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Pokémon Sweet Sacrifice


  1. sableye
SS Banner Large by HelloYellow17.png

Summary: In the pokémon world, it isn't uncommon for new trainers to go missing. But recently, the number of disappearances has been rising, including many notably skilled trainers. Meanwhile, two young adults begin their journey and unknowingly become entwined in a bizarre plot that threatens to overwhelm them. Thankfully, they don't have to combat this unknown threat alone...

Essentially this is an OC/fan-made region trainer/journey-fic that will eventually shift into other plots. In addition, I tend to make small references to other fics I like, so expect to find the occasional nod thrown into a chapter or two. That said, I've taken heavy inspiration from Pedestal (as in, I've set my setting in that universe/timeline) so be aware that there may be major spoilers for it as early as chapter 1, if you care about that.

Warnings: Mild-moderate blood (both during and outside of battles), naked humans, random cursing, character torture later on, minor character death, spoilers for other fics (will be marked at the chapter's open when applicable). I think that's all but I can add more if someone finds something necessary.

Review Preferences: I am... hesitant about sharing my writing, so please note... I'm not actively looking for reviews/critique. I'm certainly not going to turn it away, but know that I'm writing this for myself, for fun. That said, I'm not actively discouraging it, either, so feel free to let me know what you like/dislike, have questions on, think you see a plot hole, catch a typo, or just don't feel something is flowing properly.

Updates: Ch. 22 uploaded on 8/15/2023. Ch. 23 imminent.

Finally, some bugfixes and known glitches that eventually I will need to take a look at, either for clarity or just spicing up. (This list is essentially a list of things reviewers have pointed out to me that didn't work for them for one reason or another, and I am putting them here for my own reference so it's easier to clean up whenever I get around to that. Spoilered, because, well, they contain spoilers. Do not click if you haven't read; Don't be afraid to point out something that someone else already has, that just means it's a bigger issue for more people.)

-Started a "patch notes" section because for some reason I wasn't keeping track before.
-Re-organized the "Known Glitches" section to sort problems by chapter for easier future editing.
-Went through reviews and collected Glitches I hadn't added yet.
-Fixed a ton of typos and grammatical errors, and other minor scattered instances of re-wording sentences so they flow better.
-Updated ch. 21 heracross attack because whump.

-Found like three different old documents containing various edits and clarifications to make. Compiled them all together and added to the lists below.
-Among those were various typos, all noted in chapter 8. Fixed those.

General/Multi-Chapter/Long Term:
1. Town descriptions are lacking. (How necessary is this?)
2. Find somewhere to introduce Costas earlier. Just do it.
3. Scattered mentions of MC motivations for travel. (Kimiko mentions hers the first time in chapter 8; follow up from there. Add Alex's indecision probably starting after loss to Cyrus in chapter 9. Maybe also throw in some more rigorous training sessions after setbacks to show overcompensation, both here and in the future.)
4. Add band practice scene somehow (perhaps flashback? repeat throughout story?) because it comes up more than once.
5. Narration can't decide whether Diamond is an obedient 'mon or a rebellious one. Make this clearer in his scenes. Also possibly make him feel more relevant; his significance feels insufficient for his buildup/intro.

Chapter 1:
1. Prologue segment: Apparently people are mistaking the training chikorita for Alex's starter chikorita. Need to clarify this; thought the 5-year timeskip and selling the excess starters to a breeder thing would deal with this, but apparently not.
2. Spice up the lab scene (Alex/Thorn's bonding more significant in light of getting no prior screentime, due to prologue chikorita being a different one?)
3. Less exposition dumping in general.

Chapter 3:
1. Post ghost battle, Kimiko's response/exposition is too "showing and not telling territory." Have her better physically react to Alex trying to comfort her rather than exposition-dump her feelings.

Chapter 4:
1. Kimiko should better react to her forest encounter. Putting on a facade is fine and in-character, but maybe make her a bit more nervous around her own ghost for a bit, to show the cracks/evidence that the event did actually leave her shaken.
2. Add a day or two of healing/recovery before Alex goes to the gym (to allow Thorn's injury to heal).

Chapter 5:
1. Remove mention of Kimiko not training (after already fixing that in Ch 4...)
2. Kimiko is too unbothered by the weird interaction with Phobos/Deimos, considering both her hesitation to go into the forest to begin with plus their experience once there.

Chapter 7:
1. E4 descriptions too cluttered in their introduction due to being lumped all at once; need to trim this somehow. Suggestion is to simply identify them by name and type for ease of memory, then expand upon appearance later, as with Devin. (Blair was fine)
2. Also, Champion's Tragedy exposition dump; shift to dialogue, with characters discussing the horrors and repercussions to better show the impact it had, rather than let narration do this (less info-dumpy + more emotional)
3. Alex's and Kimiko's reaction to meeting Kirsten in the woods is tame. Maybe make them a bit more shocked to see her. Likewise, Kirsten is too calm about just having been possessed and half her team beaten up.
4. Maybe build up the restaurant scene setup a bit so it doesn't feel out of place?

Chapter 8:
1. Clarify why Kimiko called Lillia before battle with Wyatt. (Lillia was supposed to call them prior and didn't, because lol I forgot about it; seeing the magby was the excuse I used to remind Kimiko she hadn't heard from her friend, and due to all the trainer disappearances she got worried and had to call to check on her friend, battle be damned - she hadn't wanted to do it anyway! Upon the call being answered, she knew her friend was safe, and thus returned her attention to the battle. Just... explain this in the chapter, damnit.)

Chapter 9:
1. Cyrus' reaction to Koyomi's gem breaking comes off too calm and cold. Add a little concern. Maybe some hesitation from Steelix, too.
2. Alex hesitates, but eventually tells Wyatt about Kimiko's motivations. He hesitates only because he hasn't discussed her plans for actually dealing with it yet and is unsure of whether or not she'd be comfortable telling strangers, but decides it's worth it for now; make note of this somewhere.

Chapter 10:
1. Update Ingrid's explanation/introduction of fairy types (Only former non-fairies who gained the type rather than "fairies never existed", IE gardevoir, clefable, etc. Also Xerneas is no longer the only fairy legend. Also why is this happening now?)

Chapter 12:
1. Kirsten encourages Kimiko to talk to Alex about her lingering ghost trauma and other issues (obviously, this cannot happen, because lol We Don't Do That Here). She's receptive to Kirsten's advice, but does not end up following trough. Why? Maybe have her start to somehow and then backpedal after feeling silly or uncomfortable.
2. Clarify why Kirsten doesn't end up talking to Diamond herself. Her reason is not good enough considering the importance of the lead.

Chapter 17:
1. After Kimiko's ankle is hit by solarbeam last chapter, she only takes one night to recover before she's sprinting around again. Should maybe stretch out her recovery time a bit there. Or at least make her limp/in discomfort longer.

Chapter 18:
1. When Biff and Johnny argue about trade machine, clarify it better, maybe? (He can do it, he just doesn't want to because of how easy it would be to trace back to him, so he's trying to wiggle out of doing it.)
2. Why would one person trading with themself to evolve a pokemon look sus? Wouldn't this be fairly common, especially specifically for "trade energy" evolutions?
3. Psychic lock mess - You now know exactly what is going on with this. It should not actually be breakable; would elgyem even recognize it? Maybe he tries and fails, and Kimiko insists they don't have time to worry about it, and eventually it's forgotten in the chaos?

Chapter 19:
1. Restaurant scene. The couple with Biff should act a little more puzzled at him being antsy. Maybe also/or tone him down and keep his stress to his thoughts; he does illegal shit all the time, this should not bother him despite his dislike of public places (even with gym leaders on his tail - at least until they show up there and actually see him).

Chapter 20:
1. Refine the bloody gym test. (Maybe the leaders themselves can't decide what to do with it, and so didn't consider the out-of-bounds thing being a rule-break? Keep the "get badge for learning a move" thing at the end though? Because even if it's on them, they can't just give out a badge to just any, technically un-tested trainer.)

Chapter 21:
1. Alex comes off as unconcerned by the bizarro tree growing smack in the middle of his old workplace (the lab). Maybe just show that he's distracted by recent events (ghosts/Biff) instead, as intended; it doesn't come off that way.
2. Do something with Michelle, don't just add her to the chapter then ignore her.

Chapter 22:
1. Make clearer that the candles around the ballroom are meant to look like litwick and lampent, and the chandeliers are modeled after chandelure.
Last edited:
Chapter 1 - Catalyst


  1. sableye
Chapter 1 – Catalyst

“Alright, try one more time. Ready? Use leech seed!”

The chikorita nodded in acknowledgement and begun to rapidly spin her leaf. A small glowing green seed made of grass-type energy formed at the tip. The little pokémon then whipped her leaf forwards, flinging the seedling at her target. It sailed through the air, difficult to see in the afternoon sunlight, and just missed the bulls-eye pinned on a tree several meters away, instead landing in the dirt. Small vines erupted from the seed upon impact, but upon finding nothing to latch on to, the seed’s glow faded and it popped out of existence, its energy returning to the earth.

“Ri…” the little grass pokémon whimpered.

“Ah, don’t worry about it, you did great!” the teen male behind her encouraged. He stepped towards her, kneeling down to pet her leaf. “You’ve learned a move that most other chikorita will never know, and you don’t even have a trainer yet. You should be proud of all your hard work! Aiming it will come in time, with practice.”

This seemed to cheer up the sad pokémon. “Chiko chi!” she said with a grin, leaning into the human’s hand.

The door to the building behind them opened slightly, and the boy looked over his shoulder to see a young woman peeking her head around it, her long golden blonde hair, tied back in its signature ponytail, dangling low to the ground. “Are you at a good stopping point? Luke and I are taking a break for lunch now.”

The boy stood up and straightened his shirt – black with frayed edges at the bottom and the sleeves – then moved towards her. “We’re about done for now, yeah.” With a hand gesture down at the small pokémon following him, he said, “You should see her in action, she’s really got the hang of it now.” The chikorita continued to follow him, while the girl ducked back inside the building to let her friend pass.

As the couple entered the adjoining room, another man greeted them. “Ah, Alex! I saw that last try from the window. The little one has made some remarkable progress. Your training ability is becoming quite sharp.” The balding man grasped the front of his white lab coat and tugged at it, as though it were too tight on him. That, the others knew, was just a subconscious action he did whenever he was giving someone a compliment – although that didn’t mean he wasn’t bordering on the ‘overweight’ category.

Alex brushed back his untidy dirty-blond hair sheepishly, saying, “Thanks, professor. She’s the one with the skill, but I think training is too strong a word. I just… encouraged her.”

“Nonsense, that is exactly what pokémon training is, boy. Just do not forget all of the other pokémon you promised to teach a new move, as well.”

“Yeah, I know…” He looked over at his girlfriend desperately, but she was paying him no attention; she’d picked up Alex’s guitar and was plucking at the strings. “Wanna help me after lunch?” Alex asked. When she looked up to reply she rolled her eyes.

“Don’t look at me; you took on the extra work, not me.”

“Come on, Kimiko, don’t you want to feel that trainer feeling already?”

“Of course,” she said with a frown. She plucked one of the guitar strings a little too harshly. “I just think there’s something… not right about training a pokémon before it’s yours. Especially one that’s supposed to be given as a starter to a new trainer.”

“That’s why I’m teaching them all moves, remember? So it’s fair.”

“Again, your decision. What’s not, though, is what’s for lunch, and I need pizza.”


Kimiko turned, careful not to drop the instrument, and asked, “Professor Spruce, have you seen Luke? He followed me out of the incubation room, but…”

The professor, busy watching a news channel while trying to gather tableware from a nearby cupboard, replied without looking back at her. “He’s gone to pick up your lunch.”

“Apparently I’m not the only one who knows you too well,” Alex said, half teasing and half serious.

“Stop that,” his girlfriend demanded. “Maybe if you’d give me a ring, you wouldn’t feel the need to get so jealous.”

That got Spruce’s attention, at least briefly – Alex saw him turn with a hearty laugh, probably from seeing the boy’s furious blushing. Alex gaped at his girlfriend as though trying to say something, but unable to make coherent sound come out, instead forming only disjointed babbling.

Masked by the noise, a tiny redheaded child toddled around a corner and into the room, carrying a togepi. “He wants to, he’s just trying to figure out how to ask.”

Michelle!” Alex cried, mortified, his glare turning towards the newcomer; Meanwhile, it was Kimiko’s turn to look surprised.

The little girl, upon being scolded, realized she probably shouldn’t have revealed that information. Then, deciding it was too late, she said, “Well it’s been a year already, she probably already knew. You should have told me if you didn’t want me to tell her.” And with that, she climbed up into a chair at the table, setting the togepi on the floor next to the chikorita, who looked completely lost by the entire exchange.

Before Alex could reply, Kimiko rounded on him, now blushing herself. “You’ve been talking to my little sister about marrying me? How long has that been going on?”

“I-I mean, it’s not like you and I haven’t discussed it before!” Alex finally coughed out, hands up in the air in defeat. The pair of them were just shy of sixteen, and at least as far as he knew (he’d only ever had one real relationship, and it was with the girl now in front of him), it was normal for couples to discuss their future together. Just because they were still young didn’t mean he wasn’t serious about it. He just hadn’t intended to reveal just how serious quite yet.

Kimiko crossed her arms over her chest, and Alex couldn’t help but stare and look her over. She was gorgeous, and especially now that they were on the marriage subject, he smiled at the sight of her, wondering how he got so lucky.

Then she sighed, bringing him back to reality, and he saw her smiling at him. Her green eyes sparked, and he had to smile back, although he knew it looked far more awkward. He never was good at smiling.

“Pardon for interrupting,” said Spruce, and then he cleared his throat. The young couple turned their attention to him, both of them still blushing, though now due to the realization that they just had that discussion in front of their mentor-slash-employer. “What do the two of you make of this?” He turned up the volume on the television and stepped to the side so they could see it.

On screen was some sort of breaking news story. Alex immediately recognized Cynthia, the Sinnoh league champion. She appeared to be in her battle arena, but there didn’t seem to be a battle happening at present, although there obviously must have been somewhat recently. Instead, a young man was in the room shouting something at her. He was surrounded by various pokémon; Alex could make out a garchomp, a medicham, and a magmar in the frame. Whoever he was, he didn’t sound happy.

Kimiko set down Alex’s guitar and crept closer for a better view; Michelle, suddenly at her feet, demanded to be picked up so she could see too. The four of them watched as the boy continued ranting – screaming, really – at the woman across from him. He shouted something about two killings by a monster, and then about how Cynthia did nothing to prevent it. He followed that up by declaring that she had done nothing to protect any of the trainers in her region and how she wasn’t a real trainer.

Then suddenly there was chaos. The room was on fire, courtesy of the magmar, and the feed was momentarily blurry as the cameraman filming the scene presumably had to scramble out of the way. The garchomp dove straight at the Sinnoh champion – Alex had assumed it was Cynthia’s famous one until she threw her pokéballs down and her own dragon emerged from one of them. Alex heard Kimiko gasp, and the professor whispered, “Oh, my…” as the pokémon began battling each other in a free-for-all, brutally and generally without direction from their trainers.

Apparently, the cameraman and a news reporter were there to cover a battle after all, as Alex guessed when he noticed two more people enter the visual and throw out pokéballs of their own to aid Cynthia. One of them was obviously the news reporter, and judging by the beaten up empoleon the other boy sent out, he had probably been the challenger that had been being filmed – and an unsuccessful one at that.

Kimiko had seen enough when Cynthia’s milotic exploded – there was really no other way to describe it – spilling blood everywhere. “Okay, that’s enough for you,” she told her sister as she set the little girl down, as though she only just remembered the five-year-old was in her arms and was witnessing a murder. “Go take the togepi and chikorita and play for a while before lunch.”

“Awwww, just when it was getting good!” Michelle whined, but Kimiko gave her the ‘don’t you dare argue with me’ face. She’d only had to ever use it twice before, and Michelle knew enough to recognize that something serious was happening, so she picked up the togepi before leaving the room, chikorita trotting along behind.

By the time Kimiko had looked back, Bertha – one of Sinnoh’s elite four members – had arrived and joined the battle against the nameless boy. And then the news feed cut out.

Alex and professor Spruce simply stared at the static screen in shock. Only Kimiko was able to find the will to ask the question they were all thinking; “What… just happened?”

Five Years Later – Present Day

“Really, I can take care of myself!” the now ten-year-old girl insisted. “And auntie!”

“I thought you wanted to be a trainer?”

“I do,” she replied. “But so do you. You’ve taken care of auntie and me for so long. You’re never going to get to go if you keep waiting. Just imagine all the funny looks you’re already going to get now. And how many more you would get if you waited another ten years.”

Kimiko frowned down at her little sister. She couldn’t help but admire just how much the little girl had grown in the last few years. She supposed the disappearance of their father, and then the incident in Sinnoh, had both been factors in that. Still, just because her sister was ten now did not make her a responsible adult. Hell, she hadn’t felt like a responsible adult at ten, and she’d still had both her parents’ guidance at that age.

“Michelle, I’ve been taking care of you two because it’s a lot of work for one little girl. Auntie is weak. There’s only so much she can do for us. We have to do our best to take care of ourselves, and you’re too little to do that all on your own. Even for me really, but I’ve had help from Alex, and even Luke and professor Spruce.”

“And they’ll continue to help me even when you’re gone. Well, except for Alex,” Michelle said, hands on her hips. “He’s been waiting for you, you know. That’s the only reason he hadn’t left with Lillia when she left.”

Kimiko frowned at that, crossing her arms. That stung. She had no response for that accusation, because she knew it was true – she’d already been trying to convince herself it wasn’t her fault for years – and hearing it aloud, and from her own little sister, hurt. Even before they were a couple, they had promised each other that they would go on their journey together. Now, Kimiko was fully aware of how she was holding her boyfriend back. Not that she didn’t want to be a trainer too, but she had other things in her life that demanded her attention; she had all but given up the hope of going on a journey years ago. That was why she and Alex had gotten their apprenticeship at Spruce’s lab, instead; they could still work with pokémon even if they weren’t officially trainers. Alex, though, simply refused to leave on his journey without his girlfriend, no matter how hard she pressured him to. She knew he was disappointed with not being able to leave, even though she was aware that it was a conscious choice on his part, but that did absolutely zero to ease her guilt about it. She tried not to think about how Lillia, their mutual friend, chose to leave at ten without them, which was difficult with her constant calls updating them on her travels.

“Look,” Michelle continued, oblivious to her older sister’s inner turmoil. “I’m ten now, so legally I could go off training on my own if I wanted to. I could go out and get my license and just leave and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.” Kimiko nodded; she wondered why her sister wasn’t doing just that. “But that wouldn’t be fair. You’ve waited, like, over ten years for your turn, and because of…” The redhead faltered at the memory, but after a moment’s hesitation, she plowed on ahead; “Because of dad… and then taking care of me and auntie, you had to put your entire life on hold. Because of me. Because you had to look after me. But now I wanna do something for you. I’m old enough for that now. I can look after myself, and I can look after auntie. I already go food shopping all by myself. Auntie doesn’t even need to leave home. You don’t have to worry about us anymore. I can do it!”

Kimiko wasn’t sure what to say, so instead she just stared wide-eyed, willing herself not to cry. She had never heard her sister sounding so mature. Not only that, but she was touched at how her sister was thinking of her, and not herself. “I’m always going to worry about you, Michelle.”

The little girl actually rolled her eyes. “Okay, fine, but do it somewhere else! Really, I don’t need you here, I’m not a little girl anymore.”

She knew Michelle didn’t mean it that way, but Kimiko couldn’t help but feel a little hurt at that, too. Still, she smiled, and asked, “Are you absolutely sure about this? Once I leave, you’re going to be all on your own.”

“You talk like I haven’t thought this over.” Kimiko refused to admit that that was exactly the thought going through her mind. “I mean it, we’ll be fine. I’m dying for some privacy anyway. Besides, you deserve to be happy, too.”

Wasn’t she? Kimiko had to think about that. She had wanted to be a trainer, once upon a time, but she certainly didn’t feel unhappy with the direction her life had taken. She had her sister, and Alex, and her work at the lab… but it was true that it wasn’t the same as the experience and freedom that traveling and training offered. The constant reminders from Lillia over the years proved that much.

“Okay already, you win.” The blond pulled her little sister close in a tight hug. She could rest her chin on the younger girl’s head now – when had she gotten so tall? “I love you, Michelle, you know that?”

“Gross, don’t get all sappy on me!”

“Now are we sure we have everything this time?” Kimiko asked Alex teasingly, winking at him from his bedroom doorway. “Food? Money? Brain?”

“Yes, mom,” he replied, also in a joking tone, as he stood up and shouldered his backpack. Kimiko walked up and kissed him quickly before turning and leaving, heading downstairs. Alex waited until she had started down the stairs before heading to his desk and hastily retrieving his house key, which he had indeed almost forgotten. He really was glad Kimiko tolerated the memory loss that had a habit of plaguing him whenever he was near her.

Crescent Town was a fairly small and quiet place, to the point where most of the few inhabitants knew each other. A week had passed since Michelle had all but kicked her sister out of the house. Alex and Kimiko walked hand-in-hand through the town’s main road in the chilly morning breeze, though the silence was awkward and unusual. Alex knew his girlfriend was just as excited about today as he was himself, what with waiting more than ten years after the normal age children usually start their pokémon journey, but he couldn’t help noticing her lack of enthusiasm since she left him back in his bedroom. He glanced at her through the corner of his eye; she was actually frowning now, her eyes rather unfocused, seemingly lost in thought.

“What’s wrong?” he immediately asked.

“Nothing,” she said quietly, then, knowing her boyfriend wouldn’t let this response stand, she elaborated; “Thinking about my sister. It’s gonna be weird not looking after her anymore.”

“She’ll be fine,” he replied, and squeezed her hand reassuringly, but she didn’t appear at all comforted. “She’s ten now, so yeah, she can legally go off on her own if she really wanted to. And like you said, she has Luke and the professor to look out for her, and your aunt for company, and a roof over her head. And if things get really bad, we can send Lillia down to check up on her. Or just go home and visit her ourselves.”

“I know, I know… it’s just… weird to be thinking of her so grown up, you know? I mean, you don’t have any siblings, so you don’t know what this feels like. She’s still just a kid. Hell, I’m still just a kid. At least, that’s how I feel.” She did smile slightly at that, but only for a moment.

“We’re almost twenty-one,” Alex replied. “Considering most kids start their journeys at ten, I think we have more than enough life experience. Besides, how long have I known you? Michelle is basically my little sister, too.”

“Point conceded,” Kimiko deadpanned. She looked down at her feet as they walked.

“We can do this another time,” Alex said, forcing himself not to sigh. “We’ve had to wait this long, another month or so–”

“No!” Kimiko said fiercely, stopping in her tracks. “Not a chance. I’ve made you wait so much longer as it is.”

“You didn’t make me wait,” he reminded her, also stopping. “I chose to.”

Kimiko looked away and muttered something under her breath, but it did not go unnoticed by her partner, having been so accustomed to this behavior over the years.

“It was not a stupid decision,” he said, regretting his suggestion to postpone their journey further. He put his hand gently under her chin and made her look into his eyes. “We’d promised to do this together from the beginning. It’s not your fault that your dad was murdered and you had to take care of your sister and then your crippled aunt. And there was never a chance of me traveling the region without you, you know that, so please don’t start this again.”

They stared intensely at each other for a few moments, during which Alex wondered if he pushed too far in mentioning her father. She had always been relatively guarded with her emotions, and he wasn’t always able to tell what she was feeling in response to his words. She appeared to be chewing on her bottom lip, but he had no idea what that meant. Eventually, Kimiko broke the silence.

“You’re so damn stubborn.”

Alex laughed loudly. “Ha! Look who’s talking,” he shot back. Kimiko smiled weakly before leaning over and kissing him, which he eagerly returned.

“I’m sorry. You’re right. I just… feel bad, you know? I know it bothered you enough having to wait…”

“Yeah, well, it’s not like it was any easier for you, right?” Alex said, smiling again also. “Besides, working at the lab made it less painful.”

“You spent a lot of time caring for that chikorita,” Kimiko pointed out suspiciously as they started walking again, still hand-in-hand. After all the years and all the starters he’d helped in the lab, she never quite got over her old doubts. “Do you really think that’s fair?”

Alex was glad she was in higher spirits so quickly, and his smile only widened as he replied, “I can’t help it if the pokémon I was going to pick anyway became attached to me. Besides, it’s not as if she has any real battle experience, I just helped her learn a few new moves. And don’t forget, I taught all of the starters in her batch at least one new move, too. So it’s not really as if she’ll give me a huge advantage over any other starter.” He didn’t mention how the last time he’d trained a batch of starters was a few years back. Few of those were still at the lab by this point, and it was coincidence that he had worked with this batch just prior to their journey, anyway.

Actually, if he thought about it, quite a few of them were still there, just no longer eligible to be starters. Ever since the Nick Sayre incident in Sinnoh – the Champion’s Tragedy, as they called it over there – there were fewer kids becoming trainers all over the world, and Vidiva was no exception. None of the starter pokémon had any real battling experience in any of that time, though, short of mock battles for exercise, most evolving due to age. A few of the older ones were itching for more, that much was obvious, but where could they go for that, now? Spruce had considered selling them off to breeders, who were always looking for rarer pokémon – apparently, he knew a good one, coincidentally living in Sinnoh.

“I guess,” Kimiko continued, “but you and she already have a sort of… I dunno, a bond or something already.”

“I think you’re just jealous,” Alex teased. “She just wanted to be the best starter she could be. It’s only natural for her to bond with whoever it was training her so intently.”

“Maybe I am…” Kimiko admitted. “I mean, I am kind of sad that I never got that close with any of the pokémon I worked with. But that’s just it, though. Normally a trainer doesn’t get to bond with his pokémon before he owns it.”

This wasn’t the first time Kimiko had brought up the topic, but now that they were about to start their journey for real, Alex found himself seriously contemplating it this time. While it was true that most trainers don’t even meet their starter before they obtain it, was it really like cheating to befriend and help train a pokémon, knowing it would become yours later anyway? He tried to convince himself that there was nothing wrong with it, that he was only helping the pokémon at her request, not for his own gain. Surely there was nothing wrong with that.

“My, you two are cutting it close,” came a deep, raspy voice as Alex and Kimiko entered the lab a short while later. After looking around the familiar sitting room that looked like it belonged to a house rather than a pokémon lab, the couple headed to the room beyond the door at the back, assuming that was where the voice came from.

“Sorry Luke, there was… something we had to take care of. Today of all days,” Alex replied as they entered, although he was at a loss as to Luke’s comment. They had no timeline that he was aware of.

The owner of the raspy voice – Luke, in his early thirties – sat off to the right at a desk, engrossed in whatever paper he was looking at. He marked something on it with a pencil towards the end, perhaps the point where he stopped reading, and looked up at the new arrivals. He looked as if he’d been up all night – his white lab coat was unbuttoned, open, and stained with what looked like coffee, and the red tie he was wearing was actually untied and lazily thrown around his neck. His dark brown hair was ruffled and sticking out in places, as if it had been pulled at multiple times. The man’s glasses were ever so slightly lopsided and his blue eyes bloodshot. On the desk next to his paper sat what appeared to be the remains of some sort of meat on a plate and, indeed, a nearly empty pot of coffee.

“So, today’s finally the big day, huh?” said Luke. Without waiting for a reply, he looked at his watch and added, “You’re lucky this isn’t the normal season trainers start coming around, else you’d have nothing to choose from!” He must have been tired, Alex assumed, since there had been plenty of starter pokémon remaining over the last couple years. Though not old, Luke’s memory was deteriorating rapidly.

Again without waiting for a reply, Luke wheeled his chair back, stood up, and headed for a door across the room. “I’m sorry for my appearance,” he went on, “I had completely forgotten you were coming today for a reason other than work. It’s going to be very empty around here without you two. Follow me.”

“Professor Hawkins, where’s professor Spruce?” asked Kimiko as they followed the man, deciding to keep it professional now that they were no longer work colleagues.

He had led them to a room in the very heart of the building, the room where all the starter pokémon were stored in their pokéballs. All around the room were shelves upon shelves of the little red and white spheres, arranged neatly in rows with occasional breaks between them for people to walk through, like a row of bookcases in a library. Alex knew that any non-starters were stored digitally – these days, most professors and trainers alike preferred that method. The professors could work with multiple trainers’ extra pokémon without having to have dedicated room for each of them, and trainers could access their entire collections from their pokédex, swapping their teams around at will.

Luke stopped in front of a computer with some kind of green tube connected to the back of the monitor. He didn’t bother correcting them on his name. “Oh, he’s in the incubation room. Apparently one of the eggs hatched really early this morning, and it turns out it’s a pokémon he’s never seen before. Not sure how it happened, honestly, we don’t have any pokémon in the lab that hasn’t been discovered yet.”

Alex and Kimiko exchanged a glance that pretty much meant Well, duh. Alex knew that both he and Kimiko were dying to go and assist, but just because the professor hadn’t seen the pokémon before didn’t mean that it wasn’t widely known in some other region. Besides, that’s not why they were here today.

“So, he told me to tend to you when you got here, and apologize on his behalf,” Luke continued. “He knew you would want to investigate, but I was told not to let you linger. I just was so absorbed into my research that I had forgotten to sleep or get prepared or anything else. Anyway, professor Spruce is busy examining the new pokémon so he asked me to give you his best wishes and good luck on your travels, and thank you for all of your hard work over the last five years. And please do remember to check in with us once in a while.” Luke then bowed slightly, and looked expectantly at the couple.

“Uh, Luke… you haven’t given us our pokémon yet,” Alex said.

“What? Oh! Oh my… I’m so terribly sorry, I’m just extremely tired you see and I’ve gone through a few mugs of coffee this morning working on that paper on mega evolution and my memory isn’t what it normally is under these conditions, but you obviously know how I normally-”

“Professor,” Kimiko cut him off with a chuckle. “Our pokémon?”

“Right, right, I’m sorry. So then, I assume you both know what pokémon you would like to choose?”

“I do,” Alex said, stepping forward.

“I think I know who you want,” professor Hawkins said, “but let’s see if I’m right. Well, Alex, who is it?”

“I’ve chosen chikorita,” he admitted, unable to conceal his smirk. Even Luke in his exhausted state could see this coming.

“Aha! You’re very predictable, my young friend. The way that little pokémon follows you around, you would think you’re her mother or something, it’s really quite cute-”

“Er… yeah,” Alex interrupted awkwardly.

“Yes, right, well.” Luke cleared his throat and turned towards the computer. He typed something rather fast, and a few seconds later, a pokéball dropped out of the green tube, having been dematerialized from elsewhere in the lab and deposited within reach. Professor Hawkins stood up and reached for the ball, but before he could pick it up it automatically opened, releasing the contents.

“Chiko!” the chikorita squeaked happily, then looked around, confused at her surroundings. She almost never spent time indoors outside of her ball.

“Hey there,” Alex started. “I guess I’ll get right to the point. I’d like to ask you something. I’ve, er… I know we’ve been working together for a while, but I’m technically a new trainer, so I’m going to be starting my journey, and I’ve… well, I’d like to know if you would like to come with me and be my official starter.”

Alex immediately felt nervous. What if chikorita said no? What if she wanted to stay at the lab? He mentally slapped himself for not thinking of – and preparing for – that possibility sooner. He hoped his thoughts didn’t show on his face.

Chikorita relieved him of his worries, however, as she screeched with glee and jumped off the desk towards him. He nearly tripped as he lunged forward to catch her before she hit the ground from her miscalculated leap of joy. He cradled her in his arms as the pokémon rubbed against him affectionately.

“What about you, Kimiko?” piped up professor Hawkins, who appeared to have just been sleeping on his feet since the chikorita emerged.

When she didn’t answer, Alex turned around with chikorita in his arms to see Kimiko leaning against one of the shelves, arms crossed, her eyes unfocused again as they were on the walk to the lab. It took him a second to realize that something was wrong with the picture before him, something more than just Kimiko’s distant expression.

Then it hit him. He leaned forward slightly, holding out his arms, and chikorita jumped to the ground out of instinct. Alex was thankful that she’d understood, somewhere in the back of his mind. He called Kimiko’s name as he ran forward, barely catching the shelf she had been leaning on which was beginning to fall backwards, unable to support the added weight of the girl leaning against it. She gasped as she stumbled away, snapped out of whatever thoughts she’d been engrossed in, and Alex was able to pull the shelf back into a standing position before it toppled over.

