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I Will Touch the Skies - A Pokemon Fanfiction (OC)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Soussouni1, Jan 27, 2023.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 135 - Turning Point II
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 135 - Turning Point II

    "T—talk? What do you want to know, I—I'll tell you anything!" Cecilia blurted out as fast as she could. There was no point in fighting back. She had her Pokemon, but Malamar would never let her bring them out, and even then, she would lose the fight. He was a much better trainer than she.

    Abel hummed, the child let out a gurgling laugh, and the woman grunted. Who even were the other two? Cecilia had never heard of the man having accomplices before back in Unova. Maybe they were two new people he'd found in Sinnoh? People he had mind controlled? Abel took in one last, long drag of his cigarette and threw it out the window.

    "That hit the spot," he smiled. "So you'll cooperate then? That makes things easier. First, I need you to call your father right now, but you'll need to act natural. Tell him that you've had a change of heart, that he shouldn't fly back to Unova, and that you want to meet him and talk things out… hm, I need a concrete date. Zazza?"

    The old woman grunted.

    "Look up how long it'd take to walk to Solaceon— actually, let's just do Veilstone. Easier to get lost in the crowd, and he'd be convinced more easily."

    Walk. Abel didn't own a flying type, then, and even if he owned a teleporter, he'd probably never been to either Solaceon or Veilstone, so he wouldn't even be able to get there anyway. Cecilia silently absorbed the information as Abel threw his Xtransceiver toward the woman he called Zazza, and she caught it at unnaturally high speeds. Her arm was so quick that it became a blur.

    "Now, let's keep going. You're going to tell him that you'll meet him in Veilstone… just tell him that you'll go to that vacation home you own in the western parts of the city. I already know the address."

    Her heart sank even deeper. She absolutely did not want to see her father again, but if it was to survive… she nodded weakly.

    "Ah!" Abel laughed. "You don't want to see your old man, right? I can see it on your face. Don't worry, all I need is a tuft of your hair, and you'll be set. You won't have to meet him, and you probably never have to see me again, and I'm a man of my word, but you just have to really sell this call."

    The woman let out a slight, gruff sound, baring her teeth, and lifted up ten fingers, then two.

    "Twelve days to get to Solaceon. Tell him you'll meet him in fifteen, then, at 5:00 pm. I'll need to prepare some things in advance."

    "I—I don't feel like I can—"

    "But you will. Then I'll have a few questions about how you used to behave with your old man."

    "Please, just give me a few minutes—"

    "I said I was short on time, wasn't I? Beggars can't be choosers, Cecilia, and right now, you are most certainly a beggar. See, I don't see the point in senseless violence. What's the point in controlling someone or killing them unless I get paid appropriately? I want nothing to do with you, so just do this for me, and you'll stick it up to your dear old dad. He abused you, he didn't pay me in full, we've both been screwed, so it's a win for both of us. Dan? Give her her phone."

    The child's impossible wide grin somehow widened, and he excitedly hopped off the bed, getting her phone out of his small pocket. Cecilia's eyes bulged, and she let out a small gasp. He dropped the Poketch into her hands.

    "When did you…?"

    "Dial his number."

    Cecilia's hands trembled as she listened to his command. An idea popped into her head, screaming at her to call the police, but would Abel notice? She could fake the entire conversation and hope they'd pick up on it.

    But the risks were too large. And why even go so far to protect a man she hated? She wasn't thinking straight—

    "Put it on speaker," the man said.

    Well, that plan was moot regardless, then.

    Cecilia had blocked her father's phone number long ago, and the closer she got to completing it, the more fear she felt. Why… why was she more scared of her father than the criminal in front of her? It made no sense! She slowly brought the phone up to her ears and—

    "Cecilia. I did not think you would ever call me again."

    It took everything she had not to sob right then and there. His voice inflicted such terror upon her, even now. Cecilia had thought that she had been freed, but he still had a hold on her. Clarence spoke with a voice devoid of any warmth or love for her, and it sent ice coursing through her veins.

    She bit her lip, and had to force herself to let out her next words.

    "Father," Cecilia started. She stared up at Abel, who lazily lounged on her chair, but still observed her to make sure she didn't step out of line. "To tell you the truth, I have been thinking these last few weeks, and I feel like I have to apologize to you."

    Damn it. The words tasted like ash in her mouth. She reviled him. None of it was real. She wanted to snap at Clarence and tell him how much she despised the fact that they were of the same blood.

    Even if Abel hadn't been there, Cecilia felt like she wouldn't have been able to say it.

    "Have you now?" Clarence said. "I find that hard to believe. You are lying to me, Cecilia."

    The girl froze, and her eyes darted to Abel, who motioned to her to keep going.

    "I'm not," she said, her tone smooth and calm. "I genuinely feel sorry. I hadn't seen that you were doing everything for my own good. I heard that you were flying out to Unova soon, but I want to meet you again. How about our vacation home in Veilstone in fifteen days? Does five in the evening work for you?"

    Clarence laughed. "You thought you could fool me, couldn't you? I can tell from the way you speak, Cecilia. You are a terrible liar. If you truly felt the words you were saying, then you would not be using that calm tone of yours."

    Abel stared at the ceiling and let out a sigh that turned into a frustrated groan. "Give me the phone," he whispered.

    Cecilia whimpered. She had failed. She might have hated Clarence, but he knew her.

    "Good evening, Clarence."

    Finally, her father placed some emotion into his voice. "A—Abel? What are you doing with my daughter?"

    "What's the problem? Weren't you the one that begged for me to get Malamar to control her for weeks before scamming me? Cecilia and I have a lot of things in common. Maybe we were working together to take you down."

    "Nonsense. I've already told you that I cannot pay you. There's too much at risk, especially now that you've involved yourself with Team Galactic."

    Cecilia felt a chill run through her entire body. Abel was involved with Team Galactic? She was too distressed to even understand what the information implied.

    Abel laughed, and the child imitated him, letting out gurgling sounds.

    "Your hands aren't so squeaky clean either, Clarence," he said. "It's a wonder how quickly the Directorate changed their mind on bailing out the Bianchis, isn't it? You wouldn't believe how much I know about your friend Harvey. I could sink him, and your dear merger by association."

    What was… what was going on? The Bianchis were involved with Team Galactic too? At least that's what she felt he was implying. The new majority in the Directorate was seemingly listening to what they wanted, too. This was a complete disaster! A national security failure of the highest proportions! What was Cynthia doing?!

    Everything was intertwining.

    "But getting that message out would require a deal with Sinnoh's League, and you would serve time. You would never do it."

    Abel sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

    Then he grinned, staring at Cecilia.

    "Correct. It seems we've reached an impasse, then."

    He was lying.

    "Look, there's a lot of risk involved, and a lot of moving parts, but I would be willing to pay you under one condition," Clarence said.

    "Which is?"

    "Use your Malamar and bring me back my daughter."

    Cecilia dejectedly stared at Abel, then at Malamar. He appeared to be actually considering the option. She let out a sad laugh. What a horrible man her father was. Never in her life had she seen such a psychopath, narcissistic shell of a human. Was it over, then? If it was, she might as well try to fight—

    "No. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. I don't work with people that have already fleeced me," he shrugged before glancing at her. "You already owe me the money. You are an honorless piece of trash, Clarence. You should see the look on your daughter's face right now. I'd watch out if I were you. If looks could kill… and she doesn't even know what you just said."

    Cecilia froze. What?

    "Aren't you going to kill me first?"

    "Kill you? No, no, not unless you force me to. Killing clients is bad for business. All I want is my money, and then I'll slip out of this Arceus-forsaken region."

    "Good luck with that. How's Hearthome treating you? I've heard a full man-hunt for you is currently on the way."

    So that was why he said that he'd been short on time, Cecilia thought.

    "I'll easily slip out. I always do."

    "We will see about that. I believe we are done here, then?"

    "See you later, Clarence. I'll make sure I'm paid in full. Oh, and by the way, the phone was on speaker the entire time, you moron. Your daughter heard everything. I'm not going to be the one sinking Harvey, she will. Say goodbye to your merger, Clarence. Now you know what happens when you cross me."

    Abel hung up Cecilia's phone before her father could even react and threw it on her lap.

    "Well, your acting skills could use some work," he continued, getting up from her chair. "Forget about my questions, I'm leaving this city. Those pieces of shit grunts gave up everything about me. Dan, they know what you're dressed like, so you'll need to change."

    The child jumped up and down excitedly.

    "None of that," Abel said, clicking his tongue and recalling Malamar. Even though he'd said he wouldn't mind control her, the relief she felt when the psychic type was gone was immense, and the room immediately returned to normal. Still, she wouldn't scream— not when he was about to leave peacefully.

    Her eyes widened when the child's entire body changed in front of her. His skin turned purple, and his face grew thicker, more square, while his hair turned from dark brown to a lighter one, and he grew taller by more than one foot.

    He'd turned into Abel— clothes and all.

    "Not now, and not in front of her, damn it!" Abel groaned, losing his composure for the first time. He turned to Cecilia, and his stare grew sinister.

    "I won't tell anyone what I saw! You can let me be!" She begged.

    "Arceus…" he sighed. "Well, ignoring the obvious, I feel like things will work out in my favor if I let you run around. Dan, you're grounded. Zazza—"

    "Wait! Before you leave, I have to ask you something."

    "No. I don't owe you anything."

    Cece decided to ask anyway. "Amy Saunier… was she under your Malamar's control at any point?"

    Abel scoffed. "Oh, that's what you wanted to ask? Well, why not. She was not, but she certainly was under your father's."

    Cecilia's shoulders slumped. So Amy had said the truth when she said that nothing had been done to her during that fateful night at the hotel. She bit her lip and blinked to chase away tears. They hadn't been friends for months, but it was still sad to see that she'd done so much evil out of her own volition.

    At least she had closure now. She would never forgive her.

    "Satisfied? Zazza, grab Dan and let's go."

    The old woman, who Cecilia had almost forgotten somehow, grabbed Dan by the neck and jumped out the open window, and she heard a thud. She was on the third floor, and yet she'd landed like it was nothing! The air beyond her window grew strange and distorted. Extrasensory. Abel jumped into the patch of air and was slowly lowered until he reached the street. Cecilia ran to the window and saw the passersby scream, recognizing him as he released a Xatu and teleported away.

    Cecilia took a deep breath and closed her window.

    And she collapsed on her knees, crying her heart out in relief and confusion for fifteen minutes. She called the police immediately afterward.



    I'd still been talking to Turtonator when I got Justin's call telling me that something had gone wrong with Cecilia. As it turned out, we had quite a lot more in common than I ever believed we could have. Kamaile Nalanie had a run-in with Team Galactic during his trek through Mount Coronet. He'd been traveling with two other trainers he'd grouped up with at the outpost, and he was helping them through the mountain. They found Team Galactic in the middle of the mountain, where patrols were scarce, and the wildlife was dangerous. The fact that they could have potentially still been there while we were inside terrified me, but my experiences with Team Galactic had been easy compared to what Kamaile went through.

    When it became apparent that they wouldn't hesitate to order their Pokemon to kill them, the two trainers with Kamaile ran away, leaving him alone against a squad of grunts. He fought valiantly, but it wasn't enough. One of them had apparently been so powerful that even Turtonator stood no chance, which if I had to guess, meant that it was a Commander. I tried to get more information out of him, but he refused to tell me anything else. Kamaile ended up dying after trying to recall his Pokemon to not get them killed, and that caused Turtonator— the only one who'd been left— to go into a rampage so powerful that they had been forced to leave because of the heat.

    I didn't know if the two trainers that ran ever said anything about Team Galactic, but it looked like they hadn't, so that helped explain his inherent hatred toward trainers. He saw them all as the same people who got his trainer killed.

    To be honest, could I even blame them for running? They had barely known each other.

    I couldn't. I could blame them for not reporting it to the authorities, but running? I might have run too, unless I froze first. Kamaile seemed to have been a heroic person. Not everyone would be capable of standing up to Team Galactic like that, and maybe the two trainers had thought that he'd run too. Turtonator despised them for being 'cowards' and escaping, but he was holding them at impossible standards.

    Standards I'd have to meet, if I ever wanted to be able to use him in battle.

    Still, I said nothing to Turtonator. Even if he had asked to speak alone without my other Pokemon listening, he'd let himself be vulnerable and told me his story, so it was something we would talk about at a later date, and I'd need to call the rangers to tell them about how Kamaile truly died.

    The Pokemon Center was swarming with local policemen, the International Police, and League trainers. It had been completely cleared of trainers, but I was allowed through. I saw Louis on the way to where they were leading me, but we could only wave at each other before the police led me away.

    "Cecilia Obel wouldn't talk without you there," the cop explained.

    "How bad is she?" I asked, feeling my stomach drop.

    "She seems composed enough, just slightly shaken. She just refused to speak to anyone without seeing you first, which is why you were called here urgently."

    I nodded, and the cop opened the room's door. They were apparently using the Center rooms as makeshift interrogation rooms. Inside, Cecilia brightened up as soon as she saw me, greeting me with a slight smile. I was glad to see that just like the officer had said, she hadn't completely broken down, and she didn't seem to be faking it either. Still, I could tell that she was more affected than she showed.

    "Cece!" I breathed out as I rushed toward her. She stood up and hugged me tightly. "What happened? Justin told me a bit with his phone call, but… are you okay? Did you get hurt anywhere?"

    "I'm fine," she nodded. "More angry than anything, now. I was powerless… but we can talk about that later," she said, glancing toward the two other people in the room— a man and a woman who both looked to be in their forties.

    They both sat on chairs that they had no doubt brought from other rooms. The woman sported a short bob cut, and the man had an elongated face with thick, sharp eyebrows. They both had black hair, wore long, brown coats and ties, and looked sleep-deprived with deep bags under their eyes.

    "Good evening," the man started. "I'm Agent Looker, and this is Agent Lynn with the International Police. Normally, we'd ask you questions individually, but… these are extraordinary circumstances, after all, so we were willing to make an exception."

    I stared at Cece, who simply responded with a curt nod. I was surprised to see that the International Police was seemingly taking over the investigation, but I knew that they were helping with Team Galactic, so it wasn't too out of the ordinary.

    "We'll be recording this conversation, by the way," Agent Lynn said. Her voice was surprisingly docile and soft. She pulled out a small audio recorder and turned it on. "Today's the… what's today?"

    "The 15th."

    "Thank you. January 15th, and we are speaking to Cecilia Obel and Grace Pastel," she continued.

    I saw Cece grimace at her last name, and I patted her thigh to support her.

    "So, Cecilia. You called the police an hour ago, telling us that Abel was in the Pokemon Center. There were multiple people that witnessed him getting out, but we'd like to know what you talked about," Lynn asked.

    Cecilia told us everything— including the fact that Abel had two accomplices and that he accused the Bianchis of being directly involved with Team Galactic. The thought of it made my head spin. Team Galactic, Abel, the Bianchis and the Obels were all linked, and we were in the middle of it all. It felt like trying to survive in the middle of a hurricane. Still, at least it looked like Josephine had been partly right. Abel didn't care about us whatsoever, he just wanted to use Cece as a means to access her father. He was still a terrible person, though. He'd threatened her to get her to do his bidding, knowing that she'd be incapable of refusing and fighting back. Not only that, but he also worked with Team Galactic. From the way she described him, it seemed that he did indeed put money above everything, but he held grudges and held them well. Cecilia had also told the police about how he valued honor, which was funny, because nothing about mind control and basically being a hitman seemed honorable to me.

    Despite hating him, I was starting to understand how he functioned.

    "Let's get back to the two individuals accompanying him," Looker said. "You said that the smaller child called Dan changed his face in front of you?"

    "Not just his face. He became an entirely different person and turned into Abel."

    Looker stared at Lynn and hummed. "Sounds like a Ditto, no?"

    Before hearing about its transformation, I had thought that they'd both been mind controlled, but apparently not? Ditto turning into a human was banned by the law, but Abel was a criminal, so I supposed that made sense. Plus, if the blank stare and the creepy grin was anything to go on, they'd make any kind of mind control really obvious. A Malamar was a lot subtler than that.

    The woman agreed. "Would fit the way it turned purple when it changed, and the fact that it didn't talk, just gurgled. Ditto can only turn into things that it sees. But what about the woman? Zazza, you said?"

    Cecilia nodded. "She never said anything either. Just grunts. But the… Ditto didn't look that powerful, while she seemed to have superhuman strength. She moved so quickly, and jumped out the window like it was nothing."

    "Hm… doesn't seem like a Ditto to me. They can't become stronger than what they turn into, humans included. We'll have to keep a tab on it for now," Looker told Lynn as he took notes. "It's most likely related to the hair he asked of her. A strange requirement for a transformation."

    Ditto, Malamar and Xatu were his confirmed Pokemon now, but there were still seven more unknown ones. The fact that he had a teleporter explained how he'd managed to escape so many times, and it also meant that the League would have to work a lot harder to arrest him.

    "Um, are you going to arrest Harvey Bianchi and Clarence Obel?" I sprung up. Getting rid of them would make most of our problems disappear.

    "We can't go in detail about that, but we'll certainly do something about it, along with Sinnoh's League."

    I sighed in relief. There was also the fact if what Abel had said was true, the Directorate was somehow involved with Team Galactic as well, and they also had something to do with the recent bailout package that had been passed. Cynthia needed to do something and clean house, because this was quickly becoming untenable.

    But maybe that was Team Galactic's strategy. They knew that they couldn't win in a direct confrontation, so their plan was to be a thorn in the League's side to slow them down until they could enact whatever plan they had. Maybe they wanted to create a coup and take over the region, or maybe they just wanted to sow chaos.

    Agent Looker and Agent Lynn kept asking Cecilia questions for another hour and a half, mostly going over her story over and over again and asking for more and more detail each time they did. They also told us that everything here was confidential and that we weren't allowed to leak her detailed testimony to the public outside of our circle— meaning the people who had been interrogated here today. Of course, it had unfortunately already leaked. People knew that Abel had been in a Pokemon Center, and they knew that he'd spoken to Cecilia, but they were mostly concerned about the media getting a hold of the full testimony. I also told them about Team Galactic hanging around in Mount Coronet, along with a potential Commander and they told me that they'd look into it. After that, they gave us their number in case we remembered anything else, thanked us, and left.

    "How are you really?" I immediately asked her.

    "I'm terribly angry," she answered. "Despite all the progress we've made, this is the weakest I've ever felt, Grace. We're big fish in a small pond. The wider world… is so much more powerful. I thought I was making progress. I thought I'd never be weak again."

    "You'll grow stronger," I said firmly. "We all will. And look, odds are, your dad and Louis' dad are finally going down, right? I mean, Josephine talked about plausible deniability, but they're beyond that now. They're fucked."

    "Harvey is. Clarence might be fine, since he wasn't accused. The League will probably investigate him, though."

    I pressed my head against my hands. "Right. Abel can't get his money back if Clarence loses everything. This was a warning. He sank Harvey to show him that he might be next."

    Cecilia nodded, then waited a few seconds before talking again. "You know what Abel told me before he left?"

    "Hm?"

    "He said he felt like things would work out in his favor if he let me run around. I keep trying to think about what it means, but I can't."

    "Didn't he just mean with your dad? You've literally just exposed Harvey for working with Team Galactic, didn't you? You did what he couldn't, and now he's going to get arrested, and Clarence might give him his money."

    "No, that's too obvious," she shook her head. "I might be overthinking it, but I think he meant something else, and it scares me."

    If it wasn't with her father, it could only mean Team Galactic, but how? We weren't doing anything with Team Galactic, and even though Turtonator was connected to them, I wasn't about to jump into the burning house and try to fight a terrorist organization. Wait, even that made no sense. He was working with them, not against them, so in what way was Cecilia going to help him? It made no sense!

    Maybe he'd just said it to bother her… no, he didn't seem like the type. Damn it, this was bothering me too, now.

    Honestly, the more I thought about this, the worse it got. Abel was working with Team Galactic, and so was Harvey, but they were also enemies. How did that even work?

    "I'll try to think about what it meant," I said. "Coming up blank right now, though."

    "It's alright," she smiled. "To be honest, I'm taking this a lot better than I thought I would. In the moment, I was terrified, but I'm… I'm okay, at least. I didn't completely break down, I just feel tense. Thankfully, Abel won't come after me again. I did learn something, though."

    "What is it?" I asked.

    "When Pauline saw Abel back in Eterna, he had his Malamar with him, right? And when he came here, he also had his Malamar, a Ditto, and some unknown Pokemon," she said, before hesitating. "Mars… Mars has Dusknoir hanging around her at all times, and when Fantina took down those five grunts, she told the media it was because at least one of her ghosts always stays outside of their Pokeball. Cynthia walks around with her Garchomp out at all times…"

    I was slowly starting to get her point.

    "Good trainers always have at least one Pokemon out. Or at least people that are expecting to be in danger."

    "Exactly," she nodded. "If I had had Slowking with me when I walked into my room, then… I know Abel is more powerful than I am, but maybe he could have bought me enough time to run away. If Abel had worse intentions than he did, it would have been over for me."

    She was completely right. We always had at least one Pokemon out on the routes, but in the cities? We almost always traveled with them in their Pokeballs. Of course, sometimes they'd be forced to go back in, like when we entered certain buildings or public transportation, but Pokemon like Slowking were allowed in the majority of places. Ghosts were convenient, since they could hide wherever you went. I had already thought about how necessary psychic types or Pokemon capable of psychic type attacks were to a trainer in the wild due to how excellent they were at protecting us, and I believed it was time to put my money where my mouth was. In my case, Togetic could work. Electabuzz could work too, since he had fast reaction times and knew Protect.

    I'd have to tell this to the others too. The safer we were, the better. I sighed, suddenly feeling a wave of exhaustion wash over me. So much stuff had happened these past two days that the world felt completely different than it had been before.

    "Should we go meet the others?" Cecilia asked. "I think we should have a meeting."



    Pauline's room was packed.

    There'd been more people than everyone expected. Pauline had thought that it'd be just our old group, meaning that Louis would be included, but he'd brought with him his two traveling companions, one of which was Mira, who I had met in Fantina's gym, and the other was Maeve, who'd fought him at the Floaroma tournament. Apparently, she even knew Chase. It was funny how small the world could be. After asking Cecilia if she wasn't too hurt or shaken, Louis placed himself in the corner of the room and kept fidgeting nervously. Emilia nervously licked her lips, staring around the room as her eyes settled on Chase, who was leaning against the wall and staring out the closed window. Slowking tapped on Cecilia's shoulder, and the girl winced due to the telepathy. Someone was coming.

    Denzel and Justin strode into the room, and they were the last to arrive.

    Why were Maeve and Mira here? Louis had already told them everything right away before he was interrogated, so we figured it'd be good to bring them in. Maeve seemed extremely nervous, and she probably didn't want to be involved in this. The fact that she'd forced herself to come meant that Louis had made himself some good friends in our absence.

    Why was Chase here? Well, his case was a bit muddier. I had pushed to bring him in until everyone ended up accepting. Denzel and Cecilia hadn't pushed back too hard anyway. He was technically not allowed to be there, but when I phoned Lynn, she surprisingly gave me the okay.

    Apparently, the League was announcing something big regarding the Directorate tomorrow, so they didn't exactly care about confidentiality anymore.

    "Let's get started," Denzel said. "We need to make a concrete plan for the future—"

    "Wait, is no one going to explain why I'm here?" Chase interrupted with an irritated tone.

    "Hold on… no one told you? Grace?" Denzel asked, looking at me.

    Oh. Right. In all of the excitement and wrangling I had to do to convince to get him out of his comfort zone and a room full of people…

    I simply forgot.

    "Oops?"
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2023
  2. Silverbladestar

    Silverbladestar Not too sore, are you?

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    Why did she change her mind about being a trainer? She sounded really against it at the start. Plus the first night of the "Job" she was given looked pretty bad. Like, I get that this is the point of the start of the story, I just don't see why she would catch the "training bug" so fast if she was so opposed to the idea.

    For example, why did she agree to that first battle? Maybe it's a cultural thing, she did mention that it used to be you could not say no to a challenge in the first place. Which means they would make you fight. Makes sense for a video game where you have to win to get by, not so much for real life.

    I know you can't have a story without a start like this, but the flip from not wanting to, to really into it is a little too fast. Plus the emotions in general seem kinda strong. It's been a long time since I was what, fifteen? Maybe I am just tired in my mid-thirties over here, but it feels over the top to me.

    Edit: Or even buy the extra Poke balls? She joked about it as a just in case thing, but if she didn't want to a trainer there is no reason to want extra Poke balls
     
  3. Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    Answering this would be spoilers, and it is eventually answered, but you asked, so here goes.

    Grace thought that she didn't want to be a trainer, but that first battle and her first time training with Togepi unlocked a passion within her that she didn't know she had. This is hinted at with her being an avid Pokemon battle watcher and enjoying browsing the forums, rooting for certain trainers that year, thinking about buying Pokeballs, etc. It's kind of like when you're scared to taste food/start a hobby that you think you'd hate, but you end up loving it immediately. Teenagers tend to change their minds a lot quicker than adults, so that point you made is also correct.
     
  4. Silverbladestar

    Silverbladestar Not too sore, are you?

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    I think the order of things is wrong here. You foreshadowed this with the nightmares, and then retriggered her with that poor starly. But it's been a bit since she had her scare at the lake, and the nightmares only started pretty soon. Unless she is secretly psychic and having prophecy dreams or something?
     
  5. Silverbladestar

    Silverbladestar Not too sore, are you?

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    I am kind of upset at her lack of self-control? Her fear makes sense but it almost killed her by drawing interest. It would be better if she had shut down like she did with the Golbat. Like, she is smart enough to know she should be quiet and still but keeps crying anyway. Mars is not hiding that she likes the begging and tears so if she can't get a hold of herself its going to be much worse. She is still just a kid I guess.

    Edit: And then she mentally freezes and becomes nonresponsive afterward, of course. The reaction makes sense but still that's not helpful.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2023
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter 136
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    A/N: For the people that immediately read the last chapter as soon as it was uploaded, there was something I forgot to add: Grace told the International Police about Team Galactic having been in Mount Coronet. If you know what I'm talking about, then you read the chapter after I edited it.


    CHAPTER 136

    "Pffft— hahahaha!" Mira laughed, doubling over. "Oh man, you guys are a riot! You're telling me this guy doesn't even know what he's here for?"

    "I don't even know you," Chase said. "You're making a terrible first impression."

    "Mira…" Maeve groaned.

    The pink-haired girl sprung up. "We should be friends—"

    "No."

    "I'm sorry, Chase," I sighed before quickly bringing him up to speed. He didn't seem to react very much, although I caught him sneaking some worried glances at Cece. "There, you're caught up."

    "Okay. So what is this for? Are we going to fuck up these guys, or what?" He asked.

    "You know what, I'd enjoy that very much," Pauline smirked. "But we couldn't even if we wanted to."

    "All of us combined? They can't be invincible."

    "Don't be stupid, guys," Denzel said. "We're not going after anyone. That's not what this meeting is for, this isn't a movie. Let the League do its job."

    "We believe that since everyone here has been involved with Cecilia or Louis one way or another, we'd best bring you all into the loop and find ways to defend ourselves in case things go south again," Justin explained.

    "I mean, I think I got the gist of what happened when Louis told us but… aren't your dads going to get arrested? We should be fine," Maeve said.

    "Don't be naive," Pauline rolled her eyes. "See, this is why—"

    A stare from both Denzel and Emilia shut her down.

    Emilia started to speak. "What Pauline meant to say is that while yes, Harvey will probably get arrested, it'll take an investigation from the International Police and the League. They were implied to be transferring funds to Team Galactic, right? They'd be foolish to have left a paper trail."

    "Harvey's days are numbered, but a cornered Pokemon tends to lash out even if it'd make no sense," Justin said, turning to Louis' friends and Chase. "And unfortunately, you're all involved, so you might be targeted."

    "I'll beat 'em," Chase shrugged. "If this is when you ask to travel as a large group, then I'll have to say no."

    "We weren't going to," Cece said. "It was just a general warning. Keep a Pokemon out with you at all times, and be careful of who you potentially befriend."

    "Not sure this guy's going to make any new friends without me to help," Mira said, pointing her thumb at Chase. He just ignored her.

    "Please take this seriously," I chided.

    Her eyes narrowed, and she stared me down for a few seconds before relenting.

    "Sorry, sorry! I'm a little bit of an airhead."

    "Louis?" Cecilia asked worriedly. "You've been quiet."

    "W—what?" He recoiled. "Maeve's been quiet too."

    "Please don't throw me under the bus," she muttered. "I'm just scared."

    "You should leave me, then," he said.

    "Of course not. Plus, what's done is done. They already know we're friends."

    "Let's get back on topic," Denzel clapped his hands. "Like Cecilia said, you should have a Pokemon with you, even in a city. That's the most important bit to take from this. Something with defensive capabilities would be ideal— like a psychic— but if you're like me and you don't have any, then a fast Pokemon would do the trick. Especially you, Emi, since you'll be alone in Hearthome. Second, we should create a group chat so we can all communicate. Since we're not going to travel together, it'd be good to keep tabs on each other until this whole thing blows over, at the very least."

    "Don't forget to bring Vincent up to speed," I told her.

    Emilia had tried to bring in Vincent, but he couldn't make it because he was working at his part-time job. We hadn't known if he'd been with us enough to warrant him being here, but we wanted to be thorough.

    "Can't we ask the police for bodyguards or something?" Maeve asked.

    "Bodyguards on the routes would basically be impossible," Denzel shook his head. "Maybe in the cities, but I wouldn't count on it. The only person they might give one to is Cece, because Abel seems interested in her, but even that isn't guaranteed."

    "That's such bullshit," Pauline complained. "They don't give a fuck about us."

    "I wouldn't go that far," Justin said. The redhead huffed and turned away from him.

    "What's some crummy police officer going to do that we can't?" Mira shrugged. "We're getting to the point where we're more powerful than even those. The only thing that could be useful would be some League trainers, but it's not like that's ever happening."

    "So you can be smart. Why aren't you smart all the time?" Chase asked.

    "Maybe it's because I want to see your reactions," she joked.

    "Emi, you'll have to keep training your Beldum's Confusion or get him started on Psychic, I think," I said. "Not like it wouldn't help with contests."

    "I was planning on doing that anyway."

    "Okay. Think you'll be alright, then?"

    "I don't plan on making you guys worry about me. I've got to be able to do things on my own too," she said.

    "Let's move onto Abel, then," Justin said.

    "That Malamar psycho? What's there to say about him? Isn't he basically on our side?" Chase asked.

    "As long as the money blows that way," Cecilia whispered. "There are still things we haven't considered. What if Clarence offers him a sum so ridiculous that he not only stops going after him, but changes his mind and comes after us again? Money is all he values."

    "Pay him to fuck off?" Mira mused. "That certainly sounds possible."

    "There's also Louis' dad to consider," I said. "He's more involved with Team Galactic than Clarence, if Abel's words are to be believed."

    "My father… I'm going to get my chance to speak to him again no matter what," Louis said.

    "Well, hopefully you'll speak to him during visitor hours in prison," Mira cheerfully said.

    There was a small lull in the conversation, and I used it as my opportunity to bring up what I wanted to talk about.

    "On the topic of Abel… I wanted to ask a question regarding Ditto. Justin, you know a bit about those, right?" I asked, and he responded with a nod. "Could a Ditto that turns into a human potentially grow stronger than one? The police said no, but I wanted to be sure."

    "No. That older woman Cecilia described cannot be a Ditto."

    Damn, so it really was some other shapeshifter Pokemon. I didn't even know that more existed in the first place, but there was no other explanation. It was the only thing that lined up with the behavior Cecilia had described.

    And it could use Extrasensory. That Xatu hadn't been the one to lower Abel out of the building.

    "I'm stumped on what it could be, but the people in charge will probably figure it out," I said. "But Cece, I think you're wrong. Didn't Abel say that he'd never work with Clarence again? There's a weird honor code he abides by, so I think that it's plausible."

    "I won't take that chance. I've been slacking off too much. I'm going to try to get Slowking a psychic teacher that can teach him how to shield minds. It'll take months, but it's the best I've got."

    "But who?" Justin asked.

    "I can certainly find one. Maybe not in Solaceon, but Veilstone is a large city. There's bound to be a psychic expert there to teach him. Once they get started, Slowking will be able to continue working on it on his own."

    The water type sagely nodded.

    "Maybe I'll do the same with my Kadabra!" Mira said excitedly.

    "You don't have money," Maeve rolled her eyes.

    "I'll pay for it," Louis said. "It baffles me, but my father… my father still hasn't cut off my money."

    "You still have a private account, right?" Cecilia asked. "Then you should do what I did, and withdraw everything right now. The situation's changed. Who knows what Harvey will do now?"

    "Very well. If you say so, Cecilia, I will do it."

    I frowned at that, but let it go.

    "How are your Pokemon doing, by the way?" I asked Louis. "Still having trouble with Gible?"

    "Well, Denzel's Sylveon has knocked most of his confidence away, so he mostly listens to what I say these days," he said with an awkward smile. "The rest are doing well, and I've caught a Pawniard."

    "He's a tough little thing," Maeve said. "Louis carries his favorite rock wherever he goes. I find it cute."

    "No flirting!" Mira yelled. "This is a serious meeting. Chase, say something!"

    "Huh?" Chase grunted.

    "That wasn't flirting," Maeve rolled her eyes. "You can call people cute platonically… you can right? I mean, I'm actually not sure, but I think you can? Any help?"

    "How did this get derailed so quickly?" Denzel pinched his nose. "I feel like people are not grasping how serious this is. Let's move on from Abel, there's no way to know if he'll change his mind or not, and we don't even know how his relationship with Team Galactic will affect this as a whole."

    "True, that could be a curveball," I said. "I mean…"

    Mars had probably moved on from me by now, right? It had been months. No one could be that obsessed.

    "I mean, it's probably best to think about it like a mutually beneficial relationship. He hasn't actually joined them, so the moment it becomes inconvenient for him to work with them, he'll stop."

    "Yeah, the news said that he was just a middleman. Anyway, I do want to ask everyone to try to get your Pokemon to the next level as soon as you can. We all want to make it to the Conference— or the Grand Festival, in Emi's case— so we should already be doing it anyway."

    "I train more than any of you already, Williams," Chase said.

    "Wait, what's this? You call people by their last names?" Mira curiously asked.

    "Yes."

    "You don't know my last name. What'd you call me?"

    "Loser."

    "Haha! You're too much, man!" She cackled. She tried to slap his back, but he easily knocked her hand away.

    Denzel buried his face in his hands and groaned. "For example, I've got the money to buy a Dawn Stone now that I'm sponsored. I was going to wait, but I can't afford to. Plus, I think Snorunt is ready."

    I knew what he meant. He didn't particularly mean training, per se. We all already trained a ridiculous amount. I believed what he meant was overcoming the bottlenecks that restrained us. For him, it was not evolving his Snorunt. For me, it was probably not having money for a Shiny Stone and needing to get Turtonator on board.

    Our conversation had been cut short. Something I'd hope to remedy tomorrow morning.

    For Mira… well, it was probably her issues with her Haunter. For Pauline, it was how picky she was with her Pokemon. She quite literally easily put Denzel's pickiness to shame. At least he had a concrete list, but she was just going at it half-heartedly, hoping something would catch her attention. Justin's was less on the Pokemon side of thing, and more on his indecisiveness during fights. He had clamped down on it during his battle with Fantina, but I didn't know how he'd react in an actual street fight with no rules.

    Hell, even I wouldn't know how I'd react.

    I didn't know enough about Maeve to come up with something. Cece… well, she tended to rely on power too much, I supposed. Power wouldn't work against tricky people like Abel or against hitmen potentially stronger than we were. We'd need ingenuity to make it out. Not only that, but her Scyther was a lot weaker than it could be in battle due to not listening to her.

    Louis' bottleneck had always been his Gible, but it looked like that'd be fixed soon, and Emilia's was the fact that her Pokemon other than Beldum were stagnating. Even coordinators trained their Pokemon's strength. There was a battle phase, after all.

    "When we make it to Solaceon, we should stay there and lay low for a bit before going to Veilstone. It works out for us, since there's a tournament we wanted to join. With some luck, this whole thing will blow over while we're there. Abel's goal is to head to Veilstone, so I think we should wait a little," I said.

    "I ain't waiting," Chase shook his head. "And I'm not going to Veilstone either. I'm going to Celestic first."

    "Route 210's pretty dangerous," I warned. "The visibility—"

    "It's important to me and Ri."

    Ah. It was true that he had referred to wanting to travel to Celestic multiple times now, but I hadn't known it was sentimental.

    "I understand. Just stay safe," I said.

    "If Mount Coronet couldn't take me down, some fog won't do it either," he shrugged.

    Mira pouted. "Bummer. I would have liked for you to travel with us instead of alone. Maeve told me that she knew you."

    "We traveled together through Eterna Forest," she explained. "He was… different, back then."

    "I might have been a prick," he shrugged again. "Doesn't really matter now."

    "You're still kind of a prick, but you're growing on me," Pauline said. "I like how blunt you are."

    Chase smiled. "Thanks, I guess. Ri says that I should be nicer, though. Self improvement and all of that."

    "Oh, your Riolu! I missed the little guy. I haven't seen him in so long," Maeve said.

    "Little guy? He's more than twice your age."

    "Oh. Wait, what?"

    The meeting kept derailing, but Denzel, Cece and I kept trying our best to get it back on track. Soon enough, people started to leave. Chase was first, saying that he needed to go and work out. Then, Louis' group left, and it was just us. I left to finally tell dad what was going on, and he told me he'd try to get us official League protection somehow, but I already knew that was probably a lost cause. He was worried to death, especially when he was leaving soon, but I promised him I'd stay safe. My Pokemon were getting strong enough to defend me from threats, and he'd seen them battle.

    Still, Abel was out of reach for now, but all we could do was hope that he'd keep targeting Cecilia's dad.

    Soon enough, I went back to my room and went to sleep.



    I woke up to a soft, yet purposeful knock on my door. Togetic instantly sprung to action, and her eyes started to glow, but I stopped her with a gentle tap. She was sleeping with me tonight, just in case. Now that we knew even Pokemon Centers weren't safe, I was sure that we were all sleeping with at least one of our Pokemon out.

    "Calm down, Princess," I yawned. "That's Cece's knock."

    I lazily strode to my room, scratching my stomach until I reached the door. When I opened it, I immediately left my half-asleep, dazed state. She looked distraught. Her eyes were red, like she'd been crying. Slowking was diligently following behind her, and he stared at me with pleading eyes. She needed help.

    "So you were affected after all," I softly said. "Come here."

    I let Slowking through, closed the door and gently held her in my arms.

    "I couldn't sleep. I'm so tired, but I just can't fall asleep. I don't know why," she sniffled. "I don't even feel particularly scared. I'm just on edge all the time. I can't stop thinking that something's going to go wrong."

    I rubbed her back, letting her vent her worries.

    "Can I sleep with you?"

    "Come on," I said. "You don't even need to ask, you've done it a lot already. I can get Buddy to help, if you want. He doesn't need to sleep, so maybe you'll feel safer."

    She hesitantly nodded, and I grabbed his Pokeball from my nightstand, releasing him. Jellicent stared at me curiously. He hadn't expected her to be here, or to be out tonight.

    "You're on watch tonight. Remember how I said I'd keep you guys out more from now on for security?" I said.

    The water type nodded and let out a smooth, deep cry.

    "He'll be on top of things," I smiled. "Maybe he can bond with your Slowking too. Princess will probably fall asleep though, but she'd probably annoy Slowking anyway— wait, I'm rambling."

    Cecilia smiled and shook her head. "It's okay, you know I like it. Plus, it makes me feel like everything's normal."

    I relaxed as we both got into the bed. It was true that I was finding it easier not to panic than I thought it would be. In fact, I felt strangely calm. It wasn't like I wasn't worried, but a part of me had already expected things to go to shit. Harvey and Clarence had always been in the back of my head, and I'd known that something related to them would go wrong. Maybe it was because I'd been through so much at this point that I was starting to get used to it.

    Then again, it wasn't me that Abel had threatened. It was Cece.

    I placed her head against my chest.

    "Do you feel it? My heartbeat."

    "Mhm," she softly said. "It's so slow."

    "Does it help? With destressing you, I mean."

    She wrapped her arms around me. "Yes."

    Jellicent was having a quiet conversation with Slowking, and Togetic was lazily listening while lying on his head, sometimes chiming in.

    "Thank you for being there for me," Cece said.

    "Of course," I said. "We're all here for you. The others too."

    "I know, it's just… it's special with you. I feel whole with you there."

    The conversation paused, and I considered what to say. What she needed was…

    "What do you say we go somewhere tomorrow for a change of pace? It'll do both of us some good."

    "There was a place I found… a place with a piano. You told me you wanted to play."

    My heart fluttered. "You remembered?"

    "Obviously. Do you want to go in the morning?"

    "Hm, I've got to talk to Turtonator, so that might take a while. What about the afternoon?"

    "There are too many people."

    "Are you worried about spies?" I asked. Was she so shaken that she didn't even want to go outside when there'd be a lot of people—

    "No, you'll just bother the people there. You don't know how to play, right? It'd be annoying to hear that."

    "What?! Hey!" I protested.

    She giggled, and I started laughing too.

    "You know what, you're probably right," I continued. "Thanks for finding it, though. It completely slipped my mind. Oh man, now I'm nervous… I don't even know how to read sheet music. Am I just going to improvise?"

    "Wasn't that always the intention?"

    "Of course not! I thought I'd have more time to get ready. You need to play with me so that if something goes wrong, we're both to blame."

    "Don't rope me into your schemes. I'd have you know that I already know how to play the piano quite well, although I might be rusty."

    "Oh. That makes sense," I blankly said, remembering that she used to take all kinds of lessons. "Wait, then you can teach me!"

    "I can't start teaching you until you learn how to read sheet music, Grace."

    "I know a little. Do, re, mi… fa… la?"

    "You might be a lost cause already."

    "We all have to start from somewhere, Cece!"

    We'd been supposed to sleep, but we didn't do so for two more hours.



    I'd overslept, but it was for a good reason. I certainly felt a lot happier today than I did yesterday, and hopefully, things would settle down for a bit so people could have a period to unwind. The League would announce something about the Directorate this afternoon, and hopefully, it'd have to do with the apparent corruption there. It was probably too soon, though. They had only just found out about it, and surely they'd need to at least investigate.

    I was back at Amity Square again, and I grabbed Turtonator's Pokeball. He'd told me his story, and I had told him mine, but we hadn't talked about what it meant for our relationship going forward. I released the hulking dragon, and he observed me with a curious eye. Tangrowth was standing behind me, soaking in the sunlight, but he was supposed to protect me from any attacks.

    Not from Turtonator. From people.

    "Morning, Sunshine," I smiled.

    Turtonator responded with an angry snort, dismissing the nickname immediately by beating his tail against the ground. His reaction hadn't been as strong as I had expected, however. He didn't even raise the temperature, which was a big win in my book.

    "Sorry, I just wanted to try it out," I said, leaning to the right. "Damn, you did a number on the floor. People work to keep it flat and the grass mowed, you know."

    Turtonator ignored me, clearly not caring for the employees here and lazily laid down, awaiting what I had to say.

    "Let's talk."
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2023
  7. SailorOfMyVessel

    SailorOfMyVessel Writer of plot, with some Plot for pleasure.

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    Big talk coming. I hope they can get to some sort of agreement soon, even if it's just the ability to keep him out of his ball near the others. And maybe some support on the Routes, for safety.

    Definitely too early to use him in gym fights, considering he's more an '8th gym' level Pokemon, but the rest might be viable.
     
    Soussouni1 and illerayn like this.
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter 137
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 137

    "First thing's first," I said, sitting down next to the dragon. It was the first time he'd ever let me come this close. "I thought I'd let you know what happened. I cut our conversation short without warning, and I'm sorry about that. Something happened to Cecilia."

    Turtonator frowned, making me realize that he'd forgotten who she was, or maybe he'd just not even registered her in the first place. It wasn't like I could blame him— he hadn't spent any time with any of my friends, and he couldn't have even if he wanted to. Pokemon like Turtonator couldn't be out and about in the street unless you had privileges that came with working for the League, and he'd probably try to kill them anyway.

    "Right. Uh, Cecilia's my girlfriend and one of the people I'm traveling with. This is relevant because it has to do with Team Galactic."

    The fire type's nose flared, releasing thick hot smoke. I explained to him who Abel was, what he had done, and that he worked with Team Galactic. People like him seemed to be the kind of person that Turtonator despised the most: a slimy man that could only get by using tricks and valued money above all else, which must have been the complete opposite of Kamaile.

    "We've both spoken about our experiences with Team Galactic, but I need to know. What does that mean for us?"

    Turtonator let out a dismissive grunt, and arrogance oozed off of him.

    "I'm not asking to use you in battle," I rolled my eyes. "I'm asking you what your goal is. Surely you won't be content with just sticking around doing nothing for the rest of your life. That wouldn't fit your profile. Personally, I wouldn't mind. Sweetheart's taken a liking to you, and she'd hate to see you leave. The others are warming up to you— well, except Princess—"

    He let out a loud snort when I uttered Togetic's name. It seemed that the hate was mutual there.

    "—And I'd like to get to know you too. You won't have to fight," I shrugged. "But your behavior's clearly changed since I told you everything. You're nicer now, but it's not out of pity. You want something."

    All of my Pokemon currently had goals. Electabuzz wanted to meet the three Gengar who raised him. Larvitar… I feel like I was on the brink of figuring something out, but with everything that was going on, I hadn't gotten the opportunity to have a one-on-one with her. Jellicent wanted to grow stronger to protect all of us, and Togetic was in the same vein, although she prioritized me a lot more than the others since I was the first being she laid her eyes on when she was born.

    What did Angel want? I turned toward the grass type, and he waved at me with a vine.

    I'd have to ask him to be sure, but he seemed to be enjoying taking care of Sweetheart.

    Turtonator curiously observed me, not bothering to answer. Like he knew that I already suspected something, and he wanted to see if I could reach the correct conclusion.

    "I don't really know what you want," I sighed. "I'm good, but I'm not psychic. I haven't… known you long enough to read you like that."

