Category Archives: Nuzlocke

NaNo 17, Day 27: Team Flare, New Faces, and Closure

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.

Lars (Sandile)

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.

Chiko

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.

Etienne (Amaura)

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.

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.

Kanna (Inkay)

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NaNo 17, Day 26: Grief, and Learning to Move On

It was a long night. Evangeline couldn’t sleep, and her remaining Pokemon took shifts with her. The only one who stayed up the whole time was Kakashi, which spoke of how worried they were, if the one who loved nodding off stayed up with her. Even the new Fairy Type got in on the action, though Evangeline didn’t have the heart to offer her a nickname even in gratitude for the way she offered cuddles. Thankfully, Antoine and Haruka took over, using a computer to pull up a list of names that they thought Evangeline and the Flabébé could both like, settling on Hikari for the new little one.

Hikari (Flabebe)

The Meditite was trickier, but she also eventually came around during the odd hours after midnight. She fetched water and food for whoever was on shift, and while she didn’t know Cho herself, she realized how much she met to the Pokemon who had been on the team longer, listening to the stories that they quietly told each other. When asked, she admitted to having a nickname once before, given to her by a Trainer who had let her go after catching a stronger Meditite. Rather than change it completely, Henri was the one who came up with enough changes to it that she felt comfortable with it.

Stephanie (Meditite)

The Inkay never left the box.

Nurse Joy was efficient in the morning with walking Evangeline through the burial process. Due to Cho’s excitement when her wings came in, they decided to scatter the remains to the winds. Being on a cliff-side town just made it easier. Even if it was hard for Evangeline to stay standing the entire time. There was a neat little form that let her get an engraved plate for Cho to put on display.

Xavier found her around noon, playing with the plate of food Joy had set in front of her despite protests. “Hey,” he said softly. “Sorry about your Vivilion.”

She nodded to receive his sympathy, but didn’t feel like saying anything else.

He sighed as he sat next to her. “I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it really was an accident,” he said, keeping his tone gentle rather than trying to pick a fight. “Even the best of Trainers can have them.”

“It was going okay, and then…” Evangeline whispered.

“It went bad in a hurry,” he said with a sigh. “I’d hug you, but your Pokemon might hurt me. The Charmeleon in particular seems rather irritable.”

“Cranky teenager phase, can’t talk, doesn’t know how to express himself,” she muttered. “Felix means well.”

“They usually do.” Xavier sat opposite her and picked some of her food off of her plate with a spare fork. “I don’t know your grieving patterns, so what would you prefer? To be left alone for a few days? An escort home?”

She absently used her own fork to smack the back of his hand so he’d leave her lunch alone. Evangeline wasn’t completely sure about her grieving patterns, so how could she explain them to Xavier? Stalling for time, she took a few bites of the food, surprised to feel a little bit of energy returning. Maybe that was the trick. “A distraction?” she suggested.

He blinked, and leaned back in the chair. “Distraction, huh?” Xavier watched her eat a few bites, though whether because he was thinking or because he wanted to keep her from accidentally starving herself, she didn’t know. Tilting his head, he pulled out his map of the town and looked it over. “How about the fossil lab?” he suggested.

She craned her neck to try and look at the map. “They have one of those here?”

“Yeah, the mountains around here are full of fossils.” He let her look, pointing out where it was. South of town, obviously where she hadn’t gone already. “Let’s go check it out, see what they have going on.”

Evangeline nodded and turned to go figure out who to take with her on such a trip. She hesitated when she saw the Inkay still in the box. Maybe… Maybe she’d be able to deal with it when she got back. Due to the mountain climate, Evangeline pulled all her Water and Grass Types together, as well as Felix since he was feeling particularly clingy and you never knew when a Steel Type would show up. Henri and Kagura also insisted on coming along, rounding out the team.

They set out together, walking the streets. Evangeline had to tell herself that no one was staring. The lab was a grey building, oddly shaped but functional. They walked inside, where yellow tile floors tried to warm up clinical white walls, racks of fossil bones on display. Evangeline looked over them briefly weaving her way back to the main lab.

“Wait for me,” Xavier hissed when he fell behind.

“Then don’t get so distracted,” she hissed back, hoping her smile kept it teasing, despite how lackluster she still felt.

He sniffed and walked ahead of her, like that was really going to irk her. Rolling her eyes, she let him be the one who caught the attention of the two scientists. The woman seemed calm, but the man was excitable. “Welcome, future archaeologists!” he greeted. “You were drawn here by the mystique of fossils, no doubt!”

“Something like that. I’m Xavier, and this is Evangeline,” the male Trainer introduced them both. “We’re researching Mega Evolution. Do you know anything about it?”

“Oho! So you’re Professor Sycamore’s students,” he said, adjusting his glasses. Evangeline glanced at Xavier. Is that what they were? He shrugged back, just as confused. “I’ve heard about you. Mega Evolution, you say… I’m sorry, but all I know is that it has something to do with mysterious stones…”

It was a disappointing answer, but not unexpected. If the answers were readily available, the professor wouldn’t have them poking their noses into it all.

“Still, since you’re students of the professor, you must know about Pokemon fossils, correct?” the research asked eagerly.

“Yes,” Evangeline said with a nod. While she hadn’t ever visited the museums, she knew something about them. In fact, a lot of museums were having to argue to keep their fossils as just that rather than awakening them into Pokemon.

“Wonderful! I expect no less from Professor Sycamore’s students!” he said with a grin. “Fossils are the legacy of prehistoric Pokemon.” He gestured to the shelves behind him, which held some impressive skulls and bones but no complete skeletons. “You should really go to the dig site and see the real thing firsthand.”

Xavier nodded, trying to look polite. “Is that so? Well, if you don’t know anything about Mega Evolution…”

Evangeline rammed her elbow into his ribs, making him yelp and cutting him off before he said anything even more insulting.

The female scientist looked up from her paper work, glaring behind her own glasses. “Hold on! Pokemon that can be restored from fossils just might have something to do with Mega Evolution. The assistant in Glittering Cave right now might know about that!” She gave Evangeline a look, who just shrugged helplessly. She was Xavier’s friend, not his keeper, and she had no interest in being promoted, if you wanted to call it that. She also wasn’t going to throw him under the rug, not when he was being nice and distracting her like she asked.

“Well…” he said, tucking his hands into his pockets. “As long as I’m here, I guess I’ll go see that assistant.” He glanced at her. “Heading to Glittering Cave, Ladybird?”

Translation, was she up for the trip. Thinking about it, she nodded. Yeah, a trip to some caves shouldn’t be too bad.

Unlike her, Xavier hadn’t grabbed the right Pokemon for a mountain trek. He urged her to continue on by herself. She waved her hand to agree, and went ahead without him. Unfortunately, as soon as she stepped out of the main building, it started to rain. Swearing, she dug in her bag and pulled out her raincoat, slipping on the powder pink vinyl and tucking the hood over her hat just in case the wind picked up with it. Her boots were tall enough, she wasn’t too worried about her legs getting soaked.

The poor Rhyhorn waiting at the beginning of a rather hazardous trail, though, looked miserable. They shook some of the water running off their stone hides, grumbling under their breaths. A saddle was on each of their backs to make riding more comfortable, and there was a sign overhead indicating that the path ahead was only travel-able on Rhyhorn back.

“Excuse me,” she said, walking up to the nearest one. “Would you mind taking us on to the Glittering Cave? Or is the rain too big of a hassle?”

“Us?” he grunted.

“My team and me,” she clarified, pointing to the Pokeballs on her bag.

“Ah, a Trainer.” He stretched and shook himself as if waking up from a nap. She giggled and held up her hands to block the deluge of water being shed in her direction. “Don’t see too many of those, mostly the white coats. Sure, not a problem. We’re used to it.”

“Thank you,” she said, and eyed the saddle. She’d never ridden anything like this before, but the basics looked to be the same. Swinging up on to his back, she saw that there were hand holds up there instead of a singular horn or smooth front bump, so she’d have something to hang on to.

“If we run into anything wild, chase it off, yeah?” he said as he started on the path, the stones in his way having nothing to offer resistance to his weight.

She swallowed around a lump in her throat. “Yeah, okay,” she agreed quietly.

He grunted, and with a lunge, destroyed a boulder that had fallen in his way. She grimaced and held on to the straps tighter as his whole body shook in the process. This was going to be a lot of work, even if she wasn’t the one doing the walking.

The Rhyhorn wasn’t wrong about wild Pokemon. He stirred up a Sandile, making her cringe but Kakashi almost did all the fighting for her. The Frogadier actually hopped up to ride behind her as they rode when they stirred up another. With the third, she decided Fate was telling her something. With a sigh, she told Kakashi to hold up before he knocked the little brown lizard out. She’d stocked up on Great Balls, a stronger variant of a Pokeball, at the Center. It didn’t stand a chance. But rather than deal with it, she immediately sent the Sandile back to the computer. It could wait until she went back.

There was, of all things, a Pokemon Ranger waiting at the entrance to the cave. She quickly took charge of the Rhyhorn, offering him some food and shelter from the rain, and even offered to give some quick healing to Evangeline’s team before going into the cave. After what had just happened to Cho, she readily agreed.

The caves were dark, but dry. Evangeline took off her jacket, draping it over her bag so it could dry some while she walked. A dig in her bag produced her big flashlight, letting her watch the ground beneath her feet as well as above her so nothing would risk injury. She was expecting something like the roosting cave connection further north, but at least here towards the front, the caves were tight and twisting, with several dead ends.

And several wild Pokemon. Including a yellow and black Pokemon that curiously had two mouths–one on the normal face, a second disguised as a sort of ponytail. It was adorable, but fierce. She caught it with much more confidence than the Sandile. Her Pokedex identified it readily enough. “Mawile, the Deceiver Pokemon. Mawile’s huge jaws are actually steel horns that have been transformed. Its docile-looking face serves to lull its foe into letting down its guard. It can chew through iron beams.”

Shaking her head, Evangeline found herself actually excited to meet the new Pokemon addition to her team. The first Steel Type, and another Fairy to boot.

The narrow paths finally gave way to a much larger chamber. Looking around, she figured it had to be an abandoned mine of sort. That, or the fossil business required a lot more digging than she thought, and rather than dig directly into the mountain for it, they’d chose to expand on paths once they started hitting fossils. She wasn’t sure which was the truth.

She was distracted from further thought by seeing someone else among the reddish dirt and rock of the mountain side. Dressed in an orange suit with similarly dyed hair, he looked completely out of place. Especially with those orange sunglasses over his eyes! It was too dark for those, wasn’t it?

“What’s this?” he asked, walking towards her. “Well, well. What do we have here? A nosy little Trainer has come poking around.”

“Nosy?” she muttered, baffled. She hadn’t done anything!

He snorted and set his hand on his hip. “Listen up! We’re the fashionable team whose very name makes people tremble in fear: Team Flare!”

“Sounds like a Team Rocket spin-off,” she countered, taking a step back to brace herself.

“Ha! Those old has-beens? They overshot themselves.” He waved his free hand dismissively. “Who needs to rule the world? Team Flare’s goal is to make it so we’re the only ones who are happy! We don’t care one bit what happens to other Trainers or Pokemon.”

“That’s awful,” she told him, eyes narrowing. If anything, that made them worse than Team Rocket in her opinion.

“What do you know?” he dismissed her. “Get out of here, kid. Don’t you know not to play with fire?”

For her, there was no choice. “No, I’m afraid not,” Evangeline said, releasing her first Pokemon–Haruka the Budew.

He scoffed at her. “Getting my fancy suit dirty isn’t the stylish way to do things, but if you insist… I’ll obliterate you. Get her, Houndour!” he released his own Pokemon, a black and grey dog Pokemon that’s Fire typing was obvious.

The fight was quick and dirty. Evangeline traded Haruka out for Kakashi, at least to defeat the Houndour, but let him back out when it was defeated and replaced with a Zubat.

“What’s this?” the grunt said in protest, stepping backwards rapidly after his defeat. “You’re a pretty tough Pokemon Trainer, for a kid. But watch yourself! I’m not the only member of Team Flare around here!” He took off with a run down the nearest mine shaft.

Shaking her head, Evangeline frowned and looked to where the tracks led, trying to listen and see if she heard anything.

The only sound was her own Budew, asking quietly, “Evangeline? What are you going to do now?”

She took a deep breath. “I think we’re going to have to clear those Team Flare jerks out of this dig site, before they cause any real trouble.”

“As long as I don’t have to go up against another Fire Type,” he muttered, hopping up to be in her Trainer’s arms.

Evangeline carefully stroked the petals on top of Haruka’s head. “I’ll be more careful,” she promised. “Now come on, let’s see how bad it is…”


NaNo 17, Day 25: A Trainer’s First Mistake

Morning dawned too early for Shauna, who hid under her covers when Evangeline checked in on her. Sharing her pain, but unable to linger like this between gyms this long, Evangeline gathered up her team and left Camphrier Town. Without the Snorlax blocking the way, she was able to cross the river where it looped around from where the rest of Route 7 followed it.

Flower fields proved to be just as treacherous as tall grass. Evangeline was thrilled to turn up the same type of Pokemon that Dexio had mentioned: Flabébé. This one had a blue flower as its companion of choice, though while wading her way out of the fields, Evangeline ran into others on orange or yellow blossoms. She sent it to the computer box until she reached a new Center to meet it better, determined not to back track to Camphrier Town again.

