• Welcome to Thousand Roads! You're welcome to view discussions or read our stories without registering, but you'll need an account to join in our events, interact with other members, or post one of your own fics. Why not become a member of our community? We'd love to have you!

    Join now!

Episode 01 – Quit Blipbugging Me!


Inland Northwest, United States

To Be A… Pokémon Challenger!​


Cashmere Lane aims to win the Wedgehurst Tournament and gain an endorsement for the Galar Gym Challenge. Red Dunn finds herself somehow joining along for the ride.

An original pokémon journey, set 7¾ years after the events of Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield. Reader commentary / reviews welcome, although note that I am a very stubborn person at times.
Feel like I keep talking about this fic, so I might as well just start posting it here.

Relationship to Canon​

As stated above, 7¾ years after the fact. Primarily based on the games and, to a lesser extent, Pokémon: Twilight Wings. Gloria is present, not Victor. Characters and pokémon will be drawn from both Sword and Shield.

Because the story takes place so long after canon, you will find some characters in different roles than they had in the games. There will be ships. Nevertheless, this is an OC‐centric fic.

Content Advisories​

This is a slow burn between a trans woman and a cis lesbian, so if you aren’t emotionally prepared for that, maybe give this fic a pass.

This fic is aimed at (somewhat) mature audiences. You should expect the following :—​
  • Gay and trans themes.​
  • Folks having to deal with homophobia, transphobia, prejudice against rural folk, and general bigotry.​
  • Lots of swearing. Crude language, potentially of a sexual nature.​
  • While there will not be graphic depictions of sex, People Will Have It. They May Talk About It. You Will Know It Happened.​
  • Politics, in the sense that any fic about a trans woman in a region inspired by England will necessarily be about politics.​
  • There is a dog pokémon which doesn’t receive a treat.
It’s unlikely to contain anything which you wouldn’t encounter in the halls of an American public school, or between the pages of Teen Vogue. Still, some reader discretion is advised.
The above notwithstanding, most of the time it will be pretty tame teen‐rated content (with swearing, did I mention that?).

Individual postings may have additional content advisories. If they do, I will attempt to make the content skippable.

Update Schedule​

I write a new episode roughly every four weeks. There’s a bit of an initial backlog: I also publish to A·O·3, and the first few episodes have already been posted there. So I’ll be updating somewhat more frequently here until the two are in sync.

Episode 01

Quit Blipbugging Me!​

Stretching for miles north of the mysterious Slumbering Weald, Southern Galar was in many ways the agricultural heart of the region. There wasn’t much for the passing tourist—no urban centres, dynamax spots, or rare and exciting pokémon—but there instead rolled field after field of lush farmland, small towns with farmers’ markets, and sheep—so many sheep.

Of these small southern towns, one clearly outshone the rest in terms of reputation. This came in the form of successive Pokémon League Champions, and they were three in number :— Leon, Gloria, and Hop, each having risen seemingly out of nowhere, and each becoming in their own time one of the youngest, and most successful, pokémon trainers the League had ever seen. Now, Leon oversaw operations at the grand Wyndon Battle Tower, and Gloria was busy nurturing the Galar Pokémon School into something which might compete with those of other regions. As for Hop—Hop was still Champion, for the third year in a row.

Were it not for these towering giants, the successes of one Shepherd Lane from Postwick might have seemed extraordinary: Only in his mid‐twenties, he ranked consistently among the top dozen or so trainers in the League, and he’d held Hop to a single pokémon in the most recent Championship match. Alas, Gloria and Leon had already retired by that age. But, it wasn’t that Shepherd particularly wanted to be Champion, as his Postwick predecessors had, even if he still gave every battle his all. No: He wanted to found a Gym.

Because the truth was that despite Postwick’s recent successes in the field of competitive pokémon battling, the Southern Galar region remained a desert for opportunity or resources for aspiring pokémon trainers. The numbers simply didn’t add up when it came to investing in a gym there, the League had determined. Plus, it had no dynamax power source—the ratings were bad enough with Spikemuth in that respect. And, it was out of the way: Few challengers would want to travel all the way to Wedgehurst when there were eight perfectly good gyms they might challenge already elsewhere in Galar. Wedgehurst folk had… a reputation, after all. They wore wool there, instead of cotton, and they didn’t enunciate their consonants right.

Thankfully, wot with the past three Champions all speaking it, the prestige of Southern Galarian dialect was on the rise.

Mere talk would not be enough to sway the Pokémon League, however. They needed to see results: some manner of evidence that the recent successes of two notable Postwick families were more than just a fluke. And Shepherd Lane, himself, needed experience administrating pokémon battles, if he was to someday manage his own Gym. And so, he schemed to host a tournament, to be held in Wedgehurst prior to the start of the Championship season, the prize being an endorsement to compete in the renowned Gym Challenge (and thus, potentially, the Champion Cup) from none other than himself. Posters were posted, and word was spread, and it was by this manner that the news first befell the ears of one Bonnie Dunn.

Ms Dunn was no pokémon trainer—no, far from it. It was all she could manage just keeping the family Yamper in line as she went around for groceries. Yet, the posters visible about the Wedgehurst marketplace gave her an idea, and before she returned home she stopped by the Pokémon Centre and purchased from the counter a single case of pokéballs.

She intended these for her daughter. Miss Red Dunn was 23 years of age, living at home, and, by her mother’s estimations, making approximately zero progress towards anything which might be considered “having a normal life”. It didn’t bother Bonnie as much as it might’ve—she knew that Postwick was not exactly a land of opportunity for someone who’d left for Motostoke fresh out of secondary school with big dreams, and returned a trans woman saddled with university debt—but it didn’t seem healthy, to her middle‐aged motherly mind, for a young person like that to be spending all of her time indoors. Red wasn’t a pokémon trainer, either, but now, and with this upcoming tournament, perhaps it was time.

Hoping to convince her daughter of such, she adopted a cheery demeanour when she arrived home. ‘Red, darling?’ she called. ‘Come join me in the dining room; I’ve a gift for you.’

The young woman in question emerged slowly from her room, her copper hair slightly tousled, and her visage looking for all the world very tired. Her hands had lodged themselves firmly in her hoodie jacket’s front pockets, and she came to stand awkwardly near the table, addressing her mother with some combination of skepticism and distrust. ‘Yeah?’ she inquired, surveying the pile of groceries suspiciously, and finding there nothing particularly present‐shaped among them.

‘Here it is!’ Her mother reached into her basket with altogether too much enthusiasm and pulled out the tin, passing it over. Red took one look at it and groaned, the complimentary premier ball staring up at her through the plastic window in the top. This wasn’t the shape of a present, but the form of an expectation.

She shoved the tin into her jacket pocket—it didn’t quite fit; the edge stuck out awkwardly—fully intending to stash it in her desk for all eternity without ever tearing off the thin plastic wrap which enclosed it. ‘What’s this for, then?’ she asked.

‘Well, I just heard that they’re going to be holding a pokémon tournament down in Wedgehurst in just a couple months’ time! And—’

‘…Mum,’ Red interrupted. She sighed. She didn’t have the stuff to be a pokémon trainer: She didn’t even remotely pass as a woman, to start off, much less a Model or Beauty or any of the other trainer classes available to adults of the female gender. And maintaining a competitive edge in pokémon battling would require submitting herself to the eyes of countless strangers, in the middle of the wilderness, at every juncture assumed to be masculine, forever treated like a person that it physically pained her to be. It wasn’t a sport which many trans people excelled in.

The only question, in her mind, was how one might explain that in a way that one’s cisgender mum might actually understand.

‘Look, I don’t care if you compete or not,’ Mum Dunn said, thankfully saving her the effort. ‘But don’t you think it’s high time you caught a pokémon of your own? Or… Were you just planning on borrowing Yamper every time you want to venture outside of town, for the rest of your life?’

And, she did have a point there, although Red loathed to admit it. Wot with wild pokémon roaming about, looking for fights, taking a partner pokémon alongside when travelling the routes of Galar was a simple matter of safety. (To say nothing of the Wild Area—although, Red had little reason to ever venture there.) Of course, she had always taken Yamper, provided Mum didn’t have any other business, and the pokémon in Southern Galar were by‐and‐large half‐domesticated anyway, so long as you stayed out of the Weald. Nevertheless, at 23 even she had to admit that relying on the family pokémon was starting to get a bit old. Nothing against the scamp.

‘…I’ll think about it,’ Red said, finally. ‘But don’t you go expecting me to take off on any grand pokémon journeys, or anything like that! Even if I should happen to catch something, we’re not all from Postwick wandering spirits.’

‘Heavens know, I’m not,’ Bonnie replied, relieved by her daughter’s concession. ‘Wouldn’t hurt for you to leave the house every once in a while, though. Make some friends.’

Red groaned and headed back to her room, closing the door a bit more abruptly than she properly needed to. Bonnie shook her head at Yamper, who was staring up at the table with a hopeful look. ‘No,’ she said. ‘I didn’t bring home a present for you.’

Who’s That Pokémon?​

This pokémon is very curious, and will attempt to collect information about its surroundings using the hairs on its body. This behaviour may cause trouble, when the thing it examines is not friendly.

Often found in gardens, particularly in the Southern Galar region.​

As it happened, Red Dunn did a great deal more than just think about catching a pokémon—she researched it extensively. The mechanics of the art were plainly straightforward :— bring the pokéball to size; activate the capture lock; throw. Some species have an evolutive preference for stronger trainers; you can awe them with a battle, bribe them with food, or try to impress them with an artful throw or expensive pokéball. Fail, and they’ll break free. The more common varieties—bugs, for example—made for an easier catch. And that made for a simple enough task, in itself: Red could encounter larva pokémon just by stepping out into the garden.

She hadn’t intended to do anything so soon, but there was a tin eating a hole in her pocket, and nobody could say whether she would even be successful. Her brain rationalized her eagerness as strategic: Blipbug was hardly a competitive pokémon, and by catching one, she could appease her mum’s request while denying her further ambitions in a single stroke. And besides, she hadn’t anything better to do that evening (or most). So, Red did slice open the thin plastic wrap on the tin, pop it open on her desk, and select from within a single pokéball. Not the premier, of course—she didn’t want to waste that on a pokémon she wasn’t sure she would catch and wasn’t sure she wanted to keep—but an ordinary, traditional, red‐and‐white model. She let it expand to full size in her palm, felt the weight of it, then placed it into her jacket pocket, where the tin used to be, stepping out into the cool dusk springtime air.

There existed a stillness to the evenings that one encountered in Postwick which was difficult—if not impossible—to replicate in any other locale in Galar. The air, cool and dry; the sky, calm and clear; the stars, slowly puncturing holes in the expanding dark canvas above, free as these parts were from the light pollution wot plagued the northern regions. All was silent but for the soft hum of sevenspots, the occasional Bug Buzz as one fended off a tinybird looking for an evening snack, and the sleepy wooing of the sheep a few fields over as they settled down for the night. It made for a calming ambiance, one which Red had grown up with—and one which she now appreciated, because it helped to take the edge off of her nerves.

She’d already spotted her first larva, perched on the edge of the patio, watching her inquisitively. It really was nothing special, in no way different than the countless other larvae she had witnessed (or almost stepped on) through the course of her life. There was nothing unique about this one’s markings; nothing was different about the knowing reflection of houselights against its large, unblinking eyes. Not even its tiny yawn was especially cuter than other larval yawns—that was what Red told herself, as her fingers brushed the smooth surface of her pokéball. But it felt different, standing there. She drew out her hand, and it was shaking slightly. The larva didn’t say a word.

She tossed the pokéball.

Red’s aim was off—horribly. She had never been the athletic type, growing up; having no aspirations towards being a trainer, it wasn’t as though she had been practicing throws. The larva’s eyes watched the trajectory of the orb as it sailed uselessly over its head and landed softly in the grass. This was a new phenomenon for the Blipbug: It had never witnessed a pokéball before—and certainly not one tossed so haphazardly. It cast a wary eye back at the human who’d tossed it—were they angry? and would they start throwing more things?—before sauntering off to investigate.

One tiny larval foot prodded the mysterious orb experimentally. The capture lock activated in an instant, and, with a concerned expression—was there any other way for a Blipbug to look?—the pokémon was sucked inside.

The light on the front of the pokéball glowed faintly, then faded. There was a soft clicking noise, accompanied by a chime. The silence of Postwick set in, absolute and deafening.

Blipbug was caught, and by its own unwitting devices.

Red let out a short laugh. She walked over to the pokéball, and—somewhat hesitantly—picked it up off the ground. It was warm to the touch; faintly damp from the grass. In her other hand, she pulled out her Rotom Phone, and fired up the Pokédex app to see more information about what exactly she had just caught.
#010 Blipbug [Bug] ♂️

Compound Eyes

  • [Bug] Infestation (Special: 20 / 100%)
  • [Bug] Struggle Bug (Special: 50 / 100%)

Timid nature. Alert to sounds.

It was only staring at this screen, with its vast array of informations and metrics, that Red realized that she actually had very little understanding of what she had just done. She had just caught a pokémon. She was now responsible for the livelihood and wellbeing of a pokémon. She had no idea what the fuck that meant.

With the last rays of sunlight fading over the horizon, her day’s research had only just begun.

Red made it back to her room quietly—closing the door behind her, to keep Yamper out—and then released Blipbug from its pokéball. It alighted on the floor near her desk, and she let the pokéball rest on the wooden surface. ‘Alright,’ she said, and Blipbug listened curiously to her human mouth‐sounds. ‘We ought to be partners now, so it’s our responsibility to get to know one another, yeah?’

Blipbug stared at her for a few seconds more, and then it begin climbing its way up her leg—almost toppling her. It was heavier than she’d expected: over a stone. Gathering information from its surroundings using its hairs… right. Well, Red supposed that was one way.

She preferred the Internet. Waddling over to her computer like a drunken gulp, she sat down at her desk and flicked the monitor on. Intrigued by the sudden onset of light, Blipbug crawled down her arm and pressed its face to the screen. ‘No, love,’ Red said, picking it up and placing it at a safer distance, on her shoulder. ‘You’ll damage those Compound Eyes of yours if you do that.’

It seemed content enough to stay there and watch the moving images on the screen.

‘So… Infestation does recurring damage and prevents a pokémon from fleeing?’ Red muttered to herself, browsing the wiki page. ‘That sounds like it might be useful when trying to capture wild pokémon. If that were something I was interested in—which it’s not.’ She didn’t have to turn her head to know that her pokémon was staring at her, its usual worried expression on its face. ‘Don’t give me that look. It seems it’s pretty rare for a wild Blipbug to know that move—I guess you are a tad unique, after all.’

She got a small “blip!” in response, and she leaned her head to one side, kissing Blipbug with her cheek. ‘And Struggle Bug… lowers special·attack. I guess you don’t learn any other moves until you evolve. You have the smarts, but not the stature, huh?’


‘Alright, well, fortunately for you, it doesn’t look like you’ll have to wait for too long.’ Red yawned and adjusted her glasses. ‘Now, let’s see about that ability of yours…’

The pair weren’t the only ones pulling a late night. Down the road, across a field, and in a tidy and well‐kept farmhouse, a woman named Cashmere Lane was busy packing her bags. Beside her was a sheep pokémon—her sheep pokémon, she asserted; they’d been friends since it’d hatched from an egg and nobody else here gave a damn. Wooloo’s ability was Run Away, and that was exactly what Cash asserted she wasn’t doing, even as she took advantage of the cover of night to sneak illicit things into her sack :— food, potions, pokéballs. Her parents were asleep—they’d be up early to tend the farm—and her brother wasn’t home, busy organizing for the tournament in Wedgehurst. So there was nobody to stand in her way. Wooloo bleated a soft woo, and she shushed it—but a Wooloo’s woo was hardly suspicious behaviour here; their farm held several dozen of them. Still, she recalled it into its pokéball—if only so that it would finally get some rest.

She wasn’t running away from home: That was the thought she kept repeating in her head. True, she may have been a lesbian, and her father might have been a true dyed·in·the·wool conservative; yes, he’d made it quite clear on numerous occasions that he expected nothing from her but that she manage the farm and marry a well·to·do lad, and yes, she had told him in no uncertain terms that that was simply not going to happen; absolutely, her home life was a heaping pile of sheepshit because of it. But she was an adult fucking woman, about to embark on a perfectly ordinary pokémon journey, and she was doing so of her own volition. She was not some kind of LGBT runaway. If she were a sheep, she wouldn’t be a Wooloo but a Dubwool, and her ability wouldn’t be Run Away but Steadfast.

That was what she told herself, but her abscondence was nevertheless far from legitimized. Not that she needed anyone’s approval, clearly—but here she was packing her bags in the middle of the night. So perhaps there was some credence to the idea. She was definitely escaping.

Yet, she knew, the hard part wouldn’t be leaving, but staying away. After all, Cash, despite her nickname, had never exactly been flush with the stuff. And here she was a homeschooled country girl from fucking Postwick, a woman whose skills began and ended with life on the sheepfarm, fat lot of good that would do anywhere else. There had only ever been one real path out of Postwick, and that was pokémon battling: That was what her brother hand done, and Hop before him, and Gloria before him, and Leon before her. That was the magic ingredient to Postwick trainers which the media confounded over and couldn’t understand. Fear of coming back.

Nobody ever came back. Well, not nobody—Cashmere knew of one person who’d left Postwick and then returned voluntarily—but that was Red Dunn, and she was a special case. She’d heard all about that story through the grapevine (which was to say, snide comments over the breakfast table by her pa): The Postwick lad who had come back a lass, now a complete waste to society living out of her bedroom with her ma. As it happened, she might be the key to Cash’s victory.

All Cash needed was a League endorsement: That was all it took, and she would never have to come home again. But her father didn’t approve of her battling, and her brother wouldn’t just hand one out to anybody who asked. She needed to win that Wedgehurst tournament and force his hand.

And she needed to do it in secret—if she was to have any hope of success.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

It’s the larva pokémon, Blipbug!​

‘—afternoon, Ms Dunn. Hope I’m not disturbing you.’

The voices filtered into Red’s room through the closed door. Blearily, she sat up and rubbed her eyes, then searched for her glasses. Blipbug was already up, examining the contents of her closet with great interest.