    The fire type closed his eyes disappointedly and made me wait eight minutes until he talked again. Back when he'd told me about Kamaile, he'd spoken the words Team Galactic so many times and with so much hatred that they had been unmistakable. It took a bit of back and forth to finally understand.

    Revenge? No, not exactly. He did not want me to seek out Team Galactic, but he did want me to take them down when the opportunity arose, like Chase for example had done during the crisis at Valley Windworks— breaking into the power plant and taking down a few grunts. There was precedent for events like this, like a trainer taking down Team Rocket's secret base at the Celadon Game Corner and then intervened during their takeover of the Silph Co. building years ago during his first year. A prodigy that had taken the region by storm, beating the Elite Four and Champion, then refused to take up the position himself. No one knew where he was now.

    I… I wasn't like that.

    Plus, Turtonator had used the term when, not if. I had told him about Mars' obsession with me, and my hopes that she had given up, but he seemed to put no stock into that. She didn't match up with the Commander that attacked Kamaile in the mountain, and neither did Charon, so it must have been someone I had never seen.

    "It's… not my job to take them down," I said. "I know Kamaile would have, but…"

    I couldn't.

    Turtonator disappointedly shook his head and turned away. It seemed that he wouldn't agree to let me use him until I promised him this. I could have said yes, but I knew damn well it would have been a lie, even if I hadn't wanted it to be. He was holding me to impossible standards.

    Now I truly knew what it was like to own a powerful dragon. It didn't matter how good of a trainer I was. If he saw me as a coward, then he'd never help me. I would need to meet his expectations, not the opposite.

    I could only hope that I'd change his mind eventually. If not, well, I was content to just hang out with him. He was annoying and grumpy, but in a sort of endearing way.

    "Well, thanks for listening anyway, Sunshine," I smiled, ignoring his cries of protest. "Come on, at least let me call you that!"

    He somehow stared me down while lying on the floor.

    "It'll grow on you…? Pretty please?"

    Turtonator shook his head and blew smoke into my face, sending me into a coughing fit, but Angel waved the smoke away with his huge hand and worriedly looked at me.

    "Not— cool! Ugh, fine. I'll just keep referring to you as that in my head, though. You can't stop me."

    I considered bringing the rest of the family out, but people were starting to notice and stare at me. I probably had the only Turtonator in Sinnoh right now, and people were beginning to associate him with me, which meant that I was easily recognizable. Kamaile might have been a better trainer than I was, but he'd unfortunately never had my reach.

    Or maybe that was how he'd wanted to live. I'd never be able to figure it out until Sunshine talked to me about him, which he still refused to do beyond the bare minimum. He still didn't even speak about his old teammates. Anyway, before Turtonator could get angry and injure someone, I recalled him and released Princess instead. People seemed to leave me alone when she was out, and she was excellent for protection, so I was knocking two birds with one stone here.

    I had some time to kill until the League revealed their announcement and my date with Cece, so I considered stopping by route 208 to train and speak to Angel for a bit. Unfortunately, fate seemed to favor something else. My phone rang, and Denzel called me over with a single message.

    Denzel W.

    Meet me on route 209. I bought a Dawn Stone for Snorunt, and I want you to be there when I evolve her.

    Oh, and I'm completely fucking broke, so I'll need you to pay for my ride back?




    "Hey guys," Denzel said, scratching the back of his head. Snorunt was jumping excitedly at his feet. "Thanks for coming on such short notice."

    "Prrrrri!" Togetic happily yelled.

    "She says that she doesn't mind," I translated. "Anyway, you're evolving her already? Even after the meeting yesterday, I thought that you'd wait for a while. Can I see the stone?"

    My best friend hesitantly stared around to see if anyone was there. We were at the edge of the route and hidden by the start of a small forest. Denzel pulled out the turquoise stone, and I gasped in awe at the glittering, iridescent gemstone. It shone with a warm glow, and its surface was smooth and flawless. Denzel slipped it under the sunlight, and a pale star-shaped light appeared to glow from within.

    "Arceus…"

    "I know, right? I had to spend everything I had on this. I have almost nothing left."

    "You did at least buy vitamins, right?"

    "I did before, but I won't have enough for TMs until next month now," he sighed.

    "How much was it?"

    "386,000 Pokedollars," he said.

    I whistled. Denzel had been sponsored by so many companies at this point that he had a lot more money than I did— well, until now. With his streaming on the side, he'd probably be able to recover pretty soon, though.

    "So little Snorunt's biting the bullet, then?" I asked.

    "Yeah. I'm nervous, but I think she's ready," Denzel replied, releasing his Sylveon. Togetic squealed, and the two fairies greeted each other excitedly. "Worst-case scenario, I recall her, but I needed you in case she somehow went off the rails and tried to run or something."

    "Ah, yeah, Honey could help out with that."

    I grabbed Electabuzz's Pokeball, releasing him, and I explained the situation. He seemed to be quite happy for Snorunt. The two had apparently formed some kind of camaraderie after their cooperation during the double battle against Cecilia and Chase. The electric type gave her a loud thumbs up, while Snorunt sniggered and ran up to him, her smile widening.

    "You've treated her well, I think it'll be fine," I said.

    "I hope so. She doesn't seem to care about anything I say, she's just excited to evolve," Denzel smiled, looking at the ice type. "Snorunt, c'mere. It's time."

    Snorunt yelled and dashed back toward Denzel a lot faster than I thought she could be, and he slowly lowered the stone until it touched her skin. The icy type grunted, and I shielded my eyes from the blinding light that overtook her. Togetic immediately created a few Ancient Power drills, just in case, and Electabuzz stood at attention. Sylveon stared at his teammate, seemingly unaffected by the blinding light, and was already ready to wrap his ribbons around her. I wasn't even sure that'd work, since she would become a ghost.

    The Dawn Stone disappeared, fizzling into thin air, and Snorunt turned into a Froslass. Her dress-like skin fluttered in the cold, winter wind, and her eyes had a slight yellow glow. She gently placed a hand over her mouth and observed us as the temperature started to drop a few degrees.

    "How do you feel?" Denzel asked. "Everything alright?"

    I was scared that she'd have a moment like Jellicent for a second, but she seemed… relatively fine. Her eyes were flickering wildly, and they were darting in between all of us, but Sylveon touched her with a ribbon and brought her back to reality.

    "The ribbons work on her?" I asked, my eyes widening in surprise.

    "I think that with Sylveon, has to do with how strong the emotional connection is," Denzel whispered, watching his new Pokemon with awe. Froslass stared down at Sylveon and let out a small giggle before disappearing, and Denzel panicked as he wildly turned around.

    Froslass reappeared behind him, whispering something in his ear, and he fell over. Now that she was closer to me, her body felt so cold. I took a few steps back and cupped my hands around my mouth to breathe out and warm them up. Ghosts lowered the temperature around them, but this was on another level.

    And it seemed that Denzel or Sylveon weren't affected by it whatsoever. It was just me and my Pokemon. Electabuzz's fur frosted over slightly, and Togetic's did as well. They were Pokemon, so they'd be fine, but if I stayed close to her for too long, I'd actually get injured.

    And it appeared that she was holding back. I smiled. It looked like Denzel had gotten a terrifying new battler.

    "Wanna try out her new strength?" I asked innocently. Really, I mostly wanted to figure out more about her before the Solaceon tournament in case I'd have to fight Denzel.

    "You mean battle? No thanks. You know how dangerous that'd be— I don't even know what she's capable of yet!"

    "I know that, you idiot! I just meant, like, trying out Blizzard or something."

    "That's the same thing! What if it's so strong it hits us," Denzel chided. "I'll do it later in a controlled manner."

    "You just don't want me to see it," I pouted.

    He chuckled. "Well, that's part of it."

    "I'll forgive you if you buy me something."

    "I literally just told you I was broke, dude."

    Denzel released the rest of his team and let them get accustomed to Froslass' new form. She giggled, and her laugh echoed through the woods as she danced, disappearing and appearing at will in front of her team. Sylveon happily watched, and excitedly tapped his feet on the floor. Even Roselia and Lopunny were happy for her, which was a change of pace from their usual jealousy feud.

    Denzel and I just hung out for a while, which felt nice, since he hadn't done that in a bit. We had both been busy, but he'd been especially so, which all his sponsored meetings, his not-so-secret meetings with Louis' group, and his content creation. Most of our talk was just friendly banter and catching up. He told me about some of his funny experiences on his stream and some not-so-fun experiences in the forums. Just like me, it seemed that he had a vocal minority of haters, but he didn't let it get him down.

    Anyway, it seemed like he'd given up on Caitlyn and let her down gently via text, since they never ended up meeting. Right now, we were better off not getting anyone new involved with us, at least until things calmed down. After a bit, I ended up walking off to have a one-on-one with Tangrowth, since now was as good of a time as any. Togetic stuck with her brother and happily clapped at Froslass' tricks— although from a distance— so she seemed to have warmed up to her rather quickly.

    Tangrowth smiled with his eyes as soon as I released him and hugged me with his vines.

    "Awww, hey Angel," I laughed. He was acting like he hadn't seen me in ages when it had barely been an hour. Tangrowth led me toward him, and I sunk into his body, embracing him. "We're hanging out with Denzel's team. See them over there?" I asked, nodding toward them.

    The grass type stared on curiously, placed me on his head, and I sat down on him. At this point, I was so used to him handling me like this that I didn't even care. I'd used his vines as a pillow multiple times, and they were surprisingly comfortable.

    Man, I was collecting these. Jellicent, and Tangrowth made good pillows, and Princess would, too when she evolved.

    If I ever figured out how to evolve Electabuzz, well, maybe.

    Turtonator and Larvitar were a bust, though. Their bodies were too tough.

    "I had a question for you," I told the grass type. A vine tightened around my ankle, signaling me to continue. "What do you want in life? I know you like to experience and touch new things, but is there anything you want beyond that?"

    His vines curiously wriggled, and he gave my words some thought. In fact, he thought for so long that I almost believed that he'd forgotten my question, but after five minutes, he placed me back down in front of him and answered with a series of blinks as he gently cupped my cheek with his hand.

    Love.

    I smiled. "Aren't you the cutest boy ever?"

    Sometimes, goals were small.

    And that was okay.



    The League's announcement was soon, and I wanted to watch. Apparently, it'd be a direct address to the people by Cynthia, and that didn't happen every day. I walked into the Pokemon Center, and Denzel dashed to his room after thanking me for his bus ride. He wanted to stream his reaction to the announcement because people apparently went crazy for that. I did remember a lot of battle reaction videos, and most of them got copyright struck down immediately or demonetized— especially the Conference ones. The League didn't joke around.

    Supposedly though, this one would be fine to stream. The League wanted as many people to see this announcement.

    "Grace Pastel!" A Nurse Joy called out. "We have a gift bag for you."

    "A gift bag?" I said, raising an eyebrow. "From who?"

    I wasn't about to get killed by a booby-trapped gift bag, that was for sure.

    "The Poketch Company. A certain Melody Summers came to drop it off? Don't worry, we made sure there were no sinister intentions at play."

    Well, if Nurse Joy said so…

    I thanked her and grabbed the gift bag before taking the elevator to my room as Princess lazily followed behind me. She wasn't used to being out of her ball so much, and she was getting tired. I'd probably swap her out with Electabuzz soon. I was supposed to watch the announcement with Cece, but I supposed that I could open this up first. I dropped the basket on my desk and grabbed the note.

    Dear Grace,

    The Poketch Company has heard of the traumatic experience that befell your girlfriend yesterday, and we decided to help cheer you up with these gifts. Feel free to share them with anyone you wish.

    The Poketch Company


    "Well, aren't they nice?" I mumbled as I searched through the bag. Promotion coupons for Poketch products, snacks, sweets— "Holy crap, a ten percent off coupon at Arlyles? Nice!"

    And it was valid forever too! A lifetime of ten percent off. The Poketch Company sure knew how to charm me. Since I remembered her telling me she liked pineapple during our stay in Eterna, I grabbed some weird pineapple candy I'd never even heard of before and made my way to Cece's room. She greeted me with a kiss and led me inside. Slowking was standing with his hands behind his back, and he greeted me with a slight nod.

    Maybe I'd have him use telepathy on me. It was a learned process, and I was already thinking about getting a psychic type as a seventh Pokemon after my eighth badge. It'd be good if I was already desensitized to the pain by then.

    "What's this?" She asked. "Wait, is that—"

    I smiled smugly as I lifted the candy bag. "Pineapple candy."

    "For me?!" She yelled, kissing my cheek. "Thank you! Where'd you even get these? They only sell this brand in Unova! I haven't had them in months, they're my favorite!"

    So that was why I'd never heard of these. The Poketch Company probably found out that Cecilia liked these somehow.

    It was getting a bit creepy, but at least they were doing this with good intentions.

    "Erm, the Poketch Company," I said. She was still hanging onto me in a really cute way, so I barely managed to get the words out. "You can have them all if you'd like. I'm not really a fan of pineapple."

    "Really? Well, don't mind if I do then."

    She grabbed the package, and Slowking levitated the remote and turned on the television.

    "Darling, taste some," she said, handing a piece to the psychic type.

    Slowking looked like he didn't want any, but he couldn't refuse anything Cecilia said, so he ate it anyway. He kept a blank look on his face, but Cecilia winced.

    "Just Satisfactory? You have no taste, Slowking. Grace, come sit."

    Poor guy. She hadn't told me anything when I said I didn't like pineapple. Girlfriend privileges, I guess. I shot him an apologetic look, and he bowed his head.

    I obliged her, lying down on the bed with a relaxed breath. Togetic on one side, and Cecilia on the other? This was heaven. Hopefully, the announcement would be what I thought it was, and Cynthia would finally start cleaning up the Directorate. Right now, the television was simply showing an empty podium where Cynthia was supposed to speak, and every news organization had sent their correspondents to the Lily of The Valley Island, who were sitting in multiple rows of chairs below the podium.

    The speech was a few minutes late, but it was finally about to begin. Cynthia confidently strode on the podium with that confident smile she was well-known for, and a hulking Garchomp covered in shallow scars followed closely behind her, along with her spotless Lucario. They each stood on one side of her, and she immediately started her speech.

    "Greetings, fellow Sinnohans. I will get straight to the point. After a month-long investigation into the Directorate, the League has found that the majority of the new opposition party is being funded by Team Galactic and the Bianchi Conglomerate— including the Prime Minister, Sophie Richards. The names of these culprits are Joey Rumsfeld, Paula Mccarthy, Erika Anri, Isaac Matthew…"

    Cynthia kept listing name after name. In a way, it was chilling. So many people involved in this scheme right under our noses… but then again, she'd been investigating for a month? So that meant that she'd suspected something all along, then.

    "Some of these people worked with Team Galactic willingly. Some were being blackmailed due to corruption. A full report about each individual crime committed by each member will be released shortly after this announcement. The culprits are being arrested as I speak, and new special elections will take place to replace them. As it stands, Sophie Richards cannot be Prime Minister, and an acting PM will be voted in by the Directorate in a few hours…"

    So it'd just be Vernon, then. Without the opposition, there was no way Cynthia wasn't going to get what she wanted. The Directorate was going to be under her control again soon.

    "When the new special elections are concluded, there will be another, final vote in the Directorate to select the Prime Minister. The League is content to share power with non-trainers, but we will not tolerate such a large security breach on our doorstep. Team Galactic is a violent, dangerous organization that has tried to infiltrate all aspects of our lives. Including the Bianchi Conglomerate, who we will be going after."

    Our eyes widened. That hadn't been expected so soon, either.

    "Harvey Bianchi has been placed under arrest and is being charged with conspiracy against Sinnoh's government and bribery. There were multiple people high up in the conglomerate's echelon that were in the know, and that also contributed to these crimes. They are Jenson Reid, Carmen Hughes…"

    Another list of names. So many people were going down.

    "As it stands, we don't believe that the Bianchi Conglomerate is capable of running itself any longer. Unfortunately, their products are vital to trainer interests in the region, so as soon as the new Prime Minister is selected, The League will push for a bill to nationalize the company and seize all of its assets."

    Holy fuck.



    The news had put all of society into an uproar, but people were finding it hard to push back against Cynthia. According to most experts, the investigations that they had revealed were thorough. Hundreds of phone message logs, voice logs, people caught on camera or on a secret microphone by League agents acting like Team Galactic members, and a few perpetrators who had confessed ahead of time to get a better deal with the League made the entire thing iron tight.

    Like I had thought, Vernon Harper was back in charge, and the nationalizing bill had passed by a wide margin. The Bianchi Conglomerate was falling apart. Trainer commodities would be produced and sold by the League now, so the prices would finally go back to normal. In fact, they'd be cheaper than they had been before. Another part of Cynthia's speech had mentioned that Clarence was placed under lockdown while they investigated him further. He was still a free man, but going back to Unova wasn't an option for him anymore.

    Abel had trapped him completely.

    Harvey's lawyers were already arguing that he should be allowed bail, but he was deemed a flight risk, so the League wasn't going to budge. We had all tried calling Louis, but he needed some time alone, it seemed. He'd wanted to talk to his father one last time, and it looked like he had expected some kind of final confrontation, which he apparently wouldn't get. He wasn't even speaking to Maeve or Mira.

    As for me? Well, I was happy enough. Just like what we had said, Harvey would no longer be a threat, and Clarence was being watched like a hawk. I could only hope that he'd made a mistake somewhere and that he'd fall too, then there'd really be nothing to worry about. Either way, it was the evening now, and Cece and I decided to finally go to that place with the piano she told me about. I had expected some kind of music-oriented establishment, but it was actually a small mall with a piano just sitting in one of the halls. Most stores were closed or closing at this point, and people were on their way out. According to Cecilia, it was a lot emptier than when she'd come here, so going at night did make sense.

    I hesitantly approached the instrument and observed the polished, ivory keys. It'd always been a silly dream of mine, but I couldn't help but think that playing the piano was the coolest thing ever. When I imagined the potential—

    Electabuzz slammed a hand on the keys and ruined the moment. I simply sighed, and he let out a bellowing laugh. We were using him and Slowking today. It wasn't like Cecilia had any choice in the matter anyway— Zweilous wasn't allowed to be out in most places in the city, and like Fletchinder, his ability to defend her would be limited. Scyther was just Scyther. That meant that I was going to see the water type a lot more, especially in cities.

    "Two rows? That's crazy…" I muttered. I touched one of the keys, and my finger tingled as a soft, mellow sound filled the hall.

    "That's certainly a lot to keep track of, but we can just use one row for now," she said.

    We both sat at the piano, and Cece started teaching me the basics of the basics. Unfortunately though, we were kicked out thirty minutes later because the mall was closing, so I didn't have many opportunities to learn. At the very least, I knew what keys made what sound… baby steps.

    The next day, Chase left for Solaceon. He'd wait for us there before leaving to Celestic, at the very least. My dad also left back to Jubilife that day. The Poketch Company ended up delaying my first online promotion on the forums to let the news about Cynthia's announcement die down. Right now, it'd just get lost in all the traffic.

    Finally, two days after Chase, it was time to leave for Solaceon. Louis's group would stay in Hearthome for another day.


    A/N: And the Hearthome arc is over! It was a lot longer than planned and by far the longest arc in the fic, but I think the pacing was fine and a lot of things happened all throughout. It's probably the most character development each character's gone through since the start of the story except Chase. The average size of my chapters also kept getting bigger, but I'm only human, so I'll try to stop that nasty habit before I spontaneously combust from writing too much. Anyway, I'll be taking my 1 day break like usual at the end of an arc. If you want to read the foreshadowing/setup for the mass arrest, reread Interlude - The League. I considered making next chapter Interlude - Forums IV, but I think it'd fit better right before the Solaceon tournament instead of now. Thanks for sticking with me like always, and I'll see you on Wednesday.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2023
  9. Silverbladestar

    Silverbladestar Not too sore, are you?

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    If I remember right, she still has a Rock Polish TM right? Now she has a pokemon who can use it.
     
  10. Threadmarks: Chapter 138
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 138

    I always felt like this after leaving a city, but it was good to be back on the road. This— the traveling aspect— was what being a trainer was all about, and I'd grown to truly appreciate the process, at least as long as I wasn't in a deadly forest or some eldritch mountain. Route 209 was nothing like that, and it was the safest one after the 214, 222 and 213 trio that linked Sunyshore, Pastoria and Veilstone. Those were a bit of an exception, though. Since so many new trainers passed through there, the rangers kept it as clear as possible. Larvitar and Togetic were walking with me, while the others all had one or a few of their Pokemon out.

    Justin walked with his Audino, who was carrying a flower he'd found a few miles back. Cecilia's Fletchinder screeched and flew high up in the sky while Slowking stuck by her side. Pauline was off in the distance, walking with her Gothorita and practicing her tolerance to telepathy. She seemed quite down at the fact that we had to leave Emilia behind, but there might have been something else to it. Either way, she was uncharacteristically quiet. Denzel, meanwhile, was being hogged by Sylveon.

    "I think we can stop here," he said, nudging his head forward.

    The large system of rivers and small ponds that route 209 was the most known for sat in front of us. Long bridges ran through each body of water, and trainers were fishing all along the streams. This was a common spot to get a water type. Larvitar ran up to the edge of the water, and I released Tangrowth to keep an eye on her. The entire team would have a strategic meeting later, and I still needed to have that one-on-one talk with Sweetheart, but she could play around for now.

    "Yeah, this is probably fine," I said, dropping my backpack and sitting down. "We made good progress today. Four more days, and we should be good?"

    Despite the enjoyment I got, I was mostly excited about getting to Solaceon and fighting in the tournament. There were many potential trainers and strategies to go up against, and I'd finally see what Craig's sister was all about. Louis' group would sign up too, apparently, but like Chase had said, he wouldn't stick around. As soon as we made it there, he'd leave for Celestic.

    Well, I also had to review the footage of my battle against Fantina, but I'd do it when we got there. With all the events that happened after the fight, I had completely forgotten about it somehow. I was sure I'd see a lot of improvements, though. Thinking back about the battle made it impossible for me not to smile. It was a testament to how good I'd gotten over the last few months.

    I stared up at Justin, who walked up to me. Audino followed behind him and winked at me, eliciting a chuckle.

    "Grace. I see you're deep in thought," he noticed.

    "Nah, I'm good. What's up?"

    "I was looking for advice."

    I rested my head on my palm and hummed. Justin and Pauline were going their separate ways now, battling-wise, so we weren't exactly their teachers any longer, but I was always willing to help a friend in need.

    "Sure, shoot!"

    "It's about confidence… or my lack of it, thereof. I'd like to try to be a little bit more sure about my capabilities come the tournament, but I'm not sure how."

    Togetic landed on my lap, and I pet her head as she nuzzled it against me.

    "Well, I don't really know. You've got three badges, Justin. That's no joke, you should be proud of yourself. You realize not many trainers reach this point, right? Plus, you won pretty handily."

    "Yes, but I feel like I'm still missing something…"

    "Something? You've figured out your style, right? Now you've just got to refine and perfect it, and eventually branch out in case you need to pull something else during a battle. That's what I've been trying to do… learning to improve and think of stuff on the spot, things like that," I explained.

    The boy sighed. "Well, that's fair, I suppose. I've been itching to try out new things, but I haven't really had the opportunity to. What I did against Fantina wasn't exactly stalling, but more like a proto version of it."

    "Pauline not up for a friendly fight?" I asked.

    "She's been down."

    "I noticed," I said, glancing at her. "You know what, I'll talk to her."

    I let Togetic out of my arms and shot up. Pauline tended to help her friends a lot, but I couldn't recall the last time she'd asked for it. She was keeping her distance from Denzel a little bit, which was odd too, but I was starting to get the impression that some relationship drama had gone on between them beyond the fact that Pauline and Emilia were dating, like Cece had theorized.

    Gothorita shot me a look that reminded me of Turtonator as I approached her trainer.

    "What's got you so down in the dumps, little one?" I playfully said.

    "I miss Emi… and some other stuff," she shrugged.

    "You weren't that down when we left her in Eterna," I said.

    "That's because— things were different. Can we just change the subject?"

    I considered pushing on, but it was probably best to let it go for now.

    "Why don't we talk about your team then? Any idea for a fourth member? Anything catch your eye so far? It'd be cool if you could catch something on this route. The earlier you can start training them, the more prepared they'll be for the Conference. And don't forget, if you don't have a fourth, you won't be able to participate in the—"

    "I know," she rolled her eyes. "I just wanted it to fit, but I think I'll try to catch something if I can't find anything that catches my eye."

    "Why don't you just do what Denzel does and look it up in advance? Well, not like you can now that we're out of Hearthome, but y'know."

    "I don't know how he does it," Pauline said, looking at our friend. "I find it horribly dull. I had to chew on Rufflet for weeks until it clicked for me, and at that rate, it'll be too late. Maybe if I only needed one more, but I need three."

    "Well, maybe he found it dull too, but he had years to do it," I said. "Why don't you ask him about it then?"

    "No way."

    "Are you guys fighting?"

    "No."

    "Okay, then why are you just glancing at him every few seconds, but not actually going to speak to him like you want to?"

    She clicked her tongue and then ruffled my hair with a frustrated groan.

    "What was that for?!"

    "For being annoying," she deadpanned. "Anyway, I'll catch something, so stop being such a worrywart."

    "Worrywart? Are you eighty or what?"

    "I'm going to kill you."

    "Yeah, yeah," I grumbled, fixing my hair.

    Well, since she didn't want my advice, it was time for the group meeting with my team, then! I asked Togetic to call Angel and Sweetheart over, and released the rest of my Pokemon, excluding Sunshine, because too many trainers frequented this part of the route, and he still despised them with all of his being. I'd release him when we got further in and toward the edges of the route.

    Larvitar pulled at my jeans and complained that she had to go out of the water.

    "You'll go back later, Sweetheart. I've never seen a rock type like water this much," I smiled, crouching to pet her rocky head. "Anyway, I think it's about time to get started on some new moves, don't you think? They'll come in handy for the tournament. Remember the one I talked about?"

    Grunts and nods came out of their respective Pokemon. I heard a faint screech and paused when I saw Fletchinder fly overhead.

    "Uh, they should be pretty easy for you to work on. Some of them, you've already been practicing. We only have a few days, so I picked ones that you'd be able to easily learn and possibly master. Let's start with you, Honey. You've got the hardest move, but I know you're up for it."

    Electabuzz shot me a thumbs-up and grinned.

    I had deliberated between two moves for Electabuzz: Cross Chop or Hammer Arm. They were fighting type, so they'd be excellent for coverage, and it'd improve his physical capabilities that had fallen behind his ranged ones recently. Honey was meant to be a mixed fighter for the team, so he needed to stay excellent at both ranged and close-range fighting.

    Hammer Arm was the more powerful of the two, which meant it was more difficult to learn. In fact, it was so powerful that your Pokemon would be slowed for a while after using it due to exerting too much energy. The more a Pokemon had used and mastered the move, the less the side effects would show. The sheer amount of power behind the move would have put anything any of my Pokemon currently had to shame. Unfortunately, we were lacking in time, and I wasn't sure if Honey would get the move to a usable state before the first battles started.

    Cross Chop, meanwhile, was slightly weaker, and easier to learn. The move could be devastating in its own right of course, and if Electabuzz or I could identify a Pokemon's weakness during a battle, then it would deal a lot more damage to our opponents. In the end, I had decided on Cross Chop.

    "You've been getting stronger, but you'll need to get stronger physically for this," I explained to him. Fighting type moves tended to demand a lot out of the user, which meant that a certain amount of bulk was needed.

    "Ele!" He responded, flexing his arms.

    "Obviously, you'll make it work," I laughed.

    He probably wouldn't be able to use it on a whim, even during the tournament, but it'd probably be a nice option to have. I also told him to keep working on Protect so that he could use the move more, and then I moved on to Sweetheart. She waved her arms around excitedly.

    "Sweetheart, you'll keep working on Sandstorm, alright? You're almost there, but you just need a little bit more control."

    The rock type stared at me disappointedly, and her arms slumped.

    "Aw, don't be sad. You've already got everything else you need."

    "Larvi…" she mumbled to agree. Despite this, she was angry with me.

    I'd get back to her soon.

    "Princess, I've got a TM for you to learn called Shadow Ball, just like what Buddy uses," I said. "You should have no problem learning the move, and he can help you master it. I don't think we'll be using it too much, but more coverage can't hurt."

    The fairy type nodded, smiling at Jellicent. It looked like she'd enjoy the time they'd spend together.

    "Angel, you're on the cusp of something great," I continued. "Sunny Day. Keep working on it, and I'm sure it'll be useable during the tournament."

    He wriggled and blinked twice, gently petting my head with a vine. He was already a monster in battle, but if we could double his speed with Chlorophyll, I was sure he'd be able to dominate even the five-badge trainers I'd be fighting at the tournament. I let out a trembling, excited breath. Just the thought of him destroying our opponents would be awesome.

    "Buddy, what I need with you is Whirlpool," I said. "Brine is great, but the way the tournament's set up… the ones that will dominate are the ones that can control the field, I think."

    The Solaceon tournament's format was doubles, meaning that each trainer would fight with two Pokemon at a time, and with a total of four Pokemon. I had a lot of synergies I would need to consider, but for now, I'd be content to just let them practice their moves. Jellicent nodded, and after describing what each move roughly looked like, and teaching Shadow Ball to Togetic, my Pokemon went to their respective spots to begin their training. I'd be there if they needed help, of course.

    "Sweetheart, wait up. I need to talk to you," I called out.

    She huffed at me and turned away, and I felt my chest tighten.

    Was this how it felt all the time, dad? Sorry.

    "What's gotten into you lately?

    I felt the sun brighten slightly and stared at Tangrowth. He was almost there.

    "Tar," the Pokemon grunted.

    "Don't brush me off. I've noticed something about you lately, but I never asked until now. I'm sorry, it's my fault. I should have paid more attention… but I'm here now. Do you have something you want to tell me?"

    The rock type launched into a tirade, causing me to wince. She wanted to get stronger faster. She wanted to be like Turtonator.

    Arceus, I was tearing up. This was like having my kid yell at me for the first time, and I was not ready.

    "You've been making good progress, though," I said, blinking rapidly to chase the tears away. "And I told you that I'd use you a lot in the tournament, didn't I? Plus, Sandstorm is a powerful move. Just because it doesn't hit the enemy directly doesn't mean that it doesn't make you stronger, you know? It hampers visibility, hearing, and it deals damage little by little. Meanwhile, you'll be like a fish in water. Doesn't that sound cool?"

    Larvitar wanted to retort, but she thought for a few seconds and relented.

    "See? Winning isn't always about hitting things. Why do you want to get stronger so quickly anyway? You're already growing at a fast pace as is—" I stopped, noticing her look away from me. "Don't even try to hide it! I know you."

    What she said next made my heart sink.

    Revenge. She wanted revenge on the Rhyperior that had killed her parent.

    First of all, that Pokemon was incredibly strong. It had to be, to take down a fully-grown Tyranitar, but that wasn't it. I just thought that it was a terrible idea in general. Nothing good would ever come of it. I hated revenge as a concept, and I felt like she would just be empty afterward if we somehow succeeded.

    But… Larvitar didn't belong to me. She was her own person.

    What would I have done if it was my dad that had gotten killed? I didn't think I'd try to murder the person that did it, but I certainly would have wanted them to suffer consequences, at the very least.

    I sighed.

    "Look, I think this is a bad idea, and I don't even think we'll be ready to do this by the end of the year," I explained.

    That Rhyperior had probably been elite level, from the little I had seen of it. It had to be, to beat a pseudolegendary without sustaining that many injuries like it had done. My Pokemon would maybe be ready to take it down, but I didn't think I would be.

    Larvitar protested, but I stopped her.

    "Let me finish. I don't think this is a good idea, and I don't even know if we'd be able to find it again," I continued. "But believe in me. I'll help you get stronger, and if you still feel this way by the time you're fully evolved, then we can talk about it again."

    I was really hoping that she'd change her mind.

    I heard Honey call out to me, and I stood up. He probably needed some help to get started with Cross Chop. I stopped when I felt Larvitar grab at my jeans.

    "Larvi… Larvitar," she said, avoiding my eyes and hiding her face.

    She was apologizing for yelling at me.

    "Don't worry about it, Sweetheart," I smiled. "You were just feeling emotional, that's all. I yell at my dad all the time— ah, sorry."

    The rock type stared up at me confusedly.

    "For the dad comparison thing," I said. "I don't want to replace your parent. I promised you that when I caught you, didn't I?"

    Larvitar mumbled something, and she had to repeat herself twice for me to hear her.

    "You… don't mind?"

    She huffed and ran away in embarrassment.

    She…

    She didn't mind.

    Wow.

    I felt so happy.



    After helping Electabuzz with his form and checking in on the others, I happily skipped toward Denzel, who was working on something with his Lopunny while the other members of his team were training on their own, although they were kind of slacking off to hang out with Feebas. With all the water around, he'd be able to spend a lot more time with his teammates. The normal type happily waved at me, showcasing how much she'd changed since she'd been that shy Buneary that he'd caught in Eterna Forest. The scar on her ear from those Paras was still visible, albeit smaller thanks to her evolved form being a lot bigger.

    "Woah, you look happy," he noticed.

    "Yep. Larvitar just called me mom."

    His expression morphed into one of confusion. "I just won't even ask. I thought that was just between you and Togetic?"

    "No, I'm everyone's mom," I deadpanned. "I wanted to ask you to show me your Froslass' Blizzard? I know you tested it out without telling me before we left."

    "How do you even know that?"

    I grinned. "I didn't. But now I do."

    "Ugh. I specifically wanted to hide it from you, though."

    "I paid for your ride back when you had no money. You owe me."

    "You wouldn't have left me stranded!"

    I peered at him, my smile widening.

    "Damn, you are ruthless. Fine. Froslass, come on over! Lopunny, you keep on working on the thing."

    "Ouch," I said, feigning emotional pain. "Still keeping your secrets?"

    "Well, so are you," he said.

    The ghost type appeared beside us, and I jumped. I still felt cold, but it looked like she had gotten her temperature problem under control. Denzel, meanwhile, felt no change at all. I was still wondering how that even worked, but I was no professor, so I'd probably never figure it out. I called Togetic over just in case, and Denzel led us to the edge of the route. Froslass was so excited about using Blizzard that she was quite literally leaking cold. She'd probably be able to do what Turtonator did in battle, only with cold instead of heat.

    "Go make sure no one's here before you accidentally kill a kid," Denzel sighed. Froslass cheered as she disappeared into the unmaintained woods. "She's been so hyper since evolving, it's like she's not even a ghost."

    "Don't overgeneralize them now," I chided. "She was already like this before, it's not like her whole personality was going to change."

    "I'll still have to watch out during the tourney, I don't want any accidents," he said. "I don't know how it works, but whenever I have her out with strangers, she's freezing. With friends, she just emits cold, and with me or my Pokemon, we feel completely fine."

    "I was just wondering about that!" I exclaimed.

    "I wanted to record a video of her at Amity Square before we left, but I had to recall her because people way away from us were starting to feel pain from the cold. The tournament will have barriers like the gyms, so at least she'll be useable there."

    I nodded. "Well, I'm sure you'll figure something out."

    "Toge," Princess agreed.

    After five minutes, Froslass came back and confirmed that the area was clear. Her eyes shone with a pale blue as she started to use Blizzard.

    Before, it would have taken almost a minute for her to charge it up. Now? It barely took ten seconds.

    The whole area in front of us was covered in frost and ice like we were back on route 216.


    A/N: Cross Chop is slightly nerfed and Hammer Arm is slightly buffed here. If I had to go with damage terms, imagine them dealing 90 and 110 damage respectively instead of 100 each.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2023
  11. SailorOfMyVessel

    SailorOfMyVessel Writer of plot, with some Plot for pleasure.

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    > I still felt cold, but it looked like she had gotten her temperature problem out of control.

    'out of control' should probably be 'under control'.

    Frosslass is looking like a power player. She'll be a challenge to take down.

    Sweetheart was heartwarming, and I'm mostly hoping her personality doesn't change too much once she evolves her way upward to a true monster.

    Beyond that, romance trouble ahoy? Denzel for the unplanned and unintended harem play? Or would it be Pauline's harem... Hmmm, worth a thought.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2023
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  12. Silverbladestar

    Silverbladestar Not too sore, are you?

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    Just caught up to the latest chapter, I'm greatly enjoying this story.
     
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  13. Threadmarks: Interlude - In The Eyes Of The Beholder
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    INTERLUDE - IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER

    A certain fish Pokemon was swimming in the river.

    Feebas slowly broke through the water's surface, watching as his trainer, his friend, and Froslass came back from whatever it had been they were doing. He was not allowed to swim too far or too deep. Unlike Amity Square, Pokemon in these waters were too powerful for him to run away from, and there was no one available to protect him. Lopunny cheered at Grace, and even Roselia waved one of her flowers with a look of annoyance.

    Feebas did not know this girl. Nothing beyond her name, her voice, and what Denzel occasionally said about her. Nor did he know any of the other friends his trainer was traveling with. The fish felt his fins tighten. How frustrating, to have missed so many events due to his curse of being water-bound. He could technically stay out of the water, but the longer he stayed, the more pain he would feel. Feebas were resistant, but they were meant to live in the water their entire lives. They were no Jellicent or Lombre. Feebas longed to be free from his chains, but he had long resigned himself to staying in this pitiful, ugly form forever. Denzel hurriedly told his Froslass to stick with the team, while Sylveon went and followed him with a bright smile. Feebas longingly stared at the Pokemon he loved, who was leaving without even a look at him. Now that he was gone, the group went to hell.

    What's with the look on your face, Twig? Lopunny smugly asked. You seem to be in an even worse mood than usual today.

    Silence, Wench,
    the grass type snapped back. You are not worth even a modicum of my attention when you are like this. You are nothing more than fertilizer— no, in fact, you are worth even less.

    I know your problem,
    Froslass' otherwordly voice wrung and twisted across the river, yet her mouth did not move. You are jealous. You wanted a stone for yourself. Have fun being stuck in your pitiful form for longer yet, Twig.

    Feebas sighed as he listened to his fellow Pokemon berate each other. They all had nicknames that they referred to themselves as. Roselia was called Twig, which was supposedly a name Lopunny had come up with in Eterna city meant to make fun of her fragile form.

    Feebas had missed almost everything in Eterna.

    Roselia and Froslass called Lopunny Wench, not due to any promiscuous tendencies she might have had, but because the grass type had gotten jealous of the attention she had gotten from Sylveon when she had just joined the team. Meanwhile, Froslass was referred to as—

    I will not tolerate your childish antics, Hog. Maybe when you are doused by my Toxic and it melts you alive, you will understand not to mess with me, Roselia said.

    Hog, shortened for attention hog.

    Wench, Twig, and Hog. Feebas sighed again. They were the only team that behaved like this. No one else fought day and night like these three did, and yet he could not help but want to be a part of it. And yet, how could he? He was never there for anything. Almost forgotten. An echo of what could have been, if he had been born in another body. Sometimes, he almost wished Denzel had not caught him back in Jubilife. That way, he could have continued living in ignorance, not knowing what he would be missing. Seeing it play out in front of him— bonds so strong that not even insults could break them— was akin to torture. The three had been through a whole lot without him, but Roselia and Lopunny especially. They were practically inseparable, even though they bickered and fought constantly.

    Hog still? I thought that you would have moved on to another nickname more fitting of my newfound elegance. Ice Queen, perhaps, Froslass giggled, her form flickering and her eyes brightening. The grass at her feet began to freeze, and so did the water around Feebas The water type looked around in a panicked state, and stammered out a few words.

    Roselia talked before he could. He had been too indecisive.

    Focus, Hog, Roselia spat, sending a Sweet Scent her way. You are losing control again. I will not be held responsible if you trap Feebas underwater.

    The ice type's eyes dimmed, and she looked apologetically at him. My apologies, Feebas. I still have much to work on, it seems. I must have still been excited about that Blizzard earlier.

    Look at her,
    Lopunny crossed her arms. One Blizzard, and she gets so high off her own supply that she can't stop herself from hurting others. How are you? She said, turning toward the water type.

    Truly pitiful, Hog. Worse than a newly sprouted Budew, Roselia smiled, shaking her head. Are you alright, Feebas?

    I—I'm okay. Do not mind me, I must be annoying,
    he muttered.

    Are you sure? Don't hesitate to vent your frustration about this animal, Lopunny said, slapping Froslass. Her hand passed through the ghost, and Froslass let out an obnoxious, mocking laugh. If there was one thing I hoped your evolution would bring, it was to end that stupid laugh.

    Back in my neck of the woods, she would have been thrown and sacrificed to the first Beautifly that reared its ugly head,
    Roselia reminisced.

    We have different definitions of ugly, Twig, Lopunny chided. Beautifly are quite literally named by humans after beauty.

    Different definitions of ugly? Feebas could only restrain a dry laugh. Only Pokemon that were already pretty could afford to say that nonsense.

    They aren't so beautiful when they stab you with their proboscis and suck you dry, Roselia said. Only an empty shell remains afterward.

    I was already thrown out of my clan once, and I lived,
    Froslass said. I would have simply frozen its wings and eaten it for dinner.

    Don't make me laugh, Hog! You haven't seen how terrifying Beautifly can be. Let me tell you a story from before Denzel so rudely kidnapped me…


    Feebas did not like to talk. In fact, he did not talk much at all, outside of the little moments of peace he had with Sylveon.

    Well, in truth, when he did talk, he enjoyed it, but he could not help but feel like he was intruding. Who was he, to tell them what to do? To join in on the banter? To converse? They barely knew him as it was! The others just threw him a bone once in a while and then returned to their tight-knit friendship, and he bet that even Sylveon was just pretending to care. Denzel too. He was a burden, nothing else. Feebas tightly shut his mouth and sank deeper into the water, ignoring the voices from his team. He did not want to hear it. If only he could thrive on land like this others! If only he was not stuck in this disgusting, ugly form!

    He didn't want to hear more of what he had missed out on any longer. They would all be better off without him holding them back.

    Down here, he was at home, and yet, water type Pokemon swam all around him, most opting to ignore him. Why? Even here, where he was supposed to be at his best, no one paid him any attention! The fish locked onto a Goldeen and sped up, ramming into it at full force with Tackle. The water type shook him off, batting him away with its tail fin, and prepared for battle.

    There was no conversation. Pokemon seldom spoke in the wild outside of their respective groups.

    Goldeen spat out a ring of water that hit Feebas' face and sent him reeling backward, and before he even had the chance to recover, the horn on its head shone and elongated, then the water type run him through, shaking its head to tear across his entire flank. Feebas cried out in pain, and when he saw chunks of his flesh floating upward and his blood soaking the water, he began to feel fear.

    Had he truly been this weak and useless all along, then? What was even the point? Goldeen noticed that he had stopped fighting back and left, seemingly satisfied with its carnage. It wasn't like Feebas could even fault it. He had attacked first and out of nowhere, and Feebas were too disgusting for her to even eat.

    Disgusting. That was all he was. Feebas slowly sunk into the water as he became light-headed, and every water type avoided him like the plague. The pain was numbing, and he was tired. If he could go like this— simply drifting off to sleep, then maybe it wouldn't be that bad.

    But he did not. His eyes snapped open when he heard the muffled voices of his team and his trainer, calling out from above the lake's surface. Today was a particularly clear day, so he could even see the other humans' silhouettes, blurry as they were, and he could also see Sylveon's white and pink fur. Denzel's hand, wading through the freezing water and splashing around to call out to him without a care in the world of what danger that entailed. What if he angered a wild Pokemon and lost his hand?!

    He'd been foolish. The negative thoughts had consumed him and twisted his judgment. Of course, they cared about him.

    Feebas mustered all of his strength and swam up, putting everything he had into moving his fins. He ended up being so fast that he jumped out of the water, landing in Denzel's arms and soaking him in freezing water and blood.

    "Holy fuck… holy— potions, I need potions!" He yelled.

    Those were the last words Feebas heard before he fainted.



    The next time the water type awoke, he was still in his trainer's arms in the middle of the night. His entire team stood around him as he slowly blinked to regain his senses. His skin felt horribly dry, like he was being prickled with a thousand needles all over, and he was struggling to breathe with the inside of his mouth not coated in water. Still, it appeared that his wounds were healed. There was only a dull pain where he had been torn up, and he would probably struggle to swim for a few days, but he was alive. Denzel was dozing off, but one kick from Roselia caused him to jump awake.

    Don't hit him! Lopunny exclaimed.

    Wake up, you useless seedling! She yelled, kicking him again. Feebas is awake!

    "Shit," he said, wiping his mouth. "Feebas, are you alright?"

    The fish simply blinked, and Denzel smiled, placing him back into the water.

    "I don't know what attacked you down there, but I'm glad you're alright. Why did you go deeper into the lake? I… something must have been bothering you, no?"

    I'm fine, Feebas simply answered, glancing toward Sylveon. The fairy type just silently observed him. I wanted to swim, but I just went a little too far, that's all.

    His trainer did not understand his words, but he did understand the tone. That things were fine. Feebas' fins relaxed, and he drifted across the water's surface. He had thankfully managed to fool him. The water type wasn't in the mood for questions, at the moment. Denzel told Feebas that he'd let him out of the ball for another hour or two before recalling him, and he drifted off the sleep again. He was tired, lately. All that work that he'd apparently done in Hearthome was catching up to him, or at least that's what he had told them.

    Do you wish to speak to someone? Froslass asked worriedly. If we tell Denzel, he will eventually figure out that sorrow is what you feel.

    Oh please, Hog,
    Roselia scoffed. The only thing that good-for-nothing human understands is foolish optimism.

    But you love him anyways, twig,
    Lopunny shrugged. Don't deny it.

    Me? Love him? Don't make me laugh, Wench. I only feel disdain for this man.


    Froslass giggled. You are infatuated with Sylveon instead, we know that—

    The entire team froze when Sylveon spoke up for the first time.

    Lopunny, Roselia, Froslass, he said. Leave us.

    The trio hesitated but listened. Denzel was their trainer, but Sylveon was also a leader of some sort, although he didn't act like one most of the time. The three Pokemon left Sylveon alone with Feebas, and the water type fidgeted nervously. He usually felt nothing but happiness when he got a moment alone with Sylveon, but all he felt now was crippling anxiety. The pain was making him unable to swim straight, and the tissue hadn't healed completely yet. He was nothing but an eyesore.

