Thankfully, there was only one female Team Flare grunt down the mine shaft, both of her Pokemon easily defeated by Felix, to the grunt’s immense annoyance. She took off at a run in the same direction as the earlier grunt, especially when the Charmeleon sent a plume of flames after her.
Evangeline gave him a discouraging whap on the back of the head for it, but her heart wasn’t in it. After all, what would she have done if the grunt had decided that just because her Pokemon were defeated, she wasn’t done fighting? And he hadn’t been aiming to hurt. “Come on, let’s keep moving,” she coaxed him, turning away from the tracks and deeper into the cave.
The path curved around again, narrowing though not as badly as the earlier half of the caves. Perfect, though for two more Grunts to create a bottleneck.
Both gave her what they probably thought were model-esque poses, though honestly they just looked likely. The boy declared, “We’re Team Flare! We put the fashion into fear!”
Meanwhile, the girl just looked put-out. “We’re looking for fossils, but were discovered by a kid!”
What did they expect? The Fossil Lab wasn’t exactly making this place a secret. Evangeline narrowed her eyes, bracing herself for a fight.
“Evangeline!” Xavier shouted behind her, coming up at a run. He stumbled to stop, seeing the situation she was in. “So, there are two members of Team Flare this time…” He turned his head to look at her with an eager grin. “Are you ready to battle alongside me again, neighbor?”
This time, the suggestion also made her smile. These two grunts didn’t know what they were in for. “Yes,” she agreed.
“I just fought with another one of these Team Flare guys. They won’t stand a chance against us,” he declared, throwing out his first Pokemon: his Espurr. Evangeline joined him with Felix, and the fight was on.
Not that it was easy. Felix weathered the hits, but Xavier’s Espurr was replaced first by his Absol, and then by his Quilladin. In the end, they managed to get the necessary wins by the skin of their teeth. Evangeline bit her lower lip, though, through most of it, and made a mental note to mention to Xavier that he really needed to reconsider some of his battle choices. Using an attack that protected against special-type attacks didn’t do a lot of good when their opponents were using primarily physical-type moves.
Xavier stepped up, acting the part of the big hero. “If you’re just trying to make yourselves happy, I won’t stop you. But when you threaten people, it’s like who do you think you are, anyway?”
She rolled her eyes upward. Oh, that didn’t sound childish at all.
The male grunt looked over his appearance. “Oh man! My favorite, fashionable Team Flare suit is filthy!” He pivoted on his heels and took off down the mine shaft again, hopefully back whatever way he came.
His partner stomped her foot. “If we can restore fossils, we can make some good money!” she sulked, chasing after him. “The boss isn’t going to like this…”
Evangeline wasn’t particularly surprised. It took money to finance criminal operations of any sort, the question was what the big picture was. Shaking her head, she continued onward, just to be sure there weren’t any other grunts causing trouble for the dig assistant.
No one else turned up, except a gentleman in a white research’s coat. Xavier was behind her, and he craned his head to try and look around her. “Is he there?” he asked in a hiss.
It caught the research’s attention, or seeing movement out of the corner of his eyes did. “Why hello!” he said, quickly setting down his tools and turning around. “Here to look for fossils as well?”
She didn’t have a chance to answer, since Xavier stepped around her and immediately asked, “Was Team Flare here?”
Bless his heart, the research just tilted his head to the side in confusion. “Teemphlair? What’s that? A Pokemon?”
Xavier groaned. “Never mind…” he muttered. Evangeline covered her mouth to keep her giggles quiet. He gave her a sheepish grin. “Guess he was so absorbed with looking for fossils, he didn’t notice.”
The research clapped his hands together to get their attention back on him. “You two are very lucky you came upon me just now, you know. I just now found two fossils! But they’re both ones I already have, so I’ll give one to each of you. Do you want the Jaw Fossil or the Sail Fossil?”
“Jaw Fossil?” Xavier expressed interest, moving to get a closer look. Evangeline came behind him to look at the other, this Sail Fossil. It was beautiful and glistening, surprising her, as it seemed to reflect all the colors of the rainbow.
“So, the Sail Fossil for you, and the Jaw Fossil for you?” he asked both teenagers to confirm their selections.
“I’ll take this one,” Xavier confirmed, and Evangeline gave a quick nod, holding the fossil close.
The researcher grinned at them. “Wonderful. I’ll restore your Fossils and turn them back into Pokemon at the Fossil Lab! For now, I must return with these other samples. Hope to see you there!” Gathering up what he needed, he walked back down the path. She hoped it was safe for him now, and that between her and Xavier, they had managed to run any threats to those samples off.
Xavier shook his head, looking like he had a headache. “So, we went looking for the assistant, and we found that suspicious group called Team Flare as well…”
“I have a feeling that was more accidental than the Lab purposefully sending us in the way of trouble,” she pointed out quietly.
He nodded to show he agreed. “Still, with those Team Flare people running around, it would be better to train more so I can travel safely. I guess the best thing to do to get tougher is to challenge the Cyllage City Gym.” He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes. “What about you?”
She took a deep breath. This had been a distraction, but Cho’s grief was still on her heart. Just not as heavy. “I think I’ll stick around here for a couple of days,” she admitted quietly, “Explore some of the roads a little better. I think I got so distracted with pushing ahead, I started making mistakes. Plus I have a lot of new Pokemon to learn about and train up. Cyllage is close enough, I might as well train for it here and then go to the Gym.”
