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Thread Description
An Omega Ruby Navlocke | Updates Fridays

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.

Sometimes in order to move forward, you have to look back. Or at least that’s what Latios says. So when the latest in a series of catastrophes sets her adrift, Ren tries to square with her demons and everything else, good and bad, that led her to this tipping point and plunged her over the edge.

Ren’s story, as she tells it, is about love in all its many forms and permutations. How it soured and broke her, how it warmed and healed her, how it inspired and drove her, and how it’s carried her through—and may well again before the end.

This is a story created from an OmegaRuby Navlocke (although I made up the catch rules before I knew what a navlocke was). I originally conceived of it as a comic, but knew that wasn’t feasible with the amount of time I was spending on public transit, so I decided to write a script in case I ever had time to draw later on. I also decided to make it a writing challenge and published the entire 300,000+ word original version in a year flat.

That’s right! For those of you that don’t know, this is a revamp of my first nuzlocke! The original script version helped me immensely with my drafting and writing in general, so I owe it a lot and am still very fond of it despite the flaws. So my plan for this prose revamp is essentially a repeat of my original writing challenge to hopefully boost my redrafting and editing skills in the same way. I don’t know if I can manage in it in a year like last time (especially since I’m juggling two other runs atm) but that’s the goal! Wish me luck!
  1. If a pokemon faints, it is dead and must be boxed for the rest of the run
  2. Only catch the first hidden pokemon that appears in an area. If it runs away or faints, or a random encounter ambushes, no pokemon for that area.
    • No repeats and repeats do not count as first encounters
    • Can catch any shiny pokemon encountered at any time
    • HM assistants allowed but can only be used in battle if they are legal catches
  3. All pokemon must have names
  4. No using legendary pokemon
  5. Items can only be used outside of battle
  6. Battles are SET instead of SWITCH
Humans
(portraits make in Sangled's picrew!)





Pokemon











Ren and Taraki by Protocol00 -- Check out his awesome nuzlocke here and jump on those commissions when they open!


Ren and Taraki by Elly -- Not a nuzlocker but a pokemon fan and awesome artist! You can check out this link if you want to commission her yourself.


Akahata and Maia by Ash Wood whose work you can check out here.


Taraki, Iki, Putenga, and Panahi. Lines by Ash Wood, and flat colors by yours truly.


Ren and team by Lovelle! You should check out their nuzlocke comic Leave It Behind!
 
Last edited:

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #2
It’s been two years to the day since finished the original Running Hot and three years since I started posting it and I’m so glad to be back! I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and now I finally have! I'm so excited to finally come back to all of these characters and see how much I’ve learned. I know y’all missed the first round, so I hope you enjoy the new version.

And huge thanks to my two beta readers @Manifold and @MouseWithADinosaurTail ! This is quite a challenge and I'm so grateful for all of your help and support!

Read on AO3 or below!
Ren wakes in a cold sweat. Her head sways unsteadily with disorientation, her breath comes in gasps, and her heartbeat thrums in her ears. She touches her face and chokes back a cry, forces herself to breathe steadily now that she is no longer drowning.

She throws the sheet aside and slides off the top bunk, picking her way carefully around sleeping bodies and out into the hall. She pads silently through the Pokemon Center and staggers out into the night. It is still dark, but the moon is bright enough to see by as she leaves the hazy glow of street lamps and wanders across the fields.

The city fades behind her as she plunges heedlessly into the forest. She wends between the trees, arms outstretched to guide her through the dense dark beneath the canopy. Twigs crack under bare feet. Rough bark meets fingertips and brush drags at skin.

She stumbles into a clearing and her feet soon become soaked to her ankles in the wet grass. She stops. This is far enough—lonely enough.

Latios melts into the air beside her. He floats there for a moment, a being of aetherium unbound by gravity, before stretching out his hind wings and touching down on the turf. He flaps his forewings before settling them at his sides and leans forward ever so slightly so that his forepaws rest on the ground. Ren has never seen him sit before. Suddenly he has weight and physicality. Resting on the earth, he is a creature of flesh and bone like any other rather than an immortal god.

It’s comforting, in its own way, but also profoundly terrifying. They are balanced at the edge of a cliff with the wind at their backs and very soon now they'll have to jump.

“I thought we’d be able to stop it… I didn’t think they could get to me.”

Nor did I, he says in her head. She is struck again by just how vast his mind feels, enveloping her in its ceaseless flowing, but after Kyogre’s pull, it is a welcome reprieve.

But despite the tearing of every last defense, the starkness had revealed something new: a sense of connection that not even that first touch had given her. So maybe there was something left.

“Why did you choose me?”

I thought you didn’t care about that.

“I thought so too, but now…” She takes a long breath. The night air is cool but not cold, misty but not an ocean of water crushing her beneath its weight. It soothes her throat in preparation for the fire. “I blew things sky high and everyone’s acting like it’s fine! But it’s not fine! I shouldn’t get off the hook for this just because I’m your partner! It was my screw-up!” She moves to pull at her hair and it’s like missing a stair when her fingers meet nothing but an inch of fuzz. She covers her face instead and ingrains the contours of the scar that has swallowed it into her palm. She can feel he has turned to look at her now, so she lowers her hands but stares off into the dark woods. “I know it’s done and we have to move forward. I want to trust that we can, but I’m having a hard time of it.”

You must trust yourself first.

“Yeah, well, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that.” It’s too short—too final. It shouldn’t be.

I know, he says gently. She’s still surprised by it after how acerbic he was on their first meeting.

“I just thought it might help if I knew why—if I knew there was some reason for all of this.”

I do not believe in fate.

She laughs. She has to. “Don’t get me wrong, that’s a big relief, in a way, just not what I was expecting from a god of cycles. You’re all about patterns. You’ve seen this all before, repeating over and over again.”

Yes. But you forget, among the gods, only my sibling and I grow, age, and die. Each time I am born, I am not quite the same as I was in my last life. I am always changing, just as the world is ever-changing. I make choices that alter the course of things, be it the world or only myself. I partnered with you because the cycle is threatened, because it can be broken. We are no more destined to fail than we are to succeed. So I do not believe that fate brought you to me.

“But you still had a reason,” Ren presses.

I did and I have told you several of them.

“So that’s it?”

She expects a yes or a graceful dip of his head, but he is still and quiet and looks off into the trees for almost as long as she can take.

There is one criterion that I have not mentioned before. Not only must my partner be willing to risk their own life, but also those of their pokemon, or rather, allow their pokemon to risk their own lives. This is harder. And such willingness cannot be born of ignorance. In other words, I would never ask this undertaking of a trainer who didn’t… know the cost.

The pain coils in her chest so tight that it turns her lungs to wood and the fire burns them.

“Do you think someone else will die?” she asks, quiet and even so as not to choke on the smoke in her throat.

Nothing is certain. It’s difficult not to grow frustrated with his platitudes, but she doesn’t know what she wanted him to say… And he’s right. But that means that you may yet pull them through this. Know that I will protect them to the best of my ability.

“I didn’t think that was your area of expertise.” It comes out the way she meant it this time and the weight lifts just a little.

Sometimes offense is the best defense. Wouldn’t you agree? And she can feel the wry smile in it to match her own.

She finally looks at him and his deep red eyes meet hers. Her hand lifts almost on its own and she catches herself just before it makes contact. But he leans into her touch rather than pulling away and she tunnels her fingers into the fur of his neck. It’s soft and dense and the skin beneath is warm.

“Thank you.”

He unfurls his wing ever so slightly to nudge her with his shoulder. You are strong, Ren, in many ways. And your losses are not why I chose you. They do not define you. I saw something else, something singular.

“Well, are you going to tell me, or is it some big secret?” she teases.

We are soul-bonded. There are no secrets between us. But you may not like the answer.

They were past that. “I still want to know.”

Very well. Why did you become a trainer?

Her hand fists in his fur. “Is this whole answer going to be more questions?”

You don’t like being told things.

“Got me there.”

There is value in coming to one’s own conclusions. Her face wrinkles on one side and he nudges her with his wing shoulder. You became a trainer for your pokemon, correct?

“Yes, but it’s not as simple as that.”

Then explain it to me.

She cocks her head and gives him her now lopsided skeptical expression. “You want my life story?”

Speaking as someone who has seen it, I think there is much to be learned.

She sighs. “Alright. This is going to be a long night.”
 
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MouseWithADinosaurTail

A Comedian At Heart
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
1,464
Location
Snubbville
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
She's like a sea urchin. Tough and prickly on the outside, but delicate and easily wounded if hit the wrong way. Please handle gently.
YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSS!!! I AM VERY HAPPY TO SEE RUNNING HOT FINALLY ARRIVE ON THE SCENE! I know how hard you've been working on this rewrite, and I'm so happy to say that so far, it's coming out AMAZING! This prologue is such a good hook!!! I'm eager to see what happens (or rather, what's happened) to Ren on her journey. Her relationship with Latios is so intriguing. Im excited for more!

A fantastic job as always, Zephyr!
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
209
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
Your writing is hypnotic and I’m heavily into it. Great start, probably one of the best prologues I’ve read on here. I’m writing an ORAS fic myself so always eager to read other people’s takes!
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
aaaaahhhhhhh I'm so excited for this!!! I love the prologue, I love Ren's bond with Latios already, and I'm really looking forward to hearing her story!
 

SayleeK

Conqueror of the Saffron Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
68
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
I've been thinking of reading Running Hot for a while, but never got to reading the script. So I'm pretty excited to see it appearing in story form! Can't wait to find out how Ren's life came to THIS!
 

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
Not quite Friday but close enough! I had a very hectic week and tried to edit this chapter on my phone, an experiment I don't think I'll be repeating. It great for drafting but much to tedious and small for me to really look at things. As with Tightrope I've put character sheets in the OP, but this time I did some custom sprites for the end of the chapter.

Thank you all for the warm reception!

AO3

@MouseWithADinosaurTail AAAaaaaaa! Thank you! I loved the original scriptlocke and wanted to do it justice and I’m so happy with how it’s working out so far!

@Rhema ORAS SQUAD! ORAS SQUAD! And thank you so much! I’ve never really written a prologue before, or felt like I needed one, but this time the idea for it became the whole crux of the story.

@cyndakip I’m excited too! One of the failings of the first version was not involving the gods enough so I’m very happy to have found a nice way to fix that angle.

@SayleeK Well that could be a while because this is what the kids call a slow burn but hopefully the journey there is entertaining! (And I still can't believe we share one brain. I'm so excited for the new After Armageddon!)
Ren jolted awake but it was just the motion of the car. She slowly pulled her feet off the dashboard and stretched in what little space was left between the boxes. The hum of the wheels changed pitch as the car crossed a bridge over a broad estuary at high tide. Wingulls floated in the water and perched on driftwood while red and yellow shadows swam beneath the surface.

How long was I asleep?” Ren asked.

Not too long, maybe an hour,” her mother answered from the driver’s seat. “We’re almost there. And Anglic, please.”

“Right. I’m sorry, Okāsan. I was supposed to keep you company.”

“It’s fine, Renko. You needed the rest, and the drive has been very pretty.” She glanced over at her daughter. “Are you nervous at all? I know this is… much to ask of you.”

“…I guess a bit,” Ren admitted. “I mean, I haven’t even seen the house.”

“It’s very nice! You will love your room. The region is beautiful, and the town is lovely. Maybe you could work in the lab for a time while you sort things out…” She trailed off when she noticed that Ren had returned to staring out the window. “I want you to know that your father and I are grateful for how well you’re taking this. You’ve been such a big help, even if you may not be as excited as we are.”

“Aw, Okāsan, no one could hope to be as excited as you,” Ren teased, flashing her mother a reassuring smile. “I think it’ll be fun!”

“I think you put on a brave face for us. You are allowed to feel however you want about this.”

There was no use in denying it, so Ren took a deep breath before responding, settling her hands into her lap. “I just graduated. It’s a good time to pull up roots.” Ren fixed a smile on her face. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to visit Hoenn. I’m pretty hyped. And we’ll get to see Otōsan all the time. This is so awesome for you two!” She squeezed her mother’s shoulder. “Try not to worry so much.”

When you asked if I wanted your life’s story, I rather thought you would begin it earlier. There are a number of formative incidents during your childhood you could have chosen.

“I thought you wanted to know the story of why I decided to become a trainer, not why I decided not to be.”

We both know it goes back further.

“I—Well—I’ll get back to them when they become relevant.”


Late in the afternoon, Ren sprawled on her bed, taking in her new room. The ceiling sloped with the roof and the beams were left uncovered. She stared upward with her arms behind her head and thought about stringing up a hammock between them.

Asuka popped her head in the open door.

“How’s it going, Renko?”

She gave her mother a thumbs up without looking over.

“I am going to the Birch’s house to help Nikau,” Asuka continued. “I was hoping you could stop by the lab and gently remind Prof. Birch that we are having dinner together. I think he is like your father and gets very wrapped up in his work.”

Hai,” Ren responded distantly, still staring at the beams above her.

Asuka lingered for a moment, studying Ren’s face, then left. Ren caught up with her on her way out the door and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Her mother smiled and turned towards the neighbor’s house while Ren headed down her new driveway to the road.

She walked along the main road through the small town, if it could even be called that. It was more a collection of houses and a general store than a proper hamlet. Still, it was charming in it own way. There were flowers in front of almost every house and lots of modest vegetable gardens.

Littleroot Labs was by far the largest building and starkly modern in contrast to the quaint houses, so it was easy to find. But Prof. Birch wasn’t there. He couldn’t be reached on his nav but apparently wore a tracker when doing fieldwork. One of his grad students, Angela, pinged it for her, and it showed that he wasn’t far out of town close to Trainer Route 101, so Ren decided to go.

Like many of the trainer routes in Johto, the path quickly diverged from the road, which made it feel wild and quiet, a far cry from the suburbs of Kogane. It was old too, packed hard, winding and natural, but overgrown where it ambled out of the trees into a great grassy meadow. Most of the wild Zigzagoons, Taillows and Wurmple scurried away at the sight of her, but a few paused to look her over before fleeing or just ignored her altogether.

Ren was watching a Taillow catch a dragonfly in the warm evening sun when she heard a cry. She couldn’t see the source, but it sounded distressed, so she ran towards it and nearly tripped over a shoulder bag in the tall grass. She picked it up and kept running.

She found Prof. Birch on the ground with an angry Poochyena viciously shaking his pant leg. It was almost comical at first, seeing such a broad, strapping man at the mercy of something so small, but the peril was real. The Bite force of a pokemon with jaws and teeth like that could crack bone.

“Hey!”

The Poochyena eyed her for a second, then continued savaging the professor’s pant leg. Ren took a step forward to stop it, but Prof. Birch yelled at her.

“Don’t! I have pokemon!” He tried kicking at the enraged Poochyena to no avail. “In my bag—hurry—AHH!” He screamed as the as the Poochyena tugged harder.

Ren thrust her arm into the bag, pulled out a pokeball, and threw it, catching it easily as it bounced back from the recoil of releasing the pokemon inside. The red light formed into a Treecko that barely took a second to survey the situation before charging the Poochyena and smacking it in the face with his tail.

The Poochyena rolled off, and Prof. Birch scrambled back. The Treecko planted himself between them and hissed. The wild snarled back and charged. He dodged smartly, but when he looked back at Birch for instructions, the Poochyena landed Bite and the Treecko flinched, leaving himself wide open for a Tackle.

“Oh, ah, Pound!” Birch ordered belatedly.

The Treecko obeyed, swinging his tail at the Poochyena, but the wild pokemon caught it in its teeth and flipped its opponent with a heave. The Treecko landed heavily on his back, winded.

“Leer?” Birch ventured.

The Treecko fixed the Poochyena with glowing golden eyes. The wild pokemon shook it off and lunged again, and the Treecko clumsily shoved it aside. Birch still didn’t even have the presence of mind to stand as the Poochyena chased his Treecko around. Ren watched for another moment before her face set and she stepped forward.

“You are faster than that thing!” she yelled to the Treecko. “Wait for it to charge, then dodge and use Pound!”

The Treecko’s eyes flashed to hers, then he tensed, waiting. When the Poochyena sprang, and the Treecko jumped over it, flipped in midair, and brought his tail down on the Poochyena’s head, slamming it into the ground. The Treecko landed gracefully just behind it.

“That’s it!” Ren yelled encouragingly.

The Poochyena got up and shook its head. The Treecko squared off with it on all fours, tail waggling.

“To the side this time!” Ren called, pointing for emphasis.

The Treecko dove towards the Poochyena’s tail and spun as the Poochyena wheeled around, teeth bared. His tail connected heavily with the Poochyena’s side, sending it rolling away with a wheeze.

“Now hit its back!”

Before the wild pokemon could get to its feet, he leapt up and brought his tail down on the Poochyena’s spine.

“Yes!” Ren cried, eyes alight.

“I was so obvious to everyone but me, wasn’t I?”

Yes. Especially to him.
The Poochyena shuddered, trying to stand, and Ren’s expression turned serious once more. “Pin its head and look it in the eye. You’ve won this fight. Let it know.”

The Treecko did as instructed, snorting into the Poochyena’s face as he pinned its muzzle to the ground with a hand. The Treecko held the Poochyena’s gaze until it looked away. He let it up slowly, and it slunk off with a whine.

“Great job!” said Ren.

The Treecko turned to look up at her in wonder and grinned broadly back. With the battle over, she realized just how striking he was—a light grass green with bright red stripes across his back, a pale belly, and a vivid blue tail. He also glimmered faintly in the dimming sun from a sprinkling of gold scales across his body that almost made her think he was a shiny.

“You okay?” Ren asked him.

He nodded vigorously, but his golden eyes stayed fixed on her even as she turned to check on the professor. She offered Birch a hand and pulled him up.

“Are you alright, professor?”

“Yes, just a bit shaken up.” He took a few deep breaths and patted his pants and coat. “I must admit this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten myself into trouble with a wild. Thank you for saving my neck, or should I say my leg. You must be Ren.”

“Once again, my reputation precedes me.”

“It certainly does!” Birch said with a smile. “You look a lot like your father. You battle like him too. Should have expected as much, I suppose.” His brow furrowed a little. “Only, I thought Senri said you weren’t a trainer?”

“I’m not, but I’ve been to trainer school, and I used to practice with Otōsan.”

Birch nodded. “You’re very good. I’m a terrible trainer as you’ve probably noticed. I always just panic and blurt out the first move that comes to mind, even when my leg isn’t in danger.” He straightened out his sleeves.

“Well,” Ren said carefully, “you are really good at your job.” She handed him his bag. “I’ve read of few of your papers. You do great work.”

“Thank you! And thank you again for the help.” He rummaged through his bag, pulled out a potion, and sprayed the Treecko, who shook, looking refreshed. “There you go. Thanks, bud.” He turned back to Ren. “I better get home. I was supposed to help my wife with dinner like a good husband for once.” He pulled out his device and tried to make a call. “Still not picking up,” he muttered to himself, then turned back to Ren. “I hate to ask a favor when you just saved me, but do you think you could fetch my son for me? His name is Kai. He should be just north of here on Route 103.”

“Sure thing. Don’t worry about it.”

“Thank you so much! Hey, why don’t you take this Treecko with you? It can get a bit rough out here and you two seem to get along.”

Ren looked down at the Treecko, who wagged his tail twice.

“Will you be alright, professor?

“Yes! I still have a pokemon, and it’s not far.” He handed her the Treecko’s pokeball. “Dinner probably won’t be for a while anyway. We have to wait for Senri. So you two have fun. It was a pleasure meeting you, Ren. I’ll see you soon!”

“Nice meeting you! Take care!” Ren called after him as he hurried back towards town. She looked down at the Treecko. “Ready to go?”

The Treecko nodded excitedly and climbed right up to her shoulder as if she were a tree. She laughed.

They hiked onwards into the woods but before long she could smell salt on the air as she and the estuary wandered closer to each other.

Slanted light gave away a clearing just off the path and they pressed through the brambles towards it at the Treecko’s insistence. A young man about Ren’s age was sitting next to a deep, round pool at the clearing’s center, talking to a Torchic and a Zigzagoon. The young man was broad and heavyset like Prof. Birch but had darker, nut-brown skin like Nikau, and the hair poking out from under his white beanie was straight and a good deal less sun-bleached than Birch’s unruly curls. Ren felt fairly certain she had found the right person.

“Really?” he asked his pokemon excitedly, scrawling something rapidly in his notebook. “Could you ask if she’s seen any recently, or maybe what time of year she's seen them?”

His Torchic nodded and back to the Zigzagoon, who was nibbling on something. They conversed for a minute in cheeps and coos and then the Torchic twittered back to him.

“That’s great!” he exclaimed. “We’ll have to keep coming back here for a while to see if we can confirm. Thank her for me, would you, Jay?”

The Torchic turned back to the Zigzagoon, but it had obviously spotted Ren and picked up its food before scurrying away into the bushes. The young man and Torchic looked up simultaneously, and he grinned brightly.

“Hi there!”

“Hi, I’m Ren Kosugi.”

She offered her hand. He took it, and they shook before she pulled him up.

“I’m Kai, and this is Jay. It’s nice to meet you. Are you a trainer?”

“No—” Ren began, but she was interrupted by the Treecko’s gurgling.

The Torchic chirped loudly at Kai and he looked down at her, then back up at Ren.