She didn’t make it too far past the bridge before she heard familiar arguing behind her. Rolling her eyes in affection, Evangeline turned and waited for the duo to catch up with her.

Due to sheer height, Tierno noticed her first. “Oh, hey Ladybird!” he greeted with a wave. It made Trevor’s head jerk up from where he was resolutely watching his Pokedex, and give her a shy wave in greeting.

“Hey yourself,” she said with a smile. “What are you two doing out this way?”

With a jerk of his thumb, Tierno indicated to his smaller buddy. “Trevs said he wanted to check out the Pokemon Daycare.”

“Oh, is that around here?” she said, tilting her head and pulling out her map. Yes, it appeared so. Evangeline hadn’t had a chance to ever visit one of the ones in either of her home areas, but she knew about them.

“Yeah. Hey, come with us!” he invited. “You might like it.”

She looked at her Holo Caster and confirmed that she had the time. “Okay,” she agreed, and let herself be led to the Daycare. It was a quaint little cottage, with several pens full of Pokemon. The couple running it were kind, and Evangeline was quick to coo over the baby Pokemon who had just hatched from eggs, while other eggs were in incubators, waiting to be given to the Trainers they belonged to. She decided not to leave any of her team with them, but Tierno had a couple that he wanted to see if an egg came out. She could see his point, since some moves could be inherited, and might help him with his dance goal.

“Have you ever heard of Pokemon Coordinators?” Evangeline asked Tierno as they walked down the road. “I think you might enjoy it…”

He shook his head, looking baffled.

“It’s mostly a big deal in Hoenn and Sinnoh,” she admitted. “When I was deciding where to have my journey, I ran across it. They are called Coordinators. Maybe you should look into it, since I think your dance would be appreciated.” She grinned at him, hoping this gave him some encouragement. “You could even be the one who helps it catch on here in Kalos.”

“That… sounds like a cool idea,” he agreed, looking down at his feet. “I’ll have to think about it.”

She nodded and patted him on the shoulder. “You’ll have to do a lot more research, I just glanced through it,” she said apologetically.

He nodded, and seemed to be thinking about it. Evangeline let silence fall for a moment, content to let him have a moment. Trevor demanded her attention first, wanting to compare Pokedex to see who had seen the most Pokemon so far. It was his form of a Poke battle, so she didn’t mind. Unfortunately, whether because of bad luck or whatever the case was, she just barely beat him out. He seemed to be briefly disappointed, but bounced back, determined to keep working at it.

Painters challenged the trio all the way down the route, pausing in their work of painting the glistening river long enough for a break. For many, it seemed to refresh their inspiration. Trevor pointed out the Battle Chateau, but none of them felt up for entering it yet. Evangeline made a note of it for later, when she would need to train up her team before facing the Elite Four. They reached the end of the route, at least as far as the river followed it. And waiting at the carved-stone steps leading up was a familiar head of blonde hair fighting its way free of a green cap. Xavier waved at them as they all caught up together.

“Hey, how about a double battle?” he suggested as they met, bouncing on his toes.

“Bored with the painters?” Evangline figured out, making him grin at her sheepishly, like it wasn’t too big of a deal. She rolled her eyes and waved her hand, taking a step closer to Tierno. She thought they would be a good team against Trevor and Xavier.

“Okay, let’s battle! Tierno and Trevor, you’ll battle against Evangeline and me,” Xavier said with authority.

“Wait, what?” Evangeline said in bafflement, even as the other two boys shrugged and moved to stand opposite the other two.

Xavier gave her an innocent look. “I thought these would be good teams since you and I are neighbors.”

She bit the inside of her lip rather than say what she wanted to, which was call him out on putting both Gym-oriented Trainers against two more unconventional ones. No wonder Xavier was so deluded about being the best. She sent out Cho again, and while Xavier struggled by using both his Fletchling and Gus, they still managed to defeat both Trevor and Tierno, who looked decidedly defeated.

Xavier crossed his arms behind his back at the conclusion. “Everyone sure has a different approach to being a Trainer,” he said with a grin.

Rolling her eyes, Evangeline patted both of the other boys on the shoulder. “That’s right, and you two have chosen a different path. Trevor, why don’t you ask Xavier to compare Pokedex? And Tierno, we can talk about Coordinators more while they do that.”

Both boys perked up at her suggestions, but Xavier suddenly took a turn for the nervous. “Well, that was fun, but I guess we should head to Ambrette Town,” he suggested, pointing over his shoulder. Unfortunately, both of the other boys chased after him and began rough housing.

Evangeline wasn’t having any part of that. Shaking her head, she walked the rest of the way to a cave system that went through a smaller slope of the mountains. There were some hikers inside interested in a battle, as well as another wild Pokemon–a Meditite that joined the others in the box for now.

Exiting out, Evangeline covered her eyes to help adjust to the change in lighting, relieved to be out of the dark. It hadn’t seemed that long, but it was enough to make her uneasy.

Of course, she hadn’t made it three steps before…

“Stop right there!” a familiar female voice called out of nowhere.

Evangeline about jumped out of her skin, at least until Sina and Dexio came around from behind rock formations. “Oh, it’s you two,” she said in relief, putting her hand over her chest where she swore her heart was trying to beat out.

Dexio laughed awkwardly. “We didn’t mean to surprise you,” he assured her. “How are you and Kakashi doing?”

“We’re doing great. He actually evolved while we were in Lumiose City,” she said with a grin. “As has Felix.”

“Ah, the Charmander you took from the professor?” he confirmed. “Or rather, Charmeleon now. That’s really impressive.”

“Speaking of the professor,” Sina butted in, “Haven’t you wondered how a single Pokedex could possibly cover a region as big as Kalos?”

Tilting her head, Evangeline finally shook her head no. Most areas had only the one Pokedex, but if Kalos was that big, was that not going to be the case here?

“Well, it can’t,” Dexio admitted. “That’s why we are here to power up your Pokedex.” He held out his hand, and Evangeline agreeably handed over the device. They showed her how to navigate the screens from both the Coastal and Central listings, so she could toggle as needed.

Sina bounced in place as they wrapped it up. “New encounters help people and Pokemon grow. We’ll be taking our leave. Bon voyage!” She dragged Dexio behind her through the cave system. If Evangeline were to guess, they hoped to ambush the rest of her friends.

Evangeline set off through the tall grass, still giggling as she pictured Trevor’s excitement to the expansion. It was the only explanation she had for the way a squid-type Pokemon managed to get the ambush on her. With a squeal, she ducked to avoid it, watching it with surprise. How was it able to float around like that out of water?

There wasn’t time to check the Pokedex either. Reflexively, Evangeline threw out Cho’s Pokeball. The butterfly almost seemed to dance with her opponent. Evangeline cheered her on, guiding her through moves.

She wasn’t expecting the devastating psychic attack.

Pink and violet wings crumbled to the ground.

“Cho!” Evangeline screamed, running to the Pokemon’s side. The enemy Pokemon hovered overhead, making the Trainer grit her teeth. She had to get Cho to a Center, fast! She summoned her back to her Pokeball, hoping the stasis would hold her stable until Nurse Joy could see her. To get the Pokemon to leave her alone, she threw the first thing she found in her bag. A Pokeball. Evangeline ignored when the captured Pokemon was scanned by her Pokedex, already scrambling into her skates so she could run as fast as she could to the next town. Surely Ambrette Town was closer than Camphrier!

She jumped over mud ponds, tall grass, and rock formations, going as fast as she could. Her thoughts were a constant cycle of worry and despair, praying Cho could hang on, just hang on. Other Trainers jumped out of her way rather than forcing a fight. Evangeline had just reached a long series of steps going down when she heard a shout behind her.

“Hey, neighbor!”

“Not now!” she shouted back, raising her voice for the first time ever. She almost tripped, trying to get down the stairs, but thank God, she was in town. There was the Pokemon Center!

She stumbled inside, and was comforted by the nurse running out from behind the counter. “Please, my Vivilion,” she gasped, holding out Cho’s Pokeball.

“You did the right thing,” Joy assured her. “This should have held her long enough for us to do something.” She then bustled back behind the doors, and an emergency sign flicked on overhead.

Evangeline half-collapsed onto the nearest bench, her bag slouching down as she held her hands in front of her mouth, almost chewing on her fingertips despite how dirty they were. There were a couple of flashes of light, and then she felt Kakashi’s slightly webbed hands wrap around her shoulders. Hiromi settled on her feet, purring in an attempt to offer comfort. Haruka hopped into her lap, squirming to get to where she was situated right. “Is Cho gonna be alright?” she asked quietly.

“The nurse is doing everything she can,” Kakashi said softly. “Evangeline got her here as fast as she could.”

“I should have used someone else, or run,” Evangeline said softly. “Not when I didn’t know anything about it.”

“Cho was always eager to show off,” Kakashi said, leaning harder against her. “Don’t judge yourself so harshly.”

Evangeline managed a slight nod, her eyes fixated on the door. Vaguely, she heard Xavier walk in, and felt Hiromi leave. The fire-cub was obviously keeping him at bay while the wait continued for what felt like hours.

The light went out. Nurse Joy stepped out, removing a surgical mask and gloves. And seeing Evangeline, could only manage a sympathetic smile and shake of her head.

She raised her hands to cover her eyes, bursting into tears. The Pokemon beside her joined her in grief as they mourned their friend.

Cho (Deceased)


NaNo 17, Day 20 & 21: SNORLAX!

(Technically, I wrote a fair chunk of this yesterday, but not much original stuff, and my head was hurting too badly for more than transcribing from the game.)

After Cassius left to go back to work, Evangeline gathered her team and went poking her nose around town. There wasn’t anything else particularly exciting, aside from the large castle on the north edge of town, Shabboneau Castle. Large and made of solid stone, it had a blue slate roof and even a draw bridge entrance, which shouldn’t have been as impressive as it was. According to signage, it was open for visitors too, which was nice. She wondered if this is what Professor Sycamore was talking about checking out…

Inside, though, was someone familiar. Shauna turned and waved her over with a beam. “Hi Evangeline!”

“An acquaintance of yours?” the man next to her asked dubiously, shaking his head as Evangeline approached. “Two visitors to Shabboneau Castle? I can’t remember the last time we’ve been so busy!”

“Hopefully we aren’t imposing,” Evangeline said softly with a polite bow of her head.

He shook his head. “Let’s see if I still remember the spiel… This castle, chateau if you will, was a manor house of a noble family. It may be a little run down, but that’s because there’s history to this place. During that history, the owners of this castle gave away a lot of their stuff to everyone, so that’s why it feels so empty. The end.”

“That’s it?” Shauna complained, tucking her arms behind her head in annoyance. “Don’t you have anything related to Mega Evolution?”

Seeming to think about it carefully, the gentleman nodded. “That’s it.” He frowned at them both in confusion. “What in the world is Mega Evolution?”

Before Shauna could stammer out an answer (and Evangeline shush her since she wasn’t one-hundred-percent certain the professor wanted them talking about it to everyone), one of the townsfolk came running in. “Sir!” he called out. “It’s back again!”

“Is is that time of year already?” The look of exhausted exasperation settled into well worn lines on this poor man’s face. “Well, there’s nothing I can do about that now…” He looked to her and Shauna apologetically. “I need to go to Route 7, but please take your time and have a look around.” With a nod of his head, he excused himself to follow the boy out the door.

“I wonder what that’s about,” Shauna said, tilting her head. She then turned to give Evangeline a grin. “Why don’t we go to Route 7 too?”

Shaking her head at her enthusiasm, Evangeline looked around the entrance foyer. Marble floors, blank stone walls… “Let’s browse around here first, in case there’s a clue he doesn’t know is a clue, but then I guess we might as well,” she compromised.

Together, they wandered the halls publicly available. The owner was right, the castle was very empty. If anything of use had ever been there, it was long gone. Evangeline couldn’t help but feel a little sad for him. She knew how expensive huge buildings like this could be to upkeep. She couldn’t imagine how worse it would be if they weren’t re-purposing the chateau as a gym or something similar.

In the end, Evangeline had no reason not to listen to Shauna. She let herself be dragged down Route 7, Riviere Walk, reluctantly. Really, was this any of their business? It had to be embarrassing…

A loud, rumbling sound echoed down the road.

Covering her ears, Shauna glared up ahead. “Evangeline! What is it?”

“I don’t believe it…” Evangeline said in disbelief, picking up her feet to confirm what she thought was happening.

Sure enough, a familiar sight greeted her. The owner and boy from town were gathered around the entrance to a wide walking-path bridge. Unfortunately, a huge amount of teal and cream Pokemon blocked the way, snoring loudly.

“A Snorlax?” she said in disbelief, alerting both men that she was there, but for the most part, they ignored her to talk to each other.

“Here we go again,” the owner said, pinching the bridge of his nose as if fighting off a headache. Considering how loud the Snorlax was, he might be. “It’s sleeping so soundly, the end of the world wouldn’t wake it.”

“Look! It’s practically a mountain, right? It’s blocking the road completely.” The boy shook his head, staring at the Pokemon that was almost hanging over the edges of the bridge. “Of all the places for it to take a nap.” Turning to the owner, he said with a sigh. “Come now, sir. Use the Poke Flute.” Except his eyes grew wide as he straightened up. “Oh wait… Do you even have it anymore?”

