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[PKMN FULL] TRAINERS (IC)

  • 4,683
    Posts
    10
    Years
    • Age 29
    • Seen May 16, 2024

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      TRAINERS (IC)
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      TRAINERS (IC)
      [/tab] [tab=inv10-upbeat]
      TRAINERS (IC)
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    Chapter 10: Upbeat

    👤 Ft. Ninetales as Coralie Summers 🏟️ Five Stars Stadium🕙 May 31st, morning

    Semi-finalist.

    Sure, it was a small tournament, but he couldn't help feeling pretty proud of what his team had accomplished here today. Win or lose now, he thought he could leave the stadium happy. And after beating Geno's Fire team with two Grass-types in his roster, he felt like he could do anything.

    Jordan stepped out on the field once more, less and less nervous with each victory. All the participants left now were Cape students, which was pretty cool, and his opponent for this match was fellow alumni Coralie.

    Bulbasaur, Noibat, Drifloon, Dedenne... was he missing anyone? Those are the Pokemon he remembered seeing from her today. He wondered if she had any surprises up her sleeve.

    Either way, he walked up to meet her in the center of the stadium. Although he thought he wasn't nervous anymore, apparently his sweat glands didn't get the memo and he quickly rubbed his clammy palm on his shirt before reaching out to shake her hand. "Hey Coralie, good luck."

    Coralie could barely contain her excitement, she was amped up for the upcoming battle and delighted that said battle was with her former classmate. She had paid attention to his previous matches, and had been impressed by his ability to persevere against the odds. Moreover, she was simply ecstatic at the opportunity to battle someone she had attended school with, and someone whom she thought of as a friend.

    Coralie practically skipped upon the field, taking Jordan's hand and shaking it rather vigorously, her azure eyes sparkling whilst she held Jordan's gaze. "You, too, Jordan!! Let's have a fabulous battle!!"

    "Right!" He flashed a smile back before taking his place on the field. Jordan felt good leading with Hop - he covers a good amount of her team, and unless she was sending out the Dedenne, he should be fine. The trainers cast their Pokemon out simultaneously and the Pidgeotto emerges from his Poke Ball.

    Coralie studied the Pidgeotto momentarily, before calling forth Mavis. "Your time to shine, Mave!!! Do your very best!!" The Drifloon emerged from the pokeball, elongating her thin-like arms and waving them threateningly at the Pidgeotto, indicating that she was indeed prepared for battle!!

    "Alright, Mavis, use Minimize!!" The Drifloon began to compress her body, making herself considerably smaller in size and thus much more difficult to hit.

    Interesting choice. It does have a few annoying immunities, but they should be able to find their way around them. "Let's start with Twister!" He told Hop, and the Pidgeotto whipped up a vicious tornado that tore through the stadium, battering the balloon Pokemon. As he hoped, the Drifloon flinched, allowing for another opening for a follow up. Hop dove forward with a Wing Attack.

    "Quickly, Mavis, use Constrict! Grab hold of Pidgeotto." Mavis returned to her senses just in time. As the Pidgeotto was within close proximity, the Drifloon elongated her arms considerably, wrapping them around the wings of the avian Pokémon, immobilizing it instantaneously. Mavis then proceeded to hurl the Pidgeotto toward the ground below.

    "Wing Attack again!" Jordan called out. Hop unfurled his wings forcefully, breaking the Drifloon's grip on him. He put a bit of distance between them before diving forward to strike with his wings. They have a limited moveset against Mavis, but should still be able to reliably chip away at her.

    "Fight back, use Gust!" The Drifloon produced wind which whipped at high speed, aiming to knock the Pidgeotto back. He doubled over, almost falling out of the air but flapped his wings harder to regain his balance, propelling himself higher. When he'd gotten far up enough, Hop sent another Twister tearing down towards Mavis.

    "Counter it with gust." Mavis redirected the wind towards the twister, and the two attacks collided with an explosion of energy, momentarily illuminating the stage. "Go for constrict, Mave!!" The Drifloon emerged through the explosion, in pursuit of Hop. Mavis entangled him with her long thin arms once more, squeezing the bird Pokémon progressively tighter.

    Her grip slowed his momentum briefly, but Hop was getting more used to slipping out of the Drifloon's grasp, jerking left and right to loosen her grip before deadweighting in her thin arms so she had to drop him. Freefalling momentarily, he righted himself midair as his trainer yelled out "Pluck!", and he sharply switched directions to propel himself towards Mavis and peck at her balloon-like body; the move typically works best when the target is holding a berry, but is otherwise a solid physical attack as well. His first attempt missed the Minimized balloon Pokemon, but the second one caught her squarely in the back of her head. Even from the ground, Jordan could see Hop's sharp beak pierce into her, and for a second, he thought the Drifloon might actually pop like a balloon.

    Coralie watched in horror as her Pokémon was pecked by the Pidgeotto. She, too, was reminded of the fact that her Pokémon was balloon-like and almost expected her to pop. She noted how swift Jordan was at problem-solving, he evidently was a quick thinker and was able to devise counter strategies with relative ease, but it only made for a more enthralling battle! Coralie glanced at her Pokémon, knowing she could only take so many more hits. "Mavis use Payback!!" Mavis momentarily built up an internal rage, increasing her power, before delivery Hop with a powerful slap.

    The strength of the impact stunned Jordan briefly, but as the residual Dark energy from Mavis' attack continued to linger, his eyes lit up. An opening! "Mirror Move, now!" He called out. Shrouding himself in the same darkness that Mavis used to summon her attack power for Payback, Hop redirected the energy and dove forward, slamming into the Drifloon.


    Mavis goes down with a thud, hitting the ground and collapsing rather roughly, unconscious. Coralie summons her back within her pokeball, though while this occurs Hop seems to recoil from an invisible attack, Mavis's aftermath ability activating and dealing damage to the flying-type.

    "Let's go, Stella-Luna!" Coralie's next pokemon is her beloved Noibat, who flaps around playfully.

    Hop had Roosted in the metal slats over the stadium, watching his new opponent carefully as he nursed some of the injuries sustained from the previous battle.

    "Ok, Stella-Luna, use Double Team!" Coralie commanded, the bat-like Pokémon creating a multitude of copies of herself. "Now surround Hop!" In a flash, all of Stella's Clones encircled Hop, so as to overwhelm the avian Pokémon. "Super Sonic!" Stella produced a cacophonous screeching sound, which filled the stadium, the horrid sound generating multiple groans from the audience.

    Jordan also instinctively covered his ears as the noise rang out, but he kept his eyes on Hop. The Pidgeotto was shaking his head from his perch, and coupled with the dizzying copies of the Noibat, Jordan could see him panicking a little. "Stay calm, don't-" He began, but it was too late; the Pidgeotto took off, confused. As he flew around the stadium to escape Stella's illusions, he smacked his head a few times against some of the metal beams. Not too hard, but he definitely hurt himself a bit.

    On the plus side, his frantic movements made him a little harder to keep up with as well. Now, Jordan just needed to get him to calm back down. "Hop, it's- it's alright!" He repeated to no avail, as the Pidgeotto continued to fly around wildly.

    Coralie beamed as her strategy was fruitful. "Yayyyy, Stella-Luna! Alright, now use Air-Cutter!" The Noibat flapped its wings vigorously, producing a rapid breeze aimed directly for the confused Pidgeotto, ripping into the avian Pokémon as the attack met its mark. The harsh winds seemed to jolt Hop back to his senses, and as the illusions around him dissipated, he was calmed enough to charge accurately at his opponent with a Quick Attack. Jordan breathed a sigh of relief; it wasn't his preferred way of getting him back in control, but at least he was no longer flying into the beams.

    "Good, Hop - now, Twister!" He called out to follow. The raging tornado he conjured picked up momentum as it trailed Stella Luna's moments.

    "Double team, go Stella!" The Noibat generated a multitude of copies of herself, the twister colliding with the first two, whilst the real Stella-Luna was able to successfully evade the swirling winds. "Now use Agility, rush at Hop!!" With that, the two remaining copies of Stella alongside the real Stella came rushing at Hop. Once they were at close distance, Coralie commanded Stella to use Bite, all three Stellas chomping down on the Pidgeotto.

    Jordan grimaced. Ooh. This one's tricky. Although Hop has the best move to deal with her, between Stella Luna's speed and evasiveness, she was getting harder to hit. Perhaps...

    "Good work, Hop - come back!" He withdrew the Pidgeotto. If they can't match her speed, maybe they don't have to. "Let's go, Tangles!" It was a risky move, especially after seeing the Noibat's Air Cutter, but he had an idea. "Grab her with Constrict."

    It took a few attempts, but she finally managed to ensnare the evasive Noibat with her vines. "Now, Sleep Powder!" The shimmery dust floated down, though Coralie had an idea. "Eeeeekk!! Stella-Luna, counter it with Super Sonic!!" Just before the sleep inducing dust rained down upon the Noibat, Stella produced a cacophonous sound once more, which echoed throughout the arena, and Tangles succumbed to confusion just as Stella dozed off. It was simultaneous.

    Oh, not this again! Jordan thought to himself as Tangles teetered about in a daze. But it'll be fine. He's fine. He just needed to get Tangles to respond before Stella Luna wakes up.

    "Tangles. Tangles!" She trundled over at the sound of his voice. Okay! Good! She's listening. "Great! We're gonna need some Poison Powder. No- not here, not here!" Jordan stumbled backwards, coughing as he waved the bits of purple powder away that Tangles started to emit right in front of him. Thankfully, she stopped before it did any real damage. He spun her around and lightly pushed her forward. "Noibat," He pointed at Stella Luna. "Can you target the Poison Powder there?"

    The poor Tangela was clearly still confused, but Stella Luna's current state gave her enough time to figure out what to do. An uncomfortable, twitchy response from the Noibat told him the Poison Powder was taking effect, and they took the time to set up her Ingrain, as well as Constricting Stella Luna tightly with Tangles' vines.

    "Return, Stella!" Coralie took it upon herself to switch out her Pokémon, something which she hadn't done yet thus far in the tournament. "Florian, the stage is yours!" She summoned her Bulbasaur, cognizant of the fact that the Bulbasaur was immune to both poison powder and sleep powder simultaneously.

    As Florian emerged upon the battlefield, Coralie felt instantaneous relief. She hated watching her Pokémon suffer due to status conditions. Furthermore, Florian was her rock, she knew she could rely on him no matter what.

    "Florian, use Take down!!" Coralie instructed, and the Florian bolted full force at the Tangela, smashing into it, sending the grass-type Pokémon reeling. "Yesssss!! Good job, Flors!!"

    Tangles' Ingrained roots loosened from the impact, but she shook her head and stood back up, tightening her grip as she continued to draw nutrients from the earth.

    Darn. Big oversight on Jordan's part, knowing Florian was likely to make an appearance - the girl did seem attached to her Bulbasaur. They could chip away at him slowly, with the Tangela's life draining and attrition-based techniques, but it wasn't going to be the most effective.

    The tournament experience had really been teaching him that he needed to diversify the typing of Tangles' movepool, at the very least. Coralie's Pokemon so far have had a varied enough moveset to choose from that, if, for instance, he were to bring Hop back out soon, the Bulbasaur can still counter him with his Stone Edge. They needed more of that kind of versatility.

    But for now, attrition it is. We'll see how it goes, until it's time to bring Hop back. "Constrict, then Mega Drain!" Jordan called out, and Tangles wrestled with Florian briefly as their vines met, before she overwhelmed and wrangled him down enough to drain his energy.

    "Use Growth!!" Coralie had just remembered that Florian could indeed utilize the stat-boosting move, having previously neglected it altogether. Florian's bulb grew considerably, as the dual-type Pokémon was building up his raw attacking power from within. Coralie was momentarily fascinated by this, briefly forgetting that there was a battle altogether.

    "Now, Take Down!! Let's wear down Tangles!!" As she commanded, the Bulbasaur shook off her vines and slammed into the Tangela, crashing into her, this time with noticeably more force. Of course, Florian took a bit of recoil damage himself as well, something which Coralie wasn't necessarily accounting for.

    "Tangles, are you okay?" Jordan called out. That one looked like it hurt, but the Tangela straightened up and rerooted herself once again to heal up with Ingrain and Mega Drain. The double-edged effects of Take Down worked in their favour a bit, since Tangles can regenerate herself, at least. Maybe Florian can tire himself out enough for Hop to finish this more easily. The Bulbasaur was a heavy hitter though, so that might be coming soon.

    Florian followed up with a Stone Edge, the rocks jutted from the earth in Tangles' approximate position, piercing the grass-type Pokémon. Coralie figured she'd use something aside from Takedown and switch things up a little. It was beneficial to be flexible and versatile with moves, she thought. And that seemed to do it, as the Tangela's Ingrained roots snapped from the impact; Jordan could tell she was done. "Great job, Tangles. Come back!" He quickly retrieved her and sent Hop back out. "Let's go, Wing Attack!"

    The Pidgeotto soared back out, circling Florian a few times before diving at him. He took care to attack swiftly and not stay down within the Bulbasaur's tackling range for long. "Good, try to stay up!" Jordan to him. He could still be grabbed by Florian's vines, but this lessened their chances of being hit with the Take Down a bit, at least.

    "Florian, use Leech Seed!" Florian sent out several seeds in Hop's general direction, the first missing Hop entirely, whilst the second latched onto Hop, swiftly embedding itself within the avian's feathered body, a tangle of roots entrapping the Pokémon whilst simultaneously beginning to drain his life force. The roots forced Hop to crash into the ground below with a thud. "Now, Sleep Powder, Flors!"

    After having immobilized the Pidgeotto, Coralie only sought to further debilitate the flying-type Pokémon, wherein it would be completely vulnerable to attack. Hop was a threat, not only due to its typing, but due to its ability to dive from and retreat to the air.

    The dust fell upon the bird Pokémon, instantaneously putting him to sleep. "Hey!" Jordan called out, in an effort to prevent it, but it was too late. "Oh, buddy, no-"

    He still had one switch left, but he should use it wisely. They're just gonna have to tough it out - a high-impact attack would likely wake him up. Would Coralie be following up with Stone Edge immediately, or letting Leech Seed do its work first? Either way, they were in for a rough few minutes here.

    Hang in there, Hop.

    "Stone Edge, Flors!" Within mere seconds, the Stones jutted out from the earth below where Pidgeotto was. The jagged rocks pierced the Pidgeotto, dealing significant damage. Hop reeled from the impact, but as expected, he was jolted awake. It took him a while to get his bearings, as he seemed to have forgotten he was bound by the roots of the Leech Seed, but he stretched his powerful wings out, snapping just enough of the restricting greenery to move and instantly took to the metal beams overhead. Jordan gritted his teeth; Hop must be clinging on to the last bit of his strength, but he was Roosting to recover as he sized up his opponent.

    "Wing Attack again, when you're ready." The Pidgeotto continued to Roost for the next couple of minutes, side-stepping and hopping from beam to beam to avoid being grabbed, before suddenly swooping in for the attack. "Pluck!" Jordan called out immediately after, and Hop tore into Florian with his beak as well.

    Florian recoiled as the beak met its mark, grimacing from the brutal attack. "Leech Seed, again, Flors." The Bulbasaur sent forth another seed, which landed upon the Pidgeotto before it was able to fully become airborne once more. The seed embedded itself within the avian Pokémon and debilitated him. "Stone Edge, edge, again!" The rocks jutted out and slammed into the Pidgeotto once more.

    It seemed as if both trainers were utilizing the same strategy, restoring their pokemon's respective health before coming in again to deal heavy damage. Still bound by the newly implanted Leech Seed, the weakened Pidgeotto couldn't fly anymore, but that wasn't a problem for him; he'd spent a lot of his time as a Pidgey not flying anyway. Hop charged towards Florian, hurtling into him with another well-aimed Pluck.

    As Hop was still in range, Florian charged into him with Take Down, the avian Pokémon sent flying as Florian utilized his full body weight against the Pidgeotto. He didn't get back up. Jordan quickly returned him to his Poke Ball.

    That leaves… Jordan clutched his remaining Poke Ball tightly as he surveyed the condition of Coralie's Bulbasaur. He was in rough shape, too. Between the weakened Florian and also battle-worn Stella Luna, the odds aren't looking too bad. He wiped a bead of sweat from his temple, before calling forth his last Pokemon.

    "Come on out, Spirit. Hit him with Retaliate!"

    Jordan watched as the Cubone landed and rushed forward. It was a less emotionally charged response compared to when he had seen Tangles fainted, but still a brutal attack. It's definitely something they'll have to work on; big emotions can be very powerful, but might leave him vulnerable if he doesn't know how to channel them appropriately.

    The attack was quite instantaneous. It seemed Cubone appeared in a flash and was on Florian like that. The Bulbasaur evidently took considerable damage, the power of said move being raised. "Hold on, Flors!!" Coralie urged, seeing how the Bulbasaur appeared slightly fatigued. "Use Stone Edge!" There was a momentary hesitation as Florian conjured up the stones, further evidence of his tiredness. The attack hit dead on, however. The Cubone snorted as the critical hit knocked him back, but recovered quickly, getting back up to deliver a Headbutt.

    "Dodge, Florian!" It was too late, as the order slipped past her maw, Cubone rammed its head into the Bulbasaur, knocking him back. He then sunk to the ground, indicating that he was in no shape to continue on battling. Coralie subsequently withdrew him. "Thank you, Flors. You did amazing." She extracted her next pokeball, cognizant that it was up to Stella. Her heart was racing, she drew her hand to tuck a stray hair behind her ears, firmly clutching onto Stella's pokeball. She was a bit nervous but even more excited. The outcome of the battle didn't matter to her, she was having a lot of fun, and that was far more important.

    Flashing a smile at Jordan, she sent out Stella-Luna once more, the bat-like Pokémon flapping about. "Ok, Stella! Show them what you got! Use Air Cutter!" The Noibat whipped up a razor-like wind at the opposing Pokémon. There was a momentary hesitation, and Coralie was promptly reminded that Stella was suffering due to poison.

    As the force knocked the Cubone back towards his trainer, Jordan knelt down. "No Bone Club here," He reminded Spirit. "Swords Dance, then Focus Energy."

    He watched as his Pokemon launched into his setups; Stella Luna should still be taking poison damage, if he was remembering correctly, so that should buy them some time.

    "Use Double Team, Stella!" Stella generated multiple copies of herself, so as to boost evasiveness and trick Spirit.

    "Ignore it, keep it up. Deep breaths." Jordan coached as Spirit closed his eyes, exhaling deeply as he channeled his energy. "Feint Attack," He called out, as the Cubone opened his eyes again. He launched into action, leaping up towards the group of Noibat. He swung his club through the illusions until his weapon met something solid and he drew close, striking down hard on the real Stella Luna.

    The attack hit, much to Coralie's displeasure. "EEEEEEEEK!" Stella-Luna hit the ground with a thud whilst her copies disappeared simultaneously. "Are you alright, Stella?" She asked. Her Pokémon collected herself off the ground and took flight once more, slightly pained due to pain, though Stella did her best to shake it off, so as not to trouble her trainer with worry.

    "Use Bite." Stella dove at the Cubone now, clamping down onto him with her teeth. He twisted and writhed to shake her off, struggling for a few seconds before putting enough distance between Stella Luna and himself to run at her with a Headbutt.

    "Dodge, Stella!! Fly up!!" It was at this moment where Coralie knew the poison was beginning to take its toll on her Pokémon, as she was unable to effectively dodge the hit and was knocked down again. A look of worry spread over Coralie's face and in that moment, she made a decision. Reaching for her pokeball, she called Stella-Luna back, not wanting her Pokémon to increase her suffering. Several gasps were heard from the arena at this unanticipated move. "Thank you, Stella-Luna, we'll get you to a Pokémon center soon!!!" She murmured, before turning her gaze to Jordan, she smiled at him and, tongue-in cheek, curtsied, raising the hem of her skirt slightly as she bowed.

    "Thank you for the battle, Jordan. I hate to disappoint, but I don't want to see Stella in pain like that. I'm sure you understand, right? I had so much fun, though!"

    "Oh? Oh! I- uh, understand." Jordan managed to get out - the battle ended more abruptly than he'd envisioned, and he didn't know what to say. "Um. Thanks for the battle, too!" He made very sure to not pull another 'good luck to you, too' this time at least, like he did in the first round. Stop. He pushed the moment out of his mind, cringing just thinking about it.

    But they won. They won! Jordan scooped up Spirit and beamed.

    So they will be off to the finals now.

    ...Against Gwen. Oh, boy.

    His smile faltered a bit as the thought of facing his next opponent's giant serpent enters his mind, and his nerves threatened to take over again. But he let Spirit and himself enjoy this victory, until they have to prepare for the next match, at least.

    Party

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Tangles
    Tangela | F | Lvl. 27 ↑ 29

    Ingrain
    Constrict
    Absorb
    Vine Whip
    Sleep Powder
    Poison Powder

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Hop
    Pidgeotto | M | Lvl. 29 ↑ 31

    Headbutt
    Pluck
    Twister
    Mirror Move
    Roost
    Wing Attack

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Spirit
    Alolan Cubone | M | Lvl. 25 ↑ 27

    Retaliate
    Focus Energy
    Feint Attack
    Bone Club
    Headbutt
    Swords Dance

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Sage
    Skiddo | F | Lvl. 25

    Tackle
    Growth
    Vine Whip
    Play Nice
    Razor Leaf
    Leech Seed

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Tiny
    Pumpkaboo | F | Lvl. 22

    Razor Leaf
    Shadow Sneak
    Confuse Ray
    Scary Face
    Worry Seed
    Trick-or-Treat



    ???
    ??? | ? | Lvl. -

    It appears to move occasionally. It may be close to hatching.​

    Inventory

    - Pokédex
    - Pokégear
    - 2-person tent
    - Tangles' plant

    TRAINERS (IC)
    Moon Stone

     

    Aquacorde

    ⟡ dig down, dig down ⟡
  • 12,514
    Posts
    19
    Years
    The Peanut Gallery
    (Round 3)
    Arianne, Casey, Coralie, Gwen, Jordan, Vera
    written by Aquacorde, Eleanor, Groc, Juno, Ninetales, and QueenNothing
    Five Stars Stadium, Late Morning, Friday May 31th

    [font="press start 2p"]► Gwen vs Arianne ◄[/font]


    It shouldn't bother him.

    Gwen's hesitancy, her checking in with Arianne… is that what people do, when they battle their friends? Do they hold themselves back out of care and fear of hurting the other? Casey drums his fingers on the edge of his seat. Maybe they do? But that's not what's bothering him, not really. It's bothering him that Gwen does. That Gwen has this apparent capacity for care that is only being expressed for Arianne. She hadn't had anything of the sort going on when she set Bead on him in that basement. Not when he and Pepper had been so obviously scared.

    Were they not friends, then?

    She and Vera certainly aren't. But that bothers him too. The capacity for kindness, concern, sportsmanship- that's all there in Gwen. And she used none of it with Vera.

    Vera's delicate, people can't be doin' that.

    Casey allows a frown to settle on his face as the battle continues.

    —​

    Still recovering from the... dramatics of Gwen's last battle, Jordan can't help but watch this one with intrigue. Not just at the Pokemon, but Gwen. It's not that she's not good enough to warrant her arrogance, but she was certainly very in-your-face about it against Vera. So it's just such a stark contrast to see how she's treating Arianne now.

    Jordan wonders which side of her he would see, if they face off. He's never really interacted with Gwen in a very personal capacity though, so it's hard to say.

    —​

    A Ninetales! He shouldn't be surprised, honestly- Gwen's been evolving Pokémon left and right. But there's something about a Ninetales that catches him off guard. Pepper, too, if his intrigued chirp is anything to go by. And standing up against Eric, even- there's power in evolution, no doubt about it. He knows this.

    Casey watches Ginger, and Ginger watches Pix.

    She knows it too.

    —​

    Ah. The "secret weapon" she'd been dropping hints about since they were in the lobby. Well, that's good to know, at least, but not any easier to prepare for with his team.

    Jordan instinctively grimaces for the Morelull as the Flamethrower shoots out, but breathes out when she's recalled before getting hit. He quietly watches, studying the newly-evolved Pix's moves. And his palms get progressively more clammy as he does so.

    —​

    Casey cheers loudly for Arianne, as he's been doing for most of the match, but an extra edge of hype surrounds the appearance of a brand new Zebstrika! The power of evolution to get on a more level playing field- he knows that idea well.

    Ginger watches quietly.

    —​

    "Oh, oh no." Jordan murmurs as he watches Ari hurry off the field. She kept a smile on her face, but even from where he's sitting, he can tell she's upset.

    So, that's the second girl speeding away after facing Gwen here. Not that it's uncommon for the losing end to be upset, but she seems to provoke something in people. Big emotions provoke big emotions, I guess. Jordan thinks to himself, thinking he's definitely also more of himself around Casey. And Gwen is definitely also a loud and expressive person.

    —​

    Ah, emotional, Casey thinks. But even upset, Arianne's sportsmanship far outweighs Gwen's.

    "She's taking it hard," he says out loud. Maybe if they were better friends, maybe if Jordan wasn't about to be on stage… maybe then he would have caught her like he'd caught Vera, said some sort of something. But all he can really do is watch her disappear back into the lobby alone.

    —​

    Throughout the entirety of the battle, Coralie sat on the edge of her seat, transfixed by the entire thing. She instantaneously noticed Gwen's different approach to this battle, as compared to her previous one. It was like night and day, and was something that Coralie found utterly perplexing, as Gwen seemed to lack her previous wickedness. Nevertheless, she was worried for Arianne through the entire battle, not wanting to see her dear friend get beaten down, yet cognizant of Gwen's imposing Pokémon. Arianne employed the use of several masterful strategies, such as her utilization of dig, and Coralie was proud of her for doing so. When Zebriska Inevitably fell, Coralie couldn't help but holler, "you did wonderful, Ari! Keep your chin up!! You'll beat them next time!!!"