“Your Treecko says you are.”

“I already said I’m not,” Ren muttered quietly to the Treecko. “And he’s not my—”

The Torchic interrupted this time with an excited cheep.

Kai looked down at her. “Are you sure that’s Dad’s—” He looked back up at Ren. “Wait, did you say your name was Kosugi?”

“Yeah.”

“So you must be Senri’s kid!” he babbled. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t—I didn’t expect—I mean, I guess I just thought you were a guy?” He trailed off uncertainty.

“I’m not,” Ren said flatly.

“I guess so—I mean, obviously,” Kai corrected hurriedly, face flushing. He laughed awkwardly, suddenly unable to meet her eyes.

Ren’s impressively thick eyebrows met in irritation as she tried to work out what that was all supposed to mean, but after a moment she decided to move past it.

“It’s fine. Your father sent me and the Treecko to bring you back for dinner.”

“Oh, right, geez. I’m sorry about that. I turned off my nav because the notifications kept spooking my subjects,” Kai explained.

“I wanted to look around anyway,” Ren assured him. “We should head back though. It’s getting late.”

“Yeah.”

Ren started walking but Kai lingered for a moment before jumping to follow her. They jostled through the bushes at the edge of the clearing and Kai stayed quiet, clearly too embarrassed to make further conversation.

Not the best first impression for someone you dote on so extremely.

“No, but I never really had the opportunity to get to know someone like him—someone like me—back in Johto. And I’m very glad I took the chance.”
Ren sighed to herself and took the initiative. “So you’re a trainer?”

“Yeah!” He perked up for a moment before getting quieter again and looking away. “I only just started.”

“But you can already understand your Torchic? That’s pretty cool.”

“Thanks! She’s the best.” Jay headbutted his leg affectionately, and he grinned at her. Ren watched them out of the corner of her eye and smiled a bit herself. “It was really awesome to actually speak with a pokemon after waiting practically my entire life…” There was another beat of silence after he went quiet, so Ren tried prompting him again.

“Do you help your father with his research a lot?”

“Yeah,” he said, smiling again. “I sort of grew up doing it, but now that I’m old enough, I’m an official research assistant. And because I have my own pokemon, I can do field work, which is the fun part. Jay’s really smart. She’s always helping me find rare variants and interview wilds. Like back there, that Zigzagoon was telling us it saw Rosy Wingull on that pond! Normally they don’t come this far west.”

Kai continued to babble excitedly about his work, and Ren allowed herself a small smile of satisfaction. The sun fell into the trees, scattering warm color across their trunks. The Treecko hopped down off her shoulder to walk next to the Torchic. He burbled animatedly, and she peeped quietly back as they went. By the time the four of them reached Littleroot, the sun had set, and Kai guided them back to his house by the lights pouring softly from the windows.



The two families and their pokemon stayed around the table long after dinner was finished. Senri sat on one end, tilting back in his chair with his wife and daughter on either side. Ren was seated next to Kai. She had one arm on the table so she could see past him to the other end, where Prof. Birch was telling the story of his rescue, gesticulating wildly for emphasis. All laughed as he nearly fell out of his chair in the re-enactment.

“And I’m blithering out inane commands like an idiot, so of course my poor Treecko is getting his ass kicked—no offense, bud—and I’m just panicking even more. But then Ren steps in—thank Arceus—and starts telling my Treecko what to do. It worked instantly!” He snapped to convey the speed. “They had the wild literally beaten into the ground in less than a minute. I’ve never seen anyone turn a battle like that before. And this Poochyena already knew Bite, so it was no slouch. I mean, that should have been a tough battle even without the rocky start!”

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Senri said, grinning. He made brief eye contact with his daughter, and she shot him an irritated look in return “She’s always been a natural.”

The Treecko chose this moment to climb up Ren and rest his head on hers, standing on her shoulders for support. She stopped glaring at her father and lowered her other elbow to the table, resting her head in her hands to make the position more comfortable. All were quiet for a moment, watching the pair smile at each other.

“What do you say to taking that Treecko off my hands?”

“Ehh!—really?” Ren responded with an embarrassed start.

“He’s a bit of a handful,” Birch admitted, “but he seems to like you already.” He had to stifle a laugh because the Treecko, who was clearly not following the conversation, had grabbed hold of Ren’s head so that he could nuzzle it with full force, thoroughly mussing her smooth, black hair.

“What do you say, Shima?” Ren asked the Treecko from under the hair coming loose around her face. The Treecko froze, eyes blowing wide. “Would you like to be my pokemon?”

The Treecko bounced ecstatically for a moment before leapfrogging over her head and landing on the table in front of her. He whirled around to face her, knocking over an empty glass with his tail and nodding frantically, whole body quivering with excitement.

“Well I guess you are then,” said Ren with a big smile.

The Treecko did a somersault, which sent some silverware flying, then jumped into her arms and nuzzled at her neck. After a moment, she put him back down on the table.

“Are you going to battle him?” Senri asked, grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m not—” Ren began defensively but snorted mid-sentence because the Treecko was furiously waggling his eyebrow ridges at her.

“He’s been around humans for a while now. He’s picked up a few things,” Prof. Birch explained, chuckling a little.

“Is that what you are going to call him?” Senri asked. “Stripes?

“I’ll think of something better!” Ren retorted with a flush of red around her ears.

“Do you think you could do me another favor?” Birch asked.

“Sure!” Ren answered belatedly, still a little pink.

“I know you haven’t decided what you’re going to do yet, but would you take one of my pokedexes and log the pokemon you see whenever you’re out?”

“That’s hardly a favor, Birch-san. I’d love to have a pokedex.”

“Great. You can come by the lab and pick one up tomorrow then. And you can call me Alan. We’re all friends here.”

“Of course, Alan,” Ren says, smiling. “Thank you.”

The Treecko climbed back up on Ren’s shoulder, while Jay hopped up and nestled herself between Kai’s arms on the table. Ren could feel everyone looking at her and tried not to hunch her shoulders.

“Thank you so much for helping us unpack, Nikau,” Asuka said and Ren threw her a grateful look.

“Of course! Turned out to be no trouble, anyway. We barely even needed the Machoke with Ren there.”

Ren flexed nonchalantly, so that it almost looked like a stretch, and the other two women laughed.

“Yes, Renko has always been quite the hard worker,” said Asuka with a smile and Senri grinned. He shifted to face his daughter, draping his arm over the back of his wife’s chair to view her more directly.

“So are you going to train him at all?” he asked, still grinning. “Seems like he has a battler’s temperament. You may want to register just in case.”

“I’ll think about it,” Ren grumbled and turned immediately to Kai. “So Kai, are you working on your own project, or is the research you’re doing for one of your dad’s projects?”

Kai leaned back a little to put a bit more space between them, but seemed happy enough to answer. Senri smiled and pet his Vigoroth’s head as he watched Kai and his daughter talk. Alan got up and started clearing the dishes away. The Vigoroth was happy to eat the leftover scraps off the plates while the Ursaring napped in the corner, snoring softly.



The next day the Treecko tried to help Ren unpack, but mostly he wound up bouncing around and climbing all over the walls with his sticky toe pads. Ren calmly moved things out of his way as she went along and tossed him a rubber band ball she found in one of her boxes.

When she was satisfied with the progress in her own room, the pair headed downstairs and helped Ren’s mother put away the dishes and other kitchen things. Asuka unwrapped and directed while Ren filled the lower cabinets and the Treecko placed things on the shelves too high for the women to reach.

They all took a break for lunch and after they were finished, Ren noticed the Treecko staring out the window, foot tapping absently on the sill.

“Hey, Okāsan, I think we are going to head out for a bit.”

“Of course, Renko,” her mother responded placidly over her shoulder. “Thank you for the help.”

The Treecko bounded ahead of her on Route 101. It was warm in the sun, but still a little cool beneath the trees. She wondered if every spring here would be so mild.

The Treecko went rigid and tugged at Ren’s jacket.

“What’s up?”

The Treecko pointed at the Wurmple crawling out onto the path ahead of them, then planted a fist in his other hand with an audible smack.

“I’ve told you twice I’m not a trainer,” said Ren. “I’m serious.”

The Treecko just waggled his tail, grinning at her and she sighed.

“I know you think it’s fun, but’s dangerous because we’re not registered. Do you understand?” There was no recognition in his eyes. “A real trainer can take you to a Pokemon Center if something goes wrong. And I’m not even sure I really want to…” She trailed off as he gestured eagerly at the Wurmple again, which had turned to face them. It raised its hindquarters in obvious challenge. Ren’s expression softened for a moment and she straightened up.

“Alright, go get ’em, Shima!”

Ren braced as the Treecko vaulted off her shoulder and landed in front of the Wurmple. His feet had barely hit the ground when the wild pokemon String Shotted him in the face, and he staggered back.

“Keep your cool. Listen for it,” Ren instructed.

The Treecko crouched, eyes closed, and the Wurmple shifted, readying its stinger.

“It’s gonna try and sting you! Hit it with your left!”

The Treecko aimed a punch with his left hand and hit home. He used the contact to grab the Wurmple and flip it, quickly hopping on top of it. He held it down until it stopped struggling, then let it up, turning back to Ren as it slipped away into the underbrush.

“Masterful job, Shima! Hold still,” she said, smiling.

She kneeled down and peeled the silk off his face. His golden eyes blinked open and he grinned, looking satisfied. He climbed back aboard and they headed off again.

“And that went on for days. We helped unpack in the mornings, and then he’d drag me out every afternoon on a walk and challenge every wild pokemon he saw.”

Why didn’t you tell him no?

“You know why.”

Do I?

“Because it’s in my blood, in my bone marrow. Because I love it.”


“Try not to jump around as much this time. These Zigzagoons are pretty good at getting you in the gut.”

He nodded, bounding forward as the Zigzagoon crouched, tail erect in challenge.

“And watch for the front claws!” she called as the Treecko dived at his opponent. “They’ll do a lot more damage. Try to get around back!”

He did as instructed, stopping just out of range as the Zigzagoon swiped at him, and jumped to the side instead. The two pokemon traded blows for a while and the Treecko started flagging, sides heaving as he panted. He didn't have the stamina to win the long game.

“Get some distance and use Absorb!” Ren commanded.

The Treecko backflipped, hitting the Zigzagoon’s nose with his tail and launched a ball of green energy as it recoiled. It staggered as its energy was sapped away and the Treecko wagged his tail.

“One more!” Ren called.

This time the Zigzagoon collapsed and the Treecko stood tall, looking exceedingly pleased.

“Great job, Shima!”

She crouched and they high-fived, grinning. Ren pulled some jerky out of her shoulder bag and placed it in front of the Zigzagoon. It got to its paws and took the offering cautiously before slinking away just as Kai and Jay emerged from the grass behind Ren.

“You really are a good battler,” Kai said in wonder.

She whipped her head around and then tucked her hair behind her ear in an attempt to look a little less startled. “Thanks,” she murmured.

“How come you two are out here fighting wilds?” Kai asked.

“It was his idea,” Ren said, jerking her thumb at the Treecko. He puffed up with pride and Kai’s Torchic tittered. Ren looked down. “I mean, we shouldn’t be, but he really likes battling. He gets so damn excited…”

Kai wet his lips and his hand flexed slowly, pinky to pointer. “Maybe it’s not my place, but when I saw you two battling just now, it looked… right? Like you’d been doing it for a long time already. And, well, it looked like you were having fun.”

Ren shifted and grabbed her arm—she couldn't help it. Kai paused again, confusion taking over his expression. She let go, but still rubbed at it a little, unable to meet his eyes.

“It hurt. It always does.”

Even now?

“Yes. Even now.”
Jay chirped at her. Ren blinked, not understanding what the Torchic wanted and looked to Kai for a translation.

“Jay says you should do what makes you happy, what feels right, and not worry so much.”

“I just realized I owe Jay a lot.”

How so?

“No one had put it to me quite that way before. Everyone else was concerned with what I wanted or what was best for me. But how was I supposed to know that when everything was pulling me both ways? How could I decide? She made it simple. And I’ve been trying to follow that advice ever since, to follow my instincts moment to moment and trust that they’ll lead me well.”
Ren’s face brightened a little and she smiled at Kai and then his Torchic. “Smart cookie.”



Later that night, Ren lay on her bed with her Treecko resting on her chest. She pulled a hand out from under her head and laid it gently on her Treecko’s back. He opened his eyes and looked at her.

“So I’ve been thinking… how do you feel about ‘Tāraki’?—as a name, I mean.”

He scooched up and booped her nose with his snout.

She laughed. “So is that a yes?”

He nodded and flopped his head down on her collarbone.

“Okay, Tāraki, I’ve also been thinking about what we’re going to do, you know?”

He rumbled against her.

“It’s obvious to me that you really want to be a battler. And I know I’ve been, um, sending mixed signals about whether or not I want to be a trainer. I really do like battling with you, but I…” She trailed off and sighed.

“I should have told him then.”

He knows now.
“The point is… I’m willing to train you.”

His head snapped up, eyes boring into hers.

“I mean, I’d be happy to train you. We can even challenge a gym if you want, I just can’t promise we’ll take the League Challenge or anything right now, okay?”

Ren spluttered as he launched himself at her neck, hugging her tight and rubbing his head roughly against her cheek. She giggled, trying to gently push him away.

“Tāraki!”

But he was having none of it. And eventually, she gave in.
For my other runs, I've always had the protag chose their pokemon, but for this one I decided to make it the other way around and that one decision continued to reverberate throughout the story and came to define Ren and Tāraki's relationship in a lot of ways. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have.

Kai has probably changed the most from initial conception to who he is becoming in this final version and I'm excited about it. I feel like I have a much better understanding of him now and I'm egar to see how that translates to his portrayal in this version. Meanwhile, Jay has probably changed the least. She just sprang forth fully formed and started doing her thing.
Hover for names
Ren
Tāraki

Kai
Jay
 
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SayleeK

Conqueror of the Saffron Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
68
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Oh bless Taraki what a good little bean of a 'mon he is! And I already like Jay a lot, even just through indirect dialogue. Them having customized sprites in the character roster is a really cool touch!

Ren and Latios discussing the story as it happens is the kind of touch I really love because of the little hints of ominousness it sprinkles in XD But it's heartwarming, sometimes, too. Ren's looking back on all of these first meetings so fondly. But what should she have told Taraki...?
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
I love all the little moments between Ren and Latios! I think that really adds a lot to the story. Tāraki is so cute and I love him already! As always, I love the little character bios and the art, and the custom sprites are a really cool addition!

I wonder what's up with Ren…

Just curious, how long do you think this is going to be compared to the scriptlocke?
 

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
A little late again because I'm still swamped, but I should be getting out ahead of the next few! Huge thanks again to my betas @Manifold and @MouseWithADinosaurTail for keeping on top of this furious update schedule!

AO3

@SayleeK I missed my boy Tāraki so much ;-; He is indeed the goodest bean! Jay is also very good (and probably the second smartest character after Zinnia). She has a very different personality than Tāraki, but their friendship really works and I enjoy writing her a lot. Variants are a big part of this run since that’s what Kai is researching, so it didn’t feel right to leave the sprites as is. It’s been fun fiddling around with them. I’m really happy with how the framing device is working out. I think it adds something that was missing from the original. Yeah, Ren is a GOOBER but not very open about certain things. We’ll have to wait and see what specifically she’s bottling up here.

@cyndakip This remake probably wouldn’t exist without the Latios and older Ren angle, so hard agree on that one! I think you can tell just how much Ren adores Tāraki from how endearing he is in everything he does. And as much as I love my darling boy, I’m excited to get to some of his less adorable moments. Thanks! I put a lot of work into the sprites etc and I’m happy with how the came out. We’ll find out what’s up with Ren eventually. As for the length, at the current stage of restructuring, I’ve cut a lot more than I’ve added so the finished project should be shorter. I’m aiming for something more in the neighborhood of 200k instead of 300k, but we shall see.
Ren stood at the front desk in the Oldale Pokemon Center, flanked by her parents. Tāraki lay back on the counter, pushing himself up and down with his tail in what seemed to be his version of push-ups while Ren filled out her information. She signed her name and slid the tablet back to the nurse.

“Okay!” he said cheerfully as he checked everything over. “That should be it for the paperwork.” He handed Ren a square device that looked more like a mini laptop than any Pokégear she’d ever seen. “Here is your trainer card and PokéNav, which comes loaded with all of the basic apps and functions. You can buy anything else you might want online, and it will download pretty much anywhere that isn’t underground. Congratulations, you are now a registered trainer!”

“Thank you so much,” Ren said as Tāraki hopped to his feet and clambered up her arm to crouch on her shoulder, tail swaying.

“You’re welcome!” the nurse responded with a smile.

Senri leaned back on the counter to face his daughter. “I was beginning to think it would never happen.”

She shot an irritated glance his way and responded in Kantogo so that the nurse wouldn’t overhear. “Don’t you dare be smug about this.

Who’s smug?” he said jovially. “I’m just happy.

Good, because Tāraki is the one who roped me into this.

Senri looked no less pleased because of her harshness, and Ren turned to her mother, who was bravely was trying not to cry.

Oh, Renko,” she said, hugging her daughter tightly, “I’m so proud.

Okāsan, arigatō,” Ren chuckled, hugging her back.

“Well, I really have to get to work. I can’t wait to tell everyone my daughter is finally a trainer!”

Otōsaannn,” Ren groaned, but he ignored her.

“See you later!” he called as he exited.

Ren snorted at him, and Tāraki filched the trainer ID out of her hand while she was distracted.

“You should go to the mart to get your supplies,” Asuka prompted. “I’m going to head home and unpack for a bit. Ahh, the joys of moving. I’ll see you for dinner, I hope?”

“I’ll be home early to help, silly,” Ren assured her, giving her a kiss on the head.

Oldale was small, but was still an actual town equipped with all of the amenities that designation implied like a grocery store, post office, fire station, and library. Ren wandered down the main street for a bit before striking back out onto Route 101.

Tāraki bounded excitedly ahead of Ren on the trail for a bit, then climbed a tree and started leaping from branch to branch, flipping and twisting midair as his confidence built up steam. Despite his circuitous route, he inevitably outstripped her. He landed on a low branch and swung beneath it, hanging like a Zubat as he waited for her to catch up. Ren laughed at him and picked up her pace.

A bush rustled near the path ahead of them and Tāraki launched himself into it before Ren could think. There were sounds of struggle, and a moment later, he came tumbling back out and landed on his face.

“Tāraki?”

Instead of a wild pokemon, Jay the Torchic emerged from the bushes with a disgruntled cluck. She cheeped angrily at Tāraki as he picked himself up. He made a quiet gurgle, looking moderately contrite.

Pacified, she turned to Ren and chirped pleasantly.

“Hi Jay,” Ren replied. “Sorry about him. Is Kai around?”

Jay trilled loudly into the woods and Kai’s distant voice responded, followed soon after by the rest of him.

“Hey Ren!” Jay peeped something to him before Ren could greet him. “Ha, sounds like him,” said Kai with a fond grin at Tāraki. But apparently Jay wasn’t done and she jerked her head at Ren this time. “Um…” Kai ventured uncertainly, clearly not eager to repeat whatever his pokemon was saying. Jay peeped stubbornly and jerked her head more forcefully. “Okay,” Kai muttered to her under his breath before looking back up at Ren. “She says she already told him, but you should also tell Treecko to be more careful because he’ll listen now that you’re his trainer—no she’s—”

Jay interrupted his objection with an emphatic chirp.

“Wait, that’s a PokéNav! So you are a trainer now?”

“Yeah,” Ren admitted. “We were just in Oldale registering.”

“Awesome!” Kai crowed. “What changed your mind?” Then more softly as he lost confidence: “Or maybe you always wanted to…”

“Tāraki talked me into it,” she explained. “And Jay is right, please don’t go pouncing on things without looking. There could have been a Growlithe in that bush for all you knew.”

“Not in this region!” Kai chuckled, then caught himself. “BUT, um, it’s great that you’re a trainer now! The only other trainer I know is your dad, and he is like super busy all the time but now we can battle and, uh, um, that is, if you want?” He seemed to notice his babbling and the rather discouraging expression on Ren’s face at about the same time and abruptly changed topic. “SOOO, Tāraki? His name is Tāraki?”

“Yep.”

“Oh, like a breeze, right? I like it. It really fits.” Kai looked like he might still implode from embarrassment and Ren finally cracked a smile.

“So, what do you think, Shima? Ready for your first official battle?”

Tāraki hopped up, fist in the air, then flexed unimpressively.

Kai remained dumb for a moment. “Oh! How about you Jay? Ready to take ’em?”

Jay trilled and tensed into a fighting stance, eyes glinting.

Kai tapped his PokéNav, and Ren followed suit. Once the battle parameters were set, the two began.

“We’ll start!” Ren called “Pound her legs, she’s only got two!”

Tāraki dove forward and spun, tail sweeping low.

“Catch him!” Kai commanded.

Jay reacted fluidly, grabbing Tāraki’s tail with one foot and spinning on the other. Her talons dug in as she used the momentum to fling Tāraki away.

Naruhodo! Ni ashi dake ga hitsuyo desu!” Ren muttered, eyebrows raised. She grinned and her whole face lit up. “Alright, hit with your fist this time. Use your tail as a counterweight!”

