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Pokémon The Curious and the Shiny (On-Hiatus, continued on FFN)

NebulaDreams

Well-known member
Accolades:
2018 Serebii Fanfiction Forum Awards

Won:

(Tied 1st) Best Pokémon Chaptered Fic (Established Author)
Best Character Dynamic - Curio and Shine
Best Pokémon-Centric

Nominated:
Best Plot
Best Setting
Funniest Character - Curio

Part 1:

The Chase Arc


1. Dendemille's Daredevil
2. Dendemille's Pests
3. Dendemille's Dealer
4. Dendemille's Brawlers, Part 1
5. Dendemille's Brawlers, Part 2
6. Dendemille's Riders

7. Interlude - Ambrette's Teachers
8. Interlude - Ambrette's Subjects

The Island Arc

9. Oh Wait, We're Recording?
10. My First Weird Encounter
11. Bottoms Up, Bro
12. That Sinking Feeling
13. The Reason We're Here, I Guess
14. Not The Last Goodbyes, For The Most Part
15. Ambrette's Beach Bum


EXTRA (Non Canon): Broken Shinies

16. Interlude - Ambrette's Climbers
17. Interlude - Ambrette's Diners

The Growth Arc
Chapters 18 and onward: FFN link
(This will be a placeholder until I get around to revising chapters 18-38. At the moment, I don't have enough information to properly tweak everything, so I'm gathering feedback until I start posting here again on Thousand Roads with more revisions. Chapters 18 onward are consistent with the revised versions of 1-17, however, so there's not much of a ripple there.)

Author’s Notes: Hey, Neb here! This has been a long time coming, but here's my longfic, The Curious and the Shiny, available for the first time on these forums. This takes place in a universe of fics called The Manifold Curiosity, where there are different fics that standalone from each other in story, but overlap in some way in terms of characters and events. This longfic can work as a standalone story, but it also features a grand overarching narrative that has consequences for other fics like Black Paint and Outside the Frame.

At the moment, I'm in the middle of revising the first arc, and while I've done the first chapter, which I'll present today, the real challenge is doing chapters 2-5 after that, as they might contain some big changes in terms of the structure/sequencing of events. While there are 27+ chapters available elsewhere, this is what I'll consider to be the most polished version for the first arc, so I encourage you to stick around for this site's version.

This will be updated twice a month in order to prevent reader fatigue.

Summary: Broken friendships aren't easily mended, but a Luxray and Lucario have no choice. The ghosts of their past haunt them in the form of a mysterious organization, GeL. In the journey to repair their relationship, they open up old wounds and meet new allies, striving to bridge the gap between Pokémon and mankind.

Content Warning: This story mostly sits at a T, but there are dark themes throughout such as depictions of carnivore confusion, mental health issues, and quite a few others later on. A lot of these won't be prominent right away, but will slowly unfold as the narrative goes on, and there is one point where the story goes even further than that, but will be kept hidden for now as to avoid spoilers.




The sunlit gravel scorched all that touched it, yet the Luxray dashed through. Even as his paws blistered from the rough terrain and his wounds burned with the intense heat in the air, he had to keep running. Each footstep that stomped from behind served as a reminder of what was chasing after him.

He ran towards the cityscapes ahead, where humans awaited, along with the promise of relief from his injuries, and afterwards, a normal life. Behind, though, was them. He didn’t want to imagine what they had in store for him if they caught him.

The more he ran, the more he wheezed with exhaustion, and by the time he reached the junction where the roads from the other cities converged, he stopped to catch his breath. Cars, vans and trucks all honked in cacophony. And in them, humans. He ran alongside the asphalt, shouting to anyone that might’ve listened. Surely, one person must’ve seen his condition and stopped to help, but nobody did; vehicles blitzing through the road. Why didn’t they stop? His heart pumped. How far behind were those grunts?

In desperation, he flung himself into the highway, into the path of oncoming cars which swerved in different directions and blared furiously. Sense came back long enough for the Luxray to dodge out of the way out of the road, but it was too late. Another car crashed into his side, sending him spinning across the baking road before rolling on his back.

Dull pain spread through his stomach, and he wheezed, trying to get a sense of how bad his injuries were. He looked down at his belly and there was--

There were his…

Oh god.

He couldn’t process what he saw, but one definite thought burned in his head: he was about to die. There would be no justice for what happened. None of his questions would be answered. His dreams would never be realised. But silhouettes entered his blurred vision. They would at least be there to hear his last words.

“P-please,” he croaked in human tongue, “I, I wanna l-live. P-please, h-help.”

With the sun shining above him, his vision faded to black.

The Curious and the Shiny Part 1: Fractured Memories

The Chase Arc

Chapter 1. Dendemille's Dilemma

Shine woke up with the memory of his escape five years ago echoing in his head. He squinted as light from the windows danced on his face and the wind chimes echoed, stirring him from his slumber. It was morning. Another morning like all the others. For a while, he stayed there, curling himself in a ball at the end of the bed, just for a moment longer. Only for a moment though, as a familiar hand patted Shine’s belly, firmly, but softly, across his scar where the car had hit him.

“C’mon, Shine,” his trainer, Tony, said. “We should get ready soon.”

The Luxray understood everything the human said, but he only groaned, retreating further into his half-sleep. Each day usually started like this, which was always for hardest for him as he preferred to sleep in. Why wake up? The days were the same and the world moved around Shine while he lay dormant. Why bother? No matter how much he tried to delay those thoughts with distractions, those fractured memories wouldn’t leave him alone. What was the point? The only thing that brought him back into the world was the feel of his trainer’s hand stroking at his side.

“I woke up a little earlier than usual so I’m willing to give you a wash, since it’s been a while. Would you like that?”

Though it was just another part of his routine at that point, it was hard to say no to Tony’s soothing voice. So he opened his remaining eye, stretched on the bedspread and followed Tony, who was already dressed in his anti-static gear, into the bathroom where he sat down on the smooth floor and allowed his trainer to rinse him off with the shower. He took extra care to suppress his electric field, even though his trainer was protected. As he waited, the question lingered on Shine’s lips, and although he didn’t wish to complain to his trainer, who had worked so hard on their project in between shifts, he had to ask.

“Sorry to bring this up again,” Shine said in his immaculate human tongue, “But are you planning on going back to the documentary at some point?”

Tony grunted as he squirted pet shampoo onto Shine’s body with gloved hands. When Shine first met him, he remembered his speech skills took Tony by surprise, but after living together for so long, his trainer got used to his special talent.

“To be honest, I really don’t know. I want to work on it, sure, but there’s not much else we can do. We only partly know about what happened to you, we don’t know where your friends have gone, or who was even responsible for the takeover in the first place. I’ve looked in the papers, in the libraries, everywhere, but can’t find any more info on the facility than what you’ve given me. I’m really sorry, but that’s all I can say for now.”

He sighed. As much as it frustrated him, they had found no leads at all, even after months of sifting through all the contacts, as there was no other trace of the GeL project’s existence anywhere. It was like finding a needle in a haystack, or perhaps a less-cliched human idiom to the same effect.

“I see. Sorry.”

“Besides,” Tony said, rubbing the soap suds all over the Luxray’s body, “With your memories the way they are, honestly, it’s difficult to put two and two together. Until the Hypno-Therapist can sort through their waiting list, which won’t be for a few months, I’m kind of stumped here.”

“Alright. Again, I’m sorry if I’m being a pain.”

“Don’t be silly, Shine. If I wasn’t interested, I never would’ve started this documentary business in the first place. You’re doing fine. Personally, I’d just sit on it for a few days and come back later. We both deserve a bit of a break from it.”

Shine hummed as Tony rinsed the shampoo off, then winced when he combed the wooden brush through his thick fur.

“In the meantime, while I’m at work, the best thing I can suggest is to go outside. Some exercise might help. Or maybe you could pass on your special skills to another Pokemon looking to connect with their trainers, if it’d help take your mind off things.”

“Perhaps.” He had quite a bit of fun teaching that Bunnelby arithmetic and parts of the human tongue, as he learned during his first year at GeL, but aside from that, he found little motivation to teach every Pokemon in Ambrette that language. There were only a few in this town that had similar skills to him, and they usually had business somewhere else in the bigger cities.

“Or maybe you could get yourself a treat, like a turnover or another good book to read. I don’t mind spoiling you if that’s what you want.”

“Thanks, but the library’s enough for me, and there’s still the computer. Besides, I don’t want to keep sponging off of you. You do enough for me without wasting your savings.”

Tony chuckled as he turned the water off and patted Shine dry with the towel. “I really don’t mind. Look at me though, Shine.”

He obliged and looked into his trainer’s eyes, which visibly smiled even though he couldn’t see the mouth through that mask.

“You’ve got to enjoy yourself more. You’re here where it’s peaceful, and you have freedoms that a lot of Pokemon wouldn’t dream of having without your skills. Why not make the most of it?”

A pang of guilt nestled in Shine’s gut. As much as he wanted to keep up with Tony’s boundless energy, he always found himself lagging behind. There were still the memories that revisited him, some good, but buried by the rest. The yelling. The fights. The eye. The arm. The mask. The taste of oxidation. The screams. The broken dreams. But he was free from that now. At least, he hoped so. His eye moistened as those fragments of time resurfaced, and Tony embraced him, hugging him tight through that suit. It felt strangely comforting even as the rubber stuck to Shine’s coat.

“It’s alright, it’s alright. You don’t need to worry anymore.”

“I-I know,” Shine said through his sniffles. “I-I’ll try to en-enjoy today. Thanks.”

After Tony dried him off, the two made small talk over a breakfast of Tepig rashers about the things Tony experienced on his marine trip. Seeing Tony in a scuba suit, taking an underwater selfie with a Mantine made Shine laugh, allowing him to forget about his worries for a bit. If only his typing allowed him to swim, then he’d have all sorts of adventures under the sea, like the ones in his stories. After his trainer waved goodbye to head for work, though, the house was silent once more. Shine laid down on the couch for a minute, staring at the clock that ticked constantly, and sighed. With each movement of the dial, that quiet started to eat away at him. A second would pass, and then a minute, and then an hour, and then a whole day would’ve been wasted. Days he could’ve spent outside, or with friends. But they were—

Shine shook his head. He had to get out of there, even if it was temporary, and so, he opened the door out of the apartment and it locked behind him. He stared out beyond the railing where the beach was in full view, as Wingull glided in the distance and dinghies bobbed up and down on the glistening sea. Although this apartment complex was dense, it allowed him a full view of Ambrette’s coast in all its glory, which always soothed his heart. From then on, Shine was ready to take on the day.

Shine strolled through the sunlit streets, which was stacked upon a series of wide cliffs. Like these cliffs, the buildings were often packed together on the street, forming a modest, but sizeable community within the neighbourhood. As Shine padded along the pavement, his collar jingled proudly, given to him by his owner. The townsfolk passed, and while some were nonplussed by the Luxray's presence, there were other familiar, yet nameless faces that sometimes smiled at him, alongside their Pokemon that stared on with passing interest. He didn’t mean to detour to say hello, as his destination in the middle of town was the library.

His presence there was welcomed by the members of staff, who had gotten used to the prospect of a lone Luxray at that point. They attended to his needs, retrieving a fantasy book for him to sink his teeth into and newspapers for him to leaf through. He took those in his mouth, walked to the back of the library building and laid them out in the garden in his favourite spot underneath the big tree.

There, he read under the cool shade, and moments later, a Murkrow appeared, fluttering towards him before perching on a bit of tree bark. Her name was Bauble, and she wore a red string anklet above her foot, which she proudly shook at Shine.

“Hey Shine!” she cawed, wiggling her talons, “Someone tied this for me! Do you like it?”

“Yes,” he said with a smile. “It suits you.”

“And so does your collar!” It didn’t take long for her to stick her beak into Shine’s neck, fiddling about with the red accessory. “I bet it’ll look great in my collection!”

He shook his head, almost whipping Bauble in the face with his mane in an effort to get her off.

“You’re not stealing this again. You don’t just take from other people.”

“Sure I do!” she said with a grin. “Anywho, you know what I came for, so let’s get to it!”

He hummed a reply and the two huddled close to each other. Shine got his paws on the Lumiose Times’ Regional Roundup first, as Bauble liked to hear about events happening within Kalos, particularly those that centred around Pokemon related affairs. When Shine read on his own, he would read about a variety of topics, from book reviews to political features. Not only did he find this entertaining, there was another reason he looked through them so religiously. For there was some hope left he would find out more about the GeL project from there, or the whereabouts of the remaining subjects. However, once when he attempted to read a piece about Kalos’ national debt, Bauble flew off in a huff, so whenever they were together, Shine made sure to read on her interest level.

“Whozzat?"

There was a picture of a masked Machoke holding up a championship belt triumphantly. Although he had no interest in sports, Shine knew him as Rex Revolver. On the top however, was the headline 'REX RETIRES!' with the caption 'Consecutive four year Machampion calls it quits!'

"He seems pretty satisfied!" Bauble said.

"He's quitting."

"Aw. Well that sucks."

"Do you want me to read on?"

"Eh, don't care for sports."

Having said that, Bauble still had her biases. They continued on, flicking from page to page. The next article of interest had a picture of camera footage, with a group of Scraggy and Scrafty crowding around something in the middle. Shine read out the headings.

"Scraggy Syndrome - Should we arrest criminal Pokemon?"

Bauble crowed in anger.

"That's the stupidest thing I've heard in a while! Why don’t they just let us be! Do humans really get paid to write this stuff?”

"Yes, depending on whether or not they're freelance, they can either get paid for each article they write or..." Shine trailed off, realising that he was going off on a tangent. It was pointless to explain to someone of Bauble’s fleeting interest all the intricacies of the judicial system, and how there was essentially none for Pokemon, allowing the police or trainers to take matters into their own hands, for better or for worse.

"I don’t really have a good answer for that."

"They shouldn't be paid at all if you ask me!"

Shine brushed aside her comment and continued looking.

"Oh, Shine!" Bauble said. "When can I see your film?"

“Probably never at this rate,” he said, not taking his eye off the paper.

"What?" Bauble screeched. "Why not? Do you hate me?"

"Trust me, it has nothing to do with that. We've worked on it a lot, but doesn't look like we have the right angle for it yet."

"Can't I take one little peek at it?"

"It's not up to me, I'm afraid. It's mostly Tony's project, since he's the one putting it all together."

"Forget Tony! Why not do it when he's out?"

Shine sighed. Perhaps he shouldn’t have let it slip to a random Pokemon that frequently tried to steal from him. But she already expressed an interest in their project, so it was too late to say no at that point.

“I’ll consider it.”

Bauble pouted and turned her head dismissively.

“Whatever. Continue.”

Before Shine turned the page, he caught sight of a picture featuring a Scrafty posing in front of a graffitied brick wall, accompanied by other odd types of Pokemon. This wouldn’t have been odd except for the fact they were wearing clothes and jewelry. Oh well. He’d look up the article later when he wasn’t under the threat of being pecked.

“A Car-Free Lumiose - Gogoat leads to less congestion, study finds.”

“Boring,” Bauble said. “Slow news day, isn’t it?”

“A little,” Shine muttered.

When Shine turned the next page, the photo sent a chill through Shine’s spine. The image, taking up half the page, featured a night-time scene of a Lucario throwing a punch at a gathering of shadows, where the most important detail was their left arm. The arm they used to punch with wasn’t the same length as the other, had five fingers instead of three claws, and shone like a jewel underneath the street-lamps. Shine's heart leapt in his chest. He brought himself as close to the photo as possible, checking the details of the arm multiple times to see if it really was like that Lucario’s, and more after that, trying to prove himself wrong. But after the seventh time, there was no doubt about it. The Lucario in that picture had an artificial arm.

The Lucario in that picture was none other than one of the old subjects of GeL: Curio.

“T-that’s her!" he exclaimed.

“Whozzer?” Bauble shrieked. “Read the paper, why don’t ya? It’s the only interestin’ thing here so far!”

Shine almost leapt from his spot. All he wanted was to run to Tony’s workplace and tell him they had a lead, but when he thought about the context behind the photo, he anchored himself down and read through the article.

“A Lucario was spotted at night battling against the gang of stray Pokemon, believed to be known as the ‘Thousand Claws’, who have terrorised Dendemille Town ever since their arrival, with muggings and reported kidnappings of other Pokemon. The altercation lasted only a minute as they dispersed when the police came. So far, the details of the Lucario are elusive, but as they have speech skills similar to that of humans, they are wanted for questioning by the force, as they’re believed to be a part of the blighted gang.”

Shine’s eye widened upon reading that last sentence.

“Bless the white god’s tail!”

Shine ignored Bauble’s cries of protest as he stuffed the newspaper in his mouth and made a beeline for the library’s exit. He dashed off to the coastline where Tony's workplace was. He didn't care how fast he went or whether or not he accidentally bumped into things on his way. He didn't even slow down when he reached the cliff-side and almost fell off the edge, kicking a few pebbles off the cliff face in the process. Despite nearly tumbling over, he staggered back to his feet and carried on his route.

Eventually, Shine reached the coast where the main attraction of Ambrette sat, rushed past the aquarium over to the neighbouring Marine Conservation Centre, and charged through the entrance into the reception. He remembered where Tony's office was, which was to his right, and without thinking, ran towards the door.

“Hey hey hey!” an old man called. “What do you think you’re doing here?!”

Shine spat the newspaper out. “Sorry, my trainer’s in there, I have to speak to him!”

Shine balanced himself on his hindpaws to pull the handle down, but when he did, the door wouldn’t open. It was locked. Shine glanced at the old man who was practically white with confusion, mumbling to the other person at the desk who Shine knew as Ines, the head of communications. No interaction with her ended in a friendly conversation, but regardless, Shine thought it best to explain his situation to someone familiar with Tony. He padded over to the desk, balancing on his tip-toes and making eye-contact with Ines, who shot him a glare that could’ve frozen the air around them.

“Shine, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Please, miss Ines, let me explain myself, I need to--”

“Everyone in there, including Tony, is busy taking care of something important, and we’re trying to bluff our way out of a PR disaster. They can’t have anybody else coming in no matter what for the whole day.”

“But--”

She retrieved a Pokeball from her belt and held it towards Shine.

“I said you can’t come in no matter what. If you don’t leave, you’ll have to answer to Tundremie.”

Even for Ines, this was rather cold. Each time Shine wanted to visit Tony on-break, she often refused to let him in unless either of them gave notice, but there, she turned him down instantly. Her treatment always seemed unfair to him, and she seemed to have a bias against Pokemon in general. Still, he understood that Tony had to deal with delicate situations if a rescued Pokemon ever went into surgery, and besides, dealing with her Vanilluxe was another issue entirely. Despite the burning sensation in his paws, he took a deep breath and relaxed his stance.

“Can you at least pass a message to him, please?”

She lowered her Pokeball but didn’t change her glacial expression otherwise.

“Make it quick.”

Shine rushed over to where he dropped the newspaper and picked it back up, propping it onto Ines’ desk.

“Tell him to read page twelve.”

“I’ll see if I have time to, now please, we’ve got calls to make here.” Her expression softened, letting her guard down for just a moment. “Sorry, it’s just the way things are at the moment.” Then her stiff expression returned as the phone rang.

He nodded and walked out of the centre with pent-up energy surging through him. The shore was only down a set of stone stairs, where the sand dunes stretched for miles, which he crept down to avoid slipping. When the beach came in sight, Shine stopped, digging his paws firmly in the sand.

Curio. That named echoed in his head, as well as the fragments of memories scattered across all his synapses. His heart pumped blood at the thought of her, and his whole body felt warm. He hadn’t felt like that in ages, not even with Tony.

But why? When Shine tried to put all the information together from his past, nothing came up. He didn’t know how he formed a bond with her, or why, and how they developed throughout the years, but he just knew, like there was some sort of invisible bridge. Yet that wasn’t enough. The warmth wouldn’t have been any sort of comfort to him if he didn’t know where it came from. In fact, it started burning. No, not there, not while his emotions were still this fresh. His whole body felt dizzy, and his paws gave way as he wobbled to the hot floor. He couldn’t focus on his surroundings or his physical self at all: just his vague memories and his gut feeling.

There had to be something to latch onto for now. But where? Was it a moment they shared? Were they words of comfort they spoke to one another? Why couldn’t he remember? Why couldn’t he do anything? Right, he couldn’t do anything. He was just a broken Pokemon curled around his trainer’s leg. He might as well have been a weak Shinx again.

“Don’t say that, you doof! You’re not weak, you’re doin’ fine, ya know?”

There it was: something she said. Same sort of connection, same tone of voice, same manner of speaking. That was one memory about her he regained, at least. And like the tide washing in and out, that moment came and went. The salty seawater lapped gently at the shoreline. A squadron of Mantine cried in the distance. With all the activity happening around him, Shine was back there on Ambrette’s shore, in control of his senses again. His current frustrations all rushed back to him, and he needed to take it out on something. So, he ran across the shore, kicking sand everywhere he went.

After five years of waiting and not knowing anyone’s whereabouts, there was something to chase after at last. Yet what was that Sinnohan Pokemon doing in Dendemille, or getting involved with dangerous Pokemon for that matter? Was she docile or was she a threat? And even more importantly, why had the two split apart if they were so close? Trying to get any of those answers meant Shine would have to cross half the region to get to that town, which was easier said than done.

He could’ve ran all the way through the wild, leaving him to face the ferals all on his own, and Curio might not’ve been there by the time he arrived, if he lived through that. Going by train would save a lot of time, but it would’ve been much faster to rent a flying Pokemon. Not even the fastest trains in the world held a candle to a Dragonite; if he could find a ranch that owned one, it would’ve taken an hour to get to Dendemille. The only issue was cost.

Pokemon could hop on buses and trains for free as long as it wasn’t during peak hours and fitted the size and weight limit, but transport by flying Pokemon was a different matter entirely. The handlers were the ones in charge, and their services to pilot the Pokemon required payment just like any other human selling goods. The faster the Pokemon, the more their fliers were likely to charge. He wasn’t sure how much it was for a Dragonite exactly, but probably a lot. He thought about putting his plan into fruition, but when he took the time to consider it, he stopped in his tracks.

Doing all of that meant he would have to venture on his own accord, without Tony’s help or anyone else in Ambrette that knew him. Having stayed with his trainer for so long in the comfort of his abode, he was at a loss for himself, and since he was so busy at that moment, he couldn’t run his plans through him first. And so, Shine slowly padded back to the apartment, tail dragging on the ground beneath him, and even as he input the passcode with his nose to unlock the door, his mind was still in a muddle.

His stomach rumbled as it approached noon. It would probably be good to grab some lunch, and as he headed towards the kitchen, the window above the sink tapped. Bauble came flying in through the open slit, which she often did whenever they didn’t meet straight at the library.

“Wanna tell me why you dashed off like that?” she cawed, her beak pointed downwards.

“Oh, sorry,” Shine said. “Something came up, so I want to head to Dendemille later.”

"What?” she said blankly. “How in the world are you gonna get there?"

"I don’t know yet. At the moment, I’m not even sure if it’s worth it yet, unless the trip is quick."

"And what’re you thinkin’?"

"Well, this might be a long shot, but do you know if there’s a ranch nearby that takes care of Dragonite?"

"Hmm," Bauble said, turning her head away. "There might be. But. But-but-but." She looked at Shine with a cunning smile. "What would you give me in return if I did know there was one? Perhaps, your collar?"

"Excuse me?" Shine sputtered. "What is your obsession with my collar?"

"Oh nothing, it just looks so nice! Besides, I think I deserve something for being left behind."

“My collar is--” He paused. Bauble had asked for his collar since she met him, which got tiring. Tony had given it to him as a present when he got his trainer license, which was why he’d been reluctant for her to snatch it off him. If he gave it up, that would mean betraying him. Then it dawned on him that was the reason he had been so reluctant to travel in the first place: his trainer. He needed to make decisions of his own, and Tony encouraged that, so how did a collar impact their relationship at all? Since time was of the essence at that point, Shine steeled his resolve. It was time to tear off the band-aid. He hesitated before he lifted his neck up for the intruding Murkrow.

“Fine. Come and get it, then.”

Bauble flew to the back of Shine’s neck to unclasp his collar and ran her beak through his fur, which tickled a little, but within seconds, the collar released and Bauble held what was Tony’s memento in her mouth. Seeing how pleased Bauble was with her prize, Shine’s stomach tied itself into a knot in guilt. Nevertheless, his goal was more important than keeping himself leashed to some sort of tradition.

"Are there Dragonite, Bauble?"

"Why yeth, there are," she said, slightly muffled by what she was holding. "You haff money for that, yeth?"

"I'll sort that out in a minute. If you don't mind, can you wait outside for me while I get the cash?"

"Cointh?" Shine anticipated she would ask about that, as if she imagined there was a vault in the flat that had a pool of solid gold she could gawk at.

"Bills.”

"Aw."

As soon as Bauble hopped out of the door with the collar, Shine’s eye flickered gold, which turned on his special vision to find the safe in Tony's bedroom closet.

Tony was the one that taught Shine how to use money in the real world. While his days in the facility gave him the knowledge of basic arithmetic earlier on, currency was alien to him in such a closed-off environment. Not long after the two officially partnered up, Tony shared the code to his safe, as he trusted Shine to only use it for emergencies. He hadn't needed to use it in the two years he stayed in Tony's flat. This, however, was an emergency. A largely personal emergency, but an emergency nonetheless.

After fiddling around with the savings, Shine made his way to the door with a stash of 20000 Pokedollars stuffed inside a drawstring bag hanging by his maw. With everything almost ready, something still nagged at him, as he realised how much it would worry Tony to travel for a few days unannounced, so he backtracked to his bedroom and got out a pen and a pad. Gripping the pen with his mouth, Shine wrote as best as he could on the lined paper.

'LookING For A LUcArIo. WILL bE bAck IN A FEW DAYs - ShINE.'

With that settled, Shine picked the money-bag back up and left the flat.

Bauble had waited on the railing, absent-mindedly staring out into the noon sky. When she saw Shine, she took the drawstring bag in her claws and wrapped it around Shine’s neck, which he supposed was an adequate enough replacement for the collar. His accompanying Murkrow glided over to the road at the other end of the block, leaving Shine to follow her, and when they got close enough, she flew off again, gliding into the distance up the main street. Although it took some time for each other to find their rhythm, once the two knew each other's patterns of movement, Bauble no longer had to wait for Shine to catch up as he ran after her. They went further up the road, reached the outskirts of Ambrette towards the more mountainous areas of land where the ground got more bumpy, and to a path that sat outside of the forest of Route 9.

Travelling through the dappled path, with the open space in front of him and the quiet rustling of the leaves overhead gave Shine time to reflect. He was really doing this. He was getting out there. And unlike before, his thoughts didn’t stop him halfway through as he planned out his journey. If he had gone insane at that point, he didn’t mind, and at least with Bauble, that made two crazy Pokemon.

They continued their trek in silence, and when the two arrived, Shine saw the most dragons he had ever seen in one area. When he first heard of the ranches, he didn't know what to expect with how it was organised; however, what he saw was separated by a fence was an open field, as the dragon types and dragon-looking Pokemon freely flew around the area and ran through the shallow grass. There were Dragonite, Salamence, Goodra amongst many others, and even a few pseudo dragons like Charizard. As well as that, their young accompanied them in their previous evolutions. While most species kept within their own circles, there were a few that freely mingled with others scattered across.

Plenty of humans operated the field as well. Some tended to their own Pokemon by feeding them, playing with them or resting by them, and others worked in the farmland area separate from the Pokemon area. There was so much happening at once there, Shine didn't know where to start. It made him feel dizzy looking at it, trying to keep a track of all the activity there and turning his head back and forth to where his blindside couldn't see.

It was kind of similar to how the facility functioned during its golden age, except outdoors and less densely packed. He supposed some things never changed.

He remembered what he came there for however, and padded over to the closest barn on the path, with Bauble hopping alongside him on the fence. When he reached the entrance, Shine was greeted by a woman dressed head to toe in flight gear, who drew her hand close to her belt, seemingly cautious of the two that approached her.

"If you've come here to steal our crops, beat it," she said.

Shine gulped as he mustered up the confidence to speak.

"Um, I need a ride to Dendemille Town as quickly as possible, please." To complete the request, he bowed politely to her. The woman took off her visor, not taken completely off guard but still revealing her surprise as she arched an eyebrow.

"Well I'll be. Did that Murkrow bring you here?"

Shine nodded, and the woman gave him a pointed look.

"Well I must apologise. I don't know what she told you, but we don't make no exceptions for Pokemon. Even you have to pay."

"No problem. I'm looking to rent a Dragonite."

Upon hearing this, the lady chortled, holding her fist in front of her hand to stifle herself.

"A Dragonite? Good one! Where in Arceus' crack did you find the money for that?"

"It’s hanging by my neck."

The woman laughed again, slapping her knee.

"Naw, naw, I apologise, I believe ya. Forgive me for bein’ so rude." She took a deep breath and presented her gloved hand to him. "Name's Adele. Pleasure to do business with ya. What's yours?"

"Shine.”

"Cool! If you'll follow me to the field, I'll walk you through what we have."

Adele jumped over the fence. Before Shine could follow, Bauble's beak tugged at his fur.