One pokéball was apparently not secured well in its place and fell to the ground, where it opened in a flash of light. When the light faded, a small, blue pokémon had appeared next to chikorita. Alex recognized the tiny creature as a mudkip, but not one he had ever worked with before – it had only hatched about a week ago, and newborns were tended to by Spruce directly.

“I’m sorry, little guy,” Kimiko said as she watched the terrified creature. Tears began to form in the little blue fish’s eyes, which had grown wide upon seeing other living beings. Kimiko knelt down and offered mudkip her hand in an attempt to make herself appear less threatening. Mudkip did not look convinced, as it slowly backed away.

Kimiko pulled her hand back as Chikorita walked up to the shaking creature and sniffed it. The mudkip seemed to be frozen in fear as Chikorita walked around it, sniffing curiously. After making a full circle, she looked at mudkip with a smile and said, “Rita!”

Mudkip screamed in terror and ran forward, diving into Kimiko’s skirt in an attempt to hide as Kimiko and Chikorita looked at each other in surprise.

“It’s okay, she won’t hurt you,” Kimiko said, taking the blue creature in her arms and holding it against her chest protectively. The mudkip then looked up into her eyes, examined her face for a moment, then apparently decided she was telling the truth after all – its shaking had stopped, though it still looked frightened.

As Kimiko stood up, careful not to scare mudkip again, Chikorita extended a vine from one of the spots on her neck around the mudkip’s pokéball and handed it to her trainer. Alex, in turn, held it out to Kimiko.

“Would you like to go back into your pokéball now?” she asked the creature. In response, the mudkip climbed out of her arms – using her chest as leverage, to her embarrassment – up onto her right shoulder where it proceeded curl itself around a stray strand of her hair.

“I think it likes you,” Alex pointed out.

“He wasn’t intended as a starter,” said Luke suddenly, which made everyone jump. He was now sitting in the chair by the computer, still looking very worn out, but apparently awake – Alex guessed either the noise from the mudkip’s screaming woke him, or that he was never really asleep and just resting his eyes. “But it does seem that he’s warmed up to you.”

Kimiko carefully picked Mudkip off her shoulder to get a good look at him. Alex thought he seemed smaller than the last mudkip he had worked with at this very lab. Somehow, he looked cuter, too. Perhaps it had something to do with the large eyes that were just begging to be brought along with them. Or, at least, his new human friend. He watched, eager to see what Kimiko would do. Though he hadn’t ended up consulting her today, the last time he’d asked his girlfriend she hadn’t yet made a decision what she’d wanted to start out with.

“Okay,” she said after another minute, smiling at the creature. “You’ll be my starter, then.”

Alex, now carrying Chikorita, extended his hand to his girlfriend; likewise, Chikorita extended a vine to Mudkip. “Congrats,” he said.

Immediately, the water pokémon squeaked in terror and buried his face in Kimiko’s shirt. She began to rock him in her arms like a newborn baby.

“Well,” said professor Hawkins as he stood, “the professor had, thankfully, set up the documents for your trainers licenses on this computer, but I’m afraid we don’t have any pokédex to give you, since trainers don’t normally start showing up for another four months or so, so for now you will have to just go on without one until you can buy one in the next town. You can register your new pokémon online with your license in the meantime, so you should probably do that now. And then, I suppose you’re finished here. When you do get a pokédex, that can serve as your identification and license too, as well as pokémon registration, league storage, and all that.”

“Sounds good,” Alex said, sitting in front of the computer first with Chikorita at his side and Kimiko and Mudkip right behind him.
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Chapter 2 - The First Fright


  1. sableye
Chapter 2 – The First Fright

“So… what exactly are we doing here?” Kimiko asked, sounding concerned.

After leaving professor Spruce’s lab and taking one last look at Crescent Town in the distance, the couple and their new pokémon finally set out on their way, heading northwest down route 501. It was a warm, breezy spring afternoon, not a cloud in the sky to block the cheerful sunlight. Alex and Kimiko had let their new chikorita and mudkip, nicknamed Thorn and Radar respectively, remain out of their pokéballs to enjoy the fresh air. The small group walked for an hour or two with no interruptions, until Alex had said he had gotten an idea and veered off the path directly westward towards their current location – the outskirts of a very dense-looking forest, standing in front of a wooden sign rooted in the ground. The sign, in large bold letters, read “Whispering Forest”. Immediately beneath, in only slightly smaller, red font, read “Warning! Ghost pokémon make their home in these woods. Caution is advised.”

“Well,” Alex answered with a smirk, “I thought it would be cool, seeing as it’s our first night as adventurers, to camp the night in here.”

“You can’t be serious,” Kimiko retorted. Radar, who was previously gripping Kimiko’s shoulder and happily chewing on a lock of her blonde hair, tensed, whimpered slightly and dove down into his trainer’s arms. She proceeded to cradle the tiny creature protectively. Even Thorn, the embodiment of joy who had been happily sunbathing atop Alex’s head, drooped her leaf disapprovingly at the news. “Didn’t you hear Luke’s warning? Three more trainers have vanished just this month alone, and you want to go walking up to the devil’s door.”

“Oh, come on, you’re not scared, are you?” Alex taunted.

“I… of course not, I would just rather not spend my first night sleeping on dirt…” Kimiko replied, looking away and blushing slightly.

“Well, it’s a two day walk till the next city, so either we sleep in the dirt in there or in the dirt back on the main path of route 501.”

Kimiko took another look into the dark depths of the forest. The trees were thick enough to block out most of the powerful sunlight, even only a few meters in. “No thanks,” she answered. “I choose life.”

“Very funny,” Alex said. “I thought you liked ghost stories?”

“I do. I-I just…” A quick movement flashed in the corner of her eye. Kimiko turned to look properly into the forest again, but nothing was moving, save the treetops swaying slightly in the wind. Her expression changed to a mix of curiosity, determination, and fear. “Something – some light – just moved in there.”

“Wanna go look?” Alex said, smirking again.

A fresh look of determination on her face, Kimiko nodded in response, grabbing his hand and leading him down the dirt road and into the Whispering Forest. She kept her eyes rooted to the spot where she saw the motion until they arrived there, where she stopped.

She continued to stare at the bushes, waiting for something to happen. Curious, Thorn leapt from Alex’s head and inched slowly towards the same spot, sniffing carefully. They all continued to stare for a few minutes.

“Well, this is exciting,” Alex said suddenly, causing both Kimiko and Thorn to jump. He just laughed.

“That wasn’t funny!” Kimiko growled, punching him in the shoulder. Thorn, on the other hand, upon coming to her senses, laughed as well, though her expression was not one of amusement but relief.

“Well, I don’t know what you saw, if anything, but it looks like it’s long gone. Let’s get going.”

“Or it’s just invisible now… I definitely saw… something.” Alex and Thorn began walking into the darkness. Kimiko turned for one last look into the bushes before following, with Radar still shivering in her arm.

The darkness seemed to thicken as they walked onwards with Thorn now leading the group in the light from Alex’s flashlight. Kimiko was making a great effort to appear calm now, though over the course of the hour she had developed a tendency to suddenly look over her shoulder at the slightest sound, or sometimes for no reason that Alex could see or hear. He himself had a gut feeling they were being followed as well, but passed it off simply as letting Kimiko’s constant over-awareness get to him. On the other hand, he knew of the mischievous nature most ghost pokémon were known to have, and so he kept up his guard as well.

They had not been attacked, though that was a double-edged sword. On one hand, no surprises was a good thing. On the other hand… where were the pokémon? Surely ghosts weren’t the only things here. Where were the noctowl or the murkrow? He constantly kept his eyes on Thorn, not so much to make sure she didn’t wander too far ahead as for signs of danger. Though she was still very young, pokémon had much better senses than people, and so he hoped she would pick up anything out of the ordinary before he did. Sometime along the way Radar had cried himself to sleep in Kimiko’s arms, though Alex wasn’t sure his senses were so fine-tuned at his age anyway.

Sure enough, after another few hours of awkward silence and stalker-checking, Thorn stopped walking and tensed up, shifting quickly into a defensive battle stance. Alex stopped as well, holding out his free arm in front of Kimiko, who had once again turned to look behind her and therefore had not seen the chikorita stop.

“Oh – what’s the matter?” she whispered upon walking into his arm.

“Chik, chika…” Thorn growled. The three stood in silence, staring ahead of them, waiting. Suddenly, a cry came from above and as Alex aimed the light upwards, a small flying figure dove downwards.

“Riiii!” Thorn cried in distress. Alex aimed the flashlight back in her direction. A small, blue bird had perched on top of the chikorita’s leaf and was pecking at it vigorously.

“It’s… a taillow,” Alex sighed, though at least there was confirmation that something still lived in this forest. “Throw it off, Thorn!”

Thorn, curled up into a ball in a futile attempt to protect herself, stood up and violently whipped her leaf forward. The taillow was hurled a short distance away, but managed to right itself in midair. It chirped angrily at Thorn before diving again.

“If it’s a fight it wants,” Alex said. “Vine whip, Thorn! Knock it out of the air.”

“Ri!” Thorn extended two vines from the rings around her neck, a skill she and Alex had practiced for hours back during his work at the lab, and launched them at the incoming taillow. The tiny bird only barely slipped around the first vine, but was swatted away by the second and thrown harshly into a tree trunk off to the left of the path.

“Again,” Alex ordered as the tiny bird bravely took flight again, despite its injuries. Thorn obeyed again, hurling her vines at the bird. This time, however, the taillow took a dive underneath the incoming attack, leaving the vines to whip the tree. In one fluid motion, the taillow spread its wings and pulled up faster than Alex’s flashlight could follow, gliding along the dirt and speeding into Thorn with a quick attack. She was thrown off her feet, but managed to stand and growl at the tiny bird, which had once again taken to the sky and was coming around for a second attack.

“Stubborn little bird,” Alex noted. “Tackle attack!”

Thorn immediately charged right into the path of the oncoming taillow. With a cry, it picked up speed, going for another quick attack. Thorn lunged forwards as taillow approached and the two collided. Both pokémon hit the ground hard, but both stubbornly struggled to their feet again, refusing to give up.

“Hold up, Thorn,” Alex said, whipping his backpack around and pulling out a pokéball. His chikorita looked back in confusion. Alex, meanwhile, tossed the pokéball at the taillow, just clipping a wing as the bird tried to avoid it. The pokéball opened as taillow was dematerialized into a red light, and then sucked inside. The ball then sealed and fell to the ground, where it proceeded to shake as the taillow resisted.

The two trainers watched the ball in the beam of the flashlight intently, while Thorn was simply relieved at the break in the action. However, after a few seconds, the pokéball burst open again and the red light escaped, reforming into the taillow. Thorn scrambled to her feet and prepared to attack again, but the taillow took one look at her and darted off into the darkness with an angry cry.

“Damn,” Alex whispered.

“Not bad for a first try,” Kimiko smirked, barely suppressing a giggle.

“I’d like to see you do better,” Alex challenged, a dry smile on his face. Thorn slowly trotted back towards her trainer, looking completely dejected. Alex knelt down and rubbed her leaf. “You were great. We’ll get it next time.”

“Chiko!” Thorn beamed with glee.

“It’s getting late. Why don’t we look for a good spot to camp? I bet you’re hungry.”

“You know me all too well,” Kimiko said.

“I was talking to- oh, never mind. Lead the way, Thorn.”

The group spent another quarter of an hour walking before simply deciding to camp right on the path, having found no suitable shelter along the way. Using a lighter Alex brought with him just for this purpose, a fire was started for light and cooking purposes while Kimiko unpacked the two blankets the trainers had brought along, one in each backpack, and spread them out on the ground away from the trail of the embers given off by the fire, one atop the other to form a makeshift bed. Kimiko then proceeded to wake up Radar and set out food for him and Thorn, while Alex prepared a soup.

Their dinner was interrupted about halfway through by a small shriek, followed by a crash: a baby weedle had fallen from a tree branch somewhere above. Seconds later, a small group of other pokémon followed. Three floating skulls surrounded the weedle, each one’s single red eye taking on a purple glow as they prepared to attack.

Without a command, Thorn had leapt forward and shouted at the duskull trio. The ghost pokémon ignored her. Angry, Thorn whipped her vines at the ground threateningly, but again, the ghosts barely spared her a glance before turning back to their target and launching their attacks at the weedle. The yellow caterpillar was thrown to the side of the path from the force of the triple night shade, where it whimpered, but remained still.

As the three duskull moved in for the kill, Alex watched Thorn launch herself protectively in front of the weedle, and once again, she readied her vines. The middle duskull shouted at Thorn, who simply shook her head and growled in reply. All three duskull rushed forwards.

Alex didn’t like Thorn’s chances three-on-one – especially when he couldn’t gauge the strength of her foes – but he sure as hell wasn’t going to let her take them on alone. “Leech seed!” he called. With a whip of her leaf, Thorn launched a glowing green seed towards the incoming ghosts. It struck the middle one, where it rooted itself in the duskull’s body before releasing energy vines and ensnaring the ghost completely. The trio stopped their advance, and Alex took the opportunity to strike again.

Now vine whip!” he called. Thorn obeyed, lashing out at all three duskull at once. One of the seed-free ghosts gripped at the seeded one, hissed something at the chikorita, and lead the other two back up into the treetops, away from the stinging vines. “Huh. That was… easy.”

Kimiko, watching from the comfort of the campfire, stood up and sprinted to the baby weedle, who still lay in its landing spot. She carefully picked it up and carried it back to their makeshift bed, and set it down on the soft sheets.

This seemed to be all the weedle needed, for as soon as it touched the soft material, its eyes opened and it forced itself upright. It then bravely inched up to Thorn’s food can. Thorn walked up behind it and happily offered to share with the weedle, who after tasting the food, proceeded to eat its share.

“We should treat its injuries,” Alex said, walking back to the blankets. “There’s a potion in my bag.”

“I’ll get it,” Kimiko offered, pulling Alex’s blue backpack towards her and retrieving the purple spray bottle within. She offered her hand to the weedle, saying softly, “Want me to clean that up for you?”

The weedle looked questioningly at Thorn, who smiled and nudged it forward with an encouraging “Chik!” The bug nodded in response and inched up Kimiko’s arm.

“This might sting a little, but only for a minute. Are you ready?” Again, the weedle looked towards Thorn for confirmation – it probably couldn’t understand what she was saying, but Thorn trusted the human enough. Kimiko covered the weedle’s eyes, careful to avoid its stinger, and sprayed the yellow bug’s forehead.

Immediately, the weedle let out a cry of protest and leapt away from the potion. That was all it took; within seconds, buzzing could be heard overhead.

“We should probably go now…” Alex said, knowing it was already too late. Thorn patted the weedle hastily in an attempt to calm it down, but the crying continued. It didn’t take long for at least a dozen beedrill to swarm around the fire, angry and buzzing.

Both trainers stood up; Thorn ran to Alex’s side and took on her defensive battle pose, while Radar squealed in fright and hid behind Kimiko’s boot, leaving the weedle whimpering alone in the center of the blankets.

One of the beedrill hovered closer. This particular beedrill was different from the rest of the swarm, having bright, deep blue eyes as opposed to the furious red ones of the other members of the swarm. In addition, Alex noted that in the light of the fire, this beedrill’s body appeared to be a shade of lime green, rather than the normal yellow-orange. “Interesting colors,” Alex said under his breath. The beedrill jabbed a stinger out towards him, which Thorn was quick to deflect with her vines, though Alex thought he noticed something off.

“Thorn, wait,” Alex ordered. His pokémon looked up at her trainer curiously, though she refused to lower her vines. “I don’t think it was attacking, it was way too slow. I think it was just meant as a warning.” The beedrill slowly nodded, and then proceeded to make noises akin to communication, though neither human could understand a word it was saying. But this one seems to understand us… Alex thought to himself. They’re remarkably calm for beedrill. I wonder if this one’s had a trainer before.

“I think… I think they’re acting so unusual because we have their baby,” Kimiko said softly. Turning to the beedrill, she spoke again, apparently having come to the same conclusion as her boyfriend: “We didn’t hurt it… he had a… a wound, on his head. But we didn’t cause it! We tried to make it better – to heal it.”

The beedrill spun towards her angrily. Thorn began speaking then, and the shiny beedrill’s attention shifted once more, listening intently. During the brief conversation, the baby weedle inched up next to Thorn. It was no longer crying, instead rubbing itself affectionately against the chikorita.

The shiny beedrill landed in front of the two pokémon and extended a stinger carefully. The weedle smiled at Thorn, and then crawled onto the offered stinger. Once aboard, the beedrill took flight again, buzzed something at the group, and then cautiously lead the swarm back into the treetops from where they came.

Alex sighed in relief as Thorn retracted her vines, while Kimiko punched him in the shoulder again before turning back to the blankets and kneeling down, her mudkip crawling into her lap and curling up. “Still think it was a good idea coming in here?”

“Oh, come on,” he said defensively. “It was an accident, how was I supposed to know-”

“Let’s just… go to sleep,” she interrupted softly, sighing.

Alex frowned and knelt down to address his pokémon. “Thanks, Thorn. That’s the second time you’ve protected us tonight. You were really brave,” he said, petting her leaf.

“Chikori!” the pokémon squeaked happily, nuzzling against her trainer’s leg.

The trainers set up a small bed of leaves next to their blanket for Thorn and Radar. The mudkip had already fallen back to sleep in Kimiko’s lap, so she carefully lifted him and transferred him to the new spot. Thorn lay down beside him, and after settling into a comfortable position, blanketed Radar protectively with her leaf. Meanwhile, Alex and Kimiko settled in under their own blanket. A few minutes of awkward silence passed before the latter spoke.

“I’m sorry,” Kimiko whispered, gripping Alex’s hand lightly. “I didn’t mean to snap at-”

“Shh,” Alex interrupted, squeezing her hand in response and throwing his other arm over her. In the firelight he could almost swear he saw her blush as she smiled back at him. He leaned in and kissed her forehead before the pair drifted slowly to sleep.

A loud screech echoed through the trees. Alex was awakened instantly, though he couldn’t see anything – the fire had gone out while they slept. By the movement next to him, though, he could tell that Kimiko and their pokémon were all wide-awake as well.

“Wh-what is that?” Kimiko asked from the darkness.

“I think it must have been a pokémon, though it sounded really-”

“Not the noise,” Kimiko interrupted. “That… right there.”

“I don’t see anything… hold on, let me get the flashlight.” Alex blindly reached around for his backpack. His hand bumped into a log from the earlier fire – had they really slept that close to it? – and something else, softer, as he retreated. Kimiko screamed.

“What? What is it?”

“Something’s right behind me, something just touched my leg!”

“Oh… sorry, that was me. I can’t find… oh, wait, here it is,” Alex said, finally finding his backpack. Feeling around, he reached into the side pocked and retrieved his flashlight and turned it on.

“Here,” he said, handing it to Kimiko. “Where was it?”

“Over there,” she replied, aiming the light straight down the path. However, the only thing there was Thorn, facing away, in a defensive battle stance. She had better night vision than Alex had given her credit for.

“Well, it’s gone now,” Alex said simply. He started taking slow, deep breaths, trying to calm himself down. Kimiko continued aiming the light forward, though she too was breathing heavily and slowly. Meanwhile, Radar had crawled into her lap at some point and was curled up there, shivering violently.

“So… let’s just try to get back to sleep, shall we?” Alex asked. “Thorn?”

Just as his chikorita turned around, another earsplitting screech boomed from the darkness, causing everyone to jump and cover their ears. And then, just as suddenly as it started, the sound stopped. Alex turned around and quickly relit the fire with his lighter.

Kimiko gasped and dropped the flashlight, its beam now lost in the blankets. With the re-igniting of the fire, the ring of bloodthirsty ghost pokémon surrounding them was now illuminated. Thorn growled rather feebly as a large dusclops and three duskull materialized from thin air in the gap in the ring directly in front of her, making the circle complete. At least a dozen ghosts now surrounded them, with more hovering overhead.

“They don’t look happy,” Kimiko said, her voice shaking almost as much as her body.

“They’re probably angry that we attacked those duskull earlier…” Alex guessed.

As if in reply, yet another screech bellowed through the forest, coming from above – a lone banette and its shuppet child.

The dusclops let out a short, booming echo before stepping aside to reveal another pokémon behind it, a sableye, who stepped slowly into the ring. The dusclops stepped back into position as sableye passed. Thorn, though visibly terrified, stood her ground as the sableye slowly inched closer, a malicious, toothy grin wide on its face.
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Chapter 3 - Revenge of the Swarm


  1. sableye
Chapter 3 – Revenge of the Swarm

For such a tiny pokémon, the sableye was quite intimidating. Grinning rather widely, the ghost revealed a mouth full of glistening, and sharp, white teeth.

“That… that’s the flash I saw when we first entered,” Kimiko said suddenly, pointing at the new ghost. “Those eyes…”

Thorn shot out her vines and whipped the ground in front of her, but the small ghost continued to creep closer, ignoring her warning. Still shaking, she growled at the newcomer, but again, the sableye showed no fear. Instead, it continued to advance, and this time it hissed something back at Thorn.

Whatever that was, it seemed to make Thorn angry. Alex and Kimiko simply watched as the chikorita leapt forward, vines whipping all over, at the sableye. The dark-type lunged forwards as well, nimbly avoiding Thorn’s attack and scratching her side with its sharp claws as they took on an eerie purple aura. The grass-type let out a cry as the shadow claw attack drew blood.

Astonishingly, Thorn didn’t miss a beat as she landed, albeit rather clumsily, spun around, and whipped her head leaf, sending a flurry of razor leaf at the ghost. Sableye, just as quick on the draw, countered by firing several small but quick blasts of light from the jewels on its chest. The light attack was spot-on, knocking down every leaf Thorn had conjured.

“Power gem,” Alex noted, trying to remain wary of the rest of the ghosts while still following the battle. At least none of them had moved. Yet. “And shadow claw… be careful Thorn, it’s more powerful than it looks!”

“Rita!” his pokémon answered, crouching down and growling again.

“You… you can’t seriously… think we can fight our way out?” Kimiko stuttered.

“Not much choice, is there?” Alex responded. “Thorn, try vine whip again!”

Thorn launched her vines towards sableye once again, but unlike before, although sableye managed to slip aside once again, one of her vines did trip up the ghost, causing it to stumble slightly and land on one knee. The sableye’s grin vanished then, to be replaced by a death glare – which, considering sableye have no eyelids, managed to look frightening just the same.

Sableye snapped its fingers and let out a cry. At once, the ghosts surrounding the small group sprang into action, swooping and screeching all over. Kimiko screamed as Alex pulled her to the ground to avoid them. Radar dove under the blankets to hide, while Thorn lashed out at any ghost who came close, but there were so many, she couldn’t keep up. Another attack deepened her existing wound.

And then, after a loud explosion, the screeching and swooping came to a fierce halt; then the banette who had been making the noise slammed hard into the ground, failing to de-solidify its body in time. The rest of the ghosts stopped whooshing around and shifted their attention to their fallen comrade. Sableye even twisted around with a curious “Sable?”

Seconds later, a familiar buzzing sound filled the cold night air. Led by their shiny leader, the beedrill swarm shot out of the darkness, their eyes glowing red (and blue, in the case of the leader). Alex began to panic; The chance of fighting off just the dozen or so ghosts was nearly impossible, which meant the chance they could fight off the ghosts and the beedrill together was virtually zero. So, he was quite surprised when, as the chaos resumed, the forest ghosts and the beedrill engaged each other in combat.

As the battle developed above them, Alex and Kimiko began hastily packing up their camp gear. Meanwhile, the sableye turned its attention back towards Thorn, who had run back towards her trainer, and with an angry hiss launched another power gem towards her. The attack, however, was deflected by none other than the shiny beedrill leader. After letting its baby weedle off its back, it turned and buzzed a challenge at the sableye, jabbing out a stinger threateningly. The angry ghost-type was more than willing to accept, and the two dived for each other.

Radar set down a stray pokéball in Kimiko’s lap as she shoved one of the blankets into her green bag. Just as she picked up the stray pokéball and attempted to stuff it into her now overflowing bag, two large hands gripped her upper arms. She screamed as a dusknoir lifted her into the air, dropping the pokéball as she flailed helplessly. Radar let out a whine and gripped her foot, trying to pull her down but instead being carried away with his trainer. Alex looked up towards her scream as she was lifted towards the treetops.

After a flash of red light from somewhere below her, two beedrill swooped in, stingers glowing in preparation for a twineedle attack. Without a word from the dusknoir, however, they were shot down by two shadow balls, courtesy of two of the duskull that accompanied and defended their parent. Two further beedrill launched themselves at the duskull, but again were shot down, this time by two dark purple blasts of night shade from the ghosts’ eyes.

“Thorn, get her down! Use your vines!” Alex called desperately. Thorn obeyed, but halfway there Alex saw her freeze, then turn to look at her own vines with surprise, as though she’d never seen them before. Then a third duskull drifted into view, it’s single eye glowing purple from its disable technique. This duskull had the slightest hint of a leaf lodged in its eye socket – the same duskull that Thorn had struck with her leech seed earlier in the night, apparently wanting revenge. The duskull engaged Thorn in a battle of their own, launching night shade and razor leaf attacks at each other respectively. Meanwhile, the dusknoir continued lifting a squirming Kimiko higher above the battle.

The huge ghost-type let out a booming laugh, causing Kimiko’s loudest scream yet. The two duskull continued to shoot down any beedrill who got too close, while sableye continued to keep the beedrill leader occupied and Thorn was too busy fending off the third duskull to help. Alex watched helplessly from below as Kimiko was lifted just out of range of his flashlight – but not before he caught sight of a small blue blur shooting up her leg.

“Radar?” Kimiko stuttered between cries. Still shivering with as if in the midst of an earthquake and with tears in his eyes, Radar perched himself on Kimiko’s shoulder and glared the dusknoir straight in the eye. Kimiko knew it was hopeless, whatever her mudkip was trying to do; he hadn’t learned any attacks yet that could even damage the bulky ghost, let alone defeat it. The dusknoir simply laughed as Radar inhaled a large breath. Then, with a loud “KIIIIIIIP!” Radar let out a blast of water from his mouth, directly into dusknoir’s eye.

The large ghost howled, either in pain or just surprise, releasing its grip on Kimiko to cover its single eye and leaving the girl and her mudkip to fall screaming back towards the ground. Several pokémon, ghosts and bees alike, scattered as the pair shot by them. Alex dove underneath and raised his arms; he just managed to catch Kimiko, but gravity was too much for him and she crashed to the ground on top of him, Radar landing safely in Kimiko’s hair.

“Are you okay?” both humans asked at once. Before either one could answer, something flew above them – the shiny beedrill leader, blasted back by a power gem and slammed hard into a tree before crumpling to the ground. The baby weedle let out a cry and inched away after his mother. The sableye, looking thirsty for more, stepped up to the humans, still sprawled out on the ground. It grinned wickedly for a moment – and then its face was rammed hard into the dirt by Thorn, who had bounded up from behind with her vines blazing once again. The duskull she had been battling broke off upon hearing its parent cry out.

“My back…” Alex winced. Kimiko lifted herself off her boyfriend and then helped him into a sitting position. He reached behind him and produced the fallen pokéball that Kimiko had dropped earlier, then handed it back to her. Thorn bounded up to them with concern as the sableye regained its footing.

All around them, the ghosts were beginning to retreat as the beedrill swarm gained the upper hand. The sableye, however, was not so eager to give in. Still grinning, it hurled another power gem at the group. The tiny grass-type countered by shooting a razor leaf barrage again, deflecting most of the light attack. Sableye relentlessly launched a blob of ghostly purple energy at Thorn, who appeared to be still standing purely due to adrenaline at this point. In response and with no small amount of effort, the grass-type swung her leaf at the ball and batted it away – right back at the sableye. The ghost was not prepared for that counterattack and was thrown back when the purplish ball exploded on contact.

“Let’s try this again,” Alex said, now on his feet, a new pokéball in hand. He aimed carefully and hurled the capsule at the fallen sableye. It made contact, opened, and sucked the ghost inside in a flash of red light. The ball landed on the ground and shook violently as sableye tried to escape, every eye remaining in the area now on it. Eventually, though, the ball slowed, until finally coming still with a ping.

The ghosts that still lingered finally fled upon losing their ringleader, and the remaining beedrill took off in pursuit. Thorn immediately collapsed from exhaustion, panting heavily, her side still bleeding lightly. Kimiko fell to her knees, trying her best to hold back the tears in her eyes and failing. Radar crawled into her lap and she lifted him into her arms, cradling him close as she tried to stifle the sound of her crying. Alex limped to his pokémon and gingerly lifted her into his arms, petting her leaf before moving to pick up his new pokémon. He set the pokéball and the chikorita down on the blanket that was half-shoved into Kimiko’s backpack and half crumpled on the dirt, before kneeling down himself. Without a word, he wrapped his arms tightly around his girlfriend, pulling her close. Radar squeaked as he dove to safety before being squished, but neither human noticed after that.

“Are you okay?” Alex whispered.

“Mmm…” was all Kimiko said in response. Alex could feel her body trembling. Not that he blamed her after all she just suffered through. At his insistence, no ness.

“Listen…” Alex continued, affectionately brushing his hand through Kimiko’s hair. “I’m really sorry about all this… I just thought spending the night here would be a fun little experience to get started with… I never expected anything to actually happen… it was stupid… it was a stupid idea. We were so unprepared… I…”

Kimiko didn’t answer. She simply sat there, shaking like a leaf in her lover’s arms, though at least it sounded like she’d managed to control her crying now. Alex sighed and cast a glance over at Thorn, lying still on the blanket next to the pokéball that now contained his new sableye. Her eyes were closed; he had no idea if she had passed out from exhaustion or if she’d simply fallen asleep. Alex groaned, feeling even worse. Not only had he almost gotten Kimiko captured and taken to who knows where, but he also pushed his own pokémon far beyond her limits, relied on her to keep them safe. She did an unbelievably remarkable job for such a young, inexperienced pokémon, there was no denying that, but as Alex stared at her bloody body, couldn’t help but feel guilty at the state of her, another result of his poor decision.

And then there was the mudkip, curled up next to Thorn, eyes wide open and shaking just as much as his trainer, his head darting around as if expecting to be attacked from all sides at any second. The little water-type’s quick thinking was the only reason Kimiko was safe; a miracle in itself. He made a mental note to reward them both the next day, when everyone had time to recover. He pulled his arms away, meaning to go for his backpack and heal up the pokémon, but suddenly was restrained as Kimiko threw her own arms around him, instead. She still refused to look up, however.

Alex hesitated, but only for a moment before he held her close once again. As much as he felt that sitting still was a bad idea, he figured it was safe enough to give her another few minutes to compose herself. His guilt was only worsened, though, as he sat there helpless to comfort her; this was far from normal behavior for his girlfriend, and he wasn’t quite sure how to even begin to console her.

She hated feeling vulnerable and hated showing it even more, preferring to put on a brave face and deal with her true feelings when she was alone. Usually, she was rather good at it, too. She chalked it up to wanting to be an actress (although there were numerous things she wanted to be over the years – including softball player, guitarist, and even singer in Alex’s band – all of which she’d actively pursued and practiced at one point or another). Alex wondered briefly what was so different about this incident to cause such an uncontrollable response in her usually flawless performance, but it didn’t take long for him to scold himself for that thought. Most people’s daily emotional stress didn’t involve getting kidnapped by a rogue ghost.

Unable to think of how to go about helping her in this abnormal situation, Alex looked around to make sure there was no new trouble stirring. His heart somehow managed to sink even further as he saw the injured shiny beedrill lying against the same tree it was flung into earlier. So, not only had he caused such pain in his own pokémon and his girlfriend, but he had allowed the forest beedrill to come to harm to protect them. He knew they really hadn’t had much choice in the matter at the time if they wanted to escape alive, but right now, that didn’t feel like much consolation. The baby weedle looked calm, at least, if quiet. Alex took that to mean that at least the beedrill wasn’t too badly injured. Either way, it was his fault the pokémon was hurt now, and it was his responsibility to make sure it recovered, at the very least. Again, he pulled away and attempted to stand up. Kimiko made a slight sound of protest.

“We should go,” he said, squeezing her tight one last time. “I need to check on the beedrill, too… and I don’t think we should stay in here. We should leave and try to get to the next city, or at least get outside the forest where it’s safer.”

Kimiko made another slight groan, but slowly retracted her arms from around him, instead scrubbing the remaining water from her eyes with the back of her hands. Alex stood up, grabbed his backpack, and made his way over to the beedrill. Pulling out a potion, he addressed the bug.

