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Written Story Unova Teen Mon Our Revolving World - An Illustrated White Version Storylocke

Thread Description
A how-to guide on understanding what it means to save somebody through firsthand experience by Ashilda. Or, Saint's personal playlist masquerading as a storylocke.

SaintsGarden

Rune Collector
Artist
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
1399
Caught
Jan 29, 2020
Messages
24
Location
Ecruteak City, Johto
Nature
Serious
Pronouns
No Pronouns
Pokémon Type
Ground, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Is actually named Eden, which is what this one likes making player character names vaguely thematically related to, hence 'Saint' and 'Garden'

Ashilda is fourteen years old, received her trainer's card more than two years ago, and hasn't stepped in a classroom in three. If you ask her, she's managed to cope just fine with her shut-in lifestyle. But learning that her closest, and only, friends are going to be leaving to travel the region for Dr. Juniper's Trainer Co-operative course in less than two weeks, Ashilda realizes that she needs to face the world again if she's going to stay by their sides.

  1. Player can only catch the first Pokémon encountered in each area. (Pinwheel clause is not in effect, because I didn’t know about it until way later.)
  2. If a player’s Pokémon faints, it must be released.
  3. Every caught Pokémon must be named.
  4. No duplicates – if the first Pokémon encountered is from a previously caught Pokémon’s evolution line, it cannot be caught.
  5. No team member’s level can surpass the next Gym Leader’s highest level Pokémon.
  6. Shinies can be caught, but not used in game.

Hello everyone ^__^ originally, I had plans to put this nuzlocke into comic form, but the more I wrote out a draft 'script', the more it felt like I was just going to be writing a picture book... so, I figured an illustrated storylocke would serve my purposes best. Don't quote me on this, but I thiiink we're looking at 30-40 chapters from where I am right now (with roughly 18 chapters outlined as of posting). If anyone's curious, I am still drawing a Platinum nuzlocke comic, but it's sort of been relegated to "second project" right now. You will also be able to read this storylocke at its tumblr mirror.
 
Last edited:

pinkshellos

Black Lives Matter !!
Artist
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
1220
Caught
Dec 23, 2019
Messages
237
Location
Hoenn Route 120
Nature
Calm
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Bug, Flying
Pokédex Entry
A timid Pokémon typically found in groups. The only thing that motivates her more than companionship is food.
That Snivy illustration is gorgeous! I can’t wait to see the first chapter!
 

SaintsGarden

Rune Collector
Artist
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
1399
Caught
Jan 29, 2020
Messages
24
Location
Ecruteak City, Johto
Nature
Serious
Pronouns
No Pronouns
Pokémon Type
Ground, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Is actually named Eden, which is what this one likes making player character names vaguely thematically related to, hence 'Saint' and 'Garden'
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
@pinkshellos Thank you! It feels good to say the first chapter is finally here

tumblr mirror


What is a hero’s role? How do you define it?

It’s been a very long time since humans have called one of their own a true hero. After watching over the eras that have passed between then and now, you may find that the definition of the role of a hero has appeared to change over time.

But if that’s the case, then what makes our literary heroes what they are? In reality, though people are constantly changing, many of our ideals stay the same. The defined role of a hero — or rather, the archetypal Hero you find in legend and folklore — rarely deviates from two crucial principles. They are neither inherently brave or extraordinary, nor are they necessarily tragic or romantic. Because the Hero is no more than a role that a character embodies to fulfill a goal; defined not by themselves but by the people around them, and the division that exists between people and their harbingers of change. In a less romantic sense, the principles of the Hero archetype can be defined by two fundamental characteristics;

1. Living separately (literally or figuratively) from the society that needs them, and arriving when that society is in need of some form of social change.

2. Being uniquely capable of a certain task, or having abilities that motivate those around them to contribute to a goal they are working towards/represent.

The figures we in Unova have come to call our Heroes, the Twin Heroes, are generally dated to have lived around…

—​

Saint stared at his computer screen for about a minute, hands hovering over the keys of his laptop. The blue light cut through the heavy darkness blanketing the room and illuminated the frustration present on his face.

‘… It sounds… unpolished,’ He muttered, ‘Ahh, I’ll have to fix it in the morning.’

Hanging his head in defeat, Saint closed the screen of his laptop. He did not pay any mind to the 4:43AM that blinked as if it was trying to make a point from his bedside table. Feeling sullen, or perhaps just tired, he dragged both his knees up from where he sat to rest his chin upon.

Despite having only returned home a few days ago, Saint could already feel the restlessness setting in. He hadn’t even unpacked all of his bags yet. A lack of diligence, maybe – or maybe out of desire not to settle in quite so fast. It wasn’t that Saint didn’t like his current dwellings, that wasn’t true at all. His aunt was thoroughly kind-hearted, and while his younger cousin was rather bad-tempered, he felt she’d come to view him as an older brother figure of sorts. He felt perfectly content where he was.

It was his head, he presumed, that was causing him problems. His head, and its boundless, constant, unpleasant running. At least when he was out doing field work, at least when he was spending hours in the rain and mud to find samples of loam to compare the environmental needs of various second-stage Grass types – his mind could not run. There is no time to have a thousand different thoughts to suffocate under when you’re trying to stay oh-so-still as to not startle and interrupt an interaction between two wild Abra. When you’re out tagging Staravia, there is no time for the trivialities of what-ifs and maybes.

But now, Saint was home.

He stared at the wall opposing him, as if asking it what to do next. Saint received no answer. Gathering himself, he decided to stand, and left the room.

Once he made it to the lower staircase, however, Saint found he wasn’t the only one awake at that hour. A hunched form was curled up on the bottom step, but it was clear from the tense, straight line of their shoulders that it was not just someone taking a rest in an unfortunate place.

‘Uhm, Hillie?’

Ashilda turned her head, looking up at her cousin. She squinted, trying to see past the shadows of early morning on the staircase and catch his face.

‘G’morning, Saint,’ She replied, ‘Sorry I wasn’t here to welcome you when you got back from Sinnoh.’

Saint huffed in amusement at her words, and stepped down the rest of the stairs with great care to avoid stepping on the blanket Ashilda had wrapped herself in, stopping to sit beside her.

‘You know I don’t mind that. It made me happier to hear that you and Aunt Emerys were going out for the weekend. And what about you? You don’t seem like you just woke up.’

Ashilda shrugged, ‘Can’t sleep very well, ‘s all.’

‘Hillie….’

‘Look, I’ll head to bed in a minute,’ Ashilda tried to sound firm, but she couldn’t silence her sigh, ‘I’m not staying up by choice.’

Saint considered the situation for as long as the moment would allow him. Ashilda would likely go to bed without further prompting, but that wouldn’t help Saint figure out what was keeping her up. Besides, not attending in person meant she had no school to worry about waking up early for, so….

‘Have Bel and Cheren been over lately?’ Saint asked.

‘Eh? No… not this week. I mean, their school’s on break, you know. So they don’t have anything to bring over for me.’ She explained it so reasonably, it almost sounded sensible.

‘Ashilda, it’s your break time too,’ Saint told her, ‘And they’re your friends. You could all go out and enjoy the holiday before your next semester together.’

Saint wondered if he had guessed the root of the issue correctly, judging by the way Ashilda turned her face away from him. But he didn’t want to push her too much, so he avoided saying anything more before she spoke again.

‘I… they don’t just come over to give me the handouts… but we all already hang out a lot because of it, so….’ Ashilda stopped, turning to look back at Saint, searching for understanding.

‘I’m not saying you have to because you’re friends,’ Saint told her. He paused, searching for the right words to convey what he wanted her to understand. ‘It’s just… ah. You don’t have to feel like you’re imposing on them by wanting to spend time with them more. It’s not like the school actually needs a fellow classmate to bring back assignments for out-of-class students; there are websites for that. They didn’t choose to help you get through the past three years out of obligation and only kinda like you.’


‘I –’ Ashilda tried to respond, but found herself getting stuck. ‘I guess.’

In the time that had passed since Saint sat down beside her, the sky outside had begun to lighten, though it was still not dawn yet. Even though he was still exhausted, Saint felt a little lighter himself. He and Ashilda continued to sit in silence.

‘… Why were you sitting out here, though?’ Saint couldn’t help but ask. He couldn’t help feeling like the staircase was an odd choice.

‘Ah? It’s dumb, but… in the window across the room,’ Ashilda lifted a hand out of her blanket, pointing towards the wide casement window opposing them, ‘You can see the sunrise in the morning. But there’s nowhere to sit to get a view of it except these last few steps of the stairs, that’s all.’

‘I see,’ He said. Given the time of year, the sun wouldn’t rise for another 2 hours.

Saint smiled gently at her, wondering how long she had been out here, planning to wait until she saw sunrise before going to sleep. Maybe he was setting a bad example right now.

‘Hey, Saint?’ Ashilda started, looking suddenly miserable and hesitant all at once, ‘Bel and Cheren are going to be starting the Trainer Co-op course with Dr. Juniper next semester.’

Oh, Saint thought, so this was the actual issue.

‘Yes, they are.’

‘I heard Dr. Juniper’s program is very new compared to the standardized Trainer Co-op course her dad runs, more of an Indigo League style approach. More involved. Not a lot of students per year, and they all have to be pre-licensed with trainer’s cards beforehand….’

‘Yes, that’s true.’

‘But mom thinks it’s better, she said, because you get guidance and peers on a year long journey, instead of spending the first half of the year in a classroom having to retake trainer’s school. Or having to apply to take a semester of school off, instead of having a full year of travelling count towards your graduation credit.’

‘Yes, I agree with Aunt Emerys.’

‘That means Dr. Juniper isn’t going to accept anymore applications, right? Especially not so late. She already has Bel and Cheren.’

‘Well, there’s always next year,’ Saint said, but he knew that’s not what Ashilda wanted. Looking at her face, which remained stony but looked clearly close to crying from his perspective, he sighed. ‘Ashilda, if you could go this year, would you?’

Ashilda sulked. ‘I… don’t know. Maybe?’

She really was bad-tempered, Saint mused.

‘Alright, since we’re at this point, then maybe you should know… when you didn’t join Bel and Cheren in filling out an application when they brought you one back in December, your mom contacted Dr. Juniper. I think,’ Saint continued to speak, despite Ashilda’s now bug-eyed stare on him, ‘Emerys had good instincts, and knew this would happen. Now, if you want, you could become a participant and attend the preparatory any time before the day the Co-op students leave, which is on the third. And I have no doubt that Bel and Cheren are going to come running in here after their first day of preparatory to tell you that you’re on the potential participants list.’

