Tag Archives: Shauna

NaNo 17, Day 20 & 21: SNORLAX!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A loud, rumbling sound echoed down the road.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evangeline grimaced at the very idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Fireworks?” Evangeline repeated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kagura (Honedge)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Felix (Charmander)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NaNo 17, Day 15: Parterre Way and Professor Sycamore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evangeline flushed even darker. “Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

Haruka (Budew)

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

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

Cho (Vivilion)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NaNo 17, Day 7: Santalune Forest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cho (Scatterbug)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NaNo 17, Day 6: Route 2 and Enter Ella!

Backtracking across Route 1 and the south end of Aquacorde Town, Evangeline didn’t linger. Down the steps, she found that while the town didn’t have a Pokemon center, it did have a strong shipment of Potions. So much so they gave away a free sample on the streets!  She stocked up while she was here, and also found a woman who offered to heal any of her Pokemon. Evangeline made a note of where she was, in case the road ahead ended up being more dangerous than expected. Another store held some basic Pokeballs, and she grabbed five of those too, hoping that would be enough to get her through to the next town with more selection.

Across the bridge, brown coble stones and brick gave way to grass again. Route 2 was noted as the Avance Trail. She waded through some of the taller grass, only to freeze at a rustle. Evangeline reached for Kakashi’s ball, waiting to see if she was right as she walked carefully.

A burbling cry came from the patch of grass, and a brown-striped Pokemon zipped out. Her Pokedex chimed, registering the new Pokemon. “Zigzagoon,” a female, robotic voice said from the speaker. “The Tiny Raccoon Pokemon. It walks in zigzag fashion. It’s good at finding items in the grass and even in the ground.”

“Alright, Kakashi, let’s go,” Evangeline said encouragingly, throwing her Froakie’s Pokeball.

It snapped open, allowing Kakashi to emerge out of light. He hopped a couple of times, eager to go. “Just tell me what to do!” he agreed.

The following battle was quick and dirty. The raccoon-type had speed on Kakashi, but Evangeline encouraged him to be patient and be steady in his attacks. In the end, they whittled the Zigzagoon’s health down, and she pulled out a new Pokeball, throwing it towards their opponent. It snapped open, red light gathering the Zigzagoon in to trap it inside. The ball wiggled from side to side, the wild Pokemon fighting its new home.

Kakashi waited, tense. Evangeline kept her eyes on the ball, moving her bangs out of her eyes with her hand. It wiggled once… twice… three times… And then the red button in the middle turned to white, and the wiggling stopped.

Squealing in delight, Evangeline did a fist-pump and then darted over to sweep up the new ball. Kakashi hopped behind her, cheering. Her first time capturing a wild Pokemon, and with her new partner! She gave Kakashi a hug. “Good job,” she told him. “Now, how about we meet our new buddy?” He nodded, and she pushed the button to let the Pokemon back out.

The Zigzagoon shook itself, resettling its fur. “Wow, you’re good,” it muttered, the high pitch of her tone leading Evangeline quickly to the conclusion that it was a female. “So now what?”

“Well, now you’re a part of the team, if you want,” Evangeline said, holding her hand out. “Otherwise, I’ll let you go so you can go be with your friends here.”

Tilting her head, the Pokemon took her seriously, and then butted her head into the palm of the new Trainer’s head. “I’ll come along,” she agreed.

“Good, I’m glad,” Evangeline said, patting her head and smoothing down the fur. With a giggle, the tiny raccoon rolled over and wiggled, tickled but enjoying the attention. “Hmm, how about Ella for a name?”

“I like it,” she said, hopping up. “Now, let’s get going!”

Laughing, Evangeline stood up. “Alright, alright. Onward we go!” she said, holding out the Pokeballs for both Pokemon. Her hands shook a little as she clipped them back into place on her bag. She could hardly believe it was going so well already!

Ella (Zigzagoon)

She didn’t run into any other Pokemon in the tall grass, and breathed out softly as she returned to the road. Her walk, though, was interrupted by a familiar head of pigtails. “Shauna?” she said, wondering how she had caught up with the other trainer.

Whipping around, the girl waved. “Oh hi Ladybird! Come learn how to catch Pokemon with me!”

“Huh?” Evangeline managed to get out, but it was too late. Shauna reached out and snagged her wrist, pulling her along to the next patch of tall grass. Xavier was already waist-high in it, looking around carefully.

Shauna bounced next to Evangline, finally letting go of her wrist. If only because she raised her now free hand as if to hide the fact she was talking. “Xavier’s mom and dad are amazing Trainers. That’s why he knows so much about catching Pokemon and battling,” she said in a very loud whisper.

Loud enough that Xavier heard them. He looked up and shook his head with a rueful smile. “Well… Mom and Dad may be good, but that has nothing to do with me,” he said. But Evangeline heard the pride in his voice, the confidence. She wrinkled her nose at him. He looked towards the right, hearing or seeing something they didn’t. “Okay, now watch carefully you two,” he ordered.