    Feebas, Sylveon said. His high-pitched voice reverberated across the river. Why did you venture recklessly into the deeper waters and endanger yourself? It seems something troubles your heart.

    Feebas felt a ribbon touch his forehead, and a relaxing sensation spread to him immediately.

    I'm not needed here, Sylveon. Nothing of value would be lost if I was gone.

    Foolishness. Do not utter these words again, lest you stir my ire. Every creature, even wyrms, hold something of worth. These thoughts did not arise in a single day. You have been feeling like this for months, have you not?
    Sylveon asked.

    How can you say I hold something of worth? What have I done since being caught? I've been here longer than Lopunny and Froslass, yet it feels like I'm the newest member of the team! And it'll continue when Denzel catches his sixth. They will integrate flawlessly and speak to everyone like they've known each other years, and I'll be swimming alone.

    Ah, I see. It is solitude that plagues you. A most vexing dilemma. I will answer your query, then. Denzel would grieve deeply if you were to die or leave, Feebas. I witnessed the tears he shed while you lay unconscious in his arms, hovering at death's door. Had it been any other that had caused him such feelings, I would have
    bludgeoned them to death until they were nigh unrecognizable. Of course, death would be too easy of a fate. I would keep them until they begged to die. You are a vital member of this team, however, and I will not hold you responsible.

    Feebas felt viscerally uncomfortable when Sylveon uttered the threat, and he shivered in fear. The ribbons soon relaxed, and he returned to his normal state, however.

    I'm sorry for being so useless, he sighed.

    Still, Sylveon was right. Denzel still treated him well, and he released him whenever he could. It wasn't anyone's fault that his body was this way. He'd just been unlucky.

    I was not done. Know this, dear Feebas, the rest of the team holds you in high esteem, even if you do not believe it. They speak very fondly of you when you are absent, and they have multiple times wished you were able to be there with them when you could not be.

    They act differently with me than they do with each other. I feel like an outcast!

    Your concerns hold merit, but consider this from their perspective. They know that you are unable to come out of your Pokeball frequently, so would it not be bothersome to spend those precious moments in squabbles and discord? Would it not be far preferable to spend this time enjoying yourself with them? With me?


    Feebas felt his heartbeat speed up, and his tail-fin quivered.

    I suppose you're right, he sighed. Still, I… wish it was different.

    So do I,
    Sylveon sighed. I will tell you the truth, however. I enjoy spending time with you the most. I must not say so, or Roselia and Lopunny will start being callous, and you know how much that bothers me. I… I now try to stop these arguments, if I can.

    Feebas' lips curled into a giddy smile. I'm happy that you feel that way about me.

    When you've recovered, will you grace me with your beautiful aquatic shows again? The ones you performed for me in Amity Square were quite delightful, and I would enjoy watching the new ones you could come up with.

    I don't know… I don't feel like it'd be worth it. I'm ugly, Sylveon. No matter how much I try to deny it, it will always be true. My scales are rough and dirty no matter how many times Denzel cleans them. My fins are ragged, I have this constant blank stare, and my voice is unpleasant. What is there to enjoy about that?

    You must stop berating yourself, Feebas. If I tell you that you are beautiful, I am not lying. Any fairy worth their title does not lie. They may obscure the truth in other ways, but the words I speak are true. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, does it not? When Denzel calls you beautiful, he means it. When Lopunny calls your stare cute, she means it. When Roselia calls you charming, she means it. When Froslass calls you pretty, she means it!

    I don't want pity—

    Know this, you fool! I have too much esteem for you to offer empty words of flattery. No, my feelings run far deeper than that, Feebas. It is love that I feel, I am sure of it.


    Feebas scoffed. Love? When you have all those other beautiful Pokemon chasing after you day and night? We— we don't even spend that much time together—

    And yet, I cannot lie. I do not have the heart to reject Lopunny and Roselia, but I feel simply camaraderie with them. With you, it is different.

    I'll never believe you!
    Feebas yelled.

    What was he doing? He was ruining the moment, yet the words kept coming out. He berated Sylveon, and unlike Roselia, Lopunny and Froslass, it wasn't simple banter this time. He poured his heart out, calling him a fake for a hypocrite for leading the others on, and yet complaining about them chasing after him. For being a coward content with the status quo as long as it didn't disturb the peace and Denzel could keep being carefree about everything.

    Feebas almost yelled in surprise when he felt Sylveon lift him out of the water. His ribbons were surprisingly strong, despite how frail and thin they looked. He brought Feebas closer and placed the water type's forehead against his.

    Feebas. Some of what you said might have been true, but heed my words.

    The fairy type paused, and Feebas stared into his huge, blue eyes.

    You are beautiful.

    Sylveon's feelings poured into him through his ribbons in a way that made Feebas understand that the words simply were true. The water type teared up, feeling validated for the first time in his life. Sylveon's words had unlocked the thoughts that he had hidden deep into the recesses of his mind, and that he would never have managed to free without the fairy type's help.

    He was beautiful, damn it, and anyone who thought otherwise was wrong, including himself!

    A wave of energy washed over the water type, and he felt an uncomfortable itch as his body elongated until he reached twenty-five feet in length, completely overtaking Sylveon's size. He slowly opened his eyes as his body loosely wrapped around the fairy, and he peered at the Pokemon from above. All of the pain he'd felt from being out of the water had evaporated, and he felt more at home here than he had ever felt. Milotic turned his head to Denzel, who was somehow still sleeping a few dozen feet away in that giant tent that the humans owned.

    How…? Milotic muttered, and jumped, surprised by the sound of his own voice. It was smooth, like the flow of a gentle creek. What happened?

    His scales had gone from rough and uneven to being so beautiful that they were barely distinguishable from skin. A stunning blue and red motif adorned his tail, splitting it into a fanned pattern.

    The answer is simple, Milotic, Sylveon tilted his head, observing the water type's new form. It appears that the condition for your evolution was feeling beautiful.

    I had no idea!
    Milotic excitedly said. Arceus, I'm so happy!

    He tried to crawl on the ground, but he felt strangely slow, and it was difficult to move around. His new body was fundamentally different than his own one, and it would take a few days to even be able to slither properly against the floor.

    What happened here? Lopunny asked. We saw you evolve from afar, and wow, you look beautiful… I'm going to miss your cute little fish form, though.

    There was a certain charm to it, but Milotic is clearly happy about it, so let us not bring it back as a topic,
    Roselia said.

    Wonderful suggestion, Twig, Froslass said, appearing before their very eyes. Two evolutions in such a short amount of time? Denzel will be ecstatic. Should I scare him to wake him up?

    Let him sleep,
    Sylveon said. He deserves to rest.

    M—may I suggest something?
    Milotic asked.

    Why even ask? Roselia asked. You must become more confident, Milotic. You're too damned big to be such a Wimpod.

    Twig's just angry that she's the smallest one of us by far,
    Lopunny laughed, flicking an ear back. The grass type kicked her in the leg, to no effect. Sylveon sighed and lay down in the grass, ready to observe another round of bickering.

    I despise you, Wench. Ask away, Milotic.

    May I have a nickname?

    You… want one?
    Lopunny asked.

    Froslass giggled. How amusing!

    I want to bond with everyone… to be closer, and I think a nickname would help.


    The ice type sprung up. I would like to nominate 'Queen'. If I cannot have it, then he must.

    Milotic is a male, you daft Hog!
    Roselia yelled. Your corpse will make some nice Pidgeot feed after I'm done with you.

    It matters not. You should open up your mind to new things, Twig.
    Froslass said. And I am a ghost, no longer capable of death, so your point is void. Still, I can tell Milotic would not have liked it from the look on his face.

    Sorry… maybe something slightly more derogatory? Like the rest of you,
    he specified.

    What about Serpent? Lopunny asked.

    You are too simple-minded. As expected of you, Roselia smugly said. Serpent is too elegant. Snake will do the trick.

    Milotic's eyes shone. Snake… I like it.

    You're not supposed to like it!
    Froslass giggled. However, Hog did grow on me.

    I must admit, Twig certainly could be worse,
    Roselia nodded.

    Wench is the worse of the four… Lopunny sighed.

    Deal with it, Wench, the grass type laughed. Now come with me, Snake. I will teach you all about the art of keeping these two in line. I have been waiting for someone to finally help me stimmy their egos. Hog has been growing an especially big head lately.

    I froze an entire forest a few hours ago.

    Lies, you did not freeze an entire forest, you froze the smallest, tiniest subsection of the forest,
    Lopunny countered. I could do better than that. One Fire Punch, and it all burns down. You should work on your skills, Hog.

    Milotic grinned as he awkwardly slithered toward Roselia. Sylveon waved them all goodbye with his ribbons.



    Sylveon's smile slowly faded as he watched his four teammates fade into the distance. The fairy type stood up and sneaked into the large tent, opening it up and closing it again with his teeth before curling up next to his trainer. The fae did not lie. What he had said was the truth. He did love Milotic, and everything he had told him came from the heart.

    But the fae did obscure and bend the truth.

    He loved Milotic, but he would unfortunately always come second.

    Sylveon nuzzled against Denzel's chest and slowly drifted off to sleep. He hoped the evolution he had specifically engineered would make him happy when he woke up in a few hours. Denzel had told him about the method when he'd still been an Eevee back in Twinleaf.

    To Sylveon, manipulation was alright if everyone came out happier on the other side. He wasn't breaking his promise, after all. He'd stopped being so violent during training despite the urges, and he was no longer encouraging the others to fight.

    All in all, it had been a wonderful day.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2023
  14. SailorOfMyVessel

    SailorOfMyVessel Writer of plot, with some Plot for pleasure.

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    Assuming Milotic is strong enough for the tournament, Grace might well end up having a truly rough time with it. Considering that's now also her coming out party with the Poketech(?) company... Oof.

    Awesome for Denzel though. All cards are very much coming up in his favor, after all!
     
  15. Silverbladestar

    Silverbladestar Not too sore, are you?

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    Except for Sylveon still being a bit of a creepy fey still. Learning to be creepy better maybe.
     
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  16. TricMagic

    TricMagic Avid Avian Acolyte

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    It's Sylveon's Harem after all. Denzal is included. I'm expecting some crazy trick at some point with that one.
     
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  17. Threadmarks: Chapter 139
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 139

    Denzel's jubilant screams woke all of us up— in the middle of the night, if I may add. I groggily rubbed my eyes and cut my breath short when I saw a humongous Milotic looming over him. I didn't know what happened, but Feebas had seemingly evolved while we were all sleeping. Since I had never been too interested, I didn't exactly know the condition needed for his evolution, but I did know it had to do with beauty or something of that sort. Denzel laughed, staring at his newly evolved Pokemon with a childlike grin. We all congratulated him, but we were honestly too tired to offer anything else. It did seem to me that Milotic was moving slowly and didn't know how to properly use his new body, and since the tournament was soon, he wouldn't be able to accommodate to his new form fast enough to move as adeptly as the usual Milotic.

    Not that I knew what the usual Milotic moved like. Just like Gyarados, they were incredibly rare due to the amount of work their evolutions took to achieve, and the only one I had seen fight was Cynthia's during the hostage crisis at Valley Windworks. As I entered my sleeping bag once again, the little I did remember was that it was a relatively defensive Pokemon, and it had mostly used Protect to keep Cynthia safe.

    Was that a sign of what their species was best at, or was I looking too into it? I was already thinking about what I'd do if I had to face him… but then again, Milotic would be new to this, and he still didn't know any moves except Tackle, unless it learned some from evolving.

    All I could do right now was drift off to sleep once again.



    I whistled, finally taking in Milotic's beauty. The water type's scales shimmered in the morning sun, and they were spotless, even after trudging through the grass and dirt. It was like nothing could stick to them. Milotic loosely wrapped around Denzel with a happy look on his face, and the boy smiled.

    "Apparently, something happened last night… some type of drama," my best friend said. "I wish I was as good as you at understanding Pokemon so I could get the full context. I'm pretty good with Sylveon, but the others are still kind of muddy. It's honestly freaky how you do that."

    We had packed up our camp, and we were close to leaving again. We were going to cut it close for registering for the tournament as it was, so we couldn't afford to stay here for too long. We still had to stop by the Lost Tower to find Cecilia's Golett too.

    "Don't make it sound like I'm some kind of monster," I said. "I can only do it with mine, not everyone else's. Anyway, any new moves you want to teach him? You have a few days, so there isn't much you can do."

    "I'm pretty sure you understand my Pokemon as well as I do, which is insane considering you interact with them way less. You could probably win, like, an award for it or something. And stop trying to pry, I'll figure something out," he said before turning to Milotic. "I know you want to stay out, but you're not made for long-distance travel on the ground. I'll release you as soon as we stop again, alright?"

    Milotic quietly nodded and disappeared in a flash of red. Soon enough, we were back on the road. I released Larvitar and Togetic, who followed closely behind. Sweetheart picked up a rock and started munching on it.

    "Don't eat too much, or you won't eat lunch later," I warned her. She ignored me and kept snacking. "Whatever you say… just don't tell me you're not hungry. You need to eat your vitamins."

    "Toge…"

    "I already told you that you aren't getting any," I lied.

    How long would I have to keep up this charade? It had been too long now, it'd be too awkward to reveal the truth. Then again, sneaking it into her food was annoying.

    We walked through numerous bridges, large and small. This route was remarkably peaceful, and aside from the occasional trainers or our conversations, there was only the sound of flowing water. It was honestly the favorite route I'd traveled through so far. As weird as it sounded, I wanted to cherish these moments because as soon as Princess evolved, I wouldn't be traveling through the routes anymore aside from the occasional landing to let her rest.

    Hmm… in retrospect, I'd possibly do it anyway to accompany Justin and Pauline. But maybe it'd be smarter to just fly to Canalave to get my eighth as fast as possible to have time to train for the Conference.

    Oh well, I'd cross that bridge when I got there. But the distance between me and the bridge seemed so small compared to just a few months ago. We were all progressing at ridiculous paces.

    I turned my attention back to my two friends. Pauline and Justin were speaking together about something, possibly cooperating with strategies for the tournament. The former still had to catch her fourth Pokemon if she wanted to participate, and she was starting to feel the pressure mount. Not only would it not be trained properly, but it'd probably be weaker than everything else on her team.

    "...Figured out it's what I want to catch on this route," I heard her say when I focused on the conversation. "Help me find it."

    "What? How?" Justin frowned. "Unless Growlithe's smelled it before, it's a lost cause. You should ask Cecilia's Fletchinder for help—"

    "Hey guys!" I interjected, jumping in between them. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation. Which Pokemon are you talking about? Spill."

    "You could probably guess," Justin said with an unusual smugness.

    "What's that mean?!" Pauline yelled.

    "It means that you're obvious."

    I hummed, tapping my chin with a finger. "Whismur?"

    "You made that joke weeks ago and it's still ridiculously unfunny," Pauline complained.

    "I said Exploud last time, so it's different. And yes, it was funny! How about Mankey, then?"

    The redhead turned toward me with a blank stare.

    "No way… I got it?"

    "Justin must have told you something!" Pauline screamed.

    "How can you blame me for this when you just told me yourself?" he said. "Just ask Cecilia—"

    "I was getting there before Grace interrupted me. They don't exactly live on the route. There are rumors about it living in the woods off-route after we get through these Arceus damned rivers."

    "Rumors? How the hell did you hear about those if you just decided to catch one?" I asked.

    "Don't act like I just spontaneously came to a decision! I've been looking this entire time, your annoying pep talk just made me take the plunge."

    "What made you decide?" Justin asked.

    "They're vicious, angry little guys that keep fighting no matter what," she shrugged. "What's there not to like?"

    "For someone that picky, your standards are pretty tame," I said.

    "Going off-route is dangerous, but maybe we can send a few of our Pokemon to look for the Mankey," Justin said.

    "I won't pussy out. I'm going to find it no matter what."

    Justin quite literally recoiled. "Language!"

    "Don't care. Cry about it."

    "Just tell the others about it first," I warned.

    "Obviously, I'm not crazy."

    "One could argue otherwise," Justin said.

    Pauline pushed him away and launched into another tirade. Well, I'd let them bicker. I also had a lot to think about.

    Just like before our double battle, we were all starting to train in secret again, and it kind of irritated me. Not having any knowledge was when I was at my weakest, and everyone knew it. What they didn't know was that I was actively trying to get better at countering that, which I had done rather well against Fantina. The battle against her had still taken a long time to go off the rails, though, and a large part of it was still planned. With the Solaceon tournament, I had challenged myself to go in blind from the start.

    Togetic picked up a few rocks from the floor with Extrasensory and started to juggle them.

    "We should work on new shapes for that," I mumbled. "How about a spear?"

    She tilted her head at me confusedly.

    "A really long, sharp stick. Better at stabbing things deep, better at taking down large enemies with softer hides, and probably better at pinning things down," I said as images of potential applications flashed through my mind with unusual brutality. My eye twitched. "Might be overkill though, I don't think we'll use it that often, and you'll have to be careful with it when you do."

    Her eyes shone in excitement, and she immediately started to work on the shape. The rocks combined with each other and elongated before my very eyes, turning into a spear.

    She had already gotten it down perfectly, although the molding was too slow to use in battle yet. Her drills were instant, and Princess would need to get just as good with her spear. In the future, we could talk multiple spears too, but right now, it was too big and complicated for her to create that many. Creating shapes required finesse. Larvitar wiggled her arms and asked her sister for the spear-shaped rock, and the fairy type levitated it downward. Sweetheart grabbed onto it and started munching on it too.

    Cute.

    But it was time to return to more pressing matters. I could always gush over my daughters later. The tournament was fast approaching, and this was no time to procrastinate. What I had learned from the double battle with Chase and Cecilia other than the fact that I needed to get better at improvising was that synergies were a lot more important than what I gave them credit for. I knew they mattered, but I had believed that strategy and individual Pokemon could overcome them.

    Of course they could, but not when the playing field would be relatively equal. There was little Larvitar and Jellicent would be able to achieve together, but Larvitar and Tangrowth could have a lot of good strategies they could possibly implement. The good thing about Togetic being a jack of all trades was that she'd go well with anyone, but I'd need to come up with pairs to use and figure out what the others' strengths would be. Luckily for me, figuring that kind of stuff out was when I was at my strongest.

    And I could also theorize about what my friends could use. I might not have known some of their new moves, but I knew how their Pokemon fought. Odds were that I wouldn't meet them for the first few days of the tournament anyway, though.

    Secondly, controlling the field would be important here. Togetic with Ancient Power, Tangrowth with his vines, and Larvitar once she truly learned Sandstorm would be excellent at that. The thing about Sandstorm is that it was a lot more versatile than it appeared. One could go for the most powerful one possible, like Palossand had gone against us during our gym battle. That meant zero visibility and zero ability for me and my opponent to command our Pokemon unless they had excellent hearing. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it could also be a weakened version of the attack that would only deal chip damage to everyone around the field, and if Sweetheart could master the attack— which she wouldn't be able to for months— thinking about using the move on the opposite side of the field alone was a possibility. That would have been extremely useful for the tournament, but I doubted that she'd be able to achieve that level of control any time soon. Like Tangrowth, Larvitar was more about brute strength than anything else despite her small size, although her control was still better than his.

    Ideally, I'd have one 'field controller' and 'brute' out in pairs. Some could fit both, like Tangrowth, Larvitar, and Turtonator— which I wouldn't be able to use— but some currently only had one specialization, like Togetic, Electabuzz, and Jellicent. I was currently having Buddy work on Whirlpool to increase his control. I'd heard things about Volkner's Electrivire being able to turn his whole battlefield into a living hell for non-electric type with something that went beyond the move Electric Terrain, so I knew there was potential there. Controlling the field was kind of his shtick as a gym leader.

    With how famous I was now and with how skilled I had proven to be at battling, I was starting to think about asking him about how to evolve Honey when we stopped by. I might have had to impress him in a battle to do so, but maybe I could call in a favor from Candice. Being self-sufficient was nice, but I'd be foolish not to use my connections to my advantage. If I did do that, though, I'd probably have to visit her again in exchange. Candice was definitely the kind to ask for that. If I could manage, I'd have liked to get Honey to his final form before the Conference.

    Hopefully it wouldn't be anything too crazy, because I'd already be tight on time—

    "Thinking again?"

    I jumped out of my skin and turned toward Cece, who chuckled. Fletchinder was preening herself on her shoulder, and Slowking had his usual blank stare.

    "Arceus… yeah, I was theory-crafting. What's up?"

    "I've been thinking a lot myself," she said. "I'm nervous already. You and Denzel have progressed leaps and bounds recently, so I hope I'll keep up the pace."

    "Come on, don't get all flaky now," I said, bumping against her arm. "You'll do fine."

    "It's not just about you guys either. The skill level there will be significantly tougher than anything we've faced before. This won't be like Floaroma. There'll be more than first-years there."

    "That's true. No matter how good we are, experience is a tough thing to beat."

    People that had been with their Pokemon for years would have a lot more tricks up their sleeves, even if they were at our level. Cece didn't do that well against tricks, so I was starting to understand why she was getting worried.

    "But I've been working on countermeasures," she smiled. "I think things will work out if I manage to master what I've been studying."

    "Studying?" I said, raising an eyebrow.

    "In a manner of speaking, yes."

    "Looking forward to it then," I said. "By the way, Pauline wants to catch a—"

    "Mankey, yes."

    "You know? She just told me!"

    "Well, Fletchinder picked it up thanks to her excellent hearing, and Slowking relayed it to me through telepathy."

    I stared at her blankly. That was so cheating!

    "Have you been listening in on everything everyone's been saying? The new moves, what they were practicing… wait, it means that you could also potentially know what the Pokemon are saying too…"

    Cecilia's face turned into a confident smile.

    "You witch," I scoffed.

    "I did say I was studying," she said. "And it'll only work this well on you and the others, although there might be some shenanigans I could come up with against unknown trainers…"

    Using a Pokemon with excellent hearing and a psychic type for information gathering was an incredible strategy. I'd need to start being a lot more discreet with my training.

    "Why would you reveal it though— oh, you probably just figured out every single new move that everyone was working on before the tournament, so you don't care anymore."

    She nodded. "Forgive me?"

    "Yeah, yeah…" I grumbled. "Oh! I had a favor to ask of you, actually, so I retract my forgiveness. I need Slowking to speak to me."

    "But the pain—"

    "Is something I need to get used to sooner or later. I want a psychic as a seventh, but even beyond that, if something happens to you or Pauline and I need to communicate quickly with your psychics, this'll go a long way, especially if the message is long-winded and complicated."

    Cecilia turned toward Slowking, and he said something to her. She sighed and accepted my request.

    "Only tonight, though. The first time's the worst one. Pauline threw up, and I got a headache that lasted for hours, so I think it'd be best if you were sitting down at camp."

    "I'd rather not have to go to sleep feeling sick."

    "Well, it's either that, or you might slow us down here. You don't want to miss the tournament, don't you?"

    "Yes ma'am," I laughed.



    It was nighttime now, and my Pokemon were training their respective moves in the distance, away from prying eyes or ears. We had made it through route 209's river system, and we could see the Lost Tower looming in the distance shining with a pale purple hue. We'd reach it tomorrow, and Cecilia would hopefully be able to catch her Golett. I nervously strode up to Slowking and stared up at the psychic. The first time was always the worst, but Cecilia had put the fear of it in me and now I was feeling a lot less confident than before. My pain tolerance was… probably average, but it was probably different with mental stuff. Cecilia had prepared water, towels, and some type of pill? It might have been for the headache.

    "Ready?" She asked.

    "Uh, yeah. Wait, do a countdown! From five! And keep it to one word for now?" I panicked.

    "We don't have to do this now."

    "No, I have to push myself through it or I'll never start."

    "Well, I did tell Pauline the same thing," my girlfriend sighed. "Very well. Slowking?"

    I tightly shut my eyes and tensed, clenching at my jeans as she counted down. Hopefully it wouldn't be too bad—

    Hello.

    A deep, gentle voice rang out in my head.

    My head suddenly felt like someone was driving an axe through it and it was being split in two. My vision went blurry, and every sound sent another throb pounding through my skull. Cecilia said something, grabbing onto my arm to keep me from falling over, but it sounded like a jumbled mess of sounds and echoes. It took at least fifteen seconds for me to be able to stand on my own and hear properly again.

    "Grace!" Cece said, keeping me still.

    "I'm… fuck."

    She gently laid me on the floor, placing my head on a towel and wiping the saliva, snot, and tears from my face.

    "You had a stronger reaction than most. I've never seen one this bad," she said, her face twisted with worry.

    I blinked a few times, trying to work through the words. I could hear them, but registering what they meant took a while.

    "That was the worst," I exhaled. "It still hurts like hell."

    "I have some aspirin. Are you well enough to sit up and drink?"

    "Just give me a sec," I winced as another wave of pain coursed through my head. She helped me up and handed me her bottle, along with the small tablet. "I've always been bad at— at taking pills."

    "Just take a deep breath and tilt your head back."

    I nodded, swallowed the tablet after a few tries, and then laid back down.

    "It should start to feel better soon," she said. "And I don't think we should do it anymore."

    "It'll be better the second time, you said."

    "But when it's this bad, it essentially amounts to torture. I won't let Slowking put you through this."

    "I— I'll think about it more clearly tomorrow. Hold my hand, please?"

    She held my hand tightly, and I inhaled sharply when I realized she was tearing up.

    "Why are you crying?"

    "Because I did this to you. It was my fault."

    I bit down on my tongue to distract myself from the pain. "I wanted this, Cece."

    "I should have said no."

    "I'm capable of making my own decisions and facing the consequences," I said. "I'll be okay tomorrow morning… I hate it when you feel like this."

    We both felt silent, and Slowking placed a hand on his trainer's shoulder.

    "Sorry," she sniffled.

    "The pain's getting manageable already," I lied. "Hey, it's cold as hell out here."

    "Do you want me to carry you to the tent?" She immediately asked.

    "No, just… stick around," I said, extending my arms.

    Cecilia lay down next to me, sharing her warmth with a tight hug. The first time with telepathy was supposed to be different for everyone, but it was a hell of a gut punch for me. Damn it, I couldn't even think clearly about a potential reason, but one thing I needed to do for sure was try it again tomorrow after the Lost Tower to see if it at least would get better at a quick rate. I already dreaded that moment, but a sample size of one wouldn't do the job.

    Eventually, we went back inside of the tent and fell asleep together. The next day, my headache was completely gone.

    We finally made it to the Lost Tower.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2023
  18. Threadmarks: Chapter 140
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 140

    The Lost Tower looked a lot bigger from up close. For some reason, it had been built in a hole of some sort, where huge stairs led to the gaping entrance. There was no door or guards, nor were there any other trainers near here. After taking a deep breath, I stared up, counting five floors. Each would get progressively worse, and there were stories about the fifth floor being impossible to escape from.

    We were only going to the first floor though, which was only slightly more dangerous than the route, which meant not at all.

    "Come on guys, in and out," Denzel said.

    "I hate these types of places. Gives me the creeps," Pauline shuddered. "The sooner we're out, the sooner I can go back to finding a Mankey."

    "Try to not get attacked by an Ursaring this time," I said.

    "Pfft, we manhandled that thing."

    We slowly stepped down the stairs, and it felt like the temperature was lowering with each step we took. Even though this was supposed to be safe, we had taken as many precautions as we could. I had Honey and Buddy with me, which would be able to sense ghosts, and Denzel had his Froslass, which was not helping with the cold. Cecilia released her Zweilous as soon as we reached the entrance, while Justin had his Audino, which he had taught Heal Pulse. Pauline had her Charmeleon up to help with the cold and the lighting. I squinted at the tower's entrance, unable to see anything but darkness. It seemed that sunlight simply couldn't penetrate past the door.

    Denzel stepped inside first, and he disappeared into the dark. Pauline quickly followed behind him, and soon enough, we were all inside of the tower. Blue torches adorned the walls, lighting up the entire floor, but whenever I stopped paying attention, they seemed to shift places, never staying in one spot for long. The floor was made out of teal bricks, and patches of grass and moss grew in between the cracks. Layers and layers of graves were laid out all across the ground, for humans and Pokemon alike.

    Maurice Walburton - 1357-1412 - A brilliant mind and fearless explorer of the unknown (Innovator, Chemist, Traveler). Died doing what he loved, charting the Land Of The Fog. His map was never recovered.

    Salla (Gigalith) - 988-1399 - Solaceon's trusted guardian. Enjoyed soaking in the sunlight. Died failing to protect the village from pack of Weaviles.


    Died… failing? What a morbid thing to put on a grave. Now that I was looking, all graves seemingly had a negative message at the end of them.

    Ediva Hunter - 971-1000 - Friend of Pokemon, Pokemon interpreter, a friendly woman born into a world of sorrow (Breeder, Architect). Died before she could open her breeding business.

    Well, that one was at least alright, by comparison, but she died terribly young.

    "These are all from hundreds of years ago," Cecilia breathed.

    "The tower's hundreds of years old, so yeah," Denzel whispered.

    All of these graves did share one thing. All of these people and Pokemon had their lives cut short due to some strange, unexplainable death or perished in a tragic way. No one here had gone peacefully in their sleep or of old age. What I was also learning was that a lot of Pokemon lived incredibly long lives. For example, a lot of rock types seemed to live for hundreds of years, and some had been so old that their birth year hadn't even been recorded.

    "They don't bury anyone here anymore though," Denzel continued. Froslass' eyes flickered and warily wandered toward the stairs to the second floor off in the distance. "The latest dates are all around 1450."

    "I wonder what happened…" Justin muttered.

    "Maybe they just ran out of space," Pauline said. "Sh—shit!"

    Our heads whirled toward where she was looking, and a Litwick disappeared with a high-pitched laugh.

    "Little fucker was staring at us," she said, sighing in relief. "No signs of Golett, though, and the floor isn't that big."

    I turned toward Electabuzz and Jellicent. They had both been supposed to sense that. "What happened?"

    In short, there was too much ghostly energy here for them to discern any individual ghosts. Their senses were getting overwhelmed, and that meant that we would be going in blind. I didn't like the sound of this one bit.

    "I think we should probably leave," Cecilia said. "Something about this feels off."

    I wiped the sweat off my forehead and hesitantly nodded to agree. "I mean, it's not like there's any hidden spots. We can see the whole floor, and there isn't much of anything there."

    "I think I'll just swallow my pride and buy a Golett instead. They're expensive in Sinnoh, but—"

    "Are you children looking for a Golett, perchance?"

    We all screamed, and our Pokemon immediately got into positions to battle. Justin fell on the floor, scrambling backwards, and Electabuzz stuck close to me, surrounding me with Protect. Zweilous snarled at the source of the voice with flames gathering in their mouths. Pauline crouched, placed her hands on her ears, and shut her eyes with an ear-piercing shriek.

    An extremely old woman stood before us, cane in one hand and teacup in another. She wore thick, transparent spectacles, along with white and purple robes. There not even a single inch of her skin was left untouched by wrinkles and creases. Her hands had strange blue colorations that I often saw in older people, and her lips were so thin they were barely visible. Her eyes were sunken and dull, almost unmoving.

    "Who the hell are you?!" Denzel screamed. "Our Pokemon could have killed you! Don't just jump out like that!"

    The old woman laughed. "Hoho, I am the Tower's Overseer, young man. One of two."

    The Overseer spoke so slowly that it was almost irritating, but that was probably me being petty about how badly she had scared us. She also had a weird accent that I couldn't exactly place. Eastern Sinnohans and Western Sinnohans spoke slightly differently, but this was on another level. If I didn't hang onto her every word, I risked missing something.

    "So you tend to the graves and things like that?" I asked, relaxing slightly.

    "Among other things," she said, her hand trembling. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation about a Golett?"

    "I am looking for one," Cece said.

    "You won't find any on the first floor, my dear. The Golett here have long been taken by trainers passing through. There are a few left on the second floor, however. They help tend to the graves. It is their life's work."

    "But I was sure…" Denzel trailed off. "My information said that there'd be some left."

    "Your information was incorrect."

    "And you don't care if we take one? Doesn't that mean more work for you?" I asked.

    The old woman sipped on her purple-tinted tea and grinned. She was missing almost all of her teeth. "This is a sunken place, children. Long forgotten despite its proximity to civilization. No one dares to come here any longer. Every few years, a few children come, look around the first floor and leave. No one ever comes to honor the dead."

    "I noticed that everyone buried here came from Solaceon," Justin said.

    "This place was originally built to bury the dead from there when it was but a simple village," she nodded. "But it is not a normal cemetery."

    "The deaths," I declared, echoing my previous thoughts. "They're all tragic in some way."

    "My, my, what an interesting group you are," she smiled. "But if you want your Golett, you will have to venture to the second floor. I am willing to guide you there if you wish."

    "Do you have any Pokemon to defend yourself?" Justin asked.

    The Overseer snorted. "Nothing of the sort."

    We all looked at each other, considering our options. If a woman this old was capable of going through all the floors to manage this place, then the threat was probably overblown. We agreed and decided to follow her up the second floor, which would… take a while, with how slow she walked.

    "What's your name?" I asked.

    "Mathilda."

    No last name? Well, alright.

    "Is your colleague around? We wouldn't want to intrude…" Denzel said.

    "She is on the top floor, at the moment. Do not worry about her, she follows quite a different philosophy than I do. You will not meet her today."

    "So, Mathilda," I said, trying to fill in the silence. "When's the last time you received visitors?"

    "A month ago or so, but they quickly left before I could say hello," she sighed. "The last time I spoke to anyone must have been at least eight years ago, if memory serves me well."

    "Don't you get lonely? I guess you have your friend, but—"

    "Friend? Ruth and I are nothing of the sort," the Overseer said, her eyes narrowing.

    I bit the inside of my mouth and stopped talking. Angering her when she was helping us would be a terrible idea.

    "But I would be wrong to scorn you," she said. "Especially when you discovered the true meaning behind the tower."

    "The deaths, you mean?" I asked. We were almost reaching the stairs now.

    Mathilda nodded. "Let me teach you a lesson, children. Why do you think a tower like this one attracts and creates ghosts when normal cemeteries do not?"

    Well, the answer was obvious now, but I still had to do a double-take at the fact that this tower apparently formed ghosts. I had known that many ghosts would be there, but that hadn't even been on my radar.

    "Well, I guess it has to do with the context of the deaths," I said. "But cemeteries have a lot of people that died early too."

    "Dying early is often, but not always tragic," she shook her head. "In certain cases, the lives led were still fulfilling. Tragic implies that something was left unfinished."

    My mind flashed back to the first grave I had seen. The man had died charting the land of the fog, whatever that was, so it implied that he hadn't finished doing so. Personally, I found that a horribly arbitrary way to define a tragic death, but maybe it was simply a difference in philosophy.

    "When someone commits to an ideal or a goal and does not finish it in their lifetimes," she started. "A residual, negative energy begins to gather. It has multiple names, but I prefer to call it Miasma. If you want to really get technical about it, the energy does not exactly come from this plane of existence, but the deaths… facilitate its transfer into this realm."

    "From that energy, ghosts are born? So it's like reincarnation, then?" Denzel tried as we stepped up the stairs.

    "No, it is not that simple. It takes hundreds of deaths to form a ghost, and even then, the Miasma must be packed so tightly together… this tower itself only births a single ghost every few decades from the residual Miasma that remains here. What comes into the world does not have any memories from the humans and Pokemon it was born out of. The ghost… is an echo. It can hold similar personality traits, likes and dislikes from the living things it was made of, but not always. The more tragic and numerous the deaths are, the more powerful the ghost. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, like with that Froslass of yours, or Spiritomb. Your Jellicent holds potential too. Perhaps explore options to increase his ghostliness."

    Buddy stared into the back of her head like a hungry Talonflame but said nothing.

    Meanwhile, I swallowed at that name. The little information the public had about Spiritomb was already enough to keep me up at night.

    "How do you think this tower is arranged?"

    "The… the more tragic the deaths, the higher in the tower they're buried," Justin guessed.

    The Overseer grinned. "Welcome to the second floor, children. The Hall of Memories."

    I blinked a few times, trying to make sense of what I was seeing. The second floor was somehow bigger than the first, even though that made no sense with how the tower was built from the outside, and there were a lot more graves. There was a lot more grass here than on the first floor, and it almost overwhelmed the teal bricks. The room seemed to be obscured by a perpetual, thin fog. There were windows that supposedly led to the outside, but the openings were just shrouded in darkness. I shivered. It was like we were completely cut off from the outside world. In the distance, a few Golett walked in a robot-like fashion, their eyes and rune illuminating the dim room. Some of them were pulling weeds, while others swept the floor with thick brooms. Some even shined the graves with tissues. The others were simply standing at attention, probably waiting for something to necessitate their movement. On this floor, the deaths were a lot sadder, but some of them were not at all gruesome.

    Amice Keriell - 1366-1383 - A bright child, sick from birth, that vowed to survive and live a normal life. Tricked by the whims of the fae. Let this be a lesson to all to not bargain with what we cannot understand.

    The whims of the fae…? I stopped and stared at the grave, trying to decipher what it could mean. I didn't like the tone of it one bit.

    "Ah, this one," The Overseer smiled. "He ventured into the woods to the northeast and asked for a fairy to cure his illness. A foolish endeavor, but it was not his fault. There were a lot of legends about the fae in those times, including the one that they could grant wishes, although for a heavy price. But as you know, all rumors are born from a hint of truth."

    "What… what happened to him?"

    "Well, I do not know," she said. "The fae can be ruthless, just like they can be kindness incarnate. It would depend on which one he met and if he offended it. He died, so his offer must not have gone over well."

    I frowned, feeling more uncomfortable than I had since I stepped foot into the tower. That was an overgeneralization if I ever saw one.

    Aethelred (Bronzong) - ?-1415 - Bringer of rains, protector of our crop, lover of plays. Died mysteriously in the night. Could not prevent the coming famine caused by drought.

    Camilla (Luxio) - 1434-1450 - Went on a rampage, then starved herself after failing to protect her life companion from harm. May they rest together—


    That was it. I was done with reading anything. This was just the second floor. I wanted to get out of here as fast as I could.

    "So do I just… catch one?" Cecilia asked, pointing toward one of the Golett. "Can I choose the biggest one?"

    "Go ahead, young one," she said, sipping on her tea. "They will not resist a Pokeball's hold. They lack the individuality to do so."

    Was that cup even emptying itself?

    "I don't want a mindless drone, I want a Pokemon," Cecilia said.

    "They are Pokemon. They were built in ancient times for manual labor, so this is what you will be getting, I am afraid."

    "You'll be able to breathe life into it," I said. "I'm sure of it."

    Cecilia hesitantly approached the largest Golett that reached up to her waist, and bumped its forehead. The Pokeball chimed without even shaking. That was it. Cecilia had caught her fifth Pokemon.

    "So we can dip now, right?" Pauline nervously asked.

    "I don't see why not. We got what we came here for," Denzel said.

    "Won't you stay to honor the dead?" Mathilda asked.

    "Erm, no," Pauline said. "I… uh, respect your job, this place and what you're trying to do, but it's giving us the creeps."

    "Very well," she said, dipping her head. "I will lead you back to the exit. No ghosts will attack you in my presence—"

    Shadows slipped through the cracks in the floor, lashing out and destroying some of the bricks. The darkness coalesced into the form of an old woman that looked exactly like Mathilda. The clothes, the face, the exact same wrinkles. This went beyond genes, this was… like a reflection of her.

    "Mathilda," the voice echoed throughout the room. "You dare bring humans into this sacred place?"

    "Step aside, Ruth."

    "That's Ruth? Is she even human?!" Denzel yelled.

    "Obviously not!" Pauline said.

    "Silence!" Ruth screamed. My ears rang, giving me a headache. "We had a deal, Mathilda. No humans past the Foyer."

    The Foyer… that must have been the first floor. Our Pokemon all tensed, readying their attacks in case everything went south.

    "You are stuck in the past. Nothing is forever, Ruth, no matter how long we may live," Mathilda said, her voice turning otherworldly. "Some rules can be bent to make our time here a little easier."

    "That is humorous coming from you, of all people! What are you thinking, Mathilda? Do you want this tower to fall into ruin?"


    I didn't understand. Why would we coming here mean that the tower would become ruined?

    "Ironic, is it not? The people buried here failed to achieve their goals, and yet we were given a goal we are incapable of reaching. An unending task. How much longer, Ruth? One hundred years? Five hundred? A thousand? You have asked me plenty, and I know you would not like the answer."

    My eyes bulged. These two were ghosts! But what ghost could even turn into a human?!

    "If I am kept here, then the next best thing is following our directive."

    "You are not focused on your task, Ruth. Hatred still drives you."

    "Hatred for you! I am focusing on my task, while you play with humans! They will spread rumors about this place, and trainers will come to ransack this tower. I will not let them leave."

    "Do not be foolish, Ruth. You are not thinking clearly."

    "You and your love for humans!"
    She spat. "I should have done this centuries ago!"

    Shadows were thrashing under both of their feet, now, and I knew there were about to fight. I stared at my friends, and we carefully stepped back. Electabuzz placed a hand on my shoulder to stop my trembling, and I took a deep breath. I needed to think. Why did Ruth seem to care so much about guarding the tower if she hated humans so much? Did she just care about the graves for Pokemon? No… it seemed that she cared for everyone here. Mathilda's words were strange too. It seemed that she wanted to change things, but there was something about her words that made it seem like Ruth wanted to lea—

    "Do not leave me!" Mathilda called out to us. "The ghosts here are beyond your capabilities. If you are without me, you will get attacked."

    "Even on the second floor?" Justin harrowingly said.

    "I will only say this one more time, Ruth. Step aside, or I will kill you, and we will talk about this when you are done clearing your head in the Dusk."

    "You make me sick. You're the one keeping me—"


    Mathilda took a deep breath. "Stick close to me. Do not engage, you will just make her focus on you instead of me."

    Suddenly, she was sucked into her teacup, becoming a Sinistea, and Ruth's arms bulged, separating into segments that were thinly linked by darkness. Red runes were inscribed on her skin, which turned into a dull gray, and then turned into thick rocks. A single purple eye stared at us with unending hatred.

    It was a Runerigus. Native and only found in Galar, and yet somehow, it was here.

    How was a Sinistea supposed to win against that? Never mind that they could somehow turn into humans that were exact copies of each other!

    A ball of green energy shot out of the teacup, and Runerigus let out a hellish scream, somehow jumping toward us with both of her hands coated in sharp shadows. The Energy Ball crashed into her, but she ignored it, swatting Sinistea away like a bug. The teacup flew into a grave, destroying it and sending Runerigus even further into her unhinged rage.

    Sinistea appeared fine, and she floated upward with another Energy Ball charged up. This time, the ball split into ten smaller ones, and she sent them flying forward like a machine gun. The ground type brought both of her arms forward, blocking the attack with Protect, and created two Night Shades alongside her.

    She sicked them after us and then returned to fight Sinistea.

    We all issued a flurry of orders, and every attack under the sun crashed against the two Night Shades. Dragon Pulse, Flamethrower, Icy Wind, Disarming Voice, Shadow Ball and Thunderbolt all impacted them, but they seemed completely unfazed by the attacks. The first shade slashed across Froslass, and she flickered in and out of reality as the temperature dropped and frost started to coat the graves and the floor.

    "Recall your fucking Froslass!" Pauline yelled as Electabuzz shielded her from a Shadow Claw. "She can't control herself if she's not focusing!"

    "Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Denzel yelled, scrambling at his belt. He recalled the ice type and sent out his Roselia instead. "Roselia, battle! Focus on the Night Shades!"

    Jellicent's entire face was destroyed in a single attack from one of the shades, and he flew off to regenerate. Roselia brought a flower forward, spraying one of the shades with Venoshock, but it had no effect at all. Electabuzz was working overtime to shield anyone in danger with Protect, but one slipped through and slammed his arm so hard that it bent wrong. I felt my stomach drop and immediately recalled him.

    "Angel," I breathed out as soon as I sent him out. "Battle, restrain the Night Shades."

    If we didn't have Protect, then his vines were the best we had for protection. The grass type coated them in dark type energy and wrapped as many as he could around the two shades, but it was barely restraining their movement. Still, it was enough for us to run and get out of harm's way most of the time. To our left, Sinistea sent out a Shadow Ball toward Runerigus, and she was finally starting to crack her stone armor that hid her true body underneath.

    As Justin released his Krokorok, I was starting to understand something. Their attacks were all incredibly impressive, and beyond what we could hope to achieve. They charged faster, were stronger, and had more versatility than I'd ever seen from a wild Pokemon, and yet—

    The Night Shades, Sinistea and Runerigus were all holding back to protect the graves.

    Still, we were on the verge of getting annihilated by something that wasn't even its real body. The Night Shade let out a silent scream, tearing more of Tangrowth's vine apart as Charmeleon's Flamethrower coated its body. Krokorok attempted to slow the other one down with Sand Tomb, but it could apparently fucking fly too. The shade slammed him away, and Audino hurriedly dealt with the worse of the damage with Heal Pulse.

    "Knock Off, Angel!" I yelled. If I couldn't restrain them with vines, the best we could do was deal as much damage as possible in hopes of finally dealing with them. The grass type's vines tensed, and he slapped a Night Shade away from Pauline, finally dealing real damage. "Dark type moves! Only dark type moves work!" I yelled.

    "Zweilous, Crunch!"

    "You too Charmeleon!" Pauline yelled, releasing her Gothorita. "Payback!"

    "Not them!" I countered. "It's too dangerous!"

    Only Zweilous, Tangrowth, and Jellicent could take any hits. For the others, one or two, and they'd have to be recalled to avoid dying or being irreparably wounded. Zweilous ran up to one of the shades as darkness danced in their mouths, and both of the heads bit down, destroying a part of the shadow, and another one of Jellicent's Shadow Balls slammed into it right after.

    Its eye just glinted as it regenerated the damage immediately.

    I flinched as the real Runerigus crashed into a mass of graves and an unsuspecting Golett, which were all destroyed. The ground type was barely a thin, long shadow now, and all of its armor had been destroyed. Sinistea used the opportunity and helped us dispatch the Night Shades with two Shadow Balls that were bigger than I'd ever seen. When I looked into them, it was like staring into the abyss itself. I was hypnotized by the sheer amount of grief and emptiness present in the ghostly spheres.