Ashilda looked struck by the news. Even though Saint respected his Aunt Emerys’ methods, he was sort of glad he ruined the surprise and was the only one who had to face the look of shock and horror that was currently on her face. He could take a couple guesses at what was bothering her the most, but he could only do anything about a few of them with his words.

Saint decided to tell her, ‘Before you say it, you’re not going to be stealing someone else’s place if you do this, or whatever else you’re worrying about. If you were never applied for it, then there’d only be two potential students for Dr. Juniper for your year instead of three. If you haven’t realized it already, it’s the nature of the course itself that leads to the amount of people who tend to end up taking it each year, not high amounts of competition.’

Ashilda made a face in response.

‘I just don’t want any of those ideas to factor in on your decision,’ Saint explained, ‘I want you to know that there’s nothing special about this door being open to you.’

‘Augh…’ Ashilda groaned, letting her gaze fall away from Saint and to the floor, ‘I thought you wanted me to go to sleep.’

‘You should still sleep,’ Saint agreed.

‘And what, have a refreshed point of view when I wake up at 3PM?’

‘Yes,’ Saint said, catching and completely ignoring the sarcasm, ‘Wouldn’t that be terrific.’

Ashilda took that moment to stand, keeping herself wrapped tightly in her blanket as she regained her balance against the wall. Saint did not move, allowing her to reorient herself. He did not expect her to turn around to look down at him, asking a final question.

‘Saint, if I go,’ Ashilda began, ‘Could you… come, too? As a guardian? Is that allowed?’

Sitting far below her and staring wide eyed, Saint saw Ashilda’s face as it was, barely visible by the pale light of a morning that had yet to break the horizon. He could tell her that a year was too long for an adult to accompany her on such short notice, he could tell her that she should take her trainer’s journey on her own. That she, shut off from the world, should learn how to be alone.

But, Saint didn’t want to tell her that.

‘If you go, and if you want me to, I’ll go with you,’ Saint said. He decided not to lie.

—​

‘Hilda!! When did you decide to do Trainer Co-op?!’ Bel yelled, already out of breath, as she slammed open Ashilda’s bedroom door. Sheets of paper were threatening to fall out of her arm, and Bel tried frantically to adjust the green fabric wrapped around her head with her other hand as she made her way over to where Cheren and Ashilda stood.

‘Bellanca…’ Cheren said, ‘You realize that technically, our first preparatory class is supposed to begin at 11, don’t you?’ The clock on the wall informed them that there was only a few minutes until 11AM. Bel looked embarrassed, but Ashilda could only stifle a snort.

‘Ehm… well… it’s fine I think! Besides, Dr. Juniper kinda sorta already knows us, and I already went and got these from her this morning, so she knows we’re not skipping or anything.’ Bel attempted to hold the paperwork she had up. Several pieces of paper fell to the floor.

Cheren and Ashilda gave Bel a mirrored questioning look.

‘They’re for Hilda’s family to fill out,’ Bel said, exasperated, ‘To grant your cousin guardianship while you guys travel and to list him as an official volunteer in Dr. Juniper’s system.’

‘Ehh….’ Ashilda said, picking up some of the fallen papers.

‘I’m sure we can leave those downstairs later for your mom, right, Ashilda?’ Cheren was trying, and failing, to mask his impatience. However, Ashilda couldn’t help but agree. Looking behind where Cheren stood to see a rectangular, unassuming little box sitting innocuously on her desk, she could feel something like excitement crawling up her spine.

Dr. Juniper had probably decided to send their starters to her house instead of waiting to present them at her laboratory just for the theatrics, Ashilda thought. Cheren was acting calm now, but he had also barged in Ashilda’s room all shouting and hysterics not even an hour ago, meaning they had likely both only found out soon after arriving to Dr. Juniper’s lab when they found out where their starters were, and who else was part of the program. Considering Saint was the one who informed Dr. Juniper and Emerys of Ashilda’s decision 6 days ago, one could only guess who’s idea the whole setup was.

‘Yes, yes, let’s get to it,’ Bel said, setting the paperwork she had brought on Ashilda’s bed. Conspicuously, she moved to stand between Cheren and Ashilda.

Cheren picked up the tiny note card Dr. Juniper had placed on the present box, and began to “read” it. ‘I’ve included… of each type… please settle between… yeah yeah, this is basically just common sense.’ Then he crumbled it up, and tossed it in the garbage.

‘I would’ve liked to actually read that,’ Ashilda said. Bel agreed.

‘Whatever,’ Cheren rolled his eyes, ‘Don’t you want to get to choosing your starter Pokémon already?’ Bel agreed again, but a bit more reluctantly. Admittedly, Ashilda agreed as well.

Each of them, after all, had been the type of kid growing up who idealized the professional trainer lifestyle. It had brought them together in primary school; back when Cheren was still a innocuous and semi-mute crybaby, and Bel was still an overbearing kid with volume control issues, and Ashilda was an outdoorsy girl who could talk to anyone, at the cost of tending to say the wrong thing and making few friends. They bought and shared trainer magazines, talked endlessly about hypothetical battles between regional stars, and passed the summers by playing in the water at their town’s local wharf. Before their junior secondary years had upended things, when they were convinced they would start their journey as a trainer after they had all turned 13, in their first year of senior secondary.

Bel and Cheren were 15 now, and Ashilda was soon to follow them in a few months. Ashilda wondered, if maybe they justifiably resented her for that a little bit, and secretly hoped not.

‘I think Hilda should get the first pick,’ Bel chimed in, ‘Since it was delivered to her house and all. How about it?’

‘I guess that’s fine in theory, but I want –’ Cheren could not finish his sentence, because Bel had delivered a swift elbow to his ribcage, silencing him indefinitely.

‘Um,’ Ashilda said, staring at the present box, ‘Okay?’

With as much delicacy as she could bring herself to have, Ashilda removed the lid.

There were three Pokéballs inside, each with a small card propped up against them, attached to their corresponding ball with a thematically appropriate sticker. Ashilda started by reading the one in the middle.

SNIVY - FEMALE - WON’T EAT SPICY FOOD!
ENJOYS SITTING IN THE SUN, AND IS NOT AFRAID TO
ATTACK THOSE WHO MOVE HER BASKING ROCK LOL​

Ashilda couldn’t help herself. Though she made sure to glance over the other two cards to see what those Pokémon were like, she was immediately endeared by the description of this one. She grabbed its ball, peeling off the leaf symbol sticker so she could pocket the card.

‘Do either of you guys mind if I choose this one...?’ Ashilda asked a bit late, turning to face Bel and Cheren. She tried to keep her smile down, just in case any of them had their heart set on Snivy.

‘Of course! I didn’t say that just so I could get mad at you after,’ Bel said. She seemed overjoyed for some reason Ashilda couldn’t understand, and even Cheren’s face seemed to have softened out of nowhere. Reaching out, Bel grabbed one of the remaining Pokéballs. ‘I think I’ll be choosing this Oshawott then.’

Cheren sighed melodramatically as he picked up the last remaining ball.

‘If I wasn’t aiming for a Fire type starter since I got my trainer’s card, I would be so mad at you guys right now, you would not believe.’

‘But you ended up with Tepig, so it’s fine, right?’ Ashilda asked without malice.

‘Yeah, besides, it’s not like your blabbing on for the past five hundred years about your future dream team’s type composition has at all influenced my decision to pick the Water type starter, Cheren.’

Ashilda stared at Bel. ‘Oh, I didn’t even think of doing that.’

Bel shrugged.

Cheren’s ears turned red at their words, but the only response he dignified them with was a huff and a roll of his eyes. Ashilda decided to let the two of them deal with whatever was going on with their side of their shared rivalry on their own, and unleashed her recently received Snivy from its ball. Seeing such a Pokémon in person, knowing that its species no longer lived in the wild, reignited a feeling Ashilda had almost forgotten. As it turned to stare at her, her breath caught.

Snivy were classified under the order Pseudosquamata, which Ashilda already knew. The Pokémon in front of Ashilda had a long thin body like other pseudo-snake Pokémon, but unlike those other scaly Pokémon, it had what appeared to be leaf-like structures shielding its body, and two limbs it could clearly stand on. Snivy actually had a total of four limbs, but the two resembling arms were entirely vestigial, of course. Its underside had none of the yellow-green, leafy shielding that covered the rest of its body, but instead had smooth white scales.

Unlike the drawing of a Snivy that Ashilda had seen in a textbook before, hers seemed to have some odd looking red-orange colouration on its leaf-like shielding, however. She assumed it was probably just natural genetic variation. While slightly more uncommon in Pokémon, it still happened, after all.

Her Snivy stared unblinkingly into Ashilda’s eyes as she continued to examine the Pokémon’s physical features.

‘You’re quite interesting, you know?’ Ashilda said in a soft tone to the Snivy, petting the top of its head with two of her fingers. The Snivy seemed to be content with her touch, and moved to crawl over the hand of its new trainer, as if welcoming her. Ashilda felt her body tense like a rope pulled taut as her new partner balanced its way precariously up her arm, relaxing only as it settled heavily around her neck and shoulders.

She felt elated.

‘... Anyway!’ Ashilda was immediately thrown out of the moment when Bel and Cheren picked up their conversation once more. ‘We should really get going. Even if the first day of preparatory is pointless for us as of now, we can’t just leave Dr. Juniper hanging.’

‘Yeah, but,’ Bel said, ‘What’s a few more minutes at this point, Cheren? Besides, Hilda’s already got her Snivy out of the ball! Come on, it’ll probably be quick anyway! We’ll go all at once, just for fun.’

Ashilda didn’t know what they were talking about.

‘Hrmm… I mean, a battle royale style first battle?’ Cheren considered it for a long moment, ‘I guess it would be a pretty good way to kick off our journey… as fellow trainers and rivals….’

… Nevermind, she had an idea of what they were talking about.

‘Uh, I don’t think we can battle in here, guys.’ Ashilda spoke up, finally acknowledging the conversation going on around her.

‘Hilda, we’re not gonna break anything! These little guys shouldn’t have any super destructive moves yet, right?’ Bel pleaded, and Ashilda could physically feel her mental fortitude wearing down. I mean, Ashilda thought traitorously, petting the relaxed creature around her shoulders, a Snivy can’t even manage to produce vines to attack their opponents with until they’ve gotten some battle experience, right? What’s the worst a Tepig could do? Or an Oshawott?

‘... I guess it’s fine if it’s just one,’ Ashilda said.