    [font="press start 2p"]► Jordan vs Coralie ◄[/font]


    Hop up first against that Drifloon- "Lucky pick, honestly, that's prob'ly the best matchup Jordan could have." Casey winces as the thing's spindly little feelers wind around Hop, but- "Throwing a Flying-Type? That's not gonna get you very far." Coralie's never been the best strategist, sure, but she has two fliers. She should know what they are capable of!

    —​

    Casey and Pepper cheer loudly for Mirror Move- definitely the most fun of Hop's set!- and the removal of that nasty Ghost from the battle. Well, Pepper probably isn't cheering for the latter. But Casey is, and he once again has the confidence to lean over the rail to peer up at the second matchup in the sky.

    —​

    "Tangles?!" …is not a terrible option, actually, despite Casey's immediate reaction. Jordan needs to be able to reach, and shut down the Noibat's nonsense, and heal from hard hits, and Tangles- she's got it covered. Casey's instinctive pick of Sage is only based on what he knows Parsley can do, which- just because they're the same species doesn't mean their abilities are the same. So he yells louder, more positively, in hopes she can hear his encouragement over the noise of crowds and battle.

    —​

    As invested as he is in his best friend's semi-final tournament match... "Battles of attrition are so boring," Casey sighs. "Somebody do somethin' different already…"

    —​

    Francis had arrived back in the arena to witness the latter half of the battle. After determining that he should indeed fetch Courtney flowers, he had run off, hunting down an elderly florist and scaring her half to death with his erratic behaviour, constant fidgeting, and crazed disposition. She had offered to find him medical assistance, worried that perhaps he was suffering a stroke or a mental breakdown of sorts, but alas, Francis was just being himself. Once he finally vocalized that he indeed desired a bouquet, the lady reluctantly obliged. Francis knew nothing of flowers, so the florist decided for him, crafting a simple arrangement of oriental lilies in various shades.

    Now there Francis was, standing by the front entrance. He was overcome with fear, fretting over how he should approach Courtney and what to even say in the first place, clutching the bouquet with an iron grip. His feet were firmly planted in the same spot, as if he was mimicking Tangles's ingrain. He was all sweaty, gazing at the television which broadcasted the battle, as he was too paralyzed by fear to do anything else.

    —​

    "Look at Spirit go!" Casey is thrilled, really, to see that little baby from Cerulean growing up like this! In time to the Cubone's cracking Headbutt, Casey stomps down on the bubbling worry of impending evolution. It's fine! He can't be there yet. He's still just a normal Cubone, doing really, really well under Jordan's training!

    —​

    With her mind still elsewhere after talking to Sarah, Arianne only picks up on the final turns of the second semifinal. She's not sure what hit Florian to knock him out and she can't quite understand why Coralie decided to call back her Noibat but she gets to witness in full Spirit's great use of Feint Attack.

    In the end, Jordan wins. As sad as she might be to see Coralie out, Arianne can't help but think the boy deserves to get this far. If anything, she needs to stay above taking sides for one or the other…

    Gwen is going to win anyways.

    —​

    "Jordan? I've heard that name before, right? But where…?"

    Gwen has no memory of it, but apparently she went to school with both Coralie and Jordan. There's not much personal stakes here, but seeing Jordan's lineup over the course of the tournament shows her she's going up against someone competent. The finals probably won't be anything incredible like it would have been if Bethany never dropped out, but it'll still be fun.

    Right?

    Throughout the battle, she had been working out the details in her head of how she could take out Jordan's Pokemon. King against Spirit, and Pix for everyone else. And then there's Hop, who she doesn't have any type-advantages against without Custard, but he can't be too hard to get rid of. Sure, winning a tournament alone is enough to hype her up to high heavens. But when she thinks about how much more of a spectacle it could be if only it was Bethany! That's what she did all that training for yesterday, and it was all for nothing!

    "Whatever. It's not a big deal." She says under her breath. "I made it to the finals! If I'm gonna be a League Champion, I gotta get used to winning tournaments!"

    ----​

    A beat of confusion by the match's abrupt end bursts into a bellowing cheer- Jordan did it! He's in the finals! By way of forfeit, but that's just fine- Coralie made the right move there, and Casey commends her for it. 'Course, there's no way Jordan'll beat Gwen- but maybe- is there? Could he? God, that would be so cool! Casey wishes he could go hype him up, but- the match will start so soon, there's no time.

    Jordan knows what he'd say anyway, he's sure. He can just play an imaginary hype session in his brain and it'll work the same. Kind of. Maybe Casey could call him? No, Jordan has to focus. Leave him be! You trust him to be fine!



    "And there we have it, folks! Make some noise for your finalists!"



    CSS originally by Eleanor


     
  • 4,683
    Posts
    10
    Years
    • Age 29
    • Seen May 16, 2024

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      TRAINERS (IC)
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      TRAINERS (IC)
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      TRAINERS (IC)
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    Chapter 10: Finale

    👤 Ft. QueenNothing as Gwen Alanis 🏟️ Five Stars Stadium🕙 May 31st, morning

    The high he had been riding from all his victories so far quickly comes crashing down, as Jordan stands across the field from Gwen's giant sea serpent.

    He had anticipated this.

    He knew of two major threats on her team, at least - one being her Ninetales, and the other being the Gyarados in front of him, but knowing doesn't really make it any less intimidating. Maybe… it's the ability 'Intimidate'... he rationalizes to calm himself down, because certainly a lot of abilities affect people too, but…

    Hold on. No. What did she say to Vera?

    "Really? A Grass-type attack against a Flying-type?"
    Jordan grimaces, waving the thought away. That ship already sailed, but also, she said…

    "This shouldn't be a problem, especially not with Moxie."

    That's right, King's got Moxie, not Intimidate - that's probably why he bulldozes the competition. They should do something about that first.

    And they can.

    "A-alright, Tiny, let's go. Start us off with Worry Seed!" Jordan calls out, a bit more confidently now with some kind of plan. He tosses out the Pumpkaboo's Poke Ball, and she gets to work. It's almost comical watching her hover over the Gyarados; the two are so drastically different in size, but drifting just out of his reach, she manages to lob and plant the seed on King's back.

    "Fuck!" Gwen curses. "That's annoying as shit, but whatever, we're not gonna lose to a pumpkin! Use Bite!"

    King throws his head toward Tiny, briefly catching her between his fangs with a hard crunch. "Who cares about Moxie! King's awesome even without it!"

    Tiny recoils with a squeal, as her trainer sharply sucks air through his teeth. She's right, though - the thing is still a gigantic beast, regardless. What do we have, what do we have…

    Not much, really, in terms of effective moves. Tiny does have another trick up her sleeve though, so to speak.

    "Okay, let's Trick-or-Treat. And you know what to do from there," Jordan directs lightly. The Pumpkaboo's eyes light up brightly as she fixes her gaze on King, and suddenly, the serpent starts to glow. Before Gwen can react, dark, wispy limbs stretch out from under Tiny and lash out at the Gyarados, in the form of her Shadow Sneak. If King's screech is anything to go by, it must have hurt quite a bit.

    "Ooo, I've never seen Trick-or-Treat used in-person before!" Gwen gushes, almost forgetting she's in the middle of a battle. "That's so cool!..." Jordan feels his ears getting warm and he can't help but smile at the compliment, but the girl quickly gets her head back in the game. "No wait, now's not the time! King, Splash!"

    After harshly flopping his body against the ground, King becomes airborne, just like he did against Vera. With his sights set on Tiny, he roars and swims midair to his prey so he can again chomp into the Pumpkaboo with his blade-like fangs.

    Another squeal from Tiny. "Oh-!" Jordan also cries out in surprise as the Pumpkaboo comes flying back his way and drops into his arms. He shouldn't be surprised, but he is a little alarmed by how quickly she seems to be sustaining major injuries. Slightly panicked, he recalls her. "Good, it's okay." He murmurs as Tiny returns to her Poke Ball.

    Okay, now what?

    He… admittedly picked a somewhat awkward roster in trying to prepare against both the Ninetales and Gyarados. He doesn't really have a good answer for the Water/Flying-type, but figures Grass isn't the worst thing against him, seeing as he's yet to see a Flying-type move from him anyway. Grass will be kind of bad against the Ninetales, though. But hey, won against Geno, right? He reminds himself again that type advantages aren't everything, but has to concede that Geno is not really as strong of a trainer as his current opponent is.

    But he'd picked Tangles and Spirit again to fill the spots for his final match. So Tangles it is, for this battle. One step at a time. "Hit him with the Sleep Powder," He lightly pats the back of her head as the Tangela lumbers out to face King. The silvery powder rains down over the Gyarados in a fine mist and makes its way into his nostrils. A mighty yawn from King echoes through the stadium and it's not long before his eyes are sealed, sending him into a deep slumber, apparently not even minding his body crashing into the ground.

    As he's returned to his ball, disappointment can briefly be seen on Gwen's face, but it fades as quickly as it appeared, and another Pokeball is plucked from her belt. "Kid, you really dug your own grave, you know that?" She taunts, tossing out her next Pokemon, which is- what else- her Ninetales, complimented by the harsh sunlight.

    Ah. Jordan's not sure if he's sweating from the heat that's emanating from the fox Pokemon or just the terrible matchup he'd thrown Tangles into, but he can feel beads of it forming on his temples instantly, alright. He hastily wipes them away with the back of his hand.

    "Pix, Fire Spin!" The Ninetales spits out a ball of fire, aiming for the ground in-front of Tangles. Almost as soon as it lands, the ball expands into a fiery vortex that has Tangles completely surrounded, walling off any hope of escape she may have- Drought likely played a part in that.

    Okay, well, she's not staying in this. Jordan frowns - the only option he really sees here is to switch her out for Spirit. "It's okay, Tangles, come back!" He tries to find a good angle to toss out his Poke Ball, but it's kinda hard to see the Tangela through the fire. For that matter, she's not really helping; Jordan's eyes track Tangles' movements but it just looks like she's doing a little dance in the vortex. As the fire creeps up, though, he realizes what's wrong; she's trapped.

    Okay. Okay. Don't panic. "Okay! Okay! Don't panic!" He verbalizes his thoughts to try and calm down the visibly frightened Tangela, too, but it's clear his words are not helping either of them. "Um-! How about- let's try Sleep Powder again, yeah!" Action. Taking action will help. More than straight panicking, at least.

    Or so he thought, but as Tangles releases her fine powder once more, it does not go as smoothly as it did on the Gyarados. For one, their target was much larger then, but fire, as it turns out, is really good at burning things, and Jordan watches helplessly as the Sleep Powder is incinerated by the dancing flames.

    Through the vortex, he catches a glimpse of Tangles' big, round eyes staring back at him, communicating a clear, 'what now?'

    "Um. Don't worry! Keep trying it. Maybe- Poison Powder now, yeah! And wait. Watch the fire carefully, it has to dip-"

    Miraculously, as he coaches her, she does manage to time her Poison Powder just as the flames of the vortex warp and move, providing an opening. The purple dust hits Pix right in the face, slowly inflicting her and making her legs a little wobbly.

    "Shit! Pix, are you gonna be alright!?" Pix gives a slow yet confident nod, which is enough assurance for Gwen. "I gotta admit, timing your Poison Powder like that was pretty impressive! But not impressive enough to beat me, of course. Now Pix, Flamethrower!"

    Despite Pix's struggle to keep herself afoot, she complies by spewing a large stream of fire targeting Tangles, who clumsily maneuvers within the circle of flame to try and dodge it. It wasn't the steadiest Flamethrower, but still grazes her enough to hurt badly, and as the vortex around her rages on, the Tangela collapses. With no one left to trap, the Fire Spin gradually disappears, leaving just a ring of ashes surrounding the fainted Tangles. Jordan quietly returns her.

    Down to his last Pokemon already. He's not sure if he's making worse choices because he's getting tired, but Gwen's also made it this far and is seemingly unaffected. Her Pokemon are strong, though. Very strong. Much bigger. Evolved.

    Spirit emerges from his Poke Ball, club at the ready as he latches onto the Ninetales' back and starts laying into her with Retaliate. Jordan still needs more time to figure out how the move really works since the last two times, Spirit just seems to know even without seeing his allies go down. But for now, it's been serving them well in the tournament, so he lets the Cubone have at it without thinking too much about it.

    Pix isn't taking the hits very well, as she yelps loudly after each beating. Shaking him off doesn't seem to work, so a wispy fire floats out from her mouth and onto Spirit, leaving him with a burn. He hops off with a yowl, jumping around wildly.

    "Oh-! Calm down, Spirit, it's okay - focus. Do- try- let's do our Swords Dance!" Jordan tries to keep calm for the Cubone too, and helpful commands typically help pull focus. Spirit takes a deep breath as he starts to move in a more composed and graceful manner. When he finishes with his dance, he lunges towards Pix with his club.

    "Pix, get outta there!"

    Just in time for her trainer's command, Pix jumps up and crashes into the ground, disappearing and leaving a hole in her place. Spirit rushes over, but whirls around to face his trainer as he stands next to the now-empty spot his opponent had occupied.

    "That's fine, we'll wait - Swords Dance again." Jordan tells him. "Away from the hole." Hopefully, if he keeps moving, he won't be as easy of a target when the Ninetales resurfaces.

    Pix bursts out from behind Spirit, missing the attack, but that might not be to Jordan's benefit. Pix uses Hex, and purple flames consume Spirit, capitalizing on the earlier Will-O-Wisp. Jordan watches as he writhes in pain, even as the eerie light dissipates. He exhales sharply. "Spirit! You okay?"

    The Cubone nods, ever the trooper; drawing himself up with his weapon, he runs at Pix with Bone Club again and lands the super effective attack, sending Pix skidding back hard.

    "Come on Pix! Use Hex, Dig, something! Argh, shit, this isn't good!" Her increasingly flustered behaviour is reminiscent of the time he'd watched her fight Bethany; days ago, now, but she does seem to get agitated when she loses momentum.

    That's good for them, though, maybe. "Keep up the pressure, Spirit! Bone Club again!" The Cubone throws his weapon at the Ninetales, hitting her square in the forehead, before rushing forward once more. He catches the club with one hand as he keeps running, bowling into Pix with a final Headbutt to knock her out cold.

    "Fuck! No!" Gwen screams, pulling at her hair. "My secret weapon! Fuck!" She furiously rustles her hair, loosening her space buns in the process, but gives herself a hard slap on the cheek to collect herself. "Come on Gwen, focus! It's fine, I've still got two Pokemon left!"

    "Oh- um, are you okay-" Jordan begins cautiously, but she's still too lost in her head to listen.

    She begrudgingly returns Pix to her Pokeball, though looking at the Pokeball mellows her a bit. "You were awesome out there Pix. You did your best, but it's time to rest. We'll take care of the rest!"

    Gwen's third Pokeball is plucked off her belt, though this time it's not King's Lure Ball- likely due to Drought still being active. Instead, Bead, her Misdreavous, is sent into the field.

    "Bead, Confuse Ray!"

    A dizzying ball of light slinks its way over to Spirit, moving in a wave-like pattern. Spirit watches the sinister rays, fascinated, and before Jordan can tell him not to, he falls under the spell. The confused Cubone stumbles about, following the lights. And even when they disappear, the brightness of the stadium seems to keep him in a daze.

    "Spirit? Spirit!" Jordan calls out to him, but there seems to be no recollection in his eyes. While in the confused state, Bead uses Spite by flashing his eyes red and cursing under his breath.

    But they're still in the game. Disadvantaged, but standing. Jordan just has to get Spirit to snap out of this, and they still might have a chance.

    There's still a Gyarados in Gwen's arsenal, but…

    One step at a time.

    At least it doesn't seem like Bead has Hex. Or does he? Why wouldn't he?

    Jordan shakes his head. Focus. You, too! His mind is in seven different directions at once, and it's not helping. They need to do something. "Spirit! Come on! Focus. Deep breaths. Focus Energy."

    He exhales and inhales deeply as Spirit looks at him, trying to prompt him to do the same. After several deep breaths, Spirit starts to mimic him, calming down and channeling his energy.

    "Good… good. Feint Attack, when you're ready."

    Seemingly far more relaxed and composed now, the Cubone swiftly turns to his opponent and draws close, striking Bead in the back of his head. He's sent spiraling back, having taken a lot of damage, but oddly enough didn't really make any sort of attempt to dodge despite his weakness to dark-types.

    Bead almost crashes into a wall, but still has some fight in him left, and returns to his previous position to use Spite again.

    Jordan wipes the thin layer of sweat accumulating along his hairline again. The sun Pix brought with her is still beating down on them, but he is feeling the pressure, despite how deceptively well the match currently seemed to be going.

    Why?

    He can't help but feel deliberately toyed with; King not coming out could be explained by the harsh sunlight, perhaps, but there's no real reason Bead would be continuously using Spite. To what end?

    But he'll take it, for now. One step at a time.

    The Cubone launches into another Swords Dance to amp up his fighting spirit, but also eyes the Misdreavus suspiciously. When he's done, he seamlessly transitions into another Feint Attack and lands another hit on Bead. Once again, he torpedoes back, but somehow manages to still hang on, but only by a thread, if even. With how bruised and battered he is, he can't have much more in him, but if Gwen's incessant words of encouragement are a source of energy for him, he could be here all day.

    "Come on Bead, just a little bit more! Use Spite!"

    As the sunlight finally starts to die down, Bead flashes his eyes at Spirit for a third time.

    Jordan huffs, frustrated, and he can tell Spirit is as well. "Feint Attack!" He calls out recklessly, not even taking into account the actual damage Spite could have been doing. But what else could they do at this point, really? It's all they have against the Ghost-type.

    Feint Attack lands and Bead is hurled straight towards a wall, unable to continue. At long last he's down, and that'd be great news were it not for Gwen's final Pokemon.

    "Maybe I pushed you a little too hard," Gwen says as Bead is returned. "But you still did a great job! You deserve a nice long rest." The Pokeball is reattached to her belt, and a dreaded Lure Ball takes its place.

    The sun fades away, and the absolute biggest smirk forms across Gwen's face, flashing her teeth and all. She's so ecstatic that it's visible from space.

    "Alright, let's end this King!"

    There he is. The atrocious serpentine Pokemon boasts a mighty roar, and while it's not the kind of roar specifically used by predators to intimidate their prey, it's only reasonable a smaller creature would be shaking in its boots.

    Jordan can see the fear in Spirit's eyes, but he stands stoically, as tall as he can against the beast.

    "Finish this all off with Waterfall!"

    King is engulfed in a flurry of water that runs down his body, and like a raging current, he cascades forward. Without the harsh sunlight to hold him back, King crashes into Spirit with the raw, all-consuming force of a tidal wave.

    The reach of the flood it creates is so intense that water curls up the edges of the arena's barrier, splashing some of the audience members in the front rows. Jordan instinctively ducks as well, but couldn't avoid getting soaked.

    When he stands back up, he could see the battle is decisively over.

    "Spirit!" The Cubone drifts toward him, face down, on one of the residual waves. Jordan quickly scoops him up. The aftermath of the Gyarados' finishing move is slowly draining into the field's packed dirt ground, but they are still standing in a pool of ankle-high water.

    "It's okay," He cooes, holding Spirit. The Cubone is still clutching his club, lifting it weakly to indicate he can keep going. "We- we got to the finals! I'm so proud of you. And everyone else. It's okay." Jordan repeats.

    Gwen, meanwhile, basks in the applause of the audience, and who wouldn't? She jumps up and down, yelling her heart out over her victory. "FUCK YEAH, WE DID IT!!! WE FUCKING WON, AND THIS IS ONLY OUR FIRST STEP TO BECOMING LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!!!"

    This seems to incense the Cubone, who suddenly finds the energy to climb up on Jordan's shoulder and shake his club at the girl. "Come on," Jordan sighs. "Be a good sport."

    Stepping over the puddles as best as he can, he makes his way over to the center of the arena to shake Gwen's hand, but not before she receives a swift tap on the forehead from Spirit, getting a shriek of fear out of her. "Spirit!" He hisses, pulling him down. "S-sorry. Um, congratulations." Jordan takes a deep breath and holds out his hand.

    Gwen apprehensively stares at his hand and back to Jordan, her pupils darting between the two. "Uh… th-thanks." She says timidly, scratching the back of her head as she slowly returns the gesture. How the girl who just a second ago had the voice of an Exploud is all shy and quiet now is a mystery.

    "Wait… Jordan… I'm pretty sure I've heard of you before." Jordan raises an eyebrow, unsure of what to say. We… go to school together? We were camping on Route 9? Casey told you who I was right before this tournament?! He has a million answers, but watches as Gwen strokes her chin in contemplation. Once the answer hits her, she snaps her fingers. "Oo, oo, I know! You're the guy Witch Lady was talking about!"

    Well, that's not the answer he was expecting. "Sorry, what?"

    "Y'know, Witch Lady! The girl with the white hair and the pointy hat? I mean, that's obviously not her name, but I can never remember what it actually is so I- nevermind, that's not important! What is important though is that she said you like cartoons too!"

    "Um-" Jordan's very lost for words now; what a… truly peculiar way to remember someone by, but his main takeaway, and the first thing he blurts out is: "Vera? Talks about me?"

    He reddens, remembering where he is still, and quickly tries to recover. "I mean, cartoons. Like, um, Detective Greedent?"

    Gwen's jaw falls to the ground and takes a deep gasp. "Ohmygosh, I love Detective Greedent! Everyone else says it's for little kids and that they're too old for it, but they're full of shit! They don't understand the depths of the series because they're all dumb! Have you seen Reloaded? That's my favorite!"

    Jordan's eyes light up. "Yo- have I! I- probably shouldn't have watched it when I was so young, but my parents didn't know, and man, were they pissed when they actually sat down and watched an episode with me. But I think it's really misunderstood-"

    Just then, a crackle from the intercom, followed by a cough interrupted his ramble. "Thank you, and that concludes the battling portion here! Would the contestants please… continue their conversation in their designated seating area? And everyone, please await the final announcements for the tournament, thank you."

    "Oh. Right." Jordan glances up, seeing a few confused audience members looking on. He wonders how many could actually hear them. Shooting an apologetic look at the commentator's box, he turns to usher Gwen towards the door. "Yeah, let's get out of here first. Congrats again."

    Party

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Tangles
    Tangela | F | Lvl. 29 ↑ 31

    Ingrain
    Constrict
    Absorb
    Vine Whip
    Sleep Powder
    Poison Powder

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Hop
    Pidgeotto | M | Lvl. 31

    Headbutt
    Pluck
    Twister
    Mirror Move
    Roost
    Wing Attack

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Spirit
    Alolan Cubone | M | Lvl. 27 ↑ 29

    Retaliate
    Focus Energy
    Feint Attack
    Bone Club
    Headbutt
    Swords Dance

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Sage
    Skiddo | F | Lvl. 25

    Tackle
    Growth
    Vine Whip
    Play Nice
    Razor Leaf
    Leech Seed

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Tiny
    Pumpkaboo | F | Lvl. 22 ↑ 24

    Razor Leaf
    Shadow Sneak
    Confuse Ray
    Scary Face
    Worry Seed
    Trick-or-Treat



    ???
    ??? | ? | Lvl. -

    It appears to move occasionally. It may be close to hatching.​

    Inventory

    - Pokédex
    - Pokégear
    - 2-person tent
    - Tangles' plant

    TRAINERS (IC)
    Moon Stone

     

    Aquacorde

    ⟡ dig down, dig down ⟡
  • 12,514
    Posts
    19
    Years

    Final Feelings
    Arianne, Casey, Coralie, Gwen, Jordan, Vera
    written by Aquacorde, Eleanor, Groc, Juno, Ninetales, and QueenNothing
    Five Stars Stadium, Late Morning, Friday May 31th

    Casey can't be contained.

    Everyone knows that, Jordan most of all, and as soon as his best friend turns towards the exit and meets his eyes- Jordan's smile quickly morphs into a look of apprehension as he senses his intent, the gleeful grin spreading across Casey's face giving as much away as the stance he's taking to jump from the stands.

    And he's sprinting across the field, concerned announcer be damned, because hoisting Jordan (and Spirit) into the air with a crushing grip is the whole focus of his world right now. "Amazing, look at you, you did so much and you did so good! Second place, hell yes! You coached them super great, you hear me? You did it!"

    "Put me down, you maniac!" Jordan pleads, but he's laughing and grinning ear to ear as well. "Thanks though, I genuinely did not think we could have made it that far! They all did so good - yes, you did! We'll win it next time." He cooes, tossing Spirit up and down lightly. "We'll celebrate with the whole gang soon, think they really want us off the field-"

    "Oh, fine," Casey lets Jordan stand on his own as they meander off the field to the announcer's relief, but keeps him close with an arm thrown over his shoulder. "Let's go out somewhere! Somewhere fancy, 'cause you were so cool and kept it together so good. Gettin' way better at that!"

    His friend beams, and they duck into the shadows of the entryway, steered by an attendant to the healing station.

    Said entryway is where Arianne has moved to, in order to congratulate Gwen the moment she comes back from the field. She can do it, she feels up to the task, and knows that hiding further - after watching the final battle from the now completely empty Participants' Lobby - would only make her look bad. Jordan and Casey are the first to arrive though. And so… "Hey! Congrats for second place, Jordan! You… you stood your ground very well there!"

    "Oh- hey Ari, thank you!" The smile has not left the boy's face the entire time. "And back at ya, for making semi-finals. Gwen's… definitely something, though!"

    That's right, now that she thinks about it- Arianne lost against the tournament winner. Perfect. "You sure could say that! And not just in battle." The girl chuckles. "And uhm, thank you. I didn't-" Oops. "I didn't really expect to get that far actually. It just happened!" She runs a hand through her hair.

    "I didn't expect that either, not with Debbie going at ya like that first round!" Casey says, and the girl grimaces. "But you put up good fights, y'all should be proud!"

    "Ari!" Gwen shouts, running over to join her classmates. "Did you see just how awesome me and my Pokemon were out there!? King killed it!"

    "As usual," the other girl chuckles. "Congratulations for winning, Gwen! That Sleep Powder was clearly good for something, uh?"

    "I gotta admit, my opponent put up a pretty good challenge." She turns to Jordan, flashing a cocky smirk. "Not as good as me of course, but we can't all be the best."