Tāraki leapt forward again, too fast for Jay to dodge. She caught his punch, but he swung his tail as he wrenched his arm to the side. Jay hit the ground and released him.

“She’s open!” Ren cried.

Tāraki was already diving on top of her.

“Kick him!” Kai yelled.

Jay rolled onto her back just in time to meet Tāraki’s chest with both feet. Tāraki went flying, but flipped in the air and gracefully stuck the landing.

“Nice save, Shima!” Ren cheered. “Try a one-two combo.”

Jay caught the first strike but had nothing for the second and went sliding back, even more winded because she was holding on.

“Let her up and aim high this time!” Ren commanded.

Jay hopped to her feet, and Tāraki leapt up into the air for an overhead somersault tail-strike.

“Bring him back down!”

Jay flipped as Tāraki came down, catching him mid-air so that Tāraki landed on his back with Jay on his chest. He groaned, but when his eyes re-opened, they were full of defiance. He grabbed her leg, but before he could throw her off, she head-butted him. His arms fell to the ground, stunned.

“Alright, you beat us.” Ren conceded, still smiling. She crouched down as Jay hopped off him. “You okay, Tāraki?”

The Treecko hauled himself up into a sitting position and grimaced, but gave her the thumbs up.

“Good battle,” Ren told him encouragingly. “Maybe just lay off some of the unnecessary flipping, at least when your opponent is almost as fast as you.” They smiled at each other, and Ren turned to Jay. “And you have some nice moves, my friend!” She offered her fist and Jay tapped it with a preee!

“That was a close match. You guys did great,” Kai congratulated them.

“Thanks!” Ren responded as she scooped up Tāraki. “I better go patch this guy up.”

“Bring him back to the lab! We have a health care machine there. No one would mind, and it’ll save you a bunch on potions and stuff.”

“I’ve never used one,” Ren admitted.

“I’ll show you!” Kai volunteered. “It’s super simple! I’m sure Jay could use a break too after that.”

“Lead the way,” Ren told him.

They started off towards Littleroot but barely got ten feet before Kai’s enthusiasm got the better of him again.

“Oh, and when we get back to the lab we can load DexNav and some other apps on your nav! You can even have some pokeballs if you want! You’re helping with the pokedex so it’s totally fine!”

Ren tried and failed not to smile at his excited rambling.

“Of course, I hadn’t bought any pokeballs. But I couldn’t say no when it made him so happy.”

And was that the only reason?

“It felt like it. I held out for a while. But you’re probably right. Somehow I’m always working against myself.”


Tāraki was already hanging from the door, and Ren had to laugh at his impatience before caving to his wishes and setting out into a warm and misty morning. They had barely made it to the road when she spotted her neighbor setting out as well.

“Hello, Kai! Where are you off to?”

He stopped and waved, letting her catch up to him. “Just up to the pond off Route 103 and then over to the estuary. A wild told us that they’d seen Rosy Wingull in the area, and we’re trying to confirm if any migrate through the mid-continent.”

“That sounds cool. Tāraki and I don’t really have a plan. He just wanted to go out.”

“Oh, do you maybe want to come with us then?” he ventured, wringing his hands.

“Yeah! That would be great!”

Her enthusiasm seemed to soothe his nerves and his shoulders fell back down from around his ears. He didn’t say much at first as they hiked up the trail, but she started asking him questions about the local flora and fauna and soon he was rambling away with barely a pause to let her get a word in.

“It was nice having such an expert to guide me around when I first got here. Thanks to him, none of it seemed so strange after a while.”

I think perhaps I owe him something as well, for making you feel at home here.

“I probably wouldn’t be doing any of this without him.”

Perhaps not.

“So will you let me tell him?”

I will… consider it.
There were no Wingull—Rosy or otherwise—on the pond, so Ren strode up to its edge and looked down into the clear, dark water. “It looks so deep.”

“It is,” said Kai. “It used to be a quarry, a very old one, all pokemon excavation.”

She admired it a little longer, until Tāraki stuck his whole head in and blew bubbles into it, which made her snort with laughter. They settled some distance away so as not to disturb any wild pokemon who came to drink, and passed an hour or two with intermittent conversation, just watching the world go by.

“He taught me how to record with the pokedex, so I could actually help a little with Prof. Birch’s pokemon distribution work, and showed me how to look up all kinds of useful things. It really is an amazing tool. And it’s always tough to not be at least a little interested with how excited Kai is about it.”

I have always found the human desire to collect knowledge admirable and quite useful at times. It is one of the reasons Latias and I work with your species. Even existing as long as we have, we could never hope to gather as much.

“That almost makes me feel proud, but also pretty under-qualified.”

Nonsense. Please continue. There must be a reason you found this day important.
An unusual Taillow caught Ren’s eye and she grabbed for his wrist. “Kai, what variant is—” The way he startled at her touch made her draw back immediately and cut her question short. He looked absolutely mortified, and her gut twisted up in knots. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he said quickly.

She couldn’t look at him. “I shouldn’t have—I wasn’t thinking.”

“I wanted to leave it there. I hate exposing myself like that. But it felt like I owed him an explanation.”

You are brave, Ren. You were afraid, but you did what you thought was right.

“Some things are worth the risk.”
“In Johto, we don’t use personal names unless you’re very close to the person. I guess I’m still getting used to it not meaning the same thing here.”

“It really is okay,” Kai said gently, and she dared to meet his eyes again. “I don’t mind. I just startle easy, that’s all. And I’d like to be friends. It would make our parents happy.”

She grinned. “Are yours bugging you too?”

“Lots of ‘subtle’ hints.”

They both laughed at that, quietly at first but ending loud enough to send a flock of Taillow from the trees.

“Oops,” Ren said, still chuckling. “Should we head down to the estuary?”

“Probably,” he said, and she pulled him to his feet as if he wasn’t a good stone heavier than she was. “I’m still not used to how strong you are.”

“It’s the judo,” she said with a broad grin and flexed, patting her bicep. “And you’re one to talk.” She poked his arm as they started off down the hill. “I saw you scurry up a tree like a Sentret yesterday.”

“I like climbing. My dad and I used to go all the time.”

“After that it was so easy. I probably should have known it was all going too fast, but I guess that’s just how I’ve always been.”

I think it’s one of your finer qualities. But I suppose I don’t have the same sensibilities as a human.

“Well I think that’s a strange sensibility for an immortal, but thanks all the same.”
In the game, I ran out and got my first three teammates as soon as I was able, but in the story and this version in particular, I wanted to give Ren and Tāraki a bit more time with just the two of them. And I'm very happy with how that's given me some space to establish Kai and Jay better as well. I'm very happy with how he's turning out now that I have a better idea of what I'm doing. I also love that little pool on Route 103. The opening of the original Hoen games is very nostalgic for me, so I was delighted at how beautiful they made that location for the remakes. And they set two important moments with your rival there! So I really wanted to use it and have it mean something to the characters.
Hover for names
Ren
Tāraki

Kai
Jay
 
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SayleeK

Conqueror of the Saffron Gym
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
68
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Fire, Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Oh these sweet kids. These sweet summer kids. Ren and Kai are so tender and sweet as they start out and Ren's conversations with Latios have me fearful for their futures... Q_Q
 

d'angelo russell

tomorrow ain't promised to no-one
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
226
Location
ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
I vaguely remember the original running hot tbh (I'm young but not that young lol) and having hung around the camp nano zone I was def curious to see where this would go. and it's really interesting so far - beneath the retrospective trappings it's light and charming and engaging throughout and I'm enjoying the read.

I feel like the especial charm is just ren and taraki's relationship, and how the latter is clearly coaxing the former into the journey shtick. it's somehow very hopeful even despite the clear edge set up by the prologue and ren's conversations with latios (which are also really well handled and seem to convey so much in only a few lines, it's good stuff). and kai's also sweet too, there's def the beginnings of friendship there and it's sweet how ren at the end reflects that maybe it's just not that hard. I'm stoked to see where this goes from here!
 

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
I’ve been excited for this chapter to go up. I missed my squad!

AO3

Oh these sweet kids. These sweet summer kids. Ren and Kai are so tender and sweet as they start out and Ren's conversations with Latios have me fearful for their futures... Q_Q
I can’t even go with my default “they’ll be fine” because you already know that at least on of them is not fine. My poor children. They do not know the storm that is coming for them.

I vaguely remember the original running hot tbh (I'm young but not that young lol) and having hung around the camp nano zone I was def curious to see where this would go. and it's really interesting so far - beneath the retrospective trappings it's light and charming and engaging throughout and I'm enjoying the read.

I feel like the especial charm is just ren and taraki's relationship, and how the latter is clearly coaxing the former into the journey shtick. it's somehow very hopeful even despite the clear edge set up by the prologue and ren's conversations with latios (which are also really well handled and seem to convey so much in only a few lines, it's good stuff). and kai's also sweet too, there's def the beginnings of friendship there and it's sweet how ren at the end reflects that maybe it's just not that hard. I'm stoked to see where this goes from here!
Light and hopeful is my brand haha. I’m just glad that it’s interesting and enjoyable to people. The run was originally conceived as a fun romp through a new version of an old game I really enjoyed as a child. Even the rules that made things a little more difficult were designed to make me more engaged and not to cause death in what is honestly one of the easier games to nuzlocke.
Hard agree that Ren and Taraki’s relationship is one of the strengths of this run. All of my protag/starter pairs have their own unique dynamics, but I must admit to being particularly fond of this one. A lot of things are complicated, but sometimes they don’t have to be and there’s a powerful resonance in that simplicity.
Renko! Kai desu!

Ren scrambled up and slung her bag over one shoulder as Tāraki jumped to the other. Kai and Jay were standing in the doorway chatting with her mother when they came barreling down the stairs.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Let’s go!” she answered, pulling him out the door behind her. “Itte kimasu!

“Bye, Mrs. Kosugi!”

Ki o tsukete!” she called after them.

Ren only released Kai once they were on Route 101, and he took the lead as they plunged off it into the dense woodland. Tāraki skittered, climbed and jumped his way along in the most inefficient way possible while Jay trotted easily at Kai’s heels, tilting her head this way and that to carefully observe their surroundings. Tāraki wanted to challenge nearly every wild pokemon they stumbled across, but for once, Ren remained firm in her refusals, intent on reaching their destination without unnecessary delay.

Ren didn’t notice anything unusual, but Kai stopped and gestured for her to look. Quite suddenly, her mind picked up the pattern, and she murmured softly to herself in awe. What had at first seemed to be a mossy and fern-covered hillside was actually squared blocks of stone grown over by the surrounding forest, each nearly as tall as she was.

Tāraki scurried up them easily and shrilled back down at Jay to join him. The Torchic ran along its length to where the blocks marched into the turf and scaled the embankment that way.

“It’s called Maioro Rahi.”

“It does look like a big wall,” said Ren, marveling at the great tree that grew at the top, its roots snaking through and framing the stones below.

“Stories say no one built it, that it’s always been, so it’s probably the result of volcanic activity.”

“It’s awesome either way. Thanks for bringing me out here, dude,” she said and nudged his arm to break the slack look on his face.

They walked around for a while to explore it from different angles and climbed the tree with Tāraki. This time, it was Kai’s turn pull Ren up, and she laughed at how embarrassed he got when she remarked on his strength. She cajoled him into an arm wrestling match and won handily, though he was probably still too flustered and afraid of falling out of the tree to do as well as he could have.

They wound up tucked against the base of the wall for lunch and chatted easily while Kai scratched in his notebook, and Ren lay back in the leaf litter, tracing circles across the canopy with the toe of her shoe. Jay flitted in and out of view, bringing back seeds and other small items for Ren to examine and Kai to explain while he sketched them. Meanwhile, Tāraki busied himself chasing Taillow and Wurmple from the branches as he swung around.

Jay trilled, crest raised to full attention, and Kai squinted off into the trees where she was looking.

“Hmm. You’re right. Hey Ren, seems like a Poochyena has been watching us.” He pointed out a tree at a ways off which only partially obscured the wild pokemon.

“It looks different,” Ren observed. The base color was the familiar cool gray, but it had a black stripe down its spine and many more scattered across its sides, legs, and tail. It still had the black mask and throat, but its paws were gray. From the stiffening of its posture, Ren concluded that it noticed them looking, but it didn’t move.

“It’s a Striped variant. Almost all the ones around here are Cloaked. That’s because Stripers are usually the result of a Manectric or Arcanine cross. You see them sometimes along the inner coast or from breeders. So either this one has traveled a long way or some asshole is releasing the pups they don’t want.”

Ren blinked at the unfamiliar anger in his tone and sat up. “Jay, would you see if it will talk to us? I’ve got some food left.”

That let off some of the tension, and Kai flipped to a fresh page in his notebook while Jay and the Poochyena conferred across the distance.

“She asked that we not approach and just toss the food to her, but she’ll stay for a while.” Kai repeated for Ren’s benefit. Jay grumbled beside him, and he hummed in amusement. “Jay also adds that she is ‘kind of rude.’”

Ren chuckled. “Understood.”

The Poochyena slunk closer but stopped well out of range, and Ren tossed her the promised berry and a stick of jerky to sweeten the deal. The Poochyena sat and accepted the food, but her hackles remained stiff. From this distance, Ren could see a notch in her ear, pale scars on her muzzle, and a break in her fur that must have been a long slash across her shoulder.

“She came from north of here,” Kai reported as he made notes for himself. “The only Stripers she’s seen were her siblings. Now there’s only her.”

Tāraki clicked and squeaked. The Poochyena’s hackles stood all the way up, making her look far larger.

“Don’t scare her off, Tāraki,” Ren admonished. “I know she looks like a great opponent, but you’re only allowed to battle pokemon who want to battle you, too.”

The Treecko harrumphed and flopped to the ground, flashing his pale belly. The Poochhyena ignored this probable insult and relaxed a little, fixing her red eyes on Ren.

“Did she get those scars from battles?”

The Poochyena continued to look at Ren as she answered, even though she was speaking to Jay.

“She says that’s how to survive. Pokemon draw strength from battling, but it’s risky… Wow, that’s a pretty good summary of the current research. It never occurred to me to ask a pokemon if they thought about it that way.”

“Would you like to train with us?”

What made you ask her?

“She’d been through a lot, and she seemed… lonely. I thought maybe I could give her a family again. And there was something in her eyes too. I knew right then that she’d never give up, that she’d always be herself and live the way she chose. I guess I admired her even then.”

That’s how you decided her name?

“Yes, that’s why I chose it.”
Kai looked at her in surprise, and the Poochyena cocked her head.

“Tāraki could use a battle partner,” Ren explained.

So, not the answer you gave at the time?

“No, not the answer I gave.”
Tāraki had stepped up to make the offer while they were distracted, and Jay stepped between them when he became incensed at whatever she said back.

“She wants to battle you and Tāraki first, because no matter how tough it is out here, she’s better off on her own than with a bad trainer.” Kai explained, then muttered to Jay: “I see what you mean about her being rude.”

“Sounds fair to me.” Ren stood. “Ready, Tāraki?

Tāraki nodded, muscles coiling. The Poochyena crouched.

“It’s over when I say it is,” Ren warned. “Pound her left shoulder!”

The Poochyena tried to dodge, but Tāraki was faster and sent her tumbling. But to Ren’s surprise, she rolled right back to her feet and came straight at him.

“Aim low!”

Tāraki hit her front legs, and she flipped from the momentum. Tāraki slammed her belly while it was exposed, but she grabbed his tail, and sparks flew from her jaws. Tāraki fell to one knee, trembling.

Paralysis!” Ren murmured under her breath, then aloud: “Watch out!”

The Poochyena took immediate advantage of Tāraki’s immobility and barreled into him. He was knocked back but landed on his feet.

“You’re not going to be able to outspeed her anymore. Absorb!”

The Poochyena slowed as her energy drained, and Tāraki managed to roll to the side in time.

“Let her come to you.”

Tāraki seized up as the Poochyena came at him, and the Tackle sent him sliding back.

“Backflip!” Ren yelled.

This time Tāraki backflipped just as the Poochyena closed, hitting her jaws shut with his tail. She went reeling back and collapsed. Tāraki stood to his full height, readying an attack.

“Enough!” The force of it stilled him immediately, and he looked back at Ren. “Good job, Shima.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a paralyze heal. He hummed with satisfaction as the sparking stiffness left his limbs. “You’re an amazing battler.”

Tāraki let out a gurgle that ended with “Ren.”

Ren smiled at him and then blinked as it dawned on her. “Did I just understand you?”

Tāraki gurgled.

“You said my name! I heard you say my name!”

“Ren!” This time it was as clear as day.

Ren squealed and swept Tāraki up in her arms, hugging him tight.

“Ren! Ren! Ren!” he chanted, and she spun them around and around, tossing him higher and higher until he grabbed onto a low branch and stayed there.

“Tāraki!” she whined. “Come back down here!”

He snickered at her and stuck out his tongue, and Ren hopped around under the branch for a minute, full of energy but unable to reach him. She eventually calmed and turned back to the others.

Thankfully, the Poochyena had stayed through their antics, and Ren reached into her bag for a potion. She kneeled down, and the Poochyena eyed her cautiously.

“Let me heal you up, okay?”

She didn’t look away but did lower her head slightly and let Ren spray her down. Ren pulled out a pokeball and held it up.

“What do you say?”

The Poochyena’s red eyes bored into Ren’s for a moment longer, then she stepped forward and pressed her nose to the pokeball’s button. She was swept up in a flash of red light before disappearing inside. The pokeball’s indicator flashed green, and her nav played a little tune.

“Was it just me, or did she use Thunder Fang?” Kai asked as Ren looked down at the pokeball, a soft smile on her face.

“Guess you were right about the Manectric heritage.” Tāraki dropped back down to her shoulder. “Think you two can get along?”

Tāraki made a show of considering it but gave her a thumbs up.

Ren released the Poochyena from her ball. “I’d like to call you Akahana, if that’s alright?”

She nodded once, and Ren’s smile broadened.

“Welcome to the family.”



Ren and her pokemon wandered through wild woods with Tāraki hopping through the canopy while Akahana trailed by Ren’s side. She lifted her head in Tāraki’s direction and let out a muffled woof. He replied with a smug negative. Soon enough, the trees began to thin, and sunlight thicken ahead of them. Balmy air swaddled them as they emerged onto open fields of grass. Kai sat on the bank of a large pond beside tall bullrushes and squat sedges that looked like tiny Nassy. Jay lay napping at his side but lifted her head as they approached.

“Hey Kai! How’s it going?”

“Good! Jay and I did some battling this morning. How about you?”

“We did some drills.”

“I feel great!” Tāraki piped, bouncing to and fro while Jay eyed him wearily.

“He’s still pretty hyped up.” Ren explained and sat down next to Kai, close enough that she bumped his shoulder as she settled. “Whatcha working on?”

Kai reddened and pulled his white beanie down a bit but tilted his notebook towards her. “I’ve been counting and sketching the different Masquerain variants on this pond. See, Masquerain sort of mimic their predators—mostly birds or other bug-types in the area. So, unlike most variants, they tend to overlap, and you often see several on a single pond.” He pointed them out to her. “So far I’ve seen Ninja, Kite, and Pale.”

“These are great,” said Ren, leaning in to see better. “You draw so well.”

He reddened even further. “Not really…”

Ren elbowed him. “Just take the compliment!”

“Okay,” he murmured quietly. “Thanks.”

“So many!” Tāraki exclaimed. He grabbed at Ren’s shirt. “Can I battle a few? Can I? Please!”

Akahana’s brow lowered, and her tail gave a derisive twitch.

“Aka’s right. Those things have a double type advantage on you. It’s one thing to battle Wurmples, but those mons have evolved. Maybe when we’ve trained a bit more.”

Tāraki groaned and danced from foot to foot before suddenly perking up again. “What about a Surskit? I could totally take a Surskit!”

“That’s a better match up. Do you mind, Kai? I don’t want to mess up your work.”

“Nah, I’m done here.”

Ren surveyed the Surskits skimming across the surface of the pond, and a gleam caught her eye. It came off a Surskit’s cap that looked more like brass than the pale yellow of the others and framed a bright red spot on its forehead.

“What kind is that one?”

Kai squinted at it, then whipped out his pokedex. “I’m not sure. It looks kind of like a Ninja, but that doesn’t explain the red spot.” He went back to looking through the identification photos. “That’s funny, there’s a different Ninja variant in Kalos that it resembles a bit too… See, the problem is that it’s hard to tell when they’re Surskits. The mimicry hasn’t fully developed. When they evolve—”

Ren threw out a hand to cover his mouth, and he went red again. The Surskit in question had noticed them staring at it and looked very nervous.

“Tāraki,” she said quietly, “why don’t you ask it nicely for a battle?”

Tāraki took a step towards the water and called out to the Surskit. “Want to battle with me? My trainer will heal you and give you some food!”

It glanced around in confusion and skittered back a bit, politely declining.

“Aw, come on! You have a type advantage.”

It stopped backing away and considered. Jay trilled and buffeted Tāraki with her wing, but he just snickered. Akahana sighed and rolled her eyes. The Surskit took a half step out and chittered.

“My trainer wouldn’t let me kill you,” Tāraki responded. “Right, Akahana?”

She gave a nod, and the Surskit skimmed up slowly, pausing near the bank.

“Took a little convincing, huh? Let her make the first move.”

