delicate black cloth, he held in his hands. Simultaneously thin, yet somehow durable. A handkerchief? He unfolded the thing and examined it in full. Not a handkerchief, it had holes in it. Two rather large holes, and exceptional elasticity.

    "Oh no, you didn't..."

    Aha! It must have been a fancy mask of some sort! Did she perhaps moonlight as a phantom thief herself? Could this girl be one of his people?

    "Give that back, right. now."

    Regardless of what it was, it was clearly important to the trainer. Having retrieved an item sufficient for infuriating the lass, the bell that was their objective was now a secondary concern to the both of them.

    "Don't you dare. Luxio!"

    Luckily for this gentleman, the mask appeared to be a perfect fit for him. He stretched the holes back around his ears to secure the mask to his face, and just before he could suffer a beating he would surely never forget, this indomitable thief leapt into the air. He landed atop a low tree branch with a marvelous flourish, then absconded with his prize in the direction of the human town.

    The chase was on.

    She was never going to catch him here, of course. Not in the Glimwood Tangle. He knew it like the back of his hand. However, the goal wasn't escape—his gang were tricksters, nothing like common bandits. He needed only to keep her on the edge until the climax. That was why he made for the town, taunting her and her feline all the while.

    The Luxio attempted to use Thunder Shock a time or three, so he bounded from a tree and onto a giant mushroom. The landing triggered a violent reaction from the fungus, and as he jumped to a new branch a brilliant flash of light adorned his behind and blinded the pursuer. In response, the human called out a second Pokemon—a ghost type, one that could surely chase him down at the leisurely pace he was moving. Time to get serious, I suppose.

    Either this mask was of incredible value, or she truly understood the spirit of this endeavor, but she refrained from using particularly destructive attacks. He found himself appreciating her effort to keep up, and was thoroughly enjoying the exercise of dodging the attacks of her Froslass by the time he set foot on the homes in Ballonlea.

    The town was graciously small, and not especially lively at the entrance of the Tangle. He wondered if the humans were pre-occupied with something. No matter, he thought. They were of no concern to him.

    "Froslass, Powder Snow!" the trainer called out as he landed on a third roof. "Knock it down!" He knew that attack—one that wouldn't have had any effect besides a light breeze given the distance he kept. In fact, he had more than enough space between himself and that abominable snowghost to stop and pose if he so chose, as his rogues were wont to do. He slid to a halt, turned to face the trainer, and laughed his most diabolical laugh.

    But then flakes of snow grew larger and closer, much faster than any powder snow he'd seen. His face met with a high speed snowball, and he was sent flying.

    § Pia

    Somewhere in that self same glowy mushroom filled town was an unsuspecting trainer going about her day. With a Pikachu at her side, almost directing her footsteps she seemed to be rather lost in thought.

    "If I have that interview, I won't be able to make it to the contest…" She muttered to herself. "But it would garner enough money for—" The blonde suddenly stopped in her tracks. She held her Stow-on-Side badge in her hand and stared at it before grabbing a ribbon case from her bag and holding it in the other, also staring at it. Milla gazed around the area, no longer surprised at all by her trainer's disposition and habit to get lost in thought lately. Pia groaned.

    "I'm slowly starting to understand why a certain someone was skipping his gym challenges." She sighed. "Not that I agree with it, of course. It's a matter of prioritizing and balancing your responsibilities." Pia tucked her ribbon case back in her bag and placed the fairy badge neatly with all her other badges. That was the fourth now.

    A scream from above pulled Pia out of her daze; not long after, a cold and painful crash knocked her flat. Groaning, she tried to grab whatever it was that slammed into her, but it was alive and far too energetic—an Impidimp, for some reason covered in snow that kept her from getting a grip.

    "Sorry!" an approaching voice called out to her. Pia felt a tug around her neck, and the Impidimp fled. "Don't let it get away!"

    She pushed herself up, rubbing her chest and hoping it wouldn't bruise. She turned to where the Pokemon ran, watching a Luxio and Froslass follow it up the side of a house. Their trainer, presumably, stopped to help her instead, and gave Pia a hand to get her back to her feet. "I'm so sorry. You're not hurt too bad?"

    "I'm well enough, I suppose." Pia patted the dirt off her back, examining the trainer as she did. She must have been running quite a bit judging by the heavy breathing, and though she made no indication of it, she was likely still in a rush. That it was an Impidimp she was after made it clear what was going on.

    The girl asked her, "It didn't steal anything when it hit you, did it?"

    Knowing they were notorious thieves and highly opportunistic, Pia went about checking her belongings and the ground around her. The tug from a moment ago occurred to her, and after tapping her collar she hastily answered, "I think he has my necklace!"

    She promptly joined the chase, and they introduced themselves as they ran. Pia couldn't quite remember where she recognized Chloe, but left figuring it out for later. Pia called out her Whimsicott, Soma, to help out alongside Milla.

    The Impidimp stopped one more time to taunt the trainers again, illuminated by glowing mushrooms below and the scant sunlight filtering in through the trees above. Pia spotted the glint of her necklace hanging off one of its ears, as well as what it was using as an impromptu mask.

    "Is that your—"

    "Don't say it," Chloe flatly interrupted. Knowing that, Pia felt some relief by association that nobody seemed to be watching the chaos.

    The thief then took an overly dramatic leap of faith from the roof into a cart of berries, leaving Luxio and Milla to butt heads in a failed pincer attack. The cart's owner left his house to investigate the resulting noise, and the Impidimp threw a half-eaten berry at him before making its getaway, seemingly adding another body to the chase. However, this one gave up after shouting at the rogue Pokemon with the berry in hand, immediately bringing the party back down to Chloe and Pia.

    Taking the chance to talk to each other throughout the ordeal helped calm them both down greatly. Meanwhile, their teams' combined efforts kept the Impidimp within the town's borders. That, or it was messing with them. Regardless, it continued to evade them as it was much more familiar with Ballonlea, but it gave them time to come up with a plan.

    Milla started with Double Team, using the copies to lead the Impidimp into barricades made by Froslass' Powder Snow. They used the combination to corral it over the next chaotic minutes, where it pulled an astonishing bag of tricks out to elude them, including disguising itself as a mushroom as they ran past. When they finally pushed it past the corner of one home and into the space between houses, Luxio was already there waiting for it. There was nothing it could use to climb up and flee, and Chloe and Pia arrived to block the way back.

    "Soma," Pia ordered, "use Stun Spore." And floating overhead, the Whimsicott dealt the final blow.

    § Chloe

    After Chloe recovered her unmentionables, and Pia put her necklace back where it belonged, the Impidimp was left paralyzed on the ground to hopefully reflect on its actions. Pia decided to accompany Chloe back to the gym's reception desk, and she was grateful for the company. Chloe gave the receptionist the soothe bell she needed to retrieve, garnering some obligatory celebration from the staff. Pia apparently finished her test already—though she hadn't stepped into the stadium for her battle quite yet—and didn't suffer anywhere near as much.

    Electing not to immediately challenge the gym leader, seeing as they ran themselves ragged, the pair instead found a quiet café to relax in and get to know each other better. Pia was especially a fan of the establishment's cozy, fairy-themed décor, and the atmosphere worked wonders on them.

    An hour or so of chatting and light snacking later, Chloe and Pia decided to go back to their respective lodgings for the day. But when Chloe stepped out from the shop, she was greeted with a cheerful cry from the roof that sent a chill down her spine.

    Diving directly into her bag with pinpoint precision, the Impidimp made its second unwanted appearance of the day, and Chloe just about threw her bag at a wall. "What is wrong with you?!" she screamed. Barely keeping her wits, she forcefully grabbed the Pokemon's noodly leg, and flung it across the street as Pia came rushing out behind her.

    "Are you alright?!"

    "I think so..." Chloe nearly panicked that it might have somehow developed a perverse attachment to her underwear. However, her fears were quickly put to rest, and even more quickly replaced with confusion. And then fear again.

    "Nyaha!" The Impidimp nimbly hopped to its feet, and struck a victorious pose. The item in its hand this time was a ball, reflecting a conspicious red and white gleam. It brandished a wide grin, and knocked it against its own head.

    "Uh..."

    "Huh?"

    Chloe caught? an Impidimp
    Prankster
    Fake████ | Trick | ████████un██ | Swag███ | █████████a██ | P███in████o█​
     
    Last edited:

    Turnip

    Magnificent Turnip
  • 693
    Posts
    12
    Years
    Anime Continues To Do Its Best To Become Real Then Explodes In Gym Part 2
    Featuring Kass, Xan and then another Pokémon probably


    "Expanding Force, Alakazam!" A roiling psychokinetic explosion burst forth, rippling outward into a cluster of concussive eruptions that quite literally forced Kass away, sprawling to the floor injured, but well enough to kip up to their feet. That was Avery's answer to getting out of melee, then. Expanding Force on Psychic Terrain sure was an impressive show of force - but with Xan's senses amped up as they were, it wasn't exactly difficult for them to figure out the mechanics of how it worked. They'd have to work through in their head some kind of way to-

    "Challenger seven-seven-five! Infamous in the Galar League at this point for foregoing direct commands," Avery was going for some banter again, Xan guessed. Great. "But I'm a Psychic too, wise to your wily ways. Could it be you've been trying to get a leg up by telepathically commanding your Pokémon? How cheeky - it won't be enough against me!"

    ... Was that fucker really-?

    "You're on Psychic Terrain, Avery, can you really not tell if someone's using psychotelepathy or not? Because when I do it looks like this." Xan thought about insulting the guy - nobody else would necessarily be privy to the message, after all - but ultimately they settled for pushing across an impression of what to look for. Telltale motes of psychic effort. Okay, some sass probably slipped through, too.

    Avery laughed - and was that a nervous glance in their direction? "You think I'm going to be distracted by some kind of Extrasensory Power Trick?"

    Xan shook their head quickly and scoffed, aghast, then shrugged. They mustered up all the dismayed contempt Avery's response provoked, then added a tinge of betrayal and the tiniest hint of bemusement in their best telepathic representation of 'ok go fuck yourself then lmao'.

    "Er- Alakazam!" The Gym Leader chose not to respond to that, funnily enough. "Expanding Force, and follow up with Signal Beam!"

    "Detail, Kass: Chain reaction of explosions from key points! Proximity; target the first, trap on startup! Redirect or cause implosion!"

    The salvo of psychic discharges were almost upon Kass by the time they teleported - directly on top of the Alakazam. Signal Beam was just starting to wind up and would probably go wide, but Avery's reactions were fast.

    "Cut the Signal Beam - Expanding Force again!"

    Maybe Avery had been put off by their earlier exchange, maybe he couldn't parse the detail of Xan's callouts amid concentrating on the battle. Maybe the first Expanding Force going off without a hitch granted him a measure of confidence in a potential second, or maybe bravado was simply telling him that his decision was perfectly fine and surely figuring out a methodical counter to a psychic attack was just a fluke for that one time in Nessa's Gym and couldn't possibly happen again except for maybe that other time earlier with the lasso but surely surely not a third time. Whatever the case, the decision to use Expanding Force promptly blew up metaphorically in the Gym Leader's face - and literally in his Alakazam's. Fire-and-forget psychokinetic explosive was met with a controlled effort in directing the explosive and the Misty Terrain distorted around the storm of force. Alakazam was thrown backwards, and Kass to a lesser degree in the opposite direction - but the Kadabra Teleported in the midst of their own travel ahead of the opposing Pokémon's trajectory, twisting to meet their funhouse-mirror-image in what they hoped would be one last necessary brawl to take the victory.

    Spoon clashed against spoon in a flurry of psychic strikes, with Kass keeping up the pressure and remaining on the offensive. If it came down to being worn down with a ranged assault again they were bound to fail a dodge sooner rather than later. The Kadabra focused intensely on their spoon; one last push. A conjured blade coated their focus, their spoon becoming a knife. Transmuted cutlery. With autokinetic assistance they kicked off the Alakazam to bound upwards, then launched themselves diagonally down like a missile beside their opponent. Spoon-turned-blade flashed out at their side as they passed, and after a moment of quiet they felt a change in the Psychic presence that was now behind them. They flourished their spoon and slowly, deliberately, lowered it to their hip. With a clink, the conjured sword shattered and dispersed, and the Alakazam fell to the floor, defeated.

    ... And then Kass dropped unconscious too, the ghostly smoke of a point blank Shadow Ball still coiling off of their chest.

    Well... this could be going better. Kass was down for the count, and Avery still had his ace. Of course it wasn't as if Xan was about to blame the Kadabra for their situation - while it was generally a theme, this particular battle couldn't have made it more obvious that Kass was punching quite entirely above their own weight. Xan made sure to whisper a 'thank you' and a 'well done' to their long time research partner as they recalled the Pokémon.

    "Well, humouring the little request was a nice diversion," Avery said, the Pokéball containing his Slowking floating ominously out from behind him. "Your Kadabra certainly proved themselves an elegant enough combatant. But now, I'm afraid, is where your luck runs dry - go, Slowking! We are to show them the true extent of our power! Who could you possibly choose to face the most glorious and fearsome of my Pokémon?"

    That was the question. Slowking emerged in a flash of red. Wreathed in mist and lit from below by the terrain, it presented an ominous, sinister figure. Jerry and Sphinx were Xan's only options, and neither were prospects to be particularly excited about. Sphinx was still lacking training and though her psychic powers were improving, it really didn't mean much when Slowking had perfectly good access to Water-type moves that would leave her soaked, miserable and defeated without much effort. Jerry was Jerry, but... well, Odd Incense had produced something of an improvement, even if in many ways it was more of a side-grade. Bank on Psychic Terrain being good enough? It wasn't like Jerry wasn't a reasonably competent fighter in most situations. The kind of Pokémon you'd pick against a Gym ace, perhaps not, but... well, worst came to worst, it'd be useful data gathered.

    Xan was a little bit miffed at their current predicament, and they were growing even more tired of the theatrics of gym battling so when they looked up to answer Avery's question they said, "I don't know, Jerry?"

    "I'm sorry, Jerry?"

    The challenger shrugged and started fishing out the Pokéball, "Yeah probably Jerry, seems fine."

    Avery laughed, "Jerry? That graceless Psyduck from your battle with Nessa? I sure hope you've been training a great deal since then... confusion won't help you here - and I'm not talking about the move!"

    "Ok Jerry," Xan murmured into the ball. "Your opponent's Slowking, need you to finish the fight here. We're working off of neutral coverage for the most part so apart from abnormal status, your options are basically all good. And Avery just called you graceless so make them look bad for me, if you don't mind?"

    Well, here it was. Time to commit. They didn't feel great about how this might be for Jerry, but they hoped he'd be all right. Xan pressed the release catch on the Pokéball and awaited the fate that would befall them.

    Jerry the Psyduck appeared on the battlefield, radiating light as the Pokéball brought physicality to his form. The Psyduck felt... different than usual. This was a Pokémon battle, of course - the opponent was right there in front of him. That much was clear. Everything around him was clear, actually. No encroaching silent menace, no mental fog. Jerry's senses were working at a mile a minute but he was fine. His psychic powers were working faster than they had ever worked but he was fine. It was like there was incense in this place, but more. It was like this place was full of so much incense that the incense had seeped into his pores and he had become incense too, and now everything was incense and clarity and yet, even with his perception tuned up to eleven the pain and confusion and distress were nowhere to be found. Hmm... no, it wasn't simply that they couldn't be found; something was washing them away. A different aroma, a different aura than the incense-like one, a- oh, the Slowking was sending a Sludge Bomb his way. That was fine, he could just push a little with some topspin on his upper left side to meander around that. Anyway, where was he? Yes- the aura wasn't overly familiar, but it did have a touch of something he might have experienced before sometime someplace. Perhaps in specific parts of the Glimwood Tangle or around certain other Pokémon - but ah, he had been distracted then. So much more distracted than now. Oh! How amusing it was how much slower time seemed to move now that he wasn't so distracted. The Slowking was casting a spell? Tut-tut, none of that - a bit of propulsion here and he could deliver the Slowking a bit of a slap-slap upon arrival. And it wasn't just how much more slowly time arrived, but how much more of time he could see. See and... handle. Time moved slower, time arrived slower, the future arrived and presented itself slower - futures on every which side of his, not careening into his psyche at breakneck speed and shoving his little, yellow bundle of thoughts into the swirling vortex, but forming an orderly queue and politely stepping aside when he declined them. There was Tuesday, over there, approaching! You can wait, Tuesday; Jerry had an appointment with the future of optimally slapping the everloving crap out of this Slowking.

    "How the...?" Xan was flabbergasted. They weren't sure what to even think - they could barely keep up just looking. Thank goodness for the Psychic Terrain enhancing their own senses. The constant emanation of power and the quickly-changing complexity of it was intense. Jerry was well, he was lucid and operating at a better standard than Xan had ever seen- "Fuck yeah, Jerry! Get 'em!"

    That just slipped out, whoops. It was fine, they'd sworn in one of these before - slap on the wrist sort of thing - but whatever, this was... OK, they knew that their metal foci and the Odd Incense had an effect on Jerry's mental state, but they hadn't expected Psychic Terrain to be so much of a leg-up. Could it really be just that? Something strange was going on here, but whatever was happening they owed it to Jerry to focus and pay attention rather than getting sidetracked by hype. Look carefully and analyse, advise if possible... if Jerry even needed it.

    "What is the meaning of this?" Avery's reaction made it clear that Xan wasn't the only one flabbergasted. "Slowking, another Sludge Bomb!"

    Jerry stared directly at the Slowking and dodged the projectile by standing completely still.

    "I think the-" Xan cut themselves off. "I think you shouldn't have called them graceless. Must have pissed them off."

    "What a preposterous-! Slowking!" The Gym Leader called out to his ace once more. "Surely they can't dodge Expanding Force by standing still! Go!"

    But Jerry was already upon the Slowking, forehead charged with psychokinetic energy. Shellder Crown met Psyduck noggin, a Zen Headbutt just before the Expanding Force could occur. Slowking flinched.

    The battle continued, and Xan could not help but continue to feel like a spectator. There didn't seem to be much they could even advise the Psyduck on, nor did it really even seem like there was a whole lot to even comment on. Nothing Jerry was doing was particularly crazy, even though it certainly appeared as though the Psyduck was putting his all into it. His eyes darted furiously around the room as his body appeared to calmly mosey around the back of the Slowking and stay there, stepping simply to the left or right as the larger Pokémon attempted to turn. It was like Jerry just happened to move in the correct direction before the Slowking even started to twist, leaving the Hexpert Pokémon powerless to retaliate against an onslaught of Fury Swipes because a small duck just happened to always be directly behind them.

    "Enough of this!" Avery scoffed. "Expanding Force, straight down!"

    Xan almost expected another Zen Headbutt to flinch the Slowking, but no. Jerry, with a face of sheer unbridled panic, hopped aboard the back of Slowking's shell much like Xan had seen him hop up onto a hotel bed many a time. As explosive psychokinetic force detonated beneath the two Pokémon and launched them airborne, Jerry wagged his tail in his opponent's face and followed it up with another Zen Headbutt. The moment the Slowking grabbed for the Psyduck, he had already hopped off, and both hit the floor again.

    "Okay, this Trick is over - it's not an elegant decision, but you've forced my hand! Slowking, water everywhere! Brace yourself Challenger - why don't you try and step around Surf?"

    "Autokinetic assistance," Xan advised. "You can ride the wave up!"

    Jerry, apparently, had other plans. And they involved... not doing anything to avoid the Surf attack. Xan typically advised rather than commanded for the express intent of the Pokémon they worked with feeling comfortable enough to pursue their own ideas if they thought they knew better, but this... seemed particularly ill-advised. Well. Not much they could do about it directly. Jerry could come back from a resisted hit pretty reasonably in theory - the problem was if this was somehow an end to whatever odd lucidity the Psyduck had found himself in...

    The wave dispersed, and the yellow shape was revealed in its passing. Was he... bigger than normal? If Jerry was going to evolve right now, that could be just the boost to seal a win for this fight, regardless of what was happening with the Psychic Terrain or whatever had caused this fortunate trance. The Psyduck righted himself and-

    Highly. Pressurised. Water Pulse. Using the water from the Surf attack. Jerry had swallowed as much of it as he could muster, bloated like a balloon, and was using it as ammunition for impromptu Hydro Cannon. The Psyduck angled himself up, the recoil pushing him into the ground as the jet pounded Slowking with their own water. Jerry shifted, angled himself down and the recoil pushed him up, up into the air, around and spinning and looping and over and streaming and with one final focusing of psychic energy to the head, water-propulsion-assisted Zen Headbutt crashed into his opponent and knocked the Slowking out cold.

    The crowd... loved it.

    "Avery's Pokémon is unable to battle," came the voice of the announcer, loud enough to be audible over the roar of the spectators. "Challenger seven-seven-five is the victor!"

    Xan wasted no time in beginning a run over to Jerry to check in on things. The psychic had certainly never bothered to appear likeable in any capacity, so the cheering was something of a surprise. In retrospect, they figured that their relative absence from the public eye allowed their Pokémon to put in the effort on their behalf. At least from the perspective of the masses, who typically were plenty quick to make logical connections - correct or otherwise - and needed little to no evidence to come to some kind of a conclusion. It made some sense that Kass' natural charisma and Jerry's status as an amiable underdog - both traits entirely their own and nothing to do with Xan - would reflect well upon their trainer in the eyes of those who were starved for information. Ah, well. Xan's public appeal could take a long-overdue nosedive at a later date, they figured.

    "You okay Jerry?" The challenger slid to a stop in front of the Psyduck. "You good, all good?"

    Jerry's eyes were still roaming all over the place at a fairly rapid pace, but the Pokémon nodded rapidly in response. Huh.

    "Uh, well if you think so, I guess that's good... but what the hell just happened? I mean, first of all, should clarify; amazing. My lack of, er, understanding is indicative of how incredible that was, but it's best if I try to get to the bottom of it as best I can - what's the deal? How are you feeling?"

    Jerry put one stubby finger to the bottom of his beak, and telepathic thoughts floated over to Xan as he did so. Storm clouds dispersing, fleeing into the horizon leaving clear, blue skies as far as the eyes could see.

    "Cloud Nine? No- right, clarity. That's nice." More thoughts flooded through. "Like the incense, right... but different, still. That makes sense. Don't mind me asking, but, uh... the eyes? You're looking about everywhere, you're sure you're fine?"

    Although it was expected somewhat due to the Psychic Terrain, it was definitely still pleasant to note an increase in the clarity of Jerry's conversational psychotelepathy. The Psyduck's explanation for the eye movement seemed to be that he... didn't see anything wrong with it? Looking places was interesting, or something along those lines. He didn't want to get bored? Boredom was perhaps too strong a word for the feeling the Water-type passed across, but the theme was there. Hm. Well, if Jerry was confident that he was fine, there wasn't much more Xan could do but believe him.

    "Right, well..." Xan shifted into a squat. "This newfound clarity seems to have done wonders for you here - is there a specific cause you could point to on that, do you think?"

    The Psyduck's telepathic response came with a physical shrug. He could offer the suggestion of the floor, but honestly he figured Xan or Kass would have the answers to that. Jerry wasn't a scientist.

    "Fair," The human tilted their head. "How about the thought process? Seems like you put together a pretty effective strategy here and pulled it off without much issue."

    Another shrug, physical and mental. Jerry seemed to think it wasn't a big deal. He projected once more the feeling of clarity, followed by something that could only be described as confidence. Xan would have liked to dive into that a bit more, but Avery was looming a bit closer and presumably had been waiting a little while already.

    "Hm. All right then," the challenger moved to stand, but lingered for a moment to finish talking with the Pokémon. "Again, congratulations, well done. Incredible positioning, really - joy to watch from back there. We'll go over it later I'm sure."

    Jerry nodded and Avery, sensing the end of the conversation, stepped in to address the challenger.

    "It appears... that I have been bested. Bravo, seven-seven-five, bravo. I must tip my hat to you - those Pokémon of yours are something quite spectacular! It has been a long while indeed since I have underestimated an opponent so heavily as your Psyduck," He turned to Jerry and bowed. "Truly, your elegance left me utterly Psyshocked!"

    Jerry let out a bashful quack.

    "Hm," Xan nodded. "Jerry really pulled out all the stops - Kass put a lot of good knowledge in, too. Can't leave out that I appreciate the Alakazam being a good sport back there, either."

    Avery waved a hand, "All in the name of an elegant performance."

    "I think the both of them appreciated being in this, too," the challenger paused to gesture to the glowing floor beneath them. "I know I sure did - do you know where I can get a TM or a TR for this?"

    "Oh, I think the staff can help you with that after we're done here. And with that in mind!" Goodness, Avery really couldn't make it any more obvious when he was putting in effort to make something grandiose for the sake of the viewers. "I thought I might have had a good idea what to expect when you came through these doors this afternoon, but alas! It seems my Future Sight was off. Without further ado, I present to you the Psychic Badge! Go forth, and show the rest of the League the power of someone formidable enough to defeat me."

    "Thanks," Xan took the badge, distracted, and gave it to Jerry who raised it above his head like a trophy. "Sorry- was that a figure of speech, or did you actually... experience some kind of precognitive vision?"

    The Gym Leader's smile turned fake. Xan was hardly an empath, but they were familiar enough with that sort. Worn plenty, seen plenty. Honestly Avery's wasn't that good but that wasn't really the issue.

    "Congratulations on your victory - everyone give it up for challenger seven-seven-five! You had something else you wanted to discuss? Yes, yes, I will oblige, that's fine, follow me, this way-" Avery led Xan off to the side, and the latter hesitantly followed. This seemed a bit weird and the urge to head back to the comfort of the hotel room was steadily growing, but information on other human psychics was hard to come by so they pushed themselves to stay at least a little longer. The Gym Leader fiddled with the microphone by his ear as the two left the cameras behind. When Top-Hats-Mcgee at last did turn and speak to Xan, the words weren't what the challenger expected.

    "Right for the heart, eh?"

    "Uhh..." A curious question... accusation? Xan didn't know what to think. A measured response, then. "I don't know what you mean."

    Avery sighed, "All's fair in love and war, I suppose, but going in on all that telepathy and pregognitive stuff is a bit of a low blow, is it not? Surely you already know how it is."

    The other psychic could only shrug. Did they know how it was? And anyway- "I mean I think implying to the crowd that I'm engaging in unsportsmanlike conduct is lower, but besides that the telepathy stuff is just... like, that's genuinely how to pick up on whether it's being done, and knowing what to look for helps, right? Psychic perception's tricky like that. And the precognitive stuff is an elusive subject I'm still trying to prove the existence of, so any data you might have could be incredibly valuable."

    "Hah, well," The leader sighed again, more glum now than irritated. "How kind - alas, thanks but no thanks. I'm a telekineticist! Not a perceptionist or whatever other things it has been made clear I am not cut out for."

    Xan shook their head in confusion, "You- of course you're a perceptionist. Or- whatever the word would be- you have to perceive the things you use kinesis on to use kinesis on them - where the hell did you get the idea you're not cut out for other disciplines that you're actively engaging in?"

    "Hmph," Avery folded his arms. "As I'm sure you're well aware, I come from a long line of renowned psychics more... technically proficient than myself - but I think I've proven myself well enough with my station here as Gym Leader."

    "Okay," The cogs were turning in Xan's head. "I... right, okay, I don't know what some other psychics have been telling you, but you're not locked out of anything. If they've been saying that then they don't know what they're talking about. But-" Avery's look gave them pause. "Right, if you're not interested in anything further than you have now then that's fine. But if you are, then- yeah, and I get that I'm also just some other psychic - but do you know who you can trust, and who surely blows all of us humans out of the water when it comes to psychic things? Your team, Alakazam and Slowking and- just- talk to them instead. It worked for me. I mean, not them specifically, but psychic Pokémon-"

    "Forgive me for interrupting, but..." Avery held up a hand, the other tipping their hat over some of their eyes. The fake smile had either turned real or it'd just got better. "I think I understand your reasoning, challenger. It seems your Psyduck is not the only one I misjudged. Perhaps I will take that advice of yours. And perhaps... implying unsportsmanlike conduct was rather underhanded, wasn't it? I should probably rectify that. Wait here a moment, if you would."

    The Gym Leader left the challenger, fiddling with his microphone again. Once more, Avery spread his arms wide and addressed the stands and the cameras both.

    "Hello again, Galar! Do you like my choice of fashion? It's my Magic Coat! If I might have the privilege of your attention once more... alas, I must clarify that I was mistaken! It is a rare honour indeed to face a fellow Psychic in a Pokémon battle, and what I had thought was the challenger's telepathy was in fact utterly benign! My humblest apologies to the challenger and to any I may have misled - still! It would be a shame to waste such a special opportunity as this," Avery turned back to where the other psychic still stood, one of his hands outstretched. "What say you, Xan? Would you care to give the audience a taste of our real power?"

    "Huh?" Motorcycle-Helmets-Mcgee was still a ways away and didn't feel like raising their voice, so they began the walk over with their hands in their pockets. They shot Avery with something of a glare that the Gym Leader probably couldn't see. "You want to ask me before putting me on the spot in front of-?" They retrieved one hand from the depths of pocket to gesture wildly at surroundings full of crowd and camera. "I welcome the opportunity, I guess, but f-" They cut themselves off to swear under their breath.

    What followed was what was perhaps best described as a short, messy performance, but one that seemed to be held in good faith by the performers and the viewers both. Avery was very much focused on attempting to entertain, whereas Xan mostly just took the chance to have more-or-less free reign to experiment with how the Psychic Terrain effected their psychokinesis. Unfortunately there wasn't much data to really be gained - the question of 'does anyone have a speed gun, by any chance?' was taken as a joke - but perhaps video review could hold some answers if they were able to track down the footage. Briefly, on occasion, Xan would explain aloud some of the processes that were at play, which went over... mildly. No real complaints. Also no big surprise that enthusiasm for edu-tainment wasn't particularly prevalent. Regardless, no parties involved seemed to be taking things particularly seriously, so the two psychics found themselves in a kind of odd, mismatched harmony.

    "How's that for a bit of psychokenentertainment?" Avery asked of the crowd as Pokéballs spun in a dizzying pattern.

