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Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
My cover FIT.png
In the futuristic world of Aseria, Lute Aska Violets, an innocent Eevee student lives a comfortable routine and dreams of becoming a hero. A fated encounter with Sophitia, a mysterious amnesiac Sylveon with fantastic powers, leads him to join the Agents of King’s Shield: his dream group of agents who protect the Aseria. As Aseria’s weather dwindles and the threat of a prophesized disaster rises, the world’s leaders fight for dominance of a legend with Lute and his team of ordinary Pokémon caught in the middle. Lute must learn the hard way that being a hero is not as bright as it’s made out to be.



This story contains the following material:

Dark themes

Foul language

Mature references

By reading this book, you adhere to the above warnings and the mature content contained within.

Do not proceed if you are not okay with any of the listed content.

0 plush cast.JPG

This is an older work that has been updated to a readable standard. I DO NOT need any comments on writing quality with regards to this work. If you are going to review, please keep comments related to characters and story events as opposed to writing quality. Completed as of January 2021.

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Episode 1: The Encounter


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
1 Lute SOHD.png

Episode 1: The Encounter

Wingull chirped, waves crashed, and a strong wind pushed at the ship’s sails. It wasn’t storming, but the wind was enough to kick up some hefty movements on the ship’s surface, tilting the floor every which way with an irritating rhythm.

Most of the Pokémon aboard made a fun game out of it, twirling around the masts and trying to avoid holding on as much as they could. The bipeds kept falling over and hurting themselves on the wooden planks, while the quadrupeds were having a time of it, tumbling and rolling like they were walking on ball shaped wheels.

An Umbreon, the teacher of this class and the one controlling the ship, was only advocating it. He held a special wheel in all four of his paws. With the ship’s wheel below him, his hind legs helped to steady his movements while his front paws took advantage of every heavy whoosh of air that passed the ship. He kept turning the whole thing left to right, causing the ship to bounce and swerve in a direction resembling straight ahead, all the while laughing and calling out to his students in jest. Coincidentally, this did have them going faster than if they would try to stay on course.

But for Lute, this was the worst trip he could’ve asked for. A weekend at sea on a classic sailing ship with a captain this rowdy had him struggling to keep down his breakfast. This was even though the Eevee was sat stiffly right in the middle of the ship. He kept his eyes shut, body flat, and still he felt like his stomach was going to fly out of his mouth.

“Hey c’mon Lute, you’re missing out on all the fun!” his Jolteon buddy called out, rolling over on his right. He was balanced by a Flareon who was only trying to steady himself, which in turn made fellow classmates call for ‘cheating’. It all looked dumb to Lute, though.

He opened one eye. Just seeing the floor tilt made him gurgle. Someone bumped into him, and he could’ve sworn he spewed something out. It took a moment to balance himself, and then he was back to zoning out of this seasick nightmare with a single complaint in his mind. I hate boats.

“Lutey, c’mon and join us! Don’t be a weakling,” Jolteon called out again, getting thrown in the other direction. Flareon laughed with him, reaching out to try and snatch the Eevee from his spot in the middle of the ship.

“Guys, leave him alone!” a girly voice squeaked. It was just loud enough to catch everyone’s attention, barely even Lute’s. A short Minun was stood over him, hands by her mouth and feet knocking together. “You know he’s not feeling well. So, so…”

“Aww, this is only to make him get stronger. Say Infia, why don’t you join us?” Jolteon replied with a cheeky smile. The Minun shuddered, holding down her skirt as another brush of wind passed.

“I-I-I don’t want to, either,” she said so quietly that Lute could barely hear her. “N-not everyone has to get strong, you know.”

“Not gonna be able to hear ya unless ya speak up! C’mon!” Jolteon said, diving forward to snatch them.

“R-Raiju, wait!” Flareon called out, but another tilt of the ship caused them all to tumble. They all managed to link paws against Lute and Infia’s wills. The next thing they knew, Lute really did lose his breakfast.

“And that’s what happens when you don’t listen to your friends,” Flareon groaned, a snide look at the Jolteon.

“Hey it’s not my fault Lute decided to be seasick,” he replied, still smiling, fangs showing and all.

“That’s not- forget it. Raiju, you’re such an airhead,” Flareon rolled his eyes.

The four of them were lined up at the front of the ship while the messes were being cleaned up behind them. Now that the ship wasn’t moving and they were docked at a port, Lute looked a lot better. He was a little taller than a regular Eevee, helped in part by the spiky curls of fur styled around the back and top of his head. His young complexion contradicted that confident hairstyle and size, but that was thought to be caused by his lack of will to evolve.

“I hope you’ll stop and listen to your friends from here on, Raiju. If you see your friend is sick, I’ve got to know. I would’ve stopped if I knew,” Umbreon said.

“Okay, I admit I was wrong. Sorry Lute, sorry Anbi sir,” Raiju replied, hanging his head.

“Oh so now you apologize. Not the numerous times I kept telling you the same thing?” Flareon said.

“Well, Anbi’s the smart one, Cinder. We’ve got to listen to him.”

“And I’m not?”

“Oh you’re smart too! Just not as smart as Anbi.”

“Good grief.” Cinder rolled his eyes again.

“Now, Lute. I understand you were seasick the whole trip? I really wish you’d told me sooner. You still took notes and things, right?” Anbi asked as he addressed the Eevee directly.

“I did. Infia helped me out a lot, too,” he nodded.

“Thank you, Infia,” Anbi said. The Minun shifted away to hide her bright blush. “Pokémon used to travel the world on sailing ships like the one we used this weekend. Seasickness was a common thing for them.”

“Really? How did they cope?” Lute asked.

“Many ways, but most of them lived with it. Travelling by ship like this was the only way for many Pokémon to travel the ocean, so they didn’t have a choice. This was after the Lapras became a free species. And of course, now we don’t even rely on ships and sea travel anymore,” Anbi answered. He turned to the side. “The best way to learn history is to get experiences like this. I’ve always felt that it’s important to learn that way. The hardships Pokémon went through and why we elected to change those methods to make life easier for ourselves.”

“Wait is that all? Couldn’t we have just learnt about sailing ships some easier way?” Cinder asked.

“Yes, we could have. But you learnt about how they were built, how they work, and then got to experience life on one. That’s the best way to learn. Now, I hope you understand where Pokémon have come from when they decided to stop using these,” Anbi said.

Lute looked around at the ship’s details. “Even though I was seasick the whole time, I kind of liked this. We were close to the sea the whole time, and at night it was really pretty. The fact that Pokémon used to use this all the time… history is so interesting.”

“That’s the spirit, Lute!” Anbi cheered.

“You can be such a nerd sometimes,” Raiju groaned.

“I hope you feel the same way, Raiju. All of what we learnt here will be on next week’s test,” Anbi said, half-lidded.

Raiju’s fur stood on end. “Y-yes sir! I got it; I sure do.”

“You sure do,” Cinder said, half-lidded.

“Good. Then if you’ve got all your stuff packed, you’re all dismissed. I suggest one of you go with Lute so that he gets home safely.”

Lute groaned inside at that remark, and zoned out as he got himself ready for the trip home. It wasn’t to be a long one. He lived somewhere in the middle of the cosy town of Everend, an easy walk from the port. This area was such a simple and populated spot that there weren’t any feral Pokémon. The biggest danger was falling into the river that ran alongside the road, but to do that, you’d have to try to dive in.

History sounded dangerous in comparison. Dangerous but exciting. Apparently, Pokémon his age had to be walked home by their parents, traversing mystery dungeons filled with equal amounts of treasure, traps, and foes alike. Something like that would at least keep him awake during a casual school week.

Sadly, real life wasn’t like that. He only had his imagination and dreams to go off of. He sighed as he folded a scarf into a small bag, knowing that nothing of his interests would ever actually happen here. He’d just stroll home, wave to the neighbours, eat dinner, and then get ready to do it all again tomorrow. Not that he was complaining – things were exactly as they should be.

“There you are! Geez, I thought you said you were feeling better? You took four seconds too long!” Raiju cried once he stepped off the ship. “So how about it? Who’re you walking home with? It’s gonna be Infia, isn’t it? It’s Infia!”

“Sorry,” Lute groaned and swayed his head.

“Why would it- Raiju, this isn’t a competition,” Cinder said, putting him down. “That said, I live in the opposite direction, so…”

“Let’s just walk,” Lute shrugged.

“Nah-uh! What if you and Infia wanna spend quality time together?”

“R-Raiju!” Infia squeaked.

“I don’t need anyone to walk me home. You can come with me if you want, but there’s no need,” Lute ignored them to walk by.

“I think that means he wants her,” Raiju sung and nudged Infia. She immediately slapped him back.

“S-stop it! Why do you always have to be so… ugh, no!” the Minun pouted.

Lute turned to see her running away on all fours, and tilted his head. “What’s up with her?”

“Told you not to push her,” Cinder said, shook his head. “Look Raiju, just make sure Lute gets home okay, alright? I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

“Will do captain! See ya soon, too!” the Jolteon saluted. Lute glanced between the three of them until Infia was gone, confused until Raiju pulled him back along the main path.

The road back home was as quiet as expected. Fencing on the right to separate the road from the river, distant plain on the left that led to fields and the one-off farm, and then the soft, grainy road that led into the town. There were a few turns every now and then, but with such wide-open space and controlled greenery surrounding them, there was no worry of getting attacked or losing your way.

Lute lost himself in his thoughts while his friend yacked away nonstop, drowning out the topics of food and hot classmates in place of what he’d learnt on the trip. The idea that sailing ships were the standard was unheard of to him, so it sparked all kinds of visions in his mind. Were there roads marked along the sea somehow? Were there any mystery dungeons that a ship would need to go through? How did Pokémon other than quadruped Pokémon control them?

He sighed and leaned to the side as they reached a hill that let them look over the fence and the river. Maybe there were small ships specially made to travel down rivers or something. He was about to have fun with that thought, but something took his attention. Or rather, someone.

“Wait, that’s,” he whispered, scrambling to step back a few paces. He hopped up to lean over the fence, and there they were. A four-legged Pokémon stood on the other side of the boundary, right by the edge of the water. “There’s no reason to be there.”

“Huh? What’d you spot- oh my good Grookey there’s someone there!” Raiju cried, nearly falling over the fence. They both observed for a while, an inner concern growing as the figure edged closer and closer to the water.

“Wait, don’t go in!” Lute cried and climbed over the fence.

“Lute, what’re you doing?” Raiju pulled at him. “They probably just work there or something.”

“It doesn’t look like a water type. And Everend River is fine. Maybe they need our help?” he wondered.

“I er- look I’d wanna look around as much as the next guy, but the tide’s gonna come in, and you were just sick an’ all…”

“If the tide’s coming in, we’ve gotta get them!” Lute gasped, and jumped over fully. Raiju moved to follow him, but hesitated on top of the fence.

Lute slid down the hill on the other side of the fence, scratching himself on twigs and stems as they passed him. He reached the Pokémon in the nick of time thanks to that, finding them less than a centimetre from the water. “H-hey, is everything alright?”

The figure half turned at his voice. An Eeveelution for sure, though it wasn’t one Lute had seen before. On first inspection, it had all the features of a Sylveon: sleek, smooth, cream-coloured fur tipped with colour, and long, rounded ears. However, where there would be pink, this Sylveon was blue. Their eyes were a light burgundy.

The Sylveon look-a-like didn’t say anything. They didn’t blink or show any threat either, but one of its feelers went to their lips, as if telling Lute to hush. He didn’t know what to say anyway, and blankly stared back.

Content he wasn’t going to do anything, Sylveon returned to their task. This section of swampy ground stopped here, but continued on the other side of the river where it ran beneath the hill of the main path, creating a cave.

“I er,” Lute said, and then began to freak out inside as the Sylveon stepped forward. Rather than falling right into the water, bright light formed below their feet. The light enlarged into bright blue diamonds marked with cryptic symbols. These diamonds grew as Sylveon walked, creating a path that floated on the water and led right to the other side.

Lute scratched his eyes. Was he dreaming? Was he still back on the ship with Raiju and the others, sleeping off his seasickness? He had never met a blue Sylveon before, let alone one with magic powers like these. It wasn’t until the diamond platforms began to crack and fade away that he shook himself off and leapt across them.

“Lute wait! Lute!” Raiju cried as he skidded down to the spot where the Eevee just was. By the time he got there, Lute was on the other side keeping his eyes on the Sylveon. The platforms were gone. “What the heck’re you doing?”

“I-I’m gonna follow them. I’ll meet you back in town,” Lute called back, dismissing his friend to catch up.

What was he saying? This cave ran well away from town. He knew that from what the grownups had told him. And when the tide came in, the cave would be drowned, inaccessible by anyone other than water breathers. He was throwing himself into danger.

“Hey, excuse me, but—”

Sylveon didn’t need to turn around to silence him. Two feelers rose up and then stretched in his direction as he approached, snatching him around his waist. He was hoisted around to the Pokémon’s face, which was unimpressed.

“I thought I told you to be quiet?” Sylveon began, revealing her young voice. Considering her height and weighty shape, he wasn’t expecting her to sound around his age.

“Wa-wait, you’ve got to listen to me,” he objected, his feet scrambling to try and get out of her grip.

“I’ll drown you,” she threatened.

“It’s important! The tide’s going to come in,” he warned.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she sighed, dipping him into the water beside them.

Despite her warning, he didn’t prepare himself for that submerging. He coughed underwater as its chilling touch filled his mouth and nose, getting a hold of himself enough to grab her feelers around his waist. He gurgled and struggled to pull, very quickly getting to the state where he needed air at all costs. He focused mainly on trying to stretch his head up, but no matter how hard he strained, he couldn’t pull his head beyond the surface.

Sylveon stared down at him coldly, and he caught full glimpse of that. She didn’t even look like she was putting effort into holding him there. “If you promise to keep your mouth shut, I’ll let you out. Will you do that?”

He let out another cough of bubbles, but he nodded, and she kept her promise. He coughed and sputtered as she let him down behind her, making her roll her eyes. “So much keeping quiet. Now go home. And forget what you saw here.”

He opened his mouth to respond, but given what just happened, reconsidered. A quick glance back reminded him that the way he came now involved somehow beating the river’s current, making that a no-go. If this is still a dream, it’s turning into a nightmare.

“Stop breathing so heavily. You’ll draw attention to yourself,” she said, continuing on her way. Lute frowned, knowing he couldn’t do that one. Just being soaked like that made him feel like his lungs were shrivelling up.

He’d heard about this cave from adults, but he’d never actually been in it himself. It was a stark difference from the everyday path he was used to, with its lack of light, uneven flooring, and wild greenery. Everything was so soggy and muddy that his feet sunk with every step, like he was walking on a murky sponge that stained his feet. He couldn’t hear the wind either, only the running river and leaks from the ceiling.

Sylveon had no visible problem with trekking deeper inside, to his surprise. She walked with a light gait, avoiding falling into the mud even when she stopped to get her bearings. He wanted to moan about how she had that advantage, but she was far too busy making quick, snappy decisions about which way to go whenever they reached a turn.

He thought it would be an easy path that just ran alongside the river, but they were reaching hard, ninety-degree splits, some of which Sylveon didn’t seem to think twice on. Some ten minutes later, she stopped at a corner that was far darker than the others. It reeked of urine, here.

“So the callout was right. There are Pokémon here,” she mumbled. She coiled two feelers together and then quickly unfurled them to release an orb of energy that brightened the place up.

Lute couldn’t help but gasp. The natural swampiness of the cave was still present, but now there were pipes, tiled walls, and other stations of unrecognisable machinery. Two Pokémon spun around at the surprise lighting, both Frogadier smothered in mud.

“Ah! Wait, it’s just a bunch of kids,” one of them said. “L-listen. I dunno how you kids got here, but you shouldn’t be here. This here’s a mystery dungeon. Get out while you can.”

“This is a mystery dungeon?” Lute cried. Sylveon glanced back at him, and he clammed up again.

“Cut the small talk. You’re a little too close for my liking. So get out, or I’ll make you,” Sylveon ordered.

“Wait, I think we shouldn’t—” Lute said, silenced by another glare.

“There’s brave talk coming from a little girl. Respect your elders,” Frogadier snapped.

“Always with the little girl rubbish… the dated ones always end up being the ruffians,” Sylveon groaned. She stepped closer to the frog Pokémon. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“We’re the ones who warned you!” the Frogadier shouted as they leapt toward her. Lute cried out and turned tail, but there was no need.

Sylveon tripped up the first one, whipping it with one feeler and shifting aside to make it leap past her. Then she revealed more of her magic on the second one, holding one feeler in front of her as if to guard her face. Similar to the diamond platforms she made earlier, a shiny shield formed around the feeler, which the Frogadier crashed into. The shield was bigger than his height, letting her use it to bash his face and knock him away.

“Wha-what?” Lute whispered and scratched his eyes again.

Sylveon dealt with any attack that Frogadier threw at her with this magic shield, effortlessly blocking Bubble Beam and Smack Down alike. He watched in awe until the first enemy got up and growled at him, making him freak out. “Wait wait wait I’m not- ahh!”

The next Bubble Beam was fired at him, so he dove away. He fell right into the muck and cringed, disgusted by it sticking to his mane and underside. That left him open to a second attack that pinned him face first into the mud, and he had a spitting fit. Up his nose and even tasting it a bit, he couldn’t have felt sicker.

“Forget it bro, she’s way too strong!” One of the Frogadier called out. “We weren’t finding anything here anyway. We’ve gotta move closer to the temple!”

“Got it. You know what to do. Pull the switch!” his comrade commanded. He turned to Lute and backed off. “You got lucky this time, kid. Or maybe not. Whatever. Next time you’ll respect your elders!”

They hopped away after that, but not without pulling the largest lever attached to the machines they were working on earlier. Sylveon allowed them to, and relieved her shield when it was clear they were gone. For the first time since Lute started following her, she inspected the machines with curiosity on her face, though she didn’t make any comments.

“Urgh, it’s all over my mane and tail… Mum will never let me hear the end of it at this rate,” Lute complained, getting Sylveon’s attention. She gave him a snarky smile. “Hey it’s not funny! I stink now, too.”

“I didn’t think that ordinary civilians were that afraid of Spirle,” she commented.

“Wait, those two were from Spirle? Are we thinking of the same Spirle?” Lute gasped.

“They were only grunts. At the end of the day, they were no better at fighting than the average Pokémon,” she said. A sudden rumbling set off another round of panicked squeals from Lute, making Sylveon roll her eyes. “For goodness sake.”

A wave of water high enough to cover their feet brushed over them. Sylveon looked up at Lute with widened eyes for only a moment, and then a whole torrent of river water came right at them, forcing her to act fast. She only managed to form her magic shield again before they were both taken off their feet and deep into a powerful current.

For Lute, all he could do was brace himself for the worst. He kicked his feet to try to ascend, but the water forced him down. His efforts resulted in him gurgling, flipping, and spinning, crashing into walls every now and then. He had no idea what was going on or where he was being sent. His eyes were shut the whole time and his body was in a constant panic.

What felt like minutes later, things seemed to calm down. He was still deep in the freezing, dirty river water, but he had stopped flipping, left with his head upside-down. Struggling for breath, he made a desperate break for the surface. It didn’t look like there was one, but he went there anyway.

A thin air pocket. A small space where the water didn’t fill just big enough for him to fit his head into. With all the soiled plants hanging from the ceiling too, he could hold on and hang there, half submerged in water. He breathed frantically, claustrophobic from being forced to keep himself here. He knew he couldn’t stay here, either. Not with the water still trying to pull him along.

“Sylveon! Raiju? Someone, please!” he screamed at the top of his voice. He gave in after a few more desperate twitches, and took the deepest breath he could muster.

Back underwater, the current had weakened but still felt difficult to swim against. He let it push him along while he scouted for the Sylveon, but all he could see were bubbles and dirt swirling around in the water. The actual riverbed was indented into the floor below, where rocks jutted out. He hugged one to stay in place and look around properly, finally spotting the mysterious fairy type. Her head was lodged right into the mud at the deepest level, where only her feet were showing.

He made a sound of shock and kicked off the rock to swim down to her. By the time he reached her, he felt his chest beginning to tighten, telling him to find his way back to that air pocket. He glanced up to check where it was, but he couldn’t see it.

After I free her, he told himself, grabbing her hind legs. Her head wouldn’t come free as easily as it looked, and he began to panic. Please, gods please!

He positioned himself on the slippery wall beside him and gripped her waist properly, pulling so hard it earnt a growl, and then a gasp as soon as she came free. Lute cringed with the hard swallow of water that came with that. He clenched his eyes shut, his feet scrambled, and his whole body began to ache like nothing he’d ever felt as large bubbles escaped from his gurgles.

Fortunately for him, the current had pulled them both along after he freed Sylveon, allowing him to latch onto her. She floated toward the surface as the current carried them both, so all he had to do was fight unconsciousness and resist all the ache that surged through him.

It seemed to last forever. His eyelids were forced themselves closed as his mouth refused to do the same, letting out gurgling coughs that sparked the aches in his muscles. His body just wanted to do everything it shouldn’t do when he was trying to avoid drowning. He felt like he was breathing water until they finally floated up to a surface. The instant he felt his head come free, he let out a gasp and coughing fit that he wasn’t sure was ever going to end.

The river still carried them, but it was slow enough to gain some control. It hurt to breathe, so Lute focused on reaching the nearest floor he could, and pulled the unconscious Sylveon with him. He couldn’t regain his breath even though he leaned against the floor, so he brought up enough strength to throw Sylveon up onto the muddy floor. He joined her a moment later, and collapsed beside her as an aching heap. Here, he was happy to give in to his body’s urges and pass out.
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Episode 2: Aspirations


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
2 Sophitia SOHD.png

Episode 2: Aspirations

When Lute came to, he was repulsed by the state he was in. His fur was sticky, drenched, and marked all over with stains of the mud and moss. He brushed and shook himself off as much as he could, but it made little difference. Once his lack of energy made itself apparent, he focused and looked around. He was still in the cave by the river, but it looked like the current had calmed right down compared to earlier. The water didn’t look as deep, either.

“Wait, Sylveon,” he whispered, searching the ground for her. She wasn’t too far from him; though she was just as dirty, still unconscious but breathing. On closer inspection, her head had some red marks beneath her drooping, messy head fur. Lute dared to move that fur out of the way, revealing an awful cut.

“She’s still bleeding?” he gasped and began to panic a bit. He was surprised to find his bag poking out of the mud near where he woke up, but he thanked the almighty he found it and rummaged through it. It was a waterproof drawstring bag that he’d gotten his mother to sew tighter for him, letting it seal airtight. Thanks to that, his scarf and souvenirs inside were untouched, if a little damp and cold.

He didn’t think twice to grab the scarf. He struggled to move Sylveon around thanks to her size, but sitting her up so that his hind legs held her head straight let him concentrate on tying the scarf around her head. He barely got to tying the actual knot when she started to squirm and moan however, and he slowed down.

“Are you?” he muttered. Her eyes slowly opened, meeting his face upside-down. That made her blink, and then she noticed his legs beside her face.

“Argh what the heck!” she cried, throwing herself upwards. Her forehead hit his chin hard, and then the two were stumbling around in tears and pain. “A-ah… what was that for?”

“What’s that for? Why did you do that?” he cried, realising he was getting more dirt on his face. “Gah, no! But it hurts…”

“I mean what do you think you’re doing? Eek, ow,” she squeaked, retracting a paw from her head. A feeler went to touch it next, which only made her cringe.

“Y-yeah, er… your head was bleeding a bit so I was going to use my scarf to help or something,” he calmed down.

“Your scarf… a scarf is not a bandage!” she cried, pulling a feeler away to reveal the light mark of blood. “Damn it’s bleeding and everything… what’d I do to get that?”

“You hit your head really hard when we fell in the river, I think. I found you at the bottom, passed out,” Lute informed.

“When we fell in the river,” Sylveon mumbled blankly. She looked around, then back at him and grit her fangs. “What the hell?”

“What?” he flinched.

“When ‘we’ fell in the river? What the heck were you doing with me that brought me to this dank, dark… I don’t even know where we are. What is this place? Were you trying to do funny stuff with me?” she replied. She stomped with her steps, quickly realising she’d sunk her feet into the mud. “Argh it’s gross!”

“Wait but I- you,” Lute trailed off, staring at her.


“I was f-following you! You were by the river and used that magic to cross the water. I got stuck with you until you confronted those Spirle Frogadier, and then all this water came in and swamped us over here. We barely made it,” he explained, shaking his paws. Sylveon looked more and more lost with every word.

“I dunno what you’re talking about, but just- okay, whatever. I’m gettin’ outta here,” she dismissed. She searched side to side briefly, and then stumbled off. She chose to walk in the opposite direction the river was heading in.

“That’s the wrong way!” he cried with a paw stuck out.

“Oh yeah? How do you know?” She challenged.

“We were carried by the river. That means we’ll be going back on ourselves if we go in the opposite direction of the current. If we follow the current, we’ll reach wherever the river meets the sea,” he explained. “But I know this cave, too. If we can get out of the cave, we can find our way back to town.”

“Then I’m counting on you, genius,” she replied, strolling toward him. Lute watched until she was right behind him, where she slapped him lightly with a feeler. “Well then? Get moving if you know the way out.”

“I just… wait I’m so confused. Why am I leading now?” he cocked his head.

“Because you’re the one that got me into this mess, you’re the one that knows the way out, so therefore, you’re the one that’s gonna take responsibility and get me out,” Sylveon reasoned, half lidded. “And don’t try anything funny. I know how to snap necks.”

Lute cringed at the thoughts that put in his head. He couldn’t help but feel bullied by the statement, but when he turned to start their trek, he realised that part of it was true. This Sylveon was clearly very powerful and was busy taking on some important mission. If he had actually listened to her rather than worrying about his own judgement, he wouldn’t have gotten stuck in the river cave and she wouldn’t have had to account for him when dealing with those Frogadier.

Still, one problem at a time. Right now, he needed to keep walking and find that exit. He was either going to throw up thanks to the amalgamation of stenches, or not knowing whether it was mud or dung his feet kept sinking into. He felt hungry, weak, dirty, and above all else, worried about what was going to happen next. Suddenly not knowing was the scariest thing.

“Are… you going to tell me why you came here?” he asked after a while of walking. There was barely a change in the surroundings.

“That’s a funny question to ask. But I’m fairly sure it’s none of your business,” she answered.

He went quiet for a moment. “What’s your name?”

“Also a funny question to ask. But this time, it’s just because you’ve got to tell me yours, first,” she said, a light smile showing on her face.

“I’m Lute, Lute Violets. I’m a student at Everend school, in my last year,” he introduced with his own light smile. Phew, we’re getting somewhere now.

“Lute. That’s… a good name. I’ll remember it,” she replied. She started to slow down, and raised her head. She murmured a few thoughts when Lute slowed down for her, and then grabbed her head with a feeler. “I… can’t think straight. You’ll have to forgive me.”

“Is your head still hurting? My scarf’s still clean, if you want to use it,” Lute suggested.

“Not it’s not that, it’s… I… don’t know. I-I can’t think of my own name right now,” she said, downing her ears. “Oh gods, I don’t know my own name, I don’t know why or how I’m here, I–”

“Whoa, are you okay?” he gasped.

“I am I just, I honestly can’t freaking remember anything. I just,” she stuttered as she came to a complete halt. “This is a mystery dungeon.”

“Huh?” Lute turned back to the surroundings.

The cave had begun to slope and open out, creating a room with the indented river running through the middle. Several paths split all over, and an influx of Rattata could be heard scuttling around. Most of them blended in with the dark colours, so each little hint of their presence made his fur cold.

“Is this really what a mystery dungeon looks like? This is impossible,” Lute mumbled.

“Well here we are. You said you know this place though, so I’m still counting on you,” Sylveon stated.

“I know the cave, but mystery dungeons aren’t supposed to exist anymore. We have the technology to get rid of them!” he cried.

Sylveon’s face tensed. “The technology? What’re you on about now?”

“The authorities got a grip on mysteriosity waves and now control them. Because of that, they were able to stop terrain from shifting and creating these dangerous dungeons,” Lute explained.

“Well we can clearly see that this is a mystery dungeon. There’s no arguing that. So less questioning, more getting outta here,” she said.

He opened his mouth to respond but realised that she was right again. Thankfully for her, this wasn’t a situation he didn’t know how to deal with. Well, he had never been in a mystery dungeon before, but being so obsessed with them meant he knew a thing or two about them. Like how the layouts may have been random but could be exploited to find the exit quicker, or that the corridors were the worst places to be.

This dungeon was in the middle of Everend Cave’s main path. Therefore, if we keep following the river, even the mystery dungeon won’t be able to distort the natural geometry, he thought as he examined the room. Surely enough, the path of the water followed its own corridor, and one that looked like the path they had been following thus far. He nodded sternly and trotted off, prompting Sylveon to follow.

“Confident strut, watertight bag… you look like you know what you’re doing,” she praised with a cocky smirk.

“I’m just going by the river theory I had before. Even if a mystery dungeon somehow formed, it can’t stop the river’s natural path. It can only distort it a bit,” he reasoned.

“See that honestly makes no sense to me. Aren’t mystery dungeons natural? They’re dungeons!” she remarked.

“It’s just technology stuff. I don’t fully get it myself, but we don’t have them anymore,” Lute explained with a sway of his head. “Apparently, mystery dungeons used to be all over the world of Aseria. But scientists got to understand how they work and how to stop them from being so convoluted. Eventually, we turned them into normal caves and forests, where we then got to turn them into normal places where Pokémon can live. So Aseria’s not supposed to have any mystery dungeons in it.”

“And you know this because… being a scientist is your dream?” she asked, a hint of smugness in her tone.

“Being a hero! That’s what I wanna be more than anything in the world!” he bounced excitedly. He stopped when the mud below him splashed.

“A hero?” she repeated.

“Yeah! There’s this really cool team of Pokémon called the Agents of King’s Shield. They help Pokémon all over the world by rescuing them and fighting criminals and stuff!” he said with the world’s brightest smile. “They have the funnest adventures, and all of them are so cool. It’s been my dream to join them and have those adventures too, helping Pokémon in need. That’s why I do my best to learn all about the past and the battles they—”

“Alright alright. But less like a superhero and more like a nerd using science and logic to save the day,” she said, rubbing her head with a feeler. Why does all this seem new to me? If he’s not lying and I came here, then how comes I?

“S-sorry. Yeah I guess. I learnt all about mystery dungeons even though they’re not in our world anymore because I find it all interesting and stuff,” he snickered.

“Well once again, we’re in one. So it kinda paid off,” she shrugged. She began to pant and her vision blurred. If it wasn’t for her stopping to try and get a hold of herself, she wouldn’t have noticed the camouflaged Rattata sneaking their way around her. She tried to flinch when she realised where they were headed, but barely managed greater than a stumble. “Lute, stop!”

“Huh? Are you okay?” he asked.

“In front of us! Right in front of us!” she cried.

Her tone made Lute spin around and cry out, but thankfully he picked up on them before he stepped into their trap. The mud-covered Rattata had bundled together a few paces in front of them, and were barely visible thanks to the darkness. He could just about make out the sheen of their fangs and eyes when the rodents glared at him. Each Pokémon was only half his size, but with so many of them together, they resembled a swarm of bug types.

“Waah, do they want to fight us?” he cried.

“You idiot of course they do. They’re feral Pokémon! Knock ‘em all aside with a wide attack,” Sylveon stretched her feet apart.

Lute hesitated and tried not to look too afraid of them. A few teeth gnashed together and then three Rattata lunged at once, latching onto his mane. He wailed like a baby as he shook them off and fled back to Sylveon’s side. They barely hurt as much as he thought they would since they only hit his looser fur, but he was still left shivering.

“Get it together! Use Swift or something,” she ordered, stepping backward. The Rattata screeched at them, so she growled back. “Damn feral rats.”

“I-I—” Lute stammered.

“Please don’t tell me you can’t do Swift.”

“I-I’ve never been in a real fight before!”

“I thought you said you wanted to be a hero?” she cried. She shook her head and leapt forward, keeping her eyes on the snarling rats. “Forget it, I’ll take care of this.”

“S-Sylveon!” Lute cried. He leaned out to her, only to be reminded that his worries were unfounded. The same three Rattata darted toward her with Quick attack, but were felled by an easy slap from one of her feelers. She tried to hop to the side to dodge a few others that jumped at her afterwards, but the mud slowed her down and they managed to latch to her side. She winced but pulled them off as if she didn’t get bitten at all, resisting the pain of their Bite attacks.

Sylveon moved to use an attack, but instead stumbled forward as if she tripped up. The Rattata even moved out of the way in expectation of an attack flying out, but nothing came but a curse and a furious look on Sylveon’s face.

“S-Sylveon?” Lute gasped.

“I don’t remember my moves! What’s your excuse?” she shouted without looking back. The enemies exchanged a quick conversation, and then gathered together to lunge at her again. She guarded her face, but they bit into her feelers and dealt more damage.

“Oooh, please work,” Lute muttered.

He tensed up and then shook himself to channel his energy into his front paws. Bright stars flashed beneath them, and with a high jump into the air, he threw those stars toward the enemies. There were only two stars at the time of charging, but out came a whole flurry of them; white, flickering, five-pointed stars of energy that showered the Rattata in flashes and blasts. They squeaked and fled back into the dungeon in a flash.

“S-see? Was that so difficult?” Sylveon said, her head hung.

“I-I didn’t think I was strong enough to… I got lucky because they were so small and scared,” Lute blinked at the fleeing Rattata.

“We should go before they come back. Or any other feral Pokémon,” Sylveon huffed between words.

“Are you okay? O-one of them must’ve been poisonous, oh no!”

“It’s not poison damn it,” she raised her voice. She ended on a groan and stumbled side to side, coming to halt by leaning on the wall. Her feelers all wrapped around her body and her face was was pale. “I don’t seem to have any strength left. I could barely walk before but now I…”

“Oh no… They must’ve all used Super Fang,” Lute cocked his head.

“Super Fang?” she replied.

“It strikes nerve points to drain away half the energy of the target,” he explained. “If all of them used it, it’d take away so much energy!”

“… I think it’s just that I’m ready to pass out from hunger,” she groaned. “Walk already. We better be close to getting out.”

“O-oh. I don’t have any snacks with me th—”

“Just walk!”

He definitely felt guilty, now. She groaned as she followed him, trying to drown out what sounded like her stomach growling. Thinking about it now, he felt far hungrier than usual, too. Goodness knows what the time was. The cold wind could only hint of sometime late in the evening. It was that discomforting cold that came from an autumn night where it would hint of the oncoming winter.

Then it hit him. The wind. His eyes widened, he walked faster, and followed it. He could do so because the mud began to level out and became shallow. The damp air became dryer the closer he got, too.

“Please tell me that’s the exit,” Sylveon said. He was doing the same but had to squint to realise that the cave mouth was looking out into the distance. He could barely tell due to it being so far away and blurry.

“Yes!” Lute broke into a gasp once they reached the exit. They found themselves in a quiet plain that didn’t have much to it besides the largest open space he’d ever seen. The world mostly went downhill from here, providing a vast view of the surrounding grassland. That was all they could see on almost all sides, pure grassland with the river swerving through it.

At the furthest distance, something tall and sturdy could just about be made out. It stretched beyond the clouds, only visible due to being a different colour to the night-time sky. In the direct opposite direction was the town that Lute recognised, putting a jolly smile on his face.

“That’s it, there’s Everend. We’re almost home!” he bounced happily.

Sylveon walked around him to get a good look herself. It was dark and cloudy, so most of the town was only tall silhouettes with warm window glows. She stared for a while and then gazed around at everything else, an entranced look plastered all over her face.

“I er… erm,” Lute spoke up. She didn’t look like she had his attention. “You… you’ve lost your memory, but you know where to go, don’t you?”

“I don’t. It’s weird, but it’s almost like… it doesn’t make any sense, but it really feels like this is the first time I’ve ever seen the world,” she stated. “I’m gonna faint if I don’t eat, too.”

“Come with me!” Lute suggested. She stared at him straight faced. “It’s sort of my fault that we got lost in Everend Cave like that. I can’t just leave you like this, either. I’m sure Mum will help, and even if she doesn’t, I’ll make it up to her. Plus…”

“… Plus?” she replied.

“… Back there, I’ve never had an experience like that before. I like, actually got to do something heroic because of you. A battle, an exploration, a rescue… Was it really Spirle you were after?” he wondered.

“I don’t know. I don’t remember,” she answered. “But either way, you’re such a kid”

“Please let me stick with you!” he raised his voice and bounced up to her height. “If I stick with you, I can help you get your memory back. I want to, especially if it leads to more exciting things like that.”

She turned to the side to stare at the town. “It’s not like I have a choice.”

Lute took a breath and looked down. “You do. I’m sure you’ll remember stuff soon. I’ll do everything I can to help.”

“Where do I even start?” she asked.

“We’ll give you a place to stay, then we can worry about that later. But for now, you need food, and I’m sure Mum’s freaking out about me right now,” he explained.

“If you’re really okay with it, then okay. Thank you, Lute,” she said with a bowed. I can’t believe this… this feels so uncool.

“Follow me! This is gonna be so much fun,” Lute cheered as he hopped away towards the town. He was laughing with glee, bringing her mouth to the floor.

“Seriously?” she cried as she rushed after him. Whatever’s actually going on, he’s right. I’m here now, I don’t remember anything, not even what the world looks like. All I have to work with is what Pokémon tell me and what I see.

She slowed down into a casual walk, but kept a few paces behind him. I can figure something out with this. I know I can. Why I was in that cave going after those… Spirle Frogadier, he called them. Whoever I am, I’ll figure it out.


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Episode 3: Infia


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
3 Marina.jpg

Episode 3: Infia

“I’m impressed, Lute. You managed to do somethin’ crazier than me!” Raiju cried as he threw himself over the Eevee to nuzzle him. Lute squirmed and threw him off, but not before a light crackle of static made his fur stand on end. “O-oops. Sorry.”

Lute and Sylveon had gotten home much later into the night than they expected, somewhere near midnight. Marina, Lute’s mother, had been waiting for him outside the house with bated breath. Raiju had told her what happened to him, and since then, the Vaporeon had been restless. A few anxious shouts and motherly rambles later, and the lot of them had calmed down.

“And this is her,” Marina said, turning to Sylveon. Sylveon struggled to stare back. She looked so weak that it was a wonder she was still standing. “Goodness, Lute! You’re not what I call a troublemaker, but when you make trouble, you really put me in it, you know?”

“A-ah, I just… sorry. But I really don’t know what else we can do. Please Mum, we have to help her,” he begged.

“That’s not what I meant,” Marina turned back to Lute. “Couldn’t you have at least found fruit or something on the way home? I’m going to have to prepare a meal, and at this hour.”

“Oh. uh—” he leaned away.

“Yes, that means she can stay. Now go in and get something for her before she passes out!”

Lute lay back in a dog bed unable to stop thinking about it. It was hard to believe everything that had happened, but it did, and he was being made to treat it as though it were a normal occurrence. Sylveon slept in her own bed on the opposite side of his bedroom, which he was now being made to share. Two days had passed since she’d been allowed to live there, and her messy nature was already showing.

He couldn’t sleep, so he got up to tiptoe to her side of the room. She was sprawled out in a position he was sure would give her aches in the morning, surrounded by many of his old toys and anything else she’d taken apart in his room.

The night after she arrived, Marina named her ‘Sophitia’, which the Sylveon happily accepted as a name. The two days afterwards, Marina had the two of them doing chores while she rearranged the house so that the new addition could live with them. Only Marina left the house, and no one new came to visit. He yawned in silence, stretched, and then slumped back into bed. Sophitia might’ve been happy with this casual reaction, but he wasn’t.

“Something bothering you?” Sophitia asked, making him tremble. He didn’t realise she was awake. “Don’t try anything funny. I’m letting you look after me, but that doesn’t mean touching me in my sleep.”

“Ew, why would I even want to?” Lute hissed.

“Excuse me?” she replied.

“No, I mean- that’s just creepy. Forget it,” he said. She made a stifled giggle. “I just thought we’d be trying to find out who you really are or something. I was hoping that’d feel more like an adventure, but it’s just… us at home. It’s boring.”

“Ah, so you’re bored. But who is this whole thing about?” she asked.

“… You, of course,” Lute mumbled.

“Exactly. Sorry this isn’t super exciting for you. If anything, once I get back on my feet, I’m outta here,” she stated.

“You want to leave?” he said, getting up.

“If I remember who I am, I will. So don’t get used to me. Right now, I’m just in your way,” she added.

“But you’re—”

“That’s all for now. Get some sleep,” she said. He groaned as he laid back down.

The next morning…

“School?” Lute and Sophitia cried.

“Yes. Back to school for both of you,” Marina ordered. “Hurry up and get washed, breakfast will be waiting for you on the table.”

“I mean I understand him, but me?” Sophitia pointed to herself. Marina giggled.

“Maybe you don’t believe it, but you and Lute are the same age. It just makes sense to put you both in,” Marina reasoned.

“What’re you gonna ship us or something? I’ve got more important things to do!” Sophitia raised her voice.

“Wait, Sophitia? You’re the same age as me?” Lute gasped.

“And going to school ought to refresh your memory of the way this place works. Even if it doesn’t, it’s a legal requirement of me as your guardian to ensure you’re in education,” Marina informed, ignoring Lute.

“You’re my parent now?” Sophitia gasped.

“Guardian. Carer. Whichever one you like best,” Marina said with a smile. “Now hurry up! Or I’ll burn your pancakes.”

“Burn my- I call dibs on first bath!” Sophitia squeaked and leapt away.
“Wa-wait, I gotta use the bathro- Sophitia!” Lute cried, getting barged out of the way. He lunged after her and the two began to squabble and push each other aside. Sophitia got the upper hand thanks to her feelers, and locked him out of the room. “Sophitia, I mean it! I gotta go!”

“You’re a guy. Just hold it!” she called from behind the door.

“Easy for you to say,” he grumbled. Marina turned and snickered to herself.

The morning would proceed to be as eventful as that from there on. Sophitia had apparently never seen a bathroom for Eeveelutions before and so took longer than necessary, stole some of Lute’s breakfast, and all the while Lute took too long to reorganize his belongings and wash. Before long, the two of them were sprinting through Everend to get to school on time, all the time squealing and barking arguments at each other. Sophitia still had a half-eaten pancake sticking out of her mouth by the time they arrived, and swallowed before entering the school grounds.

The school was one of the tallest buildings in Everend, even though it was only two floors high by the looks of things. It was widely fenced in by a playground and park, and located somewhere in the middle of the town. She followed Lute, but even with that, it would take a while to remember exactly how to get there from Marina’s house.

The thing that was more confusing to her was the blatant mismatch of theme. The playground and field school was mainly made up of wood; cleverly constructed apparatus built into soil and the like, exactly as she expected a children’s park to look. The school building looked like something out of a sci-fi dream however, a perfectly square block made of metal and glass that was so shiny her reflection could be seen on it. It didn’t even look good to her.

“Well, we’re here. It’s all you, Lute!” Sophitia said.

“Wait what?” he replied, as she walked around to follow from behind.

“You’re the returning student, I’m the new one. I’m counting on you to show me around, buddy,” she pointed out.

“Oh. Right. Yeah, I can do that,” he said with shifty eyes. “Well you’ve obviously seen the playground and stuff. The gates get locked, so you’ve gotta jump pretty high to get out when lessons are in progress. Don’t try to.”

“Well duh. Why’d I wanna leave?” she raised an eyebrow.

“There’s a field on the other side we use to practice Pokémon moves, too,” he smiled.

“You guys practice attacks? But wait, didn’t you say you don’t know how to battle?” she asked.

“I don’t. I wish I did,” he hung his head. “But not all Pokémon moves have to be used for battle. If you knew Quick Attack, we wouldn’t have just made it on time.”

“Oh ha ha.

“Er, I’ll show you inside, too,” he continued, leading the way in. The main doors slid open automatically, making Sophitia flinch. She seemed reluctant to follow until he noticed her fall behind, where she skipped after him.

The interior was nearly as outlandish as she felt the exterior looked. Smooth floors, hard, decorated walls, and electronic lights and devices lined the atrium and hallways. Rooms had glass for the walls and doorways, lightly decorated with thin strips of silver. Only one door looked like an actual door, and even then, it was without a handle.

“How do you get in here?” she asked, jaw dropped at it.

“That’s just a storage room, I think. It’s for grownups, they get in with a card key,” he said.

“A card key?”

He hopped up to tap on the card reader beside the door. “Haven’t you ever seen a card reader before?”

“Uh, hello? Memory loss?” she slapped her head. He seemed confused.

“But this is normal stuff. Unless where you come from, they don’t have card readers,” he commented.

“They don’t have half the stuff you’ve shown me. Or it all feels new and weird to me, anyway,” she turned away. “Okay, never mind that, then. Just show me your—”

A loud jingle sounded through the hallway, drowning out her voice completely. She cringed at the volume and glanced up at the speakers the song came from. “Okay, that’s just annoying. Is that your fancy technology, too?”

“It’s just the bell to tell us class is starting. It’s loud at first, but you’ll get used to it,” he said cheerfully.

“I think that means I’ll go deaf, first,” she grumbled, half-lidded.

“We’re on the second floor. This way,” Lute jogged away.

They needed to reach the end of the hallway to climb stairs, which only led to a hallway nearly identical to the ground floor one. The silver strips were metallic red here, while the walls were now windows that looked outside at Everend. Most of the students were already in their classrooms, evident only by the muffled sound of adult voices starting their lectures. There was another storage room here too, again lacking a handle and opening via card key.

“Lute!” Raiju’s voice screamed the moment he slid the door to their class open. Before either could move, Lute was tackled down and nuzzled.

“Ra-Raiju? Quit it, you’ll—”

It was too late. Raiju’s nuzzling turned into an actual Nuzzle attack, and the two become a sizzling heap of electricity. Sophitia had to stifle a laugh after as she stumbled away from their messy heap. “Oh. Oops.”

“Honestly Raiju, you’re such a dolt. The kid almost drowned a few days ago and you greet him by shocking him to death?” Cinder joined them after a moment. The Flareon seemed unbothered by Raiju’s cheeky smile as he helped Lute stand up. “Are you really okay to be back at school so soon?”

“Nothing that bad actually happened. I slept a lot and had to wash well, but that’s all. Sophitia here, too,” he replied, turning to introduce her.

“Sophitia?” Raiju replied. “Oh my wow, it’s you! It’s really you! The blue Sylveon!”

“Ah, I just realised,” Cinder gawked at her. He started strafing her, making her shift away.

“Um, hello? Kinda rude to check someone out like that?” she commented with a little blush.

“Sorry. I’ve never seen a blue Sylveon before, let alone a shiny Pokémon! I’m not normally like this, please forgive me!” Cinder gasped. He shook himself off, stood tall and bowed his head. He stood tall and bowed his head. “My name is Cinder. Cinder Landaway. I’m a classmate of Lute’s and a close friend. A pleasure to meet you.”