She reached around her head, removing the resting Snivy, and placed the intense-eyed creature down on the floor. She bent down, trying to meet it as its level.

Bel and Cheren both held out their Pokéballs, unleashing their respective starters. If she wasn’t preoccupied with the one right in front of her, Ashilda would be wondering how they felt about seeing their starter right in front of them for the first time.

‘Hey, we’re gonna have a battle now,’ Ashilda said to it, ‘I’m not worried about winning or anything like that, but let’s see what we can do.’ Ashilda felt a little silly, but she was being sincere. Her Snivy’s expression didn’t change. Of course, it wasn’t going to give her a reply But watching it slowly open and close its eyes at her, Ashilda could imagine that maybe, it was trying to reassure her that it’ll be fine. Ashilda stood.

Looking at their setup of starters, Ashilda’s first guess was that the others were likely planning to attack the Pokémon they had a type advantage against, and hope to take out their type disadvantage last, once they were in a weakened state. But considering the general ability of a still unbattled, raised-in-captivity starter Pokémon, none of them should be able to use type-based attacks yet. She made a decision.

‘... Alright?’ Bel said, full of nervous excitement.

‘So, should we start now?’ Cheren asked. Bel nodded at him. Cheren looked like he wanted to speak again, but he was beaten to the punch.

‘Snivy, use Tai– ah, use Leer on the opposing Tepig!’ Ashilda called out, taking the other two off guard. Her voice cracked a bit, but her intentions were immediately apparent. Neither Bel or Cheren were off balance for long, and began to call out their own moves.

  • I envision the Pokémon world as basically being our world, but with significant improvements; it’s better, but not perfect. School, I imagine, is a lot less of a mindless memorizing chore and takes up a lot less of a child’s week unnecessarily -- in many regions, mandatory schooling ends at 16 years old.
  • A trainer’s card works a lot like an outdoors card and a bit like a driver’s license for people under 20. In Unova, you can take what is considered a very long and very difficult trainer’s exam at 12 (though you have to be in senior secondary/high school to take a Trainer’s Co-op course). In some other regions, you can do this at 10. Trainer’s school is basically a cram school, but to prepare kids who want to take the trainer’s exam.
  • And yes, Dr. Juniper’s Trainer’s Co-op course is what the Pokédex Program is, essentially. Galar and Alola are examples of regions that don’t have any courses or such like this, but for different reasons.
  • Generally, the expectation is that one would complete or catch up on their schooling after finishing their trainer’s journey, though there a few exceptions... does that make Red a middle school dropout? Yes.
  • Do you have to care about any of this? No. That’s why it’s in the footnotes. Relevant information is for the text. This is just the surface of my deepest lore headcanons.
  • Why is boring paperwork involved in having Saint travel with Ashilda? Can’t he just go with her? Ehh, yes and no. Obviously people decide to journey together, or become travelling companions, all the time! This is different, though. Basically -- travelling guardianship means Saint is legally responsible for Ashilda’s wellbeing, and cannot abandon his role as her guardian without good reason (which could be anything from Ashilda deciding to go on by herself to Saint being heavily injured). A regular travelling companion is obviously not held to this degree of responsibility. It also means Saint’s university can’t kick him out for taking a year off school. How benevolent!
  • Ashilda has a bit of a complex. It’s considerably muted here.
  • A note on edits: you might have noticed that I completely redid the illustrations and art direction of this chapter, and the storylocke in general. Th...thank you for noticing. T_T

Next Chapter
 
Last edited:

pinkshellos

Black Lives Matter !!
Artist
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
1220
Caught
Dec 23, 2019
Messages
237
Location
Hoenn Route 120
Nature
Calm
Pronouns
she/her
Pokémon Type
Bug, Flying
Pokédex Entry
A timid Pokémon typically found in groups. The only thing that motivates her more than companionship is food.
SNIVY - FEMALE - WON’T EAT SPICY FOOD!
ENJOYS SITTING IN THE SUN, AND IS NOT AFRAID TO
ATTACK THOSE WHO MOVE HER BASKING ROCK LOL​
The “LOL” at the end got me. Did the professor write this? Ahah—

Ashilda felt her body tense like a rope pulled taut as her new partner balanced its way precariously up her arm, relaxing only as it settled heavily around her neck and shoulders.

She felt elated.
This is too good and pure! I love this main character already.

Your writing style is really nice to read, and I loved the worldbuilding in the footnotes!
 

ninotapiko

Derp
Pokédex No.
1564
Caught
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
1
This seems like its going to be the start of something good.
Also I love the idea of a Guardianship companion for Ashilda in the form of a character based on you. Seems really well put in!🙂
 

csidvuL

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
31
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
238
Hello! I looked at this quickly when it first came out and found the length of the chapter, at a scroll, a little intimidating. However, as soon as I settled into reading it I realised that your writing style is eminently readable and enjoyable! I really like the guardian/mentor relationship between Saint and Hilda. You explored the dynamic very effectively in the short scene on the stairs, I think, and the use of Saint's POV drew much more out of the scene than Hilda's might have. Smart framing, and I like it a lot. I also adore the art you've post accompanying this! Illustrated storylockes are a real treat, and so I'm looking forward to more!
 

SaintsGarden

Rune Collector
Artist
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
1399
Caught
Jan 29, 2020
Messages
24
Location
Ecruteak City, Johto
Nature
Serious
Pronouns
No Pronouns
Pokémon Type
Ground, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Is actually named Eden, which is what this one likes making player character names vaguely thematically related to, hence 'Saint' and 'Garden'
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
@pinkshellos I'm glad that you like her! And that you took a look at the footnotes. 9w9 Ashilda has been a joy to write as an MC, in her own way.

@ninotapiko Thank you so much!

@csidvuL The word count also worries me sometimes :'3 but I'm thankful you took the time to read it anyway, and to comment such lovely praise as well!

Admittedly, despite sort of representing myself as the player and 'guide' to the actual MC, Saint's personality is much different than mine -- he says a lot of things I wouldn't in real life, ahaha... My hope was that making him his own character would make him feel more natural/fitting to the setting, so I'm happy to hear it works for people.

Chag sameach-! I hope everyone's holidays have been going well, or if your holidays are next week, will be well. It's been a bit, but here's the second chapter

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‘Oh,’ Saint said, stepping into Ashilda’s room, ‘Hmm.’

Directly in front of him, three Pokéballs sat in a resting machine, of which was hooked up to both the wall’s outlet and Ashilda’s PC across the room with cords strung throughout. Behind it, three trainers were trying to get the machine to stay on, though two were more or less awkwardly trying to push around the other to fix the cords behind Ashilda’s computer desk.

The rest of the room, however, looked like someone had tried to tear every object from its proper place and fling it into the nether in a fit of rage. Which was not far from how Ashilda’s room usually looked, Saint mused, however….

‘Sorry!’ Bel noticed Saint’s entrance first and began apologizing. ‘Cheren didn’t bring his for some reason, so we decided to borrow Hilda’s mom’s old restee!’

‘These things weigh like 10kg at least, why was I supposed to think to bring one? I didn’t think we’d be battling! A—anyway, I don’t think that’s the issue here, Bellanca!’

Ashilda had no comment, taking the opportunity to elbow a distracted Cheren out of her way.

Bel silently repeated “didn’t think we’d be battling” and scoffed, before becoming shy under Saint’s scrutiny.

‘But, uh, he’s right… we really didn’t mean to mess up Hilda’s room so much… we can come back to fix it after preparatory?’

Saint smiled serenely.

‘I got a call from Dr. Juniper and was just coming up here to ask if you three were planning on leaving for preparatory soon. Do you guys need a drive?’

‘Yes,’ Cheren immediately replied, ‘Please. Uh, you’re not pissed off?’

‘Why would I be mad?’ Saint asked him, ‘If Hillie wants to have a Pokémon battle with her friends, in her room, first thing in the morning when she has her first in-person class with a professor that day, that’s her decision. Besides, you two did say you’re coming back after to help clean up, right?’

‘Yeah….’ Bel sighed. Cheren did not even remotely say that, but now felt like it wouldn’t be the best idea to object.

‘It’s been five minutes,’ Ashilda interrupted, ‘Our Pokémon should be fully healed now.’

‘Ah, that’s good. Then, should we head out now?’ Saint said. Feeling quite strongly that Saint was calling them troublemakers or something in his head, Bel and Cheren grabbed their respective Pokéballs in agreement and hurried out of Ashilda’s room.

Saint turned his head to meet Ashilda’s eyes. Now, he had to ask the important question.

‘So. Who won?’

'I did,’ Ashilda answered, unable to hide the giddy smile on her face.

—​

Ashilda, quite frankly, was struggling not to feel humiliated with how much help she seemed to need with such basic tasks. If their starters weren’t sent to her house, and Saint wasn’t here to direct them through the right corridor, she would’ve been messaging Cheren and Bel over crosstransceiver to ask where Dr. Juniper’s main office was in this large building that was ostensibly her laboratory. They likely wouldn’t have minded, because they each would have figured it out easily enough after walking in.

From her own experience, Ashilda knew. She would not have been able to do the same.

‘It’s good to see you all could make it!’ Dr. Juniper said cheerily, though Ashilda felt embarrassingly like the professor’s words were directed at her. Saint stayed out of the way of the conversation, leaving the three of them to greet the professor.

‘Yeah! We’re, uh, sorry we got here so late,’ Bel replied. Arriving an hour late did seem a bit excessive for a 2 hour class. And probably reflected poorly on each of them. Dr. Juniper laughed in response, apparently unbothered by it.

‘It’s fine, I somewhat expected things would turn out this way,’ Dr. Juniper said, ‘But more importantly, did you three receive your starters alright? There weren’t any arguments, I hope.’

‘Unless you count these two clowns jumping ahead of me….’ Cheren mumbled. Bel elbowed him in the rib good-naturedly, and Cheren stuck his tongue out at her. Dr. Juniper raised her eyebrows questioningly.

‘No, it was fine,’ Ashilda spoke up. Dr. Juniper seemed pleasantly surprised to hear her speak. ‘Cheren always wanted a Fire type starter for his team, and Bel was planning on getting a starter Pokémon that would counter his. I, uhm, I wanted the Snivy. So it… uh… worked out in everyone’s favour?’

Ashilda looked back at her friends for confirmation. Cheren sighed.

‘Yeah, it worked out.’ Cheren admitted. Bel smiled at them both.

‘I’m glad to hear it!’ Dr. Juniper told them.

