Tag Archives: Evangeline

NaNo 18, Day 10 & 11: Geosenge Town and Route 11

The stone arch gave way to perhaps the oddest town layout that Evangeline had ever seen. Oh, it was filled with a rustic charm, with log cabin homes and stone lined paths, but it was also laid out in a circle of all things, no signs of a grid. And it was a circle around tall tower-stones in grey that chilled Evangeline to even look at them. The Pokemon Center was thankfully nearby, letting her check in. It wasn’t even close to being done for the day–she wasn’t even ready for lunch–but she knew the Centers at home kept bento boxes for Trainers on the go.

She lucked out. Nurse Joy had bagged lunches that didn’t need refrigeration–apples, hard smoked cheeses and meats, and a flaky croissant. Evangeline had a knife so cutting it all up later wouldn’t be a problem, and her water bottle was refillable. Theo was definitely not coming with her, so a few baggies of food were enough to keep her friends fed while she ate too, even if she ended up spending the night in a cave or wood grove somewhere and had to dip into her emergency rations.

There was no reason to stick around, but Evangeline decided to poke her nose around. Especially after meeting all those Team Flare grunts on her way here. That had been a red flag back at the mines, and she felt like it was probably applicable to them in general.  They were immediately around, and no one she talked to seemed to realize they were around, but that didn’t mean they weren’t!

There was a path that led around the village that she decided to follow. It was almost like a shared yard between the houses. A very…strange…shared yard, but it at least gave her an idea of why it was set up that way. Hitting the north end of the path, she considered turning around. But a flash of orange caught her attention, and she ran forward to confirm it.

Unfortunately, she had failed basically every stealth class she’d ever sat in during her visits to the academy with Mother. She was spotted almost instantly. He twisted around to see her clearly, scowling. “Not you again!”

She prepared for more trouble herself, reflexively grabbing Kakashi’s Pokeball. “I could say the same thing.”

“Hear this, pipsqueak! Team Flare is gonna use the stones on Route 10 and a fantastic treasure to make everyone on our team happy!” he said authoriatively. “In this world, the ones who have power are the ones who win with flare!”

“So that rules you out, doesn’t it?” she pointed out.

He threw a smoke bomb at her in answer, making her cover her mouth and cough to wait for it to clear the air. Jerk.

A series of steps came running up behind her, resting his hand on her shoulder. The smell of powder in her nose had her reflexively reaching for the kunai that should have been strapped to her thigh… Only nothing was there. Because she wasn’t at the academy. She was in Kalos, and the person behind her was a friend.

Sort of.

Xavier made sure she was standing up on her own and breathing properly before he relaxed. “Evangeline, are you okay?” When she nodded, he looked over head in the direction she had been talking to the moron. “Was someone from Team Flare here just now?”

“Yes,” she managed to cough out, straightening up as her lungs finally cleared.

His expression was…skeptical, to say the least. “You said he was here, but he isn’t anymore, is he? There’s only a dead end up ahead…” he pointed out.

“He was there!” she insisted, glaring up at him, annoyed at the insinuation. She wasn’t crazy! There had been a Team Flare member here, and now he was gone. Evangeline may not know where he went, but as much as she was awful at being sneaky, the academy had taught her all about secret passageways and entrances. Just because they couldn’t see something, didn’t mean it wasn’t there.

Wisely, Xavier held up his hands. “I believe you!” he quickly corrected his tone by assuring her. She humphed, making it clear that was the right answer or they were about to have a real problem. He shifted the bill of his hat up so he could look over the area more. “I wonder where that Team Flare guy went…” he mused.

“I don’t know, but I’m content to tell the nearest Officer Jenny and her police force, and stay the hell out of it unless forced,” she said, crossing her arms to hug herself. “We’ve been lucky, Xavier. These are grunt level in a terrorist organization, they barely know what they are doing and they aren’t the strongest trainers. Their more elite members, much less their boss? There’s no telling what would have happened.”

“Speaking from experience?” he asked, raising his brows at her.

She shrugged awkwardly. “My parents dealt with a similar organization in their youth,” she said. “The local champion managed to step in at the time, but it was dicey for a while.”

“The Kalos Champion isn’t well known, but I imagine whoever they are, they are keeping an eye on the Team Flare situation,” he said soothingly. “I’m going to push on, I’ll catch up with you later, okay?”

Evangeline hadn’t expected him to even be here considering the time advantage he’d had, so she nodded in agreement. He scurried away, and she walked over to where she had last seen the Team Flare member. There was nothing here that stood out to her as being a secret entrance, but it may be further on ahead too… She shook her head. Nope, she was leaving this to Officer Jenny, as soon as she found one.

Walking back out of the circling path thankfully spat her out close to the road leading out of town. She was just walking under another stone arch when the cry came behind her.

“Lucario! What are you doing?”

Turning around, Evangeline grinned as a familiar Lucario came running over, his trainer and fellow Lucario just behind him. “Running away again?” she asked. He scuffed at the dirt of the road, his head ducked bashfully.

Korrina skid to a stop in her roller blades, looking at Evangeline with wide eyes. “Hey! You’re that trainer from Route 5!” she realized, looking at her Lucario who kept seeking Evangeline out. He wasn’t a lot of help, twisting to look up at the sky as he grumbled under his breath, too faint for Evangeline to hear and understand him.

Not that it stopped Korrina. “I’m not exactly sure, but I think Lucario says he wants to battle with you,” she said slowly, and then looked at Evangeline with bright eyes. “Would you battle with us?”

Oh, why not? It wasn’t like her journey had to be measured in terms of time rather than accomplishments. “Sure,” she agreed, reaching for one of her team’s Pokeballs.

“So, I have two Lucario… But do you know which is the one that has taken a shine to you?” Korrina asked with a teasing glint.

Evangeline managed not to roll her eyes. It was a little obvious. But she wasn’t going to start a verbal argument. Instead, she called out Hikari.

“A fairy?” Korrina said skeptically.