    "Only one winner, o' course, but Jordan's still the best in my book!" Casey ruffles said boy's hair to the tune of understandable complaints.

    Gwen tries speaking up, but is too visibly flustered for words to come from her mouth. Eventually though she's able to get out a pouty "I still won though," with crossed arms.

    "Winnin' ain't the whole of things," Casey replies easily.

    "Honestly, the most important thing was how exciting it was to watch." Vera approaches the group, now dried and wearing a familiar (to some) sky-blue and pink shirt, an excited Bonnie in her arms. "That was a good match, and while I can't say I'm a fan of the way you use Waterfall, Bonnie here was very excited to see Spirit fight. He's becoming quite the warrior."

    "Oh, you guys." Jordan says in a pretend-flustered tone as he waves a hand in their direction, but the faint tint of his cheeks indicate not all of it is feigned. "You got Spirit blushing under his helmet too, huh?" The Cubone quietly murmurs something back, but tugs at the skull before coyly glancing at Bonnie.

    "Well look who it is." Gwen announces with a snarky chuckle at Vera's entrance. "Here to admit how good the girl who beat you is, huh Witch Lady?"

    "I don't know about good, but I'll admit you're strong. Overpowering, even. Take that as you will." Vera replies coldly, not even faking a smile.

    "She's actually here to congratulate her favorite boy." Casey doesn't hesitate to stick his foot in the conversation. "Since he was so cool and collected and clever and-"

    "Okay, but what about me?" Gwen cries in a jealous bid for attention. "I won! I was cool… right?"

    "Yes." Arianne chimes in, giving the other girl a friendly nudge. "I thought that was obvious!"

    Casey shrugs. "Sure, but we all knew you'd be good in a tournament. I'm way more impressed by Jordan! Progress is even more important than just winnin'."

    "Yeah, there's a whole crowd out there cheering for your victory." Vera waves dismissively in the general direction of the stadium, then lightly brushes her knuckles against Jordan's arm. "Don't be a sore winner, and let the silver medal enjoy the spotlight before it shines on you."

    "Of course you would say that after having your entire team wiped by King! But everyone else?" Gwen briefly looks at Casey before turning her head and blushing. "C'mon, I deserve some praise too! I won!"

    "Well, what about me? I got you down to one Pokémon too…" Arianne giggles, but backs down right after. "I mean, my Pokémon really tried their hardest and… yeah."

    "Good sportsmanship is praiseworthy in my book." Casey declines to elaborate on who exactly he thinks had particularly good sportsmanship, but at least two of his audience must know, right?

    "Heyyyy, everyone!!!" Coralie greets as she skips towards the group, lips curving into a bright smile at the sight of her agglomeration of former classmates and friends. "It's so good to see everyone!! Gwen, congrats, you battled so well!" Coralie directed her attention to Jordan momentarily, slight sympathy evident in her gaze. "You did great too, Jordan!"

    "There we go Gwen, if you need praise here's a volunteer." Arianne gives her a friendly nudge as she giggles. "What a class we are part of, uh?"

    "Good to see someone else here sees how great I am!" Gwen smirks. "...uh, wait, who the hell is she?"

    Someday, Casey will not rise to this. Someday he'll let someone else answer, or let it lie. But today, it's still an automatic sigh preceding: "Coralie Summers, your classmate of two years, enthusiastic about everything. At least take note of the hair? How many'f our classmates had hair that color? …no, nevermind, I know you don't know. It's five, though."

    Coralie giggles at Gwen's inability to recognize her and at Casey's explanation simultaneously. "Yep, that's right, Casey! Has it really been that long since we were all sharing a classroom together? My gosh, I guess it has!" She pauses momentarily, trying to calculate precisely how long it has been, while Casey mutters "not even two weeks" under his breath. "Anyways, what an exciting final battle! Oooh, it was so fun to watch! I can't believe the tournament is already over!!"

    "They do go pretty quick, huh?" Casey muses. "Somethin' to do with the level y'all're at, no doubt."

    "Oh, they look way slower from the actual battlefield." Arianne interjects, a hand running through her hair.

    "Hey, are we gonna go back to talking about how awesome I was or what?" Gwen flails her arms to draw attention to herself. "Did you see that finishing move? We put a lot of training into that!"

    As she continues to toot her own horn, a rather tired looking employee of the battle club approaches Gwen from behind to tap her on the shoulder, though she doesn't seem to notice. "Um, excuse me ma'am," The staff member speaks up. "We have a ceremony to get to very soon. Could we please have you move to the podium?"

    "...or how about when Pix used flamethrower underground when I was fighting Ari? You guys aren't just going to ignore that, are you!?"

    The employee exhales from his nostrils. Gwen's too lost in her own head to notice the man, and he's visibly frustrated. "Well, while I figure out how to get this one to the podium could I have the rest of you take a seat in the stands? Please?"

    Coralie giggles to herself. "Yes, Gwen, that was amazing, but um, I think there's someone trying to get your attention!"

    "The only person who should be getting attention is me! For fuck's sake, I'm the tournament winner!" She shouts, each word louder than the last. By this point the employee has gotten so fed up that he grabs Gwen by the arm and pulls her toward the podium. But amazingly enough, she's completely oblivious to this. "How many other Cape students have won this tournament? Probably not many. But I have! I deserve some recognition, damnit!!!"

    Casey crosses his arms, brow furrowed and breath taken, but by the time he finds the right words Gwen is finally on the other side of the doors.

    "Everyone here deserves recognition," he grumbles instead.

    ---​

    "Welcome everyone, and thank you all so much for attending today's tournament at the Five Star Battle Club! All of our young trainers fought tirelessly, but only one can come out on top! That's why I, Mack Roe, the owner of this club, am on-stage right now- to award our winner!"

    Okay, so maybe the applause from countless audience members makes up for a few of her classmates not admiring Gwen's skills as a Pokemon trainer.

    She stands wide-eyed atop a podium, surrounded by all the Pokemon she had registered for the tournament. Despite her ego inflating just a bit ago, the size of the audience is so overwhelming that she's pretty quiet right now, almost appearing modest. Unsurprisingly, of all her Pokemon it's Tusk who's the loudest about their victory, roaring braggadociously while flexing. Marshall looks pretty ambivalent though, as he stands still with his usual goofy smile.

    "This year's winner is an up and coming trainer from Cape College, Gwen Alanis, 15 years old!! At such a young age she surely has a promising road ahead of her! Why don't we go ahead and give her a big round of applause!"

    A woman in a suit approaches Gwen with a stiff smile and presents a trophy to her, which she timidly accepts. The trophy is golden, and whether its real or fake is something Gwen isn't able to discern, nor does she care to. The shape of it is pretty unique, being a Ledian figure atop a column all supported by a base with her name engraved on it. Before she can spend too much time appreciating it, the announcer walks up to Gwen with a case filled with evolution stones.

    "As a bonus for doing such a fantastic job, the tournament winner will also receive an evolution stone of their choosing!" He moves his mic away from his face and looks directly at Gwen. "Pick whichever you'd like! But only one!"

    "Oh, uhh… hm." Being limited to one is a little tricky since two of her Pokemon evolve with stones, but she decides to snag a Thunder Stone for Custard. She'll evolve Custard and Bead in the order she caught them in.

    "Excellent choice!" The announcer says before turning back to the audience. "Once again, please give a round applause to Gwen Alanis, today's winner!" He goes on, but Gwen has mostly drowned it out with more self-congratulatory thoughts. This is her first step towards greatness, and she'll fondly look back on this day once she becomes champion.

    She'll make sure everyone knows how great she is.


    CSS originally by Eleanor

     
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  • 1,660
    Posts
    13
    Years
    Vera Hill, Arianne Chandler
    Chapter 10 - A Long Awaited Moment
    Saffron City; Friday, May 31st, midday


    With the final round over and the winner declared, many people are leaving the stadium. Vera stays and watches Gwen accept her reward, silently praising herself for showing such sportsmanship, but wishes it would just be over with. She initially considered joining up with Jordan afterwards, but she's sure he has enough to deal with at the moment, and Casey will undoubtedly keep him company.

    Instead, she catches the attention of Arianne and pulls her back into the competitor's lobby, away from the crowds. There's no one back here but them, and no one else has any reason to come here. It's a good chance to talk without being interrupted.

    "Thank you for coming back here with me. I know this is unusual, but…" Vera starts off formally, choosing her words carefully, but she quickly gives up on that. "Look, I have to get this off my chest, and it feels like every time we see each other there's always something else happening. I'm sorry for running away back in Rock Tunnel. I was scared, but that was no reason to abandon you. Obviously you're okay now, but I just… needed to let you know."

    A somewhat tense Arianne eases up as Vera speaks. "Oh, uhm…" She mumbles, as if to buy some time. "It's alright, apology accepted! I could've been more careful not to get us split up, but things went the way they did…"

    Vera breathes a sigh of relief. She doesn't like thinking back to it, doesn't like admitting her mistake, but she's glad Arianne doesn't hold it against her. "Yeah, that was when everything changed for us. Or for me, I suppose… I guess that, plus recent events, have made me question some things. Things about myself, what I want… Arianne, am I a bad friend?"

    The other girl looks surprised. "N-No, I don't think so…" She mutters. "Actually, why would you think so? Is anything troubling you that… that's fine for you to share of course."

    Vera doesn't answer right away, thinking carefully. "After we… after I left you behind, I met Casey and Jordan. And it was fun, for a while. I felt like they were really my friends. But I keep… getting in my own way, and I wonder if I was ever a good friend. It hurts to say, but I don't think I treated them right. I don't think I treated you right, and even today, I just wouldn't stop fighting with Gwen…" She stops, blinking back tears that she hadn't realized were forming.

    "Vera…?" Arianne moves in, her eyes locked onto the other girl's. "Nah, I'm sorry if I asked too much from you today. I'm sorry that it ended the way it did with Gwen and that I couldn't help out a bit more. And…"

    A finger runs through her purple bangs. "I guess those things happen to everyone when we figure out how to be good friends. All friendships are kinda different anyways, too… so you're good."

    Without thinking, Vera reaches out, grabbing Arianne in a hug. She holds her for a few seconds before letting go. "You don't have to apologize for Gwen. She's just a lot to deal with, and I'm… I'm learning. Maybe I wasn't a good friend before, but I want to change that. You're a good friend, even if I haven't always been a good friend to you."

    Arianne gladly accepts the hug, chuckling slightly as she's let go. "Well… I'm learning as well, I think! I should've shared more nice moments with you, instead of thinking about this and that friend too… at Cape it wasn't quite like that!" She whispers, voice unsteady.

    "You're right, we were different back then. Things were simpler, I suppose…" She frowns as she thinks about it. "But you were always there, weren't you? Here I am, talking like I've never had a friend before, and I was totally sleeping on what you and I had. We should do something fun! Let's forget about Gwen, forget about Casey, just for a little while. We have a whole city to ourselves, what do you want to do?"

    "Forget...? I don't know if I…" Arianne evidently forces herself to smile. "Can I just forget Gwen? Or even… you know… my Cinnabar friends? Serenity... I'm not saying I can't do this but…" She shakes her head briefly. "Guess you're right. There's time for everyone, isn't there?"

    Vera smirks, putting an arm around Arianne's shoulders lightly, but possessively. "Absolutely! And I'm going to be selfish and keep you all to myself! And they're not here to stop me!"

    The black haired girl trembles as she's held. She's quiet, but her breaths get faster.

    "As long as I also say that it's… fine…" She whispers, this time looking more serious. "Whatever, I get that. We had something and we should work towards it again. I… I'll keep you to myself, too."

    Vera grins at Arianne, but notably tones herself down a bit. "That's what I like to hear. Vera and Arianne, working towards something! What should we do first?"

    The answer takes its time to arrive. "Uh… right! I was just introduced to this Pokémon Musical thing that will happen tomorrow… apparently we can sign up and have our Pokémon do some performance with us, something like that. On first look it sounds great after all of this battling! But… yeah, I don't have much more than that." Arianne sums it up. "Do you have more ideas, Vera?"

    "A musical, huh? That sounds…" Terrifying? Silly? Complicated? Vera doesn't know what to call it. "...right up your alley, actually. You thinking of entering?"

    "Hm… if my Pokémon were interested, I could!" The other girl smiles back, before looking down meekly. "They probably need that. After all, I put them through enough battling today, and still lost when they gave it their all..."

    Vera cups her hand under Arianne's chin, gently guiding her face back up. "Hey, none of that. You got farther than I did, remember? I know what it's like to give it your all and still come up short. That's not something to be ashamed of."

    She smiles as she moves her hand away. "But you're right. A break from battling would be good. You should enter! You love musicals, I've heard you sing. I'll even help you practice! Well, I'll try. You know I don't sing. Or dance. But I'll help."

    Arianne laughs at that. "Oh, when did you even… come on!" She runs her fingers through her hair again. "Thanks though. And… you know what, you should try as well! It's… maybe more similar to a 'contest' anyways so you and your Pokémon could still pull up a nice show. And…" she pauses. "Yeah, have some fun after this tournament."

    "Yeah, something fun! Plan a routine, get closer to our team, I even know of a costume shop here in the city. They have a good selection!" Vera runs her finger along the brim of her hat for emphasis. "We can get some practice in, do a little shopping, make something of the rest of our day! I think that's a great plan!"

    "Haha, you got excited real fast!" Arianne giggles. "Deal, I'm up for it."

    Vera's smile fades slightly, and she realizes she did get excited quickly. Why is that? An affirmation of friendship, maybe? Does it really mean this much to her? "Well… yeah. I mean, I thought you were mad at me for a long time. I thought I screwed up beyond repair. But it's good to hear we're friends. I kinda like it."

    "Aww," Arianne responds, before quickly hugging Vera once again. "I assume you're fine with it this time," she teases, chuckling slightly.

    The energy in the room, the warmth they share, Arianne's laughter and smile….it all makes Vera feel good. Happy, confident, bold even. She leans in, her face close to Arianne's, and before she can stop herself…

    "Vera? Are you really…" Arianne makes herself heard, while also nudging the other girl's shoulder. She's looking at her friend wide-eyed, slightly surprised, but still trying to smile just like seconds before.

    Vera steps back, covering her mouth with her hand. "Sorry! I'm sorry, I just… I don't know what that was. I'm… ugh." She turns away, arms crossed over her stomach. Too bold, Vera! What were you thinking?!

    "I'm sorry… are you alright? Sorry!" Arianne immediately replies, gesturing for her friend to go and sit down in one of the seats. "I feel like I shouldn't have stopped that…" she blushes slightly.

    "No, it's fine, I shouldn't have done that." Vera straightens, pushing a lock of hair back behind her ear. "I just… got caught up in emotions. I've been trying to figure things out, and there was just so much excitement just now, you know?"

    "Oh, true! You got me too with that, you know…" Arianne smiles. "You were looking so happy before I nudged you… so yeah, everything good? Anything bothering you?" She looks towards Vera intently.

    "Well… this is going to sound dumb, but I was told I'm a bad kisser. I don't like being bad at things. And the thought crossed my mind that maybe I just don't like boys. So I was here, with you, and feeling really good, so I just… went for it. I just really wanted to kiss you."

    "Oh. Right…" Arianne smiles. "Right! It's like I thought! Haha…"

    She leans on Vera, giggling. "If there's a bad kisser here it's gotta be me, I never tried like… on the lips. And I really wanted to let you hear that before it happens, so you know what you're in for."

    "What I'm… in for?" Vera finally looks at Arianne. "So, you want to? I can kiss you?"

    "Hm…" The other girl seems to be thinking about it, still. "I've never really wanted to do that, but I've seen it happen between like, couples, and it looks like a cute gesture, so…"

    Arianne looks towards the ceiling briefly. "If you wanna try, why not? Guess I owe it to you anyway after the times you helped me at Cape. Let's see what happens, right Vera?"

    Vera nods, putting a smile on her face. "Yeah. Let's see." She takes off her hat, setting it on the chair next to her, and sweeps her bangs out of her face. She turns to Arianne, who's just done the same, puts a hand on her shoulders, and looks into her eyes for a second, one last confirmation. Then she leans in and kisses her friend on the lips, holding it for a moment before pulling back.

    "Pwah… oops, maybe that wasn't so good…" Arianne is laughing, tongue sticking out slightly as she licks her lips. "Ok, actually, who said you were a bad kisser? How do you know it didn't work with boys? What have you been up to?" She keeps giggling, clearly still trying to process what's happening.

    Vera sighs. "It was Casey's idea. He wanted to test some idea, but I hadn't ever kissed anyone before. So… I kissed Jordan. And then Casey. And that guy, Xander, from the tournament? I just… I don't know, it didn't feel right. I thought it might be different with a girl."

    "So how was this?" Arianne quickly bounces back, excitedly. "Maybe… if those were just test rounds, but you really wanted to kiss me, then…"

    "Ha!" Vera laughs, finding Arianne's energy endearing. "Sure, why not? Come here."

    "I'll do better this time! I hope."

    And now it's the Cinnabar girl who tries to replicate what Vera did. They move closer, the lips touch, and… it happens again.

    Vera pulls away first, looking thoughtful. Just like before, she doesn't feel anything spectacular afterwards. Just some slight satisfaction of knowing, and gratitude to Arianne for sharing this with her. She grabs her hat, putting it back on her head with finality. "You know what? I don't think I'm a bad kisser. I just don't like it. And I'm not gonna let that get me down. Oh, how about you? How do you feel?"

    "Oh, well…" Arianne rubs one hand against her mouth. "Now that you said that I'm just… sorry if I didn't kiss you properly? Whatever that means? But…"

    She grins. "I'm happy. I guess I am. I got to help you feel better, we tried something out… it's been pretty nice."

    Vera nods, a small smile of her own tugging at her mouth. "It has. And after all, that's what friends do, right? We help each other out, we try new things together. Thank you for being a friend."

    Possibly knowing it would work better than a kiss, Arianne wraps one arm around Vera's shoulders one last time. "Of course!"

    "Alright, that's enough. This is turning into a bad Saturday morning cartoon." Vera laughs as she stands, offering Arianne a hand up as well. "We have the rest of the day ahead of us, and a musical to prepare for! Come on, princess. Let's get you ready for the ball."

    A joint post between Groc and Eleanor.
     
  • 4,683
    Posts
    10
    Years
    • Age 29
    • Seen May 16, 2024

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    Chapter 10: Five Star Lunch

    👤 Ft. Aquacorde as Casey Holt 🏙️ Saffron City 🕙 May 31st, Afternoon

    Gwen wasn't wrong - she's the victor and she deserves the attention, but Jordan can't help grinning and blushing like an idiot at his friends' assertive attempts to push him into the spotlight and celebrate his almost-victory, even if it's a tiny bit overwhelming. The way they cheered him on and praised his progress, one woulda thought he was the actual winner.

    Though as much fun as the tournament and the banter that followed was, he's glad when the ceremony finally wraps up. It was a rewarding but nerve-wracking experience, so he's relieved to be out of there at last.

    Relieved, and hungry.

    Thankfully, Casey is already offering to take him out for a celebratory lunch. More than offering; insistent, in fact.

    "Well, I am pretty hungry, actually - I'm feeling, like, a big, fat, meaty, fat double burger from The Smokin' Tauros-"

    Casey groans long and loud, the cutoff deliberate and expected. "You always want a burger! I'm offerin' a palate expansion; Saffron is the capitol of fancy eating an' you're out here talkin' about The Smokin' Tauros again-"

    "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought this was my celebratory lunch," Jordan sniffs, purposefully diva-like as he pretends to flick imaginary shoulder-length hair over his back. "But go on, what is your suggestion, then? I'm sure you've scoured GoodEats for the best, top-rated restaurants in the area already."

    "As one should!" Casey flicks through options on his phone. "Most of them don't have burgers, though. That's like, uncouth."

    "Burgers can be couth," Jordan argues, looking over Casey's shoulder. "Come on, what about the four-stars, then?"

    "I guess we can downscale a tiny bit," Casey concedes. "But we're going somewhere good. Only the best ingredients for my favorite boy!"

    After scrolling through the app together and a little more bickering, they decide on and arrive at a fancy-looking steakhouse that serves burgers and has a Casey-approved vibe. Within minutes of waiting at the front desk, they are ushered to a cozy booth by a hearth.

    "Bit warm for the fireplace, isn't it?" Jordan comments as he sits down. "It's May- oh, it's not real." His hand hovers over the dancing flames, but it appears to just be a projection.

    "It's ambiance. Do you want a drink? They have those fun fancy whatevers. Mocktails. I dunno, something to toast your achievements with. And an appetizer? Anything you want!"

    "Ooh." Jordan pulls the drinks menu closer as he flips through the pages of colourful beverages. "Let's see. I will have... a Blue Lagoon. Those Spicy Cheese Bombs in the appy menu look good too. Or do you want to share a plate of Cocktail Smokies...?" He trails off as he looks up, studying the strange expression on his friend's face as it twists in effort to keep his mouth shut, Casey's thumbs agitating the corners of the menu in his hands.

    "It's your choice," Casey sighs explosively. "Your lunch. I'll try whatever. You're, uh, not impressed by the cheese and fruit sampler? Or the charcuterie options?"

    Jordan scrutinizes the images of finely sliced meats and mixed berries. "I don't know, I think mixing sweet and savoury is weird. But we can get the board, I'll just eat the meats and cheese. Oh! Speaking of meats and cheese..." He turns his attention to the main menu. "From the shores of Alola, this burger really packs a punch..." He reads. "Look! Crabrawler patty. Okay, it's not meat meat but that sounds interesting."

    "It ain't vegetarian, that's for sure." Casey slaps his menu down with an air of finality. "Got mine! Cucumber and elderflower water to drink and- wait, do they say which pork this is?" He scrutinizes the menu again briefly. "Yes, beautiful, all the way from Paldea! Chops with apricot chutney with juniper-brined potatoes and fresh vegetables on the side. That is a dining experience, my friend."

    Jordan wrinkles his nose at the choice of drink, but he has to admit Casey's meal sounds pretty good, too. Could do without the apricot, but he might steal a bite of the pork. As one of the waiters approaches to take their order, they quickly relay their choices and he leaves again with the menus and a curt nod.

    "Hope they don't take too long, I'm ready to eat." Jordan rubs his hands together in anticipation. "Always what I hate about fancy places, they take forever." He lets out a long sigh, but stops abruptly as his eyes flicker towards Casey, not wanting to sound ungrateful. It was more of a sigh of decompression, not a complaint of the restaurant. "Thank you, by the way - it's been a day and I'm glad I can just relax in a nice place like this with you. Not a bad day or anything, just a little intense, you know."

    "Aw, yeah, it looked it. You held together good, though! Much better than against Hana."

    Jordan blushes, waving a hand in Casey's direction. "Aw, come on, don't bring that one up." Although he's more or less recovered from the shame of losing to the Water-type Gym Leader, it was still a bit of a sore point.

    "Nah, look, you made so much progress already!"

    "Yeah, I guess," Jordan tilts his head thoughtfully. He was an okay student at Cape, but there's a lot to be said for putting the knowledge he learned in school into practice - it was a little rough translating that information into actual battles at first, but he's starting to get the hang of it. "Not only did my Pokemon get a lot of experience out of this tourney, but I think I did, too."

    "Yeah, experience in not losing your cool just 'cause a pretty girl is in front of you." Casey winks at the waitress delivering their drinks as he says this. Her professionalism doesn't waver.

    "Hey," Jordan laughs. "I did pretty good this time. I mean, it helps that Coralie's like a little sister and seeing Gwen's previous beatdowns made me more anxious about the battle than… you know." He tilts his head, sipping his drink. "Wasn't the most composed against Olivia but I guess I never have to see her again."

    "Gwen intimidated ya, huh?" Casey sips his weird flower drink, clearly mulling something over.

    "Yeah… I mean, maybe not so much her, but some of her Pokemon." Jordan catches a glimpse of himself in the reflection of the polished cutlery on their table; his lips are tinted blue from the 'Blue Lagoon'. "Although the way she treated Vera? Kinda brutal."

    "Very." Casey drums his fingers on the table. "Wasn't appropriate at all. I wanna do somethin' about that."

    "Mm. Sounds vaguely menacing." His friend teases. "Somethin' what?"

    "Maybe I want t' be menacing. She ain't listenin' to reason. Maybe I… I dunno, show her up."

    "You wanna challenge her?" Jordan asks as the waitress returns with their charcuterie board. He reaches out for a slice of salami. Casey pushes a piece of cheese toward him.

    "Pair that together, c'mon. An' I mean- is that the way to do it? I'll challenge her. I can beat her, I beat her whole team last time. She's good but like, I'm better. Is that the move, though? We think she'll listen if I beat her?"

    Jordan nibbles on the cheese together with the salami as instructed. "Maybe. Well, she doesn't seem to listen to anyone who isn't better than her. Or- I mean, the way she treated Arianne was pretty different, but I guess they're good friends?"

    "I wouldn't treat you any different in a competition," Casey sniffs.

    "Thank… you?" Jordan's unsure what to make of that, but he supposes Casey's not as vicious as Gwen is against Vera, nor as… patronizing, if that's the right word, as she is against Ari. He shrugs. "Worries for another time. You ready for your thing? How are you feeling about it?"

    "Well-" Casey freezes momentarily, a Stantler in the floodlights, but that flighty look doesn't last long. "I mean, I've got next to nothin' thought of, but it'll work out. Just gotta find the right music, really! An' then train in a routine, I guess. I think I'm gonna use Pepper only- Parsley's not used to bein' big yet and Ginger's still havin' a bit of a fit about that whole deal."

    Jordan snickers at the thought of Ginger being dressed up for a show, given how much she enjoyed the costume shop. "Yeah, I think that's a good call, even Parsley- wait, what do you mean 'not used to bein' big'?"

    "Did I- aw, shit, I guess I didn't say- Parsley evolved!" Pride beams from Casey's broad grin. "Yesterday night, just runnin' around the place! And Ginger's so mad, but he's so so happy to be big an' strong an' faster, he's so much faster, it's crazy!"