“Hey… this is going to sting a bit,” he said. “But it will help you heal. It’s the same stuff we used on your baby.” He gestured to the baby weedle. Weedle, upon seeing the bottle, squealed as it remembered the unpleasant burning as the substance seeped into its cuts, but the beedrill nodded in acceptance; it clearly understood what he was saying to it. Definitely had a trainer before, Alex thought. Putting his lab work knowledge to use, Alex carefully lifted the bee’s forearm stingers and sprayed them both. As expected, the bee buzzed furiously at the burning sensation, and Alex fell backwards in his haste to back off, in case the bee decided to aim the stinger in his direction.

As it turned out, the beedrill had no interest in attacking. As it calmed down, it managed to lift its head and look Alex in the eye. They gazed at each other for a few seconds, before it started to buzz its wings and managed to lift off the ground. Alex stood back up, and the beedrill hovered higher, to his eye level.

“Thank you,” he said. “You and your swarm saved us back there. But… why…?”

In response, the beedrill hissed something before raising a stinger and pointing it first at Alex, then to the baby weedle, then to itself, then back to Alex.

He tilted his head, puzzled, but he didn’t have time to think about what that meant. “I think I understand,” Kimiko said suddenly, causing him to jump. Her voice was steady, though there was still an edge to it; she was still in shock. “We protected its baby from those duskull… so it protected us in return. Now we’re even.”

The beedrill nodded in agreement. Then it pointed its stinger down the path.

That, at least, was obvious. “Yeah… we’re not staying the night,” Alex confirmed.

But the beedrill didn’t seem to accept this answer. It casually collected the baby weedle, then started to fly down the path. It stopped after a few feet, pointed a stinger at itself, then again down into the darkness.

“I don’t understand…”

The beedrill sighed, or at least, some buzzing sound equivalent of it, accompanied by a hanging of its head. It then swung a stinger towards it, as if beckoning them closer.

“It wants us to follow it?” came Kimiko’s voice. It came out as a question. The beedrill again nodded in confirmation.

“Where?” Alex asked. He immediately regretted showing that hint of curiosity as the beedrill buzzed angrily, jabbing its stinger sharply out towards the path. Apparently, they didn’t have much of a choice.

“I don’t know, but maybe we should go…” Kimiko said, her voice breaking again. “I mean… it… they did just… save us…”

“Yeah… good point,” Alex admitted.

It only took the pair a few minutes to gather up the remains of their campsite, having thrown most of it into their bags during the attack, albeit rather messily. They recalled Thorn and Radar to their pokéballs for rest, picked up their now overflowing backpacks, and started off after the beedrill. The bee turned as they approached, and hovered down the dirt path before them.

Although they were exhausted and hungry, Alex and Kimiko followed the beedrill for over an hour through the forest. Thankfully, though the bushes occasionally shook or there was a random cry in the darkness, no further pokémon got in their way. Most likely, as Alex pointed out, courtesy of the beedrill swarm. The buzzing of their guide sounded deafening in the otherwise quiet night. As it turned out, their guide led them down a road that led straight out of the Whispering Forest.

The pair whispered hasty but sincere thanks as the moon finally was visible in the sky. The beedrill buzzed something akin to a “thank you” of its own before turning and returning into the depths of the trees. As tired as they were, Kimiko had no desire to set up camp anywhere near the forest outskirts, and insisted that they continue walking. Alex agreed, and they were off.

They had no idea how long they walked for. It was beyond three in the morning when they finally entered a small city. Thankfully, the pokémon center wasn’t too hard to find.

Kimiko headed immediately for the bed when they entered their room. Alex pulled out one of the blankets from his backpack, but upon spreading it out on the floor, Kimiko insisted they share the bed, claiming there was no reason they both couldn’t enjoy a peaceful sleep. There was still that edge to her voice, though, and Alex believed she was still too shaken and afraid to want to be alone. He lay down in the bed with a sigh as Kimiko moved up against the wall to make as much room as possible for him. As soon as he was in place, she wrapped her arms around him, kissed his cheek, and laid her head on his chest. Alex put an arm loosely around her shoulders, but he didn’t think she even felt him.
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Flygon connoisseur
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
  6. joltik
  7. salandit
  8. tyrantrum
I'll offer some quick overall thoughts on the story so far!

I like it! I really ike Alex and Kimiko. They have a sweet relationship and I love their dynamic so far. Cute dynamics and interactions. I also appreciate the unique premise. Setting them up as already a couple and starting their journey later makes for some interesting things.

And what an action packed start! The first chapter was slow setup (not in a bad way), but then 2&3? Wow! First off, a good way to show that the pokemon world isn't always perfect. It's dangerous.

Such an innocent and harmless decision escalated into something huge. I also appreciate how there were multiple encounters with different pokemon but they're weren't caught. I have a weird habit of anytime my MC befriends a Pokemon I want to add it to the team (more friends!) but I liked how everything played out.

They saved the baby Weedle, earned the Beedrills trust and then the Beedrill repayed the favor! I loved, first of all, having Beedil who aren't BAD! I'm a little tired of kids getting chased by Beedrill on day 1, ehehe. But here, the Beedrill get to act as heroes! This whole sequence also pulls double duty to show off how Pokemon are in your world, and how they do their own thing. They really feel like they have their whole thing going on.

And aahh poor Kimiko! She almost got dragged away. I can imagine how thats a terrifying experience. But brave little Radar saved her! Hooray for Mudkip.

I loved the bit with Alex comforting Kimiko, it was very sweet and adorable. Then using that as a way to exposit a little informaton worked well, imo.

Anyways, Thats the end of my thoughts, I thought it was a delightful read and I loved how everything came together!


  1. sableye
And what an action packed start! The first chapter was slow setup (not in a bad way), but then 2&3? Wow! First off, a good way to show that the pokemon world isn't always perfect. It's dangerous.

(Oh hey, I learned how multi-quote works! Hah.) You should have seen the original chapter 1, if you thought this one was slow. Yeesh. The current one actually contains interesting plot development.

Such an innocent and harmless decision escalated into something huge. I also appreciate how there were multiple encounters with different pokemon but they're weren't caught. I have a weird habit of anytime my MC befriends a Pokemon I want to add it to the team (more friends!) but I liked how everything played out.

You tend to gravitate towards anime-logic, and the anime does that a lot. Not saying I'm not going to include a non-battle capture here and there, but yeah. My intent here was essentially to counter the whole "team full of rare pokemon" thing that ends up happening. Like, most people don't write their MC catching pidgey and rattata because that's "boring" to read and while I do tend to agree, I didn't want the story to look like that's what I was doing. So there's a couple failed captures and non-attempts in here as well. (Also going back to the "pokemon have their own thing going on" that comes up below.) Mostly they consist of pokemon I'd considered actually adding to the team but decided against it.

They saved the baby Weedle, earned the Beedrills trust and then the Beedrill repayed the favor! I loved, first of all, having Beedil who aren't BAD! I'm a little tired of kids getting chased by Beedrill on day 1, ehehe. But here, the Beedrill get to act as heroes! This whole sequence also pulls double duty to show off how Pokemon are in your world, and how they do their own thing. They really feel like they have their whole thing going on.

You know I 110% included the beedrill solely for the reason of making them "good guys". (Hence them being on my story meme a month or two ago!) There's... more to them going on than that, though, which we'll see later (and I really hope it doesn't undermine their redemption here).

You got through these chapters really quickly, too, wow. So I guess I'll post a few more. (Also so I can reply to these without feeling like I'm just bumping my own story on the forums, hah.)
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Chapter 4 - Fear and Terror


  1. sableye
Content warning for the first scene for implied nudity and very mild blood (unrelated). I... don't think it's really significant, but that's not up for me to decide when it comes to sharing with the public, I guess, so better safe than sorry.

Chapter 4 – Fear and Terror

The sunlight blasting in through the open curtains was the first thing Alex saw the next morning. He groaned in disapproval and rolled over, trying to block out the harsh brightness and wishing he’d thought to close them before laying down the night before.

“Good morning!” came a bright female voice from the other side of the room.

“Hey you,” Alex called back, his voice raspy. He was awake now, no point trying to pretend otherwise. He rolled over again to see his girlfriend and almost choked.

Kimiko was sitting with her back to him, instead facing a mirror that sat atop the lone end table in the room, her long, soaking wet hair over her shoulder as she brushed it. However, she was wearing nothing but the necklace he’d given her for her last birthday, and a fluffy pink towel around her waist.

“I washed my clothes while I was in the shower,” Kimiko explained with a shy smile, seeing Alex’s reflection blush in the mirror. “They’re not dry yet. Besides, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before…” she added as her own face reddened.

A few seconds passed, the only sound being the stroke of Kimiko’s purple hairbrush pulling at her knotted golden-blonde hair. Then she spoke again, her voice softer now, so much so that it starkly contrasted just how cheery she’d sounder before: “If you’re going to stare, why don’t you come get a better view?”

Alex’s blush deepened in embarrassment as he realized he indeed had been staring. He quickly changed the subject.

“Uh, hey… you didn’t bring any other clothes, did you?”

“Would I be sitting here naked if I did?” Kimiko replied, rolling her eyes, her voice back to normal volume. Then, a more serious answer; “Only the pajamas that I didn’t wear last night.”

“You should think about getting some. Never mind the fact that your… usual outfit isn’t exactly the best for traveling… your back is covered in bug bites.”

“Oh, is that why I’m so damn itchy?” she complained, her smirk slipping into a frown.

“I would imagine so,” Alex commented. Sighing, he forced himself up and out of bed. He stretched, trying to kick-start his body, before walking over to Kimiko. She made no motion to cover herself; she simply continued trying to unknot her hair. Alex gently placed his hands on her shoulders and began to rub them, using every ounce of self-control he had to force himself to stare at the top of her head rather than her reflection.

After only a few seconds, Kimiko stopped fiddling with her hair, closed her eyes, and leaned back in her chair, savoring her lover’s touch.

“Now I remember why I keep you around,” she said after a few minutes.

“Do explain,” Alex shot back playfully.

“Your massages make me absolutely melt…” She allowed him to continue for another several minutes before she eventually stood up.

“Okay, that’s enough,” she said, untying her towel and lifting it over her chest. “No more for you until you go get clean too.”

“I wasn’t even looking!”

“We’re in front of a mirror.”

“… Er, right, I think I’ll go take that shower now,” Alex said hastily.

“That’s what I thought,” Kimiko said with a grin, rolling her eyes again as Alex rapidly backed away, and closed the bathroom door just a little too hard.

“Waiting for me?” asked a fully-dressed Alex asked as he stepped out of the bathroom, causing Kimiko to jump.

Still unclothed but toweled, Kimiko had settled herself in the bed and flipped on the television. Too occupied by her own thoughts, she didn’t hear Alex finish his shower and leave the bathroom, and she literally jumped and squealed when he spoke. Alex couldn’t hold back his laughter.

“That wasn’t funny!” Kimiko said, playfully tossing a pillow at him.

“I thought so, that’s what matters,” Alex shot back, catching the pillow and hurling it right back. “What’s on?” he added, gesturing at the TV.

“News,” Kimiko said, sounding completely uninterested. “Another trainer’s disappeared. That’s, what, four now just this month?”

“Huh. That’s not so unusual,” Alex commented, sitting down on the bed next to his girlfriend. “A little high, I guess, but people go missing all the time.”

“Except this chick was supposedly pretty good. She’d placed top four in last year’s Hoenn League. The other girls she was traveling with say they woke up this morning and she was just gone.”

“Where were they?” Alex asked.

Kimiko hesitated and chewed on her bottom lip before answering. “Camping in the Whispering Forest… the other side of the region, though. Closer to Gelid.”

Neither one spoke after that, the memory of their less than pleasant experience of the previous night brought to their minds. Alex wished he hadn’t asked, as his mind was flooded with feelings of guilt. It took a few minutes before he realized how much worse it was for Kimiko, and what she must be thinking right now. In fact, considering last night’s events, it was odd for her to have been so cheerful when they’d woken up… He cleared his throat and tried to change the subject.

“So, uh, anyway… Oh, your clothes are dry. What do you say we go get dressed, have some breakfast, and head down to the gym?”

“Mmm? Oh, yeah,” Kimiko mumbled, and hopped off the bed to go get ready.

Meanwhile, as Alex reached for his pokéballs, intending to introduce his new team member, a thought crossed his mind. He hadn’t released the sableye since capturing it and he had no way to know how it would react to their little group, especially after being separated from his own. Still, though, it would have to be done sooner or later anyway…

Alex dropped Thorn’s pokéball to the ground, releasing only the grass-type instead of both of them at once, as he originally intended. She yawned upon materializing, then jerked awake as though she sensed danger, and then winced; the cut on her side was no longer bleeding, but it certainly needed tending to. He should have done this last night, he realized, regret setting in again. He should have left them with the nurse overnight so they both could recover. He’d have to go do that as soon as possible. But first… he pulled out a potion from his bag, hoping it wouldn’t be obvious to the nurse that she’d only just been treated.

“Hey Thorn. How are you feeling?”

To his surprise, the chikorita cooed happily, although she’d begun to pick at the dried blood with her vines.

“Stop that,” Alex responded, scratching her head under the leaf, glad she wasn’t seriously hurt. The slash must only look worse than it probably felt. Or maybe the potion was already doing its job. Maybe he could hold off on the healing for a little longer… on second thought, who knows how the sableye might react to being released suddenly in front of total strangers? It would probably be a good idea to just go ahead with his original plan first, if only to make sure the ghost would cooperate with the healers.

“You know that sableye we caught last night?” Thorn tilted her head; Alex wasn’t sure if she understood, so he held up the other ball. “Well, er… I’m going to let him out. He’s part of the team now and I want to make sure he’s okay with that. And, you know, we should make sure he’s not too hurt, too.”

“Ri?” Thorn questioned, her head tilted.

“Well, he might be a little unruly. So, er, be on guard, just in case, alright?”

Thorn’s only response was to tip her head in the opposite direction.

Kimiko poked her head out of the bathroom door in surprise at the sound of the pokéball opening. As the white light began to take shape into the sableye, Thorn jumped up and immediately crouched into a defensive position, and Kimiko asked, “What are you doing?”

“I’ve got to let him out at some point,” Alex shrugged.

Sableye turned around to face the group, barring his teeth as he saw Thorn, ready to attack, and took his own battle stance. Alex put a hand lightly on Thorn’s leaf. She looked up at him, confusion on her face.

“Easy now,” Alex said. “Relax. Both of you.”

Thorn gave one last glare at the sableye, but did as told, though she never took her eyes off the ghost. Sableye, surprisingly, relaxed as well, though he certainly didn’t look happy about being here. He couldn’t seem to sit still for long, head jerking back and forth like a bird as he took in his surroundings. He didn’t look terribly injured. At least, no outward injuries. But then… upon closer inspection, the ghost-type was actually faintly glowing with a purple aura… healing himself? It was a little hard to see in the light, as was the shine of the ruby in his chest, but both were definitely there.

And then the glow was gone. “How are you feeling?” Alex asked his new pokémon. Sableye glanced up at him, no longer casting glances around the room. Alex could have sworn that if sableye had a nose, he would have just stuck it up in disgust.

“Okay… so, I was thinking… since you’re a part of the group now, how about a name?”

Sableye didn’t respond at all. No sound, no movement, nothing. Alex sighed. Well, at least he’s not going on a rampage.

As it turns out, with the aid of the shiny beedrill, the pair managed to get to their original destination, confirmed by the nurse on duty as Blossom Town, site of the first pokémon gym in Vidiva. The town itself had a very natural atmosphere about it. The roads were dirt rather than cement. Gardens, trees, and flowers of various bright colors and sizes were everywhere. Most of the buildings had the appearance of log cabins, with few exceptions including the pokémon center, which of course had to be built to certain standards in order to safely treat any pokémon brought in (including fire-types, who might otherwise be hazardous in such a highly flammable building) and the town’s pokémon gym, which resided inside a large greenhouse on the easternmost edge of town. This was the trainers’ destination as they left the pokémon center.

“Well damn, I wonder what type this gym leader uses?” Kimiko said sarcastically as they approached the giant greenhouse.

“Should be fun to see how mine fares,” Alex answered, and the pair walked inside. A bell chimed as the door opened.

As expected, the air in the greenhouse was rather warm and humid. Directly ahead of them lay a huge expanse of tall grass. A female voice echoed throughout the building: “I’ll be with you in a second!” Rustling grass could be heard shortly afterwards. Alex and Kimiko stood in the doorway, waiting for the speaker to show herself. The rustling sound grew louder until finally, a young-looking brunette girl tumbled out, stumbling as her feet hit solid ground again. She let out a small squeal as she managed to regain her footing and then dusted off the white apron that she wore over her forest green undershirt.

“Sorry about that!” she apologized as she re-tied her red bandana. She couldn’t have been any older than seventeen. “I was looking for my oddish. Anyway,” she looked up as she spoke and her face quickly turned a light shade of pink. “H-hi! M-my name’s Nyra. I’m the gym leader here! Um, are you two here for a battle?”

“Call me Alex,” he replied, oblivious to Nyra’s blush. “We’re here for the badge, yeah.”

“I’m Kimiko,” his partner said with a polite nod.

The gym leader refused eye contact after her initial glance, instead fascinating herself on her new arrival’s outfits. Then, as suddenly as it came, the extra color left the young girl’s face as her gym leader instincts overrode her human emotions.

“You only have two pokémon with you?” she asked, indicating the two lone pokéballs on Alex’s belt. Nyra’s face flooded with color again as she realized where she’d been staring and immediately turned to her left. Kimiko frowned, but Alex spared the girl further discomfort.

“Yeah, just these two. Why?”

“O-oh…” Nyra stuttered. “W-well… the rules here require at least three pokémon to battle with…”

“Why’s that?” Kimiko asked. “This is the first gym in the league, isn’t it? How many new trainers have three pokémon well-trained this soon?”

“W-well… in general, yes,” Nyra replied. “That’s why, actually… the champion thought it would be a good idea to have a sort-of high requirement specifically because this normally is the first gym most new trainers challenge. She said it would help trainers get used to training several pokémon at once early on in their career, so that they don’t end up relying on a single pokémon throughout their travels.”

“Huh… well, damn,” Alex said. Do people really do that? “I guess we’ve gotta go out and catch something else.” Not that he minded. He wanted a full team of six eventually, although he hadn’t really given too much thought as to what he’d hoped to add.

“I’m-so-sorry!” Nyra spat out in one breath as she bowed at the two trainers in front of her.

“Don’t worry about it,” Alex answered. “Rules are rules. Any idea where there’s some good pokémon around here without going too far from town?”

Nyra seemed caught off guard by the question. She probably didn’t get many people asking her advice on how to defeat her. “Uh… well, there is supposed to be some really rare water-type pokémon around this side of the region…”

Kimiko looked at her suspiciously, then shifted her gaze to their surroundings. “Why would we want to catch water-type pokémon? Don’t you use grass-types?”

“W-well… yes, I do… but… the routes leading in and out of town are pretty open… you won’t find very many pokémon out there in the open. Unless you want to go southwest into the Whispering Forest-”

“Hell no,” Kimiko and Alex answered in unison.

“A water-type sounds fine,” Alex said. “I could use one on the team, anyway. And besides, if the ones around here are rare, what better chance to go and get one?”

“Well, okay then,” Kimiko said, shrugging. “It’s your battle, not mine. Your call. I’ll find something along the way.”

“Thanks for the tip,” Alex reached out to shake Nyra’s hand. She couldn’t even look at him as he gripped it. “We’ll be back once I’ve caught something new.”

“She’s got a crush on you,” Kimiko said bluntly as the pair headed away from the gym, down the route to the south.

“Don’t tell me you’re jealous,” Alex laughed. That was news to him. Another emotion she’d never displayed before. Not that he’d had many girls crushing on him in his life, either, though. “She looks like she’s underage anyway. Not my type.”

“Alex!” Kimiko snapped, aiming a kick at his ankle.

Ow! Sorry!” Alex spat. Okay, stupid thing to joke about. “Not what I meant, and you know that. Seriously, what are you afraid of? Now you know how I feel on a daily basis,” he taunted.

“Oh, ha ha.”

“Relax,” Alex said, leaning in and kissing her. “We’ve been together for what, almost seven years now? You worry too much.”

Kimiko blushed in embarrassment and stared at her feet as the two continued walking, but remained silent.

The pair reached a small lake on the outskirts of Blossom Town shortly after leaving the gym. Several fishermen were already there hard at work, and identified the location as Petal Lake. It was Kimiko who asked the question on both of their minds.

“So… how exactly are we going to even find any water pokémon?”

Alex stared at the water for a moment, wondering if Thorn’s vines would be quick enough to snatch a swimming pokémon. “Well… we could go ask to borrow someone’s rod?” Alex suggested. “One of these fishermen is bound to have a spare or two.”

Kimiko sighed, but didn’t argue, and followed Alex to the edge of the lake. Then, as he went to talk to some of the fishermen, she stood at the water’s edge and looked down. The water was sparkling and clear; although large in area, the lake didn’t look very deep, but it also didn’t look like it contained any pokémon…

A few minutes later Alex returned, apparently successful in his endeavor. He carried not one, but two fishing poles with him. Kimiko gave him a curious look as he passed one to her.

“If you’re not going to go catch something on your own in the meantime, it will give you something to do other than sit here and watch me… well, sit here.”

“Good point, I guess… though it’s you who really needs the water pokémon,” she argued half-heartedly.

“Well then, having you help will make it go faster,” Alex commented with a wink before turning to select a spot to settle down. “And I’ll help you catch something afterwards, deal?”

Several minutes later, the pair had chosen a grassy spot not far from the dirt path leading back into town. After casting their lines, there was nothing to do but wait and enjoy the warm weather and light breeze. Alex sat patiently, staring at the spot where his line landed in the water as if that would cause some sort of reaction. He’d never really understood the appeal of fishing… waiting… and waiting… and more waiting… but the temptation of rare pokémon temporarily boosted his curiosity.

Next to him, Kimiko lay on her back with her arms behind her head and eyes closed, basically sunbathing. Her own pole sat anchored down by her side in a small hole in the dirt.

“I want an espeon,” Kimiko said suddenly several minutes later as the young couple waited for a bite.

“Seriously?” Alex grimaced. “An eeveelution? That’s not very original.”

“They’re adorable!” Kimiko shot back, a little hurt. “Besides, they’re psychic-types. How cool would that be?”

“I guess so…” Alex thought. “…But an eeveelution?” Kimiko didn’t bother replying this time.

After a few moments, Alex picked a pokéball from his belt and let it drop, releasing his chikorita. She squeaked happily as she adjusted to the warm temperature, quickly lying down in between the two humans to sunbathe.

Without sitting up, Kimiko reached to her backpack and pulled out a pokéball of her own, releasing her mudkip. The tiny water-type squeaked in fear as the sunlight blinded him momentarily, but after blinking and taking in his surroundings, relaxed after realizing there was no danger. Thorn had returned to sunbathing after looking up at the sound, and Kimiko resumed relaxing on the grass. Radar, possibly thinking it was some sort of game, attempted to mimic them, laying on his front and resting his head on the ground, occasionally lifting it up to glance at Thorn to make sure he was doing it right.

Alex laughed as he watched the three of them. It was unusual, but he was glad that they all seemed to be recovered from last night’s incident already and that so far, no lasting scars were left. Well, he still wasn’t too sure about Kimiko, but at least the pokémon were easier to read. The morning’s stay at the center certainly did wonders for Thorn’s scratches.

After a moment of hesitation, Alex also released his new sableye, Diamond. The ghost-type emerged exactly how he had previously, growling and snarling. Radar squeaked, and Thorn jumped up into a defensive stance, shielding the mudkip with her leaf. “Relax,” Alex told him. “We’re not in a battle. I thought you might enjoy some fresh air.”

Diamond straightened up, but offered no reply other than to look directly at the sun, then back towards him. Thorn relaxed also, laying down again, but her eyes never left the ghost. Radar peeked over Thorn’s head before crouching down again to hide.

“So, uh…” Alex started. “You met Thorn this morning. The mudkip is Radar, and the other human is Kimiko. They’re traveling with us.”

The ghost’s head tipped in the direction of the other trainer, whose eyes were warily watching him, but still offered no answer.

Alex frowned. Before he could think of something else to engage the ghost-type, however, two figures approached them. How he missed them coming until they were practically right next to them, he had no idea – their black clothing and hair stood out painfully in the bright colorful day. The male’s hair was short with red streaks and tips. The female, about the same height as the male, also had coloring in hers, a dark royal purple, and was up in two large pigtails.

The eyes of both trainers and their teams were on the newcomers as they approached.

Alex cast a glance at Kimiko as if to ask her if she knew them. She shook her head before sitting up and addressing them. “Excuse me, you’re blocking the sun. Can we help you?”

“Forgive us,” the male said flatly. “Believe me, we don’t much enjoy being here ourselves, but we have a job to do.”

“And that is…?”

“Pardon my brother’s rudeness,” the female spoke in a similar monotone. “My name is Phobos, and this is my brother, Deimos. We run the pokémon gym in Phantom Village, in the forest to the west.”

“Just how big is that damn forest, anyway?” Kimiko said as she and Alex stood up to introduce themselves.

“So… what brings you two all the way out here?” Alex asked.

“The ghost pokémon in our forest have been acting… unusual for the last few days,” Phobos replied. Alex heard Kimiko whisper, “no kidding” under her breath. The woman didn’t seem to hear her. “Naturally, as the owners of a ghost-type gym, it is our responsibility to find out why. They have led us here.”

“Is this your sableye?” Deimos spoke up.

“Yeah… I just caught him last night. In that forest, in fact.”

“May we have a word?” Deimos specifically addressed Diamond. The pokémon nodded slowly and deliberately, sparing no glance for his new trainer beforehand. Without another word, ignoring Alex’s protests, the newcomers and Diamond stalked off to the nearest shaded spot – underneath a tree several meters away. Alex refused to take his eyes off them.

“What’s this all about?” Kimiko asked.

“Hell if I know,” Alex answered. Something felt wrong about this, but he couldn’t quite grasp what that was. They appeared to be talking directly to the ghost, without using another pokémon to communicate between them. Then again, they were ghost-type gym leaders. Maybe he was just uncomfortable letting strangers alone near his pokémon? “Diamond seems to know them. That’s… odd.”

“Is it really? They are the ones who keep the ghost pokémon in the forest under control, aren’t they? Maybe Diamond’s met them before.”

“Maybe, but I don’t trust them.”

The group returned several minutes later. Diamond, unharmed, simply sat down upon arrival, staring out upon open water with his back to the trainers.

“Thanks for your time,” Phobos said. “You appear to be trainers… so I’m sure we’ll meet again.” And with that, the siblings turned and walked off without waiting for an answer.

“That might have been the weirdest thing I’ve seen in a long time,” Kimiko commented, lying back down in the grass.

“Yeah…” Alex said, looking down at Diamond. The ghost pokémon had stood up and walked over to where Thorn and Radar lay sunbathing and extended a clawed hand without a word. Thorn looked at him oddly, but hesitantly wrapped a vine around the ghost’s hand and shook it.

Alex smiled. “So, accepted the fact that you’re one of us now, have you?”

Diamond grunted at him.

“How about that nickname? Gonna respond to it now?”

Diamond shrugged.

Technically a reply, but not one Alex had been hoping for. He frowned at the sableye. The ghost took that to mean the conversation was over, and with a stiff nod, he then turned and sat down next to Thorn, who watched his every move out of the corner of her eye. She subtly covered Radar with her leaf.

Alex pulled out his pokédex again and ran over sableye’s statistics and data while he waited for a bite. After a short time of searching, he found no suitable answer in the dex’s data for the questions he had. Shadow claw and power gem… and he knows recover, too… how does a wild sableye know such advanced techniques? He’s at too low a level to learn them naturally… unless he was bred and released, maybe?

“I think that one’s yours,” Kimiko announced, snapping him out of his thoughts. His girlfriend was pointing towards the lake. A yellow starfish with a red core was silently standing there over Alex’s forgotten fishing pole, watching them.

“Whoa, a staryu!” Alex exclaimed. “I thought they were only active at night. Guess Nyra was right, there really are rare water pokémon around here! Go get it, Thorn!”

If she were angry at her sunbathing being interrupted, Thorn didn’t show it as she obediently dove headfirst into battle, with only a quick cheerful glance back at the mudkip behind her. It only took two barrages of razor leaf to bring the staryu to the ground. The creature didn’t even fight back. Alex frowned at he tossed a pokéball at it and then frowned more when the pokéball hardly resisted before closing with a ping.

“Well… that was anticlimactic,” he sighed. “Good job, Thorn.”

“Chikchik!” Thorn exclaimed happily before returning to her sunbathing.

“So… what should I name it?” Alex asked as he stared at the pokéball in his hand. He got no answer. Turning around, he saw Kimiko busy with a pokémon of her own.

She had pulled her fishing line in and brought up a blue seashell. She watched as the shell opened to reveal a softer, lighter blue inside, as well as a pink pearl in the center, complete with an angry face. The water-type didn’t seem very happy to have been hooked, and was having some difficulty untangling itself, as though it’d been caught on the wire accidentally.

“Radar, think you can battle?” Kimiko called. Her mudkip looked at the clamperl and squeaked worriedly, but with an encouraging nudge from Thorn, waddled up to face it anyway. “Don’t worry, you’ll do fine! Go get it with a tackle attack!”

Radar obeyed, closing his eyes as he ran in a straight line towards the clamperl. Before he struck, however, clamperl hurled itself forwards, and clamped down on Radar’s fin. The mudkip shrieked with pain and attempted to wiggle himself free, but clamperl had him tight.

“Oh god, now what do I do?” Kimiko asked no one in particular.

Before she got an answer, though, the clamperl blasted a torrent of water out of its shell, releasing its grip on Radar and sending him flying. Radar struggled to his feet, whimpering.

“Come on, Radar, you can do this! Show it a real water gun!”

With a deep breath, Radar planted his feet firmly and exhaled – and nothing happened. The clamperl roared with laughter as the mudkip began to cry. Kimiko gave him a soft encouraging smile, though, and Radar tried again. He took another deep breath. This time, the little mudkip managed to summon a blast of water of his own. Clamperl, who had been too busy laughing at Radar, screamed in agony as it got a blast of water to the face as Radar struck its vulnerable inner shell.

“You know what, now it’s my turn,” Kimiko said, reaching for a pokéball in her bag on a whim. She grabbed the nearest one and hurled it at the weakened water-type. The ball bounced off the dazed clamperl’s shell and opened…

…But instead of transforming the pokémon into red light and absorbing it, Kimiko’s pokéball instead released a white light. She and Alex stared at it in confusion as the light materialized into a rounded shape. When the light faded, the round, black shape, face and all, had become enveloped by a cloud of purple gas. The new creature stared at Kimiko, who simply stared back at it.

The two continued to stare at each other. Nothing in the area seemed to move – even the other fishermen had turned their attention to the commotion – except for Diamond the sableye, who let out a silent scowl.

“GAAAAASTLY!” the creature suddenly boomed, and everyone stumbled backwards, startled.

“Where the bloody hell did this thing come from…?” Kimiko demanded, hand over her heart as she attempted to calm her breathing.

The small group simply stared at the gastly, no one knowing quite what to do next. Gastly solved that problem, however, as it floated up to Kimiko and nestled in her hair. She winced as the ghost caused her hair to float about with its odd ghost-type powers.

“Well… at least he’s friendly,” Alex said, laughing.

“But… where did it come from?” Kimiko repeated.

“The forest,” Alex said thoughtfully, a vague, forgotten memory returning to him. “You must have caught it when you dropped that pokéball.”

“What are you talking about?”

“When that… dusknoir… was lifting you,” Alex started, afraid to bring back the memory of the event. Kimiko simply stared at him, showing no sign that it bothered her, so he continued. “Well, you dropped a pokéball. I remember seeing a red flash of light out of the corner of my eye but I didn’t think anything of it, I was busy trying to figure out how to save you. I guess I just thought it was an attack. But maybe… maybe that flash was this gastly getting sucked into the pokéball you dropped. Remember when you fell? We landed on top of a pokéball?”

“Oh,” was all Kimiko could reply with.

“Kiiip!” came a squeal. Kimiko looked down to see Radar jumping up and down, and pointing at something. Following his little paw with her gaze, Kimiko spotted the clamperl desperately trying to hop back towards the lake. She mentally slapped herself as she hastily scooped up another pokéball from her bag and hurled it at the fleeing seashell, somehow still managing to strike true. This time, the pokémon was properly sucked inside, and the ball fell to the sand. The pokéball shook for a few seconds, and then echoed the earlier ping from Alex’s pokéball.

“I thought you didn’t plan to capture anything?” Alex asked as Kimiko walked over to pick up her new pokémon, the gastly still toying with her hair.

