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Written Story Johto Teen Mon The Phoenix: A Crystal Nuzlocke

Thread Description
I'm gonna change you like a remix! [Updates Wednesdays! Chapter 13 posted Oct 16]

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
A year ago today, I finally stopped lurking and started posting my very first Nuzlocke, The Scientist! Today, after a wonderful year of being part of this community and improving as a writer, I'm very excited to start posting the sequel!

...Yes, sequel. You won’t get the full enjoyment out of this if you haven't read the first one. But, that being said, I think this story can probably stand on its own! Let's put it this way: it's best that you go read The Scientist first, but if you're not interested in ever reading The Scientist, I'd rather you skip right to this one than read neither of them. This story means a lot to me for various reasons, some of which I'll probably go into detail about later.

One of those reasons is that I feel this is where I've really started to find myself as a writer! I've started to develop my own style a lot here, and there are some moments that I'm really, really proud of. I've almost finished the entire draft, which means weekly updates! It also means that I've been able to clearly see my own improvement over the course of the story before I even start posting it, and I'm not as happy with the earlier chapters... but stick around, because I'm really excited for some things that are coming later!

You can also read this on AO3!

Anyway, enough rambling! Here we go!

-Catch only the first eligible Pokemon in each area
-Dupes clause is on
-Shiny clause is on
-I am not allowed to use any of the same Pokemon that were used in The Scientist. There are also a few Pokemon I'm not allowed to use purely for plot reasons.
Bulbasaur
Pidgey
Caterpie
Geodude
Abra
Meowth
Jolteon (any other Eeveelution is fine)
Lapras
The plot-related ones:
Spearow
Oddish
Drowzee
Hoothoot
-I am never, ever allowed to spoilers spoilers spoilers
-If my starter faints, they cannot be replaced, and I must go the rest of the game with only 5 Pokemon on my team.
-Legendaries may be caught, but not used in battle
-All Pokemon that faint must be permanently boxed and not used again
-Nickname all Pokemon
-The run ends when Lance is defeated

Banner by @Zephyr_Iphis!

I'm supposed to be overqualified for this job.

I trained a championship-winning team. I've grown up around labs, and spent a year officially helping Professor Oak raise some starter Pokemon. And as if that wasn't enough, I even had a huge role in taking down Team Rocket. After everything I've done, being in charge of raising a trio of starters for Professor Elm should be easy.

Apparently, no one told that to the starters.

“Don't bite him so hard, Totodile! It's just training! You're too slow with your dodging, Cyndaquil! And Chikorita, now would be the perfect time to launch a projectile attack while they're both distracted!”

My words seem to have no effect, as usual. The Chikorita is determined to do nothing, nervously watching the other two fight from as far away as possible. If I were training her for a tree-climbing championship, she'd be less hopeless -- she's currently high up on a branch and trembling like, well, a leaf. It's impressive that she even got up there, but what am I going to tell Elm? “Well, this one's not much of a fighter, but at least she knows how to climb trees! There are trainers out there who are looking for that in a starter, right?”

Down below, the Cyndaquil squirms free from his opponent and launches a triumphant counterattack. His small legs don't propel him very far, and he's easily swatted out of the air by the grinning Totodile. Not to be deterred, he struggles to his feet to try again, breathing hard, blood trickling from small bite marks on his side.

“That's enough,” I say wearily, stopping them before any serious injuries can happen. “It's getting late, so let's call it a day, okay? There's always tomorrow.” Always another day to fail miserably at turning these three into proper starters. No matter how much overtime I put in, I never seem to get anywhere with them.

I reach for the Totodile’s Pokeball, and his teeth reach for my hand in response. “Behave,” I command in my sternest possible voice, yanking my arm back. “Or you won't get to train tomorrow at all.”

After a brief moment of tension, he slowly closes his mouth, accepting his fate. I sigh in relief as I recall him. The Totodile is by far the strongest of the three, and the obvious choice for any serious trainer, but how can I send him out into the world when he has no self-control? In the wrong hands, it would be so easy for him to become a killing machine.

“You can come down now!” I call treeward. “He's gone.” The Chikorita hesitates before scrambling down the tree and into my waiting arms. I stroke her leaf reassuringly, and it's not long before she's all smiles. This one would make a perfect companion Pokemon, but labs don't produce companion Pokemon. I'm supposed to be making a fighter out of her.

“Maybe tomorrow you can at least move on to fighting another Chikorita?” I suggest. So far, the only thing she'll attack are plastic targets.

She looks scared at even the thought of it, so I sigh, wish her good night, and watch her disappear into the safety of her Pokeball.

When I reach for the third Pokeball, the Cyndaquil flares his flames in protest.

“I know you don't like going in there,” I say as I kneel down to look at him. “But you're covered in bites and scratches, and the healing machine can deal with them quicker if you're inside your ball.”

He puffs out his chest in a defiantly adorable I-am-tough-and-not-hurt-at-all gesture, and I can't help smiling through my concern. This one's got far too much determination to fit into a body as small as his. All Cyndaquil are small, of course, but this one's an actual runt. He's running out of time to do much more growing, and there's already been an alarming lack of change in the numbers the last few times I weighed him.

“I know,” I agree. “You fight well, and you'll beat him soon. But you won't beat him at all if you're tired and scratched up, so let me heal you, okay? Besides, you know the lab rules. I can't leave you outside of your ball when no one's around.”

The Cyndaquil frowns, but he lets his flames die down, and when I reach out to ruffle the fur on his head, he goes back to smiling.

“See you tomorrow,” I whisper as he disappears. For a moment, I just sit there, holding his Pokeball. Three starters. One fierce and disobedient, one gentle and timid… but it's this little one that worries me the most. Would any trainer ever choose someone so fragile? And if they did, could they keep him safe?

At least I can keep him safe right now. I stand up, brush the dirt off my jeans, and carry the three Pokeballs into the lab. Everything’s quiet as I slide them into the healing machine. All my coworkers have gone home, since they have the ability to raise actual desirable starters that get snapped up by trainers.

What's wrong with me? Did I never have any real skill at raising starters? Alone in a different region without Gary and Laurel around to help me, I haven't been able to do anything right. Every day, I'm more surprised that I still have a job. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason Elm hasn't fired me is because he just enjoys watching the security footage of my training and laughing at it.

I can't go home until I make sure the starters have been healed properly, so in addition to lamenting my situation, I pass the time by wandering the building and making sure all the lights are off. Being the one who always has to lock up the lab is an unfortunate side effect of staying late.

I'm standing in a storeroom in pitch darkness when I hear the phone ring. It's so tempting to not answer it (the lab is technically closed, after all), but I don't want to get extra fired for ignoring important phone calls. Making a mad dash through the hallway, I slide into the main office and pick up the receiver with just a second to spare.

“Elm labs, Tessa Linden speaking,” I say breathlessly.

“Oh, good,” the familiar voice crackles over the line. “I was hoping you'd still be here.”

Yes, Elm, I'm still here. As usual. Because you assigned me the most troublesome trio of starter Pokemon in existence.

“What is it, Professor?” is all I say, though.

“Remember how I said earlier that I've gone to visit a friend outside of Cherrygrove today? Well, it just so happens that Samuel came all the way from Kanto to visit him too, and we all got caught up in talking about our research and lost track of time...basically, I don't think I'll bother coming home tonight, so I wanted to ask if you could come in a little early tomorrow to open the lab.”

Professor Oak is here in Johto? I guess I should be grateful that he didn't show up at the lab, but I'm sure Elm is still telling him all about my amusing failures.

“I was going to come in early anyway,” I reassure him. Not that I'm happy about it, but I do need all the extra time I can get.

There's laughter in the background. “I have to go,” Elm says quickly. “I really appreciate it, Tessa." A click, and then silence.

Yup, definitely telling stories about my amusing failures.

Well, nothing I can do about that. Time to store the Pokemon safely away, lock up, and come back tomorrow to repeat this pointless effort all over again. Sometimes I regret essentially retiring from battling.

The recovery machine is still beeping away when I return, so it takes me a minute to realize that there's anything unusual going on. A closer look reveals only two Pokeballs filling up the slots, and I feel a brief spike of panic.

I shake my head to clear it, trying to dismiss my typical paranoia. What's the worst that could happen? I must have not locked one in properly and it rolled onto the floor, or maybe I absentmindedly left one outside. But then my eyes are drawn to a set of muddy footprints by the wide-open door, confirming my worst fears.

No time to waste. I've got to be ready for this. In one fluid motion, I snatch up the two remaining Pokeballs and throw them into my bag, then lock the door and let it slam behind me as I run out into the backyard. I realize the situation isn't as bad as I think once I glimpse a flash of red hair and dark clothes disappearing over the fence.

Still holding my keys, I unlock the gate and dash through it, catching the thief by surprise. Already halfway down the path, they don't look back, but I can see their pace quicken. I grit my teeth and run right after them.

There's no way I'm letting a Pokemon thief escape me this time.

They're trying their best to do exactly that, though, immediately heading for the trees to throw me off their trail. It's some comfort that I know the wooded area fairly well, but knowing which Pokemon and plants can be found in the area is hardly the same as knowing where each individual very trippable tree root can be found. The setting sun doesn't help, either.

But I seem to be taller and older than the thief, and I find myself closing the gap a little with every stride. Even just keeping them in my sights for as long as possible is better than nothing. It sure beats being drugged with Sleep Powder while they teleport away, at least. Whoever this is, they're much less prepared for a heist than Team Rocket ever was.

I used to feel kind of silly for all the time I spent worrying, running over seemingly unnecessary plans in my head about what I’d do if something like that ever happened again. Now that it has happened, I desperately wish that I was back at the lab feeling silly, making plans that I wouldn't actually need.

Why me, again? I can't help lamenting. It's as if I have a big sign around my neck proclaiming “Please steal from me!” The worst part is, it's never my Pokemon. I'm not looking forward to telling another professor that I lost an important Pokemon.

At least this professor isn't my mom.

I keep a close hand on my bag, making sure the two remaining Pokeballs are still there. Without my actual team on hand, they're all I have to fight with should I manage to catch up. I'm just hoping that any amateur thief desperate for a starter Pokemon wouldn't have a good team with them. Or any team at all, ideally. No matter which two I have, I don't like my chances against absolutely anything.

Even though I'm in shape, I find myself breathing hard, frantically dodging left and right and trying not to trip on what I now realize are an unreasonable amount of very trippable objects on the forest floor. So it's a relief when the thief finally comes to a halt right on the outskirts of Cherrygrove (how did we make it all the way here?) and turns around to face me.

I can barely see them through the shadows of the trees and the darkening sky, but it's still obvious that they really are just a kid. Their clothes are much too big and much too torn up, and probably much too stolen as well. A shoulder-length curtain of chronically unbrushed red hair frames a frustrated scowl.

“Why do you even care?” they demand. “I saw how frustrated you were with all of them. You should be grateful I took one off your hands. It's not as if Elm doesn't have a bunch of replacements, anyway.”

I'm torn between righteous anger and pity, and it honestly surprises me which one wins out.

“You could have applied for a starter,” I say with an unexpected amount of kindness. “You could have gotten a license and gone out to catch anything you want. You still can. Give me back the Pokemon and I won't press charges.”

The scowl deepens. “You don't know anything!”

What is up with this kid? “I know that I'm giving you a second chance, and you're wasting it.”

“I'll battle you for it,” the kid says, gripping the Pokeball tighter. “If I win, I keep it.”

I snort. “You know I'm a champion, right? Also, absolutely not.”

“A champion with no team, just two weak starters,” the kid declares, throwing the Pokeball anyway.

Okay, they've got a point there.

I'm not surprised to see the Totodile appear. It's the kind of choice I'd expect from a burglar, and it's the worst-case scenario for me to fight against. It looks back and forth between us, confused.

“You've been kidnapped,” I say, trying to sound reassuring. “Just agree to come back with me to the lab, and it'll all be okay.”

“Don't you want something more than that?” the kidnapper jumps in immediately. “I've seen you fight. You're stronger than the others, and they're just holding you back. Why wait around for a trainer to pick you when I've already picked you now?”

The Totodile turns away from me, considering this. “Totodile, please!” I beg. “You don't know anything about this person other than they stole you. Come back with me and we’ll find you a good trainer.”

Even in the darkness, I notice a brief flicker of surprised happiness on the kid’s face at my use of they -- but then they’re right back to sneering. “His name isn’t Totodile. It's, um...Chomp.”