“What is it with people judging by appearances?” Evangeline muttered, and the battle was on. Perhaps because of Korrina’s dismissal, Hikari threw herself into the fight with abandon, making Evangeline have to hold her back more than anything else, as she set about destroying both Lucario. Grabbing the fairy before she could turn on Korrina, Evangeline laughed. “You know, you didn’t have to beat them that badly,” she said.

“They made fun of us!” she argued in a squeaky voice. Still laughing, Evangeline patted her consolingly on the head and let her return to her Pokeball to stew in silence.

Or well, near silence. Korrina clapped her hands as she reached an epiphany. “Okay, now I get it!”

“Get what?” Evangeline asked, clueless as to what Korrina had actually figured out. Maybe that Evangeline understood what the Pokemon were saying?

“I see why Lucario likes you so much!” she said with a sunny smile. Well, that made one of them. Evangeline still wasn’t sure why someone else’s Pokemon kept seeking her out. “So, do you remember that I’m the Gym Leader in Shalour City?”

Evangeline nodded, deciding that was the best answer she could give to the question.

“Once you get past the cave just beyond here, you’ll be there, so stop by and say hello!” Korrina demanded, reaching out and taking Evangeline’s hands in hers. She didn’t let go until Evangeline quietly agreed, and then skated off.

Shaking her head, Evangeline reached up and scratched under the brim of her hat. Was the newspaper in Cyllage just an anomaly? Or did Korrina pay as much attention to the news as her father did to Johto? (Which unless it dealt with certain topics, was not at all.) Either way, she figured it couldn’t hurt to let Korrina maintain her current beliefs. She could break it to her later.

Route 11 had postings also calling it Miroir Way, describing how people could feel the power of the earth’s interior thanks to the crystals that had poked out of the ground, exposed to the surface by time. It was climbing back up the mountains, basically, amusing Evangeline at how she came all the way down, only to have to go back up. It really highlighted to her why the different Pokedex classification systems existed here, with how the region was divided geographically.

There were a handful of trainers along the route, though thankfully not as many as there had been leading up to Geosenge Town. She’d barely been walking through the tall grass at all when she stirred up a wild Pokemon–a Chingling that she caught and nicknamed Yvette.

Yvette (Chingling)

Flipping through her Pokedex as she pushed her bike up the steps, Evangeline was shocked when a beep came from her Holo Caster alerting her to an incoming message.

It was too early to be Aunt Aya, and a part of her dreaded that it was that creepy Lysandre. To her relief, the call actually shaped up to be from Professor Sycamore. “Hello there!” he greeted with a casual wave.

“Hello, Professor,” she returned with a shy smile, glad to hear from him. “How are you?”

“Doing well. According to your Caster, it looks like you’ve almost made it to Shalour City. That’s fantastic!” he congratulated her. She flushed, thankful that the hologram wouldn’t be able to translate the change in her complexion over. “You look happy,” he added with a softer expression. “It looks like your journey with your Pokemon around the Kalos region is going swimmingly.”

“I’m glad I came to Kalos too,” she agreed, wishing she could explain more. But she was too flustered with competing emotions, most of them ones she was unfamiliar with. It almost made her feel dizzy.

He nodded, and then got to his point. “I wanted to tell you about a person in Shalour who knows a great deal about Mega Evolution. People call him the Mega Evolution guru.”

That got her attention out of her emotional wallowing. “Then why did you bother sending us to Camphier Town?” she asked sharply.

“You needed to go through anyway, and I may have known about a certain reoccurring problem in the area that I thought you could handle.” He winked at her. She huffed in mild annoyance. Evangeline should have known Sycamore was meddling–professors were notoriously nosy. “Anyway, I’ve told everyone else about him, so if you have a second, you should give him a visit!”

“I’ll add it to my list of things to do,” she said with a sigh, but she nodded.

He grinned at her, and the call ended. She looked at the looming cave entrance, and wondered if she should have warned the professor she was about to enter a set of caves, so he wouldn’t have gotten so excited. But steeling herself, she walked her bike inside to navigate her way to Shalour City.

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NaNo 18, Day 9: Ninja Daughters Are Prepared!

(Note: I goofed in last time’s post. I thought the Reflection Caves were next, rather than realizing those were the Connecting Caves outside of the gym. I’ve edited the previous blog post to correct this.)

The next morning dawned bright and clear, and Evangeline happily rode her new bike out of town…at least as long as the paths were going to let her. (Nurse Joy had given her a warning on her way out the door.) Route 10 was labeled as Menhir Trail, and it wasn’t a very long road at all according to the map. Of course, neither was Route 9 and look at how long that had taken her. It was littered with strange stones and tall grass–not ideal for navigating with her bike. But it was fun to ride it a little on her way out of town, as thanks for one of the citizens.

She stopped as she passed under a wild berry tree. This seemed like as good of a place as any to switch over to being on her feet. She reached up and snagged a fruit to snack on as she walked.

“Hey, that was mine!”

Startled, Evangeline jerked to look behind her. Stepping out of the tall grass was a brown mammal-type Pokemon, it’s fur striped in a different pattern than Ella’s had been, its ears much bigger. She didn’t need her Pokedex chiming into recognize this newcomer. It was an Eevee.

He growled at her, crouching down like he was prepared to tackle her. “That was my berry!” he repeated himself.

That berry had been way too high for him to reach. But if wanted a fight… “Kagura, help me out,” she said, releasing the sword-shaped Pokemon out to battle.

It wasn’t a hard fight–the Eevee wasn’t as tough as he was making out. But it took effort for Kagura to hold back enough to just weaken him enough for the Pokeball to work. Evangeline held her breath as the ball swayed precariously, the Eevee obviously not happy about the containment. But it was enough. The ball’s button clicked shut in a sealed lock.

“Yes!” she squealed, hugging Kagura. “Thank you, Kagura.” The Ghost-Type flushed and returned to her ball. With a lot of consideration, Evangeline sent one of her more established team members back to the computer storage, letting her hang on to the Eevee’s ball. She released it back out, reaching into her bag for a potion.

He growled at her. Rolling her eyes, Evangeline reached over and held out the berry. “Here,” she said. “Eat this while I treat your scrapes and bruises.”