“But…” Evangeline tried to protest, and finally just blew her hair out of her eye for a moment in exasperation when she realized they weren’t listening to her at all.

A Bunnelby hopped up to Xavier, who immediately released… a Fletchling? Huh, looks like Xavier had already been busy. Evangeline rested her chin on the palm of her hand, elbow balanced on her other wrist, as she tried to remain patient and polite during a tutorial she didn’t need. It was nice of them, she guessed, to assume that she needed the help. Maybe because it was obvious Shauna did need the extra instruction that the felt Evangeline did…

“Wow, the Pokemon went inside the Pokeball?!” the pigtailed girl shouted once Xavier had finished his demonstration.

Evangeline adjusted her hand so it hid her face so her expression wouldn’t hurt Shauna’s feelings.

“Shauna…” Xavier sighed, sounding exactly like what Evangline felt. “What do you think your Chespin is inside of right now?” He waded back out of the grass, ruffling the top of her hair as she pouted. “Here, I’ll share some Pokeballs with the two of you.”

“Pokeballs!” Shauna squealed, instantly perked up.

Evangeline was shocked to have a full box of ten pushed into her hands too. “You don’t have to do this,” she told him quietly.

“Consider it a house warming gift,” he said back quietly. She gave him a shy smile back, warming to him a little. And then he ruined it. “Besides, you’re new around here. Isn’t it the job of the more experienced trainer to help out?”

She bit the inside of her lip to stop herself from snapping at him.

Thankfully, Shauna’s innocence to the rescue. “Do you think I can catch Pokemon with them too?” she asked, holding the collection of unused devices like they were sacred.

“Sure. You can catch the Pokemon around here just be throwing a Pokeball near them,” Xavier said with a lazy wave of his hand.

Evangeline shook her head, disagreeing. They were just starting out, but the wild Pokemon were no slouches. Unless it was a very weak Pokemon, she doubted any of them would stay in a Pokeball without anything on their parts being done. He’d even said so during his little tutorial, hadn’t he? She was pretty sure… But then again, Shauna was the one who ran straight into a battle as soon as she got her starter Pokemon, so maybe she’d figure it out for herself.

“Okay. If I find a cute Pokemon, I’ll throw lots of Pokeballs at it, and then we’ll become friends!” Shauna said with a determined nod.

Evangeline rolled her eyes upward for a moment, and let Xavier handle her. “When you catch a wild Pokemon, it makes your Pokemon stronger, too,” was what he left it at. “Good luck!” He waved his hand and went on ahead. Shauna waved at Evangeline too and took off after him.

“It’s not like we’re going to part ways,” Evangeline muttered. The road was pretty straightforward. She decided it wasn’t worth running after them, and it let her have some peace and quiet. There was more tall grass to wade through, stirring up an aggressive Pidgey who took off after Kakashi sprayed Bubbles at it.

A sign outside of a tight grouping of trees with only one road into it warned her that she was about to enter Santalune Forest. She checked the map and saw that it was the only way through, and the paths tended to twist around. Warned, she started towards the entrance.

Another trainer was lingering outside, and flashed his ID at her as soon as they locked eyes. “When two trainers’ eyes meet, a Pokemon battle must begin!” he said with authority. “My name is Austin, and my Pokemon and I are going to defeat you.”

Evangeline took a step back, “Alright,” she agreed to the battle, letting Kakashi out of his Pokeball. He released a Zigzagoon, one that seemed slightly stronger and faster than Ella. It still didn’t stand a chance, not with Evangeline’s strategy of consistency and patience.

“You should’ve told me you were that strong!” Austin protested, reluctantly forking over the reward for his defeat.

“You didn’t exactly give me a chance,” Evangeline pointed out as she pocketed the change. She scooped up Kakashi to carry him away from the battle sight with a wave good-bye to Austin.

He looked up at her. “People really don’t give you a chance to say much,” he pointed out.

She shrugged back at him. “I get used to it. Hey, how about we let Ella handle any of the wild Pokemon we run into in here, give you a break and give her a chance to train up?”

“I could use a breather,” he agreed. “Besides, if anything in there is a Grass type…”

“You’re sunk,” she said knowingly. “So Ella is in charge in the forest this time. Do you want to chill in your Pokeball or out here?”

“Inside, please,” he said, and she put him away so he could rest like he wanted. Then she adjusted her bag’s strap. Her strongest Pokemon was officially a bad choice at least until she cleared the trees. Ella and her were going to have a crash course in bonding. All Evangeline could hope was that the Bugs didn’t swarm her. She might run back to Aquacorde Town screaming.

(As a note: I missed Days 4 and 5 on purpose. I had an all-nighter event this weekend, and I knew I was going to be too busy/exhausted to do much. Even today, I only wanted to get through Route 2.)

NaNo 17, Day 3: First Battles and Letters Home

“Alright Kakashi, let’s try a Bubble attack,” Evangeline said, looking between the two Pokemon. This should be easy…

“Right!” The frog Pokemon took a deep breath, and blew out. The stream of bubbles wasn’t the fastest thing ever, but they still forced the Fennekin back a few steps with a cringe.