"Yeah, I'm kind of banned here, so I'm leaving this dump. I hope whatever you're doing in Dendemille works out and stuff."

Shine partly wondered what she did to earn such ire from the rancher, but he smiled anyway and bowed to his sticky-beaked helper.

"Thanks. Enjoy your collar."

"Will do!" Bauble gave an appreciative chirp and swooped up in the air, disappearing past the trees.

Shine crawled under the fence and caught up with Adele as they weaved through the field. Already, he sensed the attention he was getting from a group of Charmander nearby, who all stared at him and talked amongst themselves from a distance. As he couldn’t hear them, he brushed it aside.

"If you don't mind me asking," Adele said, "Where'd you learn to speak so well?"

"Through a caring enough trainer and lots of practice," Shine said, which was half true.

"You don't say. All things considered, you speak much better than half of my workers on the farm!"

"I wouldn't say that."

"Don't humble yourself. Actually, we've tried our hand at teaching our Pokemon here to speak, and it ain't easy, let me tell you. We've had problems finding other Pokemon that speak like us in this armpit of Ambrette, so we do it ourselves, and some of them can carry conversations, but they've still got a helluva way to go. Others though, they have no focus for it whatsoever. I can't even get one peep out of them before they fly off!"

Shine couldn't help but laugh, thinking back to how he struggled getting the first word out as a hatchling.

"It’s much harder for us to get right at first. If it's not in their nature, leave them be."

"I don't know, we've been surprised before. Still, a Pokemon such as yourself is somewhat of a rarity around these parts. It's hard to—"

A glob of green slime splashed over her glasses from her left side, which came from a Goodra who waved at Adele with a slimy paw. She chortled as she wiped off the gunk off.

"Hell-o A-dell!" the Goodra yelled, pronouncing carefully in the human tongue.

"Good to see you too, Petri!" She waved at the Goodra with glee, even as her glove was coated with the substance. "How's the lessons coming along?"

"Slow and a-nnoy-ing. But not bad."

"It'll get better,"
Shine chimed in, bringing Petri's attention to him. "I found it hard to string together words as well."

Petri gasped, clutching his chest with his paw. "A new tea-cher?"

"Nope," Adele said, "Just a visitor of ours."

"O-K." Petri gave a disappointed smile.

"Sorry, we gotta go Petri. I'll come back in a bit. See you then!"

Adele gave a thumbs up to Petri, which he returned by waving in their direction. Shine nodded before catching up with Adele, who was still covered in slime.

"Does that come off easily?" Shine said.

"Depends. You hardly notice it after a while."

Perhaps it was easier for humans to get slime off their clothes, but he winced at the thought of getting it stuck in his fur.

The two reached the part of the field where the Dragonite congregated, a group of five who were all huddled around each other.

"Attention!" she shouted, and the Dragonite all turned to face her. She counted them all with her finger, then pointed to a blank space. "Lyra.” The Dragonite on the far left took a step forward. "Would you be so kind as to fetch Accendare, please?"

They nodded. Shine couldn't even see them flap their wings before he had to shield himself from the gust of wind, and when he opened his eye, Lyra was nowhere to be seen in the sky. After a moment, he saw the two approaching from the air and flinched upon their landing as the ground rumbled, getting a round of laughter from the Dragonite already on land. Once he recovered, he eyed Accendare, whose ribs stuck out slightly and seemed smaller compared to the rest, with the addition of a Postmon’s pager around their ankle. They looked off into the distance with their arms crossed.

“Good! Now--” Adele turned to Shine, “What’s your poison?”

The Dragonite gossiped on their own.

“What’s a Luxray doing here?”

“That guy must be loaded!”

“He can’t be serious.”

“Who’s the fastest?” Shine asked, mostly for curiosity’s sake.

“Well, that’d be Bally!” She pointed to the Dragonite in the middle, who was the tallest of the bunch. “Easy to handle, and can reach the peak of Snowbelle City in just an hour.”

Bally gave Shine a smug smile. So he could’ve gotten to Dendemille in half an hour.

“How much?”

“Ninety thousand!”

Shine had anticipated the steep price tag just to see how far up he could go.

“And who’s the cheapest?”

“Figure you’d say that next.” She pointed to Accendare. “You know this lil’ stowaway’s name. I don’t know how urgent your situation is, but she’ll do a good enough job for you if your only destination is Dendemille. She can get there in roughly an hour and a quarter if you don’t mind the bumpy ride.”

It wasn’t exactly within the hour, but it was close enough and much better than he expected for the cheapest. Dragonite truly were first rate.

“How much?”

“Thirty thousand!”

“Oh,” he whispered. Somewhere, he had miscalculated how much he needed. Speed, handle-ability and rarity were his first standards of measurement, but there must have been something forgotten in the rush.

“I see. I’m ten thousand short, unfortunately.”

There was a collective sigh from the group of Dragonite.

“I might as well mention this is a very generous price around these parts. You might get cheaper further east, but in the boonies, that’s a bargain.”

That was it. He forgot to take availability into factor as well. Adele grunted as she retrieved Shine’s pouch from her pocket and knelt down to Shine. Only then did he realise how foolish he must have looked.

“Sorry for wasting your time,” Shine said.

“Nonsense!” She smiled. “I completely understand. We haven’t had a customer like you come to our ranch before, so you’ve made it worth my while!”

“I see. Well, thank you.”

He bowed once more before turning back to the path. That was it. He’d have to return home to Tony, to his peaceful neighbourhood, to his mediocre life since leaving the facility with his questions unanswered. The train was still a possibility to travel through, but by taking the longer route, he risked losing his only other lead to fully understanding his past or his connection to that Lucario. As he pondered this, he saw Petri, the Goodra from earlier, playing with a bunch of Goomy in the distance. Thinking back to the conversation he had with Adele about finding teachers for the Pokemon on the ranch, he couldn’t help but smile at what he had in mind. Once more, Shine turned to Adele who was checking on Accendare.

“Adele!” he shouted.

Adele faced him again with a confused look.

“I’ll pay the twenty thousand for Accendare, and work for as long as it takes to teach Petri to speak properly!”

A glint appeared in Adele’s eyes and she clapped her hands together.

“Now we’re talking business! As long as you’re fine with it being unpaid work, we’re square!”

“I don’t mind.”

“Good!” Adele gently undid the pouch from Shine’s neck and opened it, counting its contents, 20000 Poke dollars in ten bills, before pocketing it in her jacket. “We need to make sure you'll come back to us to start your first lesson, so me and Accendare will be there to pick you up in two days at the most.”

“Two days?” he asked. Even he wasn’t sure he would be able to get Curio back in that time.

“Yup. We can’t make the returning time too open, otherwise it’ll be like you’re getting a trip for free. Is that fine with you?”

Shine looked to his side. Again, he wasn’t certain Curio would still be there, but he had nothing to lose except his trainer’s money.

“Yes, but I might need to bring a friend of mine back here.”

"Same size as you?"

"She's a Lucario."

"Fine. The spikes might be a problem, but it's doable. In that case, we'll be there at 2PM on Wednesday, so don't forget that. Oh, one more thing." Adele approached Shine and knelt down to his level, uncomfortably close to his face with a serious expression. "We kinda have a serious policy on customers paying us back. If you try to slip out of it or aren't there in time two days from now, well, your ass is grass."

"I can assure you I'll be there."

Adele backed away from him, smiling again.

"Good! Ahem." She pulled out a walkie talkie and spoke into it. "You two! Accendare's gear please, on the double!"

A moment later, two young assistants, a scruffy boy and a ribboned girl, lugged the gear in front of Adele, and she commanded them to tend to Accendare, who held up her paws in the air for them to equip her. The scruffy looking boy tried to wrap the harness around Accendare's arms, who knelt down with all four paws on the ground, and took one step to the side in an effort to pull the strap back. He missed though and ended up slipping off of her, catching Accendare's arm with the loose strap which made her shriek.

"Damn it, I told you to be careful!" Adele said, stomping over to let the boy down. "The last thing I need you to do is to hurt Accy!

"Sorry, miss," he said, looking up at her with guilty eyes.

"Never mind, I'll handle this from here on out. Clearly, you need more training. Girl, you've done a good job, so that's it for now. Go take him back and make him run a lap across the field."

The ribboned apprentice nodded and left with the glum looking boy. Adele leaned in to stroke Accendare's head.

"It'll get more comfy with time, sweetie. That clod really doesn't make it easy for you, does he?"

Accendare shook her head in reply.

“There there.” She turned to Shine. “Shall we?”

From there, Accendare went on all fours, presenting the saddle on her back. Adele offered a hand to Shine, gesturing to pick him up, and he sat in her arm as she climbed up Accendare to the front. She placed him in one of the empty backseats of the saddle which were mostly fit for humans but not Pokemon that weren’t bipedal. Nevertheless, he gripped the belt in front of him with ease, but a chill washed over him when he realised he was on the back of a dragon that could cycle the globe in less than a day.

“Accendare, any tips for first timers?”

“Um, hold on for dear life?” she said. He couldn’t see her face, but he imagined she looked quite nervous herself. “Oh, and um, thanks for picking me by the way. Not many people do that.”

“You’re welcome.”

With that, the Dragonite leaned forward and started flapping her wings, sending a wave of movement through the seat, where Shine lightly bobbed up and down. Adele gently raised the bridle, and Accendare’s wings beat, progressively getting more rapid. Eventually, the ground below Shine felt weightless. Accendare was in the air.

The rest of the dragons cleared the way, each flying to opposite ends of the field; the young were either picked up on the way or were left to rush to their parents as quickly as possible. Then Adele whipped the bridle.

Accendare burst forward, and the gust of wind slapped Shine across the face. The ranch was behind him in an instant, and next, the trees all became a blur of green, and a blur of brown as they passed the cliffs. All the while, Shine had no time to process the level of speed he was riding at. Already, the spike in speed left him feeling dizzy, and the wind dared to knock him down, but he held on tight. He would brace himself for whatever came. For his sake. For his trainer’s sake. For Curio.
 
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Raggy

(─‿‿─)
Location
From
Hi::

I gotta get review so I can get better at reviewing and one day have real opinions! I gotta figure out how to present like a person, you know?

So super sorry, I can’t relay helpful information like a normal person.

I’ll go as I go.

This fiction is about dichotomy, after all it’s called ‘The Courteous and the Shin kickers’. Or maybe not.

The opening for some reason reminds me of the beginning of Oldboy. I have no clue why because it’s nowhere near related, but I suppose the tone comes off to me as that kind of tense and mysterious kind of feeling. Actiony, though in this case just more so violence against electric felines.

Most of the facts I know about this come from a sort of melting pot cultural osmosis of absorbing offhand facts like some kind of parasite. So the language stuff. For me, the distinction only really matters so long as one sticks to their own rules, and even then I don’t particularly note the difference. I’m good with it.

After getting hit by a car, our hero Shine takes the L by becoming domesticated. He lives a gormless life with his husband Tony, an amateur filmmaker who makes constant excuses to hide the fact that his camera ran out of batteries, but he’s too lazy to replace them. I like how the world breathes on us, full body rubber suit aside. With nothing to occupy his time Shine desperately searches for purpose - and also thinking about GeL which probably stands for ‘god eats losers’ or something. I know it’s the central bad guy (or at least that’s what it’s been made out to be), so we obviously hate them. Look at you GeL. You made Shine get hit by a car. Five Points.

After crying for a bit, sadcat summons the mental energy to leave the house and goes outside. It’s been like 5 years since I played X and Y, I don’t even remember what Ambrette looks like, let alone Kalos as a whole. Goodness I’m bad. Buildings on cliffs have instead reminded me of that one level in killer7. That had buildings on cliffs predictably enough. But comparisons are meaningless, we’re here for our luxury. Who is sad.

I just remembered I have to go back a little now. It’s mentioned that Tony (paisano) and Shine (not a paisano) ate some tepig rashers. I am an insidious American, so I had to look up the archaic term for bacon, which is great, because it means I’m into it. However, acknowledging the fact makes me guilty of playing it up for brownie points, so ignore me on this one. On a more important note, this is another one of the big points of contention in making a happy world. I think the television tropes call this one carnivore conniption. Once again, I’m not a stickler for interpretation as long as it’s cool to read about. While a one off sentence about bacon isn’t really intrusive or anything, that fact in and of itself sells it as a bona fide cool factoid instead. Meat! Albeit, I know you have talked some about that being a big deal, so maybe we’ll come back to it and hate meat. Hate Meat!

Bauble-bird is very mean to Shine. I like reading news so murkrow is now my natural enemy. That being said, at least she’s interested in news; an informed public is conducive to good choices (this is not a statement of fact). I wonder how pokemon would add to the news cycle anyway. I’ve heard that part of your endgame is in essence that pokemon have their own health section, to put it unintelligently. That’s the bread and butter! Pokemon can talking to each other, this isn’t a world where we have a litten superbowl and laugh about it. Because the litten have thoughts and feelings about playing football, and they hate it. Kittens here don’t have that kind of agency, they just meow and say ‘die white girls’ on the internet.

The article titles too, little things but it’s fun to consider. “Should criminal pokemon be arrested?” According to the code of Hammurabi, the answer is yes. If you guys want equality, then you gotta be ready to go to jail, especially if you didn’t do anything. Civil rights 2, starring pokemon.

What kind of investigative journalist paparazzi hybrid managed to get such a cinematic shot of Curio fighting the power? I hope they got it with a dutch angle. Anyway, character, the other half of our power couple, as indicated by the cover art. Lost an arm to save a friend like Brad from Lisa, but not quite as sad. At least, that’s what I’m making first guess on, for all we know, GeL could be basically the club from the Hostel films. It would certainly explain why there’s an arm gone.

So news gets this steampunk cosplayer lucario on camera fighting local terrorists and the first thing the police think is that their obviously in league, just having a late night beef or something. Not blaming the cops here, but really not on board with their methods. Oh well, scapegoat if you got ‘em.

I got nothing on Shine getting the evil eye from Ines. Instead, let’s over analyze this transitional scene as an allegory for pokemon human cultural divide. I bet if Shine was a human he would be let right in, I mean the text even says Ines dislikes pokemon greatly. But then everyone would make fun of his name, so lose-lose. What kind of public relations gaffe would a conservation center have anyway? Probably ecosystem stuff.

Sad cat hours again. Don’t get so down on yourself man, It’s only the first chapter! Maybe he’ll be more confident in the future. Oh, but now he’s kicking sand. More like real loser hours. ˙ ͜ʟ˙

Shine truly begins his character arc by removing his collar in a stark scene reminiscent of that one scene from Amistad II where they uh, stop being slaves. Pay me no mind, it’s not on the nose, I’m just imagining it is. But hey, good on him, he’s taken his first steps to becoming an individual. But then again, he is trading his collar for information he could have gotten from a bum. Impatient one you are.


Alas, the call to action. Shine! Go to the monster world! Don’t know if it’s kind of cruel to leave Tony behind with the cryptic messages, “looking for someone lol” and “look at page 12, crazy right?” as well as taking his rainy day money. But hey, given what we have about Tony so far, he’ll probably be like “That crazy kid” and be happy that he left the house for once.

Real ranchero hours. Replete with a Vietnam GeL flashback. Nothing much to read into, some nice happy details, southern accents, hey wait a minute I’m from the south. Now I can judge the veracity of the accenteur (<--- apparently this is an actual word but it’s a bird??). Your accent is southbound. To be honest I don’t really have a southern accent.

Here we see Shine giving up because he is weak. But inspiration strikes and he becomes an indentured laborer instead. It’s an improvement I guess, but hey the opportunity was there. Imagine if Petri could speak english well. The crux of your adventure rests on the idiocy of manual servants, so make the best of it.

After dismissing a street urchin type whose uselessness is suspiciously emphasized, we’re off. He finally did it, but this really isn’t going to lead to the happiest times so a minor victory if anything.


Here is Shine. His quest is to find friend, and while nothing beyond that is explicitly stated, the rear cover esque blurb sells it to us anyway. How many ghosts is too many? Who knows, at least we have an easy time about it. We like Shine, presumably hate GeL (probably run by John Kramer or something), and are completely and totally ambivalent (forthcoming) about Cure-IO. I can’t come in here saying I’m completely in the dark because I’m not really. Will this bias my perception?? Ah, I’ve already invalidated myself.

If you understood none of this, that’s alright. It’s my fault for thinking about James Joyce while writing this. If it’s not a bother, I want to come back next time to read more! It’s the least I can do, not to say I have much capability beyond that. Feel free to ask me if I have anything actually important to say. I’ll have to think about it. Ooh spell checker doesn’t like that one. It’s calling me ambivalent again.

。゜(`Д´)゜。
 

NebulaDreams

Well-known member
Hello @Raggy, and thanks a lot for the review. Like I said, this is probably one of the funniest reviews I've read, and I like all the effort you put into it. The Courteous and the Shin Kickers would work great as a crackfic AU title to this fic or something.

The opening for some reason reminds me of the beginning of Oldboy.
I guess there is a bit of Oldboy here, though I haven't really seen the film in full. Except without the violence towards dogs and more towards electric cats.

He lives a gormless life with his husband Tony, an amateur filmmaker who makes constant excuses to hide the fact that his camera ran out of batteries, but he’s too lazy to replace them.
Shine totally would fit the bill of a Luxray housewife.

On a more important note, this is another one of the big points of contention in making a happy world. I think the television tropes call this one carnivore conniption.
Yeah, that's the first big thing readers tend to pick up on about this world. And yes, it does play a bigger role later on and will be expanded on.

Pokemon can talking to each other, this isn’t a world where we have a litten superbowl and laugh about it. Because the litten have thoughts and feelings about playing football, and they hate it.
Little do they know that the litten play litten superbowl because they have litten cubs they need to feed.

So news gets this steampunk cosplayer lucario on camera fighting local terrorists
You did it! You broke this fic down to its barest essentials! All I need to do is to change the summary to this (and yes, I stole this idea from @Persephone): 'Steampunk cosplayer lucario teams up with pirate luxray to make a movie. They fight dragons!' That'll bring in the FFN readers, right? Now excuse me while I go and quietly cry in the corner...

We like Shine, presumably hate GeL (probably run by John Kramer or something), and are completely and totally ambivalent (forthcoming) about Cure-IO.
Pokemon and SAW. Someone out there's probably written that before. Though I wonder how murder games tested on Pokemon would actually benefit the game masters... Well, if internet crushing videos are a thing, then anything is possible.

If you understood none of this, that’s alright. It’s my fault for thinking about James Joyce while writing this.
Imagine writing a fic review in the style of Finnegan's Wake though. Imagine the possibilities!

Chapter 2. Dendemille’s Pests

The first thing Shine did when Accendare landed was topple to the ground and throw up. His head swam, his face felt like it was melting, and his body generally felt unpleasant. At that time, he didn’t want to think about Tony back home, about Curio, or anything else. He locked himself up in his little bubble, only burst by the presence of Accendare and Adele beside him.

“Oh dear,” Accendare exclaimed. “Are you alright there? I wasn’t that bad, was I?”

Shine couldn’t muster any sort of reply.

“Man, the trip really took the wind out of your sails, huh?” Adele said. “Hold on, I might be able to help you.”

Shine ingested some sort of tangy liquid. After a moment, coherent thoughts formed again, and in time, the haze over his body cleared up. He looked to Adele with a weary expression.

Thank you,” he said.

“Don’t mention it. First timers usually get sick, although most first timers don’t usually opt for a Dragonite. Can you stand?”

He slowly got to his feet and tried to stretch, but after such a long ride, his legs were too tired for him to keep a proper balance, so he toppled to the floor.

Well, this is embarrassing.”

“Oh tosh, with that sort of speed, it’s no wonder you’re tuckered out! Don’t worry, it’ll pass if you get a lil’ rest.”

I’ll be fine from here on out then.” He forced a smile.

“In that case, take care, and don’t forget our agreement now!”

I promise I won’t.”

“Hold on, um, Mister Shine,” Accendare chimed in. “Can I join in with Petri’s lesson as well?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“Thanks,” she said with a wan smile before flapping her wings again. Adele waved him goodbye and with one flick of her wrist, Accendare took off to the skies.

When Shine eventually came to, he recognised he stood in a park with a big wooden gazebo at the very edge. The few people strolling through were already staring at him, undoubtedly weirded out by the air-delivered Luxray. He tried to ignore them and looked further into the distance. Past a surrounding cluster of trees, there were cottages and wooden houses that snaked up a series of hills, topped with a windmill whose blades whirled in the air.

Once he regained his strength, he paced around idly, trying to reorient himself and to figure out where he could ask around. Suddenly, it hit him that he was on his own in a different town far away from his own. Once a sense of uneasiness settled in his stomach, which might’ve just been the nausea, he realised he would need all the help he could get. His first thought was to find the town square, and so, slowly but surely, Shine padded over to the park’s exit and continued down the main road.

In Shine’s journey through the paths of Dendemille, he walked out the stiffness in his joints. As he strolled through the picturesque landscapes of the area, leaves fell from above, with a mixture of white, pink, and red flower petals flitting down. The flora was much more vivid here than it was in Ambrette, which gave a different flavour to that environment than the coastal town. Experiencing this first hand calmed his nerves from the ride. At least, until he had to interrogate the strangers in town.

Eventually, he found the main square and upon entering the plaza, the presence seemed different from what he was used to back home. The area was less densely populated, for starters. While there was always activity from the coastal Pokemon flying in and the amount of tourists the town gathered during summertime, Dendemille more or less beat to the tune of its own drum. Many older trainers drifted in and out of the town’s hub, dressed in plain-clothes or overalls, with their farming Pokemon almost as tall as them by their side. There were only a handful of younger trainers, presumably in transit to the next city for their gym battles or whatever else they got up to.

A dozen of market stalls stood in the centre. Most of them were run by trainers with different assortments of training paraphernalia and farmers with their crops or fresh meat. Nothing remarkable. The only figure that stood out to Shine was an old trader who sat under a tent surrounded by makeshift bookshelves. He was the first person Shine could think of to ask about Curio’s whereabouts. Perhaps by intuition, as someone he expected was well read probably had the most information about local affairs.

He started to walk towards the tent, then stopped, hit by an invisible wall. He didn’t quite know how to approach the stranger. In his hometown, it seemed much easier, but in an unfamiliar environment, Shine didn’t know how the trader would react to a random Pokemon going up to greet him. Yet he had to get some sort of bearing, at least. He could do this. So, Shine took a deep breath and padded over to the tent, glancing at the shelves as if he was just a regular human customer. Yes, just a regular customer walking on all fours and surging with electrical energy. Totally normal. He poked his nose into the trader’s inventory where old paper wafted in the air, which filled him with a sense of nostalgia. Although he didn’t remember much of GeL in specifics, he did recall all the second-hand books he used to read there, usually tattered and worn, but still having a lot of value. He remembered sitting in that room full of plush cushions, getting lost in that world of--

“’ey!” the trader yelled, making Shine jump. “What’re yer doin’?!”

He stepped back, bewildered by the startled human’s glare. “I-I, um, I’m sorry sir! I wasn’t doing anything!”

To his mercy, the trader leaned back and gave a wan smile.

“Heh, what a pleas’n s’prise. Sorry, d’int mean to scare ya.”

Shine sighed in relief and straightened his back, composing himself.

No, that’s fine. I take it I’m quite an unusual sight here, speaking your language.”

“Nay, we get a few speakers ‘round these parts. Just Luxrays aren’t that ‘eard of in this region, an’ I try to keep out for strays, is all.”

Shine bit back the urge to correct him on his pluralization of Luxray and continued. “I see. Sorry, I’m a bit new to this town.”

“Ach, that’s fine. Trainers come in an’ out all the time, so I get my share of tourists ‘round ‘ere. How can I ‘elp?”

Um, this might sound weird, but have you seen a Lucario with a metal arm around here recently?”

“You mean Curio?” the trader asked, scratching his balding head. “’aven’t seen her myself, but I’ve ‘eard plenty about ‘er. She’s a right old troublemaker, ‘pparently.” He leafed through his own copy of The Regional Roundup. “She went at those Claws, she did.”

Yes, I read that, but the police think she might have something to do with them. You don’t think she’s a part of some criminal gang, do you?”

“Well I don’t know. Just what I’ve ‘eard. She’s stirred up plenty of trouble before, so I wouldn’t put it past ‘er.”

That neither confirmed nor denied Shine’s fears.

Um, what else has she done in this town to cause such a fuss?”

“Broke into that vineyard, for star’ers.” He pointed at the windmill in the distance. “That thing’s protected by a gate, you see, and from what I ‘eard, she climbed o’er it and smashed a lot o’ crops on the way, then bam, wen’ out again.”

Shine strained to get past his accent, but he got the gist of it. It wasn’t what he hoped to hear at all. The trader must’ve seen the worry on his face as he gave him a reassuring smile.

“On the other ‘and, she is quite popular with the locals, from what I ‘ear. Some folks at the pub talk about ‘er all the time, with all the interestin’ stories she tells. Some says she took down a Garchomp single-’andedly, or pawdedly. Others says she jumped off of Jubilife Tower and lived, though I reckon that’s a bunch o’ crap. Either way, not every town gets a talkin’ Lucario with a metal arm like ‘er, for better or for worse I reckon.”

Shine’s mouth went agape as it was a lot to take in at once. It was even harder to fill the gaps in his past with that information. Still, he had to focus on the task at hand, or paw.

Do you know where I can find Curio, then?”

“You can check the windmill, but 'side from that, I can’t be of much more ‘elp, I’m afraid. Sorry.”

No, um, you’ve given me plenty to work with, sir. Thank you.”

“And you. ‘Bout time I got someone who’s polite in my lot, not like these old farts here.” He flashed a self-satisfied grin. With that, Shine bowed to him before retreating to one corner of the plaza, collapsing on the cold cobblestone floor. His heart shouldn’t have been beating that much, but that initial jolt gave him a bit of a jump. No matter. It steadied once Shine contemplated the information the trader gave him, soaking up the atmosphere of the market square as faraway conversation passed.

There was still a lot he didn’t remember about Curio. He hadn’t come across her once in Sinnoh since their escape despite his constant searching. Five years was a long time to change, especially when one had to adapt to an alien environment like Shine did before he met Tony. She could’ve been anywhere.

A sense of dread lingered over him like a thundercloud. When he eventually met her, if he eventually met her, would she even want to see him after all this time? His own memories of her were vague at best, so would she even recognise him?

He shook himself out of his bubble and got to his feet, looking to the mill in the distance. Perhaps that would’ve given him a clue on her whereabouts.

And so, he started the long trek up the series of hills where the cottages sat, thatched roofs and all. On closer inspection, Shine noticed some of those houses had farm lots in their front gardens which were tended to by Pokemon and their trainers. As he passed by, they stopped their work to stare at him, which struck him as odd at first. He didn’t stop, but the further he advanced, the more he noticed what the Pokemon and trainers did when they spotted him.

A few Pokemon in the front gardens of the cottages stood with their backs straightened, their teeth clenched, their eyes tracking, everything to indicate they were cautious of Shine’s presence. Their trainers caught wind of this too, either standing by their guarding Pokemon or summoning others outside their balls, ready to command them to fight. Wary of his own aura, he took a deep breath and advanced further up the path ahead, quickening his pace.

Once he reached the top, Shine stopped to marvel at the sheer size of the mill for the first time with his own eye. What he viewed from far away at first didn’t give much of an indication of the foundation of the windmill itself, but when he faced it from the edge of the hill, he had to tilt his head upward to see the top of it. The blades gently rotated in the wind and the air whooshed with every revolution.

When he let his head down, he narrowed his eye at the series of tall metal fences surrounding the grounds of the mill, kept under lock and key by a gate. The trader mentioned Curio ‘trespassed’, not simply walked in as if it was a park, and for good reason too. There were plants with Razz Berries, Bluk Berries and many other berries he couldn’t recall at the top of his head, while he sniffed the air and tasted the sickly-sweet scent of honey. Any self-respecting owner wouldn’t have let a wild Pokemon take from their wares, after all.

Shine’s eye flashed gold and the surroundings turned transparent, allowing him a full view of everything going on at the mill. Several humans were inside the buildings, nowhere near close to where he could talk to them, but the person working closest to the gate was a boy in his teens. There was also a female Leafeon patrolling the perimeter of the fence from the inside, but Shine preferred to get the boy’s attention first to avoid being chased by the guarding Pokemon.

He softly padded along the edge of the fence with his see-through vision still active, getting closer to his lead until he saw him through the grating. Shine opened his mouth to shout, then--

“Hey boy!” a coarse voice called from far away. “Get over here!”

“Y-yes, Sir!” he stammered, and left his berry basket unattended as he rushed to the mill.

Shine cursed himself. His potential source of information had disappeared. If he found somewhere to hide, he would’ve been able to try again, but he considered the chance that the Leafeon would catch him while he looked.

He turned around and carefully retraced his steps to the path leading to the gate, when something tugged at his paw. He winced as he tried to shake it off, but the more he struggled to get it free, the tighter it wrapped around his ankle, like some sort of rope trap. He took a deep breath and calmed himself. It wouldn't have done any good to panic, just like Tony said.

“Who are you?” Leafeon called as she stood in front of him. “Are you an enemy?”

“What, no, I--”

“Don’t talk! You seem weird! Wait there!”

