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Pokémon In Too Deep

Table of Contents


Bug Catcher
Hey there! I've decided to post a mirror of my oneshot series In Too Deep here to TR, because I think the format works well for posting each individual vignette (and if I get just one new reader from here, then happy days). To start off with, these oneshots are companion pieces to my webcomic Way Out, a PLA re-telling featuring Cynthia, Dawn, and Professor Luculia Hiver as they navigate Hisui. You'll probably need to read at least a few chapters of that to follow the stories, but some of them are also general PLA worldbuilding stuff. The idea is that if it doesn't work as part of the comic's storyline but it's something I wanted to explore in further depth, it goes here.

I've already posted a few of these in my PLA Gen Week post so those will be linked to that thread instead, but otherwise I'll be putting them all here and updating the contents as I go. They're put into chronological order in the contents, but will be uploaded in order of which ones were written first. Most of them are of a G-T rating, with some mild swearing but otherwise light in tone; any necessary warnings will be posted with the chapter.

If you choose to read any, I hope you enjoy!


Before Way Out

Tradition | Fragments of History - The story of the woman who lives in the woods, told from the eyes of Hisui's inhabitants.
Cognate - A story of Luculia's family history, in the years of her life leading up to the present day.
Secret | On the other side - On touching a pomeg berry in the snow, Sabi discovers she has a unique ability known as the "Dimensional Scream".
Introductions | In this moment - Irida and Adaman meet with Commander Kamado of the Galaxy Team for the first time on Prelude Beach, and take a tour of the new Jubilife Village.
Preposition - Immediately prior to the events of Way Out Chapter 1. Luculia Hiver and Cynthia Nanten meet at the Solaceon Ruins to examine a passage Cynthia wants to investigate.
Heavensent - The story of Dawn's arrival to the Hisui region. Begins shortly prior to Cynthia and Luculia's arrival to Hisui, continuing throughout the Obsidian Fieldlands Arc.

Arc 1: Obsidian Fieldlands​

Doublet - A missing moment that takes place within Chapter 3 of Way Out. Luculia and Cynthia are shown to their quarters, where they learn they'll be sharing a living space for the duration of their stay in Jubilife Village.
Pokemon Snap - A game of Pokemon Snap between the Captains of the Galaxy Team, and Professor Laventon. Takes place between Chapter 4 and 5 of Way Out.
Nitimur in Vetitum - Set immediately after Chapter 14. Volo, Cynthia and Luculia share a conversation over dinner.
Dreams and Nightmares - Volo tells a scary story over a campfire.

Intermission 1​

Rule of Threes - After their return from the Obsidian Fieldlands expedition, Juno finds themself the odd one out without a Pokemon of their own. Thankfully, Professor Laventon already has a starter in mind. Takes place between Chapters 20-21 of Way Out.
Gratitude - Anthe relents, deciding it's finally time to allow Tuli to have a Pokémon of her own.
Festivities | All lives touch other lives - Cyllene attends the Lele Day festival, alongside Zisu and Laventon. Set during Chapter 21 of Way Out.

Arc 2: Crimson Mirelands​

Family | In this place - After their confrontation with Cynthia, Volo and Luculia, the Miss Fortune Sisters congregate in the mountains and plan their next attack. Set after Chapter 25 of Way Out.
Bad Moon Rising - At the end of their travels in the Crimson Mirelands, Adaman shares the story of Lord Ursaluna's cursed twin, the Bloodmoon Beast. Set between Chapters 39 and 40 of Way Out.

In the Present-Future​

Touching Base - Not long after Arceus has sent Cynthia and Luculia on their quest the Pokemon League comes grinding to a halt, fearful for the future. Aaron of the Sinnoh Elite Four reflects on the disappearance of the Champion- his friend.
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Bug Catcher



Off the beaten track from a town primarily known for its sprawling pastures and Pokemon agistment services, the Solaceon Ruins are mostly a novelty. The first few floors are open for public display, although most visitors are drawn towards the elusive Pokemon shaped like an ancient script rather than the inscriptions themselves. There are brass plaques with translations of the old writs placed strategically around the rooms, though they take a fair bit of liberty for the sake of creating intrigue.

Luculia knows each line by heart; she can recite the original writings, the literal translations and the popular academic interpretations, as well as her own deconstruction. Highlighting the modern cultural biases of the traditionally favoured translations had even been the subject of her thesis, and her retellings are now published in the latest academic textbooks— although they haven’t quite made the brass plaques.

She doesn’t have much time to visit the ruins these days. Nights once spent sleeping in these musty halls in pursuit of accreditation are now spent cleaning up her coworker’s messes at the Hearthome Museum. She rarely has reason to make the trip out to Solaceon anymore, but she’ll take any excuse she can. After all, the Unown have missed her.

Luculia twirls in place as the black and white letters careen in circles around her, swooping alongside her Froslass, Scilla. Occasionally they pop into the air in front of her with a soft tink, and she indulges them with a hum or a note in the corresponding phonemes of their shapes. Sometimes they’ll gather in clusters of morphemes, or even brachysyllabic words, always seeming to delight in having their shapes echoed back at them. Their game had been an invaluable resource in practicing vocalisation in the Unown language, but it’s a little hard to cite the Unown Pokemon Collective in research papers.

The harsh clack of a pair of heels echoes through the room, and the Unown blink out of sight mid-syllable.

“Oh- I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare them,” Cynthia says, looking more than a little abashed, tucking her hair behind her ear.

“It’s alright, they’d have gotten bored soon enough anyway,” Luculia replies, and straightens her coat. Scilla’s presence tends to lower the temperature of any room, but thankfully the Champion is always well dressed for the cold. She extends her hand as a formality, which Cynthia shakes as a formality.

“It’s good to see you again, Professor Hiver.”

“You too, Cynthia. And you know you can call me Luculia when it’s just us.”

“I didn’t want to assume,” Cynthia says, but nods with a small smile.

“So- you want to visit B4F-7, right?” Luculia says, readying her shoulder bag.

“Right! There’s a passage I was looking over that I think has been influenced by more recent depictions of the Legendary Giratina- and I wonder if it could be amended,” Cynthia explains, already leading the way down.

“You think that its depiction of Giratina as the deviant cosmic traitor is a bit of a disservice? “ Luculia asks without asking, well aware of her associate’s attempts to revise Giratina’s portrayal in modern depictions of the Sinnohan creation myths. Cynthia grins wearily.

“I know I have my own biases too, but that’s why I called you. You understand the nuances of the language better than anyone, and I’m sure you could provide a more informed translation with a more objective lens.”

“Good call,” Luculia replies, swallowing down the smug warmth in her chest. She doesn’t need to look at Scilla to know she’s rolling her eyes beside her. Cynthia does have a point, though, beyond just her praise; the common translation could have easily exaggerated certain phrases based on assumptions about what they should say rather than what they truly mean. She’s not about to angle a translation in favour of Giratina just to even the score, but the least she can do is approach it from a more neutral stance.

The labyrinthine passageways of the ruins guide them down, beyond the point where tourists are prohibited and the air begins to grow stale. The Unown are still keeping their distance, which suits Luculia just fine— she’s built up a rapport with them, but they have still been known, on occasion, to disappear people. Which is something she’s not entirely keen on claiming any responsibility for, in this case.

Eventually they make their way to the fourth basement floor and find the room in question, which unlike its predecessors doesn’t have the luxury of properly installed light fixtures.

“Scilla, could you use Flash for us? Nice and easy,” Luculia instructs, and Scilla obliges with a small ball of light that gradually fills the room, revealing the coining script that wraps around the walls in near incomprehensible strings. Yet as she approaches them they align serendipitously, unravelling word by word and phrase by phrase until reading becomes listening.

“You can read in Unown, right?” Luculia asks, getting her notebook out. She’d assumed as much, though it occurs to her now that she’d never really asked.

“Yes- I still mostly refer to the translation notes, but I can parse simple sentences without them,” Cynthia answers, drawn towards the walls by the same magnetism.

“That’s good, then. We can start where you suggested, on line 109, but you can have a look around and if anything else stands out to you, let me know.”

“Alright,” Cynthia nods, and they split to examine opposite etchings.

Line 109 of Passage 36 in Room B4F-7 is tucked neatly away in a corner, providing only a brief footnote about the renegade god amongst the sonnets of the almighty creator of Sinnoh. The modern words for time, space and creation all share a root in this language, where the difference between them is reliant on specific suffixes and subtle context cues— which is probably the cause of confusion in the past over what ‘Sinnoh’ both meant and referred to, but she’s no historian. All she can do is speak for the dead.

“I think we can start with the word renegade in the common translation- in our language it carries the connotation of betrayal, but I believe an argument could be made that the original term is closer to something like rebel, which of course implies a conflict but doesn’t necessarily assume malicious intent. I’ll mark it down for cross-reference,” Luculia scratches into her notebook.

“I see. The legends say that Arceus banished Giratina to the Distortion World a long time ago, but the reason why is always kept vague. And given how important we now know the Distortion World is to maintaining balance in the physics of our own world, I wonder if ‘banishment’ isn’t also a flawed term,” Cynthia adds, and Luculia hums in agreement.

“The legends passed down orally have stayed largely the same for generations, so much of the wording is still similar- but of course, words can evolve over time to mean very different things,” she says, which really is her field of study in a nutshell.

They continue as such for the larger part of the day, sharing notes and pointing out oddities to each other. Luculia explains the etymology of a word and the way in which it functions in each sentence, and Cynthia explains the greater cultural significance of the popular translations. They can hardly rewrite history overnight, but together they mark down enough notes for further research that would serve as the basis for what could be a plausible argument. And, between all their academic exchanges, a few casual conversations slip through.

“How did you decide that this was the career you wanted to do?” Cynthia asks, rubbing eyes sore from staring at walls for hours in the dim light.

“Hm? Oh, well- back when I was a little kid I got lost up in Snowpoint, and ended up in the temple- you know, the one usually restricted from the public and anyone who isn’t the Champion-“ Luculia starts, shooting Cynthia a wry grin.

“-ah, of course,” Cynthia chuckles. Unlike the Solaceon Ruins, Snowpoint Temple is structurally hazardous, far more sensitive to exposure damage, and also freezing cold. Which are only a few of the reasons why archeologists need a permit to do any work there.

“Yeah. I couldn’t tell you how I ended up there, but I remember finding the room with all the braille carvings- but I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, and I thought it was actually a special puzzle made just for me. My own destined mystery,” Luculia scoffs, and Cynthia offers an affectionate aww.

“Of course, somebody found me and got me out of there, and then I found out that all those bumps were actually a writing system, which I had to learn to make sure it really wasn’t a message specifically for me- it wasn’t, by the way- but there was still something really satisfying about learning to read it anyway. I was also learning a third language by that point- or fourth, counting the braille- because my family is just all over the place. I have a more sophisticated appreciation of linguistics now,” Luculia states with a flourish of her hand, “but back then it was just the fun of solving a puzzle, and I still do find it fun.”

“I think that’s amazing,” Cynthia smiles, now transfixed on her rather than the wall. “And maybe it was a message just for you, in its own way, if it’s what led you to this point.”

Luculia spares her a quick glance before turning back to face the corner, blinded by sincerity.

“Maybe,” she concedes.
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Bug Catcher
This is just a small little part I felt like writing, which takes place during Chapter 3 of Way Out! It's kind of an extended version with parts I wanted to include in the comic, but ultimately decided to leave out; namely their reaction to being roommates for the foreseeable future.
The whole point is that it's something they consider pretty unremarkable, so I couldn't really justify remarking on it lmao. That being said, them not being too bothered by it /is/ still a character decision, so I figured I'd just take the time to write a domestic missing moment to clarify that that was the intention.


Stepping out of the Galaxy Hall and onto the street, Cynthia takes a moment to observe. The golden shine of the falling afternoon sun casts a sandy haze over the village, and there’s a palpable tranquility that comes with the evening’s arrival. The people here— all wearing traditional yet mundane garb— meander through the streets back to their homes, only occasionally stopping to share a conversation and a send a curious glance their way.

She isn’t exactly sure where this is, yet. Mount Coronet sits at the epicentre of the Sinnoh Region, and if she orients herself based on its direction it would place them at the southwestern corner of the region. However, she knows the area well enough due to all her visits to Professor Rowan’s lab in Sandgem, and she’s never come across nor even heard of such a rustic village in the area.

There’s a lot that isn’t adding up. Or at least, it’s adding up in ways that come to an impossible conclusion.

The impression she has is that Professor Laventon is under the impression that his Pokedex is one of the first if not the first iteration. She doesn’t know exactly when the first Pokedex was written, but she knows cataloguing Pokemon is a relatively modern practice in terms of human history, following the invention of apricorn pokeballs. And then there’s the Galaxy Expedition Team, which Cynthia is pretty sure she’s now a provisional employee of. If it really is that Galaxy Expedition Team, then it’s likely they haven’t been established in the region for very long, placing them well within the Hisui era. Which shouldn’t be the most logical conclusion, and yet it makes the most sense.

Nevermind that the Captain of the Survey Corps reminds her so much, too much, of somebody she used to know— or will know, technically.

“You coming?” a member of the Security Corps calls out to her, Luculia patiently standing next to him.

“Ah, sorry. I got a bit lost in thought,” Cynthia replies, and catches up in only a few short strides.

“It’s alright. It can be a lot to take in all at once,” he says. “This way.”