“Wait, a shiny Pokémon?” one of the surrounding students gasped.

“Shiny Pokémon? Like, the ones with the fancy fur?”

“It’s the new student! It has blue fur and everything!”

“What’s a shiny Pokémon doing here?”

Sophitia looked over him at the gathering crowd of curious faces, all from Pokémon of various species. There wasn’t a theme amongst them. Some were even older, some younger, and all of different types.

“I, er… am I supposed to do something?” she asked, sweating heavily. All those eyes on her made her feel like she was going to melt, all until she noticed one student who hadn’t come out to greet her. A tiny Minun a little shorter than Lute and clothed all over. Geez, she’s got the whole package. Head fur, shirt, skirt, even underwear… is she supposed to be Miss Perfect?

“Five,” a deep tone got her attention. An Umbreon behind the pack of crowding students was gradually counting down with a furious, sinister glare on his face. “Four.”

“Uh-um, guys?” Lute tried to warn. The class only got rowdier, squashing Lute and friends in the doorway. As Umbreon got closer, black energy surrounded him like flames, causing his red eyes to glow. “G-guys, seriously, we—”

“Zero,” the Umbreon’s voice echoed, finally getting everyone’s attention. His energy channelled into his right paw, which was raised high up to resemble a scythe. “What the hell is this?”

Whatever move was used, it created a blast that sent every Pokémon flying. Despite it being a dark attack, even Sophitia found herself shivering on the floor in a heap with everyone else, her eyes swirling from dizzy disbelief.

“Th-that’s Anbi, our teacher… his Foul Play packs a punch,” Lute said weakly.

“I can tell,” she gurgled.

“Right, now that that’s all sorted, I hope I never see you all act like that again,” Anbi began. They each had their own cushions to sit on. “Let’s start easy. We’ll have the new student introduce herself properly.”

“Yeah. This is guaranteed to go well,” Sophitia mumbled.

“Just do your best. You just need to say your name,” Lute said, smiling.

“Easy for you, kiddo,” she added as she walked over to stand beside the Umbreon. She could get a good look at everyone from here, and gained some confidence at their jolly appearances. They looked as hearty and inexperienced as Lute did, and to her, that meant she could deal with them and whatever they tried. Pancham, Dedenne, Vivillon and then Lute and his friends were all that made up this class, meaning her job was easier than she realised.

And then her eyes locked to the Minun from earlier, who realised they were staring and looked away. The moment that happened, some newfound feelings awoke within her. Her heart sped up, her mind unsettled, and pressure filled the air around her. Despite all of that, Sophitia didn’t feel uncomfortable or scared, more so concerned. It was a tingly feeling that came from her ribbon-like feelers, as if they were antennae warning her of some recognisable threat.

“As you can see, this new student is a daydreamer. She’s got a nice body, though that doesn’t mean you can daydream about it,” Anbi said. It took Sophitia a few seconds to realise what had just been said.

“Wh-what? Wait what?” she gasped.

“Good, you’re paying attention. You were staring,” he stated. Sophitia blinked, and then turned back to the class.

“Eheh, sorry about that. I’m Sophitia, Lute’s temporary roommate. I’ve come from far away, so I’m not very familiar with a lot of stuff around here. I hope you’ll have me,” she said, laughing awkwardly. “Don’t underestimate me, though.”

“The feeling’s mutual. Thank you, Sophitia,” Anbi smiled at her. She gawked back.

Is this guy really the teacher? she thought to herself as she returned to her spot with the other kids.

“Since we have a new student and Lute is back with us, we’ll have a bit of a refresher period. You remember our project, right Lute?”

“Yes. Aserian history and the discovery of the V-Wave,” he answered, beginning to smile.

“Good, you haven’t been slacking off. We moved on to how to utilise the V-Wave, as well as how it was used in the past. General summary: back then, Pokémon merely used it to power up their attacks, whereas now, it powers virtually every single piece of technology we use in our day-to-day lives,” Anbi explained.

What the heck is a V-Wave, and how does it power stuff? Sophitia thought.

“That’s the best question you could’ve asked, Sophitia. I’m so glad you’re interested,” Anbi said. She flinched and gawked at him.

“D-d-don’t read my mind, if you can! If you can, I’m outta here!” she gasped.

“Don’t worry, I’m just good at reading faces. The V-Wave is an elemental energy that flows through the atmosphere of our planet. It matches any of the eighteen known types a Pokémon can be, powering up their moves and abilities,” Anbi proudly explained. He began to pace. “As time went by, scientists began to experiment with this strange, atmospheric phenomenon. They came to learn all sorts of fascinating things about it, but the main benefit was the ability to draw energy from V-Waves. With that energy, we could create technology that could enhance the lives of Pokémon. All kinds of technology, from sailboats to ovens, to even the lights on this very ceiling – they all use V-Waves to function.”

Sophitia looked up at said lights. The energy we use to power attacks and abilities is also being used to power machinery… why does that thought fill me with dread?

“We’ve also managed to prove that the V-Wave is infinite! It’s a wonderful part of our planet’s nature. It flows everywhere. The sky, the sea, you name it,” Anbi continued. “What type the waves favour is like the weather, changing with the seasons, cycling through each of our Pokémon types. If the wave favours your type, you might just wake up feeling like you can take on the world!”

“But Anbi sir, the V-Waves are affecting the climate. The seasons have been declining, haven’t they?” Raiju asked, bouncing up.

“’Declining’ isn’t quite the way to put it. The transition from Winter to Spring has been taking noticeably longer the past few years, but that’s a totally unrelated case. The scientists have already confirmed that that has nothing to do with the V-Wave,” Anbi answered.

Does it? Abusing an energy that naturally flows through the air seems like it’d have just that kind of side-effect. But does he literally mean seasons as in… hot weather? Cold weather? Does the V-Wave really not have an effect on that? Sophitia started to get a bit tense.

She wouldn’t get an answer to her question, however. The lecture and activities would go on to talk more about the world’s history from there on. It was slow and difficult due to being dumped right in the middle of their current subject, but she still managed to take part and get work done with the help of the other students.

Then, when lunch rolled around…

“Phew, I thought I’d never get to eat! How do you guys get through this?” Sophitia groaned. She threw herself back-first onto the cushions. They were still in the classroom, where Lute gathered up everyone’s cushion seats so that they could eat together.

“You can move your hands, can’t you? This’d be so much quicker if you used all four of them at once,” Lute complained.

“Na-uh. I’m the new kid, I get to take it easy today,” she gurgled, waving a feeler lazily. “Also, they’re feelers. Not hands.”

“Same thing,” Lute rolled his eyes.

“As for going without food, you get used to it. Especially when a certain dolt keeps forgetting to bring his lunch,” Cinder glanced at a crying Raiju.

“Hey if they didn’t lock the gates, I could run home and back and still have time to eat! It’d take me ten seconds,” the Jolteon cried.

“You’re supposed to bring your food with you to school; even I know that. Why’d you leave it at home?” Sophitia asked as she sorted through her own sack of goodies. Marina had given her and Lute some fruit medleys wrapped in pancakes, alongside small bowls of rice in curry sauce. And of course, tissues to go with that. “Oh my gods, she doesn’t play about. This is only lunch, but it looks like restaurant dinner!”

“It’s not my fault, actually. I… d-don’t have that luxury,” Raiju looked away.


“We don’t have snacks or long-lasting food at home. But it’s fine, I can still run a hundred laps around town without a bite!” he bragged, standing on his hind legs. Sophitia looked impressed until his stomach growled, making her giggle.

“Okay mister. If you say so,” she waved at him.

“Honestly, just tell them you’re poor. Pokémon like honesty more than boasting,” Cinder sighed to himself. He laid out a plate for Raiju, who took a minute to realise.

“Wait, is this for me?” Raiju gasped.

“Take it or leave it.”

“Yee haw!”

“Wait, are you saying you’re too poor to buy lunch? How can a Pokémon be too poor to get lunch at school?” Sophitia gasped.

“By… not having enough to buy it?” Lute replied. “Where else is it meant to come from?”

“It’s food- can’t you just…” she trailed off, going into thought. “I’m sorry. I can’t believe that. I’m so sorry, Raiju.”

“Hey it’s cool! It’s all that training for the Olympics. One day I’ll get so strong I won’t even need food, you’ll see!” Raiju cheered.

“… That’s not how it works, but that’s the spirit,” she said nervously. She went to take another bite, only for that discomforting tingle from earlier to suddenly strike. She only hesitated for a moment, but that was enough to tell that the feeling was getting stronger. She took a bite and turned to the door, then drowned out the others’ conversation.

The Minun from earlier emerged from outside, though she looked in for a moment, hid, and then slowly slid into the room. Both paws clutched her skirt tightly. “Uh-um, excuse me…”

“Infia!” Lute smiled at her. “Have you had lunch already?”

“Oh er… y-yes, I have,” she replied. She was quieter than a Whismur.

Oh no. She’s the shy one, Sophitia thought to herself.

“Feel free to join us anyway. I haven’t seen you yet today,” Lute said.

Infia tensed up, and her straight face turned into a frown. “That’s because you didn’t even tell me if you were okay.”

“I did tell you how worried she was,” Cinder said. “Did you at least send wonder mail?”

“N-no. I was too busy sorting out the house with Sophitia,” Lute leaned back. “Sorry… things got real busy and stuff.”

“Wonder mail, though? Lute it takes 5 seconds! You couldn’t even do that for your girlfriend?” Raiju snickered.

“She’s not my girlfriend!”

“He’s not my boyfriend!”

And then silence fell. Cinder palmed his face while Sophitia wanted to jump out the nearest window, trying her best to melt out of the scene as much as possible. Well, at least THIS is interesting.

“Raiju, please stop saying things like that,” Infia whimpered, going back to holding her skirt.

“Yeah, geez! Girlfriend, that’s so gross,” Lute spat, to which his electric friend laughed.

“Aren’t you like, sixteen? Yeah, you’re my age. You really think that’s still gross?” Sophitia said with a groan.

“Heck yeah! All the kissing and naughty adult stuff. It’s all ew,” he spat again.

“… C-can we… p-please not talk about…?” Infia whimpered.

“Oh alright. There’s a time and a place. I wonder if all the boys here are as underdeveloped as you are,” Sophitia huffed.

“Oh trust me, they aren’t,” Cinder said, half-lidded.

“I… I was really going to ask… or say… um,” Infia said, twiddling her feet.

Just then, the tingling sensation got worse. It got bad enough for Sophitia to tense up. She struggled to hide her thoughts with her face. Some bad aura was emanating, like a foreboding of something terrible.

“Go ahead, Infia. You know you can ask me anything,” Lute assured with a smile.

“You’re really back at school now? You’re okay and everything?” Infia asked.

“Right as Raiju! Why do you ask?” he cocked his head.

“… It’s not like you were silent for two days after nearly drowning in the river or anything,” Cinder commented, looking away. Lute giggled.

“Okay, I recovered from that. I told you, I had to sleep, but I’m okay now,” he said with a cheeky smile.

“But still, you don’t have to go home early or anything?” Infia asked.

“Nope. No meds, nothing. I’m totally fine, Infia,” Lute nodded.

There it was again. This time it was a powerful pulse of aura, aura that filled Sophitia with so much fear she felt ill. But surely enough, so did Infia. The Minun had gone the slightest bit pale, looked away, and then stepped back a bit.

“Is everything okay?” Cinder asked.

“Ye-yeah. S-sorry, I-I-I need the restroom,” she said in a panicked tone before sprinting away without turning around. She yelped as she bumped right into Anbi. She made an attempt to push him away without any comment. He glanced at her and then at Lute’s group, gesturing a shrug.

“She can be so dang weird sometimes,” Lute said. That earnt a glare and the slap of a feeler. “Ow, what was that for?”

“I’m surprised you guys all stayed here. Class is about to start, you sat here all lunch!” Anbi announced.

“Eheh, it’s cold outside. And that’s coming from me,” Cinder said.

A conversation continued, but Sophitia had drowned it out again. She was staring behind Anbi at the doorway, unable to get over what had just happened.

The aura had vanished.

As soon as Infia left the vicinity, the aura, the foreboding, the intensity; everything disappeared. That very fact left her more afraid of what was going to happen, if anything at all. She was so deep in thought that she didn’t even notice the jingle ring out again, calling everyone back. Some few minutes later, the class was back in gear and the next lesson was starting. The others didn’t even seem to notice, going back to their casual chatter.

I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but love or not, that Minun is hiding something. But the real question is, do I try and find out? she asked herself, finally turning back to the lesson. Anbi had been talking, but she hadn’t been listening. She looked around for a hint, only to realise that Infia hadn’t returned yet. That’s a long while for a bathroom break.

As if right on cue, a heavy bang went off, muffled yet close by. It was loud enough to silence everyone, a bang followed by a rising screech like a firework had gone off. It all went quiet again after a few seconds, but eyebrows were raised and some stood up.

“Must be someone outside doing—” Anbi was about to say, but another blast shook him up.

This time the floor began to rumble heavily enough to make everyone focus on keeping steady. No one said anything, all waiting for the callout on what was going on. However, the shaking only began to get worse.

“It’s an earthquake? Everyone on your feet!” Anbi shouted, stomping his. “Guard Swap!”

“You didn’t tell me anything about earthquakes!” Sophitia cried as she stumbled for the exit. Anbi’s attack surrounded the students in a pink aura for a brief moment, leaving them all glowing with a mysterious energy. Without the time to question it, Sophitia let the faster students bolt out before her, and then leapt after them with a slow, light gait.

“This isn’t normal! And yo-you gotta go faster than that!” Lute cried as stumbled after her. He could barely run straight, and crashed into the other panicked Pokémon that filled the hallway outside. It was clear that he was trying to slow down for her and kept falling over as a result, so she growled a response and scooped him onto her back.

“Go straight for the exit. No messing around!” Anbi shouted from the back. He glanced side to side, using the doorway to keep his balance.

“Wait, Sophitia! What about Infia?” Lute cried once they made it to the stairs.

“She was in the restroom, right? She’s probably already outside,” she replied, sliding to a stop.

With all the other Pokémon rushing to get out, it was no surprise some of them were falling down the stairs. She decided to take a short run up and leapt up as high as she could, floating down to level ground before continuing.

“… Actually, your floating is really helpful, here,” Lute commented, and tightened his grip on her.

“So Anbi’s Guard Swap. They’re all hitting each other but no one’s getting hurt at all,” she added. “That guy’s not all weird.”

“Less talking, more running!” Raiju sung as he passed them. Cinder gave them a tap, so she focused and got back to escaping.

The exit wasn’t far, so it felt as though it was almost too easy to get out. Once they were on level ground and out of the building, the quakes stopped, though there was still a loud rumbling and the school building was still shaking. Other teachers directed the students to just outside of the school grounds by the main gate, where they all turned to the results of the building.

“Our class is… here. But Infia’s not here,” Lute said, searching the crowd. Sophitia made a sound, focusing her gaze on the building. The quaking was strong enough that a large dust cloud was flowing around it.

… I have this horrible feeling, she frowned.
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Episode 4: Fighting for a friend


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
4 Infia SOHD.png

Episode 4: Fighting for a friend

Everyone waited outside the gates of the school grounds, some students quietly muttering amongst themselves They were safe from this distance, but the audible rumble of the ground and the vibration of the building had everyone holding their breaths. This was even after the classes and groups of Pokémon had been sorted and a headcount had been made to ensure everyone had escaped. There were no casualties, and apparently only two Pokémon were missing.

Sophitia knew that one of those Pokémon was Infia, though. The clothed Minun hadn’t been seen since that awkward cry for a bathroom break right before their lessons started. Whatever those explosive auras that came from Infia were, she couldn’t sense them anymore.

“The tremors have stopped. Go and arrest the culprit, now!” a robotic voice instructed, making Sophitia jump.

At some point the police had arrived, a squad of Magneton commanded by a Magnezone. There was also a Goodra and a male Meowstic with unrealistically smooth fur as well, and those two walked right through the crowd.

“It’s a good thing we were around. With an almost clear headcount, the initial investigation should go easy,” Meowstic said. His voice was rich and confident.

“Who’re they?” Sophitia asked. She had to look for Anbi.

“Just authorities. They happened to be in town, so they came,” the Umbreon replied. “Have you been keeping up with the news lately?”

“Mum doesn’t let me read it,” Lute replied.

“Spirle’s activities have begun to get more dangerous as of recently. Sudden riots in cities, powerful attacks going off at large buildings… I fear this may be one of their attacks,” Anbi explained. He sighed and grit his fangs. “We’ll see what these guys have to say.”

“Structure scan complete. Just waiting for the magnet unit’s report now,” Meowstic muttered, staring at the screen of a handheld device in his paws. “That’s all. The culprit’s been found.”

“Already?” Sophitia gasped. The Meowstic looked up at her.

“Hm? My apologies. I was mumbling a little too loud,” he said.

“Well who is it? Don’t leave us hanging!” she cried.

“This is kinda out of our jurisdiction,” Anbi said.

“We were there. We’re directly involved in this!” Sophitia raised her voice and bounced. “Tell us!”

“If there’s no need for the public to know, then I’m afraid you can’t know,” Meowstic stated. The Goodra next to him started rubbing its chin, specifically the slime that normally drooled there. “Hold your curiosity. It’ll do you good to not be too nosy in the future.”

With that he walked off, meeting the Magneton that emerged from the building. They were circling someone, and after a quick exchange of words, he began to lead them back into town.

“Wait a second, that’s- Lute, that’s Infia!” Sophitia gasped.

“Sophitia?” Lute replied.

“Lute, they’re arresting Infia!” she squeaked.

“They are!” He gasped. “Wait… they are? Did Infia cause the earthquake?”

“Of course not! Use your head,” she cried, bouncing again. She pushed her way out of their group, and stretch her feelers wide so that she blocked the police’s path. “Stop right there!”

“S-Sophitia, wait! What’re you doing?” Lute cried. Raiju and Cinder exchanged speechless glances.

“You get over here too. You’re not actually gonna sit there and let them arrest Infia, are you?” she shouted.

“I… I mean, I can’t,” he muttered.

“Just get over here darn it!” she shouted. The Meowstic stared at her, unbothered, arms at his side like a soldier as she pulled him over to him. “You guys can’t be serious. You really think a little Minun like her caused this earthquake?”

“Those are the results of our initial investigation. Also, it has been proven that members of Spirle have no pattern when it comes to species. Even children have turned up as members,” Meowstic explained.

“Are Spirle really this bad? That you’d arrest a schoolkid? You can’t be that ludicrous.” Sophitia argued. Silence fell. “… Well?”

“Uh… erm, Sophitia… Spirle are, um—” Lute stuttered.

“They’re what? Don’t beat around the bush!”

Lute scrunched up his face. “Spirle are that serious. They’re terrorists. Like Anbi said, they do stuff like destroy buildings and hurt Pokémon. No one even knows what they’re after, but they’re the highest level of criminal there is.”

“Well the school isn’t destroyed, so,” Sophitia pointed out.

“But there was an attempt to. That alone warrants the most careful consideration,” Meowstic replied. He folded his arms. “If you continue to obstruct our path, we may have to arrest you as well, you know.”

“Ugh, I know this is garbage! She’s a little girl in cheerleader clothes. How can she make a freaking earthquake? And Lute, why the heck are you letting this happen? Isn’t she your friend?” she shouted, glancing between them.

“I-I can’t stand in the way of the police! They’re like… the police! You know,” Lute staggered as he edged away. “Why’re you so worked up about this anyway, Sophitia?”

There was finally some hesitation. Yeah… why AM I so worked up about this? It’s like I can tell she has feelings for him that he wants to ignore for some reason… but also that this whole thing just reeks of framing!

“You know what, if you won’t do it, then I’ll do it. I’ll fight the police,” Sophitia announced, curling her feelers to appear threatening.

“Sophitia?” Infia gasped. Meowstic’s eyes widened.

“I’m not gonna let you big guys arrest a clearly innocent little girl. Like, I dunno what’s wrong with everyone around here, but everything is wrong with that. Plus,” she threatened. She locked eyes with Infia. “I didn’t even get a chance to talk to you properly. It’s just intuition at this point, but I really need to talk to you. I know I do.”

“But fighting the police? Sophitia you can’t!” Lute cried.

“Your name is Sophitia?” Goodra finally spoke up, raising a slimy arm. She had a surprisingly calm, steady, adult voice, the kind one would imagine a veteran teacher to have. Sophitia nodded to her anyway. Goodra nodded in confirmation, and turned to Meowstic. “Fight her. I want to see how this plays out.”

A wave of gasps and chatter took over the scene from all observing, and Lute’s eyes popped out. Goodra giggled as she waved to the crowd. “I don’t mean literally, of course. If you think you can beat our technology and logic, then give it a go.”

“You just have to use your common sense. A Minun can’t start an earthquake,” Sophitia said.

“… Are you sure about this?” Meowstic asked. Goodra nodded again and folded her arms. The Magneton began to make space around the scene. In a moment, a makeshift courthouse had been made. “We do things the logical way over here. When we make our arrests, we do them based on the conclusions of our investigations.”

“Well duh. That’s how investigations work?” Sophitia raised an eyebrow. She suddenly flinched. “Wait, you mean we’re not actually gonna fight fight, but just like, talk it out?”

“That is how I do things, yes. I am a prosecutor, not a fighter,” Meowstic informed. He revealed the mobile device from before. “This device is a scanner and a communicator. I used it to scan the school when we arrived while the earthquake was still going on. Only one Pokémon was still in the building at the time.”

He tapped a few buttons below the screen and an image of the scan came up. It looked like the skeleton of the school building, revealing floors and silhouettes of everything important inside. Only one thing resembling a Pokémon was in there, and it was the exact shape of a Minun. “As you can see, Infia was the only Pokémon inside the building at the time. The Magneton sent me a report after they rushed in as well. They found her alongside this bomb.”

“… Wa-wait a second, bomb? There was a bomb involved?” Sophitia screeched.

“That’s the nature that Spirle work on. To make things even clearer, a scan of the bomb reveals Infia’s pawprints were all over it,” he continued, tapping a few more buttons. This time, the diagram of a large, drill-shaped device came up. There was a propeller on the end of the drill, alongside what looked like feathers scattered around it.

“Pawprints is like… that means… Infia actually touched… a bomb…” Lute shuddered. Sophitia shivered too, and slowly shook her head in disbelief.

Are you freaking kidding me? A bomb? A terrorist attack at a school in a small town like this? And she actually touched it? What the hell have I put myself into? Sophitia screamed as she scrunched up her face. And I’m supposed to prove that she’s innocent…

“It looks like you already understand the situation. Unreputable evidence, proof enough to warrant Infia’s arrest,” Meowstic shrugged. Just the cocky smirk on his face kicked Sophitia back into focus. She wanted to slap him right now, even if she was wrong about all this.

“I didn’t say I give up. I just gotta think,” she replied, faking confidence. But where the heck do I even start? Is there supposed to be some kinda flaw in the logic that I can point out?

She took in a deep breath, shut her eyes, and then slowly scanned the scene. Many eyes were on her, Meowstic and Infia’s included. Lute was shivering beside her, and his clueless expression didn’t help. She slowly turned her gaze to the school, then the scanner, and then her mind finally had a light bulb.

“I’m allowed to ask questions, aren’t I? What’s up with the bomb? It doesn’t look like an Egg Bomb or anything,” she asked, pointing to the scanner with a feeler.

“Oh, this,” Meowstic tapped a few. He held the device flat, and then a hologram of the bomb showed up. “It has been nicknamed a ‘Drilbur-runner’ since it resembles a Drilbur using the move Drill Run. They’re rather powerful devices for a one-time-use bomb. When activated, they’re programmed to drill at least twenty metres deep, and then explode with a V-Wave blast that targets earth.”

“A blast that targets earth?” Sophitia tilted her head. “The heck does that mean?”

“Rather than being explosive in nature, the bomb releases V-Waves that mess with the stability of the ground. When twenty metres underground, this can cause colossal earthquakes that can destroy the ground above, and any building on top of that,” Meowstic explained. “We’ve only ever encountered this bomb once before. This is our first time getting one in this undamaged state. We can look into its functions properly.”

“Wait… that’s the actual bomb? That means it didn’t go off properly, even though it made an earthquake,” Sophitia rubbed her chin.

“It did go off properly. According to the Magneton, it went off from the second floor of the school, which is about eighteen metres high. As you can guess, it didn’t burrow very far before it burst, and as a result, the earthquake wasn’t strong enough to damage the structure,” Meowstic explained, running a simulation on his device. “The drill activated from the second-floor disabled restroom. It burrowed through the floor, then fell through the hollow space until it reached the ground floor, where it went about two more metres before bursting. Because the resulting earthquake was so weak, nothing was damaged, and in turn, the bomb itself remained mostly intact.”

“The second floor disabled… gods, I have so many questions,” she groaned, beginning to pace. If they find out I’m a new student, I’m done for. I’ve got to use this information to say something smart.

“What was Infia doing in a disabled restroom? Also, we have disabled restrooms at school?” Lute asked.

“Apparently, you do. It looks to me like Infia had no reason to be in there other than to handle that weapon, either. It’s just more evidence, in the end,” Meowstic replied, smiling cockily. She was getting very tired of that smirk already.

Sophitia frowned. Okay, let me put this into perspective properly. We had that conversation which ended with Infia saying she needed the bathroom, but she went to a disabled restroom instead. There was a bomb in there which she touched, but the bomb didn’t go off properly. This light earthquake started.

Sophitia shut her eyes and downed her ears to focus. Everything I’ve been told so far is clean fact. That means that rather than trying to prove that Infia didn’t handle the bomb or go into the bathroom, I need to try and come up with a reason WHY she went into that bathroom and touched the bomb. By that process, that means Infia must actually be disabled in some form.

The look of the scene was playing out in her mind as well as her memories. The aura that came from Infia stuck out to her the most, and before she knew it, it hit her again. That powerful aura that felt like sad feelings pulsing from a heartbeat.

There it is again. It’s like some fear or sadness… embarrassment, many negative emotions taking form. Is this what that aura is? My feelers are picking up on everything, Sophitia thought to herself. She slowly opened her eyes as her face was straining, surprised to find that time had slowed for her. Nothing looked the same as it once was, their colours and movements distorted like they were trying to keep her attention. Every brush of fur in the wind, the way the Pokémon were breathing, their lightest twitches, everything was visible.

That’s what it is. I can sense emotions. And right now, Infia’s fear and sadness are in overdrive. Not because she’s about to get arrested. If that were the case, I’d have sensed the emotions ages ago. It must be what we’re talking about right now. That disabled bathroom.

With her eyesight enhanced and everything moving in slow motion, Sophitia scanned the scene intently. Infia’s legs were knocking together and her paws were twitching, holding between her legs to keep her skirt down. To anyone looking from a distance, perhaps it looked like she needed the restroom right now. However, Sophitia could see differently.

Those paws weren’t holding her crotch. They were pulling her skirt ever so slightly, as if trying to hide everything below.

That’s it. Bingo.

Just like that, Sophitia snapped back to reality, her moment of hyper focus ending. Barely any time had elapsed and it had looked as though she were simply thinking deeply for a moment.

“Or what if Infia was actually disabled? I think she is. She went to that bathroom because she had to,” Sophitia began.

“H-huh?” Infia gasped. A bigger pulse of fear erupted from her, making Sophitia nod. She was on the right track.

“The disabled restrooms were locked via card key. Magneton had to hack into it to get into the room,” Meowstic stated. “A student as normal as her shouldn’t have access.”

“That’s because she isn’t… ‘normal’, if that’s what you want to call it. She has the card key to get in,” Sophitia smirked, now.

“We did find one on the bathroom floor, again with her pawprints on it. But the cards don’t contain I.D or anything. It could very well be a card she stole,” Meowstic folded his arms. “Unless you have some proof that Infia actually has the right to use this room?”

Well, here goes, Sophitia gulped. “Infia may look normal, but that’s only because of the way she dresses. Underneath that shirt and skirt, you need help using the restroom.”

“Wha-what? No Sophitia!” Infia squealed, going red.

Sophitia shook her head slowly. “Infia, you have trouble going to the restroom when you mean to, don’t you? So you need what’s in that special room. You disguise your needs as clothing!”

“N-no I’m not! I’m not doing anything that embarrassing,” Infia cried at the top of her voice, covering her face.

She looked as though she were on the verge of breaking down, and those emotional pulses became more erratic. Sophitia kept a stern face though, and tried to fight off her own reactions to the emotional storm. Amongst Infia’s spiking anger, shock, and even slight relief, her sadness and fear were the only parts that weren’t fluctuating.

“Um… Sophitia, isn’t that pretty weird? What even made you say something like that?” Lute asked.

“It’s true, isn’t it? There’s no other reason she’d use that room. And to be honest, I can’t think why she wears underwear to begin with,” the Sylveon replied. “Embarrassed about her need to wear something designed for difficult infants or Pokémon deemed disabled, she wears a full set of clothing to hide her appearance. To be someone completely different, something that isn’t as embarrassing as she feels the real her is.”

“That’s an incredibly bold claim that’s very off-topic for what we’re talking about,” Meowstic stated. He shrugged, and that cocky smirk came right back. “So, what’re you going to do? Remove her underwear? Because that’s not very ideal right now.”

“Please don’t!” Infia shrieked at the top of her voice, hugging herself. Sophitia flinched.

Wait, maybe I am pushing a little too hard or something… she looks like she’s about to tear herself to shreds, she realised, leaned back awkwardly. “We need the truth, though. Please Infia, just tell us. Is that why you went to that bathroom? Because you actually needed it, not because there was a bomb in there?”

“If the accused won’t answer, then it is only testament to their guilt. Pretending to wear nappies won’t save you from a crime,” Meowstic shrugged. Infia didn’t respond, and slowly shrunk herself into a little ball. All that could be heard from her were panicked whimpers and weak tears.

For Sophitia, her erratic emotions were sinking back into the sadness and fear from before, only they were many times worse. So much worse that she herself couldn’t resist them. She stared at Infia with a clouded guilt. “Wa-wait, we can’t end there. F-forget the stuff I said. Just tell them that’s why you went there!”

“I-I-I didn’t… I… couldn’t,” was all the Minun could utter, and it was so quiet that Sophitia could barely hear it. She let silence fall, so Meowstic cleared his throat.

“If there really isn’t anything else to say, then I believe our little ‘battle’ is over. Unless you have another point that can prove our evidence is wrong?” he challenged, getting that cocky smile yet again. Sophitia growled, baring her fangs.

“Hold it!” Anbi shouted, getting everyone’s attention. He was in a dramatic pose at the front of his class, eyes shut and a proud smile on his face. “… Wow, it really does feel cool to say that. Am I the hero arriving just in time?”

“Wha… this isn’t a good time to be weird, Anbi,” Sophitia cocked her head.

“Oh, but I do have something cool to say,” the Umbreon smirked.

“Cool and useful are two very different things right now,” Meowstic replied. “If what you say right now is neither, I’ll see to it that you’re the one wearing nappies for the remainder of the week.”

What the heck is going on all of a sudden? Sophitia groaned in her mind.

“First of all, allow me to address my student. Infia. I know you’re very embarrassed about this, but do you remember what I said to you a few years ago?” the Umbreon began walking towards her. She looked up at him, still whimpering and blinking away tears. “You can’t keep a secret forever. But with the friends you’ve made, your secrets in particular will last a lifetime. And they won’t hurt anyone.”

“Wa-wait… please don’t… please don’t say anything. L-Lute is watching!” she said, going back to hiding herself. He stared at her until she turned away, where he shut his eyes and took a deep breath.

“Sophitia. I don’t know how you figured it out, but you are absolutely correct. Infia does need help with the restroom,” Anbi explained.

“What? Seriously?” Lute gasped. Sophitia was speechless.

“Are you covering for her?” Meowstic asked.

“Everend School has one room dedicated to disabled facilities. It’s a bathroom, tool cupboard, and even a lift, an elevator. Only three Pokémon have access to that room as well,” he explained, revealing a card key. “As the headteacher, I have one card. Our cleaner has a card as well, to maintain the room. And then of course, only disabled students have cards. At present, Infia is the only other one. She uses the room to change clothing in privacy.”

“Which means she potentially left to do just that,” Sophitia said, gawking. She shook her head to focus. “I was right. Infia had a natural need to use that room and went there!”

“All you’ve created is a possibility. It’s still also possible that she used the privacy of this room to set up this whole incident,” Meowstic reasoned. Sophitia blinked once, and then began to pace.

“So here’s what I think happened. Infia left to use the restroom since lessons were soon to start. Obviously, she needed time to change and ‘keep her secret’, so she gave herself plenty of time. But then she found the bomb in that room. Having taken so long to do her business, the real perpetrator eventually came in to activate said bomb, not expecting to find Infia in there. The two fought, and then the bomb went off, starting the earthquake.”

“Let’s see how far you’ve thought this through,” Meowstic replied, folding his arms. “Coming up with a story like that – I don’t believe a Pokémon your age could do that. So first of all: the pawprints on the bomb.”

“It’s a bomb that I, and I’m pretty certain everyone else here, wouldn’t call a bomb until they were told it was one. I mean, look at it. It’s a Drilbur toy with a propeller on the end. She probably played with it, wondering if it was some new tool for that disabled toolroom or something,” Sophitia replied. The surrounding Pokémon began to mutter amongst themselves, their agreements obvious.

“Your ‘perpetrator’. I assume you’re going to claim that it’s the third Pokémon who has access to the room.”

“Yep. Anbi was teaching so it couldn’t have been him, while this cleaner is the only one we haven’t seen yet. Add in that the bomb is surrounded by feathers, which no one seems to have spoken about yet,” she continued, rubbing her chin. “If the cleaner has feathers, you can’t deny that makes them a suspect.”

“Whoa, go Sophitia! You really thought this through, huh?” Raiju cheered, Cinder pressed his head down.

“And I know what your last question is. The bomb went off from an elevator rather than the ground floor. If there really was a conflict, then that gives away that the perpetrator failed in their attempt to set it off properly. They had to deal with Infia. They probably planned to launch it from the ground floor, but couldn’t use the lift while Infia was there.”

Even more mutterings took over the scene, and Meowstic slowly unfurled his arms. Sophitia stared at him, hoping for some embarrassed reaction. But there was none. If anything, he looked more aggressive.

“Magnezone brigade. Find that cleaner, now!” Goodra shouted. “Headteacher Umbreon. What species is it?”

“I… had a fear when I saw those feathers, to be honest. Our cleaner is a Spritzee called Victoria. She is… also Infia’s surrogate mother.”

“Her mother?” Sophitia said. Her face sunk after a moment. Oh. Wait a minute. This couldn’t be a WORSER situation.

“And I’m right here. Calm your Mudsdale, there’s no reason for this to get dirty,” a woman’s voice interrupted, though it was unclear where it came from. Sophitia and Lute stretched their feet out and looked around, the echo and lack of clarity of the voice springing those instincts to mind.

“Up there!” Lute cried, raising his head.

“Where?” Sophitia muttered, still having to look for them.

They weren’t in the crowd, on top of the gates, or even just floating around the air, until a few moments later. The silhouette of a Spritzee soared over the sun’s glare, and then descended next to Infia with a graceful gait.

Well, it was scary to Sophitia. The idea that this new face was potentially a real terrorist that could have killed her and all these Pokémon, made it so that anything they did was scary. The Spritzee was clearly an adult as well, being bigger than imagined. Her voice and face drooled overconfidence in their appearance. When Victoria landed, she covered her front with one wing as if guarding herself.
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you should've known the price of evil
  1. inkay-shirlee
  2. houndoom-elliot
  3. yamask-joanna
  4. shuppet
  5. deerling-andre
Hey! Here for Catnip, looking at the first chapter.

“Guys leave him alone!”
Sorry Lute, sorry Anbi sir,

You're gonna want to separate the names / addressing terms from the rest of the sentence by commas. Mind the "Let's eat, Grandma / Let's eat Grandma" example. For the latter, though, you'd end up with a lot of them, so something like

Sorry, Lute. Sorry, Anbi, sir,

may be better.

This was after the Lapras became a free species.

not even the pokemon can resist enslaving other pokemon i see

Not that he was complaining – things were exactly as they should be.

idk lah sounded a lot like complaining to me

Lute groaned inside at that remark, zoning out as he got himself ready for the trip home. It wasn’t to be a long one. He lived somewhere in the middle of the cosy town of Everend, an easy walk from the port. This area was such a simple and populated spot that there weren’t any feral Pokémon. The biggest danger was falling into the river that ran alongside the road, but to do that, you’d have to be trying to dive in.
The road back home was as quiet as expected. Fencing on the right to separate the road from the river, distant plain on the left that led to fields and the one-off farm, and then the soft, grainy road that led into the town. There were a few turns every now and then, but with such wide-open space and controlled greenery surrounding them, there was no worry of getting attacked or losing your way.

The first description feels like it could be embedded in the latter. It'd also feel more at place there, since where it currently is, it comes off as kind of an expodump that puts the story on pause. I also initially read it as Lute actually going home, but that was kind of my mistake, as it's not really implied he did.

Was he still back on the ship with Raiju and the others

It's a bit weird to have Raiju mentioned when it's been like 30 seconds since he was last with him.

“If the tide’s coming in, we’ve gotta get them,” Lute said, jumping over. Raiju moved to follow him, stopping on top of the fence.

The tide is mentioned here as being something dangerous, which comes off as strange to the reader since the existence of a cave on the other side hasn't been established yet, especially considering that tides are very gradual and, in an open space, one could easily escape them.

Content he wasn’t going to do anything, Sylveon returned to its task. This section of swampy ground stopped here, but it continued on the other side of the river where it ran beneath the hill of the main path, creating a cave.

This is a very odd way to establish the cave, in my opinion. For one, it's not very simple or clear to visualize. It makes the road out to be the defining characteristic of the cave, when I'd pay much more attention to the size and shape of the entrance and the material the cave is made of first. A cave also seems like one of the first things you'd notice in a location, so mentioning it this late and only through another, lesser environmental detail has the reader go a long time assuming the setting as one without a cave.

Their eyes were a light burgundy.

The Sylveon look-a-like didn’t say anything. It didn’t blink or show any threat either, but one of its feelers did move. That feeler went to its lips, as if telling Lute to hush. He didn’t know what to say anyway, and stared back.

It's odd how Sylveon is referred to as "they" once, in the part about the eyes, but consistently as "it" after it until her gender is revealed.

“I’ll drown you.”

wow okay that took a turn

Sylveon stared down at him coldly, and he caught full glimpse of that. She didn’t even look like she was putting effort into holding him there. “If you promise to keep your mouth shut, I’ll let you out. Will you do that?”

what the fk was her problem

I do kind of raise my brow at the fact that a) Lute can hear this through his whole drowning thing and b) Sylveon (correctly) assumes he can hear it.

“Wait, I think we shouldn’t—” Lute spoke up, silenced by another glare.

“There’s brave talk coming from a little girl. Respect your elders.”

“Always with the little girl rubbish… the dated ones always end up being the ruffians,” she said, stepping toward them. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

The way this exchange is set up, the middle line looks like it would belong to Sylveon, since there's no mention of a change in speaker. It's only the content and the next line being from Sylveon that tells us it's one of the Frogadier. There is mention of a glare by a non-Sylveon party, but I don't think it's quite strong enough.

“For goodness sake.”

*goodness' sake, as it's the sake of the goodness.

Sylveon looked up at Lute with widened eyes for only a moment, and then a whole torrent of river water came right at them, forcing her to act fast.

"Whole" feels kind of colloquial and so seems off in the narration. I'm also not really a fan of that "and then" chaining the events together - also seems colloquial somehow, like a person was telling a friend something that happened to them - but I can't think of a better suggestion right now, one that wouldn't be a total restructuring of the sentences, at least.

It seemed to last forever. His eyelids were forcing themselves closed as his mouth refused to do the same, letting out gurgling coughs that sparked the aches in his muscles. His body just wanted to do everything it shouldn’t be doing when he was trying to avoid drowning, breathing in water until they finally floated up to a surface. The instant he felt his head come free, he let out a coughing fit that he wasn’t sure was ever going to end.

damn. just how many brain cells has lute lost today due to asphyxiation


So, a good bunch of stuff is established in this first chapter, which is something first chapters certainly should do. It also leaves us on a hook, as we wonder how Sylveon will react to her life being saved by this pipsqueak and what she'll tell in exchange.

I do kind of wonder, though, how many of the characters established at the start of the chapter will be relevant later on. Outside the protagonist, the only character featured in both that scene and the cover is the Minun, if I'm not mistaken. If the other characters are to be introduced in a package as dense, I could see the reader getting overwhelmed by the amount of names to memorize. I had no trouble following while only the species names were being used, but then a lot came in at once, and I had trouble mapping them to the right characters and keeping them in mind.

I was also somewhat confused about Sylveon's behavior and the events relating to her in the story. It's a given that she's meant to be mysterious at this point of the story, but some of her actions didn't seem to add up or be consistent. For one, she wants Lute to be quiet, but then waterboards him (without intent to kill) after which he coughs like mad, and she's angry at this, but obviously people will cough after being waterboarded as it's a natural and vital response? She seems rather powerful and her tendrils seem dextrous, so I don't see why she couldn't have simply covered his mouth to silence him. I also don't know why Raiju doesn't see all this, as iirc he was last mentioned as being right there on the initial side of the river, and him just abandoning Lute would seem unlikely after his concern for him. He also couldn't have left the scene fast enough to not witness Sylveon torture Lute.

After this, Lute decides to follow their torturer, which can be plausible depending on how thick-headed the characters are allowed to be in this story. I initially thought he went in without the Sylveon's knowledge, but she doesn't seem to be at all surprised at his presence, nor does he seem surprised at her realizing it once he blurts out the line about the mystery dungeon. This has me wondering how she was opposed enough to him following her to coldly waterboard him while also not caring that he's following her nonetheless and no longer trying to stop him by force.

I think the first of these issues could basically be fixed by having Lute follow the Sylveon into the cave before she takes action against him, so that Raiju doesn't consider her harmful enough to pursue (although it's still somewhat of a stretch) and she can do something more drastic once out of view. As for why Sylveon doesn't just knock out Lute or even kill him, I don't know the character enough to tell you how I think that should be written.

Anyway, I guess that's it for my thoughts. Sorry for them being so negative, but I just don't think this is my kind of story. I hope I managed to explain my opinions well enough for them to be of some help, though. Feel free to ask if you've been left wondering anything.

Good luck with writing onward - and welcome to the forums.
Episode 5: Infia’s Real Secret


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
Episode 5: Infia’s Real Secret

“So I was meant to have gone home already, but I couldn’t help but be amused by this joke of a scene,” Victoria began. Her voice was muffled by her wing, but she was so loud and proud that she could be understood. “You’re supposed to be the police, aren’t you? Yet here you are entertaining this juvenile peasant. Is this some sort of training exercise? Because if you’re genuinely considering their points, then I have concerns for your abilities overall. You must all be fools if you lose to this.”

“How can you say something like this? You’re her mother, aren’t you? Don’t let her get in trouble for something like this!” Lute cried.

Victoria started playing with the tips of her wings. “Yes, you’re right. She is my daughter. But adopted, nonetheless. And if an adopted daughter wishes to join Spirle, then I won’t stand for their heinous acts no matter who they are.”

She looked over her wing at Infia’s struggled position on the floor. “Especially if they put on such pathetic displays to try and frame their mothers.”

“This reeks,” Sophitia stated.

Victoria went back to hiding behind her wing. “Pardon me?”

“You heard me. You reek. You’re a Spirle member, aren’t you?” Sophitia asked.

“Wa-wait, if she really is Spirle, then,” Lute leaned away.

Victoria straightened herself. “Focus on the fight, will you? When you’re in a fight, words mean nothing. So attempted insults like that simply soil your appearance.” She turned her back on the crowd and stretched her wings out. “Do you see any missing feathers? It’d be awfully distasteful of me to show up to work with balding feathers.”

Sophitia shook her head again, realising what was being said. This was it. If a fight really did break out between Infia and her mother over the bomb, there would clearly be some feathers missing from the Spritzee. There wasn’t enough time between now and then to replace them.

But there were none. As far as Sophitia could see, Victoria’s back, sides, and wings were as perfect and styled as a Spritzee’s would be expected. There wasn’t even a mark or a sign of damage from a Pokémon attack. Her back and wings were smooth, pink, and shiny clean.

“No, that can’t be,” Sophitia whispered. Lute gawked at her, and his face turned pale. “There’s nothing there. She couldn’t possibly be untouched.”

“Wha-what do you mean? It’s right there,” Lute gasped.

“I don’t see any damage or balding. Your feathers are smooth as an Electrode, like my fur,” Meowstic praised.

“Huh? Wait, are you guys serious?” Lute gasped, glancing side to side.

“Not a good time for a joke, Lute,” Sophitia said, trying to remain calm. If she’s literally untouched, then that means she wasn’t there at all… my whole argument falls back!

“See? You were clinging to opinionated dribble, just like any child when they’re arguing with an adult,” Victoria replied. Sophitia growled at her. “Children these days need to know their place.”

“I did not say that leaves you off the hook,” Meowstic replied, getting her attention. “We still don’t know where you were during all of this. As a Pokémon capable of getting into that room, whose whereabouts were unknown until now, there is a possibility that you are the culprit.”

“You just saw the evidence that I am not. Or do you just intend to keep me here, captivated by my appearance?” Victoria spat.

Why is he helping me? Isn’t he meant to be against me? Sophitia thought.

“All of you can see for yourselves. I have no feathers missing. Is there something I must do to prove it?” Victoria asked. She hid behind her wing again.

“I really don’t get it, why is everyone saying that she’s clean? It’s right there, there’s a big burn mark,” Lute cried, stepping forward. Victoria gave him a vicious glare, making him a stand down.

“Lute?” Sophitia whispered.

“I really don’t get it. It’s right there, it’s all black with a red mark and everything. Why can’t anybody but me see it?” he said desperately. Sophitia watched him for a while and then glanced at Meowstic, surprised to find him doing the same.

Lute… doesn’t sound like he’s lying. So then, why? she asked herself, tensing up. None of this makes any sense. Yet if I can’t figure it out, we all go back to square one!

“Is it because of the nonsense that scrappy little boy is spouting? How long do you intend to keep me here?” Victoria complained. Sophitia growled again while Meowstic tensed up and folded his arms.

“The scanner!” Infia squeaked. Sophitia flinched, but Victoria took that as an opportunity to turn and slap her daughter hard enough to earn a teary flinch.

“Infia!” Lute cried. The Minun managed a glance at him, and then cowered away.

The scanner? Sophitia shivered a bit. Meowstic seemed unaffected by the display as he revealed the device. He pressed a few buttons and then held it up to face Victoria. Would that pick up something we can’t see?

There was a moment of silence, all eyes on Meowstic now. He didn’t react as he concentrated on his device. Then, with just as unbothered a look, he held the device flat and let it come up with another hologram. This one was of Victoria, highlighted in mostly yellowish colours. Everything was intact except a section by the back of her right wing, which showed red markings.

