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Pokémon Selling Out (Two-Shot)

Word Count: New

NebulaDreams

Pokémon Trainer
Partner
luxray
Hi! In the midst of this longfic hiatus (and my writer's block with my original project), I decided to work on a few plot bunnies I've had on the backburner for quite some time. Since Sword and Shield, I've had ideas swimming around about fics set in Galar that show more of the PokeJobs system in action. One of my biggest disappointments with SwSh is that the PokeJobs system was purely there as a gameplay mechanic rather than as a part of the world, despite the huge gaping hole that leaves in the worldbuilding.

So, I decided to extend some of the themes from my longfic to some shorter fics and show off what life in Galar would be like from the perspective of Pokemon using this system. This might not be the only one in this tentative Galar-centric series, though we'll see.

NOTICE: Oh and heads up, this version is a bit unpolished, but I've put it on here as a test run since I wanted to use the feedback on here to revise later. If you do find any inconsistencies or big flaws, feel free to point them out.


Summary: A lone Machamp, short on cash, has to return to her roots as a league Pokemon and sell out as a temporary team member in order to cover her rent. What starts as a quick solution turns out to be more than she bargained for as she stumbles into the world of clout-chasing influencers and bored rich kids.

Part 1

Isobel held the letter marked ‘Urgent’ in one of her four hands. The second hand was scratching her head. The third one held a bowl of Lucari-O’s cereal. The fourth hastily shovelled spoonfuls of oats and chocolate chips into her mouth.

This letter was addressed to Machamp Isobel, the name she assigned herself once she joined the postal registry. Even without opening it, she knew in layman’s terms, it read ‘hey, your rent’s late, dummy, go earn that cheddar’.

It had only been a month since she had moved into a place of her own. Though the teachers did their best to educate her on all these human responsibilities, rent was something that slipped past her this time. She had saved up a bit from various other jobs when she wasn’t spending it on booze, but would that be enough to cover the rest?

She put the cereal bowl down. With the cracked phone her old trainer had given her, Isobel looked at the PokeJobs app for new roles to fill. She was already doing one to keep herself at bay, so what else could she find to fill the void? Nothing she was qualified for. A lot of jobs for engineering, for instance, required more training than just having brute strength. There were a lot of creative jobs, though she never considered herself one of those artsy-fartsy types. The most she’d be qualified for was a sandwich artist, and that was too obvious a choice for a Pokemon with four arms. Then there was something else.

“Huh,” she thought out loud. She didn’t want to get back into fighting as a last resort, but when that thought struck her mind, it filled her with a certain urge. She enjoyed fighting: it was the one place she could let out her frustrations without being put in handcuffs. But she didn’t move away from the training lifestyle for nothing.

But eh, screw it. She had bills to pay, so she couldn’t get too precious about the work she signed herself up for. With a few scrolls, a skim-read, and a final tap on the screen, she accepted the job as a ‘temporary team member for Trevor’. Sounded self explanatory. If she won, she would get paid, and 8000 Pokedollars was nothing to sneeze at. Once she finished this job and paid her rent, she was going to paint the town red.



Despite what most people said about Machamp, Isobel preferred to dress to (moderately) impress. With a tank top, shorts (because they were comfy and easy to wear), and tabi shoes, she was ready to take on the day. Out of the apartment, down the stairs, and to the outside world of Circhester. She lived on the outer edge where they had built a new block of flats, so that meant transit to the inner city for work. Good thing she knew how to ride a bike. Dig through the city’s trash and you can find anything as long as you put the elbow grease in to fix it, and Isobel had plenty to spare.

With it, she zipped down the roads with ease, sailing through the vehicular seas, and passing through the luscious green parks with the flying taxis overhead. It got noisier the further she ventured into the city. The air was filled with the various squawks of Pokemon, the songs the buskers played, and the blaring of the traffic. Everywhere she looked, from the tour guides taking bystanders through the various historical sites, to street vendors selling their berries with their Pokemon as mascots, the city was filled with chaos. And she loved almost every minute of it.

Once she parked her bike somewhere safe, her first shift spinning signs for stores went by quickly. Whenever she weaved the hunk of metal between one pair of arms, she usually lost track of time as she let her hands guide the advert wherever it pleased. Any other human could’ve taken her place, sure, but what human could do that while staring at their phone at the same time? She was basically getting paid while she watched the League Matches on the Victreevee app. If anyone stopped her, technically, she could’ve said she was doing research for another job.

Speaking of which, Isobel surfed from video to video. One was a highlight reel of a famous Pokemon-trainer duo whose Grimmsnarl carried the whole match. She always found that hairy sweat mop gross, but their fighting prowess was admirable.

They left no room for their opponent to breathe since they manoeuvred each strand of hair with purpose to trap them, then bunched up their coat for the finishing blow. Even if every move was calculated, the Grimmsnarl still injected his own personality into the fight as he whooped and hollered with each movement. It was infectious, which reflected in the way Isobel flung the sign up in the air and caught it. She got a cheer from some of the bystanders for that one.

Even if she wasn’t in the league any more, if she had the chance to, she would’ve taken the Grimmsnarl on just for kicks.

Then she sighed, going to the saved videos stored on her phone. Her own league matches with her trainer were still on there, including one of the last ones between her and a Mr. Mime. The only thing amusing about the fight was that clown’s dancing, and they were just doing it for crowd appeal. Though the cards were stacked against Isobel, she still came out on top. Her opponent’s moves were easily readable, and each psychic attack just as dodgeable. Still not easy meat by any means.

When she watched herself in the playback, though, it served as a reminder of why she quit. Her movements were calculated like the Grimmsnarl, yet cold. She had rehearsed them many times before. Her face tried to hide emotion, but occasionally, even when she had the upper hand, she’d frown. By the end of the fight, the Machamp just stared back at her trainer with hollow eyes. She won, but the victory wasn’t hers, it was her trainer’s. It was always her trainer’s from the start.

“Hey,” one kid said, dragging her out of her headspace. Isobel looked down at the tyke who wore a Pokeball belt and a hat with a crudely drawn badge on it. She could tell he wanted to be a contender.

“Yeah?” she said, coaxing human words out of her inhuman tongue.

“Can you do that trick again?” He gave a toothy smile. “That was cool.”

Isobel tucked her phone into her pockets and gave him a thumbs up. “You got it, kid.”

Isobel poured all her attention into the sign for a few energetic spins, then with one gracious arc, launched it up into the air, higher than the building she stood in front of, and caught it. Seeing that kid smile again filled the void in her heart. That was her own little victory.



In no time at all, her shift ended, just an hour before her next one with the trainer. Isobel reported back to the Pokeball store where they handed her a thin slip of notes. Just to make sure, she counted them individually, which all checked out.

“Thanks,” she said, returning the sign. “You guys don’t forget to pay like some of the others do.”

“Pay it no mind,” the clerk said, smirking at her own joke. The Indeedee gave her an odd look for that one. “We wouldn’t be caught dead screwing over another Pokemon, since, yanno.” Her gesture to the shelves of luxury Pokeballs filled in the blanks. “Especially since we’ve seen more customers thanks to you.”

“D’aww,” Isobel said, mockingly holding a hand to her cheek, “at least buy me dinner first before you flatter me, hun.” She paused for a moment, then leaned forward, holding one pair of hands in a praying motion. “Would you buy me dinner?”

“Eh, we’ll see.”

Can’t blame a Mon for trying. Still, she got to leave the shop with a heavier wallet than before.