He leads them further down the road, passing all the shopfronts as they close their doors for the day. At the end of the street there are a row of attached houses, and he walks them all the way to the very last one by the village’s eastern gate. The guard keeping watch nods to them, then resumes his post.

“Here’s a key for each of you. Make sure to keep your quarters clean, Captain Cyllene does routine inspections to make sure everything’s kept in good condition,” their guide instructs them. “Just don’t trash the place and you’ll be fine.”

Cynthia can’t say she’s looking forward to the inspections given her inability to keep her belongings neat and tidy, but if she’s going to be sharing a roof with Luculia she’ll have to make the effort anyway.

“Alright, thank you— you know, I don’t think I caught your name,” she says.

“I’m Beauregard, you can call me Beau. I’m usually posted out of the front of the Galaxy Hall, so don’t be afraid to holler if you ladies need anything,” he replies, and waves them off as he leaves. Alone now for the first time since arriving here, Cynthia turns to Luculia.

“I guess we’re stuck together for a little while,” she says, and lets them both in. She’s not sure if Luculia is used to… oddities the same way she is, but she seems to be taking it all in stride so far. And perhaps with a twinge of guilt, Cynthia does feel glad she’s not alone for this one.

“Don’t worry, I make an excellent roommate. I don’t think my roomies at university even knew I was living with them,” Luculia replies easily.

“I’ve been told I make a terrible roommate, but that’s according to Flint, so,” Cynthia chuckles.

“Is it because you eat all the ice cream when no one’s around?”

“H-how did you-?”

“I mean, I was joking, but-“ Luculia breaks into laughter, unable to finish her thought. It’s an infectious sound.

“Alright, alright, you got me,” Cynthia grins, shaking her head.

The accommodation provided to them is a simple traditionally styled dwelling, with two futons already set up on the tatami floor. There are a few paper lamps set up around the room to provide a dim glow, but it’s otherwise devoid of any lighting fixtures. Instead of a kitchenette there’s a hearth at the centre of the house with a cooking brazier provided. The whole place reminds her grandmother’s home back in Celestic town, and though it’s been a long time since she lived there she’s hit with a wave of nostalgia as she removes her heels to have a closer look.

“It’s a little small for two people. Somehow I get the feeling they just added an extra bed and didn’t mention it was meant to be a single,” Luculia notes, discreetly adjusting her glasses. It reminds Cynthia of the way Lucian takes his off whenever he sees something he doesn’t like, and she grins a little wearily.

“It’s certainly… rudimentary, but I’m sure it’ll do,” she replies. It beats having to bunk in the ordinarily cold dorms at the back of an understaffed pokecentre, at least.

“We don’t even have a bath,” Luculia’s nose twitches.

“There must be a bathhouse in town. It might be nice to go and visit,” Cynthia suggests.

“I don’t think we’ll have much of a choice,” Luculia laughs, now wry and brittle.

Cynthia moves to cross the room over to her, but wavers as the dreaded surge of jetlag hits. In the flickering light of the oil lamps it occurs to her that it had been close to dusk when they’d left— tried to leave— the Solaceon ruins, only to emerge on a hill on the other side of Mount Coronet in broad daylight. If her day had continued as normal, she should already be in bed right now.

She struggles to stifle a yawn.

“Ah- don’t get me started,” Luculia says, covering her own mouth.

“Sorry. It’s been a, uh, long day.”

“It’s alright, I’m pretty tired as well. We might as well get to bed early— they’ve given us a couple of yukata, at least,” Luculia says, and unfolds the privacy screen. Cynthia fights off another yawn.

“That’s probably a good idea,” she admits. However, she still has to find a way to broach the subject of where exactly they are— more precisely, when they are. They’re in this together now, even if she doesn’t know what it is exactly they’re together in, and they need to be on the same page regardless of however ridiculous said page may be. It’s almost exciting; Sinnoh’s history has been her passion for her entire life, and now she gets to experience it beyond even primary sources.

“Sorry for putting you on the spot earlier,” Luculia says while shucking off her coat. “I just felt like we needed an in on this whole… situation.”

Cynthia finds herself relaxing at that. If Luculia has also noticed that something’s off about all this, then maybe she won’t find her time travel theory so ridiculous after all. It does serve as a reminder, however, that while her position as Champion is negligible here, there’s at least one person who it matters to. And as much as she’d like to indulge in the past, it’s on her to get them back home.
Bad Moon Rising


Bug Catcher
Okay, so I know I said I was going to upload the rest of these in order of them being posted, but this chapter is the exception because it's a halloween special! Happy (early) Halloween!

So, the Bloodmoon Ursaluna was revealed to me in a leak right before I was uploading the lunar eclipse chapters of Lunar Paradoxy and right after the Crimson Mirelands Arc had wrapped up, so I figured I had to try to work this guy in /somehow/, lore and consistency be damned. As a result this chapter is ~semi~ canon to Way Out in that I'd like to treat it as canon to the timeline, but probably won't be referred to in-comic because it's just a little awkwardly shoved in.

Parts of this were a little tricky to write because I wanted to keep up the tension without making anyone feel too incapable, so let's just go with a lunar eclipse-boosted Bloodmoon Beast is like the Titan version battle except worse. Also fun fact but he does have a different cry to a regular Ursaluna! which was a nice way for me to get around them not being able to figure out what it is.
I'm glad I got it finished in time for Halloween, so I hope you enjoy it!

Bad Moon Rising​

An image of a Bloodmoon Ursaluna standing in a forest clearing underneath a lunar eclipse, powering up a red Blood Moon attack. In the foreground Dawn, Cynthia and Luculia stare up at it, lit in red light. White text at the top reads Bad Moon Rising.

The large hall at the centre of the Diamond Clan’s village is a refuge against the cool summer night air, with steam from all the freshly cooked meals filling the room with warmth and a nutty, spiced aroma. The buzzing chatter and glowing spirits reminds Cynthia of nights long ago on her journey, of the function rooms of pokémon centres where the nurses often served soup or pasta to trainers so they could at least enjoy a hot, cooked meal between all the packet ramen and rice balls. Only this is much nicer.

Beside her, Luculia eats her dumplings and dried magikarp roe in contemplative silence, only passively observing the conversation between Dawn and Arezu across from them.

“So you actually battled against Lord Ursaluna? Whoa. That thing is scary,” Arezu says, pulling a face around a mouthful of roasted pinaps.

“He might be big, but I don’t know if I’d call him scary. He’s actually kinda goofy, like a big teddiursa,” Dawn says with a wide, goofy grin of her own. Arezu shakes her head with a dubious chuckle.

“Maybe, but just be glad you didn’t run into his twin.”

Arezu,” Adaman whispers in a low voice from his seat next to her.

“His twin?” Cynthia asks, pausing before taking another bite. Dawn looks just as confused, glancing between Adaman and Arezu.

“You’ve never heard the story of the Bloodmoon Beast?” Arezu asks, her eyes shifting between them.

“Arezu! You better not let Warden Calaba hear you telling that story, or you’ll lose any of that favour you might’ve earned with her,” Adaman chastises, and Arezu winces, reflexively adjusting her leg.

“Hey, it’s not like she’s here now, so…”

Adaman gives her an unimpressed stare, and she sighs, surrendering. Cynthia takes another mouthful of rice, hoping to mask any disappointment in her face; as curious as she is, if it’s a touchy subject she’ll just have to approach it with more caution at a later time.

“But what’s the Bloodmoon Beast?” Dawn asks, and Cynthia closes her eye. Luculia buries a snort behind another dumpling, and Adaman cracks with a small smile.

“Alright— let me tell the story, at least,” he says, and clears his throat. All eyes turn to him, and the surrounding hum of conversation quietens as the Diamond clan waits for its leader to spin a tale.

“It’s been said,” he begins, voice low and ominous, “that just as the moon has a dark side, Lord Ursaluna and all his ancestors all the way back to the Ancient Hero himself have had a twin. A mirror image, only it walks not with Almighty Sinnoh but in its shadow. Throughout time, we’ve come to know it as the Bloodmoon Beast.”

A silent ripple of unease washes over the crowd, as hands still and leftovers grow cold. The hall itself shivers.

“Anyone who’s out alone on a foggy night, wandering lost in the mists of the Mirelands, risks running into it. It looks like an Ursaluna, at first glance, until you see it stand on two legs, taller than a Rhyperior. It will glare down at you with glowing green eyes, and when you see the red moon on its forehead, stained with the blood of its victims— then you’ll know you’ve run into it. And it’ll be too late.”

“Okay, but is it real?” Luculia asks blandly, propping her head up with her palm.

“I’ve never seen it, but everyone in our clan knows the story, so it’s gotta come from somewhere, right?” Arezu replies, perhaps a touch defensively.

“There usually is a grain of truth in every myth,” Cynthia says, hoping she doesn’t sound too excited. It’s her life’s work to sort through piles to find them, those tiny little specks of history buried under the rubble; each grain of truth is its own diamond.

“Yeah, and that’s why none of us ever go out alone when the fog rolls in after dark,” Adaman adds. “Though, it’s also because that’s just dangerous in general. Trust me, you don’t want to get stuck waist-deep in mud where nobody can find you in the middle of the night.”

“I’ll try to remember that,” Dawn grins, taking the warning in stride. Cynthia smiles a little more cautiously.

a line break in the image of 7 circles, resembling the phases of the moon.


Luculia winces as she is dragged from the depths of sleep by a harsh, sharp hiss. She blinks her vision back into being as best she can, to be greeted by a dark grimace as Cynthia stares down at her.

“Wha?” she slurs.

“Luculia, Dawn is missing.”


Luculia squints through the dim candlelight to look at Dawn’s futon across the floor, empty but for scattered sheets. She jumps out of her bunk as if struck by lightning, immediately moving to search for a change of clothes. Cynthia is already dressed in her overalls, looking back and forth between Dawn’s abandoned futon and the door like a caged Pokémon ready to sprint at any moment.

“Did she leave a note or anything?”

“No, I tried looking-“

“Do you think she’s snuck out to visit someone else?” Luculia asks as she pulls her haori on, but Cynthia’s answer is interrupted by a muffled noise. They still, hesitant to even breathe as they listen for it again. Just as the silence grows deafening, the unmistakable sound of a Pokémon’s cry echoes through the walls— loud, low, and angry. Cynthia grabs her boots by the door.

“Come on, we have to hurry.”

Luculia stumbles after her, pulling on her sandals.

“Okay, let’s go,” she says, but Cynthia is already gone.

a line break in the image of 7 circles, resembling the phases of the moon.

A wall of fog hangs over the floodplain, clouding all signs of life in the marshlands below. It’s to be expected, at this time of year; the stagnant puddles left behind by days of rain warm up in the hot summer sun, while the humidity prevents them from evaporating, and come night the cool air blowing in from the sea creates a mix of cold air and warm water that leaves behind a fog that lingers in Pastoria all season. Cynthia has always found it quite picturesque, if a little haunting.

“Can you see anything?” she whispers, pushing some fronds out of their path.

“No,” Luculia hisses back, without anger but not impatience.

“Right, sorry,” Cynthia cringes.

She leads the way as they trudge downhill, careful not to lose her footing on landslips in waiting. The ground is soft and scattered with puddles and refuse from the flooding, but the storm has passed, at least. A glance at the clear, starry sky above assuages her that they won’t have to deal with rain on top of the fog, which is a small mercy.

“Cynthia, look at the moon,” Luculia whispers, tugging at the back of her shirt. Cynthia follows her gaze. In the middle of the sky, the moon is half painted in a vibrant orange hue, being ever so slowly subsumed by it.

It’s the start of a lunar eclipse.

“Huh. We were supposed to be due for one of those soon— maybe we were sent back in time relative to our position in the saros cycle?” Cynthia frowns, craning her neck. She hadn’t thought to ask Cyllene for an almanac, and she’ll have to rectify that mistake when they’re back in Jubilife. Luculia shudders as the wind picks up, burying the noise of their footsteps with the rustling of leaves and crackling branches.

Dawn?” She calls out, stirring a few squawking Staravia. “Where are you?

The only response she receives is another loud, low roar, closer now than before. She shuffles closer to Cynthia, and Cynthia tries to find the direction the sound had come from— but distorted by the wind, it seems to echo from everywhere. By the sound of it, it’s something about the size of a Hippowdon or Rhyperior, but she knows the timbre of both those Pokémon’s cries very well after years of training with Bertha. It sounds more like an Ursaluna, but deeper, and… wrong.

A twig snaps.

Cynthia holds her arm out, and Luculia freezes as she bumps against it. Her other arm reaches for her first pokéball, readying it as a rustling from the brush up ahead grows louder. An upright figure stumbles out of the darkness right towards them, and trips to the ground.


“Cynthia, is that you?”

“Yes, its— what are you doing out here? What happened?” Cynthia asks, helping Dawn to her feet again. She has a few scratches from wayward branches, and her hair is mussed and her clothes stained with dirt, but she’s otherwise unhurt. Cynthia breathes a silent sigh of relief.

“I thought I heard Lord Ursaluna outside the village so I got worried that something might’ve happened to Warden Calaba, and when I went out to investigate it started chasing me! So I ran and sent out Triton to battle it only it was freaking strong and Triton got knocked out, and none of my other Pokémon are anywhere near his level of—“

Another roar thunders across the marsh, drowning out the last of Dawn’s words. A chill runs down Cynthia's spine.