Ashilda thought that Dr. Juniper’s personality was a bit incongruous with the atmosphere of her laboratory. She was quite carefree and welcoming; her office was filled to the brim with documents upon documents upon old, fragile looking books, all stacked next to a personal computer so overworked the keyboard’s letters had mostly worn off. The room itself didn’t look to have space for many accoutrements, if any. Even a potted plant had a file folder on the edge of its pot, leaning up against its stalk. If this was her main office, did that mean all of this was solely the professor’s work? Or was she reviewing the work of her assistants in here as well? But while Ashilda was lost in her own train of thought, Dr. Juniper had continued speaking.

‘Have you considered giving a name to your new partners?’

‘Junzhu,’ Ashilda answered, nearly automatically. Being much less confident when speaking involved opening her naming choice up to criticism, her voice came out in a mutter too low for the others to register.

Saint decided now was the time to cut in for her. ‘Ashilda, did you have a name in mind?’

‘I’m going to name it Junzhu.’ Hoping to be heard this time, Ashilda raised her voice a couple volumes, despite the strain on her throat.

‘Why’d you choose that name?’ Cheren asked. Ashilda knew not to take his words negatively, knowing Cheren definitely hadn’t decided on a name beforehand and was lost on what to call his Tepig. He was probably hoping to take a cue from her.

“Yu… er, Mingyu said once Snivy were considered to have a regal evolutionary line, which is why they’re called jūnzhǔ shé. In Zhangguo, at least….’

Both Bel and Cheren seemed slightly taken aback by the mention of Mingyu, but neither of them reacted openly to it. Because Dr. Juniper couldn’t understand the context and meaning behind her words, she smiled at Ashilda’s choice.

‘You remember something from that long ago?’ Saint asked her, knowing the answer. Ashilda nodded almost solemnly.

'Yeah. So that’s why.’

‘Huh. I’m not really good with names,’ Cheren admitted, ‘But, whatever. I was thinking Pigsy would work for a Tepig.’

‘Awh, that’s kinda cute,’ Bel told him. Ashilda agreed, but she didn’t really want to keep drawing all the attention to herself by speaking up again.

‘Journey to the West?’ Saint said curiously, ‘Following the theme of Zhangguon-inspired names, are we?’

Bel and Cheren looked mildly lost at Saint’s interjection. Ashilda had some idea of what he was talking about mainly due to prolonged exposure to her older cousin, but she didn’t feel like being the one to explain. Saint probably would, she assumed.

‘They’re probably a bit young to be into historically significant epics, Saint. Most 15-year-olds aren’t reading classical novels instead of going on adventures with Pokémon,’ Dr. Juniper joked.

‘But I was, though?’ Saint replied, not quite getting what she was saying, ‘Anyway, with so many adaptations of Journey to the West, they probably know some version or another of it, even if they don’t realize that’s what it is, wouldn’t they?’

Dr. Juniper rolled her eyes, but she seemed to be in a good mood.

‘Pigsy is the localized name of a fictional, partially-demon Grumpig featured in Journey to the West,’ Dr. Juniper explained to the three of them breezily, ‘I think it’s a fine name for your Tepig, Cheren. Choosing a name off the top of your head because it seems to fit, or one that has a deeper meaning to you, or one that just sounds pretty — it’s the act itself of giving a name that makes something special.’

‘Oh, okay,’ Cheren said, ‘Uh, that’s good.’ He looked down at the Pokéball he had been shuffling back and forth between his hands since they arrived.

Dr. Juniper spoke again, ’You know, when I woke up today, I thought I’d just be giving you all a basic lesson on the Pokédex. Not everything always goes according to plans, it seems.’

‘Sorry,’ Saint told her, unapologetic. Ashilda suppressed a smile.

‘So, Bellanca,’ Dr. Juniper continued on. Bel’s posture instantly perked up at being addressed. ‘Did you have a name in mind for your Oshawott there?’

‘I did,’ Bel said, her expression falling fast, ‘Or, well, I had a whole list of potential names before I met this little guy. None of them really seem to suit him, though….’

Bel took her only Pokéball out of her shoulder bag’s pocket, rolling it around in her hand a bit. She looked conflicted. Ashilda knew from the plush dolls in Bel’s room that she tended to lean towards giving simple, diminutive names to her things. She never renamed them, but Ashilda recalled that Bel once packed them away after deciding she didn’t want to be perceived as childish or obnoxious anymore.

Maybe this was the same?

‘Why not continue the Zhangguon-inspired theme Ashilda and Cheren accidentally started?’ Dr. Juniper suggested, trying to prompt Bel into a decision.

‘Oh!’ Bel said, ‘That’d be cool, I think. But I don’t really know any, uhm, Zhangguon that would make sense as names.’

‘If you want to continue using classical novels, Baoyu might make a good name,’ Saint said.

‘Dream of the Red Chamber?’ Dr. Juniper questioned him, ‘You would think Jia Baoyu would be quite a heavy namesake, compared to the rest.’

‘It could be Jia Baoyu or Zhen Baoyu,’ Saint defended himself half-heartedly, ‘I don’t think you have to choose between a false principle character and his honest mirror, when there’s no purely innocuous character that I could suggest from such a novel as a namesake instead. But if you’re curious as to why this one in particular, I simply suggested it because it’s what I’ve been reading lately.’

Cheren and Bel looked to Ashilda as if to ask, does he always talk like this? and Ashilda didn’t know how to convey the sentiment of yes, he does, but only in this way when someone else made the poor decision of humouring him.

‘Just name it what you want, don’t worry about this thematic naming stuff,’ Cheren told Bel earnestly.

‘I mean, you’re right,’ Bel said, ‘But I’m not a fast enough thinker for this. Baoyu sounds bubbly and smooth, so, I actually sorta like it?’

‘Eh? Really?’ Cheren said.

‘As long as you like it,’ Ashilda shrugged, ‘I, uhm… don’t think you would’ve picked a bad name either way, Bel.’

‘Hildaaa—‘

‘Alright!’ Dr. Juniper interrupted, ‘While this surely valuable bonding experience has been thoroughly enjoyable, I’d be remiss to leave you all with it being your only takeaway from today, so shall we move to my recently designated classroom?’

Dr. Juniper’s would-be co-op students quieted down instantly, turning their attention towards the professor without hesitation. Seeing this, Saint’s shoulders fell almost unnoticeably, relaxing.

‘If that’s the case, I’ll be outside. I can wait around until you guys are done,’ He said to them.

'Okay,’ Ashilda said. She watched Saint turn and walk out the door and gave a small wave goodbye to him, despite knowing he wouldn’t see it with his back turned. Obviously he didn’t wave back. Ashilda turned back around to rejoin the group as he walked down the hall.

It would be a lie to say Ashilda had been looking forward to any of the desk work that would be involved before they left.

While there wasn’t a strict schedule, Ashilda knew ahead of time what topics they’d be running through these next days before they left. Most of them were related to camping and social responsibility — a refresher of their trainer’s school days to make sure they’d actually absorbed what they were taught before being asked to utilize it out on their own.

The rest was related to Dr. Juniper’s work — primarily the Pokémon they were given, and the Pokédex she wanted them to use.

The Pokédex was still a bit of a novelty, but it’s cultural impact over the last decade made it familiar enough, and a class on its functions sounded agonizingly dull. It was always described as an illustrated Pokémon encyclopedia, after all. Who would willingly take even a single class on learning the various functions of a dictionary?

But, Ashilda thought, it’d probably make a much worse first impression than arriving late to skip preparatory entirely simply because it sounded boring.

And Ashilda really wasn’t looking to be kicked from another course.

Inside Dr. Juniper’s makeshift “classroom” was a total of five desks dragged in from who-knows-where. Cheren immediately took the seat closest to a window (which was still pretty far) and Bel took the seat closest to the door (likely out of habit more than anything). Admittedly, the room itself was stunning, in its own way. The wall at the back of the room looked to be a rock taken out of the face of a cliff and embedded into the building, immediately catching the eye when one first walked in. It seemed to be striped with a thousand different colours from the minerals that ran horizontally through each layer of sediment. Instead of posters, there were plaques, with text that looked interesting but couldn’t be read from where Ashilda stood. The rest of the room was all vast windows, overgrown plants, and bookshelves, giving Ashilda the feeling of walking into some magical being’s study. But she was here for a very specific, very brief form of study.

Ashilda sat between her two friends, sinking as far down into the seat as the hard plastic would let her. She swore she had nothing against Dr. Juniper’s choice to still have preparatory in her supposedly non-conventional version of trainer co-op. Ashilda was simply resigned to her fate.

But Dr. Juniper could apparently tell exactly what she was thinking.

'The Pokédex is far more than what its name implies,’ Dr. Juniper told them, 'It keeps an index of Pokémon, yes, but unlike a book’s index or other encyclopedias, the Pokédex you hold in your hands is ever changing and updating its information. Not just on its own automatically, but through your updates to it as well.’

To which Cheren questioned, 'If you can just change the information on the Pokédex however you want, doesn’t that render it useless?’

But before Dr. Juniper could give her answer, Bel cut in, 'No, that’s not how it works. You can update information but you can’t just make major changes to all the species information.’

'What?’ Cheren said, 'So if you can add stuff but it doesn’t change anything, then how does that work?’

‘I— I don’t know how exactly to explain it! It’s complicated!’ Bel said, reacting defensively to his words. Cheren looked confused, unable to tell when it was he said something accusatory towards her.

Ashilda wanted to add on to what Bel said to help her out. If she said the right words, she could also help clarify things for Cheren. But she didn’t know which words were the right words, or the right time to cut into the conversation, and she couldn’t bring herself to go into it without knowing exactly what to say, and–

Maybe it was better to leave the resolution of their questions up to Dr. Juniper.

'It’d be easier to show you how it works than to tell you,’ Dr. Juniper said, thankfully. She held out a Pokédex 3S (a model which would date the thing on its own, but it also showed enough clear signs of being worn and torn to mark it as being nearly a decade old) that was likely her own, turning it on. Ashilda was mildly impressed by the old tech, but was more so interested in the amount of hardships Dr. Juniper must have put it through.

'Currently, your Pokédexes are region locked, as I want you to focus on species that originated in Unova right now, but more importantly…’ Dr. Juniper quickly scrolled through files on the Pokédex, eventually stopping at one that seemed random. She pointed to two tiny pixel numbers on the screen. 'Here’s an example of what Bel was trying to say. When you’ve caught a Pokémon, the ball you used to catch it can be scanned to identify the Pokémon inside it from its base molecular structure to its current age, height, and weight.’

