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Pokémon Nori Carino: Abyssal Despair

A beloved nature show host perishes in a freak accident during an undersea filming expedition, shocking the world. Knowing the public will call for the tragic culprit's blood against the host's wishes, his producer appeals to the Officials to have Pokemon Rehabilitator Nori Carino train and 'cure' her in attempt to save her life. With a new assignment cast upon him weeks after his first and word quickly spreading, Nori finds his friends splintering, and his foes using the moment to come after him. But those problems pale in comparison to his crippling fear of water and her not being used to being out of it. What does it take to care for a Pokemon?

Welcome to the sixth fic in a metaseries! Reading any of the previous fics won't be necessary to enjoy this one, I intentionally break them up so the whole thing is not absurdly long and intimidating, and to write shorter stories in general. Speaking of, expect this one to have shorter chapters, but it'll have a comparable if not longer overall wordcount to the previous two. Simply experimenting with different styles because some of my previous chapters tended to have details in them get glossed over.

I wasn't planning on posting this so soon. I wanted to make sure the first twenty chapters were finished (about two-thirds) before I started posting; I only have up to 17 (sans 16 which is only mostly finished) and sporadic stuff beyond drafted. But I figured it was a good day for this, and who knows, maybe this will spur me into action?

Studies have shown trigger warnings don't work. Not only can the trigger warning itself be triggering, but they can increase the effect and even induce a "forbidden fruit" lure. There is little consensus as to whether or not they are effective. So I'll conceal them behind this spoiler.
You can expect strong language, a single use of a slur in another language, violence, meetings getting interrupted, people being jerks, characters angsting (teenagers, you know?), flashbacks to 2006 (actually might be serious), and teenagers hugging, kissing, and holding hands.
Prologue New
It was a Monday morning like any other for a traveling trainer. Waking up in the Pokemon Center – thank goodness for free lodgings – and getting ready for the rest of the day. The next step on her journey lay ahead of her.

Well, that wasn’t exactly true. Julia had something of a wait on her hands. The local Gym Leader was going to be occupied (in a sense) until around the end of the month. It was just something she had to make the most of. Her friends weren’t up yet, so she was just enjoying the morning quietly with her Pokemon.

Until the peace was shattered by a screaming boy with spiky, fiery hair.

“Pete Stephens is here! He’s in Johto, filming live!”

Julia hated loud noises! Why was he screaming indoors? “Who’s here?” she asked, amidst gasps of surprise from the people around her.

“The Krookodile Tracker! He’s on TV, right now!”

Oh, that guy. Julia knew him by that name. Her sister used to like him back in the day. But she hated him. She could understand the Pokemon languages like they were English or Japanese. He was not only the kind of person who would poke the Ursaring, but would do a lot more to them as well. And she would hear every complaint the poor Pokemon made about his antics.

More gasps. The other kids around her, and even some adults, reacted with surprise. They asked questions one after another.


“Where in Johto?”

“What channel?!”

“The TV in the lobby’s showing him now!” Everyone but Julia hurried away with that. The boy did so too, but paused and glanced back. “Come on, you too!” he urged.

“I don’t care about that!” she shouted, perhaps louder than she wanted.

More than a few people took pause. “What?!” an older teenage girl yelled, making Julia’s hands fly to her ears again. “How could you not like Pete Stephens?!”

“I…” There was no good way to explain why. “I don’t mean I hate him, I just…never saw his show.” She tried to make up a lie to get out of it, even though she felt lying was wrong. It would be better than telling the truth. She quickly regretted it.

“Then come watch!” the excited boy urged. “It’s great, you’ll love it! And he’s here! In Johto! It’s once in a lifetime!”

Everyone else still in the room waited for her answer. All the questioning and even hateful eyes on her were making her buckle to the pressure. She wished so much that her friends were awake right now to tell them to leave her alone. She looked over her shoulder just in case, but no such luck.