Tree trunks bend as a large paw pushes them over, making way for Dawn's pursuer. Branches snap, an an Ursaluna even bigger than the Lord of the Mound glares down at them through the mist, standing upright like a hulking Alpha Ursaring. The mud caked on its shoulders cracks and splits down its body in the jagged shape of a spine, and most of its face is also covered but for a hollow black eye and the bright, red circle on its forehead.

It rears back and roars, and takes a warning step towards them that shakes the ground.

“Oh, shit!” Luculia yelps, shrinking back.

“It’s been frenzied by Lady Lilligant’s pollen, I think, the same way Lord Ursaluna was,” Dawn warns, looking to Cynthia. “Warden Calaba has medicine she can give it, but only after it’s been knocked out!”

Cynthia pushes Dawn behind her, and clicks the notch to expand her pokéball.

“I’ll take care of it, you just stay behind me. Yurei, help us out here!” she calls, and the swamp is briefly lit up in a flash of blue light. Yurei emerges from her keystone, with only a second to react as her spinning disc ducks to avoid the Ursaluna’s swipe. She dodges the next slash, and the next, clumsily hopping away instead of allowing the attacks to phase through her. Cynthia’s brow furrows, but she decides to chalk up the odd behaviour as Yurei goading her opponent.

Ghost type attacks are off the table, and she knows some Ursaluna are only aggravated by poison or burns so without more information Will-o-Wisp is out too, for as much as she’d like to keep it on the back foot. Still, she can make do with what she’s got.

“Alright, Yurei. Use Dark Pulse!”

Yurei shoots a rippling dark blast square at Ursaluna’s chest, but it brushes it off with a heavy shake of its shoulders. It leans back, lifting its snout to the sky, and a bright red orb starts to form above it, casting lurid red light across the clearing. A crackling beam of energy blasts down from it, and Yurei heaves her keystone out of the way as the blood red light carves a chunk out of the earth, leaving a zig-zagging ditch in its wake.

“Fuck!” Luculia shouts, ducking as a stray block of peat ricochets towards her head. Ursaluna turns, snarling down at her. It drops down onto four legs, which is all the warning Cynthia gets to yank Luculia by the collar out of the way of a Headlong Rush.

Yurei’s keystone leaps into Dawn’s arms, who instinctively reaches to catch it. Her disc follows, and she uses the momentum of the swing to throw her one hundred and eight souls inside Dawn’s body. Dawn’s head drops, hanging for a moment, and snaps back up to reveal glowing green eyes to rival Ursaluna’s.

“You’re wasting your time,” she says— Yurei says, a faint echo trailing from Dawn’s voice.

“Yurei, what are you doing? Get out of her!”

“You won’t be able to incapacitate this Ursaluna while it’s empowered by the blood moon. Wait for the eclipse to pass, unless you want to prolong this carnage.”

The Ursaluna snorts as its charge ends in a fury of smashed trees, shaking its head, and it sets its eyes on Luculia again. It heaves its body back up onto two legs and readies another one of its red Moonblasts, illuminating the frightened burmy clinging to their trees and the bidoof and budew hiding in the shrubs, unable to flee without drawing attention to themselves. Above it, the moon is drenched in red, subsumed by the earth’s shadow in the zenith of a total eclipse. Cynthia clenches her jaw, feeling her teeth click.

Luculia is able to dive out of the way of the incoming beam, which shatters the fallen tree behind her into splinters. Cynthia reaches for another pokéball.

“Its cursed eye allows it to identify ghosts, too. In case you didn’t know,” Yurei adds impishly, but thankfully leaves Dawn’s body and retreats into her keystone, which hops back down to the ground. Dawn’s body falls limp, still waiting for its usual host to return, and Cynthia leaps to catch her before she hits the ground.

“Shit,” she hisses, and glares down at Yurei. “We will be talking about this later.”

Yurei’s perpetual grin flickers, but thankfully returns to the battle; a sucker punch catches the Ursaluna off guard before it can try for another attack, giving Luculia enough time to scramble back to Cynthia’s side. Cynthia hoists Dawn’s dormant body over her shoulder as best she can, and jerks her head at Luculia.

“Come on, there’s no use battling it now— we have to move.”

She glares down at Yurei.

“I don’t care how you distract it, but keep it off our backs.”

Yurei lets out a ghastly chuckle and slips into the shadows, and Cynthia doesn’t stay to watch what she’s up to. She turns, and runs.

It’s hard to cover a lot of ground while trying to juggle Dawn’s weight, and she knows Luculia is slowing herself to keep pace, but Ursaluna’s snarls are growing quieter as they put more distance between them, so at least whatever Yurei is doing to buy them a bit of time is working.

The ground rumbles with a localised earthquake, and Cynthia staggers as her leg sinks into the mud, burying her up to the knee. Luculia rushes to her side, and helps her prop up Dawn while she tries to wrest her foot from the bog. Cynthia hauls herself forward, freeing her foot with a loud, wet plurk, and pushes onwards through the mire. Regular Ursaluna can run frighteningly fast despite their size, and she’s not about to gamble on whether this one can too. She’s not sure how much time they have before Ursaluna catches up; once it had set its sights on Luculia, it seemed to prioritise her as a target, and Yurei won’t be able to distract it forever. What they need is—

There’s a small crevasse in the rocky escarpment to the west, which looks deep enough to fit three people but not wide enough to fit the breadth of a large Pokémon.

“Luculia, this way!”

With Dawn still limp between them, they do their best to squeeze between the gap between the rocks, shuffling in far enough that no swiping claws can get to them.

Satisfied that they’re hidden and safe for now, Cynthia crouches and lays Dawn back against the cavern wall. Luculia shoots her a worried look, scared for Dawn, scared for herself and scared for all of them but unwilling to speak aloud, and it’s all Cynthia can do to silently nod and let her know that she knows. Yurei’s keystone teleports into the shadows beside them, and Cynthia scoops her up. She looks a little scuffed, still hiding inside her stone to prevent her ghostly glow from drawing attention to them, but isn’t in too bad shape otherwise. In the distance— yet still far too close— Ursaluna roars.

“What’s going on?” Dawn stirs, rubbing the haze from her eyes. Cynthia clamps a hand over her mouth, and holds her own breath. For a long moment, they all sit deathly still.

A loud, sharp sound breaks the ceasefire from further away in the scrubland. It sounds like the snapping of a branch, or a stone striking stone, but either way it draws Ursaluna’s attention off somewhere else, and its growling fades as it trudges away. Its occasional distant roar warns that it hasn’t gone very far, however. Cynthia cautions a glance behind the cave wall.

She could swear that she saw a flash of red and white through the trees, but her eyes must be playing tricks on her, because Luculia is still sitting next to her.

She looks up to the sky, and by now the moon’s red glow has faded to a faint orange stain on its side. It’ll only be a matter of time before the eclipse is over, now. They sit in silence for what feels like hours, listening in to Ursaluna’s constant huffs and roars, inexhaustible in its frenzy. Any damage Yurei had done to it must have been negligible, but it won't have that advantage forever. More minutes pass, and Cynthia checks the pallor of the moon again. Now, it’s a crisp, pale white, shining in serene glory as if a shadow had never touched it.

“You ready, Yurei?”

Yurei’s disc emerges from her keystone with an enthusiastic whirl. Cynthia looks to Luculia and Dawn.

“You two keep cover here. This shouldn’t take long.”

Cynthia steps out of the cave with Yurei in her arms, and follows the thunderous growling to a clearing in the moors. Ursaluna is charging aimlessly, growling and swiping at the ghastly that are quick to disappear once it sets its eyes on them. Cynthia lets Yurei down, just as Ursaluna turns to glare at her through the misty darkness. It doesn’t look any less imposing, but with an open field and clear, shining moonlight, she likes her odds a lot better.

“Alright, let’s try this one more time. Yurei, use Dark Pulse!”

Ursaluna charges right for them, but Yurei’s blast of dark energy strikes it right on the target on its forehead, and the Ursaluna loses its stride as it flinches. Yurei manages to get another Sucker Punch in before Ursaluna can recover, but when it hauls itself back onto two legs Cynthia knows what’s coming next. Without the eclipse to empower it, Ursaluna’s Blood Moon attack doesn’t glow as brightly as it did before, but that’s not to say it isn’t still strong.

“Yurei, Protect!”

Yurei summons her aura to form a barrier, blocking the worst of the beam’s offense, but it’s unlikely she’ll be able to pull off the same trick again so soon. Even without the eclipse’s boon, Ursaluna doesn’t need time to recharge after that attack the way Cynthia would typically expect— but even so, she’s noticed it never uses it consecutively; that’s a stalemate she can work with.


Yurei’s disk spins, crackling with violet energy. The Ursaluna roars and swipes, knocking Yurei back with a hit that would otherwise pass right through her. Her keystone topples backwards, leaving her vulnerable to the next Headlong Rush coming her way as Ursaluna drops down to all fours. Only before it can start to charge, a ball of mud splatters against the side of its head, stunning it in place.

“Yeah, eat shit,” Dawn jeers, wiping her hands against her shirt.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop her,” Luculia pants, trailing after her.

“Hey, nice shot,” Cynthia grins, and Dawn and Luculia look a little more relieved to see she’s got things back under control.

“Well, it’s a pretty big target,” Dawn grins back.

With mud now covering both its eyes, Ursaluna’s snarls rumble across the heath as it stumbles around blindly. Yurei rights herself, her disc fraying with irritated sparks.

The Ursaluna shakes the wet mud off, though the caked peat remains, and pulls itself to its full height again.

It’s time to finally get this over with.

“Okay, Yurei. Use Hypnosis!”

Ursaluna begins to sway on its feet as the psychic waves collide with it— Dawn was right, it is a pretty big target. Frenzied Pokémon typically don’t fall asleep so easily, but if she’s lucky, it’s just drowsy enough for this to work.

“Now, Dream Eater.”

Yurei obliges, draining the last of Ursaluna’s energy and its last chance for a sudden comeback. It falls to the ground, landing with a thump that shakes the earth. Satisfied that it won’t be getting up again any time soon, Cynthia steps closer to take a better look at it.

It doesn’t look too dissimilar to Lord Ursaluna, despite their differences; perhaps this is a rare form caused by an evolution under specific conditions, like underneath a lunar eclipse instead of a regular full moon. It’s certainly still the same Pokémon, though— like the rare Dusk Lycanroc, or the elusive three-segmented Dudunsparce. Professor Rowan would have a lot of theories, she’s sure.

Cynthia looks to Yurei, whose keystone hops over to join her.

“I’m still upset with you. But even so, you did a good job,” she says, and Yurei’s disc spins in an almost guilty swirl. Cynthia recalls her into her pokéball and sighs. By now the moon is sinking towards the horizon, the sky the gentle lilac of an early morning twilight. Absent of clouds, it promises for a warm day to set their journey home off to a good start.

“What on earth are you three doing?

Cynthia almost flinches.

High up on the back of Ursaluna, Warden glares down at them with all ninety-nine years’ worth of scorn in her eyes.

“Warden Calaba!” Dawn yelps.

“He’s just sleeping,” Cynthia says quickly, shooting a cautious glance at the dozing Bloodmoon Ursaluna, now letting out grumbling snores. It’s difficult to tell, but she thinks Calaba raises a thin eyebrow.

“We think he had been infected with Lady Lilligant’s pollen as well, and the lunar eclipse tonight must have made his symptoms worse,” she explains. Calaba sighs, and Lord Ursaluna squats so that she can more easily slide out of her saddle onto the ground.

“Is this really Lord Ursaluna’s twin?” Dawn asks, following her over to the sleeping Ursaluna.

“It’s true, this Ursaluna is Lord Ursaluna’s brother. But he is no more evil than you or I. He is misunderstood because of his appearance, and thus feared by the Diamond Clan— so keeping him hidden is all I can do to keep him safe.”

Calaba approaches the Ursaluna with a bottle of medicine from one of her pouches, and waves it under his sensitive nose. He stirs, curling his lip, but allows Calaba to pour some of the liquid down his throat. Cynthia and Luculia wince as Ursaluna retches, but once it’s finished it hauls itself back to stand on two legs and shakes its bulky body with relief, instantly brighter.

“Better out than in,” Dawn mutters to herself, nodding. Calaba sighs, and scratches Ursaluna’s side.

“The Diamond Clan made their home here in the Mirelands a long time ago, and the relationship between our Clans has not always been as cordial as it is now. The stories the Diamond Clan tells of a Bloodmoon Beast wreaking havoc against their people has its truth, I must admit, but because of our violent history they only see this Ursaluna as a monster."

Ursaluna’s tongue curls as it yawns, and it smacks its lips together with a woozy expression, looking nothing like the frenzied alpha it had been only hours ago. Calaba gives him a firm pat.

“Go and rest off the last of that medicine, Ursaluna. You’ll want to be gone before the Diamond Clan starts getting up for their morning chores. They’re not ones to squander daylight,” Calaba warns. The Bloodmoon Ursaluna drops back to all fours and bumps its head against Lord Ursaluna, who licks his forehead and grunts. They watch as it pads off towards the eastern cliffs, and begins scaling them in the direction of a cave further up.

“Isn’t that the cave we stayed overnight in?” Luculia whispers.

“Don’t worry about it,” Cynthia replies, hiding her grimace.

“You should head back to the village and clean yourselves up too,” Calaba says. “I don’t care what you tell the Diamond Clan’s leader, so long as it isn’t a story about a Bloodmoon Ursaluna.”