“I didn’t,” she answered. “I just… well, I didn’t want you to get too far ahead of me. And now, I guess we’re… still even,” she added, reaching for the gastly. It laughed eerily as her hand went right through it. Its body caused a strange tingling sensation in her arm and she quickly withdrew it. She sighed.

“Well, now I need to find names for these two also, don’t I?”

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Chapter 5 - Burning Ambitions


  1. sableye
Chapter 5 – Burning Ambitions

Back in their room at the pokémon center, Alex lay awake in bed, his mind swarmed with memories of the day’s events, though one in particular continued to push the others aside. He still had an odd feeling about the gym leaders Phobos and Deimos, despite Diamond’s easy acceptance and Kimiko’s indifference.

“They’re gym leaders,” she had said when Alex voiced his concerns. “Sure, it was weird and they were creepy as fuck, but they train ghosts, what would you expect?”

“What about the fact that they singled us out of everyone in that park?” Alex asked.

“You were the only one with a ghost, or at least, a visible one,” she replied with a shrug.

“And they appeared like right after I let him out, as if they were expecting and waiting for it,” he said.

“I don’t have all the answers,” Kimiko replied, her boredom with the subject evident in her voice. Though she agreed that the whole situation was strange, any concern Alex expressed to her was dismissed with a shrug and, usually, a plausible excuse.

Alex tried to push that event from his mind and focus on the other events of the day. After the odd encounter and the capture of the two water-types, the pair had struggled to find proper names for the new arrivals. Alex settled on Koyomi for his new staryu, simply for the reason that he read it somewhere and liked it. The rather quiet staryu had flashed its core once at the suggestion – the only motion it made since its capture. Unable to decipher if that motion was an approval or not, Alex decided to stick with it until the pokémon showed some sign of dissatisfaction.

Kimiko’s new clamperl, for the time being named Ariel in the hopes of eventually evolving her into a gorebyss, was even less cooperative. As soon as she was released, she had closed her shell and refused to emerge for the rest of the afternoon, even when offered food. Feeling a little disappointed, Kimiko then turned her attention to naming the unexpected gastly, who unlike the other two, was a floating bundle of energy. Diamond was not amused at the other ghost’s attempts to play with him, but the energy blasts of the dark-type’s night shade only served to cause a fit of manic cackling from the gastly. Kimiko eventually settled on the name of Fantomé for the strange spirit.

The pair quit fishing after that, satisfied with their catches, and instead attempted to train up their teams instead of heading right back to the gym, figuring it had been rather foolish of them to march right into the gym less than twenty-four hours after leaving without actually training. Alex figured he wouldn’t really be using his new staryu, so he focused on raising his own grass-type. Kimiko, on the other hand, knew she’d need all the help she could get, with two water-types in her party, so she had Radar practice avoiding attacks that Thorn threw at them.

A sudden thump to his right broke Alex from his trance. He turned sharply to see two large, glowing gems that seemed to be floating in midair in the darkness, aimed in his direction.

“Couldn’t sleep either, huh?” he asked in a low voice.

“Eye,” Diamond grunted by means of reply. The sableye stood from where he’d fallen to his knees, kicked the item – Alex’s backpack – that he had apparently tripped over, and waddled back to the chair in the corner where he had, supposedly, been asleep next to Thorn and Radar. Alex mentally shrugged and rolled over, threw an arm lightly around his girlfriend’s sleeping form, and attempted to drift away as well. Sleep was difficult, however, as now Alex couldn’t help but wonder why his sableye was walking around the room at night.

When Alex awoke the next morning, he found Kimiko curled up close, her head resting on his chest. He reached up and stroked her long, golden hair. She stirred at his touch, adjusting her position so she could see him without having to move too much.

“Finally awake,” she whispered, sounding as though she’d only just woken up herself.

“Were you?” he asked.

“About an hour ago, I guess.”

Alex tilted his head to the side to see the rest of the room. Though the open door, he could see Koyomi settled in the bathroom, still poking out of the tub full of water where she and Ariel spent the night. Not far from the door, up in a corner of the ceiling, Fantomé mercifully also remained asleep, somehow still afloat. Over in the chair, Thorn and Diamond also rested peacefully, his own ghost-type having settled down for real after being caught roaming. He saw no sign of Radar. Only then did he look back at Kimiko and notice the reason she hadn’t moved when he disturbed her; the blue shape on her back moved slightly as he breathed deeply in his sleep. After noting everyone’s position, he posed a question.

“Why are you up so early?”

“Why are you?” Kimiko replied with a sleepy grin.

“Just didn’t sleep well,” he answered.

“Oh, well fine, you can sleep alone tonight.” Kimiko pouted, laying her head back down.

“Not what I meant…”

“I know…”

A moment of silence passed as Alex resumed stroking his girlfriend’s hair, while she seemingly fell asleep again. However, she soon spoke again.

“So, what’s the plan for today?”

“Training,” Alex sighed. “Water pokémon or not, Koyomi would need training before a gym battle anyway. Besides, Thorn and Diamond could still use some practice also.” Looking back, walking directly into the gym yesterday felt silly to him. He barely knew his own team.

“True enough... why don’t we just go find something else? You don’t have to get rid of Koyomi, but sending a water pokémon against a grass-type expert is just asking for a loss. You know better than that.”

“That’s funny, coming from you. I only have one. You’ve got two.”

“We’ll be fine,” she replied.

Alex rolled his eyes, but answered her: “I may… but I don’t know. Three may be more than enough this early on.”

“That’s the whole point of the rule. Besides, you worked with more than that back at the lab every day.”

“Yeah, but not training them, just caring for them.”

“Your funeral,” Kimiko said, laying her head back down, and silence fell once more.

Training proved to be less difficult than Alex anticipated. Kimiko agreed to help, wanting to train her own team, too. They decided first to try having some practice battles in the local park with their full, relatively new teams, to get a feel for how they worked against an opponent cleverer than a wild pokémon. Alex started off with Koyomi, hoping to coax her out of her apparent shyness and get a feel for how she fought. Kimiko sent in Radar, her logic being the same, though Radar at least showed some emotion.

Koyomi proved to be a rather capable battler, able to land attacks swiftly and accurately. Radar, meanwhile, continued to struggle performing water gun on command, though eventually he was able to conjure at least some water with each try, occasionally succeeding in launching a full-on attack. He was getting faster with all the running around avoiding the staryu’s water blasts, though. In the end, however, Radar’s inexperience led to his defeat, Koyomi having no problems executing orders; the little mudkip just didn’t really stand a chance.

Thorn faced off against Fantomé in the next battle. Just like Koyomi, Fantomé proved to be quite capable in battle, despite his rather carefree attitude, although Kimiko found it slightly difficult keeping the gastly focused on the fight. Thorn fought loyally back against her type disadvantage (Alex was low-key thankful that Fantomé appeared to know no poison-type attacks), until Fantomé surprised everyone by pulling off a successful destiny bond just before being struck by a barrage of leaves, taking both pokémon down together.

Finally, Diamond took on Ariel. At first, neither pokémon appeared interested in battling, though after being reminded he needed to obey if he was going to stick around, Diamond at least attacked when ordered. Meanwhile, Ariel simply remained inside her tightly closed shell, heedless of the commands of her trainer. Eventually, whether it was from Kimiko’s pleading or Diamond’s relentless offence, Ariel emerged and finally began to obey orders. And then, in another surprise to the group, Ariel turned out to be the strongest teammate so far, able to land endless blows on a desperately evasive Diamond even though she was unable to move herself very well. In the final surprise of the battle, Diamond surrendered, ending the battle in a draw.

Alex spent the remainder of the day rotating his team in between hour long practice sessions to perfect their moves. To his disappointment, he discovered that Koyomi knew no ice-type attacks and really had no way to teach her any, as Ariel stubbornly retreated back into her shell as soon as her battle had concluded, and would not emerge for the rest of the afternoon.

Instead, Alex altered his battle plan, focusing on Koyomi’s non-water-type moves, perfecting their power and accuracy. Being the only pokémon without a disadvantage against Nyra’s grass-types, Diamond’s training sessions were focused on throwing as much power into his moves as possible, the goal being to use him as the team’s heavy hitter. Finally, Thorn was focused on defensive tactics. Within only a few hours, she had mastered both leech seed and reflect techniques, as well as showing signs of learning how to properly perform synthesis. Excited by the thought, Alex spent an extra hour with Thorn trying to perfect the move, but by that time the sun had started to go down, making further progress difficult. Alex hoped, but doubted, that she could somehow learn it before his gym battle; either that or that none of Nyra’s pokémon were able to use it. If they could heal themselves, they were at a disadvantage no matter what types he used against them.

Meanwhile, Kimiko attempted a training session of her own, but by comparison, her team made little progress. Radar did his best and was finally learning to perform water gun on command, though still not without the occasional failure. Ariel refused to come out of her shell, however, and Fantomé seemed more interested in practicing his moves by terrorizing the other pokémon with them rather than on inanimate targets, usually without Kimiko’s command. She eventually gave up with a sigh, withdrew Ariel and Fantomé to their balls, and fell asleep in the grass with Radar nestled in her hair.

The two left the park in the late evening, as the sun was almost completely hidden behind the horizon. After a quick dinner at a local sit-down diner, they retreated back to their room at the pokémon center to relax. Intending to put on a movie before falling asleep, they left their pokémon with the nurse until the morning. Halfway through, Kimiko’s pokédex rang, signaling an incoming message from another trainer.

“That’s Lillia’s ring tone!” Kimiko exclaimed with excitement. An old school friend of Alex’s, she and Kimiko had become close friends after Alex began dating Kimiko and introduced the two to each other. She had left on her journey as soon as she was ten; Alex tried to convince her to put it off until he and Kimiko were ready to go, but she wouldn’t be held down. Since then, she tried to keep in regular contact up until her last call, which had been several months ago.

“Oh my god!” Kimiko screamed into the phone after putting it on speakers. “It’s about time! Where are you? Are you okay?!”

I’m fine!” came a female voice from the other end of the line. “I’d only just replaced my pokédex today! Last time I ever let Etna near it again, I swear. She’d destroyed it not long after the last time I spoke with you. By accident, I think, but I just couldn’t afford to get a new one until now. But anyways, I’m sorry I haven’t called, but that’s why. Anyways, where are you guys?! I was in the area so I stopped by the lab to say hi, and Luke said you two had taken off finally!”

“Yeah, we did,” Alex answered. “We’re in the pokémon center in Blossom Town.”

Oh, Alex! It’s great to hear your voice again; I thought I’d called Kimiko! Anyway, did you guys beat the gym there yet?! Ooh! What starters did you guys pick? How long have you been on the road, exactly? Have you caught anything else yet? Oh! You guys have to–”

“Breathe, Lillia…” Alex said loudly over the voice from the other end of the phone. “You’re on speaker.”

Sorry!” Lillia exclaimed. “Oh! You guys totally have to check out my match tonight!”

“What match?” Kimiko asked.

I was in the final round of the last mono-type tournament down in Pebble Town! Televised! They’re airing it again tonight. You have to see it! And wait till you see who I crushed! An all-water team!” Lillia prided herself in her mono-fire-type party, so both Alex and Kimiko were impressed. “Oh! And wait until you see my star player in action!” Lillia pressed on, until Kimiko interrupted her.

“Calm down, Lillia! When is this on?”

In like twenty minutes, on the repeat of the latest episode of ‘Today’s Trainers’! Oh my god, tell me you’re near a TV?

“Yeah, there’s one in our room, calm down. We’ll watch it!”

Sorry!” Lillia cried again. “I just never expected to actually be on TV, you know, nevermind being on such a top-rated show, and as the highlight of the episode! Dude, they said I have gym leader potential, do you even know how sweet that would be?!

“I could see it, too,” Alex said. “I don’t think there’s a fire-type gym in Vidiva, is there?”

No, but then I’ll open one! Oh man, I would love to run a gym of my own, how awesome would that be, to be just like Flannery?! I’d be the new hero of Lavaridge!

“Well, I don’t know about you two,” Kimiko said with a giggle, “but I have trouble seeing you in the gym leader role, having to settle down and sit still for a long while.”

I can too!” Lillia shot back. “You just watch! I’ll be the hottest gym leader in the region!

“Okay, smart ass, what about the fact that there are already eight gyms in Vidiva?”

“That doesn’t really matter,” Alex interrupted. “Kanto has, at the very least, ten pokémon gyms, and all of them are official. Gary Oak had collected ten badges once upon a time.”

HA!” Lillia cried. “I could so be a legend here! Not only the first fire-type gym around, but the official ninth gym, the first official gym beyond the standard eight! And not even a water expert will be able to beat me!

“Maybe you should come down here yourself and prove it,” Kimiko taunted. “I’ve got two water types ready to soak you.”

Oh come on, Kimiko, don’t tell me you’re going to be a water specialist!” Lillia sounded genuinely disappointed, but Kimiko was quick to correct her.

“Never crossed my mind. Kinda the opposite actually, I don’t want to specialize in a specific type, and if I had to it would be psychics. I just… happened to collect two water types so far.”

So what did you catch?! And you still haven’t told me who your starters were!

“Well at first I had no idea… but I ended up picking a cute little mudkip. Or, well, I guess he picked me, really. And then we were fishing and I caught a clamperl. Oh, and also accidentally captured a gastly…”

How in the hell do you accidentally capture a pokémon?” Lillia asked.

“Long story,” Alex cut in, hoping to avoid the subject. “I ended up starting with a chikorita that I’d been working with in the lab for a few months. You remember that egg I’d been taking care of when you last called? That was her. So far I’ve also got a sableye and a staryu.”

Wow, you two must really hate being traditional,” Lillia said, her voice sounding amused. “Not one of those ones you’ve captured are very common beginner’s pokémon.”

“Hey, I did try to catch a taillow, just didn’t get it. Anyway, we’re not complete beginners, after all, are we?”

Lillia laughed. “I guess not when it comes to caring for your pokémon, but actually training them is a whole different story, and I don’t think you two know what you’re getting into.

“Oh, believe me, we know exactly what we’ve gotten into,” Kimiko said dejectedly. Between the always-energetic gastly, and the completely unresponsive clamperl, Alex couldn’t blame her.

“We’ll be fine,” Alex said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “We just need some experience. And when we do, you’re going down, Lillia.”

Bring it on, Alex!” Lillia challenged. “Maybe I’ll wander out that way and see if you guys are still in town or maybe I’ll just call and find out where you are and we can meet up one of these days, it’s been way too long since we’ve all been together in person. Oh! And then we can all finally go travel together!

“Wait a minute… what about all the badges you have? You’d be wasting so much time re-visiting places you’ve already been to while we play catch up. And after ten years, I’m sure your pokémon don’t really need the beginner’s training we’re going to be doing.”

I guess not,” Lillia said. “But then, I could train up some babies I’ve had sitting at the lab. Oh! And then I could help you guys get stronger faster! And then we can all complete in the league together!

“We’d love to have you along, Lillia, really,” Kimiko added. “We just don’t want to slow you down.”

Since when has anyone ever been able to slow me down?” Lillia countered.

“Touché,” Alex laughed.

Oh, okay, I gotta go,” Lillia shouted suddenly, sounding panicked. “Etna is setting fire to someone’s tent again! I’ll call you tomorrow to see what’s going on. Don’t forget to watch my battle tonight! Bye!” And with that, she hung up.

“She’s as lively as ever,” Alex said as Kimiko shut her dex.

“I’m just relieved she’s okay after all this time,” Kimiko sighed, leaning back in the chair. “Anyway, there’s still ten minutes until her battle is on, do you mind if we…?”

“Not at all. In fact, I was hoping you’d let me put it on, I’d like to see what she’s been up to.”

“Well then, I’ll go downstairs and find us some snacks.”

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Chapter 6 - Fire, Water, and Grass


  1. sableye
Chapter 6 – Fire, Water, and Grass

By the time Kimiko returned with some chips from the vending machine down in the pokémon center’s lobby, the episode of Today’s Trainers had already begun. She and Alex settled in on the bed to watch.

“–and today we’re going to showcase two trainers – finalists in the recent charity tournament held in Pebble Town,” said the host of the show, a young-looking, energetic brown-haired boy in a white suit. A nameplate on the screen identified him as Devin Sinclair, known to most in Vidiva as a member of the region’s Elite Four. “Why is this battle special, you ask? This particular battle is a full battle, which these days is rarely seen outside of official league matches. But even that’s not what makes this interesting! No, my friends, this battle was chosen for this week’s feature because of the teams that made it to the finals! One trainer, a feisty young girl who trains fire-type pokémon. The other, a spirited young man who favors, of all things, water-type pokémon! Now, I know what all you at home are thinking, but I assure you, this battle might not be as one-sided as you’re expecting! Now, why don’t we get to the battle before I spoil it for you all, shall we?”

The screen changed to show the host standing in front of the image of a mostly standard battlefield, presumably the location of the battle about to be shown. “Now, as always, I’ll recap the rules of this battle beforehand for you all. This battle is a fairly simple one: a full six-on-six team battle, with no time limit but no switching allowed. Also, as this is a mono-type tournament, each team must consist of at least three pokémon that share the same type. However, trainers were allowed to rotate their party in between rounds, and in addition, this tournament has an additional rule stating that before a battle, each trainer must show the other three of their current party, to allow for a bit of strategizing. Now, as always, due to time constraints, we won’t be showing too many issued orders and of course some parts of the battle have been sped up, but rest assured that those of you watching at home will not miss any of the action! And that, my friends, is where we shall begin!”

The screen changed again away from Devin to that of the open-topped stadium of Pebble Town, now full of people seated to watch the battles of the day. It was a standard battlefield – white painted boundaries on the ground clearly identifying the border and dividing the field in equal halves as well as a large viewscreen for those in the farthest seats to get a closer look at some of the action – with the exception of extra rocks and boulders scattered all throughout, reflecting the city’s namesake. There was a brief scene showing the trainers walking onto the field to shake hands; Lillia emerged from the left, wearing a light blue tank top with a slightly larger black tank top underneath and jeans, her long raven hair blowing behind her in the wind, save for a single white streak near her right eye. Walking alongside her was a rather menacing-looking houndour. Her opponent, a boy called Adam, was a very young boy, no more than age thirteen at the most, with short red hair, a simple yellow t-shirt with a red stripe across the stomach, and navy shorts. While Lillia appeared confident, Adam looked utterly terrified upon seeing the houndour at his opponent’s side.

After shaking hands, Adam seemed to recover some courage upon realizing that the houndour was not about to pounce on him. As per the rules, both trainers selected a couple pokéballs and let them drop to the ground in front of them, releasing their inhabitants. Adam chose to reveal a floatzel, a seadra, and a primeape. Lillia had chosen hers as well; houndour was already out, having walked with her to the battlefield. She released a charizard and a torkoal in addition.

“I’ll bet you anything that that primeape is that kid’s ace,” Alex commented.

“And I’ll bet you that houndour is the ace Lillia mentioned,” Kimiko added.

Adam had won the rights to choose the order of battle with a coin toss and decided to make the first move, probably deciding his type advantage nullified any pokémon choice Lillia made. The two trainers and their pokémon returned to their respective sides of the field. Recalling seadra and primeape, Adam sent his floatzel onto the battlefield to begin. Lillia considered this – Floatzel was a water-type that favored physical strength, and was also faster than any pokémon she brought. After careful consideration, Lillia followed Adam’s lead and recalled two of the pokémon she revealed, sending in her torkoal, Zuko, rather than one of her still-unknown pokémon, hoping torkoal’s strong physical defense would be enough to counter floatzel’s powerful offense. In addition, torkoal were naturally slow and worked well that way, effectively rendering floatzel’s amazing speed advantage moot.

The referee, a middle-aged brown-haired man in the standard black and white striped uniform, waved his flags to begin the battle. It didn’t last a full two minutes. Every time the floatzel came in for an attack, Zuko either pushed it back with a powerful flamethrower or simply took the hit and responded with a strong lava plume. By the time Adam had thought enough to use ranged attacks despite floatzel’s general less-than-satisfactory sharpness with them, Zuko had released a massive earthquake attack that KO’d the water-type before it could fire.

Adam simply smirked as he recalled his pokémon and sent out a completely new one. Lillia watched curiously as Adam’s slowbro yawned; it didn’t seem to even realize it was in battle. She laughed as she ordered another earthquake, but just as Zuko prepared to unleash the move, he was lifted into the air by a strange blue aura. Lillia scowled then; slowbro was paying minimal attention and still managed to halt any sort of offense with its psychic attack. She ordered a long-range flamethrower instead, which was blocked by several large boulders, lifted into the path of the attack, again by the slowbro’s psychic. At Adam’s order, the slowbro then hurled said stones at Zuko, who was buried easily. After a quick scald, Zuko was tossed aside and retreated into his shell, defeated.

Lillia sent in her houndour, Hades, next. She easily took down the slowbro, who apparently relied mostly on his psychic and other similar moves to win rather than water. Hades was defeated swiftly by a speedy close combat from Adam’s primeape immediately afterwards, before it could launch a single attack. The fighting-type also knocked out Summer, Lillia’s flareon, with minor difficulty, though quick thinking on Summer’s part scored a will-o-wisp before she went down, leaving primeape a sitting duck for Lillia’s vulpix, Vixen.

The episode cut to a commercial after a quick camera flash over to Lillia to show off her confident air – she clearly was having fun – and then to Adam, displaying a distraught reaction to the crowd. He obviously hadn’t intended to have this much trouble against a team of fire-types.

“She’s doing well,” Alex said, biting into another chip.

“I wonder what’s with the primeape,” Kimiko replied. “It didn’t really seem too much stronger than any of his other pokémon. If that was his ace, no wonder Lillia was so excited. She had more trouble with that than either of his water-types so far.”

Several minutes later and the show returned, Devin back on the screen. “Welcome back to the show!” he exclaimed. “What an exciting back and forth match this has been, hasn’t it? I bet you all can see why we were so interested in these two youngsters now, am I right? It looks like Lillia’s pokémon are completely out-speeding and overpowering Adam’s as if there were no type disadvantage at all! But it’s just about to get interesting. Can Adam make a comeback? Why don’t we find out! Let’s get back to the battle!” And with that, the previous shot of the trainers’ expressions was shown side-by-side, and the battle resumed.

Vixen also managed to take out Adam’s next pokémon, an octillery, by repeatedly pulling off a surprising energy ball, a grass-type attack that the octopus just couldn’t dodge. Adam turned the tables with Lillia’s own strengths after that; her vulpix was finally brought down by Adam’s seadra, who simply out-sped and overpowered the little fox. Lillia sent out a charizard next, who seemed to be more interested in her surroundings than her opponent. After the longest battle so far, Etna managed to bring down the seadra with a powerful solar beam, another grass-type attack. Unfortunately for Lillia, Adam’s final pokémon was his true ace, which turned out to be not his primeape, but a rather bored-looking gyarados, who dispatched of Etna with a few crushing slams of its watery tail.

But when the camera panned to the trainer’s box, Lillia smirked as she pulled out her final pokéball. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before hurling it very animatedly into the arena, calling out her pokémon by name, where it opened to reveal Dante the magmar. He calmly glared up his foe, who looked more bored than ever with his new opponent. As both pokémon stared each other down, the show cut to commercials again.

“Where did she get a magmar?” Kimiko said, surprised. “There’s no volcano around Vidiva that I know of.”

“Who knows,” Alex answered. “She’s handed out quite a few surprises this battle so far. Who knew her vulpix could use a grass-type move? Charizard, sure, but a vulpix?”

“I guess you’re not the only one of us that did any special training with their team,” Kimiko commented.

“Guess not,” Alex replied. “I wonder how she’s going to get out of this, though. Magmar’s moves are mostly fire-type, and there’s not a lot it can really do against a virtually undamaged gyarados. A solid aqua tail or two could end it.”

Another few minutes of speculation later and Devin Sinclair returned to the screen again. “And we’re back! I bet you all are just dying to know what happens next, am I right? Well, you’ll be happy to know that we’ll be showing you the full final battle, with no edits or narration! Just the pure, original, unedited footage, every exciting moment, every breath and plea of the trainers, every single attack by their pokémon! Here’s how we stand: both trainers, their best, their strongest, and their final pokémon on the field, neither of them damaged or tired in the least, ready to tear each other apart! Hang on to your seats, pokémon fans, this one’s like nothing you’ve seen this far! Let’s get to it!”

The screen changed to the previous shot of the magmar and gyarados staring each other down. As soon as the flag was waved, Adam’s gyarados launched a dragon rage towards Dante and then turned his attention to the crowd.

Lillia wanted until the attack was almost on top of her pokémon before responding. “Fire Blast!” she ordered; where previously the only voices were the stadium commentators, now the voices of the trainers had been left in. Dante leapt straight up, just narrowly avoiding the blast, and let loose a barrage of flames at the gyarados.

“Gyarados, look out!” Adam called frantically to his pokémon, who was paying Dante no attention, possibly thinking his attack had already knocked his opponent out. The great sea dragon turned his head around just in time to catch a face-full of fire. Lillia ordered a feint attack as Dante fell back to the ground; her magmar vanished in a sudden cloud of dark purple energy, reappearing out of a similar energy surge below the gyarados’s head. The dragon’s eyes were still squeezed shut as the last of the fire faded; there was no time to react as Dante shot upward out of the opening and rammed himself hard into the gyarados’s jaw. As the gyarados roared, more in rage than from pain, Dante disappeared into another energy surge, reappearing safely on the ground.

“Aqua tail, right below you!” Adam ordered. His pokémon obeyed, randomly thrashing the ground around him with his tail, now in a semi-liquid state, however all he accomplished was cracking the arena floor and crushing a boulder or two; Dante had retreated a safe distance as soon as the order was given.

Neither Lillia nor Dante made a move as they watched Adam try to calm down the rampaging gyarados. The younger trainer was clearly losing his nerve; he hadn’t expected the battle to go this badly, and talking to his raging beast was about as effective as striking a rhydon’s horn with lightning. He decided perhaps simply declaring another strike would satisfy his pokémon. “Hyper beam!” he called.

“Double team,” Lillia countered, swiftly but calmly. Adam’s gyarados seemed to accept an order for destruction and launched the vibrant orange beam of energy with gusto. Again, Dante waited until the attack was almost upon him before reacting, moving so fast that he became a blur as he created two illusionary copies of himself. The pure energy of the hyper beam attack created a massive explosion as it crashed right through one of the copies and into the dirt.

The failed attack was too much for the gyarados – it was pissed. Even as Adam tried to beg, the gyarados cloaked himself in blue-green dragon flames and hurled himself at Dante, his rage taking over. Lillia visibly tensed and shot a look at her pokémon, but Dante stood his ground, his expression as blank as ever, so she forced herself to relax. These were the kinds of situations she’d learned it was better to trust Dante, to leave her pokémon to his own instincts, despite her own instincts demanding her to react. Still, though, she couldn’t help but feel a bit of paranoia as the gyarados drew nearer – she gripped at the railing in front of her and leaned over it, bouncing on her tiptoes, unable to remain still while she waited for her magmar to do something!

The battle ended all in a matter of seconds. Dante vanished into a familiar cloud of purple energy just as the gyarados exploded onto the scene, dragon fire erupting everywhere. Unable to control himself after the landing, the sea dragon continued to skid along the ground a short distance where he collided with the arena wall, nearly causing Lillia to topple out of her trainer’s box. Meanwhile, Dante reappeared atop the gyarados’ head, despite the dragon flames from the outrage attack still dancing around his body. With a spark in his fist, Dante jabbed hard at the gyarados’ skull, sending a surge of electricity through his body. The beast cried out, whether in rage, pain, or both, until the magmar withdrew his fist and jumped from his perch to the arena floor. The dragon fire began to die out as the gyarados’ eyes closed and unconsciousness took him.

The referee waved his flag and declared gyarados knocked out. The screen then changed to briefly show Lillia celebrating on her little podium before Devin returned to the spotlight. “Well, wasn’t that a shocker!? A tough break for the youngster Adam, who’s gyarados was just a little too overconfident. And so, the fire-type specialist defeats the water trainer! What an exciting match! Lillia and her magmar certainly have an intriguing battle style! When we return from the break, we’ll analyze both of these two trainers and their pokémon, from their best moves to their –”

Devin was cut off as Kimiko turned off the TV. “Poor Adam,” she said.

Alex raised an eyebrow at her. “Not the reaction I was expecting,” he said. “That magmar of hers is a piece of work. But you’re right, I guess, shame his gyarados didn’t listen.”

“A thirteen-year-old with a gyarados… that alone is pretty impressive. But you would think he would have trained it before using it in a tournament like this.”

“I’m sure he did. Gyarados aren’t known for their people skills. So, why did you turn that off, anyway? It wasn’t over.”

“You’re going to bed,” Kimiko said with a smile. “If Lillia can beat a whole team with a type disadvantage, it should be a cinch for you to beat Nyra with only one. And you’re going to get a good night’s rest so that you’re ready for it.”

“Someone’s inspired,” Alex replied with a smile of his own.

Kimiko only laughed, pulling the covers over the two of them. “Alright, let’s go, bed time. Now.”

“Why do gyms have these ridiculous puzzles, anyway?” Kimiko complained, her voice slightly distorted by Alex’s pokédex.

She was watching from the stands as Alex spent the last twenty minutes shuffling through the tall grass inside the Blossom Town gym, searching for the leader’s pokémon. According to Nyra, all Vidiva’s gyms, as with every other region, have some special quirk to them in addition to just a battle. Being (traditionally) the first gym trainers compete against, Nyra’s puzzle wasn’t too complicated: Her team of six was released into the tall grass, and whatever three the challenger was able to locate first was the team Nyra would use in battle. So far, the Alex hadn’t discovered a single one.

“Not sure,” Alex replied in an irritated whisper, hoping Nyra didn’t notice the active call in his pocket. “I would guess it’s just some additional test to show you that there’s more to working with pokémon than just battles, but a lot of them don’t even let you use pokémon.”

“Well, I think it’s pointless,” Kimiko continued. “All it does is waste time. You don’t even know what we’re looking for. Not that I’d be allowed to tell you if I’d even seen any of them.”

“She has an oddish,” Alex pointed out, remembering from their last visit the reason Nyra had been in the grass herself.

“We don’t even know if it’s part of her main team though,” Kimiko countered.

“Maybe we’re going about this all wrong,” Alex said, his own words coming back to him. He hadn’t been told he had to do the challenge alone... He reached for a pokéball on his belt and tossed it to the ground in front of him, where Thorn emerged in a flash of white light. She stared confused at her surroundings for a second before glancing to her trainer.

“Can you sense any other pokémon in the area?” he asked. Thorn closed her eyes and tried to focus, sniffing at the air, but whined in disappointment.

“Don’t worry about it, then. Just cut down some of this grass.”

Thorn squealed happily before firing off a razor leaf directly ahead of them. The leaves cut down quite a bit of grass, but it was so thick that they died short of reaching the end. Thorn frowned and launched another flurry.

A sharp cry caused the chikorita to jump. Looking ahead, Alex saw a small, round, navy blue pokémon sitting in the dirt. The three leaves on its head appeared to have been shaved off by Thorn’s attack.

“Finally,” Alex said. “There’s her oddish.”

“Well, most of it,” Kimiko said, half amused and half sorry for the creature. The oddish glared at Thorn before turning and diving back into the tall grass. Above them, on a screen that extended over where the battlefield was, an image of the oddish appeared in one of three empty squares, signifying that it had been found.

“One down,” Kimiko said. “On the bright side, at least you’ll get to see what Nyra’s going to be using.”

“Hopefully I’ll be able to actually use that to my advantage,” Alex replied. He turned his attention to Thorn and pointed to his left. “Okay, let’s try razor leaf this way, now.”

It took another ten minutes to discover any more pokémon after oddish. Nyra’s team had apparently caught on to Alex’s strategy and began moving around rather than sit and wait, until there was only a small section of grass left. The first of Nyra’s remaining pokémon to be revealed was what looked like six pink eggs that came rolling out of the grass towards them. Following that, one last razor leaf revealed the rest of Nyra’s team, including a healthy looking bulbasaur, a mushroom-like shroomish, a rather plump grovyle, and a timid-looking deerling.

“Okay, so now what happens?” Alex questioned. “Do I get to pick which of the last four I want to fight?” The giant screen answered his question for him, however, as the second box lit up with the image of an exeggcute, followed by that of the bulbasaur.

Nyra walked towards them. “Bulbasaur was the first one detected by the camera, so he’ll be the third,” she said, recalling the shroomish, grovyle, and deerling. “So, are you ready?” she added with a wink.