The owner snorted. “Nope, I handed it over.”

“Or you could say it was taken…” the boy said bitterly. “By the owner of the palace.”

Shauna caught up just in time to hear the end of the conversation. “What? Huh? What’s a Poke Flute?” she asked, breathless, as she tried to get caught up.

“Basically, the Poke Flute is what we need to wake up Snorlax.” The owner of the castle waved his hand. “But the Poke Flute is currently at Parfum Palace.”

“Oh, that’s it?” Shauna huffed and waved her hand as if to dismiss their worries. “All we need to do is to go get it then!”

“I don’t think it’s that simple,” Evangeline muttered, moving to where she could look at Snorlax. Maybe there was a way to get him moved without waking him…

Shauna didn’t give her a chance. Grabbing her by the wrist, the petite brunette dragged the violette behind her. “Come on, Evangeline, let’s go! The Parfum Palace is just past Route 6. And maybe at a place like that, we might learn something about Mega Evolution!”

“You hope!” Evangeline protested, getting her feet underneath her before Shauna was literally dragging her. Sure enough, there was a Y in the road back that they had passed, and Shauna let go as they started walking north.

Route 6, Palais Lane, was literally a path lined with trees and bushes…and Trainers stopping to see the sights. It kept both Evangeline and Shauna busy, since it wouldn’t do much good to point out to them that Route 7 was blocked. Most were tourists or backpackers, so she doubted it was going to inconvenience them by more than a day or two anyway. Annoying, but nothing to raise a fuss over.

The Parfum Palace itself walked the fine line between majestic…and gaudy trash. Evangeline bit the inside of her lip to keep from saying that though as she looked at elegant gardens and paths. Golden gates blocked the way inside, but even from here Evangeline could see that it was made of similar materials as Shabboneau Castle, only with the building laid out in a different shape with architectural features from a more recent point in history.

A man who wore a three piece suit like a uniform, tails and all, stood next to the gate. When Shauna and Evangeline approached, he cleared his throat and held out his hand, the image of a butler.  “The entrance fee will be 7.50* euro per person.”

Shauna sputtered indignantly. “You’ve got to be kidding! It costs money to go inside?”

The butler cleared his throat awkwardly. “You see, the owner of the palace follows the school of thought that you can never have too much money.”

Evangeline grimaced at the very idea.

“Yeesh! This is how the rich get richer!” Shaking her head in disgust, Shauna reached into her bag and counted out the appropriate coins. “Here’s your entrance fee.”

“The proceeds from the entrance fee help pay for repairing and restoring the palace…” he offered apologetically, and then cleared his throat awkwardly. “Probably…”

Shaking her head, Evangeline also pulled out her entrance fee to pay her way forward. He bowed over the received coins, and flipped the switches to open the gates. The front entry way had been entirely paved over in stone, making Evangeline tilt her head. She knew historically, there should be more gardens here. She wondered why he had paved the whole thing over…

Inside, she stumbled to a halt as she took in decor. Gaudy gold and red, with absolutely no taste level at all, that didn’t mesh with the palace at all. This was the guy who believed you could never have enough money? Ugh.

Speaking of… There was a slightly overweight man in clothes that, while possibly brand name, certainly hadn’t been tailored to him, pacing frantically across the front room. “Where is it?” he cried anxiously. “Where could it be?”

“Where is what?” Evangeline asked, stepping forward to see if what the problem was.

“My Furfrou!” he wailed, dramatic tears falling. Just so he could dig a silk handkerchief, of all things, out to dab at the corner of his eyes. “My beloved little Furfrou has disappeared!” He swept off into the main hallways, still crying piteously.

Shauna took a few steps after him, missing how Evangeline wrinkled a nose over his theatrics. “It disappeared? Hey, Evangeline, we should help look.” Turning around, she shrugged a little. “I mean, if my… If my Pokemon was missing, I’d be sick with worry!”

This was going to be like keeping a Meowth from getting distracted by shiny coins, wasn’t it? “Alright, let’s see if we can find it while we look around for info on the Poke Flute or Mega Evolution,” she suggested, seeing no reason not to double task.

They split up to go down separate hallways. Evangeline actually stumbled into the kitchen, where preparations were going on for a late dinner. The head chef in particular was violently chopping aromatics to put into a pot. “Just because the parents were great, it surely does not mean their children will also be great,” he growled. “In fact, the opposite is often true!”

“Awww, come on, don’t drag the boss’s parents into it,” one of the sous chefs teased as he checked something roasting in the ovens–it smelled like chicken.

For her part, Evangeline quickly ducked out, leaning against the door and slouching. No, great parents didn’t mean anything. All it did was give people ammunition to use against you. If you weren’t as strong or as clever as them, then you were a disappointment. If you were, well, what did anyone expect? She shook her head, refusing to linger on old hurts.

The rest of the palace, while still gaudy, didn’t turn up anything, aside from an impressive hall of mirrors that had a line of doors leading out to the balcony. She wondered how many people ran straight into them without realizing they were there. Going back downstairs, she met back up with Shauna at the back doors. A stone bridge gave a dramatic entrance to a series of hedge mazes, with statues of legendary or near legendary Pokemon and Pokeballs scattered through out them.

Shauna scanned the mazes, then turned back to Evangeline with a firm nod. “I’ll have a look in back!”

And avoid getting lost in the mazes. Evangeline nodded in agreement, trying not to show her amusement. It really was for the better. Looking for a missing Furfrou was hard enough without having to look for a lost Shauna too. She wondered the mazes on her own, finding items other people had dropped, but no Pokemon.

At least, until she got towards the northwest corner. A Furfrou, fur cut into a sun-hat type shape with sections dyed pale yellow, flew past her on speeding paws, yipping the whole way, “No, no, no!”

On it’s tail was an exhausted Shauna. “Please don’t run away!” she shouted, coming to a stop and resting her hands on her knees as she panted for breath. “Evangeline, give me a hand!”

“Sure thing,” she said, reaching for the Pokeball she wanted. “Antoine, come on out!”

Her own Furfrou came out with a shake of his fur. “What do you need?” he asked, crouching down as if to pounce.

“Help tracking down your fellow Furfrou,” she said. “It’s around here somewhere, and seems a bit distressed.”

“I’m afraid of asking…” he growled, but sniffed around, catching a scent and leading the way.

“Wow, good thinking! I didn’t know you had a Furfrou too,” Shauna said.

Evangeline shrugged. “I didn’t think bringing him out would help until we had the area narrowed down. The other one’s scent is probably all over the place, so he’d need a really fresh trail to track.”

Shauna nodded, putting her hands behind her head again. “You know, we should try and corner it, at least until we can talk it down.”

“That’s a good idea,” Evangeline agreed, glancing around. They were at a three way crossing. “Here, you stay here in case it doubles back, Antoine and I will try to get around it and push it into a corner.”

What followed was pure chaos. The Furfrou was fast, and wasn’t listening to anything anyone said. It took ages for Evangeline to find an appropriate dead end, and then to get Shauna and Antoine stationed to actually corner it into it.

It whined, lowering to lie its head on its paws. “I hate this cut, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.”

“Awww, it’s a pretty haircut, though,” Evangeline tried to coax it into feeling better.

“I look like a girl!” it…or rather, he…said, covering his eyes with his paws.

“The things humans do to us…” Antoine grumbled.

“Oh hush, you’ll have a say before I go clipping and dying your fur, and it makes you faster,” she reminded him, ruffling the thick bangs on his head.

“Phew, well done!” Shauna said as she approached. “We finally caught it! Evangeline, you’re amazing. We caught it because you understand how Pokemon feel.”

“And a whole lot of luck,” Evangeline muttered, but it turned into a yelp when she was shoved to the side by the middle-aged man.

“Oh! My dear Furfrou! My beloved FurFrou!” He ran over to the Pokemon, fussing over it as much as he could without getting in the dirt. At last, he focused on the two girls he had shoved into the hedges. “Could you be the two responsible for my wonderfou reunion with my dear Furfrou? How wonderfou indeed! It’s marvelous, simply marvelous! A situation like this demands fireworks!”

“Fireworks?” Evangeline repeated.

“We shall put on a show–boom, boom! My Pokemon and I are reunited, our bond has been proven.” He nodded as if it was a great trauma they had gone through rather than his Pokemon fleeing to the gardens over a bad hair cut. We’ll commemorate this joyous occasion with a tremendous fireworks display!” He paused and looked over the two girls. “And it will also serve as a reward for the tiny bit of trouble you went to.”

“Tiny bit!” Shauna repeated, indignant. “We chased him all over the gardens!”

The man ignored her. “Rendezvous at the balcony.” He looked at Evangeline, and leaned forward to speak in over-exaggerated syllables. “Do you understand? Ren-dez-vous.”

Her spine straightened, realizing what was happening. She didn’t have traditional Kalos features. Purple hair and teal eyes aside, her bone structure and height gave her away as being of Kanto and Johto descent. She narrowed her eyes at him, refusing to dignify his passive racism with any more of a response.

If he noticed he’d offended her, he blew right past it, literally, shooing his Furfrou ahead of him as he went to go back towards the house. “You can reach the balcony from the hall of mirrors on the second floor,” he called over his shoulder.

“Maybe Fufrou would have been better off if we hadn’t found him…” Shauna muttered, and Evangeline snorted in agreement. It seemed to encourage Shauna to rant. “If I were a Pokemon, I would hate to have a Trainer like that!” She sighed. “But I really like fireworks, so let’s make the best of it.”

“Sure,” Evangeline agreed reluctantly, leading the way back out of the maze. Unlike her, Shauna hadn’t gone up to the second floor, so she also had to lead the way up to the balcony he mentioned. Once there, the maze stretched out before them, a picture of perfection. Evangeline had to give his gardeners credit.

“Um…” Shauna interrupted the silence awkwardly. “You know… I really hope we get to be great friends, Evangeline… We haven’t even seen them yet, but I know I’ll never forget these fireworks! ‘Cause I watched them with you.”

“That’s really sweet, Shauna,” she said with a sigh, feeling a little lighter. While she may be new to this friendship thing, it was sweet of the other girl to try and take her mind off of what happened in the garden.

Any further conversation was cut off by the firework display. Gold, red, and blue, they lit up the sky like flowers of light that faded into starlight.

“Wow! That. Was. AMAZING!” Shauna said as they tapered off, bouncing in place. “I never ever want to forget this, so I’ll keep this memory in an album in my heart!”

“You’re a bit of a romantic, aren’t you?” Evangeline mused, but she cut herself off from saying anything else as the owner of the palace and his Furfrou joined them, the butler trailing along behind them.

“And that was my wonderfrou fireworks show for my Furfrou! I assume you’re satisfied with that,” he said with a dismissive way of his hand.

Shauna opened her mouth to agree, but Evangeline gave her a nudge with her elbow. “Ow!” she yelped. “What…? Oh! I almost forgot!”

“The Poke Flute!” Evangeline hissed back at her, just in case she got side-tracked again.

“That’s right, we need the flute to wake up Snorlax!” she told them earnestly.

The man sighed, rolling his eyes upward. “The Poke Flute, huh?” He snapped his fingers with command. “Go get it.” The butler bowed and took his leave with long strides. While he was away, the owner of the palace explained haughtily, “It was the Shabboneau Castle’s treasure, but I took it as payment for a loan. A rich guy like me and a common person like that just didn’t go together.” The butler returned promptly, and he gestured impatiently. “Well? Give it to them.”

The butler stepped forward and bowed a little as he held up a wooden case. “Here is the Poke Flute.” Bowing back, Evangeline took the case and tucked it away so it would be safe.

“Listen you two!” the palace owner barked, obviously not done yet. “Always return what you borrow. That’s very important.” Nodding firmly, he took his exit with a flick of his wrist to dismiss them. Sighing, the Furfrou sat at the feet of the butler rather than following.

Shauna muttered to his retreating back, “I want to make lots of memories on my journey. But I think I’ll try and forget about him…”

Clearing his throat, the butler said, “You can’t imagine how stressful running this place is for him.”

Evangeline snorted, still stinging from his treatment in the garden. Nodding to show she agreed with the contempt her friend showed, Shauna said, “That may be so, but… Oh that’s right!” Snapping her fingers, she leaned forward to whisper conspiratorially, “Mr. Butler, do you know anything about Mega Evolution?”

Rubbing his chin, the butler thought for a second and then began to slowly speak, as if drawing the specifics from a mental catalog, “I remember reading a book on that subject in the palace library. It had something to do with what you’d now call a Trainer holding a mysterious stone high and making Pokemon evolve even further.”

“Well, that’s more than what we had,” Evangeline said. “Thank you.”

He nodded to them both. “If you shall excuse me, I will take my leave.” With a brief bow, he took his exit.

Shauna shook her head in wonder. “The owner of Shabboneau Castle used to be friends with that guy who took his family’s flute! Can you believe it? Isn’t that crazy?”

“I think that man would take his grandmother’s fillings if it got him a little more gold,” Evangeline said dryly.

Giggling, Shauna skipped her way to the doors.”We have to be sure to give that flute back after we wake up Snorlax,” she said with authority.

“Why do you think I took it?” Evangeline teased, only to squeal and take off at a run as Shauna chased after her in mock-anger.