“We’ll think of something. Thank you for your help, Warden Calaba,” Cynthia says, and bows lightly.

“Hmph. It’s just as well you weren’t hurt.”

“We’re very sorry about all this. I think we just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, tonight.”

“I don’t know why you thought the middle of the Mirelands in the middle of the night was the right place or the right time, but what would I know?” Calaba scoffs. Cynthia shoots an aggrieved look at Dawn, who pretends not to notice.

“Anyhow, I suppose I should thank you. That Ursaluna keeps to himself most of the time, and who knows how long he might have been under the influence of that pollen— and now he can be rid of it for good,” Calaba says with a shallow nod.

Cynthia smiles weakly and glances to Luculia, who appears to have zoned out through most of Calaba’s scolding; not that she can blame her for that. She nudges her with an elbow, and it takes a second for Luculia to shake herself back into the present.

“Are you doing okay? That Ursaluna really seemed to have it out for you back there,” Cynthia asks.

“It and everything else around here,” Luculia snorts. “I wish I could’ve done more to help you out, though.”

“Hey, we found Dawn and got out of this with all our limbs still attached, and that’s good enough for me.”

Luculia hums in agreement, then stretches her neck until the bones crack.

“Ugh. You know, I could really go for some breakfast right now.”

“Breakfast sounds amazing,” Dawn groans, and even Lord Ursaluna grumbles hungrily.

“Well, you aren’t going to find it here. Go on, back to the village, now. And eat up, too! You’re all skin and bones, you three,” Calaba shoos them off, though Cynthia thinks she catches a hint of a smile, somewhere between all those frown lines.

a line break in the image of 7 circles, resembling the phases of the moon.

Luculia looks half dead with sleeplessness as they walk up the incline towards the Diamond Clan’s village, and Cynthia figures she probably won’t be up for much conversation for a little while. Breakfast will probably help, but until then the fatigue settles over all of their shoulders. Even Dawn doesn’t have the same pep in her step that she usually does, and she fumbles around with the singular metal pokéball in her possession. It's Triton's, of course.

“I’ll help you get him healed up,” Cynthia says, jutting her chin at the ball in her hands.

“Oh— yeah, thanks,” Dawn mutters, and puts it back in her satchel.

“How are you holding up?” Cynthia asks, slowing down a touch to set them a pace behind Luculia.

“I’m fine. I guess I just bit off a bit more than I could chew, this time. I’m sorry for scaring you," Dawn replies without meeting her eyes.

“I’m sorry about Yurei, too. I suppose she thinks she’s got a free pass to possess people now, but she shouldn’t have done that,” Cynthia says firmly.

“It’s okay. So long as she got whatever message she needed to get across, right?”

Cynthia frowns.

“Listen, Dawn-“

“Cynthia, I’m tired. Can’t this wait until later?” Dawn says with a heavy voice, finally looking at her with tired eyes, and Cynthia swallows a sigh.

“Okay,” she relents. Luculia turns to look back and catches her eye, and tugs her lip with a look that speaks louder than words could. Cynthia reciprocates it with a concerned frown. She is going to have to talk to Dawn later, but she gets the feeling it's not going to be an easy conversation.
Pokemon Snap


Bug Catcher
This is set after the battle at the training grounds but before the group heads off to the Obsidian Fieldlands! Writing all the captains playing cards was super fun, it's basically pokemon uno but with type matchups.

Pokemon Snap​

As the sky’s dusty blue wash settles into midnight black, the Galaxy Hall empties of its occupants like Durant scattering from their nests. Craftsmen, medics and pencil pushers alike head out into the humble village, leaving the building’s husk to be haunted by its skeleton crew. Only a few guards remain to protect all the paperwork, while Professor Laventon and the Galaxy Corps’ six captains congregate on the basement floor for their weekly scheduled conference session.

The grinding Klinklang cogs of running a village never cease, and the list of work from the expanding lodging of the Construction Corps to the untilled fields of the Agriculture Corps is a list as endless as winter in the Alabaster Icelands. Certainly, the continued success of Jubilife Village rests on their shoulders. Glancing around at his fellow Captains with shrewd eyes, Colza slaps a card down on the table.

“Two Oddish.”

Sanqua leans over the table with an easy grin and a glint in her eye as she places her own card atop Colza’s.

“Three Vulpix.”

Colza draws a card from the deck at the centre of the table, and nods to Cyllene.

“Five Staryu,” Cyllene lays her card down, and Sanqua draws from the pile. “Tao Hua?”

“Pass,” he stares darkly at his hand, and draws a new card.

“Professor?” Cyllene turns to Laventon, and he startles in his chair.

“Hm- oh, what’s that? Oh, um, Reversal,” he says, and lays down a card.

“Dammit, Angus!” Pesselle huffs. Cyllene glances up at him, unreadable as always.

“You seem distracted, Professor. Is something bothering you?”

“Ah— no, I’m not bothered. I was just thinking about the two new recruits, is all,” he says, and raises his hand of cards just slightly enough to block her piercing stare. It’s been nearly three years since they’ve started working together, and while he’s quite sure she doesn’t detest him, the nuances of her opinions are held as closely guarded as her sword.

“I can assure you the Commander doesn’t hold you responsible for any panic they caused—“

“I thought it was funny,” Zisu adds brightly.

“It’s not that, but thanks for the reassurance,” Laventon grins wearily. “It’s just… there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on. Nobody I’ve since talked to actually knows where they’re from.”

Cynthia and Ms Hiver had already been allowed into the village when he’d met them so someone must have vouched for them, but they hadn’t arrived with any other refugees or travellers that he knows of. It’s just… odd, in a way that feels a little familiar— and while there’s certainly nothing wrong with odd, he’d consider himself a bad scientist if he didn’t find the odd curious.

“So long as their tasks get done, I don’t care what their background is,” Cyllene replies evenly.

“Even if they’re criminals?” Zisu raises an eyebrow at her, leaning back in her chair. The two of them seem to share some kind of unspoken exchange, although Laventon can only guess as to how the ever expressive captain of the Security Corps can be privy to the minutia of Cyllene’s countenance enough to derive a conversation from them.

“Please,” Sanqua gives an amused scoff and waves her empty hand. “They look far too fancy to be a couple of bandits or anything like that. They’re not exactly conspicuous.”

“The blonde one is probably a relative of one of that one merchant from the Gingko Guild,” Tao Hua curls his lip. “He may undercut my work, but if she’s anything like him I don’t think she’d be the sort to get her hands dirty.”

“Now, what’s wrong with that?” Colza grins, raising a lightly soiled hand. Zisu barks out a laugh and Cyllene makes no indication of approval nor disapproval, although Laventon thinks he might have mistaken a twitch for a blink.

“Your dad jokes are the worst, Colza,” Pesselle groans.

“Pesselle, it’s still your turn,” Tao Hua snaps, and she rolls her eyes.

“Seven Charmander,” she says, laying her card down on the steadily growing pile.

“I agree it’s pretty curious,” Colza offers, throwing an arm over the back of his chair. “Miss Whatsit must pull some rank to be educated like Angus and have a Pokemon, and a personal bodyguard, if what you said is true.”

“She used the term ‘Champion’, if I remember correctly,” Cyllene nods.

Oh, maybe she’s some kind of hidden princess, fleeing from her homeland with her champion to escape from assassins,” Pesselle gushes, and Sanqua chuckles.

“And that Froslass of hers possesses the soul of the Queen, right?”

“It’s probably not something so fantastical. But it is possible that they’re political fugitives,” Cyllene considers.

“I thought you didn’t care what their background is?” Zisu elbows her in the ribs, earning herself an unamused stare.

“I don’t. Also, it’s your turn.”

“Three Bellsprout. Grab a card, Pesselle,” Zisu throws down her card. Pesselle pouts but does as told, and they fall back into an easy rhythm. Laventon thumbs his cards, eyeing the nine Wurmple in the centre. They’re wrongly classified as a grass type for the purposes of this game, but his Pokedex will be sure to fix that kind of general misinformation eventually.

“Pokemon Snap, again?”

“Commander!” he yelps, clutching at his woollen vest above his heart. After years of studying Pokemon he’d begun to feel confident in his new sense for being crept up on, but it seems the Commander remains the exception to the rule.

“It’s a team building exercise. It keeps them sharp,” Cyllene states, shuffling her hand with little concern for her superior’s stare.

“Please, we all know you’re here for the gossip,” Zisu taunts, equally nonchalant.

“And what is it you’re gossiping about, then?” Commander Kamado asks, folding his arms.

“Those new Survey Corps recruits. You know— Froslass and Garchomp,” Colza answers.

“Ah. They’re a strange pair, aren’t they?” Kamado leans back and tilts his head upwards in thought. Laventon doesn’t know the Commander well enough to gauge the implications of his tone, but he buries the sound of it in the back of his mind. Nobody here seems as bothered by his stoic presence, but while the captains have all adopted the resident Professor into their ranks he isn’t sure if the Commander shares those sentiments. He’s arguably more indecipherable than Cyllene herself, although so long as he continues to funnel funding into the Survey Corps he supposes that his work on the Pokedex must be of some value to the both of them.

“Angus thinks that one of them is a princess fleeing from assassins,” Pesselle adds.

“That wasn’t— that was you—“ Laventon sputters.

“And her bodyguard is one of the local Gingko Guild merchants,” Colza continues, and lays down his card.

“I didn’t realise the Guild did private mercenary work,” Kamado raises an eyebrow.

“I don’t think they do, sir,” Cyllene replies.

“And it’s not the merchant— she’s his sister, or cousin or something,” Tao Hua adds.

“I think they’re both cute,” Sanqua grins and places her card on the table, forcing Colza to draw another card.

“Of course you do,” Zisu smirks. Cyllene pauses to consider her cards, then shoots Kamado a meaningful stare as she lays down two Horsea.

“Is there anything you need from us, sir?”

“No, no, just checking in,” he shakes his head. Cyllene appears placated by his answer, in that she doesn’t comment on it any further. Kamado nods tightly, glancing around at the Galaxy Team’s shining stars— and the Professor.

“Keep up the good work, everyone.”

“Yes, sir!” They chorus together, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

“Oh, and by the way—“ Kamado hangs in the doorway for a moment, “Tao Hua has the Lonely Cubone.”

“Blast it!”

Tao Hua forfeits from the game with a flurry of cards and a halfhearted tantrum, but the laughter and merriment around the table draws him back into the fray before too long. Even so, Laventon still finds his mind wandering back to the recruits as the game continues.

The fugitive theory certainly is possible, and perhaps even the most likely, but it doesn’t quite scratch the itch at the back of his mind. It’s the itch of a Pokemon he’s sure is categorised in the wrong egg group, or a vague answer about water type biology that only opens up more questions. Though he supposes it isn’t his place to pry; Cyllene is right that it’s not anything that matters so long as they do good work and don’t hurt anyone with their fearsome and hallowed Pokemon.

“Professor?” Cyllene stirs him from his thoughts once more, creases forming on her forehead that might indicate a hint of concern.

“Ah— wild card,” he says quickly, and lays down his second trick card of the night. Pesselle surrenders her hand in a pantomime of Tao Hua.

“Angus, are you serious?”

Nitimur in Vetitum


Bug Catcher
I was originally going to hold off on posting this until wayyy later down the line because I don't want to tip my hand too much about the story elements that Cynthia and Luculia don't yet have access to, but I also understand that Way Out has dramatic irony built into it for anyone who has already played the game. Of course that doesn't mean skipping the work of setting up foreshadowing myself (without giving anything away for the hypothetical reader who doesn't know what's coming), but I think having a chapter of In Too Deep to give readers In The Know some insight into what's going on in Volo's head right now gives the comic an extra kick.
This is intended to be read between chapters 14 and 15 (I'm working on 15 as of writing this) and is honestly a little more pared back than I would have liked, but it got into "stuff that should probably be in the main comic" territory pretty quickly so it was a challenge to achieve the things I wanted to convey while keeping the conversations centred on topics that don't really reveal much more than what we already know. Sorry for the long AN but I had a lot of thoughts haha, and I hope you enjoyed reading!

Nitimur in Vetitum​


As the last lingering rays of sunlight breach the horizon over the Sandgem flats, stretched and gnarling shadows begin to sprawl across the immense Hisuian countryside. Right on cue, the kricketot and kricketune of the valley begin their daily orchestration to signal the eventide’s arrival, and the chipper bidoof playing by the river’s edge retreat to their dams as they hear the heralding song.

Soon the lonely hordes of driftloon will be carried over the hills by the frigid northern winds, but the Galaxy Team’s camp in the Deertrack Heights enjoys enough shelter from Lord Wyrdeer’s peak hanging overhead that they don’t pose much of a threat. Somehow, Volo doubts that the newcomers recognise the significance of their campsite and the safety it provides, but that’s none of his concern; if the Diamond Clan are happy to let them set up shop on the stantler’s breeding grounds, then it must be fine.

As it stands, the camp is charming in its efficient simplicity. A sparse smattering of tents encircle what is effectively now a common area, marked by a couple of stumps and logs and the campfire at its epicentre. The broth for tonight’s dinner bubbles along in the brazier above it, feeding all the worker combee as they come and go— and much like a dutiful Vespiquen, Luculia hovers over it with a keen eye to prevent it from boiling over. Steeped in golden firelight, she almost looks warm.