That got him to stop growling, though it was in shock. “But…” he trailed off, taking the berry in his mouth as she sprayed the potion on his paws and body. “But you didn’t have to give it to me now.”

Reaching up to the tree, she pulled out another berry for herself. “There’s plenty to go around,” she pointed out to him as she took a bite.

His ears wilted. “Not around here…” he complained with a grumble. She offered him another berry and he took it before continuing, “There are so many Eevee, and lots of bird types too.”

Ahh, that explained his crankiness. Covertly feeling his belly, she decided one more berry couldn’t hurt and fetched it for him. “Well, with me, you won’t go hungry,” she promised. “I take good care of my friends. So what do you say? Want to go back to the grasses, or with me on my journey?”

He snorted. “Like that’s a decision. I’m sticking with you.”

Evangeline bit the inside of her cheek. He was so spunky compared to the normal Eevee! “How about Rei, for a nickname?” she asked. She had to explain that what it meant in her home language, but he agreed. Evangeline let him rest inside of his Pokeball now that his stomach was full, shaking her head in amusement at the newest addition to her crew.

Rei (Eevee)

There were only a few other trainers out and about this early, psychics and tourists, but plenty of wild Pokemon were making themselves known. Evangeline wasn’t surprised–it seemed the shortest routes were the busiest! The mysterious stones were taller than she was, very much so, and were like great planks, laid out in a pattern. She carefully touched on as she circled it, feeling chilled at the contact.

She had just passed through a row of hedges when a familiar, eye-searing shade of orange appeared. Hissing between her teeth, she tried to go duck behind the hedge, but it was too late. “Stop right there!” he ordered, running up to her and glaring at her from behind his orange sunglasses. “I remember you! You’re the one who foiled our fossil-finding plans!”

“If you want to call them plans,” she muttered.

He glowered at her, standing up straighter. “And now you’re here, standing around these stones. Do you have any idea what they even are?” His tone was patronizing, derisive. She flinched, which only made him even more smug. “Of course you don’t. You know nothing about the legend of three-thousand years ago that says…” He paused, looking upwards. “Wait, what does it say?”

Evangeline snorted before she could help herself. His effect was ruined, all without her having to do anything.

Swiping angrily at the air, he tried to take back his threatening air. “Oh, whatever! Who cares about all that? It’s time for me to get revenge…with style.”

She grimaced. So a battle it was. Rather than let him try to get the advantage, she selected the appropriate Pokeball. “Kagura, let’s go!”

“Houndour, finish her this time,” he ordered, releasing his own Pokemon.

If only for this guy’s dignity, she wished she could say it was a difficult battle. But it really, really wasn’t. Between Kagura, Hikari, and Etienne, she wiped the floor with his Houndour and Golbat. He reeled back at his defeat, staring at her in shock before it turned to his standard glare. “What? How could I lose again to some punk like you?”

Evangeline crossed her arms, glaring at him. “Substance over style, maybe? All I see is a fashion disaster who can’t even battle well.”

Outraged, he held his hand up to his chest like he was seriously affronted by what she said. “What are you, some kind of Trainer prodigy or something?”

“Or something,” she muttered. But she wasn’t going to explain to (what was effectively) a terrorist!

A beep came from the guy’s wrist. He walked away, tapping at a Holo-Caster as he held it up. She couldn’t see his message or call–that wasn’t how the system worked. All she could hear was his side. Not that he gave away much. “I see… Roger that!” He turned to look at her over his shoulder, sneering. “Time for me to scram, kid.” And he suited action to words.

“Kid?” she repeated, offended herself. She was sixteen! And a certified trainer, one with badges under her belt. (Well, ten year olds used to journey in her home region,  that nonsense was shut down ages ago.) But she didn’t chase after him, not wanting to risk this going from battling an annoying group of thugs to something a lot more dangerous. She had to settle for muttering and adjusting her bag strap. Alerting the police to these jerks was the first thing she was doing, as soon as she got to the next town.

Her bike alongside her, Evangeline tried to navigate the rest of the path in peace. Or well, relative. There were other trainers to fight, lots of wild Pokemon to stir up. And two more of these Team Flare goons to defeat. The first girl went down with very little effort. It was the second and her Gulpin that caused the issue. It didn’t take a genius to recognize it as a Poison type, and Evangeline’s maternal line were experts in them.

It was a value she definitely recognized as she managed to chase off the second girl. “Etienne, Hikari, come here,” she ordered the two poisoned Pokemon, kneeling down as she dug in her bike. Ettiene limped over, his eyes glossy, and Hikari managed to flutter over, looking wilted and dim in color.

She pulled out the white plastic case that had been her mother’s gift to wish her luck on her journey. Flipping the lid open, she grabbed two syringes–one large and thick at the needle base, the other much more delicate and technically meant for the smallest of Pokemon. She had to hope these would work. A pair of latex gloves went on, actually two gloves per hand for safety, and she grabbed two sterilization packs as well. Grabbing the type of antidote needed for sludge-type Pokemon and their particular strains of poison, she inserted Hikari’s syringe first since it wouldn’t take more than a little to dose her.

One wipe carefully cleaned Hikari’s arm, and she inserted the needle with care. The relief on Hikari’s face was almost immediate as the poison’s effects stopped causing her pain. Using the wipe to clean her hands, it took her the rest of the bottle to fill Etienne’s syringe. She decided to apply the poison the same way that she would to a Rhyhorn or the Pontya line–going for the top of the shoulder. Etienne cringed a little as she was forced to throw her weight behind the needle to get it through his skin, but sighed as soon as she pressed the plunge.

“There…” she whispered to the two of them. “That should get you to the Pokemon Center in Geosenge Town.” They nodded and were easily recalled to their Pokeballs, just as the sky opened up to begin to drizzle. Glancing up, Evangeline reached into her bag for her raincoat, but she didn’t bother pulling it on. Instead, she draped it over her head and her bike handles so it would stay on as she jogged towards the stone arches in the distance. The sooner a nurse saw her Pokemon, the happier she would be.


