Tag Archives: Haruka

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.

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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 18, Day 1: Cue Training Montage and an Unwelcome Surprise

Where to start was…a little overwhelming. When she’d first started this journey, she’d been able to bring a new Pokemon up to match the rest of the team pretty easily. But with a new Gym on the horizon, not only did she have to get her old team up to snuff, but she had to get five new Pokemon to their level to.

Evangeline decided the best thing she could do was break it up like her old situation as much as she could. Picking one of the new Pokemon at random, she built a supporting team of more experienced battlers around them. Then once the new friend was up to challenges on the same level as the older members, she could switch out one of the old guard for someone else. Kakashi grumbled next to her, leaning his head against her shoulder. “This looks like a lot of work,” he complained. “Nap instead?”

She shrugged that shoulder to jostle him. “No, no naps,” she scolded teasingly. “I know this down time hasn’t been necessarily restful, but we need to get going again.” It wasn’t just Evangeline who needed a chance to grieve the lost of her Vivilion, Cho, but the entire group. She was determined to ease them back into their journey, though.

“So, setting up a picnic spot?” Kakashi guessed. “Like you did outside of Santalune?”

But Evangeline shook her head. “No. We rushed down that last route so fast, I’m sure there are trainers who are upset that they didn’t get a chance to battle with us. We’re going to back track, taking on the trainers and wild Pokemon we missed last time.” She looked to him. “And I thought to go back to the river. The Pokemon are a little less…assertive, there, and that seems like a better way to ease the new ones into our style.”

He nodded slowly, crossing his arms. “Take it slow, if you need to,” he cautioned her. “We all understand, and would rather you be a little more protective than to lose someone else so quickly.”

“I will,” she promised, standing up. “Okay, let’s get the first team ready to go. I think I’ll keep Haruka with me regardless, he’s been a bit clingy lately.”

“Isn’t he technically a baby Pokemon?” Kakashi asked as they walked over to the computer.

Evangeline hummed. “Something like it, and I think his evolution is based off of how well cared for he’s feeling. Maybe that’s why he’s wanting to stay close to me. It can’t hurt to indulge him a little.”

So Kakashi, Haruka, Felix, Lars, Hikari, and Antoine came with her as the starting team. And the number of trainers she missed was a little staggering. That, or more had come out over the last couple of days. She couldn’t be sure which. Either way, her team gave it their all–even the newcomer Lars caught some of their excitement, even if he didn’t get as much action as Evangeline had hoped. But there was an infestation of Psyducks, and she wasn’t about to risk him against a Water-Type! (The cute little idiots sometimes pulled power moves at the weirdest timing.)

As a result of all the fighting, Evangeline was more than happy to flop down into a field of flowers. “Somehow, this wasn’t exactly how I planned for today to go…” she muttered. The blossoms fluttered around her, as if hearing her comments.

Wait, that was a lot more literal than she thought.

Sitting up, Evangeline blinked at the little heads poking out of the various flowers. “Oh, hello,” she said quietly to the group of Flabébé that surrounded her. “I’m sorry, did I disturb you?”

They giggled and spun around her a bit, shy but not aggressive. Tilting her head, Evangeline remembered that this was around the area that she caught her own Flabébé, one that she’d barely had a chance to meet. She reached for her bag, hitting the appropriate switch and letting Hikari out.

She blinked up at Evangeline in surprise. “Another battle?” she asked in her little voice, the petals of her flower wilting a little in exhaustion.

That made Evangeline feel better about her decision. “No, I think it’s some old friends of yours, but they seem shy.” She said, pointing to the surrounding group of Fairy types.

Hikari floated up to look and squeaked in happiness. She was off in the group before Evangeline could blink. Smiling, Evangeline also released a certain Frogadier.  Before Kakashi had a chance to disrupt the reunion, she flopped back down and pulled him to lie down beside her. “Okay, now you can nap,” she promised. “Just until we all have a chance to catch our breath. Then training time.”

He grinned, snuggling up close so he could lie his chin on her stomach. “Right, as much training as you want,” he promised. He grunted in complaint when she reached to let Haruka out too, but the little bud was all to happy to snuggle on the other side of her like a toddler for his own nap in the sunshine.

When they woke up, Evangeline lived up to her promise and ran her team through their paces. The nearby daycare had a computer that they let her use to shuffle the team along as they got tired, so she could get the others out to run their own paces. (Or in Emi’s case, give Evangeline a chance to learn how to curb her enthusiasm.) One of the workers suggested a nearby berry farm when Evangeline inquired if they had any sort of cafe or if she needed to go back to Ambrette or Camphier Town to visit their Pokemon Centers.