A trail of grass knots snaked under Shine’s body and tied themselves around each of his limbs, anchoring him to the ground. He squirmed in its grasp, but with each movement, the knots surrounding him pulled taut.

“Wait! Need to check!” The Leafeon buried her nose in Shine’s coat, sniffing him down. It felt weird, to say at the least, but Shine knew that sort of gesture from certain kinds of feral Pokemon. If he had to guess, she came from a similar background and got captured to be on the vineyard’s guard. After a moment of sniffling and snuffling, the Leafeon stepped back.

“You smell clean, but weird. Do you have a trainer?”

Shine nodded, not wanting to set her off again. Then, one by one, the grass knots unwound themselves from Shine’s body, allowing him to stand upright again. He breathed a sigh of relief, and was about to say something when--

“Hey, girl!” the coarse voice called out again. The two turned towards the source and saw the face of a weathered-looking man with gardening gloves behind the fence. “Don’t just stand there; when there’s a Claw that invades our turf, attack on sight!”

S-sir, please!” Shine yelped, “I-I don’t mean any trouble, I just wanted to talk to you!”

The man rubbed his forehead, mumbling to himself as he approached the end of his side of the grate. “Well blow me down, another talkin’ Pokemon outside my property.”

Y-yes, sorry.” Shine breathed in and out, trying to calm himself down. “I don’t mean to intrude or anything, but there’s something I need to know. A Lucario trespassed your vineyard, is that right?”

“Oh for the love of--” He cracked his knuckles. “I thought I’d hear the end of that lousy Lucario. I guess you know her, then.”

Well, yes and no.” He would’ve blushed if he could. “It’s complicated. She might be very important to me, so any info you have on her would be very helpful.”

The old man snorted. “Might be important? Might? Then what good will it do me to tell you anything?”

He had a point. At this stage, Shine was just going on a whim, albeit, a very powerful one. “L-look, I just need to know! I can’t explain it, but I just have a gut feeling! I know we were close!”

“Then I don’t want any more of it.” He gripped the fence, glaring at Shine. “I got enough trouble with you outsider Pokemon, ‘specially the human speaking ones. It ain’t in the white god’s design, you know. Next thing I know, you lot’ll be takin’ us over. Now get lost.”

B-but--”

“Enough! I got a farm to run here, so piss off!” He punctuated this by shaking the grate. “And you, girl, get back in here!”

Leafeon slipped under the fence and joined the caretaker before the two returned to their post, leaving Shine on his lonesome. The Luxray stood still for a moment, not knowing what to do, and trying to parse what the old man told him. He briefly entertained the idea of shouting back at him for that ‘takin’ us over’ remark, but decided agianst it. He stared through the gate once more, and saw the Leafeon staring at him with those wide, orange eyes of hers. Shine thought that would’ve been the end of it, and turned around to make his way back down. Then another grass knot curled itself around his leg, which he tried to shake off.

“Wait,” Leafeon said as she entered Shine’s view again. She stared at him curiously, cocking her head. “Lucario seems important to you.”

Shine didn’t want to mince words any longer and just went with his gut. “W-well, yes.”

“Here.” A loose strand of grass sprouted up and formed an arrow, pointing towards the fence. “Lucario climbed up there.” She pointed down, trailing through the mess of uprooted plants. “Ruined those silvervine plants. Owner got mad and tried to stop Lucario. Lucario said--”

She scurried in front of Shine and stood on her hindlegs, trying her best to imitate the bipedal jackal. “Trying to save your town, you grumpy old fart.” She stood back on all fours. “Then left.”

Shine couldn’t help but laugh. He didn’t know whether or not he expected this behaviour from her, but somehow, that struck a nerve.

“Not funny,” Leafeon said, leering at him. “It’s serious.”

“Sorry.” Shine hummed and thought back to what she said. So, Curio seemed to be quite rough around the edges, but also meant well, if the ‘saving the town’ business told him anything. He was still in the dark on her whereabouts, which didn’t help much. Still, he had to count his blessings, so he bowed to Leafeon and thanked her.

“Fine,” she said. “You need a mate anyway.”

Shine sputtered at that. “M-me and h-her? But--”

“Joking. You don’t stand on two paws.” Leafeon grinned before scurrying back behind the fence. Though the encounter with the old man still shook him up, Leafeon lifted his spirits anyway. Even ferals had a sense of humour, he supposed. And with that, he made his way down the hill again.

As he glanced over to the small landowners, who still looked cautious in his presence, he gained a new found understanding for the town's weird air. It wasn't unheard of to have Pokemon form gangs in the cities, and he experienced it a few times in previous encounters before he met Tony, but they were only limited to a few dozen at the most. In that many numbers, no wonder the townsfolk were so apprehensive around him.

Shine remembered the lack of a jingle by his neck and internally cursed Bauble, however helpful she was. She had to take his collar, of all things.

Once he reached the town centre again, he was a little more at ease as the townsfolk there didn't acknowledge his existence, at least at the beginning. He kept asking around, desperate for any trainer or Pokemon to let slip of Curio’s existence. While some trainers didn’t know what he was talking about and respectively went on their way, others were more wary of him. Partly because of the unfamiliarity of a Luxray in the region, and partly because of the presence of the Claws.

The trail got colder and the sky looked gloomier with each passing hour. A clock on a town spire told him it was a quarter past 5, 4 hours after he had left Ambrette. All that asking around and he was still no better than how he started. Defeated, Shine sat down on those cold cobblestones, wondering what to do next, and reflected on what had happened before.

So he left Ambrette, looking for someone he didn’t know that well, while getting in debt to a Dragonite ranch through the money he stole from his trainer. This was more excitement Shine experienced in a day than he had in the past month or so, but since that initial rush, his enthusiasm for the search had dwindled. He wasn’t home. And on queue, his stomach rumbled, and he groaned. Now he was cold and hungry. He missed his apartment. He missed cozying up in that warm blanket. He missed Tony’s cooking. And he missed Tony himself. He would’ve known what to do in this situation, probably, and yet, Shine decided to throw that away along with his collar, all for someone he barely knew anymore. He curled up into a ball and grumbled.

“I’m such an idiot,” he said, louder than he probably should’ve.

“Somethin’ bothering you?” a Pokemon called.

In front of Shine was a Gligar with a rubber bracelet around his claw. It read ‘Proud to be a Pokespeaker!’ Shine’s eye widened at that.

“See something you like?” the Gligar said.

“O-oh, sorry.” Shine stood up and straightened his back. “I just noticed you’re a Pokespeaker.”

“Oh, you read this lil’ thing?” He shook his claw proudly and smiled, showing his large tongue and fangs. “Glad you noticed! You must be one of us, then!”

Shine smiled at that, bringing a little warmth into his heart. Then, something pelted his head from above. Something wet, which made his static field crackle a little. He looked up, and the sky was dark grey. Oh no, this wasn’t good.

“U-um, we should get inside. I-I’m--”

“An electric type, yeah. I know about you Luxray, so don’t worry.” The Gligar pointed his barb at one of the shop awnings. “Let’s head under there.”

Shine nodded and dashed under the canopy. His new companion joined not long after, gliding noiselessly through the air. Then it started to rain for real. Not just in droplets, but in a downpour, as the sky crackled with thunder. The humans running the stalls started clearing the tables as they desperately clutched their inventory. For once, Shine was glad to be stuck in the shadows.

“I’m Barley, by the way.” He offered his claw.

“Shine.” He took Barley’s claw in return and shook it.

“So, back to earlier, what’s got your Gogoat?”

Shine squeaked. Damnit, so people did notice. He didn’t want to admit he was talking to himself, so he had to settle for something a bit less humiliating. “I, um, well, I got a little lost and I was getting stressed out about it, so I don’t know.” He looked down to his feet, not wanting to face the Gligar. “Maybe I just have a habit of talking to myself, hehe.”

“Yeah, I gathered that. So, I take it you’re not a stray then?”

“No.” He sighed. “I came to this town without my trainer.”

“Oh? Well, that’s a first.” Barley pointed to the activity in the square as everyone turned in to avoid the bad weather. “Not really a lot that goes on in this place unless you’re in the league. Not exactly a tourist’s resort to be honest. Aside from the cafes.”

“I see.”

The conversation deteriorated from there as the two stared out from under the roof. Shine was trying to think of something to say next, when his stomach growled again, sounding like a lion’s roar.

“Heh, you must be hungry!” The Gligar stood proudly and pointed to himself. “Well, if you’ll come with me, I’ve got plenty for you to eat your fill at the PokeStop I run!”

That got his attention. They were more common in the big cities rather than small towns, and although they operated independently by whoever wanted to open one, even Ambrette didn’t have a Pokestop of their own. Shine’s curiosity got the better of him that time.

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” he said, glancing over to the garbage nearby. “Otherwise, that trash can would’ve looked rather tempting.”

Barley snickered, then jumped up and glided past the different shops, until he perched up on one of the rafters. Hanging by it was a sign that said ‘The Vine’, accompanied by a red spot indicating that trainers could let their Pokemon rest there. At that point, Shine knew to follow him, and when the Gligar fluttered down, they entered the pub together.

Upon entering, Shine was greeted with the bustle of the rainy evening, as trainers flooded the pub en masse. It was a bit too crowded for comfort. Yet, there was a pleasant aroma that permeated the insides, like Pecha berries and lemongrass. On top of that, the most noticeable characteristic about the pub was its namesake: the vines that covered the ceiling and snaked all over, creating somewhat of an indoor marsh that worked in harmony with the pub’s wooden interiors. Barley led the way, and avoiding the booted feet of the humans, Shine weaved his way through the crowd until his guide suddenly stopped.

“Yo, gramps,” Barley said. “How’d you like a little trim?”

In front of Shine was a large Venusaur, sitting in his own corner of the room. Indeed, he was past his prime, as his eyes were quite sunken and his leaves were withering, but he visibly beamed at the sight of the Gligar.

“Perhaps later,” he said in a very low tone. “I see you have a guest here, so I don’t want to intrude. Have fun, you two.”

Barley waved a claw at him before leading Shine to the back of the pub, which featured a door with a Pokeball crudely etched onto the wooden frame. With one prod of his claw, Barley opened it, revealing just as lively a scene as the one inhabited by the humans.

There were a few cushions scattered around the floor with various Pokemon lying on them, and a low table set with a Quilladin and a Delphox sat around it playing some sort of chess game. Curiously, the only human there was an adult male trainer lounging on a couch at the end, typing away on a PokePad. The shelves on the end were stacked with books as well as various other knick knacks such as plastic toys and metal figurines. The figurines in particular looked familiar from a distance, but Shine couldn’t put his paw on why. In any case, Shine stepped in and followed Barley to the couch, where Barley fistbumped the human. It must’ve been his trainer, then. He whispered in his ear, and then the trainer sat up, putting the laptop aside.

“Ey yo,” the trainer said in a deep voice, offering his hand to Shine. “Good to see another speaker here.”

W-well,” Shine stuttered. Dammit, why was he getting flustered there? He shook it off and took the trainer’s hand in any case. “It’s good to be here, I guess.”

“Yeah, I mean, just make yourself at home, y’know. We got snacks over there--” he pointed to a few bowls of Pokemon kibble for different types, “and we got others playin’ over here if you wanna join in.”

“Just don’t interrupt our little game,” Delphox said. “We’re having quite the match here.”

“And it’s hard!” Quilladin yelled. “Human games are hard!”

“Still waiting on your turn, sapling.”

“I’m thinkin’ about it, mmmkay?”

Shine was taken aback by all of this hospitality. “Um, thanks,” he said, “but I should fill up for now.”

“Suit yourself.” The trainer returned to his laptop with Barley by his side, and Shine went on his own to sample some of the feline-fit food there. It was dry and crunchy, but he was used to that faintly meaty taste by now, so it didn’t bother him. Drinking from a nearby water bowl also helped take the dry aftertaste off. At the end of that, his stomach was satisfied, and Shine rested by the cushions next to one sleeping Litleo. He stared at her for a moment as she purred and snored. Seeing that little lion body reminded him of when he was a Shinx, for what little there was to glean from his past.

There was something nagging him again, like the episode on the beach before, putting him on the verge of another breakthrough. He tried to piece together the memories he had as a Shinx in GeL. There were the books he’d read on the set of plush cushions, much like the ones he rested on at the moment. Then there was the image of him sulking in the corner of the room. There was another Pokemon with a white body and a poofy tail comforting him. He knew he was his friend, but couldn’t piece together who. Then there was something else in an arena of some kind. The floor was covered in a type of artificial turf. There was a group. He was the last one to be picked, yet again. He was alone, yet again. Then there was something else. Something. Someone.

He hit another wall. On the other side, he knew his memories were there, and that the barriers he had were purely mental. He tried to push through it, like pushing through a stone pillar. It still wasn’t budging. He pushed harder. He budged it an inch, and--

Something else knocked him hard on his back, and he was a fraidy little Shinx again. A shadow in the form of a Manectric ran towards him and picked him up with his maw. He ran, dragging Shine away from the wall, and further away from opening the door to the truth. He was no longer there. He was back in that PokeStop with the torrential downpour beating against the roof. In that room where he barely knew anybody there, and he was hundreds of miles away from home.

Tears streamed down Shine’s face. The kibble bites turned to rocks in his stomach, rattling in his inner passages. Time and time again, his body would act up in some way whenever he got close to reliving those memories. He hated it. He wanted to claw at the walls and scream. None of this was normal for a Pokemon. If he was in the wild, he would’ve starved to death long ago, with this much mental paralysis. He didn’t deserve this Luxray body. He didn’t deserve his trainer’s love. He didn’t--

A set of claws wrapped around his body. Shine gasped, surprised by the sudden sensation, but it snapped him out of his head space, even for a little bit.

“Yo,” Barley said, tightening his grip around the Luxray. “You don’t look so hot.”

“I-I’m sorry,” Shine said, sniffling. “I-I didn’t mean to make s-s-such a scene.”

“Nothing to apologise for, mate.” He tapped his back. “Look, if you wanna talk it over, join us on the couch. We ain’t therapists or anythin’, but we give help when others need it. It’s what we do.”

He looked around, expecting everyone else to be staring at him, but to his surprise, they continued as normal. They didn’t seem perturbed by it. Wearily, he joined the two in the middle of the couch as they made space for him. The trainer was typing away on the forums when Barley coughed, and he closed the screen down.

“Yeah, okay,” his trainer said. “So, what’s up?”

Shine had to think on it for a moment. He didn’t really want to talk about his past, but another question lingered on: that of his trainer. The rocky feeling of his stomach still didn’t subside, so he had to get it out there once and for all.

W-Well, first, I just need to ask.” Shine wiped his eye and sighed before he continued. “If, well, your Pokemon, or Barley, were to run tail and cross half the region for an important reason, without letting you know first, what would you think?”

“Hmm.” The trainer drummed his fingers on the screen surface. “I think I’d be fine with that, wouldn’t I?”

Yup!” Barley said with a smile. “I can take care of myself!”

Oh, okay.” He wasn’t expecting that. Then, another question popped up. “Then, what is it you do?”

Well, a lot of things.” Barley fluttered to one of the tables and stood proudly, tapping one half of his claw. “For one thing, I spread the word about this place while my trainer sorts through donations.” He tapped the other claw-half. “For another, I teach the human tongue to those who want it, or hire those that need something from me.” He frowned. “Some humans kinda find that weird, but eh, screw ‘em. And on top of that, I take care of some of the boring stuff. Taxes, you know.” He blew a Razz berry.

“Yeah, but I’m the one that takes care of the accounting.” His trainer grinned.

And I help with that too, y’know!” He cleared his throat. “But yeah. Why’d you ask?”

Shine clenched his teeth. Truth be told, he was jealous of Barley’s situation. Although the two were cut from the same cloth, Barley was the kind of Mon Shine wasn’t. Confident. Outgoing. Proactive. He knew better than to admit this out loud, so he gulped down his emotions and settled for a simpler answer.

Just curious. Your trainer gives you a lot of freedom. He’s good.”

“Well, thanks.” The trainer’s tone had an air of concern, to which, Shine grimaced. “Look, I don’t wanna pry or anything, but, uh--” he clicked his fingers, “how do I put it? Barley, you’re better at this pep talk stuff than I am.”

Okay then.” Barley gestured to Shine, gliding over to a corner of the room, and Shine followed. The Gligar pointed his barb at him. “So, Pokemon to Pokemon, is your trainer bein’ an ass?”

The use of that human swear took Shine off guard. There was no alternative in the Pokemon tongue for that sort of thing, so it always stuck out like a sore thumb whenever another speaker did so. Still, the instant he heard that, he rapidly shook his head.

“N-no,” he said, “he’s great. He takes care of me, he encourages me to go out, and, well, without him, I wouldn’t be alive right now.”

Barley nodded, but kept his barb raised. “Buuuuuuut?”

Shine sighed. “But, I feel like I kind of threw that away. I left without telling him what my plans were, and…” He trailed off, not wanting to admit it, but swallowed his pride. “Stole his money to get here.” Saying that out loud solidified his actions, and he turned away from Barley. Finally, he added: “I just feel like I’ve betrayed his trust, as his Pokemon. We’re not meant to act out like that, are we?”

Shine didn’t know what he expected, but he was surprised when Barley wrapped his claw around him.

“Well, it sounds like he trusts you enough to make those big decisions, so it ain’t really my place to judge.”

Shine’s eye widened. “You think so?”

“Absolutely,” Barley said with a grin. “And put it this way: not every Pokemon is like you, and not every trainer is like yours.” He swooped over to the chess table where the two were still on the same move. “What about you guys?”

“Well,” Delphox said, blowing smoke out of his nostrils, “I wouldn’t know what to do without mine, as embarrassed as I am to admit. She was the one who taught me how to play chess after all, and that’s all I do outside of the contests.”

To make a point of this, he stopped to knock over his opponent’s Pawniard.

“Explains why yer so good at it,” Quilladin grumbled, slumping in his chair. “Yeah, I dunno nothin’ outside of battling. Just waitin’ for my trainer to come in, really. He knows a lotta stuff I don’t.”

“She would barely trust me to operate a gas cooker, and I’m a fire type.”

“Maybe cuz you’re a fire type. The gas would go boom, wouldn’t it?”

“Perhaps.” Delphox smirked. “Still, I am proud of being with her.”

“Me too with mine, I guess. Jus’ gives me somethin’ to do.”

Barley sharply turned. “Besides, it seems like you had to come here for a really good reason.”

“Y-yes!” Shine said, stomping a front paw onto the floor. “I-I’m not sure I can explain it, but I absolutely had to! There’s someone really important here, waiting for me, and I don’t know if I can pass this up!”

“Huh.” Barley curved his barb into the form of a question mark. “Who is this VIP you had to meet?”

“Ooh, ooh!” Quilladin bashed his paw on the table, putting the chess pieces out of order. “Maybe it’s his lover!”

“N-no,” Shine stammered, who would’ve blushed if he could. What was it with other Pokemon thinking he and that Lucario were an item? “That’s not it, I don’t think. Actually, I’m here to meet a certain Lucario named Curio.”

Barley froze, as stiff as a statue. Delphox was busy rearranging the chess pieces with a concerned look on his face while Quilladin stared attentively, not knowing the situation. Finally, Shine’s heart pounded as he wondered if he said something he shouldn’t have.

To his relief, Barley gave a warm smile.

“You’re just in luck, sorta.”

He sighed in relief. “Oh, bless my tail, thank you. Thank you so much.”

“But, uh, maybe I should fill ya in a little.”

The Gligar swooped up to grab one of the pieces off the shelf, and came down holding some sort of metal object in his claws. On closer inspection, it was an odd looking Magikarp made half to scale with empty cans of Cheri Psycho Soda for the body, yellow bits of plastic sticking out for a tail and large wads of gum for the eyes. It was a ‘rare, unusual, or intriguing object’ or in other words, a curio.

He somehow knew it was connected to Curio. It was only a brief glimpse, but another puzzle piece in his fractured mind connected, and he saw another vision of the past.

He didn’t remember the fine details, but he was inside some sort of small room, similar to a workshop. There were metal wires and tools everywhere, like wireframes, pliers, trash and glue. There was a radio playing in the background as well, though what it played was a blur to him. There was a human, and then a Lucario, which he could only guess was Curio, in the middle of all that mess. In her paws was a metal model of a Clefairy, half constructed. Curio smiled at this, and then, when she noticed the Luxray’s presence, she turned and waved at him.

“Yo?” Barley said, snapping him back to reality. “Earth to Shine?”

“O-oh, yes, right!” Shine beamed, looking at the object with a renewed interest. “She made that, didn’t she?”

“Yup! We’ve got quite the collection from her lately! She’s real talented, probably why we hired her in the first place!” Barley frowned. “And yet, we haven’t heard from her in a few days.”

Shine’s heart sank. He didn’t think to check the date on the news report, so it could’ve been at any time from yesterday to a few days before. Then what happened? If those Claws were so dangerous, and she was apparently missing, then…

“W-what did she say she was doing?”

“She didn’t explain herself.” Barley’s barb drooped. “She might’ve said something about those dumb Claws, but she was kinda vague about it.”

Then there was no question. Either they did something to her or she went off on her own to deal with the problem. The downpour finally stopped. In that case, there was no time to waste. Shine darted for the front door when Barley swooped in front of him again.

“Hold on,” Barley said. “Are you going to try and find her?”

“Y-yes! I have to!”

“But it’s night. And we have a bit of a pest problem in town, so it’s dangerous!”

“Yes, I know, but still!” He planted his paws firmly on the floor, scratching against the smooth surface. “I just feel, if I don’t find her right now, I never will!”

“Listen.” He approached Shine and put a claw on his shoulder. “You know what you’re gettin’ into, right?”

Shine nodded, though inside, he wasn’t so sure.

“And you said you’re far away from home without your trainer. He cares about you, doesn’t he?”

Shine nodded, then gulped. Right. He was pretty much throwing himself at the deep end here, and after worrying about his trainer so much, it seemed like a repeat of what he did to get to Dendemille in the first place. He was about to turn away and go back to the pillow pile, when Barley clicked his large tongue.

“Still, you’re an adult Pokemon, just like me. If you really feel like you need to do this, then go with your gut.”

“Yeah!” The Quilladin yelled, pumping his claw in the air. “Kiss some, er, what do they say, Barley?”

“Kick some ass.” He winked. “Just don’t get yourself killed before we can be buddies.”

“R-right!” Shine blurted out. Yes, he was nervous. There was still that rocky sensation in his stomach. And yet, his resolve was clear. He wasn’t alone. Barley had his back in this. To clear his jitters before he went, Shine took another sip from the bowl.

“Barleyyyyy!” Quilladin called, catching Shine’s attention. “I’m stuuuuuck!”

On command, Barley swooped over to where the two Pokemon played. Quilladin nursed his head, still trying to find a way to end his turn while Delphox waited with bated breath. Barley crept over to the Grass Pokemon’s side and whispered in his ear, and momentarily, there was a glint in his eyes. He slammed the Gardevoir, or in this case, Sirknight, over the opponent’s Bisharp. In the same breath, Delphox made his move and overtook the Sirknight with his Nidoqueen.

“What?” Quilladin said, banging his paws on the table. “That’s not fair, I only just made that move!”

Delphox smiled. “So? It’s not my fault you suck.”

“I suck? You ain’t better than me cuz you’re good at a human’s game! You suck!"

“Hey,” Barley said, “that was my fault, but let’s not have that her--”

Quilladin stood from his seat, lifted the table’s leg and flipped it over. Shine slinked quietly from the PokeStop to the sound of chess pieces tumbling everywhere with a crash.
 
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Raggy

(─‿‿─)
Location
From
Is there such thing as obligation by proxy? Or is this philosophical posturing?

I’m gonna try this again, this time with the handy dandy WWE Wrestlers Database, for cross referencing purposes. And now that you were nice to me once, you’ll have to kill me to get rid of me.

Last time on the Cross-stitching and the Spurious, we left our friend Shin-e in debt to the mafia, doomed to unpaid work as an ESL teacher until a Goodra learns the oxford comma. Opening a chapter with your character vomiting is roughly the equivalent of Beethoven’s I-ii-iii sequence from the 10th piano sonata. That was not a reference you’re supposed to get because it is a joke for me. I have to interject my own humor occasionally so I don’t suddenly get existential and regret writing the whole thing, so leave it at that. Maybe next time put Shine in the kennel under the plane instead of hiring a living plane. He won’t have time to complain when he’s drugged up.

And so after taking some Tums, Luxury-chan is in Dendemille town, another place I had to look up. Occupational hazard that is the windmill aside, your description hits the mark, mostly because if the description didn’t hit it off with me, I wouldn’t have looked it up. Of all the meat markets and doodad shops about, Shine of course goes to the guy that probably has kusoge on the shelves and eroge under the table. As it’s his first time talking to anyone other than Tony and his imaginary Murkrow friend (talking as in really talking and not making idle statements or threats directed towards the ankle region), he’s nervous. He’s out of his element, a fact he himself acknowledges.

Then the trader starts speaking old man toothless dialect, and he’s friendly to boot. No crying cat today! That being said, after thinking about the dialogue for more than 5 seconds, all I can see is the Eric Andre police car skit.

We learn in short order that the subject of our protagonists affection whose name I will not mention for fear of summoning the devil messed up a vineyard, most likely because she realized that wine tasting is not a real sport. The only acceptable use for grapes is juice and if anyone says anything about raisins to me, I will die instantly.

Pub rumors are the classic territory of exacerbation. We are lead to believe our Lucario friend jumped from a television tower (unlikely), has a metal arm (even more unlikely, Shine’s memory is not reliable for a reason), and has beaten a Garchomp (near impossibility). Not to mention, we get smashed with two hand-paw dichotomy jokes in the space of a second. I don’t mind, but a weaker individual could lose a leg (there’s no animal equivalent there, ha).

Old man over here is happy that someone aside from his case worker was nice to him, so that’s more points for Shine when he inevitably gets shot by a dentist or whatever. But he has to work on not getting worked up. There’s loads of youtube videos where people that haven’t seen each other for 20+ years meetup, and they just hug and cry. Heart attacks are unacceptable Shine.

Little wonder that our unwashed feline is viewed with derision and suspicion by the locals. Maybe a bit overkill that they’re even gearing up to throw hands as he walks by, like, no chill man. He doesn’t even look like a meowth. I suppose they have their reasons, we don’t have much info after all, Dendemille is basically the St. Louis of Kalos.

After activating his Agent 47 instinct vision again, Shine is caught by a Leafeon. Alright, maybe not ICA material after all. The convenience of having a guard and drug sniffer is on full display, the only downside being that we can’t refer to them as K9 units. It looks like my previous comment was on the money though. If it breathes, it’s a thousand claw, to which Shine replies ‘All Pokemon are people’ before getting arrested. Tortuous joke aside, we get some more evil poke-bigotry from another old man. This one however is cranky because he got his crops ruined. Maybe if you had a scarecrow of the white god whose design you seem to have a highly theological grasp on. Miserable old people, the future belongs to the not-old people. Alas, no time to be theoretically angry, Leafeon to the rescue. But only because she has the hots for him. If Shine didn’t have half the rugged charm he did, the story would have ended when Bauble tore his throat open for not giving her a dime store collar.

Time for more introspection. No crying this time. Just sadness and hunger. But enough of the self flagellation, it’s time for a real new character and not just another old man. Short lived joy of course, Barley talks for all of 5 minutes before taking Shine to get drunk so he can mug him. And there’s an old Venusaur there too. Is Dendemille even a real town, or a retirement community? I’m getting irrational over this.

A bit of fluff and it’s time for another flashback. A shocking revelation, GeL uses astroturf, cheap. Completely serious for a moment, alas poor creature. Not necessarily the kind of situation most can empathize with, but still feel pity for the fool.

Some good talk for the road, and another flashback? How exceptionally lucky, and this one’s happy to boot. Everyone reacts like Curio (5 minutes until I’m dragged to hell) is the phantom of the opera or something. Not only that, but she’s been a craftsman (I’m not changing that to an o). Anyway, rousing speech, fun time, table flip, boost, bonk, bam.

I managed to reach the end of the chapter with 3 minutes left. So it’s time for a retrospective. A bit slower from chapter one, our ‘call to action’ as the literati would say. This chapter to me is a focus on finding a groove, a stylistic establishment of the setting so we can start to move around in it like fisher price dolls. Does it work for me? Hey, my bar of enjoyment is titanically low, I can find something to like in nearly anything with one notable exception (liquid smoke, why does that even exist?). While this might diminish my credentials, that is based on the incorrect assumption that I had any to begin with.

We have more Shine than ever before. More sparking, more crying, more wallhacks. Still on the route to becoming a happy cat, but now it seems longer than ever. But hope is in the cards, he’s within Tindr range of his goal, and he finally has a support network to fall back on if he feels sad again. Other factors going for him include being stone cold broke, which precludes the possibility of mugging. If anyone tries to rob this cat, they’ll make fools of themselves, which will probably result in them killing him to save face. What a lucky break for Shine, you’ll never have to experience the shame of being robbed if you’re dead.