Put in a position where she had to, Ashilda realized she had never really thought about it before, but hearing about it like this made the Pokédex feel like a much more striking piece of technology than she was used to thinking about it as.

'Now, for example, because the one little Psyduck you caught does not represent the height and weight of every single Psyduck out there, it takes those numbers and compares them to the heights and weights of all caught Psyducks uploaded to the world database, creating a new average. While every addition counts, this change is usually so unnoticeable that it hardly effects the number given on its Pokédex file.’

'Oh,’ Cheren said, 'Yeah, okay, that makes sense. Is that all?’

Dr. Juniper smiled. 'Of course not!’ She said, and continued on about the various mechanisms involved in data collection for another twenty minutes. To her credit, Dr. Juniper was an engaging teacher, even with a subject matter that more frequently than not felt like learning common knowledge they didn’t realize they already knew until hearing it. By the end of their first preparatory lesson, Ashilda only had one question.

'What’s with this… feature, though?’ Ashilda asked uncertainly, 'Like, the little description under the Pokémon’s general entry? Some of them seem like actual observations, but others sound just… made up? And there’s a 'new desc’ option underneath? I heard kids used to be able to upload just any notes they wrote to the world database, but isn’t keeping all of that kinda… antithetical to the point?’

Cheren and Bel simultaneously made the exact same relieved expression of I’m glad she asked so I don’t have to.

'Not at all,’ Dr. Juniper said.

The answer to her question was given so bluntly Ashilda felt like saying oh, okay, and leaving the room in embarrassment.

But she waited for Dr. Juniper to continue.

'Pure scientific fact is not the only role of the Pokédex – identifying common misconceptions, the folklore and urban legends surrounding certain Pokémon species, and understanding how people perceive the Pokémon around them is an important aspect to many people’s research. There is value to these Pokédex entries, an emotional truth even if it lacks an objective truth… though you’re right that they shouldn’t be touted around as fact,’ Dr. Juniper shrugged, 'The problem with older versions of the Pokédex was that these entries could not be outright fixed to label them accordingly for the public to view. I think you’ll find you won’t have that problem with yours.’

Dr. Juniper set three Pokédexes down on the desk beside her; all with black as their main colour, accented with either red, green, or blue. Likely, Ashilda imagined, to match their starters’ typing. Ashilda leaned over to Bel’s side.

'Do you want green?’ Ashilda asked, 'I’d kinda rather go for red.’

'Yeah,’ Bel agreed, having picked up on the same thing, 'I love Baoyu already, but blue clashes with my entire look. But now we might have to talk Cherry out of grabbing red, though, so….’

’… It doesn’t really matter which one I get,’ Ashilda said. She didn’t really want to take away Cheren’s options twice in one day.

While they were discussing, the chair beside the two of them made a loud clattering sound, surprising them both into silence. Cheren had gotten up to go look at the Pokédexes presented to them by the professor.

‘Do you want us to get ours right now, then?’ Cheren asked, straightforward as ever.

Dr. Juniper chuckled a small bit, 'Yes yes, go ahead, I didn’t give you that whole lecture for nothing.’

'Okay. Thank you.’

In an instant, Cheren had picked a Pokédex up off the table, scanned his trainer card with it, and had linked his ID to said Pokédex.

And he had grabbed the blue one.

’… I guess that worked out?’ Ashilda said.

'What?’ Cheren asked, turning to the two of them, 'Aren’t you guys gonna get one?’

'I guess we are,’ Bel said, holding back a laugh. Ashilda bit the inside of her cheek.

—​

Upon the day of departure, Bel was, once again, late.

Ashilda had arrived early, Saint at her side, and Junzhu held protectively in her arms like she was her infant child. Saint was preoccupied by something on his crosstransceiver, so Ashilda decided not to bother him and fed Junzhu a few apicot slices she had pre-cut earlier.

Cheren had arrived perfectly on time, long hair pulled back into a low ponytail that Pigsy kept gleefully trying to catch in his mouth with every leap it made around its trainer.

And Bel had not yet arrived.

’… He’s pretty energetic,’ Ashilda said, staring at Cheren’s possibly demonic Tepig.

'He’s completely wretched.’ Cheren’s voice was entirely deadpan when he spoke, 'He’s not demanding in anything except getting attention. I think it’s just his personality.’

'What do you mean?’

'I’m not quite sure myself, but he never seems to want anything in particular, so I think he just likes bothering me. I’m not even sure what I should be feeding him yet; Tepigs can eat basically anything, and he doesn’t seem to have any food preferences, but I need to be conscious of his dietary needs as well.’

'Ah,’ Ashilda said.

She had had essentially the opposite problem with Junzhu; her Snivy frequently seemed content waiting for Ashilda to bother her, knew what she would eat, and would barely dare to approach anything else. Ashilda counted herself lucky that Junzhu didn’t seem to be bothered about an unmoving meal so far.

'I’m not complaining, though,’ Cheren said, 'It’s just different than I expected. He’s fairly well-behaved in most aspects.’

'No, I get it,’ Ashilda said, 'I’ve been on small fruits and eggs for Junzhu the past few days, but I’m hoping there’ll be a shop in Accumula so I can get something more substantial for her diet.’

'Yeah,’ Cheren agreed, 'But if they have a center in town, they’ll definitely have Pokémon-specific stores around, won’t they?’

Ashilda nodded.

'And maybe a shopkeeper will have some advice for feeding Pigsy…?’ Cheren wondered, speaking to himself under his breath.

'You’ll figure it out, Cherry,’ Ashilda tried reassuring him. Cheren did not look impressed by the use of diminutive, but then again, Cheren rarely looked impressed by anything.

'Hey, you two?’ Saint interrupted, ’… Bellanca will be coming today, right?’

Cheren and Ashilda glanced at each other uncertainly. It had been 30 minutes since the established meeting time, and though they knew of Bel’s tendency towards lateness, neither had considered what they’d do if Bel just… didn’t show in time to leave today. Leave tomorrow, maybe.

Saint sighed, 'Dr. Juniper wants to have dinner with you three in Accumula tonight, but if you need me to –’

'Wait!’ Bel shouted from down the road, over-packed bag and Baoyu in tow, 'Sorry, I’m here, I’m sorry! Please don’t leave without me please!’

'Bel!’ Cheren said.

Bel folded into a full crouch the second she made it to where the three of them stood, heaving and stuttering as she tried to catch her breath. Baoyu mimicked his trainer’s actions at her side, though the run clearly did not have the same effect on him.

'I swear…’ She panted out, ‘I— I don’t… do this on purpose.’

'It’s okay,’ Ashilda said, eyebrows furrowed.

'We weren’t going to leave without you,’ Cheren added.

Bel stood up, having caught her breath. 'It feels like it, sometimes,’ She said, a little miserably. Ashilda took a better look at Bel’s face. None of her usual makeup, she noted, and Bel’s eyes were swollen.

’… Hm,’ Ashilda said, 'But we wouldn’t.’

Ashilda’s uneasy feelings told her that she’ll have to wait to ask if everything’s okay later.

'Is everyone alright to go?’ Saint asked, keeping his tone gentle and undemanding. Ashilda wondered if he had noticed the same thing she did, or if she was reading too much into his regular demeanour. Either way, she nodded.

'Yeah! Yes, I’m good,’ Bel said, 'Let’s head out, yeah?’

Cheren rolled his eyes. 'At least we’re leaving before nightfall, which is significantly better than my prediction of when we’d finally be going.’

‘Haha!’ Bel said. She elbowed Cheren in the rib. He elbowed her back.

Baoyu and Pigsy seemed unsure of how to interpret their respective trainer’s attitudes towards the other, and thus both agreed to ignore it in favour of playing around with each other. Junzhu, for the record, had opted out of socializing entirely, in favour of eating more apicot slices.

Saint sighed. Only Ashilda noticed. Bel and Cheren were finally done antagonizing each other, so it was time to be off.

‘Our first trainer route, huh?’ Ashilda stared at the sign designating the area ahead for “qualified individuals only” as they began to walk past it. She didn’t think much about Saint not having a trainer’s card of his own.

‘It’s more like a trail than a route,’ Cheren commented glibly.

‘Which is more than enough for your first expedition out,’ Saint replied, ‘Even if the next few hours don’t tire you out too badly, it’s better to aim to go under your stamina limit than over.’

Bel, who’d ran across town to join them, did not look delighted to hear that. ‘Next few hours…?’ She questioned a bit pitifully.

‘You’ll be fine,’ Ashilda said, at the same Cheren told her, ‘Don’t be a baby, Bel.’

Saint raised his eyebrows at the three of them, giving Bel a look of sympathy.

‘Well, that was including time to stop and familiarize yourself with the local wildlife, but feel free to relax and take a break when you need to,’ Saint told her, ‘It’s a beautiful time of year to enjoy the scenery around here.’

It was still wet and dreary all around from the last dying touches of winter, but, Ashilda could still see his point. There were a few trees planted along the path with flowers in bloom that almost called to mind a cherry blossom, but not quite. They were far lighter, almost a snowy-white tint upon pink petals, scattering in the biting wind of a season overstaying its welcome.

‘I’m not really interested in sightseeing,’ Cheren said, ‘I want to get Pigsy to Accumula as soon as possible so we can work on his Fire type moves without causing a forest fire, so I’ll be taking a shortcut through the thicket. On my own.’

Oh, winter-flowering cherries, Ashilda thought. She remembered her mother remarking on how beautiful they were once.

‘Are you seriously going ahead already?’ Bel asked, exasperation evident.

She had to wonder a bit if a nonnative plant hybrid like that was actually good for the habitat it was placed in, but Ashilda wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking.

‘Are you not planning on challenging the league too?’ Cheren retorted, ‘If we’re actual rivals now, we can’t hawk over each other’s training constantly, or we’ll always know exactly what the other is planning to do. I don’t know about you, but my training starts now.’

Bel pouted. ‘Of course I’m planning on challenging the league, but we have an entire year… I mean… Hilda, you’re not looking to rush either, right? You’ll take the trail up to Accumula with me?’

‘Uhm,’ Ashilda said, ‘I… was gonna see what I could catch around here… so me and Saint were gonna go off the path….’

‘Oh, alright,’ Bel said, with some resignation, ‘You two better have something interesting to show for all this talk of “our real rivalry starting here” when we meet up with the professor tonight.’

‘You could always come with the two of us?’ Saint offered politely. Bel picked up Baoyu and placed him on top of her backpack before responding.



