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  • 1,660
    Vera Hill
    Chapter 10 - Shaping Up and Shipping Out
    Saffron City; Saturday, June 1st, evening

    The past couple days have been just full of things to process, and quite illuminating for Vera. After the excitement of the tournament, and reuniting with Arianne, then preparing for and attending the Contest… she's glad to take this time to just relax in a warm tub. It's a simple pleasure, but she'll take those where she can get them.

    Above all else, she's come to realize she hasn't been taking her graduation journey seriously. Her defeat… nay, her humiliation by Gwen proved that she's nowhere near as strong as she should be, and Arianne's performance showed her what bonds between a Trainer and her Pokémon could be. Maybe even what they should be. Thinking about it, her own bonds with her Pokémon aren't actually that strong. She's almost ashamed to even call herself a Trainer, when she's just been going through the motions thus far.

    What must her Pokémon think of her? Do they enjoy traveling with her? Has she ever even asked them? Some people say they can hear their Pokémon talk to them, can understand what they want from just a gesture, or an expression, but Vera has never felt that. She can't understand her team any better than she could understand a stuffed toy, which is sad considering one of those is an inanimate object with no thoughts or feelings to project.

    She'd set off on this journey with a simple goal: to become a great Trainer. Sure, she wasn't the best student, but with enough determination and hard work she had proven to be at least an average student. But surely that's not all it takes to be great, right? She still lost to Gwen, after all, who she's confident she's smarter than.

    She's collected a full team of Pokémon, but all that proves is that she's competent at catching them. Casey has fewer Pokémon than her, and they've all improved tremendously since he caught them. Maybe she just has too many? But then… Gwen has a full team as well, and… well. Vera knows where that line of thought leads.

    She sighs, banishing those thoughts from her head as she sinks further into the water. Maybe she's putting too much thought into this. Maybe her Pokémon aren't to blame at all. More likely, the only reason she's not a great Trainer yet is because she herself is the problem. A problem she won't solve by comparing herself to others. She'll have to do things her way, no one else's, but that doesn't mean she needs to figure this out by herself.

    After all, she has a team for that.

    Once dried off and back to the main area of her room, she looks at her Pokémon relaxing in their own ways. Iggy is as excited as ever, running circles around Bonnie as she keeps her bone club out of his mouth. Sapphire is curled up in the center of the bed, while Trixie is nestled between the pillows. Squitch lazily floats around the slowly spinning ceiling fan, apparently half asleep, while Ebony peers out the window at the city below. It's a cute scene, if a bit busy, and Vera almost hates to interrupt.

    "Team, we need to talk. Everybody listen up!" There's a general murmur among the Pokémon, some of annoyance, some of curiosity, but at least they all are paying attention. "I don't need to remind you of yesterday's failures, but I want you to know I hold myself responsible. Clearly I haven't trained you all very well, but in my defense, look what I have to work with." She gives them all a stern look, her gaze settling on the first sign of disobedience: Sapphire putting her head down to go back to sleep.

    "I said listen! Sapphire, when we first met, the man at the adoption center said that the Pokémon chooses the human, and that you wanted to travel with me. I think you were just tired of being in that place, and you came with me out of convenience. You don't like battling, you barely listen to me, and you can't maintain your composure to save your life! If you want to be on this team, I need to know I can depend on you, and you haven't shown me that even once."

    Sapphire eyes her coldly, but doesn't offer an argument. Vera turns her attention next to the Inkay still following the fan.

    "Squitch, I don't remember catching you, and I can't even begin to comprehend what goes on in your head. You are aloof, bizarre, and you never interact with the others. Do you even want to be here? Or would you be just as happy literally anywhere you go?"

    Squitch just shrugs, never losing her simple smile. Vera rolls her eyes and turns to the two on the floor.

    "Iggy…" The little Rockruff whimpers slightly as she looks at him, but his tail wags when she says his name. "You never wanted to be a battler, and I've never tried to push you into doing it. I almost think you'd be better off with my sister, but she's more of a cat person. Either way, I need to focus on training, and that's something you don't want."

    Iggy looks at the floor, and Vera moves on before it makes her any sadder. "Bonnie, I know you'll stay by my side if I ask, so let me ask you: is this really what you want? Are you willing to stick with me, or is there somewhere you'd rather go? I could give you to Jordan if you want. He's a better Trainer than me, and you'd get to see Spirit more often. Don't answer just yet, I want you to really think about it."

    Bonnie doesn't react, her helmet blocking her eyes as she keeps her head down. Vera sighs, thinking about Casey's words before she talks to her Ghosts, and how that shouldn't affect her decision.

    "Ebony, you're a coward. You always rise to the occasion when I need you, but you clearly don't want to. Even now you're hiding from me, aren't you?" She looks over at him, and sure enough, he's peering out from behind the curtains. "If this is too much for you, you don't have to come with. I don't want you to feel pressured into this."

    Ebony looks at her with his usual wide eyes, but Vera turns to her last Pokémon, who has moved from the pillows to the foot of the bed, as though daring her Trainer to say something.

    "Trixie. You are reckless, love the spotlight, and besides Bonnie the only one here I'd consider a warrior. Same deal applies. If you stick with me, I expect you to control your temper, to not fly off the handle all the time, and not get yourself in so much trouble. I can't keep fixing or replacing your costume all the time."

    Trixie turns her head with a soft "Hmph!"

    Vera just sighs, holding her arms over her stomach. "So there it is. We all have issues. And none of you would be here if I hadn't brought you with me. So, who wants to stay, and who doesn't? I won't blame any of you, this whole Trainer business isn't for everyone. I'm not even sure it's for me. But I refuse to quit now. I'm staying the course, so who's staying with me?"

    Bonnie and Trixie immediately step forward, brandishing their respective clubs. The two share a glance, then nod at Vera. She smiles a bit, not terribly surprised by this. She is surprised by a soft tug at her hair as Ebony comes to her side as well. He smiles nervously, before trying to look more confident. Iggy barks happily, running up to Vera and jumping playfully around her feet.

    Sapphire looks at all of them, then softly jumps down from the bed. Vera smiles at her, but the smile fades as Sapphire instead goes over to the window and curls up by the curtain, looking at Vera with disgust before putting her head back down.

    "Okay… I guess that's a no. What about you, Squitch?"

    The Inkay shrugs, still smiling, then floats over to the window as well, settling down on the floor by Sapphire. Even though she had expected some to decline, a part of Vera is hurt by their decision. Suspecting it to be her pride, she forces that part of her to be quiet. "I… understand. I won't make you stay. Thank you for being honest, at least. I'll send you both to Professor Palm's first thing in the morning. May as well enjoy this fancy hotel room while we have it, right?"

    Sunday, June 2nd, morning

    Getting up bright and early, Vera makes sure she has everything as she gets ready for the day. Not that she's picked up much during her time here, aside from some new clothes (and a nice new towel from this very hotel), but it wouldn't do to forget anything.

    Making her way downstairs, she briefly wonders what exactly she's going to say, trying to sort out all her thoughts. But when she reaches the lobby and sees her boys at breakfast (someday she'll wake up at the same time as them, she vows), all her thoughts and worries leave her mind. It's Casey and Jordan, they'll understand.

    "Good morning, you two." She tries for casual, but it comes out a little stiff. "Ready to get out of here, get back to business?"

    Casey turns his twitchy jump into a controlled swivel toward her, spoon dangling from his mouth and yogurt-based dish in hand. Whatever he actually says is completely unintelligible, considering the circumstances, but there are undertones of surprise and confusion.

    Vera quirks an eyebrow at him, a small smirk on her own face as she grabs herself an orange juice from the buffet. "Surprised to see me so early? I won't always keep you waiting, you know."

    She doesn't join them at their table, opting instead to lean casually against one nearby. "That's actually what I wanted to talk about, not waiting for me. Or maybe me not waiting for you, I don't know your plans. Either way… I'm going to meet up with Arianne today, and the two of us will be heading out together. I don't know when you guys are leaving, or how long it'll take us all on Route 7… but I figured I'd let you know."

    Casey finally gets the spoon out of his mouth at the same time as a whooshing breath. "That's- okay, yeah, that, sure. That works."

    Vera lets out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. See? This whole "communication" thing isn't so hard. There's not much else in the way of conversation, which is a little awkward, but it's a friendly sort of awkward that they'll probably look back on and laugh about later. Before they leave, Casey reminds Vera that they'll need to meet up at Jordan's house, which she had forgotten about. Some vague semblance of a plan now in place, the boys head out.

    Vera stays behind, feeling better about how they part ways this time. There's a guarantee they'll see each other again. She imagines this is how friends usually part ways, and this small bit of effortless normalcy is reassuring, confirmation that she's making the right choices.

    So, after her own breakfast, she gathers her things and heads out. Her hand pauses over the three Poké Balls at her belt, and she picks Trixie to wait with her by the gate. It may have only been a few days, but she feels like she's aged a whole year in that time. She's looking forward to whatever comes next.

    Cameo by Aquacorde.
  • 1,660
    Vera Hill, Gwen Alanis, Arianne Chandler
    Chapter 11 - The Witch, The Goblin, and The Princess
    Saffron City; Sunday, June 2nd, morning
    A joint post between Groc, QueenNothing, and Eleanor.

    It's looking to be another nice, warm day as 8 a.m. rolls closer. Vera sits on one of the benches situated near the gates of Saffron, waiting for her friend. Trixie, dressed in her original rag (which Vera deemed most suitable to travel), is amusing herself by playing peekaboo under Vera's hat on the bench beside her. Vera would much rather be wearing the hat to keep the midmorning sun off of her head, but the little Mimikyu is cute, she must admit.

    "Oh no, what is she doing here?"

    An annoyingly familiar voice catches her attention, and she looks up to see Gwen nearby with a Rufflet nesting between her space buns. She didn't really sound like she was talking to anyone in particular, though she's drawn attention to herself regardless of intention. She very briefly makes eye-contact with Vera before she looks to the ground, walking over to a nearby bench and sitting in silence.

    Vera meets Gwen's gaze with a cold stare, silently echoing her initial reaction, what is she doing here? Indeed, she expects Gwen to just keep walking, but instead she sits down nearby. Why would she do that? Maybe she's also here to meet someone?

    And why hadn't she said anything? After their match, Gwen couldn't stop gloating, so why hadn't she brought it up? Did she already forget who Vera is? Insulted at the very idea, Vera snatches her hat from Trixie, thinking Gwen will remember her better with it on.

    "Don't you have somewhere to be?" She growls, frowning in annoyance at Gwen. "I figured you'd be halfway to the next Gym by now."

    Gwen opens her mouth as if she's about to start yelling but bites her lip and breathes deeply through her nostrils. "I'm waiting for someone." She crosses her arms. "Why do you care?"

    "I don't care." Vera crosses her arms as she looks away from Gwen. "I was just hoping you'd leave."

    "If you don't care then why the hell did you ask me!?" Gwen shouts as she jumps to her feet. "Jeez, I was literally just minding my own business but you just had to be a bitch for no reason!"

    "Well excuse me if I don't want to be around you right now!" Vera snaps back, but stays seated. "You were the one being a bitch the other day! All I did was ask why you're here! Don't come at me with all that anger!"

    "Well maybe I wouldn't have been a bitch at the tournament if you weren't a bitch to me first! You know you could have just ignored me like I wanted to but nooooooo, you just had to open that mouth of yours!"

    "That's… uh…" Vera flounders, trying to remember their conversations. She honestly can't recall when this "rivalry" started, but she refuses to admit that. "Whatever, just sit there and wait for whoever you're waiting for. I'll allow you to be ignored, if you want."

    "Allow me to be ignored?" Gwen cries, rather appalled. "Don't act like you're above me! Do I need to remind you who won in our battle?"

    "No. No you do not. And I'd rather you didn't bring it up." Vera grips the arm of her bench tightly as she scowls. "I don't want to have this conversation anymore, Gwennifer. So how about we just sit here, waiting for our respective friends, and hate each other in silence?"

    "I…" Gwen shakes and grits her teeth before falling onto the bench, crossing her arms again. "I think that's a good idea. Besides, the person I'm waiting for is infinitely more tolerable to be around."

    "For once, we agree." Vera nods, pulling Trixie onto her lap so she doesn't have to look at Gwen.

    "Alright alright, calm down, we're here! We still have to work on this, you know."

    A familiar Zebstrika huffs as she stops in the middle of the road and, rather unceremoniously, lets Arianne jump down. It already looks like that experiment has cost her a bruised elbow and a bunch of dirt on her clothes, but…

    "Yeah that's what I get for being late, I suppose- hello there! Sorry for that." The Cinnabar girl smiles awkwardly, not entirely sure who to look at first.

    "Ari!" Gwen jumps out of her seat and sprints over to Arianne. "Boy, am I glad to see you!"

    Vera pauses as Gwen runs over to their mutual friend, slowly rising with Trixie in her arms. She supposes she can let Gwen talk to Arianne for a moment before they leave. No need to be rude, after all.

    "Things have been pretty rough after the tournament, so it's…" Gwen scratches the back of her head while blushing. "Really nice being around you again!"

    "Aww…" Arianne smiles back at Gwen, before giving her a friendly pat on the shoulder. "Well, we can leave all of that behind now that we're leaving, right?"

    Her eyes quickly move to focus on Vera, before settling on Gwen again.

    "Yeah, as good as it was to see Jenny again and enter the tournament, I think I'm done with Saffron…" Gwen's chuckle has a hint of exhaustion to it. "Plus, the sooner I can get away from SOMEBODY the better!"

    Vera steps forward, gently putting a hand on Arianne's shoulder. "Well, if she wants some space, we should give it to her. Let's go, Arianne."

    "Uh, excuse me?" Gwen glares at Vera with disgust and tightly grips Arianne's forearm. "She's going with me! Isn't that right, Ari?"

    "Well," she sighs. "I'd like to make both of you happy, but you already know what that means." Zebstrika moves closer, as the girl attempts a playful smile.

    Vera quickly looks between Arianne and Gwen, shocked. "You invited her to come with us? Why?"

    "Not r-really!" Arianne shakes her head. "Maybe we had a misunderstanding. And I said I was coming here but…"

    "Look, all I know is that I am not going all the way to Celadon alone!" Gwen desperately tightens her hold on Arianne, who now looks at Vera, eager for a response.

    "Well, Celadon's not even that far, right…?"

    "It's… like a day, less maybe?" Vera steps back, hugging Trixie close to her chest. She still can't believe Arianne would allow this, would even suggest it after the way Gwen acted the other day! It's a betrayal, to just have someone she knows Vera can't stand intrude on their time together like this!

    …kind of like when she brought Trixie to Casey. Maybe she doesn't have the moral high ground here.

    "Fine, I guess. She's your friend, too, she can come with us. But if she tries to start something, I'm not traveling with her!"

    "Sure would be a shame if something were to 'accidentally' come up between us…" Gwen cackles to herself while nefariously rubbing her hands together, though catching another glimpse at Ari has her break into an obviously fake coughing fit. "Uhhhh, which I'm being completely serious about when I say that, by the way. Because I'm not gonna start shit like that. I'm above that!" She proudly gestures to herself.

    Arianne raises an eyebrow. "Yeah uhm, that would be nice. If you got… if you got anything of that sort to say, do it now or in Celadon, alright?"

    "Arianne!" Gwen gasps. "Do you have that little trust in me? I mean what I said! I'm gonna go the entire trip without starting anything with Witch Lady at all! I promise!"

    "I have a name, you know…" Vera mutters darkly.

    "Yeah, well I can't remember it." Gwen responds dismissively.

    "Oh, come on!" Vera stomps her foot in anger, then turns on her heel and starts walking. "I'm going to wait over here! Come find me when you're ready to leave!" She gets several paces outside the gates before stopping and waiting impatiently.

    Luckily for her it doesn't take long before the other two girls approach her again. Mostly because of Arianne, who's clearly trying to pull Gwen along. "Looks like I'll see myself out when we get to Celadon, or I'll be caught in the explosion of… you two letting yourself go." She snickers.

    "Me? Explode in-front of her? Neeeeeeever!" Gwen reassures. "Now then what are we waiting for? Ari, Witch Lady! Onto Celadon we go!"


  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Vermillion Pokemon Center, May 27th, Evening

    Chapter 8 - 4
    Hidden Truth

    That day was awfully draining for Richard both mentally and physically. Nothing seems to work the way he had hoped beforehand.

    After what had just happened earlier, rest was the best thing he could do. Yet he couldn't stop thinking about his Kadabra that had to be transferred to the biggest Pokemon Center in the region back in his hometown of Saffron due to the severity of his wounds.

    "Shit…" He mumbled under his breath. He was glad that nobody was harmed during the aftermath of their bold infiltration plan, he was really glad it was the case. But the sense of relief and joy was nowhere to be found, all he felt was anger and disappointment both at him who failed to do anything to avoid the incident with Uri earlier, and at both Gwen and Ari whose recklessness allowed said incident to happen.

    And there was still the matter of Hana. He just couldn't fathom how a gym leader can be so carefree about letting kids finish something the International Police should handle. The fact that they were able to escape safely was a miracle considering the scale of the mess the shady people were able to muster with the weather. If more of his Pokemon needed to be transferred to the Intensive Care Unit he would've… Did something unthinkable for him before.

    Simple my ass, I swear she doesn't even understand… Arghh… Richard barely managed to stop himself from punching the wall.

    Richard grumbled as he couldn't make sense of her decision at all. Yet it wasn't the last of his grumblings, as his mind started to wander elsewhere. As more and more dark thoughts emerged inside of him, the more helpless he felt about himself. What should he do when everything he did just end up endangering his loved ones? The thought of giving everything up kept coming up in his head despite him knowing it was bad.