‘Of course not, Cash!’ her mother replied. ‘Come right on in; it’s been ages!’

Cash… That would be Cashmere Lane, then: Shepherd’s younger sister. She and Red had been childhood friends, in the way that youth in small towns were often obligated to be—but they hadn’t spoken since the latter had left for University, so Red wondered what she could possibly be doing on her doorstep now. Knowing her family, and considering that when they’d last met Red had still identified as a lad, she also wondered if she might be better off pretending to be sleeping yet.

Cash’s voice shattered any hope that she might be there on account of some manner of neighbourly interaction with Red’s mum. ‘Is Red around?’ she asked. ‘I’ve a favour to ask of her and was hoping we could speak in private.’

‘Is she ever not, is the more pertinent question,’ Bonnie remarked, glancing back at Red’s closed door. ‘But I’m not sure she’s up yet—yes, I know it’s almost noon.’

But Cashmere’s pointed use of the feminine pronoun had already decided the question in Red’s mind. ‘I’m awake!’ she called out to them. ‘Just give me a second!’ She tugged off her pyjama bottoms, and dug around the room for some actual trousers. ‘Be out in a bit!’ After spotting some which appeared clean and wrinkle·free, she quickly buttoned them on. ‘C’mon, Blip. People to meet.’

Blipbug’s inquisitive eyes watched her as she hoisted it up onto her shoulder.

The duo emerged a moment later. Mum and Cash were already sat in the sitting room—in a picture of hospitality, the former had already set out tea and scones. Red, famished from slumber, helped herself to both. ‘Mum. Cash,’ she said, taking a seat and nodding to each of them in turn. ‘Blipbug.’

Bonnie smiled to see the pokémon, but made no comment. Taking a hint, she retired to the garden patio to give the younger ones some space. Red noticed a full sack was set beside Cash’s chair, and wondered if she was about to set out, or return. She took another bite of scone.

Cashmere waited until after Ms Dunn was out of earshot before she spoke. ‘Hey, Red, long time no see, huh?’ she said, giving her a very awkward smile. ‘How’s life been treating ya?’

‘Oh, you know,’ Red replied, which was Postwick slang for “pretty shite, but at least I’ve a roof overhead, yeah?” Cash nodded and tapped her chest solemnly.

‘I feel that,’ she said, ‘Right here. In my soul. How was the, uh, university?’

‘Didn’t kill me,’ Red remarked. That was about the highest praise she could give it.

‘Had to be better than here, though, right?’ That drew a sigh from Red: As if there were any way to quantify the differing struggles of being closeted in a small town and being out and lonely in a big city! Cash rolled her eyes. ‘Look, you had to go clubbing at least once, yeah?’

‘It was Motostoke, not Wyndon, Cash.’ Red had never quite made friends with any of the ladies at school, and it wasn’t exactly her cup of tea going clubbing with the lads. So, she’d typically declined that.

‘Well, pardon my homeschooled arse for not knowing the difference!’ Cash exclaimed. ‘Look, I’m sorry for not staying in touch, but I was jealous, alright? My brother left, you left, and I got left behind. And it was… because I was a woman, right? So then I heard you came out, and I was just so insanely jealous—not because of that—but because you were able to do so from… far away. Where·as, when my pa found out I was a lesbian, it was with me stood right there in front of him.’ She gave a long exhale, then recentred herself. ‘So anyway. That’s why I never reached out after you returned. Even though… I feel like us Postwick lasses ought to stick together, after all. Now that I’m sitting here, and you’re sat there, I… I dunno. Feel like I maybe let you down.’

‘You didn’t,’ Red said, quickly trying to re·assure. ‘I mean… I never expected anything.’

‘Thanks, Red, that makes me feel all better.’ Cash snorted. ‘In any case. Enough of that moping. You look cute, today.’

‘Cash.’ Red was blushing and she knew it, but she tried to counter it with a stern countenance. ‘You said you had a favour for me?’

‘That’s right; I’m buttering you up!’ Cash sipped her tea. ‘Don’t be such a damper. You hear about that tournament my brother is holding down in Wedgehurst?’

‘I’m not entering,’ Red asserted immediately. ‘I may have a Blipbug on my shoulder, but I am not a pokémon trainer.’

‘Perfect! Cock on,’ Cash replied. ‘Be a tad awkward if you were. Thing is, I’d like to.’ She sighed and glanced out the window—it was another beautiful Postwick day. ‘But if my brother were to find out, it could be troublesome, you know? I mean, he’s gonna badger me with all these questions about my pokémon and about my training, and—I’d rather the whole thing just be a surprise, you know?’

‘Okay? So use an alias.’ That solution seemed simple enough. ‘There’s plenty of trainers wot battle under a stage·name.’

‘Sure thing I’ll use an alias, Looker. That’s not the fucking point.’ Cash tapped her foot impatiently. ‘Because when my brother runs his eyes down the roster and sees a 23‐year‐old Beauty from Postwick… Dunno if you’ve noticed, love, but there ain’t exactly a whole lot of young women hanging around this town. There’s really only two people it could be.’


‘I need you to pretend to be me,’ Cash admitted, finally. ‘Just, drop some hints to your mum or whoever that you’re thinking of competing, and—you know Postwick; word gets around. If my brother comes around and asks, spin him a good yarn, y’know?’

‘You don’t think they’ll find it odd I’m not out training?’ Red asked. Blipbug had migrated from her shoulder to the top of her head, and it was giving Cashmere quite the staredown. She glared right back at it. ‘And, since when have you been a pokémon trainer, anyway? Last I heard, you thought pokémon training was boys’ stuff, and all you had to your name was a Wooloo.’

‘Yes, well.’ There was a pokéball on Cash’s hip, and her hand subconsciously touched it at the mention of her partner’s name. ‘There’s plenty of time before the tournament begins to catch more pokémon. I just… Look, Red, I need to get out of here. I didn’t get to go away to college or whatever; this League endorsement is my big chance. I just want my fair shot. I know this is a hassle for you, but… the victory pot is ₱85,000. So long as I get my endorsement, I’d be happy to split the cheque.’

Now, ₱42,500 wasn’t exactly a fortune, but it was nothing to sneeze at either. Of course, seeing that amount depended on Cash actually winning, and with only a Wooloo and a few months, that didn’t seem bloody likely. Red sighed, and reached up to pat Blipbug on its head. ‘What do you think, buddy?’ she asked.

It gave her hand a worried stare.

‘… Alright,’ Red conceded, finally. ‘Blipbug has some concerns, but we’ll do it. But you’d better win.’

Cashmere exhaled visibly, then smiled and nodded. ‘Yeah,’ she said. ‘That’s the plan. Thanks.’ She rose from her seat. ‘I’ll get out of your hair. But, Red… If you need me for anything, come and find me on Route 2, okay? Let’s not be strangers this go·around.’

‘… Okay. Best of luck,’ Red replied, and she saw Cash to the door. ‘Hey, Cashmere,’ she added, as an afterthought. ‘… Are you really registering as a Beauty?’

Cash winked at her—and Red gulped. The title wasn’t inaccurate. ‘Wooloo’s a normaltype, love,’ she said. Then she turned, and Red watched as she walked off down the lane. It was an unexpected visit, with unexpected consequences: They had been friends, once, but Cash was a different person than she remembered. The two might be better off starting at square one.

‘So, I see you caught yourself a Blipbug,’ Mum said, standing behind her, evidently having caught on that their guest had gone. Red stepped backwards from the doorframe and closed the door. ‘That didn’t take long.’

‘Yeah, last night …’ Red replied, allowing herself a deep breath. Well, here went nothing. ‘You know, I thought some more about what you said, and … I think I might try going for that tournament, after all.’

Chimecho’s Jukebox​

“Smalltown”. Chumbawamba. From Tubthumper (1997).​

Cashmere adjusted her pack, standing at the top of Route 1, looking down at the town of Wedgehurst, below. She released Wooloo from its pokéball. ‘Okay, buddy,’ she said. ‘I know you’ve never really left the farm before, but there’s a whole big world out there. You ready to explore it with me?’

Wooloo bleated softly. It didn’t seem entirely sure.

While every Pokémon game has the player begin their journey in a small town, I think Sword & Shield manage this par excellence. I found the rural setting of Southern Galar to be very familiar and welcoming—there are farms! And livestock! It’s not just a suburb of a larger city!—and I hope I did it justice here. I think that the geographical and cultural differences across the Galar region are really interesting—and something which most fanfics don’t bother getting into. (I’m also disappointed in the amount of OC Galar fanfiction in general!) My hope is to use this series to shine a little light on the region, and better help people appreciate its unique charms.


  1. custom/hoppip-bluesidra-reup
  2. custom/hoppip-bluesidra-pink
  3. custom/hoppip-bluesidra3
Hello! I'm here after I binge-read the first chapter! I hope your update schedule is not too fast, because that way I can hope I keep this up!

So, in the rare case my various pfps as well as my fic didn't give it away, I'm somewhat of a bit of a Leon and Hop fan. But only a little. So I'll save you my wall of text gushing over their mentions. But I friking love it. Oh, there are other characters in this story you say? I should probably focus on them, eh?
No, wait, not just yet! "Retired?" Ma'am, those guys and gals are still working, and doing a more or less splendid job at that. (idk how Gloria's keeping up, but Leon is testing the structural integrity of Battle Tower with every earthquake he unleashes up there. Maybe there's a bet between Raihan and him who can cause the most insurance damage)
OK but now

I really love the narrator's voice in this. It sounds like a true narrator, some old grandpa sitting on a porch somewhere and telling a story. Also, there is a nice zoom-in in the beginning, that did not slip past me! We go from Galar, to Postwick, to the former and current Champions, to me fangirling for half an hour, to Shepard Lane (which I believed to be the name of the only street in Postwick), to his tournament, to Bonnie and then to the first interaction of the story: Red.

So Red is a pretty socially awkward young woman, who lives at her mom's without much of a goal (concerningly relatable, but ok...). She is very abrasive when talking to anyone, especially her mom. She has reasons for her behaviour, but she doesn't share them, even though I think she has laid them out perfectly and her mom seems to be willing to listen. But I already mentioned how I wanted to smack her across the face, so I think you get it.
She shows a much more "trying" (idk, the opposite of carefree) side to her as soon as she's back in her room. She researches Blipbugs (the most common pokemon in the area) and has a very goal-oriented approach to catching one. Even if it is only to appease her mom.
The catching itself is hilarious and Blipbug is the best little critter ever! So sweet! I love it!
After that, we get to see a new side to Red that was, admittedly, surprising. She is very emphatic with her Blipbug and cares for it, even though she admits that she doesn't know how to care for a pokemon. She intuitively interprets Blipbug's behavioural cues and reacts appropriately. Now, it's nothing new that some people are wonderful with animals and terrible around humans, but that's mostly due to a general "vibe-mismatch". What strikes me as odd with Red is her inability to parse her emotions to her mother, but complete comfort and openness around Blipbug. They act like besties the moment Blipbug is out of the pokeball, for no reason whatsoever.

In fact, around this time (or, to be exact, at the pokedex entry for Blipbug) seems to be a break in the chapter. In the first half it was rather slow and detailed, and in the second half, the speed picks up a lot, and many questions remain unanswered because of it. I think it becomes most obvious in the characterization of Cashmere and her conversation with Red.

We are introduced to Cashmere when she packs her things under the cover of darkness, ready to not-runaway from home to become a pro-circuit trainer. But there are a few steps she has to take on the way there.
Cashmere is first and foremost defined as a lesbian. We don't get anything about her character, not even a physical description, other than a) she gay and b) the struggle is real. Oh, she was also homeschooled, raised on a wooloo farm and is the sister of shepard. But those last points don't really give me much of her as a character. I guess I could make a point about her being headstrong and rebellious, and the dialogue later brings her character out a bit better. But where Red got a lot of attention in her introduction that went beyond her being trans, Cash seems to be defined by her queerness.

The two girls hatching their plan is a quick and endearing scene. I don't want to nitpick the logics of this plan, because Red already did so herself - kudos to her for that! I love it when characters get called out in universe for their stupidity.
What surprised me about this scene were two things:
1) The girls bonding seemingly out of nowhere over their lgbtq status and
2) Red going along with it rather quickly.
Now, I get it. When I'm around another openly gay person, the bar for sharing intimate thoughts and feelings with them is immediately lowered because of a sense of camaraderie. But that only extends to my experiences as a gay person myself, and about the fears and doubts over coming out. Just because the other person is gay, I'd not instantly make a life changing decision because of that fact alone. And both Cash and Red seem to be doing that. Red is, despite her disinterest and inertia the first time she appeared, pretty open to the idea. And with her, I can kinda buy that -- I have a sneaking suspicion that she hides a very active and curious side under that abrasiveness and disinterest in everything, so point 2) isn't that bad.

But yeah. I overall liked this chapter. It definitely gets things going and with only 5k, it's clear that there won't be a full characterisation possible. Also, the opening to my fic takes a solid 20k without much happening, solely because "establishing characters", so take my harping with a grain of salt :D

As for your A/N at the bottom: I can't wait to explore Wyndon and the lower half of Galar, too. Sadly, everything north of Hammerlocke is a jumbled mess. (I have a lot of opinions on Gen8) But I don't mind seeing your gals go there!

Keep it up! Cheers - blue


Inland Northwest, United States
Hello! I'm here after I binge-read the first chapter!
thank you for reading and also for your comments!!

I hope your update schedule is not too fast, because that way I can hope I keep this up!
fortunately for you, the pace of my writing is not too fast 😅

Also, there is a nice zoom-in in the beginning, that did not slip past me!
probably inspired by Whisper of the Heart, if i’m being honest

Now, it's nothing new that some people are wonderful with animals and terrible around humans, but that's mostly due to a general "vibe-mismatch". What strikes me as odd with Red is her inability to parse her emotions to her mother, but complete comfort and openness around Blipbug.
don’t take this as an Official Word or anything, but i have a feeling Red thinks she is a lot worse around people than she actually is… which results in some of the strange behaviours you have noticed

We don't get anything about her character, not even a physical description, other than a) she gay and b) the struggle is real. Oh, she was also homeschooled, raised on a wooloo farm and is the sister of shepard. But those last points don't really give me much of her as a character.
definitely; filling out Cash’s character is going to be the project of the next few chapters, so i went light on it here

I don't want to nitpick the logics of this plan
it’s a terrible plan

but i kind of admire a little bit of ridiculousness in pokémon fics 😜

1) The girls bonding seemingly out of nowhere over their lgbtq status
for Cash, this is at least partially out of necessity for her (harebrained?) scheme; for Red, i think she’s just lonely lmao

2) Red going along with it rather quickly.
this will probably wind up a recurring theme 😂
Episode 02 – On the Tail of Victory!


Inland Northwest, United States
Episode 02

On the Tail of Victory!​

Cashmere Lane hadn’t wasted any tears saying goodbye when she had departed her household that morning. For starters, there wasn’t anybody to cry to: She and her father were barely on speaking terms—and her brother wasn’t around. ‘I’m off to Hulbury’: That was all she’d said, announcing it over the breakfast table as simply as if it were her everyday routine. ‘I need a vacation.’ Pa Lane was sitting there, reading the paper and taking his tea, and he merely grunted in response. Perhaps he hoped some lad would knock her up on the ocean shores, and she’d come back heterosexual and with a new understanding of her place in life. It was a fat chance—the beaches of Hulbury were far from the actual destination she had in mind.

Regarding her destination: The Dunn household had only been the first stop along her journey—although, it had seemed the most difficult. Cash hadn’t seen her childhood friend since, well, before she had come out as a woman, and she hadn’t really known what to expect. As it happened, though, Red looked about the same as ever, if a little less kempt—which was kind of cute, in a way. (She’d always been such an uptight youth.)

As for the matter of her actual request: It had gone swimmingly. Red would cover for Cash’s entry in the Wedgehurst Pokémon Tournament by pretending to enter herself. Red’s concern about said plan really hadn’t been misplaced: Cash truly did only have her childhood Wooloo alongside, and it was a domestic pokémon not used to serious battling. Her pokédex told the story :—
#034 Wooloo [Normal] ♂️

Run Away

  • [Normal] Tackle (Physical: 40 / 100%)
  • [Normal] Growl (Status: ⸺ / 100%)
  • [Normal] Defence Curl (Status: ⸺ / ⸺%)

Docile nature. Scatters things often.

—: but then, that was why she was now headed to Route 2. She needed to catch others. And, well, to train. Cashmere was well‐aware that her odds were long, but she wasn’t about to give anything less than everything she had. After all, she couldn’t really afford to lose.

Her father didn’t approve of her battling: That was the long and short of it. The man was a Rosey, the type wot thought that Postwick’s three most successful trainers—ever—were nothing more than upstarts disgracing the proud traditions of Galar, wot with their new “Battle Tower” and “schools” and “democratic reforms”. ‘Business has given this region everything it has to offer,’ he would say. ‘And they want to throw that away—for what! Socialism! Next you know, they’ll be having us catch pokémon with apricorns, rather than pokéballs!’

‘Well,’ Cash would retort, ‘they are biodegradable.’

‘They’re ruddy plants!’ her father would exclaim. ‘You can’t catch a pokémon with a ruddy plant! Whatever happened to great men, and great technology?!’ Neverminding the fact that people had, indeed, been catching pokémon with apricorns for hundreds of years—and they still were today, in Johto.

Of course, her brother’s activities posed no problem. He was the firstborn son, and he could do whatever he damn well pleased, so long as he settled down “eventually” on the family farm. (Cash wasn’t holding her breath on that one.) But she: She was to be the dutiful daughter: to manage the estate, to marry well, and to cover up for all of her brother’s blunders. Pokémon battling would only alienate her future husband. While Cash didn’t respect her father or his opinions, she also didn’t want to be homeless, so for the time being she had to play along.

It was for this reason that she couldn’t let anyone know about her entry. No, she wasn’t worried about her brother being unfair, or spoiling her chances. It was just that the man couldn’t keep his damn mouth shut. Nobody in Postwick could. Yet, if Cash were to win the tournament, and secured an endorsement, fair and square—well, there was nothing that a League loyalist like Pa could do to keep her from following through with the Gym Challenge. Supposing she did well with that—she’d be able to live off of endorsements for a few years minimum. She would never need to return home.