Pleased by this idea, Chomp grins, revealing many appropriately sharp teeth. He steps in front of the kid and narrows his eyes at me. I can't believe this.

“Send out a Pokemon, or it'll be you that gets torn to shreds,” the kid threatens.

My hand has already closed around the Chikorita's Pokeball inside my bag, but I flinch and it slips through my fingers. Every time I think I'm over it, something like this happens, the robbery and the sharp teeth and the torn-up grass Pokemon, and why this again?

Deep breaths. Grab the other Pokeball, throw it, and have faith in the Cyndaquil’s fighting spirit. I've come way too far to fall apart over a misguided kid and a Totodile I trained myself. Type advantages be damned; the Chikorita is not my best option here.

Without hesitation, the Cyndaquil’s flames blaze to life, softly illuminating the area around us. Fire won't do anything against a Totodile, but at least he's prepared to fight. “Be careful,” is the first thing I tell him. “I'm pulling you back at the first sign of danger, but give it all you have.”

“Bite it, Chomp!” the kid yells. Chomp snarls and charges forward, teeth flashing.

Okay, speed. We've got an advantage on that front. “Tackle!” I call out desperately.

A small hop out of the way, a small lunge forward, and it's the Totodile who ends up sprawled on the ground.

“Get back!” I order. The Cyndaquil dashes over to stand in front of me while Chomp is already scrambling to his feet.

The kid’s eyes narrow. “Water Gun.”

I laugh. “Nice try, but he doesn't know that yet.”

Determined to prove me wrong, the Totodile opens his mouth. I'm expecting nothing, but suddenly there's water gushing forward, taking me by surprise. The Cyndaquil is equally unprepared, getting knocked back by the torrent and collapsing facedown in a puddle of mud.

When he doesn't get up right away, I run over and kneel by his side, not caring how muddy I get. He coughs feebly and spits out a mouthful of dirty water. Once he gets his breath back, I gently lift him into my arms, then spin around to confront Chomp and the thief.

They're both gone.

Cherrygrove City lies just ahead, taunting me with its many hiding places. I suppose it's a good thing that my first thought was to ensure the Cyndaquil’s safety, but it's led to me losing the thief.

Well, looks like I need to head in to their Pokemon Center anyway. How hard can it be to find a redheaded thief who’s only been gone for a minute?

Knowing my luck, probably very.
So, let's get the important stuff out of the way first:
-Silver in this story is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns, as you may have guessed!
-This takes place roughly three years after the end of The Scientist! I think I mentioned that earlier, and it'll definitely come up in the story, but I wanted to make that clear right from the beginning.
-I do plan to have regular Wednesday updates like before (unless you all yell at me to slow down... feel free to do that)! But there might not be an update next week, or it might be late, because I'll be away and won't have super reliable internet access. Sorry!

(this is where I start rambling. feel free to stop reading now)

I'm so excited to be back and posting regularly again!!! This story is really important to me and I can't wait to finally share it with all of you. But I admit, I came very close to delaying it. I was really stressed about whether or not it was ready, mostly due to the fact that I feel unhappy with the early bits compared to the later bits. Also because I didn't quite manage to finish the entire draft (still have 2.5 chapters to write). I am never, ever setting myself a deadline to get something like this done again, because it's not worth the stress.

The thing is, I couldn't finish it because I'm still struggling with mysterious voice problems, and with that on top of my tendinosis, I don't know how much writing I'll be able to do in the immediate future. Writing is one of the few things that I have been able to handle, and if I lose that, what am I going to do? I don't want to bury you all in negativity here, but that's the way things are for me right now, and I figure it's worth mentioning. I might be a bit less active around here because of it, and at least I will be for the next couple weeks, since I'm going away. I'm just really tired right now, and I'm hoping having a little bit of a break will help me, but who knows?

...Anyway, I really don't want to ramble about my problems too much. It's been a pretty great year, all things considered. Thanks for sticking around <3
 
Last edited:

Dustox

Professional Schemer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
10
Caught
May 15, 2019
Messages
142
Nature
Hasty
Pronouns
He/Him
Pokémon Type
Bug, Poison
Pokédex Entry
"No matter how hard you look, you won't see what I'm scheming."
So after being stupidly MIA to read and comment on The Scientist, I was one, very excited to see that being ported slowly so I need to actually get on that this time attention brain. And two, I was very excited to see the sequel you mentioned in your epilogue and that it'd be in Johto and it's here!

First, I love an "older" protagonist story (not sure how old Tessa is now compared to The Scientist) and I'm a sucker in seeing them in a unfavorable setting. Like you may have won the championship and beat the anarchist crime organization, but you are in the mercy of youthful starters this time! I feel like I would appreciate this more if I had read your previous run, but I feel like it stands enough on its own? You were able to leave out the small crumbs for context like Tessa's mom's Pokemon being stolen and some not-so-nice experiences around Oak, so I appreciate that.

I'm sad the Totodile wasn't chosen but the Cyndaquil is interesting here; I'm sure Tessa and him will have some need to iron things out. Also, a non-binary Silver is also interesting and I'm curious to see where this leads to.

Anyway, I'll hopefully have the time to read The Scientist but I'll do my best to keep up with this one! Excited to see where this is gonna go!
 

cross_off

you chase the dragon but it follows you home
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
168
Location
waterloo, 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
look if 'I'm gonna change you like a remix' isn't a killer tagline then I don't know what is,

but anyways I've been waiting for this to drop ever since the scientist wrapped up and this didn't disappoint in the slightest - we've got a look at tessa a little down the line as well as a very snappy way to start it off. feels very true to life that raising starters is not necessarily going to be as easy as training was and the quiet frustration definitely rings out through this piece (as well as the exasperation of 'really, another stolen pokemon, are we really doing this again?').

also I like how you spun the first battle as a loss for the sake of plausibility - totodile manifesting water gun came as a surprise but it was an appropriate one that makes sense in the grand scheme of things. going to be interested to see how tessa and her cyndaquil go about tracking silver down...anyways this was a good start and I dug it, can't wait for more.
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
I always love ruleset mysteries. :) Also, if your starter dies, the fact that you must go with only 5 Pokemon? Heartbreaking. T-T

Oof. Starter shenanigans. I always wondered how they turn out to be such good leaders in nuzlockes. Apparently, it involves a lot of work on the intern's part.

There's no way I'm letting a Pokemon thief escape me this time.
*The Scientist flashbacks* My heart! T-T

“Why do you even care?” they demand. “I saw how frustrated you were with all of them. You should be grateful I took one off your hands. It's not as if Elm doesn't have a bunch of replacements, anyway.”
>_>

yay for proper pronouns yay for cute nickname ...not yay for the most dangerous starter being out and about
 

Rhema

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
112
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.
I love this. I'm currently in the process of re-reading The Scientist (okay okay I only read a few chapters back then, but I want to read them all now!) and it's so cool to me to see Tessa older and more experienced! I also found the opening of Chapter 1 to be hilarious; we've all had those moments where we should be overqualified to do something but life has other plans for us. Tess has always been super likable to me and I'm excited to see more of her on this new journey!
 

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6
What do you mean this is late? It's Wednesday, isn't it? :P

@Dustox That’s not stupid! You can't read and comment on everything. Fair warning, things are going to get kinda spoilery for The Scientist. It's mostly going to be a gradual buildup of small mentions of things that happened, but sooner or later, it's all going to add up to some serious spoilers. (But if you haven't read The Scientist, what were you doing looking at the epilogue?)

Tessa is 18 here, and 15 in The Scientist! And yes, even all her experience can't prepare her for everything...

Nothing bad happened with Oak, actually! She just doesn't want him to see how badly she’s messing up her job here. As for standing on its own, I admit I wrote all this with the assumption that people wouldn't be skipping to this one... there's a lot of stuff that isn't really explained because it's just kind of assumed that everyone knows, which might become a problem, whoops.

I mean, were you really thinking even for a moment that I wouldn't choose Cyndaquil? :P Glad you think he's interesting already, since he's pretty much the heart and soul of this story, and I've tried to make him as interesting as possible...

Thank you!


@cross_off Thank you! It's a line from the song the run is named after, although how that all relates to the story remains to be seen...

After how much I stressed about this opening chapter, seeing “this didn't disappoint in the slightest” hit like a lovely punch in the face full of reassurance (if that makes sense?) And yes, unfortunately for Tessa, we're really doing this again. Not my fault this game actually starts off with a Pokemon being stolen :P

As much as I love this smol Cyndaquil, he just really doesn't stand a chance against angry bitey water types, I'm afraid. And he's “her Cyndaquil” already, is he? Interesting…

Thanks so much!


@Bowser's Family Vacation The mysterious rule is essentially what this entire story is built around! It's gonna be fun. ;)

Some take more work than others! They can't all be perfect like Laurel, sadly.

Geez, a “My heart” already? We're only just getting started! I hope I don't kill you with all the stuff that's coming up later... although it would be good revenge for what you've been doing to me with Ashes to Ashes lately

What? That's not cute! It's intimidating! ... at least, that's what Silver would say. (but it's actually pretty cute)


@Rhema Glad you’re enjoying this one too! (Just beware of spoilers, as I said…)

The nurse at the Pokemon Center is clearly surprised when I hand her a dazed and muddy Cyndaquil. He had flat-out refused to return to his Pokeball, and as he didn't seem seriously hurt, I gave in and carried him all the way there. My shirt couldn't possibly have gotten any muddier, anyway.

“I'll be back soon,” I promise the Cyndaquil as he's whisked away for treatment. I doubt there's anything I can do about the thief right now, but I head outside regardless. Surely somebody has seen an angry red-headed kid run by.

“You look like a tourist!” an old man down the street greets me, a please-let-me-sell-you-something look on his face. “Interested in a tour of this lovely city?”

I'm pretty sure I just look like a crazed mud wrestler, unless it's common for people to slather themselves in mud before visiting Cherrygrove. “That depends,” I say. “Does this tour include showing me the location of a suspicious-looking red-haired kid? Because that's all I'm interested in right now.”

The old man strokes his beard thoughtfully. “I did see someone like that. Ran right past me before I could finish explaining the various tour packages that are available. Kids these days...” He shakes his head.

“What direction were they heading?” I ask, hardly able to believe my luck.

“Hmm, I'd say towards Violet City. Don't know what the rush was all about. The next tour group doesn't leave for there until tomorrow.”

Not remotely surprising, but it's good to have confirmation. “Thanks!” I call out behind me as I head back to the Pokemon Center, ignoring the pamphlets he's desperately waving at me. Anyone who feels the need to steal a starter Pokemon is almost certainly aiming for the league challenge, and Violet has the closest gym. This means I can probably keep tailing the thief, not that I know what to do if I catch up to them again. I just don't have the heart to report someone who seems to be in a difficult situation to the police, especially when their only crime so far is stealing a Pokemon who wanted to be stolen.

It's not up to me, though. I hate to bother Elm on his day off, but there's no way I'm trekking back to New Bark tonight just to tell him in person tomorrow that I let one of his Totodile get stolen. Doing nothing so that he shows up at the lab in the morning and finds that I've disappeared along with three starters is not an option, either. Much as I don't want to, I have to call him.

I do have my phone, but it seems to have died at some point between New Bark and here. Looks like I'm stuck using one of the fancy new public video phones at the Pokecenter. Pushing through the main doors, I intend to head right there, but the nurse at the front desk waves me over. The Cyndaquil has been healed and de-mudded already, it seems.

“Here's your Cyndaquil!” she says with a smile. “He'll be just fine.” The Cyndaquil nods, trying to reassure me, but I know he's the kind of Pokemon who would say he's fine and able to keep fighting even if all his limbs had just been ripped off and he was bleeding to death.

“He's not my--” I start to say, but give it up. I'm more focused on pulling my jacket out of my bag and putting it on over my filthy shirt before I pick him up. No point in just getting him muddy again. He snuggles into my arms, glowing with much more warmth than he did back when I scooped him out of that puddle.

We head over to the deserted video phone section, where I sit down in front of one of the screens with a sigh. “It really is time to go back to your Pokeball,” I say as sternly as I can manage. “You don't want to be around when I tell the professor about all this.”

His glare clearly says I'm not going anywhere, and his steady heat is comforting after all that's happened, so I give up. “Fine. But it won't be any fun.” He just snuggles in closer and waits impatiently for me to call.