Both girls stuck together as they traversed back to Route 6 in the dark, using flashlights to lead the way. That didn’t stop them from stirring up wild Pokemon, in Evangeline’s case a sword-like Pokemon called a Honedge that she dubbed Kagura.

Kagura (Honedge)

 

At last, they returned to the bridge, where both the owner of Shabboneau Castle and the townsman were waiting still by the snoring Snorlax. “Oh, it’s you two,” the castle keeper said. “Did you actually manage to borrow the Poke Flute?”

“Right here,” Evangeline said, pulling the case out of her bag.

“Thanks!” he said, sounding like he was truly grateful

Shauna grinned at him. “Well, you’re the only one who can play it, right?”

He smiled back at her and nodded, then looked to Evangeline since she was closer to the bridge. “Snorlax can be grumpy when it wakes up–it might attack! I’ll play the flute right now, but are you ready to stop it?”

“As ready as I can be,” Evangeline agreed, reaching for a Pokeball.

Nodding at her, he sighed as he opened the case, pulling out the relic. “Feels nice to have this flute in my hands again,” he mused under his breath. “Okay, I guess I’ll start playing.”

The melody was almost too soothing to wake someone up, especially since the Snorlax had been snoozing through all their conversations. But it appeared to be enough. The giant Pokemon stirred with an irritable yawn, and scowled at the gathering of humans. Evangeline quickly stepped forward so it would focus on her, letting out Henri. The bird was too fast for the slow but powerful Pokemon, and burned Snorlax on contact.

It got to a point when the Snorlax was close to being defeated, and Evangeline made a snap decision. If this was a yearly problem, the best way to stop it would be to remove Snorlax from the equation. She had one Ultra Ball on her, which should be enough for the Pokemon’s immense size and strength.

It was enough. She breathed a sigh of relief and recalled Henri before transferring the ball to her computer until later.

“Awesome!” Shauna cheered with a cheerleader-like wave. “You caught Snorlax! That’ll keep you from having trouble again!”

Before anyone else could comment, a Furfrou barked, running down the road. “Oh…” Shauna breathed, dismayed.

Sure enough, the palace owner was on his Pokemon’s heels. Perhaps sensing the unease there, Shabboneau Castle’s owner also stepped forward to meet his contemporary.

Crossing his arms behind his back, the Fufrou obssessed man said, “The only thing I can do with that Poke Flute is put it on display. But you’ve been playing since you were little, and the tone is lovely. It seems like my Furfrou likes the sound of that flute. Not as much as it likes my beautiful, wonderfrou fireworks, of course.”

If his experience gave the player a clue, it didn’t show on his baffled expression. “Uh… Yeah… I guess so…”

“Still, you’re playing sounded better back in the day.” The palace man waved a hand dismissively, but there was a faint smile on his face. “I’ll let you take care of that flute, so be sure to practice more.”

He left just as dramatically as he always did, Pokemon and butler trailing behind him.

“Well what do you know…” the two from Camphrier Town said at the same time, then exchanged looks and laughter. They walked off in the direction of town, clapping each other on the back.

Shauna stared after them. “Was THAT supposed to be an attempt to patch things up? Well, whatever!” Crossing her arms, she winked at Evangeline to cover up her confusion over the end result. “All’s well that ends well. I wonder what lies past where Snorlax was sleeping…”

“We’ll have to find out tomorrow,” Evangeline said with a frown. “It’s late, and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather back track to town and sleep at the Center than camp out here, since it’s so close.”

“Good idea,” Shauna agreed, and together they walked back towards town to continue their adventure in the morning.

Theo


NaNo 17, Day 18: Exploring Lumiose and Beyond!

At the Pokemon Center, everyone was very quick to make friends with Felix. Henri fooled around, making jokes and being silly, enough to even get the quiet Charmander to give a little, breathy giggle. The Nurse Joy was very apologetic though when she explained that while they had Pokemon food on hand, most visiting locals preferred to visit local restaurants for their own meals. Evangeline wasn’t the least bit upset, and after the team was finished eating, bundled them all up in their Pokeballs so she could try one out.

Restaurant Le Nah was the only one currently open in the south district. Quickly, Evangeline figured out that the fashion in Lumiose was for there to be double battles before each course. Since it couldn’t hurt, and might even pay back the money she spent on the meal, she agreed. A few of the other diners watched the matches in curiosity, but most were too busy with their own. The food was decent, so she decided it wasn’t too big of a hassle.

What was really surprising was the conclusion of the battle before her entree. Kakashi and Felix had been handling things handily, but as the battle concluded, a familiar white light flowed over her Froakie. Startled, she left her food to grow cold and watched with wide eyes as he grew under the light, changing from being the size of a teddy bear to being the size of a medium-sized dog.

The light shattered into dust, revealing a dark blue, aqua, and white Pokemon that her Pokedex quickly identified as Frogadier. Kakashi twisted his head to look himself over. “Wow, didn’t see that coming,” he admitted, looking up at Evangeline. “Is this…okay?”

She smiled and reached down to hug him. “Of course it’s okay! You grew up a little, Kakashi, but you are still my friend, and my primary Pokemon.” Pulling back, she flicked his nose. “I may not be able to carry you around anymore, that’s all.”

Kakashi (Frogadier)

Rubbing his nose, he grinned and let Felix sniff him over while she finally dug into her food before dessert arrived. The rest of the evening was more uneventful, aside from Kakshi discovering there wasn’t room for him on the bed. He calmly gave his spot up to Felix, who obviously needed the physical reassurance, and settled down on a big pillow on the floor.

The next morning, they poked around in a few of the stores and boutiques, all of them awed by the selection. She even had a chance to get her hair a brief trim, though she’d had to say multiple times that yes, the purple was natural, and no, she wasn’t interested in dying it either. They ran into Shauna at a place called the PR studio, and Evangeline found herself bullied into making one once she was recognized thanks to Viola’s pictures (she knew she was going to regret those). One of her Pokemon was expected to appear in the video with her, and she quickly picked Kakashi as extra reassurance that she didn’t care about his evolution.

The make-up was bad enough, but then she found them styling her hair, pulling the heavy strands up so it curled around her shoulders and back rather than all the way down to her knees. Much like Viola, though, they found the bangs too stubborn to get out of her face. Shauna picked out a costume, though Evangeline quickly vetoed some options and insisted on others… Yeah, this was a mistake.

Screenshot 2017-11-18 18.47.55

Via Pokemon Trainer Creator vs 2 by  Hapuriainen

With all her heart, she hoped the end results wouldn’t be played on the huge screen featured in the square.

By the time it was all over, she was ready to grab breakfast at a cafe and leave before she had to see the end results of the studio. To her surprise, she saw Xavier lingering outside of one called Cafe Soleil. “Hey,” he greeted her, and then jerked his head in the direction of the cafe’s door. “Could you come here for a second? I’d like to talk.”

Blinking, she nodded her head and followed him inside. Like the name suggested, the cafe had a warm and cozy atmosphere, while still retaining the posh elegance that Evangeline was coming to accept as part of the Kalos region. But both stumbled to a stop at who they saw in the back of the cafe. “Oh, it’s Lysandre and.. is that Diantha?” Xavier mumbled, seemingly recognizing them both on sight. He glanced down at her, noticing the expression on her face. “Just so you know, Ladybird, Lysandre is the head of Lysandre Labs, which created the Holo Caster.”

Ah, not someone she wanted to be rude to. Great, and here she was hoping to avoid him if at all possible. She sighed and forced her face to relax into a more congenial expression.

Xavier nodded in approval, and added, “You already know who Diantha is too, right? She is one of the most famous movie stars in the world after all. I wonder what the two of them are doing here together.”

Evangeline bit the inside of her cheek so she didn’t reveal that no, she didn’t know who Diantha was. Her parents both were raised in staunchly traditional families, with heavy traditions attached to them. While her mother might have been more relaxed about it, Evangeline spent most of her time in Violet City outside of early childhood, and her father was, to quote Aunt Aya, a fuddy duddy stick in the mud about fun.

Any further conversation they could have had was cut off as the adults got louder. Lysandre tried to flatter the woman whose dark hair was close to being purple like Evangeline’s, “You played a young girl so wonderfully in your debut on the silver screen. Wouldn’t you rather remain young and beautiful forever and always play such roles?”

Diantha crossed her arms and shook her head, and even that seemed to be elegant, dressed all in white like she was. “What a strange question… Why would I want to play the same old roles forever?” she asked, freeing one hand to wave it while the other held on to her purse. “Youth may be beautiful, but it’s not all there is to life. Everything changes. I want to live and change like that, too. So I look forward to playing different roles as I get older.”

That wasn’t what Lysandre wanted to here. “You were chosen to be a movie star, correct? Isn’t it your duty to be ever beautiful? Everything beautiful should stay that way forever. I would make this world unchanging and eternal so all beauty will last forever.” The faked pleasant smile on his face faded to a hard look at the woman. “I can’t stand the thought of the world becoming uglier.” With a pivot of his heel, he turned to exit in a similar dramatic action as he had the lab lobby yesterday.

Only this time, Evangeline and Xavier were in the way. He paused, and put his charming-smile back on. “Oh, hello Evangeline,” he said, completely ignoring the teenage boy. It made Xavier bristle at the dismissal. To keep the peace, Evangeline managed to softly murmur a greeting back.

If he was put off by her shyness, Lysandre didn’t make comment. The ginger-haired man gestured behind him to where his prior conversation partner was still standing. “This is Diantha, one of the most accomplished movie stars in Kalos. She moves the multitudes with her excellent acting… Which is to say, she dedicates her life to making other people happy.”

He dropped his hand, but Evangeline didn’t miss how it almost clenched into a fist before he could stop it. Without thinking, she took a step to the side and behind a little, partially hiding behind Xavier. He quirked a brow at her, but didn’t call her on it.

“Oh! If only everyone were like her–what a beautiful world this would be!” Shaking his head, Lysandre gave them a nod of his head, folding his arm across his waist in a mockery of a bow. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be going.” He stepped around the two teenagers, and exited the cafe.

Sighing relief, Evangeline stepped from around Xavier. “Sorry, he just…” She shrugged, not able to explain it.

Xavier snorted. “At least he knows you exist though.”

She wasn’t sure that was much of an honor.

Apparently the movie star was done lingering in the back of the cafe, as she approached the two teenagers. She had plenty of height, her eyes a bright aqua blue. Her outfit was a little avant garde, but Evangeline thought the almost wing-like design suited her. “And who are you two?” she asked, sounding far more polite than she had with Lysandre.

It made Xavier brighten up considerably, to be asked by someone he obviously considered important. “My name is Xavier, and this is…”

“Evangeline, right?” Diantha cut him off with a curious expression on her face. “I heard Lysandre call you that. You seem to have caught his interest.”

“Now if only I knew how to lose it,” Evangeline grumbled.

They both were startled when Diantha gave a twittering laugh, but it helped relax them both a bit. “You both have lovely names,” the movie star said, working to keep Xavier included int he conversation. “Oh, and you’re both Trainers! How are things going with your Pokemon? Are they happy?”

“Yeah, mine are a cheerful lot, always eager for the next adventure,” Xavier said with confidence.

Evangeline shrugged when they both looked to her. “We’re a more subdued party, but I think we’re all getting along alright,” she said.

“Well, everyone’s Pokemon are different, so just by doing your best, you’re succeeding,” Diantha said firmly. “I’m a Trainer myself, in my off time. I look forward to us battling someday!” She leaned over and kissed them both on the cheek before waving good-bye.

Xavier held his cheek dreamily for a moment, making Evangeline giggle. That seemed to snap him out of his fog. “Hmm… I guess if you’re a Pokemon Trainer, you battle everyone, no matter who they are,” he said with a confident smile. “Someday, right?”

She gave him a droll look for dismissing Diantha like that. Just because she was a movie star instead of a Gym Leader or one of the Elite Four didn’t mean Diantha would be a push over. “Someday,” she agreed, “For now, lunch.”

“Huh? Oh, that’s right!” he hurried to keep up with her as she hopped in the line. Both of them ordered, and they took a seat at one of the little tables. He tugged at his blondish curls, obviously in deep thought. It was quiet while they ate, but just as Evangeline was about to bring it up, he said, “I have something to ask you, Ladybird.”

The violet-tressed girl paused in mid-sip of her coffee, setting it down slowly. “Well, that sounds ominous,” she pointed out. “You aren’t going to ask for my first born child or anything, are you?”

“What, no! Do they actually do that where you’re from?” he asked in disbelief.

Evangeline kicked his cafe lightly with the toe of her boot. “It was a joke,” she told him flatly. “Now come on, out with it.”

He nodded, rubbing the back of his neck. “Right. Well, would you be willing to compete with me to see which of us will become stronger?” She gave him a look, and he held up his hands to ward her off…even as he completely misinterpreted it. “I know we set off on our journey just after you arrived in Vaniville… But we were neighbors, and I think it would be fun to be in competition with you.”

She sighed. Why was everything a competition with him? One he thought he was owed, just like he thought was owed victory. Taking a sip of her coffee, she considered it. “Why me? You grew up with three other people who you could be competitive with. And Shauna is just as interested in Mega Evolution as we are.”