I realize only now I totally forgot to cross reference the database, so we’ll have to make some quick calculations now. If we were to compare Shine to Thaddeus Michael Bullard, otherwise known as ‘THE REAL DEAL’ Titus O’ Neal, how does he stack up? Titus was the owner of the WWE Tag Team Title along with Darren Young during 2015. Shine’s only title is ‘The Shiny’. Doesn’t quite ring the same as the Real Deal. Titus’ finishing move is the Million Dollar Slam. Shine’s only known move is fake tears (though I have a sneaking suspicion they’re real). Will tears save Shine from the Million Dollar Slam? The answer to that question is found through another question, are my jokes funny?

As you may have already guessed, the answer is obvious.

No.

Thanks for indulging me, I’ll be back next time with even worse ones. Or maybe not, I have a minute left.
 

NebulaDreams

Well-known member
And so after taking some Tums
Gummies: the MVP of all sickness cures.
But he has to work on not getting worked up. There’s loads of youtube videos where people that haven’t seen each other for 20+ years meetup, and they just hug and cry. Heart attacks are unacceptable Shine.
Ha. Good for you, reunions after long periods tend to be really awkward in my stories.
If Shine didn’t have half the rugged charm he did, the story would have ended when Bauble tore his throat open for not giving her a dime store collar.
Ha, rugged charm. That's a new one.

Chapter 3. Dendemille's Dealer

Shine sat beneath the awning of The Vine, breathing in the air of the rain-slick pavement. Since his stay at the Pokestop, the atmosphere of the town had completely changed. The sky was coal-black, and unlike before, there were barely any humans or Pokemon roaming Dendemille. The streetlamps illuminated the paths ahead, with one of them clicking and flickering in the middle like a strobe. A ghost town, god forbid if there were actually ghost types plaguing Dendemille. Were there any recent hauntings around Kalos, or in the papers?

Shine shook his head. If what Barley said was true, he had to get a move on. Suddenly aware of his surroundings, as well as rumours of the town’s dark underbelly, Shine took a deep breath and focused on his abilities. He wouldn’t get anywhere if he threw himself blindly into the streets. So, he turned his golden vision on, making the outlines of the buildings a milky white and everything else transparent. Almost everyone and their Pokemon had settled down for the day in their humble abodes. Everyone except for one group a few blocks ahead: white shapes consisting of few stray cats, a human, and a Lucario.

There. Shine had a lead at last. He didn’t check to see if it was the Lucario he came to Dendemille for, but it was something at least. And so, Shine stepped out of the canopy and onto the damp cobblestones. His paws tingled, brimming with electrical energy. Then, he ran, sending sparks flying behind him. He weaved through the streets, the various buildings in his way, the parked cars, the occasional bystander he had to avoid shocking, and finally, the alleyway that lead to the group. As Shine entered the alley, however, a strange smell invaded his nostrils: the familiar stench of iron. His heart sank, and the rocky sensation in his stomach rushed back to him. Wearily, he padded through the walled path, scouting for the source of the smell. And there it was.

A Rattata lay motionless on the floor. There were scratch marks over the rest of its body, but the most noticeable feature was its...

Its ribs…

Shine turned away, suppressing the urge to vomit. This didn’t make sense: he was a feline Pokemon, so the sight shouldn’t have been such a shock to him. It certainly wasn’t in his own stray days before he met Tony. So, why now?

Familiar images flashed in his head, of the eye and the arm. No, not now, not here. He couldn’t afford to have yet another episode. Yet, he’d never forget that taste, that smell, and that crushing feeling of despair that came with both of those memories. Yet they were also so far away. He couldn’t understand it. What did he understand about himself anyway? Yet again, he was usele--

A scream echoed through the air. A human scream, followed by mewling and a sympathetic cry from another Pokemon. Before he knew what he was doing, Shine sprang forward, running out of the alleyway and into the fray. He didn’t know why, but somehow, he knew he had to step in to help.

Before him was a trainer, sprawled out on the ground with a gash in her leg. Her Lucario stood in front of her, shooting aura spheres from his paws at a group of attacking cats. He lacked the metal arm Curio had. The Claws sprang from side to side, dodging every projectile, while the Lucario’s attacks were beginning to take a toll on his stamina as he panted. But he worked as a suitable distraction. The Claws were so focused on the duo that they didn’t even pay attention to Shine.

Shine could’ve run away and avoided this trouble, since the two were basically strangers. Either because of the Lucario connection, or because of seeing those in need of help before him, Shine’s resolve was clear. That’s when he pounced forward, swiping at one of the Meowth with a charged set of claws. It hit, knocking them to the floor as they convulsed with electric energy.

There were four other Claws left, all of which hissed when they finally noticed Shine. One Glameow lunged forward with a set of Fury Swipes, and Shine leapt back, dodging it. But the other three ran towards him, all sinking their teeth into his flesh. He yelped as they tore into him, but that wouldn’t last long. His electric field was only strengthened by the wet ground beneath him. So, he took a deep breath. He needed to focus. And as soon as he got past the immediate pain of the other Claws, he discharged all of his energy, shocking the remaining opponents. Yet the other Glameow was left. Shine bared his teeth, preparing for another bout, when the Lucario joined him, aura at the ready.

The Glameow only sneered and turned her back on them. “Nyeh, you’ll pay fer dis.”

With that, she ran away, leaving the other fainted Claws behind. A moment passed as the Luxray and Lucario looked at each other, trying to process what had happened. Before they could take a breather, however, the fallen trainer groaned, struggling to get on her feet. The wound was still fresh. The Lucario’s cool demeanor vanished, replaced with a newfound sense of worry as he tended to his trainer.

“Oh, oh g-g-god,” the Lucario said. “P-please tell me you’re alright, oh dear, it’s all my fault, it’s all my faul--”

“H-hey,” the trainer said with a smile, “it’s fine, it’s not as bad as it looks.” She sat up and pointed to her bag. Its belongings were strewn about on the floor, and the strap was broken, but she still had it with her. “Can you be a dear and get the first aid kit out, please?”

The Lucario nodded, paws shaking nervously as he picked up the trainer’s stuff. She turned to Shine next.

“Well, I dunno where your trainer is, but thanks a ton. You really helped us out there.”

Shine shook his head. “I couldn’t just stand and do nothing.”

Her eyes widened for a brief moment before returning to their usual size. “Huh, I must be extra lucky toda—“ She cut herself off, wincing as her Lucario rubbed the curative paste on her wound. This struck Shine as rather curious, though he imagined it would’ve been common sense to have a Pokemon that knew first aid around. Instead of questioning it, he looked with his golden vision for any more signs of the Claws. There were none. At least, not at a close distance.

“Isn’t there a centre nearby?” Shine said. “They can treat your wounds.”

“Yeah,” the trainer said, trying to suppress the pain. “I need to walk back, though, and if those Pokemon nab me while I’m out, I’m toast. This’ll just make the trip easier.”

She gave one last wince before the Lucario stepped back, his paws still shaking. He managed to completely tie the bandage. For that, the trainer called him closer and gently scratched his chin.

“You did a great job.” She placed her hand on his shoulder. “Help me up a sec.”

The Lucario got her up to her feet and supported her as she applied weight to her wounded leg. She gasped and fell back in her Pokemon’s arms.

“Will you be alright?” Shine asked.

“Er, actually, we could use some help getting back to town, just so we don’t get caught out again.”

Shine winced and looked behind him. There was still the possibility Curio was out there, wherever he was. He didn’t want to delay it any further if it meant she was in danger.

“P-p-please?” the Lucario said, pulling off those baby doll eyes. “We, um, can make it worth your while.”

There was something he had in mind for that Lucario in particular. If he was able to use his aura to scout out different Pokemon from far distances, something he couldn’t do himself with his own vision, then there was a snowball’s chance he’d be able to find Curio. So, Shine sighed and joined the two.

“Alright, I’ll help you.”

The two smiled before making their way down the downtrodden streets of Dendemille. The atmosphere grew thicker, since Shine had found out first hand why the Claws were so dreaded. The streetlights rapidly clicked each time Shine walked past them, which occasionally startled the poor accompanying Lucario, but aside from that, their journey to the Pokemon centre flew by. A bit too quickly, if Shine was honest with himself. There was barely anybody that crossed paths with them. One look told him with his golden vision that everyone was hiding inside. No matter. Once they were greeted by the dim red sign of the Pokemon centre, their hearts were more at ease. The trainer sighed and limped over to a nearby bench outside with her Lucario accompanying her. They looked to Shine with an appreciative smile.

“You’re a star,” the trainer said, “seriously, we owe you a lot. I oughta--” As soon as she patted her trouser pocket, her brow furrowed. She sat up as much as her good leg could support her and sifted through all of her pockets and belongings until coming to one conclusion.

“Crap, they took my wallet.”

The two Pokemon let out a cry of ‘what?!’ in their respective tongues.

“Nah, it’s fine,” the trainer said with a laugh.

“You seem awfully relaxed about it,” Shine said.

“Well, the money’s not the problem here if I can just get a new card.” She crossed her arms. “It’s got my trainer ID and lots of other stuff though, so without that, I’m kinda screwed.”

“W-w-what are we gonna do?” The Lucario said, tugging at his aura sensors. “We--we can’t--”

“Hey, it’s alright.” The trainer wrapped her arm around him, stroking the side of his neck. “We’ll dig our way out of this hole somehow.” She pursed her lips. “Though it’d be great to know what the heck they’d need cash for anyway. I’ve never known Pokemon to handle it, if they ever could.”

The Lucario seemed satisfied by that answer, though Shine only snorted. He resisted the urge to tell her otherwise and decided to cut to the chase. Perhaps he could’ve killed two Pidgey with one Rock Throw.

“Listen, there’s something I need to ask your Lucario. There’s someone important I need to find and his aura might be the key to discovering her whereabouts.” To make it less of a one-sided deal, Shine bowed and added: “If I am to go out there again, I could help to find your missing purse as well.”

“Wallet, not purse,” she corrected, then waved a hand up. “Just kidding, call it what you want. But if you could find it, that would be great.” The trainer rose up, supporting herself on a nearby wall leading to the centre, and looked to her Pokemon. “I’ll be waiting at the front, so meet me back there. I’ll be alright from here on out.”

The Lucario looked at her with pleading eyes. He tried to say something, but thought against it, and glanced back at Shine. For a moment, he thought the Lucario would’ve requested him to relay something in human tongue, but that was cut short when she nodded and entered the Pokemon centre. The two Pokemon were alone.

If there was any wind, a tumbleweed probably would’ve passed between them. Shine licked at one of the small wounds from his earlier encounter, and then, the actual weight of his actions had sunk in. He didn’t hesitate to step in at a time of need, and if he was being honest with himself, that felt good. His present worries were lifted for now, and he felt like a completely different Luxray. Well, almost. The Lucario stared at the spot where his right eye used to be, wincing. Oh no, did he look ugly with that?

“I-I-I’m sorry,” the Lucario said, whimpering.

“For what?” Shine said.

“F-f-for what you’ve been through. I read into your aura.” He clenched his fists. “It j-j-just feels s-so hopeless. Like, s-something terrible happened, yet everything about it’s been locked away in some v-v-vault, or something. I w-w-wish I could help you with that.”

Shine looked to the side, avoiding eye contact. That rocky feeling in his stomach returned.

“O-oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.” The Lucario fell back on the bench and cradled his legs. “I-I’m such an idiot, idiot, idiot--”

“Don’t say that,” Shine said, scowling at him. That only made the Lucario retreat further into his ball of fluff. Perhaps he came across a bit too strongly, but he wasn’t mad at him. Then, why the sour reaction? Again, if he was being truthful, he heard more of his own voice in that Lucario than their own, even down to how he used to stutter. So that was why. Dammit, he was the one being the idiot. And yet Curio was still out there somewhere, the one that would help fix this mess. He needed to get back on track without upsetting the poor Lucario any more. So, he joined him on the bench and leaned into his side.

“Listen. You’re not an idiot. You reacted very quickly when you applied that first aid, and you helped me chase off the last of those other Pokemon. I’d say you’ve got a lot to be proud of.”

“I-I know, maybe.” He tugged at his aura sensors again “I-I’m just not good at t-t-talking to others. Without my t-t-trainer, I don’t know how to act.” He unfurled from his ball and sighed. “The other P-P-Pokemon in my team make fun of me for that.”

That was something Shine could relate to, however subconsciously. Yet again, truthfully, he didn’t know what to say to reassure him. He wasn’t exactly a grizzled sage himself. What would she have said in this situation? If only he could-- oh wait, there was one thing he remembered, however vague it was.

“A good friend told me something, or at least, I believe she was my friend.”

“Y-you believe?”

“Just a hunch. But she told me to just focus on myself and not worry about what others would think about me.”

“R-really? I don’t know.”

Shine sighed. This was all too familiar to him, which made it all the more frustrating to hear. He didn’t have a definitive answer for this, but he had to try anyway.

“Maybe it won’t come immediately. You might be still young. But you’ll get better at it. Just focus on what you think you’re good at.”

There was another moment of silence before the Lucario pulled himself together. “O-okay. I guess I might.”

“Good,” he said with a smile. Now onto the good stuff. “Back to what we said earlier about making it worth my while…”

“Yeah, I know. You want me to tell you about someone, right?”

“Yes. It’s another Lucario, except one with a metal arm. I don’t know how that would read on your aura, but it might help.”

“Y-yeah, okay.” The Lucario stood up, pointing to a cluster of trees at the edge of town. There was a hint of orange lighting up the dark greens of the leaves. “Go straight up that path to Route 15, and you’ll see her on the outskirts there. I can see she’s adding something to something, like she’s lighting a fire. It’s kind of hard to tell.”

“Alright.” Shine stood up and faced the path ahead of him.

“And, er, whatever your name is,” the Lucario added with a smile, “thank you.”

Shine smiled back and sprinted through the path ahead. His heart pumped. His breaths were light. His heavy paws pounded on the pavement and echoed through the streets. That was it. He would’ve finally found Curio, the Lucario that would lead to him regaining his memories. His life was in motion again, like a stubborn leaf blowing through a gale. As the momentum of his limbs carried him, he saw himself catching up to her any second, even if he couldn’t see her with his naked eye. It was tiring. It was fun. It was--

“Geddim!”

Shine’s ears twitched. Multiple sets of paws pounded from the distance behind him. As he ran more and more, it got louder, turning from faint slithers of noise to an assortment of marches sounding in different rhythms. Shine didn’t look back, but his heart quickened and he continued running. As Shine finally saw the border that separated the town from the route, he sprang forward and sprinted, but his movements became erratic, no longer going in a straight line. The sounds of the Claws behind him went from marches to stomps as their paws slapped the floor. Shine still focused on his goal, not taking an eye off the gate.

“Night Slash!”

A hot streak of red tore through Shine’s leg, staggering him instantly. His face met the concrete. Without thinking, Shine clambered his way forward with his forepaws. He had to keep going, but dammit, why now when he was so powerful before? He only covered a few paces before what felt like hundreds of paws grabbed his body. They spoke amongst themselves, all understanding obscured by a cacophony of dozens of mewling voices, and dragged him into the darkness of the alleyway.

“Right guys, I wanna good look at his mug!”

Shine tried to squirm away, however, many sets of paws pinned him down, only giving him leeway to move his head and swish his tail. He tried to resist otherwise, but ended up getting swept up by the fleshy current. Another set of paws picked him up by his side and flipped him over, giving a full view of the Thousand Claws for him to see. Shine took a deep breath and prepared himself for their big reveal after all this searching.

It wasn’t quite a thousand, not even by a quarter, but it was still a lot.

A mix of shadows blended in with one another, all shifting at the sides of the walls. Although he hadn’t adjusted to the dark immediately, one thing that stuck out to him was the stench, somewhere halfway between wet fur and rotten eggs. He gagged at that, but swallowed back the bile. As for the shadows, one look with his golden vision revealed all. Various cat Pokemon crowded around the sides, all marked with scars and fur discoloured with garbage and grime, sitting in formation around a Meowth. They looked the most battle scarred out of the group, with three massive orange streaks covering the face save for their eyes, which were two thin irises of bright blue. They sniffed around him, poking their nose in various places on Shine’s body, who was still pinned down by the gang before him.

“Say,” the Meowth said in a high pitched drawl, “ya smell awfully nice, ya know. Not like us. We can’t getta decent place to bathe. We don’t even wanna lick ourselves clean, we’re that awful. But youze.” He coursed his calloused paws through Shine’s mane. “Youze is very smooth, and soapy. There’s only one type-a Pokemon that smells like that around here, izzat right?”

A few weak mewls came from the stray pack.

“So, where’s your trainer, huh? Seems like the kinda fella that has a lot of dough. Tell ya what, why don’t you walk us over to him, huh?”

Shine grunted, his leg still throbbing from the open wound. They were interrogating him over how nice he smelled, of all things. Why did Tony have to bathe him beforehand?

“Why does that matter to you?”

To that, the Meowth frowned and swiped a claw across Shine’s face.

“Did I say ya could talk back? Hell no, you don’t realise who you’re messin’ with! This is our turf!”

More mewling came from the circle.

“Come on, least you can do is tell us!”

“He’s nowhere near this town.”

The Meowth tugged on Shine’s mane, pulling him closer to the point Shine could smell his decay-ridden breath.

“Whaddya mean, he’s nowhere near this town? What’re you doin’ here then, huh?”

“That means I have nothing to offer you. Now, if you let me go, I have places to be, forget the leg.”

“Like I said, that doesn’t tell me nuthin’! Don’t screw with me like--” The Meowth’s eyes widened and he let go of Shine’s mane. He held a paw close to his face and muttered to himself before turning to the rest of the pack, who spoke in a chaotic chorus. When he finally turned, the Meowth hissed at Shine, making every other member join him in unison.

“So you’re one of them, huh?” The Meowth punched him that time, clocking Shine across his jaw. He groaned as the Meowth pulled him up by his mane again.

“You’re the kindsa Pokemon I hate da most, the kindsa Pokemon that act so high and mighty on their own, the kindsa Pokemon that think they can jus’ waltz anywhere they like without trouble! Ya wouldn’t be nuthin’ if it wasn’t for your trainer, you’re nuthin’ but a pet!”

Punch after punch flew across Shine’s head. He gritted his teeth, withstanding the blows and trying to find some other way out of the situation. Although he couldn’t move his body, his tail was still free, which was enough, and so he wagged it back and forth, charging up the static field around his body. Some of them reacted to it as their fur stuck up, but by then, it was too late.

Shine released his charge, shocking everyone that restrained him, including the Meowth. The rest of the Claws let go, convulsing on the floor, and the Meowth stood, shaking rapidly. Without hesitation, Shine stood up and limped his way out of the alleyway, trying to run. His leg burned from the still open wound, but there was no time to think. He sprang towards the border, gritting his teeth as he focused on reaching Curio, bad leg or not.

The familiar sets of paws stomped behind him. He tried not to turn back as he got closer and closer, and finally, like the Lucario said, plumes of smoke rose up into the night sky.

All at once, the Claws tackled him. A dozen sets of calloused paws smothered his back and dug into the skin. They hissed and growled, tearing new open wounds in various places around Shine’s body. With each new cut, he sent screams that echoed into the night. Each attempt at storing up electricity was interrupted with more flashes of pain. They stopped, pinning him down to the ground for their leader to stagger in front of Shine, blocking his view of the border. The Meowth caressed the part of Shine’s face where his eye was missing.

“Ya know, I wonder what happened to that eye of yours.” If there was any hint of compassion in his voice, that faded away when the leader smiled and pointed a claw at his remaining eye.

“Don’t matter. Now you’ll have a matching set.”

No matter how hard he tried to free himself from his grasp, the other Claws held his head back too, preventing him from even tilting it. With no options left, Shine braced himself for the impact. The moment lasted a few seconds, but it felt like minutes to Shine. There was all the time in the world to think, yet none at the same time. This was happening too fast. He only hoped someone out there would notice him.

A cloud of sugar and sweet tea wafted in the air. One whiff of it distracted him from his fate and brought back memories of the vineyard and all its familiar smells. All of the Claws in front of him turned their heads towards the border, sniffing at the air. One by one, the Claws wandered into the distance in a pack, and the Meowth took a few paces before he turned around with a wide smile on his face.

“Hey, hey, don’t forget him, we still gots business with him! Dat smell though...”

He joined the rest of the pack, cackling as he padded over to the source of the pleasant stench. Shine was accounted for as well, as a set of paws lifted him off his feet and slowly carried him. He shivered with all the cuts around his body, and he fell limply into the paws of his captors. His eye flickered open and shut. Everything in his system told him to sleep, but the thoughts of Curio kept him awake.

The rest of the trip continued like this, drifting between alertness and drowsiness, and eventually, Shine closed his eye for a moment and caught a wink of sleep.

--

"They want us to name ourselves, or somethin’. I came up with one already, so what about you, huh?"

...

"Nothing yet? You could talk to me if you want help with one."

...

"Okay, I’m gettin’ sick of this silent treatment! If you wanna be that way, fine, but I’m namin’ you anyway, something like, like... Shine! You’re Shine from here on out! S-H-I-N-E. Got me?”


--

When he awakened to a glow of orange, there she was, standing in front of the fire. The Lucario with the metal arm. The Lucario that hung out with strangers at night. The Lucario that wrecked the crops in the vineyard. His old friend, Curio.

“How’s it going, you bastards?” She presented a bag to the Claws that crowded around her feet. “This is what you’ve been lookin’ for, a bag full of catnip and many other things to stuff your faces with!”

She lowered it for a moment, and raised it back into the air when all the other Claws leaned against her legs, trying to nab their prize.

“What’s this? You want it all, huh? Well, I guess I could hand it to you here, buuuuuuut...” She turned to the leader, who drooled in the bag’s presence. “I think you have somethin’ of mine you need to return first. So how ‘bout it?”

The Meowth stared for a moment before slapping himself in the face, pulling him out of his catnip coma. “Yeah, yeah, sure, we ain’t had much use for him anyhow. So we’ll take the bag now and--”

“Ah, ah, ah, one thing I forgot to mention, there’s something else you’ve gotta do before you earn this.” Her cheerful expression dropped. “Take back everythin’ else you stole, get outta this town and split up.”

“What?” the Meowth exclaimed, pointing a claw towards her. “You’re on the freakin’ moon if you expect us to do that, this is our town! And what’s it to you, you don’t care about what we do anyway!”

Curio absent-mindedly picked at her ears, holding the bag close to her. “Well, I guess that’s true in a way. I don’t care about what you do to get by; every Mon’s gotta fill their bellies somehow.” She gnashed her sharp teeth. “So far though, you guys have been like pests. And I’ve seen pests like you that’ve done less crappy things in the cities, and you know what happens to them?”

“What?”

“They get exterminated.”

At that, the Meowth’s eyes widened and the pack took a few paces back to join him.

“W-what?”

“You heard me. You don’t have a leg to stand on. Why should the police care about what you go through anyway? To them, you’re just a bunch of vermin.”

“Y-yer wrong, we’re--”

“Shut your hole.” She scowled at them. “Look, when someone finally gets off their ass here and comes to deal with the situation with all their Growlithe and Arcanine and whatnot, you know what’ll happen to you?”

The Meowth stared at her, mouth agape.

“Cat got your tongue? Okay, I’ll answer for you. They’ll char your bones to dust.”

All of the Claws cowered before the leader, and the Meowth turned to the rest of his gang, conversing in shrill mewls. Finally, he commanded them to stand in formation around him, hissing at Curio.

“Ya-ya can’t threaten us, who d’ya think you are, ya dumbass! My Claws will tear ya to shreds and--” He gasped as Curio held the bag over the fire.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Curio said in a mocking tone, leaning closer to the gang as the bag hung over the flames. “I don’t play that sort of game. Lay a finger on me or Shine and I’ll drop the bag! Just think of it. You’ll probably never get this chance again in your miserable lives. And you guys want that taste really badly, right?”

They nodded in unison.

“Then I’ll only give you two options. Leave us alone and never come back, or watch all of this burn! So what’s it gonna be, huh?”

The Claws stood motionlessly alongside their leader.

“Come on, I ain’t got all night. Oh! Maybe you need a little push. How’s this, then?”

Curio stepped back and outstretched her metal arm towards the group, giving them a full view of the palm of her hand which had a red spot in the middle of it. The gang tracked the movements of her hand as she aimed it at them, until the red spot opened like a gate, revealing its metallic insides. Then, a blue ball of energy grew from the inside of it. The other Claws screamed at the sight, backing further and further away from their shaking leader.

“Wanna see what this arm can do?”

The Meowth hyperventilated and fell on his knees, holding out both his paws in front of him.

“Okay, okay, okay, I’ll bite, we’ll leave it all with ya, take the bag and leave, jus’ stop whatever you’re doin’! Stop!”

The sphere disappeared and the hole in her hand closed over.

“There,” she said with a toothy grin. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

In exchange for all of the leftover wallets from their stash, which they passed in a conga line to her, Curio threw the bag to the ground in return. The sight of those tiny bags of powder, flowers and colourful looking fruits sent the gang over the edge. One by one, the Claws poked their heads into the bag and headed towards the forest. Eventually, the group that held Shine let go as well, dropping his limp body onto the grass as they joined the rest. The Meowth was the last to join, who retrieved a lone silvervine fruit and cupped it in his paws. He clutched it in his chest and inhaled deeply. With that, he seemed satisfied, but before he left, he scowled at Curio.

“I thought you was crazy for a Pokemon, or even for somethin’ like a human, but you’re not even that! You’re an it!”

Just like the rest, the Meowth ran towards the route and disappeared into the night, but not before Curio flipped the Skarmory behind their backs, blowing a Razzberry.

A moment passed between them. Shine kept silent, not knowing what to say, and Curio cast a glance at Shine’s direction. It came back to him. Her green eyes glowed in the dark, like they always did, and even the new scar across her muzzle didn’t blemish her face. It was the first time they made eye contact in five years. That moment of serene silence broke as Curio burst into laughter, falling to her knees.

“Holy crap, I’m literally shaking.” To punctuate that, she held her remaining paw up, which wobbled in the air. “I didn’t think that’d actually work. Either they were really dumb or I was just lucky.”

His vision faded as the stinging sensation of his wounds got to him at last. Curio bent over, putting her paw behind his head.

“Uh, Shine?”

Before he could say anything to reassure her, Shine fainted.
 
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Raggy

(─‿‿─)
Location
From
It’s pizza night. I’m done for the day begging people on the streets to play Monaco with me, so I guess I’ll pretend to be a reviewer again.

3 chapter third - The title references drugs which is illegal so I can’t condone it (also I escaped from hell)

Uhhhh, last time on Terminator, unit SH-1N3 finally triangulated his target Curio within the Dendemille metropolitan zone. The investigation phase took a long time so it’s night time out, and not just any night, coal black night which is a damning indictment of Kalos light pollution (back at it again with the pseudo french). Turning on creeper-vision, he conveniently spots a Lucario shaped object nearby, but just finds a dead rat. So much for preying and stalking at night huh. The phantom pain kicks in again, but Shine avoids relapse by transferring his pain to a random bystander.

I was wrong, it was just someone getting beat up. And a different Lucario, ah that one’s a fakeout, you’re very mean. Shine is starting to learn to be a good pokemon, so he decides to help! +Good boy points, but not too many because the cats have a stanky accent and I despair over it. Anyway, another day, another mugging stopped. Dendemille must be filled with a bunch of conscientious objectors if they’re being terrorized by basic stage teenage gangsters. At least the trainer treats their Lucario like an equal, what a role model. Speaking of role models, there goes Shine being a big cat on campus again, graciously accepting a shitty escort quest.

Like, how does the Thousand Claws expect to maintain a profitable business model in the face of technological progress. Even in the real world, physical money is quickly being replaced by card readers, and unless a bunch of Meowth are going to stand on each other shoulders and wear a trench coat to the atm, then they’re going to be SOL. Of course, I’m probably underestimating some aspect of them, they probably at least know how to fence things. Still, what are you gonna do? Use their ID online to solicit donations of cat food? I wouldn’t suppose they have a taste for fine brandy or comped rooms at the game corner.
(Alas, right after I write this, you address it yourself with the trainer, but I’m sticking to my guns bitch. That’s what I get for doing play by play)

The only way to make Shine come off as less of a loser is of course to introduce a conga line of characters who are even bigger doormats. That’s all I have to say about that, even if it works. Shine gets some prime intel as to where the beef is really at, and we’re off again. Inventory plus one good deed, and one grudge.

Oh yeah baby, the grudge is cashed in n o w. “Fleshy current”, I like that one.
We meet the garbage clan, requirement for joining, having been burnt or soaked recently and missing at least a third of your teeth. There’s a bit here about the cats complaining about trained pokemon and some society-esque posturing, but nothing to write home about. Maybe if these cats just jumped in water or something, they’d feel better. Obviously they don’t know better because they fall for the shockwave trick again.

Saved by the good smells. Don’t know if I should be disappointed in his luck. But whatever, as fun as blind cat would have been, there’s things to do. Like having an audio flashback.

Cue-ball to the rescue. If anything, Shine’s earlier rescue karmically paid off. But tis a proper introduction to the other half of the Laurel and Hardy of this fiction. A few epithets to start us off, ‘Curio the black knight’, ‘The Lucario your parents tell you to avoid’, ‘Curio of the hidden sand’, and ‘Grape hater’. For all the violence this implies, our first impression is one of diplomacy, a truly enlightened individual, ah she’s showing off, never mind.