It's a good thing I have Elm’s cell number memorized. I'm expecting him to not pick up, but after just a few rings his face appears, barely visible against the night sky. He must have gone all the way outside just to take the call where it's quiet, and I feel extra guilty for thinking he'd ignore me.

“Tessa?” he asks, confused to see me sitting in a Pokemon Center with the Cyndaquil. “Did you take the Pokemon on a field trip? To... Cherrygrove?”

Here we go. I take a deep breath and launch into a frantic explanation of what happened, punctuated by frequent pointed remarks of “Quil!” from my companion.

“Of course, it's all your decision, professor,” I babble. “But this kid doesn't seem like a terrible person, more like someone who's in a bad situation. And I genuinely don't think that Totodile ever wants to come back.” I can't read his expression, don't know if he's angry, disappointed, about to fire me on the spot.

“I'm sorry,” he says, surprising me. “It must be difficult for you to be in this situation again. I want you to know that I do not expect you to go chasing the thief all over the region. This is just one Totodile -- not that all Totodile are interchangeable, of course -- and I don't want you worrying about it. You can just head back to the lab, Tessa, and I'll assign you another one.”

Okay, this is not how I was expecting this conversation to turn out. “But I'm worried,” I insist. “Those two might end up being a bad combination. I'd like to follow them around for a little while, make sure nothing too violent happens. I'd feel terrible if I ignored the situation and let it get out of hand.”

“Well, if you want,” Elm says, clearly unconvinced. “Take the time to go to Violet, at least. You deserve some time off for once.” He hesitates. “I don't think you've gone anywhere else in this region since you first came to New Bark. Why don't you go on a bit of a tour, regardless of catching any thieves?”

Yes, Johto is a beautiful region that I haven't really seen. But can you blame me for being committed to my job?

“Well, I guess I could get some of my team to join me. I'll send the other two starters back to you. We can't have them getting stolen, too.”

The Cyndaquil protests at this, digging his claws into my jacket. “Don't be silly,” I tell him. “It's not safe for you out there. You can't come with me.”

Elm is watching us, a small smile on his face. “You know, he is very attached to you, Tessa,” he starts.

“I've noticed,” I say dryly, unhooking the claws.

“It might be difficult for him to adjust to another trainer. Why don't you take him along? Maybe…” He hesitates again, and I don't like where this is going. “You could be his trainer? Take on the Johto league together? You’ve been working pretty hard, and I think a break from the lab would be good for you.”

I can't help it. I laugh. This whole situation is just so absurd. The Cyndaquil, having perked up at the idea of taking on the league, slumps over at my reaction, and I feel a stab of guilt. It's not that I don't want to be his trainer, because I do. I've wanted it ever since the moment he hatched and smiled up at me with pure love and trust, but I couldn't let myself want it. I'm just his temporary trainer, hired to prepare him for the world of battling. I already have a starter and a league championship, and I don't deserve to be the one to train him. I haven't been able to help him yet, and I'm still afraid of battling sometimes, even now.

I miss it, though. My Kanto league challenge may have been a lot of things, but one of those things was fun. Some days I hate being stuck at the lab. It reminds me too much of what my life was like back in Celadon. Part of me has always wanted to get back out there, travelling and battling without the stress of fighting an entire criminal organization this time.

The other part of me still wants to hide, to protect this Cyndaquil from the dangers of battling. He reminds me so much of Laurel, brimming with determination and confidence, but he doesn't have the physical ability to back it up. How long could he last out there?

I look down to where he's gazing at me pleadingly, and I feel like my heart is about to shatter into a million pieces. Pick me, his desperate expression is saying. Pick me, because no one else ever will. He's small and fragile and full of so much heart, and deep down, I know I picked him long ago, know I could never just hand him off to some careless trainer. I don't want to put him in danger, but I know his life will be miserable if he doesn't get to do what he loves most.

“It won't be easy,” I tell him, my voice wavering. “We’ll need to work really hard, and you need to learn how to pick your battles. The league challenge is not to be taken lightly.” The league challenge. I feel dizzy. Is this really happening?

The Cyndaquil nods eagerly, willing to do anything if it means he gets to keep going around and battling with me. Elm’s smile widens, and I wonder if he’s suspected all along that the two of us would end up together.

“I know how hard you've been working,” he says. “You deserve this. Go out and have fun, but remember you're still one of my scientists. You can consider this as part of your starter-raising work combined with some field work.”

“So you're going to pay me extra for this?” I ask with a wicked grin.

“Don't push your luck. I think you'll earn plenty of money from your battle victories,” Elm says. Can't argue with that, I guess. “I need to get back inside,” he remembers, straightening up. “You have to let me know, though... what are you naming him?”

I look down at this little spitfire smiling at me. It's hard to believe that I do get to name him, get to say out loud what I've started to call him in my head.

“Inferno,” I say, and he glows a little brighter. It's a big name for a small Cyndaquil, but I'm hoping he'll grow into it.

“Inferno it is!” Elm smiles. “I really do have to go now. Let me know if you find more information on the thief, but don't worry about it. Just have fun!” And then he's gone, leaving me with a blank screen and a new starter Pokemon. This is turning out to be one of the weirdest days of my life, and I've had some pretty strange experiences.

My new Cyndaquil -- my new Cyndaquil! -- gestures towards the door, but I shake my head. “No way. It's too late to get to Violet City at a reasonable time tonight, and we are not fighting any gyms until we're much more prepared. Even if the thief is heading right there, they won't be able to get a gym appointment for a couple days. The new gym leader has only just taken over, so it's pretty booked up.” Yes, okay, I keep track of the battling scene in Johto and watch a lot of matches in my spare time. But that doesn't mean I'm ready to do this.

Besides, I have another phone call to make.

Video chat is actually pretty important when a Pokemon might pick up the phone. I'm not calling the public Viridian gym number, but rather one that I know will be answered. It rings for longer than when I called Elm, but soon enough there's an Alakazam staring at me from the other end of the screen. He takes in me, Inferno, and the Pokemon Center before raising an eyebrow.

(I imagine you would like to speak to Gary?)

Don't ask me how telepathy is able to work over a phone call. It just does, and it drives us scientists crazy.

“That would be great, Simon. As long as he's not busy?”

(He has finished up with his challengers for the day. I will go find him) the Alakazam says before vanishing in a flash of mint green.

Inferno seems quite impressed, having never met a psychic type before. I’m just impatient, drumming my fingers on the armrest of the chair. After a few minutes, Gary slides into the picture, takes in the scene, and raises an eyebrow in such a perfect mirror to Simon that I nearly laugh.

“Is that the Cyndaquil?” he asks. I’ve admittedly told him quite a lot about Inferno and the other starters, but that doesn't make him any less confused.

“This is Inferno,” I say, unable to stop myself from smiling. “He's my Cyndaquil now.” I launch into the whole story for the second time today, and Inferno is just as eager to jump in and add things, not that we really know what he's saying.

“You just can't catch a break, can you?” Gary remarks, shaking his head.

“It's not that bad,” I say, trying to convince myself as much as him. “This isn't Team Rocket. I just want to help the kid. Which reminds me, I want you to talk to the other gym leaders, get them to tell you if a redheaded kid with a Totodile shows up. Just in case I can't get there on time.”

“You want to help this kid how, exactly?”

“I don't know. I just want to find out their situation, make sure things are okay, make sure that Totodile isn't out of control. It's far too late to get him back.”

Gary considers this. “All right. You want me to talk to Lance, too?”

“Gods, no. He has enough to worry about. Like running two entire regions and keeping you out of trouble.”

“I haven’t done anything!” Gary protests.

“Well, maybe not this week. But wasn’t it just recently that the roof caught on fire because you--”

He cuts me off, glaring. “D’you want me to help or not?”

I grin, knowing I’ve won that exchange. “Yeah.”

Gary manages to slip back into Serious Gym Leader Mode. “I'll talk to them, especially Falkner and Bugsy. We'll all keep an eye on things.”

“Thanks, Gary,” I say sincerely. “I really appreciate it.”

He shrugs. “No big deal. I'm glad you're getting out there again. Just...be careful, yeah?”

As if I need reminding. “You know I will be.”

Gary flashes that familiar smirk. “Smell ya later, then!” The screen goes black.

Inferno looks at me as if to say Is this guy for real? I nod ruefully, then cast a longing look at the front desk, where I can rent a room for the night. Everything is finally starting to sink in. I'm here in Cherrygrove with my Cyndaquil, I'm apparently going to do another league challenge, and I need to try and reform a thief who now has a vicious Totodile.

But right now, I'm going to bed.

Some quick thoughts:

-this is basically The Phone Call Chapter Part 1. Sorry
-"travelling and battling without the stress of fighting an entire criminal organization this time" honey, you've got a big storm coming
-I briefly considered naming Inferno "Spitfire", but Spit and Spitty are not great nickname options
-while editing I realized that the abra line doesn't really have eyebrows, but I looked back at The Scientist and saw that I already gave Mew eyebrows to raise, so it's staying. Psychic eyebrows are a thing now.
-there's probably a sign in the Viridian gym that's permanently stuck on "0 days since our last nonsense"

Hey! So I'm taking a break from writing to rest my voice, but since this is mostly prewritten, I should be able to manage weekly updates! What I probably can't manage is my usual commenting rate, so if it takes me a while to get to commenting on things, that's why. Sorry.
 

Rumors

Or so they say...
Writer
Pokédex No.
258
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
130
Pronouns
male
Pokémon Type
Fire
Pokédex Entry
A Pokémon shrouded in hearsay and urban legend, spoken of only in whispered tales and hushed gossip.
Good to see the sequel already! You must have ether been writing while posting The Scientist or you really buckled down and started going hard right after.

I can already see the improvements here already, as the first chapter starts with a bit of a punch and feels snappier. ...like, I can't 100% define what I mean by those words, but they're what jumps to my mind so... we'll go with them! Either way though, looks like Tessa is the protagonist again and she's been roped into another League run. (Although for a moment Chapter 2 made me feel like she was just the intro device and the story was gonna follow Silver.) So now, let's see how her experience will help her tackle this one! ...or maybe even hinder if the League evolved and left her old tactics in the dust!


As for your writing issues with wrists and voice and stuff, don't push it! Just take a break, as long as you need, and rest. Slowing down or halting your progress sucks and is annoying, sure. But take it from me, I had tendonitis or some other similar issue in the past for a while and pushing it just made it worse and also made it longer to recover to back to when I pushed. Pushing yourself just isn't going to be worth it in the long term, especially if you go too far and sustain a permanent injury that impacts your ability to write period.

So take your time, rest, and don't hurt yourself!
 

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
@Rumors Bit of both, actually! Worked on it while posting The Scientist and finished about half, then did a big writing binge once I was done posting!

Thanks so much! The opening should be the most noticeable improvement for a while because I recently rewrote the beginning of that chapter

Tessa is very much the protagonist again, yes! It was never meant to be a secret, but since people were speculating, I figured I’d keep you all guessing for a while :P

Don’t worry, having been through three years of this wrist nonsense, “not pushing it” is my default state, although I’ve always been recovering very slowly despite that… I’m just not used to writing being something I can’t do, so I hope this voice stuff gets sorted out soon, because I have no intention of pushing that either. It sucks, yes, but at least I know I have the restraint to not do anything stupid again and at least this story is mostly finished!

Thanks for your kind words!

I'm a morning person, but that doesn't mean I enjoy being woken up at the crack of dawn by an impatient Cyndaquil who, of course, refused to be confined to his Pokeball last night.

“Listen,” I grumble, staring back at Inferno. “We’re not in a hurry, okay? Do you have any idea how much preparation I have to do before we go? I don't have the stuff I need for a long journey, and because I don't want to go all the way back to New Bark to get it, we need to wait until the stores open.”

I also just don't want to go back to the lab and be faced with endless questions from my coworkers. Did you really let another Pokemon get stolen? Why did Elm let YOU keep one of the starters? Are you sure you can handle another league challenge? Questions I've asked myself enough times already.

“How about breakfast?” I suggest, going for a compromise. It's not like I was going to get back to sleep anyway. Inferno brightens and hops off the bed, shifting from foot to foot as he waits for me. I pull my muddy clothes back on, for lack of any other option. At least they aren't soaking wet anymore.

Cherrygrove is a small city with no gym, so the complete lack of trainers in the cafeteria at such an early hour isn't surprising. The silence gives me plenty of opportunity to mentally scream What the hell are you doing??? at myself over and over.