“The technology doesn’t lie, and neither do well-behaved children,” Meowstic stated as Victoria’s face descended into aggravation. “So, Victoria. Care to explain why my scanner displays damage dealt to you, while our eyes do not?”

There was another lengthy silence, though this time it was muffled by Victoria’s continued growls of displeasure. She eventually calmed down, a level, cocky smile of glee gestured on her. She slowly resumed her original pose, guarding her body with one wing. “So you’re going to trust that machine over your own eyes. Do I really need to say everything that’s wrong with that?”

“Infia. I’d like a testimony from you, please,” Meowstic requested.

“We’ve already established that she can’t be trusted. She can’t even be honest with herself!” the Spritzee hissed. “What more could you even ask her for?”

Meowstic was quiet for a moment, but he did get the Minun’s attention. “You’ve already lost everything. Your secrets are out, your mother is on trial. Continued lack of cooperation would lead to you both being arrested. Unless you can tell me exactly what happened, that is.”

“What happened?” Infia replied.

“You don’t need to answer him. You keep your mouth shut and let the adults do the—” Victoria ranted.

“Will you shut up? You’re such a villainous parent. I really don’t like you!” Sophitia stepped forward. “I don’t like the smug guy’s reasoning as well, but he is right. If you tell us what actually happened, we can bring this to a close.”

“I… I,” Infia whimpered and scrunched herself up.

“Think about it this way. Who is more important? Lute or Mum?” Sophitia said, sounding desperate.

“Who in the world raised you? As if that is even a considerable option!” Victoria argued, unable to hide a snicker. “Any well-behaved child would have been raised to value family over friends. Anything less is foolishness. Infia! This is the chance for you to tell them the truth. And don’t twist this to fit the agender of that scruffy boy you keep telling me about.”

“Let Infia speak for herself! It’s not up to you, it’s up to her,” Sophitia shouted.

Infia kept making noises of inner turmoil, but she was beginning to get to her feet. All it took was a glance at all of the anxious faces staring for her to back down and hide behind her paws. She felt like she wanted to throw up, and all that the others had to do about it was to continue arguing with each other.

Then she caught sight of Lute. The Eevee was the only other one who looked worried and pale as if what he was seeing upset him. Without any sort of exchange between them at all, it was like she could tell what he was thinking and what he wanted to do about it. Right now, this was about her, and so she needed to act. She curled her paws into fists, scrunched up her face, and welled up what energy she could.

“P-please let me speak!” she squeaked as loud as she could. It was enough to get everyone to stall their breath and face her, but that only brought her to hide her face again. “P-please… let me speak.”

Sophitia curled her feelers back into place, tucked away in her ribbons, while Meowstic folded his arms. Everyone else calmed down and let the quiet fall, but Victoria was snickering under her breath, keeping that intimidating stance.

“You don’t need to be scared,” Lute finally smiled a little. Hearing that, Infia took in a deep breath, shut her eyes, and nodded.

“I… I really tried. I promise, I tried my hardest to stop that bomb. I went to the bathroom to try and stop it, but then she came in, and I…” she said, and suddenly choked on her breath.

“Wait, what?” Sophitia whispered. “Keep it calm. Start from the top.”

“The top… yeah. Um, er… M-Mum is a Spirle High Point. She told me about a trial with the bomb in a few days. And I… I thought it was okay. I thought it would be okay because I changed the time on it. The bomb was going to go off when no one was at school,” Infia explained. The looks on everyone’s faces took a manic shift into horror, though they managed not to shout or gasp despite the obvious want to. “But then Lute came back… I-I thought Lute was going to be gone for longer. I… I really didn’t want him to get hurt, so I tried to shut off the bomb completely. But then Mum came in. I don’t know why, but she came in to check up on it!”

“Is that when the two of you fought?” Sophitia asked, gawking at them.

Infia nodded and clutched her chest tightly. “She’s really strong, but her special powers don’t work on me for some reason. I-I-I did everything I could, but I’m not strong enough to stop her.”

“What do you mean by special powers?” Meowstic asked. His tone had become stifled fury, while his claws were bared and fangs gritted.

“Mum’s an extraordinary Pokémon. Anyone that smells her perfume can only see whatever she wants them to see. I think she’s using it to hide her scar. But it doesn’t work on me, for some reason. I managed to hit her with Thunder Shock when we got into a fight, but she turned on the bomb. That’s when I… I…” she started to squeak and whimper again. She hid behind her paws and began to tear up. “She turned on the bomb because I was going to stop her… s-s-so I… I pushed her onto the drill… I nearly killed her, but I didn’t mean to, I swear!”

“Magnezone!” Goodra shouted, but they were far ahead of her. The head of the police units charged up a Flash Cannon attack in the blink of an eye and fired it in Victoria’s direction, making Infia scream and cower.

“Infia!” Lute cried as he dived toward her. He was too far away to even come close to helping her, though. The attack looked like it hit Victoria, but the burst of smoke from the impact shrouded both her and Infia. He watched with anxious breath until the smoke cleared, revealing Infia’s cowering figure and Victoria nowhere to be seen.

“You were quick to conclude that she was telling the truth, weren’t you? Why now and not back then, I wonder?” Victoria’s voice echoed across the sky.

“Everyone get back now!” Anbi commanded, gathering students. The remaining Magneton joined him to evacuate the public, though Lute hesitated to follow them.

“That’s a Spirle High Point. B-but Infia,” he whispered, glancing back and forth.

“Now you’ve got it. Let’s beat her,” Sophitia said, posing for battle.

“Beat her? Sophitia, you’re crazy! How can you smile about something like that?” he cried.

“So much for wanting to be a hero. The chance presents itself and you get cold feet. After all that work I did setting it up for you,” Sophitia snickered. “Bring it you pompous fairy!”

“S-Sophitia, you don’t remember any of your attacks,” Lute warned.

“Don’t need to. I’ve wanted to smack this witch around the moment I met them,” she said.

“Just the scanner detecting what we can’t see is more than enough proof. Show yourself!” Meowstic demanded.

Victoria’s growing laughter took over the scene, although she still wasn’t visible. “Of all the things to bring me down and expose me. I never thought that the lowlife country bumpkins of this place would find such methods of doing so. But here I am.”

Victoria reappeared in four places at once across the sky, four Victorias perfectly identical and moving in their own manner. One of them floated in place to point at Sophitia with a livid glare. “You. I will definitely be remembering you and your name. I thought you were special; you have the beauty to be so. But you don’t know your place. How dare you even think of talking to me the way you have?”

“Sophitia, look out! Lute cried.

Sophitia didn’t get the chance to respond or even move. Out of nowhere, several pink beams of energy scattered off in aimless directions, but a few of them passed over her. She flinched into a defensive pose just before they hit, but she was hard pressed to not scream as pain tore through her. Just the one attack brought her one leg, one eye closed and fangs bared.

“Argh, why didn’t I see that coming?” she growled, glaring at the four Victoria. Each one flew around the school ground launching attacks at the Magneton, who each responded in kind. Goodra and Meowstic were trying to fight as well, although they were much more focused on giving orders.

Nothing anyone tried seemed to hit Victoria at all. Meowstic used Light Screen to protect himself and Goodra, while the Magneton darted around with robotic movements, flashing like turrets as their Thunderbolt and Mirror Shot attacks fired away into the sky.

“None of them are aiming for her at all. Magneton don’t even have noses, why are they affected by Victoria’s perfume?” Lute cried. He had brought Infia to his side in all the chaos, but she had done nothing but cower into his mane since.

“Better question is, why aren’t you two affected?” Sophitia barked. “Wait. Lute, you can see where she is? Like, perfectly? There’s only one Victoria right now, isn’t there?”

“There’s more than one Victoria?” he replied.

“Good enough!” she said, scooping Lute into her feelers.

“Wah, Sophitia what’re you—” he shrieked.

“Just go with me. Infia sit tight, we’ll be right back,” She said, making sure Lute was secure on her back. Once there, she got up and jogged forward a bit. “I’m only letting you do this once. Grab my ears and pull me towards her. Be my eyes for me!”

“Wait what?” he gasped.

“Once we’re close enough, hit her with everything you’ve got!” she said.

“Wait this isn’t a good idea we really shouldn’t—” Lute wiggled.

“Okay let’s go!” Sophitia shouted, shooting ahead as fast as she could. Lute cried out but did as he was told anyway, clutching an ear in each paw. Sophitia had to make sure she was sprinting and not leaping so that her floaty gait didn’t slow her down. She aimed for the centre of where the four Spritzee were fighting, and soon felt her left ear yanked so hard it hurt.

That pain was nothing compared to the Dazzling Gleam she’d just took, though. So she resisted it without complaint other than gritted fangs, dragging her body to the left without changing course. Surely enough, a burst of Fairy Wind showered over where she just was. That brought a smile to her face, but it was short lived as Lute pulled on her right ear. She shifted course again, dodging another burst of Fairy Wind.

“In the air, like really high! Right above us,” Lute ordered, and Sophitia obeyed right away.

To Lute, it was almost miraculous how well she obeyed. She leapt right up Victoria’s altitude perfectly, and they were face to face briefly. Victoria’s eyes widened, and then he knew he actually stood a chance. For the first time ever, he felt an instinct erupt within him, a feral reaction that just told him to attack with everything he had. And so, without truly thinking about it, he hopped off Sophitia’s back and tensed up his body for Quick Attack. He bashed right into the surprised Victoria with it, bringing them both toward the ground like a meteor.

Everyone gasped when Lute suddenly impacted an invisible Victoria, but was impressed that his collision caused a blast of dust on the ground. The two ended up in clash with Lute trying to push Victoria down, but she guarded herself with one wing. She looked like she didn’t put much effort into the act, and slapped him away after a moment. He didn’t let her go at just that though. The Eevee growled and leapt toward her with a Tackle attack followed by Bite.

“How dare you!” Victoria shrieked. She dragged him into the ground with a tackle of her own. Now that Lute was rolling away from her, it could be seen that it was the real her – feathers were sticking out all over her body, rough and unclean. Her back had an especially noticeable black burn mark centred around visible flesh, still red and fresh.

“She’s hurt,” Sophitia gasped. She immediately recalled Infia’s claim of nearly killing her.

“You… you can see me, can’t you? How did you do that?” Victoria said, breathing heavily. Lute didn’t reply, but he shifted back a bit. “That’s… no wait, that’s- it couldn’t be. You’re Marina’s Pokémon, aren’t you?”

Lute’s eye’s widened. “H-how do you know Mum?”

“Shh, don’t tell her you dingus!” Sophitia cried.

“Mum?” Victoria shifted away as well. That shock turned into laughter after a moment, and then she took off back into the air. “That explains it. That explains a lot, actually. Everything. Yes… the test might have been a failure, but I found so much more.”

“What’re you talking about? How do you know Mum?” Lute raised his voice.

“It’s none of your business, boy. But now that I know where you are,” she replied, looking away. She said nothing more, and shot off back into the sky.

“Don’t just stand there, don’t let her get away!” Sophitia shouted, glancing at the police. A few Magneton fired Mirror Shot, but by then it was too late. The Spritzee disappeared into a cloud of pink mist, this time vanishing completely.

“She’s gone,” Lute said. He and Sophitia frowned, staring at where she just was.

“Lute, new girl!” Raiju screamed, making them jump. They only had a second before he pounced on top of them and started nuzzling.

“Raiju- get off- quit it! Have you forgotten my name already?” Sophitia cried as she wrestled him off.

“Are you okay, though? I was actually super-duper scared. I couldn’t move my legs at all!” Raiju said, bouncing with glee.

“Might want to get that checked over, then. We’re fine,” Sophitia shook her head. “Infia though, are you okay?”

The Minun stepped away when Sophitia reached for her. She hid behind her paws and stumbled away, avoiding the touch of everyone. “What’s… are you alright? What’s wrong?”

“We’ll take over from here,” Meowstic appeared beside the group with the Goodra and the other police Magneton. “Despite your efforts to ’rescue’ Infia from us, we’re going to have to take her anyway.”

“What? Wait a minute, that’s not—” Sophitia said.

“Calm down. Her mother is a wanted terrorist and she was this close to following in their footsteps. Our investigation will continue at her house and via interview, meanwhile we sort out some new accommodation,” Goodra informed. “Infia isn’t being arrested this time, more like taken away for her safety. We may need the same from you two as well, but not right now. The lot of you can head home.”

“That’s still just- I didn’t even get to talk to her,” Sophitia said.

“I don’t want to talk to you anyway!” Infia cried.

Sophitia gasped. “Wait but I—”

“No! Leave me alone,” Infia pouted.

She didn’t even seem bothered by the surrounding police this time. The others gawked as the authorities led her away. The coloured ends of their magnets blinked red and blue while they also made siren sounds. Goodra and Meowstic was last out, and sat on top of the Magnezone to let it drive them away.

“You two shouldn’t linger, either. Lucky you, being given the chance to leave school early,” Anbi said.

“Really? What’s with you?” Sophitia said with a groan.

“I’m guessing everything that happened here is to be confidential, too. No telling our parents or anything?” Cinder asked.

“Hey the cops didn’t say anything about it,” Anbi shrugged.

Sophitia slumped forward. “None of you are serious about this.”

“I hope Infia will be alright, though. She doesn’t do well in front of new Pokémon and stuff,” Lute said, still staring at where the police were.

Heh. At least he’s worrying about her, Sophitia smiled.
Last edited:
Episode 6: Agents of King’s Shield


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
5 Lassic.jpg

Episode 6: Agents of King’s Shield

“Why’d she go and push me away like that, huh? I was only trying to help and stuff,” Sophitia mumbled.

“You were really reckless, though. You put us on the spot and stuff. She’s really not good at peer pressure like that,” Lute replied just as quietly. They were both in their beds, lights out and moonlight peeking through the gaps of the curtain.

“You weren’t standing up for your friend, then that turned into a chance to show off your stuff. It worked out, so what’s the big deal?” she sighed.

“We could’ve gotten really hurt and stuff. It would’ve been way better and safer to stay out of it and let the police do their thing,” he reasoned.

“And then let Victoria have gotten away? Standing around and watching as wrongdoers do whatever they want is why crime exists in the first place,” she groaned and rolled to face away from him. Silence fell for a moment. “Hey, Lute? Where’s Infia’s dad?”

“… I don’t think she has one. She was adopted, after all,” he answered.

“Oh,” she said. Silence again. “What about your dad?”

Lute made a sound and didn’t reply.

“Is it a bad subject?”

“No. I’ve never met him, and Mum won’t tell me, either,” he said, shifting under the covers. “… Thanks, Sophitia.”


“For helping Infia today. You helped me battle Victoria, too. I wouldn’t have been brave enough,” he said.

“That’s more like it. Some recognition,” she finally smiled.

He rolled his eyes. “No need to be like that. Goodnight, now.”

“Goodnight, Lute.”

The next morning…

“Lute, there you are. Why does it take you longer than Sophitia to get washed?” Marina greeted, welcoming the Eevee to the breakfast table. Scones, pancakes, and some large fruits were laid out for them to help themselves to, which Sophitia had piled up to make a tower on her plate. Once he saw that, Lute sighed and shook his head, helping himself to one of each.

“Because she doesn’t wash properly,” he grumbled.

“I do I do. You’re just more of a girl than I am,” she said before stuffing her face. “Ibs all jubbs bwecwause I’m—”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full. Anyway, I wish you’d actually told me what you did yesterday rather than letting me find out thanks to the police,” the Vaporeon rambled as she shuffled through a bag to reveal a note. “They invited us to a little meet over in Densan City.”

“The police? Invited us?” Sophitia snatched the note.

“Sophitia,” Lute groaned.

“By ‘invited’ I mean ‘ordered’, of course. Because your little confrontation involved a wanted Spirle member, the big guns need a report. We’re going there once you’ve eaten,” Marina informed.

“You’d think an order from the authorities would be more hard written than this. But they’re pretty polite about it,” Sophitia said, returning to her food. She stuffed more into her mouth than could fit, yet had no difficulty chewing and gulping.

“If you’re actually planning on eating all that, we’ll be late,” Lute said.

“Better than letting it go to waste,” she said.

“Just wrap it up!” he cried.

“No. Food like this deserves to be savoured, enjoyed! Especially since Marina’s gone through so much effort to make it all,” she said.

“I don’t mind, honestly. I figured you liked your food, so I made a lot,” Marina said with a giggle.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sophitia slowed down.

“It means you’re a glutton. You’re kinda chubby in general. Keep eating like that and you really will get fat,” Lute snickered, too.

“Hey!” she cried, looking at herself. “I may look a bit pudgy, but it’s, uh, muscley fat. Yes.”

“Muscley fat?” Lute said, half-lidded.

“Yeah you know, muscle that got turned into fat. It only takes a bit of work and all of this turns back into muscle. I just gotta use Bulk Up,” Sophitia replied, still eating.

Lute took a moment to think about that. “Can Sylveon even do Bulk Up?”

“Not with that tone they can’t!” she cried.

“If I can’t use Bulk Up, how can any of my evolutions?” he raised his voice.

Marina watched as the duo’s bickering descend into pokes and slaps, and giggled again. She stood up to get their attention. “Well if the husband and wife are done, we can be on our way, then.”

“Husband and- me and him? C’mon, never in million years!” Sophitia cried, standing up as well.

“You always say that when I’m talking to a girl,” Lute said with a groan.

The casual chatter carried on as they left the house. They went in the opposite direction of the school this time, though there was little difference in population. Few Pokémon were around, and those that were, they concentrated on their shopping and natural duties. Some tended fields and gardens, while others hauled materials back and forth to maintain the basic buildings around.

The road remained this quiet even though they were headed towards the sea. Their destination wasn’t exactly a port, but a bundle of huts and houses closer together than anywhere else in the town. One of those buildings was taller than the others and was made of bricks, sturdy and rectangular in appearance. That was when Sophitia went quiet and explored with her eyes, slowing down to get a good look at it all.

“It’s Everend’s gondola station. It’s what Pokémon use to get between the islands of Aseria if they can’t fly,” Marina explained as she walked right in.

“We’re leaving the island?” Sophitia asked.

“Well yeah, Mum did say we’re headed to Densan City. I’ve never been that far out, but I’ve heard a lot about it,” Lute said. His eyes were brightening with excitement. “It’s supposed to be one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. And it has the Ministry of Science, where they’re always developing new tech and experimenting with the world’s phenomena. Stuff like the V-Wave, or ancient technology that they unearth in museums!”

“How do you know about this?” Marina asked.

“There are books and stuff at school. Plus, sometimes the other guys talk about it when there’s big news and stuff,” he said, smiling wide.

“Figures a nerd like you would get excited,” Sophitia turned away. “But what’s a gondola?”

“They’re our transport. They’re like little carriages that get carried through the sky by rails and wires,” Lute explained, scratching his chin with the top of his paw. “They’re electronically powered, but supposedly it’s basic V-Wave technology that makes it environmentally friendly. They operate based on timing, though. So you don’t just get on one when you want. You have to buy a ticket and then wait for one to arrive. You also have to make sure that the gondola you’re getting on is going to the right place.”

Sophitia actually looked like she was listening, but a furrowed brow made Lute stop. “I… think I get it. Sounds easy enough. But for some reason, the concept sounds really familiar.”

“It’s simple Aseria stuff. You may have lost your memories, but something like this wouldn’t go too far,” Marina nodded.

“If you say so,” the Sylveon mumbled, still unsure.

Inside the station was relatively empty, save for a few Pokémon dressed in cute uniform hats. Metal folding doors made for ticket barriers, while miniature computers dug into the walls served as ticket machines. The machines were at a variety of heights and had a funny feeling film over them that felt smooth to touch. Marina took out the letter and let the ticket barrier scan that, and they opened.

“They were nice enough to give us free travel so we wouldn’t be late. So c’mon kids,” she called. Sophitia had to be tapped to walk over.

“I hate being called a kid,” she grumbled.

A quick look at the station map and a short walk up a few steps to reach the right platform, and the gondola was already docked and ready for them to board. It was a single carriage with large windows on all sides bar the floor, cushioned seats lining the left and right ends, and a conductor Pokémon waiting for them and other passengers. A Klefki with a card key amongst its usual keys, who looked happy to see them.

“It’s about time you showed up. We were about to set off full-steam without you,” Klefki greeted in an unexpectedly gruff tone. He darted around the three of them like a Cutiefly. “One adult, two seniors. I might as well verify your tickets now.”

“Aww what, really? We already got past those wall-machine thingies, why’ve we gotta show them again?” Sophitia said while Marina obliged anyway.

“Sorry lil’ missy. That just be how the job goes. Can’t be having any scoundrels jump the barriers with fake tickets, can we?” Klefki said without looking at Sophitia. He was examed the note intently, and his face gleamed with a cute excitement. Sophitia didn’t reply, but watched curiously. “Two single-use tickets from here to Densan Central and back. You’re all cleared to go!”

“Thank you,” Marina said.

“This is so weird,” Sophitia mumbled as the Klefki continued to flutter around.

“Last call? No one? Then we’re off! Passengers, please keep all appendages inside the carriage at all times and do not obstruct the doorways. I recommend being seated or holding the handrails should there be turbulence,” Klefki recited as he spiralled toward the ceiling.

There was a line of keyholes there, to which he separated his keyring to let his sides dangle like thin arms. He inserted those arms and some keys into a few slots, and then he looked like part of the gondola itself, glowing like an electronic light while rotating. An overexcited smile remained on his face the whole time.

The floor shook as the gondola accelerated, taking Sophitia off-balance. She squeaked and blushed when she saw Lute and Marina already sat on one side. “This thing actually works? We’re like, actually moving?”

“Yeah, come and join us!” Lute laughed lightly. Sophitia cried back and wrapped all four feelers around one of the poles. She could barely steady herself, hind legs crossed and downed, while her front scrambled and cradled the pole for life.

“N-no way! What is this thing? I can’t move! Someone help!” she squealed.

“C-calm down, we’ve barely started moving. We’re still going up into the air,” Lute held a paw out.

“We’re going up? Up high? How high?” she squeaked.

“Huh. I didn’t take you for getting travel sick like this,” Marina was surprised as well.

“The floor is moving! I can hear the wind beside me, too. And the clouds are – oh gods, why are there clouds beside me? Get me off this thing before it kills us all!” Sophitia screamed.

“It’s not going to kill us, we’ll be fine. T-take a proper look around. You can see all the scenery around us, isn’t it great?” Lute said.

“No it’s NOT!” she cried at the top of her voice.

It took them a long while to reach their destination, or according to Marina, it felt longer because most of the time was spent trying to calm down Sophitia. It took work, but in the end, they managed to get her to settle down at the foot of the seats where she couldn’t see the windows. The moment they docked and the doors opened, she bolted out, gasping as if she’d be holding her breath the whole time.

“Never take me on one of those things ever again!” she shouted.

“I’m sorry but we’re going to need to go back on them to get home. This place is too far away to get back in time any other way. Remember we’re still during a school week – this isn’t a holiday,” Marina stated as she led Lute off the carriage. “We’re going to the police to give your report and then we’re heading home.”

“Aww but Mum, this is Sophitia’s first time out of Everend. Can’t we look around and see if anything jogs her memory?” Lute whined.

“You’re only saying that because this is your first time here too and you want to look around. We don’t have a lot of money to spend and you two have got to be back to school tomorrow,” Marina argued.

“That’s fine, we won’t spend anything,” he proposed, tail wagging in excitement.

Marina rolled her eyes and looked away. “Okay. But stick with me. We’re sorting out the police report before we do anything.”

“Yay, thank you, Mum!” Lute cheered. He rushed to the edge of the station exit. It was open air and overlooked much of the city beyond. “Sophitia, come and look at this.”

“It’s,” mouthed the Sylveon.

A skyline of stale clouds covered the sky as far as the eye could see. All of it was so thick that not a single shade of blue peeked through. Below that, an irritating mess of rails, wires, and construction machinery webbed amongst the endless stack of towering buildings. They were pretty high up, yet many of the buildings went ever higher, one of which looked like it was actually touching the clouds. Sophitia couldn’t help but crinkle her nose at the air, which she was sure was dirty enough to have a taste.

On the distant ground below was a maze of streets and roads chock full of more Pokémon than could ever be imagined in one place. Most were domesticated species that didn’t hunt or didn’t take up much space, and all of them gave the area a constant echo of chatter and marching.

Sophitia flinched when she felt a rumble below her, surprised to see another gondola come out of the wall they were stood on top of. This one headed deeper into the city, its rail weaving amongst the buildings and streets but high in the air. One look at it made her feel claustrophobic. It amongst many other gondolas was badly overpacked, even though they were three carriages long rather than one like the gondola they used to get here.

“How do these Pokémon function?” Sophitia cried, jaw dropped at it all.

“They’re all tourists, I think? Pokémon here to see the sights, just like us,” Lute said. Marina sighed.

“Stay with me now, you two. It’s not far, but I don’t want to lose you in the crowd,” Marina instructed as she led the way down into the street. “Many of these Pokémon work here. You may notice that all of them are the type to have two legs and two hands and aren’t very strong looking. They work all day on computers and things.”

“Computers? Really?” Sophitia commented, bothered by the amount of Pokémon around. Once they entered the street, she had to tuck her feelers in all the way just to not brush against anyone. A Mawile who was running to the station still managed to bump her, apologised, and ran off.

“C’mon, look where you’re going.” Lute groaned.

“Never mind that. I ain’t never seen a Mawile run that fast before,” Sophitia added.

“This place is where most of Aseria’s systems are managed. You’ve got the Ministry of Science dead ahead in the centre, where those technologies Lute mentioned earlier are developed,” Marina continued. She pointed to the areas she was talking about. “Far left of there is the waterworks. It’s here the reason why our shower works. The right is supposed to be a nature reserve, but it acts more like Pokémon trying to experiment with plants and nature. You know, ways to draw out more than just oxygen from trees and the like. It’s crazy weird.”

“You sure know a lot about this place,” Sophitia said with a smile. The Vaporeon shut her eyes and giggled, swaying her head.

“Despite being four legged, I used to work here. I thought it’d be interesting, but after I got my few looks around, it got too much for me. I wasn’t anything special, mind you,” she explained.

“Oh, neat. And I guess a place like this never changes,” Lute added.

“Precisely. We’re here now, this way,” Marina informed, referring to the note. She slowed down and glanced between the note and the scenery a few times. This spot was much quieter, though only because it was away from the main road. There weren’t any gondola rails overhead or open shops along the street, and most of them weren’t as flashy or colourful.

Minus the nursery that Marina had stopped in front of. It looked like a small, family-fun place, lacking any of the polish and sharpness that everything else here had. Even the banner was hand painted, with a few mistakes here and there.

“Apparently, this is the place? I was so sure it’d be a police station,” Marina remarked, taking a look back at the main road. They weren’t even that far from the district that counted as the Ministry of Science. “Who builds a nursery in a place like this?”

“They probably don’t get a lot of business. Can’t imagine half of these salarymon can even score,” Sophitia snickered. Marina’s eyes widened and she smacked her hard enough to earn a yelp. “What was that for?”

“Keep nasty comments like that to yourself, please,” Marina said. She pressed a buzzer beside the closed shutters. “No harm in asking if this is the right place.”

They waited a while, but surely enough, part of the shutter opened to reveal an open door. A Goodra had to duck through, but she smiled against Lute and Sophitia’s surprise.

“Thank goodness, you made it! I was worried that you’d get confused about the place,” Goodra greeted. She held the shutter up to welcome them in.

“Not exactly the most ideal place to hold a police meeting. Is this some sort of undercover base?” Marina asked.

“Mmm, not exactly. That’s an exciting guess, though,” Goodra said. She walked right through the first room. It was devoid of life right now, but there were small beds and cots that were well maintained, while the floor was littered with baby toys. “Since Marina’s here, I won’t stall otherwise. Follow me.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Sophitia asked.

“The babies that stay here look like they have a good time,” Lute giggled as they walked through it all. Everything resembled the house of a standard Pokémon, with well-spaced rooms designated for cooking, storage, and all else. It was exactly like home, but everything was laid out differently and was made to house multiple children.

To his surprise, it kept going. Down the hall and past the nap room and into a collection of cupboards and things. It was dark in here, dark and dusty enough to irritate the nose. One cupboard had double doors and a padlock, which Goodra promptly unlocked.

“Right. Everything that happens from here on is confidential. That means you’re not allowed to talk about it at all after you leave, not even to yourselves,” Goodra stated. She turned to face them and tucked her arms behind her back. “And I mean it. Not a hint, not a word, not a thing gets talked about amongst yourselves.”

“You know, telling us this while we’re out here, we could like, leave and sell this place out if it really is a secret base or something,” Sophitia said with a smug smile.

Goodra rubbed her chin, habitually smearing green goo over it. “I mean yes, you could, but I doubt you’d get very far.”

“If I were you, I’d take her word for it,” Marina said, unbothered.

“Eek. I guess we don’t actually have a choice then, do we?” Sophitia squeaked.

“No. You really don’t,” Goodra said.

Inside was a corridor wider than the double doors leading into them, though the walkway they had to get across was thin. Black abyss surrounded them on both sides, while the walls furthest to the left and right were a perfectly clean tiled white. They had to go down a few steps, but Goodra had them walk right through to the cybernetic door on the other side.

“What is this place?” Lute asked, gawking.

“We had to make some considerations but came to a conclusion pretty quickly,” Goodra began, not looking back at them. She laid a slimy hand on a panel beside the door at the other side, which opened up by disintegrating into many little particles to let them through. It reformed in the same way once they were in.

The moment they entered, Marina let out a loud bundle of inaudible sounds and staggered backwards in shock. Lute looked for an answer before asking, but spot anything that was too surprising that they hadn’t seen thus far. Rows and rows of hi-tech computers and machinery with Pokémon working at each, a large, electronic blackboard that had several screens of surveillance cameras active, and stacks and messes of notes and paper all over the desks and stools.

The only difference this time was that there were plenty of mature Pokémon around. The one Marina seemed to be astonished by was the Delphox that turned at her sound, a tall, smooth and well-groomed Delphox. They had a confident smile on its face as it turned. They wore a strange device tucked underneath one of his ears. It looked like a pair of glasses cut in half, covering its right eye with a green visor.

“Is this them?” he said, revealing a proud, strong, stable voice. Goodra didn’t answer as she stood beside him to address Lute and the others properly.

“Try not to get so flustered. He’s not a celebrity down here,” Goodra giggled.

“Yes. Sure. Lassic, head of technology, president of Aseria, leading authority on the maintenance of the V-Wave phenomenon,” Marina replied, making Lute and Sophitia gasp. “You know, just casually the most famous Pokémon in the whole world.”

“When you put it that way, it does seem overwhelming,” Lassic said, scratching the back of his head. “But I am just another Pokémon at the end of the way. Everything I can do; other Pokémon could do just as well.”

“So you’ve met Lassic. I am Silver,” Goodra introduced. “You already know why we brought you here: your battle against the Spirle High Point, Victoria.”

“It wasn’t my idea, I swear!” Lute cried.

“I know. I was there,” Silver said, half-lidded.

“You just need a report, don’t you?” Marina asked.

“No, actually. We want to understand what you did that enabled you to bypass her illusions. We’ve confronted High Points many times, yet that was the closest we had ever been to defeating one. In fact, in Victoria’s case, that is the only time we’ve ever seen her take damage. Her illusions have confounded us that much,” Silver explained with folded arms.

“Well I dunno what to tell ya. Those illusions just didn’t work on Lute, so I made him be my eyes for me,” Sophitia shrugged with her feelers.

“I don’t know what to say, either. I can’t even see what you all are talking about when you say she has illusions,” Lute turned away. Marina glanced at him; her face eerily straight.

“I feared this might be the response, which is why we agreed to bring you this far out. Whether or not you know why her illusions work, we will need you to aid us in our battles against her. You may be the only Pokémon capable of fighting Victoria for us,” Silver continued.

“My son is not a weapon. He’s just a student,” Marina stated.

“If Lute is the only one who can help fight this high-class terrorist that’s got Aseria up in arms, then he should fight it. Who cares if normal school stuff gets in the way?” Sophitia said. “Better than letting Victoria do what she wants.”

“You really don’t know much better, do you Sophitia? What can a student with little battle experience do against a terrorist? I’m not putting my son in that much danger,” Marina raised her voice.

“Silver has worded this badly,” Lassic said, tapping his wand on his arm. “We’re not throwing Lute into a battle with terrorists, we’re requesting that he join us in our endeavours to protect the Pokémon of Aseria. And the best way to do that is to form a team around his abilities. You’ll be operating as a unit within the Agents of King’s Shield.”

“Wait, is that what this place is?” Lute gasped.

“Yes. This is one of many bases of operations for the Agents of King’s Shield, the team that protects Aseria from all kinds. We want you to form a team here, grow stronger, and use your gift of seeing through these illusions to protect the Pokémon of Aseria,” Lassic informed. Lute’s face brightened at every word. “What role you would take on is down to you. You could be a rescue team, exploration team, or even plain missionaries. Regardless, your powers are seen as an asset we could not pass up the chance to request.”

“I decline,” Marina said right away, stepping forward.

“M-Mum!” Lute gasped.

“You already know my stance on all of this, Silver. Why you would try to drag me back into this, I don’t know. But my answer isn’t changing,” Marina’s tone sharpened with every word.

“That’s why we’re asking Lute, not you,” Silver replied, bringing the room to silence. It took a moment for the Eevee to realise they were waiting for him, where he beamed up with a blush.

“I-I accept. I-I-I mean, what would you have me do, Miss Silver and Mister Lassic?” he said, standing straight and tall. He looked like he was about to explode into glitter and rainbows, to which Sophitia rolled her eyes.

“Well hold on a sec, you all know it wasn’t just him, right? He was gonna run away and hide like all the other Pokémon until I stepped in. I was the one that did all the real fighting,” Sophitia pointed out.

“That’s why you’ll be the leader of this unit. Lead investigator and the one that initiates each objective,” Silver informed.

“Heck yeah. I get to order you around now,” she gave Lute a smug look.

“Wa-wait no that’s a terrible idea, don’t make her leader. I’m the one that can see through the illusions, I’m the one you need,” he argued.

“Oh cut it out. You wouldn’t even be getting this chance if I hadn’t made you battle, and you know it,” she said, tickling his nose. He opened his mouth to respond, but grumbled instead. “Exactly.”

“Lute?” a familiar voice called out. Infia was stood off to the side, clutching her chest. Escorted by a stern Fennekin, she looked pale and thirsty.

“Infia? You’re here?” Lute gasped.

“Infia is going to be part of your unit as well. She has access to the house Victoria lived in, and is also capable of seeing through her illusions. We need her as much as we need you,” Silver explained. Lute smiled and laughed as he jogged over.

“The way you’re talking, you already decided this was going to happen, didn’t you?” Marinna said furiously.

“We did, and I’m not going to hide that. Spirle have had us in not the greatest of positions, but this may turn the tide. We can’t afford to pass up the chance,” Lassic admitted. “But I implore you not to fret. We work in the interests of the Pokémon first and foremost before everything. Your lives will barely change, given you are still in education and all. And lastly, we wouldn’t expect you to do all of this for free.”

“Wait, we get paid?” Sophitia gasped.

“We’re you expecting any less?” Silver asked.

“I dunno, I don’t know anything about this stuff. So what’re we talking? I might get a little motivated if it’s fancy,” she said with a giggle. Silver and Lassic exchanged glances, and then Lassic handed her two strips of paper. “What’re these?”

“You’ll get paid in money when jobs are actually done. But for now, you and Lute can have these as thanks for your recent investigation. They’re backstage tickets to that upcoming show from Esther,” Lassic explained.

“Esther’s show?” Infia squeaked. She rushed over to see the tickets for herself, and her face brightened.

“Yes. Admittedly I’m sort of just passing these on to you. I got invited backstage and all, but to be honest, pop gigs aren’t really my thing,” Lassic scratched the back of his head. “I’m more of a metal kind of guy.”

“Of course you are,” Sophitia rolled her eyes again.

“Lute, you’re so lucky. I’d do anything to go to one of Esther’s shows, I love her music,” Infia said. She looked down. “But Mum- I mean Victoria always said they were an easy way to waste money. Plus, Esther never plays close enough to Everend.”

“None of that fancy stuff ever happens close to Everend. I guess it would be expensive and stuff to go,” Lute said. “Gah, never mind that, are you okay, Infia? This is the first time I’ve seen you since.”

“Are you okay? You’re the one that was fighting. All I did was run away and stuff,” she replied, twiddling her feet.

“But now you’re the one without a mum, and you’ve been with the police since, right?” he gasped.

“I,” she mouthed and clutched her skirt. “I didn’t get to change clothes. A-and it wasn’t very comfy sleeping here, either. B-b-but it’s alright, you don’t need to worry about me. I’m just moaning about little stuff. Mister Phoenix is going to take care of me now. And I’m still allowed to go back to Everend.”

“Phew, that’s alright then. Plus, you’re part of our team too, right? So things could get real fun soon!” he said, bouncing in excitement.

“And dangerous,” she said.

“That too, but we’ll be okay as long as we all work together and stuff. You won’t need to worry,” he raised a paw.

“As long as you’re here, too,” she mumbled and looked away. She started blushing. “Thank you, Lute.”

Sophitia watched the two of them converse and had to resist the urge to giggle at them. Man, that ship is in full swing. This kid has more going for him than he realises.

“Here. Keep these in your belongings at all times,” Silver handed them some badges from a box. “They’re your team badges. They’ll beep and vibrate when you’re on call, so head to the nearest Deposit Box and scan them there. You’ll be transported to the nearest base, where a higher up can brief you.”

“And if a deposit box isn’t available, or it’s simply an S.O.S callout,” Lassic added. He held a badge forward in front of him. Pressing a button in the centre made a screen pop out in front of him, though the screen was holographic. “You can see the callout or a radar map of the signal from here. Of course, this also doubles as having a map of your nearby terrain anytime you need it, but it doesn’t work inside of mystery dungeons.”

“Wow, that’s so cool and useful! Putting the ‘agent’ in Agents of King’s Shield,” Lute remarked, admiring his badge.

“Also just seems a bit… yeah, it’s cool,” Sophitia said, unsure of hers. “This lets you know where we are constantly, doesn’t it?”

“Only while you’re on call. Our operators back here will only signal you in if you’re near the situation,” Silver pointed to the surveillance screen.

“Oh yeah. That makes sense, I guess,” Sophitia said.

“Keep these badges on your being at all times. You’ll need them to activate things like the door I used to get in here. The screen also doubles as a diary and a scanner like the one that Meowstic used. You can also video call for free unlike your Wonder Orbs, but only with other agents. That function is not to be used in a public space,” Silver explained as she showcased each function

“How many things can this one little badged do? How does something like this even exist?” Sophitia cried. “It must break super easily or something.”

“It’s all thanks to this genius. Once you understand how to work with V-Waves, it seems like you can create anything,” Silver replied.

“Again, you make it seem so much more overwhelming than it is. But really, it’s no more advanced than a modified Wonder Orb,” Lassic admitted.

“Which in itself is a pretty impressive piece of tech,” Silver added.

“You can say that again,” Lute agreed.

“Now listen, you three. You aren’t exactly agents yet, and again, everything that happens here and regarding your operations involving Spirle are to be top secret. So don’t go showing anything off to your friends or making it obvious. We’ll know if you do. For now, you’re dismissed to go home. Go back the way you came, and we’ll be in contact with you again in the future,” Silver explained. She swiped an arm aside. “Agents: dismissed!”
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*Crazy Absol Noises*
Behind a laptop, most likely with tea
  1. mawile
I've only read the first two chapters so far, but this is a really interesting premise! I was drawn in by the description of a futuristic PMD setting. The characters are sweet, and being a fan of eevee I have no complaints on the eeveelution cast! I'm excited to meet more of the cast you've shown in the title page.

The sylveon is a mysterious character, and I was surprised to find that's she's the amnesiac of the story! That was a nice revelation, and we got to see how she lost her memory too. I get the feel of a PMD game here where a rookie dungeon explorer meets an amnesiac human. I don't know if that's deliberate, but even if not, it's a nice parallel.

Lute is a sweet character, too. I felt his disgust at all that filth. Let's hope he can keep his fur clean in later chapters!

That river cave did seem pretty gross, and made me think of a sewer. I'm intrigued by all the machinery that the frogadier were messing with. Did they open some flood gates to wash our heroes away? Or was that the tide coming in? Whatever the case, you've set up a very mysterious premise here.

I look forward to reading more, but I have to go out! XD I'll try to get to the next two chapters when I can =D
Episode 7: The First Callout


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
Episode 7: The First Callout

“Sophitia, hey, uh,” Lute said. The duo were back home following yesterday’s busy travel. “I didn’t really get the chance earlier, but I wanted to thank you properly.”

“Me? What for? I mean I know I’m pretty great, but what for this time?” Sophitia replied, sitting up from under the covers.

“Oh ha ha. But seriously. I didn’t think that when you made me battle Victoria like that, it’d grow into this,” he began. He shifted to sit up and look at her, though he couldn’t make out her figure in the dark. “It’s honestly been my dream to join the Agents of King’s Shield. I’m not exactly there yet, but thanks to you, I have a chance and stuff. And they even mentioned mystery dungeons.”

“Mm hmm.”

“At first I was upset about it, but life’s going to start getting exciting now. I just know it,” he said a little too loudly, so she hushed him. He sat back down and got comfy under his blankets. “Before I found you, everything was just quiet and routine. Nothing ever happens here in Everend. Now we’re going to be having our own little adventure and stuff. We’ve got Esther’s show in a few days, I have this cool badge that does all this stuff, and we’re going to be helping take down Spirle. I’m still pretty scared about fighting them, but let’s do our best, okay?”

“Listen to me and you’ll be fine. No need to be scared of those louts,” she yawned. “Though I’d be lying if I said I was surprised by how strong Victoria really is.”

“You recovered from her attack well, though,” he praised.

“That doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt a ton. I’m supposed to be super resilient, but that one really tore through me,” she admitted. Lute was quiet, so she waved at him with a feeler. “Don’t go telling Raiju and Cinder I admitted that. They’ll never shut up about it.”

“It’s not that, it’s… do you remember that about yourself?” he asked.

Sophitia went quiet. “I’ll chalk that to common knowledge about Sylveon in general.”

“Please tell me what you’re thinking,” he asked.

“I don’t remember anything in particular. I just… look, when that was going on, I was getting really upset about it and all. When there’s Pokémon that need beatin’ up, it’s like a candle in me just lights up, and I don’t wanna stand around letting those Pokémon go. I guess I’m someone that enjoys fighting. Hope that’s not too much of a problem for you,” she explained.

“As long as we’re only fighting bad guys and we’re not hurting anyone,” he replied.

“Good, ‘cos I’ll make you into a fighter if it kills me,” she said.

“… Wait what?”

The next morning, things fell right back into that routine Lute mentioned. The duo got woken up by Marina, had their wash, Sophitia overate at breakfast, and then the two leisurely trotted to school. The usual stale weather was present, with its unmoving clouds and plain colours. All was quiet besides the sounds of morning chores and singing Pikipek.

When the school came into sight, that’s when the noise of activity took over and Pokémon became visible. From this distance, everything was as it should have been. Lute snuck a worried look into his bag and pretended to search through it.

“Remember what they said. Stuff’s gonna be normal for a while, and they’re not putting us on anything dramatic right away,” Sophitia said.

“Oh. Yeah, right,” he tried not to look disappointed. Everything he needed for school was in there, and the badge was well hidden, but untouched.

“Hmm. You’re so eager,” Sophitia giggled. Heat rushed to his cheeks.

“No I’m not. I’m just making sure nobody will find it,” he looked away. Sophitia giggled again, and then stopped with a sudden jolt. Lute got a jolt of his own in the form of a strong rumble close by. His bag was vibrating, and could only be heard with the surroundings this quiet. They exchanged glances and shared a sneaky look inside, and surely enough, the badge was vibrating, and its central button blinked red.

“I-it really is… gods, is this a joke?” She whispered, pulling her badge out.

Lute laughed eagerly and sprinted for the nearest cover beside a building. Holding the badge out before him, he pressed the button with a hearty shout, “browse!”

The map of Aseria appeared before them via a holographic projection. It was basic in terms of showing the land and sea, but was detailed in terms of labels and measurements, as well as being coloured in correctly. Part of the map blinked with a sonar pattern, then the screen zoomed into that location, showing a panoramic view of the exact area the signal was coming from.

“That’s Den City. It looks like the nature reserve that Mum mentioned,” Lute stated.

“Wow, you grasped that quick. But there’s no message on the callout. Maybe they’re just testing that it’s working?” Sophitia said. She slipped her badge back into her bag. “Geez, right when school starts. What a joke.”

“I would’ve thought you’d want to get away from school. It didn’t seem like you enjoyed the place,” Lute commented.

“Eh, I just think it’s bad of them to go back on their word like this. We do have lives you know. C’mon, let’s go sort this out,” she looked around. “Uh, it’ll take us a while to get there, right?”

“Not if we use the Deposit Box. There’s one right here, right outside the school,” Lute called out, already several steps ahead.

He was by the very tool they needed, a curious safe with odd, circular patterns of purple and gold decorating it. With gears on all four sides and a small, touch-sensitive screen on its side, it was the definition of out of place. It was out of the way of the school’s entrance, off to the side and away from the eyes of the obvious.

“They said we just have it scan our badges, and it’ll take us to the nearest agent base,” he recalled.

“How didn’t I see this thing before? And somehow, I was expecting the box to look different. But they’re the same as ever,” she smiled as she joined him. Lute continued to fiddle with the screen for a moment, froze, and then snapped to look up at her. “What?”

“What you just said.”

“What about it?”

“You know what a Deposit Box is? You said that as if you’ve seen one before,” he gasped.

“Oh c’mon, everyone knows what a Deposit Box is. It’s just something that’s jogging my memory of small details, nothing important,” she rolled her eyes.

“I don’t think so. Maybe where you come from, there are lots of Deposit Boxes. This is the only one in Everend, so barely anyone uses it besides travellers. I don’t even have anything stored in it,” Lute explained and returned to the screen. “Here we are, user sign-in via pawprint. If I just press the badge onto it now…”

Sophitia tilted her head as she warily stepped around him. She knew what the box was: a convenient storage for travellers that was placed in various locations all over the world, particularly outside of mystery dungeons. If you put something important inside one, you can take it out from any of the boxes in the world, and only you could do that, like some sort of digital storage for real-world items. It was a magical piece of tech that was a godsend to everyone.

But a screen? Pawprint scanning? Despite the box looking as she remembered, that was all new to her, so she refused to touch it. She was surprised when the box reacted to whatever Lute did to it, opening up to reveal a transparent, rainbow light from within. She was frightened, but Lute’s excitement seemed to explode.

“That’s the same portal as a Warp Orb. It worked!” he cheered. “C’mon Sophitia, let’s jump in.”