NaNo 18, Day 7: Princess, But No Successor

The sun seemed especially bright outside when she stepped out. Though that might have been because it was hitting the waves as it set, throwing golden light wherever it still touched. Tugging her hat where it wouldn’t glare quite as much, Evangeline pulled out her map for a quick consult. Tapping Cyllage City absently with her pointer finger, she eyed the route that she was expected to take and made a face. It was just long enough, she didn’t want to risk it. Folding the map back up, she set it into her bag and climbed up on her bag to make it back to the Pokemon Center. She’d stay here for the night and call Aunt Aya, then set out in the morning.

Nurse Joy was happy to see her again, and congratulated her on the Gym win. Flushing, Evangeline thanked her and quickly found a corner of the Center to hide in for dinner while seeing to her Pokemon. Cerise was eager to show off a new move she’d figured out, and the others were slowly starting to adapt to the new friend, to Evangeline’s sweet relief. While they played around a center rug that had a series of Pokemon-safe toys, Evangeline took off her Caster and set it on the table, rearranging it so it would be able to take a steady picture. Unlike with her calls home to her parents, she didn’t have to have a landline connection to reach Aunt Aya in Vaniville. All she needed was her sequence, which she’d gotten when they’d bought the Casters in the first place.

The screen fussed for a moment as it alerted her aunt to the incoming call, but at last, a holo-projection of her great-aunt from the shoulders up appeared in blue. “Hey there, Evangeline! I was hoping you’d call soon.”

“Hi, Aunt Aya,” she said with a shy smile. “How are things for you in Vanville?”

She waved her hand dismissively. “Same old, same old. I’m actually enjoying this little vacation, if you can believe it. It’s giving me a lot of time to consider the Academy’s curriculum and how we can make it better. I’m usually so involved with the day-to-day side of things, I don’t get to think about it.”

“Well that’s good,” Evangeline said, feeling something inside her unclench as she realized that her mother’s request wasn’t upsetting Aya’s life like she was afraid.

“Enough about my boring vacation in suburbia, how is your journey going? Where are you?” Aunt Aya asked eagerly, leaning forward. Much like the rest of her family, she hadn’t gone on a Pokemon journey or really traveled much, just settling in to family expectations. A part of Evangeline wondered if her great-aunt was trying to live vivaciously through her.

Unfortunately, Evangeline knew she was rather boring, so it wasn’t going to be that much excitement. Not to mention there was a good chunk of current events that she was desperately hoping her great-aunt wasn’t going to find out about. “Cyllage City, it’s up on the coast,” she said, then ducked her head. “I faced my second Gym today.”

“Oooh, how did it go?” Aya asked, and wouldn’t let Evangeline say just fine. She asked questions and commented until Evangeline told her the whole story, and even insisted on seeing her badge case now that there were two inside of it. She rested her chin in the balm of her hand, sighing. “Your parents are going to be so happy that this is going so well. I’m really proud of you, you know?”

Evangeline flushed in embarrassment at the praise, and a knot in her stomach rolled. She didn’t think she was worth all of this fuss. She was good, sure, she also grew up in gyms. And she’d lost Cho, and struggled with Felix for a bit there. (He was still a moody little bugger.) But she didn’t think she could tell Aunt Aya that. “I called my parents last night,” she finally settled for changing the subject slightly. “Mother is with Grandfather until you’re time to call, but Father answered.”

“Ah, how is the great feather-butt?” Aya asked with a tsk, making Evangeline giggle. That seemed to be enough for Aya, who waved her hand. “Never mind, I’ll see for myself soon enough. So Janine went to go see my big brother. She is such a daddy’s girl still.” Pausing, Aya murmured softly, “I wonder if that’s genetic?”

“I am not a daddy’s girl,” Evangeline argued, mortified.

“No, but you get along with him better than your mother,” Aya pointed out with a sad little smile. “I can’t blame you, I’ve seen how hard it is for you to fit the role she wants, remember? Actually, I think both of them have smothered you a little. It’s why I was so in favor of you going on this journey.”

“Father seemed better with it, last night,” she admitted.

That made Aya pause. “Well, good. He should be. You’re doing great, Evangeline, and you need to believe that. Part of this journey is you figuring out who you are, so you can figure out where your place is.” She leaned forward. “And that may not be in Violet or Fuschia City. Okay?”

Evangeline’s mind felt greasy even considering it. “But, but Father, and Mother…”

“Can only tolerate each other and need to figure that out already,” Aya said firmly. “When Koga retires from the Elite Four, I guarantee you he is going to want his Gym back, and where will your mother be then? And both of your parents could use some more variety to their team structures. And if they took over Violet City Gym together, maybe they’d have other children to take the pressure off of you. They are both young yet–”

“I’m not listening to this!” Evangeline squealed, covering her ears. “Aunt Aya!”

She snickered but subsided for her great-niece’s sake. “The point is, let that pressure stay back in Kanto and Johto, okay? Yes, you are still their gyms’ little princess, and you always will be, but you don’t have to be anyone’s successor unless you want to be.”

It made a lot of sense. Father had never shown any interest in anyone else, and… Well, it was hard for her to say on Mother. And hadn’t that been her complaint, wanting to do more than just the one solid type that they both wouldn’t budge from? She rubbed her forehead, feeling actually more stressed even thinking about not trying to fit into either role her parents wanted.

“But I’ve said too much.” Aya flashed her a V-for-Victory sign. “Don’t worry about us, okay? Keep up your good work! The rest will sort itself out.”

Evangeline sheepishly returned the symbol. “I’ll do my best,” she promised.

“Good. Now where is that Froakie of yours?”

Hearing himself mentioned, Kakashi had no problem leaving the play to run over to the table, craning his head around Evangeline’s shoulder. “Hi, Aunt Aya!” he greeted waving his hand as the Caster picked him up for the holo on the other side of the call.

“Oh! Well he isn’t a Froakie at all!” Aya laughed, clapping her hands in delight. “I’d let Nidoqueen say hi, but she’d probably burst into tears, and I’d never get her calmed down. Next time, okay? Or maybe you can pay a visit if you circle back around!”