    Grief, not hate.

    Two was all it took. We were truly outclassed at every level.

    The teacup flew in between us and the shades, shielding us from the explosion that came with their destruction with a Protect of her own. I didn't know how, but somehow, a non-fully evolved Pokemon was winning against a fully-evolved one. Were they so old that it truly did not matter? Or was something else at play? I took my first full breath since the battle started and assessed the damage. Aside from the three I mentioned earlier and Audino thanks to his normal typing, our Pokemon were horribly wounded.

    Krokorok was worse off than anyone else, however. Even with Heal Pulse, he had lost so much blood. Audino used another Heal Pulse, and Justin quickly recalled the ground type with tears in his eyes. It seemed that Audino was capable of healing broken bones, at the very least, so we wouldn't have to rush to the Pokemon Center.

    Runerigus had been reduced to a shadow, and it quickly turned back into Ruth. Sinistea did the same, and a body just squeezed out of the cup.

    "You disappoint me, Ruth. So many graves damaged because of your childish antics. So many names and memories lost forever."

    "I despise you. Just kill me already, there is no need to gloat. If the tower falls, then you will only have yourself to blame. At least I will be able to be free."

    "Why fight change, Ruth? A ghost might be eternal, but the world is not. You must have known that things would not stay the same forever. The inside of this tower will stand until the end of time, but we can commit to making our fate a little easier until the time comes."

    "I despise this fate,"
    the ghost said, more saddened than I expected. "Banished to care for graves for eternity."

    "And yet, you do it diligently, because it is your purpose. Our purpose. Things cannot be any different."

    "They are all gone, Mathilda. All gone. And we are condemned to a life that cannot end. Even after the world is reduced to dust and ash with nothing left to protect the tower from, only ghosts will remain."

    "A tragic fate for we, who were borne of tragic deaths. And yet it must be done."

    "Enough of this. I am done with conversing. A trip to the Dusk will do me some good."

    "Do not try to avoid hard conversation through death. It will have to happen either way."

    "Fine then. I love this place, but I grow tired of it. I want to leave."


    Mathilda's face darkened, and I felt my palms moisten. An uncomfortable dryness overtook my throat.

    "You know as well as I do that the answer is no. You cannot abandon your purpose. Our purpose."

    I stared at both of them confusedly. This made no sense… it was like the roles had switched. Ruth was now the one wishing for change, and Mathilda was the one wanting to keep things the same. But why? Were these two so old that I just couldn't understand?

    "So you bring humans to taint this sacred place, and yet you cling to tradition? What a joke," Ruth chuckled sadly. "You are as hypocritical as always, Mathilda."

    "Humans coming here will give us a break from the dullness,"
    she explained. "But we will not leave. I am a force for change, but that is the line we must not cross. You cling to the status quo to avoid experiencing what could have been if we had not been given this task, but in truth, you want to leave. Every time you see a human, it reminds you of Him, does it not? I know it is painful. You spend decades at a time grieving next to His grave."

    "And you spend decades ignoring Him. You never come to the top floor, Mathilda."

    "It is too sorrowful for even I."


    Ruth sighed. "We are both slaves to the purpose we were given in different ways, it seems."

    "You would have known this had you not decided to give me the silent treatment for the last three hundred years,"
    she said, turning toward us. "I will lead you to the exit, children. Thank you for keeping us company."

    "If you know what's good for you, you won't come back. You thought I was a threat? You have not seen what she is capable of."


    Mathilda spared a look at her fellow Overseer. "How much longer, Ruth?" She repeated. "The answer is forever."


    A/N: Here are Ruth and Mathilda in game!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2023
  19. Threadmarks: Chapter 141
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 141

    We couldn't have possibly run out of the Lost Tower faster than we did. Mathilda had simply led us to the first floor before going back upstairs. I drew a ragged breath, opening my bag to down an entire water bottle, washing down all the bile that had built up in my throat in the process. Thank Arceus, we had gotten out of that okay. It was a miracle, really. If Mathilda and Ruth hadn't been holding back, then we would have died right then and there.

    "I am never, ever doing any ghost bullshit again," Pauline cried.

    "We won't. We won't, I'm sorry," Cecilia said.

    "Let's just… go," she said. "Far away from this place. I don't feel safe."

    We nodded, opting to wait to put in some distance before healing our Pokemon. We recalled most of them, keeping only one each. I had Togetic with me, who instantly noticed something was wrong, and I explained what happened, much to her dismay. I put a hand in front of me and couldn't stop myself from trembling. The sheer scale of the world and how powerful beings could get boggled my mind no matter how obvious it was and how many times I saw it. I was so weak. I clenched a fist and sniffled as Togetic rubbed her head against mine.

    "Thank you Princess," I whispered. "Everyone is fine, it was just a close call."

    Another one.

    I was tired of being spared by the whims of beings more powerful than I was by orders of magnitude. This wasn't the time to be a scared little girl and cry. I had grown past that. I… I had. I took a deep breath, staring back at the Lost Tower. Just like I thought, it looked a lot smaller on the outside than it actually was somehow, and there was no sign of any battle having gone on there.

    Hell, even the numbers of windows were wrong now that I was getting a closer look. Togetic called out, telling me to stop staring, and I nodded. The knowledge I had gotten from the tower was invaluable for a trainer my age. Kids usually didn't learn how ghosts formed, even in school. Oh, everyone had theories, of course. Reincarnated Pokemon or humans was one of the most popular ones, but that had been completely wrong. I assumed only the League and ghost specialists in high places had access to this knowledge.

    And this talk about the Dusk? Was that where ghosts were when they died? From the way they had spoken about it, it seemed that they were conscious there. Ruth had called it a good place to clear her head. Either way, the fact that a tower that I assumed was specifically engineered to create ghosts only formed one every few decades helped explain how rare true ghosts were. Why else would someone build a cemetery only for people with tragic deaths? They must have had an agenda of some kind, or at least I believed so.

    And then there was the Copperajah in the room.

    Since when could Sinistea and Runigerus turn into fucking humans?! I had never heard of any ghost types turning into humans. Creating illusions with humans in it, yes, but becoming full-fledged humans capable of speech? Did that also have to do with their ages and how powerful they were? I didn't have enough information to answer that, but I did have a bit of context. They had the exact same body, like they were clones. That implied that something else had maybe helped them gain this ability. Maybe the person that gave them their 'purpose' they seemed so obsessed with.

    I exhaled loudly.

    "Should we alert someone?" Justin said. "That tower should definitely be closed to the public."

    "If they don't close places like Victory Road, they won't close the Lost Tower either," Denzel shook his head. "And… I don't know, it would feel wrong, wouldn't it?"

    I hesitantly nodded. "Mathilda and Ruth are different, but I think they'd both dislike it if we did that. It's a hard choice. I… I don't think I'll be saying anything, but feel free to do whatever you want, Justin. Personally, I don't think they deserve more suffering."

    "You're... right. I won't say anything."

    In the end, even though she had saved our lives, Mathilda terrified me more than Ruth did. She was essentially holding the latter captive, forcing her to forever tend to the tower against her wishes. If Ruth ever tried to escape, she would be killed repeatedly. They both had a dash of good and evil about them in very different ways.

    "I just don't want to speak about it. I don't want to think about it," Pauline said. "Fuck that place."

    "Do you want to vent?" Denzel asked. "I'll listen."

    The redhead paused. "Fine. Later tonight."

    What else… what else? Night Shade! I already suspected the move to hold a lot more potential than I knew due to Fantina summoning five at once with her Frillish, but those had been on a completely different level. They were capable of going toe to toe with our entire teams combined, were only vulnerable to dark moves, and were capable of regeneration. What was different with their shades? Okay, they were obviously tougher due to experience, but even then, they should have taken damage from our other moves! Darkness would be a foil to ghosts no matter what, it seemed. I didn't know much about the type, and not many people did in Sinnoh. There weren't that many high leveled dark type specialists here, so it would take a long time to find any answers.

    Damn it, I hated being kept in the dark. Something told me that if I ever wanted to find those three Gengar, I'd need to get more knowledgeable about dark type energy to better protect myself just in case. Damn it, I could have had potentially asked them so much more information... but it was hard to think straight when I'd been on the brink of dying.

    The point was, I had abandoned working on Jellicent's Night Shade to practice other attacks, but it seemed that the move held untold amounts of potential. Letting it go was the wrong move. When we were done working on Whirlpool, I'd ask him to try replicating what Runerigus had done, or get as close to it as possible. A Night Shade that didn't explode with one attack and could dish out damage multiple times would be an incredible threat to face. Plus, Mathilda had been somewhat impressed by Buddy when she first saw him.

    I was thinking about Pokemon battling, so I had at least calmed down enough for that. I held out my hand again and sighed in relief. I wasn't trembling anymore, despite how shaken I still felt. I turned to Cece, who was staring at Golett's Pokeball in silence.

    "Are you… I mean, no, you're obviously not okay, but are you feeling better?" I asked, stepping close to her. She opened her mouth, and I stopped her. "Don't try to blame yourself now. We all agreed to go inside, and we were all tricked by Mathilda."

    "Right," she quietly said. "But I failed to keep you safe."

    "What? We all worked together to keep each other safe. Our Pokemon all had a part in helping. Your Zweilous was instrumental in keeping the shades' attention away from us."

    "That's…"

    She didn't finish her sentence.

    "Look, we got out at least," I said, forcing a smile. "And you got your Golett."

    She showed a hint of a smile. "Right. We should look at… look at the positive. Solaceon is just a few days away after all."

    "That's what I'm talking about. And I'm excited to meet your new little guy."

    "He's going to be a tough one to raise," she said. "But I hope I don't mess up like I did with Scyther."

    "Hard to do that when it currently has no will. Or at least it doesn't according to Mathilda. I'm sure that it'll change though. You could look up information about it when we get to Solaceon."

    Cecilia shook her head. "I want to do it on my own, otherwise I would be a fraud."

    "I'd say that's a little much, but then that'd kind of be hypocritical of me. Does it even have a mouth to eat? How're you gonna give it vitamins?"

    "You know what, that's an excellent question."

    "Pfft!" I laughed, feeling my entire body relax.

    So long as we moved past the event,

    We would be fine.



    Golett was a weird little guy, indeed.

    My team was practicing their moves off in the distance, and Denzel and Pauline were finally talking again. Every Pokemon was well enough to practice except Justin's Krokorok, and he was tending to him. His Audino was a lifesaver, and Electabuzz's arm had easily been fixed with a Heal Pulse and a few potions. We'd had to use so many that we were almost out of them, though.

    I was currently meeting Cecilia's Golett for the first time. Its eyes and rune slowly lit up with a pale yellow light as Cecilia released him, and I could hear the distinct hum of an… engine? Along with some wet clay mushing around inside of its body. Golett blankly stared in between us both and into the distance. It was a genderless Pokemon, but using 'it' all the time felt so dehumanizing.

    "Should we just give it a gender?" I asked, observing the golem. "Or call it they?"

    Cecilia hummed. "I'd prefer to call it a boy."

    I nodded. "He/him it is. Hi little guy!" I waved.

    The golem slowly rotated his head toward me, its expression unchanging.

    Well, it wasn't like its expression could change. It had no facial muscles, it was just an immutable face. Cecilia grabbed her Pokedex, and I opted to do the same.

    Golett, the Automaton Pokemon. These Pokemon are thought to have been created by an ancient Unovan civilization, and they are powered by an unknown energy channeled into their runes that appears to last thousands of years.

    "That's a lot vaguer than usual," I complained. "And if he's Unovan, how the hell did he end up here?"

    "I don't know. Perhaps the person who built the Lost Tower owned a lot of them, or was an Unovan traveler? Mathilda and Ruth are Pokemon from Galar too, so it's possible that he might have gone through more regions."

    "Since they're ancient… does it mean they won't make them anymore?"

    Cecilia nodded, and I felt a twinge of pain. Eventually, when their energy ran out, all Golett would go extinct, unless someone figured out how to recreate them.

    That was a depressing thought. Maybe their evolutions lasted longer? Not that I had ever seen one.

    "Golett… do you eat, darling? Or can you?"

    The ground type's head popped open with a hiss, revealing a gaping hole above its neck. Smoke rose out of the hole, and machinery hummed. I curiously peered inside, and I couldn't even comprehend what I was looking at. A cacophony of hot steam, moving wet clay and swirling light all combined to create the sound of an engine.

    "Do you just pour it in there? Won't that short-circuit him?" I asked.

    "Well, he did open his… mouth after I asked if he ate, so surely not."

    "I think you should consider the option that he doesn't even know what he's doing. He might be a bajillion years old, but you've got to treat him like a newborn baby. Plus, he's a cutie."

    The Golett closed his hatch and started staring at us again.

    "Well, maybe I should look information up after all," she sighed. "I don't want to accidentally hurt him."

    "Good," I smiled. "Better safe than sorry. I'll leave you to introduce him to your team properly, but can we do the telepathy thing again later?"

    "I don't know, Grace…"

    "Please? Just once more to see how fast the pain is going to lessen. Or how slow," I shuddered.

    "Just one more time, then. After that, you're taking a break until you get an opinion from a Nurse Joy. Scrambling your brain again that badly this soon can't be healthy."

    "Thank you!" I said, kissing her cheek. "I'll make it up to you somehow!"

    "I might change my mind."

    "Wha— absolutely not!"

    After annoying her for a bit longer, I left to join my team again. Since we were out of view of everyone, I used the opportunity to release Turtonator, but him being there made Togetic unable to focus on her Shadow Ball practice, so I ended up having to recall him after barely two hours. I considered speaking to her about it again, but she was getting better, and I didn't want to force anything. She was glaring less and less, and was no longer pre-charging an Ancient Power at all times, she just found it hard to trust him. To Princess, Turtonator was the Pokemon who'd almost killed and permanently scarred her mother, so it would take time to get used to.

    Inch by inch, Sunshine was slowly becoming part of the family. He was openly talking to Sweetheart now, and even playing with her by letting her ram into his tough, pale scales with her horn. Still, when he looked at me, I couldn't help but notice the disappointment. His stare was silently screaming at me, telling me that I could do more. I still refused to fight Team Galactic with him, and I would always do so.

    It wasn't my job.



    "Your Mankey rumor seems more and more like a pile of crap," Denzel said.

    "Shut it. You're just scaring them off," Pauline clapped back.

    "That's not even how Mankey work. They're supposed to get mad at everything, not get scared of the first human they hear."

    It was the next day now, and we were off-route, looking for Pauline's Mankey. There had been a few wild Pokemon attacks, but nothing that threatened us too badly. We weren't that deep in, so the Pokemon were still relatively easy to deal with if we combined all of our strengths. Pauline and Denzel were back to their usual selves, and it appeared they had a breakthrough yesterday night, so thankfully they were friends again.

    The telepathy experiment yesterday night had gone slightly better than the first. The amount of pain I'd have to put myself through to get my brain used to the process was daunting to think about, but at least I'd made some progress. Cece didn't want to do it anymore, though.

    "If only your Growlithe had smelled one before," Pauline grumbled at Justin. "This would be so much easier. There's just one more day until we get to Solaceon!"

    "At this point, you should just catch the first thing you come across," I shrugged.

    "I won't give up yet!"

    Four hours later, Pauline gave up. We couldn't afford to stay here too long, since we were cutting in close as it was. Louis' group had probably walked past us by now, if Denzel was calculating his hours right. The redhead dejectedly stared at the floor and sighed.

    "Look, it's not the end of the world. You can always get your Mankey later, just get something else for now. Or just don't participate in the tournament," Denzel said, patting her shoulder.

    Pauline jumped, taking a few steps away as she stared away from us. "Y—yeah. No, I think I'll catch something. The first Pokemon I see!"

    "I'll hold you accountable to that declaration," I said.

    Around fifteen minutes later, we heard rustling in the leaves. A tall Watchog passed us by, staring at us warily with its large eyes. Pauline just let it through.

    "So much for that," Cecilia teased.

    "Come on, it was a Watchog!" She yelled. "It's—"

    The Watchog came back flying into a nearby tree with two huge claw marks on its chest, and a pool of blood accumulated across the grass. A blur of white jumped at us, but Slowking raised a hand, restraining it long enough for us to see. A Vigoroth shook and struggled against the Psychic as blood leaked out of its nose, staining its fur.

    "Let it go," Pauline said, releasing her Gothorita and Rufflet. "I want it."

    "There you go," Justin said. "Cece, can you lend me your Slowking? I'm going to go and heal this Watchog."

    "Sure."

    Slowking lowered his hand, and Vigoroth immediately jumped at Charmeleon, who bit down on its arm with Crunch without Pauline's command. The normal type screamed and forcefully tore its hand away, ignoring the chunk of flesh it lost in the process, and started to claw at Charmeleon with a ferocity I had never seen before in a Pokemon. Gothorita quickly restrained it again, and Rufflet stood, waiting for Pauline's command.

    "You're a tough one," Pauline said. "Charmeleon would have gotten overwhelmed without Gothorita's help."

    The fire type growled to protest, but her trainer ignored her.

    "You have what I'm looking for in a Pokemon. You live off-route, so you're probably not familiar with humans. Let me tell you, if you want to grow stronger, you're going to want to come with me."

    Vigoroth squirmed and raged against Gothorita's Confusion, and the psychic gave an irritated grunt in response.

    "See? As it stands, you can't break out. Did you know that Rufflet over here can?" She said, nodding toward the flying type. She proudly flared her feathers. "Charmeleon can too, with a bit more work."

    The fire type's nose flared in protest, and Vigoroth kept struggling. Pauline crossed her arms.

    "We'll wait until you give me an answer. Gothorita, drop him, but keep him restrained if he jumps at us again. I'll stay here until you nod or shake your head, Vigoroth."

    The psychic type listened, and unsurprisingly, Vigoroth attacked us again.

    This was going to take a while, so I opted to scan it with my Pokedex in the meantime.

    Vigoroth, the Wild Monkey Pokemon. Vigoroth is always itching and agitated to go on a wild rampage, and it struggles to sit still for even a minute. If it does, its stress levels rise until it cannot take it anymore, and it blows up into an uncontrollable rage.

    Well, that sounded like an extremely hard Pokemon to raise. I did know a bit about the Pokemon and that it evolved into the terrifying Slaking, though. If they weren't all extremely lazy, then they'd probably be stronger than even pseudo-legendaries. In the wild, they simply lounged around and ate any grass that was within reach. I had heard that it was possible to reduce their truancy, but I obviously had no idea how. We all nodded at the Watchog, who thanked us for the help and ran away as fast as it could.

    An hour passed. Then two. Then three. Vigoroth still hadn't stopped, although he had calmed down slightly. At this point, I had released my Pokemon so that they could train their current moves. Electabuzz was even sparring with Tangrowth, although they were both holding back a decent amount. Togetic was practicing her control with Psychic and her shaping with Ancient Power. Slowking, and Gothorita were currently working in shifts to let each other rest.

    "Pauline…" Denzel groaned. "Just catch it already. I'm bored out of my fucking mind."

    "No."

    "The tournament is soon, and—"

    "Shh. Just a second," she raised a finger.

    Vigoroth's eyes narrowed as she approached.

    "I think we can come to an understanding, no?" Pauline asked. "Don't you want to fight things?"

    Vigoroth grunted.

    "Well, I want to make you fight things."

    Just like that, Vigoroth nodded, and Pauline caught him easily.

    "Why couldn't you just say that from the start?!" I exasperatedly asked.

    "Because its judgment was still clouded. We needed to let it calm down first."

    "Weird definition of calming down," Denzel said. "But let's go. We're going to cut it short, we have to be quick."

    Pauline hadn't given up on her Mankey just yet, but she had gotten her fourth Pokemon.



    Less than a day later, we arrived at Solaceon. The small town was swarming with trainers, and it seemed that the usual population felt like it had at least doubled. It was probably good for business, and I had no doubt that they weren't all joining the tournament, but boy, did it feel cramped.

    Either way, it was time to sign up.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2023
  20. Threadmarks: Chapter 142
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 142

    Solaceon was a small town that reminded me very much of Floaroma, but without an accent on the flowers. There was a city center that was decently built up with tall buildings just shy of being skyscrapers, and there were some pockets of suburbs isolated from the center and only connected through lonely roads. It was, however, larger than Floaroma, and unlike the small town, this was a proper city with an airport and a decent population. In between the suburbs and the city center, there were simply massive fields full of wheat farms and docile Pokemon that were mostly normal types. Sentret, Doduo, Staravia, Lechonk… there were a lot of wild Pokemon hanging about. I even saw a trainer try to catch a Deerling out there. Apparently, the organizers had set up the tournament area right next to the Solaceon Daycare. It was called a daycare, but in truth, it was Sinnoh's most famous and successful Pokemon breeding company. They raised all kinds of Pokemon of any type, which was almost unheard of since most breeders tended to specialize in a single or just a few types. The Daycare, as it was known, did not have such limitations. If I remembered correctly, Louis' Vulpix had come from here. Of course, they could also temporarily take care of your Pokemon— for a large sum— if you couldn't do so for any reason.

    "Did you know that some trainers make money by catching rare Pokemon and selling them to the Daycare?" Denzel said.

    "Yikes…" I said. "Couldn't imagine catching a Pokemon and just giving it away, I'd grow too attached."

    "They've got to make that money somehow," Denzel shrugged. "But I get ya. They're almost all eight-badge holders too, so they're skilled enough to explore dangerous areas to capture rare Pokemon, and they have their license to go past the six-Pokemon limit, so it's easier to carry them."

    "Interesting," Justin said. "What else do you know about this establishment?"

    According to Denzel, the Daycare practically owned almost all of the undeveloped empty land here that they used to raise Pokemon. It was so huge that I couldn't see it in its entirety as we approached the fenced-out area. Apparently, the Daycare would lend the tournament organizers some of its land to run the entire event on. Another reason why Solaceon hadn't grown to a massive size even though it clearly had the potential to was because the Daycare held so much influence in local politics here that a simple vocal refusal from them would sink any expansion project. They wanted to keep the undeveloped land for themselves. The business was also run by the massive Hunter household, and all employees— who numbered in the hundreds— were a part of the family. Not figuratively. Literally. The thought of having hundreds of cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings with names and personalities that I'd have to remember made my head spin.

    Hunter was one of the names I'd seen in the Lost Tower. I guess that meant that the woman's family managed to realize her dream after all.

    The Daycare itself was a massive, old-looking mansion that reminded me of the mansion in Eterna Forest. A small inscription above the double doors showed that it'd been in business since the year 1001. That meant that the Daycare was more than a thousand years old and basically near the Lost Tower in age, if the dates marked on the graves were anything to go on. There were also smaller wooden cabins surrounding it that I assumed most employees lived and slept in. But the Daycare wasn't where we were going. We entered another building about five minutes away that was swarming with trainers from all walks of life. We entered a queue to sign up for the tournament, and we turned some heads when people noticed us.

    "Thank Arceus we made it," Denzel sighed in relief. "Another day, and we wouldn't have been able to sign up."

    "Wait, we had another day? I thought today was the deadline," Pauline said. "Why'd you harass me to go faster then?"

    "Because something could have delayed us," I explained. "Better safe than sorry."

    "I hope Louis made it," Cece said, standing on her tiptoes. "I don't see him anywhere."

    "Good luck finding him in this," Denzel groaned as someone bumped into him.

    "So many people…" Justin said. "How are they going to fit all of us in the tournament?"

    "Good question," Denzel shrugged. "But then again, it is supposed to be an extremely big event. It's not an annual thing like Floaroma. People actively came here for the occasion, since it probably won't happen for years after this."

    "Some of 'em are probably just here to watch too," I said.

    It took around thirty minutes for it to be our turn, and we each went to the counter one by one. I tried to catch a few conversations from the various groups of people here, and they were mostly about the toughest competition they'd have to face. I was surprised to hear my name come up a bunch, and I felt my chest swell with pride.

    Don't let it get to your head, I told myself.

    The gist of the signup process went like this. The organizer took my trainer ID to make sure that I had never made it past five badges. People past the first year were allowed, but only in that circumstance. I paid a large entry fee, which the Poketch Company would pay back. It was their way of incentivizing me to enter more tournaments, and I'd welcome the help.

    "The tournament starts in five days— five days from tomorrow, I mean," the man lazily said. "The brackets and your opponent will be announced three days from tomorrow. One hour before your battle starts, you'll have to notify one of the supervisors about your lineup."

    The supervisors were the people who'd handle everything regarding the tournament after it had already started. That meant Kadabra barriers, creating the outdoor arenas— of which there would be five types— cleaning up after a battle, being the referee… they certainly had their hands full. Apparently, any supervisor inside of this building at the time would do. The tournament would last a total of eighteen days, and it'd be run so that every trainer would at least have a one-day break in between each fight. Battles would be in the double format with four Pokemon each and no switches, so the pairs that you sent out first would be even more important than I thought.

    Only the top four would win a prize, which was ruthless for a tournament of this size. Even the Poketch Company would reward me for the top ten. If you weren't at least a semi-finalist, you wouldn't be winning anything. Well, that was a bit harsh. You would be gaining a lot of battling experience against your peers. There also was no group stage like the Conference. It was just a huge bracket. Along with 500,000 pokedollars, the winner would gain the Hyper Beam TM, which was the Daycare's contribution to the prize pool. Hyper Beam was one of the most powerful, versatile moves ever created, and almost every Pokemon could learn it with enough dedication. It also cost close to a million Pokedollars. Multiple millions, if you wanted a reusable one. Obviously, this meant that the TM was what everyone here was after, not the money. Second place would win 250,000 pokedollars and the Double-Edge TM. Third and fourth— so the semifinalists— would win 100,000 pokedollars and the Protect TM.

    Another Protect would be huge for me, so third wouldn't be that bad, but I actually wasn't that interested in second place. Once upon a time, I had wanted to teach Double-Edge to Princess, but we weren't walking that path any longer. She was a special attacker through and through, and I was going to lean into that. I could, however, sell the TM, so getting second wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

    Hyper Beam, though? The only Pokemon I currently had powerful enough to learn the move were Jellicent, Turtonator, and Tangrowth. Turtonator wasn't going to battle, so I wasn't going to teach him the move, but if I had to pick… I… wasn't sure. Tangrowth combining it with Bind would bring a devastating combo if he could get it off, but Jellicent would have an easier time mastering the move and he would be able to combine it with Mist, which I hadn't used in a while.

    Still, it wasn't like I'd be able to use the move on a regular basis any time soon. It took so much energy out of a Pokemon that only the strongest ones could use it without having to rest afterward, or multiple times in a battle, so it would be more like a final resort attack if I were to win it. Cynthia's Milotic and Garchomp could apparently dish them out like they were nothing, which was terrifying to think about.

    Either way, we were done signing up. In three and a half days, my first opponent would be announced. I was the last one who had signed up, so I joined my friends outside. Cecilia was smiling with her Poketch in hand.

    "Louis, Mira and Maeve made it yesterday, and they're already signed up," she said. "Chase is here too. He's been complaining in the group chat."

    "As always," I sighed. "I guess he wants to see us before he leaves."

    "Does this call for a meeting?" Justin asked.

    "Sure, why not," I shrugged. I bumped an elbow against my old student. "Feeling nervous? You're twitching all over."

    "It feels a lot more official now. The prize pool… made me realize that we three-badge holders are completely out of our depth here."

    "Speak for yourself! Don't be such a downer," Pauline groaned. "I don't want my rival to be such a wet blanket. I'm gonna get as far as I can."

    "You were just like me a few days ago," Justin said. He yelped when she pinched him in the arm and twisted.

    I grinned, but then my eyes settled on Denzel and Cecilia. Their eyes were hungry, and they were practically salivating. We were all gunning for first place. If I had to guess, Cecilia was already daydreaming about her Zweilous somehow using two Hyper Beams at once. Her brother was actually famous for his Hydreigon being able to use three. Denzel's Milotic would be able to learn the move, but Sylveon… maybe he could too.

    And there was also his sixth Pokemon to consider, although I wasn't sure what it would be.

    There was too much at stake to go in completely blind here. The money— on top of the bonus from the Poketch Company— would be crucial for my Shiny Stone, and the TMs were too valuable. I was still going to go in partly blind, but I would at least look up what Pokemon my opponents had so I wouldn't be completely blindsided.

    "There are only five Centers here, and they're all fucking packed," Denzel said, browsing his phone. "There are definitely rooms left, but we definitely won't be next to each other. Bummer."

    I opened my Poketch and scrolled to see if I had missed anything regarding the Poketch Company. There were just a few messages from Melody asking me to call her before the tournament so that she could give me some pointers on how to behave for the coming interviews.

    Right. Interviews. I sighed.

    "Chase is in the Center the closest to route 210," Denzel said. "Louis and his group are there too, so we might as well go and see what's up. Maybe we can all room there."

    "Sure!" I cheered.

    I was happy that we were meeting everyone again so soon, even though Chase was probably leaving tomorrow. I doubted that I'd see him before Veilstone after that, but I just hoped he'd get what he wanted in Celestic.

    We had walked for twenty minutes, and we were still nowhere close to the Center. It was at times like these that I missed what big cities had to offer. Public transportation was a blessing. I stared up into the sky and almost swore.

    There were damned trainers flying on their Pokemon to quicken their travel time! Damn it, I was jealous. There were a few flying types without trainers too. Must have been wild. Wild Pokemon in towns and cities were known to be peaceful.

    "I'll have to tell you guys something in private after this— you know what, I'll just do it when everyone meets," Cecilia said after looking worryingly at her Slowking. Along with Togetic, he was the only Pokemon out, at the moment.

    We hesitantly nodded, and another twenty minutes later, we were at the Pokemon Center. We gave all of our Pokemon to Nurse Joy and booked our rooms, although as Denzel had said, we would all be on opposite corners of the Center. I'd still need to see Nurse Joy about telepathy, but that could wait until later. We knocked on Chase's door, ignoring the attention we were getting, and the boy let us in.

    "Arceus, it smells so fucking bad in here. Open a window!" Pauline yelled.

    "Nice greeting, asshole. I just finished working out, so if you don't like it, leave," Chase said.

    I broke out into laughter. Before, his temperament would have angered me, but I just found it funny now. I wondered how it felt, to just say whatever was on your mind at all times. Even Pauline wasn't that blunt. The boy wiped the sweat off his body with a towel and opened his window, bringing in a cooling breeze.

    "Nice to see you again," I said. "Bummer that you won't be able to participate."

    "I know," he said, his eyes downcast. "I almost considered signing up anyway, but since I'd win, it would last too long and I wouldn't be able to fit in my trip to Celestic. Route 210 is long as hell."

    "Are you well-read on it?" Denzel asked.

    "A decent amount. I won't be going in blind."

    "Good. The fog is vicious, so make sure you're prepared."

    My mind flashed back to one of the graves in the Lost Tower. Land Of The Fog. Could it have meant route 210?

    "And Pastel, I have something to tell you before I dip."

    My eyes widened. "Tomorrow morning? I'll be there. I've got to start preparing anyway."

    "No, I mean tonight. S'alright if you don't want to though."

    "No, no, I'll stick around."

    A few minutes later, Louis, Maeve and Mira entered the room. Mira was as cheerful as always, and Maeve looked extremely pale. She was probably nervous about the tournament. I gasped in surprise when I saw a Combee flying above Louis' head. Two of the heads looked absolutely cheerful, and the other was sleeping. It was the cutest thing I'd ever seen. We all greeted each other with hugs or waves depending on how close we were, and Mira couldn't help herself from commenting on the room's smell. Chase just ignored her, though, and he got up from his bed as soon as she sat next to him.

    "Are you avoiding me?" The pink-haired girl said.

    "Obviously."

    "Come on," she whined. "Let's be friends!"

    "Nah, I'm good."

    "Louis!" I exclaimed. "When'd you get that?!"

    "Good afternoon to all of you," he smiled. He seemed a lot happier— no, happy was the wrong word. He was probably feeling a weight off his shoulder now that his dad was behind bars. Plus, he'd managed to get the money out of his private account out, so he wouldn't have to worry about that. "I caught her on one of the honey trees on route 209. She seemed to have been kicked out of her hive."

    "That's two rescues in a row," Maeve said. "First Pawniard, now Combee."

    "So now you talk!" Mira laughed. "You should have seen her when we signed up for the tournament. She didn't eat anything the entire day. She wasn't even nervous against Fantina."

    "You don't understand," she shook her head. "The last time I was in a tournament, it did not go well, and it sapped me of all my confidence. I still haven't recovered."

    "Sorry," Louis said.

    "You were better," she shrugged. "I did give you the finger afterward."

    "Aww, such wonderful memories! While you all were kicking around Floaroma, I was in Canalave beating Byron's ass!"

    Canalave… right. Lauren had taken the same path as Mira, and she was also here somewhere. I had her number, so I hoped that we'd be able to meet before the tournament began. Despite the potential danger… I would have liked to introduce her to the group. She was a lonely girl, just like Chase had been, and I felt like friends would help her get out of her shell. Plus, I felt like I owed Craig with how he had recommended me to the Poketch Company. With how much he doted on her, I knew that he'd be happy if I helped his sister.

    Although she could berate her brother like there was no tomorrow.

    I'd keep her a secret for now, at least until she gave me the okay. I unlocked my phone and shot her a message, and I was surprised to see that she saw it immediately, although she didn't answer.

    Left on read again, I thought with a shrug. I focused back on the conversation.

    "Anyway, Louis didn't even check to see if Combee was a male or a female before he caught her! He would have kept her even if she'd been a male," Maeve said.

    "Male Combee are known to be extremely weak since they don't evolve," Justin nodded.

    "I saw a Pokemon in need, and I wanted to rescue her," Louis said. The bug type lazily buzzed above his head. "She couldn't survive for long outside of her hive. I won't be using her in the tournament, though."

    "That's fair," Denzel nodded. "Anyway, Cece you had something to tell us…?"

    "Yes. It's about the tournament— sorry if you feel excluded, Chase."

    "Nah, go ahead. I don't care."

    Cecilia continued. "Close the window and the curtains."

    We frowned, but Chase obliged her.

    "You know how I used Fletchinder and Slowking to spy on all of you?" She asked. We nodded. The only one who had really cared was Pauline since she considered it an unfair, dirty tactic. "It's already started here."

    "Hm?" Denzel raised an eyebrow.

    "While we were walking here, I had Slowking out, right?" She asked. "We had a few Pokemon following us, trying to catch on to what we were saying. Luckily, we didn't really talk about anything of note, but they were here. One of them was so small that Slowking could barely even sense it. One was a ghost of some kind, he didn't exactly know. According to him, those feel like holes rather than presences, so he can easily tell. The others were all flying types or Pokemon capable of flight."

    "Oh, I thought those were wild," Denzel said.

    "Me too!" I yelled.

    "No, they were trained. They were explicitly following us. We're all well-known, so we'll be targets for spying."

    "Right, Craig talked to me about this at Savika's cabin," I muttered. "He said that trainers at the top spy on each other a whole lot to try to figure out the new techniques that they'll bust out at the Conference months in advance. That's why he wanted to train on Mount Coronet after gathering all the badges."

    "He has eight now, so he should be on his way," Denzel said.

    "Damn assholes," Pauline said. "That shit should be banned."

    "Really? I think it adds to the enjoyment," Mira shrugged. "Makes it feel official and serious, you know?"

    "But wait, the odds of them facing us are astronomically low," I said.

    "They're not taking any chances," Denzel said. "But when we're assigned an opponent, expect that person to start gathering information on us, not only online, but through spying. Is that what you're saying?'

    Cecilia nodded. "Yes. Of course, I am also suggesting you do the same, if you wish. I certainly will."

    "Your team is kind of tailor-made for that," Denzel said. "At least until Fletchinder evolves. She's small and quiet."

    "And I will take every advantage at my disposal to get ahead."

    The room fell silent for a few seconds, and everyone was no doubt thinking about spying methods. I didn't exactly want to do it, mostly because I wanted to get better at improvising, but if I got further in the tournament… I'd probably have to start doing so eventually not to fall behind. But who…? Togetic could fly, I suppose, but unlike most flying types, her hearing wasn't that good— only slightly better than a human. The others were lost causes, since they were too big.

    Jellicent… well, there was that thing that Mathilda had told me about him, but I still had no idea how to go about increasing his ghostly side. If I did, though, it would probably mean that he'd be able to disappear and reappear like true ghosts.

    Right now, though? It was a bust, and I could easily see who had come to the same conclusion as I had. Justin, Louis and Mira tried to hide their disappointment, but I could read them easily. Pauline wasn't even going to try. Mira had her Haunter, but she probably didn't want to risk him being alone with any humans. Still, if she was signing up, she'd at least figured out how to get him to fight without killing things, unless she'd caught something else. I had studied up a bit on her after meeting her in Fantina's gym, and I knew that she also owned a Kirlia, Magnezone, and Kadabra, although one of those might have evolved by now.

    Cecilia had her Fletchinder and Slowking tactic. Denzel had his Froslass, although his lack of psychic would probably hamper his understanding, but maybe Sylveon would be able to relay the information. Maeve— which I had also studied on— had her Staravia, which had excellent hearing.

    "None of that shit will matter the further in you go, though," Chase shrugged. "Near the end of the tournament, you'll have seen your opponents battle at least a few times."

    "Is that your attempt to cheer me up? Thanks Chasey!" Mira said.

    "Don't you even dare call me that."

    "Well, it depends on if they try to sneakily learn a move during the tournament, but yes," Cecilia said. "It will mostly matter for the early rounds. The gist of what I was trying to say is, be careful, and work as secretly as you can. As it stands, nowhere is far enough away to protect you from prying eyes, but maybe be on the lookout for any Pokemon and don't reveal anything crucial."

    "Thanks for the warning, that completely went over my head. Big tournaments are something else," Maeve said.

    "Yeah, there's this excitement that's been building up," I smiled. "I can barely stop myself from shaking."

    "Man, getting that 500k would be sweet," Denzel said.

    "The money is obviously second to Hyper Beam," Cecilia retorted.

    "Well, I need to save. I've got a Shiny Stone to get for Roselia, and… uh something else."

    "You're terrible at hiding things, but I'll let that go," Pauline said.

    "What were you even thinking when planning your team? You need to be rich for all that stuff," Maeve said. "I barely managed to afford a Water Stone for my Staryu."

    "Well, I was a kid with big dreams," Denzel said. "I'll figure it out."

    Soon enough, people started filtering out. Mira was the last one to leave, although she asked Chase to stop ignoring her texts. I was oblivious, and even I knew that she was obviously crushing. Well, he didn't appear to care whatsoever though, so that was too bad. I stayed behind to hear what he had to say to me.

    "Ahem," he coughed. "Thanks for hearing me out, Pastel, I appreciate you."

    "Hm? What's wrong?" I said, suddenly worrying. This wasn't like him.

    "I didn't really want to talk about this, but Riolu wanted me not to keep it all bottled up, and he said that he didn't mind if I told people. Since you're kind of the closest friend I have, I felt like you should be the one to hear this."

    I was his closest friend? Arceus, I was going to tear up.

    "Why are you crying? I didn't even start."

    "Uh, it's nothing, just some dust in my eye," I said. I opted to sit at the edge of his bed, and I waited for him to start.

    "Did you think I'd fall for that? Whatever, it's about Celestic, but you probably guessed it already. Riolu… Riolu isn't exactly mine. He was originally my mother's, and they were both born in Celestic. She died when she gave birth to me… the fucking shitty hospitals in the Iron Islands are probably to blame, but I can't even bring myself to be sad about it. It's like… she was never there, you know? I don't remember her. I never knew her. It's like this gaping hole inside of me. Something is just missing," he said, gripping his shirt tightly at his chest.

    "Oh. I… I had no idea about any of that. Sorry."

    "Nah, not your fault. I mean, I've only told my team this, so it's not like I expected you to know. Anyway, my mom met my dad when he traveled through Celestic, and long story short, he charmed her pants off so much that she ran away with him after leaving her folks a letter."

    "What? How old were they?"

    "Sixteen."

    "What about her family?"

    "They hated his guts."

    Yeah, that made sense.

    "Err, something happened to my dad, and he lost his Pokemon… he never told me what it was, but I was pretty sure that they died, and from the way he kept blaming himself his entire life, he probably fucked up somewhere. He retired during his second year, and my mother joined him when he went back home in the Iron Islands. She wasn't exactly a trainer. She was just hanging out with him during his travels with Ri. When she died, Riolu passed on to my father."

    I felt my throat tighten. From his tone, I could tell that his father was—

    "My father died. Recently. I don't want to go into it," he said. I nodded and let him continue. "Riolu was passed onto me… but even now, I don't feel like he's mine. It feels wrong. Like I stole him, or something, I dunno. When my mother died, her family apparently came to take her body to bury her in Celestic, which is why we're going. We want to visit her grave for the first time. It's really important to us both… and maybe I'll go see my grandparents in the process. They know I exist, but they never contacted me or wrote anything. They probably despise me too, but I want to hear it from their mouths."

    "Maybe they…" I trailed off. I knew he wouldn't like pointless optimism. That wasn't how to cheer him up.

    "I dunno, I don't really care what they think of me. I mostly just want to learn about my mom through them. Dad never spoke about her, since it hurt him too much. Blew up at me a couple times when I brought her up as a kid," he said. "I don't even have a picture of her left… we lost our house— I—"

    He exhaled and clenched his forehead. For a second, I thought he'd cry, but he didn't.

    "So yeah, It'd be nice if they had a picture to give me. I have one of my old man. Want to see?"

    "Of course."

    Chase grabbed his Poketch and scrolled through his pictures until he reached one of him and his father from one and a half years ago. They didn't share that much in common, although they had the same eyes and face shape. His face was caked with dirt and dust, and he wore a large, yellow helmet with a headlight. What surprised me was that Chase used to look like a stick. He'd been thinner than even Justin, which was a far cry from what he looked like now. Maybe expecting his thirteen-year-old self to be well-built was too much, but I'd expected to see traces of it. He'd also been extremely pale compared to the relatively tanned face he had now.

    "He was really happy there," Chase smiled.

    I offered a smile of my own when I saw how widely Chase was grinning in the picture. "You were happy too. I've never seen you smile like… ah, sorry."

    I was so dumb.

    "Don't worry, I won't give you shit for it. My dad was a miner, if it wasn't obvious. That day, he and his buddies found a new section of the cave in the mines that had a lot of untapped iron. It was supposed to be the key to getting us the fuck out of our misery… miners in the Iron Islands are paid by how much ore they bring back on a daily basis, and with a vein like this, we were finally going to move to Canalave."

    What happened?

    The words died in my throat. I couldn't ask.

    Chase closed his phone. "I guess that's that."

    "Yeah. Thanks for opening up to me."

    "Thank Ri the next time you see him, he's the one that convinced me. I'll be leaving tomorrow morning."

    "Good luck."

    "Thank you, Grace. I mean it."

    My eyes widened at his use of my name, but it didn't end there. He offered me a tight hug, and I was sure I heard him quietly sob in my arms. I just rubbed his back and let him cry.

    "It's okay."

    He'd been carrying this alone for so long.


    A/N: All of the OC trainers our characters will fight against were made by people on my Discord, so keep that in mind as we enter this arc. The pacing might get a bit slow/tedious, but I'll try my best to intersperse battles with other things. I'll credit the user after each fight. The next chapter is Interlude - Forums IV
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2023
  21. Popoley224

    Popoley224 Versed in the lewd.

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    Yeah they got fucking killed. Mining company manufactured a cave in so they didn’t have to shell out the explorers fee for Chase’s dad and friends.
     
    SailorOfMyVessel likes this.
  22. Threadmarks: Interlude - Forums IV
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    INTERLUDE - FORUMS IV

    Welcome to the League Circuit Forums! The best website to get any League/Circuit related news!

    General → Politics

    Topic: The League brings down the hammer

    Original Poster: Elena_Varena (Verified Trainer)

    Date: January 15th 20XX


    Ladies and gentlemen, it happened.

    Hundreds of people got arrested by the League today for working with Team Galactic one way or another. More than one third of the Directorate is now empty, and a bunch of higher-ups in the Bianchi Conglomerate are in jail awaiting trial, and none of them have bond! That means they’re going to be rotting in there for months.

    Good riddance.

    I’ve skimmed the investigation, and the level of corruption here was seriously egregious. Some of these politicians bought new houses, cars, bought their kids into universities, went on fucking vacation with blood money from Team Galactic and the Bianchis. The League was very thorough and shut up every person accusing them of abuse of power reaaaaally quickly with these. This is nothing like the National Security Emergency Act, which was morally ambiguous at best (I don’t think we’re really getting
    any information from all the grunts they’re extracting memories from, or Team Galactic would have been dealt with already). This was iron tight. No holes, from what I can see, and people are on the League’s side here.

    Just a few months ago, people were saying that Cynthia was fucked because of Vernon Harper’s upheaval, but now he’s back in charge, and Cynthia will be able to get any bills she wants passed, starting with the nationalization of the Bianchi Conglomerate. Potions and other items should hopefully return to their normal price, and there will finally be a cap on their price.

    So what are everyone’s thoughts on the situation? Personally, I support this, but I’m curious.


    ►Vivalajoy

    I support it 100%. I don’t think people realize how close to a disaster this could have been. First, there’s the attack on Fantina, then Abel is linked with Team Galactic, then this? If the League hadn’t done anything, they would have been signaling that they were powerless.

    ►Impala07

    I don’t know, Cynthia basically controlling the entire government (civilian and trainer) makes me anxious. All the new candidates presenting themselves for the special elections are her ardent supporters. The government doesn’t give your freedom back after taking it away.

    ►Kevin_Montpellier (Verified Trainer)

    Now you’re just being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. Cynthia already gave up her power once, you moron. Why wouldn’t she do it again when the threat is dealt with? Just get Team Galactic out of Sinnoh and everything can return to normal. I think the League’s been very honest with us with all the reports they released. They could have said nothing.

    ►Luna_Frances (Verified Trainer)

    That probably would have made the protests a few months ago look like a nursery home. They couldn’t have done that, it would have destroyed their image, even if they would have been in the right.