He watches as she takes the empty seat beside Cynthia, and leans in closer to hear her muffled remark. Whatever it was, it earns her a sharp grin, and a reply he still can’t hear. As sure as he is that their conversation is mundane as any old discussion about the fortuitous weather or the outrageous prices of sitrus berries these days, he can’t help but fall victim to the intrigue that clings to them like a whiff of smoke.

He knows he’s not the only one, too— in the Gingko Guild it pays to always have an ear to the ground, and knowing which settlements need what supplies and who might be looking to buy a gift and what trends are arriving from overseas is just a part of business— and if he happens to pick up on a few stray rumours here or there, then that’s by the by. Yet for all of the various theories about vagabonds and assassins, the one consensus seems to be that nobody really knows who they are, or why they know so much about things they shouldn’t.

A simple, private conversation should not be so vexing. Thankfully, however, the solution to the problem is as simple as pulling up a stump and taking the seat opposite them.

“My compliments to the chef! I haven’t enjoyed a meal like that in a while,” he says, halting Cynthia’s response. Luculia raises an eyebrow.

“Eh, it’s alright,” she says, appraising her bowl with a critical eye. “If I were making it at home I’d usually add more herbs for flavour, but there’s only so much to work with out here.”

Volo leans forward, resting his head on his chin.

“Oh? And where is home for you, if it’s not too forward to ask?”

Luculia’s shoulders tense just a fraction before she answers.

“Ah- I used to live in the Kalos region, but that’s not really- not really home, these days,” she says, cloaked in that wary tone so well worn by the denizens of Jubilife. It’s not the first time he’s heard that answer, and he’s sure it won’t be the last.

“I see. You’ve certainly lost the accent, then.”

“… Yes, I have.”

Cynthia catches her attention with a discreet tug at her sleeve, and he pretends not to notice their silent, cautious exchange. But that isn’t to say he isn’t curious.

“How long have you two known each other, before coming to Hisui?”

Another shared glance.

“Well… we’ve been acquaintances for a long time because we worked in similar fields, and then when we realised we’d both be coming here we decided it’d be best for us to stick together,” Cynthia explains, and Luculia nods.


“It seems to me like that was a smart decision,” Volo smiles reassuringly at them. “Were you hired by the Galaxy Team to study Hisuian history, then?”

“The Galaxy Team isn’t really interested in that kind of research, at least as far as I’m aware. We both decided to come here to pursue our personal studies, but academia alone hardly puts food on the table,” Luculia lifts her empty soup bowl. “Pokemon survey work, on the other hand, apparently does.”

Cynthia shifts uneasily, alone in her reservations.

“What about you, Volo? How did you come to join the Gingko Guild?” she asks, and Volo forces a chuckle.

“Well, you know the story- the pursuit of knowledge isn’t always so reliable when it comes to putting food on the table. A means to an end, if you will. Though if anyone else asks, it’s because of my sincere passion for a good business deal,” he says, raising a finger to his lips.

“Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us,” Cynthia grins. Luculia shakes her head, taking that as her cue to get up and start disassembling the food station.

“The Gingko Guild are all travellers from other regions, right?” she asks, looking back over at him. “Have you been living here long, or-“

“For as long as I can remember,” he smiles. Luculia smiles back with a curt half-grimace and doesn’t press further, opting to let the conversation lapse in favour of focusing on her work of adding the remaining broth to the cake lures for tomorrow.

Cynthia holds her hand out to him, and gestures to his empty bowl.

“I’m on cleanup duty tonight,” she explains with a hesitant grin, and he pulls himself to his feet.

“Surely not all by yourself? I can help with that,” he says, and she’s quick to take him up on his offer.

More logs are thrown onto the fire in a dense stack meant to burn slow but true throughout the night, keeping the campsite warm until the sun rises again in the early hours of the morning. Once the washing up is done, he retreats to his haphazard tent, a beacon of blue and gold in a sea of blank canvas.

Most of the guild prefer to set up shop in the village or the outskirts of the Clans’ settlements, losing out on all the fun of exploring the region and experiencing the new alongside the familiar. They are, if he is so kind, somewhat lazy in that regard. They do, however, provide some interesting insights.

The common conclusion amongst them is that the stranger who shares his face must be his cousin or even his sister, and everybody is comfortable enough in that assumption that nobody has even thought to ask. They’re wrong, of course, but they’re not so far from the truth either.

It’s in her walk; she doesn’t carry herself with the foolhardy bravado of her fellows in the Security Corps nor with the careful steps of her companion, but with an assured confidence that she can only have earned.

It’s in her smile; her grin is carefully constructed to appear placid and agreeable, easygoing and assuring—only escaping her when her passion for pokemon and mythology ignites.

It’s in her eye; when she stares out across the landscape, watching over the region as if it were her domain, it’s her eye that betrays a knowledge far beyond what she has revealed.

She’s family, he knows that much.
Touching Base


Bug Catcher
Catching up in the future! The present? Anyhow, this is my way of letting you know that time is passing post Cynthia and Luculia’s getting sent back in time. How long they will be gone for is for me to know, but this is set pretty soon after they get yoinked by Arceus.
I want to revisit the future again but for the sake of variety it’ll probably be with someone else next time, and of course I’m toying with a few ideas. Anyway I wrote this whole thing wanting to include a bit about the end of season Pokemon League Little League game they all have but in the end it felt a little too facetious :(
No art for this one because I didn’t feel like it.
PS Vinnie is named for a kind of scorpion like arachnid called a Vinegaroon.

Touching Base​

As far as Aaron is concerned, the Pokemon tournament season is the best half of the year. Each region has a slightly different ruleset and structure; the season in Sinnoh doesn’t run quite as long as Hoenn’s, nor is it as competitive as Kanto’s, nor is it as spectacular and widely televised as Galar’s. It is, instead, perfect.

The League opens with limited openings for challengers in the Spring, usually reserved for the winners of the big knockout tourneys to stir up excitement for the upcoming season. Then as Summer arrives, Victory Road welcomes the public with a brutal and demoralising embrace. Anyone who can make it up to the Lily of the Valley Castle with their case of eight gym badges and a renewed sense of humility earns the right to challenge the Elite Four— and succeeding them— the Champion. At least until the third times’ charm wears off.

Some of the best battles of the year come at the peak of midsummer when the exuberant young trainers have truly hit their stride, but by its end the League limits its openings once again to provide an opportunity for the slow but steady travellers their chance to shine through the refuse.

And with the arrival Fall, Cynthia will reap the rewards of her harvest and close up shop for the winter.

At this time of year, Aaron would typically be gearing up for the oncoming Summer influx, taking notes on his performances in the scattered Spring battles and training his Pokemon in accordance. Trainers would start to stream in through Victory Road, and he’d take the time to greet some of them— he might even offer some practice sparring with potential challengers, if he considered the risk of giving away some of his secrets worth the reward of learning theirs.

Instead, he stands out as a lone figure on a desolate practice field, absent of the raucous cheers of young hopefuls and the clangorous cries of clashing Pokemon.

Instead, everything is shut down.

Everything is shut down everywhere.

The calamity began with the disappearance of the Battle Subway Master in Unova, although it had been considered something of a fluke at first. It was certainly a tragedy, but hardly a cause for international alarm. Cynthia’s disappearance came subsequently after, and that sounded the alarm bells from Galar to Kanto. Disappearing trainers and errant professors were one thing, and disappearing battle facility techs were another, but a disappearing Champion made for a disturbing trend. Trainers didn’t just vanish— not trainers like these.

Interpol had quickly discounted the multiversal fluctuations of Ultra Space as the culprit and instead turned their eyes to the shadows, fearing the rise of another organised crime group. The thought of an evolved and refined Team Galactic, Team Rocket, Team Plasma or Team Whatever with the strength necessary to capture two of the world’s best Pokemon trainers was certainly a sobering one, enough so that the resulting decision from the suits behind the curtain was to put a temporary postponement on the tournament season. The Sinnoh League could hardly function without its Champion, and the Battle Subway trains of Unova could not be run with a lonely twin. Moreover, the pertinent question remains; who will be taken next?

Aaron pushes his cowlick back, running his hands through his hair.

“Alright, Vinnie. Let’s try that again,” he instructs, and his Drapion responds with a clipped chirp before burrowing back underground. As he writhes through the earth toxic spikes shoot upwards through the ground, this time piercing the soil far enough to lay a truly noxious trap for any opponent underfoot. Vinnie emerges lackadaisically on the other side of the field, and surveys his work with a satisfied click.

“That was a lot better, but let’s focus on making it a bit cleaner. A fast opponent probably would have been able to dodge you when you came up,” Aaron points out, and Vinnie scuttles back over with a brittle chuff. Aaron leans down to grab a couple of berries from the cooler to give him, which is when he spots Bertha strolling across the gardens over to him. Her cane tamps the earth with a soft thud as she comes to a stand beside him, and she clicks her tongue as she gazes out across the ploughed field.

“I suppose Richter will need to do some terraforming to level the terrain again. And to clear those poison spikes- that’s a clever trick, you know, if you can pull it off properly,” she notes. Aaron scratches the back of his neck with a grimace.

“Yeah, sorry about that- and we’re working on it. Though you know I’d never ask Vinnie to dig underground in a battle against you.”

It was a mistake he’d only ever make once, and Bertha chuckles at the memory.

“Don’t worry yourself about the field, Richter could fix it with his eyes closed. In fact, that might make for some good training,” she grins. Vinnie clicks impatiently when he finishes the last of his Oran berries, and Aaron rolls his eyes and offers him one more. Bertha smiles wanly at the exchange.

“How have you been doing lately, Aaron?”

“Eh- it’s alright, really,” he replies, stretching out his shoulders in a shrug. “I know things are a little up in the air right now, but I still want us to stay at the top of our game, so we’re keeping up with the same training schedule.”

“Don’t push yourself too hard, boy. If you want to stick around as long as I have, you have to learn the importance of endurance.”

Aaron cracks a grin.

“I know. And don’t worry about me- if you’re worried about somebody burning out, look at Flint.”

Bertha shakes her head despite her grin.

“I’ll leave you to it then, but don’t forget what I said,” Bertha says, giving him a soft but sturdy pat on the back. He watches her wander back the way she came, but Vinnie calls his attention with a gentle nudge to his side.

“Okay, back to it then,” he agrees.

There’s no excuse for slacking off. A part of him not only hopes, but knows that one of these days Cynthia is going to pop up again just as instantly as she disappeared, and she’ll smile and ask if he’s ready to take on the next lot of rising stars as if no time had passed at all.

Because he’s not worried for her, not really. Nobody he’s ever faced in battle has ever been able to match her for strength; if they could, the Sinnoh region would have its new Champion by now.

Flint’s theory is that she dropped off of the face of the earth in a top secret undercover operation, outside of even Interpol’s sphere of influence. Aaron isn’t quite sure if he buys that one, but wherever she is she’s probably doing something important. He doesn’t know the details, or how all of the other disappearances tie into it, but he’s sure she’ll be fine.

She has to be fine.
Heavensent New


Bug Catcher
I don't plan on rehashing the early game content from Dawn's perspective all over again in the comic, so here's a little brief on how her arrival went! This was early days when I was still working on her characterisation, but I'm pretty happy with it. I found it really fun to imagine all the mainline story stuff Dawn would have been doing while our Way Out protagonists were running around ignoring the plot haha.



“Are you alive, my girl?”

Dawn opens her eyes, and for a second she thinks she must still be dreaming. The round, curious faces of a cyndaquil, rowlet and oshawott crowd around her, bowling each other over for the chance to sniff her face. Yet the coarse grains of sand that bite into her cheek and cushion her arms are very real, as is the skittering wave that splashes against her leg. Jolted by the shock of cold, she clambers to her feet.

“My, you gave me quite the shock falling from the sky like that! But thank goodness, you seem unharmed,” she hears somebody say, and she looks up to see a short, stout man in a lab coat and a knitted woolly hat sagging with relief.

“I- yeah, I’m- wait, I fell from the sky?” Dawn blinks, and casts her eyes upwards. The sky is clear directly overhead, but in the distance a wild storm localised entirely over Mount Coronet sputters with supernatural lighting.

“Yes, you had me terribly worried— these three runaways led me here, almost as if they knew you’d appear!” The man tells her, keen with intrigue.

“Aw, they’re so cute- oh,” Dawn frowns as the pokemon in question chitter and scatter into the distance.

“Oh, bother, my darling pokemon! Don’t worry, it isn’t your fault,” he assures her with an uneasy grin. “They’re rather flighty, as it were. I’m something of a Pokemon Professor, you see, and I’ve been studying their behaviour for a while— but they’re not very interested in cooperating.”

“They’re probably bored,” she deduces. “I- I mean, I’m no professor or anything- but they must be itching to get outside and play if they’re always trying to get you to chase them instead of doing work.”

“Is that so?” he ponders to himself, and Dawn relaxes at the genuine curiosity in his tone. Another wave rolls in and spreads itself across the sand, depositing a pokeball beside her before withdrawing back to the sea.

“Triton!” she gasps, recognising her best friend’s pokeball even as the sparkly stickers begin to peel away from the metal lid. She scoops him up and peers out at the wide ocean, but there are no other pokeballs to be seen bobbing along in the swell.

“Ah… is that pokeball yours?”

“Yeah, this is my partner Triton. He’s an Empoleon,” she says proudly, swelling with the confidence pooling in the palm of her hand.