“I’ll see what happens,” Evangeline promised. “Call you in a few days?”

“I’ll be waiting,” Aya said and waved good-bye before the call ended.

Shaking her head, Evangeline set the Caster back on her wrist. “Part of Lumiose was shut down when we were there, and I’m sure they have a gym. We can backtrack from there to see Aunt Aya,” she promised Kakashi quietly.

“She’d like that,” he agreed with a nod. “We can take Felix too, and some of the others to show that you know how to have diversity. That’ll help her lay hints on your parents.”

Giving her starter a glare, Evangeline lifted her bangs out of the way to give it more effect. “You are not going to help my great-aunt play matchmaker with my parents, are you?”

“If it’ll make you happy, I will. And anything that makes you less stressed is good in my book.” He stuck out his little pink tongue at her. “But unless they can understand me, I’ll have to be subtle. Sneaky. Like a–”

“Please do not say a ninja,” Evangeline groaned. “I get enough of that whenever I visit Mother.”

“…You know, I’m not even going to ask. But yes, like a ninja.” He puffed up his chest.

She laughed a little. “Even if you are the wrong type, Mother is going to love you.”

No matter how much Kakashi pleaded and demanded, Evangeline refused to explain what she meant. She instead focused on getting everyone to bed at a decent time so they could get going early in the morning. She had a lot ground to catch-up on!


NaNo 18, Day 6: Cyllage City Gym Battle

Evangeline stumbled to a halt once she saw the inside of the gym. It was like a cave that had been expanded and stabilized for the purposes of the gym, without losing any of the natural wonder. A waterfall in the back led to a pool of water that no doubt drained underground into the sea. The caverns inside were high, leaving plenty of room inside for a gym… or in this case, for a rock climbing wall. A series of rock climbing walls, one on top of the other in some imitation of a tower. (She’d know, Johto was famous for towers.)

“He is so lucky I’m not afraid of heights instead of bugs,” she muttered, hands on her hips as she looked up.

Nearby, a man coughed to smother his laughter. She looked at him, and he gave her a shrug. “Gym Leaders,” he said as if that summed it up. And in a way, it did, and made this seem relatively normal as a result. She still made a face at him and walked over to see what all she needed. He helped slip a safety harness in white and grey over her hips (though she buckled herself), and slipped a white helmet on her head while she put her hat in her bag. “Do you know how to climb?” he asked, gesturing to the wall.

“It was part of trainer certification, though it wasn’t nearly this much of it,” she assured him, eyeing the long series of walls with unease. “Please tell me there are break-spots?”

“Of course,” he said with a grin. “You might have to battle on them, but there are plenty of breaks with water and benches to catch your breath at. We’re not completely insane. Grant got a little enthusiastic, but he’s also a fitness nut. We had to remind him what normal people are capable of.”

“Trainers are normal people?” she asked with an innocent flutter of her eyelashes. That got her a spark of laughter, and with a grin, she set the harness on the line and started her first climb. Like the helper had promised, there were ledges for her to stop at, whole paths even, and helpful mats that indicated where to jump down and unclip from the wall and move somewhere else in order to continue her advanced upward. Despite the seeming insanity of it, there was logic there. And it wasn’t that much different from the platforms and steps that were the inside of her father’s gym, so she really couldn’t complain too much. (And at least it wasn’t a spider’s web!)

The battles were against the techs who also served as trainers learning under Grant. Some were younger, like her, but there also a few of the hiking types who probably were around as much for the caves as they were the Pokemon battles. Kakashi, with a little help from Haruka, took care of them without breaking a sweat. Although, Evangeline wished she could say the same. She felt like she had to be dripping with it by the time she reached the top, sitting down on the ledge with a whoosh of breath at finally reaching the platform. A bottle of sports drink tapped her shoulder, and she took it with gratitude to sip it. “You do this every day?” she asked in disbelief as Grant sat down next to her.

“Most days,” he corrected her with a sheepish shrug. This close, she saw that this eyes were actually a clear, crystal blue. Interesting. He was twisting the cap to her drink around his fingers as if fidgeting. “Though I prefer if I’m climbing outside. But sometimes I have bike races, like today. Sometimes Viola calls up and I get be hassled into pictures for the day, for some reason I barely understand.”

“Been there…” she muttered, turning to look over the cavern pool and falls.

Grant snorted in amusement. “Yeah, Viola’s a character.” He looked up towards the cavern ceilings, where pitons held lights that shown down on his gym, carefully wired to case the least damage as possible and yet still be aesthetically pleasing. Additional steel beams insured that the roof was stable and not likely going to come crashing down on their heads. “As long as I can spend time with my Pokemon, I call it a good day,” he continued.

She smiled softly into her drink, feeling a bond with this gym leader that she hadn’t really felt with anyone else aside from Professor Sycamore since she reached Kalos. “Smart way to view your time, I only wish more people looked at life that way,” she said, and stood up. “Come on, let’s get to the battle.”

He smirked, offering her the bottle cap. “Not too tired?”

She took it from him, finding a smidge of bravery to tap him on the tip of the nose with it. “I don’t climb mountains every day, but you could say Gym battles are in my blood,” she said with sly smile.

The expression seemed to surprise Grant, who blinked and flushed before backing off to his side of the field. “Right. Amaura, let’s show her what we’ve got!” he called out, throwing out a Pokeball. His Amaura was a little bigger than Etienne, female, and full of confidence.

“Kagura, you’re up,” she said, releasing the Honedge. The Ghost-Type twisted in the air, singular eye blinking as she took in her opponent.

For once, the battle was a challenge. Grant didn’t just expect to blow past her defenses despite her type advantages, and he was smart with what he did. She ended up pulling back Kagura for Hikari to finish the fight against the Amaura. Grant grinned and tried to press his advantage with Tyrunt. Evangeline considered it a good head’s up for Xavier’s capabilities if he ever got the fossil turned around. She didn’t bother with games, sending in Kakashi to wrap it up.

Grant tucked his hands into his pocket as the battle ended. “Well, that was…” He shook his head and laughed, reaching out to take her hand. “One of the best battles I’ve had in a while!”