    As he sat down on the wooden chair inside his room while watching his Pokemon who requested to sleep outside their Pokeball that day deep in their sleep, he sighed while eventually flashing a wry smile. It was definitely not easy to stay positive when he remembered bad things that had happened in his life. Yet even then, he just couldn't give up.

    There were people that would be really sad if he was gone. He learned it the hard way.

    The image of his cousin Celia who bawled her eyes out when he was at his lowest had been burned in his mind for quite some time. She was so shy and quiet that she rarely revealed what she was thinking even in front of her parents, so the very moment her emotion flowed out so strongly was unforgettable for Richard.

    "Purr…" A sound accompanied by a silky smooth paw tugging his pants pulled him away from his thoughts.

    "Sorry, did I disturb your sleep, sweetie?" Richard headpatted the head of his Pokemon which showed an expression of concern at the condition of his trainer.

    "Pur," Sharon shook her head, as she was more concerned about the face that her trainer had shown than her own issue. She nuzzled her face on Richard's leg before hugging him to calm his nerves.

    Looking at his Pokemon's desperate attempt to cheer him up, Richard scooped her up from his legs and embraced her tightly.

    "Oh, Sharon. I don't know… I feel like I can't do anything right." Richard spoke weakly as he lamented his ineptness.

    Sharon then desperately chattered as if she was trying to cheer his trainer up, despite tears drooping down her face she was swinging her arm up and down as if she was desperately telling her trainer to not give up.

    It was heart-warming for sure, but Richard couldn't help but feel that it was so strange. How could the timid Sharon do something as he was seeing in front of him, Richard knew Sharon was stronger than she looked through scanning her with the Dex, but the crying, clinging, and timid Sharon wouldn't be desperately cheering her trainer with the mentality she had, unless… Unless something had happened before that.

    With that single thought, Richard quickly speculated that this had something to do with the fact that the Pokeball order on his belt that morning wasn't as it was supposed to be. And in that case, there was only one culprit coming into Richard's mind. The only Pokemon of his who stayed out of his Pokeball.

    "Does Uri has something to do with this?"

    Richard immediately got his answer despite Sharon not answering directly to his question, as the Espurr couldn't help but had her gaze shifting left and right as she accidentally pushed herself out of Richard's cradle, which for Richard was a dead giveaway that his beloved partner had something to do with the change in Sharon's attitude.

    He needed to know what it was, right then and there. So he rushed to the door before Sharon grabbed his sleeves as if she didn't want him to get out and find out the truth. Perhaps she was scared of the truth getting out, perhaps she didn't want Uri and the others to get in trouble when her trainer found out what was going on. While Richard didn't have the exact answer, it was clear to him that Sharon was not willing to let him learn the truth as she strongly tugged his pants with a sad expression that showed her desperation.

    Seeing what his Pokemon tried to do, Richard took a deep breath before cradling his Pokemon once more.

    "I'm not going to scold any of you, it's just that, Uri… Had given me so much already, and he always tried his best to protect me no matter what happened to him. And now, it's my turn to find out what's in his mind so I can protect him back. So Sharon, would you please let me find out?"

    Sharon looked at Richard with complicated feelings, but she eventually relented as she tightly held onto her trainer's chest without saying anything else.

    Richard grabbed his jacket to put over his shirt and he went straight toward the receptionist in an effort to search for the truth, and the truth did he got. The answer she gave him filled him with a sense of shame… But also a strong determination to improve as a trainer as what Uri did the night before was all for the sake of his trainer.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Vermillion Gym, May 28th, Morning

    Chapter 8 - 5
    Unwanted Confrontation
    Part 1

    "I really don't want to get inside," Richard mumbled alone as he stood in front of the entrance of the gym with hesitation filling his head.

    He hesitated not because of the lack of chance he had in winning the gym battle. That he already accepted as it was.

    But considering the leader of the gym he was about to enter was more than happy to send him and his friends to such a dangerous situation like yesterday as if they were expendable, he wished he had a choice to not challenge her and avoid the trouble of seeing her face once more if possible. Alas, he knew well that his graduation hinged on the evaluation given by the Gym Leaders, no matter how inept the decision-making capability of the said Gym Leader was.

    He knew well he couldn't run from this and so he pulled up with a smile the best as he could and was greeted by the friendly receptionist who quickly pointed out about registering his Pokemon that was participating in the battle so Hana could match the power of his Pokemon properly. With no Uri in hand, he was forced to rely on Eileen, Victor… And Sharon.

    Sharon was not ready to participate in a real battle, he thought, as she didn't have the mentality to properly fight yet. But so did Maddie and Maddie's power level was much lower than what Sharon had. So he crossed his fingers that Sharon had at least a fraction of the determination she had shown him last night.

    After he had changed into his wetsuit, Richard walked inside the same part of the building that he had visited with Ari and Gwen before. There sat Vermillion's own Hana Palm on her lifeguard's chair on one side of the battlefield watching Richard entering the place with a huge grin on her face. It was irritating to see her there greeting him without even uttering a single word of sorry or acknowledgment of what she did was reckless, it seemed to Richard's eyes that Hana felt that her actions were completely justified.

    Fortunately, Richard managed to keep his cool as he put up a jovial mask as a front to avoid Hana from seeing his real emotion. He already used to do it at Cape College, and that day would be no different. Besides, he knew well that he should be warier about the battle rather than thinking about Hana whom he would forget about as soon as he left the place.

    The battlefield was less than ideal for Richard. He had to deal with Hana's Pokemon that could just dive inside the wide pool that was prepared to give her an advantage. And despite being offered a platform to stand inside the pool, Richard declined the offer as he thought that having a platform to stand inside the pool would only make his Pokemon easier prey since only Eileen was exceptionally mobile among the member of his team for the battle.

    With nothing else left to be said, the referee started the battle and Hana chose to pick her Kingler as her first Pokemon.

    "Well, let's start this with a bang. Go, Eileen!"

    The Pikachu quickly assumed a battling stance as Kingler stood in front of her menacingly holding up their pincher to intimidate Eileen.

    "Let's show them what we could do, Kingler! Mud Shot!" Hana spiritedly shouted from her lifeguard chair.

    Thankfully Eileen was nimble enough to evade the Mud Shot without getting herself falling inside the pool.

    "Agility!" Eileen's agility rose even further as she took some distance from the Kingler who was watching her vigilantly in the middle of the poolside.

    "Go, another Mud Shot!"

    "Can you not? That's not gonna work! Agility again!"

    The fleet-footed Eileen managed to dodge another barrage of mud balls and this time was going on the offensive as she managed to find an opportunity to lunge toward the Pincher Pokemon.

    "It's a foolish decision to come close to Kingler, you know that? Stomp!" Hana yelled from above her vantage point.

    "We'll see about that! Thunder Wave!"

    Kingler powerfully slammed its giant pinchers against Eileen, but speed wasn't its strong suit and with the Mouse Pokemon boosted with Agility, Eileen was more than a match against the Kingler as she ran around the Pokemon before letting out electric rings from her tail that allowed electricity to course its way through Kingler's body, paralyzing it.

    "Now, Spark!" Richard yelled at Eileen who immediately envelop itself with electricity and charged toward Kingler.

    "Not so fast!" Hana yelled confidently. Hearing it, Kingler leaned right toward the pool allowing it to dodge the attack while at the same time submerging itself inside the long surface of the water, preventing Eileen from being able to hit it with the electric-imbued tackle. And to make matter worse, the pool was deep enough for Kingler to stay undetected from both Eileen and Richard.

    "Unfortunately for you, physical attacks won't do much anymore after this, continuously use Harden!"

    It seemed to Richard that Hana had planned to counter the physical attack that Eileen just did by using Harden to bolster its already tough defense it had, but despite Hana's wide smirk on her face as she did so, Richard was unfazed by this, as what Hana did only sealed the fate of her Kingler.

    "Shock the Kingler, Eileen!"

    "Pikaa!" Eileen growled as electricity enveloped her body before emitting a powerful lightning bolt toward the pool.

    "Kingler, resurface! Mud Shot!" Hana called for her Kingler to jump back towards the poolside and try to hit the Mouse Pokemon with barrages of Mud Bomb but it was only able to raise its pincher slightly without even able to jump out from the pool which seemed to make Hana heated.

    Unfortunately for her, Eileen who now knew where Kingler was managed to focus her lightning bolt on striking the exact point where Kingler had, amplifying the damage even further.

    "Come on, Kingler! You can't lose that easily!" Hana stood from her seat while screaming at her Pokemon to power through the paralyzed status condition it was in. Sadly it wasn't going to do so, or so Richard thought.

    Much to his and Eileen's surprise, Kingler powered through the numbing electricity coursing through its veins and managed to push itself enough to try and crush Eileen with its large claws. Only to eat an Electro Ball that exploded square on its face as Kingler could not fully control its paralyzed body, leading to an easy dodge and then retaliation by Eileen despite the surprise aspect of the attack.

    "Yes!" Richard couldn't do a fist pump as Eileen managed to finish off Kingler without getting hit by a single attack. This was crucial for him to win as he needed some leeway in case of things went South. And went south it did.

    "You may be able to beat my Kingler using electric-type moves, but you're not going to beat this. Go, Whiscash!"

    The blue-colored Whiskers Pokemon was one of the few water types Richard didn't want to see from Hana, as the Water/Ground type combination had completely canceled out the electric type moves Eileen was using. Considering Eileen knew nothing but electric-type offensive moves at the time, he had no choice but to put her back inside her Pokeball and choose another Pokemon to deal with Hana's Whiscash.

    "Great choice, you did a great decision." Hana praised Richard, but the latter only nodded with a false smile plastered on his face as he was trying his best to stop himself from saying 'unlike yours yesterday.'

    It was a precarious position for the boy in his wetsuit because if Hana's Whiscash could survive through the rest of his Pokemon, not even Eileen who he considered the strongest in his team right at that moment would be able to put any damage on it. However, he already planned something just in case Hana had a Water/Ground Pokemon.

    "Hope you don't regret your decision just now, go Victor!"

    Richard threw the Pokeball containing the Bronzor to the field and the fact that Hana's eyebrow raised as she saw the Mirror Pokemon made Richard hopeful of his chances as she clearly fell into the trap he had laid.

    "Levitate, huh? Let's see if you can keep the smile on your face for long," Hana exclaimed.

    Richard didn't smile because Victor had the ability Levitate, but because Hana thought so. In truth, Victor had no such ability, their ability was Heatproof which wouldn't have much impact in the battle. But such deception was the key to his success, Richard thought, as Victor was finished if Hana realized the ruse and started using ground-type moves against his Pokemon.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Vermillion Gym, May 28th, Morning

    Chapter 8 - 6
    Unwanted Confrontation
    Part 2

    "Come on, Richard! Won't you retaliate?"

    Richard could only grimace at Hana's relentless attempt to make him slip up, he was dealing with Whiscash who kept trying to make an attack by diving inside the pool and then gathering speed as much as it could to leap from the pool and attack Victor with a water enveloped dive.

    But despite feeling a deep desire inside him to retaliate right then and there, Richard was trying his best to stay patient. While Victor was a Pokemon with powerful defensive capability, its mobility was close to none so he had to be much more careful than when he used Eileen beforehand. He felt that lulling Hana to a false sense of security by letting her Whiscash spam the move Dive again and again was the best road to victory for him.

    "Come on, you're never going to move forward if you refuse to be brave!" Said Hana as her Whiscash leaped out from the water to attack once more.

    "I'm not refusing to be brave, I'm just not stupid, that's all! Victor, lean down!" Richard shouted.

    Victor remained flat on the floor which surprised the Whiscash who had leaped to attack it.


    Victor knocked Whiscash up to the air with a wave of purple-colored energy beam, which brightened up Hana's face who had waited for Richard's retaliation.

    "No, you don't! Zen Headbutt!"

    "Victor, Gyro Ball!"

    Whiscash turned its head down as it dove toward Victor with its head enveloped in psychic energy, all while the circular blue spheres around the Bronzor shone light blue as it spun as fast as it could as it met Whiscash's attack head-on.

    As the clash happened, Richard had his fingers crossed that Victor could win the clash between the two Pokemon. And thankfully it did, mostly because of the strong resistance Victor had against the psychic-type move. But he didn't like it when Hana grinned widely as she did despite her Whiscash getting flung back to the pool as that meant that she had something up her sleeves, and he would be proven right almost immediately.

    "Finally, you did something! However, don't think that my Whiscash would be easily defeated. Rest!"

    Richard was slightly perturbed at this realization, the fact that Whiscash had a recovery move was not something he was expecting. Clenching his fist, he racked his brain as fast as he could to find a good way to deal with the fact that Whiscash was resting in a place his Bronzor couldn't see.

    "Come on, think faster! You're not going to win if you don't find a way to hit Whiscash while it is resting!"

    At this point, Hana's voice was more annoying than the sound of nails grating against a chalkboard, but Richard steeled himself with all the willpower he had inside him to identify a way to defeat the pesky Whiscash than to be reeled in an argument with the person that he awfully distasted.

    As he rapidly tapped his bare feet against the pool floor, an idea came unto Richard's head. He had no idea if it was a good one or not, but in a race against time situation like he was facing at the time, he'd take any ideas he could find in a heartbeat. And so he told Victor to shoot his Psybeam toward the middle of the pool which parted the water inside it revealing where the Whiscash was sleeping.

    "Nice job finding Whiscash! But what are you going to do with that information?"

    Knowing that the best way to shut up Hana was to win as fast as possible, Richard was focused on knocking out the Whiscash as soon as possible and he didn't hesitate to order Victor to use Gyro Ball against the Whiscash, but as Victor was spinning mid-air, Hana revealed that she still had other tricks up her sleeve.


    A muffled roar could be heard under the pool before water bullets flew toward the Gyro Ball. It didn't manage to stop it as Victor managed to hit a powerful Gyro Ball on Whiscash's head despite the water reducing the impact due to how heavy Victor was in the first place, then Victor made itself rise from the water using psychic energy it had and went for another Gyro Ball which was met with another hit from the water bullets which the Whiscash produced using Snore under water.

    While it was not enough to stop the Gyro Ball, Richard knew that Victor was taking damage from the water bullets. And so it was paramount to knock the Whiscash out as Victor had no recovery move in the slightest. And so Victor went for the third Gyro Ball which was met by another wave of water bullets, and then again for the fourth time… However, it was too late as Whiscash had already woken up before the fourth Gyro Ball had landed.

    "Muddy Water!"

    Whiscash put its head above water and spew a powerful torrent of brown water from its mouth which managed to redirect the trajectory of the Gyro Ball so that Victor slammed the wall of the pool instead which left it defenseless as it plummeted inside the pool after impact.

    "Victor!" Richard bellowed loudly.

    "Sorry Richard, but this is it for your Bronzor! Dive!"

    Whiscash swam to the edge of the pool before swimming back in a high speed and launched itself airborne to dove back into the water and in the process knock out Victor, or it would be if Richard didn't keep a card of his up his sleeve.


    As the wave of purple rings passed through the Whiskers Pokemon, it was lulled to sleep mid-air which allowed Victor to rose once more out of the water. Richard had decided to keep Hypnosis as his last resort in case things went awry, and the fact that the smug grin on Hana's face was instantly wiped off by the fact that her greed in finishing Victor off as fast as possible instead of using Rest might have cost her the entire battle? It made his patience worth it.

    And so Richard waited with bated breath, as he did the same exact strategy as he did earlier by dropping Gyro Ball on Whiscash's head while the latter countered it once more with Snore. The fourth one was successful, and while Hana screamed for her Whiscash to wake up, the fifth one spelled the end for her Whiscash in the battle as even Hana's order to use Snore was not responded to.

    However, Victor was also out of commission which Richard found out as he couldn't get Victor to rose up from the pool after knocking out the Whiscash.

    "Wow, you're really sneaky, huh? You fooled me, Richard. I thought your Bronzor really had to Levitate up until your Bronzor had to use psychic energy to pull itself up from the pool. If only I had a ground-type move, your Bronzor would've been knocked out much earlier, you know?" Hana exclaimed in a whiny tone.

    "Haha, well I had to do so. Beating you is no easy task, after all." Richard spoke with a huge smile with his hand right hand rubbing the back of his head to evoke a look of humbleness while his left hand was clenched tightly as he held back his simmering anger.

    "Anyway, this is my last Pokemon. Go, Croconaw!"

    The Croconaw who had sat still next to the legs of Hana's lifeguard's chair the entire time finally made its move and with determined eyes stood in front of Hana, as if it was desperate to get some praise from its trainer.

    Now Richard was left with two options. With an overwhelming advantage of 2 vs 1, he could afford to lose one of his Pokemon to the Croconaw, but the other Pokemon he had was Sharon who had barely to no battle experience at all.

    He was initially hesitant but knowing how Uri's actions had affected Sharon's confidence positively as shown by her effort to dissuade him from finding out what had happened with Uri, he felt that it was not right for him to put Sharon away from the battle just because he felt she was not ready, coddling her was clearly not the answer.

    And so, Richard pressed the button on Sharon's Pokeball, allowing her to come out against the Croconaw. Sharon initially was looking scared at the Croconaw as the snarl that the Big Jaw Pokemon gave momentarily flinched her, but she was able to grit her teeth and stood her ground which was enough for Richard to entrust her with the match.

    "Sharon, I'm counting on you." Richard tenderly spoke to his Espurr.

    Sharon nodded, and so the battle had begun against Hana's final Pokemon.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Vermillion Gym, May 28th, Morning

    Chapter 8 - 7
    Unwanted Confrontation
    Part 3

    Richard could only stand with bated breath as Hana's Croconaw ran as fast as it could toward Sharon. The situation was not ideal for Sharon as Croconaw was more of a close combat fighter from Richard's observation, but as her trainer, it was his job to make sure that Sharon stood a chance against Hana's last Pokemon.