“Li’l Fen, use Tail Whip!” Shauna shouted, throwing her fist up in the air.

Evangeline rested her hand on her hip as she watched Kakashi stumble back away from the so-called attack. Really? Battle-debut with that move? She grinned. “Kakashi, use Bubble again!” she said confidently. If she judged things just right, she knew what would happen.

With a hop to get air, Kakashi blew out another stream of bubbles, and this time, the Fennekin had no where to back away from it. It gave a distressed yip, falling to its stomach and refusing to get back up. At this obvious sound of defeat, Kakashi ran up to Evangeline. She knelt down to greet him, immediately pulling him into a hug. “Good job,” she congratulated, even as Shauna called her Fennekin back to its Pokeball once sure it was going to be okay, at least till they could get to a Pokemon Center.

“Hey!” Shauna protested, catching their attention as she stomped her foot and pouted. “I wasn’t done watching my cute Li’l Fenn when you beat me!”

“Sorry?” Evangeline said, glancing down at Kakashi. He shook his head, and she agreeably pulled out his Pokeball so he could rest inside. Away from the incoming drama fest.

“It’s all right…” Shauna said, kicking the ground. “I guess I just got too excited…” She held out her hand, containing some of the coins they spent around her. It was custom that after a battle, the loser offered some reward to the winner.

“No hard feelings?” Evangeline checked as she accepted the coins, slipping them into her back pocket for now.

Shauna shook her head hard enough that her pigtails slapped around. “No hard feelings. You were amazing, Ladybird!” she assured with a sheepish shrug. “I’ll let you go, say hi to your mom for me!” She waved and ran back in the direction of the courtyard.

Sighing, Evangeline shook her head. “She’s not my mom,” she muttered, and turned to walk back down the Pathway towards Vaniville Town. It was just as peaceful as last time, and she still thought the gardens were pretty.

Vaniville was still the quaint little suburb it had seemed last night, with villagers talking among each other. She hoped Aunt Aya hadn’t been walking on the garden walls again… Back at the school, it didn’t raise any eyebrows, but here? The gossips would have a hay-day.

Nidoqueen was thankfully asleep in the front garden, so Evangeline made sure to be extra-quiet on her way back inside. She leaned against the front door with a relieved sigh as soon as she was safely indoors. Which of course, immediately got her great-aunt’s attention. “So, what did you and the neighbor kids end up doing?” she asked, from the couch.

“Not a whole lot,” Evangeline hedged, walking towards her nervously.

Unfortunately, Aunt Aya’s eyes were still sharp, even at her age. She stood up immediately opposite of Evangeline, taking her in from head to toe, before focusing on the new addition to her bag’s strap. “Wait one second! Is that a Pokeball you have there?”

Sheepish, Evangeline managed a quick nod, clutching at her bag strap. She knew what everyone else would be immediately asking. What type of Pokemon was it, whose footsteps was she following in, etc.

But not Aunt Aya. There was a reason she was Evangeline’s favorite relative. “You got your very own Pokemon!” she squealed in excitement, pulling the teenager into a tight hug. “You’re a Pokemon trainer now, too. Congratulations!”

“Thanks, Aunt Aya,” Evangeline said quietly, returning the hug with all her might.

“You are more than welcome,” Aunt Aya said warmly, pulling back. “Now, can I meet your new friend?”

Nodding, Evangeline clicked the button on the Pokeball, opening the lid so the beam of light could flash out. Kakashi landed on the throw pillow with a thump, and while he looked startled at first, he immediately relaxed. “Oooh, I like this spot…” he said sleepily.

“Don’t fall asleep now, Kakashi,” Evangeline teased. “You need to meet my great-aunt.”

“Huh?” Blinking, he rubbed at his eyes and sat up. “I thought we were taking a letter to your mom?”

Evangeline shook her head. “No, the letter is for Aunt Aya.”

“Huh? A letter for me?” Aunt Aya pointed at herself as she blinked in surprise. Evangeline reached into her bag and pulled it out to hand to her great-aunt. Aunt Aya spun it around in her hands, looking at it from every angle before opening it. “It says it’s from somebody named Sycamore. What could it be?” Her eyes closed to half-mast, and she hid her lower face behind the envelope. “A love letter?”

“Aunt Aya!” Evangeline whined in embarrassment, covering her own face with her hands. Kakashi started to laugh.

“Wow, what lovely handwriting…” Aunt Aya wasn’t deterred in the slightest, holding the envelope up to her forehead with a dramatic pose. It also revealed the mischevious smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

Evangeline whacked at her arm, making the smile turn to full-on laughter. “Aunt Aya, it’s from the local professor!” she said, fighting her own laughter to try and be serious. “He meant to contact Mom or Dad, but since everyone is assuming you are my mother…”

“Ha, like you’re old enough to be mine,” Aunt Aya teased, but at least stopped carrying on like it was a letter from an admirer. “No, poor Professor Sycamore didn’t know he’d have to call all the way to Violet City or Fuchsia City to reach your parents. Let’s see what he has to say, hm? Since I am their stand-in.”