She grinned, accepting his hand. “Agreed,” she said. “I hope my Etienne gets to the same level as your Amaura. He’s still going through some growing pains.”

Ducking his head a little, Grant managed a sheepish smile. “Yeah, she gets enthusiastic.”

“Will you have to retire her soon for a new one? I know the fossils must make that difficult…” she asked curiously.

But then Grant looked at her oddly. “You know that Gym Leaders trade out Pokemon to maintain difficult?” he asked in disbelief. “Most people assume these are my personal team.”

Evangeline bit her lower lip. Oh damn. Damn, damn, damn. She got too comfortable, and a lifetime of knowledge on how to run a gym had slipped out. “I just assumed… I mean, Gym Leaders are professional battlers, you’d be able to outstrip someone who was just starting out if you didn’t try to maintain levels along the journey, right?” she asked, her voice weak.

“That’s the logic of it,” he agreed, his eyebrows still raised. “The League sets those across all the regions.” He snapped his fingers. “Oh, speaking of the League, you’ll be wanting your badge to prove your victory here in Cyllage.” Out of his multitude of cargo pockets, he pulled out the badge, pausing and flushing. “I know it isn’t the prettiest in the region. I redesigned it, but there are limits to the changes you can make.”

Accepting the badge, she twisted it around. “I mean, I can tell where I got it from,” she said honestly. “It reminds me of rock climbing, and of the beaches here at the same time. It isn’t as literal as Viola’s… But I think that’s a good thing.” It was a little more modern art, a little more classic. Plus, not going to give her nightmares.

Judging by his smile, Grant appreciated the praise for what it was. “If you want to climb down, I won’t stop you, but there is a skid path down, if you’d rather,” he said, pointing towards the other side of the platform than she climbed up. “It’s an easier trip, but watch out, its fast even going at a walk.”

She raised her brows at him. “You tried to ride your bike down it, didn’t you?”

He shrugged. “I was bored, and it was raining outside. Gotta keep the other Trainers jumping.”

Shaking her head, she laughed. “Take care of yourself, Grant,” she scolded, waving over her shoulder as she headed towards the skid path so she could head out.

Grant raised his hand to wave back, trailing to a stop as she disappeared from sight. “You too…” he murmured, his eyes lingering. Such a little mystery, that Evangeline. He recognized her pictures as Viola’s latest obsession, and he knew the media were trying to create a buzz around her. But they might have mislabeled her, too eager to cast her as the unknown talent. He wondered if maybe he ought to give Sycamore a call… Nah. Shaking his head, he smiled at the air. It’d be more fun to find out on his own.


NaNo 18, Day 4: Cyllage City and Bike Drama

The surprises for the day weren’t done once Evangeline put on her normal clothes and continued down the beach-road along the coast. There were other trainers itching for a battle, and two of her Pokemon just waiting for a chance to evolve. She wasn’t sure if Ella was jealous at how quickly her fellow original members were evolving or if she just ran for it. Either way, her sleek new form ran in excited circles around Evangeline’s ankles.

Ella (Linoone)

The second was more a surprise. She had just finished a battle with a fisherman, and Hikari spun around her flower thoughtfully. Evangeline watched, letting the little fairy do what it needed. Finally, she hugged it close, and immediately burst into white light. Startled, Evangeline ran through the clingy sand to reach her side, just as the petals of her flower spun to break it up.

Hikari (Floette)

She beamed up at Evangeline, spinning her flower like Evangeline remembered spinning parasols when she was a child. Laughing, she clapped her hands and offered Hikari a hug in congratulations.

Cyllage City was built on various levels, and rather than the dirty or cobble roads of the other places she’d been so far, they had hard pavement that was better for tires. Most of the houses were residential, though she did find a clothing boutique that she poked her head in. The shop girl was able to give her directions to the Pokemon Center, thankfully, and Evangeline checked in with Nurse Joy for a check up. Her team was grateful for the chance to rest, especially as she gossiped with some of the locals. The city’s gym was Rock centric, so she was happy Haruka and Hikari had evolved. They would be needed as back-up for Kakashi. Kagura and Etienne insisted on coming, and she was keeping Cerise nearby until the little Vivilion had a chance to learn some more about battling.

Once she was set for her upcoming Gym battle, Evangeline started to circle around the town again to explore. Everyone was friendly, at least, though there were so. many. bikes. She found out why as she spotted a store front with wheels on the store front and a bike sign. So that’s where the outlet was in Kalos. Debating for a minute, she decided to at least go in and see how close she was to being able to afford a bike.

Or at least, that was the plan until the owner behind the counter spotted her. “Oh, oh, oh! Welcome, welcome!” he said eagerly leaning over the counter. “Come here, please, Miss Evangeline!”

He knew her on sight. Not good.

Reluctantly, she walked over to the counter, holding tight to her bag strap. “How do you know my name?” she asked in confusion.

Flipping open the newspaper on the counter, he pointed to an article about the photo expo of an up and coming trainer by Viola, written by Alexa. They’d interviewed Sycamore, who thankfully kept his mouth shut about her parents and as the only one who knew, she was safe on that front. Still, it was enough to make her whimper in embarrassment.

“They find the VR video you made with your Frogadier and have been running it too,” he added with a grin. “You’ve got a lot of people interested in Pokemon journeys again, and the younger kids are really looking up to you.” He folded the paper decisively. “Which is why I have something special, just for you.”

“What…?” she asked weakly, following him as he walked over to a corner of the store. The most popular colors for bikes were green and yellow, though she saw a couple of other colors tossed in there. Most were all-terrain models, though there were a couple of speed types and extreme mountain riding too.

He paused by a pink all-around bike, the exact same shade that Evangeline favored. “This is for you,” he said, holding up a hand before she could argue. “And in return, I want you to tell everyone where you got it if you are asked in an interview how you get around. Consider it an endorsement.”

“I-I-I… I don’t know what to say,” she stammered, holding her hands over her heart. Oh, this was bad. So bad. “It’s a beautiful bike, sir–”

“Custom color,” he said with a wide smile. “And I’ve had three different girls asking for it since I got it in and put it on display in hopes you would walk in here. Without even mentioning your name.”