‘No,’ Bel said, ‘Apparently, we’ve got some training and catching to do here as well.’

And with that, she continued down the path and away from the other three with hasty steps, while Ashilda and Saint looked on.

'I’ll be going, too.’ Cheren didn’t take his eyes off his map, walking headlong into the brush. Pigsy followed at his heels enthusiastically. Ashilda adjusted her hold on Junzhu to make sure she was still comfortable.

'I guess that’s that,’ Saint said, 'I suppose it’s our turn, then. Which way, Hillie?’

Ashilda shrugged.

'I think I’d like to collect some of these flowers first, before all their petals fall off.’ She looked up at the branches swaying over their heads.

Saint followed her gaze, staring at the trees that swayed in the wind. He looked a bit bemused.

'Okay, I’m not following here. You’re going to climb a tree?’

'Well, I… it’ll be tedious to search… in the grass,’ Ashilda fumbled on her explanation, 'I wanted to get an overhead view of the area to look for Pokémon. I— I think I’ll get a lot more useful information that way. And… uhm, I wanted to collect. A few branches. Of flowers.’

Saint considered her words with a thoughtful look that made Ashilda self-conscious. 'Oh, I see,’ He said.

'Or we could just walk, that would be easier,’ Ashilda added nervously.

'No, no,’ Saint replied, 'I’m just not athletic enough to climb up there with you, yaknow? But I’d rather be down here in case you fall anyhow. Try not to, by the way; I can provide first aid, but I’d feel awful the entire time doing it.’

'Ri— right….’

'How about you drop down the branches of flowers you wanna take to me, and I’ll start pressing them in one of my books while you look for some Pokémon you’re interested in?’

'Really?’ Ashilda asked, 'I mean, okay, yeah, let’s do that.’

Saint smiled. Ashilda offered a smile back.

  • Despite being (I imagine) pretty tame of a chapter to read, this was a rollercoaster to get out for various reasons. For one, this chapter was originally supposed to be about catching Ashilda’s second team member.
  • That does not happen this chapter. It’s already 5.1k as it stands.
  • Ashilda naming her Snivy based on the offhand comment of an old friend was planned, as was Cheren unintentionally naming his Tepig based off of Journey to the West. Saint chiming in with a name for Bel’s Oshawott was not my original plan, but he basically wouldn’t shut up once I started writing him lol… kicks him off screen.
  • “Zhǎngguó” is fan name of mine I’ve been kicking around for a while for a region that (geographically) is based off the northern/central parts of China, and is meant to be made up of the characters for ‘to change/grow’ (zhǎng) and ‘state’ (guó)
  • I actually have quite a few fan region ideas, but they’re more people-and-culture focused than Pokémon focused, so it’s embarrassing to share them unless it’s brought up for plot reasons…
  • Even though there is no canon basis for this and I know the games definitely didn’t start out with this intention (I assume even Unova was originally just meant to be ‘a region of fictional Japan based on NY’), the constant use of the word region even in what feels like entirely different continents makes Pokémon feel like a world with no defined countries or borders; that there are places but no dividing lines. I like that feeling a lot.
  • I’ve secretly been hoping the heavy character focus in this chapter doesn’t bore anyone… I promise Ashilda jumps out of a tree and tackles a Pokémon with her own two hands next chapter, lol

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Alba Corbina

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
581
Caught
Jul 26, 2019
Messages
104
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Dark, Fairy
This is delightful! I love all the characters so far and can't wait to see how you handle the Team Plasma stuff in Accumula. That picture at the start of N with a sword has me Concerned.
 
Last edited:

SaintsGarden

Rune Collector
Artist
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
1399
Caught
Jan 29, 2020
Messages
24
Location
Ecruteak City, Johto
Nature
Serious
Pronouns
No Pronouns
Pokémon Type
Ground, Poison
Pokédex Entry
Is actually named Eden, which is what this one likes making player character names vaguely thematically related to, hence 'Saint' and 'Garden'
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9
@Alba Corbina Ahh, thank you!! The sword was a re-drawn illustration addition, so I wondered if people would just assume it was an aesthetic prop because of that, but yes... it is rather... concerning :3

Accumula is quite the fun little town.

tumblr mirror

'Hey, Hillie?' Saint called, 'I think Junzhu is getting a bit drowsy here.’

Ashilda, who had been scavenging around in the trees for a good hour, looked down at where Saint stood. Junzhu was clearly falling asleep in the single arm Saint had holding her up, while Saint struggled to manage the notebook he'd been carrying, a tree branch, and the Snivy in question. Ashilda sighed.

'Oh, yeah,' She replied, opening up her backpack, 'I guess she's had enough time out of the ball for today anyway.'

Ashilda pulled a ball out of her backpack and threw it down to where Saint stood, returning Junzhu in an instant. Saint looked instantly relieved. After giving his back a good stretch, he begun to organize the things he had been carrying around for Ashilda for the past while into a more comfortable hold.

'How are things going up there, by the way?' Saint asked.

Ashilda considered how to answer for a moment. She hadn't managed anything really extraordinary in the hour she spent ardently looking, though she had managed to find a Watchog's nest from above, and got attacked by a young Patrat when she tried to approach it.

Junzhu was with Saint somewhere back on the path when it happened, so she tried taking a risk in tackling it herself just to catch it for her Pokédex. It had worked, but she felt bad. She was planning to release it back at its nest either way, but she felt responsible for getting it back quickly. It went about as well as one could imagine.

Her arms were covered in scratches and bite marks by the time she went back, but she'd also gotten pictures of a (relatively) undisturbed Patrat-Watchog nest. ...She'd be needing to get a vaccination shot at the Accumula PokéCentre tonight, but it felt worth it.

That being said, Ashilda did figure it would be best to put her jacket back on before she was back in Saint's line of vision again.

But other than that incident, Ashilda had only seen a few Purrloin wandering about, but she hadn't managed to catch even one by jumping out of a tree and throwing a Pokéball at it.

'It's going well,' Ashilda told Saint.

'That's good,' Saint said, 'You know, it's been a bit... we should probably be walking to Accumula now if we want to meet Dr. Juniper on time.'

'Right,' Ashilda replied, feeling resigned.

Saint smiled up at her. 'But it's up to you. I could always tell the professor we'll be late because of a freak Patrat incident.'

'N— no, that's alright, we should go.'

Truthfully, even though it was the beginning of her life as a trainer, she had been filled to the brim with a desire to take note of everything she could and give her Pokédex value of some kind for being so comprehensive — to say that even if she wasn't necessarily a good or proper trainer, her contributions made her journey worth it. Something to make up for the fact that it was her doing it.

She didn't feel like she had done enough on her first route as a trainer to even glance at that goal. She had been told before that wild Lillipup could be found wandering in here from Accumula all the time, and she hadn't seen a single one yet.

Maybe the fact that it seemed to be untrue was something for her to take note of. But she also wasn't sure if it was just her timing that was bad.

'Hillie!' Saint cried out suddenly.

Preparing herself to make the climb down the tree's branches, Ashilda barely processed watching her open backpack fall from 15 ft up.

Her open backpack, which apparently held a small beast that’d clearly been rummaging inside of it, falling with it.

'Shit!' Ashilda barely had time to yell before she had flung herself completely backwards in a desperate attempt to grab her bag and all its contents.

Managing — only barely — to rescue her bag and whatever Pokémon had gotten into it, hanging by her knees with scraped up legs.

'Oh no.' Saint stood near directly under where Ashilda hung from, panic rising in his voice, 'Oh for all that is — here, drop that down to me, do— don't fall, oh my lord.'

'It's, shit, it's fine,' Ashilda tried to calm him, feeling the blood rushing to her head.

Ashilda dropped her backpack lightly into Saint's outstretched arms, the wild Pokémon inside immediately starting to struggle from within the bag. But at least now it wasn't falling. Or kicking her.

Out of the immediate danger of being knocked off of the tree, Ashilda lifted her upper body — taking great pains to grab hold of the branch she swayed from with both hands. To grasp tightly to the tree’s thin arms with every limb she possessed was a brief moment of rest from her adrenaline rush a moment before, but she wasn’t in the clear yet — Ashilda focused her grip on her hands and removed her legs from the branch that still somehow supported her weight.

She swung her legs out in a wide arc once, before vaulting herself off of the tree.

Ashilda managed to land standing. Pain shot up her leg from her heels as she hit the ground rather hard, but there would be time to regret her questionable decisions later. She let herself fall to her knee where dirt met open scrapes, not granting herself the moment to feel it, scrambling on all fours to grab Junzhu's ball off the dirt path.

'Saint! You can let it go now! I'm gonna catch it!' She yelled without looking back.

'Wait, Hillie, your hands—' Saint tried to reply despairingly, but his arms slackened in the process, letting the wild Pokémon jump out.

The Lillipup in front of her faced Ashilda with eyes that, frankly, seemed fed up with all of this. She met its glare and knocked the release mechanism of Junzhu's Pokéball against the ground.

'I knew it,' Ashilda said. Though she didn't, really. But when her backpack began to fall, a small hope had begun to bloom in the back of her mind, now proving itself to be anything but unfounded.

'Zhu! Tackle that Lillipup!'

Junzhu wasted no time ramming her full momentum from being unleashed into the attacking Lillipup, most of her weight hitting it by the hind.

'Alright, alright,' Ashilda muttered to herself. Pulling one of her last empty Pokéball spares from her pocket, Ashilda decided to try a throw early. Maybe it was the pain catching up to her, but she was feeling a bit impatient. If nothing else, it would be better to get this done quickly, even if that would be a bit of an anti-climatic finish to her search. Because of course it would happen at the exact moment when she had been forced to give up. That the one species of Pokémon she'd wanted to find today would find her instead.

Though, the main point remained; she didn't want to waste any time in catching it.

So she steeled herself, and threw.

And then her throw missed.

To be more accurate, the Lillipup made a lunge out of the way at the last minute. Was it not impressed with her performance thus far? Or… well, at that moment Ashilda could swear it looked… playful, almost.

She only had two balls left, though. And when the Lillipup broke out of the second-to-last one after an agonizing minute of shaking, well. Ashilda could feel her patience was being pushed on purpose.

'Aaaagh—! Junzhu, restrain it with Vine Whip!' Ashilda yelled, 'Er, gently! Gently!'

Ashilda didn't know what the exact science was on how much of human language and emotions Pokémon could understand and accurately interpret, but she hoped for a moment that that amount was "just enough, actually." Junzhu, at least, seemed to get it, restraining the Lillipup by its forelegs and keeping it down. Hopefully that wasn't just how Snivy commonly caught its prey, although Ashilda had no time to be picky about method.