“Now, the rules,” I tell Inferno over our bowls of cereal and Pokemon food, respectively. He nods, willing to agree to anything if it means he actually gets to do the league challenge.

“First rule: This is not a game. This is not a little scuffle in the backyard of the lab. You need to work hard, you need to follow my orders, and you need to never pick a fight you can't win.” Okay, maybe that’s not so much a rule as it is a bombardment of advice, but I'm making this up as I go here. I'm not worried about those first two items, but Inferno would probably challenge Arceus Themself given the opportunity. He nods again, though, the picture of innocence.

“Second rule: Stay within my sight at all times. I won't force you into the Pokeball unless it's an emergency situation, but if you're going to be out, you need to be close by. There are some dangerous Pokemon out there, far more vicious than the “friend” you fought yesterday.” I've given up on getting him back in the Pokeball. Most Pokemon view them as safe and relaxing places, but there are always exceptions.

Inferno just keeps nodding, waiting for more rules. “That's it for now,” I declare. I’m not awake enough for this yet. “But there's more, and I'll let you know when they're relevant, and I expect you to follow them.” I gesture emphatically with my spoon to show that I mean business, but his joyfully eager look hasn't changed.

I sigh. Well, I can always use more limitless optimism to balance me out, I guess. As long as he doesn't get overconfident. I'm hoping a few days spent fighting wild Pokemon will give him a reality check.

Back in the main lobby, I drop the Chikorita's Pokeball into the transfer machine and watch as it disappears from sight. No point in dragging her around with me; she’d just hate it. I only hope someone else at the lab will be good to her.

“Not sure if the stores are open yet,” I remark as I turn back to Inferno. “But I know someone who will be up, and also annoyed if she doesn't hear about this as soon as possible.” Me taking the league challenge again is going to be all over the news before too long, and she'll be mad if she doesn't hear about it from me first.

I'm just hoping she'll be okay with this whole situation at all. Again, what am I doing?

I've charged my phone overnight, but the video phones are still my best option. It's hard to hold a cell phone and an energetic Cyndaquil at the same time. Inferno hurriedly scampers behind me as I head over to the still-deserted calling area. Settling myself back in a chair with Inferno on my lap, I dial a different laboratory this time.

One of Oak’s many assistants picks up. Okay, I guess some other people are awake at this hour. “Oak’s lab,” he says curiously. “How may I be of assistance?”

“Can I speak to Laurel?” I'm not explaining myself to this guy.

“One moment,” he says, ducking out. He's soon replaced by a Venusaur, staring wide-eyed at me and Inferno.

“Hi,” I say awkwardly. “I'm in a bit of a situation again…”

Laurel listens as I tell the story for the third time, accompanied by additions from Inferno that she can actually understand. “So,” I finish, finding it hard to meet her eyes. “I do want to help this kid, and I want to help Inferno. But I don't want to do another league challenge and have you feel like you're being replaced, you know?” According to the rules, a trainer can challenge as many leagues as they want, but previous championship-winning Pokemon aren't allowed to compete a second time.

Her snort seems to mean don't worry, I'm irreplaceable, and I crack a tentative smile. “You don't mind? You're happy there and you're okay with us going?” It’s been hard enough leaving her a region away in Pallet on a normal day, but we both have a job to do, and at least one of us is good at it. Voluntarily running all over Johto without her, though, is a whole different story.

Laurel smiles and waves a vine, indicating I should go. I suppose if we’re already apart, she’d rather I at least do something more exciting with my life, especially if she gets to watch me on TV.

“Thanks, Laur,” I breathe, hit by a sudden wave of gratitude. “And I know I keep saying this, but I'm sorry it took me so long to be a good trainer. I won't mess up this time.”

She shapes a vine into a reassuring heart, but then locks eyes with me. Gesturing forcefully between herself, Inferno, and me, her message is clear: You treat him right. Don't let either of us down.

“I will. I promise.” It comes out in a faint whisper, but I know Laurel still hears me. If I can't give my team the affection they deserve, I have no right to be training a team at all. But I've changed. I'm no longer the frightened 15-year-old girl desperately trying to bury her feelings behind a cold analytic approach, and I'm definitely not the naive little 10-year-old girl with big dreams but no practical experience. I'm ready to do this and have some fun for once.

At least, I hope I am.

There's a crash immediately followed by an <oops> in the background, and Laurel hastily waves goodbye as she runs off to deal with it. The screen goes black. Looks like I won't be talking with the rest of my team yet.

Inferno looks a little starstruck. I've shown the starters some of my old battles for training purposes, so he knows what a big deal Laurel is. “She's great, isn't she?” I ask with a smile, and he nods immediately. If he can turn out to be even half the Pokemon she is, Johto won’t stand a chance.

“Let's go see if the shops are open,” I suggest, and he follows me without hesitation.


***​


There's actually a camping equipment store that's open, probably because many trainers who are in desperate need of this stuff tend to be up at all hours. I figure I can get pretty much everything I need here. Sure, it might be more practical to gather up my old stuff, but I don't really know where it all is. Most of it never made the trip to New Bark, which means it's either at the Oaks’ house or all the way back in Celadon. I feel a familiar pang of sadness at the absence of any Pokemon who could fly or teleport me right where I need to go.

At least I have enough money that it wouldn't hurt to buy new stuff. Inferno perches in my shopping cart, staring around the store. One very tired-looking employee watches as I grab just about everything I can think of. Tent, sleeping bag, backpack, water bottle, protein bars, flashlight, and most importantly: mud-free clothes.

With all that purchased, Inferno tries to point me in the direction of Violet City, but I shake my head. “Do I look ready? I'm still covered in mud, not to mention that we don't have any Pokeballs or potions. Which reminds me of the third rule: slow and steady. I had a pretty rushed challenge last time, and if I'm doing this again, I want to take the time to enjoy it. Trust me, you'll be a much better battler if you slow down and focus on training rather than rushing into things. The league isn't going anywhere.”

Inferno starts to look as if he regrets begging me to take him along. “Oh, don't be like that,” I say. “We'll be on our way to Violet before the end of the day. Lighten up.”

He lets some flames shoot out of his back, and I laugh. “That's the spirit.”

Back at the Pokemon Center, he's left to wait longer as I shower. I'm not heartless enough to make him wait around while I wash the muddy clothes, so I just throw them in a plastic bag in my backpack. I'll deal with them in Violet.

Clean, fresh, and mostly prepared, I'm almost starting to feel like I can handle this. I have experience, common sense, and no gang of criminals trying to hunt me down, so what am I waiting for? Let's have some fun.

After stocking up on essential trainer supplies at the PokeMart, I step outside with Inferno. He starts off towards Violet again, turning around and looking at me hopefully. “Not yet,” I say. He throws his stubby arms in the air, frustrated.

“Training first,” I inform him, and he straightens up a little. “Then we catch you a new teammate.” He does a happy little jump and comes over to join me as I walk back to Route 29.

Sure, both of these things could be done on the way to Violet. But I know this area better, and I know there aren't many tough Pokemon or trainers around. Cherrygrove and New Bark are practically in the middle of nowhere, so not a lot of league hopefuls ever bother coming to this part of the region.

I've always thought that Route 29 would fit perfectly into Kanto. Such a similar-looking grassy area scattered with trees, full of Pidgey and Rattata. Maybe that's why I've never felt far from home in my three years of staying here.

Then again, Kanto is always just a surf away from New Bark, too.

Anyway, training. And catching, if the opportunity presents itself. I've had to become used to fighting Pidgey and Rattata over the years, but that doesn't mean I have any intention of catching either. This is a fresh start.

Inferno’s itching for a fight, but it’s a while before any wild Pokemon show up to give him one. For the most part, they aren't familiar with what a Cyndaquil is, and don't feel like finding out in a painful way.

Sooner or later, though, there's a challenger. There always is. A Rattata slinks out of the bushes, facing Inferno with a snarl.

And some very sharp teeth.

Inferno looks at me, nearly bursting with anticipation, waiting for orders. I take a deep breath. No point in panicking so early. I might as well go home right now if I'm just going to do that.

“Tackle.”

Not wasting a moment, Inferno lunges forward, catching the Rattata by surprise. Everything happens so quickly -- it's knocked over, it sinks its teeth into him, it gets hit with a faceful of back flames and scampers back into the bushes. Well, that could have been a lot worse.

Inferno shoots me a hopeful how did I do? look, and I find myself smiling at him. “It's a good start,” I say honestly. “But I'm checking out that bite before anything else.” He rolls his eyes, but trots back over and lets me look. There's just a faint trickle of blood running down his side, but I give him a quick spray with a potion to be safe.

Looking up, my eyes are drawn to a nearby rock. There's a curious brown and white face peeking over it, which quickly squeaks and drops out of sight as soon as we make eye contact.

A Sentret? I can work with that.

“Hey,” I say softly. “Are you interested in what we're doing? We're just training and preparing for the Pokemon league. We won't fight you unless you want, and you're welcome to come train with us.” Nothing happens for a moment, but then the face peeks back up again. I make sure to smile at it.

Inferno nudges my bag, wondering why I don't just throw a Pokeball and be done with it. “Fourth rule,” I whisper to him. “No catching Pokemon against their will. Anyone who's going to fight for us is going to do it voluntarily.” My mind wanders back to another timid brown and white first capture, who never signed up for any of this.

Meanwhile, the Sentret is slowly crossing the field towards us. Inferno sits quietly, for once knowing better than to attack. It comes all the way up to him and squeaks out a greeting, then turns away in embarrassment.

“You want us to teach you how to fight?” I guess, and she (up close, I can tell it's a female) nods nervously. “Well, we can do that! Right, Inferno?” Inferno thinks about this for approximately half a second and then agrees.

I reach into my backpack for a Pokeball. “You want to come travel with us, then? Just touch this, and you'll be registered to my team. We’ll look after you.” The Sentret comes closer, sniffing the Pokeball, then determinedly leans forward and boops it with her nose. As soon as she disappears, I push the button and send her right back out.

She blinks, disoriented, but then gives us both a tentative smile. Inferno says something to her, and she squeaks in apparent agreement.

“If you're going to be part of the team, you'll need a name,” I announce. “How about Hazel?”

The Sentret hesitates, then nods.

“Well then, welcome to the team, Hazel!”

Inferno echoes this sentiment by nuzzling her happily, causing her to flinch away -- but then she smiles again, hesitant yet sincere.

It’s a start.

What, did you think she was going to call her mom? Of course not :P

Our first catch! I’ve always liked Furret, but had never used one, so I was looking forward to it!

Something I should mention… for those of you who’ve read The Scientist, I won’t forbid you from posting spoilers in your comments (this is the sequel, after all), but please give fair warning for the sake of those who haven’t read it yet! Some spoilery things won’t be addressed in this story for a while (or basically at all, in certain cases), so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t give certain things away. sorry I’m just really protective of That One Plot Twist
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
yeet revenge

Cyndaquil:


I'm glad that Professor Elm doesn't want to press charges against Silver, but, unfortunately, I think Tessa's intuition that they're a bad combination is spot-on. Maybe, given time, they can settle, but nuzlockes don't exactly allow time to "settle."

Pick me, his desperate expression is saying. Pick me, because no one else ever will. He's small and fragile and full of so much heart, and deep down, I know I picked him long ago, know I could never just hand him off to some careless trainer. I don't want to put him in danger, but I know his life will be miserable if he doesn't get to do what he loves most.
For some reason, this passage gives me Ashley vibes, and I don't know why??? Is Tessa secretly my Ash??? Even without the Ashley vibes... *looks at ruleset* NO! NOT THINKING ABOUT IT!

AAH IT'S MY SON FROM THE LAST ONE AND HE LOVES MY SON IN THIS ONE AAH!
You give that sage advice, Laurel! It's interesting to see a Pokemon in a position of wisdom. Most Pokemon media present Pokemon as sentient but rarely are they the ones mentoring humans, even though they're the ones doing the battling.

If he can turn out to be even half the Pokemon she is, Johto won’t stand a chance.
Hrk. I'm thinking about it again...
 

MouseWithADinosaurTail

Luck will travel, but that's why I've got feet
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
613
Location
Post Town
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
Though she often appears sweet and polite, the smell of wrong opinions may cause this pokemon to latch bite.
While The Scientist wasnt quite for me, I decided to hop on and give this run a peak anyway, and I have to say Im quite glad I did. Im enjoying this run so far! The level of improvement between this run and the early chapters of The Scientist are pretty striking, and its clear youve been working hard! And despite not having all the context, I dont find myself feeling alienated at all as I read. I feel like I have the opportunity to get to know Tessa, rather than having lost it!