    ►Impala07

    Whatever you guys say. All I’m saying is that don’t come complaining when we end up in a de-facto dictatorship like Kanto and Johto where the Indigo League runs everything and the people just have to watch.

    ►Luna_Frances (Verified Trainer)

    Okay, drama queen. We’ll see what happens. All I’m saying is that we literally have proof of all this wrongdoing and Cynthia’s proven to be reasonable.

    ►RumblingRun9

    Let me get slightly off-topic here. Don’t you guys find it weird how Kanto and Johto hate each other and yet they’re basically run by the same League? How do they even function?

    ►Dimdamdam

    The Elite Four and the Champion all hate each other and have a region they support. Lance and Koga favor Kanto, Will and Karen favor Johto. Bruno’s usually neutral on things. The meetings must be tense as hell, huh? It’s basically a constant political civil war, it’s a wonder how those two regions even function, but it’s the only way they found to stop wars from starting again. Better a political civil war fought with backroom deals and words than an actual hot war.

    ►Leonard_Morgenstern (Verified Trainer)

    Personally, I won’t ever be going to Kanto or Johto, especially with how obsessed with bloodlines they are. I mean, it does mean that families can keep their supernatural abilities like Sabrina and pass them down, but I think this shit borders on eugenics.

    ►Elena_Varena (Verified Trainer)

    You are getting off-topic indeed. If you want to talk about Kanto/Johto politics, there are other threads for that.

    ►Marvin_Samson (Verified Trainer)

    What I’m wondering about is Harvey Bianchi’s son. He was meant to take over the business, no? Does he expect me to believe that he knew nothing about this? Maybe that’s a part of why he wasn’t that outspoken against his father when compared to Pauline King or Cecilia Obel. If he knew, then he deserves to be punished too, especially when he’s going to keep a large sum of money. Money that his dad made unethically!

    ►OrangeRexCounty

    You’re missing the forest for the trees. Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the correct one. He was just tricked by his old man, and he was probably kept in the dark his entire life.

    ►Pauline_King (Verified Trainer)

    Respectfully, go fuck yourself and die in a ditch. You have no idea what you’re talking about, and you should stop spreading rumors. We have enough on our plate.

    ►Marvin_Samson (Verified Trainer)

    Okay, I’m genuinely sorry. Your friend got attacked by Abel, right? I shouldn’t have brought that stuff up. I think it’s fun to theorize, but I forget that you guys are living, breathing human beings sometimes.

    ——

    Trainers → Events

    Topic: The coming Solaceon tournament and who to watch out for

    Original Poster: Goalducc42

    Date: January 23rd 20XX


    So my account’s blown up these past few weeks thanks to people enjoying my general analysis of promising trainers. I usually focus on Cecilia Obel (huge fan, you couldn’t tell by my profile picture), but since there’s been a lot more eyes on my stuff than I expected, I figured that I’d start tracking and analyzing other rising stars this year, and I have! Today’s post will be a bit special though, since we’ll be focusing only on the first-years, not on anyone else.

    Discounting the Conference, this event’s going to be the biggest tourney of the year. It’s backed by the Solaceon Daycare and the prize pool is fucking insane. Hyper Beam?! Everyone wants to get their hands on that! There are a few people missing here that would have been on the list, but are unfortunately not participating, like Chase Karlson or Barry Lane, so don’t complain about them not being there! Anyway, I’m going to try to lay out the top contenders for the tournament, so here goes. But wait! I hear your sniveling little voices asking the question: why should you listen to me and not someone else? Well, I’ve been tracking multiple trainers for more than a decade, and I’ve had my post shouted out by none other than Candice herself! @Candicefitinurmouf is her burner account, and she accidentally leaked it a few weeks ago after forgetting to log out and complimenting herself. Anyway, she’s been under a lot of my posts, and she’s complimented me.

    Like usual, I’ll be checking out their Pokemon one by one. By the way, this isn’t in any order in particular, so don’t put words in my mouth and start fighting about rankings. Also, keep in mind that the known moves list will most likely be
    incomplete.

    Cecilia Obel

    You know me, so I won’t even bother to give an excuse as to why I’m starting with Cecilia first. Despite an average showing against Fantina that made a lot of people start saying that she’s overrated, I still think that she’s a top contender. And don’t you dare call me biased.

    Zweilous is still as monstrous as ever. Some people made fun of it for getting manhandled by Fantina’s Dhelmise, but you didn’t actually see how greatly it’s been improving. The main threat a trainer would have to think about when facing Zweilous is its insanely high defense, as we saw during the double battle between Cecilia and her group. It can fight for days, and its offense is no joke either. In that department, it’s not as dominant as it used to be compared to the competition, and I’ll get to that later, but you can’t ignore the fact that it can use two attacks at once, and is one of the rare Pokemon able to do so. It has the most destructive potential of all the Pokemon on this list. Dragon Pulse is its most potent attack, but it has been somewhat lacking in variety, which I think is its biggest weakness. Let’s hope Cecilia’s remedied that.

    Known moves: Bite, Take Down, Dragon Breath, Dragon Pulse, Incinerate, Crunch, Hyper Voice, Stomping Tantrum, Thunder Fang

    Known ability: Hustle - source: only known Zweilous ability.


    Slowking is who I think is Cecilia’s strongest Pokemon by a wide margin. The sheer amount of utility it has with Psychic is invaluable in battle. It can be used defensively, offensively, or as a method to restrain opponents. Not only that, but it has excellent survivability with an already decent bulk and Slack Off. Anyone who wants to take Slowking down will need to have dark or ghost type moves, otherwise I don’t see anything getting past its defenses. If I had to find one fault, it’s that his water type moves are somewhat lacking, but focusing on improving its psychic abilities isn’t exactly a mistake, with how useful they have been in every showing so far.

    Known moves: Tackle, Water Gun, Confusion, Psychic, Water Pulse, Slack Off, Disable, Zen Headbutt

    Known ability: ??? - not Regenerator - source: doesn’t seem to heal when switched out


    Fletchinder is still powerful, but you can definitely tell that her not evolving is starting to hold her back. She’s going to be fighting in a tournament full of fully evolved Pokemon, and despite her speed, she won’t have the firepower to compete. We directly saw this when it took her ages to take down Grace Pastel’s Tangrowth despite having the type advantage. She’s also ridiculously frail, and one or two attack is enough to break one of her wings and ground her. Now, all of this doesn’t mean that Fletchinder is useless. The tournament is held in a doubles format, so her speed can make her a formidable support Pokemon. As it stands, though, I don’t see her pulling much weight unless she evolves.

    Known moves: Peck, Acrobatics, Tailwind, Quick Attack, Ember, Fire Spin, Agility

    Known ability: Gale Wings - source: Incredible speeds at the start of every battle


    Scyther, Cecilia’s final Pokemon was finally revealed, and I’ve gushed about it already. It’s another speedster, and it can almost rival Fletchinder when he really gets going. It has a decent amount of power behind those scythes too, but the problem is that it just doesn’t listen to what Cecilia says. It’s not like she even tries to order it beyond simple suggestions either. In a singles format, maybe Scyther would be useful, but right now, I just think that it’ll get in the way.

    Known moves: Quick Attack, X-Scissor, Air Slash, Agility, Slash

    Known ability: Swarm - source: seemingly grows stronger the closer it is to fainting

    TLDR: Slowking and Zweilous will have to carry, because the other two aren’t good enough to win the entire tournament.


    Denzel Williams

    Denzel, Denzel, Denzel. What to say about him? He’s gotten a lot of fans this past month, and he’s the one with the most presence in the group. Even Grace Pastel, who’s sponsored by the Arceus damned Poketch Company, manages to keep things relatively quiet, but you hear about him everywhere you go, and he’s one of the most documented trainers on here.

    Not that I’m a hater. He’s got the skill to back his fame, and I think he’s being slept on.


    Sylveon is a creepy little bastard, and I seriously don’t get the people who call it cute. I mean, every time the damn thing battles, it looks like it’s having the time of his life. Not that Pokemon don’t enjoy battling, but something about that smile and that blood-soaked fur keeps me up at night. Anyway, that’s not the point. Ever since the double battle, Sylveon’s had some kind of blurry armor around him, and I have no idea what it is. Maybe some fairy type specialist can chime in, but I’m stumped. The armor means that it can take a ton of hits without going down, and even though its offensive capabilities are average, it ends up winning anyway. I’ll let someone else contribute to how someone would face this, since I’m out of my depth.

    Known moves: Bite, Quick Attack, Play Rough, Double Kick, Detect, Sand Attack, Baby-Doll Eyes, Swift, Disarming Voice, Fairy Armor(?)

    Known ability: Pixilate - source: Swift produces pink, fairy energy-induced stars


    Roselia is Denzel’s frailest Pokemon, but that doesn’t mean much considering their unusual endurance. Some people underestimate it, but its poison is seriously potent. Let’s remember that it managed to melt off a Cetoddle’s fat layer during its battle with Candice, which is an incredible feat, and its poison has only improved since then. Toxic and Venoshock is a vicious combo that people will have to watch out for. Gotta keep working on those grass moves, though!

    Known moves: Poison Sting, Stun Spore, Poison Powder, Toxic, Mega Drain, Venoshock, Seed Bomb, Razor Leaf, Leech Seed, Magical Leaf

    Known ability: Poison Point(?) - source: incredibly skilled with poison type moves, but not 100% certain.


    Lopunny has been the butt of a few jokes after its relatively bad performance in the group’s double battle. Despite a mid-battle evolution, it didn’t contribute much, and Grace’s fans got a bit toxic regarding that (he was not holding her back, you imbeciles), but I’ll restrain from making too many comments, or I’ll be here for hours. Lopunny’s strength is in her versatility and her speed. Denzel’s team isn’t known for their speed, but Lopunny can seriously go toe-to-toe with a lot of speedsters, and she tends to set the pace of the battle with her attacks. If I get to give advice, don’t forget to breathe and slow down the pace, otherwise you’ll probably lose.

    Known moves: Quick Attack, Double Kick, Fire Punch, Defense Curl, Power-up Punch, Circle Throw, proto Bounce, Shadow Ball

    Known ability: Limber(?) - source: Sylveon has the harem, not her, so not Cute Charm, and not clumsy enough for Klutz


    Feebas is useless and won’t be battling.

    Froslass is the biggest threat on Denzel’s theme, and he revealed it in a short livestream on Amity Square before leaving for Solaceon. Personally, I would have kept it hidden, but whatever. Thankfully, it’s one of the more common ghosts since it’s relatively easy to get, and that means we know what most are capable of. An unrivaled mastery of Blizzard, and they’re almost impossible to hit in a snowstorm thanks to their Snow Cloak ability (assuming that Denzel’s Froslass has it). Unfortunately, since these are going to be double battles, I doubt that we’re going to see many field-covering Blizzards, but we probably know how it’s going to fight. We saw it happen in the double battle with his rivals: Froslass’ teammate buys time while it uses Blizzard over and over and dominates. Before, charging up the attack took nearly a minute, but now? Your guess is as good as mine. Something tells me that it’s going to be hell for people to face, though.

    Known moves: Icy Wind, Blizzard, Shadow Ball, Hex, Powder Snow

    Known ability: ???

    TLDR: Froslass + X = Insanely hard to beat unless you extensively plan a counter in advance. Just watch for that Froslass.


    Grace Pastel

    The girl everybody’s been talking about, and for a good reason. Rarely does someone dominate Fantina that hard, and she’s recently been sponsored by the Poketch Company! Keep in mind that they have never sponsored a first-year before in the entire history of their sponsorship program, so this is a huge deal. Her fighting style is extremely frightening. She will know exactly what to expect, and when to expect it. It’s like she’s in your own head, and her Pokemon are no joke, either.

    Togetic is cute, but it’s also an incredibly efficient fighter. She doesn’t pack the biggest punch, but her precision is fucking pinpoint. You rarely see a Pokemon push Ancient Power to its limits like this, since trainers are usually content to use the move as a big, imprecise shield or rocks they launch at the enemy. Not this Pokemon. She will penetrate you with drills from the other side of the arena with control that should honestly terrify anyone facing Grace. Not only that, but the move is also incredibly good defensively, as we saw in the double battle I keep bringing up (seriously, go watch it). But it’s not over! It also knows Psychic, which I have no doubt it’ll be able to use as well as Extrasensory. This thing is the definition of a field controller, and facing it will probably make you feel like you’re getting bullied. Focus on it during the fight, or you’ll lose. I’m not kidding.

    Known moves: Pound, Sweet Kiss, Growl, Headbutt, Fairy Wind, Ancient Power, Extrasensory, Thunder Wave, Air Cutter, Wish, Psychic,

    Known ability: ???


    Tangrowth is a truck, plain and simple. It will roll over you and be completely silent while doing so. Seriously, does anyone else find how quiet it is creepy as hell? Tangrowth and Tangela usually have those cute gurgles that people go crazy over, but not this one. Anyway, it’s great defensively, but where it truly shines is its vines. It can hit you with Power Whip or Knock Off, trap you with Bind, or drain your energy with Mega Drain to regenerate itself. Not only that, but it can propel itself with its vines to reach terrifying speeds. This thing is her strongest Pokemon, and I don’t care what anyone says. If you don’t have a powerful fire or poison type, I seriously can’t think of any weaknesses. Even ice or flying wouldn’t be that effective. You just have to brute force and hit it over and over until it falls.

    Known moves: Vine Whip, Absorb, Mega Drain, Stun Spore, Bind, Poison Powder, Leech Seed, Ancient Power, Power Whip, Knock Off

    Known ability: Chlorophyll - source: shown in battle with Gardenia


    Jellicent is one of her strongest. Brine is going to be a terror in the doubles format, and its mastery with Shadow Ball is better than Fantina’s own Frillish. Its defense is mediocre, but it doesn’t matter, since it can regenerate any type of damage with Recover until you exhaust it enough. Not only that, but Water Sport improves its speed to an average level, and its maneuverability in the air is second to none. If you destroy the body completely, it can regenerate from a single speck, so basically from anywhere on the field. You’ll most likely be fighting this one the longest. Jellicent does have a weakness, though! Obliterate the head, and you buy yourself some time where it can’t attack, so if you’ve got to aim somewhere, aim for the head.

    Known moves: Bubblebeam, Night Shade, Absorb, Water Sport, Water Pulse, Hex, Poison Sting, Mist, Acid Armor, Shadow Ball, Recover, Brine,

    Known ability: ??? - not Water Absorb - source: ordered to dodge water type moves during fight with Candice


    Electabuzz is another strong contender. It excels with almost every attack it owns, but it’s also Grace’s frailest Pokemon, which is probably why she taught it Protect. Protect, though, is a move that takes months or even years for a Pokemon to use consistently and quickly, so I doubt that it’ll have improved its use much during the tournament. This thing is good at long-range and close-range, and Grace likes to mix it up depending on who she’s facing (long-range focus vs Candice and Fantina, close-range focus vs Chase and Cecilia), so you’ll have to prepare against both potential scenarios. If the battle lasts long enough and you can exhaust it, it should be beatable. SHOULD.

    Known moves: Thundershock, Swift (and electric variant), Thunder Punch, Charge, Leer, Ice Punch, Thunderbolt, Discharge, Fire Punch, Protect

    Known ability: ??? (Leaning Static) - source: enthusiastic battler, but nowhere near the amount of energy Magmar has


    Larvitar is a weird case. It’s never fought in an official battle before despite Grace owning it for so long, so there’s very little information on it. I managed to track down a few trainers that faced her on route 207, but that information is probably obsolete by now. The gist of it is that Larvitar was good at both control and sheer strength, but again, all of the moves we know are outdated. I’m curious to see if it’ll finally see some fighting. You have an Arceus damned pseudo, use it!

    Known moves: Leer, Tackle, Horn Attack, Rock Throw, Payback, Stomping Tantrum

    Known ability: ???


    Turtonator is, uh, insane. All we have is the records of the havoc it caused in Mount Coronet. It’s capable of heating its surroundings enough to take down the Pokemon that are going to be fighting at Solaceon by just being near them. People don’t give enough rep to the fire typing here. It’s always dragon this, dragon that, well, I’d like to see a dragon win by just standing around, thank you very much. Grace somehow managed to catch it, but we do know that she came out on the other side of that cave with burns all over the left side of her body, so she paid dearly for it. I don’t think she’s capable of using it just yet, though, otherwise I think we would have seen it against Fantina.

    Known moves: Dragon Pulse, Flamethrower, Smokescreen, Bulldoze

    Known ability: Shell Armor - source: only known ability for Turtonator

    TLDR: She will know you inside out, and her Pokemon are powerful. Prepare to think outside the box to trip her up, or enjoy getting rolled while she calls her Pokemon cute nicknames.


    Lauren Goodwill

    Lauren finally started being more public recently, and her annoying stans are going wild over it. I mean, I get it, she’s excellent, but Arceus, go cheer for a coordinator if you’re going to be that dedicated. Anyway, I won’t bring up her relation to her brother here. I’ll be objectively grading her team, and the most recent information we have from her is her battle against Fantina, where she won even more handily than Grace did, although only by a hair if you want to get technical about it. What she’s really known for is her use of custom moves/move combinations, which is something trainers usually don’t do at her level. People usually wait to pad out their teams with all the natural moves they can learn first, but she just started early, and it’s been working. Obviously though, she’s been keeping most of them hidden, so don’t expect much information on those.

    Sceptile evolved during its battle with Fantina, and what it showed us in that short time was nothing short of pure domination. This thing is one of the fastest Pokemon on land, and combined with Overgrow, it wasn’t even close. The only person I’ve seen use that kind of ability that well was Pauline King’s Charmeleon, but with all due respect, she isn’t winning this. Anyway, Sceptile is insanely good at fighting at close range with Leaf Blade, Dual Chop, and Detect. This is what it excels at. It’s essentially a stronger version of Denzel’s Lopunny. You can’t take it in a straight fight, so you’ll have to innovate. Try to lock it down, paralyze or poison it if you can. No custom moves revealed with this Pokemon yet.

    Known moves: Quick Attack, Detect, Leaf Blade, Dual Chop, Mega Drain, Dragon Breath, Double Kick

    Known ability: Overgrow - source: battle with Fantina


    Duosion wasn’t a Pokemon that she used against Fantina, but we do know a few things about it. The Pokemon has two individual brains. That means that it can use two Psychics at once, or combine their strengths into one mega psychic. Needless to say, being able to lock two opponents up with two Psychics is insanely strong in a double battle. It is, however, horribly frail. Like, even frailer than Fletchinder, but it can use a custom move that combines Light Screen and Reflect into one permanent barrier, so you’ll have to break through that if you want to take it down. Not only that, but it can also protect its teammates with psychic barriers. One hit though, and it’s usually done. I think we’ll be seeing it a whole lot due to how useful psychics are in these double battles. Good luck.

    Known moves: Confusion, Reflect, Light Screen, Psychic, Psyshock

    Known ability: ??? - not Regenerator - source: same reason as Slowking


    Magmar saw a lot of use against Fantina, and it took down two Pokemon by itself before going down. It’s arguably her strongest Pokemon even with Sceptile because of the temperature problem (weaker version of Turtonator’s passive heat). Luckily for her opponents, this is a double battle, so it’ll have to hold back in that regard, which is why I think it won’t do that well in this setting. Its fire type attacks are obviously no joke, but the biggest problem is Lava Plume, which again, it won’t be able to use because of friendly fire. See where I’m going with this? Magmar are usually best at fighting alone, and this is no different. That’s not to say it’s incapable of doing anything, though. Confuse Ray is a huge threat, and Lauren has kept practicing the attack enough to even affect Pokemon at her level. Magmar can also use a combination of Flamethrower and Smog which both burn and poison you. It’s a real battle maniac, so don’t expect it to go down with simple water type moves. If it’s ever the last thing on the field, expect it to burn everything in sight.

    Known moves: Ember, Smog, Smokescreen, Flamethrower, Lava Plume, Fire Punch, Confuse Ray, Mega Punch, Flamethrower-Smog combination

    Known ability: Vital Spirit(?) - source: will keep fighting until his body is quite literally broken.


    Lairon is weak. You heard me, it’s her weakest Pokemon, and it will probably be until it evolves into an Aggron. Its offensive power is mediocre at best, and it doesn’t sport any good control to remedy that lack of power. What it does have is an impenetrable defense against any physical attack. And yes, its defense is even better than Cecilia’s Zweilous. With physical attacks, you can forget about the type advantage with this thing. You’ve got to deal damage with special moves, and then it’ll go down relatively quickly. Just like Fletchinder, Lairon is being held back by being stuck in its second stage, but if it evolves during the damn tournament? Y’all better watch out.

    Known moves: Take Down, Metal Claw, Harden, Iron Head, Rock Tomb, Body Slam

    Known ability: Rock Head - source: no recoil from Take Down


    Seismitoad is another one of her stronger Pokemon. We don’t know when it evolved, but it was probably in Mount Coronet where she caught her sixth Pokemon (we’ll get there). This thing is a menace, and it’s capable of flooding the entire field with Muddy Water if it wants to, which makes its Swift Swim ability come into play (possible combo with Duosion? It floats). It keeps an Aqua Ring going at all times to regenerate itself, and its mastery of Earthquake is insane, even though it can’t exactly use it that much yet. Despite what you might think, Seismitoad is capable of singling out a single Pokemon and making the ground shake under their feet only. It also has a completely new move that coats its fist in pressurized water that explodes on contact. Lauren calls it Water Punch, so her naming skills could use some work. Anyway, hit it with as many grass type moves as you can, and it’ll go down. If you can’t do that? You might be out of luck.

    Known moves: Bubblebeam, Aqua Ring, Water Punch, Muddy Water, Mudshot, Earthquake, Drain Punch, Uproar

    Known ability: Swift Swim - source: combo with Muddy Water used in multiple occasions, most recently against Fantina


    Rhydon is Lauren’s sixth Pokemon, and she seemingly didn’t care about the type overlap with her Lairon. Like Grace, she also paid dearly for it and came out with a huge gash on her shoulder (at least according to her fans). This thing tends not to listen to her that much, sort of like Cecilia’s Scyther but slightly better. What’s different with Rhydon is that if it actually listened to what Lauren said, it’d be her strongest Pokemon by far, and the strongest on this list behind Turtonator. These Pokemon are always strong, especially when caught in Mount Coronet, and this one is no exception. Unfortunately though, I doubt we’ll see much of it since I think it’d kill most opponents. There’s also the fact that it’s dumb as hell, and it just flailed around against Fantina without taking down even one Pokemon.

    Known moves: Hammer Arm, Rock Blast, Drill Run, Stone Edge, Bulldoze

    Known ability: ???

    TLDR: Take down Duosion at all costs, and you have a decent chance to win. Sceptile and Seismitoad will probably be used the most. Magmar and Rhydon can’t fight well with others, and Lairon is mid.


    Mira Compton

    This is another one that I feel people have been sleeping on. At first, I thought that she wasn’t going to sign up for the tournament because of the Haunter incident (see her battle with Fantina). People tend to give her a hard time for failing to control her ghost, and I’d recommend the utmost caution when facing it. Who knows if it’ll kill something? Anyway, her Pokemon seem to all specialize in high special attack bar a few exceptions, and she could definitely win this thing.

    Kadabra’s psychic abilities are actually worse than Slowking and Duosion, but where it truly shines is its mastery of Teleport. Yeah, this thing can Teleport all over the field like no tomorrow, and it seemingly has a bottomless pit of energy to keep going. This is a perfect remedy to how frail it is. It wasn’t even hit once by any of Fantina’s Pokemon, and it actually has decent coverage with Charge Beam, Energy Ball, Dazzling Gleam and what I assume will be Shadow Ball from Fantina’s gym, so at least its average skill with psychic abilities wasn’t for nothing. It also can transfer its status ailment onto you with Psycho Shift, so watch out for that. Try to hit it a few times and it’ll go down. Not her strongest Pokemon, but definitely her most annoying.

    Known moves: Confusion, Teleport, Psychic, Charge Beam, Energy Ball, Dazzling Gleam, Psycho Shift

    Known ability: Inner Focus(?) - source: never seems to be interrupted when focusing on using psychic type moves.


    Kirlia is unsurprisingly being held back by its second stage, but it’s a lot stronger than Lairon or Fletchinder. The weird thing about this Pokemon is that despite them being usually chill, it’s one of the most brutal Pokemon on this list. It will hold your Pokemon with Psychic and kick them using some kind of custom ‘Psychic Kick’ move. It doesn’t really have a name, and Mira never calls it out. In fact, Mira doesn’t really communicate with her Kirlia at all when fighting, which is the main problem you’ll face. And it’s not because of a laissez-faire approach like Scyther or Rhydon, but because it appears that Kirlia can sense what Mira wants her to do through the emotions that she feels during the battle. Still, it shouldn’t be that much of a problem, especially when compared to the next two Pokemon on this list.

    Known moves: Confusion, Psychic, Psychic Kick, Draining Kiss, Disarming Voice, Psybeam

    Known ability: ???


    Haunter is a monster, plain and simple. It’s basically a stronger version of Fantina’s Haunter without the illusions, and it has a bigger focus on its poisonous nature. This thing knows Toxic and Hex, so that’ll be what you have to worry about during most battles, but it also knows Curse, which is an extremely annoying move to deal with! Let me remind you that switching in this tournament is not allowed, so facing Haunter will basically be a race against the clock.

    Known moves: Lick, Curse, Hex, Toxic, Smog, Shadow Ball, Sucker Punch, Shadow Claw, Night Shade

    Known ability: Levitate - source: only ability known to Haunter


    Magnezone is by far her strongest, and Mira managed to evolve it during her travels through Mount Coronet. Not only does it have high defenses, but its mastery of Lock-On means that it will never miss an attack unless you have a teleporter. Flash Cannon and Thunderbolt are its bread and butter. Little move variety just like Zweilous, so you have that going for you. Just blast it with fire type moves until it falls, or knock it to the ground and use a ground type move.

    Known moves: Thundershock, Thunderbolt, Flash Cannon, Lock-On, Tri-Attack, Discharge

    Known ability: Analytic(?) - source: is noticeably stronger when moving after its opponents

    TLDR: Annoying as hell to face, lots of gimmicks with Teleportation, Curse and Lock-On. To beat her, you’ll have to fight quickly and decisively.


    ►Will_Bowman (Verified Trainer)

    Excellent writeup, Goalducc. Seriously, it’s your best one yet. Personally, I’ll be at the tournament (second-year here), and I’d rank them like this in terms of who I’d hate to face: Mira>Grace>Denzel>Lauren>Cecilia. Mira’s got that murderous Haunter (I honestly don’t know why they’re allowing her to sign up), and fighting against that Teleporting Kadabra is just too much for me. Not only that, but her Magnezone can counter my water types. Grace just seems like annoying to fight, honestly. Completely unfun. You’ve got to completely change up your style to hope to beat her, but that means you’ll be fighting worse too. Denzel plays the long game with his battles, and I’m not that good at staying focused for long periods of time (big weakness of mine), and that Blizzard you talked about seemed vicious, especially since I’m a water specialist with some… interesting strategies. Lauren could trip me up with her custom moves, but I think I’d be able to take her, especially since I counter three members of her team. Sceptile would probably be a bitch to fight, though, but I’d deal. Cecilia, well, if you deal with Zweilous and Slowking, you’re pretty well positioned to win.

    ►Drew_Cartman (Verified Trainer)

    I think you’re overestimating Denzel and underestimating Cecilia. I’d swap them if I were you. Sure, Denzel might last long, but he lacks the firepower to deal with the Pokemon he’ll be facing. This isn’t the little leagues anymore.

    ►LivingPokedex

    Non battler barging in here. My dad’s a fairy type specialist that works for the League, and I can shed some light on what Sylveon is doing. Most fairies get their power from feelings and emotions. What I think is happening here is that Sylveon is believing so strongly in the fact that it has some sort of shield that it’s manifesting it into reality.

    Before you panic, this has its limits. It’s not about to summon a rain of acid or whatever anytime soon. It’ll keep things small and controlled. Anyway, there is an easy way to counter this, just like how you counter all fairy types: steel and poison. Coat its body with any type of poison type attack, or hit it with a steel type move, and the armor will crumble before your very eyes faster than you can blink. If you don’t have any of those, you can only hit Sylveon enough times to chip away at it, but that’ll take time.


    ►Yasim_Benzema (Verified Trainer)

    Arceus knows that you don’t want your battles with Denzel Williams to last long, or he’ll always win. Thanks for the tip. Also, I don’t appreciate you calling Lairon weak. I own one, it’s just that Lauren isn’t using it to its full potential.

    ►Patcha

    I’m so proud of you Goalducc. Not because of your writeup, but because you finally stopped simping for Cecilia Obel for one Arceus damned post. Finally, people are realizing that she’s overrated. I know it must have taken a lot out of you. Your fingers were probably burning while you were typing this. It honestly brings a tear to my eye! Hope to see more good stuff from you.

    ►Denzel_Williams (Verified Trainer)

    Interesting analysis you got there. You’ve got a knack for these, and I enjoyed reading my part. Mind if I show it to my friends? I’d like to see their reactions.

    ►Goalducc42

    HOLY SHIT I AM NOT WORTHY! Do whatever you want, man, it’s yours! Thank you for stopping by and reading my stuff. Can you let me know what their reactions were?

    ►Denzel_Williams (Verified Trainer)

    Gotcha! Can’t wait to see their faces when I show them this.

    ►Conrad_Amed (Verified Trainer)

    I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust anything that the Hunter family has their hands in whatsoever.

    ►VivenDarris

    Why are people always so fucking paranoid?

    ►Conrad_Amed (Verified Trainer)

    Maybe because I’m a Solaceon native and that they’ve held this town back for centuries just because of their greed, you ass. We could have been just as big as Hearthome without them. I don’t trust the Hunters and I won’t be watching this. Thanks the the analysis anyway.

    ——

    Gyms → Veilstone → Maylene

    Topic: Maylene caught on hot mic

    Original poster: Impala07

    Date: January 18th 20XX


    This is breaking news, and the media’s having a field day with it. Maylene Suzuki is well known for being a hothead, mostly due to how young she is, but this is something else. Below is a video of her criticizing her handlers from the League. If you don’t want to read my explanation and you have the attention span of a Yanmega, there’s a video at the bottom. It’s been a theory for a long time, but now we have confirmation. Maylene doesn’t actually run her gym. It’s all handled directly from agents from the League, and all she does is battle people.

    Some might say that it was obvious due to her age, but the government kept denying it. Now, it’s out in the open, and it’s fucking big. This essentially means that the League was running Veilstone
    directly ever since Maylene ascended to the position of gym leader two and a half years ago, and people don’t take kindly to that stuff, especially since Veilstone’s civilian government’s been sidelined time and time again due to some ‘hidden’ Team Galactic base that the League’s been looking for for months. The mayor was in on it too, and he’s facing calls to resign and the city council is in open rebellion. It’s a mess up there, and I’ll eat my hat if the League puts out a statement instead of just staying radio silent. With their power play against the opposition in the Directorate and the nationalization of the Bianchi Conglomerate (new name still pending), people like me are getting a bit nervous, but I hope things will return to normal when Team Galactic is finally out of the picture.

    ►Landon_Pinion (Verified Trainer)

    She’s a kid, dude. Relax and stop trying to use her for clout. I’m in Veilstone and like usual, the media’s trying to fan the flames. People here don’t give a fuck as long as Team Galactic is dealt with. No one is even trying to organize a protest. We’re all in a united front except ignorant people like you that keep trying to revive controversies. Honestly, I wouldn’t even be surprised if you’re a Galactic member trying to agitate us.

    ►Dashtwoun

    Newsflash, moron, children can’t run entire cities. The League was probably just trying to keep up appearances, but it was obvious if you just used your brain for a single second. For example, why do you think the League even allows for fifteen-year-olds to potentially become the Champion? Do you think that they’d allow a kid to run the entire region and our military apparatus? Of course not. They have handlers for that shit until the kid grows up and learns the ropes. Why would it be different for the Veilstone gym?

    ►Kendrick_Shepherd (Verified Trainer)

    Also, you’re trying to mislead people here. The League never said that Maylene ran her own gym alone, they said that she was getting help multiple times. Looking at your history, all you do is complain about the League, but never about the Directorate, and it’s also not even a year old. I honestly think you’re a spy, I’m going to report your account. Can’t have any more infiltrations. Good thing the League added a tip line for this shit.

    ►Impala07

    So this is what it’s come to then? We’re creating such a paranoid atmosphere that anyone who doesn’t conform to the typical opinion is a member of Team Galactic? What happened to free speech? I wasn’t even that against Maylene or anything, I was just reporting on what happened.

    ►Freddie00Y

    Nah, man. I’m reporting you too, you’re sus. Your last five posts have been complaining about the League. I’m sorry, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    ►Impala07

    Fuck you. What if they show up at my house?

    ►Kendrick_Shepherd (Verified Trainer)

    If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.

    ——


    General → History_Discussion

    Topic: Sigilyph spotted on route 210

    Original poster: Christian_Dewitte (Verified Trainer)

    Date: January 20th 20XX


    Hey, I know this isn’t exactly the right category for this post, but there aren’t enough categories as it is, so please spare me, moderators. Below is a picture of a Sigilyph that my buddy spotted on his way to Celestic. It’s blurry, but you can clearly tell what it is. No other Pokemon has those weird ass wings and that body shape. To be more precise, he spotted it up in the cliffs near the halfway point of the route, and it escaped into the sky before he could catch it to sell it back to the Daycare.

    Now, why is this significant? Well, any trainer worth their while can tell you that Sigilyph are only found in the wild in Unova’s desert, but only history and archeology nerds like me can tell you that the presence of
    any Sigilyph means that an ancient city or civilization is nearby. They’re known to only patrol the streets of their destroyed/lost cities even thousands of years after the fact, and they always take the same pathing/route like an AI in a video game. Over. And. Over. So why did this one escape? Well, I don’t exactly know, but it’s bound to be interesting. I’ve contacted some of my archeology pals over in Veilstone, and they plan on making the trip over there to check it out. We could be on the verge of a discovery that redefines history as we know it! Did a group of settlers from Unova make the trek to Sinnoh and settle there? I’ll try to keep you posted!

    ►Worldwiser

    Interesting theory, but what if that’s just some Unovan trainer’s Pokemon that was flying around? If it was a whole group, then maybe I’d be inclined to believe you, but this is circumstantial at best, and your friends are probably going to waste their time. And where would this even be hidden? You’d think the rangers would have stumbled upon it, they know every route like the back of their hands.

    ►Anna_Cammy (Verified Trainer)

    Agree with the above statement, but there’s more. This is ancient civilization we’re talking about, right? Why would they settle down on those mountains where agriculture is impossible? At least Celestic sits on a flat plateau that goes on for miles, but the location you’re talking about makes no sense. The only way this could be possible is if this Sigilyph’s coming from a lot further than you think it is, which makes your whole expedition to route 210 moot.

    ►Fuu-chan

    First, the rumors about fairies on route 215, now this? Kind of wack, I wonder what’s going on.

    ►Untitled_05

    Blurry picture tbh, can’t see jack shit. Probably some clout goblin looking to get famous.

    ►Christian_Dewitte (Verified Trainer)

    The first two of you make good points, and I’m happy this section of the forums is more active than I thought. I still think it’s too early to give up. I’m 100% sure there’s something there.

    You’ll see.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2023
  23. Threadmarks: Chapter 143
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
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    CHAPTER 143

    I had left Chase's room now, and I was sure I wouldn't see him again before he left. He had been too embarrassed to even look me in the eye. He wasn't used to showing his softer side to people, and opening up to me had been a first for him. His life had been so difficult… Riolu was the only thing he had left that linked him to his parents. I had been right when thinking of Riolu as a parental figure for Chase. Without the fighting type's guidance, I was sure that he'd still be his hotheaded, isolated self instead of the mellowed-out behavior he had adopted now. I'd have to thank Riolu the next time I saw him.

    "Well, I've got time," I whispered. "Might as well get the interview guidelines out of the way."

    It wasn't like I could train since my team was still in the nurse's care, and I was sure the Poketch Company would appreciate if I didn't call at the last minute. They'd been nice to me, so returning the favor was the right thing to do. I ignored the trainers' whispers as I made my way to my room. It was the same as always. A single bed that could be a double if you squeezed tightly enough, two nightstands on each side, a desk with a chair, a small bathroom, and a television in the top right corner. I considered just lying down on the bed for a few minutes, but my clothes were dirty, so I opted to shower and change first.

    After a quick one hour power nap, I called Melody.

    "Grace!" She happily said. "We've heard reports of your arrival in Solaceon. I trust your travels went well?"

    "There were a… few hiccups, but sure," I said. "How's work?"

    "Busy, busy, busy," she answered. "I've been doing a lot of things behind the scenes to build up your image, but I won't go into detail, because I'm sure that would give you anxiety. Can't be too anxious before the big day."

    I laughed nervously. "Right."

    "Then the sponsorship department had to deal with a dozen angry trainers calling about your preferential treatment, so that was fun," she dryly said. "Anyway, are you ready for your pointers?"

    "Yup. Hit me with it."

    "With how popular you've gotten, you'll probably be swarmed by interviewers right after your battle. I'm talking dozens of people holding microphones to your face and yelling questions at you. Needless to say, that can be overwhelming for anyone, so just be ready for that."

    "Be ready?"

    "Yeah, you know, take a deep breath, don't make a bad face, smile— smiling is important, but don't overdo it. You don't want it to look fake. Remember, we're building you up as a talented, but authentic trainer."

    "Well, I'll probably be genuinely happy after every battle I win, so that shouldn't be an issue."

    "Okay, good. Now, they're going to ask all kinds of questions. I'm sending you a list of potential ones right now that you'll be ready to answer. The battling, strategy stuff, I assume that you've got handled."

    "Wait, what else would they ask?" I frowned as I opened my laptop.

    "Oh, you know the media."

    I opened my emails and scoffed. "What is this? Relationship questions? Questions about Louis and why we split? The favorite Pokemon on my team? This is just drama bullshit."

    "But it's the reality of the situation. Louis Bianchi will have it worse, you know? I feel bad for the kid, but it is what it is."

    "He can just refuse to answer. I hope he will. Wait, why don't I just refuse—"

    "No, that's not your persona. You're a nice, amenable girl. I know this is hard for you, but you've got to work with us."

    I groaned. "Fine."

    It wasn't like I opposed any of these answers anyway. Questions about Louis, I would just say that it's personal and that I don't feel comfortable talking about it right now. Questions about me and Cece? I'd just say that we're doing really good, but we're keeping the relationship private for now. My Pokemon? I loved them all equally. Even Sunshine had grown on me somehow. There was something about his lazy, grumpy self that endeared me.

    "Remember, they'll try to get you angry to get a reaction out of you. Reporters want nothing but to see a rising talent like you slip up at least once. Controversy is juicy. You're too squeaky clean for their liking."

    "Okay, I'll be nice."

    I did wish I could just have Princess shoo them away, but alas.

    "Okay, we have smiling and the questions down, but you also need to speak with an air of confidence. But! You can't come off as a smug trainer either, you've got to walk the tightrope between the two."

    "You're asking a lot out of me."

    "You didn't actually think we were actually going to let you go through this without practicing, right? We'll get you ready for this, don't worry. If you mess up, I'll be the one on the hook, so your relationship with the company will be safe."

    "That just makes me feel a lot more pressure. I don't want to mess up if your job is on the line."

    "Eh, I'm not nervous about it, so you shouldn't be. Just relax, alright? The first one's always the most nerve-wracking, but after you go through one interview, you realize that it's not that bad."

    "I'll trust you on that."

    "Oh, and here's another point: you're amenable, but you can't get walked over either. What that means is that you'll cut the interview short after around two minutes or so. Just give some excuse about having to check your Pokemon into the Center. It works every time."

    I smiled at that. It wouldn't even be a lie.

    "Now, onto a less cheerful topic. How to handle yourself in case of a loss."

    "I—"

    "Hold on. I know you've handled losses quite well in the past, like in the battle with your friends—"

    Yikes. She hadn't seen my outburst in my Pokemon Center room, that was for sure. I had been a mess for hours.

    "—but it's different when interviewers will potentially try to taunt you afterward. You've got to keep your chin up and say that you fought to the best of your abilities. It's okay to be disappointed, but you'll have to appear calm and levelheaded. There isn't really a way to practice that, so you'll be on your own."

    "Come on, have some faith in me. Maybe I'll win the whole thing," I said, trying to raise the mood.

    "The Poketch Company has full belief in your capabilities, but don't worry if you don't make it to the top ten. There are…" she trailed off, and I heard her type. "There's a cap of 1024 participants, and they're well on their way to filling that out. Even the top fifty would be good enough."

    "I'll make it to the top ten," I said.

    "Well, a little bit of confidence never hurt anyone," she said. "Are you free right now? We can fill in a few hours of practice if you want. Usually, we'd have set up a schedule, but I know how hard it is to get a hold of trainers."

    "Now's fine," I said. She started a video call.

    "Okay, I'll ask you questions, and you'll answer them."

    Melody coughed, clearing her throat, and started again.

    "Ms. Pastel! Ms. Pastel! A moment of your time, please!"

    "Yes…?"

    "No, see, that yes has to be firmer. You were frowning— don't frown. You forgot to smile, too. You've got to relax your shoulders, you look too tense."

    "I didn't even know it started yet!"

    "The interview starts as soon as you look at the camera, Grace," Melody smiled. "Let's start over."

    These were going to be a long few hours.



    Arceus, I was tired. Melody had put me through the wringer with her constant, irritating questions, and I wasn't even close to being up to par. We were going to have a session once per day until my match, which I already dreaded, but suffering now would be better than potentially humiliating the Poketch Company. Thankfully, I was done for the day, and now I was completely free. There were a few things I could try to do.

    Reviewing my battle with Fantina was an option, but I could also try to see if my Pokemon were healed to go and train. There was Cecilia's warning to worry about, but I would rather have trained and get spied on than battle without any kind of strategy in place. I was going in blind with my opponents, but that didn't mean I wasn't going to at least have a modicum of strategizing with my Pokemon. I opted for the second option, and thankfully, my Pokemon were all healed. I also used the opportunity to also ask Nurse Joy about telepathy, and while strong reactions like mine weren't too common, there was nothing to worry about besides the excruciating pain, so that was… nice? I opened my Poketch to check what everyone was doing, and they were mostly out training in different corners of Solaceon. Denzel supposedly had something to show all of us later too, but that could wait, and Cecilia had texted us about stocking back up on potions.

    Still no message from Lauren.

    The best spot to train would be somewhere outside, but the best spot to strategize was actually back in my room. There was no way for anyone to spy on us there if I closed the curtains. My opponent would most likely be someone I had never heard of, but if I could build pairs and talk my team through what we were going to do, the battle would probably go a lot smoother.

    Plus, they had already learned all of their new moves anyway, and I could always go out at night, when there'd be fewer people around. I re-entered my room and released the entire team except Sunshine for obvious reasons. They barely all fit in the Center room at this point, and it'd be even worse when everyone was fully evolved. I had kind of chosen a team full of Pokemon that would end up way bigger than me.

    My Pokemon each greeted me with their respective cries, and Togetic clingingly flew into my arms. I greeted them in return, petting and hugging each one in return.

    "The tournament is in five and a half days," I grinned. "Just like I said, it'll be double battles. That means that you'll have to fight with one another against our opponents."

    The entire team looked at me excitedly, except Buddy, who couldn't care less about fighting for sport. Still, I knew he'd give it his best, so I wasn't worried.

    "The first two of you that I send out will be the most important part of the battle. You need to have good synergy, since you'll be fighting in pairs. Here's what I was thinking…"

    The first, most threatening pair I could think of was Togetic and Tangrowth. Using his Sunny Day, Chlorophyll and brute force combined with support from the air from Princess, I figured that this would be an incredibly hard duo to counter unless the enemy sported an impressive fire type. Poison could be a problem too, but I trusted Togetic was good enough to counter the worse of it with Psychic or Ancient Power while Tangrowth did the heavy lifting.

    Not that she was just support. She could pull her own weight too. I reckoned that I'd keep this one shelved for now.

    And the reason for that was because I wanted to battle with Sweetheart. She was still the weakest of the group, but it wasn't actually because she lacked in power. It was due to her lack of experience, and that was my fault. I had kind of babied her a whole lot, only fighting easy battles on route 207. Now, I was hoping to let her reach her full potential, which was why I wanted my first battle to begin with her and Tangrowth. I had considered Electabuzz, but Angel would be better at keeping opponents locked down if they proved to be too much for Sweetheart.

    Electabuzz and Jellicent was another pair I'd workshopped, and it was thanks to a single technique I was thinking of using. It was simple, as far as combinations went. Brine was Buddy's most powerful water type move, and it was capable of flooding the field if it went on for long enough. I had even tested it with Cecilia's help using a mini barrier created by Slowking. Kadabra's barrier would act as a container for the water, and it'd be enough for any opponents to be ankle-deep in it.

    Or something else, if they didn't have ankles.

    Then, Honey would come in with a Thunderbolt, electrocuting both opponents. It was his strongest electric type attack— stronger than even Discharge, so I wanted to abuse it as much as possible.

    The last powerful pair I had thought of was Jellicent and Tangrowth, although that would probably only be used if I needed some serious firepower to win. Togetic's help would severely be missed here, and without her ability to affect the field, it'd be a cage match to see who knocked who out first. There was a lot of uncertainty in that.

    After explaining everything to the team, I let them lounge and relax for a bit. Togetic practiced her psychic on a pillow, and she was getting really good at it. I simply browsed the internet for a while and chatted one-on-one with Emi on the phone to see if she didn't feel lonely. She missed us, but she was doing well. Apparently her channel had taken off after she had started reporting on corruption in the coordinator industry. There were only four videos up right now, but she already had twenty-thousand subscribers. With Vincent's excellent editing, she was doing very well.

    Vincent was actually getting most of the video revenue, since he was involved in a lot of the research and again, did all of the editing, so it was starting to become a job for him. As the sun started to set, I finally got a message from Lauren.

    Lauren G.

    Meet me. Bring your two friends.

    What? Meet her where? By two friends, I assumed that she meant Cecilia and Denzel.

    Me

    Which Pokemon Center are you staying at?

    Lauren G.