    How about you psychokeshutthefuckup? Xan stopped themselves from saying. Avery was a shameless entertainer, that was for sure - but that also highlighted something else, Xan figured, with ample opportunity to re-examine the Gym Leader's kinesis. A full-surround of force on each individual ball, guided incessantly throughout the entirety of all their differing trajectories. A far cry from the stripped down, minute movements of Xan's that accomplished effectively the same thing. A lack of efficiency? Sure. A lack of confidence? Perhaps not. When he had ample energy to spare, did it not make sense to take the necessary care to be exact, to be specific? Avery's was the psychokinesis of a perfectionist. The psychokinesis of a performer. And when that was the metric, surely the priorities were due to change.

    Hm. Priorities. With this, the Gym Challenge was pretty much halfway done. Maybe, Xan figured, they should sort out theirs.

    Xan earned the Psychic Badge!
     
    Last edited:

    Foxrally

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    Spoiler: Inventory

    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
    [URL="https://www.pokecommunity.com/showpost.php?p=10260011&postcount=173"]--- Galar Mine 1 & Route 4 ---

    [/URL]#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
    #73 - Wishiwashi Squad vs Rotom mech!
    --- Route 6 ---
    #74 - Training
    #75 - VS Aeliana
    #76 - Bureaucracy
    #77 - Meet Melody
    #78 - Wishing upon a star
    --- Stow-on-side ---
    #79 - Meet Chloe
    #80 - Stow-on-Side Gym Mission
    #81 - VS Bea
    #82 - VS Zelkova
    #83 - Shedinja (re-)joins the team?!
    #84 - VS Allister
    --- Glimwood Tangle ---
    #85 - Into the Woods
    #86 - Divided Together
    #87 - The Jungle Beast
    #88 - It's okay to be scared
    #89 - Sting Operation
    --- Ballonlea ---
    #90 - Homecoming
    #91 - An old challenge
    #92 - VS Dad
    #93 - VS Dad pt. 2
    #94 - VS Avery

    Ballonlea

    "Princess, pass me that sock please- Vivillon, no string shot indoors!"

    It was early in the afternoon and Simon was busy packing up his gear in his room, getting ready to head back out on his last day in Ballonlea. He'd spent a couple of weeks in town, catching up with extended family members and childhood buddies, relishing in the now-amplified fame from his recent victory - not to mention the several nights of partying dedicated to him at the Groggy Grubbin - but most importantly, taking time to properly rest. After months of sleeping in different beds or a tent, it was nice to actually spend time in his own room again.

    His Pokemon had taken quite well to home life and Ballonlea in general; the abundance of fellow bugs and small critters probably made it easy. Grimms and Ross had been very welcoming, and even taught the gang of wild-born Pokemon some house manners (as it turned out, potty training was an aspect oft-forgotten on the road). Snom and Ross had gone on several sparring matches together, Grimms had introduced the bugs to his former Impidimp clan, and Shedinja had developed an insatiable appetite for his father's legendary pub chips. The team was enamoured with the two older mons' stories, from Grimms travelling the world with Simon's dad, to Ross' intrepid adventures in the wild with his mother.

    Even as Simon continued to pack, he could feel an air of reluctance around his team, and was trying his best not to give in to the feeling himself. Most of them were laying on the bed, with the others helping him pack and clean up. He'd finished packing his clothes, and as Simon got to putting the rest of his things away his hand lingered on the badge case. The silver box was the very same one he'd gotten at the academy; the only thing that had survived in his jacket after the events of the Wild Area. Though scratched and dented, it still shone brightly against the dim lights. He clicked it open and looked at his five badges, all equally polished; the circular pattern that they formed together was now halfway complete. Everything he'd accomplished up to this point was essentially in this box - even if it was just a few pieces of interlocking metal, they meant so much more than that. They represented the very essence of why his team was together. Simon looked at the number printed at the top of the case, 412. He couldn't help but crack a smile; he had chosen the number essentially at random, but now it was printed everywhere, from his bug net to his fan merch. Perhaps part of his journey was also just random chance.

    As Simon shoved in one last pair of socks into his bag, he put the badge case in as well, clasped the bag shut and breathed out.

    "Alright gang, we're good to go."

    He motioned for the bugs to hop on and gave his room one last glance, before closing the door and heading downstairs. It was still too early in the day for the pub to open, so his family was waiting for him in the main seating area. Simon's father had kept himself busy, cooking up several boxes of his favourite food for Simon to take on the road, and had packed them into a surprisingly-compact bag. Grimms was keeping Larvesta and Anorith entertained with a deck of magician's playing cards. As Simon walked in, he also noticed his father talking to Ross, but the man went quiet once he saw him.

    "So, all packed?" his dad asked. "Didnae forget any boxers upstairs or nothin'?"

    "All clear! And I left enough space for food, obviously." Simon grinned.

    "Good man." his father chuckled. A silence hung in the air for a moment. "Feelin' good about goin' on the road anaw? Don't get too used ta this life o' luxury, now!"

    "Hah, I think I can manage without this glitz and glam… for a while." Simon looked around. "At least I don't have to worry about route 6 anymore."

    His dad shuddered. "Ugh, cannae stand the heat of that place. Reminds me of when Grimms and I worked on Unova's Route 4 for a year… That means you're going east?"

    "Yup. Next badge on the list is Circhester's." Simon replied. "That's where Gordie's from, actually."

    "Ah, that lad! Good challenger, he was. You used ta love his matches-"

    "Yes, da', I know." Simon interjected, sensing one of his father's long-winded tales already. "We've heard the hour-long story about the Carkol."

    "Och, tryin' ta get rid of me already?" his dad humphed. "Go on, then, if you're in such a rush!"

    Simon laughed, "Come on, you know I'm hard-pressed to leave as is. The bugs love you."

    "Aye, and they got more sense than you, clearly." Simon's father continued to pout, crossing his arms.

    "Oh, don't get sentimental on me now!" Simon dropped his bag and gave the large man a hug. It didn't take long for the scowl to drop as his dad hugged him back, smiling.

    He sighed. "If only your mum could see you like this…"

    The words tugged on Simon's heart, but he stayed quiet.

    "...your mother would be proud of you, lad. Proud of who you've become."

    "...you think so?"

    His father gently pulled Simon away and grabbed him by the shoulder, looking him in the eye. "You're everything she dreamed of you to be, and more. You even battle alike." he chuckled. "There's an indeniable part of her in you."

    Simon then noticed his dad's eyes look away from him and off to his side. "An' I'm not the only one who sees it."

    As Simon turned around, he noticed Ross was looking at him intensely. He wasn't wearing his usual apron, and there was a glint in his eye different from anything he'd seen before or during their battle. In that moment, a vivid string of emotions coursed through him, stronger than anything he'd felt before, even when speaking to his own Pokemon.

    He felt grief, pain and sadness, not just his own. He felt a longing urge for the past, a sense of inner defeat and reluctant realization, followed by a calm wave of acceptance. Then, more vividly… he felt a fiery passion, a feeling of rekindled enthusiasm. He felt pride, and hope. And most intensely of all, he felt… recognition. As if Ross was not looking at him right now, but through him.

    "I know your mum had a gift communicating with Pokemon." Simon's father spoke up. "It's why she was a great ranger."

    The Heracross closed his eyes, and Simon felt the link break.

    "Our battle was the most drive I've ever seen from him, since the last one I had with her." The man pulled out an old, scratched-up pokeball. "I cannae hear what Ross is telling you… but I think you can."

    Simon looked at the ball and stepped towards Ross. He extended his hand. "For her."

    Ross stared at him with determination, and grabbed his arm.

    Ross joined the team!
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Heracross ♂️
    Guts
    Megahorn - Toxic - Rock Blast - Vacuum Wave - Calm Mind - Horn Attack

    Simon could feel tears welling up in his eyes a bit, but was met with a hearty laugh from his dad. "You might be more like your mum, but the best parts come fae your old man, of course!"

    Simon couldn't help but laugh as he wiped his eyes and gave both the Heracross and his dad a hug, squishing the bugs already in his coat. Then, with an excited growl, Grimms join in, wrapping his gargantuan arms around the trio and hoisting them up excitedly.

    "...thanks… mate…" Simon wheezed.

    A little while later, after the group had finished all their tearful goodbyes, Simon found himself walking down the cobbled road out of Ballonlea once more, Ross now at his side. He knew he wouldn't have a chance to come home again for a while, but when he did… he would be returning as champion.

     

    Foxrally

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/omi0jS3.gif[/img]
  • 2,791
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    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]


    .
    STAGE 17 - POST-TIMESKIP - ROUTE 8

    Spoiler:

    With Ballonlea gym now a month in the past and the Gym Challenge on hold for the winter, the former students of Wedgehurst Academy have spent their time journeying through Northern Galar, whether through the Wild Area or previously travelled routes, honing their skills with their Pokemon

    With the next city on the horizon, they now find themselves entering Route 8 for the first time. The path through Route 8 is a rugged one. Although the weather is cold this time, the landscape remains arid. The terrain is hilly and treacherous, dotted with ancient ruins that are intriguing for those willing to brave them, but often unexplored and at risk of toppling under those who climb their platforms and onto those who explore within.

    The road ahead is a rough, and the Pokemon here tend to be the sort that thrive in harsher landscapes or that enjoy challenging themselves against nature. Fighting, rock and steel types are particularly abundant, with Falinks making dens in valley walls and rock types appearing to be part of the scenery at a glance. It's best to watch one's step here lest you accidentally infringe on the territory of the locals.

    Our heroes' rewards for successfully making it through to Steamdrift Way isn't far though. As they head northward and the weather gets ever colder, they will soon reach Chichester, home to the Rock and Ice gyms… what will these harsh lands have in store for the trainers?

    TIMESKIP RULES:

    Almost a month has passed since the last stage, and your character would have reasonably experienced growth during this time and had several new adventures. These may include:

    • Catching up to two Pokemon from any previous routes, except mission-exclusive Pokemon.
    • Evolving any number of currently-caught Pokemon, within reason.
    • Completing any missed gyms from previous routes.

    WILD POKÉMON AVAILABLE THIS STAGE

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    Pokémon Available to those on Mission 1:
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    Pokémon Available to those on Mission 2:
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    .
    MISSIONS:


    [OPEN][CATCH CHANCE] Mission 1:
    Along with the fighting and ground-types, Route 8 is home to a fair share of dragon-types, living in its caves and hunting at night. While most tend to stay away from humans, there have been warning to stay away from these caves as dragons are fiercely territorial. As with most dragon-fighting adventures, however, there is a reward for those brave enough to explore them.
    Reward: Dragon Scale

    [MULTI][CATCH CHANCE] Mission 2:
    An old mining operation near Route 8 has left behind several pieces of equipment and a sizable dent into the side of the mountain. It seems whatever the miners were looking for wasn't here, but since there's a few pickaxes lying around, why not look around yourself?
    Reward: Old Amber or Plume Fossil (Two are available, they can be revived in Circhester).

    Mission 3:
    While walking through the ruins, you come across a distressed hiker: she has lost a treasured family heirloom inside one of the many holes used by the local Falinks, but doesn't have the guts to go in there herself.
    Reward: Pearl Necklace

    Mission 4:
    Route 8 is unsurprisingly home to more fighting types than any other region in Galar, likely due to the harsh environment. What is surprising, however, is coming across a wild Pokemon 'fight club' of sorts… The Pokemon have even allowed humans to watch! Tonight's match is 'Stone Cold' the Throh versus 'Iron Sumo' the Makuhita. Who are you betting your berries on?
    Reward: TR Close Combat

    Mission 5:
    Ugh! The path ahead is blocked by rocks… and one of them is alive! It's none other than the Pokemon Crustle. It refuses to move from its spot, though… Will you negotiate with words, brute force or with something else?
    Reward: Soft Sand

    Mission 6:
    The fluctuating temperatures of the area combined with the cold weather have made some of the rocky structures on Route 8 fairly unstable. You come across a den of baby Pokemon that happens to be built right under one of these structures, but the Medicham mother threatens to attack you every time you approach.
    Reward: Smooth Rock

    Mission 7:
    Traveling Galar sure works up an appetite! You should probably sit down and have a meal with your Pokemon and fellow travellers; everyone loves a good curry. You can follow a recipe, or get creative! Just don't burn anything.
    Reward: Three berries of your choice

    Mission 8:
    An archaeologist exploring the local ruins is in a bit of a pickle: they've gotten themselves cornered by several hungry Gibles, and were forced to climb onto a priceless ancient statue to get to safety. The problem is now, they're stuck, and dare not use their own Pokemon in case the statue is destroyed…
    Reward: TR Stone Edge

     
  • 25,614
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    12
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    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Indra (Male, Swift Swim) - Rain Dance, Hypnosis, Bubblebeam, Hydro Pump, Earth Power, Refresh
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    Stampede (Male, Poison Point) - Hydro Pump, Smokescreen, Twister, Focus Energy, Dragon Pulse, Icy Wind
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    Holo (Female, Lightning Rod) - Thunderbolt, Thunder Wave, Electric Terrain, Rising Voltage, Flame Burst, Flash

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Vessel (Female, Dry Skin) - Fury Cutter, Giga Drain, Poison Powder, Spore, Rain Dance, Protect
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Lancer (Male, Dry Skin) - Rock Climb, Revenge, Sucker Punch, Poison Jab, Rain Dance, Toxic


    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
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    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:
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
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    CATHERINE CARLISLE & TIM Thaumatoff
    Misunderstanding?
    The previous month had been a strange one for Catherine. Although, the months leading up to it had been plenty unusual in and of themselves. She had managed to find some peace, to actually process her thoughts and figure out where she stood on things. At least she had when Valerie hadn't been sending her messages or trying to lure her into a larger group chat.

    It was still uncomfortable to Catherine, opening herself up to people that little bit more and giving the world a chance to show her that some of it wasn't tainted. She still didn't really trust her newfound friend. She definitely didn't trust people at large. Traveling through the wild area above Hammerlocke and into Route 8 hadn't been a luxurious journey by any means, but it had given her space from people. It was soothing to only be with her team again for a while.

    Her team seemed to be aware that there had been a paradigm shift though. At first, it had just been Indra who had been with her at the time, but as she had rotated through her team over the weeks of travel, she had noticed all of them seemed to have caught the Poliwhirl's chipper mood. Even Lancer was being more friendly and sociable.

    By the time she had finally crossed into the harsh, cold landscape of Route 8, Catherine's team were in some of the highest spirits she'd seen them in for a while and she herself was feeling… calmer at the least. She still had a lot of thinking to do, but she was at least at peace away from civilization with Stampede curled around her shoulders and Indra happily striding along at her feet.

    It was a shame that as she got closer to Circhester, it was ever more likely she would eventually run into someone else. A harsh voice from nearby drew her attention. Catherine's immediate instinct was, naturally, to find another path. But she had long since reached a point where it was easy to push those instincts aside, even without feeling Stampede's tense up in anticipation. She moved in the direction of the sound, slipping past boulders larger than she was to investigate.

    It wasn't too long until the harsh voice came again, and Catherine found herself passing a last bunch of boulders to see a clearing of sorts ringed by more such boulders and piles of rubble. There was a man at the far end of the clearing with his back to her, apparently the source of the voice as he barked at a Sudowoodo he was watching as it beat its arms against a cracking boulder. A Boldore passed nearby Catherine but ignored her arrival as it continued galloping its way around the perimeter of the clearing.

    Maybe it was something that others might have glanced at and then walked away from, but something about the sight didn't sit right with Catherine, nor with the Seadra becoming progressively more tense around her neck.

    She decided to wait a moment and watch instead of simply passing by. She didn't much want to have to talk to the gruff trainer, but she felt obligated to see what was going on.

    As the Boldore clomped its way past the man it made a low sound and the man turned to face Catherine. He was in a hooded coat more tarp than clothing and the ends of his ragged pants tattered away around the tops of boots that were likely made for stomping a few lifetimes ago. The man regarded Catherine silently for a moment through opaque shades and a thick black walrus mustache, long at the ends. Boldore galloped around past Catherine again before the man broke the silence with his deep voice. "Why are you here?"

    "I heard shouting, so I came to see why. Turns out it was some guy barking orders at his Sudowoodo like a drill sergeant. How's that working out for you?"

    "Oh, well enough, I suppose." The man motioned low with one arm and the Sudowoodo behind him left off its training and moved to a nearby pile of rubble, letting itself down with a sigh without so much as looking at Catherine. The man's hood was ringed with tangled, black hair that was apparently his own, bunched clumsily into the coat and flaring out like a ratty mane. "Does your Seadra keep you warm out here?"

    "Not really, but he's not there for warmth. It's a pain for him to get around out of water without legs. Not that he doesn't insist on trying first."

    At Catherine's feet, Indra started to raise an arm in greeting, but slowly lowered it again as he caught note of the tension in the atmosphere. Catherine and this other trainer might have been exchanging conversation fairly cordially, but anyone could tell that under the surface things weren't necessarily so friendly.

    "I take care of my team," Catherine said. "No point in exhausting him when he might be battling later."

    "Hm." The hooded, mustached man rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Interesting perspective." He gestured with his hand again and this time the Boldore slowed its gallop as it came near Catherine. It trudged a little closer to her and then let itself down flat on the ground, apparently at rest. Hood motioned a hand at it. "I am ill-equipped for company, but I can still offer you a seat. It is not the most comfortable, but I assure you you weigh nothing to him."

    There it was again, a comment that seemed inane but that carried unpleasant connotations - especially from a person who Catherine had found screaming orders into his Pokemon's face. The fact that he then offered her his Boldore as a seat was just icing on the cake.

    "It's not a perspective. It's just basic decency. Like not using your partner as a stool. Our teams work hard for us - often for little to no gain to themselves, they keep us safe in the wilderness and they're trustworthy and loyal where most people aren't. The least we can do is show them kindness and respect."

    One bushy eyebrow raised behind Hood's shades. His lack of eyes or mouth behind his mustache and glasses almost made him seem like an animated mannequin wearing a redesigned beaglepuss. "Right, right," he said evenly. "And as with people, mons may show and expect respect in different ways." He seemed content to stand since Catherine hadn't sat down. The Boldore remained where it was regardless. "I'm sure you've noticed the variety of folks poking around in this region, have you given further thought to your plans?"

    "I give thought to my plans almost every waking moment. That's why I'm going to succeed. Why I am succeeding." Catherine met the eyes of the hooded man as best she could with his face obscured by his large hood and sunglasses. Something felt very off about him, but she wasn't going to back down.

    "I hope you don't mind my saying so, but I'm sure Leon thought much the same when that little mix-up happened in front of the world, not so long ago." Hood shrugged. The Sudowoodo behind him rolled onto its side, dozing. "Winning the Gym Challenge is just the start, I recall you had some very big words back in front of Kabu. What sorts of measures would you take to handle things if you were Champion, if you don't mind my asking?"

    "I might not have followed his time as champion that closely, but I'm pretty sure the only thing Leon ever talked about publicly was how much he liked battling," Catherine replied. So that was how it was going to be. "The champion here has an absurd amount of influence, access and even resources. I'm going to use all of that to promote change, put pressure on the people who can affect it and give back to the people who need it. I'll lead by example. It won't just be words, and it will be the first time in recent history a Galarian champion has done anything that matters."

    Indra and Stampede both made noises of affirmation and support. They couldn't possibly understand the specifics of what Catherine was talking about, but they certainly could respect the feeling behind the words. The Boldore hummed against the ground too, although it was too strange of a mon for Catherine to gauge if it was a noise of agreement or a jeer.

    Hood nodded thoughtfully. "There's little issue anyone could take with a goal like that." He shook his head. "But the Champion is only one person." He looked at Indra and Stampede. "Well, one unit, anyway. What happens when you can't be everywhere at once, or things happen where you can't see, or people suffer in voices too small for you to hear?"

    "I'm not claiming I can make a perfect world, as much as I'd like to." Catherine studied the hooded figure closely. Did he take her for an idiot? Did he really think she hadn't asked herself those very same questions? "But if I can improve things in general, then I won't need to be everywhere because other people will hear those voices and might actually do something about it when they do for once. Humanity is too flawed to hope for perfection, but I'm still going to make things better. It's about time someone did."

    Hood lowered his face as Catherine spoke and now seemed to either be glowering or just looking dumbly at the ground. After a moment he lifted his face back up. "That is a lot of faith to put in strangers, Catherine," he said low. The tension in the air grew imperceptibly thicker. "You just said that most people aren't trustworthy or loyal. I fear your ideals are beginning to sound rather like platitudes."

    "If I didn't believe in the capacity for change I wouldn't be doing this," Catherine voiced aloud thoughts from a month ago. "I don't trust people, no. But I believe that things can be better than they are. I've seen first hand that people can start bad and work to improve. I've seen it in classmates and in myself. As few as they are, good people are out there, because it's impossible that I'm the only one."

    Catherine shook her head. "But, despite that, I'm not stupid enough to believe that winning some battles is going to magically fix everything. But when I win, I'm going to be in a position that can promote change. People will want to do better because their champion will be encouraging it and, for some reason, people here care a hell of a lot for what their champion says. I'm not trusting in humanity's goodness, I'm trusting in people's tendencies to follow trends and in my own ability to change a broken system. Between that and that handful of actually decent people? That's a start. I'll take a start over what we have now."

    Hood rubbed his chin. "My, my. You would rely on the 'few' good people out there? And what about everyone else?" He patted his chest with one bony-fingered hand, fingers hooked like claws. "I'm going to take a wild guess and suppose I'm not one of the 'good ones.' What's your plan for me, Catherine? Or do my aims in life not matter in the face of a Champion? Good guys beat up the bad guys, after all. Is that what you're going to do? Beat me up? And what if you can't? What if a bad guy sweeps your team with a Scolipede in front of a crowd?"

    "I told you, most people will follow along just because their champion is asking them. I don't have to just rely on the handful of good people. As for you? You certainly aren't acting like you're one of the rare few. I'm only standing here because I heard you screaming in your Sudowoodo's face."

    Catherine considered Hood again, she hadn't missed how he'd jumped to thoughts of violence. It didn't matter. Seething as she was, she wouldn't flee his questioning. She'd dealt with worse. "If your aims are to keep abusing the team you should be caring for, then you won't get far in an improved Galar. If they're noble - or even neutral - you'll have better odds of reaching them in a more just world. I'm not interested in hurting you or using force to change your actions. That would make me no better than the kind of person who gets wrapped up with an organization that brainwashes and dangerously alters Pokemon to take away their thoughts and replace them with power. Which is the only reason I lost that battle, because at the time Simon was stupid enough to do exactly that - against a team I had barely trained for battle. I haven't lost a single battle since then and I wouldn't lose against that Scolipede now either. And you know what? Since interacting with me, Simon has gotten a lot better as a person. I won't take all the credit obviously, but he's living proof that what I'm doing works."

    "You make a lot of assumptions, Catherine. I can tell you don't know me, but you still decide to tell me how to raise the team I eat and sleep with. What should I do, wear a Boldore about my neck or take him on a walk through the store?" Hood pointed behind Catherine at the same time a heavy impact shook the ground. A Stonjourner had kicked itself upright behind the boulders nearby her, it having apparently been laying flat the whole time.

    A pile of stones further away stirred and cracked open an eye, revealing itself to be a dusty Rhyhorn. And over there a Relicanth climbed over a pile of rubble, and on the opposite side a Rolycoly's red eye crept into view. Behind Hood, the Sudowoodo stood up and rolled its arms. Boldore jabbed the ground with its leg and shivered, but didn't get up.

    Hood continued. "But it doesn't matter what I do in the end, does it, Catherine? All the good little boys and girls will emulate their Champion and overpower whoever doesn't check all her little boxes." The mons ringing the clearing were casting various gazes at Indra and Stampede, but none of them seemed to think Catherine was even worth glancing at. "Or," Hood continued, flexing his fingers, "they'll have their mons do so anyway. It's only 'dangerously altering' a mon's thoughts if you're not one of the good ones. I suppose you are right to be so comfortable in your worldview—might makes right, doesn't it oh Catherine the Undefeated? Simon lost to little old me after his showing at Motostoke after all, so he was obviously wrong the whole time." Hood cocked his head. "If everyone were emboldened to stand up and 'do something' about things, who decides when they're standing up about the wrong things? Of course I suppose you would, oh Saint Catherine. Of course the girl who frowned her way through all her classes and looks down her nose at strangers is the perfect measure for morality." He didn't even say it as if it were a jeer, his voice remained as even as it had been at the beginning of the conversation.

    Catherine, for her part, barely even felt Stampede slipping down from her shoulders to the ground. She'd been in enough life-threatening situations at this point to retain at least a facade of calm, but she knew that things had just taken a turn for the dangerous and her heart was pummeling her ribcage with the ferocity of its beating.

    "I really wish people would stop assuming I think I'm somehow superior. I never claimed to be perfect. I've had - I still have - plenty of my own problems that I'm working on. But yeah, I'm not going to look favorably on people who are selfish, greedy or evil. I won't apolgoise for trying to create a world where those traits are in remission. I'm not telling you what to feed your Pokemon or what leisure activities to give them. I'm telling you that screaming in their faces is a pretty shitty way to treat them."

    Catherine glances around, noting the positions of the Pokemon around her - noting what they were. She hadn't missed that he apparently knew her from her time at the academy. She remembered there being a guy with a Rhyhorn who was sometimes around, but she couldn't really put names and faces together with her mind firmly in threat assessment mode. Was he the sort of person to always tend thoughts of force or violence? Or was he particularly aggravated because of their shared origin? It didn't really matter, she decided. She had to focus on the present. His name could wait.

    "Do you really want to lecture me about morality when you're the one making implicit threats and jumping to thoughts of conflict?" Catherine asked, both a biting remark and an invitation to escalate. She wasn't sure which was the goal. "Do you really want to make this situation worse than it already is. You're at a disadvantage. You've got nothing but rocks. Half my team is Water types. And, it might be a bit conceited to say it, but I remember enough about you to be pretty sure I'm just better too. I really don't want to see your Pokemon getting hurt because you're having a tantrum."

    Well so much for de-escalation. Negotiating is not a talent of yours. She was regretting the aggressive tone just a little, but it was what she defaulted to - especially in moments of stress.

    But Hood didn't immediately take the bait. He shrugged and shook his head. "I really wish people would stop assuming I'm abusing creatures that could crush me like a soda can faster than I could cry for help, out where no one would ever find my corpse. But it's not about what we wish, Catherine, it's about what we get. And what I get is open, scathing disdain from everyone who looks at me, from people I sat in arm's length of, who I trained and learned with, who wouldn't know if I died and disappeared."

    He crossed his arms and his voice hardened. "Do you really want to make this situation worse than it is? You're in no danger. I've got nothing but Rocks. Half your team is Water-Types. But no, please, show me what our future Champion—who would see this world get better—does to rudesbies in the wilderness when no one's watching."

    The Rhyhorn seemed to be looking straight at Catherine now, and with murder in its eyes. Hood rubbed his chin. "Whether I'm abusive or not, my mons never did enjoy standing around as I was insulted by ferals. I daresay they take just as much offense when it comes from a human. Show them too what happens when someone doesn't agree with Catherine."

    "Honestly, I'd rather not," Catherine said. "I'd just as quickly come to your defense as I would anyone else's. Whatever happens next is on you. Your choice."

    "Ha ha." It was a humorless laugh, more like a weird cough than a chuckle. "That's a new one. 'My choice.' Did you hear that? It's our choice." The Rocks around the area narrowed their eyes and looked between one another. Boldore made a sighing noise.

    Hood shook his head. "Catherine. I want to believe. I really do. But how can I? You talk of seeing this place become better, or at least less bad. But you intrude upon my activity to insult me and then puff out your chest at me. You claim you're going to be an exemplar for the people and inspire them to greatness. But hasn't Champion Leon already inspired people to take up the Gym Challenge, to walk the Trainer's path, bringing mons into more lives?"

    Hood put one arm up and Sudowoodo smacked it with its own in some kind of show of kinship. "This one almost ripped my arm out, but lost to a human for lack of restraint. My idea of 'helping' this would be to instill a sense of discipline." Hood put his arm down and nodded around the clearing. "I would not have tried, once upon a time. But I want to help these mons get better. I want them to help me get better. But the world is harsh. For all our training, there is no doubt in my mind you would trounce us with very little effort. For all our training, we have not gotten much better."

    Hood crossed his arms. His mons seemed to ease back a little bit. "You want people to try, Catherine, but what if trying isn't good enough? What if, as Champion, you don't inspire change at all, and rather make the message that even a standoffish, holier-than-thou brat can reach great heights so long as her mons have the right Type coverage? Would you really have 'come to my defense,' or is that just what you have to say in case anyone who matters is listening? If this Sudowoodo had turned around and knocked my block off, even if you had deigned to step in, it still would have been me getting what I deserve, right? What else do you suppose I deserve? What about those suited gun-toting hooligans that have been crawling around the shadows, or the mad mons that rip their ways through untread wilderness deaf to all reason? What do they deserve? What do you deserve?"

    Hood lifted his face. There was a palpable sensation of being fixed with a very hot gaze. "And why should the world care?"

    "If it was just type coverage carrying me to great heights I would have lost at the first gym. I'm achieving great things because I work hard, I work with my team. They're all plenty disciplined and I haven't had to yell in their faces to achieve that."

    Catherine couldn't help but let a sigh escape her lips. Partly, because her opposite seemed to be cooling down a little. Partly, because she didn't like having to explain what to her was as plain as day. "I'd have come to your defense as readily as your Sudowoodo because that's the right thing to do. It doesn't matter if I like you. It doesn't even matter that you probably would deserve it. It's not about personal preference or gain, it's about what's better for everyone. I'd be going against my philosophy and the philosophy I want to spread if I stood back and let you get your arm torn out or whatever it was. You're an asshole, but I don't get the impression you're a criminal. Not yet."

    She bent down and ran a hand down Stampede's back, a signal to back off just a bit. She knew him well enough to know that if he thought she was being threatened he wouldn't hesitate to start launching Hydro Pumps into people and Pokemon alike. He settled just a bit.