On the other hand, if she lost, she’d be forced back home under the full fury of her father’s rage. Not only that, but she’d be letting down her friend, who, in all honesty, was really sticking her neck out for her on this one. No pressure.

It was with these thoughts in mind that Cash herded Wooloo away from the welkept path wot most people followed down to Wedgehurst, and into the tall, grassy areas which skirted Route 1. She needed every chance at training she could get. They would take the long way down.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

The curly fleece of this pokémon is strong, and provides a powerful cushion against falls. But it also inhibits movement, making tumbles frequent if it grows too long.​

Cash wasn’t anticipating any trouble. After all, the pokémon of Route 1 were all partially‐domesticated types, those wot lived off of the surrounding farm habitats and were perfectly comfortable with humans around. Even without a partner pokémon by one’s side, the trip to Wedgehurst could be made easily and without fear. It wasn’t to say there were no opportunities for training: Even farm pokémon needed to grow and evolve, after all, and they usually wouldn’t shy away from a goodnatured battle if a trainer was willing.

And Cash’s Wooloo needed to grow, as well.

‘Alright, Wooloo! Growl! Let’s go!’ The first pokémon to challenge them was a Grubbin—a short, squishable larva pokémon which compensated for its size with the large pincers on its face—although this one seemed even smaller than most. It ought to have been an easy battle. Wooloo growled cutely, and it was enough for Grubbin to clue into the fact that they weren’t fighting to the death here. It chittered, and it opened its pincers wide in response…

…chomping down with a forceful Vice Grip right onto poor Wooloo’s tail. ‘What the fuck!’ Cash exclaimed, watching in embarrassment as her pokémon yelped and hopped and spun around, a small Grubbin clamping its rear for dear life. ‘Wooloo, shake it off!’ She assessed her options: The only damaging move Wooloo had in its arsenal was Tackle—and she couldn’t exactly command it to Tackle its own butt.

Wonderful. Cash’s pokémon journey had just begun, and she’d already been outstrategized by a fucking bug.

‘Ugh, fuck, alright, you know what? Wooloo, just run.’ Wooloo’s Run Away ability guaranteed escape if it tried to flee—and, indeed, the nefarious pest slipped off as it bounded away. Yet, Wooloo was teetering—shite, she’d let its fleece get too long and it was getting in the way of its legs—and in a moment it was head·over·heels, tumbling down the hilside like a fluffy woolen boulder.

Wooloo would be fine: It was welcushioned for this sort of thing. Cash, on the other hand, was left sprinting after, trying her damnedest to avoid any wild pokémon who might try a battle with her while her sheep was away.

She tripped on a rock, and she was herself more·or·less tumbling after, without such a wooly protective blanket to soften her fall.

A bridge lay just before Wedgehurst; the pair missed it, and came to a stop in the muddy banks of the stream. Cash groaned, stretching and wincing at the fresh bruises she’d acquired in the fall. ‘I suppose you’re not the only one with room to grow, huh?’ she asked Wooloo, who was shakily rising to its feet. ‘Could have had a better showing back there.’

Wooloo bleated out a soft “woo!”, and the two of them strolled into town, a very grubby trainer and pokémon.

It was early afternoon, and the streets were far from empty. ‘Aye, it’s another Postwick Beauty,’ Cash heard from one pair of lads who walked past, and the speaker nodded his head to indicate her to his mate. Then he muttered, still quite loud enough for her to hear: ‘Ain’t they teach girls how to bathe up there?’

‘Aye, yourself!’ Cash shouted back at them. She made sure they’d both turned to look before she saluted them with her middle finger. ‘And g’day!’

‘Tha’s a Postwick Beauty, alright,’ his companion laughed—and they walked away.

Cashmere wasn’t about to let some city blokes get the best of her nerves, though. She turned and made immediate tracks for the Pokémon Centre—which, given the condition of her and her pokémon, was only natural as a first stop. ‘Hallo… D’you’ve any lodgings available?’ Cash asked the resident Pokémon Centre Lady, once she’d strode up to the counter. ‘And, I’m hoping to register for the upcoming tournament; what’s that take?’

‘We’ve several beds available,’ the Pokémon Centre Lady replied. They wouldn’t be anything fancy—a number of cots thrown together in a large, same‐gender room—but the important thing was that they were provided to trainers free of charge. ‘May I see your Trainer Card?’

‘Oh! I, er, haven’t one yet, actually; this’ll be my first competition.’ Cash knew this was unbearably provincial of her; in the cities, it was expected that everybody register as a trainer before they caught their first pokémon. Out here in the country, rules were a little more lax: When one was raised on a Wooloo farm, one rather just grew up with them. ‘Is that a problem?’

‘Not at all.’ Cash was given a very customer‐service sort of smile. ‘It’s just a little more paperwork to get you settled.’ The Pokémon Centre Lady pulled a digital tablet out of her desk, brought up a form, and passed it over. ‘You’ll need to fill this out with the information from your birth certificate, and then I’ll get you sorted straight away. You’ll be assigned a Trainer ID, which will be registered to your pokéballs—that’s how we keep track of who the pokémon belong to! And you’ll be able to update your other information—like name, trainer class, and so forth—at the Rotomi station just over there. Of course, your age, gender, and hometown can’t be changed! I’ll process your tournament information and get you set up with a bed once that’s done.’

‘Alright,’ Cash said, taking the tablet and entering the data. Thankfully, the form was fairly basic, and didn’t ask for anything she couldn’t answer off the top of her head. ‘Say, just out of curiosity… Supposing a trainer’s gender doesn’t match what is on their birth certificate, how might one go about changing that?’

‘The Pokémon League does not prescribe mechanisms for correcting discrepancies in birth certificate data. You’ll need to take that up with your local shire or metropolitan district,’ came the response. ‘Once the information is corrected, we will gladly update our records.’ Down here in Southern Galar, that meant “good bloody luck”.

‘Seems odd that you can change your name at any time, but changing your sex is this whole process, don’t you think?’ Cash asked.

‘The gender on your Trainer Card is what we use to assign bedding,’ the Pokémon Centre Lady said, dryly. ‘Be thankful it’s a hassle—unless you’d rather be sleeping with a bunch of men.’

(‘Nope, definitely rather sleep with women!’ Cash muttered.) She handed the tablet back, and the nurse quickly validated the information. ‘Hold off on registering me for the tournament, though, would you?’ Cash asked. ‘I need to make a phone call.’

‘Of course.’ The Pokémon Centre Lady printed out a simple Trainer Card—nothing like what League Challengers got, but functional—and handed it over. ‘I’ve reserved Bed №12 for you; are there any pokémon you’d like us to look after this evening?’

‘Yes, right!’ Cash quickly recalled Wooloo into its pokéball. ‘It’s mostly just muddy, but it did have a nasty Vice Grip on its behind, so you might want to take a look.’

‘We’ll be sure to get it checked out,’ the Pokémon Centre Lady assured, receiving the pokéball from her. ‘And, speaking of muddy, the showers are just past the sleeping quarters, if you find yourself in need of refreshing.’

Cash felt her cheeks redden—although the woman’s perpetually calm demeanour told her that she was not the most wretched sight to walk through those doors. ‘Thanks; I’ll just make my call and go do that, then.’

Thirty seconds later, she was standing outside the Pokémon Centre, and had Red on video. ‘Hi, Red, we have… a bit of a problem,’ she said. Cash didn’t own a Rotom Phone, so she had to hold hers with her hand like the poor person she was.

‘Astounding,’ Red replied. She was in her room, by the looks of things. ‘It’s been, what, three hours?’

‘Shut up; I’ve never registered for a tournament before, I don’t know these things!’ Cash snapped. ‘I assumed you just filled out a form! Instead, it’s tied to your Trainer Card.’

‘Alright, so, pretend I don’t know what that is; what’s the problem?’

Cash sighed, running a hand through her hair. ‘It’s how they keep track of you at the Pokémon Centre and stuff? That doesn’t matter. The important thing is: They have it linked to one’s assigned gender at birth, so, basically, we’re fucked. I can change my name however I like and Shepherd will still know it’s not you.’

‘Well, I already told my mum I was entering, so we’d better not be fucked,’ Red replied, the open air of the Wedgehurst streetside thankfully softening the bite of her tone. ‘You really think he’s going to look into all that? How much information do they hand him regarding participants, anyway?’

‘I’ve no idea! Sorry, I’m panicking a bit here.’ Cash’s eyes were stinging, and when she wiped them, her hand came back wet. She had been so close. She couldn’t stand being done in by something like this. ‘Sorry. Just give me a second.’ She gave an incredibly loud sniffle, then took a deep breath. ‘Okay. I’m probably catastrophizing a little bit. I still want to do this. And, I mean, you already told your mum. I think… we need the help of somebody who actually knows a thing or two about Pokémon tournaments. You remember Sonia?’

‘The new Pokémon Professor? Yeah—although, I always figured she was, like, a TERF.’

‘She dated Leon, you ass; you can’t be both a TERF and bisexual.’

‘She gave me weird vibes when I was fifteen! I’m sorry!’ Red exclaimed. ‘You think she can help?’

‘I’m gonna ask. She’s the only proper trainer who is still local, you know? Aside from, well, my brother.’

‘Sounds like a plan,’ Red replied. She was being oddly cool about all of this—although her Blipbug kept trying to press its face against her phone. She lifted it and placed it on her shoulder. ‘Are you doing okay out there? You look a little… banged up.’

‘Alright, fuck off,’ Cash said, and she ended the call.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

It’s the sheep pokémon, Wooloo!​

Cash could hear the Yamper yamping and clawing at the door before it was opened, and soon it was excitedly running around her legs. It distracted her, for a moment, from the person who stood in the doorway. Cashmere hadn’t properly seen Sonia in‐person for some years, and she was struck immediately by how beautiful she was—and by how much skin was left exposed by her camisole. ‘Ah, h‐hello, sorry to disturb you,’ Cash stammered; Sonia’s cheeks were a little flushed, and she seemed a tad out‐of‐breath: Cash got the distinct impression she was disturbing something. ‘I was, er, wondering if I could have a word?’

Sonia flipped her hair over her shoulder, and Cash tried (unsuccessfully) not to follow its path down her front. ‘It’s no bother; come on in,’ she said, turning back towards the interior of the home. ‘Nessa! We’ve company!’

Within the mansion, Nessa emerged from a side·room and tossed Sonia’s labcoat at her; she put it on as she retreated, and tied up her hair—thankfully blocking Cash from getting too lost in the sight of her shoulder muscles. This was only a small boon, however, because Nessa, and she was standing right there in short shorts and a boob tube. Seated at a table with these twin goddesses, being served a cup of tea as casual as you please, Cashmere began fervently wishing she’d spent more time with her own preparations back at the Pokémon Centre. For Nessa’s benefit, she began with introductions: ‘Hi, yes, I’m Cash; er, my family owns the farm where Hop got his Wooloo?—wait, I suppose it’s a Dubwool now. We’re neighbours, kind of—well, across the field.’ Nessa looked at her with raised eyebrows and a blank expression, and Cash felt herself slowly combusting in lesbian panic. ‘Um, my brother is Shepherd; maybe you know him?’

‘I daresay we know him,’ Sonia said, thankfully breaking the tension; ‘he’s been by just about every other weekend, trying to organize his damn tournament. Mostly speaking to my grandmother, you know.’ Magnolia also lived in—well, owned—the mansion which Sonia called her home; although she was retired from being a Pokémon Professor, she still handled the political side of Southern Galar administration. ‘He’ll probably be the one to succeed her, you know. If he gets his Gym and everything, and not Hop.’

‘That sounds terrifying,’ Cash said, simply. ‘Anyway, that’s actually kind of why I’m coming to you…’ She took a deep breath, and let the words spill out. ‘See, I need you to help me lie to him. I want to enter the tournament, but… I can’t let him know, or my father will find out—which is not a good thing. At first, I thought that if somebody else from Postwick pretended to be entering, he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but now I know it’s linked to your Trainer Card, and my other friend is trans, and—’

‘Right, so you just need to use the national registration forms,’ Nessa cut in, like it was the simplest thing in the world. The other two stared at her, so she explained: ‘Look, each region keeps its own trainer database, right? So suppose some bloke shows up from Alola and wants to enter one of our tournaments; we’re not going to be able to just punch them up by ID. So there’s a separate registration form. As it usually means getting on the phone with another region… they hold off on processing them unless you actually win.’

Cash frowned. ‘So, what you’re saying is, if I use a national registration form, as if I were from another region—even though I’m actually from Galar—it’ll delay processing and Shepherd won’t be able to figure out who I am?’ It seemed like an awful bureaucratic hack, but then again, maybe that was exactly what she was looking for.

‘Yeah, he’ll just see « National Entrant – Galar: Postwick. Registration Number: blah blah blah blah. Trainer Class: Beauty. »’ Nessa said. ‘(You are a Beauty, right? You’ve the look of one.) Then, if you win, he’ll have to call up the League offices and tell them to process a victory for that registration. Takes up to a week. Which, ordinarily, that’s a big pain, yeah?’ Nessa lifted her teacup and took a pointed sip. ‘Nobody likes to wait for their tournament victory to be recorded! Plus, you’ll have to keep track of this entirely separate registration number in the meantime. In your case, though, it sounds like what you want. And if your friend ever wants to enter any tournaments, herself… it can help prevent her from getting misgendered by the tournament staff.’ She replaced her cup on its saucer. ‘If you don’t mind me using your printer, Sonia, I can go print out the forms.’

‘By all means.’ Nessa rose to do just that, and meanwhile Sonia turned back to Cash curiously. ‘If you don’t mind me asking, though: Why go through all this trouble? It seems like a lot of work for just a local tournament.’

‘I’m… kinda after the endorsement,’ Cash replied. It felt oddly vulnerable admitting that to another person—Red aside. Sonia was a Pokémon Professor. ‘I’m hoping to compete in the Gym Challenge.’

Sonia gave her a look of mock hurt in response. ‘You know, you could have just asked me! I’m qualified to endorse for the League!’

‘No offence, but my pa thinks you’re a crank,’ Cash laughed. ‘I mean, I appreciate the offer, really, but I was kinda hoping… Well, let’s just say I’m kind of doing this for him. Plus, I figure it’ll be easier to get endorsements if I’ve already got a tournament win.’

‘Don’t worry, I know a thing or two about needing to prove oneself to parental figures,’ Sonia replied, with a pointed glance towards the living quarters. ‘Just know that you have options, alright? Don’t let the pressure eat you alive.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

Sonia sighed. ‘Cash, I’m like three years older than you, heavens. Don’t make me feel ancient.’ Cash smiled, and sipped her tea, and the two shared a soft moment in silence.

It was interrupted when Nessa re·entered the room. ‘Paperwork acquired,’ she announced, passing a clipboard to Cash. ‘Sorry, the form’s a bit long. Fill that out, and I’ll manage the rest of it.’

‘Thank you so much,’ Cash said, starting to work immediately. It really wasn’t as bad as Nessa made it sound; it was only a few minutes before she was passing the clipboard back. And, business concluded, the three rose—but Sonia hesitated before showing Cash the door.

‘I feel… kind of bad,’ she said, looking between her guests. ‘You know, it’s traditional for Pokémon Professors to give new trainers a pokémon when they set out on their pokémon journey… but I haven’t any prepared.’

‘As it happens,’ Nessa remarked, ‘we breed Chewtle which know Swift Swim for the Hulbury Gym, and I’ve one with me right now which just hatched from an egg. It’s not very traditional, but it’ll be a very strong pokémon if you train it right.’ She took a pokéball off her belt and handed it to Sonia. ‘…If you’d like?’

Sonia took it gratefully, then offered it up to Cash. ‘Cashmere Lane, as Pokémon Professor of the Galar Region, I hereby bestow upon you this… Chewtle… that it might keep you safe and be both partner and friend to you on your journey. Please accept it, and my blessings; go forth and win that dang Wedgehurst Tournament and show your father up!’

Cash let out a small giggle and accepted the pokéball. She released it, and Chewtle materialized in the room. She scanned it with her pokédex :—

#042 Chewtle [Water] ♀️

Swift Swim

  • [Normal] Tackle (Physical: 40 / 100%)
  • [Water] Water Gun (Special: 40 / 100%)
  • [Water] Liquidation (Physical: 85 / 100%)
  • [Normal] Skull Bash (Physical: 130 / 100%)

Jolly nature. Somewhat vain.

Chewtle looked between the three women in the room and let out a large yawn; Cash had to admit it was very cute.

‘Don’t you go crying, now, Sonia,’ Nessa warned.

‘It’s… it’s my first time… gifting a trainer… their pokémon…’

‘Oh, heavens, let me fetch a kerchief.’

Before she had a chance to, though, Cash swept Sonia up in a sudden hug. ‘Thank you so much,’ she said, and her eyes were watering a little, too. ‘Nobody’s ever believed in me like this… I won’t let you down.’

‘It’s okay if you do,’ Sonia said, patting her back gently. ‘Just try your hardest, and don’t be afraid to come see me if things don’t work out. You’re not alone out there.’

‘If you’re ever in Hulbury, be sure to stop by the Gym,’ Nessa said, after the two had chance to separate. ‘I’d love to see how you wind up training that Chewtle. Remember: Swimmers are the Beauties of the sea.’

‘This one especially,’ Sonia winked.

Chimecho’s Jukebox​

“Knock Me Off My Feet”. SOAK. From Grim Town (2019).​

Sonia felt Nessa’s arms wrap around her waist as she closed the door, fingers teasing at the waistband of her denims. She leaned back, letting her shoulders rest against the other woman’s chest.

‘She seems like a nice girl,’ Nessa said.

‘Yeah, it’s funny; last time I spoke with her she was still an awkward teenager. And so was I, I suppose,’ Sonia replied. ‘But she seems to have grown up well. I’m glad she’s finally getting out.’

‘You know, she does have to win the tournament, first.’

Sonia spun around and faced Nessa sternly. ‘Now, don’t you underestimate Postwick girls.’