Now for a proper introduction, Curio is the casual type. Real suave and cool.
The proper counterpoint to the dirty guy dying on the floor.


Hmmm, I think I feel more sardonic than usual today. Regardless, another important chapter in the Shine biopic, introducing his only love in life. This is a seminal moment in the saga, which will be fondly remembered in chapter 47 when Shine sacrifices himself to stop the opening of the expanse. Through cultural diffraction, I essentially know the gist of Curio’s deal already, really not feeling it, but no one will know that. I get what people were saying about Shine being so much of a foil that he tears even easier than aluminium, but that’s just who he is, and personally I don’t really mind. It’s a matter of taste I guess, and if watching cats prostrate themselves to everyone they meet is a turn off, then so be it. That’s an over-exaggeration.

I guess I’m done again. Sorry for not having a meatier opinion. I have an idea though, I’ll put a song that summarizes that mood for the chapter. That’s pretty innovative right?
For this one, uh. School Girl by Bennie K This song is representative of the aesthetic I feel from this.
 

Adamhuarts

Well-known member
Pronouns
He/Him
Chapter 1 Review

Boy, this review sure ended up being long overdue huh. Uni has been kicking my ass for a while so I'm sorry for the delay.

When I heard you'd revised the story, I expected bigger changes honestly, but I'm glad it's mostly the same familiar story I read a while back.

The inclusion of the flashback scene at the beginning was very much appreciated and acts as a decent enough hook for the reader, and though it's subtle, it feels less abrupt now that Shine can speak the human tongue and everyone's okay with that.

All in all, it was a fun read. I think I'll pick back up where I left off in the previous version, whenever I remember the point I last left off. I think it was when Curio took him to that bar with the pokemon in it and they had an argument?
 

Adamhuarts

Well-known member
Pronouns
He/Him
Chapter 2 Review

Just read up the second chapter now. I don't remember much from the last version of it, so I can't really compare my opinions on this one compared to it. In any case, I liked a lot of the interactions in this chapter. Dialogue is definitely one of the things you've got nailed down pretty well.

Having characters that speak in thick accents and tamed pokemons like the leofeon who speak in broken speech was a pretty nice touch too. I feel sorry for that Quilladin in the chess game lol. Poor guy can't hope to beat a psychic type in a chess game especially.

All around a solid chapter. 9.5/10 it has a little something for everyone.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
He ran alongside the asphalt, shouting to anyone that might’ve listened. Surely, one person must’ve seen his condition and stopped to help, but nobody did. They blitzed through the road, which even he couldn’t catch up with in his faltering condition. Why didn’t they stop?
The bystander effect is a frightening thing,

A pang of guilt nestled in Shine’s gut. As much as he wanted to keep up with Tony’s boundless energy, he always found himself lagging behind. There were still the memories that revisited him, some good, but buried by the rest. The yelling. The fights. The eye. The arm. The mask. The taste of oxidation. The screams. The broken dreams. But he was free from that now. At least, he hoped so. His eye moistened as those fragments of time resurfaced, and Tony embraced him, hugging him tight through that suit. It felt strangely comforting even as the rubber stuck to Shine’s coat.

“It’s alright, it’s alright. You don’t need to worry anymore.”

“I-I know,” Shine said through his sniffles. “I-I’ll try to en-enjoy today. T-thanks.”
Awww...

“And so does your collar!” It didn’t take long for her to stick her beak into Shine’s neck, fiddling about with the red accessory. “I bet it’ll look great in my collection!”
Look with your eyes, silly birb!

(I almost said "look with your hands". I mmmmmay not have gotten much sleep last night.)

“You’re not stealing this again. You don’t just take from other people.”

“Sure I do!” she said with a grin.
I mean. She's technically not wrong??

"Yeah, I'm kind of banned here, so I'm leaving this dump. I hope whatever you're doing in Dendemille works out and stuff."

Shine partly wondered what she did to earn such ire from the rancher, but he smiled anyway and bowed to his sticky-beaked helper.
I'm sure whatever she did far exceeds even his imaginings on the subject. :p

At the end of that, his stomach was satisfied, and Shine rested by the cushions next to one sleeping Litleo. He stared at her for a moment as she purred and snored.
Awww, cute kitty...

On closer inspection, it was an odd looking Magikarp made half to scale with empty cans of Cheri Psycho Soda for the body, yellow bits of plastic sticking out for a tail and large wads of gum for the eyes.
Gum eyes. CHEWED gum eyes. That's nasty, Curio. :p

(Also I apparently can't see the phrase "gum for the eyes" without thinking of those delightfully awful character popsicles with the gumball eyes that tend to be off the mark. Imagine a magikarp version of those. Both gumballs on one side by mistake. Magiflounder.)

“Yeah!” The Quilladin yelled, pumping his claw in the air. “Kiss some, er, what do they say, Barley?”

“Kick some ass.” He winked.
Pfff, yeah, no need to be kissing any ass. Especially given the Claws' hygiene...

A ghost town, god forbid if there were actually ghost types plaguing Dendemille. Were there any recent hauntings around Kalos, or in the papers?
I bet Menhir Trail has been haunted af at some point or another.

The Meowth tugged on Shine’s mane, pulling him closer to the point Shine could smell his decay-ridden breath.
NASTY

Just like the rest, the Meowth ran towards the route and disappeared into the night, but not before Curio flipped the Skarmory behind their backs, blowing a Razzberry.
For a moment, I wondered: of all the pokémon you could've chosen for the snowclone, why skarmory; was there a reason? And then it hit me. Her hand. Her hand is made of metal. That's why, isn't it.

It's good to be reading this again. :D These characters are a delight, and the world is fleshed out so nicely, especially where human-pokémon relations and the culture that's sprung up where they overlap are concerned.
 
Pronouns
He
This isn't exactly a review, more like a set of comments I had while reading.
Chapter 1
From what I gather Luxray (Shine is the main character) and he can speak like a human can. This has the advantage of removing all language barrier problems. On the other hand, there is a lot of fun writing you can do to show how a pokemon has to communicate when it cannot explicitly speak so you loose that.
-------------------------
One thing is that all pokemon seem to have similar levels of intelligence. I mean they all have their quirk, but the level of sapience seems to be the same. Of course, I have only seen murkrow and luxray so far. But I wonder, would there be a noticeable difference in say an oddish or a magikarp and something up the evolutionary line?
----------------------




“A Lucario was spotted at night battling against the gang of stray Pokemon, believed to be known as the ‘Thousand Claws’, who have terrorized Dendemille Town ever since their arrival, with muggings and reported kidnappings of other Pokemon. The altercation lasted only a minute as they dispersed when the police came. So far, the details of the Lucario are elusive, but as they have speech skills similar to that of humans, they are wanted for questioning by the force, as they’re believed to be a part of the blighted gang.”

If criminal pokemon get too big, will the league perhaps intervene? Perhaps send an ace trainer or a powerful psychic to scan the area?

-----------------------




Still, he understood that Tony had to deal with delicate situations if a rescued Pokemon ever went into surgery, and besides, dealing with her Aurorus was another issue entirely. Despite the burning sensation in his paws, he took a deep breath and relaxed his stance.

Ines the head of communications has an aurorus? Is restoration technology common here or is she super-rich maybe and can afford one.



-------------------

Hmm, so broken memories connected to this lucario. Probably scrambled from his accident

---------------

He wasn’t sure how much it was for a Dragonite exactly, but probably a lot. I'm actually not sure how fast a dragonite is. though dex lore says It can circle the globe in just 16 hours.. on the other hand, a pidgeot (which is much more common) is said to his POKéMON flies at Mach 2 speed, seeking prey. Its large talons are feared as wicked weapons. So a pidgeot would be more available and cheap(edited)



Though then again, I think both entries are pure bs, cause if a pidgeot could actually fly at 2x the speed of sound it could one hit kill any pokemon and be the greatest thing ever. And if its body can actually withstand that, then it's stronger than steelix. Of course, that can be explained by pokemon magic but

hmm



interesting to think on



-------------------
He needed to make decisions of his own, and Tony encouraged that, so how did a collar impact their relationship at all? Since time was of the essence at that point, Shine steeled his resolve. It was time to tear off the band-aid. He hesitated before he lifted his neck up for the intruding Murkrow.

Bauble is really unempathetic
---------------------

Im a little unsure about the how expensive a dragonite is. From what I've gathered, the place has a whole herd of dragonite. And they seem to be not doing buisness most of the time. Though the place has to feed them. When the dragonite are not working (which will be a lot of the time given their price) is their anything else they do to earn their keep, so to say. I kinda feel like the more you have theless expensive something is. Like if there was one dragonite, and lots of pidgys (or something).



-----------------

I liked the first chapter
I'll be continuing this!
 
Pronouns
He
Chapter 2
Thoughts/Musings

“Who are you?” Leafeon called as she stood in front of him. “Are you an enemy?” “What, no, I--” Has any villain ever responded with "yes I'm the villain" to the above question? LMAO
---------------------


“Wait! Need to check!” The Leafeon buried her nose in Shine’s coat, sniffing him down.
yeah, sure... Check him real well
----------------------
I find that pokemon language/human language to be an extremely interesting concept. you see, pokemon understand each other WITHOUT changing what they say. This means that for a pikachu to talk to a bidoof, it still says pika pi and not bi-bidoof. Pokemon also have been shown to understand language. which means the words itself are not important. Perhaps they have a way to understand intent? This would also mean that you cannot just learn every human speech, but each language would have to be learned individually? Unless in the verse there is only one language?

-------------------


Also “Well,” Delphox said, blowing smoke out of his nostrils,
A male delphox is blasphamy. Its like a male gardevoir. The pokedex tells us they exist, but we pretend otherwise

------------------------
------------

one of the images I get is that pokemon in the wild are just really bored, and that probably one of the reasons they stick with trainers


to kill time

to be fair animals are probably fine cause they are so instinct driven


being that sapient and have nothing to do is probably soul crushing


I have access to the internet and I am regularly bored out of my mind


actually an interesting perspective

-------------------



Quilladin stood from his seat, lifted the table’s leg and flipped it over. Shine slinked quietly from the PokeStop to the sound of chess pieces tumbling everywhere with a crash.
Someones a sore loser.
--------------------

I definitely enjoyed the chapter. Fluffy and light, and full of interactions. To be honest the interactions themselves overshadow the mystery buildup. I find myself exploring the rest of the world which much more attention than the occasional hint to his lost memories. As in right now, it feels more of a Slice of Life in which Shine is exploring with his entire mystery/lost memories as the side plot. Still having a lot of fun reading it though.
 
Pronouns
He
Musings
Chapter 3
-------------
Shine turned away, suppressing the urge to vomit. This didn’t make sense: he was a feline Pokemon, so the sight shouldn’t have been such a shock to him. It certainly wasn’t in his own stray days before he met Tony. So, why now?
The effect of civilization, eh? Or perhaps its the sent of blood which triggers ane episode. But unless shine eats vegetarian, he should be triggered every time he eats. Maybe the overall image?
-----

Before him was a trainer, sprawled out on the ground with a gash in her leg. In front of her was her Lucario, shooting aura spheres from his paws at a group of attacking cats.
Awkward wording. I'd probably replace it with— Her Lucario stood in front of her, hurling aura spheres at a group of attacking cats.
-------------
The Glameow only sneered and turned her back on them. “Nyeh, you’ll pay fer dis.”
maybe fit in some caqt puns if your gonna write it in this style?
------------

anyway cat puns could always go if you are giving them a distinct style. For example, glameow could say "That's purrfect" or "I'm not kitten around"
----------
**“P-p-please?” the Lucario said, pulling off those baby doll eyes.**
the Lucario is male
though I guess that's a bit of a sexist comment
---------
Shines problems are feeling much more real this chapter
im getting more into it
-----------

A cloud of sugar and sweet tea wafted in the air. One whiff of it distracted him from his fate and brought back memories of the vineyard and all its familiar smells. All of the Claws in front of him turned their heads towards the border, sniffing at the air. One by one, the Claws wandered into the distance in a pack, and the Meowth took a few paces before he turned around with a wide smile on his face.

Catnip. heh
-------------
So he finally meets curio
next chapter will be their reactions and stuff
which is always fun
 

NebulaDreams

Well-known member
Chapter 4. Dendemille's Brawlers, Part 1

“Hey, Shine.”

“Y-yes?”

“I’ve kinda been thinking about Mama again. It’s hard, y’know. I’m just wonderin’ if you can read more of her book to me.”

“O-oh, yes, absolutely. I’m not too busy. You enjoyed the last story, didn’t you?”

“Kinda, but I also fell asleep. Something about Arceus makin’ the world or something. Ah well. I guess that’s what bedtime stories are for, so it must’a worked.”

“Well, good to hear. Alright, I guess I could continue with the first story after the prologue, fittingly called Part the First. Ahem.”

“Once, trees grew from blood-soaked soil. After the gods slept, man and Pokemon fought against one another, killing millions. Only then, did their blood mix into the land. From there, they tried to co-exist, but the pieces did not entirely fit together. Pokemon still could not fully understand man, and so, their worlds remained separate, or so they thought.”

“In one corner of the earth, a human couple took a lonely egg from a nearby mountain and kept it warm in their cottage. They could not bear children, as the woman was infertile. However, after the egg hatched into a male Bonsly, they took care of him as their own. Despite his nature, they adapted by airing out the cottage whenever possible, as Bonsly could not stay too damp, or else, die. Even when forced to hunt Pokemon to sustain themselves for the day in their rickety abode, they spent every other second looking after the Pokemon, so much so, the villagers grew distant from them.”

“At first, he only spoke in cries and moans. After spending a prolonged amount of time with them, however, he uttered his first few words in the human tongue: ‘love you’. Love is an abstract and immaterial concept, but known to Pokemon all the same. To have a mate or a family member to confide in is the very essence of love, but to describe it is like trying to catch the wind with a net. Even the word itself is a construction of human cultures. Yet this one Pokemon harnessed the very essence of his human caretakers.”

“Although this surprised the two, they welcomed Bonsly with open arms and passed their knowledge down to him. How to make hides. How to cook a hearty meat stew. How to make a poultice from nearby berries. With each task fulfilled, the humans and the Pokemon grew closer. Nevertheless, his parents remained cautious and warned him to keep silent outside. The idea of Pokemon speaking human, for one thing, was an affront to nature, as it was not by the white god’s design, which scared the settlers within their village. Beyond that, it was said that if Pokemon were allowed to speak, they would show themselves as the dominant species and break the great chain of being, bringing chaos unto the world.”

“By the time the Bonsly evolved into a Sudowoodo, sprouting to double his size, he could converse fully with his surrogate parents. He would question the world, his own existence, and everything both infinitely large and infinitesimal. Although the parents found themselves unable to answer, the Sudowoodo’s curiosity was boundless. He desired to explore the world at large, to see that giant ball of fire sink into the sea, to see campfires shine brilliant lights in empty woods, and to see the solar winds drape the skies with blankets of colour.”

“Despite his wishes, his surrogates would not allow him to leave. They could not enforce it, only persuade against, and so, he obeyed, for the moment. While they slept, the Sudowoodo ventured outside.”

“Stillness surrounded the village. Everyone had turned in for the night, and from what the Sudowoodo heard, everyone had different duties. One was a trader of foreign goods. A herder of Mareep. A tamer of Pokemon. They all seemed to have different callings in life, so why didn’t he? The Sudowoodo, who could walk on two legs and talk, just like them. Why?”

“His first sighting was of two Houndoom kept on an iron leash. Curious, he dwelled near, only to stop as they barked at him. His scent was unusual. Must be an intruder. The Sudowoodo only bowed in front of them though, extending his branches as they watched with a newfound curiosity. He smiled, then channeled his energy into the leaves, making them change colour. The two Houndoom remained silent. Their reactions, he couldn’t quite figure out. Were they scared of the intruder? Or were they entranced?”

“A villager kicked the door open, fuming at the scene before him. He demanded an explanation. His Sudowoodo delivered in the same tongue as them. Surely, they would stand to reason as his surrogates did. Then, to his surprise, the villager released the bindings on the Houndoom and commanded their Pokemon to attack. He was forced to hide in plain sight by turning into a tree, allowing his escape.”

“Once he returned home, however, his cottage was in flames. The humans who had raised him knelt down in front of the chief, who summoned a pair of Houndoom at their feet from their binding spell, ready to attack. The Sudowoodo charged through the mob to meet his surrogates and pleaded for their lives, begging to leave his loved ones alone. The chief only saw something unnatural and commanded the Houndoom to fire. The Sudowoodo caught alight, in front of his parents who taught them the very thing that destroyed their home. Before he burned out completely, through the flames, the Sudowoodo stood in the middle of the mob's circle and spoke thus.”

““You came with your swords, torches and predators, I came with my human tongue. I might be the first to speak your language, but I will certainly not be the last. These words will spread like wildfire even after I burn out.”

“He turned to ash, as did his surrogates, and so, the village moved on while the cottage’s remains laid still. The two Houndoom, however, learned to understand their master, and devoured them before fleeing that land. They would spend the rest of their days travelling through the wild. Even in spirit, the Sudowoodo’s wish to see the world carried through them, as they saw all sorts of wonders, the most magnificent of which were the lights of the great aurora.”

“Some day, you, dear reader, will realise the possibilities of the world around you, and the dangers that come with shutting off your heart to the possibility of change.”

“For anything is possible in this world of worlds: The Manifold Curiosity.”

“Huh.”

“Huh?”

“I ain’t so sure about how to feel about that one. It was kinda depressing, to be honest. So… speak human and you’ll be burnt to a crisp? That’s not what we’ve been taught, is it?”

“O-oh, no, I, um, don’t think that’s what the author meant. The Sudowoodo was in the right. And besides, how can Rock types be burnt to ashes anyway? At least, from what I read in the typing guide.”

“Yeah, but wood burns! A lot! And he has wood in the name, so what gives?”

“I, um, I’m not sure what to say to that.”

“Ah well. Sorry for going off and stuff. You did make me feel better though. I think Mama would really like this kinda story.”

“Good to hear.”

“So, um, how about that next one?”

“Go on. We have time before our next lesson.”

“Oh, right? Err, what are we doing again?”

“Language studies. We should be doing tongue twisters this time around.”

“Ah, right. Well, thanks a bunch, Shine.”

“Any time, Curio.”


---

Shine woke up outside of the treatment bay room. There were many Pokeballs hooked to healing machines in the various stacks of shelves, and he was right in the middle of it. So he was in a Pokemon centre. No wonder it smelled so clinical. And he could stand properly as well! The wounds were completely gone, and his torn up leg was as good as new, which he reflexively shook. He didn’t know what he expected after last night, but it certainly was a surprise. Yet, the most surprising sight of all was Curio. She stood to his right with her arms crossed, looking at one of the nurses, except it clearly wasn’t Nurse Joy if the pink stubble was anything to go by.

“Well,” Curio said in her distinct human tongue, “we free to go now? You’ve kinda been keepin’ me here all night, with no good movies or anythin'. The entertainment's really weak here, you know.”

“Um, okay," Nurse Boy said, "but everything looks fine, and his leg’s healed up now, so go for it.”

“Awesome.” Curio headed out of the treatment bay through to the main hall with her satchel bag in tow. Shine stood still for a moment, not fully processing what to do next. It still didn’t feel real, not even after last night. Getting saved by her was more like a dream than anything else.

“Don’t you wanna follow after her, bud?” Nurse Boy said, scratching his Gogoat chin.

“E-er, yeah, right.” Shine shambled out of the room to try and catch up with Curio, eventually walking by her side. Shine’s heart pumped rapidly. Dammit, what was there to be so nervous about? It was only his friend, a long-lost, potentially off-putting one at that, so why? He tried to speak, though no words came out of his mouth. Curio didn’t respond either, walking out of the Pokemon centre and onto Dendemille’s sun-baked pavement. Only when they were out, Curio stopped and turned to face Shine for the first time. His heart skipped a beat as he saw that scarred face in broad daylight.

“Shine,” she said with a frown, kneeling down to his level. “What the hell you were thinking last night?!” She grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him violently. He was taken aback, both by her sudden exclamation and the chilling cold of that arm brushing against his fur. Right, that arm. She still had the metal arm. That unnatural thing. Why--

“Well?!”

Right, no time to waste. Shine gulped down his fear and spoke.

“I, uh, I was looking for you, I heard—”

“Yeah, I know that much. Barley said you went snoopin’ around, and that’s fine and all, but becoming that Meowth’s ransom shouldn’t have been on your to-do list! So I’ll ask again, what were you thinking?”

Shine was speechless. He couldn’t pick up the pace, and Curio kept shaking him to try and get out of his stupor. It all became too much for him at once, and his lip quivered.

“I-I don’t know,” he said, on the verge of tears. “I-I just wanted to see you again.”

Her grip softened, though it was still as cold as ever.

“You idiot.” She looked scornful for a moment, then slowly, wrapped her arms around Shine’s body. “Stupid, crap for brains, idiot.” She leaned in closer to Shine to the point where the tip of her spike touched his chest. Somehow, he trusted her enough not to impale him.

“Oh, who am I kidding? It’s great to see you again, Sunshine.”

Sunshine. Just like the morning sun shining on his back, the mention of that nickname warmed his body. He hadn’t heard that name in so long, and yet, like a hot water bottle or a good book to read under a lamplight, that brought him back to those better days. Even through the quiet sobs, Shine smiled and stood on his hindpaws to embrace her. They held for that moment as time went to a standstill, and it was just them. The scent of mud on Curio’s fur. The crackling of his own static field reacting to her arm. And then, a few titters coming from far away. There was a pack of Furfrou belonging to a preppy-looking trainer, who laughed at the scene from the other side of the road. That brought Shine out of the moment.

“Oh dear,” Shine said, “we probably look kind of silly, don’t we?”

“Eh, screw ‘em. Who cares what they think?” Curio patted him on the back once more before backing away from him. They stared at each other for a moment longer. Even then, this still didn’t feel real. There were so many questions he had to ask. Who was he to her? Why was she in Kalos? How much did she remember that he didn’t? His head was stuffed to the brim with jumbled puzzle pieces.

“I don’t even know where to start.”

“Yeah, same as you.” Curio stood and patted the dust off her blue pants. “But I’ve got places to be, so we might as well figure stuff out on the way. How’s that sound?”

With nowhere else to go, Shine nodded, and Curio led the way through the various streets of Dendemille. He glanced at a few of the passers-by on his side, who was surprised to see they paid no attention to the two strutting Pokemon. In general, the citizens were less downcast and more eager to smile. Then he remembered how apprehensive they were around him when the Thousand Claws still inhabited the city and how Curio drove them out. That was a good place to start.

“Sorry you had to drag me to the Pokemon centre,” he said. “I wish we had met under less desperate conditions.”

“Well,” Curio said, “them’s the breaks, I guess. Hopefully we won’t have to deal with those guys ever again. Hopefully.”

“You mean you don’t know?”

“Eh, they’re slower than a buncha Slowpoke in molasses, but I’m sure they’ll get the hint.”

“Yes, perhaps.”

There was a period of silence between them. The conversation deteriorated from there, even as Shine tried to think of something else to say. What did she think of him? He wasn’t exactly setting a good first, or rather, first-in-a-while impression. He thought himself as rather boring whenever he introduced himself to new people. Or maybe that was the inner critic speaking again.

“Look, Shine,” she said, “you don’t hafta worry about coming up with stuff. We’ve got plenty of time today.”

Somehow, she read his mind. Maybe it was that aura power of hers, but he shook his head, continuing with the conversation. “Yes, I know.” Then, a lightbulb flashed in his head. “Actually, more about the Claws, why did they come here anyway?”

Curio blew a raspberry. “I dunno. They were just a bunch of pissed off strays basically. No owner, nowhere to go, and no one to really take them in.”

Human swear aside, he held onto that thought as he remembered his own experiences as a stray. Reading in the library at day as his only source of solace, digging through the trash at night out of neccessity. It wasn’t something he wanted to remember, but it was a part of his history, just like everything else, including GeL.

“So, what did you do with all of the stolen goods, anyway?”

“Eh, I returned them to the station; I wasn’t gonna hold onto ‘em like an idiot.” She grinned. “Might’ve nicked a few notes here and there, but nobody’ll notice.”

Shine glanced at her, surprised by her admitted crime. He was about to bring it up, when--

“Welp, we’re here!”

Curio stopped outside a cafe with the design of an Alolan Raichu holding pancakes plastered onto the window. Shine pushed that other thought to the back of his mind and focused on the cafe’s environment. The most noticeable feature was the group of Pikachu and Pichu crowded around the middle, playing with each other as they skittered across the floor. In the midst of all of this were a few customers with their own Pokemon, enjoying the company of the Pikachu as they allowed themselves to be petted. There were all sorts of decorations as well, with plants hanging from the ceiling and doodles of various Pokemon adorning the walls.

“So this is a Pikachu Cafe,” Shine said.

“Well duh. It’s not called The Yellow Rat for no reason.”

“Yes, I know that.” He grumbled, trying to recover from Curio’s quip. “It’s just the first time seeing one in person. I thought it would’ve been more common in the bigger cities.”

“Well, you’re right about that. Eevee cafes, Meowth cafes, you name it, you could literally open up anything over there from what I’ve seen.”

Shine thought about that for a moment. So she seemed well travelled, that much was true. Then, wait, was it true that they could open any type of cafe?

“What about a Koffing cafe?”

“Koffe! But nah, you’d need a gas mask for that sorta thing.”

Shine chuckled at that mental image.

“Okay, let’s go in. I’m starving.” Curio opened the door, holding it for Shine as he entered. The hints of brewed coffee, cheese and buttermilk wafted in, whispering sweet nothings to both his nose and his stomach. He hadn’t eaten since the night before. He didn’t have time to think about that though as a mischief of Pichu bombarded him, nuzzling at his coat.

“Hey hey!” one Pichu said. “A new friend!”

“He’s an electric type too! Can we keep him?”

“Big ball of fluff! Big ball of fluff!”

Shine sat still as they patted at him in all sorts of ways, not wanting to offend any of them but needing to tell them to kindly get lost. This sort of attention wasn’t exactly something he craved, especially not from a bunch of hatchlings.

“Hey, guys,” Curio said, “let me join in the fun as well.”

Thankfully, they stopped harassing Shine and moved onto Curio instead, climbing all over her body as she petted them in turn. She seemed nonplussed by the whole thing, or rather, actively solicited their attention, balancing them on her shoulders and arms as she slipped on some non-static slippers by the shoe-rack. He noticed the other human customers wearing the same thing. Perhaps it was to be expected, considering those Pichu were essentially living batteries. Then Curio walked, electric rodents in tow, to the cafe till where a tanned, pudgy man leaned behind it, waving at her with a hairy arm.

“Ay!” he said, “it’s good to see you here! Ready for your last day?”

“Hell yeah,” she said, stroking a Pichu by the ears.

“It’s a shame we’ll have to find someone else, but oh well, I’m sure my fellas will understand.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Curio glanced at Shine. “Say, can you fix up somethin’ for my pal here? He’s feelin’ a bit peckish too.”

The man peered over the bar and looked down to Shine, moustache twitching.

“Maybe, but that depends if his kind is lactose intolerant.”

“O-Oh, er, actually,” Shine said, not sure how to respond. “I’ve had plenty of dairy myself and I can safely say I’ve never had any problems with it. Erm, why?”

The man smiled. “Not to worry, bud. It’ll be a nice surprise. But anyway, right this way.” He stopped to lift the bar stand and waved at the two, disappearing into the hissing coffee machines.

Shine followed Curio into a private suite room, with a low cut table in the middle and an assortment of colourful plush beanbags as furniture. Just like the main area, the walls were decorated with patterns of Pokemon as well as floral designs. This seemed to be designed for customers wanting to have a more close session with their Pikachu hosts. It wouldn’t have been anything to write home about, except for that wallpaper and those beanbags. Floral wallpaper. Colourful beanbags. Why was that familiar to him? It didn’t seem anything out of the ordinary, but...

No, he knew why. There were those halls, and those classrooms at GeL, that featured both of them.

“Hey, Shine,” Curio said, “you’re spacin’ out.”

“O-oh, yes, right.” He shook off that thought and sat on one of the cushions as Curio joined him. The Pichu crowded around her lap, chittering peacefully as she stroked them. She seemed to be quite well known in this cafe. Then, what business did she have here?

“I know you’re wonderin’ what I’m doin’ here,” Curio said with a grin.

“U-um, did you just--”

“Yeah, I read your aura. Sorry, invasion of privacy and all, but whatever.”

“N-no, it’s alright.” Shine cocked his head. “For now, I think. But yes, isn’t this to do with Barley?”

“Bingo. That bat’s been a godsend to me here. He made a deal with that guy you saw back there, he’s got mad connections, I tell you, and next thing I know, I’m teachin’ human for these guys.”

Shine’s jaw dropped. “You’re a teacher?”

“Eh, not really. Whenever I’m in town anywhere, I just do it on and off if I can find work. Gotta fill my belly somehow. It’s better than huntin’ or pickin’ through scraps to get by.”

Shine grimaced. “I know the feeling.”

The two laid there for a moment, as Shine didn’t know what to say next. True, the warm feeling was still there, but without fully knowing the person beside him, it was of little comfort. That was, until the pudgy man stomped in with two baskets, one filled with an assortment of berries and the other filled with croissants. Shine instantly sniffed at its contents, sampling the sweet and savoury scents.