    "As for the black suits, I know exactly who they are. One way or another, they'll be getting dismantled along with the rest of the rotten elements. Things will change. People will resist at first. But Galar puts too much power and influence into the hands of its champion for me to fail. I work too hard to let myself fail when I have everything I have in arms reach."

    "And if Raphael wins the Championship? Or Simon? Or even Leon again, defending his title?" Hood turned his back to her. His mons slowly turned away as well, disappearing beyond the boulders in different directions. Boldore got up and walked away too, as if Catherine weren't there. "I hear a lot of hopes for when you have all the resources of the Champion. How you're going to enact change then. As if it's a given that then will come. What if it doesn't?" Hood's head lowered and he crossed his arms behind his back, talking at nothing. "What of now, Catherine?"

    "It is a given. Failure isn't an option," Catherine replied. "I'm committed to this. I'll succeed even if it ruins me. The same way I deal with every stepping stone along the way. Until then, I'll do the best I've got with what I have. Sway people as best I can. Help people where I can. Look after my team."

    With her classmate's army of Rock types backing off, Stampede and Indra finally relaxed - the former more reluctantly than the latter.

    "Ha ha." That dry laugh again, like a skinwalker attempting to mimic what a real laugh sounded like. "And is this the best you can do to sway others then?" Hood turned back to face her, shrugged, and started walking towards her. He hadn't raised his voice, and he was moving casually, but his heavy boots sounded like hooves and every step made it a little more apparent that he outsized Catherine. "I'm not feeling very swayed right now, being lectured on how to raise pets. That how you sway people, insisting they're wrong and you're right? The example you'd set is that everyone should just trust themselves to be right and have their mons back them?"

    "The example I'd set is to help others, try to do the right thing, regardless of how little you want to involve yourself or how little you stand to gain. You think I want to be having this conversation? Talking to an ex-classmate who keeps throwing his literal and metaphorical weight around because he doesn't take well to criticism? I only came here because I heard someone screaming their lungs out and figured someone might need help. Instead I found this and ended up wrapped up in a situation that I'd really rather not be involved in. But I wouldn't change anything I did. Because there's a slim chance that maybe you come out of this with something to think about. And if you don't? Well it's just one more person I know to watch out for - just like the blacksuits."

    "Is that right?" Hood stopped a short ways away, head angled down at Catherine given his head of height over her. Even this close his mouth was still invisible behind his mustache as he spoke. "You walk in, say your little piece, and then shrug and walk away? Can I expect similar flippancy if something happens that bars you from the Championship? Or even if you do become Champion and there's some pushback? Just walk away because you tried and it's on the rest of the world for not fixing itself when you told it to?" He lowered into a squat to look up at Catherine severely. With his strange face and long limbs it was a decidedly bizarre posture for him to adopt. "Is that how you're gonna change the world? Say a few things and then let everyone else act on your words? And if they don't act, they're villains unworthy of further attempts?"

    "I make do with what I have. I told you. There's a big difference between what I have access to and how much people will want to listen to me now compared to when I've secured the championship. So right now? Yeah. The best I've got is to say my piece and hope there's a shred of decency in there listening. Even if I'd gone your route and tried to force you, I'd still be left in the same place where you may or may not listen to me. Except this way, you have a lot more reason to give it some thought than if I'd walked in and had you immediately blasted with a Hydro Pump."

    Catherine had very quickly come to the conclusion seeing this guy launched across the landscape would have been significantly more satisfying, but that wasn't a temptation she was actually going to submit to. He seemed intent on asking her the same few questions over and over in different words and then to keep pressing when he didn't get a defeatist answer. Still, she continued to hold her ground. She wasn't really why she was elected at that point though. She may as well have been discussing things with actual stone.

    "You're wrong if you think I won't act though. If someone was in actual danger, person or Pokemon - even you, I wouldn't just be standing here talking. There are real villains out there and I'm not going to ignore them. I'm going to bide my time until I have actual power and resources and then take them apart. I've had my life threatened more than once on this journey and I'm still here, still working towards my goals. You keep trying to poke holes in my plans or pushing back against my efforts but if you want me to actually stop you're going to have to one-up the blacksuits' attempts and actually kill me."

    Hood shook his head, almost as if in disappointment. "Catherine, how can I accept that as any more than toothless drivel when you're the one contradicting yourself? 'Not going to ignore them,' but still just 'bide your time.' As if you can't make a difference without being the Champion. How am I supposed to take that? How can I find hope in your conviction when even you don't think there's much to be done without such exceptional resources. I might not be in visceral danger, Catherine, but I think I probably still qualify for some help regardless. A little more than a hateful criticism spit into my face, anyway." He stood back up with a series of unpleasant cracking sounds, apparently from his joints. "If even Champion Catherine can't enact change without all the resources and connections afforded her station, whatever is a nobody like me supposed to be able to do about anything? I'm not the Joltik King or the Demon Queen. I'm just some deplorable that barely gets the time of day. What am I supposed to do?"

    "I'm not contradicting anything." Catherine scowled. Again, finding immense frustration in the continued, willful missing of the point. "Immediate action to do what is needed and possible in the moment. Long term action to deal with the systemic problems and dangerous, powerful organizations in the long term. If I don't win? Then I keep doing things on a smaller scale until I do. Keep moving towards the shouting and the screaming instead of away from it even if it means I find myself at risk again or in a million more irritating circular conversations. That's what you're supposed to do. If you're deplorable it's only because you choose to be. Do good where you can and then aim to do better, bigger. You want help doing that? I'm all ears. You've already got help from the team you treat like soldiers, but I'm not going to refuse a request for assistance."

    "So I'm supposed to move towards the screaming, but my mons aren't? I'm not sure what you think I must do all day but you may have noticed a lack of a tent in this clearing. You may even have noticed I'm not exactly very prim and proper either. I am doing what I can to get better, and they are doing it with me." He straightened up a little, insulted. "We can't all be gifted with such a natural penchant for bringing the best out of others, as you apparently have with your little mons," he nodded at Stampede and Indra. "How might I make up for this except to push myself, to push them, and to have them push me back? You make it sound so easy, Catherine, and I'm sure it must be very nice to be so naturally gifted. I'm sure it just makes sense to you that if I'm out in the cold sparring living statues it's because I chose to not have a friend to my name."

    He deflated rather abruptly, and his voice calmed back down. "Ahem. Never mind that." A little red eye poked up over one of the perimeter boulders as the Rolycoly from before checked up on the situation, and then it disappeared again. "If you would give me advice I would like to hear it. Even if I'm almost certain it simply will not apply to me, I would like to hear what you think I should do to become one of the 'decent' ones in your estimation."

    Catherine already had a retort on her lips when Hood suddenly deflated. It took her aback and despite herself she found herself fumbling a little for her words. "Have you actually tried just talking to them as equals? Or… anyone really? For most of my life, I did choose to be alone and friendless. These guys changed that. Recently, I've even been giving human friends a chance. It's… I don't know if it's really a good idea, but I said it earlier: I have to believe in the capacity for change or what's the point in even doing this? I think that if you actually reached out to someone - living statues or otherwise - you might be surprised with the results. It's a lot like the tent. You don't have one, but you could if you wanted to. I know how much you make from the league challenge, and I recognise you so I know you're participating. You could afford one if you wanted one. I don't know why you'd choose to make things harder for yourself or others than you need to."

    "You recognize me?" It came out in a different voice than Hood had been using, but he returned to his deep thrum after ignoring his own question. "My mons are too large to share a tent with me, and I will not leave them outside. Nor will I confine them to their balls any more than I already have to when I move through town. I speak to them as I expect to be spoken to, and how I often am spoken to. So far they seem to receive my behavior well enough, and I doubt they would be shy of making it very clear if I were to offend them overmuch." He rubbed the side of his head. "People like me don't get to mingle with people like you. You and the others are proper celebrities, and it will not do for you to be seen with such as myself, except on the trail, or for battles. My mons are the only companions I have, and I do try to be receptive of them."

    Hood looked at Indra and squatted again to look him more in the face. He looked up at Catherine. "I know how this sounds but I feel it still needs said: 'don't be such a prick' is a little less convincing than it might have been coming from you." He looked back at Indra. "What are your favorite things about Catherine?" he asked the Poliwhirl.

    The Poliwhirl in question, naturally, could not respond in a language Hood could actually understand. That did not stop Indra from beginning a long series of enthusiastic Poliwhirl noises while gesticulating wildly - frequently at Catherine and sometimes at Stampede.

    Catherine also had no idea what Indra was saying, but she couldn't help but feel a flutter of pride and affection nonetheless. She waited until he was finished before adding a reply of her own. "I can't tell if we're working towards a middle ground or just firmly establishing divides. If you're telling me the truth and it's about solidarity, I can respect it even if it isn't the smartest of ideas. But then that doesn't seem to line up with the way you behave towards them at all. I can't trust you yet, but it has nothing to do with how you look or live. I don't care about status like that."

    Hood looked between Indra and Catherine a few times. "It is hard for people to understand each other sometimes. I am still unsure of your aims as a Champion, and I don't imagine I can be made to be sure of them either. I can't understand your Poliwhirl, but I can understand that it had a very passionate answer to give, and I suppose I can understand that you have a passion behind what you say, too." He stood up. "But it is easy to be impassioned when things have been going so well for you, and of course the mon you started out with would have a lot to say about you." He looked at Stampede. "Why do you follow Catherine?"

    The Seadra tilted its head for a moment before vocalizing a short, but firm reply. He pulled himself straighter, still glaring at the hooded figure that had been threatening them not that long ago as if daring him to contradict the answer given.

    Hood nodded to himself, apparently satisfied. "Hm. Hmhmhm. Well, this has been an interesting encounter." Hood turned aside and started walking away unceremoniously. "You're on a high climb, Catherine," he said over his shoulder as he went. "But some day you'll slip. Maybe you'll get back up, and maybe you'll stay down forever, but I will be watching to see what your goals look like after they've fallen to the hard ground." He climbed a pile of rubble at the perimeter and stopped at the top. "You said it was a given that you would be Champion. I take that as a promise. Not to me of course, but to the world. Don't break your promise, Catherine."

    "I've never been someone who went back on their promises," Catherine replied. "When I'm done things will be better for you too."

    Hood snapped his fingers down at his side and a column of smoke rose from the far side of the rubble pile he was on. "I'll remember that, Catherine," he said over his shoulder. He looked away and walked down the other side of the rubble, towards the smoke. "May we never meet again." After a moment longer, the smoke dissipated, and he was gone.
    Catherine waited a moment to be sure he was gone, then sat down on the nearest rock, suddenly feeling very tired. She looked over at her companions. "What am I supposed to make of that?'

    Of course, they didn't have any answers.

     

    Orx of Twinleaf

    Branch into Psyche
  • 273
    Posts
    8
    Years
    Team:
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Rij
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Henj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pelj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Kolj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Tonj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Silj
    Tim T
    To make Galar a better place.

    Such an ephemeral, platitudinous aim, but Catherine had been so firm in her expression of it.

    Tim didn't understand.

    Tim supposed that was the difference between him and proper Trainers, that sort of pigheaded self-certainty that had almost gotten Simon shot in a mineshaft. Tim had always considered it a bad trait to have, and maybe in the grand scheme of things it was, but as far as Trainers were concerned it seemed to be a source of drive not only for the Trainers themselves but for their mons as well.

    Of course Catherine's Poliwhirl would be fond of her, and perhaps it was equally expected that her Seadra also be so—if it were the same mon as the Horsea Catherine had fielded against Milo anyway. But even if their responses had been expected, they had still reinforced Catherine's show of resolve. Even if they were pets.

    Tim stopped himself from thinking that way. That was petty and unwarranted. Still, it had irked him deeply to have Catherine insinuate he was somehow abusive or neglectful apparently on the grounds of his not carrying his mons around like toddlers or snuggling up with them in a hotel or something. As if there were no other ways to form camaraderie with a mon except to coddle them, as if they were children or invalids. Or pets.

    Perhaps some people thought that those mons couldn't possibly qualify as pets because they battled. But battling came as naturally to mons as walking did to humans—barring injury or perhaps some rare individual issue, every mon was capable of it, and on no sanctioned Gym field would meaningful harm truly come upon a mon without some exceptional accident. A pet could battle, and even win, but a pet wasn't a peer.

    Tim dismissed the thought reluctantly. It was unfair to assume so far on Catherine's treatment of her mons. Even if she had made such assumptions against Tim. That was her right though, she was the more-accomplished Trainer and her position allowed her to say such things. If it made Tim hot under the collar it didn't change that Catherine was allowed her opinions. Tim didn't understand, but Tim didn't have to understand.

    Tim supposed that, perhaps, Catherine and indeed other people too might think Tim placed himself above his mons—a sort of commander to a group of soldiers. A fair enough assumption to make, although it was inaccurate. There were plenty of things Tim's mons did that Tim didn't do but that worked in the other direction too. Tim didn't help with clearing rubble or brush to make a training area because he, and his smaller mons, were just not very good at it, and it made the most sense for Henj and Rij to do it. Similarly, Henj and Rij didn't help Tim forage or dive the occasional waste bin, because they were both too big and lacked hands. Everyone had things they were better at doing than the others, and together they were a unit.

    Besides, Tim had always left his mons loose overnight with the understanding that they would abandon him if they didn't like being around. However harsh or intense Tim's training might be, all his mons elected to remain. If they were merely afraid to run when the rest of the group might be able to chase them down, they would have acted as Tonj had when he had been fresh to the group. But none of them acted like that now. Tonj had become just as focused and able as any other of the Rocks. Even the newest addition to the team had settled in well.

    Silj the Sudowoodo had been caught only maybe two weeks ago, and under truly exceptional conditions. Back in the Glimwood Tangle, even before having challenged Bede, Tim had encountered a Bonsly during his hunting runs. It had been another three run-ins with it—either alone or alongside other ferals—before Tim had realized he was finding the same Bonsly somehow. Naturally, he had chosen to move his operations so as not to unintentionally bully the poor thing, but on the way out of the Tangle the Bonsly had started entering into the melees when Tim's team had caught up some other target. Tim had repelled it as usual but had still found it remarkable.

    Tim hadn't considered catching it because the Bonsly hadn't seemed to be seeking capture. When Henj and Pelj and Kolj had each approached Tim seeking capture, it had been obvious to Tim that that had been their intent. But when the Bonsly appeared it was to brawl, oftentimes with Tim in particular as it tried to bypass the other mons. It had been as if Tim had somehow given grave insult to this wild animal and it demanded satisfaction.

    The harassment hadn't ended as Tim left the Tangle either. Even up to and through Stow-on-Side the baneful Bonsly would still make the occasional appearance. Being a Bonsly of all things it had of course never been much of a fight at all, but it had gotten so disruptive Tim had seriously started to reconsider Henj's fear of spirits—he had started to think it might not have been a Bonsly at all and instead some other abnormal thing that he was doomed to be chased by for some forgotten sin.

    And then the last appearance had occurred. The whole time prior, the Bonsly had appeared during or occasionally immediately after the brawl that capped off one of Tim's hunting runs against ferals. Tim had never so much as glimpsed the thing any other time of the day or night. Naturally, he had thought nothing of leaving alone to forage. He had stopped doing so now, but until relatively recently Tim would occasionally decide to forage by himself rather than take one of his mons for one-on-one time. The last time he had done so had seen him ambushed.

    Tim still refused to admit he could have possibly mistaken a spotted, smooth-bodied biped of all things for a tree, and yet it had been as if the Sudowoodo had appeared out of nowhere as Tim had zipped his fly after answering the call of nature. Having almost literally caught him with his pants down, the Sudowoodo had spared no time in rattling Tim's rib cage. Sudowoodos were hard-bodied, like smooth marble, but Tim had remembered seeing the Bonsly's face flush with color. Tim had been right to suppose this implied the face was softer, and that this still applied to the Sudowoodo post-Evolution.

    Maybe it was a little barbaric to punch an animal in the face, but taking a Wood Hammer in the gut had quite erased any modicum of civility Tim might have been inclined to show. Still, Sudowoodo had fought savagely, punching and swinging the way Tim always had, like a human would, as if it had been watching him through all those earlier encounters. Perhaps it really had had such a keen eye, because it had even swung a Wood Hammer into Tim's leg where he had earlier bruised it against Henj. Tim had had to stop punching it when it had grabbed his arm between its own and tried to wrench it from his shoulder.

    Unfortunately for the Sudowoodo, Tim had keen eyes too, and his keen eyes had seen the bursts of light traveling up the stony arm: Sudowoodo didn't have Rock Head. Tim had elected to gamble on his bone strength and goaded Sudowoodo into further Wood Hammers, which Tim had had to let hit him to apply their recoil. In the end, Tim had run out of juice and lay on the ground, but Sudowoodo had only barely kept its feet.

    Sudowoodo had given a strained but triumphant monologue that meant nothing to Tim. Tim's comeback of "You lose" had meant a lot more to Sudowoodo though, as it had managed to bite out something dripping with such heat it almost burned Tim's ears as he pulled out and threw his spare Pokéball.

    Tim had passed out after and awoke to his other mons having somehow moved him back to their clearing for that day, and with the ball for the sixth member of their ragtag band. Silj the Sudowoodo hadn't come out of the ball swinging but had certainly had plenty to say. Henj had abashedly refused to attempt translating any of it, but it had hardly required translation at all. If words could kill, Tim's chunks would have flown far enough to feed the wild dogs in Paldea.

    Tim had managed to impress on Silj that she would have easily had him if she had shown a little more restraint and not undone herself with recoil. She had rattled off more Poképrofanity in response, but then Tim's other mons had stepped in to talk to her as well, Tonj the Boldore most of all. In the end, Silj had elected to remain with the group, and her talkative presence finally gave someone for Pelj to bounce off of and make the days livelier.

    Tim had at first thought that had just meant Silj liked the company of the other Rocks, but she had willfully applied herself to training and would be especially loud to volunteer to be Tim's partner when sparring time came around. She hadn't tried to cave his lungs in again, but Tim's arms and legs had taken a harsh beating by the time he had finally tried to get Henj to tell him what exactly Silj was expecting. From the tone of Silj's voice alone Tim had gathered she must apparently think of him as a rival of some kind, although Tim had not been able to glean any more than that: Henj, mouth agape and eyes wide at Silj's apparently-colorful language, had again refused to repeat what he'd heard, not even as charades.

    Ah, but where do the days go? Today, Tim had taken a partner to forage, as now he always did for fear of an ambush from something that he wasn't taller than. Silj ate the kinds of things Tim ate, meaning that with Kolj the Relicanth as well, Tim now had to forage for three mouths. Henj and Tonj either didn't eat at all or ate when Tim wasn't looking or in ways Tim didn't recognize as eating. Pelj occasionally took moss or algae or tree bark with her wheel in what Tim assumed was the equivalent of eating, and Rij seemed able to cover for himself, either through grazing or finding clumps of … something in holes he dug with his horn as if it were magically turning sod into food. For Tim, the fish, and the false tree though, it had to be forage, and this was becoming increasingly difficult as the move towards the cold realm of Circhester saw the greenery grow scarcer. Tim had weathered a snowy spell in the Wild Area a while ago, but that had been when it was only Rij and him, and when he had enough flesh on his bones to let himself skip meals now and again.

    It had been about two weeks sure, and ordinarily Tim would have thought nothing of doing this. He'd gone alone with Tonj and Kolj earlier in their tenures. But his limbs were so brown with bruises he almost seemed tanned; it had been all he could do to get his coat sleeves to sit right to hide it in time for Catherine to find his strategically-chosen clearing. But there was nothing for it. There was no putting it off. It had to be done.

    Tim had taken Silj with him today.

    It wasn't as if he didn't trust the Sudowoodo, that wasn't it exactly. It was more that he was worried she might want an impromptu tussle and that she might inadvertently put him out. He was sure that either she or the others would recover him, but it would be lost time when foraging had become so hard. Tim hoped that Silj would be able to focus herself on this task as well as she focused on sparring.

    Tim clambered around through the rocky terrain as Silj came behind, loudly complaining. "I don't care if it's boring," Tim said, taking a wild stab at what she was complaining about. "We have to eat, Silj."

    "Susud? Dowudo susud, dowudo sudowoodo susud." She stopped and folded her arms the way Tim had when he had taken on his Scary Man voice in front of Catherine.

    "What?" Tim figured he never would get used to seeing his gestures so uncannily replicated by a walking log.

    Silj sighed and turned a different direction, knocking her fingerballs together at her side as if snapping her fingers. Tim was unsure whether to be irked or bemused, but chose to follow her anyway. Silj would stop periodically to pivot her head around, the branch-like forked horn on it quivering as she gyrated her face, which Tim couldn't recognize the purpose of. As unfamiliar as he was with Pokémon physiology, she could be doing something as mundane as sniffing the air to something as bizarre as using her horn as a dowsing rod.

    Tim scanned the area as they went as well, but was missing a lot in their passage. Silj didn't stick around to look very much, it wasn't the way Tim would forage at all. Just as Tim was about to suggest taking the lead back from her though, Silj gave a little chirp of triumph as she came over a mound to find a little low spot on the other side. A small Berry tree of some kind—more like a bush at its size—sat placidly in its cozy place, which would have been hidden from anyone farther than ten feet from the edge of the mound.

    Silj smugly chattered as she approached the bush and started eating from it. She gave Tim a confused look when he didn't immediately join her though. Tim was hesitant to eat Berries in large quantities for several reasons, whether convenient or not. But Berry trees rarely grew isolated from other plantlife, and sure enough Tim spotted what looked like a patch of sorrel growing on the far side of the Berry tree's hideaway. Silj watched with bemusement as Tim walked past the Berries to go stuff one of his pockets with leaves.

    Silj finished eating, evidently only needing maybe a dozen of the things for the whole day, and then waited as Tim filled his other pocket with Berries for Kolj.

    "Susud oos?" Silj asked, folding her arms again.

    "That should be enough," Tim said, ignoring whatever her question might have actually been. There was a beveled shelf of rock at their clearing of the day that still had a usable dish of water in it from some past rainfall, and that would do for their water needs for the day.

    Tim took the lead back from Silj to head back to the others but found his mind wandering as he heard the very distant but very recognizable sound of a human voice. Silj noticed Tim's attention shift and then picked it up to. She shared a look with him.

    Catherine had seemed insistent that people were able to change if they just tried to do so. Tim wasn't so naïve as to think elbow grease and a can-do attitude were all it took to pull oneself out of the Grey Dragon's pit of despair, but he did have to allow that effort and drive went a long way to evolving as a person.

    As little as Catherine had seemed to believe him, Tim really had taken steps to change his behavior. She had been the first human he had interacted with since challenging Bede. He had moved through the streets of Stow-on-Side under cover of night and had avoided crossing paths with others all this long trek northward. Bede had suggested to Tim that Tim just might really have some ability as a Trainer, and for some reason Tim believed Bede.

    What that had meant at the time was that Tim should just keep training, and train more. Thus had he continued to stalk, entrap, and incapacitate ferals with his team. Thus had he continued to lead them in increasingly-complex exercises. Thus had he almost completely stopped paying attention to his old classmates.

    But when he had happened to spy a familiar girl the other day, he could not help but indulge in a moment of company. It had been Catherine Carlisle, whose announcement to the world in Kabu's Gym had set the region to chattering. Tim had to see her, to see in person with his own eyes who Catty Catherine, coldest of shoulders, brattiest of frowners, had managed to become in such a short time out in the world with a Poliwag.

    Tim hadn't understood her resolve and still didn't. He'd tried to goad her into attacking him so that he could at least tell himself she was putting on a front and couldn't practice what she preached. But she had, quite against his expectations, refrained from firing the first shot. And that had put Tim in the awkward position because then he couldn't aggress either or he'd just be reinforcing her argument.

    In the end they had parted without a battle. It had left Tim unsatisfied, chomping at the bit. He had not felt so disappointed when Xan had refused him all that time ago, but now he had come to wish for that release he had gotten with Simon and Ryan and Aeliana. Beating up animals was all well and good but it wasn't the same. That was training for his mons, what about the training for him?

    The distant voice had grown closer. Quite without realizing what he was doing, Tim had been moving towards it while lost in his thoughts. Silj had followed him instead of trying to get him back on task. Even awake to his movements now Tim couldn't stop his approach. Tim was a Trainer. It only made sense to battle other Trainers. And if he could fight strangers he wouldn't feel that niggling urge to chew the scenery for people he missed talking to.

    There was an older woman sitting on a rock up ahead. Both she and the Dusclops she was speaking to had their backs to Tim's approach over the rocks. His heavy boots, so loud and hoof-like when people were looking at him, were silent as the grave. Silj made as much noise as a tree would when no one was around to hear it blink. The woman was talking about some mundane nonsense from another time, another world.

    "You have the look of a Trainer," Tim said in that deep humming voice reserved for use with other humans.

    The woman nearly launched from her seat with a yelp, the Dusclops with her completely flopping forward onto its face in surprise. She got up, managing a chuckle at her own expense as she helped her mon up. "Flapping Phanpys, lad, takes some doing to scare a Ghost Trainer like that. Who're you supposed to be?"

    Silj folded her arms at Tim's side, sizing up the Dusclops. Tim straightened up and pressed one fist to his chest, a shadow of a gesture from a different life.

    "I'm your opponent."
     
  • 25,614
    Posts
    12
    Years
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]


    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Indra (Male, Swift Swim) - Rain Dance, Hypnosis, Bubblebeam, Hydro Pump, Earth Power, Refresh
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Stampede (Male, Poison Point) - Hydro Pump, Smokescreen, Twister, Focus Energy, Dragon Pulse, Icy Wind
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Holo (Female, Lightning Rod) - Thunderbolt, Thunder Wave, Electric Terrain, Rising Voltage, Flame Burst, Flash

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Vessel (Female, Dry Skin) - Fury Cutter, Giga Drain, Poison Powder, Spore, Rain Dance, Protect
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Lancer (Male, Dry Skin) - Rock Climb, Revenge, Sucker Punch, Poison Jab, Rain Dance, Toxic


    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:
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    CATHERINE CARLISLE
    The Perils of Heroism
    The encounter with Tim - as she now thought of him - had left Catherine with a bad taste in her mouth. Which was strange, because on the surface the confrontation had ended rather amicably.

    But it bothered her nonetheless, because she wasn't sure there was any point to it happening at all. She hadn't helped anyone. Tim hadn't seemed to have budged in his views. Tim would continue to act as he had. But, according to him, at least part of how he handled his team - and himself - was about solidarity and kinship rather than oppression. She could believe that was why he lived how he did. But screaming into the face of his Sudowoodo? It was hard to believe that was a healthy dynamic. She didn't understand.

    Evidently, he didn't understand her either. He had questioned her over and over again, using different words but always articulating the same few points. How could she change anything? What if she couldn't become champion?

    She had responded with confidence - and she was confident in her abilities - but she wasn't an idiot. She wasn't such an idealist that she was blind to reality. She knew she could lose. But did that mean she should stop fighting? Should she stop trying to make a positive change?

    Of course not. Sure, failure was possible. But that didn't mean it was an option. She would not allow herself to fail. Her resolve remained unshaken.

    But she was. This was the first time since she'd embarked on her newfound quest that someone had so directly pushed back against her ideals - and with threat of physical violence at that. It wasn't the violence that bothered her of course, she had phase down much scarier things than a singular unarmed assailant. It was the sheer viscerality of how hard Tim had pushed back against her that left her with feelings of unease. She had gotten too complacent in her time away from other people, too focused on her own personal problems. She still had a very long road ahead of her and she couldn't forget that.

    "Hey!"

    Catherine turned towards the voice. A man with a bandage wrapped around one side of his face was hailing her. He wasn't alone either, six or seven people had gathered into a makeshift camp of sorts. All of them looked worse for wear in some way. Catherine had been so wrapped up in thinking about people that she had failed to notice a group of them.

    "Can I help you?" she asked, feeling cautious after her recent experience.

    "Doubt it, honestly." The man let out a sigh. "I'm trying to help you. It's going to be really dangerous to keep going that way. That's why we're all messed up and gathered here. None of us want to turn back but… well getting through is an issue."

    "What kind of an issue?"
    "The draconic kind. This crazy Gabite in a cave up ahead is attacking anyone who tries to pass by. But the only way through is past the cave. We're probably going to have to turn back if it doesn't calm down or go to sleep."

    Catherine thought about it. She could hesitate and let Tim continue getting to her, or she could help these people, make their lives easier and maybe further her mission in the process. She wasn't going to back down. She'd made a promise.

    "Let me see what I can do about that."



    Catherine approached the area she had been pointed towards. The other travellers had tried to convince her not to go, but had relented somewhat when she explained who she was and why she was going in that direction to begin with.

    Stampede hopped along at her feet now, head swivelling around as he played the party of bodyguard - a role he was all too happy to fill.

    According to the man with the bandage, the Dragon-types in the area were known to be territorial, but this Gabit took it to a whole new extreme. Catherine didn't think it would be too long before she encountered it.

    She was right.

    With a ferocious roar, a blue dragon with a red underbelly and fin-like protrusions leapt down from above, plummeting towards them with it's sharp, singular claws coated in green energy that extended forward like blades.

    Stampede was quick on the draw. He turned his head towards the sound, a purple glow starting to form at his mouth. The Gabite was two thirds of the way to them when he unleashed a concentrated beam of purple, fire-like energy that slammed into it and launched into the side of a cliff-face. Dragon Pulse packed even more of a punch than his old Dragon Breath had.

    Stampede adjusted his position as Catherine moved back to a position where she could better survey the battlefield. Together, they watched as the growling Gabite pulled itself free of the indent it had left in the stone and dropped down to ground to face off against Catherine and Stampede.

    "You could just play nice," Catherine said, already knowing the kind of answer she was going to get.

    The Gabite rushed forward and leapt towards Stampede, jaws opened wide to deliver a Bite.

    "Twister."

    As commanded, Stampede summoned up the stormy vortex, catching the Gabite within the Twister and whipping it around in circles with it. His foe was not going to be so easily deterred though, as it whirled around it spat out a Dragon Breath in Catherine and Stampede's direction.

    Catherine scurried back out of the way as Stampede hopped to the side, being caught in a glancing strike that sent him tumbling.