    "Oh- my gosh! Congrats," Jordan's happy for his friend, but he can't help but feel a little behind - perhaps he should have put Sage in more of the tournament rounds, too. But they have to be close, his Pokemon; some of them, at least. "I wonder when Sage will evolve." He muses out loud. "I feel like Spirit is getting close, and Tangles - I hear it's not just experience alone for Tangela-"

    Casey puts on a pair of puppy eyes. "Does Spirit really have to evolve though?"

    "I-I mean, no? Maybe?" Jordan sighs. "Some fire on the team would be nice, though. And you've adjusted to Tiny fairly well already, far as ghosts on my team goes…"

    "I mean, I guess. But Tiny is- she doesn't do anything. Spirit's a fighter. He'll be usin'-" Casey's lips twist and press together- "ghost powers all over the place, won't he?"

    "Well, um-" Jordan furrows his brows in thought. He hadn't really looked into Spirit's post-evolution powers yet. He should. But he thought he had more time - for a while there, he'd assumed Spirit would evolve last of his Pokemon but he caught up quick, and then some. "I'm not entirely sure, but that is a fair assumption. But remember, fire! He's only going to be part Ghost-type, and that's not the part I'm looking forward to training the most, since-" I already have Tiny. He almost added, but thought it might not be most tactful to keep bringing up his other ghost as a defense for his impending ghost.

    "Since what? Since you gotta deal with me?" Casey quickly sticks his straw in his mouth, as if to shut himself up, but still stares into Jordan's eyes with anxious defiance.

    "Oh, come on- no, we just talked about this," Jordan sighs, thumb and forefinger on his temple as he leans forward. "Thought he's not even the kind of ghost you would be afraid of, with a corporeal form and everything. And here- look, we'll look together," Not that he feels a need to design his team around accommodating Casey - he doesn't think he does, at least - but he pulls out his PokeGear, and a few taps and clicks later he pushes it across the table, open to a page of Alolan Marowak data. "He doesn't even learn that many Ghost-type moves."

    Casey scrolls through the data reluctantly, but the tension drops from his shoulders at the same time as the straw from his mouth. "He really doesn't, huh? An' he's, he's not gonna go all spectral? Ever?"

    "Nah," Jordan replies, a bit more confidently than he actually is. He's pretty sure, though. "Will be nice to get that type coverage in here!" He muses, picturing Spirit throwing vague balls of fire at his opponents. "I did notice a lot of the others at the tourney had like, varied movepools, you know? Not just limited to their nature. Pix with Dig, Florian with Stone Edge, stuff like that. Heck, even Pepper with Bone Rush. Gonna try to incorporate that more with my Pokemon too, I think. I think… Tangles needs that the most right now." Sage too, maybe, but it was most apparent with the Tangela since she was in the tournament more and would be cornered quickly when facing hard counters. He sips the blue drink thoughtfully.

    "Not wrong. Havin' a half grass team limits you like, as a whole, too. You got any TMs? This no-buying rule is kinda ass sometimes since usually they won't learn that kinda off-type stuff without 'em, right? Unless she has some random ones that she can." Still in charge of Jordan's phone, Casey pulls up data on Tangela.

    "Mm, nope. No TMs yet." Jordan cranes his neck to look at the screen. He can't read well upside down, but the colour-coded typage of the moves give him a vague idea of what he needs to know. "Yeah… she doesn't seem to naturally learn many things outside of her Grass typing, aside from a few Normal moves here and there… wait, stop scrolling - what's that one?" He reaches out to point at a Rock-type move sticking out in the sea of green.

    "Ancient Power? Hits decent, good range, chance of temporary boosts to everything- wait, isn't this the-?"

    "Not as powerful as Florian's Stone Edge - that thing was yoked - but a Rock-type move would be good to have! Wait, the- oh. Ooh." Jordan pauses as he picks up on what Casey was also realizing.

    For some reason, he'd always just defaulted to assuming training and hard work alone will naturally help cause evolution, but some Pokemon do need something a little more, and a little more specific. Tangles is one of those Pokemon. "Yeah! This is the one! I'm- not sure how we're going to do it, but I think it's about time she learns Ancient Power." How do I…? The name of the move alone suggests something… primeval. Raw, mystical, even. "Well, more research will be needed." As he spots the waitress returning with large porcelain plates, he plucks his PokeGear out of Casey's grasp and puts it back in his pocket. "But for now - food's here!"

    Party

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Tangles
    Tangela | F | Lvl. 31

    Ingrain
    Constrict
    Absorb
    Vine Whip
    Sleep Powder
    Poison Powder

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Hop
    Pidgeotto | M | Lvl. 31

    Headbutt
    Pluck
    Twister
    Mirror Move
    Roost
    Wing Attack

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Spirit
    Alolan Cubone | M | Lvl. 29

    Retaliate
    Focus Energy
    Feint Attack
    Bone Club
    Headbutt
    Swords Dance

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Sage
    Skiddo | F | Lvl. 25

    Tackle
    Growth
    Vine Whip
    Play Nice
    Razor Leaf
    Leech Seed

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Tiny
    Pumpkaboo | F | Lvl. 24

    Razor Leaf
    Shadow Sneak
    Confuse Ray
    Scary Face
    Worry Seed
    Trick-or-Treat



    ???
    ??? | ? | Lvl. -

    It appears to move occasionally. It may be close to hatching.​

    Inventory

    - Pokédex
    - Pokégear
    - 2-person tent
    - Tangles' plant

    TRAINERS (IC)
    Moon Stone

     

    Eleanor

    Princess Era 🎀
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    Chapter 11: Celadon City + Route 7
    Starting date: June 2nd, Sunday


    Spoiler:


    •••​

    >> Route 7 - East Celadon Plains

    pic by boCuden on pixiv


    Moving west from Saffron, crossing this side of the Celadon Plains is a lovely, easy walk across relatively flat farmland. Setting out in the morning, one would expect to make Celadon proper by the same evening. Trainers conveniently have the right to wander, and therefore the right to make camp at the edge of any field or pasture, though if you ruin crops or irritate the resident Pokémon- that's your mistake to deal with.

    The Pokémon you will find as you meander across the plains are limited- mostly birds, who are swift and skilled at stealing crops from farmers, and smaller creatures who make their home in the windbreak hedges and tiny thickets of trees at the borders of fields.

    AVAILABLE POKÉMON
    Pokémon are at around level 25. You can give them any move that they learn by level-up, up to their level, as well as any ability they may have.


    Pidgeotto // Taillow // Spearow // Farfetch'd // Doduo
    Weepinbell // Gloom // Skiploom // Tangela // Meowth
    Burmy // Ledyba // Beedrill // Butterfree​

    EVENTS / PROMPTS

    FARM WORK: Anytime you're in the area
    A few farms on the western side of the Celadon Plains have started to enlist the help of trainers and most importantly, their Pokémon, to take care of various tasks around the fields. Now that it's June, it's time to pick up some of the first berries and make sure the rest of the crops are growing well, removing weeds and watering the new sprouts. Oh, and obviously, making sure no wild Pokémon come in and disrupt all that hard work.

    You can leave your Pokémon in custody of the farmers for about one day, morning to evening (and describe at least loosely what they'll be up to). This will let your Pokémon gain some levels! You can only bring one Pokémon per day, though.
    The levels a Pokémon can get depend on the level it currently has!
    • 20 or less = 4 levels.
    • 21→30 = 3 levels.
    • 31→40 = 2 levels.
    • 40 or more = 1 level.

    >> Celadon City

    image from https://www.yayashin.com/portfolio/japanese-garden/

    Celadon City has been hard at work to restore its image since the notorious Team Rocket was flushed from its dingy underbelly. Sure, there are sketchy pockets here and there yet- teen gangs trying to emulate those iconic criminals are an ever-present burden on the locals- but for the most part, Celadon is flourishing under its straightlaced city council. Saffron may have overtaken them in terms of both population and as a shopping destination, perhaps in part due to Saffron's acceptance of Tomorrow Foundation projects and Celadon's rejection, but Celadon has retaliated by throwing everything they have into the city's famous festivals and social events. Not a month goes by without Celadon hosting a city-wide party, and there is never a week without a smaller public gathering to tide people over! This all is much to the delight of those needing a break from their studies at the world-renowned Celadon University.

    The famous department store still stands as Celadon residents' primary stop for goods, but many local farmers and gardeners have carts and stands dotting the streets to promote their smaller-scale endeavors. Flowers, tea, incense, and honey are all extremely popular here- promoted extensively by local gym leader and councilwoman Erika Fujiki, of course!

    But not everything can be bright and light and happy all of the time. With deep regret, the city council allowed the Game Corner to stand, and even to expand its operations into the former Team Rocket hideout in the sub-levels. As much as it attracts a questionable crowd and is certainly the center of the rough part of Celadon, the vice taxes pull incredible profits with which to fund the city's grand festivals.

    The Game Corner is an 18+ establishment. Palm, your guardians, and the authorities thank you in advance for not interacting with it.

    CELADON CITY GYM - Erika Fujiki - Grass
    Celadon's gym is surrounded by a wonderful park that truly makes the most out of its position- the more hilly, north-western side of the city. The traditional one-story building which hosts battles in a large, scenic central room is humble, warm, and welcoming, with wooden beams and red accents. The surrounding, expansive park is lush and colorful with meticulous landscaping, and many locals can be found taking a stroll here nearly any time. It will be no surprise to know that Erika is one of the head planners of the park that embraces her gym, and that instead of waiting for challengers inside her gym, she'll most likely be out and about in the place that makes her genuinely happy. Fear not, though, for it will be quite easy to find her by just asking around or exploring the park.

    image from zerochan
    Erika is a refined, sensible woman who prefers not to rush and likes her moments of relaxation… which range from tea parties, to flower arranging, to frequent naps. It almost feels like time flows slower when she's around- first, because she still looks quite young and still wears her traditional outfits rigorously, second, because she's often lost in thought and very calm even when you wouldn't expect her to, and third… because of her battle strategy.

    Erika employs a lot of Sleep strategies and uses many health-draining moves. She does this to incapacitate her opponent and buy herself time to bolster her defenses further and further, so that she's prepared for anything they may throw at her later. Her patience and ability to command a battle's pace is legendary. And she does this for a reason: this is a battle to test your mental fortitude. It will be long and arduous and push you to your limit- and perhaps past it.

    Her preferred battle format is still 3 vs 3 Singles, much like the other Gym Leaders you've faced, with a maximum of 3 switches allowed on each side. She'll always use Vileplume in battle, being her favorite and ace Pokémon, but may change up the rest of her team depending on who she's up against. After your first battle against her, she'll offer you a TM for Giga Drain as an encouragement gift.

    Notice the use of "first" battle. Trainers are often surprised (and irritated) to find that Erika will always offer a rematch (and a more comprehensive review) to graduating trainers. It's something worth doing, for her initial aim is to draw out a trainer's true struggles and her expectation is that trainers come back to show they have learned to overcome such pressure. To clarify: this means all trainers will lose their first match against Erika, and coming back for a rematch is the expected path.

    All of her Pokémon are female.

    :t045: VILEPLUME - Chlorophyll
    Sleep Powder, Petal Dance, Sunny Day, Moonlight, Dazzling Gleam, Gastro Acid
    Vileplume really acts as a jack-of-all-trades in Erika's team. Her typical strategy is to put opponents to sleep and set herself up to deal as much damage as possible with little risk, but her main quirk is how well she can use her moves both offensively and defensively, depending on the situation.

    :t070: WEEPINBELL - Chlorophyll
    Sleep Powder, Sunny Day, Growth, Vine Whip, Leech Life, Swagger
    Her strategy may be similar to Vileplume's, but Weepinbell is more mobile and likes to attack physically. She's mastered using Vine Whip as a great mobility tool, and will often jump down on opponents from unexpected angles.

    :t002: IVYSAUR - Overgrow
    Grassy Terrain, Grassy Surge, Skull Bash, Leech Seed, Safeguard, Sleep Powder
    Ivysaur thrives in Grassy Terrain, which it can use to strengthen her defenses or make her attacks faster and more powerful. As opposed to Weepinbell, she's more of a bulky attacker, but her agility in the Grassy terrain may surprise you!

    :t114: TANGELA - Leaf Guard
    Sleep Powder, Ingrain, Giga Drain, Ancient Power, Leech Seed, Bind
    Tangela is entirely focused on outlasting opponents. She'll plant herself with Ingrain and use the roots to execute her other moves, trying to keep the opponent in the fight and exhaust them.

    :t188: SKIPLOOM - Leaf Guard
    Cotton Spore, Synthesis, Acrobatics, Sleep Powder, Encore, Sunny Day
    A battle against this little one may soon turn into a very frustrating target practice for you, especially with the added protection of the harsh sunlight and the annoying factor provided by Cotton Spore.

    :t102: EXEGGCUTE - Chlorophyll
    Hypnosis, Gravity, Extrasensory, Mega Drain, Reflect, Light Screen
    Exeggcute may not necessarily be that strong or resilient by herself, but can provide great support for all her teammates, and draw out battles with her Hypnosis or defensive screens. Gravity can really throw opponents off, and is one of Erica's favorite surprise tactics.


    EVENTS / PROMPTS

    WELCOME TO CELADON:
    One of the stands on Celadon's market is run by the twin brothers Paul and Lee and sells products from one of the largest farms near the city. It's easy to spot, if nothing else because it's essentially divided in half: Paul takes care of one half and sells all sorts of flowers, fruits, and seeds, whereas Lee takes care of milk and dairy products.

    Paul and Lee are somewhat famous around trainers because they'll be more than happy to teach your Pokémon some moves. It's a nice gesture to passing trainers, as well as an interesting way to promote their work and their products.
    Paul and his Sunflora will be happy to teach Aromatherapy, Synthesis, or Morning Sun to one of your Pokémon. Lee and his Miltank will help you to have your Pokémon learn Heal Bell, Soft-Boiled or Milk Drink.

    Paul and Lee are also happy to loan out reusable TMs for Refresh, Slack Off, Recover, Moonlight, Wish, and Aqua Ring. But in this case, you may need to train your Pokémon on your own for a bit before they can master their new move.


    CHOSEN FEW:
    In the gardens, sticking close to the gym building, a familiar face to all is hanging around with a familiar face to some. Trainers may either notice them or be approached by them, but either way- Beaumont Tayloz and Jarmie Katalan are seeking assistance only from very specific Cape trainers.
    Reward? Plot stuff~ If you want to meet up with Beaumont and Jarmie, just let Anna know, as she'll be playing as them for this event.


     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Aquacorde

    ⟡ dig down, dig down ⟡
  • 12,514
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    19
    Years
    Casey Holt
    Friday, May 31, 2019 // ~5pm, Day 12
    Saffron City
    10-27. follow the light

    Spoiler: dreams and disasters - owl city

    Ideas speed across Casey's mind like the wispy clouds through windy sky above, thoughts dancing to a frantic melody- not the one he's finally settled on for their routine, but one of looming deadlines and unpreparedness. People usually spend more than a day on choreography, don't they? Honestly, he's not even spending a day- he's got what, sixteen hours until the show itself? And half of those will be spent sleeping, and then he'll have to get to the venue early for Kel to do his makeup, and how much training can he really squeeze in to make these vague visions he has come true?

    At least he's got the song, finally. At least he's decided on and bought an outfit. But what else? What else? He's running on the hope that the stadium can be darkened- a fire show is more impactful in the dark, isn't it? He'd seen shades on some of the upper windows- he thinks, he's not sure, doesn't know. He'd meant to look after the tournament, but had been so caught up in having fun with Xander, his draining goodwill for Gwen, his excitement of Jordan making the final- well, he'd just forgotten. He'd meant to check out their prop collection, too. But now he's left with the challenge of creating a routine out of only what he himself can bring to the table, since he'd forgotten. Can't rely on things you aren't sure exist.

    Oh boy.

    With only a bit of acclimation, Pepper's little flares are quick and precise as ever, and he's even able to release them in a lazily floating spark despite not having practiced that since playing with Noel and Luna. But as much peace of mind and versatility as that gives Casey, something else has been pinging at the back of his mind for ages- and of all people, it had been Vera who had given it voice.

    Casey sits up, Parsley not caring to move much even now released from his stint as a pillow. Ginger skates wide circles as she chases Pepper's Embers, ice coming freely and easily now even under the late afternoon sun, and Casey almost gets distracted wondering if the flash freezes are having adverse effects on the plants. But he shakes the thought out of his head. Focus. "Pepper, flare your tail, huh?"

    Pepper obliges, and the flame easily doubles in size. Perfect. "You know how you can use Slash with all your claws?" The Charmeleon nods, in a yeah, duh kind of way. "Okay, and like how you can use Staff Rush through different things?" Again a nod, but this time with the uncertainty of not knowing where Casey is going with this. "Well I'm thinkin'- why can't you shoot fire out your tail?"

    Pepper pulls his tail around to his front and examines it curiously, as if also wondering this same thing. "You can flare it up, right, so you have control. So you must be able to do a full attack out of it."

    Pepper nods slowly, contemplatively. Clearly he's never thought about it this way either. But Vera earlier had shown them- inadvertently- a limitation that neither of them had thought of before, even though they'd exploited the same in others before. And as soon as Casey finds a limitation, well- he's going to find a way around it.

    "If you can't send fire out your mouth for some reason- we should have options, right? Gotta be versatile, don't we? Straightforward don't win a match anymore." Not that winning had ever held much weight for him. It's more about being able to do- well, to do whatever they please, in any circumstance. To make the most of all their abilities. To experiment and have fun and find joy in what they can do. To be as adaptable as possible.

    "I guess you just push fire through your tail then, huh?" Pepper nods as Casey pops up to his feet and begins to circle his Charmeleon, Ginger matching his trajectory directly opposite. "But you gotta release it in bursts."

    The tail flame blazes bigger, forcing Casey to step back and Ginger to trip over watery steps. And just as quickly the heat subsides, Pepper scratching his head with a quizzical claw. Twice more he tries whatever he is trying, and twice more his tail flares and recedes.

    "It's not coming off?" Pepper shrugs and shakes his head. Guess not. "Maybe try… try swinging it. Like you're gonna shake it off."

    Pepper obliges, sweeping his blazing tail in a circle. Ginger clears it with an easy spring, but Casey can feel the heat on his shins as he skitters further back. "Ah, shit, uh- my bad," he finishes weakly, as Pepper immediately shrinks down into himself. "No, hey, my fault, I gotta stay further away when we're training this. Look," he takes a few paces back. "This'll work! Try again."

    Pepper does- reluctantly, so of course that one wouldn't do much. It takes a few swings to psych him back up- really it's Casey's gleeful awe when his Charmeleon throws off some sparks that bolsters him again. But that's as much as ever happens- many tries later and all they have is still unpredictable, tiny embers fizzling no more than two feet away from where they drop, hardly potent enough to need Ginger's clean-up service. Well, it's not all they have- they also have a large ball of fire concentrated at the tip of his tail, so large it leaves a trail halfway around the sweep. And that's pretty cool! But not what they're trying to make happen.

    "Y'know, maybe you can't throw from your tail." Pepper huffs and puffs and stomps in response. "Hey, don't give me that! We don't give up, we try a new angle." What that angle may be is a mystery, but Casey tends to solve things by speaking them, so speak he does. "What if… what if Ember's not actually like how I think it is? What if Ember is just a tiny, cut-off Flamethrower?" That's not entirely what he means, but the details would get in the way of the flow. "And if it's just a cut-off, uh, beam I guess, maybe it's that… your tail can't cut it off, because there's already too much fire there? Maybe if you just pushed that fire into a steady stream, then- then you can do a Flamethrower out of it. Yeah?"

    Pepper pulls his tail in front of him, concentration etched in the glow of expanding flames. Orange, then yellow, then white-gold light engulfs Pepper's features, shadows twisting and turning and shifting until a blinding white-gold, then yellow, then orange jet of flame shoots high into the sky above and vanishes, leaving a surprised Charmeleon lit only by the fading sun.

    "...Huh. I think we're gonna have to tone that down a bit."

    Pepper Bomb • Charmeleon • lv41 | Ginger • Buneary • lv39 | Parsley • Gogoat • lv38
    Casey's Profile | Extra Characters | Art Gallery | Current Chapter
     

    Eleanor

    Princess Era 🎀
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    art by Aquacorde
    Arianne Chandler
    Saffron City
    Friday, May 31st, afternoon

    with Groc as Vera Hill


    Dazzling

    After the tournament, Arianne and Vera have plenty to discuss about the upcoming showcase. Vera leads the way to a costume shop, but not before the two girls stop for a quick lunch.

    "Look, if you want something fancy, you should ask Casey," Vera had said. "He knows fashion and all that. I just happen to know of a place that has a wide variety of fun clothes, and the owner thinks I'd be a good model, so you know he has good taste."

    When they actually arrive, Vera lets Ariannne explore the area a bit before asking many questions. "Anything in particular you're thinking of? A theme, a color, any… what's the word, motifs?"

    The other girl still appears to be somewhat distracted. Not only does she have her own Pokémon on her mind, but now even Casey. Mostly thanks to that training session she had with him, still lingering in her mind. So he's also a fashion guru now? What's his style really like?

    "Oh, right. I…" Arianne collects herself. "I did say I wanted my Zebstrika to come with me to the musical. I'm sure she's sad about the tournament so I wanna make her feel better. I want to prove she's strong and powerful. That's the main… theme, I think."

    Vera frowns slightly, lifting an eyebrow. "Okay, that's nice and all, but it's not a very good theme for a showcase. It's a performance, you need something to help you stand out. Hmm…"

    She looks around a bit, heading over to a rack of various coats and jackets. Rather than one of those, she grabs a black cape embroidered with white stars, slinging it over her shoulders where it stops just past her waist. She lowers her head, her wide hat hiding her eyes. "Look at how I'm dressed. Bring anything to mind? I look mystical and mysterious, and if I bring out Ebony…"

    She tosses a ball, the shy Misdreavus appearing on command. The motion moves the cape so it no longer conceals her, but billows dramatically behind her for a moment. "...we're ready to do some magic! And we'd have a magic show for our act." Ebony looks unsure, wide eyes darting from Vera to Arianne as he slowly slinks into the coat rack.

    Vera scowls as she returns him to his ball. "So I'll ask again: what kind of theme are you going for? What will you and Zebstrika do to make her happy?"

    Arianne still flinches. Maybe it's about time to find out for real: and so, in just a flash of light, here she is, standing inside the store as Arianne gives her a few pats to calm her down.

    It's not the best idea to have a now… sizable Pokémon inside that kind of store - case in point, one of the Staff members is clearly looking at the girls in distress - but luckily, the Electric-type doesn't hit anything and remains collected. It's not really in character for her, but it does make sense…

    As appreciative as she is for the pats, Zebstrika looks downtrodden, a grumpy expression on her face. She looks around warily, while her trainer beckons her to a more open spot inside the shop. Arianne's got the words all ready to go in her head.

    "I'm sorry for how the battles went… but we got this. We'll show everyone what you're capable of, and nothing will stop you!" The girl whispers, before talking her Pokémon through her plan and slowly getting her hopes up. Deep down, Zebstrika and Arianne are pretty similar…

    The Cinnabar girl happily reports back to Vera. "Looks like she's on board! We'll just have to show off and look… dazzling, you know? And…" She takes a look at the other girl's cape. Dark, but with white stars… "going by that, I might use an outfit like yours. Let's see what they have!"

    "Dazzling, you say? I think I saw something sparkly over this way." Vera chuckles as the two look at various costumes. "I bet some gems would look good on you. Something shiny and flashy to really catch the judges' eyes."

    A few outfit changes later, Arianne seems to have found a dress she likes. It's a somewhat simple black dress, but with the finish it has, it seems to sparkle slightly, and is the perfect base layer on which she can add gems and shiny accessories like there's no tomorrow. It's just an experiment, but she may as well act like she's already at the Musical - and so she starts walking around the place with all of that stuff on, up towards a corner that seems to be meant for photo shoots.

    That's when the Cinnabar girl and her Pokémon notice something on the background wall that might come in useful. "Shiny and flashy, right Vera?" She giggles, standing right next to a string of LED lights that's hanging from the ceiling. "These sure can't be beaten! I just wonder… how I could use them."

    "What, you want to wear the lights? Like a belt or something?" Vera asks skeptically, but slowly starts to talk herself into it. "Or I guess we could work them into the dress itself. You do have an Electric type, I guess it could work. Probably not many people with light-up clothing in this, that's for sure."

    "If you put it that way… I'm not sure if it would fit well in the Musical…" Arianne mutters, thinking about scrapping that idea, but soon eases up. "It does fit with my own theme though. That's enough, right?"

    She walks back and forth along the wall, posing for fun in front - or behind - the lights. Her Pokémon looks at her with some mild curiosity.

    "Whatever, let's go for it. And let's make it bright and colorful!" She cheers herself on, with Zebstrika seemingly up for it as well. "Is that what you meant when you told me to get ready for the ball?" Arianne chuckles once again.

    "Ha! You know, I just meant like a nice necklace or a tiara or something, but I guess I wasn't thinking big enough. We'll make you a shining diamond! Can't wait to see what you have in mind for your performance."

    "That is… not much at the moment, but I got the basics down thanks to you. Now that you've given me some ideas, I'm sure I'll figure stuff out!" Arianne smiles. "We'll be the coolest trainer and Pokémon they'll ever see!"

    "That's the spirit!" Vera grins as they go to pay. "And all this is for the competition, so it counts as a journey expense. I'll help you make your outfit, if you want. I'll do what I can to help you prepare."

    "Ooh, thanks!" the faintest blush shows up on Arianne's face. "If you need anything, count on me!"