“Just help yourself to them throughout the lesson. There’s plenty to go around.”

Before he left, he poured a pitcher of water into a glass as well as a bowl fit for Shine to drink from. With that, the two were left to their own devices. Curio took a few paws worth of croissants and laid some on the floor beside Shine while she attended to hers. When Shine nibbled at the tip of his croissant, he bit into a layer of creamy cheddar. He purred with delight and devoured the rest.

“You like it?” Curio asked.

“Yes, of course. This is stunning,” Shine said.

“Right? I couldn’t have picked a better place to teach if I tried!”

She took a big bite out of one end and pulled back, dangling a string of cheese from the middle of the pastry. Before she could fully enjoy hers, one of the other Pichu bit the end of it. She didn’t struggle though, and let them have that to themselves while she took out two Oran berries, one for herself and one for Shine. They were tender and cold, nourishing Shine with its sweet juices. It complimented the cheesy aftertaste quite well. He didn’t have time to linger on it any longer, though, as a lone Pikachu skittered in, looking at Curio expectantly. He had a tiny bow wrapped around him, so he did belong to a trainer.

“Hi hi, Curio!” the Pikachu said.

“Yo,” she said, reaching out to stroke his ears. “How’s the cafe service been?”

“Eh, good! The humans are so nice to me and the food is delicious, as usual! So, what are we doing today?”

“Well, I guess we could just chill for a bit this time. Yanno, try talkin’ in human, and I’ll tell you where to go after we finish, okay?”

He nodded.

“Alright, starting now. So, you been trainin’ recently?”

The Pikachu tapped his rosy cheek with a thoughtful expression, and opened his mouth to say something, but hesitated, then opened it again.

“Little. Trainer in, er-- not in building.”

“The school?”

“Yes.”

“Ah, so she’s still getting the tuition, then? I guess your tips have been helpin’ with that.”

“Yes. Don’t know money, but helps. Sometimes, I battle.”

“Oh yeah? What kinds of Pokemon were you up against?”

“Street Pokemon. I battle. Mostly lose.”

“It ain’t easy when you’re starting out.”

“Feel small. Em...”


Pikachu stopped, scrunching up his soft, round face.

“Em-beer-ess-in.”

“Em-barr-ass-ing,”
Shine chimed in. “It’s pronounced embarrassing.” Pikachu gave Shine an unsure look, to which Curio leaned in and spoke in his ear.

“I’m not too hung up on that stuff yet,” she said. “Just let him speak as well as he can and he’ll get it right over time.”

“But—”

Curio pulled away from him and continued her conversation, the start of many to come. They talked about things such as what Pikachu’s to-be trainer did to earn her license, what friends Pikachu made out in the town square, how he started using Curio’s teachings to impress said friends and customers, and a story about how Pikachu ended up being chased by a Purrloin at night and lived to squeak about it another day. Shine mostly sat from the sidelines, feeling a little cut out from the whole thing.

He was still unsure about where his standing was, in the grand scheme of things. Being told off by Curio when he itched to correct the Pikachu’s mistakes put him in a tight spot. Then again, why did he care anyway? His friend was there beside him. His friend that, well, he didn’t know much about. Shine tried to put that past him, munching on another delicious croissant. And another one. And another one still. At this rate, he would’ve gobbled down the whole basket, given his affinity for pastry. He felt rather full though, and so, he stopped, yawning with a satisfied drowsiness. Tuning out the chattering students, Shine drifted off into his reverie.

--

“So, class, we’ll be doing tongue-twisters today. They’re a very common exercise for humans to improve their fluency, and I believe we should follow their example. Why don’t we start with you, Shine?”

“W-what, me?”

“Yes. Sorry to put you on the hot seat, so to speak, but I’m sure you’ll do fine. Read out what I’ve written on the board.”

“U-um, er, neither Bewear or Bi-Bi-Bi… sorry. I c-can’t do it.”

“Hmph, not very eloquent, are you? A human toddler could do that.”

“Ahem, Ab, don’t be a know-it-all, thank you. Though, try closing your eyes, Shine, and see if that helps. Remember what I told you.”

“O-okay. Closing them… closed! E-er, ahem. Neither Bewear nor Bibarel is a bear wearing apparel or a beaver in a barrel!”

“Excellent, Shine!”

“Way to go, Sunshine!”

“T-thanks.”

“Great! Now your turn, Curio!”

“Okay! Neever Beware or Beeb-orel…”


--

Curio gently patted Shine’s back, waking him up. He yawned, stretching on his hindlegs as he noticed the Pikachu was no longer there.

“Erm,” Shine said, “how long was I out for?”

“A couple of hours or so, enough for me to finish my lesson. I didn’t wanna wake ya since you looked so peaceful.”

Shine grumbled at that. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to drift off like that.”

“Nah, it’s fine.” Curio clutched her remaining arm with her metal one, frowning. “Okay, this is gettin’ a bit awkward now. Sit your butt down and tell me what’s up.”

“O-oh, okay.” Figuring things would be better if he maintained some distance from her, Shine sat on the opposite end of the table, so the two faced each other. He awkwardly shifted his haunches, trying to find a comfortable position to no avail. It wasn’t going to work. Curio still stared at him expectantly. None of this was normal. The metal arm was the Wailord in the room, of course, but there were still his own memories.

Wait, his own memories?

He remembered another time in GeL, comfortably sitting on those beanbag chairs in a classroom, stumbling through a set of tongue twisters with Curio beside him. She was a Riolu back then. And of course, there was that earlier memory of him reading to her out of comfort. Comfort for what, her mother? What happened? Did her mom…

No, it was still too early to guess at what happened. Shine focused on Curio, trying to read between the lines. There was a slight smile beneath it all, and her tail wagged lightly beneath her. She was clearly pleased to see him too. Her eyes told a different story as they drooped, either squinting to focus on one of his features, or disappointed by something. Was Shine the same person Curio saw him as before, whoever he was? Whatever the case, he had to be honest with her. Shine straightened his back, cleared his throat, breathed in and out, just like Tony told him to, and spoke.

“I, um, Curio. Can I be honest?”

She shrugged. “Go ahead.”

“Okay, in that case--” Shine bit his lip, regretting what he was about to say, but going forward anyway-- “I don’t remember you all that well.”

Another awkward pause, but Curio’s expression didn’t change. Instead, she took a leftover Oran berry from the basket and bit into it.

“Mmmkay.”

“S-sorry. It’s a bit more complicated than that, though. I know bits and pieces. I used to read to you. I know the book; it was Sinnohan Myths--”

“Anph Fableth!” Curio swallowed, and her face lit up. “Aw, yeah, that was nice. Even though the stories were still kinda weird. Haven’t read that in a while.”

“I think they’ve revised it a few times, actually. Removing stories and adding new ones.”

“No way.” Curio crossed her arms. “Aw, that’s a shame. So it’s not gonna be like I remembered it, huh.”

Perhaps she thought the same of Shine.

“Eh, doesn’t matter,” she said. “It’s not like I can be bothered to read a lot of stuff anyway. The only way you can get me to sit my ass down for much nowadays is if it’s a trip to the movies or something.”

Movies? That was another part he knew she liked, deep down anyway. He didn’t watch many films himself, unless it was the newest Pokemon anime feature. Yet, there was one film he watched for the first time recently about a family of Hippopotas trying to stop Deoxys’ meteorite from destroying their house. It was all in stop motion, and even if he didn’t know it yet, he thought of a certain Lucario all the way through. He had to say something else to show he knew her.

“Funny you mention that,” Shine said, “I saw something the other day that reminded me of you. Do you remember The Hoppas and the Great Meteor?”

“No crap, that’s one of my favourites.”

“Oh, really?” Shine cocked his head. “Ah, right. I knew you talked about that at one point.” As he said that, a melody played in his mind. “Oh, now I’ve got the theme song stuck in my head. You know, ‘they are The Hoppas, hear their call from your screen’--”

“‘Ba, ba-ba pam, ba ba-ba pam!’”
Curio snorted, then cackled like a Mightyena, clutching her mouth in an attempt to stifle herself. Shine had a big dumb grin on his face, and couldn’t help but laugh as well. Eventually, they stopped to catch their breath, and the two leaned over the table to get closer to one another.

“Yanno,” Curio said, “you kinda remember a lot more than you let on.”

“Well, perhaps.” Shine sifted through the pieces in his head, only to still find an incomplete puzzle. “Like I said, I know certain things. And, well, even after all this time, deep down, I know we were close. But yet, I don’t remember a lot of the crucial moments.” He looked to the side, trying to avoid her confused gaze. “After everything that happened, I…” He felt like choking on the next few words. “I… I-- God, I can’t say it.”

“It’s fine.” Curio leaned back, cradling her legs in her arms. There was another moment of silence. The Pikachu and Pichu chuckled outside, and the coffee-shop jazz played in the background. Yet, the conversation took them to an entirely different place.

Ripped wallpaper. Broken lampshades. That arm. Those screams. Her screams. Wait, why--

“Hey, let’s change the subject.” Curio chomped on a Leppa berry this time around. “You said we were close, right?”

Once Shine gathered himself, he straightened his back again. “Well, yes. My heart doesn’t lie.”

“Well, you also said we’d stick with each other through thick and thin, once. Do you remember that too?”

He tried to sift through the jumbled pieces again, but couldn’t find a definite answer. “Perhaps.”

“Then, why’d you leave me behind?”

Those words stabbed into his gut like a sharpened bone club. He sifted through the pile again, and still found nothing. His heart quickened. He stood up in a panic and leaned forward, trying to pry some answer out of Curio’s expression. It changed from sunny to expressionless, maintaining a poker face even as she chewed that piece of fruit.

“W-what are you talking about?” he asked.

She gripped the berry harder, squirting a bit of juice from a part of the core. “So you don’t even remember.”

“O-of course n-n-n, no--” He tried to speak, but it all rushed back to him, turning his stomach into lead. He sputtered on those words before getting them out there. “W-what did I do? Please, Curio, tell me!”

She shrugged with a huff. “Doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does!” At this point, Shine dug his paws into the floor, trying his best not to scratch it up. “That’s what I came here to find out! I didn’t come all the way to Dendemille without my trainer for nothing!”

Curio crushed the Leppa in her paw, smooshing it to pieces. That made Shine flinch.

“Your trainer?”

“Y-yes. What’s wrong with that?”

“Are you kidding me?” She stood up, pointing a claw at him. “After all you did, you just bent yourself backwards for a human in the end?”

More silence. Shine breathed in and out, parsing his thoughts, but also trying to calm himself down. Everything hurt again. No. Not another episode there. He looked to Curio, trying to get something out of his old friend. Something to reassure him that she didn’t mean what she said. And yet, there was still nothing but that blank stare. Those eyes that said nothing, yet said everything at the same time.

You did something, and this is your fault.

You betrayed her.

You were better than this.


Shine whimpered as his eye misted up. No, he couldn’t tear up like this, not this time. He had to be stronger. Stronger than this. Curio, say something!

She opened her mouth, then closed it, starting, then stopping. All the while, the fingers on her metal hand twitched mechanically, clicking with each micro-movement, then abruptly stopped. It balled into a fist, then, Curio ran to the back exit with her bag in tow, not even shutting the door.

She was gone. Wait, he couldn’t let her run away. Without hesitation, Shine ran after her. Curio wasn’t even running; just power walking down the alleyway as she dribbled a can down the pavement.

“Curio!” Shine shouted. “Where are you going?”

She stopped, but still had her back to Shine.

“Away. I ain’t comin’ back to this stinking town.” She started again, getting further and further away from his grasp.

“B-but wait, I-- I…”

Something bubbled inside of him. The episodes. The cold shoulder Curio gave him. Couldn’t she see he was struggling? The words he was about to say felt like hot coals on his tongue. Even though his eye stung from the tears, he had to strike while the iron was still hot.

“You’re the only one I know from GeL that can help me now!”

Curio stopped again, though she remained silent. Shine breathed in and out, holding back all the pent up aggression inside of him. Yet, he had to say it while his emotions were still fresh.

“I-I’m lost. I’ve got no one except my trainer to help me. He can only do so much.” He took another step forward. “Every day, I wake up, not wanting to get out of bed. I hate it so much. But I-- I don’t know what else to do with myself.” Another step forward. “I-I need you in my life.”

There. He said it. Whatever he felt towards her, however subconsciously, that cemented it for good.

Curio’s body shifted. At first, it was just a little turn of her body. A pat on her messenger bag. Then, she turned around, face full of contempt. “You know what you’re askin’, right? After all this time, you just want me to come waltzing over to fix you, after everything you did?” She let out a hollow chuckle. “Don’t be selfish.”

His fur bristled with static energy. “W-wait, that’s not it at all!” He stumbled on his words, forcing himself through the pain. “My trainer, he-he’s doing a documentary on GeL.”

She raised an imaginary eyebrow. “Is he really?”

“Yes, but, well, he’s stuck. Everything’s so hazy to me. That’s not enough to get to the bottom of what happened.” He was holding back tears again. “Not while, while I’m like this.”

Yet more silence. Except this time, Curio cleared her throat. Her expression softened, revealing a sad smile at the corner of her lips.

“Come with me,” Shine said. “I know what I’m asking is perhaps too much. But, I want to know more about you. And what I did to upset you before. It would be a shame if we never saw each other again after this.”

Curio grasped her head with her free paw, metal hand still twitching on the side. It was as if she was typing on an invisible keyboard. Then, she stopped.

“Okay, I’ll bite. On one condition.” She stepped forward and knelt down to Shine’s level. “Fight me.”

That came out of nowhere. It was enough to snap Shine out of his stupor, at least. “W-what?”

“You heard me. Hell, let’s make it a bet.” She pointed two metallic fingers at him. “If you win, I’ll come along with you. I’ll talk about whatever you want. What I did, what GeL was, and what happened there.”

“B-b-but--”

“But…” She trailed off, then planted her metallic palm on the ground. “If you lose. I’ll leave. Meet me at this town’s battle park in an hour. I’ll be waiting. Don’t follow me.”

Shine was stunned into silence. He stepped forward, trying to reach out to Curio as she disappeared into a passage from the alleyway, but stopped himself. All these memories, as well as the responsibilities they left him with, weighed down on him like a Rock Tomb. He took another set of deep breaths, in and out, in and out, to manage them all. That’s what Tony suggested whenever he dealt with those episodes.

He still missed him, even from so far away. His hand brushing against his fur, his soothing voice. Just like he had said to Curio, he was lost without him. But he would want to see him get better. Deep down, Shine sensed it was getting to his trainer, too. Having to get him out of bed every day, having to maintain all that excess fur, as well as the hazards his electrical powers brought him. Raising a Pokemon was hard enough without all the emotional baggage Shine brought with him. If he was just an obedient Pokemon, bending himself backwards for a trainer, like Curio said, would he even have those thoughts to begin with?

No. His only worries would’ve been where his food bowl was, or what his training would entail, or what Pokemon he’d get to battle next. Not worrying about how much time passed while he was still lying still, or how the world would fix itself, or when the next news about his therapy session’s status would arrive.

Perhaps that was the price to pay for being human.
 
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NebulaDreams

Well-known member
Chapter 5. Dendemille's Brawlers, Part 2

Shine stayed in that alleyway, unsure of what to do. How much time had passed? A few minutes. Maybe ten. The clock was ticking for him to prepare and face off Curio. But it had been so long since he had his last fight, not counting that close call before. Or Claws call, as it were. Without the experience of a standard Pokemon battle, or at least, that he could recall, he wasn’t sure of what to do with himself.

Then, something whistled through the air. Shine was certain he had heard it before, but when a purple blur whizzed by and landed in front of him, that clinched it for him. Barley was there.

“Yo!” he said. “Er, where’s Curio?”

“She went off in a huff,” Shine said with a sigh. “It’s a long story.”

“Ah, great.” Barley frowned. “I tell her to wait up and she bails on me.”

“Well, uh…” Shine struggled to find the right words for it, but eventually pulled himself together. “She challenged me to a fight later, at the battle park, wherever that is.”

Dayum. Some baggage then, eh?”

“Yes, you could say that.” He glanced at his feet. “Though what I did, I don’t really know.”

“Eh, she can be weird like that, but…” Barley’s eyes lit up. “Oh! Don’t you need to practise?”

“That might be a good idea, but it’s in an hour, and, well--” he looked to the side-- “I don’t have anyone to spar with.”

Barley stepped in, putting a claw on Shine’s shoulder. “Then in that case, I’ll help.”

Shine rose at that. “R-really? You don’t have to if you’re busy.”

“Eh, who cares? My trainer’s doin’ his thing, so I have time.” He winked. “I might even tag along for the fight.”

Shine paused, taking those words in, then returned his offer with a smile. “Thanks.”

--

Barley had taken Shine to a play area, separated by a fence, where trainers were free to either take a break or spar with their own Pokemon. The fact that Shine and Barley were the only lone Pokemon there attracted some attention, but aside from that, the two battled as they pleased.

Well, battled in the loose sense, anyway. Barley set himself up as target practise while Shine focused his electrical energy on shooting small jolts. It had been a while, so starting with his elemental bread and butter seemed to be a good strategy.

As it turned out, Barley was fast. Very fast. On the first few jolts, Shine got nowhere near hitting his target, shooting sparks several meters away from the Gligar who danced in the air.

“H-hey,” Shine said with a huff, “can’t you slow down a little?”

“I’m goin’ as slow as I can,” Barley said, clinging onto the wire mesh, “any slower and my ass’ll be on the floor.”

Shine grumbled at that. Not so much at Barley, but rather, himself. He had to have fought some battles well enough if he was already a Luxray. He couldn’t have been that clumsy. Or was he? No, he was simply rusty. There was another memory that lingered on.

“Give me a second,” Shine said.

“‘Kay.”

He closed his eye, focusing on that particular spot in his mind. His thoughts were a blackened cluster, with the occasional bright spot here and there. Zoom. Enhance. Wait, this wasn’t a cop show! Why was he thinking about this? If only Tony hadn’t flicked that on the other day. No, focus, dammit!

Shine was a Shinx again. He was alone in a soft room, one fit for sucking up electrical powers and he was shooting sparks at a Hitmonlee dummy. He was even worse than he was now, not even conjuring up sparks without knocking himself flat on his behind. He was a pathetic Shinx. He was a pathetic… No, wait, that Shinx picked himself up. That Shinx bared his little fangs. That Shinx focused, and, with one decisive spark, hit his target on the head. The zap only manifested as a tiny brown dot, but that was proof enough that he had made his mark. Then, a Manectric walked in, scowling at him. The Shinx looked back.

“Aren’t you proud of me yet, teach?"

No, not yet, get out of there. He was training in the present, not dwelling on the past. Shine opened his eye and nodded at Barley, ready to continue sparring.

The minutes flew by as the Gligar weaved to and fro between Shine’s projectiles. Before, it was miss or miss, but now, it was hit or miss. Despite Barley’s speed, with Shine’s persistence, he was able to hit him with increased accuracy. The same went for close combat as well. While Barley dove in like a jet, Shine adapted by dodging out of the way or countering with electrified claw swipes. Weak enough that it didn’t do lasting damage, but strong enough that it made an impact.

With each blow they traded, Shine’s confidence grew. Not entirely the Luxray he was supposed to be, but at least it was a start. The more he fought, however, the more the question arose in his head: would he be able to fight his friend? Even if she should’ve been a stranger to him by now, their connection was still there, however strained it was.

Before Shine knew it, it was time. Barley had taken notice, and so, swooped down to his level, panting all the while. In turn, Shine stopped to catch his breath.

“Hah,” he said in between gasps of air, “gotta admit... didn’t think... all this flying... would tire me out so soon.”

“Same,” Shine said, “I’m really… out of practice.”

The two stood there for a moment until they gathered themselves, then Barley was his usual perky self.

“You said she was at the battle park, right?”

Shine nodded.

“Well then, I’ll take you there.” Barley grinned. “While I’m at it, I’ll have to treat you to an Oran berry or somethin’!”

Shine’s eye widened at that. “O-oh no, you don’t need to, I just ate.”

“Nonsense! I mean, you wanna be up to speed for fightin’ her, don’t you?”

“Ah yes, good point.”

Barley waved his claw in the air. “Well then, I’ll lead the way.”

Shine nodded and followed Barley out of the mock fighting area. After Barley bought a pair of berries for them to share, Shine chomped it all in one bite while Barley nibbled at his.

“I guess you don’t have those killer jaws for nothin’.”

Shine gulped down the last of the juice and cleared his throat. “I’d hardly call them killer…”

“Yeah, course not. So, I guess you two have a history together. Don’t suppose you want to talk about it?”

History. That meant talking about GeL. He didn’t particularly want to talk about what happened there, not that he remembered most of it. And what he did remember, well…

“N-no.” Shine stopped, glaring at Barley. “I’m sorry. Not to be rude, it’s just…” Shine ground his teeth. “Just… sorry.”

“Nah, it’s fine.” Barley shrugged. “Guess it’s somethin’ you gotta figure out yourself, right?”

He mumbled a reply. There was a pit in his stomach again. It wasn’t the berry, but rather that familiar feeling when he came across his memories. Like in that PokeStop, he hated not knowing, but here, he hated not being able to talk about it. Only to Tony, and even that was limited. He couldn’t lose that with Curio. Then, who could he really confide with? Tears formed again, but he wouldn’t cry. He had to say something.

“I hate this,” he spoke in a lower tone. When Barley revealed his surprise, Shine sighed, looking away from him. “Not being able to talk about it with anyone, I mean. Without her, or my trainer, I have no one.” He turned around, barely able to face the Gligar anymore. He wasn’t even sure if that was entirely true. Maybe Bauble as well, but--

“I feel ya.” Barley patted Shine’s rump with his claw. “I know what that’s like, for sure. Kind of why I wanted to run a PokeStop to begin with. I can’t even imagine what you’re goin’ through. Sounds like some messed up shit happened.”

Shine mumbled again. He guessed it was natural to start a club, in order to meet new people. Though he couldn’t really guess at Barley’s past, there must’ve been a time when he was still young and unsure of his own path. Doubly so since he was a Pokemon. But if Barley started a club to help with that, then, what if...

“So,” Barley said, “what happens with Curio’s fight? I know she’s moving town soon, so, yeah.”

Shine turned around at last, facing Barley. “If I win, Curio will come back with me. If not, well, she won’t…” He wanted to add ‘and I’ll be alone again’, but faltered at the last line.

“Well, look, for the sake of argument, let’s say you lose and you have to turn tail back to Ambrette. If that happens, then at least you can talk about it with me, just so you aren’t alone.”

Shine’s face lit up. “Oh, you mean--”

“The forums and Diancord servers, yeah. We can meet up later so we can exchange contacts, but right now, we’ve gotta get a move on, so…” Barley extended his claw. “Whaddya say?”

Shine stared at that claw. He couldn’t believe what he was asking, that someone would go out of their way to be so friendly with him. He wasn’t that deserving of it, was he?

No, he had to stop thinking like that. He might not have deserved it, but he needed it. Finally, Shine took Barley’s claw and shook it. “I’d like that very much.”

---

So there was the battle park, in all its fenced and overly elaborate glory. Even though Dendemille’s park was smaller than the others in the cities, being a midway point between two gyms, it still accommodated a lot of people. As Barley walked him through its different facilities, Shine spotted many trainers, vendors, campers, food trucks and a variety of big Pokemon hanging around. The glimpses he saw of the arenas had lines of Pokemon and their trainers waiting for their turn so they could step onto the playing fields. Shine spotted eight in total.

However, out of the eight, it was easy for Shine to pick out which one was his, and what he saw further tangled the knots in his stomach.

Dozens of people sat on the bleachers circling the arena. With each step he took, the crowd grew louder, and he was eventually faced off with the long, straight path that led to the battle area. Who else would be there but Curio, doing various warmup stretches in the centre of the stage?

Shine’s heart pounded. Once he stepped into the arena, there would be no going back with so many people watching their match. It was all or nothing.

“Well,” Barley said, “good luck. I’ll be cheering you on.”

Shine couldn’t help but chuckle, releasing some of his pre-battle tension. “I, er, do appreciate it.”

Soon enough, Barley swooped over to a seat of his own, right next to the Lucario and trainer pair from earlier, sharing a bucket of popcorn. So, they were watching too. He already had expectations to fulfil, then. Shine took a deep breath, and padded over to Curio as the audience watched him enter from afar. Try as he might have, Shine couldn’t ignore the presence of the crowd Curio gathered. The knots pulled taut. When he approached Curio, she didn’t look him in the eye, only staring at the referee, who looked back and forth between the two.

“Are your trainers with you?” he asked.

“Who said I needed to bring a trainer with me?” Curio said.

“Ah, you talk," he said, stone-faced. "And what about this Luxray?”

“Um, I left him at home.” The referee scratched his head before shrugging it off and turning on his speaker mic, making feedback echo in the arena.

“Trainers of all ages, we have a very unique match lined up for this slot. This is a one versus one match, but neither of these Pokemon are present with their trainers here. This isn’t the first time it’s happened in this park, so I’ve heard, but it’s been a while since we’ve gotten something like this.” He presented a slip of paper from his pocket.

“Going by an educated guess, this Lucario over here is named Curio, and this Luxray over here is named Shine. Since this is a special case, we might as well go over the rule--”

“Cram it, old man,” the Lucario said, tossing her bag aside. “I get it already, four moves, no lethal stuff and all that, okay?”

The crowd went silent. In turn, the referee just coughed and threw up his hands.

“Alright, you seem to have it under control.” The announcer headed to the podium on the far side of the stage, overlooking the two. “If there is any foul play, however, I will have to call it off early. You’d do well to remember you’re more responsible for your powers without a trainer.”

“Yeah, I know, I’m not stupid.”

The other Lucario in the crowd shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

“Alright then,” the referee said. “Now, if you two could take five paces back--”

“Excuse me,” Shine called, raising his voice a little, “can I have a word with Curio before the match starts?”

“As long as you’re quick.“ With that, Shine approached Curio, who glared at him.

“Do we really have to resolve things this way?”

“There’s nothing else I wanna say to you right now. If you don’t like it, get bent.”

“Why, I’m, I’m—”

Curio raised a paw in the air, motioning to the announcer, and she took her five paces back. Defeatedly, Shine followed suit, the words of Curio still stewing in his mind.

“Pokemon, ready.”

This was it. No matter what Shine tried to say, there was no way Curio would back down in this fight. A lump grew in Shine’s throat. He exhaled, then took a deep breath, readying himself by standing on the tips of his hindpaws. If Curio showed this much resistance, he needed to push back just as hard with all he had, if he was to get back to Ambrette with her and get a grip on his past. After everything Curio put him through so far, however, Shine briefly considered if all of his efforts were worth it. And what about that metal arm? Wouldn’t she have an unfair advantage over him?

Before he dwelt on it any longer, the whistle blew.

Curio immediately dived towards him with a kick. Just short of being grazed, Shine leapt backwards, avoiding the first sweep. Then the second followed. He barely dodged by ducking his head. Then the third, rolling to his side. Yet, it was harder to see with all the dust being kicked up everywhere. Things weren’t going to change at this rate, so--

Shine sprinted away from Curio’s range, running as fast as his legs could carry him to the other side of the arena. When the dust cleared, Curio was far away from him, but charged forward as soon as she recovered. He ran faster. She did too. Her footsteps got louder as she approached. Backing away all the time wouldn’t have worked, so he needed a more direct line of attack.

Shine made a detour to his left. He swished his tail around, charging up his static field, and the more he ran, the more his fur prickled. His electricity buzzed around him, acting like invisible armour, and at that point, he had stored enough potential to pull off a Volt Tackle. Shine turned and ran towards Curio, who stopped suddenly. She held her paw in front of her, firing a flurry of aura spheres at him. Most of them bounced off his field, but once he was close enough to her, all she could do was shield herself as he tackled her lower body.

Bash. Curio flew across the arena, stopping short of hitting the partition that divided the crowd. The reaction was a mix of gasps and cheers.

Shine’s whole body shuddered with the recoiling force of his attack. At that point, however, the two were a fair distance away from each other. If he could land another hit with a Thunderbolt close to Curio’s stomach, he could stagger her, taking her out of the match. He shook his head and started charging his static field again.

Curio rose to her feet. In no time, she lunged towards Shine again. He did not flinch. He focused his mind on where he would hit Curio, just below her spike. Just as his charge reached its limit…

“Come on, you coward, hit me with all you got! Don’t run out on me like last time!”

Like last time? Oh, no--

In his haste, he shot a thunderbolt, only for it to divert away from Curio’s body, and the ground absorbed the shock. As much as he tried to focus, his mind blocked itself off again. No, why here? Why now? No, think about something else, not that, not that. Wait, him and her were running from something. Someone. Many different people. What, there was--

Crack. One well placed metal uppercut to his chest sent him flying above the partition. Where he landed, he didn’t notice, but something must’ve broken beneath him.

It hurt to breathe. All sound faded. All the charge he built up had released. His vision started to fade as well. Was he able to move at all? He twitched his legs. They were still mobile. One paw after another, he got to his feet. Although he could barely see, the yellow coat stood out in the background. He tried to hobble towards her from the other side. Each step felt like wading through thick mud. Yet, he continued on. He had to. He needed to prove himself. Eventually, he was close to that yellow body again. Her face, however blurry, came into view. Her eyes were just as scornful as ever.