    The Twister immediately dissipated and the Gabite fell back towards the Earth, shifting into a head-first dive. Instead of crumpling into the ground though, it shot its bladed arms forward and pierced it, parting it like water and using Dig to burrow down into the earth in a fluid motion.

    Stampede had barely had time to right himself when the Gabite exploded up from underneath him in a shower of shrapnel and dirt, smacking him across the battlefield.

    "Dragon Pulse." Catherine commanded.

    Stampede didn't even get back up. From where he lay on his side shot out the draconic beam. The beam struck only a boulder, breaking chunks off of it as the Gabite descended back under ground.

    There was another rumbling sound as the Gabite burst forth once again, this time leaping up behind Catherine herself.

    Catherine ducked as Stampede whipped around and blasted the Gabite out of the air with a Dragon Pulse. She turned just in time to see it hit the ground, skipping across it like a stone until it got enough traction to leap up and dive back into the ground in a softer patch of soil.

    Everything went still. Catherine had a hard time imagining the Gabite was giving up that easily after such a ferocious and unrelenting onslaught. But they'd hurt it enough to slow its momentum and make it want to bide its time it seemed.

    "As if I'm giving you the option. Hydro Pump right into one of those holes, keep going until you flush it out."

    Stampede hurriedly hopped over to the hole nearest him, took a deep breath in and then dipped his head down as a torrent of high pressure water shot from his mouth into the depths of the tunnel system beneath him.

    Stampede kept up the Hydro Pump for some time. Or at least it felt like a long time. In reality, it was probably less than a minute before the ground cracked and the Gabite emerged, clambering out of the new exit with far less speed and grace, dripping wet.

    It caught sight of Stampede and the green energy blades of its Dragon Claw formed over its singular claws.

    "Behind you!"

    Catherine's warning came just in time. The Gabite leapt for Stampede with a burst of surprising speed and vigour.

    Stampede whirled around and hopped back, avoiding the worst of the attack but the extension of the blades still caught him and flung him backwards. Mid-air, he retaliated with a Dragon Pulse. His attack caught the Gabite square in the chest and sent it flying over the dirt even as he himself hit the ground with a tumble and skidded into an upright position.

    The Gabite did not have such a graceful landing. It hit the ground hard and slid to a halt on its side, kicking up a cloud of dust and dirt around it. It rolled onto its belly, glaring at Stampede, but lacking the strength to return to its feet just yet, even though it tried.

    "Want to behave and let people through now?"

    The Gabite growled with impotent frustration and started to claw its way across the ground, crawling in Catherine's direction. No… not quite.

    Catherine followed the Gabite's trajectory with her eyes, turning back to see a small cave opening not too far in the distance. She turned back to note that Gabite's own eyes were firmly and intensely locked on that cave. Yet it didn't seem like an expression of surrender or retreat to her. A glance at Stampede, still clearly at the ready, confirmed her suspicions. Something felt wrong about that situation.

    "Stampede, watch our backs, we're going to check out that cave."

    The Gabite roared its frustration behind them, but was not yet ready to get up and give chase. So Catherine and Stampede were able to enter the cave and follow its narrow path until it opened up into a wide, dark cavern.

    Catherine held up her phone for some extra light and almost dropped it when she saw what was in front of her.

    A second Gabite was laying on a floor of sand and stone, taking heaving breaths. A long, inflamed wound was visible on its side. Catherine was pretty sure it was infected.

    Stampede made an odd sound and Catherine glanced down to see an expression of shock and horror on his face. She'd never seen him look like that. She could guess why. The Seadra fancied himself a bit of a hero, he liked to save people and Pokemon and help them out. He'd just soundly beaten the Gabite outside… and it was probably just trying to protect its wounded companion.

    "You couldn't have known," Catherine said. "We were trying to protect people too. Now let's see if we can do anything to help this one."

    Catherine bent down over the second Dragon to examine it. Sure enough, it was quite the severe wound. She reached into her bag and found a potion, spraying the injury with it. It clearly helped, the second Gabite's breathing became a little less ragged. A mere potion wouldn't be enough to heal a serious wound like that though, nor would it get rid of an infection. She had more, so she set to work applying them too. Every bit would help.

    At some point, the first Gabite returned to the cave, growling. Although it abruptly stopped when it found Catherine trying to help rather than hurt its companion and Stampede simply standing guard, but not attacking.

    Catherine turned back to the Gabite she'd battled. "I made it so it hurts less, but I can't do much else. I'm going to call the rangers guild in Circhester. They should have people in the area who can come and help. Stampede, stay here with them, I'm going to go outside so I get better reception and make that call."



    It took an agonising two hours before the pair of rangers showed up. In that time, the injured Gabite's wounds had started to ache more severely again and its friend was getting antsy. Catherine and Stampede had done their best to reassure it, but it wasn't until the rangers arrived and started applying much better care that it finally relaxed.

    Catherine took her leave with Stampede while the rangers were still working. There was nothing more she could do to help there.

    They had barely gotten twenty feet from the cave's exit when they heard the healthy Gabite behind them. They turned to find it standing with something clutched between its clawed arms. It presented the item towards them and it glinted in the waning sunlight. A large scale.

    Catherine looked down at Stampede. She had her own reasons for not wanting to take a reward, she didn't want to taint the good of her actions with any benefit to herself. She was trying to be better about her rigidity… or at least Val had tried to make her be better about her rigidity. She still was reluctant to take it.

    She didn't think Stampede would want to either. He wouldn't feel like he deserved the reward since he had essentially attacked the ones in need of help in his eyes. Still, she was learning a bit more about situations like this. Even if she would still avoid taking rewards where she could, she recognised this was a special situation. The Gabite was trying to apologise for attacking the ones who eventually helped it. It too felt bad and it would feel worse if they didn't take the gift.

    Catherine reached forward and took the scale, eliciting a relieved sound from the dragon. Then, she knelt down to Stampede with the Dragon Scale in her hands. "You should take it. Even the best heroes make mistakes. Besides, this Gabite will be sad if we don't take it and absolve it of its guilt. That's what we do right? Sacrifice to make things better."

    Stampede looked at Catherine and gave a reluctant nod. He leaned forwards and touched the scale with his snout. The effect was immediate. Stampede was engulfed in a bright light and when it faded, he was more than twice as large as he had been before. His fins were almost wing-like and he had developed branching horns.

    "Come on then," Catherine said, "we should let those other people know it's safe to come through now."

    Again, Stampede gave a hesitant nod. He had evolved into a Kingdra and was more powerful than ever, but he had never looked so uncertain.


    Stampede evolved!
     

    Geras

    Roleplayer
  • 957
    Posts
    13
    Years
    Somewhere on Route 8, with Winston, Chloe and Hayleigh

    "Laaaaaaaaaadies and geeeeeeeentleman, are you reeeeady to ruuuuuumble?"

    In Route 8, only the tough and determined were bound to thrive. Rugged and treacherous terrain fully displayed nature's beauty, vibrant red-orange rock carved into all sorts of formations that dazzled with their unique shapes and patterns. Human civilization seemingly remained only as ghosts of the past. It was, in the truest sense of the word, wild.

    But for the humans and Pokemon gathered in one of the craggy canyons, a different kind of spectacle was unfolding.

    The voice of a Chatot with a Unovan accent reverberated throughout the canyon, his booming and flamboyant voice amplified with the aid of a Loudred.

    The crowd occupied wood and stone stands, surrounding a square platform that was designed after a Unovan wrestling ring. It even had tight ropes around the edge made from a bug-type's sturdy string. Regrettably, there were no refreshments, though some brought in their own. Their chatter had erupted into full on cheers at the Chatot's question, but for the other Chatot standing ringside along with his announcer partner, this wasn't enough.

    "Bah, 've heard louder from a fookin' Wooloo meadow. Me best mate said, 'ARE YA READY TO RUMBLE?!"

    In response, the roaring cheers got even louder. The first Chatot announcer cleared his throat and said, "Yes, that's right, this is the match of the season! We've got two amazing brawlers opening for us tonight. In thiiiiis corner - " A beam of light cast from an Illumise hovering high above the stadium, pointing at one of the two fighters.

    "We have Faaaaaalinks! These guys may be little, but what the shorties lack in height, they more than make up for it with their flurry of coordinated attacks!"

    More roars echoed throughout the canyon. The Falinks in question glowered at their opponent.

    The Unovan Chatot's Galarian counterpart chimed in, "Ohoho, looks like our wee friend here's go' a migh'y grudge to se'le. I can see i' in their eyes, tha hatred burnin' inside! For t'was their last match tha' took one a the li'l guys ou'a tha ring for good!"

    The spotlight shifted to the Medicham, her countenance placid yet focused. Even so, there was still a self-satisfied smirk gracing her lips as she stared down the Falinks' glares.

    "Will revenge be theirs today, or will it just be another notch on Medicham's belt?!"

    The match bell rang, and Medicham immediately found itself surrounded. With a glint in their eyes they rushed their foe, each getting barely dodged or harmlessly knocked away as quickly as they came. Medicham could only offer a bored expression in response to the vengeful fighters, yet it couldn't seem to get a counter in where it mattered, landing no blows in response.

    They backed away and regrouped to reevaluate their strategy as the Medicham watched expectantly. The one in the lead raised its shields and shouted something. The others let out a cry in response, declaring No Retreat as the group swelled with power and charged forth.

    The ground trembled from their newfound strength as they rushed at the Medicham, whose cool demeanor was beginning to break. Intending to finish it in a single blow they launched their leader forth to pierce the enemy with his sharp horn.

    The attack met its mark, passing right through the Medicham. Or past it, rather, as Medicham was able to Detect it and avoided it with the slightest movement. The Falinks leader was now helpless in the air, and an easy target to be slapped into the ground by a Force Palm.

    After only one counterattack, the leader did not rise, and demoralized, the group forfeited.

    "How brutal can you get, folks?! All that training, all those tears, crushed in a single palm!"

    "Ah, ye see what 'appened, it looked like Medicham was on tha ropes for most a tha' exchange. Bu' the truth is, Falinks' coor'ination has been sufferin' ever since their buddy go' walloped. Medicham's been in control tha whole time."

    "I see, I see. Without that final piece of the puzzle to box them in, there was always a gap for Medicham to slip through in their charge. An unfortunate end to this battle, but perhaps inevitable."

    There were a few jeers from the crowd as the opening act came to a close, and the stage was cleaned up for the next segment.

    "And now for the main event, what everyone's here for!" The crowd roared in anticipation. "Let's give it up for-"

    Before he could finish, the Loudred amplifying their voices began blaring hard rock music as a hard rock crashed near the Chatot announcer. A Throh wearing rugged clothing and a large belt with a metal plate on the front stepped into the arena, shouting something the human audience couldn't understand at the announcer, who glared at right back.

    "... 'Stone Cold' the Throh, everybody. We tell you every time that we're the ones who are supposed to introduce you!"

    Stone Cold contested, grumbling something the audience could barely hear, and Chatot answered, "Yeah, well not everyone already knows you yet, you know how this goes."

    While those two argued, the other Chatot chuckled and moved on. "He may be tha three-time champion, bu' maybe today is where tha' streak finally ends. Comin' in now is our rising star, 'e's small bu' 'e's fierce. 'e may get knocked down, bu' 'e never backs down… 'is mentor's career was ended by Stone Cold 'imself, so is i' revenge 'e's after? Or does he 'ave some'ing to prove? It's 'Iron Sumo' the Makuhi'a!"

    The crowd cheered, and the two stepped into the ring. Stone Cold looked down at Iron Sumo with a glare, dragging his thumb across his throat to intimidate him. But the Makuhita looked up with crossed arms, unfazed.

    "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLEEEE!!!" The bell rang with the announcer's voice and the match was on, the crowd at the edge of their seats.

    Stone Cold made the first move. Confident in his size and strength, he pulled back his fist and delivered a crushing blow into the Makuhita. The fist dug into its gut, but Iron Sumo didn't budge. He merely looked back at Stone Cold with a smug smirk. Another blow came, then another in a Close Combat barrage.

    "Oh, and a fierce onslaugh' from tha start! But Iron Sumo is taking it like a champ, even taun'ing him! Bold move against this opponent!"

    The Throh wasn't champion for no reason. The blows finally began to push Iron Sumo back, bit by bit towards the edge of the ring.

    "Is this as much as he can take?"

    Brought right up to the rope, Stone Cold brought down another fist only to have it knocked aside by his opponent. That moment of shock was enough for Iron Sumo to clap his hands together and send the Throh flying back with a Whirlwind, blasting into the ropes on the opposite side that bounded to send him blasting back.

    Iron Sumo expected this and had taken a stance, honing his focus. A light began to gather around his fist.


    "Is this it!? Iron Sumo's legendary Figh'ing Spiri' Strike!? If Stone Cold doesn't counter before he's done chargin' it's all over for him!"

    The Throh did no such thing as he flew straight into Iron Sumo's shining Focus Punch. Stone Cold was thrown into the ground, motionless. As was tradition, Iron Sumo went to seal the deal with a pin. The announcers began the countdown. 1…2…

    Throh's hand gripped Iron Sumo from atop him and slammed him into the ground beside.

    "I can't believe it! Iron Sumo's signature finisher failed! Stone Cold was able to Endure it and is back with a vengeance! And this looks like… It's his own signature move, the Road Roller!"

    Stone Cold began dragging Iron Sumo's face across the ground as he stomped around the ring. He raised his battered opponent for display to the audience as he laughed, eliciting some enthusiastic boos from them.

    Members of the audience stood from their seats and began shouting. Some shouted for Stone Cold to finish him. But most called Iron Sumo's name, cheering him on and hoping for a miraculous recovery. The roars of the pokemon locals melded with human voices, not a single one able to take their eyes off the match.

    "Sumo! Sumo! Sumo!"

    "Don't give up, you can do it!"

    "Kick his ass!!!"

    "Squaaaaawk!"

    Stone Cold casually tossed the Makuhita aside and taunted the audience, shouting something that seemed to get the pokemon in the audience especially riled up. He reveled in their anger. A lighter shout from behind him got his full attention though.


    "Looks like Stone Cold spent too much time gloating, letting Iron Sumo recover! They're both hurt, it's anyone's match now!"

    The fighters locked eyes, and for a moment all was still. Silence broken by their bodies clashing as they rushed into each other, both trying to grapple one another. It was Stone Cold who finally lifted his opponent overhead, but suddenly he found himself off balance as Iron Sumo went for a Heavy Slam onto the other side of him, still holding tightly.

    He kept the momentum going and pulled Stone Cold off his own feet, bringing him over and slamming him down onto the ground in front of him.

    "It looks like with that, Stone Cold is out Cold! Say it with me folks… 1… 2… 3…"

    "And it looks like we have a new champion!!! Iron Sumo has defeated the unbeatable Stone Cold!"
    Off behind the stands, as the opening act began, the gentleman thief Impidimp snuck away from his esteemed trainer, and kicked off the first stage of his plans. He was after certain riches hidden within the mines of Galar, and thankfully for him the fighting arena wasn't far from the location he knew of. But he couldn't do it alone.

    He first needed to secure transportation, coaxing an unfamiliar trainer's bored Ponyta into joining him. It wasn't difficult.

    "So," Ponyta asked as she trotted alongside Impidimp, "what's this treasure you're after?"

    "Better to explain when we have everyone we need together. I must ask for your patience."

    "Who else are we looking for?"

    "Some muscle, ideally. My repertoire is rather unsuited for direct combat, I'm ashamed to admit, and I would rather not ask a lady to put herself in the line of fire should battle break out."

    "O-Oh... Eheheh. Ah. Did you have anyone in mind?"

    In truth he had no clue how to gauge strength at a glance. One of his few weak points. Even lacking such a skill, it didn't take long for them to stumble on one standout. A Pancham who was on her own.

    "'Sup? You guys bored too?"

    "Mhm."

    "Quite."

    "Yeah. 'S no fun if I'm not the one fighting." Hearing this, Impidimp's smile widened a little. She introduced herself as Ado, and seemed to be just what they were looking for. It didn't take much convincing to get her on board. However, as the master thief was about to divulge his scheme, they were interrupted.

    A Piplup eagerly called out to them, hanging over the edge of the stands next to them, "Hey! You look like you're doing something interesting! More than these clowns, anyways." Her name was Reyna, and she similarly stole away from her own team. Needless to say, whatever they were up to, she wanted in. Impidimp accepted without hesitation. After all, four was a party.

    He located a quiet area a ways from the arena and started explaining. "You see, on our way here, I heard tell of a local legend among the locals, of riches and the power of ancient Pokemon locked away deep underground. I scarcely believe rumors, but we passed by a mining operation, and it convinced me. The humans were looking for something of great value in this area, and possibly more. With the humans away, I intend to go and find it."

    "I was wondering why you had a satchel," Ponyta observed. In his experience with the ball that housed him during rest, he learned that it would include worn items as well, and kept the small satchel over his shoulder. A memento his rogues gifted him when he gave his farewells.

    "So... we're going treasure hunting? Like, ruins and guardians and stuff?!" Though she wasn't aware, Ado's trainer was rubbing off on her.

    Not wanting to be left out, Reyna answered as well, a smirk on her face. "It'll be nice to go out on another adventure, count me in." Seeing as everyone was on board with Impidimp's idea, they set out.

    After some trekking down the route, the gang discovered an open mine that was left unattended. There was a small amount of mining equipment in the area, implying that there was still work to be done, but to Impidimp, finders keepers was the law of the land. If they got to the treasure first, the humans wouldn't know, and there would be nothing they could do.

    Impidimp pointed into the dark beyond the entrance to encourage his co-conspirators and shouted, "Let us take the first step to adventure, my new friends! Onward!"

    The inside was dark as expected. Pitch black. When they all made it in, Ponyta gave them a light, her spiral horn emitting a soft glow that just barely touched the walls. With her in the center, Impidimp and Ado took the vanguard, while Reyna stayed a half step back from Ponyta. There was no need for such a formation, but Ado wanted to be the first in the fray if any battles happened.

    Before long, they reached what they suspected was the end of the humans' operation. However, tracks along the ground and a few smaller holes in the walls hinted that there was something further in. There was a hole that would fit everyone, and they all climbed in one by one with Ado taking the lead.

    Ponyta increased the light when she crossed over, and the group found themselves in a massive cavern system evidently made by the Pokemon that lived here. The Pancham shook like a child high on caffeine and was growing more excited by the second. "It's like a dungeon!" Her joy was infectious, getting everyone pumped up for whatever awaited within. A tunnel was selected, and off they went.

    "Hey!" someone shouted after a few minutes of walking. It was a trio of Diglett, supposedly come to check the unfamiliar footsteps.

    "You don't belong here," the second added. "Whaddya guys want?"

    "You better not be here to make noise like the humans!"

    "We're not gonna!" Ado responded, getting worked up. But Impidimp stopped her and moved forward.

    "My friends and I are here in search of something. We only wish to find it and be on our way."

    "There's nothing to find here," the third Diglett answered.

    "You should leave before something bad happens."

    "The only bad thing that's gonna happen is us kickin' your butts!"

    "You wanna go, pipsqueak?!" the second Diglett replied, successfully provoked and ignoring the fact that Ado was quite a bit bigger than it.

    Reyna put a flipper on Ado's shoulder to keep her from making any rash decisions. "Cool it, musclehead."

    With her calming down their comrade, Impidimp tried to pacify the Diglett. "My friends and I are here peaceably. Would you let us pass, please? We won't cause you trouble."

    "Hmph... You're lucky I'm a reasonable guy."

    "They're not all willing to talk like us. Don't say we didn't warn you."

    Once the Diglett were gone, everyone started moving and Ado spoke up again. "Guys, why'd ya stop me? I coulda taken 'em with my eyes closed."

    "Patience, friend. Did you hear them? There are Pokemon here who are more inclined to fight than speak. While I would prefer to talk my way through, it seems there will be unavoidable battles ahead here. I imagine those would be wonderful opponents."

    "'Kay, now you're speakin' my language. Let's go find some!" Ado charged on ahead, getting everyone into a brief scuffle with some angry Geodude. Reyna was the one to finish them off with a few well-placed Bubble Beams, and took up the head of the pack with Ado. Impidimp thus used the opportunity as rearguard to pick up some spikier-looking stones for his satchel.

    "Reyna!"

    "Eat this!"

    There were a great many rock, ground and fighting type Pokemon found in these caves, making for a much better training ground than they'd first expected. For the Piplup especially, an abundance of targets weak to her attacks made it much easier for her to experiment with her technique, while Ponyta developed the psychic powers to suspend lighter targets.

    At another point in their adventure, Impidimp was snatched up in the grip of a Hariyama. "Ah, so you think you've caught me—ngh—have you? Boy, that's tight. Unfortunately for you, the only thing you've caught is—ptuey!"

    "These hands!"

    An escape artist for the ages, Impidimp used his skills to switch with Ado just as his spitball blinded the bulky brawler, putting the pint-sized princess of punch in the perfect position to pummel it down a peg.

    Between battles, Ponyta kept everyone healthy with Heal Pulse. Except for Ado, who had learned Drain Punch from a monk-like Meditite and was happy to keep using that for herself.

    "Hold on! I saw something sparkle down this tunnel!" The training excursion came to a halt on the next floor down, when they were reminded of what they were supposed to be looking for. Something reflected the light of Ponyta's horn, drawing in the adventurers and leading them to a wall with glittering precious stones embedded in it.

    Alas, despite each member's efforts, the wall remained undamaged. It was incredibly sturdy, owing to the great digging techniques of the cave's inhabitants.

    "I wonder," Impidimp pondered, "if we could bait an Onix into charging at the wall and breaking it for us."

    "What kind of plan is that?!"

    "Ahaha, I jest, Ponyta, I assure you. Mostly."

    "So you were thinking of doing it!"

    Before he could put his mostly-joke into action, Reyna spoke up with an oddly serious look on her face. "Let me try again. I know I can get it, I can feel it."

    She turned back around and let out a deep breath, her gaze boring into the wall. She muttered under her breath, "She wouldn't want me to give up."

    Seeing her determination, and the very treasure they sought right before them, the rest of the party shared her sentiment, and cleared the space so she had all the room she needed. Her small beak lit up with the best Peck she could muster. Then in her concentration the rest of her began to glow a pulsing blue and white along with it. Her body grew and her beak extended as she leapt into the air, and a high-powered Drill Peck reduced the wall to rubble.

    "That was sick, Reyna!"

    "You evolved!"

    "Huh? I, what?!" Reyna jolted as she looked down to see that she had grown taller, bigger, stronger. Her shock, however, quickly melted away into excitement as she exclaimed, "Ha, finally! Now I can really stick it to that Raboot. And when Haleigh sees me…"

    Focused on congratulating the now-Prinplup, nobody was able to hear the cracking of the ground, nor could they respond in time. The cave floor collapsed beneath them, dropping them further down.

    "Ugh, my back..."

    "Sorry..."

    "Rather dark now... Ponyta, are you alright?"

    "Yeah. Give me a second..."

    After a few grunts and aches from everyone, Ponyta lit her horn anew, giving them a look at their surroundings. A glance up showed them the hole they fell down. It was close enough that the light illuminated it clearly, but too far for Ponyta's budding psychic powers to reach.

    "Looks like we're finding another way out," Reyna noted as she helped collect the loose items into Impidimp's satchel. They weren't going to forget the treasure they worked for, naturally. There was a small vein's worth of rare stones in fact, which were likely freed by the wall's collapse.

    Around them were yet more tunnels with slightly darker walls than above. Clearing their heads, they picked a path and headed in, finding more odd-looking stones and gems that they excavated until Impidimp's sack was stuffed full. Hopefully they would find someone who could give them directions.

    "Ah, sure!" It didn't take long. "Now keep up with me, it's a li'l complicated. See ye go left past this bend, then a left, right, right, bring it around town, go straight until the third intersection then take another right. If you see a Kecleon, ye've gone too far."

    It wasn't very helpful.

    After their, uh... guide, left them to their own devices, Ado asked, "Did any of that make sense to you guys?"

    Needless to say, none of them did. Even so, they needed to find a way out, so they took the first left and tried to follow the directions they got.

    "Why are they so angry?!"

    The third turn in, the group found a cave so vast they couldn't see the walls. By the time they reached the center, hundreds of eyes were on them. Ponyta's light had woken them up, and after a misstep that resulted in a noisy clattering of pebbles, they incited the rage of the monster house.

    "I think we forgot to bring it around town!"

    "I've got an idea! Just keep running!" Impidimp frantically shoved his hand in his bag, knowing he grabbed what he needed when he felt a prickly pain in his palm. He leapt into a spin, flinging a handful of spiky rocks at the pursuers. The first few stepped and slid on them, reeling in pain and tumbling over, but everything behind them trampled the victims and sped up as if looking for revenge.

    "Iiiimp, you just made them angrier!"

    "How violent! We may have to pick up the pace!"

    The foursome slid into the next turn, and Ponyta's horn flashed as she lowered her head. "Leave it to me!" Soon her entire body began glowing, lighting up the cavern and blinding the angry mob before they could close in. When the light went out, it was Rapidash in her place. She told her companions to climb on, and with a new burst of speed they made their getaway.

    They only managed to find rest some minutes later, ensuring the natives lost track of them by scrambling through the tunnels.

    For better or worse, they did come across an indicator of where they were, when they remembered the nonsensical directions they received earlier.

    "Welcome to the Kecleon Shop! 𝅘𝅥𝅮 How can I help you? 𝅘𝅥𝅮"

    "We went too far."

    "What? Where are you going? Hey! You're not even going to look at my wares?!"

    After a bit of backtracking, the exhausted gang spotted a very faint source of light that wasn't from Rapidash. They double-checked just to make sure, then cheered as the light grew ever so slightly as they followed it around the corner. However, the noise was rather ill-advised.

    "There you are! Guys, I found 'em!"

    "Not again!" They immediately set off, but the chase was already on, and the chasers were starting to close the gap.

    "Rapidash, they're gaining on us!"

    "I'm going as fast as I can!"

    Taking another turn meant slowing down. Carrying three on her back wasn't helping. And as she ran, the terrain started to grow uneven. But there was a light at the end of the long tunnel ahead. Literally.

    They wouldn't make it in time.

    "I'll hold them off."

    "Imp, no! They'll crush you!"

    "I got you all into this mess! It's my responsibility to get you out!"

    Impidimp handed Reyna his satchel, courage welling up in his chest as he prepared himself to jump. He knew what he had to do.

    "Now go." The characteristic light of evolution crawled over his body. Before it faded, he faced their pursuers, gave his comrades a thumbs up, and hopped off Rapidash's back. "Go!"

    "Imp!"

    "He's a goner, Reyna! I'm not losing you too!" Rapidash kept the other two on her back with her powers, and as the Prinplup closed her eyes and clutched the satchel's strap in her flippers, Rapidash and Ado turned their eyes toward the exit.

    Moments later...

    "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!"

    Impidimp—now Morgrem—flew by his party at mach speed. He made it clear through the exit and skidded painfully along the dirt outside, then bounced head-first off a rock and rolled to a stop.

    However, he did what he set out to do, giving the others an opening to make it out themselves. Yet they were still being chased down, and it was only a matter of time before a swarm of angry Pokemon came flying out.

    "I got this," Ado declared as she now jumped to the ground at the cave entrance. Just like the others, Ado too felt her evolution coming on. And brandishing her fists with a mighty roar, the Pangoro needed only a single punch to collapse the cavern with the natives trapped inside.

    Ado fell flat on her back, staring at the sky. She didn't want to move, but she rolled her head to look back at the team. Rapidash and Reyna were freaking out over Morgrem.

    Trainers were starting to check out the commotion they'd caused. She looked up at the sky again. It was glowing a fiery orange over Route 8 as the sun nearly set. The matches must have ended a while ago. Winston and the others' trainers had to have realized they were gone and went searching. His face was in the small crowd.

    Reyna and Rapidash recognized their trainers too, although it wasn't clear whether the trainers recognized them anymore.

    She sat up and looked at her team again. "Morgrem, you alive?!" she called out.

    Face down in the dirt, she couldn't see his expression. But his arm twitched. His hand balled into a fist, and he stuck his thumb up.

    Flawless victory.
     

    Foxrally

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/omi0jS3.gif[/img]
  • 2,791
    Posts
    11
    Years
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Simon Pearburgh
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Vivillon ♀ Draining Kiss | Stun Spore | String Shot | Poison Powder | Gust | Powder Friend Guard
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Mothim ♂ Protect | Hidden Power (water) | Electroweb | Quiver Dance | Air Slash | Confusion Compound Eyes
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Ross ♂ Megahorn | Arm Thrust | Rock Blast | Vacuum Wave | Calm Mind | Counter Guts

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Shedinja Shadow Claw | Confuse Ray | Spite | Mud-Slap | Endure | Phantom Force Wonder Guard
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Snom ♀ Icy Wind | Mirror Coat | Struggle Bug | Icicle Spear | Fairy Wind Ice Scales Nevermeltice (held)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Princess ♀ Electroweb | Sticky Web | Fury Cutter | Beat Up | Giga Drain | Thunder Wave Swarm Metal Flower Crown (held)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Larvesta ♂ Trailblaze | String Shot | Ember | Morning Sun | Flame Wheel | Leech Life Flame Body Heat Rock (held)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Anorith ♂ Dig | Water Gun | Ancient Power | Aqua Jet | Rapid Spin | X-Scissor Swift Swim

    Spoiler: Inventory
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    ATC
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Nevermeltice
    *
    held by Snom

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Heat Rock
    *
    held by Larvesta

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Metal Flower Crown
    *
    held by Princess

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Luxury Ball
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Bug Net
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Wishing Star
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    A TON of cinnamon buns
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Spewpa Plushie
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Fanart of Simon
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Heracross Knight Comics
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Piers & Marnie Album
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Mew Book
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Badges: 5
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Grass badge
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Water badge
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Fire badge
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Ghost badge
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Psychic badge
    Spoiler: Inventory

    Spoiler: Memories
    Spoiler: Act 1

    Spoiler: Act 2

    Spoiler: Act 3

    Route 8

    "Let's try that one again, gang!" Simon clapped his hands as he finished spraying the last of his Pokemon with a hyper potion. "Ross, go easier with the Rock Blasts this time."