    However, Hana wasn't willing to make his job any easier, not when she was down to her last Pokemon.

    "Croconaw, Ice Fang!"

    Croconaw's jaw turned bright blue as it attempted to chomp down Sharon with its ice-encrusted jaws, but Sharon was able to push away the Croconaw with a Psywave. But the main issue was that Croconaw was so relentless that it managed to close the gap between them and Sharon in a very short time despite initially getting pushed back with a wave of psychic energy.

    "You're not getting away! Croconaw use Rage!" Hana yelled at her Croconaw.

    Steam came out from Croconaw's nose before it bellowed loudly. Richard had little to no idea what kind of move it was, but the name itself indicated that he would be in deep trouble should he not finish this battle as soon as possible. And so, Sharon shot another wave of purple energy to push the Croconaw while trying to escape the Big Jaw Pokemon. While the Croconaw did get hit by such an attack, the aftermath showed Richard what Rage exactly did.

    Croconaw proceeded to barrel toward Sharon with increased aggression. It was almost like it grew even more powerful after the hit that Sharon made.

    "This doesn't look good in the slightest… Light Screen! Then Psywave!" Richard desperately yelled.

    The use of both moves was to make use of Sharon's Infiltrator ability, which allowed the Psywave from the Espurr to pass through the transparent force field that she had just erected, this too hit the target as Croconaw was pushed back. However, not only the pushback was much smaller than what the first Psywave did, but at this point, Croconaw let out a loud roar as it rabidly ran toward Sharon with even more ferocity than before which made Sharon slightly cower in fear.

    Richard noticed that in all of the hits of Psywave after she used Rage, Hana never bothered to tell her Croconaw to dodge in the slightest and so he had a feeling that Hana had a plan using the fact that Croconaw was already hit by multiple Psywave, and a plan it sure was.

    "Sorry Richard, but it's time to wrap things up. Croconaw, Scary Face!"

    As Croconaw rushed toward Sharon who was running from it, they sent a menacing glare at her which combined with her lack of speed compared to Eileen meant that she had no way to escape the next attack.

    "Sharon, Disarming Voice!" Richard crossed his fingers immediately after ordering the attack, as the chances were looking grim for his Espurr.

    Sharon screamed out an ear-piercing yell from her dainty mouth. It was loud enough for Hana, Richard, and the referee to close their ears to prevent them from getting damaged. Yet despite the continuous shriek that Sharon let out with all she had, Croconaw managed to close the gap and swung its tail mightily which impact carried Sharon from the right pool-side towards the left side of the pool where she ate a powerful collision against the pool wall and then fell into the pool.

    "SHARON!" Screamed Richard after seeing the devastating attack. He recognized the attack that Croconaw did just then was Flail, a move that grew stronger the more that the move user had been damaged by the opponent as their fighting spirit grew closer and closer toward its peak the closer that the opponent was to fainting. After several hits of Psywave and a Disarming Voice, it was clear that even a single attack from the Croconaw was devastating enough to damage Sharon badly.

    And so, he grabbed Sharon's Pokeball and retracted her back to her Pokeball despite not knowing if she had fainted or not. Richard knew well that even if she did not faint after the attack, the powerful tail swipe from the Big Jaw Pokemon would take a great toll on his Espurr. And so, he pulled the final Pokeball containing the Pokemon that had given him an advantage in the beginning.

    "Let's go, Eileen!"

    "Haha, I hope you're ready for Croconaw to turn back the tables against you, Richard," Hana confidently declared.

    "I'm sorry, but Eileen is not going down by your Croconaw," Richard countered Hana's claims.

    And Richard's claim had a good basis too, despite the ferocity of the Croconaw who chased the Mouse Pokemon with relentless determination. Eileen was much faster than Sharon, and the fact that she had Agility countered Croconaw's Scary Face which was their method to get close to its prey. And so the battle eventually ended as Croconaw was unable to land its devastating attack as Eileen's Thunder Wave managed to significantly reduce Croconaw's mobility until an Electro Ball finished the Big Jaw Pokemon off.

    "Dang, I almost had it. Great job, Richard!" Applauded Hana at Richard's victory with a big smile plastered on her face.

    While Richard was more than happy to point out that her Croconaw was defeated soundly by Eileen which was nowhere near almost, the only thing that came unto his head at that moment was to nod politely and get away from the Gym Leader that decision-making capability he despised so much as soon as possible so he could forget about her immediately.​
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Route 6, May 28th, Morning

    Chapter 9 - 1
    A Quaint Ol' Time
    Part 1

    After beating Hana, Richard was finally able to leave Vermillion City as he had no other business left there. As he walked through Route 6, he couldn't help but enjoy the pleasant wind blowing on his face after the hectic experience that he had gone through in Vermillion City. Although there was traffic visible from the route they were relatively quiet and most of the noise that could be heard by the young man mostly came from the local fauna.

    Well, that and apparently giggles and audible gushing from people, especially girls as they passed through Richard. Mostly because the passerby who did so, had seen him with three of his Pokemon playing on his back. Perhaps the sight of a young man wearing a leather jacket with three cute Pokemon gleefully riding on his back was something that they didn't use to see.

    There were only three Pokemon, yes. As Victor was impossible for Richard to carry without breaking his back and so they had to lead the way in front of Richard and the girls who were having fun on the back of their trainer.

    "Pikaaa~" Eileen nuzzled her face against the back of Richard's head.

    "Sweetie, can you not? I'm already— Hahaha! Maddie, no! my ears are sensitive!" Richard couldn't finish his words toward Eileen as Maddie playfully nibbled his ears. And despite Richard's pleas, Maddie was having fun watching his trainer's reaction to her prank.

    And it wasn't only Maddie who was having fun, but it seemed that every single passerby who saw his Pokemon's antics was amused seeing it.

    "Come on, you know I don't want to forbade you from eating more cookies, but Professor Palm would've killed me if he knew that you're becoming heav—"

    "Chii…" Maddie glared at her trainer as she seemed to be offended at her trainer's lack of delicacy.

    "Okay, okay… I won't say that. But please don't nibble my ears, I'll give you some berries for lunch later so please wait a bit," Richard gave headpats to Maddie in an attempt to coax her to stop using his ears as a chewing toy.

    Maddie relented and decided to stay put on her trainer's shoulder as she chimed out a soothing melody from inside her mouth which accompanied their party as they walked towards Saffron.

    Despite the receptionist telling him what she saw on the evening two days ago, Richard still couldn't fathom how his Pokemon were getting even clingier to him. Not that it's bad, he felt fuzzy and warm seeing how his Pokemon showed their affection to him, but at the same time, he was perplexed at how this ended up happening.

    As he continued to walk down the route, the girls ended up having their nap under the warm embrace of the sun on their trainer's shoulder while Victor stayed awake and accompanied their trainer as they approached the Capital of Kanto.

    As the sight of the tall skyscrapers and the sprawling city got closer and closer, Richard couldn't help but think about what to do there despite it being his hometown. After all, he had begged Professor Palm to keep his contact with his remaining family at a minimum, so Richard had barely any contact with his family, let alone have a long conversation with them.

    But as he passed through some rice fields, his train of thought was derailed as Victor started to make some noises which alerted Richard.

    "What's wrong, buddy? Oh."

    Richard quickly realized an unusual sight as soon as he focused his sights on the rice fields, as a lot of people seemed to tend the fields.

    "Is it the time to plant rice? Pretty sure, they should've been planted early May for June harvest, that can't be it," Richard talked to himself.

    It was a puzzling sight, and when looked at closely the more that Richard was sure that they didn't do some planting either. Also, they were using trowels and shovels instead of hoes, they were trying to dig for something, but what?

    As he inched closer and closer to the group, he suddenly saw a familiar face. She didn't wear her beret like she used to, but the glasses and the blonde hair told Richard that he wasn't seeing things.

    "Liz?" Richard asked.

    "Huh, what? Oh!" The girl who was confused by the sudden call accidentally fell sitting down and got her pants fully drenched by the muddy water from the rice fields.

    Richard was afraid that she got injured because of his sudden greetings, but instead, she had a hearty laugh regarding her predicament.

    "Geez, can you not scare me like that?" Lizzie smiled widely despite having her pants wet by the water.

    Richard sighed as his friend seemed to be quite cheerful even after what just happened, Richard realized that she was indeed a bright girl who wouldn't let inconveniences bother her.

    Just like before she lost her memories.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Route 6, May 28th, Late Morning

    Chapter 9 - 2
    A Quaint Ol' Time
    Part 2

    As the day continued to progress, the excavation that was being held on several rice fields of Route 6 had also progressed, as diggers who were mostly volunteers kept digging using their trowels, shovels, and Pokemon to find any significant discoveries, that included both Richard and Lizzie.

    "Haha, didn't expect you to be here."

    "Well, neither did I. The upfront reward they offered me was too tempting for me to pass up." Lizzie spoke up while her hands continued to work the land with her borrowed trowel.

    The reward she was talking about was the offer for one of her Pokemon to be taught one of the moves they were offering if they spent some time helping them dig this place up. A perfect compensation to attract the passing trainers, Richard included, which was why he immediately grabbed a shovel near their main tent as soon as he knew that fact.

    "While I do have to agree, the rewards wouldn't matter much if you didn't find anything," Richard giggled which ended up making Lizzie lift herself up and pushed him gently in retaliation.

    "Well sorry that I didn't realize that the right side of the field was drained already."

    Richard couldn't help but laugh as he remembered the shock that Lizzie had when she realized that she was the only one digging in the area that was still submerged in water while everybody else was digging in the area that already had water pumped out of them.

    And it was not like they intentionally let her be, they were just too engrossed in their digging that they didn't realize that someone wasn't digging in the proper area.

    There was also the fact that they didn't expect someone to be dumb enough to dig there in the first place, a fact that when one of the researcher accidentally blurted out turned Lizzie's face as red as a stop sign as she realized what she just did for the last hour was only wasting away time.

    After she changed herself out of her drenched pants for another fresh pair of trousers, she immediately continued her attempt at digging an artifact or at least something dated that was worth giving the professor who overlooked the excavation a look.

    "Let's be quick, you don't want to get sunburned do you?"

    "What? Of course, I don't, what kind of question was that?" Lizzie answered while laughing at Richard's silly question.

    Both of them continued to dig and try their best to help the Professor to find something, and while there were no mandatory hours to spend on the field to repay for the moves they got, they just didn't feel that it was right to leave the field without dropping some real effort to find something.

    With all of their Pokemon there to help them, well not all of them, as Maddie was more interested in looking at the wildflower bed nearby than in dirtying up her dainty frame, they spent two hours looking as best as they could to no avail. There was absolutely nothing worth looking at other than some old junk like spoons, forks, and some other small paraphernalia that didn't look valuable.

    "Hey, why don't you take a rest, Liz? After all, you've been digging for a while, didn't you?" Richard asked his friend who was drenched in sweat. Meanwhile, she looked back at him with a confused look, as he seemed to be completely fine despite wearing a black shirt under the hot weather.

    "You look pretty chill despite the scorching sun. No pun intended."

    "I think I'm just used to doing farming work at this point, it's just as hard as this if not harder. Despite the numerous technological advancement we had over the years, I think farming is still a laborious job that is worth being applauded for, especially since we can't eat without their fruits of labor."

    "Are you dreaming of being a farmer?" Lizzie asked, not knowing that Richard had quite a lot to say about the matter.

    Richard paused for a bit. "I think it's not a bad idea, really. If things don't work out on being a Pokemon trainer, then maybe being a farmer is a good backup plan, yeah. Well, you do need a lot of capital to start with if you want to own your own farm, not to mention the nightmare that is the local planning council. Ugh, I never saw any other people that were so out of touch about the precarious situation that the farmers ar— *Cough* *Cough*

    Richard's passionate speech about the trials and tribulations of farming was cut short as a thick and brown mix of soil and water hit him square in the face, some even went in his mouth which he was not pleased about in the slightest. While Lizzie who had watched the horror unfold upon her two eyes frantically helped Richard wipe off the brown substance from his face, Richard was also frantic, and by that, he was frantically searching for the one person who was responsible for it. And from what he could see, it seemed that what he thought was the one responsible for his humiliation could actually be two, and they were not people either.

    As he darted his sights toward the direction where the mud came from, it came to his attention that the only creatures there were two of his Pokemon that were lathered up with mud. As he approached both of them with a stern look, both of them froze in fear as the shadow of their trainer slowly loomed over them.

    "Madeleine… Sharon… What are you two girls doing?"

    "Chii!" "Purr!" Both of them let out a loud shriek while pointing at each other which led Richard to shake his head in disbelief at their antics.

    "Look girls, while I don't mind about both of you playing with each other like this, there's always a time and place—


    Richard couldn't help but sigh deeply as he was interrupted while he was talking once again, but he quickly went to where Eileen was just to make sure that everything was okay with her while the two Pokemon that he lectured trudged along carefully behind his back with heads hung down as if they were two kids that had been yelled by their parent moments ago.

    "What's wrong sweetie, do you find something?" Richard gently spoke to his Pikachu.

    "Pii! Pii!" Eileen jumped up and down with her face grinning widely in glee while pointing towards the hole she dug using the new move she learned using the Dig TM provided by Professor Rick Diggins.

    Feeling that Eileen's discovery could be their golden ticket to leave the place, Richard and Lizzie didn't waste any time carefully examining what exactly Eileen found. And much to their surprise and glee, they found a jewelry box, made out of gold to boot.

    Richard and Lizzie didn't know if it was made out of real gold or even if the said box was only plated in gold instead of being made of pure gold, but they didn't waste any time to clean themselves to a presentable state and meet the professor as soon as they could.

    The professor was very elated with these findings and quickly leave off his recent work of assembling shattered pieces of certain antique teapots to examine the mysterious box. And his excitement could only rise even further as he realized that the box's ornaments fit aesthetically with his theory of what era the items they dug in the area were from, and then came the big event that both Richard and Lizzie were waiting for.

    With bated breath, Professor Rick Diggins carefully opened the box as Richard and Lizzie watched in anticipation.

    And inside, was the much anticipated… King's Rock and Deep Sea Tooth, much to the dismay of everyone who was expecting untold riches inside it. It seemed that whoever had this luxurious box used it to keep their training items inside.

    Professor Rick Diggins congratulated the pair on their discovery of the box despite being let down by what was inside and decided that Lizzie and Richard should keep what was contained inside the box as he cared more about the luxurious box, and apparently the small knick-knacks, also the kitchen utensils the pair found much to the pair's both delight and confusion as they didn't seem to understand the value behind those.

    As they exited the tent, Richard was more than happy to lift Eileen into the air and spun her around in joy which made the Pikachu's eyes light up as it giggled while doing so, it was almost as if it was a kid on a theme park, much to the dismay of Sharon and Maddie who looked at the act from the sidelines with puffed up cheeks.

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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 28th, Afternoon

    Chapter 10 - 1
    Welcome to Saffron!
    Part 1

    When both Richard and Lizzie arrived in Kanto's capital, both of them didn't waste any time by looking at the skyscrapers that had grown in numbers during their absence and went straight to the hospital to check on Uri's condition. Unfortunately, while Uri was fine, the doctors were doing a procedure to make sure that the Kadabra was fully ready to be discharged from the Intensive Care Unit.

    With that in mind, Lizzie decided that the best way to kill some time was to have a battle between the two again at a public field not very far from the hospital. It was an offer that Richard quickly accepted. Unfortunately for the latter, the Uri-sized hole in his team meant that he had to struggle to face Lizzie's strongest Pokemon.

    "Come on, Richard! Fighting!"

    "I am fighting already! Grace is just too good!" Richard bellowed at Lizzie.

    Richard wasn't just being modest saying that, considering Grace was not letting Eileen get an edge in the slightest.

    While Eileen's fleet-footedness was boosted even further with Agility, the fact that Grace was able to safely Teleport herself away from harm's way reminded Richard why Uri was his ace for the longest time. Not only that, but using her Teleport, Grace was also able to retaliate against Eileen as she exploited Eileen's momentum to launch her attack.

    "Stop running already!"

    "No can do," Lizzie answered with a playful smile painted on her face.

    Even worse, Grace managed to find the time to politely bow in front of me as if she was sorry that her trainer couldn't comply with my request before calmly turning her back and blasting off a powerful wave of psychic energy against Eileen as if it was nothing.

    Unfortunately for her, Eileen managed to dodge this one with her nimble feet allowing her to make use of Grace's hubris by injecting her with a wave of weak electricity that was potent enough to make the Kirlia's body twitch involuntarily as she was afflicted by the paralyzed status.

    "Okay! It's a great opening! Now Eileen, finish her off!" Richard shouted while pointing at Grace which Eileen reciprocated with a loud cry.

    Immediately, Eileen jumped up high and charged her power for… Another Thunder Wave.

    Seeing what had just happened, Richard's jaw dropped as he was befuddled about what was actually happening. Unbeknownst to him, but for a very brief moment, Grace was able to muster all of her strength she had to clap her hands several times to activate a move despite the electricity coursing through her veins making it much harder to do so. She was using Encore, the move that locks anyone unlucky enough to be hit by it into the move it last used.

    Sadly for Richard, his shock at what was happening was the perfect opportunity for Grace to exploit so she could finish off the distressed Eileen as she teleported behind her and unleashed another wave of Psybeam to finish off the latter for good.

    "Dang, she's powerful." Richard scratched his neck thinking about how badly Eileen was beaten by Grace. He knew well how good Eileen was from the moment she managed to knock two of Hana's Pokemon out, so to see her getting beaten by Grace with minimal effort… Perhaps Grace was even stronger than Uri at that point,

    "Of course she is, she's my Pokemon after all." Said the girl with the beige beret as she proudly puffed up her chest at Richard's compliment of her Pokemon.