“Only because Mom is paranoid,” Evangeline muttered, flopping down to sit next to Kakashi.

Without even needing to look away from the letter, Aunt Aya gave her a whack to the head. She also ignored Evangeline’s hiss of pain, talking to herself as she read, “Hmm, what do we have here? A request… Oh, I see!”

Folding the letter with a firm nod, Aunt Aya took a pose that Evangeline was far too familiar with. Groaning, she pulled the brim of her hat down. “Oh boy, here we go…” she mumbled. “Brace yourself.”

Kakashi tilted his head. “Huh? What do you–”

“Evangeline!” Aunt Aya barked, fire in her eyes. “We’ve barely unpacked, and all kinds of exciting things are happening! Okay, let’s get you and Kakashi ready for your journey!” She ran to her room, and immediately started yelling out as she found things in what she considered a standard kit.

“Come on upstairs to my room so I can pack for real,” she whispered at Kakashi. He grinned and hopped behind her upstairs.

It was much less work to pack, and more effort to assure her aunt that no one carried throwing stars in Kalos, or many other things that Aunt Aya tried to push on her. Sometimes, it was so obvious that her great-aunt never left the school for a journey of her own. Her sleeping bag attached to the bottom of her shoulder bag, and everything else was in easy access.

“Here you are, Evangeline,” Aunt Aya brought one last little gift upstairs. Before Evangeline could protest, she added, “Your mom specifically asked that I made sure you had it. She packed it herself!”

That pulled her up short. Curious, Evangeline opened the white plastic case, and managed a small smile at the carefully organized innards. She felt oddly touched by her mom’s thoughtfulness. This time, she packed Aunt Aya’s offering in the medicine pocket of her bag. “There, that should be it…” she said, zipping up the various pockets.

“My, what an unexpected turn of events,” Aunt Aya said with a sigh, looking around the room. It wasn’t the most decorated of places, with them just having moved, but there were still little signs that it belonged to the teenager. Pictures and posters, mostly. “I can hardly believe it,” she continued when Evangeline didn’t say anything. “You made friends. You met your Pokemon. And now you get to take a lap around Kalos.”

“It’s everything I’d hoped to do here,” Evangeline admitted, and then laughed a little. “If faster than what I planned. I can’t wait for Dad to call to check in next week and you tell him I’m already gone.”

“I can,” Aunt Aya drawled. “Oh and don’t forget this, I picked it up for you at the store earlier.” She held up a paper version of a map. Evangeline took it and unfolded it, revealing to be a complete map of the Kalos region. She reflexively looked to the wall, where scattered among the wall hangings was a world map, as well as up-close maps of both the Johto and Kanto regions. Yes, she definitely needed the update.

Aunt Aya wasn’t done yet though. She put her hands on Evangeline’s shoulders, forcing her to look up at her. Her eyes were completely serious, almost contradicting the gentle smile on her ruby lips. “I don’t know what this Professor Sycamore wants you to see on your trip, but taking a journey with your Pokemon is really a wonderful experience. Enjoy it, okay?”

Swallowing past the lump in her throat, Evangeline managed a quiet nod. Her aunt pulled her in for one last hug, and then gave her a push towards the stairs. With a wave over her shoulder, Evangeline took off down them, hearing Kakashi catch up with her and jump up on to her shoulders, paws on her hat so he could leverage himself a view up. Rather than call him down, she just laughed her way out the door.

They barely made it three strides, and big, dusky blue arms were picking her up in a hug. “Evangeline!” Nidoqueen sobbed, giving her a bear hug as she swung the human around. “I can’t believe you are leaving on your first journey!”

“I’m going to miss you too,” Evangeline said awkwardly, patting the arm holding her tight. “Down, please.”

“Hahaha, what a card!” Aya laughed from the doorway. Reluctantly, Nidoqueen set the human teenager down, wiping away the big tears at the corner of her eyes. Aya walked up to her Pokemon, patting her on the elbow. “I guess Nidoqueen wanted to give you a big send off for your journey. Well, she has known you since you were born, after all.”

Evangeline pulled the frazzled Kakashi into her arms. “It’s alright,” she said with a smile, giving her aunt a bow in the style of their homelands. She then turned and ran out the gate.

Regardless of propriety, Aunt Aya followed her out the gate to stand in the street and yell after her. “Good luck, Evangeline. Go for broke, and don’t worry! You’ll have Pokemon by your side, so you’ll be fine!”

NaNo 17, Day 2: Route 1 and Aquacorde Town

The route between Vaniville Town and Aquacorde Town–appropriately named Vaniville Pathway–was little more than a short garden path. Evangeline took a moment to appreciate the green bushes and trees as she sipped her coffee. It was good for Aunt Aya’s sake that the next town was easy to get to, so her shopping wouldn’t be a complete nightmare.