He gave her a look. “Shauna had a type advantage and still lost in battle with me. They always have. But you seem to be doing pretty well, getting plenty of attention from professors and Gym Leaders.” There was just a faint bit of bitterness to his tone.

Biting the inside of her lip, she decided it wasn’t worth pointing out that Professor Sycamore was interested in her because of who her parents were and how she was flaunting both of them, and Viola had just thought she was pretty. It wouldn’t do any good. Lysandre’s snub and the professor’s seemingly preferential treatment were getting to Xavier, who was used to being the natural choice. Now that he had competition, he wanted to make it official for whatever reason.

“Fine,” she agreed with a sigh. “As long as it doesn’t go too far, I don’t see why we can’t be rivals or whatever it is you are wanting. But only as long as it stays friendly.” She glowered at him over her coffee mug. “If it gets personal, I’m done with it.”

He smiled, obviously relieved at her agreement. “Great. I’d better get started then.” He picked up his trash to leave, and added over his shoulder, “Just so you know, I won’t lose.”

Rolling her eyes, she leaned back in her chair and waved good-bye to him. She didn’t care who won or who lost. That wasn’t the point of her little journey. But if it gave him a goal to work towards, fine. She wasn’t going to let it ruin a good cup of coffee.

She eventually had to leave rather than risk spending another day there. The sign for Route 5 was over the tunnel, thankfully not in any of the other districts. Per her map, it was the fastest way to Camphier Town.

A chime came from her wrist just as she finished strapping on her roller skates. A holo clip? She flipped open the screen and hit a few buttons to navigate towards the new message. Thankfully, the frequency was one that was in her contact list. Now that she knew Lysandre owned the labs that created the Halo Caster, she worried that he had a master list to dig for her info.

Tierno’s face and torso popped up as a holo in front of her own face, scanned from when he took the message. “Hey, Ladybird!” he greeted, waving his hand. She giggled, and refrained from waving back. A holo clip was like a text message, so he wouldn’t be able to see her. “So, check this out!” he said in excitement. “I’m out on Route 5 right now, and it’s just hopping with wild Pokemon! Hurry and come check it out. Trevor and I will wait for you.”

Huh, they must have left earlier than she had. With a grin, she closed the message and finished slipping on her skates over her boots. Route 5, here she came!


NaNo 17, Day 16: Mega Evolution Begins, and Lysandre’s Desire?

“I promise, I’m not too tough,” he assured her as they threw out their first Pokemon. She bit her lip, feeling a little hopeful.

The battle with the professor didn’t quite go the way that Evangeline was expected. For one, he used Pokemon native to Kanto, almost making her fumble. His first pick, a green dinosaur-and-plant fusion called a Bulbasaur, was quickly put down by Hiromi. Ella struggled a bit more against the turtle-like Squirtle, but Evangeline just didn’t have a Pokemon strong against Water Types that she felt could handle a fight. Haruka was still in training, she just wasn’t comfortable throwing him into the fray yet. Kakashi pulled it all to a close by easily defeating the fire lizard, Charmander.

Sycamore, thankfully, laughed as the battle wrapped up. “You’re too much for me,” he admitted with an over-exaggerated slump. You’re really something, aren’t you?”

She flushed, bending down to pick up Kakashi. The frog Pokemon seemed to realize she needed a cuddle.

The professor nodded, seeing perhaps something she didn’t at the action, and snapped his fingers. “I think I’ve about figured it out!”

That caught the attention of the other two as they wrapped up their own battle. “Figured what out?” Shauna asked, both her and Xavier poking their heads back into the room.

If he heard, Sycamore didn’t bother explaining. “Evangeline, you are an interesting Pokemon trainer indeed. It’d be wonderful if you took another Pokemon with you.” All three teenagers gasped, and Evangeline felt her ears grow warm in embarrassment. “Here, pick one,” he said, gesturing to the three balls on the table.

“Um, my team is full,” she admitted sheepishly. There were rules about how many Pokemon a trainer could have with them at any one time, and she was at that limit–six.

He laughed. “There’s a computer on the coffee table in the other room. Feel free to rearrange your team first.”

Startled, she shared wide-eyed looks with the other two Trainers as she hurried past them towards the table he was talking about. Sure enough, there was a computer that allowed her to transfer Pokemon. She sent Hiromi to a storage box, where caretakers would make sure she was in good health and happy while she wasn’t with Evangeline.

Back in the professor’s office, she saw he’d let all three Pokemon out, only unlike the incident in Aquacorde, all three sat around his feet patiently waiting. She hesitantly knelt down to look them over, pondering over what to pick. She didn’t see a need for a Squirtle, not with Kakashi as her primary Pokemon. So that left the Bulbasaur and the Charmander. The Grass-Type waved vines from the bulb on its back at her in greeting, making her smile, while the Charmander…

She felt a little sad, seeing how he pressed against the professor’s side. “Hey there,” she said softly. “Are you mad at me and Kakashi for earlier?”

He shook his head, but still didn’t so much as squeak, to Evangeline’s concern. She looked up at Sycamore, who gave her a sad smile. “I’m afraid this little one doesn’t talk, even to those who can understand him,” he admitted, resting one of his hands on the Charmander’s head.

The Fire-type pressed his head against the professor’s knee, clutching at his pants with tender claws. She didn’t see shyness in that look, though. She saw the expectation of rejection, making her furious at whoever had turned this Pokemon away for being quiet and shy. It was a trait of a lot of Charmanders, who didn’t really gain confidence unless built up by trainers or they evolved! Resolved, she set Kakashi down to stand beside her and held out her hands. “Well, would you like to join the team?” she asked.

Startled, he looked at her with his dark blue eyes wide. It felt like forever that she was on her knees, holding her breath. But it shattered as he ran over to her, tucking his head under his chin and wrapping his little arm around her as best he could, flame-tipped tail curling around her knees. Blinking so she wouldn’t sniffle, she rubbed his back. “Glad to have you,” she whispered, pulling back to meet his eyes. “How about Felix, for your nickname?”

He nodded rapidly, then hid his face in her chest. She rearranged him a little so he could continue to snuggle but she could stand up. Kakashi sat at her feet, puffing his chest out like a proud papa.

Felix (Charmander)

For his part, Sycamore looked a little too bright eyed himself, but he cleared his throat and spoke evenly. “I see, you’re picking Charmander. I think that is a smart choice.” She heard something else in his tone that gave her the impression he thought more of it than that, but it was the most diplomatic answer he could come up with. “Since you chose Felix, I’ll give you this Mega Stone, called Charizardite X.” She accepted the stone, curious about the blue and black swirls to it. For his part, Felix pulled back enough to tap at it curiously with his claws.

The professor finally acknowledged the other two trainers. “Come on now, you two. Pick your new Pokemon,” he said, gesturing to the remaining two.

Shauna squealed and ran over, Xavier at her heels at a more sedate pace. She looked between the two Pokemon rapidly. “I don’t know which one to pick! It’s so difficult!” she protested with a whine, hopping from one foot to the other.

“You’ll be together for a long time, so just take your time,” Xavier said with a patient roll of his eyes. Eventually, they both picked their second Pokemon from the professor, and both seemed content with their picks.

“Well, I’ve got a feeling that everyone else will be showing up soon,” the professor said, leaning against the desk again once Pokeballs were sorted.

“Hi, Professor Sycamore,” Tierno called out as he entered the room, almost on cue.

Behind him was little Trevor, who looked around in bafflement before joining Tierno on the opposite side of Evangeline from Shauna and Xavier. “What’s this? Everyone is already here,” he muttered in confusion.

“See?” the professor said to Evangeline, and she ducked her head to hide under her hat. He clapped his hands to break the moment and address the room at large. “So now that we’re all here, I’d like to say a few words.”

“Isn’t this supposed to be at weddings?” Shauna murmured, making Xavier snort, and Evangeline bite her lower lip so she wouldn’t do the same, her shoulders shaking in suppressed laughter.

Professor Sycamore gave them a dirty look, and stood up, pointing off in to the horizon. “Be the best Trainer you can be!” he lowered his hand, as if instructing a class “At the same time, remember to have fun traveling with your Pokemon. Also, I want to ask for your help in solving the Kalos region’s biggest Pokemon mystery: the secret and potential of Mega Evolution, a new kind of evolution that occurs in battle!”

All five teenagers exchanged shocked looks and murmurs. A new form of evolution?

“That’s why I gave you the Mega Stone just now,” he said. “It’s an important clue.”

“Mega Evolution? What should we do about the Pokedex?” Trevor said, stuck on what he obviously felt was a double-cross of what he felt his purpose was.

“Trevor, my lad, if that’s what ‘best Trainer’ means to you, then I want you to go out there and complete that Pokedex,” Sycamore said, assuring them all that he wasn’t about to push them on a journey they didn’t want, just asking for help.

“Mega Evolution sounds really interesting!” Shauna said, enthusiastic even in her tentativeness. Evangeline nodded in agreement, looking towards the professor again.

“If you’re investigating Mega Evolution, why don’t you check out Camphrier Town?” he suggested. “That town has a lot of history–you might find a hint there!”

She raised a brow at him. History like her home towns, or history that was actually publicly available? He winked at her, and she relaxed a little. Something actually able to find, then.

“Now listen,” he said, speaking seriously to all five of them. “If you visit many different places to complete the Pokedex, you will probably see Pokemon with many ways of living and meet people with many ways of thinking. First, accept the ways of living and thinking that sometimes conflict with your own.” He looked at Evangeline more pointedly. “And think about what’s really important–this will truly broaden your horizons.”

She nodded in understanding, recognizing what he was trying to tell not only all of them, but also her specifically.

“I feel that being different from others makes me special,” Xavier mused. “Mastering Mega Evolution will definitely set me apart from other Trainers!” He nodded, committed as much as Shauna and Evangeline. Both girls shared looks, and in Evangeline’s case, an eye roll. Yes, by setting out on the same path as multiple other people at the same time, he was going to differentiate himself. But neither said anything, in Evangeline’s case because she thought it better he figure it out for himself.

The other four gathered to chat, but Evangeline didn’t know enough about what they were discussing to feel included. Plus, she’d rather introduce Felix to the entirety of the team in the safety of the nearest Center and let the professor get back to work. With a polite bow good-bye, she took her leave.

But there was a disturbance happening in the main lobby. The doors had barely opened, and Evangeline could already hear the conversation taking place between Sina and someone else.

“So I will be able to meet them soon, then,” the stranger said.

“Yes,” Sina agreed, sounding pushed to the end of her patience.

“The children chosen by the professor… I wonder what potential they have,” the stranger mused as Evangeline cautiously walked around the front desk. Maybe she could sneak past him?

Nope. Sina spotted her, and gave a relieved smile. “And here’s one of them now… That’s Evangeline.” She waved her hand pointedly, the look on her face clear. There was no escape. “Evangeline, come here a sec!”

She walked over, her shoulders raising up towards her ears as she balanced Felix in her arms, Kakashi at her feet still. The stranger was a man with almost violently orange hair, spiked upwards away from his head, with a matching beard. His black and orange suit included a grey fur ruff along the neck, adding an intimidation factor to his appearance, though he tried to smile it away. Except his smile was too sharp, and the grey-blue of his eyes too cold.

“Oh! You received a Pokedex from the professor then… How wonderful!” He took her in, much like the professor had upon meeting her. Though rather than feeling warm but embarrassed by the attention, he just made her feel uneasy, like she should be looking for an exit. “That is a wonderful thing indeed,” he murmured, and then collected himself. “You are one of the chosen ones.” He held out his hand towards her.

She took his hand, and squirmed when he flipped her hand from a shake to where he was holding it like she was a fine lady, raising it to kiss the back politely. “I am Lysandre,” he introduced himself, holding on to her hand for a shade too long before she tugged herself free. “I’ve tried to learn as much about Pokemon as I can to help build a brighter future,” he said, tucking his hand back to his side.

“That is a very…noble goal,” she murmured. “Is that why you are here?” she asked.

“Professor Sycamore has taught me much,” he said vaguely without really answering her question. “Oh, I see you have a Holo Caster. Knowledge is power, after all. Put it to good use.”

She nodded slowly, but didn’t move her wrist so he could get her Caster’s frequency. He was creeping her out a little too much.

“Now listen,” he said, leaning forward so he was more in her space and his head was closer to her eye-line. “It is vital that this world become a better place. And the people and Pokemon chosen to make the world better must work tirelessly to achieve this goal.”

Right, no pressure. “I’m going to try and do my best, whatever that is…” she assured him, her voice going quiet in her unease. Felix gripped the fabric of her shirt a little tighter, and she felt Kakashi lean against her too. Wonderful, everyone didn’t like this man. She’d have to try and avoid him.

If he noticed how her Pokemon were reacting, Lysandre didn’t say anything about it. He straightened back up and tried to charm her with another smile. “Well, I’ll be off. Please give Professor Sycamore my best. My desire… it is for a more beautiful world, after all.” With a brief nod at Sina, he quickly strode out of the lab’s lobby.

“Still… I wonder what kind of beautiful world Lysandre desires…?” Sina asked out loud..

“I don’t want to know,” Evangeline said with a shudder. “He gave me goosebumps in a bad way.” He seemed way too much like some of her parents’ stories of Team Rocket members they had met growing up.