    Meanwhile, Richard who was smiling seeing her friend's antics was distracted as he felt that something was tugging on his jeans. As he darted his eyes downward, he could see that the perpetrator of the action was none other than Grace. She looked at Richard with furrowed eyebrows and a small pout painted on her face, which Richard already recognized as a signal that she wanted to be spoiled.

    Back before Grace was as powerful as she was at that point, she was a meek and shy Pokemon who used to cling to him as her trainer was a bit of a brute during her youth. She also clung to Uri from time to time which was a gesture that the Psi Pokemon didn't appreciate much as he usually teleported away to safety, which left Richard to pamper her a lot during his youth.

    "Good girl, you've become a lot stronger, don't you?" Said Richard as he gently caressed Kirlia's head despite the crackling electricity that he felt which made a huge smile bloom on Grace's face as she bashfully giggled.

    Seeing what had just unfolded in front of their eyes, both Maddie and Sharon started chirping loudly in discontent which Grace didn't take too well as she snarled at two Pokemon who were disturbing her moment. Despite knowing how powerful she was as the pair saw her beating Eileen, both of them were undeterred and continued to hassle Grace who soon retaliated by letting out her tongue at the two girls despite still shivering from being paralyzed.

    This heated up confrontation between the three as the jealous pair confronted Grace who was pampered despite not being a part of their trainer's team, but as soon as they tried to jump her, she teleported to the safety of her trainer's side while both Maddie and Sharon fell flat face first to the dirt carpet below before raising their head to another jeering from Grace who was then standing in the back of her trainer before Lizzie put her back inside her ball.

    Richard couldn't help but laugh at what had just transpired, but both of his Pokemon who were still laying flat on the ground look back at their trainer while pouting seeing how his trainer laughed at them.

    "Okay, okay, I'll spoil you both if you two would forgive me," Richard opened his arms which Sharon quickly ran toward for a hug, meanwhile Maddie was looking back and forth as she was wavering between accepting her trainer's peace offering that easily or straight out refuse it. "Really? Not even when I would give you some Oran Berries?" Hearing that, Maddie flung herself as fast as she could into her trainer's embrace.

    "Oh, you girls. She's an old friend of mine, of course, I'm going to pamper her. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop pampering all of you. Do you two understand?" Richard had no way of knowing whether they really understood what he was saying, but the fact that they frantically bobbled their head up and down was enough for him to smile and pat both of their head before returning his attention toward the battlefield.

    "Well sorry for the interruption," Richard said with a huge smile on his face.

    "No, don't worry, I quite enjoy seeing how you bonded with your Pokemon."

    "Well let's see for the next one…" Richard looked back at his side and had Sharon and Maddie both jumping up and down for attention. Both of them were eager to go while Victor only smiled before lowering its body like it was bowing to let their two juniors go second.

    "Okay then, since you haven't battled yet today. Let's go, Maddie!"

    Maddie flew away towards the middle of the field where it was pumped as she was given the opportunity to fight which was pretty apparent with her shadow boxing with her stubby arms which she imitated from Richard's training regiment that morning. It left her trainer with his mouth being pressed hard by his right hand as he was struggling to keep himself from laughing at how cute his Pokemon was.

    However, since it was Maddie who was stepping up. He needed to ask a favor from Lizzie.

    "Um… I know this is a bit shameless, but can you go easy on her?"

    "Huh? Why?"

    "Scan her with your dex."

    Lizzie was perplexed at Richard's request, but as soon as she did so, she quickly realized why Richard asked her to do so, "Ah, I see!" Maddie had little to no battle experience, and with that in consideration, the blonde-haired girl picked her Pokemon of choice, "Then… I choose you Nox!"

    Lizzie's Croagunk popped out from his Pokeball and proceeded to look at his trainer with squinted eyes as he pointed toward Maddie who was playing with her psychic power. It seemed that even he knew that his typing was very unfavorable to face Grace, but Lizzie put both of her hands together to politely ask Nox to just deal with it, which he eventually relented to after letting out a deep sigh.

    Unfortunately for Maddie, Nox wasn't going to go easy on her just because her trainer pleaded with him to stay and deal with her as it launched a rain of poisonous needles from its mouth which was barely deflected on time by Maddie's Confusion. Not willing to let up the momentum, he decided to puff up his cheeks one more before letting out a stream of brown mud which was easily dodged because of Maddie's ability, Levitate.

    Maddie went for close-range combat which visibly surprised the Croagunk, but he was far more than ready to deal with it… Until he didn't. Maddie puffed her mouth as much as she could and let out a bug pink bubble from her mouth that was too late to be anticipated by Nox who was expecting a short-range move instead of Yawn. When the bubble popped in front of his face, drowsiness took over his body which he tried his best to fight despite already stumbling due to the effect of the bubble.

    Unfortunately, due to its drowsiness, it couldn't even properly shoot the wave of needles which didn't even remotely hit the mark while Maddie smacked him hard with a wave of psychic energy which strangely was enough to earn him an instant trip to the dream world.

    Maddie was smirking seeing her opportunity open and was more than happy to smack Nox around with psychic energy while she let out a huge laugh while doing so. And due to his typing, it didn't take long until Nox was completely knocked out by the Bell Pokemon who triumphantly raised her stubby arms while letting out a victory cheer as she posed and stood on top of the Croagunk who was knocked out cold.

    Her antics didn't end there as she quickly stepped off from Nox's body without any care in the world before replicating what Grace did to earn head pats of her own which amused both her trainer and Lizzie who was watching the Bell Pokemon's actions. Richard proceeded to open his arm widely, an opportunity that Maddie used to nuzzle her face against her trainer's chest to her heart's desire while being pampered with a gentle caress.

    Sadly her moment of being spoiled didn't last very long as Richard received a message from the hospital.

    Uri was now free to leave the hospital.


  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 28th, Late Afternoon

    Chapter 10 - 2
    Welcome to Saffron!
    Part 2

    "I know I told that you can go anywhere you please, but really? Here?" Richard scratched the side of his head while glancing at Uri.

    Uri stared, seemingly in disbelief before ignoring his trainer and went in the building in front of him despite his trainer's reservation.

    While Richard couldn't help but to shake his head about the place Uri wanted to visit, but he couldn't deny that despite his fears about going inside the building with 'Maynard's' written in the sign besides it, deep inside he kind of wanted to revisit the place he used to frequent as a young child.

    Maynard's was one of the places famous in the bustling city of Saffron for serving great comfort food. The interior of the said family diner hasn't changed much in the last 56 years it had stood. Just like the interior, the taste never really changed even with passing time which helped to evoke the precious memories people had of dining with their loved ones, at least it was according to Richard's late father.

    For the young man with blonde hair, unwinding for the weekends, birthdays, and other joyous occasions with his family, a lot of them were spent in this place. It was so much that it was almost like a tradition for his family to visit this rustic joint every single week, at least until both of his parents passed away tragically in a plane accident.

    Yet even despite precious memories he had about the place, the boy couldn't muster a single smile as he sat at one of the striped pattern seats that he had sat on countless times as a cheerful kid. He couldn't help but hang his head down, as a black-haired girl much younger than him sat in front of him with her Growlithe visibly looking tense next to her side.

    She was wearing a denim jacket, black and white shirt underneath it, and black skirt to match, while her luscious black hair was styled in a ponytail with the pink ribbon that Richard knew well she fancied since childhood.

    "...Richard, can't you live with us again?" The girl weakly tugged Richard's jacket sleeves from across the table.

    Richard had no siblings at all, a fact that he was very much thankful for as he remembered what kind of an awful person he was. It still didn't change how much Richard treasured the girl sitting in front of her, as for him she was someone he truly treasured like his real sister.

    "I-I can't… I'm sorry Celia, but that's just impossible," Richard gently overlapped his right hand over her hand that was tugging at his jacket.

    "It's because of dad, isn't it?"

    The words Celia uttered rendered the boy speechless. Richard knew well that his dear cousin knows what was going on between him and her father as she was there at the hospital after his failed attempt to drown himself at a nearby pond. However, he expected the once meek and quiet girl to beat around the bushes like she usually did instead of being direct.

    As he pondered what to say, Richard's silence was not taken well by the girl sitting across him.

    "I'm not 9 anymore!" Her voice crackled in anger as she banged the table without much hesitation to the surprise and confusion of the other patrons visiting the joint, but she quickly sat once more while trying her best to hold back her tears. "Dad… Dad won't be here for much longer," Celia admitted painfully.

    Richard already knew that his uncle was sick despite always disposing of the letters his family sent him through Professor Palm almost immediately as he received them. After all, his first stop after getting Uri out of the hospital was none other than the headquarters of one of the biggest companies in the entire world that dealt with Pokemon technology, Sliph Co. The very same company where his uncle had poured his entire heart and soul into working instead of caring for his family as a proper father figure would. He was trying to find out when was the right time to reconnect with his family without having to meet his uncle in the slightest.

    Unfortunately for him, Richard found out that his plan to sneak in while his uncle was at work was gone out the window as his uncle had been long gone from the company, just two months after he enrolled in Cape College to be exact. The kind lady from the reception desk told him that it was due to sickness, but she was not sure about the details herself. As he was pondering his options on a park bench near the downtown, it was there where Celia managed to find him, much to the latter's shock.

    He rushed as fast as he could towards safety as he cut through the mid-day traffic of the bustling city. Alas, while he could outrun his cousin by his physical might alone, her Growlithe was a different case. Before he managed to escape by blending in with the crowd, Archie tackled him hard enough to drop him to the ground, rendering him unable to escape as the girl with the pink ribbon managed to drag him to the place that had a lot of joyful memories for both of them.

    "Please, I beg of you. I'm not going to ask for anything else for my birthday, I swear! I just want you to live with us again… I won't nag at you, I won't be asking you to buy anything for me, just please don't run from us anymore," Celia grew even desperate at Richard's constant silence, grasping her cousin's shoulder from across the table with both of her hands.

    Richard gently pushed both of her arms away before standing up much to her shock, she was ready to chase after him should he run away once more, but instead of running away from his family like all this time, Richard decided to sit down and face the problem he always kept aside due to the fear that had nestled deep in his heart.

    "...Ah, your birthday is coming soon, huh? I… Time has certainly flown by," He carefully caressed his cousin's hair to not ruin it while smiling ruefully. "Honestly I don't know if I could ever forgive uncle for what he did, probably never," Celia's gaze turned downward hearing what his cousin had spoken. "But, I'll… Come home this time, I promise."

    Richard's answer led to Celia tightly hugging him. "I missed you," she weakly told him.

    Richard was tired, tired from running away from all of his problems. He didn't realize how much relief facing his own problem head-on gave him until he managed to rekindle his friendship with Lizzie. And so, for the sake of himself and those who had waited so long for him to return, he'd try his best once more to make things right with them.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 28th, Evening

    Chapter 10 - 3
    Welcome to Saffron!
    Part 3

    As the sun started to disappear from the horizon and darkness started to loom over the sky, people started to flood the main streets of Saffron City as they finished their work for the day. They didn't waste any time rushing to their destination, whether it was their home, local bars, or even the place they had to go to finish their daily chores for the day. After all, they knew very well that even in the financial hub of Kanto, time was the one commodity that money couldn't buy at the 'City That Never Sleeps'.

    Despite knowing that time can't be bought with money, one boy had his index finger hovering above the doorbell for quite some time, much to the annoyance of the girl waiting for him to press it.

    "Oh, Celia, I don't think I can do this, can't we just spend some time outside so I can get myself ready?" Richard looked back at his cousin who immediately sighed at this sight.

    Without much said from her, she forcefully pushed Richard's finger so it pressed the button.

    "Don't worry, everything will be fine,"

    Despite the reassurance that Celia gave, Richard couldn't help but feel his heart beating faster and faster as he wondered what kind of response her aunt would give if she saw his face after all this time.

    As the sweet, spring-like smell of the white lilies planted by her aunt in front of the house wafted through the air, Richard tapped his foot repeatedly as he waited for someone to open the door while Celia was peeking through the window to see why the door wasn't opened yet despite few minutes had passed after the doorbell had sounded.

    "Celia! Why are you getting home so late? I told you—

    Richard couldn't help but awkwardly smile as her aunt opened the door in a dour mood until she was dumbfounded seeing the blonde-haired boy that was standing beside her daughter.

    "H-hello auntie, uh… How are you doing?"

    Despite Richard's lukewarm greeting, the lady wearing a light green apron above her long-sleeved orange shirt didn't waste any time checking on Richard's condition. "Richard! I'm so glad to see you! Are you doing alright, hun!? Have you eaten yet!? I think I cooked enough for—"

    "Mom! Stop panicking, you're scaring him off!" Celia stopped her mother who was being rather handsy checking Richard while bombing him with questions.

    "No, no Celia. I'm not scared, it's just a tad bit overwhelming, that's all," He answered with a little hesitation, clearly shaken by his aunt's sudden actions.

    "Oh, where are my manners? Come on in, wash your hands and we all can eat dinner together later," she chirped cheerfully before humming in joy.

    There was nothing Richard wanted but to see his family happy, but unfortunately, he still had something nagging in his heart that might break the happy thoughts that his aunt, Melissa got in her head.

    "Is uncle in?" He weakly asked, abruptly stopping Melissa in her tracks.

    "...Oh, he… As I thought, you didn't read our letter, huh?" She exhaled deeply, struggling to find the words to answer the question. "He has late-stage brain cancer, I… Sorry," She shakes her head with a sorrowful smile painted on her face.

    "No, don't be… You did nothing wrong. I just… I can't… I know it's dumb, but I'd rather stay in the Pokemon Center if I have to meet him," Richard can't help but be honest about his opinion on the matter.

    It's been more than two years since he enrolled at Cape College away from his uncle, yet he didn't feel any longing for the man he loathed during his later years before enrolling in the institution. The memories about him were so painful that there was a small part of him that felt that his disease couldn't have happened to a better man.

    "Don't say that, we're the ones who were sorry. We were wrong, what you had gone through was so horrible, we… I am so sorry," the middle-aged lady bowed deeply. "But can't you stay here, please? You don't have to meet him, but we really missed you."

    Richard's face strained as he saw his aunt's earnest plea, Celia's tugging of his leather jacket didn't help in the slightest either. There wasn't much need to be said after what he had seen, for him, it would be a lie if he said that he didn't miss them in the slightest.

    "Alright, I'll stay for the night," Richard relented much to the elation of both Celia and Melissa who quickly went to the kitchen to prepare the dinner for the day.

    As he went through the corridors and the stairs inside the house, he quickly reached the white door that would lead him to the room he was most curious about.

    He didn't waste much time opening the door leading to his room, and much to his surprise, his room didn't change in the slightest, it was like the room itself was frozen in time.

    Despite the fact that he had left the room for a very long time, the room was spotless, not even his collection of comics and game cartridges that were arranged alphabetically was any different than the state he had left it in. Everything else such as his craft storage, the posters of trainers hanging on his wall, and the clothes neatly folded inside the oak cupboard was kept in pristine condition, most likely due to the effort of his family that had awaited his return.

    As Richard opened the only window in his room, he could feel a gentle breeze ruffling his air while the night sky slowly announced itself with the setting of the sun. He then let his tired body lay down on the very same bed that he had used five years ago, one that had been his source of comfort as his school life turned South.

    "Nothing had changed about this place, huh?" He rested his head on the pillow before shutting his eyes.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Richard's House, Saffron City, May 28th, Evening

    Chapter 10 - 4
    Welcome to Saffron!
    Part 4

    Dusk had already long descended upon the 'City That Never Sleeps'. As the blinding lights emanating from the sky-high buildings obscured the roof of stars hanging above the city, one blonde-haired young man was enjoying his time as he unwind after having to watch over his cousin who was gushing after she saw the Pokemon he had.

    Celia and Eileen hit it off quite easily, there was almost no trace indicating that Eileen was once the very same Pokemon that used to hide behind her trainer's back every time someone new approached. Sharon was also the same, she was quite accepting of Celia's show of affection. There was no doubt in Richard's eyes that she enjoyed the gentle affection that the girl with the pink ribbon had shown her.

    Maddie however was a different case, Celia was very, very enthusiastic seeing her, so much so that the Bell Pokemon hid behind her trainer as the affection shown to her was a tad bit too much for her to take in. However, nothing that a brib– food offering of Oran Berries couldn't fix when it comes to her.

    Facing the fact that his trainer was engrossed in playing with other Pokemon, Archie wasn't very receptive to seeing the sight in front of him, it reminded Richard of how jealous Uri was initially when he decided to adopt Eileen. Feeling bad for him, Richard brought out the sulking Growlithe for a walk and play fetch at a local park near his house. While he initially was reluctant to play with someone he barely knew, thankfully, at the end of the day they were close enough for the canine Pokemon to lick his face in glee as they strolled back home.

    While recalling what had happened that day, the tranquil atmosphere Richard enjoyed was suddenly disturbed by the metallic sound coming from behind him. But as the visage of the one responsible for it came into Richard's view, his perplexed expression turned into a soft smile.

    "Hey, Pal. Shouldn't you sleep by now? It's not good for you to stay up this late just after you just got discharged," Richard smiled at the Pokemon who had entered the rooftop through a secret hatch his late father made for him when he was a young kid, it was something he was proud enough to brag about to his friends.

    Uri shrugged, pointing his finger to Richard before dragging it toward the hatch, signaling Richard should be the one who should exit the place which made the latter giggle. With no more objections, Uri grabbed a small chair near the drying rack to sit face-to-face with his trainer.

    Seeing Uri in front of him, Richard felt that it was the right time to have the conversation he couldn't have at the hospital due to the Intensive Care Unit's policy of not allowing them to lounge around for long without reason.

    "I knew about what you did to Victor and the girls. Seemed that Mr. Drill Sergeant tried to galvanize the troops without letting me know, eh?" Richard spoke, teasing his friend who seemed rattled as the words poured out from his trainer's mouth.