She threw her remaining Pokéball. It was a little pathetic, really. Dr. Juniper had given them quite a few Pokéballs to build a team with; Ashilda had wasted most of them that day in her haste. It would be on her if this Lillipup broke out of the ball again, intent on continuing its little game. Maybe she shouldn't have pointlessly tried to catch all those Purrloin earlier....

Or, maybe it was fine. Ashilda watched the Pokéball shake one last time, still as the dead, until the tell-tale click of a successful catch was sounded.

'Oh, oh!' Ashilda cried out, standing shakily on both legs to walk over to her new Pokémon. 'Oh, you. You gave me quite a bit of trouble, didn't you?'

Ashilda smiled as she picked up the ball.


'H— hey, Junzhu, that's our first catch together, ain't it?' She said. Junzhu walked over lazily and rubbed her face against Ashilda's beaten up legs, and Ashilda pulled out her Pokédex. For a moment, Ashilda let herself enjoy it as she read her newly caught Lillipup’s entry. Of course, a moment only lasts a moment.

'Ashilda.' Saint spoke up from behind her. He held up his well-stocked first-aid kit, worry written all over his face.

'Oh, yeah, sorry,' Ashilda said offhandedly, 'I think I'm going to name him Pascal.'

'You're keeping it?' Saint looked mildly surprised, 'I... see.'

Ashilda and Saint stood in silence as Saint contemplated his next words.

'Alright, I know this might be a bit unconventional for a trainer's journey, but Ashilda... I'm going to ask that you ride Zen for the rest of the way to Accumula.'

Ashilda looked up from her Pokédex in bewilderment.

Saint sighed. 'A leisurely pace was fine before, but now I'd like to make sure we get accommodation at a PokéCentre before the cutoff tonight, since you're already in… the state that you’re in.’

Saint pulled out a Pokéball of his own, releasing a Pokémon Ashilda knew beforehand to be a Bronzong. Ashilda didn't match Saint's sigh with her own, but she considered it.

'Don't you have a Xatu? Couldn't it at least be her?' She complained.

Saint looked bemused (or perhaps relieved) to hear Ashilda's mild complaining. 'Nope, she's back home with Aunt Emerys, I'm afraid.'

'Ahhh, alright,' Ashilda complied in resignation, recalling Junzhu once again.

Her response lacked any real begrudging, though, as she looked down at the Pokéballs containing her now team of two. Zhu and Pascal, she thought warmly, I hope you two can get along.

—​

Here was the knowledge that the sage Ghetsis had imparted on him; first, that whoever he spoke to, he was not to give away what his connection to Plasma was.

Humans make up their minds quickly. Humans are quite quick to judge. They don't need to know you; they don't need to understand you at all. All they need is an image of others that they can assume of you, and that's it.

N was to be a Pokémon trainer on a journey, and as long as people thought this to be true of him, they would not send scrutinizing looks his way. They would continue to be good to him.

Second, as long as he was a trainer, it didn't matter what he did.

This was the knowledge that the sage Ghetsis had given to him.

Natural had very little he could believe in except for that which he had seen with his own eyes. In the crowd at Accumula, no one gave N a second glance.

—​

It was somewhat embarrassing to leave dinner early without a good excuse, knowing full well he had been rather pushy about the rest of them making it there on time, but Saint wasn't feeling up to admitting that he didn't exactly have a battling trainer’s budget for higher end restaurants like Dr. Juniper's students would. Explaining to Ashilda that a non-trainer like him without employment insurance meant he didn't get free overnight accommodation at the PokéCentre was embarrassing enough.

Yes, he had to tell her, I'm not a trainer or a ranger or anything else that would necessitate sheltering with them so they can't just give me a bed.

But, that's
— Ashilda had to protest these things — I thought PokéCentres were free! What about your Pokémon?

They'll still heal my Pokémon without charging me, in fact
, Saint hadn't smiled, I could probably have my Pokémon stay here overnight. But I'd have to pay for myself.

Here
, Ashilda had tried to tell him then, holding out crumpled Pokédollars with arms that were wrapped up in bandages to the elbow.

Saint stopped her there.

And when he saw the restaurant they were eating at that evening, he left. He didn't need a teenager offering him money for the second time that evening.

Or Dr. Juniper for that matter, Saint thought, because she had already done enough.

Saint wasn't in such a precarious situation where he needed such sympathy. He had the money to pay for his own accommodations tonight. He just... couldn't order anything at that place in good conscience.

So instead, Saint sat in a cramped, hideaway shop that embraced the white stone and crawling ivy so characteristic to Accumula.

And the couple who had kindly given him a seat at their table when there had been nothing else available to sit at talked on and on.

'We just got married a month ago,' The woman told him.

'Is that so? I wish you two happiness,' Saint replied, watching them smile at each other shamelessly.

'We've actually known each other for a decade this year,' The man admitted, 'We met through the Battle Station before they turned it into the Battle Subway.'

'Yes, they kept pairing us up for double battles!' The woman continued, and Saint got the feeling they told this story a lot, 'It was so funny — we were the only two people in Nimbasa going in the doubles tower without a partner, but we couldn't get along at all.'

'Oh?' Saint prompted, taking a small bite of his doner kebab. It was easy to feel warmed by other people's joy — as if he was sitting by a fire he was never too close to be touched by.

'Our strategies were entirely at odds with each other — I'm not sure how we ever managed to make it as far as we did, arguing as much as we did over who was right, who was better,' The man admitted.

'But we could always agree on music,' The woman interjected.

'Ah! You're spoiling the ending!' The man told her. She simply giggled into her coffee.

'Well, there was that,' The man admitted, 'But because we were together so much, our opposing strategies ended up making us stronger. At least, I think so....' The man looked questioningly at his wife, asking wordlessly for her to confirm.

She nodded. 'I hated to admit it, but being with him opened my eyes to new strategies — both from him and our opponents. I didn’t even notice how much battling with him improved my skills.’

'I was the same,' Her husband agreed. 'Because we were so different, we were constantly in a dispute over every detail of our strategies. But because we had those differences, our worlds opened up to new possibilities.’

'Is that why you invited me out to the amusement park when you heard the battle station was closing?' His wife smiled. Saint couldn't stop his grin either. The man's face turned red.

'I told I knew by then I liked you, didn't I? And you told me not to get my hopes up back then. You're so cold-hearted.' He said.

The woman laughed loudly. Saint couldn’t help but laugh with her, in quiet harmony.

'Ah, ah, and what about you, kid? What're you doing here in Accumula?'

'Oh, I'm not staying,' Saint replied, 'I'm here with my younger cousin, she's just started her trainer's journey. She's gone out to eat with her friends right now, so I'm giving them some space.'

It wasn't entirely a lie, or at least not a lie when told to complete strangers.

'Oo, so you're a trainer, then?’ The woman asked.

'More of a guardian, in our situation. She just needs someone else to help watch her step.'

'It's good that she has someone like you to look out for her,' The man said, his wife nodding, 'I respect the whole trainer thing you see kids doing, but it's tough when you're on your own out there.’

Saint tried not to reflect on the fact that this man couldn't possibly know whether or not it was good he had joined Ashilda on her journey because these people had no frame of reference for who someone like him even was. But they didn't need to know him; they were just two kindly strangers who offered him a seat. It was fine.

'Yes, it is.' Saint agreed.

Having finished his food, Saint paid for himself and thanked the couple for letting him have a seat. He left enough of a tip on the table for his meal and theirs.

The sun was beginning to sink low in the sky. It burned in red and orange hues against overcast clouds.

Is Ashilda and the rest finishing up their dinner as well? Saint wondered, eyes wandering up stone stairs in the direction he knew their restaurant was. Ashilda hadn't messaged him on the crosstransceiver, though... he could go browse some of the shops in town, since they decided against packing anything fresh before they left.

A thought struck Saint: feeling listless is surprisingly difficult.

He tried walking around, ignoring the Plasma demonstrations that had been ongoing throughout the day in the centre of town, though it was honestly a bit intriguing to see the Plasma group in person.

They had been around for a couple years, but it'd be a lie if you said they had a heavy presence in the local news or media, even now. Online, their presence was similar, in the sense that they didn't make themselves known. But there were still people who knew, and talked about them. In the earliest days the extent of what people had to say were disparaging things about it as a subculture fad, or a cult-like organization, or whatever they decided it was.

But there were some people who were defensive of it, too. Saint remembered those times.

Now, there seemed to be unilateral disdain for the Plasma group after the exposé that some of the members of their group had stolen the family Pokémon of a fairly high profile businessman — though the members themselves had claimed to be working alone, outside of Plasma. Self-righteous extremists, they were now referred to as most frequently, who for some reason were not classified as a terrorist organization.

Saint struggled to articulate his own opinions on the matter to other people, though he had many.

He wasn’t very fond of Plasma, from methodology to ideology, but he didn’t think the overall reaction from society was appropriate either. Rather, when it seems like everyone unquestioningly agrees with the verdict presented, Saint thought maybe one person, at least, needed to question it.

Maybe, he thought, he should see what the demonstration was about. A majority of people were still unaware of them, after all. Not everyone kept up with the 24 hour news cycle.

Saint pushed down on the instinct to avoid a crowd, and made his way through the bodies of people standing rather casually around Accumula Centre Park's elevated gazebo. It seemed that whatever they were doing before — from what Saint read, their demonstrations were more like open gatherings or a meetup — was over, and now they were setting up flagpoles and a microphone.

Ashilda chose that moment to message him.

just finished dinner
were are you

Park

where*

Go left from the restaurant straight down the road
In front of the gazebo
Youll see it

ok


—​

‘So…’ Ashilda said, ‘Why are we here?’

Saint couldn’t hide his amusement at Ashilda and Cheren’s mirrored expressions of disinterest. Clearly, they weren’t nearly as interested in seeing what Plasma was doing as he was.

‘I thought it’d be good to take observations from a source you don’t usually come across,’ Saint told them vaguely.

‘What’s with that….’ Cheren complained, staring at the Plasma members standing eerily still around their — assumedly — rally leader. Saint had noticed a bit ago that they always spoke in polite monotone when spoken to by onlookers. He assumed they were members that actually held rank; not the usual overenthusiastic teenager you’d hear of on the news getting arrested.

‘Hmmm,’ Saint didn't look at either of them as he hummed, ‘Well, you don’t have to stick around. Especially you, Cheren. I’m not your guardian.’