    TEAM:
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Eric, lv. 41 •
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Espurr, lv. 28
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Zebstrika, lv. 34 •
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Alice, lv. 19
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Lulu, lv. 37 •
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Mizar, lv. 23
     

    Aquacorde

    ⟡ dig down, dig down ⟡
  • 12,514
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    Casey Holt
    Saturday, June 1, 2019 // Morning, Day 13
    Saffron City
    10-28. follow the sun

    Spoiler: follow the sun - evermore

    The murmur of the crowd gives way to an appreciative applause, the performer before him having concluded their act. Casey checks the mirror once more, silver-nailed fingers fluffing his hair while keeping chunky mirrored bangles from pulling any more out. Pearlescent makeup shimmers across his clean-shaven face, accented by the mirrored appliqués covering most of his halter top and the silver fabric draping loosely around each leg that cinches above bare feet he's hoping he doesn't regret. Pepper shoves in front of him as Casey adjusts the silky scarf around his waist, intent on examining himself as well- not that there is much to scrutinize besides the gold paint covering each claw and wide gold choker clasped around his neck.

    "Our turn to have fun," Casey grins down at Pepper's reflection, and gets two thumbs up in return.

    "Places, please," a stagehand murmurs, and both human and Charmeleon scurry to their marks behind the yet drawn curtain.

    The stage goes dark, light even shuttered out from the skylights.

    Casey breathes out, synchronous with Pepper.

    The drums begin to roll, the curtain sweeps aside.

    Pepper marches downstage, tail swinging side to side with every step, every beat, flame atop it the only light in the stadium. Shadows dance away from flickering fire as Pepper bows and twists, sweeping and arching to the entering melody as Casey approaches out of the darkness, firelight illuminating every facet of shimmering silver.

    Come in close to the fire now
    I want to see you a little brighter now

    The whoosh of flames answers the song's call, Pepper's tail flaring bigger and brighter and shining back to the audience via Casey, who takes a small, soft step away even as Pepper pivots, gold-clawed hands reaching for Casey's, just as practised. Hand in hand they circle each other;

    We walk a world that's turning, love
    The destination is the journey, love

    and in a fluid movement Casey, facing the audience, whirls Pepper up and onto his bare shoulders, rejoining the beat in a spinning march in place while Pepper floats tiny Embers around them to fall in a natural spiral until they come to face the audience once more.

    Let's follow the sun until the shadows fade

    Heat bursts above Casey as Pepper flares his tail as big as he can manage, stark shadows below proof of accomplishment. Casey grins wide and drops into a sweeping spin, Pepper curbing his flame and rolling down his outstretched arm toward the back of the stage, popping out of the roll and into a flaring, trailing tail-sweep. Casey doesn't move but for his outstretched arm to raise to the sky,

    Just lift your eyes and follow the sun

    Pepper following suit with a neck craned to the heavens and a building Flamethrower released from his gold-clad throat as a bursting cloud of flame.

    Black smoke rolls across the stage, at waist height when Casey stands, pretending to search for Pepper in the murky cloud obscuring his warm light.

    I saw you in a dream last night
    Amongst a crowd of black and white
    As you smiled colors burst into light and shadows go

    A blinding flare burns away the smoke in a sweeping circle around Pepper and the rest of the screen fades as Casey runs to embrace his Charmeleon, twirling him upward to sit comfortably on his hip as they do so often. Foreheads touch briefly as Casey lowers them to one knee, Pepper slipping from his grasp as the both lean to opposite sides, coming back with props in hand-

    Through thick and thin, rain and wind,
    Darling you won't be alone

    Casey trading a tanbō for his walking stick and both rising to face the audience. Charmeleon before human, feet striking the floor with every beat, twirling batons passing from hand to hand and matching each other imperfectly but fluidly, the movement to music far more important than perfection of choreography. It's fun, and that's the point- Casey doesn't have to look to know his own slow-spreading grin is matched by Pepper's.

    Let's follow the sun until the shadows fade

    Sticks lift high into the air as they both pose

    Cross the desert til we find our place

    before Casey leaps over Pepper, tucking and rolling, avoiding the flaming breath sweeping across the back half of the stage.

    Think of where you're going, not where you've come from

    Casey's fingers loose the silky tie around his waist with ease and their third prop flies into the air- the shimmery, gauzy length of fabric balloons upward as Pepper fills it with hot smoke

    Just lift your eyes, lift your eyes

    and braces himself for the intense blue beam that illuminates the stage and sends the shining cloth so, so much higher.

    And follow the sun until the shadows fade

    The cloth begins to drift down as the blue light fades back to Pepper's flickering orange. Pepper meets Casey where he still kneels, discarding his tanbō in favor of reaching out for his trainer, and Casey obliges, catching one hand and slipping his other under Pepper's opposite foot to hold the Charmeleon above his head and present him to the audience, light from his swishing tail dancing across their reflective costumes.

    Just lift your eyes and follow the sun

    A breathy, rolling Flamethrower straight into the air catches the floaty, shimmery, descending fabric and burns it before Casey's wide eyes, melting material scattering around them. A twirl toward the front of the stage distracts Pepper, as Casey swings him down to catch his tanbō again, slightly earlier than planned. Pepper walks toward the audience again, twirling and dancing, and Casey follows suit in a beat, just behind.

    No chains, nothing in our way
    Through the rain, keep the wolves at bay

    Props spin as Casey comes to stand fully beside Pepper, then sweep across the stage in front of them. Slamming the staves down with their outside hands, Charmeleon and trainer march hand-in hand, heads held high.

    I'll be there, take my hand and run
    Just lift your eyes and follow the sun

    Casey twirls Pepper around him, tail leaving a trail of fire, and Pepper comes back to front and center as Casey kneels on one knee behind him once again, reflections scattering across his broad chest. Pepper continues to spin his tanbō even through less measured dance- this is where he gets to truly play, these few measures of joyful sound releasing him from the strictness of choreography, and maybe it's messy, maybe it's not perfectly on beat, but it's beautiful, and expressive, and fun- that's what makes this worth doing.

    Pepper steps back into Casey's waiting arms to be raised high again, tail flame expanding.

    Just lift your eyes and follow the sun

    Orange, then yellow, then white-gold light engulfs the pair, shadows twisting and turning and shifting until a blinding white-gold, then yellow, then orange jet of flame shoots high into the air above, fading into nothing as their song does the same, and Pepper becomes dead weight in Casey's arms.


    Pepper Bomb • Charmeleon • lv43 | Ginger • Buneary • lv39 | Parsley • Gogoat • lv38
    Casey's Profile | Extra Characters | Art Gallery | Current Chapter
     
    Last edited:

    Aquacorde

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    If You Seek A Hana
    Vermilion City - Saturday, June 1, 2019​
    It isn't easy, being Beaumont Tayloz.

    He finds satisfaction in working hard, especially to help people. He's spent the last year trying to do so. Trying to prove himself a wise mentor, a good role model, a capable gym leader. Trying to prove that he belongs in Lavender, that he wants desperately to work with its people to improve the town. Trying to prove himself worthy of his father's faith in his abilities.

    But once again, nothing is turning out the way he expects it to.

    "Hello, I'm here to see Hana Palm." Beaumont beams his most charming smile at the receptionist, who in turn looks confused with a side of disgust. His grin dims, just slightly, and out of the corner of his eye he sees Jarmie with her hand placed delicately over her mouth.

    He'll have to sulk about being laughed at later, though, because the receptionist does have things to say.

    "If you're here for a challenge, you'll have to wait a week at best. They haven't chosen anyone to replace her yet."

    Beaumont's currently fragile world rocks again, sending shards of twisted worry deep into his heart. "Ah- replace her?" he says, as light and conversational as he can manage.

    "Yeah, 'cause she got fired on Tuesday." The receptionist seems not to have had much attachment to the former gym leader. "Hey, aren't you the Lavender gym leader? I've seen that blond mop on TV before. How come you didn't hear?"

    "I- I don't know…" Beaumont's uncertainty is lost under Jarmie's sudden snap.

    "Lavender gym leaders, thank you." The receptionist falters under the glare of piercing brown eyes, as do most people. "Where is she, then?"

    "Wh- how would I know? I just work here." Jarmie's icy gaze does more work for her than Beaumont's appeals to sensibility tend to do for him. "I guess I can, um, give you her address?"

    "You do that." Jarmie folds her arms, hands tucked neatly into kimono sleeves, and stares expectantly until the receptionist's fumbling fingers find Hana Palm's home address in their database.

    It's incredible how authoritative she can seem despite having no basis for being so.

    Well, he supposes she does command a healthy band of loyal followers. Why is still a mystery to him. He's heard she's a fairly strong trainer, but there are dozens of those if one goes looking. He's heard- and seen- that she's hotheaded, competitive, and egotistical. Over the last week she has shown him that she is also disciplined, serious, intelligent, and protective. But that isn't all it takes to be a leader. He knows she's the granddaughter of the prior Warden of the Tower, but what does that mean? What does a Warden do for Lavender to deserve their love and respect?

    He probably should have been asking those questions a year ago. Not while standing here worrying the starched cuffs of his coral dress shirt.

    The receptionist hastily scribbles the address onto a sticky note, which Jarmie scrutinizes briefly. "I can't read this. Do better."

    The audacity!

    And yet, the receptionist does better.

    Beaumont understands, even before the major concerns of the moment come rushing back to the forefront of his mind, that his musings about Jarmie Katalan are simply a distraction. Hana Palm has been fired. Hana Palm, skilled and caring and dedicated- what could have happened so suddenly? In the middle of graduation season? And why hadn't he been informed?

    "I can't believe I wasn't informed of this." Jarmie echoes his thoughts with the usual undercurrent of righteous fury. Beaumont pinches the bridge of his nose, but she continues on undeterred. "This is your fault."

    "Kindly explain how you have come to that conclusion," Beaumont sighs.

    "If you had closed your gym as soon as we found out about Za- the power plant- we would have gotten here before she was fired and there wouldn't be any problems."

    "Apologies for taking my gym leader duties and the education of our youth seriously. You could have come here on your own, if you didn't want to wait until all the graduates had passed through."

    "Absolutely not. I will not tolerate any of them leaving Lavender under the impression that you are the uncontested gym leader."

    "Your priorities are interesting," Beaumont says. Jarmie chooses to piggyback an argument off of such passive-aggression, even while steering him firmly toward their destination by the sleeve. They have built something of a rapport over the last week of jittery secrecy, keeping their plans and appeals and research strictly between the two of them and Lucretia. The fewer people that know, the better, but there is safety in numbers- he and Jarmie to do the work and Lucretia to keep handwritten records at the Tower, in case of…

    Well. In case.

    What must those in Lavender think, to have watched the warring leaders switch from resolute avoidance to frequent meetings? He hadn't had time to consider. And what would he even have said? Antonio's eyes had followed him with such suspicion all week. How could he confront that, knowing that he and the rest of the gym trainers under him had been hand-selected by the Tomorrow Foundation? How many of them are naive pawns like himself, and how many are fully aware of the atrocities the Foundation is committing right now, right this moment, even as Jarmie steers him through unfamiliar streets laced with salty breezes?

    How many formerly naive pawns ended up where he is? He remembers a little group of young adults, only with him for a few months but strong trainers and willing helpers who found joy in their Pokémon. He remembers them suddenly becoming cagey, whispered conversations and worried glances permeating their interactions for weeks. And then a typed note of resignation appeared on his desk, all four names neatly spaced at the bottom. He was baffled then, but eloping to the Decolore Islands wasn't something he wished to question.

    Beaumont suspects now that they may not have left Lavender, let alone Kanto.

    They stick out because there were four of them, perhaps. How many others found out on their own? How many others lived in fear, or failed in confrontation? How many did this alone?

    He too feels alone, still, but he's used to that. It's the feeling of being unmoored that is truly tearing him apart. His life has been dictated by his father, and Beaumont has always followed him in blind faith. Jumped to please him at every turn, did what he was told without question.

    How can he look to his father for answers now?

    "Get all the way in the elevator, Tayloz," Jarmie snaps.

    "Ah. Yes." Autopilot only does so much for a body.

    Hana lives on the fourth floor of a six-story apartment overlooking the harbor. In theory. It's certainly not her that answers the door.

    "Hi! Sorry, we're a bit busy, maybe text before you come over next time?" The blue-haired girl's friendly smile is dimmed by exhaustion, and doesn't quite meet her eyes.

    Beaumont fixes a just as brittle smile on his face. "I'm afraid we need to see Hana Palm rather urgently. Is she home?"

    "Is that Tayloz?!"

    Hana Palm barrels past her friend and bodily checks Beaumont into the wall across the hall. His head bounces off the wall with a thunk and something pricks at his throat as sweat prickles along his neck. Not again, he thinks dimly, as Hana's friend gasps. At least she's not choking me out.

    "Step away, Hana Palm."

    Jarmie's words clang into place like the booming of a gong, and it is a testament to her natural authority that Hana does, seemingly instinctively, revealing to Beaumont that he had been accepting death from a short swimmer armed with a kitchen fork. But for all Jarmie's regal and commanding posture, Hana is still nearly twice her age and not prone to taking suggestions. A forearm is roughly shoved into Beaumont's diaphragm and he wheezes.

    "Give me a good reason not to deal with Foundation scum here and now!" The hysteric edge in her voice is one good reason, but her anxious friend has another.

    "Because Mr. Emerson across the hall isn't entirely deaf yet, and I think he'll notice a crime scene…"

    "And because he is mine to deal with as I so choose." Jarmie steps forward and delicately slides a hand between Hana's tense forearm and Beaumont's now extremely rumpled dress shirt. "Besides which, Tayloz is unofficially unaffiliated with the Foundation at this point in time."

    "And what does that mean?" Hana asks suspiciously.

    "I would discuss it behind closed doors. Shall we?" Jarmie's continued audacity allows her to brush past Hana's nervous friend and invite Hana into her own apartment.

    Incredible.

    "You don't happen to own any Tomorrow's Home products, do you?" Beaumont asks as they take their seats on an uncomfortable sectional, Jarmie's straight-backed poise contrasting Hana's almost-casual sprawl. The third woman shakes her head.

    "Hana smashed them all yesterday," she says brightly, then looks mildly concerned about her own cheer.

    "Ah- yes. Good choice. We really can not risk being overheard." Beaumont clears his throat. "I- I suppose I don't have to ask if you're on our side."

    "I'm on my own side," Hana snaps. "I don't know what you two are up to."

    "Well, I suppose we can see if our intentions overlap in any way…"

    "My intentions are to beat the shit out of the Tomorrow Foundation!"

    "The whole Foundation?" Jarmie arcs an eyebrow.

    "Yes! Take out their headquarters, I don't know! We're in the planning stages!"

    "This isn't a video game," Jarmie says coldly. And Beaumont cuts off Hana's rebuttal.

    "The Tomorrow Foundation has more resources at its disposal than you- or even I- know. They are in every city and can command any group. Everyone has their price, and the Foundation can pay anything. It is frustrating and terrifying. We are currently coming to you for assistance- we need allies, and we need plans. We have found a terrible secret and in that discovered that the Foundation needs to be stopped in its tracks. But I am quite sure they are able to make their adversaries… disappear. They have already started the process with you."

    Hana's friend sucks in a sharp breath, and both Hana and Jarmie's eyes narrow. "How do you know?" the former asks.

    A letter of resignation. "They had a hand in your firing somehow, didn't they? They have influences everywhere. I don't know why, but they want you removed from the public eye. And then, when any scrutiny around this dies down- maybe you leave a note for someone, telling them you're off to the Decolore Islands. Except you never leave Kanto…" Beaumont bites the inside of his cheek. He can not mourn for them now. "What happened?"

    Hana's walls drop in sync with her shoulders. "I caught them. I swear, we had them."

    Hana's story unfolds like a drama, messy and convoluted and confusing. But as much as he questions the choices that led to the conclusion, it is the conclusion that is truly most puzzling.

    "Something flew away, Hoshi's dragons were there, and then the cold dissipated," Jarmie summarizes. "That's all you have?"

    "Some pictures of their equipment as well," Bridget pipes up.

    "But nobody could tell what was in the cage?" Jarmie presses. The other women shake their heads.

    "It was a lot of power at once- whatever they were, they were trying their damndest to escape. I think some of Hoshi's Dragonair were in there, they turned up in Cerulean later, but there were also… talons?" Hana rubs her temples. "I don't know. There was a lot going on."

    "It sounds similar to what we saw," Beaumont muses. "The energy cage is surely the same. But we could see clearly… perhaps multiple Pokémon resulted in some sort of overload, or at least consistent attacks forced it into constant shield activation. Or the cage was not hooked up to an output in the same way? Though- what would it have hooked up to, and why? Electricity makes sense, but what did they expect from Dragonair…?'

    "Speak clearly, Tayloz," Hana grits out. "What did you two see that was so similar?"

    "Zapdos," Jarmie says simply. "Zapdos caged and tortured to produce electricity for the Lavender power plant."

    A stunned silence follows.

    And then Hana's fist drives into the sofa as she sits up properly. "That's it!"

    "What- what's it?" Bridget asks for all of them.

    "They had Articuno in there! They must have, that accounts for the ice- oh my god, it all makes sense-"

    Beaumont disagrees- there are far too many questions left unanswered, such as, perhaps, why, but Hana speaks over any counterpoint. "If they took one of the trio then they must be aiming for the others, but since it got away- Articuno would have gone home, right? Maybe not right away, but it'll be back at Seafoam eventually- oh my god, they'll be waiting for it there! That's where we'll go!" Hana is off the couch and dragging things out of closets in a flash. "Where's my cold weather gear- Bridget! Help me reach this!"

    Jarmie's wide-eyed gaze is almost comical on her otherwise stoic face, but Beaumont knows his own bafflement is showing and a current of understanding passes between them.

    "Erm, Hana…" Beaumont begins, rising uncertainly from the sofa. "It may be best to consider all the possibilities before jumping into action."

    Hana's glare freezes him in place. "And how long are you going to let them torture Zapdos while you put your little plans together?"

    Beaumont's heart seizes and stutters in his chest, shards of grief working its way through the cracks of his shattered world. Hana huffs and turns back to her mission.

    It's already been a week. But more than that, the weight of everything before is piling on- everything he never noticed, but recognizes in hindsight. Everything he knew, but never pieced together. He was meant to protect, to care, to lead people into- the words echo in his head and bile rises in his throat- a better Tomorrow. Zapdos, tortured to exhaustion day in and day out, under his blind watch- for a better Tomorrow. Typed resignations and leave notices- for a better Tomorrow.

    And here he is, insisting they make a plan.

    To ensure a better…

    Jarmie's deceptively strong grip on his forearm steers Beuamont into the entryway. "You have chosen your course, we will pursue ours. Keep in touch."

    "Not digitally," Beaumont manages, through the emotion constricting his throat.

    "Not digitally," Jarmie repeats, loud enough for Hana to hear over the clatter of everything she owns falling out of a closet. "Understood?"

    Hana's muffled affirmative lets Jarmie see Beaumont and herself out.

    "What is wrong with you?" she asks, once she has deposited him in the elevator.

    "I…"

    He doesn't know where to begin.

    They ride in silence to the ground floor.

    "Get it together," is all the more Jarmie says before the elevator dings, and he follows her measured stride obediently back onto the streets of Vermilion.

    Jarmie is not particularly empathetic, nor always a conversationalist. But right now, she is all he has- a port in a storm for a small, unmoored ship.

    "I think I… am guilty," he begins quietly, and she drops back into step beside him.
     

    Eleanor

    Princess Era 🎀
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    • Age 24
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    • Seen May 25, 2024
    art by Aquacorde
    Arianne Chandler
    Saffron City / Pokémon Musical
    Saturday, June 1st

    with Groc as Vera Hill


    Look what we got to do!

    Vera mentioned the performance back at the clothes shop. However, right then and there, Arianne only had a vague vision of what that would have looked like. And that vision felt so… basic.

    She tried to look somewhat confident around Vera, but inside her Pokémon Center room, the black haired girl was really someone else. But then, things started to click!

    On Saturday morning, Arianne experienced the Singles iteration of the Musical from the eyes of a spectator, Vera by her side offering commentary and occasional begrudging respect. What the other girl said about Casey definitely made more sense once Arianne saw him and his Charmeleon's performance - that was not something she was expecting from the boy, and yet it made perfect sense.

    Determined to put on a show just as good, Arianne then trained with not just Zebstrika, but Alice too. Pichu already powered up the other Electric-type back in Route 11, and this could work both ways now, thanks to both Pokémon having the Lightning Rod ability. Plus, their attacks would always home onto each other, and that would make for a very nice visual effect during the Musical.

    Turns out, those additional hours were perfect to get Zebstrika used to another useful skill: become Arianne's steed! Just like Casey's Parsley. She could not gallop with Arianne on her back just yet, but it would not have been a problem.

    By lunchtime, Arianne was as confident as ever. It was very ironic to her that someone like her, a swimmer from Cinnabar with a Water-type starter, would embrace the energy of two Electric-types… but she didn't feel uneasy about it. In fact, she was eager to let Vera know about it.

    "Who would have thought that a swimmer girl would charge up her performance like this, uh?" Arianne smiles. "And by the way… are you doing doubles as well?"

    Vera tilts her head quizzically at the question. "Oh, I'm not competing. I told you, I don't do… this. I'm just here to cheer you on."

    "Wait, you're… not…?" The other girl looks just as perplexed. "For saying you didn't know how to dance or sing, you… you looked like you were having fun yourself yesterday! You know, at the costume place."

    Arianne runs a hand through her hair. "I mean, you and Ebony made for a convincing duo, you had me excited to see what you could do together."

    Vera looks away from Arianne, tucking a loose bit of hair behind her ear. "Ebony isn't ready for this, and I spent all my time helping you, instead. Besides, it's too late now, I can't just sign up at the last second."

    The Cinnabar girl grimaces. She's still convinced that Vera would have pulled off a great performance and would have truly enjoyed the musical by participating alongside her, but not only that's not happening, it looks like Arianne is to blame for it. Because Vera kept helping her.

    "I told you, I was here if you needed help too! We could've worked on this together and…" She breathes out, letting go of those negative feelings. "If that's the case, I have no choice but to perform for you as well. I'll make sure to give it my all!"

    Vera quickly looks at Arianne as though surprised, but that cool, confident smirk of hers appears as if on command. "Yes, I suppose you're right. And with me performing with you, even just in spirit, you're sure to win! You've got this, Arianne! We've got this!" She gives her dark-haired friend a hearty thumbs-up, the very picture of confidence.



    Before she knows it, she's at center stage, two Pokéballs in her hands. She takes a good look around her, breathes deeply, and waits for the lights to dim, until the flick of one last switch leaves the hall in nearly complete darkness. Hopefully, no one in the audience is suspecting anything… she chuckles.

    She knows what's up, at least. Her outfit should be the best possible for this performance, even if it meant making some compromise. For example, she's wearing rubber gloves not unlike those you'd use for washing dishes. She's wearing her everyday trainers, instead of some of the much nicer shoes she'd seen at the costume shop. And let's face it, the dress she and Vera have put together may not be the most… comfortable. Especially with that cable and plug hastily tucked behind a small waist belt. But all of those things don't matter in the grand scheme of things, and the darkness is only going to help her further.

    One last breath and the first Pokéball opens up.

    At first it's flames and cinders that surround her, trailing behind her Zebstrika's Flame Charge. Her worried eyes, her erratic movements, all bounce off the faster and faster light source, as she keeps the second Pokéball in her hand closed shut for the time being. One arm lifted up is the girl's cue for her Pokémon to change attack: Shock Waves shoot up, nearly getting to the ceiling, sparkles falling down and fuzzing out as the girl kneels.

    One press of a button later and… Zebstrika's last Shock Wave hesitates, curves back down, and hits on target. The girl backs off, her face lit up by Zebstrika's attack as she grins. In front of her is Alice the Pichu, her Lightning Rod ability nullifying the damage of her teammate's attack.

    Zebstrika stops and stares at Alice, whose Thundershock, coming right up, has the same effect on the larger Pokémon. This gives Arianne time to walk away from her Pokémon before a shouted "Ready!" puts them in motion once again.

    Somewhere in the middle between Alice at center stage and Zebstrika circling around her, Arianne finds herself in the line of fire of Thundershock and Shock Wave, each attack drawn in by the opposing Pokémon. The two moves still act as the only light source on stage, but get stronger and brighter as they power up the receiving Pokémon, all while Arianne tries her best to jump over them or duck under the beam of energy. This continues for a while as Zebstrika gradually slows down and Alice moves closer to her trainer. All properly set up for the finale.

    The girl picks up Alice, giving her a plug to hold in her paws. The atmosphere should keep the magic intact, she hopes as she looks down at herself, nearly unable to hold in a happy squeak as the dress does its thing. The white lightning turns into red, blue, green, yellow, and a bunch of other colors as it passes through each light.

    And that's the end!

    Arianne has some more time to bow to the audience and take in their reaction, Alice and Zebstrika both beside her, the dress still giving signs of life as the rest of the accumulated electricity gets used up. "Maybe it wasn't quite like our first idea," she whispers to Zebstrika, "but look what we got to do together."

    A quick thought goes out to Vera. And so Arianne repeats herself, this time almost shouting so that she too can hear her. "Look what we got to do together, everyone!"

    As all the stage lights slowly come back, Arianne spots Vera clapping from the audience. They can only exchange one smile of complicity, and she's back in the dressing room.

    TEAM:
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Eric, lv. 41 •
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Espurr, lv. 28
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Zebstrika, lv. 36 ↑ •
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Alice, lv. 22 ↑
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Lulu, lv. 37 •
    TRAINERS (IC)
    Mizar, lv. 23
     

    Aquacorde

    ⟡ dig down, dig down ⟡
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    Casey Holt & Jordan Springs
    Saturday, June 1, 2019 // Afternoon, Day 13
    Saffron City
    10-29. i feel (my) demons misleading me

    Casey's skin crawls as he stares into luminous yellow- eyes? Is he staring into this thing's eyes? Are the true eyes the ones towards the top, or the gently glowing carved ones in the midsection? He's vaguely sure staring into one of these sets has real and terrifying consequences, but which one? He should have asked Jordan. He could have- he still can. Except he can't- his mouth opens yet produces no sound past the lump in his throat. Is this a Pumpkaboo's curse? Is it keeping him from speaking, hypnotizing him into obedience?

    No.