The blue slate roofs of the buildings quickly towered over the trees again, the gravel of the walkway giving way to paved stones. Evangeline looked to either side as she walked, trying to figure out where exactly she was supposed to be going. The buildings had just given way to some sort of courtyard when someone called out, “Hey, Evangeline! This way, over here!”

Startled, she looked to her left and scanned the tables. Finally, she spotted the group of four already gathered around two tables they had pushed together. Shauna was leaning over the far-end, waving her hand in excitement. “We were just talking about you!” she explained as Evangeline walked over. “C’mon, have a seat.”

That wasn’t unnerving as all get out. “Thank you,” she said quietly instead of what she was thinking, taking the empty seat next to Xavier.

He grinned at her. “This is the meeting place,” he explained. “Here, let me introduce you.” Xavier gestured to the other two boys at the table. “Everyone this is Evangline.”

The huskier boy immediately nodded his head, an awed expression on his face. “Wow, Shauna’s description was spot on,” he said.

Evangeline ducked her head down to hide her flush. Xavier laughed. “That’s Tierno,” he said. “He’s got some serious dance moves.” He gestured to the smaller, redheaded boy. “And this is Trevor. He never misses a single question on his tests, but he’s a little shy…”

“All right, nice to meet you,” Tierno said, holding his hand out. Evangline agreeably took it for a brief shake. When they broke hands, he crossed his arms, looking upwards as if contemplating something. “You know, it’d feel like we’re a closer crew if we call each other by nicknames.” He looked at Evangeline, opening one eye and then closing it to open the other.

She blinked back at him, not really getting it.

“Can I call you E-kins?” he asked unexpectedly.

She opened her mouth to protest–she didn’t care if they called her by a nickname, but preferably not one that sounded like a snake Pokemon–but Shauna beat her to it.

“What? No way!” she said, thumping the table so hard it rattled as she stood up. “She’s a Li’l E, for sure!”

Evangeline made a face. Okay, that might actually be worse. Trevor looked at her from across the table, biting his lip to keep from laughing. She raised her coffee cup back up to her lips to hide her expression so she wouldn’t risk offending anybody on her first day.

“What do you think, Trevor?” Shauna immediately tried to draw the battle lines.

He whipped backwards, arms pinwheeling for a second as he tried to get his bearings. “What?” he squeaked. “You want me to nickname someone I just met?!” He slouched forward, looking up the table from under his bangs. “Shauna, you shouldn’t put people on the spot like this.”

Both Tierno and Shauna looked at him expectantly, neither backing down.

“Well…” Trevor finally dithered, glancing at Evangeline again. She covertly took a sip of her coffee. Nope, she wasn’t coming to his rescue. “How about something low key? Maybe something like… Lady E?”

Okay, that one wasn’t half-bad. She gave him a tilt of her cup, acknowledging that he at least had better taste than Shauna and Tierno. He gave a relieved sigh and a shy smile.

Xavier coughed into his fist, and Evangeline braced herself for more bad nicknames. She was pleasantly surprised when he suggested, “Why don’t you decide what we call you?”

Setting down her cup at last now that she no longer needed the shield, she looked up at the sky, resting her chin on the palm of her hand. “Well…” she said slowly, trying to gather her thoughts. “Trevor’s nickname wasn’t so bad, but rather than E, how about…” She thought of her father, and grinned. “Bird. Ladybird.”

“Ladybird?” Shauna repeated, tilting her head. “Isn’t that a bug?”

Evangeline felt a reflexive shudder, and looked at Shauna with wide eyes. “Huh?” she said, confused.

“Yeah, the one with red wings and black spots,” she said.

Oh! A ladybug! That’s right, that’s how the French translated. Evangeline waved her hand, not minding that so much. She even liked the ladybug Pokemon chain. “Those are good luck, so not so bad bugs,” she said.

The others around the table laughed, and she relaxed a little, glad that they were getting along so well. “Good luck, I think that fits you perfectly,” Shauna said, doing a one-eighty on her opinion with that little fact. “I’m sure we’re gonna be great friends, so I’ll call you that, too!”

The boys all nodded, and it seemed to be settled.

“Hey, can we see the Pokemon now?” Shauna kept the reins of the conversation firmly. “I want to meet my new partner soon!”

Tierno nodded. “I know, right? It was such a cool feeling when Trevs and I met our Pokemon. Hope you feel the same way we did.” He reached down beside him, and pulled out a purple and gold canister. He put it on the table and lifted the lid. Evangeline leaned forward, counting three Pokeballs.

It was all she had time for. White light quickly exploded, and the three Pokemon hopped out on to the table. On the left was a brown mammal-type, with a green leaf-hat, in the middle was a yellow and orange fox-type, and on the right was a blue and white frog-type.

“Hi, hi, hi!” the brown Pokemon greeted, bounding forward with a wave, and immediately knocking into the fox.