“An Empoleon? Outstanding! However could you have— nevermind. Seeing as you’re already familiar with how to use pokeballs, do you think you could help me round up the little runaways? I’d do it myself, but I’m not much good with that sort of thing,” the Professor asks, scratching at his hat.

“Alright, if you’ve got any to spare I’ll help you out,” Dawn replies easily.

Which is how she ends up crouched behind a rock, antique apricorn pokeballs in hand, wondering how exactly she got here. Or at least, how exactly she ended up falling from the sky here.

Yesterday had been a day like any other; she rode her bike to Sandgem town to help Professor Rowan out with some errands, then had lunch at the beach with Barry, Lucas, and all their pokemon, then spent the evening studying back at home. She can’t recall seeing or feeling anything out of the ordinary, all day or even all week. The last thing she remembers is having croquettes for dinner with Mom before going to bed.

Except that isn’t really the last thing she remembers— she remembers having a nightmare. Darkness had crept into the corners of her room and into her consciousness, and her last coherent thought was to grab Triton’s pokeball.

Then she began to fall.

She remembers the encompassing, obsidian abyss stretching as far as the eye could see and as deep as the mind could comprehend. She’d had no idea how long she had been stuck there, falling, but at some point the falling became something more like floating as the absence of ground below or sky above removed all context to the surrounding gravity.

Then there had been a spark of light- lights- strobing stars all orbiting a blinding sun. And then… then she’d woken up on a beach.

She’s pretty sure this is the coastline west of Jubilife where the mouth of the Canala river meets the ocean, only where the surrounding suburbs should be is instead the field of trees and flowers she’s currently standing in. It’s possible she’s mistaken, but she rarely is.

With a practiced swing she throws a pokeball perfectly at the centre of Cyndaquil’s head, and the ball hums as the pokemon settles inside.

There is perhaps one pokemon she knows that could be tied to all of this, the one that rules over the domain of nightmares— but Darkrai couldn’t be responsible for something like this, could it? Maybe there’s a reason for it. There must be something she’s missing.

Taking cover behind a tree, she swings a pokeball in an underarm throw towards the oshawott distracted by its own reflection, and walks over to retrieve the ball before it even clicks shut.

Regardless of whatever put her here and why, she’s not in any immediate danger and that has to count for something. If Darkrai wanted to harm her, it wouldn’t have stuck her on a tiny beach with a well-meaning if seemingly inexperienced Pokemon Professor.

Rowlet sees the pokeball coming its way before it reaches its target, having twisted its head behind its back in that uncanny way their species are known for. It hops neatly out of the ball’s trajectory, then hoots at her. If that’s how it’s going to be, fine. Dawn releases Triton from his pokeball, and he stares down at the little bird who wisely scoots over to the apricorn pokeball to let itself in.

Triton waddles over to her and trumpets a relieved greeting, and she gives him a hug in return. She feels like she’s missing a piece of herself without her whole team by her side, but Triton’s presence is enough to ease the worst of it.

“Absolutely incredible! You don’t seem scared of pokemon at all,” the Professor says, ambling over to her to take his pokemon back.

“Why would I be?” Dawn asks, confusion and amusement slipping into her voice all at once.

“Well, they certainly can be dangerous,” he replies, though it sounds more like lip service than genuine concern. “I’m studying them to prove that that’s not all they are, though. I’m even putting together a research catalogue of them, called a Pokedex. But… in order to properly document pokemon, one must, of course, catch them.”

His passion is clear in his voice, which is the only thing curbing her annoyance at his needless explanation. She nods simply to keep him talking in the hope that he’ll stop stating the obvious soon and get to the point.

“And therein lies the rub, I’m afraid. Pokeballs have only just been invented, and not many have mastered the skill of using them.”

Dawn’s train of thought shudders to a halt.

Pokeballs had only just been invented? Perhaps the better question isn’t why she’d fallen from the sky but when.

“Enter you— a person with a clear talent for handling Pokemon! One can’t help but think there’s a reason you appeared here and now.”

“I think that’s-“ she starts, but she doesn’t know how to finish. The Professor goes quiet for a moment, realising she needs time to collect her thoughts, but they don’t come to her.

“If you’re willing to help me complete the Pokedex, I can help get you sorted with some lodgings in Jubilife Village. We’ll get you a meal, and some proper clothes too,” he says, gentle now, and Dawn tugs at the fraying threads of her pyjama top. That would probably be a good start, and it’s comforting to know that Jubilife City still exists, at least in some capacity.

“Oh- that sounds good. I, uh, don’t know if I have anywhere to stay right now,” she replies. If the outskirts of Jubilife City haven’t been built yet, she’s not about to bet on little old Twinleaf town being around either.

Her home hasn’t been built yet.

“You’ll have to join the Galaxy Team’s Survey Corps, but you’ll mainly be working under me so it’ll only be Captain Cyllene we need to convince, and I’m sure she’ll see your potential straight away!”

Hold on—

Galaxy Team?

The Galaxy Expedition Team is not, in fact, a proto Team Galactic running an undercover operation to summon gods and make red chains or anything of the sort. Even though Captain Cyllene had looked uncomfortably similar to a certain blue-haired cosmonaut, Commander Kamado’s resemblance to Professor Rowan did put her slightly at ease. Although Professor Rowan had never tried to sumo throw her, she’s at least used to the dry, cranky old-man humour that apparently runs in the family.

His warning about the superstitious hasn’t left her mind, however.

Somewhere along the way she picks up the moniker ‘Skyfaller’, and she’s not sure how to feel about that. It’s impressive, in a way, to already have a reputation that precedes her— but it’s also the kind of reputation that establishes her as the outsider. In this ramshackle multicultural melting pot of people from all over the world seeking a new start, she’s the one who doesn’t fit in. She may as well be from another world to them, and as far as they’re concerned, she is.

Rei, at least, doesn’t seem to care. If he does it’s because he thinks it makes her mysterious and cool, and she’ll take that. He reminds her so much of Lucas in that way, but he’s different in so many others. She likes to imagine that he’s Lucas’ rambunctious, go-getter twin who she’s only meeting now because they have to swap places in part of some elaborate scheme to fool their parents, only until she remembers Lucas isn’t really here and Rei only exists in this version of the past.

It’s a difficult thing to wrap her head around.

Still, she’s grateful to have a friend here, and working with him and Professor Laventon makes it a little easier to ignore her inevitable cosmic destiny, whatever that may be. Although while she respects Laventon as a person, it’s a little hard to respect him as a Professor. It’s not his fault that she’s already learned the fundamentals of pokemon biology that he’s painstakingly working to establish in the first place, although he does understand the science behind Pokemon abilities in a way she can’t wrap her head around. Yet whenever he gets bitten by Rowlet or splashed by Oshawott for ignoring the body language that young children are taught to pay attention to, she remembers just how far ahead the future really is.

The only other person in Jubilife who appears comfortable with Pokemon is the merchant Volo, who… well, he reminds her of someone else she knows who’s a cut above the rest when it comes to Pokemon, so in some ways that isn’t surprising at all.

Dawn had ended up taking the cyndaquil off Laventon’s hands under the pretence of collecting pokedex data for him, but in all honesty she’d just thought this little guy was the most likely to cause the most destruction in his care. She’d named him Dante.

Building a new Pokemon team out here in Hisui is inevitable. The natural terrain can be difficult to traverse without help, and the wild Pokemon are generally more aggressive due to both being unaccustomed to humans, and the appearance of the space-time rift. It’s how she reconciles the hollow feeling that she’s replacing some of her best friends, because she should be flying around on Aquila, her Altaria, or warding off irascible driftloon with Pixie, her Clefable, but they aren’t here right now.

However, she can’t deny the excitement that comes with working with new Pokemon, and the fulfilment of seeing them flourish beside her.

The Obsidian Fieldlands is so different to the southwestern valleys of the Sinnoh that she knows, but it’s filled with most of the same Pokemon, all raring to battle.


Dawn pulls herself from her thoughts at the sight of Rei waving to catch her attention, clumsily scaling the craggy hillside.

“Hey Rei. Everything alright?” She asks, extending her arm to give him a hand up. While it isn’t unusual for him to seek her out, he usually leaves her to her own devices when she’s out in the field, both because he can’t keep up with Lord Wyrdeer and because he isn’t interested in following her headfirst into Pokemon swarm battles. He doesn’t seem too distressed though, albeit a bit flustered, so there’s probably no emergency.

“A couple of us have been looking for you. You sure leave no stone unturned, huh?” he says as he straightens up.

“Of course not. There might be a geodude under there,” Dawn winks. “What’s up?”

“Clouds,” Rei answers as always, and Dawn rolls her eyes.

“Ha. I mean, is there something I can help with?”

“They need us down at the Heartwood— and by us I mean you. Everyone is kind of at their wit’s end about this frenzied Noble Pokemon, so Laventon thinks you should go talk to Irida and the Warden. He’s out working with a couple of new recruits so he’ll catch up later, but if there’s anyone who can sort this out, it’s you!”

Some things change, but some things will always stay the same.

“Alright. Let’s get going, then!”
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Rule of Threes New


Bug Catcher
The Intermissions are the nebulous period between expeditions where I do a bit of housekeeping while trying to move the plot forward, and they're a good opportunity for turning to In Too Deep to expand on certain things.
In this chapter, Juno gets a starter Pokemon! I figured if Ronin shows up in the comic, I'm probably not going to spend too much time explaining *why* Juno has a starter now, because it just kind of makes sense that they'd want to join the fun. But the scene gets to exist in full here, which is also a fun way of exploring their changing attitude too.

Rule of Threes​

Jubilife Village has changed since the Galaxy Team’s last expedition into the Obsidian Fieldlands. It’s only in small ways; the Construction Corps has moved their scaffolding from one structure to the next, the Agriculture Corps has tilled new fields in preparation for planting summer crops, and the wares in the shops have cycled out with the arrival of new stock from overseas. The shops also stay open later now as the days get warmer and longer, and the harsh sun causes the flowers on the sidewalk to wilt.

Most of these changes can be chalked up to the ending of the spring season, but there are a few other things that are just a little out of place. Namely the trio of bidoof that follow Sanqua around like little ducklett, the wurmple that clings to Beauregard’s side like a binacle, the geodude that helps Colza plough the new field by pulling itself head-first (body-first?) through the ground, and the Mr Mime silently guarding the town’s eastern gate beside Andra.

Six new residents in the village is not an astronomical number, but it’s six more pokemon residents than the village has ever had before. Unlike the two creatures sequestered away in Professor Laventon’s lab or those barricaded by pasture fences, these ones wander around in the broad daylight as if they have just as much a right to be here as anyone else, and for the most part it is… tolerated, if not completely accepted.

Juno is not scared of pokemon. They have a healthy respect for them, which is an entirely different thing. That being said, they certainly understand the fears some of the villagers have expressed in allowing the creatures— small as some of them may be— inside the walls meant to keep danger out. Perhaps a month or two ago, Juno would have agreed with them.

Since then, however, they’ve met a handful of strange people and their strange pokemon, and they’ve seen unbelievable things. They’ve seen Cynthia ride on a frenzied Rapidash and Luculia flying on the back of a Garchomp, surely both to their own deaths, only to walk back into camp later that evening mussed but nevertheless in good health. They’ve seen Rei evolve a starly into a staravia far quicker than anyone in the Security Corps has ever been able to. They’ve seen Dawn fell a Noble .

Everything that had ever seemed impossible before is now an open question; what more can be achieved with the power of Pokemon?

The Diamond and Pearl Clans of this land have proven that cohabitation is possible, and now the acquaintances Juno has made have proven that friendship is possible— that even though chatot are capable of deafening a person with their screeches, Viola wouldn’t, or that even if an Empoleon could wipe out an encampment with a single tidal wave, Triton would move to stand in its way. They certainly can’t imagine Tama the togepi being capable let alone willing to hurt anyone.

So maybe some pokemon aren’t so bad, if they know them personally. There’s a lot that could be said about humans as a whole, but they wouldn’t want to be judged by that same misanthropic measure.

And they all seem so happy— playing, working, training, fighting— winning together. Juno sighs at the thought. A sudden shadow casts itself over them, blocking the gentle warmth of the sun and forcing their eyes open again.

“Say, my friend. What has you looking so downcast on a beautiful day like this?” Professor Laventon asks, and Juno glances up at him from their seat on the grass. Even on a warm day like this, he’s still wearing his long sleeved lab coat and silly woollen hat; at least some things remain constant.

“Oh, uh, it’s nothing really,” Juno replies. “I mean, Rei and Dawn are out training with their pokemon now, so I’m just… hanging here by myself.”

They hope it doesn’t sound as pitiful to the Professor as it does to their own ears. Professor Laventon only grins.

“Juno, if you’d like to join them I’m sure they would be happy to-“

“I don’t think- it’s not-“ Juno starts, quick to cut him off but unsure of what to say. Sure, pokemon can be friendly, but sharing a meal together and training together are two different beasts.

“You know the Security Corps don’t get to start training any pokemon until we’re at least Senior rank, right?” they say instead. Professor Laventon crosses his arms in thought.

“Ah, I forgot about that little rule,” he says. “Still, I’m sure Captain Zisu won’t mind so long as it’s under Captain Cyllene’s supervision. Our Survey Corps are meant to help the Security Corps understand how to handle pokemon, so it might be a good exercise to see if training can’t be started earlier,” he suggests brightly. Juno tries to imagine their peers in the Corps training with a shinx or buizel, and winces at the mental image.