After lunch, Isobel hit the gym. Not the ‘gym’, but the ‘gym’ gym, where she could just exercise and not have to worry about battling on the way. Calling it a gym was a bit of a stretch since it was just a park with a bunch of outdoor equipment for her and other Pokemon to use. They had Mankey bars, cycling machines, punching bags, and even modified equipment specifically for Machamp. There was a four-armed chest press, perfect for toning her back muscles and biceps. She stationed herself on the unused machine. As she sat, two Machoke eyed her from far away. One misplaced glance at them, and they started flexing their arms, trying to show off their muscles.

Not that she didn’t have a trained eye for beefcake, but she didn’t exactly want the attention. So Isobel looked away, pretending not to notice until they approached, strutting towards her unashamedly like two naked emperors. Did it count as being naked if they had pants on, even if it was made of their own skin?

“Hey, wanna fight?” one of them said. “Y’look real strong, y’know. Real strong.”

“Heh, yeah, brother,” the other said, “I’d love her to pummel me anytime.”

“Wait, what? No, we’re challengin’ her, not the other way ‘round.”

“But some guys like it like that, y’know.”

They really were as dumb as they looked. She smiled, putting on the widest grin possible. “Where’re your trainers? I’m sure they’d love to know you two are bothering a stranger.”

To seal the deal, she stood up, towering over them and cracking the knuckles on all of her hands. It did the trick as both of them quietly slunk back to their own space. Good. With that, she sat back down and got to wor—

Nope, her phone vibrated just as she positioned her arms on the weights. From the ringtone of the Pokemon anime’s first opening, she knew who it was. Eh, whatever, it would be nice to talk to her again and she could multitask.

“Hey,” she said, using her back pair of arms to push the press behind her. “What’s up?”

“Oh, er…” her trainer Gloria said. “Just wanted to know if you’ve settled in yet.”

“Pfft, yeah, absolutely.” She grinned. “Work is just work, the room’s fine, and y’know, Circhester’s great as usual. Nowhere else I’d rather be.”

“Good to hear, I guess?” She shuffled some papers in the background. “It’s just that I got some letters here saying that your rent’s overdue.”

Isobel stopped using the machine and leaned forward, groaning. “Ugh, yeah, I know that too. Why do they need to send the bill—” No, wait, she remembered: Gloria was her referee in case she couldn’t have forked it up. “Forget it. But yeah, sorry ‘bout that. I have been workin’ every day though.”

“I don’t doubt that. I mean, I don’t mind paying since money’s not a big concern. Ma always told me to save. Just that, I’d rather make sure you’re, er, sure about this. You know I’ll let you saddle along if you want to come back.”

“Yeah…” She rubbed her head. “About that… you wouldn’t be jealous if I told you I’ve signed myself up as a temp Pokemon?”

“Not really.” Gloria hummed. “I thought you said you didn’t like fighting, though.”

“I do and I don’t. I thought we went over this.” She sighed. That wound didn’t need re-opening. “But this guy’s stinking rich and he’s willing to pay, so I’ll be able to cover the rest of my rent with this.”

“Well, that’s good, but, er, some trainers have clauses against other Pokemon signing up on their lonesome.”

“Okay.” Isobel huffed. “That sounds really dumb, to be honest.”

“It is, but I don’t know.”

“Galar’s supposed to be a land of opportunity for us, isn’t it?”

“It’s not that, but when money’s on the line, some trainers want to know they can rely on another trainer’s track record to let them know their Pokemon can put up a good fight and obey commands.”

She ground her teeth at that. “I can do both if I need to! I didn’t spend this long with you just sittin’ on my as—”

“I know, I know, I wasn’t implying that.” She sighed that familiar sigh. She might as well have been tutting at her. “But, well, I’m sure you’ll do fine. You can use me as a reference if the guy asks where you came from. Bye.”

She hung up before Isobel said the same. Suddenly, she didn’t have as much energy to exercise. The comment she made stuck with her for a bit. During this downtime, she looked at the app one more time to see what the offer was, giving it a complete look this time instead of a skim-read. She widened her eyes at what was on there.



Isobel had a lot of explaining to do. She was going up to meet the trainer near the Hero’s Bath and hopefully get herself out of this jam. Her feet slapped against the cobblestones as she walked; she sounded more like a monster than a Machamp with the way she charged through the streets. Stupid, she was stupid. Stupid for snapping at her trainer and stupid for giving herself false hope over a phony contract. But if she had Nomels, she might as well have made Nomelade if the trainer was still willing to pay.

Eventually, she reached the stone pillars which housed Circhester’s biggest tourist attraction. Both a historical site and a popular bath-house, it was one of many reasons Isobel chose to move to Circhester in particular. Nothing like soaking up in the hot springs after a long day of work, exercise, or battling. Now wasn’t the time to relax though as she tried to pick out her employer in the crowd.

There he was, dressed from head to toe in black designer gear, plus a golden chain hanging by his neck. He was as scrawny as a Scraggy, though he looked like he was made of money even though his clothes were as plain as day. And who wore all-black in the summer?

Isobel put on her friendliest customer-facing mask and walked up to him. He looked at her. She looked at him. He said nothing at first.

“Oh, you’re Trevor, right?”

He stepped in place, staring up at this talking Pokemon before him. “A-and you are?”

“I’m Isobel, the one who accepted your offer.” She extended her hand to his. A nice, firm handshake seemed customary between people working together. “Nice to meet—”

“Aw, shit,” he said. He had a mouth on him. “Did you even read the thing? Can you even read at all?”

So much for being civil. She squinted her eyes in response, leering down at him. “Yes, I can. I know you asked for a trainer to come and not just a Pokemon.”

“So why should I hire you?”

That was a good point. While she kept that poker face of hers, she wanted to die inside. No, she had to think of something quickly, or else live on a diet of Pokepellets for the rest of her days with Gloria. “Oh, no, I have a trainer, she’s just… out of town. I thought I’d do her a solid and take on something on my lonesome.”

“Oh yeah, her name and rank?”

“Gloria Deo, five stars.”

Four stars since Isobel left, actually. She hoped that whatever he typed in, it would skirt around the ranking lie and show Gloria for the good trainer that she is. Or was. “Check out the league match between me and that Mime—”

“I know.” Oh, c’mon, let a Mon speak for once!

The fight played out on his phone (not cracked unlike hers and with a silver case), and with each punch and kick Isobel flew at the opponent, Trevor made brief comments here and there. Nice form. Determined to win. Able to think on her feet, unlike most Machamp. Hey, that was just another Pokedex myth! But no matter. He put the phone away and sighed.

“Alright, fine, you’re hired, but on one condition. You don’t speak at all. Don’t ask questions about what this is and don’t let anyone else know you can speak.”

She stepped back. If she remained within punching distance for this, she would’ve clobbered him without a second thought. “You gotta be kiddin’ me. It’s not like I’m some alien or anythin’, a lot of Pokemon talk these days, y’know!”

“I know.” He tucked his hands in his pockets, puffing out his chest. “But money’s on the line here. If you go running your mouth, he won’t think you’re my Pokemon, and that jerk finds out I hired you, he’ll call the bet off. He’ll know I’m cheating by getting someone else’s team member in.”

Isobel balled her hands into fists. What had she gotten herself into? “You can’t stop me from sayin’ stuff, especially if I need to coach yo—”

“Coach me, who do you think you are?” He spat on the ground. “Like you’re some master-class trainer. You’re just here to carry out whatever moves I give you.”