    No, he can shut his own mouth with a click of teeth and swallow forcefully. Breathe in of his own accord. Jerk his head to focus on Jordan, who is sitting on the steps with his hands under his chin, and ask what feels like a very silly question when juxtaposed with the intensity of the situation.

    "What- which are her eyes?"

    Jordan lifts his head up. "I- what? Her- the ones on her face, obviously." It seems to take him a minute to understand where his confusion is coming from. He points to the luminous spots on her body. "These are just- well, I'm not sure what they are, but they light up like headlights and they're not eyes."

    But Casey watches him turn to the Pumpkaboo and mouth the word 'right?' to her. She bobs her head up and down vaguely, flashing her lights back at him.

    "You never know with Ghosts," Casey says, indignance tempered by that small vindication. "Shouldn't you know about your Pokémon?"

    Jordan shrugs. "Not something I've had to think about, I guess."

    "What if you were just staring at the wrong eyes the whole time?" Casey absentmindedly reaches out to spin the Pumpkaboo in midair. "How awkward would that be? She can't even tell ya hey, my eyes are up here."

    "Oh, she'd tell me." Jordan rolls his eyes with a smirk as Tiny continues to twirl. "They always have a way of telling you stuff. Pokemon, I mean."

    "Yeah." Casey halts Tiny and spins her the other way. "I can hear them sometimes. Well, just Ginger, really."

    "Yeah." Jordan nods absentmindedly, then frowns slightly. "What- like, she talks to you?"

    "Uh- yeah? Kinda? I dunno, I just hear a voice in my head that seems like hers. Sayin' real words and all." The idea that this doesn't happen to other people throws him off a little, and he starts to dribble Tiny like a basketball to occupy his sudden awkwardness. "Not- not all the time, but, like, when it makes sense. Usually when I can't it's 'cause she's giving me the silent treatment. Or… yeah, that's kinda it. I guess most the time she talks."

    Jordan gives him a weird look. "Um-" He starts, but Tiny swiftly zips out from under Casey's hand and throws a few Bullet Seeds in his direction. They whiz past Casey's ear, and he has a feeling if she wanted to actually hit him, she would have. "See, I meant more of stuff like that, but I guess… voices, huh?"

    Casey crosses his arms and huffs out a defensive "Yeah. Like when you're doin' somethin' you know your best friend would have somethin' to say about and you can hear them in your head. Except, like, it's Pokémon noises automatic'ly translating themselves into- I'm not crazy," he whines, at Jordan's bewildered expression.

    "I didn't say you were!" Jordan retorts, but the look on his face quickly twists into a cheeky grin. "But I suppose the voices in your head say otherwise, hm?"

    Casey responds by initiating a brief scuffle, which ends with Jordan in a headlock. Somewhere under him, Casey hears a muffled, "Tiny, help- Ghost-Ray him-"

    "Absolutely FUCKING not." Casey roughly arranges Jordan between himself and the Pumpkaboo in a panic, folding himself as small as he can behind his alleged friend, grip bruising on Jordan's upper arm and hip.

    Jordan snickers as he wriggles away. "Oh, relax, there's no such thing as Ghost-Ray." The Pumpkaboo looks like she's laughing, too.

    It's not funny.

    Casey shoves Jordan forward, sending him stumbling as he escapes, and strides away, toward where Parsley and Sage are… hanging out, or something. He doesn't know, and he doesn't really care, he just- he can't deal with that. Parsley wheezes as Casey slumps over his back, arms dangling off one side of the sturdy Gogoat as his surly gaze finds middle distance.

    Sage bites the cuff of his jacket and tries to drag him off.

    Spoiler: believer - american authors


    "Hey! Come on- I'm sorry," Jordan's catching up, with Tiny lazily drifting behind him. "And you, knock it off." He swats Sage lightly before addressing Casey again. "You- you want to continue the staring contest?"

    "I want you to be nice to me." Casey's pout is muffled against Parsley's leafy pelt. "I want you to be helpful."

    Jordan sighs. "Alright, come on." He drags Casey up himself this time. "How can I help?"

    Casey simply flops into Jordan's shoulder, narrowed eyes trained on Tiny behind him. "I dunno. Not threatening is a good start."

    "Done," Jordan says simply. He grabs the Pumpkaboo out of the air. She wiggles in his grasp but does not phase through it. "We are here for you. Now, do you still need to… acclimate, or you wanna do something else?"

    Jordan's a good friend.

    "Prob'ly best just to get to it," Casey sighs. Unwilling as he is, the best way to train is always to use muscles in ways similar to how they'll be used in motion. He figures that applies to brains as well. Exposure therapy, and all. "Lemme battle her."

    "You sure?" Jordan looks a little surprised at first - they did jump from staring contest to battling pretty fast, but he quickly obliges. "Okay, let's do it." He lets go of the Pumpkaboo and she drifts between them. Casey takes a steadying breath and straightens up. He's done this before, he can do it again. Well, maybe not exactly this, but- it's just battling Tiny. She's not half as intimidating as Sorley's Golurk. Just a little round Grass thing, really.

    If he was battling for real, he'd certainly have Pepper toast her up just to get it over with. Or Ginger slam her down a few times. But this is brain practice. Exposure therapy needs exposure to work, right?

    "Parsley, c'mon." His Gogoat nudges Sage away and trots over to circle Casey. "We're gonna play-battle."

    The Pumpkaboo floats up a little higher in the air, as if to square up, but it doesn't lessen the massive size difference between the two Grass-types. Nevermind Parsley, Casey's still getting used to his Pokémon's new size- the fact that Parsley's head is level with his and Jordan's is still wild. "Right. We do need a bit more training too. She's a little green." Jordan pauses for a reaction and Casey levelly meets his gaze without a hint of emotion. "Tough crowd today, okay. How do you want to start? Do I just…?"

    The desire for things to be easy tugs at Casey's heart and he bites down the urge to walk back on his choice. He can't stay wrapped in comfortable, simple fears. Even if he just wants to be soft and fragile and catered to. That can't work. Not with the path he's on and the people he's chosen.

    "Just, like, battle." Casey catches his lazily trotting Gogoat by a horn and a snapping vine instantaneously slaps the Pumpkaboo backward without command. "Hey?" She fires back a few Bullet Seeds in response, not missing her target this time.

    "Oh. We're starting? We're starting." Jordan perks up. "Right, don't do that- stop-" He motions for Tiny to stop pelting the Gogoat with seeds. "Try Worry Seed, if you want to throw something at him."

    When the Bullet Seeds prove to be wholly ineffective, Tiny obliges, switching up her projectile. But it doesn't matter, and Jordan should know, shouldn't he? Casey tilts his head. Sage is the same, isn't she? "What're you doing?"

    Jordan's visibly a little embarrassed. "Oh. Uh, just warming up. Yeah." He scratches the back of his head. "I thought it would do something with the abilities, at least, but yeah, that makes sense. Anyway, Confuse Ray!" He rushes on to the next command, and the dizzying lights descend upon Parsley.

    "Aw," Casey complains halfheartedly. "That's a pain in the ass. Parsley, just try an' like, throw leaves at her."

    At her, at Jordan, at Sage- Razor Leaf isn't picky about its targets at the best of times. Sage snorts as leaves whip around her face, though they do nothing more. She swats at them with her Vine Whip, playfully hitting Parsley as well. "Hey- you'll get your turn." Jordan holds out a hand. Sage stops abruptly, but it may not have anything to do with his intervention, as the Gogoat starts to glow. But it doesn't look like Growth or Synthesis- what-

    "What's she doing?" Casey takes suspicious steps sideways to put Parsley between him and the Pumpkaboo's glowing eyes.

    "It's, uh, Trick-or-Treat, you know?" Jordan mumbles out hesitantly. "Which we usually follow up with Shadow Sneak-"

    "To do what?" Casey asks hesitantly. Ghost moves, sneaky moves, weird shit… he's gotta learn 'em, doesn't he?

    "To- to combo with the Trick-Or-Treat," Jordan answers, but doesn't actually do it, like he's waiting for Casey's permission to.

    But Tiny has no such qualms about freaking Casey out. The shadows stretch out from under her small silhouette and strike at the Gogoat- Parsley flinches as they rake across his underbelly and pull at his legs in a way that probably would have destabilized him as a Skiddo. But he's big now- he stomps and snorts and shakes it off as quickly as the shadows recede- and maybe it's not so bad.

    And maybe they can do better.

    "Try that again," Casey says, half a challenge and half a demand.

    "Okay," Jordan nods. The Pumpkaboo zips through the air, looking for a good angle to strike from. She's fast, and Casey's uncertain steps backward betray his worry. Trying her best to get Parsley from behind, she attacks again with her ominous shadow.

    "Okay, don't run, just activate Pursuit."

    Dark-type energy starts its swirling around Parsley's horns and hooves, but it's the latter that matter, kicking at the shadows to keep them from reaching quite as far up his body as they had just a moment before. Negation, right? It's kind of working, but Parsley's still flicking his ears in irritation- did negating Flamethrower and Dragon Breath hurt Golurk, too? That guy's so stoic, maybe he just didn't realize. Or maybe Parsley's not very good at this yet- or maybe both? Or- oh yeah, the confusion is keeping him unfocused…

    "Good job, baby boy!" Casey calls, and Parsley prances back to him for a pat- too fast, with Pursuit still fizzling out, but Casey catches him by a horn to wheel him around and crack- a vine lashes out at Tiny again. "What-? Why do you keep- what?"

    'All good?" Jordan calls out after he checks in on his own Pokemon. Tiny drifts out of his grasp, a little more feebly than before, and Jordan turns his full attention to Casey.

    "Uh, yeah, just- he doesn't do this? He doesn't just attack without me sayin'. He's a good boy." Casey tugs on Parsley's horn, turning the Gogoat to face him. "Why you just doin' stuff? Is this a Gogoat thing? Did you-" Casey stumbles on his words, suddenly. Did Parsley change upon evolution, like he'd always worried he would? Is his nice baby boy gone? Is this a whole different Pokémon he has to handle? "I don't… I don't know what's happening."

    "Well, I'm-" Jordan walks up to him, lightly touching his elbow. "I'm sure it's just, like, him adjusting to the evolution, you know? He's growing up. Pepper changed a little when he evolved too, didn't he?"

    "Well, yeah, but I don't- I didn't want them to." Parsley's face is suddenly in his, nuzzling and slobbering and overwhelming, shoving him into Jordan. "Gfgjk! Ack, eugh, that's so much spit." Casey wipes his face as best he can, squished between his Pokémon and his best friend. "I mean, it isn't even that, it's just that he ain't been doin' that until just now. Pepper was kinda different right off the bat."

    Jordan chuckles. "See, he's not that different. And, well," He folds his arms and cocks his head in contemplation. "Hop changed also when he evolved, but just like, happier and more confident, I think. For obvious reasons. Killer when he tries to sit on my shoulders still, though. The size is a big adjustment for both of us, I think. Wonder how the rest of my Pokemon will change when they evolve, too…"

    "I hope Spirit doesn't turn evil," Casey says gloomily.

    "He won't." Jordan sighs, but a lingering look of uncertainty tells Casey he hadn't thought about this until just this moment, when he brought it up. This, of course, means Casey has to needle at the subject.

    "What if he does? What if he decides he's a crazy Ghost now and just does horrible things to people all the time? Just 'cause he can?"

    "Then- w-" Jordan flounders a bit. "I'm sure we can call Professor Palm or someone to figure it out. Come on, if Ghost Pokemon were so dangerous and unpredictable, they wouldn't let us keep 'em. They're well-researched and stuff. Bruno has one as his starter and he's like, thirteen."

    "Well-" That's an irritatingly good point. "That one was raised to be a starter though! You don't know what your Ghosts've been brought up like."

    "I do! Ibrought him up," Jordan retorts. "Kind of. I mean, he's still pretty young, I practically raised him. Anyway, the point still stands that if they were horrendously dangerous or something, there would be restrictions around who could be Ghost trainers, right?"

    "I mean…" Jordan has absolutely valid points. Why does Casey feel like he has to find any shred of evidence to the contrary? He barely has facts to back himself up- probably would have more if he'd actually learned anything about Ghosts, ever. And the one professional Ghost trainer he really knows definitely doesn't have any restrictions on them, so he can't be talking out of his ass about well, what if they do and you just don't know- especially if it were true, it would make absolutely no sense to allow his classmates to handle Ghosts pre-licensure. "They're still dangerous and unpredictable," he settles for, which is a safe statement he's made many a time.

    Jordan sighs. "Well, that's your opinion." Not really a concession, but he'll take it. "Anyway, you still wanna do this, then?"

    "Oh- yeah, uh. Training. Right. Yes." Tiny, he can deal with, he thinks. Even if she's gonna keep Ghosting all over the place. All over Parsley. Wait, that- "Is Parsley a Ghost right now?"

    "Well… actually, yes, sort of- he'll take on the advantages and disadvantages of Ghost types in this state." Jordan explains.

    "But he can't- he can't do Ghost stuff. Like, his spirit won't fly out or anything… right?"

    Jordan rolls his eyes. "No, just weak to Ghost moves and immune to Normal, that kinda stuff."

    "Wh- how? Sage, can you- prove it?"

    "Right, right, okay… no, not that- try Take Down." Jordan adds as Sage starts off with another Vine Whip attempt. She quickly retracts her vines and enthusiastically charges at her old buddy. As they collide- or where they should have collided, they… don't, and she phases through him with a snort. Casey's stomach does a nauseating twist.

    "Wait, wait, waitwaitwait, Parsely, here-" His baby boy comes back to him obediently and Casey reaches desperately for him. He can touch, he can hug, he's fine it's fine it's fine he can't- "Can you do that on purpose? You can't, right?"

    Parsley tries, or seems to try, eyes crossed and tongue lolling with some kind of concentrated effort. And Casey's arms remain clutched around his neck, no phasing or shimmering but the persistent gentle glow settled into his hair.

    It's fine.

    "Okay. Okay. Right. Uh. Okay. Wait." The worry falls away for interest so quickly, doesn't it? Maybe he should embrace that. "Can Sage hit Parsley at all with anything right now? What's her set right now?"

    "It's…" Jordan looks up briefly as if to recall, ticking the moves off his fingers as he lists them. "Take Down, Vine Whip, Growth, Play Nice, Razor Leaf and… Synthesis. So… no, actually, don't think we can." The vines come out again as Sage apparently tries to test for herself, clambering up on and clinging to Parsley as she tries a myriad of different ways to do something effective.

    There's a little edge to Casey's grin and he knows it. "You've made a mistake then, huh? Parsley, go chase her down!"

    Dark-type energy swirls again around Parsley's hooves and horns as he bounds into his favorite game. Sage's ears twitch as her instincts kick in; she turns to run, but is nowhere near as quick as Parsley is anymore and he quickly catches up to her. She lets out a short cry of surprise as Parsley strikes- a gentle tap of his horn to her flank intended, but his momentum and size aren't nearly the same as they had been. Still, more gentle than a true attack, and he bounds away- tag, you're it, Sage!

    Her tail wags wildly as her comparatively little legs work overtime to catch up. Eventually, she settles for grabbing at his ankles with her vines, trying to slow him down.

    "Hey, Cheap shot! I raised you better than that," Jordan calls out jokingly. "...Good thinking, though."

    Parsley slows as not to stumble, still dragging at the vines and Sage with every step. "Get 'er back, then!"

    Parsley wheels around and lashes one vine at Sage's short horns, tugging her sideways by the head. She makes a soft grunting noise, then shakes her head and pulls away to free herself. The two prance around and continue slapping at each other with their vines until they become entangled. Parsley tugs, Sage tugs back, and Casey can't help but laugh at them.

    "Did y'all really get stuck?"

    "Yeah," Jordan sighs. "Yeah, they did. Come on. Quit it-" He swats Sage lightly to stop her from making it worse, and starts untying their vines. Casey moves to help on Parsley's end, but pauses.

    "Hey Sage. Use Take Down, huh?"

    Jordan squints, giving him a 'what are you up to?' look, but nods at Sage, who complies. The phantom energy still flickering across Parsley reacts to Sage's attempt and he once again phases- him and his vines, Sage's dropping out of the tangle and leaving both Grass-types free.

    "Useful," Casey admits, somewhat begrudgingly.

    "Nice. See, you're a natural with Ghosts," Jordan nudges him playfully. Casey gags, but it's more pretend than not. He's getting better, he supposes, if nothing else. "Alright, what's next?"

    "Well… y'all need more trainin' than we do, really. You were talkin' about Tangles havin' no move variety, but look at Sage! Can she learn anything good? I already forgot what I didn't choose for Parsley."

    "Well, no- she's still a- a baby, you know," Sage snorts disdainfully at this half-hearted defense. "Okay, I'm sorry," Jordan apologizes. "We did catch 'em both at the same time and I've clearly not put in enough work with her. But I have been looking, I think with a bit of training she could pick up a handy Ground-type move soon, too, if I want to work on diversifying her moves."

    "Ground-type!" Why had he passed on a Ground move for Parsley? Or had he not trained Parsley to do anything close enough to whatever move it is to even unlock the possibility? "Okay, okay, what do we have to do to teach her- what move is it?"

    "Bulldoze! I'm thinking it uses a similar kind of raw strength as Take Down, so she might be able to pick that up." Jordan pulls out his Poke Gear. "...more of a stomping action with Bulldoze, but just channeling the energy a different way, I guess."

    "Stomping…" Casey stomps his own feet, and Parsley stamps in place as well. Just his front feet, and it doesn't seem very powerful, even with his weight behind it. "Maybe she needs to start with… how is she at jumping?"

    "She's got some power in her hind legs," In response, the Skiddo kicks the air dangerously close to Jordan's face. He swiftly ducks back. "Right. Yeah, I think their species is generally good at jumping, with all the mountain climbing and stuff they do, but that could be a good jumping off point for some training. Does Parsley want in on this, or you good with his current set?"

    "Ah- huh." As much as Casey's been harassing Jordan about his Pokémon's sets, he hasn't thought much about his own. Well- not about Parsley's, really. Pepper's had his struggles, and Ginger's natural pool is limited, but Parsley's been doing so well with his that Casey's never- well. "I'll think on it. Let's teach Sage first. Hey! Let Parsley throw Leech Seed at her, he needs the accuracy practice. She can kick 'em out the air, get those power strikes goin'."

    "Win-win," Jordan nods. "Sounds good. Alright, Sage! You heard the man. Get those legs ready."

    Pepper Bomb • Charmeleon • lv43 | Ginger • Buneary • lv39 | Parsley • Gogoat • lv39
    Casey's Profile | Jordan's Profile | Extra Characters | Art Gallery | Current Chapter
     
    Last edited:

    Aquacorde

    ⟡ dig down, dig down ⟡
  • 12,514
    Posts
    19
    Years
    The Ebb and Flow of Power
    Celadon City - Saturday, June 1, 2019​
    Jarmie finishes her tale and the Lavender gym leaders wait. Beaumont's fingers twitch atop his folded knees and he shifts uncomfortably, not nearly as used to sitting this way as Jarmie and the woman across from them. He watches her, this refined woman who is second only to Blaine in leader tenure, whose classically styled black hair is just barely starting to send out thin shoots of grey at the temples. He watches the twitch of her eyes under her closed lids and the slow, rhythmic draw of each breath, and opens his mouth to ask if she has fallen asleep.

    But Jarmie catches him before a sound can leave his lips, with a dainty flick to the bone of his wrist that leaves it stinging until the Celadon gym leader finally speaks.

    "You are making a bold assumption." Her half-lidded gaze rests first on Jarmie, then on Beaumont. A prickling shiver skitters down his spine and he understands, the urge to take Jarmie's hand and flee the tiny meeting room mounting in tandem with the wash of cold horror through his veins. Erika watches him, like a Luxray stares down its prey. Oh, he's so easy to read, isn't he- when did that happen? Everything is all, truly, falling apart.

    Jarmie stands strong, but for what? Why challenge Erika, why ask what assumption that may be? Does she really not realize- they have to leave, they have to run, danger, danger, danger-!

    Her firm grip on his twitching wrist, right across the forming bruise she flicked into it moments ago, stills him just long enough for Erika's measured voice to float across the low table.

    "You are lucky that I am… we may say 'on your side'. What might have become of you if, unknowingly, you brought this news to a Leader whose allegiance lies with the Tomorrow Foundation?" The jittery panic sloughs slowly from Beaumont's frame, though a mild bitterness can't help but sit in the back of his throat. "Your knowledge poses danger, to yourselves and any that you share it with. You have seen glimpses of it- Hana Palm was careless, and she has already suffered the beginnings of her consequences. Do not follow in her footsteps."

    Resignation letters. Beaumont casts his gaze to the table between them, wanting very much to simply curl into a miserable little ball.

    But Jarmie fights back, as she always does.

    "Tomorrow is a far-reaching entity. How do we resist such a thing without assistance?"

    "Will you raise an army?" Erika asks. "Who will you find that has not been indoctrinated into the Foundation's ways? How will you find them?"

    Jarmie opens her mouth. Shuts it. Glares at Erika, her fingers tightening on Beaumont's wrist.

    "The Tomorrow Foundation lacks a few key footholds." Beaumont's eyes remain locked on the table, memories of meetings and briefings past echoing in his mind and falling from his lips. "The Foundation's aim to assist the population in their handling of Pokémon is somewhat tenuous due to the lack of turnover within Gym Leader positions… Though Safari Academy welcomed financing and direction, Cape College, the region's second-largest Pokémon academy, has been refusing any contracts with the Foundation since Roy Palm became headmaster… Pewter City lacks strategic value for the Foundation at this time… negotiations continue with regards to the fisherpeople of Cinnabar and the farmers of Celadon, though both are challenged by the contributions of, respectively, Blaine Kay and...ah ...Erika Fujiki."

    Beaumont lifts his gaze to meet Erika's eyes, which crinkle just slightly at the corners with her approval. "I wasn't privy to much, nor did I pay the most attention to business matters. But I am now seeing some value in being the son of Dominique Tayloz, and an opportunity to atone for my complicity."

    Erika closes her eyes for a measured inhale. "How complicit is a child who was taught nothing different?"

    "How complicit is an adult who refused to see anything different?" Beaumont challenges bitterly. Erika nods- acknowledgement of his rebuttal, but not acceptance.

    "Yet open defiance is not the only alternative to complicity, Mr Tayloz. Kanto has changed. Kanto continues to change. Actions and stances once unthinkable have become unremarkable. Mr. Kay and I… we do not believe this change to be positive, and yet our protective stances are quickly becoming unpopular even within our own cities. But Tomorrow calls itself the future, and the future sweeps away the past so easily. Turn eyes back to your own Lavender Town, once a bastion of Kanto's traditional past." Erika's cool gaze rests on Beaumont again. His fault. "Is it yet?"

    "We're fighting!" Jarmie snaps. "We've been fighting, everyone at the Tower-"

    "Has been insistently lobbying the Pokémon League to remove Mr Tayloz from the state-of-the-art facility so generously built for and gifted to the League by the Tomorrow Foundation as part of their Lavender Economic Advancement Plan. Ms Katalan, please. You lost this battle four years ago."

    Jarmie stiffens, lips going white and thin. Her grip, slowly cutting off Beaumont's circulation to his hand, trembles. Just barely.

    "What happened four years ago?" Beaumont asks slowly.

    "Lavender Town has always relied on the Warden's guidance. Four years ago, the last Warden of the Pokémon Tower passed away, with no heirs of age to take his place."

    Jarmie forces a rebuttal through gritted teeth. "As of last week, I am now of age."

    "And surely you have spent these past years forging connections with your community, learning all its nuances and idiosyncrasies, becoming the wise leader and guiding light you are expected to be." Jarmie flinches. "It does not matter. You are four years too late, through no fault of your own, and the advantage is to your enemy. And by your own hand, their advantage grows- so soon after you come of age, you leave town hand in hand with the face of your peoples' opposition?" Erika lifts her hand to delicately gesture toward theirs, and Jarmie snatches her hand from Beaumont's pale wrist as if his skin suddenly burns. "What will this do to their trust in you, Ms Katalan?"

    Beaumont can tell, now, the difference between Jarmie silent and Jarmie lost for words.

    "Go home." Erika's delicate voice is undercut with authoritative power. "What work you are able to do there has far more value than endangering yourselves and others in a misguided attempt to raise alarm."

    "What can we do in Lavender?" Beaumont asks, lost in a whirl of recent revelations.

    "Is it not obvious?" Beaumont shakes his head. "Turn over your leadership, Mr Tayloz."

    Jarmie lets out a shocked scoff, but Beaumont's mind is racing ahead. His own abdication removes a significant foothold for the Foundation. If he names Jarmie as his preferred successor, the Pokémon League is likely to acquiesce as usual- an assumption especially secure considering her popularity and status within Lavender. Jarmie in an official position of leadership strengthens the weakened sway of her Warden title. The Lavender natives yet outnumber the industry transplants- united under Jarmie's leadership, they will stand firm against the Foundation, perhaps even drive it out, and then…

    "Thank you for your insight." Jarmie stands abruptly. "We will take it into consideration."

    Beaumont is the only one of the pair to see Erika shake her head in knowing disappointment as he awkwardly forces his overly-compressed legs to wobble after Jarmie.

    He catches up with her on a small, arched bridge crossing one of the many streams flowing throughout Erika's gardens. Jarmie stands still and prim, glaring into the water, and Beaumont leans heavily on the rail as his knees protest the sudden activity.

    "Why did you leave?"

    Jarmie clicks her tongue. "She is offering nothing but distractions. You will never give up that gym."

    Over a year of struggle throws bitter words from his vocal chords. "Why would I not?"

    Jarmie inhales sharply, but Beaumont has apparently lost control of his mouth. "Quite apart from the current situation, this job has sucked. Nobody in Lavender likes me or wants me there- every tiny thing I try to do for the community is resisted out of principle, not just by you and your gang but by every ornery shopkeep or local getting harassed by Gastly. It's a fight to do the most basic things- and add in all the paperwork for the turnover rate, because the only people I can get to work at my gym are part-timers on three-month contracts with the Foundation! Even the custodial and maintenance people are contract- I do most of the maintenance myself! And honestly, I like that better. I was never a great trainer, and I never wanted to be a gym leader- I'm an engineer! I like machines, and programming, and solving problems for people, and inventing things, and the closest I get to doing any of that is maintenance on a building I barely want to be in!"