With a nod, Xavier gave her an awkward hug. “Alright. Take care of yourself, alright? If you don’t catch up with us soon, I’ll come back and drag you along.”
She managed a laugh. “Alright. See you soon.” They parted ways, with Evangeline poking her nose around a little more while he hurried on. She had a feeling he had delayed his trip, just to make sure she was alright. There was a piece of amber that looked interesting. Evangeline pocketed it to take back with her.
The Rhyhorn from before was waiting for her, though thankfully not the rain. It even seemed to make him moderately more cheerful. She was relieved not to have to put on her raincoat again herself. Once she reached town, she stopped by the lab first, where the research assistant was already behind the counter and recognized her on site.
He also recognized the amber she pulled out while digging for her fossil that he had given her. Taking both, he disappeared in the back before she could stop him, making her frown. He came back with two Pokeballs. “Your Sail Fossil has become an Amaura, and that Old Amber actually contained enough scales from an Aerodactyl,” he said excitedly. “You can use the computer there, to free up slots for these two, if you need them.”
Startled, she did as he said, shifting her team around to take on her two new Pokemon. “Thank you,” she said with a quick bow of her head.
“You are more than welcome,” he assured her with a smile. “Best of luck with your new friends!”
She smiled and nodded, taking her exit, still feeling a little numb. Evangeline hadn’t expected to mean having this many new Pokemon when she mentioned them to Xavier! Back at the Center, she used one of the terminals to look through her box with a frown. Amaura, Aerodactyl, Sandile, Mawile…and Inkay. She took a deep breath, and took out all the new Pokemon, as well as Kakashi.
First, she let out her starter Pokemon. “Time to meet all the newcomers,” she told him. “Five of them.”
He tilted his head in confusion, counting off in his head and realizing who she was including. His face darkened a little. “If you let the one go, no one will blame you,” he said bluntly.
“I know they won’t,” she said, grimacing. “And trust me, I’m tempted. But I’m not going to judge it without meeting it first. Do you have a problem with that?”
Kakashi crossed his arms, considering. “I think I’m okay with it,” he said slowly. “The others might take longer to come around, but it’s going to depend on the Inkay’s personality, you know?”
She nodded, since that did make sense. “We’ll save it for last,” she promised, and reached for the first Pokeball. The Sandile was a serious little fellow who for some reason reminded Evangeline of a bouncer at a club. The first nickname she could think of was the same as one of her guards as a child who hadn’t been native to Kanto–Lars. Surprisingly, he liked it.
Next on the list was the Mawile. She seemed a little less sure of her surroundings, outside of the cave, but she raised her chin up rather than admit it. She took on the nickname Chiko, and rather than be recalled, she insisted on staying out to help Kakashi if any of the others ended up being trouble.
Of course, that felt superfluous with the next one. The Amaura, despite its size, was shy as any story about wild Pikachu. But when she suggested finding him a new Trainer if he preferred it, he firmly shook his head and tucked his head into her body with a happy croon. “Awww, you’re just a big baby,” she cooed over him. “It’s alright, Felix didn’t talk much either.” Though with Felix being of Fire and this new Pokemon being of Ice, she wasn’t sure if they would actually be friends. She nicknamed him Etienne and let him return to his Pokeball.
The Aerodactyl was the completely other side of the coin. She was bubbly and eager to meet her new friends, despite her size. When Evangeline offered her an apple, it seemed to cement their friendship. She chomped down on it and eagerly looked for me. Evangeline made a mental note to carry more food on her person for when she was carrying this Pokemon, who she dubbed Emi.
There was only one left. Chiko didn’t understand what was happening, but she stayed out with Kakashi in a fit of stubbornness, especially when Kakashi quietly explained what this particular Pokemon was to blame for. “It may have been an accident, but you never know how it’ll react to the news,” she said bluntly.
That surprisingly made her feel a little better about it. “Alright,” she said, “here we go.”
With a twist of her wrists, she released the Inkay responsible for Cho’s death from it’s Pokeball.
Immediately, it swarmed up to Evangeline. “Is that Vivilion alright?” she asked, worrying her tentacles. “It’s been a couple of days, hasn’t it? I didn’t know if you would ever let me out so I can find out, and none of your other Pokemon would talk to me about it…” She paused and muttered, “None of them wanted to talk to me period.”
Evangeline swallowed. “No, she wasn’t,” she admitted. “I’m sorry you were fretting.”
“And I’m sorry that it happened,” the Inkay said, deflating a little, her eyes big and watery. “I would understand completely if you released me back to the wild. Really, I don’t mind.”
If nothing else, that statement alone melted any lingering resentment Evangeline would have had. “It’s not your fault either,” she said. “It was… It was an accident.” Saying the words herself made it feel more real to her too.
The Inkay nodded a little. “Okay. I… I’m going to work really hard to show you, all of you,” she added after glancing at Chiko and Kakashi. “That I want to be on the team and I’m sorry I took someone away to do it.”
“Alright,” Evangeline agreed, and reached out to pat the Inkay on the head. “How about a nickname, hmm? A sign of approval to the others.” Thinking, she suggested Kanna, a name that meant white lily, as a sign of Inkay’s penance. She nodded in approval.