I cant wait for more! Ill be following along. :3
 

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
Posting this early because I'm going away for a few days starting tomorrow and won't have much internet access! (Does it still count as early if it's technically already Wednesday? Anyway, here's an update.)

@Bowser's Family Vacation I actually considered posting that gif in my author’s note, so I’m glad you ended up doing it when I didn’t!

What, you don’t trust the angry child and their violent crocodile? I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about…

I can totally see the Ashley vibes there! Yes, the reason why Ash disappeared is because he got sucked into this universe and became Tessa. You’ve spoiled the plot twist!

What, you don’t trust me to keep a starter alive? Especially when it’s one of my all-time favourite pokemon? Nothing bad is going to happen to Inferno ever, totally, definitely! Maybe

Yes, Gary’s back! He was always going to appear in this story, but he ended up having a much bigger role than I planned. I just love writing him and his friendship with Tessa too much!


@MouseWithADinosaurTail That’s totally fair, The Scientist isn’t for everyone! There’s a lot I could have done better with it, especially in those early chapters. It means a lot when people say I’ve improved, because I certainly feel that I have! Glad you don’t find it confusing, although I worry you will later… but anyway, thank you! :D

I'm not sure how Hazel managed to survive in the wild for any amount of time, because she has no idea how to fight. When asked to show me what she can do, she only stands there hesitantly. “Just attack him!” I encourage her. “He won't use fire on you, I promise.” Hazel trembles, then darts forward and lightly swats Inferno on one leg. When he goes for a counterattack, she squeaks and runs away.

“You can't run from all your problems!” I call in the general direction of the rock, which she's now hiding behind again. “Believe me, I've tried. It never works.” Inferno looks at me with concern. “It was just a joke!” I reassure him. So far, I've spared him the details of my Tragic Backstory™, but I suppose he'll have to find out sooner or later. I just don't want a league challenge gone wrong to ever be anything but a sad story that has nothing to do with him.

I know now that the best thing I can do for Pokemon is help. He and Hazel (especially Hazel) won't last long in this world without some good training, and I need to provide that. I'm not putting their lives in danger, I'm giving them the strength they need to deal with a dangerous life.

At least, that's what I always tell myself to avoid being caught up in an endless vortex of misery and panic. It works, most of the time.

“Come back here, Hazel,” I say gently. “That was a good first attempt, okay? If you want, we can just start with showing you moves rather than sparring.” The Sentret slowly comes back over to where we're waiting, and then the training begins in earnest.

Inferno and I teach her how to punch, kick, block, dodge, and even use her tail as a weapon. The Cyndaquil seems a little put out that he has no tail and therefore can't demonstrate that last technique, but I remind him in a whisper that, unlike him, Hazel will never be able to control fire. He then starts looking at her with a bit of pity, but she doesn't seem to notice. She's too busy being flustered by having to show off all these things she's never done.

I may worry a lot about Inferno, but I have to remember that he is a starter Pokemon. Despite his size, he's far more powerful than any wild Pokemon around here, and he's proving that already.

“Good job, both of you!” I praise them, deciding it's time for a break. I sink down to the grass and sit cross-legged. Inferno jumps into my arms for some well-deserved snuggles, and Hazel takes some cautious steps closer to us. I slowly reach out a hand to pet the top of her head, and she chitters happily.

Now that we've done some training, Inferno gives me what I've quickly discovered is the are we going to Violet City NOW? look. I sigh. “Yes, Inferno, we can go to Violet City now.” There really isn't much point in waiting around longer.

And so, we go to Violet City.


***​


Not that we get there anytime soon. We have to walk all the way through Cherrygrove, followed by two entire routes, and we have wild Pokemon and trainers to deal with. I doubt we’ll make it before tonight.

Hazel is so hesitant to even walk in the direction of Cherrygrove that I decide it's best to just recall her. One inexperienced Pokemon to keep an eye on is enough, anyway. Inferno, of course, has no intention of going into his Pokeball. The downside to this is that as soon as we make it to the other side of Cherrygrove, he collapses on the ground, wheezing.

“You can't be that tired,” I protest. “If you're going to stay out of your ball, you need to keep up with the world. I can't carry you everywhere.” He looks up at me pleadingly, and my heart melts against my will. “Fine,” I say, scooping him into my arms. “But don't get used to this, lazybutt.” He settles in with a triumphant smile, and then we’re off again.

The further north we go, the more trainers we encounter. Most of them are sporting bug nets and therefore bug-type Pokemon as well. Inferno is disappointed when they all avoid us, but I point out that it's because they know they can't beat him. He then takes to giving everyone intimidating stares, trying to see how many trainers he can scare off. It's some consolation for the lack of fights, I guess.

Another consolation is that without having to stop and fight, we're also making good time. The sun is still shining by the time I see Dark Cave looming in front of us. Inferno gives it a curious look and then jumps out of my arms.

“I thought you wanted to go to Violet City?” I remind him. He points towards the cave, too intrigued to ignore it. “Not much in there but Geodude and Zubat,” I say. He shrugs and keeps going, having never seen either a Geodude or a Zubat.

A Zubat would be fairly useful, I guess. Assuming it'll ever like me enough to evolve into Crobat.

Inferno's already at the mouth of the cave, so I sigh and follow. Dark Cave, is, true to its name, dark. I can't see a thing until the Cyndaquil‘s back flames ignite, casting a soft glow over the immediate area. Nothing much is revealed, except for quite a few ordinary rocks and several Geodude who are trying very hard to look like ordinary rocks. Inferno pokes at one of the latter, suspicious.

“Don't bother the rock types, Inferno,” I order him. That's not a fight I want a small Cyndaquil involved with. He frowns, but moves on, more interested by what other wonders await deeper in the cave. I've already told him it's just nothing but Zubat, not that he cares.

Zubat have a tendency to dive-bomb unsuspecting trainers and Pokemon, so it's not long before a whole swarm comes zooming by. I don't move, knowing that they have enough coordination to not actually run face-first into me. Inferno, rather than ducking, leaps up and swats one out of the air. It comes crashing down to the cave floor with an undignified shriek, and he holds it in place.

“Taking it upon yourself to recruit new teammates, are you?” I say, amused. Inferno releases the Zubat, who springs up again, fluttering her wings. She doesn't fly away, intrigued by this newcomer who has the audacity to attack her in her own home.

“You want to join our team and take the league challenge?” I ask quickly before any serious battling breaks out. The Zubat seems genuinely surprised at the offer, used to trainers running away from her. It doesn't take long before she flashes a toothy grin and flutters up to perch on my shoulder.

“Can I call you... Isra?”

The Zubat chirps happily, which I take as a yes. Inferno looks quite pleased with himself. “Good work, Ferno,” I add, and he smiles wider.

We head out of the cave, Isra still on my shoulder to save herself the trouble of echolocating all the time. Violet City is just up ahead, but Inferno insists on being carried again. I sternly tell him that we won't get there as quickly if I have to keep literally carrying the team, but he ignores me. Instead, he’s intent on having staring contests with Isra, which is hopeless due to her complete lack of eyes. I'm pretty sure she isn't even aware of any staring.

It's been a long day of walking, but I eventually limp into the city not long after sunset. I'm really looking forward to just hanging around here and not moving much for the next few days. My team doesn't need healing, so I march right into the laundry room to finally deal with those muddy clothes.

While the washing machine spins, I send Hazel out to meet our new teammate. She looks up at Isra and squeaks out a shy hello, receiving a happy squeak in response. At least we're all getting along.

After Isra scouts out the laundry room and determines that there's nothing much interesting to be found there, she swoops over and pokes the button on her Pokeball. As she disappears, I marvel at her ability to instantly tell which one is hers. Ah, the wonders of echolocation.

Hazel has pressed her face right up to the door of the washing machine, transfixed by the blur of colors. I suddenly feel a pang of sadness for Isra. All the echolocation in the world will never show her what that looks like. At least she'll get eyes when she evolves.

Inferno, not remotely as well-versed in Pokemon biology as me, points to his eyes curiously.

“Ever heard the expression ‘blind as a Zubat’? They have no eyes until they evolve,” I tell him. “Zubat rely on a sound-based technique called echolocation to sense the position of everything around them. The downside to developing eyes later on is that it actually takes them a while to get used to an extra sense, not to mention that Golbat and Crobat eyes are sensitive and they can't see very well in daylight.”

Inferno nods absently, not paying proper attention. I should have figured that an impromptu biology lecture can't compare to the fascinating scene of clothes flopping around in an endless circle.

Defeated, I stop talking, leaving him resting contently in my arms. I guess this is my life now: sitting in a Pokemon Center laundromat in an unfamiliar city, watching a spin cycle alongside some sweet but inexperienced Pokemon.

Strangely enough, I think this is the most fun I've had in a long time.

Another new teammate! Believe it or not, I had never used a Zubat before, and I was looking forward to having a Crobat! I came across the name Isra while looking for night/dark themed names. It means "nocturnal journey" in Arabic, and I quite like it!

This chapter’s a bit on the short side, but I think it turned out decently well for an older one. Next time on The Phoenix: Inferno finally gets to do things in Violet City! See you then.
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
A Monty Python GIF is always a welcome addition to any post! ^^ oh noes our cinematic crossover has been ruined

“You can't run from all your problems! ... Believe me, I've tried. It never works.” Inferno looks at me with concern. “It was just a joke!”
WHAT DID WE LEARN ABOUT TRANSPARENCY IN THE LAST REGION, TESSA!?

Inferno:


“You can't be that tired,” I protest. “If you're going to stay out of your ball, you need to keep up with the world. I can't carry you everywhere.” He looks up at me pleadingly, and my heart melts against my will. “Fine,” I say, scooping him into my arms. “But don't get used to this, lazybutt.” He settles in with a triumphant smile, and then we’re off again.
A victory for the lazybutts! :D

Uh... Tessa? It's not all Zubat and Geodude in Dark Cave. You're forgetting our lord and savior, Dunsparce! And apparently Teddiursa in the mornings rarely in Crystal? Huh.

One day, Inferno and Isra will have a proper staring contest.
 

Rumors

Or so they say...
Writer
Pokédex No.
258
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
130
Pronouns
male
Pokémon Type
Fire
Pokédex Entry
A Pokémon shrouded in hearsay and urban legend, spoken of only in whispered tales and hushed gossip.
So, have to hide spoilers? Even The Spoiler™? I mean, honestly, I didn't think that Arceus grounding Mewtwo for their attitude and banning them from playing Fortnite was that much of a spoiler. But, if you insist!

Good to see more updates. And, more teammates! Granted, fairly typical Johto teammates but... what can you do without a randomizer or something? At least Furret is all floofy so you'll have the requisite amount of fluff required for a proper League team once Hazel evolves. And meanwhile, Crobat does Crobat things, or will anyway. Whatever those are. I've actually never used one since, while I've caught several Zubats, I can never be bothered to put up with them in the Zubat stage. Probably missing out, but at least it keeps my hipster level a bit higher than normal.

Also, definitely noticing a muuuuch different tone in this story thanks to Tessa being more upbeat and less closed off. So this means we're either heading into a much more upbeat in general or a nice, big, mood whiplash! Or maybe an upbeat whiplash?
 

MouseWithADinosaurTail

Luck will travel, but that's why I've got feet
Artist
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
47
Caught
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
613
Location
Post Town
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Fairy, Flying
Pokédex Entry
Though she often appears sweet and polite, the smell of wrong opinions may cause this pokemon to latch bite.
I liked this chapter! It was very chill which was nice, just a nice walk and some cute pokemon. I love Inferno! He's such a lil baby, and his personality shines through a ton despite him not having any dialogue! I'm eager to see what happens next time!
 

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
@Bowser's Family Vacation Well, at least last time she was distancing herself from her team because of her past, but this time her attitude is “everything’s fine so they don’t need to know!!!” Which is… an improvement, I guess?

Ah, yes, please forgive me for not mentioning the 1% encounter that I didn’t consider because I went in there thinking “Zubat time!!!” because Geodude wasn’t allowed according to my rules. And the 5% encounter I was never going to see because I don’t play in the mornings or even get out of bed early enough to do so :P

Yes, and when that day comes, Inferno will have had so much practice that he’ll be unbeatable, especially against a pokemon who only recently grew eyes!