    Uri slightly sweated while struggling to keep his jaw shut, he didn't waste any time frantically gesticulating using his hands to explain what had happened while his trainer lightly giggled, amused at the very sight he was seeing before his eyes.

    As Richard gently poured the hot tea inside the white ceramic teapot into his cup, he started to speak about what the eyewitness had told him about what Uri had done behind his back.

    "Haha, don't worry I'm not mad at all. It's just kind of funny to imagine how surprised the nurse was when she saw you bringing everyone's Pokeball out of the Pokemon Center, not only that, but when she followed you, her jaw dropped even lower when you were doing some sort of rousing speech on an empty field over them before doing battle training. She said it was the wildest scene she ever saw with her own two eyes, ever."

    Uri shook his head with embarrassment as if he thought that what he did should've been a perfect tactic where no eyewitness' suspicion would rise seeing a Kadabra carrying multiple Pokeballs out of the hallway.

    In retaliation for his trainer's nonchalant storytelling, Uri mercilessly poked the sides of Richard who immediately struggled for air as he kept laughing without any moment for a breather. The Pokemon soon decided to stop and sit back on his chair, but with an annoyed pout on his face before facing away from his trainer who slowly recovered his breathing.

    "You were worried about me didn't you?"

    Uri looked back at Richard, lightly nodding.

    For the blonde-haired boy this wasn't much of a surprise, after all, how could someone look at him and straight up say that he didn't have a lot of screws loose after they heard what Richard had done and gone through, especially during his violence is the answer days.

    No one sane should have any desire to hang around him, and yet despite that, Uri had never stopped being on his side trying to do the best for him, even during his darkest times. Considering he even took one for the team despite how dangerous the attack was without much hesitation, Richard felt that it would be impossible for him to repay the debts he owed Uri as he didn't even know where to start doing so.

    However, that didn't mean that he was content with doing nothing for him.

    "You remember the dream that we both shared? To be the best trainer ever?"

    Uri smiled, he clearly remembered the dream that had been lost with time, a dream once held by Richard who was once a bright-eyed youth full of enthusiasm and unquenchable hunger to be the very best. A dream that was lost as the frigid touch of reality froze Richard's heart and his dream alongside it.

    "Do you still want to go for it?" Richard asked.

    Uri bobbed his head, his eyes showed sincerity to strive for it.

    Richard hadn't quite fully embraced the idea of chasing it once more, but with how his Pokemon had tried their best to train lately, it felt like his plan to just adapt to whatever life gave him after his graduation was nothing but a disrespectful gesture to their effort.

    "Guess now I gotta give it my all again," Richard scratched his neck while giggling. "Well, let's rest up, shall we? Can't train hard without sleeping well."

    As Richard turned his back to tidy up the rooftop, he suddenly found himself on a receiving end of an embrace.

    "Pal, what's wrong?"

    Uri shook his head without letting out an answer, but for Richard himself, the fact that his eyes were downcast after was more than enough.

    Richard turned his back and reciprocated Uri's gesture. "You know, when you sacrificed yourself to protect us from the Electrode, never ever I felt so weak as I did when I was at the receiving end of the endless torment back at school." Richard gazed at Uri's perturbed expression, "However, this time it'll be different. I do not have any desire to chase them for revenge and retribution as my foolish younger self did, this time I want to be stronger to protect you. I know it's hard but… I don't want to regret a lot of things anymore."

    Hearing what his trainer had to say, Uri proceeded to gently caress his trainer's hair, like a parent being proud of his son growing up. Soon after, feeling a little drowsy himself as he started to yawn, Uri opened the iron hatch once more presumably to get some rest for the day.

    "Hey, Uri!"

    The Kadabra looked back at his trainer with his eyebrows arched.

    "Let's do our best again tomorrow!" Richard grinned widely at him.

    Seeing his trainer in high spirits, Uri grinned, raising his left finger and imitating a thumbs-up gesture with his three fingers.
  • 302
    Gwen Alanis ft. Arianne Chandler + Vera Hill
    Sunday, June 2nd
    Route 7
    "You know, for a Pokemon that evolves into such a badass bird of prey, Talon sure doesn't do much flying. Or attacking… or much of anything really."

    After dealing with swampy wetlands, abandoned factories, and dry savannas, it is nice to just travel through some pretty plain, uh… plains. It might not be as exciting as the previous environments Cape trainers were required to navigate, but Gwen's had enough excitement for the time being. Plus, the simplicity of this route meant she could put more focus into what lies ahead.

    Gwen's fully aware of Celadon's gym leader, Erika Fujiki, a grass-type specialist. That's why she came fully prepared with her load-out for this route- more than half of her team has a type advantage against Erika, and she figured this would be the perfect opportunity to get some training in. Pix and Jess are mostly fine in that department, so her primary focus is on training Talon and her still unnamed Salandit. The latter has mostly been practicing his Embers, though for some godforsaken reason the former still refuses to use any offensive moves when commanded. All he wants to do is sit on-top of Gwen's head.

    "Talon really hasn't changed much since I caught him, huh?" Gwen says while facing Arianne, trying to initiate whatever conversation she can with her classmate. She's found that her desire to speak with Arianne has only been growing stronger since yesterday.

    "Oh, uhm…" The black haired girl buys herself some time. "Yeah I think so. You, uh… haven't battled with him that much after that one time in Vermilion, right?"

    "Not much, yeah. I guess I didn't really have time to after focusing too much on the tournament. But maybe spending so little time with him is why he doesn't listen." Gwen shrugs. Talon absent-mindedly straightens his feathers with his beak. "I guess the solution to that is pretty obvious."

    "Or maybe not!" Ari runs a hand through her hair. "Well, you won the tournament, you know your stuff… but I haven't had the best results just… battling it out with new Pokémon."

    "That's why you gotta train with them! Y'know the reason I won- aside from being the best, of course- was because I spent basically all of Thursday training. I haven't had King very long but he still carried my team all the way to the finals because of all the practice we did. Maybe if you spent more time with your Pokemon you could have done even better than you already did!"

    "Weren't you just saying that you hadn't spent enough time with your Rufflet?" Witch Lady chimes in from the back. "Care to share some of your methods with the rest of the class, or is it just 'train them better'?"

    Gwen clenches her fist. She almost forgot about the nuisance that lagged behind them, and she wishes it stayed that way rather than be reminded by a petty comment. "That's different! I had them for like, the same amount of time, but I've spent more time with King than Talon, which is why one is stronger than the other. And it's not just 'train them better', with King I trained him specifically to use Splash to start flying. But even if it was 'just train them better', which it's not by the way, that wouldn't be bad advice because even practicing the same moves makes them better at it."

    "You're right about the time thing," Ari turns towards Gwen. "But now that I think about it… your Pokémon's gotta enjoy the training above all else, right? Just like with Zebstrika and the musical performance…"

    "Yeah, that too!... Hey wait, is that why Talon doesn't attack? Does he just not enjoy it?"

    Gwen hasn't really thought about that until now, but that might just well be why. Maybe the solution is to adjust Talon's role on her team to be less attack heavy, but seeing as how Rufflet, and by extension Braviary, aren't exactly support Pokemon she's not sure if that's a route she wants to pursue.

    Gwen holds her index finger and thumb to her chin. "So then, if he doesn't like doing it, how do I make it more enjoyable for him?"

    "Do you want my advice?" Witch Lady asks as she gets closer, no longer sulking behind them.

    "What useful advice would you even be able to give me?" is what she wants to say, but remembering what she said before leaving Saffron, she bites her tongue. "Uhh… sure?" Yeah, that makes me look good in-front of Ari!

    "That was rhetorical, of course you do." Witch Lady chuckles to herself before answering. "Even if they don't like fighting, there should still be something they do enjoy in a battle. You just need to find that thing and focus on it. For example, Ebony hates fighting, but he has a lot of ways to make other Pokémon stop fighting, and I think he enjoys that. So I have him focus on shutting down our enemies, to protect his friends."

    "Oh, actually-" Ari interjects, "Maybe I don't know all my Pokémon super well, but I've seen how much Zebstrika was proud of herself and ready to show off her power, and… let's say I put a little more fuel on the fire." She chuckles, smiling towards her Pokémon who's been walking nearby and following her trainer. "You can confirm too, right Vera?"

    Witch Lady frowns as Ari cuts her off, but she shrugs it off at Ari's question. "Sure, she seemed pretty excited on stage. Sometimes you just gotta give them what they want."

    As much as Gwen hates to admit it, Witch Lady's idea is actually really helpful. "So I gotta give him a reason to fight, huh?" She says to herself. "I don't know if Talon really cares that much about my other Pokemon, so I'm not sure if that'd work. But maybe if I show him how awesome he'll be if he fights more that'll be a perfect incentive for him! Good idea Ari!"

    "Yes, good idea Ari…" Witch Lady scoffs, grimacing slightly.

    "That's not even what I… look, if Talon doesn't attack, have you tried to find out why?" Arianne questions, looking more genuinely curious than actually trying to provide help.

    "Well… no, not really. I haven't had much of a chance to. How would I even figure that out?" Gwen scratches her head.

    Ari sighs. "Uhm, I hoped you'd know more than me, because… well, for my Pokémon it's just happened with time." The girl tries to explain, looking again at Zebstrika. "Bagon was easy - he wants to fly - meanwhile Zebstrika here took a bit longer. At least until the battle we had and the show that came after! And there's teammates like Espurr or Honedge that I'm still… pretty much clueless about, heh…"

    "Have you tried talking to him?" Witch Lady mutters, though she doesn't sound grumpy this time. "Maybe you can pick something up. I tried it last night, and realized that half of my team didn't want to travel. I only have three left with me, but that should just make training easier, right?"

    "I… didn't think of that." Gwen can't help but feel a little silly she didn't think of that, seeing as how bonding with her Pokemon was something she's always touted as a tried and true method.

    "I'm not surprised." Witch Lady smirks slightly. "But, it's not like I can say anything, it took me some time to figure that out myself. I guess we all still need some work when it comes to training."

    Damnit Witch Lady, why do you have to be the one giving good advice!

    "Uh, yeah, I guess I should just. Do that." Gwen looks up to Talon as if he wasn't sitting out of her view. "Hey Talon! What would make you want to battle?" Talon, being a Pokemon, says nothing, and continues to preen his feathers.

    "Heh, I could only wish it was that easy." Ari chuckles. "Maybe he's not feeling it right now."

    "So he just needs some motivation, huh?" Witch Lady chuckles, her hat obscuring her eyes as she looks down. "I've got just the thing… Ebony! Go take out those silly hair buns! That ought to ruffle his feathers!"

    "Hey! What the hell did you just say about my hair-"

    A Poké Ball opens, and a Misdreavus comes out, heading straight for Gwen's head. He circles around Talon, playfully tugging at Gwen's hair with his hair hands.

    "Ach- what the fuck!?" Gwen shouts, swatting away Ebony while guarding her hair. "Keep the space buns out of this!"

    Talon doesn't look too pleased either. He's so bothered by it that he goes as far as to fight back… by using Leer.

    "Jeez, if you're gonna fuck up my hair in the process you can at least do a better job provoking Talon!"

    A chuckle comes from Ari, who's just watching from the sidelines. "Interesting…" Her voice fades out as she puts some distance between herself and the other two girls.

    "Ohohoho!" Witch Lady cackles as Ebony looks uncertainly between Gwen and Talon. "I think we touched a nerve there. But just glaring at us won't do, so let's try something else!" Ebony nods in understanding as his eyes turn pure red, Spite taking away Talon's ability to Leer. "What now, little birdie?"

    With Leer no longer being an option, Talon decides to attack the source and flies straight towards Witch Lady and starts to repeatedly peck at her hat.

    Suddenly a lot less smug, Witch Lady drops Trixie as she tries to protect her hat (and her head underneath) with her arms. "Hey! Stop! Your beak is sharp, you little monster! Ow! Ebony!"

    Ebony hovers just off to the side, fretting and unsure what to do, but Trixie reacts faster, scurrying up Witch Lady's back and jumping off of her head to attack Talon. She throws her stick tail at him, then sharply pulls it back with her shadowy claws to strike from behind with a Feint Attack.

    "That's payback!" Gwen sneers as Talon shoots forward from the impact. "Alright, now that you're attacking lets try Wing Atta-"

    Gwen interrupts herself when Talon aims for Trixie, beak first, but phases right through her without leaving so much as a single scratch. "...Fury Attack? Talon, why are you using a normal-type move on a ghost Pokemon!"

    "Gwen, catch this!"

    Ari doesn't give her much time to think about Talon's choice, or about what 'this' is. But as it turns out, it's just a berry. And then another one.

    And then… announced by wing flaps and angry cries, it's a flock of Taillow.

    "Woah!" Gwen shouts, enamored with just how many of them there are. Maybe she should be more alarmed, but how can she be when there are so many cute Pokemon? "Where'd these guys come from?"

    Ari, however, doesn't have the time to answer her as the Flying-types rapidly swoop in one-by-one and close in on Gwen.

    "Uh, Gwen? Now might be a good time for those protective instincts to kick in…" Witch Lady holds onto her hat as she slowly backs away.

    "Huh?- Ow!" Gwen cries as a Taillow pecks at her hand. She swats it away, but another one flies in to take it's place. Then another flies in to get at her side. And then another. And then another…

    Pretty soon Gwen is swarmed by an increasing number of Taillows swarming her. She'd send out Custard if that didn't require her to use her arms for anything other than shielding herself from the countless jabs of their beaks. Suddenly these Pokemon aren't so cute anymore. "You fuckers! Alex, do something- use Ember!"

    The albino Salandit jitters as the attention is thrusted onto him, but wanting to save his trainer, he spits out small spurts of flames, each one aimed at a different Taillow. Talon fights back as well, even if that just extends to him batting away the pesky birds with the back of his wings. But that's not enough to drive them away, not with how many there are.

    "Ach!- Guys, a little help here!"

    Ari looks way too calm for something like this. She's smiling, even. "Well, Talon's battling, isn't he?" An arm extended in front of Zebstrika, she cheers for the Saffron girl. "You're a good trainer, Gwen! You'll come out on top, I'm sure."

    Gwen really isn't too sure about that. Especially not when she starts to get so overwhelmed by the attacks that she falls to her knees. Al's assistance isn't of much help either when a fraction of the flock focus on him. But hearing Arianne's praise leaves her obligated to handle it on her own- what would she think if she found out Gwen wasn't as great of a trainer as she thought?

    Ultimately though when the pecks grow more intense, Gwen decides life is of more importance to her than her pride, though not by much. "No, seriously! Help!"

    In the blink of an eye… Eric is out, making his way through the flock with Rapid Spin before putting up a Protect on Gwen's side. "How are your Pokémon doing, uh?" The Cinnabar girl yells one more time. "How's Talon?"

    "I'm sure he's handling it better than me, being a Pokemon and all. Though maybe he could have used Leer to scare them off if somebody didn't use Spite on him!"

    Ari looks surprised for a moment. "Wait what-"

    "Oh, you are not blaming this on me!" Witch Lady snaps. She hasn't moved, but Trixie keeps jumping off of her to attack any wayward Taillow that didn't go for Gwen. "I was trying to help! Both of you, bring on the Thunder Waves!"

    Ebony starts unleashing waves of static electricity, which Trixie mimics, despite her broken Disguise. The flock of Taillow looks much less intimidating when half of them are on the ground, twitching.

    "Yeah well look where your help got me!" Gwen reaches for her belt, finally able to send out her Pikachu. "Custard, Thunderbolt!"

    With no hesitation, Custard releases as much electricity from her cheeks as possible, forcing dreadful squeaks of pain from the birds. Custard can only hit one at a time, but once four or five members of the flock start to bail the memo is clear to the rest and they collectively flee the scene. No longer being the target of the enraged fowls, Gwen stays still and takes deep breaths as she still recovers from the shock of the attack.

    "Hah! That was… interesting." Ari claps from the sidelines as she recalls Eric. "Good job to both of you!" She smiles playfully, as if she's already expecting the banter to resume.

    "Thanks! But…" Gwen, still kneeling, scratches her head and looks to Arianne, though she needs to shield her eyes from the sunlight shining from behind her. Taking all the credit here doesn't feel right. "I-I couldn't have done it without your help."

    "My help?" Ari chuckles, looking over to Vera.

    "Okay, so maybe Witch Lady deserves some credit. But like, if Eric didn't use Protect there I'd be a goner!"

    "Arianne." Witch Lady says her friend's name coldly as she picks Trixie up from the ground, holding her close to her chest. "What were you thinking?!" Now she sounds mad as she glares at the Cinnabar girl.

    "You were gone for all of one minute! Did you just antagonize the first group of wild Pokémon you saw? Did you know how many there were, or if we could handle them? Did you think at all?"

    "Well, yes… this time, yes!" Ari grimaces, gesturing like crazy and pointing at her Zebstrika. "First thing I saw was a Weedle actually and… yeah a Beedrill swarm was… eh…"

    "It could have been worse." Gwen dusts her jeans off. "Besides, she was only trying to help! Don't talk to Ari that way!"

    "Wait, Beedrill?" Witch Lady is taken off guard for just a second before Gwen riles her back up. "Oh, she was just 'trying to help'? Well, that excuse didn't fly when I tried it, so how about you don't talk to me that way?"

    "That's different! You weren't being attacked by a billion birds when you were giving Ari a hard time! She doesn't deserve it!"

    "And whose fault was that?!" She gestures to Ari dramatically. "Sounds like my anger is justified."

    "Yeah well… well…" Gwen opens her mouth several times as if about to make a point but comes up empty each time. "Yeah well whatever! Nobody talks to her like that!"