“Hey, watch it!” the fox yipped back, jumping back so that the brown one fell forward, the fox jumping up on top of it.

Tierno laughed. “The one on his belly now is a Chespin, a Grass type, and the one on top of him is a Fennekin, a Fire type. And this little guy…” He reached down to scratch the frog on top of his head. “…is a Froakie, a Water type.” He looked between Shauna, Xavier, and Evangeline, before grinning broadly. “And because she’s the new kid, Ladybird gets to pick hers first!”

Not expecting that, Evangeline could only stare dumbly at the three Pokemon for a long second. Why her first? She was the new kid! But she quickly noticed that the Froakie seemed to be a little more withdrawn than the others. Sorta like her. “Hey,” she said quietly, holding out her hand. “My name’s Evangeline.”

He blinked his big yellow eyes at her, hopping a little closer. “Hi,” he said, putting his hand in hers. “Are you going to be my trainer? I promise to work hard! Though, I tend to take a lot of naps…”

Evangeline smiled at him. “I don’t like waking up either,” she confided. “So what should I call you?” He tilted his head, and she tilted hers the same way, thinking. “How about… Kakashi?”

“Isn’t that a Kanto or Johto style name?” Xavier asked the other three, who just shrugged at him.

For his part, the Froakie seemed to consider it very seriously, and then nodded. “I like it,” he agreed, and hopped over to settle into her lap.

Laughing, Evangeline cuddled him close and accepted his Pokeball from Tierno. “Alright then, that makes us partners,” she told him, patting his head and earning a sort of trilling croak from deep in his throat.

Kakashi (Froakie)

“Wow, I didn’t know you were one of the people who understands Pokemon, Ladybird!” Shauna said. “Xavier can too, that’s so exciting to know two people who can.”

“The statistics are in favor of it,” Trevor pointed out in a mumble. “Your turn to pick a partner, Shauna.”

“Hmm…” she seemed to muse, but it didn’t last for long. Snapping her fingers, she tilted her head to the side. “Okay! My partner is Fennekin!”

“Me? Oh goodie!” the fox yipped, skipping over the table to her.

Shauna was quick to cuddle her new Pokemon to her cheek. “Wow, we go together great! The two of us are just way too cute!” she drew out the words in a baby-talking drawl that made Evangeline look down at Kakashi and make another face. He quickly put his paws over his mouth to fight down his giggles while Shauna set about figuring out a nickname for her new Pokemon: Li’l Fen.

“Aw shucks, that means I’m last,” the Chespin pouted.

Xavier didn’t seem put off. He grinned down at his new Pokemon. “Nice to meet you, Chespin. I’m Xavier. Because of you, I can be a real Pokemon trainer, so thanks.”

“Hehehe, wow, no need to thank me, I’m glad to be your new partner!” Chespin got up to his feet and ran to wave his hands up at his new trainer. “So what’s my new nickname, huh?”

“How about… Augustus, Gus for short,” Xavier suggested, to much cheering by the Grass Pokemon.

“Uh, pardon me,” Trevor interrupted reluctantly. “But I have something for you from the professor as well. Something that will help you understand Pokemon on a much deeper level-”

“Trevor, just hand over the Pokedexes,” Xavier interrupted. “We all know the speech about them.”

The redhead pouted, but brought out three of the red Pokedex devices. Evangeline juggled Kakashi and the device so she could pull out her trainer ID and slide it into the specific slot for it in the cover.

“The professor said I had to give you the full instructions!” Trevor protested, and looked upwards for a second as if trying to recall the words from a book. “Uh, so you see… The Pokedex I just gave you is a high-tech device that automatically records the Pokemon you encounter.” He nodded, sure of himself again. “The reason you get one is because the professor wants us to go on a journey with our Pokemon and complete the Pokedex.” Once out of the spiel, he turned a little shy again. “To put it another way, it’s an important mission from the professor. I’m sure of it!”

“Oh lighten up, Trevs. You’re way too serious sometimes. They just want more data to confirm information they already know,” Tierno dismissed Trevor’s enthusiastic recitation. He leaned across the table. “Um, Ladybird? Please take this with you too. It’s a letter from the professor. He said you should give it to your mom.”

Evangeline refrained from snorting. Her mother was months away by boat, there was no way she was getting a letter very quickly. Aunt Aya was probably who the professor meant…or at least, who was going to get it. That was the only reason why Evangeline went along with her parents’ insistence on her great-aunt coming with her at all. She accepted the letter gracefully, and put it in a pocket of her bag. Tierno had letters for Shauna’s and Xavier’s parents too.

Once the mail was handed out, the bigger boy clapped his hands together. “All right, we’re done with our errand for the professor. I guess Trevs and I will go look for Pokemon. Let’s go, Trevs!” Tierno stood up and began to walk off. Trevor waited until Tierno walked behind his chair before he gave a bashful nod of his head and hurried after his friend.