Shaking her head, Sina folded her hands in front of her. “In this great Kalos region, there are many different Pokemon. I hope getting a Pokedex gives you a chance to learn about them,” she said. “Best of luck on your journey!”

“Thanks,” she said, adjusting Felix in her arms. “I’m going to explore a little, and then spend the night at the nearest Pokemon Center, if you need me.”

“Okay. There’s an outage going on, so I think they’ve got this district on lock down,” Sina offered in warning. “I wished everything was open for you to see right away, but you’ll just have to come back and visit later!”

“Right, can do,” Evangeline assured, and managed a wave good-bye before she led her Pokemon out on to the busy streets.


NaNo 17, Day 15: Parterre Way and Professor Sycamore

A quick stop at the Center, and Evangeline was heading north out of town. The bag case conveniently enough clipped to her bag so while it was on display, it wasn’t in the way or showing signs of opening by mistake. She didn’t make it too far though before she was stopped, this time by a woman who looked a good deal like the Gym Leader that she’d just faced, just with slightly darker hair and dressed in dark colors. “Oh, you… You are, aren’t you? You’re one of the kids who got a Pokémon from Augustine Sycamore, right?”

“Oh, yeah, that’s me,” Evangeline said, tilting her head. “Can I help you?”

But the stranger was easily distracted. “Would you look at that! You got the Bug Badge! Looks like I might have a new scoop.” She winked, and tapped her chin with one finger. “To beat Viola at your young age… You really are something, aren’t you?”

Flushing, Evangeline fidgeted with her bag strap. “Not really,” she mumbled. “I mean, I’d like to think I’m a good trainer, but I’m just starting out.”

“Still, you did fantastic for your first Gym battle. Oh! Sorry, I never did introduce myself, did I? I’m Alexa. The Gym Leader you just faced, Viola, is my younger sister.” That explained the resemblance. “I work as a journalist myself.” And that explained the nosiness.

“I’m Evangeline,” she introduced herself with a quick nod. “Thank you for your compliments.”

“It’s no problem. I work at the big publishing house up in Lumiose City. Feel free to stop by anytime if you have the next big scoop to share with me!” Alexa tilted her head. “Though I take it if I want to run an article to embarrass my sister a little, she’ll already have a bunch of photos for me? You look like the type she loves to take pictures of.”

Evangeline flushed even darker. “Yes.”

Laughing, Alexa patted her shoulder comfortingly. “She’ll at least ask before she displays them anywhere. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rub it in that she lost like the good big sister I am.” She waved and walked back into town in the direction of the gym.

Shaking her head, Evangeline took off towards Route 4, which according to signs was also called Parterre Way. The center piece was an impressive fountain featuring Horsea, and several gardens and hedge mazes. And trainers training among them! She also ran into a Budew among the flowers. Hiromi almost scorched it to death, but it still bravely railed against them. Holding the lion cub back, Evangeline threw a Pokeball and caught the brave little fellow.

“Budew, the Bud Pokemon,” her Pokedex piped up. “When it feels the sun’s warm touch, it opens its bud to release pollen. It lives alongside clear pools.”

“Huh,” she mused, looking down at Hiromi. “It must have been attracted by the fountain.”

She went ahead and let her new catch out to meet him. Naive and laid back, he and Kakashi were pretty quickly friends. Evangeline made a note not to let them double team her into taking a lot of breaks, they’d never get anything done with those two in charge of the team. He took the nickname Haruka, which she thought suited his rather feminine Pokemon type and gender both.

Haruka (Budew)

Another surprise came after one of the battles, against a gardener named Fabian. Cho once again glowed, and Evangeline didn’t cover her eyes again, knowing what was happening this time. She guessed the trainers at Santalune City Gym weren’t kidding about how quickly Bug Types could evolve!

With a flash of wings, Cho broke the light aura to show off her new form: Vivilion, the same pattern to her wings as Viola’s. “Vivilion, the Scale Pokemon,” her Pokedex declared. “Vivillon with many different patterns are found all over the world. These patterns are affected by the climate of their habitat.”

Cho (Vivilion)

“Huh,” she said out loud, and smiled at Cho. “Well, I’m proud of you, Cho.”

“Thank you,” the newly hatched butterfly Pokemon preened, admiring her own new wings. “Wow, they are so pretty! And look, they match you!”

“They do,” Evangeline agreed, looking over them. They seemed well formed, which is all she worried about. Beauty was a bonus. “I wonder if that pattern is just for this area of Kalos, or if it has a wider change.”

“We’ll meet wild ones, I’m sure,” she said dismissively, with one last spin. “Okay, let’s keep going!”

Laughing, Evangeline agreed and they took off back down the path again. Evangeline slowed down, though, when she saw two people waiting at the end of the path, both in white suit-type uniforms. The blonde boy wore a blue tie, the dark girl a red one. She slowed down on her skates, unsure of what was happening.

The boy noticed her first. “Hello there!” he greeted warmly. “Have you ever heard of a Pokemon called Flabébé?”

Evangeline shook her head. “No, I didn’t run into one on this route,” she said.

“So, you haven’t seen one yet…” he said with a sigh, but didn’t lose his smile. “Well, that’s something you can look forward to!”

The girl butted in, perhaps sensing Evangelin’s confusion. “Flabébé is–now brace yourself–a Fairy Type Pokemon!”

Evangeline tilted her head. Was there something in her ears? She swore this girl just said a type of Pokemon that didn’t exist.

“It’s true! Fairy Type is a new Pokemon type that was just classified recently,” the boy insisted.

“This turned the entire type-match-up on it’s head!” the girl said, sounding excited.

Evangeline shook her head, but gathered herself quickly. She hadn’t heard about this on the boat ride over, but it was exciting. “Do you know how it’s affecting things?” she asked.

They shook their heads. “We’ve been battling Fairy Types against other types of Pokemon at Professor Sycamore’s request, but we’re still figuring out the specifics. Oh! I’m Sina, by the way. A beautiful name for a beautiful lady.” She tossed the edges of her bob, making Evangeline grin. It reminded her of Cho and her new wings.

“I’m Dexio,” the boy said with a more shy smile. “Two years ago, Professor Sycamore entrusted me with a Pokedex. You could call me a Pokemon-voyage veteran.”

Evangeline laughed, and couldn’t help herself. She gave him a formal bow like she would one of the trainers back home. “Hai, senpai,” she said teasingly.

Despite the language barrier, that bit of Japanese had apparently traveled to this region too. Dexio flushed, and Sina twittered, obviously trying not to laugh too hard at her friend. She got herself under control again soon enough. “If you’d like, we’ll show you the way to the lab,” she offered, and Evangeline quietly nodded. “Okay, come along now,” she said cheerily.

Evangeline hurried to take her blades off as she followed after them, strapping them to her bag for now. As they walked, Dexio asked politely, “So how are you and your Froakie getting along?”

“I think Kakashi and I are doing alright together,” she said, rubbing her elbow. He hadn’t voiced any complaints to her, or to the others that she had overheard. Nurse Joy hadn’t said anything at the Center either…

Dexio just hummed. “Well, the more you walk around with your Pokemon, the stronger your friendship will become.”

“Quit being a grump,” Sina scolded. “Right through this gate and you’ll be in Lumiose City!”

Evangeline managed to smile at her enthusiasm, uncertain why they were building this place up so much. A Pokemon lab wasn’t going to make the town that much bigger, was it?

She sucked in her breath as she walked through the doors. Tall buildings, crowded streets with trees scattered down the median… This was an actual city, not just a town with attitude. Evangeline was suddenly very glad for guides, or else she would have gotten lost.

Sina grinned at her elbow. “I’ll go ahead and wait in front of the lab for you,” she said, before taking off at a jog down the street. Evangeline managed a dumb nod belatedly, and Dexio got his chuckle at her. Flushing, she quickly walked ahead to follow Sina.

Thankfully, she hadn’t gone too far out of sight, and there were Pokeball-shaped signs that set the building apart from the neighboring ones easily. Sina still managed to gesture to it as if it weren’t obvious. “This building is the Sycamore Pokemon Lab,” she confirmed. “Let’s go inside!”

“Right,” Evangeline said, reflexively reaching up as if to smooth her hair down. It was finally time to meet this region’s professor. She hoped he was nice…

In the pristine lobby, Sina told her the professor was in his office on the third floor, with the elevator being the fastest way up. Evangeline waved good-bye and walked into the elegant, almost retro elevator with the way it was free-standing. The third floor came up way too fast. The white marble floors continued, along with the sapphire blue walls, the cool color scheme broken up by the red rugs.

The professor himself was waiting. A tall, thin man, his hair was dark and wavy, his clothes stylish but professional. He was younger than what she expected for a professor, and seemed much more charismatic than the crusty professor type like Professor Oak back in Kanto. “So, we finally meet!” he said with a smile. “Fantastic. Come this way, won’t you?” he asked, gesturing for her to follow him.

“Um, of course,” she said, flushing and hurrying after him. She was still baffled about how he knew who she was, so much so that he was able to recognize her on sight!

“Many thanks for coming all this way,” he told her as they reached what was obviously his desk rather than just his research room, private and away from any assistants. “As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m Professor Sycamore. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Evangeline.”

“The same for me,” she managed to stutter out, flustered at being the center of such sincere, enthusiastic attention.

“How is your Pokemon journey going so far? Have you met many different Pokemon?” he asked, moving to sit on the edge of his desk.

She fidgeted awkwardly with a curl of her violet hair that decided now was an excellent time to fall over her shoulder. “Oh, I suppose,” she murmured. “About as many as you’d expect to see, between here and Vaniville…”

“Oh? Let me have a quick look at your Pokedex and see,” he said, holding out his hand.

She fumbled removing it from her bag, and handed it to him with a flush.

He flipped it open and appraised what she had seen. With a hum, he handed it back with a grin. “It’s starting to look good,” he assured her, making her blush darken. He appraised her from head to toe. “Well now,” the professor noted. “You do have a certain je ne sais quoi. I have a good feeling about you!”

Rather than being complimented, she narrowed her eyes at him. That sounded like he knew more than he was letting on.

He didn’t seem daunted by her expression. “At first, I was thinking of choosing only one child from that town when I was deciding on who to give a Pokemon to. It was going to be the child of pair of Veteran trainers that I know who live there.” She huffed, knowing he meant Xavier. Sycamore smiled a little at her response. “But then, I heard that new people were moving in, and did a little investigating…”

She cringed. Oh no… “How much do you know?” she whispered.

“For such traditional parents, you dress very modern,” he said simply, which was enough. She groaned, covering her face with her hands. “You have to admit, it was too tempting. Here you are in the Kalos region, far from everything you know. Away from your parents, both Gym Leaders who inherited their positions from their parents and grandparents and further back, in a lineage most people would kill for, but you refused the prestige or the help.” He tapped his chest over his heart. “That really hit me right here.”

“And completely ruined the point of why I came here,” she pointed out.

“I’m not about to announce to the world that the daughter of Violet City’s Falkner and Fuchsia City’s Janine is traveling through the region,” he said with a scoff of his own, then giving her a wink. “Instead, I decided to give you a Pokemon so you could go on the journey you so obviously wanted. Was I wrong?”

She sighed, dropping her hands. “No,” she agreed reluctantly. Evangeline still would have been happier if he hadn’t known. But she was cut off from saying anything else by the sound of the elevator whirling, the doors opening just loud enough for her to hear in the quiet.

“Hi Professor, it’s Shauna!” a familiar voice called, and two familiar people came walking in. Shauna, as expected by that greeting, but also Xavier.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” he said with a smile, then did a double take at seeing Evangeline already there. She gave a sheepish little wave.

“Fantastic!” the professor said, clapping his hands. “Now let’s all have a Pokemon battle. Shauna, you versus Xavier. And Evangeline, your opponent shall be me.”

“What?” she yelped, startled, but Xavier and Shauna gave an enthusiastic cheer, moving to use the sitting room/library part of his office. With a gulp, she stepped back from the professor’s desk, reaching for her first Pokeball as he reached behind him for one of three that were on his desk.


NaNo 17, Day 14: Santalune City Gym

Rinka’s Zigzagoon didn’t stand a chance against Cho, not with the way the Spewpa was still so excited about her recent evolution. “Wow, I didn’t even get up to full speed!” the skater said in surprise. “You just might be stronger than a Gym Leader.”

Evangeline flushed and waved a hand as she called Cho back to her Pokeball. “I’m not that impressive,” she said. “You just caught me on my way inside, so the whole team is ready to go.”

That at least got Rinka to laugh, so no hard feelings. She handed over a bit of money, and then reached into her bag with a grin. “All right, here you go! One spiffy pair of Roller Skates, just as I promised.” She held up a pair of silver blades that, just like she said, Evangeline could see fitting over her boots easily. They would definitely make the walks between towns faster, though using them in tall grass or in tight quarters was probably a bad idea.

She put them away and with one last good-bye to Rinka, hurried into the gym.

And blinked at what she found.

Where were the paper screens, the tatami mats? Where were the people in mock-battles, creating a maze of people to work through? Where was the environment that obviously favored the type of Pokemon the Gym specialized in?

Instead, Evangeline had walked into a photo gallery. Artistic prints were carefully displayed on white walls, dark carpet with Flying/Bug type Pokemon and chrome lighting making it where they would be the center of attention. That, and the pole in the middle of the room, that was odd.