    "Gwen, uh…" Ari chimes in, giving her a nudge on the shoulder. "I'd say she can, well, sorta, but… first of all, I'm sorry, I am responsible for that. I wasn't expecting any super easy ordeal but I still thought it was manageable between the three of us… you know, considering what we accomplished at the tournament and all…"

    "Okay, so lesson learned. Big deal." Gwen shrugs. "That doesn't mean you should let Witch Lady just walk all over you like that! Nobody should be allowed to talk down to you like that and get away with it!" It's at this point Custard decides to return herself to her ball without her trainer realizing.

    "Hm, if I say so I guess it's fine. But please, let me say," Ari tries to change topic, "I got you to work together! That was kinda worth the effort, right?"

    "We worked together under duress." Witch Lady says bluntly. "We weren't even aiming for that, we were trying to motivate Talon. Honestly, I'd rather walk this road alone than have to team up with Gwen again. So how about next time either of you decide to stir up trouble, you don't hold back, okay?"

    "Hey, I can't stop you from leaving if that's what you wanna do." Gwen tries her damn hardest to hold back the biggest shit-eating grin to little success. "Yeah, me neither…" Arianne sheepishly adds as she looks away from the white haired girl.

    "Wha… I… Arianne?" Witch Lady looks between the two girls incredulously, then stomps her foot in frustration. "Fine! I'm going to keep going, you two have fun on your own. Look me up when you get to Celadon."

    "What do you even-" Ari quickly replies, almost shaking. "You're angry at me, aren't you?"

    "I'm not angry!" Witch Lady snaps. "I'm upset with your actions! You shouldn't have gone after those Taillow! You shouldn't even have invited her in the first place! You make bad decisions when you're around that… small-brained… meatball head!" She points at Gwen accusingly.

    "Oh my god, would you just shut the hell up already!?" Gwen screams, releasing all the frustration she had been building up since they left Saffron. "Why do you need to always be such a bitch! Like, seriously, can't you just shut your damn mouth for 12 fucking second!? I tried to hold my tongue, but apparently it's too much for you! And not only do you take your bitchiness out on me, which is one thing, but on Ari too? I know you can't stand my ass, but I thought you two were supposed to be friends! I know friends argue sometimes or whatever, but this is just ridiculous! Some fucking friend you are!"

    Witch Lady stares at Gwen, and looks like she's about to say something, but just closes her mouth and walks away, Trixie in her arms and Ebony following behind.

    "Aaand stay out, asshole!" Gwen cups her hands around her mouth just to make sure Witch Lady heard her. Once the shouting has stopped, Gwen realizes just how much she's hyperventilating. "Uh, sorry if that was too much Ari. Once she started getting mad at you I kinda lost control I guess."

    Ari is not where Gwen expects her to be, though. She's a couple steps away from the other girl but going the opposite way of Vera and trying to look away, Zebstrika's Pokéball in her hand and the Electric-type almost surely inside of it.



    CCS and art by Aquacorde


    Princess Era 🎀
  • 6,565
    • Age 24
    • she/her
    • Italy
    • Seen yesterday
    art by Aquacorde
    Arianne Chandler
    Route 7
    Sunday, June 2nd, morning

    Written with QueenNothing as Gwen

    Heart to Heart

    "Uhh, hey Ari, is everything good? I'm sorry if I was too intense back there…"

    "It's not…"

    Arianne would be readily blaming herself and looking for some time alone but… this time things have gone too far. She's already crying and there's no way Gwen will lose contact with her even for a second, when she's in this state.

    "It's not good. Nothing's going right today."

    "Oh my god, are you crying?" Gwen frantically looks around and throws her hands on her head. "Ari, I'm so sorry, I really am! If I knew I wouldn't have gone off on Witch Lady like that, I just- please don't cry!"

    "Eeh, I can't just… stop on command!" Arianne mutters, trying to accept the fact that Gwen has seen her in this state. "But it was my fault, with all the things that… that lead up to… yeah."

    "It wasn't your fault though! I mean, it's not like you knew what was going to happen! Just- I dunno, seeing you all sad like this makes me sad!"

    "I know what I said!" Arianne still isn't done. "If you don't wanna see me cry you can always leave, you know?"

    "I can't just leave!" Gwen instinctively cries, tightening her fists. "After everything you've done for me? No way! Do you know how many times you were there for me when I was crying- more times than I'm proud to admit, that's for sure! Nobody except for Jenny has been as nice to me as you have and it'd be really screwed up if I just up and left when you were down!"

    Most likely, Arianne didn't give much thought to those moments… not until now. "R-really? Alright, fine!" She seems to declare, launching herself towards Gwen for a hug, forcing a high-pitched squeak from the girl.

    "I could explain but… I might have to tell you things you… may not be happy to hear."

    "M-maybe not…" Gwen is still a little flustered from the hug but clearing her throat seems to take her out of that. "But- but who cares about how I feel! I'm not the one crying here."

    Ari takes her sweet time drying her tears and trying to find the right words for what she wants to say. And then… "The thing is, I tried to keep you and Vera… you know, 'Witch Lady', together because you're both my friends and all… and I made everything terrible for both of you. I, uhm…" She's got some more tears coming. "I should've gone only with Vera today."

    Gwen frowns. "You saw how rude she was being to you though. Imagine how much worse it would have been if I weren't here to defend you! Plus," Her pupils wander off. "I… really didn't want to be alone."

    "Look, we actually made a, uh… pact I guess. That we would get to Celadon together. But I screwed up right from the moment I let you come with us. I mean… I didn't have a lot of choices, definitely, but… sometimes it's better to spend time with friends one at a time, right?"

    Just like Ren implied.

    "So letting me come along was a screw up?" Gwen removes herself from Arianne's grip. "Is that what I mean to you!?"

    "Oh, of course not!" Arianne facepalms. "If you two could have gotten along things would have been fine. Maybe. But," she sighs here, "That was evidently too much to ask from you two and I. Should. Have. Known."

    "See, it's my fault." Arianne almost starts to cry again.

    "But you didn't know things would turn out as bad as they did. You didn't make Witch Lady bitch at us like that. If that's on anyone, it's her! And… okay, it probably was my fault a little bit for just barging in on you guys. I guess that's what you meant when you said it was a screw up…" Gwen scratches the back of her head. "But whatever, that's not important! What's important is that you stop being so hard on yourself!"

    "Uh… ok, maybe you are right. But- I forgot the most important thing- are you okay? You know, after the Taillow thing?"

    "Yeah, I mean it hurt a lot, but I'm fine. Honestly I kinda forgot about that already, I was too worried about you to even think about that." Gwen grins.

    "Oh please." Arianne chuckles as well. "If you need anything, I can help. I got some basic medication and whatnot… oh and Eric."

    "Thanks, but I don't need it." Gwen dismisses. "Though now that we're alone I guess I should ask you something…"

    "Sure thing!" Arianne finally seems to have got a hold on herself.

    "Do you think I went easy on you at the tournament?"

    That question feels a bit out of the blue for Arianne. And not even in character. "Uh… no, why? The Gwen I know would never do that to anyone!"

    "That's good to hear." Gwen sighs with relief. "I just, kind of had an argument with Casey yesterday and he said I'm not even that nice to you because I went easy on you. And that kind of fucked me up. I mean, I was pretty sure I didn't hold back on you and the thought of me not being as nice to you as I thought I was didn't feel good at all."

    "Uh…" Arianne takes some time to think about this. "Where did he get this from anyways?"

    "Hell if I know. But who cares. He's wrong!" Gwen laughs. "Honestly though it is real nice to know you don't think that. I'd hate if you didn't know how much I care about you, because I do a lot! You're kind, talented, fun, caring, pretty, and I just really like being around you because it just makes me feel really nice in a certain way and-"

    "Oh my god." Gwen completely freezes. Her jaw gapes open and she holds her head as if it needs the support. "I think I like you."

    Ari's eyes open a little bit wider with every word she's hearing. The way Gwen is describing her - some of it makes sense, all things considered. Some things are traits that Ari is hoping to have and improve, so it's got to mean she's doing something right. Some things miiight be a bit exaggerated.

    "Are you… sure?" The Cinnabar girl mutters, trying to process all of that. She's not quite sure how Gwen is feeling or why she put so much emphasis in that last sentence. "I sure like you too, it's all good!"

    "No, I mean I think I like like you. Like, I have a crush on you or something. I didn't even know I could get crushes on girls!"

    "Oh…" Arianne stands there, flabbergasted, still in disbelief that this actually happened to her.

    "...Oh my god, what am I saying!? This is so embarrassing, I-" Gwen turns away, covering her face. "I'm sorry Ari, I don't know what came over me! I shouldn't have said anything, I'm so sorry!"

    Hmmm. "Wait, what are you sorry for? You're fine!" Arianne tries to reassure Gwen by putting a hand on her shoulder.

    "But this has to be super awkward for you, doesn't it? I should just leave you alone…"

    "I… I don't get it." Arianne huffs. "Who said anything about being awkward, who said anything about leaving me alone?" She tries to beckon Gwen towards her, for another hug - if she wants to, this time.

    "I was worried you thought I was weird or something with the way you reacted. It wouldn't be the first time that happened, but…" Slowly Gwen starts to turn towards Arianne again as she winds down. "I dunno, there's really a lot going on right now. I mean, I didn't even know I felt that way until now…"

    Deep down, the Cinnabar girl is still confused. "Well, I'm here for anything, I'll do my best to, uh, listen…" She runs a hand through her hair… then just ends up hugging Gwen a second time. "You know what, I'm not that good with words."

    "It's fine, I guess." Gwen says, Arianne's embrace soothing her. "Just… forget I said anything, okay?"

    The taller girl remains silent as she keeps holding onto Gwen. "Well… what happens now, then?"

    "I didn't think that far ahead, so like… let's just go to Celadon together? I mean, you don't have to, but like if you want to…"

    "Right…" Arianne laughs, then lets Gwen go and collects herself up a bit. "Alright, count me in!"

    Eric, lv. 41 •
    Espurr, lv. 28
    Zebstrika, lv. 36 •
    Alice, lv. 22
    Lulu, lv. 37 •
    Mizar, lv. 23


  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Richard's House, Saffron City, May 29th, Morning

    Chapter 10 - 5
    Welcome to Saffron!
    Part 5

    The birds finally chirped once more signaling that the dawn had finally come for everyone under the shining sky. As bright as the sky looming above Saffron was, most of the people there were dreading the moment they had to start preparing for their white-collar jobs, well most people except a certain few like kids, trainers, and people who were fortunate enough to avoid that fate, Richard included.

    Riding high on the spirit he had yesterday, he decided to go out for a run around the city before returning home and train his punches on the worn-out black punching bag that was clearly not used in years with his departure. But as he was finishing his workout routine, it was interrupted by someone who was knocking on his door.

    As he wondered who was outside, it was quickly answered as a girl wearing a plain white t-shirt and short pink floral pants was visibly waiting for him as he opened the door, it was plain as day looking at her disheveled hair that she rushed to meet Richard despite having just woken up.

    "Did you sleep well?" Celia yawned, smiling brightly a moment afterward.

    "Yup, it's great, although I would've enjoyed it more if the bed was a tiny bit bigger," said Richard, drying his frizzly hair with the towel hanging on his neck.

    "Maybe if you're coming home more often, there would be a reason to buy a newer bed for you," Celia gently pushed the forehead of the giggling Richard with her index finger. "Anyway, are you free today?"

    "Umm…" Richard slightly grimaced, hesitating to tell Celia about the promise he made before parting ways with Lizzie. However, it didn't last very long as he didn't want to lie only to betray Celia's expectations. "No, unfortunately, Lizzie and Keith want us to hang out after lunch at the Five Stars Club, you know the old place where we used to watch trainers battle each other?"

    Celia nodded. Despite how long it had been since she last tagged along with them, it was apparent that she still remembered the days when they used to watch trainers battle each other in the establishment that wasn't that far away from their house.

    Contrary to Richard's expectation of her reaction, Celia's face brightened even further as she grinned widely which furrowed the young man's eyebrows.

    "Ah, I see. Then you're free in the morning, right?" Celia tilted her head, clearly feeling playful.

    "I mean… If it doesn't take until the afternoon to finish, then sure,"

    "Yes!" Celia clenched both her fists with a gleeful look on her face. "Then, let's go out after breakfast, don't forget!" She exited the room in a hurry, presumably to prepare for the planned excursion.

    Richard couldn't help but stare at his cousin with bewilderment, yeah sure now she had some time to hang out with him but it wasn't something that warranted such overexaggerated reaction. Unless her invitation wasn't just for a simple hang out.

    After taking a cold shower to freshen up, Richard took his breakfast inside his room once more. He hadn't met his uncle since the day he left to enroll at Cape College and he had no intention to change that fact, no matter what. As the long hand of the clock hit twelve, Celia didn't waste any time dragging him out of the house, while Melissa visibly smile as she watched them leave while she washed the dishes.

    Richard couldn't help but wonder why the hell her cousin was in such a hurry, his guess was that it had to do with the fact that most shops in the shopping district that was near his house were opening at 9. Also, there was the fact that Celia was dressing very neatly for a mere walking around the area, where while it was possible that she just wanted to impress him with his fashion sense, it sounded so… Impossible for the blonde-haired man, but then again he wasn't here since 2 years ago so who he was to give some thoughts about it.

    As they finally stopped at their destination, Richard sighed seeing the two-story white building looming over them. He was disappointed in himself that he didn't have at least an inkling that this was one of the possible destinations they were going to go to. After all, he knew well that one of the topics girls usually have an interest in was fashion.

    "Richard, let's go in!" Celia enthusiastically skipped into the clothing store.

    Richard slightly grimaced in reaction to his cousin's enthusiasm, after all, picking out clothes for her was definitely not in his forte, how he dressed was enough to prove that point. But contrary to his expectations, she didn't go to the women's section of the store. Oh no, she was rummaging through the men's section.

    "Here! I think this one fits you well!" Celia passed a blue checked cardigan to his cousin who was looking at her, unable to utter a single word while she continued to wander around the isles unimpeded.

    "Um, so we're not here for yours? But for mine? Really?" Richard said, still recovering from the shock.

    "Yeah, mommy said that it's fine to buy some clothes for you, so you know? Why not right?," Celia momentarily looked back at him with a bright grin before going back to check the pants available for Richard to use.

    "But isn't my current fit decent enough, though?"

    Celia looked back at her cousin with a jaw dropped wide, she was aghast at Richard's passing comment as she shook her head in disbelief. She soon found herself tapping her foot on the floor while touching her chin, seemingly unsure about how she should answer his cousin's question.

    "Just hit me with it, don't hesitate," Richard answered, a smile popping up on his face encouraging Celia to answer.

    "You sure?"

    "Yeah, of course, I am."

    Despite what Richard had said, Celia twiddled her fingers while her eyes shifted away from her cousin's gaze, clearly avoiding eye contact as she was still not feeling sure if being honest was the right thing to do.

    But just a bit after, she took a deep breath and with eyes, full determination finally brought up her point.

    "Even if you wear something that a jester wore from 300 years ago, it wouldn't be much tackier than your get-up," Celia spoke, little hesitation in her voice.

    Richard was stunned at his cousin's comment. He did prepare for an utter lambasting about his taste, but Celia's comment felt like getting hit by a Machamp's Dynamic Punch. It's short, but he'd be damned if it didn't hurt his feelings.

    "A-Am I, dressed that badly?" Richard stuttered, clearly still reeling from Celia's words.

    Celia nodded slowly, leading Richard to deeply sigh as he thought about what other people's opinion was about his way of dressing.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 29th, Afternoon


    Chapter 10 - 7
    Welcome to Saffron!
    Part 7

    It was a cooler day than usual for the boy in— formerly in red, now in dark blue. It was not because the clouds were obstructing the sun, neither because there was a sudden change of climate, none of that Vermillion nonsense. It was because he wasn't wearing his trademark red and white leather jacket and black shirt attire.

    He felt a little worried about his looks for a bit, especially since his hair had also been shaved. It bothered him for a while as he looked at his look several times with anxiety as he gazed upon his new hairstyle in front of the mirror of the barbershop.

    To complete the look he donned a pair of khakis, a white shirt, and a dark cardigan which freshen up his looks quite a lot, or at least that's what Celia and Melissa had enthusiastically spoken to the boy who had no longer dressed like a member of a biker gang. But he still needed a lot of convincing from the pair to be confident about his look, after all, he had spent most of his school years with his biker-Esque aesthetics. It was something he carried from Saffron as the aesthetics make people think twice about messing with him.

    However, he didn't have that much time to think through about how he looked as he had to meet with his friends who were waiting to have lunch together, so with Celia in tow he went to the rendezvous point to meet his friends who didn't waste any time pouring out their feelings about his new look. Lizzie was quite receptive to his new look, which was really nice on her part– If she didn't also insult his old look by accidentally calling it 'emo phase'.

    Meanwhile, Keith as Keith was, wouldn't stop teasing his best friend about his new look, especially the round vintage-looking specs that Celia had forced him to wear before the meeting to soften his sharp features. It would've been something to talk about for the entirety of their lunch, but unfortunately for Keith, Richard already had something up in his sleeves to change the way of conversation much to the former's chagrin.

    "For the last time, I'm not dating her!" Keith forcefully opened the door of the restaurant, peeved about Richard's insistence on the latter's point.

    "But do you want to, though?"

    "Well, that's… Whatever, bruh!" Keith walked at a brisk pace in front of the group to avoid letting them see his blushed face for long, his face alone had answered Richard's question.

    The rest of them laughed but decided it was time to stop teasing the cheese maniac about the girl he fancied, lest he ran away due to embarrassment. Their destination after the scrumptious lunch was the Five Stars Club, but in the middle of the conversation the group had about Pokemon, Richard's Pokegear vibrated, telling the young man that he just received a message.