“We have to jump in that?” she squeaked.

“We already know where it’ll take us. C’mon, let’s go!” he said, backing up. She gulped and moaned but backed up with him anyway, and then they leapt together, disappearing into the light of the box. It sealed itself up and returned to normal as soon as they were in, leaving no evidence of its use at all.

Travelling through the warp was weird. It was like they were carried by an underwater stream, only it didn’t hurt or irritate and their bodies felt under control. The rainbow colours spiralled around them to their sides, while their destination was a white light that grew bigger as they approached. It took seconds, yet it had the duo focused. They faced forward with intense glares while their paws were linked.

They were thrown back into the real world once they passed through the white light. Lute was surprised to find himself up in the air, but thanks to Sophitia holding his paw, the duo floated to the ground safely. The moment they did, his face went red and he leaned away, not knowing whether to retract or keep his paw there.

“U-uh, um, So-Sophitia?” he said. She was oblivious until he spoke.

“What? Is there- oh, you stupid kid!” she cried, pulling her paw away and slapping him with a feeler.

“What do you mean? You’re the one that held me first,” he cried and rubbed his face.

“Why would I hold- ugh, forget it, we don’t have time for this,” she shook her head to focus. “It looks like we can warp between Deposit Boxes. This one took us to Den City, just like the badge showed us.”

Lute couldn’t help but stumble forwards to check. Once again, the Deposit Box was off to the side of the main road, well away from public view. After just a few moments of walking, he could confirm that they were back in the populated, urban roads of Densan City’s main district. Not far from Silver’s nursery or the Ministry of Science, at that. The Deposit Box itself was on a ledge amongst some back-alley houses, so they’d have to climb down onto the road where they could blend right into the crowd.

“We really are. That was so fast,” she remarked. “If everyone could travel the world that fast…”

“C’mon, let’s go! Whoever called for help, they may not have that much time,” Lute led the way. Sophitia frowned at him and took the lead, using her feelers to push him back.

Their bickering didn’t get in the way of them admiring the area they were going to. As the two fought for who walked in front, they followed the signs and directions until they were inside the nature reserve. The closer they got, the more the population decreased and everything returned to familiar quiet. There was still a sense of urban advancement even though woodland, hedges, and flowers took the place of the buildings, as things like metal poles topped with wires and electronic devices, gondola rails, and manholes dotted the area.

What was expected of a nature reserve actually resembled a museum instead, Sophitia thought. A museum that was outside. The paths were smoothly paved and hard, but all square and rigid as they made a maze around all the artefacts and displays. Said displays were no greater than various types of flowers, aged trees, and even a Combee hive. At least it reeked of soil wherever they went.

She couldn’t help but slow down as she passed that last one. They even had boards with information on them, as if they were ancient relics with lore and mystery surrounding them. It was unsettling, being surrounded by all of this basic, familiar nature and having it be treated this way. Everend wasn’t lacking in green, so why did this place treat it all so carefully?

“Sunflower fields, Gracidea, berry trees… they’re not even rare berries, just basic Pinap and Chesto. If those are rare, then what the heck have I really been eating?” she whispered to herself.

“Whoa,” Lute gasped. His cry came from a distance, so she shook herself off and jogged around a few corners to find him.

At the very edge of the reserve was a barrier that ran along the coastline as far as the eye could see, but the ocean was too far below them to hear. A huge, aged structure made entirely of rusted stone was smack bang in the corner of the area. It had an arch shaped entrance, enormous pillars to keep its ceiling held up, and the surface of every single side was engraved with dozens of markings and hieroglyphs.

“Well at least they’re looking after it all,” Sophitia blinked at it.

“I wanna go inside,” Lute whispered.

“The S.O.S didn’t show this, though. We need to keep looking—” she replied, turning around. “Never mind. Found the problem.”

“You hav- wah!” he joined her and immediately flinched. “What’re those things?”

She couldn’t answer. She wanted to ask the same thing. Stood before them were sludgy monsters with murky, grimy substances that oozed off of bulky bodies. This sewage-coloured ooze shrouded most of their features, leaving just their general shape and the fabric head masks to distinguish them. There were three in total, two with long bodies and thin arms while the last was tall and wide with sharp scythes coming from both hands. Their masks were identical, mysteriously dry and textured like sandbags. Only their glowing red eyes peeked through the eyeholes, and they all groaned like monstrous zombies.

“Get ready to fight, Lute. That’s our enemy for sure,” Sophitia stretched her feet apart.

“Wait what? Those things?” he cried even louder. “I can’t fight those things. I don’t even know how to fight! What about you?”

“I still don’t remember my moves. It’s up to you,” she warned.

“What? No, I can’t do anything—”

“Well we’re gonna have to do something. Look, just trust me. Follow my orders and you’ll be okay,” she said with growing angst. The monsters had spotted them and roared. They raised their arms like weapons and made low, gurgled cries. “Quick, remind me of your moves!”

“Quick Attack and Swift. And maybe Bite. That’s all I know. And I don’t normally use them for battle,” he replied. The panic on his face turned her mind upside-down.

“How the heck do you use those moves not for- look forget it, here comes one!” she shouted and locked her eyes onto the enemy. Just like that, her mind righted itself, and she formulated fast. The biggest monster had come running first, sword-like arms raised and an excited growl coming from it. “Lute, use Quick Attack to get away to the side!”

The Eevee cried out a petty squeal, but knowing the order was to get away gave him the strength to act. He shook himself to bring up that strength, surrounding his body in white, and then leapt toward the plants. He dodged the first’ monster’s approach and had to skid to a stop. The monsters turned on him, and the one that came towards him had stopped to reconsider.

“Now use Swift. Aim for the head!” Sophitia swiped a feeler aside.

He had many questions, but the enthusiasm in her voice was infectious. It made him act on it without much thought. He raised his front legs briefly. White stars formed below his front paws, which he threw by crossing both paws with a cry of effort. The two stars spun through the air like paper planes, swerving and curling until they hit their target, where they hit its bulky chest and blew up into tiny blasts.

“Wah, no effect!” Lute cried and leaned away.

“You gotta put effort into it. And I said aim for the head!” Sophitia shouted and leapt over to him. The monster roared and raised its arms as it stomped toward him again. “It’s slow, so move!”

Lute cried like a baby but obeyed, just about escaping those arms as they smashed into the ground. Dents were left where the monster just was, dents so deep it was difficult to pull its arms out of it. It still turned to him though, fury drooling from its deep, low growl.

“Now’s your chance, aim for the head with Quick Attack!” she commanded, still on her way over to him.

“But Sophitia, I’m not strong enough,” he cried.

“Just trust me, give it your all!”

Lute still hesitated, even though the monster was bent over with its arms in the floor. He gulped on heavy, frantic breaths. This thing must have been ten times Sophitia’s size, making it dozens of times his own. Could he really beat it just because she said he could?

Of course he could. He was an Agent of King’s Shield now.

Whether he wanted to or not, he had to. The thought echoed through his mind repeatedly, and he stretched his feet apart. He strained with all his might and tensed up his body, putting his all into the best Quick Attack he could muster. With a cry of might, he charged into it, hitting its head so hard that the monster leaned right back and its arms were freed from the floor.

“That’s it! Now Swift, from point blank!” Sophitia shouted, an excited smile on her face.

Lute’s eagerness let him respond to the command right away, and he repeated his actions from earlier to throw his Swift attack. He could feel the force of the blasts from how close he was to the creature’s face. Smoke and light muffled his sight and hearing for a while.

For the first time in his life, he felt a thrill, a triumphant thrill that made him smile goofily at his achievement. He’d attacked well and shown that monster who was boss, and it was all thanks to Sophitia.

Or so he thought. Those feelings shrivelled away into regret, and anxiety when the smoke cleared to reveal the monster’s face. The whole moment took seconds, yet it felt like minutes to Lute, minutes where he told himself he shouldn’t have believed Sophitia. Minutes where he desperately searched for a way to avoid getting hit, but couldn’t find a solution besides bracing for the worst. The monster’s sharp arms were raised, and they moved faster than Lute was falling back to the ground. It raised them high, roared, and then slammed both down into him, smashing him into the cold pavement below.

“Lute!” Sophitia shrieked.

The monster didn’t respond to her at all. All combatants watched the dust clear until Lute was revealed to be in a crater, his body covered in bruises and dirt. Even still, the monster raised its arms again, throwing Sophitia into a panic.

Her instincts exploded and she threw herself into that crater. She practically tripped over and rolled across the ground to reach him in time. Her paws hugged him tight while her feelers rose high and whipped, and then the next thing she knew, she was straining against that giant’s arms. She was on her back so she could only roll away at this point, but not with Lute’s harmed body cradled by her stomach. One feeler was held high above her face with a giant shield made of pink light formed around the tip. The shield was strong enough to hold back both of the monster’s arms.

“Urgh, get the heck off me!” she shouted as she whipped with one of her free feelers. A sword made of the same light as that shield formed at the tip, giving her whip motion that much more force. The monster recoiled hard enough to make the ground rumble.

“S-Sophitia!” Lute gasped. He didn’t care about how much his body hurt right now. All he was interested in was the glowing shield and Sword Sophitia held.

“You good to go?” she rolled over to set him down. He cringed as his feet burnt, but a moan and a shiver and he was standing fine. “Okay. Let’s finish this.”

“Wait what? But what about- you just- aren’t we gonna talk about this? This, this is awesome! What is that attack?” he said, laughing maniacally. “You really are that great, Sophitia!”

“Will you focus? There’s three of them,” she replied, baring her fangs. The three sludgy monsters had sided with one another, but the centre one had a huge cut in its centre. The other two looked as though they were fretting as they exchanged growls and groans. Before either Eeveelution could ask, the monsters shrunk down and melted their forms into sludgy puddles a fraction of their sizes.

“What?” lute whispered and leaning back.

“Come on ya big drip! Where ya goin’?” Sophitia said as she leapt after them. The three puddles slid away from her though, up the wall, over the barrier, and into the sea. She stopped at the edge and leapt up to look over the wall at them, where they faded into the ocean’s colourless waves below.

“Hey, careful you don’t fall,” Lute wanted to pull her down. She frowned, groaned, and hopped back down.

“Got away. What weird monsters. Are they newly discovered Pokémon?” she wondered.

“I-I wish! Wait, no I don’t wish, they were horrible things. But they’re probably Pokémon,” Lute shivered.

“They were abominations!” a duo of girls answered. Lute and Sophitia turned in surprise. A Flabébé and a Floette floated before the ruins.
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Episode 8: Fairies and Seasons


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
6 Florrie and Flurrie.jpg

Episode 8: Fairies and Seasons

“Abominations?” Lute blinked at the two fairy types.

“Yes. The Pokémon call those abominations ‘The Risen’,” the Floette said. Her voice was serene but loud Pokémon of her size. “The Risen are monsters who have been showing up around this area recently. My field of Safeguard usually keeps them out, but those three slipped through. The Risen have been increasing in strength since their appearance, and have now reached the stage where I may no longer be able to keep them away.”

“It’s good thing they called us, then. Last thing we want are those… plants getting ruined,” Sophitia said slowly. “What is this place, anyway? It stands out so much.”

“The arch? It is a relic of history. Part of this nature preserve. Me and my sister Florrie, the Flabébé here, serve as protectors of relics like these,” Floette replied. “Come, children. Let us reward you for your valiant efforts.”

“I er, it was Sophitia that did everything, though. I was too weak to hurt them,” Lute blushed.

“Nonsense. We watched your boundless bravery,” Floette praised as she float up to him. She seemed to hesitate, and then slipped forward and kissed him on the slips, to which he recoiled immediately and spat.

“Hey what gives?” he started spitting and coughing exaggeratedly.

“Oh my. I would have thought that would be but a small act of appreciation for our saviours, but it appears to be your distaste,” Floette said, rubbing her face.

“Your way of rewarding Pokémon is a kiss? That’s gross!” Lute cried.

“Might’ve worked in the 90s,” Sophitia groaned and shrugged.

“For crying out loud sis, they’re clearly kids. They’re not gonna appreciate somethin’ like that,” Florrie dragged her palm down her face. Her voice was just as strong as Floette’s, but much younger and rougher.

“Then what could I repay them with, Florrie?” Floette asked.

“You don’t need to pay ‘em. They’re kids, they don’t know anything,” Florrie spat and blew raspberries.

“But they came to our aid when nobody else did. And the Sylveon has shown remarkable strength. There is no doubt about it, they are our heroes, the ones who responded to our awakening,” Floette said, facing them.

“Us? Na-uh, I’m just a Sylveon with memory loss,” Sophitia shrugged.

“But we are training to be heroes with the Agents of King’s Shield. Maybe this is like, the start of our adventure for real!” Lute started bouncing.

“Our ‘adventure’? I never heard anything about adventuring,” Sophitia replied. “Just about getting this done with so we can get back to school on time.”

“Seriously, why’re you so worried about school now?” Lute said, half-lidded. “C’mon, at least hear what they have to say. Maybe they know something about that really cool sword and shield attack you used.”

“We know not of the unusual powers you used just now, I’m afraid,” Floette informed, and they frowned. “But your usage of those strange moves instils my certainty that you are the important Pokémon we are meant to meet.”

“Geez sis, you’re a fool’s fool, you know that? Or fate’s fool, anyway,” Florrie complained.

“We fairies are important to Planet Aseria. We only awaken when the planet is in danger, where it is our duty to pass on knowledge and guidance to heroes that can resolve the planet’s crisis,” Floette began, floating toward some markings on the old wall. It looked like groups of Pokémon worshipping the sun, though that sun was very rigid and octagonal. “Look closely. The Pokémon of Aseria worship the Shaymin, and through their blessings, the Shaymin control the weather around the planet.”

“The weather? The Shaymin must’ve been some really cool and powerful Pokémon,” Lute’s eyes gleamed while Sophitia tilted her head.

“But we have been outside. Weather ceases to exist. The seasons do not cycle, and the weather is stale. If this continues, life on Planet Aseria will die,” Floette warned.

“Doesn’t that seem a bit much? I’m pretty sure we can live without wind or a cold winter,” Sophitia commented, half lidded.

“Many plants and even Pokémon rely on various weather conditions or the wind to sustain themselves. Pollination, necessary temperature conditions for living, and more. With the weather in this critical state, those Pokémon will surely suffer. Our task this time is to aid the hero in their restoration of the weather,” Floette explained.

“Well, I’m afraid we wouldn’t know a thing about anything to do with that. How to restore the weather or anything, if it really is not working properly,” Sophitia said.

“That… you must know. My call would not reach anyone but the hero, and you are the ones that came to our aid,” Floette said, beginning to sweat.

“See? Told you you’re fate’s fool. Embarrassed yet?” Florrie snickered.

“I’m sorry. If I knew how to fix the weather, I’d definitely do it. Maybe your call got mixed up with the same frequency as the badge?” Lute said. He rummaged through his badge to show them. “Are you guys Agents of King’s Shield, too?”

The two fairies exchanged glances and then Flabébé laughed out loud at her sister’s face. Floette blushed and shut her eyes. “I apologise greatly for you getting involved this way, but you are likely right. It appears my telepathy has gotten mixed up with your technology.”

“Still though, as funny as this is, you kids put up a pretty good fight,” Florrie said, swirling around them.

“Yes. The fact remains that you came to our aid and rescued us in a time of need. We are in your debt. We cannot pay you in currency, but if you should ever need us for a task, do not hesitate to ask. We owe you much,” Floette stated.

“Maybe you can help us find out about Sophitia’s cool sword and shield attack?” Lute suggested excitedly.

“School, Lute. We gotta get back there,” Sophitia said.

“We will search. Our role means we must stay within the vicinity of this area, but we will do our best to find out about your mysterious attack,” Floette promised with a bow.

You will do your best to find out about their move. I ain’t doing any charity work! Save your energy for the real hero, sis,” Florrie cried.

“… Yes, I will do my utmost to search,” she corrected. “What are your names, young Pokémon?”

“I’m Lute, and she’s Sophitia.” Lute nodded.

“We will remember them. Remember that we are here, and we can help you with what is within our power. Until then, we will remain here in waiting for the true hero,” Floette said. She spun and vanished in a flash, and her sister followed a moment later. Their voices echoed afterward, implying they were still there but invisible. Lute waited until he was sure all was silent before turning to Sophitia.

“I guess they’re gone. At least they may be able to help,” he said. “Let’s go! Silver’s gonna be so proud of us.”

Geez, you’re a little pet, aren’t ya?” Sophitia rolled her eyes as she walked off. “I doubt they know anything about who I was. They’re pretty weird Pokémon.”

“It’s worth a try, still. Anyone could know you,” he pointed out as he followed. “And all that stuff about a legendary hero… what if that’s what you really are? That’d be amazing, Sophitia!”

“You’re starting to really push the idea that I’m some super special Pokémon or something. I’m not some ‘legendary hero’ or anything, I’m just a Sylveon. Got that?”

“But… you couldn’t be. I saw you walk across water. And you took on those Spirle guys like it was nothing, too. And now you beat those Risen with a cool attack!” Lute got more excited at every word. “You can’t not be a special Pokémon, Sophitia.”

The Sylveon raised her head with an exaggerated groan. “Forget about me already! You’ve got bigger problems to deal with in your own life already.”

“I… do?”

“Yes. You do. Like Infia.”

“Infia? What about Infia?”

“She – uh, I can’t tell you exactly. But let’s just say it’s more obvious than a doughnut in a pile of belue berries. But of all the Pokémon not to realise, you haven’t. It’s annoying to hear you fretting over me when you should be worrying about her,” Sophitia rambled.

“I erm, I feel bad because you’re getting worked up, but I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about,” he started to sweat. Sophitia went half lidded, and then rummaged through her bag, pulling out a long strip of thick paper.

“Look, Esther’s show is this weekend, right? And you saw how excited she was when she found out we could go,” she began.

“She didn’t get a ticket, though. And she wouldn’t be able to go, anyway. Her mum is… oh, right. Where is she even living, now?” he thought about it.

“See the thing is, I don’t really like this place. Too much loud noise and scary technology. I don’t think I even wanna find out what a pop gig is like,” Sophitia said. She pushed the ticket into his paws. “So you’re gonna invite her to the show instead. And you two are gonna go.”

Lute raised an eyebrow. “Is this why you wanted to go to school so badly? To see Infia and give her the ticket?”

Gods, he figured THAT out but he can’t figure out that she likes him super badly? For goodness sakes! she cried in her head. “N-no. Not at all. I genuinely do not wanna go to this city for a pop gig. I can barely stand this place as it is.”

“Why do I have to give it to her, though? And what does any of this have to do with a problem with my life?” he said as took the ticket anyway.

Sophitia went half lidded again. “You know what? I’m just gonna go with: don’t ask questions you know you’re not gonna understand the answer to.”

“Aww what? C’mon, just tell me.”

“Na-uh. Just make sure you invite her on your terms. Even if she asks, it was you that decided to invite her instead, right?”

“That’s lying, but—”

“It doesn’t matter what it is! Just do it, okay?”

“Okay okay, geez. You’re even more worked up over Infia. Why is she a ‘problem’, though?” he asked

“You two?” Silver called out, making them both face forward. Just as they were leaving the nature reserve, the Goodra spotted them and rushed over. “What are you doing here? Don’t the two of you have school?”

“We do, but you called us. Or well, the base did. Our badges went off, we followed the radar, and then used the Deposit Box to get here,” Sophitia explained.

Silver’s mouth hung open, and she hesitated. “We didn’t call you, though.”

“Huh?” Lute turned around. “But we got called to the nature reserve. There were unidentified Pokémon there, and the fairies called them Risen. We had a really hard time defeating them, but Sophitia managed to drive them away.”

“I was in the base this whole morning. There have been no callouts to any agents. And even if there was a need, we would not call our newest recruits for a mission that dangerous,” Silver became stern. “If you two are abusing your perks, your badges will be revoked immediately and you will be arrested. I hope you’re aware of that.”

“But we’re—” Lute flinched

“Let it go, Lute,” Sophitia pinched him. “I’m sorry, Silver. But we’re on our way back to school right now.”

“Good. Don’t let me see you skipping school like this again,” Silver threatened.

“It wasn’t on purpose, though,” Lute moaned.

“Your guess was probably right, though. The fairies and their telepathy got mixed up with the badges,” Sophitia said as she led them off again.

“Still not fair we got told off for it, though,” he grumbled.

Silver watched them disappear into the crowds of Densan City’s main district, her face unchanging of the twisting concern their ramblings brought up. She had been on her way to the now empty nature reserve, but ran off back towards her nursery instead. She pushed and shoved away all the smaller Pokémon in her haste.

Once out of the noisy crowd, she went straight for the base and burst into the main room with more goo dripping off her than usual. All eyes turned to her, even those working on the computers.

“Where is Lassic? Is he here?” she asked.

“What’s the matter?” the Delphox replied, coming from underneath one of the desks. He had a few papers in his paws.

“Did you callout the new recruits? Lute and Sophitia. They were here in the nature reserve,” she asked.

“They were the children we had in here the other day, weren’t they? No, I didn’t. There was no reason to,” Lassic folded his arms.

“The nature reserve miraculously became vacant, alongside reports of Risen. Then they showed up there, saying that someone called them there via telepathy, but the telepathy got confused with the frequency the badges use for communication. They knew about the Risen as well,” Silver rambled and paced.

“Wonderful. They learnt about the Risen even though we tried to hide them,” Lassic replied. He snickered and scratched his chin. “It’s just like I thought. Those two would be worth keeping an eye on.”

“Anyone attached to Marina usually is. But I don’t understand why any of this happened,” Silver said.

“That’s not important. We just need to continue observing them,” Lassic nodded.

School wound up being as problematic as expected. Lute and Sophitia arrived in the middle of a lesson and couldn’t give a reasonable excuse as to why they missed so much, of course. Questions were asked but the secret of them being Agents of King’s Shield was kept, and all soon settled into the shenanigans of an ordinary day.

At least until lunch time. Cinder and Raiju attempted to rush off as per usual to eat and chat at their usual favourite spot, but Lute had his little errand to do, and so waited. The other Pokémon left the room in their noisy and excited groups, and through it all he searched for Infia, hoping she’d stay back like she usually did. To his dismay, even after everyone had left besides but Anbi and his group, Infia was nowhere to be found.

“So… why were we waitin’ again?” Raiju asked, a goofy smile on his face.

“It’s a secret. AKA none of your business,” Sophitia said, brushing his nose with a feeler.

“I don’t get it though. Where is Infia?” Lute asked with a worried look.

“So you are looking for her. Didn’t you see her leave with the others? She’s been acting really different since that happened,” Cinder replied.

“Different as in?” Lute wondered.

“Hanging out on the roof, super distracted in class, totally blanking when the other Pokémon tease her… I’m not sure whether I like it or not,” he admitted.

“I really need to talk to her. G-guess I’ll go find her,” Lute replied, walking off.

“We’ll wait here for ya then!” Sophitia said, a bright smile on her face, fangs and all. The others raised an eyebrow at her.

“Riiiiight. Okay, I won’t be long, but feel free to start without me,” Lute giggled. Sophitia waited until he was gone before she lowered her feelers. She couldn’t help but giggle, too.

“Looks like I get you from the get-go, huh?” Cinder sighed. “Please don’t tell me you made him ask her out?”

“And what if I did?” she replied smugly

“Isn’t that a good thing? It’s kinda obvious it’s hurtin’ her,” Raiju said.

“I guess it is a good thing, but it’s also not right for us to intervene, you know? It’s easy to do more damage than good,” Cinder warned. Sophitia blinked, and her smile slowly vanished.

“They’ll be fine. Trust me, the timing’s right,” she said.

The roof was easy to get to by following the stairs at the end of the hallway. Here was a spacious area of dusty tiles surrounded on all sides by a very tall caging. Despite being a roof area, this area had a ceiling, so most of it was kept in shadow.

You could see most of Everend and the surrounding fields from here, and that was exactly what Infia was looking at. She was at the far end of the area looking out at the town alone in silence. Lute couldn’t help but go quiet when he noticed her, but took more notice of the fact that this area was cold and lacked any wind.

“Infia,” he said when he was close to her.

“Lute?” she gasped. She didn’t look as surprised as she sounded.

“You’re here all alone. Is something wrong?” he asked.

“No, not really. Just thinking a lot about all that stuff that’s happened,” she said, returning to the scenery. Lute joined her side, and the two sat down. “Hey, lute… can I ask you a question?”

“You don’t even need to ask. Just say,” he smiled.

“A-are you weirded out by me?” she asked. He raised an eyebrow, so she blushed and turned away. “I m-mean how I, um, you know, ha-have to wear nappies and all stuff.”

“Uh, I did think it was weird at first. But it’s something you can’t help, right? Not like it affects me,” he went back to smiling. There was a pause. “So I guess no, I’m not weirded out.”

“You don’t have to pretend to be nice about it or anything. It’s fine if you think I’m nasty or gross or something,” she sighed. “Everyone else thinks I am.”

“I’m not pretending. If anything, I’d say you worry too much about being polite. You’re always saying sorry and stuff. Mum did a real good job teaching you,” he said. Infia shrivelled up a bit, and as if realising what he’d just said after a second, Lute did the same. “Well, I mean, like, you’re just a really nice Pokémon and I couldn’t imagine willingly being mean to you. And you’re definitely not gross.”

“This is, um, just a ‘what if’ question, and nothing related to real life or anything happening, but… if I was to suddenly disappear one day, what would you do?” she asked.

Lute faced the scenery again, and his smile faded. “I’d definitely be sad. One of my friends would’ve disappeared. We may not talk much, but I’d notice and stuff, you know?”

There was another pause, and she still wasn’t looking at him. “You’re not having to move house or something are you?”

“No. They let me keep Mum’s- I mean Victoria’s house. One of the agents is looking after me at home instead. It’s a Fennekin called Phoenix. He’s really quiet, so not much has changed there. He’s not at home all that much too,” she explained. She slowly returned to the scenery once again.

“Oh. So you’re by yourself a lot, huh?” he realised. No response. “Well uh, I actually came here to ask you something, too.”


Lute handed her the ticket. “Sophitia said she doesn’t want to go to Esther’s show this weekend, and I know how much you wanted to go and stuff, so I wondered if you wanted to come with me instead.”

“Y-you’re asking me? T-t-to go with you? On a—” she squeaked, going bright red. She froze and took in a sharp breath. “Wait, Sophitia or Raiju or someone didn’t tell you to ask me, did they?”

“Huh? No, I knew you wanted to go too,” he flinched and glanced aside. Infia turned right around to look if anyone else was there, but it was just open space that watched them. “I-is everything alright? I-I don’t mean to intrude if I’m doing anything—”

“N-no, I just- sorry about that. I’ll have to ask Phoenix, but yes, I want to go with you, Lute. I’m actually really happy you asked me,” she started blushing. “I-I’ll have to get a new dress. And find a way to cover up, um, you know what.”

“New clothes? Why would you need new clothes?” he cocked his head.

“I can’t go on a da- erm, go to a special thing looking like this!” she squeaked.

“But you look fine. And, to be honest, I don’t think you have to do anything to cover the nappy, either. Nobody at all could tell until you said,” Lute pointed out.

“This old thing?” Infia cried. She gave her tutu a blush. “No way! You just don’t understand clothes, Lute. You don’t wear any.”

“If you say so,” he rolled his eyes.

“Even though you guys know about the nappy, I don’t want anyone else finding out, you know? It’s still embarrassing. You have to keep it a secret, please!” she begged.

“Of course! I get that at least,” he replied.

“I just- argh, Lute, I,” she said, starting to look restless. “I erm, I just, I, I—”

“Is everything okay? Calm down, I’m not going anywhere,” he said, smiling cheekily. She held her breath for a second, and stared at him. She couldn’t help shiver still. “There’s no need to be nervous. It’s just us. Take your time.”

“Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden?” she shouted, and then slapped her paws over her mouth.

“Whoa I er… I dunno. I’m nice to all Pokémon who’re nice to me, and you’re one of them. I don’t get how to explain that one,” he admitted.

“Sorry, I...” she gasped.

“There you go apologising again. It’s actually pretty cute, Infia,” he giggled.

She shut her eyes and took a deep breath. Opening them, she made sure she was looking him in the eyes. “Lute… I’m… you’re the only reason I’m still here.”


“I don’t know, either. You’re just – I don’t know what it is about you, but I’ve always felt some kind of, connection with you, a special connection unlike what I’ve felt with anyone else. From the time I first saw you with your friends,” she stated.

“Huh? Did I do something you really like or something?” he wondered.

She laid a paw on her chest. “I know this doesn’t make any sense at all, but it doesn’t feel like a Pokémon feeling.”

“Like a Pokémon feeling?” he raised an eyebrow.

“You know, like an emotion or sensation. It doesn’t feel like any of those things. I just feel like the both of us aren’t like any other Pokémon, and because of that, you’re the only reason I’m still here, doing my best to live,” she explained.

“Infia, wait. You believe in legends and stuff too, don’t you?” Lute gasped.


“You know, like how we’re both Agents of King’s Shield now. And now with Sophitia here and stuff. Yeah, something really cool’s definitely gonna happen soon if we stick together. It’s fate,” he said. Her face was blank. “I’m not strong yet, but I’m trying. If we have each other’s backs, I know we’ll get through anything in our way.”

Infia stayed blank for a while, and then stepped away, tucking her paws behind her back. “Yeah. You’re right.”


She turned around and smiled at him. “I’m really happy you asked me to come with you, Lute.”
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Episode 9: The Date


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
Episode 9: The Date

The rest of that week was a slog. Even though it had been proven to be a mistake, Lute was fully expected his King’s Shield badge to go off again and constantly checked it whenever he had the free time. It didn’t vibrate or blink even once, leading to days that felt longer than ever before.

He was able to adjust back to the normal schedule, at least. Early rising, squabbles with Sophitia, her overeating at breakfast, and then a jog to school. Once there, Raiju’s antics would ensue whilst Lute’s group worked together on their projects, though there was a lot more teasing about Lute and Infia’s date from the lot of them. It wasn’t anything he’d complain about though, as it kept him focused and smiling. He loved his friends, school life, and wouldn’t change any of it even with his new job as a secret agent.

Then came the weekend at last. When Lute woke up that morning, Marina and Sophitia were far more excited than he was; cheeky smiles with fangs and gleeful messages all day, even though he tried to carry on as normal. The plan was for Infia to meet at their house so that they could make their way to Densan City during sunset, where they’d have a little bit of time to kill and be early for the performance.

“Is it done yet?” Lute whined. Sophitia giggled as she continued to fasten buttons on a shirt. She stepped away to admire her work. Lute now possessed his first costume thanks to the girls. A black, sleeveless shirt had been fitted around his waist, while a tiny bow tie poked through the front of his mane. “It’s so tight and stuffy.”

“Careful with your head, too. All that gel and water keeps your fur in place so that you look smart,” Marina warned. He had to resist the urge to scratch an itch, and grumbled instead. Looking in a mirror, the shirt was barely visible and just matted down his fur, while the work on his head fur had only straightened his usual style so that it couldn’t get messier.

“You guys are way too excited about this,” he sighed. The front door knocked just then, setting off the girl’s squeals.

“She’s here she’s here! Go answer it Lute, and chin up,” Marina said. He grumbled again as he walked over.

It was Infia at the door. His mood switched thanks to her appearance, which was unexpectedly cleaner than her usual look at school. Her pigtails were smoother, while her yellow fur was shiny from how clean it was. She wore a white and pink sleeveless shirt that only covered her chest, and a frilly tutu that shimmered with pinks, purples, and glitter. Bow ties adorned her right ear and chest.

For the first time ever, Lute was overwhelmed by her appearance. He felt himself choke inside and didn’t know what to say or do besides stare and gawk. When she said she was going to get new clothes, the last thing he was expecting was something so girly, something that brought out the definition of ‘cute’ within her.

He could feel his body heating up the longer they stared like this, both from the tightness of his new shirt and the new feelings he was experiencing with her. “U-um. Hi.”

“Ahaha, you dressed up, too?” she replied with a squeak, going red as well.

“Don’t stand out there like that, come in, come in!” Marina rushed over to show her inside. “Lute, I expected better from you.”

“E-er, sorry. You didn’t have trouble getting here by the way, did you?” Lute asked and scratched his face.

“No. I remember the way from before,” Infia bowed. “Thank you so much for having me over, Miss Aska.”

“Please, just Marina is fine. I’m surprised you came on your own, though. Didn’t your new carer worry?” wondered the Vaporeon.

“Mister Phoenix is actually working at the show tonight, that was why he let me go in the first place. Lute, Sophitia, did you know that he was Esther’s bodyguard?” Infia said.

“Wait, seriously? You mentioned him not being around much, but I guess that’s why. Who would’ve thought he’d be working with someone famous? Lucky you,” Lute remarked.

“Yes. So he’s going to be there anyway, and if anything happens, he’ll be able to help protect us,” she said.

“That’s perfect!” Marina cheered, standing on her hind legs. “Take some water, now. You two had best be off. And look after her, Lute!”

“Yeah Lute, you had better treat her better than you treat me,” Sophitia said, half lidded.

“You two,” Lute groaned. Infia blushed and laughed lightly, then exchanged nods with her partner. “But they’re right. Let’s get going.”

“Oh and Lute. If you’re gonna be home late, you’re allowed to use the badge,” Sophitia said. Lute glanced at his, nodded, and then they were off.

There was silence between the two for a while, leaving Lute to take in the late surroundings of Everend. It was quieter than usual thanks to the lack of working Pokémon. Instead, what little noise came from their feet on the light grass and road. It wasn’t until the gondola station came into sight that Lute realised that Infia hadn’t said a word, diligently following him the whole time.

He turned to say something, but the moment he saw her again, that heated feeling filled his chest. For the first time ever, he felt like a girl he was with was out of his league. But that girl was Infia, the shy Minun who he’d known throughout all his years at school. For some reason, that made it even harder to talk to her.

Just say something, Lute. What’s wrong with me? he complained in his mind. He slapped his face to focus, and then stopped in the middle of the station to check for times. The gondola they needed was about to leave in the next minute. “Ack, Infia, run!”

“Huh?” she squeaked.

“It’s that one. Platform two. Quick!” he warned, dragging her arm.

He scanned his ticket, sprinted quicker than the barriers could open, and didn’t stop until he was within the doorways of that gondola. It hadn’t left yet, but the bleeping sound gave away the closing doors, so he stood in between to stop them from shutting. Thankfully, Infia was right behind him the whole time and he didn’t need to actually do that.

“Phew, that was a lucky one. Wish we didn’t have to run,” he huffed. The Klefki conductor was already in the ceiling, so the gondola promptly set off. “Infia?”

She was crouched and gasping for breath. She was sweating far more than he was. In fact, she was sweating excessively as if she had run a marathon. “Infia, are you alright?”

“Y-yes,” she panted dryly.

She took over a minute to catch her breath and regain her voice, to which he helped her to the seats on the side of the carriage. He flinched away the moment he realised they were touching paws however, not just because of the gesture, but because of the white, flowered wristbands she was wearing. He somehow hadn’t seen them before.

“I-is something wrong?” she asked.

“No, it’s just, your clothes,” he hung his head. “You look really fancy right now and I’m scared of getting that dirty and stuff.”

“Oh, thank you! It’s actually just an Esther cosplay. I’ve had this for ages but I’ve never been brave enough to wear it until now. I’m not a fan of showing my tummy,” she admitted, going red. “I just thought I had to this time; you know? This might be the only time I ever get to see Esther live on stage. I’ve got to show how much of a fan I am.”

“It makes you look so cute. I just didn’t know what to say for the longest time,” he snickered. “Do you mind explaining that to me, though? What’s wrong with showing your tummy?”

Infia’s face went an even deeper red. “It’s, um, I don’t know how to – it’s just something I’m not comfortable with showing. Normally.”

“If you were missing fur or something, I guess you could be embarrassed,” he cocked his head.

“It’s a girl thing!” she squeaked.

“It is? But Sophitia and Mum are fine without clothes. So was Silver.”

“It doesn’t apply if you’re not wearing clothes to begin with!” she squeaked even louder.

“Still, it’s all a bother to me. I can’t stand this shirt; it makes me feel like my fur’s gonna explode or something,” he tugged at his shirt as he complained.

“Wait, you don’t like it? Why did you wear it?” she asked.

“Mum and Sophitia made me. They said I had to if I was going to this,” he grumbled.

“I like it, but there’s no point in wearing clothes if you don’t like it,” she became stern. “C’mon, let’s take it off!”

“You’re okay with me not wearing it?”

“Only wear it if you want to. I-I don’t like it when other Pokémon try to tell us what to do,” she stated. “Do you want to wear it?”

“Heck no!”

“Then let’s take it off!” she bounced over. Lute felt his face heat up again from how close she was now, freezing up as she curled her paws around to undo the shirt buttons. She only managed two of them before he subconsciously retracted.

“I-I’ve got the rest,” he said. He had to sit down to access them, but thanks to her, it was easy. The shirt was off. “Do you want it?”

“The shirt?” she squeaked. “Black’s not my colour.”

“I’m probably never going to wear this again though,” he admitted.

She started laughing. “You’re crazy, Lute. That or you just really hate clothes.”

“I don’t like clothes. It’s just pointless,” he blushed a little. Slipping the shirt into his bag, he sat beside her to watch the dark scenery scroll by. Densan City was visible in the distance, its skyline lit up by dozens of glittering lights that turned its towering structures into silhouettes. The view brought a warm smile out of him. “This is my first time leaving Everend because of something fun. Excited to see Esther?”

“Oh you have no idea! I-I don’t know if I ever show it, but she’s my idol, Lute,” she said, paws pressed together. “I have all her music TMs. And I’m always following her in magazines. The things she says in interviews, she’s a perfect Pokémon!”

“A perfect Pokémon?”

“Her music is perfect. Her clothes are perfect. She’s always being nice to everyone and her music is all about fighting against evil. She’s the heroine of music, Lute! When I get bigger, I want to be just like her,” she praised. Looking at her now, this was all Lute needed to see to know that Sophitia made the right choice forfeiting her ticket. The Minun’s eyes glistened like nothing before, and her voice was certain, as if her whole figure was shining.

“No you… really don’t show it. I had no idea you were into music and stuff like this,” he said. “Quick, tell me everything you know about Esther. I’ve never actually heard her music.”

“For real Lute? She’s incredible. How can I show you… oh, like this. She has these dance moves, and I use them in my cheering routine,” she said. She stood up to clear space and made sure the gondola wasn’t shaking much before she started, and then raised her paws high. She started humming an upbeat tune to herself, followed by tapping one foot. That then turned into a careful slide to the right, then a spin into a fancy pose where she held an invisible microphone by her mouth.

Lute watched with a warm smile as she twisted and posed around the gondola, humming that tune like it was second nature. Her eyes shut until she was close to the wall, and before long, he could hear her whispering lyrics to herself. She sung just loud enough for a tone to come out, and that’s when he began to gawk.

She was dancing and singing to herself. Despite knowing nothing about the medium himself, he felt that what she was doing was special. The way her movements were choreographed with careful steps and precise movements of her arms and feet, it was like she was drawing a picture with her body and animating it, blurring the background into whatever she wanted in the process. Combined with her singing at the same time, she had made a beautiful scene he couldn’t take his eyes off of.

She suddenly froze and opened her eyes, and then she hid behind her paws. “I-I-I’m sorry!”

“Wha-what? What for, why’d you stop?” he gasped.

“I-I g-g-got carried away,” she squeaked with a face redder than a tomato.

Lute’s face twisted a bit as he thought about his response. “You’re embarrassed, but I really thought you were good at that. I didn’t know you were so good at dancing, Infia.”

“I’m not! They were just Esther’s moves. I’m just a copycat,” she said, and turned away.

“I-I still think that was great,” he said, silencing when she went to sit back down. She had gone cold and stiff.

“Thank you, Lute,” she said without looking at him.

He didn’t know what to say after that. His chest choked him up again, and his head filled with thoughts of what he might’ve done wrong. Did he look at her funny while she was dancing? Did he say something wrong? Did he remind her of some bad memory? He’d never know, so now it was his determination to not do anything else wrong for the rest of the night.

They arrived not long after thankfully, so any further conversation made itself. The once overcrowded streets of Densan were nearly empty, lined with trampled pavement and litter on the sides. Streetlights made golden circles that marked where the floor was wet, though the still air kept the area colder than it looked. Muffled chatter could still be heard from open windows, while gondolas noisily streamed above. There was enough light for the area to not feel sleepy despite the night sky.

Their destination was in the main district, straight ahead from the gondola station. It still took a good twenty minutes to reach, but the increasing number of young Pokémon around, groups of friends chatting and excitedly crowding, told them they were on the right track.

Lute was entranced by more than that. He recalled the area as the Ministry of Science, the complex of labs and offices where Aseria’s technology was being researched and developed. He thought it an odd place for a pop star performance until he was here, where an enormous garden provided more than enough space for the audience and the stage. There must have been over a thousand Pokémon here already, yet there was plenty of room for the garden’s many shapes of grass and flowers. The building behind the stage was the tallest building visible from the skyline, a straight, grey tower lined with shiny, tinted glass.

“We’re here… we’re here, we’re here, we’re here we’re here we’re here!” Infia squealed, bouncing up and down. She was hugged up against Lute and accidently released a light spark.

“Wah, careful!” he giggled.

“Sorry, but we’re here I can’t believe it we’re really here!” she screamed. “C’mon, let’s get a good spot near the front.”

“Uh okay,” he kept giggling, getting dragged with her before he could even open his mouth. The very front of the stage couldn’t be touched thanks to metal barriers making space between the audience and the performers, but they were still close enough to see all the action when the place got crowded. Right now, a Kecleon and a Loudred were on the side of the stage with a DJ deck and other sound equipment, managing a generic dance mashup.

“Huh? That’s not… does Esther come on after these guys?” Lute wondered. He was surprised at how loud he had to speak to hear himself. The beat was made his chest vibrate and ears ring.

“This really is your first gig, Lute! Yeah, these guys are just here to get everybody excited for the main show,” Infia answered. The way she was focused on the front, half climbing the barricade, he didn’t want to ask anything else to distract her. The same way he felt when he thought of adventures, she looked like that right now. Her whole being gave off an aura that made him happy.

“H-here,” he slid his way beneath her. She squeaked and scrambled a bit which threw him off balance, but he still managed to get her to sit on his back. He had no trouble hopping to the top of the barricade, too. “You’re really light, so it’s no problem!”

“L-Lute, wa-wait, don’t do that. What if I… u-um, you know,” she squeaked. He gave her a funny look. “Wha-what if I-I… accident?”

He flinched. “I er- okay, I didn’t think about that. Sorry.”

“It’s okay it’s okay, the show hasn’t started yet and all,” she said, going red. He laughed lightly which encouraged her to laugh too, and then the two relaxed where the were. The security Pokémon who were on patrol, a Machoke and Heatmor, didn’t seem to mind them being there on the barricade. Seeing that, Infia relaxed a little more, slowly and sunk into Lute’s fur.

“Lute,” she said quietly. He shifted to try and look up at her. “Can you hear me?”

“Uh huh. Is everything okay?” he smiled.

She paused. “Th-thank you for inviting me to this. It really means a lot.”

Lute blushed again, and light laughter escaped his now nervous form. He froze up, feeling all the heat in his body rush to his face when her paws began to slide around his mane to his front. She tiredly cuddled him from behind, and he didn’t know what to do besides gawk.

“Attention Pokémon, attention all Pokémon. This is a public announcement about Esther’s performance tonight,” a voice echoed throughout the area, drowning out the current DJ music, which stopped soon after. “We are sorry to announce that due to unforeseen circumstances, Esther’s performance will be delayed. We are unable to determine how long this delay will last. Please stand by for further announcements.”

Lute and Infia sat back and looked around as a wave of disappointment flew across what of the audience. Some Pokémon threw tantrums on the spot, and a few even let off attacks into the air.

“Aww, she was supposed to be on in about ten minutes. I wonder what happened?” Infia wondered.

“Hopefully it’s not too much of a delay,” Lute looked around. He caught sight of the two guards being called over to some other barricades with a ‘staff only’ label. “Hey, how about we go find out? We do have backstage passes and all.”

“Aren’t those just for after the show, though?” she said as she got off his back. “We really should just let them work it out and wait for them.”

“If you say so. Hey since we don’t know how long we’ll be waiting, how about I just go grab us a snack? You hold our space,” he suggested.

She put her paws on her belly. “That could be good. Just something light though, please.”

“Ice cream?”

“I was thinking more crackers.”

“Got it. I won’t be long,” he said, jogging off.

He had to weave through the crowd that had scattered into groups, but he was back out into clear space soon enough. With a smile on his face, he scanned the left and right in search a market stool that could sell him an apple or two. Or seeing as it was the city, the idea of a fancy sweet he’d never seen before crossed his mind. Maybe that would be better.

Then he noticed several of the staff talking by the that same barrier the security was called over to earlier. There was a bigger group now, but amongst them was a blue furred Sylveon. A chubby blue furred Sylveon that didn’t look like they wanted to sit still. When they happened to move to reveal their face, that was when he knew.

“Sophitia?” he called. She turned at her name and flinched, eyes widened, mouth agape and all.

“Lute? Why’re you here, get back with Infia!” she cried.

“I was just going to get us something because the show got delayed. But that’s my line, what’re you doing here? I thought you didn’t want to come?” he asked.

“I er, erm, let’s just say my badge went off,” she swayed her head. She turned back to the security. “Which is what I’m trying to tell you guys. I’m an agent, you gotta let me through. We gotta get this show going or else, and I’ll be able to help.”

“Wait but I didn’t feel my badge go off,” Lute mumbled as he checked his bag.

“Remember that I’m the leader of our team. They’ll call me first before they call you,” Sophitia gave a smug smile.

Lute froze and looked up at her in concern. “Why are you really here?”

“I just told you.”

“The show just got delayed, there’s no way you’d be here already even if there was a mission. And if there was, why wouldn’t you call me about it?” he challenged.

The Sylveon sighed and spun back around. “Why are you so dang smart when you don’t have to be, huh? Okay, so I might’ve followed you here, but now this is happening and I’ve got it sorted. Go stay with Infia already.”

“You said you hated this place. Why would you follow me?” he raised an eyebrow.

“So that you don’t screw up your date and stuff. Which you’re kinda already doing by leaving her alone and getting in my way,” she argued.

“Screw up my da- Sophitia, this isn’t a date, I told you that already,” he said. “This isn’t some love thing that’s going on between us, it’s just two friends seeing a show together.”

“For goodness sake Lute, that’s literally a date. And since I have to spell it out for you as well, yes, that’s literally what we call love. She likes you, Lute. And you’re doing like, nothing to respond to that,” she said.

“Wait, seriously? Did you give up your ticket just so you could say stupid stuff like that?” Lute raised his voice. “Sophitia, it’s not a date. I don’t have feelings for Infia. I don’t care about that stuff.”