So just by traveling with it, she’d get him business. Reassuring, since she was going to be avoiding journalists like the plague now, at least until she finished her badge collecting. “I’m just a Pokemon trainer!” she tried to argue, refusing to stomp her foot. Her nanny used to whack her on top of the head with a dictionary if she stomped her foot, helping break the childish habit, but sometimes, she was so tempted. This wasn’t what she wanted!

“You’re a girl Trainer,” he argued back. “We don’t see nearly enough of those making their rounds between the gyms, no matter how much pushing the government is doing in the schools. They tend to stick close to home, their parents too scared to let them go out into the world. Well, you are proving that they can and be just fine. I’ve decided to help drive it home. Maybe it’ll get my own daughters out to discover a bond with Pokemon.”

Great, now she was being used as an example. She sighed, realizing she was not going to win this argument. “Just… Spread the word that I don’t want the help?” she begged. “Pokemon Centers are one thing, but this is more than I feel comfortable accepting.”

He laughed. “That, I can agree to. I don’t think anyone was quite as eager as I was, so you should be safe.”

Oh thank God. She breathed out and held out her hands. “Alright, I’ll take the bike.” He grinned and unlocked it from the stand, letting her wheel it out. She sighed as she looked down at it. “I am not telling Aunt Aya about this,” she muttered. Evangelin would make up some sort of contest and winning the bike first.

She’d ridden a little back in Johto, so with a little practice, she was able to go up the bike paths that lined the cliff. The going was different from the smooth streets of Violet City, but she managed. She did blink and skid to a stop when an unfamiliar male came running up from another path on foot.

“Hey!” he said, waving. His dark skin had a healthy glow to it, and his dark curls were twisted and rolled with a collections of stones. He wore rock climbing gear in functional greys with orange accents. “If you’re here for the bike race, I’m afraid you’re too late.” He paused and looked over her bike in question. “Nice ride, by the way. Custom paint?”

She flushed, not wanting to answer that. Apparently he hadn’t been poking around in his own city’s bike store.

“The race is over, I won first place,” he factually told her, resting his hand on his hip. “I feel bad that you missed it.”

“Please don’t, please,” she asked, cringing a little. “I actually only just got this bike, to speed up my traveling between towns. I’m looking for the local Gym.”

“Oh!” He laughed and rubbed the back of his head. “That would be me. Or, my Gym, I guess. Name’s Grant, and I’m the Leader for Cyllage City.”

“I’m Evangeline,” she introduced her self with a nod of her head, since he didn’t hold out his hand for her to shake.

“How about I walk with you up to the Gym?” he offered. “I can get in place while you are facing off against the trainers who work with me.”

She swung off of her bike to show her agreement, walking it next to her as she came to stand beside him with a smile. He cleared his throat and started walking down the path. “So, your accent isn’t native to coastal Kalos,” he said, a question disguised as a statement.

Evangeline bit her lower lip and said quietly, “My great-aunt and I had just moved to Vaniville when Professor Sycamore handed out starters to the latest class. I got roped in with them, since I was already registered.”

“Just moved? From where?” he asked.

She shrugged. “A lot of bouncing around,” she said evasively. Which was true. Before they were in Vaniville, they were on the boats. And before the boats, she spent roughly three-quarters of her time at one parent’s location, the other quarter…usually bouncing between the academy, her mother’s actual house, and her grandfather’s house. She rarely set foot in the Fuschia City Gym anymore.

He smirked. “A little mystery. I like that.” He paused outside of an impressive doorway literally cut into the cliff face. “Here we go, the Cyllage City Gym.” He gave her a mock salute with two-fingers. “I’ll see you inside.”

She grinned at him. “All the way at the top.” He ducked through the doors, and after she got her new bike taken care of, she followed him in, eager to lay claim to her second badge.


NaNo 18, Day 3: A Father’s Love

“Evangeline!” he greeted her, his voice more enthusiastic than his expression–but then, her father’s stern expression was nearly legendary. Overly serious by far, she could see a lot more of herself in him than her mother. But there was a softness there, affection for his only child, that had been present all her life outside of Gym battles when he had to be scary. “I wasn’t expecting a call from you and Aya for a couple of more days. Are you settled already?”

She winced a little. “Um, about that.” She ran her hands over her braid in nerves. “The nearby professor got word of me being here. Professor Sycamore. He, um, decided he could lump me in with the latest trainer class he was giving starters out to.”

His only visible eyebrow raised, and she could only tell because of how well she knew him that he was shocked. “So you have already started your journey?” he asked.

Evangeline nodded slowly. “Pretty much right away,” she admitted. “My starter is a Froakie, his name is Kakashi. Or, was. He’s already evolved.”

Falkner tilted his head. “I’m not familiar with that one, so not a Flying type in any evolution,” he said, his tone deceptively bland.

“No, Water,” she said, and quickly added. “Henri is the flyer, a Fletchinder.”

That smoothed his expression over, making her want to sigh in relief. “At least you have one,” he said, with a nod. “Your Maiko is doing well here, by the way.” Her heart swelled at the mention of the Pidgey-turned-Pidgeotto she had trained under her father’s guidance as a child. “I’m considering using her for Gym Battles, if you are okay with it. My current is ready to evolve, and she’s the best Pidgeotto in the Gym right now.”

“Of course,” Evangeline agreed. “I’d be honored.” Oh! Scrambling, she grabbed the case she’d brought with her from her room. “Speaking of Gyms, I faced the first one here, at Santalune City,” she said, and held up her case, letting him see her only badge so far. “I’ll be heading towards Cyllage City for my second in the morning.”

“Good work!” he complimented with a soft smile, making her sit up straighter in pride. But then he tilted his head like one of his Hoothoot. “Is that a beetle…?”

She whined, wilting at the reminder so her head rested on the table in front of the computer.

“Oh, my poor chick,” he said with a chuckle, though he turned serious again. “At least if you had stayed here in Johto, I could have talked to Bugsy for you.”

