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.
“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.