“Okay…” she mumbled, wandering over to the television in the lobby of the Pokemon Center like a lost Growlithe. Her Pikachu followed idly at her side. She didn’t like this at all, but anything to get these people off her back. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad? That was probably just wishful thinking, though.

“G’day, mates! Pete Stephens, here!”

She arrived just in time to see the program return from commercial. To Julia’s surprise, the Tracker was underwater. He was dressed in a diving suit that looked like a suit of armor, and was wearing goggles with a face mask that had a microphone built into it. His dusty blond hair flowed freely in the depths of the lake he was beneath.

In the background were countless blue and yellow pufferfish. The man verbally set the scene, “We’re here in a lake on Route 32 in Johto. Right smack in the middle of a swarm-a Qwilfish!”

That was from the part of her journey where she was sort of rushing through. She didn’t really remember much about it, other than catching her Ledyba (now a mighty Ledian) there. The fact that it was an uneventful trip, and that it was sandwiched between two major milestones on her journey, didn’t help.

The camera panned across the scene. Julia shuddered at the sight of the Pokemon. She was something of a toxiphobe when it came to Poison-types. Moreover, the murmuring of the countless Qwilfish was like the crowd at a baseball game on TV. It was just as headache-inducing, too.

A few swam over to the man out of curiosity. The Tracker showed them no fear, actually reaching out and patting a few between their spines. The reactions ranged from annoyance to indifference. One of them stuck around until he was poked on the lips. He promptly and involuntarily puffed up. The crew and other people watching had a laugh about it.

The Qwilfish, who up to that point had been interested in the strangers and appreciating the attention, fussed that the Tracker was a jerk and swam away in a tizzy. Julia had to agree with the Pokemon on that one.

“Ain’t he a beaut?” Stephens asked as the Qwilfish swam away. “They huff and puff when you give’em a fright. But believe you me, they’re super sweet Pokemon like any other.”

The man turned his head to the left. Something must have caught his attention, because his eyes widened. “Crikey!” he gasped. “Justy! Point the camera over there, mate!”

The cameraperson did as instructed. Floating alone in the lake was a lone Qwilfish that looked different from the others. Its upper body was black with purple spine tips, and its lips were a different color. The girl would have believed she was looking at a shiny Pokemon on the television, if not for the different tail pattern. Julia had to confess that she was actually interested. Just a little.

That was, until the Tracker swam back into the picture and flashed a thumbs up. She was immediately reminded why she didn’t like the show when he started talking. “That there’s a Sinnohian Qwilfish, all by their lonesome! Little fella’s far from home! Why don’t we swim on over and say hi to 'em?”

Stephens and the filming crew grew closer. As they did, the hollow murmuring of the Pokemon became clearly audible to Julia.

“Alone. Abandoned.” Her words rang with an empty sorrow. “Why, Elle? I didn’t do anything wrong, did I?”

She scrunched her hands. What?! Who would abandon their Pokemon like that?! She almost thought of saying that out loud, before remembering it was unlikely that anyone would believe some random girl could understand Pokemon languages. Heck, even she and her parents couldn’t explain how, she just could.

“Hey, little guy!” The Qwilfish puffed up in surprise when the Tracker suddenly spoke to it. “Whatcha doin’ out here?”

“Wh-who are you?!” she asked, recoiling and trying to look intimidating with a shake of her body. But even Julia could tell from the tone in her voice it was just posturing.

“It’s a’right, fella. Here, lemme give ya a pat.”

“Stay away!” cried the Qwilfish.

“Showin’ fear,” the Tracker mused. “Loner type, are we? Or were ya just left here by someone?”

“Yes, and no one here likes me!” cried the black Qwilfish. “They say I’m weird and evil and to leave! How am I supposed to?!”

“Ohh…” Julia’s Pikachu, Hikaru, groaned. “I understood a bit of that. She’s like me.”