    The team had been practising rock-dodging for nearly an hour now after their regular afternoon sparring, and Simon had quickly realized how much harder challenging Gordie would be compared to Melony. Most of the bugs, for all their flying mobility (through wings or otherwise) hadn't been able to avoid Ross' attacks in time, and neither had the other two crawling critters. He figured practice made perfect though, and if the endurance training they'd gone through for the past month paid off, he could actually stand a chance against two of the most offence-based leaders in the league.

    The past month had almost gone by too fast - his third visit to the wild area had been, relative to the previous two, surprisingly uneventful (and more importantly, free of life-endangering scenarios). He'd seen countless breathtaking views and had a few close calls with wild Pokemon, but overall, he'd been able to focus on training for the gyms ahead, teach his Pokemon new moves, and work on getting Ross to know the team better.

    The older mon acted almost like a mentor to them, and Simon had overheard him many times telling stories of his exploits in the very wild area they were walking in (he had a feeling some were exaggerated, not unlike his dad's stories). However, even in the Pokemon's old age, Simon had quickly realized Ross was the strongest on the team by far. Though the last thing he wanted to do was use him as a crutch like Scolipede - so he'd been employing the bug as a sparring partner for the bugs instead. Ross' style was a little… harsh, considering his background, but it worked nonetheless.

    The bugs lined up again and Ross grumbled out something about Simon's training being too soft. Simon ignored the comment but clapped his hands together as the training started up again. Vivillon, Mothim and Shedinja deftly danced in the air to avoid the attacks, as Larvesta, Anorith and Princess used their dashes and agility to sidestep the blasts at the last second. However, Snom, the least mobile of the group, had a different strategy. She met each rock blast head-on, countering the attacks with her own and smashing them before they could reach her. Icicle spears flew at Ross faster than he could counter, and the older bug soon found himself defending more than he was attacking.

    Simon noticed this and clapped his hands again. "Snom, we're doing defensive training!" he called out, but couldn't help smirk at seeing Ross meet his match. The ice-type hissed and stopped her barrage, clearly unhappy that she was being punished for being too efficient.

    After some more sparring, the sun was setting and the team sat down to eat dinner, bundled around a small campfire. Simon passed around a few cinnamon buns - or rather, watched as Vivillon and Mothim swooped in to grab the same one and tore it in half. He chucked another half into Shedinja's shell and handed Princess the other. He was about to do the same with Larvesta and Snom, but the latter said she wasn't hungry, and instead skittered off to chew on some of frost laying around the campsite. Simon shrugged and gave the whole bun to Larvesta instead; realizing the fire-type had grown so much since Turffield that it was getting hard to keep him in his coat pocket. Anorith received another one with the wrapper still on (he apparently liked it that way) as Ross and Simon took the last two.

    "Damn, we'll have to restock in Circhester." Simon looked into his bag dejectedly. As he was about to take a bite of his cinnamon bun, Ross clamped a hand on his shoulder and he froze. They were being watched, he said.

    Expecting the worst, Simon furrowed his brow and whirled around in the direction the Heracross pointed out, ready to call out an attack. All he could see were a few trees and boulders. His mind raced with thoughts of potential assailants; had Blackspear found him? Was it another brainwashed or red shadow Pokemon ambushing them?

    "Whoever you are, I'm ready for you!" he called out. "It's no use trying to hide!"

    A tense silence hung in the air before an invisible barrier began to shimmer in front of the trees, and two figures, one of a human and a Pokemon, appeared into view. Simon's expression shifted from anger to surprise as he was suddenly face to face with Aurora.

    After a brief silence, the girl looked at him then at Ross. "...I'm surprised you noticed me."

    Simon's expression returned to a scowl. "You've got some nerve showing your face here." he snapped. His Pokemon were all at the ready, eyeing the two intruders with caution.

    "I don't have much time. I just want to talk." Aurora said, putting her hands up and stepping forward. She pressed a button on her belt and recalled her Elgyem to its ball.

    "Talk?" Simon scoffed. "The only talking you've ever done was to manipulate me! Why would I listen to you now?"

    "I never meant for anything this bad to happen," Aurora responded, "I- I never wanted to-"

    "To what? Let Blackspear use me?" Simon snapped back. "Lead me to my own demise? Steal my Pokemon? Put my whole team in danger?"

    "You don't know-"

    "Oh trust me, I know enough! Honestly, I don't know how you sleep at night, knowing what these people do! Is some uptight job that important to you?!"

    "I have my own reasons-"

    "Yeah, sure you do! I could have died back then! Someone actually DID- Whatever, I don't want to hear anything you have to say. Leave before-"

    "WHO DO YOU THINK SAVED YOU THAT NIGHT?!" Aurora suddenly shouted, catching Simon off-guard. The young woman's fists were balled up and her breathing was strained, unlike anything he'd ever seen her. She spoke again, this time in a lower voice, "Who do you think kept shoving you out of the way when that thing was attacking?"

    Simon said nothing at first, as he recalled the horrific events of the Wild Area that day. He'd found himself dodging each attack from the Pinsir in just the nick of time… but he also remembered what had happened afterwards.

    "So it was your Elgyem." he responded. "And it's also how you stole Scolipede from me that night…"

    "I did that to protect you as well!" Aurora interjected. "Do you think you'd be alive right now if Blackspear thought you'd stolen their property?!"

    Simon didn't respond, but he was listening.

    Aurora sighed. "Look, I know you won't believe me… but I really didn't know what Blackspear was going to do with you. I tried to warn you on our first day. I… I didn't want them turning you into the same person I became."

    Simon turned away from Aurora and made a motion to call his Pokemon off. He didn't say anything.

    "...and for what it's worth…" Aurora continued, her voice straining. "...I'm sorry."

    There was again no response from the boy, as Simon's head wrestled with the emotions of what he'd just found out. After a little while, he spoke up. "...So why did you come here?"

    Aurora took a seat across from him. "It's about Blackspear. Well… about their actual operation." she said. "They're scrambling to make everything work right now. Their experiments keep failing, and the board is getting more impatient. They're thinking of kicking Zelkova out."

    "Okay, and what does that mean?" Simon asked, feeling his anger rise at the mention of that name.

    "It means they're going to ramp up testing, which means more red shadow Pokemon. Some of them might be stronger than that Pinsir." Aurora looked at him. "As an employee of Blackspear, I can't do much to stop them… but you can. You've fought more of them than any spineless executive in that organisation has."

    Simon was a little surprised at the contempt in her voice as she said that, but was more surprised she was speaking about this in the first place. "Why are you telling me all of this?" he asked, looking back at her.

    There was a moment of hesitation on the girl's face. "I… I want to see Blackspear get what they deserve… but I can't leave. Do you… remember my family?"

    Simon nodded, his eyes instinctively glancing at Anorith.

    "Blackspear… is holding them ransom. My mum is a researcher working for them, and they've got eyes on Victor too. They told me if I ever stepped out of line, they'd…" Aurora stopped as her stoic demeanour cracked and her eyes closed. She let out a shaky breath, a single tear dropping to the ground as she composed herself. "It's why I have to keep working for them."

    Simon contemplated her words in silence. He hadn't forgiven her yet, but if innocents like Aurora's family were concerned, there were likely more involved. First the rangers, then the league- every day, Blackspear's sphere of control was growing.

    "...I'll help." he said.

    "...thank you." Aurora let a sigh of relief. "And in return, I promise I'll help get your Pokémon back from Zelkova."

    "This isn't about Zelkova." Simon replied. "It's not about revenge or payback. It's about making sure Blackspear can never hurt anyone ever again."

    Aurora looked him in the eyes and nodded. She got up and reached into her pocket, pulling out an old flip phone. "I can't stay long. Last time I tried to contact you in Stow-On-Side they nearly caught me, so we can use this instead."

    Simon took the phone and turned it over, "Can this thing even power on? Looks ancient."

    "It's old enough to be untraceable on Blackspear systems. I'll reach out to you when I can." The girl unclipped her Pokeball as she released her Elgyem again. "...thanks again, Simon."

    Then, in a blip, she was gone.

    Simon's team looked at him as he stared at the phone in his hand, and Ross buzzed out a question.

    "...it's a long story, mate."

     
    Last edited:
  • 25,614
    Posts
    12
    Years
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]


    .
    STAGE 18 - CIRCHESTER

    Spoiler:
    Winter is coming to an end as the remaining gym challengers converge upon the historic city of Circhester, but you would never know it. Surrounded by mountains and perpetually carpeted in snow and ice, the city is locked in an isolated ice age by its mountainous climate. Regal stone buildings and cobbled streets give Circhester a feeling like it belongs to a time gone by, and the city tends to have a sleepy aura. But all that is forgotten at this time of the year as, despite the cold, Circhester comes alive for the arriving league hopefuls.

    There is much for the Wedgehurst graduates to see and do in Circhester. Businesses look to capitalize on their fame, many ice-types begging to be battled and captured call the city home, and trainers are eager to test their mettle against would-be-champions. Those who are more interested in landmarks than hustle and bustle can visit the city's hot springs like the legendary Hero's Bath, check in at the famed Hotel Ionia or visit the stunning central plaza in the south of the city.

    Of course, the real draw to the city is the grand gym stadium in its north where the heat of battle awaits. What future do these frigid walls hold for our heroes?

    WILD POKÉMON AVAILABLE THIS STAGE
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]


    Pokémon available to those on Mission 1:

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]


    Pokémon available to those on Mission 2:

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]


    Pokémon available to those on Mission 3:

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]




    .
    GYM LEADERS:


    Important Note:
    For this stage, as well as any following stages with two gym leaders, you will have the option to take on both gym leaders at once by teaming up with another player. The same rules as a solo battle apply and both gym leaders have the normal amount of Pokemon. You can also take on the gym mission with the other player. You cannot take on both gym leaders at once with a single character.

    Gym Mission:
    Combining both its rock and ice themes, this stadium's mission involves getting through a dizzying maze obstructed by a sandy snowstorm. While the ground appears flat at first glance, it is littered with pitfalls, quicksand and powder snow, with gym trainers lying in wait at the bottom for battle. Challengers must take one Pokemon and navigate through the maze without getting knocked out by any of the obstacles or gym trainers.

    Battle!
    Much like the gym mission preceding it, the Circhester arena is equally as treacherous to navigate, though it is far from flat ground. Instead, large spikes and pillars of ice and stone jutting out of the ground cover most of the battlefield, creating a rough terrain that can hamper less agile Pokemon, and discourages regular switching-out as the floor creates an entry hazard for attackers. Using the unique environment is key to victory here, as any wrong move can land a trainer between a rock (literally) and a hard place.

    [OPEN][GYM] ★1:
    The first gym leader at the Circhester stadium is Melony, a veteran of the league who has consistently maintained her status as one of the stronger leaders in the challenge. She is a strict and stoic ice-type battler with a hint of playfulness to her. As such the gym trainers who have been resilient enough to go through her coaching are extremely loyal and powerful battlers. She has conceded a few times that she would like to find a successor, especially after the infamous battle with her son led to the gym's type being split.

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Mastering the fragile ice-type has made Melony an extremely resourceful battler who wastes no time taking down her opponents before they can react to her strategy. Her Darmanitan, known as the "freezer burner", rushes down opponents with its deadly combination of Belly Drum and Zen Mode, while her Eiscue uses Hail and strong coverage to power through blows and refresh its defences when hit. Her ace, Lapras, is ultimately a test of trainers' efficiency: with a combo of Perish Song and Sing, the battle becomes a time trial which only the strongest can get through.

    Melony's Pokémon:


    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Hydro Pump | Ice Beam | Ancient Power
    Psychic | Sing | Perish Song
    Ability: Hydration

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Icicle Crash | Freeze-Dry | Belly Drum
    Fire Punch | Brick Break | Bulldoze
    Ability: Zen Mode

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Blizzard | Aurora Veil | Hail
    Zen Headbutt | Surf | Mist
    Ability: Ice Face

    [OPEN][GYM] ★2:
    The younger of the Circhester gym leaders is Gordie, a rock-type specialist and Melony's son. He rose to stardom during his own run of the gym challenge as a teen, blitzing through the competition and even participating in the final tournament. His talent as a trainer, as well as his mother's insistence to make him her successor, landed him a role as a gym leader - but against his mother's wishes, Gordie remained a rock-type specialist, leading to a destructive battle that split the gym's types. He is a flashy and sometimes stubborn trainer, but will do anything for his eager fans.

    Also, he can pull off a pretty sick backflip.

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Despite his differences with his mother, Gordie has inherited her ruthless battling style, and strikes down opponents with equal speed and efficiency. His ace, Coalossal, is usually the first to be sent out, charging its ability up with its own Scald and smashing through its enemies like an unstoppable freight train. In scenarios that call for more strategy, Shuckle is used to control the battlefield and weaken his opponents, while Tyranitar is his backup for strong type coverage.

    Gordie's Pokémon:

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Heat Crash | Tar Shot | Stone Edge
    Flamethrower | Scald | Sandstorm
    Ability: Steam Engine

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Crunch | Earthquake | Smack Down
    Avalanche | Aerial Ace | Thunder Punch
    Ability: Sand Stream

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Protect | Sticky Web | Rock Slide
    Power Split | Toxic | Body Slam
    Ability: Contrary



    [OPEN][CATCH CHANCE!] Mission 1:
    A large group of flying-type flocks have decided to rest at Circhester's warm springs while travelling for the winter. Many of these Pokemon happen to come from other regions, too. Tourists are beginning to complain about the noise and bird poop though, so it wouldn't hurt to thin them out and scare them off.
    Reward: Special feather of your choice (Health, Muscle, Resist, Genius, Clever or Swift)

    [CATCH CHANCE!] Mission 2:
    An unfortunate Lickitung seems to have been the victim of a cruel prank (or a lapse judgement) - its tongue has been frozen to a pole! The poor Pokemon has been stuck out there for hours and it doesn't look like anyone has noticed it. Will you save the day in just the 'lick' of time?
    Reward: Sweet of your choice OR Leftovers

    [CATCH CHANCE!] Mission 3:
    The cold waters of the north bring with them many species of ocean-dwelling ice types, as well as several hardy water-types. One such Pokemon, exceedingly rare in regions outside of Alola, has been spotted in town, and appears to be lost. The local rangers would reward anyone who helps find and rehome this Pokemon.
    Reward: TR Liquidation

    [OPEN] Mission 4:
    Steamdrift way, the path connecting Circhester to Route 8, is home to many ice-types as well as some wandering Pokemon from the adjoining environment. This year, the winter temperatures have begun to warm up earlier than normal, and these rock-types have been encroaching on key spawning areas often frequented by ice-types. Local environment groups have asked trainers to help ward off these invasive Pokemon.
    Reward: TR Ice Spinner

    Mission 5:
    The historic Circhester Hotel Ionia has been the target of food raids by some wild Pokemon for the past few weeks, just ahead of a world-famous hotel critic arriving in town. They need help getting rid of the issue lest they lose their coveted five-star rating.
    Reward: Amulet Coin + Free stay at Hotel Ionia

    [OPEN] Mission 6:
    Now beyond the halfway point, a solid 70% or so of trainers have dropped out of the gym competition. A news crew is doing interviews with standout trainers, and offering a little incentive for those who battle for the cameras.
    Reward: TM Protect

    [MULTI] Mission 7:
    The two sides of the Circhester gym, Ice and Rock, are as at odds with each other as their leaders, and they want to settle their dispute with the challengers themselves. A few of the gym trainers have set up a three-way competition: rock versus ice versus the challenger. Whoever knocks out the challenger first wins. In exchange for your participation in this strange game, the winner will reward you with a powerful TR.
    Reward: Any Ice or Rock TR with Power 60-90

    Mission 8:
    "Bob's Your Uncle", a local fast food restaurant, is hiring part-time workers for the busy gym challenge season. While not as exciting as the battle cafes, you'll be able to enjoy some relaxing minimum-wage work in the food service industry.
    Reward: Full Incense (a little greasy)


     

    Orx of Twinleaf

    Branch into Psyche
  • 273
    Posts
    8
    Years
    Team:
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Rij
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Henj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pelj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Kolj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Tonj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Silj
    Tim T
    Rij remembered he used to dislike being in a ball. It was a strange feeling, a torpid almostness, but suspended in this way Rij found it was easier to remember her. Her name was Versusan Kaee. Versusan Kaee preferred to be called Versusan.

    She was Rij's mother. She had been there when he had hatched. She was Rij's sister. She had been there as he had grown, and he had been there as she had grown. She was Rij's friend. Her name was Versusan.

    It was so hard to remember. There was always more happening, to pay attention to, and it made Rij's brain throb to cope with it. Rij would feel a pressure behind his eyes when new things approached him, because he was trying to remember, and these new things were so new. They were things from a different world, a world where she wasn't there. Her name was Versusan.

    Rij remembered the old things from her world. Rij remembered how to run and jump under the water, how to navigate the roughest terrain, how to do all the things she had taught him. She was Rij's teacher. Her name was Versusan.

    These things Rij remembered, they came automatically. It was easy to make his body walk, or forage, or jump, because these were things that had been trained into him. Rij's body could do these things without his attention, and that meant it was easier for Rij to remember.

    Easier, but not easy. Trainer had started new exercises, and fielded Rij in combat, and these new things demanded much of Rij's attention. Rij would feel burning between his ears sometimes, as he tried to remember her, but Trainer directed Rij to new things. Her name was Versusan. Trainer's name was Timereaux Nigel Thaumatoff. Versusan and Timereaux Nigel Thaumatoff were friends. Timereaux Nigel Thaumatoff preferred to be called Tim.

    Trainer Tim was from Faraway, he didn't come from Homeplace like Versusan and Rij did. Faraway was like Homeplace, but not like Homeplace. Rij remembered the adventures he and Versusan had had there, on Versusan's Special Secret Mission. When they had finished there, they had come back to Homeplace, and Trainer Tim had followed them.

    Rij had at first been indifferent towards Trainer Tim, but Versusan liked him, so Rij came to like him too. Trainer Tim wasn't like Versusan. He was soft, and loud, and silly. He was like a youngling, and that made sense, because he was younger than Versusan and Rij. Rij did not feel Trainer Tim was a friend. Trainer Tim was more like a brother. She was a friend. Her name was Versusan.

    Rij was aware of action. Beyond the ball, the world was a torpid almostness, blurry and strange, like things that Rij couldn't remember, timeless like a dream. Trainer Tim and Blind One were navigating right now, in some sort of windy maze. Trainer Tim knew as Rij knew that Blind One could see the best of any of them, and so was the best to navigate the windy maze. Rij ignored it as inconsequential. It was a distraction that made it harder to remember her. Her name was Versusan.

    She was his friend and his family, but now they were his fellows. Besides Trainer Tim, there were five others. Big One had been the first to join them, and Rij found his fancy words comforting, even if Rij could not try to understand them for fear of forgetting. Small One had come not long after, and she was energetic like Versusan was. After that had come Blind One—the strange one that Trainer Tim was with currently—and Familiar One, who Rij could only barely remember. Finally had been Mean One, who Rij had not bothered to learn more about.

    These fellows were interesting company and Rij appreciated that they were there to mind Trainer Tim, but Rij could not afford them too much attention. Rij had to remember her. Her name was Versusan.

    There was combat beyond the ball. Trainer Tim and Blind One had reversed an ambush, there had been someone else hiding that Blind One had seen and snuck up on. Combat was interesting to Rij. When Rij had been with her, combat was something largely avoided. She was a Ranger, and had special rules for how to handle the other-mons. With Trainer Tim, combat was frequent. To do it though made Rij's head scream down his neck. It was so hard to pay attention to combat when he had to remember. But Trainer Tim's voice guided him, and Rij found release. When Rij's mind spasmed and shrieked, Trainer Tim's voice guided Rij's horn to send that apoplexy into a target, and it felt good.

    It felt good to feel his blows hit home. It felt good to feel the blows made against him. It felt good to fight, because even when Rij's head felt bad he could find release, and that release felt good. Even if Rij felt things leave his mind in combat, they always returned after. It was as if Trainer Tim remembered for Rij when Rij fought for Trainer Tim.

    Trainer Tim was a human, like Versusan was. Humans had an easier time with remembering and attending at once. Rij was a Rhyhorn. It was hard for Rhyhorns to do this. Big One was a Stonjourner. Stonjourners were even better than humans and Rhyhorns both at remembering. Remembering was something that some people were better at than others. Rij would have let himself be smaller than Small One if it meant he could remember better. But it was not so, and Rij had to make special efforts to remember her. Her name was Versusan.

    Beyond the ball, Trainer Tim was talking to some other human now. It would shortly be time for combat.

    Rij remembered her. He remembered watching her grow. He remembered being raised by her. He remembered learning together in the field. He remembered how she spoke about another human they'd met while they were in Faraway, the soft, loud youngling in the bright clothes. He remembered when she fell. He remembered when she didn't get back up.

    Her name had been Versusan.

    A lurch of movement, and the flash of reality appearing again. Rij touched down with one, two, three, four legs against ground, jagged ground, it bit him as he came down, there was noise, there were pillars and rises, there was a large thing over there, large black biped, Rij's head throbbed, drones camera drones human noises lights combat remember Rij had to remember she had been his friend she was there her namehernamehername—

    "Let's run them ragged, Rhyhorn!"

    He was Rij's Trainer.

    His name was Tim.

    Rij roared.
     

    Turnip

    Magnificent Turnip
  • 693
    Posts
    12
    Years
    Catherine Is This Post's Villain I'm Pretty Sure But She's Not In It Though In Case That Made You Think She Was
    Featuring Xan and Sphinx and nobody else significantly



    "Y- but Catherine was on Valentine's stream!"

    "She... yeah? Good for her. Should I care what two entirely different people are doing with their spare time?"

    Xan was in pain on a bench. They didn't remember this person's name.

    "Well - because she's been breaking out of her shell! That's why you should care. And because - then, like, you could get out of yours, too, you know, get out there and...!"

    The psychic gagged, "What gives you the impression that there's a shell?"

    "Come on," day-ruiner laughed. "You don't want to go on the podcast-" Xan was not going to waste several hours of their life on an unknown stranger's podcast. "- you've been uncomfortable the whole time, you told me to piss off as like the third thing you said to me-" It was the fourth. It directly followed the third time that a straightforward refusal was ignored. "- it's all classic shell stuff! And that's only counting stuff from me being here and not just the general stuff..."

    "... And is there any chance that what you've mistaken for a shell is just a legitimate dislike of your company?"

    "Phwoof, wooow," Day-ruiner grinned emptily. Might as well just be their name, now. Day-ruiner. Kudos to them for taking it in stride, the psychic supposed, but honestly it would have been preferable if it hadn't been.

    "It's a genuine question." One Xan already knew the answer to.

    "You know, I don't know why, I just... I didn't figure you'd be a dick in person." The stranger's grin stayed, their tone goading. Some kind of ploy they must assume is going to work.

    Okay, they'd play ball. "Didn't figure you'd be a dick in person either, but the revelation is hardly turning my life upside down."

    "Haha- see? That's the exact kind of back and forth we could get going. Come on, it'll be fun - I'll get pizza!"

    Pizza was tempting, but Xan was plenty capable of getting it themselves.

    "You're just going to keep asking, aren't you?" The psychic asked, head tilted. Call it cruel, but they couldn't resist letting a bit of a defeated tone slip in.

    Day-ruiner shrugged, "Guilty."

    "Mmkay. Bye."

    Xan shrugged their backpack on as they stood and promptly left. Day-ruiner called after them, presumably tried calling their bluff with mentions of how Xan was leaving their Pokémon behind, but ultimately the psychic continued. By the time Day-ruiner made to give chase it was too late. Xan was lost to the backstreets, faster on the ice and the slippery, compact slow. Psychics, the trainer mused, must make incredible ice skaters. And roller skaters - any kind of skaters, really. It was true, they were leaving Pokémon behind - but the three were having a grand old time in the park, and could certainly fend for themselves. Ripping them out of that for the sake of escaping an exhausting conversation would make Xan the one who was Day-ruiner, and then they'd have to come up with a new name for Day-ruiner. Eh, it didn't really matter, anyway. They'd loop back around before long.

    Celebrity was finally starting to rear its ugly head, poking its grubby little fingers into Xan's life. People were really using Catherine as an excuse to start making social expectations of them? What a joke. Honestly, how dare Catherine so brazenly become an indirect inconvenience by exercising her freedoms? Unthinkable that she had the sheer audacity to unknowingly cause minor irritation by proxy. This was all her fault. Xan figured they could try to tell her to put an end to it, but that would require initiating a conversation and of course they weren't up for that. On the bright side, if Catherine was supposedly being more active with other Gym Challengers, maybe she'd come to Xan and the situation would basically solve itself! Funny how things worked out that way.

    Ridiculous condemnation of fellow Gym Challengers aside, increased attention from the public was hardly top of the list of new things over the past few weeks. It wasn't even the only thing that involved people following Xan - it was surely down to just one of them by now, but there was definitely still a Froakie following the group. Every now and then Xan would even spot them hanging out on a rooftop, which was a sign that they must be becoming a little more conspicuous considering that beforehand Xan had only heard about the situation from Kass. The Kadabra with their potent psychic senses was especially capable of picking up telltale signs of would-be assailants - though they had been hiding for the most part, supposedly 'would-be assailant' wasn't a correct measure of the Froakie. Kass had apparently had a few run-ins with the bubble-frog Pokémon and had deemed them friendly as a result, but the water-type's reticence to approach properly left Xan irked, even if on many levels they could understand the sentiment.

    Whatever the case, on top of perceptive skill, the act of making friends definitely proved itself to be one of Kass' more potent talents. Not just in regard to the Froakie, either; further adventures in the wild area saw the group picking up a stoic Pawniard who, in Kass' flattered rendition of an explanation thrown telepathically Xan's way, saw the Kadabra and Psyduck as 'golden children' who 'must be protected'. While the trainer wasn't entirely enamoured with the idea of taking on a Pawniard (seemed like a health and safety hazard) they quickly came around to the idea. The sharp blade Pokémon didn't naturally learn anything of a psychic sort, but... eh, in theory a control subject was useful. That, and a Dark-type Pokémon came with its own brand of research purely on the merits of how it interacted with the psychics who were present. Jerry's recent learning of the move Soak also introduced interesting experiments on that front, both for psychics losing their Psychic type and Dark-types losing theirs. On further digging, Xan found that Pawniards were in theory capable of learning Psycho Cut via TM, so perhaps there was something there, too. Anyhow, a short bout of brainstorming named him Chaperone (Chap for short, with a soft 'ch') and now he was in the park with the two 'golden children' officiating a snowball fight.

    Sphinx was still in her ball in Xan's pocket. The Vulpix seemed to have little interest in a snowball fight, even if it could be coupled as training. By all means she had progressed a ways, now possessing no small psychic capability, but group tensions continued to escalate and Xan was clueless on how to assuage them. She certainly hadn't warmed to Chaperone, in spite of the Pawniard appearing so stoic that Xan could hardly imagine him being anything but benign. Perhaps her yapping at Jerry had not been taken too kindly. Even Kass was beginning to express concerns, and Xan knew it was bad news if even the Kadabra was having trouble mediating things. At times they found themselves envying Simon's apparent psychosensory niche; helping to mediate conversations and altercations that they could actually understand could only be infinitely easier. Ah, well. Best they could do was stick to the conditions of the various agreements that had been made and stop things from getting too out of hand.

    Hmm. There was the Froakie again, atop a building on the street corner they found themselves approaching. The Water-Type's gaze was on them for a moment, but soon found something else to be occupied with. Natural curiosity led the psychic's gaze a little as they rounded the corner-

    And found a Lickitung, miserable, its sizeable tongue stuck to a frigid lamppost.

    Nobody else was around bar the Froakie, who didn't seem to be watching and didn't react when Xan momentarily looked up in their direction. Hmm. Guess this was going to be a fair detour, then. The psychic silently swallowed their dread at the possibility that Day-ruiner hadn't stopped trying to track them and cautiously approached the big, pink Pokémon. Formless force removed the Pokédex from their backpack as one hand tugged Sphinx's ball free of Xan's pocket and released the Fire-Type at their side. She blinked and began taking in her new surroundings properly, a little surprised.

    "Figured you might want in on what's happening or have some kind of valuable input," the trainer explained. "Just grab my attention if you want back in the ball, yeah?"

    Xan didn't know what a Vulpix laughing was supposed to look like, but they had just borne witness to what was going to be their best guess from here on out. The Lickitung didn't look particularly pleased as a result, but it wasn't a significant difference from the state of exhaustion they had been found in and the effort required to complain seemed to be beyond them. Sphinx stomped one paw on the ground in what the human guessed was a gesture expressing her intention to remain. In spite of her general growth in psychic precocity she had yet to get comfortable with outgoing telepathic communication in any meaningful way, preferring gestures or simple yapping without any real hope of being understood.

    "Right. Oh, I realise I should-" the psychic shook their head, lifting both hands in a placating gesture. "-Yeah, hi. Should mention we're here to- I mean, 'here to help' isn't exactly- we're going to help, is what I mean. We just sort of happened to find you here so you're in luck, I suppose."

    The Pokédex was a valuable tool, here. Of course it provided valuable general information, but the most important thing was the lack of information it provided on this just being something that Lickitungs typically did for fun. Safe to assume the Pokémon was actually in trouble, then. The human continued their approach with less hesitation as the Lickitung's expression shifted into something resembling relief. It occurred to Xan that the Pokémon's apparent exhaustion probably meant that chances of acting out were pretty low regardless of any personal feelings about the situation. Sphinx, in no rush, trotted up behind.

    The psychic hummed, "Want an easy, gradual warming, here. No clue how long this has been going on for, could be at risk of some nasty tissue damage or something. Pretty sure that's the idea, not a doctor or anything but-" In theory psychics would make solid paramedics. "-pretty sure you guys aren't doctors either, not that that would necessarily be any fault of yours..." They put a hand to the chin of their helmet, steam from their breath filtering out of the bottom. They pointed, "Wind's blowing that way. If you feel like helping, Sphinx, you can get a controlled fire going over there to warm the air coming in. Should rise naturally from the heat, so air could probably use some kinetic assistance getting over here. I'm going to see if I can get some kinesis going to create some warmth via vibration and try to keep the blood flowing. Seems like a good idea."