“Besides,” Laventon continues, “I can think of a couple of new recruits who have shaken up the rules a little bit already.”

Juno’s mouth teeters between a grin and a grimace. They hadn’t been there for the early morning test match between Captain Zisu and Luculia— and then Cynthia— but they’d heard all the different versions of it from the Sec Corps kids who had been there. Luculia had managed to beat Zisu’s Ambipom with her Froslass, something nobody had ever accomplished before on their first try. And Cynthia hadn’t even needed to fight, because she’d had to recall the Garchomp she’d summoned for the match on the Commander’s own orders.

Juno would consider their life successful if they could be even half as cool as that one day.

“You’re not wrong. Those ladies are crazy,” they say, finally landing on a grin. Professor Laventon indulges in a chuckle.

“If you’re not doing anything right now, how about you come along with me to the Galaxy Building?” he suggests.

“Alright, I have nothing better to do- but it’s still my day off, alright?”

Professor Laventon’s office appears as though it had been paid a visit by a very irate Tauros. Bookshelves that had once lined the walls lie prostrate on the ground, scattering thick volumes of encyclopaedias across the floor. The blackboard has come off its hinges to lean drunkenly against the wall, and the shredded curtains hang lifelessly over fractured windows, which have only by some miracle escaped complete shattering. The floor rug is— for some reason— soaked with water, and carpeted on top of that is a thick layer of leaves and debris.

In opposite corners of the room, a rowlet and an oshawott stare at the Professor with bright, innocent eyes. He sighs and mutters something in Galarian under his breath.

“Blast it. Captain Cyllene had warned me that they’ve been getting a bit rowdy since our expedition,” he says, and sets about righting a bookshelf. Juno joins him, grabbing the other side of the wooden skeleton as they leverage it upright.

“I expect it’s because since Dawn took little Cyndaquil with her to train, there’s no-one to temper Rowlet’s more mischievous side. And when Oshawott retaliates, well, you get the idea,” he continues, gesturing around. It’s a shocking reminder of how much damage even the little ones can do. Rowlet is barely bigger than a football, and the power of its wings is enough to turn a room upside down.

“Don’t look so worried- there’s nothing I leave here that can’t be replaced. I learned my lesson there after dear Cyndaquil- well, I’m sure you can guess what happened there.”

“That’s not really what- nevermind,” Juno grimaces.

“Hey Professor, Rei and I just finished training and I was wondering- oh, hey Juno! What are you doing here?” Dawn asks, striding through the doorway without a second glance at the chaos surrounding her. Rei follows behind her and gives the room a once over with a low whistle, but is otherwise equally unconcerned.

“Well you see, Juno here has expressed interest in receiving a partner pokemon of their own!”

“Hey- hey, now- I didn’t say anything like that!” Juno squawks. Rei rests a hand on their shoulder, and they lower their arms just a fraction.

“I think that’s a great idea, Juno! Dawn and I can help you get started out, and-“

“You just want to train against somebody you actually have a chance of beating,” Dawn grins, and now it’s Rei’s turn to start squawking.


Juno shrugs his hand off their shoulder and turns around to put their hands on their hips.

“W-well, how do you know I won’t win? I’m sure it can’t be that hard,” Juno says, frowning at the both of them. They had watched enough of their training sessions to get the gist of battling at least, and it’s easy to see why Dawn is the more skilled between them; she reacts faster, gives orders confidently and decisively, and always seems to have an answer for any attack Rei throws at her. Juno is sure that they’d be able to do the same, if they really tried.

“That’s the spirit!” Dawn cheers. Professor Laventon laughs to himself, catching their attention.

“You know, Oshawott here is a water type. Against Dawn’s Cyndaquil, you’d have the upper hand,” he says, nodding over at Oshawott. It barks in agreement, splashing water out of the side of its pen as it swims up to the edge beside them. Juno freezes, watching it carefully.

It sprays a spitful of water into their face.

“Hey!” They shout and wipe their cheek dry with their sleeve, though Oshawott doesn’t appear very contrite, only making a chittering noise that sounds something like laughter. What sounds a lot more like laughter is the actual laughter coming from Dawn and Rei, and they turn to glare at them both.

“He has a bit of a rebellious spirit, I’m afraid, but he’s got a good nature, truly!” Professor Laventon scratches his beard. “You know, it would be doing me a favour if you were to record notes on Oshawott out in the field. I fear he isn’t quite getting the enrichment he needs here in this lab, and Dawn’s notes on Cyndaquil so far have been invaluable.”

Oshawott grins, flashing its fangs. Juno had seen Dawn battle with her Cyndaquil, and it’s harder now to imagine standing before her with only this oshawott between themself and a hurtling ball of fire. If they ordered it to counter the attack and it didn’t obey, what might happen then?

“I don’t know about- I don’t think I should be the one to do this,” they say, taking a step backwards towards the door. “You should just ask Dawn to-“

“Juno,” Dawn halts them with a gentle touch to their arm, smiling patiently as if they were a startled pichu.

“I know that starting out with your first Pokemon can be scary— I know it was when I first met Triton as a little piplup. It takes time to build up the trust you need for a partnership to really work, and there’ll probably be times where you get things wrong,” she says, and from the way her grin seeps into her voice they can tell she’s speaking from experience.

She moves around them and reaches out to Oshawott, who doesn’t hesitate to jump into her arms. She holds it close to her chest, and it doesn’t make a single move to bite or claw at her.

“But getting past those obstacles will only make your bond grow stronger, until there’s nothing you can’t overcome together. And don’t forget, we’re here to help you too!”

Dawn holds Oshawott out towards them, and they take it from her with a hand under each of its little arms. Its cheeks swell, and Juno closes their eyes and braces for the spray of water, only for a single bubble to pop against their nose. Oshawott chitters again, its webbed feet running laps in the air. Juno grins.

“Alright, maybe- maybe we can do this. Just so long as you don’t get me into any trouble,” they warn, and Oshawott wriggles in their arms.

“Are you going to give him a nickname?” Dawn grins.

“Oh- do you think I should?” Juno asks. Cynthia, Luculia and even Volo’s pokemon all had their own unique names, yet it had hardly occurred to them that they’d been named.

“I think it’s a bit confusing,” Rei frowns. “How are you supposed to keep track of all the different kinds of pokemon if they all have different names?”

“Names are important! Each pokemon is their own person too, you know, and everyone deserves a name. There are lots of cyndaquils like Dante, but there’s only one Dante!” Dawn retorts. As if summoned by the sound of his name, Dante releases himself from his own pokeball— which is a daunting prospect, yet hardly as intimidating as it should be as Dante squeals and wiggles cheerfully at them. Oshawott waves back with its scallop.

Juno considers, for a moment, all the names they’d tried on that hadn’t fit right; names that they’d loved but belonged to somebody else. They know that oshawotts are supposed to evolve into stalwart blue beasts called Samurott— but much like people, pokemon are good at defying expectations, and there’s no telling what this oshawott will become. Names can be powerful, Juno knows, but they don’t have to be permanent either.

“How do you like the name Ronin?” Juno asks, and Oshawott— Ronin— nods in approval.

It feels like a sacred moment, with Dawn, Rei and Professor Laventon all keeping their distance but watching with encouraging smiles. And it’s exciting; maybe now they’ll get to join the ranks of the strange but nevertheless impressive weirdos and their pokemon.

A soft hoot interrupts the reverential scene, and they look over to the gnarled potted tree in the corner of the room. Rowlet’s body is perched on it facing towards them, but its head is twisted behind itself to face the wall.

Dawn coos, while Rei snorts warmly and turns to the professor.

“Professor, do you think that I…?”

Professor Laventon looks to Rei, then to Rowlet, and his eyes flash with understanding.

“Ah- yes, of course, my boy- by all means!”

Rei approaches the dormant tree and the sulking rowlet with a gentle, fatherly grin far beyond his years.

“Would you like to come with me, Rowlet?” he asks, and Rowlet’s head spins around as it leaps onto Rei’s shoulder with a single hoot .

“So, Rei. What are you going to name him?” Dawn asks, grinning widely as she pops up behind him. Rei’s nose scrunches in thought.



“I don’t do well under pressure!”

“We can tell,” Juno snickers. Leif simply fluffs up his feathers and hoots. Dante trills down from the floor in response, followed by Ronin making a quiet chuffing noise. It would be funny to think that they’re all having some kind of conversation, as they quibble discordantly at each other. Rei and Dawn seem equally amused, content to let the small pokemon crow and play for the rest of the afternoon.

And when Ronin scuttles back towards them to be let inside his pokeball as the sky shifts to lilac hues, Juno considers that maybe they could actually be kind of good at this.

Cognate New


Bug Catcher
With the little tidbit about Luculia's family in Chapter 19 as an excuse, I wanted to do a bit more of a deep dive into Luculia's family history. This might be a surprise if you don't follow me on tumblr but when I designed Luculia I decided to just lean in to the resemblance to Malva which led to some fun family history building.
There's a bit of a story within a story in this chapter which made it really fun to write- there's a *lot* that is left unsaid even in this kind of overview of everything, but I hope the pieces all fit together in an interesting way that you can figure out a lot of it on your own.
Anyway! Enjoy some Luculia lore, this cynical repressed nerd is very dear to me


It’s a beautiful day for a wedding. Wild fletchling and pidgey sing in the softly swaying trees, and vivillon of all different patterns flutter astride the breeze, gossamer wings glittering in the sunlight. The air is fresh with the sweet scent of orchids and tulips tended to by flabébé and floette, and somebody’s sunflora stands ready to cast Sunny Day at the sight of any grisly clouds.

The bride and groom must be very pleased, whoever they are. Luculia is five, and she doesn’t know any of these people; from the knees down, every crowd of strangers looks the same.

Most of these people are probably her relatives, but none of them are her family— half of whom are already missing, having made their hasty exit to play in the park across the street before she could ask to join them. It doesn’t bother her, though. Her siblings would only complain about having to supervise her on the playground, and they never help her reach the rungs on the mankey bars so it’s never very fun. Big kids are boring.

Unfortunately, adults are worse, and it’s boring here too.

Luculia wanders through the house towards the epicentre of eggshell and crème chaos in search of her mother, sure to find her in the midst of it all. She might not be aware of how bored she is right now, so she has to let her know— just in case. However, before she can venture into the kitchen, a clammy hand grips her arm and yanks her to a stop.

“Hey, Lucie! They have a Gameblock downstairs, and Maman said I could play on it if I let you play with me.”

Malva is six, and she always knows what she wants. As such, there’s no use fighting the pull of her determination as she drags her away into the unknown.

Luculia has visited this manor enough times to at least know where she’s allowed, but not enough to have explored where she isn’t, and the entrance to the staircase that leads down to the elusive basement floor is truly alluring.

“What games do they have?” she asks as she’s hauled down each step.

“We’re playing Spacewars. I’m going to be the red team, because the red team is the coolest,” Malva says.

“That’s okay. I like blue better,” Luculia replies. Malva halts their march, and turns to her with a bewildered frown.

“Well- well, actually, I’m going to play the blue team, you be red.”

“Okay,” Luculia grins.

Malva is her only cousin on her mother’s side, and the only family member she has that’s close to her own age. They haven’t met that many times, given that Luculia spends half of her time in Sinnoh with her father and Malva’s mother is always busy, but somehow Malva is always able to pick up from where they left off. Malva doesn’t have any siblings to Luculia’s three, and so she probably doesn’t have anyone else to play with most of the time.

Luculia hopes they don’t ever spend too much time together, so that Malva won’t get bored of playing with her too.


It’s a beautiful, if a little inappropriate, day for a funeral. The finely landscaped grounds of the cemetery glow a healthy green, with sprawling hedges and manicured gardens that shield the eye from the masses of graves behind them. A small river wraps around the back of the estate, with an overgrown willow tree hunching over it to provide shade and shelter for the pokemon who have chosen this resting place as their home.

With their grandfather’s ceremony over, Luculia and Malva sought their escape from the banality of the adults’ commiseration, and naturally had been drawn to the verdurous oasis. Malva’s mother’s torkoal Alcea watches over them patiently as she bathes in the sunlight, content to let them frolic in their black dresses like a pair of shuppet.

Luculia wades through the water, Malva mirroring her steps from the riverbank. The water is cold as it courses around her ankles, but pleasant underneath as her toes dig into the pebbles underfoot. A school of wooper float downstream, and they tickle her legs as they pass by with wide smiles.

Luculia is eight, and it’s the first time she’s been to a funeral. She had expected it to be boring; these are the kinds of things families do out of obligation, not because they’re fun, but she hadn’t expected it to go on for so long. Perhaps sucking the life out of everyone in the room is the point of these things.

“I hope we get to go home soon. I don’t know what’s taking so long— it’s not like if they wait around long enough he’ll wake up and climb out of the coffin,” Malva says, padding around barefoot on the grass. Luculia shrugs.

“They’re still mourning, I guess. I mean, it’s sad, isn’t it?”

“Not really. I didn’t see anyone crying,” Malva points out. “You weren’t crying.”

“No, but-“

“See? I don’t even think anyone actually liked him.”

Luculia kicks the water halfheartedly, stirring the silt into a murky cloud.

“He was always really grumpy. And he said mean things about your mom all the time,” she says.

Malva scowls. The water craters as she jumps in with both feet, soaking the front of Luculia’s dress.