Her starter Pokemon’s family had abandoned her just because she looked different. Julia wished she could rush over there and do something for this poor Pokemon! She may have had a fear of Poison-type Pokemon, but even so, this one instantly won her sympathy. No Pokemon deserved to be treated this way!

Stephens didn’t understand, of course. “It’ll all be fine, fella,” he consoled, only aware enough to see her discomfort. “Jus’ come here for a sec, so I can check somethin’.”

“No, stop! Leave me alone!” she screamed, desperately swimming backwards to escape the man. She was flailed and thrashed, but the Krookodile Tracker grew ever closer, oblivious or indifferent to the Pokemon’s growing discomfort, if not abject terror.

Suddenly, the screen went to darkness. After ten seconds, a commercial came on. A bald, shirtless guy with a trimmed beard started screaming about men’s deodorant while flexing his oversized muscles. Julia had to turn away in revulsion. She hated commercials like that!

“What the HELL?!” cursed the boy who drew her into watching this, stomping a foot on the floor. “Just when it was getting good, too!”

It was weird, yes. Maybe something had damaged the camera? Something felt off about the whole thing. But it didn’t matter, Julia was going to use any excuse she could to get the heck away while she could.


“This is why you film live on delay, people!”

Manna Schrader had immediately taken control of the situation as soon as it happened. She had security shoo the gawkers away and told them all they needed to know. At least they were easy to deal with. She had her hands full keeping the crew calm. She had to threaten more than one intern not to post about it on social media, else she would make sure they got blackballed from the industry forever. It was a threat she could and would make good on, given her family’s influence.

The situation was utter chaos. Pete Stephens was dead. He had been struck by a Barb Barrage attack that went right through a weak spot in the diving suit and pierced an artery. It was nothing short of a freak accident. He survived just long enough to carry him out of the water and hear his last words. He might have wanted to get a shot of the Qwilfish swimming away after checking for injuries.

When she woke up in the morning, Manna had an eerie feeling about the day. It only got worse when Pete thanked everyone for everything they’ve done before he went in. She didn’t act on anything, since the show had to go on. A gut instinct certainly wasn’t a valid reason to stop it even if that wasn’t the case. She expected an accident, but not this.

People were hurling all sorts of questions at her, and she answered them all one right after another.

“Ambulance is on the way, should I go with?”

“No, I will.”

“There’s this one persistent fisher, Ralph–”

“Keep. Him. Away.”

“You need coffee, ma’am?”


“Should we tell the family, auntie?”

“If you mean ours, absolutely not. Take charge and keep the others in line for me.” She walked away to deal with pressing business.

Although the Schrader family were traditionally reporters or news anchors, she had graduated from that role into a producer. She always felt more comfortable behind the lens rather than in front of it. She had met Pete Stephens on a trip to a region in Australia. When he offered her the chance to produce his new show, she accepted on the spot.

“Mrs. Schrader,” said the camerawoman who had accompanied Pete underwater. Justine Hailey, the best they had. She sprang into action while everyone else was stunned with shock, capturing Pete’s killer with help of her Whiscash.

“We’re back from commercial in one,” she said. “What should we say?”

“Same thing we told the gawkers, he suffered a poison injury while filming,” Manna answered at once. They didn’t need to let people know the extent of what had happened. “Have Phil deliver it over a panning shot of the lake. Go to the footage we’d planned after.”

Her phone started to buzz. She took it out of her pocket and saw it was Nadia calling, from way over in Mahogany. Nosy as always. Manna promptly put it away and let it ring.

“All right,” Justine said, muttering a prayer under her breath. “What about the Qwilfish?”

“Give me some time to think about that.”

She pulled out the Dive Ball that the camerawoman had used to capture the Qwilfish and gave it a thoughtful glance. It was easy to speculate that the pufferfish had been released into the lake. Whoever did it better pray they weren’t found out. There were laws about being responsible for the actions of released Pokemon, but in this case, the court of public opinion would be far harsher than any court of law.