“But—”

“Do you want to get paid or not?” Stop interrupting! Isobel did all she could to not wring his neck, tucking them behind her back. She already sold out the minute she chose this job. And yet, she needed the money. She sighed, putting her hands on her hips.

“Alright, yes, I wanna get paid. Do we have a deal?” Second time for a handshake was hopefully the charm. He squinted at it for a moment, then shook it.

“Okay, deal. Now let’s just get a move on to the battle park. And remember, no talking.”

Isobel sighed and tailed Trevor as he led the way. Not that she wanted to see his face, but no matter. Once this was over, she didn’t have to worry about this situation for another month. At least the walk through Circhester proved as beautiful as ever. From the flowers planted along the pavement paths to the looks of the buildings themselves that gave the city a timeless feel, she almost forgot she was picking at some dumb trainer’s scraps. Speaking of which…

“Hey, T-Vul!” A younger trainer went up to him, sharpie in one hand. “Can you sign my Pokeball?”

“Hey, my Vully, sure thing,” he said with a smile. So he must’ve been a celebrity of some sort, right? Isobel had to check.

Once the kid was gone, she turned on the city’s free wi-fi and looked through the Rootom search bar to find this T-Vul, expecting a movie star or a rapper. Lots of celebrities were fake, bitter asshats in person, right? She was disappointed to find out his Snap!App was his claim to fame with 50k followers. Sure, it was nothing to sneeze at, but even a Scrafty could do better, and did by about 500k more followers. But anyway, most of Trevor’s account was him showing off his clothes, his cars, both his clothes and cars, and his Pokemon which he also sometimes dressed in designer wear. He had a Thievul and Raboot by the looks of it, though neither of them were really smiling in any of the pictures along with their trainer. Figures.

She knew she couldn’t speak, but she might as well have humoured herself. “Psst,” she whispered, “what’s it like being a Snapper?”

“Ew, no, that’s not what we call ourselves,” he said. “But eh. I only have a few followers.”

“Fifty thousand isn’t a lot, then?”

“This other guy has 200k. He has clout, believe me.”

So that’s the jerk he talked about. “So… you’re fighting him because he has more than you?”

“Do you want me to call this job off? Then shut it.”

That put that conversation to bed, then.

Once they got close to the park’s entrance, Trevor took her to the corner where the two of them remained unseen and briefed her on how the fight would play out. 3v3, 1st to 2 wins, 4 moves only. Well, moves in the loosest sense. Outside the league matches, the move limit was only a suggestion, and moves were just a combination of commands rather than something a Pokemon merely forgot. After one discussion just shy of an argument, they reached a compromise and Isobel had her move set.

Since Isobel didn’t have her Pokeball on her (belonged to Gloria who was a few cities away), he brought both of his other Pokemon out to accompany him on the way. They didn’t stop to introduce themselves. Once they started walking through the lobby, though, that’s when Raboot turned and sneered at the Machamp.

“He’s gettin’ you to fight?” She snorted. “Like we’re not good enough for him.”

“We aren’t,” Thievul said, head lowered, “we never are.”

“Look,” Isobel said, “this isn’t a contest. I’m just here to pay my dues, then I’ll be out of your hair. Or fur.”

Raboot crossed her arms and turned her head. “Whatevs. I’ll show you.”

“Just calm down...” Thievul said.

“Oh yeah?” She kicked him in the side, making him fall behind. “Well, I’m calm now.”

“C’mon, guys,” Trevor said, eyebrows knitted, “get a move on. Don’t need one of you down for the count before the fight starts.”

Raboot just walked as is while Thievul joined Isobel’s side.

“Both of them are such jerks,” Thievul said.

“I can tell,” she said. “Name’s Isobel.”

“Bronze. So you’re really here on your own? That’s cool.”

“Certainly doesn’t feel cool right now.” She sighed, then forced a smile. “But it has a lot of perks.”

“Huh.” Not another peep from him, which struck Isobel as weird, but oh well. That was the least of her concerns as the team entered the rented arena.

There were two sides of the audience. On one half, only a few dozen sat by the bleachers, while the other half was almost full of people on the contender’s side. This guy wore colourful garbs and looked nothing like the tech savvy guy Trevor made him out to be. If anything, he looked more like the type to meditate underneath waterfalls than go for joyrides with chrome-plated cars.

Isobel felt out of sorts here. It was like walking into a bar and having the patrons stare at you as you ask for drinks. Only because she had definitely done that once before and got asked to leave on account of alcohol being illegal for Pokemon to consume. Still, she took a deep breath, calming herself as Trevor’s team stopped, facing the other side.

“Ah,” the guru guy said, “you have a new team member.”

Isobel was about to speak when she covered her mouth. Keeping herself silent was harder than she thought.

“Yup, you know my old man. He had a few Pokemon knocking around, and he gave me another one just in time for this.”

“Was that why you challenged me?” He smiled. “Now you have another Pokemon?”

“I…” Trevor rubbed his head. Isobel resisted the urge to laugh at that. “Look, Nil, I got her fair and square. Now, when are we gettin’ started?”

“As soon as you’re ready.” He kept that smile. “I must warn you, since you challenged me, it’s only customary for me to decide the order. And I have prepared.”

“Alright, fine, I know what Pokemon you’ve got. Just… lemme…” He whipped out his phone and started recording, holding it out in front of him to his audience. “Yo, Vullies! We gotta mad sitch here. My beef with Nil’s reached mad heights, and we’re havin’ a grudge match to decide who becomes top dog around here!”

He continued to brag about how his Pokemon would come out on top. It seemed like he was making a point of this, perhaps for the ‘clout’ as he called it. Trevor’s voice was completely phony, along with his movements as he made devil horns with his hands and showed off his bling. It seemed to convince his followers though since they cheered for him.

“Is he always like this?” Isobel asked Bronze.

“Yes, unfortunately,” he replied.

“Oh shut it, don’t ruin the spirit of this match!” Raboot said.

Compared to Trevor though, Nil seemed a lot more genuine. He didn’t start bragging to the fans on his side or gloating about his riches. At first, Isobel wished she was on Nil’s side instead. Then a cold sweat trickled through her. How strong were his Pokemon if he wasn’t showing them off?

Once Trevor stopped showboating in front of the Snap, Nil answered that question as he released a Drizzile. The water type looked to Nil with reverence, and he returned it by stroking his neck.

“First,” he said, “against your Raboot.”

Great, a type disadvantage from the start. Trevor grunted, though he kept his cool and grinned. “I expected that would happen. She’ll run circles around your lizard.”

“Suck on a Muk, you smelly human!” Drizzile said, which fell on deaf ears. Despite this, Nil seemed to understand the sentiment as he patted him on the back.

“Don’t let him rile you up, just focus on the battle.”

He gave him a thumbs up, and Drizzile entered the fray as he faced Raboot.

The first match, predictably, ended in loss, though this told Isobel a lot about Trevor’s training style. He stubbornly commanded Raboot to throw fire attacks at the opponent despite her severe disadvantage. Raboot was happy to carry out her trainer’s orders even though there were multiple opportunities she could’ve stopped. She could’ve dodged quite a few of the attacks, but had to face the bubbles when Trevor insisted she attack anyway. She ignored any attempt by Isobel to coach her, even when she drank from the fire hose in more ways than one.

“Well, we’re doomed,” Bronze said, sadly swishing his tail.

“No, we’re not,” Isobel said, kneeling down to his level. “Not if you’re willing to listen to my advice.”