While I want to use this fic to explore trans issues/themes in Galar, it bothers me when the plotlines of trans characters are constantly bogged down with traumas and inconveniences. In this episode, I use Cash as a sort of proxy—she is the one who is inconvenienced, and she is the one who has to deal with the issue—as a way of saving Red from always being the one on the receiving end of Galar’s lack of trans accommodations.

I didn’t really want to have to cover this sort of thing this early in the fic (ugh hate Government Forms), but it was necessary for reasons of plot and pacing. Thank you for bearing with this little taste of bureaucracy!
Episode 03 – Zigzagoon Around!


Inland Northwest, United States
Episode 03

Zigzagoon Around!​

‘So, yeah, Nessa’s taking care of it,’ Cash said, into her phone. She was updating Red on the situation: Her entry into the Wedgehurst tournament was taken care of—and it would be suitably anonymized so that her brother wouldn’t know. Nessa had helpfully offered to file the forms for her, and promised to text her with her registration number once she’d done so. This was to say: Gym Leader Nessa had her phone number.

‘I’m surprised she was so far south,’ Red remarked, as Cash crossed the bridge into Route 2 proper. ‘Although… it is true that the lake near Magnolia’s house is the only place where you can reliably catch Feebas in Galar. Do you suppose that’s what she was after?’

‘I’m not sure that’s quite where she was looking to cast her rod, if you catch my drift,’ Cash replied. She was pretty sure that Sonia and Nessa either were already an item or were about to become one; in any case, she was 90% certain that she’d interrupted a snogging session by knocking on the door. ‘Regardless, she gave me a Chewtle—isn’t that amazing? I mean, technically Sonia did, but it’s a proper Hulbury Gym Chewtle in one of Nessa’s own dive balls, so take that as you will. It knows some wicked moves, too; I can’t wait to see it in action!’

Red nodded, mentally trying to recall the relevant type matchups. Chewtle gained a Rock type upon evolving to Drednaw, and that would pose an issue for Blipbug—and meant that Fighting‐types would remain a problem for Cash. ‘Glad to see you actually have a pokémon fit for battling,’ she said.

‘Hey, now, Wooloo isn’t—’ Whatever protest Cash was about to make was cut off—as a tinyraccoon barrelled out of the tall grass and straight into the backs of her legs. She was knocked flat on her face in the dirt. ‘Hey, you!’ she shouted, slipping out of her bag and snatching a small rock off the ground. Zigzagoon darted away, correctly assessing the range of her aim and looking quite pleased as the stone landed futilely behind it. Cash flipped it off and retrieved her phone from where it had fallen in the dirt. ‘Sorry about that,’ she said. ‘A wild pokémon just—oh, bloody hell! Scram!’

While her back was turned, a pair of foxes had snuck up behind her and were busy pilfering the foodstuffs out of her bag. She’d ordered a packaged meal with the intention of staving off her return to Wedgehurst until nightfall; with the Nickit running away with the paper sack between their teeth, it looked like that plan was dead in the water. Cash began to understand why many trainers travelled with at least one of their pokémon out of its pokéball—although, if she was honest with herself, she doubted Wooloo would have been much assistance.

‘…Is everything okay?’ Red asked, still listening on the call.

‘Yeah, er, some wild pokémon just stole my dinner,’ Cash said, putting her bag back in order and hoisting it onto her shoulders. She sighed, and stared up the hill. A return to Wedgehurst it was, then: ‘Look, I’ll… call you back.’

The voice on the other end laughed. Even if Cash didn’t win the tournament, it seemed Red was deriving some pleasure out of the whole affair.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

This pokémon is very restless, constantly darting about in a zigzag pattern. Originally from Galar, those native to the region are the most active and aggressive. They are known for running into others, looking for a fight.​

Much of Southern Galar had been woodland, in Galar’s distant past. In places, it still was :— to the north, for example, past Magnolia’s house, and to the south, in the Slumbering Weald. But the land betwixt had been farmland for many years thenceafter. The hills of Route 2 had hardly a tree upon them, and had been shaped by human intervention for many years.

For the most part, however, the humans wot travelled the Route weren’t farmers. No: The area hosted a stream and pond that were abundant with everything from Feebas to Arrokuda, and sported a diverse assortment of once‐woodland pokémon which were already comfortable with humans. This made it a popular route for pokémon trainers—at least for those south of the Wild Area; certainly better than Route 1. Farmers and other locals tended to stick to the unmarked and unofficial country paths for their daily business, and indeed there was little practical reason for anyone to take Route 2 proper, unless they were planning on making a home visit to the Pokémon Professor (as Cashmere just had).

Regarding trainers, Cash had passed several on her way up the hill—although most paid her no mind. While there were pokéballs on her hip, she wasn’t equipped for camping, and whether it was because she was obviously green or simply a woman, most apparently deemed her not worth the time. It suited Cash just fine; her stomach was rumbling and she was hoping to sit down for a meal—she’d been knocked on her arse enough times already for one day. She’d be back tomorrow, to learn them something about what a Postwick Beauty could do.

She’d almost made it—Wedgehurst was in sight and the route marker was a just feet away—when the voice of a child arrested her in her tracks. ‘Oi! You! Are you a pokémon trainer?’

Child—well, perhaps a teenager with an obnoxiously high voice. Cash turned to see an acned Youngster standing in a battle pose, his pokéball at the ready. ‘I am,’ she replied, her hand instinctively reaching for her own belt. Unlike the more mature trainers she had passed, this one didn’t seem to be looking for a competition; rather, he seemed looking to gloat.

Well, she had a Chewtle who might have something to say to that.

‘My name is Youngster Jake from Wedgehurst,’ the boy shouted, ‘and I hereby challenge you to a one‐on‐one pokémon battle!’

It was the first time that anyone had ever uttered those words to Cash, and their deliverer notwithstanding, they sent a shiver of thrill down her spine. She’d never properly battled anyone before—she knew the rules and such, of course, from the telly and from watching her brother’s matches. Growing up on a Wooloo farm meant having a passing familiarity with giving orders to pokémon, so she wasn’t concerned about that either. But nobody had ever seen a trainer in her—honestly, she still had a little difficulty seeing a trainer in herself—so, even if she was being played for a mark, having this kid accost her so was a considerable ego boost. Plus, with the Pokémon Centre just a short hop away, there wasn’t any harm in it, and given that it would be a one‐on‐one battle, she’d still have Wooloo fit for a pinch in the unlikely case that she lost. Most importantly, this kid looked like he could stand to have someone put him in his place. ‘I’m Beauty Cashmere from Postwick,’ she said, her fingers wrapping around the dive ball, ‘and I accept.’

The two stepped off of the path and into a fallow field for their duel, drawing back and facing each other. On the count of three they released their pokémon. ‘…What is that?’ Cash asked, staring at the pink‐and‐yellow lug which suddenly lay before her. In preparation for her journey, she had spent many hours scrolling through the Galar Pokédex and familiarizing herself with its contents—yet this wasn’t a pokémon she had ever seen before.

‘Slowpoke,’ Youngster Jake replied, with a wretchedly smug smirk on his face. ‘Galarian form.’

‘That is not a Galarian pokémon.’

‘Not mainland; it’s from the Isle of Armour.’ Jake’s tone and body language read Of course you wouldn’t know that, though, countrygirl, and Cash’s glare replied Who are you calling “country”, Youngster Jake from Wedgehurst? He continued: ‘Ordinarily, you’d have to travel all the way there to catch one. Except, this one snuck on the train, and somehow got off at Wedgehurst Station. Then I caught it.’ (The Youngster seemed exceptionally proud of this fact, although the Slowpoke looked true to its name and can’t have been hard to hit with a pokéball.) ‘Ah, but that was many years ago; we’ve been training together ever since. Are you scared? It’s a Psychic‐type, if that helps.’

‘I’m not scared of some kid,’ Cash scoffed. This Youngster wasn’t old enough to have been training for that many years, and the fact that he sized her up and not any of the many more‐experienced trainers on this route said something. ‘Or their pokémon. Chewtle, use Liquidation.’

‘Pokey, you know the drill. Yawn—then Trick Room.’

Chewtle’s move struck home, and hard; although Slowpoke hardly budged from its spot (annoyingly, it simply sat there, yawning), Cash was sure it’d taken a considerable amount of damage. Liquidation had a tendency to wear down defences, too; it may have been early, but Cash was certain a Skull Bash would settle the match. She gave the order, and Chewtle lowered its head—meanwhile, Slowpoke’s expression grew vacant: Four shimmering walls rose up around them.

Chewtle’s advance immediately slowed. Under the influence of Trick Room, even Cash felt her body getting heavier, and for Chewtle the effect seemed to be magnified. Slowpoke, in contrast, seemed sprightly as ever. Despite the oncoming pokémon, it didn’t move from its spot.

If it hadn’t been for the Trick Room, Chewtle’s Skull Bash might’ve landed. As it was, the attack crashed uselessly into the ground, the pokémon fast asleep under the suggestion of Yawn. With that, the Youngster gave his next order: ‘Curse, Pokey! Until it wakes up!’ And Slowpoke responded by… well, it was hard to say what it was doing, exactly, except that it seemed to be getting heartier and more limber with each passing second.

Cashmere, meanwhile, was growing very frustrated. For all his pomp, Youngster Jake had yet to land a single damaging move; by that metric, her own Liquidation ought to have put her ahead. But she was stuck, and she couldn’t do anything, and it felt like the battle was slipping away from her regardless. Battling without damaging your opponent—that wasn’t a tactic which she knew how to properly respond to. ‘C’mon,’ she pleaded, ‘Chewtle, wake up! Give it another Liquidation!’

Something in her shout seemed to get through, as Chewtle did indeed begin to stir, its eyes opening blearily—

‘Now! Zen Headbutt!’

—only for a frighteningly quick Slowpoke to slam its forehead into its face with astonishing ferocity.

And, with that, the battle was over.

Cash recalled her fainted Chewtle into its pokéball as the Youngster celebrated with far too much glee. She gave the customary handshake and ‘Good battle’—yet internally she was roiling. One attack! Her very first pokémon battle, and that was all it had taken to put her Chewtle—her very exceptional, Hulbury Gym Chewtle—in the mud. This Youngster was still in his teens, and a complete brat, and he had her completely routed.

So that was a pokémon battle, huh.

‘Me and Pokey are totally gonna win the Wedgehurst Tournament,’ the Youngster shouted, as she stormed away. ‘We’re gonna challenge the Gym League, just like Hop did!’

‘Yeah, yeah,’ Cash muttered. Then she heard a soft chittering—she looked to her left, and there spotted a Zigzagoon: the same as before, or she was a Wailord’s husband. And it was laughing at her; without a doubt it was.

Something inside Cash broke. If it weren’t for this miscreant, she would still have her supper, she wouldn’t have needed to return to Wedgehurst so early, and she wouldn’t have lost her first‐ever pokémon battle. In just a moment, she was sprinting after it: ‘C’mere, you little bastard!’ she shouted.

The Zigzagoon yelped, turned, and ran off into the grass.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

It’s the tinyraccoon pokémon, Zigzagoon!​

Of all the people wot lived in a place like Postwick or Wedgehurst, they could generally be sorted into only a handful of types. The most prominent, which included Hop & Leon, and Sonia & Magnolia, were those of the upper class; folks whose families had been bestowed large swaths of land by the Crown (back when there was a Crown) and sat prettily on it for all time thence, with big happy estates and never needing a day of work. Then there was the professional class, which included Gloria and Red; educated families wot worked in business or education or government and got booted straight off to university after they’d finished their sixth forms. There was Cash’s lot: poorer farmers with only a scrappy parcel of land, enough to live on and make some wool. And then there were the great many families of hired labour, those with no land what·so·ever to call their own.

These groups all got along, more·or·less, these days—notwithstanding folks like Cash’s Pa, who’d rather spit on the people working the wealthy estates than the rich arseholes wot kept them barely above poverty. But such wasn’t always the case. Prior to the establishment of the Pokémon League, pokémon training was largely regarded to be an elite sport, and since no rich fogey wanted to lose a battle to their gardener, there was a great attempt by the nobility to keep the lower classes out of those places where the best catches could be found. That meant much of the Wild Area was once considered off‐limits to commoners, officially—but, well. Around the same time the League was being established, the Young Communists up in Motostoke went and marched on it, and after a few decades of political squabbling, it was agreed that common people had a right to roam. The moorlands east of Wedgehurst were hardly on par with the Wild Area, but this history meant Cash had no qualms what·so·ever doggedly pursuing Zigzagoon through the shrubbery there.

‘It’s got to tire out eventually,’ she muttered to herself—although the tinyracoon showed no signs of doing so; its short stature seemed to be managing the uphill journey with ease. In fact, Cash got the sense it was playing with her; whenever she slowed to catch her breath it would turn around, sit, and cock its head, as if uncertain if she would keep following. She’d have half a mind to toss out Wooloo and attempt a battle—but before she would get the chance, it would dart off again.

It was some relief, then, when their path brought them to a sparse forest, because Zigzagoon seemed much less eager among the trees. The wooded areas of Galar were rife with Bug and Fairy types; it wasn’t far in before Zigzagoon supposed its odds were probably better against its pursuing trainer. It spun around and prepared another charge.

‘About ruddy time,’ Cash said, withdrawing a pokéball. ‘Wooloo, go!’ Wooloo materialized with a Growl, which, although it tried to be menacing, was decidedly still very cute. The Zigzagoon hesitated only a moment before approaching with a Tackle, and Cash gave a somewhat relieved sigh—she had been worried it might flee.

Considering her battle history thus far, going head‐to‐head in a Tackle match with Zigzagoon seemed like a mistake. Cash wasn’t exactly looking for a victory, anyway. No, she wanted to catch the blasted thing; after putting in so much work in tracking it down, it only seemed right, and she’d yet to properly catch a pokémon on her journey so far. Plus, she couldn’t stop thinking about her previous battle with Youngster Jake: how he’d already practically won without ever dealing a point of damage. It gave her an idea. ‘Defence Curl, Wooloo, come on!’

Wooloo, for its part, was very good at Defence Curl. It retracted its head and stubby little legs into its wool, and Zigzagoon’s Tackle bounced right off without harming it one iota.

At that, Zigzagoon Leered, which made Wooloo peek its head out meekly. ‘Growl back!’ Cash ordered; it did (still cutely), pulling its head back in when Zigzagoon charged for another attack.

They carried on like this for some time, and Zigzagoon was no Eternatus. Its energy levels, while high, were not limitless. The sun sank lower around them, and a day of running around, causing mischief, and being chased by a cute female trainer through the Southern Galar countryside began to catch up with it. Eventually, its attacks started looking less like Tackles and more like… hugs, and Wooloo was poking its head out of its wool with a worried expression, bleating to ask if it was alright. Zigzagoon stubbornly attempted a headbutt and fell flat on its face. Cash decided that was probably enough.

She pulled a pokéball out of her bag and tossed it idly at the Zigzagoon, who was too exhausted by this point to dodge. The sphere fell to the ground, and the light glowed once, twice, three times. There was a gentle chime—the pokémon had been caught.

‘Good work, Wooloo,’ Cash said, patting it on the forehead. Having spent the entire time rolled into a ball, Wooloo was still full of energy, and it bleated proudly. Cash opened her pokédex and checked the figures on her latest catch :—
#031 Galarian Zigzagoon [Dark/Normal] ♂️


  • [Normal] Tackle (Physical: 40 / 100%)
  • [Normal] Leer (Status: ⸺ / 100%)
  • [Ground] Sand Attack (Status: ⸺ / 100%)
  • [Ghost] Lick (Physical: 30 / 100%)

Naughty nature. Strongly defiant.

—: and with that, she placed the pokéball on her belt and started back out of the wood. Somewhere in the bushes, a trap pokémon snapped its fins, and Wooloo started, tripped, and tumbled a short way through the shrubbery. Cash sighed, and shook her head fondly. ‘I’ll trim up your wool tonight; I promise,’ she said, recalling it into its pokéball. ‘Take a rest, for now.’

A raven cawed overhead, and Cash left the trees behind.

Chimecho’s Jukebox​

“The Manchester Rambler”. Ewan MacColl. From Black and White (1996); originally written 1932.​

Cash had only travelled a few yards through the heather before she released Zigzagoon from its pokéball, allowing it to dart back and forth around her, apparently having gotten some of its energy back. She looked out over the sprawling moors and farmland which defined the Wedgehurst outskirts, and her stomach rumbled.

‘Alright,’ she said; ‘I’m starved. So… what’s the way back from here?’

The Zigzagoon laughed at her again.

Jake is an actual Youngster in Sword & Shield—of course, significantly younger than he appears here. I thought it would be an interesting concept if he were the one to catch the Slowpoke which arrives at Wedgehurst Station, instead of Gloria: I’m always looking for opportunities to showcase pokémon from outside the Southern Galar area, since they won’t typically be encountered in the wild.

Stats and moves aren’t everything: Just because you have a Hulbury Gym Chewtle doesn’t mean you’ll win every match. I hope that this episode helped to give a sense of what battle strategies might look like in the series to come.


famously normal about the moon fellows
  1. darkrai
So far, I'm enjoying this! The conceit behind Cash's journey is one I've not really seen tried before, but it's interesting enough that I want to see how things play out there, for both her and Red (and I notice that this is a slow burn, too! 👀). I think so far you've executed that pretty well, with special mention to the details like the one you highlight in your notes for episode two. I think that speaks to a real empathy to your characters (something that's helped along by the dry humour that seeps through in their dialogue; they're characters with enough going on there that I can buy int them), and it clearly comes from a deep understanding of what you want to do with them; I think it toes the line pretty well between Galar's charm, what with it being the setting of a main-series pokémon game where things generally tend to be Fine(tm), and the bureaucratic nightmare of the real-life places that they take inspiration from. Oddly, I think your approach to moves, abilities, and the like with your pokédex entries kind of helps that? It's far more adherent to the games than I usually see with journey fics, and I think one reason why I don't see it often is that rigidity kind of undermines the magic of it all, but... here it works, I think! Not to say that there's no magic here, of course; I think you get that across pretty well in how Cash interacts with her pokémon, and like I say, the empathy you write your characters with helps elevate this beyond the "going-through-the-motions" feel that I think tends to be the biggest problem with the early stages of this kind of story. But I dunno, the rigidity of it all manages to make it feel very grounded in a way that feels very English. In other words: as someone who's spent all but two of my 21 years there, this is a painfully accurate depiction of a Pokémon game set there, to such a degree that it shows in the fundamental systems that make this... y'know, Pokémon. It's almost off-putting, and I mean that as a compliment!