“Well, it’s alright, now,” Malva carries on, ignoring her shriek. “Yveltal knows when it’s the right time to take people, which means his death was supposed to happen. It’s a good thing.”

“I don’t want Yveltal to take me,” Luculia frowns with as much solemnity an eight year old can muster.

“It’s okay. Maman told me Yveltal doesn’t take kids.”

“Kids can still die, Mal.”

“Yeah, but it’s always because of accidents, not Yveltal taking them- which is why it’s bad when they do.”

Luculia frowns dubiously. Malva is nine, and she’s convinced she knows everything.

It’s unlike either of them to linger on such morbid subjects for very long, though, not when an abundance of life surrounds them. Luculia resumes her wading, and this time Malva joins her, keeping an eye out for any hidden, glittering treasures, and their conversation drifts to the curiosity of amphibious pokemon. Scarcely another ten minutes go by before their mothers find them playing leap-froakie in the water, ignorant to the flock of Gastly bobbing along behind them.


It’s Spring again, and on vivacious days like these emotions are always more emphatic than usual, for better or worse. Malva hangs in the doorway with an inscrutable stare, watching the squabble taking place in the living room. The two perpetrators have made a piecemeal attempt to keep their inevitable argument away from prying eyes, but she’d always had a knack for showing up where she isn’t wanted.

“We’ve had this planned for months but no, you decided on a whim that you wanted to do it this way-“

“Nobody ever wanted to do it your way, you just kept railroading everyone who suggested anything else!”

“So you decided to just do this behind my back?”

Malva’s eyes follow the verbal volley between the identical twins in obverse bridesmaid gowns, and then they roll to the back of her skull. It’s some inane shit as usual.

Just as she’s wondering what trick the circus clowns will perform next, the ringmaster appears in the form of a precocious little girl with a face full of stone cold loathing.

“Are you two really pulling this shit now? This is Louis’ wedding, Zygarde fucking forbid you get over yourselves on the one day it’s not all about you,” Luculia hisses, trying with moderate success to keep her voice down.

“Well she’s the one who had to-“

“Nobody gives a shit! Pick up this argument after the ceremony if you want, but until then just- stay on opposite sides of the house and don’t talk to each other, if that’s what it’ll take. Alright?”

Her tone is stern and resolute, and her sisters know they may as well be trying to fence with a Bisharp. They follow her instructions with bitter begrudgement, clinging to their last shreds of sensibility. Lydia leaves through the west hallway, and Leanne roughly shoves against Malva’s shoulder as she takes the opposite exit. Malva rolls with the swing with a widening smirk.

Luculia stands in the wake of it all, a volatile storm of barely restrained emotion rolling across her face. Then, swallowing down a tantrum of her own, she lifts her head and departs as gracefully as any jaded teenager can.

Malva follows her out at a leisurely pace, and spares her a short moment to stew alone before she joins her. Out on the front patio there is nobody else to be found but the frosty ball of fury curled up on the stone steps, and Malva smooths her shirt out as she takes the seat beside her.

“Your sisters are pathetic,” she says plainly.

“I shouldn’t be the one who has to deal with their shit all the time!” is the reply, carefully curtailed in a furious whisper. Luculia is fourteen, and typically the only adult in the room.

“No,” Malva agrees. “Where even is your mom?”

“Take a guess,” Luculia replies evenly, giving her a look that’s far more cynical than her rounded baby face should be capable of.

“Aha. Wine bar,” Malva nods. Luculia doesn’t respond.

The ensuing silence congeals between them, neither of them deft or eloquent enough to cut through it. But Malva is fifteen, and if there’s one thing she is skilled at, it’s teenage rebellion.

“You know, we could sneak over there ourselves. Nobody’s going to notice- or even really care.”

Luculia shrugs pitifully.

“I don’t want to get drunk in front of Anastasia on her big day.”

“I can’t believe you have a crush on your sister in law,” Malva snorts.

Shut up! And they haven’t done the vows yet, so technically-“

“You’re so sad,” Malva laughs, and Luculia’s comically juvenile scowl is a refreshing sight. “Come on, let’s steal a drink.”


Winters in Kalos never get quite so cold as the ones in Sinnoh, but today is starkly bitter in a way that Luculia has never known. The cutting chill crystallises as fractals of ice that cling to the headstone despite the bouquet of candles surrounding it, with the lonely purple wisp of a stray litwick buried within the cluster of gold. The sodden ground is littered with mallows, a tribute to the body buried underneath.

Mauve Hiver

Would she have been happy to be buried beside her father, surname restored, as if her spindly little branch had never been abscised from the family tree? Luculia tries to avoid thinking about it.

Scarlet Hiver is carrying on and making the whole affair about herself, as she is always wont to do, but Luculia cannot begrudge her mother for how she chooses to cope on the day of her sister’s funeral.

On more than one occasion she’d wondered if her aunt was her real mother. On more than one occasion, she’d wished that her aunt was her real mother. But her mother is still here, and her aunt is not.

Luculia is eighteen, and she finally understands what grief is.

Malva is nineteen, and her mother is dead.

Luculia leans back against the temple wall, doing her best to keep away from the mourning crowd that accost her cousin like a swarm of Beedrill, lest she become just another locust. She is not, however, alone.

Lysandre Fleur de Lis is a tall, broad shouldered man with a presence that demands attention, despite his best efforts to avoid it. Side by side, they make for an interesting corsage of wallflowers.

“You’re Malva’s cousin, Luculia, correct?” he states rather than asks, in a brittle attempt at conversation.

“That’s right,” Luculia replies, disinterested in entertaining such small talk at the best of times.

“I’m sorry that we had to have met under these circumstances. Malva has told me a lot about you.”

Malva hadn’t told her anything about him, but it would be rude to say as much. Instead, she offers a vague hum of acknowledgement. He mistakes it for a noise of anguish.

“Yveltal sometimes takes that which we are not yet ready to release. But ultimately she brings an end to people’s suffering, and thus offers peace from the calamity of life. She’s more merciful than Xerneas in that regard, I believe,” he offers magnanimously. Luculia nods, unsure of how she could possibly respond to that.

Malva sneaks over to join them during the officiator’s address, eager to escape the onslaught of condolences. Luculia doesn’t think she could offer her own even if she wanted to, given the way her throat has been refusing to cooperate the whole day. The silence that hangs over them is thick and cloying, but it’s still preferable to superfluous words— or philosophical sermons. Arceus above, she hopes Lysandre doesn’t say anything else.


The picturesque Cyllage coast is a popular destination for weddings. Although it is far from the Hiver family’s usual seat of ceremony, it’s a temperate and tourist-friendly compromise for the groom’s family, who’ve had to travel all the way from Paldea. And the bride’s father who has travelled in from Sinnoh, but that’s the least of anyone’s concerns.

The sapphire sea and alabaster sand paints a beautiful picture, but Luculia has always been sensitive to excessive sunlight, so she’s stuck huddled in the shade of a white umbrella for the entirety of the event. There’s also a crisp wind, which would be negligible in the face of the sun’s warmth, but it pricks at her skin like one of Scilla’s moves.

Every now and then the egg in her lap quivers, and she runs her palm over it to provide some extra warmth. It’s supposed to hatch into a chatot, and she’s been told it’s good for them to learn the sounds of people’s voices before they even hatch, so she’s taken to carrying it around whenever she goes out.

The white plastic chair beside her creaks as Malva sits down, groaning with antipathy.

“Why anyone would marry into this I’ll never know,” she states, and takes a deep sip of her pinot noir. Luculia eyes her warily.

“Is that safe with your new script?”

“It’s fine.”

Malva sets down the now empty glass perilously in the sand, and digs herself deeper into the chair.

“So Leanne really isn’t coming. I guess that’s it, then,” she says. Luculia responds with a monotone hum, but the bones in her hands arch against her skin with a tension that threatens to crack the eggshell underneath.

The matter of invitations had been an ordeal with no small amount of cajoling from their mother, and Luculia had done her best to avoid getting involved. Ultimately, Lydia sent an invitation to her sister, and Leanne hadn’t replied.

Her absence is felt largely in the lack of any riotous arguments or scathing jabs whispered to the new family, so it’s probably for the best. And it’s probably for the best that the new family doesn’t even know the bride has a twin at all. Luculia is twenty one, and she’s down to just two siblings now.

“She was always my least favourite cousin,” Malva shares conspiratorially.

“I don’t think she was ever a fan of you either,” Luculia grins. “Though I suppose you have plenty of your own, these days,” she adds thoughtfully.

“Yeah. I don’t know why everyone’s so interested in gym integrity reports, though.”

“It’s because you’re blitzing through the challenges like they’re nothing. It took me ages just to get my first badge in Snowpoint, and you’re at what, five? Six? And they’re all just as footnotes to your exposé!” Luculia laughs.

“Maybe Kalos just isn’t that tough compared to Sinnoh,” Malva shrugs.

“You can say I’m bad at battling, it’s okay.”

“You’re not really as bad as you think. You just have some glaring weaknesses,” Malva taunts her, poking her side for good measure.

“Yeah, yeah,” Luculia snorts. The egg on her lap bounces, as if protesting to her self-depreciation, and so she grins in spite of it.

“Do you think you’ll be able to pull it off? Mega Evolution?” she asks.

“We’re going to try our best,” Malva answers, the fire dancing in her eyes again for what might be the first time in years. Luculia’s smile thins with dry amusement.

“I think you’ll manage.”

Malva is twenty two, and at the rate she’s going she could end up challenging the Champion before she’s twenty three.


The death of a Matriarch is a momentous affair, calling even the most deciduous of relatives out of hiding to witness the fallout. It’s the end of an epoch, a glorious and forsaken winter defined by tithes and heraldry and arrangements. Luculia is twenty four, and she feels a weight lift off her chest.

She is far from alone in that regard; nobody here has come to mourn. With the blood still fresh in the water, Sharpedo circle around the carcass. The casket is black and domineering, taking up more room than it deserves just as the body inside had always demanded. A trite violin track plays through the speakers, adding to the revolting sanctimoniousness of the scene.

Malva slinks into the room and stays quiet until the last of their great aunts and uncles, second cousins, in-laws and their children leave the room, leaving the three of them alone.

“The champagne is a bit of a faux pas, don’t you think?” Malva leans over and smirks, taking a sip from her flute. The Veuve Clicquot had been sitting as an ornament on top of Grandmother’s terminally out-of-tune baby grand for as long as both of them can remember.

“I don’t know, a wake is considered a celebration, technically,” Luculia replies.

“I haven’t seen your mom around,” Malva says casually, although her raised eyebrow is anything but.

“She’s out in the garden with Serena, avoiding all the Mandibuzz. She has a terrible hangover, you see.”

“Washing down all the grief, I’m sure.”

“That’s one way of putting it,” Luculia mutters into her own champagne flute. “I can’t imagine you’d be here if it weren’t for the-“

“Don’t bring up inheritances at a funeral, Lucie. It’s considered rude,” Malva cuts her off. Luculia rolls her eyes.

The old Honchcrow had died alone, with nothing but her hoard for company. And despite the sprawling bloodline, Grandmother herself had only ever had two daughters, one of them dead and the other disenfranchised. Her will had been split neatly down the middle with Scarlet receiving her slice as reparations, and Malva receiving Mauve’s posthumous compensation on her behalf.

Malva is twenty five, and she now holds half of the entire family fortune. Luculia will see no such figures, but there are things more valuable in life than money. Peace is one of them.

“I think maybe you were right, Mal, back when we were kids.”

“Obviously,” Malva replies out of habit. “About what, though?”

“About, you know— Yveltal knowing the right time to take people and everything.”

Personally, Luculia thinks Yveltal could have stood to take Grandmother a little sooner, but it’s probably bad luck to say that right in front of her powdered corpse.

Malva frowns, and at first Luculia thinks she won’t agree; it had been a statement boldly proclaimed by a child who barely understood social cues, let alone grief. But then she plasters on her made-for-TV smile, her gaze now anchored to the supercilious casket before them, and raises her glass.

“To Yveltal, for doing the good work of ridding the world of all the terrible people in it.”

Luculia mirrors the motion, and taps their glasses together with a crystal clink.

“To Yveltal.”


When the news about the Kalos region’s brush with death finally reaches Sinnoh’s shores, Luculia turns on the television. She rarely switches her TV to the ‘foreign’ channels anymore, but she has a feeling this is a story best told in the Kalosian tongue.

Malva is on the screen, of course, delivering a powerful obituary for a man who wanted to destroy a world he couldn’t fix. It’s a shame he never figured out that it’s broken by design— the design of families like his, theirs, and all the other elites that choke the region in a stranglehold.

Better to be here in Sinnoh, Luculia tells herself, with her father’s side of her family that’s boring but nice, and proud to see her name appear more frequently in Hearthome museum works. She’s even getting along better with her mother, now, thanks to the ocean of distance between them.

Still, her chest aches when she tunes back in to the television, listening to Malva dictate over footage of Geosenge town. It’s been so long since they last talked. Down one sibling, down one cousin.

Luculia doesn’t know if Malva was involved. But she knows her cousin had been friends with Lysandre. She knows her cousin held grudges close to her chest, right next to the grief that never leaves. She knows that things had been bad, even when they pretended they weren’t, and that they probably only got worse since they stopped talking. Since she stopped answering Malva’s calls.

Luculia is twenty eight, and even if the world doesn’t, she knows the truth.

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