Tāraki readied himself, and the Surskit crouched. The stinger atop her head glowed lime-green, and she launched herself at Tāraki. He dodged but she kept jabbing until she hit his tail. He fell on his side.

“Spin!”

Tāraki spun, righting himself and knocking the Surskit off her feet. She responded by spinning on her stinger like a top and slashing him with her feet.

“Get out of range and use Absorb!”

Tāraki backflipped away and fired off a green orb. The Surskit slowed and rolled back onto her feet.

“Nice! Now Pound!”

Tāraki leapt forward, but the Surskit countered with another Fell Stinger. Tāraki shuddered again.

“Her side!”

This time Tāraki was fast enough, and the Surskit went rolling away. She slumped, and Tāraki jumped over to her, placing a hand on her head. She looked at the ground, clearly defeated.

“Nice job!”

Tāraki let her up, looking pleased with himself, and the Surskit began to shuffle back towards the water.

“Hey wait! Don’t you want some food or something?” Ren called. “Tāraki got you pretty good. Come sit by us for a bit at least so you can recover.”

The Surskit turned back, and Ren fished a berry out of her bag, placing it on the ground a few feet away from her. Tāraki sat down beside her and gestured encouragingly to the Surskit. She looked cautiously up at them, and Ren smiled. Akahana grumbled lowly, and Jay nodded in agreement, causing the Surskit to hide her face.

Ren worried for a moment about what they might be saying, but when the Surskit uncovered her face, she seemed happier and settled down to eat.

“She really is between the two,” said Kai now that he had a closer view. “She could be a mutt. It’s rare, especially in species like Masquerain, but it can happen.” He continued to explain variant mechanics, and Ren only half listened while she watched the pokemon socialize.

And what made you ask her?

“For a pokemon so skittish and fearful, she seemed almost desperately glad to have company to talk to. And that felt odd to me, with how many Surskit were around. I realized her looks must have made her stick out sorely, and I know how tough that can be.”
“Would you like to train with us?” Ren asked out of nowhere, startling everyone. “You seem a little shy, so maybe it isn’t your game, but I think you could be a battler.”

Tāraki passed this on, and the Surskit stood up, clearly disbelieving, and looked to Akahana for confirmation. The Poochyena seemed quite surprised as well but nodded. A tremble went through the Surskit but she stilled herself and marched up to Ren. She nodded fiercely and met Ren’s eyes for the first time.

“Awesome! Welcome to the team!” Ren held out a ball, and the Surskit tapped the button and flowed inside.

“Are you building a team now?” Kai asked.

Surprise and confusion passed over Ren’s face before her eyes narrowed and her jaw set. “Maybe I am!”



Ren walked up an embankment through the gently swaying reeds surrounding the estuary, carrying Tāraki in her arms. Iki the Surskit perched on her head, and Akahana trailed in her wake. Her eyes scanned the open space along the edge of the treeline. There was a Wingull with a pink underside sitting alone on a low branch about a field-length distant, and Ren stopped in her tracks to focus on it.

“Is that the Wingull variant Kai has been on about since I met him?”

“Well, um, did he say they were pink?” Iki piped, trying to be helpful.

“Rosy!” Ren confirmed and started tromping towards it. She felt Iki’s feet dig into her hair. Ren paused again at a respectful distance away to snap for Kai. “Could you ask it to talk to us for a bit?”

Iki hunkered further down on Ren’s head, though there was little chance it would make her metallic cap any less conspicuous.

“Relax, little bug, you’re with us now,” Ren reassured her, glancing up with amusement. “You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Iki fidgeted but called out a greeting to the Wingull.

“She says sure.”

“Great! I just hope Kai hasn’t turned off his nav… again.”

“It was quite a conversation. She told us all about the places she’s been and the things she’d seen. She told us about her colony and the chicks she’d raised, about her partner that fell prey to a Sneasel…”

And then she asked you.

“Yeah, and it surprised me, but I suppose she wanted to start a new chapter.”
An orange sunset settled in over the trees behind them, casting its warm glow on the water below, by the time Kai came running with Jay in tow.

“I came as soon as I got your message!” he called across the shrinking distance. “Is it still there? Did you—”

Ren gestured to the Wingull on her shoulder. “No worries, dude. I got you.”

Kai squealed in delight, bouncing on the balls of his feet for a moment until his exertion caught up with him and he had to take a minute to catch his breath, hands on his knees.

“Kai, meet Panahi,”

“You caught her?”

“Yep! So let’s hold off on the interview until tomorrow. Or you could just read through my notes,” she said with a wink.

Kai sighed, melting on the spot. “You’re the best.”

“I know,” she said with a toss of her hair and then slipped her hand under his arm to pull him home.

“OH. Oh, wow. I’m such a bakayarou.”

Yes, I noticed some time ago.

“Shut up.”


Akahana snarled, white teeth bared and black hackles raised. The big Zigzagoon opposite her shrank back ever so slightly before rushing her. The rest of the team watched Ren direct her from a nearby branch. Tāraki sat in the middle, allowing Iki to keep her distance from the new flying-type. Kai and Jay approached as Akahana lunged, sparks flying from her jaws, and grabbed the Zigzagoon by the shoulder. She tossed it, and it landed heavily on its side, legs too clumsy to catch it as the paralysis set in. It wisely stayed down.

“That’s my girl.” Ren stroked Akahana’s head. She offered a pair of berries to the Zigzagoon, who took them gladly and shuffled off into the underbrush.

Kai was still slack-jawed when she turned to greet him but stiffened when she met his eyes. The silence dragged as she looked him over, and her eyebrows met in puzzlement when he started to fidget.

“You alright?” she finally prompted.

“Yeah! Of course!” It was way too eager, not his brand of eager. “You’re all just improving so much! It’s kind of amazing. Not that—I mean you obviously know what you’re doing, and you’re really good at it, so I totally expected it. It’s just something else to see it, haha.”

It almost sounded like he was jealous, but she didn’t quite believe that. He’d won at least half their matches, and she was more than happy to teach him.

“We should train together some time. I’m sure Jay has a few moves she could show these gals.”

Jay puffed up a with pride, but Kai only looked more nervous if anything. He wouldn’t meet her eyes.

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m not sure we’ll have time. Jay and I should really start packing and stuff.”

She blinked, and her brows set even lower. “You’re going away?”

“Yes, well, yeah…” He cleared his throat and tried to force his tone into something more nonchalant. “We’ve got plenty of data on the area now, and there are a lot of other locations we’d really like to check out. We were actually planning to leave earlier, but then we were waiting to see if we could confirm the Rosy Wingull sighting and we already did that a while ago, so, um, yeah.”

“When are you leaving?”

“As soon as we can get everything in order. So, like, the day after tomorrow probably.”

For a moment, Ren couldn’t control her face but then she wrestled it into her best attempt at a smile. “Aww, I’m gonna miss you, dude!”

“Wha?” he blubbered. He swallowed before trying again. “Uh, yeah?”

“Of course I am, you dork,” she said softly. “We’re friends, aren’t we?”

He started fidgeting again and stared at the ground. “Yeah.”

Ren spread her arms. “Come here.” He didn’t move at first, but he had said it was okay before, and she chose to believe he had meant it, so she didn’t wait. He went rigid for a second but hugged her back. She straightened up and took hold of his shoulders, unable to let go as fast as he did. “Give me a call every once and awhile, alright?”

He tried to smile. “Sure.” She released him, and he edged away. “Ah, we should get going. Good luck with your training!” he called over his shoulder as he fled.

Jay nudged Ren’s leg, which wrenched her eyes down. The Torchic offered her a comforting rub and quiet little coo. Ren smiled back to reassure her, and Jay left, following in Kai’s wake.



Ren dried her hands after finishing the dishes while her mother continued to prep food for the next day. Ren sat back down at the table with her chin propped up by a hand her hand and groaned. Her father was sitting around the corner in the living room, reading a newspaper with his legs resting across his Ursaring’s back.

“I’m sorry to hear that Kai is leaving so soon,” said Asuka. “He’s such a nice boy.”

He talks too much, but I’ll miss him anyway.” Ren muttered back in Nihongo.

You know, you keep saying things like that, but I’m not sure I see it. He’s always perfectly charming when I speak with him.

I know. It drives me a little crazy actually. He’s so different when it’s just the two of us. He’ll be blabbing non-stop and all the sudden go painfully quiet. It seems like he’s having fun and then… I don’t know. Maybe my Anglic isn’t good enough.

“Your Anglic is perfect,” said her father without looking up.

Ren rubbed at a spot on the table and said nothing.

“Did you know he was taught at home?” her mother asked. “His parents took care of his schooling, and he may not have had many friends his age before. Maybe he is not sure how to act around you.”

“He doesn’t have to act any different! I’m not—” She groaned and slumped over the table. “You’re right, Okāsan. I’m just annoyed he didn’t tell me sooner.

That’s fair. But for what it’s worth, I’m sure he didn’t mean to upset you. I think he’s very fond of you.

“She knew. Of course she did. Okāsan knows everything.”
Arigato, Okāsan.” Ren threw her mother a little smile and headed upstairs.

She could hear her parents’ muffled voices talking quietly as she and her pokemon spilled into her room and prepared to sleep. Ren changed into her pajamas while Akahana turned circles on the mini futon in the corner, and Iki climbed the dresser to her cushion. Panahi fluttered up to a padded basket hanging from one of the beams, and Tāraki hopped up on the bed. Ren leaned back against the edge of it, not quite sitting.

“So, I’ve been thinking, maybe it’s time for us to travel too.”

“We going after your boyfriend?” Panahi cawed wryly from the rafters.

“Okay, Ahi doesn’t count because she would have said that no matter what.”

That may actually be true.
“And here I was getting all hyped because I could understand you already.”

“I’m sorry, Honey. I was just getting used to my new nest. But if that’s how it has to be, then that’s fine, I suppose.”

“Aw, you old fuss-pot. We can bring your bed with us. I’ll get a vapor box. But anyway, the actual reason is we can only get so strong if we stay. We’ve had, what? Two—three trainer battles that weren’t with Kai? With him leaving, we can’t have regular matches.”

“What about your father’s gym?”

“I thought we could do the Rustboro Gym first. That’s where Kai is going for his first badge, and I don’t want to miss it.”

“I didn’t mean for the badge—” Panahi started but Ren was already trudging onward.

“I think we’re good enough to support ourselves, and I’d like a little income of my own. Besides, there’s a whole region out there. That is, if you’re all okay with it?”

They were all quiet for a moment, and Panahi regarded her carefully with one golden eye.

“Didn’t think a trainer would ask,” said Akahana.

“It’s nice of you!” Iki jumped in. “If you think we’re ready, then we are.”

“Let’s do it!” crowed Tāraki, hopping around the mattress. “Back on my island, there was nowhere to go and now there’s a whole continent to see! It’ll be so awesome!”

“I already said I’m down for whatever,” Panahi offered.

“What do you think, Aka?”

“You’re right. We won’t get much stronger here.”

“Thanks, gals.”

“So when are we leaving?” asked Tāraki.

“It won’t take long to get everything together and do a bit of research, but we’re not going anywhere for at least a week. I don’t want to spring this on Okāsan. I’ll tell them tomorrow, and we’ll see how it goes.”

Everyone took that in stride, even Tāraki, and Ren left to brush her teeth before climbing into bed. Tāraki curled up next to her, and she finally drifted off to the sounds of her team’s snoring.
Navlockeing turned out to be really fun and lead to some unique catches. I’m so glad I did it. I was very determined to use all of the new features and I think it resulted in a lot of good world building and fun stuff in the narrative.
I’m also just so happy to have some more of the crew debut again! I fell in love with all of these pokemon and it feels great to be writing them again.
Hover for names
Ren
Tāraki
Akahana
Iki
Panahi

Kai
Jay
 
Last edited:

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Some quick thoughts on this chapter (which I loved!):

- I love what you do with the variants! It seems to be more of a thing in this run and I think it's really cool.
- The rule about only battling wild Pokemon who want to battle you is a really interesting interpretation (which I'm just now realizing is probably to tie in with the navlocke rules?) and it makes all the captures more wholesome!
- I ALSO JUST NOTICED THAT THE NEW CAPTURES GET ADDED TO THE BANNER AND IT’S SO CUTE
- Speaking of so cute, Tāraki saying Ren’s name! Aaaaaahhhhhhhh!
- I continue to love those custom sprites! Iki in particular looks adorable.
- I love how much the team is coming together already and I'm super excited for more!
 

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
This chapter went through a few more iterations than most, but I'm pretty happy with it!

AO3

Some quick thoughts on this chapter (which I loved!):

- I love what you do with the variants! It seems to be more of a thing in this run and I think it's really cool.
- The rule about only battling wild Pokemon who want to battle you is a really interesting interpretation (which I'm just now realizing is probably to tie in with the navlocke rules?) and it makes all the captures more wholesome!
- I ALSO JUST NOTICED THAT THE NEW CAPTURES GET ADDED TO THE BANNER AND IT’S SO CUTE
- Speaking of so cute, Tāraki saying Ren’s name! Aaaaaahhhhhhhh!
- I continue to love those custom sprites! Iki in particular looks adorable.
- I love how much the team is coming together already and I'm super excited for more!
I had a lot of fun with the variants so I'm trying to incorporate them as much as possible with the custom sprites and banner! And I did do a fair amount of worldbuilding, plotting, and character building around the fact that this a navlocke. So glad you enjoyed the new characters and art! Thank you!
The car rumbled softly into a space behind the Petalburg Gym, and Senri climbed out of the driver’s side. Ren paused for a moment to marvel at the solar parking lot and scuff her new boot against its textured glass surface. They were still stiff, and she was not looking forward to how sore her feet would be by the end of the day, but she liked the look and weight of them.

Kenta emerged from his ball, and Tāraki bounced excitedly beside the Ursaring as they walked around to the front. The hulking pokemon yawned, then murmured some doubtless sage advice from his own journey with her father. Tāraki listed with unusually rapt attention, eyes glued to Kenta’s grizzled muzzle. She was going to miss him.

Ren wondered if everyone was in yet and how long this would take. Barry was already at the front desk settling in, and Lei walked out of the changing rooms with their Persian.

“It feels like you just got here, and you’re already on your way!” they complained, but they were smiling. “Are we finally gonna battle when you come back for the badge?”

“Depends how much you train,” Ren shot back with a grin.

Lei laughed. “She’s your daughter alright!”

“That she is.” Senri ruffled her hair. She almost threw him but shoved back the impulse and brushed him off instead. “I’ll go get your things.”

He went back, and a few of the other trainers offered her congratulations and goodbyes. Kenta nudged her when Barry left for the bathroom.

“I’ll be careful,” she told him.

“You are careful,” he said with a chuff.

There was a lot she wanted to say to him, but for a long moment nothing came to the surface. Then something old surged up from the depths, a memory she thought she had forgotten. “I—I’m sorry it took so long.”

“We evolve in our own time, little cub. I don’t hold you to the things you said when you were cave-bound. I’m just glad to see you smiling again—feel the warmth pour out of you like a campfire. I’m grateful for every day you live and every step I see you take. Doesn’t matter the direction.”

Ren dropped to her knees and slung her arms around his neck, burying her face in his soft, thick fur. He put an arm around her, and she was safe again.

Watashi wa Kenta-sensei ni hibi to gyōseki karite iru subete.

“I have no regrets,” he returned and hugged her tighter.

“Kenta talks even less than Otōsan but he always knows what to say. I was lucky to have so many parents.”

They have certainly been a formative—and positive—influence.
At last, she dried her eyes and let go of him. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Good. Ready to say goodbye to the others?”

Ren smiled. “Yeah.”

Tāraki climbed back up her shoulder, and she scratched under his chin as they went back to see the rest of her father’s team. The old Tauros nearly knocked her off her feet as she came in only to be snatched to safety by the Ambipom. The Blissey and Kangaskhan nearly smothered her between them. Even the Vigoroth gave her a fond pat with his claws, only to sulk away when the others poked fun at him. The rest of the crew didn’t know her as well, and she couldn’t understand them, but they wished her well just the same.

Then it was time to leave, and she returned to the lobby with her father.

“Senri, Mr. Scott is here to see you,” Barry called as they entered. A middle-aged man and green-haired teen were waiting with him by the front desk.

“Good morning, Charles! Wally, how are you?” Senri greeted them.

“Very well, thank you, sir,” the boy answered. He was almost eerily pale and didn’t look terribly well but held himself with a certain kind of poise. It made him seem taller than he actually was. He was small—only as tall as Ren—and slighter with delicate features to match.

“Oh! Introductions! This is my daughter, Ren.”

Mr. Scott shook her hand. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, young lady.”

“I should have introduced you two a while ago,” said Senri while Ren shook Wally’s hand. “I wasn’t thinking. Ah, maybe it’s just as well. When’s the big move? Soon, no?”

“In a week, sir.”

“Excellent. So, what can I help you with today?”

“I got my trainer license.”

“Wonderful, let’s see it!” Senri beamed. Wally fished it out of his shoulder bag and handed it over. “Look at that photo! I’m jealous. My first made me look like a convict,” Senri chuckled as he returned it. “Well then, let’s go in and meet the greenhorns. I’m sure you’ll find someone suitable.”

“Actually, sir,” Wally stopped him, “I was hoping for a loan. I want to catch my first—my service pokemon.”

“Oh?” Senri said as his mind worked. Then something flickered over his face, and he tried not to grin. Ren knew that look. “Very Good! Now let me see, who can I give you…” He pretended to think it over for a moment, and Ren figured what he was up to before he opened his mouth again. “Actually, Ren, would you mind helping Wally with this?”

“Sure.”

That was surprisingly quick.

“I knew he had to have a good reason. He was more excited than I was for me to set out.”
“Great! Ren has already caught three pokemon so you’re in good hands, Wally. I’ll see you two later.”

Senri ushered Mr. Scott further inside, throwing Ren a wink over his shoulder. Once they were gone, Wally shifted and wrang the shoulder strap of his bag between his hands.

“Thank you for helping me. I hope this isn’t getting in the way of anything.”

“It’s no problem,” she reassured him as they walked out. “I don’t have a schedule to keep.” He accepted that, and she gestured towards Route 102 since it was closest. They walked in silence for a bit, and he pulled his cardigan sleeves down over his hands.

“So, why do you want to catch a wild to have as your service pokemon, if it’s okay to ask? Are they expensive here?”

He wrung his bag strap again before answering. “Um, the truth is I don’t want a service pokemon—well I do. I’m going to live with my aunt and uncle, and my cousin is a breeder, so I could have gotten one from her—and I still might—but I want to be a trainer. I always have. But, um, I’ve never really been healthy, and my parents wouldn’t let me try.”

“So we’re actually out here to get you a battler?”

“Yeah,” he responded meekly and twisted his bag strap even more.

“Hey, don’t worry. I won’t Rattata you out or anything. But why not just take one of Otōsan’s trainees or your cousin’s pokemon and battle them?”

He reached up and held the carved wood pendant hanging around his neck and rubbed at it with his thumb. “My parents have a point. I don’t know if I can be a real trainer, so I set myself a test of sorts. If I can get a wild pokemon to respect me, show enough potential that they decide they want to be my partner, then maybe I can do it.”

Ren nodded, and Wally looked taken aback by her acceptance. “It makes sense to me. I mean, it does feel like you're being a little hard on yourself, but you’ve clearly given this a lot of thought. And I don’t think it’s strange. I didn’t really ‘catch’ any of the pokemon on my team. I asked them—except for Panahi, who asked me.”

“Oh wow! Really?”

“I think it’s more common in some regions. After all, we didn’t always have pokeballs.”

“I guess that’s true.”

Ren pulled a ball of her belt and held it out to him. He accepted it reverently and cradled it in his hand for a minute. She bumped her eyebrows at him, and a look of determination settled over his features. He threw the ball, Akahana popped out in a flash of red, and he caught it again.

“Oh, what a cool Poochyena! I haven’t seen one like her before.”

“She’s a Striped variant. Akahana, this is Wally. We are going to help him get his first pokemon.” Akahana scrutinized him for a moment and nodded. “She knows Growl, Tackle, and Thunder Fang.”

“Whoa! Really?”

“Yep! And Thunder Fang is great because—

“It has a chance of causing paralysis!”

“Exactly. And Aka here is good at it.” Ren gave him an appraising look. He must have practiced to toss and catch a pokeball that naturally. She remembered doing the same with a rubber band ball when she was young. “You sure know your stuff.”

“I sorta have a library on pokemon training at home. And I watched every battle video I could get my hands on since I couldn’t…” He trailed off.

“That’s great! Whatever pokemon you catch will be super lucky.” He smiled, and Ren grinned back. “What species did you have in mind?”

“I would really like a Ralts.”

Ren pulled out her nav and looked them up since it wasn’t a species she had bumped across out with Kai. When she saw the first image, her eyes flickered to Wally’s hair . The resemblance was too close to be a coincidence. She shook her head and turned her attention back to the data. “Hmm, DexNav says they’re elusive. We could be out here a while.”

“I’m sorry,” Wally apologized again, visibly wilting.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. This is super important. Besides, it’ll be fun.”

Wally’s lips parted slightly in surprise, then a wobbly but radiant smile took over his face, and his pale blue eyes shimmered. “Thank you.”