    Sphinx rolled her eyes - a very familiar gesture - and begrudgingly began helping. The Vulpix could easily sit and do nothing or head back to her ball if she really wanted to, but her expression sure did everything in its power to make it seem as though those weren't options. Only minor coaxing was required for the Lickitung to allow a psychic hold of its stuck tongue, and once grip was established Xan quickly fled the discomfort of proximity to lean against a nearby railing, arm outstretched in the lamppost's direction as their psychic power did its work. It wasn't pleasant, but they supposed they could handle the vaguely disgusting sensation of manipulating the surface of a tongue seeing as the Lickitung was surely much worse for wear.

    About a minute and a half passed before the Vulpix voiced a complaint.

    "Hm?" Xan turned their head a little, not fully facing the Fire-type. "Do you want back in the ball?"

    Sphinx stomped one paw again. She wanted to stay out, so long as Xan had interpreted that gesture correctly the first time.

    "Mmkay, well, what is it then?"

    More yaps from the Vulpix in response. Annoyance was just about all the human could get from that.

    "I don't know what that means," They shrugged. "Kass isn't here to translate, remember? Going to have to be patient with me, I guess. I could try throwing out a few-"

    Sphinx rolled her eyes and launched a Flamethrower at the Lickitung's tongue. Xan flinched and recoiled, their body jerking away from the railing and their psychic hold dropping. The flaming torrent met the lamppost, frost melting and becoming steam in an instant - then Xan found the ball in their pocket and the flames stopped, Sphinx sucked up in red light. Lickitung wailed in pain and fell backward, freed from the lamppost but decidedly not all the better for it.

    "That," Xan raised the ball to their head and hissed, psychic influence wrestling open their backpack and rifling through its contents. "Was astronomically fucking stupid." They caught up to the Lickitung, whose beginning of a delirious attempt to crawl away quickly halted as the human appeared with a spray bottle at their side. "I've given you several chances, plenty of warning, we do not condone a fucking-" The psychic cut themselves off, realising that cussing out a Pokéball probably wasn't a great model of bedside manner. The levitating potion found their hand and they forced themselves to look at the tongue as they got spritzing.

    Great. They didn't have a Burn Heal. They had a Full Heal for emergencies but... fuck, that was expensive. Guess they were going to have to make some extra purchases in Chirchester. Screw it, give the Lickitung an Oran Berry for their troubles, too. At least they had plenty of those.

    "Hey, don't sleep-" a tiny wave of kinetic force jogged the Pokémon as Xan caught their eyes drooping. If it wasn't the actual move Rest then it might not be a good idea. "Sorry about this. Here, berry if you're feeling up to it."

    Thank goodness psychokinesis let them pass things over without having to touch them. A safe distance from any slobber, the human watched as the Licking Pokémon demonstrated that their signature body part was indeed functioning perfectly well after some medical attention. That was a relief, at least. The Oran Berry was gobbled up and, in an odd (and gross) sort of trade, something half-chewed was presented in return. Xan thanked their education for informing them that Leftovers existed, as otherwise they would have surely declined the generous offer.

    The thought occurred to them that they could have just called the rangers. The psychic and their team had been dealing with problems out in the wild so much recently that organised municipal help had almost been forgotten as an option. Could have saved them a good few hundred in the bank if it had come to mind, too. Hm... best call them now, anyway. The Lickitung could walk but they still looked pretty weak, and Xan didn't much feel like babysitting an exhausted, likely wild Pokémon who was probably scared of them to a degree.

    Minutes passed. Rangers were called, given street names, arrived, took things off Xan's hands. Irritated, robbed of a not insignificant portion of their early afternoon and partially exhausted themselves, the psychic looped back around to the park in the... main square? It was kind of circular but nobody called anything like that a main circle. Sphinx was due a pretty significant talking to after that showing - by all means, given the terms of their agreement, it should be the final straw - but out and about was hardly the place for that. It could wait until there wasn't so much going on-

    Why was this Mime Jr. wanting to shake their hand?

    "Hi Kass, Jerry, Chap," Xan greeted their research partners tiredly. "What's the- what is this? I-" They threw out lazy psyknokinetic force to bat the Mime Jr.'s hand up and down a bit. They couldn't pay attention to the reaction it caused.

    Kass began explaining what 'this' was, but the telepathic utterances were complex and excitable so the human waved a hand to get the Kadabra to stop.

    "Sorry, I'm, er, too much on the brain right now. Let's sit down a second and go through this slowly so we can- Arceus, what-?" And now their phone was buzzing in their inside pocket. Xan must have done something or other and now today was taking it personally. A hand snaked inside their coat to fish out the offending device. "Sorry guys. Hate existing right now, give me a second."

    Let's see... oh. It was Simon... who... apparently had something pretty big to note. By all means good news, but for now it was just one more thing to divide their attention. Unless, perhaps, they could coerce their fellow Gym Challenger into sorting out the issue of lunch...

    "Right, we've got to-" They cut themselves off, glancing down at the Mime Jr. who didn't seem to have made any indication of leaving. "... Let's walk and talk."
     

    Songbird

    Tonight, the marigolds bloom for her.
  • 554
    Posts
    10
    Years
    • Seen Apr 11, 2024
    Today, Chloe was doing something that her friends would consider very out of character for her: she was searching for a potential new member for her battle party.

    Froslass and Luxio have served her well from when she first arrived in Galar. She hadn't gone out to actively catch anything since then. She was more engrossed in the tourism until she fell upward into the gym challenge. She thought the two of them, trusty as they were, needed some real support now if she was going to try and stay in.

    Milcery had recently evolved into an Alcremie, sorrowful of no longer being able to sit on Chloe's shoulder. However, though she had some defensive ability, she was far from battle-ready.

    As for Morgrem, who seemed to insist his name was "Fake Trick"... Well, she wasn't planning to ever let him loose in a stadium. Or at all, for that matter. But chances were he would do it himself. She didn't trust him.

    All of this was why she was wandering out north of Circhester. She'd been looking around for a while now, additionally getting some training done in the process.

    As expected of Circhester, there was an abundance of ice types. The more combative ones picked a fight with Froslass in particular, and she was never the sort to turn down a challenge.

    They had come across the likes of Alolan variant Sandshrews, Snoms and Swinubs, all of which she would have been happy to add to her team. However, the wild Pokemon weren't the only competitive ones she had to worry about. Froslass made it abundantly clear that she was the only ice type Chloe needed—and as her long-time partner, Chloe wouldn't disagree.

    Chloe was very pleased with the fruits of her labor when she spotted a small number of Teddiursa playing in the snow. Well-insulated, they were happy with the cold. They were raising their arms and roaring cutely to intimidate each other, as well as grappling with each other and a few friendly Cubchoo doing the same.

    It was so relaxing that she stopped for a while to watch them from afar.

    Now if only I can just lure one away… she schemed. Unfortunately, her idea of baiting one over to her with poffins fell through when an especially large Ursaring came into view to join the children's fun. Nope, nope. Nope nopenopenope.

    Battle-ready it surely was, but there was no taming an angry mama bear. The thought of capturing all of them crossed her mind. Sadly, she didn't have the space in her team, and keeping only the mama and sending the children to storage was just cruel.

    No bears for Chloe. She figured she could rub Luxio's fuzzy ears later to make herself feel better. And so the search continued.

    After a short battle with a passing trainer, she was tempted by a small pack of Furfrou she found. A fluffy Pokemon that practically exists to be groomed and styled was right up her alley, and she always loved seeing how other coordinators trimmed theirs. From her experience, they had solid defenses too.

    But then Luxio looked at her with despair written all over his face and on the verge of tears, as if he was watching his own grooming time disappear right before his eyes.

    Needless to say, Chloe relented again. Her current team took priority. She was going to make Luxio work for that brush, though.

    The sky was starting to turn orange on the second day of her search, and the temperature starting to drop, before the bundled-up bombshell beauty (self-proclaimed) found a target in blue both she and her buddies could battle beside.

    It wasn't an ice type, it had no fur in need of brushing, it was alone, and best of all, it was strong! At least, she thought it was alone. There were no others of its species around.

    Rather, there were a few followers, from what Chloe could tell. The Pokemon she decided on had just defeated an Abomasnow, and was now sitting atop its back. It threw its head back as the surrounding Snover and a few other species kneeled before it, covering its mouth with one of its flippers and laughing haughtily.

    This Pokemon was a Popplio. And though Chloe wasn't the best at reading a wild Pokemon's emotions, the Abomasnow wasn't unconscious. It was in fact sitting on its hands and knees, instead of lying prone. And upon closer inspection it looked kind of... happy?

    Something about the satisfied grin it was trying and failing to hide filled her with disgust.

    The Snover weren't pleased, of course. They'd just had their leader felled, and Popplio's posse was loudly cheering its victory right next to them. It seemed to have just claimed part of the territory of a frozen lake behind them.

    This Popplio seemed like a bully, maybe playing at being a villain or villainess. But it was strong, she didn't doubt that. Once it was on the team, she was confident that Froslass would show it who was in charge.

    Most importantly, it was adorable.

    Therefore, she needed it.

    Chloe got herself into the right mood, then emerged from her hiding place in the snow banks with Luxio standing guard in front of her.

    "Popplio!" she shouted. "Your rampage ends here!"

    Popplio turned to face the perpetrator with an inquisitive noise. It then barked a reply that Chloe could only assume was along the lines of, <A mere peasant dares oppose my noble power? Very well, I accept your challenge! By the time I am finished with you, you will be begging for permission to grovel at my feet!>

    That probably wasn't what it said. Whatever it said though, it pissed off Luxio, and as he charged up electricity on his own the Popplio followed with another flipper-over-mouth laugh.

    "Spark!" the trainer ordered.

    From Abomasnow's back, Popplio retaliated with a Bubble Beam. Luxio didn't try to avoid it; his body wreathed in arcing lightning, most of the bubbles were popped harmlessly before they could reach him, and he knocked both Popplio and Abomasnow away with a full-body slam.

    <How dare you?!> Popplio cried while it recovered, having been blown all the way to the floating ice on the lake. <I will bury you so deep in snow you will never be found again!>

    <Do your worst!> Luxio responded as Popplio fought back with Icy Wind. He then followed up chuckling, <You call this wind? More like a light breeze!>

    Chloe wasn't sure that was actually what they were saying. She gave another order, and Luxio moved in to use Night Slash, which his opponent smoothly slid away from and back to solid ground as the attack split an ice floe in two.

    Then Chloe called for Psychic Fangs. Energy collected in Luxio's muzzle, and it powered through a damaging bell-like cry that Popplio used.

    It successfully avoided his mouth chomping down by jumping upward, but Luxio's physical teeth weren't the real threat. Psychic Fangs still closed on the airborne sea lion, and a flick of Luxio's head brought it crashing down.

    The Snovers and Popplio's posse were watching, and a mix of cheers and gasps came from the crowd. Some of the followers tried to help their leader, but the Snovers regained their resolve and kept them at bay.

    Popplio trembled as it shoved a flipper onto to the ice, pushing itself up with rage in its gaze. <You... worthless commoner! Forget groveling, I will make you beg for permission to die!>

    <Try me,> Luxio answered confidently.

    Clear floating orbs began to form and circle the Popplio. <It appears I will need to give you a glimpse of my true strength. Be grateful and regret your foolishness in the afterlife!>

    <Bring it on, "Your Highness!">

    It's unlikely that Chloe's internal translation of this exchange was accurate.

    The orbs were set ablaze and fired off at Luxio one by one. This was how it defeated the Abomasnow, and it was why Chloe chose not to use Froslass.

    And this time, Luxio dodged them, each flaming sphere exploding and knocking up a cloud of snow and smoke. When he was clear of the last one, Popplio had successfully retreated to the lake and jumped into the water.

    It was far enough away to comfortably unleash several volleys of Bubble Beam, certain that the combination of distance and its assault was too much to overcome. But it was exactly where Chloe wanted it. While she watched Luxio rush it down, she was glancing into her bag for a ball she thought would suit her new party member best, and in no time she was running for the lake too.

    Bubble Beam failed to even slow Luxio's legs, once again covered in a charged-up Spark. Popplio started to panic, and let loose a powerful scream that stopped Chloe in her tracks. However, it was too late to stop what it needed stopped, and it dropped beneath the water's surface.

    Luxio leapt over the water, and unflinchingly dove straight in. A huge section of the lake was electrified by the attack, becoming the brightest light in the area for the seconds it lasted.

    Chloe's Pokemon broke through first, cold but only suffering the damage Popplio dealt to him. It wasn't the first time she'd told him to do that, so he was used to it, and swam back to shore knowing his job was done. She promised to get him cleaned up and brushed good for that.

    Then a Wishiwashi floated to the surface. Then another. And then a Qwilfish. None of them were conscious.

    Finally, Popplio came back into view, floating upside-down and similarly unconscious, but visibly breathing and thankfully determined not dead.

    Chloe tossed her ball of choice at it, and three clicks later a brief flash of light illuminated the heart on its pink shell.

    Chloe caught a Popplio ♀!
    Torrent
    Icy Wind | Bubble Beam | Sing | Disarming Voice | Hidden Power | Hyper Voice​

    After returning to town, Chloe found out that Popplio wasn't native to Galar. This one had been a problem for Circhester's Pokemon rangers, because its followers would act as living shields to let it escape. They were happy to know it wouldn't be terrorizing the local fauna anymore.
     
    Last edited:

    Fen-Fen

    Me but more fabulous
  • 359
    Posts
    8
    Years
    Haleigh Windsor and Catherine Carlisle
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Corey (♂)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Coraline (♀)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Cornelius (♂)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Captain (♂)

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Dart (♂)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Orion (♂)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Cerise (♀)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Reyna (♀)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Indra (♂)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Stampede (♂)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Holo (♀)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Vessel
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Lancer ()

    Spoiler: Memories
    --- --- Wedgehurst ---
    #1 - Meeting Corey
    #2 - Caught Coraline
    #3 - Catching Up at the Station with Melody

    --- Wild Area ---
    #4 - Meet Achille
    #5 - Camping out with Corey and Coraline

    --- Motostoke ---
    #6 - The Opening Ceremony [MEGA JP]
    #7 - Opening Ceremony pt. 2 [MEGA JP]
    #8 - Opening Ceremony pt. 3 [MEGA JP]
    #9 - Record Store Chaos

    --- Route 3 ---
    #10 - Found Orion
    #11 - Smuggler takedown
    #12 - Visions at the factory printing press
    #13 - Breaking down in the woods

    --- Galar Mine 1 and Route 4
    #14 - VS Oleana w/Melody
    #15 - VS Rosa
    #16 - Cerise "battles" Orion, joins the team

    --- Turffield ---
    #17 - Turffield gym mission
    #18 - VS Milo
    #19 - Hanging out with the girls

    --- Route 5 ---
    #20 - Corey has a nightmare
    #21 - A "platonic" dinner w/Achille
    #22 - Haleigh turns eighteen
    #23 - Rescuing Squirtle and Piplup
    --- Hulbury ---
    #24 - VS Nessa
    #25 - Corey runs away
    #26- Haleigh gets help from Catherine
    #27 - Haleigh gets help from Achille
    #28 - VS Nessa Rematch, part 1
    #29 - VS Nessa Rematch, part 2
    #30 - Going for drinks with Rosa, Ruben and Pia
    --- Galar Mine No. 2 -----
    #31 - Encounter with Rory ft. Aeliana
    #32 - Encounter with the Black Suits part 1
    #33 - Encounter with the Black Suits part 2
    -----Motostoke (Revisit) -----
    #34 - VS Ian
    #35- VS Kabu
    #36 - Simon and Haleigh pump steel and have a heart to heart
    ---- Wild Area 2 ----
    #37- Haleigh talks about her parents pt. 1
    #38 - Haleigh talks about her parents pt. 2
    #39- Befriends Dart
    #40 - Psychic things with Xan
    #41 - Eiscue mission
    #42 - Camping out with Achille
    ------Hammerlocke------
    #43 - VS. Catherine
    #44 - VS. Raph
    #45 - Reflecting on the journey so far
    #46 - Hitting up Strugglecon w/Achille
    #47 - Achille VS. Roland
    #48 - Haleigh comforts Valerie
    ----- Route 6 -----
    #49 - Haleigh and Pia clear the air
    ---- Ballonlea ----
    #50 - Catching up on the journey
    ---- Route 7 ----
    [url="https://www.pokecommunity.com/showpost.php?p=10596034&postcount=609"]#51 - Pokemon adventure squad
    https://www.pokecommunity.com/showpost.php?p=10581391&postcount=594
    https://www.pokecommunity.com/showpost.php?p=10581391&postcount=594

    Old Enemies


    For the first time in five long years, Haleigh was back in Circhester.

    A part of Haleigh still found it hard to believe that she had made it so far in her journey and yet had come full circle to come back to the city that she had been born and raised in. She had known in the back of her head that she'd be back, but it wasn't until she had stepped out of the wilderness of Route 7 and saw the familiar lights of Circhester that the swell of emotions had started to hit her. For all of the fulfillment that her journey had offered her — her Pokemon partners that were a core part of her life, the relationships she had been able to forge, the exhilarating triumphs of her gym challenge — Haleigh could never forget the pain and struggles that had all started in this place.

    Haleigh let out a sigh as she walked down the street, her breath condensing in the chilly air. The sun had set many hours ago, leaving the street lights to illuminate her surroundings. It hadn't changed all that much; apart from a few new shops that she didn't recognize, the snow-covered brick streets, historic buildings and easygoing atmosphere were still as serene as ever. Had she been out and about just a few hours earlier, she would have seen people fully embracing the spirit of the winter holidays despite the darkness, either by taking their family to the winter market, sitting down for a nice meal in a restaurant, or partying in the pub. By now, however, the crowds had died down as almost everything was closed down for the night.

    She should have been in bed back in the hotel room, but there was an incessant restlessness that burned within her, churning in her gut and coursing through her arms and legs as incessant jitters. After staring up at the ceiling and trying in vain to make herself fall asleep, she had decided to sneak out of her room and go for a walk. She didn't have any particular destination, she just needed to move.

    Haleigh darted her eyes back and forth between the two sides of the streets, seeing if anyone else was out there. It might have been paranoid to be this cautious in a city that hardly had any crime, but she couldn't shake the feeling that someone or something had been watching her since she had gotten here. The sound of a footstep crunching in the snow. A glimpse of a figure that disappeared as soon as she turned around. The feeling that someone was staring at her.

    The neighborhood that Haleigh was walking through wasn't one she was overly familiar with, as it was filled with pubs, restaurants, and hotels that were much more modest than the opulence of the boutiques and fine dining establishments in the wealthy part of town that she had grown up in. Still, it wasn't terribly far from the Windsor manor, and if she wanted to, she could walk over there in about thirty minutes. All she would have to do was turn the corner on the upcoming intersection and follow the main road to the outskirts of town.

    Home. Or at least, what used to be her home. Now, it was no more a home to her than a graveyard.

    Haleigh stopped walking. She looked down and deeply sighed. For the past few days, shadows of the past had subtly crept into her mind. It had started small, as feelings of melancholy coming and going throughout the day. Then, bittersweet memories — sweet because they had reminded her of when things weren't all bad, bitter because of knowing how things ended up — had entered her mind when she saw a familiar place. Last night, nightmares from that night and the more recent past had robbed her of sleep. These things were an unfortunate reality of the scars that she lived with, and though she had been better at dealing with them, something about being back here had made them worse.

    They shouldn't have any power over her anymore. She knew that she didn't need to let the past define her and stop her from pursuing her dream. She had the support of her friends, her boyfriend and her team. What was it that was preventing her from being able to make peace with the past like she had been able to for the past several months?

    Haleigh balled her hands into fists. To hell with all of this anxiety and rumination. She couldn't stop now, not when the end of this road was so close. She had worked too hard and had too many people rooting for her to let herself fall back into that pit of self-doubt and despair. She was done running scared from the past.

    Now was the time to lay things to rest. She needed to pay her old family home a visit, even if the thought of it filled her with trepidation.

    Haleigh changed her course to turn back around and started walking back over towards the intersection. She turned the corner to take a left and kept a steady pace as the main street she was on passed through the center of town.

    Before she knew it, Haleigh was through to the other, wealthier side of town. Since her old place was situated on a hill, she was able to see it from the main road from about ten minutes away by foot. Just as she passed by a small apartment building, the sound of someone coming towards her made every hair on her head stand up.

    When she turned around to see who it was, the figure she was met with was an unexpected one. He was wearing glasses, dressed in a black overcoat, dress pants and a beanie atop a mop of long, red hair. Ian.

    Haleigh glared at him, exclaiming. "You?! So you're the prick who's been tailing me!"

    "Oh, I wouldn't call it something as crass as that. Reconnaissance of the competition, as it were."

    Haleigh rolled her eyes. "The hell do you even care? You dropped out after Motostoke. It's over for you already."

    With a smug smirk still plastered on his face, "Maybe so. But there's been something else that's been occupying my attention these days. Something far grander than a silly gym challenge."

    Since they had last met in Glimwood Tangle, there had been something about Ian that rubbed Haleigh the wrong way. He had been much more put together, somehow even more full of himself since their last battle in Motostoke and, most importantly, had that suspiciously strong Arcanine. Though Haleigh and her Pokemon had tried their best against him, with Ian even allowing two of her own Pokemon to combat his single fighter, she had been no match and lost the battle.

    She was almost certain that the unpleasant taste in her mouth left by that battle wasn't her being a sore loser, though. It wasn't like with the gym leaders, who had clearly trained their strong Pokemon and employed cunning tactics to give their challengers a fair but difficult battle. It wasn't even like the Froslass she had encountered with Achille in the Wild Area, where she had been an inexperienced trainer facing off against a woefully overpowered wild Pokemon. From seemingly out of nowhere, he had acquired this Pokemon, going from barely cutting it in the gym challenge to being able to best her with relative ease.

    On the surface, the Arcanine had looked like any other. However, the creature was unsettlingly quiet and unemotive, in a way that felt very off. Its effect had been far from lost on her team, who had all reacted to it with variations of fear and discomfort. That wasn't all, though. When the actual fight had begun, the way that Ian was commanding the Pokemon was more akin to that of a machine. No flair or passion, just brute strength that was unleashed like a weapon. The way that the Arcanine had seemed to absorb damage was also uncanny, not uttering so much as a cry of pain when it was hit and continuing to strike back ruthlessly and mechanically. Even with a lot more variation in tactics honed from the many months she had been a trainer, it hadn't been enough to make up for the fact that the Arcanine was simply stronger, in a way that defied explanation.

    After he had won the battle, he had gloated about his victory. He said that he was finally living up to the prestige of his family name, and had condescendingly thanked Haleigh for testing out his, as he put it, "pet project."

    Though of course Haleigh was upset at her loss, it hadn't been like before where simply losing in and of itself made her upset. Something strange was going on with Ian, and the more she thought about it, the more it deepened the pit in her stomach.

    And now here he was, in the middle of the night, stalking her.

    Haleigh narrowed her eyes at him and asked tersely, "What do you want? Believe it or not, I've something to do at this time of night. I ain't in the mood to hear your insufferable gloating."

    "Oh, nothing much. Just a bit of your time."

    Haleigh growled, "What in the bloody hell makes you think I'd want to 'spend time' with you, you smarmy prick?"

    Ian chuckled and shook his head. "Please, I'd rather think we're above these petty, childish insults. Besides, loathe as I am to admit, we're both on a higher playing field, even if you did end up losing that battle."

    Haleigh scoffed in disbelief. "Don't condescend to me."

    Ian walked closer to Haleigh, forcing her to take a few steps back. "You fought admirably, given what you were up against. Your Pokemon are strong, but nothing compares to the power that I have access to. You could have that strength too."

    Haleigh retorted, "I don't need your 'strength!'"

    Ian hummed. "It's a shame you think that. I would have thought that you of all people would want an edge up on the others." He paused and sighed. "Well, we are at a bit of an impasse here. Agree to disagree."

    He turned around and sighed, pushing up his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. "This conversation has been entertaining, at least. Quaint. Reminds me of the old days. But enough of that. I really must be going. Or rather, we'll be going."

    Perplexed, Haleigh asked, "We? What the hell are you talking about?"

    The way he had said that started sending off alarm bells in Haleigh's head. Even though they had been hostile to each other, and even though he was being especially shady, he couldn't possibly be insinuating —

    Before she could finish that thought, she heard three other people come up to her, surrounding her on all sides. When she reached into her jacket for a Pokeball, she heard the clicks of firearms, prompting her to freeze.

    Ian turned back around to face Haleigh, an apologetic look on his face that might have been believable were it not for the left corner of his lips upturned into a smirk. "I'm so sorry to have to be so uncouth with you, but I figured you wouldn't come with me willingly. She wanted to make sure she was guaranteed an audience with you."

    As Haleigh looked around her to see the pistols of three other black-suited pointed right at her head, she slowly withdrew her hands from her pocket without a Poke ball in tow and clasped them behind her head.

    She. Somehow, even amidst the fear and anger coursing through her, Haleigh's mind immediately made the connection to exactly which she Ian was referring to. It could only be one person, someone twisted enough to work with these blacksuits, someone who lived here and would have any reason to want to see her under such circumstances.

    Mother.

    With her voice trembling, Haleigh snarled, "I always knew that you were an arrogant and selfish bastard, but even I didn't think you would stoop this low. You have no idea who you're working for. You have no fucking idea how crazy she is!"

    Ian laughed, replying, "Au contraire, Haleigh. I think I understand her perfectly well. Maybe more than you ever could have. Soon, maybe you'll understand too."

    He gestured to the three grunts behind her. "Bring her in."

    One of them poked their gun into Haleigh's back, its meaning unmistakable. Reluctantly, Haleigh walked to follow Ian's lead with the two grunts to either side of her and one behind her.

    Drip.

    Drip.

    As the grunts, coaxed by Ian, started "escorting" Haleigh off the streets, cold droplets started falling from the sky. She had barely been shunted along more than a few steps before the light pattering of an unexpected rain very quickly became a downpour that was leaving Haleigh and the blacksuits all thoroughly drenched.

    The blacksuits all started grumbling and looking up at the sky in confusion. Ian exclaimed, "What the hell? It's cold enough to snow out here, why is it —"

    The blacksuit's answer came not in the form of words but in the form of a torrent of water that slammed into not just him but both of the other grunts as well, scattering them like the rain drops on the pavement.

    Ian reached into his coat pocket for something as well, either a firearm or a Pokeball, but he never got the chance. A moment later, a shape dropped down onto Ian's shoulders and he was engulfed in a cloud of gold particles. He dropped to his knees and a second later, slumped onto the wet ground asleep.

    The shape, a Bug with a large mushroom growing on its back scurried over to the three dazed grunts and gave them the same treatment.

    Haleigh immediately backed herself away from the grunts and reached into her coat pocket to bring out two Pokeballs. Corey and Reyna materialized in front of her, their sights instinctively trained on the Parasect as they tensed and prepared for an attack.

    "Wait!" Haleigh shouted. Though her heart was beating out of her chest from the rush of adrenaline, she managed to start piecing the pictures together in her head. The anomalous rain and the coordinated attacks of a seemingly random Parasect could only mean one thing.

    "So, not friends of yours?" Catherine asked, stepping out from around a corner with a Kingdra - the source of the earlier Hydro Pump - hopping along beside her.

    Haleigh was immensely relieved to see a familiar, friendl(ier) face. She quickly exhaled and exclaimed, "Catherine! Thank Arceus you're here! I-If you hadn't shown up when you did, I-I…"

    She quickly shook her head and took another breath to regain her composure. "Nevermind that. We don't have much time, now that we've got the attention of the blacksuits."

    "No kidding."


    https://www.pokecommunity.com/showpost.php?p=10581391&postcount=594
     
  • 25,614
    Posts
    12
    Years


    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Indra (Male, Swift Swim) - Rain Dance, Hypnosis, Bubblebeam, Hydro Pump, Earth Power, Refresh
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Stampede (Male, Poison Point) - Hydro Pump, Smokescreen, Twister, Focus Energy, Dragon Pulse, Icy Wind
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Holo (Female, Lightning Rod) - Thunderbolt, Thunder Wave, Electric Terrain, Rising Voltage, Flame Burst, Flash

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Vessel (Female, Dry Skin) - Fury Cutter, Giga Drain, Poison Powder, Spore, Rain Dance, Protect
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Lancer (Male, Dry Skin) - Rock Climb, Revenge, Sucker Punch, Poison Jab, Rain Dance, Toxic


    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]


    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:
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    CATHERINE CARLISLE & HALEIGH WINDSOR
    New Allies
    The night air was cold, but that was to be expected. It was late - too late to be out wandering the streets if Catherine was going to be honest. Still, she had noticed that Stampede had been a ball of nervous energy ever since they had encountered the pair of Gabite.

    Rather than have him hopping around in a tiny hotel room or return him to his ball, she had elected to take him for a walk instead. Maybe the still, chilling winter night would help him relax. Or at the least he could burn off some of the excess energy.

    It wasn't like him to be like that. Even Holo had mostly lost her inability to sit still. She could guess what was bothering him though. He still hadn't wrapped his head around what happened with the Dragons. She just didn't know how to really reassure him when her own thoughts were still such a jumble.

    The thing with Valerie, her encounter with Tim and now dealing with Stampede's misgivings. Life was getting more and more complicated the further down the road to her goal Catherine got. It wouldn't be enough to dissuade her, but some nights she really wished she could just be holed up somewhere without having to worry about the outside world. Those days were behind her now. She had taken on responsibilities that she couldn't afford to ignore.

    Which is why she stopped in her tracks when she heard raised voices. Not so loud as to create a disturbance, but clearly agitated. She looked down at Stampede and saw that he too had frozen in his tracks. Normally, he'd have already been charging in.

    "Let's go see what that's all about," Catherine said. Her Kingdra couldn't fight his nature. As soon as Catherine started moving towards the commotion, he was hopping along at her heels.

    "We? What the hell are you talking about?" A familiar voice said nearby, not even trying to conceal her anger.