The path to the farm was a little narrow, so she wasn’t surprised she missed it before with Tierno and Trevor urging her to pick up the pace. The more common trees slowly gave way to an orderly grove, the trees short and squat. With numerous bug types leaping from bush to bush, sniffing the blooms…and eating any berry ripe enough to be plucked.

A little girl, her hair in pigtails, chased after them with a net. “Get away, get away!” she begged, waving the net wildly. “You’ll ruin today’s harvest!”

Evangeline just couldn’t sit there and wait. “Henri, come on out!” she called, throwing out his Pokeball. The Fletchinder came out with ease, and at the sight of the joint Fire and Bird type, the collection of bugs scattered. The girl stopped her running and spotted Evangeline. She waved and pointed to the base of a tree where another net was lying down. Seeing no harm in joining the fun, Evangeline grabbed it and joined Henri in his dash around the trees, swinging the frame to gentle rattle branches and shake out hiding Pokemon.

Including a Spewpa, who fell right into the net with a fearful squeal.

She acted first, thought later. “Oh shhh, sweetie,” she crooned, reaching in to pull the little thing into her arms. “It’s okay, shhh, it’s okay.”

Big ochre eyes looked up at her, and it sniffled. “S-sorry,” it–no, she, Evangeline had enough experience to know that tone was feminine for this species–whispered. “I’m just so hungry…”

It was like a fist squeezed around her heart. She tried to tell herself no. The rest of her team was going to be absolutely furious, see this little one as a replacement. Even if the personality was completely different. All they’d see was the same as their friend once was.

Henri fluttered over, perching where he could crane his head to see what she was holding. “You aren’t going to let her go hungry, are you?” he asked. “I mean, the others looked like gluttons. This one looks kinda scrawny…”

“No, no of course not,” she said quickly. “We’ll… We’ll share our lunch with her, how about that?”

He nodded, pressing his head against her cheek with a coo. She patted him gently so as not to accidentally burn herself, and carried her burden over to a nearby picnic table. There was a chalkboard set up near it, with a list of different prices for lunches (human and Pokemon friendly), and the nearby building had a sliding window that was open where she guessed she’d get orders.

“Hey!” the little girl said, running up to her while still carrying her net. “Wait right there, okay?”

Blinking, Evangeline could only nod in agreement. She took a seat nearby, Henri joining her and tickling the Spewpa, earning a series of quiet giggles. Well someone was bonding with the wild Pokemon. She eyed him in concern, but before she could argue, the little girl was back, carrying a huge basket that was probably used for the berry harvests, a cloth covering over it.

“Here,” she said briskly as she set it down. “Those Bug-types have been ruining the harvests for days now. If it wasn’t for you and your Fletchinder, we’d never have gotten them to go away. I talked to my grandparents, and they agreed.” She pulled back the cloth covering, revealing a veritable hoard of berry hand pies. “These are for you and your Pokemon. They keep pretty well for a couple of days even, so you don’t have to worry about them going bad if it takes you a while to go through them.”

Startled, Evangeline started to shake her head. “Really, you don’t have to try and feed us, we just saw you needed help–”

“And so has at least four other trainers who just turn around and leave, not realizing the bug population is too high so rather than helping pollinate, they are just being a menace,” the little girl argued, crossing her arms. “And I recognize you from Camphier Town gossip. Tell me you don’t have a Snorlax you are trying to keep fed. I dare you.”

Henri chirped in laughter, reaching in to grab a pie with his beak. “She has you there,” he said, almost swallowing it whole. “I know if we made a dent in Theo’s stomach, his handlers and the nurses would appreciate it.”

Evangeline groaned. She was out-numbered. “You and the others eat before Theo,” was her only condition as she pointed at Henri in a mock-threatening manner. “He can empty out the basket.”

He gave her a mock salute with one wing…and pulled out another pie. Rather than eating it himself, he reached over to dangle it in front of the Spewpa. Due to her lack of hands, it was obvious she appreciated the help in getting her own meal. Evangeline bit the inside of her cheek to keep from chiding him, getting her own pie to nibble on.

Only after the Spewpa was fed did Henri lean his head against her thigh, making his eyes as big as possible. “Can we keep her?” he whispered.

She stared down at him. “She isn’t a replacement for Cho.”

Ruffling his feathers, he rapidly shook his head. “Of course not! We… We can never replace her. But this little one needs us. Cho would never forgive us for leaving her behind, you know? Under that diva mask, she really did care.”

Sighing, Evangeline looked at the Spewpa who was starting to dose off in her arms. “Fine,” she agreed in a whisper. “But you get to tell the others.”

He winced, but nodded in agreement.

Cerise (Spewpa)


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 15: Parterre Way and Professor Sycamore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evangeline flushed even darker. “Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

Haruka (Budew)

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

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

Cho (Vivilion)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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