    "Oh no," Richard muttered, closing the interface of his Pokegear as soon as he managed to roughly understand the content of the message he received.

    "Is something the matter?" Lizzie gently asked.

    "N-no, nothing in the slightest, haha!"

    Richard was trying hard to hide his nervousness as sweat slowly dripped down his head due to nervousness, yet despite his denial, Keith had seen enough of his friend to know that something was wrong.

    "Pal, you gotta know that your acting is worse than that creepy guy from The Room." Keith shook his head, putting his right hand over Richard's shoulder.

    "Ugh, this is not the time, Keith. I legit can't say anything about the message, at least not when Celia is watching us." Richard hushed Keith in a low voice.

    Despite usually heckling Richard for acting stupidly, Keith only nodded after hearing the desperateness in his friend's tone. Meanwhile, the girls who weren't invited into the conversation decided to respond kindly to this act.

    "Look at them, boys and their secrets. What an unfair bunch, eh Celia?" Lizzie pouted.

    "Hmph! Let's leave them be then!" Celia shared the same sentiment before walking off with Lizzie, passing through the boys including Richard who was dumbfounded by their reaction.

    "Hey, Celia! It's not like that, Celia!" Richard chased after the pair with Keith following him slowly from behind, giggling.

    Richard was glad that Celia didn't press the matter about the message he received that time. After all, not only the news about PLG was concerning, because if either he or Keith slips up and accidentally told her about his hospitalization, he didn't want to think about how bad her reaction would be. Making her feel sad again was something Richard would try his best to avoid, especially after promising that he would never end up in a hospital bed ever again after multiple times he did so during his delinquency years.

    Not a long walk after Celia and Lizzie started to playfully tease Richard, they finally arrived at their destination. Five Stars Club.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Saffron City, May 29th, Afternoon


    Chapter 10 - 8
    Untangling the Messy Past
    Part 1

    Five Stars Club was jam-packed as Richard remembered it was. The facility was one of the many Pokemon clubs littered around the biggest city in Kanto which sustained the passion of Pokemon trainers living in Saffron after having their gym ripped out from the city. Despite having no gym, the trainer community had been passionate as always. And the shouting and enthusiasm oozing out of trainers battling at the Five Stars Club certainly proved that it rang true.

    Despite two and a half years having passed without him ever stepping foot in the place, Richard couldn't help but smiled gently as there wasn't much change to the club except a few adjustments here and there. One of the things that stayed the same was one of the attendants, Graham Horton, Lizzie's brother who helped stoke Richard and his friends' enthusiasm during their youth.

    The man with blonde flowing locks was a teacher and also someone akin to an older brother to the three, at least before Lizzie's accident created a giant wedge between him and the boys. After that, it was dead silence between them, well until he approached Richard who was alone after Keith and Lizzie got their battling partner, with the latter's battle being watched by Celia.

    "Hi, you doing okay?"

    Richard raised his eyebrows in shock, while he did expect Graham to be there as Celia already told him so, it was not the kind of interaction the boy expected. After all, the last time Richard met him was when he was beaten black and blue at the Saffron Central Hospital's lobby after causing Celia's accident.

    There was never an amends or sorry that had been thrown his way, so for Richard, Graham giving him an unprompted greeting sent shivers down his spine due to how weird it was.

    "Yeah, so far so good," Richard spoke.

    "Great… Great to know," Said Graham, scratching the back of his right ear.

    The situation was too awkward for Richard to handle, so the boy with the blue cardigan didn't waste any time scouting out an empty field for him to battle in. But as he took his place and waited for an opponent, the older guy in green shouted at him.

    "Wait!" Graham said, his arm stretched out toward Richard's direction.

    "Yes?" Richard turned his head, confused.

    "I-I… Nevermind." Graham went toward the direction of the staff room without saying anything else.

    Richard was barely able to shake his head as he was completely befuddled about what was happening. But he had little to no time to process what was happening as a brown-haired boy that looked roughly his age approached the other side of the battlefield.

    "You're a licensed trainer? Or?"

    "No, not yet. I'm still on my graduation journey."

    "Oh really? good for you! I did mine three years ago." The young man with a denim jacket draped over his shoulder giggled. "Ah sorry, you're here for a battle not for a storytelling session. The name's Todd, please remember it as the trainer who will teach you about overcoming defeat." He said in a teasing manner.

    "Nice to meet you, I'm Richard, the student that's going to humble you," Richard replied in kind.

    Both of their faces twitched as they tried their best to keep a straight face, but eventually, a giggle broke between the two of them. However, as both Todd and Richard grabbed their respective Poke Ball, they proceeded to put their game face on as they poured their full attention toward the battle at hand.
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  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Five Stars Club, Saffron City, May 29th, Afternoon


    Chapter 10 - 9
    Battle at the Five Stars
    Part 1

    "Come on, Sandslash!"

    "Sorry, but it's impossible to beat Uri like that," Richard calmly retorted.

    Unlike what would be expected from a battle from a student against an actually licensed trainer that's already graduated from his journey three years ago, the battle was going smoothly on Richard's side.

    The first matchup was between Maddie and Todd's Makuhita. While Todd did say that Makuhita is a newer Pokemon in his team, but for Richard, it's quite surprising how the battle went so smoothly, especially for his sweet, sweet Madeleine who was on the weaker end of things compared to her friends.

    Makuhita had no real threatening move to hit the levitating Bell Pokemon who kept running away as she spammed Confusion which kept Makuhita at bay. Not only that, but Todd's attempt to lower Maddie's visibility by throwing sand and dirt toward her only backfired spectacularly as she whipped up a powerful gust of purple wind using her newly learned move, Ominous Wind.

    While Makuhita was certainly strong physical-wise, without a long-range move Makuhita couldn't do much as Maddie managed to wear down his right leg while the former tried to keep a close distance. Unfortunately, that was it for the Makuhita as the limping right leg wasn't reliable enough to avoid an incoming Ominous Wind that sealed its fate.

    While Richard was feeling elated as he gazed upon his Pokemon who was dancing happily at her second victory in such a short span of time, he couldn't help but gaze warily at Todd who was amused seeing Maddie's celebration as it was clear that his Makuhita was still very green to be beaten that way by Maddie.

    With that in mind, Richard couldn't help but think that Todd was intentionally letting Makuhita lose so Todd can exploit Richard's carelessness afterward. A thought that grew even more as Todd suggested to Richard that he should switch up his Pokemon so they could also obtain some experience of their own.

    Richard agreed despite having some reservations about Todd's proposal. He looked at the ringside bench where he had let all of his Pokemon out to learn from their fellow members of the team, and it didn't take long for the blonde-haired boy to make his decision of who was going next. After all, when it comes to handling a possibly sticky situation, there was no one else better than his trusty sidekick, Uri.

    So Richard yelled for Uri at the same time Todd threw his Pokeball toward the field, which revealed that he chose Sandslash to fight against Uri.

    This time Todd's Pokemon was not shy in the slightest to use their long-range moves, as Stone Edge and Bulldoze both were threatening moves that could hit opponents from long range, much to Uri's problem. Even then, smart usage of Confusion on Uri's end managed to keep him from danger which led to the situation they were in now.

    "You know what, change of plans. Sandslash, Agility!" Todd calmly adjusted his plans.

    Richard grimaced slightly at the sight. He knew full well how good a boost in speed could be to deal with Uri's evasive maneuvers as he used the same mindset for Eileen's battles. He had to act soon or his ace would end up fainting without even defeating a single opponent.

    "Uri! Confusion!" Richard shouted, desperate to stop Sandslash from gaining momentum.

    "Nah, you're too late! Dig!"

    With its large claws shining in white, Sandslash managed to burrow itself inside the ground as the wave of psychic energy missed its mark, only causing a small dust explosion in the aftermath. As the dust cleared, Todd's grin could be seen clearly by Richard. And of course, he did, the momentum was clearly on his side.

    As great as Uri was in dodging attacks using his psychic powers, it was much harder to prepare evasive maneuvers when there were no visible signals on where the opponent was going to launch their attacking moves from. Uri was an easy target at that point, or so Todd thought, as his confidence rapidly turned into befuddlement as Richard reciprocated his gesture with a grin on his own.


    As Uri swiftly turned his spoon to execute the said move, Todd's eyes widened as he realized what was going to happen next as Sandslash was unable to claw his way out with Dig now unable to be used.

    "Sandslash, get out of there!" Todd shouted as loud as possible.

    "It's over, Ice Beam!"

    Sandslash's boosted agileness would normally be enough to bail him out of the dangerous situation he was facing, but unfortunately Uri's ability to Teleport meant that even the blazing speed that the Sandslash had was not remotely enough as the Psi Pokemon lined up his orb of coldness against the hole on the ground before Sandslash could pop out of it.

    As the frigid bolts coming from the blue orb rained down on the hole, jagged rocks as sharp as a knife were launched against the Psi Pokemon in a desperate effort to halt the relentless attack, but it was to no avail. Uri tanked through the sharp rocks gashing his body and managed to intensify the Ice Beam enough to encase the entire tunnel with ice. Sandslash was no longer able to battle.

    "Man, you're good, huh?" Todd clicked his tongue.

    "I'm not quite there yet, but thanks," Richard responded to the words with a warm smile, he was quite happy with the performance that Uri had shown him. Despite just returning to the team after needing some time to recuperate, it seemed that Uri hadn't lost a single step in the slightest.

    "Ready for my last Pokemon? This won't be as easy as earlier to counter."

    "Like the last two?" Richard spoke in jest.

    "Come on, cut me some slack. It's not like I battle every single time after graduation, you know? I'm a photographer now, not a professional trainer." Todd desperately responded, seemingly trying to find a reason to justify the loss of his two Pokemon. "But when I said that my next Pokemon wouldn't be so easy to counter, I mean it."

    As Richard wiped off the dust sticking on his glasses after the last battle, he also considered what Todd had said. His gut feelings told him that using Eileen might be the way to go, but in his head, giving the others a chance to shine was the way to go considering she had been used to battle Grace yesterday.

    In the end, he decided to go with his logic and called his Pokemon that had willingly given their spot to the girls in the last battle against Lizzie. As Todd threw the ball containing his final Pokemon, to the field, Richard called the name of his final participant.

    "Victor! I choose you!" Richard enthusiastically declared.

    Sadly, the final Pokemon that Todd had called reminded Richard why it wasn't that easy to specialize in one type of Pokemon.

    The final Pokemon standing on his way to victory wasn't only strong against Victor, but also against the rest of his team that was still standing.

    Todd's final Pokemon was Weavile.


  • 1,543
    Richard Wolstenholme​
    Five Stars Club, Saffron City, May 29th, Afternoon


    Chapter 10 - 10
    Battle at the Five Stars
    Part 2

    Richard couldn't help but had pessimism welling inside his heart as soon as he saw Todd's Weavile. How couldn't he? Both Maddie and Uri literally had almost nothing to effectively hit the Weavile except the former's Wrap, but even then it's just better to not even try as trying to combat a Weavile using a Chingling in close range was nothing more than a fools' errand.

    "Haha! Not feeling so confident anymore are we?" Todd boasted, his chest puffed with pride at his own decision.

    "Yeah, this is tough,"

    "...Um, I… I didn't expect that answer." Said Todd confused, not expecting Richard to answer truthfully. "Anyway, Taunt!"

    Weavile wiggled his claws as Victor was enveloped in a red aura. Richard could only look in shock as he remembered one of the teachers back in school had explained to him about the move. Taunt was a move that limited the option of the Pokemon getting hit by hit so they could only use offensive moves, so gone were the options to use Iron Defense to bolster its defense and Hypnosis to give it a free chance to land devastating hits. The battle grew even harder despite it already being hard to begin with.

    "Dodge with Confusion!"

    Psychic energy swirled around Victor as the Bronzor pushed itself away from the incoming darkness-fueled claw strike of the Weavile. This wasn't an ideal scenario as Victor who weighed slightly over 60 kg needed to expend much more energy compared to Uri due to a difference in innate ability, as Uri was much better in his use of psychic energy compared to Victor who was a natural-born defensive tank.

    "Retaliate with Gyro Ball!"

    Victor rotated at a high speed as bright gray light enveloped its body, it was a powerful attack that made use of its weight concentrated on its small frame, it would be a devastating attack if it hits. Big emphasis on the word 'if' as Weavile had other plans. The Sharp Claw Pokemon did a backflip to dodge the incoming attack from Victor before letting out a sly smile as he backed away, looking for an ample opportunity to land its attack.

    The situation didn't look good for Richard. From his observation, Weavile clearly had a lot of battle experience, and the disparity of speed between the two Pokemon certainly didn't help in calming his nerves. Unfortunately, that gap was going to get even bigger pretty soon.

    "Weavile, let's raise the tempo!"

    By raising the tempo, Todd meant using the move Agility. As Weavile's body slightly trembled as proof that the move worked, so did Victor's but for a completely different reason. Victor clearly knew that whatever came next from the Weavile couldn't be a good one as an expression of anxiety clearly painted on its face, and it didn't take long for it to become true.

    Weavile did not intend to give Victor any mercy as it launched a merciless onslaught against the Bronze Pokemon. With its high agility, it bombarded down multiple powerful claw strikes that were even more amplified by the dark energy enveloping said claw which Victor could only try to dodge as best as it could with little success.

    "Victor! Use the dirt to obscure its sight!"

    Victor didn't hesitate in the slightest to throw a pile of dirt allowing it to give itself some time to regroup as Weavile frantically wiped off the dirt sticking on its eyes.

    Richard couldn't help but shake his head as he watched the state Victor was in. Despite the endurance it boasted, it was clear that the barrage of claws was wearing it down, considering the fact that Weavile boasted an advantage in typing. He had to do something fast, and fast indeed he should as Weavile didn't take long to recover from the temporary blindness it had.

    As Weavile attempted another assault against the Bronzor with a wide smirk on its face, seemingly confident with its chance. One move was the difference between Victor's utter defeat and the tides turning against the Weavile.


    Todd's calm composure crumbled immediately as hypnotic waves passed through the Weavile, lulling it to a state of deep slumber before its claw could find its way toward Victor's body.

    Taunt was a powerful move to shut down your opponents' option, but it was not a definite everlasting solution as it had a time limit. And thanks to the time wasted by Weavile wiping the dirt Victor had flung against it, it was barely enough for Victor to gain back its ability to use Hypnosis before Weavile finished it for good. Finally, the tables had turned against Todd, not only because Weavile would not be able to attack while being asleep, but also because of Victor's Gyro Ball.

    While it was true that Victor was weak against the dark-type moves that Weavile boasted, Weavile was weak against steel-type moves, which meant that Gyro Ball was extremely potent to knock it out, but Richard had a plan on his own regarding the Gyro Ball.

    "Gyro Ball! Aim for its right leg!"

    Inspired by his passion for watching professional wrestling, Richard decided to focus on a limb once again as he did against Todd's Makuhita. While professional wrestling was more of an athletic arts exhibition rather than a sport due to the 'staged' nature of its bouts, the idea of softening the opponent continuously on one part of their body before pulling a finishing move to exploit the frailness of that same part was an idea he thought was sound.

    And so, three times Gyro Ball landed on Weavile's legs, and three times also Todd's face grew paler and paler as each attack hammered the limbs of the Sharp Claw Pokemon. But as soon as the fourth Gyro Ball was attempted, Weavile managed to wake up and deliver a devastating Night Slash, finishing off Victor who had valiantly tried to worn off the Weavile down.

    "Phew, that was close! You did well, Richard," Said Todd, wiping the sweat on his eyebrows.

    "Thanks, you too. But we have a battle to finish, don't we? And I certainly doubt your Weavile would want to wait for that long."

    Todd examined his Pokemon more closely, his Weavile was not in a good spot, its right leg was damaged badly enough for the Weavile to barely put any pressure on it. And to make matters worse for him and his Weavile, the Pokemon Richard brought back to finish the business was Uri, the Pokemon that Todd had seen himself had a great capability to escape pressure.

    Despite the limp, Weavile attempted its best to close the gap and attack Uri only to accidentally step on a small mound Uri swiftly created from the dirt surrounding the battlefield using Confusion. The sudden change in elevation was too much for Weavile's right leg to handle, and it fell back first to the ground as the leg buckled under pressure.

    "WEEEEE!" Weavile bellowed in pain, holding its right leg as excruciating pain took its toll on the poor Pokemon. It was clearly not in the condition to battle, and Todd conceded.

    "Man, this sucks," Todd chuckled as he approached Richard. "You did really great, Richard. Congrats on your win." he let out his hand for a handshake.

    "Thanks for the battle Todd, I appreciate it," Richard accepted the handshake, a bright smile on his face.

    As he turned his gaze toward the seats where his Pokemon were, and there they were celebrating their victory. Even the ones that didn't battle this time like Eileen and Sharon were happy that their friends managed to pull a win. The sight of them celebrating brought tears to Richard's eyes.

    Richard never thought that his team would turn out like this. Gone were the days of him worrying about if he could take proper care of his Pokemon as he sadly gazed upon Uri's argument with Eileen that almost ended deadly. Uri grew to put his jealousy of others away, and it was thanks to him also that Richard and his other Pokemon grew as he roused their spirit to give their best.

    Watching his team gleefully enjoy each other's company, at that very moment, it felt like he was the happiest man alive.
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  • 4,685
    • Age 29
    • Seen Jun 13, 2024

      [/tab] [tab=pkmn11-1]
      [/tab] [tab=inv11-1]

    11-1: Home

    👤 Ft. Aquacorde as Casey Holt 🌾 Route 7 🕙 June 2nd, Late Morning

    "Jordan." Casey demands abruptly, as if he had been deeply contemplating something for the last half hour in lieu of chattering away, and Jordan knows that tone. It's the tone of a headache coming on, of either baffling philosophical discourse or the stupidest shit he's ever heard out of someone his own age. It's the tone of both "do you think Psychic humans have Pokémon blood?" and "am I in love with you?", it's the tone that expects Jordan to have all the answers in the universe when Casey's four cars ahead on that same train of thought anyway.