Pete loved Pokemon. He did countless things to help them and preserve their habitats. He always made sure they got the respect they deserved, from their rights to insisting that the P should be capitalized out of respect in response to the strange folk who thought otherwise. As the Krookodile Tracker, he went on record before saying that he’d gladly give his life if it meant saving one Magikarp. He died doing what he loved most. Regardless, the public was going to be out for blood. Especially for this lost, frightened Pokemon. The last thing he would want is for this Qwilfish to be condemned, even if they had taken his life.

She went into her tent to think about the situation. That’s when she saw it sitting on the table. A stapled together set of pages from a web blog. It gave her an idea, a means of salvation.

She picked up the copy of a report written by a far-removed cousin of hers, Arumi Schrader. It documented events that took place at the Sunyshore Gym over in Sinnoh during the first eight months of the year, involving a certain Pokemon Rehabilitator. Someone who could handle Pokemon that no one else could – or would. It struck like a bolt of lightning called down by Raikou. Yes, this was a perfect idea. They could use him. If anyone could turn public opinion around, it was the Demon Tamer Nori Carino.

Julia comes from the fic of @Juliko , Pokemon: A Marvelous Journey. Used with permission plus with input, partially as a mythology gag in how this series technically started as alternate history (noncanon to this too), and to help set the stage.

If you're wondering about my use of a real world country name, it's just my way of futureproofing. I don't want to spend hours making up a region name only to have it potentially be invalidated by canon, so I sidestep it by not mentioning those and having countries exist as basically-superregions. Which, kinda got screwed up anyway by Paldea encompassing two countries, but I managed a patchjob there. Though it also validated my use of real-world language names (which the games use anyway), so.

And yes. This is a crazy concept I had. Hopefully it's enjoyable for/in spite of it.
Chapter 1 New
“Hey, guys,” Nori Carino announced his arrival as he strutted through the door to the miniature computer lab which served as a clubroom. The thirteen-year-old was around 140 centimeters tall with chestnut-colored hair and soft red eyes. Besides his job with the Officials, he was the president of the newsletter club at Tobari Central Junior High. Taiiku no hi was today, and they needed to cover the school’s festivities!

He glanced around the room and noticed that there was only one other person present besides him. He considered everyone in the club a friend, although there was only one person he was close to in the traditional sense. She was sitting alone in front of one of the many computers in the room.

“What’s up, Yumi?” he addressed her personally.

His words did not appear to register with her. Yumi Takao was not wearing headphones of any kind and there was no sound coming from the speakers. Her short beige hair was in perfect order, styled in a cute bob cut. Her clothes were as fashionable as always: a long pleated flannel skirt and designer shirt, pink and white respectively. She was staring blankly at the monitor with her chocolate brown eyes. Was she reading something?

“Yumi?” he called to her again, a little louder. She was a lot of different things, but she wasn’t the type of person to suddenly ignore someone. Was she?

“Oh, ah. Nori.” Her hand jerked forward and to the right. Whatever was on the screen quickly disappeared. Nori didn’t get a good look at it, but it seemed like she had been reading an email.

“What’s up?” he repeated.

“Nothing, really,” she told him unconvincingly. He’d learned to read body language as part of his training with the Officials, but he didn’t need to see her twitching and unnaturally rigid posture to know that it was hardly nothing. “What about you?”

“Well, I’m getting close on teaching the Demon something new,” he said. She was one of his Pokemon and where he got his moniker ‘The Demon Tamer’ from. Specifically, she was a battle-crazy Nidorina who had terrorized Veilstone with hit-and-run attacks for many months. “Mostly for her battles and to see if I can. It’s not much, but it’ll be cool if it works.”

“Uh-huh.” She was looking his way, but not at him. Her eyes were elsewhere. Maybe nowhere.

He carefully sat to the left of her. “Is something wrong?” he prodded, leaning in slightly.