“Where’d that confidence come from?” Kimiko asked no one in particular in a jealous whisper. “She couldn’t even speak clearly the last time.”

Alex followed Nyra to the battlefield, recalling Thorn as he went. The battlefield was a standard size arena, complete with white painted lines indicating each side’s boundaries, with the small exception that the field was sitting on grass rather than dirt.

“Okay,” Nyra said. “Since this is the first gym, it won’t get too complicated. So basically, from here on out it’s just a simple three-on-three standard battle. Switching is allowed for the challenger. Okay?”

“Right,” Alex replied. “Ready when you are.”

“Oddish, go!” Nyra cheered, tossing a pokéball to the field. The little blue weed pokémon appeared in a flash of white, still looking rather ticked off about having its leaves cut off. “Oh my, what have you done to her?” Nyra cried out, seeing her pokémon’s peril.

“Er… let’s do this, Koyomi,” Alex said with uncertainty, throwing his own pokéball and releasing his staryu.

Nyra smirked slightly at his pokémon choice before opening the battle. “I see you went and found a water-type after all. Oddish, acid attack!”

“Move, Koyomi! Tackle it!”

Koyomi was easily faster than Oddish. The starfish waited until the blue pokémon launched a steaming glob of yellow-orange poison towards it before diving to the side and then flying through the air like a boomerang right into the oddish.

“Oddish, stun spore!” Nyra called. Her pokémon obeyed before even bothering to right itself. From what remained of her head leaves shot a cloud of fine green dust. Koyomi, however, had already shot herself back across the field.

Without missing a beat, Nyra gave another command: “Slow it down with sweet scent!”

“What’s that?” Kimiko asked, loud enough to be heard from the stands. Her answer came through example, as a pleasant smell drifted around the arena.

“Koyomi, don’t breathe it in! Uh, water gun! Maybe try to clear the air!”

Alex wasn’t even sure if staryu breathed at all. He silently cursed however when Koyomi visibly relaxed and began to slump, completely forgetting to attack while caught up in a daze.

“Stun spore again,” Nyra ordered. Oddish sprang into action immediately, blowing another sparkling green dust could at her opponent. Despite Alex’s protests, Koyomi made no motion to avoid it and was completely covered in the powder. Alex grunted; speed was Koyomi’s only advantage in this battle. Without that, the starfish was more of a liability.

“Oddish, use mega drain!” Nyra shouted, pressing her advantage.

“Koyomi, avoid it!” Alex pleaded, while his pokémon’s opponent conjured a glowing green energy orb. If this hit, whatever little damage Koyomi had inflicted would be rendered moot.

“There’s the healing move you were afraid of,” Kimiko noted, oh-so-helpfully.

His plea was answered. Koyomi just managed to cartwheel to the side as Oddish’s pale green orb crashed into the grass where the water pokémon had been seconds before and fizzled out.

Nyra opened her mouth to issue another command but Alex raised his pokéball first and recalled Koyomi to safety, telling his pokémon to heal itself as he did so, hoping her natural cure ability would counter the paralysis if he gave her enough time to rest. He hesitated slightly before picking his next pokémon. His first thought was to send in Diamond, as Thorn had a weakness to Oddish’s poison-type moves. However, knowing one of Nyra’s reserves was the half-psychic exeggcute, he debated holding his dark-type back. Diamond’s willingness to obey commands was shaky at best, to boot. His hand hovered over Thorn’s pokéball momentarily before changing his mind. He was at a serious disadvantage and needed to get on the offensive, not fall back on more defense. Now wasn’t the time to start second-guessing.

“You’re on, Diamond,” he called, tossing the ghost’s pokéball out. The sableye hissed menacingly as he eyed his opponent, though it appeared to be due to the light rather than the oddish.

Alex knew from the battle in the forest his sableye was able to use moves far beyond his experience level would suggest. He pulled out his pokédex to determine exactly what moves Diamond could use. He wanted to be sure he remembered them all, in case he needed to pull out something unusual.

Without an order, Diamond launched a night shade from his gem eyes at his foe. “Hey, wait –” Alex started; already Diamond was starting to disobey. Nyra countered by ordering another sweet scent; however, this time the move seemed to have no effect. Diamond’s two beams of purple energy blasted the oddish into the greenhouse wall behind Nyra.

“Power gem,” Alex commanded as oddish struggled to walk back to her place. He wanted to keep Diamond out of reach of Oddish’s spores. From the gems on his stomach and his eyes, Diamond shot several green, blue, and red blasts of light that tore through the oddish, who collapsed with a high-pitched cry.

“Good job Oddish, now return,” Nyra said as oddish was drawn back into her pokéball in a flash of red light. Nyra quickly picked a second pokéball and threw it, shouting, “Go, bulbasaur!”

Nyra’s second pokémon emerged in a flash. She wasted no time issuing a leech seed. Her bulbasaur responded obediently, a small seed emerging from the bright green bulb on his back and forcefully shooting it towards Diamond.

Alex cursed. Another healing technique. “Can you do shadow ball?” he asked his pokémon, more of a question than an order. Of course he could; he’d used that move in the forest, too. Diamond, however, launched two purple beams from his eyes in response. “No, that’s night shade,” he said, wondering in the back of his mind exactly how a pokémon knew what human name corresponded to what attack.

“Eyeye,” his sableye responded, waving a hand back at him.

He didn’t have time to wonder for long, however, as his attention was drawn back to the seed that had struck Diamond and proceeded to release glowing red vines of energy all around him. Bulbasaur, meanwhile, was struck by Diamond’s incorrect attack anyway and topped onto his side. He didn’t seem too injured however, as the vines around Diamond snaked along the ground and around his foot, feeding him energy from his opponent.

“Cut those vines, Diamond! Shadow claw!”

“Sleep powder!”

Try as he might, Diamond was completely held in place by the vines, unable to free a hand to cut himself free. Bulbasaur let out a triumphant cry as he released a bright green dust cloud into the air, which hovered and settled all over the dark-type. Diamond’s jewel eyes flickered and slowly grew dim, and he fell unceremoniously backwards.

“Return,” Alex said, recalling his sableye with a frown. He’d been counting on Diamond to win this battle for him, and although being put to sleep wasn’t an official knockout, he was essentially still out of commission, as was Koyomi if her paralysis didn’t heal in time. At least now he knew how to tell when his sableye was awake. He hesitated only a second before gripping his next pokéball.

“Go for it, Thorn!” he shouted as his pokéball opened and his starter materialized before him.

Nyra seemed a little disappointed; Alex guessed she had been hoping to use leech seed to heal her bulbasaur again, which would be useless against another grass-type. “Vine whip,” she called out.

“Reflect!” Alex countered.

Two vines erupted from underneath bulbasaur’s seed and flung themselves at his foe. The chikorita was quicker to set up a defense though, and the vines smashed uselessly against the pale-yellow bubble of solid light that had sprung up around her.

“Poison powder!” Nyra shouted.

“Er… Thorn, try to blow it away with your leaf!” Alex called desperately. He had once seen an older pokémon perform similar defensive tactics before while at the lab, but he had never practiced this and was unsure Thorn could move fast enough. He wasn’t disappointed; Thorn spun the leaf on her head rapidly, though she appeared to have some slight trouble keeping it spinning steadily, but it was enough to keep Bulbasaur’s purple poison cloud at bay.

“Get up close with take down, then try again!” Nyra ordered after a slight pause.

“Don’t let it hit you, Thorn! Move then tackle it!”

Bulbasaur lowered his head, and with a cry, charged at Thorn. The chikorita crouched in her typical defensive stance until bulbasaur was nearly right in front of her, then leapt to her right; Bulbasaur collided with her curved reflect shield at an awkward angle and rebounded onto his side. Thorn took her chance and lunged, ramming into her opponent’s underbelly harshly. Bulbasaur cried out in pain and tumbled a few meters away.

Nyra bit her lip. “Tackle attack,” she ordered, starting to sound unsure.

“Razor leaf, fast!” Alex countered.

Before bulbasaur had even stumbled to his feet, Thorn sent a flurry of sharp leaves at him with a flick of her head leaf. The blue poison-type growled as the leaves sliced open his skin and he collapsed again.

“Return, bulbasaur!” Nyra called, and her tired pokémon was drawn back into his ball.

“Two down and one to go!” Kimiko called from behind Alex, who just nodded in reply. That was the first time the thought had actually occurred to him: he hadn’t officially lost a pokémon yet. He was winning.

“Okay, exeggcute, go!” Nyra shouted with notably less enthusiasm and more worry. Her pokémon emerged with a determined cry nonetheless.

“Let’s win it, Thorn. Razor leaf!”

“Exeggcute, use barrage!”

Thorn was only slightly faster, having heard her command first, and flicked some sharp leaves towards the pink eggs. The exeggcute responded by forming tiny black bullet-sized specks in mid-air in front of them before sending them towards their foe. Guiding them with their limited psychic powers, Exeggcute’s assault knocked down each and every one of Thorn’s leaves.

“Again!” Nyra called, now looking worried.

“Tackle it!” Alex responded.

Thorn immediately charged her enemy even as the exeggcute created more tiny, bullet-like black specks and shot them at her. The attack didn’t even slow Thorn, bouncing off her reflect as though they were nothing but harmless raindrops. She rammed herself hard into the six eggs and they scattered in separate directions with a cry.

“Poison powder, straight upward!” Alex called, a sudden spark if inspiration hitting him. His grass-type looked at him curiously for a minute before spinning her leaf once again and creating her own cloud of fine purple dust. She darted way before any of it could fall back down on her just as the exeggcute was beginning to cluster up – directly under the poison dust. Thorn bounded back towards her side of the field as Alex was about to issue another order, but Nyra cut him off.

“Wait… I surrender.”

Alex looked at her questioningly, and even her own exeggcute, once they’d gathered again, turned to her and began hopping and chanting in protest.

“There’s not much you can do,” she said, directing her explanation at her exeggcute. “You might be able to defeat the chikorita with confusion, but you can’t do anything but leech seed against his sableye, and the staryu would be too fast for you. In the end you would just be worn out by the poison. There’s no need for that.” She recalled her final pokémon with a sad smile, though the exeggcute didn’t bother trying to hide their disappointment. She then turned her attention to Alex. “You win,” she said, her face slightly red.

Thorn bounded up to her trainer happily as Nyra began to walk towards them. Alex knelt down and picked up his pokémon, thanking and congratulating her several times as Kimiko came up next to him and proceeded to do the same. Nyra reached behind her apron into a shirt pocket as she approached and held out her hand, a small metallic-looking green object shaped like a rose petal in her palm.

“Well…” she began, her face redder than earlier and refusing to make eye contact. “Um, this is the petal badge,” she said nervously. “I, um… that was really well planned. Congratulations.”

Alex didn’t have the heart to tell her that the battle hadn’t gone at all how he’d originally intended it would. Instead, he took the badge and said, “Thanks Nyra, it wasn’t easy. You’re pretty good yourself. It’s no wonder you’re a gym leader.” The girl looked at her feet and smiled.

“Well, um…” Nyra started, turning to Kimiko. “I don’t have the time to re-grow the grass before another battle, so… would you be okay just battling my remaining three instead of doing the puzzle?”

“And not have to wait another half hour? Yeah, sure. Let’s do it.”


Cosmic Guardian
The Circle
  1. luxio
Hey there, finally reviewing this for my half of the exchange! Sorry for the delay.

The chikorita nodded in acknowledgement and begun to rapidly spin her leaf
Hey, Chikorita! Awesome, I always had a soft spot for this line.
small glowing green seed made of grass-type energy formed at the tip.
I've never thought of Leech Seed's seeds being... not actual seeds. Your concept of it being energy instead is really creative!
Especially one that’s supposed to be given as a starter to a new trainer
Oh, is Chikorita gonna be a starter? Cool.
Cynthia’s milotic exploded – there was really no other way to describe it – spilling blood everywhere
Ha, take that!
I’ve chosen chikorita,”

Alright, sorry for the short review, but I did enjoy this! I'm admittedly not very used to reading actual trainerfic so I might have to get used to the human side of things. But from just chapter one, I enjoy the descriptions and characterization here. Good job!


Flygon connoisseur
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
  6. joltik
  7. salandit
  8. tyrantrum
Alright, some brief thoughts! Good chapter! A lot of new catches, wow. The part with those two edgelord gym leaders with very specific names was rather sus, although its cool how they can seemingly talk to ghost types. Alex and Kimiko were cute together and I really like reading their interactions.

“I washed my clothes while I was in the shower,” Kimiko explained with a shy smile, seeing Alex’s reflection blush in the mirror.
Normally this is the part where I roll my eyes, but since they've been together awhile and are already dating, it comes off as cute and sweet!

“Seriously?” Alex grimaced. “An eeveelution? That’s not very original.”

“They’re adorable!” Kimiko shot back, a little hurt. “Besides, they’re psychic-types. How cool would that be?”
lol, I like when people talk like this. It makes the world feel a little more 'realistic' I guess? Like of course someone would be like 'eeveelutions are unoriginal'. It's amusingly self-aware.

“My name is Phobos, and this is my brother, Deimos. We run the pokémon gym in Phantom Village, in the forest to the west.”
Okay but does someone in pokemon get the name because of the gym or get the gym because of the name? ;P

Shadow claw and power gem… and he knows recover, too… how does a wild sableye know such advanced techniques? He’s at too low a level to learn them naturally… unless he was bred and released, maybe?
Sus. Plot Sableye? Definitely up to something.

Guess Nyra was right, there really are rare water pokémon around here! Go get it, Thorn!”
Huh! Staryu are rare here? Interesting!

The clamperl roared with laughter as the mudkip began to cry.
>:{ Poor bby Mudkip aww. I feel so bad for him!

“You must have caught it when you dropped that pokéball.”
Ah HAH. Knew it. I had almost forgotten about this too but this was a pretty funny way to bring it back up.

“Oh,” was all Kimiko could reply with.
Because shes Fine, right?

“Well, now I need to find names for these two also, don’t I?”
Literally the hardest part of being a trainer. Idk if I could do it... Names! Names are hard lol.

As it turns out, with the aid of the shiny beedrill, the pair managed to get to their original destination, confirmed by the nurse on duty as Blossom Town, site of the first pokémon gym in Vidiva.
Oh! This one line did make me a little confused though. Did the Shiny Beedrill reappear and lead them to the town? Or was this just a reference back to its directions in the previous chapter?

Anyways thats all to say for now! I can't wait to read more.


Flygon connoisseur
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
  6. joltik
  7. salandit
  8. tyrantrum
Quick thoughts!

A slow paced chapter, but not devoid of important happenings. We get to see a taste of each of their pokemon in action, which was cool. I have to say, I'm surprised that the Clampearl was so skilled, and that Diamond surrendered! Impressive!

The star of the fic continues to be the small interactions and dialogue Kimiko and Alex share. They're both so sweet and its fun to read, rather than groan inducing. (I'm just really tired of flash romances happening in 2 seconds so having them already be a couple delights me ok)

“Kanto has, at the very least, ten pokémon gyms
Intrigue! So you've observed the other gyms, as well as mentioned Gary Oak. I always liked the idea of there being a few extra gyms.

“Couldn’t sleep either, huh?” he asked in a low voice.

“Eye,” Diamond grunted
When I first read this I did a huge double take because I thought Sableye either spoke out loud or you plot twisted to reveal that Alex can speak to ghosts. Lol, it was a fun moment.

on throwing a much power
as much power?

Thats the only teensy typo I noticed.

Also Alex is right. Those gym leaders are ultra sus.


Flygon connoisseur
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
  6. joltik
  7. salandit
  8. tyrantrum
Oh man I think chapter 6 is actually one of my favorite chapters, specifically for that battle in the beginning! From the get go we knew that Lillia was going to win, so the real fun was in discovering how she would win. I have to say, I was like, super excited to see, not sure why. I guess I have a thing for really unusual match ups, like Fire vs Water.

Straight to some line by lines now.

Devin Sinclair, known to most in Vidiva as a member of the region’s Elite Four.
I really like this name, it feels very pokemon-esque!

a single white streak near her right eye
Edgelord!!!! ;P. Seriously though I like the idea of trainers doing stuff to stand out

young boy, no more than age thirteen at the most, with short red hair,
Does he train fire types because he had red hair or did he get red hair because he trains fire types :thinkface:

In addition, torkoal were naturally slow and worked well that way, effectively rendering floatzel’s amazing speed advantage moot.
THIS. THIS PART!!! THIS BIT GOT ME. I literally never would have thought to frame the fight in this context. Torkoal was a good choice because it was slow. Torkoal is used to always being the slowest so OF COURSE its the logical choice against a really fast pokemon! This felt like genius-level realization and just. It's my favorite tidbit of the entire fight and so well thought and works so well.

GAH! I love it.

Zuko had released a massive earthquake attack that KO’d the water-type before it could fire.
I love that you named Torkoal Zuko omg. Also heckin good.

And with that, the previous shot of the trainers’ expressions was shown side-by-side, and the battle resumed.
I dig how theatrical the tv announcer did this. I bet it looks like the games. :3

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before hurling it very animatedly into the arena, calling out her pokémon by name, where it opened to reveal Dante the magmar.
eehehe, more of trainers being extra. I like.

Here’s how we stand: both trainers, their best, their strongest, and their final pokémon on the field, neither of them damaged or tired in the least, ready to tear each other apart! Hang on to your seats, pokémon fans, this one’s like nothing you’ve seen this far! Let’s get to it!”
I enjoyed this piece of dialogue with how you wrote the the announcer! Very dramatic!

with his tail, now in a semi-liquid state,
Huh! So the way you write aqua tail, it actually turns the tail into water? Interesting...

“You’re on, Diamond,” he called,
Huh! I woulda gone with Thorn! Looks like things turn out ok though!

Anyways, I really enjoyed this chapter and some of the battle stuff, particularly that Torkoal thing. I never woulda thought about using the slowest pokemon to combat the speedy one.


  1. sableye
Alright, gonna post a couple more chapters, but first, the replies I've been sitting on:

I really like this name, it feels very pokemon-esque!
Glad you think so! There's also some meanings behind the names of my E4 and champ, and a couple of the gym leaders. I'm not very good at names in general, but I think I did well enough with these.

Edgelord!!!! ;P. Seriously though I like the idea of trainers doing stuff to stand out
Hah, not what she was going for, but she wouldn't complain, either, hah.

Does he train fire types because he had red hair or did he get red hair because he trains fire types :thinkface:
...Oh. Oh. LOL I legit did not honestly even consider that. My thought process was "let's see, I've only had one redhead appear so far, let's make this kid one."

THIS. THIS PART!!! THIS BIT GOT ME. I literally never would have thought to frame the fight in this context. Torkoal was a good choice because it was slow. Torkoal is used to always being the slowest so OF COURSE its the logical choice against a really fast pokemon! This felt like genius-level realization and just. It's my favorite tidbit of the entire fight and so well thought and works so well.
Glad you caught this one, too! It's hard to make battles stand out in fics, and I'm happy with how this one turned out. When you're facing a team of waters with only fire-types, you gotta use whatever advantage you can get!

I love that you named Torkoal Zuko omg. Also heckin good.
Probably won't be the only reference as we go!

I dig how theatrical the tv announcer did this. I bet it looks like the games. :3
I was actually trying to frame it more how the anime might do it. Battling is seen as a sport, so I tried to play it up like a sporting event. It's probably shot at different angles and such.

Huh! So the way you write aqua tail, it actually turns the tail into water? Interesting...
Kind of? It's like... the water-type energy infuses into the tail. I didn't want to go with the "actually turning into water" thing because that poses an entirely new set of problems like "why wouldn't it just turn its whole body into water to avoid attacks/being seen?" and the whole "having water swirl around the tail" is just a fancy way of saying "you got crushed by a giant appendage. Oh, and you got a little wet from it, too."

Anyway, sorry this is so late, but thanks for your thoughts!
Chapter 7 - The Champion


  1. sableye
So, I'm not going to make a habit out of posting notes here the way I do on FFN and such, but I did want to point out that this chapter contains major spoilers for Pedestal, in case anyone cares about that. It's old and chances are you've at least heard of it.

Chapter 7 – The Champion

“I think it’s time we brought this to the attention of the champion,” the flat male voice said to his accomplice across the table. The room was dark, and both parties wore cloaks, the hoods hiding their faces despite being the only two people in the small room, as if to hide their expressions from each other. This was made easier due to the fact that the only illumination came from the few lampent scattered around the room and the litwick on the table they were seated at, carefully trying to avoid burning the stacks of papers around her. This, of course, was how the two humans liked it.

“The champion? Are you mad?” replied the female across from him.

“We need stronger trainers, you said so yourself. Tell me, who is stronger than the champion?”

“Yes, we need stronger trainers. But the champion? We’re not ready for her yet. Besides, do we really want all that publicity?”

“This is going to get out one way or another,” the male said, his annoyance evident in his voice. “It can’t be kept a secret forever. I think it best to bring it to the public’s attention before they find out about it on their own. They might start sending in more people to investigate this way.”

“We can accomplish that just by asking a researcher. Or, if you insist, present it to one of the higher ranked gym leaders. We don’t need the most powerful trainer in the region for this yet.” The female shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

“Perhaps need is too strong a word. But it would speed the entire process along, would it not?”

“Of course it would speed it up, but I’m not convinced that your impatience is worth bringing the champion into the equation so soon.”

“Well, I am. We either need a few elite trainers or an army of average ones. If we can get the champion, no doubt even the elite four will be unable to ignore it. And I’m tired of waiting while you second-guess every action. I am sorry, sister, but we can’t afford to wait any longer.”

While her brother’s voice rose the more agitated he became, her reply was cold, calm, and calculated. “We have all time we need. But if you insist, I’m tired of arguing about it. I just hope you know what you’re doing.”

The sun had not even risen yet when the crobat returned to his trainer’s home, an enormous, beautiful mansion at the heart of Araka Island. That was how he liked it, though. The large window with the awning over the top at the highest point of the building had been installed specifically for him, out of his trainer’s own pocket money. Not that money was much of a concern to her. He glided through the open window effortlessly and landed on his perch, immediately flipping himself upside-down in preparation for sleep. It was only then that he noticed his trainer not in her bed far below him. Before he could right himself and take off in search, her voice echoed through the large room from somewhere outside his vision.

“Good morning, Crobat. Did you have a nice hunt?”

Crobat detached himself and opened his wings as he fell, gliding himself down to where he spotted his trainer sitting at her desk. He wondered briefly why she was alone in the dark at this time of day; she normally didn’t wake for hours after he returned from his nightly hunts. From what he could tell, she wasn’t working on anything either. If she had been on that big screen with the buttons in front, its light would have given him a harder time seeing when he came in. But he could see just fine so the machine must be off, and he knew that humans didn’t have very good eyesight in the dark. She looked like she was just sitting there, her face buried in her palms. Nevertheless, he nestled himself in her crimson-red hair as he landed, and responded happily, “Cro, cro.”

The girl wore nothing but a simple white t-shirt and silky light blue pajama bottoms – she had probably recently been asleep. Crobat was used to her waist-length hair being tied up somehow, usually in a tall ponytail or something similar, but at the moment it was down over the back of the chair she was sitting in, messy and sticking up in places, so he kept sliding backwards. He coughed a strand out of his mouth as he tried to lean forwards to see her chocolate brown eyes, but she still had them shielded by her hands.

“That’s good,” she said. Her smile was evident in her voice, but there was also obvious exhaustion and something else that Crobat couldn’t place right away. As if reading his mind, the girl asked him, “You didn’t see Venomoth on your way home, did you?”

Crobat was immediately in the air again, heading towards the window. “Cro,” he said, now understanding the concern in her voice. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence, at least not to him, but if she wanted Venomoth home, he would go find her. He made to fly out and search for her, but his trainer’s voice stopped him.

“No, it’s okay, Crobat. I was just curious. I’m sure she’s just having a good time. She’s just as tough as you, if a little more frail. I just worry about you all, especially when you’re off on your own while I’m asleep. But I know you can handle yourselves. It’s just… stressing.”

Crobat flew back down and landed next to his trainer. It was odd, he agreed, for Venomoth to not be home before he was, but it had happened before; his trainer was just usually sleeping when they both arrived and never noticed. It was also true that tonight, he himself was home slightly earlier than he normally would be. She turned in her chair to look at him and put a hand on his head. There were those brown eyes – though most people probably wouldn’t be able to see them in the dark, Crobat had no trouble making eye contact.

“Maybe I’ll just go take a shower and head out somewhere for breakfast today,” she said with a sigh, talking to herself. “I’m not going to be able to get back to sleep and at this time, it wouldn’t be worth it. Go ahead and sleep, we don’t have any scheduled battles today. I do have some publicity stunt scheduled for three though… shoot, I’m going to look like a zombie… Well, I’m glad you had a good night.” With one last smile, the girl stood up and stumbled through the dark to the bedroom door, fumbled for a moment trying to find the knob, opened it, and dragged herself down the hallway and out of sight. Crobat watched her until then, before returning to his perch. His trainer seemed more and more wiped out these days, though she insisted she was fine. He couldn’t help wondering what was causing this disturbing change. She’d never lied to the team before…

Sure enough, when she returned from her shower and hair and makeup and still wrapped in a towel an hour later, the sun had begun to rise and illuminate the room. She spotted her venomoth’s antennae sticking out from under her bed; that was where she liked to sleep when not in her pokéball. Looking up, she could just make out Crobat’s sleeping form near the ceiling as well. She smiled, relieved that her pokémon had both returned safely, and headed back to her desk to boot up her computer.

No emails yet. She let out a groan in frustration and buried her face in her hands once again. She had no idea just what she was supposed to be doing today and the League hadn’t yet informed her of the details, only that she was supposed to be showing up across the region in Xioria later that day for some kind of public meet-and-greet. The thought made her uncomfortable and she shivered. Not because she wasn’t used to the fame by now, but because Xioria was home to the region’s psychic-type gym, and therefore, several psychic pokémon and trainers. She knew her team was well equipped to combat them, and she certainly wasn’t expecting to have to defend herself. But psychic pokémon had made her uncomfortable long before she began training pokémon herself, and that had never changed. She laughed at how silly it was whenever she thought about it.

She spent the next twenty minutes lounging in her bed, distracting herself by reading her favorite romance novel. She was just getting to the good stuff when a ring from her pokédex interrupted her. She sighed, folded the corner of the page (though by now she’d read it so many times that most pages had bent corners and were hard to tell apart) and looked to see who could be bothering her so early. There weren’t many who had access to her personal number, and even fewer who’d need her before the sun was up short of some sort of emergency. She only answered the phone after seeing the name of one of the members of Vidiva’s elite four on her caller ID.

“Emily? What’s wrong?” she asked right away.

Oh! Nothing’s wrong, sorry Kirsten!” came Emily’s frantic voice. “I hope I didn’t wake you up.”

“No,” Kirsten replied. “I’ve been up for hours actually. Couldn’t sleep. It’s weird for you to be awake so soon though. What’s up?”

I’ll get right to it, then. I know you don’t have to be here for another two hours, but the gym leaders of Phantom Village are here asking to see you. They say you told them specifically to come to you and they won’t tell us what it’s about. I told them you weren’t here yet but they insist it’s important and refuse to come back later.”

Kirsten sighed. If Phobos and Deimos were at the League headquarters this early in the morning looking for her, whatever they found out couldn’t be good news. So much for breakfast, she thought to herself. “Yes, I told them to keep their mouths shut. I didn’t expect them to come all the way out here. Emily, they traveled across the region, would you want to be told to come back later if you were in their place? Is anyone else there yet?”

Vlad was up at the crack of dawn, as usual,” Emily said, not bothering to hide the edge in her voice. “But other than him, no. Which is a real pain because the three of them are at each other’s throats, and soon that’s going to be literally at the rate they’re going back and forth.

Kirsten quickly weighed her options. She had wanted to keep this incident a secret until she could assess the situation herself, lest the public find out and the region breaks out in a panic. But what could it hurt for the rest of the elite four to know about it as well? She made her decision on the spot.

“Alright. Then I’ll let you and Vlad sit in on the meeting so you both know what’s going on. If Blair or Devin get there before I do, keep them there and let them know we’re having a meeting. Whatever their plans are will have to wait. Tell the leaders I’m on my way.”

“You came all this way just to tell me you haven’t found anything?” Kirsten questioned, struggling to keep the frustration out of her voice. Dressed now in her champion’s outfit that her stylist designed for her – a yellow tank top covered by a very detailed, gold-embroidered, red cape, fingerless yellow gloves, form-fitting red bottoms with an almost solid gold belt, and crimson zip-up boots – she and the rest of the elite four gathered in the meeting room to listen to the Phantom gym’s leaders. She sat at the head of the table; the two male elites on her right, and the two females on her left. The gym leaders sat across from them.

“Essentially, yes,” Phobos replied, but before she could continue, her brother cut her off.

“We all know now that the ghosts of the Whispering Forest have been in an uproar recently,” Deimos said. “But that’s all we know. We went in to investigate, as you requested, champion. But the ghosts didn’t seem to even recognize us. Neither my sister nor I could calm them down long enough to get any information out of them. Our pokémon hardly had better luck.”

“There was one pokémon we did talk to,” Phobos added. Deimos shot her a sideways glance but quickly returned his gaze to the champion and her elites. “A couple of trainers camping in the forest captured a sableye in there within the last week. We spoke with the sableye; he claimed that he and his ghosts were acting in self-defense, saying the trainers had attacked some duskull that were a part of his gang. He claimed he has no explanation for the rest of the forest ghosts’ sudden aggressiveness.”

“Then that leaves us back at square one,” said the blond-haired, blue-eyed male to Kirsten’s immediate right. “That information doesn’t help at all.” He fidgeted with the navy tie around his neck in frustration and tried unsuccessfully to smooth the white tuxedo underneath.

“Unless the sableye was lying, Devin,” Kirsten replied.

“The ghosts have no reason to lie to us,” Deimos interjected as the lavender-haired female to Kirsten’s left tried to speak.

“So,” the dark-haired male next to Devin demanded, folding his arms over his black top and dark brown vest. “What do you propose as the next course of action, then?”

“Well, mister von Heist, my sister and I believe that the champion should look into this matter personally,” Deimos replied with a glare.

“And what good do you think that will do?” the man called von Heist demanded, slamming his palms on the table.

“Settle down, Vlad,” Kirsten said gently, giving him a glare. “He does raise a good point, though, however blunt,” she added, turning to address the gym leaders. “You two are Vidiva’s ghost experts. Why would I have any more luck getting the ghosts to cooperate than you?”

“You may not,” Deimos admitted. “For all the information we have, this may simply be a personal battle over territory or something internal. However, we must also take into consideration the recent disappearances.”

“What disappearances?” asked the long, lavender-haired girl in a long-sleeved shirt that could only be described as tie-dye.

“Don’t you watch the news, Blair?” Emily replied, pinching her nose, causing her glasses to slide down a little. She righted them and brushed her brown hair out of her blue eyes.

“No, ew,” Blair replied. “The news is boring.”

“Says the girl with a shirt that looks like a rainbow vomited on it and called it fashionable,” Emily said with a smirk and an eye roll. Devin giggled quietly as well though he quickly blushed and turned it into a cough.

“You’re one to talk,” Blair shot back, insulted. “You’re wearing next to nothing!” She waved her hand over Emily’s sleeveless, form-fitting lime green top that exposed her stomach and her short, dark green skirt.

“Ladies, please,” Kirsten said, hanging her head. She knew everyone was tired – so was she – but her elites seemed particularly quick to snap this morning. Blair huffed in defiance but stayed silent as Emily got the group back on track.

“A good dozen trainers have been reported missing in the last month,” she said.

“That’s nothing new,” Vlad said, crossing his arms again. “Trainers go missing all the time. I have always believed ten to be too young an age to be sending children into the world where there are creatures that can bend time and space to their will.” Emily nodded in agreement.

“Perhaps,” Deimos said, taking control again. “However, these recent disappearances have been increasing in number, and in less of a time frame. And not all of them were mere children fresh out on their journey.”

“How does this relate to the problem of the ghosts?” Kirsten asked. “It could just be a spike in kidnappings or something… worse, as Vlad suggests. They could have been killed and eaten by some wild pokémon. Which obviously is something we’ll have to deal with, of course, but the point is we don’t know anything, yet.”

“Of course. However, at least half of the recent missing persons had one thing in common.” Deimos gave a pause as all eyes save his sister’s looked to him in concern. He couldn’t help but put on a grimace. “All of the reports we have state that they were last seen in or around the Whispering Forest.”

“This, obviously, is what leads us to assume that the ghosts’ erratic behavior is somehow connected,” Phobos added.