The only person present was a middle-aged man who waved her down. “What’s the hustle, little Crustle!” he greeted with a wide smile. “Welcome to Santalune City Gym.”

“Thank you,” she greeted, cautious. “It’s, um… Not what I expected.”

“First time challenging a Gym, huh future champ?” he teased. She stiffened, not liking it. “Thrilled? Pumped?” he asked in the same fashion.

She shrugged, wishing she hadn’t walked into this conversation now.

“Well, you should be,” he said with a boisterous laugh. “You’ve got Pokemon by your side, after all. And they’re going to be the ones doing all the battling. Am I right, or am I right?”

“Right,” Evangeline said weakly. Even though there was a chance in any battle that the Pokemon might die, if the trainers weren’t careful or an accident happened. But she wasn’t going to say that and risk making a completely stranger irritable with her.

He pointed to the out-of-place pole she’d noticed before, leading down to what she assumed was some sort of art installation more literally than the photography. “Jump on that pole there, and you’ll be on your way to where the Gym Leader is waiting for you.”

…That just sounded wrong. Evangeline gave a half-hearted wave and moved to go get a better look at it.

“Oh whoops!” the man said. “There’s something else I’m supposed to tell you.” She paused, turning her head to listen. “Everyone in this Gym uses Bug-Type Pokemon, got it?”

She refrained from rolling her eyes. Barely. “Got it,” she agreed, not mentioning she figured that out before she tried to challenge the Gym in the first place. Reaching the edge of the pit, she found it was really a hole, though the bottom was too dark for her to see what it was. Evangeline eyed the pole and shook her head. Okay, she officially missed home. The gyms made at least a little sense there.

But if it was the only way. With a reluctant sigh, she took a short jump to grab the pole, crossing her ankles so she could slide down like it was a fireman’s pole. She didn’t know why a Bug gym was underground, seemed more like a Rock-type sort of thing…

The pole slipped out from under her, leaving her to drop to the floor. Except it wasn’t a floor. It was a net…? Evangeline’s eyes widened as she got a good look at what was under her feet. “Oh no…” she breathed, standing up on tip top like it would make it better as she covered her mouth with shaking hands. It didn’t help.

Rather than a floor, the Gym was a giant spider web.

Taking quick, panicked breaths in through her nose, Evangeline tried very hard not to completely freeze. Looking up, she saw there was no way back up. She was going to have to battle her way out. That earned a whimper, and two cautious steps down the web. Nothing came crawling out…was it perhaps just a stylistic decision? They seemed to connect to wooden platforms, with large trees and under bushes on the outskirts.

And there were trainers on the platform. Great, balancing and battling on spider webs. It was something straight out of Evangeline’s nightmares.

Thankfully, the fights were easy. Using Hiromi and Ella, she quickly worked her way through the trainers who were there, learning under the Gym Leader. Like the man in the gallery had said, they all specialized in Bug types, although thankfully most weren’t far enough along in their training yet that poison or various powders were an issue yet. The last one, a Lass named Charlotte, was even nice enough to let Evangeline take a breather on the platform so she could give a Potion to Hiromi, who was looking a bit tired.

The final platform was more like a photographer’s tent out in the wild, taking photos of wildlife of all kinds. Evangeline walked up with caution, though it didn’t matter. As soon as she saw movement, Viola looked away from whatever she was working on to walk over, camera hanging from her neck. A blonde woman of fair skin and light eyes, she was a curious combination of put-together elegance and tomboy that suited her.

Coming to a stop, she tilted her head as if examining Evangline like she was a subject for a picture. “That determined expression, that glint in your eye that says  you’re up to the challenge…” She burst into a wide smile, clapping her hands together. “It’s fantastic, just fantastic! You have to let me take your picture!”

Evangeline blinked, and pointed at herself. “Me? For a picture?”

“Of course!” Viola reached over and tried to tuck Evangeline’s bangs out of her face, only for it to fall back immediately. It actually made the photographer squeal. “Oooh, so mysterious, especially with your coloring. How do you feel about black?”

Like she was stealing clothes out of Mom’s closet. “I’m actually here for a Gym battle,” Evangeline said, trying to gently steer the conversation away from pictures. Besides, she sincerely doubted Viola’s taste in human models if she was picking her of all people.

“Oh, is this your first time challenging a Gym?” Viola seemed to get even more excited, if possible. “Fantastic!”

Evangeline flushed. She wasn’t getting out of here without getting her picture taken, she just knew it.

Viola nodded, doing a small fist pump. “Whether it’s the tears of frustration that follow a loss or the blossoming of joy that comes with victory… They’re both great subjects for my camera!” She grinned and took both of Evangeline’s hands in hers. “Fantastic, this’ll be just fantastic!”

She whirled away and began moving stands around, setting cameras on timers and adjusting the lighting of the tent. Evangeline covered her face with her hand. This could not be happening to her. She parted her fingers to peek. Yep, it was. She took a deep breath and forced her hands down. It wasn’t like there weren’t eccentrics among the other Gym Leaders. This was just the first taste of it.

Once satisfied with the lighting, Viola took a stance opposite Evangeline. “Now, come at me,” she demanded. “My lens is always focused on victory–I won’t let anything ruin this shot.”

Nodding, Evangeline pulled her first Pokeball out.

Viola took the chance to steal a shot, just as Henri made his appearance with a determined chirp. The battle was on! First, Viola sent out a Surskit, which made Evangeline nervous. Wasn’t that bug half Water type? It certainly looked the part, being mostly blue with long, spindly legs. Henri managed to persevere through the Water Sports and Bubbles.

But Vivillion was a different story. A butterfly looking Pokemon, it had pink and teal wings with a black body. Twice, Evangeline was forced to use Potions, but finally she couldn’t risk Henri any longer. She switched the little bird out for Hiromi. And the lion cub was having none of the giant butterfly’s nonsense.

“Wow,” Viola said in disbelief as she called back her final Pokemon. “You and your Pokemon have shown me a whole new depth of field!” She hit a button, causing the various cameras staged around to flash. “Fantastic, just fantastic,” she cheered at the idea of her shot.

Evangeline was blinking spots from her eyes.

“Young Trainer, you…” Viola shook her head. “No, it wasn’t you alone. You and your Fletchling and your Litleo have shown me a whole new depth. You more than deserve this.” She held out a brown badge with green eyes, shaped almost like a beetle. The Bug Badge.

“I also have this,” Viola said, holding up a case that Evangeline could see was meant for holding all the badges of the region. “But to get this… You have to let me take your picture with you and all of your Pokemon!”

Evangeline had to weigh if it was really worth it or not. But she hadn’t seen any badge cases in the PokeMarts, so there didn’t seem to be much of an option. With a sigh, she held up all of her PokeBalls. What followed was an agonizing bit of posing with both each individual Pokemon and the group as a team. Cho, at least, enjoyed it, and Viola was quick to coo over the one Pokemon Evangeline had that matched her Gym type.

Finally, Viola was satisfied and handed over the case with a wink. “Now, can you zoom in a bit to check out the tent behind me?” she said, pointing towards the tent panel in the back of the platform. “Take the stairs that you find beyond it, and you’ll be back up to the entrance faster than a flash!”

“Oh thank you,” Evangeline said in pure relief. “No offense, you all have been super friendly, but…”

“But not everyone takes their cues for decorating from Bug Types,” Viola said with a laugh. “No worries, you aren’t the first to be unnerved coming down here. I’m even more impressed at how composed you were, knowing that you were one of them.” She leaned over and gave Evangeline’s shoulders a quick hug. “Good luck on your journey!”

“Thank you,” Evangeline said, returning the hug and then scurrying her way around the tent panel and up the stairs. She breathed a sigh of relief as soon as the wall panel at the top slid behind her to hide the stairs again from new entrants, moving to walk back to the main door.

Unfortunately, the man from earlier was still hanging around, and saw the case under her arm, the clear top letting the badge show through. “Whoa-ho-ho!” he said, playing up his excitement just enough that she cringed a little inside. “Would you look at that Bug Badge? Nice, very nice future champ! I bet that schmancy-pants professor  who gave you your first Pokemon would be amazed to see it. After you heal up your Pokemon at the Center, why don’t you go on up to the Pokemon Lab in Luminose City to show him?”

Ahh, it was a commentary on the professor, less on her. Or he didn’t know how to relate to teenagers, she was willing to bet both. “Thank you,” she said, giving him a brief bow like she would back home before she could catch herself. She then took off at a fast walk for the door clinging to her happy feeling.

Looking at the case, she gave it a smile. “My first badge…” she murmured, hugging it to her chest before taking off at a run for the Center for a quick check-up of her team.


NaNo 17, Day 8: Route 3, 22, and Santalune City

Route 3 was Ouvert Way. Evangeline shook her head as she knocked out the Pokemon of a second preschooler. She was all for children getting experience before going off on journeys, but that seemed a little young, even for her. At least both of them took their beatings gracefully…well, gracefully for five year olds. Ella had been especially careful in the battles to cause minor injuries only so Evangeline wouldn’t have to be the one to break it to either kid that sometimes, battling could prove deadly.

Walking down a set of steps that had been built into the path, Evangeline wondered how much farther she had to go.

“Coming through!”

Jumping out of the path and into the grass, Evangeline blinked as a girl in roller-blades whizzed past. She glanced at the ground, and then where the girl had zoomed off. The path was just hard-packed earth, not something she would ever choose to skate on. Did they have better wheels or something here? Shaking her head, she resolved to see if she could find a pair and look for herself. Bikes were super-expensive and not something she imagined being able to afford, but maybe skates would be more affordable.

The next town’s walls loomed overhead to the north soon enough. One glance at her clock and the horizon confirmed that she would be able to make it to the Pokemon Center before it was too late. Weighing her odds, she took a brief detour through the tall grass to see what she could stir up.

The answer filled her with glee–a bird-type Pokemon. Her Pokedex quickly identified it. “Fletchling, the Tiny Robin Pokemon. These friendly Pokémon send signals to one another with beautiful chirps and tail-feather movements.” It gave a chirp as if to confirm this description, tail feathering up behind it.

Ella made quick work of the capture, catching her breath once the Pokeball stopped wiggling. “Okay, I’m pooped,” she declared, flopping down. “Use the bug next time, I am in need of food and a nap before we do any more.”

Giggling, Evangeline patted her on the head. “No problem. Let’s go get all of us some food and sleep. We’ll meet our new friend and give him a nickname at the Center.”

It ended up being easy to get a room. Nurse Joy was kind, and set her up with a room with a window. All of the Pokemon came out for a chance to stretch their legs and get a bite to eat. The new Fletchling was regarded with unease by Cho, but everyone else was pretty excited to meet him. He took on the nickname Henri, and Kakashi was soon the unofficial leader of the little band…though, a very laid back one.

Henri (Fletchling)

As she was brushing out her hair to braid it, Evangeline looked out the window in thought. Her Pokemon had spotted preferred places to sleep, and Cho had surprisingly claimed the window sill. She ruffled her feelers a little, looking up at her trainer. “What are you thinking about?” she asked.

“Hmm? Oh, my father, I guess,” Evangeline admitted, beginning the familiar motions of weaving the braid as she spoke. “He lives in Violet City, which is the first stop for most Johto trainers. I guess I wonder what he would think if I was there, going through that region instead of Kalos.”

Cho tilted her head. “Why didn’t you? It just seems like a lot of work, traveling here just to go on a Pokemon journey…”

Sighing, Evangeline leaned her head against the window’s edge. “Fairness was some of it,” she said. “I didn’t want it to be easier or harder, just because of who my parents or grandparents were.” And it would have been a factor, she knew it. “But I also didn’t want the pressure, you know? I grew up around Flying types, but what if my passion really lies with Water types, like Kakashi, or Dark, or Fire. Going where no one knows who I am helps some of that pressure go away, so I can figure out who I am on my own.”

Cho nodded, looking out the window herself. “I didn’t think I’d ever get a Trainer, or get a chance to go stronger and evolve,” she said honestly. “But I’m glad to have the chance with you. Promise you’ll help me do my best?”

Evangeline’s heart melted. “Of course, Cho. We’ll all help each other.” She gave the Scatterbug a pat on the head. “But for now, let’s get some shut eye.”

“Alright. Good night, Evangeline,” Cho said.

“Good night. Sweet dreams,” the lone human in the room said with a yawn before crawling under the covers, working hard not to disturb Ella, who was curled up just so that Evangeline could tuck her legs around her, or Henri, who had settled on the headboard. Kakashi was on her pillow, and slid down to where he was cuddled in her arms as soon as she was lying down.

Cho looked outside some more, looking to the night sky and wondering. She hoped, and hoped… And then wiggled her way over to the bed, hopping up to sleep in the small of Evangeline’s back, just above Ella and on the opposite side as Kakashi. It wouldn’t do for the human to get cold, after all.

The next morning, Evangeline spent a good hour wrangling everyone through breakfast and into Pokeballs, not to mention getting herself fed and cleaned up. Then she set out to explore Santalune City. There were people to talk to, including the teacher inside the school and some of the students who were starry-eyed, seeing a new Trainer visiting. The boutique was cute, the PokeMart was actually in the Pokemon Center, which took some getting used to wrapping her head around. She spotted the gym, but walked ahead to find another route, Route 33–Detourner Way.

