Tag Archives: HIkari

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 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 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…”