    His bitterness can't outweigh the need for a breath, and in that opportunity Jarmie asks: "Why have you, then, so vehemently opposed my gym?"

    "You're asking why I have refused to turn over a government position to an uncommunicative teenager with no credentials who, along with her gang, harassed me at every opportunity?" Beaumont refuses to acknowledge a sullen reminder that Jarmie is no longer a teenager. "How was I supposed to know who you are, and what that means, without you talking to me, like I've been begging you to? Why do I have to find out from Leader Erika that you are basically some sort of, I don't know, princess now that you're twenty? How was I ever supposed to know what the Warden is, or why they're important, or if they should hold other office- when nobody in Lavender would speak to me?"

    Beaumont runs his hands over his face, drained, rail now taking the majority of his weight. "You never let me help. I thought if I was going to be forced to be a gym leader, I could at least still help people. And nobody let me help."

    The swishing stream under their feet is the only sound for some time.

    "I… will allow you to help." Jarmie concedes, through lips pressed thin, and Beaumont closes his eyes and nods.
     
  • 302
    Posts
    9
    Years
    Gwen Alanis
    Friday May 31
    Afternoon
    Saffron City
    "Holy shit, is that Ariados-Man?"

    After winning the tournament, the first thing Gwen did was head back to Jenny's place to boast about her new victory. However, in the midst of all the excitement, she forgot Jenny had entered a tournament of her own, and therefore wouldn't be back for a few hours. So to pass the time, Gwen decided to unwind by marathoning the newest season of the Joltik-Boy cartoon she's been missing due to her graduation journey and all.

    "Holy shit, I'm so excited for season 4! It can't come soon enough!"

    "I really need to get that damn door fixed…" Jenny says to herself as she enters the living room. "Oh, hey champ! What's up?"

    "Jenny!" Gwen's eyes light up as she jumps off the couch to grab her sister's wrist. "I need to show you something! Come on!"

    "Oh- uh, okay!" Jenny scratches the back of her head, letting Gwen pull her around. "Seems pretty important?"

    "Pretty important!? It's more than 'pretty' important. This is the most important thing to happen all year- no, ever!" Gwen comes to a halt as she stands in-front of the shelf, extending her arms out as if to present the new addition. "Ta-da!"

    "Oh!" Jenny readjusts her glasses and crouches to get a better view of Gwen's shiny new trophy. "You won a tournament!? I mean, I didn't know you even entered one but… wow! I'm… I'm impressed! Really, that's better than what I could do at your age!"

    "Heh!" Gwen lifts her head up high, pride beaming from her wide grin. "I'm amazing, I know."

    "I'm sure you were." Jenny smiles. "I wish I knew you were competing in the Student Cup! I would have gone out of my way to watch you perform! Why didn't you tell me?"

    "Because I wanted to keep it a surprise, obviously."

    "A surprise?" Jenny raises a brow. "That's awfully uncharacteristic of you. You're always super excited to show me these kinds of things."

    "That's not true! I don't get that excited!"

    "...Gwen, I literally had to fly all the way out to Driftveil to watch you compete in a goddamn 'Gutter Fighter' tournament because you were just that adamant about me watching you. Don't try to deny it."

    Jenny sighs. "You're still upset with me for last night, aren't you?"

    "What? Of course not! I won the student cup, why would I still be mad?" Gwen boasts.

    Jenny stands still, contemplating Gwen's statement. "I'm sorry, I fail to see the connection?"

    "You said you didn't think I was responsible enough. I wanted to show you why that was wrong, so I got stronger and won the student cup."

    Jenny massages her temples. "What?"

    "Don't 'what' me! You know what I'm talking about! You said you were gonna pull me out of my graduation journey!"

    "Gwen, I-" Jenny sighs. She can't stress just how difficult her sister can be to deal with. "That's not what I said. That's what I said I'd do if you kept trying to stop criminal activity."

    "And that's what I entered the tournament for! To show you that you're wrong! If I wanted to I could have taken on all those thugs in Vermillion all by myself! I'm not a little kid anymore!"

    "I'm sorry, do you think I go out to try and stop criminal organizations?" Jenny puts her hands on her hips. "You being a kid has nothing to do with this. You could be 50 years old and it'd still be a problem!" This isn't a tone Gwen's ever really heard from Jenny. For once, she sounds more like a mother than an older sister. "How many times do I need to repeat myself? Honestly!"

    Gwen grits her teeth and she tenses up. What argument can even be made? There's no convincing Jenny at this point. So, giving up on that tactic, she resorts to the oldest trick in the book:

    Lying.

    "Okay, fine. It won't happen again." Gwen says with a straight-face.

    "And you know that if I find out you've been meddling in anything like this again I will pull you out of your graduation journey, right?"

    "Yep. I promise. I'll never do it again."

    That's enough to put Jenny at ease. She relaxes her posture and grins. "I'm glad to hear it." She extends her hand out to ruffle Gwen's hair, getting a few chuckles from the girl.

    "Yeah, it's nothing."

    TRAINERS (IC)
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    Spoiler:

    CCS and art by Aquacorde
     
  • 4,683
    Posts
    10
    Years
    • Age 29
    • Seen May 16, 2024

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    Chapter 10: Bulldoze

    👤 Ft. Aquacorde as Casey Holt 🏙️ Saffron City 🕙 May 31st, Late Noon / Evening

    Jordan instinctively swings back once again as cloven orange hooves fly in his direction. He purses his lips, swiveling the Skiddo around and pushing her gently in the direction of Parsley. He sighs. Parsley the Gogoat, all grown up. Kind of. They're working through some other stuff too, but right now he and Casey have something else on the docket for today.

    He stoops down next to Sage. "We're playing a little game-" Her tail starts wagging at the word. "Parsley's gonna throw some seeds at you, and you just kick 'em out of the air. A point for you for each seed you kick, and a point for Parsley for each seed that lands. Got it?" A small lick on the nose. He smiles, patting her rump. "Alright, let's go."

    Jordan takes a few steps back, before waving his arms to Casey. "Ready!"

    "Alright!" Casey nudges Parsley into readying up. "You're controllin' aim and power. Hit the ground just past her."

    Parsley forms a seed in his mouth and aims it slightly to Sage's side- luckily not the side Jordan is closer to. Her reaction is fast but the Skiddo's legs strike through the air again, narrowly missing the target. "Oop- point to Parsley, but no problem, we're practicing. Give her a few more, probably just needs to get used to how he throws now and how the seeds fall."

    "Yeah- maybe not so much power in that, baby boy. Just enough to get it in the right place, yeah?"

    Parsley's next falls well short of Sage, which he huffs about, but the third is better- a little slower, and makes it into Sage's kicking range. She strikes this one confidently, kicking it back in Parsley's direction.

    "That's it! Good job, Sage!" The Skiddo gleefully jumps around as Jordan kneels down to pet and praise her. In the corner of his eye, he notices a small figure gliding over. "Oh- hey Tiny, what's up?"

    The Pumpkaboo floats in front of them, tossing a small seed in her hands - does she want to play too? - but Jordan's smile quickly dissipates as he realizes what she's holding. "Ah, oh- I appreciate the, uh, enthusiasm, but that might not be the best idea - just in case, you know, it misses or Sage kicks it and it lands on one of us-" Jordan doesn't need a repeat of his Worry Seed-driven night of insomnia. "So let's just put that away-"

    Tiny looks disappointed but obliges. Casey, with an air of suspicion, calls out to ask what the problem is.

    "Oh, I think she's bored. She wants to play, but her moves aren't the most… compatible with this exercise." The Pumpkboo lets him gently knock her around between his hands as he quietly ponders what to do to entertain her while they train.

    "Does she… want to do that?" Casey asks, all wary hesitation.

    "Yeah, throwing seeds, I guess. But she's only got Worry Seed, and Bullet Seed's too fast to be kicked." Jordan shrugs.

    "Well- yeah, I guess so." Casey ponders this briefly. "Maybe I can just- play? With her?"

    "Oh- really?" Jordan is pleasantly surprised, but thinks it best to not question it too much. "Yeah, yeah! Of course. Alright, Tiny - wanna go hang out with Casey for a bit?"

    The Pumpkaboo spirals out of his hands and glances between the two boys. She probably finds it a bit strange, too, no doubt having picked up on some… tense feelings Casey has around her. But Jordan gives her an encouraging nod, and she curiously glides on past the training Parsley and Sage to where he is standing.

    Casey reaches out, both hands cupped, and lets Tiny drop into them. He stares at her for a long moment, eyes a little too wide. "Okay. I have you now."

    Jordan watches the interaction anxiously, unsure of what to expect. Well, he did volunteer. It'll be fine. And he has no choice but to leave them be, as a light tugging sensation at his left foot alerts him to the Skiddo chewing his shoelaces. "Okay! Okay! Back to your training. Parsley?" He calls out.

    "Listen to Jordan, baby boy," Casey says, a little vaguely, not looking away from his staring match with Tiny. Parsley shakes himself and throws a bulky seed toward Sage. Another sharp kick sends it back.

    "Great! You're getting the hang of this fast." Jordan beams as he watches. He does wonder how they are going to transition from this to actually learning Bulldoze, but they'll cross that bridge when they come to it. And the leg training is definitely somewhere on that bridge, so this is progress.

    He lets them train uninterrupted for a bit - Sage whiffs a couple kicks here and there but for the most part she is increasingly getting better with them, and the seeds are being launched farther and farther as she progressively gets stronger and more confident with it. Jordan's feeling pretty good about the training so far - so good, in fact, he forgot to pay attention to the other half of their party. It's unusual for Casey to be so quiet for so long, but when he does check- it's not so much that Casey isn't talking, just that his mouth is forming words under his breath at the pace of stress while he bops Tiny gently between his hands as Jordan had been doing earlier. Jordan squints, trying to decipher the Pumpkaboo's inscrutable expression. He can't tell if she's having fun or okay with the speed at which she's being transferred from hand to hand or not, but she's allowing it, at least.

    As Sage continues to nail the kicks, Jordan decides it's time to move on to something even closer to Bulldoze. "Okay, great! Let's see… Parsley, could you maybe roll the seeds over instead of throwing them? Then Sage, you can kind of-" He makes a stomping motion with his own feet and Sage gently mimics him.

    Parsley tries, over and over again, changing angle and power and even whipping his head as though bowling, but the seeds simply refuse to roll- they break on contact with the ground, spreading patches of thick roots in the space between the two goats. Casey snaps his head around at the sound of Parsley's huffy frustration and watches him try once more. "Not gonna work," the boy says, tone clipped and hands still bouncing Tiny between them. "Lay down and spit straight."

    Parsley petulantly flops to the ground but is quickly appeased when the seeds start making it to Sage again, skimming just along the top of the grass. Sage's ear twitches, suddenly alert. She jumps awkwardly at the first seed that tumbles over to her and crushes the next one under her hoof.

    "Yes!" Jordan pumps his fist in the air, ignoring the other seeds that roll past her un-stomped. "Keep at it!"

    "Put all your weight behind it," Casey advises. "I think that's what'll make this happen fastest."

    It takes a while for Sage to fully translate the power behind her kicks into swiftly and accurately stomping on to the seeds, especially as Parsley also improves his rolling techniques, but they are both getting the hang of the exercise, until suddenly-

    "W-woah!" Jordan, standing the closest to her, feels the faint effects of… something first. The earth rumbles and ripples out from under the Skiddo, but the reach isn't very far. "Did you guys feel that?" Parsley rolls over languidly, which… seems like a no. Casey wanders curiously closer, pushing Tiny through the air in front of him.

    "Nothin' over there, no."

    "Hm. Okay, well, there was definitely something here," Jordan says, almost reassuringly to Sage, even though she just looks like she's having a good time crushing seeds. "So, let's keep going." He gestures to Parsley to keep them coming.

    Jordan dances awkwardly from spot to spot, trying not to get in the way but feeling for tremors in the ground near the Skiddo. Gradually, they come more consistently and the radius feels wider, prompting Jordan to move almost all the way over to where Casey is standing.

    "I think we have it," Jordan says confidently as he continues watching Sage. Faintly, he can see a glowing aura pulsating from her hooves each time she stomps. "Stop the seeds?"

    Casey waves vaguely at Parsley, though the Gogoat has already paused at Jordan's request.

    "Sage!" Jordan calls out. "Can you try that technique without Parsley's help?"

    The Skiddo hesitates, but as she raises a hoof to stomp down and glances over to see Jordan's encouraging, fervent nods, the same glow he saw earlier radiates from her hoof again, and she puts her weight into the move. The ground shakes, threatening to topple everyone in range except for Tiny, who is floating listlessly and glancing down casually to watch the cracks form in the dirt.

    "Yeah! That's it, right?" Jordan begins cheering, looking over to Casey for confirmation- his friend cheers with him, throwing hands (and Tiny) in the air. Looks Bulldoze-y to both of them, then. "Right! Bulldoze!" He runs over to Sage and grunts as he picks up the Skiddo. She wriggles to turn in his arms and lick his face. "Alright, let's spend a bit more time refining that, but good progress today. Great progress!" He declares as he sets her back down.

    "Super cool," Casey grins. "Let's go have another celebratory dinner, huh?"

    Party

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Tangles
    Tangela | F | Lvl. 31

    Ingrain
    Constrict
    Absorb
    Vine Whip
    Sleep Powder
    Poison Powder

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Hop
    Pidgeotto | M | Lvl. 31

    Headbutt
    Pluck
    Twister
    Mirror Move
    Roost
    Wing Attack

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Spirit
    Alolan Cubone | M | Lvl. 29

    Retaliate
    Focus Energy
    Feint Attack
    Bone Club
    Headbutt
    Swords Dance

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Sage
    Skiddo | F | Lvl. 26 ↑ 28

    Tackle
    Growth
    Vine Whip
    Play Nice
    Razor Leaf
    Leech Seed

    TRAINERS (IC)


    Tiny
    Pumpkaboo | F | Lvl. 26

    Razor Leaf
    Shadow Sneak
    Confuse Ray
    Scary Face
    Worry Seed
    Trick-or-Treat



    ???
    ??? | ? | Lvl. -

    It appears to move occasionally. It may be close to hatching.​

    Inventory

    - Pokédex
    - Pokégear
    - 2-person tent
    - Tangles' plant

    TRAINERS (IC)
    Moon Stone

     

    Aquacorde

    ⟡ dig down, dig down ⟡
  • 12,514
    Posts
    19
    Years
    Casey Holt & Gwen Alanis & Jordan Springs
    Saturday, June 1, 2019 // Golden Hour, Day 13
    Saffron City
    10-31. you can't stop me // so who gon' stop me

    Spoiler: tick tick boom - sage the gemini

    There is a simple, packed-dirt battlefield marked off with white lines on the banks of Saffron's winding river, just a small part of a meandering green space protected from urban sprawl. Ripples in the water sparkle golden with every sigh of chill, humid wind rushing across the waterway. Casey, with the sensibilities of one from Pewter City, appreciates the way the edges of the park line themselves with little shops and stands before spiking abruptly into the towering skyline Saffron is known for. It's a fun juxtaposition.

    Also juxtaposed, to his lazy stroll leading Jordan along paved trails, is Gwen tapping her foot impatiently inside one of the trainer's boxes, repeatedly checking her phone before looking up to see the two had arrived.

    "There you are Casey! Jeez, it took you like, a gorillion years to get here!" She playfully complains. "And- hey, you're the guy from the tournament! What was it, Jordan?"

    "Um- yes, actually. Hey." The boy responds. Lowering his voice so only Casey could hear, he also adds, "Dunno if I should be concerned she's unsure already, or impressed she remembered at all."

    "The latter," Casey sighs under his breath, then turns up the volume for Gwen. "Y'know, it's the tournament that made me think of this." He makes a point of nonchalance, as if it'd only vaguely occurred to him and not that he'd been thinking about it near-constantly for a day and a half. "I ain't been battling too much lately, just general trainin'. So it'll be interesting to see how I hold up to a tournament champion, huh?"

    Gwen crosses her arms and grins, teeth exposed and all. "I guess if you want to improve it's best to practice against the best, huh? Me and my team have gotten way better since last time we battled- though I'm sure that was obvious from our tournament battles."

    "Yeah, you got a lot goin' on there." He still thinks it's too much. How can she be training them well, when she has so many?

    Well, the answer should be- she can't. That's the whole point of doing this, isn't it? To prove to her that she's not the pinnacle, and that she should have some grace and humility, because there's always further to go and more to experience. "You'll be able to take me on with tournament rules, then, obviously. Pre-choosin' three a side and all that."

    Gwen nods. "Right- and I'm only using three. No dirty tricks this time."

    "Yeah?" Briefly, Casey wonders if what she pulled last time truly was dirty- there had been no rules, had there? No referees or judges. Anything goes, in the field. And he has to be prepared for anything, doesn't he? But for now- he shakes his head lightly. "Tell ya what- how 'bout you pick your three now and put the others on the ground. You know my three. Should be easy choices, right?"

    "Way ahead of you." Gwen says, popping three of her Pokeballs into her jacket pockets and placing the belt itself on the ground. "And don't worry. Bead isn't gonna be showing up today."

    "Uh-" Well, that renders this afternoon relatively pointless, doesn't it? "I mean, he can if you want?"

    "Huh?" Gwen cocks up a brow. "But I thought you were scared of ghosts? You got pretty mad when I sent him out back on Route 12, so I figured I'd leave him with the others who won't be fighting. If you're scared of Bead, that'd just make things too easy. If I'm gonna be League Champion someday I shouldn't take advantage of people's fears like I did that one time."

    Casey's turn to mimic her quirked brow. Is this growth? he wonders. If it is, that's good and all, but there's so much more room for improvement. "Suit yourself, I s'pose, but he sure didn't stop me last time, did he?"

    "True," Gwen shrugs. "But still, I only did that because I was desperate. But that won't happen now." Slowly, she reaches for her pocket, pulling a Pokeball out as her smirk returns. "Besides, I really wanna show you how much some of these guys have grown!"

    Casey shifts into a ready stance, chosen PokéBall in hand. "Jordan, count us in."

    "I'm- what?" Jordan's head snaps in his direction. "Uh, okay. Three, two, one, go…?" He awkwardly waves his arms like he's starting a race. Casey stifles a laugh and throws.

    Two Pokémon materialize on the field- on Casey's side, of course, Ginger, ready to take out her brittle emotions on whoever crosses her. And on Gwen's side is Pix, whose Drought ability brightens the dimming sky- or so it looks like anyways. But either way, the amplified light will undoubtedly make Pix's fire attacks more dangerous. No skating this round, apparently.

    "Quick Attack, then!"

    Ginger darts forward and to the left, her aim as usual to use the speed boost for positioning rather than impact. She's not quick enough though- Pix escapes underground with Dig, and Casey tells Ginger to hold- though he doesn't really have to. She knows; she knows to watch and listen and take a ready stance, one foot ready to push her forward. Pix bursts out from the ground behind Ginger and shoots a Flamethrower at close range. The flames lick at her fur, but Ginger can take the heat- at least for the split second it takes her to tuck and roll, to get her powerful ears under her and spring up and backwards, loading Normal-type energy into her right foot and coming down on Pix's back. Pix yelps, but spits a ball of fire onto the ground that expands into a vortex of flames, trapping them both.

    No skating, sure, but ice turns to water and Triple Axel eases the burn as Ginger hits the ground and rolls inside the whirling tornado. A soggy, muddy bunny may be a protected one but is also such an angry one, and her rage comes through in the repeated stomps on Pix's tails, alternating reasonably effective Fighting power and sloppy wet stomps. "Ginger- it's just gonna evaporate off her- do Dizzy Punch, it's better here-!"

    "Pix, get outta there!"

    Pix dodges Ginger's sudden spring toward her head and slips into the hole she burst from earlier, appearing from the other end that was previously dug up. She then sticks her snout deep into the hole and shoots a stream of flames that spikes out of the other end like a pillar, blocking it off. Between that and the still-swirling fire, Ginger seems locked in place- or would be, if she didn't have such a temper. Mud splashes around her feet in the dry heat and she rolls through a puddle of her own making, the weight of her fur offset by the speed boost of Quick Attack, hurling her little body through the spinning flames and into Pix's craning neck. Mud cracks and splatters on impact, and Pix yelps, using Quick Attack a little too late to put distance between them.

    "Goddamn!" Gwen shouts, Pokeball in hand. "That was pretty badass! But I think Pix can take some time to relax- Tusk, let's go!"

    Tusk takes Pix's side of the field, and seeing a rival of his, he glares at Ginger- though his lack of tusks probably lessens the effectiveness of that. To give himself the advantage he spins around furiously, draconic energy flowing through his body, and he lets out a mighty "KYEEEEEW!" once powered up.

    "Ice, ice, ice-" Casey calls, feet shuffling in place to pre-emptively mimic the skating Ginger falls into- well, no, sliding, it's just sliding- Pix's intensified sun hasn't waned quite enough. "Get behind, then!"

    Quick Attack is their positioning scheme, of course, taunting Tusk into following Ginger darting around him in circles. That terrible little dance should have made him dizzy- Casey wants to keep him spinning, set him off-balance. Tusk is powerful but not nearly as nimble as Ginger!

    "Tusk!" Gwen cries, cupping her hands around her mouth. "You gotta hang in there- if you can hear me, stand still!"

    Though the response is a bit delayed, miraculously enough Tusk is able to comply- he's not too far gone, not yet anyways. He comes to a halt, fumbling a bit, but plants his feet in the ground and resists the urge to chase that pesky little rabbit. Fine, then, they can go at it another way- Ginger plants herself behind Tusk and Casey pulls out Dizzy Punch once more, bounding stomp aiming to crush Tusk's stubby tail.

    "Counter! Now!"

    Before Ginger lands a hit, Tusk's tail is coated in metal, and it's noticeably thicker than usual. Ginger stomps, and Tusk turns around to slash her with his claws that are consumed by a powerful draconic aura that expands its power and range. The little bunny is flung backwards, rolling to a halt just in front of Gwen, and her shrill, indignant screech echoes across the field as she is yanked back into her PokéBall. Tusk, seeing this withdrawal, roars victoriously- even if their battle isn't over yet.

    Switching strategies aren't a familiar routine for Casey, not really. Parsley canters forward in her place, longer legs covering ground much faster on a battlefield than he's ever done before. "Woah- Parsley evolved!" Gwen's eyes sparkle as if she forgot she was in the middle of a battle. "That's so cool- but we're still gonna win this! Tusk, Taunt!"

    Generally, taking on a moving target isn't easy- it's why Casey does what he does, why his Pokémon never stop moving. But a Taunt relies purely on attention, and his Pokémon are anything but inattentive. Damn, that's half of Parsley's moves locked away for a while to make room for the stomping and snorting and posturing and charging, but hey- they're adaptable, too.

    Vines lash out, one to slap and distract and the other to wrap and pull, throwing Tusk high into the air. Such a small Pokemon should be terrified for their life when thrown up as Tusk is, but being pumped up on all this power has made him fearless. While falling down he spins midair of his own violation, charging up more and more draconic energy. Whatever his plans were though will remain a mystery, as Gwen recalls him before he can land- though in turn, Casey takes the opening Pursuit was meant for, Parsley charging fast as he's ever been able and leaping to slam his thick horns into Tusk's dematerializing body.

    "Shit!" Gwen clicks her tongue. Habitually she reaches to place his Pokeball to her belt before just sticking it back into her pockets. "He might be able to keep going, but for now… Pix, let's go!"

    Fire against grass- it was to be expected, but Casey was hoping she would have left Pix out longer. Oh well, he won't leave his baby boy to weather that storm- Pepper replaces Parsley on the field, and Casey throws him two tanbō for him to catch in tandem. Pix uses Quick Attack, though not to attack. Rather, she circles around Pepper, stopping at various points to try and catch his attention.

    "Hey, that's my move," Casey complains. "I don't wanna look at that- Smokescreen!"

    Thick, ashy smoke plumes from Pepper's mouth and rolls outward. Gwen doesn't look all that bothered though. If anything, the opposite seems to be true because she can't hold back the most conniving looking grin.

    "We'll see how well that works out for you." She chuckles through her teeth, laughing like a cartoon villain.

    It would be kind of adorable, how slick she thinks she is, if he wasn't literally trying to teach her a lesson about being annoying.

    "Pepper, to me." The Charmeleon rolls out of the smoke and stands ready, facing Casey. "Get ready," he whispers, crouching down to place his own hands on the ground. Part of being a trainer is being your Pokémon's eyes and ears- and hands, maybe, in rare cases. "Charge Dragon Breath as much as you can without letting it go. When I say, you're gonna release it straight down."

    The smoke dissipates behind Pepper as they wait, Casey's eyes unfocused in Gwen's vague direction. The other trainer will leave this up to her Pokémon's discretion- no way to see underground, to understand what is happening down there. How can you help your Pokémon when you can't see them? It's a struggle even with Pepper's Smokescreen, gone already from the field. Trust in your Pokémon is key for any trainer, of course, but can a Pokémon trust their trainer to do the right thing without any information at hand?

    His hand feels information.

    "Now, Pepper!"

    The release of draconic energy flings Casey on his ass and Pepper into the air. Pix emerges headfirst into a blazing blue beam, any momentum she was building up stopped in its tracks by wild downward force. By the time the energy finally dissipates and Pepper begins to fall back toward the field, Pix lays half in the hole and half in crumbled dirt, unable to stand despite her best efforts. And Gwen isn't happy to see this.

    "C'mon Pix! We can't just give in now! Come on!"