She shook it off with a gesture. “Don’t worry about it,” she dismissed, albeit in a hasty fashion that made Nori worry even more.

All he could do was shrug and say, “If you say so.” Forcing it wouldn’t do him any good.

Yumi exhaled, turned away, and lowered her head. There was something wrong. She didn’t want to talk about it right now, that much was clear. Maybe someone said something mean to her, or she found out about some bad news? He could only speculate, but he wasn’t going to dwell on it overmuch.

The young official turned to the computer before him, switched the machine on, and brought up the web browser. He went to his favorite world news site. Nori never had the internet while growing up, or much of anything, really. But he did have the radio in his mom’s trailer. The news was what he listened to the second most. That was how he became so interested in it.

The top headline jutted out like a tall tree in an open prairie. He didn’t normally care for celebrity news, but this one was something big and meaningful. He couldn’t help but read it aloud.

“The Krookodile Tracker, Pete Stephens, passes away at 49?!”

“What?!” Yumi’s reverie broke as she jumped to attention. She leaned over his shoulder. “When?!”

“Five minutes ago!”

“What happened?!”

“I’m bringing it up now!”

Things like radio dramas were what Nori listened to the most on the radio. There was one he had fond memories of which featured a retelling of one of Stephens’ adventures where he encountered a Legendary Pokemon from his home region. Plus, there was that interview on Natureworld with Nami. He had even seen a few episodes of the guy’s TV show, mostly at school. Nori may not have known much removed from popular culture, but even he knew Pete Stephens, the Krookodile Tracker.

Yumi peered over as he scrolled through the pages. He read fast, and thankfully, she read faster. That didn’t surprise him. She liked to read and even went with him to the library on a couple of occasions.

The article explained that he was in Johto to document a mass outbreak of Qwilfish. There was a stray Sinnohian specimen which investigators speculated was released there. It panicked and attacked him when he tried to approach, piercing a weak spot in his diving suit, which was designed to withstand even things like a Sharpedo’s bite. It was nothing short of a freak accident. Attempts to resuscitate him on the scene failed, and he was pronounced dead on arrival to Violet City General.

“You were just in Johto yesterday, weren’t you?” Yumi inquired.

“Yeah, but I didn’t want to stay there longer than I had to.” He could’ve stayed a week, but he decided to fly back on Sunday night, so he wouldn’t miss any school. It was a mandatory vacation that he didn’t get the point of. Something to do with the policy of the Officials. He would have gone to Sunyshore to visit his mentor Volkner and his bestie Arumi, but it had to be out of region. “Even if I hadn’t, I was up near Mahogany and Ecruteak. Not anywhere close to where it happened.”


At that moment, Reiko Azuma entered the room, followed closely by Terrance Lee. The two of them were in the same grade as Nori.

“Wh-what are you two doing?” Terrance stammered, his chocolate brown eyes darting between them. He wore baggy black sweatpants with an equally loose shirt of the same color.

Nori and Yumi exchanged glances. It was the latter who broke the news. “The Krookodile Hunter passed…”

Reiko stamped a foot. “What?!” she exclaimed with a flick of her fiery orange hair. She had on jeans and a blue jacket. Reiko was short and had a bit of weight on her, though not an unhealthy amount. “Lemme see!”

Nori scrolled to the top of the article. Reiko sat down to his left, while Terrance shuffled up and tried to look over his shoulder. He went through it again.

“Scroll slower!” Reiko snapped.

“Read it up yourself, then!” Nori fired back, getting out of the seat to allow her to do so. It was the best way, anyway.

She took him up on it. When he turned away with a huff, Nori noticed Terrance’s expression. His eyes were watery, not to mention distant. His mouth was hanging open.

“What’s up?” he asked, with a bit of concern.

“That was my favorite show…” he spoke flatly. He shook his head and took a step away from the computer.

“The Krookodile Tracker?” he said. “Wasn’t my favorite, but I liked it too.”