“Trainers are starting to grow concerned,” Deimos continued. “I have already received questions about what we plan to do about the disappearances. The police are clearly in no state to go looking for anyone in a forest full of hostile spirits.”

“They never are, though, are they?” Vlad fumed. “They may have some pokémon, but they’re not equipped for something like this. They’re trained to stop criminals, burglaries, crimes of that nature.”

“Loathe as I am to agree with mister von Heist,” Deimos continued. “He is right. Therefore, it falls on us, the region’s trainers, to handle this crisis before it gets out of hand. And, furthermore, we can’t just leave it to any old trainer and hope it gets solved.”

Deimos stood up and grinned as he prepared to lay his cards on the table. “We must take care of this issue. And by that, I mean all of us. Gym leaders, elites, even you, champion. After all, this way the trainers cannot say we aren’t making an attempt… and after the events that took place in Sinnoh in recent years involving Nick Sayre and his followers, we believe it would be for the best not to take any chances and bring it straight to the top of the food chain, as it were.”

Phobos could barely keep her face steady. That was his plan to enlist the champion? She absolutely should have been informed beforehand; she must have twitched, but she could only hope no one noticed the brief moment of surprise in her eyes.

She tried to recall the events that took place in Sinnoh that happened over the course of several years: There had been a powerful, champion-bound trainer named Nick Sayre who lost his brother to a wild Abomasnow. He had been enraged, and most believed rightly so, because the gym leaders and the Sinnoh League had turned a blind eye towards the rampaging pokémon, who had been wildly attacking trainers long before his brother’s death, and claimed that if they had taken care of the aggressive pokémon when the reports started coming in, his brother would not have died. In a fit of rage, he brought his fight to Sinnoh’s champion herself, killing half of her team in the ensuing battle, in what would become known in Sinnoh as “The Champion’s Tragedy”.

The whole fight had been televised throughout Sinnoh, as there had been a battle for Cynthia’s title just moments before. Afterwards, Sayre’s rant had gathered him a legion of followers (albeit without his knowledge or consent) who rebelled, in Sayre’s name, against the Sinnohian gym leaders, elite four, and Cynthia, for their apparent lack of interest or ability to control their region and keep it safe. The revolt killed an unthinkable number of people on both sides, including several of Sinnoh’s original gym leaders, whom had to be replaced in a contest of sorts that also ended up been sabotaged several times by Sayre’s followers.

Eventually, Nick Sayre himself was killed during a confrontation with a former friend and slowly things calmed down, finally returning to something resembling normalcy about a year ago. During those years, pockets of similar rebellions cropped up in nearly all the other regions, though they never came close to anything more than localized incidents. Since the rebellion’s end it was mostly a hushed up topic in Vidiva, as one of its own gym leaders had probably come closer to death than anywhere else. And here was Deimos, proposing that it could happen again. And as Phobos studied the faces of her colleagues, she realized that her brother seemed to have struck a nerve.

“I’m going to have to agree,” Emily piped up, looking grim. “The last thing we need is some sort of fiasco like that here. The one in Sinnoh caused enough drama everywhere.”

“Exactly,” Phobos said, playing along. This was the path her brother set out; there was nothing else for it now. “This way, no one can accuse the gym leaders or the League of not taking action. Was it not you, champion, who made that announcement only hours after Sayre’s assault on Cynthia, and on your own terms despite the League’s opposition, declaring your promise for action in situations such as this?”

All eyes were on Kirsten, who had hers closed and her chin resting on her hands, deep in thought, remembering the drama that was brought to her own region during the entire debacle. After several minutes, she let out a deep breath, and then spoke.

“Yes, I did. Alright. I’ll see what I can do. The rest of you, assure anyone who asks that we’re already looking into the situation, both of them – the forest and the disappearances. In fact, Emily, why don’t you go make that a public announcement as well. The people need to be warned. I’ll start my investigation of the forest this evening. But first, I have a public appearance of my own. If you all will excuse me, I have a flight to catch.”

“We’re never going to reach Ferrum by nightfall,” Kimiko grumbled in frustration.

Kimiko managed to defeat Nyra after Alex’s battle, though only barely. Radar had been quickly defeated by the shroomish, and Fantomé managed to put up a fight, taking down Nyra’s grovyle, but had fallen to the deerling. Ariel only responded after taking repeated attacks, freezing the deerling solid with an ice beam. Kimiko hadn’t known Ariel could even use the move, though Ariel hadn’t done a single thing she’d ordered anyway.

Afterward, the duo decided to stay and have lunch at a local Blossom restaurant before leaving town, deciding if they had to camp the night, it was worth it in exchange for one proper meal. This particular diner had trained pokémon acting as waiters, most of them psychic-types for the ease of communication. It had been over an hour ago that the pair placed their orders, however, and their own pokémon were no more patient, though at least they were behaving now.

Of course, this was after Fantomé received a fierce scolding following an incident earlier in which he scared a family by hiding under their food tray so that when they lifted it up, he emerged and wailed at them all. Diamond thought it was a riot, smiling and laughing for the first time Alex could remember. Kimiko, however, was fiercely embarrassed and insisted on paying the family’s bill for them, considering her ghost scared the young children half to death and the mother into an asthma attack.

There was a sudden crash from across the building as someone dropped what sounded like a very full tray, followed by a lot of shouting. Several people got up to go investigate, but after one employee opened the kitchen doors and narrowly avoided a stray blast of fire from inside, most of them scattered and returned to their seats. A few customers ended up leaving the restaurant entirely.

It took another twenty minutes before a rather peeved-looking alakazam in a chef’s hat teleported to the pair’s table and set down a large tray covered with a metallic lid in front of them. “Your pokémon’s food is all inside as well,” the Alakazam said telepathically.

Alex had already lifted it and recoiled from the smell. He quickly looked over the food and said, “Er, we didn’t order any of this…”

DEAL WITH IT!” the Alakazam shouted, his moustache flaring, before teleporting back to the kitchens.

The two humans exchanged a glance before attempting to pick out anything still edible to feed to their teams.

The thick growth of trees blocked out even the smallest rays of moonlight in the forest. Kirsten could barely make out the path even with her flashlight. She had an ominous feeling of being watched, which was not entirely unjustified. Ghost pokémon, she knew, were all too fond of those kinds of tricks, and just because she couldn’t see them doesn’t mean they weren’t there. That didn’t excuse the lack of activity, however.

“You know, for all the gym leaders’ pleading, I was expecting a bit more… I don’t know, commotion,” she said aloud, more to herself than her pokémon. Her toxicroak croaked once but otherwise didn’t reply. Her drapion didn’t even acknowledge that she had spoken; he was too busy being grumpy at Toxicroak for riding on his tail, though he had agreed it was safer to have him watching their backs than to leave themselves vulnerable from behind. He just didn’t expect his teammate to be so heavy.

“This is ridiculous,” Kirsten said, stopping suddenly and pulling out a pokéball. “Come out, Venomoth.” The bug emerged in a burst of white and buzzed lazily by her side.

“I know it’s been a while, but do you still remember how to use flash?” Kirsten asked.

“Veno,” her pokémon replied. That was all the warning Kirsten got before her bug’s wings suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree star. She shielded her eyes with her arm, blinking the light away.

“Thanks for the warning,” she said half angrily, half thankful her pokémon still remembered the move. “Okay, listen up everyone. Drapion, this means you.” Her three pokémon turned to her, Drapion not looking too amused at being singled out. “We’re going to venture off the path from here and head directly to the heart of the forest. If we don’t find anything before we get to Phantom Village, then I’m calling it a night. You two,” she gestured to Drapion and Toxicroak, “keep playing lookout.” She then turned around and pointed forwards, trying to ignore the sudden chill she felt. She shivered anyway, gripped her cape, and wrapped her arms around herself. “After you, Venomoth.”

“That’s it,” Kimiko said angrily. “When we get to Ferrum, I’m buying warmer clothes.”

“You should have done that before we left Crescent,” Alex said, though he too wasn’t feeling terribly comfortable. “Or when I mentioned it in Blossom. As much as I love that outfit on you, it’s really not suited for camping.”

The pair left the restaurant and found a less popular fast-food place before resuming their travels several hours earlier, but the extra delay left them short on travel time. They now were about one-third of the way to Ferrum and had set up camp for the night. Alex lit a fire and was cooking soup. He, Kimiko, Thorn, and Radar were sitting as close to the fire as they could without burning themselves, as it was a rather chilly night by now and the wind was picking up. Koyomi, Diamond, and Fantomé were in their own huddle not far away, the cold not bothering them much. Ariel was still refusing to communicate with anyone else and remained within her tightly clamped shell. She hadn’t even been eating unless left completely alone. Still, Kimiko kept trying to let her out in the hopes that she’d eventually get used to being in a group.

Suddenly, Thorn tensed and bolted from the group, stopping and taking up a defensive stance in front of Koyomi and the ghosts. Radar bounded up to her and attempted to mimic her.

“What’s up, Thorn?” Alex asked. The rest of the pokémon seemed to sense something as well. Koyomi started to shiver and Diamond took up a threatening pose on Thorn’s other side. Fantomé began laughing madly. Ariel remained motionless.

And then a flash of purple and two new figures stood before them; a tall one that was possibly human, and one about a third of the former’s height that was clearly a pokémon. Diamond immediately leapt at them, his claw glowing purple. Before Alex could call him off, the new pokémon jumped forwards, his own claw in a similar, darker aura, and sucker-punched the sableye, throwing him onto his back. This prompted Thorn to lunge at the newcomer as well, whipping at it with her vines, though the new pokémon didn’t seem to even feel them. He glared over in her direction and readied his claw for another punch.

“Wait, Thorn!” Alex called, at the same time a new female voice said, “Toxicroak, hold!”

Both pokémon immediately froze, turning to their trainers. Alex knelt down beside Diamond, who was holding his head in his hands and looked dazed from the attack, but still conscious. He and Kimiko walked up cautiously to the new girl in the area. Her pokémon had fallen to its knees, panting heavily.

“No way,” Alex said, seeing the girl properly for the first time in the light of their fire. “You look like the champion!”

“That’s because I am,” the girl answered, a hint of pride in her voice. “Kirsten Hammond, at your service. I’d offer a handshake, but…” She looked down and held up her arm. It was then that Alex noticed Kirsten was holding her right wrist at an awkward angle.

“You look terrible, no offense,” Kimiko said. “Is that broken?”

“I don’t think so, just sprained, but it hurts like a bitch. Don’t remember how it happened. Where are we?”

“Route 502, a little less than halfway to Ferrum,” Alex replied.

“Oh, that’s not so bad,” Kirsten said thoughtfully, more to herself than anyone else. “Sorry to startle you guys like that. We got a little lost and saw the light from your fire here and figured we could get directions.”

Alex and Kimiko exchanged a worried glance. “What’s the champion doing all the way out here?” Alex asked.

Kirsten looked around their campsite before speaking. “You have ghosts with you,” she said, gesturing to Diamond and Fantomé. It was a statement, not a question. Her eyes narrowed.

“Yes,” Alex answered, looking at her curiously.

“Where did you get them?”

“Whispering Forest.”

“Really…? When?”

“Uh… a few days ago, now.”

Kirsten looked at the two with wide eyes before turning to look at Diamond again. “You two didn’t happen to meet the gym leaders of Phantom Village, did you?”

Alex and Kimiko exchanged another glance. “Yes, we did,” Kimiko answered.

“Small world,” Kirsten stated. “They told me they had met a couple of trainers who caught a sableye in there a few days ago. They said nothing of the gastly, though. I trust neither has been giving you problems?”

“Not so far,” Alex answered. “Diamond – the sableye – was a little reluctant at first, but so far he’s cooperated, for the most part. And the gastly, Fantomé, has been the life of our little party.”

The gastly in question bellowed with glee and began doing orbits around Kimiko. Thorn let out a small sound of protest, but Kirsten smiled. “Well, that’s good. As it happens, those two asked me to check out the forest. I’m aware of the incident you two had in there, now that I know who you are. Phobos and Deimos were unable to find any answers for the ghosts’ recent violence, so they asked me to step in and investigate myself.”

“They spoke to Diamond,” Alex offered.

“Just trying to get information on what’s going on,” Kirsten nodded. “At my request.”

“So were you attacked?” Kimiko asked, gesturing to Kirsten’s wrist and tattered clothes.

“You could say that,” Kirsten replied. She sat down on a nearby boulder. “I was walking through the forest with Toxicroak here, and my drapion, acting as lookouts. My venomoth was guiding us. Next thing I remember, I’m standing right in the middle of about thirty ghost pokémon. I don’t remember seeing any of them appear or anything, but from what I gather from Toxicroak, I was possessed by a gengar and lead my pokémon to that group. There was a battle and I guess I got attacked, but I don’t remember even feeling it. Toxicroak here had the sense to get me out of the mess with feint attack, which I guess injured the gengar possessing me enough to make it stop. I recalled Drapion and Venomoth while they duked it out since they were basically taking on the rest of the ghosts by themselves and looked like they were really struggling. Not my best idea,” Kirsten sighed, as though she was torn between having to recall her pokémon or let them fight for all their lives. She sat catching her breath for a moment before continuing.

“None of the ghosts other than that gengar seemed to know where I’d gone after Toxicroak moved me, but I guess I gave myself away with the pokéballs. Toxicroak threw off the gengar long enough for me to grab hold of him and have him get us out of there. We’ve been using feint attack to jump short distances for the past ten minutes or so, I would guess, looking for any sign of a city or a trainer to get our bearings. And that’s how we got here.”

Kirsten looked expectantly at the other two. It was Kimiko who spoke first. “Wow…” was all she could say, though.

“So, that’s why your Toxicroak looks ready to pass out,” Alex commented. “And he still almost took out Diamond with one move, and took all of Thorn’s attacks without so much as flinching. He must be tough.”

Kirsten kneeled down next to her pokémon and put her good hand on his head. The fighting-type actually turned away. “Don’t feel bad, buddy,” she said. “I think he feels guilty about not realizing the gengar had been following us in my shadow… but really, it’s okay, I didn’t notice either, and neither did Drapion or Venomoth. We’re all out and okay and unharmed.”

“Croak,” the pokémon said, turning to look at his trainer’s wrist.

“It’ll be fine,” she replied. “I would have been a lot worse if you didn’t get us out. You saved us back there.” She smiled and hugged her pokémon, but the Toxicroak didn’t appear any more relieved.

“Er,” Alex said awkwardly. “We were just making dinner, if you and your team would like to join us and recover a bit.”

Kirsten detached herself from her pokémon and studied him for a few seconds before standing and turning to the trainers. “Thank you. I don’t want to intrude on your dinner, but I think I will stick around, if it’s all the same to you. I don’t think Toxicroak is up for any more feint attack traveling tonight, and Venomoth and Drapion are probably in even worse shape.”

“It’d be our pleasure,” Kimiko said with a smile, picking up a very confused Radar and turning back to the campsite. “We’ve got enough soup for you and your entire team here. And we have some medicines here if you need them.” Kirsten and Alex followed, trailed by their pokémon, save Ariel.

“Oh, I don’t know about that first one, my team is pretty gluttonous,” Kirsten said with a laugh and pulled out her remaining pokéballs. The aforementioned Drapion and Venomoth had bleeding cuts and bruises all over and looked just as ready to pass out as her Toxicroak. Kirsten’s Crobat and Seviper gathered around their injured teammates to make sure they were all okay while Toxicroak had struck up a conversation with Thorn. Kirsten’s Tentacruel sat behind everyone, beak embedded in the ground to stay upright, and only opened one eye to make sure his trainer was unharmed before dozing off.

“Wow… those must have been some really strong ghosts to be able to beat up half of a champion’s team this badly,” Kimiko noted as Kirsten got to work spraying potions over her three injured pokémon.

“To be fair, it was essentially two-versus-thirty for a while, there.”

“Why don’t you call professor Spruce?” Alex suggested afterwards. The champion looked at him curiously. “He’s a professor and a researcher. Maybe he can help you investigate the ghost problem.”

“Hah, that’s not a bad idea,” she said, looking into the fire. She shook her head. “Anyways, I’ll let Emily know I’m okay too, but that’s actually not a bad idea,” she added, pulling out her pokédex. “I’m going to advise bringing a few good trainers with him though, and some pokémon who can handle ghost-types. I don’t think anyone should be entering that forest alone for the time being. …By the way, which of the professor’s hopefuls should I tell him I’m currently pilfering dinner from?”

Kirsten escorted Alex and Kimiko all the way to Ferrum the next day, with the help of a rested Toxicroak, even treating them to lunch when they arrived before departing.

“I have to get back to the League HQ and let the rest of the elite four know of my… little mishap,” she said. “Emily’s frantic wondering why I didn’t come back last night after I called. And maybe I’ll get my hand looked at after all; it doesn’t seem to be getting any better… Anyway, I’ll check in with professor Spruce tonight and see if he came up with anything, he and the elite team he picked out of his trainers are going to check out the forest today.”

“I’ll do the same,” Alex said.

“If there’s anything we can do to help, give us a call,” Kimiko added.

“I’ll keep it in mind,” Kirsten said with a smile. “You two are going to want to toughen up a bit though if you really want to help. You saw what those ghosts did to my team, and you saw firsthand how dangerous they can be. Either way, I don’t think this will be the last time we meet,” she added with a wink. “Good luck with your gym battle. Cyrus is pretty tough considering he’s only the second in the circuit.”

“Thanks,” Alex said. “I think I can take him. Good luck with the ghost problem.”

“Thanks,” Kirsten mimicked. “Somehow I think I got the short end of that one,” she added with a laugh. She saluted to the two trainers before turning and leaving the pokémon center.

Kimiko insisted on going clothes shopping for a better traveling outfit, so they decided to check out the city and train a little bit, saving the gym for tomorrow. He couldn’t find any information on the gym’s special ruling, but he did learn that the leader used steel-types, which seemed to him like a valid reason for Kirsten’s warning about him. After a little training and some new moves, the pair retreated to the pokémon center to get dinner and a room. Alex decided then to call the professor’s lab and see if he learned anything about the ghost pokémon.

No one answered.
Chapter 8 - A Ghost of a Chance


  1. sableye
Chapter 8 – A Ghost of a Chance

The wind whipped at her hair, face, and cape as Kirsten raced through the skies towards Crescent Town. Crobat was her only real flying-type and though he could carry her in a pinch, it was extremely difficult – especially while maintaining his speed. Kirsten wanted to get there as quick as possible so she had borrowed Emily’s skarmory for the occasion. She was unaccustomed to riding the metallic bird, though, and found that she was extremely uncomfortable; the bird’s sharp feathers kept slashing cuts in her legs. She adjusted her position constantly while the skarmory kept shooting her annoyed glances. Her crobat was still with them though he clearly wanted to move faster; the skarmory, while still fast, was too slow for Crobat’s liking.

The light of the full moon kept the skies bright even though it was well after midnight. Not that there was anything to see up in the sky; Kirsten took off late that night straight from the League HQ on Araka Island after receiving no answer to her calls at professor Spruce’s lab. She had been flying over the open sea towards mainland since.

As she neared the main coastline, the lights of the city at the bottom of the cliff came into view. The small town was called Lentic, home to the traditional eighth gym in the Vidiva circuit, as well as the port where qualifying trainers could be taken to Araka Isle to compete in the league. The entire city, including even the wooden boards that the homes were built on top of as well as connecting the entire city together, was visible thanks to the huge spotlights embedded in the cliffside to illuminate the city during the night.

Skarmory passed over Lentic and turned northwest. Soon after, a few more speckles of lights began to emerge on the horizon, signifying the small party’s arrival at Crescent Town. Her anxiety began to surface again as they began their descent into town. How could the region’s best pokémon researcher, his assistant, and a dozen skilled trainers all disappear without a trace? Kirsten hoped she was wrong and that the professor simply had forgotten to contact her upon his return from his excursion into the forest earlier that day, though she refused to allow herself to start being that optimistic and instead be realistic.

She directed Skarmory straight towards the lab and they touched down right in the front yard. Kirsten jumped from the bird’s back in relief, vaguely dreading the return trip – her legs were cut and bruised from the steel bird’s sharp feathers – and deciding one of the elites, if not herself, should acquire a teleporting pokémon sooner rather than later. Before she turned to the lab, however, she pulled out her pokédex, intending to take note of the time she arrived and instead discovered a voicemail that had been left during her flight. She planned to ignore it but seeing as though the lab was dark and looked vacant, she decided she could wait another minute and listened anyway. It was from the trainer with the sableye. It was a quick message, simply stating his concern over not hearing from the professor after his own attempts failed to make contact as well. Kirsten put away her dex, her apprehension peaking again.

She stretched her stiff body for a moment longer before recalling Skarmory and walking towards the lab, Crobat perched atop her head. She tried the bell first; if the professor had arrived home safely, he was most likely either working deep in the lab with his findings or sleeping at this point in the night. Of course, it was too much for Kirsten to honestly believe that either might the case, and predictably no one ended up answering. She tried the door. It was locked, so either the professor didn’t hear the bell or he never returned. She considered picking the lock and going inside but decided to simply scout the outside first. After asking Crobat to take a peek into the upper windows where the professor lived, Kirsten ignored the covered window next to the door and walked around the back of the building.

The yard was mostly barren; the professor must have safely recalled most of the pokémon in his care before leaving, though a few of the more intimidating ones were left out on guard duty. As soon as Kirsten climbed the fence and leapt to the ground inside, there was a howl and a blur, and she found herself pinned to the ground with a very angry houndoom in her face, flames licking her lips.

“Easy girl, it’s me! It’s Kirsten!” the champion cried, but the pokémon seemed not to recognize her. She growled threateningly until Crobat returned seconds later and forcefully rammed the fire-type off his trainer. The houndoom got to her feet quickly and blasted a flamethrower at Crobat, who avoided it effortlessly. The houndoom let out a sharp gasp as she finally realized who she had fired upon, the light from her flames illuminating Kirsten as she tried to stand.

“That’s better,” Kirsten said as the houndoom slunk up to her, her head hung in shame. She whined in what Kirsten recognized as some sort of apology. She put a hand on the dog pokémon’s head. “It’s okay, you didn’t recognize me in the dark,” she said, though she was certain that houndoom could see in the dark just fine. She also vaguely wondered if this houndoom could recognize her voice, and assumed she probably could – or should. “Have you seen the professor since this morning?”

Houndoom looked up at her and barked fiercely, looking towards the back door of the lab. Kirsten took that as a no. As if to answer her, Houndoom bolted away from them, returning seconds later with a dead, bloody pidgeotto in her mouth. Kirsten made a mental note to remind herself to find someone to look after the lab and the pokémon if the professor wasn’t actually there, which the houndoom had essentially just confirmed. Professor Spruce fed all the pokémon in his care so they wouldn’t have to kill others for food. But Houndoom had killed a pidgeotto and started eating it. She had been hungry, and so she found food. Not a good sign.

Kirsten’s heart sank. She hoped the bird hadn’t belonged to a trainer. She patted the houndoom’s head once again and after confirming with Crobat that he couldn’t see anyone upstairs, walked to the back door, which also turned out to be locked. With a sigh, she retrieved her pokédex again. It only took one ring before her call was answered.

“Emily, we’ve got a bigger problem on our hands than we thought.”

Alex woke the next morning to a voicemail and nearly dropped his dex in his attempt to play the message. He slept poorly the previous night, waking up several times in distress. He hadn’t heard from professor Spruce at all and it filled him with guilt. Though he hoped the professor was okay, it would be his fault if something did happen to him in that forest; he was the one who suggested calling him and Luke in to investigate. Not only that, but his call to Kirsten last night had also gone unanswered. It took a great deal of coaxing for Kimiko to convince him to relax and sleep after that, though he ended up doing very little of either anyway despite his girlfriend’s efforts.

As it turned out, the voicemail was from Kirsten, not the professor. The message was short, apologizing for not responding the night before because she had been traveling. She had also not heard from the professor but she was planning another trip into the forest herself with another group of trainers. Alex could hear her calm voice crack as she mumbled a hasty goodbye.

His motion to return his dex to the nightstand beside the bed roused Kimiko from her sleep and she clung to him, smiling until she noticed the grimace on his face. “What happened?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Alex replied. Kimiko made to object to the obvious lie, but Alex explained; “That’s the problem. I just got a message from Kirsten. She never got through to professor Spruce last night either. She just said she’s taking a team of trainers into the forest herself and that was it.”

“He’ll be fine,” Kimiko whispered, putting a hand on Alex’s cheek and kissing him. “She’s the best in the region; she knows what she’s doing. She’ll find him.”

Alex made to argue about how the ghosts practically tore half her team apart, but his will was drained this early in the morning so he simply turned away, staring at the opposite wall, eyes unfocused. Kimiko frowned, laying her head down on his chest with a sigh and stroking his arm with the back of her finger.

They remained like that for several minutes before Alex tensed underneath her. Before she could question him, he asked, “Where’s Fantomé?”

Kimiko lifted herself up just in time to see Diamond shrug before turning his attention back to the carpet, seemingly fascinated by a loose thread that he pulled at until it was torn off completely. Thorn, Radar, Koyomi and Ariel appeared to all still be asleep; the former three huddled together on the small bathmat in the opposite room with the clamperl alone behind them. The gastly was nowhere in sight.

“Oh, damn,” Kimiko groaned as she carefully scrambled out of the bed to go get dressed.

Just as Alex and Kimiko were emerging from the stairwell into the center’s main lobby, a loud scream echoed through an open window. Kimiko groaned as she sprinted for the door, Alex calmly following. She had a bad feeling she had just found her missing pokémon.

Sure enough, there was Fantomé outside in the morning sun. He had a teenage boy cowering behind a tree while he happily cackled from above. The gastly was laughing so hard that he was in tears, and while it was probably for a completely different reason, so was the red-haired boy.

“Fantomé!” Kimiko shouted. “Get over here!” The gastly turned at the sound of her voice, bellowed a happy wail, and shot towards her. He circled her head with glee, completely unaware he was being scolded. “You don’t do that! Look, I don’t know what your life was like before, but things have changed! You can’t just go off scaring the daylights out of other trainers! And more importantly, you do not leave the room without my permission! You had me worried sick! Do you understand?”

“Gaaaaaas!” the ghost bellowed, still cackling, before taking off again.

“Fantomé! Come back here!” Kimiko demanded. She stomped her foot and pointed at the ground at her feet. The ghost-type finally stopped giggling and floated to his trainer curiously. He tilted his body in confusion, having no real head to do the action with.

“Yes, you’re in trouble,” Kimiko sighed.

“Keep that thing in a pokéball if you’re too incompetent to control it!”

Kimiko looked up, her attention diverted to Fantomé’s former victim. The blue-eyed teenager had emerged from behind his tree, wearing nothing but a pair of black running shorts and white sneakers. He looked to be around fourteen, but he was short. He marched right up to the other two trainers and although he barely came up to Kimiko’s chest, he still gave her a daunting glare.

“I’d apologize for his behavior if I thought you deserved it,” Kimiko shot at him. “If you’re such a competent trainer, why didn’t you just fight him off yourself instead of cowering like a cornered poochyena?”

“That was as arrogant as his comment,” Alex said, but he went ignored, as Kimiko pretended not to hear him.

“Because I-I… He caught me by surprise, that’s all!” the boy stammered. “Any of my pokémon could have beaten him if he didn’t startle me on my way back from my morning jog!”

“Well, I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Kimiko replied, turning back to Fantomé, who was grinning with bemusement at the humans’ exchange. She beckoned to her gastly and made to return back to the center but the boy called out to her.

“No, wait! That, uh, was a challenge!” he shouted. “Get back here and face me in battle!”

Kimiko stopped and looked back over her shoulder at him. Fantomé, who had been following her, floated right through her head and she winced at the strange sensation. “I’ve got no reason to battle you,” she said hesitantly.

The boy snorted. “Are you even a trainer? What are you doing at a pokémon center, with an obviously disobedient pokémon in your possession? Or is it yours?” He glanced at Alex, who until then had been standing idly by with his arms crossed, watching with quiet amusement.

“Nope, he’s not mine,” he answered.

“I just…” Kimiko trailed off. “It’s not a law that he has to be trained to be in a pokémon center…” she countered weakly.

“Look, if you’re not keeping that pokémon as a pet, then you’re a trainer and I demand a battle!”

“She said no,” Alex started, but Kimiko turned around fully to face the nameless boy.

“Alright, fine. If it will shut you up, let’s just do it. Fantomé, over here.” Her gastly wailed in glee once more before floating around in front of his trainer, once again through her head, causing a shiver down her spine.

“That’s more like it,” the boy stated, pulling a pokéball of his own from his pocket and tossing it to the dirt. “Go, Bill!” The pokéball opened to reveal a small magby. The creature blew out a tiny fireball upon emerging, squinting in the morning sunlight. “Alright, Bill, let’s show these two how a real trainer fights!”

“A magby…? Oh my god!” Kimiko cried, looking around for her pack. “Damnit! Alex, I need your pokédex, I left my bag in the room!”

“What? Why?” Alex asked, startled, as he pulled from his pocket and handed it over.

“What are you doing?” the nameless boy demanded. “We’re about to battle here!”

“Mag, magby!” his pokémon echoed.

Kimiko turned to him in frustration with a hand up to silence him, then her call was answered. “Just hold on a minute, I’m going to– You! Oh, thank god you’re all right! You were supposed to call back two days ago to meet up or whatever!”

“Who is that?” Alex whispered.

“It’s Lillia,” Kimiko whispered, before speaking into the phone again. “No, it’s okay, but you really need to not scare me like this. With all these disappearances lately, I had just thought of you and it scared me half to death! I don’t want you to–”

She was cut off by a small explosion to her left. She looked over to see the boy’s magby dancing around the remains of a night shade attack that Fantomé had used to block some fire attack with. “I said wait!” Kimiko shouted in anger before returning to her conversation. “I know you can, Lillia, but I still worry about you all alone out there. We both do. Just be careful, okay? Professor Spruce… well, I’ll tell you about that later. Just don’t do anything reckless.”

“Come on, already!” the red-headed boy sighed. “This is boring. Bill, ember again!”

The fire pokémon eagerly obeyed, launching several small flames from his mouth. Fantomé responded by floating out of the way of the fire, cackling with glee all the while. He then shot another night shade at the little magby, who leapt to the side and out of the way.

“Ugh, I can’t do this right now!” Kimiko cried. “I’ll talk to you later,” she said into the phone before shoving it back at Alex. She turned her attention to the battle, ignoring the conversation Alex had started with Lillia. “Fantomé, do that again!”

The gastly, still laughing, shot another twin purple energy blast at the magby. He easily avoided them once again, a wide grin on his face.

“There we go,” said the boy. “Bill, feint attack!”

“Um…” was all Kimiko got out before Bill the magby vanished in a puff of purple energy. A second puff formed simultaneously directly behind and above Fantomé. Bill shot out of it, his body now glowing with the dark energy, and rammed the ghost-type to the ground. Fantomé laughed again as he recovered, more amused than harmed.

“Try hypnosis!” Kimiko ordered.

“Smokescreen,” countered the boy.

Bill obeyed and let loose a steady, thick smoke from his mouth that began to conceal him. Fantomé, however, did nothing but continue laughing. Kimiko tried to scold her pokémon and ordered the attack again but the ghost simply turned, floated up to her and nestled in her hair, laughing even harder than before as he began raising locks of her hair and tying them in knots.

The red-headed teen looked on awkwardly for a minute before opening his mouth to call out an attack. Then he hesitated, realizing it unsafe to attack his opponent while it was so near his trainer. He sighed. “What is this? Your gastly has the attention span of a skitty.”

Kimiko’s cheeks flooded with color. “I just caught him, for heaven’s sake! He’s only had a real battle once! Fantomé! You need to listen to me! Go back over there and battle!”

Finally, Fantomé stopped giggling and looked down curiously. He caught his trainer’s eyes giving him as stern a glare as she could with him just barely in her sight. The gastly bellowed his name in glee and shot off from his resting place, looped around the area once, returned to his trainer, and licked the side of her face. The boy burst into laughter as Kimiko recoiled from the unpleasant tingling sensation that swept through her entire body. With that done, Fantomé finally floated back to face the thinning smoke cloud. Bill’s silhouette was already mostly visible through the remaining smoke.

“Ahaha! Oh man! That… was priceless!” the teen gasped out between laughs. “Okay Bill… let’s… haha, let’s… finish with… fire spin!”

Bill glanced backwards at his trainer briefly with a confused expression, wondering just why he was imitating the gastly, but turned back with a shrug and launched another stream of flame at the ghost. Without an order, Fantomé became shrouded in a bright purple aura. The fire attack exploded on contact with Fantomé’s gaseous body, causing another smoke cloud, though this one died out quickly. Fantomé lay on the ground, knocked out, inside a small ring of fire.