    Jordan exhales. "...Yeah?" He answers cautiously.

    "Do you think we're queerplatonic?"

    "Well, I mean, I-" Jordan knows what 'queer' and 'platonic' means; he can probably figure this out.

    …No, he can't. "Um, what?"

    "I'm tryna figure out what relationship words I should be usin' for people 'cause I don't think I'm friends with as many people as I thought but maybe I am if we're something more than friends. Right?" The presentation is so matter-of-fact and details so off-topic that it almost escapes Jordan - it sounds as if Casey is asking if they're in a relationship.

    But he can't be sure if that's what Casey's asking. He can never be sure. He doesn't even know what 'queerplatonic' means, still. So he treads carefully.

    "I mean, sure, we're more than friends. I-I think you might be my best friend, you know? Something like that. Why do you ask?"

    "Okay. Best friends." Casey accepts, and the beat of silence almost invites another prod. But the other boy takes a few quick paces instead, so he can pivot and walk backwards in front of Jordan.

    "I thought I was friends with everybody!" Casey bursts out, apparently appalled at himself for some reason. "I said I was friends with everybody who I didn't really hate, y'know, but I don't think I am, because friends are people you like, I guess, and like, what does that make me? A liar? Am I lying to people that I'm their friend? Not you, of course not you, but like- other ones." Casey's gestures are only slightly more incomprehensible than his worries.

    The outburst takes Jordan completely by surprise, and is quite a pivot from the direction he thought this was going. He studies the troubled expression on Casey's face. The gregariousness that seemed to come so easily to him, that Jordan is often jealous of, even - is it… not real? Or does he think it's not real? He has so many questions. What brought this on? How long has he felt this way? Why?

    But he decides to start with: "Um- who, specifically do you mean? That- you think you are lying to, I mean."

    "Uh- Gwen, mostly, 'cause I kept saying I'm her friend when she asks but am I actually her friend if I don't really like hanging out with her? She's not that nice. I don't think she means t' be not that nice but she just isn't an' she's a lot to deal with an' I'm busy." Jordan's heard that one before; "I'm busy" tends to be Casey's way of saying "I have more interesting things to do than deal with this". "But I don't hate her or nothin', like, she's. Fine. But there's lots of people like that an' I always said they were my friends. But what if they're not?"

    Well, Jordan can't say he doesn't understand, in Gwen's case at least. The girl can be a lot. And he's right - she doesn't mean to be, which probably makes it even harder for Casey to reconcile with all this. "I guess, well. There's like, levels of friendship, right? I'm sure you do care about her to an extent despite all that. I care about her, but- she's not a friend to me like you. She's not a friend to me like Vera. Doesn't necessarily mean you're not friends at all."

    "Yeah, but there's such a gap that it doesn't feel right callin' everyone the same. Y'know?"

    Jordan scratches his head. He does understand what Casey means, but he's never really cared for the semantics of it to this degree. "I-I guess there's 'acquaintances', if that describes your relationship with some people better?"

    "I- maybe." Casey sighs. "Feels impersonal. But maybe I don't care 'bout bein' personal? Maybe it's like-"

    Whatever conclusion Casey may have made is interrupted by the inevitability of walking backwards: a rock catches on his heel and he goes down in a cacophony of shocked and offended noise, as if this was a personal assault on him by the very earth rather than the random and completely avoidable event that it is.

    Only upright at all due to being propped up by his backpack, Casey looks to the sky with a resigned sigh. "The world doesn't want me to think."

    Jordan extends a hand to pull him back up. "Come on-" He grunts; it takes quite a bit of effort on his part, but Casey's standing again. "You can think some more in a long shower after a hot meal. We're almost there."

    🚜 Route 7, Spring Family Farm 🕙 June 2nd, Noon

    A head of long, red hair is glinting in the sunlight through their kitchen's bay window. Jenna is hunched over a book, and she glances up as she notices the boys approaching. They wave at her, but instead of waving back, she immediately leaps up and rushes inside. "Oh." Jordan frowns. That's... kinda odd.

    As they often do in the summertime, the door has been propped open with a brick, and he can hear his sister's shouting through the screen door as they walk up the porch steps. "He's here! Quick! Quick!"

    "Hurry, help Kyle put this one on-" Jon's voice, too. He didn't expect him to be home yet at this hour.

    The scraping of chair legs against the floor is the last thing he hears as he slides open the mesh door to let Casey and himself in, and they are greeted by three of his siblings sitting around the kitchen table in various mismatched but familiar-looking pieces of clothing. Jon is wearing Casey's lace robe from the photoshoot over his own flannel top and sipping from a mug, while Vera's long, multicoloured scarf is wrapped around little Kyle several times, and her Mimikyu's nightcap is plopped haphazardly on the child's head. Jenna is in the grey blazer Jordan had worn himself, which is comically large on the nine-year-old.

    "'Sup." Jon greets him casually as the two older kids pretend like this is completely normal behaviour and attire for them. Kyle is giggling nonstop, though, unable to keep it together for their 'prank'.

    Jordan sighs. "That's hilarious, guys." He walks over to Kyle and plucks the tiny hat off him by the pom-pom, before giving him a hug. "When did this arrive?"

    "Day or two ago, probably." Jon stands up with a flourish so that the silvery robe fans out behind him. "Glad to see you switching up your style a bit, not just flannels and t-shirts all the time."

    "You wear flannels and t-shirts all the time."

    "But I look good in flannels and t-shirts."

    Jordan relents on that point; he can't argue that Jon looks much better in the same clothes than he does, on account of him actually working out and not being a lanky fifteen-year-old. He switches to a different topic. "Well, it's- rude to open other peoples' packages. And it's not all mine. This-" He lightly pinches the lace on his sleeve. "Is Casey's, for instance."

    "And it's nice silk, too, not meant to be worn over flannel. Or anything, really." Casey clicks his tongue once and his fingers twice. "C'mon, undress if you're gonna be wearin' that."

    Jon rolls his eyes at Casey, but the corner of his mouth turns up and his hands move to a button on his shirt without hesitation. He'll take any opportunity to show off. But not if Jordan can help it.

    "No- stop, I don't need to see this. None of your siblings need to see this." He swats at Jon's hand, giving him a little shove, which his brother reciprocates. The altercation ends swiftly, with Jon wrestling him into a headlock.

    "Oh, relax, you," He laughs over Jordan's muffled complaints before turning to Casey. "Bold of you to ask me to strip, though, I don't even know your name. Wait! Don't tell me. You must be Casey, right?"

    "Who needs names?" Casey flashes a quick and cocky grin that fades into his usual easy smile upon assertion that yes, he is indeed. "Jon, right?"

    "Not bad, not bad. 'Course, it was an easier guess for me since Jordan doesn't have many friends." Jon teases. A muffled "do, too!" seems to remind him to finally let go of his brother, and he releases Jordan to shake Casey's hand.

    "Yeah, there's a lot more o' you, ain't there? 'Course, it's still a limited pick for who would be 'the hot one'."

    Jordan scrunches up his face at this, as his brother laughs heartily - Casey's implication that he has ever referred to Jon as "the hot one" sends him reeling. "When have I ever called him 'the hot one'?!"

    "Yeah, and why wasn't it me?" His sister interrupts. She had already retreated back to the bay window, but was clearly still listening.

    "Jenna, you're nine, don't be weird."

    "Got some years and some work to put in before you can compete on that one. You and Jordan both." Casey tells her in absolute seriousness. She shrugs, but seems satisfied enough with the answer as she relents and hides back behind her book.

    Jordan, however, does not. "Wait, why'd you drag me into this? I didn't ask if I was the hot one." He complains. And also: "Wh-what kind of work do I need to put in?"

    "Well, get some muscle on you, first of all." Jon wastes no time informing him as he pinches his arm and clicks his tongue. "You only grow vertically. Luckily for you, your family owns a farm, so there's no shortage of manual labor you can do around here."

    "Damn, putting me to work immediately, huh - we just got here," Jordan sighs, dropping into one of the kitchen chairs dramatically.

    "That's right, no dinner for you boys until the corn field is mulched." Jon puts on his fake tough-guy voice as he stands over Jordan menacingly with his arms crossed. He quickly drops the act. "And maybe help with the Razz and Bluk berry harvest or something, I don't know. Do whatever you want, I'm not your mom. But those are some options."

    "No, dinner, please…" Casey whines, pout in full force as he plants himself into the chair next to Jordan.

    "Alright, then - let's start soon so we can eat tonight." Jordan says, still slumped in his seat. He reaches for a box of cereal someone had left at the table, though, grabbing a handful before offering it to Casey. "We're gonna need some energy first." He explains to Jon, before standing up to grab more snacks.

    "Of course." Jon rolls his eyes with a smile. "Meet me outside when you're done raiding the pantry. Don't spoil your appetite too much, though, or mom'll be mad."


    "Sun's been getting pretty vicious, so we gotta protect the soil here - one of you boys can get started on that, and the other can do the berry harvest. Any questions?"

    "Yeah, uh, what kinda mulch?" Casey asks, suddenly wary.

    "Tauros dung, of course."

    The boys take one glance at each other and race off to the berry field.

    "I got here first, you handle the poop-" Jordan shouts, as he reaches for a basket. Casey cuts off his reach and flips Jordan's arm away, making a grab for the basket himself.

    "I ain't 'bout to smell like shit for the next week, you do it-!"

    "Will you both relax?" Jon catches up to them at a more leisurely jog. "If you're that squeamish about the mulch, then I-"

    Jordan raises an eyebrow as he puffs and pants from the sprint. Jon will do a lot of heavy labour, but he does not believe for a second he's any less "squeamish" about touching Tauros dung than they are.

    "-Will get Mikey to do it later." Ah. That's what he thought. "Right, you know the drill. You might not-" Jon nods to Casey. "-but it's real simple: ripe berries go in this basket, overripe ones - if they feel a bit too squidgey, can just go in here," He prattles on, shaking each of the large baskets as he refers to them. "And, uh, leave alone anything else so they can ripen a bit. That's it. Any questions?"

    Jordan raises his hand, as if they're in class. "Can our Pokemon help?"

    "Oh, they better. What'd you think we sent you to Cape for?" Jon reaches over to tousle his hair, but he ducks swiftly.

    "Oh, neat." Casey lets two of his out immediately, and fishes his third out of his jacket, dismissing her growl. "We're doin' a thing, c'mon."

    As Jon leaves them to it, Jordan heads on over to the shed to pull out a few more baskets of varying sizes for everyone, dropping a small one on Casey's head so he's wearing it like a helmet. "Alright, let's go."

    He lets out his own Pokemon as well, and they start with the Bluk berries; within minutes, his team seems to have separated themselves into units on their own. Tangles' many vines are very useful here, but she and Hop have also worked out a system where he flies overhead and rapidly loosens berries with his sharp beak, and the Tangela catches them with a basket below. Jordan does notice the Pidgeotto's beak is suspiciously stained blue, and he wonders how many berries he's eaten on the job. Their basket looks pretty good and it's filling up fast, so he doesn't question it.

    There is no mystery surrounding this with his other squad, though - Sage pulls along a small basket for Tiny and Spirit to drop their harvest into, but as Jordan observes them, he is so certain they are eating more berries than they are picking that he eventually just sends them over to sit down with his younger siblings, who have migrated outdoors and under a large tree to "supervise".

    "Some help," He mutters under his breath, shaking his head. He jogs on over to Casey to see if his side is doing any better. "How's it going over here?"

    "Well," Casey says, "they've already been banished from helping." And indeed there is a small pile of Pokémon sulking at the edge of the berry patch. "Y'all sell this, right? They were eatin' a lot."

    "Yeah… yeah." Jordan sighs, looking back over at the tree his Pokemon are under. Jenna seems to have found his brush already and is aggressively brushing Sage with it. "They do like berries - forgot to take that into account. It's probably fine, it's a big field. Guess that means we have to do more of the work, though."

    Picking up their less productive Pokemon's slack, the boys get to work as well. By sundown, the harvest is plentiful enough that it well overcompensates for what had been devoured earlier - mostly thanks to Tangles and her many limbs. Her hard work (and Hop's) is rewarded by a controlled and approved portion of berries.

    "You've had enough." Jordan tells a not-so-sneaky Sage, who tries to pick another berry out of Tangles' bowl in the kitchen.

    A smaller foldout table has been assembled for the Pokemon, and Casey joins the rest of the Springs for dinner at the main table. They don't get to socialize for long though, as Jordan's mother shuttles them upstairs to rest shortly after, returning briefly only to whisk away their laundry. By 9 PM, both are fed, showered, and ready for bed.

    "I appreciate your mom's sensible bedtime," Casey says from the floor, where he's been given several blankets in addition to his sleeping bag. Not that he's likely to get cold with his fire lizard and his giant goat flopped next to him. It's a little cramped in here with the Pokemon out; at least Hop is still stretching his wings outside, but Jordan still shifts uncomfortably to get his arm out from under Sage. "Is this why you get up like I do all the time?"

    "I guess so, yeah," He responds. "Been sleeping a bit later since I've been away from home, but yeah, lights out is pretty early here. What about you, d'you always sleep early too?"

    "Yeah, since I can remember. I just sleep as soon as I'm tired and that's pretty consistently around nine-thirty. Erica says I missed out on all the parties, but I just don't know how people stay out late and still get up early." Casey rolls over to contemplate the ceiling. "D'you think we'll get invited to parties while we're out here?"

    Jordan shrugs. "Not if we keep sleeping at nine."

    Jon probably does know where they could party, but now that he is an "adult", whether or not he will want to take two teens with him remains to be seen. "If we did, though, think Vera would come this time?" He ponders, recalling their time in Lavender Town with a small smile. It's definitely more socialization than he'd ever had, or planned for, or talked about. But this is that post-education journey experience, he supposes.

    "You could prob'ly convince her." Casey flips onto his stomach and perches his chin in his hands with an impish smile. "She liiiiiiikes you~"

    "No, she doesn't!" Jordan instinctively shoots back, for reasons he can't really explain. He turns away as he feels the flush creep into his cheeks, even though he's sure Casey can't see it in the dark. He'd never had a crush reciprocated before - the foreignness of this situation, if it's even true, is both exciting and kind of terrifying to him. What do I even do? He thinks to himself, heart pounding.

    Doing nothing is easy. They can all keep being friends, and… it feels nice, honestly. He's really liked the dynamic of the three of them together, hanging out, traveling, grabbing meals.

    But that's not how it would always be, right? If he doesn't really do anything, then… time marches on, and things change anyway. Without him.

    He recalls meeting Xander at the stadium and how his heart kind of clenched when he said he'd kissed her, too - even though it didn't seem serious or anything, it could happen again, and with someone else. And it could be serious.

    "What do I do?" He asks aloud this time.

    Casey hums, thankfully dropping his usual menace behavior at Jordan's tone but still being entirely unhelpful. "What do people usually do?"

    "I-I don't know. I thought you would know." Jordan turns back around to look at him, adding: "You relentless flirt."

    "Well!" Casey's mock-offense never stops his mouth from running long. "If you want to learn how to flirt, you can have front-row tickets to the show I'll put on for your brother-"

    "Oh, don't even get me started about earlier- 'the hot one'?" Jordan mimics Casey, before feigning a retching noise.

    "What, are you gonna claim the title? Skinny-ass motherf- you ain't got a dime on Jon. What a man!" Casey pretends to fan himself. "Bet he could pick me up and carry me 'cross a threshold no problem!"

    "Ech, I've heard enough." Jordan lifts his pillow and puts his head under it, mumbling a muffled "Goodnight."

    "Aw, I thought you wanted my help," Casey pouts, barely intelligible from the world outside the pillow.

    "Mm. Maybe when we actually meet back up with her-" Jordan begins, but stops as he imagines all the ways Casey would potentially mess with him when they are reunited if this is how he's behaving now. "Well, actually-"

    The bed dips, and the pillow is tugged off of his head and quickly commandeered by Casey. As is well more than half the bed. "Can't hear you from under there."

    Jordan lets out a small yelp. "Hey, personal space bubble," He hisses. As he grabs his pillow from Casey and fluffs it before putting it back under his head, he sighs. "I dunno, one step at a time, I guess. We should text her or something tomorrow, yeah? See what she's up to and stuff."

    "Yeah. Yeah! Wait! You can help me carry all these clothes to the post office in town and- she has to meet us there, 'cause I don't know where to sent hers- and then I can cleverly abandon you two!" Casey decides with a delighted clap. "Except actually I'll probably just be spying on you. Don't worry 'bout that part."

    "Hm. Little worried about that part. But yeah, that sounds like a plan. Plausible. Casual. Assuming she does want this stuff back." Jordan nods thoughtfully as he settles into a more comfortable sleeping position. And now… I just have to think about what to say. Yeah. Great. "Alright, goodnight for real."

    "Good night!" Casey responds cheerily, and is out in a matter of minutes.



    Tangela | F | Lvl. 31

    Vine Whip
    Sleep Powder
    Poison Powder


    Pidgeotto | M | Lvl. 31

    Mirror Move
    Wing Attack


    Alolan Cubone | M | Lvl. 29

    Focus Energy
    Feint Attack
    Bone Club
    Swords Dance


    Skiddo | F | Lvl. 28

    Vine Whip
    Razor Leaf
    Leech Seed


    Pumpkaboo | F | Lvl. 26

    Razor Leaf
    Shadow Sneak
    Confuse Ray
    Scary Face
    Worry Seed

    ??? | ? | Lvl. -

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


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

    Moon Stone