Reiko grumbled. “Hard to find someone who didn’t,” she remarked as she continued to slowly make her way through the article. “You’d have to be a bigot or a freak to hate the show.”

“That’s taking it too far,” Nori commented. “Not everything’s for everyone.” He was pretty sure just about everyone disliked at least one thing most people loved. Like for him, it was Pokemon journeys. A lot of people wanted to experience one at least once, like Reiko or his former friend Claris, but he never had any interest.

Yumi looked between them. “I think most would like Pete Stephens himself, at least.”

Nori couldn’t disagree there. As he was about to speak up, a faint sob came from a table behind them.

Reiko stood up immediately, maybe reflexively. “Terrance, you okay?” she said, placing a hand on his shouder.

He and Yumi exchanged a smirk. Those two had been friends since they were little, and the only ones at the club not aware of Reiko’s feelings was Terrance himself. Or if he was, he did a good job of ignoring them.

“No,” came a huff. “I…I don’t know what…” He laid his head on the table, burying it under his arms.

The two waited. When Reiko remained silent with uncertainty, Nori spoke.

“It’ll be fine, Terrance,” he assured him.

Yumi concurred. “I’m sorry. I know, it hurts me too. But we can’t…” She trailed off, uncertain of how to put it to him.

Nori sat up straighter as a realization struck. “Actually, we can do something.”

“What, necromancy?” Reiko spat.

“I meant, write an article.”

“Oh.” She slapped herself and smirked. “Yeah, we could. And you know him best, Terrance.”

“It’d be a good way to honor him,” Yumi agreed, nodding at the idea. “You know?”

Still using his arms as a chin rest, he peered up at them. Nori maintained that it was a good idea anyway. They would technically need the others to agree, but he was sure they would like it too. That is, if Terrance was comfortable writing about it so soon.

He finally sat up. It took a few seconds longer to give his reply. “Okay…”


The atmosphere at school changed with the news of the sudden passing of a beloved celebrity. It was a subtle shift, yet it was not lost on Nori. Aside from the talk about it that he overheard in the halls, there were fewer smiles on faces and people were moving slower. It was clear to him that the Krookodile Tracker meant a lot to almost everyone in the school. The others unanimously agreed to write an article about him. Their weekly newsletter always had one global story anyway.

After what they managed yesterday, they had one day to hammer it out and get it to print, since they published on Wednesday. Their two fieldworkers were out getting quotes from their peers for the article. Adelle and Yasmin were ninth-years who tended to be inseparable. Saqid, an eighth-year like Yumi, was in the school library looking for some books that might be relevant. That left the rest of them to begin the brainstorming portion.

It took Terrance several minutes to compose himself after sitting down. He fidgeted and inhaled. Three of them were looking at him with expectant encouragement. The other, Mitsu Chisaka, was hunched over a monitor as usual.

“I think, well.” Terrance huffed again. He spoke with slow uncertainty. “We should open with a biography of him and what happened.”

Even before Nori had come to the club, Terrance was only in it because his friend was. His contributions were minimal and limited to only small additions. That didn’t mean they didn’t appreciate him, of course. He was one of them, and every little bit helped. This was the first time he was taking on a leading role, and as far as Nori was concerned, he was doing fine. Reiko beamed. Yumi couldn’t help smiling either. Nori opened his mouth to say something, when a sneeze interrupted his train of thought.

They turned to the source, Mitsu. The teal-haired teenager let out a sheepish chuckle as he wiped his nose with his hand.

“Did you really have to come in here when you’re sick?” Reiko snapped. She turned away with a grimace, but kept her narrow eyes leering at him.

“I’m not that sick…” Mitsu replied with a sniff as he wiped his left eye. “Some of this is from crying.”

Nori had to agree with the orange-haired girl. “You could at least wear a mask,” he said. He respected that Mitsu came to school anyway, but that was just common courtesy.