Cheren pouted.

‘I told Bel I’d be with Ashilda so we could meet up after….’

It would be too easy to make a joke about Cheren’s declaration that the three of them were supposed to be serious rivals who couldn’t be hanging off each other’s arms like before, but Saint was an adult.

... And he wasn’t actually trying to drive the two of them away.

He was a little curious why Bel didn’t come with them in the first place, though. But Saint supposed it wasn’t his business.

Ashilda just shrugged. ‘I don’t really mind, I just think it looks dumb.’

A voice from the gazebo spoke to the crowd, drawing away their attention. It was the man Saint had pinned as the rally leader, by his manner of dress and position.

‘If everyone who graciously took the time out of their day to attend our demonstration would give me a moment of their time,’ He said, ‘I’d like to give a short speech before we begin to wrap up for the day. But before that, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make today possible.’

The crowd quieted as the man went on, rattling off a handful of names and thanking the township itself for allowing them this space today.

Saint did not have any investment in Plasma’s endeavours in that sense, nor did he care how they got such permission.

What did make him curious was the purposeful melodious affect that the man spoke with. Purposeful being the key word, in that Saint recognized that sort of vocal rhythm, as he’d taught himself the same sort of trick — a mask for his own frequently flat affect. Not quite singing, but a song to enrapture an audience nonetheless.

‘My name is Ghetsis.’ Is how the man introduced himself. ‘I am here as a representative of Plasma. For those of you who may not know, I am here to speak to you about Plasma’s mission: returning dignity back to the creatures we call Pokémon.’

Saint spared a glance at the teenagers beside him.

Cheren’s face screamed that Ghetsis’ words had thrown his hackles up already, meanwhile, Ashilda looked like she was watching a particularly boring movie.

‘If you wanted to put it in more simplistic terms, you could call it Pokémon liberation.’

Dignity and liberation. What hefty words to throw around so early into a speech, Saint thought.

‘Many of you may be confused,’ Ghetsis allowed, ‘It does not fit in with the current view of society to see Pokémon as beings trapped in bonds. We need Pokémon, and they need us, and so the two come together as partners. Yet, if this is true, what use is there in Pokéball? Why would a creature that needs us have to be bound to even stay with us? Why must we train a beast that we need so dearly?’

Saint noticed a bit belatedly that the man giving a speech to a fairly large crowd wore no microphone on his collar. Nor had he decided to use the standing mic that had been so kindly provided for him. Ghetsis’ voice still cut cleanly through the air.

And Saint had chosen to stand in the back of the crowd.

‘We need Pokémon because it is easy to ensnare a Pokémon’s heart. To say it is our partner and put it to work for us. Despite the magnificent capabilities of Pokémon, what do we ask them to do? To fight, to be our pets, to submit to our whimsical desires and dreams?’

Ghetsis raised a single arm out high as if to gesture to the crowd, as if asking them what they had to say for themselves.

‘Pokémon… are much, much different than humans. They are the reason humanity stopped its warring. They can cause great destruction and yet spring forth great life in ways people could never dream of. But we have only seen Pokémon accomplish such things in the eras where they were allowed to be monsters, and not another tool in humanity’s arsenal.’

There had been whispering in the crowd at multiple points up until now, but at this point, the world stood still and listened.


‘Is it right to continue on this path? Or is caging a wild beast the right decision — so long as it thinks its cage is all it has. That is the question I ask of you today.’

Ghetsis bowed his head.

‘We would like to sincerely thank you all for coming today. Your attention is invaluable.’

And Saint understood that Plasma’s demonstration in Accumula had ended.

Saint watched with disinterest as the Plasma members packed up their flags and equipment and various (leftover?) papers. He didn’t have anything that he wanted to see further, honestly. But he wanted to keep an ear out a little longer, see what Plasma’s civilian onlookers had to say.

Unfortunately, vaguely baffled reactions were not what he was hoping for. Saint supposed he had no right to be picky.

‘That was stupid,’ Cheren said abruptly. Ashilda tch’d in agreement with his verdict. Saint had to try really hard to hold down his laughter at the sudden remark. His face probably looked very grave right now.

‘Stupid, huh?’ Saint said offhandedly, trying to stay serious.

Ashilda furrowed her brows. ‘Well? What did you think of it, Saint? You’re the one who dragged us here.’

Saint did not resent the phrase “dragged us here”, even if it was factually wrong. He took a deep breath, exhaled, and turned to face the two teenagers beside him.

‘I wouldn’t say it was enlightening,’ Saint admitted, ‘But, hm, what would you two think if I said I understood his point?’

Ashilda rolled her eyes. Cheren took Saint’s words a bit more seriously, though, and seemed to consider it.

‘I’d ask why,’ Cheren answered honestly, ‘I don’t get what there is to understand. There’s always been people out there who think Pokémon are all poor and abused and can’t break out of their Pokéball if they want.’

Saint couldn’t help the smile at Cheren’s answer.

‘That’s exactly it. It’s not something to dismiss because I don’t think that was his point. Rather, I’m more interested in his question at the end,’ Saint’s smile fell, ‘But, I still feel like that man’s speech was... lacking. It might be that I just don’t agree with the conclusion he’s trying to lead people to, but it felt... irresponsible to leave it at that. But I suppose Plasma does have their own agenda, huh....’

Cheren looked exasperated. ‘If he’s wrong, then say he’s wrong.’

‘I still think it’s dumb,’ Ashilda spoke up for the first time, ‘But I don’t think that’s what Saint’s trying to say, Cheren.’

‘Alright,’ Cheren complied, ‘I guess I don’t have to get it.’

Saint’s expression softened, and he wanted to reply.

However, he couldn’t get another word in. Or rather, the words on his lips were instantly forgotten as he watched a man he hadn’t seen approach grab Ashilda’s sleeve to get her attention.

It wasn’t that strange for a trainer to challenge another in such an obtrusive manner. Rude, obviously, but trainers often weren’t sticklers for manners.

It was this strange man’s voice that stopped Saint in his tracks. Maybe because it was simply far more scattered and far less formal than the voice he had just been subjected to, but Saint was taken aback by how someone could speak so quickly in such an unusual rhythm. So much so that it took a moment for him to comprehend what he was even hearing.

‘Can you understand the words of your Pokémon as well? Just now— it was saying—’

  • If you have never had the chance to listen to Erlkönig or are unfamiliar with Goethe, I recommend listening to this version. There is an english translation very high up and easy to find in the comments.
  • PokéCentres are widely considered to be region-sponsored by the public, however, they provide a very specific and somewhat nebulous service that primarily provides for people who A) have Pokémon that require medical care B) have their only means of income rely on their Pokémon (ie. school-age co-op trainers, professional trainers, and rangers) C) may not have a permanent address due to this or spend at least half the year travelling. The healthcare aspect is publicly funded but the more hostel-oriented services are privately run and generally people are insured by their employer or the laboratory running the trainer co-op.
  • How does one sit on a Bronzong? Very uncomfortably. It’s not their fault.
  • Saint left his Xatu with Emerys at home because they just got home from his yearly Sinnoh internship and she gets distressed if she’s forced to continually move to new places more than that.
  • I’m personally not fond of mascot characters or talking animal movies or “a boy and his dog/fox/mouse” stories. Which might surprise some people, considering... Pokémon. Though for me, Pokémon are undeniably not human, nor animal, but “monsters”. Sure, they are sentient — and they have motivations and philosophies that animals fundamentally do not — but they are also not human. And yet, just like many monsters and spirits and such in myth/folklore, they can be very humane or very animalistic. This is what I think about when I write scenes with Pokémon.
  • So this may not come as any surprise, but Team Plasma is an extremely interesting part of BW/B2W2 to me, both narratively and meta-narratively! I admit that I frequently felt that BW’s localization (and at times the inherent nature of The Pokémon Company’s game writing itself) made it frustrating to explain what I found so compelling, as many people seemed so underwhelmed or annoyed by the driving narrative because of it, but I also think it’s because Team Plasma puts people on edge and makes them immediately defensive that shows how effective their writing really was.
  • To me, the overarching Plasma plot represents how the core mechanics the game was built on became more and more at odds with the image of the franchise over the years — and the game developers deciding to throw the entire basis of their game series into question to reckon with that.
  • That is to say that IMO the point of BW wasn’t to point an accusatory finger at the player and say, how dare you play this game the way its mechanically set up to be played. Nor does it dismiss, I think, any of the potential in-universe ethical concerns.
  • To put it in the context of this chapter, the point is humans have been bad to Pokémon before. It’s all canon — in the previous games, there’s often subplots of Pokémon that have died because of humans or been mistreated by them. But deeper than that, why are humans even able to be bad to Pokémon on such a terrible scale? Because they can catch them, become their ‘trainer’, and use them against others? Is it morally sound to put a sentient being (whose language you can not speak 99.9% of the time) under another’s control, even if you promise to treat it really, really well? Is it ethical to hold that power in the first place?
  • And if someone who could speak the language of those beings said it was better for them to be released, would you listen to that person?
  • The answer the game outright gives to the player is that there is no single right answer to any of these questions. Or rather, that you should take a deeper interest in all the different ways a person could take that discussion. And to do the least amount of harm possible to each other (and to our Pokémon, in this fictional setting), we have to listen and learn from one another and keep up that dialogue, rather than making up our mind on the spot and ending the discussion there.
  • Because it is, as they say, not all black and white. (badum—) But, hey, N’s only getting his real introduction (not clickbait I swear) next chapter.

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Alba Corbina

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
581
Caught
Jul 26, 2019
Messages
104
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Dark, Fairy
Der Erlkonig is one of my favorite classical pieces (and I love the version you linked)! Is that title supposed to be a reference to Ghetsis?

Poor Ashilda's gotten so banged up from Pokemon catching.

How does one sit on a Bronzong? Very uncomfortably. It’s not their fault.
Hey, a Bronzong has arms, right? It can kind of awkwardly carry her...probably.

I really liked that little paragraph from N's POV. I can't wait to meet him properly next chapter.
 

Nebbles

i cannot be contained
Writer
Pokédex No.
1139
Caught
Dec 3, 2019
Messages
193
Location
not in the bag
Nature
Lax
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Ghost, Cute
Pokédex Entry
This Pokemon discusses Fire Emblem at great lengths, and writes about it as well. She is always open to talk about it with others, and is friendly.
oooh, i'm entranced by the art, and your writing style is lovely to match! i'm very interested to see how you continue to write ghetsis and n down the line.
 

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