“Yes you do! You just don’t realise it you dim-witted little kid. You’re in love, and it’s always up to us to ship you hopeless kids together!”

Lute growled and stomped forward a bit, but stopped thanks to her suddenly shocked look. She wasn’t looking at him, but she shifted back as if she had just seen a ghost that was about to strike her down. He glanced back and spotted infia right away. The Minun was silent and her once clean fur had gone totally pale.

“Wa-wait just forget everything I said it’s not true I didn’t mean any of that I swear! I’m just a rambling old lady—”

“You really did do that, didn’t you? You told him to give me the ticket, didn’t you?” Infia said, her voice flat and emotionless. Lute glared angrily at Sophitia, who gulped and tried to look away.

“Look, I’ve seen how unhappy you are and stuff. I’ve felt it. I wanted to do this to help you, okay? It actually hurts seeing you guys as a ship waiting to happen that’s like, not happening because of this dolt,” Sophitia said. “So seriously. You guys can just head back to the show and I’ll take care of this stuff—”

“Sophitia, you’re so stupid!” Infia shrieked at the top of her voice. She had to catch her breath, shook for a moment, and then turned to run but immediately tripped and bumped into Silver.

“I knew the two of you might be here, but Infia as well is useful. I never anticipated this could happen, but we have an investigation on our hands. Follow me,” the Goodra instructed, completely ignorant of their shocked gawks.

“Uhh, this is a really bad time, Silver,” Sophitia hung her head.

Silver looked over them all and raised an eyebrow, but that was all. Lute was furious, Sophitia shuddered from embarrassment, and Infia was shaking, fists closed, fangs gritted and electricity sparking from her cheeks. None of it registered to the Goodra at all, resulting in a carefree hand gesture. “This will be your first on-the-spot assignment. Follow me or else.”
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Episode 10: Pop Star’s Façade


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
7 Esther.jpg

Episode 10: Pop Star’s Façade

Backstage wasn’t nearly as extravagant as Lute expected. It was quiet, the lighting was dim, and most of the walls looked like a stage play. Nothing reached the ceiling and was clearly made of cardboard or something. The red and pink theme stood out at least, but the lack of staff brought down his mood.

Not that that mattered - he was already so mad at Sophitia that there was a gap between them. Him and Infia walked on Silver’s left while Sophitia was on the right. They walked in silence until the Goodra stopped them all outside a row of rooms.

“This may come as a surprise, but we very nearly had a murder on our paws,” Silver began, making the trio flinch. “A number of staff got seriously hurt, and one has been transported to hospital. Our investigators said most of the damage was dealt from bites and poisoning.”

“That’s horrible!” Infia covered her mouth.

“That is… but er, if you’ve already got Pokémon on the case, what do you want us to do? I don’t think I could stomach looking at anything like that,” Sophitia said.

“Find the culprit, of course. We’ve managed to secure the area. None of the unharmed Pokémon are allowed to leave,” Silver folded her arms. “I know. It’s quite violent for your second case. But trust yourselves. Just do what you did when you did when you caught Victoria.”

“That was all Sophitia, though,” Lute frowned.

“And to be honest, I could only do that on a whim because it was for a Pokémon I cared about, you know? I just didn’t want Infia getting arrested. This, I know nothing about anyone involved,” Sophitia said.

“Then find out. You’ve got time,” Silver said. There was a pause. “The victims were all staff. Just Pokémon that handle things like lighting, cleaning and stuff. There doesn’t seem to be a theme or a connection amongst them. On the other hand, the accused is Phoenix, Esther’s personal security.”

“Phoenix?” Lute and Infia gasped. They exchanged glances.

“Yes. The very same agent we appointed to take care of you,” Silver nodded.

“He was a… Fennekin, right? Can they use poison attacks?” Sophitia asked.

“As far as we know, only the move Toxic. Toxic is such a widely useable attack that the poison part has us a bit confuddled. It could be anyone,” Silver explained. “I’ve given you clearance to question everyone you find here. If you need me, I’ll be by the manager.”

The trio was quiet even after she disappeared into one of the rooms, until Lute broke the silence with a gulp. “I can’t help but feel like she’s still testing us or something.”

“You and me both. But if she thinks we can figure this out, then we probably can. Let’s do this,” Sophitia sighed.

“I can’t believe that, though. Phoenix is so quiet. I can’t imagine him hurting Pokémon like this,” Infia faced the floor. “He barely ever says or does anything, he just does what he needs to. And he cooks. Why would he try to kill Pokémon?”

“Well, not saying I don’t believe you or anything, but he was a security guard here for goodness knows how long. What I mean is, we don’t know anything about what’s been happening here. There’s obviously some drama or something,” Sophitia suggested. Infia looked like she was going to tear up. “Ah, I just have to be open minded, okay? Sorry about that.”

“Oh great, now some kids are sneaking back stage and- hey you!” a girl’s voice shouted loud enough for the hallway to shake, making them all jump. Lute and Infia’s eyes widened now, and the latter froze up completely.

A Pikachu was stomped toward them, paws clenched into fists at her sides. This Pikachu was taller than Lute expected, but dressed almost exactly like Infia was right now: a short shirt and a frilly tutu that shimmered with pinks, purples, and glitter. Cute bows adorned one ear and her chest, while pink slippers covered her feet. If it wasn’t for her angry look, something about the real deal’s version of this costume felt more provocative to him than cute, although it was both. She was a beautiful Pikachu, definitely the kind that felt ‘too good’ for him.

“I dunno who you kids are, but please just make this easy for me and get outta here. This just isn’t the time or place to mess about and be fans. I’m not signing anything,” Pikachu demanded, trying to stand over them. There was a hint of moan to her voice, as if she was in pain or something. Either way, Lute didn’t know how to respond. Infia’s fangirling was closer to the original than he ever could’ve imagined.

“Er, sorry. W-we may be ‘kids’, but we’re um,” Sophitia mumbled as she revealed her badge.

“Oh gods. Seriously? They said they were getting detectives, please don’t tell me it’s you guys?” Esther replied. She threw her arms up and groaned, turning her back to them. “First Fluffy Cheeks gets arrested for some shit he couldn’t possibly do, now you’re telling me I gotta rely on some snotty little fangirls? This day just can’t get any worse!”

“Hey, I’m a boy!” Lute cried.

“Yeah. Next thing you’re gonna tell me, you’re Phoenix Wright. I don’t care what you did, just, go home. In fact, gimme those badges. You obviously stole them,” Esther held a paw forward. “I don’t have time to mess about. Just do this, please?”

“Whoa whoa okay now, hold on. I wanted to be nice, but I ain’t gonna be spoken to like a delinquent,” Sophitia replied. “We know about the murders and stuff. We’re your investigators, like it or not. Silver’s orders.”

Esther stepped back and scanned them. “Ohh, right. Now that I look at it, you guys are the ones that found Victoria in that case back in Everend. Wow, I didn’t think the agents would take you on. I dunno if they’re desperate or what. Whatever. Let’s just get this over with.”

“… I would start by asking what happened, but to be honest, you really don’t seem to be in the mood,” Sophitia said slowly.

“Of course I’m not in the mood. I didn’t wanna do this damn show in the first place, then all this shit happens. I can’t go and sightsee, I’ve been alone for hours, and I’m so freaking hungry my body feels like it’s gonna turn inside-out or something, it actually hurts like hell,” Esther rambled and stomped around. She stopped with a grunt to clutch her belly with both paws, and stretched like she was in agony. “In fact, fuck this. I can’t stand this anymore. I don’t care if they want me to play tonight or what.”

The glittery Pikachu stomped off into one of the rooms with a gold star on it. She booted the door open so hard the door hit the back wall. Lute and Sophitia watched her, their mouths on the floor.

“Is… that really… Esther?” Infia said quietly.

“They said they locked everyone out, so yeah. It has to be,” Sophitia said just as blankly.

The three of them nearly tripped on discarded sweet packs and other rubbish. Litter made mountains in her room, and the smell of alcohol was present.

“And this is your room?” Infia said, this time aloud.

“Oh yeah, ‘cos I’m a pop star, I’ve gotta be miss perfect. It’s gotta be all clean and frilly and have a million make up products and shit,” Esther rambled as she ravaged through a fridge at the far end of the room. She emerged with a four-pack of cup noodles and slammed them on her desk, ripped off the covers and filled them with water from a cold kettle, then squeezed her cheeks to roast all four of them with electricity. In a flash, the cups were steaming.

No one knew what to say. For Lute, the room blew his expectations out of the water. Despite being a popup room, it had the facilities he could only dream of having his own room. Esther had a desk and mirrors lining one side, her own fridge, a cupboard dozens of times her size, and even what looked like a computer attached to one wall. The buttons beside the computer implied that it enabled her to contact the other rooms in the area from here.

However, with the crude variety of mess all around, he almost couldn’t see her bed. Nothing was clean, nothing was maintained, and it looked like everything she drank and ate had just been tossed into a pile without a care in the world. A Muk would have trouble making all of this mess.

“Oh, right. I just realised your costume. You’re a real fangirl and stuff,” Esther rambled as she took out contact lenses from her eyes. Now they looked a lot less glittery. She threw off her pink shirt too, leaving just a white, sleeveless undershirt. “Well, the Purrloin’s outta the bag little Miss Minun. This is the real me. Fluffy Cheeks normally keeps it all tidy for me, but Brayen kept him busy all day.”

Infia didn’t reply. Her face twisted a bit, but she gulped and her breath could be heard.

“Yeah yeah. I’m a slob, I’m gross, I shouldn’t let the kids hear my foul mouth. Whatever, heard it all before, I really don’t care anymore,” Esther grumbled. “Oh but… you guys aren’t hungry too, are ya? I should’ve offered you something, too,”

“Not… really,” Sophitia cocked her head.

“Your loss,” Esther said, taking her first cup. She downed it right in front of them, making them lean back from the slurps and gulps she was making. She didn’t even stop until the first cup was finished with a triumphant burp. “Oh my god I needed that. Seriously, why do Pokémon hate these things so much? They’re so damn good!”

She ate cup noodles by drinking it? Lute gasped in his mind.

“Instant food is kinda bad for you and stuff,” Sophitia muttered, going quiet as the Pikachu moved onto the next cup. She started sweating and snuck an awkward glance at Lute and Infia, who looked just as awkward. “You weren’t kidding about being hungry and stuff, huh?”

“Oh shit, sorry!” Esther gasped. “Listen, uh, Brayen sorta makes me keep figure and stuff. I haven’t eaten a thing since like, early morning yesterday. I’m literally starving to death, you gotta understand!”

“Wait, why did you go that long without food?” Infia asked.

“I just told you, to keep figure and stuff. Pikachu sorta get a bad rep for being called fat, and I put it on pretty easily. But with all the travelling and interviews and rehearsals I have to do, there’s no other way for me to not put on weight other than to just, not eat,” Esther explained before taking another long gulp. She went right onto the third cup. “Fluffy Cheeks sometimes sneaks me snacks and stuff, though. Drinks too, that’s where you see the fancy stuff over there.”

Isn’t she underage for drinking? I don’t mean to be picky but… Sophitia thought. She blinked in disbelief. “You’ve mentioned ‘Fluffy Cheeks’ a few times. Who or what?”

“Oh, Fluffy Cheeks! Mister Fluffy Cheeks is Mister Fluffy Cheeks. He’s called that ‘cos that’s what he’s got, fluffy cheeks!” Esther cheerfully threw her arms up. Lute and Sophitia exchanged blank gazes, making her laugh. “He’s my Fennekin guard, silly! The cutie’s really quiet, but he’s a real sweetheart. He’s always looking out for me, and it makes Brayen pretty jealous.”

Finally, we’re getting somewhere, Sophitia shook her head. Now she was smiling. “So it’s obvious you guys are close. I’m not saying he’s the one who did it, but any reason why he would hurt all those Pokémon?”

Esther folded her arms and looked away. “Framing.”

“framing?” Lute tilted his head.

“Brayen is my manager in this whole thing. But the way I like Mister Fluffy Cheeks, it makes him really jealous. And I mean really jealous. I think he likes me, even though he’s a Bewear,” Esther explained. “Size difference is gross, though. I’ve got no interest in a big guy like him.”

“We’ll be meeting him soon for sure,” Sophitia nodded.

“Whenever we’re all together, he’s always trying to silence Phoenix. And this morning, he gave Phoenix a whole load of chores to do or something, saying I had to stay in my room. He always tries to get rid of Fluffy Cheeks like that, and then gets all sweet with me and stuff when we’re alone. It’s actually pretty creepy,” Esther continued. She slowly drank her third cup, but looked like she was concentrating. “Normally it’s just petty stuff like talking over Phoenix or trying to hold my hand, but this morning, something felt real off. There was this guy with him who Brayen wouldn’t let me talk to.”

“Someone new?” Sophitia asked.

“Yeah. A Swirlix. I was outside walking around when I wasn’t supposed to, and Brayen got all defensive when he saw me. You know, like I wasn’t supposed to see the Swirlix guy or something,” Esther went quiet. “Look, I know I’m not supposed to give you guys ideas and stuff, but I’m kinda afraid that Swirlix was from Spirle.”

“What?” Lute whispered. His chest grew heavy in an instant.

“Seriously. You know what a Swirlix looks like, right? That cute cotton candy Pokémon. But this guy was sorta… buff? That kinda look when you know you’re gonna get beaten the shit out of if you bump into him in an alleyway or something. I dunno how, but I got that vibe from him,” Esther explained.

“Infia, what kind of shows does Esther put on?” Sophitia asked. Infia flinched when all eyes went on her. Her face had gone pale, and she was so blank she looked ill. “I er…”

“Why ask her? I’m right here,” Esther said.

“Just trust me on this,” Sophitia said.

“… Esther’s shows are a lot like plays. Even though it’s her performing music, there’s always a theme and a story across it all. Sometimes actors perform with her, but she does all the singing,” Infia played with her paws.

“That creates the possibility that Swirlix is just a good actor,” Sophitia scratched her chin.

“But then why not let me meet him? Everyone else I’ve performed with I’ve gotten to know. That’s even before they’re confirmed to work with us. Plus, tonight was just supposed to be me and Brayen. Why force me to stay in my room without Phoenix?” Esther returned to her food. “Even if it ain’t Spirle, it just seems too shady. But my hunch is telling me that where there’s a Spritzee, a Swirlix ain’t far.”

“We need to see Brayen. And this Swirlix. They have to still be around,” Sophitia turned to her allies. Lute nodded unsurely, while Infia was back to her blank state.

“Do you mind if I tag along? I can’t stand another minute in here, and I’m still hungry,” Esther said as she downed her last cup. She swiped the lot of them off the desk and into her pile. “Dunno if you’re doing it on purpose, but I get the feeling you don’t trust me, either. So I gotta prove myself and all that.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just have to look at things this way, you know? I can’t go having a biased opinion,” Sophitia said as she shuffled through the rubbish piles to get out.

“You were biased for Infia,” Lute pointed out.

“Yeah but- oh shut up.”

Esther directed them down the hallway, keeping behind them and pointing where they needed to go. It wasn’t a long walk, but it did bring their attention to markings on the floor. White outlines of Pokémon were there.

“What’s this?” Lute asked, careful not to step on them.

“Crime scene marks. It just shows where the hurt Pokémon were found. I guess the investigation already happened long before Silver brought us in,” Sophitia scratched her chin with a feeler. She looked up to see a trio of bickering Pokémon emerge from the room they were heading towards, those being Silver, a Bewear, and a Swirlix.

“You can’t leave now. That’s an order from the authorities,” Silver commanded with hasty movements.

“Please mister, reconsider. You remember our bargain, don’t you?” Bewear said, his paws cupped together. His voice was unbelievably friendly and high pitched. “If you would just cooperate with the authorities now, I am sure we can discuss of contracts further.”

“You had your chance and you threw it when you let the Fennekin get away. Any deals we have are off!” Swirlix said, revealing his rough, gritty, and excitable voice. He stopped before Lute and company, and snickered to himself. “And you three are? Authorities, too?”

“Yes we are,” Sophitia announced.

“Good. Your names?” smirked the Swirlix.

“I’m Lute—”

“Yours first!” Sophitia slapped Lute with a feeler.

“Lute?” Swirlix blinked. He seemed surprised for a moment, and then cracked an excited smile. “And that makes you Sophitia. Well now, this is great!”

“And you are? I have quite a few questions for you,” Sophitia became tense.

“No need, no need. I am Spirle High Point Victor, a commander of the same rank as Victoria,” Swirlix bowed.

It took a moment for what he’d just said to get a reaction out of anyone, but they all flinched back, eyes widened. In Lute’s case, his breath became erratic and uncertain, and his focus locked onto the Swirlix and nothing else. That cocky smile and loose tongue smelt of confidence, confidence he wasn’t prepared to challenge.

“I knew it, I freaking knew it!” Esther cried and hid behind Sophitia. “Guys, do you your thing!”

“Wait, you’ve gotta be joking. You’re revealing yourself to us? You’re not really a High Point, are you?” Sophitia exclaimed. “You’re just trying to play us!”

“That isn’t something to joke about,” Silver added.

“Are you going to take that risk?” Victor gave her a snarky look. He turned back to Lute and started laughing crazily. “Lute! Sophitia. The two of you are all Victoria’s been talking about since that incident. I’ve never seen her so upset before. That everything she had built up had been toppled by a bunch of children!”

“Children. It’s always that we’re children,” Sophitia hissed. “I don’t think this guy’s lying.”

“Wha? So he really is a—” Lute gasped.

“She wasn’t lying either, you know. You two don’t even look the slightest bit like a threat. In fact, sizing you all up now, I can tell that if you all were to attack me at once, you’d lose! That’s how weak you all look in comparison,” Victor warned. His voice turned calm. “So we’ll make this simple. Give me Esther, and I’ll let you all walk out of this.”

“Me? Why me, what do I have to do with anything?” Esther cried.

Sophitia stood in front of her. “Good luck getting to her. I’ve seen enough silly little skits like this to know exactly how they go.”

Victor’s face went back to his crazed smile. “And I’ve seen enough overconfident police die by my fangs thanks to that same attitude.”

“Lute, take him down Swift! Even if he isn’t a High Point, we have the right to arrest,” Sophitia ordered.

“Wait but he’s—” the Eevee spoke on a shuddered breath.

The fight hadn’t even started, and already he was losing himself to a terrifying foreboding. Perhaps this was a bluff and Victor was a petty criminal posing as a Spirle High Point. In the event that he was a High Point however, that meant Lute was now staring at a criminal so elusive and powerful that rumours could only hint at his true power.

A little Eevee like him couldn’t even hope to take that kind of Pokémon down. Even worse, at Sophitia’s orders, those same orders that got him smashed into a ditch when fighting the Risen. This was going to be a fight against a renowned criminal, one who wouldn’t hesitate to take his life.

He couldn’t stop those thoughts. His face descended into panic and petty tears. All he could see was Victor, and everything else was black. All he could hear were those fearful thoughts and the shouted orders from Sophitia. And then, one final thought arose again.

I’m an agent of King’s Shield, now. I have to do this.

If he died here, then he died doing his job. Died proving that he was just a little Eevee that wasn’t as up to this task as he thought he would be. His fear had frozen him stiff, and it took all of his will to break free and move. Even then, his thoughts and focus hadn’t settled. He couldn’t move properly, nor could he think straight, he just knew that he needed to attack.

And attack he did. He followed Sophitia’s orders and flew into a Swift attack. However, he shut his eyes, formed those energy stars below his feet, and then tossed them wildly. He continued to drown everything out, aimlessly throwing attack after attack without looking at all. He was sure he threw them where Victor was standing, so one of those attacks had to do something, right?”

“Lute, stop! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Silver screamed at the top of her voice.

Her volume snapped him back to reality. He felt like he wanted to cry, like he’d tried his best and still done wrong enough to upset the grownups. Smoke and dust was everywhere, forcing everyone to take big steps backward to avoid being blinded.

“Your battle dust is blocking him from view. Are you really an agent? How could make a mistake like that?” Esther shouted. He couldn’t reply besides more petty whimpers.

Sophitia was shaken by his complete change of character, but not so much that she wasn’t paying attention. Her body tingled hard when she felt the charge of another attack, and she dove in the way of Lute. Surely enough, Victor charged through like a rocket and smashed headfirst into her magic shield that formed on the end of her feeler.

Sophitia was pushed back so hard that she felt her legs buckle, and she let herself fall back, focused on keeping her shield in front of her body. Before she could regain any kind of control, she caught a glimpse of Victor’s fangs raising far above her head, and shoved her shield into his maw to try and bash him away.

Not only did her attack not do anything, but he didn’t refrain from locking his jaw onto that shield. For a brief moment, she caught him snickering at her, and then he planted his feet and swerved. Sophitia gasped as she was brought into the air, her entire weight lifted and flung around in a circle by just the grip of his mouth. With two complete spins, he threw her directly into Silver, and the two went rolling into the wall behind them.

“And now,” Victor laughed to himself. He locked eyes with a panicking Esther.

“No you freaking don’t, leave me outta this!” cried the Pikachu. He ignored her of course, and tackled her to the floor in a flash. She was next to roll painfully into the wall behind her, but he chased her body and locked his jaw around one foot. With that as his grip, he took off carrying the screaming Pikachu out of sight.

“Wa-wait, Victor! That’s my star you’re making off with, wait for me!” Brayen cried, flailing his paws about as he gave chase.

“Don’t just stand there, don’t let him get away!” Silver roared as she scrambled to her feet. Sophitia was just as desperate, but tripped on her way up. The Goodra didn’t wait for her allies. She took off after them with a fury that could scare a fairy.

“Lute, c’mon! Get up, we gotta go after them,” Sophitia shouted as well.

Lute shook his head. “I-I know but, what can I do?”

“Don’t think about it. Just get your head in the game and let’s go,” she said. She scooped up a whimpering Infia and placed her on Lute’s back, and then ran after Silver.

“Wa-wait, Sophitia,” Lute stuck a paw out. Infia was no better than he was, and stuffed her face into his mane. “I-I can’t, I mustn’t… Oh, why am I doing this?”

He stopped thinking. He was sure he was still scared of Victor, but now he was more afraid of seeing Sophitia get hurt again. The Sylveon wasn’t as fast as Silver, and was clearly limping in her light gait – that one attack hit her harder than he probably realised.

“Sophitia, you’re hurt!” Lute cried.

She wouldn’t be able to hear him over the outside world, though. The crowds had made a path for the running Pokémon, but they were all screamed and pointed aghast. As Lute left the stage area as well, he caught sight of severely damaged guards, the Heatmor and Machoke he saw earlier. They were face flat on the ground covered in burns.

“He’s so fast,” Lute whispered.

He was surprised that he was struggling to catch up to Sophitia, but he still couldn’t help but slow down as he realised where they were headed. The Waterworks he’d been informed of. The closer this chase brought him to it, the quieter the area became. No Pokémon were around, just the industrial buildings lined with giant pipes on the outside.

He didn’t get a chance to look around properly. Sophitia bolted right into one of the structures that looked like it had been blown open. Inside was almost pitch black, but Lute followed anyway.

“Sophitia!” Lute shouted as he skidded to a stop. There was a ledge with a tall handrail and lots of thick iron pipes around. Silver had Brayen pinned down, while Sophitia had slowed down to scout the area, it looked like. “S-Sophitia, we can’t—”

“Oh shush already. We chased ‘em in here, but they’re hiding from us. Help me find them,” Sophitia ordered.

Lute didn’t know how to reply. He shuddered hard, and then looked around again. The Bewear under Silver’s grip was wailed incessantly, so she soon shut him up with a hard punch to the back of his head. His head recoiled onto the floor harder than the punch, and then he fell limp.

“Finally. Now, Esther! Make a sound. We know you’re in here, Victor!” Silver shouted.

The noise they were looking for was made, and their attention was brought to a high ledge on the right. Lute could just about see them. Esther was still locked in Victor’s mouth. It looked like her mouth had been stuffed with something however, white balls that muffled her voice.

“How do you get up there?” Lute asked. Sophitia scooped him up suddenly, making him and Infia squeal.

“Like this!” Sophitia cheered as she leapt over the ledge with them.

“S-Sophitia, what’re you doing?” Lute cried.

They landed on giant pipes that went below their initial ledge, but soon after, Lute realised what she was getting at. The formation of the pipes along the wall were so big, flat, and shapely that they could actually be climbed by a Pokémon that could jump her height. And so, she did, taking a run up to make her way over.

“Bad move,” Victor said cockily.

Sophitia ignored him until she realised he was charging a special attack, a Moonblast. She hung from one of the giant screws used to hold the pipes in place. From here, all she had to do was kick off the pipe to hang from a pipe on the right wall, then she could climb it and reach the ledge with Victor. She just needed to stop his attack.

“Lute, try Swift again,” she said quietly.

“B-but I can’t hurt him! I’m not strong enough,” he squeezed himself into her back. Infia was no better.

“It doesn’t matter, just do it!” she raised her voice

“Too late, kiddies!” Victor sung, hopping off the ground to fire his attack. The trio cringed and braced for the worst, only to have smoke briefly cover them instead.

“He missed?” Sophitia whispered, glancing up at the impact. The sound of a heavy gush of water said otherwise.

“What’s?” Lute mumbled, only to cry out as a huge torrent of water fell right on top of them.

“Lute, Sophitia!” Silver cried, sticking a hand out. She couldn’t have saved them even if she wanted to, however. The water swallowed them immediately, and they vanished into the dark depths below. She snarled and glared at the laughing Victor, and fury filled her eyes again. “You villain! They were just teenagers!”

“C’mon, who doesn’t want to drown a teenager? They’re the villains out here. You won’t ever hear such high levels of disrespect from anyone but teens,” Victor stated.

Silver’s growl got more violent. She whipped her head around to bring up a Sludge bomb, but Victor shifted so that Esther shielded him, and she had to spit her attack elsewhere.

“There’s a good girl, now. You wouldn’t want to hit my hostage. Now be a good little girl and just clean up the mess, will ya?” Victor laughed comically.

Silver snarled at him again, but hesitated. Seeing she had nothing else to try, Victor leapt off deeper into the pipe works, leaving only his laughs to echo down the room.
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Episode 11: MOAND DIA


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
CONTENT WARNING: This chapter contains depictions of self-harm. If you are sensitive to this topic, please proceed with caution.

8 Phoenix.jpg

Episode 11: MOAND DIA

The last thing Lute remembered was a torrent of chilling water crushing him and sending him deep into the trenches of Aseria’s waterways. He was down there for so long that he had lost consciousness despite his efforts to look for air. The current forced him along a metal waterway for what felt like hours, so the last thing he expected was to actually wake up somewhere.

His body felt like he expected it to, at least. He was freezing and his fur was damp all over. He could only open his eyes to a view of hazy light, while he felt like if he tried to stand, his bones might melt. He sniffled, coughed, and managed a groan as horrible aches in his back took presence.

“Oh man,” he gurgled as he rolled onto his back. That allowed him to settle and relax. It took a while to get used to his pain and focus his sight. Sophitia came into view, though she was unconscious.

Then he realised, and rolled back over. He forced himself to his feet, unable to keep in a cry of pain. He had no strength for this. “Sophitia. Sophitia! Oh gods, please.”

Before he even touched the Sylveon, she started to tremble and groan. She echoed his movements, waking up with gritted fangs. Giving her space, Lute found Infia a moment later, who was just as weak.

“Oh thank goodness, you’re both alive!” Lute sighed. Infia sat there weakly while Sophitia kept growling in attempt to stand up. She staggered several times, but eventually stood strong. “U-uh, sh-shouldn’t you?”

“Was… gonna argue that we’re probably dead, but… I don’t think I’d feel this awful if I wasn’t alive,” Sophitia replied.

“Thank goodness. You’re still you, too,” Lute sighed again.

“I’d save the relief if I were you. Where the heck are we?” Sophitia asked.

Lute had to blink a few times to get used to the light. They were on sandy rock, while mountain cave surrounded them on all but one side. The harsh sunlight on the surroundings was enough to make the unshaded floor blinding, so he had to shield his face as he walked over to get a better look.

“I think we washed up on some beach somewhere,” he said, soon coming to a complete halt. “Okay. No. We didn’t.”

He had never seen anything like it. A golden sky with huge, sandy clouds flowed with an unnaturally fast wind. An apple-coloured river rushed beside him, which roared down the cliff he was stood on as an enormous waterfall. Along this coast led to huge plains that stretched as far as his eyes could see. Stars were visible along the distance as well, as if they had fallen into an area on the border of a magical outer space. Everything had an enchantingly coloured hue, and their altitude was enough to bring a nasty chill across him.

“What is this place?” he whispered. His intrigue brought Sophitia over, but she only copied him.

“Wait you mean you’ve never seen this? Who would’ve thought Aseria had something like this?” she spun around to get a good look at it all.

The moon could be spotted amongst the clouds behind them, as well as a mountain that didn’t seem to have a peak. Looking up that high, Lute had to cover his eyes from the light and wind. At least the area smelt like seawater, or maybe that was Sophitia.

“Ah man, Mum’s probably going to kill me,” Lute hung his head.

“I think a bigger worry is actually getting somewhere,” Sophitia responded. Her stomach rumbled, and she hung her head. “I dunno about you, but if I don’t eat soon, I’m gonna keel over.”

Weirdly, I’m not hungry at all, Lute realised, staring blankly. Of all the times to be a glutton.

“Whoa er, we better do something about that, too,” Sophitia glanced back at Infia, who actually did fall forward.

“Infia, are you okay?” Lute rushed to her side. She gave up the moment he got near and leaned on him.

“I can’t move,” she said so weakly it was a wonder she was even still awake. Lute moaned and then helped her onto his back, where she sunk into his mane.

“We need to find something or someone. Wherever we are, hopefully they can help,” Lute suggested as he led the way. He headed for the plain, quickly annoyed about the amount of sand that blew into his fur as he dragged his feet.

“Good thing I can’t see any enemies. If we got into a fight now, I don’t know how it’d go,” Sophitia admitted. “This is the only time you’ll ever hear me say something like that.”

“Didn’t you say the Spirle High Point was really strong, too?” Lute repliedd. He took notice of the flickering particles of light in the air. Little orbs of light made it look like he was walking amongst the stars, though they weren’t obstructive in any way.

“Why do you always remember this stuff?” she groaned. “Well, I can’t lie. Victor felt way out of my league, too.”

It took a few seconds for Lute to realise what that meant. “Wait, if he was too strong for you, why did you chase him?”

“I’m not going to back down from a criminal, especially one that’s kidnapping someone right in front of my face. It’s literally my job to take them down. I had to fight him, and I had to win somehow,” she stated. “But I failed. We’re gonna need you to be stronger, too. Can’t have you giving up that easily.”

“Wha-what? I don’t get that, no!” he cried. “Sophitia, he could’ve killed us. If I couldn’t touch the Risen, what chance do I stand against Victor? He could’ve killed you.”

“He couldn’t have killed me,” she said. “I wouldn’t let myself die that easily.”

“Sophitia, we’re talking about a Spirle High Point here!” he cried.

“You don’t get it, Lute. It doesn’t matter who I have to fight. If they’re a criminal, then I’m gonna fight them and stop them from doing wrong, no matter who they are,” she declared. “You need to get stronger, right? Well you’re not gonna do it by saying ‘this guy’s a big bad Pokémon, I stand no chance’. You’ve gotta try, and think outside the box. Just, do stuff, you know?”

Lute groaned, but he felt guilty. He knew she was right, yet he couldn’t let go of the fear of one of them getting hurt. If he ended up with broken body parts or Sophitia had been the one kidnapped, he couldn’t forgive himself. Or even worse, if Infia had suffered…

He didn’t want to think of that possibility. He wanted to be a hero, but he also wanted to stay out of that kind of trouble. He just wanted to help Pokémon. He shook his head and focused with that thought. Something of note finally came up in the middle of this desert-like plain. A short, circular platform made of metal smack bang in the middle of this emptiness.

As they neared it, a ball of light descended toward it, making the trio think twice. They kept clear as the light ball landed on the platform, where it flashed and shrunk into the figures of four Pokémon. All four species wore similar clothing to one another: a fur-tight suit with a black and white theme to it. Black for their visors and markings on their chests and knees, while white was the rest. All of them carried oxygen tanks on their backs.

“Gardevoir. And Blaziken. I can’t tell the others. What’s with the getup?” Sophitia said quietly. The suited Pokémon made space on the platform, then gestured for Lute and company to join them. “I don’t know about this, but we don’t really have much choice.”

Lute cringed as Infia’s grip on him tightened, and she whined a bit. “It’s okay, Infia. We’re going to be okay.”

Deep down, he wasn’t sure about that one. He still followed Sophitia and stood on the platform beside them, and soon they were whisked away in the same light that the Pokémon arrived from. They ended up travelling faster than he expected, though the whole experience reminded him of travelling with the Deposit Box.

When he passed through the light at the end of that tunnel, he was suspended in the air above another metal platform. It took him by surprise and he tripped, though Infia helped him to stay standing.

“Good gods!” a familiar voice gasped. Lute growled as he looked up and then gasped himself. Silver was there, and had slid back so hard she nearly fell backwards. “You three! Y-you’re alive, you’re here!”

“Silver!” Sophitia stepped forward. Silver shook herself and then practically lunged for them, leaning forward to put her hands on them.

“Oh my goodness! Are the three of you alright?” Silver said.

“Ah hey, ye-yeah. We’re okay… save for nearly fainting from hunger,” Sophitia said. Silver blinked in what could only be described as utter disbelief. Her mouth was agape and slime drooled from her like sweat, made worse by her trembling. Sophitia stared back in fear, but behind her was only the suited Pokémon who promptly removed their clothing. “Is… everything okay?”

“Ye-yes! Of course, yes,” Silver gasped and stood straight. She looked around quickly. “Get these Pokémon some food! And towels, quickly!”

“That’s really everything? You just wandered for a while, absolutely nothing else happened?” Silver asked.

It turned out that the magical transportation had taken them back to the agent base in Densan City, although they ended up in a room they hadn’t seen before. While Lassic wasn’t present, plenty of other agents and authorities were, and they had no trouble helping the trio out.

Soon enough, Lute, Sophitia, and Infia were stuffing their faces while they ‘reported’ their investigation. It was during that conversation that Lute had fully recalled what he didn’t want to recall, the feelings he’d felt when confronted with Victor. It was the only time he’d gone quiet during the report, but thankfully, Silver’s surprise and interest took more attention.

“I just can’t believe you ended up down there. You three have no idea just how exceedingly lucky you are to still be alive,” Silver muttered.

“I guess surviving for hours underwater without an air source isn’t lucky enough?” Sophitia rolled her eyes. “What’s got you so worked up, anyway?”

There was a pause, and Silver shut her eyes. “You’re right. But I’m talking on two accounts here. Not only is it a miracle you didn’t drown to death, but that place you were in… should’ve killed you…”

“There wasn’t anything there, though. And we’re not dumb enough to run off a cliff,” Sophitia tilted her head.

Silver cleared her throat. “This might seem difficult to swallow at first, but what I’m about to tell you is classified information. Don’t repeat it outside of here.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Sophitia said.

“Deep inside of the planet… we really don’t understand how it works, but inside of Aseria is what we believe is an entirely different world.”

“A different world?” Infia said.

“It is called Moand Dia. It was discovered after we learnt how to transport using the Deposit Boxes. Even after we manufactured the boxes ourselves, it turned out there was one in an unknown location. But anyone who went there immediately evaporated,” Silver began.

“Evaporated?” Sophitia leaned back.

“So there was a Deposit Box in a place we never knew existed, even though we believed we were the ones to make boxes. And the world this box was in turned out to not only be deep inside our planet, but in a place where the atmosphere of V-Waves is so condensed that no living Pokémon can withstand it. Our bodies are just torn to shreds,” Silver explained.

“That would explain why when the agents came to get us, they were in those weird suits,” Sophitia mumbled. Silver nodded.

“We’ve developed suits that reject V-Waves, but of course, wearing something like that prevents you from using any attacks or abilities. We’ve been unable to explore Moand Dia any further than simple on foot travel,” Silver continued. “But you three, you were unconscious there and woke up with no issues whatsoever. You were completely unaffected by that world’s atmosphere.”

“It looked really amazing, too. I never would’ve guessed that it was a whole other world,” Lute’s eyes gleamed. “If we weren’t hurt, I’d love to explore it.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to rescue Esther first, don’t we?” Sophitia, gave him a tap with a feeler.

“The three of you have been through far more than enough for now. If I had known that a High Point was involved, I never would’ve brought you into that investigation. I’ll be honest, that was only supposed to be another test of your abilities. It was never supposed to get this dramatic,” Silver stood up. “Please. I’ll have agents escort you home. The three of you can take it easy for a while.”

“It was just a test. Did we fail?” Infia said so softly it was hard to hear her. Silver froze.

“Forget about that. I put you all in unnecessary harm’s way. It’s a blessing that you’re all alive,” Silver answered after a pause. “If you’re all okay now, we should send you back to Everend. And when you’re there, relax. Don’t worry about Esther or the High Points. We’ve got it handled.”

“Are you sure?” Sophitia said in concern.

“Yes, I’m sure. Think of yourselves, Marina must be worried sick,” Silver shook her hands. Lute’s eyes widened.

“Worried sick is an understatement! We’ll never hear the end of it,” Lute gasped. Sophitia looked just as afraid, and stood up. One of the agents from earlier, the Blaziken, approached them.

“He’ll make sure you all get home safe. I had them write a note for Marina as well. Make sure she gets that, and she should ease up,” Silver said.

There wasn’t anything else after that. The Blaziken led them out through familiar paths. Sophitia was quiet while Infia scrunched herself up, keeping close to Lute. The Eevee however, he couldn’t stop his mind from wandering to that other world.

“Moand Dia,” he whispered to himself. The mystical colours and star-filled scenery was still fresh in his memory, and his imagination thought up all possible secrets the world held. Now that he was warm and full of food, all he wanted to do was look all around the place.

Once they were out of the room, Silver let out a sigh as if she’d been holding her breath. After moment of tensing up, she bolted to one of the computers and shoved aside the Pokémon currently working there.

“I’m sorry, I have to use this!” she shouted, her tone matching her frantic movements. She scrolled through files and data like her life depended on it, getting her slime all over the touch screen. She reached a database for the Pokémon that had been in contact with the authorities, where she found Marina’s name. “Found you. And to check what your lineage is really hiding.”

The screen told her everything. Marina Aska, a former scientist under the service of the agents that headed an entire research and development facility at the Ministry of Science. According to the file, she had four children and a husband who were all deceased, but Silver knew that part all too well.

Then it hit her. In this file’s current state, there was no mention of Lute whatsoever.

Silver scrolled through it restlessly, ignoring all the curious and annoyed eyes around her. She checked files and reports, but found only things she already knew about the Vaporeon. She checked each one thoroughly like she was living on borrowed time, all until she got to one last report. A single file labelled “RETIREMENT”.

She tapped it of course. Unlike every other file on the system, a prompt for a password came up, refusing to let her read it. Silver flinched, and finally slowed down to steady her thoughts. This was the most mysterious thing she had come across since learning about Moand Dia.

“A single report locked behind your own personal password, here of all places. The agents have access to every single piece of data, history, and current status of every single Aserian resident that we have ever been involved with, except this. Why would you lock this?” she mumbled to herself, hovering over the keyboard. She hesitantly began to type one key at a time. “If I had to make the biggest gamble… E, V, O, L, I.”

The file opened, and she leaned forward with obsession. She skimmed only a few lines and her mouth fell to the floor. “So that’s why. That’s what Lute is.”

Lute and company used the Deposit Box so they got back in no time at all. Still, it was sunset around that time, so everything was leisurely and quiet. With everything calm before the inevitable storm that was Marina freaking out, the trio had time to calm down and chat.

Well, Lute and Sophitia chatted. Infia was silent with her thoughts the whole time, and still walked on the opposite side of Sophitia. She hadn’t forgiven the Sylveon’s intrusion into her affairs with Lute, but right now, she was relieved enough to be back in familiar territory. It made her think that she might be being harsh, that maybe she was wrong. She was ready to give Sophitia a good chance. Lute liked her, after all.

But then she was dropped off at home, and reality rushed right back. The Eeveelutions gave her positive waves of goodbye, but Infia could see right through it. Sophitia forced herself to smile and wave. She looked like she was ready to indulge in an interview about everything Infia didn’t want to talk about right now.

This was the first time Sophitia had seen her home, after all. Infia had almost slammed the door on them in order to escape. The home was a complete standout from every other house in Everend. It was a mansion, a fancy building with an entryway, over a dozen rooms, painted inside and out and supported by columns and all. Victoria had supposedly lived here for years after hitting the big time on a fashion breakthrough.

Now, it was considered the hideout of a terrorist. It was vacant besides this little Minun and the Fennekin that was supposed to look after her. She called out politely and had to search for said Fennekin, not surprised to find a note from him on her bedroom table.

“Again?” Infia whispered as she tiredly skimmed the note.

It was the usual, a neatly written and detailed letter about how he was off doing high ranked agent work and wouldn’t make it home for an unpredictable length of time. He’d left her instructions on what food was left and how to cook it if she wanted, and while she had no problem with that, it wouldn’t solve her feelings right now.

She sat back in her chair at her desk, which faced a mirror. Looking back at her was a droopy Minun that looked like it had slept through a storm. She sat there blankly, hating how she looked in that mirror. Her body didn’t have a single good feature. Not with clothes on, and even as she carelessly threw them off, not one underneath, either. The used nappy under it all only made her shiver with frustration.

For the first time ever, she punched her mirror. She punched it once, whimpered, then smashed it with both paws and a roar, causing it to shatter. The shards ripped through her and drew blood, but it was distracting, only. A few cuts on her paws wasn’t anything like what she felt in her chest.

She slid against the broken mirror, intentionally trying to dig the shards into herself as she leaned on her desk. It hurt so much. It forced her to worry about the cuts rather than what she had just experienced. What she had been experiencing.

However, the thoughts wouldn’t leave her this time. The way Sophitia tried to control her life. Victoria’s secrets and the way she suddenly stopped treating her like a parent should. The cold hearts of the agents. And then just when everything felt like it might be hopeful with Esther’s show, it was the work of Sophitia again. To top it all off, Esther’s true nature felt like a nightmare she didn’t want to believe happened.

Infia drew blood and cringed, but it wouldn’t help. The foul-mouthed Pikachu and her slobby room were engraved in her memories. The only Pokémon she ever looked up to was that despicable adult that Infia aspired to never end up becoming. No matter how much pain she gave herself, there was no hope.

She didn’t want to be an Agent of King’s Shield. She didn’t want to hang out with Lute and Sophitia for the pain they brought her. But most of all, she didn’t want to be alive.
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Episode 12: Infia’s Big Play


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
9 Risen Fighter and Risen Shifter.jpg

Episode 12: Infia’s Big Play

“Something’s not right this morning. I’m telling you, I can feel it, something’s going terribly wrong,” Sophitia said. Her head was in her feelers as she was walked, so she bump into Pokémon in the school hallways.

“What’s with her?” Cinder leaned in to whisper. He, Raiju, and Lute weren’t far behind.

“I don’t know. She’s been saying stuff like that all morning,” Lute said.

“Oooh, were you two up to some naughties?” Raiju said, half-lidded. Sophitia suddenly flew across the hallway and slapped him down.

“Don’t say something so dumb. I would never!” she cried. “I’ve told you before that I can sense Pokémon’s emotions, right?”

“You can do that?” Lute gasped. Cinder looked surprised, too.

“It’s how I was able to tell Infia was hiding something. To tell the truth, Infia’s the only Pokémon whose emotions I’ve been able to sense so far. I’m guessing it has something to do with how strong they are,” Sophitia rubbed her chin. “After that incident, the feeling stopped. But last night and this morning, the feeling’s back, and it’s more uncomfortable than ever.”

“You’re probably just feeling something else. You ate a lot yesterday, maybe it’s indigestion?” Lute suggested.

“Indigest- I think I’d be able to tell the difference between that. If anything, I’m still hungry,” she replied.

“Of course you are,” Cinder rolled his eyes.

“Wait, seriously? You had like seven stacks of pancakes this morning. And all of them had sauce!” Lute cried.

“Wow. Keep eating like that, and you’ll turn into a marshmallow,” Raiju giggled.

“You’re gonna drop fat jokes here and I’m gonna say I don’t care. What matters is my emotion sensors are outta control right now. I think something really bad’s gonna happen to Infia,” she looked away. The school jingle went off, signalling everyone to head to their classrooms.

“Urf, I really feel like you’re overthinking. Infia’s probably fine. We walked her home yesterday,” Lute said as he took his place in the classroom. Sophitia moaned but joined him, but constantly watched the students as they piled into the room.

When rollcall started, it became clear to her. Infia didn’t come into the room at all. That foreboding wasn’t mere foreboding.

Sophitia had been woken up by the horrible tingle in her feelers. It felt the same way as when she initially sensed Infia’s discomfort, only this time, it was miles worse. The fact that she felt it when the Minun wasn’t anywhere near her told of just how powerful those feelings were.

It felt like a dark storm cloud had been smothering her all morning. She was cold enough to shiver, and had no idea of when this storm would end. The clouds brewed a gloomy feeling within her, but she wouldn’t give in to it. Not as long as she knew that this gloom belonged to someone else.

That said, it was too much. It was too much to sit here and concentrate on trivial schoolwork while Infia was out there, feeling far worse than she could’ve imagined. The fear that whatever was wrong with the Minun, by the time school was over it’d probably be too late. All it took was that thought for her to bolt to her feet.

“No, I can’t!” Sophitia shouted, silencing Anbi. The Umbreon gawked at her. “Sorry sir, but I need to go. Like, right now!”

“Sophitia?” Lute said.

“And you’re coming with!” she demanded.

“Wait, what? Why—” he gasped, but was choked as she yanked him out of the room. Anbi put a paw out to stop them, while Raiju and Cinder ran after them. They managed to stop them in the hallway.

“Whoa whoa hey now, what in the world do you think you’re doing?” Cinder hissed and flared his mane. “You can’t just up and walk out of class like that. Get back in there.”

“Yeah, if you leave now, Anbi’s gonna kill you,” Raiju added. Sophitia growled and shoved them both aside.

“This is more important. I know what I’m feeling and when my feelings are right, I’m right. Look, ah, I can’t explain it,” she leapt away. Lute and trio exchanged glances, and then jogged to catch up.

“Can’t we talk about this properly?” Lute said.

“This isn’t supposed to be talked about, this is an emergency, I know it! Think, why would Infia just not show up? She was totally fine physically, and—” she said, freezing upon exiting the building. The school gate was locked. “Lute, is there a Deposit Box in here?”

“A Deposit Box? Why would- wait, you can’t, not in front of Raiju and Cinder,” Lute said.

“It’s an emergency, Lute. Is or isn’t there a box here?” Sophitia urged.

The Eevee went quiet, prompting Cinder to speak up again. “Lute, c’mon. Help us talk some sense into her.”