He reached for the roll of toilet paper in front and to the right of him, next to his green water bottle. “It’ll be fine.” He blew his nose.

“I don’t want to catch your damn cold, dumbass!” Reiko shouted the thing that was on everyone’s mind, but only Nori himself would’ve said it to him outright too.

In fact, he said so too. “Yeah, no one does. And put that rag in your bag.”

Yumi giggled at his unwitting rhyme. Reiko continued to glower. Mitsu eventually groaned and put the tissue where he was asked, instead of the wastebin. He was a good person and a hard worker, but sometimes he seemed off in his own world.

“Hey!” Terrance squeaked out. “Does that…sound good?”

“Sorry. It works,” Nori confirmed. Stupid interruptions. “It’s simple, but simple is best sometimes.”

“Then after that we can put some of the stuff others said,” Terrance continued. “Like their memories about him.”

“I’m not sure if we can print some of it,” Yumi said grimly. Nori glanced at her as she elaborated. “I overheard some people in the halls saying they felt like going out and beating up Qwilfish.”

Reiko snorted, giving her head a toss. “That’s stupid. They should be blaming the one who killed him, not all of them.”

An uncomfortable silence drew over them. Even Reiko, realizing what she had just said, crossed her arms and turned away with a frown. But the fact remained that a lot of people were going to demand justice. And at the most extreme, some might take matters into their own hands and exact it upon proxies. Nori hoped those people were outliers and not the norm. No, he hoped people weren’t stupid enough to do that.

“I wonder what’s going to happen to that Qwilfish,” Terrance mused the question on everyone’s mind.

Yumi turned to him. “You would know, Nori. Right?”

“Yeah. It’s case by case,” he told them. He had to extensively learn Pokemon-related law as part of his studies to become an official. “Typically, a wild Pokemon that kills a human is sent to assessment, and if deemed necessary, put down. But there’s two things complicating this case. The first is the argument that he provoked the Qwilfish. The other is that it may have been a released Pokemon. That changes things.”

“Wait, it does?” asked Mitsu.

He confirmed. “Trainers who release a Pokemon into the wild are responsible for its actions for at least six months afterward.”

“So they just need to find the bastard that did this!” Reiko declared. She rubbed her hands together.

“Right!” agreed Mitsu with a sniff. It wasn’t clear if it was from his grief or the cold. Maybe it was both.

But Nori had to burst their bubble. “I don’t think they’re gonna find whoever did this.” They were looking, but no one had seen anything. Time would tell if whoever did it would come forward out of guilt or be exposed because of it. “Even if they do, the first thing I said, the provoking aspect, might be their defense like the Qwilfish’s.”

“That’s dumb!” snapped Reiko, slamming a palm on the desk. “And why don’t they like, get someone to ask the thing who its trainer was?”

“There’s a lot of reasons why they don’t often do that.” On paper, getting someone who could talk to Pokemon was simple and obvious. But it wasn’t that simple from a legal perspective. “Most of the reasons why were because of a high-profile case from the 1960s. An interpreter – Kentaro Kannagi – got accused of fabricating Pokemon testimony.”

His fellow club members all reacted with varying degrees of surprise. But he’d caught all of their interest. Especially with the part about the Kannagis. “What happened?” Terrance asked.

“A real mess happened,” Nori said. “They eventually found out that the Pokemon was the one who lied, but not before a media fiasco nearly destroyed Kentaro. He left the Kannagi Shrine anyway despite getting cleared. It ended up exposing a lot of the flaws with Pokemon witnesses. It wasn’t used much before, but there’s been more restrictions put upon it since then, like special permission and multiple interpreters being needed.”

There was much more to Pokemon-related law than one might expect. It wasn’t like, super restrictive or anything like that. A little kid could still own Pokemon, and once they turned ten, they could get a license to participate in officially sanctioned activities throughout most of the world. But there were still rules, both obvious and obscure. If someone didn’t follow them, they could get put on a blacklist and be legally barred from ownership.