“I don’t want special favors,” she complained, voice muffled by the wood of the desk. “We talked about this, ad nauseam, before I left.”

“I know, but I promised the bird keepers I would ask their ‘hime’ if she was ready to come home yet,” he said. She snorted at him. If they were asking that, he must be talking about her as much as he talked Flying philosophy. “Evangeline,” he scolded.

Right, right, act like a lady. Sighing, she straightened up to pout at him. “I’m doing just fine here,” she muttered. “And I like that it’s different. New Pokemon, new places, new challenges. No one who knows who I am just by looking at me.”

Her father gave a slow nod. “I won’t pretend to understand,” he admitted at least. “I never had the desire to leave here, and just wanted to improve the Gym. But your grandfather Walker did, and it was quite some time before he settled here as the Gym Leader. Take your time, Evangeline, and follow your heart. It’ll lead you to your intended roost, just like it did him.”

“Yes, Father,” she promised and glanced at the clock. “I had better get to bed and let you get to work. I’ll call you in a couple of days?”

He nodded and added, “Make sure you call your mother sometime too. Or let Aya handle her, which ever you think is best.”

“Considering Aunt Aya was her idea, I’m tempted to just let them talk,” she muttered, but nodded in agreement before saying good-bye and hanging up. Neither of them were the type to casually mention their love for each other, but both knew it.

Evangeline sighed and went to go find a space in her own bed for her, between the cuddlers that made up her group of Pokemon. She’d call Aunt Aya in Cyllage to give her an update for her mother. Her father was too right, it would be easier for her to let Aya handle the communications back to their home regions as much as she could. If her mother wanted to talk to her, Aya could tell her that way.

*****

The aquarium’s collection was impressive. It made Evangeline wish she had a fishing rod. Of course, as she walked down the beach path, she found that desire was waylaid by the sight of the waves crashing up on the sand. She understood why Nurse Joy had pushed at her to consider taking some time to enjoy it. There was a small area that seemed intended for tourists, or at least those who might not have worn their bathing suit for their journey to the coast.

She let her Pokemon out as she struggled to get her hair up in a ponytail and out of the way. Kakashi gave a whoop and was off to the waves before she could stop him, Ella right on his tail. Shaking her head, she straightened the ruffle at the top of her one-piece swim suit–it formed the straps that sat just off of her shoulders, tying with a chord in the middle, and not exposing any cleavage but just highlighting her collarbones. It was in her preferred aqua blue, with white and pink flowers and navy leaves for the print.

Glancing around at the ever-so-fashionable other swimmers, never had Evangeline been more happy that Aunt Aya had insisted on a shopping trip before they even boarded the boat to Kalos. She hadn’t even owned a swimsuit before, and would have looked awkward in either her ninja gear or her hakama skirts trying to wade into the water. She already felt odd since she was so simple compared to high French fashion. But it worked for her, and she was going to be happy.

Kakashi and Ella were joined by Chiko, who seemed to be enjoying snapping at the spray with her larger-mouth and the splashing at the others with her hands. She didn’t even try to convince Haruka, figuring that salt wouldn’t be good for him, and he seemed content to guard her bag. Cerise stayed with him rather than risking getting carried away with the waves, being so small. Felix seemed torn between avoiding Cerise and avoiding the water, and settled for sitting away from the other two and far from the waves. One of the handful of stands that rented out equipment included beach balls. Evangeline was more than happy to purchase one for those in the waves to bounce back and forth.

Of course, keeping control of the ball was something else entirely. One wrong hit by Ella sent it crashing into a nearby girl who was splashing around herself. “Hey!” she shouted, spinning around and indignant. Her blonde hair was easily as long as Evangeline’s, but perfectly straight and cut in fashionable layers, contrasting with the tan of her skin. Her pink halter bikini exposed a lot more skin than her one modest one-piece, and it made Evangeline self-conscious.

But she wasn’t going to let her Pokemon get yelled at. “Sorry, it was an accident,” she said, stepping forward and folding her hands in front of her to give an apologetic bow. “We’ll move further down the beach and be more careful.”

“We?” the swimmer looked over and saw Evangeline’s team. “Oh, a trainer! You can apologize with a battle. My Pokemon will get me vengeance.”

“It was just a ball,” Evangeline protested, but didn’t try and argue. She just gestured for her own team to gather around. The swimmer released a Psyduck, and she barely refrained from groaning. At least she knew how to handle them. “Haruka, you’re on!” she called out. The Budew waddled over, his bud opening and closing as he faced off. Cerise came over to watch, which Evangeline only thought could do the Spewa good.

At least until the Wingull came out. Cerise squeaked at the sight of the bird, trying to hide behind Evangeline’s leg. Haruka quaked a little too, but Evangeline stood firm. “You can do this, Haruka!” she promised. “Just keep up your attacks!” Both of her littlest Pokemon looked up at her. The Grass-Type puffed up, and he set his mouth in a firm line. He faced down the dual type with a fierceness that filled Evangeline with pride in him. So when he burst into white light at the end of the battle, she wasn’t surprised.

Haruka (Roselia)

What did surprise her as Cerise inched forward to watch was Cerise copying him.

Her breath caught in her chest, and she looked between both of them. Haruka finished first, shaking his new hands and then raising them up in happiness. Then he saw Cerise and quickly came running over as her wings flicked off the light with a gust.

Cerise (Vivilion)

Purple wings. Evangeline felt like she could collapse in relief. Apparently they had moved into a new region for wing patterns for Vivilion. She smiled softly as Haruka and Cerise danced together in excitement for their new forms, the others clapping and cheering. The swimmer sulked and tossed her some coins, which she went to go put in her bag.

She looked up just in time to see Felix approaching. Evangeline tensed, watching the Charmeleon pause behind Cerise. The new Vivilion’s wings fluttered anxiously. But Felix held up his clawed hands, delicately taking her much smaller paws in his. He gave them a little shake, ducked his head, and then went to walk next to the bag to sit again.

Evangeline grabbed him by the shoulders, hugging him close. “That’s my boy,” she whispered to him, making him flush before she ran to join the celebrations.


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)


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