“But how can you?” He looked to Trevor, who swore at each moment Raboot got hit. “He’s still my trainer.”

“Well, I’ve worked around it before, and it’s fine as long as you work around the rules. You can follow your own rules if you’re confident enough that it’ll hit.”

“But…” Bronze sank to the floor. “I’m… I’m not.”

She had no reply for this. As Raboot fainted, Nil withdrew his Drizzile and smiled. “Well, 1-0. I hope your Thievul can compare.”

“Shut it.” Trevor stomped his foot on the turf, signalling Bronze to come to his side. Isobel expected him to give a pep talk, but Trevor just pointed to the arena, leaving Bronze to enter the fray on his own. As he walked, his tail dragged behind him on the floor.

Next up on the opponent’s team, a Frosmoth, whose presence spread a bitter cold that nipped at Isobel’s face. Bronze was lucky he had fur covering him, but not so lucky that his Dark typing was paired up against Bug. She predicted it would’ve turned out the same as the last fight if she just stood there and watched. At least Dark moves stood a chance against Bug, though she didn’t question the logic behind Bug being super-effective against it.

The fight started with no bells or whistles, and Trevor commanded Bronze to swipe forward with a sucker punch. Frosmoth seemed big enough to make an easy target if it wasn’t for her wings. She flew up and peppered the arena with shards of ice, which formed slippery puddles on the floor. Isobel facepalmed as Bronze slid across the surface. Trevor started swearing, then pulled himself together.

“Get up! Get up!” he shouted. “Go around the ice and try again!”

Frosmoth didn’t even give Bronze a sporting chance. She flew up, beating her wings to cast clouds around it. Then, she disappeared. Bronze stood still, trying to find heads or tails of his opponent.

Then, the whole arena went misty, covering Nil and the other half of the audience. Isobel crossed one pair of arms, trying to shield herself from the cold.

“J-just,” Trevor chattered, “j-just go in there, slash at anythin’ that moves! Do it!”

Bronze cocked his head at Trevor.

“Just do it, you—”

Bronze whimpered and flung himself into the misty fray. Crap, this was bad. All Isobel saw was Bronze flailing wildly at nothing, as if batting at the mist would’ve made it disappear. But where was the Frosmoth?

“Now!”

Frosmoth emerged and planted her fangs into Bronze’s shoulder. He screamed, slipping and sliding as he tried to shake off the biting bug.

Isobel’s heart sank. It was never pleasant to see a teammate go through such pain for their trainer, or be on the receiving end of it herself. But this… what was this even for? Some guy’s attempt to get imaginary internet points?

She shook her head, snapping her out of her daze. Frosmoth had backed away at least, though it left Bronze with a slight limp as he walked to his trainer for the next move. Trevor was about to open that stupid trap again. She couldn’t let that happen.

“Hey!” she called in her own tongue. Bronze glanced at her, followed by a glare from Trevor. She didn’t care what his reaction would be as long as the other side didn’t see what was going on. It’s not like Trevor would’ve understood anyway. “Ignore that dunderhead, just follow my lead.”

Bronze frowned. “B-but—”

“Play along for now, but listen out for my commands as well.”

“C’mon, Bronze!” Trevor yelled, “just go back in there and keep attackin’!”

Bronze looked to Isobel once more and nodded, entering the arena. He stood still, awaiting her advice.

“Listen out for the Frosmoth. You’re not gonna get anywhere if you just go in blindly. She’ll probably want to bite you again. Once she gets close, bite her back, then see if you can plant your scent on her.”

“Don’t just stand there,” Trevor interrupted, “sicc that moth!”

Bronze glared at his trainer, then stuck his tongue out at him before turning back to focus on the battle, ears perked up.

“Hey,” Trevor growled, wagging a finger at Isobel, “what the hell are you playin’ at?”

Isobel made a mouth-zipping motion and shrugged. Trevor’s face scrunched up even more at that, though she ignored him for now. Bronze laid still. His tail lightly swished behind him as he listened out for his opponent. Then a wing beat. His ears twitched. Then, he leapt forward, swiping at Frosmoth.

It hit, knocking her to the floor. Trevor stopped staring daggers at Isobel and watched as Bronze pounced on Frosmoth, trying to get a bite in. She pelted him in the face with a bit of snow and flew off again, disappearing into the mist. However, Bronze didn’t stop, correctly picking out her position and swiping at her with another successful hit.

“It’s working!” he shouted gleefully. Isobel smirked at that as Trevor stepped back. Perhaps that put him in his place.

The mist weakened and Frosmoth could no longer hide behind the arena’s environment. She reverted to her original strategy of covering the floor with ice as Bronze tried to get another hit. Instead of sliding across the floor like before, though, he dug his claws into the ice, using the traction to slow down.

Incredible. She didn’t even have to coach him that time; that initial spark was all he needed to carry the match on his own. Adjusting his trajectory, Bronze leapt for the Frosmoth, using the ice to generate more speed.

“Change of plans,” Nil yelled. “Bug Buzz!”

“Cover your ears!” Isobel yelled as she covered hers. Bronze flopped onto the ice as he pawed at his ears, but he was already close to the Frosmoth.

They screeched, making everyone else in the arena flinch at the cacophony. It lasted for a few seconds, then stopped to Isobel’s relief, but not to Bronze. As he got up, he wobbled from side to side, struggling to keep himself standing. If her own ears were ringing at that, she couldn’t have imagined what it was like for Bronze.

Trevor didn’t have any insightful comments this time, not that he was a wellspring of good ideas, instead using the opportunity to record the battle with his phone. Frosmoth was flying straight towards Bronze. Crap. Crap crap crap.

Despite his weakened state, Bronze started running, using the slippery ice to gain speed. His movements were erratic; it was a wonder he didn’t slip again. In response, Frosmoth darted side to side, throwing him off even more. Isobel knew what he was trying to do, though it would’ve taken some luck for Bronze to pull off. The two got closer. Two big Pokemon about to collide with one another. Bronze raised his paw, spun in the air, and threw a sucker punch at Frosmoth’s fuzzy body.

It hit, knocking her to the wall on the other side. She had no strength left to fly anymore. And with that, she laid still as Nil went to comfort her. Unlike his opponent, Trevor didn’t join in to celebrate his Pokemon’s well earned victory. He turned the phone to the rest of the arena and started recording again.

“Wasn’t that badass, my Vullies? Don’t mess with T-Vul, y’all!”

Unbelievable. Isobel’s hands twitched, tempted to snatch the phone off him and seismic toss it into the sky. Not congratulating Bronze was bad enough, but Trevor taking all the credit? It was exactly why she left to get away from this nonsense.

“H-hey,” Bronze said, snapping Isobel out of her funk. She knelt down to stroke his head.

“Sorry you got roughed up out there,” she said, glaring at the clout-chasing trainer, “and all for that guy.”

“I know.” He rested his head on her knee, happily taking the ear scritches. “But this is the first match I’ve won in ages, so, thanks. You’re a good coach.”

Not that she did much in the grand scheme of things, but she smiled and patted his head. “Anytime.”

Bronze sat out on the other end of the arena. Now it was Isobel’s turn to join in the fun. And just in time for Trevor to stop recording on that lame phone of his and come up to her.

“Look, whatever you tried to pull with him, knock it off with this next match. I’m your trainer, you follow my lead.”

He wasn’t her trainer. If her lips weren’t sealed, she would’ve swore at him. She had a few human curses up her sleeve. But she relented and nodded. This would be her ticket to her paycheck.