    Catherine peered around a corner in time to see Haleigh confronting a young man in a dark coat, red hair poking out from under a matching beanie. From behind and to the sides of Haleigh, three more figures emerged from the shadows to surround her.

    Like the first, they were well-dressed and all in black. They wore heavier winter coats over their uniforms, but they had the look of blacksuits - Blackspear grunts - nonetheless. Because of course they did.

    "I'm so sorry to have to be so uncouth with you, but I figured you wouldn't come with me willingly. She wanted to make sure she was guaranteed an audience with you," the redhead said with a voice that sounded like a smirk.

    They moved in on Haleigh as the heated exchange between her and their apparent leader continued. It seemed like Haleigh had some sort of history with him. Catherine wondered if that was going to be something problematic down the road.

    Well, problematic or not, it wasn't like she could just let this continue. She heard the telltale clicking sounds and saw the shimmer of dark metal under streetlights. The blacksuits, as they always did, had come armed.

    Catherine looked down at Stampede, he was watching intently, fins twitching with an urge to leap in. But he didn't move. He was being uncharacteristically cautious… which in that moment was probably a good thing.

    "We have to help her," Catherine whispered. "I know you've got this. Just follow my instructions and this won't turn out anything like last time. I promise."

    The Kingdra looked hesitant, but there was fire in his eyes behind it. He was who he was. Catherine was sure he wouldn't let this newfound anxiety get in the way.

    "Okay," she continued, "Those three grunts are pretty conveniently lined up from this angle. When the rain starts, blast them. Don't go killing anybody, just knock them out."

    Catherine selected a pokeball from within her pocket and released Vessel, the Bug silently waiting for instruction.

    "Vessel, see that street lamp over there? I want you to climb up it and use Rain Dance, then drop down onto that guy with the beanie and Spore him. Maybe get the other men in black too if it's safe. Get going quickly."

    Catherine watched as her Parasect hastily scurried off, then turned her attention back to Stampede. "Alright, here it comes."

    The first few drops of rain fell as Vessel waved their arms atop the streetlamp. Then, in seconds, those few drops had quickly turned into a localized downpour, drenching the Blackspear goons and Haleigh both.

    "Hit them."

    Stampede took a second longer to compose himself, then hopped around the corner and attacked. The three grunts were blasted with a Hydro Pump and smashed away, scattering onto wet and icy ground in a daze.

    A moment later, Vessel dropped down onto the redhead and knocked him out with a Spore before skittering across to the sopping grunts to put them to sleep too.

    To Catherine's relief, the plan went off without a hitch… mostly.

    Haleigh was quick on the draw, bringing her Raboot and Prinplup out to join the fray, the pair of them turning their attention to a nonplussed Vessel who was simply sitting there waiting for further instructions.

    Catherine moved around the corner in a hurry to prevent any accidental friendly fire, Stampede hopping after her, but that apparently wasn't going to be necessary.

    "Wait!" Haleigh shouted, stopping her Pokemon from attacking.

    Catherine let herself breathe a sigh of relief. At least the situation wasn't going to get any messier.

    "So, not friends of yours?" Catherine asked.

    "Catherine! Thank Arceus you're here! I-If you hadn't shown up when you did, I-I…" Haleigh practically vomited the words out in a garbled torrent, taking a few moments to get her composure back before trying again. ""Nevermind that. We don't have much time, now that we've got the attention of the blacksuits."

    "No kidding," Catherine said as Vessel returned to her side. "You explain to me why a bunch of blacksuits were confronting you in the middle of a Circhester street while we walk. There's a Pokemon Centre nearby. We can head there to recuperate while you explain."

    "Okay," Haleigh said, following Catherine's lead to the Pokemon Centre. Corey and Reyna walked to both sides of her, keeping their heads on a swivel for any danger.

    A brief period of silence followed as Haleigh tried gathering her thoughts together as they raced in her head. "I swear that since I've gotten here, when I turned a corner, or looked behind me, there had been someone watching me. I thought I was just being paranoid, but when I couldn't sleep and needed to go on a walk to clear my head, I found him following me — Ian, the bloke with the red hair."

    She looked over to Catherine, who still had a neutral, expectant look on her face, signaling her to continue. "He was an old schoolmate of mine, from a private boarding school my parents had sent me to before I came to Wedgehurst. Apparently he had been a gym challenger trying to boost his ego and his 'family legacy'. He wasn't very good at it though, and I defeated him pretty easily when I found him again in Motostoke. Dropped out after he lost against Kabu."

    "That explains why he knows you," Catherine replied. "Actually, that probably explains why he's with the blacksuits too. They like to exploit people's insecurities to get them into their ranks and turn them into tools. I don't suppose you know if he has a Pokemon that is weirdly unresponsive and more powerful than it should be?"

    Haleigh's eyes widened as she replied, "Yeah! I ran into him again in Glimwood Tangle and goaded me into a battle with him. He had this Arcanine with 'im, creepy as all hell, couldn't seem to make a dent in it."


    She raised an eyebrow as she asked, "Wait, how do you know about this? I had an encounter with the blacksuits and they never had these weird Pokemon on 'em."

    "Because that idiot Simon got roped in with them for a while. I don't know if you ever saw his Scolipede, but it was the same deal. He isn't with them anymore and filled me in on some things that I didn't know from my runnings in with the blacksuits up until then. They have a lot of power and reach. Which does make me wonder why they would agree to come after you specifically when you don't know anything about them."

    Haleigh had seen Simon's Scolipede from his fight with Kabu, and even from the telly knew that it had been off. She had figured Simon had run in with a bad crowd, but she hadn't realized that the Scolipede was a result of him working for the blacksuits. The thought that he had been involved with these terrible people made Haleigh angry, but she couldn't afford to dwell on it, especially given the more pressing matter at hand.

    Haleigh sighed and averted her gaze to look down. "Ian's not the only one that's connected to this whole mess. When he attempted to kidnap me, he heavily implied that he was taking me to speak with someone. And…that person…is most likely my own mother."

    "Your mother is working with the blacksuits?"

    "More than likely, yeah. I haven't seen or spoken to that woman for over five years, but it'd make sense that she's working for people like this. She used to work for Macro Cosmos. She has a lot of influence and power. She was depraved and unhinged enough to try and stab her own daughter."

    Haleigh spat the last statement with unmistakable vitriol, clenching her fist tightly. Corey put his paws around it, while Reyna clasped her other hand with her flippers.

    "Well what do you know," Catherine said, "One of my parents worked for Macro Cosmos too. She tried to stab you?"

    Haleigh unclenched her fist, letting Corey's and Reyna's soothing touches calm her down somewhat. "Yeah. She was, to put it mildly, a bitch. I couldn't take it any longer living with her and my dad, and I had planned to run away with a Snom that I had befriended to start my Pokemon journey. She caught me, went really fucking crazy and chased me out of the house with a knife."

    Haleigh swallowed a lump in her throat. "I made it out, but the Snom didn't. She had snatched the Poke Ball out of my hands, and…" She took another shaky breath. "I don't know what happened after that. All I knew was that I didn't have a home after that."

    "I see." Catherine wasn't good at socialising at the best of times. She had no idea how she was meant to respond to something like that. There was no denying that the whole tale was incredibly messed up.

    She thought for a moment, but kept coming back to the same conclusion. It was, without question, a fairly stupid idea. However, it seemed like the right thing to do and she was committed to taking the moral course of action at every opportunity. Besides, it could possibly produce some useful information on Blackspear who were evidently Haleigh's mother's new employers.

    "Okay. Let's go see if we can get it back then," Catherine said.

    Haleigh blinked in surprise and stammered, "G-Get it back?"

    For so long, she had resigned herself to never knowing what had become of her old friend. A small part of her had hoped her mother had simply released him back into the wild or had given him away, but she had had every reason to fear the worst had happened, that the cruelty her mother had shown Haleigh was the fate that she had subjected him to.

    She stared at Catherine. As much as Haleigh's feelings had been conflicted about Catherine up until this point, there was something about her that made Haleigh feel like this was something she could trust the other trainer with. Maybe it was the fact that Catherine was here yet again in Haleigh's hour of need, even though they weren't exactly on friendly terms. Maybe it was because Catherine has proven herself to be as determined as anyone else by still being in the gym challenge at this late stage, and enthusiastically so at that.

    Maybe it was because Catherine was offering Haleigh help in giving her closure on her past.

    Haleigh straightened up and met Catherine's gaze with a resolute look in her eyes. Haleigh held out her hand to Catherine and said, "Let's do this. Not just for me, but for all the other people and Pokemon these blacksuits have hurt."

    "Right, then let's figure out a plan of attack." Catherine shook Haleigh's hand.

     

    Foxrally

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/omi0jS3.gif[/img]
  • 2,791
    Posts
    11
    Years
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Simon Pearburgh
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Vivillon ♀ Draining Kiss | Stun Spore | String Shot | Poison Powder | Gust | Powder Friend Guard
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Mothim ♂ Protect | Hidden Power (water) | Electroweb | Quiver Dance | Air Slash | Confusion Compound Eyes
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Ross ♂ Megahorn | Arm Thrust | Rock Blast | Vacuum Wave | Calm Mind | Counter Guts

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Shedinja Shadow Claw | Confuse Ray | Spite | Mud-Slap | Endure | Phantom Force Wonder Guard
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Snom ♀ Icy Wind | Mirror Coat | Struggle Bug | Icicle Spear | Fairy Wind Ice Scales Nevermeltice (held)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Princess ♀ Electroweb | Sticky Web | Fury Cutter | Beat Up | Giga Drain | Thunder Wave Swarm Metal Flower Crown (held)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Larvesta ♂ Trailblaze | String Shot | Ember | Morning Sun | Flame Wheel | Leech Life Flame Body Heat Rock (held)
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Anorith ♂ Dig | Water Gun | Ancient Power | Aqua Jet | Rapid Spin | X-Scissor Swift Swim

    Spoiler: Inventory
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    ATC
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Nevermeltice
    *
    held by Snom

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Heat Rock
    *
    held by Larvesta

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Metal Flower Crown
    *
    held by Princess

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Luxury Ball
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Bug Net
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Wishing Star
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    A TON of cinnamon buns
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Spewpa Plushie
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Fanart of Simon
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Heracross Knight Comics
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Piers & Marnie Album
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Mew Book
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Badges: 5
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Grass badge
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Water badge
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Fire badge
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Ghost badge
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Psychic badge
    Spoiler: Inventory

    Spoiler: Memories
    Spoiler: Act 1

    Spoiler: Act 2


    Circhester

    Simon was used to handling unruly swarms jumping on him, but nothing like this. No sooner had the bug catcher arrived in town than a gaggle of journalists, influencers and league fanatics surrounded him and began hounding him with questions on his team, his upcoming battle, and his plans for the league. In hindsight, it might have been a bad move to immediately head for the stadium, as was tradition; the group had been waiting for him there and pounced on him before he even noticed them. In the distance he could see a smaller group of these story-chasers had broken off to interview another challenger. Though Simon couldn't see who it was clearly, the flash of a shining dome and a peeking yellow tail was a pretty good hint.

    Microphones were shoved in his face and one influencer began unapologetically filming himself inches away from Simon's face, but they were all quickly pushed away by an irritated Ross. Mothim flew down and reassured the Heracross as the less camera-shy members of Simon's team posed proudly for the photographers. At this point minor celebrity status was nothing special to the bugs, and even Princess, skittish as she was, seemed to recoil less at the camera flashes. Ross still seemed anxious however - Simon figured he'd never been in an official league match; and the sudden attention was a bit too much.

    "Don't worry, mate, we'll change that!" Simon patted the Heracross on the back. "Just do what I do- like this!" He exclaimed as he struck his signature winking pose, and Ross hesitantly did the same, earning a round of excited camera clicks from the press.

    After they'd taken a few good shots, Simon raised his hands in response to the journalists. "Appreciate the interest, everyone, but I'll be taking questions after the match. We've got a gym leader to take on!"

    "But today's gym leader is Gordie!" an incredulous fan cried out, "You can't possibly be trying to challenge the rock-type gym?!"

    As he cut through the crowd, Simon grinned at the fan. "Yup. And I'm taking a snom."

    —------​

    Not long after stepping inside the Circhester stadium, Simon had already found himself in the final hallway leading up to the battle arena. A combination of Mothim's protect and wing gusts had made quick work of the various sand traps and snow pits scattered around the maze, all while protecting him from the elements. Coupled with the helpful string-shot mask technique he'd learned in the wild area, the snowy sandstorm was no issue for him either, and all that was left to do was follow the flying mon's directions.

    Once he'd brushed off all of the wet sand from his outfit, Simon psyched himself up and sprinted down the hall towards the main arena. His team followed closely behind, flying behind him like a winged parade in a rehearsed pattern. Shedinja led the front, with Vivillon and Mothim at either side, and Larvesta flying in circles above them. Vivillon sprayed pink dust over the group as she orbited around them, which all caught fire on Larvesta's flame wheel, and were then dispelled by Shedinja's shadow claw. He spotted the black-hat-wearing fans in the audience and raised his net triumphantly at them, as a faint chant of 'bug king' began to echo through that part of the stadium.

    However, that was nothing in comparison to the deafening cheers blasting through the arena as a resounding thump came from the gym leader's side of the field. The thundering steps continued as Gordie's massive Coalossal stomped through the corridor. Atop its flaming back, casually holding onto its shoulder, was Gordie. The gym leader waved to his fans as his Pokemon roared, and Simon found himself starstruck as well, not even realizing he'd stopped to watch. He made a mental note to ask Gordie to sign his hat.

    The Coalossal picked up some speed and continued to charge towards the center before skidding to a halt, allowing Gordie to leap off the top and land in front of Simon in a backwards somersault.

    Gordie pushed up his sunglasses as he straightened up. "So you're the bug kid my fans have been talking about."

    "I-I hope they've been saying good things!" Simon replied sheepishly, trying to snap himself out of his trance as he shook the leader's hand excitedly.

    Gordie chuckled. "Mostly. You got some balls trying to challenge me. My mum would've killed to take on your Snom."

    "You have no idea how long I've been waiting to do this!" Simon exclaimed, "I've followed you for years- my first league match was one of yours! The greatest possible honour would be to battle you."

    The gym leader nodded. "Well, I'll do anything for a fan… including destroying you in battle. Let's rumble!"

    As both trainers returned to their side of the stadium, Simon took the time to examine the field itself. The air around the arena was cold - likely a result of the icy pillars jutting out of the ground - and the floor looked like it had exploded, it was covered in jagged rocks and spikes of various sizes, ranging from imperceptibly small to pillar-sized. One wrong move and a simple fall could easily end in a finishing blow.

    Gordie patted his Coalossal on the side and motioned forward. The Pokemon stomped onto the field, steam erupting from its fiery mouth. Simon took a deep breath and steeled himself. He grabbed Ross' scratched-up Pokeball and released the Heracross before him. Ross recoiled a bit at the bright lights and sounds of the audience, but quickly shook it off, assuming his regular combat stance. He sized up his opponent across the field and looked back at Simon with a confident nod. He'd faced bigger.

    "Time to earn your spot on the team." Simon winked, and the Heracross punched his two clawed fists together, cracking open his carapace to buzz his wings threateningly.

    Both trainers waited for the referee's signal with bated breath. "Challenger 412 versus Circhester's own rock-type rockstar Gordie! On three… two… one… begin!"

    The whistle sounded and both Pokemon jumped into action. "Calm Mind!" Ross closed his eyes and charged up energy.

    "Scald, you know the drill!" Goride called out, as Coalossal's head reared back and he blasted a torrent of boiling water into the air, letting it splash back down on his back. The coal stack burned bright as more steam erupted from the Pokemon's mouth and the heat surged through its entire body. "Heat Crash!"

    Coalossal rushed forward. Simon gulped, he knew Coalossal was fast, but seeing the gargantuan mon charging towards him like a freight train still made him nervous. He needed to slow his approach while they still had some distance between them. "Vacuum Wave!"

    Ross' arm flew forward and he shot a sonic wave of air at his opponent, but Coalossal suddenly twisted mid-charge, matching the attack's speed and dodging to the side. He slammed into the bug, knocking him into one of the pillars, cracking its stony surface.

    "Ross! You alright?" Simon called out, to which the Heracross emerged from the rubble, muttering something about his back. He flashed Simon a thumbs-up. "Try to keep your distance for now, Rock Blast!"

    The Heracross picked up the rocks around him and hurled them at Gordie's Coalossal, but the fire-type continued to dodge them with ease, circling around as he charged up yet another Heat Crash. As he got close enough to tackle, Simon quickly retaliated, "Counter!"

    Ross spread his arms wide to catch his opponent, but to both him and his trainer's surprise, Coalossal immediately skid to a stop. Gordie smirked and snapped his fingers. "Flamethrower."

    A massive stream of fire exploded from Coalossal's mouth and Ross attempted to dodge to the side. Part of him was still caught in the blaze, and Gordie's Pokemon continued to spew more as it turned to follow his movements.

    Simon panicked; he hadn't realized how effective the Coalossal was at controlling its speed - all he could do now was to use Calm Mind to buy himself time… or maybe meeting them head-on with Arm Thrust was the better option? He didn't have the luxury of planning here-

    A familiar voice suddenly rang through his head. "Arm Thrust".

    Simon blinked, he recognized that 'voice' - it was Ross. He'd felt this feeling before, back in Ballonlea. Had the Pokemon just… read his mind? He didn't have much time to dwell on the thought, however. "Power through! Arm Thrust!"

    To Gordie's surprise, Ross stopped dodging and charged into the fire, slamming his arms repeatedly into the rock-type's belly. It let out a grotesque burp-like sound and the flames suddenly stopped. Ross finished the attack with an uppercut to its jaw, staggering the rock-type back. The gym leader threw his arm out, "He's wide open! Heat Crash!"

    Simon was about to call for a counterattack, but realized the Coalossal would simply stop if he said it out loud… but he had an idea. Focusing his mind, he thought of the move: Counter.

    Ross opened his arms and grabbed Coalossal by the belly just as he crashed into him, hoisting the massive Pokemon over his head. He spun around and hurled the rock-type at a nearby pillar. The structure came crumbling down as Coalossal slammed into it, sending a shockwave throughout the arena. "Yeah!" Simon cheered, pumping his fist.

    Gordie scowled and pushed up his sunglasses. "Change of strategy. Shoot him down, Coalossal - Stone Edge!"

    Coalossal jumped back up and extended its arms like cannons, firing out hundreds of rock shards larger than any Simon had seen before. Ross quickly ducked behind a boulder for cover. Simon nodded at the bug. "If it's a shootout you want…"

    Ross waited for the Coalossal's attack to let up momentarily before jumping out of cover and firing his own Rock Blasts, sniping the Pokemon in the head. The two continued firing rocks at each other, smashing up the battlefield around them as the heat from the repeated attacks melted some of the ice pillars, clouding the arena in mist. Both trainers could see their Pokemon weather each others' attacks as the rocks exploded against their bodies, creating dust clouds that thickened the mist even more.

    After a while, the sound of rocks exploding stopped, and the battlefield fell silent. Simon tried his best to feel for the same mental link he'd felt earlier, but it had long dissipated. Both trainers and the audience held their breath as the mist parted, and Ross and Coalossal were still standing, staring each other down… before both falling backwards in defeat.

    "That's a double knockout for our first round! A shocking turn of events for gym leader Gordie's ace!" the announcer called out, riling up the crowd.

    Simon clutched Ross' scratched old ball and muttered a word of thanks as he recalled him. He'd hoped to keep the Heracross around for as long as possible for the next Pokemon, but now his only hope lay in the snowy hands of a lone member of his team, currently clinging to his arm.

    Gordie cracked his neck and exhaled. "You've done well taking down Coalossal… but don't think for a second you're any closer to winning." The crowd cheered as he pulled out a second Pokeball and released another gargantuan rock-type of his, Tyranitar. The Pokemon roared, sending more shockwaves throughout the arena.

    Simon looked at Snom. "We've trained for this for a while, lass. Time to put it to use!" he said, earning a confident hiss from her. "Besides, you've kicked a Larvitar's arse before, what's a couple sizes bigger?"

    The bug jumped onto the field. Gordie looked back at Simon incredulously, seeming almost offended at his opponent's choice of Pokemon. "You're seriously gonna… mate, you really are insane."

    His Tyranitar was certainly not amused either. As the referee's whistle blew again the dark-type roared at Snom, sand spraying out of its orifices, kicking up a sandstorm as its ability activated. Goride threw his arm forward and attacked first. "Smack Down!"

    Tyranitar charged up a golden rock in its hand and fired it at Snom. "Icicle Spear! Like we practiced!" Simon retaliated. Snom clutched her ice crystal and tilted her back towards the projectile, firing a large ice spike from it and destroying the rock before it reached her. The larger Pokemon growled, and began blasting more and more rocks, picking up speed. Snom continued to shoot them down, smashing them to bits even faster than her opponent could fire them. Eventually, she landed a few Icicle spears on Tyranitar itself, knocking it a couple of steps back.

    Both Gordie and his Pokemon snarled in frustration. "Go in! Aerial Ace!" The Pokemon rushed forward with a glowing white hand, ready to strike Snom with perfect precision.

    "Icy Wind!" Snom let out a strong gust of cold air which slowed the Tyranitar down briefly, but she was still knocked back by the powerful flying-type slash, sending her tumbling across the rough terrain and into one of the ice pillars.

    Far from crashing into it though, the bug clamped onto the icy surface and raised herself on her back legs, making a taunting gesture at her opponent. Tyranitar growled as it charged at her again with Aerial Ace, only to slam into the ice spike directly as Snom deftly dodged the attack, blasting another freezing Icy Wind in its direction.

    The exchange continued for a while, as the two fighters traded moves. Snom's weaving and dodging through the large ice spikes (she was in her element, after all) continued to confuse the Tyranitar, and a significant amount of frost from the Icy Wind had gathered on its legs.

    "Looks like I've got the speed advantage this time." Simon smirked, to which Gordie simply huffed.

    "Forget Aerial Ace! Use Crunch!"

    The massive Pokemon leaned down and bared its stony teeth at Snom, snapping its jaws angrily. It attempted to leap forward, but when it tried to move, it found its legs had accumulated so much ice that they had fused with the ice below their feet, trapping it in place.

    "Wha…?! Icy Wind can't freeze!"

    "Not on its own… but with the ice field we just created in the previous battle, it might as well." Simon winked. "Always gotta make sure the battlefield is yours before heading in…. Learned that from a friend."

    As the Tyranitar focused on getting itself free, Snom skittered around and re-emerged atop one of the nearby pillars. She let out a high-pitched war cry as she landed on her opponent's head, crystal held high.

    "Finish this! Fairy Wind!"

    Before the Tyranitar could react, Snom loosed a powerful vortex of pink, sparkling gusts, picking up the earlier shards of ice and rock and pelting her opponent with them. Gordie's Pokemon flailed about in distress, unable to reach the bug atop its head. A few blasts later, the rock-type was on its last legs, and as Snom shot out a final fairy wind, Tyranitar fell to the floor, defeated.

    "Challenger 412, Simon Pearburgh, wins!"

    The stadium erupted in applause as Simon ran onto the field to pick up Snom, holding her to the crowd triumphantly. His signature chant began ringing through the audience again, this time much louder: "BUUUG KING! BUUUG KING!"

    Gordie recalled his Pokemon and walked down onto the field. His expression was one of both disbelief and frustration, but as he reached Simon, he stuck his hand out. "...I didn't expect that sort of performance. Props to you, kid."

    Simon shook it eagerly, "Please! T-the pleasure was all mine!"

    The gym leader reached into his pocket and handed him a shining grey badge. "You've earned this. Treasure it well." He then pushed up his glasses and swiftly turned around to make his exit, pushing away the approaching Rotom-cameras.

    "W-wait! Mister Gordie, if I may…?" Simon pointed at the man's microphone.

    Gordie looked at it and sighed, chucking the clip at him. "Sure, knock yourself out. I'll be in the locker rooms."

    Simon grabbed the mic and before he could even say anything, the crowd's cheering got louder. He laughed and brought it closer to his face, "Circhester! This is your future champion speaking! This one goes out to all those who doubted us-" he moved the microphone up to Snom. The bug let out a deafeningly loud battle squeak, resonating through the arena (and likely breaking a few speakers). The crowd erupted again, and he quickly flexed for the Rotom-cameras before running back towards the aisle.

    As he waved at fans all the way, just before the exit corridor, Simon's eyes grew wide. In the sea of jersey-wearing spectators, he spotted a flash of red and white. A woman with dark brown hair in a bright red suit, and alongside her… a familiar blonde man in a white suit. Both staring at him. Simon slowed down to take a proper look… but as soon as he did so, they were gone.

    The boy shook his head and continued into the locker rooms. It was probably nothing. But he couldn't shake the feeling that something was off.

     
    Last edited:
  • 25,614
    Posts
    12
    Years


    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Indra (Male, Swift Swim) - Rain Dance, Hypnosis, Bubblebeam, Hydro Pump, Earth Power, Refresh
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Stampede (Male, Poison Point) - Hydro Pump, Smokescreen, Twister, Focus Energy, Dragon Pulse, Icy Wind
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Holo (Female, Lightning Rod) - Thunderbolt, Thunder Wave, Electric Terrain, Rising Voltage, Flame Burst, Flash

    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Vessel (Female, Dry Skin) - Fury Cutter, Giga Drain, Poison Powder, Spore, Rain Dance, Protect
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Lancer (Male, Dry Skin) - Rock Climb, Revenge, Sucker Punch, Poison Jab, Rain Dance, Toxic


    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]


    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:
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    CATHERINE CARLISLE & HALEIGH WINDSOR
    Plans and Action
    Haleigh led the way towards her former home, with the two girls walking on the street toward it, gradually rising in elevation as they did so. The denser buildings around the centre of town had given way to more extravagant and spread out residences flanking them on either side of the street. Soon, though, they even disappeared as they crossed an intersection and for another kilometer or so the road continued until it ended at the property's front driveway, a tall iron-wrought gate guarding it.

    Haleigh's emotions were all over the place, swirling inside her with every step she took toward the mansion. She was actually going to do this. She was going to break into her old home. She was going to confront the woman who had plagued her nightmares for years.

    She was going to get Snom back.

    Though she was still on edge from the attempted kidnapping and their current mission, instead of letting her mind wander to the possibilities of failure, Haleigh channeled her worries into focusing on the plan that she and Catherine had come up with when they were in the Pokemon Centre.

    "Alright," Haleigh said. "Want to go over this one more time?"

    "We'll Spore anyone at the gate, then I'll create a loud and obnoxious distraction to attract anyone else's attention while you go inside and look for your Snom. As an added bonus, see if you can grab any documents or anything about your mother's current employment while you're at it. Simple."

    Haleigh nodded and exhaled. "No backing out now."

    Cautiously, the pair approached the front of the manor grounds. Sitting just in front of the imposing gate was a small guardhouse, a pair of security workers in suspicious black suits sat within looking sleepy.

    "Seems a bit excessive for an ordinary person's house," Catherine said. "Even for someone with a lot worth stealing. Not much we can do about the cameras, but I'd be willing to bet that nobody is really watching them right now anyway."

    Haleigh scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Only the best for a Windsor, as mum would have said."

    Focusing her attention back on the entrance, she added, "Anyways, if the cameras are the same setup as it was five years ago, I reckon I could sneak past the blindspots."

    "As for the guards, that's easy to deal with." Catherine reached into her bag and retrieved a pokeball as they got closer to the dozing security. "Excuse me, can you help me with something?"

    One of the guards jostled, waking himself up a bit and rubbing at his eyes. "No visitors without an appointment. Besides, it's after fucking midnight. Piss off."

    "Oh, don't worry. I only need a moment of your time."

    "I said - "

    The guard didn't get to finish his sentence before Catherine tossed the pokeball onto the desk, half-blinding the startled guards in a flash of white light as Vessel appeared in front of them. Catherine backed away from the Bug quickly as she gave the command. "Spore."

    The guards dived, looking for weapons or pokeballs of their own as the golden-yellow cloud of particles billowed up into their faces. Neither found what they were looking for as they quickly passed out, dropping to the ground with a dull thud.

    Catherine waited a moment for the Spore cloud to clear up then, covering her mouth and nose just to be safe, moved around and into the guardhouse. She carefully stepped over the heavily sleeping security team and pressed the button that opened the gate.

    "Okay, we split up here. I'm going to head into the grounds and start making noise. You sneak in through the back door. Remember to give it some time after the commotion starts for anyone inside to get to wherever they'll be going, otherwise you might run right into more staff or something."

    Haleigh replied, "Gotcha. We'll rendezvous back at the Pokemon Centre."

    Catherine entered the grounds behind Haleigh, Vessel climbing up to her shoulder. She soon left the driveway and veered off to the left, splitting off from the younger girl and moving towards a suitable place.

    It wasn't too long before Catherine found what she felt was the best possible location: a garden segment dotted with many pine trees, hedges and large shrubs. There she and her team would be able to stay mostly out of sight while they wreaked havoc.

    Catherine released the other four members of her team, all of whom looked at her expectantly. She'd told them something big was coming in advance. It wouldn't have been fair to just drop them into the mess she was getting into. They had to have the chance to opt out. Of course, none of them did. Not even Stampede, as uncertain as he'd become.

    "Okay, let's do this."

     

    Orx of Twinleaf

    Branch into Psyche
  • 273
    Posts
    8
    Years
    Team:
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Rij
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Henj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Pelj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Kolj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Tonj
    Pokémon Spear [M] [IC]
    Silj
    Tim T
    Tim's team lay about the cold clearing at rest. Tim had let them out to run alongside him once he'd gotten clear of town and they had ran and ran for the better part of an hour. The better to get away from those parasitic reporters. While Tim's usual attire had successfully dissuaded most of them from approaching him, a few had either seen through his disguise or had just felt he looked particularly suspicious. Tim's eyeless gaze managed to back them off enough for him to get an opening to bolt, and they hadn't immediately followed. It was hardly worth trying to interview someone who refused to speak in answer, after all.

    Tim let himself down with his back against Henj's leg and allowed himself to doze, thinking back on the events of the day.