“He shattered my heart with that smile.”

That’s very sentimental of you.

“Something you have yet to learn about me is that I am extremely and unbearably sentimental.”

And was that the only reason you helped him?

“No. I was angry at his parents. Otōsan’s encouragement was a lot sometimes, but he never told me that I couldn’t do something. And Okāsan has been there to support me at every tournament and performance for my entire life. It wasn’t fair. So I was determined to give him at least a little of what he was owed.”
Wally and Ren wandered around for hours. Ren consulted the Littleroot Labs data on her nav, Akahana used her nose, Tāraki climbed every tree, Iki peered around from the safety of Ren’s head, and Panahi scanned from above with her keen eyes.

They slowly spread out to cover more ground, though not so far as to lose track of each other. But Ren had Akahana stay with Wally just in case.

Ren was looking through some bushes when she heard coughing so severe that she went running to find Wally, but by the time she was in sight again, he had an inhaler over his nose and had quieted. He put it casually back in his bag, barely looking at what he was doing.

So it was his lungs—probably asthma or some kind of birth defect. That seemed like a particularly frightening ailment to Ren—to at any moment be unable to breathe, suffocate on nothing. It couldn't have been easy for him to grow up knowing each breath could be his last. But then again, maybe that made things simple. It would be a terrible waste not to do what he wanted, so here he was, risking himself on a dream, letting passion drive him.

Ren turned around without making herself known and kept searching.

At long last, Wally gave a shout. “I found one!”

Ren tried not to run, so as not to scare it off only to gasp when she caught sight of it. The pokemon was indeed a Ralts, but with glittering feathers and a bright blue helmet instead of green.

Nanda, is that a shiny?”

“Yeah,” he confirmed weakly, clearly still trying to process it himself.

“Ralts!” Akahana called out to it before anyone could gather themselves, “this human is a trainer without a pokemon. If he can demonstrate his ability in battle to your satisfaction, would you be interested in becoming his starter?”

The Ralts cocked its head and looked carefully up at Wally through its fringe, first with one eye and then the other. It chirped to Akahana in an odd ringing tone and she shook her head. Then it nodded, and Akahana settled lower to the ground, coiling herself and ready to spring.

“Oh!” Wally gasped. He took a deep breath and a look of determination spread over his face. “Akahana, use Thunder Fang!”

Akahana surged forward, bright tendrils of electricity trailing from her bared white fangs. The Ralts startled at the unexpected move, and its feathers ruffled as it lashed out instinctively with Confusion. The pulsing purple waves bounced harmlessly off of Akahana, and she sunk her teeth into its arm. The Ralts shuddered with the jolt of electricity but held steady. Pink, ringed sound waves erupted from its mouth and struck Akahana off. A close quarters fairy move was a lot for her, but she rolled right back to her feet.

“Hang in there, Akahana,” Wally cried. The Ralts fired off another Disarming Voice, but Akahana leapt to the side. The Ralts twitched stiffly, unable to course correct before the attack was spent. “It’s paralyzed! Get around back and Tackle!”

Ren nodded approvingly as Akahana dove under another attack, sprinted past, and whirled around. Her skull connected powerfully with the Ralts’s back and it fell forward in a heap. It tried to get up but wavered from the paralysis. Akahana pressed a paw between its shoulders and growled. It held stubbornly for a moment before letting its head loll, admitting defeat. Ren heard Wally gasp softly.

Akahana released it and walked back to Ren’s side. The Ralts righted itself and looked directly up at Wally, who started. They were both quiet for a minute and Wally’s lips moved, which meant it was probably using telepathy to speak to him. Finally, Wally pulled out a pokeball and kneeled down, offering it to the Ralts. It pushed the button and flowed inside. Wally clutched the ball tightly for a moment, and then it flashed green.

“YES!” he yelled, jumping up with the pokeball held aloft. “I can’t believe it!”

“Great job!” Ren congratulated him. “You really kept your cool. That’s a tough thing for most beginners.”

Wally was too elated to process her compliments and swept down on Akahana. “Thank you, Akahana!” he said, hugging her tightly. “You were so awesome! Thank you so much!”

Akahana was stiffened in shock at the display of affection, but remained still until he started coughing and had to let her go to use his inhaler.

“Thank you, Ren,” he said, a bit calmer and quieter so as not to upset his lungs again. “This means so, so much to me. I don’t think I could have done that without you here.”

“I’m happy to help, but don’t give me too much credit. That was a pretty even match, and you won it on your own.” He glanced away and she placed a hand on his shoulder to pull him back. “I want you to remember that.”

“Okay, but I still want to pay you back some day.”

She smiled wide enough to split her face. “Deal. Hey, why don’t we trade numbers? I’ll probably be going through Verdanturf in a few weeks. Maybe we can meet up?”

“Yeah, that sounds great!”

They swapped navs and filled in their contact information. Wally was still radiating joy like a Sunny Day and took the Ralts’s ball in his hands again to let his new pokemon back out. The Ralts looked up at him and smiled too.

“Let’s go to the Pokemon Center. We can heal these guys up and get your trainer card updated. Any idea what you’re going to call them?”

“Faris.”

“It was a lot of fun to go back and show Otōsan that catch. You should have seen his face. He couldn’t believe it!”

I did see it, and it was rather amusing.

“Oh, right. Well, I’m glad I hung around. And I think it was good for Akahana.”

You’ve accomplished a lot to be proud of. And needed me for so little of it.

“I—When you put it in that context, it makes it very hard to deny.”

One doesn’t live as long as I without learning a little trickery.
I gave Wally a shiny Ralts to deal with the trauma of running into one on my way into Petalburg to buy more pokeballs for the next route. I can't even tell you how painful it was to play with the shiny clause, run into a random shiny early game and then have no way at all to catch it. I screamed out loud in public and startled a bunch of people.
Anyway, I had quite a lot of fun with Wally's character the first time and I'm very happy to have him back now that I have a better idea of who he really is as a person. And I'm also super glad I remembered to slip Kenta in much earlier because he is good and important!
Hover for names
Ren
Tāraki
Akahana
Iki
Panahi

Wally
Faris
 
Last edited:

Manifold

Conqueror of the Vermillion Gym
Pokédex No.
678
Caught
Aug 14, 2019
Messages
18
Art

-First thing I have to do is talk about the art! I'm impressed by how your sprite work captures the subtle details that distinguish variants in the world you've built: the stripes on Akahana, the subtle shading on Panahi's underside, the red spot on Iki's head (he looks so happy!), and Tāraki's coloring. The trainers have come out great, too. Each one has a lot of personality, and they represent the characters great in a way that the standard protagonist and rival sprites might not; what were the base sprites you used for each?

-As with Tightrope, I'm a huge fan of the realistic Pokemon artwork you do in the cast section!

Prologue

-The Prologue's prose is gorgeous in how it evokes this sense of mourning and pain, and it works great with the nighttime atmosphere

-"This is far enough—lonely enough." The rhythm of this was wonderful, and it encapsulates everything I said right above.

-You have me very intrigued about what legendary Pokemon are like in this world, both what they're like as their own characters outright and how they relate to humans. Latios has alluded to this, and I'm looking forward to learning more.

-And regarding Latios himself, I find it interesting how even though he seems to be one of the friendlier and more human-interactive of the legendaries, he is clearly not human himself; his mind, thoughts, and perspective seem different. He has this ethereal and mythical feel that builds this distance.

-"Not only must my partner be willing to risk their own life, but also those of their pokemon, or rather, allow their pokemon to risk their own lives." I really liked this integration of Nuzlocking into the story, and I can't wait to see how you explore this

-I love how you connect the timeframe of the prologue to the timeframe to the main story, via Ren and Latios reviewing her journey up until this point as a means of reflection and realization. It makes it important for the characters, not just the readers, so I think is a really effective and clever set-up on your part.

Chapter 1

-Ren immediately caught my interest when her mom encouraged her to say how she felt behind the brave face, and Ren proceeded to put on a brave face and focus on her parents. Tell us how you feel, Ren!

-And Ren immediately won my heart when Birch's lackluster attempts at battling were followed by Ren's detailed and impassioned commands. I am absolutely enamored with the way she battles, here and elsewhere; she just loves it so much, she just can't hope to contain it, and it spills out and is infectious

-I like Jay as a character sooo much despite never getting to hear her speak. She seems to be such a fountain of wisdom

-There is something about the rhythm of this story that I feel gives it these wonderful cinematic moments, where I feel the narrative action swells and I can see a big moment vividly play out before my eyes. I'll make note of these moments as they come; the opening of the Prologue was one, and the sequence in Chapter 1 of Taraki and Ren battling, with her aside about it being in her blood mixed in, is another one of these cinematic scenes

Chapter 2

-Aaah, Ren and Kai's companionship with each other is the star of this chapter! It's fun watching them try to figure out how to carry a conversation with each other, and to watch both be awkward and fumble (but in their own ways in line with each character's personality). Ren's been very accomodating with some of Kai's on/off quirks when it comes to talking

-Ren and Latios's asides surrounding Kai catch my eye a lot, both for the implications for how her relationship with Kai develops in the future and also how she uses these past interactions with Kai to reflect on herself

-The moment where Ren touches Kai and he's taken aback is another one of these cinematic moments. The setting by the pond, the timing of the aside, the soft dialogue that follows - I swear, I can hear the piano music gently playing in the background as this scene unfolds.

-I've felt this is a very honest, but still positive and endearing, look at two people who desire companionship but find it difficult to figure out how to start. They both seem to have trouble expressing what they want, for different reasons, and they get in their own ways. But the way it's written is still very sweet, and watching these two warms my heart.

Chapter 3

-Hoenn is usually one of my least favorite regions, but your version has been immersive and exciting. Getting to see how you envision the landscapes, and the Pokemon variations you come up with, has been a pleasure. The way you tied in Akahana's Thunder Fang to a Manectric lineage was especially fun.

-I really like how the ways in which Ren's Pokemon join her demonstrate a lot about each individual Pokemon's personality and motivations, and they also show us Ren's values as a trainer and the emphasis on her Pokemon's permission. To me, it seems she wants to feel like she's earned each Pokemon's loyalty

-The bakayarou aside made me laugh. Between that, her mom's teasing, and Panahi, it seems like Kai's got a crush ;)

-Similar to what I was saying about both wanting companionship in the previous chapter but not knowing how to go about expressing this, it seems that Ren and Kai both badly want to please each other but neither are confident in how they do so

Chapter 4

-Watching Ren and Kenta was so blessed, omg. It says so much that she can talk to one of her father's Pokemon and I hope to hear more about her childhood because of this

-There is some strain in Senri and Ren's relationship, but it makes me happy that despite that, Senri recognizes what Ren can do for Wally here. I am a sucker for the "adult ignores the parents and recognizes what the kid really wants" type of thing. And bless Ren, too, for being so supportive of Wally.

-I LOVE WALLY! Ren says he shattered her heart with that smile; he won mine with his fire and determination, the way he talks about wanting to prove himself worthy to his starter catch. I can sense a fire inside that kid, and immediately I think about the look he gives you right before battling you at the end of Victory Road in ORAS.

And was that the only reason you helped him?

“No. I was angry at his parents. Otōsan’s encouragement was a lot sometimes, but he never told me that I couldn’t do something. And Okāsan has been there to support me at every tournament and performance for my entire life. It wasn’t fair. So I was determined to give him at least a little of what he was owed.”"
This exchange resonated with me a lot. Despite whatever's going on between her and her father, I admire and cherish how she recognizes the support he has shown for her, and how it bothers her to not see others receive the same. I think about this semi-often, especially cultural differences when it comes to parenting, so to see Ren's statement here brought a smile to my face.

Minor, but this quote box was also a bit funky for me? I can't tell if it's just my webpage, but for me it cuts off at "and Okāsan has been there to," meaning I couldn't see the final line without copying the contents myself.

Can't wait to read more, both the draft and the final versions!
 

Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
Oh hey, Magma is in this run. Also there's more art in the OP now if y'all wanna give it a look!

AO3

Art

-First thing I have to do is talk about the art! I'm impressed by how your sprite work captures the subtle details that distinguish variants in the world you've built: the stripes on Akahana, the subtle shading on Panahi's underside, the red spot on Iki's head (he looks so happy!), and Tāraki's coloring. The trainers have come out great, too. Each one has a lot of personality, and they represent the characters great in a way that the standard protagonist and rival sprites might not; what were the base sprites you used for each?

-As with Tightrope, I'm a huge fan of the realistic Pokemon artwork you do in the cast section!

Prologue

-The Prologue's prose is gorgeous in how it evokes this sense of mourning and pain, and it works great with the nighttime atmosphere

-"This is far enough—lonely enough." The rhythm of this was wonderful, and it encapsulates everything I said right above.

-You have me very intrigued about what legendary Pokemon are like in this world, both what they're like as their own characters outright and how they relate to humans. Latios has alluded to this, and I'm looking forward to learning more.

-And regarding Latios himself, I find it interesting how even though he seems to be one of the friendlier and more human-interactive of the legendaries, he is clearly not human himself; his mind, thoughts, and perspective seem different. He has this ethereal and mythical feel that builds this distance.

-"Not only must my partner be willing to risk their own life, but also those of their pokemon, or rather, allow their pokemon to risk their own lives." I really liked this integration of Nuzlocking into the story, and I can't wait to see how you explore this

-I love how you connect the timeframe of the prologue to the timeframe to the main story, via Ren and Latios reviewing her journey up until this point as a means of reflection and realization. It makes it important for the characters, not just the readers, so I think is a really effective and clever set-up on your part.

Chapter 1

-Ren immediately caught my interest when her mom encouraged her to say how she felt behind the brave face, and Ren proceeded to put on a brave face and focus on her parents. Tell us how you feel, Ren!

-And Ren immediately won my heart when Birch's lackluster attempts at battling were followed by Ren's detailed and impassioned commands. I am absolutely enamored with the way she battles, here and elsewhere; she just loves it so much, she just can't hope to contain it, and it spills out and is infectious

-I like Jay as a character sooo much despite never getting to hear her speak. She seems to be such a fountain of wisdom

-There is something about the rhythm of this story that I feel gives it these wonderful cinematic moments, where I feel the narrative action swells and I can see a big moment vividly play out before my eyes. I'll make note of these moments as they come; the opening of the Prologue was one, and the sequence in Chapter 1 of Taraki and Ren battling, with her aside about it being in her blood mixed in, is another one of these cinematic scenes

Chapter 2

-Aaah, Ren and Kai's companionship with each other is the star of this chapter! It's fun watching them try to figure out how to carry a conversation with each other, and to watch both be awkward and fumble (but in their own ways in line with each character's personality). Ren's been very accomodating with some of Kai's on/off quirks when it comes to talking

-Ren and Latios's asides surrounding Kai catch my eye a lot, both for the implications for how her relationship with Kai develops in the future and also how she uses these past interactions with Kai to reflect on herself

-The moment where Ren touches Kai and he's taken aback is another one of these cinematic moments. The setting by the pond, the timing of the aside, the soft dialogue that follows - I swear, I can hear the piano music gently playing in the background as this scene unfolds.

-I've felt this is a very honest, but still positive and endearing, look at two people who desire companionship but find it difficult to figure out how to start. They both seem to have trouble expressing what they want, for different reasons, and they get in their own ways. But the way it's written is still very sweet, and watching these two warms my heart.

Chapter 3

-Hoenn is usually one of my least favorite regions, but your version has been immersive and exciting. Getting to see how you envision the landscapes, and the Pokemon variations you come up with, has been a pleasure. The way you tied in Akahana's Thunder Fang to a Manectric lineage was especially fun.

-I really like how the ways in which Ren's Pokemon join her demonstrate a lot about each individual Pokemon's personality and motivations, and they also show us Ren's values as a trainer and the emphasis on her Pokemon's permission. To me, it seems she wants to feel like she's earned each Pokemon's loyalty

-The bakayarou aside made me laugh. Between that, her mom's teasing, and Panahi, it seems like Kai's got a crush ;)

-Similar to what I was saying about both wanting companionship in the previous chapter but not knowing how to go about expressing this, it seems that Ren and Kai both badly want to please each other but neither are confident in how they do so

Chapter 4

-Watching Ren and Kenta was so blessed, omg. It says so much that she can talk to one of her father's Pokemon and I hope to hear more about her childhood because of this

-There is some strain in Senri and Ren's relationship, but it makes me happy that despite that, Senri recognizes what Ren can do for Wally here. I am a sucker for the "adult ignores the parents and recognizes what the kid really wants" type of thing. And bless Ren, too, for being so supportive of Wally.

-I LOVE WALLY! Ren says he shattered her heart with that smile; he won mine with his fire and determination, the way he talks about wanting to prove himself worthy to his starter catch. I can sense a fire inside that kid, and immediately I think about the look he gives you right before battling you at the end of Victory Road in ORAS.

This exchange resonated with me a lot. Despite whatever's going on between her and her father, I admire and cherish how she recognizes the support he has shown for her, and how it bothers her to not see others receive the same. I think about this semi-often, especially cultural differences when it comes to parenting, so to see Ren's statement here brought a smile to my face.

Minor, but this quote box was also a bit funky for me? I can't tell if it's just my webpage, but for me it cuts off at "and Okāsan has been there to," meaning I couldn't see the final line without copying the contents myself.

Can't wait to read more, both the draft and the final versions!
I’m glad the art is enjoyable because I’m proud of it, haha. Ren’s sprite is based on Buck, Kai is a backpacker, and Wally is a combination of Blue and Pryce. As for the character sheets, I got a bit stuck on Iki, but I'm almost caught up now.

I’m still very pleased with how the prologue turned out and the perspective it gives on the narrative. I really needed a hook since the original didn’t have one. There are going to be quite a few gods involved and they are all quite different. I’m glad Latios comes off as not human and hopefully I can achieve something even further removed with some of the others.

Ren is certainly a simmering kettle and it’s nice to get those glimpses deeper in when she boils over. Having the narrator version of her pour the tea is also handy since narrative Ren almost always has a hand on the lid trying to keep it all in. And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that some of the scenes are cinematic since this was originally conceived in a visual medium and pieces of it still play very vividly in my head.

It was so nice to go back and fine tune Ren and Kai’s dynamic. I was very happy with where it went in the original, but the beginning was a bit of a mess since I had a different angle for Kai at first. It’s very gratifying to have their wants and struggles come across more clearly. And I’m very awkward with new people, so I guess that makes me pretty good at writing bumbling social interactions.

Hoenn is certainly not the most visually interesting region in the games, but the world is full of awesome landscapes for me to draw from! I’ve done a decent amount of traveling, at least in the States, and watched a ton of nature documentaries, so my runs always seem to wind up as part travelogue. And of course animals is where my true passion lies, so any excuse to include more about them. Despite how I may focus on the trainers sometimes, the pokemon are a very important piece. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, so poor Ren has to relive her own obliviousness. Kai may be pretty obvious, but he certainly hasn’t tried to communicate his feelings, so it’s not very fair to ask Ren to intuit them. Not that she’s doing much better on that score.

I LOVE KENTA! There is absolutely some strain in Ren and Senri’s relationship, but Ren and Kenta’s is beautifully uncomplicated. And despite the strain, there’s still a lot of mutual love and respect between father and daughter. Ren had a pretty interesting childhood and there will be more on it as it becomes relevant, just as Ren promised at the outset. I’m glad you like Wally too! I can hardly wait to show some more of his personality because he’s a lot of fun.
As for the quote boxes, they seem to rotate between showing everything, having you click to expand them, and just randomly cutting off after a set number of lines. I wish I knew why or how to make it stop. AO3 does not have this problem if you don’t mind reading there.
Ren and Panahi battled a trainer and her Zigzagoon on a grassy knoll overlooking a little seaside village. The Zigzagoon charged, and Panahi hit it in the face with Water Gun. It teetered, dizzy, and collapsed.

“Nice shot, Panahi!”

“Why, thank you!”

The trainer recalled her pokemon. “Nice battle. That is some Wingull.”

“Thanks!” Panahi flew to Ren’s shoulder as the trainer waved and went on her way. “You see that? She said you were a good battler.”

Panahi shuffled her wings primly. “I never said I wasn’t.”

Ren did not get to tease her any further as they were interrupted by a loud chirp from the lone tree sitting atop the hill. There was a Common Taillow with a bright splash of red across its face and breast sitting on one of the branches. It called out to Panahi and Ren again, gesturing with its wings.

“She saw us win that match and she wants to battle,” Panahi translated, then narrowed her eyes and clacked her beak irritably. “She also says she’ll join your team if we can beat her.”

And why did you accept her challenge?

“I figured she must have wanted a trainer really badly. And I thought I could at least give her enough practice to help her impress someone. You know, because I’m a fool.”
“Well, how about it, Ahi?”

“Sure thing, Honey. I think I can take a Taillow, even a cocky one.”

“Alright, open with a Water Gun. Soak her wings!”

Panahi took to the air, and the Taillow followed a second later. Panahi shot off a stream of water as the Taillow arrowed towards her. But before it landed, the Taillow opened her mouth wide, and huge wave of concussive sound burst forth. The Water Gun fell apart, and the sound wave collided with Panahi like a wall. She reeled backward through the air before her wings crumpled and she plummeted. Ren ran forward and caught her.

Houou no niji! Are you okay, Ahi?”