He stayed quiet and stared at her with a straight face. She didn’t waver from her serious look at all, so he sighed aloud. “You really are convinced? Something’s wrong with Infia?”

“Let’s at least go to her house and see what’s happened. Please,” she proposed.

“Alright,” he said with a gulp. Raiju and Cinder exchanged gawks.

“You realise what you’re saying, right? Anbi’s gonna have like, the angriest meeting with our parents if you really go through with this. What’s gotten into you, how can you be on board with aimlessly stepping out of school like this?” Cinder hissed again.

“It’s not aimless. It’s Sophitia,” Lute replied. They both frowned at him. “I know better than anyone how much trouble we’re going to get in. But Sophitia’s shown strange powers numerous times now. If she says she can feel something bad with Infia, and there’s a chance that she’s right, then I don’t really want to risk it. You two should go back.”

He ignored their jaw-dropped faces and led the way around the school walls, where a Deposit Box was hidden in the shade right by the wall. As soon as she saw it, Sophitia hovered toward it.

“I thought you said Everend only had one of these?” she questioned.

“It’s super close to the other one, so I count it as one. And students sort of aren’t supposed to use this one. It’s to store tools for outside classes,” he said as he used his badge on it. Raiju and Cinder rambled questions but fell to shock when they saw his badge and its effect. Lute and Sophitia ignored them and jumped into the portal.

“I-I-I’m not seeing things, am I? That was an Agents of King’s Shield badge?” Raiju said, jaw-dropped. Cinder shook himself off and approached the portal.

“So that’s why they’ve all been acting so strange, missing classes and stuff. And they never even had the chance to stop and talk to me about it,” he shut his eyes.

“Cinder?” Raiju said.

“Without me even realising it… the moment Sophitia showed up, little Lute started growing up. C’mon, or we’ll get left behind,” he said as he made space to run and jump.

“Ah-aaahhh you as well? I thought I was going Spinda, but you as well?” Raiju cried. He whined as he watched Cinder disappear into the light. “We’re gonna get in so much trouble for this!”

They both fell out of the portal onto their faces on the other side of the school walls. Lute and Sophitia weren’t waiting for them, so they called out and caught up.

The group was silent, besides Raiju’s questions and interest. No one answered him however, leading to an awkward trip until Infia’s residence came into sight. Lute slowed down a bit, impressed with how fancy the house was. He had rarely been this close, and even though he’d seen it last night, this was his first time actually being there with the time and freedom to look around. The colours and finesse were better than he imagined from memory.

“Lute, why does Infia live in a house like this?” Sophitia asked.

“Huh? Is there something wrong with it?” he wondered.

“Kinda? It’s nothing like the other houses in Everend, so I thought Pokémon would get a bit antsy and stuff with it,” she mumbled a bit. “I guess this house belonged to Victoria, and she’s sorta snobby, so.”

“How’re you feeling, though? Can you still feel Infia?” Cinder asked.

“Of course I can. In fact, it’s grown stronger since we got here,” she said as she approached the door. She gave it two hard knocks with a paw and stood back, letting silence fall. There was no response, even after a minute.

“Guess nobody’s home,” Raiju smiled.

“No no, she’s in there. I know she is,” Sophitia knocked again. “It’s a big house, maybe she just takes a while to answer.”

“Shouldn’t the four of you be at school?” a deep voice said aloud, making them all flinch. They slowly turned away to see a Fennekin watching them from beyond the columns that held up the balcony.

“That guy,” Lute whispered. “Wait, you’re Mister Phoenix, right?”

“Oh right, the agent that was meant to look after her. You know where Infia is, don’t you?” Sophitia asked. Phoenix blinked at her. “She didn’t come into school today. A-and I wasn’t feeling all that right either, so we came to see how she was and stuff…”

Phoenix barely moved as she trailed off, and his cold glare tore apart her confidence. Something about him felt overpowering, like his mere presence exuded authority that she daren’t challenge. She gulped, half expecting him to suddenly bark so loud her ear drums would break. But he didn’t, and instead marched up to the door to unlock it with an old, shapely key.

He didn’t say a word, but him holding the door open was all they needed. Sophitia gulped again and warily strolled in. Her and the group were stunned by just the opening hallway. Lute’s house was better than she ever anticipated a Pokémon home to look like, but this blew it all out of the water.

All the floors were carpeted and softer than a Swirlix. Fancy paintings and sculptures decorated the rooms and hallways, all neatly placed and free of dust. It was warm, well lit, and so homely that she felt shameful just being a part of it. If she knew she was going to a house like this, she’d have ensured she washed properly this morning.

More importantly, those horrible vibes hit her like a truck. She sucked in a breath and shivered as negativity trampled her from all directions. All she did was step in, yet the atmosphere here destroyed her.

“Her room is upstairs and the first right,” Phoenix said. His voice was deep and static, almost robotic.

“Thanks,” Lute nodded. “We’ll just see if she’s there or not. If everything’s okay, then we’ll head back to school. That’s all.”

“You sound so calm about it, like we’re not gonna have to deal with Anbi,” Raiju said, sweating.

“I’m sure it’s nothing, but still,” Lute said as he knocked on her door. “U-uh, hi Infia! It’s us, Lute and the others.”

There was no response. “U-uh er, we’re coming in.”

Everyone entered the same way, nervous at first and then quick once they realised that she wasn’t there. Everything appeared orderly besides a broken mirror above her desk, the shards of which covered the surface. Lute and Sophitia shuddered as they slithered toward it, where they found a note. Lute hesitantly picked it up and read it in his head.

“I dunno why I’m surprised, but Infia’s room is really girly. Everything’s so pink and fluffy. She’s got lots of Pikachu plushies!” Raiju giggled.

“It’s merch from that pop star, Esther. Look at all this stuff. Lucky her, she has the room for posters and books, and is that a stack of magazines? It’s like she’s got every single issue or something,” Cinder gawked at it all.

“Wait really? We don’t even sell mags in Everend! How?” Raiju gasped.

While they rambled in awe at Infia’s dedicated collection, Sophitia started her own investigation. The negative vibes had vanished, so she could focus her thoughts. She tried to look away from the obvious at first, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary besides that note and the broken mirror. She slid a feeler between some shards to brush them aside, trying not to drop them on the floor. The desk was marked with red splotches.

“B-blood?” she whispered. Cinder and Raiju stepped over. “It’s dry, too. This looks like it happened last night.”

“But nothing else in the room is damaged. So then, what?” Cinder said. “Lute, what does the note say?”

All eyes turned to the Eevee, but he didn’t reply. He sounded like he was mumbling in terror, and his face was turning pale.

“Lute?” Sophitia said louder. He still didn’t respond, so she snatched the note from him and read aloud. “By the time you are reading this, I will be long gone. If there is a soul that cares enough after finding this note, you will find my remains at the Radial Castle east of Everend.”

“My remains?” Cinder said, exchanging a shocked glance with Raiju.

“I have decided that I hate this world and the Pokémon in it. Attempting to live for the sake of others has shown me that there isn’t a single Pokémon worth living for, and none care for my being enough for me to stay here. And so, I relinquish all of my belongings to Lute, and I will leave the world for good,” Sophitia said. She froze when it hit her. She slowly put the note down to meet everyone’s speechless faces. “Wha-what the hell?”

“But why? Didn’t you say you took her home last night? How did—” Cinder staggered. “Tha-that blood on the desk, don’t tell me that’s hers?”

“Did something happen last night? This is serious!” Raiju said.

“I can’t,” Lute said on a shuddering breath. It looked like tears were already forming in his eyes.

“Lute?” Cinder said.

“I just- I can’t… why did she…” he muttered, blinking a lot as well. “… She’s really gone?”

“No! Don’t say that you idiot, she’s not gone!” Sophitia shouted, looking back and forth. “She had to have written this in the morning. That means she’s still here, she’s gone to that Radial Castle place instead of going to school. It’s still early, we can catch her!”

“You’re right, she can’t have gotten far. P-plus, the Radial Castle is… I don’t think she can get there easily on her own,” Cinder said. “You guys, we need to go. Like, now!”

“You really mean it? She’s not… dead yet? We can save her?” Lute said quietly.

His voice had no strength to it at all, so no one answered. They all exchanged shaky breaths and awkward glances, until Raiju started growling, and he released a Thundershock in the space between them.

“Yes. We. Can! But not if we keep letting surprise get the better of us. Like Cinder said, we gotta go right now right this very minute,” Raiju shouted, and then bolted out. Cinder growled and followed him, though the others couldn’t keep up with him. The dashed after him, leaving Infia’s door wide open. Phoenix was still at the bottom of the stairs, unbothered by Raiju’s anxious sprint past him.

“Phoenix! Why didn’t you stop her?” Sophitia screamed.

“Stop her?” The Fennekin replied.

“Infia! She left this note and she’s gone off to kill herself. How don’t you know about this?” Sophitia shouted.

“I was on an objective last night. This is actually my first time home since a few days ago,” Phoenix took the note to skim read it. He didn’t react. “Go to the Radial Castle. I’ll make sure you have help.”

“You’re not coming with us?” she said.

“I have work to do. I can’,” he stated.

“But you’re supposed to be her guardian! This is kinda more important than work? Sophitia said, grabbing her fur with her feelers. Phoenix didn’t change face once. “Argh, forget you! I shouldn’t be surprised that bastard agents like you exist.”

Phoenix still didn’t react to her. Not one emotion showed on his face, not even after the group had vanished into Everend’s distance.

If Lute ever wanted to know what true panic felt like, now he knew. Soon after their trip to the east of Everend started, all he could think about was Infia. He knew that the Minun was upset at Sophitia, but he had thought it a simple problem with Sophitia’s actions, not something so bad that she would pull a stunt like this.

He didn’t want to do it, but he was mentally preparing himself for the worst of this. He didn’t know how to, but he expected to deal with Infia no longer being around. He couldn’t imagine it either, and that thought was what had him so jittery and weak. If somebody else found something to be upset about right this very moment, he might just explode into tears.

Thankfully, no one said anything that might cause that to happen. Everyone was silent and focused, though their faces told of whether their frustration or sadness drove them. The further out from the town they went, the more those emotions disappeared into concern at their surroundings.

Lute and his friends had never been this far away from the town before. Beyond the river cave and into the distant fields normally obscured by fog during cold weather, the hilly fields of the countryside turned into tangled webs of curly weeds and soggy soil. The greenery grew long enough to tickle Lute’s cheeks, while the shape of it all grew into erratic yet ugly patterns. There were enough trees and flowers to be called a forest as well, and some of it even grew fruit.

All the time during their travel, the silhouette of the towering castle in the distance became closer and closer, and as it did, so did the fog and chilly weather. It was as if Lute’s increasing fears set the scenery for him, obscuring his future and forcing him to be more careful than he had ever been before.

“Do you guys know anything about this castle? Infia knew the name of it and stuff, so I’m wondering why she chose to go there,” Sophitia finally broke the silence.

“It’s one of Everend’s only landmarks, if you can call it that. One of the places that travelling Pokémon come to town to explore. I don’t really know anything else besides rumours,” Cinder stated.

“Whatever’s worth making note of,” Sophitia said.

“They say it used to be a castle that ancient Pokémon used. Weird facts like the castle being able to fly in the sky, but now it’s rooted into the ground in such a way that it’s leaning constantly,” Cinder explained. Lute and Raiju raised their heads in interest. “It’s supposed to be a real sight to see. But feral Pokémon live there now, so Pokémon from the town normally leave it alone.”

“I’m not the only one that feels like it’s been covered in fog for ages now, am I?” Raiju said.

“I… think it has. I kinda saw it briefly when I first came to Everend, but even then, it was barely visible through the fog,” Sophitia rubbed her chin. Lute slowly looked up at her. “Before you say anything, we both saw it when we came out of the river cave. I’m not suddenly remembering anything.”

That wasn’t important now, anyway. Under normal circumstances, rumours like that would drive his curiosity and excite him. But he just couldn’t. The way he felt right now, any other thought was a distraction from the potential life-changing disaster that was Infia’s dark note.

“Okay, now it’s my turn to ask a question. Can you still feel Infia’s emotions?” Cinder asked.

Sophitia stopped and shivered as chilly moisture stuck to her. “I can’t. But it stopped after we found her note. It’s more like the feelings were coming from the note itself and not her?”

“So we have no idea if we’re too late or not,” he became stern. Lute shivered hard, and he gasped quietly.

“Don’t say stuff like that you dingus!” Raiju cried.

“What do you mean? That’s just all the more reason to hurry,” Cinder said, taking the lead. He stopped almost immediately, revealing that they had reached the castle. Just like the aforementioned rumours, the whole structure was rooted into the ground in such a way that the floor was tilted, but it didn’t look difficult to walk on. Everything was made of stone, so it looked even colder inside.

Not that they could even see inside. There weren’t any candles, lights, or even signs to help guide, leading to a short field of view. It didn’t look like there were any decorations either, as if the place had been stripped of all evidence that it was once inhabited. It was just a stone dungeon with the layout of a castle.

“Infia really went to somewhere like this? This is scary,” Lute said. “Is she planning to let feral Pokémon eat her or something?”

“I wouldn’t think about that. She’s somewhere here, and we need to find her. Which brings me to my next question for you two,” Cinder said, still stern. “I figured it’s because you’re both Agents of King’s Shield now, but why didn’t you contact the police for this?”

“You came with us all this way before asking something like that?” Sophitia said. He didn’t reply. “That’s just the way how I work. I don’t think the police could get here in time.”

Cinder hesitated for a moment. “You’re telling the truth? What about you, Lute?”

Lute flinched. “Me? Uh… I-I… I wasn’t thinking straight. I just… Infia…”

“Those are pretty simple questions not to have an answer to,” a new voice took their attention, making them all flinch. Lute cried out, though everyone took sides stood back to back with one another. There were no silhouettes. “Up here!”

Lute quickly turned up and quickly spotted a shadow in one of the trees nearby. It jumped towards him before he could get a proper look at it, and he cried out again, only to get muffled as the Pokémon snatched him up.

“Lute!” Sophitia gasped, following the figure with her feelers. Both were slapped away by an attack, but that let Raiju and Cinder confront the figure with bared flames and crackling electricity.

“Hey hey, quieten down already! Are you trying to get us all killed?” the Pokémon replied, stood defensively.

It was a Chespin as tall as Sophitia. He held Lute tightly under one arm while the other held the green thorns of a Needle Arm attack. The leaves of his green hood were spiked as well. Lute squirmed and let out muffled moans until the Chespin let him free from annoyance.

He was bulky for his species, bulky and tall. His figure was sturdy, the darker brown spots of his fur were styled, and he even had excess fur in a ponytail behind his head. “Kids like you are way out of your league hanging about a place like this. You wanna leave this to the experts.”

“We can’t do that. Our friend is in there,” Sophitia said.

Chespin raised an eyebrow. “Inside a Spirle hideout?”

“Yeah! Inside the- wait wait wha whoa who wha?” Raiju spat. “Spirle hideout?”

“That’s the Radial Castle. It’s just a landmark for—” Cinder said.

“It’s now a hideout for Spirle goons and a High Point. Take the word of a mercenary,” Chespin corrected them. A sloppy roar echoed through the air, and they all turned to the castle. “Look, I don’t have time for this. Be good kids and just get out of here, okay?”

He ran inside before anyone could object, though more of the cries came from within. Lute shook himself off and ran after him. “We don’t have time to be standing around, either! Guys, let’s just go!”

“So to answer my questions, you two are just the attack first, ask questions later type?” Cinder said.

“I guess you could say that, but does it matter?” Sophitia said.

The group ran inside but quickly halted when the sound of a battle took over. It was too dark and foggy to see the distant walls from in here, but there were flashes and glows from attacks going off. A fierce battle was going down between the Chespin and some dark coloured opponents, a couple of giants.

“Wait a minute, those noises, are those Risen?” Sophitia gasped.

“Sophitia, observe first, strategize!” Cinder cried.

She didn’t listen to him. She ran right towards the combatants. They were Risen after all, the slimy, mud-coloured monsters with fat scythes for arms and hulking figures. One of them roared at Sophitia from behind its mask, making her fur stand on end. Its piercing red eyes were the only feature that stood out in the lighting.

Lute was right behind her. He didn’t think twice about using Swift. He jumped above the blue Sylveon and threw his attack at the Risen, and although it didn’t flinch, it turned its attention on him, evident by a roar in his direction.

“Uh oh,” he staggered away.

“Hey Lute, not the time for training. I’ll take him out, you guys look for Infia,” Sophitia called out as she summoned her magic sword and shield. She bashed against the monster’s arm and then tried to slice it, but her blade bounced right off its muddy skin. “What the?”

“Get down!” Chespin cried, coming out of nowhere. He punched the back of her head hard enough to knock her to the floor, but that let a Fire Blast attack stream right over her.

She didn’t have time to thank him, though. There were two Risen, and the one that Chespin fought held a large fireball on each hand. It unleashed them one at a time, the first one at Chespin who dodged with a dive to the side, while Sophitia blocked the second with her shield. It still sent her skidding across the floor, however.

“Sophitia!” Lute cried, blinking tears away. “N-no, I’m not going to leave you like this.”

“Then just don’t get yourself hurt,” she growled.

“You gotta be kiddin’ me,” Raiju popped up beside them. “Look I’m ready to run when you guys are, but I ain’t bein’ the scaredy Meowth of the group.”

“If we take this thing down, we’re doing it together. Everyone, attack at once,” Cinder growled at it as well.

“But I can’t—” Sophitia was about to say. She cut herself off when she saw the three of them ready their powers. Lute used Swift, Cinder threw up a Flamethrower, and Raiju cried out to release a Thunderbolt. The three attacks hit one of the Risen directly in the chest, making it cry out. A blast occurred, and it stumbled and fell to its back. “Wow. You two are stronger than I expected.”

“Evolution gives you a default edge,” Raiju snickered.

Meanwhile, Chespin was still dealing with the fire-throwing Risen. He alone had the strength to stagger it with Needle Arm, but nothing brought it to the ground. He avoided several blasts of flame and countered with hefty punches, but his fight halted when that Risen suddenly backed off from him.

The other Risen stood back up and communicated with its partner through gurgled growls. That raised eyebrows and obvious questions, but all were answered soon after when the muddy monsters dove into one another. Their dirty figures glowed for a moment, and then began to melt into each other, combining into one colossal, hulking monstrosity. With four arms, sludgy waste that dribbled off constantly, and a hunching pose that made it look like it didn’t even fit into the room, it roared with an irritating volume.

“Okay, that’s new,” Chespin said, wide-eyed. The Risen drew back two of its fists, and he shot over to Lute and the others. “Oh shit!”

All of them cried out as the fists were swung, but all they felt was the force of a heavy impact that shook the ground. Sophitia was the first to look up. The Chespin protected them all. A large, thorny shield had grown from his glowing back. “Of course, Spiky Shield.”

“Less wows, more gettin’ out of here like I told you to,” Chespin growled, straining to keep the shield up.

“Right,” Lute cried as he dashed free with the others. The moment they all moved away, Chespin let up his shield and jumped high to avoid another punch. He ended up diving and rolling across the ground to avoid subsequent attacks from the colossal Risen, ending with his back to a corner of the room.

“Oh no, we’ve gotta help him,” Raiju cried.

“How? We can’t even touch something like that,” Cinder said.

“Well we’ve got to do something,” Sophitia cried.

The fight continued before they were ready, with the Risen holding two of its hands high. Fire Blast attacks emerged at the palms of both, while the other two arms pulled back to smash the ground. Chespin stared it all down with a cocky smile.

The Fire Blasts came first. The moment one was fired, he dove into a Rollout attack and slipped between the Risen’s feet. He kept rolling and curled around the second Fire Blast, and then jumped out of his attack to let vines extend from his shoulders. As the Risen twisted around to try and smash him into the ground, he wrapped his vines around its legs, releasing the attack by flipping back into Rollout.

Before anyone realised, there was a thick tangle of vines around the legs of the Risen. Chespin didn’t stop there however - he rolled up the monster’s arm, swinging himself with fluent momentum until he reached the monster’s head. Once there, he kicked off of it to launch himself even higher, coming down with both arms pulled back. However, his body glowed with a sparkling burst of green energy.

“Frenzy Plant!” Chespin roared at the top of his voice, using both arms to hammer down into the Risen.

The green energy exploded from him in the shape of vicious roots lined with spikes. The roots wrapped themselves around the top half of the Risen, making it stumble backward. It tripped thanks to the prior Vine Whip, and then the roots exploded, sending the monster to the ground with enough force to shake the whole castle.

Cries and smoke took over the room from the impact, and Lute and the others had to shield themselves even from their distance. Several angst filled moments later, the smoke began to clear and the cries of the Risen stopped. The entire top half of the monster had been disintegrated, leaving only a melting bottom half. Chespin was a good distance from it, breathing aloud and crouched on one hand. Once the smoke cleared, he stood up in triumph. “Now that was a workout.”

“H-he took that whole thing out by himself,” Sophitia said, jaw-dropped.

“If that was a Chesnaught, I wouldn’t be so surprised. But I’m not dreaming, am I?” Cinder said. “Did you see that? He knew Frenzy Plant.”

“The strongest grass type move,” Raiju remarked.

“So what, you kids don’t know how to follow instructions or something?” Chespin commented. “I told you to leave how many times. Don’t make me have to make you leave.”

“We-were not going. I-I mean, thank you, you’re amazing!” Lute shook himself.

“Okay. Are you just dumb sightseers?” Chespin raised an eyebrow.

“No. We came here to find our friend. She’s here, she came here to… oh gods, we don’t have time to mess around. We need to find Infia, she could be anywhere here,” Lute glanced at the others.

“Infia?” Chespin repeated.

“Lute, what’ve I told you about saying too much? Yeah our friend a Minun came here. I’m not gonna doubt you in that this is a Spirle hideout since those Risen were here, but we really can’t leave until we find her,” Sophitia explained. Chespin was quiet.

“So that’s what this is about. You’re just her friends I take it?” Chespin folded his arms. “Well this is a horrible place for a game of hide and seek, but I’ll let you look around if you follow my lead and don’t get in my way.”

Sophitia groaned while Cinder stepped forward and bowed. Raiju copied a moment later. “We really appreciate your help, sir. Thank you for saving us as well.”

“A High Point is here, so I’m serious. Don’t play hero and stay behind me,” Chespin instructed as he walked past them.

“Risen, a High Point, Spirle members…” Lute hung his head. “N-no. I can’t be scared. Infia came here, but she’s still alive. She has to be.”

“If she was killed by those Risen, we’d have found a body. So you don’t need to worry about that,” Chespin said. Lute looked up at him in surprise, even though he wasn’t looking at them. “Stay behind me, now.”

Lute and the others exchanged weird glances and then followed at a distance. At one of the corners of the room was an unseen staircase that spiralled upwards in a square fashion. At the end of each steep section was a corridor to another area of the castle or a room. All of it was so high up and distant that the furthest walls were shrouded in fog, and their field of view soon reduced to the limited light Sophitia’s magic shield gave off. Chespin didn’t seem to be bothered by that, however.

“Hey er, mister? What’s your name?” Raiju asked once they came to a stop. Chespin checked out one of the corridors, but quickly concluded to move on.

“I don’t think that’s important,” he replied.

“That… makes it hard to trust you, even though you just saved us,” Cinder said.

“You’re good kids, and I’m just a naughty mercenary that you’re probably not gonna run into again after today,” Chepsin smirked.

“But you—” Lute began.

“Trust me, kid. It’s much better if you don’t know who I am. After today, forget that you saw me,” Chespin glanced back. His serious look made Lute’s heart heavy.

“Yeah. Like we’re just supposed to accept that as a reason,” Sophitia said. “So what’s so important about you that you have to stay secret? Who are you?”

“What do you wanna know about me?” Chespin raised both eyebrows at her.

“Ugh, don’t give me that look. I just asked for your name,” she turned away. He answered her by holding out his right arm. Only now they noticed a gold bracelet on it. “So what? You’re rich or something?”

“No Sophitia, it’s a unison bracelet. Pokémon who are married wear matching bracelets or rings with their partners,” Cinder stated.

“Hu-what? What does that have to do with me asking questions?” she replied.

“It means I’m taken, hun. No names, no addresses. Plus, you should probably aim for a dude your own age,” Chespin said.

“That’s not what I’m talking about!” she cried.

“Oh, so you swing both ways?” he commented.

“What- tsk, you’re going to annoy me rather than answer, aren’t you?” she growled.

“Well you won’t take no for an answer, so,” he shrugged, stopping at another corridor. His face switched. “This isn’t good. It’s starting to look like Spirle bailed while we were fighting. This place is empty. Their machines aren’t even around.”

“But then where would Infia be?” Lute moaned. Chespin thought about it for a moment. “Sh-she came here to kill herself!”

Chespin flinched. “Why didn’t you tell me it was that serious? At the top. If I was to guess a suicide method that wasn’t those Risen, then a jump from the peak would—”

“N-no, I don’t want to- Infia!” Lute cried, shaking his head. He flew into a Quick Attack and bolted up the stairs.

“Wait you idiot, this might be a trap!” Chespin cried, sticking an arm out.

“Lute!” the others called out as well.

It was still a long way up, but Quick Attack made it more of a long sprint. If there was a chance she was there, then Lute desperately didn’t want to miss her. He couldn’t afford to, and he hadn’t let go of that thought even once.

The staircase reached its peak in the middle of the wall rather than in a corner, where the final steps led out onto a flat roof high in the sky. He had to skid to a stop to not crash into the wall thanks to how sudden the change of layout was, but that enabled him to see all that he needed to see.

There she was. Infia was at the far end of the roof, stood on top of the battlements with her back to him. It looked like she was hugging herself, but it was difficult to make out the details thanks to the sunset obscuring her colours. He knew it was her. The shape and height matched up perfectly.

He lost his voice as she stepped forward. Just then, everything besides Infia, this setting, and himself, seemed to vanish from reality. She stepped off the roof, and he was the only one who could have stopped her. He screamed her name and burst forward with Quick Attack again, throwing himself over the merlon without thinking about it.

He met her lifeless face once he was over the edge, catching up enough to cradle her in his front paws. His chest heaved with the crazy increase in momentum, and he shut his tearing eyes, doing nothing but pull her into his chest as tightly as he could.

“Son of a- argh!” Chespin roared, on the edge of the roof himself. His vines were stretched out and had just about grasped Lute by his tail, but that awful grip had him slide forward just too far. He made an effort to pull back, but his feet slipped off the footing.

“No!” Sophitia screamed. The moment he slipped off the ledge, her paws wrapped around Chespin’s front, and then Raiju’s wrapped around her waist, with Cinder doing the same for Raiju. With a Pokémon chain formed, the lot of them pulled back with all their might, flinging Lute and Infia high in the air. They all landed in a messy, painful heap, but Lute ignored all of those feelings to get up and cradle Infia once again.

“Oh my gods,” he whispered continuously, trembling uncontrollably. She didn’t move in his arms, but that didn’t stop him from nuzzling into her. She was almost like a lifeless doll, limp and expressionless.

“Holy cow that was close,” Raiju said as he stood up with everyone else.

“Close is an understatement,” Cinder huffed.

Chespin looked like he was going to have a go at them until he realised Lute’s state. The Eevee and Minun both shivered hard from the near-death situation, so he decided to step back instead, sliding out of view of Lute’s friends who crowded round.

“Infia… please, don’t ever do that again,” Lute whispered, moaning in an effort to hold back tears. They were both still breathing heavily, but quietened down.

Although her blank appearance never changed, Infia eventually slid her arms around Lute and slowly slid her face into his mane. Never before had it felt so good to bury herself into his warmth.
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Episode 13: Missing Feelings


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
10 Lute's necklace.jpg

Episode 13: Missing Feelings

Everyone expected Lute to be talkative after their successful rescue. Instead, the Eevee was quieter than he was during their trip to the Radial Castle. To say he was lost in thought was an understatement – he was so far deep that he didn’t even respond when his name was called.

This whole experience made him reflect on all of his recent events. He felt responsible for Infia’s depression, responsible because of his own refusal to accept everything that had actually been going on. He wanted everything to be black and white. He wanted Sophitia’s amnesia to lead to adventure. He wanted being an agent to lead to excitement.

All it did was reveal the nasty intricacies of reality. He didn’t know what was being expected from him, yet he felt as though he was expected to know and act in some adult way. Meanwhile, the feelings of those closest to him were going through the same thing, and despite how obvious that was, he had been ignoring them all the whole time.

Infia was fine. She was alive. He so badly wanted to be relieved about that, but it was obvious that she wasn’t and was still in the same danger as before. The way she sat on his back, slumped forward like a lifeless doll the whole way back to Everend told him. He couldn’t feel a single living vibe from her.

“Lute!” Cinder’s voice finally snapped him out of his trance. The Flareon had to shout at the top of his voice.

“Wha?” the Eevee responded, dazed a bit.

“Finally. We’re back in Everend. But you’ve been out of it the whole time,” Cinder said. “What’s the plan?”

“It’s kinda late. And we haven’t eaten yet, either. You guys hungry?” Raiju asked.

Lute made a sound and looked around to gather where he was. Everend was unchanged. Just the same quiet, cosy town filled with Pokémon following routine. The hour was late and dark, so there weren’t many Pokémon around. None of them would be aware or maybe even care much that he had just dived off a tower to save a Pokémon’s life.

Infia’s current state. Of course. This was about her right now, not him. When they found her, she wasn’t wearing her usual clothing, not even the necessary nappy. It revealed that the situation with the mirror was worse than they imagined, too. Her body, her arms especially, were covered in cuts and marks. You would never be able to tell how much she’d hurt herself beneath all her usual pink clothes. He wanted to ask about it, but refrained.

“We should get you home. More than anything, you need rest,” Lute suggested. She shuffled a bit, and that was all.

“I would say that’s a good call, but, what’s the deal with that Fennekin?” Cinder replied.

Lute led the way anyway. “We’ll have to deal with him.”

“You can’t stop him from doing his job,” Infia said weakly.

“But his job was also to look after you. Right when it mattered most, he refused to help,” Lute said, unable to hide his fury. He held his breath for a moment, surprised to hear himself sound so angry. His tone silenced Infia though, making him down his ears. “Sorry, Infia. I’m not going to do anything bad. I just… I really want you to be okay after all this.”

He couldn’t help but sneak a glance at Sophitia, but she was as silent and focused as she’d been since the rescue. The Sylveon hadn’t said a word to either of them and stayed back out of their sight. She stayed that way even after they arrived at Infia’s home. She even left Lute to knock and avoided eye contact.

“You’re here,” Lute muttered when Phoenix answered.

The Fennekin didn’t say anything, he just welcomed them all inside and let them gather in one of the front rooms. There was a tea table in the centre and a sofa, although not at the height expected for any of the Pokémon currently here. Victoria probably wouldn’t even be able to use them.

“You managed to stop her. Thank you,” Phoenix said after they’d all settled down. Infia finally got off Lute’s back, and he approached her. “Are you alright?”

She nodded with a light noise which he acknowledged by walking around her. “I had your clothes washed and returned your room to normal. I also made sure we were stocked up on your favourite cheese snacks, all of them. Do not hold back on eating, and make sure you get plenty of rest.”

“Wait, that’s it? Now you’re going to actually start acting like a carer?” Sophitia gritted her fangs.

“I am afraid I won’t be around tonight, so I won’t be able to make you pizza or anything. You know what to do if you want hot food,” Phoenix continued. “If those wounds start to hurt, there are Sitrus Berries in the bag in the kitchen. It is hanging near the fireplace.”

“Are you ignoring me?” Sophitia raised her voice.

“Guys… it’s okay.” Infia looked down. Lute felt a nerve get hit, and he tensed his whole body.

“No, it’s not okay! You don’t have to say it is. This guy doesn’t even sound like he cares,” he shouted. “What’s with you? First you leave Infia alone for all this time, then when she needs our help the most, you go and do something else? And now you wanna look like you actually care?”

Phoenix didn’t answer, but he did turn face them. Lute growled, feeling put down by the Pokémon’s mature aura. But he couldn’t back down. This was for Infia. With his heart full of fear and eyes on the verge of tears, he stomped his feet to challenge Phoenix with the bravest pose he could muster.

“I was busy with something of equal importance,” Phoenix replied.

“This isn’t right! What could you possibly be doing that’s ‘equally important’? You left her alone to die!” Lute cried.

Phoenix bared his fangs and the slightest hint of a growl snuck through. “Trying to save Esther.”

“Trying to—” Lute said, and then he snapped shut. He sucked in a breath, Sophitia and Infia doing similar. “Save Esther?”

“You mean… she’s still kidnapped? The other agents haven’t saved her yet?” Infia said.

“The other agents aren’t even looking. Me and Kuri were the only ones investigating,” Phoenix informed. “We managed to settle for a ransom deal. And I am to make the exchange tonight.”

For the first time in an argument, Lute stopped to think long and hard about what he’d just learnt and what he knew. He already knew that Phoenix was an agent before he was, and he was obviously trustworthy enough to be chosen to take care of Infia. Despite being given that task, he was multitasking enough to set up this ransom exchange with a Spirle High Point. In Lute’s short time at the Agent’s of King’s Shield, he was the first Pokémon to get this kind of opportunity.

Even still, the Fennekin had prioritised Esther over Infia. It felt questionable until he asked himself why, where recent memories played out in his head.

“You’ve mentioned fluffy cheeks a few times. Who or what?” Sophitia said.

“Oh, Fluffy Cheeks! Mister Fluffy Cheeks is Mister Fluffy Cheeks. He’s called that ‘cos that’s what he’s got, fluffy cheeks!” Esther cheered. Lute and Sophitia exchanged blank gazes, making her laugh. “He’s my Fennekin guard, silly! The cutie’s really quiet, but he’s a real sweetheart. He’s always looking out for me, and it makes Brayen pretty jealous.”

The whole conversation repeated several times before he clicked. Phoenix might have had a closer relationship with Esther than he expected, perhaps even something similar to himself and Infia – not exactly love, not friendship either, but the complicated in between.

“D-do you mind if I ask a few questions?” Lute said.

“Ask what you wish. However, we need to be on our way soon,” Phoenix said. He turned to Infia robotically. “You will need to stay here and recover your strength. You have concerns for Esther, don’t you?”

Infia shuddered, but her face said it all, pale and flustered. She gulped and nodded, paws by her mouth.

“Stay here and recover your strength. I will do my best to ensure she comes home. Lute, you will need to come with me,” Phoenix said.

“U-uhm, sorry but I’m really not comfortable with that whole shtick,” Sophitia said. “We’ve literally just got home from like, something pretty damn serious, you know? We can’t just leave her here. Lute should stay with her.”

“You’re really still going to pull that after all of this?” Cinder palmed his face. Sophitia shivered, hard.

“The condition for the ransom exchange is actually that Lute is present,” Phoenix informed. Everyone’s eyes widened.

“Me?” Lute raised an eyebrow. He shook his head. “Why me? What do I have to do with Esther?”

“I don’t know. The condition was to exchange money, and for Lute to be present. I believe it would be wise for you to be present as well.”

“Well yeah. Not the best plan to totally trust terrorists,” Sophitia said with a shrug.

“Well how about this. We’ll stay here with Infia for the night. You guys go and get Esther.” Cinder stood in between them. “We’re classmates of hers, so it’s fine.”

“Aww what? I was waitin’ for you to suggest the cooler idea,” Raiju whined.

“Normally I would suggest all going together, but we’re in no condition to. And at the end of the day, Lute and Sophitia are the agents. Not us,” Cinder reasoned. Raiju grumbled.

“Correct. I would not authorise you coming with us,” Phoenix said. “Are you able to depart now?”

“This sudden, too. What would you have done if we had failed? Or if Lute wasn’t here?” Sophitia asked.

“I would still attend. Not attending achieves nothing,” Phoenix answered. She groaned and rubbed her face. “We can use the Deposit Box to get to the destination.”

“Wa-wait. Just before you go, please,” Infia spoke up. She glanced around the room and then jogged out hastily. Raiju hesitantly chose to follow her, but she gestured for him not to follow however. Everyone exchanged unsure looks, but she only disappeared into her room and was out in a minute with a necklace.

“What’s this? It looks pretty nice,” Lute wondered.

He froze when she leaned in and hung it around his neck, making sure that the jewel was at the front. It was a thin necklace with a small, clear sphere on it. Lute held it up and looked into inside at the strange pattern of waves floating around within. It almost looked like there was clear liquid flowing inside.

“I made it a long while ago. It… gives me strength. But you might need it more,” Infia said.

“If it gives you stre—” Lute replied.

“In fact, you should keep it. You will need it more. It’s better in your paws, please. It’s all I can give you for saving me,” she bowed nervously.

He went quiet. “Thank you. I’ll cherish it.”

“You guys, please be careful.” She looked down. “I… know what it seems like, but I don’t hate Esther. She doesn’t deserve to be hurt by Spirle at all. Please try to save her. I know you’re agents that’re really strong, but please don’t let yourselves get hurt, too. You’re more important.”

You be careful! I’m going to be more worried about you.” Lute put a paw on her. “Please… I-I’ll be back. I-it won’t be like this for long. I promise.”

Infia didn’t reply, but she did look up for a moment. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to cheer her up so easily, but he wanted to get that message through somehow. With clear reluctance, he faced Phoenix and Sophitia, and nodded to tell them he was ready.

Their destination was a city called Angard, so Lute and Sophitia were surprised when the Deposit Box dropped them off in the open wilderness of a dead field. The trio landed on dried weeds that disintegrated from the touch. Surrounding them was the layout of cultivated fields, only all the flowers and vegetation were no better than crusty stems and rock-hard soil.

“Is this?” Lute muttered as he rubbed his eyes to try and focus. The sun had set and the stars were out, so the dark grey and black of all the vegetation wasn’t helping him work out the way forward. He did eventually settle on the silhouettes of some structures in the distance though, tall and square enough shapes to be called a city.

“Whoa okay, that’s cold. Trust the bad guys to pick a dusty old place like this.” Sophitia scrunched up as if she stepped in something nasty.

“It is cold. And everything’s… dead. Wait, what is this place?” Lute remarked.

“It is a city called Angard. The nutrition from the planet has been stolen from this country, so the entire continent is uninhabitable,” Phoenix stated as he led the way towards the city. “We need to move, or we will be late.”

“If I knew it was gonna be this cold, I’d have asked if we could get clothes.” Sophitia wrapped her feelers around herself. “Did they say where to meet them? Because we seem pretty far out of nowhere.”

“By the crater. The crater is the only remarkable place left here. So I cannot tell you exactly, but I believe it will be easy to find once we are nearby,” Phoenix said.

Silence fell for a moment. Lute had questions, but held back out of interest in the area. It was freezing, but the air was stagnant, like a chill was gradually working its way into him rather than brushing past him in the wind. Contrary to that, the way all the plants and fields were charcoal coloured, to him it almost looked like the world had been burnt to a crisp.

He smiled briefly as he lost himself in the wonder of this place. This region obviously had a story, a history, a legend that he’d love to spend all day researching. He shook his head to dismiss all of that, realising he was getting distracted. This area’s story was something to keep in mind, but it was unrelated. For now, he had to keep his focus on Infia and Esther’s matters. With the city still in the distance, he had time to chat.

“Phoenix, you mentioned a Pokémon called Kuri earlier. Who was that?” he asked. Only now did he realise that he had to look up at Phoenix. For a Fennekin, Phoenix was huge, almost Sophitia’s size.

“Kuri is a friend, a Chespin mercenary who I keep in contact with.” Phoenix didn’t look back at him.

“A Mercenary?” Lute replied.

“It’s sorta like a fighter or a soldier that gets hired to fight for money. They usually only do serious work, like fighting wars, or serving as bodyguards,” Sophitia explained. “Can’t think what a mercenary would do in a world like this, though. Besides Spirle, everything seems so peaceful.”

“He is the one I asked to help you find Infia. Did he not meet you at the Radial Castle?” Phoenix asked.

Sophitia’s eyes widened. “You… did say you would ensure we had help. I thought you just meant calling some useless social service or something, but… Yes, he did. If we’re talking about the same Chespin.”

“There was a Chespin who helped. He didn’t tell us his name or anything, though,” Lute said.

“I cannot think why he would decide to do that. Kuri is a friend, but he is wanted by the Agents of King’s Shield. I personally leak information to him so that he can avoid arrest while he goes about his personal mission. It’s a secret to everybody,” Phoenix explained. “Please do not tell the other agents. Our work is imperative.”

“My lips are sealed,” Sophitia said with a zipping motion.

“Wait. You do that?” Lute gasped. “Why? Who exactly are you and Kuri?”

There was a pause of quiet, and Lute had to slow down to stay behind Phoenix. The Fennekin sped right back up though, and never looked back once. “I do not know the exact answer to that question. What you see and think of me is who I am.”

“So not exactly the most welcoming person ever,” Sophitia rolled her eyes.

“I have little memories of my childhood. According to Silver and the other Agents of King’s Shield, Spirle kidnapped me and my family to conduct experiments. My parents were turned into Risen, while I was turned into who I am now,” Phoenix said. “I am a Pokémon who has been enhanced through unknown means of genetic engineering.”

Sophitia’s face went straight.

“I… sorry, I don’t know what you mean by engineering? Do you mean they turned you into a machine or something?” Lute scratched his head.

“Pokémon say that I am many times stronger than my species should allow, but that I lack any feelings or emotions. I do not need to eat or sleep, and I do not tire when running or fighting. I can hold my breath for a long time as well, though the Pokémon still keep me away from water, saying that I shouldn’t touch it,” Phoenix continued. “It was Kuri who took me away from Spirle. He is the first Pokémon I have ever known to show concern for me. I believe the term to use is that he ‘raised me like his own child’. When I learned enough about the world from him, he sent me to the agents. When I learnt that the agents wanted to arrest him, I decided to pay him back by protecting him in secret.”

“For someone with no emotions, you certainly do care about that Chespin a lot.” Sophitia looked away. Lute spared her a glance as well, finding her more troubled than before.

Phoenix scrunched up his face. “I can only act as I have been taught. I believe that this is the way Pokémon would act to those they care about?”

“Well, yeah. That’s right, that’s taking care of a friend,” she said. “You just don’t look it or anything, you know? Nor do you sound it. The way you spoke before, it sounded to me like you put work over everything.”

“All I know is to follow orders. Kuri taught me to take care of Pokémon who have done good to me. And when I was made to be Esther’s personal bodyguard, she treated me in that way. But I have failed in letting her get kidnapped. I must do everything I can to ensure she is harmed as little as possible.”

“So Esther really is a close friend to you,” Lute went quiet.

“I believe in your terms, yes, she is a close friend. She did not treat me as a bodyguard, or a tool for my strength like the agents or Spirle do. She enjoys me being around, and nor do I mind her habits or routines,” he explained.

Probably because of the food and sweets he sneaks to her and stuff. It sounds like they really are closer friends than I thought. Better friends than I ever treated Infia, Lute thought. He slowly looked up. Better not ask too many questions in case I get on his nerves. But I don’t get why he works for the agents if he doesn’t like the way they treat him. If they ever found out he was leaking information to Kuri, both of them would be in big trouble. Wouldn’t it be better to just not work for the agents at all?


“You’ve got to be the prettiest Pokémon I’ve ever held hostage,” a Klefki sung as he jingled its keys and bounced around the room. Esther was sat on a clean and comfy bed with her arms folded.

“You’ve said that for the dozenth time already,” grumbled the Pikachu.

“I’ve gotta ask, ya’know? Why you decided to play hostage. I mean I’m happy to have a Pokémon to play with like this, especially when I get put on duty. And especially when they’re beautiful Pokémon like you. But like, really, why even stay in my grip? You could’ve left ages ago,” Klefki said. His voice was like an infant that had just learnt to talk.

Esther shut her eyes to try and drown out his nonsensical rambles, but he just kept on going, praising and reminding her or her appearance over and over until she growled and her cheeks crackled. “Shut up already!”

“Na-uh. We’ve gotta kill time until your prince gets here. And I hate waitin’ for authorities, they take so long. So let’s chat, get to known each other. Did I forget to mention that it’s a real honour to be in your presence because you’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever met?” Klefki replied.

“Oh my gods I get it! Why are we even having this conversation?” Esther cried and made fists. Klefki stopped in front of her and giggled.

“Because you are as powerful as you are cute. And you’re really cute, so I know for a fact that you could’ve pummelled me and made a break for it a while ago. But instead, you sit here and put up with me. How come?” he said, and gasped at the end. “Could it be? Do you like me in secret?”

“You’re a Spirle High Point. You’re gonna try something shady if I lose. Considering your wacky attitude, I get the feeling I’ll make a mistake in trying to run and it’ll just entertain you. I’ve seen that skit before.” Esther folded her arms.

“Nah-uh. We’re meeting your prince on neutral ground. I can promise you; I’ve never seen this place before in my life.” Klefki calmed down a bit. He floated close to Esther’s face, opening his ring out to wrap it around her neck. She breathed in sharply and grit her teeth. “Or maybe you do like me, don’t you? You’re enjoying these hours we’ve spent together.”

“Get that nasty idea outta your head. I hate you. I’ve hated you from the moment I first heard your voice,” she growled. That set him off laughing, and he started spinning around her again. “And you’re Spirle scum! I would die before I fall for the likes of any of you!”

“Aww, that’s such a horrible thing to say to a ten-year-old. I didn’t take you for the snobby type that hates children. Boo hoo,” Klefki wailed, and then started laughing even harder.

“Wait, you’re ten years old? The actual hell?” She gasped.

“Oh yes. I’m a ten-year-old Klefki that has been made into a masterclass of Pokémon. Not even the mighty Arceus could kill me if given the chance! You’ll see a fraction of my power when your prince arrives,” Klefki bragged, half-lidded. “But for you… er, nah. Everything I’ve wanted to do with you, I’ve already done.”

Esther looked away for a moment, quickly realising what he may have meant. “Wait, what the hell did you do to me in my sleep?”

“Nothing, mwahahaha!”

“I swear to Arceus, if you put that key of yours in places it shouldn’t go, then so help me gods I will—” she raised her voice.

“Oh my, your mind went straight to the gutter! What a naughty lady you are,” he sung. “Did you just forget I’m ten?”

“You- argh, what is actually wrong with you?” she cried, grabbing her head.

“Let’s just say theoretically I did do something naughty. I wanna see what you’re gonna do to me. Go ahead, one free attack!” he said. Esther raised a fist but backed down with a growl. “Aww. If you need your weapon, it’s upstairs. I’m not gonna stop ya.”

“I’ve been behind bars until now. What makes you think I’ll fall for your little tricks? You’re not going to make it that easy.” She folded her arms once again.

“It’s a shame that there’s no trust between us. I’d love to have the trust of a pretty Pokémon like you. But really, all your stuff is upstairs,” Klefki stated. “Victor was really hung up about keeping you tied up and gagged and all that, but that’s not my style.”

“I don’t need your pity,” Esther pouted.

