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.
“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.