Panahi groaned and Ren withdrew her. The Taillow landed back on her perch and waited, eyes glinting in anticipation.

“Akahana, are you up for this?” The Poochyena nodded grimly and stalked forward, legs stiff and hackles bristling. “You won’t be able to take more than one hit from her, so you have to make yours count. Wait for her to dive and use Thunder Fang.”

The Taillow swooped down, and Akahana leapt to the side as the Taillow released another Boomburst. Akahana was knocked sideways—a glancing blow—but she rolled and sprung back to her paws in one fluid motion. The Taillow flapped a few times in surprised before banking sharply to come in for another pass, diving lower this time. Akahana coiled, sparks leaking from her jaws. The Taillow waited until she was very close before opening its mouth to fire.

“NOW!” Ren cried.

Akahana sprang into the air, and the sound wave ruffled her fur as it passed beneath her. She rolled forward, catching the Taillow’s tail in her teeth, and there was a bright flash as she discharged. The Taillow jerked violently backward, and its back hit the ground hard just before Akahana landed on top of it, forepaws pinning its wings. The Taillow convulsed beneath her, and electricity fizzled through its feathers.

Ren ran forward and dropped to her knees as she reached into her bag, and Akahana jumped off the prone Taillow. “You better not be dead,” Ren muttered as she sprayed it carefully with a potion.

Akahana sat back on her haunches and sighed, fur laying flat again. A moment later, the Taillow opened its eyes.

“Thank Arceus.” Ren sighed, and her head lolled into her hand for several seconds before she came back to herself and sprayed the Taillow again, this time with a paralyze heal.

The Taillow’s breathing evened out, and Ren rounded on Akahana. “Chikuso! What the hell was that! Were you trying to kill them?”

“No,” Akahana responded, cocking her head. “She could have hurt me just as badly with a move like that.”

“She’s a wild, you’re not. She hasn’t learned control.”

“Training or no, battling is dangerous. You must know that?”

Before Ren could answer, the Taillow popped up. It hopped over to Akahana and chirped cheerfully with a dip of her head.

Akahana dipped her head back. “Thank you.”

That gave Ren pause. “She’s not mad?”

“She understands.”

Ren started to say something back, but it caught in her throat. Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to sort it out. In the end, she closed her mouth and rubbed her left hand over the long thin scar on her right forearm. The pokemon continued their conversation without her as she wrestled with herself.

“Ren.”

Ren startled back to the present, and it was jarring. For a moment she couldn’t remember what was happening.

Akahana continued. “She would like to be on your team. She says most of the trainers that came through here couldn’t beat her. She was very impressed.”

“Are you sure she—”

“Please.” Once again that stopped Ren dead. “She’s strong. I know we have a flying-type already, but she really wants to train with us.”

Ren willed herself to focus and locked eyes with Akahana. She looked… pleading. It took Ren a moment to sort that, but then it was obvious. Akahana did feel badly about hurting the Taillow. It was an accident, and Ren had yelled at her for it.

So, we aren’t going to talk about that now?

“You already know what happened.”

That’s hardly the point.

“Just give me a bit more time. It will come up plenty.”

As you wish.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I’d be honored to have her.” Ren pulled out a pokeball and offered it. The Taillow looked back at Akahana for confirmation before hopping forward excitedly and pecking the button. Ren looked down at the ball for a moment before stowing it.

“I’m sorry, Aka. You’re right, and I shouldn’t have yelled at you.” She clutched her arm again and rode through the surge in her stomach. “I just—I have a hard time—” Her hand was changing color from lack of circulation, but it still wasn’t enough. “Nevermind,” she sighed and let go. “That was one hell of a battle.”

Ren offers her hand to Akahana, with a cautious smile. Akahana hesitated for a moment, looking at Ren’s face with her piercing red eyes. Then she closed them and pressed her head into Ren’s hand.



Ren trudged through dark, dense woods with Panahi resting on one shoulder and Iki curled in her arms. Everything was covered with moss, vines, and lichen save for the ferns and mushrooms that sprouted up between roots and rotting logs. Leaf litter crunched beneath her boots, and the canopy tapered above them. She had been in forests before, even old ones, but none like this.

Akahana trotted ahead this time, raising her head periodically to scent the air. Tāraki leapt through the branches ahead of them, attempting to lead, but his path wandered. Māia the Taillow tittered at him, then swooped in a new direction, calling for the others to follow. Ren caught up while they argued. She slumped, letting out a sigh.

“I don’t even mind that we’re lost. I just need a break.”

“I hate how closed it is in here,” said Panahi. “I can’t see the sky at all. May I go in my ball for a while?”

“Absolutely,” said Ren with relief and straightened as the Wingull’s weight left her shoulder.

“It is kind of scary in here,” Iki admitted. “Can I go too?”

“Sure,” Ren sighed and withdrew her as well. “Who wants to tell her she’ll be doing a lot of training in this forest?”

“I think we’re starting to attract attention,” Akahana growled.

Ren looked around more carefully and began to notice that they were surrounded by unusually large mushrooms. Then she saw one move and could hear it quietly snickering. She pulled out her dex, which informed her that they were all Shroomish of about half a dozen different variants.

Maa… Kai would love this.”

Akahana grumbled, and Ren opened her mouth to inform the bickering pair of their current situation, when one of the Shroomish made itself known by stepping forward into the clearing. Its dome was porcelain white with just a little brown at the top, and its squat legs were a dark sepia. It tittered at them, setting off what sounded a lot like laughter from the rest.

“We are not lost!” Tāraki insisted, and Māia’s tweet seemed of a similar sentiment.

“Do you know where a pond with dark water is?” Akahana cut across them. She rolled her eyes at whatever the Shroomish said back but followed when it began to march off slightly to the right of where they were headed. “She’ll take us.”

“You’re the best, Aka.”

Akahana acknowledged that with a flick of her ears, and the other Shroomish parted to let them pass. Tāraki and Māia shrugged at each other and followed.

It turned out they had been fairly close to Tea Pond but probably wouldn’t have found it themselves. Ren stripped down to her sports bra and spandex shorts and took a swim. Panahi paddled around placidly, and Iki skittered nervously across the surface, never straying far from Ren. Tāraki crouched on a rock near the shore and amused himself by plunging his hand in and watching it disappear into the dark water. Māia swept back and forth overhead, practicing her aerial acrobatics, and Akahana and the Shroomish watched from the bank.

Ren dried off on shore with Iki crouching beneath her tented knees. Once she’d had something to eat, she set about assigning exercises to her team.

“Panahi, I want you to practice your Water Gun accuracy on a moving target. Tāraki, you’re the target, and I want you to dodge as best as you can. Try out whatever you feel and see what works.”

“Awesome!” Tāraki crowed, already bouncing. “Come on, Panahi!”

“Alright, Fiddlehead,” Panahi sighed, stretching out her long wings.

“Iki, I want you to practice landing Fell Stinger on Akahana.” The Surskit glanced nervously at Akahana but nodded. “And Akahana I want you to lean on that Quick Feet ability to keep away without running.” Akahana nodded curtly and paced off a little way to get clear of Panahi’s spray. “Māia, you and I are gonna do some drills to get that Quick Attack up to par.”

The Taillow whistled back and leapt off her branch to begin.

Iki peered up at Māia as she swooped, banked, and dove, barely able to follow her movements. She shuffled a little farther away.

“Are you ready?” Akahana prompted, and Iki startled.

“Actually, I was wondering if—if I could ask you for some advice? Before we start?”

Akahana sat down. “Sure. What about?”

“Um, well, any general advice you might have about battling. You always seem like you know what you’re doing, and I… I have no idea.”

Akahana, doesn’t answer immediately, taking time to consider her response. “You need to look out for yourself. Don’t let her put you in danger.”

Iki’s eyes went wide with surprise, and she glanced worriedly at Ren. “She wouldn’t do that, would she?”

“I don’t know. That’s the point.” Iki drooped, and Akahana sighed. “Look, the way I figure it, any trainer that puts up with that mon,” she jerked her head at Tāraki, who was taking a Water Gun directly to the face because he’d a fancy backflip instead of ducking sensibly, “can’t be that bad, or that picky. That’s why I agreed to be on her team. But this battling business is a competition for them. They play for themselves with our lives. She’s good at this, so if we stick with her, we’ll get stronger. But the more powerful we become, the greater the competition. Some day, one of us might not be strong enough, might not compliment the roster enough, might become expendable. I can hope she stays grounded, gets attached to us, takes care of us. But it’s not wise to rely on it. Humans can be fickle and cruel.”

Iki turns turned away and watched Ren and her teammates for a minute. “…You’re right, and if anybody’s going to be expendable, it’s me. I’m just a bug. Battling scares me, but I have nothing to go back to. This is my best shot at a real life, a life that means something…”

Akahana sighed deeply. “Same here, bug.”

“Did that really happen? I guess I’m not that surprised but—wait, how did you see that? I know you've been in my head, but I didn’t know that was how they became friends.”

They are connected to you, and so I am bonded with them as well.

“Even though Iki…”

It does not matter. You are still bonded.

Naruhodo… Why did you show me this?”

I wanted you to understand whose belief you won, how hard it was, and how much you have done for all of them.

“Well, I always knew Akahana had reservations, and her loyalty always felt like an honor. But I suppose it is different to see it.”

Exactly.

“Right. Now, on to my original reason for looking back at this particular training session…”
“Take a breather, Māia! You did great!” Ren called.

“I’m tapping out for a bit,” Panahi huffed behind them. “I don’t have a single Water Gun left in me.”

Tāraki whined and slunk back over when Ren called him. “I have another exercise if you still have still have so much energy.”

“Ooh! What is it?”

“Absorb practice. You’ll be learning Mega Drain soon and we really need to get your focus up.”

“But I hate Absorb,” Tāraki grumbled as he turned to start.

Ren turned to find Panahi and the Shroomish engaged in conversation. Panahi nodded along as she listened, and it didn’t take long for Ren’s curiosity to get the better of her.

“What is she saying?”

“She’s interested in the training exercises,” Panahi explained. “She’s never seen it before. She thought you had to battle other pokemon to get stronger.”

“Well, you still do have to battle other pokemon. It’s the only way to gain power. But the exercises build up your potential and make you stronger over the long haul. And of course, practicing strategies, movements, and execution makes winning battles a lot easier and safer, so it speeds your rate of growth too.”

Panahi and the Shroomish stared at her.

“I’m sorry. That was probably a bit much.”

“Not at all, Honey. It’s always a comfort to hear how well you know this business. Makes me proud to have signed on with you.” Ren felt herself turning red, and Panahi smiled. “Let me just make sure our wild friend here understood all of that.”

Ren was grateful for the opportunity to recompose herself while the Shroomish listened intently to Panahi’s translation.

“She loved it,” Panahi reported. She wants to stay and watch us a bit more if that’s alright. She says she’ll show us some other features of the forest in exchange.”

Ren smiled. “That sounds great.”



Ren trudged contentedly through the forest, following the Shroomish, and Tāraki popped his head out of a nearby tree.

“Is there any way she could move a little faster?” he whined. “I know she has short legs, but I swear she’s slow on purpose.”

“Whine all you want, but I’m glad she found us.”

“I guess Tea Pond was pretty cool,” Tāraki grumbled, face scrunched like there was a sour taste in his mouth “and the berry grove—”

“And let’s not forget how much you loved that moss rock.”

“Well—”

“And that fern glen was pretty sweet.”

“Yes, yes. It was all pretty cool, I’ll admit that. I just think it’s time to get back to the main path.”

“Why so goal oriented all of a sudden?” Ren teased.

The Shroomish chirped, and Tāraki’s face contorted in indignant rage. “That’s why!”

“Got some mouth on her, huh?”

“Yes,” Tāraki hissed through his teeth.

“Well, if it’s any comfort, this should be the last stop on the tour. We are pretty close to Route 104. Then it will be back to the battle grindstone for you. I want to make sure you’re well prepped for the gym. Not to mention we could use at least a little money for food and—”

The Shroomish stopped, listening. Tāraki dropped out of the tree onto Ren’s shoulder. She looked around and saw wild pokemon moving around them, in the opposite direction they were currently headed. The Shroomish purred lowly.

“What’s up?”

“Something strange. Maybe a human in trouble?”

“Let’s find out.”

Ren took the lead, and the Shroomish fell in behind her. As they got nearer, Ren could hear raised voices. She slowed as they approached, placing her boots carefully, so as not to make too much noise. The scene that emerged was an oddly familiar one. There was a middle-aged man on the ground, backed up against a tree trunk with a Poochyena snarling in his face. Only this time it was brown rather than gray and clearly belonged to the tall, rough teenager looming over the scene. He had short, messy hair and was swimming in a red hoodie and charcoal pants two sizes too big for him.

“And that’s when everything started, though it took awhile for me to figure that out.”
“HEY!” Ren yelled before she could think better of it or even really process everything in front of her. “What the hell is going on here?”

The attention of all three snapped to her immediately, and she felt Tāraki’s tail waggle agitatedly behind her head. That drew the eyes of the man on the ground.

“You’re a trainer, right? Please help me! He’s trying to steal my equipment!”

“Stay out of this, kid,” the teen warned her. “You don’t know what this is about.”

Ren’s brow set. “I think I know enough.”

“I don’t want to hurt anybody.”

“It did occur to me that he might actually mean that. It sounded like he did. But all the evidence pointed the other way, and I couldn’t risk it. To even threaten to use your pokemon on another person… Desperation can be just as dangerous as malice. I didn’t know what he was capable of, only what I was.”
“Tāraki, Quick Attack!”

Tāraki jumped off her shoulder in a blur of speed and body-checked the Poochyena off the man before any of them could react. The man scrambled backward, and Tāraki and Ren planted themselves between him and the other two.

The teen’s fists balled at his sides. “You’re making a b-b-b-b—a mistake!” he stammered.

“So are you,” Ren shot back. She could see his jaw muscles grow taught before he barked out a command.

“Bite!”

“Absorb!”

Tāraki’s Absorb hit before the Poochyena could reach him, but it kept coming and sunk its teeth into his tail. Tāraki twisted away, face hard and muscles coiled.

“Keep your distance, Tāraki, and keep using Absorb.”

“If that’s how you want to battle—Fang, use Howl, then Bite!”

The Poochyena raised its head and howled, glowing softly as power surged around it. Tāraki charged up another Absorb and launched it as the Poochyena ran at him. Its jaws snapped shut just short of him as he somersaulted out of the way. The Poochyena shuddered as Absorb sapped its energy but it stayed on its feet.

Tāraki couldn’t take another Bite with the Howl boost, so Ren helped him dodge and slowly sap his strength back. Tāraki dove under the Poochyena in a moment of particular daring, but it paid off. The Poochyena tripped and landed hard. Tāraki slapped its flank with his tail as it got back to its paws, and it wobbled. As close as this was, they nearly had it.

“Come on, Fang!” the guy growled. “Get—” but then he stopped because a golden powder was drifting down from the branches above him and his pokemon. Ren followed his gaze and saw the Shroomish using Stun Spore.

“Shit!” he swore and recalled his Poochyena, who was twitching as the paralysis took hold. He began to stumble away, clearly feeling the effects of the spores himself, and paused to brace himself against a tree for a moment. “Th-this isn’t over!” he yelled before starting off again.

Ren made no attempt to follow. “He’s got some nerve calling me kid.” she muttered. “That gangly asshole can’t possibly be over seventeen.” When he was well out of sight, she turned back to the older man, who was standing and brushing himself off. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, thank you, miss.” he said calmly. She had expected him to be in shock after being threatened with a pokemon. “That was very clever with your Shroomish.”

“Oh, no. She’s wild. That was all her,” Ren shrank back from the… compliment? He probably didn’t realize the implication. Maybe he was in shock.

“Well, thank you anyway. You and your Treecko were very brave.”

“No problem.” She offered him a reassuring smile. “But if you don’t mind me asking, what exactly was that all about?”

“I don’t really know myself,” he answered, picking a silver briefcase off the ground. She eyed him carefully, and he shrugged. “Must have thought I had something valuable.”

“I should go report this, but please take my card. I work for Devon. If you ever need a favor, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Ren took the card, and it did look quite normal and legitimate. His name was Dr. Graeme Aarden, and he was the head of the fossil revival department.

You have superb instincts, or at least a very keen mind under pressure.

“Of course, I looked him up later and found out he was not only a real scientist but a leading expert in his field, which made me feel very silly about being so suspicious.”

But you were right, in a way.

“I guess I was.”
“Let me at least escort you to the road.” Ren said as he was about to leave. “I was headed that way anyway.”

“Oh, thank you, you are too kind.”

He started walking, and she was about to follow but paused. “Tāraki, I know we had that battle, you did great, but thank the Shroomish for me please. That was super smart of her, and she didn’t have to do that for us.”

Tāraki nodded and passed the message on while they all headed for Route 104.



Iki lunged at a trainer’s Seedot, thorn glowing lime green, and managed to catch it just beneath its cap. It keeled over, and the other trainer recalled it.

“Wow. I haven’t lost like that in a while.”

“Hear that, Iki? Nice job!” Iki smiled tentatively. “Oh, and nice battle by the way,” Ren told the trainer and held out her hand. “It was smart to use bide like that.”

“Thanks,” she responded and took the offered hand.

They exchanged a few more pleasantries, which Ren’s team waited patiently through, before parting ways with a friendly wave.

There was more light ahead of them on the trail, meaning they were finally close to the edge of the forest.

“I guess it’s time to get to Rustboro.” She turned to look at her team, and her eyes fell on the Shroomish. “I guess this is goodbye, then. Thank you for all of your help.

The Shroomish looked around and then up at Ren, gurgling seriously.

“Actually, she’d rather come with us, if that’s alright,” said Panahi

Ren smiled down at her. “Sure. I’d be honored.”

Tāraki looked a tad annoyed at that, and Akahana blinked in surprise. Ren crouched down and pulled out a pokeball.

“Sorry I don’t have a name for you yet. I’ll try and think of one before I register you at the next center.”

The Shroomish was not the least bit bothered and hit the button. Ren stood and looked fondly at the pokeball.

“So, Tāraki, this isn’t going to be a problem for you, is it?”

“Of course not,” he said, crossing his arms. “If you think she should be on the team, then it’s fine with me. I don’t know if we’ll be best friends, but I’ll try to get along.”

“Thanks, Shima.”
Māia scared the hell out of me with that Boomburst. Both Panahi and Akahana nearly bit it, but I snaggered her in the end and it was worth it. She was quite the unexpected powerhouse. I was also pretty thrilled to get Shroomish because Breloom is one of my favorites.
Hopefully the worldbuilding was interesting. I had fun with it. Also getting Magma (and Aqua) to make any sense is always a challenge. I did alright the first time and I'm usuing this re-tread to shore up some of the remaining gaps.
Hover for names
Ren
Tāraki
Akahana
Iki
Panahi
Māia
Hakeka

some asshole
Fang
 
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Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18
I almost forgot to post this chapter which cannot stand because I'm very happy with it!

AO3

Rustboro was a dense little city but lacked the skyscrapers of a metropolis like Kogane. Even with all the traffic and bustle, the streets felt wide and comfortable to Ren. There was something almost charmingly quaint about the downtown. Perhaps it was the varied stone facades and carved pokemon adoring the top edge of every building. Or maybe it was the profuse rooftop gardens and street trees full of Beautifly, Dustox, and Taillow.

Ren and Kai walked through the busy streets with their pokemon around them. Jay was now a Combusken, and Tāraki bounded excitedly by her side, burbling away, while Māia flitted above them both, twittering into any pauses in the conversation. A few people gave them looks for having so many pokemon out—most people had only one—but Ren ignored them, steps bouncing from heel to toe while Kai smiled shyly at her.

“Are you sure about treating us?”

“Of course! Your first badge deserves some celebration! Especially after a match like that! I can’t believe you picked the Rock Gym first. You’re braver than I thought!”

“It was just because I have to survey Mt. Rose. I have my whole route worked out and I have to stick to the schedule to get every location I picked. I only want to take one gap year before college.”

“I’m still impressed, dude. It’s so cool that you know what you want to study and everything already. And taking the Gym Challenge on top of that? I couldn’t do it.”

“You have a full team already!”

“Only because I’m a sap.”

Kai took a few bigger steps to catch up. “I know your dad is a Gym Leader,” he persisted, “but it’s supposed to take months to build up that kind of stamina.”

“What can I say? I run hot.” Run shrugged. “But if we could back up to that badge match, you and Jay pulled off a mid-battle evolution! That’s so rare!”

They found a native restaurant with an open patio and claimed a table. Jay sat down gingerly in one of the chairs and carefully slid her tail through a hole at the back. Tāraki hopped up to stand in another empty seat, while Panahi and Māia landed on the table. Māia puffed herself up and chirped at Jay, who clucked back, fiddling with her long claws on the table. Kai stifled a chuckle.

Ren chuckled too. “You can battle Jay next time we have a match, I promise.”

“Hell yeah!” Māia crowed. Ren stared at her, not quite believing it.

“Oh, can you understand her already?” Kai asked.

“Not until just now!” Ren squealed. “Shiawasedaaaaaaaaaaaa! Kimi no himitsu wa kyousou-ryoku o kanjiru kotodesu!

Māia puffed up again with joy and Ren grinned for a moment before clearing her throat awkwardly when she realized she had slipped into Kantogo. Thankfully, a waitress came to her rescue and handed them menus.