    576 Hunter Lane.

    I inputted the address into my phone and then frowned.

    Me

    That's not a Pokemon Center, that's the tournament building.

    Lauren G.

    Yes. Meet me there.

    Me

    Uh, k. By friends, you mean Cecilia and Denzel, right?

    She didn't bother answering and just used a thumbs-up reaction instead. It was time to rip off the bandaid and tell the others that I had met Craig's sister in secret. I didn't really think that they'd mind when I explained that she was shy.

    Actually, she wasn't shy. She was more of a loner by choice.

    Things worked out perfectly, since Denzel was already back and Cecilia was on her way. I called them over to my room, and while we waited for Cece, Denzel showed me his phone.

    "Check it out. Some guy on the forum did an exposé on all of our teams. Well, all of us and Craig's sister. It's really good."

    "I have something to tell you about her, actually."

    He handed me his phone and I was surprised to see that Goalducc was a competent analyst. He didn't meander much and went straight to the point, identifying strengths and weaknesses. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that he'd gotten Jellicent's ability wrong due to my mistake during my fight with Candice, though. And obviously, he didn't know about Denzel's Milotic or Cecilia's Golett. I had an inkling that she was planning on using him for the first few matches. Lauren had apparently caught her sixth, a powerful Rhydon that didn't listen to what she said, and all in all was probably her easiest Pokemon to deal with along with Lairon. The rest of her team looked as threatening as I expected, but Duosion being able to use two Psychics at once was what worried me the most. Barry Lane's name did catch my eye, however. It was the name of the trainer I couldn't place back when I had thought about his father Palmer in Mount Coronet. Apparently, he was a threat to keep track of. I'd look him up when this entire tournament ordeal was done. Right now, it was better to keep my head in the game.

    "He's good," I nodded, giving him back his phone.

    "Right? Finally, someone who isn't mean about it too. I followed him, and I think you should do the same."

    "Eh, not that much of a—" I stopped. The Poketch Company was going to make me use the forums at some point anyway. "Fine. Goalducc…42."

    I typed his name on my phone and gave him a follow.

    "You're probably making his day. He was so happy when I replied to his thread that I could feel it through the screen."

    "Did you send it to the others?"

    "Just Cece and Mira," he shrugged. "I don't want the people who weren't included to feel bad."

    "Fair enough. Any spies out there?" I teased.

    "Yeah, actually, it was annoying as hell. I couldn't train Milotic at all today," Denzel sighed. "But whatever. I'll figure something out by tomorrow. If I don't, I'll ignore them and just reveal him to everybody in a livestream. Might as well make some content out of it and make some cash."

    "Always on that grindset, aren't ya?"

    He looked at me disappointedly. "Never say that again."

    "Yeah, I knew it was wrong as soon as it came out of my mouth—"

    There was a soft knock on the door.

    "Ah, Cece's there," I said, shooting up. I released Togetic and opened the door, holding my breath.

    It was her.

    If I ever became the Champion, I'd have them install peepholes on every door.

    She greeted me with a kiss that lingered longer than usual, and she had a very satisfied look on her face.

    "Looks like you've figured something out," I smiled.

    "Yes," she simply said. "And I also had quite a lot of fun chasing away spy Pokemon."

    "You're not allowed to hit them," Denzel teased.

    "I did not," she rolled her eyes. "I simply scared them away, that's all. I've had plenty of people do it to Fletchinder."

    "Maybe I should just chase them away too. Sylvi could be good at that."

    "Oh right, you're spying too," I said. "Anyway, what I'm about to say doesn't leave this room, okay? Don't worry, it's nothing bad."

    "Thank you for preemptively saying that," Cece said.

    "Remember Craig's sister? Lauren?"

    "Yeah, she's here. She's been hanging around the Hunters' place a whole bunch, battling trainers to practice. It looks like she doesn't care about secrecy anymore," Denzel said.

    "That's because she's got those custom moves she's hiding, right?" I said. "Probably lures people into a false sense of security— anyway! I met her in Hearthome once, and she also came to see our gym battles. She wants to meet us, like, right now."

    Denzel's mouth gaped. "You met her and you didn't say anything? Damn it, I'm so jealous…"

    "Don't let Pauline hear that," Cecilia laughed.

    "Pauline and I are just friends."

    "Of course."

    I sighed in relief. I almost thought that Cecilia would be jealous or something, but I was glad that she wasn't. If the situation was reversed... I might have been just a little bit. Not to Pauline's level, though.

    "She's hanging out at the tournament building. The one where we signed up. I don't know what she wants to talk about. She's not very vocal."

    "Well, let's get going then," Denzel exclaimed. "I already want to ask her so much stuff about her battling—"

    "Did you not hear what I said?" I sighed. "Not. Vocal. Don't overwhelm her with your… extrovertedness."

    "Ugh, okay."

    "And remember, she isn't her brother," Cecilia added.

    Right, she probably knew a thing or two about being compared to a sibling. After telling our friends what was going on, we quickly made our way toward the Hunter residence. In Solaceon, quickly meant twenty minutes. Lauren wasn't difficult to find. Her hair was so dark that it actually stood out in a crowd. She still had her Duosion worryingly floating over her head, possibly talking to her while she was listening to music on her phone. The psychic type noticed us and started panicking in its goo, moving around wildly. Lauren stared up from her phone, pushed up her glasses, and then looked directly at us. We waved.

    She didn't wave back.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2023
  24. Threadmarks: Chapter 144
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 144

    "Hi Lauren. Nice to see you again," I smiled. Duosion waved at me with its stubby little arms, and it seemed to speak to her.

    "Hello. My name is Lauren Goodwill," she quietly said, introducing herself to the others. She always spoke with a whisper. "No relation to Craig Goodwill."

    Such a brazen-faced lie! I bit my lip to stop myself from laughing, awaiting my friends' reactions.

    "Of course," Cecilia said. "Just a coincidence, I'm sure."

    "Uh… sure?" Denzel frowned.

    "I'm glad you called us over," I said. "Do you want to hang out with us? We can grab a bite or a drink somewhere."

    "Aw man, I heard of this awesome spot on route 210 that sells the best Moomoo milk. It's a bit of a walk, though," Denzel said.

    "Moomoo milk is disgusting," I grimaced.

    "That's why you're so short."

    "Shut it!" I pushed him, eliciting an obnoxious laugh. "Sorry Lauren, go ahead," I said, dipping my head slightly.

    "No, I didn't call you over to do that—" she suddenly stopped as her Pokemon wriggled. "I'm okay, Sirris… stop bossing me around."

    The Duosion recoiled in its goo. Sirris was its name, huh? It looked like she was nicknaming her team just like her brother. Slowking observed the Pokemon with usual amusement. He was our only Pokemon out at the moment.

    "I saw all of your battles against Fantina, and I was also there during your double battle with your friend Chase… I think you guys are good, but I want to push my limits. Grace, I heard that your Turtonator was the real deal," she said, staring at my burns. "I want to battle it. I get four Pokemon to make it fair and no switches… I'll use my Magmar, Seismitoad, Rhydon, and Sceptile. What do you say?"

    If I'd been drinking something, I would have spat all over her face.

    "Err, thanks for asking, but that's unfortunately impossible," I awkwardly said. "Sunsh— Turtonator's a bit of a grouch who doesn't battle, but when he does, I mean, he's way too powerful. Rhydon would probably be fine, but I don't even think your Seismitoad would be able to handle the heat, let alone us. Not without a psychic barrier to help."

    "They've got a bunch set up for trainers to practice battling," she shrugged. "But it's okay, I guess…"

    She didn't look okay whatsoever. In fact, this was the most emotion I'd seen on her face when meeting her. Her eyes were downcast, and she let out an exasperated sigh.

    "Hey, if you want, I'll battle you!" Denzel exclaimed. "My Froslass could use some practice."

    "I'm not in the mood anymore," she sighed.

    Denzel's shoulders slouched.

    "We can still get to know each other, right?" Cecilia smiled. "Better do it now while the brackets aren't announced and people aren't going too crazy."

    Lauren paused. "Sirris tells me that it's a good idea, so I'll come."

    I tapped a finger against my chin and watched the Duosion happily bob in its goo. It seemed that it was some sort of guiding figure for her like Riolu was to Chase, except that she had caught it relatively recently instead of knowing it her entire life. Still, I couldn't judge, and it looked like the psychic had her best in mind.

    "Alright, I guess we can go grab some food, I'm starving," I complained.

    "When are you not starving?" Denzel teased.

    "Plenty of times, but a girl's gotta eat! Plus, I got raked over the coals by my sponsorship liaison since I have to practice taking interviews."

    "Oh shit, can you give me some tips on that? I was going to take some too, but I'm going in blind and you probably have more media literacy than me by now. I'd appreciate the help. Can't fumble and ruin my brand."

    "I'll send you the gist of it later."

    "Text isn't enough, I need to see it."

    "Ugh, fine," I groaned. "Come see me later tonight."

    "The fact that you're doing interviews surprises me…" Lauren trailed off. "When my brother sent me stuff about you, he said you were just like me. I guess that was another one of his lies."

    I held back a wince. Poor Craig really wasn't getting any points with his sister.

    "I thought you weren't related to Craig," Denzel joked.

    "I wish. That was just a joke."

    That actually got his attention, and he kept going. "You seem to dislike him a whole lot."

    "He babies me too much and keeps trying to help me. That takes away from my own success. I work hard, but people keep saying that it's unfair that I'm doing well for myself. The further away he stays from me, the better."

    So it was what I expected, then. To be honest, it sucked for Craig, but he should probably have gotten the picture by now. I felt that if he gave her some space, then she'd slowly start opening up to him.

    "I understand that completely," Cecilia nodded.

    "I know a bit about you. Your brother is Unova's Champion, right? You probably have it even worse than I do, sorry for complaining…"

    "It doesn't bother me much. I tend to ignore the noise."

    "I still don't know how you manage that," I said.

    We entered a local restaurant close to the Pokemon Center Lauren was staying at, which was different than ours. I looked the menu over a few times and decided to order some chicken fingers, which Cecilia and Denzel relentlessly made fun of me for. Obviously it wasn't just for kids, or it wouldn't be on the damned normal menu. The others all took complicated and fancy meals. I hadn't expected Solaceon to have such a high-profile restaurant.

    "So, Lauren. Why don't we talk about our teams?" I asked. Couldn't go wrong with talking about Pokemon to a fellow trainer.

    She showed a hint of a smile. "Who should go first?"

    "I guess I will, since I suggested it," I said. I proceeded to explain how dad had suddenly brought a Togepi egg one day, and that unexpectedly started my path to becoming a trainer. If Princess hadn't been there, I doubt that I would ever have become one.

    Denzel told her about how he rescued his Sylveon as an Eevee and nursed him back to health, while Cecilia explained that her Zweilous was the child of her brother's Hydreigon. I was surprised that Lauren didn't seem even a bit miffed at that. I thought that she'd think that Cecilia should have done everything on her own like she was. Granted, I'd had ten counters ready to defend her. We proceeded to go over how we caught each one of our Pokemon, reminiscing about old times, and I finally learned that Cecilia caught Slowking in the lake north of Jubilife before heading to Oreburgh.

    "My first Pokemon was Volis, my Sceptile. He was a gift from my brother. The only one I ever got. He's from the Daycare here, actually…"

    Oh. That made a lot more sense.

    "They do breed wonderful Pokemon," Cecilia nodded. "We have a friend with a Vulpix from there."

    "He's outgoing and always there to cheer the team up, but he hates my Magmar— Mags. He's aggressive all the time, and he's annoying to take care of, but he's a good guy. I caught him near Canalave as a Magby, and he burned my legs."

    She lifted her pants to show us, and we dipped our heads under the table. Those looked pretty bad and stretched across both of her tibias. The ones on the right leg were worse, stretching up further until we couldn't see. That must have hurt. It was interesting that she owned a Magmar, though. He was Electabuzz's counterpart, and both of their evolution methods were secret. Hoarded like gold by a few trainers at the top. I knew that Flint from the Elite Four owned a Magmortar, but speaking to an Elite Four member was exponentially harder than speaking to a gym leader, so she would probably have to figure out the evolution method on her own or get good enough to have connections with people high up at the League.

    Still, I figured it would maybe make for a nice rivalry if the two ever fought.

    "As long as he can burn things, he's happy. That's easy to understand, so I like that. Byron was my first gym badge, and Volis and Mags made quick work of him."

    "So you come from Canalave?" I asked. I had never asked where Craig was from and never bothered to look it up, so this was new to me.

    Lauren nodded. "When I easily won, people started to talk about my brother helping me. Since Craig's first ever gym battle had been against Byron too, he gave me a bunch of tips about how he fought and the Pokemon he used at that level, so they weren't exactly wrong. I told him to stop, but he keeps trying to help to this day. At least he backed off a bit recently…"

    "Yeah…" Denzel said. He was probably thinking about the fact that Craig wanted us to help her instead of him.

    "Anyway, I went to Oreburgh next and caught Defiant in the mines there. He's my Lairon. He pulled his weight a lot during that fight," she smiled. "He's the only one Mags gets along with, and they like to spar a lot. Mags's been outgrowing him a lot recently though, so he's been a bit irritated. On the way back to Jubilife, I caught Sirris. He's my best friend," Lauren said fondly.

    "Aww," I said.

    "He's always there to support me, I don't know what I'd do without him. He runs my finances too, so I don't have to worry about money. He even answers my emails."

    Cecilia frowned. "How? He can't really… type."

    "He uses his psychic powers to push down on the keyboard. He types faster than any human I've ever seen."

    "Oh, that makes a lot of sense."

    "You aren't sponsored by anyone, right?" Denzel asked.

    "No, and I don't plan on doing so. I want to reach the Conference without any sponsorships at least once. Maybe next year will be different."

    "Sounds like Chase," Cecilia laughed.

    "Your friend is scary… I don't want to meet him. Sirris told me that he looked like bad news."

    "He grows on you. I don't think you'll be able to meet, since he's got to get ready to leave soon."

    "Oh, I thought he'd be participating…"

    "No, he's got stuff to do, can't stay here for too long," I vaguely explained.

    "Okay, well good for me, I guess. I caught my Seismitoad, Prime, next to the river that runs east of Floaroma. She's a little reserved, but she enjoys sparring a whole lot too. She helps keep Mags under control, but he hates fighting her because she's got the type advantage."

    "Your Magmar kind of reminds me of Louis' Gible," Denzel noticed.

    "Dragons are overrated," Lauren said with unusual confidence. "Sorry… um, ignore that. After that, I went a long while without catching anything else. I considered catching a grass type in Eterna Forest, but none of them appealed to me. I traveled through there alone too, and there were a few close calls."

    My eyes bulged. "Alone?!"

    Even with the Pokemon I had now, I wouldn't feel confident going through the forest alone. The Pokemon there were probably almost all weaker than what I had at this point except at the center of the forest, but one Poison Sting was all it took. One mistake, and I'd be dead. I wasn't going to take those odds unless I absolutely had to.

    "Yes? I didn't really know how to ask for help."

    Denzel facepalmed. "You could have gotten yourself killed."

    "I was fine. I beat Gardenia easily in Eterna. After I beat her Lombre with Volis, Mags almost completely swept her team by standing around and burning things."

    I repressed the primal need to defend Gardenia and let her keep going.

    "It wasn't until I came across my Rhydon— Paragon— in the middle of Mount Coronet that I knew I what I wanted. It took my entire team to hurt him enough to catch, and I almost died in the process," she said.

    It was only now that I noticed a huge scar running across her shoulder, barely hidden by her shirt. Her coat had hidden it back in Hearthome.

    "I can see you want to ask. I took a shard of Stone Edge to the shoulder. If it had been the full attack, I would have died. Paragon's a bit of a special case, since he doesn't really listen to me and just does what he wants. He doesn't really talk to anyone on the team, but Sirris tries to keep him company from time to time. Still, even though he's kind of dumb, he's also really strong… slightly weaker than your Turtonator, if I had to guess," she nodded toward me. "I still think he'd lose handily one-on-one though, which is why I wanted a four-on-one."

    Wow, that was a lot stronger than I expected. I'd need to figure out how to take this thing down if I wanted to win. The table went silent, and we were probably all thinking about the same thing. If he was dumb, it was doable… she'd given us a lot of insight into her team, for someone as secretive as she was. I was starting to wonder if the secrecy was more of something that she just preferred because she disliked people instead of a genuine attempt at keeping her team and moves secret. She didn't seem to care at all about the latter.

    We finished our food, and Lauren left us to go battle other trainers. She seemed to love doing that even when she utterly crushed the competition. I didn't really see the point in a battle if it was that lopsided, so I preferred to train my team on my own, but maybe I could find a few four or five-badge holders here to practice… but it'd be wiser to wait for my first few matches. I still had a few things to hide.

    "I guess she doesn't care about secrecy at all," Denzel enunciated my thoughts as we looked at Lauren growing smaller and smaller on the horizon. "She's a lot different than I thought she was, but she's cool."

    "She probably thinks that with the strength behind her Pokemon, it doesn't matter," Cecilia said. "That Rhydon will be an issue."

    "And there are the custom moves to worry about. We've got our work cut out for us," I said.

    "Training it is, then," Denzel smiled.

    We all laughed, and then decided to split up. Before going off to train, I went back to my Center Room to grab my laptop and downloaded the video of my battle against Fantina so I could finally get the autopsy done. I went off to a secluded wooded area that I had no doubt people were observing and released my entire team, including Turtonator for intimidation purposes. I had them work on moves that the public knew I owned while I opened my computer with a sigh. There was literally a Ducklett just staring at me from afar, and a Trumbeak flying overhead. They weren't being discreet about this at all.

    I wasn't used to being studied, I usually did the studying. I ignored them and started to play the video of my gym battle. There were a few mistakes here and there that I easily caught. My reaction time when I didn't expect something left a lot to be desired, even if I had improved a whole lot, but aside from that? There were no glaring issues that I could see. The old me would have lost to that Haunter splitting in two I would have tunnel visioned and not switched because I had come up with the Wish plan and I would have been desperate to make it work. I also might have panicked when Doublade revealed Swords Dance. There was real improvement here, and I was glad that I could see it on screen. It wasn't subtle at all.

    Looking at myself, I hadn't even been trembling or anything during the battle. I'd just been focused. I was sitting completely still and just staring at the battle and Fantina, barely blinking. I had failed to read the gym leader much, unfortunately, but other than that, I had been in top condition.

    I stared up as Turtonator angrily blew a stream of flames toward the unsuspecting Ducklett, who flew away in fear. Jellicent quickly extinguished the burning underbrush and angrily boomed at Sunshine, who just snorted and went back to sleep.

    "Don't attack things," I warned. "I know you were holding back, but hurting a trainer's Pokemon is past what we're allowed to do."

    His nose angrily flared.

    Well, I was a literal child ordering him around, so that made sense. He was kind of cute when he was mad. Not that I'd ever tell him that.

    "Yeah, I know you don't like to be bound by rules, but it's just how this works, so cooperate with me here. Call it a favor? I'll owe you later."

    The fire type curiously peered at me with the smuggest smile I'd ever seen, and Princess angrily chided him. Electabuzz calmed her down quickly enough, but Sunshine just ignored her and kept speaking to me.

    "You want me to stop talking? Alright, fine. I won't annoy you with any more stories today, and you let the Pokemon here spy in peace. It's not like we have anything to hide."

    I had said that final part intentionally, hoping to fool some into believing that all of the information on my team was already available online if they looked hard enough. Turtonator lay back down, seemingly satisfied with his bargain, and I just rolled my eyes at him. He was such a diva.

    Back to the battle it was. Like I had said, I had been completely focused like never before, like the world around me simply didn't exist. Every decision I had taken had been at least somewhat correct, and there were no glaring mistakes.

    So how could I replicate this?

    Being completely prepared was certainly a part of it, but that wasn't it. I stayed deep in thought for at least ten minutes trying to think of what had been different, and I finally got it just as I won the battle on the video, funnily enough. Princess' Ancient Power sure made me proud every time I saw it.

    My battle with Fantina was simply the first battle where I had come in with expectations that things would go horribly wrong at some point. Sure, in all of the others, I had thought that there might have been some deviations, but never bad ones, so I had always been caught off guard when they did come. If I expected things to go wrong, then I couldn't get tripped up.

    It was kind of related to what I had done against Candice too. With her, I had changed the pace of the battle rapidly to catch her off-guard and affect her judgment, so why wouldn't it work on me? If my mind was already ready to counter bullshit, then I'd do it quicker than if it wasn't.

    "Note to self, always expect things to go to shit," I whispered.

    If it didn't, then great, but if it did, I would be prepared. I started playing back the video with Fantina again, and did so until nighttime in between helping my Pokemon out with their training. Princess had almost mastered the spear. Almost. When I got back, I helped Denzel like Melody had helped me, but it felt a little weird to act like an expert in media when I had gotten just a few hours of help. I was a novice at this, just like him. Still, it brought me back to the Floaroma tournament, where Denzel had helped me escape from a few small-time reporters trying to interview me.

    I'd come far, but I would go further still.



    Three days later, the brackets were announced, and I would actually have the earliest battle of the group. Mira and Denzel were fighting on the same day as I was, but the rest were all fighting tomorrow. My opponent was named Kyle Thornton, a three-badge holder from Sunyshore with a Watchog, a Gogoat, a Kricketune and a Probopass, and unlike me, he was a second-year. It was surprising to see someone in their second year with only four Pokemon, but I had to remember that I was the exception in that regard, not the rule. People usually took multiple years to fill their roster completely, since they opted to focus on training a few Pokemon to beat the early gyms consistently instead of overextending themselves.

    Honestly? I was confident, and this was a perfect opponent for Sweetheart to battle with Angel. I had to physically stop myself from looking up more information, like moves, fighting style or abilities. It felt fundamentally wrong not to research more in-depth, but I was committed to doing this, at least for the early rounds. One of the good things about knowing his team was that I knew that he had nothing to spy on me unless he'd caught something in between Veilstone and Solaceon, so I was freer to train openly. I spent the next two days perfecting my team's new moves and working exclusively on their teamwork.

    Finally, the day of the tournament had come.



    A/N: Again, all teams in the tournament are made my members of my Discord. I will credit them after each fight unless they explicitly ask me not to.
     
  25. Threadmarks: Chapter 145
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 145

    "Damn it, of course I'd have to face her first."

    Kyle Thornton grumbled as he slowly shambled his way to his arena. He stared at his opponent, who didn't even spare him a single look as he approached. Grace Pastel had been called many things. A rising star, a prodigy, the next Gardenia, and it looked like she had the ego to back it up too. What kind of trainer didn't even look at their opponent? Not even a small nod? A set of bleachers had been set up all along the battlefield that the organizers had set up, and there would be five battles running at the same time. The other four battlefields were interspersed all over the Hunters' land, so it was impossible to watch multiple at the same time. It gave the trainers spectating a sense of choice and agency. They had to choose which battle to look at and sacrifice potentially studying another trainer to do so. Kyle felt sad that he wouldn't go far enough to battle with commentators though. It had been his dream ever since he'd been a child to have a Pokemon battle caster gush over something he'd done.

    The fact that he'd be fighting Grace Pastel had come as a terrifying surprise, and he had panicked so much that he'd spent a good chunk of his savings on buying information about her from a trainer with two Cutiefly that he used to spy on people. He wasn't even in the tournament, he was just here to make money.

    Two hours after that, Kyle had realized that he had simply copied an analysis from a user called Goalducc42 on the forums. So much money wasted. He was a second year, yet he'd been fleeced like a rookie desperately trying to get their first badge.

    The man ran a nervous, trembling hand through his hair.

    The rational part of Kyle told him that there was no way to win this, but he sure as hell wouldn't give up. He stepped onto the raised platform, grabbing two of his Pokeballs. Grace Pastel supposedly knew every trick he could employ, but what else could he do but try? Watchog would be instrumental here. These arenas were smaller than a gym's, so his incredible range with Hypnosis meant that he'd be able to use the move without even approaching his opponents. Even though it'd take around ten seconds to go off at that distance, his range meant that it was enough time. Meanwhile, Probopass would protect him and buy the normal type enough time to get the attack off.

    Further than that? Well, he was no savant. There was no way to plan that far ahead. They'd be fighting on the Rock Field, which was reminiscent of Roark's gym and was ideal for his Probopass.

    "This is a battle between Grace Pastel and Kyle Thornton. Trainers, send out your Pokemon," The supervisor called out.

    Kyle swallowed and nervously sent out Watchog and Probopass. His opponent sent out a Larvitar and that Arceus damned Tangrowth. He knew that if he didn't focus on the looming grass type, this would be a guaranteed loss. Kyle's Pokemon watched warily as Larvitar let out an excited yell and Tangrowth caressed her head with a vine.

    "Begin!"

    "Sunny Day," the blonde simply said.

    Tangrowth closed its eyes, and the sunlight slowly began to grow harsher. That hadn't been in the information he'd gotten! Kyle snapped back to reality and swept his arm.

    "Hypnosis the Tangrowth! Probopass, Lock-On and Power Gem Larvitar!"

    Watchog's eyes shone, and he stared down the Tangrowth directly. Grace Pastel frowned as Probopass' eyes narrowed and blinding lights shot out of his turrets, all curving toward Larvitar.

    "Block it with Rockslide, Sweetheart! Stop the Watchog too!"

    A massive boulder next to Larvitar crumpled and moved in front of the rock type like a tidal wave. The Power Gem simply deflected off of the rocks. Meanwhile, another Rock Slide washed over Watchog, interrupting his Hypnosis right as it was about to go off. How could Larvitar control that many at the same time?! Tangrowth snapped back to reality and finished his Sunny Day.

    "Now get in there and Power Whip. Leave Watchog to your sister."

    Tangrowth took a single step.

    And then ran forward, propelling itself with his vines as fast as a truck. It was harrowingly silent, not letting a single noise escape from wherever its mouth was. There was only the sound of its heavy steps and its vines whipping against the floor. There was no stopping this thing. All he could do was hope for—

    Damn it, it was already here!

    "Confuse R—"


    Tangrowth wrapped a vine around Watchog and threw him back towards Larvitar, who had just been patiently standing around like a kid waiting for fucking candy. The grass type then proceeded to completely dominate his Probopass. Kyle called out for a Thunder Wave, but the Power Whips were too quick and powerful for the steel type to focus on striking back. Watchog shook himself off and got up just in time for Larvitar to run him through with a Horn Attack. It pushed the normal type up to Kadabra's barrier with jubilant screams while Kyle could only watch in horror as his starter failed to even fight back. With the way he was pinned against the wall, there was no way for Watchog to even use any moves.

    Kyle watched as Tangrowth calmly slammed Probopass with one last Power Whip, and the rock type stayed unmoving on the floor. Its vines all wriggled as one, working in unison like a school of Remoraid, and he blankly stared directly into Kyle's eyes. The trainer shivered in fear as he grabbed Probopass' Pokeball.

    "Keep it up Angel!" Grace smiled. How could someone smile at such violence? His Probopass was more wounded than it had ever been!

    Kyle recalled his Pokemon and immediately sent out his Kricketune.

    "Sing!" He yelled. If he couldn't get this Tangrowth out of the picture, then it was over. Kricketune strimmed his knifelike arms against the string on his belly, but Tangrowth again just slapped him around like a damn toy, not even bothering to use a move. On the other side of the arena, Watchog was still being pinned.

    "Stop playing around and get serious," Grace told her Larvitar.

    The rock type grunted and let Watchog go, her horn soaked in blood. This was his moment! She'd grown cocky! Enough with the status moves, he had to go on the offensive! One Pokemon. He'd at least take down one!

    "Smack Down!" She yelled.

    "Detect!"

    Watchog blurred impossibly quickly, dodging the blindingly fast rock that shot up from the ground like a bullet. He didn't avoid the fragments however, and like shrapnel, they tore through Watchog's body.

    "Crunch and finish it off."

    With a twisted smirk, Larvitar opened its mouth, revealing the darkness festering within. Already bloodied and battered, Watchog was too exhausted to even use another Detect. The rock type tore across his thigh, and Kyle recalled him, putting his Pokemon out of the fight.

    Such brutality. Nothing was working. It was like he was being dissected.

    Kyle felt empty as he sent out his Gogoat just in time for Kricketune to have fallen. The bug type was simply broken. His arms were bent the wrong way, and his body was crumpled like an old wrinkled shirt. He recalled him as well.

    "Aerial Ace the Tangrowth!" Kyle screamed. And yet, his voice felt felt hollow.

    Gogoat bleated and started running, slowly building up his speed as streaks of air surrounded his body. If he could get one hit in at least…

    "Block it with Ancient Power."

    Tangrowth quickly raised a boulder in front of itself, and Gogoat crashed into it head-on.

    "Let Sweetheart deal with it," she continued.

    Kyle dejectedly stared as eight vines snaked around the Ancient Power to grab his Gogoat. She was going to throw him toward Larvitar again instead of finishing him off with that monstrous Tangrowth! Kyle clicked his tongue and restrained a curse. She was just toying with him! That sadistic bitch!

    "Seed Bomb!"

    Tangrowth threw the grass type toward his ally, but two seeds fell onto him, blowing up on contact. Tangrowth simply shrugged them off and observed what Larvitar was going to do with a curious eye. Kyle breathed a sigh of relief. At least he'd landed a hit. Two hits. Larvitar ran forward and stabbed Gogoat's flank with Horn Attack before he could even get up.

    "No stabbing. Use Rock Slide," Grace scolded.

    The ground type grunted, opting to bury Gogoat in a sea of rocks instead. Every time he tiringly managed to climb his way out of them, another layer smothered him, hitting him hard in the head every single time. The grass type was bleeding profusely from his head, soaking the rocks in scarlet red, and looked like he couldn't even think properly any longer.

    There was no point to this, was there?

    "I forfeit," Kyle sighed, recalling his Pokemon. His shoulders sagged, and he clenched his fist around Gogoat's Pokeball. He knew there was no way he could have won the tournament, but he would have liked to make it to the top two hundred, at the very least. And yet here he was, losing on his first round.

    That was the luck of the draw.

    "Victory to Grace Pastel. Trainers, please step out of the arena."

    Larvitar happily stomped on the floor. Tangrowth ran back toward her, then lifted her in the air to celebrate. Grace let them have their moment, but recalled them after a few seconds with a satisfied smile on her face. It was like she'd known everything about him during the fight. How else would she have known about Hypnosis' range? At least Kyle could rest easy knowing that he'd been worth researching for a generational talent.

    "Good battle," she said before leaving.

    Good battle?! He snapped his head toward her. Was she making fun of him?!

    Was it not enough for her to be so Arceus damned talented?! She had to rub it in too, twist the knife and pour salt onto the wound! He wanted to call out to her, berate her for being one of the rudest trainers he'd ever faced, but she was already gone.

    Maybe his family was right, and he wasn't cut out for this.



    Oh man, that had been nerve-wracking. My hands were still shaking, my body felt hot.

    All things considered, that had gone pretty well, but the battle itself had been sloppy, like I was still finding my footing. If I hadn't stopped that Hypnosis, things could have gotten ugly. Watchog and Probopass would have ganged up on Sweetheart, and she could have lost, which would have been so horrible for her self-confidence that she probably would have destroyed everything around her with Stomping Tantrum after being healed. Coming into a battle with so many unknowns had been terrifying, but I still wanted to do it at least one more time before I started to get serious. Larvitar's Rock Slides had been excellent, and so had Tangrowth's Sunny Day. I needed Sweetheart to stop using Horn Attack so much, though. Stabbing things might have been fun, but blunt trauma was a lot better at taking Pokemon down quickly when they weren't covered in armor. Maybe Princess had rubbed off on her too much since she kept showing off her Ancient Power spear and bragging about it like there was no tomorrow.

    If I was being honest, Angel had gone ham too, and all of his Pokemon would probably have to stay at the Center for multiple days. I wasn't exactly used to fighting people that much weaker than I was. I considered my reaction times to have left a lot to be desired, but Kyle's had been so bad that he just left his Pokemon wide open to counters at all times, and he tunnel-visioned hard on putting Tangrowth to sleep. It wasn't like he could have won, but he could have done better than this with the tools he had at his disposal. He could have tried everything he could to interrupt Angel from completing Sunny Day too, and then he would have been nowhere near that fast. If he had researched his use of Ancient Power properly, and from the time it took him to use the move, I figured that it'd be pretty easy to extrapolate that it needed his utmost concentration. When I'd heard that he was a second year, I'd somewhat expected a tougher battle.

    It was somewhat underwhelming. Despite expecting a win, I thought I would have had to fight for it. I wanted to keep thinking about the battle, but I was already being swarmed by reporters. They all asked all kinds of questions, but I focused in on one I liked— a good trick Melody had taught me.

    "Ms. Pastel, you showed the world what complete domination was like today! What do you say made the difference in your battle with Mr. Thornton today?"

    Okay, now all I had to do was smile and stick to broad strokes. No need to go far into details or to be rude and say that my Pokemon were simply stronger and there wasn't much he could have done but delay the inevitable.

    "Mr. Thornton focused too much on trying to put Angel to sleep to single out my Larvitar. Once that tactic didn't work, he should have tried something else. Me separating his Pokemon was the nail in the coffin, so I feel like he should have tried to find a way to regroup and have two members of his team focus on one of mine, but that would have required for him to find a way to bypass Angel's vines, which is always tough to do. I can't comment much more about what he could have done without knowing his Pokemon's moves, though."

    Nice and straight to the point. Another flurry of questions erupted, but again, I singled out a single reporter.

    "Excuse me, does that mean you didn't research your opponent before fighting him today? You're known to be meticulous in your research."

    "I'm trying to improve, so I'm handicapping myself for a little bit and only checking out my opponents' teams," I said. "Of course, I don't expect to be able to keep doing it for the whole tournament. There are a lot of good trainers here— including Mr. Thornton— and I'd be foolish to think my skill in battle alone could carry me to first place."

    That was good, right? I knew Melody and possibly a whole lot of other people from the Poketch Company were watching right now, judging every word coming out of my mouth.

    "Another question here! We saw your Tangrowth throw its opponents toward Larvitar. What was that for exactly?"

    "Well, since she's lacking in experience, I figured I'd let her battle as well for practice. She wouldn't have forgiven Angel if he just dealt with everything himself and hung her off to dry."

    "You seem quite confident in yourself. If you go against one of your traveling companions, will you do everything in your power to figure out what they're planning?"

    "Of course. But again, this was nothing personal against Mr. Thornton, I just figured that I had a good chance to win after looking at his lineup, that's all. It just as easily could have backfired on me. Now if you'll excuse me I—"

    Wait, getting my team back to the Center wouldn't even work here, only Tangrowth had gotten hit, and it had barely dealt any damage.

    "—I have to go to the bathroom."

    I quickly dodged any more questions that made my way and went back toward the tournament building to fake going to the bathroom. I couldn't let them figure out that I was only pretending, after all. I had been a lot less nervous for interviews than I thought, and I had Melody to thank for that, but it was also because talking about Pokemon battling was a genuinely enjoyable thing for me to do. So long as I kept ignoring the nasty questions, I'd be fine, but if there came a day when only those types of questions came, then I'd start feeling the anxiety. Melody sent me a quick text telling me that I had done well, but that I needed to tone done the 'practice for Larvitar' angle because it made me seem like I was 'playing with my food', whatever that meant.

    After hanging out in the bathroom for a while longer, I joined my friends who'd been waiting in the bleachers for me. Denzel was still getting ready for his battle and doing some last-minute planning, and Mira was also off training somewhere, but everyone else was here. Cecilia was the first to congratulate me.

    "You were beautiful out there, love," she smiled.

    "I did alright," I said with a smile of my own. "Need to improve in a lot of areas still."

    "Come on, just take the win and stop humble bragging," Pauline said. "Your Tangrowth just completely manhandled everything that poor guy had on his team. I bet you could have fought one against four and still won."

    "Probably not, since Kyle had Hypnosis and Sing—"

    "Well, I wouldn't want to face such a thing no matter what moves I owned," Maeve shuddered. "It was my first time seeing you battle, and you're seriously scary."

    "This praise is embarrassing me. When's Denzel's battle again?"

    "Should be in an hour," Pauline immediately said. "Well, more like fifty-four minutes now."

    "Should we go watch battles while we wait? I'd like to see what our next potential opponents could be like," Justin said.

    Maeve was definitely right, though. So long as Angel had the time to pull Sunny Day off, he was nigh unstoppable by anything that wasn't a poison or fire type— or a tough, big Pokemon that he couldn't lift and hit around like a ragdoll.

    "There are a lot of bets going around," Louis explained. "People are looking to make money off of the tournament."

    "There was a 19:1 odd of you winning, by the way," Pauline smirked. "It was basically free money."

    "You bet?" I raised an eyebrow.

    "Yeah, it's fun. I tried to get the others to join, but they didn't want to. I made a few pennies."

    "It felt disrespectful to Grace's opponent," Cecilia said. "He looked devastated when he stepped off the platform."

    "What?" I said, my heart sinking. "I should find him, he wasn't bad—"

    "You speaking to him would probably just worsen the problem," Justin said.

    I nodded with a sigh, and we went to sit down to wait for Denzel's battle. In all of the excitement and my drive to improve, I had forgotten that I had possibly ruined someone's day. Or week. Or month? When had I gotten so big-headed? It wasn't all that long ago that I'd been battling in Eterna city's arenas and gently helping the trainers I beat to improve themselves after each loss, and instead I had just rushed to leave. Sure, the reporters were a problem, but I could have…

    But then again, like Justin had said, unsolicited advice could make it look like I was just talking them down and belittling their skill.

    Damn it, this was hard.

    "What's Denzel fighting? And which arena?" I asked, trying to clear my head.

    "The Grass Field," Pauline answered.

    "It would have been funny if it was the snow one," I said, thinking of his Froslass.

    Along with the Rock, the Grass and the Snow Fields, there was the Water and the Desert Field. The first three weren't that interesting, but the last two offered actual variations that could sway a battle. First, the Water Field was reminiscent of Crasher Wake's gym, and the entire battlefield would be submerged in water with a few platforms non-water types could stand on. That meant that water types would obviously be king there, and fire types would be at a serious disadvantage. However, if you had an electric type or electric type attacks, countering swimmers would be ridiculously easy unless they were part ground. Meanwhile, the Desert Field was simply odd because Sinnoh had no deserts to speak of outside of the Battle Frontier— which only eight badgers were allowed in— so our Pokemon simply weren't used to fighting on the sand. The weird footing would be a problem and create some variables that were impossible to predict. This wouldn't be like standing on a beach. The sand was deep, and there were dunes of different heights all throughout the field.

    "He's fighting against a really weird guy too," Maeve said.

    "He told you about it?" Pauline asked aggressively.

    "Chill out, okay?" I rolled my eyes. "Sorry about her, she—"

    The redhead put a hand over my mouth, and I squirmed in place until Cecilia jabbed her with a finger, finally causing her to release me.

    "Don't say anything," Pauline grumbled.

    Well, she was just making it obvious now. Justin uncomfortably stared away, probably desperately thinking about how Pauline would even make this work when she already had Emilia. I personally found it impossible to understand too, but I wasn't one to judge. So long as they came to an agreement before they did anything…

    In retrospect, they probably were nowhere near that yet. Denzel, for all his expertise in relationship matters, seemed completely blind to it, and Pauline was content with the status quo. I had no idea if Emilia knew about it, too. Maybe I'd try to talk to Pauline about it with some help from Cece.

    "Anyway!" Pauline coughed. "Go on, Maeve. I'm sorry, by the way."

    "It's okay," she replied. "He's fighting some guy with a really weird team. He just owns six Smeargles."

    "Six of them?" Louis scoffed. "Is he an artist, perhaps? I'd love to see what paintings they can come up with."

    "No, he's just some weird roleplayer," Pauline rolled her eyes. "Calls himself and his team the 'Heroes of Justice'. He's tried to find Team Galactic grunts and fight them off, but he hasn't gotten any success at finding any so far, so he just fights petty criminals whenever he's in a city."

    "Even with the weird team, he's actually good. He's got four badges, and he's still in his first year, so he must be close to you guys, or maybe even on par," Maeve said.

    My interest peaked at that. Type specialists were rarer than generalists, but people that only owned one kind of Pokemon were almost unheard of. I did know that Smeargle was capable of learning a lot of moves by copying them, although they'd be a bootleg version of the original. For that reason, not many people used Smeargle, but if this guy managed to get four badges like us, I was sure he'd be somewhat difficult for Denzel to face.

    It was still really weird that he owned six, though.

    After around thirty minutes of watching battles, we made our way toward the Grass Field and eagerly awaited for Denzel's match to start. His opponent was actually there early, and he wore some kind of war paint on his face, along with a flowing cape that reminded me of Lance. It was like he was wearing a superhero costume, and it was literally impossible to take him seriously. Some people were laughing at his extravagant appearance, but he didn't appear to care whatsoever.

    Denzel showed up just in time, and he had a confident smile on his face.


    A/N: Thank you Zaberan#1586 for the team! For anyone who might be worried about the pace, I won't be showing every character's battle, I just want to write a few to show how some of them have progressed, so you'll be getting some other battles before we get back to Grace. The PoV switch was a one-time thing to show what it might be like to fight Grace as an average trainer, so that was also an exception. Don't worry by the way, Kyle will be fine.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2023
  26. SailorOfMyVessel

    SailorOfMyVessel Writer of plot, with some Plot for pleasure.

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    The PoV switch was really cool. Seeing the other side really helps put things into perspective, and I think it's a cool way to keep things fresh during what is sure to be a long running tournament arc. I wouldn't mind seeing more of them, really.
     
    Soussouni1 likes this.
  27. Threadmarks: Chapter 146
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 146

    "I welcome thee, challenger!" The trainer with the facepaint said. "Prepare to lose to the Heroes of Justice! Together, there's nothing we cannot do, and thou shalt cower before our might…"

    He had a haughty, obnoxious voice that reminded me of Louis when I first met him, but a lot worse.

    Pauline clicked her tongue annoyingly. "Does he have to talk like that?"

    "I think it's just for the extra flair. I like it," Louis smiled.

    "...I have vanquished many thieves and miscreants in my short tenure as a trainer, so some insignificant trainer like yourself will never stop me—"

    "Are you done?" The supervisor yelled. "We're running an operation here, we can't afford to waste time."

    The boy cleared his throat. "My apologies."

    "This is a battle between Denzel Williams and Elliot Santiago. Trainers, send out your Pokemon."

    Elliot sent out two of his Smeargles, but they each had different paintings on their bodies and faces. The first one was painted with bright splashes of red reminiscent of blood with no discernable pattern, and it sported a fierce look in its eyes. The second one was simply covered in white from head to toe, hiding its normally beige skin. The only part that wasn't covered was its tail.

    Denzel sent out his Froslass, who giggled as she took flight, and the grass under her froze. Lopunny was next, and she stood steadfast in front of her teammate.

    "Begin!"

    "Watch for Bullet Punch. Stick to what we said," Denzel ordered. Lopunny's left fist lit ablaze while the other one was coated in electricity. One of her feet turned to ice, while the other simply shone. "Froslass, charge up Blizzard"

    Fire Punch, Thunder Punch, Ice… Kick, and Power-up Kick had all been combined in terrifying fashion. The amount of endurance needed to keep those up permanently was something. The rabbit brought both of her fists up, preparing to fight, while Froslass' eyes shone with a pale blue and a cold wind immediately picked up.

    "Hah! So you know Fighter's techniques? That matters not! Break through them with Bullet Punch! White Mage, Helping Hand!"

    The second Smeargle fiercely clapped its hands, and the other one's muscles bulged as it practically teleported next to Froslass, hoping to interrupt her Blizzard. Without even turning, Lopunny kicked backwards with her Power-Up Kick, hitting the normal type in the back before it could even use its attack like she had anticipated it.

    "White Mage, get in there and heal him! Fight back, Fighter!"

    I ignored how redundant that nickname was and observed as Smeargle narrowly dodged another kick before sweeping Lopunny with Low Kick. The rabbit fell to the ground, and Fighter jumped with its fist coated in flames, punching Froslass in the nose just in the nick of time. She'd been concentrating too much to dodge.

    "Start over, go higher this time," Denzel said. "Don't do it right away."

    Froslass shook the hit off and phased out of existence, quickly reappearing about twenty feet higher. There was nothing Elliot could do to stop her, so he moved on to the next best target. White Mage pointed its tail at Fighter like a staff, and a weak Heal Pulse flew off toward its teammate.

    "Throw him away, Lopunny!"

    With her fists still coated in fire and electricity, Lopunny grabbed Smeargle, spinning him around with Circle Throw toward the other end of the arena, meaning that Heal Pulse just missed. Not only that, but it had also taken damage from Fire and Thunder Punch.

    "Quick Attack and do the same for the other one!"

    I was seeing his strategy now. Denzel wanted to group the two Smeargles up so that Lopunny wouldn't have to be hit by Froslass' Blizzard. I almost scoffed at how fast the normal type had gotten, and she landed next to White Mage with a deafening crash. She kicked it in the head with Power-Up Kick and jabbed its nose with Fire Punch before throwing him at his fellow Smeargle, who fell over again.

    "Get up, quickly!"

    "Now, Froslass!"

    The ice type laughed, and the right side of the battlefield was overtaken by a deafening Blizzard, and I could feel the cold from here through the psychic barriers. As soon as the Blizzard subsided, Denzel ordered Froslass to charge another one. Fighter and White Mage were still standing. Barely.

    "Lopunny, keep them in their half."

    The normal type had already been running before the words even left his mouth.

    "Heal Pulse!" Elliot yelled. "Fighter, Bullet Punch! Buy some time!"

    Faster than even Lopunny, Smeargle blurred in front of her as its fist were coated in silver and began punching her repeatedly. Denzel winced. Froslass could hold back her Blizzard, but that meant that White Mage would simply keep healing Fighter. He already managed to fire off three Heal Pulses before the ten seconds that the ice type needed to charge her attack, and despite being weak, they would stack up quickly.

    As soon as the Bullet Punch ended, Denzel sprung to action.

    "Circle Throw toward Froslass."

    Without a moment's hesitation, Lopunny grabbed Smeargle before he could start another Bullet Punch and launched him toward the ghost.

    "Use it in our half!"