With a sigh, she entered the arena, waiting for Nil to draw out the next Pokemon. Before the battle started, however, Isobel gave Bronze a thumbs up, who smiled for once. That cheer spread to her.

This didn’t last as the final foe emerged: a Hatterene. The entire crowd fell silent at her release, and Isobel gasped. Even Trevor stood in stunned silence, and without a phone in his hand this time.

Hatterene weren’t the kind to be messed around with if the Pokedex wasn’t just a bald-faced lie. She had the psychic potency of an Alakazam, the emotion-detecting senses of a Lucario, and the wrath of a Gyarados. Even after all the battles she faced before, Isobel gulped at the sight of this emotionless banshee. Oh, wait, couldn’t she have detected fear as well? Now what?

Hatterene smiled. “I can see you’re anxious. Good, because I can see through your lies.” Before Isobel could respond, the Hatterene levitated to her trainer’s side and waved a tentacle to the audience. “My name is Admirari. Not to worry, everyone. My trainer has taught me a lot about how to regulate my emotions. Isn’t that right, Nil?”

She spoke as well? With that, the crowd dropped any sign of emotional restraint as they started talking amongst themselves. Trevor just started filming. “What, my opponent’s a talkin’ Hatterene? What’s up with that, my Vullies?!”

Unbe-freaking-lievable.
 
Last edited:

Pen

"the cat is mightier than the pen"
Thought this one-shot would be a good chance to check out your work! Obligatory disclaimer that I still have not played Sword/Shield and had to google every pokemon in this except the machamp. (The Galar pokemon look actually slightly decent? I'm kind of amazed.) I read up on the pokejob mechanic, and hoo boy that raises some questions. So trainers go around profiting off their pokemon's labor, not even battles, but random stuff like making them deliver mail?

The world you've depicted here I find hard to conceptualize as anything but a slave society, which is a bit hard to digest in a fic with a fairly light-hearted tone. Isobel is a free or independent pokemon, but her former trainer seems to act as her legal guardian? Pokemon are known to be sentient but are owned by people? There's definitely hints of Isobel being annoyed her trainer has to vouch for her and upset at being told not to talk, but like, this is such a messed up situation, that it's hard for me to get too invested in the outcome of the influencer battle or the idea that Isobel is a better battle coach than the horrible influencer boy.

The influencer world is well-drawn. Trevor basically being able to buy fans 'cause he's rich and can post expensive things rings true. I did find his battling incompetence a little over the top, with things like "doesn't know that commanding endless fire attacks against a water-type is a bad idea."

Isobel's a sympathetic main character. I like her gruff, matter-of-a-fact tone and commitment to living her own life. The idioms sometimes bogged things down for me or didn't entirely land (see line comments below.) Her relationship with her former trainer comes off as realistically awkward and ambivalent.

Considering this as a two-shot, I'm not sure what resolution to expect. I really don't care who wins this battle. It seems unlikely Trevor will come round to recognizing Isobel's person-hood and skills, but I guess miracles can happen. If Trevor's pokemon wanted to be independent, would they even have that option??

Anyway, it's a very interesting premise. I think I'm a bit caught up in the fridge-horror of it all, though. Interested to see where you take it!

Line-by-line comments:

The second hand was scratching her head. The third one held a bowl of Lucario’s cereal. The fourth hastily shovelled spoonfuls of oats and chocolate chips into her mouth.
"Scratched" would be a little better here, for the parallelism, I think. I was confused by 'Lucario's cereal.' I assume Lucario is the room-mate but as far as I can tell the character never actually appears and more importantly, if Lucario is Isobel's roommate, why doesn't Isobel call them by their name?

it read ‘hey, your rent’s late dummy, go earn that cheddar’.
Should be: it read, "Hey, your rent's late, dummy, go earn that cheddar." Period always goes inside the quotes. First letter of new dialogue (even if it's not technically dialogue) always capitalized and led into through punctuation, usually a comma.

She was already doing one to keep herself at bay, so what else could she find to fill the void?
I don't think "keep herself at bay" is the expression you want here. Keep herself afloat, maybe?

There were a lot of creative jobs, though she never considered herself one of those artsy-fartsy types.
This reads a little strangely to me. I think you want "but" instead of"though" here.

She didn’t want to get back into fighting as a last resort, but when that thought struck her mind, it filled her with a certain urge.
I found this hard to parse. I don't get what role "as a last resort" is playing in the sentence. It makes it sound like she's fine with getting back into fighting, it's just "getting back into fighting as a last resort" she doesn't want. The phrases "that thought" and "a certain urge" are pretty vague here.

But she didn’t move away from the training lifestyle for nothing.

But eh, screw it.
There's like three buts in a row here, which is normally a sign that the decision-making process isn't being given the time it needs. It gives a ping-ponging effect, and makes her decision feel out of nowhere. I think some rationale is needed here. Like: "True, she'd abandoned the training lifestyle for a reason. But this was just a single battle. She could do a single battle. Maybe it would even be fun.

Isobel stared at her phone for another minute. Screw it, she decided. I'm in."

They left no room for their opponent to breathe since they manoeuvred each strand of hair with purpose to trap them, then bunched up their coat for the finishing blow. Even if every move was calculated, the Grimmsnarl still injected his own personality into the fight as he whooped and hollered with each movement. It was infectious, which reflected in the way Isobel flung the sign up in the air and caught it.
Typo: maneuvered. I'm a bit confused by the idea of injecting personality into the fight. Whooping and hollering seem to be signs the Grimmsnarl is enjoying the fight. That doesn't seem to be in contradiction with the moves being calculated.

Still not easy meat by any means.
This expression struck me as odd. Are machamp meat-eaters? Seems to imply a weird carnivorous intent.

Her movements were calculated like the Grimmsnarl, yet cold. She had rehearsed them many times before. Her face tried to hide emotion, but occasionally, even when she had the upper hand, she’d frown. By the end of the fight, the Machamp just stared back at her trainer with hollow eyes. She won, but the victory wasn’t hers, it was her trainer’s.
So the first and third sentences emphasize Isobel's coldness, emptiness ie lack of emotion as the problem. But the middle sentence emphasizes her not being able to hide her emotions as the problem. So that contradicted for me.

one gracious arc
Don't think gracious was the word you wanted here?

Just to make sure, she counted them individually, which all checked out.
What is 'which' modifying? Think that last clause needs rewording.

“Pay it no mind,” the clerk said, smirking at her own joke. The Indeedee gave her an odd look for that one.
The Indeedee comes out of nowhere here. I'd want some context. What is it doing? What's its relationship to the clerk? Unless this is one of those things that's clear to anyone who's played SS.

Not the ‘gym’, but the ‘gym’ gym, where she could just exercise and not have to worry about battling on the way.
This seems like a needless ambiguity. In a world where Gym refers to places where badges are won, it seems logical that 'place where humans and pokemon exercise' would have a different name. Dojo? Sport hall? etc

Did it count as being naked if they had pants on, even if it was made of their own skin?
So this is always what confuses me in 'pokemon live like humans' settings. What does clothing mean to them? How do they conceptualize nakedness?

Also, this question of the machokes' nakedness doesn't seem organic to the narrator, it seems like it's being posed from a more meta-perspective. Presumably Isobel has thought on what nakedness means in her own evolutionary line, on whether clothes should be worn, and what not. How could she not?

Gloria was her referee in case she couldn’t have forked it up.
I can't parse this.

his clothes were as plain as day.
Weird simile when he's dressed all in black? Plain as night, maybe.