“All right!” the boy cheered.

And then his magby erupted in a similar aura, like violet flames burning all around his tiny body. Bill screamed in pain and collapsed on the ground, his energy drained. After a few seconds, the purple flames died out as well, leaving nothing but a fainted magby in their wake.

“Wh-what was that? What did you do to my pokémon?” the teen gasped and kneeled down to pick up and check on his fire-type.

“That was destiny bond,” Alex said, now off the phone and watching the ‘battle’. “Fantomé let himself be taken down so he could bring down Bill, too.”

“Then it’s a draw,” Kimiko said, hiding her face in her hands, avoiding the ghostly saliva still clinging to her cheek.

“But… but she didn’t order that! That battle doesn’t count! It doesn’t count!” the boy cried before his face softened and his voice became that of a whisper. “Is Bill going to be okay…?”

“He’s just fainted,” Alex answered. “He’ll be fine. He just needs a rest. Bring him to the nurse inside,” he added, pointing a thumb to the pokémon center behind the group. The boy stood up and carried his magby passed the two trainers, muttering a brief thanks to Alex. He then stopped and turned to Kimiko, who still had her back to him and her face hidden. “This isn’t over. We’re going to have a rematch. But… you should have your gastly healed too. And he needs training. We had him beat and you know it. If he didn’t act on his own–”

“Shut up already,” Kimiko replied, defeated. “I know.”

“Come on,” the boy said. Alex walked up and put a hand on his girlfriend’s shoulder. She glanced up at him for a moment, then turned her head to watch the boy behind them. He hadn’t moved, apparently waiting for her. With a sigh, Kimiko returned Fantomé to his pokéball and followed the boy into the pokémon center.

“Are you okay?”

“I will be.”

Back in their room, Alex sat down on the bed and looked down at Kimiko, who had her back to him as she lay on the bed facing the wall. She rolled over and looked up at him, offering a small smile that took him less than a second to see through.

“Want to talk?” Alex asked.

“What about?” Kimiko replied.

Alex stared at her for a moment, debating what to say. She frowned at his hesitation, but remained silent until he started speaking again. “Okay, well… for starters… why didn’t you want to battle Wyatt? Fantomé needs the training.”

Kimiko continued to state at him, her face slowly turning pink. “Because I was half asleep and annoyed. Why else?” Alex just stared at her with a frown, and she continued with a sigh before he could argue. “Because I’m not much of a trainer, am I?” she said after a few seconds. Alex tilted his head in response.

“Yes, you are,” Alex said. “You’re still raising a team of pokémon, and you’ve even won a badge already, so you’re still a trainer. There’s no real rule about what’s considered a trainer when it –”

“I really was not expecting a serious response to that,” Kimiko interrupted flatly.

“Then… what’s up?”

“I don’t really know,” Kimiko answered. “I don’t know how to do this. I thought I did, but actually doing it… well, clearly, I’m doing it wrong. Only Radar actually listens to me. Fantomé is a menace to everyone around him, and Ariel won’t even acknowledge my existence. What am I supposed to do?”

Alex sat down and put an arm around her shoulders. “That’s what being a trainer is,” he said. “They’ll come around. Don’t forget, I’ve got a pokémon who won’t always listen to orders, too. We just have to work through it. It might work out, and it might not.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“Well, then… we’ll find them another home. Another trainer, or release them, or… something.”

“I don’t know if I can do this,” she admitted.

Alex hugged her. “Do you want to stop? We can go back home if –”

“No. Absolutely not. I want to be here with you, even if I’m not good at it. I… I’ll keep trying, if you’ll help me.”

“Of course, I’ll help you. As if I wasn’t already poking my nose in your business. I’m not going to leave you alone.”

“Better not,” Kimiko said, finally smiling. “You’re stuck with me. For a long, long time.”

“That goes double for you,” Alex replied. “So… what else, then? I know you’re traveling for more than just to stay with me.”

Kimiko sighed, her smile vanishing. “I’m not lying!” she cried.

“I never said you were.”

“So damn annoying… I can’t hide anything from you, can I?” she groaned. Alex’s own smile only widened, and she rolled her eyes. “Okay, well… I know it’s silly and pretty much really unlikely, but… I’m kinda hoping, somewhere along this trip, to find some clues about… whatever happened to my dad.”

“Oh,” Alex said. That was never something she’d told him she’d been planning before. She wanted to keep it secret, her own private mission, but she couldn’t realistically hide it forever. She hoped telling him might shed a better light on why she was having so much trouble training. He squeezed her hand. “It’s not silly –”

“But it is unlikely,” Kimiko interrupted. “I don’t know where to start or what I’m looking for. Chances are I won’t find anything even closely related. But… hey, I can dream, can’t I? I’m out here anyway, might as well see what information I can find.”

“It couldn’t hurt,” Alex added. “I’m sure we’ll figure it out eventually, don’t you worry.”

Kimiko grinned at him as she sat up and leaned in to kiss him. They stayed there for a minute before she broke it off. “What say you we get some breakfast? And before you get any ideas,” she added, throwing the covers off her body, “I mean food.”

“Wait, you’re going to challenge the gym? I gotta see this.”

The red-headed teen from earlier that morning smirked as he followed Alex and Kimiko back into the Ferrum gym through the sliding glass doors that he had just left the building through. The entire skyscraper seemed to be made of nothing but glass and thick iron beams one would find at a construction site.

“I don’t suppose you can tell me anything about the gym’s rules?” Alex asked as they walked down a long hallway towards the single bolted door at the far end.

“Legally, there’s no rule that says I can’t. Trainers exchange information at the pokémon center all the time. But I want to see how you handle this,” Wyatt replied.

“How did you lose, then?” Alex shot back, smirking himself. “I know steel-types are weak to fire-types, and your magby should have been battle-ready by now. Fantomé didn’t beat him up that badly.”

“Wha…? That’s not my fault! I couldn’t tell Bill – I mean… Nice try. I’m not saying anything. You’ll see for yourself.”

The bolted door at the end of the hallway opened automatically as the three approached it. The room inside was dark, lit by candles along the walls. Alex looked around and could see the battle arena boundaries painted on the standard floor and a raised trainer’s box on each side but saw no one inside. “Uh, hello?” he called.

Wyatt began to laugh. “The registration desk is across the room. The leader was able to see me right away though so I don’t think he was expecting a busy day.”

“You couldn’t have said something sooner?” Kimiko growled.

“Of course I could have. But this is your boyfriend’s fight, I’m just a spectator.”

Kimiko rolled her eyes and followed Alex across the room towards the registration area. Before they even got there, the lights in the arena suddenly activated, blinding the trio momentarily.

“Hey over there!” a loud male voice echoed through the arena. “Welcome to the Ferrum gym!” The speaker was a man already in the far trainer’s box across the room. He appeared to be in his mid-thirties, his light, sandy hair sticking up all over. He wore a sleeveless neon pink vest over a bright red button up shirt and vibrant neon green pants, making Alex wonder how he missed the man standing there earlier, even in the dark. “If you’re here for a battle, don’t bother with the registration, you’re the only one in line for the afternoon,” the man continued. “So, step right up to the box over there and let’s get started!”

Alex and Kimiko shared a glance, but she whispered, “I’m really not in the mood today.” So, Alex shrugged and headed for the box on their side of the arena. Kimiko wished him luck before following Wyatt to the seats on the far wall opposite the entrance. The man continued talking once Alex was in his place in the box. His voice came out of a speaker set up along the guardrail of the box, though it also continued to echo loudly through the whole room and Alex doubted the speaker was really necessary.

“Well, my name is Cyrus, and I’m the leader around here. Who might you be?”

“Call me Alex,” he answered loudly.

“No need to shout, young man. Talk into the speaker and I can hear you just fine. Now then, are you ready to get started?”

“Aren’t you going to explain the rules first?”

“After we choose a pokémon, yes, I’ll inform you of our rules.”

“That’s a little unfair,” Kimiko called from the sidelines.

“My gym, my rules, miss. Besides, you’ll see soon enough that it won’t really give me an advantage anyway. Though if it makes you feel better, I can tell you that we’ll only use two pokémon for this battle, okay?”

“Alright, then,” Alex answered, picking a pokéball off his belt and tossing it out. At the same time, Cyrus threw a blue great ball onto his side of the field, revealing a massive steelix that dwarfed Koyomi tenfold, and then some.

“Alright, so here’s the deal,” Cyrus said, pulling a small object out of a pocket and holding it up, though it was too small to see at a distance. “Today you’ll be battling for this here chrome badge. As I stated, we’ll use two pokémon each. However, the goal of this gym is to learn that you aren’t always in control during battle. You need to learn to trust in your pokémon. And as such, you are not to give your pokémon any instructions, nor will I. They will act completely on their own. Whoever defeats the other side’s team first is the winner. Understood?”

Alex cursed under his breath as he nodded. With this new information, he realized what Kirsten’s warning had meant, and she hadn’t been talking about his steel-types.
Chapter 9 - Act Natural


  1. sableye
Chapter 9 – Act Natural

“Wait… so I can’t give my pokémon any instructions at all?” Alex asked.

“That’s right,” Cyrus replied. “As I said, the goal here is to help develop trust. In addition, this type of battling is a good way to determine your pokémon’s preferred battle style.”

“Yeah, just what exactly does that mean, anyway?” Wyatt shouted from his seat.

Cyrus smiled. “Well, just as some people might prefer certain tactics, some pokémon do too. During your battle, Wyatt, your magby demonstrated his proficiency for offensive moves and head-on attacking. However, he had very little experience defending himself from incoming attacks. Essentially, your magby prefers to rush in without caring about taking damage, as long as he can deal it too.”

“That’s pretty much how our battle went,” Kimiko added. “The only time you guys used a defensive move was when we tried to put magby to sleep.”

“Yeah, well, Bill and I make a great team,” Wyatt said proudly.

“Anyway,” Cyrus continued, “letting your pokémon battle on their own a few times will help you as a trainer figure out what style suits your pokémon best. That way you can try to adapt the way you train to work better with your pokémon, rather than forcing them to endure your own style, which they may find difficult to adapt to.”

“Wait, what?” said Wyatt.

Kimiko sighed and glared at him. “What he’s saying is, if you caught something like… I don’t know. A slowpoke. Most slowpoke aren’t going to be able to adapt to your offensive strategy well. They’re slow pokémon, they’re more defensive. Chances are a slowpoke will prefer a more defensive style. So, it’s your job to learn to battle together with slowpoke’s defensive style, rather than making slowpoke learn how to move fast and furious. That way you two will be a more effective team. Get it?”

“I don’t want to catch a slowpoke,” Wyatt said, confused.

“That’s not the point!” Kimiko shouted.

“Okay, Wyatt,” Cyrus cut in. “Replace the slowpoke in her example with a gyarados. Gyarados are fairly well known for their aggressive behavior. So, what if you caught a gyarados who preferred a more defensive style? You wouldn’t know that unless you let it battle on its own. Maybe this gyarados is just timid. Don’t laugh, it’s entirely possible. You can’t force a timid pokémon, even a gyarados, to battle like every other aggressive member of the species. Certain pokémon may have reputations, but that doesn’t mean every individual of that species falls into that category.”

“Oh. I can’t imagine a timid gyarados,” Wyatt said. “But I think I get what you mean now,” he added before anyone could groan in frustration.

“Good. Now then, Alex, was it? Does your staryu have a name?”

“She’s Koyomi,” he replied.

“Very well, then. Koyomi,” Cyrus looked down to address the staryu on the ground near Alex’s box. “Are you ready to begin?”

Cyrus’s steelix slithered to the center of his side of the battlefield. Koyomi hesitated a minute, twisting her body around in a vague gesture of looking to her trainer. Alex smiled down at her. “I’m not allowed to give you orders, so just… have at it however you want,” he said with a shrug and hand gesture towards the steelix. She turned back and floated to her side’s center field.

“Excellent. Steelix, Koyomi, begin!”

Steelix sprang into action immediately, diving at Koyomi. The staryu leapt up to avoid the massive steelix and landed on his underbelly as he passed underneath her. Steelix slid along the ground for a moment, with Koyomi desperately trying to keep from falling off the side after landing on the giant snake. Steelix then righted himself, head in the air, and Koyomi went cartwheeling down the snake’s back. When she reached his tail, Steelix flicked it upwards, tossing Koyomi into the air, then swat her into a wall.

Alex gripped his box’s railing tightly. The battle had just begun and already Koyomi had taken a serious hit. The staryu managed to stand and fire a stream of water at the steel-type’s face, but he simply ducked under it. He then lashed out with his tail and grabbed Koyomi, squeezing her tight in a bind attack.

“Good, Steelix!” Cyrus crossed his arms and smirked, until Koyomi managed to start spinning, tearing off small chunks of the steelix’s body and sending them flying until she chipped away enough to be able to slip away from his grasp. Before she could move off the huge snake though, Steelix again flicked her into the air with his tail and then brought it down on top of her, crushing her to the ground.

When Steelix lifted his tail, Koyomi’s center gem was flashing. It was also broken, the sound of it shattering lost behind the thunderous crash of the steelix’s attack. Kimiko gasped loudly from her seat and Alex called out to his pokémon in a panic. Koyomi flopped one of her arms, which Alex considered to be a good sign; at least she was alive. Even Wyatt looked concerned. Cyrus merely frowned.

“Steelix, halt.”

His steelix, who had been hovering over his opponent debating whether or not another attack was necessary, backed off immediately and returned to his trainer’s side. Cyrus continued staring down at the starfish, only breaking his gaze to tell Alex to stop when he made to recall her.

“Tell me, what is your staryu’s ability?” he finally said.

“Er…” Alex whipped out his pokédex and checked his current party’s status, opening Koyomi’s data. “Natural cure,” he announced. He had known this earlier, but with the starfish’s current condition, he felt the need to double check to be sure.

Cyrus relaxed. “Then there’s no need to worry. It’s broken, but not fatally. A staryu with that ability can regenerate itself rather quickly. A treatment and a good rest at a pokémon center for a few days and she’ll be good as new. Go ahead and put her back in her pokéball though so she doesn’t suffer any longer.”

Alex already had her ball in hand, not waiting for Cyrus’s suggestion before recalling Koyomi, feeling extremely guilty. He stared at her pokéball for a solid minute before Wyatt’s voice snapped him out of his trance.

“The pokédex says staryu can’t restore their own gems, only their limbs.”

“The pokédex is wrong,” Cyrus announced. “Well, to be more precise, the pokédex is inaccurate. Staryu and their evolutions are perfectly capable of regenerating their core. However, it is extremely difficult and taxing on them when compared to regenerating a torn limb. It can still be done, but without the aid of a pokémon center’s technology, the healing process can last most of the pokémon’s life.”

Alex looked back to Koyomi’s pokéball, still clenched in his hand. Another minute of silence passed before Cyrus called over to him.

“Do you still wish to continue?”

Alex thought of his other two pokémon. Thorn probably would want to at least try due to her pride, though Alex doubted she’d be able to do too much against Steelix. Diamond would definitely want to try, and although he was more experienced and his attacks packed a bit more punch than Thorn, he wasn’t sure the sableye had enough power to break through the steelix’s defense. Diamond would have the advantage in that he already acted without orders, though, which Alex wouldn’t really mind as much if it weren’t so frequent. To invite him into a battle where that was the goal might not be the best training strategy.

He looked to the stands. Kimiko was watching him intently with a frown, still clearly worried about Koyomi. Wyatt, meanwhile, was smirking, all trace of concern gone. Alex’s own frown turned to a glare, and without a second thought, he grabbed and tossed Thorn’s pokéball to the field.

He regretted it almost instantly, but he thought what’s done is done, and he could always call it off if things got too bad, so he might as well let Thorn have a go. The chikorita in question looked up at her towering opponent curiously, then back at her trainer.

“Okay Thorn, here’s the deal… I’m not allowed to give you commands this time, so it’s all you. Koyomi’s down so you have to beat the next two. I guess you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want, but be careful, this thing is tough.”

Thorn squeaked out an unmistakable battle cry and turned, undaunted, to face Steelix. With a nod from Cyrus, the massive snake slithered into the fray once more.

“Alright then, round two. Steelix, Thorn, begin!”

Steelix wasted no time in lunging forwards at Thorn – the same opening move. The chikorita responded by not only leaping to the side out of the way, but also forming a pale-yellow barrier around herself in the process. The slam attack still connected, however, simply due to the steelix’s size. Thorn was tossed back but managed to land on her feet, skidding a short distance before shaking her head and trotting back into position. Steelix, meanwhile, had actually been thrown off course when he hit the reflect at an odd angle and had rebounded to the side, just barely avoiding crashing into the wall.

As the steelix began to right himself, Thorn whipped her leaf and sent a flurry of smaller, sharp leaves at him. Steelix didn’t even seem to notice them as they bounced harmlessly off his metal body. Thorn let out another squeal as she ducked under Steelix’s tail. Then, suddenly, the steel-type rammed his head right into the ground. At the moment of impact, several sharp rocks erupted from the ground around Thorn.

Much to her surprise, however, her barrier was sturdy enough to whittle down the rocks as they passed through it enough to where she was able to escape the rock tomb fairly easily. She was clearly beginning to tire, however; although the attacks weren’t making direct contact with her, they still caused damage to her as they hit her reflect. The steelix seemed to be surprised by this turn of events as well, as he repeated the attack with the same results.

“Good job, Thorn!” Alex called, hoping he wasn’t breaking the rules… after all, he had only been told not to give orders, not that he couldn’t give encouragement. Besides, Cyrus had done so earlier. Thorn glanced back at him with a tired smile and bathed in the compliment for a second before turning back to her opponent.

As Steelix lunged for another slam, the grass-type sprinted right towards him. She leapt to the side as he came crashing down and slid passed her. Thorn seized her moment to pause and began glowing a faint pale green as she attempted a synthesis while Steelix tried to regain control over himself. Thorn’s glow faded quickly though, and although she appeared slightly more energetic, she still clearly had not mastered the move yet.

Steelix whipped his tail at the chikorita before she could dodge, and became trapped in his grasp. Thorn cried in pain for a few seconds before trying a counter attack. She whipped her leaf, scattering purple dust all over Steelix’s body, until her reflect barrier finally faded and she fell free. Steelix whipped his tail once more, scattering the useless poison dust and sending Thorn flying into a wall, where she collapsed.

The chikorita attempted to stand, one leg bent awkwardly and a trickle of blood dripping down her side where a jagged edge of Steelix’s tail cut into her skin, but Alex called her off, as did Cyrus to his Steelix. “Okay, it’s clear we’re not ready for this. We’re done.” Thorn immediately made sounds of protest, but again, Alex cut her off. “You’re in no shape to take on this thing and his second pokémon. We need more training. Okay?”

Thorn looked heartbroken as Alex returned her to her pokéball. Cyrus recalled his steelix after a job well done, and then addressed Alex. “Not bad, not bad at all. She’s a gutsy one. If not for how severely your staryu lost, I might have given up a badge right now.”

“What?” Alex asked. “But I didn’t even beat a single one of your pokémon.”

Cyrus grinned. “No, but that wasn’t the goal, now, was it? We don’t do things like every other pokémon league here, as I’m sure you already know. To those of us here in the Vidiva League, winning isn’t everything. Remember, the goal was to show that your pokémon can handle themselves, and that you trust them to do just that. Your goal was to show that you know you can rely on them, the way they’re relying on you as their trainer. Your chikorita’s devotion and your faith in her were proven to me during that battle. You also proved that you know when to quit if a fight is out of your league. Your staryu, however… she didn’t seem to know what to do with herself. You offered her little to no support after the initial exchange, and she got considerably injured as a result. I’d advise working with her a little more before trying again.”

“Er, right… I’ll do that,” Alex replied.

“I also want to warn you: the rules will not be exactly the same, should you return for a rematch. Don’t be too discouraged, you’re on the right track. Now, go on and have your staryu looked at.”

“Uh, so, hey… how’s your staryu doing?” Wyatt asked.

“She’ll be okay,” Alex replied quietly. “I mean, she’s hurting, obviously, but she’ll recover.”

“Hey, it’s not your fault,” Kimiko said, taking his hand in hers. “She just needs a bit more experience, that’s all. Come on now, your ice cream is melting.”

“I’m not really in the mood,” Alex said.

“Geez, are you two always like this?” Wyatt groaned, resting his forehead on the table.

After the battle, the three trainers headed directly to the pokémon center, where Alex dropped off Thorn and Koyomi in the nurse’s care and showed her Koyomi’s condition, while Wyatt left Bill and a second pokéball. Afterwards, in what Alex would call an uncharacteristic move given what he had seen of the boy so far, Wyatt suggested they get a treat to cheer themselves up.

“Like what?” the couple asked at once.

“Like… that,” Wyatt said simply, gesturing towards Alex’s melting chocolate ice cream. “You both are so… similar. You get like mega depressed after a loss. It’s killing my mojo.”

“It has nothing to do with actually losing,” Kimiko countered, now playing with her own melting cookie dough ice cream. “It’s… how we lost, I guess. I don’t know about you, but we actually care about our pokémon.” Wyatt winced at that, but didn’t retaliate. “Alex is worried about Koyomi, obviously. He feels guilty that she got so hurt and he couldn’t do anything about it.” Alex looked up at her with a disgruntled expression, but otherwise also remained silent.

“And what’s your excuse, then?”

Kimiko hesitated. “I… Okay, for the record, I don’t like admitting to this. But… I knew this training thing wouldn’t be easy. But I never thought I’d have this much trouble with it… And quite frankly, it’s bothering me that I can’t keep Fantomé in line. I mean… like I said, I knew it would take work, but… Well, I guess… I don’t know. After working in the lab for so long, I guess I thought I knew how to handle baby pokémon. That little dose of reality is like a slap in the face. And then there’s Ariel, who’s just as big a mystery, though at least she doesn’t cause trouble doing it…”

The redhead made a face at the mention of a lab, but didn’t comment on it. “Who the hell’s Ariel?” Wyatt asked.

“My clamperl. I got her the same day Alex caught his staryu, actually. Ever since I caught her, she’s done nothing but lock herself up in her shell. She won’t even come out to eat around us. The nurses say she eats when I leave her for treatment, but not in front of them. It’s like she just doesn’t like people… but even if I ask her if she wants to be released, she still doesn’t answer, so I… I just don’t know what to do. I’d think she just doesn’t like me, but if she’s not opening up for anyone else either… I just don’t know.”

“You two have quite the collection on your hands,” Wyatt said, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms behind his head. “Can’t say I don’t understand, though. Taylor, my baltoy, was pretty much the same way when I first caught him. He was pretty easy to coax though, once I found out what he wanted. Gave him a bag of sand from his home to carry around with him, and he opened up like a book.”

“So…” Kimiko started. “What you’re saying is, I need to find out what it is that Ariel wants from me, and then she’ll start socializing?”


“Okay, that makes sense, but how do I know what she wants if she won’t even talk to me? Assuming of course that she does want something from me.”

“Have you tried asking her?” Wyatt asked, shoveling down a large mouthful of his strawberry ice cream.

No shit, Sherlock! She didn’t react at all. And even if she had, I have no way of actually understanding her.”

“Sure you do,” Wyatt said after swallowing. “Your gastly. Don’t you know that they’re supposed to be able to communicate telepathically?”

“Uh, no, I didn’t,” Kimiko said, turning to Alex, who shook his head.

“Not that I was aware of, no… though now that you mention it, I do recall at least one instance where a gastly was able to use human speech. Some old myth back in Kanto.”

Wyatt laughed. “Maiden’s Peak, right? Yeah, but that gastly was also said to be able to transform into other things and fuse pokémon together,” he replied with a wave of his hand. “I don’t put much faith in myths. What I was talking about was telepathy. Ghost pokémon aren’t psychic to the degree of psychic-type pokémon, obviously, but many ghosts do have some level of telepathic abilities. Sabrina of the Saffron gym once said that all people have this power, actually, but most humans aren’t even aware of it if they try. Anyway, it has something to do with ghosts being all spiritual and stuff. I don’t understand it, but then, who really does?”

“So, you’re saying she can train Fantomé to learn to communicate thoughts, right?” Alex asked, intrigued. That was something he’d never heard during his time working at Spruce’s lab.

“Should be. I mean, not all ghosts can learn to do it, but it couldn’t hurt to try. And then you can have him ask what Ariel’s problem is, and he can then tell you. Good luck getting him to sit still long enough to say hello, though.”

“What about my sableye? Can he learn that too?”

“No idea,” Wyatt said. “He’s a ghost so he should, in theory. But then, aren’t sableye half dark-type? That might cause some problems, since telepathy is more of a psychic power. I already said I don’t know how it works. Go ask a professor.”

Alex and Kimiko exchanged a glance at the word. Kimiko was the one to try to recover the situation. “Well… at least it’s a start. I guess at least now I have something to work towards.”

“So, when’s your rematch?” Wyatt asked Alex. “I’m going back tomorrow. If I can’t win then I’ll just come back here later.”

“I don’t know,” Alex answered. “I’m going to train up a little bit before I try that again. Koyomi needs to rest for a few days first, though… so I’ll probably just work with Thorn and Diamond until she’s ready to join in. Then when I feel we’ve made enough progress, we’ll go back. I really don’t want to have to backtrack. We’re here now, and I’m not leaving until I get what I came for.”

“What about you?” Kimiko asked. “If you don’t win, where will you go next? I think Neutron is the unofficial third stop, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but I’m heading for Phantom Village,” Wyatt replied. “I want to see what’s going on in that forest myself.”

“Um, you are aware of all the disappearances happening around there lately, right?”

“Of course. That’s why I’m going. Think about it. People go into that forest and vanish, yet the gym is still operating. I want to know how they’re doing it.”

“Who says the town is still operating?” Alex asked suspiciously. Kirsten’s TV announcement confirmed that the gym was still open, but no mention of how or why. “Have you heard anything from someone who lives there?”

“No, but think about it. The gym is still open there. It’s still operating. If it weren’t, they’d have moved it to a temporary location in another city by now, right? Either whatever is going on hasn’t reached them yet, or they’ve found a way to repel it. I want to see for myself, that’s all.”

“That’s… a very interesting point,” Alex said, glancing at Kimiko. She looked back curiously, and Alex was relieved that she wasn’t scarred by their own forest experience – or at least, she wasn’t showing it.

“Why?” Wyatt asked suspiciously. The couple snapped their attention back to him. “Do you two know what’s going on?”

“No,” Alex replied. “About a week ago, after I caught my sableye, the two gym leaders from Phantom Village showed up out of the blue and wanted to speak with him. Then… well, there’s definitely something going on in there, but they seemed to be at a loss as to what it is.”

“Look,” Kimiko added, her voice quiet and shaking. “If you’re going in there… don’t go alone. Whatever is happening has the ghosts completely wound up… and they’ve attacked more than one traveler. I’ve got the scars to prove it.” As she said that last line, her face flooded with color and she covered her mouth, as if she didn’t intend to reveal that information. She glanced over as if to say “Now’s now the time,” but as she expected, Alex jumped on it before she could speak.

“It is still bothering you! Why didn’t you say something?”

Kimiko turned to him furiously. “Of course it’s still bothering me! Every single night, I’ve had nightmares of being carried away to who knows where and eaten or something by that dusknoir. But you can’t do anything about it, so why should I tell you?” Alex made to argue back but Kimiko continued, holding up her hand to silence him. “I know you feel guilty about it, okay? But it wasn’t your fault. And that doesn’t change the fact that you can’t do anything about the nightmares. So, there’s no point bringing it up or feeling sorry about it. Just let it go!” And with that she shoved her chair back and sprinted out of the cafeteria, leaving Alex in a stunned silence, while Wyatt looked between him and the door curiously.

“Should I even ask?”

It took a minute for Alex to focus and reply. Was he supposed to go after her? “It’s a long story,” he said. “I’ve never seen her lose control like that.”

“That was losing control? Hah, that was nothing. You should see Giselle. Now there’s a girl with a temper.”

“No, really. She’s always been in control of her emotions, ever since I’ve known her. That… I’ve never seen her have an outburst like that before.”

“Man, you’d never think you two are beginning pokémon trainers just by looking at you. Quite the emotional roller coaster, you two are. Actually, I have a question. Why are you two just beginning, anyway? You’re like ten years older than me or something, by the looks of you two.”

Alex looked at him curiously for a moment. “It’s a long story,” he repeated.

“Okaaaaaay, then answer me this. If she isn’t challenging gyms, then what is she training pokémon for?”

“She is taking on gyms, she just… decided today wasn’t a good time. And, not that it’s any of your business, but… she’s looking for information about her father.”

“Do explain.”

Alex leaned back and crossed his arms, debating whether or not it was a violation of his girlfriend’s privacy to tell him. He decided it couldn’t hurt, just in case the boy knew anything. It’s not like she forbade him to speak of it…

“It’s like this,” Alex sighed before launching into a hurried explanation. “Starting at the beginning, our parents decided for us that they wouldn’t allow us to be trainers officially until we were fifteen, they wanted us to get proper schooling, and honestly we were fine with that. Before we reached their age limit, Kimiko’s father was killed. As far as I know, no one’s really sure of the details, except it wasn’t natural. She was told that his body was found in pieces. So, she’s looking for any information she can get about what happened to him. Also, no one knows where her mother vanished to shortly after that, so she’s had to take care of her little sister for the last five years. I just waited for her. That’s why we’re so old, for the record.”

“Well, that’s a little gross,” Wyatt said, glancing down at his pink ice cream. After a pause he shrugged and stuffed the spoonful in his mouth. “I thought the legal training age was ten? How could your parents get away with keeping you home?”

Alex ignored him. “Look, thanks for the ice cream. I’m going to go talk to her. And do yourself a favor… take her advice. If you’re going into the forest, don’t go alone.”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it!” Kimiko shouted from inside their room. Alex stood in the hallway of the pokémon center outside their current residence, where Kimiko had locked herself inside.

“Kimiko, this isn’t something you can just keep bottled up! Come on, stop making a scene. Let me in so we can talk!”

You’re the one making the scene, Alex! There’s nothing to talk about. Just go away.”

Alex stopped trying to force open the door and just stared at it instead. He then glanced around; sure enough, a few people had come out of their rooms to investigate. He turned his back to the door, deciding to let her have her time alone to recover. “Alright... I’m going to go check on Koyomi.”

He made it four steps before the door opened and Kimiko stepped out, her head bowed and her face a bright pink. Alex turned and watched as she walked over and took his hand, then dragged him back inside, needlessly locking the door again. Alex walked to the bed and sat down; his girlfriend moved beside him. He wrapped his arms around her as she leaned in and laid her forehead against his chest.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said. “Just… don’t leave me.”

So, Alex sat there, his girlfriend clinging to him as she tried to calm herself, while he tried to convince himself yet again that he wasn’t the cause of her current distress.

One week, one healed starfish, and several intense training sessions later, Alex stood opposite Cyrus once again, this time feeling much more confident about his victory. Kimiko sat alone in the stands, Wyatt having departed four days ago for Phantom Village after his second loss. Alex had already grabbed a pokéball and was waiting for Cyrus to choose his. The gym leader grinned as he addressed his foe.

“I’m glad to see you back here. How’s your staryu holding up?”

“Much better now,” Alex replied. “In fact, I think you’ll be surprised by her growth. I’m sure she’d like to say hello, so if you’re ready…”

“Hah, well, aren’t you eager? Alright then. I trust you remember your previous visit?”

Alex nodded. “You said the rules would change.”

“I did indeed. Now,” Cyrus raised his voice as he pulled out not one, but two pokéballs, “we will still not be giving commands to our pokémon. However, my little surprise isn’t much of a surprise now since you’ve been here before. In addition, many trainers take time between their battles to pre-plan a strategy for their pokémon and expect them to perform this plan during the rematch. So, to shake things up, this time we will engage in a double battle instead. I trust you know what that is?”

“Of course,” Alex said, frowning. While he didn’t plan anything specifically for his rematch, per se, he’d spent all his time working individually with his pokémon during their week of training; not once did he have them work together as a team. He had no idea how well they’d cooperate.

“Excellent! Then, let’s get started.” Cyrus tossed his two pokéballs onto his side of the field. The first opened in mid-air, revealing a menacing skarmory. The second one released a strange yellow and black creature on the ground that Alex recognized as a mawile.

Realizing Cyrus had changed his pokémon, Alex studied his two opponents carefully. Koyomi is still an obvious choice, he thought. She’s the only one who can deal any neutral damage to steel-types. But who to pair her with…? Thorn did well against the steelix, but she still can’t really fight back. Diamond is stronger and could probably handle the skarmory with that power gem, and night shade will still deal solid damage… but will he actually work with a partner?