@Rumors Okay, you got me good with that one, haha. And how dare you make me picture Mewtwo doing the floss

“requisite amount of fluff”? I like that! Don’t blame you for not using Zubat… as excited as I was for a crobat, I found Isra pretty useless early on.

Despite what the major plot point this story was built around (which we haven’t gotten to yet) might suggest, this was always intended to be a happier story than The Scientist! intended being the key word, sometimes the game has other ideas (So that makes it upbeat whiplash, maybe?) But yes, Tessa at least has a better attitude this time, and that should help things.


@MouseWithADinosaurTail Thanks! Gotta enjoy the chill moments while you can ;) One of my fave things about writing nuzlockes is that I get the opportunity to practice writing nonverbal pokemon that still have clear personalities, so it always means a lot when people think I do a good job of it <3 Inferno is my fave pokemon I’ve ever written, and likely always will be, so I’m glad you love him already! He's such a lil baby indeed :3c

This morning, it’s the light streaming through the window of my Pokemon Center room that wakes me. Tired out from a long day of... mostly being carried around, Inferno is still fast asleep on the pillow beside me. Hazel and Isra decided to stay in their Pokeballs, not used to sleeping inside a building. Isra isn't even used to sleeping during the night, which might pose a bit of a problem.

“Wake up!” I say cheerfully, poking Inferno as some revenge for yesterday. “We’re in Violet City! Time to go accomplish things!” He grumbles and curls up tighter. “Now do you understand that we can't be rushing everywhere all the time?” Despite this comment and his tiredness, he soon drags himself to his feet, ready to go.

“I didn't really mean it,” I protest, but he's already waiting by the door. Guess we're getting an early start on training again today, but at least it's actually light outside this time.

After breakfast, Inferno starts off back to the route we were on last night, but I tell him to wait. “We're in the big city now,” I inform him (although Violet is really one of Johto's smaller cities). “And that means there are better places to train.” I point up to the nearby Sprout Tower, shading the city like an old tree. “This is a good place to start, especially for you. The monks mainly have grass types.” Inferno immediately changes direction, and I let him lead me up the steps.

The inside of the tower is full of tourists, and battle-like thuds echo from the upper floors, but I still feel an unexpected peaceful sensation as soon as I step through the door. The ancient wooden boards are solid beneath my feet, yet the perpetually moving pillar sways serenely in the middle of everything.

“Welcome to the Tower,” a monk greets us, bowing deeply. “It has stood for thousands of years, built around the sturdy yet ever-shifting body of one tall Bellsprout. All are welcome here, whether it is to train or to merely find peace.”

“Thank you,” I say sincerely, and Inferno bows his head along with me. I feel rather guilty. I've been spending so much time learning about Pokemon, but I’ve never made much effort to study the religion of the region I've been in for over a year. This tower is supposedly built around an ancient, giant Bellsprout? I had no idea. It's the kind of thing I would dismiss as being silly, but standing in here, I almost believe it.

The stairs creak as we climb, and I spot a few Gastly hovering around. I've never seen wild ones outside of Lavender Town, so it's a little disconcerting. Not something I'd want to add to my team, anyway. Inferno seems to agree, as he instead points up to the rafters where several Hoothoot are dozing.

“Fifth rule,” I say quietly. “No more small brown bird Pokemon. Besides, we already have Isra as our flyer.” Inferno gives me a curious look, but has the sense not to argue. I'll tell him someday.

No time to dwell on the past; there's training to be done. This room is full of monks with their Bellsprout, and I have an eager Cyndaquil who's ready to take them all on.

Not that he ends up fighting them all, though. The Bellsprout are surprisingly fast and agile, giving him a real workout as he tries to keep up and hit them with his back flames. What he really needs to do is learn Ember, but he has yet to master breathing fire. For now, he's mainly resorting to some old-fashioned tackling, which is working well enough.

“Take a break, Inferno,” I order once he tries to spit some fire at a Bellsprout and ends up getting knocked hard to the floor. He limps back to join me on the sidelines, reluctant to leave despite clearly being winded. “Time to give the rest of the team a chance, don't you think?” He can't really argue with that.

I let Isra go next, having yet to see her fight. The Zubat takes a minute to orient herself in these unfamiliar surroundings. She's not familiar with buildings or Bellsprout, but I'm sure she can adapt.

And adapt she does, for the most part. Her supersonic sound waves echo through the room (presumably, because I can't hear them), making the Bellsprout confused and hesitant. Isra sinks her fangs into it, trying to drain some energy. The Bellsprout shoves her off, where she hits the floor with an undignified squeak much like yesterday. “Good effort!” I call, ordering her back. “Finish it off, will you, Inferno?”

Not needing to be asked twice, Inferno darts back out and knocks the Bellsprout over with one swift hit. I really need to stop underestimating this guy. “Sit back and watch, Isra,” I tell her, figuring she can still see a pretty good scene with her echolocation. I motion Inferno back again and send out Hazel.

The Sentret balances on her tail nervously, staring at the unfamiliar creature in front of her. “It's just a Bellsprout, Hazel,” I reassure her. “Use what we taught you yesterday.” Gathering her courage and letting out an adorably squeaky battle cry, Hazel launches herself at her opponent. She gets in a good solid hit, but it responds by slapping her with a vine. Trembling, she runs back to hide behind my legs.

“That was a great first try!” I praise her. “Inferno, get this one too, why don't you?” I gather the Sentret into my arms and stroke her ears reassuringly while Inferno gladly goes to finish off yet another opponent.

“You have proven to be a good trainer,” one of the monks tells me. “Worthy of challenging our master. You will find him on the top floor, should you choose to accept.”

I bow to him. “I'd be honored.” Inferno runs back over to join us, having dispatched the latest Bellsprout. He looks like he wants to shove Hazel out of my arms and take her place, but thinks better of it and starts up the stairs.

The yelling is audible before we even reach the top, cutting through the peaceful atmosphere of the tower. “What do you mean, I'm not training my Pokemon right? I beat you!”

“Brute strength is not the key to mastering the skill of Pokemon training,” a much calmer voice responds. “You must learn to treat them as more than just tools.”

“You don't know anything, old man!”

Scrambling up the last few steps, I'm greeted with a familiar scowling face. The red-haired thief and the Totodile are glaring at an elderly monk, who shakes his head sadly.

“You!” the thief shouts, pointing an accusing finger at me. Hazel turns around and buries her face in my shirt. “What are you doing here?” Inferno's flames flare to life angrily.

“I could say the same thing about you,” I point out. “Sounds like you're unqualified as a trainer. I can still take that Totodile back, you know.”

“Go ahead and try,” they taunt me, pulling out a rope and tying it around the central pillar. “I'm out of here, anyway. Can't be late for my gym battle. I'll win that, too, and then you'll see! I'm a better trainer than any of you will ever be!” And with that, they're already rappelling out the window.

My pulse quickens. A gym battle! I didn't get to see them fight here, so I better hurry up and get down to the gym.

The monk turns to me. “You seem like a very capable trainer,” he says, eyes twinkling. “Would you honor me with a battle?” Inferno looks up at me pleadingly. I suppose we have time for one more quick fight.

“The honor is all mine,” I say, motioning Inferno forward. I set Hazel gently on the floor, and Isra swoops over to join her. “You two watch carefully, okay?”

“Well then, Tessa Linden,” he declares, and I sigh. Of course he knows who I am. “I, Elder Li, will battle you!” I barely manage not to laugh. His name is elderly? How fitting.

Unsurprisingly, he sends out a Bellsprout. At least Inferno is quite used to fighting them by now. It darts forward without hesitation, and the Cyndaquil just barely jumps out of the way. Much like with the other monks, no noticeable orders are given. There seems to be just a simple understanding between trainer and Pokemon, as if they've done this countless times before.

This Bellsprout is quicker than the ones we fought before. Inferno can't get near it with his back flames, and it's dodging all of his tackles. He winces as it slaps him across the face with a vine. This is going nowhere fast.

“Inferno!” I call out. “You need to do something different. Time to go for that new technique!” He hesitates, then turns to face the Bellsprout. His mouth opens to breathe fire, but all that comes out is a small plume of smoke and a cough. The Bellsprout dances over and hits Inferno again, sending him sliding painfully across the floor until he nearly bumps into my feet.

“Are you all right?” I ask nervously, bending down to look at him. I know he's already tired out from fighting so many battles earlier. “You've done so well. It's okay if you want to take a break.” I doubt Hazel or Isra could do much better, but of course I'm not going to make him stay in.

Inferno slowly hauls himself back up, letting his flames burn bright again. He's not a quitter. “Go for it, then,” I whisper. “You can do it. I know you can.” He takes a few steps towards the Bellsprout, opening his mouth again. For a moment, there's nothing, and I brace myself for seeing him knocked back to my feet.

But then a flurry of Embers burst forth, taking the Bellsprout by surprise. It falls to the ground, trying to shake off the painful flames. The Elder recalls it with a smile.

“That was excellent,” he says. “You understand your Pokemon, and work in harmony with them. It is something to be proud of.”

And I am proud of it, truly. It just always comes with the guilt of knowing that I never used to have that. I spent half my previous challenge avoiding Laurel, not showering her with affection like I've been doing with Inferno from the start.

Maybe I do need this second league challenge, as a way of fully making things right.

“Thank you for letting me train here. It's an experience I'll never forget.” I bend down to scoop up an exhausted Inferno, who smiles gratefully at the Elder.

“Go forward with the blessing of the Bellsprout,” Elder Li tells us, waving a hand and smiling back.


***​


Inferno may be tired, but that doesn't dampen his enthusiasm for watching some gym battles. The stadium is pretty crowded due to the recent reopening, and there's already a battle in progress as we slip into a seat near the back. Inferno cranes his small neck to try and see over the crowd.

“Whatever happens, do not leave this seat,” I tell him sternly. “I don't want you getting lost in the crowd, or... running onto the battlefield, okay?” Inferno gives me a bit of a confused look, and I add “That's rule number six” just so he'll drop it.

Eventually, I take pity on Inferno and place him on the top of my head, where he can see much better. He's just barely light enough that it doesn't really bother me. There's a high-level match going on at the moment, and I recognize the challenger as a trainer who received a starter from Elm several months ago. Falkner’s Fearow waits at the other end of the battlefield, clicking its beak menacingly.

Inferno gasps when the other trainer sends out his next Pokemon. It's a Typhlosion, massive and wreathed in flames. “You'll be like that someday,” I whisper, reaching up to give him a gentle poke. Well, he'll probably never be anywhere near that big, but I'm not going to tell him that.

The Typhlosion charges forward and hits the Fearow with a powerful, crackling Thunder Punch. Inferno squeaks with excitement. “And you'll be able to do that, too,” I add, smiling.

If he lives that long. If I don't end up getting him killed first.

Nope. Not going to think like that. He's going to grow up big and strong and healthy, and he's going to be the leader of my new championship-winning team. Whatever happens, I'll keep him safe.

Lost in thought, I don't even notice that the battle’s wrapped up until the announcer declares “Our next match will be gym leader Falkner against challenger Silver!” and I immediately snap to attention. There aren't many trainers out there who feel the need to go by one name.

My suspicions are confirmed when the red-haired kid strides onto the battlefield. Clearly this is a code name to avoid recognition, along with the sneaking around and unwillingness to legally obtain a starter. Why Silver when you've got red hair, though?

Inferno and I watch closely as the battle begins. Falkner starts with a Pidgey, which does some fancy loops in the air, leaving me feeling like its talons are digging right into my heart. Zephyr would have loved to watch matches like this. It doesn't help that Falkner gives out the Zephyrbadge, of all things.

And soon enough, that'll be me out there fighting for that badge. Why did I agree to this, again?

The impatient Cyndaquil on top of my head nudges me, sensing that I'm not paying attention. Silver has sent out not the Totodile, but a Zubat. Looks like I'm not the only one who’s started building a team. The Zubat wastes no time in clamping its jaws down on the Pidgey, drawing blood. The bird tries to shake it off, but ends up on the floor of the battlefield with its energy drained. I watch to see if Silver will take things too far, but they recall the Zubat as soon as the official declares the Pidgey unable to battle. I start to feel a little hopeful.

Next is a Pidgeotto, aloft with powerful wingbeats. Silver’s response is, of course, Chomp. Inferno tenses at the sight of the Totodile.