Can’t blame a Mon for trying.
Don't want to get too far down the capitalization rabbit-hole but I don't see why Mon should be capitalized here. You'd say "Can't blame a guy for trying" or "Can't blame a gal for trying"not "Can't blame a Gal for trying."

that jerk finds out I hired you, he’ll call the bet off.
He was posting on a publicly available job exchange app, though, and he's a non-obscure person. Is it really reasonable to expect that to pass under the radar?

From the flowers planted along the pavement paths to the looks of the buildings themselves that gave the city a timeless feel,
Think this could use a bit more specificity. What about the buildings gives them a timeless feel? What kind of flowers? More concrete details would make Isobel feel more rooted in the city.

She knew she couldn’t speak, but she might as well have humoured herself.
This reads confusingly. I think it's a tense issue? Should be "She knew she couldn't speak, but she might as well humor herself." Though maybe "wasn't supposed to speak" whether than "couldn't." Obviously she can speak.

“Psst,” she whispered, “what’s it like being a Snapper?”

“Ew, no, that’s not what we call ourselves,” he said. “But eh. I only have a few followers.”
Hah, this was cute.

4 moves only. Well, moves in the loosest sense. Outside the league matches, the move limit was only a suggestion, and moves were just a combination of commands rather than something a Pokemon merely forgot.
I don't think you need this. It drifts into that tricky space of trying to justify game limitations.

that’s when Raboot turned and sneered at the Machamp.
Why "the Machamp" here and not "Isobel"? Makes it seem like we've switched out of her close third POV for one sentence.

This guy wore colourful garbs
Garb is equivalent to 'clothing,' it can't be pluralized.

got asked to leave on account of alcohol being illegal for Pokemon to consume
But Isobel mentions drinking a lot? Just how illegal are we talking? illegal to consume in bars, to buy, to own, or to consume at all?

“Yo, Vullies! We gotta mad sitch here. My beef with Nil’s reached mad heights, and we’re havin’ a grudge match to decide who becomes top dog around here!”
omg. The horrible influencer speak is on-point.

It seemed to convince his followers though since they cheered for him.
Punctuation: "It seemed to convince his followers, though, since they cheered for him."

“Suck on a Muk, you smelly human!” Drizzile said, which fell on deaf ears. Despite this, Nil seemed to understand the sentiment as he patted him on the back.
I liked this sequence. Does a good job of conveying that Nil is the better trainer without explicitly saying it.

Raboot was happy to carry out her trainer’s orders even though there were multiple opportunities she could’ve stopped.
This doesn't make sense to me. Stopped what? Stopped an opportunity? What does that mean?

He stubbornly commanded Raboot to throw fire attacks at the opponent despite her severe disadvantage.
I'm not sure I find Trevor's level of incompetence convincing. Everyone in pokeworld knows fire is weak to water. So what gives? Unless his influencer brand is that he loses battles horribly. And his relationship with his fans is that they dunk on him. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

As he walked, his tail dragged behind him on the floor.
This does a great job depicting Bronze's mood without resorting to any adjectives like dejected. The mood is clear from the physicality alone.

whose presence spread a bitter cold that nipped at Isobel’s face.
Hm, I get some dissonance between "spread" and "nipped" here. Maybe separate out? Or focus more on impact -- Isobel flinched at the sudden chill.

She predicted it would’ve turned out the same as the last fight if she just stood there and watched.
Tense issue here. Would've implies it's already happened. You're going for the subjunctive, though. Should be 'She predicted it would turn out the same as the last fight.'

At least Dark moves stood a chance against Bug, though she didn’t question the logic behind Bug being super-effective against it.
Again, this feels a little meta. In-world, these typing things don't have logic, they just are.

The fight started with no bells or whistles, and Trevor commanded Bronze to swipe forward with a sucker punch. Frosmoth seemed big enough to make an easy target if it wasn’t for her wings. She flew up and peppered the arena with shards of ice, which formed slippery puddles on the floor. Isobel facepalmed as Bronze slid across the surface. Trevor started swearing, then pulled himself together.
This battle has more of a summary feel. I don't get a sense of action or of inhabiting the moment of the battle. What does it mean for a battle to start off "with no bells and whistles"? That's a vague idea that's hard to picture. What would a battle starting with bells and whistles look like?

Having the first sentence of the battle be after an "and" also takes away from the momentum of it.

Shards of ice becomes slippery puddles -- they melted that fast? And if the floor is wet, I think "slipping" is more the word. Glide implies an iced-over surface to me.

"Facepalm" is one of those anime short-hands that I don't think survives too well in narrative writing.

what was this even for? Some guy’s attempt to get imaginary internet points?
Yeah, this all seems really cruel and sad.

Bronze laid still. His tail lightly swished behind him as he listened out for his opponent. Then a wing beat. His ears twitched. Then, he leapt forward, swiping at Frosmoth.
This style is a lot more effective for depicting battling! A few minor things: laid should be 'lay' though why is he lying down?

"Then a wing beat" doesn't quite work -- I assume Bronze is hearing the wing beat, so the focus should be on his external reaction to it, since we're not in his head.

As in: "Bronze stood still, listening. His tail lightly swished behind him. Then his ears twitched. He leaped forward, just as the frosmoth emerged from the mist."

It hit, knocking her to the floor.
Not clear what "it" refers to here.

It hit, knocking her to the wall on the other side.
Bit of repetition on the sentence structure level you might want to watch.

You’re a good coach.”
I'm curious--can pokemon coach other pokemon? Why not have all pokemon teams? Even if it's banned in tournaments, seems like it could be a hit online.

“What, my opponent’s a talkin’ Hatterene? What’s up with that, my Vullies?!”

Unbe-freaking-lievable.
😅
 

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
I like the opening a lot — hands, hands, hands.
Lucario’s cereal.
This threw me though. On first read, I thought there was a lucario friend nearby, not that it was the brand name. Maybe Lucari-O’s.
too obvious a choice for a Pokemon with four arms
This argument didn’t ring true for me when she’s worried about qualifying for jobs at all.

It would be nice to spend some time exploring why she would put up with “rent and other human things” at all instead of returning to the wild. What’s the draw for her?

Dig through the city’s trash and you can find anything as long as you put the elbow grease in to fix it, and Isobel had plenty to spare.
Nice character moment.

And she loved almost every minute of it.
The “almost” made me think the next line was going to be a conflict.

technically, she could’ve said she was doing research for another job.
Still could get in trouble at the current job by that logic though — not convinced by that argument.

Still not easy meat by any means.
The meaning of this line was muddled for me.

coaxing human words out of her inhuman tongue.
Suggestion: shaping the human word carefully with her inhuman mouth.

Gloria was her referee in case she couldn’t have forked it up.
Wordy here, and I’m not sure about referee. Co-signer? In case she couldn’t fork it up.
she sounded more like a monster than a Machamp
This feels like too big of a concept to toss out casually. What’s the distinction for her?

and his Pokemon which he also sometimes dressed in designer wear
Missing comma after “which.”

Raboot just walked as is
“As is” doesn’t seem right to me.

Suck on a muk is great though!

though she didn’t question the logic behind Bug being super-effective against it.
Too meta!