The prose is one of the few things I had issues with here, as well as a few occasions where the exposition became a bit much. I'll start with the latter; the example that comes to mind here is the amount we're told about Pa Lane at the start of chapter two. I thought having some information about him in there did add more character to Cash, and makes the satire of upper-middle-class conservative Englishness feel more personal. But also, after the story segues from talking about the logistics of the identity scheme here to Pa Lane's already strongly implied opinions on battling, socialism, and environmentalism I couldn't help but feel like it was a bit gratuitous. I think the prose, what with all the colons and em-dashes you're using, sometimes has this conversational quality that helps get that exposition along, and when stuff's actually happening (i.e. the zigzagoon battle in episode three) it's not as intrusive, but there are a few occasions where it feels a bit choppy. Moreover I think that the use of "wot" here has a good idea behind it, the line that justifies it (mentioning the Champions speaking Southern Galarian dialect) is actually pretty damn good, and I commend you for having a go at it, but sometimes (for example, when it's used three times in about five sentences in the two paragraphs about Postwick/Wedgehurst folks after the Who's That Pokémon bit, also in episode three) it feels a bit overbearing. Once again I think the dialect's a nice touch, but the implementation of it could do with some more polishing.

Anyway, beyond that, I wanna re-iterate that I am enjoying this so far! I don't want the review to end with a paragraph about the stuff I thought could've been better, so I'll reiterate once again that you've done a good job of crafting charming characters, and the premise you're you're working with here is compelling. I also think your take on the canon, from what we've seen of it so far, is pretty strong too! In particular, the scene with Nessa and Sonia popping up was pretty great. Cheers for writing this! I'm excited to see where things are headed. :>


Inland Northwest, United States
But I dunno, the rigidity of it all manages to make it feel very grounded in a way that feels very English. In other words: as someone who's spent all but two of my 21 years there, this is a painfully accurate depiction of a Pokémon game set there, to such a degree that it shows in the fundamental systems that make this... y'know, Pokémon. It's almost off-putting, and I mean that as a compliment!

thank you; i appreciate it haha.

But also, after the story segues from talking about the logistics of the identity scheme here to Pa Lane's already strongly implied opinions on battling, socialism, and environmentalism I couldn't help but feel like it was a bit gratuitous.

this is a holdover from a couple of restructurings that these first few chapters went through; originally this was going to be the first time that Pa was really introduced, but then i ended up talking about him a bit in the first chapter, so i wound up repeating myself. i kept it because i felt it was important to the structure of the chapter (and, considering the long intervals between episodes, i like recapping a bit at the beginning of each one), but if i was going to rewrite this from scratch i would probably handle it better.

Moreover I think that the use of "wot" here has a good idea behind it, the line that justifies it (mentioning the Champions speaking Southern Galarian dialect) is actually pretty damn good, and I commend you for having a go at it, but sometimes (for example, when it's used three times in about five sentences in the two paragraphs about Postwick/Wedgehurst folks after the Who's That Pokémon bit, also in episode three) it feels a bit overbearing.

i play my “wot”s by ear (what sound goods to me out loud), which is maybe a little problematic because i think they are more obtrusive in print than in speech. the situation would probably also be helped if i just spelled it “what”, but i stubbornly like disambiguating wot‐meaning‐which and what‐meaning‐what‐thing. in any case, with things like this, my main goal is just consistency, so hopefully it will grow more regular and less surprising over time.

anyway, thank you very much for reading, and the review! i hope to not disappoint with future chapters 😤
Episode 04 – First Taste of Success!


Inland Northwest, United States
Episode 04

First Taste of Success!​

Today’s episode is dedicated to: Lady Cindy of Hoenn Route 104.


Red was beginning to regret agreeing to this.

So she thought, as she observed the spread which her mother had assembled across the room. Tent, clothes, cookware, canned food —: all of which was somehow to fit into the enormous bag she had brought out of storage. ‘Mum,’ Red said. ‘I know I told you that I was interested in competing, but… don’t you think this is all a bit overkill? I’m not doing the Gym Challenge, here.’

‘You’re not doing the Gym Challenge yet,’ Bonnie amended, setting to work on packing the bag. ‘But who’s to say you won’t win and get that endorsement? Best you start strengthening those back muscles now.’

Red groaned. With a pack like that on her back, she would appear the spitting image of a pokémon trainer—and that was the last thing she wanted others to think. Looking the part meant receiving challenges from other trainers, having battles… it was jolly enough listening to Cash as she recounted her training woes over the phone, but that was because she was listening from the comfort of her own home. She’d no interest in going out and joining—but try telling that to Mum Dunn.

Their conversation was interrupted, regardless—by a knock on the door. ‘Red, get that, would you, love?’ Bonnie requested, her hands occupied trying to shove a currypot into the sack. Red sighed and made her way to the entrance—despite the fact that the person knocking on their door would doubtless be looking for her mother, anyway.

They weren’t, as it happened. The man standing on their doorstep was none other than Shepherd Lane. ‘Ah, hullo, Red,’ he said, a tad awkwardly. ‘I was hoping I’d find you here. I gather you’re entering my tournament!’

‘…Who told you that?’ Red asked, as Bonnie called in from the other room: ‘Yes, she is, isn’t it excellent!’

‘Well, my sister was really the only other option, and the dubiousness of that prospect aside, she’s on vacation in Hulbury right now, according to Pa. Plus, I doubt she would have used such a… circuitous registration method. A national form! Putting those university brains to good use, eh? I understand, of course; you’ve no judgment from me.’ Red stepped aside to let him into the hall, and he peered into the living room, where Bonnie was busy packing. ‘I see you’re well on your way getting set for your journey. I just thought I’d stop by and see how things were; I’m trying to get to know all the local trainers, you know…’

‘…For when you start your Gym,’ Red concluded.

‘Yes, well, hoping I get the opportunity.’

‘Well, speaking of your sister, she’s the one you can blame for it; she encouraged me,’ Red told him. ‘Admittedly, all I have at the moment is a Blipbug…’

‘Oh?’ Shepherd frowned. ‘Blipbug’s not a bad pokémon, but it’s not what I’d have picked for a starter. It has a limited moveset, and it’s weak to the Rookidee you find around these parts.’

Red may not have been interested in winning any tournaments, but she still felt the need to defend her companion. ‘Hey, now, it’s no ordinary Blipbug,’ she remarked. ‘You might be surprised.’

Shepherd laughed. ‘Spoken like a true trainer,’ he said. ‘But, as a word of advice? Bug pokémon grow quickly, but they generally can’t do much until they have reached their final stage of evolution. Catch another pokémon to offer it support until it gets there. I’ll be looking forward to seeing it in action, come the tournament—then we’ll see just how extraordinary it truly is.’

Red made a valiant effort to disguise her exasperation. She’d only just caught her first pokémon, and already she was being told to go catch another! She was beginning to she how training tended to become such a… lifestyle. ‘I’ll bear that in mind,’ she replied.

‘And, with that, I best be off. You’re not the only trainer who registered yesterday. And,’ Shepherd laughed again, ‘I think I might have to talk Hop out of trying to compete! That one’s always looking for an excuse to battle. Maybe I’ll make him a judge, or something… Anyway, best of luck, Red.’ Shepherd nodded, and he walked right back out their door.

Red closed it behind him, staring at the wood panelling instead of turning back towards the room. Somehow, with that short conversation, the fact had sunk in: People actually expected her to go through with this. They thought she was an actual pokémon trainer, entering the Wedgehurst Tournament intent on victory. Of course, she wasn’t; nor was she any stranger to people assigning her a faulty role. But the lie, which had seemed so simple in theory, felt like it was slipping away from her now. It was still two months before the tournament would begin. Could she keep pretending for all that time?

‘Alright, honey,’ Bonnie said from the other room. ‘You’re all packed up and ready to go.’

‘…Thanks, Mum,’ Red replied. Perhaps she could take a leaf out of Cash’s book, and spend an actual vacation in Hulbury. Wait the whole thing out on the beach. There were worse ways to spend the vernal season.

Considering the quantity of troubling phone·calls she’d received over the past day, it mightn’t hurt to go check up on her partner‐in‐deceit, either.

With that, Red made up her mind. ‘Not that I need all of this to head down the lane,’ she said, regrettably setting the pack on her shoulders. It was about as heavy as it looked—so, quite. ‘But I thought I might pop down to Route 2, just to get a feel for it?’ She thanked the stars that the trip would be downhill the entire way.

‘I think that’s a lovely idea,’ Mum replied. ‘Call if you need anything, alright? Do you want to take Yamper?’

‘There won’t even be any wild pokémon until you hit Wedgehurst, Mum,’ Red replied, rolling her eyes. ‘Not on the main thoroughfare, anyway. I think I’ll be fine.’ After Shepherd’s warning, she did feel some measure of concern regarding tinybirds flying overhead, but she did have some pride. She bent down and gave Yamper a quick scratch, instead. ‘You behave now, bud,’ she said.

Yamper barked playfully.

Then she straightened. ‘Standing around with this bag is starting to hurt my back,’ Red said; ‘I best be off.’

‘Safe travels,’ Mum replied, and then she was.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

Once, this pokémon was common across Galar, nourished by air pollution from the many coal‐powered factories in the region. After cleaner forms of energy were discovered, its numbers dwindled. Now it is only encountered in sparsely‐populated areas of the Midlands and Southern Galar, where it feeds off smoke from the occasional wildfire in the moors.​

Red had been correct in thinking that Route 1 would not cause her any trouble, and walking through Wedgehurst, she actually began to appreciate the fresh air and liberating feeling of carrying one’s home on one’s back. She let Blipbug out of its pokéball, and it enjoyed the view from her shoulder—or, variously, head—as she ordered some berries for the road and an afternoon snack at the café.

Nevertheless, she did hope to find Cash before evenfall, so she set out upon Route 2 promptly thereafter. It was there that she met her first challenge—nay, challenger. Not a pokémon (thankfully, there were no Rookidee in sight), but a trainer. One persistently annoying trainer, who had announced himself as Youngster Jake (from Wedgehurst—where else?). ‘Look, mister, you clearly locked eyes with me,’ he asserted, stomping his feet forcefully. ‘So that means we’ve gotta battle. Them’s the rules.’

The boy was clearly in his teens: a bit old to be throwing such a fit, Red thought; obviously, it was some ruse. Battles at first sight were an old cinema trope that only the greenest of trainers would consider factual; clearly, Jake thought he could steal an easy win from somebody who didn’t know any better. Well, Red knew better than to take the bait. Jake would win; she hadn’t trained with Blipbug practically at all. ‘Kid. I’m not— I’m not a pokémon trainer,’ Red asserted, for what seemed like the dozenth time. ‘My Blipbug is a travelling companion. We’re not competitive.’

‘That’s a load of bosh; I can see the trainer’s bag slung right over your shoulders! Do you mean to say you need all that just for walking down the lane?’ The Youngster made a face. ‘Now quit stalling, and let’s have a battle!’

‘Oi, that’s my bag!’ came a voice from down the way. It was none other than Cashmere Lane herself, striding towards them, pokéball in hand; both Youngster and Red turned to see. ‘That’s my bag she’s carrying. So lay off. She’s my, er, valet.’

You?!’ the Youngster exclaimed, as Red mentally tried to process the fact that Cash had just laid claim to all of her things. ‘I’ve already beaten you.’

‘You lost to this brat?’ Red asked immediately. Cashmere gave her an unamused glare, stopping her advance only an arm’s length away.

‘Hush you,’ she said. ‘D’ya want my help or no?’ Then she turned, and, in a louder voice, addressed the Youngster. ‘As fate would have it,’ she said, ‘I’ve come for a rematch. What say you we settle this with a battle? If I win, you’re to leave my assistant alone.’

The Youngster frowned, weighing the probability that Cash had somehow devised a superior strategy to his Trick Room / Curse combo in the twentyfour hours since their last battle. ‘Alright,’ he eventually said, long and drawn‐out. ‘But if I win, I want to battle that Blipbug.’

And somehow, just like that, Red found herself bearing witness to a trainer battle, and over herself nonetheless. Youngster Jake’s pokémon was one Red had never seen before; she pulled up the pokédex app on her Rotom Phone, and it identified it as Slowpoke: the Galarian variant, specifically. Cash’s choice was more immediately recognizable: Although Red had expected Wooloo to materialize from the plain pokéball, it was instead a Zigzagoon which darted out in front of her.

The sight made her wince. Granted, Zigzagoon made an excellent matchup for this battle: Dark was strong against Psychic, after all. But Zigzagoon was twice weak against Fighting, meaning that Cash’s team retained its glaring hole.

She couldn’t think too much about it, because the battle was underway. ‘Pokey!’ the Youngster shouted. ‘Yawn! Watch out!’

Lick, Zigzagoon!’

Well, the Slowpoke tried to Yawn—slowly. It opened its mouth—slowly. But Cash’s Zigzagoon was anything but slow, and it placed a large Lick right beneath Slowpoke’s chin.

The dopey pokémon was paralyzed in shock. From its perch atop Red’s head, Blipbug looked on in horror. ‘Get away, Pokey! Use Facade!’

Jake’s command ran headlong into the reality that, for a Slowpoke pitted up against a Galarian Zigzagoon, there was no “getting away”. ‘Sand Attack!’ Cash yelled. ‘When you have an opening, go for another Lick!’ Slowpoke attempted its Facade; Zigzagoon kicked dust up in its face and the attack went wide. The dopey pokémon was left open to another Lick, this time behind the ear.

‘You may have the advantage now,’ Red muttered to the larva perched on her head, ‘but once you evolve, that pokémon’s going to be a lot of trouble for you.’ Its gaze remained fixed on the tinyraccoon.

Jake didn’t have time to risk another status move with Zigzagoon making such quick work of his pokémon. He ordered another Facade, and this one landed; it packed a punch, leaving the tinyracoon to pick itself up with a wince. Considering that Zigzagoon wasn’t a particularly powerful pokémon, and its attacks weren’t of the strongly damaging sort, looking purely at damage given, Facade had the potential to easily close the gap and then some. ‘Keep kicking up dust!’ Cash ordered. ‘Lick when you get the chance!’

But Slowpoke was paralysed; it couldn’t see straight; and Zigzagoon was a much faster pokémon. In the end, it was almost sad to watch. Jake kept ordering Facades—at one point, he even tried to turn the tables with a Trick Room—but to no avail; his pokémon simply couldn’t hit anything. Eventually the dust settled, a fainted Slowpoke recalled.

‘Hah!’ Cash shouted, pumping her fist. She ran to her tinyraccoon, and it nearly Tackled her as it leapt up into her arms. ‘We did it, Zigzagoon!’

It licked her face, too, al·be·it in a more friendly manner.

Red’s tone was somewhat impressed as she approached: ‘That was a good battle.’ Youngster Jake had already stormed off somewhere (likely the Pokémon Centre), leaving the two alone. ‘It seems you’ve made quick work of catching more pokémon.’

‘Yeah, well, this little rascal was asking for it,’ Cash replied. She tried her best to play cool the fact that this was her first ever victory against another pokémon trainer; she didn’t exactly want Red to know. ‘Surprised to see you out here! And with that bag, no less: You can’t really fault him; you really do look like a Backpacker.’

‘I think a Hiker was more the impression…’

‘Answer the question, Red.’

‘Shepherd came by today,’ she said simply. ‘Whatever paperwork magic you pulled must’ve worked, because he definitely thinks I’m entering his competition. And my mum was hovering, and I just… needed to get out of Postwick for a bit, you know? Thought I’d check on you.’

‘Oh, I know all about needing to get out of Postwick,’ Cash replied. She scratched behind Zigzagoon’s ears, and it flailed in her arms until she set it down. It immediately began running circles around the two of them. ‘So, what did you think? Pretty impressive for my first‐ever win, right? Er, today, I mean. First win today.’

‘Cash…’ Red’s eyes followed Zigzagoon around; despite having just come through a difficult battle, it certainly seemed full of energy. Blipbug was focusing on Cashmere, instead. ‘Do you really think you have a shot at winning this tournament?’

It was a perfectly valid question, of course. But it wasn’t one Cash felt she could afford thinking about right now. ‘…Stop it,’ she said softly, turning away. ‘I don’t need you doubting me, too.’

‘I mean, we’re in this together,’ Red replied. ‘I just… nevermind. Where’ve you set up camp? I’d rather not pitch my tent in the dark, so.’

‘Oh. I’ve, er… rather been heading back to the Centre every night. It’s just down the way, you know; awful convenient…’ The truth was that she hadn’t a tent or supplies. It embarrassed Cash; camping was considered an essential component of the pokémon trainer’s journey in Galar, but it was what it was.

Well, Red was having none of it. ‘If I was made to carry all this shite all the way out here,’ she asserted, ‘we’re having a bloody camp. I don’t suppose you know a spot?’

‘Oh, all right,’ Cash conceded easily. ‘I know a place. But Red…’


‘…Please tell me you know how to cook.’

Who’s That Pokémon?​

It’s the poisongas pokémon, Koffing!​

The first step was building the fire, which Cash started on right away, while Red pitched the tent. Firewood was freely available along most Routes in Galar, and while it wasn’t particularly cold (for Postwick), they built it up good and hot before letting it burn down to a bed of coals. Cash was set to chopping the berries :— oran and cheri; nothing fancy —: while Red scraped some flour and oil together in the pot to make a roux. ‘Alright,’ she said; ‘alright, this is getting dark. I need the berries, now.’

‘Hope I didn’t go overboard with the spice,’ Cash replied, and she dumped them in.

The evening cooled to a pleasant temperature for campfire cooking. All four pokémon were out of their pokéballs, now :— Blipbug was perched somewhere on Red’s body, as usual; Chewtle dozed near the tent; Wooloo grazed absentmindedly on a patch of grass. Zigzagoon kept trying to sneak table scraps, which Cash obliged (because what else were they going to do with them?). Red tossed a log to the fire. ‘Cube me a pechaberry and I think I’ve got this covered,’ she said.