Then, Shine’s legs gave way as well. What would happen next? He didn’t know. Somehow, he knew one thing: he had to apologise. He was on the verge of remembering what he had done, and before he entered that slumbering void, he uttered two words:

“I’m sorry.”

--

“C’mon, we’re almost there! We can do this, we can make it! Don’t stop for a second!”

“I know, I can see it, I can see the door, I can-- Argh!”

“Shine? Shine! You bastards, stop chasin’ us and leave us be! What else are you gonna take from us that you haven’t already?!”

“Curio. There’s too many of them. I can’t, I can’t stay here.”

“Shut up! I don’t wanna hear it, we’ll make it outta here, both of us, we’ll take them all on! Don’t give up!”

“I’m sorry. I, I, I...”

“Wait, Shine! Come back here! You said-- Shine!”


--

The world snapped back into focus. Shine was back at the Pokemon centre with that familiar treatment bay and its clinical smells. And beside him was Curio, staring down at him.

Right, Shine lost the match. And with that, a huge block in his memories broke down. So that was it. After all the time they had spent together, however distant, Shine had left her behind at a critical moment. And so, in his half-awakened state, he connected the dots. Something happened back at GeL. They had to escape. They were confronted by a certain group. Their faces were all blocked out, including their Pokemon, but he remembered something metallic. Then Shine escaped without Curio. Then, the car came. But, what happened to Curio?

After all that searching, his journey led him to this path, where he carried the full weight of his actions for the first time in five years.

“Curio,” Shine said with a sigh, “I-I’m sorry. I, um, e-e-escaped without you back then.” He gulped. “I, er, I’ve only j-just remembered it now.”

“Shine,” she said. That word, or rather, the way she said that name, stabbed a spear of guilt into his gut. So that was it. She wouldn’t be coming back, and he wouldn’t get any answers. Who was he kidding, thinking he could get her to come along with him? He didn’t deserve anything, no answers, no happiness. This realisation brought mist to his remaining eye.

“And, and, I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough, and, and--”

Shine broke down. His cries echoed in the room, blubbering and choking on his own words, attracting attention from the other resting Pokemon.

“Oh, why am I being s-so s-s-stupid?” he stuttered in between sobs. “I shouldn’t be crying like s-some weak S-S-Shinx, but here I am!”

“Shine,” Curio said, scowling.

“No, it, it’s fine, you fought hard for your freedom. You shouldn’t let s-s-some other stupid Pokemon tie you down. I-I-I--”

Curio smacked Shine across the face, snapping him out of his ramble.

“Jeez, Shine, the match was a sham! It didn’t even matter if you won or lost, so get a hold of yourself, mon!”

Shine stopped sobbing, though tears still poured down his cheek.

“W-what? Then what was the point of this?”

“I dunno,” she said with a shrug, “I just wanted to let off some steam. I feel better now we’ve fought.”

“What now?”

“Nothing yet, we’ll see where the evening takes us.”

“Right.” Shine tried to jerk his paw away from Curio’s grasp, but he couldn’t bring himself to break away from it as she squeezed tightly. Then, she sniffled, rubbing away a few tears of her own and wrapped herself around him, close enough for her spike to touch his chest again.

Shit, you’re gettin’ me choked up now.”

“Sorr--”

“Stop it.” She slowly rubbed his back, moving her paw in a circular motion. “I hate seein’ you like this, without your memories and stuff. But you’re still you. Your aura’s the same, your eye’s the same, if it wasn’t for-- ugh. It’s just cruel.”

Shine took a deep breath and buried himself into Curio’s coat. It still smelled of mud and stale sweat, but it was comforting nonetheless. He pulled himself back a little so he could speak without being muffled.

“I-I don’t understand. I lost. I betrayed you. Why--”

“Look.” She pulled herself away from him, making eye contact with Shine. “You did something pretty crappy, there’s no denyin’ that. And I might’ve gotten a bit too into that fight.” Curio glanced at his ribs.

“Th-they’re fine,” he said.

“Okay. Still, there’s more to it than that.” She darted her head left and right to the nurses and the patients in the room, who gave them weird looks. “And I ain’t talkin’ about it in this stinkin’ room, so, c’mon, let’s scram.”

She was about to stand up when--

“Wait,” Shine said. “I’m still not sure about this.” He sniffled, rubbing his eye dry. “Why even give me a chance after all this time?”

She sighed and gave a half smile, scratching Shine’s ears. “You’re still my sunshine. Besides, after so long, I’m not lettin’ you off the hook that easily.”

With one final wink, Curio stood up and Shine followed after her as she left the centre. As he did, there was a warmth in his heart that carried him through the dusk of Dendemille’s streets. The town had a new ambience without the claws. Instead of empty streets, there were people walking out from bars and chatting idly outside. Pokemon playfully ran across the pavement while Shine tried to move out of the way. They didn’t even bat an eye at him not having his collar with him.

Eventually, Curio gestured to a patch of grass amongst a park-like area and the two sat opposite each other, face to face, backs to trees. Her green eyes looked just as bright as they did last night.

“Okay, I’ve gotten a bit of my baggage out of the way.” Curio scratched her chin. “If I’m honest, I wouldn’t have blamed ya for doing that, since, c’mon, there were lots of grunts, so it was kind of fight or flight, wasn’t it?”

“From what I recall, yes.” Shine frowned. “It still doesn’t excuse what I did.” He bit his lip. That question burned on his tongue, of what happened to her after he escaped, and was the main source of his regret. Did they… What else did they do to her? He was about to ask that when--

“Doesn’t matter. You’ve said you’re sorry, so I just wanna bury the spike with that.”

Shine decided to save that question for later. “Alright.”

“I do wanna know one thing, though.”

“What exactly?”

Curio scratched her head. She started to speak, then stopped, and finally moaned as she laid down on the grass. “Why a trainer? You know, I kind of hoped you’d make it on your own, wherever you were after you escaped. Maybe make a living off of writing books or somethin’. You had the drive for that sort of thing; not following some dumbass trainer around on his stupid quest to gain a bunch of trinkets like a pet.”

Shine rose at the mention of the word ‘pet’, and when he processed exactly what Curio said, he glared at her.

“I’d rather you didn’t talk about Tony like that,” Shine said. “You don’t know what me and him are like.”

“Actually, I think I do.” She threw her arms up in the air, still lying down. “It’s like, you had all the time in the world to do anything with your life, yet, you took the safest route. After all the cool stuff you learned back in GeL and, well, ugh--” she sat up, knitting a set of invisible brows --”it’s not like you remember. After you escaped, I just didn’t want to feel you were wasting it on some human’s dumb dreams.”

Each word stewed in Shine’s gut, bubbling and gurgling. “Wasting it?” Those words were like hot coals on his tongue. He breathed in and out, trying to suppress his emotions. Any more and he would’ve lashed out. So finally, he sighed. “Is that what you think I’ve been doing all this time?”

Her eyes widened at that. “No, I mean, being with the trainer--”

“That’s enough!” Shine shouted, standing up on all fours. “Trainer this, trainer that, it doesn’t matter! If it wasn’t for him, I still would’ve been on the streets!”

She gasped. “Wait, you were--”

“A stray, yes. I know what that was like, and back then, all I wanted was to lie there and rot. No one bothered to take me in until I met Tony, and even then, nobody forced me to be with him!”

“But what about your own dreams?”

“Look, if I had any, he would let me pursue them anyway. And besides, this GeL business has taken over my life, and each day, I can’t do anything about it. You think I’m going to pretend that never happened?”

That seemed to cut deeper than he expected. Curio cradled her legs, squeezing her knee with her metal hand. “N-no, but--”

“But nothing. I hate to say it, Curio, but that’s a really close minded way of looking at things.”

Curio held herself in that defensive curl for one moment longer. Her eyes glazed over, either bored or trying to parse what Shine said. He couldn’t tell. Then, silence. Shine expected her to say something back, but she turned away from him, lost in her own world. He was about to say something to get her back into gear, but she turned back around, facing him with heavy eyes.

“Sorry.”

It sounded sincere enough. While there was still that air of uncertainty behind it, that apology was all he needed. Shine sat back on his haunches and sighed.

“No, that’s-- just, what I mean, it’s tough being on your own, especially as a Pokemon. I thought you would’ve understood, since you seem so worldly.”

“I do.” She took a deep breath, fiddling with the strap of her bag. “It’s just, well, I did the same thing once. I went with a trainer, thinking they’d just provide for me the easy way. I didn’t even need to be trained, I just didn’t wanna be in the wild anymore when I first escaped.” She let out a hollow chuckle. “How stupid I was. They kind of did care for me, in their own way, but at the same time, I really, really, really hated it.”

Considering Barley’s abusive trainer talk, he didn’t like the sound of this. Even without those memories, somehow, a part of him already knew she didn’t want to end up with a trainer back in GeL.

“W-what happened?”

“Eh, long story. But, to make it short, after I left, I learned just how much I missed being on my own in the world. I made a lot of new friends. I saw a lot of cool places, ate a lot of good food. And, lookie here--” Curio sifted through her bag and pulled out a sculpture of a Smeargle holding out a rainbow-tipped tail --”I made a ton of new figurines. Even got this guy here to help improve my craft.”

Shine stared attentively at Curio, or rather, the curio she held out. It was another crude metal sculpture, except covered with various splotches of paint and other hardened materials to make it look more colourful. Just like with the Magikarp, the handiwork was rough, but it had a certain style to it. Despite his misgivings earlier, he was still impressed by it.

“That’s great!” he said, then squinted at the Smeargle’s round face. “He looks familiar.”

“Eh, I’ll save that story for another time too, but thanks!” She stowed him away and zipped her bag back up. “But point is, I wouldn’t be doing all of this if I was still with my old trainer. And honestly, I’ll die before I ever go with one again.”

She held her metallic fingers up to the moon, which glimmered in its twilight, before she made a fist, as if catching it. “When I left them, from that day on, I swore I was gonna live my life the way I wanted to. If anyone, trainer or not, wants to take that away from me, well, they can suck it.”

Shine took a moment to soak in those words. It was great to hear her so sure in her own path, so much so, he would’ve turned green eyed himself. Still, he needed to resolve the Tony issue while the topic was still fresh.

“Well,” Shine said, patting Curio’s lap, “if you’re worried about Tony, I can assure you I’m not being mistreated at all. He practically lets me do anything I want while he’s out at work, and makes sure I’m well provided for when he’s back home, even after long hours. He doesn’t tie me down at all, so I’m sure even you would like him.”

Curio smiled and snaked her arm, which was cold to the touch, through Shine’s back.

“I guess I would. I mean, I still think you could be doing better, but as long as you’re happy, that’s fine. I just don’t want you to end up the way I did before, just gettin’ nowhere in life.”

Shine sat still for a moment, not knowing how to respond. Still, he came to an understanding, even if he had to agree to disagree. Then, Curio sighed.

“I guess I’ve been kind of a bitch today, haven’t I? Sorry for makin’ you go through that dumb fight.”

“No, no. It’s fine. I know why you felt that way now.” Another pause. Then, the inevitable question came up. “So, what happens from here?”

Curio pulled him in gently, eventually putting Shine’s head on her lap as she brushed through his mane. “Well, needless to say, I’m comin’ with you.”

“You are?” Shine would’ve stood up to express his surprise, but the sensation was so… indescribable that he stayed there. “I do appreciate it, but are you sure? You seemed like you were heading out of town before I came along. Sorry if it seemed selfish.”

“Well, yeah, it kind of did, but really, I just wanna help you out. Not just for your memories, but for me as well. You said you never talked about it with anyone else aside from your trainer, right, whoever he is?”

“Yes.” His tone softened.

“Yeah, well, I feel ya on that. I don’t wanna get into that too much, but you get the picture. So, I’d benefit from this as much as you would. You can count on that.”

Shine sighed in relief, feeling that warmth in his heart again.

“Thank you,” he purred, under the influence of Curio’s ear scritches. He forgot about time for the moment as he lost himself to the soothing rhythm of Curio’s paw. It would’ve been a perfect moment.

Only for something to rumble into his ear. It was Curio’s belly.

“Oh,” Shine said, startled by that sudden outburst, “excuse you.” Then his own stomach followed.

“Excuse yourself,” Curio said with a toothy grin and stood up. “Well, we gotta get some grub somewhere. If Barley’s still at The Vine, I’m sure he’ll lend us a claw or two. Saves us having to hunt or steal.”

“They do dinner as well?”

“Sure they do.” She lent her paw to him. “Now c’mon, are you with me?”

He paused to consider this as his heart rate spiked. This was happening, though it didn’t feel real. After his betrayal, he wasn’t sure if he could bounce back. But no, whatever he did was in the past. Shine smiled and returned Curio’s pawshake.

For her to put that aside and be willing to help him out in a time of need, well, she felt like a true friend. This was what he’d been missing all that time.
 
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Raggy

(─‿‿─)
Location
From
It’s cold outside. As usual I have nothing of value to say, so let’s roll.

Given it’s been a month, I have to sit still for a moment to remember the last thrilling chapter of “The Xerneas and the Chinese” or something like that. If memory serves though, Surio met Chine after a bone tenderizing torture scene from the local ruffians. If they’re together now, then why are there still chapters in the story?? Like, the Curio is there, and the Shine is there just like the title says. Or is this like multiple ending stuff.

I suppose I’ve had enough fun by myself, so to the actual chapters it is. Ultra bold text brings straight to the viewer either a lore munch disguised as a flashback or a character framing device disguised as a lore dump, god help us if it’s both. In the beginning, there was battle royale. In a stunning move, the Rosenbergs crossed party lines and adopted a Bonsly. This was the start of the bonsai practice, but more importantly the first in a series of events that would start the first of fifty-five pokemon world wars (I might be reading this wrong).

Anyway, the guy dies, as is the way with progress, but not before dropping some sick Ghandisms. For folklore, it hits all the right beats, conceptual origin, witchcraft, and that sombre yet hopeful ending that everyone accepts as a resolution, but never quite likes.

Shine immediately ruins it by applying contemporary logic. What do you know cat-loser? Sudowoodo could have evolved over time to become rock because they were easy prey to wood eating humans. Or you know, something something petrified wood.

Last last time for real on “The Curious and Tony”, Shine was killed for disrespecting dirty homeless pokemon, but Curio resuscitated him with a metal elbow drop to the chest. After being treated for temporary death by doctor markiplier, we get the official “get to know this thing” scene. Boy wonder sticks and twine is leagues behind dog form nine and three quarters, getting dragged along the conversation like a peanut in the wind. Hopefully they can hit if off better at the pancake house, essentially the pokemon world maid cafes. Oh but tough luck, Shine is set upon by children, while Curio invites the children. No points for nailing who the less socially inclined character is. Another quick flashback to the school of evil killing, then we’re onto the nuances of linguistic translation. In both temporal senses. After getting the shoulder for being a shit teacher, Shine falls asleep and dreams of bringing his missing eye to show and tell for the seventh time that week.

Nice times are over, so it’s time for beef. Curio is angry at Shine for reasons inadequately explained, but hinted at just enough that we’re supposed to consider it a driving motivation behind Shine’s actions and a central mystery. I’m on board with the former, but the latter? Shine left, it ain’t a fucking mystery that he’s an ass, now take your lumps and atone for your mistakes. I jest somewhat, he’s definitely got the guilt part down. Curi-bukicho is upset with him for being slave because apparently he was a real rebel in the past, a ‘bite the hand that feeds you then eat your food anyway’ kind of deal. Obviously most of his power was contained in his lost eye, and much like a muzzle flash to the cornea, he has to relearn his skills.

Guess he has to learn fast, because Curio decides only a battle will settle the truth. But before that, a bit of introspection. Being human is hard, death, taxes and all that. Tony really was the team player all along.

5th chapter - Shine turns into Vince McMahon (part 7)

Having spent the last few years ostentatiously watching television and arguing with a comedy talking bird, Shine is not a fighter, and definitely not a lover. So where does that leave us?
Rhetoric.

Shine gets a small consolation prize in advance as Barley offers to be his friend online. That’s like, five steps down from a long distance relationship, way to set the bar low Shine.

We get another reminder that Curio is a stone cold force of nature, having already reserved some battle arena for their spat. It comes off like some kind of skate park, people just hanging around to watch others get the shit knocked out of them.

I can’t say nothing about fighting. It’s serviceable, quick, and nasty (in a good way). Oh well, Shine gets bent, just as was foretold by the prophecy.

Lucky for us, this is a story and not a video game, so we don’t have to try that fight again. Curio gives him the benefit of the doubt out of pity and admits that the match was just a fun way to relax. At the end of the day, they’re still friends though. Nice. The narration is even feeling pretty triumphant, the town is a bit brighter, the fruits a bit more colorful, and the pokemon a bit more pokemoner.

Curio is still upset at Shine for being with a trainer instead of putting the bomb making skills he learned at school to use. But that’s ok. If they made up all the way now, then someone would need to get shot to advance the telenovela.

These chapters are here to chew bubblegum and plant in the reader’s head that Curio has her own pace. Shine proved himself today too, still a bit of crying, but it’s justified now. Now they’re together again, which means it’s almost time to get the lowdown on how we got here. The usual questions apply. Where shine eye? Where curio arm? Why gel stupid? Smart money says that they’re somehow connected, but what could a school hope to gain by taking eyes and arms? A bit more harsh than just rapping their knuckles no?

The vibe for today’s chapters is ‘Juxtaposed with U’ by Super Furry Animals. At the end of the day, our heroes are still stepping forward instead of backwards, so we’re happy!

I’m finished. And I don’t mean in the way the Daniel Day Lewis was finished in ‘There Will be Blood’. That part comes later.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
A villager kicked the door open, fuming at the scene before him. He demanded an explanation. His Sudowoodo delivered in the same tongue as them. Surely, they would stand to reason as his surrogates did.
Poor, naive soul.

“Shine,” she said with a frown, kneeling down to his level. “What the hell you were thinking last night?!” She grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him violently. He was taken aback, both by her sudden exclamation and the chilling cold of that arm brushing against his fur. Right, that arm. She still had the metal arm. That unnatural thing. Why--
Well, I mean, it's not like she can just lop off some rando's arm and sew that on herself.

...Can she?

He thought himself as rather boring whenever he introduced himself to new people. Or maybe that was the inner critic speaking again.
Holy pants is that ever relatable.

Curio stopped outside a cafe with the design of an Alolan Raichu holding pancakes plastered onto the window. Shine pushed that other thought to the back of his mind and focused on the cafe’s environment. The most noticeable feature was the group of Pikachu and Pichu crowded around the middle, playing with each other as they skittered across the floor. In the midst of all of this were a few customers with their own Pokemon, enjoying the company of the Pikachu as they allowed themselves to be petted. There were all sorts of decorations as well, with plants hanging from the ceiling and doodles of various Pokemon adorning the walls.

“So this is a Pikachu Cafe,” Shine said.
I would so want to go there, omg...

“Well, you’re right about that. Eevee cafes, Meowth cafes, you name it, you could literally open up anything over there from what I’ve seen.”

Shine thought about that for a moment. So she seemed well travelled, that much was true. Then, wait, was it true that they could open any type of cafe?

“What about a Koffing cafe?”

“Koffe! But nah, you’d need a gas mask for that sorta thing.”
...I'd go there, too.

“It’s fine.” Curio leaned back, cradling her legs in her arms. There was another moment of silence. The Pikachu and Pichu chuckled outside, and the coffee-shop jazz played in the background. Yet, the conversation took them to an entirely different place.

Ripped wallpaper. Broken lampshades. That arm. Those screams. Her screams. Wait, why--

“Hey, let’s change the subject.” Curio chomped on a Leppa berry this time around.
I wonder if she read his aura there. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if the fact that he was, mentally speaking, suddenly in a very different and troubling place was plain to see, with or without an aura sense. Poor dude.

“You said we were close, right?”

Once Shine gathered himself, he straightened his back again. “Well, yes. My heart doesn’t lie.”

“Well, you also said we’d stick with each other through thick and thin, once. Do you remember that too?”

He tried to sift through the jumbled pieces again, but couldn’t find a definite answer. “Perhaps.”

“Then, why’d you leave me behind?”
Critical hit!

All the while, the fingers on her metal hand twitched mechanically, clicking with each micro-movement
Cool detail, that.

Barley set himself up as target practise while Shine focused his electrical energy on shooting small jolts.
Gligar actually makes an ideal training dummy for an electric-type. Not a whole lot of risk for said dummy!

That Shinx bared his little fangs.
That's such a cute image.

No, he had to stop thinking like that. He might not have deserved it, but he needed it.
That may very well be a first step toward realizing that yes, he actually does deserve kindness.

Curio rose to her feet. In no time, she lunged towards Shine again. He did not flinch. He focused his mind on where he would hit Curio, just below her spike. Just as his charge reached its limit…

“Come on, you coward, hit me with all you got! Don’t run out on me like last time!”

Like last time? Oh, no--
Damn, talk about a low blow!

“Thank you,” he purred, under the influence of Curio’s ear scritches.
Awww. He really is just a big ol' kitty, when it all comes down to it.


As I've said elsewhere, my memory's not really the best when it comes to these matters, but some of the conversations definitely seemed new and made for good reading. I enjoyed the cafe bit in particular, but the bit about the hippopotas show (Moomins reference?) was nice, too. Just imagining these dorks doing this song, momentarily lost in relatively happy memories... cute stuff. :D
 

NebulaDreams

Well-known member
Chapter 6. Dendemille’s Riders

It was a lively scene at The Vine. Both locals and touring trainers alike crowded around the bar, chatting and smiling with beers and sodas in hand. Much to Shine’s chagrin, as he walked through it all, the carpeted floor was sticky with its spilled contents, not to mention how noisy it was for his sensitive ears. Curio guided him around as she picked out Barley’s aura, eventually finding him stood on the bar counter with his trainer sat beside him.

“Yo!” Barley said, holding out a claw for her. “Is Shine alright?”

“Yeah, he’s fine!” Curio spoke up amongst the crowd and squeezed through there along with the aforementioned Luxray. In turn, she bumped her paw against Barley’s claw. His trainer did the same, and Curio leaned in to do it at first, then pulled it back, blowing a Razz berry.

“I’ll catch you out one day,” the trainer said.

“I’d like to see ya try,” Curio said, leaning against the counter. She gestured to a barstool beside her and Shine jumped up on there. He fit perfectly despite his size, though it creaked underneath his weight. He hoped he wasn’t getting fat. Anyway, Barley was just about eye-level with him, so he reached out to ruffle Shine’s mane.

“That fight was pretty hardcore. Good to see you’re all patched up now.”

“Yes, I guess so.” He would’ve flushed red if he could. Even if the whole fight was a sham, getting made mincemeat out of in front of a crowd wasn’t the most desirable of memories.

“So, I guess this is our last night here,” Barley said, looking to Curio.

“Yeah, I’m headin’ back home with this guy.” She patted Shine’s head, a tad too hard, if he was being honest. “We’ve got stuff to settle together, so we’re goin’ to Ambrette tomorrow. You’re in debt to a bunch of dragons, right?”

“Er…” Shine told her about it on the way there. “Yes, I’m teaching for a ranch. It should be my first human speaking job in a while.”

“Oh, really?” Barley batted his claws together. “That’s cool! It sounds like things are looking up for you, then.”

“Hmm, I hadn’t really thought about that.” All things considered, these past two days were the most hectic he’d experienced in a while. Yes, it would be nice for Curio to tag along. A part of him also knew, however, that the troubles had just begun. Talking about his past, his tutor, about GeL in general, and what happened would be taxing for certain. And teaching again to a bunch of Pokemon much bigger than him; at least before with that Bunnelby, it seemed a lot less intimidating. And it was tomorrow. What if he messed up? What if--

Curio nudged his back with her elbow. “He’s thinkin’ a mile a minute again. You wanna give him one of your pep talks, Batty?”

“O-oh.” Shine spluttered. He still wasn’t used to Curio reading his aura.

“Yeah,” Barley said, “you kind of look like you’re about to hack up a hairball there.”

“But we don’t--” He cut himself off. This wasn’t the time for useless feline trivia. “Well, yes. I’m just thinking, if it’s tomorrow, I don’t really know how to go about doing it.” He kneaded at the barstool’s spongey material. “The first time I taught, I had a plan, but here, obviously, I didn't have time to come up with one."

"Ah, that's no problem. Curio just wings it, doesn't she?"

She nodded.

"And besides," he said, looking to his own trainer, "any effort we make to try and teach other Pokemon the human language is better than none, isn't it?"

"Damn straight." He took a swig of his beer. "Those bigwigs in the government have their thumbs up their asses. You'd think they'd start teachin' this stuff sooner if everyone else's ahead of the curve."

"Not gonna happen," Curio scoffed. "They don't give two shits about what we do."

"H-hey,"
Barley interrupted, "I agree, but I don't wanna lose hope, y'know. I heard they're doing something in Galar, so they might bring that everywhere else some day."

Shine rose at that, flashing back to a certain tidbit he read on the news. "Yes, right, Galar's doing an apprenticeship programme for Pokemon, aren't they? And their government's funding that!"

"Yup."
Curio crossed her arms. "And we can't do jack about it cuz' we're not allowed there."

Everyone else hummed, bringing the conversation to a close.

"Anyway..." Barley put his claw on Shine's shoulder. "If you're in a pickle, well, message me or something. I take it you have some sort of equipment that lets you type back home, right?"

Shine nodded, thankful for his trainer's computer.

"Well, like I said, if you ever feel alone or need someone to vent to, I'll be there." He winked. "Just don't be afraid to get in touch."

The feeling Shine got from that was unexpected. He had quite a few friends on the forums and Diancord, but none he had really met in real life. Here, for someone to be so open to that, well, it warmed his heart up again. He would've pulled Barley in for a hug if he was allowed to climb up the counter, and he wasn't usually the one to give hugs out. The two exchanged contacts from there, with Shine's username on both platforms being 'Congress-Of-Dunsparces', named after one of his favourite books, and Barley's being 'ChildishAudino'. What he got that from was beyond him, but it sounded familiar somehow.

"So, what now?" Shine asked. "Where will we stay?"

"Eh, just stay in the PokeStop for now," Barley said. "No one's gonna use it over night, so the place is yours. Just check out whenever you feel like it."

"Works for us," Curio said with a grin. From there, they talked the night away, which gradually came to a close as Barley's trainer had too many drinks and he had to be escorted back to his room upstairs. The duo wished them goodnight and farewell, if they didn't happen to meet each other in the morning, and settled down into their own room for the night. As soon as they entered the Pokeroom after hours, they turned the lights off and crashed on the pile of cushions.

At first, they said nothing, but they still enjoyed each other's company, nuzzling close to one another for warmth. It had been a while since Shine felt that sensation. After a moment, Curio started snoring with her paw wrapped around Shine, and he expected himself to follow suit. And yet, even after another moment, he couldn't sleep. Not because he didn't want to, as he could've slept like a Shinx with all the previous excitement of the past two days behind him, but there was still a little something nagging at him. He was away from Tony for another night, and even in the company of a friend, he longed to be home. And he was still worried of what would happen when Shine eventually came back. What would Tony say? What if he--

"Boo," Curio whispered. That took Shine off guard, but nevertheless, he rubbed his eye and yawned.

"I thought you were asleep."

"I was. Your aura's way too loud. Tony this, Tony that, I don't wanna hear it."

That made Shine peer his head out from the cushions. "Sorry, Curio," he whispered back, "but can you tone down the aura reading? It's a little invasive."

"Ah yeah, I'll knock it off. Or maybe I won't. I dunno." She let out a mighty yawn, one louder than even his. "But if it'll shut you up, I've got a surprise for you tomorrow."

"You do?"

"Yeah. It's not a gift or anythin', but I'll think you'll come to like it. But you gotta keep your strength up for it."

Shine only half-considered it. If he wasn't half-asleep, it would've been a full consideration, but in his tired haze, he was willing to go along with it for now. "Alright. Good night."

"Ni-ni, sunshine."

--

The two slept well into the afternoon. The Gligar/trainer duo were apparently out into town already, so there was nothing else except the surprise waiting for Shine. Curio told him to walk up the mill and look out for her. However sceptical he was at first, Shine trekked up the hill again and waited until his companion popped up, lugging a big shopping cart. He blinked a few times before realising the nature of the surprise.

“You can’t be serious.”

“Of course I am! I’ve done this many times before and I've turned out fine!”

Shine narrowed his eye at her. “Where did you get that from anyway? You’re not supposed to take them!”

Curio blew a Razzberry in response. “Who cares? Everyone takes them anyway; it's not like they're short on carts or anythin'.”

Shine grunted and looked to where the hill headed down a steep incline. He couldn't believe he had to pause to consider this. If Curio found fun out of this, that was fine by him, but he didn't know if his poor heart could've taken it. Then, to delay it, something else stuck out in his mind. "Why this though? I don't know where you'd learn to go cart sledding."

"Well, that's a long story too, but that's not the point really. You see this all in front of you?" She pointed her metal arm at the expanse in front of them, with all the town's buildings, the greenery around it, and the sunny skies above. "That's what's out there. All those people and Pokemon are just going about their business, and we're in the middle of it all. It costs nothin' to ride down a hill when you're free. No trainers to boss you around, no humans tellin' you what not to do, no Pokemon telling you how you should act in front of other humans. That’s what I live for. You see what I mean?"