The Pidgeotto gets in a good Gust attack, sending Chomp skidding backwards. But he's up in an instant, knocking his opponent out of the sky with a torrent of water more powerful than just the other day when he attacked Inferno. The Pidgeotto tries to get up and fight back, but Chomp’s teeth are already closing around one of its wings. Any fears that he might bite it right off are abruptly put to rest by Falkner recalling his Pokemon. Chomp looks a little disappointed.

For once, there's almost a smile on Silver’s face when Falkner hands over the badge. I breathe a sigh of relief as I lift Inferno back down into my arms. That went much better than I thought it would. I may be afraid of what Silver and Chomp could do in combination, but at least so far there's been no obvious effort to kill or maim their opponents. Things might be okay after all.

I'm not sure if I should make an effort to keep following them, but if we're both doing the league challenge and starting from the same place, it shouldn't be uncommon for us to run into each other. I remind myself that this journey is not about catching thieves and saving the region from criminals. This is supposed to be a fun trip and an opportunity to get Inferno that championship he so desperately wants.

That's why I schedule a match for tomorrow on the way out. The receptionist first says that they're all booked up, but after one close look at my face her eyes go wide and she manages to find room for me. Guess I'll be all over the news by tonight. At least Inferno will enjoy all the attention we're going to end up getting.

He really is properly tired by now, almost dozing in my arms on the way back to the Pokemon Center. Even so, I think he'll be ready for tomorrow.

That makes one of us, at least.

My notes for Sprout Tower say “lots of switch training! Had to run from the Gastly because it was too hard to damage/catch. Inferno learned Ember just in time to roast one (1) entire Bellsprout.” So… yeah.

You may have noticed that the team has been building rather slow, but that’s not just because of missed captures! I usually like to take my time rather than use the first six pokemon I get. and I sure did take my time in this run

For those of you who don't know... yes, that old guy's name really is Elder Li in the game.

One thing I worry about with this story is the pacing… I feel like it starts out slow, gets too fast in the upcoming 2 chapters, then gets normal for a while… and then gets weird again. Ugh. Well, regardless, we’re getting to the exciting bits soon, so stay tuned!
 

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Hey, getting carried around is a lot of hard work! You don't want to fall!

I always love it when the Sprout Tower gets a spotlight in nuzlocke stories. The mystic is such a huge part of Johto's culture, after all, and while not a lot plot-significant happens in Sprout Tower, it helps contextualize plot points like the Burned Tower and the Kimono Girls.

He looks like he wants to shove Hazel out of my arms and take her place, but thinks better of it and starts up the stairs.
Only the alpha can sit upon the throne... Although a Sentret and a Cyndaquil should, in theory, be able to squeeze in together.

Elder Li, with all due respect, I don't think "the blessing of the Bellsprout" will help against the flying type gym... >_>

“You'll be like that someday,” I whisper, reaching up to give him a gentle poke.
Don't tell Tessa about the OP, OK?
 

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
Here's another early-but-technically-not-early update because I'm going away again tomorrow. Which is now today. and I left most of the editing to right now and I'm really hecking tired so this might have a few flaws but shhhhh
@Bowser's Family Vacation Johto is one of my favourite regions, and the mythology is a big part of why! You better believe I had a whole lot of fun with Ecruteak ;)

One day, Inferno will learn about sharing. Maybe even today

It's the thought that counts!

Hey, just because that rule exists doesn't mean it's ever going to be relevant… hopefully she’ll never have to know!
Inferno was excited to be walking into the gym yesterday, but he's positively bursting with anticipation today. Knowing that he'll finally get to fight in an official league match, he refuses to be carried for once and steps onto the battlefield with his head held high. Any attempts to look dignified and threatening are ruined by the fact that he's practically skipping with joy.

Up close, Falkner looks young and nervous. He's just a couple years younger than me, having recently taken over the gym from his father. Simply inheriting a gym as a birthright seems a little unfair, but Falkner apparently does have the skill required to be a gym leader. His nervousness might just be from having to face a champion, even though I have a new and inexperienced team. And I'm nervous too, so it all evens out.

Inferno's not nervous, obviously, although I wish he wouldn't be so overwhelmingly confident. The stadium is packed, because of course word’s gotten out that I'm doing another league challenge. The crowd is cheering already, getting Inferno even more fired up. As silly as it sounds, I almost wish I had taken on a fake name and a disguise. Going unnoticed for once in my life would be a blessing.

Of course, it's much too late for that. I think Falkner's been making some kind of ceremonial speech before the battle, but I haven't been listening. He’s already sending out his first Pokemon. It's the same swift little Pidgey that Silver fought yesterday, and I feel that familiar twinge of sadness.

No time to dwell on it, though. Falkner is already yelling “Mud-Slap!” catching Inferno by surprise. The fire on his back flickers out as he's pelted by dirt.

As the Pidgey swoops in to finish him off, I yell “Tackle!” Inferno springs to his feet, slamming into the surprised bird. “Now, Ember!” I say quickly. I'm worried that he hasn't quite mastered the attack yet, but this time Inferno has no problem breathing fire. The Pidgey shrieks as it tumbles out of the sky, feathers smoldering. I turn away, not wanting to know if it hits the ground before Falkner can recall it.

I turn back to find a Pidgeotto on the other end of the battlefield and Inferno looking at me with a somewhat hurt expression. “You did amazing,” I say sincerely, and he perks up again. “Focus on your next opponent, okay?”

“Gust!” Falkner orders as soon as we're ready. The Pidgeotto flaps its powerful wings with enough force to send Inferno sliding backwards. All his attempts at Embers are caught up by the swirling torrent of air and harmlessly dispersed.

“Wait for it to come to you,” I tell Inferno. He stands his ground, waiting as the tornado disperses and the Pidgeotto starts charging forward. “Now!” Inferno sends more Embers flickering towards his opponent, knocking it backwards and singeing its feathers.

“Mud-Slap!” Falkner calls. The fires are extinguished by globs of dirt that also hit Inferno, knocking him to the ground again.

“Keep at it, Inferno!” is all I say. He struggles to his feet and manages another burst of Embers. This time the Pidgeotto shrieks in pain, and Falkner recalls it before it gets any serious burns.

I heave a sigh of relief, suddenly aware again of the excited screaming from the crowd. Inferno is breathing heavily and looks pretty worn out, but he has a bigger smile on his face than I've ever seen. “You did it, Ferno!” I say, glowing with pride as I scoop him into my arms. He may be small, but he's a proper warrior.

“Congratulations,” Falkner says, smiling despite having lost. “I didn't think being a gym leader would be easy, but I also wasn't expecting to be fighting a champion during my first week on the job.” He laughs nervously.

“Well, I think you're doing a pretty great job,” I tell him, and he blushes. “My badge?” I prompt him after he makes no move to do anything else.

“Oh! Right. Your badge,” Falkner says, embarrassed. He starts digging through his pockets, eventually producing a small metal emblem. “Tessa Linden, I hereby present you with the Zephyrbadge, an, um, symbol of the skill you've shown by, uh, defeating a flying-type master!” he blurts out as if reciting a speech. Either the presentation of gym badges is more formal in Johto, or he's just trying really hard to sound professional.

“Thank you,” I say quietly as my fingers close around the badge. This one's for you, Zephyr. You never got to fight a gym battle. I don't know if you ever even would have wanted to. But you taught me a lot in such a short time. If there was ever a true flying master, it was you.

Inferno pokes me on the arm, jolting me back to the present. I smile just a little crookedly as I let him have a closer look at the badge. It's his too, of course. But there will be many after this that will belong first and foremost to him. And that's good. I can focus on him and my new team, let them have the spotlight, stop focusing so much on my past mistakes.

And focus on not making any mistakes in the future, either.


***​


Now that we've done everything we set out to do in Violet City, Inferno is just as eager to leave as he was to get there. First, though, I drag him to the Pokemon Center for some quick healing. He's not seriously hurt, but it's a long way to Azalea and I want him properly refreshed before we go.

I wait in the lobby, half paying attention to two trainers who are having an argument over whose Sentret is cuter. I'm tempted to send out Hazel, who is definitely the most adorable Sentret I've ever seen, but I doubt either of them will agree with me. Before I can get involved with any silly arguments, my phone rings. I look at the caller ID and sigh, but answer it anyway.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Tessa!” she shrieks. “You're doing another league challenge? Why didn't you tell me? Is that the adorable Cyndaquil you keep talking about? Elm let you have it?”

“I didn't mean to do another League challenge, it just kind of happened,” I explain, filling her in on Inferno but not Chomp and Silver. She doesn't need to be reminded that I'm a careless person who always lets Pokemon get stolen.

“Well, I think it's very nice of you to help that Cyndaquil out, even if he's not an ideal specimen,” she says once she knows all the details I'm going to tell her. I grit my teeth. It's been a long time since I thought of Pokemon as specimens, and I don't intend to ever do it again. Training is about bonding with your Pokemon, not analyzing every last little thing about them. I don't know how she managed to win a championship with that attitude.

I don't know how I managed to win a championship when I started my last journey with that attitude.

Eventually, I realize that my mom’s still talking. “... and I'll be watching your matches, and you're welcome to come home to Celadon whenever you want a break!”

I mumble something noncommittal, say goodbye, and hang up. The idea of Celadon being home gets more ridiculous the more time I spend away from it. I'm not sure where I'd consider my home to be anymore, but it sure isn't there.

The nurse provides a welcome distraction as he calls me over to collect Inferno. The Cyndaquil leaps out of his arms and into mine without hesitation, and then we're off.

“Once you evolve, you'll be too big for me to be carrying you around like this all the time,” I say sternly. He just shrugs and snuggles closer, enjoying it while he can. Assuming he'll still be undersized when he evolves, I could manage him as a Quilava. Carrying around even a small Typhlosion, though? Impossible. He’ll probably be strong enough to carry me by then, which is a weird thought. Laurel can certainly carry me around, but I never carried her when she was just a Bulbasaur, so it doesn't feel that weird.

For now, though, Inferno is still the same little Cyndaquil I've known since he was hatched. The same, and yet different. He’s changed out here in the real world where he can grow and thrive, burning through opponents like a wildfire. The trainers are stronger here on Route 32, strong enough to not run from his fiery gaze, but that just means he gets to directly kick their butts.

I let Hazel and Isra have some battles along the way, of course, but they haven't quite mastered things yet. Hazel is still too shy to even look her opponents in the face, and she bolts whenever they do something unexpected. She's strong, though, and she's fast. When she does get attacks in, the other Pokemon are sent reeling. Isra’s sharp teeth can do a lot of damage, but only if she's able to get close enough to use them. She has no problem (echo) locating her opponents, but Zubat aren't the greatest fliers. When your opponents are either Pidgey and Hoothoot, or used to fighting Pidgey and Hoothoot, Zubat are comparatively easy to beat. Inferno has to jump in and finish some battles for both of them, but at least they're getting experience. I'll make proper fighters out of them yet.

There's no possible way we're making it to Azalea tonight. We don't even make it as far as the Pokemon Center outside Union Cave. All this battling and walking is leaving us tired out, except for Isra, who just gets more lively as the sun starts going down. Not wanting to be off in some secluded spot where anyone could be lurking, I pitch the tent in between a stretch of trees and the boardwalk that's lit up for quite a few water-type trainers and fishers.

It's a chilly autumn night, so I enlist the team to help me gather firewood. They aren't really much help, as Isra can only carry a few sticks in her mouth, Hazel gets startled anytime someone steps on a twig, and Inferno is more focused on not accidentally setting anything on fire. Nevertheless, I consider it a good team building exercise.

Having a fire type certainly saves a lot of money on matches. Once I build a fire pit near the tent and pile all the sticks in it, Inferno spits one little Ember and the whole thing is instantly ablaze. I sit on a fallen log, and the others come over to join me. Isra perches on my head, and the other two both manage to find room in my lap. I wrap one arm around Hazel and the other around Inferno. Guess they’ve finally agreed to share me.

I know I should go to sleep soon, but for now I'm content to sit out here and slowly warm up. The fire is blazing and my team is snuggled all around me, warming me right through to my heart.
I'm not entirely happy with this chapter and its cheesy ending line and the gym battle scene... but hey, it's the first gym, and things can only get better from here!

The chapter title is a line from the song this run is named after! I figured it was pretty fitting for burning through the flying gym.