‘Right.’ There was an easy domestic compatibility to their actions which both unnerved and excited Cash; it didn’t seem quite real that they were actually doing this. This being: camping together, making curry over the fire, giving each other simple directions and following through without a second’s hesitation. This was the way real pokémon trainers did things—not trekking back to a bloody Pokémon Centre every night.

She passed the bowl of pecha and Red stirred it into the mix, the juices simmering and mixing together. She added water. ‘This’ll need some time to cook down before it’s edible,’ Red said, giving it a slow stir. ‘Just gotta keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.’

Cash came and sat down beside her, Zigzagoon greedily licking the berry juices off of her hands. ‘Perf,’ she said. ‘Can’t wait. …Is it too soon to talk sleeping plans?’

‘Hm?’ Red asked. ‘What about them?’

‘Er, I mean, I haven’t a sack. I don’t want to hike back to the Pokémon Centre and leave you out here all alone, but… it gets pretty cold here at night.’ She nodded to Red’s bag. ‘I don’t suppose you have a spare blanket in there, or something…?’

‘Oh. Here.’ Red handed Cash the spoon and then rose and walked to her sack. ‘Well, I do have a quilt, but I imagine it’s going to be awful uncomfortable just sleeping in that against the hard ground. But I suppose we could open my sleeping bag all the way up and use that as a sort of mattress, and have the quilt as a top blanket? If that doesn’t make you uncomfortable. At least then, we’ll be enduring the conditions together.’

‘Like a sleepover!’ Red gave Cash a funny look, and she felt herself blushing. ‘Er, sorry, that’s embarrassing, it’s just… I think the last time I actually shared a bed with somebody was when I was six; Leon had a birthday party and his family hosted a bunch of folks in that giant fuckall mansion of theirs, including us because we’re neighbours (sort of) and Shep is about Lee’s age… Anyway Sonia and I were the only girls so we kind of got stuck together in this tiny bed, and she’s three years older than me so it was a little awkward but also not as awkward as sleeping alone for the entire rest of my life? Erm. What I’d mean is, it sounds like fun; I’d love to.’

That issue settled, it wasn’t too much longer before the food was made ready—or, at least, Cash got tired of waiting for it. In true Galarian fashion, it was divided up between people and pokémon, and all tucked in with gusto. Neither Red nor Cash wanted to admit it, but it so happened that trekking around, training pokémon, and setting up a campsite left one feeling quite famished by the end of the day, and they each had room for seconds. ‘Red,’ Cash said, as she helped herself. ‘Where did you learn how to make this? For something you threw together over a campfire, this curry is really good.’

‘It’s good because it was thrown together over a campfire,’ Red asserted. ‘Everything tastes better when it’s prepared outside.’

‘You don’t have to get all pretentious about it; ass,’ Cash laughed. ‘Just take the complement.’

The evening chill began to set in, and Red built the fire back up again. Zigzagoon decided to burn off its extra calories by practicing its Tackles against Wooloo’s wool, and the latter didn’t seem to mind (or notice) as it grazed. Chewtle gnawed on a stick, perhaps trying to figure out Bite. Blipbug stared off into the distance, where something was floating gently on the wind, and getting closer.

Red noticed, too. ‘Oi! What’s that?!’ she asked, trying to discern it through the smoke and twilight.

Cash leaned away from the fire and squinted. ‘Er, Koffing, maybe? Must be attracted to the smoke.’

‘I’ve never seen one in‐person before,’ Red remarked, reaching back to her bag. Poisongas pokémon usually didn’t come near civilization these days, and that suited civilization just fine. But a Poison type—Poison/Fairy once it evolved—would neatly fill in the gaps in either of their teams; ‘do you suppose I could catch it?’ Red asked.

‘I don’t see why not. I don’t think they’re particularly choosy about trainers.’ The Koffing was completely nonaggressive; it paid Red and Cash’s pokémon no mind and instead floated over to their currypot curiously. ‘Seems like it’s interested in your cooking. Not sure if that’s a compliment?’

Red withdrew a pokéball and tossed it lightly; it made easy contact, and Koffing was pulled inside. The chime sounded almost instantly. Red brought up her pokédex, and gave the ball a quick scan :—
#250 Koffing [Poison] ♀️


  • [Poison] Poison Gas (Status: ⸺ / 90%)
  • [Normal] Tackle (Physical: 40 / 100%)
  • [Poison] Smog (Special: 30 / 70%)
  • [Normal] Smokescreen (Status: ⸺ / 100%)

Bold nature. Loves to eat.

‘« Loves to eat », apparently,’ she said. ‘Well, I suppose we have a little left over.’ And she released it back out of its pokéball and fixed it up a bowl.

Cash watched this play out with a small smile on her face. ‘…I thought you weren’t interested in pokémon training?’ she asked, amused.

‘What? I’m not.’ Red looked down at the pokéball in her hand. ‘Oh, this? Well, you see, I was just thinking, after it evolves it’ll be strong against your Zigzagoon…’

Cash raised her eyebrows.

‘Look,’ Red said. ‘I know you’re committed to doing this tournament, and I have full confidence that you’re going to give it your all. It just… seems like you could use some help, is all. I figured that since I’m here anyway, I might as well help you train.’

‘That’s sweet,’ Cash said. ‘I appreciate the thought. Although… honestly? I’m not sure I’ll be sticking around here for much longer.’

Red frowned. ‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, the way I’d originally imagined it, right, it was like in those old Kantonian films, where the trainer goes out and climbs a mountain and grows stronger in the wilderness with their pokémon… only instead of a mountain it was Galar Route 2 and instead of the wilderness it was the garden in front of Magnolia’s house. You know? I figured the important thing was just to stay in one place and train your heart out.’ Cash sighed. ‘But what I’m quickly realizing is that I could spend my entire life here, and there are pokémon and strategies that I might just never encounter. Like, that Youngster’s Slowpoke was from the Isle of Armour. Can you imagine?’

‘Granted, this is the Wedgehurst Tournament you’re training for,’ Red remarked. ‘It’s the pokémon and strategies from around here that you’ll most likely be up against. I’m not sure that familiarizing yourself with Wyndon battle styles will be of much use.’

‘Right, nothing so farfetched, but… I was thinking it’d be nice to do the Motostoke Loop. Southern Galar is in my blood, but if I can pick up some good techniques or pokémon from the Midlands, it just might give me an edge. Plus, Nessa already said she was interested in seeing how I raise my Chewtle, and that’s not a date invitation one turns down…’

‘Mm,’ Red concurred. It seemed like a reasonable enough plan. ‘So, er, how are you going to do that without a tent?’

‘Yeah. There’s the rub.’

Red sighed. Koffing and Blipbug were having a staring contest: The former was making faces; the latter impassively maintained its usual curious expression. ‘Larvae don’t have eyelids, Koffing, lay off it,’ Red said, and Koffing responded by making faces at her, instead. She did her best to ignore it. ‘Well, the whole bloody town already thinks I’m competing in this thing,’ she remarked; ‘I might as well just do the Motostoke Loop, too.’

Cash nearly choked. ‘You aren’t seriously offering to backpack around the entire Southern Midlands, with me, are you?’

‘What can I say?’ Red asked. ‘I want you to win.’

Chimecho’s Jukebox​

“Together Is A Beautiful Place To Be”. Nubya Garcia. From SOURCE (2020).​

The fire was extinguished, the pokémon returned to their pokéballs, and finally Cash and Red lay down for bed. Sharing a quilt atop Red’s open sleeping bag was, in a word, cosy.

‘I’m not a Toxel, Red, heavens; it’s not the end of the world if you touch me,’ Cash said. To prove her point, she pressed her arm up against her sleeping partner, who was doggedly trying to avoid any and all awkward contact between them.

Red turned to face her in the dark, and well. Maybe there was a slight tingling sensation produced by her skin.

Originally, Red was going to seek out and catch a Purrloin here—I’m a Dark‐type trainer, myself, so I have to constantly resist the urge to just give everyone Dark‐type pokémon. Realistically speaking, if one is looking to counter a Zigzagoon, Purrloin is not a great choice.

I was running about the Slumbering Weald hunting for Munna with different natures (long story, but it involves their ability, Synchronize) and wondering why there were so many Weezing in the middle of a forest, far from any source of pollution. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and we just wrapped up our smoke season, so naturally wildfires jumped to the forefront of my mind. I’d basically already planned out this entire scene with Koffing before I realized that wild pokémon showing up at your camp when you make curry is literally something which happens in the game.
Episode 05 – Cloystered Away in a Pokémon Den!


Inland Northwest, United States
Episode 05

Cloystered Away in a Pokémon Den!​

Despite her initial excitement at the thought of not sleeping alone, Cash didn’t rest well that night. Neither of them did: An open sleeping bag was hardly a proper mattress, and the two were far from used to the multitudinous subtle motions that each would make over the course of the night. The night’s chill had fully set in by three hours past midnight, and they both were exhausted and froze enough to silently agree to defer inhibitions on snuggling till morning. When Cash woke, it was to the sound of tinybirds outside their tent, and to the feeling of her forehead pressed up against the back of Red’s neck. She was practically spooning her friend.

She couldn’t quite be bothered to give a shite about that yet.

Red was less willing to remain in a state of repose. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, breaking from Cash’s idle grasp as she hunted for her glasses. She tossed the blanket aside, leading Cash to hiss and latch onto her for warmth. ‘Yikes, Red,’ Cash exclaimed, ‘it’s bloody freezing out! Give a girl a little warning, next time!’

‘The fire won’t start itself,’ Red replied simply, extricating herself. She turned and saw, in the soft light that filtered into their tent, Cash lying there, shivering in a T‐shirt and pyjamas, and she rolled her eyes. She dropped the quilt back atop her.

‘It’s no good now that you’ve let the heat out,’ Cash complained.

‘Well, then. Suppose you’ll have to get up and help with breakfast.’

After curry the previous night, breakfast was a simple affair. Crown oat porridge, cooked over the fire, and garnished with dried oran. ‘So,’ Red began, tucking in. They’d let their pokémon out, to stretch their legs and have some brekkies of their own in the morning sun. ‘To Motostoke, then?’

‘Er…’ Cash stirred her bowl slowly, wishing she had a sausage to go with it. ‘I actually was thinking about it a lot, last night—you know, after you elbowed me in the gut—’

‘Sorry!’ Red exclaimed. ‘Your gut was behind my elbow!’

Cash laughed. ‘I’m only teasing, sweetling,’ she said. ‘But I was thinking: We might want to invest in some additional equipment before we head out. You know? I feel like I ought to at least get a proper trainer’s bag, for one, so that I can help carry some of the things… and I think a proper sleeping mat wouldn’t hurt, either.’

‘That just brings us back around to last night’s question, though,’ Red replied. Zigzagoon was pestering Wooloo again; evidently, sometime in the past evening it had figured out Snarl. Interestingly enough, Wooloo Snarled right back. ‘…Was that Copycat?’ Red asked.

‘Hm? You know, I think some of this training might be having an effect.’ Cash clanged her spoon against her bowl, attracting the attention of her two Normal types. ‘Hey, you two! Cut it out! I’ll need you both to be fresh for later in the day!’ The noise was a reminder to Zigzagoon that its trainer had food; for that reason more than any, it gave up harassing Wooloo and started begging pitifully instead. ‘I don’t give treats to naughty pokémon,’ Cash asserted, pointedly sticking a spoonful of porridge in her own mouth. Zigzagoon whimpered and pawed at her leg. She turned back to Red. ‘Sorry, what question?’

‘…How are we going to pay for that?’ Red asked.

‘Ah. Well, I thought of that too,’ Cash responded. ‘We could always try battling for money. I think that’s a bit risky though, and it’s not like we have any big gamblers in Wedgehurst.’ She wrinkled her nose. ‘No, for a pair of trainers like us, I’d say the Wild Area is probably our best bet.’

‘Den‐diving? Seriously?’ Red frowned. ‘Isn’t that, like, dangerous?’

‘We’ve five pokémon between us, and I hear you can make a healthy sum if you get lucky? Might even be able to work in a spot of training as well.’ Cash scraped out the last of her bowl, then set it down for Zigzagoon to lick clean. ‘I wouldn’t want to try it alone, but if you’re with me?’

Red sighed, a tad annoyed by the prospect. It seemed Cash had a way of talking her into things well outside of her comfort zone. ‘Inactive dens only,’ she finally conceded. ‘Five pokémon or no, I’m not participating in a raid battle.’

‘Without a dynamax band? I’m not bonkers.’

‘Well,’ Red said, rising from her seat. She recalled Koffing and began to disassemble their tent. ‘I suppose we can take the train.’

Who’s That Pokémon?​

This pokémon is too slow to chase its prey, so it lies in wait at the bottom of a sandy pit. This strategy is less effective when it rains.​

The ride from Wedgehurst to Wild Area Station was only 20 minutes, and Red spent it in a forward‐facing bench seat, pressed up against the window. Pressed to her other side was Cash.

‘You’re being awfully… close, this morning,’ Red said.

‘Sorry, do you need space?’ Cash made no move to offer it; she peered out the window at the passing scenery. ‘This is what you get for taking the window seat.’ Their arms brushed, and Red noticed that Cash’s was still a little cold.

It wasn’t that she needed space: no, not exactly. But Cash’s scent was starting to get infectious. That was the word, she thought: not distracting (although there was that); it wasn’t as if she had horrible B·O. But infectious, in a way which occupied the fore of her mind, making it impossible for Red to forget that she was there, and tempting her, perhaps, to place a hand on Cash’s thigh, or to rest her cheek against her head —: moves which were surely not allowed.

She just wasn’t accustomed to being around another person like this, Red assured herself; she would be acclimatized to it before long.

For her part, Cash really had no such reservations; she squeezed Red’s leg tensely as their car passed through yet another tunnel. ‘Are you… not a fan of caves?’ Red asked. That would be awkward, considering they were travelling to the Wild Area for caving.

‘It’s just a reflex; shut your yamp,’ Cash barked in response. A few seconds followed in silence. ‘…Perhaps I get a little claustrophobic. It’s not that unusual, alright!’

‘If it will help, I can close the shades—’

‘Don’t you dare!’

The outburst pulled Red’s gaze away from the window (black, boring tunnel) and back to her travelling companion. Cash’s hair was a bit of a mess; it was still short enough to poke up every which way if she wasn’t careful, and she’d hardly spent much time with a damp comb that morning. It looked cute on her; when Red’s hair had been that short, it had only made her look more like a boy. Cash’s eyes, brown and fierce, gazed right back at her, and the two held an impromptu staring contest—until the tunnel ended, and the traincar was bathed in light.

Outside, the Wild Area sprawled before them.

The train doors opened, and Cash and Red scrambled to their feet: The last thing they wanted was to find themselves carted off to Motostoke prematurely. The station itself was humble, and didn’t have much besides the standard Poké Mart window and magazine stands. Near one wall, a pair of teens looked about ten seconds from challenging the other to battle with their Pikachu and Eevee. ‘First time being here?’ Cash asked softly as they walked past, and Red nodded. ‘Yeah, me too.’

The weather outside the station was partial clouds, and the temperature was cool but pleasant. Looking only at the greenery—the flora and the rolling hills—the landscape honestly didn’t look much different from what Cash and Red had come to expect living next to the southern moors. But the pokémon! Gone were the Wooloo and Yamper of the farmland; gone, also, were the Nickit and Zigzagoon wot survived by pilfering from human habitations. Instead, there were Tyrogue and Bunnelby, Onix and Roggenrola, all wandering about as if they owned the place, chattering and scuffling and getting along as they had for hundreds of years without human intervention. Present, also, were the basalt pillars of the pokémon dens—some glowing, some shooting up beams of light, and some sitting dully, drained for the time being of all dynamax energy.

Red and Cash headed for a dull one. ‘Do you really imagine we’ll find anything in here?’ Red asked, as they dropped down into the grotto. It was smaller than one might have expected—barely the height of a person, and with a floorplan no larger than a service elevator. Notches had been carved into the basalt years ago for easy egress, and the earth beneath their feet was some admixture of dirt and sand. A few antpit pokémon scuttled away as they entered, burrowing their bodies down into the soil.

‘…Huh,’ Cash said, rubbing her arms lightly, glancing around. ‘Considering the reputation for dynamax, I kinda figured this place would be a bit… bigger.’ She began kicking at the sand with her feet. Pokémon had a tendency for hoarding items in these dens—some of which could be quite valuable—although a burnt‐out den like this one had likely already been picked clean. They were hoping something had been missed; ‘I don’t imagine we’ll find a lot, no, but have you any better idea? Maybe there’s something in the sand.’ She sent out her Zigzagoon; ‘Naudie here has Pickup, so maybe it’ll be able to help.’


‘It’s it’s nature!’

They combed the sands as best they could, but if the Trapinch were hiding valuable items down there, they had them buried deep. Zigzagoon turned up a used bottle·cap, which Cash frowned at. ‘Er, thanks, I guess,’ she said, pocketing it so that her pokémon wouldn’t feel bad. An antpit pokémon snapped up at a misplaced ankle, and she cursed and stumbled into Red, knocking them both onto the floor of the cave.

Sensing better fun than treasure hunting, Zigzagoon immediately leapt into the pile, licking the both of their faces. ‘…Maybe we should try a different den,’ Red suggested, attempting to shove its snout away.

Cash wrestled out Zigzagoon’s pokéball and recalled it in a beam of light. ‘…Perhaps,’ she conceded.

But before the two could climb to their feet, there came a thud nearby which signalled they were not alone. Heavy boots; a black leather jacket and trousers; and wearing them, a woman about their age, who had just dropped in from the entrance above. A Gothita rested on her shoulder, and together they scrutinized the den with a careful eye. Red and Cash froze.

It wasn’t long before they were noticed. The trainer’s nose wrinkled as if they were a bad stench: ‘Ugh,’ she said; ‘give me a break. Pitch a tent if you’re looking for a quickie; dens are for pokémon, you two!’

That spurned Cash into action; she spluttered and immediately stood up. ‘E‐excuse me!’ she exclaimed. ‘Us two are right pokémon trainers, and we have a tent, thank·ye·very·much!’