“It’s not pity, it’s care. And to be honest, I do not care what happens to you. Just like I do not care what happens to your prince. Understand this: I have absolutely zero use for you, even with my position in Spirle. As a hostage, you are worth nothing to me. So I’ve given you the freedom to do whatever you want. I’d love for you to entertain me, but you’ll only be worth that and nothing more, so I won’t press it,” he explained as he floated right up to her face again. “Besides chatting of course, mwahahaha! So, what’s your favourite colour? What’s your best attack? Who is you boyfriend? I’m dying to know.”

“Like I’d answer any of that!” she cried.

“Not even the favourite colour? That’s like, the least invasive question there is,” he sung.

“I—” she froze. She stood up and hopped off the bed. “It’s actually pink. I find it cute.”

“See? Was that so hard?” he said with a giggle. “Although, I never would’ve guessed. The way you talk, it seems like the real you and your stage persona are totes different.”

“They are different. But wearing pink is an actual preference,” she said as she headed for the stairs. The house they were in wasn’t like anything she’d seen before, being two storey and decorated with a variety of colours. There were lots of spaces in the walls and floor that implied there was once apparatus there. Even the stairs had slots for a handrail along the side that was strangely absent. She was hesitant at first, but made her way up with careful steps. Each step creaked with fragility.

The top was a single room, once again devoid of anything except the coloured walls. Surely enough, all of her belongings were right there, scattered in the centre of the room. Her ribbon covered baton, her pink shirt and bows, just like the Klefki said. She eyed the room carefully, expecting some nasty trap to spring upon touch. However, nothing happened in her approach.

“The shirt’s been washed,” she said to herself as she slipped it on. She finally looked like a pop star again. I can’t believe Spirle have treated me better than Brayen has. I got fed, they took care of my stuff, and now they’re letting me run free.

She looked back at the stairs. I don’t know where I am, so I probably won’t get far if I leave now. But if I look around and find Phoenix before he reaches here, he may not even have to fight. But then again, that kid’s probably gonna follow me.

She shut her eyes, took a deep breath, and tucked her baton beneath her tutu. It fitted behind her in such a way that it was invisible to the eyes. No. Whether Phoenix fights him or not, it’ll be alright. I have to believe in Phoenix’s strength.

She made her way back downstairs to find the Klefki lying on the bed where she’d been sitting. He was sunk into the mattress, so relaxed that she almost thought he was sleeping until one of his keys raised. “Uh…”

“Your spot already smells like you. And you smell nice,” he sung.

“Right.” She rolled her eyes. “If I’m so useless to you, I’d rather leave.”

“Cool. Good luck with that,” he said. He didn’t move an inch. Esther raised an eyebrow, keeping her eyes on him as she opened the door to leave. Not a single movement. He was well and truly allowing her to walk out.

This cannot possibly be happening, she thought, wide-eyed as she left. She shivered immediately. She didn’t expect the outside world to be the cold, charcoal coloured land that it was. Buildings just like the one she was in surrounded her, except that all of those other buildings were the same dark colours as the crusty ground. “Got to find out where I am.”

“Esther?” Lute cried, making her jump.
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Episode 14: Lute’s Evolution


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
Episode 14: Lute’s Evolution

“Esther?” Lute cried, making the Pikachu jump. She shook her hands hushed the trio.

“If Esther’s here, then that means the High Point is nearby. Was this a trap?” Phoenix warned, looking every which way to try and find it. Lute and Sophitia gasped and did the same.

“No no, he’s in the house there. But he’s… let’s just go. We can get outta here if we’re quiet,” Esther led the way. She darted off between what looked like a few alleys and backstreets.

Angard turned out to be the most unsettling place that Lute had ever been to. The only colour in the entire world was the house that Esther had snuck out of. Every other structure in this city had that nasty burnt colour. Going through the tight alleyways shrouded them in total black, where not even their sense of smell could guide them. There was no smell, everything felt cold, and the presence of time was non-existent.

They stopped when Esther ran out of breath, where they were on the edge of what looked like a town square. The layout seemed like a functional area Pokémon could live in, but with the area so quiet and lifeless, he just couldn’t picture what kind of species would choose to stay here.

“Phew. Okay, I think we’re in the clear for a bit,” Esther sighed.

“What happened? Did you manage to get away?” Lute asked.

“Something like that. It’s weird.” She leaned on the wall beside her.

“Don’t push the wall!” Phoenix shouted, and she flinched. It was too late, however The pressure she put on caused the wall to tilt, and with it, the foundation of the structure it held up began to collapse.

“Oh shit,” Esther whispered.

“Run!” Phoenix said.

“Goes without saying,” Sophitia cried, scraping up a gawking Lute to jump away. The building fell straight down onto itself, creating a huge cloud of dust. The crash was louder than she anticipated as well, and she cringed as a tsunami of dust covered them. It took long enough to clear for them to breathe it in and set off coughing as well, but minutes later, they were back in the clear.

“The buildings here are just as bad as the land itself. They will collapse at the lightest touch,” Phoenix warned.

“Now you tell us. So much for losing him, too,” Esther complained.

“The High Point? I don’t know what’s happening here, you’ve got to tell us,” Lute said.

“Oh never mind that. It’s more like, the heck was that? What actually is this place? This is crazy!” Esther cried as she spun around to look at it all.

“It’s… uh,” Sophitia said.

“Seriously, this is crazy cool. Did I really just bring down a whole building with one paw?” Esther chuckled. She admired her paws and flexed. “The wonders of what I can do when I’m fed properly.”

“Esther, focus!” Phoenix said.

“I am focused, and that was the coolest shit I’ve ever seen! Or well, in a while. And to think that it was you guys that came to get me, this has gotta be—” she said, bouncing on her toes. She froze and pointed to Lute. “Where’s the little Minun? She’d make this scene perfect.”

“Infia? She’s…” Lute looked behind him. He quickly realised that Esther had gotten them lost. “She’s resting at home. It’s complicated.”

“Oooh. Is she someone special?” Esther went half-lidded.

“What? No, I mean- yes, sorta?” Lute staggered. “Why are we talking about this?”

“That response equals relationship,” Esther giggled, and put her paws together. “You look after her, okay?”

“No! Please, I don’t want to talk about this now. And don’t talk like that around her too, I mean it,” he raised his voice.

“Alright alright kid, I won’t. Like you said, it’s complicated,” she swished a paw at him. “That guy is probably following the noise of the building and should be here by- yep, here it comes guys.”

Eyebrows were raised and awkward glances were shared until it became clear what she meant. The jingle of keys and excited giggles grew louder as a Klefki came flew towards them. The group posed to protect Esther as he approached, giving Klefki a chance to look over them all, where he started laughing even more excitedly.

“I can’t believe it. This is why they wanted me to confront you for the girl’s exchange rather than Victor. They knew you’d be coming, didn’t they?” Klefki began, jingling his keys constantly. “And to make matters better, you straight up waited for me. You do like me a lot, don’t you Esther?”

“Urgh, cut that idea out already. And you knew they’d be coming, that’s why it’s a ransom exchange?” Esther replied. “But forget the corny bad guy speech. I’m out here and they’re on my side. You’ve already lost!”

“Aww, but I had one all laid out and ready to go. I even recited it in my head! Do you know how fun it is to recite things in your head and then do them in reality?” Klefki whined.

“I’m in showbusiness. I’ve heard it all before.” She pouted.

“Aww, that’s true. Either way, the script has changed and there’s a lotta improvising to do to it now that I know who’s here,” Klefki continued. He finally stopped jingling his keys and stared at the group, particularly Lute. His hollow eyes stared directly into Lute’s, to which the Eevee gulped and edged away. “See the thing is Esther, this is no longer about you. It’s about us, the super Pokémon who’ve been powered up. Now that they’re here, I can finally get some real entertainment. A battle I actually have to try in!”

“Super Pokémon?” Sophitia said.

“I mean the genetically modified Pokémon, you know? Me, Phoenix, and the Eevee!” Klefki cheered. “That is assuming that’s Lute, of course. That is Lute, right?”

“I-I am. But why—” Lute gasped.

“Oh for goodness sake, stop giving the bad guys your name!” Sophitia roared up into the air and slapped Lute with a feeler.

“Yes, this is so good! We’ve literally got like, the strongest Pokémon in the world right here and right now. Can we fight? You can’t say no to a no-holds-barred fight at full power! When trainers’ eyes meet, a battle starts. That’s the rule, isn’t it?” Klefki leaned forward.

“What’re you talking about? I’m not genetically modified, I’m just an Eevee!” Lute cried.

Klefki flinched back. “Yes you are. You’re just like me and Phoenix, genetically engineered to be a super Pokémon. Except that, gasp- yours was done by the government, so yours has like, the best budget ever. You’re the perfect one I’m most excited to fight!”

“What?” Lute whispered, his mouth agape. “I really don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Is he the crazy one? I don’t know what he’s talking about either.” Sophitia frowned.

“Yep, he’s the crazy one,” Esther shrugged, just as unbothered. Klefki puffed out his cheeks.

“Okay, I’ll start from the top. I, Tetralocke, also known as Tetra, alongside Phoenix, have been genetically engineered to become a super powered Pokémon. If you don’t know what genetic engineering is, then well, how do I put this in a way that even a snobby little toddler like you can understand?” Klefki explained as he floated about. He stopped to glare at them snarkily. “They operated on us. They messed with our bones. Our organs. Our brains. They pumped us full of all the naughty stuff and made us into their super powered soldiers.”

Lute looked away. Phoenix told us something like that had happened to him, and that’s why he struggles to show emotion.

“But you, the government did that to you. While me and Phoenix here had the shoddy budget of whatever Spirle’s got to work on stuff, those guys had all the world’s taxes. So no doubt, they made Lute the perfect soldier,” Tetralocke said. “You, I can only imagine what powers are hiding in those cutesy little paws of yours. I’m so excited I can’t wait. Please, let’s stop chatting and let’s fight already!”

Lute was even more lost and confused than he’d ever been. Him, a super soldier made by the government? If he was that, he most certainly wouldn’t have the life he had now. The thought was so absurd that he was surprised Sophitia wasn’t laughing at him for it.

He gave it a proper thought anyway. The conditions for this ransom exchange were that he was present, for some reason. Now, this ‘super soldier’ was excited to meet and fight him. Tetra had even hinted before that he had been chosen to confront them rather than Victor, even though Victor was the one who kidnapped Esther in the first place.

There had to be a chance that what had just learnt was true.

“I have to see it for myself. I’m literally dying to see it. Fight me! Fight me Lute, and let us destroy the world around us in a battle worthy only of the gods!” Tetra cheered, and he started to laugh maniacally.

“Is he really that strong?” Sophitia raised her feelers from her bow. Her magic shield and sword formed at the end of each, and she posed with them, ready for battle. Meanwhile, Phoenix bared his fangs and puffed flames out, while Esther spun to draw her baton.

“I dunno. I didn’t try anything. He let me walk out ‘cos he didn’t want anything to do with me or something,” Esther said.

“Seriously? What’s the guy playing at?” Sophitia cried.

“Wait, is he really super powered? Doesn’t that mean we’re in danger?” Lute edged back.

“Lute, focus! He’s probably just trying to freak you out.” Sophitia looked back at him. “He’s a bad guy and a crazy kid. You can’t instantly believe everything he says—”

That was all she managed to say before a Flash Cannon attack burst right into her side, sending her flying back with a horrible scream. She flew until she smashed right into what looked like a street sign, breaking it apart.

“Sophitia!” Lute cried.

She immediately emerged from the rubble with a livid growl, her eyes filled with rage. “You’re gonna pay for that.”

“Sophitia,” Lute cried again, but was ignored. Sophitia charged right past him to take on Tetra with her sword raised and shield held back. She swung at him several times, but each attack missed thanks to Tetra’s nimble form. When she swung overhead, her sword hit the ground and left a dent.

“Oh, you’re kinda strong too, aren’t ya? I love it I love I love it, I’m getting’ all fired up.” Tetra started laughing. “This is the perfect warmup!”

He finally retaliated, bashing into her face with his front key pointed. It made her flinch, but his main attack came when his keyring opened up. His keys detached and floated around as if he was controlling them with psychic, and each one slashed or stabbed into Sophitia, drawing yelps and squeaks.

“Screw your Play Rough,” growled the Sylveon, pushing her shield in the way. The keys had no effect on it, but he kept hitting it anyway, giving her a chance to strike back. With her shield held forward, she pulled her sword back and thrust it, stabbing Tetra right through the face.

“Sophitia!” Lute choked and covered his mouth. The others gasped as well. The Klefki’s face and the top half of his keyring had vanished behind the wound of her sword, and even Sophitia was so shocked she froze.

“H-he’s supposed to be steel type. He shouldn’t have gotten stabbed this easily.” She shuddered.

She went quiet when Tetra’s giggling echoed around her, and a moment later, light particles gathered around her sword. His face and body reformed around her sword, locking her in place.

“Sike!” Tetra squealed and laughed at her. A Flash Cannon charged by his mouth, sending Sophitia into a panic, but she couldn’t move. Her sword was held so stiffly in his face it hurt, and it let him blast her point blank with his attack, sending her flying away again.

Phoenix was the next to take him on. The Fennekin smothered him in Flamethrower, making the laughing Klefki vanish into a sea of flames. They cleared quickly and left behind only a part of his keyring. Just like Sophitia’s attack, his body reformed in an instant, setting him off laughing even more.

Esther’s electricity came next, turning his laughter into spastic gibberish. He shook as he was zapped hard by Thunderbolt, and cried out when the attack exploded and he was shrouded in smoke. He came out of it with only his head intact, but he once again regenerated.

“Aw c’mon, what’s with this?” Esther cried.

“You guys didn’t believe me just because I’m a kid, didn’t you? Well kids don’t lie, you know. I was telling the truth when I said that I could battle like a god,” Tetra said as he jingled his keys again. “To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure how I would go about trying to kill someone like me, either. Even if you disintegrated me, I could come right back. Trust me, I’ve tried!”

“That’s absurd. The hell did Spirle do to you?” Esther gasped.

“Made me into their ultimate soldier. Well, one of them, anyway,” Tetra glanced to the side.

One of them?” Lute whispered and leaned back. Tetra turned to him and jingled with excitement again.

“So what’re you gonna do, huh? You clods can’t touch me, but maybe Lute can. After all, he’s just like me,” Tetra said. “I wonder how much like me you are, though? If I blow off a limb, will it regenerate like mine?”

“You don’t have limbs!” Lute cried.

“Oh yeah. That’s a shame,” Tetra sighed. “Can we fight now?”

Lute shuddered and shifted back. If the others can’t hurt him without him healing right back, what could I do?

Tetra’s face slowly shifted into one of innocent excitement, the kind when a child discovers a funfair for the first time. Lute struggled to focus, and dreaded when that Klefki would decide to make a move. Whatever came, he wouldn’t know how to react to it. He couldn’t react to it. He wasn’t strong enough, and all of those special features that were being said about him, he didn’t know a thing about how to use them. As far as he knew, he was just a weak little boy who had been roped into this by expectant grownups.

No, I can’t think that. I just can’t think that, Lute gasped in his head, and shook himself off. He tried to focus on Tetra, but that face drove his eyes away. He wiped his head of sweat and took deep breaths. Start with what you know, Lute. I actually made it to the Agents of King’s Shield. And Sophitia’s helping me to get stronger. I’m part of this fight. I have to try something.

He gave a little roar and jumped up, forming Swift stars beneath his paws. Tetra didn’t move even after he threw them, and took the hits head on. They flashed as they blew up around the Klefki, but it only pushed him back a bit.

If that’s no effect, then I’ll try Quick Attack! he thought. As soon as his feet touched the ground, he sprung forward at high speed, darting left and right as he approached Tetra as if to throw off the Klefki’s moves. His opponent didn’t move however, but was still excited.

“Lute, wait don’t charge at him!” Sophitia cried as she returned to the fight. She had a huge wound in her side where the Flash Cannon hit.

Lute heard her, but all that did was put insecurity back into his heart. He didn’t slow, but that small moment of fear that his best wouldn’t be good enough took his focus from the attack. He crashed into Tetra with a cry, but to him, it felt like butting his head into a metal wall. Tetra didn’t move an inch from his attack, and for a moment, Lute caught a glimpse of his smile fading.

That did no damage either. Bite HAS to do something! Lute cried in worry. He twisted his body and kicked off Tetra to spring himself high into the air, and then fell down with fangs bared. Grey energy in the shape of a bear trap formed with the motion of his mouth, which clamped down on Tetra’s main key, his head.

All of it had no effect. Lute was left grinding against the steel of Tetra’s keyring, and the Klefki hadn’t even been shoved in a direction. Panic shot through the his system as he jumped off and staggered away from the High Point. His thoughts melted away into fear, fear that he was stood in front of a Pokémon who could probably kill him in a flash.

“Hey c’mon, get serious already! That can’t be the best you can do,” Tetra whined.

“Lute!” Sophitia said. The others watched from a distance, teeth grinding in angst.

“Tha-that is!” Lute squeaked.

“Pardon?” Tetra replied.

“That is! That’s the best I can do I swear!” Lute cried and hung his head. He was starting to cry, and kept blinking to try and stop himself. “I-I-I can’t do any other moves. I’m not any stronger than this. P-please, don’t hurt me!”

“Lute, get a hold of yourself!” Sophitia cried as she rushed over to him.

“Don’t hurt me? Don’t hurt me? Are you serious? After you did your absolute strongest on me?” Tetra said, laughing with increasing volume. “You’ve gotta be kidding me! Not only are you the disappointment of the century, you and I both know you’re not going to get very far with that logic. That just ain’t fair. You hit me with your best, so I’m gonna hit you with my best!”

“Get behind me!” Sophitia hissed as she stepped over Lute.

She was just in time to stop Tetra’s sudden attack. He bounced and spun at high speed as his body began to glow like a disco ball. Magical lasers scattered from him and showered the world in blasts of light, but each hit was no match for Sophitia’s shield. It still made her growl and tense, however. Lute was pinned safely beneath her.

“Phoenix!” Esther gasped, spinning her body with her baton. The ribbon attached to it twirled around them both perfectly, creating a cone shaped barrier around them both that blocked Tetra’s Dazzling Gleam. Before they knew it, the attack was over and they all came out from their shields.

“What’s happening to me? It’s Psychic, you knew Psychic?” Tetra wailed like a baby. He was outlined in a blue glow and his keyring was rigid in place.

“Psychic? Am I using Psychic?” Lute gasped as he spun around.

“None of us here can use Psychic. It must be—” Sophitia choked. She slowly looked up, not surprised to see another Pokémon interrupting the battle.

A tall feline Pokémon floated above the battle with a single paw stretched forward, their nails elongated in threat. It wore a long, sunset coloured dress that flowed loosely with their release of psychic power, and beneath that, had pristine white fur. The tips of its legs and arms were coated in a navy-blue fur. A scarf-like bundle of thicker fur was wrapped around its neck, and there was also a bun of fur on its head. It had two large tails and lengthy ears that were stretched up.

“Get out,” the Pokémon said coldly.

“Oh, were you a secret backup or something?” Tetra asked. He screeched as his body shrivelled up a bit. For once, he actually sounded like he was in pain. “Okay, okay, I get it I get it please stop this is actually plain uncomfortable!”

“And us tearing your face off wasn’t?” Esther cried.

“Nah. The pain of mutilation only lasts a second. But this, this is agony make it stop ahahaha,” Tetra wailed.

The Pokémon raised its arm and Tetra was pulled with it, and then he got slammed into the ground hard enough to leave a crater. Tetra got right up of course, but he wasn’t laughing. “I’ve had enough, anyway. It’s obvious that none of you have got anything I’m looking for. No one who’s strong enough to give me a real fight.”

Lute felt a sense of relief for a moment, but his heart skipped a beat when Tetra darted toward him. “But I’m reporting this! Of how undeveloped you really are. When you get better, I definitely want a bout with you. Don’t keep me waiting too long! And don’t bring any of your friends, either. They barely warmed me up!”

Tetra flew away after that, laughing aloud to himself. He flew at such a speed it was hard to believe what had just happened. Lute blinked and gawked, but he didn’t want to say something that would give away his confusion. Glancing at the others, they were tense about the psychic Pokémon as they slowly descended into a confrontation.

“That order was to all of you. Leave this place and never come back,” she ordered. Her voice was low and quiet.

“H-hold on, it isn’t what it looks like! That was a Spirle High Point, we’re the good guys!” Esther cried.

“I don’t care. Just leave this place before I make you,” the Pokémon said.

“Wow, what a way to talk to a celeb. Don’t you recognise Esther? I thought all the girls loved me,” Esther folded her arms. The Pokémon’s eyes did widen, but only for the briefest of moments.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. Just get out of here,” she raised her voice.

“Before we get into another fight, we’re in your debt. So if you like, live here or something, we’re happy to go, right guys?” Sophitia looked over at everyone. “You really saved our bacon there. Can we get a name, please?”

The Pokémon hesitated. “It’s Gen. I’m a Meowstic.”

“Thank you, Gen. Seriously, that was a pickle. Now come on guys, let’s get outta here. The High Point’s gone and we have Esther,” Sophitia stated.

“Whoa whoa hey, not like that!” Esther skipped forward.

“Esther—” Phoenix stuck a paw out. Gen eyed them coldly, and didn’t react even when Esther raised her paws to shake hands.

“You took us out of a pickle and your only ask is for us to leave you alone? That’s not nice, nor cool,” the Pikachu said. Gen still didn’t react. “Okay, I’ll get to the point. See, I’m kinda curious about this place and I wanna look around. I got an Agent of King’s Shield with me, so I should have authority, right? Hey Mister Fluffy Cheeks, get over here!”

“Er, Esther? We kinda just got out of that. Shouldn’t we all head back together?” Sophitia suggested.

“Head back where? To your home? Or the agent base?” Esther asked, paws on her hips. “News flash: I don’t have a home, my manager’s in jail, and for the first time in months, I’ve had a decent meal. Let me make the most of it, will ya? I can live a little before I go back to your little celebrity ‘custody’.”

Lute and Sophitia didn’t know how to respond until Phoenix stepped forward. “You two can head home. I will ensure that Esther remains safe. You’ll be contacted with a report soon.”

“Wait, seriously? That’s it?” Sophitia gasped.

“Ugh, stupid kids just- okay fine, do whatever you want. But if I see any structural damage, you will pay for it. Understand?” Gen showed her fangs.

“Oh you bet! That first time was an honest accident. I’m soooooo nosy about this place, I just wanna look around,” Esther danced a bit.

“Nothing here is any of your business. Whatever,” Gen groaned.

“We’ll keep everything neat and tidy, promise!” Esther said.

“It’s not that. It’s this place and what you’ve done to it.” Gen folded her arms.

“We can talk about this if you want.” Esther went half-lidded.

Gen gave it a moment of thought, and looked over them all. “Stay the night. You also need to take care of that wound.”

“Me? N-no, I’m fine,” Sophitia said. Lute piped up a bit and glanced at her, surprised to see the weight of the wound she’d taken during the battle. Even though she’d only been hit by special attacks, flesh was showing, and around that wound were darkened marks like she’d been burnt. She caught Lute worriedly staring, and frowned. “What? I’m fine, thank you very much.”

Lute looked away and growled. “No you’re not.”

“Urf. Okay, I will be fine. That better?” she rectified. “And aren’t I the leader here? Between us two, anyway.”

“Yeah, this is more like it! We can all cool off and get to know each properly and stuff. It’ll be fun,” Esther said.

“Why isn’t Phoenix saying anything?” Lute sighed. “I hope Mum doesn’t freak out, either.”

“You’re an agent and you’re worrying about that? Marina will have to understand, that’s even if we don’t tell her the full story,” Sophitia said.

Gen used her psychic to fly and lead the group without a word. Whatever Marina thought of him staying the night somewhere else was the least of his worries right now. If life was to carry on the way it was, he had far more to deal with about himself that needed to be done right away. And that would start with a serious talk with Sophitia.
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Episode 15: Aseria’s Ancient History


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
11 Genesis.jpg
Episode 15: Aseria’s Ancient History

“Okay it’s not that I don’t appreciate the help, but do you have to use the most painful healing method known to man?” Sophitia said, and then squealed out loud as her wound was rubbed and prodded. Gen the Meowstic had a spray bottle and a cloth to deal with the Sylveon’s open wound, and although Sophitia allowed her to work, she kept cringing hard with every touch.

“Do you want to get infected?” Gen warned.

“Well no, but like, isn’t there a pain-free way to do this? Ow-eep!” She stifled a scream with a raised head. “You guys have all this scary technology like gondolas and automatic doors, but you couldn’t come up with something useful like a painless medicine?”

“I don’t think it’s that simple,” Esther giggled at the scene. Phoenix sat in a corner and watched, while Lute was lost in thought in the middle of the room. After a few more squeaks and screams, Sophitia was bandaged up just below her chest, though she scratched at the bandages.

“Don’t pick at them. Stay like that for a day or two and you should be fine. And obviously, stay out of fights,” Gen instructed.

“Kinda tough when the agents probably have work for us. So er, Lute. What’re we doing about food?” Sophitia asked.

“Food?” Lute mumbled, half-paying attention.

“Yeah, food. I dunno about you, but I’m ready to pass out back here. And I assure you, blood loss has nothing to do with it,” she said. He blinked in thought. He only now realised that they hadn’t eaten a thing since breakfast. He certainly didn’t feel it until she mentioned it.

“Wonderful. Agents damage my ruins, crash my home, and now they don’t even have a plan to look after themselves. Why did I sign up for this?” Gen shook her head as she marched off into another room.

“U-uh, sorry. We didn’t mean it that way. We’ll sort something out,” Lute trailed off as Gen returned with a bowl of berries. The sight of them awakened his actual hunger, and he felt his stomach rumble. “U-um…”

“Help yourself. I’m pretty sure I overstocked anyway,” Gen said.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Esther sung. “Don’t worry, I’ll pay ya back. Lady’s promise.”

“Wait, overstock? And you have these. You don’t really live here, do you?” Lute said, grabbing an Oran Berry.

“Yes. I do. I am a Pokémon who preserves history. So when Spirle members or petty criminals do their dirty work here like it’s some kind of abandoned location, I have to drive them out,” Gen stated as she played with a Pecha Berry. “Ruins and history are important, but so many Pokémon nowadays have no respect for them. All you can think about is building new things and ‘advancing society’, but I believe none of you are actually thinking about that.”

“Thinking about it?” Sophitia said with a full mouth.

“Like you just said. You’re all happy to build stuff Pokémon don’t need like automatic doors or whatnot, and all without thinking about it,” Gen clarified. Her face became fierce as she spoke, and her paws were dug into the berry. “You’re happy to erase history like it never happened. Too quick are Pokémon to convert to things they don’t fully understand. No matter what, I won’t let a single Pokémon touch this country.”

“Well if you wanna protect this place, then I’ll make sure I don’t touch anything,” Esther said. “Seriously, before was an accident. I really wanna look around ‘cos I’m super interested in this place, but once I’m done, I’ll be outta here.”

“But why do you want to protect this place? It’s clearly seen better days,” Lute asked. He flinched when Gen gave him a look. “I-I don’t mean that to be rude or anything. I can understand appreciating history. My teacher at school is like this, too. But choosing to live in a place like this, driving out intruders, there has to be a big reason.”

Gen stared at him until he looked away, and then sighed. “This place is Angard, an integral part of Aserian history. The country of Angard thrived off technology that was decades ahead of what we currently have. But with the power-hungry nature of the world at hand, it was forced into war and erased from the atlas.”

“This place was destroyed by Pokémon? Who and why?” Lute said.

“I told you. For its technology. It was ruthlessly drained of all life and turned into the fragile wasteland you see before you,” Gen closed her paws into fists. “I won’t let the modern world just forget its mistake. And so I will protect these ruins. For as long as I live, Angard will remain as a scar in our planet, a scar of the Pokémon’s sins.”

A scar of the Pokémon’s sins, Lute repeated to himself.

Despite that conversation and their intrusion to her home, Gen allowed the group to stay the night. Her home stood out in the dead lands of Angard as a giant tree stump, surprisingly functional as a habitat even for what Lute was used to. It had spacious rooms, warmth, and makeshift furniture that made room for storage, beds, and all else. The five of them were able to split up to sleep in three separate rooms, and in Lute and Sophitia’s case, their room even had a window.

Well, he thought everything would be alright. Past midnight, the two were still awake and staring at the single bed in their room. He knew exactly what the problem was, but he didn’t want to rush for it and look like a child, either.

“So uh, how’re we doin’ this? Heads or tails?” Sophitia snickered.

“Why does she even have multiple rooms if one of those rooms only has one bed?” Lute hung his head. “Forget it. You need it more. You’re the one who’s bandaged.”

“Oh, how gentlemanly of you. I’ll gladly accept,” She skipped over to plonk herself down on it. “You er… gonna be okay there?”

“We don’t really have a choice,” he said as he settled down. He immediately regretted it, though. The stump’s bumpy floor made for the worst possible place to sleep. He had a cushion at least, so he’d figure something out.

“There’s enough space for both of us,” Sophitia said quietly.

“H-huh?” he replied.

“Look I’m just giving you a choice to not sleep on the floor. Take it or leave it,” She looked away. It looked like she had the slightest hint of a blush for a moment, but the thought only made his own face red.

“No. I can’t be that useless, too. Don’t worry about it,” he said, and turned away. He slapped his head on the cushion and forced his eyes shut. “Goodnight, Sophitia.”

There was a pause. “Useless?”

Another pause. The word began to repeat itself in his head, and he growled. “Yeah. Useless.”

“What’s so useless about not sleeping on the floor? Everybody needs to sleep in a bed,” she said.

He growled harder. “That’s not what I mean. I just- never mind.”

There was quiet again, enough for him to hear her shuffle a little bit. He couldn’t tell what she was doing until he felt the light touches of her feelers wrap around him, and all so suddenly that he flinched. He kicked his feet as he was picked up and brought over to her side, where he was surprised to meet a warm smile. “S-Sophitia, wha-what’re you doing?”

“I can sense emotions silly, remember? So whatever’s ailing you, I can feel it too, kinda,” she said, and playfully brushed his nose. She pulled the covers up to his neck and slid back so that she was under them as well, although she had to coil her body a bit. “I can’t force you to talk about it or anything. But if the company helps, I don’t mind, okay? That’s all I’m saying.”

“So-Sophitia—” he mouthed as he tensed up. Being this close to her, the familiar vibes he felt with Infia resurfaced. He couldn’t stop himself from blushing, and the fear of making any embarrassing mistakes made him freeze completely. He gulped and snuck at glance at her anyway, hoping she wasn’t watching his eyes.

Sophitia was curled around him like a parent. Her hind legs cushioned his, while her front legs were settled near his mane, possibly an inch or two from an intimate cuddle. He was so close he could see her chest move with her relaxed breaths. He couldn’t understand why she wasn’t as nervous as he was right now, or maybe her soft curves hid her tenseness.

He almost stopped breathing for a moment. He always thought of Sophitia as strong, but he never realised how strong she looked until now. She wasn’t small and skinny like he was, but she wasn’t exactly as chubby as he initially thought, either. She was actually rather built, but her soft appearance on top of that muscle gave her body a look that he couldn’t not describe as attractive. He thought that until he got to the bandages around her chest, and his heart sunk.

“It’s my fault you got hurt. It’s my fault you got hurt again, and this time, this badly,” he sighed.

“Huh?” she replied, and glanced at the bandage. “Oh, this? That’s literally my fault for not paying attention. Let alone getting hit with super effective twice.”

“It’s not. You don’t have to butter it up.” He hopped off the bed to look out of the window. There was nothing but black sky. “I’m a member of the Agents of King’s Shield now, just like I always wanted to be. But it’s way harder than I ever imagined it’d be, and because of that, I’m seeing how weak and useless I really am.”

“You’re not weak and useless. Why do you suddenly feel that way?” she asked.

“Suddenly? This isn’t sudden, it’s every time.” He shook himself. “You’re always having to tell me off for giving stuff away to the High Points. I wasn’t able to damage the Risen at all. Not the ones at the Ministry of Science, or the ones at the Radial Castle. Victor beat me like nothing, and against Tetra, I couldn’t even damage him.”

“To be fair, nobody could damage tetra,” she commented.

“Yes they could. Everyone’s attacks forced him to regenerate his body but mine. And yours are not very effective! That’s just how weak I really am,” he growled at himself. “If I wasn’t here slowing you down, you wouldn’t be getting hurt like this.”

She stood up and stared at him. “So, what’re you going to do about it?”

He shuddered.

“Are you going to wallow in depressive thoughts like that, or are you going to work on actually getting strong enough to follow your dream?” she added.

He took in a breath, raising his head to hold back tears. “I want to say the latter, but I—”

“Then do that. Find your way of getting stronger, and take your time doing it,” she said. He breathed out and glanced back, surprised to see her smiling. “Hey, what kinda team leader would I be if I wasn’t supportive? I know I said about getting good at battles and learning lots of moves and stuff before, but maybe that’s not your thing, you know? You gotta get strong in your way. The real way.”

He looked down, to avoid eye-contact. “You’ll wait for me?”

“I’ll walk with you, wherever I can. That’s what friends do. Plus, if you wanna put a value on it, I do sorta owe you for convincing Marina to take me in and stuff,” she promised. That made him look up at her, and he gulped again. “Just think how this could’ve gone if you weren’t such a nice person. And if you weren’t so determined, what would’ve happened to Infia?”

“That was you, though,” he said.

“What, jumping off the roof to save her? Skipping out on school? Shouting at a guy as scary as Phoenix?” she praised. “When I think about it, you’ve definitely got strength where I don’t—”

“No I don’t! Stop it, you don’t have to be nice to me just because of all that,” he raised his voice and turned his back. “You don’t understand. I want to be a hero. I want to fight. I want to save Pokémon like you and Infia, yet whenever something comes up, my body just… weakens. I panic, I try even though I panic, and nothing comes from it. I’m just too weak.”

Sophitia went quiet. “There’s nothing I can say that’ll make you think otherwise, is there?”

“It’s not about thinking otherwise, it’s about what’s actually happening,” he argued.

She grumbled something and shuffled back into bed, which for some reason only made him feel guilty. He wanted her to retort with something supportive again, but she didn’t say anything, not even goodnight. Believing it would be worse if he said goodnight instead, he gulped and curled back into the cushion. It was barely any better than the floor – tonight would be a long night.

Morning came before he knew it. Without the usual sunlight or homely sounds to wake him, Lute passed out deeper than he ever knew he could. He was woken up by Esther of all Pokémon, who shocked him awake after shaking him for a good five minutes.

He didn’t know whether to say he slept well or horribly. Either way, it hurt to stretch, and every noise irked his head enough to groan at. Knowing he was an unwelcome guest though, he put up with it and behaved as conveniently as he could. He was worried about not having a proper bath, but with everyone in the same position, they didn’t seem to mind.

“I gave a report to Silver last night. She called this morning and requested your presence.” Phoenix greeted them at the front of the stump. Lute groaned again, not at the blunt greeting, but that the sky was still totally black. If it was morning, it certainly didn’t feel like it.

“Did she say what she wanted?” Sophitia asked.

“No. Usually, missions and reports shouldn’t be given over a video call, only face to face,” Phoenix informed. “Last night was an exception because of the circumstances. You should make your way over there immediately.”

“Great, that means we’re in trouble,” Sophitia sighed.

“It’ll take a while to get back, too,” Lute said.

“You two can do that thing where you travel through Deposit Boxes, can’t you?” Gen asked and folded her paws.

“Wa-wah! Were you listening?” Sophitia jumped.

“You don’t need to hide stuff like that from me, I know all about the agents. I have a Deposit Box behind the house, but I hacked it to stop them from locating it. To them, there aren’t any boxes here,” she said, showing them to the back of the stump. There it was, the familiar purple chest. “Don’t go telling anyone this is here. And when you leave, don’t even think about coming back here through this box. Do you understand?”

“O-of course! It’s all to keep Pokémon out and stuff, right? We won’t tell anyone, Miss Gen.” Lute bowed.

“That’s Mrs. to you. But forget it, call me Gen,” Gen corrected. Lute uttered a sound, but didn’t argue.

“Hey uh, if we’re keeping secrets and stuff, could you do me a solid and not tell the bigups where I am, too? Last thing I want is Pokémon like that Goodra worryin’ about me too,” Esther added.

“That’s already been dealt with. They know you’re in my care,” Phoenix said.

“In your care? Yeesh, I always gotta belong to some guy, huh?” Esther rolled her eyes. “Whatever works, I guess. But I’ll see you later, Lute, Sophitia! Let’s meetup sometime. I still owe you guys big time, too.”

She waved and skipped away before Lute could reply. He watched her run off on all fours until Sophitia nudged him. “Look at you go. You’re gettin’ all the pretty ladies.”

“That’s not- okay no, we’re not going there,” he said, activating the Deposit Box. She laughed aloud and followed. The duo disappeared into the box in a flash.

Gen stared at the box even after it locked itself and folded her arms. “Damn it Kuri. What’ve you done now?”

“Silver,” Lute greeted, wary as they stepped into the main room. The Goodra met them by the metal platform in the corner of the room. He was immediately drawn to it, remembering that it was the teleporter to Moand Dia.

“I heard about what happened with Phoenix. I wish I wasn’t bringing you here on circumstances like this. Are the two of you alright?” Silver began, one hand on her other arm.

“Why? What’ve you got planned?” Sophitia said.

Silver cleared her throat. “Do you remember the world inside the planet, Moand Dia? We’ve come to the conclusion that we need your help to properly explore it. We’ve come up with a plan to do so.”

Lute’s face went straight and his heart sunk. Exploring a place like that was all his dreams coming true, but he also had to accept that he wasn’t ready for it. With Sophitia bandaged and him so weak, he wasn’t sure if they would survive another fight.

“I-if you want us to explore, I don’t think we can,” he replied quietly. Sophitia gasped.

“Are you concerned about Sophitia’s wound? Won’t you go on your own?” Silver asked, and Lute beamed up a bit.

“I—” he raised a paw, but put it down shortly after. He didn’t know what to say.

“Oh no, this one’s not happening. We’re perfectly fine, Silver,” Sophitia objected. “If you want the finer details, we probably smell or something. Didn’t have access to a bath this morning.”

“I noticed. But it doesn’t matter.” Silver turned to a computer screen. A Breloom operating it touched a few things on the screen, and an atlas-like layout showed up on it. “We’ve managed to scan the region we currently have access to. We only need you to explore one section. That section is beyond our scan radius, but if you can setup computers there, we can expand our scan radius and figure out more of it. You won’t need to be down there long. Think of it more of a test mission to see exactly how an exploration of this place will go.”

“What exactly do you need us to do? I’m not very good at working computers, to be honest,” Sophitia admitted. Silver handed her a small ball split in half by a black line, with the top half red and the bottom half white.

“This is a storage capsule device. If you press the button, everything inside will come out. All the equipment we need to scan Moand Dia is already set up and constructed inside. So what you do is find an open area, then throw the ball into it, and then switch on the computer. That will be all,” Silver instructed. Sophitia eyed the ball and brushed a feeler over the button. “Press the button now and you’ll probably destroy this room. So don’t even think about it.”

She flinched and promptly slipped it into her belongings. “R-right. We can do that.”

Lute’s conflict drove him crazy inside, yet all he could do was shudder. He knew exactly what Sophitia was doing, knew what he had to do, and was so wary of what he was getting into that he could only foresee disaster. Yet he didn’t say a thing, speechless at the Sylveon’s confident responses as Silver continued to detail procedures and precautions.

For the first time since all of this started, he was distracted. All he could think about was the possibility of either of them getting killed and him not being able to do anything about it. Right here and now, he could recall the scene so clearly in his head. Sophitia shouted at him and then getting torn apart by the blast of an attack from a powerful Pokémon.

“Now go. And no matter what happens, stay together and do not engage in combat with any unknown life forms. If you come across one, add it to your report and retreat. Do I make myself clear?” Silver finished.

“You have our word. Lute?” Sophitia replied. He shook his head, brought back to reality just then. He actually felt relief that she was okay, even though it was just his daydream.

“I… yes. Understood,” he nodded slowly.

“Wake up, silly! You were supposed to be hyped about this,” Sophitia giggled. “C’mon, let’s go.”

“It’s actually you that’s in surprisingly cooperative spirits,” he said with a groan. He had to be dragged along to the platform. “What’s gotten into you?”

“I dunno! I’m just feeling real good and giddy lately. Guess I’m starting to see your appeal in exploring places.” She crossed her feelers. She swiped them aside quickly, and that activated the platform, whisking them away in a flash of bubbly lights. Silver gasped, and then a moment later pushed aside the Breloom on the computer.

“You really need to stop doing that,” Breloom groaned.

Lute gasped when they landed and then gawked at his rambling partner. Sophitia didn’t seem to notice what she had just done at all. “I mean, when I think about it real hard, it’s amazing that we’re like, the super special Pokémon who can freely go about this place.”


“Okay there’s nothing here and it’s sorta empty, but that’s what’s exciting about it, right? Nobody knows anything about this place, this mysterious world inside of Aseria. But soon enough, we’ll be the only ones that know about it. We’re so privileged!” Sophitia said as she led the way.


“And just thinking about that one, too. A world inside of the planet. Just look around you, this is nowhere near what I expected inside the planet to look like. All this golden sand, green water, and the fact that there’s even a sky down here. Ah, now that we’re not here and running on fumes, I’m like, super excited to look around!” she cheered

“Sophitia!” Silver’s voice boomed so loud the duo cringed.

“Wah! S-Silver, where, how did?” Sophitia gasped. She scrambled through her belongings and pulled out her badge.

“How did you activate the teleportal?” Silver’s voice boomed.

“Huh?” she replied.

“The teleportal! The silver thing we use to get to Moand Dia,” Silver shouted. “Only the computer can activate that, and remotely. How did you just do it? No one here touched anything!”

Sophitia’s face was blank. “Sophitia!”

“That’s what I was trying to tell you. I just saw you do that. How?” Lute gasped.

“I… I-I dunno. I dunno what to tell you, it just sorta came naturally to me. I guess I just, tripped something? Maybe?” the Sylveon shrugged.

“Or maybe,” Lute breathed out, a wide smile growing on his face. “Maybe this place has something to do with your missing memories?

“That’s impossible. I’m just a normal Sylveon, like I told you. Unless you count the blue fur and all that.” She looked away.

“We definitely have to look around, now. Something, anything, if you can remember anything at all,” Lute said. She wanted to argue with him, but seeing his revived look of determination brought a smile to her face. That innocent excitement she liked him for was back.

“You two, listen to me for a moment,” Silver turned the call into a video call. Her face was intense. “I wasn’t going to do this, especially when I saw the bandage, but we have a big opportunity that we can’t afford to pass up thanks to this discovery.”

“Oh? Go on?” Sophitia said.

“This teleportal was actually already here, long before we built the base around it. Lassic figured out how to get it to work by dissecting it and seeing that it had similar programming to the warp mechanics of the Deposit Box. However, these portals were pre-set to locations in Moand Dia. Fast forward to our predicament with the atmosphere of this place, and we couldn’t explore it properly,” Silver explained. She slammed her hands on the table. “Our past expeditions uncovered another teleportal deep in a cave to the west. Obviously, we’ve been unable to use it because we can’t connect our machines to it. But if Sophitia can use it without our machines, you can get further into Moand Dia. Further than we intended to a few minutes ago!”

“What’re we waiting for!” Lute bounced happily.

“Precautions, of course. You’ll be going into the complete unknown. Everything from that other teleportal onward, we have no idea what to expect from there,” Silver answered. “But your main objective remains the same: find an open space, open the capsule, turn on the computer and then return.”

“We can still do that. It’s just a lot more exciting now. And it was already pretty exciting!” Sophitia said. “Which way, Silver?”

“The first teleportal is in a cave to the west. It’s next to a waterfall,” Silver informed.

“Then we have our path. Let’s go.” Sophitia nodded.

Lute walked quickly, but only enough so that he walked alongside Sophitia. He wanted to feel like he was leading the way this time. This wasn’t about him, but about Sophitia. He knew he wasn’t ready for another dangerous fight, but if he could be useful in helping Sophitia recover her memories, then he’d have the very usefulness that she suggested he find. After all, this was something he always wanted to do since she joined him.

He thought about it as they walked. Of all the hints at her past that could have come up, having a connection to Moand Dia and the teleportals wasn’t what he expected. He was right on the money in being convinced she was special – her walking across water, magical shield and sword attack, and now this. She had to have been feeling shy when she was trying to tell him she was an ordinary shiny Sylveon, and that thought made him smile a bit.

Silver’s directions took them along a cliffside and towards a river of clean, green water. To their left was a dark cave, while the right was an enormous waterfall that was so steep that the bottom couldn’t be seen. He had to stop for a moment to recall it, but this was the area they had woken up in when they first fell down here.

“It’s over here?” Sophitia said, wary as she headed deeper into the cave.

Their view darkened as they proceeded, but the mystical gold of the sky outside kept everything lit enough. Her feelers brushed the sandy walls to act as a scout for anything they couldn’t see as they trod deeper in. Even as the exit shrunk into the distance behind them, the ground remained grainy and sparkly.

Lute’s focus began to melt into uncertainty as darkness shrouded him all around. The only noises were the shifting of their feet and the steady river beside them. No feral Pokémon around was all the more reason for him to suspect that some would jump them at any moment. It made him sick in his stomach, being that horrible reminder of what he was stepping into.

“It’s a slope,” Sophitia said.

Lute shook his head. He was concentrating on his thoughts so hard he wasn’t actually looking around. Now that he was, he realised how deep in they’d gone. The area was awfully dim and the floor sloped so deep it went underwater. He flinched back the moment he felt the splash of it, and his heart sped up. The ceiling descended with the floor so in order to progress, they would need to dive.

“Ah, did we pass it? I didn’t see the platform at all,” Lute searched around.

“Silver, the path goes underwater here. How far in is the teleportal?” Sophitia asked.

“The reports say it’s at the very back of the cave. The layout of our map doesn’t indicate anything underwater, though. It sounds like the terrain has changed,” Silver said. Her uncertain tone made Lute tense up.

He stared at the way forward again, then the path behind him, and then nodded. “Okay. We’ll see how far we can go.”

“Re-really? We’re diving?” Sophitia said, an awkward smile on her face. “I’m not a very good swimmer.”

“If the original path didn’t go underwater, then that means we won’t be under for very long. I can go first if you want,” he said.

“Oh no you don’t, you’re not showing me up. Besides, you need me to activate the warp,” she pointed out. They both turned to the green water, and Lute gulped. “Hey, if you’re too tense, you won’t be able to hold your breath for very long. Keep it together.”

“I-I know,” he retorted.

He took a few breaths to try and steady himself. Although he felt a little lighter, he couldn’t stop his heart from feeling heavy. Not due to fear of drowning, but because his focus began to falter. He had to do this in order to be useful, and he had to do it well.