Shine cocked his head, staring at the countryside. It was the last time he would see Dendemille, possibly in a while. Not that he had any rose-tinted memories to look back on, but if he was going back home, he might as well have had something to remember this by. Finally, he smiled, turning towards the cart.

"Yes. I think I do."

“That’s more like it.”

Shine stumbled into the basket and landed on his back, fumbling around in it until he sat up, with his tail poking through the metal mesh below. He looked at the slope once more. This was going to be a steep ride at the very least, if there wasn’t anybody else in the way. His pulse quickened, regretting it already, but before he could protest, Curio pushed the cart downhill. In his reflex, Shine grappled onto the rim of the basket, holding on for what felt like dear life.

“I didn’t even say I was ready!” he shouted.

“Didn’t need to! Hold on!” Curio dumped her bag behind Shine and stepped onto the rail. The cart felt weightless, as it went at a steady speed on the straight path at first. Once they reached the slope, however, they shot downhill. Both of them screamed. Curio sounded joyful. Shine didn’t. In fact, the speed reminded him all too well of Adele’s dragon riding, not helped by the bumpy wheels which sent vibrations ringing through his body.

They were about to approach a dead end, where their only salvation was a sharp turn on the left.

“Get ready for this!” Curio shouted.

“Wait wait wait wait wait wait!”

Curio shifted her weight to her right, crashing Shine against one of the mesh wells. It still looked certain they were about to crash, but just in time, Curio gripped the handle with her metal arm, making the cart turn a full 90 degrees.

He couldn’t believe what he experienced. After that turn, anything she would do next would be mundane in comparison. As they headed down the straight downhill slope again, Curio howled in the air, and in turn, Shine roared alongside her too. This was terrifying. This was filled with uncertainty, with all its peaks and valleys. This was... fun. Just like life.

End of The Chase Arc
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
And it was tomorrow. What if he messed up? What if--
This guy sure is relatable.

"Boo," Curio whispered. That took Shine off guard, but nevertheless, he rubbed his eye and yawned.

"I thought you were asleep."

"I was. Your aura's way too loud. Tony this, Tony that, I don't wanna hear it."
Damn, I'm glad I'm not a lucario. I don't need yet another form of sensory input to try and fail to tune out, heh.

"Ah yeah, I'll knock it off. Or maybe I won't. I dunno."
Curio pls


I thought it was neat how poké jobs factored into the discussion earlier in the chapter. Given the relations between pokémon and humans and what an important theme that is in this story, it's certainly a relevant topic.

Also yay for cart rides. :D Fun little scene, as ever.
 

NebulaDreams

Well-known member
Chapter 7: Interlude – Ambrette’s Teachers

The time eventually came for Shine and Curio to leave Dendemille on dragonback, with Adele and Accendare. When they finally touched Ambrette’s soil, however, Shine had to rest. Although he didn’t vomit like last time, the nausea still caught up with him and wouldn’t let go any time soon. Oddly enough, to him at least, Curio didn’t seem affected by it, only resting to catch her breath as one normally would after being exposed to the elements. She recovered once she adjusted to ground level again, and stood over Shine, blocking his view of the sky.

“C’mon, you big furball. Do I have to drag you up to your feet?”

“You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to wait, this is my business.”

“I know, but I can help out too. Just don’t leave me hangin’.”

Shine staggered to his paws, still dizzy from the ride, but gradually, he got a grip on the world around him. The rider undid Accendare’s equipment and handed them to the assistants who took it to the barn. After she was done, Adele smiled at Shine.

“Well,” she said, taking off her helmet, “ready for your first lesson?”

As ready as I’ll ever be,” Shine said, not entirely convinced he’d do an outstanding job at it.

“Great!” She looked to the fields and gestured to the swampy area far away. “You’ll probably wanna know where he’s at and why we’re teachin’ him. We’ve been doing these lessons from last autumn all the way up to here so far. He can do short sentences, and his pronunciation’s alright, but he has to break most words down bit by bit to be able to say them, which makes him sound kind of flat. His grammar’s fine, though, so on the whole, I’d say he’s reaching into an intermediate level, though I’m no expert. He doesn’t have to be amazing; he just needs to sound a bit more natural, y’know.”

So that seemed easier. At least he wouldn’t be having to teach from scratch.

“And for why we’re teachin’ him, well, someone’s interested in him being a therapy Mon, so that would be a nice skill for him to have.”

A therapy Mon?” Shine repeated. “Well that’s… interesting.”

Might as well be going to a goo spa,” Curio said.

“Heh, I know,” Adele said. “I mean, Goodra are well known for being friendly, and people are lookin’ at new ways to bring them out of combat, so, yeah. Whatever works for me.”

That was certainly news to him. If there was ever the chance of Shine going to that clinic in Coumarine after all that waiting, would he see a Goodra there? But that seemed to be enough to go on, except for one thing.

What about his teacher?”

“Unfortunately, he and Petri don’t get along well, but I’ll let him speak for himself.”

And is it alright if Accendare joins us?”

“What, is she interested as well?”

The Dragonite nodded.

“Well, you can as long as you can do some extra work tomorrow for the Postmon service.” Adele gave her an appreciative pat on the side. “Aside from that, I don’t see anything else I should say. Just feel free to report to the house beside the barn once it's sunset. You’ll see Petri over at the muddy pond. Oh, and feel free to take a break when you should, just so those two can get some exercise.”

Alright, thank you.”

Gotcha.”

With that, the two headed over to where Adele had pointed. Along the way, Shine kept thinking about what exactly he’d do, and if he was even needed to be there in the first place. But perhaps it was best not to look a gift Ponyta in the mouth. It would help him as much as it would help them. And so, they reached the bog where Petri, another Goodra and a pair of Goomy swam. When he spotted the duo, he leaned out of the muddy pond and waved over to the group.

“Hey, Shine! Are we starting now?”

“Of course. Curio will be helping out as well. She is—”

“Very pleased to meet ya!” she said, waving a paw. “I’ll be takin’ over just in case Shine makes you fall asleep!”

“I was about to say she is my friend, but that works too.” He gestured to a flat patch of grass. “Shall we sit over there?”

Petri nodded and the two dragons followed behind Shine and Curio to sit down opposite them. Accendare sat away from where Petri was dripping goo into a puddle around him. Shine looked at them both, wondering how he’d be able to teach both dragons at once. Though it was best to jump into Petri’s story first.

“Well,” Shine started, “let’s start by finding out more about this situation. Adele told me you’re being taught by a human at the moment.”

He nodded.

“And she also tells me you two don’t get along very well.”

“Yes, well…” Petri paused, looking glumly to his side. “He isn’t the most agreeable human on the earth. He shouts at me a lot, only because I talk the way I do. I don’t think he gets that we aren’t used to speaking in growls and cries. He just thinks it’s easy.”

“Well screw him,” Curio said. “Why didn’t you just tell that guy he was being an asshole?”

Petri winced, a little put off by that human term.

“I wouldn’t use that language to describe him. I wanted a better teacher, sure, but I didn’t want her to make a big deal out of it. She has enough work as it is maintaining all of us. Going through the extra effort to find a Pokemon to replace him instead would be a waste.”

“Not if he’s not doing his job!” Shine stepped forward, a little swept up in the conversation. A part of him was insulted by what Petri described. If teaching was such an easy thing to do, then why hadn’t every Pokemon in the world learned to speak human by now? Nevertheless, he stepped back and took a deep breath. “Alright, let’s think about this. It sounds like you’ve been learning long enough for you to get past simple sentences, even from human to Pokemon. How has he been teaching you so far? Do you at least know which sounds go into each words?”

“Well, nothing advanced like that, I just play it by ear. All he does is read aloud from a book aimed at human children learning to talk and tells me to go through each exercise. It gets the job done, I guess, although it kind of makes me feel like a hatchling again.”

"Ah, I see what the issue is now. You have a bad teacher."

"I do?"

"He doesn't explain the basics and expects you to skip to sentences already. It's not just bad, it's inefficient. Me and Curio learned a lot more in the time he taught you the simple stuff. Does he even know how our own language system works?"

"I dunno. He just told me it didn't need explaining."

"It depends, but it helps to understand how to properly transition from Pokemon to human speech. But, let's backtrack here. Have you ever stopping to think about how say we say words, and how humans say theirs?”

"Well, kind of. The more I think about it, the more it confuses me."

Shine took a deep breath. It would’ve taken a little bit of explaining to do, but thankfully, from what he did remember from GeL, he took away some nuggets of truth from the language lessons. He could do it there; he had done it before with that Bunnelby.

"You see, we don’t start off understanding human speech right away. However, we’re able to pick up on it fast with enough exposure, and depending on what environment we’re raised in, but how exactly we're able to do it is still a mystery. What separates us from humans are the sounds we use. Really stop to think about what sounds you're making when you say a word like 'hello' in your own tongue, then what sounds are used when you say the same thing in human. Listen to me, for instance.”

Shine let out a friendly purr, which was what it sounded like to the untrained human ear.

"What did that sound like?"

"Oo-arr-or."

"And in human."

Shine greeted Petri in the same tone of voice, except in human tongue.

"Now, what did that sound like?"

"Hell-oh!"

"That's right! There’s a lot more I could get into, like syllables, phonemes and such, but it depends on what you want to learn at first.”

“Just how to speak faster. The other stuff sounds more complicated than I’m used to.”

"Don't worry, it was complicated for me at first. But anyway, we can start, and whatever I’ll have to explain, I promise not to make it boring for you. If it’s too much, we can take a break. How does that sound?"

"I'm still a little confused, but I can manage. To be honest, you sound like you know what you're doing more than that human."

Shine gave a hard look at Curio, who had fallen asleep with her bag tucked under her head like a pillow, but brushed aside her sloth and continued with Petri. "I'll have to see that for myself. The important thing is that you're learning faster already. This will be good for you too, Accendare, since this is the sort of thing I started out with as well.” Shine grinned. “Now, let's put that into practice, shall we?"

For the next couple of hours, Shine broke down the fundamentals of speech and gave Petri and Accendare brief definitions of linguistics, and worked through some of Petri’s problem areas such as his monotonous speech patterns. Petri was more engaged in the lesson than Accendare, who listened attentively but only contributed to the conversation occasionally. If anything, Shine got the feeling she was bothered by something given how silent she was. But aside from that, it stirred up something within him whenever he heard Petri improving his own speech. Despite his worries earlier, he was finding it fun. Why didn’t he do this more often? Now thoughts about starting his own Pokestop or learning service really were stewing in his mind.

The only dampener on it was Curio, who snored through the entire session, so loudly and conveniently placed whenever Shine talked that he suspected she was doing it on purpose. When Petri suggested to take a break, Curio woke up herself without any help.

“What’re we doing?” she said, stretching her paws.

He just relayed what Petri told him.

“Yeah, um,” Petri said, “how long is long enough, would you say? I’m no good with minutes.”

“Depends on what you want to do.”

“Okay, how about a few games of Dodge?”

This was a simple and efficient game to play as a Pokemon, as it involved dodging whichever projectiles came somebody’s way. Curio obliged but Shine opted out at first and stayed with Accendare, simply watching the two trade blows with each other as Curio threw aura spheres the size of tennis balls at Petri, and he threw globs of slime at her in return. Both were light on their feet, even Petri who was twice the Lucario’s size. Not that Shine particularly enjoyed sitting out when others were having fun, but there was something about the Dragonite that nagged at him.

Accendare started picking daisies with her claws, and Shine inched closer to her, shifting his attention back and forth between the game and the delicate Dragonite.

“Is it alright if I call you Accy?”

She shrugged, whilst she tried to put together a daisy chain with her tiny claws.

“Well, Accy, I just want to make sure everything’s alright. You’ve been mostly quiet, after all.”

She nodded with a faint frown.

“I was curious, why did you decide to join us? You must’ve had something good in mind if you wanted to speak human.”

“Of course. I want to be able to talk to Adele.”

“Sounds fair enough.” He laid down on the grass. “Was there anything you wanted me to relay to her, though?”

After fumbling around with the chain to little success, Accendare broke it apart.

“No, it’s something I have to do myself. I’m not sure you’d understand, not that anyone does.”

She stayed silent afterwards, staring off into the distance, deep in thought. Shine wasn’t quite sure how to react to that. What she said struck him as sullen, and her tone suggested it was an issue she wanted to keep to herself. That was understandable; he knew that feeling very well. Still, if there was anything Barley taught him, it was that it was worth reaching out to his fellow Mon. It was at times like these that he wished he had Curio’s aura capabilities. Sometimes, the embrace of a fuzzy Pokemon was just as good as a mind-reader though, and so, he leaned towards her belly.

“Listen, I know as well as any Pokemon you’re entitled to your secrets, but if there’s anything on your mind, feel free to tell me.”

She clasped both her paws together and hummed to herself. “Maybe… later. Thanks for thinking about me, though.”

Then splat! All of a sudden, a glob of slime hit Shine in the face, coating him with the gooey substance. It didn’t hurt, but his heart rate quickened when it hit him, and jerked his body to the play area to see who was responsible. It wasn’t Petri who did it, but Curio, who waved a dripping paw in the air.

“C’mon!” she said with a toothy grin. “Join us!”

He laughed. Since he probably needed a bath to clean the gunk off, he figured he might as well join in the fun anyway. Shine started to walk over to them when he noticed Accendare still didn’t move.

“Are you staying there, then?” he asked. The Dragonite nodded and waved a paw in their direction, giving them the go-ahead. From then on, Shine had a few rounds of Dodge, using weak jolts of electricity as his choice of weapon and placed last twice, falling victim to Curio’s aura once and to another goo glob from Petri. He would’ve needed an extra long bath to get rid of it all at that stage, but he didn’t mind. It had been so long since he had played any sort of game like that, so it was a nice change of pace.

Without Shine needing to lift a paw, Curio declared it was time to start the second half of their lesson. They returned to their circle, but Curio spoke first.

“I wanna try something different, with none of the theory crap this time.”

Shine was about to say something in reply, but closed his mouth again. It was pointless trying to argue with her since she seemed to set on things.

So, speak as well as you can without stopping, and don’t worry if you get a few things wrong on the way. Tell me what you dragons get up to in this place.”

“Oh.”
Petri rubbed a wad of goo together with his paws. “We train, like any Pokemon, but we have diff-er-ent skills. I can not fly, but I can fight. We prepare for a long time. When we are ready, we are for sale for a trainer.”

You’re goin’ into therapy, though, aren’t you?”

A nod. “Yes, hopefully. If it helps, then I am glad.”

“And what about the other dragons? It would kinda suck if any random jerkwad bought them and treated them like dirt.”


Our carers do not let them. They need a good record.”

Still, they didn’t ask for this, did they?”

They do not mind. Some come from wild. Others, born here. Was with humans as a Goomy. Most do not know the world like me.”

Just like…” Curio mumbled beneath her breath. “Nothin’, carry on.”

Shine had a hunch about what she meant, with what he remembered of GeL.

Good trai-ners have in-ter-est in them. If they are kind to them, then that is e-nough for them.”

Curio crossed her arms, looking thoughtfully at the sky. Shine sensed it was starting to get personal, with what she said about trainers before. But finally, she shrugged and carried on. The following conversations were more cheerful as Curio mostly asked about Petri’s other activities in the ranch and his friends, and only mentioned vague details about herself when Petri asked her questions of his own, as she mentioned hearing about a few dragon ranches in Sinnoh. Shine sat in the background, but let Curio go on as he could see she was encouraging Petri to speak. To occupy his thoughts, he considered what he would do next time to help Petri progress further, like bringing a chart to write on, for instance. While it was a similar feeling to when she taught that Pikachu, just idling away the time, he preferred teaching as a duo.

Eventually, the sky became a blood orange with a bright ball of fire sinking into the horizon. That was time enough to end their shift. The ranch followed suit as the majority of the Pokemon in the fields joined an organised line, which Shine tried to piece together. A slimy paw tapped his shoulder which drew him out of the scene.

“Feeding time’s about to begin soon, so I think that’s all for now. Thanks, Mr. Shine and Ms. Curio.”

He would’ve blushed if he could. It was the first time in a while somebody addressed him so formally, let alone a Pokemon.

“You’re welcome.” Shine bowed. “I hope to see you again soon.”

“Me too!” Petri winked before charging into the open field to join the rest of the dragons. Another set of heavy steps plodded behind uneasily, belonging to Accendare who hadn’t joined the rest of the group yet.

“What’s wrong?” Shine said.

Accendare’s eyes signalled over to the barn, lips creased into a frown.

“Um, you two might want to head to the house soon. Feeding time gets a little, um, violent.”

The duo’s expressions didn’t change, although there was a mutual understanding of what the situation was.

“Um, thanks, you two. I think I, um, learned a lot.”

“You’re welcome too. Feel free to join us any time you like.”

She nodded and sat down, staring at her feet. Something in his gut told him this was a situation he’d rather not witness, so he dismissed himself and nodded to Curio, who caught up with him and padded through the open area on the way to the farmhouse’s path. While they walked, Curio absent-mindedly picked at her ears with a tiny piece of Bone Rush.

“Did you notice something odd about Accendare?” Shine said.

“Nope.” She tossed the waxy swab aside. “Nothin’ at all.”

A part of him wasn’t convinced by Curio’s tone, but felt no need to press further.

“Must be my imagination.”

When they arrived, they faced the back of the barn, alongside the path which forked into two at each side leading to the house. They chose the one on the right and on the way there, they passed by two members of staff who lugged around two wheelbarrows full of Pokeballs. Shine couldn’t take his eye off it until they were out of his sight, knowing full well what purpose it had, but Curio didn’t bat an eye. They were livestock Pokemon specifically bred for eating, fattened up in both body and mind until they were essentially walking entrees. Though he knew it wasn’t something to be changed, just the thought of what went on in those factories sickened him. Not sick enough to forgo dinner completely, but still uncomfortable.

Once they were in the house area, which was connected to the back of the barn, a pleasant symphony of various cooked meats sung in the air and Shine’s stomach responded with a tune of its own. Despite the carnage about to unfold outside, he put those morbid thoughts to rest in favour of finding out where the scent came from. Up a small flight of stairs beside them, a door stood ajar leading into the kitchen where various aproned staff worked. Shine’s paws moved on their own, but he controlled himself as any sane person wouldn’t have let any Pokemon waltz into their food storage. Curio, however, didn’t hesitate to make her presence known as she took the first step up.

“We can’t just walk in there!” Shine called.

“It’ll be fine, just follow your nose!”

She strutted into the house as he followed, desperate to convince her to come back outside. When he came in, he was surprised to see the staff hadn’t sicced their Pokemon on them or raised their knives in self defence, but rather, they continued working quietly, dicing up steaks and adding them to the stew pot on a flame-fueled stove. Only one person faced them and even he seemed pleased to see the two.

“You the two new teachers everybody’s raving about?”

Shine nodded in reply and the man smiled, pointing to the door on his right.

“Dining room’s past there. The missus will be down in a jiffy; she just asked to see you two fed for your work today.”

Curio cast a smug look that said ‘told you so’.

Oh, thank you sir.”

“No need to be so formal. Go on, what’re you waiting for?”

The two headed to the dining room, and once they opened the door, it revealed a chaotic gathering of various people of different ages, including the two assistants from before, all seated around one long table. Oddly enough, it didn’t fit the entire length of the room as there was still a bit of space left after the table ended, after which an unused smaller table sat perpendicular at the end of the room. When their presence became known among the group, an elderly man shakily raised his hand.

“Come here, you two.” He spoke with the pleasant weariness of old age, and the duo stood beside his wheelchair at the far end of the table.

“Yes.” He peered at them with sunken eyes. “Such an interesting couple you make. Adele told me you two fit each other.”

And you are?” Curio asked.

The elderly man leaned in closer, cupping his ear. “Terribly sorry. Can you repeat that?”

I said, what’s your name?”

“Sorry, one more time?”

Who are ya, ya old fart?” she shouted, and at last, the man leaned back, taking in Curio’s comment. Shine shot a severe look and nudged her, but as revenge, she punched his side.

Ow! Forgive my friend’s manners, sir.”

Cutting the tension short, the old man heartily laughed, only to devolve into a cough.

“Not to worry. I know I’ve become a bag of bones as of late. Strange. A Pokemon comes up to speak to me in a language I understand and I have to tell them to repeat it. My ears must be cursed.”

You don’t seem terribly surprised to have two speaking Pokemon before you.”

“No, no, I’ve seen a few speaking Pokemon during my career as a rancher. For some jobs, it’s a necessary skill for dragons to possess if team communication is important with their trainers, something not many people value even to this day, sadly. My daughter will tell you as much.”

So you’re Adele’s father?”

“Indeed. You can call me Remy.” He smiled at something behind them. “Here she comes.”

Another door swung open and out came Adele, dressed out of her ranching gear, revealing her long flowing hair as it swayed behind her dress. She entered, holding what appeared to be an instrument case, and smiled at the scene before her.

“Nice to see you gettin’ familiar with pops. So, how’d you two get on?”

Rather splendidly, I think,”Shine said.“Petri seems very thankful to have me as a teacher. Accendare’s finding my teaching interesting too.”

“That’s swell to hear. It sounds like you did a great job, so I thought I’d have the boys fix you some grub in return.”

I’m very thankful.” He bowed. “It really wasn’t necessary, I’m the one in your debt after all.”

Curio punched him in the side again, eliciting a grunt from him.

Don’t mind him, he’s too humble for his own good.”

“He’s just polite, that’s all. But to tell you the truth, we usually make a ton of food during dinner, so what’s left over gets chucked into the field for the dragons to have as a snack before settling down. Not that they don’t get plenty of food as is, mind you.”

He thought back to the stash of Pokeballs being wheeled to the farm and winced. Part of him wanted to ask what sort of Pokemon were being fed to the dragons there, but that went without saying. Instead, he looked over at the case in her hands and changed the subject.

What’s that?”

“Oh, this? Her name’s Tawny.” She opened it, revealing an accordion with a scuffed up wooden finish. “My pride and joy.”

Shine’s mouth made an O. Not exactly what he was expecting, but it was a nice surprise. “Oh, so you play accordion?”

No, Shine,” Curio scoffed. “She uses it to beat people to death.”

Adele laughed, tracing her hand over the keys. “Well, there are definitely a few people I’d like to use that on, but yeah, I’ve been practising on Tawny ever since I learned to walk. Maybe not that long back, but you get the picture. Course, I don’t find as much time for her now as I did back then, but a couple of hours a night does me good.”

“You should visit her some time in town,” Remy said. “She’s usually at The Krabby and Co. on off days.”

“Yup, but for tonight, once everyone’s had their fill, I’m gonna play a few songs. Maybe we’ll get some people in to dance, so you’re welcome to join in.”

Dance? Had he ever danced before? Wait, why was he asking this? He couldn’t walk on only his two paws, so the answer would’ve been a resounding no.

Sure, I’m up for it,” Curio said. “Maybe I can teach Shine a few moves.”

W-wait, what?” he said. “B-but I—”

Being a quadruped shouldn’t stop you.”

Did you just read my mind again?”

I might’ve.” She stuck her tongue out. “But you can peep on guys through walls while they’re naked, so bite me.”

Adele laughed as she sat by her father, holding his wrinkled hand. “Looking forward to seein’ how Pokemon dance.”

Not long after, the cooks entered the room wheeling in trolleys of trays containing everyone’s meals. They served the humans at the tables first, complete with tankards of beer, then tended to Shine and Curio as they laid two trays on the floor. Both of them consisted of a bowl of cassoulet with a few slices of baguette and a water bowl for them each, except only Curio’s contained cutlery. Shine bowed to them and sampled the ingredients of the stew, filled with beans, slices of skin and tender meat that had a tangy taste to it. If Shine had to guess, it belonged to a Flaaffy, which was probably being served raw and alive outside.

He shrugged it off and ate quietly, while Curio shoved spoonful after spoonful in her maw and chewed rather noisily. Once everyone in the room was done and had enough time to digest their meals, Adele took the instrument out of her case and tested it out, attracting their attention. She started with a few scales, slowly, but surely building herself up. It sounded aged, as the bellows croaked with each movement, and the sound wasn’t as sharp as it could’ve been. That was assuming Shine himself knew anything about music. Still, the age was part of its charm, and Adele managed to coax each sound out of Tawny with ease as if it was brand new. As she hit the last note, she smiled.

You’re good,” Shine said.

“I’m only just gettin’ started.” Seemingly satisfied, Adele climbed to the table at the end of the room and kicked her shoes off. In turn, some of the other patrons in the room stood up and went in pairs to the space between the two tables. “I’ll start with a lil’ Galarian number called The Nickit’s Slip Jig.”

It was a waltz number, as the people danced to the tune of three beats before changing their moves. Everyone here was clearly used to Adele’s songs, and twirled with just as much confidence as her playing. Even Adele spun along to the rhythm. Finding the energy contagious, Shine thumped his paw as he watched all the activity, focusing on one particular human couple who joined hands and stepped in time with the music. It seemed like they were having a lot of fun. Shine briefly considered joining in, standing up, but ultimately stayed in that spot. How would he keep up with them? Then the next verse came, changing key slightly, and… Curio was there.

She joined in, dancing on her own at first, completely lost to the music. Then another human offered his hand, and she gladly took it, moving with the same grace as she did on her own. That was surprising. Where did she learn that move? No, he had to find out. That time, as it changed to the next verse, Shine went up to Curio, about to ask.

“C’mon, Shine!” she said. “Dance!”

She grabbed his forepaws, making him stand up. The tempo slowed, allowing them to get close with one another.

“How did you learn to dance?” he said.

“Boredom, I guess.” She swayed left to right, slow enough for Shine to pick up the pace. “I’m no expert, but if there’s a dance goin’ on somewhere, then I want in. So I learnt as I went along.”

“Isn’t it uncomfortable?” His own legs were wobbling. “With your hindpaws, I mean.”

“Eh, you get used to that. Now—”

The song shifted back to its first verse, playing at a faster tempo once more. As Curio’s moves became more erratic, Shine’s own movements became unsteady, barely keeping himself balanced on the pads of his paws as Curio jerked him up and down. She must’ve had a lot of strength to keep him upright, at least, but each time Shine fumbled, he mis-stepped, getting trodden on by Curio’s paw. She groaned, but tried to adjust, allowing Shine room for more error. That didn’t work, as he still mis-stepped and got stepped on. Multiple times, in fact. He was making a fool of himself in front of the humans. This wasn’t getting fun anymore. In fact, it seemed to be a repeat of… wait, he couldn’t remember. It was connected to GeL somehow, he knew that much, but what situation there involved him dancing?

Finally, the song stopped, leading to a round of applause around the room. Shine went on all fours again, feeling rather deflated.

“I think I’m going to sit this one out from now,” Shine said.

Curio knelt down to his level. “Suit yourself.”

And with that, Shine sat out, watching the rest. The next song played on while Curio danced with the group, and a few songs after, everyone had tired themselves out. Curio seemed to mingle naturally with the humans, which struck Shine as odd, given her attitude towards trainers. He would wait for an explanation later. From there, the excitement of the dining room dwindled, everyone collected their plates, and it was back to business for Adele as she put Tawny away.

“Alright, nice one, you two,” she said with a smile. “Come back two days from now at ten sharp, y’hear?”

They wished her thanks and left the house at last. The crisp night air brought Shine some peace after the initial excitement. Through Curio's eyes, the night might have still been young, but through Shine’s single eye, he’d had enough for that day. He just hoped it didn’t put any distance between them.

“I dunno if you remember, but that brought me back as well,” Curio said, stretching her arms. “That was a nice night. Shame you didn’t join in.”

“Well, I did,” Shine said, a bit more curt than he would’ve liked. “Sorry, but you know it’s hard for me. I can’t just suddenly break out into dance like you can.”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it, no biggie.” As much as she deflected it, there was something else to her tone that Shine couldn’t place. To distract himself, he looked around him, remembering the dragons were still there. As far as he could see in the darkness of the ranch, the Pokemon behind the fence were all sleeping soundly in their respective spots. There was something that caught him off guard: the livestock. Even without his golden vision, he could see something else strewn along one patch of grass. Something… red.

“Jeez,” Curio said, tapping Shine’s back, “you’ve been thinkin’ about those feedin’ Pokemon all night. It’s normal, and it’s not like we can do anythin’ about it, so let’s just move on, okay?”

“I know,” he said, even though his stomach felt uneasy. With one final sigh, Shine turned away from it, looking to the path back home. “Let’s go, then.”
 
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Adamhuarts

Well-known member
Pronouns
He/Him
I finally sat down and read the third chapter after all this time. So far it didn't seem all that different from the previous version of it, though one could say that's a good thing.

I found that stuttering Lucario strangely cute though lol, poor lad. The thousand claws are about yukky as I remember and it's funny how Curio got them to leave with basically a food bribe. Then again, that's what happens when they're a pack of hungry cats huddling together. Makes me wonder if they're analogous to how some modern day communities struggle with overpopulation of stray cats with many of them harboring all kinds of infections.

I'll try to take less time before hopping onto the next chapter this time, though it's easier said than done with mid terms in the way.
 
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