‘Oh?’ the woman asked, raising an eyebrow. Her pokémon had its eyes fixed on Red, who was now slowly getting to her feet as well. Something about its gaze reminded her of Blipbug. ‘If you are trainers, then you must be looking for a raid battle. Or perhaps you’ve just finished with one?’

‘Er, our pokémon can’t dynamax,’ Red said. ‘And we haven’t any wishing pieces. So, we’re a tad out of luck in that respect.’

‘To the contrary.’ The trainer reached into her pocket and pulled out a rod of basalt with a telltale red glow. A dynamax band was visible on her wrist—identifying her, in all likelihood, as a past Gym Challenger. She wasn’t one that either of them recognized, so she can’t have been local—or particularly successful. ‘Are you game?’

‘Oi, hold on,’ Cash said. ‘D’you mean to say, if we weren’t here, you were planning on challenging a dynamax pokémon all by yourself, then?’

‘Yes?’ She tilted her hand vertically, and the piece dropped down into the sand. The walls around them began to glow. ‘You may know me as Model Merle, Stow‐on‐Side.’

Model? ‘Er, Beauty Cash, and Backpacker Red, both from Postw—’ Cash’s introduction was cut off, as the ground beneath their feet shifted, and the walls of the den began to warp and change. Cash squeezed her eyes shut, and Red wished she had, because within seconds the grotto had transformed into an enormous cavern—and the same antpit pokémon that Cash had tripped over was now dynamax, towering before them. It let out a roar.

‘What the hell…’ Cash muttered in wonder.

‘Don’t piss your trousers,’ Merle said, recalling her Gothita and selecting another pokéball from her belt. Her dynamax band glowed, and it expanded to an unusual size in her hand. ‘It’s still just a pokémon. Go, Maisie!’ She set it loose, and a dynamax Cloyster sprang up in front of them, snapping its shell at its opponent.

‘Right…’ Cash ran her fingertips over her pokéballs, settling on Chewtle for the type advantage. It was too late to bow out now. Red brought out Koffing, hoping that its Levitate might carry the day.

‘Max Geyser, let’s go!’ Merle yelled, and the raid battle had begun.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

It’s the antpit pokémon, Trapinch!​

When Cash and Red had set out from Wedgehurst that morning, they’d imagined themselves popping into a few abandoned dens, perhaps stumbling upon a handful of lost trainer items, and then returning to sell the lot before supper. They certainly hadn’t expected to find themselves caught in a torrential downpour, in the midst of a max raid battle in a strange, twisted cave beneath the Wild Area’s Rolling Fields. Their clothes were soaked, and stuck to them awkwardly; Red vainly tried to wipe the raindrops from her glasses as she called for a Smog. Chewtle was loving the atmosphere; its Swift Swim ability was in full force, and it sent out a speedy Liquidation to punch a hole in Trapinch’s defences. Trapinch attempted to respond with Sand Tomb, but Koffing floated easily out of the way; less fortuitous was the way in which the damp sand stuck itself in their clothes and hair.

Merle, for her part, seemed completely unfazed. Her hair was trimmed short, and the rainfall broke against her jacket to little effect. She had been right, after all: It was still just a pokémon—a young one at that—and they had a strong type advantage. She commanded another Max Geyser from her Cloyster, and enlarged another pokéball before it had even struck home :— a dusk ball, Red noticed. The Trapinch was captured within seconds. The glow of the cave faded, the rainstorm subsided, and the grotto—along with Merle’s Cloyster—returned to a more usual size.

Merle walked over to the dormant dusk ball and picked it up. ‘Good battle,’ she said, almost as an afterthought, nodding in Cash’s direction.

‘Right, you too,’ Cash replied, a little breathless, as Merle recalled her pokémon and pulled herself out of the den. With her absence, and after such a swift flurry of max moves and pokémon cries, the cave felt eerily silent.

‘Whew, that was some battle, huh?’ Cash asked. She shook her head like a dog, rubbing her hands through her hair and doing her best to get the water and sand out of it. She addressed their pokémon: ‘Good work, both of you.’

Red recalled her Koffing and wordlessly walked over to where the Trapinch had been. ‘Hey, Cash, look at this,’ she said, kicking at something buried in the sand. She bent down and picked it up: a healthy‐sized chunk of gold.

‘No way! Must’ve been unearthed in the battle. Look, there’s a smaller one, too!’ Cash joined her and together they set about collecting everything they could. Aside from the nuggets, there were some berries and a few experience candies, which altogether made a pretty good haul. ‘Surprised that Model left without taking anything; I suppose the pokémon was all she was after?’

‘She’s a dynamax band,’ Red reminded. ‘Prolly flush with cash.’

‘Prolly, yeah. And a Model, remember. Wonder what she was doing way out here.’ Cash rubbed her nose, but couldn’t hold back a sneeze. ‘Alright, well, you hold onto that; we’ll split the earnings when we go and sell it, yeah? Meanwhile I’m changing out of these clothes; I’m gonna catch a cold.’ She presently started unbuttoning her shirt; ‘I tell you,’ she said, ‘you run through outfits a lot faster than I thought you would as a pokémon trainer.’

‘Hence Trainers Boutiques, yeah?’ Red replied, her eyes busy on the task.

‘Yeah… Another thing to look into before we leave, provided money’s no concern.’ Cash pulled a sweater over her head, rubbing her arms to chase away the cold. ‘But let’s handle all that stuff tomorrow. Right now, I say we sell this lot and start a fire; I don’t want to be growing mildew in my pack.’

‘Fair enough,’ Red said, packing the last of the things away. She could feel Cash approaching from behind her, perhaps reaching out…

…But Cash evidently thought better of it, because she kicked her boot instead. ‘Oi,’ she said. ‘You doing alright, sis?’


‘Don’t “hm?” me; you’re sopping wet and speaking in four‐word sentences. You’ve a change of clothes?’

‘Oh, er, yes.’

‘Get bloody changed, then, heavens. And tell me what’s going on?’ Cash nudged Red’s bag with her toe for emphasis.

‘Maybe you could turn around and give me space?!’ Red said, nevertheless complying with the demand. ‘And there’s nothing going on, so stop worrying about it.’

Cash rolled her eyes, finally recalling her Chewtle and turning to face the wall. ‘Like hell there isn’t,’ she muttered. ‘You’re not that good of an actress, Red.’

‘Well, it doesn’t concern you.’

‘I’ll stick Naudie on you if I need.’

‘Ugh, fine!’ Red tossed her shirt to the floor and immediately regretted it; she spent the next minute trying to rid it of sand and dirt. ‘It’s just… that Model rubbed me the wrong way, you know. And what she said, about us having a quickie…’

‘What, you actually want to?!’ Cash snorted, not believing it for a minute. ‘Thanks but no thanks; I’d like my first time to be in a bed, not a cave.’

‘That’s not it at all!’ Red groaned. This was a conversation made much more difficult by her being half‐naked; ‘it’s just that… you know… she only said that because she thought we were straight.’

‘Oh. Really?’ Cash said. She forgot herself and turned back to look at Red—at that moment, she was one‐leg‐in‐one‐out on her trousers. ‘Sorry!’ Cash said quickly, blushing and turning back to face the wall. ‘Sorry; wasn’t thinking! But, er, that’s really what got to you?’

Red heaved an exaggerated sigh. ‘See, knew you wouldn’t get it. This is precisely why I was keeping mum!’

‘You’re right; I think it’s some bollocks. D’you see me moping because some Model thinks I’m hetero? No! Who gives a fuck what she thinks? I’m not straight, by the way.’ Cash tapped her foot impatiently. ‘Can I fucking turn around yet?’

‘It’s not really the same thing, Cash,’ Red replied, zipping up her trousers. ‘…And yeah, you can look.’

‘Good.’ Cash spun on her heels and marched right up to her with an unexpected fervour. ‘Now you see right here, missus. Me? I’m a lesbian. Maybe that trainer was mistaken about some things, but that’s what I am. So supposing she thinks you have a chance with me—!’ Even in fresh clothes, Red was looking plenty forlorn :— Her hair was wet and tangled; her cheeks had a flush from the cold. Cash scoffed and removed Red’s glasses to clean them against her shirt. ‘You know what that means, yeah? Cutie? Sweetling? Honeypie?’ She replaced the spectacles on Red’s nose, booping it for good measure. ‘It means you’re a fucking girl.’


‘So get the fuck over yourself and own it, would you!’



They glared at each other for a long minute. Eventually, Red broke eye contact. ‘…You seem rather upset,’ she said, ‘and I’m not sure why.’

‘…Yeah, I am, alright’ Cash replied. She took a deep breath, and pressed her knuckles into her forehead, pacing in a small circle as she tried to figure out why. ‘Heavens, how do I say this. Er. This might take a while, but: Growing up a cis girl, you’ve these female friendships, and they’re really important, right? Erm, for obvious reasons. Well, there’s this idea that they’ll follow you into adulthood—not necessarily the same folks, of course, but same idea; you’ll have your “girl friends”, in quotes, right, and they’ll form your support structures that your boyfriends can’t provide. Well. So, this is obviously all mucked up by being a dyke.’ A sigh. ‘It gets all fucking mucked up because all of those great, intimate moments that happen between straight cis women “as friends”… when you do them, right, it gets read as romantic every time. And you just get sort of… I don’t know, shunned. Like you’re always walking on eggshells, or everyone else is always walking on eggshells around you. I… kinda hoped with you it could be different? But last night… and just now… You don’t touch me; you don’t look at me; I have to face the wall when you change. It’s like you buy into the same cultural narrative, where just because you’re not straight, everything you do might be interpreted as sexual. And it sucks. I know it’s hard because you have a dick or some shite, but I was rather hoping we could just, you know. We’re going on this grand journey. Let’s be girls together. Or women, er.’

‘Cash,’ Red said softly. ‘I… suppose I see where you’re coming from, but there’s still something you don’t seem to understand. I didn’t have that childhood. I don’t know how to do that. I’m… I don’t think I’m the person you want.’

‘You are.’ Cash lifted up her pack and set it on her shoulders. ‘Wish you’d believe it, but you are. Sorry for the yelling. And hey, cheer up; we’ll figure it out together, alright?’

Red hoisted her own (much heavier) bag, dusting it off. ‘…Okay. We’ll try.’

‘Just stop with this “I’m not a real girl” crap,’ Cash grumbled, starting her climb out of the hole. ‘I… kinda need you to be one.’

Chimecho’s Jukebox​

“Hurricanes”. Dido. From Still on My Mind (2018).​

‘Okay, that’s all we have,’ Cash said. They were back in the Wild Area station, selling their findings for a sizeable sum at the Poké Mart. Naudie was back out of its pokéball; Cash had already learned that the best way to prevent its antics was to exercise the miscreant constantly. At present it was scratching her leg, and barking loudly; ‘…what?’ Cash asked. ‘Oh, right.’

She reached into her pocket and pulled out the bottle cap it had turned up earlier. ‘Don’t suppose you’d give anything for this?’

‘A silver crown bottle cap?’ the shop attendant remarked, looking a bit stunned. ‘Yes, those are quite rare; I can give ₱2500.’

Half the price of their smaller nugget? For a bottle cap? ‘Well, damn,’ Cash said. ‘It’s yours.’

As a trans person, you learn pretty quickly to stay away from other people; strangers (and sometimes not‐strangers) often view you as dangerous or repulsive and shy away at your touch. This is a significant contrast from (certain) cis women, who are often raised to think of themselves as desirable and their touch as harmless or gentle. In this episode, I’ve tried to highlight the impact of these differing upbringings on Red and Cash.

In a quest to see what other writers had written about max raid battles, I went and read the entirety of The Ties That Bind by carefreejules. I’d already mostly decided on Trapinch as the dynamax pokémon in this episode, and the many Trapinch in that fic pretty much settled the question.

It is said that dynamax pokémon don’t actually grow to enormous sizes—they just warp the surrounding space to make themselves seem much larger and heavier than they actually are. I figured that “warping the surrounding space” was a much more reasonable explanation for what happens in pokémon dens than the idea that the entire underside of the Wild Area was somehow… hollow?


  1. custom/hoppip-bluesidra-reup
  2. custom/hoppip-bluesidra-pink
  3. custom/hoppip-bluesidra3
Hey Hi Hello! I'm way overdue, but also, my brain is melting out of my ears today. So you'll have to contend with my shitposting :D

which was kind of cute, in a way
I see a SHIP on the horizon

she’d come back heterosexual and with a new understanding of her place in life
oof. But also good if he lets her go like that. Then again, it makes me wonder why Cash jumps through all those hoops if her dad would simply let her stride off to hulbury. He seems to be strangely ok with not having her around? No contact is an option.

great men,
They're sitting in Battle Tower in Wyndon, why?

Of course, her brother’s activities posed no problem. He was the firstborn son, and he could do whatever he damn well pleased, so long as he settled down “eventually” on the family farm. (Cash wasn’t holding her breath on that one.) But she: She was to be the dutiful daughter: to manage the estate, to marry well, and to cover up for all of her brother’s blunders. Pokémon battling would only alienate her future husband.
Oh wow, that's backwards even for my rural area :D

Nobody in Postwick could.
Welcome to the countryside.

She would never need to return home.
I still don't get why she can't leave and work somewhere else?

…chomping down with a forceful Vice Grip right onto poor Wooloo’s tail. ‘What the fuck!’ Cash exclaimed, watching in embarrassment as her pokémon yelped and hopped and spun around, a small Grubbin clamping its rear for dear life. ‘Wooloo, shake it off!’ She assessed her options: The only damaging move Wooloo had in its arsenal was Tackle—and she couldn’t exactly command it to Tackle its own butt.
fluffy woolen boulder.

city blokes
Ah, yes, metropolitan Wedgehurst.

which will be registered to your pokéballs—that’s how we keep track of who the pokémon belong to! And you’ll be able to update your other information
High five on the worldbuilding!

‘The Pokémon League does not prescribe mechanisms for correcting discrepancies in birth certificate data. You’ll need to take that up with your local shire or metropolitan district,’ came the response. ‘Once the information is corrected, we will gladly update our records.’ Down here in Southern Galar, that meant “good bloody luck”.
Big Oof!

‘Be thankful it’s a hassle—unless you’d rather be sleeping with a bunch of men.’
My ace ass does not see the issue.

so she had to hold hers with her hand like the poor person she was.

Instead, it’s tied to your Trainer Card.’
DUH! What the hell did she think???

Cash’s eyes were stinging, and when she wiped them, her hand came back wet. She had been so close. She couldn’t stand being done in by something like this.
No, bb, don't cry!

I always figured she was, like, a TERF

Blipbug kept trying to press its face against her phone
That bugger is the only redeeming quality of Red so far.

and she was struck immediately by how beautiful she was—and by how much skin was left exposed by her camisole.
Very Good!

Seated at a table with these twin goddesses, being served a cup of tea as casual as you please, Cashmere began fervently wishing she’d spent more time with her own preparations back at the Pokémon Centre.
"Preparations" Cash, I get you, but sadly only on an intellectual level. Though it feels good to know that other lesbians do in fact have a sex-drive

she still handled the political side of Southern Galar administration.
Explains a thing or two.
and not Hop.

I want to enter the tournament, but… I can’t let him know, or my father will find out—which is not a good thing. At first, I thought that if somebody else from Postwick pretended to be entering, he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but now I know it’s linked to your Trainer Card, and my other friend is trans, and—’
Sounds like a fraud and a disqualification to me.
Cash frowned. ‘So, what you’re saying is, if I use a national registration form, as if I were from another region—even though I’m actually from Galar—it’ll delay processing and Shepherd won’t be able to figure out who I am?’ It seemed like an awful bureaucratic hack, but then again, maybe that was exactly what she was looking for.
Yes, definitely entering under false pretense. That *is* a reason to revoke any victory. Why did she ever come up with that convoluted plan in the first place?

Don’t let the pressure eat you alive.’
Laughs in Sonia, Leon and Hop

we breed Chewtle
My heart is exploding, the two chicks are raising their cat- eh, chewtle family like the good bisexuals and lesbians they are!

Before she had a chance to, though, Cash swept Sonia up in a sudden hug. ‘Thank you so much,’ she said, and her eyes were watering a little, too. ‘Nobody’s ever believed in me like this… I won’t let you down.’
Cash. Darling. I know how hugging boobs feels. This is a bad idea, given how horny you are.
Episode 06 – A Conversation Starter!


Inland Northwest, United States
Episode 06

A Conversation Starter!​

The Wedgehurst Pokémon Centre: Red hadn’t been in it much, for obvious reasons, but she was familiar with the general layout. Pokémon Centres made up the hub of public life in Galar, and sending post, picking up supplies, and voting on local initiatives were common enough tasks for even a lass from Postwick. The trainers quarters, however: That was a division of the Pokémon Centre she’d never seen.

It was about to change, now.

She needed to shave, was the thing. Red had already mostly resigned herself to being caught with a bit of scruff: by Cash, obviously, and by various trainers on the road. As much was unavoidable when trekking cross‐country. But she’d convinced herself that she was okay with it: In the case of travellers, because they were unlikely to ever see her again; and with Cash, because the woman just didn’t give a fuck (and sported a tiny bit of a moustache herself). The same could not necessarily be said of other childhood associates—especially not ones so notable as Professor Sonia, who they were off to see now.

‘So,’ Cash had begun, that morning, scrubbing her face with a damp cloth. ‘I’ve been messaging, and I may have dropped a hint to Sonia that we’re sleeping together.’

Red was sitting by the campfire, sipping her morning tea; well, she had been, until that announcement had prompted her to spew it all over the flames. ‘You told her what?

Cashmere laughed. ‘Travelling. I told her you’re setting out with me on my pokémon journey. Heavens, you’re easy to fluster.’ Today, by all accounts, would be their last morning in Southern Galar; they hadn’t time to dally, really, if they aimed to complete the Motostoke Loop prior to the upcoming Wedgehurst Tournament. Wot with all the shopping they were planning on doing in Motostoke, Red had been hoping to set out early; she sipped her tea with a scowl.

‘You seem to love making me regret the decision,’ she grumbled. She’d called her mum the previous night, told her she would be travelling—so she was fairly committed, as Cash knew.