Remember way back in The Scientist when I said I had so much confidence in Laurel that I used the Brock battle an opportunity to switch-train for some convenient experience? Well, I did that here too, despite those birds knowing mud-slap and my lack of a type advantage. Did it work out? Yes. Is this a good habit to get into? Probably not. :P

Some of these early chapters are feeling really short compared to the average chapter length I had towards the end of The Scientist (and definitely really short compared to the handful of 4K+ chapters coming up quite a bit later) which is annoying me... especially because I think I might need to break a chapter that we're getting to soon in half and make it even shorter, because it's a little clunky the way it is. Ugh.

Sorry if these notes are tending to be negative! I promise I’m a lot happier with most of the next few chapters.
 
Last edited:

Bowser's Family Vacation

Well-known member
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
301
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
537
Nature
Rash
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
Dragon, Cool
Pokédex Entry
"Am I Mario's babysitter? Are you going to call me every time that guy blows his nose, or what?"
Joy is threatening! To cranky pants. :P

I didn't know that Falkner's team in Crystal packs Mud-Slap... It's amazing how fate worked out for this Zephyrbadge to be so symbolic. :)

Yay for sharing the human! :D
 

cyndakip

stuck in reverse
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
103
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely ridiculous. Icon by https://rileykitty.tumblr.com!
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
@Bowser's Family Vacation That comment was pretty much the first thing I saw when I woke up and for a moment I stared at it in sleep-deprived confusion going “Nurse Joy? but I didn't mention her at all, and why would she be threatening?” XD

Luckily, it's not much of a problem for a fire starter, since it's a weak move without STAB. And I continue to be amazed by everything that fate likes to do with Zephyr! I had no idea that's what the badge was called until I did that fight. and, speaking of Zephyr...

Before we get to the chapter, I need to give a shoutout to the amazing @Zephyr_Iphis, who made this gorgeous new banner that you might have already noticed in my signature!



They also spiffed up my old banners, because they're just that much of a wonderful person! Go check out their runs if you haven't yet, because they're absolutely worth the read.

And now we can get to the chapter!

The air is still crisp in the morning, to the point that I see my breath form a haze in front of me as soon as my eyes open. It's been a long time since I woke up in a tent, long enough that the tight embrace of the sleeping bag now feels unfamiliar. Inferno has somehow managed to crawl all the way down to the bottom of it and is now warming my feet like a hot water bottle. Hazel is sprawled out on her back on top of me inside the bag, and I can see her paws sticking up in the air through the fabric. There's a little shadow visible through the roof of the tent where Isra is perched outside.

I reluctantly slide out of the warm sleeping bag, leaving the other two to crawl out after me. Inferno lets his back flames flare up as soon as he's outside and no longer runs the risk of igniting any fabric. He's not remotely bothered by the cold, but Hazel has started shivering a little, and I recall her as soon as she finishes her breakfast. Isra, being nocturnal, had gone off exploring last night. Instead of waking her, I just put her back in the Pokeball so she can continue sleeping on the way. It's a little early in the year for it to be quite this cold, so ideally we’ll still be in for some more warm days. The leaves haven't even quite started turning color yet, for Ho-Oh’s sake. I hope I didn't pick a bad time to start this journey.

The air does start to warm up as the day goes on, and I can finally take my hands out of my hoodie pockets. More trainers start to appear, too, and we fight our way through them as usual. It's a long day of walking and training, of watching the little improvements that Hazel and Isra make, of marveling at the way Inferno’s able to defeat so many rock and ground types in the cave we pass through.

It's a good day.

Evening has fallen by the time I stagger into Azalea, Inferno dozing in my arms and Isra flying energetic circles around us. Hazel, being extremely worn out, opted for her Pokeball a while ago.

The town is quiet, but many windows offer a soft and comforting glow to light my way. It's extra welcome once Inferno's flames flicker out and he starts snoring. My plan is to head right for the Pokemon Center, but I'm distracted by a rustling noise in the bushes on the outskirts of town that makes me freeze. I don't want to go looking for trouble, but what if Silver’s lurking there? What if it’s Team--

No. Stop that. Team Rocket disbanded three years ago. They're not lurking in the bushes, trying to steal my Pokemon. Besides, Isra is chittering curiously rather than sounding afraid. I take a deep breath, and end up being immensely relieved when a bug net and lavender hair catch my eye. In this town, that couldn't be anyone but Bugsy.

Azalea’s gym leader finally notices me and waves apologetically. “Did I startle you? Sorry about that.” He rustles over in my direction, and I wince sympathetically as the bushes scrape his bare legs. Out catching bugs in the bushes on a slightly chilly evening, wearing shorts? This guy's dedicated to his job.

He doesn’t wait for a response, and continues: “Come to challenge me? You certainly made quick work of Falkner, and you’ve got a fire-type, but don’t think I’ll be a pushover!”

Inferno, suddenly wide awake, flares brightly and nods at Bugsy. “Hush, Ferno,” I whisper. Now is not the time for battling. His flames die down a little, but his gaze still burns intensely as he stares at the gym leader. “Why are you out here, anyway?” I can't help but ask.

Bugsy waves his net in the air. “I'm checking on the local bug-type population. This cold snap can be hard on them, and it's my responsibility to make sure they're okay. But they seem to be coping pretty well!”

I smile at the good news and his enthusiasm, and then remember one of the reasons why I'm here. “Have you been challenged by a red-headed kid with a Totodile? Going by the name of Silver?”

Bugsy smiles. “Not yet. They showed up here yesterday, asking to train with me. I'm doing what I can to help them out.”

Silver seems like the sort of person who’d dismiss bugs as being weak, so for a moment I’m surprised that they would train with a bug-type specialist. But this is Bugsy, after all. He’s certainly proved himself to be an incredibly strong gym leader, and he’s become a pretty great role model for trans youth. I can see why Silver would be drawn to him.

“And… how are they doing? Treating their Pokemon well, I hope? Treating other Pokemon well?”

He raises an eyebrow. “Sounds like you don't have much faith in Silver. They've got some anger issues, yes, but they’re a good kid. Why the interest?” I think he knows more than he's letting on.

“That Totodile is from Elm’s lab, you know. I raised him myself. There's nothing wrong with making sure he's in good hands.” I refrain from mentioning that the Totodile was stolen from Elm’s lab, and that I didn't exactly do a great job of raising him myself.

Bugsy gives me a reassuring smile. “Don't worry so much. They'll both be okay. I've had kids in worse situations come to me, and they all turned out fine.”

Is Silver... okay?” When an angry, frightened kid in ripped-up clothes steals a Pokemon from you, you can't help but be concerned.

“According to Silver, their parents are jerks so they ran away from home. I can't get them to tell me much more than that, but it's only been a day. They’re certainly determined to train hard, that's for sure.”

I sigh. “Well, I appreciate it, Bugsy. I suppose I’ll see you in a day or two for a battle.” Inferno, unsatisfied with that declaration, squirms out of my arms and runs over to face the gym leader.

He laughs. “Are you sure about that? Your Cyndaquil seems ready to battle me right now!”

Inferno,” I scold. Inferno ignores me.

Bugsy’s grin widens. “I am the gym leader, you know. I could open up the gym right now and we could have a quick official battle. Just one on one, no huge crowds.” Inferno looks at me pleadingly.

No huge crowds is certainly appealing. And I do have a type advantage, and Inferno’s been resting for quite a while (I still have the ache in my arms to prove that), and he's been doing so much better than I expected…

“Fine. But just one on one.” Hazel and Isra aren’t quite ready for gym battles yet, anyway. Seemingly agreeing with me, the Zubat pushes the button on her own Pokeball and disappears. Inferno absolutely glows with happiness, and I scoop him back into my arms as I follow Bugsy towards the gym.

It's not late enough for the gym to be deserted. The lights are on, and a few trainers are still hanging around. They follow us inside, chattering excitedly.

“More battles today? Awesome!”

“Maybe he'll fight me next!”

“Hey, isn't that Tessa Linden? Oh my gosh, I better text everyone and tell them to get over here!”

I cringe involuntarily, and then stop myself. This is supposed to be my fun league challenge, and I shouldn't be running away from the attention. For Inferno’s sake, at least, if not for mine.

It's not even that I hate the attention. Some part of me never stopped loving it, never stopped chasing the appreciation. It just also never stops being terrifying, having all those people around to watch if I make a mistake, or if things go horribly wrong.

But that won't happen. Not today, not ever again if I have anything to say about it.

I realize I've gotten lost in my thoughts again when Bugsy bangs his net on the floor, making me snap to attention. Inferno looks back at me, burning with confidence and excitement and trust.

Not today, not ever again. We're ready.

My own fragile confidence flickers a little when the Scyther appears. It's been three years, but I haven't forgotten what it felt like to have a Scyther’s blade pressed against my neck, leaving me helpless against Team Rocket.

But it's not three years ago. This is here and now, in a safe place with a type advantage. “Ember!” I call out, not hesitating.

Inferno's not hesitating either. The fire comes easily to him now, and the Scyther is forced to start out on the defensive. It weaves expertly between the small flames, landing on its feet unscathed. The roar from the crowd is surprisingly loud for such a small group of people.

Bugsy smiles brighter as he yells “Fury Cutter!”

Inferno’s fast, yes. But the small Cyndaquil isn’t fast enough to avoid the slice of the blades, knocking him backwards. He's up in an instant, but I know the Scyther’s just getting started. The next hit will be even stronger.

We've got to strike while we have the chance. “Tackle!” I yell as quickly as possible before the Scyther can retreat. Inferno slams into it, flaring his back flames for some extra damage and twisting away quickly to avoid a counterattack.

That's a good solid hit, but the Scyther shakes it off easily. Bugsy doesn't even need to give it any orders. We all know it's going to keep up with the Fury Cutter, letting the damage stack up higher with each blow.

The next one sends Inferno flying further, hitting the ground harder, but he’s still up quickly and burning bright. The Embers hit the Scyther right on target this time. It winces visibly, but zooms right back for another attack.

Inferno’s a bit winded after the blades strike him a third time. He struggles to get back on his feet, but once he’s up, his flames flare in defiance. As he charges towards the Scyther, I can't help but wish that he could be stronger, faster. Can he win this as a Cyndaquil? He's already a little late evolving, so now would be a good time for it to happen.

As if Inferno hears me and agrees, he starts glowing with something brighter than fire. I can't stop myself from cheering, yelling with joy as a white-hot blur slams into the Scyther and clears away to reveal a small but powerful Quilava landing on graceful new feet at the other end of the battlefield.

“Congratulations!” Bugsy smiles. “But don't think this means that you've won!” The Scyther is weakened, but still standing. It goes for its most powerful attack yet, and Inferno is surprisingly slow at avoiding it, stumbling on unfamiliar paws. He gets knocked back again, hitting the ground hard this time. But his fire burns bright, and the Scyther ends up with a serious singeing in the meantime.

It drops to one knee, breathing hard, and I know the battle’s nearly over. Inferno is trying to get back on his feet, but still seems winded. I'm surprised to see the annoyance in his eyes start to morph into something I’ve never seen from him. Fear? Panic? The battle’s not lost yet, and he’s not the type to worry, so what’s going on?

Bugsy looks hesitant to give his Scyther another order, so I take advantage of the moment. “It's alright, Inferno! You've got this! Give it another Ember!” Inferno opens his mouth to breathe fire, and nothing but smoke comes out. Then he's coughing, wheezing, gasping for breath, writhing on the ground-

His expression is nothing but pure terror now, probably mirroring my own as I realize that he can't breathe. I'm screaming as I run to him, screaming for help, screaming at a shocked Bugsy and his Scyther.

“WHAT DID YOU DO? WHAT DID YOU DO TO HIM?

But there’s no answer, nothing but an agonizing silence punctuated by increasingly shallow breaths.
and now we’re getting to the exciting bits
 

Rumors

Or so they say...
Writer
Pokédex No.
258
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
130
Pronouns
male
Pokémon Type
Fire
Pokédex Entry
A Pokémon shrouded in hearsay and urban legend, spoken of only in whispered tales and hushed gossip.
"This is supposed to be my fun League challenge!"

Well, not anymore, it looks like!


Anyway, the law of narrative states Inferno survives because I don't see Tessa having the will to continue if she's taken a death of her starter so soon, or maybe at all.

But the law of Nuzlocke tropes states that, at the very least, some got critically injured here. Or a Pokemon or more died. Perhaps one of the catches that we've not seen since only two successful catches by Azalea is suspiciously low since you have like... nine attempts between New Bark and Azalea, not counting Togepi.

...I think I'm gonna lean on that Scyther getting a lucky Fury Cutter string and killing the three "not shown" catches, which translates to Inferno getting hurt here.
 

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