Shaking his head, Xavier focused his attention on Evangeline for a moment. “In Kalos, kids are chosen to carry a Pokedex and go on an adventure. But you need to give that letter to your mom before you go.”

“I can take a hint,” she said, sticking her tongue out at the playfully. “Alright, I’ll head back real quick then.” She stood up and gave them both a brief wave before walking back to the main thoroughfare. Kakashi seemed content to be carried, and she wasn’t in any hurry to put him back in his Pokeball unless he wanted in it.

They had just barely left the gathering area when she heard footsteps behind her. Frowning, Evangeline wondered if she forgot something, and turned to look. Shauna came running up. “Ladybird, wait,” she called out. The brunette caught up with her quickly, and took an assertive stance. “You’re gonna be my opponent in my Pokemon-battling debut!”

“I am?” Evangeline said in confusion.

Shauna spun around in what was probably supposed to be a dramatic fashion–someone had obviously been watching a lot of Trainer battles on TV. “Okay, Li’l Fen! It’s our first battle!” she shouted. “Let’s win it with style!” She threw out her one and only active Pokeball, releasing her Fennekin again.

Looking down at Kakashi. Evangeline sighed. “Alright, Kakashi, I guess it’s time for our first battle. You ready?”

“Ready!” he confirmed, hopping down and standing opposite the Fire-type.

“Begin!” both girls shouted at the same time.

NaNo 17, Day 1: Vaniville Town

There were worse ways to wake up in the morning than her great-aunt’s Venomoth tackling her.

Admittedly, Evangeline couldn’t think of them right now, but she was sure there were. Moaning, she pulled the covers back over her head, still reeling from the time change. They’d taken boats to get to the Kalos region, meaning the differences shouldn’t be hitting her this hard…except she was not a morning person. “I’m up, I’m up,” she managed to croak out before she got tackled again.

Venomoth trilled before taking its leave for downstairs. Yawning, Evangeline untangled her blankets and swung her legs over the edge of the bed, digging around with her toes until she found her slippers from where they had slid around after she kicked them off last night. The pink terry cloth helped her toes stay warm so her wake-up wouldn’t get even ruder.

She tugged her shorts down while walking over to the PC that her dad had bought her before she left. Tapping the screen, she saw the PDF he had sent her listing a bunch of trainer tips. Not that he’d ever gone on a journey, too responsible by half, but he’d listened to others and gathered these for her. It was a thoughtful gift. She closed down the PC, this time properly, and walked towards the shelves in the corner of this new move.

And in the process, walked past a mirror. She made a face at her reflection. Her hair was trying to escape the braid due to her restless sleep, and as she pushed up the strap of her tank, she sighed. As comfy as her pajamas were, worn-thin cotton and fleece did not present quite the image she thought a new trainer should, especially her first day in a new town. She strove for feminine but practical, and pajamas were not it.

Grabbing her shower things, she scuttled off to get ready and change her clothes and get her hair to behave, ideally before the morning passed her by.

Roughly forty-five minutes later, she took another look in the mirror, much happier with her appearance. Aqua shorts, her favorite white sleeveless turtleneck, and thigh high white socks with wide pink stripes across the top made up her favorite outfit. Her hair was neat now, even if it still didn’t know the meaning of the word cooperation—the violet ends flipped out rebelliously at her hips. Sighing, she blew out her last puff of air, but her bangs resolutely hovered over her left eye, the ends tickling her chin. She blamed both of her parents, who had their own hair issues.

She padded her way downstairs of the new rental house, yawning. The shower hadn’t woken her up as much as she had hoped. Her feet had barely touched the floor boards, though, and her great-aunt was on her.

“Morning, Evangeline!” Aunt Aya said, tossing a strand of graying hair out of her face. The forest green of its youth was barely visible in all the rest, and she’d adopted a bun rather than her old ponytail. It was still odd to see her in more normal clothes than the traditional Kanto garb that she’d preferred for as long as Evangeline had known her. “Or well, I think it’s still morning…”

Rolling her eyes, Evangline walked around her towards the breakfast counter. A plate of food was already fixed, including a cup of coffee. Rather than try and cut into the fried egg, she used the fork to drag it on to the toast to start munching while standing up. In between bites, she stole sips of the black brew with a happy sigh.

Snickering, Aunt Aya joined her, leaning her hip against the cabinets. She was far too used to her great-niece’s quiet after the trip here, especially while she was still waking up. “You sure slept well. All rested up from the move?” Aunt Aya asked.

Evangeline managed a quick nod, feeling bashful under her aunt’s gaze.

“It’s about time you got going,” Aya noted, glancing at the clock. Evangeline did the same and winced. It was later than she necessarily wanted to be just getting around. As if sensing what she was thinking, Aya reached into the cabinet for a to-go coffee cup. “Why don’t you step out and say hello to the neighbors?” she suggested. “Oh, and don’t wake Nidoqueen up, okay?” The heaviest of the household Pokemon had helped with moving all the heavy boxes last night, and was bound to be asleep still somewhere.