    That belief that something will happen if a Pokémon just tries harder is something that Casey can't get on board with. How can you tell a Pokémon that has given everything that it needs to give more? That you expect it to always be up, always be fighting, without a care for the extremes it was pushed to? Even if Pix is trying her absolute best to get back on her feet, she's clearly incapable of it. All eyes are on Pix as they continue to watch her struggle, until finally, Jordan clears his throat and timidly calls out, "Okay, so, it looks like Pix is no longer able to battle…?" Gwen, growing frustrated, returns her to her Pokeball, and pulls out a Lure Ball.

    "Come on King! We're not giving up yet!"

    The atrocious Pokémon screeches loudly as if to assert dominance, glaring down at Pepper with piercing eyes. One switch left already, but there's no question that Casey will use it here. "Let Pepper come back, hey? Don't wanna leave his tanbō on the field."

    Gwen crosses her arms and pouts. Really? Is she disappointed in his refusal to allow her to endanger his Pokémon like that? He'll use his switches as they're meant to be used, barring his questionable first go.

    With Pepper safely at his side, Ginger's back on the field- still muddy and irritated, facing down a serpent smaller but perhaps better trained than the one she'd felled a week ago. Should we take the same route here? Gwen had seen that, sure, but would she expect it?

    Ginger ices the ground below her feet, skating in close to the grounded serpent but well away from his gaping maw. And that distance is only heightened when King flops against the ground, pushing himself to float in the air. The Gyarados lunges his maw forward, exposing jagged fangs as he goes in for a Crunch. But a Crunch at what? A Buneary that stops in her tracks at her trainer's call and springs back and high, high into the air, arcing above as the sea dragon shoots forward? Those fangs won't- can't!- tear into a little passenger on the back of its own neck. He violently twists and writhes in an effort to shake a sparking Ginger off his body until Gwen gives her solution.

    "King! Waterfall!"

    Water cascades down from King's head, and quickly covers the rest of his body. With his speed increased, he circles around the battlefield, crackling electricity the only indication of Ginger's grim determination to hold fast. And even that disappears shortly, drenched Buneary shooting down King's thrashing body like a swimmer down a waterslide, hitting the ground with a disgusting splat somewhere near Gwen's marked box.

    "Whoa- Ginger!" Casey dances on tiptoes at the edge of his own place, craning his neck to see across the field. "Are you down? Is she down?" he asks, slight panic catching at his throat. She's the toughest of his three, of course, but that doesn't mean she can take everything. And shouldn't!

    But with heaving effort she rises, soggy but powerwashed, and still willing to fight.

    Should he let her?

    He doesn't want to. She's already worked so hard, and they haven't truly battled like this in a while. Hell, Ginger's barely done any training recently. She's out of condition, moreso than the other two, and Casey bites his lip and curses himself for not remembering. But too, she wants to fight, she always wants to fight, always wants to prove her strength and her skill.

    It comes down to, in his mind, nothing to do with Ginger at all. It's to do with the risk assessment for Pepper and Parsley against big, dangerous King. In most circumstances, he'd pull her back, no question. But when his goal, truly, is to win- when his goal aligns with hers…

    Casey slides into a braced, ready stance, same as Ginger takes far down the field. "Hold," he commands, for her sake, and for her own sake she listens.

    Pepper Bomb • Charmeleon • lv43 | Ginger • Buneary • lv39 | Parsley • Gogoat • lv40
    Casey's Profile | Jordan's Profile | Gwen's Profile | Extra Characters | Art Gallery | Current Chapter
     
    Last edited:
  • 302
    Posts
    9
    Years
    Gwen Alanis
    Saturday, June 1st
    Afternoon
    Saffron City
    God, why can't that rabbit just fucking go down already!?

    This battle really shouldn't be as difficult as it is. Not when she just won four different battles in a row. Casey is more than competent, sure, but he wasn't the one who won that damn tournament!

    This is frustrating. She should have won already. And why is Ginger still in battle? Gwen knows how durable that bunny is, but why wasn't she withdrawn? Wasn't Casey the one who told her not to push her Pokemon when they've clearly reached their limit?

    Gwen ruffles her hair, stressed and irritated. She can almost feel herself getting lost in her own thoughts, but she puts a stop to it. Focus Gwen! Ginger should be able to go down with a few more hits!

    "King! Waterfall!"

    Gwen points forward, replicating dramatic poses she's seen in anime. In her head her jacket is blowing in the wind as if it's a cape, but in reality it just stays in place. Water torrents down King as he charges straight for Ginger, who does nothing at all. Nothing at all until Casey yells a command, and then she jumps into the rushing water, strong Buneary ears parting the wave to dive. It's hard to see where she goes, but electricity begins to flow through King's watery shell once more, centered somewhere near his head on the side closest to Gwen. The power of the electricity is only amplified when conducted by the water, and King is absolutely fried. His blood curdling screeches emphasize just how much he's suffering from the attack, and he goes down, all 500 pounds crashing into the field. Gwen couldn't be more frustrated.

    Full of bitterness, Gwen withdraws King. She grits her teeth and clenches her fist.

    "You may have taken down King, but that's because you just got lucky!" She declares. "I'm not going easy on you anymore!"

    "Shouldn't'a been goin' easy in the first place. Where's your respect?" Casey says mildly.

    "I-" Casey really called her bluff, huh? Obviously she never "went easy" on him and being called out like that has her blushing. "Uh- I- ah, what-fucking-ever! Let's just keep battling already!"

    Gwen looks down to her last Pokeball. All she's left with is Tusk. She really wants to just send him out and have him use Dragon Dance as much as possible, but she knows that'll backfire. But the temptation is strong. The strategy only really backfired against Ari because of Lulu's immunity to dragon-types, and none of Casey's Pokemon share that immunity. Honestly it'd be kind of satisfying. Gwen herself feels rage building up within her, and seeing Tusk go wild would be cathartic.

    "Alright Tusk, we got this! Come on out and win this!"

    "Ginger." Casey calls. The Buneary's ears go flat against her skull and her eyes narrow, clearly anticipating a command she won't like. "Get one good hit in and come back." Her ears flick back up, and the ground beneath her feet ices over.

    "Come on boy, Dragon Dance, and don't stop!!" Tusk smirks, and spins around, filling himself with energy his body is too small to properly contain. This continues, and soon enough he's blinded with rage, much like his trainer.

    "Let's see you try to take this on!" Gwen shouts, followed up with another cartoonish cackle. Tusk charges forward with a speed previously unseen by him, and an ungodly amount of dragon-type energy forms around his claws as it's about to slash Ginger. And instead of dodging, instead of maneuvering around this threat, she meets him head-on, skating at speed and spinning into a kick that collides with Tusk's amped-up attack. Using the force of the impact, she springs backwards- out of range and skating again, all the way back to her trainer.

    "Thank you." Casey grins down at Ginger, who huffs and plops down at his feet to start combing out her messy fur. Gwen freezes from shock. Words can't describe just how dissatisfied she is. No words except-

    "What the FUCK!?!?" Gwen holds her fist up and she frantically shifts her glance between Casey and Tusk lying on the field. "You- what? How? How the hell- what!?"

    "Oh- is he down? I was gonna have Parsley finish up." Casey sticks a PokéBall back in his pocket, apparently unsure what to do with himself.

    Gwen hasn't been this humiliated in awhile. She spent all this time hyping herself up but Casey poked a needle in that balloon. This can't make her look good in-front of him. And even if she had only just met Jordan yesterday, he probably doesn't have the greatest impression of her after her defeat. What would everyone else think if they found this out? Would they think any less of her? Would Vera just use this as an excuse to make a few quips at Gwen's expense? It's overwhelming. So overwhelming in-fact that all Gwen can think to do is pull at her hair and yank it back and forth as she fights the incoming tears.

    "Goddamnit!"

    "You put up a good fight, you know." Casey's in front of her somehow. When had he moved? "Thanks for indulging me, I appreciate the match." He holds out his hand for the traditional handshake.

    "Why does it matter if I put up a good fight? I lost!" Despite her best efforts, tears still find a way to escape. Casey lowers his hand uncertainly, tilting his head.

    "I mean. Didn't you have fun? Even if you lost, it was fun t' let your Pokémon fight an' figure out strategies an' show their skills an' see what interestin' things come out of the whole situation. Like-"

    "You don't understand!" Gwen faces the ground to hide how much she's crying. "I was supposed to win! I won an entire tournament for Arceus' sake, I should be better than this! Why did I lose like that?"

    "Because every battle is different, and you're not gonna be the best or come out on top all the time." Casey says this as a simple fact, without judgement. "Just 'cause people win sometimes doesn't mean they're always gonna win. Didn't your own sister say somethin' like that?"

    "I guess, but-" She sniffles. "I dunno, that's- look, that's different! I just, I should just be past this level already! Lots of strong trainers become famous when they're younger than me! Red was only 11 when he became champion, and even in Unova you have Iris, who was both a gym leader and a champion! And she's just a kid! Why am I not like that yet!?" Tugging at her hair so much has caused the hair ties holding her space buns in place to loosen up. "All those people in the stadium were cheering for me. They must have thought I was the best- imagine how they'd feel if they found out I lost to someone who didn't even enter the tournament! And not even just them- how would Ari feel!? I was supposed to win the tournament for her, but I went and lost a regular battle after that! What about Courtney or Sarah- they'd just think I'm some kind of loser!" Feeling overloaded with all the negative thoughts, Gwen rapidly shakes her upper body back and forth.

    "Hey, what? How're you even gonna be the next Red when you didn't even go to trainer's school 'til you were thirteen?" Casey crosses his arms and taps his foot. "Red did that like, over a decade ago. The laws've even changed. And hey, guess what? I can name more champions that got that title in their adulthood than their teens. And even more, do you think none o' them ever lost? You think their whole run-up to champion and their whole trainer career, none o' them lost? You ever listened to Brendan Birch's memoirs? He says specifically that he an' May Norman an' Wally Greene traded wins and losses their whole journey. So why you bein' crazy 'bout it?" He pauses, just for a second, before- "And. There was only sixteen slots in the tournament anyway. How can you even say t' yourself that you're undeniably the best in our graduating class?"

    "How can I say that? What do you mean 'how can I say that'? Did you see my grades for all the Pokemon-related classes!? I was leagues ahead of everyone else! Hell, forget Cape- I've been learning about Pokemon for as long as I can remember! I grew up with an older sister who was a trainer, it's been a part of my damn life for like, my entire life! Of course I'm the best of our class!"

    Casey sighs heavily and starts to tick things off on his fingers. "Bruno matched you assignment for assignment in theory classes. You may've been consistently top across the Pokémon classes but that don't mean you were gettin' A-pluses and the rest of us were C students. You don't got any clue how any of us compare to Safari students or ones from small schools. You're not the only one who's been learnin' about Pokémon your whole life. And you're damn well not the only one with a trainer sibling." His hands ball in fists at his side and he seems like he instantly regrets his next words. "I know you know who Aurelia Holt is."

    "...Wait, are you related to her?" Gwen shakes her head. "That doesn't matter! What are you trying to say, that I'm a bad trainer?"

    "Nah. I'm sayin' you ain't special, and gotta stop actin' like you're so much better'n everyone else." Casey's arms are folded tight, but the words feel like a slap in the face anyway. "We're all on equal footin'. Get over yourself."

    As much as it stings to admit it, Casey's right. Gwen herself had basically acknowledged this the other day when asking Bethany for advice, though it's still not great to admit. Gwen tenses up and almost involuntarily finds herself making noises that can only be described as grunting under her breath. Her body slowly hunches and her hands make their way back to her hair and she rocks her head back and forth.

    "Hey-" Casey reaches for her upper arm, tone falling into concern. Not that Gwen really notices, and her movements only seem to move faster as she takes a few steps back.

    "Sorry!" She cries, sounding more agonized than apologetic. "Gah, I didn't want you to see me like this! I didn't want you to see me lose like that, and- I've been causing problems this entire time, haven't I? Argh, I'm sorry!"

    "Uh-" Casey's words are coming faster, too. "I mean, you just gotta think about other people- literally it's not even a big deal to lose and like, you're allowed to know you're good but you- ya can't say you're good because other people suck, you can't be puttin' people down just to hype yourself up. You gotta be good to people, too. How're people s'posed to root for you if you're nasty to other people? Just- just be nice..."

    "What the hell are you talking about!?" Gwen flails her arms out. "When do I put people down? Have you heard me talking about Ari? Courtney? Jenny?"

    "Have you heard yourself talkin' about literally anybody else?" Casey challenges. "You were mean to Vera, everyone in the stadium saw it. You refused to celebrate Jordan or let anyone else celebrate him. You basically just said that our whole graduating class sucks compared to you. You basically just told me that beating you has to be a fluke, 'cause there ain't no way anyone could beat a junior level tournament champion. You're constantly belittling people and their skills and- and you're not even that nice to Arianne! You didn't even battle her all out because you wanted to make her feel better about herself or somethin'- that's disrespectful! Like when you just tried to tell me you weren't goin' all out. Bullshit!"

    "I'm sorry!" She instinctively yelps, eyes welling up again. "I really didn't mean any of that to sound mean! Hell, how am I supposed to know what I'm saying sounds like I'm being an asshole? I didn't mean to make Jordan feel bad, I just wanted to hear people say how good I was. If he can hear me then I'm sorry!" From the corner of her eye, she could see the boy shifting uncomfortably as he listens quietly. "I wasn't trying to say you suck either, I just, I dunno, I guess my ego got the best of me there! And I didn't even go easy on Ari! I didn't want her to feel bad because I just, well it's hard to explain, but like, I've just never had a friend I liked as much as her and seeing her feel bad makes me feel like shit! I'm really sorry!" Gwen plants her face into her palms, bawling uncontrollably. "I'm sorry! I really am! I don't even know who Vera is, but I'm sorry about that too! Please don't be mad at me!"

    "I'm allowed to be mad at people who hurt my friends," Casey sighs. "Start carin' about people, that's my advice. Learn names and bother rememberin' facts; that's how you make friends, even. Get your shitty ego under control. Pro tip: if what you say boils down to I'm great and you suck, it's mean. No way 'round it."

    All Gwen says in response is "I'm sorry" over and over as she wails endlessly. Somehow Casey keeps finding more ways to add salt to the wound. And then, even worse- he reaches out and tugs one of her falling-apart buns- There's that feeling again. "Hey- you're a good girl, I bet. Just gotta start payin' better attention."

    Gwen blushes and wipes her tears away with her sleeve. "Uh, th-thanks I guess. I should try listening to your advice, but like, paying attention and remembering things is really hard sometimes, it's nearly impossible."

    "If you decide to care, it ain't gonna be." Casey insists. "You remember all kindsa crap. If you can remember a list of mediocre pro trainer names and stuff about 'em, you can remember the people you're journeying with. Just decide it's important to know."

    "Uh… okay." Gwen straightens out her posture. "Yeah. I'll try… thanks. And I know I already said it but like… I'm sorry for making it sound like I said you suck at battling. I don't think you suck at all, really, you put up a really good fight!"

    "Thanks." Casey quirks a quick smile. "You did too, remember that." And he offers a handshake to her once again to which Gwen accepts this time.

    "I'll be sure to keep that in mind." She chuckles. "But uh, one more thing… we're still friends, right?"

    "Uh… sure, yeah."

    A meek but happy grin slowly forms across Gwen's face. They may have had that conversation already, but having reassurance is always good- friends weren't something she had a lot of, afterall. Even if his answer was a little hesitant, it makes Gwen giddy nonetheless. So much so that she ends up forgetting to let go of Casey's hand. He tugs it away eventually.

    "Right. Anyway. We should probably get back before it's super dark." The sun has almost dropped below the horizon, now, and the streetlamps light more of the area than anything else. "Goodnight, Gwen."

    "Goodnight!" Jordan rejoins his friend as the conflict subsides, evidently relieved.

    "Y-yeah. Uh, bye!" As the two walk off, Gwen makes a stiff waving motion. Hopefully the next time they meet will be less embarrassing for her.

    TRAINERS (IC)
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    Spoiler:

    CCS and art by Aquacorde
     
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    Aquacorde

    ⟡ dig down, dig down ⟡
  • 12,514
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    19
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    Casey Holt
    Sunday, June 2, 2019 // Early Morning, Day 14
    Saffron City
    10-33. go see the world 'cause it's all so brand new

    "Look, no, look, it goes to this one-"

    "Oh, yeah, sure-"

    Sorley chatters away as they show Casey the ropes- well, buckles and straps- of the saddle they'd gotten ready for Parsley in what small amounts of spare time they've had over the past few days. Stained, polished, and custom-tooled- Casey is refusing to let it be a gift, and he isn't particularly strong at haggling. So it will remain a gift, from Sorley to himself- until Sorley finds the wad of bills shoved into a cubby of their workbench. Hopefully he'll be long gone from Saffron before then.

    Saffron itself has been a whirl, hasn't it? Palm was right to give them as much time as he had, and honestly Casey wouldn't mind pacing his journey more like this overall. Maybe when he he's graduated properly and on his next adventure. Palm has always made it clear that this journey's schedule is flexible, but not to an incredible degree. Not to the degree of allowing students to simply wander the region as they please on the school's dime. Sure, Casey himself wouldn't be a drain on such a thing, but graduating on time is also a good goal to have. He can't stay at Cape another year, not after this.

    Pewter wasn't small- isn't small, not at all, but a decade of persistent exploration left little undiscovered. Two years confined mostly to Cape had been uninspiring at best. And so to be part of the world again- it had taken a moment, honestly. A moment to remember how to interact with people, how to navigate a city, how to fundamentally explore a place. Everything the world can offer is a joy- he'd forgotten. He'd been so bored. And hadn't even realized!

    It's thrilling to be so energized again.

    "So, so, you're going with your friends again yes?"

    Even if the world is suddenly difficult to navigate.

    "Uh." Casey fiddles with the straps that are already perfectly cinched. "Well, it's- it's time to leave town, so."

    Sorley rolls their eyes and drapes themselves over Parsley's back as much as they can, given their lack of height. Their calloused hands give fluttering smacks to Casey's, forcing him to stop fidgeting and pay attention. "Non-answers are not answers!"

    "What if I don't got an answer?" Casey pouts.

    "You gotta have an answer, you said it's time to leave town, so." Their imitation of him is terrible but recognizable. Casey's pout deepens. "So. So! You gotta have an answer. Do you leave with your friends or do you leave by yourself? Which've you got, you got Jordan, Vera, um, um, who else- the girl that sent you a cute text?"

    "Gwen?" Casey hazards. "She's not- uh." The fraction-of-a-second pause is not enough to hold his tongue. "She's not my friend, really."

    What?

    He's often surprised by what comes out of his own mouth on instinct, but never has he heard himself say something particularly untrue in those instances. Poorly phrased, often, but never false. And this time is no different: if he follows the train of thought, wrangling truth with support from Sorley's patient ears and podding questions, it becomes a revelation.

    The way he has always defined "friends" is no longer his definition of the term.

    Friends used to simply be people he spoke to regularly and didn't actively dislike. He was friends with his teachers, with classmates- Deen and Flynn and not Bethany- with the people down at North Maple. Further back: the regulars at Hash, the receptionists in his building, the teammates he played with and the people he sparred against. With that definition, with those experiences guiding him: he called Gwen a friend. He called Arianne a friend. He (still) called Esme- Ralph a friend.

    But Ralph also fits into this other category, this new and yet old category. When she was Esmeralda and they played together almost every day, she was what he called his "best" friend. But there were more than just her, even when she was around- Kionte and Erica were his best friends, too, and they still are- but also Jordan is definitely his best friend. Okay, Casey agrees with Sorley- sure, he can have multiple best friends at once. Maybe. But neither the first nor second designation account for the people he actively enjoys but hasn't spent a million hours with- Sorley and Debbie and Bruno and Richard and more people that inevitably will find their way there. Kel? Maybe Kel. Cousins can be friends too.

    But if there's enough people he can truly call friends, people he actually enjoys spending his time with, people who actually make an effort for him and he for them- what does that mean for those who aren't that?

    Sorley hums as they put Parsley through gentle, testing paces in the alley behind the shop, Casey pacing beside them as frequently as his attention allows. "No, I wouldn't say they they're your friends, no."

    "But I told Gwen she was my friend. Twice." This is a sticking point, somehow. "An' she's not so down low on the scale as Bethany."

    "Nah, nah, it's not like that. Even if she's not so low she's still not high, right? If you wanna say, say "friends are people I try to spend time with", that's not really her so maybe she's not a friend."

    "What does it mean if I'm not somebody who's friends with everybody?"

    Sorley ponders this, drumming their fingers on Parsley's horns, and shrieks when the Gogoat bucks them off.

    "Parsley!" Luckily, Casey's on hand to catch Sorley before they hit the ground. Before he can scold his Pokémon, Sorley is apologizing.

    "That's on me, that's on me, they don't like that, I know. They boost up power through their horns to protect 'em when they attack 'cause they're so sensitive otherwise; a handler down the street told me that. Gotta be soft and gentle, sorry Parsley!"

    Parsley huffs and shakes his head before nuzzling into Sorley's outstretched arms. All forgiven, then.

    "You never said Vera I don't think."

    "Huh?" Casey's lost track of his previous rambling already.

    "You never said Vera in your lists of people I don't know and she's someone you talk about. Is she a friend or a best friend or a not-friend?"

    Vera is difficult.

    It's an apt description of her as a person, let alone in Casey's struggle to sort and categorize people and relationships. She is prickly and over-emotional and makes poor choices, but she's also fun to tease and travel with when she's in a good mood. And she's opening up- far cry from her attitude at school- and that's even something to pursue, isn't it? When she's in a good mood and not making shitty choices, Casey does enjoy her company. But there's been plenty of instances where she's not, and he isn't, and it's a rollercoaster.

    How can he categorize that?

    Casey feels Sorley shrug, and realizes he's still supporting most of their weight . "Maybe it doesn't matter?"

    "But I wanna figure it out," Casey complains. Sorley tuts at him.

    "But it's all complicated!" they say, throwing their hands in the air and smacking Casey in the face. "Sorry!" They pat him vaguely, though it ends up more like a few additional smacks. With care behind them, at least. "It's all so so complicated. Friends are complicated and I don't really know how they work which is I guess why- um, um, you just gotta figure out how to say it how it works for you and them!"

    "But what if how I think is way different than how they think and then somebody's not happy about it?"

    "That's just how it goes I think." Sorley huffs. "That's what people do communication for. But also, also, I don't think you have to tell anybody this actually. You can just know."

    Casey sets Sorley back up onto Parsley's back in a less-than-fluid motion. It's weird to have to look up at them. "But I don't know."

    "Well I don't know either, you know."

    "But I gotta know!"

    "Nah." Parsley trots a tight circle around Casey via Sorley's guidance. "You just gotta know what you're doing today. Which is leaving, yes?"

    "Yes." It's leaving and choosing and grappling with feelings that are finally catching up to him. But mostly it's leaving for Celadon, where another checkpoint on his journey awaits. "Wish you'd walk with me," he sighs. Sorley pats his head.

    "Someday, someday, but not this day. Still busy busy! Tournament's not quite over even if I'm done! I got top four again, I told you, right?"

    Sorley chatters on, the ins and outs of tournament structure explained in disjointed bits and pieces, and Casey hangs onto every word. It's so nice to be in-person with a friend and they likely won't be again for some time.

    Best savor it while it lasts.

    Spoiler: when can i see you again? - owl city

    Pepper Bomb • Charmeleon • lv44 | Ginger • Buneary • lv42 | Parsley • Gogoat • lv41
    Casey's Profile | Extra Characters | Art Gallery | Current Chapter
     
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    Eleanor

    Princess Era 🎀
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    art by Aquacorde
    Arianne Chandler
    Saffron City / Pokémon Center
    Saturday, June 1st


    Separate ways

    Saturday night is the time when, as promised, Arianne is able to hear from her friend Serenity once again. On the other end of the line, the blonde girl is bracing herself for the long call she thinks is coming - but the first thing she hears is a deep breath, as Arianne tries to calm herself down.

    "Ari- hm?"

    "Oh sorry. Hi Ren."

    "It's all good, I'm here. How's it going?"

    Typically Arianne would call Serenity when she was at Cape, but either lacked things to do or was too lazy to focus on her studies. The black-haired girl would spit out a whole bunch of stuff about who was at Cape doing what, but then she'd always want to be updated on everything Cinnabar. But this time she's on a journey… she should have even more things to say.

    "Oh, I'm fine. I've had a great stay here in Saffron… for the most part. Today I even tried out a Pokémon musical!"

    And here she proceeds to explain everything about it. Her Pokémon running and dancing around her, then providing electricity for her light-up dress…

    "Nice! What else have you been up to?"

    Normally Serenity didn't need to ask that. And case in point, Arianne seems a bit more cautious when talking about, well, other things.

    "I guess there's some stuff I've been through that, well, feels strange. But…"

    "Nothing bad, right?"

    Arianne grimaces, too bad Ren can't see her. "Eh, not sure, but maybe it's better if we don't think about it." She wouldn't have been this vague on Tuesday night, when the blonde girl was... not really available, but a bunch of things changed Arianne's mind. Like talking with Casey, or the guys near the trainers club that eventually hosted the tournament.

    "No worries. Just focus on your journey - your Pokémon, your classmates - and make the best out of it, ok Ari?"

    Somehow, Serenity finds her friend completely agreeing with her. Whenever they called each other at Cape, Arianne was not like that - she'd keep finding things to discuss or excuses to prolong the call instead of, like, cleaning her room. Meanwhile what the blonde girl was suggesting was… really only a Serenity thing. Ari wasn't like that, even Courtney wasn't like that.

    "It's been a wild ride and it's been how long now? Two weeks? That's nothing, thinking about it…"

    "And now you know how it feels to study… whatever this subject was." A self-complacent Ren replies.

    "But yeah, one thing at a time. You have to come to Cinnabar regardless, don't you? We can always meet up then."

    "Sure, got it."

    The call ends soon after. Serenity blushes, maybe even a little tear shows up, but she tries to keep her composure as she starts texting another person. Arianne actually does the same, following Ren's advice through and through - and to the message that gives her time and place to meet up and head out of Saffron, she answers affirmatively.

    "Ready to go! Let's do this, Vera!"

    TEAM:
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