‘I think you knew full well what you were getting yourself into, love,’ Cash replied, winking. The gesture was somewhat defeated by the yawn which broke across her features: She would’ve rather slept in till noon. ‘Anyway, she’s demanded that we stop by the lab in Wedgehurst before we depart. She wants to give you a pokémon for your journey: It’s really quite the thing with her.’

‘Have you informed her I’ve two perfectly nice pokémon with me already?’ Red asked. ‘And that I’ve no interest in becoming a proper pokémon trainer? Plus, we really ought to be going. Do you suppose she is even up at this hour?’

‘Oh, let her have her fun,’ Cash replied, gesturing around. As had become their morning routine, they’d all their pokémon out of their pokéballs :— Blipbug, Wooloo, Chewtle, Naudie, and Koffing —: all milling about, sniffing the grass or walking off their breakfast. ‘What’s one more pokémon among our family, really? Plus, she says you’ll get to pick.’

‘Between which options?’ Red asked. She found it difficult to believe that Sonia just had some starter pokémon lying around at the ready—she certainly hadn’t when Cash had visited a few days prior. Had she just gone out and tossed some pokéballs along Route 2?

‘Only one way to find out,’ Cash replied. ‘C’mon; let’s get this packed, and go.’

With that, they were on the train back to Wedgehurst. Red let Cash have the window seat this time. And then, they were inside the Pokémon Centre, and Cash was grabbing Red by the arm: ‘Washrooms, this way,’ she remarked, gesturing her head in the direction of the ladies’.

Red resisted the tug. ‘Cash,’ she said, diplomatically. Wedgehurst’s Pokémon Centre was small and, naturally, did not have the option of unisex facilities. ‘I really don’t think I’d be welcome there.’

‘Well, I’m not following you into the other one; come on.’ As Red still didn’t budge, she placed a hand on her hip and rolled her eyes. ‘See this?’ she asked, holding up a pokéball. It opened in her palm; Zigzagoon materialized beside them. ‘If anyone gives you grief, Naudie’ll give ’em a piece of its mind. I’ll be right there.’ She levelled Red with a glare. ‘Don’t think I don’t know how to herd a lamb.’

And so Red found herself shaving in the ladies room. Cash was giving her best Obstagoon impression :— leaning against the sink; glaring forcefully at anyone who passed them by —: and her Zigzagoon mirrored the pose from a few feet ahead. They all received strange glances, but of the three of them, the pokémon and its trainer decisively caught more. Nobody made any comment.

Red tried to finish as quickly as possible without cutting her face open. She was finding the experience strange, awkward, and decidedly uncomfortable.

But, all things considered, she’d probably do it again.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

Gentle and caring, this pokémon easily understands human thought and emotion. Because it lacks an aggressive nature, it was once nearly hunted to extinction in the wild. But it has long been a cherished working pokémon.​

‘There are a number of qualities that one looks for in a starter pokémon,’ Sonia began. They were all gathered in the downstairs of the Pokémon Lab in Wedgehurst :— she and Red and Cash. Sonia had laid out tea, and some shortbread biscuits, which were slightly burnt. A research assistant replaced books to their proper places on the shelves, and Cash watched, nibbling on a biscuit, listening idly. Red’s focus was more intent. ‘Firstly, it’s usually of a single elemental type—moreover, one with clear advantages and disadvantages in battle. It typically belongs to the Field group, so that it will be comfortable travelling alongside its trainer when they get to rambling. And its evolutionary family ought to have an easily‐manageable first stage and a powerful third, such that it will grow up alongside its trainer…’ Sonia scratched the back of her head awkwardly. ‘Yeah, well, these pokémon don’t satisfy any of those requirements. Here at the lab, we study gigantamax, which means our pokémon are big, loud, and right handfuls at times. But they’re still sweethearts, I promise!’ She withdrew three ordinary pokéballs, and laid them on the table. ‘Your options are as follows :— ①: The Normal‐type sleeping pokémon, Snorlax. ②: The Steel/Dragon‐type alloy pokémon, Duraludon. And ③: The Water/Ice‐type transport pokémon, Lapras. You can take whichever suits your fancy.’

‘It seems somebody got to breeding after my visit, eh?’ Cash teased. With pleasure, she noted that Sonia’s cheeks pinked a tad.

‘I’ll remind you, you stopped by my house,’ Sonia declared, defensively. ‘You can hardly blame me for not being prepared. But, er…’ She got a little pinker. ‘Eggs are actually a pretty regular occurrence here at the lab.’

It was only when they’d looked back to the table that they realized Red had already made her pick. ‘Wait, Lapras?! Really?!’ Cash asked, surprised—her eyes boring a hole in the second pokéball, the Duraludon. ‘You’re not going for the Steel/Dragon?!’

‘Cash, I don’t know if you’ve looked around, but there aren’t exactly a whole lot of Ice types south of Hammerlocke,’ Red explained. Not that she was willing to admit to needing a third pokémon at all—but it would be difficult to come up with a better match. ‘Besides, Lapras are practical. If you really want a Dragon type, we can always catch a Noibat in the Galar Mines.’

‘Well, I’m glad we’ve all decided that Snorlax is out of the question,’ Sonia said. Her tone suggested that it was the one she would have chosen; she plucked the remaining pokéballs off the table and stuck them back in her labcoat pockets. ‘Anyway, there you go, then; the pokéball’s not registered, so you can have it assigned to your Trainer ID next time you’re in a Pokémon Centre.’

Red thanked her, and mentally reminded herself that she still needed to acquire one of those.

‘You know, you’re a funny lot,’ Sonia said, giving them both a strange look.

‘How’s that?’ Cash asked.

‘Well, I can tell you that when Leon and I got our starter pokémon, the very first thing we wanted to do was to battle with them. Yamper versus Tympole—you can imagine how that one ended. With Hop and Gloria, it was the same. But you two seem rather, hm. No, it’s not a bad thing: It’s like you’re already on your way.’

‘Well, they’re hardly our first pokémon,’ Cash laughed. ‘I left home with Wooloo, and I’ve a Zigzagoon with me now, the scamp. Red’s got a Blipbug and a Koffing already as well; I was made to drag her by the ear just to have her show up.’

While they talked, Red took the opportunity to scan the pokéball :—
#361 Lapras [Water/Ice] ♀️

Water Absorb

  • [Normal] Sing (Status: ⸺ / 100%)
  • [Water] Water Gun (Special: 40 / 100%)
  • [Ghost] Curse (Status: ⸺ / ⸺%)
  • [Water] Sparkling Aria (Special: 90 / 100%)

Relaxed nature. Capable of taking hits.

‘—Although, I am curious,’ Cash continued. ‘Red talks real smart, but I’ve yet to see how she actually performs in battle. What do you say?’

‘…Eh?’ Red looked up.

‘Your Lapras, my Chewtle, one‐on‐one? Or was that all just talk, earlier, about “helping me train”?’

Red considered it. She’d only been a trainer—or something in denial of being one—for a couple of days. She’d never battled before, and she and Lapras were hardly acquainted. But, it was true that she’d stated every intention of helping Cash get into tournament shape. She’d even caught Koffing for the express purpose of it.

‘Oh, come on,’ Cash said. ‘Got to rip the bandage off sometime, right?’

Red sighed. Fair enough. ‘…Alright.’

A proper court didn’t exist in Wedgehurst, but there was a wide, clear space in front of the lab which sufficed. Sonia agreed to referee the match, offering it some semblance of legitimacy, and Blipbug and Naudie both watched from the sidelines, each eager to analyse the match in their own way. Red released Lapras: It may have been young, and unfamiliar with her as its trainer, but there was no mistaking the situation. Before them, Cash and Chewtle stood prepared for battle, and when Lapras looked back at Red, there was an intuitive recognition that they were on the same side. Something about its stare penetrated Red through to her heartstrings :— intelligent; caring. This, Red thought, is a pokémon wot deserves a proper name.

The middle of a pokémon battle was hardly the proper time for it, though. She refocused her gaze on her opponent. The typings weren’t in her favour, and Curse wasn’t particularly useful for a Lapras wot only knew Special attacks. ‘Your move!’ Cash called out. Red closed her eyes, and settled on a plan.

‘Sparkling Aria,’ she said, softly, sure that Lapras could hear. ‘Wait for an attack, then use Sing.’

Lapras understood. It remained at a distance, forming a bubble in front of it—then cried out, shattering the orb into thousands of droplets which pelted Chewtle’s shell. Cash called something—it was lost on the wind—and a strong blast of water erupted from Chewtle’s mouth, slamming Lapras in return.

Liquidation. Cash was trying to drop Lapras’s defences. Unfortunately for her, the attack was ineffectual—Lapras’s Water Absorb negated any damage it might have done. She wouldn’t make the mistake a second time, of course, but it was the opening Red was banking on. As commanded, Lapras began to Sing.

‘What is it with you people and Chewtle!’ Cash screamed. ‘I swear I can’t get one battle in without someone lulling it to sleep!’

Chewtle was out like a lamp. The time for strategy was up, then: It was simply a matter of continuing to strike with her strongest attacks until it could no longer remain in battle. It didn’t take as long as she’d anticipated before Sonia was calling the match—even a Chewtle from Hulbury Gym was only so protected against strong Special attacks.

‘Alright, Sleepyhead,’ Cash said, with equal parts affection and consternation. ‘You did the best you could.’ She recalled her pokémon, and Red was about to do the same—when she noticed a glow coming from the Professor’s side. Her Blipbug: It was… evolving?

Just from watching the battle?

‘Er… That’s really all it took, huh?’ Red asked, walking over. Lapras stared, too—after all, it had done all of the work. It gave a soft call: a reminder that it was still there, deserving of praise. ‘Yes, you did very good—’ Red paused. Those same eyes again: Her mind scrambled for a name. ‘…Piper?’

Lapras stared at her. Surely—it would have protested if the name was objectionable. ‘You did a good job,’ Red repeated. ‘Actually—that was my first pokémon battle. I didn’t entirely expect to win.’

Lapras don’t roll their eyes, but the sentiment was transmitted nonetheless. It yawned. Red got the memo, and recalled it back into its pokéball. Cash joined her in encircling the newly‐evolved Dottler; the pokémon hadn’t moved at all—Red wasn’t sure it could move, to be honest—but her pokédex rated it as alive and healthy.

‘Dottler interact with the world entirely using their psychic abilities,’ Sonia explained, as Red continued to examine it. ‘They’re quite well‐defended, but… Well, they can’t even so much as eat or drink until they evolve.’

Red tried picking it up—it had to weigh at least three stone, and she quickly abandoned the venture. ‘Well, it certainly won’t be climbing on my shoulder again anytime soon,’ she remarked, recalling it, too, back into its pokéball. She looked at Sonia. ‘It really doesn’t need drink or food?’

Sonia shrugged. ‘I’ve never heard of a Dottler dying from lack of it. That… might be what triggers its second evolution, actually. Need to do more research.’

In any case, Cash was thankful that the spotlight had been so quickly shifted away from her crushing defeat. The duo said their goodbyes, and it was back to the Pokémon Centre for them :— Cash, to restore her pokémon, and Red, begrudgingly, to actually register as a trainer. ‘Chin up,’ Cash said; ‘now nobody can steal your pokéballs;’ Red nodded and mumbled something as she slipped the card into her wallet.

It was late morning before they actually set off for Motostoke. They both decided that luncheon might be a good place to start.

Who’s That Pokémon?​

It’s the transport pokémon, Lapras!​

The sun was shining in Hulbury when Gym Trainer Heather climbed out of the pool; stretching, she shook her head and wrung out her hair. Then she smiled, at Philomena Breckenridge, who was trying not to stare.

‘Hey,’ she said—and her posture screamed “I’m your girlfriend, dunderhead; you’re allowed to check me out.” She’d just finished her afternoon warmups, the sort required by Hulbury Gym of all its trainers; Heather was used to it, having joined the Gym right out of secondary school. She’d trained under Nessa at the same time as Philly had gone off to university, almost six years ago now.

‘Hey,’ Philomena replied, still keeping their eyes firmly above her neckline. To be entirely clear: They were in love with Hulbury, and its general culture of acceptance; they’d been among the crowds cheering when Nessa had openly come out as lesbian; even so, Philly had always had difficulty showing anything more than platonic affection in public spaces. Their attraction to Heather was far from new, either: They’d harboured it since the two were schoolmates together, denied it for the whole four years of upper secondary school, and convinced themselves that they just weren’t interested in romance, that they were their own person, and there was no room in their life for love. When Heather had followed the universal lesbian dream of training under Galar’s №1 model, they’d gone off to Motostoke, to prove it in academia.

It had taken a year and a semester for that plan to spontaneously combust. Philly found themselves with a crush. The only reason they’d had been able to manage it, initially, was because their partner had looked like a boy: The two of them together looked like a straight couple, and their boring, conventional appearance more‐or‐less matched what was expected from a young lass and lad attending university by the folks back home. It wasn’t that Philly’s parents approved, exactly, but they didn’t complain either, and even with grades and other stressors bearing down, Philly’s head remained above water.

Neverminding, of course, that Philomena was actually polyamorous and pansexual, a little genderfluid and a lot nonbinary. That was something they were fine keeping a lid on, so long as it kept them out of the spotlight. They talked about it with their partner, in depth; occasionally, the subject might’ve come up in the rare Gender Studies class. That was all the visibility they wanted, or needed. Another six months passed.

It was only then that their partner returned the favour. It turned out that Philomena wasn’t dating a boy, after all. And she… didn’t find the closet quite as comforting as Philly had.

So, after that, everything went to hell.

The end result, practically speaking, was that by the time Philomena returned home to Hulbury, grabbing the occasional drink with the Gym Trainer they’d once had fantasies about didn’t seem quite so terrifying as it once had. Drinks turned into something a little more, and unlike their partner from uni, Heather was patient and slow. Especially here, hanging out in the Gym… It was easy, and even if the two appeared to be “just friends” to those not attuned to the subtle dynamics of the homosexual, there were those who knew. They knew. And that was enough.

Heather drew up close to them, with a cute sort of crooked smile. ‘Mind handing me my towel, there, love?’ she asked, and Philly quickly obliged. It was a plain affair, cream‐coloured and soft—although the sight of it always sent a pang through their heart for reasons they weren’t yet ready to admit. Visible as Heather wrapped the article loosely around their shoulders: the small embroidery in the corner. A Shuckle.

Shuckle —: That had been Red’s favourite pokémon.

‘…So, let me get this straight,’ Cash said, biting hard into a chip before wiping her hands on her napkin. Red and she were having fish &, at a small café in downtown Motostoke—one which Red was familiar with from her university days. Cash, for her part, was busy prying hard into the particulars of that university experience. ‘On the one hand: You keep stating that this, uh… Philadelphia was really supportive of you when you first came out, and your support structure, and all of that.’

Red nodded. ‘They were. I mean, they probably saved my life.’

Cash frowned, downing another chip. ‘Hm. Well, you say that, but on the other hand… It seems like every time the two of you were in public together—around their parents, friends, whomever—you were made to feel like a man.’

That drew a sigh. ‘More or less?’ Red said. ‘Things were great when it was just the two of us, but it was… a lot harder around anybody else.’

‘Well, I see why that Model’s comments rankled you so much, now.’ Cash took a bite of fish. She weighed the delicateness of the situation, and decided against not speaking her mind. ‘What a cunt! I mean, seriously, can you imagine me, right: The lads are all getting together and we decide we’re having a girls night, and this is me; can you imagine me not inviting my girlfriend? Like, for real? Who the fuck?’ Cash paused, giving Red a stare. ‘…How are you not at all angered by this?’

‘It’s in the past, Cash,’ Red sighed. She poked at her own food, not particularly hungry. ‘And, it’s complicated… It’s not like I was the perfect partner either, you know? Honestly, there were times when I think I rather deserved it, being treated that way.’

Abruptly, Cash threw a potato slice at her. ‘Oi, Red,’ she said. She threw another: It smacked Red in the lip. ‘Oi, Red, look at me. I’m being an ass.’ Another: this time in her hair. ‘I’m being a right Mudbray. Snort snort. I’m being a boy. Hey, lookit me! Oi, Red!’

Red did her best to block the onslaught of tater. ‘Would you cut it out?! What?!’

Cash made is if to toss another—but then shoved it in her mouth with a pointed expression. ‘Doesn’t mean you can’t still invite me to girls night,’ she said, before swallowing. ‘Heavens above.’

Chimecho’s Jukebox​

“Every Crest”. Seven Spires. From Emerald Seas (2020).​

It was a long day before Cash and Red settled into their hotel room—one bed. It had been purchased with the remainder of their Wild Area earnings: a welcome reprieve from sleeping outside, considering the Pokémon Centre was hardly an option for Red. Their boots and packs were, blessedly, left by the door; Cash rubbed her shoulders, sore from the new weight, as she prepared a cup of tea. She would be carrying their new sleeping mat, they’d decided, as well as their clothes; they’d made some rentals from the Trainers Boutique in her name, to save them the horrors of laundry—but enough on that for now.

‘Honestly,’ Cash said, fishing the sachet out of her cup and tossing it in the bin. She waved her hand through the air as reprieve from the boiling liquid. ‘I thought you’d be more excited. Back in the town of your college years; all of those memories…’

Red was flopped facedown onto the mattress; she grumbled something incomprehensible.

Cash gave a small smile, set her tea down on the nightstand, and sat herself crosslegged beside her. ‘You’re… really not a city girl, huh?’ More grumbles. She poked Red on the noggin.

She was met with a tired pout.

‘Make yourself some tea; go on,’ Cash said, gesturing with her head. ‘Don’t just lie there moping. It’ll help you feel better.’

Red still didn’t budge.

‘Ay, heavens,’ Cash said, poking her side playfully. ‘Whatever shall I do? She’s evolved into a Dottler.’

Snorlax, Duraludon, and Lapras —: They’re all are single‐stage pokémon (discounting Munchlax, which can only be bred with incense), they can all Gigantamax, and they each have a base stat total of either 535 or 540. I think these similarities make them a nice—if somewhat unconventional!—set of starter pokémon which Sonia might have onhand at the lab. Which one would you choose?
Top Bottom