“We serve pokemon dishes here if your teams are hungry,” she informed them before leaving them to make their selections.

“That’s so cool!” Ren exclaimed, looking it over. “Do you all want anything?”

“Well, what do they have?” asked Panahi.

“There are a few pokebean-based dishes, but you’ve all basically been eating that as chow since we left. There’s mushrooms and some vegetables.” Panahi stuck out her tongue in disgust. “There’s a nectar drink.” Tāraki gasped and started bouncing up and down in his chair, hands pressed to the table. Ren laughed at him. “As if you need the sugar! But I’ll order you one.” He crowed in delight. “They have some meat options too. Oh, braised Magikarp!”

“Yes please, Honey!” cried Panahi, and Māia nodded.

“Akahana?” Ren asked.

“Never had it,” Akahana mumbled, not lifting her head off her paws.

“Oh it’s a treat! You’ll love it!” Panahi crooned down at her, and Akahana grunted what could be construed as an affirmative.

“I’ll have a little,” Iki piped from under Ren’s chair.

“Shroomish wants berries,” Akahana added in response to her new teammate’s clicking.

“Done!”

They put in their order, and Tāraki continued to bounce in place from sheer anticipation.

“You never really introduced me to the newbies,” said Kai.

“Right! Well this ace battler of a Taillow is Māia.” The tiny bird stood her very tallest on the tabletop, flashing her red chest in Kai’s direction. “And I actually don’t have a name for this clever creature yet.” She gestured down to the Shroomish. “I’ve just been calling her Aragekikurage. It’s a mushroom,” she explained when Kai looked confused. “I don’t know if it grows here, and it doesn’t actually look much like her. It’s just the same brown as her underneath. It’s not even a cap—more wrinkly and it feels like velvet.”

Kai thought about it for a few seconds. “Oh! we have that! It’s called a wood ear!”

“Pfff! I see it.”

“The Hoenni name is hakeka, I think.”

“I like that much better! Thanks, Kai.”

His cheeks reddened. “No problem.”

“Right! That reminds me! I didn’t tell you before because I didn’t want to distract you from your match, but I have another little present for you.” She pulled out her nav and slid it over to him. He took it, looking adorably puzzled, then his mouth fell open, and his eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. Ren smiled fondly at him, her own jaw propped up on one hand in a way that failed to conceal a self-satisfied smirk.

“There must be at least ten variants.” He was breathless. “Holy—holy shit.”

“I marked the location for you~”

Kai’s eyes went glassy, and Ren couldn’t hold back a laugh anymore. He reddened and buried his face in his napkin, which made Panahi snicker behind a wing.

“I went a little overboard, didn’t I?”

You were nervous.

“I guess… Yeah, I was. I think an even younger me would have been fine on my own, just me and my team, but after… everything, I missed my friends. I missed people— more than I was willing to admit to myself.”
Kai was still a bit red and could barely even thank the waitress when she returned with their cart of food. Tāraki sipped his nectar through a straw, eyes closed in absolute bliss, and Jay seemed nearly as pleased with her taro and Wurmple hash browns. Akahana took a rather delicate first bite of her Magikarp but was wolfing it down seconds later.

“So, I’ve been thinking,” said Ren in her best attempt at nonchalance. “Since we’re both traveling now, maybe we could do it together?” Kai nearly choked on his boil-up. “We don’t have to! I know you have all your stuff going on. I just thought… Well, it was really nice having you to show me around.”

Ren glanced away in embarrassment, and it was her turn to blush all the way to the tips of her ears. When she forced herself to look back up, Kai was staring at his plate, and the motion of his shoulders indicated he was wringing his hands under the table. Ren’s gut gave a horrible lurch, but before she could make herself say anything, Kai started.

“It’s a good idea!” he blurted.

Ren’s face settled into a huge toothy grin, and a terrible weight lifted off her shoulders. Kai finally looked up at her and sagged in relief, matching her smile with a far more tentative one.

Panahi shuffled her wings, looking immensely satisfied, and probably not entirely from the meal she had just finished. Ren was about to shoot her a glare when she noticed a private little smirk on Jay’s face as well that made her think Kai finally finding his voice was probably her doing somehow.

Ren resolved to thank Jay later—but not now. She didn’t want to push her luck.

“Great! Then we’ll do it.”



The next day Ren and Kai headed out east on Route 116 towards the picturesque Mt. Rose. It was the sort of Mountain range one might find in a fanciful painting and was all the more breathtaking in reality. Ren kept finding herself craning her neck back to look at the peak, though that was more due to proximity than sheer height.

Akahana went abruptly still ahead of them and picked up her ears.

“Something’s not right,” she murmured.

Everyone else stopped to listen, and after nearly a minute of straining at silence, the wind changed, and Ren finally heard faint wailing that grew louder and more instant.

“What is that?”

“Hunting,” said Akahana.

Then another sound, low and lilting, almost like music, drifted over it.

“Is that singing?” Ren wondered.

“It’s pokemon, not human,” Akahana answered

“Let’s check it out!” Tāraki cheered and bounded off.

Jay took off after him, followed swiftly by Māia and Panahi. Ren shook her head before leading the rest of them. Akahana walked tall and stiffly, ruff raised all along her back and Iki stayed close behind her.

As they approached the singing became more distinct and musical but wordless, while the growling and wailing faded altogether. Finally they found half a dozen Cloaked Poochyena asleep on the ground around a stately old tree. A fluffy Skitty sat on one of the branches, singing clearly and gently, and Ren began to feel a bit drowsy. Fortunately, the song drew to a close, and the Skitty slipped easily back down out of the tree with the grace of regular practice. It gave a low, dramatic bow to its slumbering audience and sighed.

Ren whistled, and it looked up at them all in surprise. Rather than being intimidated by their number, it smiled and trilled a sweet greeting at them. Kai already had his dex out.

“Looks like an Angora variant, but they aren’t wild.”

“Those Poochyena are out cold. That’s one powerful Sing,” said Ren. “Hello Skitty! That was pretty cool. Do you only sing lullabies or do you put on other performances as well?”

Akahana stepped up to translate, and the Skitty looked very pleased indeed by the interest and complement. It sauntered over to answer and settled its plume-like tail primly over its paws.

“He says he mostly only sings lullabies to avoid being eaten, but that’s more or less a full-time job. He prefers singing dance tunes but he’s happy to take requests.”

“That’s nice of him. And I’m sure Kai wants an interview. But maybe we should move this somewhere else?”

They all retreated a ways and found a clearing to have lunch in. Kai and Jay talked to the Skitty while the others ate. Tāraki, Hakeka, and Māia finished quickly and wanted to train, so Ren had the plant-types work together while Māia tried out some aerial maneuvers on her own.

Akahana listened passively to the various goings on, head on her paws and one eye closed. But as soon as the interview was over, the Skitty sauntered over to her, and Akahana raised her head to talk with him. Ren watched more curiously the longer their conversation went on. It was rare to get more than a few laconic remarks from Akahana. And for having nearly been eaten by a pack of Poochyena earlier, the Skitty’s posture was easy and confident beside her. He even leaned in and crooned now and again, a cheeky grin on his face, which Akahana tolerated with her usual stoicism.

Finally, Panahi called him over for something to eat, and he went with dip of his head and friendly brush of his tail. Ren went to sit by Akahana.

“Anything interesting?”

“He was born out here. His father was a pet, his mother was wild. He says it’s tough because his fur isn’t really suited for the weather. He goes into the city sometimes but hasn’t had much luck there… And he’s a flirt.”

“Oooh?” said Ren with a barely suppressed grin.

Akahana snorted. “Not my type.”

“Only other dark-types or—”

Suddenly a commotion erupted from where Tāraki and Hakeka had been practicing.

“What does it even matter anyway?” Tāraki yelled. “I’m still a better battler than you even without my ‘strongest move’! You’re just jealous!”

Hakeka railed something back at him, and Ren was already running over. “Whoa! Break it up! What happened?”

“She started it!” Tāraki shrilled. “She always—”

“Don’t give me that!” Ren cut him off sternly. “Just tell me what happened as straightforwardly as possible. You know I can’t understand her that well yet, so I’m trusting you to be as fair as possible.”

Tāraki grumbled and crossed his arms, taking a few breaths to calm himself down a little. “She got annoyed because I wasn’t doing well. She said I was lazy and stupid for not working as much on my special moves as on my physical ones.” He took another breath and muttered, “and I called her jealous for not being as good a battler as me.”

“Well, first of all, she is definitely not jealous. You know that right? If she has a problem with you, it’s for something else.” Tāraki nodded, tail still twitching in agitation. “And she does have a point, even if she should have said it more kindly. All of the strongest moves in your pool are special attacks, so if you really want to be a battler, it’s worth it to work on them—especially if you want to fight in this Gym.” He accepted this without objection but looked far from happy, and Ren turned her attention to Hakeka. “That being said, we are a team and we should all treat each other with respect. Special attacks are more difficult for Tāraki than they are for you, and you shouldn’t put him down for something he can’t control. Understood?” Hakeka nodded. “Good.”

Hakeka left, and Tāraki lay down on the ground, looking tired and dejected.

“What’s the matter, Shima?”

“She said I wasn’t trying, but I do. It’s not just that I don’t like special moves. I can’t focus on them. It makes my head hurt. I just… can’t.”

Ren laid a hand gently on his back. “You know that’s okay, right?”

“But—”

“It makes things harder, but there’s nothing wrong with you, okay?”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. That’s normal. And we’re partners. I’m your trainer. I’m here to help you. If special moves are really that difficult for you, we’ll find a way to make them easier. And we’ll find a way for you to battle that plays to your strengths. You don’t have to be like everyone else to be strong and cool, because you already are.”

Tāraki launched himself at Ren and hugged her tightly, and she squeezed him back just as hard. He rubbed his head against her collarbone, and she laughed at the affection.

Then a wail sounded from nearby followed by voices and caws of distress. Everyone stopped.

“Peeko! Give her back! Please!”

A moment later an old man stumbled past the edge of the clearing and tripped. Ren ran to him and carefully helped him up.

“Are you okay, sir?” Kai fretted.

“What’s going on?” said Ren.

“My Peeko, my darling Wingull! He took her!”

“Who—”

“Which way did he go?” Ren asked urgently.

“He’ll head for the tunnel. Only good escape route.”

Ren turned to go, but Kai caught her arm. “Wait!”

“He stole something from Devon, a briefcase. That’s why Peeko and I were confronting him. I’ll go with you.”

“No. Please just sit down, sir. I’ll get your pokemon.”

“But Ren—”

“I have more pokemon, and someone should stay with him. I’ll be careful, I promise.”

Kai wrung his hands for a moment, face twisted up with nerves. “Okay,” he said finally.

“Be right back!”

She took off, and her team followed, while Kai and Jay guided the old man to a rock to sit down on.

“Thank ye, lass!” he called after her.

It didn’t take long for Ren to find the route again and the tunnel under the mountain that it led to. The larger car entrance was blocked off, but the footpath looked open, and the lights were on. Just as she reached it, a horrible cacophony of sound struck her, stopping her dead. Ren clamped her hands over her ears and stepped to the side to escape the blast range.

“Whismur,” Akahata growled, ears pinned to her head. “And Loudred,” she added as a deep throbbing bass hummed up through their feet. “Tons of them.”

“I’ve never heard an Uproar like this,” Panahi whined, head between her wings.

“Shit shit shit!” Ren yelled, barely audible. “We can take one guy but not a whole army of wilds.”

It was then Ren noticed that the Skitty had followed them. The sound from the tunnel grew louder again before tapering off, and he mewed.

“He says he might be able to calm them,” said Panahi. “Apparently he sings for them sometimes.”

“Please. You can name your price afterward.”

The Skitty nodded and puffed out his chest before stepping in front of the tunnel as another swell of sound bloomed out of it. He projected his voice in a way that defied all probability, one clear note cutting through the disorienting chaos until it split and softened. Then he began his lullaby.

Ren withdrew her team before they could be ensnared and covered her ears, following behind as the Skitty walked calmly forward into the underground. It wasn’t enough to block him out completely but it did keep her from getting too drowsy. The Whismur faded to almost nothing for a while, but then there was a yell and the glimmer of what might have been Water Gun ahead of them, and the Whismur voices swelled again.

Ren and the Skitty raced forward, and he sang as loud as he could until suddenly nothing came out. Ren looked and saw that his mouth was still open and his ribs still heaving, and she was baffled for a moment until she realized the Whismur must be canceling him.

The whole tunnel began to resonate, and Ren had to stop as the ground became unstable. Then the rock around them cracked like thunder, and the ceiling above them trembled and fractured. She sent out Akahana.

“Get the Skitty out of here!”

She looked Ren in the eyes for a moment, then grabbed the Skitty by his scruff and ran back towards the entrance. Ren sent out Tāraki, and they ran deeper in. The figure was just ahead of them now, struggling with a Wingull.

Stones began to fall all around them, most of them small but increasing in size as the rock groaned and crackled. As they closed on the thief, she realized he was the same gangly teen from the woods with his red hoodie and Brown Poochyena. The Wingull wrested her beak free as he stared at the shaking rocks all around him and blasted him in the face with Water Gun. Spluttering, he lost his grip, and the Wingull soared over their heads straight for the entrance. As Ren’s eyes followed, she noticed the ceiling buckling.

“Look out!” yelled Tāraki, and she withdrew him.

The teen had followed her gaze and fumbled for his own pokeball.

“MOVE!” Ren bellowed, charging towards him.

But he didn’t. Instead he just stared at the rocks about to crush him as his pokemon flowed safely back into her ball.

Ren tackled him, and they went skidding back across the floor. She landed on top of him, hands on his chest, face almost hitting his shoulder, as a cascade of rocks fell with a shaking rumble. They both remained still for a moment, eyes squeezed shut, waiting for it to be over.

Nothing hit them.

They cracked their eyes open, and she released her death grip on his hoodie. It was darker. The ceiling lights must have gone out—been destroyed—but the emergency lights along the floor were still working, casting everything in a soft, warm glow.

The thief looked up at her, eyes like saucers until something above her caught his attention. Before she could turn her head, He grabbed her around the shoulders with one arm and threw up the other. She flinched as a rock struck his arm just above her head and rolled off onto the floor with a thunk. It was larger than his fist.

“Ow,” he said, and his arm fell across her back. He let out a long breath, and his head lolled, but she could hear his heart thundering through his chest. Everything else was quiet. Then he finally seemed to register that Ren was on top of him, that he was holding her there, and he threw his arms off.

Ren glared down at him as she pushed herself up.

“I’m sorry!—I mean, thank you!—I mean—” he stammered and then covered his face to stop himself. “Oh, fuck.”

Ren stepped off, but stayed looming over him and scowled. “That’s more like it. Believe it or not, I didn’t come in here to save your pathetic ass from being crushed by rocks.”

He sat up. “R-r-right. Yeah… B-but, um, th-thanks anyway.”

“You just stole an old man’s Wingull and nearly got us killed! I don’t want your fucking gratitude!”

He nodded sheepishly and got to his feet.

“Give me the Devon package!” she demanded, and her eyes bored angrily into him as he turned and picked the silver briefcase off the floor behind him, arms trembling.

Ren only glanced to make sure it looked right before snatching it from him. She glared at him as he wiped his face and patted the dust off his uniform. For a moment, Ren thought he split his lip, but she soon realized it was a scar, much like his nose had healed slightly crooked. He made to touch the back of his head, which must have hit the floor when they fell, but he stopped, sucking in breath, and clutched at his injured arm. He had rather intricate black tattoo sleeves that were difficult to make out against his brown skin in the dim of the emergency lights. The trembling was probably mostly adrenaline, but he was soaking wet, and his cropped hair was matted up with dust.

“Just go,” she told him.

He looked at her. “What?”

“I’m not gonna keep you here or drag you in. Just tell me your name, and you can go.”

“You’ll t-tell the p-p-police and get m-me arrested.”

“No I won’t. I have six pokemon with me to help haul you in if that was what I wanted.”

“B-b-b-b—” He couldn’t get it out and swallowed before trying again. “Why?”

“So I know what to call you.”

He opened his mouth, then closed it again, chewing over several different things while she waited. “It’s J-Josh,” he said finally, “Josh Takamoana.”

“Alright Josh, I hope we never see each other again but I have a feeling we will. You better hurry. All that noise is bound to draw some attention.”

He gave her one last lingering glance before turning and stumbling towards the other side. Ren watched him until he disappeared. Then something at her waist gave a tug. Red light sprang from one of her pokeballs and formed into Tāraki.

“Are you okay? You scared me!”

“Yeah. Sorry, Shima. I’m okay.”

He climbed up her and looked at the rubble all around them. She turned back to the way they had come. It was dim, and there were a lot of rocks to climb over, but she could see daylight beyond.

“What happened?” Tāraki asked as they started to pick their way through.

“I saved that guy from getting squished and got the Devon thing back but I let him go.”

“Why?”

“Just a feeling.”

And what feeling was that?

“Pity mostly. He was younger than me—still just a kid really—and already so beaten and desperate.”

Very sentimental.

“I didn’t feel right punishing him any more, especially not when he banged up his arm protecting me.”

And what else? What did you see?

“I don’t… Even then, when he saw that rock coming down, his first instinct was to shield my head and not his.”

You saw someone like you.

“I suppose I did.”
They stumbled out of the tunnel, and Ren’s eyes had barely adjusted to the light when something bumped into her and nearly knocked her off her feet.

“You’re okay!” Kai exclaimed and held her tight just to be sure “We heard the sound, and I was worried so we ran over, but then the tunnel collapsed, and I thought you were dead!”

She felt a trembling and squeezed him back. “It’s okay. I’m okay.”

“You’re shaking,” he said into her ear. He was right.

“Oh. It’s just the adrenaline. Don’t worry.”

Ren disentangled herself and saw the old man was standing there, cuddling with his Wingull. Akahata even wagged her tail a little when Ren looked down at her. The Skitty walked up and put a paw on her foot, mewing sweetly.

“He’s glad you’re okay. Also he’s been saying that he owes me for saving his life and wants to come with us so he can pay me back somehow.”

Ren’s smile turned to a frown. “I promised him but I don’t have a slot left. I’d have to leave one of you with Otōsan…” She sat down on the ground so she didn’t have to stand on her unsteady legs as she thought about it. “Kai, how would you feel about adding the Skitty to your team?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind. Jay?”

She nodded.

“We’re traveling together, so this way you’ll still get to see Akahana. Is that okay?” The explanation was satisfactory, and he happily went into Kai’s offered pokeball.

Kai sent him right back out, and he weaved through Kai’s legs and settled on Ren’s lap, purring loudly. His vibrations seemed to calm her own, and she pet his soft fur.

Then a Whismur hopped out of the cave and cautiously approached them. It was rather large and light gray in color with yellow markings. It called out to them with a surprisingly deep voice for its size and the Skitty answered.

“Uh, so the Whismur heard the Skitty try to stop the Uproar,” Kai said as they went back and forth, and Jay twittered a translation. “And he’s heard him sing before and always liked his voice. So he wanted to thank him. And now with the tunnel collapsed and everything else. He wants to know if I’d be willing to take him too.”

“Well are you?”

“Yeah. A Bass Whismur would be perfect.”

As he got out another ball, the old man approached with the Wingull on his shoulder.

“Thank ye so much, lass. Can I know your name?”

“It’s Kosugi,” she answered and offered her hand to shake.

“Oh, this is Captain Briney,” said Kai.

“You saved my dear Peeko. If there is ever anything we can do for you, please let us know. We have a good boat, so if you ever want to get to any of the isles, we’ll be happy to take ya.”

“That’s very kind of you. I’m sure I’ll take you up on it at some point.”

“Do,” he said with another firm shake.

Kai sent his new Whismur back out, which made Ren realize the rest of her team was still in their balls, and she released them.

They had barely finished the introductions and explanations when the Rustboro police arrived.

“I didn’t tell them about Josh's scar or his nose or his tattoos or anything else useful. I said it was too dark, and I didn’t actually catch him, that he dropped the briefcase in the panic. I couldn’t have told anyone why I did it at the time.”

But you understand now?

“Yes. I do.”
Mele and Horu were my catches for Route 116 and Rusturf Tunnel. I used both of them some, but when I was restructuring, it wasn't quite enough to justify trying to juggle them on Ren's team again. But I couldn't let them go either, so I gave them to Kai instead! They're both such fun characters and I still wanna use them.
Hover for names
Ren
Tāraki
Akahana
Iki
Panahi
Māia
Hakeka

Kai
Jay
Mele
Horu

Josh
Fang
 
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Zephyr_Iphis

cryptid
Artist
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
101
Caught
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Surrounded by animals
Nature
Quiet
Pronouns
she/they
Pokémon Type
Flying, Steel
Pokédex Entry
It protects itself from the cold by wrapping up in blankets. It loves food and cooks constantly.
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
Back again and that's a wrap for Part One! Next week there will be an extra and then on to Part Two!

Ren and Tāraki stood in the immaculate hallway on the top floor of the Devon building. Despite donning the most businesslike outfit she had in her vapor box, Ren was feeling rather underdressed for the occasion, especially when a woman in a custom tailored suit emerged from the office across from them.

“Mr. Stone will see you now.”