“You’re really smart, Nori,” Yumi said, leaning in with a soft beam.

“Oh, uh,” He could feel the heat rising in his face. “It’s nothing special, really.”

Reiko, Terrance, and Mitsu only laughed a little. It wasn’t clear if it was at him or what. The point became moot when a buzzing sound from his pocket interrupted them. Nori reached in and retrieved his radio. A small rectangular earpiece that worked as a very limited phone, could tune into emergency scanners, and served as identification.

“What kind of ringtone’s that?” Reiko snorted.

“I think it’s supposed to be some kind of alarmy noise?” It was annoying, but maybe that was supposed to be the point. “Sorry, I’ll be right back.”

He grumbled. What was he getting a call now for?! It was Tuesday, not Sunday! He stepped into the office at the back of the room and shut the door behind him. Nori put the device in his ear and pressed a button on the side to answer.

“—lo? Sir? Hello? You there?” came the voice of a man with a thick European accent.

“I’m here,” Nori answered.

“Ah, it is good that you had answered! I am right that it is lunch hour at your school, yes?”

“It is, but I’m busy with my club.” He didn’t hide his impatience. This guy liked to ramble a lot.

“Oh, sorry sir!” the man said. He didn’t sound very apologetic, but that was just how he spoke. “Okay, briefly. I was just calling to say to you, a new assignment is on the way!”

“What?! Already?” He hadn’t had his first one for a month yet! He got Pawniard on the 21st of September, and it was the 13th of October!

“It was a surprising matter for me too! Sorting out will need to happen. But two days! Friday! In the usual place! Prepare yourself.”

“But Friday is three days from now?”

“I mean Friday!” he quickly spoke. “Three days! Be pre–”

“Fine. See you then.” He hung up, pocketed it, and went outside.

“That your handler?” Reiko quipped with a smarmy smirk.

“It feels like the opposite sometimes,” he answered, returning her expression. “But yeah. I’m getting a new assignment.”

Reiko arched an eyebrow. Mitsu, as usual, was too engrossed to react. But Terrance and Yumi both recoiled. The latter’s hands flew to her mouth.

“Another one?!” she shuddered. “But Pawniard’s… You’re still…”

Terrance was able to speak. “Has he been rehabilitated yet? Pawniard, that is?”

“No, not yet.” He was comfortable enough to have him battle random trainers like he did on that vacation, but not enough to say he had finished his job. Actually, he wasn't sure what counted as being done.

Nori was a Pokemon Rehabilitator, or rather, the only one. He worked with highly problematic Pokemon that no one else could or would; ones that even the best conventional trainers couldn’t (or had no time/obligation to) train and care facilities couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do anything for. His job was to rein in the nastier parts of their personalities to acceptable standards.

Reiko crossed her arms. “Well, hopefully you don’t let this one almost kill anything.”

“Hey!” He appreciated her criticism, but she took it too far sometimes. “Not going to let that happen again! Not after that! But I’m hoping this isn’t the usual pace I get assignments.” He paused, then added, “I better ask about that.” It seemed it wasn’t the case from the man’s reaction, but who could say?

“But we should get back to work,” said Terrance. “I’ll start…trying to make a draft. Points to hit on, and…stuff.”

“Right,” concurred Reiko. “I’ll help if you need it.”

“Mhm.” Nori had to agree. Whatever this was, it wouldn’t be a thing to worry about until the weekend. Not that he was going to let it get in the way of the article anyway.

Yumi fidgeted in her seat, drumming her fingers together. “Yeah,” she said, although she was glancing at him instead of Terrance. He could only nod at her in assurance for now.

As Terrance dug into his bag to find a pen and some paper, Nori thought a bit more about his impending assignment. Whatever it was, it was hard to be worse than a serial killer’s Pokemon. And he was up to the task! Not like he had a say in the matter. So, as he always liked to say, there was nothing to do but do it!
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