The fight started with no bells or whistles, and Trevor commanded Bronze to swipe forward with a sucker punch. Frosmoth seemed big enough to make an easy target if it wasn’t for her wings. She flew up and peppered the arena with shards of ice, which formed slippery puddles on the floor. Isobel facepalmed as Bronze slid across the surface. Trevor started swearing, then pulled himself together.
I think this passage could be expanded and/or reworded. Like, I don’t think Isobel facepalming is actually happening simultaneously with Bronze sliding. I think he slides and then she reacts. Because battles are so cause and effect, I avoid words like “as” and “while” as much as possible in my battle scenes. I was also initially confused by the wings comment, because they’re big and make her more of a target, potentially. I also think the sentences starting with Isobel and Trevor should be broken out into their own paragraphs, because they’re the “speaker” or focus in those lines.

plant your scent on her.
I was confused by this. Is this meant to be... sweet scent, to lower her evasion?

Bronze laid still. His tail lightly swished behind him as he listened out for his opponent. Then a wing beat. His ears twitched. Then, he leapt forward, swiping at Frosmoth.
The pacing in this passage was much more effective!

She knelt down to stroke his head.
This is a weird power move. She’s not treating him like a peer.

if the Pokedex wasn’t just a bald-faced lie.
This made me wonder where Isobel came from before her life with Gloria. Did she ever live in the wild? What does she know of other Pokémon. It feels out of character to me that she’d trust the Pokédex... and then it does again feel a little too meta.

My trainer has taught me a lot about how to regulate my emotions.
Even with the Pokédex jab, this was a little unclear. I wasn’t under the impression that the hatterene line has trouble controlling itself but that it dislikes shows of emotion.

I‘ve got one more question for you to consider: would Isobel have been paid if Bronze had lost, or only if their team wins? It’s not quite clear if that’s part of the agreement or not.

Man, I hope Bronze manages to get away from that trainer... except that he would probably be stressed out about rent then too? Yikes, lose/lose.
 

Negrek

Head Over Heels
Staff
I've seen your posts about this on Discord, so it's cool to actually get to read the published story! The Poké Jobs system is a really interesting idea to explore in fanfiction, since it's presented so straight-up and matter-of-factly in the games, but when you actually think about how it would work in the context of the world, it's definitely very... hmmm. So it'll be fun to see where you go with it!

I'm not planning to focus much on sentence-level stuff here, since you say this is more of a test run and I imagine you'll be changing a lot at the sentence level as part of your own revisions anyhow. I did notice a fair number of what to me were odd turns of phrase, many of which Pen pointed out in her review. I'm not sure whether some of them might be Britishisms I'm not familiar with, but they did give me pause.

Machamp is a fun species for a protagonist, and not one that gets a lot of love. Some of my favorite parts are where Isobel's simply interacting with the human world in a machamp-y way: spinning her sign while still being able to hold her phone, exercising two of her arms while talking on the phone... Okay, so maybe she mostly takes advantage of the extra arms to be glued to her phone all the time, but who wouldn't, given the opportunity? The opening image in the story, where she's got something going on with all four arms at once, is quite striking and one of my favorites in the story so far. In general it's so rare to see a pokémon without a trainer but also living in a city rather than out in the wilds somewhere, and I enjoy how you just play with how pokémon might live in a human-dominated environment without directly being associated with one.

I was kind of surprised that Isobel finds such slim pickings in terms of poké-jobs. Like, machamp are so physically strong, it seems like there should pretty much always be a big pool of construction/demolition/just plain hauling heavy stuff from place to place sort of positions out there. I would understand Isobel not particularly wanting to take something like that, but that sort of work not even being available feels off to me.

Trevor felt a little cartoonishly terrible for my tastes. Like, not only is he a dick to Isobel, he's a repellant sort of "influencer" and godawful at battling and not very bright. I almost think this scenario would be more effective if Trevor was a fairly average dude but having to fight for him still sucked because he was just so bad at battling, or on the flip side was a repellant influencer type but actually quite good at commanding his pokémon, so it sucks to fight for him even though he's competent, or even that he's just generally a decent sort, but the situation still sucks because Isobel has to do something she doesn't much enjoy and put up with someone ordering her around because she doesn't have a lot of options, depending on the final tone/message you wanted to achieve. One of the things I found most interesting about the story and wanted to hear more about was Isobel's life with Gloria and what it was, exactly, that made her want to strike out on her own. She obviously found battling unfulfilling even when she was winning, and perhaps not for reasons she really understood herself, and I would love to learn a little more about what life was like as Gloria for a trainer and see how having to fight for Trevor brings some of those feelings back to the surface, which I imagine we'll be seeing a bit of in the next chapter. One way or another, Isobel's whole life situation already sucks right now, the poké job situation sucks, and as a result I think it might be more effective for you to pull back a little on Trevor's characterization so he feels depressing in a more realistic way, in the same way that the rest of Isobel's predicament is. My favorite moment with Trevor is the one where he waves off his follower count as being no big deal; from the rest of his characterization I would have expected him to be jumping at every opportunity to hold himself up as interesting and exceptional, so this moment of relative self-awareness is an intriguing departure from his usual behavior.

Right now my guess is that this story's headed towards Isobel realizing she really enjoys being a coach and perhaps her thinking about trying to go in that direction with her life, and then either taking steps towards making that happen or realizing that it's totally unrealistic because pokémon aren't allowed to do that, depending on whether you're going for hopeful or total downer ending. I'm curious to see how Nil might play into the story's resolution, since he's been set up as a foil to Trevor. And that talking hatterene... Not really sure what to expect from her, but there's a lot of potential for fun in psychic-type attacks, and like I said, I'll be curious to see how Isobel handles things now that she's the one in the arena.

I quite like Isobel as a lead character, too. She has the air of a twentysomething just trying to make her way in the world, and in a lot of ways her struggles are relatable, for all that she has four arms and could punch me into the sun. I'll do my best to catch the second half of this two-shot!
 

Cresselia92

Bug Catcher
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Hey there, Nebby! I've been meaning to review a story of yours for quite some time, and what's better story to pick than your latest one? ;)

So, time to tackle this tale about a Machamp dealing with real problems.

It had only been a month since she had moved into a place of her own. Though the teachers did their best to educate her on all these human responsibilities, rent was something that slipped past her this time. She had saved up a bit from various other jobs when she wasn’t spending it on booze, but would that be enough to cover the rest?
Booze? I wonder if this is because she loves alcohol or because she is trying to drown her problems. 🤔

Probably she just loves the taste of wine, beer and all that stuff.

“Huh,” she thought out loud. She didn’t want to get back into fighting as a last resort, but when that thought struck her mind, it filled her with a certain urge. She enjoyed fighting: it was the one place she could let out her frustrations without being put in handcuffs. But she didn’t move away from the training lifestyle for nothing.
Kinda surprised that there isn't some place where Trainer-less Pokémon can fight. Unless town Pokémon are forced to beat up wild Pokémon in the Wild Area? That has the potential of opening a can of Wurmple: imagine a Pokémon originally belonging to a Champion attacking some wild Pokémon just to enjoy the thrill of battles. That would become scary very fast.

shorts (because they were comfy and easy to wear)
*reference intensifies*

Speaking of which, Isobel surfed from video to video. One was a highlight reel of a famous Pokemon-trainer duo whose Grimmsnarl carried the whole match. She always found that hairy sweat mop gross, but their fighting prowess was admirable.
Ah, is that a nod toward Grimmsnarl's dex entry? It's a cool nod. :)

“Hey,” one kid said, dragging her out of her headspace. Isobel looked down at the tyke who wore a Pokeball belt and a hat with a crudely drawn badge on it. She could tell he wanted to be a contender.

“Yeah?” she said, coaxing human words out of her inhuman tongue.