She held the door open for them, and Ren thanked her as they went in.

The walls of the generous office were covered in cases of specimens from glittering crystals to polished granite. The floor was beautifully striated, pink marble that was somehow still less impressive than the lobby, which had them walking over an incredible array of intricately arranged fossils.

Mr. Stone stood from his large desk on the far end of the room to greet them. He was an older gentleman with silver hair and a perfectly trimmed beard.

“Lovely to meet you, Miss Kosugi,” he said as he shook her hand. He then he gestured to the chair in front of his desk. “Please have a seat.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Nonsense, it is I who must thank you,” he said as Ren sat down, and Tāraki jumped to the arm of the chair. “The package you recovered was an extremely important prototype. My company and I are indebted to you.”

“You are welcome, sir. I just didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”

He gave a warm smile—warmer than she had been expecting. “That is very admirable of you, Ms. Kosugi, but I did not invite you here just to thank you personally.”

“You really don’t have to do anything,” Ren said firmly. She had hoped to avoid a reward after purposefully letting the thief go… twice.

“Please allow me to anyway. It is only fair,” he insisted. “I’d like to offer you full access to all of our nav apps, free of charge, and of course upgrade your nav to any model you choose. We also have an extensive line of accessories for trainers that may be of use to you. Ms. Ikeda will assist you as soon as we’re done.”

Ren weighed whatever was happening in her conscience against the risk of exposing herself and Josh for a moment before realizing it was moot. Despite Mr. Stone’s jovial bearing, she could feel that he wasn’t going to budge.

“That is very generous, sir. Thank you.”

“Very good.” He regarded her for a moment, hands knit together and thumbs wandering back and forth. “There is one more thing. This in no way effects anything I have already offered, and you are under no obligation to accept, but I was hoping you might run an errand for me—paid, of course.”

Now that she wasn’t expecting. “What sort of errand?” She asked carefully. She saw Tāraki cock his head in her periphery.

“Delivery. Specifically taking the parts you returned to me twice to my son in Dewford. It would be a great personal favor.”

The odd feeling that had prodded her back in Petalburg Woods reared up stronger than ever, and she gripped the arms of her chair. She had let go of the idea of asking questions before she even entered the building. Now there was no way not to.

“Before I decide, I have a few things I would like to ask.”

“About the incidents?” he asked, and she confirmed with a nod. He was sharp. “By all means. You and your pokemon were, albeit unintentionally, put in jeopardy. You are perhaps owed some manner of explanation.”

“Thank you, sir. Can I ask why you sent your top fossil scientist to deliver this prototype and not a courier? It seems like, as the head of the department, he might have other things to do.”

The corner of his mouth turned up just slightly before he leaned back a bit. “Ah, yes, under normal circumstances I certainly wouldn’t have, but since this was sensitive material, I needed someone I trusted. Devon may make most of its money nowadays from navtech, but I founded this company as a fossil revival center, and that has always remained my passion. Graeme has been here since the very beginning, and I’ve worked with him for much of my life. He is a close friend.”

In that moment, Ren resented her gut just a little for being right again because now she had to follow it. “Please excuse me—I don’t mean to sound rude or accusatory—but it seems as though Dr. Arden, and by extension yourself, may have expected an attempted theft?”

“To be perfectly frank, yes. Yes, I did.”

“So, do you know who is trying to steal this prototype and why?”

“Yes, I believe I do.” For the first time, Mr. Stone’s flawless posture wilted ever so slightly, and he paused for a moment, as if reluctant to elaborate. “This may sound strange, and I hope you will forgive me—I do not mean to cast aspersions—but I am fairly certain Magma is behind the attempted thefts.”

Ren had no idea what that meant or why he should feel uncomfortable saying it. Tāraki tilted his head all the way in the opposite direction, brow furrowing. He was doubtless even more lost than she was. “Is that… a criminal group?”

“Heavens no!” Mr. Stone exclaimed, raising his hands as if to push that idea away from him. “I forgot you are new to the region. No, Magma is a humanitarian organization. Their focus is infrastructure and affordable housing. I collaborated with them recently on the Rusturf Tunnel project.”

Mention of the tunnel made Ren’s chest tighten. “I’m sorry about the collapse.”

“It is unfortunate,” he said with a sigh, “but not your doing. Problems with the Whismur plagued it from the beginning. I suppose Captain Seaborne was right after all…” His eyes drifted out the window as he fell silent.

Ren felt a pang of sympathy. Continuing to pry didn’t seem kind anymore. Mr. Stone was under a lot of stress, and this wasn’t just business to him. But she looked over at Tāraki, saw the confusion on his face, but when their eyes met he smiled and nodded encouragingly. Her resolve hardened. He couldn’t understand much of what was being said, but he trusted her to make the right choice. They were all relying on her.

She didn’t mince her next words. “Do you think the project may have just been a way for them to get inside information about your company?”

“I admit to briefly considering the possibility.” He rearranged some items on his already orderly desk. “However, taking into account the organization’s history and having met with their leaders personally, I find it unlikely that their work up until this point has been some kind of smokescreen for criminal activity. That is to say, I do not believe this was motivated by greed. It seems more likely to me that they have found some way other than public appeal to further their agenda and that the technology they are attempting to steal will help them in some way.”

Now that was an interesting wrinkle. “And what exactly are they trying to steal?”

“A new type of energy converter,” he answered easily. Ren had half-expected him not to disclose anything at all. And that made her feel better even though things had become more complicated.

“So with all of that going on, why ask me to take the package?”

“Firstly, you have already proven yourself trustworthy. You had ample opportunity to take the parts yourself, knowing full well that they must be very valuable, but instead returned them twice. Secondly, since you are not a Devon employee or affiliate, Magma is unlikely to suspect you are carrying anything for us. And thirdly, if they do find out, you have already demonstrated you are a competent enough trainer to fend them off.”

“Oh.” That was all very well reasoned. “Thank you, I guess.”

“That being said, I very much doubt they will come after you. I wouldn’t have asked you if I thought they might. However, I completely understand if you don’t want to take any more risks. It is your choice.”

“He had such a reassuring way about him, that in that moment I really did believe everything would be fine. And I think he did too.”

If he is anything like Steven, I’m sure he would never have sent you willingly into harm’s way.

“No. He wouldn’t have.”
“I’ll do it. I’d like to visit Dewford anyway.”

“Thank you very much, Ms. Kosugi.” His relief was even more gratifying than the genuine gratitude in his expression. “Once again, you are really getting us out of a bind. Will you need travel accommodations?”

“Ah, no sir, or I don’t think so anyway. Captain Briney offered me a ride.”

Mr. Stone smiled broadly. “Jim? Well, that works out very well then. He has a lovely boat, and his cottage is quite close. Do send him my regards. I haven’t seen the old rascal in quite some time.”

Tāraki climbed up her shoulder and wrapped his tail around her neck. “Will do, sir.”



Ren walked out of the Devon building with the prototype in her vapor box and her bag full of new tech. Mr. Stone had not been kidding about the trainer equipment; Ren had to admit she was pretty excited to try out her collapsible screen and use her new solar generator the next time she camped out. But the shine wore off quickly as her mind wandered, and she soon found herself watching her boots tromp down the sidewalk. Without Mr. Stone there to reassure her, doubt was creeping back in.

“That went well!” Tāraki piped up by her side.

“Yeah, he told us a lot more than I thought he would,” Ren admitted distantly.

Tāraki cocked his head, trying to look up at her face for a moment or two before giving up. “Though I guess I still don't understand all of it.”

“We should tell the others. Come on, I think there's a park nearby.”

It was small, like most things in Rustboro, but there was a pond with blooming lily pads and a pretty little gazebo. Ren let out the rest of her pokemon, and they listened as she and Tāraki explained the situation.

Ren expected them to say something when she was done—opinions, comments, at least one question—but none of them did.

“Are you really okay with this? I mean, I’m not even entirely sure what I’m getting us into.” She looked from one to the next and was met with nothing but mild confusion.

“You’re the leader,” said Akahana at length—deliberately, like she was explaining something obvious. “It’s your call, trainer.”

Iki nodded in agreement, and none of the others raised any objection.

“Wait, hang on, that’s not the way I want to run this team.” Ren swallowed, a little shocked at her own dismay, but it did nothing to keep the anxiety out of her voice. “It—it isn’t right. You’re my partners. I want your input.”

Hakeka grumbled, and Panahi nodded along. “Maybe not how I would have put it, but you have a point.” Ren gave her a questioning look, and Panahi elaborated. “It’s just that you’ve already accepted.”

“I would go give it back right now if it mattered to you!”

“I’m sure you would,” Panahi said delicately, obviously still at a loss for what exactly the issue was. “Do you not want to do it anymore?”

“No, I do.” Ren looked at them, hoping one of them would understand, give her something so she could stop sliding helplessly downwards.

They looked at each other, and Akahana’s tail twitched. Finally Hakeka grunted.

“What do you want from us?” Akahana translated.

“I just want to know what you think! I know I already explained things, and you all seemed okay with it, but maybe I didn’t really give you all a choice. I want to give you a choice. Besides, you’re all smart. I just thought—well, maybe we shouldn’t be relying on only my judgement all the time. Please just tell me what you think. Should we do this?”

There was another silence and a few more glances between the pokemon before Māia piped up. “Why not? Even if another one of those Magma trainers comes after us, we can totally take them. We’re strong!”

“That’s right!” said Tāraki. “We’re all getting to be pretty good battlers.”

“He said they probably wouldn’t know it was us anyway, r-right?” Iki asked. “It doesn’t seem too dangerous.”

“And we could use the money,” Akahana concluded.

The last two weren’t as forthcoming, so Ren prompted them. “Hakeka, what do you think?”

Hakeka snorted, followed by some gurgling.

“She thinks you worry too much,” said Tāraki. “Seems like a low risk with a high reward.”

“Ahi?”

“I agree with everyone else, Honey. But listen: it’s great that you want to know what we’re thinking and all, really it is, but it doesn’t change the fact that you have the final say in the end. You are the leader. You need to own your decisions and take responsibility.”

“I didn’t know why that made me so uncomfortable, so I didn’t say anything. And she was right: I am responsible.”

Perhaps, but not for everything you think you are.

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

If you wouldn’t hear it from Steven, you will not listen to me. Not that he has any authority on the subject.

“Then why are we talking about it?”

My hope is that you will see it yourself. That is why we are doing this exercise. But it won’t work if you are so defensive.

“Alright, I’ll try not to be.”
“I—thank you, Ahi.” Ren took a deep breath and nodded, face set. “Okay. We are going to do this, and I’ll take full responsibility for what happens. But I just want all of you to know that I never want to make you do anything you don’t want to do. You should be able to make your own decisions too.”

“Awesome! So when are we challenging the Gym?”



The Rustboro Gym stood out boldly from every other building in the city, not just in size but in architecture—if it could be called that. The exterior looked more like a jagged, natural rock formation than a human structure, yet it was still regular and purposeful. Ren wondered if it was pokemon-built. Kai confirmed for her that is was, more specifically, a team of Lunatone, Solrock, and Probopass.

The lobby doubled as a gallery of the Leader’s personal rock and fossil collection, much like Mr. Stone’s office. This one turned out to be more like a museum, albeit a small one, with informative plaques next to each case. The glass roof, which had been invisible from the outside, flooded the space with natural light. Beyond the desk at the back of the room was a thick glass wall that opened onto the arena. Kai hung back while Ren and Tāraki approached the receptionist.

“Hello miss,” the receptionist greeted her. “Ready to take the Gym Challenge?”

“Hell yeah!” Tāraki cheered, bouncing up and down on Ren’s shoulder.

“That’s right!” Ren echoed.

“And what badge will you be aiming for today?”

“My first.”

“Oh! I would have guessed second or third with a full team like yours.”

“I may have over-prepared a bit,” Ren admitted with a shrug.

“No such thing,” the receptionist responded with a smile. “I’ll just scan your trainer ID and get you started. Would you like to battle the Gym trainers at your badge level before the leader?”

“Absolutely.”

“Alright then. I’ll put you on the roster. You can enter the arena as soon as the other trainers are ready.” She fixed Ren with a knowing grin. “I don’t think you’ll need it, but good luck, Ms. Kosugi.”

Ren’s face began to twist into discomfort, but she covered it with a smile.

What did she say that upset you?

“Living in a new region, surrounded by strangers, I kept forgetting that most of the League employees would already know me or at least recognize my name. The expectation would be enough, but I… I know Otōsan and I have a lot in common, but I like to think some things are different.”

Is this another point we must revisit later?

“Yeah. Won’t be able to avoid it.”
Kai went to look at one of the cases, and Ren and Tāraki to look out at the arena while the Gym staff and students prepared. Tāraki climbed the glass with his amazing toe pads to get a better view. It was significantly larger than standard and contained uneven terrain and rocky outcroppings rather than being packed flat. Massive fossilized skeletons loomed over the defending side, and the recessed viewing stands were almost hidden in the towering rock of the adjacent walls.

“It really is your kind of battlefield, no?” Ren asked Tāraki. He snickered gleefully back, wiggling in place while his face stayed glued to the glass. “We’re gonna crush this.”

Kai offered her a good luck handshake when it was time and went to sit in the stands with the Gym’s more experienced trainers and other spectators.

Ren sent out the rest of her team to watch, and the first trainer sent out a Binacle.

Ren nodded to Hakeka, and she trundled forward. The starting whistle sounded, and the Binacle fired off a Sand Attack, but Hakeka turned and received it with her cap, saving her eyes. Knowing the Binacle wouldn't move, Ren didn't have her wait for the dust cloud to clear before launching a Mega Drain that took it down.

The rest of the trainers went by nearly as fast. Tāraki faced a Dwebble and easily defeated it with his superior speed while Hakeka downed a Rolycoly, Roggenrola, and finally a Carbink with a combination of Leech Seed and Mega Drain.

When that was done, the Gym leader herself finally appeared. She looked younger than Ren knew her to be, though that may have been the twin buns on her head or short, stylish dress and colorful stockings. She walked out to the center of the arena to greet Ren.

“You’ve battled all of the badgeless trainers who are in at the moment. Very thorough.”

“It’s such a great opportunity for experience. I didn’t want to miss it.”

Roxanne smiled broadly. “Excellent. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Ren.” She extended a hand, and they shook.

“Likewise.”

“So are you and Stripes ready for your lesson?”

“Yep!” Ren chirped and then something hit her. “Wait, how did you know his nickname means stripes?”

“Oops! Uhhh…” Roxanne floundered, and Ren’s face pinched in pain.

“Oh Arceus, there’s not some kind of League chat that he talks about me in, is there?”

Roxanne chuckled sheepishly. “Yes, but you didn’t hear that from me.” Ren grabbed her head, posture shrinking with mortification. “Don’t worry about it! It’s not nearly as bad as when Wattson spams us with pictures of his grandkids. And Phoebe and Sidney are real shitposters… Come to think of it, Steven and I have been kicked off a few times for talking about fossils. Apparently we’re supposed to ‘keep that rock shit to ourselves’ and ‘not freak everyone out by blowing up the chat with eight-hundred-and-sixty-three messages.’”

That pulled a chuckle out of Ren. She had to wonder who was the admin if not the Champion, and who was reprimanding?

Roxanne smiled before leaning in, face suddenly stony, and she gripped Ren’s shoulder firmly. “But seriously, this conversation never took place.”

Ren snapped to attention. “Hai, sensei!

Roxanne straightened up and smiled again. “I like you, Ren. Let’s get started.”

They paced back to their squares, and Roxanne sent out a Geodude.

“Alright, Shima, Knock ’em dead!”

Tāraki ran into the ring and tensed, whole body quivering with excitement.

“Celestine, Rock Throw!”

“Dodge and Mega Drain, Tāraki!”

The Geodude started hurling rocks, but Tāraki skittered out of the way and dove behind the nearest rock. He climbed it and leapt from one to the next, zig-zagging but drawing ever closer to his opponent. The next projectile flew over his head as he ducked and danced away from three more, grin broadening. He used the last as a stepping stone to reach the top of a high boulder and launched a Mega Drain at the spent Geodude.

“Nice one, Shima!”

“Tackle, Celestine!”

“Quick Attack!”

The Geodude lunged forward and leapt up, but Tāraki slammed its arm on his way down and knocked it off balance. It crashed into the side of the boulder and rolled to the floor.

“Tackle!”

“Mega drain!”

The Geodude charged, but Tāraki flipped over it, bouncing off its head with his hands. Before the Geodude could come around, Tāraki sapped its remaining strength, and it rolled to a stop. Roxanne withdrew it.

“Well done.” She sent out a Nosepass. “Akivi, let’s hem in this acrobat: Rock Tomb!”

The Nosepass’s palms glowed, and rocks began to hail down around Tāraki on all sides. He hopped around trying to avoid them but had nowhere to run and disappeared beneath them. His head popped out as a stone fell away, and he strained to free himself as the Nosepass prepared to hit him again.

“You can still hit her from there!” Ren called to him. “Use Mega Drain!”

Tāraki stopped struggling, charged, and fired. The Nosepass remained impassive, but Tāraki glowed as its energy flowed into him, and he burst out of the rock pile.

“Rock throw!”

Tāraki dashed from one piece of cover to the next as projectiles fired at him and shattered.

“Mega Drain!”

“Tackle!”

Tāraki stopped moving to charge up his attack, and the Nosepass ran at him. Tāraki’s Mega Drain landed, but the Nosepass was undeterred and crashed into him. He went flying back but landed on his feet on a bit of high ground.

“One more Mega Drain!”

“Rock Tomb!”

The Nosepass readied her attack, but Tāraki was faster. The rocks she was lifting fell to the floor before she could fire them. Tāraki puffed out his chest as the last of her energy flowed into him. The Nosepass drooped ever so slightly and was still. Roxanne withdrew her.

“Congratulations you two!” Roxanne called, withdrawing her pokemon. She walked down into the arena to meet Ren in the middle. Tāraki leapt down, and Ren caught him in her arms, holding him to her chest as he squeezed her neck.

“You’ve certainly demonstrated you know the basics.” Roxanne continued. “Plenty of trainers can win their first badge with a simple type advantage, but the way you countered my attacks shows dedicated practice and solid strategy.” She pulled a small box out of her pocket and offered it to them. “I’ve rarely been so happy to hand over a badge.”

“Thank you,” said Ren, and the strain in her tone took her by surprise. She should be happy about this. She had been a moment ago, but now a familiar dread clawed at the back of her throat, squeezed her ribs. She remembered the heat coursing through her veins as she directed Tāraki, and her arm gave a throb.

“And Ren.” She wrenched herself back out of her head to look Roxanne in the eyes. “Good luck with whatever you decide. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do.”

The pressure in her chest lifted and sighed back into position. A smaller smile returned as Tāraki wriggled up around her neck to get back to his usual spot on her shoulder. “I won't.”

Ren thanked her again as they parted and walked slowly back to the rest of her team waiting in the challenger’s square. Even after all that strain, Tāraki’s tail waggled with frenetic energy behind her head.

“Well, Tāraki, is it everything you hoped and dreamed?”

“Hell yeah it was!” he crowed, and Māia whooped, pale underwings flashing. “That was so much fun!” Ren couldn’t help but smile, and Tāraki grinned back at her. “Although, I wouldn’t have minded evolving super dramatically in the middle of the match like Jay.”

Ren laughed. “Maybe next time.” She held up the badge to him. “Should I put this away or do you want to wear it?”

“I don’t care about that thing. No offense. I mean it’s shiny and whatever, but I don’t need it. I just want to battle like that again! Really push myself, you know? That was seriously awesome!”

You were seriously awesome. I’ll take it into consideration.”

“I’m taking the next Gym!” Māia reminded them, shoving Tāraki’s tail aside to claim Ren’s other shoulder.

Kai came bounding out of the stands. “You did so well! That was such a cool battle! Using the terrain like that—all those awesome flips Tāraki was doing—we have to battle again!”

“Alright,” said Ren, stifling a giggle.

“But you probably have to get going…” He stared down at his feet.

“We’ll see each other in a week, just north of Slateport, right?” He glanced at her as he nodded, and she flashed him a big smile. She wasn’t sure which of them needed the reassurance. “Train hard between all the science or we’re gonna beat you into the ground!”

“We will!”

This time, when she hugged him, it wasn't stiff.

“Um, could you maybe do me a favor though?”

“Sure! What's up?”

“Could you get me Steven Stone’s autograph?”
Tāraki did not evolve until after the gym fight in game, so I wanted it keep that image of my little gecko boy wiping the floor with a rock colossus. And I also wanted to save his evolution for a different moment that has a little more long tern significance to his relationship with Ren. This was an easy battle in game and I didn't want to make it more dramatic than necessary. I've got groundwork to lay around here. You'll get your dramatic battles later on.
Hover for names
Ren
Tāraki
Akahana
Iki
Panahi
Māia
Hakeka

Kai
Jay
Mele
Horu
 
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MouseWithADinosaurTail

A Comedian At Heart
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
1,464
Location
Snubbville
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
She's like a sea urchin. Tough and prickly on the outside, but delicate and easily wounded if hit the wrong way. Please handle gently.
I loved beta'ing this chapter! The gym battle was so fun that I had to keep reading even when I was incredibly dehydrated, hahaha. What a great first part! Keep it up Zephyr, you're on fire!
 

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