Alex made his choice and threw his two pokéballs to the ground below. Thorn and Koyomi emerged in a flash of light, and looked at each other in confusion after realizing they were both on the field. Koyomi warily turned to their opponents, while Thorn looked up at her trainer.

“Sorry Thorn. This is the rule change. It’s a double battle. Just do what you do, but look after each other, okay?”

The chikorita grinned and cooed happily before turning to her partner. Thorn and Koyomi spoke briefly, though Alex couldn’t imagine what they were saying. He hoped they had a plan, because he sure didn’t expect this.

“Alright then!” Cyrus shouted. “Thorn, Koyomi, are you both ready?” The chikorita nodded and stepped forward eagerly, while the staryu held back a moment before floating beside her teammate. Mawile and Skarmory took their positions as well, Skarmory taking to the air and hovering there.

“Round two, then. Begin!”

Quick note to explain some things: This story was started before X and Y were introduced, when pokémon typings functioned differently. That’s why this chapter mentions sableye being ineffective against steel types (as steel still resisted both ghost and dark at this point in time). The following chapter was posted after X and Y, and does introduce both the fairy-type as well as the other type modifications. This IS vaguely plot-related, and that is the only reason why I haven’t edited this or any previous chapters to pretend these changes always existed, although I won’t say more than that.
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Hello! So, I have finally caught up on your fic it seems. At least as far as you posted it. I liked it very very much! Such lovely characters, a unique setting and an interesting mystery.

I’d like to share my thoughts with you, but since I know you’ve had some bad experiences with reviews in the past, please keep in mind that I always enjoyed your fic, even if I’m pointing out what I didn’t like.
Chapter 1: Catalyst

We open to Alex (15), who trains a Chikorita and teaches her an attack that does not come natural to Chikoritas. We also meet Kimiko (15) and Prof Spruce, and Kimiko’s little sister Michelle (5).

They have a friendly talk about marriage, since Alex and Kimiko have been together for quite a while now. Then there is news on tv about some trainer challenging Cynthia. It goes south fast. Her Milotic dies on screen and Kimiko shuts the tv off. This later becomes known as the Nick Sayre incident or the Champion’s Tragedy.

Timeskip to 5 years later. Kimiko and Michelle talk, Michelle basically throws Kimiko out. We learn about Kimiko’s dire homelife, and what they have been up to. And why they delayed their journey. But now, both 20, Kimiko and Alex finally start their journey.

They are greeted at the pokemon lab rather unceremoniously by Luke Hawkins (assistant), who has pulled an all-nighter and is all-around gross. Alex chooses chikorita Thorn. Kimiko spaces out for a while, and as a results bonds with a baby Mudkips named Radar

Chapter 2: The First Fright

Alex has the grandiose idea to go camping in a haunted forest as their first night out. Him and Thorn have their first fight vs a taillow, which can’t be captured.

A baby weedle is attacked by three duskulls, but Thorn can fight them off. (Thorn quickly becomes the powerhouse of the party.) They treat its wounds and it gets picked up by its swarm, led by a shiny beedrill (who may have belonged to a trainer once)

They are awakened by something unseen, and attacked by a dusclops, a sableye and at least one gastly

Chapter 3: Revenge of the Swarm

The gang is surrounded by ghosts. Thorn tries to fight them back, but is hopelessly outmatched. Luckily, the Beedrill swarm returns and starts fighting the ghosts alongside Thorn.

Kimiko gets abducted by the Dusknoir, and Radar out of all pokemon manages to save her.

Alex catches the Sableye

Kimiko is Not okay, Alex feel guilty about it

Alex heals the injured Beedrill, concludes it def had a trainer before. Out of gratitude, Beedrill leads them out of the forest, and the stay the night in the Pokemon Center

Chapter 4: Fear and Terror

The scene opens to some domestic fluff yay! Also, Kimiko is really steaming hot. They have a lovely couple scene, in which Kimiko is rather Fine, given the events of last night. They watch a tv report about another trainer going missing, while Sableye is Not cooperative.

They enter the Blossom Town gym and meet Nyra, who is really nervous. Kimiko concludes that she has a crush on Alex and is jealous.

They (mainly Alex, Kimiko just tags along) go fishing on a nearby lake to get larger teams. Kimiko shares that she wants to become a psychic type trainer, if she goes monotype, because they are cool.

They are approached by the weird twins (?), ghost type GLs from the Phantom Village in the Whispering Forest. They inquire about their trip and interview Sableye. Alex learns that Sableye knows a lot of advanced techniques that pokemon usually only learn if they had a trainer before.

Alex catches a Staryu and Kimiko and Radar struggle to catch a Clamperl. They also learn that she has already caught a gastly in the forest by accident

Chapter 5: Burning Ambitions

Back in Pokecenter, the gang is really big now. And causes some problems. Clamperl Ariel doesn’t respond to anything, Gastly Fantome only plays pranks, Sableye Diamond is still in his emo phase and Staryu Koyomi vibes. When they wake up the other day, there’s domestic FLUFF! Awww… everything is so happy. Also, Radar is a gem. They train a lot and get to know their pokemon better, then Lillia calls and they catch up.

Chapter 6: Fire, Water, and Grass

Televised Battle Lillia vs Adam, Lillia wins

Gym puzzles are back! Alex and Kimiko chatter on the phone a bit, while Thorn cuts down the tall grass and makes things a lot easier and quicker, leading to them confronting Nyra. Nyra is a lot more confident this time, while Kimiko is still jealous. Alex wins, but only by a hair’s breadth. Thorn is MVP, as always. Nyra has some sick techniques up her sleeve.

Chapter 7: The Champion

We open to shady people talking shady stuff about involving or not involving the champion in some matter.

The scene shifts to a Crobat coming back from his nightly hunting trip and finding his trainer up already. She is definitely Fine and totally hasn’t cried. Sends Crobat to look for her Venonath. Kirsten, the poison type champion of Vidiva, gets called to the League HQ to meet with the E4 and Phobos and Deimos, the Ghost GLs. They discuss the trainers going missing, and it becomes obvious how much the Champions Tragedy has shaken the pokemon world. League officials are now very cautious about when to intervene and when not to, because they might get blamed in case of another trainer dying. There are still splinter cells of the civil war-ing faction

Back to Kimiko and Alex, who are on their way to Ferrum. Kimiko has won her badge, if only by sheer luck

Kirsten investigates the Whispering Forest with her team

Alex and Kimiko run into a severely injured Kirsten and her team

They camp together and bond over the Whispering Forest incident. Alex tries to call Professor Spruce, but he isn’t answering his phone.

Chapter 8: A Ghost of a Chance

Kirsten is at Prof Spruce’s Lab, but finds it abandoned, informs Alex about the situation

Fantome has gotten herself into some delightful trouble, scaring a young trainer. Kimiko recalls her, but Youngster Wyatt wants to battle.

Kimiko does not fare herself well. She is snappy, uncoordinated, doesn’t know what moves Fantome knows (not that she listens) and has the audacity to call Lillia when the fight has already begun (I still don’t know why). Still, Fantome manages a tie with Destiny Bond

Later, Kimiko is obviously hurt by how badly the fight went, questioning her ability as a trainer and if she even wants to continue training. Se reveals that she wanted to go on their journey to find some information about her father’s death

Alex challenges Cyrus, the Ferrum GL

Chapter 9: Act Natural

Alex vs Cyrus, special rules: trainers aren’t allowed to give commands

First off, this is an incredibly uneven fight, especially with a steel type. And the Steelix isn’t holding back. It fights way over what’s fair for a 2nd badge. It is later revealed that victory was never necessary to win the badge, but I would have gone off the deep end if I was presented with those rules.

Steelix straight out flattens Koyomi, who tries her best, but is very uncoordinated. She gets seriously injured when her core breaks. Thorn fights way better than Koyomi, and Alex encourages her, but she goes down regardless

Later they have ice cream, but the mood is sour. Wyatt gives Kimiko some tips on how to work with Ariel before he states that he’s going to venture into the whispering forest. Kimiko gets emotional when she is reminded about her almost-abduction and storms off. Alex tries to comfort her and she’s being difficult, but it’s also very sweet

Alex challenges Cyrus again, this time it’s a double battle

Alex is the main PoV character, and by all means a nice guy. He is friendly and open to new experiences, has a positive outlook on life and gets along with a lot of people. He is very loyal and committed to his girlfriend of six years, Kimiko, for whom he delayed going on his journey for over ten years. In the meantime, both him and Kimiko worked at Prof Spruce’s Lab, where he got to raise and train many of the starters given out.

Of the two, Alex is the one who has a good grip on training pokemon. His team is the stronger one and he is the first one to get any badge, whereas Kimiko usually follows. That translates to his interpersonal relationships, too. He is kind and understanding towards Kimiko, even though she can be a handful sometimes. Between the two, he is also the leading force. After all, without Alex, this entire adventure wouldn’t have started.

Alex feels very guilty about Kimiko’s close encounter with the Dusknoir in the Whispering Forest and is worried that she might have taken more scars away from it, than she leads on. So far, however, this hasn’t manifested as overprotectiveness, as Alex seems to have a very relaxed ‘attitude’ around Kimiko. He isn’t jealous or possessive, and lets her do her own thing without objecting or wanting to control her much.

He also had (or wanted to have) a band at one point, and he plays the guitar. Kimiko wanted to join his band, which I find adorable.


Kimiko is, in many ways, the total opposite to Alex. She is distant and aloof, has a sharp tongue and it’s clear that she likes to fight her fights herself, even if that means keeping everyone at an arm’s length while she deals with her issues. She is responsible and perpetually worried about everyone’s safety, making sure that they have everything etc. She is the cautious force to Alex’s carefree adventuring.

She does Not like to get in the defensive, at all. The moment she feels even a bit slighted or like she loses control, she snaps at Alex, even if he was just joking. But it is clear that Alex knows her well enough to look over it, because he knows what caused it. She also regrets most of her snaps and apologizes later.

Kimiko also does not share her feelings, even though it is very clear that she has plenty of them. Her first reaction to a stressful situation seems to be bottling up any negative emotions and unpacking them later, in a safer environment. Only that later is faaaaaar in the distant future.

She had to grow up very early, acting as the main caregiver to her little sister and her housebound aunt, after the sudden and early death of their parents. From those circumstances, she probably picked up a lot of her traits.

Her protective side and all the years raising her younger sister Michelle come through in her relationship to her starter, Radar. She is very motherly to him, handling him almost like a baby. Which is very very adorable.
First and foremost: Alex and Kimiko’s relationship. It is such a nice change in pace to have a committed relationship, and such an old one at that. Now, I’m not a big romance reader, so maybe not the best one to judge, but I like that we skipped the entire courting and the awkward honeymoon phase for once. They are well attuned to each other, and aside from the occasional little flare of jealousy, there’s not much in the way of drama. It’s all the bonuses from a good platonic relationship plus all the good parts of romance, without the annoyance.

I also adore that they can’t control their pokemon, especially Kimiko. Of the two, Alex has the better grasp on training and it really shows. Them catching very strong pokemon did not whatsoever make them overpowered. Rather, they have tons of problems to control them. It is an interesting dynamic/problem and one that is kinda ‘shameful’, so I don’t see it around often. Very cool.

Big Kudos on Vidiva! I have mad respect for anyone who comes up with an entire custom region and all the people in it. And Vidiva is really interesting. So much centers around the Whispering Forest – how mysterious. The towns feel distinctly like pokemon towns, from the on-the-nose names to them being rather sparse. And I have no complaints about that at all. So far, I don’t have a map of Vidiva, and I don’t miss it. It would be super interesting, yes, but I don’t feel lost yet. Very cool! Reminds me how rarely I get to see custom regions and how incredibly exciting they are.

The domestic fluff between Kimiko and Alex is one of my personal highlights. They are so cute when they cuddle in bed or watch tv together. I love love love that! Kimiko holding a sleeping Radar? Squeee!

I like the battles in this fic. They never take me out of the story. Mostly because my two favorites (Lillia vs Adam and Alex vs Nyra) are official battles and get the full spotlight (they rightfully deserve) with no action and other stakes to distract from them.

With Lillia’s match I was a bit hesitant at first, because a full battle would surely drag out, right? But it didn’t! You skipped the boring parts and fast-forwarded over a few battles, but at the end, it felt like I’ve been through the entire fight no less! And it was really awesome, too! Magmar pulling that pose? He is really an impressive pokemon.

The Alex vs Nyra fight didn’t have the benefit of skipping over the boring parts, because it wasn’t televised like Lillia’s fight. But it was interesting nonetheless. Nyra had some techniques up her sleeve that were really advanced, especially for a first badge GL. And Alex struggling against them felt real. I liked how Diamond was taken out that easily, even though he is a tough little guy. I really appreciate your understanding about pokemon, moves and your ability to combine all of that into gripping ‘cinematics’.

I really love the physical descriptions of the characters. Physical descriptions in written works aren’t important to me, since I’m faceblind anyways. I can’t really picture people when I’m imagining the scene, and most of the time, an extended physical description takes up too much of my focus. But what I love about your descriptions are the very distinct designs of the major characters. They feel distinctly like they come from a pokemon game, to which – hats off. I struggle so much emulating pokemon’s character style, and your characters all feel like Sugimori could have drawn them himself.

The Champion's Tragedy. That is a very interesting concept you’ve scraped there. I’m always down for League politics. And a full blown terrorist organisation and a pokemon dying on screen – Cynthia’s pokemon no less – really sets the stakes. Though I wonder if there is something to the claims that the league is being sloppy. Also, the disappearances are an interesting mystery and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more about them. Generally, your rather ‘cold’ worldbuilding (trainer go missing and it’s just a footnote in the news) is very intriguing.

Another thing I like is how ruthless you are to Kimiko. She is such a sweet character, with a lot of issues, and yes, training pokemon isn’t her strong suit. But you went so hard on her, I could never imagine myself doing that. When she battled Wyatt, it was almost painful to watch. I think there wasn’t a single thing she did ‘right’. I wouldn’t have the guts to do that to my characters. Also, when she snaps at Alex, the narration makes it very clear that she is in the wrong. Luckily for her, Alex knows her well enough to look past it, when every other person (including the reader) would be a bit put off by her behavior. I like that a lot. Characters don’t need to be likable to be interesting, and Kimiko is definitely interesting.

Radar. In general
The descriptions of the towns they are in are a bit short. Don’t get me wrong, rooms and outdoor locations are described in a way that I feel like I’m there (for example: I can’t really paint a picture of the lake where they caught Koyomi and Ariel, but the atmosphere between the lines and the description of Kimiko and the pokemon sunbathing gave me a very nice picture in my head). But the towns themselves aren’t really that different from each other. Mostly because they don’t actually spend a lot of time in town.

A notable exception to this is Blossom Town. Blossom Town has a distinct theme, and you described the oddities (gardens, gravel roads) very lovely. I could have taken another paragraph of that, but that was already very nice!

Chapter 7 is a very mixed bag for me. The opening was mysterious, but in the end it confused me more than it helped me. In the grander picture, I also feel like the shady and mysterious aura wasn’t warranted? Like, what they discuss is pretty tame and they resolve their argument by the end of the next scene. We also get the conclusion to who these characters were only two scenes later, so there is no greater mystery or conspiracy going on.

The interaction between the E4, Kirsten and Phobos and Daymos did not quite work for me, especially the first part, where everyone is introduced. The description of the E4 members is very visual, and that’s a treasure trove if you ever have them drawn. They are very distinct in design, but since I didn’t have a picture to go with, the descriptions were rather distracting. Like, I tried to picture them, and then had forgotten what they were talking about. It also wasn’t helped by the fact that a lot of things got explained at once and the dialogue was often broken up by exposition (which wasn’t bad, I liked the exposition). But it made it harder to assign a personality to the E4 members. My suggestion would be to keep it simple here and introduce them by name, and maybe their type, so readers have two things to remember about them. I’m sure they have time later to shine and to get a full intro like with Devin.

Speaking of introductions, the introduction of Kirsten took a tiny bit too long for my taste to reveal her name. But that’s a very minor nitpick. After I shook off the confusion of the first scene and ‘accepted’ that we follow a new PoV-character now, it was actually very intriguing. It showed a melancholic side to her character that wouldn’t shine through in her other interactions.

Aside from that, however, I enjoyed chapter 7 quite a lot. It shook things up and showed the grander scope of things for the first time. I don’t want to come off too negative here. I was just generally very confused in the first half.

What I didn’t like – but that is not a critique whatsoever of your writing but more of the character – was Kimiko calling Lillia when she fought Wyatt. Like, that was such a no-go. I even went back when I first read it to make sure I didn’t skip something, but it was Kimiko who called her. And the convo also didn’t go anywhere? At first I thought she wanted to ask for tips about how to deal with a Magby, seeing how Lillia has a Magmar herself, but nothing like that happened. In the end it was just distracting her. Absolutely nothing wrong about how you wrote it, I’m just angry with Kimiko. And maybe that I couldn’t tell why she called Lillia.

The name Bill. Wyatt lost in my books the moment he called his Magby Bill.
There is one continuation error in chapter 1, I think. When Alex picks Thorn, there is a line that indicates that she is still very young. But it is also indicated that she was the Chikorita he trained with before the time-skip. So logically, Thorn should be five years old by now.

I can put it here, why not: Pls update!!!! I know you have way more stuff on ff.net, but that site gives me eyesores. Also, I can’t copy the text to fit it into an .epub format so I can listen to it. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of formatting it for TR, you can send me any text file where I can copy-paste the text from. Then I’ll put it into my file. But pls moar.

Thanks a lot for the read and I’m looking forward to where this is going.

Keep up the good work! Cheers – blue


  1. sableye
Oh my, Blue! I admit I'm surprised anyone's come to my fic at this point, given how little I update/discuss it. And I was admittedly a little worried, but after reading your thoughts, I'm very much more at ease! I'll try to reply to the things I think really need it or that I have something to comment on.

First and foremost: Alex and Kimiko’s relationship. It is such a nice change in pace to have a committed relationship, and such an old one at that. Now, I’m not a big romance reader, so maybe not the best one to judge, but I like that we skipped the entire courting and the awkward honeymoon phase for once. They are well attuned to each other, and aside from the occasional little flare of jealousy, there’s not much in the way of drama. It’s all the bonuses from a good platonic relationship plus all the good parts of romance, without the annoyance.

I'm really glad you're enjoying the fluff! I thought maybe I might be going overboard, especially with the towel scene given that that is not what the fic is about at all, and because I'm not really a romance writer at all. I do try to keep their relationship very close, even during arguments/disagreements. They know each other enough by now to want each other's company even when they're mad at each other.

Big Kudos on Vidiva! I have mad respect for anyone who comes up with an entire custom region and all the people in it. And Vidiva is really interesting. So much centers around the Whispering Forest – how mysterious. The towns feel distinctly like pokemon towns, from the on-the-nose names to them being rather sparse. And I have no complaints about that at all. So far, I don’t have a map of Vidiva, and I don’t miss it. It would be super interesting, yes, but I don’t feel lost yet. Very cool! Reminds me how rarely I get to see custom regions and how incredibly exciting they are.

Honestly I've wanted to whip up a proper map of the region for a long time now (I have a crude hand-drawn one but I am not known for my art skills). I've just been too lazy to find someone to commission; most of the people on TR do characters, I haven't seen anyone (that I know of) who does settings/maps. But I'm glad you're liking my little not-paradise! : ^_^

I like the battles in this fic. They never take me out of the story. Mostly because my two favorites (Lillia vs Adam and Alex vs Nyra) are official battles and get the full spotlight (they rightfully deserve) with no action and other stakes to distract from them.

Battles are something I do try to pay special attention to, unlike the romance! Despite Pokemon as a series making battles important, they're ironically often not in fic, so I try to make any I include at least somewhat interesting to read.

The Champion's Tragedy. That is a very interesting concept you’ve scraped there. I’m always down for League politics. And a full blown terrorist organisation and a pokemon dying on screen – Cynthia’s pokemon no less – really sets the stakes. Though I wonder if there is something to the claims that the league is being sloppy. Also, the disappearances are an interesting mystery and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot more about them. Generally, your rather ‘cold’ worldbuilding (trainer go missing and it’s just a footnote in the news) is very intriguing.

The Champion's Tragedy is an event from Pedestal, another fic which my fic is largely based on, so there will definitely be hearing more about that. The 'cold' worldbuilding right now is mostly just setting the time; my intent for the fic is to focus on the badge quest part first, and then kick off the second half / True Plot afterwards (so the missing trainers, etc. are just setting up for that so it doesn't look like it came out of nowhere later.)

Another thing I like is how ruthless you are to Kimiko. She is such a sweet character, with a lot of issues, and yes, training pokemon isn’t her strong suit. But you went so hard on her, I could never imagine myself doing that. When she battled Wyatt, it was almost painful to watch. I think there wasn’t a single thing she did ‘right’. I wouldn’t have the guts to do that to my characters. Also, when she snaps at Alex, the narration makes it very clear that she is in the wrong. Luckily for her, Alex knows her well enough to look past it, when every other person (including the reader) would be a bit put off by her behavior. I like that a lot. Characters don’t need to be likable to be interesting, and Kimiko is definitely interesting.

I mean, characters aren't interesting if they're flawless, yeah? I'm glad I'm doing her justice (I mean, in some twisted way, hah)! Although I do want her to be likable, but that doesn't mean she can't be wrong, too. The idea is to eventually show her growth as a trainer via her "what happened to my dad?" arc and the end of the story.

The descriptions of the towns they are in are a bit short. Don’t get me wrong, rooms and outdoor locations are described in a way that I feel like I’m there (for example: I can’t really paint a picture of the lake where they caught Koyomi and Ariel, but the atmosphere between the lines and the description of Kimiko and the pokemon sunbathing gave me a very nice picture in my head). But the towns themselves aren’t really that different from each other. Mostly because they don’t actually spend a lot of time in town.

So you're talking about just, the towns' image overall? Yeah, I do tend to skim over the locations themselves since most of the time they're not super relevant, but I suppose I could go a bit more into detail than I currently do. Given how much attention I try to give to battles, I guess I should be trying to set a setting, too.

Chapter 7 is a very mixed bag for me. The opening was mysterious, but in the end it confused me more than it helped me. In the grander picture, I also feel like the shady and mysterious aura wasn’t warranted? Like, what they discuss is pretty tame and they resolve their argument by the end of the next scene. We also get the conclusion to who these characters were only two scenes later, so there is no greater mystery or conspiracy going on.

Hm. The idea with that scene is to cast doubt on the pair before the following scene attempts to ease that doubt. I'm trying to give the twins a but of a "are they a villain or aren't they?" feel, but it doesn't appear I'm quite nailing that, huh? I did want to make it obvious that they were the gym leaders, while keeping that sort of mysterious feel.

The interaction between the E4, Kirsten and Phobos and Daymos did not quite work for me, especially the first part, where everyone is introduced. The description of the E4 members is very visual, and that’s a treasure trove if you ever have them drawn. They are very distinct in design, but since I didn’t have a picture to go with, the descriptions were rather distracting. Like, I tried to picture them, and then had forgotten what they were talking about. It also wasn’t helped by the fact that a lot of things got explained at once and the dialogue was often broken up by exposition (which wasn’t bad, I liked the exposition). But it made it harder to assign a personality to the E4 members. My suggestion would be to keep it simple here and introduce them by name, and maybe their type, so readers have two things to remember about them. I’m sure they have time later to shine and to get a full intro like with Devin.

That's interesting! I've always heard that it's best to try to give visuals on the characters in the scene right away, just not in like, infodump paragraphs, so while I attempted to do that here, I can see how it might get complicated with multiple new characters all appearing at once. I do like the thought of using just names and type specialty, though. I do plan to have them all make small cameos elsewhere in the story at some point, as with Devin.

Speaking of introductions, the introduction of Kirsten took a tiny bit too long for my taste to reveal her name. But that’s a very minor nitpick. After I shook off the confusion of the first scene and ‘accepted’ that we follow a new PoV-character now, it was actually very intriguing. It showed a melancholic side to her character that wouldn’t shine through in her other interactions.

I see! Yes, I wanted to intentionally switch up the PoV for at least a few scenes to show some setup and, as you said, a side of her personality, that generally would not be shown via following Alex and Kimiko alone. Helping with that plot setup, etc.

What I didn’t like – but that is not a critique whatsoever of your writing but more of the character – was Kimiko calling Lillia when she fought Wyatt. Like, that was such a no-go. I even went back when I first read it to make sure I didn’t skip something, but it was Kimiko who called her. And the convo also didn’t go anywhere? At first I thought she wanted to ask for tips about how to deal with a Magby, seeing how Lillia has a Magmar herself, but nothing like that happened. In the end it was just distracting her. Absolutely nothing wrong about how you wrote it, I’m just angry with Kimiko. And maybe that I couldn’t tell why she called Lillia.

The goal here was like... in a previous chapter, Lillia was supposed to call Kimiko first. And I just totally forgot that detail, until someone asked what happened with it. I used this chapter (well, the magby) to remind Kimiko in-universe that she hadn't heard from her friend yet - and with all the missing trainers, she was worried and decided some silly battle with some silly little boy could wait until she made sure she could contact her MIA friend. (I probably would edit this out in a later revision, should I ever go back and actually do revisions, but I figured at least addressing it would be better than just... not.) I guess it wasn't very clear, though.

The name Bill. Wyatt lost in my books the moment he called his Magby Bill.


Wyatt's naming theme is "human names" and... magmar kind of looks like a duck which have bills, so... /insert shrug emote here

There is one continuation error in chapter 1, I think. When Alex picks Thorn, there is a line that indicates that she is still very young. But it is also indicated that she was the Chikorita he trained with before the time-skip. So logically, Thorn should be five years old by now.

Huh. I actually intended to imply that Thorn was not the same chikorita from the "prologue" scene. Was there something specific that game you that interpretation?

I can put it here, why not: Pls update!!!! I know you have way more stuff on ff.net, but that site gives me eyesores. Also, I can’t copy the text to fit it into an .epub format so I can listen to it. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of formatting it for TR, you can send me any text file where I can copy-paste the text from. Then I’ll put it into my file. But pls moar.

Definitely! I meant to post some more updates before Blitz but now that it's happening, I don't really want to give the impression that I'm only posting to get people to come review, so I'll probably wait until after. But I have 20 total chapters so far!

Whew, that was a lot! Thanks for reading, and I'm glad you enjoyed! Also totally sorry I didn't see this until now, I don't check the forums daily and honestly I wasn't expecting anyone to come for me. xD


Gym Leader
  1. suicune
  2. umbreon
  3. mew
  4. lycanroc-wes
  5. leafeon-rui

wow. I’ve been meaning to get to this fic for a LONG time and I’m so sorry it’s taken me this long to finally sit down and start reading! I was hoping to get the first three chapters reviewed today, but alas, I am running out of fuel so I’m just doing chapter one today. It was a delight to read!! 💛 Kimiko and Alex are an adorable couple, and you write their romance really well without going overboard into sappy territory.

A very nice start to the story! I’m excited to come back for more!

The chikorita nodded in acknowledgement and begun to rapidly spin her leaf.
“You’ve learned a move that most other chikorita will never know, and you don’t even have a trainer yet.
Oh! So this isn’t even his Pokémon! I was surprised by this.
“Stop that,” his girlfriend demanded. “Maybe if you’d give me a ring, you wouldn’t feel the need to get so jealous.”
OH DANG, Kimiko does not mess around 🤣
Kimiko crossed her arms over her chest, and Alex couldn’t help but stare and look her over. She was gorgeous, and especially now that they were on the marriage subject, he smiled at the sight of her, wondering how he got so lucky.
Aww this was so precious. I love how gentle and quiet their love is—it’s not constantly smothering each other in kisses and sappy compliments, it’s not yelling from the rooftops or bragging about their SO in every conversation—it just is. And it feels so natural and sweet this way.
The four of them watched as the boy continued ranting – screaming, really – at the woman across from him. He shouted something about two killings by a monster, and then about how Cynthia did nothing to prevent it. He followed that up by declaring that she had done nothing to protect any of the trainers in her region and how she wasn’t a real trainer.
One of them was obviously the news reporter, and judging by the beaten up empoleon the other boy sent out, he had probably been the challenger that had been being filmed – and an unsuccessful one at that.
Wow you remember every detail, even Archie!!! I LOVE THIS OMG
“Look,” Michelle continued, oblivious to her older sister’s inner turmoil. “I’m ten now, so legally I could go off training on my own if I wanted to. I could go out and get my license and just leave and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.” Kimiko nodded; she wondered why her sister wasn’t doing just that. “But that wouldn’t be fair. You’ve waited, like, over ten years for your turn, and because of…” The redhead faltered at the memory, but after a moment’s hesitation, she plowed on ahead; “Because of dad… and then taking care of me and auntie, you had to put your entire life on hold. Because of me. Because you had to look after me. But now I wanna do something for you. I’m old enough for that now. I can look after myself, and I can look after auntie. I already go food shopping all by myself. Auntie doesn’t even need to leave home. You don’t have to worry about us anymore. I can do it!”
Awww Michelle is a gem! So mature and selfless of her. I love the way these two sisters care for each other.
“Okay already, you win.” The blond pulled her little sister close in a tight hug. She could rest her chin on the younger girl’s head now – when had she gotten so tall? “I love you, Michelle, you know that?”

“Gross, don’t get all sappy on me!”
Lololol SIBLINGS. Michelle is such a sass, I love her character.
Kimiko looked away and muttered something under her breath, but it did not go unnoticed by her partner, having been so accustomed to this behavior over the years.

“It was not a stupid decision,” he said, regretting his suggestion to postpone their journey further.
!! I love this so much! This is another example of showing how close they are without shoving it in the reader’s face. He knows her so well, he doesn’t even have to hear what she’s mumbling to know what she’s saying. Precious. 💛
Ever since the Nick Sayre incident in Sinnoh – the Champion’s Tragedy, as they called it over there – there were fewer kids becoming trainers all over the world, and Vidiva was no exception.
MMMM I love that you worked the events of Pedestal into your worldbuilding here. I’m curious if Pedestal’s plot will ever play a factor in this story’s plot? Does Kimiko’s missing father have any connection to it?? 👀
Spruce had considered selling them off to breeders, who were always looking for rarer pokémon – apparently, he knew a good one, coincidentally living in Sinnoh.
He looked as if he’d been up all night – his white lab coat was unbuttoned, open, and stained with what looked like coffee, and the red tie he was wearing was actually untied and lazily thrown around his neck. His dark brown hair was ruffled and sticking out in places, as if it had been pulled at multiple times. The man’s glasses were ever so slightly lopsided and his blue eyes bloodshot. On the desk next to his paper sat what appeared to be the remains of some sort of meat on a plate and, indeed, a nearly empty pot of coffee.
Ahahaha. Idk if you watch BNHA or not, but this guy has massive Aizawa energy. Just “I’m too tired for this crap” vibes.
Though not old, Luke’s memory was deteriorating rapidly.
Oh?? :( is there a reason for this? That’s kind of alarming. And sad.
The professors could work with multiple trainers’ extra pokémon without having to have dedicated room for each of them, and trainers could access their entire collections from their pokédex, swapping their teams around at will.
Oooo this is nifty
“What? Oh! Oh my… I’m so terribly sorry, I’m just extremely tired you see and I’ve gone through a few mugs of coffee this morning working on that paper on mega evolution and my memory isn’t what it normally is under these conditions, but you obviously know how I normally-”
Ahaha Luke is a whole mood and a half here. I take it back, he’s more earnest than Aizawa. Poor guy needs some actual sleep. Why WAS he up all night anyway?
One pokéball was apparently not secured well in its place and fell to the ground, where it opened in a flash of light. When the light faded, a small, blue pokémon had appeared next to chikorita. Alex recognized the tiny creature as a mudkip, but not one he had ever worked with before – it had only hatched about a week ago, and newborns were tended to by Spruce directly.



I don’t even need to read the rest of the fic to place this at a 10/10 now
Kimiko pulled her hand back as Chikorita walked up to the shaking creature and sniffed it. The mudkip seemed to be frozen in fear as Chikorita walked around it, sniffing curiously. After making a full circle, she looked at mudkip with a smile and said, “Rita!”

Mudkip screamed in terror and ran forward, diving into Kimiko’s skirt in an attempt to hide as Kimiko and Chikorita looked at each other in surprise.

Ahaha this was both endearing and hilarious. Poor scaredy Kip! I hope he overcomes his anxieties eventually.
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