“Can you do that trick again?” He gave a toothy smile. “That was cool.”

Isobel tucked her phone into her pockets and gave him a thumbs up. “You got it, kid.”

Isobel poured all her attention into the sign for a few energetic spins, then with one gracious arc, launched it up into the air, higher than the building she stood in front of, and caught it. Seeing that kid smile again filled the void in her heart. That was her own little victory.
Oh my gosh! This was a really cute moment. ^^

Nope, her phone vibrated just as she positioned her arms on the weights. From the ringtone of the Pokemon anime’s first opening, she knew who it was. Eh, whatever, it would be nice to talk to her again and she could multitask.

“Hey,” she said, using her back pair of arms to push the press behind her. “What’s up?”

“Oh, er…” her trainer Gloria said. “Just wanted to know if you’ve settled in yet.”

(...)

“I know, I know, I wasn’t implying that.” She sighed that familiar sigh. She might as well have been tutting at her. “But, well, I’m sure you’ll do fine. You can use me as a reference if the guy asks where you came from. Bye.”
Hmm... Okay, one thing here. I really wish we got to know more about what Gloria is doing. Like, is she still training Pokémon? What do Isobel's former teammates think about her departure? Are they sad? Angry? Or supportive?

It would be good to explore more of that angle, to see the true extent of Isobel's decision and how/if her choice affected her teammates in a meaningful way.

There he was, dressed from head to toe in black designer gear, plus a golden chain hanging by his neck. He was as scrawny as a Scraggy, though he looked like he was made of money even though his clothes were as plain as day. And who wore all-black in the summer?
To be fair, I'm not sure if designer clothing could be considered "plain" of all things. I'd focus on another side of that, like being annoyed on the fact that some humans love to exhibit they economic status and have enough money to waste on "overpriced" stuff while she has to work to get what she needs to live.

A comparison like that could further add to the conflicts between her and her "trainer".

“Both of them are such jerks,” Thievul said.

“I can tell,” she said. “Name’s Isobel.”

“Bronze. So you’re really here on your own? That’s cool.”
I feel sorry for Bronze already. Though, if he is mistreated by his Trainer and fellow teammate, then what's stopping him from just leaving? If he afraid of not being able to find another roof over his head?

“Huh.” Not another peep from him, which struck Isobel as weird, but oh well. That was the least of her concerns as the team entered the rented arena.
Oh, wait. This struck me as interesting. Maybe Bronze actually considered leaving (but couldn't)? Or perhaps he had some bad experience?

The first match, predictably, ended in loss, though this told Isobel a lot about Trevor’s training style. He stubbornly commanded Raboot to throw fire attacks at the opponent despite her severe disadvantage. Raboot was happy to carry out her trainer’s orders even though there were multiple opportunities she could’ve stopped. She could’ve dodged quite a few of the attacks, but had to face the bubbles when Trevor insisted she attack anyway. She ignored any attempt by Isobel to coach her, even when she drank from the fire hose in more ways than one.
Same Trainer, same Pokémon, I see.

“J-just,” Trevor chattered, “j-just go in there, slash at anythin’ that moves! Do it!”

Bronze cocked his head at Trevor.

“Just do it, you—”
Okay, I'm seriously starting to wonder how old this Trevor is. That kind of "attack, attack, attack" makes me think that he is, like, twelve or something. I used to scream stuff like that at around that age, too. :p

Whic wouldn't bee too weird, really. I've seen kids around that age who have followers on social media and stuff. I mean, they don't have cars, but again...

1590179736472.jpeg

This fellow shouldn't have a car, either. :p Inb4, Gary is the anime version of Trevor, or Trevor took some lessons from the anime.

Bronze glared at his trainer, then stuck his tongue out at him before turning back to focus on the battle, ears perked up.

“Hey,” Trevor growled, wagging a finger at Isobel, “what the hell are you playin’ at?”

Isobel made a mouth-zipping motion and shrugged.
I mean, you told her to stay quiet. So, she's staying quiet. :p

“It’s working!” he shouted gleefully. Isobel smirked at that as Trevor stepped back. Perhaps that put him in his place.
Kek. That moment in which a Pokémon is better at Pokémon training than an actual Trainer.

It hit, knocking her to the wall on the other side. She had no strength left to fly anymore. And with that, she laid still as Nil went to comfort her. Unlike his opponent, Trevor didn’t join in to celebrate his Pokemon’s well earned victory. He turned the phone to the rest of the arena and started recording again.

“Wasn’t that badass, my Vullies? Don’t mess with T-Vul, y’all!”
Can... Can someone just punch him in the face?

Unbelievable. Isobel’s hands twitched, tempted to snatch the phone off him and seismic toss it into the sky. Not congratulating Bronze was bad enough, but Trevor taking all the credit? It was exactly why she left to get away from this nonsense.
I mean, from the little I've gathered from the convo with Gloria, I think it wasn't that bad.

...Or it was that bad and Gloria became a better person after Isobel left?

“Look, whatever you tried to pull with him, knock it off with this next match. I’m your trainer, you follow my lead.”
Oh, right, because your instructions during the first match-up worked sooo well, didn't they?

This didn’t last as the final foe emerged: a Hatterene. The entire crowd fell silent at her release, and Isobel gasped. Even Trevor stood in stunned silence, and without a phone in his hand this time.

Hatterene weren’t the kind to be messed around with if the Pokedex wasn’t just a bald-faced lie. She had the psychic potency of an Alakazam, the emotion-detecting senses of a Lucario, and the wrath of a Gyarados. Even after all the battles she faced before, Isobel gulped at the sight of this emotionless banshee. Oh, wait, couldn’t she have detected fear as well? Now what?

Hatterene smiled. “I can see you’re anxious. Good, because I can see through your lies.” Before Isobel could respond, the Hatterene levitated to her trainer’s side and waved a tentacle to the audience. “My name is Admirari. Not to worry, everyone. My trainer has taught me a lot about how to regulate my emotions. Isn’t that right, Nil?”

She spoke as well? With that, the crowd dropped any sign of emotional restraint as they started talking amongst themselves. Trevor just started filming. “What, my opponent’s a talkin’ Hatterene? What’s up with that, my Vullies?!”
This... sounds like bad news, huh? Very bad news.

Unbe-freaking-lievable.
Hmm... it may be just me, but I find "un-freaking-believable" easier to pronounce. The "nglie" part is a bit tongue-twisty.

So, time for general thoughts!

I've got to say that I really like Isobel. She is a relatable character with very real problems, and seeing her struggles with finding the case to pay the rent go straight at home. You have mentioned a few things that led her to leaving the world of trained Pokémon behind, which I hope you will expand more in the next part.

Also, I really liked how you integrated and fleshed out the PokéJobs system. I agree that it was a missed opportunity in the games, so I really appreciated the expansion here. It gives more... life to Galar, I'd say.

Though, as I have mentioned earlier, I wish we got to see more about Gloria and the true extent of how her performance and behavior as a Trainer has impacted Isobel and made her leave. I'm sure there is more behind that than what we have seen on the first part.

Regarding other characters, I wonder if Trevor will learn something from this experience. A part of me thinks that no, he won't learn his lesson and will keep being a shallow character until the end. Bittersweet ending? Heh, well, these kinds of people don't usually get swayed by one thing not going their ways, I reckon, so i could see him staying mostly unchanged. At most, maybe he will drop some of his more jerkish acts? *shrugs*

All in all, this was a pleasant read, and I'll eagerly look forward the next part.

See you next time! ^^
 
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