    Ah. It had just clicked. Blizzard ripped through Denzel's half of the battlefield, rendering Fighter useless for a few dozen seconds. Froslass would have to stay inside of it to keep it going, but she would take no damage from the snow.

    Now it was just White Mage and Lopunny. Denzel screamed out a command that I didn't hear, but unlike us, I didn't think he could even see what was going on through the Blizzard. Lopunny's ears twitched, and she grinned before dashing toward White Mage, who could only stare in fear as the normal type relentlessly beat it up with every attack at its disposal. I had wondered about this throughout the fight, but it looked like that Smeargle had no attacking moves, so it couldn't even hope to defend itself.

    White Mage went down just as the Blizzard started to slow. Fighter was down for the count too.

    "Curses!" Elliot screamed, recalling both Pokemon. "Fine, if I must go all out just this once, I will! Don't say I didn't warn you! Tank, Hero, you're up!"

    The boy sent out another set of Smeargle, and this time, the one called Tank was painted in dark tones with patterns reminiscent of what could be on a shield. Hero, meanwhile, was… blank. It just had a single golden line painted in between its eyes.

    "Tank, Iron Defense!"

    "Charge another one," Denzel told Froslass. "Lopunny, go in."

    Once again, Lopunny blurred toward her opponents, opting to focus on Tank to stop him from setting up his defenses. Smeargle shimmered like steel just before Lopunny hit it with Fire Punch, and Tank didn't even flinch. The impact rang out like the clang of metal.

    "Hero, Swords Dance!"

    For the first time in the entire battle, Denzel looked surprised.

    "Switch targets! Hit Hero!"

    "Tank, Teleport and Barrier!"

    Smeargle teleported in between the two, and Lopunny crashed into an invisible wall. It blocked the normal type's path long enough for Hero to finish setting up with Swords Dance. Denzel clicked his tongue.

    "Time's up, get away! Froslass, Blizzard!"

    "Light—"

    The rest of Elliot's order was cut off by the Blizzard's howling winds. Froslass was seriously putting in work here, and she didn't even appear a bit tired. In fact, it was like her Blizzards were getting faster little by little. Lopunny barely escaped the attack, but she was starting to grow tired. No longer could she have four attacks ready at the same time. Instead, she opted for Power-Up Punch that she had relocated to her right fist, along with Fire Punch on her left, which were the attacks she was the most familiar with.

    When the Blizzard receded, both Pokemon were battered, but fine. Tank had set up a Light Screen just in time, and the barrier had shielded them from the worse of the damage.

    "Hero, Agility! Tank, keep him protected."

    Holy fuck, he was setting up a whole lot. Denzel clenched a fist.

    "Blizzard again. Lopunny, stand strong. Defend Froslass at all costs."

    Was he abandoning his strategy? The only way this made sense was if he was willing for Lopunny to be caught in the crossfire. The normal type nodded tensely and kept her body completely still.

    "At last! Don't say I didn't warn you, brigand! Hero, it's time to let loose! Flare Blitz that Froslass!"

    I inhaled sharply as Hero's body spontaneously combusted. There were so many flames that I couldn't even see its body, and Tank teleported away to not get burned.

    "Stand aside, Tank. Hero will deal with them. Go!"

    The air around Smeargle warped as he jumped faster and higher than Lopunny could. Froslass was caught so off guard that she didn't even have time to disappear, and Smeargle rammed into her before falling down to the floor himself.

    The ice type went down immediately, and Smeargle slowly stood up, its body burned and bruised.

    "There's an opening! Hold him down!" Denzel yelled as he recalled his Froslass and sent out his Roselia. "Toxic!"

    Lopunny dashed, grabbing Hero by the neck, and Roselia looked at the Smeargle in disgust as she sprayed it with poison, although some of it got onto Lopunny as well.

    Hero was on a clock now. I looked at Tank, who was simply standing around. It looked like he too had no attacking moves.

    "Flare Blitz and Last Resort!"

    Smeargle burst into flames again. The fire was so hot that even Roselia caught on fire by just being near him. Lopunny cried out in pain, but her screams were drowned out by the flames that enveloped her. The fireball stood and hit the normal type away with a massive blow that I assumed was Last Resort. She was burned to a crisp.

    Smeargle turned to Roselia, his body still consumed by the flames. Was Denzel going to lose?

    He sighed and sent out his Milotic. The crowd gasped in surprise at the magnificent water type, who nervously stared around. This was his first battle, and it showed.

    "Hit the Roselia!" Elliot yelled.

    "Venoshock and Wrap!"

    Smeargle was quick, but Roselia's aim was better. The normal type stumbled as the potent poison tore through his skin, although half of it was evaporated by the flames. Milotic seemingly ignored the heat, wrapping around the fireball and he squeezed.

    "Water Pulse."

    It took four of them for Hero to go down, and Milotic was exhausted. The Swords Dance had been so powerful that the flames had even burned past his hardened scales.

    It was just Tank left. He couldn't attack past some punches and kicks, but those weren't moves. They'd be useless.

    "Take that Smeargle down," Denzel sighed. That had been a dangerously close call.

    Elliot obnoxiously made his Smeargle Teleport all over the field and shield himself with Light Screens and Reflects to delay the inevitable, but after the supervisor chewed him out for wasting time, he forfeited the battle.

    "Victory to Denzel Williams. Trainers, step off of your platforms."

    Pauline squealed happily and danced on her seat, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Elliot might have been a strange person, but he was definitely skilled. He had to be, to train his Pokemon enough to use Swords Dance and Flare Blitz. If he hadn't been forcing his team to conform to what looked to be classes in an RPG, then he'd be a force to be reckoned with. Hell, he might have even won.

    "You win this time, but not the next, thief! You won the battle, but not the war! I'll have you in my sights now!" Elliot yelled. He then ran away dramatically with an obnoxious laugh.

    At least it looked like he wasn't taking it hard at all. Denzel was busy talking to interviewers, so I opted to ask about Mira's opponent before he came back.

    "Why are you so out of the loop?" Justin asked. "Even I know, and Mira and I don't talk much."

    "I was busy."

    "Some psychic type specialist that I don't remember the name of," he explained.

    Psychic type specialist? That would probably be one hell of a battle, with how annoying a single psychic was to face.

    "Don't get so excited," Pauline noticed. "Her name's Megan Barett. She's a first-year three badge holder, so Mira will probably wipe the floor with her."

    "We're first-year three-badge holders," Maeve grumbled.

    "We're different," Pauline shrugged.

    "Type specialists are usually adept at bringing out the best of their Pokemon," I said. "She could have some tricks up her sleeves. I wouldn't underestimate her."

    "Well, her battle's this evening anyway, so you'll have to wait to figure it out," the redhead smirked. "Oh, Denzel's done!"

    We all walked down from the bleachers and congratulated our friend, who looked somewhat shaken. I didn't blame him. That Smeargle had almost managed to pull out an incredible comeback, and if he hadn't owned Milotic to resist the flames, then he probably would have lost. I doubted that Sylveon would have been able to do much. Fairies tended not to deal with fire very well.

    "The information I managed to get was outdated," Denzel explained. "And he didn't train at all before the match, so Froslass didn't bring back anything of note when I sent her out to spy. Flare Blitz is an insane move to teach. How'd he even get that?! I thought Smeargle needed to see a move and study it for days before they could copy it."

    "Well, he must have some connections," Louis said. "It's unlikely that he would have come across a trainer with the move during his travels."

    "Whatever, at least we're done. I'd rather fight normal teams than gimmicks like that all days of the week," he said, looking around. "Mira isn't here?"

    "She said she'd be training the entire day and not to disturb her," Maeve said.

    "What should we do until her match, then? What terrain is it on, even?"

    "Grass Field, just like you," she replied. "I wish I could check my field in advance… they only tell you the day of your fight. If I get the Water Field, I'll be the unluckiest girl on the planet."

    "Your Starmie would do rather well, no?" Louis asked.

    "Yes, but we've never fought in water before, so it'd be a first."

    "First Louis' Prinplup and now you?" Pauline laughed.

    "What is everyone doing now?" Denzel asked.

    "Well, it depends when my next opponent is revealed," I said. "If it's today, then I'll need to go back to my room to figure out what pair to start with first."

    "It depends on when the people next to you on the bracket fight, I haven't checked it out yet," he said.

    "Oh, I forgot. Do they have a website for it or something?"

    All of my friends groaned at me, and showed me the tournament website, which was under serious strain due to all the current traffic. The bracket was huge, but the coders had fortunately included a search function. We were all on the left side of the bracket with the exception of Louis and Justin, who were on the right.

    "It feels lonely down there," Louis joked. A sign that he was getting better.

    "You won't be lonely with Justin around," I smiled.

    Still, knowing the bracket meant that I could just look at my potential two opponents… but I decided to wait. They were fighting today, so it wouldn't be long until I knew anyway. After Denzel brought his Pokemon to the Center, we decided to all go grab an early lunch. During the event, I pulled on Cece's sleeve, and we said that we were going to the bathroom. Pauline and Maeve offered to join, but after an awkward refusal, we were already gone. There were unfortunately people, so we entered a stall and locked the door.

    "What's gotten into you?" Cecilia asked, staring to the side embarrassingly.

    "I wanted to talk about Pauline," I whispered. "Her relationship issues, I mean."

    She relaxed with a sigh.

    "Did you think I was going to do something else?" I teased.

    "Nothing of the sort!"

    I laughed. "Anyway, Denzel helped us… figure it out, right? Doesn't it feel bad watching them flail around each other? Is this what we looked like?"

    "Probably. But this is probably the last thing she should have on her mind with the tournament, no?"

    "It's already on her mind, she can barely stop herself from looking at the guy," I rolled my eyes.

    "Fine… but in this case, it's between three people. We don't want to be rash and do something we'd regret. I think it's best if we let it sort itself out."

    "Hm…" I hummed.

    I bit my lip softly and sighed. She was right.

    "Yeah, it's not our place. This is delicate and we don't want to fuck anything up, especially when things already used to be tense."

    She nodded. "You're a lot more reasonable than I thought you'd be."

    "What? What'd I do to deserve that?"

    "You can be very headstrong."

    "Nuh-uh, I'm a very practical girl. I can do all kinds of stuff and be reasonable."

    "All kinds of stuff… if we're talking about battling, then maybe."

    "Ouch. I'm so hurt," I feigned. "Anyway, let's get out of here. I bet the others are going to be obnoxious about this 'cause they'll think we did something."

    "Well to be honest, I thought it was either that or tampons. You always forget to carry some just in case."

    "I don't always—"

    "I have text messages for proof, Grace. So do Pauline and Emi."



    I was back inside of my room, and my next opponent had finally been revealed for tomorrow's battle. I had… an hour left until Mira's battle, so I could at least check what his team was about. Yasim Benzema was a second-year with four badges, and I knew right away that he'd be a lot harder to beat than my previous opponent. He looked to be a trainer that specialized in fighting during a Sandstorm. First, there was a Magnezone, which I assumed was for variety or to cover the weakness against water. His other Pokemon was Lairon, but the two who really caught my eye were Vibrava and Hippowdon.

    I didn't need to study his team to know that Hippowdon would create a sandstorm by just being out on the field. Vibrava, meanwhile, was a dragon type, although I knew I'd be able to handle it with enough care. There was no way it'd be as powerful as Zweilous, at the very least, but I would need to be careful. The fact that this team was full of ground types meant that Honey was out of the picture. Even if the Sandstorm would stop us from being able to trigger Chlorophyll, Angel was obviously going to fight again. But who could be his teammate? I feared that Sweetheart wouldn't be able to do much to our opponents, but maybe I could bring her in if one of the others fainted. That left me with Buddy or Princess.

    Buddy would be good if we just wanted to rush down the opposition before they could hope to do anything. What I had learned from watching all of these double battles was that they tended to be fast-paced and over quickly, and I could lean into that if I wished, but that Magnezone was scaring me. I had no idea if it owned Lock-On like Mira's, or how powerful its electric type attacks even were. I clenched my hand around my Poketch.

    "Come on, I can handle at least one more round of improv," I breathed. "One."

    Togetic comforted me by nuzzling against my neck, and I gently caressed her head.

    If Princess was to fight, she'd need to support Angel every step of the way. Already, I knew that Hippowdon would be the opponent's field controller, and they would compete for supremacy. Ancient Power would be a huge boon unless we were on the Water Field, but then Yasim would be a lot more screwed than I was.

    "I think it's gotta be you," I told Togetic. She let out a firm cry, letting me know that she was ready. "Let's show off your new spears, shall we?"

    A grin stretched across her face, and I mirrored her.

    "I know, right?" I said. "But remember, only in moderation. Let's not wound more than necessary… I feel bad for what happened to Kyle. Sweetheart's going to be jealous that you're stealing her thunder."

    "Prrrri…" she sighed.

    "Yeah. With that team, it'll be tough to use them, but I think we can ground that Vibrava with just one spear through the abdomen— a small one, just to be safe. I don't think its scales look that tough. If the abdomen doesn't work, we can go for the wings. Lairon and Magnezone are another story though. Hippowdon… I'm not sure."

    "Toge!"

    "Looks like you'll fight a dragon after all, Princess. Just try to behave nicely okay? I know you'd do something like picture Sunshine and go completely wild on that poor Vibrava. Promise?"

    The fairy type reluctantly nodded, and for some reason, I actually felt bad for her even though what I was asking for was completely reasonable.

    I think she's rubbing off on me, I thought as I pet her.



    "Grace, you were almost late!" Denzel complained. "What were you—"

    "Working," I answered. "And I made it, didn't I?"

    Mira and Megan Barett stood on opposite sides of the Grass Field, awaiting for the supervisor to let them start. The man made us wait for two minutes to finish some random phone call, and the battle could finally begin.

    "This is a battle between Mira Compton and Megan Barett. Trainers, send out your Pokemon!"

    "Gotcha!" Mira laughed, sending out her Haunter and her Magnezone.

    Megan twitched nervously at the sight of the ghost, who taunted her with his permanent grin as poison oozed onto the floor, melting off the grass. Magnezone let out a series of static clicks and booms, clearly irritated at the ghost type.

    "Let him have some fun, he's been good!" Mira snorted. "Anyway, send out your team, gal!"

    With a trembling hand, the girl sent out a Metang and Galarian Ponyta. I was surprised to see a regional form from a trainer that new. Instead of flames, a fluffy purple and turquoise mane fluttered in the wind. Metang, meanwhile, clanged its two fists together angrily. This one had normal colors, unlike Emi's Beldum, but they were still ridiculously rare and expensive. Combined with the fact that she had a regional form, I guessed that Megan was probably the daughter of some rich family.

    "Begin!"

    "Be a nice boy, Haunter! Toxic!" Mira yelled. "Magnezone, Lock-On and Flash Cannon the Ponyta!"

    With a taunting cackle, Haunter vanished, and his poison stopped dripping onto the ground. There was a shimmer across Magnezone's blank stare, and a blinding light appeared in front of the steel type. With a buzzing sound, he sent out the Flash Cannon toward Ponyta.

    "Ally Switch!" Megan yelled, her voice trembling.

    I blinked, and Metang and Ponyta swapped places without a sound. The Flash Cannon tried to curve to reach Ponyta, but it hit the steel type in the arm. Haunter reappeared right above the Ponyta and dove down toward the psychic type, coating its entire body in poison.

    It just washed off of the horse.

    "Psybeam, Psychic!"

    Ponyta appeared to be immune to being poisoned, and a beam of multicolored energy appeared above her horn, dissolving Haunter into nothing. The bits that were left were seized by Metang's Psychic and relentlessly attacked.

    "Man, this is no fun. Go save him," Mira waved at her Magnezone.

    The electric type hummed as he flew toward his two enemies. Electricity crackled in between his magnets.

    "Ponyta, Psybeam it! Buy us some time!"

    Magnezone simply brushed of the beam of psychic energy and exploded in a burst of electricity. Discharge. He didn't even care if Haunter was caught in the crossfire, demonstrating the fundamental differences between her and Denzel. Haunter laughed and reappeared, harmed from the Psychic he had taken but nowhere near done yet.

    "You can't poison them, it has Pastel Veil. Use Curse on Metang instead!"

    The ghost's grin stretched impossibly widely as his eyes went red, and Metang's eyes flickered. The Curse was beginning to run its course. Haunter, for his part, winced. The first sign of pain that he had ever shown in the battle.

    "Focus on Ponyta now. Hex and Flash Cannon."

    "Stop them! Ally Switch!"

    I winced when the two attacks landed on the poor Ponyta. Hex turned the psychic type into a smoking mess, and Flash Cannon completely enveloped her body. Ally Switch was a ridiculously difficult technique that required an even better control than Teleport, so doing so while under Curse's influence was nigh impossible for a Pokemon of our level. Ponyta quickly fainted, and Haunter licked its unconscious, limp body.

    "Stop it, you creep!" Megan shrieked, recalling her Ponyta.

    "Sorry, he's still working on that."

    "Psychic that Haunter!"

    The girl clicked her tongue when a Thunderbolt from Magnezone stopped her Metang from hurting Haunter, and she sent out a Kirlia.

    "Wait, you have one too? That's so cool!"

    "Shut it! Kirlia, Teleport and Thunder Punch the Haunter! Metang, get it together!"

    The steel type let out a series of mechanical sounds and finally managed to restrain Haunter with Psychic again, and Kirlia teleported on top of his body to punch him with its fist coated in electricity while he was restrained. Unfortunately, Haunter wasn't solid, he was viscous at best, so despite the attack running its course, the psychic type just fell to the floor, and Magnezone hit it with another Flash Cannon.

    Megan was unraveling before our very eyes. Kirlia wasn't done, but two more of those and she would be.

    "Get on top of Magnezone instead and Fire Punch!" She yelled.

    This time, Mira was caught by surprise. Kirlia teleported on Magnezone's head and firmly gripped his antenna in order not to fall. Meanwhile, Haunter gathered an enormous amount of ghostly energy in front of his mouth. The Shadow Ball hit Metang, and the steel type crashed to the floor. The abuse it had taken from Curse had proven too much. Kirlia repeatedly hit Magnezone with Fire Punch, and the electric type intentionally rammed against Kadabra's barrier to get it off.

    Megan sent out a Farigiraf, her last Pokemon. The tall psychic type craned its neck and both of its pair of eyes eyed Haunter with disdain.

    "Toxic and Venoshock, go!" Mira ordered.

    "Stop him with Twin Beam!"

    Two pink rays of energy appeared above Farigiraf's head and barreled toward Haunter. With all the damage he'd taken, he'd gotten slow. The two beams hit Haunter before he could disappear, and the poison type exploded. Kirlia had teleported back on Magnezone's back, but this time, Mira was ready.

    "Just blow up with Discharge, no need to panic."

    The steel type hummed, and once again, a blinding ball of electricity exploded outward, engulfing Kirlia. The psychic type fell off of his body and struggled to get up, but as a parting gift, Haunter reappeared around her, choking her from the inside out with toxic fumes. For a second, I was scared that he'd kill it, but he stopped once it fell unconscious.

    Everyone around me breathed a sigh of relief, and Haunter was dealt with after another Twin Beam from Farigiraf, who was the only one left standing.

    "Man, I wanted to try to win without losing anyone," Mira pouted. She sent out her Kadabra. "Charge Beam. Magnezone, Tri Attack."

    "Calm Mind!"

    Farigiraf closed all four of its eyes and focused, hoping to resist what was coming. Kadabra's spoon shook and rattled erratically until it bent, and electricity shot out of the tip. Beams of ice, fire and electricity fired out of Magnezone's body. All of the attacks hit the giraffe at once. Burns and ice coated its neck and flanks.

    It was still standing.

    "Now, Twin Beam the Magnezone!"

    "Teleport and Dazzling Gleam."

    In less than a second, Kadabra was right in front of his opponent, and a blinding light came out of his spoon, affecting Farigiraf's aim. The Twin Beams hit the psychic wall, and another Tri Attack from Magnezone was the end of the normal type. Its neck went limp, bending more than I thought was possible, and Megan recalled it before it even fell to the ground.

    "Victory to Mira Compton!"


    A/N: Thank you Sevenfold artisan of the rainbow#0088 and Illuma#0925 for the teams!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2023
  28. Threadmarks: Chapter 147
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 147

    "That was something," I muttered as Mira recalled her Pokemon.

    Her Pokemon were certainly threatening, but I felt like I needed to see her struggle more to see what she was really about. She was irritating to face for people that easily got frustrated with snarky comments, but I figured that if I ever had to fight her, those wouldn't work on me. Haunter's Curse was worrisome and Magnezone brought the raw power that Mira needed to her team, but the thing that worried me the most was that Kadabra's versatility. Like Princess, he was the one that would pull the strings in a battle, and the fact that I had identified him as the scariest thing on her team when he had only battled for barely one minute was proof enough.

    Strangely, it looked like every non-psychic type attack came from his spoon. Pokemon all had different ways of using moves that weren't their typing, so a part of me wondered if I could cripple him by knocking his spoon out of his hand somehow. Hell, it might even make his psychic moves harder to use. I could have Angel twist his arm until the pain proved too much and he had to let go, maybe? With how frail Kadabra was, that was certainly an option, but there was a problem. Twisting his arm could leave him enough time to escape. With the way Goalducc had written about her, it seemed like Kadabra was capable of using Teleport even under severe pain or strain, so I'd need to permanently stop him from being able to grab things.

    Shattering his hands, maybe? One Power Whip would probably be enough. But for that, I'd need to catch him in the first place, which would prove difficult with how adept he was at Teleport. I didn't exactly like that method, though. It felt a lot more ruthless than I wanted to be, even if it was probably the most efficient way of going about things.

    I was starting to see battles through the lens of someone that needed to cripple her opponents in the quickest possible manner to take them out of the fight as quickly and neatly as possible, and I wanted to reign that in a little. This was a sport for fun, not some kind of life-or-death fight, and it'd make me a bad influence on Princess, who was already having problems with that distinction. Hell, even Sweetheart was starting to grow in that direction.

    Oh well, I sighed. With how the brackets were arranged, Mira would have to go through Lauren before going through me, so I had time to figure it out.

    We made our way toward Mira as soon as she was done with the reporters. She seemingly had annoyed them so much with her attitude that they quickly moved on to her opponent instead. The pink-haired girl pouted as she slowly walked toward us.

    "Don't make that face when you won, it makes you look ungrateful," Maeve said.

    "Alright, mom."

    "You were great out there," Louis said. We all echoed his words.

    "I know, right? I wanted my win to be more dominant, but it was still fun, and I'm super happy that Haunter behaved."

    "What'd you even do to convince him?" I asked.

    "Well, I told him that we'd stop playing catch if he killed anything."

    We all stared at her confusedly.

    "Play catch? How does that even work?" Denzel asked.

    "You never play catch before, big boy? I throw the ball and he catches it. I have to play with gloves because his poison gets all over the ball when he carries it with his entire body."

    "That's… innovative."

    "He's been improving leaps and bounds ever since. I was thinking of buying a soccer ball to see how big we can go—"

    Cecilia coughed to interrupt her. "Well, that's all of today's battle done. What is everyone's plan now?"

    Everyone that would battle tomorrow answered with training, but Denzel, Mira, and I were free. I actually felt a bit miffed at that, since I wanted to see Cecilia's Golett again, but she wanted to be as secretive as possible. Everyone but us three in the group left.

    "Don't look so down," Denzel said, gently patting my shoulder. "You can come hang with me for a bit."

    "Don't exclude me," Mira said.

    "Err, right."

    "I was gonna practice too," I said. "I've got to get my starting lineup ready for my next battle—"

    "Which is in two days," my friend interrupted. "A few hours with us won't hurt."

    "You're just jealous that your team's at the Center and mine isn't," I jabbed.

    "That is a low blow."

    "You can take it," I smugly said. "But fine, I guess I'll hang. I had a few questions for Mira anyway."

    "You want to know how I managed to be this awesome?" She asked as she struck a pose.

    "No, I want to know about your Kadabra."

    "That's off-limits, missy. At least until one of us is out of the tournament."

    "Alright, alright," I innocently lifted my hands.

    We started to walk toward our Pokemon Center so that Mira could get her team healed. Since it was late in the evening and Solaceon seemed to not believe in the concept of streetlights on its long, lonely roads, we were alone in the dark.

    "You know, I do have a question that you could answer, though. How does a Kadabra evolve?"

    I had the rough knowledge that it wasn't simply by encountering a stressful situation and getting stronger in battle, but I didn't actually know the exact method. They were rare enough that the League itself resigned to mass breeding and evolving Abra into Kadabra instead of their more advanced forms, so clearly there was a bottleneck somewhere.

    "I actually don't know either," Denzel said.

    "Well, I said no questions, but I guess that one is innocent enough," Mira mused. "Kadabra will only evolve into Alakazam when they want to."

    I frowned. "What? So you mean they can do it at any time?"

    "Not exactly. They have to amass enough knowledge first, which could take months or years. It can be knowledge about anything, they just have to grow smart enough and learn stuff first. My Kadabra likes history and biology. He'll ramble at me for hours about how enzymes bind substrates to convert them into different molecules or about the books that Cynthia wrote back in the day about Sinnohan history or whatever. Honestly, that stuff goes in one ear and out the next. Or… well, that doesn't really work with telepathy, but you get it. His true passion, however, is Type Energy."

    "Type Energy? Could you be more specific?" I asked. That actually went hand in hand with what I wanted to figure out.

    "It's his life's work. He wants to figure out where it comes from and how it works exactly. Science can't explain it, the energy's just there inside of Pokemon or floating in the air, and they can convert that into moves. Kadabra channels it into his spoon to use all kinds of attacks. It's like gravity, right? A fundamental law of the universe, but only Pokemon can use it."

    "I mean, my Electabuzz had to use physics to first start using moves like Fire Punch, but now he can just do it," I muttered. "So I suppose you're right."

    "Same for Lopunny. It's a starting point. They get familiar with the move enough for them to eventually be able to pull on the energy and use it."

    "See?" Mira smiled. "Anyway, Kadabra wants to figure out the ins and outs of TE. A Kadabra won't evolve until it learns everything there is to learn about the topic it's passionate about. Everything."

    I let out a whistle. That was certainly interesting, but it seemed so daunting of a task that I believed it to be impossible.

    And yet, Alakazam existed. They were rare, but they existed.

    "And of course, they tend to pick the hardest topics in the Arceus damned universe, and the worse is, when they figure it out, they don't tell anybody. Even their trainers. They hoard the knowledge for themselves like Murkrow do with jewelry. Otherwise, don't you think we would have figured out a whole lot more by now? Hell, we'd probably be living in a utopia and have colonized the stars."

    "Or maybe we should be glad that they don't kill us all and take over," Denzel joked.

    "They would never do that. Kadabra in general think of themselves above petty human squabbles. War? Money? Power? Why worry about that when there's more knowledge to be gained."

    "I know, I was just making a joke. I thought you of all people would know."

    "Oh, my bad. I get really passionate about this stuff. Anyway, when a Kadabra evolves into an Alakazam, the floodgates open and they try to learn about everything in the world. Literally everything— all of the knowledge available to us right now. Needless to say, none of them have succeeded yet. They aren't immortal, so they never have enough time to do so. To be honest, even if they were, I doubt that there'd be any way for one to figure everything out."

    "It makes you wonder what one might do if one did, though," I said nonchalantly.

    Then, I realized what that implied and felt a chill run down my spine.

    "Let's hope that day doesn't come," Denzel said with a nervous laugh.

    After the two gave their Pokemon to Nurse Joy, we decided to stick in Denzel's room, since his was the cleanest. He took a selfie with his Sylveon to post online, hoping that it'd get more traction after his battle, and then we lazily lounged around his room.

    "I heard you had a Milotic, big guy," Mira said. "I didn't think your Feebas would evolve that fast."

    "Me neither. I didn't exactly have anything to do with it, which is kind of embarrassing," he said. "It feels bad that I had to reveal him this early. Goalducc already sent me an apology for calling him useless."

    "I'm surprised at how good he was already though. He seemed to move quickly enough, and that Wrap was tight," I said.

    "It took a bit of practice to get Wrap and Water Pulse up to par, but the biggest challenge was getting Milotic to move properly. Right now, I settled on him secreting water out of his scales to smoothen his movement."

    "Don't make it sound so disgusting," Mira said.

    "I'm just telling a fact…"

    "A disgusting fact. Anyway, I actually had a favor to ask of you guys."

    "You didn't want to answer my questions about Kadabra, so…" I said.

    "I gave you so much information though! And I know you'll probably use it to your advantage. It's not even about this tournament anyway. It's about Chasey."

    "Didn't he ask you not to call him that?" I said.

    "Well, he's not here, is he?"

    I was going to retort, but then I realized that I called my Turtonator Sunshine in my head or when he wasn't out of his ball even though he disliked it, so I couldn't really talk.

    "Set me up with him," she continued. "He's hot."

    "He also hates you," Denzel said.

    "I can grow on him. I grow on everyone. I'm like moss or a fungus."

    "I don't know, the more you try to pry him open, the more he'll shut himself off. You've got to give him his space and act cool," I said.

    Mira scoffed. "Pry him open? Who says that?"

    "Me!"

    "Okay, so acting cool… you mean like, distant? I don't like to play hard to get. I see something I like, I want to go get it, y'know? I wish he'd stayed. Now the only time I'll be able to meet him again is Veilstone."

    "I just mean acting normally," I sighed.

    "I mean, I guess I can try to help you, but don't expect results," Denzel said. "I managed with Cece and Grace, but—"

    "Oooooh, you're the one that set them up? You've got a one hundred percent success rate!"

    "Yeah, because I only did it once."

    "Whatever, that's good enough for me. Hey, Grace, Chase seems to like you enough, so I think he'd take your advice if you asked him to try to be my friend. I can start from there and work my way up."

    "Err…"

    I already had Pauline, Denzel, and Emilia to worry about, and now this? Sure, I'd told Cece that I'd let them figure things out on their own, but I still wanted to nudge them in the right direction somehow and observe their progress.

    Plus, Chase seemed completely uninterested in Romance anyway.

    "I'll try my best?"

    "That's not a yes or a no, but I'll take it," Mira said.



    It was currently the middle of the night, and I was standing outside close to Sunshine for his body heat that he had so graciously raised for me after I begged for ten minutes. It was a particularly cold night, but this was the only time I'd be able to train my Pokemon's new moves. Cecilia had warned me about some guy with two Cutiefly that had managed to catch her training, so I was on guard for anything. I wished I had a psychic to sense them, but unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to do so until my eighth gym badge and I got my license to carry more than six Pokemon. It might be good to start planning for it in advance, though.

    But then again, the last time I had planned for a fire type, I was completely blindsided. Who knew what was going to happen in all those months?

    Right now, I was in the middle of a Sandstorm. Togetic, Turtonator and Electabuzz stood with me, and we were protected by Princess' barrier that she had created with Psychic. Sunshine was actually tough enough to brave the Sandstorm, but he just hadn't felt like it, so he asked to be protected as well. It took some convincing for Princess to even deign to include him in her psychic bubble.

    The bubble was actually new as well, and we had taken inspiration from Cecilia's Slowking for it. She wasn't as good as he was with it, and she couldn't keep it up for long, but it worked, and it would prove useful in my battle in two days, both for the Sandstorm and against Magnezone's attacks.

    Well, tomorrow's battle now, since it was three in the morning.

    So this was a way to train her resistance to Sandstorm. Jellicent was practicing his by standing in the storm and making his body as liquid as possible in hopes that the sand would just pass through him, but it didn't look like it was going to work. Tangrowth was simply trying his best to take the brunt of the damage, which his vines protected him from.

    Jellicent, Tangrowth and Togetic were the ones I was sure I was going to use in the battle, and they were all training their resistance to Sandstorm. Larvitar was the source, of course, and she'd gotten quite good at it. This was nowhere near Palossand's power, but it would do for now. I doubted that Yasim's own Sandstorm would be that powerful anyway. I had looked up information about Tyranitar recently, and apparently the only ability they had was Sand Stream. That meant that Sweetheart's practice here would pay dividends down the line.

    The oddest part of the Tyranitar line was their second stage, where they'd be stuck in a cocoon-like form. I didn't think it was likely, but on the off-chance that Sweetheart somehow evolved during this tournament, I needed to be ready. Luckily, I had a treasure trove of information called the internet.

    Pupitar are slow-moving Pokemon that tend to spend most of their time underground to hide away from potential predators while they await their evolution. They live off a diet of rocks, minerals, and soil, but are also capable of eating meat or kibble-based foods. Berries and plants will not be enough to sustain your Pupitar. They are nocturnal Pokemon that are mostly active at night, but with enough work, it is possible to readjust a Pupitar's sleep pattern. They will actually spend most of their time asleep, as rest is quintessential to building up their energy to evolve…

    I groaned and wiped some sand away from my screen. Some of the grains were breaking through. Princess let out a small apology, and I smiled at her.

    "It's okay, I'm not mad. You pushed yourself well," I gently said. "Sweetheart, you can stop now!" I yelled.

    The Sandstorm slowly subsided, and the rock type strode up to me confidently. Her win had made her a lot happier, and all she wanted to do was train all the time. I rubbed her hard cheeks and she nuzzled her head against my hand.

    "That was a great Sandstorm. And you're not even tired!"

    "Larvitar!" She exclaimed.

    Turtonator whispered a congratulation to her, and I teased him about it until he suddenly stood up, causing me to fall over, and walked away from me.

    "Come on! I'm sorry!"

    I walked up to him, but he stopped me with a glare. Meanwhile, he let Larvitar cuddle up to him as much as she wanted. Togetic stared daggers at him, but Electabuzz got her to chill out. He was getting good at that. His old self hadn't been that level-headed at all, which was a sign that he was growing up fast.

    "Fine," I sighed, resigning to suffer in the cold. As I turned to Jellicent and Tangrowth, it seemed that they had taken some amount of damage. I had asked Buddy not to regenerate so we could see how much exactly at the end of the experiment, and there were deep gashes, cuts, and holes all over his head.

    "Not bad," I whispered. "You can Recover now."

    In a few seconds, he was as good as new. Tangrowth, meanwhile, looked to be relatively fine. Some of his vines had been torn up, but aside from that, I couldn't exactly tell how much damage he'd taken.

    "Do you think you'd be able to fight like this without the sun?" I asked. The Sandstorm would stop us from using Sunny Day. "I think this battle will be longer and harder than the other one."

    Angel blinked twice, but then motioned two vines to his eyes.

    "The sand hurts your eyes the most, huh? We've got to figure out something for that… maybe Princess can give you a shield too? Or if that's too big, one around your eyes?"

    "Toge…" the fairy type grumbled.

    "Hard to do when he's moving, huh? Well, that's a bust for our fight, but we can work on it for the future, at least… after you get some rest. I don't think I'm going back the Pokemon Center tonight anyway, despite how cold it is," I said, raising my tone at the end of the sentence. Turtonator snorted, and Larvitar imitated him. "Hey, don't behave like he does! He's a bad influence on you! Come back here."

    The rock type sadly shuffled toward me.

    "Don't turn my kid into you," I said. "Otherwise, I'll have my hands full. One of you is enough."

    The fire type rolled his eyes at me, Jellicent floated toward Larvitar to comfort her, and I went back to reading.

    …If a Pupitar is caught by a predator and desperately needs to flee, it can fly by—

    My eyes bulged, and my head snapped toward Sweetheart. "You can fly?!"

    Larvitar blinked at me confusedly, but then excitedly agreed anyway.

    "No, I mean—" I stopped, staring into her Lillipup eyes. "You know what, you can fly."

    "Tar!" She beamed, her previous sadness completely forgotten.

    —It can fly by forcefully ejecting pressurized gas from the numerous vents inside of its body. Once all of this gas is expunged, however, it is no longer capable of flight. It usually takes from ten to fifteen hours for the vents to reach full capacity again. A Pupitar will usually need to spend six months to a year in its cocoon form to evolve fully, but the evolution process can be sped up through the amount and quality of the food that it is fed.

    That was interesting. So a Pupitar would always evolve into a Tyranitar, it was just a matter of how long it took. With the amount of food that Sweetheart already ate, I'd probably need to feed her evolved form as much as a Snorlax to get her to evolve quickly enough for the Conference. According to this though, it would mainly have to be nutrient-rich dirt and rocks, and normal dirt wasn't enough to speed up the process.

    Where the hell was I going to find that? What did nutrient-rich dirt even mean? Wasn't all dirt… nutrient-rich? Eugh. Now I couldn't help but imagine what the hell was in that dirt.

    After more sleuthing, there were apparently a few breeders that sold specialized soil for Pokemon that ate it, but their products cost an arm and a leg.

    Well, hopefully by then, my contract with the Poketch Company will have been improved. Plus, I'd win money from this tournament if I placed into the top ten, and even more if I made it to the top four.

    With a stretch, I yawned, and Electabuzz sat down to let me lean against his shoulder.

    "Man, I'm going to be so tired tomorrow."

    "Ele…"

    "I know, I know, you told me to go to sleep. Sorry for making you worry about me."



    And tired I was. I didn't know what I'd expected when pulling an all-nighter, but at least we had made good progress with training. There had been a little incident where Sweetheart got a little too excited and hit Turtonator with a Smack Down, but he paid her no mind. It wasn't like it even hurt him whatsoever. He was very gentle with her, especially compared to how he treated the rest of the team. He seemed to have some connection with Buddy, and they sometimes went on long tangents about depressing topics like the meaning of life, but he seemed pretty indifferent about the rest of the team, and obviously he still disliked Princess.

    Unfortunately, Louis' and Justin's battles were at the same time. Louis would battle on the Rocky Field, and Justin would battle on the Desert Field. After checking in with Justin to see if he didn't mind, I opted to go see Louis battle to see how much he had progressed. Cecilia, Mira, Maeve and Denzel were with me while Pauline was watching Justin battle. Like Louis, he was fighting a fellow trainer with three badges, so at least they would probably be on equal footing. Louis' opponent's name was Victor Hamilton, and I didn't know much about him. I had expected Denzel to fill me in, but with all the training and spying he had to focus on, he hadn't had much time to stay informed about trainers that didn't pertain to him. Still, maybe it'd be interesting to see someone that I had no idea about fight. Maybe I'd try to predict what he wanted to do next.

    "This is a battle between Louis Bianchi and Victor Hamilton. Trainers, send out your Pokemon," the supervisor said.

    Louis sent out his Vulpix and Gible, while Victor sent out a Rhyhorn and Murkrow. Gible had grown a whole lot in size, and he was at least one point five times bigger than the last time I'd seen him. The dragon type flashed his thick, sharp teeth and roared while Vulpix just stared at him with surprisingly human annoyance. Victor's Rhyhorn had an unexpected amount of intellect behind those eyes that I didn't usually see in Rhyhorn and Rhydon, while Murkrow just lazily took flight.

    "Begin!"

    "Murkrow, Haze!" Victor yelled.

    The dark type let out an ominous caw and beat its wings, and a thick fog set in. A groan ran through the bleachers now that we wouldn't be able to see anything that was going on unless the action came close to the barriers.

    "Now, Bulldoze them to bits!" He continued.

    I heard Rhyhorn yell and then the floor began to shake. I immediately understood the strategy here. Murkrow's job was to keep Rhyhorn hidden, while the rock type hopefully would Bulldoze their opponents into submissions before they could fight back. I was honestly impressed. Vulpix cried out in pain, and Louis clicked his tongue.

    "Gible, Sandstorm!" He ordered.

    The dragon slammed a foot against the floor, mixing a Sandstorm with Murkrow's Haze. It was weaker than Sweetheart's but it would at least deal damage to the bird.

    "Keep your Bulldoze going!" Victor screamed.

    "Use Bulldoze! Find the Rhyhorn!" Louis said. "Vulpix, try to find Murkrow with Flamethrower!"

    Streaks of light broke through the Haze and Sandstorm, illuminating the battlefield from within. Both trainers seemed content to let their ground types run wild, but Louis was the one at a disadvantage here. Vulpix was taking collateral damage, and Murkrow wasn't. She wasn't having much luck finding the bird in the air either. If Louis wanted to win, he needed to neutralize that Murkrow.

    But he did not. He kept the situation to a standstill until Vulpix's Flamethrowers stopped. She was down. He immediately sent out another Pokemon, and I recognized Prinplup's honk. Louis fought differently from how everyone else did. Trainers were usually proactive, meaning that they tried to get ahead of whatever their opponent had in store. He used to do the same, but he had changed completely. Now, he was a slow battler, and he reacted instead of acting. I didn't like it, but I'd have to wait to see if it paid off.

    "Icy Wind! Spread it as wide as you can toward the sky!" Louis ordered.

    I couldn't see if the attack hit its mark, but I heard a thud on the floor, and the fog slowly started to clear.

    "Ice Beam the Murkrow! Gible, stop your Bulldoze and Sand Tomb Rhyhorn!"

    Murkrow shrieked as the thin beam of ice completely froze its wing, and Rhyhorn sank into the muddy floor. Gible's Sand Tomb had changed, and it was now like Krokorok's. The rock type's Bulldoze stopped as it struggled to even stand up in the pool of mud.

    "Gible, Twister the Murkrow. Prinplup, Ice Beam again."

    A tornado started to pick up, kicking up dust, rocks and draconic energy. Murkrow was stuck in the middle, getting hit by everything. The dark type cawed and attempted to fly off, but it couldn't fly with its frozen wing. Another Ice Beam hit it directly in the face, and the crow finally fell. Before Victor could even send his next Pokemon, Louis pivoted the attack to Rhyhorn.

    Victor released a Misdreavus, and it flickered in the morning light, clearly unhappy with the weather. I was surprised that he owned a ghost. Outside of Fantina and Mira, this was the only trained one I'd seen.

    "Misdreavus, Shadow Ball!" He yelled, pointing toward Gible.

    "Gible, keep that Rhyhorn trapped!"

    "Stop fucking panicking and get out of that pit!" Victor yelled at Rhyhorn. "You know what, nevermind, just Rock Slide, damn it!"

    Misdreavus disappeared right as it started charging up a Shadow Ball, and Rhyhorn simply ceased his struggling as a boulder next to it disintegrated and the large fragments flew toward Prinplup.

    "Whirpool! Gible, Dragon Breath Rhyhorn!"

    Prinplup ejected an incredible amount of water from his mouth, and it quickly began to spin, forming into a spiral. The Rock Slide was caught in the vortex, and only the quickest of the rocks made it through, cutting and hitting the water type all over his body. Gible roared, and a Dragon Breath shot out toward Rhyhorn. Misdreavus appeared behind the dragon with a weak-looking Shadow Ball—

    "Now!"

    Gible turned one hundred and eighty degrees as darkness danced in his mouth. The Shadow Ball crashed into his face. Prinplup quickly shot out a Bubblebeam at the Misdreavus, who hadn't expected such a quick reaction, and neither did Victor.

    It took me a bit to understand why. Louis had fought Fantina and won, meaning that he was used to ghostly tricks. Most of the trainers here came from the east, and they hadn't fought Fantina quite yet. In fact, they were probably on their way to do so and participating in the tournament because they were passing through. With how rare ghosts were, Victor probably wasn't used to his opponents being able to fight back.

    Gible bit at the Misdreavus with a short awkward hop and destroyed half of its body using Crunch. Some of the Bubblebeam hit the dragon too, but it looked like he hadn't even been phased.

    "Finish off the Rhyhorn, quick!"

    That poor Rhyhorn had still been stuck in Sand Tomb. It was too heavy to just walk out, even when Gible stopped using the move. It just kept sinking into the quicksand the more it tried to get out. An Ice Beam dealt the final blow, and Victor recalled his rock type.

    Louis had looked like he was on the defensive, but he was winning.

    Victor grimaced as he sent his out a Skuntank. I reflectively wrinkled my nose, but the Kadabra barriers would keep the smell contained. Misdreavus reappeared next to her companion, ghostly energy leaking out of her.

    Louis waited for him to do the first move.

    "Skuntank, get in there and Night Slash! Misdreavus, Nasty Plot and support her from afar!"

    Misdreavus sniggered as the whispers emanating from the ghost grew louder and louder. With surprising speed, Skuntank dashed toward her opponents, her claws growing dark.

    "Gible, Sand Tomb!"

    "Jump!"

    The poison type leaped over the liquefied sand, landing right next to Prinplup and slashing across his chest. Blood seeped out of the three claw marks, and the water type was knocked to the ground.

    "Gible, Dragon Claw—"

    "Sucker Punch!"

    The poison type blurred behind Gible and knocked him down with another clawed attack. His tough scales blocked the brunt of the damage, but when Gible turned to fight back, a Shadow Ball from Misdreavus hit his side.

    "Prinplup, Ice Beam that Skuntank!"

    Still on the floor, Prinplup spat out another ray of ice. The dark type's eyes narrowed, and it used Sucker Punch to dodge again, this time hitting Prinplup instead.

    "Stop his assault with Bulldoze!"

    Before Skuntank could Sucker Punch again, the floor shook and interrupted her. Misdreavus appeared above the melee and hit Prinpup with a powerful Hex. The water type fainted, but in a fit of rage that reminded me of his old self, Gible wildly slashed at Skuntank with Dragon Claw instead of finishing his Bulldoze.

    Was he… attached to Prinplup now? Skuntank let out a pain-filled scream as Gible kept digging toward its insides. Misdreavus helped its ally with another Hex, but Skuntank's flank was almost unrecognizable. There was no more purple fur, only flesh, and even bone in some places, but a sharp yell from Louis got Gible to stop before an accident could occur.

    "Keep your shitter under control, you incompetent fuck," Victor hissed.

    "I apologize," Louis said, recalling his Prinplup. This time, Pawniard came out of the ball. "Prinplup just went down. Retaliate."

    If reaction had a move, Retaliate would be it. Pawniard whetted its blades and blurred, slashing across Skuntanks' exposed flesh.

    "But it had to be done," Louis finished.

    The poison type fell unconscious, unable to deal with the pain. Victor only had his Misdreavus left.

    "Strengthen your Sandstorm, Gible. We will drag this ghost out of its hiding place if need be. Pawniard, when it comes out, Assurance."

    I smiled. It looked like Louis had regained some of his ego after all. The Sandstorm filled the entire arena, obscuring the fight from view once more. I couldn't see what went on, but Misdreavus eventually fell. Apparently, Pawniard could somewhat see through the Sandstorm.