Both Eeveelutions took deep breaths and jumped in together, eyes shut upon entry. Lute was first to open, immediately relieved to find his deduction correct. The path sloped down for a little while, and then went right back up above the surface a short way ahead.

What he didn’t account for was that this was river water. He only paddled for a few seconds before he found himself spinning totally out of balance, and moaned as loud as he could to alert Sophitia. The river pulled him away from the path and down the stream to the right, but her feelers caught and pulled him back before he was truly lost. He thanked her with a nod, and then they were on their way.

The current also meant that they would be under for longer than they anticipated. He kept telling himself he was fine as he was cradled beneath Sophitia, but by the time they reached halfway, his chest began to tighten. With his air running thin, he shuffled to look around, and then resorted to trying to help her swim faster.
Half a minute later and it began to hurt. He shut his eyes to resist the urge to breathe through his nose, and his chest felt like it was being set alight. He let out a desperate moan as best as he could, and the few bubbles he leaked caught Sophitia’s attention.

“You okay?” she said, letting go of him for a brief moment. The instant she did, he shot for the surface, leaving her to follow in surprise. She found him coughing and splashing at the surface like he was dying, and pulled him onto her back as she casually surfaced.

“Ah… hah… tha-that was close,” he said.

“Er, you okay there, Lute? We’re probably gonna have to come back this way, you know,” she said.

“H-how? You talked underwater and you were fine? Are you okay?” he gasped.

“I’m right as rain, I had plenty of air. It’s you that nearly drowned. You okay?” she replied.

He gave her a look up and down, his mouth agape. “Ye-yes. The current will help push us back, so won’t have to hold our breath as long on the way back.”

“That’s true. But hey, look. We found that teleportal. Now for the moment of truth?” she said. Lute squinted, but that only put water in his eyes. Even after shaking himself off, this room was barely lit by the glow of the platform. It looked exactly like the one in the agent base.

“Just a moment, you two. Just to remind you that we don’t know for sure what will happen when you transport. We don’t know what’s waiting on the other side of that, and we will probably lose contact with you until you activate that computer,” Silver stated. “Please, do not do anything rash.”

Lute gulped again. Anything could happen. He finally knew the fear of that. He wanted it to excite him, but it only drowned him in fear instead. He shut his eyes, breathed deeply through his nose, and then joined Sophitia on the teleportal. He took note of the platform’s wet surface, realising that the river water was high enough here cover the portal. The floor was sloped around the portal.

“We’ll be careful.” Sophitia shut off the call. She crossed her feelers, tensed up, then unfurled them and got the same result as before. The teleportal activated, and they disappeared in a flash.

The instant they landed on solid ground; the first thing Lute did was jump in front of Sophitia to stand guard. It was needless as they landed in the middle of another cave that was devoid presence. It was noticeably colder than where they just were, but it was thematically similar. Rock walls with a glittery, turquoise dust filtering off them, shiny rocks across the ceiling, and catacombs all around them.

“I’m breathing fine,” Lute said as he tested the ground beneath the teleportal. It was solid, but as cold as ice. “We’re probably going to need warm clothes or something to look around here. It’s so cold.”

He turned back to find Sophitia trembling. She was tensed up more than he had ever seen her, even though she was just staring forward. “Sophitia?”


“Huh?” Lute said, and glanced side to side. Nothing. “Is something wrong? Are you rememberi—”

“Shh, shut up!” she hushed him sharply. “Can’t you hear that?”

Lute shut his eyes and listened, more afraid of her actions now than what she was probably afraid of. It took a moment, but he began to hear footsteps. Slow, heavy steps on the stone floor that faintly echoed throughout the cave. It was getting louder at a pace that didn’t match the rhythm of the steps, either. Whoever it was, they were taking huge strides towards them.

“Holy son of a—” Sophitia became frantic.

Before Lute could say a word, she pulled him onto her back by his neck and jumped into a corner of the room, revealing there was an unforeseen cliff behind them. Lute cried out when he realised that the cliff had no bottom, but Sophitia stopped them from falling by jamming her magic sword directly into the rock. It ripped through the cliff a few metres, leaving them hanging above abyss just below the surface of the main floor.

“S-S-Sophitia, the heck are you—” he choked.

“Shh! Someone really powerful is coming. Like, I can’t even—” she said, cutting herself off when the footsteps came closer. Whoever it was, they were right there in the room now. Seeing her face and hearing her voice, Lute became just as tense as she was now and grit his fangs.

There they waited, holding their breaths as they hung above a cliff by the grip of a sword. They had to stay so still was unbearable, and the cold quickly caught up to them. Lute felt his nose run and his body shiver, but dared to do any more than cling to his Sylveon partner.

The steps implied their antagonist was patrolling the room. No breathing, no words, no noise besides the slow, heavy patters of steps echoing across the walls. Being this close, Lute couldn’t tell whether they were approaching this cliff or not. He half expected the figure to show up, a terrifying Pokémon looming above them that would attack on sight, sending them to their deaths. The thought made him puff out a breath, and he started to whimper.

“Lute,” Sophitia whispered.

It was no good. He couldn’t get that possibility out of his head. This super powerful Pokémon that had Sophitia freaking out was going to find them, he would fail in another fight, and they would both die for sure. He was hyperventilated and his grip on her tightened so much she cringed. Every breath came out as a pathetic whine at increasing volume, only furthering their chances of being detected.

Sophitia was quick, though. She adjusted her feelers to cover his mouth and grit her fangs to resist his pinch. Thankfully she didn’t have to keep this up for much longer as the steps began to fade. Before they had fully left, she hissed and pulled herself up from the cliff, having to catch her breath for a moment. Lute rolled off her behind the teleportal, but was first to hop up and peek over it.

There had been another Pokémon searching the room. But contrary to his imagination, that Pokémon was no greater than another Eevee. They were fading into the distance, but their tail and ears gave it away.

“It was just… an Eevee?” Lute whispered and wiped his eyes. He hadn’t realised he was crying, too. A grunt from Sophitia caught his attention. She was wrenching on the floor, looking like she wanted to scream. It became obvious why when she turned, revealing her bandages were turning red. “Your wound! But how?”

“Shh, they’re not gone yet,” she hissed as she pulled him out of view. She was in agony, bringing him to the bottom of the guilt barrel. He realised that the only thing that could’ve opened that wound was the way he had squeezed her just now. She sat back and cradled her bandage with two feelers until she was able to lean back and relax. “Thank goodness Gen gave me this.”

“S-Sophitia…” he shuddered.

“It’s okay, I’m fine. Just a bit of a shock, that’s all,” she replied. She peeked over the teleportal, but the Eevee was gone. “Alright. This room is big enough. Let’s get to work.”

“But your wou—”

“This was our mission, and we’ve done it. Do you remember Silver’s warnings?” she said. “I sensed that Pokémon from so far away. I’ve never felt such overwhelming power before. And they were just an Eevee? Moand Dia must have some terrifying secrets.”

“I…” was all Lute could mutter. He watched the Sylveon struggle to her feet and reveal the storage ball. He could try to help her, but he would probably mess that up, too. Guilty and pathetic was an understatement.

“Let’s turn the computer on and get outta here before he comes back,” she said, pressing the button and throwing the ball.
Last edited:
Episode 16: Crisis of the Seasons


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
12 Naivie.jpg

Episode 16: Crisis of the Seasons

Grounded. After all that had happened, Lute had managed to forget that recent events all stemmed from his sudden bolting out of school. That, followed by a night away from home into an agent mission, left Mum and his friends in absolute terror. To say that he and Sophitia got a talking to was putting it mildly.

This did let the next few days pass by contently, however. After the drama his absence caused had been talked about, everything settled back into usual routine for him. Eventful school days and banter-filled mornings replaced his worries about getting stronger, if only because he now had too much work to do than to worry about whatever King’s Shield wanted him to do for them. Either way, they didn’t call him once.

Then the weekend came…

“Yes, he’s not allowed out after that whole event. But I’m not going to turn you away Infia, you know that.” Marina welcomed the Minun into the house. “Have you been feeling alright?”

“I’m okay. It’s… nicer being back at school. Cinder and Raiju have been visiting, too,” Infia played with her paws as she spoke.

“That’s good. And should you ever need the company too, don’t hesitate to come by. I promise you, there’s always space for you here.” Marina smiled.

Infia blushed and bowed, and then made her way to Lute’s room. She found him and Sophitia deep in an argument about something, presumably homework due to the scroll of paper she spotted on the floor. Sophitia’s bandages were off and her wound had healed, although there was still a mark of darkened fur where she’d been hit.

“I’m telling you; the attack is called Last Resort. I can’t believe you’re mixing it up with Self-Destruct,” Sophitia said.

“It’s an attack seen as a last-ditch effort, that’s what the paper says,” Lute stomped on it.

“Considering what Self-Destruct does, it’s an easy last option. It’s such an obvious mix up,” Sophitia said.

“It’s what the book says, and Anbi said to go by the book. It has to be Self-Destruct,” Lute argued.

“Oh my gosh, are we reading the same book here? It also says that Eeveelutions can do it. Do we look like we can explode into a million pieces?” Sophitia raised her voice

“Well you probably could if you tried, what with the way you eat,” he said.

“Oh what, are we leading toward another fat comment? Whatever, it’s Last Resort!” She shouted.

“Um,” Infia spoke up, and they both froze.

“Infia! I-I didn’t see you come in.” Lute hopped to his feet. He went right up to her and held her paws in his. “H-hi. I wasn’t expecting you today.”

“He-hello. I just… got a bit lonely this morning, and I knew you were at home this weekend, so,” she said, looking away. They stayed there for a bit, still holding each other’s paws. “Yo-you’re still wearing the necklace I gave you.”

“Oh, yeah. I did say I’d treasure it. Been keeping it clean, too,” he snickered.

“So hey, why don’t we let Infia decide our take on it, then?” Sophitia pointed to the paper.

“Oh, the battle practice homework,” Infia muttered.

“Yeah. This dolt thinks Eevee can explode. Meanwhile, I’m trying to tell him it’s Last Resort. Only every Eeveelution can do it,” Sophitia stated.

Infia’s face was straight, but a confused kind of straight. “It is Last Resort for that question, isn’t it? The only way Eeveelutions could do Self-Destruct is through Mimic. I don’t even know if they can use it.”

“See? Nyeh.” Sophitia stuck her tongue out at him. “Who’s the battler here, remind me?”

“If we’re wrong, it’s your fault, not Infia’s,” he said and he wrote it down. He had to write it in footprint runes, pressing a paw into a tray of ink and then making a pattern of his pawprints on the paper. Once done, he rolled it up and cleaned his paw in another tray of water. “But that’s that done. I’m not doing any other homework while we have guests.”

“Of course,” Sophitia said, a smug look on her face. “Should I leave you two alone?”

“Aren’t you grounded, too?” Infia said.

“Really Sophitia? You’re still doing that?” Lute groaned.

“If you’re gonna make chub jokes, then I’m gonna make wuv jokes. That’s the deal you made,” she said, still smug.

“I didn’t make a deal over this!” he cried.

Infia couldn’t help but giggle as they started bickering again, and settled down on a cushion. That was until Marina came into the room and everyone silenced thanks to the troubled look on her face.

“Erm, Lute? Sophitia? You er… just come to the front room, please,” Marina ordered.

The trio exchanged nervous glances and followed. Esther and Phoenix were by the front door, and the Pikachu piped up and bounced over the moment they came into view.

“Esther?” Lute gasped.

“It’s true, you do live in Everend! For some reason, I really thought that’d be like, some sorta special alias to hide your identity or something. You’re way too special to live in a bumpkin town like this,” Esther said, and laughed as she held up his paws.

“Uh,” was all he could respond with.

“So, aren’t you happy to see me?” Esther asked, half-lidded. He didn’t know how to answer, and phoenix’s blank expression behind her didn’t help. “Hee hee hee, you look so confused!”

“Well yeah, you of all Pokémon showing up is sorta?” Sophitia trailed off. She brushed a feeler between them to get Esther to let go of him. “Dare I ask? Did something happen with you-know-who?”

“Uh uh. Somethin’ much cooler happened, or is about to happen. And the lil’ Minun cutie’s here, too. Perfect!” Esther cheered, and pumped her fists at Phoenix. Infia gasped and tried to hide herself from view behind Lute. “It’s like I told ya Fluffy Cheeks, it’s fate. It’s gotta be cruel fate!”

“Cruel fate?” Lute said.

“Okay, so get this. We looked around Angard for a while ‘cos there was so much to see. And we found this crater, and inside the crater was this magic stage. It’s like a silver platform kinda thing. It was nothing like anything else in that dead country,” Esther began waving her arms about.

“That sounds like a teleportal. If it is, what’s that doing there?” Lute glanced at Sophitia who had raised an eyebrow as well.

“Not gonna ask what a teleportal is yet. But on that stage, we found, da duuun!” Esther threw her arms up. Out came a tiny Pokémon barely any bigger than Lute’s nose. The tiny thing fluttered around and stopped in front of them. “Check it out! It’s our legendary guide.”

“Hey I have a name!” the Pokémon cried. Despite its absurdly small size, its voice was loud, clear, and squeaky. “It’s Naivie. Naivie the Carbink. You’re Lute, right? Lute Aska Violets?”

“Ah— that name.” Lute shifted back. Sophitia snuck a look at him. “It’s er, why do you need them?”

“Don’t play coy, I’m not dangerous. Can a little old sprite like me really harm you?” Naivie replied.

“I don’t really want to risk that one.” He turned away.

“Ah, don’t be like that!” Naivie said. Unlike ordinary Carbink, her little wing-like ears let her stay afloat so well that she could circle him with ease. “Like the pretty Pika says, you and your strongest allies have got a fate to fulfil. Won’t you hear me out?”

“I don’t really have a choice, do I?” Lute groaned.

“No. You really don’t,” she said.

Lute didn’t make a sound.

“In my time, the Pokémon of the world paid their respects and took care of these giant flowers in Aseria’s most important corners. In exchange, the flowers granted Pokémon their powers, and allowed nature to cycle through its seasons. But thanks to a horrible war, those flowers withered, and the seeds they gave us were seen as our final test,” Naivie explained. She steadily floated around everyone as she told her story, and Lute and Sophitia exchanged angst filled looks.

“A horrible war? Could Angard have something to do with that?” Esther wondered.

“Definitely, that’s why you found me there? But let me finish, because all hope isn’t lost. If Pokémon can plant those seeds in the correct places and give them the respect they deserve, we can grow the flowers again. The weather can return to normal,” Naivie continued. “The Pokémon that can do this are you guys! I know it for sure. I am your guide and messenger from the past who is to ensure that you succeed.”

“It’s vague, but that sounds an awful lot like,” Lute said.

“Florrie and Floette?” Naivie fluttered up to him.

“You’re one of them. The guardian fairies. So they were telling the truth after all,” Lute said, suddenly looking away. “Are you sure you’re looking for me and not Sophitia?”

“I was looking for all of you, but you’re the central child in all of this. And because you’re a kid, I’m taking care of the great flower seeds and stuff, okay? You’ll just have to trust me when I say that I’ve got them all. I can show you exactly where to put them, too,” Naivie said. “So go on! Pack your things and get ready for a journey. The lot of us, we’re gonna save the world!”

“Yes, I knew we hit the jackpot. This is perfect!” Esther cheered.

“Hold on,” Lute said. All eyes on him made him hesitate, and he shifted backward.

“Wait a minute, you’re not going to,” Sophitia said. He gulped and looked away, and she got angry. “Are you serious, Lute? Not this again.”

“Yes this again. I can’t possibly be the Pokémon for this,” he objected.

“You’re an Agent of King’s Shield. You’ve fought against High Points and—” Sophitia argued.

“I’m just a scared little Eevee that got lucky with a few dreams! I was useless during those fights and I’ll be useless here, too,” he stated.

“You didn’t just, ‘get lucky’. Look, we had that run in with Florrie and Floette for a reason, ya’know? Then that stuff around Moand Dia, and now this. You keep saying that I’m the special Pokémon, but you are too, you know? It’s us together,” Sophitia said. She stepped around to face him, but he struggled to look up at her. “You just need to have confidence in yourself. And try with what you know you can do.”

“Eep. I had no idea being an agent was this stressful,” Esther comment.

“It’s really not,” Phoenix said quietly.

“Oh shush! You dunno what real stress is, Fluffy Cheeks,” she folded her arms

“I’m not very strong or useful, either. You don’t really want me to go too, do you?” Infia asked.

“Ugh, what is this? I didn’t sleep thousands of years to wake up one day and counsel a bunch of depressed teens. What gives? I thought kids these days would be like, super excited to save the world,” Naivie cried.

“Well sorry I’m not who you want me to be?” Lute raised his voice. “Seriously, I don’t have anything special about me. I wanted to be a hero, but these past few weeks have shown me I’m not cut out for it. I get scared easily, I’m too weak to fight other Pokémon, and I’m actually pretty stupid in front of bad guys, too. I’m not the hero you’re looking for.”

“Consider this, little Eevee. If you guys don’t do this, Aseria is done for. Give it a few years tops, the weather stopping will make everyone freeze to death,” Naivie warned. “And I know you don’t need much convincing on this, ‘cos you can’t have not seen it. The way all that fog’s been lingering around a lot of places. The sun never comes out. It’s never windy, it never rains, everything’s just a stagnant cold.”

Lute turned to Naivie with fury. “The sea will dry up. Pokémon that need water will fight for it. Conflicts will start. Pokémon that live in water will fight for it. This dreary tone will drag down the hearts of even the most resilient. And all because you’re afraid of screwing up something you won’t even try at!” Naivie shouted.

“Can’t I get a word in? I’m his mother, after all,” Marina said, turning everyone’s attention to her. Lute flinched. He had forgotten that she was there the whole time. “I don’t think beating him up is the way to encourage him, if you really are hoping to guide him.”

“I don’t actually care how these lot feel about it all, I’ll be honest with you. All that’s important to me is that these seeds get planted and tended to, that way we still have a planet in a few years,” Naivie said. The Vaporeon ignored her spoke to Lute directly.

“You’ve been through a lot, haven’t you? If this is how you’ve been feeling about everything, I wish you’d have talked to me about it at some point. I haven’t been tough to approach, have I?” Marina asked. Lute looked away. “I think you should go.”

“Wha? Wouldn’t you be—” he said. “You’ve been against me being an agent the whole time. Why would you be okay with me going on a journey?”

“If I was really against you being an agent, I would’ve done far more to stop you from doing so. But it’s not my place to stop you from doing what you want or need to do, only to point you in the right direction. It’s my job to worry nonstop about you, but if this is something you have to do, then it’s something you have to do,” Marina explained. She gave his head fur a ruffle. “What you’re doing will be hard, but you have friends to fall back on and a home to come back to, where you can rest any time, you know? So maybe you’re not going to succeed right away. But watching you, I know this is something you want to do.”

“It is what I want to do,” Lute hung his head. The others smiled behind Marina. “That’s why it hurts so much to not be good enough. What’s the point in trying if I already know I’m never going to be good enough?”

“Please keep trying. You won’t see it right away, but you’re getting stronger, and you’re growing up. Admittedly too fast for me,” Marina came closer. She embraced him, surprising him from how warm she was. “To see you get recruited into the thing you always said you wanted to be a part of, only to beat yourself up like this, that really saddens me, Lute. Don’t give up on your dreams like that. Not when you work so hard to achieve them.”

“Mum… but what about school?” Lute said.

“Oh Lute, you’re such a good boy,” she giggled. “I’ll cover for you, of course. You just have to promise me that you’ll catch up when all of this is over. And for my sake, please keep in touch with me to let me know how things are going. They say no news is good news, but you saw what happened when you were gone that evening.”

“I already promised you something like won’t happen again. I meant it. I’ll write letters,” he said.

“No need. I added myself to the contacts of that badge of yours,” Marina said. He was sceptical enough to check his agent badge, and just like that, Marina’s name and face were amongst the Pokémon he could call. Sophitia scrambled to check her badge and found the same thing.

“How? When?” Sophitia squealed.

“A mother has her ways. If you ever need me, please don’t hesitate to call me. And if things get rough, come back to rest. This is your home, no matter what,” Marina said. She walked around to address everyone. “… But if you’re all going to stay a night or something, make an effort to tell me in advance please? I’m not used to having so many guests and as you can see, the house isn’t the most spacious.”

“Ehehe, sorry for the intrusion! I just couldn’t wait. I’m seriously so stoked for this journey, it’s gonna be so much fun,” Esther said.

“If we’re going to be gone a long while, I should go home and pack my things. A-and change my clothes, too,” Infia said.

“Wait, Infia? You’re coming too?” Lute gasped. “Are you sure you want to? You don’t have to if you don’t want—”

“Yes she does have to go. Be as sappy as you want, but it’s law that all of you have to go. You’re all required,” Naivie stated.

“You never told us why that is. You are going to tell us, aren’t you?” Phoenix asked.

Naivie flinched, and then started mumbling. “That’s cheating. I’m not allowed to tell you that, either.”

“Of course you aren’t.” the Fennekin rolled his eyes.

“But I want to go, anyway. I-I want to make it up to you… for saving me… back then,” Infia played with her skirt.

“You don’t have to do that. Honestly, you being here and happy is all I need,” Lute assured.

She shook her head. “I want to find a way to be useful, too. Plus, if you’re going away for a while… I-I know I have Cinder and Raiju, but it’s not the same without you.”

“Only if that’s really how you feel. Don’t ever feel you have to push yourself for my sake,” Lute nodded.

“I had no idea he had this many hots for the Minun,” Esther mumbled as she leaned towards Sophitia, who hushed and slapped her with a feeler.

“Well what’s wrong with the way you look now? Seems fine to me,” Naivie said.

“This old thing? It’ll never last if we have to go camping and stuff,” Infia brushed her skirt.

“Then just take it off and let’s go! Your fur not do the trick or something?” Naivie cried.

Infia answered with a groan while the others rolled their eyes. Marina giggled though. “Naivie, keep acting that bossy and you’re not going to last long.”

The group disbanded to get themselves prepared for the journey. For Lute and Sophitia, this meant getting a bag with necessities and camping equipment. For Infia, she did as she said she would do and changed clothes, only she had to be braver and pick something suitable rather than pretty. She turned up the following morning with a costume similar to Esther’s pop star clothes, a wholly pink costume of a shirt and tutu.

They all agreed to meet at Everend’s gondola station. Only when they were departing did Lute start to feel that this whole thing was surreal. He had many questions for Naivie and Esther, but he didn’t expect to get answers from any of them. Either way, instinct and excitement told him he didn’t need to even ask. He was so excited at the prospect of a legendary journey to save the world, that he didn’t want to question it and reveal the whole thing as an elaborate lie. No one else questioned Naivie’s legitimacy, so perhaps they felt the same way.

“Okay, we’re all set. Let’s go!” Lute said as he patted a bag hung at his side. Sophitia had the same, only bigger.

“Where’s our first destination, anyway? You can tell us that, right?” Sophitia asked.

“I can, but there also might be some inaccuracy. After all, I’ve been asleep for thousands of years, so I wouldn’t be surprised if places I know have changed,” Naivie replied.

“I’m too tired for this. Why’d we have to wake up so early if we had to think about stuff?” Esther yawned. She was sat on Phoenix’s back, but he didn’t look too bothered by her at all.

“I thought you would be good at early mornings,” Infia said.

“I thought I’d be done with them,” she grumbled and sunk into the Fennekin’s head.

“It’s an area to the east of this location. Back then, it was known as Castle Radial,” Naivie stated.

“The Radial Castle? Really?” Lute said.

“So it’s still around. Good. We can stop wasting time and march,” Naivie said.

“Yeah, you do that.” Esther gurgled into a snore. The others giggled.

It didn’t feel like it took too long to reach the castle, but only because Lute had already been there before. Just like last time though, the trip was as unsettling for him. Stale, white fog drowned them the closer they got, while distant, tropical trees created a maze as they walked. When the area got too foggy, Infia took to riding on Lute’s back while Sophitia’s feelers kept everyone close, and the group fell to silence.

“It’s worse than last time,” Lute commented. Their progress slowed as the fog thickened. “It’s getting pretty cold, too.”

“It’s getting? It was already cold, thank you very much. Are you guys that used to not having weather?” Naivie said with a groan. “Just follow little old me, and you’ll be fine.”

“Okay, so how does that work? The weather’s dead, so it gets really cold and foggy. Doesn’t that just mean it’s winter all the time?” Sophitia wondered.

“Hey, weren’t you at school? Surely you know how to science works, right?” Naivie commented.

“Bold of you to assume Sophitia understands science,” Lute said. He was rewarded with a pinch.

“The weather and seasons do not function. As a result, there’s no wind. And with no wind means that the air doesn’t move. Sure, hot air rises, but with no sunlight to heat it up, the air won’t go anywhere. It just sits here until it gets cold enough to turn into dank fog,” Naivie explained. “And it’ll keep doing that. Populated areas will see a slower transformation than others, so just use this place as an example. The whole of Aseria could look like this if we don’t succeed.”

“It almost doesn’t seem that threatening,” Lute admitted.

“What do you mean ‘not that threatening’?” Naivie screeched. “Could you live in a place like this? Here and now, shrouded by fog. Nothing grows, it never heats up, and any water will one day just evaporate. How can you not see this as a worldwide crisis?”

“I dunno. A worldwide crisis to me looks more like, volcanoes erupting, or earthquakes and tsunamis and stuff, you know? Stuff that makes Pokémon in immediate danger,” he replied. “I’m not denying this is pretty serious, though.”

“Hmpf. Get your head outta the clouds. This is what a worldwide crisis looks like. We’re here,” Naivie said.

Lute and Infia made sounds as they stopped before the castle’s entrance. From the looks of things, it was untouched from their last visit, right down to the blast marks and stains of sludge where the Risen had been fought. Infia got off his back to look around a bit.

“I didn’t see anything odd the first time I was here. Where could we plant a seed in the castle?” Lute asked. Naivie didn’t answer and continued on inside the castle. “Oh, is there some kind of puzzle we have to solve to get to a secret area?”

“Ahahaha! You think the ancients are dumb enough to leave a puzzle? Once Pokémon start figuring it out, everyone knows it and our precious temples are done for,” Naivie puffed out her metaphorical chest. “The temple is underneath the castle, and it’s where the water from the river gathers before it goes to the sea.”

Lute glanced back the way they came. “Everend River stops here? So shouldn’t we have gone here from the river cave?”

“What, walk all the way here underwater? You really aren’t very bright, are you?” Naivie said.

“I think you are just not very nice,” Phoenix said.

“Somebody had to say it,” Sophitia shrugged.

“Gah, whatever. Get out the castle, I’ll do it,” Naivie said.

She waited until everyone was behind her before starting, and let out a bright, fiery blue glow. A shimmering sound came from her as well, and when that glow grew enough to blind everyone, the castle reacted.

“What’s happening?” Infia asked, entranced as waves of blue light seeped in between the stone of the castle walls. A similar sound began to emanate from the castle, followed by a rumble of the world around them. Naivie soon let out a cry, and the rumbling grew stronger.

“Fuck I’m awake! What’s happenin’ who-what-where-when-how?” Esther jolted awake.

“About time you got up. Naivie what’s happening?” Sophitia shouted. The tiny Carbink didn’t reply, only glowed brighter, so bright that the fog around them dissipated. Everyone had to shield their eyes. The last thing they saw being Naivie and the castle’s mystical blue.

Lute tightly cradled whoever was closest to him and grit his fangs as he used their weight to plant himself on the floor. It felt like they had gripped him so tightly they might pull out his fur, too. The quake carried on for minutes, so he dared to open an eye and see what was going on. To his surprise, the lights had stopped and he had a full view of the scene.

“Guys!” he cried, making them all look up as well.

Stone and rock were fell like rain, although it was only in front of them. He stumbled back in fright as the floor split from him as well, and the floor of the castle floated upwards. It pulled part of the ground with it, forcing them all to run backwards or else fall into the crater being formed.

“It’s… it’s flying?” Sophitia gasped.

Lute couldn’t think straight and grasp until she said it. The Radial Castle was said to be able to fly, and here it was, taking off into the sky right before his very eyes. The magical light lining the gaps in its stone walls bled below it in a giant stream of propulsion, providing more than enough light to be fully visible even as it ascended into the foggy sky.

With the castle fully ejected, the ground was still once again. In the castle’s place was a gigantic crater that was eerily smooth in its carving. The base of the crater was perfectly flat and actually tiled, with only one thing stationed directly in the middle: a teleportal.

“Hey look. Fluffy Cheeks, it looks exactly like the crater in Angard,” Esther said as she dismounted the Fennekin. “Let’s go check it out!”

Sophitia stuck out a paw as the Pikachu charged off to grind down the side of the crater. “Trust her to be full of energy the moment she wakes up. What if the castle comes back and crushes us?”

“Don’t worry about that. It’ll be back in a year or something. It circles the planet once and then lands right back here to seal the temple from view. You dolts have plenty of time to screw things up,” Naivie informed.

“Naivie,” Lute said.

“That’s really specific programming,” Infia commented.

“Hey guys, c’mon! Don’t be lemons,” Esther called. Phoenix was first to hop down after her.

“Any idea where that teleportal will take us?” Lute tilted his head at Sophitia. She shook her head, still jaw-dropped. “Dare I ask if you remember anything at all?”

“I don’t think I’d want my memories to be this weird,” she admitted. With that, the trio jumped down and joined Esther on the teleportal.

“Holy fucking shit, I can’t believe this. This is so cool! We could only pretend to make something this elaborate on one of my shows. But it’s like, actually happening! I could pee myself this is so exciting!” Esther squealed into the air.

“Okay okay, please just, don’t actually do that?” Naivie bumped her on the head.

“We should actually keep our guard up as well. Not that I don’t trust Naivie or anything, but I have no idea what to expect from here on,” Sophitia suggested.

“I’m actually p-pretty scared,” Infia said.

“It’ll be alright. Somehow. We’ll play it safe not matter what happens,” Lute said, and held one of her paws. She nodded and squeezed back.

“Naivie are you gonna do something cool with this, too?” Esther asked. Sophitia rolled her eyes as she initiated the warp.

When they arrived, Esther was squealing again, but silenced when she realised what had just happened. Lute did his usual of scouting their new surroundings, but he was joined by a fierce Phoenix this time. They landed in a cave and immediately noticed the shiny rocks high up near the cave’s ceiling.

“Wait a minute. This cold,” Lute said, seeing his breath come out in smoky puffs. The cave was frigid, the rocks were glistening and glittery, and everything had a turquoise tint to it. “We’ve been here. This is Moand Dia. The level we went to the other day.”

“Not quite. But close enough. Good on you knowing what Moand Dia is, though. I don’t have to explain that part,” Naivie praised.

“It is. It’s the same section,” Sophitia said, her voice shaky and low. Lute and Infia glanced at her strained look. “Just like last time, as soon as we got here… he’s here. That really powerful Eevee.”
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Episode 17: Battle in the Southern Temple


Hero in their dreams
They/them, She/her,
13 Shaymin.jpg

Episode 17: Battle in the Southern Temple

“So it is not just me.” Phoenix gritted his fangs. “I can feel a powerful presence nearby. There is someone or something here that wants us to know we should not be here.”

“It’s that powerful Eevee we saw the other day. I’m sure of it.” Sophitia scrunched up her face.

“Powerful Eevee?” Esther said.

“Now’s not the time to explain. We can’t afford for him to find us. Naivie, what do we need to do here? Quickly!” Sophitia said.

“There really shouldn’t be anyone here, you know. So I dunno what’s up with your hokey ‘senses’ and stuff but—” Naivie said.

“Naivie, this is not a joke. What do we need to do?” Sophitia raised her voice.

“Alright alright. You of all Pokémon should know not to rush a lady,” Naivie said. At the far end of the cave, within sight of the teleportal, was another crater. This one was surrounded by patterns and marks on the floor, and its centre was a large mound of soil. “Here. I’ll plant a Gracidea Seed in the centre. Then the rest of you must pray to it. If your prayers and respect is genuine, then the seed will grow into a flower Pokémon. It takes about a minute.”

“That’s really it? I feel like there’s more to it than that. It’s got to be more complex,” Lute said.

“Prayer?” Esther said. She walked around the whole setup with a finger on her mouth. “Well I’m not really the praying type, but—”

“Oh good Arceus, must I do everything? Each of you needs to stand in those outside circles. Shut your eyes, kneel, and I’ll do the rest!” Naivie squeaked.

“It just sounds too easy,” Lute said as he found the circles she was talking about. They each found a space, but Lute realised that there was one empty circle in their formation, even though all of them were present. Naivie floated over the centre of the crater, so the missing space didn’t belong to her. “Wait, is this right? Why is there an empty space?”

“Never mind that, just kneel!” Naivie cried.

“If this doesn’t work, we know who to blame.” He shook his head. He took a deep breath, cleared his thoughts, and then closed his eyes as he bowed his head.

“I-I can’t. He’s here,” Sophitia said. Her and Phoenix jumped out of their places and rushed to the middle of the room. “He’s already here!”

“Sophitia,” Lute said.

Almost as if he’d been snuck up on, the footsteps of that powerful figure were close by. The familiar, unsettling, echo of heavy footsteps that had terrified him so much before. This time, the Pokémon confronted him. Whether he got over his fear or not, they were to challenge this powerful Pokémon head on. The thought had Lute’s breath grow tense, and then frantic when the shadow of the Pokémon rotated through the room.

There he was. An Eevee that was normal in appearance in every way except his face. He had jagged, messy head fur, but his eyes were empty. White sockets with the tiniest brown veins to imply that eyeballs were there, but lacked all detail. He didn’t particularly look that powerful, but his robotic walk and rigid gaze instilled the idea that he wasn’t to be messed with. The instant the Eevee came into sight, his speed increased and his body glowed with energy.

“Wait, there shouldn’t be anyone- hey you, get out of—” Naivie tried to say, but got brushed aside as if she wasn’t there. The Eevee broke into a Quick Attack and crashed into Sophitia’s magic shield so hard that even though she blocked, she was sent miles backward.

“Sophitia! Guys, battle’s on!” Lute stretched his feet out. Esther drew her baton while Infia squealed and ran away to hide herself from the conflict.

There was only a brief moment where the Eevee gazed at them all before the fight broke loose. He jumped up high and spun his body to send a rain of stars down at everyone and force them to guard. Lute turned to his side and braced, but just a few hits of this Swift attack felt like he was being stabbed continuously by a knife. He screamed at the top of his voice and tripped in an effort to stay on his feet.

“Lute!” Sophitia cried. “Leave him out of this!”

With her shield held at her front, she crashed into the enemy Eevee as he landed from his attack, and attempted to slash him with her sword right afterwards. He bounced back from the first hit, and then avoided each subsequent slash with ducks and slides, all before jumping back a great distance. Phoenix’s Flamethrower landed where he just was, which prevented Sophitia from giving chase.

Phoenix took him on next. He stamped his feet to surround himself in fire for a Flame Charge attack and bolted toward the Eevee at lightning speed. The Eevee grit his teeth and pulled back his right paw. With that paw glowing white with energy, it punched with perfect timing and struck Phoenix so hard that his attack stopped completely. The moment of shock was used to turn around and kick the Fennekin away with both hind legs, which sent him rolling across the floor in a wake of smoke.

“Phoenix! Oh you and I are startin’ off on the wrong tone,” Esther shouted and whipped the ribbon of her baton.

Her cheeks crackled with electricity as she did so, which sent a voltage along her baton all the way to the tip of the ribbon. With her weapon charged, she cracked it like a whip, and each snap caused an orb of electricity to fly off into the air. It looked like it surprised the Eevee, but he still dodged each shot with a dash to the left and right faster than her eyes could follow.

“So fast—” Esther gasped as she stopped her attack. She resorted to Electro Ball, and held the attack on her tail until the Eevee popped up right in front of her. Lute couldn’t see what happened, but the attack shrouded them both in smoke.

“Esther!” Lute cried. He gasped when the Eevee leapt out of the smoke in his direction. “No, I’m not going to be scared this time. I’m going to fight you if it’s a fight you want!”

The enemy Eevee kept running, and began to glow white for Quick Attack. Lute shook and braced for his own Quick Attack and focused on them as much as he could. His body still hurt and burnt from the Swift earlier, but he knew he could put it aside for now.

His heart raced. He kicked himself into a sprint, and a second later, bashed past the Eevee. A strong wind struck him as they passed, as if their attacks had just about missed one another. He skidded across the floor and spun around to challenge the Eevee again. He still used Quick Attack, but once again, the enemy just about evaded him, striking him with only the wind and force of them passing each other.

“Got to actually hit him,” Lute growled, expecting the same move a third time. The Eevee evaded him at the last moment again, but this time, Lute spun right around at full speed to give chase with the Eevee. He caught it off-guard and bashed directly into the enemy’s side.

“He hit!” Sophitia said, surprised to see Lute’s attack take full effect. The enemy Eevee skidded across the ground, but it caught its balance and ground to a stop before it hit the wall. It jumped up into the air to use Swift again.

“Lute, get behind me,” Sophitia said as she jumped over to him. He obeyed, and the attack was blocked by her shield, but not without shrouding them in smoke.

Lute didn’t care about that smoke, though. He knew the enemy would fall to the ground and be vulnerable to a hit. He took in a breath and dashed off with Quick Attack again.

He was right on the money. The enemy Eevee kicked its feet in the air as it fell, but the moment it landed, it shot into its own Quick Attack, a mere instant before Lute could impact it. It felt like it used the attack to try and escape Lute, as although he felt himself tackle something, he ended up behind the Eevee.

“Not this again,” he muttered as he gave chase.

They carried on like this, bashing into each other hard enough to bounce back from each hit, all until Lute found himself facing the Eevee head on perfectly. He roared and tackled it as hard as he could, but got locked in a battle of strength. Their paws were clenched in each other’s, and both tried to push the other over with gritted fangs and tensed muscles.

Just then, a strange feeling overcame Lute. In that moment, time seemed to freeze for him, and all his surroundings vanished into white. It was just him and this Eevee pushing against each other, yet to him, he felt silly. Mystified. Confused. It was like he was simulating a fight against himself in a mirror.

He couldn’t help but shudder and gawk like a confused idiot. This Eevee looked exactly like him, from the furs on his head to the size of his paws. The longer this moment went on, the more Lute felt like he was in front of that mirror, and the more unsettled he became. Before long, the Eevee hissed, threw him aside, and then twisted his body to kick him with both hind legs.

Lute almost threw up from the impact to his stomach, left winded in a heap. He managed to stand, but the moment he did, he coughed and choked on something. His body trembled in pain as his eyesight had started to blur.

“Lute, get it together. You can’t just rush at him,” Sophitia said. Her, Phoenix and Esther jumped back into the battle, though even with the three of them attacking one after the other, it was clear that they were outmatched.

It gave Lute a chance to try and steady himself. He couldn’t concentrate on them at all, as his view of them continued to blur the more he tried to focus. Everything took on a yellow hue, all the while his energy drained from him as he struggled to breathe and stay upright. He staggered about while something in front of him was glowed at an annoying brightness.

“The necklace?” he managed to say, his voice gritty and toneless.

He grabbed it tightly, which activated some hidden function he wasn’t expecting. The yellow light glowed even brighter with his touch and surrounded him in streams of flicking bolts. The lights circled him once before flying right into him, and that burning sensation flew into overdrive.

Whatever was happening, he wasn’t in control of it. He felt like fire brewed in his body and forced itself up from his stomach. The way he was felt, he wouldn’t be surprised if he vomited flames. However, he did channel something as he coughed and motioned throwing up. He opened wide, and a huge, sputtering sphere of electricity formed in front of him. The orb grew to the size of his head to once again blind his view. He flinched hard as he coughed again to fire the orb away.

The others gasped when the attack to intruded their battle, but it hit the enemy Eevee directly, earning a cry of pain and surprise. The Eevee was surrounded by a dome of yellow bolts for a moment before the attack exploded. Waves of static burst through the air.

“That came from- Lute!” Infia cried, drawing everyone’s eyes to his stumbling figure.

Sophitia and Phoenix quickly turned back to the enemy Eevee in expectation of a surprise attack while they were distracted. However, that Eevee was as off-balance as Lute, and surrounded all over by crackling bolts.

“It’s paralysed,” Sophitia muttered in disbelief. The Eevee snarled at them like a feral Houndour, but every step he took was met with spasms and strains that made his legs bend at angles uncomfortable to look at. It looked pathetic.

For Lute however, pain surged through his body. His legs shook with his last ounces of strength, which he desperately wanted to use to try and say something. All he could muster were hoarse breaths and strained stretches. He eventually shut his eyes and collapsed, too heavy, sleepy, and distant from everything to stay awake. The sound of his name distorted eerily, but even that was soon all but lost to him. He didn’t give up, but his body was at its limit.

When Lute came to, it was the strangest sensation he had ever felt. His body felt groggy and weak, but each of his senses came back one by one. It started with the feeling of being wrapped up in the softness of his bed, then he caught on to the voices of his friends, Sophitia and Esther in an argument. Then he coughed from a dry throat.

“Lute?” Sophitia said worriedly.

He forced his eyes open with a want to subdue that worry, but that was a big mistake. He was so weak that he could barely keep his eyes open, so that hurt a ton. A strange new feeling began to intrude that, a soothing pulse that seemed to give him the strength to open his eyes after all.

“Infia?” he said. She was leaned over him with both paws on his chest, where a pretty light came from the tips of those paws. Whatever she was doing, his energy flowed back in waves. At least until he realised how close she was to him, and flinched. “Wa-wait, wah!”

“Lute?” she gasped and backed off. She hit her head on the wall behind her and whimpered.

“Ah wait, sorry, I didn’t—” He sat up. Everyone stared at him, Marina included. He recognised his room and his bed below him. “What am I doing back here? What happened?”

“You passed out from the fight back there. You slept until morning too, even with Infia healing you,” Sophitia said. His mouth hit the floor.

“Infia’s healing? I didn’t- why am I even—” he whispered.

“Because you fainted like the weakling you are!” Naivie cried and hit him on the nose. “If I’d known you were so weak and pathetic, I’d have begged for fate to choose another Pokémon. You didn’t even get hit, you just like, died back there.”

It took him a moment to realise what she was talking about, and then it all came back to him. Specifically, the way he felt when he clashed with the Eevee. “Wait, you’re telling me I… I lost again?”

He looked up from his paws at all their worried faces, and none of them replied. “I… I can’t believe I- argh, this is so…”

“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” Sophitia shook her head. “I don’t know what you did, but that attack you pulled off paralysed him. I actually don’t know how we would’ve escaped without that.”

“Don’t patronise him, either! We could easily have gotten away if he didn’t faint,” Naivie spat. “Listen here, Eevee. I was being nice earlier, but you’re pathetic. P-A-THE-TIC. Because of you knocking out from nothing, we don’t even have a flower seed planted. And we were right there!”

“Well it’s not his fault an overpowered monster came and fought us, is it? I don’t blame him, I was at my wits end on how to hit that guy,” Esther said, paws on her hips.

“Guys please do not start arguing again.” Sophitia pushed them both apart with her feelers.

“No no, you don’t have to argue. Naivie’s right. I fainted when I really shouldn’t have, and we failed because of that. I am honestly sorry, but there’s actually a few things that I’m more concerned about,” Lute said as he stood up. “When I battled that Eevee, I got to see his face. He looks exactly like me.”

“Oh my gods. Are you like, extra dumb as well?” Naivie said while the others gawked. “Of course he looks exactly like you. You’re both Eevee? Are we seriously going to ask this?”

“No no no, I know that. But when I say the same, I mean he looks hair for hair exactly the same as me. I felt like I was looking in a mirror. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lute cried.

“He looked exactly like you? That accurately? Are you certain?” Marina stepped forward as well.

“Yes, I’m sure! And when I think about it as well, he used the same moves as me. Quick Attack and Swift. Only those two. Mum, do you know anything about that?”

The Vaporeon gasped and stepped back. For a moment, it looked like she was going to cry, but she blinked away those tears. “No, I just… listen, that’s something you aren’t going to be able to answer by just thinking about it. You should think about what you’re going to do about that enemy. It sounds like they’re going to guard the temple from you.”

“She’s got a point. We’re going to need to get past that Eevee somehow,” Sophitia agreed.

“There was another reason I came in here, actually. You guys got another letter from the agents while you were out. You’ve got tickets and directions to their base and all,” Marina added.

“They sent us directions? We already know how to get there,” Sophitia cocked her head.

“Ooh, I get to go to a King’s Shield base. I guess it’s for the newbies like me?” Esther said.

“You’re not counted as an agent,” Phoenix commented.

“Actually, it’s because it’s a different base. I don’t think you’ll see Silver and that lot. It’s in Pokétopia, Aseria’s capital.” Marina handed Sophitia the note.

Esther’s excitement faded, and she shrunk. “Pokétopia?”

“Lute, are you feeling alright? If you’re okay, you should get going. You know what they’re like with keeping them waiting,” Marina said.

“I’m feeling okay. Now that you mention it, I feel better than okay. You said Infia could heal or something,” he said, and checked himself out. His body didn’t even have marks where he’d been hit.

“Oh I’ve already drilled her for that one.” Naivie glared at the shy Minun. “Turns out this little girl has a healing touch! And until now, she decided not to use it at all.”

“Can you really heal wounds?” Lute turned to Infia.

The Minun played with her skirt, squirmed, and made every effort not to look at him or Naivie. “I-I’m not very good at it. And it makes me really tired as well. I-I’m not sure how helpful it’ll be—”

“Utter rubbish! You had the whole group good as new in no time. And don’t think I didn’t see you using Helping Hand, either. Casually turning Lute from a weakling into a powerhouse – if I hadn’t been paying attention, I’d say that you were letting everybody lose,” Naivie cried.

“Helping Hand?” Lute said as he recalled the battle. “I don’t remember getting any power boost, but then again, my attacks actually damaged the enemy Eevee. Any of our tougher opponents I haven’t been able to touch.”

“I don’t like siding with Naivie’s tone here, but honestly, you’re pretty incredible, Infia.” Sophitia scratched her face. The Minun settled into a blush. “I dunno exactly what magic you’re using that let you fix all our damage, but it works perfectly. It’s like I was never in a battle to begin with.”

Lute hopped off the bed as she spoke, but kept quiet and straight faced. He didn’t know whether to be bothered or interested in these new revelations. It shouldn’t have been surprising that the legend would be riddled with mystery, especially since he decided it would be more exciting to not ask questions. But to find that he and his friends were revealing new powers, implied they each had a direct connection to the legend. He felt uncomfortable with that.

The electric attack he launched and the discomfort that brought. Infia’s apparent new healing abilities, as well as her Helping Hand possibly giving a greater boost than it should’ve. And the Eevee that looked exactly like him, minus the empty eyes.

Something told him this wouldn’t be the end to all the new feelings he’d experience and the discomfort that came with them. And worse still, a foreboding told him he wasn’t going to like the truth behind it all.
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