However, Evangeline quickly saw that the Route didn’t really have much to offer her, aside from a new friend in the form of a Litleo. Her Pokedex declared it the Lion Cub Pokemon, and the description was the stronger the opponent it faces, the more heat surges from its mane and the more power flows through its body. Her little cub was female, and quickly took on the nickname of Hiromi.

Hiromi (Litleo)

Rather than stay in the dangers of Route 22, Evangeline backtracked towards Ouvert Way for training up her little team before she dared take on the gym. Picking out a tree just outside of town where running into the Center would be easy, she laid out her sleeping bag as a picnic blanket and let all her Pokemon out again so those who she wasn’t working with could play. Hiromi and Henri made a fast-friendship, and Kakashi easily settled down for naps when it wasn’t his turn. Ella was poking her nose into every bush and bramble she could find.

It was Cho, however, who stole the show, just as Evangeline was considering a break for lunch and then go back inside to face the gym. This little patch was riddled with Burmy, and while annoying and creepy to Evangeline, they had been good for training purposes. Cho in particular, while struggling against them, at least didn’t have as much of a threat as she did from Henri’s fellow Fletchling. It was after one of those fights that Cho began to glow.

Startled, Evangeline took a few steps forward in concern before what she was seeing clicked in. Eyes wide, she watched as the white reshaped itself, and finally snapped off of her Pokemon with sparkles. Only rather than a Scatterbug…

“Spewpa,” her Pokedex declared. “It lives hidden within thicket shadows. When predators attack, it quickly bristles the fur covering its body in an effort to threaten them.”

Cho (Spewpa)

“Cho, you evolved!” Evangeline said in excitement, running over to pick up the Bug type for a twirling hug.

“I did it, I did it!” Cho squealed.

The rest of the team quickly gathered around, offering their own congratulations and hugs. The newly-formed Spewpa basked in the attention, but also didn’t let Evangeline get away, leaning against her legs. Evangeline smiled at everyone and let them have their fun for a few more minutes before herding them back under control so they could get an extra-special lunch to celebrate Cho.

While the Pokemon were munching and getting their training scrapes healed up, Evangeline was making a battle plan. There had been signs proclaiming that this first gym specialized in Bug types. While she wouldn’t put Cho into the storage boxes just for that reason, it definitely meant that the little bug wasn’t going to be seeing much action inside the gym. Neither would Kakashi, really. That left Hiromi and Henri to take the lead, with Ella as back-up.

Conveying the plan to the team, everyone seemed on board, even if Cho pouted a little. She packed up all of their things, planning on hitting the road rather than stay at the Center for a second night.

Outside the gym, Evangeline was surprised to see the roller-blader from yesterday blocking the entry way. She frowned, but went on ahead.

“Hey stranger!” she greeted with a warm wave. “Isn’t cruising around town on your Roller Skates the best thing ever?”

Evangeline held out her legs, looking down at her white, calf-high boots. No wheels in sight.

It caught the attention of the girl instantly. “…Wait. Do you mean to tell me you don’t even own a pair of Roller Skates?” she demanded.

Evangeline shook her head. “Not since I was little, and I don’t think mine worked like yours,” she said. “You couldn’t leave town in them, that’s for sure.” Not unless you knew the roads were paved which were…few and far between.

“Wow, you must be from out of town.” The girl shook her head, and then grinned. “How about this then: if you beat me in a Pokemon battle, I’ll give you a pair.” She gave Evangeline a wink. “I have a spare set that I outgrew that should fit right over your boots. And I can’t say no to a contest, not me! So how about it? Do you wanna battle?”

Why not? It wasn’t like she was on a time constraint. And besides, free skates were even better than cheap skates. “You’re on,” she agreed.


NaNo 17, Day 7: Santalune Forest

Evangeline had barely hit the first crossroads when she saw a familiar set of pigtails. Shauna did not look nearly as relaxed with the forest environment as Evangeline, and in fact seemed down right nervous. Titling her head, Evangeline wondered if maybe unlike Xavier and her, who had prior training and experiences growing up, if Shauna was the literal definition of a rookie, the first of her family to set out on a journey like this.

Okay, she could afford to be a little more patient. “Hey again, Shauna,” she greeted. “Fall behind?”

“Oh, hi!” Shauna jumped, turning around with a shaky smile. “Yeah, everyone else is up ahead. I just thought I would look around some, you know? Apparently a lot of people drop items around here, and there’s probably a lot of different types of Pokemon.”

Slowly nodding, Evangeline took a few steps forward to read a sign that said the same thing, and then, on a guess, started down the path to the left.

“Wait up, let’s walk together!” Shauna shouted, coming up behind her at full speed, bouncing a little to try and avoid running into Evangeline. “I feel like something will happen if I stay by you.”

Evangeline snorted. She knew what that meant. More like Shauna was hoping nothing bad would happen if they were together, or if it did, she was hoping that Evangeline would be able to get her out of it. Never mind that of the two of them, Shauna was the one wasn’t completely screwed if they ran into Grass types, which was pretty darn likely in a forest.

“I’ll heal your Pokemon whenever you want me to,” Shauna bribed, clapping her hands together in a pleading gesture. Her eyes grew big and wide, and her lower lip began to tremble.

If Evangeline had ever had any younger siblings or cousins growing up, such efforts would have been in vain. If she’d had much to do with younger children, she would have had at least enough for a token resistance. But she had been either in the watchful folds of her mother’s people or her father’s her entire life, and had private tutors rather than public schools. So she was completely unprepared for the effect of puppy-eyes.

With a sigh, Evangeline gestured for Shauna to follow her. “Come on, this way then,” she said.

“Yay!” Shauna squealed, and then plastered herself to Evangeline’s back.

It was hard to be afraid herself when someone was depending on her. Evangeline led the way down the meandering paths and tall grasses, finding items along the way. They reached a dead end, though, which meant turning around and going back to the crossroads.

And Evangeline stumbled to a stop at a rustle in the grass. “Oh no…” she breathed.

“What, what is it?” Shauna immediately put her hands on Evangeline’s shoulders to try and peer over the taller girl through a curtain of dark purple hair.

Out crawled a black and white, caterpillar type bug Pokemon. Evangeline barely heard her and Shauna’s Pokedex’s reciting in a creepy unison, “Scatterbug, the Scatterdust Pokemon. When under attack from bird Pokémon, it spews a poisonous black powder that causes paralysis on contact.”

“Oooh, are you going to catch it, Ladybird?” Shauna asked. “Can I watch you?”

No, no she wasn’t going to catch it. She fully intended to run and pray the bug was slow and couldn’t keep up with her. But taking a deep breath, she managed a nod. “Alright, Ella, let’s… Let’s catch a new friend,” she managed to squeak out.

The Zigzagoon zipped along the ground out of her ball, glancing over her shoulder at her trainer. “You okay?” she asked.

Evangeline managed a very weak smile. “I’ll be fine, go on,” she urged. The Scatterbug spewed out a stream of webbing–String Shot attack–and Ella had to focus on the fight, jumping out of the way.

It was a quick fight, especially with Ella’s speed. Closing her eyes, she threw the empty Pokeball, and covered her eyes with her hands as soon as it was gone. “Did it catch?” she asked Ella, unable to look.

“Yep,” Ella said, and she even went and fetched the ball for her. Reluctantly, Evangeline let the new Pokemon out. The little bug blinked up at her, sitting up straight.

With a swallow, Evangeline shakily patted the little feelers on top of its head. “H-hi,” she managed to squeak out.

“Hello,” the bug said. “Are you going to be my Trainer now?” She sounded dubious.

Evangeline felt dubious. “If you want. Would you like a nickname?”

“Yes.” The bug almost seemed to preen. “Something that suits me.”

Okay, that about made Evangeline giggle. Maybe this bug wouldn’t be so bad. She resigned herself to this, at least for now. “How about Cho?” she suggested. “It means Butterfly.”

The bug considered this with consideration. “Feminine, dainty, something to look forward to… I like it,” she pronounced with a nod of her head.

Cho (Scatterbug)

“Good, Cho it is,” Evangeline said. “And good job, Ella.” She held out both balls, returning both to her bag.

“That was really good,” Shauna said, clapping her hands. “You seemed really nervous, though.”

Evangeline grimaced. “I had an accident when I was little with a Bug-type,” she admitted as she led the way down the path towards the right path she hadn’t taken before. “If it has wings, I do okay, since I grew up with Flying-types around.” She pulled up the Pokedex and flipped through things. “I think Cho and I will be alright.” Tilting her screen, she let Shauna see the evolutionary chain of the Scatterdust Pokemon.

Shauna nodded seriously. “Well, thank you for letting me see someone else catch a Pokemon,” she said. “Xavier made it look so easy, and I felt pretty confident, and then we walked into here…”

“And it seems really different,” Evangeline said with a nod. “I know. But it’s okay to do things at your own pace, not mine or Xavier’s or anyone else’s, all right? And your Fennekin will help you too, even if you can’t understand what it’s saying. You can still work together.”

Shauna nodded, and Evangeline was relieved to see she was a little less nervous. It made the walk through the woods much more pleasant. They passed by Tierno and Trevor, one in the middle of a Pokemon battle of his own while the other waded through the tall class. Evangeline even thought she saw Xavier, but with his outfit, it was hard to spot him in all this greenery. She focused on her own fights, and Shauna even got brave enough to wander off on her own for a little bit, returning with some items someone had dropped along the way.

It was with a good bit of relief that Evangeline noticed the trees beginning to thin out and the road becoming straighter. The sun was beginning it’s descent, and she did not want to be stuck outside in the dark, at least not in an area crawling with more Bugs.

Shauna, though, made her pause and wait for the others to catch up. Xavier popped up first, looking surprised to see them. “So you’re the first to arrive,” he said, taking in the way Shauna was clinging and figuring out pretty quickly that it was Evangeline who had led them out. “Looks like my neighbor is someone with a lot of potential.” He cocked his hat back, looking at her with a sharper appreciation. She sniffed, tossing her hair over her shoulder. He was the idiot who had assumed she hadn’t known anything!

They were saved from any awkwardness by the arrival of Tierno and Trevor. Tierno barreled straight ahead of them in the path so he was front-and-center, spinning into some hip-hop inspired moves that were full of grace, almost in spite of his size. “The way Pokemon move, it’s just incredible!” he said, bouncing to a stop. “I want to show off some of that spirit when I dance.”

“Tierno…” Trevor sighed, obviously exasperated with his own travel partner. “Could you think about something besides how Pokemon move for once?” Tierno just shrugged sheepishly, unrepentant in his passion. Evangeline thought that was very brave of him.

“We’re all here!” Shauna said, some of her perkiness returning now that the whole group was together. But now it was a little more endearing to Evangeline, rather than being quite as surprising or grating. “Let’s go to Santalune City.”

There was nods of agreement, and as a group they continued to walk down the path together, the trees continuing to thin out and no tall grass to hamper the journey. “What are you all going to do?” Shauna asked to carry on the conversation. “Once we get to the city?”

“Why look for Pokemon of course.” Trevor’s tone was matter-of-fact, like the answer was obvious. Perhaps to him, it was. “The professor did ask us to complete the Pokedex, after all. And furthermore, different Pokemon prefer living in different places. To put it another way, it’s a chance to find different Pokemon than the ones in the forest.”

Tierno nodded, looking up towards the thinning canopy of leaves. “I’ll bet different Pokemon will use different moves. I sure want to see lots of moves.”

Not to mention it offers some coverage in different types of battles and situations, but if they weren’t thinking it, Evangeline wasn’t going to point it out right now. Maybe later. For all she knew, the types in Kalos weren’t as varied as her home region, and it was less of a concern. She’d find out as they went, and would mention it to Tierno and the others if it became relevant.

Shauna wasn’t daunted, though. “What are you going to do, Xavier?”

“I’m going to go to Santalune City’s Gym and challenge the Gym Leader.” Much like Trevor, Xavier was confident in his decision to go straight to the Gym. When he saw Shauna’s puzzled face, he added, “You see, Pokemon Trainers find out how good they really are by challenging the Leaders in Pokemon Gyms.”

“Wow, you sure know a lot.” Shauna pouted, obviously discouraged a little that she hadn’t known that.

“It’s because Mom and Dad taught me so much.” Xavier said dismissively. “Here, I have something for you guys: ‘Adventure Rules.’ I wrote down ten different trips every Trainer should know. If you are puzzled by something, try looking in these rules.” He handed copies to both Shauna and Evangeline. Glancing at it, Evangeline saw it wasn’t much different from the set of advice her father had given her, and she’d had weeks to study that. She shoved the notebook into her bag to avoid appearing rude by refusing the gift.

“Oh, this is great!” Shauna said, flipping through the pages avidly. When she finished, she clasped it to her chest. “I’m going to spend some time getting to know my Li’l Fenn. What are you going to do, Ladybird?”

Smiling, Evangeline shrugged. “Probably what Trevor and Xavier said. Looking for more Pokemon to round out my team a little more, and then take on the Gym. But first, I think I’ll head to the Pokemon Center. You did a great job keeping my team healed up in the forest, Shauna, but I think I’ll take the chance to spend the night in a bed.” She pointed out at the setting sun as it crested over the hill.

“Oh man, we’d better hurry!” Xavier said. “Race you there!”