    The Gym Mission had been more exciting than Tim had expected. He had brought Tonj to guide him, as even in the whipping winds the Boldore's eyeless sight was better than what Tim could manage in the gritty snow—regardless of the practicality it would have afforded him Tim still wouldn't wear his sunglasses when in his Nigel uniform. Tonj could see ahead farther than Tim could in the off-white snowblind and so saved time when he spotted dead ends in the maze. Even so, Tonj had only just managed to notice an ambush mere steps from what would have certainly been the springing point. The Gym Trainers and their mons had gone so far as to bury themselves under a thin layer of the sandy ice. Tonj had noticed them in time though, and led Tim wide to ambush the ambushes after moving as if to turn around.

    Tonj had had practice battling lately with Tim's newfound drive to seek out Trainers in the field, but he was still only one mon and arguably the least-capable of the team in that regard. When the Gym Trainer they had jumped summoned aid from no less than four others—who, Tim had unhappily noted, cheated their own maze to come under the walls with Digging or through them entirely with a Jynx Teleport—Tonj took the lead from Tim to Rock Polish up and run through.

    Tim had gathered that at least the Gordie-sided Trainers if not the whole Gym by extention saw Tim's coincidentally mono-Rock team as a specific challenge to Gordie. He doubted they would have reacted quite so intensely to just any other challenger. Or perhaps they had felt they needed to make a show since the encounter had occurred, apparently, right near the finish line. Tonj took heavy fire but managed to see a way through before the Trainers had quite gotten their bearings, and it had been a short run after that before the exit gate had come up through the gloom and the announcer was saying the mission had been passed. Tim had thanked Tonj for his performance and had returned him—Tonj had done his part here.

    "Well," the Gym Leader, Gordie, said as Tim stepped up to the pitch, "aren't you a slick one, Nigel?"

    "I try to keep on the move," Tim, Nigel, said through the handkerchief he covered his mouth with. "After all, a rolling Rock gathers no moss, eh?" Tim swept an eye over the field—uneven and with spires of stone and ice jutting out of the ground in random places. Even between these strange protusions the ground was pocked with stones and jagged ice. It was nothing so sophisticated as a Spikes hazard, but could still lead to some awkward maneuvering. Most of Tim's mons though were quite used to rough terrain, and were hard enough of body to likely not mind the jaggedness.

    "Neat saying," Gordie shrugged, "but rolling won't be enough to clear this hurdle." A deep rumbling noise grew from behind Gordie as he spoke. "I hardly have to tell you about the wonders of Rock Pokémon, Nigel. I think we have something of an understanding going in—why don't you show me some of your favorite things about them?"

    The rumbling grew and one of the pillars, a large, black one, came around the field behind Gordie. It was not a pillar at all, but a great Coalossal jogging towards the pitch. Gordie dipped into a squat as his mon leapt with a heave clear over him, landing before him and skidding to a stop between the two Trainers. Gordie straightened up and adjusted his shades. "I'll show you my favorite things, too!" Coalossal punched the air, the crevices of its mound flaring orange.

    "You might not like what you see," Tim said seriously. He felt the ball in his hands and sent it forward. Rij slammed down, eyes intense. "Let's run them ragged, Rhyhorn!"

    Rij roared his challenge at the larger mon opposite him. Coalossal rolled its shoulders rumbling a stony growl in answer. Tim didn't have much foreknowledge for this fight. He had been battling random strangers lately, people who he could know nothing about going in. While knowing could be said to be as much as half of a battle, it was a luxury that could not always be afforded, and Tim felt he should be able to go the whole battle without it should he need to.

    "Rock Polish," Tim said. Rij shivered and familiar glimmers of light covered his back and limbs.

    "Ha, you call that a speed boost?" Gordie scoffed. "Show em how we do it, Coalossal."

    Coalossal let a stream of whitish water straight up from its mouth with a Scald that came back down on the big mon's back. The Move hissed sharply and erupted in a billowing plume of steam. Coalossal's eyes and mouth flared a brilliant orange as more steam poured from the crevices of its body.

    Steam Engine.

    Tim quickly turned over options in his head. "Rock Polish again!"

    "Time for Heat Crash!"

    Rij shivered again but by the time his additional Rock Polish had set in, the Rhyhorn was sent stumbling backward from Coalossal's flaming bodycheck. The massive mon had streaked forward and then stopped on a dime, sending its crushing momentum completely into Rij. Tim was reminded of how Henj would move with Rock Polish stacks.

    Rij had taken the hit respectably well though. "Make some distance, Rij!" Rij hauled back on himself and went sprinting with intent for the perimeter of the arena.

    "Running away?" Gordie shrugged. "Coalossol, chase it down for another Heat Crash!"

    Rij's short legs shivered a little as he pelted over the uncomfortable floor, but Coalossal came bounding as if it had no feeling in its feet, its great strides pounding flat those spikes unfortunate enough to be caught underfoot. Coalossal was indeed noticeably faster, billowing clouds of steam as it came on, but Rij swerved behind one of the large ice pillars that littered the arena. Coalossal swerved as well, but Rij looped about behind another, and another. For all its greater speed, Coalossal was still being held back by this maneuvering, unable to line up a clear shot for another Heat Crash.

    Gordie grew impatient. "Crash through the pillar then, pin Rhyhorn down!"

    "Scary Face and keep moving!"

    Coalossal's cloud of steam billowed with tongues of flame as it smashed the next pillar to smithereens. Rij kicked his legs out and tumbled, his rear end going faster than his front like a bottle rolling about, and faced the oncoming fireball long enough to flash his eyes red and spit a black light. Rij's legs were running again the second the turn had completed, and he managed to clear the attack by centimeters, Coalossal's movements having slowed noticeably, the steam less intense.

    Gordie was, predictably, not too quick to order a repeated self-Scald. Though Coalossal had stood up to it without so much as wincing, it was still a doubly super-effective hit to take. "Scald it instead!"

    "Keep on the run, Scary Face!"

    Coalossal let a steaming stream of water fly from its mouth, but Rij had already made more distance, the Rhyhorn looped wide in and out of more pillars, evading the Scald as he turned and fired another wave of black light that stopped yet more of Coalossal's steam. Coalossal's orange glow lessened in intensity.

    "Close in!" both Trainers said at once.

    Rij kicked the air with his stubby forelegs and then launched himself, horn down. Coalossal issued another deep growl and started running to meet him, although it was far slower than it had been moments before.

    "Heat Crash!" Coalossal erupted into plumes of flame, as if it were a running meteor.

    "Drill Run!" Trails of energy whirred down Rij's body, as if he were a running auger.

    The mons drew closer, the arena rumbling with their travel, shards of rock and ice flying into the air from their passage—

    "Kick out!" Tim barked.

    Coalossal lunged as Rij threw his own legs out sideways from under his stout body. Rij tumbled awkwardly askew, slowing into a tailspin that carried him clumsily away from where Coalossal caught itself, missing its strike. Rij's Drill Run was still spun up as he got his legs back under him. He pointed his horn and pounced, planting it in Coalossal's side, just above the leg.

    The impact made an ugly crack that rang out over Coalossal's growl of protest. The big mon teetered but kept its feet, turning to face Rij as the Rhyhorn backed off again. Coalossal shared a look with Gordie.

    Gordie recalled his mon, annoyed. "Well that's not going anywhere," he said prosaically. "Tyranitar, flatten this little speed bump for your teammate!"

    Tyranitar touched down in a kneel, one fist to the ground. Showboating, it stood up dramatically and bellowed a throaty roar as sandy distortions pulsed from its black spots while its Sand Stream whipped the wind into a violent blur. The sandstorm would affect little this battle, as none of Tim's mons would be bothered by it anyway.

    Such uneven terrain as was on this field made yielding even more awkward than it already was: it would take extra moments for Tyranitar to get its bearings so Rij of course had a moment to do anything he wanted for free. Tim quickly weighed the options. He had no real idea what exactly this Tyranitar was capable of. "Rock Polish!" he decided.

    Rij shook out his final Rock Polish for maximum speed while the sandstorm settled in properly. Tyranitar turned to face him across the field.

    "You probably think you can run circles around us with that," Gordie said over the wind. "But I saw your battle with Kabu. Thunder Punch!" Tyranitar cocked one fist back, yellow energy crackling from it in preparation.

    "Behind a pillar!" Tim said, remembering. He and Rij had since hammered out how to turn Lightning Rod off, but Rij had never gotten especially good at it, and it certainly wasn't something to be done in the heat of the moment.

    Rij's horn made that unique sort of tuning fork noise. Tyranitar catapulted forward impossibly fast, fist drawn like a nail to a magnet. Rij scurried behind one of the remaining pillars in time for Tyranitar to crash it to pieces and come to a stop.

    "Earthquake," Gordie said, keeping up the pressure.

    "Jump it!"

    Tyranitar stamped down, sending rising waves of energy tearing out in all directions. Rij managed to jump clear just barely, his short legs all but having their feet tickled as the energy waves flared up at him, as if to specifically catch him midair. The waves failed to do so, but before Rij could land Tyranitar spun in place and batted him from the air with its tail.

    Rij went flying a few feet through the sandstorm, rolling for a few more as he came down. "Avalanche!"

    Tyranitar punched the air high, sending a visible distortion even through the sandstorm that travelled into the air above Rij then exploded into large chunks of falling ice. "Drill Run, close in!" Rij didn't manage to dodge everything, taking a particularly harsh blow just behind the head, but he spun up his horn and ran in anyway.

    "Catch it!" Gordie said. Tyranitar lurched forwards, hands open. It caught Rij with a hand at either ear, Rij's horn stabbing the air uselessly while Drill Run ran down, inches from its mark. Tyranitar heaved back, bringing Rij clear of the ground. The big mon spun, Rij's legs kicking the air wildly, and tossed the Rhyhorn into a pillar nearby. "Avalanche!" Tyranitar clapped its hands together in front of itself, the air distorting a moment before shotgunning into a spray of large icy chunks. They hammered Rij before he could get his feet back under him, sending him crashing clear through the pillar.

    Rij got back to his feet, a bit worse for wear. Tim had never seen Rij monhandled so roughly before. Rij was either embarrassed or incensed to be thrown in such a manner. Rij's eyes looked hot enough to melt steel. Regardless, if Tyranitar had Avalanche and Earthquake, and could always close with Thunder Punch anyway whenever it wanted to, it would be preferable for Rij to stay close to it to keep up the pressure.

    "We have to keep close, Rhyhorn! Drill Run!" Rij roared with significant fervor. He darted forward through the sandstorm like a devil from the dust, murder in his eyes.

    "Sidestep it!" Tyranitar did try to dodge, but Rij was just too fast. Drill Run dug into Tyranitar's leg, Rij's whole body jolting as he braked to a full stop with the impact. It knocked Tyranitar's leg out of under it, but it slammed its tail about to keep from falling clear over. It regained its footing and faced Rij, mouth wide. "Crunch!"

    Tyranitar's mouth filled with shining spikes and its head came down like a serpent striking. Rij was already running of course, but Tyranitar twisted and managed to close its jaws on Rij's back leg. Rij's determined pulling turned to scrabbling and then kicking as Tyranitar straightened itself up. Rij went in a sandy arc clear over Tyranitar's head and then hard onto his back as Tyranitar threw itself to the ground backwards in a kind of almost-suplex. Tyranitar, twisting with its limbs and tail, still clamped on, got back up again, dragging a stunned Rij back off the ground. Tyranitar sent Rij flying through another pillar.

    Rij rolled to a stop, coughed, and then got back up. As brutal as this was, Gordie was of course no greenhorn and likely knew as Tim did that most Rocks, Rhyhorns included, could take such rough treatment without threat of any real injury coming from it. Rij indeed didn't seem so much hurt as enraged. His eyes were unfocused, almost bulging, and Tim could see shimmering drool whipping from his mouth in the sandstorm.

    Tim had never seen Rij make such a face before, but he felt nothing especially unusual from the Rhyhorn. He was listening and moving as he always had. Tim decided to just keep an eye on things for now, and continue to battle.

    "Third time's the charm, Drill Run in there!"

    "If at first you don't succeed," Gordie taunted, "throw it through two pillars!"

    Rij made a sound that Tim was tempted to describe as a scream and bolted forward, head down. He wasn't spinning up a Drill Run though. Rather, he was starting to shine even more brilliantly than he already was with three Rock Polish boosts. Tyranitar brought its arms up, bracing itself. Rij drew closer, shining so bright that he was almost a shapeless streak. As he approached the impact with Tyranitar he roared in a different voice and levered back, forelegs kicking.

    Rij caught Tyranitar's hands in his own, shoving with the force of his rush while the shining died down. Tyranitar, surprised, bashed the ground behind it with its tail to give itself more leverage. Rij did the same with his own tail, holding even with the roughly same-sized mon.

    The two mons pushed off one another to size one another up. The sandstorm blew over so that Tim could get a better look at what he was seeing.

    "Rij," he said in a little voice, too quiet for anyone to hear. Rij looked over at him anyway though, as if he did hear it. He had that sparkle in his eye, like when he seemed to especially take note of what Tim was saying, or when he seemed to particularly approve of something Tim did. Except instead of that sparkle blinking out in a second, it stayed there. Rij looked Tim in the eye and nodded.

    Gordie was determined to recover the tempo. "You just made yourself a bigger target! Earthquake!"

    Rij's attention snapped back to Tyranitar immediately, eyes intense. "Don't let it happen, Rhydon!"

    Tyranitar picked up a foot in preparation to slam it down. Rij still sparkled with his Rock Polish though, and shifted forward in a blur, elbowing Tyranitar high in the chest, Tyranitar teetered backwards, foot kicking out uselessly. It planted its tail and managed to keep upright, but no Earthquake had been made. Tyranitar snarled and whipped its tail around. Rij caught it under one arm and held it.

    "Avalanche!"

    "Use it for cover!" It was an esoteric spur-of-the-moment command that lacked context. Still, for some Tim didn't doubt that Rij would understand exactly what he meant.

    Tyranitar punched the air over itself and sent a distortion upwards that dropped ice at Rij. Rij yanked on Tyranitar's tail, jabbing the backs of its feet with his toes. Tyranitar straightened up in defiance and Rij hooked his other arm around the mon's neck before falling backwards. Rij fell to the ground with Tyranitar atop him being pelted by its own Avalanche. As the Move ended, Tyranitar jostled itself, slamming its spines into Rij's face and stomach, and then rolled clear.

    The mons got back up and then lunged for one another, hands pressing into one another's shoulders, shoving. The mons smashed ruts into the ground around them with their lashing tails. Fissures formed in the ground from where they pushed into one another, new spikes forming in the floor. Tyranitar issued a deep, roiling roar, teeth gnashing. Rij boomed his own roar, horn whirring.

    "Crunch!" Tyranitar's mouth gaped wide, filling with wicked shining spikes. Its head rose dangerously on the end of its longer neck.

    In the past weeks though, Rij had learned a new Move. Though it was markedly less flexible than his other ones, it made up for that with sheer power. Now was as good a time as any to bust it out.

    "Megahorn!"

    Rij narrowed his eyes a moment, his head shifted a bit, his back bent, his body made countless little adjustments in the blink of an eye, assisted by his Rock Polish boosts. So it was that when Rij's eyes widened back up he had his horn aimed where he wanted it. Greenish energy flared from his horn to make a single, long spike that rammed its way past the smaller ones lining Tyranitar's mouth.

    The spikes drew sparks as they scraped against each other, Megahorn growing outward enough to push back against Tyranitar's lunge. Tyranitar's eyes were visible like saucer plates, mouth trying to close around the Move, and then both mons' heads disappeared in a dirty burst of power and a cloud of sparkling smoke.

    The mons' feet could be seen shuffling awkwardly against one another for a few moments, and then Tyranitar's both came off the ground. Rij twirled and threw Tyranitar by the mouth with his horn through one of the last remaining pillars in the center of the arena. Tyranitar rolled to a stop on its side, mouth slack-jawed, eyes pinched shut. Tyranitar sighed once and thumped the ground weakly with one hand.

    Rij went to a knee, huffing. He looked at Tim and pressed one fist to his chest for a moment. Tim felt a rush of emotions all at once. He felt his eyes get hot, but he choked it back and just mirrored the gesture back. Rij nodded. They weren't done yet.

    Gordie had already recalled Tyranitar. "Well you certainly know how to put on a show," he said. "That's gonna be a hard act to follow." He sent Coalossal back out. The big mon regarded Rij with an almost dismissive air. "Let's see how you close. Coalossal, finish it off with a Scald!"

    "Scary Face, Rhydon!"

    Rij's eyes flashed red and he let his black light wash over Coalossal. He closed his eyes as the slowed mon's Move washed over him. Rij rumbled a quiet growl and collapsed forward onto his stomach.

    Tim recalled him. There were a thousand things he wanted to say. He didn't know what kind of face he was making. He wanted to talk to Rij, ask him a hundred things. But that all would have to wait. This had been a battle of giants, of large mons throwing their weight around. In Tim's mind there was only one of his mons that really made sense to cap off this battle.

    "Close in, Rolycoly!"

    Pelj came onto the rough ground already moving forward, though only at a moderate pace as she took in the scene. Coalossal regarded her stone-facedly. Gordie raised an eyebrow but didn't comment on Tim's decision. "Alright Coalossal, let's speed up!"

    Coalossal sent another Scald into the air above itself. But Rij's last Scary Face made it come out a bit slower than would have been preferred. Pelj was fixing the larger mon with an intense, red stare as she wheeled closer and picked up speed.

    "Aim for that Move, Incinerate!" Pelj jumped up and sent a cone of flame over Coalossal's pile. The fire enveloped the Scald, both Moves dispersing in a flash of steam. Pelj landed at Coalossal's feet. Coalossal frowned at her, pile flaring orange. Pelj silently matched its gaze, her own back flaring in answer.

    "Awful annoying, Nigel," Gordie said critically. "Stone Edge!"

    Coalossal sent a punch into the ground. Pelj zipped out of the way, but jagged rock spikes tore from the ground in a line straight for her. When the spikes reached her, a single huge spike almost like one of the arena's pillars shot from the ground, throwing her airborne.

    "And again!"

    "Rock Polish, make some distance!"

    Coalossal swiped with an arm, throwing jagged stones that shivered as they flew. Pelj had lit herself up with Rock Polish by the time the stones closed on her. The stones erupted into spikes at Pelj as they came near, turning in their flight, Stone Edge showing off why it was the bane of birds everywhere. They also, however, showed off their less-than-consistent accuracy.

    The Move had been too slow in coming and Pelj was too comfortable in the air, long hours of being tossed around in training paying off. One of the spikes was a near-miss, but Pelj caught her wheel against it and pushed herself downward. She came under the Move and landed on the top of Coalossal's pile. "Smokescreen!"

    Pelj chattered excitedly, spinning her wheel into her opponent's pile, filthy black smoke erupting outward and spilling down to the floor. Pelj shortly removed herself from the smoke, leaving Coalossal ignorant of her position.

    "Get out of the cloud, Coalossal, keep eyes on Rolycoly!"

    "Rock Polish again!"

    Pelj got herself another boost in by the time Coalossal cleared the smoke nearby her. Gordie jumped on the opening. "Heat Crash!"

    Pelj was much faster, but the abruptness of it caught her before she could adjust. Coalossal ignited and slammed itself flat against the ground, pinning Pelj underneath it. Tim flinched a little. Coalossal started to lever itself back up and Pelj came wheeling out of under it a little shakily but not especially the worse for wear. Her body issued thin trails of brownish smoke, her Heatproof having cushioned the Move and apparently having somehow even lessened the more physical trauma of being flattened.

    Coalossal still hadn't completely gotten up yet. "Smack Down, get clear!" Pelj blinked a moment before throwing a golden stone from her back into Coalossal's head. Coalossal slammed back to the ground as Pelj put a clean distance between the mons. Most of the pillars had been smashed down by Rij and Tyranitar, now the ground was just uneven and littered with chunks of the fallen pillars.

    "Tough little thing, I'll say that," Gordie said, having likely recognized Heatproof in action. "Slow it down with Tar Shot!"

    "Smokescreen the field, use the rubble to dodge!"

    Coalossal loosed a jet black gunk splurt from its mouth and lashed the air with it, ribboning it out wide. Pelj began leaving a black curtain of smoke in her wake as she bobbed and weaved around the wrecked pillars. Her interest in seeing Ryan's parkour all that time ago hadn't been a mere passing fancy either, she'd been practicing. She angled her wheel as she approached a block of rubble and tore up the side, sending herself into a low arc over one of Coalossal's lower sweeps. Pelj landed easily, having raised a black curtain across half the field, notably cutting Gordie off from Coalossal.

    Gordie's voice traveled as he spoke, as he was already running to get a better angle on the scene around the smoke. "Scald yourself, Coalossal, we have to be able to catch up!"

    Pelj was too far away to repeat the earlier trick with Incinerate—at this range her Move would shotgun out wide enough to hit Coalossal and trigger Steam Engine anyway. "Smack Down!"

    Pelj sent a golden stone in. Coalossal sighed in agitation and decided to let itself be hit so that it could still receive the Scald on its back. Coalossal's body erupted in a hissing cloud of steam as Gordie returned to view at the edge of the dispersing Smokescreen cloud. "Alright that's enough of that! Stone Edge high!"

    Coalossal tossed a mess of stones through the air, a few feet off the ground. They came on much faster now.

    "Return fire with Smack Down!"

    Pelj zigzagged wildly as the stones overhead turned down to lance the ground around her. A couple of them managed to graze her before she sent another Smack Down across the ground. Coalossal was fast, a bit faster than Pelj even, but it was also a far larger target. Pelj had aimed for the chest, but the Move had managed to hit home on the arm instead before Coalossal could move its entire bulk out of the way.

    Coalossal stumbled harshly. It sighed a whistling burst of steam. It had now struck itself twice with Scalds and had taken a severe hit from Rij earlier besides. Tim could tell Gordie noticed it too.

    "Running out of steam, Gordie?" Tim taunted.

    Gordie managed not to groan. "Whether or not we are, there are no brakes on this train! Coalossal, slick the floor!"

    Coalossal inhaled and then spun tight in itself, spraying copious amounts of Tar Shot in all directions. Pelj dodged any direct globules, but found herself wheeling through puddles of the gunk anyway as she watched the big mon upchuck. "Rapid Spin, Rolycoly!" Pelj spun in place for a moment. This gunk wasn't the usual kind of floor hazard though and so didn't completely clear off.

    Pelj only just managed to clear a tiny spot of clean for herself before Coalossal shot forward, gaining even more speed as it came sliding over the slick, steam bellowing, orange glow intense. Gordie pointed for dramatic effect. "Heat Crash!"

    Coalossal ignited, coming on like a meteor. The black tar on the field ignited too, exploding outward, ripping the ground, sending rubble in all directions, smoke, fire, noise. Pelj, on her little patch of gunklessness, was spared the worst of the blasts. She shivered as she watched doom cross the field. Her wide eye burned deep red, wide, ready.

    "Smack Down!" Tim pointed as well, since it felt like the thing to do.

    Pelj's back flared intensely as she sent one last golden stone forward.

    The shot caught Coalossal in the face, yanking its head downward. Coalossal flipped forward abruptly, the flames of its Heat Crash snuffing out with the last of the explosions. The steam trailing from it lessened and then disappeared entirely as Coalossal slid face-down through the uneven ground. It slid to an unceremonious stop with the tip of its pile tapping Pelj gently. Coalossal rumbled quietly into the sudden silence as its glow went out, leaving it black and still.

    The audience had erupted with such noise it had almost made the previous explosions seem quiet. Tim and Gordie had traded some excited words after, Gordie pleased with such a stunning showing, Tim uncharacteristically excited himself from the performance of his mons. Pelj had been shrill in her celebration, chattering in a steady stream at Coalossal as it flopped itself onto its back.

    And, maybe, Tim's fried had been there too. Somewhere. Tim wasn't sure. But for a moment, something had been different. He had felt like he hadn't since she had died. Tim thought so anyway. But he wasn't certain. He was drifting off now, the cold air numbing him to the world.

    He was so tired. What an eventful day. Battling was hard, but it was always so rewarding. He hoped he had done well enough to not have to do extra written work. He had to go climbing this weekend with her, he didn't want to be tied up in homework. But that was a concern that could wait. After all, she sometimes would have to report in for impromptu Ranger work that might get in the way of their planned outing. For now Tim had to make sure to get some sleep anyway.

    Tim would have to make sure to call her in the morning.

    Rij the Rhydon watched Tim curl into that weird ball-like posture he always slept in. He looked at Henj and put one finger up to his mouth. Henj blinked in acknowledgement and slowly stepped away from Tim, to let the human sleep on the ground without holding Henj's leg.

    Henj went around rousing the others quietly as Rij psyched himself up. He still had to commit some of his attention to keeping his memories in order, but everything seemed so much … more now. It didn't hurt to think anymore and he found he could often turn things over in his head for minutes at a time without feeling his brain swell. Among other things, it had awoken him to the fact that he had arguably never properly met the other mons Tim and he had been traveling with.

    The other five were looking at him patiently now, waiting to hear what he'd have to say. Rij took a deep breath. He would never forget his friend Versusan. But it was time now for new friends to come into his life.
     
    Last edited:

    Foxrally

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    Circhester

    After a long bout of post-match interviews and autograph-signing, Simon had finally been able to take a break from the press and leave the stadium area (partly thanks to Gordie emerging from his locker room and getting all the attention directed at him). He'd grabbed lunch at the local landmark Bob's and enjoyed the rest of the day touring the historic ruins with his team, even taking a relaxing dip in the hot spring to soothe the weariness of travelling through Galar on foot. Places like Circhester made Simon quite grateful he had a feisty, portable heater on him in the form of Larvesta, but nothing could beat the sensation of a hot bath on a cold day.

    After dark, he'd checked into his room at Hotel Ionia, courtesy of the hotel itself giving him a free stay in Circhester (apparently, the owner was a fan). The room had a great view of the stadium, and was definitely the fanciest - and largest - he'd ever stayed in. Evidently it had a no-Pokemon policy indoors, something Simon was a little sad about, but he wasn't going to complain about a free stay.

    "Yep! ...alright, I'll let them know. Say hi to Grimms for me!" Simon said as he ended a phone conversation with his dad.

    One cold shower later, he popped himself onto the bed, exhausted from the long day. The pillows weren't great and he had to stack them to actually get any use out of them, but soon enough, he drifted off to sleep.

    ------​

    Simon awoke roughly to the feeling of a cloth shoved in his face. His eyes shot open and he was met with the blurry image of a man in a black suit and shades standing over him, holding the cloth over his mouth and nose. He let out a pained, muffled shout and pushed against the man's arm.

    As soon as the attacker noticed Simon was awake, he looked to the side and shouted, "Shit, he's up!´

    His vision managed to clear up just In time for him to dodge the assailant's other fist, aimed right at his head. As the man's fist hit the pillows, Simon twisted around and wrenched the cloth off of his face, before kicking the man away and rolling off of the bed. That's realized there were two of them. The second suited individual was rummaging through his drawers, tossing things haphazardly as she emptied them.

    "Little shit… just grab all his Pokémon and go!" the first grunt yelled out, reaching for his belt.

    Despite his stupor, Simon's first thought was to go for the suit currently rifling through his bag. He tried to yell out, but realized no sound could come out of his mouth - something must have in that cloth - so he instead lunged at the grunt. Before he could take a step, he felt a sharp slam to the back of his head and fell to the ground. The first grunt stood over him with a baton in his hand, and began bringing it down on him, throwing in several kicks as he did so. Simon covered himself as best he could and grabbed the man's leg, tripping him over and dropping him to the ground.

    Panting, and with a throbbing pain in his head, he leapt to his feet and saw the other grunt was running out of the room with his bag and Pokemon. He sprinted towards them, ignoring the pain in his leg from the kicking - but it seemed like every step he took forward made the room stretch longer and the assailant get further away. Tears welled in his eyes as he continued to voicelessly scream for them to stop, before the room suddenly snapped back to its regular shape and he landed on top of the thief.

    As the female grunt turned around Simon realized her suit was no longer black, and it was instead a bright red, just like he'd seen at the stadium. The woman's face was featureless, and no sooner had he pinned her down than she disappeared underneath him, taking his Pokemon along. Shaking, Simon turned around as he heard the footsteps of the first grunt approaching. The man's appearance had also changed, he was now in a white suit, and as he emerged from the shadows, Simon was face to face with Zelkova.

    "I told you… everything that happens from now on is your fault, boy." the man spat. He raised his hand to strike with the baton, and Simon closed his eyes.

    Yet the hit never came. When Simon opened his eyes, Ross was standing between him and Zelkova, the bug's claw gripping the man's wrist. Zelkova grunted as he struggled against the weight of the Pokemon, but Ross remained unflinching. He glanced back at Simon and let out a calm buzz.

    'You are not alone.'

    Ross then turned around and delivered a single punch to Zelkova's gut, sending the man flying across the room and crashing into the wall. As he fell to the ground, his body disintegrated into red shadowy mist. Ross looked back at Simon and placed a hand on his shoulder, then squeezed.

    Simon awoke in his bed in a cold sweat, panting. Though he didn't quite jolt up - as he realized Ross was sitting on the bed beside him, holding onto the same shoulder he was in the dream.

    "Ross… you… how did you…?" Simon asked, still shaken. "You felt that…?"

    The bug nodded.

    Simon tried to calm down with a deep breath. "I'm okay. It's just a bad dream." he said, more to himself than to Ross. "I don't know how you managed to read my thoughts again, but I'm sorry you had to see that." he added, realizing he'd indirectly pulled Ross into the nightmare as well.

    Ross shook his head vigorously, and made a motion to remind Simon what he'd told him in that moment.

    "You're right, you're right…" Simon smiled softly. "I've got all of you guys, no matter what."

    He glanced at his phone; it showed 3 AM, and he was still exhausted. As he scrolled through his contacts list, he rummaged in his bag for Shedinja's Pokeball and released the ghost-type. "Hey, tiny." he said. "Would you mind putting me out for the night? I think I've had enough of dreams for tonight… and I've got plenty of thinking to do tomorrow." he added, his finger landing on the number of a certain psychic.

     
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