    "Victory to Louis Bianchi."



    A/N: Thank you #wobblegonnabe#4235 for the team!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2023
  29. Threadmarks: Chapter 148
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 148

    Louis had improved a whole lot since the last time I'd seen him. He had no secret evolutions, no extravagant tricks to win. He had just used pure unmitigated skill, and he kind of reminded me of a slower version of Denzel with a dash of Justin. Someone who was cautious and liked to be patient, but who was quick to shut someone down as soon as the opportunity arose. I might not have been a fan since the strategy required to react and take damage before finding an opening, but I couldn't deny that it had worked well despite a lot of mistakes that he had made during the battle. Sacrificing Vulpix was an odd choice, but he probably couldn't figure out a way to use her and decided to move on to a new tactic. Still, once his Pokemon evolved, he'd be a force to be reckoned with. Vulpix just needed a stone, but I had no idea when he'd buy her one. I didn't know enough about her to know if she was ready or not.

    I was a lot more familiar with Justin's Growlithe, and I felt like he was close to ready, at least. Arcanine didn't share Ninetales' long lifespans or the potential danger with curses if you offended one, but they could be just as dangerous, especially with how quick they were. You could blink, and it would be gone, having run off without a trace. Needless to say, fighting one would be a puzzle in and of itself.

    "Good job out there," Denzel grinned at Louis. He'd completely avoided any questions from the press.

    "You kicked ass, my man!" Mira said.

    "I wouldn't have done it without you," the blond man smiled. "You've been a good teacher to me and my team."

    Cecilia smiled. "Louis, your Gible—"

    "There is still a lot to work on, but Sylveon put the fear of Arceus into him. He realized that he isn't anywhere close to the strongest he could be, but with my help, he could get there."

    "I'm happy you managed to get him to be reasonable, at least," I sighed. "And what was that reaction when Prinplup went down?"

    "Let's just say he's been growing a bit attached," he said. "Not to Vulpix though. She dislikes his antics, and he doesn't exactly care about her. It's something I'm trying to fix."

    "Well, at least you won," Maeve smiled. "Should we go see Justin? He should be fighting his battle, right?"

    "We won't make it if we walk, we should just watch the livestream. They've got cameras set up twenty-four seven… hold on."

    Denzel grabbed his phone and went on the tournament website. His eyes widened in surprise.

    "Looks like Justin already won."

    "Woah," I said.

    "I thought he'd be slower. I wonder how he did it," he mused.

    Denzel sent him a text message to see if we could all meet, but Pauline decided to go and train now that she'd seen her rival battle. His performance had apparently motivated the hell out of her. I wasn't sure how her battle this evening would go with that Vigoroth of hers, but I had no idea who her opponent was other that he had three badges, so it wasn't like I'd be able to figure it out unless I looked it up, and unless it was for my match or she asked me for advice, I didn't exactly see a reason. Plus, she'd probably go to Cecilia if she needed any help anyway.

    "I'm off to train too," Maeve said before shuddering. "I've got to figure out how to battle on the Water Field."

    "You got the water field? Damn," Denzel said.

    "Unlucky, right? I'm gonna grab a bunch of comfort food and get my Starmie up to speed…"

    We split up after that. Louis went to heal his team and decided to stay back to rest due to Combee keeping him awake all night. Apparently, the bug type hated to be kept in its Pokeball. There were a few Pokemon like that in the world, but its incessant buzzing had made it impossible for him to sleep, which made his victory a lot more impressive. Justin joined us after bringing his team back to the Center. Cecilia's battle was in an hour, but she didn't seem like she wanted to do some last-minute training. Apparently, Justin's opponent had completely floundered his start order, and Audino and Lombre made quick work of the opposing Dolliv and Sealeo. The poor trainer had probably expected Justin to start with his Krokorok and Growlithe, but he'd gotten it completely wrong.

    One mistake led to another, and he unraveled quickly enough to give Justin his victory. He seemed a lot more confident than he'd been before now that he had gotten at least one win, and we were all proud of his progress. As we walked toward Cecilia's battle, which would take place on the Desert Field, I asked Justin the question.

    "When are you evolving Growlithe?"

    It was quick and straight to the point. So much so that he almost flinched.

    "Grace, some tact please," Cece sighed.

    "My bad, I'm just curious. Indulge me?"

    "Very well," Justin exhaled. "I was thinking of doing so before my battle with Maylene. I want to wait for us to get to Veilstone to get the best Fire Stone possible so I don't stunt his growth."

    "Wait, low-quality stones can stunt a Pokemon's growth?" I asked worryingly. "What about Maeve's Starmie? She bought a cheap Water Stone."

    The others all looked on, waiting for him to answer the question. It looked like I wasn't the only clueless one for once, although Mira just looked uninterested. I was suspecting that she was a lot smarter than she acted, Kadabra or not.

    "In a manner of speaking," he nodded. "A Pokemon that evolves with a low-quality stone will reach its full potential a lot slower than one that does so with a high-quality stone. With the money I have, I could have Growlithe at his top form just a few days after evolving instead of months."

    "Okay, so it was what I thought," Denzel said. "Fire Stones are a bitch to get here too. I originally told you I looked at Vulpix for my team, right?"

    "Yeah, a while ago," I nodded. "You also said you stopped when you saw how dangerous they could be."

    "That was part of it. High-quality Fire Stones are almost as expensive as Shiny Stones in Sinnoh because they're all imported from Hoenn, straight from Mount Chimney."

    "Hoenn's far away, so that makes sense," I shrugged. Sinnoh was far up north, and Hoenn was down at the equator. Kanto and Johto were in between us, and we shared a single island. Galar, Unova, Kalos, Paldea and Orre were all overseas— although Unova and Orre were neighbors, and so were Kalos and Paldea.

    There was also Fione, Almia and Oblivia, but I didn't know much about those. They were all hermit countries that never opened their borders to the outside or even sent a diplomatic delegation. There were no embassies, no contact, just radio silence. Ransei, meanwhile, was a hellish place where the Great War had never stopped, and it had devolved into permanent civil wars instead. I vaguely remembered learning that different regions backed different factions there in proxy wars, and with the geopolitical context I had gotten from Josephine, I knew now that it was just a way for them to fight without starting a real war.

    "Good luck Cece," Denzel said. Her battle was about to start.

    "Thank you."

    We sat in the bleachers, and I observed the Desert Field in all of its glory. It had been artificially created by multiple Hippowdon owned by the Hunters, and it showed. It was indistinguishable from a real desert. There were tall dunes that obscured the view somewhat, along with two oases on each side of the field for any water types that couldn't battle on land. I knew next to nothing about the girl that Cecilia was battling, but Denzel filled me in. Valery Graham owned four badges and was a rock-ground type specialist, which meant that she was at home in this terrain. She sort of sported this goth, punk look and had piercings all over her ears, along with one on her nose and eyebrow.

    "This is a battle between Cecilia Obel and Valery Graham. Trainers, send out your Pokemon."

    I was surprised to see that Cece sent out both her Fletchinder and her Golett. I had expected her to use the latter, but in combination with Slowking or Zweilous to support her weaker teammates. The golem slowly hummed as its rune and eyes lit up, while Fletchinder immediately took flight with a squawk. For her part, Valery sent out a Hippowdon and a huge Onix that was only slightly smaller than Roark's. Cecilia certainly was going to have a tough time here, but I was also silently thanking the legendaries. Seeing a Hippowdon in action before my own battle was going to be a huge advantage. Sand constantly leaked from the holes on its body, which explained how it could survive in Sinnoh's terrain and how it had built this arena in the first place.

    Now, how would Cecilia counter this? She didn't seem that alarmed, more like annoyed at that Onix. Hippowdon sank slightly into the sandy dunes and whipped up a thin Sandstorm, allowing us to see what was going on still.

    "Fletchinder, Agility and Tailwind. Golett, Iron Defense."

    "Don't let them set up!" Valery said. "Hippowdon, Dig and get that Golett! Onix, Rock Polish and Iron Head it!"

    Right as Fletchinder beat her wings, creating a permanent, strong gust toward the enemy, Onix shimmered and rushed toward Golett, its huge body displacing massive amounts of sand. Hippowdon lazily sank into the desert and disappeared from view. There was no way Fletchinder was powerful enough to stand up to Onix, but I had no idea what Golett was capable of.

    "Stomping Tantrum! Force it back up. Fletchinder, Heat Wave!"

    The ghost type mechanically lifted a foot and stomped down into the soft sands. The ground split apart, revealing Hippowdon, who floundered and stared up in complete surprise. Onix wasn't so shaken by the attack and ignored the superheated winds created by Fletchinder. It rammed directly into Golett, but the ground type wasn't even sent away. The Onix's eyes narrowed, and Cecilia grinned.

    "Hammer Arm."

    "Get out of there!"

    Golett slowly lifted an arm. Onix was quick thanks to Rock Polish, but he was also big. The hulking Pokemon clumsily turned around, but Golett smashed its fist onto one of its segments, and Onix let out a booming scream as it writhed against the floor, accidentally hitting Hippowdon in the process with its tail. I found myself surprised at how powerful Golett was, but I must have forgotten how old it was. Who knew what it had had to defend the Lost Tower from during its lifetime?

    "Calm down! Hippowdon, just get in there and Crunch that Golett at all costs!"

    The ground type shook itself out of its staggered state and kept swimming upward into the parted sand, but the closer it got, the hotter the air was. Fletchinder was still using Heat Wave and whittling it down, and the attack was being powered by Tailwind. The superheated air was so hot that it was constantly warped and distorted. The water in the oases began to evaporate, creating thick clouds that rose high up in the arena. Flames spun and landed onto the sand, where they turned bright white. It was like a scene out of hell.

    Cecilia giggled at her work. Arceus, I loved her.

    "Onix, Slam that fucking bird!" Valery yelled.

    "Stomping Tantrum once more."

    Again, Golett slammed his feet against the floor, and again, he disrupted both of his opponents. Hippowdon had almost made it now, but the sand had somehow turned to molten glass— including the sand permanently leaking out of its body— and its skin was being seared. The hippo cried out in pain as its skin swelled and melted off. It was quite literally being cooked alive. How was that even possible? Sand was supposed to be a lot hotter before it actually changed to glass… or maybe it was just that hot already? Hippowdon struggled to get to Golett and burns coalesced onto its thick skin, but Onix finally managed to use its humongous size to hit Fletchinder. The bird crashed into Kadabra's barrier, and the air finally began to cool. With renewed vigor, Hippowdon finally opened its mouth, revealing flattened teeth, and bit down on Golett with a vicious Crunch. The robot-like Pokemon didn't seem like he could feel pain, but the light in its eyes flickered.

    "Shadow Ball," Cecilia said.

    A half-birthed Shadow Ball exploded inside of Hippowdon's mouth, and the ground type furiously slammed its head against Golett with a move that could only be Iron Head. Golett didn't even move. With Iron Defense, his body was too tough and heavy to be hit away.

    "Hippowdon, stand back. You can't deal with the Golett alone. Finish the Fletchinder off, Onix," Valery grinned. The rock type grunted and got ready to slam its full weight onto the fire type.

    Right then and there, Cecilia tensed. Not in fear, but anticipation.

    And then, a blinding light overtook Fletchinder. Onix flinched, stopping his attack and watched with a curious eye as his opponent evolved. Fletchinder's talons grew to a terrifying scope, and she at least tripled in size—

    "Slam into it, Onix! Your damn pride can wait!"

    The rock type irritatingly grunted but dropped onto the still-evolving Fletchinder. What was left was a fainted Talonflame with a body that had seen better days. Cecilia fumed as she recalled her Pokemon. There was a bit of an honor system between trainers that dictated that a Pokemon evolution wouldn't be interrupted, but Valery seemingly didn't even care.

    "Onix, keep Iron Heading that Golett. You're tough enough to take it down—"

    Cecilia whispered something to her Talonflame's Pokeball and released her Slowking right away. The psychic type winced as he landed on the half-formed glass that clung to the scorching sands. The ground was still so hot that just standing was hurting him. The glass somewhat cooled by now, but it was still scorching hot, and nowhere as clear as normal glass was. It was this lumpy, dirty surface with a menacing red glow that cut the psychic type's feet.

    "Fuck! This is the one we prepared for! Onix, Payback! Hippowdon, rush it and Crunch!"

    "Golett, Hammer Arm the Onix. Slowking, Surf."

    Surf? When did she even have the time to learn that? Golett slowly trudged toward Onix and cracked its tough armor with another Hammer Arm. The rock type bellowed out in pain and crashed against Kadabra's barrier, raking against the psychic wall. Just as Hippowdon was about to bite into Slowking with Crunch, the remaining water from both oases crashed into him and sent him away. A psychic bubble around Golett and Slowking protected them from any harm, and the water kept building and building until the entire battlefield was submerged. Dirty water reached up to Slowking's neck and Golett's entire body was underwater. The psychic barriers bulged under the pressure of the massive waves, and the water proved too much for the two ground types.

    Both Onix and Hippowdon went down.

    With a frustrated groan, Valery recalled them and sent out a Sudowoodo and Carkol instead, but both rock types were immediately washed away by the waves. Steam rose from Carkol's heated coal, and Sudowoodo cried out for help.

    "Sudowoodo, Endure! Carkol, create a platform with Ancient Power!"

    With surprising control, two circular pillars rose from the earth. Compacted sand solidified into a solid surface. They were both hanging by a thread, but they were still standing. To have resisted such a powerful Surf and used a move that required such focus under the water's strain?

    I could commend Valery for her skills as a trainer. Carkol's control was excellent.

    "Carkol, Ancient Power at Slowking! Sudowoodo, Rock Tomb!"

    "Water Pulse. Finish them off."

    Masses of rocks, sand and molten glass flew toward Slowking, who simply waved the projectiles away with Psychic. Two Water Pulses sped up by the same move made quick work of the two rock types, who fell into the water and fainted. When Surf receded, the waters revealed Golett, who had actually fainted. The light in his eyes and rune was gone. It looked like Slowking had improved leaps and bounds, but he still wasn't good enough to retain a barrier on two Pokemon while using a move as demanding as Surf.

    "Victory to Cecilia Obel. Trainers, please step off the platform."

    Well, that certainly had been eye-opening. I now knew a lot more about Cecilia's new capabilities, and I would have to watch out for her Talonflame, who would no doubt be a huge threat now that she had evolved. Not only that, but I had learned a decent bit about Hippowdon, even though I wished it had done more. For Heatwave, I had noticed that Talonflame needed to be stationary to use it to any effect that powerful, otherwise she would have easily dodged Onix's attack. A few drills from Princess ought to be enough to stop her. Golett was nothing to scoff at either, but so long as I kept my distance and attacked it from afar with special attacks, I didn't think it was much of a problem. Its physical defense was incredible, but it was too slow and nonresponsive to actually dodge any attacks. Of course, I had to account for Slowking's barriers, but if I kept him busy like I'd done with Tangrowth during our battle…

    Those were thoughts for another time. Cecilia was already here.

    "Well done, Cece," Justin said.

    "That was awesome," I told her. "Golett's a lot stronger than I thought."

    "Seriously, I thought he'd be your weakest member for a bit, but he packs a punch," Denzel said. "I kind of feel bad for Talonflame, though."

    "Kids these days have no honor," Mira said in an exaggerated coarse voice, clearly mocking us. "I personally don't see what the fuss is. She tried her best to win."

    "It's just wrong," Cecilia said. "Either way, Slowking's Surf was enough to take my revenge."

    "By the way, what was with that glass trick?" I asked. "There's no way that Fletchinder's strong enough to turn sand into glass, right? That's like… a bajillion degrees."

    "1,700 degrees," Mira specified.

    "That," I said.

    "Well, if I must," Cecilia said. "Talonflame's Heat Wave was powered up by Tailwind, but also by Fire Spin."

    "Oh, is that why there were flames?" I asked. "I thought that it was one of Heat Wave's side effects."

    Cecilia nodded. "See, when I saw that I was going to battle on the Desert Field, I came up with this plan. Fletchin— Talonflames' flames don't usually reach the temperature to make sand melt, but combined with those three attacks? I figured we'd at least get close with enough buildup. It's not a technique I would use against weaker opponents, and I trusted that rock types would be good enough to resist the attack and that Hippowdon's thick layers of fat would shield it enough."

    "It's not like the entire place was burning that hot either," Mira shrugged. "If I had the guess, the temperature of the air was a few hundred degrees. The ground, though? Sheesh."

    "Yeah… that could probably kill something," Denzel sighed.

    "Which is why I won't use it against any opponents. I did mess up somewhat, though. Sand is usually terrible at retaining heat, so I expected Slowking to be able to stand without any pain. His feet are completely burned off."

    "You guys are way too brutal with these battles… this is supposed to be for fun. I know we have a skewed perception of what's normal, but I'd relax if I were you. Anyway, where'd you learn so much about sand?" Denzel asked.

    "From yours truly!" Mira said, pointing at herself with a thumb. "She asked nicely, so I figured I'd help her out."

    "How nice," I said. "I thought you'd be more of the competitive type."

    "Meh, I don't exactly care that much about winning the tournament. I just want to have some fun," Mira shrugged.

    My eyes narrowed at that statement. I was beginning to wonder why Mira had become a trainer in the first place. We all had different reasons for wanting to make it to the Conference. What was hers? I tried racking my brain for the answer as we started to walk off toward the Center, but I couldn't find any clues from our previous interactions aside from a hidden side of her that she never showed.

    Maybe I'd just ask her.

    Cecilia had proved once again that she dealt in power. Surf and Heatwave alone were enough to overwhelm most opponents. I was actually starting to wonder if Talonflame wasn't going to be more useful than Zweilous for the tournament. In a singles format, the dragon would probably still be king, but in doubles? Wide-ranging attacks like Heat Wave and Surf ruled. I'd have to start creating a counter now. Princess wasn't powerful enough to shield two moving Pokemon at once. Despite her incredible skill with Psychic and Extrasensory, she was no psychic type. Talonflame had also shown that she was capable of using the attack for an extremely long time, so if Princess was ever too distracted to send some drills at her and we let the heat build up for too long, we would be in big trouble.

    Buddy would be the key. He'd be able to resist the Heat Wave while Princess focused on shielding herself. After a twenty-minute walk, we stepped into the Center and Cecilia gave her Slowking, Talonflame, and Golett to Nurse Joy.

    "It's a bummer that everyone's training," Mira said. "I want us all to hang out again. I wish the day of our battles all lined up."

    "You trained too," I laughed. "Anyway, most of their battles are this evening… what do you say we go watch Lauren fight?"

    "I thought that was a given," Cecilia said. "We can go after a short break? I need to get my team healed and eat something."

    "I'll come with!" I said.

    "I wish I could, but I've got to train with Milotic," Denzel shrugged. "I'll join you guys to watch Lauren though."

    "Pauline wanted me to find her when I was free, so I'm out too," Justin said.

    "You guys are all flaking. Mira, you should come," I smiled.

    "What?! I don't want to be a third wheel," Mira groaned.

    "Come on, it won't be that bad," I said.

    "And see you flirt and be all over each other the entire time? No thanks. I don't want to be reminded of how single I am."

    "There's more to life than relationships," Denzel said. "You could just hang out with them as friends. They cling to each other, but they won't let you feel lonely, I promise."

    "Way to speak about us like we aren't there," Cecilia rolled her eyes.

    "Hm… fine, I'll hang."



    The three of us sat at a table in the same restaurant we went to before. I had to admit, eating out this much did make me feel guilty about how much I was spending, but damn their food was good. Mira constantly swung her legs around in her seat like a kid, and we all watched the tournament on a silent TV. Right now, the two trainers were down to their last two Pokemon. On one side, a Sneasel and a Makuhita were bruised, but not finished. On the other, a Scyther and a Simisear were sneering mockingly at their opponents. Sneasel got on all fours, and an arc of ice hit Scyther in the leg.

    "Ouch, that's a nasty Ice Beam," Mira said. "Gotta hand it to that Sneasel, it's pretty vicious."

    "But its trainer will lose the battle anyway," I sighed. "Her Pokemon are a lot more wounded than the others, and Makuhita's too slow to dodge most attacks. When it falls, they'll gang up on Sneasel and finish it off."

    "Cold, but true," Mira nodded. "Man, I really want to fight on this Desert Field. It seems like a lot of fun."

    "Say, Mira…" I said. "If you don't mind me asking, where do you come from?"

    Maybe I'd be able to lead with this question first and segway into her reasons for joining the Circuit. I refused to believe that it was simply to get stronger.

    "Jubilife!" She excitedly answered. "Born and raised. It's the best city in Sinnoh."

    "Well, I'd say that's Sunyshore—"

    "Excuse me?" I said, looking at Cece with an amused smile. "You're going up against two Jubilifers here."

    "No way, you're from Jubilife too?!" Mira exclaimed. "I knew we were meant to be friends."

    "I wanted to learn more about you," I explained. "I know a lot about everyone else… even Maeve. Why'd you join the Circuit?"

    To be honest, that had been a pretty bad pivot, but I figured it was better to just be honest instead of dancing around the topic. I noticed that her eyes had narrowed at my first question anyway, so she probably knew something was up.

    "Cause I want to be the very best! Isn't that what it's all about?" Mira exclaimed.

    I restrained a frown. Another lie.

    But I wouldn't push it. If she didn't want to tell me, well, who was I to know? Maybe she would once we grew closer.

    "Fair enough," I said. "Mine is similar anyway."

    "Any goal is valid, so long as it helps to motivate you," Cecilia nodded.

    "You girls are cool," Mira said. "Sorry for being reluctant to come. I'm not used to people wanting to hang out with me. Until I started traveling with Louis and Maeve, I usually had to beg for people to talk to me, so… yeah. I got a little suspicious and started throwing any excuse I thought would stick. I didn't really care about being a third wheel."

    "I think you're a good person," Cece said. "Ignorant people will judge you for past events, but they don't know the real you."

    "Thanks," she exhaled. Like a weight was lifted off of her shoulders. "Wait, are we like best friends now?"

    "Sure?" Cecilia said. "You can call me Cece if you want."

    "That wasn't that convincing, but I'll let it go, Cece," Mira giggled. "Oh man, this is great."

    "I thought Maeve was your best friend," I raised an eyebrow.

    "She is, and so are you guys. I can have multiple best friends, can't I? Oh, and by the way Cece, now that I have you here, can you help me? I need you to set me up with Chase— don't look at me like that, your girlfriend's already agreed! And so did Denzel!"

    "Oh, legendaries."


    A/N: Thank you Zhijia#9897 for the team!
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2023
  30. Threadmarks: Chapter 149
    Soussouni1

    Soussouni1 Not too sore, are you?

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    CHAPTER 149

    I sat down, awaiting the start of Lauren's battle. Aside from a few, we had all regrouped for this specific occasion. Pauline probably had her hands full with getting Vigoroth to cooperate with her. Louis was busy sleeping or taking care of his Combee—one of the two— and Maeve was still training. The rest of us had come to spectate. Of course, most of my friends still had no idea I knew Lauren now since Denzel, Cece, and I had kept the meeting under wraps but she was still among the best first-years in the Circuit, so they still wanted to see her battle. This one was taking place on the Snow Field, which was a flatter and less obstructive version of Candice's gym. There were no trees and minimal elevation changes, just a mostly smooth surface.

    "Here she comes," Justin said. I tensed.

    Lauren strode up to the platform without a care in the world, and she had headphones on this time instead of the usual wireless earphones. For a moment, I almost thought that she'd somehow battle with them, but she took them off and put them around her neck. Sirris the Duosion was already out of his Pokeball with her. Her opponent was someone I knew nothing about, but he was taller than Denzel and a lot bulkier. He wore aviator sunglasses and had some sort of 'cool' vibe going on. An ugly scar ran on the side of his face, going through his cheek and right above the eye.

    "How many badges?" I whispered.

    "Four," Denzel answered.

    "He doesn't look nervous at all," I said in surprise. Sure, he also had four badges, but he was battling Lauren.

    "This is a battle between Sam Pyke and Lauren Goodwill. Trainers, send out your Pokemon."

    "I'll probably lose this battle, but let's make it a fun one, yeah?" Sam grinned. He grabbed his Pokeball and lazily released a Skarmory and Mawile.

    The metallic bird stretched out its wings and took flight a lot faster than I expected, and Mawile slammed her second mouth against the snowy ground.

    "Sure," Lauren whispered.

    She sent out her Rhydon and Magmar onto the field. The two Pokemon that were said not to work well in a doubles format due to their personalities during Goalducc's analysis. Sirris shivered in his goo as he warily observed his teammates get ready for the coming battle. Rhydon were massive, but Lauren's was especially so, coming in at around eight and a half feet and dwarfing Magmar. The rock type slammed its fists together and let out a furious roar that caused the snow under his feet to shake. Magmar was Electabuzz's size, but that was where the similarities ended. Honey loved to battle, but a vicious grin permanently afflicted the fire type's face and his eyes narrowed with glee. His body was permanently on fire, and the snow under his feet melted away.

    "Begin!"

    Sam laughed. "This is going to be a toughie! Skarmory, Autotomize and Iron Defense! Mawile, stand back for now!"

    I nodded as Skarmory's metallic plates shone brightly, and Mawile huffed, clearly angry. There was no telling what that Magmar would do to the fairy type if it got close, and Mawile were closed-range fighters.

    Lauren took a deep breath.

    "Fuck them up, Mags! Get in there and Lava Plume!" She screamed with such glee that I almost forgot she was the same person. "Paragon, I don't care what you do, just get in there and rip that Mawile apart!"

    Magmar's twisted smile widened, and his body flared. He began to run toward Mawile and Skarmory, and while he wasn't particularly fast, approaching him would mean the end of both steel types. Rhydon, meanwhile, was protected from the heat by his thick, rocky armor, and he also slowly trudged forward, each of his steps shaking the earth.

    "Skarmory, keep to the air and Stealth Rocks!"

    The bird fanned its wings, and small, sharpened rocks fell toward the ground and levitated off the floor.

    "Now Rock Slide! Keep 'em away from Mawile!"

    Skarmory let out a metallic, jittery screech, and rocks erupted from the snowy ground. With a gleeful smile that mirrored his trainer's, Magmar sunk under the rocks and then erupted with Lava Plume, sending the rocks and a terrifying amount of flames all around him. Skarmory dodged with his improved speed, but Mawile and Rhydon were not spared. The former screamed as a rock— completely red from the superheated attack— hit her in the head, and Rhydon simply brushed the flames and the lava off.

    "Icy Wind the Rhydon!"

    Skarmory beat its wings, and a frigid wind powered up by the terrain flew toward Rhydon, slowing the rock type massively.

    "Melt it off, Mags! Flamethrower!"

    The fire type blew a full-powered Flamethrower all over Rhydon, who simply grunted and kept marching. Then, something in his eyes changed.

    He was close enough, now.

    "Burn the shit out of Mawile, Mags! Flamethrower!" Lauren snarled.

    The flames on his back flared and flew far behind him as Magmar spat out another stream of fire toward Mawile.

    "Dodge with Sucker Punch! Skarmory, Sandstorm!"

    A thin Sandstorm spread throughout the arena. It would slightly hurt Magmar, but everyone else would be immune. Mawile blurred behind Rhydon, and batted at the rock type with its massive jaw.

    "Foul Play!"

    This time, there was darkness. Mawile quickly sidestepped to avoid getting swiped by Rhydon's tail and swung its mouth at him again. Rhydon's armor split open with a deafening crack, and the hulking Pokemon roared out in fury.

    "Mags, blow up."

    Another Lava Plume erupted from Magmar's body, and flames and globs of lava poured out of every single pore in his body. Mawile screeched and was overtaken by the flames, and Rhydon finally grabbed her with his two massive hands.

    "Finish it off, I don't care how you do it," she said.

    "Skarmory, Icy Wind!"

    "Tell him to fuck off," Lauren snapped.

    Mags seemingly understood that command and simply stood in front of Rhydon, dissolving the Icy Wind into nothing with his body heat. The rock type threw Mawile in the air, and his horn doubled in size as it shimmered in white.

    Drill Run.

    Gasps and audible winces ran through the crowd as Rhydon's horn eviscerated Mawile. The steel type was immediately knocked out by the blow, and Rhydon threw her away like a rag while Magmar sniggered and the flames on his back intensified.

    They were made for each other, it seemed.

    Sam recalled Mawile, although his permanent smile did not even waver for one second. He sent out a Magneton, whose three eyes looked terribly angry.

    "More. Burn them more," Lauren said.

    Magmar flexed, and a massive Flamethrower flew toward the newly released Magneton.

    "Shield him with Rock Slide!" Sam yelled out to Skarmory.

    This time, the rocks formed a clumsy wall, stopping most of the flames and absorbing the heat. Rhydon screamed, and jagged rocks flew up from under Skarmory. The flying type was almost taken by surprise, but he expertly navigated the air to dodge each rock from what I assumed to be Stone Edge. Skarmory was clearly Sam's best-trained Pokemon, but the problem was that he couldn't approach without getting crushed by Magmar's heat, and the only two ways he could attack were Rock Slide and Icy Wind.

    "Now send it toward them!"

    The Rock Slide exploded outward, ramming into both Magmar and Rhydon. The fire type quickly stepped behind his teammate, who shielded him from the worse of the damage. Rhydon, however, seemingly disliked that and hit him away toward the rocks.

    "Paragon's telling you that you can take it, Mags," Lauren smiled.

    Magmar grinned, and another stone hit him directly in the head. Superheated blood poured out from the wound, bubbling and evaporating before it could even fall to the ground. They were all insane.

    "Magneton, get in there! Find an opening with Tri Attack! Skarmory, keep up the Rock Slides!"

    All three heads blinked in unison and furiously fired countless rays of ice, fire and lighting toward Rhydon and Magmar. The rock type simply shrugged off the attacks, although he winced every time the ice hit him. The floor under both Pokemon sunk as Skarmory shifted the earth into makeshift rocks to stop them from moving, along with occasionally hitting them back.

    "Lava Plume!" Lauren yelled.

    With an explosion that somehow had grown in strength, fire erupted from Magmar once more, spewing into the floor and consuming everything around him. At this point, half of the snow on the floor had simply disappeared, and vapor had joined the Sandstorm into shrouding the arena. Some of the globs of fire landed on Magneton, but Sam didn't care. The electric type flew toward his opponents with a single goal in mind.

    "Explosion!"

    Light consumed Magneton, but this was no evolution. Air was quickly sucked in toward his body, and a massive explosion rocked the arena. Only Skarmory had made it out unscathed, and Kadabra's barriers rattled and shook as the explosion run its course. When the smoke cleared, Magneton was but a smoking husk on the floor. Rhydon had a few chips on his armor, but other than that, he seemed completely fine.

    Magmar was on the floor, his flames having burned out.

    "Get up, Mags," Lauren ordered.

    His arms twitched.

    "Get up. Fight. Burn."

    The fire type stood with trembling limbs, and his body reignited once more. Rhydon sneered at him for a second and then went back to trying to hit Skarmory with Stone Edge, without any success. Goalducc had been right. His reluctance to listen to Lauren was costing him a lot of potential.

    "Dang it, I at least wanted to take down one," Sam grinned as he recalled Magneton. "Wanna trade that Magmar? I'll give you any of mine other than Skarmory. If you didn't have six Pokemon, I'd give you two to make it fair."

    I physically recoiled and felt nausea overtake me. What kind of person just said that? The worst part was that only Skarmory had heard it, and the flying type didn't seem to care whatsoever. When you were a trainer, Pokemon weren't things to be traded off, especially because you found them weaker than you liked them to be. They were family. This was a second year who'd spent more than a year with some of these Pokemon.

    He disgusted me.

    "Absolutely not."

    "Fair enough," he said as he released a Metang. The steel type took to the air just as high as Skarmory was. "Light Screen and Reflect."

    Two layers of transparent barriers appeared around the Metang.

    "Paragon. Feel like working with me today?" Lauren asked.

    Rhydon's head turned toward her, and he shook his head dismissively.

    "Fine. Then Mags, you've got to put in some work."

    "The Magmar's weak. Take him down! Skarmory, Drill Peck! Metang, Psychic to restrain that Rhydon!"

    Skarmory dove down, spinning so fast that his form became a blur. Rhydon stomped a foot on the floor, and the ground split open in a line in front of him as sharp rocks flew up from the floor. Some of them hit him, and a Flamethrower from Magmar burned him so hard that the metal on his wings started to melt and fuse together.

    How was Magmar still going?

    Rhydon tried to bat the Skarmory away with his hand, but Metang's Psychic restrained him for a precious few seconds. Skarmory rammed into Magmar, and the fire type finally fell.

    "You were a good boy," Lauren said. She recalled him and sent out her Duosion. She had to recall him and release him again so he could slip past Kadabra's barrier. The Stealth Rocks rushed toward him, but they harmlessly bounced off of his psychic shield.

    "Keep the momentum going and get him too!" Sam yelled. "Break past his shield!"

    Skarmory continued on its warpath and flew toward Duosion, and Metang kept slowing Rhydon as much as it could with Psychic. The steel type crashed into the barrier, which became visible as it struggled to break through. It was a lot more refined that Metang's own protective moves, and it was invisible to the naked eye.

    "Expanding Force," Lauren said.

    My ears popped as Duosion sucked in as much air and energy as he could. Then, he released it. It was an explosion of pink psychic energy that utterly destroyed everything in its path. The move was a perfect circle, and it chewed into the floor, creating a crater that was nearly the width of the arena. Rhydon and Metang had been too far to be hurt, but Skarmory was a goner. It crashed onto the floor that was now devoid of any snow. Parts of its metallic wings had melted and fused, and many gashes ran through its armor.

    It had put in a lot of work. If only its trainer hadn't been such an ass.

    Metang followed shortly, and while Rhydon flailed around, Duosion and the steel type engaged in a duel of minds. I couldn't exactly understand what was going on, but they were clearly trying to overpower each other with Psychic, and occasionally, they would try other moves to trip each other up. Metang would feign going in with Bullet Punch, and Duosion would flinch, leaving him open to further mental assaults. The duel was surprisingly equal. I had expected Sirris to win easily, but the fact that Metang had two brains just like him was probably tripping him up. Still, Duosion eventually won out. Metang had grown too tired to keep his shields up, and Rhydon finished him off with a Stone Edge.

    "Victory to Lauren Goodwill. Trainers, please step out of the arena."

    "Man, that was fun," Sam smiled as he recalled Metang. "I ought to get a rematch one of these days. Your Magmar completely countered my team. Kind of opened my eyes to how fucked I am by a single powerful fire type. Usually Metang was enough to take care of 'em on his own, but not this time."

    Lauren retrieved her Pokemon as well, and her outward demeanor seemingly evaporated as she shrunk down to her usual quiet self.

    "Yeah… you should at least try to find a counter, I think," she muttered into the microphone. "Something like a Steelix or an Aggron would be good at resisting the heat. Anyway, thanks."

    Lauren left the battlefield a burning, crumbling mess. It was even worse than what Cecilia had done to hers. At least the Desert Field had been left in a somewhat recognizable state, but this? If you told someone that this had been the Snow Field just ten minutes earlier, they never would have believed you. It was nothing but upended earth from Rhydon, that massive crater from Duosion, and the snow had completely melted due to Magmar's flames.

    If Pauline was violence and Cecilia was power, Lauren was uncontrollable destruction. She left nothing behind when she fought, and I had no doubt it was intentional on her part. Her behavior during the battle had been… interesting. It was almost like a split personality, but I didn't think that was it. Battling might have been the only place where she could ever let loose and talk however she wanted to, along with when she talked with her brother. And maybe her team too? With strangers and acquaintances, she was a meek girl, but otherwise? She could be as snappy as Pauline was.

    That Rhydon was the least of my problems. Princess could probably run laps around him like there was no tomorrow. Magmar and Duosion though? They were threats, and at this point, I believed the rest of her team was too.

    Against her, Denzel or Cece? No holds were barred. I would find the most efficient way to shut all of their teams down no matter what I had to do. My best friend might not have been as flashy as us, but I knew he was hiding something. I could see it in his eyes. That show with Lopunny and the four different attacks? The Blizzard tactic with Froslass? It was good, but it was bait. A shiny new thing that people could latch onto while he worked on his real tactic.

    No, he had something else prepared, and hopefully I would be able to find out if we had to battle.



    It was Maeve's turn to fight now. I was actually intrigued since I hadn't really seen her fight since the Floaroma tournament. Would she be a cautious fighter like Louis and Justin? Or a risk-taker like Mira and Pauline? Or someone in the middle like me, Denzel or Cecilia? I was excited to find out. Even if we all roughly had similar ways of fighting, we were so different. Battling showed endless possibilities for every single style, and watching so many battles in this tournament made me realize the incredible growth that everyone had gone through.

    The Water Field was the most annoying one to fight on by a wide margin, but it would actually be good experience for anyone still looking to fight Crasher Wake. A few rocky platforms rising from the depths of the water were the only safe havens for non-water types. Some might have said that this was an unfair advantage, but water types that couldn't be on land were so difficult to train and battle with that they deserved a win once in a while.

    "This is a battle between Reuben Stinnett and Maeve Chang. Trainers, send out your Pokemon."

    Reuben looked just as nervous as Maeve was, and he adjusted his glasses with a trembling hand. Maeve sent out her Pokemon first— her Starmie and Staravia. The star-like Pokemon spun in place, and the gem in its center gleamed. Staravia screeched and stretched her wings before taking to the air. She wasn't the biggest, but her maneuverability in the air was second to none— even better than Fletchinder's, although that might have changed now that she had evolved.

    Reuben sent out a Swellow and a Quagsire. The ground type stared in utter confusion with its beady little eyes, but a cry from Swellow snapped him back to reality.

    "Begin—"

    Maeve exploded into a flurry of commands as soon as he finished. "Power Gem, Double Team, Aerial Ace!"

    Starmie and Staravia split into at least twenty clones. The flying type and her afterimages all rushed toward Swellow, and more beams of light than I could count flew toward the same target. The fact that Maeve had trained her team to the extent that even their fake selves were able to attack was incredible.

    "Quick Attack and Double Team!" Reuben yelled out to his Swellow. "Quagsire, Yawn!"

    Swellow split into afterimages of its own, but it was too slow. The real Power Gem hit it, and Staravia rammed into her opponent with a ferocity that was uncharacteristic of their species. Quagsire opened its mouth so much that I thought it was about to dislocate his jaw and yawned, and I suddenly felt very drowsy. Swellow and Staravia crashed into the water.

    "What?! Is that allowed? What if he drowns?!" Reuben worryingly said. The supervisor just nodded.

    "Starmie, get in there and Power Gem underwater!" Maeve quickly continued.

    "Quagsire, stop them! Mudshot!"

    With a sharp hiss, Starmie jumped into the depths. The Mudshot followed it closely, but I couldn't see if it hit. Reuben ordered Quagsire to jump into the water to help Swellow, but it just looked around confusedly. It might as well have been a Slowpoke. Ten seconds passed. Then twenty. The water occasionally lit up with attacks that could only be Power Gem. It was a game of who would blink first. Pokeballs were generally good at tracking the Pokemon they belonged to, so pointing it in the water's general direction would be enough to save their flying types.

    "Starmie!" Maeve yelled.

    Swellow was raised into the air by psychic energy and slammed onto one of the islands, and the bird coughed up water. The water clung to its feathers like glue, and it was too wet to fly. Staravia was next, although she was placed a lot more gently.

    "I'm retracting Staravia out of the fight," Maeve said, causing me to scoff. She immediately recalled her and released a Skorupi instead. "Venoshock."

    The small bug type wasted no time angling its tail toward the Swellow and spraying her with poison that rivaled Roselia's own.

    "Mud Bomb!" Reuben ordered.

    This time, Quagsire spat out a huge ball of scorching mud instead of a continuous stream. Before it could land on Skorupi, Starmie jumped out of the water and held it back with Psychic. The Mud Bomb collapsed in place, sinking into the water.

    "Starmie, jump back in the water before you fall asleep," Maeve said. Her words were like a continuous stream. She spoke faster than any trainer I'd seen.

    The star-like Pokemon sunk into the water once more, and only Skorupi stood. Starmie was safest in the water where it couldn't get hit, and it didn't appear like Quagsire would be that good of a swimmer since he was adamant about not going into the water. Plus, Reuben would probably focus on Skorupi instead, where he held the type advantage. Another quick Venoshock finished Swellow off, and Reuben replaced it with a Bronzong.

    "Light Screen and Reflect!" He yelled. "Mud Bomb again!"

    "Pin Missile and Hone Claws."

    Dozens of sharp spikes erupted from Skorupi's body and toward the Mud Bomb. The ground type attack did not explode, but its path was altered enough so that it only grazed the scorpion. His pincers shone and sharpened.

    "Confusion it into the water!" Reuben ordered to his Bronzong. The steel type's eyes glinted, he began to lift Skorupi into the air.

    "Break free with Night Slash. Keep using Pin Missle to buy time for Starmie to come back," Maeve said.

    Darkness festered from within Skorupi's pincers, and he cut up the psychic sack around his body, falling back onto his island. Quagsire used Mud Shot instead of Mud Bomb this time, and no amount of Pin Missiles were stopping that attack. Still, Skorupi was a fierce little bug. Maeve ordered him to use another Venoshock, this time toward the Quagsire, and it was too slow to dodge. The poison seeped onto his skin and melted off its thick layers of fat.

    "Gyro Ball, Bronzong!"

    The psychic slowly started to rotate and then grew faster and faster as it approached Skorupi.

    "Night Slash!"

    The two Pokemon hit each other and the dark energy seemingly bypassed the Reflect. That would be important information to ingest. I knew that it was capable of passing through barriers created with Psychic, but Reflect and Light Screen were entirely different beasts. Bronzong knocked Skorupi into the water and it screeched as it made a pitiful attempt to swim.

    And then it sunk.

    All Maeve could do now was wait. I was nervous for her, and yet she seemed more sure of herself than she had ever been.

    Starmie jumped out of the water, carrying Skorupi in tow with what could only be Confusion. They jumped onto Quagsire's island, and the bug type slashed across his back with Night Slash while Starmie blasted him with a Psychic.

    "Get back!" Reuben screamed. Bronzong tried to float toward his teammate, but he was slow. Maeve's Pokemon overwhelmed Quagsire with poison and psychic energy until it fainted, but Bronzong quickly took his revenge and smashed the bug against Kadabra's wall with Confusion quicker than he could react.

    Reuben sent out a Skorupi of his own, and Maeve sent out her Monferno.

    She had the advantage.

    "Bronzong, use Extrasensory on Monferno!"

    "Starmie, Psychic, Monferno, Flamethrower."

    Maeve did not even need to state who she was targeting. Skorupi was immediately restrained as Psychic assaulted its brain and turned it to mush. Monferno's tail flame intensified, and it spat out the largest Flamethrower it could muster. Instead of defending Monferno from the coming Confusion, Maeve put everything she had into one single attack.

    And it worked. Skorupi was burned to a crisp and fainted right away, but Monferno was knocked back into the water. He could swim, but he was extremely weak when his tail was extinguished. Starmie jumped to his rescue and placed him back on an island.

    Reuben tried for another few minutes, and Bronzong was clearly one of his strongest Pokemon, but there was only so much that it could do in a one-on-two. Eventually, the Flamethrowers and Brines broke through his Light Screen, and the steel type fainted.

    "Victory to Maeve Chang. Trainers, please step off the platform."

    I had seen enough to understand the gist of Maeve's style. She was a fast-paced battler that took risks, but she was smart about them. During the battle, she had had both of her Pokemon focus on one opponent while Reuben constantly split his attention. Splitting attacks was fine if there was an overarching plan, but I didn't get that feeling from him. It felt like he was still finding his footing as a trainer. Despite his Pokemon being maybe even stronger than Maeve's, the fact that she had cemented her style and he had not meant that she held the advantage.

    Maeve had also recalled Staravia without any hesitation. In the moment, I almost groaned due to how strange I had found that decision, but that snap decision had potentially won Maeve the battle. Staravia would have been asleep at the same time as Starmie due to Quagsire's yawn, but it was also unable to fly because of how wet it had been. By switching out to Skorupi immediately, she kept the battle active and running at her pace.

    I smiled. Maeve was pretty good.



    It was nighttime now, and Pauline's battle was next on the Rock Field. This time, we were all here. I eagerly awaited for her Vigoroth to make its debut. I hoped that she had at least gotten him in line like Lauren's Rhydon— maybe not ready to listen to commands yet, but at least cooperative. Her opponents stepped up to the podium and Denzel squinted.

    "What the… what the hell?" He muttered.

    "What is it?" Mira asked.

    "That's not… that's not who she was supposed to fight. This is a five-badger. Harry Rodriguez. I looked him up when I was researching the trainers with five badges in case I'd have to battle them."

    "What? She was supposed to battle a girl with three badges, right? What happened?"

    Denzel grabbed his phone and quickly started to type. "She… dropped out? And so did this guy's previous opponent. What the fuck."

    My eyes narrowed. "What? That's shady as hell."

    "This isn't good. I don't even know if Pauline knows about— ah, she's here."

    The redhead frowned, clearly confused at her opponent, but she didn't appear shaken. The supervisor announced their names, and they released their Pokemon. Pauline released Charmeleon and Rufflet. Harry released his Pokemon onto the field.

    It was a continent. A self-sustaining island with legs. A living terrarium. Torterra grunted, and the tree on its back creaked and rustled as it took to the field. It was mindbogglingly large, coming in at around nine feet in height and I didn't know how much in width. Were Torterra always that big? A relatively smaller purple bat with a huge wingspan and four wings was released directly into the air. Crobat screeched and its yellow eyes locked onto its enemies.

    "Begin!"



    Three minutes later, Vigoroth and Gothorita were splayed out across the ground. Torterra and Crobat stood triumphantly over them. Torterra's tree had been lit on fire, but other than that, the ground type was intact. Crobat had been too quick to even get hit once.

    Pauline had lost.

    Now either this was all a big coincidence,

    Or something was horribly wrong with this tournament. I was willing to bet it was the latter.


    A/N: Thank you Silvern | School Rumble#4162, Bladewing#8069, and badboysbreadbridge#7111 for the teams!
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2023
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