“Okay,” Evangeline agreed. Aunt Aya grinned, and reached over to tug at Evangeline’s bangs before handing her mug and turning towards the sink full of dirty dishes. Wrinkling her nose once Aya’s back was turned, Evangeline worked on eating her toast while she got ready to go out. Her hat, bag, and shoes were waiting for her at the front door, and she managed to slip them all into place without losing the egg on her toast or spilling her coffee. “I’ll be back later!” she called out, stuffing the breakfast back in her mouth to open the door.

Only to blink at the two people waiting for her outside. A boy and a girl, both about her age. Flushing in embarrassment, she finished stepping out and shut the door behind her. Taking her breakfast out of her mouth, she mumbled out a quick, “Hello.”

The boy smiled at her, relaxed and effortlessly charming. “Hey! Welcome to Vaniville Town. My name is Xavier. I’m your new neighbor.” His blonde hair was slightly curly, tucked into his cap, and he looked dressed for a journey of his own.

“And I’m Shauna! Great to meet you,” the girl quickly butted in, her bangs and pigtails even more rebellious than the swath of hair flipping out down Evangline’s back. “Guess what,” Shauna continued. “We’ve come to get you!”

Startled, Evangeline looked between them.

“The esteemed Professor Sycamore lives here in the Kalos region,” Xavier took over explaining. “I was told he has a request for five kids, including us.” He crossed his arms, looking Evangeline up and down. “But I’m a little surprised he knows who you are. You did just move to Vaniville after all. I wouldn’t have known you were here at all if my parents hadn’t mentioned to me that there was a new kid next door, not just your mom.”

Evangeline bit her lower lip, not wanting to admit that it was her aunt that she was living with here, not her parents. Even if these new potential friends might understand, it would defeat the purpose of her moving to a different region. “My name is Evangeline,” she introduced herself with a quick bow. It might not be the custom of the Kalos region, but old habits died hard. Straightening up, she tilted her head to the side. “Did the professor mention what he wanted?”

Both of them shook their heads. “Nah, but he’ll probably tell us as soon as we meet back up with him,” Xavier said. “It’s probably the same speech the professors give to all trainers who start out. Do you have your license and everything?”

She nodded, reaching into her bag and pulling out the card she had just gotten yesterday while Aunt Aya and her Pokemon had been unloading the car and unpacking the house. It listed her basic information, and included a profile picture. While it wouldn’t let her drive a car, it did show that she was a licensed trainer and allowed to attempt Gym battles and travel on her own without parental guidance after the necessary safety courses.

“Huh, wonder why yours is purple…” Xavier mumbled, flipping it in his hands before handing it back to her.

Shauna rolled her eyes. “Anyway,” she said pointedly. “We’ll wait for you in the next town over. And you know what?!” She almost bounced in her excitement. “We’re going to get…” she paused dramatically. “A Pokemon!” She threw her hands up in the air, jumping and kicking her heels up behind her.

Evangline felt like Shauna’s excitement was contagious. She smiled at the notion, even though this wouldn’t be her first Pokemon. That would be the Pidgey she had raised under her father’s guidance, but had left behind out of a sense of fair play.

Shauna, apparently, was done with talking. She skipped towards the gate, laughing and coaxing, “C’mon! Hurry, let’s go!”

“Alright, alright, hold your Ponyta!” Xavier said, laughing as well as he chased her out the gate and into the main road.

Startled, Evangeline followed them to the gate of her house, watching as they ran around the corner and out the main gates of the town. She shook her head, looking out on the main thoroughfare that she had barely gotten a chance to see the night before.

“Leaving already, Evangeline?” a groggy voice asked from nearby.

Whipping around, she saw that Nidoqueen had been sunbathing in the small front garden in an area that Aunt Aya must have set up just for her, with a sand bed and the ball that she knew Nidoqueen liked to bounce around. “Hey, you’re supposed to be sleeping,” Evangeline scolded, walking over to her. It wasn’t strange to her to understand the Pokemon–she was one of the one in five people who could understand what a Pokemon was saying, an anomaly that was still being studied by various professors.

Nidoqueen shook her head, sitting up with a yawn. “I didn’t want to miss you leaving,” she said, blinking her wide eyes open at her. “Besides, the small one was very loud.”

Evangeline ducked her head to hide her smile. “I’m not going on my big-journey just yet,” she reassured the Pokemon, reaching up to stroke her horn–careful of the poison that lingered in the tip. “Just to go see what’s going on with this professor. I’ll be back to say good-bye for real.”

“Good, you’d better,” the Pokemon grumbled, moving to lie back down again. “I haven’t been watching out for you this long only to have you scamper off like a Nidoran fresh out of the nest.”

Laughing, Evangeline kissed her on the cheek. “Go back to sleep, cranky pants. See you later!” She waved over her shoulder as she walked down the path in the same direction as the other two had gone. Her first Pokemon as a real trainer! She wondered what kind of Pokemon the Kalos region offered as starters…